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Old 05-10-2018, 01:56 PM   #1
pferreira
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Fred Wolf Animation Quality

One thing I've always found difficult to defend is the FW cartoon's variable animation quality during it's ten season run. The show was constantly off model. Now as we all know Toei did the first season but when the show was retooled beginning with Season 2's Return of the Shredder a style was set for every episode to follow, a style I liked the most but had trouble maintaining.

Now the problem is with all the different animation studios working on the series the show's animation never looked consistent. I'm not talking about the animation errors littered through the seasons, I'm talking about the actual look of one episode looking entirely different from another. Maybe I'm wrong but I doubt very much this was intentional but it does raise one question: why was the show so off model in design? Why did an episode like The Mean Machines or Enter: The Fly look so different to most of the other episodes of a season?

The set style of Return of the Shredder remained the same about 50% of the time right passed Planet of the Turtleoids through to Season 7 but 50% still isn't anything to brag about. Of course when you have different studios working on an animated series it won't always look perfect but next to any other cartoon from the 80s like The Real Ghostbusters or a 90s cartoon like Batman: The Animated Series it always looked like five or more studios worked on the show, not one, i.e. off model. Those shows had numerous animation studios working on episodes but the style remained consistent. I wondered what you guys thought about this?

Now I'm not saying that some of these different types of animation were bad, some of them I quite liked such as Turtles on Trial by TMS but at the end of the day that wasn't the standard set by the Season 2 premiere so you could say even TMS messed up. Curious to know what you think? Also if anyone could provide screenshots of the different animation styles that would be cool.
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Old 05-11-2018, 12:45 PM   #2
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The Fred Wolf toon’s inconsistent animation never bothered me, tbh. It was the same for other 80s/90s cartoons as well such as Adventures of Sonic the Hedgehog and Spiderman.
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Old 05-12-2018, 03:53 PM   #3
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Which other series at the same time do you think had the best animation (starting in 1983 with GI Joe and Masters of the Universe, and until animated Batman)?
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Old 05-12-2018, 04:40 PM   #4
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The not so great animation in several seasons 4 episodes makes some episodes seem worse than what they were. Like that Rondo episode, the Grybyx episode or the episode of that guy who made and collected wax figures of Turtle related stuff.
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Old 05-12-2018, 05:45 PM   #5
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The Fred Wolf toon’s inconsistent animation never bothered me, tbh. It was the same for other 80s/90s cartoons as well such as Adventures of Sonic the Hedgehog and Spiderman.
That's the thing, those shows had episodes that looked consistent. The quality may have been all over the place but the show was never totally off model in design.

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Which other series at the same time do you think had the best animation (starting in 1983 with GI Joe and Masters of the Universe, and until animated Batman)?
I'm sure sure which had the best but all unlike TMNT were never as off model in visual design as TMNT. It really is quite baffling going from It Came from Beneath the Sewers to The Mean Machines and seeing a different look and then back again.
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Old 05-12-2018, 05:48 PM   #6
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The latter of which being the WORST episode animation of the entire series, IMHO.

This show had about 3 sets of teams.

A, B, C+ and C -.

I would say C+ would be shows like The GRybnx and Super Bebop and Mighty Rocksteady, or Son of Return of the Fly. the models are right, but they are super cartoony and fluid frames.

A, would be episodes like Big Break In. Shredderville....Turtles Turtles Everywhere, Turtles On Trial. All on model stuff....all drawn to proportion...nothing looking weird.

B would be stuff like Donatello's makes Time. Name That Tune. Menace Maestro Please. 4 Turtles and a Baby. stuff that looks close, but moves alot more fluidly and can be off model at times to the cartoony side.

The Rare C- stuff is shows like Turtle Maniac. Repeated scenes, oddly framed shots. bad looking animation all around.
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Old 05-12-2018, 05:59 PM   #7
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I would be lying if I said I didn't prefer certain animated episodes to others (Give me Turtles on Trial anyday over most of season 4), but I didn't think the inconsistent animation was too much of a put off for a show as a whole.

It made me look forward to the next episode more (since I wondered what the animation would be like), and many episodes become more memorable because of their animation (for e.g. the squishy animation of Cowabunga Shredhead added to the comedy).

The one complaint I do have however is sound quality. For the first 3 seasons, it was pretty crisp and the background music was excellent. However, season 4 onwards the audio became pretty "blurry" and doesn't improve until late season 5 which really ruined the joy of listening to the voice actors and music for me.
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The biggest villains were the censors. What they could do without being held back is my question. Shredder could've done more than blow up the Channel Six building. I don't mean as far as murdering Splinter, but think of the possibilities if censors were not an issue. Shredder and Krang combined had the biggest arsenal of any villains in all of the cartoons.
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Old 05-12-2018, 06:08 PM   #8
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One more note of interest is that it was not until season 6 that the turtles began having a consistent look per season.

Even in season 1, there are some pretty noticeable differences between the look of the turtles when comparing episodes.

Seasons 2 and 3 were the worst offenders with some episodes looking like they're not from the same season at all. (e.g. Return of the technodrome and Return of the Fly).

Seasons 4 and 5 became a bit more consistent with 2 major animation styles employed rather than a million, one animating the more realistic looking episodes like My Brother The Bad Guy and Planet of the Turtleoids and the other making more cartoony episodes like Hokum Hare and the Muckman episode.

Season 6 and 7 look consistent all throughout. Season 8 then changes the aesthetic completely but the look per season stays the same until the end of the show.
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The biggest villains were the censors. What they could do without being held back is my question. Shredder could've done more than blow up the Channel Six building. I don't mean as far as murdering Splinter, but think of the possibilities if censors were not an issue. Shredder and Krang combined had the biggest arsenal of any villains in all of the cartoons.
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Old 05-12-2018, 06:26 PM   #9
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Originally Posted by FredWolfLeonardo View Post

Even in season 1, there are some pretty noticeable differences between the look of the turtles when comparing episodes.
In season 1, Michelangelo's bandana looked more yellow than orange.

Also, Donatello's bandana seems to change between light and dark purple throughout the entire show.

As for season 1 animation, I kinda like the Japanese vibe of it. Which is fitting for a show about ninjas and with a main Japanese villain.
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Old 05-13-2018, 05:34 AM   #10
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The latter of which being the WORST episode animation of the entire series, IMHO.

This show had about 3 sets of teams.

A, B, C+ and C -.

I would say C+ would be shows like The GRybnx and Super Bebop and Mighty Rocksteady, or Son of Return of the Fly. the models are right, but they are super cartoony and fluid frames.

A, would be episodes like Big Break In. Shredderville....Turtles Turtles Everywhere, Turtles On Trial. All on model stuff....all drawn to proportion...nothing looking weird.

B would be stuff like Donatello's makes Time. Name That Tune. Menace Maestro Please. 4 Turtles and a Baby. stuff that looks close, but moves alot more fluidly and can be off model at times to the cartoony side.

The Rare C- stuff is shows like Turtle Maniac. Repeated scenes, oddly framed shots. bad looking animation all around.
See that's all good information however we have to remember different animation studios worked on different episodes. For instance Fred Wolf Dublin or France's animation was always worse than outsourced stuff. I would assume the above only applies if it was the same animation studio working on the show like Toei. Again I don't mind some of different animation quality like TMS work (e.g. Turtles on Trial) even though it's off model in colour and design but it's still not right and considering TMNT was in the exact same position as a lot of other independent studio cartoons I wonder how come those were consistent in design.

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Even in season 1, there are some pretty noticeable differences between the look of the turtles when comparing episodes.
As mentioned elsewhere from what I heard A Thing About Rats was animated by Toei's C team while Hot Rodding Teenagers from Dimension X was animated by Toei's A team.

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Season 6 and 7 look consistent all throughout. Season 8 then changes the aesthetic completely but the look per season stays the same until the end of the show.
Agreed, Season 6 and 7 were pretty consistent to the style of Season 2 and CBS Season 4 episodes.
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Old 05-13-2018, 05:53 AM   #11
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As for season 1 animation, I kinda like the Japanese vibe of it. Which is fitting for a show about ninjas and with a main Japanese villain.
Maybe we can get a Japanese-produced, original TMNT series one day?
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Old 05-18-2018, 02:18 PM   #12
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Maybe we can get a Japanese-produced, original TMNT series one day?
If Toei animated there's a good chance the animation style would look the same as Season 1 which isn't a bad thing.
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Old 05-24-2018, 03:54 PM   #13
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Maybe we can get a Japanese-produced, original TMNT series one day?
That's been my dream for years. In fact, I think the only decent chance we have at getting a more mature TMNT animated series is if the Japanese are ever allowed to make a TMNT anime. Unless they do something like that OVA from the 90s again...
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Old 05-24-2018, 05:27 PM   #14
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That's been my dream for years. In fact, I think the only decent chance we have at getting a more mature TMNT animated series is if the Japanese are ever allowed to make a TMNT anime. Unless they do something like that OVA from the 90s again...
As I said I think it would look more like Toei.
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Old 06-30-2018, 05:35 AM   #15
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See that's all good information however we have to remember different animation studios worked on different episodes. For instance Fred Wolf Dublin or France's animation was always worse than outsourced stuff. I would assume the above only applies if it was the same animation studio working on the show like Toei. Again I don't mind some of different animation quality like TMS work (e.g. Turtles on Trial) even though it's off model in colour and design but it's still not right and considering TMNT was in the exact same position as a lot of other independent studio cartoons I wonder how come those were consistent in design.
First off, TMS did "Turtles on Trial"? Wow, that's awesome (and news to me; I heard it was Toei who did that one)! They're one of my fav overseas animation studios, doing some work for various episodes of Fox's Peter Pan and the Pirates (1990), Gargoyles (1994), Batman: The Animated Series (1992), and ALL of Spiderman: The Animated Series (1994)!

I will say on the subject of multiple outsourced animation studios animating various episodes, that was just how it was back then, esp. with tight time-constraints. They had to get an entire season done quickly, so multiple studios were needed to complete this arduous task! I think even the 2003 TMNT toon had a few overseas studios that were used, though talking about models and all, it wasn't as obvious with the 2k3 toon that multiple studios were used because they were pretty consistent throughout. The 1987 TMNT toon and BTAS however, were more noticeable as there was less model consistency (same for PP&P and Gargoyles).
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Old 07-13-2018, 02:50 PM   #16
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First off, TMS did "Turtles on Trial"? Wow, that's awesome (and news to me; I heard it was Toei who did that one)!
That's what everybody tells me. I guess they're right.

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I will say on the subject of multiple outsourced animation studios animating various episodes, that was just how it was back then, esp. with tight time-constraints. They had to get an entire season done quickly, so multiple studios were needed to complete this arduous task! I think even the 2003 TMNT toon had a few overseas studios that were used, though talking about models and all, it wasn't as obvious with the 2k3 toon that multiple studios were used because they were pretty consistent throughout. The 1987 TMNT toon and BTAS however, were more noticeable as there was less model consistency (same for PP&P and Gargoyles).
See that's my problem, the FW series had almost different art and colouring styles between the animation studios and I wondered if this was intentional by Fred Wolf or negligence. In comparison see Batman: TAS animation comparisons on YouTube and it for the most part all looks consistent. I don't want to say Bill Wolf was slacking off and I find it odd for Fred Wolf who was integral apparently in keeping shows like DuckTales, Wuzzles and Gummi Bears on model that he could let this happen. Season 2 wasn't even a long season and that has one episode looking radically different to another. Compare The Incredible Shrinking Turtles to Mean Machines then to Invasion of the Punk Frogs to Catwoman from Channel Six. Every episode is different and I'm not sure why the animation studios didn't lock into a consistent art style.

The shows you listed that I left out of your quote from what I remember all looked stylistically the same even with different studios working on them.
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Old 07-13-2018, 03:08 PM   #17
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In comparison see Batman: TAS animation comparisons on YouTube and it for the most part all looks consistent. I don't want to say Bill Wolf was slacking off and I find it odd for Fred Wolf who was integral apparently in keeping shows like DuckTales, Wuzzles and Gummi Bears on model that he could let this happen. Season 2 wasn't even a long season and that has one episode looking radically different to another. Compare The Incredible Shrinking Turtles to Mean Machines then to Invasion of the Punk Frogs to Catwoman from Channel Six. Every episode is different and I'm not sure why the animation studios didn't lock into a consistent art style.
There are radically different animation styles on just about every Saturday morning and syndicated cartoon show from the late-80s. Tiny Toon Adventures is especially noticeable. The Real Ghostbusters had some awful looking episodes, especially among the batch that wasn't a part of their ABC Saturday morning package deals. BTAS just about always looked good, but it was rarely consistent, especially in earlier seasons. Bruce Timm remarked on a DVD commentary that the Joker was rarely "on model" in BTAS, even when the animation looked good, which was a motivating factor in the drastic redesign for The New Batman Adventures to try and simplify things for the animators. In Batman's case, even when characters were off-model, they might still have looked good, but check out some episodes like Joker's Christmas or the wonky fire attempts to animate fire in The Riddler's debut episode. In some cases, the BTAS (and later DCAU) team requested reshoots to correct problems. This occurred on other higher budget shows like Disney's Talespin and the 90s X-Men Animated Series, so there are even different cuts of episodes floating around with altered animation.

I do think that Fred Wolf TMNT became a much more consistent looking show after it made the move to CBS Saturday mornings. But for Seasons 2-4, it was trying to catering to the syndication market, and it needed to churn out episodes as fast as possible to meet the scheduling demands, so they got shopped around to various cheap studios. Then there was the Dublin group, and I think those episodes are some of the worst looking episodes of the bunch. Fred Wolf wasn't going to bother with requesting reshoots to fix mistakes or bad quality. If they did focus on quality control, it would probably be choosing not to do business with the poorer quality studios again.
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Old 07-13-2018, 03:37 PM   #18
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There are radically different animation styles on just about every Saturday morning and syndicated cartoon show from the late-80s. Tiny Toon Adventures is especially noticeable. The Real Ghostbusters had some awful looking episodes, especially among the batch that wasn't a part of their ABC Saturday morning package deals. BTAS just about always looked good, but it was rarely consistent, especially in earlier seasons. Bruce Timm remarked on a DVD commentary that the Joker was rarely "on model" in BTAS, even when the animation looked good, which was a motivating factor in the drastic redesign for The New Batman Adventures to try and simplify things for the animators. In Batman's case, even when characters were off-model, they might still have looked good, but check out some episodes like Joker's Christmas or the wonky fire attempts to animate fire in The Riddler's debut episode. In some cases, the BTAS (and later DCAU) team requested reshoots to correct problems. This occurred on other higher budget shows like Disney's Talespin and the 90s X-Men Animated Series, so there are even different cuts of episodes floating around with altered animation.
But was it really THAT noticeable in other shows? I've seen animation comparisons of Batman: TAS and the show looks pretty consistent even with different studios. Even the worst offender AKOM looked fairly okay. Yeah I agree RGB changed a little, mostly when they went the cheap route for Season 6 and 7. Seasons 4 and 5 kept the style of Seasons 1-3 but had a slightly higher budget. It still looked almost the same.

With TMNT it wasn't so much inconsistency but a totally different art style between episodes.
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Old 07-13-2018, 03:50 PM   #19
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But was it really THAT noticeable in other shows?
It was:

https://twitter.com/hfcthd/status/514583021828063233
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Old 07-13-2018, 04:44 PM   #20
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Is there a video comparison for this like the Batman one? Although as mentioned before the Batman one was pretty consistent in style across the different animation houses.
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