Thursday, April 17, 2008

Throw in the kitchen

My apologies to my fellow bloggers that I have been away for so long. I shall try and contribute more in the future – but concerning the different scenes I worked on, this will be an interesting undertaking. As you will see in one of my future entries, Dick entrusted me with a scene that would keep me and 3 assistants busy for an entire year.

But for now, I will stick to the time when I finished assisting the scene “Bild” for Brent Odell, where several elephants and war-machinery were lifted up.

I was preparing to assist on the next scene, when already a re-arranging of animators and assistants happened. No sooner had I settled in at “The Forum” at Camden street, that I packed my bags and moved to the legendary “138 Royal College street”. Dick had decided that I might as well go ahead and animate my first very own scene. This was – as it turned out – part of a master plan, where we young and hungry assistants soon became junior animators and the hours that we put in voluntarily would put pressure on the other animators too.

But right now, I was in heaven. I worked in the lair of the master himself, just one floor below and on my own scene. I happily met with Dick, and he presented me with a sketch for “Kettle”:

To the "uninitiated" (me) this looked like a case of “huh?” But as the image below shows, Roy Naisbitt clearly read Dick’s intentions and as usual created a beautiful layout.

Today, in times of computer animation and programs like “Massive”, known from Lord of the Rings, even the armies of the Mighty One-Eye would be laughably small. But in 1990, we only had the mighty “Xerox” and patience on our side. The “2.5-D perspective” of the artwork really was a benefit here, as it meant we (warmachine) animators could cheat perspectives in complicated scenes like these and with all the FX going on and the fast cutting, we could get away with placing and tracing many characters.

When hand-drawing a tray with 40 one-eyes that gets destroyed by a rocket, impaling many soldiers and throwing the others to the abyss over 75 drawings time just flies by..and before you know it, 3 weeks are over….



Wow! Amazing that there's far more detail in these characters than will register on most screens.

Dietmar said...

Yes, indeed. The love to detail oozes from every scene. Maybe on High resolution DvDs it will all come out one day (we can dream) and ofc we had fun putting in little details everywhere. "Stainless steel Solingen" is carved into the weapons of many cannons as they are hoisted up while the warmachine is build for example....

Holger said...

I was born in Solingen but I didn't remember that.
Was that your idea?

Dietmar said...

Yes of course :)

Always ready for silly things

Anonymous said...

This film should have been shot in 70mm! :O

Holger said...

The Thief was shot in Cinemascope with anamorphic lenses to compress it left/right onto 35mm film.
This gave us a very good resolution, the film looked absolutely gorgeous on the big screen.
Cameraman Brian Riley: "...there were 70mm cameras back then obviously but I doubt if anyone was ever mad enough to put such a vast and expensive piece of machinery on a rostrum column and shoot animation with it.
...I'm sure they could make a great modern high resolution DVD out of the available 35mm Thief negative - possibly with a bit of judicious digital tweaking and restoration to bring out the best bits."

edhead said...

Wow awesome stuff! Just wondering- did everyone work top pegs or could you mix and match according to your own personla preferences?

Holger said...

Top pegs were not mandatory, although Dick preferred them. Sometimes it depended on which character you were working on. Ken Harris always used top pegs, Art Babbit preferred bottom pegs. So the Thief scenes were top pegs, while a King scene could be bottom pegs. I think if Dick worked over a King scene by Art he might have re-pegged it though. If you look through the recent photos you can see a Phido scene with bottom pegs. Some of the experienced animators with established ways of working would always use bottom pegs.

Dietmar said...

I used top pegs on the film, mainly because it would cause the paper to hang down all day in a "relaxed" way. On some scenes I spend up to 8 hours on a drawing.

Bottom pegs meant that the weight of the paper on the angled lightbox would cause ever so slight distortions in the paper itself....

Geeky...I know^^

Sant Arellano said...


The War Machine scene is probably one of the best animated scenes of all time!

I'm hoping to see more posts about it, maybe you're saving it for the end.

One thing that puzzles me, by reading this blog I find that there were a lot of people working in this film. I used to thing it was only Richard Williams, Harris, Alex Williams, and that's it!

How naive!

How does one implement a style to every animated shot in the film, especially Richard William's style which is so distinctive?

Thanks for the post!!! :D


Dietmar said...

End? I hope there is no end as such, hehe.

I have a big load of papers here, that I still need to scan, I am trying to get a blog entry done with some stuff that Roy Naisbitt drew next.

It is great to hear what visitors would like to read about, because to me, animation on the warmachine was actually less exciting than watching people like Neil, Holger or Tim animate characters.