Tony Salmon’s The Devil Went Down to Georgia

How the devil got down to Georgia

TONY SALMON, WHO’S FILM “THE DEVIL WENT DOWN TO GEORGIA” WON AN IAC AWARD THIS YEAR TELLS US HOW HE MADE THE FILM.

My film “The Devil went down to Georgia” was made almost by accident. The character of the Devil himself had been born out of an idea for a film I was working on at the time, when the country and western record “The Devil went down to Georgia” bounced into the hit parade.

I had always wanted to make an animated film to music as animation lends itself very well to close synchronisation of music and visuals and I decided that to make a film of this record would be a good way of getting this particular bee out of my bonnet.

The first thing to do therefore after arriving at this momentous decision was to get hold of a copy of the record. This was played over and over again and all the lines of the song were timed with a stopwatch. This provided the basis of a shooting script.

A story board was made up and tie I work on my own, this was quite crude. The backgrounds ware then prepared using this as a basis.

The next stage was to design the main characters who wore the Devil himself, who I already had and a boy called Johnny. Although the lyrics of the song itself describe the characters and the action very well it became apparent that further characters would be necessary to fill in several gaps in the action.

To this end I decided to give Johnny a dog and introduce a group of rats to act as a kind of Greek Chorus in the centre part of the song. A trio of demons completed the cast list. Detailed, model sheets were prepared of the characters, showing how they look from various view points as these help to keep their proportions and details constant throughout the actual animation process.

The preparatory work having been completed, it was now possible to get down to the actual animation itself. I make my films using conventional “cels” and a peg bar and the animation itself is done on thin paper used for making copies when typing – the registration holes being punched with an ordinary office punch – over a light box which enables mc to see several layers of drawings at once. I “double frame” my animation which means 2 frames of film to every drawing except very fast movement which is “single framed”.

Times of the animation are taken from the previously mentioned shooting script converted into frames using the standard running speed of 18 f.p.s. Special exposure sheets are ruled up and the frames are noted on these.

When the animation for each scene was complete it was traced onto “cel” using a technical pen and filled in on the back so as not to disturb the outline, with poster colour with an emulsion base so that it sticks to the cel. In my case it was Pelican Plaka. This process continued more or less without incident until the whole film was completed.
The next stage was photography and this was accomplished using a Eumig S80 PMA camera, a home made rostrum with two 150 watt household bulbs, I do not use photofloods as I find they very quickly burn out during the lengthy photography sessions. I always shoot the film in order to minimise any editing and tick off each frame on the exposure sheets as I do it.

When the shooting was completed the film was sent for processing. An anxious two weeks were spent awaiting its return, as this is the moment of truth so far as I am concerned.

After its return it was viewed, exulted or groaned over and sent away for striping. The sound track was then recorded on the stripe using a Syrchrodeck and for better or worse the film was complete.

All in all it had taken about twelve months out of my life working in my spare time but I think it was worth it and I am already working on my next epic which I hope will be bigger and better.

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