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QUEST FOR CAMELOT

Creating The Characters
The story of "Quest For Camelot" was loosely based on a book called The King's Damosel, written by Vera Chapman, but producer Dalisa Cooper Cohen and director Du Chau had several ideas about contemporizing the story without destroying its medieval flavor

The story of "Quest For Camelot" was loosely based on a book called The King's Damosel, written by Vera Chapman, but producer Dalisa Cooper Cohen and director Du Chau had several ideas about contemporizing the story without destroying its medieval flavor.

What they knew right away was that an adventure story, no matter how exciting, can only succeed if the audience can really connect with the lead characters. So the filmmakers and lead animators spent months creating leads ­ and many supporting characters ­ who were interesting, appealing and ready to spring to life on the screen.

They worked closely with Kirk De Micco, William Schifrin, Jacqueline Feather and David Seidler to develop a story that had at its core a feisty, adventurous young woman whose desires and goals were not those of the traditional courtly maidens.

Says producer Dalisa Cooper Cohen, "We've created intriguing, unconventional characters who prove that the unlikeliest of heroes can win the day through intelligence, courage and humor. Kayley, our female lead, is a strong­willed, agile and principled young woman who's not afraid to plunge into a haunted forest or take a swing at a villain if the situation requires it. She wants to be a knight, something unheard of in her era, but she's not so single­minded that she's immune to the charms of a handsome young man who comes to her assistance, either."

In addition to creating a physical presence for Kayley, a process which took several months of research and experimentation, a voice was needed to bring her to life. Many possibilities were considered. Explains Du Chau, "The voice of a character is vital to the way an audience will respond to him or her. It also has a major effect on the way we draw and animate the character, because certain qualities from the speaker actually change the way the character's face appears when it's speaking."

The voice of Kayley came from not one, but two sources. Her speaking voice is provided by Jessalyn Gilsig and her singing voice is courtesy of Andrea Corr, a member of the Irish singing group The Corrs.

Reveals Dalisa Cooper Cohen, "Creating a character's voice is an interesting exercise for a live­action performer, because they can't rely on body language, facial expression or mannerisms to convey information; it all has to be in the use of the voice. Although this was a new experience for many of our voice actors, we were lucky enough to attract several very talented stars, who brought the perfect combination of distinctive sound and expressive characterization to their work."

The lead animator on Kayley was NASSOS VAKALIS, a veteran of several feature animated films for Don Bluth. Vaka is stresses that, particularly with a female lead, the voice actors are an essential part of creating the visual presence of the character.

"We tape the actors as they record their parts and it's very helpful," he says. "Sometimes it's just the way they move their eyes or a twist of their mouths that conveys a certain emotion, and we can translate that into our drawings. You have to be especially careful with a character like Kayley, because she's a strong person, especially for a young girl in medieval times, but we always want her to be appealing, so we have to be subtle in the way we draw her facial expressions. She ne

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