Friday, January 8, 2010

Thief flying across mountain

Happy 2010! It's been a while since my last post and even longer since I posted about one of my scenes. (Link to "Thief climbs up witch mountain").
I will jump ahead several scenes to the last scene of the flying sequence that I animated. I've recently found some slides that I just scanned in and which I would like to share.
In the scenes leading up to this one I had animated the Thief doing all sorts of air acrobatics. For the grand finale Dick had asked me to animate the Thief flying across the witch mountain. I remember that I really enjoyed drawing the background layout for this one. Dick had the idea of using Roy's strobing trick again.In this scene with the Cobbler Roy had spaced the round spiral elements corresponding to the spacing of the BG pan and then rotated the spirals so that they appeared to move. Dick wanted the hands to appear moving, as if they were trying to grab the Thief as he was flying by. So preparing for the layout - the first thing I did was to animate a hand doing a grabbing motion. I put registration marks on these animation drawings and xeroxed them several times, increasing and then decreasing in size to create the illusion of a round mountain. I had animated the Thief already and line-tested him with a BG-pan that consisted just of rough wiggly lines to determine how long the drawing for the pan would have to be. It turned out that it would be one of the longest pans used in the film. Then I started placing the hands on the layout corresponding to the spacing of the pan increments, just as Roy had done it, but with one difference. Dick didn't want the effect to be as exact as in the Cobbler scene, so I worked out a stagger pattern, so that the hands appeared to be shaking a bit.
Inga Davelouse turned my layout drawing into the final BG painting that you see below. She painted it in sections that were then taped together.
Here are the people from the checking department shooting the scene for a video test.

13 comments:

Joshua said...

the background's awesome! Must have been hard to work with, it being to long. :)

LM said...

I've missed seeing regular postings here. It's good to see it active again.

cute said...

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Fuzzy Duck said...

Fascinating stuff. Good to see more entries on this outstanding blog.

aaron said...

Great post! Did you create the stagger in the hands by varying the height of the hands or did you play with the spacing across the pan?

Holger said...

Aaron, I did both - displacing the hands slightly up, down, right and left in an irregular pattern.

Will Finn said...

Hi Holger. These scenes fascinate me and are major highlights of the movie IMO.

At the risk of sounding lazy: why couldn't this have been (at least in part) some sort of repeat pan?

(and yes, it does sound lazy, even to me...!)

Holger said...

Thanks for the kind words Will - and good question. Roy Naisbitt, who was everybody's mentor in regards to layout, liked a pan to have calibrations that were never completely evenly spaced. He preferred to have either a very subtle increase or decrease in speed. In this scene the hands are spaced in relation to the pan calibrations and this might have made it impossible to use a repeat pan. Dick also would not have liked a repeat on principle. In this film he went out of his way to avoid any kind of cycle.
In this scene the camera also seems to zoom in and out again. That was actually done with the BG and the animation, not by any change in field size. If you doubleclick on the photo with the painting on the floor (to get the bigger image) you might be able to see that the hands increase in size in the middle of the BG. The hands also animate, so the BG only looks repetitive but it's really constantly changing.

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Dougie said...

I can remember Inge painting some of the huge long backgrounds that Dick wanted for his fast camera pans - often requiring incredible detail for these very swift camera moves!

Claire Elizabeth said...

Hi Holge!!.....Claire Wright here! 19ish yrs then, since this scene was worked on..
you may not know, but it was me who had the 'honour' of painting the long shot of those damn hands...I think Inge did lots of the earlier hand mountain shots, and then when I started workig for the studio, I mostly painted the hands, for one and a half years!..(what took the time was the stripey brown shading, which naturally, did not even show on these panning shots)... and those funny little bushes in bright colours...(Paul Dilworth just sent me the link to this little treasure trove of happy memories) so many many thanks.. I hope Dick appreciates it all!!....I rescued an old bg of Errol Le Cain"s btw... it's been in the back of my plans chest here for ... A long time.

Holger said...

Good to hear from you Claire. Sorry for the mix up, but it has been a long time. I guess Inge did the BGs for the scenes with the Thief climbing up the mountain and I must have merged the memories. I like how mistakes on the blog sooner or later get fixed. Thank you! - and thanks to Paul for sending you the link.

Anonymous said...

Can you upload pictures of the cut scene where the thief is leaving the mountain and a stone hand with the "finger" falls down?