Research Potential- Chuck Jones- Building Character

Another avenue I wanted to explore for character development was that of Chuck Jones, looking into his contribution to the characters such as Elmer Fud, Bugs Bunny and Daffy Duck, moulding them into the characters we know and love today.

One of the big things in Jones’ work is that expresses emotion through different physical details, such as Buster Keaton and Harold Lloyd. Jones’ in particular was heavily influenced by the likes of Buster Keaton, and his traits for flickering eyes to the camera. Jones’ animation style has noteably changed over the year, moving from heavy body movements, giving the personality through ever possible avenue, to one were the emotion and attitude is given through facial animations shown in the likes of Haredevil Hare (1948).

Haredevil Hare facial expressions (YouTube, 2018).

Chuck Jones’ animation style adapts to a the one he is most recognised for- using exaggerated animations to emphasis strong reactions. I think that this is something that I could definitely apply in my character animations on Renny, the expressions where he is showing the extremities of reactions to the plot. Stepping on the toy car, being thrown in to the air with the loud music, these are instances when he is pushed to the limits, and I will investigate having the rig created to allow a slight exaggeration on the eyes and beak, at moments when has less control.

An essay on Chuck Jones’ work summed up something very interesting about his work;

“Believability is more important than realism in animation” (Peraya, D. R., 1992).

I definitely think this is something that is visited in all forms of animation, things can be made to the extreme as long as they don’t exceed people’s belief in a situation. Jones’ applies this in a lot of his shorts- especially with Road Runner and Wylie E. Coyote.

Wile E. Coyote pushed from the cliff, he pauses mid air, looking down at the height, before he falls. His head remains on screen, falling long after his body, as if not accepting that he has to fall.

The belief is here- the Wile E. Coyote does fall, but breaks the laws of physics to do so. There is the impact- showing the effect of the fall, but no immediate danger.

Jones’s use of animals in shorts stop us from essentially become in sadist in nature. We have no problem with the hurt felt by the character, due to the knowledge that he is a cartoon animal, and living with these extremes he won’t get hurt. Knowing he can go through an form of pain and he’ll bounce back. Characters feel the pain, but they’re like putty and bounce back, we can end an episode knowing full well that the character would be back ‘alive’ and unharmed in future episodes. It de-emotionalises the situation for the person, as they’ve never been through the extremes of the behaviour.

I like the idea of playing with this in my short, possibly mixing this with the feeling of a forth wall, as if the character is aware that he is a puppet. I like the idea of the stop motion clay coming apart and re-fixing at extreme poses, an idea that something made this world. In Jones’ Duck Amuck (1953),  Daffy’s world is used against him as the animator takes over and removes the environment that he is affiliated with, causing pain and uncertainty to him. I like the idea of using this in my own short, using the knowledge to further drive the frustrations of Renny.

Looking at breakdowns for how Jones’ worked on Bugs Bunny, he made him so not to be the instigator of trouble, Bugs actually wanted to be left alone, only actually retaliating when someone took him on.

“Bugs needs a reason for combat, but if he is pushed to war, he will win” (Peraya, D. R., 1992).

I think this would be the case of my character too, were he acts pretty normal but retaliates, his enemy more being his actions and his environment. For example, stubbing his toe without paying attention, his lack of awareness being his enemy here.

Additionally, one of the key aspects of Jones’  shorts is the identification of character and the ability to relate to them, despite being in weird situations. When we look at the likes of Bugs Bunny and Daffy Duck, although they look like a like a rabbit and a duck, they are nothing like those animals. Their personalities and character are developed so extremely, their outer form is irrelevant, and are in fact based on Jones himself and people he has met. This is something I think would be key when developing Renny’s character. Not giving him a human face, people can look past that aspect and see their personalities and traits in this bird character. This would also allow both adults and kids to relate to Renny, much like Jones’ characters.

Definitely looking into the aspects of Chuck Jones’ character development has really helped me with moulding Renny’s character- considering how he should react to the environment around him, what sort of relationship he has, and how this would effect his physical movement.






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