Vicky Smith, Stacklip2 (2015)
Here are three animations that you will encounter during this course unit:
Dimensions of a dialogue, Jan Svankmeyer (1982) https://vimeo.com/17034946
Der Lauf Der Dinge, Fischli & Weiss (1987)
Swimmer, Jane Cheadle 2004,
Peter Fischli David Weiss
- Research one of these practitioners online and write a brief professional biography of them. Try to avoid using a list of dated achievements, instead try to think about the kind of work that they make in general and where it might fit within the broad range of contemporary animated practice.
- Pick one of the animations and briefly describe it.
Consider its appearance by looking at it and trying to describe what you see. What are the different elements within the work and how do these elements work together? What do you think the work is trying to communicate? Imagine you’re describing the work to somebody over the telephone. Try to do this in no more than 50 words.
Technically, what you’re doing here is analysing the formal visual language of an image. This is known as visual research or, sometimes visual analysis. Writing can be a useful tool in visual analysis, but you can also annotate images with notes.
- Using the same film, briefly write about how you relate to this work.
Do you like it or hate it, find it intriguing, influential or outdated, and if so, why? Does the work connect to wider ideas or other creative practitioners? In other words, what’s your opinion on this work. Again, try to do this in no more than 50 words.
What you’re doing here is being reflective by considering your own relationship to the work, as well as contextualising artist’s work by thinking about how it might connect to wider ideas or practices in some way. Don’t worry about ‘getting it wrong’ or ‘missing the point’. Perhaps your reflection raises more questions than answers. Remember that in the arts there are no definitively right or wrong answers, just different opinions – some more authoritative than others.
Czech animators are considered pioneers in film animation. Czech animation began in 1920s. Most early animation was commercial and some children’s animation. , but there were some experimental films such as Myšlenka hledající světlo (Thought looking for light).
The “Golden Era” dates between 1950s and 1980s. The roots of Czech puppet animation began in the mid-1940s when puppet theater operators, Eduard Hofman and Jiří Trnka founded the Poetic animation school, Bratři v triku. Czech animators include Jiří Trnka, Karel Zeman, Břetislav Pojar, or Jiří Barta. Czech animators have employed Cutout animation, Puppet animation and Clay animation. Animated films were funded by the State during Communism but were censored and many projects couldn’t be realised as a result.
3D animation is seldom used due to lack of finances and trained 3D animators. This led to downturn in the years after 1989.
Film industry was privatised after 1989 which resulted in lack of finances for animated films and limitation of films produced by Czech animators. On the other hand, there are still successful films made. Jan Švankmajer made films such as Faust. Other successful animators include Aurel Klimt, Pavel Koutský or Michaela Pavlátová.
- 1945: Dědek zasadil řepu (“My grandfather planted a beet”)
- 1946: Zvířátka to petrovstí (“Animals and bandits”)
- 1946: Pérak SS (“The jumper and the men of the SS”)
- 1946: Dárek (“The Gift”)
- 1947: Špalíček (“The Czech Year”)
- 1949: Román s basou (“Story of a bass”)
- 1949: Čertuv mlýn (“The Devil’s Mill”)
- 1949: Arie prerie (“Song of the Prairie”)
- 1949: Císařův Slavík (“The Emperor’s Nightingale”)
Jiří Trnka was a part of Puppet Films Studio. He made 3 full-length and some short animated films in the end of 1940s and was one of the most productive animators in the world. His films in the 1950s such as Prince Bayaya, Old Czech Legends or A Midsummer Night’s Dream earned him nickname “the Walt Disney of Eastern Europe”. His final film The Hand was declared the 5th best animated picture in history.
Zeman’s films mixed animation with live-action actors. His films drew inspiration from novels Jules Verne. His The Fabulous World of Jules Verne is considered the most successful Czech film ever made
Second animation studio was based in Zlín. Karel Zeman and Hermína Týrlová are considered the main figures of Zlín animators. Týrlová earned fame for her children’s films. Her most famous film is The Revolt of Toys. .
Estonian animation tradition dates back to the 1930s when the first experimental films were made. The only surviving short film from the era is Kutsu-Juku seiklusi (Adventures of Juku the dog) (1931). After the Great Depression, World War II, and Soviet Occupation interrupted its development, Estonian animation was reborn in 1958. Elbert Tuganov founded a puppet film division Nukufilm in Tallinnfilm Studio. The first film was titled Peetrikese unenägu based on a Danish writer Jens Sigsgaard’s children story Palle alene i verden. Joonisfilm a traditional cell animation division of Tallinnfilm was founded by Rein Raamat in 1971. Films like Põld (1978), nominee for Golden Palm at the Cannes Film Festival in 1979; Lend (1973), the winner of Special Jury Award at the Zagreb World Festival of Animated Films; the Suur Tõll (1980), 2nd place at Ottawa International Animation Festival in 1982 and Põrgu (Hell) (1983), the winner of FIPRESCI Prize and Special Jury Award at the Annecy International Animated Film Festival made Raamat the first internationally recognized Estonian animation director.
Since Estonia regained independence in 1991 Nukufilm and Joonisfilm continued to operate as private companies owned by the filmmakers. During the era internationally most successful Estonian animation director has been Priit Pärn the winner of Grand Prize at the Ottawa International Animation Festival in 1998 for Porgandite öö (Night of the Carrots). Crocodile by Kaspar Jancis was selected to be the Best European Anima film at Cartoon d’or 2010. The other film of Jancis “Villa Antropoff” was awarded with the Special Mention on Scancroma Festival[
The country’s animation industry got under way in the 1950s, under the aegis of the state film studio. The first directors were amateurs: trained biologists or wannabe architects who learned to animate by improvising in the studio. Steady funding from above gave them the leeway to experiment. On the other hand, scripts had to be approved by Moscow mandarins, who tended to ban films they didn’t like and take credit for those they did. Censorship fostered a flair for coded satire among many Estonian filmmakers. The country’s location on the fringes of the USSR let them get away with more than artists closer to Moscow, while also putting them in touch with western culture through such media as Finnish television.
Pars Nails animation political satire scenes of seduction and violent confrontation are acted out by two pliable nails. The risqué subject matter troubled Moscow, but it was the virtuosic manipulation of the props that caught my eye. You wouldn’t guess that the nails are made of rubber. https://www.awn.com/animationworld/keep-it-motion-classic-animation-revisited-nail
Commercially and creatively, however, it has been eclipsed by cel animation. This is mostly due to the output of one man: Priit Pärn. Starting out as a caricaturist, Pärn flourished as an animator in the dying days of the USSR, by which time his art was stretching the censorship laws to breaking point. The characters in Triangle (1982) and Breakfast on the Grass (1988) are ugly and poor, and dream of being elsewhere. The films enliven their dreary routines with garish colours and a fiendish comic timing. Social realism this ain’t.
After the USSR crumbled, Pärn turned his sharp sights on everything from capitalism to movies themselves. His masterpiece 1895 (1995) marked the centenary of cinema by skewering it, arguing that it has warped and falsified our historical memory. A grim, absurd humour permeates all his films, saving them from mere political didacticism. The retrospective of his works in Hiroshima was enhanced by the presence of the man himself, who came in a Je Suis Pärn T-shirt and spent the week casually flouting the decorum of our Japanese hosts.
Pärn’s films are hugely charismatic, his crude visuals easy enough to imitate, and almost every major Estonian animator in his wake bears his influence. This was very apparent at the festival, where I watched his shorts and those of his acolytes Ülo Pikkov and Priit Tender in quick succession. In their positions as teachers at Estonia’s sole animation school, Pärn and his wife Olga continue to train the country’s youngest artists – including foreigners who have moved there to learn from them. The Pärn style has gone global, impressing itself on everything from Rugrats to a whole generation of Japanese filmmakers (just watch Nihei Sarina’s Small People with Hats, 2015).
A flip book or flick book is a book with a series of pictures that very gradually change from one page to the next, so that when the pages are turned rapidly, the pictures appear to animate by simulating motion or some other change. Flip books are often illustrated books for children, but may also be geared towards adults and employ a series of photographs rather than drawings. Flip books are not always separate books but may appear as an added feature in ordinary books or magazines, often in the page corners.
Flipbooks work on the same principles as frame-by-frame animation. They can be made in very many different styles. Software packages and websites are available that convert digital video files into custom-made flip books.
In addition to their role in the birth of cinema, flipbooks have also been commonly used in marketing of items like cars and cigarettes. They are also in art and published photographic collections. Vintage flip books are popular among collectors, and especially rare ones from the late 19th to the early 20th century have been known to fetch thousands of dollars in sales and auctions.
‘Andymation’ is the YouTube channel for Andy Bailey – a stop-motion animator and worked on Laika’s movies ParaNorman, The Boxtrolls, Kubo and the Two Strings, and Missing Link.
He has produced a series of very useful tutorials for creating paper flipbooks using a lightbox. The same principles can be adapted for tablet Flipbook Aps.
TASK: Do some research to identify festivals that you would be interested in showing at
and attending. Look at their entry requirements and the kinds of films they show
as well as their submission dates. Make a list of any appropriate festivals.
Tip: Press Kit
When applying to festivals, many will require a ‘press kit’. This includes several stills from the animation, stills from the production of the animation, a short synopsis, a list of all those credited in the creation of the animation, an image of the director and short biographies of all those involved in the making of the animation.
A synopsis should sound like the paragraph on the back of the DVD or video jacket. The point of the synopsis is to make the reader want to see the movie.
The Directory of International Film and Video Festivals is a searchable
database of 600 festivals around the world. You can search by genre, deadline, month and country to find full details.
FLAMIN has a list of upcoming listings and opportunities to apply for. Other festivals you may be interested in are:
● London Animation Festival
● Annecy International Animation Festival
● Anne Arbour
● Punto Y Raya
Find examples of animation that challenge the role of the audience. Reflect on how the audience have been included in the performance or presentation of the animation, and how this challenges ideas of audience, participation, cinema or animation.
Tip: Writing a gallery proposal
When working with galleries, whether you are making work to be shown inside or out, as a standalone piece or a performance you need to develop a gallery proposal. This short document sets out the nature of the work being proposed and practical aspects of installing it. Any proposal should contain a description of the work itself, its content or concept, scale and duration, any technical information or installation requirements, and proposed audience.
As a starting point, consider the following performances:
● Man Ray, White Ball (1930):
All party guests were dressed in white, Man Ray and Lee Miller projected
tinted films by Georges Méliès on them while they danced.
● Giovanni Martedi, Matérialisme Dialectique l’art (series)(1978):
Its action consisted of projecting the beam of a projector loaded with any
film- “found in a trash can” or “ready made”– onto a rotating circular
mirror attached to a drill. The mirror thus reflected the images all over the
space by flashes and fragments. This performance took its inspiration
from Valie Export’s Abstract Film Number One (1967-68).
● Maurice Lemaître, Montage (1978-1990):
A performance made with aleatory found footage projected onto a screen
made with newspapers, while the audience reads imaginary scripts
distributed by Lemaître himself.
● Roland Sabatier, Look Somewhere Else (1971):
“The audience is invited not to look at the work or at its execution.”
Do some research to identify three different examples of showing work using the internet or mobile platforms or setting up animations as an installation outside of gallery or cinema spaces. Reflect on how these approaches engages an audience that might be different to conventional approaches to art or cinema.
Review photographic and other documentation of animations that have been
included in gallery installations. Make notes on how the artist has chosen to
install their work, thinking about the format, frame, atmosphere, and audience.
Think about the practical issues of these installations in terms of the equipment
and other objects that were needed, and the duration of the screenings.
Compare the differences in presentation and reflect on how you might apply
these approaches to your own animations.
You can find your own artists or look at the artists suggested, below:
● Benedict Drew (Whitechapel Gallery Exhibit)
● Sondra Perry (Serpentine Gallery Exhibit)
● Jeff Keen (Tate Modern Gallery Exhibit)
● Ryan Trecartin (Moma PS1 Exhibit)
● Harun Farocki (Whitechapel Gallery Exhibit)