New York City-based DMA Animation has produced two minutes of character animation based SATURDAY NIGHT LIVE'S (SNL) CHURCH LADY to be used in casino games for Bally Gaming and Systems (Las Vegas), a division of Alliance Gaming. Licensed from NBC and Broadway Video, Bally will install CHURCH LADY in casinos nationwide, and internationally, in June. Slot players can expect to spin the reels and be treated to animations of the character, complete with all of her trademark mannerisms and saying such as "Well, isn't that special?" and "Could it be Satan?"
Re-creating a live-action character, truly a pop icon created by Dana Carvey as believable and engaging animated content presents a big challenge. "We had to translate to paper all the sensibilities of the Church Lady. Animators walk a fine line in terms of exaggerating things," explains DMA's animation director Tony Caio. "The secret is to determine what is truly important about the character's appearance," yet not be too realistic. They focused on Church Lady's small and very identifiable hand gestures and quirky mannerisms that make her who she is the way she positions herself in her chair, the visual punctuation she provides as she purses her lips or tucks her chin into her neck.
The DMA animation team created a multitude of elements for the CHURCH LADY animation including backgrounds, and game symbols such as SNL and Church Chat logos, a canned ham, a devil head, halo, blazing devil, church organ, chair, bells, collection plate and stained glass windows. However, players who make it past the initial level of play to the bonus graphics, are treated to a sophisticated animation of the oh-so-pious Church Lady, perfectly realized right down to her rumpled socks, performing her trademark "Superior Dance" accompanied by Pearl on the organ.
To facilitate the production process, DMA set up a secure client Website for their client to monitor and approve all stages of development including character designs, storyboards, model sheets and pencil tests. The 2D animation was drawn by hand, scanned into Cambridge Animation's Animo for digital ink-and-paint and then composted the character animation with Adobe Photoshop 7.0 backgrounds in Adobe AfterEffects 5.5. Some 3D characters or prop elements were created using Maya. DMA used Mac G4s as well ad as Dell Precision 530 boxes with Windows 2000 and Adobe Illustrator to execute this project. There was no offline or online editorial.
DMA's team also included executive producer Samantha Berg, lead animator Bryan Cox, animator Kirsten Petersen, ink-and-paint artist Adam Burke and clean-up artist Tim Shankweiler. Mickey Roemer, Bally gaming and systems SVP of sales and game development, said Bally is establishing environments within casinos, entire SNL areas, and the initial launch will include CHURCH LADY. This is the most aggressive use of an intellectual property by a slot machine manufacturer, according to Roemer. Previously, slot machines have focused on one particular game show or theme, so the concept of utilizing a brand that is so broad is unique to the industry. DMA is at work on another Bally casino game project, WAYNE'S WORLD, featuring Carvey and Mike Myers.
DMA creates animated content for television, film and new media. Visit the DMA Website at www.dma-animation.com.