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LOTR - THE MAKING OF - PART 3

Excerpt from the Ralph Bakshi Art Book titled 'UNFILTERED - THE COMPLETE RALPH BAKSHI' By Jon Gibson and Chris McDonnell. Published by RIZZOLI

 

(cont'd)

Ralph Bakshi Art Book
Unfiltered - The Complete Ralph Bakshi

By the time Ralph returned to the States, the cost of developing a blown-

up print of each frame of film had risen from three to eight bucks. "At that

rate, it would have cost me millions to finish the picture - and that's just

on the developing and printing!" Ralph remembers. The nontraditional

method of rotoscoping used on Wizards created only high-contrast

graphical shapes on long spools of paper that had to be manually cut,

aligned, pasted onto punched animation paper in just the right location,

and finally photocopied onto cels in order to work; it couldn't be repeated

for the facial and physical details Ralph sought for his Rings' cast of

characters.



Luckily, camera technician Ted Bemiller was around. '

"He was a genius,

optically and mechanically. He would build his own cameras,

Ralph says.

Luckily, camera technician Ted Bemiller was around. "He was a genius,

optically and mechanically. He would build his own cameras,"Ralph says.


"I was worried and upset. I asked Ted if his Oxberry camera could also

project images. He said, Yeah, that's how we make sure we align each

scene correctly - it projects a field guide down."

So Ralph and Bemiller went to work, rifling through a camera shop to

find an old 35 mm beater, configuring it onto tracks laid on the foor.

Across the room, a plate was set that could hold photographic sheets of

paper at the size needed. Taking up the span of two dark rooms in the

studio, the duo created a huge photographic enlarger on rollers. The focus

was adjusted by moving the camera along the tracks. "We shot nine or ten

frames, ran down to get the sheets developed and nearly started crying,

Ralph recalls. "It worked perfectly!"






Next, Bakshi Productions needed to become an officially-recognized

development lab to get bulk photography paper from Kodak, and

promptly became an excellent customer. "Accounting for supplies and

development, we brought the cost per frame down to about 85 cents. We

did the entire picture that way - over 100,000 frames of it!"







Rings' visual effects also threatened to overwhelm the budget. "We weren't

a big house like Disney," Ralph explains. "When the secretary went on

her lunch break, I'd answer the phone. I'd watch my newborn son Edward

crawling around the office while I drew. The same goes for departments

- we didn't have the luxury of specialty artists that only drew water really

well, so I used live-action techniques that saved us those salaries."



One of those tricks was relying on live-action analog optics to create the lighting

for Gandalf's magic, the moody smoke effects during the appearance of

Nazgûl, and even little touches of weather, like rain and snow. "We saved

a bundle in cash and time and using real light sources gave the two-dimensional drawings a third dimension. It became more real.”






 





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