Labour Saving Animation with Lip-sync

        Category: # 6 Autumn 1983 | Article posted on: December 26, 2009

In shot three, the caveman enters. This re-used the cels from shot one. The caveman with the brontosaurus took up most of the cel so walking him into the scene would allow the leading edges of the cels to show. To avoid this, the shot was planned as a close-up. Shooting him from the waist up also saved doing deceleration drawings of his legs to bring him to a smooth halt.

Shot four was the start of the dialogue sequence. The man’s speech was a series of ‘Ugs’. His body was drawn on one cel and heads for a smile, scowl, and U and G sounds were done on others. The woman spoke in normal English. By the way, the set subject of the film competition was The Superior Sex.

As I was using limited style of animation, the cavewoman’s mouth movements were simplified. Instead of the whole law area flexing and the chin going up and down, just the mouth moved. This allowed the head to be on one cel and the mouth shapes on others. The whole of the dialogue sequence was shot using eighteen cels, including a couple of the cavewoman’s arms moving. It was broken down into a series of close-ups and long shots to give it variety.

In the penultimate shot, the man hits the woman over the head with a club, and to give the film a good finish it was fully animated in ten drawings. In the final shot the woman is seen lying on the ground with stars spinning around her head in a cycle of four drawings.

The sound track was recorded on sprocketed tape with natural voices being used for the dialogue. Where the woman gets hit on the head, I put in a gong sound taken from an effects record. When laying effects before the film is made there is no need for great precision. I time, with a stopwatch, the gap between the last audible sound of the previous effect on the record and the start of the one to be used. Then the tape is held on pause in the record mode at the point where the effect is wanted and the record is run again. By using the stopwatch, the tape is started just before the required effect begins.

The track was read using a tape head and sprocket counter. I use my tape recorder as an amplifier for the sound-head and listen to it on headphones. This saves the rest of the family from having to hear the rather torturous sound of the tape being wound at variable speeds.

The tape was threaded over the sound-head and through the counter which was set to zero and an X marked on the tape at the sound-head. The start and end of the title music were found and the dial readings noted on a bar sheet. I used the script to help identify the dialogue. Each word was located and wound backwards and forwards until all its syllables were logged on the bar sheet. Some letters were slurred into each other making them hard to isolate so their positions were estimated from the position of the known letters.

The words were then written out on exposure sheets putting each letter against its appropriate frame number. I used seven column abstract analysis paper, available at office stationers, for the exposure sheets. They have lines numbered from one to forty which makes them ideal.

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