These days, where I have little time for blogging, I do feel the need to note a few things.
First, yesterday was, of course, the 87th anniversary of the Disney Company, the official starting date being coined as the day Walt got a green light from Margaret Winkler to start a series of Alice films, October 16th 1923.
Secondly, blog reader Steven Hartley has made a wonderful and useful mosaic from my Pecos Bill draft. Hoorah! The more, the merrier, and Steven's first attempt is certainly a keeper! Let this be a lesson to all of you out there who do NOT make mosaics!
This morning, our latest film "The Olsen Gang Gets Polished" premiered in Imperial Bio in Copenhagen, Denmark. This marks our tenth own animated feature (depending a little on how you count co-productions). It is a CG film based on a series of live-action movies from the late 60's-early 70's, and personally having put quite a lot of time in it lately, I am pretty darn proud of it, especially when I think of the fact that it cost something like two minutes of Toy Story 3. It is also Denmark's first 3-D animated film, another first for us!
We have tried to get as close to the original in feeling as we could, and I believe we managed quite well. The director, our Jørgen Lerdam has, of couse, been instrumental in this.
Audience response was nice, pretty much the same response as the original series drew, with laughs in all the right places. The official release is October 14th, so we are all looking forward to the reviews that will come the evening before.
For those interested in production detail, the characters (and blendshapes) were modelled in 3D Studio Max, then animated in Maya, rendered using MentalRay, and finally composited using eyeon Digital Fusion. The 3-D, having been an afterthought really, was basically made with a team of five people through some four months, where the setups at first were largely scripted to have two cameras, then re-output and composited. I prepared the final output (the frame stacks) and did a lot of what one could call quality control, finding render mistakes etc. and then we tried to fix as much as there was time and budget for.
As in all our productions, also the post-production was fully pro-fessionally done, in this case at Nordisk Film's facilities ShortCut (the image side: the DCP's) and Nordisk film Audio for the 5.1 tracks. We also produced a 3-D version of the Nordisk Film intro, the growling polar bear. It was exciting to see everything come together on the big screen, and Imperial Bio is the biggest screen in Scandinavia!
...though not meant to be comical. It tells a story in separate but similar images in progression, with balloons that show the dialogue. But this is from 1493, the year after Columbus stumbled upon the Caribbean ("discovered America")! Yes, predating The Yellow Kid by about 400 years!
The duchy of Gelria (Gelre), in what is now part of the Dutch province of Gelderland, saw the return of the young Duke Charles (Karel) from captivity in Burgundian France in 1492. Bernard, Count Van Meurs remained hostage in stead of his uncle Charles in Péronne, France, so Charles could settle his ransom. It is Van Meurs who in this document of 1493 complains that Charles has not kept his promises...
(From the Municipal Archives of Zutphen, old arch. nr. 2386.) [Though I found the above image in a book, you can see a wonderful reproduction of it here on the website of the Zutphen Archives!]
I would venture to guess it would read something like this: 1) "Oh, King of Burgundy, I, Count Van Meurs will take Duke Charles' place while he fetches your ransom in Gelria. 2) "Thanks, Van Meurs, I will get you out of here pronto!" 3) "I'm out! That dumb Van Meurs can rot for all I care...!"
It may not seem to be animation related, but in my opinion it is a direct ancestor to our storyboards: it shows that this way of telling a story is very basic (at least in Northern European culture)...
(On a personal note I can tell that 1493 is three years after the earliest date in my own family tree--the church books before that date have reportedly burned.)
As one can see in the table on my paper-and-pegbar page, the Disney studio first added three pegs with a center peg for the 1935 short film Mickey's Garden.
However, already in February 1927, a patent was filed (granted May 1929) that describes the three peg system. It also gives good reasons to implement this system. The inventor named is Frank Lyle Goldman, who according to this page was Max Fleischer's best friend! (If this is the same person, but what would be the odds there were two of that name in animation at that time on the East Coast?)
Those of us who "grew up" using good old ACME pegs, or you East Coast-ers using Oxberry pegs, may have wondered why one professionally would not just use two pegs which seems simplest. Well, here is the explanation. Having manufactured aluminum animation discs myself back in 1983, I must admit that this did not come as a surprise to me. Obviously, the pegbars that we were used to had flat outer pegs (and yes, one could lay a ruler over the outer Oxberry pegs), but the principle is the same as in above patent.
Do we know when Fleischer started using flat-round-flat holes in their animation paper? Did the Disney studio have to pay a licensing fee for using the three pegs in addition to their regular two round pegs?
Directed by Art Stevens, assistant director Rick Rich, layout by Joe Hale, Sylvia Roemer and Vance Gerry. This FINAL draft of 3/18/77. (Just stubled upon a picture of Joe Hale in an interesting article!)
Finally, here are the last eight pages of the Rescuers draft! Again directed solo by Art Stevens, this sequence is animated by Andy Gaskill, John Pomeroy, Dale Baer, Gary Goldman, Frank Thomas, Ollie Johnston, Cliff Nordberg and Chuck Harvey.
Ollie has a few "re-use with costume change" scenes, and even has his name spelled wrong on the final scene...
I am, while I type this, rendering comps for the final stereo frames of our latest feature film, The Olsen Gang Gets Polished. More about this later. Right now I just would like to see this finished so I can deliver the framestacks tomorrow to the post facility that produces the DCP's! Maybe get some sleep between now and then, even.
Prod. 2519 - The Rescuers (XXIV) - Seq. 012 - The Escape
Directed by Art Stevens, assistant director Rick Rich, layout by Joe Hale and Vance Gerry. This FINAL draft of 3/18/77.
Animation by Bill Hajee, Milt Kahl, Glen Keane, Cliff Nordberg, Ron Husband, Frank Thomas, Ollie Johnston, John Pomeroy, Ron Clements and Andy Gaskill. It's a veritable free-for-all as to who draws what! Milt drawing the flying teddy bear? Effects by Jack Buckley (fireworks) and Dick Lucas (Swampmobile).
This sequence and the next, final sequence are the only ones that give Art Stevens sole directing credit. At this time, John Lounsbery was long gone, though Woolie was still on his post (where I met him 17 months later). Also note that Vance Gerry, who should by now be quite well-known as story artist, is credited here for layout!
[This will have to tide you over through the weekend!]
Prod. 2519 - The Rescuers (XXIII) - Seq. 011 - The Pirate's Cave
This sequence 011 is placed between 008 and 08.1 in the film!
Directed by Woolie Reitherman, assistant director Jeffrey Patch, layout Don Griffith, secretary Lorraine [Thilman? Davis?]. This FINAL draft dated 4/1/77.
We start off with Milt Kahl (Snoops, Medusa and Penny) and Don Bluth (Penny). Then, Frank Thomas animates the mice with Bill Hajee, Ron Clements, Ron Husband and Dale Baer. Ollie Johnston and Glen Keane animate Penny. Effect water by Jack Buckley.
Probably the most screened sequence of this movie, the sequence where Penny is down in the cave was sequence-directed by frank and Ollie. They would plan their part of this sequence in rough layout thumbnails, then continue by posing all scenes roughly as can be seen in this previous posting.
They relished telling the story that Woolie told them the animatic/Leica-reel/work-reel was JUST the right length, and when they posed out the sequence and showed it to Woolie, he said: "See? Just as I said: just the right length!" They kept to themselves that the sequence had grown to twice the length!
Notice that only the water scenes have an effects animator (Buckley) assigned - all other scenes do not, and there are shadows, sparkles, flashes etc. When talking about Rescuers, Frank and Ollie made it quite clear that out of finanthere were very few effects in this film, and only a few scenes with shadows. But who did these effects? Did they do them themselves? Or are we missing names here?
Interested in animation since 1975, worked in Holland with Danish animator Børge Ring for four years (incl. on the Oscar-winning 'Anna & Bella'), then moved to Denmark in 1984.
Co-founder and co-owner since 1988 of A. Film, Europe's foremost animation studio, in business for over 25 years. We are the studio behind 'The Flight before Christmas', 'Help! I'm a Fish', 'Terkel in Trouble', 'Asterix and the Vikings', 'The Ugly Duckling and Me' and many more...
Currently the President and CEO of A. Film L.A., Inc. in Los Angeles, and director of "Miffy the Movie."
Though we are very involved in new techniques, I share a deep passion for Great Classical Animation with everyone at the studio; Frank Thomas and Ollie Johnston's "Illusion of Life" is our bible.