Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Who Framed Donald and Daffy? -- Shot Flow II

Kevin continues with his second post regarding Donald and Daffy's dueling pianos:

In the last post, I broke down the primarily live-action shots in Who Framed Roger Rabbit that lead into the the piano duel between Daffy and Donald. Those shots demonstrated straight-forward film-making and clear shot flow, at least among the shots where human actors were the focus. Here I’ll break down the subsequent animated portion of the piano duel, where the usual rules of good film-making are tossed out the window ...

[N]otice how this sequence is very carefully told from Eddie Valiant’s point of view, except for the main sequence of the piano duel. We follow him into the speakeasy, looking over his shoulder, seeing what he sees; we note the stage and then the bar from his point of view; we later see Jessica Rabbit’s ‘reveal’ through his eyes. Yet the piano duel violates his POV at every turn ...

Read both posts at the links above.

5 comments:

Larry Levine said...

Chuck Jones originally layed out this scene during the film's early pre-production & one can only dream how much better his version would have been . Even though Chuck was listed as a creative consultant, he (and Friz Freleng) had VERY few kind words for ol' Roger.

PS: The Jones layouts can be viewed on the WFRR 2-disc DVD.

Anonymous said...

How ironic that this visually chaotic, incomprehensible, leaden scene was originally layed out by a master who was famous for his clarity and timing! Jones even said that the effectiveness of a gag might depend on the addition or subtraction of a single frame. How frustrating it must have been for him when he saw the final scene!

Mark Kausler said...

As to Chuck Jones version of the Daffy, Donald sequence in WHO FRAMED ROGER RABBIT? being better than what Joe Ranft, Bob Zemeckis and myself came up with, here's the story in a nutshell: Chuck worked for weeks on his version with some help from Dick Williams, but his board was mostly about Daffy and Donald coming out on stage and bowing to the audience. Crickets chirped for Daffy, wild applause greeted Donald, the usual late Warner Bros. Chuck Jones gags. Bob Zemeckis and Stephen Spielberg thought this treatment was lacking in energy, so they assigned the sequence to Joe Ranft and I to punch it up. We turned it into a piano duel, with all the dynamite gags and Daffy and Donald completely wrecking the pianos. The cannon gag was in there, but I don't remember just where in the sequence it was when we were boarding it. Our staging was pretty straightforward, no fancy cutting or crossing the axis, mostly two shots with the focus on the characters. When D.P. Dean Cundy set up the live action "plates", it had to be carefully determined what was cartoon and what was live. Some of the gags were modified or lost to accomodate the rigged real pianos and the set. The final cutting and staging was Dean's and Bob Zemeckis. Bob's mantra was "keep 'em in the air"! He didn't want to use any time in having the ducks bow to the audience, just have them in constant motion from the opening shot. It's hard to apologize for the frenetic cutting and camera movement so many years after the fact, but, hell, that's what yanked the crank in them days! By the way, Dave Spafford did some of the really zany Daffy scenes where he plays the piano with chicken carcasses and the like. I did a scene or two of Donald's tail playing the keyboards. I don't think Bob Zemeckis cared one whit about "The Five C's" here, he just wanted ENERGY, nothing else. It was a real delight to board this stuff with Joe Ranft, I'll never forget it. By the way, don't judge the finished shots from the frame grabs shown here, they are way too dim, the original footage was much brighter and easier to read despite all the axis crossing.

Kevin Koch said...

Hey, Mark, that's fantastic information. Would you mind if I reposted it on my blog, with the two posts I did breaking that sequence down?

I would have loved to have seen the version you and Joe Ranft boarded up on the screen. I'll bet it would have had all the energy and fun, and been much easier to follow.

Mark Kausler said...

Go ahead and use any of my comments on your blog, Kevin, glad that you liked them.

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