The Sullivan Bluth Studios in Ireland – Page 2

The editorial department itself is equipped with multiple viewing and editorial facilities, including a two-channel Steinbeck, two preview (large screen) Moviolas and standard Moviola equipment. Additional services provided by the editorial department include ‘Close-up reading’ of narration for animation purposes, sound effects and music editing.

The studio projection facilities consist of two air conditioned projection rooms. One with a single 35mm projector with interlocking capabilities, which is fine for viewing daily rushes and a 32 seat screening room with two universal projectors with interlock and automatic changeover for showing feature films uninterrupted.

Don Bluth shows the amount of work that goes into a two minute classically animated sequence (left), compared to a typical television animated sequence of the same duration.

Although the studio has a sound effects library they normally record their final
sound effects especially for the film. Many effects are recorded to the ‘on screen ammation’. This is called the Foley stage. An example of this would be, say, if your character is walking through muddy fields. A performer known as a ‘Foley Walker’ would record the squelching sound as it happens on screen. The animation at this stage would still be in pencil. Usually four or five people would be present at these recordings: two foley walkers, an engineer, a loader and your own editor who checks that everything is being done the way you planned.

Some voices for the feature are recorded at Windmill Studios, Dublin. Demo music might also be recorded here before they get to the final musical score. During the last four months of production the feature is spotted for music. Somewhere between fifty and one hundred musicians are used for the final musical score. This usually takes five days, with two sessions per day, each lasting three hours. The cost is a staggering $10 to $20 thousand per day, depending on the number of musicians you have on stage. The music content must be considered seriously as too much or too little might well make the film sound cheap. The music must also achieve the desired mood for the scene.

Storyboard conference - Don, Gary and John talk through the story.

The development of the characters begins at the story sketch stage. This usually happens at story meetings where the characters’ physical appearance and personality is discussed. The overall development of the characters, both primary and secondary ones, takes up to six months. Amazingly enough the ‘personality’ of the characters is gone into in more detail than will ever be seen on the screen. This development could continue right to the end of the animation stage. The studio tries to give the character some type of quirk, to make him or her more intriguing and to keep the audience interested through the ninety or so minutes of the film.

The development of the physical side of the character is less time consuming and is kept as simple as possible without being insignificant. The overall appearance of the character is achieved with each person involved adding their own touch to the character’s physical appearance until you end up with the finished design. the colouring of the character is also kept as simple as possible, mainly with a maximum of eight to twelve colours, making a possible seventy-two different colours!

A constant check is kept on the work as it evolves slowly in a long chain of production, and passes through all the departments. This is very necessary as even one small mistake can cause multiplied errors as it moves from one department to the next.

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