Mrs. Brisby’s Concrete Cinder Block

Mrs. Brisby's Concrete Cinder Block

Mrs. Brisby’s Concrete Cinder Block

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.

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3 Responses

  1. Spokavriel (Daniel T. Stack) says:

    Who is out there to step up to the plate and keep such magic alive? It sounds like the most mind blowing amazing effects were able to be attributed to this one great man who has moved on. He is missed. He is needed desperately by many newer movies. Even live action special effects these days could have used his creativity. Are there any more shots of his model? It looks amazing.

  2. Brian says:

    I completely agree with Spokavriel! I had no idea such a detailed model was created for The Secret of NIMH! It’s amazing! I’d love to see more behind the scenes images! 😀 I too, wondered where Mr. Bluth and his team disappeared to over the years. When I saw the campaign, I was so excited! In a world where attention to detail and that certain dash of realism in art seems to be dying, especially in American animation, it’s like walking the desert and not even seeing any mirages. Dragon’s Lair the movie, for me, feels like a hopeful oasis seen in the distance. ^__^ While not very good at it, I LOVE art and animation. So it’s amazing to actually be a part of this. Even if all I could do is contribute to the campaign. ~_^

  3. Azathoth43 says:

    What’s the chances this piece has survived?

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