Friday, September 12, 2008


The Factory: Hamilton Media Arts Centre
presents Factory Works Screening Series
7:30 PM & 9 PM ( Doors open at 7 pm)

“Exploring Animation”

Two screenings (7:30 pm & 9 pm ) of animated shorts exploring different styles, techniques and innovation in animation by independent artists.

Prior to screenings there will be an animation book and artwork display.

Curator: Harold Duckett (

The Factory: Hamilton Media Arts Center
126 James Street North, Hamilton, ON L8R 2K7
(905) 577- 9191

The Factory Screening Series - "Exploring Animation"

When we explore animation, we can’t help but think about the industry’s unique history of innovation and different styles and techniques created by the artists. In Montreal, in the late 1800s, Raoul Barre and his stop-motion camera animation photography techniques and early inventions like the Thaumatrope, the Phenakistoscope and the Zoetrope, showed pictures and photos that depicted movement and were used in small peep shows and vaudeville sideshows to entertain crowds.

Early film makers or silent screen stars like Charlie Chaplin, Harold Lloyd and Buster Keaton used animation editing techniques and their use of stop-motion photography and acting skills to tell their unique funny stories that were so popular.

Windsor McKay started registering his drawings and invented acetate layering of cels and produced early pencil and paper (pen and ink) animated epics, “Gertie the Dinosaur” and “The Sinking of the Lusitania”.

The first cartoon with sound is arguably attributed to Walt Disney, starring and introducing his world beloved Mickey Mouse in “Steamboat Willie”. Harmon and Ising helped Disney with “Silly Symphonies”, and right alongside these greats were the Fleischer Bros. (Max and Dave) with “Koko the Clown”, ‘Betty Boop”, “Popeye”, and early Warner Bros. cartoons, “Merrie Melodies” and “Looney Tunes” with director Tex Avery, that help set the pace and the beginnings of the Golden Age of Animation.

Walt Disney created the multi-plane camera and the first full-length feature animated cartoon with sound, “Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs”. Soon to follow were his masterpieces, “Fantasia”, “Pinocchio” and “Dumbo”. “Gulliver’s Travels”, a full-length feature produced by the Fleischer Bros., was a greater box office success than Disney’s original first feature at the time.

When we entered the Golden Age of Animation, all major motion picture studios had fantastic animation directors and studios, such as MGM (Tex Avery, Fred Quimby), Universal (Walter Lantz), Paramount (Max and Dave Fleischer), Walt Disney Studios (Frank Thomas and Olie Johnson), Warner Brothers (Bob Clampett, Chuck Jones, Frank Tashlin, Fritz Freling), where they created animated shorts for screening prior to the studios' movies. During war time, a lot of propaganda films were created by these studios.

European animation was culturally diverse, and independent foreign animators from countries like Russia, Czechoslovakia, Poland, The Netherlands, Japan and China were creating different styles of drawing and painting, using stop-motion photography, rotoscoping, puppets, claymation, etc. A host of experimental techniques during the Golden Age as samples can be seen in Halas and Batchelor's “Masters of Animation Video Series”.

The National Film Board sponsored such independent animators as Norman McLaren and Kai Pindal, who were producing innovative and original techniques and styles in animation in Canada.

During the '60s, Disney’s full-length features were not cost-effective, and the studio faced closures. If it weren’t for its amusement theme parks, bankruptcy was imminent. Walt Disney had to resort to photocopied cels and had a box office hit with “Jungle Book,” the last feature before his death in 1966.

The '60s – '80s became the commercial age of animation, as studios like Hanna-Barbera and affiliate studios dominated Saturday morning line-ups with the use of their limited animation techniques, along with Xerox animation cel use rather than hand-traced ink cels that seemed to slow down production.

When film and video camera and equipment became affordable, it was widely used in music videos, television advertising and independent productions. Hanna-Barbera’s ”The Flintstones” became the first prime-time animated cartoon on network television, comparable to Matt Groening's “The Simpsons” in popularity today.

“The Smurfs” from H-B (Hanna-Barbera) Studios was the first network series to digitally colour their animation using computers, and Disney Studio's “The Lion King” became the first feature cartoon produced without animation cels.

Towards the '80s, other larger studios such as Rough Draft, Nelvana and Don Bluth Studios and independent directors began producing features. 2D traditional animation was thriving, as production work was being produced cheaper and more efficiently overseas.

Rock videos and animated features that boasted using new computer programming techniques sparked new trends in animation. Disney's “Tron” was one of the first features using complex computer technology.

John Lasseter, considered the grand-daddy of computer animation, later formed animation
studio giant “Pixar”, paving the way for computer animators to get involved with 3D software, and the ability to fully render fluid movement in three-dimensional graphics of characters and scenics. A number of new media formats and animation products have evolved through computer technology. The computer has opened the doors for 2D and 3D animators alike for animators to showcase their work in theatres, television, game consoles, and the internet.

Animation has truly become a part of everyday life. New computer software exploits basic animation principles and techniques such as camera moves, transitions and direction in film.

What does the future hold for animation?

With booming technology, we see high-end 3D graphics in video games, cell phone animation, as well as theatre, television and the internet. In the future, animators can explore the possibility of 3D projected holograms, electronic intelligence, robotics, et cetera, as we push the boundaries of tradition, inventing new products, exploring and creating new styles and techniques in animation.

This screening represents “rarely seen animation” coming from established and emerging Canadian artists that use a variety of styles and techniques in both 2D and 3D animation.
There will also be an animation book and art display.

The Factory: Hamilton Media Arts Centre
Factory Works Screening Series/Program Guide

“Exploring Animation”

“Ditty Dot Comma” - Steven Woloshen, 2001 (3 min.)

This perfectly timed short, created with animated shapes drawn directly on the film emulsion, makes good use of jazz giants Oscar Peterson, Gene Krupa, and Buddy Rich. Woloshen provides a delightfully abstract viewing experience.

“Solo” - Martha Newbigging, 2005 (5.15 min.)

“Solo”, not without visual humor, is a 2D traditional and digitally composited animated film about a single girl finding her own dance style at a nightclub.

“Toro Bravo” – Madi Piller, 2007 (3.30 min.)

Using a variety of traditional methods, “Toro Bravo” (translated as “ Brave Bull”), is a beautiful experimental animated short about a bullfight. Animated charcoal drawings, cutouts, sand and photocopies are effectively blended using analogue and digital film techniques.

“Non-Zymase Pentathlon” – Chris Gehman and Roberto Ariganello, 1995 (5.21 min.)

Animated cutouts from the pages of post-war North American magazines and commercial imagery from “Life”, “Macleans”, “National Geographic”, et cetera, are edited with sound effects, music bites, and thought-provoking titles in this zany collage short.

“10th Avatar” – Charuvi Agrawal, 2007 (2 min.)

This 3D computer animated short explores the way that mass media and television are creating a new form of worship. The film refers to Hindu mythology where an avatar is believed to appear, restoring faith in God and the avatar. Cable television seems to be a worthy adversary to the avatar and divine worship.

Curator: Harold Duckett is an animator, cartoonist, caricaturist and teacher with thirty years' experience in the arts.



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