In 1993 Harald Siepermann worked on the movie Balto, the third animation feature from Steven Spielberg’s Amblimation studio. Balto was based on a true story about a husky dog named Balto who was the leader of a sledge dog team that, under difficult weather circumstances, had to transport medicine from Nenana, Alaska, to a little town called Nome, to save children from a deadly epidemic.
Once the production was launched the team was in need of additional storyboard artists. Hans Bacher, who was the Production Designer on Balto, recommended Harald Siepermann to the producers. While Siepermann is more known for his character designs, he also had a long resume as storyboard artist through his work for his Mad T Party company, his work on the duck Alfred J. Kwak, and on the Walt Disney/Steven Spielberg picture Who Framed Roger Rabbit.
In August 1993 Siepermann went to the Amblimation studio that was located in London, where he worked until the end of the year on the visualization of the script into a storyboard. Below are storyboard thumbnails of the scene were Balto meets the white wolf and is resurrected after he had fallen from a high cliff.
In the spring of 1987 Harald Siepermann and Hans Bacher worked in London on character design of the weasels for Who Framed Roger Rabbit. When their work was finished, Animation Director Richard Williams asked if they wanted to go to Los Angeles and work on the storyboard for the ‘Escape from Toontown’ sequence. In this sequence Eddie Valiant, played by actor Bob Hoskins, finds himself in a cartoon world.
In June, Siepermann and Bacher flew to Los Angeles and worked for several weeks at the Amblin Studio, that was located at the Universal Studio lot. Nobody had worked on this sequence yet, therefore Siepermann and Bacher had to start from scratch. Director Robert Zemeckis gave them the task to draw and write down everything they could think of and to include a lot of Tex Avery jokes. Siepermann and Bacher drew the funniest storyboard that run up to 15 minutes. Eventually only 45 seconds was used in the final version of the film. Among these seconds was also the elevator scene with Droopy.
“What a great movie and what a great experience that was,” commented Harald Siepermann years later. “Remember, this was way before computers and we did it as we went along. Wonderful times… I may sound like a war veteran here, but those were great times. Think of it: just a few years ago, I had been a student of Graphic Design, now I was right in the heart of Hollywood, in Spielberg’s office.”
Below is a part of the storyboard by Harald Siepermann and Hans Bacher.
Click here for a post with more information about the Escape from Toontown storyboard from the wonderful blog of Hans Bacher.