Throwback Thursday to 1980. In order to deal with multiple points of view for storyboarding and layout, we decided to build a physical blown-up set for the interior of Mrs. Frisby’s (Brisby’s) home in a concrete cinder block. The assignment was given to Dorse Lanpher (above, on the left). This was the day that Dorse unveiled the hand made set to show John, Don and me. So we decided to take a photo of it for posterity, or for publicity…or if there were ever to be a book about the movie and/or our careers in animation.
Dorse left Disney in early January of 1980 the Special Effects animation supervisor, always ready to take on a variety of assignments and, as always, he came up with brilliant, simple solutions to complex challenges. Especially the use of back-light exposures for creating high-lights on water surfaces, bubbles, back-lit eyes for the Great Owl and Nicodemus, mysterious back-lit design shapes appearing in the environment, twinkling Christmas tree lights that lit the paths, as Mrs. Brisby makes her way into the rose bush and down to the entrance of the Rats hidden colony, deep underground, the atmospheric glow from Nicodemus’ diary when Mrs. Brisby reads about her husband’s heroic aid helping the rats escape and his tragic death, the big finale with Mrs. Brisby risking her life to save her children and Auntie Shrew by raising the sinking cinder-block home from lava-like pool of quicksand using back-light to emphasize the energy of the molten lava and its splashes as the cinder-block rises from the muck to safety.
Dorse Lanpher worked on Banjo the Woodpile Cat in Don’s garage, and the animation sequence we did for Xanadu and was the supervising Special Effects animator on The Secret of NIMH, Dragon’s Lair (VG), Space Ace (VG) Dragon’s Lair II: Time Warp (VG) An American Tail and The Land Before Time. In 1988 he was recruited to work on Who Framed Roger Rabbit at Disney London and at its completion returned to Burbank and continued to rack up Special Effects animation credits on most of Disney’s traditional animated feature films until his retirement in 2004. Dorse passed away in December of 2011 at the age of 76.