Friday, 14 November 2008

Tal Rosner lecture

Tal Rosner is another BAFTA winning film-maker. Recently we were lucky enough to recieve a lecture by him at our college on his work.

The focus was mainly on his work over the last four years or so...

He firstly completed a graphic design degree and then an MA at ST Martens studying the moving image pathway. During this time he learned the software (mainly after effects) by himself. Largely it seems, by trial and error.

The first part of the lecture consisted largely of clips of his films, first of which was DOPPELGANGER; This was his final piece for his Masters degree and he regards it as his 'true starting point, his first complete film'.
The film for the work was made by attaching the camera to a train that ran around the london docklands. The film has been edited in after effects and transformed into a piece of moving, mirrored mesh of pattern and mood set to an exciting techno soundtrack.
The screen would split off like a kaleidoscope into quarters as segmented parts of mirrored film dubbed to be in time with the music.

Following this he obtained what he had thought would be his dream job working within a larger crew on big projects. This he soon realised though would not be the opportunity he first thought and he became unhappy, wanting more time for his own smaller, personal projects.

After explaining this he showed us another film, a collaboration with a pair of female pianists playing music written for two pianos. The particular piece he made a film for was by STRAVYNSKI; This film again concentrates a lot on pattern and rythm, with the buildings becoming more abstracted throughout it's progress.
The screen is mainly split centrally and use of colour, speed and rythm as well as different types of scenery are all used as part of Tal's visual language throughout.
It's fun to think how different things might be employed and to note how green fields and passages of buildings, factories and industrial sections all move with different movements of the music. Or for example, how at one point the pointed mark of an unusual singular stab of a bass key which is out of sync with the rest of the music, is signified with the negative static image of a singular tree. A repeated motif.

This sort of synchronisation and pattern it seems is something Tal has tried to improve upon with his work, the next piece DEBUSSY BLANC ET NOIR showed even more experimentation with this sort of translation.
During this film different sort of mood was portrayed whilst footage of mainly coastal areas was displayed. Reversing the film, much use of statics and a lot of changes of the images using the strong manipulation techniques available with the Adobe suite it seems have been employed.

Much more compositing of images is used now and the effect is again interesting and different.

Off the back of the Stravinsky piece Tal says he managed then to secure a job producing a low budget title sequence on the E4 project that became SKINS. He showed us a film of the first title sequence of the series.
After explaining that this was final edit version number 72(!!! :0 ), he explained how some of the original ideas for had to be modified, like how originally they had planned nine different outros as well as the famous intros for each character.
This work has a much more commercial feel and but it definately feels in line with the rest of Tal's earlier work.

Another piece he showed us was very much a musical endeavor where he had worked with his friend Sophie Clements. He called this his first collabritive piece with a lot of analysis and communication of how the film should work.
The piece was made in time with a wind up piano and really just has to be seen to be appreciated. Follow the link.

He carried on to speak about his collaboration with the London Symphony orchestra on The seven days of Creation. A project that meant employing six screens being projected above the orchestra and synchronising his effects with the music.
We talked about some of the issues this raised technically, including how the conductor would be able to ensure that they stayed in synchronicity and how the images and footage were chosen, how much time was needed to be spent working so closely together.
It seems as though there was a lot of very close debate as to what would work when and how.

He went on to explain about a newer piece commissioned by Channel 4 as part of their annual animation schemes designed to challenge the boundaries of animation. This forced him to find new avenues of inspiration and he began by basing it around a circle around London that he had found interesting for various reasons.
The film, WITHOUT YOU was as much about the sounds that went with the footage as it had been filmed and the emotional impact of this.
He also explained the influence of the poetry of the artist Josef Albers which has helped to inspire the film. He as eager to point out the fact that few people realised that Albers had a collection of poetry as he is obviously more widely recognised as a visual artist.

He was asked afterwards about his personal influences and he named mainly work from the period of about 1905-35

He states that he tries to provoke an emotional response with his work.

He sees himself more as a sculptor of images. An intersting thought considering the amount he manipualtes the resource at his disposal.

Saturday, 8 November 2008

Vera Neubauer @ the cornerhouse

Just got back from the cornerhouse, went to check out the drawing exhibit (the intertwining line, more about that later) and managed to catch another talk about contemporary animation (Tal Rosner was yesterday and again, more about that in another post...).

For those of you that are unaware Vera Neubauer is a two time BAFTA award winning film maker of more than 30 years.
Born in Chezchoslovakia, she moved to Germany to study applied art, then later on to printmaking at the royal college where she moved on to the moving image. Here, although it was not being officially taught in schools until about 1985, she began to study animation.

It is perhaps due to this unstructured, experimental, method whereby she was; "given a camera and told to go and find out how it worked herself", that her work is so loose and immediate.
The ink & brushwork she employs so often is intrinsic to the nature of her films, they convey a sense of immediacy and spontanaity and are a good tool for the process whereby, "the communication of the idea is more important than whether or not it is a fine, intricate, beautifuly crafted drawing..." In-fact she sees her drawings; "more as designs".

She was eager to stress throughout the interview that she felt it was more important to keep the energy up thoughout the creation of her films. That; "any loss of enthusiasm shows in the finished piece."

We saw a total of four examples of her films in the short time we were allocated, all incorporating the loose drawing style, we were infromed that these pieces fitted in more with the theme of the exhibition. They were;

"Cannon Fodder." c1971.
Her final piece for the Royal College, London.

"Lady Of The Lake." c1995.
A fairy tale type affair with that underlying moralistic theme, bewitching and clever.

"The Mummy's curse."c1987.
Of which we only saw five minutes, which was a shame ...It was only just getting started.

"I Dance." c1999.
Which is only about a minute long.

"Wheel of Life." c1996.
A biblical episode whereby the story of Adam and eve then Cain and Abel is told by use of a mix of stop frame animation using sand as the medium and film of the sea and other elements mixed together. She said that the story of the bible contained all of the elements she wanted to convey.

When asked who her influences were she became a little confused. She explained that we are bombarded by many, many things every day and to try to extrapolate only one or two influences from all of these things was foolish. She employs any medium which suits the purpose for her idea which in turn fuels her originality.
She did howerver (after some cajoling) mention Robert Breer.

I would say that there was a heavy influence of african style in much of her imagery.

Her films are an interesting mix of suggestions and visual metaphors and ideas that there is almost too much going on sometimes.
They are complex and yet simple they make a good representation of an emotional state, sometimes turmoil, sometimes joy, sometimes just plain awe. Any trick is employed to create the desired motion of the characters and elements and to portray their thoughts and feelings.
One moment the camera will shake back and forth to simulate a character sahking their head in hesitation, the next, the picture before us changes from a couple in coitus, then exploding into myraid shapes and forms.

She was a little perplexed that making one film with some adult themes in meant that all of a sudden she was percieved by the industry as somebody who only makes films purely for adults. She played down any mention of feminist angles in her films, although there was certainly a hint of freudian language.
It seemed to be a need for Vera to work in some isolation and out of the 'heirarchies and structure,' of animation studios, to retain her freedom and creative sense that she has ended up working this way. She takes her influences from things she sees around her and usually on quite a tight budget.

She has no immediate plans for the future, no comissions in the pipe line anyway. It seems that the peaks and troughs of demand for her type of work depand on the fickle nature of the fine art community.
And so it seems she has now earned herself a little 'play time'

Friday, 7 November 2008

The Intertwining Line

Chris, I really recommend that you get yourslf along to the latest exhibition at 'The Cornerhouse', The Intertwining Line : Drawing as Subversive Art, some of the drawing of little ideas is absolutely stunning, with such a sense of craft and sensitivity - like the image posted, by Rachel Goodyear. Many of the drawings have been used in simple animations. It is free entry. Below is a link to further information about the show:

Thanks Jo...already had it pencilled in to the diary... Looks good.

Thursday, 6 November 2008

Animation studio in the uk

Just recording something about this studio working out of Dundee.. I found them whilst browsing ComputerArts magazine. They'd won an advertising award for a short film and have some interesting things going on..
It seems as though they are quite keen to hire graduates and more experienced staff at the moment. They need help using some specific 3d software to further aid them in thier efforts to produce waht is predominantly children's animation.

Wednesday, 5 November 2008


Stephane Tartelin is another designer that uses a lot of line drawings and (very) muted pallettes...But is also someone who has crossed many boundaries with their art, producing illustrations, animations and 3d graphic work...

His use of line I find very interesting..Almost confused, just enough to suggest more to the character...never misplaced. The way he works with form, distorting and warping his creations is something I find easy to admire.
The range of work displayed on his site is so broad that you really should look for yourself..Truly someone who does not feel compelled to work within too many boundaries.

Sam webber

Her is a piece by Sam Webber I particularly like... Ethereal, very moody sort of fantastical. The expresion on the characters' face tells the story.

The major points for me are the looseness of line, the informal way they mix on the page. These muted pallettes keep cropping up; pretty washy.

More on jeremy

Was looking again at Jeremy Forsons' work. Trying to decide what it was that drew me in...I always admire good draftsmanship.
I suppose I like the comicky style to the line art as well as maybe the slightly macabre subject matter. I also find it interesting to see how he mixes in various textures and text, reminiscent of Dave Mckean...

O.K .....So, you asked...

This work by Yoku Shimizu is amazing . There is so much going on. Great use of patterns and texture without becoming confused and a lovely flow to the composition with all the elements given just enough space to breathe whilst retaining that nice sense of proportion.

I always seem to prefer things like album/book covers, sometimes posters...they usually have more time lavished on them and look better for it....After all, you can't force art, can you.