Driving from New York to Austin in December 1997 over a four day period resulted in "Roadhead," a short film of digitally animated interviews by Flat Black Films' Bob Sabiston and Tommy Pallotta.

The dynamic animation captures the spirit of those people who were randomly interviewed in various towns during the road trip, by emphasizing their unique facial impressions. "Some people naturally just turn on in front of the camera and other people need to be coaxed," says Pallotta. "The ones that need coaxing usually make more interesting animated characters." The interviews were shot using a Sony miniDV camera (VX1000) and edited on a Media 100. A group of twelve animators volunteered over a period of four months to finish "Roadhead".

To create the unique animation, Sabiston developed proprietary software which allows animators to create highly expressive, hand-drawn animation based directly on video source material. The software essentially provides artists with an entirely new visual medium. The new animation technique combines the best aspects of hand-drawn animation with the efficiency afforded by computer interpolation techniques. The software differs from other products in its unique approach to interpolation control, which occurs on a hand-drawn, line-by-line basis.

The result is animation that is as expressive as any traditional illustration, but which also has an entirely new "floating" look due to the computer smoothing effects. "I wish to promote the idea that complex imagery is in no way a requirement for an entertaining and artistic digital film," says Sabiston.


Directed by Bob Sabiston
Produced by Tommy Pallotta