Creating computer animation characters from drawings

Richard Condie’s La Salla - 1996.

I was looking at some movies on the Internet recently when I came across Richard Condie’s La Salla. This computer animated film made in 1996 features a character very similar to one in Condie’s cel animated film The Big Snit (1985). I was reminded of Sheila Graber’s words in her book Animation A Handy Guide: “…whatever materials you use your own style will emerge”.

Richard Condie’s The Big Snit - 1985

The thing that I like about La Salla is that it demonstrates that you do not need to emulate the Toy Story style of computer animation to produce an entertaining film. The characters and sets of La Salla could be created on a standard PC with a computer animation program such as Animation: Master.

The hands are separated from the arms.

Throughout his career Richard Condie has been an experimenter, always keen to move on to the next thing. Condie said about his move to computer animation: “La Salla resonates with my temptation to fiddle with the countless options available in computer animation”.

To create the film he first had to learn how to control the computer program and work out a way to convert his drawn character to 3D. I like the way the hands and legs are slightly separated from the preceding parts. This is a good translation of the squiggly style of his drawn characters.

He is obsessed with sawing.

He uses the computer medium to great effect with the viewpoint swooping around the set to follow his characters.

In The Big Snit his lead character was obsessed with sawing, he watches a TV show called “Sawing for Teens”. In La Salla the lead character is obsessed with firing toy cows from a cannon. As the plot develops he has an accident with the cannon and delivers the hilarious line “Moments ago, I had everything. Now, I have a cow in my nose.”

He is obsessed with a cannon.

In La Salla, Condie pays homage to his sawing character in The Big Snit by having a saw sticking out of the wall and a picture on the wall featuring the wife character.

La Salla is a good demonstration of how to convert a character from drawn animation to computer animation. It embodies all the humour and quirkiness of Condie’s cel animation together with the extra dimension that computers can bring to a work.

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