Memorabilia from Moor Hall

Since we started this "Memories of Moor Hall," various people have made contributions or copies of documents and photos. They are presented below. We have re-typed the major documents and reproduced as photographs the smaller items.Contributions are much appreciated, as they will allow students of Britain's golden age of animation to have a better understanding of a bygone era, and allow reminiscing by the mature generation who still remember the talented people at GB Animation at Moor Hall, Cookham, UK

TWO MOOR HALL VETERANS -- Researcher Bob Egby talks with animator/producer Bill Clarke in Ottawa, Canada. Mr. Clarke who was trained as an animator at Moor Hall, has an extensive history in animation and film production in Canada. He provided the document that follows below.

GB ANIMATION FUNCTIONAL REPORT -- From the Bill Clarke in Ottawa Collection.

NOTES FOR THE CLEAN-UP ARTIST -- From the Edwin (Eddie) Sharp Collection.

From the Bill Clarke Collection.






It is this Department that the idea for a Cartoon film is born. When a new production is required a group of story men will be set to work to produce themes and ideas for a story. The ideas of all these men, which are presented in illustrated form, then form the subject of a story conference, at which the Supervisor of the Story Department, with the Story men, will criticize the various ideas and decide on the outline and theme for the future production.

The unit of story men will then all work on the one main theme, producing the ideas and "gags" necessary to implement the main theme of the story. These ideas will then be the subject of further Conferences, until finally the the story is ready to go into production. Each unit of story men will normally consist of men with different types of talent so that some will concentrate on layout and background aspect of the story, others on building up the temperament and characteristics of the characters in the story, and yet others specializing in and introducing szuitable "gags". Dialogue in the film is also in the main the responsibility of the Story Department.

The story, when complete is handed over to the Director who will be in charge of production. It is in the form of a sequence of small drawings illustrating the keypoints of the story and mounted on a portable board known as the Story Board.

It is the Director who is responsible for the film through all the stages of production up to its final appearance as a complete film.

His first task, if the film has dialogue in it, or if action is to be syncronised to sound, is to have the sound or dialogue recorded on film. The track of this film is then "read" and marked down on a "track sheet" in such a way that the exact timing and duration of each vowel, consonantor sound may easily be seen. With this aid the Director proceeds to time out the action for the entire film, at the same time breaking it down into different scenes of specific lengths and planning what means he will use to progress from one scene to another; whether by means of a "cut" or "fading" or "mixes" etc.; he will also decide whether characters are to be seen in "close-up" or "long shots".

It is at this stage that the exposure sheet is called into use. There are one or more exposure sheets for each scene (according to its length) and in one column of the sheet the Director marks down the "timing" of the action occurring in that particular scene. The Director will then call in the "Lay-out" man.

The "Lay-out" man is responsible to the Director for the staging of each scene, particularly with regard to the mechanics; that is the relationship between the movement of characters seen from an artistic point of view and the considerations of reproducing that movement with the camera.

He is also concerned in some degree with the continuity angle of the film, ensuring that the setting of one scene, or the action in it, does not conflict with that of another scene. When he has decided his staging he will make two drawings of the scene. The first is an outline drawing, accurate as to line, which the Animator will use as a background on which to create his movement. This drawing will also have indications of camera movement on it.

The second, known as a "rendered" lay-out, is a fully shaded pencil drawing from which the background artist will paint his backgrounds. The "Lay-out" man will also follow through with the Background artist on the question of colours and tones to be used in the various settings.

The Bacground Artist produces in colour the backgrounds to be used in the final filming of the production. These are normally executed in water colour on a stiff paper surface, although at times other mediums may be used for special effects. He is also normally concerned with the making of any titles for the film.

When the "Lay-out" of a scene is ready the Director calls in the "ANIMATOR" or "KEY ARTIST" he has selected to animate the scene. The Animator will be chosen according to temperament, some having skill for personality action or detailed work, others showing aptitude in broader action or heavier movement. The Director discusses the scene with the Animator, indicating the outline of the action he requires, and hands over to the Animator the exposure sheet for the scene together with the lay-out sketch. The Animator then works out in detail the exact movement of each of the characters to reproduce the action and the feeling of the scene. He then makes a series of drawings in rough at key positions for each of the characters.

Each drawing is numbered and the number of drawings is marked down on the exposure sheet in their correct sequences and intervals. The Animator then gives his drawings, with the exposure sheet, to another artist known as an "IN-BETWEENER". This artist, as his name suggests, makes the drawings for the action inbetween the key positions made by the Animator; the number of such drawings to be interpolated so as to produce smooth action is decided by the Animator. These inbetween drawings are also numbered in accordance with the key drawings, and the numbers recorded on the exposure sheet.

These drawings are all executed in pencil on white paper which is punched with a pattern of holes which fit over similar pegs on the desk of every artist and the cameras. This is in orderthat the drawings or series of drawings may always be in perfect registration wherever they are moved in the studio.

When the rough drawings of a scene are complete they are filmed and then viewed by the Director and the Animator, who analyse the action, both for smoothness and for effect. If the Director or Animator decide that corrections are needed, these are made and the scene is filmed again. Then the scene is finally passed as O.K. by the Director, the drawings are given to a third artist known as a "CLEAN-UP" man, who cleans up the rough drawings, making them into sharp outline drawings. When this is done, the scene is again filmed for final approval, this being given by the Director. The scene, if no effects animation is required, is passed to the "CHECKING DEPARTMENT" and the film is cut into a length consisting of all the final line tests of the production. This length of line tests is used for synchronising any sound effects that may be required, and also for the scoring and timing of the music.

Effects Animation is on the whole, self-explanatory, but it may fall into one of two categories; firstly, effects to be added to an existing scene: examples of this might be, smoke rising from a fire, the fire itself, an explosion or rain effects. This type will be added to the drawings already made by the Animation Department. Secondly, some scenes may consist entirely of effects such as a long animated cloud sequence, or water, or starlight effects, etc. These would be executed entirely by the Efects Animation Department.

All scenes when finally passed by the Director in the Animation Department are moved to the Checking Department. It is the job of the checker to go through each scene completely and in detail, checking it against the exposure sheet to ensure that no drawings are missing, that the Animator has written all the directions necessary to the camera crew and generally to make certain that the scene is in a complete state for eventual final shooting. The scene is then passed to the "Inking and Painting Department".

In the early stages of production the Director has called for colour models of the characters in his film. He has decided on the colours to be used for these characters under all circumstances, such as in bright sunlight, in the shade and at night time; this enables the final range of colours to be selected for the painting, thus enabling the final stages of production to go through smoothly.

When a scene arrives in the Inking and Painting Department from Checking, each separate drawing is traced in outline on the "front" of a sheet of non-inflammable celluloid known as a "cel" which is punched with the same holesa as paper for registration purposes. These cels then have the colours applied on the "back" in a special opaque paint. One cel does not have all the colours applied at the same time; instead, one colour is applied to a series of cels, then, by which time the first colour has had time to dry, a second colour is applied to the same series, and so on until the the series and colours are complete. When the Inking and Opaquing is complete the scene is again checked and then passed to the Camera Department with its appropriate background.

All cameras in the Camera Depratment are of the type known as "stop motion", that is to say they are capable of making single exposures. When a scene arrives for shooting, the camera is first all set up according to instructions set out on the exposure sheet. The process of shooting the scene, while involving numerous technical problems, consist basically of photographing the series of drawings in the scene superimposed upon the background and exposing each drawing for one or more frames, according to the directions given by the Animator on the exposure sheet.

Thus, while the background remains in position and underneath the camera, which is mounted vertically above it, one set of drawings is placed above the background and an exposure made, those drawings removed, another set imposed on the background, another exposure made, and so on.

Horizontal and lateral movements are reproduced both by moving the camera itself and by moving the table on which the background is set. Thus the camera is moved down towards the table to produce the effect of closing up, but where the camera appears to be travelling from left to right across the background, it is in effect the background being moved from right to left across the camera. The scene when completely exposed is developed and printed and a print of the picture is sent to the Cutting Room.

During the latter stages of production the Director has had recorded on sound film, with the aid of the line test length of the complete film, the orchestral music and any sound effects he may require, each on a separate track. Prints of the tracks have been received by the Cutting Room.

The cutter takes prints of all the separate scenes in the film, cuts them to the appropriate length and joins them together in sequence to make a complete picture track of the film. He then takes the three tracks, which are, music, dialogue and sound effects, and marks each track so that it will run in perfect synchronization with the others. These tracks are then re-recorded to produce a single track of all three combined. This track is then synchronised with the picture track and finally a single strip of film is produced with both picture and sound on it.

The picture is now complete.

(End of document)

Note: The above document is reproduced as it was written at G.B. Animation. We have put some paragraph breaks in to improve readability. It was type-written on foolscap paper. There is no indication of author or date but it was most likely used as a new employee initiation document for incoming artists and technicians arriving at Moor Hall Studios in the early days. This document is from the Collection of Bill Clarke an animator at Moor Hall, who later emigrated to Canada where he used his animation skills at Crawley Films in Ottawa and later became an independent animator and producer. He lives in Ottawa.

From the Edwin (Eddie) Sharp Collection.

Note: The following drawing sheet and the "Notes for the Clean-Up Artist" were among papers submitted by Mrs. Carol Gandy, daughter of Edwin (Eddie) Sharp who was a Clean-up Artist at Moor Hall. They were found in an old cigar box hidden for years in the bottom of a wardrobe. Eddie died in 1994. Apart from the date, May 1947, there is no indication who the author might have been, although the typing characteristics are identical to the organisational document above. Authors may have given both documents to the one typist.

A demonstration clean-up drawing sheet from the Eddie Sharp Collection


A "Clean-Up Artist" is the intermediary between the Animator and the Inking and Opaquing Artist. In some respects, he resembles the Diamond Polisher, the person responsible for bringing out the hidden fire and beauty of the precious stone. The "Cleaner-Upper" has practically the same function. In every way he should endeavour to improve the work of the Animator; Form, Action, Timing, are all there to be improved or marred.

He should not work without consideration for the Inkers and Opaquers; an appreciation of their difficulties and a little thought given to the matter of how best these difficulties can be overcome, is of the utmost value to them. As an example, he may, and should, put notes on "Clean-Up Drawings" to help the Inkers; notes that will lessen the possibility of confusion regarding colour areas or space; then again, much time can be saved by considered use of line, as long as this consideration does not interfere with the Animation. By "considered use of line" one has to realize that minute "Colour Areas" are difficult to fill with paint and tiny spaces are just as difficult to avoid with colour, but if a little thought is given to the placing of a line, these troublesome areas can be avoided at times. Take for instance the inside of a bent arm passing the back line of a body, judicious use of line could avoid creating a tiny space. Similar instances can occur with colour areas, BUT, one MUST understand that the quality of the Animation should not be spoilt in any way.

Regarding the actual "Clean-up Drawing": One could best describe a "good Clean-Up" as being, "A drawing that embodied the maximum amount of excellence at a minimum of cost" -- the time factor representing "cost".

A "good Clean-Up" as applied to "Slow Acion" must be excellent in evey respect, the time element being of secondary important.

By contrast, very "Fast action" can be produced in the very minimum of time, niceties or purity of line for instance are of less importance. Such incidentals as eyelashes, high-lights on eyes, finger nails, etc., (all costly to produce) can be dispensed with at times. A "Good Clean-Up" of a "Fast action" would seem to be useless shown as a static sketch, but used as a part of a series of such drawings, it should be excellent, in other words, "Excellence at a minimum of cost".

May, 1947

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