3_Animation and Non-Fiction In Process Inspiration

Lisa Pau

MFA Experimental Animation

California Institute of the Arts

available for work inquiries –

3_Animation and Non-Fiction In Process Inspiration

Jerzy Kucia

Scriptwriter, artistic director, animated film director, artist, producer and university teacher. He was born on 14 January in Sołtysy near Wieluń. He earned his degree from the Painting and Graphic Arts Department of Krakow Academy of Fine Arts (1967). He was a student of the same Animated Film Studio that he began to run in 1981. Jerzy Kucia has taught at a number of film schools including those in Vancouver, London and Mumbai. He is also a graphic artist. Since 1970 he has been associated with the Animated Film Studio and in 1992 he started to produce his own films. Professor Kucia co-organizes and runs the International Animated Film Workshops in Krakow. In 1994 – 1997 he was the Vice-president of Association Internationale du Film d’Animation (ASIFA). Jerzy Kucia has won many awards, which include the First Prize of the Wiosna Opolska Festival (1970), the Award of the City of Krakow (1982), the First Degree Award of the Minister of Culture and Arts in Animation (1985), Krakow’s Governor Award for artistic achievement in animation and educational activity (1993), MTV Bronze Award (1994), the Prize of the Holland Animation Film Festival in Utrecht (1996), the Award of the City of Krakow for achievement in culture promotion (1996), the Special Golden Dinosaur for the ability to combine artistic and pedagogical activity awarded at the Etiuda International Film Festival in Krakow (2003) and numerous festival prizes.

3_Animation and Non-Fiction In Process Inspiration

David Lynch

Six Figures Getting Sick (Six Times)[edit]

Main article: Six Men Getting Sick (Six Times)

Six Men Getting Sick (Six Times) (1966). Originally untitled, “Six Men Getting Sick” is a one-minute color animated film that consists of six loops shown on a sculptured screen of three human-shaped figures (based on casts of Lynch’s own head as done by Jack Fisk) that intentionally distorted the film[1]. Lynch’s animation depicted six people getting sick: their stomachs grew and their heads would catch fire.

Lynch made this film during his second year at the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Art. The school held an experimental painting and sculpture exhibit every year and Lynch entered his work in the Spring of 1966. The animated film was shown on “an Erector-set rig on top of the projector so that it would take the finished film through the projector, way up to the ceiling and then back down, so the film would keep going continuously in a loop. And then I hung the sculptured screen and moved the projector back till just what I wanted was on the screen and the rest fell back far enough to disappear” (Chris Rodley, editor of Lynch on Lynch). Lynch showed the whole thing with the sound of a siren as accompaniment. The film cost $200 and was not intended to have any successors. It was merely an experiment on Lynch’s part because he wanted to see his paintings move.

The Alphabet

The Alphabet (1968) combines animation and live action and goes for four minutes. It has a simple narrative structure relating a symbolically rendered expression of a fear of learning. The idea for The Alphabet came from Lynch’s wife, Peggy Lentz, a painter whose niece, according to Lynch in Chris Rodley’s Lynch on Lynch book, “was having a bad dream one night and was saying the alphabet in her sleep in a tormented way. So that’s sort of what started The Alphabet going.” Based on the merits of this short film, Lynch was awarded an American Film Institute production grant and became a minor celebrity.

Ghost of Love
Moby ‘Shot in the Back of the Head’
I touch a Red Button Man
Six Figures Getting Sick 1966
The Grandmother (1970, 33 minutes).

The short film combines live action and animation. The story revolves around a boy who grows a grandmother to escape neglect and abuse from his parents. It is mostly silent with only occasional vocal outbursts of gibberish and soundtrack cues used to convey story.

The music in the film was provided by a local group known as Tractor, and marked the first time Lynch would work with Alan Splet, who was recommended to the filmmaker by the soundman of The Alphabet. Initially, Lynch and Splet intended to use a collection of sound effects records for the film, but after going through them all they found that none of them were useful. So, Lynch and Splet took sixty-three days to make and record their own sound effects.

The Cowboy and the Frenchman (1988, 26 minutes)

Slapstick, made for French television as part of the series The French as Seen by… by French magazine Figaro. It stars Harry Dean Stanton, Frederic Golchan and Jack Nance.

Lumière: Premonitions Following an Evil Deed (1996, 52 seconds)

Originally included as a segment in the 1995 film Lumière et compagnie. Forty acclaimed directors created works using the original Cinematographe invented by the Lumière brothers.

3_Animation and Non-Fiction In Process Inspiration

Jonathon Hodgson

Jonathan Hodgson is an internationally renowned animation director based in London, he has twice won BAFTAs for Best Short British Animation in 2000 and 2019. He studied animation at Liverpool Polytechnic and the Royal College of Art. After spending 25 years directing commercials he moved to academia, setting up and leading the Animation degree at Middlesex University where he combines teaching with making personal films. He is the animation director of Wonderland: The Trouble with Love and Sex, the first full length animated documentary on British TV. 

3_Animation and Non-Fiction In Process Inspiration

Gianluigi Toccafondo

3_Animation and Non-Fiction In Process Inspiration

William Kentridge

William Kentridge (born 28 April 1955) is a South African artist best known for his prints, drawings, and animated films. These are constructed by filming a drawing, making erasures and changes, and filming it again. He continues this process meticulously, giving each change to the drawing a quarter of a second to two seconds’ screen time. A single drawing will be altered and filmed this way until the end of a scene. These palimpsest-like drawings are later displayed along with the films as finished pieces of art.

See more information on Tate Gallery website

Working process

Examples of charcoal animation

Evocative charcoal drawings of Johannesburg. Has detailed historical overview, but the images could speak for themselves.
2_Invention, Plasticity and Visual Music In Process Inspiration

Len Lye

Leonard Charles Huia Lye (1901 – 1980) was a New Zealand artist known primarily for his experimental films and kinetic sculpture.
see you tube comments on kaleidoscope.

Animation mixing abstraction with manipulated video.
Like an electric storm. Scratching on film.
Uses video of a figure cutout on a background. This 9ne does littlevfor me.
Beautiful abstract animation.4400 drawings. With music added later by another musician see You Tube commehts.
With original music
Very energetic Maori-influenced abstract video. See extensive comments on You Tube.

1_The Basics of Animated Movement 2_Invention, Plasticity and Visual Music In Process Inspiration

Peter Millard

Peter Millard is a London-based animator. He creates his absurdist animations on paper (all recycled) with oil bar and paint. Then he scans the large images in with a large scanner, sizes them up in After Effects before using Premiere Pro to edit. 

2_Invention, Plasticity and Visual Music Animation Techniques In Process Inspiration

Norman McLaren

An artist may be like someone who just hears music and then starts to dance

Norman McLaren (1914 – 1987) was a Scottish Canadian animator, director and producer known for his work for the National Film Board of Canada (NFB). He was a pioneer in a number of areas of animation and filmmaking, including hand-drawn animation, drawn-on-film animation, visual music, abstract film, pixilation and graphical sound.

Experiments in Motion

Tempo: The basics of perception of linear movement: Shows the animator’s table with camera, switch and frame counter. Calibration marks and muscle memory. And shows the difference in perceptions of movement through increasing the number of equal spaced moves of a cut-out circle going from A to B. The greater the number of moves, the slower the movement. We interprete this differently depending on our understanding of context eg whether we think the circle is a large sun moving fast or a small golf ball moving slowly. Ends with interesting abacus type comparison of movements at 1-1000 moves between A and B.

Synaesthesia and experiments in sound

Experimental animation

In this animation McLaren created the sounds through drawing on film. The tall vertical geometric shapes make it seem like a film about speed and impersonality of city life. Reminiscent of Mondrian paintings.

Short films

Cold war allegory. Story of two neighbours who kill each other in a fight about a flower that starts to grow along the fence between them.
A Chairy Story: Amusing story of a man trying to sit on a chair. The chair refuses to be sat on until the chair has sat on the man. metaphor for the importance of equality and politeness and not taking power for granted.
2_Invention, Plasticity and Visual Music In Process Inspiration

Stan Brakhage

Stan Brakhage, (1933-2003) was an American non-narrative filmmaker. He is considered to be one of the most important figures in 20th-century experimental film.

Brakhage’s films seek to reveal the universal, in particular exploring themes of birth, mortality, sexuality, and innocence. Influenced by German and Abstract Expressionism and his own visual impairment, he explores the nature of the ‘untutored eye’ where perception is freed from preconceptions of language. His work explores abstraction of communication between vision and neural responses ‘if I close my eyes I continue to see explosions of light’ that evoke memories and symbols of emotion.

Brakhage’s work is experimental, producing many accidents of chance, most of which are rejected. Then creatively responding to selected discoveries of chance that ‘seem to respond to his soul’ to create a world where ‘nothing is let in that does not have life’. He explored a wide variety of formats, approaches and techniques that included handheld camerawork, painting directly onto celluloid film, fast cutting, in-camera editing, scratching on film, collage film and the use of multiple exposures. Inspired by art like the ‘unpainted paintings’ by snow on watercolour of Emile Nolde, he often worked directly on film in such a way that the outcome was not planned for example in Garden Path (2001).

His films are for the most part silent except for the rhythmic whirring of the film projector.

Imagine a world alive with incomprehensible objects, and shimmering with an endless variety of movement and innumerable gradations of colour. Imagine a world before the ‘beginning was the word.’

How many colours are there in a field of grass to the crawling baby unaware of ‘green’? How many rainbows can light create for the untutored eye? How aware of variations in heatwaves can that eye be?

Imagine an eye unruled by man-made laws of perspective, an eye unprejudiced by compositional logic, an eye which does not respond to the name of everything but which must know each object encountered in life through an adventure of perception.

“Now let me say to you – simply as I can: the search for art is the most terrifying adventure imaginable: it is a search always into unexplored regions … all real adventures are purposeless… beyond any purposeful definition…”

Stan Brakhage, The Brakhage Lectures (1972) Chicago: Good Lion


Interim (1952)The Boy and the Sea (1953)Unglassed Windows Cast a Terrible Reflection (1953)Desistfilm (1954)The Extroadinary Child (1954)The Way to Shadow Garden (1954)In Between (1955)Reflections on Black (1955)Untitled film of Geoffrey Holder’s Wedding (1955)The Wonder Ring (1955)Gnir Rednow (1955-56)Centuries of June (1955-56)Flesh of Morning (1956)Nightcats (1956)Zone Moment (1956)Daybreak and White Eye (1957)Loving (1957)Anticipation of the Night (1958) Cat’s Cradle (1959)Sirius Remembered (1959)Wedlock House: An Intercourse (1959)Window Water Baby Moving (1959)

Interim (1952)
The Wonder Ring (1955)
Wedlock House: An Intercourse (1959)
Cat’s Cradle 1959

An enigmatic video in red an black of a bedroom scene. Sequential video clips of:

  • a cat
  • a woman
  • a man (sometimes helping, sometimes sitting smoking.
  • illustration of what seems to be a flea
  • bottle of perfume and other ‘boudoir’ objects, curtains etc

Ends in a sex scene. What does it all mean?

Window Water Baby Moving (1959)

Short film of the birth of Brakhage’s first child. This film is both graphic and beautiful while effecting each viewer a little differently. The colours in the film are especially striking. (Warning this film is not for the queazy).


Mr. Tompkins Inside Himself (1960)The Dead (1960)Thigh Line Lyre Triangular (1961)Films by Stan Brakhage: An Avant-Garde Home Movie (1961)Blue Moses (1962)Silent Sound Sense Stars Subotnick and Sender (1962)Sartre’s Nausea (1962-63)Mothlight (1963)Oh Life, A Woe Story, The A-Test News (1963) Dog Star Man and The Art of Vision (1961-5)Black Vision (1965)Fire of Waters (1965)Pasht (1965)Three Films: Blue White, Blood’s Tone, Vein (1965)Two: Creeley/McClure (1965)The Female Mystique and Spare Leaves (For Gordon) (1965)23rd Psalm Beach (1966-67)Eye Myth (1967)The Horseman, the Woman and the Moth (1968)Love Making (1968) Scenes from Under Childhood 1 1967 and 2 1970.

Dog Star Man (1961-1964)

Dog Star Man consists of four short silent films and a prelude, all directed by Stan Brakhage and featuring Jane Wodening. Brakhage began filming Dog Star Man after editing and completing Cat’s Cradle and as he also worked on The Dead. He started without a clear idea of what the project would be about at a time when he was questioning his distant relationship with his wife Jane at the time and experiencing visions, and contemplations of death and decay. The series was released during 1961 to 1964 and comprises a prelude and four parts. They were later re-edited into a much longer film, The Art of Vision 1965.

Dog Star Man is considered a key moment in development of experimental film. Shot in 16mm, the film uses abstract imagery shot with variable exposure times and physical manipulation techniques such as painting directly on the film, scratching and punching holes into the film to produce specific visual effects.

Described as a “cosmological epic” and “creation myth” Dog Star Man illustrates the odyssey of a bearded woodsman (Brakhage) climbing through a snow-covered mountain with his dog to chop down a tree. While doing so, he witnesses various mystical visions with various recurring imagery such as a woman, child, nature, and the cosmos while making his ascent. Dog Star Man There is a general structure to the narrative of the film cycle that comprises the prelude and four parts:

  • Prelude (1961, 26 minutes): Described by Brakhage as a “created dream”. It broadly presents a visualisation of the creation of the universe and contains many of the images, symbols and concepts that recur throughout the rest of the film series. Many instances of superimposed abstract images and what Brakhage calls “close-eyed vision”.
  • Part I (1962, 30 minutes) a more impressionistic film presenting the main narrative of the series: the woodsman struggling with his journey up the mountain along with his dog. One of the most important images is the mountain that Brakhage attempts to climb. Major parts of the film are in slow-motion; others, in time-lapse photography, speeding up motion.
  • Part II (1963, 5-7 minutes) Its central focus is on the birth of a child which was filmed on black and white film stock as a part of Brakhage’s home videos that he shot during the time; stylistically, the filming of childbirth in an almost documentary-like way. Two layers of imagery are imposed over one another, suggesting that the woodsman’s life is passing right before his eyes.
  • Part III (1964) Part IV (1964)
Mothlight (1963)

“Brakhage made Mothlight without a camera. He just pasted moth wings and flowers on a clear strip of film and ran it through the printing machine.”

Jonas Mekas, Movie Journal: The Rise of the New American Cinema, 1959-1971 (2016) Columbia University Press.

In ‘Mothlight’ Brakhage invented his own technique of ‘collage animation’. The objects chosen were required to be thin and translucent, to permit the passage of light. He collected moth wings, flower petals and blades of grass and pressed them between two strips of 16mm splicing tape. The resulting assemblage was then contact printed at a lab to allow projection in a cinema.

Scenes from Under Childhood is an attempt to imagine fetal seeing and hearing. “What we call ‘closed-eye vision’ is for me the template in the mind upon which all further formative envisionment is to occur” “The color red that dominates those early moments of the film has always struck me as the same color I see when I look at the sun with my eyes closed”. The film needed three thousand light changes in 40 minutes of filming and was pushing the edge of technological possibilities at a time when light was changing constantly across one, two, three, four rolls.

Scenes from Under Childhood 1 1967
Scenes from Under Childhood II 1970


The Weir-Falcon Saga (1970)The Machine of Eden (1970)Animals of Eden and After (1970)Wecht (1971)Angels (1971)Fox Fire Child Watch (1971)The Peaceable Kingdom (1971)Western History (1971)The Trip to Door (1971)The Presence (1972)Eye Myth Educational (1972)The Process (1972)The Riddle of Lumen (1972)The Shores of Phos: A Fable (1972)The Wold Shadow (1972)Gift (1973)The Women (1973)Aquarien (1974)Clancy (1974)Dominion (1974)Flight (1974)“He was born, he suffered, he died.” (1974)Hymn to Her (1974)Skein (1974)Sol (1974)Star Garden (1974)The Text of Light (1974)The Stars are Beautiful (1974)Short Films: 1975 (1975)Gadflies (1976)Sketches (1976)Window (1976)Trio (1976)Rembrandt, Etc., and Jane (1976)Desert (1976)Highs (1976)Airs (1976)Absence (1976)Short Films: 1976 (1976)The Dream, NYC, The Return, The Flower (1976)Tragoedia (1976)The Domain of the Moment (1977)The Governor (1977)Soldiers and Other Cosmic Objects (1977)Bird (1978)Burial Path (1978)Centre (1978)Nightmare Series (1978)Purity and After (1978)Sluice (1978)Thot-Fal’N (1978)@ (1979)Creation (1979)

The Machine of Eden (1970)
The Process (1972)
The Text of Light (1974)
Burial Path (1978) about forgetfulness and death-at-work. The third part of a trilogy, with ‘Sirius Remembered’ and ‘The Dead’.


Murder Psalm (1980) is composed of found footage. principalmente da immagini di found footage, in particolare, da un film educativo circa un bambino epilettico. Come Brakhage, si muove attraverso una varietà di impostazioni, la violenza e l’orrore sembrano esplodere da ogni lato. Il potere di trasformazione della luce in questo caso è abbandonato, esiliato dalle terribili illusioni e mezze verità della cultura di massa. Il suo opposto trasforma Toronto in una dimora di illuminazione stessa. Brakhage ‘canta’ la città con campi di luce il cui solo significato risiede nella propria esistenza, e che non potrebbe esistere altrove. Uno splendidamente orchestrato insieme folle di film scientifici e didattici, tv e cartoni animati elaborati e rigenerati in negativo costituiscono un mito che è la versione dostoevskiano, oscura e feroce del film di collage. Brakhage continua ad esplorare gli strati frastagliati delle identità, la strutturazione della memoria e del mito, gli assedi combattuti da un asfissiante individualità contro la coscienza culturale dominante.


The Garden of Earthly Delights 1981

Dante Quartet 1987

Then comes a moment when suddenly I can’t handle the language anymore, like I can’t read one more translation of The Divine Comedy, and suddenly I realize it’s in my eyes all the time, that I have a vision of Hell, I have even more necessary kind of a way of getting out of Hell, kind of a springboard in my thinking, closing my eyes and thinking what I’m seeing […] and also purgation, that I can go through the stages of purging the self, of trying to become pure, free of these ghastly visions, and then there is something that’s as close to Heaven as I would hope to aspire to, which I call “existence is song.” And that all of that was in my eyes all the time, backfiring all these years […] It’s lovely that I can have the language, but I also have a visual corollary of it, but that is a story.

Quoted Wikipedia article

The Dante Quartet is divided into four parts, titled Hell ItselfHell Spit FlexionPurgation and existence is song, respectively. Brakhage described the sections as follows:

I made Hell Itself during the breakup with Jane [Brakhage] and the collapse of my whole life, so I got to know quite well the streaming of the hypnagogic that’s hellish. Now the body can not only feed back its sense of being in hell but also its getting out of hell, and Hell Spit Flexion shows the way out – it’s there as crowbar to lift one out of hell toward the transformatory state – purgatory. And finally there’s a fourth state that’s fleeting. I’ve called the last part existence is song quoting Rilke, because I don’t want to presume upon the after-life and call it “Heaven.”

Quoted Wikipedia article

The Dante Quartet took six years to produce.The eight-minute silent film was created by painting images directly onto  IMAX and Cinemascope 70mm and 35mm the film. Sometimes over previously photographed material that was then scraped away or otherwise manipulated. The paint was applied very thickly onto the film, up to half an inch thick. 

Added music and sound by Michael Surber 2011

Visions in Meditation 2 (1989)
Visions in Meditation 3 (1990) Plato’s Cave
Visions in Meditation 4 (1990) D H Lawrence


Glaze of Cathexis 1990
Black Ice (1994)
Stellar (1993)
Persian Series 1999 painted directly on film.
Comingled Containers (1997)
Untitled (For Marilyn) (1992)


Water for Mata (2000) Short, hand painted abstract Animation by Stan Brakhage, a Homage to Maya Deren.