9 Mar 2010

Animation Theatre 1: The Wonders of Norman Mclaren


Begone Dull care (1949)

The whole animation is driven by the music - it's a Jazz interpretation
( The music is done by 'The Oscar Peterson Trio' , Oscar Peterson, C. Jones and A. Roberts). You see patterns symbols and shapes appearing according to music.
It might start spinning your head ab it but it's lenght is 7 minutes so to my mind that's a perfect match for this type of animation.

I think the experience of the animation closely resembles one's who has synesthesia (the ability to "see" sounds or feel the taste of colours) :D

I liked it :)

One of the contemporary examples of that could be a video clip of Chemical Brothers Star Guitar.

Only this time its not as surrealistic or abstract As In Begone Dull care, but the idea still remains the same - interpreting sounds using visual symbols.

Each repeated sound has its visual symbol ( like a traffic light or a house or a bush) and this idea of representing the sound with an object goes through the whole clip and it isn‘t boring at all, since it is intentionally designed that way. Even contrary, you find yourself involved because its interesting what the journey, directed by music is going to be like .

It is great how music can drive the animation . Very interesting idea.

Another very moving animation made by Norman Mclaren is

Pas De Deux (1968)

Definition of Pas De Deux - (ballet) a dance for two people (usually a ballerina and a danseur noble)

You see shilluetes of Ballet dancers in a black screen. The rear lighting makes the outlines of the body white and the volume black - what is the opposite of what we are used to. And because of the technique of multiple exposure (that was then used for very first time and was shocking to the crowd like Avatar today for us :D )we get the delights of movement.
You can see the arcs and the flow of movement, how really smooth and continuous it is. How the overlapping frames even create new abstract patterns and symbols.

In contrast to the stillness and peace brought by Pas De Deux the same animator created

Le Merle (The Blackbird) (1985)

Norman Mclaren used mere symbols for character design( circles and dots for eyes, few lines for the whole design)and blank background - but it still works, and to add even more, it suggests more meanings, you are left to fill in the gap when it is masterfully animated.

It fells like this animation invites to get back to basics (mere lines and dots) and really dig into the process of animation.

I think that's what I'm going to consider when deciding how my characters and the environment should look like.


  1. I thought the pas de deux was amazing!

  2. Totaly... No eords for that. I think I watched it with my mouth opened :D

  3. Yes, I had thought the Begone Dull Care reminded me of synesthesia too! I thought it was brilliant - really hypnotic! (And of course, I loved the piano!! :)

  4. Yes I agree, Oscar Peterson is amazing :)