The making of Dreamscape did not go without its disasters. 25 feet of film (and countless hours) were wasted when I left the camera’s built-in daylight filter in place. Another 50 feet were wasted when the camera jammed and another 25 feet when the peg bar was showing at the top of the frame due to the inaccuracy of the camera’s through the lens viewing system.
The fight in Dreamscape between the Harpy and the demon conjured up by Amadeus, (the skeleton look alike) was greatly influenced by the film “Jason and the Argonaughts”. The skeleton fight has always been one of my favourite sequences in any film. I therefore decided to try a variation on the skeleton theme and dressed the creature in armour and added a shield and medieval sword. It was at this time I remembered reading how Ralph Bakshi’s animators had created some of the animation in “Lord of the Rings” by rotoscoping. Upon further investigation it becomes clear that rotoscoping was used on most animated features from Walt Disney to Heavy Metal.
I had thought that if I could rotoscope some of the shots of the armoured skeleton I might be able to complete the film more quickly. But I was mistaken. The set up which I used was very makeshift, the end result was merely a match stick representation, but it was enough to guide the positions of the limbs and head. Over this guide I drew the armour, spiked helmet, shield, longer sword and bone arms and legs. In the end I think it took twice as long as doing it from scratch.
On reflection I think that it would have been better not to rotoscope these shots, and instead I should have experimented with rotoscoping on one of the walking or running sequences like Pandora the Goddess at the beginning and end of the film to eliminate the limp. Also having experienced rotoscoping I think it is more satisfying to create something totaly from scratch.
There was one other shot in the film which stemmed from outside influence, this was the classic two armed spell casting gesture of Asmodaus. This stemmed from the sorcerer in “The Sorcerers Apprentice”, but unfortunately it is difficult to show a character with long flowing robes in this gesture, in any other way. An example of this fact is shown in the poster for a film released about two months after I completed Dreamscape. The film is called “Amodaus” (sounds strangely familiar doesn’t it?). The poster depicts a character in long flowing robes in a gesture similar to that which I have been describing! In fact the only difference between this and my Asmodaus (apart from the ‘s’) is the head dress. You can imagine my horror at seeing this poster, and this was before I had recovered from seeing the poster for that live action film called “Dreamscape” a month after I completed my own film! I haven’t dared to go and see this film in case I find more similarities. Perhaps this is penance for using that skeleton! At least they didn’t use my opening phrase “Prepare to enter the realm of the imagination…”. I still prefer it to the one they used “It takes an extra-ordinary adventure to enter…”
The name Asmodaus I obtained from “Roget’s Thesaurus” under the heading of Demon and there were quite a few other titles of mythological evil spirits I could have chosen but I wonder if it would have made any difference?
I decided to have a print made of the original to prevent any damage. When I received the print and saw it on my home screen it looked pretty good, there was a slight colour difference, especially in the reds, but on the whole I was pleased with it. I entered the film in the 1984 ANIMA festival but when I saw it screened there I could not believe it was the same film. The image was very dim and yet I had previously received remarks on how bright and sharp the picture was. Here a great deal of the detail was lost especially in the backgrounds. Intact the dancing coloured lights I explained earlier could barely be seen. The answer to the problem obviously lies in the fact that it was a print, although it looked all right at home, when projected at a greater distance than this it had only about half the brightness of the original. But at least this experience taught me something. I have used the original in any public showings or competitions from that day on, and kept my fingers crossed.
Printed in Animator Issue 13 (Summer 1985)