Thursday, September 29, 2011

Quiz on Heidi Kumao's Presentation

Associate Professor Heidi Kumao presented several still-image and stop-motion animation filmmakers.

1. Pre-cinema and early animation:
thaumatrope, phenakistoscope, zoetrope, Edwaurd Muybridge, Joseph Plateau and Emile Reynaud

2. Jan Svankmajer - Meat Love

3. PES - Kaboom and The Deep

4. Eric Dyer - Kinetic Sandwich

5. Caroline Leaf - The Owl Who Married a Goose (sand animation)

6. Michael Langan - Dahlia

Select 2 of the films and compare the techniques - describe what you saw and how the different techniques elicit a reaction or an emotion. Do the films show an unusual movement for the selected objects.


  1. Comparing 3&5

    In Pes' "Kaboom" piece, objects took on different roles, popcorn for fire, ribbon bows for explosions and matches for missiles. In Caroline's piece, "The Owl Who Married a Goose," the characters and scenes where completely made from sand.

    Two noticeable differences are he energy and emotion in both pieces. Pes' piece is full of color and sounds and fast actions with lots of different objects, it's very engaging as a viewer. Caroline's piece was like watching a black and white film, the story line was heavier, causing you to have sympathy with the characters, and with minimal sounds and color and even objects, there was nothing to be distracted by.

    They both utilized unusual movements for the selected objects. Sand is not usually used to draw or play out a scene. But there was still an element of the movement of sand. Similarly in Pes' piece while the object has unusual roles their movements some still kept an element of their identity, like the popcorn popping for explosions.

  2. PES's The Deep vs. Caroline Leaf's The Owl Who Married A Goose

    The most noticeable difference between the two is the material with which they were both made. The Deep used tools and metal materials to create images and make us believe they were in fact deep sea creatures, while the Owl Who Married A Goose used sand to create shadow; there was no need to infer that the sand was a goose because we hardly even see the sand at all, just the silhouette of something that we already recognize. We know that sand can take any shape, and so while the form of it was excellently manipulated, we never needed to stretch our imagination to accommodate the material. The Deep, however, required a sense of humor to understand the creatures as creatures, and not as just tools.

  3. I really enjoyed the work of PES in 'Kaboom', he used household objects/toys to display this battle scene. He used objects that are pleasurable and fun to display a scene of destruction. He really implemented the idea of manipulating objects, and everything in the scene was used in that manor. This work is in great contrast to the work of Carolina Leaf who used a light box and sand to create her scene. She just uses one object to manipulate a scene, whereas PES uses hundreds of different objects. When viewing Leaf's work you may not have known how she created the image but with PES's work it is very obvious the objects that he used and that fact greatly contributes to his work.

  4. PES - Kaboom and Eric Dyer - Kinetic Sandwich

    In Kaboom, we see a plane bombing a city while taking fire from anti aircraft guns. The guns are keys firing clown cupcake toppers, and the city is made of old household appliances. Explosions are made of golden bows and glass Christmas ornaments. This use of bizarre objects illicit a reaction of humor tainted with sadness. The fact that clown heads are exploding into popcorn and peanuts bomb cities, turning them into multicolored ornaments, is amusing. However, it is based on air warfare and city bombings, which is a very serious subject.

    In Kinetic Sandwich, we are taken through the various layers of a sandwich with accompanying sound effects. While an intriguing look at a sandwich, the extreme close up of the ingredients coupled with occasional disturbing sound effects makes for an uncomfortable experience. At times I felt myself drawing away from the screen in mild disgust.

    The films, especially Kaboom, show very unusual movement for the selected objects. It is interesting to see keys firing clowns turning into popcorn. Definitely something you don't see everyday... With Kinetic Sandwich, you see some of the ingredients bubbling or moving around in unnerving ways. Both of these shorts are very unusual.

  5. Meat Love & The Owl Who Married a Goose

    In "meat love," Jan Svankmajer brings two pieces of meat to life in a regular kitchen setting. The only objects not acting as expected are the pieces of meat. Svankmajer used an actual set for shooting his piece, using real objects and kitchen.

    In "The Owl Who Married a Goose," Leaf uses sand to create a series of images. She uses sand as her drawing medium, so her technique resembles typical animation. Her piece differs from Svankmajer's because she does not use real objects or a set that is a physical space, rather she "draws" each frame with sand.

  6. Eric Dyer's Kinetic Sandwich is a piece that shows a sort of journey through a sandwichs' layers. There are rather odd movements as the still images sink through all the layers. The images seem to spin. Also the audio in the piece didn't seem to relate to the layers or the animation at all.
    Pes's Kaboom is an animation using antique items to show a "futurists" battle scene. In the piece every object seemed extremely well thought out. Some of the object I saw were old skeleton keys for canons, clown head pastry toppers for canon ball explosions and matches for missiles. As far as movements, I didn't notice much. Everything seemed to stay in one position besides the missiles. Instead of literal movement of objects the artist used different camera angles and places.

  7. In Pes's piece, The Deep,the fish are all made out of metal tools, which is quite unusual for something that is supposed to be representing a fish's body. but Pes makes the tools move in such a fluid way, that it looks very believable! the objects jerked and bobbed around in the "water" just as a real fish would in the water. Eric Dyer's piece Kinetic Sandwich was very different, however. He did not really make anything move around a space, rather, he took any photos of slices of a sandwich as it went through the given layers from top to bottom. It was interesting to see the movement of the food as it looked as if it were just materializing and de-materializing right in front of your eyes, but to me, it has much less of a fluid feeling to it. What I really liked about PES's piece was that I could recognize the objects he was using, but he was making them move in a way that caused me to recognize them as something else, as well. Dyer's pice really didn't do all that much for me, just because I could tell what the object was, and while it was cool that it was moving like that, it sort of got old after awhile.

  8. Kaboom by PEZ was the most intriguing stop motion animation that caught my attention. I thought it was creative in the way he used objects and really gave it a life. When he was explaining about his piece, I thought it was interesting how he did a lot of research in choosing his objects- not just random ones. For example, he chose a peanut because that somewhat represented the atomic bomb. While he used a lot of objects to create this piece, it was a different feeling to watch The Owl Who Married a Goose by Carolina Leaf. Carolina used only sand in the project which gave it a lot more settled down feelings compared to the one from PEZ. The movement of the Goose was very soft and I don't think I would have known that the material was sand. The silhouettes gave it a more contrast between the negative and positive space as well. Both of these animation told a story in a way that was quite different. They were both technically strong but the way it was presented to us in terms of emotion was definitely distinguishable. By using only one material, Carolina made me appreciate the story more since I was paying attention to every detail of the project. However, PEZ had a lot of materials that was very exciting but some images went through so quickly that I seem to have missed some of the detail.

  9. In PES's Kaboom, he uses several different objects (matches, toys, bows, Christmas ornaments, etc.) that had a lot of fluidity and moved in ways they wouldn't normally. In Caroline Leaf's pice The Owl Who Married A Goose, she used only one object: sand. In Kaboom, the objects were brightly colored, often shiny and very eye catching which created a playful feel in juxtaposition with the fact that the piece depicted bombing. His piece used several different camera angles and different shots while Caroline's piece did not. Her piece was black and white (as opposed to brightly colored like PES's) and the sand gave it a subtle, more natural feeling--like the pictures were more drawings than photos. The two shorts are very different from each other but both achieve fluid movement with objects that normally wouldn't have any life or movement to them.

  10. Kinetic Sandwich by Eric Dyer and Dahlia by Michael Langan were extremely interesting pieces. Both pieces were very different from one another in the story line. In Kinetic sandwich, the artist focus's on textures and sounds while trying to dissect each layer. It almost looked as if he was looking under a microscope at the break up of the different ingredients. However, Dahlia was more interesting to me. The artist captured much emotion while showing different scenes on the beach, of parking meters, and just of everyday life. It was interesting to see how all the parking meters and backgrounds changed, yet it all seemed to become one. I enjoyed the technique of Dahlia much better than the kinetic sandwich because It captured my attention and I felt more connected to the story line. I think this is because in Dahlia the artist showed things we view in our everyday life, while in Kinetic San

  11. Jan Svanmajer-meat piece

    In Jan Svanmajer's meat piece, we see two pieces of meat interacting similarly to humans. They seem to argue, dance, have sex, then they are swept up and fried in a pan. The artist essentially gives the meat human-like characteristics and personalities. The hard noises and bright lighting allow for the meat to be portrayed as a little aggressive but also funny. In PES's Kaboom, PES illustrates a battle between a fighter jet and a city. He drops a bomb (a peanut) onto this city. In Kaboom PES makes unordinary household items, (many from the 50's) a whole new image. He turns circuit boards into a city scape, keys into canons, and he uses bows and ornaments to represent explosions. Ultimately he repurposes random items and turns them into something completely opposite by altering the scale they are viewed at.

    Ultimately both artists use objects that are completely different than what they are meant to be in the particular short films. The objects they use are often symbolic and they are both used successfully to portray their story plots.

  12. In Jan Svanmajer's "meat love," two slices of steak are conceived, initiate foreplay and hilariously proceed to attempt copulation, after-which they are fried. In Michael Langan's "Dahlia," he uses numerous shots of the city scape to build a narrative of the beauty of city life and create a sort of rhythm that was accompanied by music.
    It appeared that Dahlia had more frames per second, and Langan often used shots in which the point of view moved instead of the objects. In the parking meter shot he changed parking meters for every frame, but was able to keep the flow of movement consistent. He did not use objects to act as something else, as he was going for a more awe inspiring feeling.
    Svanmajer was attempting humour and had his subjects behvae in atypical ways. the slabs of meat mirrored human gesture and mannerism in order to create a sense of personality. He also told a more direct story than Langan's which was kind of hinting at a story.

  13. In "The Deep" by PES, the artist uses common household objects to create a scene of sea life that dwell near the bottom of the ocean. With his objects, he is able to create fish with pliers, squids with math compasses, small fish with skeleton keys, etc. His technique added to the underwater scene. His use of common, and mostly, dark, metal objects made the scene more eerie. There was little motion by the fish in the film besides occasionally darting to one side but it was interesting to see the these solid objects put together looking like a fish swaying back and forth.

    In the piece "Dahlia" by Michael Langan, however, the artist uses a different way of shooting, He shoots things that a person might see on a normal walk through a city by the bay. He uses stop motion to show a beautiful array of flowers, sailboats going by and other things such as parking meters. His technique, while it is fast and hectic, makes you feel at ease in a way. Everything is bright and energetic as opposed to "The Deep" where everything is dark and mysterious. Also, as opposed to PES, Langan's piece had a lot of movement. His objects didn't move as much but he moved around the obuects as if he was walking by them.

  14. The film Dahlia takes everyday things like a parking meeter, sail boat and flowers and shows them in a new light. Michael Langan took thousands of photos in order to make this film possible. He always keeps the main focus in the center of the frame and you watch as everything around it moves a lot. In the film Meat Love, Jan Svankmajer takes something that doesnt move on its own and brings it to life. He tells a love story about two slices of meat. The things around them stay in place while the main focus moves around the screen. The main difference between Dahlia and Meat Love is the style of the photos taken, Dahlia has a lot going on in his images while Meat love and one central focus. Another difference is the feelings you get from each film. Dahlia is looking at the beauty we see every day while Meat Love is a comedy about two slices of meat falling in love.

  15. Jan Svankmajer's Meat Love shows the love story between two pieces steak and in the end, they were both cooked to be eaten. PES's Kaboom shows a battle between aerial and ground forces; the fighter jet ended up winning the battle and bombed the city. In Meat Love, Svankmajer chose to use an organic form, steak, to imitate human actions; while PES, in Kaboom, imitated actions by using alternative objects, like Christmas decorations to imitate buildings. The audience realizes what Svankmajer and PES intended to portray by connecting actions these objects are doing to what is normal behavior of objects in real life. But Svankmajer's use of meat, an organic form, adds a very sensual element to the piece, as he explores intimate actions between two pieces of meat. PES' piece was fun and childlike but also somewhat mechanical.

  16. The 2 animation films that interested me the most were Kinetic Sandwich by Eric Dyer, and Kaboom and The Deep by PES. In Kinetic Sandwich, you visually saw the sandwich being made and each ingredient going into it. I really appreciated the fact that lettuce, tomatoes and other types of food do not actually move in real life. The way Eric zoomed in to each piece of ingredient going into the sandwich was truly amazing to watch. It reminded me of a kaleidoscope the way the food was moving around and almost "going in and out" and then around and swirl and move so each time a new photo was being taken i imagined myself turning the knob on the kaleidoscope to view a different picture of the food.
    In The Kaboom and The Deep, i truly loved how all of the materials being used were not actually used for those purposes. The scenery was really set in this animation which made it a real story for me. I imagined myself on a plane, or watching films about war, or wrapping gifts and being overwhelmed. So many emotions came with this animation because there were so many different materials being used that all came together. The way PES explained his use for the materials was also quite inspiring. Everything had a purpose and then each one of those purposes somehow came together. For example, the keys he had left over which fit perfectly with the clown cake toppers, somehow fit together like a puzzle. As artists, we are always trying to think of new uses for objects and this animation really embodied that.
    To compare these 2 animations, i would say that they both were able to make immobile objects extremely mobile and their purposes were out of the ordinary. I love the Michael Langan film as well but i have seen flowers move in the wind as opposed to seeing matches be used as missiles in a plastic toy plane.

    Shelby Danow

  17. Two of my favorite videos shown in yesterday's lecture were Jan Svankmajer's "Meat Love" and Michael Langan's "Dahlia".
    For bringing an inanimate object to life, Jan Svankmajer is a professional. The way he was able to make the slices of meat look so human, and as if they are standing completely on their own, is amazing. Though I was so caught up watching, I found myself wondering after it was over how he got their movement so smooth and how he got certain edges suspended, representing the arms. The changes in perspective helped to highlight certain changes in the complicated appearance of the meat. The audio assisted this piece tremendously too.
    The other piece that specifically caught my attention, Dahlia by Michael Langan was done in a completely different style. For me this piece was even more engaging than any of the others. Again the audio added to the piece invaluably. The images of the same things, formatted in the exact same ways, such as the parking meters, played in rapid succession made them almost seem to move on their own. And then the beautiful flowers shown in the middle of the piece, where the camera seems to float around the bloom. I realize now that he must have taken hundreds of images for that section alone. I actually thought it was a piece of video mixed in. This example of work challenged my idea of what stop motion really is, and for that I enjoyed it.

  18. Pes' The Deep and Michael Langan were two of my favorites although their techniques differed. In Pes' film he made each of the inanimate object come to life in a new way. Pes' The Deep was a water scene. It displayed various water life at the bottom of the ocean. What was interesting is that he used tools and other hardware to create the fish. Tools are heavy, stagnant objects, only showing movement when used, while fish are very fluid creatures. So, it was interesting to see such stiff objects mimic the movement of fish so well. Pes used a lot of low lights making the atmosphere was also very dark and creepy which worked well with the bottom dwellers of the ocean. Langan 's technique, on the other hand, used series of images ( meters, flowers, railing, sidewalks, ect) to show movement throughout the city. Objects like the meters and railing would move quickly through the scenes, however the flowers were shown at a slower speed, emphasizing the beauty of nature.

  19. Kaboom and The Deep by Pes and The Owl Who Married a Goose by Caroline Leaf showed very different stop-motion animation. Pes used several different ordinary decorations to make the battle field like setting. On the other hand, Caroline Leaf used sand to depict owls and gooses. I felt dynamic and thrill in Kaboom and The Deep. The Owl Who Married a Goose made me feel sad and quiet. I liked both of them. Pes showed the progress of him making the film. The objects were all carefully chosen. His idea of using popcorn and ribbon for the boom was brilliant. The settings of a town was very detailed. I was amazed. I really like to do a piece like this.