Computer Animation, Old School
Thursday, January 24, 2013 at 02:00PM

Okay, we've been down this road before but it's a fun ride. Let's remind ourselves how primitive things were only a few decades ago. I worked on this sequence in Walt Disney's “101 Damatians.” It seems we were making the movie pretty much in sequence. This was the final act where the evil Cruella DeVille get's hers. The movie ends on a high note when the family gathers together to sing, “We'll have a Dalmatian Plantation.”

But, let's go back to the road and the final chase sequence near the end of the movie. If you remember, Cruella is roaring around the snowy mountain highway in her roadster. We didn't have the luxury of digital technology in the old days and animating vehicles was always a daunting task. The clever guys in Woolie's layout department came up with the idea of filming scale models as guides for our animation. We painted the vehicles white with a black outline. This would make our use of the printed out rotoscopes a lot easier to read. In this shot you see layout artist, Basil Davidovich on the left. That's our cameraman in the center. Unfortunately, I can't remember his name. Animator, story man, Dick Lucas is on the right in the photograph.

Clearly what we were doing was pretty low tech when you consider the tools we have today. Yet, that's the cool thing about working, “Old School.” You do what you have to do with the tools you have. Computers were still amazing devices regarded for science fiction movies. We could not even imagine the way animation would be created in the years ahead. This was still 1959-1960. A date that almost seems like the stone age when it comes to technology. In spite of all this, we managed to craft a pretty effective sequence that provided the cap for movie's finale. It was a wild mountain chase that gave the audience a few chills and thrills. Having a computer would have been a big help. However, I honestly think we had more fun doing it this way.

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