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Posts Tagged ‘Animation

“I don’t think that there is any such thing as an old film; you don’t say, ‘I read an old book by Flaubert,’ or ‘I saw an old play by Moliere.'”*…

 

Stop Motion

 

A reprise of a sort…

If you were going to pick just one silent era stop motion short to watch–just one!–I’d happily recommend an early work by Ladislas Starevich: The Cameraman’s Revenge (1912). Yes, you’re reading that right–from 1912! Because despite being over a century old, it showcases a timeless skill, serves as an excellent introduction to silent era stop motion, and is pretty funny, if you ask me. Plus, depending on how well you know your classic comedies, the story just might be familiar…

 

If Buster Keaton had been Russian… and had worked in stop-motion: “Thoughts On: ‘The Cameraman’s Revenge’ (1912)

* Alain Resnais

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As we meet the beetles, we might send grateful birthday greetings to James Arthur Baldwin; he was born on this date in 1924.  An essayist,  novelist, playwright, poet, and activist, he explored the intricacies of racial, sexual, and class distinctions in essays (as collected, for example, in Notes of a Native Son and The Fire Next Time) and in novels (like Giovanni’s Room and If Beale Street Could Talk, which was adapted into an Academy Award-winning film).  His unfinished manuscript, Remember This House, was expanded and adapted for cinema as the Academy Award–nominated documentary film I Am Not Your Negro.

In 1965, Baldwin met William F. Buckley at the Cambridge University Union to debate the proposition before the house: “The American dream is at the expense of the American Negro.”

Baldwin delivers his remarks slowly, somehow seeming both passionate and cool, like jazz. He is mesmerizing, as shown by the camera cutaways to the audience that sits rapt.

It almost seems unfair, a distortion, to excerpt Baldwin’s remarks because as a work of rhetoric, it surpasses even the best of Martin Luther King or JFK…

Perhaps it was brave of William F. Buckley to rise after Baldwin’s speech and take the opposite proposition, though it was likely far braver for Baldwin to accept the invitation in the first place. History has not provided a transcription of Buckley’s remarks, but in the video we can see that he scores some debaters’ points with some citations to authority and statistics. He garners laughs with a clever line or two. As compared to his 1961 editorial, Buckley’s stance is already moderating, as he never implies that blacks are savage and uncivilized as he does in that document.

In the end, the Cambridge Union Society took a vote on the proposition: “The American Dream is at the expense of the American negro.” The yays outpolled the nays 540-160.

Baldwin in a rout.

source  (see also Baldwin vs. Buckley: A Debate We Shouldn’t Need, As Important As Ever“)

 

 

“Animation can tell more than live action”*…

 

Tokri

 

A clumsy accident leads a young girl onto the streets of Mumbai in the hope of making things right. A gentle and touching father/daughter story depicted in exquisite stop-motion from Indian animation mainstay, Suresh Eriyat and his Studio Eeksaurus.

The idea for the story of Tokri came to Suresh from an incident that happened in his life. A little girl walked up to him one day at a signal trying to sell him some baskets. In Mumbai, one often finds beggars at traffic signals, and most of them are usually children. Suresh did not think much of it and shooed her away. As he drove off, he was hit with guilt, wondering what circumstance made the little girl sell baskets, and what if his brashness had done little but drag her situation for longer. He was perhaps her umpteenth attempt at selling it. There began his inspiration for the story.

Suresh wished to revive the popularity of clay animation through this film. Although clay animation is known to be a painstaking process that is both time consuming and tedious, it is an art that gives life to inanimate objects, bringing with it an energy on screen that shines through, one frame at a time. The project thus began with an enthusiastic group of young artists who had never worked on stop-motion of this scale before, and had never anticipated that it would eventually take 8 years to complete…

See the 14 minute film:

And you can peek behind that scenes of the production– and see how very hard Suresh and his team worked to earn the dozens of awards and accolades they’ve justly scored:

 

[TotH to Boing Boing]

* Makoto Shinkai

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As we celebrate skill, we might recall that it was on this date in 1964 that Universal Studios, in the Universal City area of Los Angeles, opened to the public as a theme park.  (It had been in operation as a motion picture studio since 1912.)

285px-Universal_archway_2019 source

Also on this date (that is, today) Hong Kong Disneyland is closing indefinitely due to a resurgence of the coronavirus (having re-opened about a month ago after a pandemic-driven closure).  While Universal Studios LA is also closed (though the City Walk shopping area is partially open), the Orlando-based Walt Disney World and Universal Studios Florida are open, both with warnings that suggest “Exposure to COVID-19 is an inherent risk in any public location where people are present; we cannot guarantee you will not be exposed during your visit.”

HK Disney

Hong Kong Disneyland

source

 

Written by LW

July 15, 2020 at 1:01 am

“The chief difficulty Alice found at first was in managing her flamingo”*…

 

flamingo

Flamingos (alive)

 

Why do flamingos stand on one leg?

… because it’s the easiest way to stand: their knee locks up and they balance perfectly, so they don’t have to engage any muscles. They can sleep standing one one leg.

Scientists tested whether they really didn’t have to use any muscle tension by getting dead flamingos and trying to balance them on one foot. Which apparently works.

The reason flamingos sleep on one foot is because the waters they live in are toxic. They live in lakes that are either filled with blue-green algae (usually a menace, its poisonous to most animals) or lakes so salty they can strip off human skin. (I imagine this is an advantage because there’s not much competition for food and nesting space in a toxic lake.)

Their legs are covered in tough, scaly skin, but their bodies are softer. If they were to sleep floating on the water like ducks do, the water would burn them. This idea of living your whole life perched…

Via @mckinleaf and her ever-illuminating newsletter The Whippet: “Dead flamingos can stand on one foot.”

* Lewis Carroll, Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland

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As we achieve balance, we might recall that it was on this date in 1913 that cartoonist John Randolph (J.R.) Bray first exhibited his animated film, “The Artist’s Dream” (later retitled “The Dachshund and the Sausage” for reasons that will be obvious).  Bray was not the first animator; indeed, he was following purposefully in the steps of fellow cartoonist Windsor McCay, who had added animations of “Little Nemo” and “How a Mosquito Operates” to his stage presentations.  But Bray earned a place in the history of the art by being among the first– arguably the first– animator to organize his work and his studio according to the principles of industrial production (that’s to say, with division of labor)– an approach that has survived to this day.

 

 

Bray source

 

 

Written by LW

June 12, 2020 at 1:01 am

“I think if human beings had genuine courage, they’d wear their costumes every day of the year, not just on Halloween”*…

 

ghosts

 

With an eye to Thursday’s festivities, a collection of photos, circa 1897-1918, of children (from the Bronx) dressed as ghosts: “Costume.”

* Douglas Coupland

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As we give face to our fears, we might recall that it was on this date in 1966 that CBS premiered It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown.  it was the third Peanuts special (and second holiday-themed special, following A Charlie Brown Christmas) to be produced and animated by Bill Melendez.  It was also the first Peanuts special to use the titular pattern of a short phrase, followed by “Charlie Brown”, a pattern which would remain the norm for almost all subsequent Peanuts specials.  And it was one of 17 Peanuts specials (plus a feature film) to feature the music of Vince Guaraldi.

250px-Great_pumpkin_charlie_brown_title_card source

 

Written by LW

October 27, 2019 at 1:01 am

“Turn! Turn! Turn!”*…

 

Woodstock

 

The young people who assembled at the Woodstock music festival in August 1969 epitomized the countercultural movements and changes occurring in U.S. society at the time. One commentator described the three-day event as “an open, classless society of music, sex, drugs, love and peace.”

The “open” display of these activities at Woodstock was a direct challenge to the relatively conservative social views of the time…

Half a century later, Gallup offers a rundown of the major ways U.S. norms have changed: “10 Major Social Changes in the 50 Years Since Woodstock.”

* the title of a song written by Peter Seeger in the late 1950s, but adapted (and made into a hit) by The Byrds in 1965.  The lyrics – except for the title, which is repeated throughout the song, and the final two lines – consist of the first eight verses of the third chapter of the biblical Book of Ecclesiastes.

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As we ponder progress, we might recall that it was this date in 1995 that Sailor Moon debuted in the United States.  Based on a Japanese series of manga and animated television shows, Sailor Moon recounted the adventures of a young Japanese girl who discovers her destiny as the legendary warrior Sailor Moon and bands together with the other Sailor Scouts to defend the Earth and Galaxy.

The US TV series ran for four seasons.  The manga has sold over 35 million copies worldwide, making it one of the best-selling shōjo manga series. And the franchise has generated $13 billion in worldwide merchandise sales.

sailor moon source

 

Written by LW

September 11, 2019 at 1:01 am

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