Tuesday, October 03, 2006

Tales From Ward K. IV -- Norm Ferguson

Norm Ferguson was one of Walt Disney's early, top-drawer animators. A supervising animator on "Snow White," directing animator on "Cinderella," "Alice in Wonderland," and "Peter Pan," among others, he worked at Disney over thirty years.

"Fergy" died in 1957, two months past his 55th birthday. Here Ward Kimball remembers him...

Ward Kimball: Norm was a natural, quote, animator. He saw everything in movement. Now he wasn't a great artist; if he had been he would have been untouchable. He had this great flair for timing -- he was the first animator to employ timing and to achieve better comedy. The flypaper sequence with Pluto was the first time an animator had timed anything like that out of what the character was thinking. (You could see the wheels going around as Pluto tried to extricate himself from the paper.)

Norm drew very fast. He'd whip out a sheet so fast you could hardly understand the numbers. You saw his stuff, you felt it... He made just a few lines on a drawing. If he had to commit himself to the complete drawing, he wasn't able to do it. But he had this spontaneity. He would get this and so we always had to make sure that Norman Ferguson had a good assistant who could interpret these---no, re-interpret these few lines into a finished drawing where the inkers could trace, and you could paint.

You had to be talented to be Norman Ferguson's assistant -- to make sure that the spontaneous animation he was creating got on the screen the way he saw it. So when he would draw Gideon and the Fox ("Pinocchio") he would have four or five lines. If you saw some of the roughs, they were four or five lines with a number, but it was still timing and the spacing between a head bounce or a turn that made him a real good animator.

But here again, as time progressed, Norm Ferguson was left behind because more and more, animators were called upon to make roughs almost completed and anotomically correct. And here again, we have the same problem Fred (Moore) might have had in a different way.


daleth said...

Muchas Gracias por esta nota, sin duda un gran animador!

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