Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Gigantic Cels

This just came in from Brian Riley in regards to yesterday's post and the palace gates:
“I dimly recall those scenes - I do remember John and I having long discussions about the water ripple reflections in the moat, doing multiple tests as always and I remember that he came up with a solution (as he always did) that satisfied Dick. Don't ask me exactly what that solution was, certainly some sort of double exposure with panning mattes, probably with a back lit, diffused and gelled reflective surface beneath the table but I could be completely wrong - I may be recalling a method we tried and rejected.
As to the gates, you're right, they were one of Roy's gadgets I think. In fact virtually all the larger* bg layouts had some sort of mechanical element that Roy had devised and constructed that could be reliably hand-animated under the camera over and over again. The rollercoaster scene in the War Machine you mention in your comment on Roy's city drawing for its gigantic cels was one such. But again, don't ask me for specifics as to what part and how it moved. I assumed you were talking about the scene where he crests the summit and the steep slope of the track back down opens up beneath him - he goes belting down it, the camera screaming after him to keep up, follows him in a sort of traveling down shot, then the track disintegrates and he slowly rotates in mid-air up towards the camera and then away into the distance back down into the disintegrating machine.
*When I say 'larger' - I mean larger in Thief terms, that is to say absolutely frighteningly huge in the terms of a normal animated feature - there were no small backgrounds on the Thief.”

Here are some images from this part. The animation of the cart rotating was first done in rough miniature drawings by Roy Naisbitt and then blown up to their final gigantic size and meticulously re-drawn by Raymond Guillaumet. He might have even traced it onto the cels himself. It was in his office that I saw the cels.
As I said in my comment, this part was used as a wipe to link 2 scenes together. David and Michael worked on a part of the scene before the wipe and I hope they will talk about it more.


Matt J said...

I can't begin to fathom all the techniques used in the THIEF's production-those gigantic cels are mind-boggling! And to think how the 'ARABIAN KNIGHT' version was probably finished cheaply on tiny 8 field sized drawings!

Usually when reading about the making of landmark movies it often takes away some of the magic for me but this behind the scenes blog only ADDS to the mystique of 'THIEF'!

Do you have any stories on Dick's sound editor? The scene of them talking in one of the documentaries is a classic example of 'comb-over' hair styles!!

Holger said...

The sound editor? Wasn't that bit terrific? It's in the Thames "The Thief Who Never Gave Up" documentary.
Amazing how Dick had apparently no problem to appear genuinely ecstatic while being on camera. He would be like that at the penciltester on occasion.
But no, no stories on the sound editor.
He wasn't working there anymore.