Brain Pickings

Posts Tagged ‘animation’

01 DECEMBER, 2011

Spiderman-Like Folk Hero Taunts the Nazis in 1945 Czech Animation

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What a mischievous chimney sweep has to do with tricking Hitler out of power.

To those of us who grew up in Eastern Europe, Czech puppet maker, illustrator, and animator Jirí Trnka (1912-1969) is best-known for his illustrations of the fairy tales of Hans Christian Andersen and the Brothers Grimm (recently included in Taschen’s epic volume collecting the best illustrations from 130 years of the Brothers Grimm). In fact, he came of age as a children’s book artist during World War II, when he illustrated books for children and eventually started dabbling in animation. In 1945, just as the war was winding down, he began working on Perak a SS (The Springer and the SS Men, or Springman and the SS, or The Jumper and the Men of the SS) — an animated anti-Nazi film, based on a WWII urban legend about a mischievous chimney-sweep-turned-superhero who taunts the Nazis, reminiscent in both appearance and action of an early Spiderman.

Trnka went on to have a prolific career in experimental animation, creating some astounding and brilliantly innovative, not only for their time but also by today’s standards, puppet films.

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28 NOVEMBER, 2011

25 Celebrated Saul Bass Title Sequences in 100 seconds

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Supercutting the visual legacy of the greatest graphic designer of all time.

To celebrate the release of the highly anticipated and altogether fantastic Saul Bass monograph, one of the 11 best art and design books of 2011 and among the most important design books ever published, Art of the Title editor Ian Albinson put together this brilliant brief visual history of Bass’s most celebrated work, which influenced generations of designers, animators, and visual storytellers alike.

The featured films, in order:

Carmen Jones (1954)
The Big Knife (1955)
The Seven Year Itch (1955)
The Man with the Golden Arm (1955)
Around the World in Eighty Days (1956)
Vertigo (1958)
Anatomy of a Murder (1959)
North by Northwest (1959)
Spartacus (1960)
Psycho (1960)
Ocean’s Eleven (1960)
West Side Story (1961)
Walk on the Wild Side (1962)
Nine Hours to Rama (1963)
It’s a Mad Mad Mad Mad World (1963)
Bunny Lake is Missing (1965)
Seconds (1966)
Not with My Wife, You Don’t! (1966)
Grand Prix (1966)
That’s Entertainment, Part II (1976)
The War of the Roses (1989)
Goodfellas (1990)
Cape Fear (1991)
The Age of Innocence (1993)
Casino (1995)

On a related note, don’t forget this wonderful 2-minute history of film title sequence design.

via Doobybrain

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23 NOVEMBER, 2011

Charade: Lessons in Creative Vision from a 1984 College Student

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What Goethe has to do with pioneering animation.

In the summer of 1984, Sheridan College student Jon Minnis set out to complete an ambitious project, armed with only PANTONE markers and paper. (Cue in this morning’s PANTONE history of the 20th century.) After four months of writing and polishing a clever script, he spent another three meticulously storyboarding and animating it into an elegant, minimalist 4-minute film titled Charade, which Minnis voiced himself.

The gem went on to win the 1985 Academy Award for Best Animated Short Film and remains a heartening example of dreaming up a project and bringing it single-handedly to life. Or, as Goethe almost put it:

Whatever you can do, or dream you can, begin It! Boldness has genius, power and magic in it.”

Charade is available on the altogether excellent 1994 collection World’s Greatest Animation, featuring Academy Award winners and nominees from the years 1978-1991.

via Animation Graduate Films; thanks for the quote, Liz

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16 NOVEMBER, 2011

Superwoman Was Already Here: Montessori’s Philosophy, Animated

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A visual manifesto for keeping the fire in kids’ eyes burning.

Superwoman Was Already Here! is an animated adaptation of the Montessori philosophy of education by Maria Montessori superfan Daniel C. Petter-Lipstein (who lists Harvard College and Columbia Law School as his alma maters). Though I wish he hadn’t used a company called 321 Fast Draw, who use all-caps, exclamation points, and the word “ZING” in their sales pitch and who effectively ripped off Andrew Park’s brilliant and memorable style of RSA animation — and poorly, at that — I’m still intrigued by a sketchnote-animated synthesis of the Montessori philosophy. (Though it certainly doesn’t help that the most famous RSA animation is actually the adaptation of Sir Ken Robinson’s now-legendary TED talk on changing educational paradigms, adding to the similarity of style a similarity of message.) Be your own judge:

Kids don’t stop asking questions because they lose interest. It’s the other way around — they lose interest because they stop asking questions.”

This, in turn, inspired another animation, alas also from 321 Fast Draw, by Petter-Lipstein’s “fellow Montessori caped crusader” Trevor Eissler, based on Eissler’s popular book Montessori Madness! A Parent to Parent Argument for Montessori Education:

For more on the Montessori school of thought, see Maria Montessori’s own recently digitized handbook and her seminal 1949 book The Absorbent Mind. For a broader look at the past and future of learning, don’t miss these 7 must-read books on education.

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