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The Black Hole Memories by Dorse Lanpher

Tuesday, March 10th, 2009

The Black Hole Memories
From the autobiography of Dorse A. Lanpher
“Flyin’ Chunks and Other Things to Duck”

Copyright © Cinefantastique

In early 1979 I was working at Walt Disney Productions on The Black Hole, a live action film with animated effects. The spectacular success of George Lucas’s brilliant Star Wars inspired Walt Disney Studio’s to do a film which would cash in on that sci fi success. I had just finished working on the hand drawn animated effects for Pete’s Dragon, another live action film. Don Bluth who had directed the 2D animation for Pete’s Dragon was talking about leaving the studio with John Pomeroy and Gary Goldman to do the animated film, The Secret of NIMH.  Don had mentioned that he would like for me to join them as special effects supervisor. Even though I was intrigued by Don’s offer I felt I had a professional obligation to finish The Black Hole and was having a good time doing it. Jack Buckley, a long time Disney effects animator, had retired as effects department head and left me in charge as the animation effects department supervisor. Ted Kierscey, an effects animator, was helping me animate the laser blasts, rocket engine exhaust, and various visual effects that at the time, before computers, only 2D animation could accomplish. Don Paul was just out of the Eric Larson animation training group and he was assisting us. There was even some input from Brad Bird, later to become a successful director for Pixar Studios. During a conversation with Brad he revealed his successful directorial future when he expressed some ideas about how I might animate the laser beams when the actors fire their hi tech weapons. The production designer of the film was Peter Ellenshaw. A successful fine artist who was honored as a Disney Legend in 1993. (more…)

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