lastbelle lastbelle

TRAILER: “The Last Belle” by Neil Boyle

Last Belle

Fifteen years in the making.
35,000 hand drawn, hand-painted cels.
Shot onto 35mm movie film on a rostrum camera.

This is Neil Boyle’s The Last Belle, a recently completed short that will be playing on the festival circuit in 2012. If the mind-bending subway shot in the trailer reminds you of Richard Williams’s The Thief and the Cobbler, that’s no accident. Boyle worked as an assistant animator to Williams and the layout artist on Boyle’s short, Roy Naisbitt, also laid out the wild perspective scenes in The Thief and the Cobbler. Boyle discussed the path he’s taken to making this short on his website:

“I came into the animation industry on Who Framed Roger Rabbit and at 20 years old I was one of the youngest there. I was lucky enough to learn from the Disney veteran Stan Green (who had been assistant to the legendary Milt Kahl on many classic Disney films) and I became assistant animator to Richard Williams who was (and remains) amazingly generous with his vast knowledge of animation lore and technique. I was in the middle of all this, the archetypal kid-sponge, sucking up all the information I could. And then one day I went to bed and woke up 40 years old. Or so it seems. Then I was surrounded by a new wave of 20 year olds who – unlike me at that age – were already masters of their craft: the digital age of animation. So I had (and have) a lot more learning to do. The Last Belle is the project I’ve used to bridge the gap between old and new. A chance not just to read about the ‘old ways’, but to try them all out for real, guided by veterans of the craft.The interesting next step is to combine the old with the new and see where it takes us…”

More info and a blog with fascinating making-of details can be found on Enjoy it while you can because this will surely be among the last hand-drawn, cel-painted films shot on 35mm.

  • Excitement level rising :) !!!

  • Tony

    I cannot wait to see this. It looks wonderful.

  • TStevens

    Last of 35mm shorts… I have moments when I get sentimental for the old days and then I realize just how complicated the process was. If you have never had to paint or shoot on camera it can be difficult at best and expensive beyond belief. I’m still surprised that people are doing it. I think we broke our Oxberry down in December of 99: at that point you could barely give them away. They were beautiful pieces of machinery though. There is something oddly romantic about how the process use to be done as compared to the present. Now it’s all about one guy at a computer jamming out what use to take maybe 9 or 10 people.

    This short is looking very cool. I’m hoping I get to see it.

    • Chris Sobieniak

      I know one guy’s who’s doing so on 16mm with his little cartoon! I find it rather thrilling to shoot on film myself.

  • Julian Carter

    Interesting that the perspective shot that Amid compared to The Thief and the Cobbler is certainly reminiscent of the latter. However, the background does not seem to be animated, as in those mind-bending illusion tunnels as the cobbler is chasing the thief.

    I wonder if Wiliiams would use the computer nowadays to create such scenes (as Disney did with films like Aladdin and Tarzan) as opposed to actually drawing the background in perspective for every frame.

  • I am lucky enough to have seen the film and interviewed Neil Boyle about it. In the interview he discusses Roy Naisbitts approach to the layout in the underground to get the effect of drunkenness. Its a stand out scene of the film.

    There are parts of the film which I thought were CGI or assisted digitally but every single piece of animation in this film was created in the strictly traditional manner.

    Here is the interview for those interested –

    I really recommend everyone go and see this fantastic piece of work.

  • This looks wonderfully english…

  • Neil

    The kind of animated feature i have been waiting to see for a very long time.
    15 years in the making ? Looks like it was well worth the wait.

  • Fraser MacLean

    Neil and Roy were generous enough (along with the equally generous Scott Caple) to agree to take part in a 2-hour Layout-centric presentation at the 2011 Bradford Animation Festival back in November. Not only were they kind enough to allow “The Last Belle” to be screened at the conclusion of the Bradford presentation, Roy and Scott then accompanied me all the way to Bournemouth University where, following a repeat of the BAF presentation two days later, they were both deservedly hounded for autographs by an enthusiastic near-capacity crowd of students, drawn from the various Bournemouth University and Bournemouth Arts Institute animation courses (traditional and CG). It was a rare delight to see this area of animation design skill appreciated, promoted and celebrated. Hats off to the amazing John Leatherbarrow too – along with all the other magnificent rostrum camera operators around the world whose work has so often been either passed over or misunderstood. “The Last Belle” is a masterful and hilarious animated short – and – it’s a seriously impressive technical and artistic feat. Hurry to see it when it comes to your neighbourhood….!

  • Looks like the kind of gem that you unearth in a vhs rental bin. Except it’s brand new. Looks beautiful!

  • Looking at it for the first time, I thought Richard Williams made this since it’s similar to “The Thief and the Cobbler.” I’m both surprised and impressed that it was created by another animator who used to work with Williams on two of his films.

    Thank you, Neil Boyle, for bringing us this wonderful hand drawn film.

  • Brian

    Most of the time I don’t give a shit about anything… but this has got me SUPER EXCITED! Hooray!

  • This animation is just plain incredible. I want to see this short so bad now.

  • A Painter

    hand drawn animators have to be the most talented people on the planet. am so amazed by their work. i remember seeing animated movies before I knew about the process and shrugged it off. but when i got interested in animation and learned it for myself I just watched princess and the frog trailer and was amazed by such talent. You really get a sense of one’s hard work in 2D animation.


  • John

    I definitely see a Richard Williams influence in this!

  • Moikez

    I’ve been lucky enough to see the whole film. I also went to the Rushes Animation festival. This would have won without question.

  • This is so great to see, specially these days, where you see mostly not so fluid animation or animated cutouts.
    It took a while for Neil to make it but it was time and effort well spent and gave me some much needed inspiration to continue working in traditional hand drawn animation.
    Congratulations, Neil. I can’t wait to see the whole short.

  • I must see this.

  • Andreas Wessel-Therhorn

    Neil is a great animator . I did my very first professional inbetweens for him and he was patient and generous with his knowledge. Can’t wait to see his short.

  • celia

    This made my Friday afternoon. But cels, really? Cels: in 2012? Congrats to Boyle for the extra effort.

    This film looks so good, I might want to buy some of those cels!

  • Ompiwopgo

    I’ve seen this film – it’s brilliant. One of the best animated shorts I’ve seen.

  • How exciting, I love the old-school ways of animation and this looks amazing. A true work of art. For a film to be done this way today is truly unique and shouldn’t go unnoticed. That subway layout is amazing. I’ll be spreading the news.

  • Wow! That sequence where the guy fell down the stairs was trippy as hell. Already, I have high hopes for this new movie. I can’t wait to see it now. :)

  • Clint H.

    The film looks absolutely beautiful. I wish that there was a worldwide release of this, or maybe a DVD release?

  • I have to watch this one! I love Pixar and all, but for once is nice to see something different to the CGI style

  • Maya A.

    That’s uncanny. As soon as I saw that subway screenshot, I immediately thought of The Thief and the Cobbler. I can’t wait to see the finished short; it already looks fantastic.

  • Hal

    Nothing but smiles here.

  • OMG! Fifteen years!!!

    But it shows! This looks fantastic!!! Can’t wait!! :)

  • Respect!!

    But i’ll agree with that other guy, CELS?!! Plus he hired young talent to help out? Hmmm….

    This visual style is very Ronald Searle-esque as well. Indeed very British.

    Regardless of how I feel about having it shot in 35mm, I’d still love to see this.

    Congrats to all involved.