Saturday, January 12, 2008

The first day in the life of an assistant animator

Like Andreas mentioned in his earlier blog, I also remember how Dick claimed he tried to cast his animators in a way how their physique fits the appearance of the characters they get to animate. While I am 6 foot 3’’, I still have both eyes, 2 rows of even teeth and do not weight 25 stones. Somehow the words “One eyes”, “Beasts of war” and “Warmachine” must have been floating invisibly over my head, because that is where my destination at “The Thief and the Cobbler” lay.

So here I was - arrived from Germany and just settled in - on my first day on the film. Armed with my own (plastic) peg bar, pencil, eraser and pencil sharpener (the manual kind that school kids use) and sure that somebody would scream “Imposter” and I would be unmasked as the talentless and clueless n00b that I was. (Sorry for using this internet term, but it is very fitting here, as you shall soon read).

After meeting Dick Williams in person, my first encounter with a proper animator was being introduced to Brent Odell. Apart from being very talented and ever patient and friendly to me, I will always remember him fondly for teaching me the word “One eyed trouser snake”. You really only have mastered a language when you can do crosswords in that language or swear like a drunken sailor. I was never one for crosswords.

The first task was inbetweening tiny elephants that were hoisted upwards inside the warmachine. They were armoured, spiked, covered in rivets and they were many. They were also to be coloured in a shade closely to the background art while lightning flashed and rain poured. And of course they were to be animated on “ones”. In fact, so many scenes were animated on ones, that at one point the entire film was renamed as “Once” – A typo, we all were sure.
By the end of my first day, I proudly presented my first three drawings to Brent, only to find out that I had inbetweened on “halves”, 3 drawings where only one was needed.

Certainly this seemingly futile exercise helped me with the many scenes that followed.


Holger said...

Halves, that's funny. The good thing is that it gave you some original drawings of your scene for your collection.

About your imposter bit, I remember sitting with you on the sofa downstairs in Ian Cook's area and you said to Dick jokingly expressing your worry that we might get fired after a few days.
He answered quite sincerely and told us not to worry about getting fired, that he is very good in judging potential in aspiring artists and that he had confidence in us. Nice.

Dietmar said...

Indeed. That scan is one of the drawings from the very first day.

Brings back great memories and hopefully more stories about the warmachine soon. Me and my wife have been looking at photos from 138 and the forum (and the place where I&P was situated) and I have also been sorting through the drawings that I liberated from the waste paper baskets.

I am sure they shall find their way to the blog.

Andreas said...

Hi Dietmar,
great to see a picture of you. look at you, all svelte with keanu reeves's been far too long. hearing the stories, it feels like yesterday. I think we all had that feeling of inadequacy. i always thought someone would tap me on the shoulder one day and sorry, theres been a mistake. you cant draw at all.

Hilary Moses said...

Hello Holger!
Speaking of animation assistants - you might not remember me (my maiden name was Denny) but I remember doing your teeny weeny polo ponies for about three months (or what felt like it) I have never used a 4H pencil again and I am only just getting the feeling back in my left thumb :) Anyway amazing to stumble onto your blog. Funny how a film that was such a long time ago still has such a deep influence. I am working on a short film right now that is inspired by my time on the Thief. The joy of endless repetition -
Check it Out :
Thanks for sharing