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.

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