HOA Notes 11_14_2011

Over The Sea and Puppets Abound!

Today in Class we went back to Norman Mclaren and watched in full 3 of his most well-known animation.


The syncopation of this video is incredible, every note of this piece gets a shape, form, or action to illustrate the movement of an abstract nature.

A Phantasy


This piece was what really made Mclaren’s work known to a wide audience. The narrative of the piece had such wide appeal that it won the approval of the public.

In class we then switched the geography yet again and went across the sea’s to Europe. The craft of animation there was not so studio-ized like the United States, but there were still restrictions on the very content an animation showed. Independents really had a place to learn and practice their craft in a much more personal way, not through the loophole and politics of a studio.

Each country in Europe seamed to have their own style of storytelling through the traditions and craft of their culture. Not to mention the influence politics had upon the content of an animation’s work.


Jiri Trnka

The Hand

To me this animation’s main theme of the film is centered around the idea of the individual artist against the government and how restricting the content an artist can produce or in this case ordering an artist to do a piece of work against their wil, will end in a very poetic death.

It’s poking fun at the confinement of artist all while still maintaining a beautiful aesthetic quality. Also it has a playful nature in the soul of the puppet, who wants to create pots to protect a beautiful flower he is growing.

Riblie Oko Yugoslavis


This piece’s graphic style is freaking crazy! Not to mention the dark humor used in it is kinda disturbing. I know this piece must to relate once again to the struggle of the country but I do not really get if the fish is a metaphor for masses of the Czech republic or what.

Zbigniew Rybczynski Poland


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Alright this piece is just astonding on the level of busy craziness this piece presents in detail and keeps throughout most of the piece. And it was all done the manual compositing way! Shooting on film and matching together all these actions, people to perfect timing would be such a huge feat to undergo! As far as narrative goes I’m not sure what I can make out story wise, but it all seems to fit together and be plausible in that one setting.

At this point in class we started talking about how animation can be extremely global. “Movement is the one language that can not lie.” Animations can be shared around the world for animations are a global dialogue! But this being said each country (as I said before) has it’s own voice, tradition and tools/levels of craft within that culture. Puppet making has it’s own context with other cultures, as it is a traditional craft from used long before animation came around and was used in theaters.

China’s animations are full of their country’s traditions, culture and the influence of their geographical location (bamboo is used in a later animation to build the characters). In American animations it’s the process that really influences the art. The leading inventive forward spirit creates new and better inventions to cut down on the process time, the craft is really ever changing.

This principal basically boils down to the fact that Old Countries = Craft/ Cultural Tradition.


In Russian not only was their tradition and culture influencing their animation, but around this time Russia (then the USSR) was in a constant race with other countries- specifically America. The space race competition translated well into animation, and the Russian government promoted the production of films in order to compete with America’s animated history. But since these animations were commissioned by the government, it meant that each one was very controlled by the state and the animators were left to work with what they had and their craft.

Yuri Norstein

Hedgehog in the Fog

The is a very important film to Russian stop-motion history, not only is it a visual ascetic achevment, but it’s story can relate to the struggle of Russia. What that direct relation is I’m not sure of though.

Yefim Gamburg

Passion of Spies

This animation is playing off of the amount of spy movies around this time, all dealing with the Space Race, Arm’s Race, and Cold War. But it’s humor definitely strikes me, even though I was at first scared by the creepy man getting his teeth worked on in the beginning.


Priit Parn

Night of the Carrots

Priit Pärn – Porgandite Öö by umyde

This animation really shows the odd sense of humor that Estonia has even though their country was severally oppressed and overrun.


Now talking about countries being oppressed by their government, China is the case in point with their early control of the content of animations. Today it’s much less restricted, but as you can see by the short films I could find, their content was limited back in the day to be more of a continuation of their craft traditions. Especially Deer and Bull which was made with a medium (bamboo) that was closely infused with their environment and culture.

A Da 36 Characters (could not find a video online)

Zou Qin

Deer & Bull

Hu Jinging

Cat & Rat (could not find video online)

Te Wei & Qjan Jiajun

Where’s Mama?

Dneynik (Zagreb Studios)

Journal, 1974 (could not find video online)

Then to transtition into our next class period we watched a Documentary on Ray Harryhausen who was an amazing stop-motion special effects and character animator who worked in Hollywood.

Here is a link to some of his work (just google videos)


He made the imaginable possible in film, making dinosaurs, missing links, monsters, and skeletons come alive on the big screen.


HOA Notes 11_07_2011

Monday 11/6

The Experimentalists

This class was all about the other side of animation history, the side often looked over since the people involved in it were not 100% a part of the studio system that had taken over most animations.

This class was about the independent animators that experimented to expand the definition of what the cinema was. They were making non-objective art that related to fine art and expression than just pure storytelling.

The First video we watched was Walter Ruttmann’s Lichtspeil Opus I

His work along with many other experimental animators (which I will talk about in a bit) payed homage to art history and the fine art being created during their time. The movements in art played a definite role to help shape the break from tradition these animators did. Surrealism, Dada, Futurist, and Abstract expressionism all lead way to true expression of the animator and just pure experimentation.

Walter’s work was about pure movement of shapes, lights and shadow to the synchronization of music, which is called Synesthesia. It’s the connection of imagery to music, the idea of having an animation be a expression of the musical note and having that musical note represented in a visual form. The work of

This topic of music and animation synchronization lead to talk of music videos which have a much longer history than the start of the MTV and rock bands. In fact our class discussed how MTV took a lot of material from independent animators and tried to package it as something new, and ended up turning all of this experimental animations expressing thought into a commodity.

But we then shifted gears (kinda) and watched some pieces by Hans Richter:

Rhythm 23

And Ghosts for Breakfast

With these Hans was really showing movement in his work and how the juxtaposing of images one after another effected the content and meaning an audience saw in the final combination of all those images. This is seen clearly in Ghost for Breakfast where the film is more of a collage of surrealist imagery that together combine to sort of build a narrative around “ghostly” acts. The collaging of imagery really made the audience find relationships between the images within the context of the video and forces them to view an image in a new way in relation to the images around it.

In Rhythm 23 Hans was doing about the same thing Walter was doing, trying to show visual interpretations of music through form and movement, but he tackled it in his own way. With these very abstract images each frame is like an abstract painting, a new way of expressing the self and letting the pure idea emerge from the self.

This idea of a Non-objective structure to animation was continued by the work of Viking Eggeling:

We watched Symphonie Diagonale

In this piece Viking is using shapes that can not be recognized, he is deconstructing the sounds of music into shapes. Like Walter and Hans he is using the music as the driving force of the film’s motion and slight narrative. Although he is playing with the audience’s expectation of a film to tell a story. Why does a film have to tell a narrative story when it can show expression through shape, form, color and motion? The states were really to blame for turning animation into a comity, they wanted consumers for a product. In Europe the focus on animation was not so much consumerist, but more geared towards expression of one’s self and to be involved more so with the fine art world.

Yet what these independent animators were always doing was experimenting, which brings me to the next figure-head we talked about, Len Lye.

In Len’s works he is experimenting by scratching, coloring and messing around on actual film. He was the sort of start of motion graphics by his commercials and personal work. His use of color and form appealed to the senses and his animations often had a slight narrative form.

We watched a TV Interview with him from 1960 and he was deadly serious of his craft and it shows throughout his work and personal attitude. What must be said about Len is that he truly pushed capturing motion and form through his animations.

The main titles of Scott Pilgrim VS The World pay homage to him:

Oskar Fischinger 

The next big figure head we talked about was Oskar Fischinger:

Here is a link to his works


He often stated that music was itself abstract so his abstract animations used that structure in order to give something to the audience that they could hold on to and associate with. Music was a way in which the medium could communicate through. Much of his work also associates with his personal beliefs in buddist mediation and study.

Compostion in Blue really shows the integration of music and image in a sort of abstract dance. They play off of one another while still standing strong on their own.

With Oskar he really wanted movement to be seen and expressed in his work.

The last player we talked about was Norman McLaren, who I have a personal love and appreciation for. His capturing of movement, his experimentation to capture the sensations of the mind and to actually dive into

We watched a documentary of his life and work, which really showed how much of a bad-ass this guy was. He animated directly onto film, to stop the separation the animation had from the camera. Not to mention that it was all timed to music to once again (like Oskar) use that music as a way to get the audience on board with the movement and abstractness of the animation.

What I really love about Norman McLaren is how much of his personal self is seen in his piece’s. His work was made around the time of Freud and the Surrealist’s so he used animation as a tool to dive into the inner sanctum of his mind and unconscious. The frame by frame add on animation he did really helped that journey and it showed his true following of thought.


HOA Notes 10_31_2011

Monday 10/31

UPA and Writing

On Monday’s class we started off taking about the importance of knowing how to write a decent paper, one that clearly states a person’s thoughts and presents valid useful information is a readable way.

Doug recommended Stephen’s King’s book “On Writing” and the associated press guide as helpful resources to use when writing narrative or more formal style papers.

Then as a shift towards animation we listened to Jules Engel on webofstories.com talk about his role in the creation of the UPA and his role as an animator in it.

Also we briefly discussed the Disney strike and what being pissed off at Disney did for animations after the animators left Disney. Fuel by what they hated at Disney and the knowledge they gained from working for Disney allowed animators like Jules Engel and other UPA animators to create amazing works of animation on their own terms. UPA was in short the antithesis to Disney, and lead the way for more independent animation work to get known.

UPA started up right along side the time when Television was introduced into society. T.V. changed the game for animation and pretty much birth the technique of limited animation into the medium. Whenever there is a new technology introduced into animation it creates a new wave of experimentation and technique in the craft, which changes the strict roles that until then completely controlled animation.

Take for example what computers and the Internet have done to animation distribution. Back when animators had no other choice but to go through a distributor they would have to hold their work up to the standards and expectations of the person paying to show their work. With the introduction of the internet there is no 100% strict way to control all methods of distribution so it allows for animators to create works of art that otherwise may never have had the money or chance to get seen by others. There is no more complete control; it’s more of a democracy setting that allows for equality in distribution.

After this discussion we started to watch some UPA shorts (that sadly were viewed at a rather low quality youtube level) and then talked about the formal elements used within the films. The UPA animators were deconstructionists and used this to really make a graphic style in their work.

The Tell-Tale Heart short is a example of how the aesthetics of a piece can establish tone and mood. The backgrounds often several perspectives at once tie in reference to modern art at the time.

In Gerald Mcboing Boing, the characters are held to no real model sheet, their design changes to help enforce their emotion and the minimal background which had not really been seen before animation in the 50s allows the viewer to really interact with the animation by visualizing what’s not there.