Door – David Anderson

26 06 2008

There is a great power in inanimate objects and architectural features, and exploited here is the door. A closed door is a very powerful image. Just seeing it places questions into the audiences mind, raising their emotional expectation. A closed door will inevitably open, but what is behind it? A very potent image, it links directly to our subconscious raising questions about choices and options, anticipation and fear.

Add in a keyhole and we begin a quest, searching to find the key to answer to our biggest questions.

Often drawn upon like Pandora’s box, a door can be something that once opened, cannot be closed

In David Anderson’s 1990 film “Door”, he explores this concept with acclaimed writer Russell Hoban providing the text and narration, producing a funny and powerful animation which also explores the use of a multitude of exciting techniques. Click below to see it.




The Action Cats

25 06 2008

Motionographer, an excellent website for creative moving image work has an interview with The Action Cats, a group of designers, animators and filmmakers who use interesting experimental and traditional techniques to produce an innovative and dark look for their piece “The Experiment”

“The Experiment” was produced for Adobe’s “See what’s possible” competition, and stood out from the crowd by its unusual look and mix of technique. It’s refreshing to see techniques experimented and played with to such great effect. 

In the interview they explain their working processes and have included a number of videos and stills to elaborate on their processes. This is great to see the evolution involved. Follow the interview here and click the links below to see the work.



23 06 2008

Pixilation is a great technique for producing quick and fantastic looking animation. Based on stop motion, where the animator places clay figures or other 3d objects in front of the camera, takes a frame then moves the objects and repeats.

The difference with Pixilation is that instead of taking a great deal of time making models, the subject of the animation is real people. By animating their movements you can make them do really amazing things.

In his 1989 film the Wizard of Speed and Time, Mike Jitlov shows what great fun can be had with this technique.

The classic Japanese horror film Tetsuo by Shinya Tsukamoto also contains many great examples.

watch the sequence starting about halfway through the trailer. This film is astounding by the way. From 1989, its unbelievably intense action and at times unfathomable storyline have really been influential for a new generation of filmmakers.

The pixilation technique has a lot of similarities to time lapse photography, mainly due to the inevitable rapid speeding up of time that happens when shooting and the fact that it is shot in a real world environment. To see great examples of this you need to see Godfrey Reggio’s Koyaanisqatsi.

This technique has been used by a great deal of influential animators and filmmakers, including Jan Svankmajer who incorporated it into his surreal films. The daddy of them all though has to be the grand master himself, Norman McLaren. A prolific Scottish animator who pioneered many exciting and new techniques and won the Oscar for his thought provoking short, neighbours. Not many people pushed the possibilities of moving image as much as this man.


And crikey, even Nokia have been playing with it for their recent ad campaign

Ink tank film experiments

18 06 2008

Here are a couple of companies who have been doing really interesting things with the classic film technique of filming ink and other substances. By experimenting with this technique and then treating it in after effects or other post-production software you can really make astonishing looking work. These really push the integration of the ink and post production in a way that makes it greater than what many others have done.



I really like the editing in of the spinning graphic element into the Dstrukt piece above – “Reading Nature”, and the way that the layers interact and subtract. The combination of different elements helps create a distinct look. The tracking markers also work really well in this piece about evolution, contrasting the low and high tech.




Sesucht, a German company have also played with inktanks for this amazingly choreographed piece “Symphony in Red”. This work is really in a class of it’s own, seamlessly mixing the filmed experiments into an after effects 3d space. At one point they use timeremapping to turn the ink into sprouting flowers. A very clever combination of a natural technique and software. Oh and all the text ‘washing’ away was done for real – no displacement maps, keying or other such trickery. Just Dishwasher detergent and the text printed onto foils. 

To find it you need to navigate through their website, click on Action, then References and it’s near the bottom. Once you’re there also check out their “Black Poem” which is absolutely astounding. Their use of sound is wonderful. 

Get an old fish tank and try it yourself.  Use inks, milk, detergents, oils, whatever you can find. To find lots more experiments that people have made, just checkout youtube entries like this one, and start clicking.