Aunty on Animation

It would seem that the BBC of late hides its lights under the bushel of its online only output – the iPlayer.

Following on from the very worthwhile bio documentary on British DJ David Rodigan and Reggae, another documentary caught my attention, another perennial interest of mine: stop-frame animation.

With CGI, stop-frame animation is likely seen as a niche and probably quaint pursuit. When it can take years to produce a five minute film, the first question on unsympathetic lips must be, why bother? It’s like the audience I was in, listening to an Oxford busker perform a longish piece on a didgeridoo. He was, as the didge goes, very accomplished but I overheard a boy whisper to his friend, “Uh, I can do that on my Casio”. I guess you get it or you don’t.

And so it is that stop-frame animators, to the informed at least, have the status of artisan and artists, not mass produced manufacturers of cartoons by computers.

As the programme explains, there is something quintessentially British about British animation historically. I think it’s possibly because there are no rules but also, as explained, there is no money. Anyway, I love it.

Here’s a couple of my favourites featured for those unable to view BBC iPlayer. If you can get it, the link is below.

This is from Osbert Parker’s Clothes (1988).

In this animation, he used a collection of vintage clothes and props laid out across his apartment floor in a sequence planned from a storyboard.

As with any stop-frame technique, the clothes are slightly rearranged before each subsequent shot – you get the picture.

Joanna Quinn is an amazing draughtsman. Such exquisite drawings and detailed expressions on her characters’ faces.

This is Girls’ Night Out (1987) about a group of Welsh factory workers visiting a male stripper event.

Click on either image to see the clip.

Secrets of British Animation – BBC iPlayer

Who doesn’t like Popeye can see me after class

Folks, it’s time for a little light visual entertainment, I think, and by way of my new follow, Hobo Moon Cartoons, this blog is proud to show Popeye the Sailor (featuring Betty Boop) in the first ever feature of Popeye.

Any who knows me, or wants to for that matter, will know this kind of thing is milk to my tea, and a biscuit to dunk with it. I’m not swayed so much by awesome visuals, just give me ingenious sight gags every time. And this toon is full to the brim with them. (I love the way the seaman lowers the gang plank before Olive Oyl arrives.)

And please check out Hobo Moon Cartoons, just two minutes from this theatre!

image: “Countdown #1” by Bladud Fleas

The GIF was made many years ago when I did a bit of photography and was given some photo editing software, gratis, which included a GIF maker (when GIFs were a new thing). I found these GIFs recently while sorting through an old memory stick.

Despite enjoying movies a lot, I have not set foot in a cinema for about two decades – I simply didn’t like the experience – and as technology has come an astonishingly long way in that time, I probably never need to ever go again. Now it occurs to me that also I haven’t kept up with how cinemas work today and the “hair in the gate” problem might be a complete obsolescence. No matter, consider it a lesson in cultural history.

Getting Animated

I am pleased to follow Hobo Moon Cartoons‘ blog from this week. I’m hoping to see some interesting pieces from them dropping into my Reader.

The title is reason enough as I have long been fascinated by the idea of hoboing or tramping around the place. One of my favourites is The Autobiography of a Supertramp by the Welsh poet, WH Davies. I picked this book up when I was at school in London, then was amazed to find out much later that he lived out his days in a cottage in Nailsworth, not that far from where we are now. But I digress….

I love the simple methods of making moving images. Animations. Whether it be those little flip books we had as kids – are they still made? – or the fantastic zoetropes I saw in the London Science Museum – sadly, these exhibits seem to have been removed or relocated elsewhere – or the animated cartoons or 3D objects that we all enjoy, I assume.

Specifically, for me, it is the painstaking method of creating the illusion of movement created by the stop-frame process. I’m sure there are apps which create the same effects more effortlessly and that’s okay for those folks and we’ll all get used to driverless cars and sell our brains on ebay, pristine and unused, and eventually disappear up our own orifices….but in the meantime, for me, it’s delight in simple artistic processes that counts.

Oh, and I once devised a comic strip character called Tooting Car Moon. Tooting being a neighbourhood of London, if you didn’t already know. He was a round man under a fez, and probably could convince you of his lineage back to the pharaohs, who knows?

That’s all, folks!

Hobo Moon Cartoons blog

image: “Countdown #3” by Bladud Fleas