The Thief and the Cobbler: Recobbled Cut Mark 4

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Garrett Gilchrist
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Re: The Thief and the Cobbler: Recobbled Cut Mark 4

Post: # 11304Post Garrett Gilchrist »

Brian Riley writes (in reaction to the above Tweet):
I've seen the original up close, this is more than good enough to be included in the movie. Brilliant work.

I worked on the original movie when it went into full production, saw that shot many times. Your version is superb.

I was on the cameras, I loved the famous playing card shot, 'for me they fall like playing cards etc' which we re-shot, although it had been animated a long time before, we re-lit it, I think for the rings on his fingers.

I also like the one at the end of the One Eye battle where he's standing on the mound of corpses, it's superficially simple, but it's one of the many where we experimented with the lighting - John Leatherbarrow was a creative genius when it came to shooting a 2-d flat image and giving it depth and subtlety within the standard '2 top-lights either side, 1 back light' traditional animation camera set-up. He also used mattes extensively as well as bi-pack, so even the simplest shot had multiple runs, multiple exposures - which meant the cameraman was not allowed a single screw-up! And Roy Naisbitt's layouts as brilliant as they were, were always challenging to shoot, never mind the simple logistics and physical difficulty of manipulating and laying down cinemascope format cels (we need very very long camera benches to lay out all the levels).

Without question it was the most complex and most rewarding (and ultimately most frustrating) thing I ever worked on. Richard Williams could be difficult at times, he had a extraordinarily precise idea of what he wanted to see on the screen and that was never easy to deliver, but it was his vision and he was a genius, it was a privilege to even be in his company, never mind to work for him every day in his studio, and make his dream a reality.

I marvel now at how I coped - I simply wouldn't have the brain-power or the dexterity to manage it, or the level of concentration to be 100% perfect every frame, every click of the shutter.

I've been spoiled by decades of mouse-clicking and the capacity for infinite 'undos' when I screw up! There were no 'undos' in the Thief camera room, only 'restarts', sometimes on shots that took many days and nights to complete...potentially one slip on even the last frame and it was back to the beginning.

Also many of the Princess shots, her eyes were always given special treatment, multiple runs just to make them stand out a little. And that's the other thing, even if you got everything right from a technical stand point, there's a good chance you were re-shooting it anyway because there was some subtle lighting difference that Dick didn't buy, even though we obviously tested every element before we shot a single frame of the final shot, and rushes weren't always graded the same way, so they could seem to be more different than they were. But, hey - it was his movie - I never questioned his decisions. There are massive benefits to working for a single individual who knows exactly what he wants.

Unsung heroes for me were the people (women mainly) who painted the cels and the matte levels, every single one had to be precisely right, otherwise the multiple runs would end up with a shot that looked like a dog's breakfast, it had to be seamless, and it was because of their skill with a paintbrush.

Dennis van Hout writes:
Very interesting stories, such attention to detail in all those shots. The playing card shot is indeed one of the highlights, literally. Another one that stands out to me in terms of lighting is when the Thief crashes through two windows after the spiraling slide down the stairs. It works so well when the light from the outside comes through the broken window.
I never knew or met Richard Williams, but with every story that I hear about him and his studio, even though he was so demanding, it sounds like it was an amazing place to work and learn. Had I been there at the time I would have very much liked to work with him.
The cell paintings are on another level. That is what attracted me to the flower shot initially when I saw it for the first time 10 years ago. The beautiful painted quality of every frame in that shot by Dee Morgen (I hope I am correct, and this is her work) was astounding. And I never knew that even so small a thing as the Princess's eyes got so much attention. This really is a one of a kind film. Thank you for sharing all these insights!

Brian Riley writes:
You needed stamina and a lot of patience - not everyone could work with Dick, some made the mistake of trying to argue with him or worse, correct him. Those people wouldn't last a day sometimes! Once you understood him though, he was the sweetest and most generous of characters, it's just that he knew his stuff, he knew how good he was and what he wanted to accomplish and that he could accomplish it with the right team of people, but only the right team of people. Having some wet-behind-the-ears animator disagree with him wasn't going to go down too well!
The only man I ever saw occasionally argue with Dick and get away with it was Roy Naisbitt, Dick had the most enormous respect for Roy, loved him like a brother, and I think probably secretly knew Roy was usually right!

Dennis van Hout writes:
I can imagine that it was not easy working with him, but sounds like in the end it was worth it. And Roy Naisbitt, another master artist, now sadly gone. Richard really could get the best peoples for the jobs!
I looked you up on IMDb Brian, you have worked on a lot of very great films! The Prince of Egypt is my favorite from Dreamworks animation.

Brian Riley writes:
And somehow, I'm still at Dreamworks! Haven't updated IMDB for quite a few years, so there'll be a few more to add to that list (eg Dragons 3) , and prior to 95, I worked on probably 100's of commercials, shorts, documentaries etc. Dick Williams studio was responsible for some ground-breaking animated commercials and I worked on a few of those in the late 70's, early 80's even though I was never on the payroll there - they had their own camera department, but they still needed to contract out a lot of jobs - often because the camera guys there were shooting bits and pieces of the Thief, and that took all their attention!

Dennis van Hout writes:
Haha, that Thief, always taking everything, even all the attention! I was wondering about the recent years, but good to hear that you are still in the business and have done a lot before that! Good luck with whatever your doing over at DreamWorks right now!

Brian Riley writes:
Thanks Dennis - yep still hanging in there after 46 years - and you know what's most funny is that when I started (as a runner, tea boy, messenger, general dogsbody) my boss said gloomily, 'the job can't last, traditional animation is out of style, it'll be computers and video in a year or so, nobody will need film rostrums, we'll be out of business'.

Well he was right in some ways, but 20 years after that, his company was still going strong and the the company I was at, we were still shooting on film, using much the same methods, albeit with a bit of computerized control of the camera.

It was not until the late 90's when the revolution finally hit and everything went CGI and we all had to learn new skills!

Dennis van Hout writes:
True, it has changed much since then. But in more recent years we are also getting a bit more of traditional 2D projects, which I think is great. There is still quite a lot of them made here in Europe. And as the films from Cartoon Saloon prove, there is still a market for it worldwide. I work in both 3D and 2D animation, but my personal preference is with 2D animation.

Brian Riley writes:
...ah but using computers to some degree presumably? You're not painting cels and shooting on a rostrum camera are you? At least I hope not for your sake!
2D animation is never going away. Are Warner Brothers cartoons suddenly outdated or unfunny now because they're in 2-D? No, not at all, Bugs and Daffy etc are just as great as they ever were!
Just how it's produced will change.

Dennis van Hout writes:
Haha, no you are right, years ago I started with animating on paper, but now I'm mostly working digitally. Using the tools we have!
If the story or gag is good, it will work in any medium!
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Re: The Thief and the Cobbler: Recobbled Cut Mark 4

Post: # 11322Post Garrett Gilchrist »

The Majestic Fool, aka the Nasrudin film script. Portions of this survived into The Thief and the Cobbler.
http://orangecow.org/thief/Majestic%20F ... enplay.pdf
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Re: The Thief and the Cobbler: Recobbled Cut Mark 4

Post: # 11346Post Garrett Gilchrist »

The backstory of The Thief and the Cobbler, and how it never got completed, is a sad and fascinating one that captivated me since I first heard about it in 1989.

There are now hundreds of Youtube videos, podcast and blog posts telling the story of what happened to The Thief and the Cobbler.

And none of them get it right. And they tend to get it wrong in the same ways, over and over again. Because they're building off of one another, or just a general lack of knowledge, or bad sources.

For one thing, it's funnier to portray Richard Williams as completely out of control. The truth is so much more complicated than that.

They garble the story because they're figuring it out from incomplete information in the wrong order at all times.

And none of them have ever approached me to look over the script for this, to talk to me, and correct the record at all.

In fact, generally speaking they use my footage for 100% of their video and then don't mention my name, and try to cut me out of the story entirely in a way that leaves a hole in it. "Some people did a Recobbled Cut" is often the best I get.

They seem to instinctively blacklist me, and that builds on itself. I spent 8 years restoring the film, and they're building off of my work, but they don't want to acknowledge that. Instinctively.

In many corners of the internet, if my name and work are mentioned, people will immediately make up some weird insulting story or lie about me, and had been doing so for years. I kept running into this when trying to reach out to new fandoms. Eventually some of these young people admitted they were jealous of what I'd accomplished. But it's one of many similar disinfo campaigns that are ruining my career now. Anyway the way some people talk about Richard Williams is far worse.

I used to watch or listen to these videos, and then have to take notes and write whole long essays explaining how this was wrong. And it was awkward, and I felt weird about it. When Richard Williams died I spent a week or two writing essays nobody read, in a futile attempt to correct the record.

I recently spoke to some people who had done a whole history of the film. They seemed to be learning about it as they were recording the audio, and probably knew less than their own intended audience. It was all jumbled up.

I said I'd be happy to speak to them.

I haven't heard back.

Commenter:
"Every time I hear some dipshit YouTube reviewer bring up the old rumour that there were no storyboards used I want to throw a brick at my window. That myth needs to fucking die already."

Mm hmm.

I mean, I can kill that one in one sentence:
"He was still using the Nasrudin boards and didn't want outsiders to know what he was up to."

If your source is an animator who only says negative things, and wasn't working with Richard at the time of the 1990 production, that's not a good source. He doesn't actually know anything. People have poisoned the well who should have known better.
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Re: The Thief and the Cobbler: Recobbled Cut Mark 4

Post: # 11349Post Garrett Gilchrist »

Roger Rabbit audiobook with Charles Fleischer. The "pig head" is mentioned.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=k8k4SezUhFc


Podcast with Imogen Sutton
https://podcasts.google.com/feed/aHR0cH ... AQCg&hl=en
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Re: The Thief and the Cobbler: Recobbled Cut Mark 4

Post: # 11359Post Dennis88 »

Very fun and informative podcast with Imogen Sutton, thanks for sharing!
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