This is my fourth effort at animating Alfred Hitchcock film posters, and this one took a lot of time. I’m not sure if I’m going to make it all the way to my desired dozen posters by the end of the summer. This GIF is based on the 1963 theatrical release poster for The Birds and is made from 44 frames. Hitchcock enlisted the famed Disney animator Ub Iwerks to do the screen work for the film which created the effect of swarms of birds attacking actors. The birds traveling over the poster is one of his mattes used in the open credits of the film.

I hadn’t come across Iwerks before and watched a great documentary about his life and the fact that he alone designed the characters for and executed the first Mickey Mouse animation Plane Crazy.

Yes he designed Mickey Mouse for Walt Disney and created all of the first cartoons. Apparently Iwerks made Plane Crazy in two weeks – approximately 700 frames of hand drawn animation a day – alone. Insane, I thought my GIFs were hard work.

Disney and Iwerks developed the Mickey Mouse character and series after being betrayed by the rest of their animation staff, hired away by Universal Studios. They were contracted by Universal to create the highly successful Oswald the Lucky Rabbit. Universal figured they owned the rights to Oswald, so they stole Disney’s staff and fired him. Ub was the only one that didn’t sell-out and Mickey was born.

Sadly their relationship soured, and Iwerks went his own way creating his own animation studio, but it never lived up to the success of Disney (that’s obvious huh?) He did eventually return to Disney studios and moving forward worked principally on visual effects, including The Birds. It’s as if he’d come full-circle returning to creating mattes like he did for the ground breaking 1920s cartoons Alice Comedies, which was one of first live-action mattes with animation.

The longer I work on this Alfred Hitchcock poster series, I seem to be delving deeper into animation as an artform which I’m thoroughly enjoying. I’m excited to see where it takes me next – oh wait that’s Psycho – cue screeching violins in your head.