Tuesday, January 23, 2007
Monday, January 22, 2007
A legend of the golden age of animation, Charles Martin ("Chuck") Jones was born on September 21, 1912, in Spokane, Washington. He grew up in Hollywood, where he observed the talents of Charlie Chaplin and Buster Keaton while working occasionally as a child extra in Mack Sennett comedies. After graduating from Chouinard Art Institute in Los Angeles (now California Institute of the Arts), he drew pencil portraits for a dollar apiece on Olvera Street. Then, in 1932, he got his first job in the fledgling animation industry as a cel washer for former Disney animator Ubbe Iwerks.
In 1936, he became an animator for the Leon Schlesinger Studio (later sold to Warner Bros.). There, he was assigned to Tex Avery's animation unit, joining the Warner Bros. team that made LOONEY TUNES and MERRIE MELODIES in a back-lot building that he and other Warner animators and directors nicknamed "Termite Terrace." It was there that the personalities and characteristics of Porky Pig, Bugs Bunny, and Daffy Duck were developed and produced.
At the early age of 25, Chuck Jones directed his first animated film, THE NIGHT WATCHMAN, which was released in 1938. Up to 5,000 animation drawings were used for the six-minute cartoon. As director, he timed the picture, finalized all of the writing, produced more than 300 layouts, and directed the art design, music, sound effects, and animation.
During World War II, he directed Army training films with a popular 1940s character, Private SNAFU, as well as a re-election film for President Franklin D. Roosevelt. Heading his own unit, he remained at Warner Bros. Animation until it closed in 1962, though he had a brief stint with Disney Studios in 1955 during a hiatus at Warner Bros. He then moved to MGM Studios, where he created new episodes for the Tom & Jerry cartoon series. While there, he also produced, co-directed, and co-wrote the screenplay for the critically acclaimed full-length feature THE PHANTOM TOLLBOOTH, and directed the Academy Award-winning film THE DOT AND THE LINE.
Chuck Jones has become a true icon of creativity by directing such mini-epics as WHAT'S OPERA, DOC? (1957), which featured a Wagnerian Elmer Fudd invoking the great elements against a cunning Bugs Bunny. In December 1992, WHAT'S OPERA, DOC? was inducted into the National Film Registry for being "among the most culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant films of our time." And last December, he became the only director to have two animated shorts among the Registry's 275 films when DUCK AMUCK was added.
In a career spanning more than 60 years, he has made more than 300 animated films and has earned four Academy Awards, including an Honorary Oscar in 1996. He has been awarded three Honorary Doctorates, most recently by the American Film Institute in June 1997, and has received countless awards and distinctions from throughout the world, including the Directors Guild of America's Honorary Life Membership Award.
The eternally youthful octogenarian recently created a new character, Timber Wolf, for a series of cartoons on the internet for Warner Bros. Online and Entertaindom. He also revisited one facet of his creativity by dedicating himself to the creation of fine arts drawings and limited editions, which can be collected through the family-owned Chuck Jones Studio Galleries in Laguna Beach and San Diego, California, and Santa Fe, New Mexico. In order to recognize, reward, support, and inspire continued excellence in the art of animation, he created The Chuck Jones Foundation in the spring of 2000.
Chuck Jones died at his home in California on Friday, February 22, 2002 at the age of 89.
Considered one of the "masters" of experimental animation, Alexeieff began making animated films at age 30, when he invented the pinscreen, a board with thousands of tiny holes in it, each one with a metal pin inside. When a light is shone on the screen at an angle, the protruding pins cast shadows of varying length onto the board, which when viewed from a distance (and photographed) create varying shades of gray. By making subtle movements of the pins in between photographing frames, he was able to create animated films resembling the etching techniques he had mastered earlier in his career. Published in French and English by Dreamland, a European publisher specializing in comics and animation, Alexeieff: Itinerary of a Master is a compendium of 15 essays by Bendazzi's colleagues: animator Yuri Norstein, composer Michele Reverdy, filmmakers Dominique Willoughby and Claudine Eizykman, scholars Robin Allan, Guy Fihman, Marco Fragonara, Nikolai Izvolov, Oleg Kovalov, Georges Nivat, Anne Saint-Dreux and Cecile Starr, as well as Alexeieff's daughter, Svetlana Alexeieff-Rockwell and grandson, Alexandre Rockwell. Bendazzi's introduction seems to have been written by him in English, and reads much like a conversation with a non-native speaker. I wonder if it would be more coherent if he had written the book in his native Italian and had it translated by a professional. The following essays vary greatly in style, from fawning praise to intellectual analysis, often overlapping in subject matter. It doesn't seem like Bendazzi "assigned" the topics to the writers, and as such the book lacks overall coherence. I found the most interesting reading to be those chapters that offered facts, anecdotes and quotes from the artist rather than just pure analysis. For me, the primary value of the book lies in its 200-plus crisp illustrations in color and black-and-white; reproduced etchings, beautiful still frames from films, photographs of the artist, his studios and equipment, friends and family. Many of the images are quite large -- half-page or filling two-page spreads -- offering an incredible amount of detail. Many of Alexeieff's book illustrations for novels by Dostoyevsky, Gogol, Poe and Pushkin are reproduced in the book. The meaning of these illustrations are explored in Nirat's essay, while Fragonara's goes into great detail about the techniques he used, such as xylography, etching and aquatinting. The toxic chemicals he used for these methods caused him severe illness early in life, as recalled by his daughter in her chapter of personal memoirs. Svetlana Alexeieff-Rockwell's essay also details the emergence of Claire Parker into her family's life, first as a protégé and later as "the other woman" who became Alexeieff's wife and creative partner. It was around the time that "talkies" or sync sound films were becoming mainstream that he decided to illustrate music through films, rather than literature through books. Izvolov's essay explores Alexeieff's identity as a mystic and prolific inventor, noting that his idea for the pinscreen actually struck him during a crisis where he felt that his inspiration had deserted him after years of book illustration. He notes that later, Alexeieff and Parker invented a technique called "totalization," which was a way of creating "illusory solids" with long exposures of moving lights on pendulums, that looked very much like the images produced on an oscilloscope. The technique was used to great effect in commercials, which took most of the couple's creative energy following their return to France after WWII. In fact it is their commercial work that places them in the context of their animation contemporaries John and James Whitney, Mary Ellen Bute and Norman McLaren who were experimenting with similar animation concepts. Saint-Dreux's essay looks at Alexeieff and Parker's commercial work, revealing that Alexeieff saw little difference between his artistic and commercial endeavors. He said, "The important thing in life is to create. That's the only thing that interests me. If L'Oreal wants to sell a bar of soap, I don't think about the product but the invention I could achieve." Willoughby's chapter, "Cinematic Synthesis," compares the pinscreen technique to the pointillist painting style perfected by Seurat. It is described in Eizykman's essay as "engraving the film screen," a concept that Alexeieff shared with other filmmakers such as Berthold Bartosch, who subtitled his 1929 film, The Idea: animated engraving, and Herman Warm, the set designer for The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari, who said "the screen must become an engraving." It is revealed in other chapters that Alexeieff was also influenced by the films of Emile Cohl, Fernand Leger and Man Ray. Robin Allan compares Alexeieff's first pinscreen film, Night on Bald Mountain (1933), with the same sequence in Disney's Fantasia, made seven years afterward. Although Allan says there is no "direct evidence" that Disney artists [or Disney himself] saw Alexeieff's animated version of the Mussorgsky musical composition, he provides a convincing argument that Disney was influenced by European artists, and that being inspired by Alexeieff is a distinct possibility. Composer Michele Reverdy's essay contains enlightening reflections on film's relationship with music, comparing meanings of form, rhythm and counterpoint in musical, visual and temporal composition. Russian animator Yuri Norstein, whose work has a similar aesthetic and narrative style to Alexeieff's, includes in his essay an illustration detail comparing an ox character from his film Tale of Tales to Alexeieff's Three Moods, both made in 1979. That the two share cultural mythologies is common of artists from Russia. Although he spent most of his life in France, Alexeieff's identity as a Russian native plays strongly in his work. But describing Alexeieff's identity solely as an individual is the grave oversight of many of the essays in this book. In her essay, Cecile Starr writes, "The tendency has been...to give all credit (or blame) to one participant in the filmmaking process and neglect the contribution of the team." This has certainly happened with Alexeieff and Parker, as evidenced even in the very title of this book. For instance, Bendazzi writes in his introduction "her true country was Alexandre Alexeieff" and describes their relationship almost as one of worship. Starr, who was friends with "Claire and Alosha" provides insight into the life of "the other half," from her origins as a wealthy American art student to her role as Alexeieff's patron, wife and creative partner. The two are described as "an inseparable team" in a letter written to Starr by Norman McLaren (published in the book), who invited them to make En Passant (1944) at the National Film Board of Canada. Later, Jacques Drouin (who created the cover illustration for this book) made films with the small pinscreen they left there, and became like the son they never had, says Starr, noting the sacrifices Parker made for their art, including not having children. Alexeieff once said that without Claire, he never would have made films. He couldn't live without her either, and took his own life a year after Claire died in 1981. Alexeieff's legacy continues in the work of his grandson, Alexandre Rockwell, an independent filmmaker who created films such as Lenz and Four Rooms. His memoir at the end of the book reveals the influence his grandfather had on him. He writes: "I can safely say there has been no greater influence in my life, and in that I know I am not alone."
Source : Wendy Jackson HallWendy Jackson Hall is a U.S.-based freelance writer, animator and educator. Her bibliography and other details are online atwww.jacksonhall.com.
Sunday, January 21, 2007
Since the beginnings of time, human beings have tried to capture a sense of motion in their art. From the eight-legged boar in the Altamira caves of Northern Spain to paintings alongside the remains of long-dead pharoahs, this quest for capturing motion has been a common theme throughout many of mankind's artistic endeavors.
True animation cannot be achieved without first understanding a fundamental principle of the human eye: the persistance of vison. This was first demonstrated in 1828 by Frenchman, Paul Roget, who invented the thaumatrope (left, click to stop). It was a disc with a string or peg attahced to both sides. One side of the disc showed a bird, the other an empty cage. When the disc was twirled, the bird appeared in the cage. This proved that the eye retains images when it is exposed to a series of pictures, one at a time.
Two other inventions helped to further the cause of animation. The phenakistoscope, invented by Joseph Plateau in 1826, was a circular card with slits around the edge. The viewer held the card up to a mirror and peered through the slits as the card whirled. Through a series of drawings around the circumference of the card, the viewer saw a progression of images resulting in a moving object. The same technique applied to the zeotrope. In 1860, Pierre Desvignes, inserted a strip of paper containing drawings on the inside of a drumlike cylinder. The drum twirled on a spindle, and the viewer gazed through slots ot the top of the drum. The figures on the inside magically came to life, endlessly looping in an acrobatic feat.
The development of the motion camera and projector by Thomas A. Edison and others provided the first real practical means of making animation. Even still, the animation was done in the simplest of means. Stuart Blackton, issued a short film in 1906 entitled Humourous Phases of Funny Faces where he drew comical faces on a blackboard, photographed them, and the erased it to draw another stage of the facial expression. This "stop-motion" effect astonished audiences by making drawings comes to life.
In the early twenties, the popularity of the animated cartoon was on the decline, and movie exhibitors were looking elswhere for alternative entertainment media. The public was tired of the old formula of stringing sight gags together without including a story line or any character development. What the art of animation could accomplish was not yet evident in this period, except for in the works of Winsor McCay such as Gertie the Dinosaur, 1914. Mccay's major accomplishment was the fact that he had developed a character in his dinosaur, something that had previously only been seen in Otto Messmer's, Felix the Cat. McCay's piece had a galvanizing effect on audiences. The notion of a dinosaur coming to life on the screen was astonishing. Of all the early animations, Felix the Cat developed the strongest screen personality, but failed to develop any further, relying on crude visual tricks to entertain the audience as opposed to developing a stronger screen persona.
"Plots? We never bothered with plots. They were just a series of gags strung together. And not very funny, I'm afraid." - Dick Huemer, 1957
At this time, many of the animations were based on primitive gags and violence, which is still true of cartoons today. One character would beat another mercilessly, only to have his victim instantly recover and return the favor. Perhaps the hero would swing his sword and reduce the villian to baloney slices, only to have him reappear as if magically rejoined.
A big change came over the industry in the mid twenties: commercialization. Big studios took over the smaller cottage industries and set standards for animation. Animators were given quotas on the number of drawings they had to produce a day. Cartoons now had to manufactured in quantity and cheaply.
The same gags were worked and reworked. Audiences became apathetic as the novelty of seeing drawings come to life wore off. This caused a depression in the animation business that coincided with the depression in the economy of the United States.
Friday, January 19, 2007
|Image: Heron and Crane|
Norstein worked as an animation artist on some 50 films before directing his first film in 1967, the little seen 25th, the First Day, which referenced his other passion, early twentieth century avant-garde painting. 'The painters of that period [1910-1920] enabled me to see the immense artistic potential of animation', he explains. To sense the graphic aesthetic. Through this project I discovered that animation is plastic time. This influenced all my subsequent work and I learned another lesson from this film: never make a concession if it goes against your conscience'.
Norstein certainly held fast to his word, running foul of the authorities on numerous occasions throughout his working life. His next film, Heron and Crane (1974), was based on a Russian fairytale. Together with Yarbusova and Norstein's other regular collaborator, cameraman Alexander Zhokovsky, the three invented a machine which allowed them to animate on layers of glass. The film was originally banned by the censors, but was eventually released after much lobbying from veteran animator Fedor Khitruk. Norstein's next film, Hedgehog in the Fog (1975) also ran into strife when he fell horribly behind schedule. On the day he was supposed to submit the completed film, only 20 per cent of it was finished. Norstein showed what he had to the Communist Party representatives gathered and they were impressed enough to allow him to continue working and complete his film.
|Image: Hedgehog in the Fog|
Unfortunately, Švankmajer's philosophically profound, visually rich and stylistically innovative work is little known beyond the relatively narrow circle of well-informed or specialized audience. In his native Czech Republic, the distribution of most of his films was suspended shortly after the 1968 Soviet-led invasion of Czechoslovakia(5) and for the rest of the 1968-1989 period, it was severely restricted; Švankmajer's bizarre, often grotesque style and his surrealist perspective were politically undesirable in the post-invasion atmosphere of cultural repression.
Although the director was never officially banned in his country, his opportunities to shoot in Czech studios (all of them state-run and state-controlled) were minimal and consequently, he worked with considerable difficulties;(6) several of his scripts could not be realized.(7) As well, little if any critical writing on his work was published in Czechoslovakia between 1971-1989.(8) For example, in one of the rare references to his work, the Czech national film monthly Film a doba (October 1988) granted the filmmaker a total of 33 words.(9)
Curiously, the outside world treated Švankmajer with equal oblivion. Only after repeated triumphs in the international festival circuit, especially after 1983 when he was awarded several major prizes for his Possibilities of a Dialogue (1982), did some doors open for the filmmaker in Great Britain, France, and other European countries.(10) His films were exhibited, and occasionally shown on television; a documentary on the artist was produced in Great Britain in 1984.(11)
Dimensions of Dialogue
Despite Švankmajer's West European successes, his work remains practically unknown in North America. Even to well informed film audiences and most professional film historians and critics, Švankmajer's name means little. Only his animation-live action feature Alice (1988), found its way onto the screens of a few large American and Canadian cities.(12) This was, however, a hesitant release. In Toronto, for example, the film was shown only a few times; the newspaper advertisements offered no useful references indicating the nature of this work or information about its author and his work. As could be expected after such neglect, the film did not do well at the box office and quickly disappeared from the theatres.(13) Švankmajer's other shorts have not been distributed in North America at all, neither theatrically nor by the television networks, including the American PBS, Canadian CBC, and the non-commercial TV Ontario. Indeed, the restricted marketing of Švankmajer's films in the West has been very similar to their ostracism by the Czechoslovak Communist authorities, however different the reasons for it may have been.
Such coincidence should not surprise. Švankmajer is an artist who never conformed to stylistic nor political fashions. His films do not placate but question, examine, and provoke; often, they conjure haunting images of a bewildering, absurd and violent universe.
The artist addresses his viewers mainly through the aesthetic impact of his images -- their composition, colour, shapes, texture and naturally, their contextuality. The narrative component in Švankmajer's works (if present at all) is usually subordinated to their visual element. For example, dialogue is absent in most of his films; among the few exceptions are Alice and The Garden (1968). Also, his use of accompanying music is unconventional, with frequent counterpoints. In more ways than one, it differs from the illustrative, dramatizing melodies of the traditional Disney-type cartoon. Švankmajer has always had close aesthetic ties with visual arts. Before he embarked upon a filmmaker's career, the artist mostly devoted himself to drawings, collages and the creation of a variety of objets d'art (1958-1964).
The range of Švankmajer's film techniques is wide. He uses object animation and live action; his preferred approach is the combination of these two techniques. "I don't like the cartoon and I prefer to place my imaginary world into reality," says the director.(14) Švankmajer often assembles clipped drawings into a collage (including film clips.)(15) One can say, he would animate almost anything: man-made objects, live and stuffed animals, plants, insects, bones, tools, all kinds of refuse, a variety of found objects, and others. Sometimes, he constructs almost the entire film in live action and complements it with a few short moments of animation. For instance, the animated "crawling potatoes" in his live-action picture Down to the Cellar (1983) endow this almost documentary-like short with a bizarre surreal twist.(16) In Leonardo's Diary (1972), Alice, Apartment (1968), and other films, an equally effective combination of animation with live action is used.
Švankmajer invariably approaches animation in a non-traditional way, preferring innovative three-dimensional techniques. Such is the case in Possibilities of a Dialogue.(17) In the first of this film's three episodes (or "dialogues"), the director transforms some of the most mundane and utilitarian manufactured objects and food items, including rulers, compasses, cutlery, paper, pencils, fruits and vegetables, into bizarre agents of metaphorical destruction.(18) In the second "Dialogue," he animates unbaked sculpting clay (formed into male and female upper torsos), achieving a stunningly realistic effect.(19)
One artistic domain is of special importance to Švankmajer: It is the puppet, the doll, the figurine, the primitive automaton. These are toys and other mechanical contraptions of the pre-industrial era which were not yet mass-produced; each of them is to a great degree a product of individual imagination and skill, indeed an objet d'art. The filmmaker is equally fascinated by the crude mechanical devices of the fairgrounds and mountebanks with their straightforward naiveté, and by the natural materials from which these gadgets were manufactured, especially wood.
Švankmajer is evidently extending the fertile traditions of Czech folk puppetry of the past two centuries.(20) He is also continuing the renowned legacy of the Czech puppet-film and experimental animation brought to mastery by Karel Zeman (The Fabulous Baron Munchhausen), and Jiří Trnka (A Midsummer Night's Dream, The Hand). Yet Švankmajer's definition of the film puppet is considerably broader than Zeman's or Trnka; unlike the traditionally poetic-lyrical approach of the two above-mentioned artists, this director often explores the bizarre, the dark and the absurd.
Švankmajer also expands the range of combinatory techniques (live action and animation) that connect him with Trnka and Zeman. Already in his early short The Last Trick of Mr. Schwarcewalld and Mr. Edgar (1964), the two main figurine-like characters are in fact live actors wearing large wooden masks covering their heads and shoulders; in The Coffin Shop (1966), hand-puppets share the stage with a live guinea-pig;(21) in Don Juan (1970), live actors are fitted with strings and special harnesses and trained to move mechanically so as to simulate life-size marionettes. And in Alice, the "live" little heroine inhabits a fantastic world of animated images.
Švankmajer directing Don Juan
Many of these techniques help to create a world of ambiguity, closing the gap between living creatures and inanimate objects. While people are often made to act like robots, the inanimate objects show a considerable degree of anthropomorphism. They get into mischief, fights, often savagery, including decapitation, infanticide, suicide, and cannibalism. One of the most subtle yet haunting scenes in this respect is the "jackknife table-dance" in Jabberwocky (1971). At the beginning it looks like an animated variation of the famous "oceana-roll dance" in Chaplin's Gold Rush -- but its haunting conclusion is unmistakably Švankmajer: The jackknife, jumping and twisting on a table covered with a white laced tablecloth suddenly stops its dance and falls flat, its switch-blade vehemently closing with an audible snap; a dark red trickle slowly pours out of the knife's "body." In another scene of the same film, a little "happy family" of innocent-looking children's dolls cutely dine at a small toy-table -- their meal consists of other cute dolls, who, have just been crushed in a (real) meat grinder.
The selection of objects and image composition are complemented by Švankmajer's considerable editorial imagination and skill. He often manipulates streams of images through rapidmontage, such as in Historia Naturae (1967), Leonardo's Diary, Quiet Week in a House (1969) and in other shorts, offering amazing and original associations, a kind of kinetic collage. Images are often combined with music, resulting in a sophisticated form of rhythmical montage. Švankmajer often uses an unusual montage technique which may well be considered his signature -- the use of big close-ups unexpectedly juxtaposed with the main action.
One of the most effective examples of this powerful technique can be found in the live-action absurdist short The Garden. In this film, the viewer is repeatedly assailed by disturbing big close-ups such as a detail of one of the two main character's Adam's apples. These images cause their otherwise innocuous conversation to appear mysterious and disquieting.(22)
Much about Švankmajer's aesthetics and philosophy can be explained by pointing to his adherence to surrealism. He has been an active member of the Prague Surrealist group since 1963. During the 1970s, he produced a series of collage art including tactile experimentations through which he examines links between the senses, specifically between sight and touch.(23) And, in the late 1980s, he edited an impressive surrealist anthology entitled Open Game (Otevřená hra) which appeared in the then Communist Czechoslovakia as an underground Samizdat publication.(24)
Švankmajer's surrealist orientation is an essential element in almost all his films. He draws from sources dear to many surrealists including Edgar A. Poe, Villiers de l'Isle-Adam, Lewis Carroll, Horace Walpole, Luis Buñuel, and Federico Fellini.(25) His symbolism and visual structures are also linked to surrealist imagery, particularly those used in the films The Apartment, Jabberwocky, and Alice. This includes some typical surrealist details like Buñuelesque insects. In the Last Trick..., for example, a beetle repeatedly crawls out of the heads of the main characters.(26)
Another significant source of Švankmajer's inspiration, (also tied to surrealism), has been the work of Franz Kafka. Says Švankmajer: "In our civilization, the dream, that natural wellspring of the imagination, is constantly blocked, and in its place we find absurdity which grants precedence to our 'scientific, rational system.'"(27) References to Kafkaesque absurdity abound in the Garden, produced in 1968, a fateful year for all Czechs and Slovaks.(28) The film's narrative is constructed around a subtle confrontation between two male characters. One of them is evidently a Novotný-era conformist who managed to build for himself a comfortable life in an agreeable country home.(29) The other man is apparently an old friend who did not do so well. Švankmajer reveals the manipulative nature as well as social status of the former in a most original way: The fence around his home and spacious garden is made of a human chain -- they stand there holding hands, quietly obeying their master's orders.(30)
In The Apartment, a series of absurd incidents follow one another (water rushes out of the stove, a chair collapses under the hapless hero, a hard-boiled egg breaks any object which is normally used to crack it, etc.) These unexpected events prevent the young man from enjoying his apartment in the usual way. It is in the conclusion of this film that Švankmajer offers another absurdist metaphor, and a direct homage to Kafka. After opening a window and finding behind it only a solid brick wall with scratched-on inscriptions and graffiti, the disillusioned and desperate hero adds his name: "Josef K."(31)
Švankmajer's manifest concern for the human condition and the questions of culture, his black humour and understanding of life's absurdities reflect the historical experience of his own country and that of Central Europe. Through his work, now stretching over three decades, Švankmajer has strived to expand the traditional definition of the animated film, beyond the limited concept of the Disney cartoon aesthetics. Without doubt he has succeeded, both philosophically, and through new stylistic and formal advances.
1. Editorial introduction to "Dossier Animation 1," Positif 345, p.36.
2. Julian Petley, Monthly Fi lm Bulletin 53, No. 629, p. 188.
3. The length of Švankmajer's shorts is traditionally 10-15 minutes; there are very few exceptions.
4. In 1985, the festival in Annecy (JICA) organized a Švankmajer retrospective. For this occasion, it also published a brochure edited by the Swiss surrealist Gilles Dunant, Jan Švankmajer l'animateur (Geneva, 1985).
5. After the 1989 "velvet revolution," all bans on films were lifted.
6. For example, the script for Down to the Cellar was rejected by the Prague Krátký film Studios; following a considerable struggle, the Bratislava Short Film Studios accepted the project. After its completion, the Czechoslovak authorities refused the initial request from the Oberhausen Festival organisers, to enter the film into competition, but they reluctantly gave up. Down to the Cellar won the Prize of the Critique.
7. Projects entitled Bleděmodrovous (Palebluebeard), Hmyz (Insects), Nikde Nikdo (Nobody Nowhere) belong to this category.
8. Some information on Švankmajer is also missing from issues of the Filmový přehled, a publication of the Czechoslovak Film Institute.
9. Veronika Kratochvílová, "Vytvarníci animované tvorby," Film a doba 34, (October 1988), 597.
10. This film was awarded Grand Prix, and Prix FIPRESCI at the prestigious festival in Annecy, the Golden Bear and Jury Award in the short film category at the Berlin Film Festival, Prize for Direction at Mannheim, and festival prizes in Sydney and Melbourne, Australia.
11. The 14-minute film called The Cabinet of Jan Švankmajer -- Prague's Alchemist of Film was directed by the Quay brothers and Keith Griffiths. Both Griffiths and the Quay deserve special credit for informing audiences about Švankmajer's films. Griffiths' London-based production company Koninck participated in other Švankmajer projects, such as the production of Alice.
12. It is very probable that the commercial release of this film was helped by the reputation of its literary model by Lewis Carroll.
13. It is now available on laserdisc.
14. Michel Ciment and Lorenzo Codelli, "Entretien avec Jan Švankmajer," Positif No. 345, p.45.
15. The influence of Jiří Kolář on some of his earlier films, such as Punch and Judy/The Coffin Shop (1966) and Leonardo's Diary (1972), is indisputable.
16. This film reveals the influence of Lewis Carroll's Alice in Wonderland; it is without doubt a prototype of Alice.
17. Traditional cartoon animation (the Disney school, for example) prefers drawings.
18. This episode also illustrates Švankmajer's affinity to the Mannerists, particularly to the flamboyant style of Giuseppe Arcimboldo, the 16th-century painter of the Emperor Rudolph II's cosmopolitan Prague. One of Švankmajer's earlier films, the Historia Naturae, was dedicated to Rudolph II.
19. The animator Vlasta Pospíšilová also deserves credit for her creative contribution.
20. Švankmajer studied puppetry at the AMU in Prague between 1954-1958. He also worked with the Semafor theatre, the Činoherní klub, and the famous Laterna Magika.
21. Often, Švankmajer includes a number of distancing techniques pointing to the medium; in The Coffin Shop, for example, the viewer sees the hands that operate the two puppets.
22. Only few directors use this technique. One of them is the Polish-born filmmaker Walerian Borowczyk who employed it in his film Blanche (1971).
23. Švankmajer regularly exhibits his artworks, often with his wife Eva Švankmajerová, a gifted surrealist painter. Similarly, his wife participates in his filmmaking; for example, she painted the playing cards and created the yellow book for his Alice.
24. The leading personality of the Surrealist group was, until 1986, Vratislav Effenberger (1923-1986); other members include Karol Baron, František Dryje, Jiří Koubek, Albert Marenčín, Emila Medková, Alena Nádvorníková, Martin Stejskal and Ludvík Šváb. The anthology, professionally printed and bound, was published clandestinely as a paperback of 210 pages with 89 monochrome illustrations. The print run was 100 copies.
25. He was inspired by Poe in his The Fall of the House of Usher and The Pit and the Pendulum; by Carroll in his Jabberwocky, Alice, and Down to the Cellar.
26. In the classic of surrealist cinema, Un Chien Andalou, made by Buñuel and Dalí (1928), a swarm of ants crawls out of the palm of a hand of a male character.
27. In Amos Vogel, "Hallo Berlin," Film Comment 24, No 3, May-June 1988, p. 63.
28. On April 20, five Soviet-led Warsaw Pact countries invaded Czechoslovakia, ending the short-lived liberal "Prague Spring" of the Alexander Dubček Government.
29. Antonín Novotný was the Communist President of Czechoslovakia of the pre-1968 era.
30. The two main characters from Švankmajer's The Garden, their mutual relationship, their social position and behaviour, in more ways than one foreshadow the characters in Václav Havel's Vaněk one-act plays.
31. A window hiding a solid wall behind it, appeared also in Pavel Juráček's acclaimed short Joseph Kilián (1963).
- Adamec, Oldřich. "Animované filmy Jana Švankmajera." Film a doba 11 (Oct. 1966), 559- 60, 563-64.
- Benayoun, Robert. "Jan Švankmajer et ses paliers (Alice)." Positif, N. 346, 46-47.
- Ciment, Michel, and Lorenzo Codelli. "Entretien avec Jan Švankmajer." Positif No. 345, 45-47.
- Codelli, Lorenzo. "Annecy 1985." Positif, No.297 (Nov. 1985), 32-37.
- Dunant, Gilles, (ed.) Jan Švankmajer, l'animateur. Annecy: JICA, 1985. (Special publica tion for the Animated Film Festival.)
- Effenberger, Vratislav. "Between Idea and Reality: Švankmajer's Castle of Otranto." Afterimage 13, Autumn 1987, 44-46.
- _____. "Jabberwocky." Afterimage 13, Autumn 1987, 46-50.
- _____. "Švankmajer on the Fall of the House of Usher." Afterimage 13, Autumn 1987, 33- 37.
- Field, Simon. "Jabberwocky." Monthly Film Bulletin 53 (July 1986), 222.
- Goulding, Daniel J. (ed.) Post New Wave Cinema in the Soviet Union and Eastern Europe. Bloomington: Indiana Univ. Press, 1989.
- Král, Petr. "Questions à Jan Švankmajer." Positif, No.297 (Nov. 1985), 38-44.
- _____. "Two Interviews." Afterimage 13, Autumn 1987, 22-32.
- Kratochvílová, Veronika. "Výtvarníci animované tvorby. Film a doba 34 (Oct. 1988), 595- 99.
- Natus-Šalamounová, Eva. "Annecy 1989." Film a doba 35 (Dec. 1989), 715-19.
- O'Pray, Michael. "A Švankmajer Inventory." Afterimage 13, Autumn 1987, 10-21.
- _____. "Byt (The Flat)." Monthly Film Bulletin 53 (July 1986), 220.
- _____. "Do pivnice (Down to the Cellar). Ibid., 220-21.
- _____. "In the Capital of Magic." Ibid., 218-19.
- _____. "Jan Švankmajer -- Militant Surrealist." Ibid., 224.
- Paranagua, Paulo Antonio. "Hommage à Jan Švankmajer surrealiste tchèque." Positif, No.224 (Nov. 1979), 58-60.
- Petit, Chris. "Picked-up Pieces." Monthly Film Bulletin 53 (June 1986), 164-65.
- Petley, Julian. "Historia Naturae, Suita." Monthly Film Bulletin 53 (July 1986), 221-22.
- _____. "Možnosti dialogu (Dimensions of a Dialogue)." Ibid., 222-23.
_____. "The Cabinet of Jan Svankmajer -- Prague's Alchemist of Film." Monthly Film Bulletin 53 (June 1986), 188-89.
- Pošová, Kateřina. "Byt: Nastavené zrcadlo Jana Švankmajera." Film a doba 12 (July 1968), 352-56.
- _____. "Jan Švankmajer--Historia naturae." Ibid., 15 (Sept. 1969), 501-503.
- _____. "Jan Švankmajer--Tichý týden v domě." Ibid., 504-505, 507.
- _____. "Splacený dluh Jana Svankmajera--Don Šajn." Ibid., 16 (April 1970), 225-26.
- "Possibilities of a Dialogue." Czechoslovak Film, No. 2 (1983), 12-13.
- Reveaux, Tony. "A Dark Looking Glass." Artweek, April 1988, 6.
- Roudevitch, Michel. "La voix publique et le manteau d'Alice." Positif No. 345, 42-44.
- Strick, Philip. "Poslední trik Pana Schwarcewalldea a Pana Edgara." Monthly Film Bulletin 53 (July 1986), 223.
- S., L. "Jan Švankmajer o svém novém filmu Zánik domu Usherů. Film a doba 28 (May 1982), 293-95.
- Šváb, Ludvík. "Vídeňská menu Jana Švankmajera." Film a doba 39, No. 2 (Summer 1993), 91-93.
- Švankmajer, Jan. "Three Scenarios." Afterimage 13, Autumn 1987, 38-43.
- _____. "Něco z Alenky." (Excerpts from the script.) Film a doba 35 (Sept. 1989), 492-99.
- Švankmajer, Jan (ed.) Otevřená hra. (Anthology of the Prague Surrealist Group Activities 1969-79). Czechoslovakia: (Samizdat, 1985?).
- Ulver, Stanislav. "C-Fd.: 1993." Film a doba 39, No. 1 (Spring 1993), 39-40.
- Vogel, Amos. "Hallo Berlin." Film Comment 24, No. 3, (May-June 1988), 62-67.
- Poslední trik pana Schwarcewalldea a pana Edgara (The Last Trick of Mr. Schwarcewalld and Mr. Edgar) ; 10:45 min; live action with animation. Awards: Diplôme spécial, Bergamo 1964; Filmdukaten, Mannheim 1964; Prix de la première oeuvre, Tours, 1964; Premio Dirección General de la Cultura, Buenos Aires, 1964.
- Johann Sebastian Bach: Fantasia g-moll; 8 min; animated with live action. Awards: Oesterreichischer Kulturfilmpreis, 1966.
- Rakvičkárna (Punch and Judy); 10 min; puppets with animation and live action. Awards: Filmdukaten Mannheim, 1966; Josef von Sternberg Preis, Mannheim, 1968.
- Et cetera; 8 min; animated. Awards: Grand Prize, Short Film Festival, Karlovy Vary (CZ), 1967; Hauptpreis, Oberhausen, 1967; Trilobit 1967 (Prize of CSFU).
- Historia naturae (suita); 9 min; animated. Awards: Main Prize, Experimental film category, Kroměříž (CZ), 1967; Max Ernst Prize, Oberhausen, 1968.
- Zahrada (The Garden); 19 min; live action. Awards: Lion of St. Marco, Venice Short Film Festival, 1968.
- Byt (The Flat/The Apartment); 13 min. Live action with animation. Awards: Grand Prize, Oberhausen, 1969. Grand Prize, Ars-Film Kroměříž (CZ), 1968. Trilobit (Prize of CSFU), 1968.
- Picknick mit Weissmann (A Picnic with Weissmann); 13 min. Animated cartoon.
- Tichý týden v domě (A Quiet Week in the House); 13 min. Live action with animation. Awards: Prize in Oberhausen, 1971. Prize for Best Experimental Film, Tampere, Finland, 1971.
- Don Šajn (Don Juan); 30 min. Live action. Awards: Grand Prize, ARS-Film, Kroměříž (CZ), 1970. Prize of the Czechoslovak Ministry of Culture.
- Kostnice (The Ossuary); 10 min. A documentary. This film exists in two versions: 1. With the commentary of the Sedlec Ossuary Guide. 2. With a musical soundtrack and the poem by Jacques Prévert, "Comment dessiner le portrait d'un oiseau."
- Jabberwocky; 14 min. Live action with animation. Awards: Grand Prize in Animated Film category, Oberhausen, 1974. Silver Phoenix, Atlanta, 1974.
- Leonardův deník (Leonardo's Diary); 10 min.
- Otrantský zámek (The Castle of Otranto); 15 min.
- Zánik domu Usherů (The Fall of the House of Ushers); 15 min. Live photography with animation. Awards: Golden Dragon, Short Film Festival, Cracow, 1982. Prize FICC. Prize of the Public, Festival of Fantasy Films, Porto, 1982.
- Možnosti dialogu (Possibilities of a Dialogue/Dimensions of a Dialogue); 12 min. Animated (3-D animation). Awards: Golden Bear, Short Film Category, Berlin FF, 1983. Jury Award, Short Film Category, Berlin FF, 1983. Grand Prix, Annecy 1983. Prix FIPRESCI, Annecy 1983. Prize for Direction, Melbourne 1983. Prize for Animated Film, Melbourne 1983. P. Stuyvesant Prize, Melbourne 1983. Main Prize, Short Film category, Sydney 1983.
- Do pivnice (Do sklepa/Down to the Cellar); 15 min. Live action with animation. Awards: Critique Award, Oberhausen, 1983.
- Kyvadlo, jáma a naděje (The Pendulum, the Pit and Hope); 15 min.
- Alice; 86 min. Live action with animation. Awards: Best Film (Animated Feature Category), Annecy.
- Mužné hry (Virile Games); 17 min. Live action with animation.
- Tma světlo tma (Darkness, Light, Darkness); 7 min.
- Smrt stalinismu v Cechách (The Death of Stalinism in Bohemia); 10 min.
- Jídlo (Food); 14 min.
- Faust; Animation with live action. Starring Petr Čepek. 92 min.
- Conspirators of Pleasure (Spiklenci slasti) UK/Germany/Switzerland/Czech Republic, colour, 85 min. Live action with animation.
- Greedy Guts (aka Little Otik; Otesánek) Czech Republic/Great Britain/Japan, colour 127 min. Live action with animation.
- Bleděmodrovous (Palebluebeard)
- Hmyz (Insects)
- Nikde nikdo (Nobody Nowhere)
- Útěk z deprese (The Flight from Depression)
Thursday, January 18, 2007
who is interested to get themself admitted at Gnomon below information will be useful for them.
Gnomon is an Old English word that means interpreter. It is also the upright on a sundial that casts the shadow or the arrow in Alias|Wavefront PowerAnimator
that points to the global center.
Gnomon was founded by a former Applications Engineer from Alias|Wavefront
who saw a need for a school that taught the tools and techniques necessary
to produce high-end digital content.Gnomon opened it's door in 1997 with one computer lab, three instructors and four digital courses. Today, we offer
not only computer instruction, but also courses in the traditional art and
production techniques required to succeed in today’s digital studios.
A primary determining factor in the quality of education at any institution
is the faculty. Because of Gnomon's location in the heart of the entertainment
community and our commitment to providing instruction by production
professionals, Gnomon‘s faculty is made up of an extraordinary group of educators. All of Gnomon's instructors are industry professionals who earn their
living using the tools and techniques that they then pass on to our students. They teach at Gnomon because they believe in the importance of quality education. They are committed to the industries in which they serve and the students who look to them for instruction. For a list of our instructors please visit the Instructor page on our website.
Gnomon’s curriculum is designed specifically to provide students with the
skills they need to succeed as digital artists in the entertainment
industries. Gnomon is dedicated to teaching, not just software, but the
underlying techniques and concepts behind the programs. Gnomon instructors are
experienced industry professionals who teach the skills they use on a daily
basis and develop their courseware accordingly.
Class assignments are project-based and revolve around the student's
personal direction and creation. Thus, upon completion of a course of study,
each student has completed work that is unique to his or her vision.
Homework is assigned with an emphasis on personal projects, realism,
complexity and research. This mode of instruction assures that, in addition
to the learning the software, students also gain valuable experience in
Gnomon have standardized our curriculum on the Alias suite of programs,
primarily Maya. We also offer limited training on RenderMan, Shake,
BodyPaint and ZBrush.
Gnomon School of Visual Effects is located in the center of the Hollywood
production district, the former Technicolor Studios complex.
Our 7500-square-foot facility features four-computer labs furnished with a
total of 50 state-of-the-art, production-level workstations. An analog studio is home to courses such as Figure Drawing and Production Design. The remainder of Gnomon space is made up of a 70-seat screening room, a professional-level sound/edit bay, student lounge, kitchen, game hall and administrative offices.
Overall Gnomon's facilities have been designed to create a production-like
environment with an atmosphere conducive to creativity and learning.
Tour are offered on Tuesday’s and Thursday’s. To set an appointment,
please contact Gnomon's office at 323-466-6663. In the event that you come
without a set appointment, we cannot guarantee that a staff member will be
available to answer your questions.
Gnomon’s Program Options
Gnomon offers Digital classes and courses in complementary traditional
skills (Analog Courses). Gnomon's curriculum addresses the needs of both
beginning and advanced level digital artists. The three main training
options are as follows:
Extension Program: A majority of Gnomon students take classes on an extension
basis. Classes are open to the public and do not require a portfolio for
entrance. Extension students usually take an individualized selection of
courses -- one or two classes a term -- until they gain the skills they need
to succeed in their chosen career. These students are often production
professionals who are at Gnomon to increase their knowledge. Others come
from varied backgrounds with the goal of getting into the digital production
industries. Admission is based on space availability and class size is
limited to 12 students per class. The majority of Gnomon classes are 10 weeks
in length, with each digital class, consisting of 3 hours of class per week
and 9 hours of guaranteed lab time per week.
Class assignments are project-based and revolve around the student's
personal direction and creation. Thus, upon completion of a course of study,
each student has completed work that is unique to his or her vision.
Homework is assigned with an emphasis on personal projects, realism,
complexity and research. This mode of instruction assures that, in addition
to the learning the software, students also gain valuable experience in
Maya Fast Track: This program is specifically designed for professionals who
want to learn as much Maya as possible in the shortest amount of time so
that they can use Maya as a production tool. This program consists of nine
consecutive weeks of one-week classes that address a specific area of Maya.
Classes are held during the day, Monday through Friday from 9am to 4pm, thus
giving students 30 hours of class each week.
Please be aware that the Fast Track Program does not include any lab time.
Students are in class 30 hours a week getting as much information as
possible in that time period. The focus of the program is for the students
to learn, but not for them to work on portfolio pieces and or a demo reel.
For more information please visit our website or contact Gnomon Director of
Industry Relations, Pam Hogarth.
Gnomon Certificate Program:
In response to industry needs, in the Summer of 1998, Gnomon instituted Gnomon
Certificate Program, which is designed to give motivated individuals the
skills they need to obtain and succeed in entry-level positions in the 3D
entertainment industries. Designed with input from members of the Alliance
of Digital Effects Production Trainers (ADEPT) and Gnomon Advisory Board, this
program offers a well-rounded education made up of both digital and
traditional art classes.
Certificate students take in excess of 35 courses. This intensive curriculum
provides a balanced education in both digital and traditional skills. Within
this structure, all courses are geared toward applying the tools learned in
the 3D arena. Admission to the Certificate Program requires a completed
application form and portfolio. Applicants must have at least a high school
diploma or the GED equivalency.
For more detailed information on the Certificate Program, please read the
sections in the FAQ sheet pertaining to Participation and Admission to the
Program or contact Gnomon office via email or phone.
Tuition ranges based on the type of program and class. In the extension
program, digital classes range from $1250 to $1700. The majority of our 10
week digital classes are $1625, 5-week Digital courses are $800. The
traditional classes cost between $475 and $500 for 10-week classes, and $225
for five-week classes.
Tuition for the Certificate Program is as follow:
Full-Time: Tuition is $6,175.00 per term. Tuition reflects a discount over
the regular individual course costs.
Total cost: $43,225.00 U.S.D. + $100.00 registration fee
Part-time total cost: $46,750.00 U.S.D.
There is an additional $100.00 Visa processing fee for international
For the Maya Fast Track Program, tuition is $9,000.00 + $100.00 registration fee.
Gnomon accepts personal or company checks, Visa, MasterCard, money orders,
Payment Plans and Sallie Mae Career Training loans.
Financial aid or loans
Gnomon offers two forms of loans.
Sallie Mae Career Training loans. For general information on the Career
Training loan, you may visit their website at www.salliemaefinancial.com
Should you wish to explore this option, prior to filing out any paperwork,
please contact our office at 323-466-6663.
Gnomon Payment Plans: Tuition is broken into three installments over the
length of the term. There is a 3% finance fee applied to payment plans.
Schedule for one-week classes
Please visit website or contact Gnomon office for the schedule.
Gnomon offer Custom Training
Gnomon has extensive experience providing custom training for production
studios, animation houses, corporations and individuals. Gnomon can tailor it's
digital classes to fit your needs or create a class specifically for your
artists. Training can occur in Gnomon classroom or on-site at your facility.
Our instructors and staff have experience in production, so Gnomon understand
the pressures and needs of the entertainment industries. Gnomon can also make
arrangements for many of Gnomon traditional, analog classes to be given on a
custom basis. For further information on Custom Training please contact Gnomon
Director of Industry Relations, Pam Hogarth.
Possible to see student/work
website features a Student Gallery where you can see work by past
and current students. http://www.gnomon3d.com/studentgallery_main.html
The age range of students
Gnomon students come from a wide range of ages and backgrounds. Though
the median age of Gnomom students is 25 to 30, we have many “career changers”
who are in their mid-forties to fifties - and a couple of high school
students who take one class per term.
85% of Gnomon students live and work in the Los Angeles area. 40% of our
students who work in the digital production industries and take classes to
upgrade their skills. We do have students who come from around the world to
LA for anywhere from one to seven terms and attend classes on a full-time
Gnomon is authorized under Federal Law to enroll non-immigrant students.
Only students accepted into the Certificate in High-End Computer Graphics
and the Maya Fast Track Program are eligible to apply for an M-1 visa.
If you are interested in either of the programs above, please review Gnomon
website at www.gnomon3d.com. For further information, please contact us
either via email (email@example.com) or phone at 323-466-6663.
If you are interested in the Extension Program, unfortunately Gnomon is NOT
able to issue visa's for that program. You may want to check with your
embassy to see the length of a visitor’s visa, it may be long enough for you
to complete one or two terms at Gnomon.
Gnomon do not require a college degree for admission to any of Gnomon courses.
source: Michael Santiago