Analog Car Chase

Okay, we've been down this road before. It’s a mountain road in merry old England but it's a fun ride. Before we go further lets remind ourselves how primitive things were only a few decades ago. I was fortunate enough to work on this amazing sequence in Walt Disney's “101 Damatians.” It would appear we were making the movie pretty much in sequence and this is not always the case in feature film production. In any event, this was the final act where the evil Cruella DeVille finally pays the price for her evil deeds. Of course, movie ends on a high note when Roger, Anita, Pongo, Perdita and all the puppies gather together to sing, “We'll have a Dalmatian Plantation.”

However, let's go back to that lonely London road and the final chase sequence that wraps up the end of the movie. If you remember, Cruella DeVille is roaring full tilt down the snowy mountain highway in her roadster. We didn't have the luxury of digital technology in the old days and animating vehicles was always a daunting task. The clever guys in Woolie's layout department came up with the idea of filming scale model cars and trucks as guides for our animation. We painted the vehicles white with a black outline to help in the photography. This would make our use of the print out rotoscopes a lot easier to read. The black outlines were to be our guide because we had no vector graphics to depend on back in the fifties. In this shot you see layout artist, Basil Davidovich on the left. That's our cameraman in the center. Unfortunately, I can't remember his name. Animator, Dick Lucas manipulates the large truck or lorry as Cruella’s roadster causes the vehicle to lose control on the icy road.

Clearly what we were doing was pretty low tech when you consider the tools we have today. Yet, that's the cool thing about working “Old School.” You do what you have to do with the tools you have. Computers were still amazing devices regarded for science fiction movies. We could not even imagine the way animation would be created in the years ahead. This was still the late fifties. A date that seems almost like the stone age when it comes to technology. In spite of all this, we managed to craft a pretty effective chase sequence that provided the cap for movie's finale. It was a wild mountain pursuit that gave the audience a few chills, thrills and a satisfying ending. Having a computer would have been a big help. However, I honestly think we had more fun doing it this way.