Wednesday, January 16, 2008

The Birds

One of the more vexing tasks I had for a while, was animating, and I say that in the loosest sense of the word, tiny birds traversing the arabian skies. This task was first the responsibility of Dave Cockburn and when he left the movie, it fell to me.
Dick always said that the blue sky was just paint on a background, but with birds flying around, they turned into the sky.
The birds were usually Swallow-like with a long forked tail. Dick didn't want them to flap their wings, but only glide across the skies. So I usually planned out several action paths and moved the birds along that path, more an exercise in spacing,sharpening pencils to within an inch of their lives and the patience of trappist monks.
I did this for several weeks and started to have trouble focusing and, after much hesitation, asked Dick for something else to work on, preferably something I could draw without the aid of an electronic microscope.To his credit, he complied, though for some time after,everytime he gave me an assignment, he asked: Is that big enough, can you see that? -and that was even for a full figure on 24 field... I rather took his gentle ribbing than spend my time on the movie tracing back miniature birds.
The only birds, apart from Phido, that I animated with flapping wings, were a flock of crows in the famous 'mouth to mountain'shot( see image). They were designed to cover the takeover from one background to the next. So I started animating the crows fairly big, then reduced them and the paths of action to fit the next BG and so on.My little contribution to an awesome shot, masterfully planned by Roy" patience of a saint" Naisbitt.


Anonymous said...

Seriously this is the most informative and interesting animation blog I have ever read. You guys, or someone, really needs to write a book about The Thief.

Holger said...

Is that big enough, can you see that?

That made me laugh out loud.

mark kennedy said...

I have to second what anonymous said, that this is the greatest blog ever. I really enjoy reading all of your posts, they are truly inspiring.

The idea of animating tiny gliding birds sounds momentously difficult, if they weren't allowed to flap their wings just a least once in a while!

Michael J. Ruocco said...

I agree with anonymous & Mark... awesome blog! Very informative!

It's hard enough to animate a single bird, but a WHOLE FLOCK?!

Matt J said...

I'd like to second or fourth the previous posts-even better posts this week especially the intriguing history of Mr Byers Brown.
The 'big enough' story is so funny. Keep 'em coming lads-
I'd like to know more about the camp of the ONE eye-the incredible pull back, the 'human throne', Zig Zag riding the crocodiles etc.
Also Zig Zag in the tower of bricks scene-I believe Michael animated that. I have a vague memory of seeing it on the old BBC film review show with Barry Norman-'Film...whatever!' Can you verify that? Was there a making of Thief feature shot for that show perhaps?

If you did the birds who did the flies?!

Holger said...

Thanks for the kind comments.

Matt, the OneEye camp pull back and human throne, were animated by Sahin Ersoz. Zigzag with crocodiles, by Tim Watts. I wish we could get them to talk about their scenes. Zigzag's tower by Michael. I can't wait until we hear about that one. I was in AWE.
I think Barry Norman (was it Film Now?) did a piece on the film. I also remember all of us traveling to Leicester Square where our trailer was playing in front of Highlander 3. We had to promise not to walk out and I remember Roy saying that it was the worst movie he had ever seen.

Holger said...

Flies? My first assignment... and then I got stuck with them for a while, like Andreas with birds. I'll post about that when we get to Raymond's Thief up pipes scenes.