The Quest for Camelot FX Animation
In early 1995, after I completed a stint doing special FX on live action films such as Demolition Man and Mortal Kombat (the original live action movie), I was offered to head the Special FX division at Warner Brothers' new formed Feature Animation division. I began at WB by doing concepts and animation on a bunch of films that never materialized (Shangri-la, King Tut and Blue Beard). Then, I got my first major assignment - Heading up the Special FX department on the movie The Quest for Camelot.
My role was to style, design, animate, build a library of self-cycling FX animation, as well as supervise and train a team of FX animators. Despite the film failure at the box office and a multitude of atrocious reviews, I'm very proud of the level of FX work myself and the team were able to achieve. Here's a small sample of the effects I personally animated on the movie.
The Magic of Excalibur
Being the head of the department has its advange - like being able to pick the best and most juicy sequences for yourself. For me, the most interesting FX in the movie were all the magical stuff that revolved around the Excalibur sword. There were two sequences: one at the begining of the movie where Arthur repulses the Ruber attack; and the other was the grand finale where Ruber sticks the sword back in the stone and all hell breaks loose.
For the animation, I created a lot of rendered drawings using 6B pencils, electrical effects using Sharpies and Micron pens of various sizes, and traditional FX animation such as smoke, floating rocks, breaking vines, sparks etc. All my hand drawn FX were then scanned in the computer, painted, and digitally enhanced with glow and blur filters. It was cool getting to kill the villain!
The Three Rings
Dragon Country Climax - A Team Effort
When I first saw the storyboard for the dragon country sequence, I got really excited at the potential of the climactic scene. The scene featured the three main characters trying to outrun a deadly wall of fire and explosions.
Then, I heard that the scene was being revised because some people in the background department didn't think it was feasible. I made a case for it and assured the production people that my team and I would have no difficulty in creating the scene as originally planned. And so, we were given the go ahead.
In term of special FX, this scene, more than any other in the movie, was a real team effort. I started by animating the flames shooting out of the dragon's mouths. Then, I sat down with the only digital animator in my department at the time, Kevin Oakley, and choregraphed a series of explosions using Maya's particle systems. Once I was happy with the results, I had each frames printed and registered on animation paper. At that point, I brought in animator Actarus (Ahmed) Aksas to animate the ground plane receeding in perspective and had him supervise and coordinate a big team of animation assistants to create tons of rocks exploding.
Once all this animation was done, I animated the ground ripping behind the characters to really help tie everything together.