11 September 2007

Ron Campbell - Part 2 - Mémoires d'une légende de l'animation

Owner of and president of Filmsense, Inc., Mr. Campbell has been a force in the field of animation for the past four decades and is currently directing episodes of Cartoon Network's Ed, Edd and Eddy after having finished work on the storyboards for Stuart Little II. Campbell began his animation career in the early 1960s animating Beetle Bailey, Krazy Kat and Cool McCool for King Features as well as The Saturday Morning Beetles. He is one of a handful of animators who worked on both the film Yellow Submarine and TV series, The Saturday Morning Beetles. Campbell went on to write and produce cartoons for the Children's Television Workshop, the progenitor of Sesame Street on PBS. As president and founder of Ron Campbell Films from 1973 to 1978, Campbell, in 1976, won his first Emmy Award and a John Foster Peabody Award for Best Children's Show for his production of The Big Blue Marble. After this and during the 1980s, Campbell drew the majority of the storyboards for Hanna-Barbera's The Smurfs, including creating the character of Papa Smurf. Smurfolympics brought Campbell his second Emmy Award. He also contributed to the success of that '80s phenomenon, The Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. The 1990s found Campbell working at Disney TV Animation where he was responsible for animation direction for Bonkers, Goof Troop and Darkwing Duck. As a noted storyboard artist throughout his career, he also contributed to the Klasky-Czupo Nickelodeon shows, The Rugrats, Rocket Power and Duckman. During this decade, Campbell received an Emmy nomination for his storyboard work on Ahh! Real Monsters. Married since 1962 to Engelina, Campbell and his wife moved to the United States in 1967 and became citizens in 1976. They make their home in the American southwest.

Can you tell me about the different techniques you used? How long did you spend on a drawing? On one episode? How many drawings do you think you've drawn as an animator? (Thousands, millions?)
The work I did on Scooby-Doo was all in pencil. Primarily storyboard work, but I do recall animating some in the early seventies and I think my studio, Ron Campbell Films Inc., might have sub-contracted some too, but memory fails me here. I could be mistaken.
As an animator one works primarily drawing what we call 'roughs', which is a loose rough drawing possibly in blue pencil that is 'cleaned up' by an assistant animator in preparation for 'inbetween' drawings being drawn by assistants or inbetweeners.
Storyboarding in those days was a lot less detailed than storyboards are done today, with a lot less attention to drawing 'on model' or even to scale. This was possible because we did careful and complete layout drawings in preparation for the animator. Much of this work is now done today by the storyboard artist.
For an animator to calculate the number of drawings he has done in his career is to ask him to first take a fistfull of Aspirin. It doesn't bear thinking about unless one is ready for the loony-bin. How can one do so many drawings and still live? You must calculate not just the number of inbetween drawings you did while learning to animate, you must also calculate the uncountable number of drawings you did as an aninimator and the even more uncountable number of drawings you did that you had to throw away. Then there is the complexity of the drawings. For example, the first job I ever had when first hired as an inbetweener was to do hundred of inbetweens of a caterpiller dying from a bug spray, each drawing had a caterpiller with a hundred legs and each leg had to be drawn...one at a time...carefully...
No. The question is unfair, and cruel, and I shall discuss the matter no more.

Are you still in contact with some people of the Scooby Doo Team?
All my friends and many colleagues are dead or long since retired and disappeared into the wide open spaces of the American West. Write to Gerard Baldwin he might have some memories especially of the Smurfs (I worked with him on that) and perhaps he did stuff on Scooby. He might know others because he worked in the studio much more than I did as I had my own studio through a lot of this time period.

What persons did you meet that influenced or impressed you the most, personally and professionally?
Can you tell me about your work for Disney (Bonkers, Goof Troop, Darkwing Duck)? Was the work there different from the other studios? Why?
Iwoa I had a lot of respect for, and Bill Hanna of course. Nick Nichols rates very high in my esteem and I worked with him at Disney's also, on Darkwing Duck. Bob Dranko was a great talent as a designer, and Cliff Roberts was brilliant as an ideas man and writer. Piere Culliford was a terrific artist (Peyo, creator of the Smurfs) and a very creative mind, and Yvan Delport was just this side of brilliant if you reserve the word brilliant for people like Einstein and Sir Isaac Newton. Shall I go on? I forgot to mention you Bernard, sorry. And Duane. Then there is Fred Crippen and Fred Calvert, and Phil Mendez and ... Norm and Al and Phil and Barry and and on and on....
When I ponder these old friends of mine I grow wistful, and wonder at my luck at what good friends and colleagues I have had...
Not much difference in the studios. It's always people who made the films for TV and the people often went from one studio to the next as projects were born or died.

This is an original painted drawing by Ron Campbell framed with vintage 45 rpmrecords and signed by Ron Campbell. The records are "I Want To Hold Your Hand" and "Yesterday"

How did you manage to weave yourself within the spirit of all these series, that are so different? Did you have any "Bible"? How did you work with execs and producers?
Every show has a 'bible' which is a guide that disparate writers must have to bring them all together writing about the same characters. Some shows one avoids because of personal inadequacies or even disdain, but if one is out of work one soon drops disdain and gets off the high horse. On the other hand I managed to work mostly on shows I loved, frequently giving up almost a decade of life for each. Such is the life of an old animation hack in Hollywood.
Never met a producer I didn't like. I was myself a producer, producing the animation for the children's TV show The Big Blue Marble, and other things.

What was the importance of music (score) in your work? In humor? In emotions?
VERY IMPORTANT especially in the Big Blue Marble.

Do you have favorite composers you worked with? Would you please share some memories with us?
It is many years now since I worked directly with musicians, and when I did so it was as a producer/director. Music for children is a wonderful field for musicians and a master of the form was a friend of mine (if I can drop a name) now passed, Joe Repozo, whom I first met while doing early Sesame Street shows. He composed the opening song to Sesame Street, a tune played on TV here in the USA every day for over thirty years now. He later did the music for us on a French/Canadian film I was line-producing called Smoggies, a show created by another friend just this side of genius, Gerry Potterton of Quebec. Like Woody Allen's girlfriend in Manhattan, I seem to know a lot of geniusus...
I fondly remember producing a rock opera for the story of King Midas with the golden touch, kissing his daughter good morning he reacts in horror, singing to a rock beat: "Oh, No!- What is this?- I have a golden daughter with just one kiss!!" Lyrics by Cliff Roberts, music and sung by Ted Neeley who had just played Jesus in Norman Jewison's film Jesus Christ Superstar. For some reason I still smile at those silly little words that seemed to tell the whole story...

Yellow Submarine
This is an original painted drawing by Ron Campbell framed with a vintage 45 rpmrecord and signed by Ron Campbell.Multiple Emmy Award-winning animation director, Ron Campbell was born in Seymore, Victoria, Australia in 1939.

What was the importance of music (score) in your work? In humor? In emotions?
The Beatles were important in my early work, as I directed many episodes of the TV show in the early sixties and also segments called 'sing-alongs' -- bouncing ball stuff to early Beatles songs. I remember I Want To Hold Your Hand depicted as an octopus holding the Beatles wearing diving suits playing the song underwater...bizarre....

What would you suggest/advice young artists you want to succeed in the animation business? What training, what kind of personality.... Would you encourage them to do this job?
Young animator:- No matter how much your computers can do for you, learn to draw, paint, and design...study the masters and the moderns, read every day, study film, all kinds of film good bad and indifferent, but above all study literature.

Have you any projects to come?
Would that I did, but time has passed me by and I find peace now in painting Pop Art based on shows I have in one capacity or another had a hand in making. People like to sell them and buy them, and I like to paint them. We are all happy.

What are the three questions you’d like to be asked, and what would be your answers?
And what are the three questions you wouldn’t to be asked, and why?

This is a cute question. You want me to ask the questions AND give the answers??? Where did you get the idea for this question? The Devil?
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