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QUEST FOR CAMELOT

The Animation Process
Outstanding animation artists from all over the world joined forces to bring "Quest For Camelot" to life, creating vivid characters in a uniquely beautiful setting

Outstanding animation artists from all over the world joined forces to bring "Quest For Camelot" to life, creating vivid characters in a uniquely beautiful setting. Classic animation techniques, combined with the latest possibilities in CGI (computer-generated imagery), bring dramatic presence and storytelling power to the action in the film.

Artists working on the scenic backdrop for "Quest For Camelot" traveled to England with the film's production designer, STEVE PILCHER, and visited ancient Celtic sites to incorporate images from thousand­year­old stone carvings into the visual themes of the movie.

Along with the timeless look of a classic adventure, the filmmakers wanted to continue breaking animation ground technically, as they had with their hit "Space Jam."

Two advances in computer­enhanced animation were particularly noteworthy, says Wendy Aylsworth, Vice President of Technology at Warner Bros. Feature Animation. "Computer software has helped us make tremendous advances in the way certain things appear on the screen, but every production and every team of artists needs to adapt the capabilities of the software to the style of the project they're working on."

The animators used Cambridge Animation's Animo software to assist in automated registration, known as "ragging." Regging is used when a single drawing must appear both in front of and behind another drawing ­ such as when a character's hand wraps around a sword, or pulls back a drape that hangs partially over the hand. It can be used to show two characters interacting, or a character interacting with a background. Since traditional, two­dimensional animation normally works in separate layers, it is difficult without automated regging to create the illusion of interaction, but the use of computer software brought a new reality to the animated images in "Quest For Camelot."

The other major visual effect used Silcon Graphics' Alias Wavefront software to create the illusion of three­dimensional images in certain parts of the film, most notably in the creation of a rock ogre, a circle of stones similar to Stonehenge, and in King Arthur's Round Table room. KIT PERCY, head of CGI effects, combined two­and threedimensional effects to join fantasy and reality on the screen.

"The software that we used was developed for live­action effects and it gives an extremely realistic look to certain textures and surfaces," she explains. "When you adapt that to an animated picture, you have to manipulate the software to represent a drawing style that's consistent with what's already been created by hand. We wanted the effects to be an integral part of the story, just as the mist, fog, and every other visual effect blend in; our team did a great job of adapting their tools to make this happen."

Warner Bros. Feature Animation was a brand­new company as it began work on "Quest For Camelot." Artists from all over the world had come to the studio's Glendale, California headquarters to share ideas, animation techniques and artistic styles as they brought the movie from concept to reality. And at the same time they were working in Glendale, the Warner Bros. animation studios in London, England, were also gearing up on "Quest For Camelot," taking responsibility for several aspects of about 20 minutes of the finished film in their studios.

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