Friday, October 10, 2008

Rough Theatre

I can only think of one experience which I've been a part that has to do with the rough theatre. In high school, my friends and I would take a project movies in sort of a drive in type of experience. Not in our cars, but we'd set it up in our driveway and watch movies outside. Though this was only a few times, we'd usually set it up where we could play video games as well. Once it got to cold outside we'd move it inside and keep on rolling. We found it fun to change up movie watching from indoors. It was typically a hassle to run power and such, so this limited the times we did it. It was never really more than five or six of us there, which made it a unique experience. Usually the movies we watched were still in the theatre as well, so we were creating our own megaplex in the drive way.

After thinking about what we did, it made me think that maybe the first rough theatre (the rough theatre pioneer is you will) is the drive-in movie. It's a completely different concept than going to a sit down theatre. You go and hang out with your friends, show off your car, maybe not even watch the movie at all. And now it's a nostalgic experience. A unique experience. Obviously a milestone in film watching, otherwise people wouldn't want to go to something like that. People want to attend unique things. Which brings me to my next point:

Meshing the rough with the standard theatre. I thought there had to be a hybrid that links the two together. And I think the best thing I can think of is the midnight premiere. Think of "Star Wars: Episode III: Revenge of the Sith." You drive up and there standing in the crowd are thirty Darth Vaders, countless Jedi, and of course hundreds of lightsabers. Talk about a unique experience. Seeing the premiere of a film with the most well versed of that film's important trivia. This has become more and more popular. It's become an event. Like Star Trek conventions, you don't just go, you have to dress up and get there an hour early, and talk with the other Jokers, Obi Wan Kenobi's, and Spidermen. Share in your obsession. I myself have never gone to a midnight showing, but based on the people I know who have, I can peg how devoted to a particular film or character you must be to do such a thing. I think this is the rough theatre bleeding into the mainstream, and I think we will continue to see more events like this.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Animation: Developmental vs. Experimental

Configuration vs. Abstraction
I think when we hear animation or cartoon, our first thoughts are geared towards configuration. We are drawn to it as kids. We don't want to watch abstract movements; instead we like the movements of characters that entertain us. Especially being able to watch animals that can only come alive (humanistically) in our imaginations take to life on the screen. Sure abstraction may be tougher and more aesthetically pleasing, but it is not a mainstream entertainment like the animation of Warner Brothers or Disney.

Specific Continuity vs. Specific Non-continuity
I think this is an interesting difference between the two animation styles. Experimental animation has no reason to contain any kind of continuity except that of non-continuity. It's almost as if we expect experimental animation to be nothing but non-continuous simply because it is the opposite of developmental animation. While I understand the reasoning, I think experimental animation takes thought and choice. That thought and decision making is the continuous element that may not form a story, but still holds meaning. I believe he touches on that.

Narrative vs. Interpretive
Many times I think this is thought of as a key difference between the two forms of animation. Developmental is seen predominantly as a form of entertainment. Experimental is seen more as an art form. I think this also ties in closely to the "Absence of Artist vs. Presence of Artist" point. The artistry is often forgotten when animation presents a narrative. However, many times experimental film calls attention to the presence of the artist. It could be sloppy or carry a particular signature of a filmmaker. Typically these narratives try to cover up that they are in fact manufactured.

Also the article mentions Duck Amuck which was actually one of my favorite cartoons back in the day. I figured I'd post that since it defies many of the conventions of developmental animation.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

6x1 Thus Far

I figure talking about each thing we've done individually is the best way to express my likes and dislikes.

Scratching: I enjoy doing this. I tend to start to attempt to animate with my scratching. It's just what I drift toward naturally. I enjoy the freedom of the scratching. Essentially that I get to dismantle perfectly good film until I see fit. Really the only boundaries to this are what you limit yourself to. Anything can be a scratching tool. Just some things look better than others. I found that the sand paper was not to my liking, but a nail offered me precision more than the thumb tack. Though one perk I found of the thumb tack was being able to punch small holes in the film, another great technique for simple animations.

Animating: The animation portion of the project is the one I think about the most. The one that I plan the most. I find the precision of animation to be infatuating. I like that I create the motion. Not just random motion either. Motion that is calculated and timed. I've always been interested in this. Even in ninth grade biology. We were assigned to make a flip book of mitosis (cell reproduction) and I spent hours making the perfect motion. I view this as a big mitosis project.

Magazine Transfers: Easily my favorite thing we've done. This is so unique. Really I'm not sure how this was conceived, but I really enjoyed the process. Arranging the layers and seeing how things turn out on the screen was a lot of fun. Much like with the film scratching, I try to get very precise and start to animate. I have to constantly remind myself that this small strip will be on the screen for a fraction of a second. Still, knowing exactly what I put on my strip even when I see it for that split second is rewarding.

Inks & Oils: This is tough for me to enjoy because it lacks the precision of a pen or scratch. It seems aimless and I prefer to have greater control over my work. I'm sure there are ways to control the inks, but I haven't discovered them. Again, this is most certainly a personal preference. Maybe I will enjoy it once I begin to master it. Or maybe there is no mastering it and what I've experienced thus far is precisely what inks and oils are all about. Hopefully I can discover what it is that sets this form of filmmaking apart and make something I feel is unique and fulfilling.

Rayograms: I enjoyed doing this, but not quite as much as the magazine transfers. I thought it was involved for what we produced. Much like with the inks/oils, I'm confident that much can made from this technique. We just can't fully explore the depths of rayograms in a single week, on a 6 foot film strip. After doing it once though, I see little objects and think "That would make an interesting rayogram." Hopefully I can explore this technique a little more.

Wednesday, September 3, 2008


After reading the first few pages of the Brakhage assignment, it felt as if I were talking to Stan himself. It seems like Brakhage sat down at a desk and wrote exactly what he was thinking, in no particular order. And seemingly with no direction. Sure he communicates a lot of information, but in a mode by which you almost feel like you're not being taught. Rather just talked to. While his "humor" added to this sense of conversation, I think the run-on sentences and simple instruction made these few pages easily readable.

I thought one of the most interesting portions of the reading was when he essentially poked fun at his own career. He referenced the lack of an audience for the films he makes, but encouraged the readers to not hesitate to follow their dreams. Interesting and conflicting points. He also jokes about how few people attended a screening of a Kenneth Anger film. This got me thinking about how discouraging it must be to devote your life to this medium and have a handful of people appreciate your work in your lifetime. Obviously it is quite the contrary now. Many people see Brakhage's films and films like them as necessary means to the film industry as it exists today. Even Martin Scorsese says he is indebted to filmmakers such as these for their trailblazing.

His introduction of animation was also very entertaining. Essentially comparing film animation to that of a flip book was humorous, but spot on. I had quite a few flip books as a kid, and I was always enthralled with the simple motion. So when I almost think of Brakhage as a big kid imagining these intricate flip books and putting them on film.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Scratch Film Junkies Response

Four specific things really stuck out to me about this film.

The scratching and image overlap seemed void of meaning to me. Nevertheless, I liked how certain things were revealed and concealed via the scratching and overlapping. I cannot recall a specific instance because most of the film is a blur, but I do recall objects moving in and out of view because they would be revealed and concealed by the extra film elements.

The parts I really enjoyed were the slower parts highlighted by slower beats. I liked the opportunity to breathe for a second and sit and think about an image for a second before continuing the barrage of beats and imagery. The slow portions almost felt like slow motion even though no motion was taking place. The music behind the imagery helped your mind to connect two frames that obviously contained no implied motion.

As the images changed, I noticed the beats would tend to change as well. Sometimes I noticed the images didn't quite match the beat, but I tried to watch it as if they were synched. What I mean is I forced the images to match the beats. In a way it both engaged and disengaged me from the film. Engaged because I focused on the imagery and music. Disengaged because I payed less attention to what I was actually seeing. I became engulfed in matching the sound and forgot to watch the technique.

After a while of watching I would find myself getting bored with the "themes." What I mean is that as soon as I would get bored with a particular section, a new section or theme would begin. One section would seem to drag a bit and as soon as I thought it was dragging, the section would move on. This I saw as a pro and con. It was good because I think the film realized it was getting bored and then continue in order to hold my attention. It was annoying though because I got bored after seeing the same technique for too long.