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June 30, 2007 : Behind the Curtain With ILM, A Talk With Scott Farrar (posted by Libbey Coghlan)
On Saturday June 30, 2007 at the Italian Cultural Institute, I attended "Behind the Curtain With ILM, A Talk With Scott Farrar followed by a special screening of Who Framed Roger Rabbit. Industrial Light and Magic (ILM) is an SFX company started by George Lucas, the director of Star Wars. Scott Farrar joined ILM in 1981 as a camera operator on Star Trek ll: The Wrath of Khan and was promoted to Visual Effects Supervisor on Who Framed Roger Rabbit in 1987. Scott discussed the step by step process involved in the creation of this revolutionary project that was created in the "Photochemical days", meaning that there was no Maya or 3d CGI animation at this time. As many as 100 separate pieces of film were optically combined to incorporate the animated and live-action elements. The animated characters themselves were hand-drawn without computer animation; analogue optical effects were used for adding shadows and lighting to the Toons to give them a more "realistic," three-dimensional appearance. Since the animated Roger was added in post-production, Bob Hoskins was effectively acting against empty air during the shooting of his many scenes with Roger.
Who Framed Roger Rabbit begins from one ingeniously simple premise, that the characters in cartoons have an existence just like any other of the Hollywood stars. In fact here they are a sort of minority group of their own, with even their own suburb of Hollywood- Toontown, a metropolis that works as a bewilderingly psychedelic run through the laws of cartoon universe physics. The film serves up an astounding array of effects, allowing humans and animation to flawlessly integrate. And that’s where the fun begins, in seeing the zaniness of a cartoon universe mapped onto the real world.
Who Framed Roger Rabbit is seen as a landmark film that sparked the most recent era in American animation. The field of animation had suffered a recession during the 1970s and 1980s, to the point where even giants in the field such as The Walt Disney Company were considering giving up on major animated productions. Despite being produced by Disney (in association with Steven Spielberg's Amblin Entertainment), Roger Rabbit also marked the first (and to date, only) time that characters from several animation studios (including Universal, Walter Lantz Studios, Paramount Pictures, Fleischer Studios, MGM (though the characters are owned by Turner Entertainment since 1986), Republic and Warner Bros.) appeared in one film. This allowed the first-ever meetings between Bugs Bunny and Mickey Mouse. A contract was signed between Disney and Warner stating that their respective icons, Mickey Mouse and Bugs Bunny, would each receive exactly the same amount of screen time (they also had the same number of lines). Also the speakeasy scene features the first and only meeting of Daffy Duck and Donald Duck performing a unique dueling piano act. Finally the unique pairing is given a final send off at the end of the film when Porky Pig faces the audience and says the traditional Warner Brothers animation closing line, "That's all, Folks!" just before Tinkerbell appears to tap the scene in the traditional Disney ending manner.
Who Framed Roger Rabbit won four Oscars at the 61st Academy Awards ceremony in 1989 : Film Editing: Arthur Schmidt, Sound Effects Editing: Charles L.Campbell, Louis L.Edemann, Visual Effects: Ken Ralston, Richard Williams, Edward Jones, George Gibbs and a Special Achievement Award: to Richard Williams For The Animation Direction Of "Who Framed Roger Rabbit", 3 additional Oscar nominations: Art Direction: Elliot Scott; Set Decoration: Peter Howitt, Cinematography: Dean Cundey Sound: Robert Knudson, John Boyd, Don Digirolamo, Tony Dawe.
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