A complete CGI recreation of Syd Mead’s production sketch of Chinatown that was never recreated in the film! This is part 3 of the making, creation of electric signage.
You can see the some electric signs written in Chinese on the Syd Mead’s production sketch.
Probably Mead drew these Chinese words from a Chinese magazines or photographs. I began my work by deciphering these Chinese characters. It is shame that it was impossible to identify most of the Chinese characters. I think that Mead copied only the general shape of the Chinese characters.
For example, the Chinese characters on the far right sign reading “CDXT” resemble “墓, grave” “基, base” and “豊, abundance” but none of them match perfectly. The one drawn on the sign on the far left may look like “香, fragrance” but it is subtly different.
Finally, I too decided to substitute a kanji that only resembles the general shape.
龍光堂, Lung-Kwong-Tong, Dragon Light Hall
The Chinese characters drawn by Mead are similar to”墓, grave” “基, base” and “豊, abundance”. but I chose “堂” which means “hall” in Chinese. I assumed that the “hall” would be preceded by a Chinese character indicating the name of the hall, so I decided on “龍光堂, Lung-Kwong-Tong, Dragon Light Hall”.
仙楽 ,Shen-Ra, Fairy Music
You can see two Chinese characters in Mead’s Illustration. The first character is probably “東, East”. The second character is illegible. I chose “仙楽 ,Shen-Ra, Fairy Music” because a woman is drawn and because the sign in the foreground is the name of the hall.
拉麺, Ra-Men, Noodle
I could not decipher this kanji at all. I chose “拉麺, Ra-Men, noodle”, because the “G”ish illustration looks like a noodle scooped from a bowl.
大楽新, Ta-Ra-Shin, Lumine
I could not even decipher the Chinese characters in this illustration at all. I chose “大楽新, Ta-Ra-Shin, Lumine”.
How does a animating electric board animate?
Now, in Mead’s illustrations, You can also see the electric signs that may change and move the text and shapes. I have no way of knowing what kind of animation Mead had in mind, but it was a very enjoyable task to imagine the animation based on the shape of the illustrations and the relationship between the letters and the placement of the illustrations.