Although each second of film consists of twenty-four frames, in some cases if the action is very fast the animation can be shot on ‘twos’, that is two frames per drawing or eel set-up. Sometimes a drawing might be shot for ten, twenty or more frames to give the effect of a character pausing or stopping.
The camera itself is mounted on a tall stand looking down on a fixed area. However, the camera can zoom in and out of the fixed area and rotate to the four points of the compass. The peg bar mounted on the camera stand can be moved fractionally on each frame to allow the background to pan. A typical use of a panning background is when a character is walking. The cameraman relies on the animator’s exposure sheet to give detailed camera instructions for each scene.
The camera department has two pin-register, single-frame stop-motion animation stands with computer control and multiplane capabilities. They were designed and built in California, U.S.A. They also have a standard Acme animation stand capable of complex moves with twelve and sixteen field formats. A further pin-register camera is used to combine live-action and animation. This is useful for producing commercials and theatrical special effects.
Colour negative film is sent abroad to be processed as there are no local facilities for this highly specialized work. The studio does, however, boast the only full facility black and white film processing lab in Ireland. This offers scratch removal, re-wash, restoration of film including nitrate, soundtrack processing, black and white 35mm reversals, high contrast registration matte printing and ultrasonic film cleaning.
Now the final editing is undertaken. Final versions of the dialogue, sound effects and
music are assembled and any slight changes m timing and other corrections are made to the film. Only when every detail is approved is the actual negative cut to match. Copies are made for the distributor who deals with all the work of releasing the film worldwide. Now the film hits the silver screen and hopefully the big-time.
The Sullivan-Bluth studios have rocketed to the big-time since the release of their first feature film, The Secret of NIMH which received critical acclaim. The studio touched on small screen animation in the form of Arcade Games, having drawn animated sequences for Dragons Lair and Space Ace. They had a huge box office success with An American Tail, the story of mice who leave their home country and travel to America because they believe it is free of cats. This was a George Lucas/Steven Spielberg Production as was their next film, The Land Before Time. The story tells the adventures of five baby dinosaurs separated from their different families, the prejudices they must overcome and the monsters they must evade in their quest to rejoin their families.