Posts Tagged ‘Animation’
“Being virtually killed by a virtual laser in a virtual space is just as effective as the real thing, because you are as dead as you think you are.”*…
Long before Oculus Rift and HTC Vive, the paper peep show—a small, layered diorama that expands like an accordion to create the illusion of depth—was a way for audiences in the 19th century to peer into times and places beyond their own experience. A popular souvenir in their day, peep shows brought to life scenes of the completion of the Thames Tunnel and the Great Exhibition of 1851 to masquerade balls and theatrical stage sets. Now, they’re delightful pieces of ephemera from another time that suggest that desire for immersion in other worlds stretches back centuries…
Peep shows, also known as tunnel books, are widely considered to be the ancestors of animation and film. Peering through a peep show in the 21st century might as well be an analog version of virtual reality—one that transports you to a different time altogether…
Take a peek at “Paper Peep Shows Were The Virtual Reality Of The 19th Century.”
* Douglas Adams
As we don the goggles, we might recall that it was on this date in 1908 that Émile Cohl‘s Fantasmagorie was released. Considered by film scholars to be the first animated cartoon, it had tremendous influence not only on the future of animation, but also on early nature films.
A display of concept drawings by the seminal movie artist Albert Hurter have shed new light on some of the rejected characters who didn’t make the cut in Walt Disney’s 1937 film Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs.
The final lineup – Doc, Grumpy, Happy, Sleepy, Bashful, Sneezy and Dopey – was selected from a pool of around 50 brainstormed by his team; in the Grimms’ original 1812 story, the dwarves are anonymous.
Although many of the ultimately rejected names – including Jumpy, Deafy, Dizzey, Hickey, Wheezy, Baldy, Gabby, Nifty, Sniffy, Swift, Lazy, Puffy, Stuffy, Tubby, Shorty and Burpy – were already known, the artwork reveals how close some of them came to actual animation. The drawings were sold as part of an auction of 400 pieces at Bonhams in New York that raised a total of £500,000…
* The Evil Queen, Walt Disney’s Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs
As we whistle while we work, we might spare a thought for James Gilmore “Jim” Backus; he died on this date in 1989. A voice and screen actor, Backus appeared in myriad television and radio programs and films, from Francis in the Navy and Ma and Pa Kettle Go to Town to Rebel Without a Cause and Hurry Sundown. But he is surely best remembered as Thurston Howell, III, on the 1960s sitcom Gilligan’s Island, and as the voice of the amusingly visually-challenged cartoon character Mr. Magoo,
How old are the fields of robotics and artificial intelligence? Many might trace their origins to the mid-twentieth century, and the work of people such as Alan Turing, who wrote about the possibility of machine intelligence in the ‘40s and ‘50s, or the MIT engineer Norbert Wiener, a founder of cybernetics. But these fields have prehistories — traditions of machines that imitate living and intelligent processes — stretching back centuries and, depending how you count, even millennia…
Defecating ducks [see here], talking busts, and mechanized Christs — Jessica Riskin on the wonderful history of automata, machines built to mimic the processes of intelligent life: “Frolicsome Engines: The Long Prehistory of Artificial Intelligence.”
* David Mitchell,
As we take the Turing Test, we might spare a thought for Eadweard Muybridge; he died on this date in 1904. Best remembered now for his pioneering work in photographic studies of motion (created for former California Governor Leland Stanford to help settle a bet), and early work in motion-picture projection, he was famous in his own day for his large photographs of Yosemite Valley. The approaches he developed for the study of motion are at the heart of both animation and computer analysis today.
Here is a parable. For decades, a master artisan crafts works of beauty and genius. His creations are acclaimed by virtually all who behold them. Nearing the end of his life, the artisan, wealthy and revered, his name rightly and indelibly etched into the history of his medium, sets out to describe for posterity how he created such great works, the discipline underlying their brilliance. He writes down the rules he set for himself. And they are wrong…
From Albert Burneko‘s fascinating essay on Chuck Jones [c.f. here and here], his Road Runner cartoons, his “Nine Rules” for creating those masterpieces… and the profound way in which those rules miss the point. Some readers will agree with Burneko; others may disagree. But all will enjoy the journey (and perhaps especially the exquisite cartoons that are liberally used as examples):
* Road Runner
As we buy Acme, we might recall that it was on this date in 1919 that two men who were to figure prominently in the development of animation were mustered out of the armed services: A.A. Milne was discharged from the Signal Corps of the British Army, and Roy Disney was released from the U.S. Navy. Milne went on to write one of the best-love children’s series ever, featuring a character, Winnie the Pooh, that Roy Disney helped his brother and partner Walt turn into an animated staple.
Though routinely credited, as above, as “Film Editor,” Tregoweth Edmond “Treg” Brown was the genius sound-effects wizard responsible for sound editing the Warner Brothers’ Looney Tunes and Merrie Melodies cartoons starting in 1936…
His musique concrète artistry worked directly in conjunction with Carl Stalling‘s hyper-active left-field orchestral scores to create the soundtrack to generations of kids lives. So many of these sounds are completely ingrained into our collective pop-culture (un)consciousness. So much so, that reviewing some of the old Looney Tunes cartoons as an adult, you tend to ignore how utterly ridiculous the doinks and twangs are, for they sound totally natural in context—a testament to Brown’s flawless editing of sounds demanded by the images.
In addition to his incredible sound design which won him a Sound Effects Oscar in 1965 for The Great Race, Brown is also credited with giving legendary Warner Brothers’ voice actor Mel Blanc his big break…
More at “The Sound Effects Madman Behind the Looney Tunes and Merrie Melodies Cartoons.” And much more– with wonderful examples– in this short documentary (part 2 here):
* David Lynch
As we perk up our ears, we might send melodic birthday greetings to Jerrald King “Jerry” Goldsmith; he was born on this date in 1929. One of film and television”s most accomplished composers and conductors, Goldsmith scored such noteworthy films as The Sand Pebbles, Logan’s Run, Planet of the Apes, Patton, Papillon, Chinatown, The Wind and the Lion, The Omen, The Boys from Brazil, Alien, Poltergeist, The Secret of NIMH, Gremlins, Hoosiers, Total Recall, Basic Instinct, Rudy, Air Force One, L.A. Confidential, Mulan, The Mummy, three Rambo films, and five Star Trek films– in a career during which he was nominated for six Grammy Awards, five Primetime Emmy Awards, nine Golden Globe Awards, four British Academy Film Awards, and eighteen Academy Awards. In 1976, he was awarded an Oscar for The Omen.
While presenting Goldsmith with a Career Achievement Award from the Society for the Preservation of Film Music in 1993, fellow composer Henry Mancini (Breakfast at Tiffany’s, The Pink Panther) said of Goldsmith, “… he has instilled two things in his colleagues in this town. One thing he does, he keeps us honest. And the second one is he scares the hell out of us.”
From Katie Steckles, help for the Holidays…
Special Holiday bonus: the story behind those massive bows that bedeck cars given as Holiday presents.
As we fold with care, we might recall that it was on this date in 1937 that Walt Disney released the first full-length animated feature film produced in the U.S. (and the first produced anywhere in full color), Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs.