Tuesday, August 30, 2005

Today I would like to share some memories of " Roger Rabbit" with you. That goes quite some time back into the year 1986/87. At that time we had a small studio in Düsseldorf , "The madT.Party", where we were doing all kinds of stuff, storyboards, designs, illustrations, mainly for the local advertising agencies. We, that is : Hans Bacher, Uli Meyer ( Hey , Uli , read your comment earlier today ! Greetings to London, I'll be back soon....hope you're doing well ) and Jens Wiemer, a wonderfully gifted illustrator , who sadly has passed on to soon.

Through this work , we had met Richard Williams who was often animating the commercials , that any of us would have been working on before. Through our common interest in animation and the love off the work of Milt Kahl a friendship deveoped and when Hans and I were visiting him one day in London, he had been talking to Spielberg and Zwemeckis and was looking for artists to increase the manpower of his lil' studio in Soho Square, to manage the amount of work that would be necessary to handle "Roger Rabbit"
We were hired on the spot and found ourselfes doing character designs, most notably for the weazels.
We used 40's gangstermovies as reference, we were working back and forth , I would do sketches, Hans would clean them, put 'em into backgrounds, there is no telling who did what. The drawings were all over the table, whart a great way to work. Hans and I were used to work like that , since we had been working on the Kwak-comicbooks.

We were working in London's Forum , a former departmentstore in Camden, which Richard had moved his studio to. w3hen we thought our work was over and we were preparing to go home, Zemeckis sent us to L.A., to work on the Toontown-Sequence, you'll rememberr, the only sequence in the movie, in which we'll have a life-action-detective in a cartoonworld.
Nobody knew , whart was going to happen in this sequence, apart from that it had to be zany like a Tex Avery cartoon. In other words: all those things, that EWddie hated about cartoons, would happen to him there.
We spent quite some time, watchinfg Tex Avery-Cartoons, analyzing them and taking notes to be able to find stuff quickly.
After that we just went overboard with ideas of our own, meeting with Zemeckis and the writers regularly.

Above : Yours truly entering Amblin's lobby in the morning and working with Jeff Prize , Peter Seaman and Bob Zemeckis
Below : A few of a couple of hundreds story ideas and Eddie Valient, the way I used to draw him for the inspirationals.

What a great movie, a great expieriene that was, remember, this was way before computers and we did it as we went along, wonderful times...I may sound like a war-veteran here, but those were great times. Think of it: just a few weeks ago , I had been a student of grafic-design, now I was right in the heart of Hollywood, in Spielberg's office.It all came back to me, when I was reading Spaff's interview , that was posted somewhere a couple of weeks ago. I don't know if he remembers me as well as do. I saw Richard again last year in Annecy and we chatted a bit.


UM said...

Hey Harald,
This brings back memories! Good to know you kept a lot of the artwork. Haven't seen this stuff for ages. I started a blog too at http://ulimeyer1000.blogspot.com.
Come and visit.

Sketch Club said...

Hello Harald, I'm enjoying your blog. I'm not sure if you remember, but in 1990 I was the lead designer for Disneyland's Toontown. I watched your Toontown sequence perhaps more than any other person trying to capture the flavor of Toontown. It's nice to see you kept some of your sketches.

Walt Disney Imagineering had a printer that would print from the VCR, and it was one of those little crappy black & white ones with the scrolling paper. Mostly, I just froze the image and drew directly from the TV. Ah, the good ol' days. When the state of the art drawing technology meant a mechanical pencil.

Your work continues to be an inspiration to me my friend. Keep up the fun!

I just started a blog too with Stephen silver. Check it out at http://sketchclub.blogspot.com.

--Marcelo Vignali

YLej said...

What a great movie,
You guys rock !

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