Throughout the 80's I was doing a lot of hand drawn electricity animation work. Starting from my very first shot on ABC's AUTOMAN show, starring Desi Arnaz Jr. in 1983. It's kind of a lost art in the digital age, as is most hand drawn animation involving paper and the photo-chemical process.
We would first rotoscope the series of frames on animation paper, then animate in pencil or pen the desired fx on the corresponding frames. Then the animation would be shot on hi-con film producing a hold out pass to be run through an optical printer. There would be many exposure tests called "wedges" to find out the desired look for each frame. We would use various filters, gels, and passes to brew up the most mouth watering stuff we could do.
The Automan shots lead to Fx Direction for "MISFITS OF SCIENCE" starring the then rookie, Courtney Cox.
Later, I'd get calls to do fx on a number of films through out the 80's; NIGHTMARE ON ELM ST 3, STARCHASER; LEGEND OF ORIN, PHILADELPHIA EXPERIMENT, MY SCIENCE PROJECT, MY DEMON LOVER, BIG TROUBLE IN LITTLE CHINA, SOLAR BABIES, POLTERGEIST II, BILL AND TED'S EXCELLENT ADVENTURE, FIEVEL GOES WEST, COOL WORLD, DEMOLITION MAN, and ADDAMS FAMILY VALUES, to name a few.
Electricity animators were cast just like actors. My style was more gothic/cartoon, while other artists such as Chris Cassidy was more humourous. John Van Vliet was more in the realistic vien, such as HONEY, I SHRUNK THE KIDS and HONEY, I BLEW UP THE THE KID.
These bolt lightening techniques have long since been replaced by digital procedural methods involving no drawing whatsoever. More on Automan.