Thursday, September 24, 2009

"Dots", Norman McLaren (1940)

"Animation is not the art of drawings that move but the art of movements that are drawn".

McLaren's aphorism is neatly illustrated by his short film "Dots". The individual frames of the work communicate very little, but seen in quick succession they form a series of lively, playful movements set to music. By releasing himself from the need to draw a character or object, he was able to create a charicature of motion itself.

laren was an experimental film-maker at his most prolific in the 30's, 40's and 50's. His work for the GPO Film Unit (UK), National Film Board of Canada (NFB), and UNESCO, has earned him the reputation as one of the most influential animators of the last century. He worked with a wide variety of techniques including painting, drawing, pixellation, stop-motion, optical printing, and multiple exposures. His pixellated anti-war parable Neighbours (1952) won him the Best Documentary, Short Subjects at the 1953 Academy Awards.

"Dots" was made by painting directly onto clear frames of film, as pictured in the frame enlargements below. Interestingly, the music was created in the same way, painting directly into the area on the film strip usually reserved for the soundtrack. The film was created at the request of the Museum of Non-Objective Painting, later the Guggenheim, in New York.

(Frame enlargements from "Dots")


Paul Wells -
Animation: Alternative Methods
(retrieved 25.09.09)

Bill Schaffer - The Riddle of the Chicken: The Work of Norman McLaren (retrieved 25.09.09)

Robert Koehler - Some Aspects of Norman McLaren (retrieved 25.09.09)

BBC Radio - Dots and Loops (retrieved 03.10.09)