I promptly decided to reduce the number of drawings in the walk cycle (to about 18) and shoot three frames per drawing. As for getting the drawings onto cels, I already had the walk cycle drawn on paper and it was just a matter of tracing these down onto the ink and then scratching through the ink along the traced lines with a compass point. Some devious method of registration was used to get over the cel area being larger than the paper. It was not infallible; there is a very nasty jump in the cycle which I hadn’t time to correct as it was filmed a week before my degree show!
Having got my precious cels, I filmed the repeating cycle, back lit, tracking the camera in every few frames and with a coloured filter over the lens. Then the film was wound back to within 100 frames or so of the beginning (to create an overlap) and the shot repeated with a different coloured filter and so on to produce a multicoloured procession. The second sequence involved movement of the rostrum table to make the figure move to the sides, but was essentially the same. Towards the end of the second sequence there arc a lot of coloured spots and blobs appearing as the inked cels begin to disintegrate – a roughness to which I have no objection, fortunately.
For the final shots as the man nears his destiny or his breakfast, I played about with multiple photocopies (copies of copies of copies…), “disintegrating” a still image or a short movement by introducing progressively more decayed drawings under the camera. There are also a couple of double exposures: by working with light forms on dark backgrounds it was possible to shoot a still object on one side of the frame, wind the film back and add a moving one on the other side. This primitive special effect saved drawing the stationary fridge over and over.
He never opens the fridge, of course; the idea would be too terrible to contemplate (I was gratified by the exasperated noises made by the Cambridge audience). At the outset I had planned a sequel -“Fridge D’or II’ – which would have been largely identical but accompanied by uplifting choral music (Handel’s ‘Zadok the Priest” to be exact) instead of the mystical murmurings on the existing version: an added sequence at the 2nd would have shown the fridge to contain the Heavenly choir singing the soundtrack – the religious man’s destiny. To see the different mood imposed on the same action b) two different sound-tracks would have been interesting; time, however, did not permit and I shall have to make do with just a mental image of a long final pan across a kitchen strewn with thawing cherubs.
Animation drawings from The Fridge D’or.
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Printed in Animator Issue 11 (Winter 1984)