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Tuesday, August 12, 2008

"101 Dalmatians" (1961) - 6-Cel Set-up on a Master Background

This is really a fantastic set of images from "101 Dalmatians" of Pongo and the Colonel! The Master Background is great and there are six cels, including Pongo, the Colonel, several snow effects and black outlines. In my experience, a Master Background with 1-3 cels is reasonably common, but having 6 cels is somewhat more rare.

6-Cel Set-up on a Master Background

The problem I have found when framing high cel count images is that each cel layer tends to restrict some light and add additional reflections, which tend to result in an overall "dull" feeling. Why is this a problem in the home and not in the production? It's my understanding that in the production process, the images are lit from 45-degree angles to avoid direct reflection and the cel layers are compressed with a cover sheet of glass to avoid wrinkles. To address the problem when showing the images in a non-production environment, some collectors and dealers trim the cels and apply them to a single cel. It certainly does eliminate some of the problems, but I have always been reluctant to trim one of these classic images.

While some of the reflection in the image below is due to my poor photographic technique, you can see some areas were the various cel layers produce a wavy quality. The reason why the image above doesn't seem to have any problems is that before I framed the image, I placed the background and cels on my scanner and piled several heavy books on top to smooth out the entire group...

----- DATABASE NOTES -----

From “101 Dalmatians” (1961). A 6-cel set up of Pongo and the Colonel on a master background. [Item: 14.5"W x 11.5"H] Acquired 1998. SeqID-0287


  1. Hi Bob! In shooting animation, there are many hazards, including dust, shadows, reflections and scratches. Then there are the Newton's Rings, which always made many cameramen's hair turn gray at an early age. To battle these as well as scratches and reflections, most cameramen shot with polarized filters on the lights and (turned 90°) on the camera lens. Some didn't, as it did mean a slight loss in the color, but normally it was worth it. I do not know when this became standard practice. The cels were pressed down by a pane of optical glass, the platen (which in itself could make Newton's Rings). Some cameramen would use talcum in some way, as the rings seem to occur in more humid environments...

  2. Hans - Thanks for the note. I forgot to mention that I use a polarizing filter on my camera when shooting artwork most of the time. Sure didn't on this one! I'll have to re-shoot it. Now that you mention it, there have been a few times I've ended up with a similar Ring effect when scanning an item with lots of cels. Didn't have a problem this time, but it has popped up every once and awhile. The talc is a new one to me... I would agree with your comment about about the Rings and higher humidity. During the winter at the house the indoor humidity is about 15% (and we have baseboard heat instead of forced hot air). With two big humidifiers running in the basement area, I can only get the humidity up to about 35% -- lower than I would like, but still much better than 15%.
    Thanks, again, for your comments. You learn something every day!

  3. Hans -- By the way, how do handle the dust issue in production? In looking at some of the old Disney photos it doesn't look like there was a very high level of sophistication in filtration. When I was doing documentary film editing in the mid-1970's we had a fairly good filtration system that pushed pretty good into the editing room creating a positive pressure to keep too much dust from entering the room when people opened the door...

  4. Hi Bob! At Disney's in Burbank (don't know about Hyperion) they used to have a slight over-pressure in the camera department, and an air lock where dust and lint was blown from the clothing of those entering. This info I received in 1978. As to humidity - Denmark can be pretty humid - we used to have problems with that all the time. Of course nowadays these are all old-timer stories as none of these things are issues in cyberspace...

  5. Hans-- thanks for the update. I know that there was some work being done in the 1970's with clean room efforts, but I don't think there was much going on in the 50's and 60's. I was surprised the images looked as clean as they did...

    Thanks, again..