Vintage 16mm Stop-Motion – A Pleasantly Strange World

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Before digital everything a number of families, and creative sorts, purchased the old 16-or-8mm camera to film those ‘special moments’ of a day in the life. The imaginative kids quickly figured out the magic of the frame and would often take their little action figures and toys and experiment with their own kind of film-making. The above 16mm Kodachrome stop-motion test print for Camel cigarettes is pretty raw – but every person who remembers the joys of 16-or-8mm film will quickly recall that pleasantly strange world that would come alive with the passing of each frame.

If you’re curious to read more about this particular print click here to get the scoop at Cartoon Research.

The Marriage Of Movement And Music And Their First Child Named, Gumbasia

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When Art Clokey was a boy he would spend his summers on his grandfather’s farm in Michigan. He had a good pal who lived on a neighboring farm and, as boys liked to do in those days, Clokey and his pal often played with toy soldiers. Sometimes, when the battles were particularly fierce, they would need more troops. Clokey would raise them up by fashioning them out of a mixture of soil and water known as ‘gumbo’ – clay.

Some years later Art Clokey would create a children’s television icon – a kind of strange little character made of clay named Gumby.

Gumby - he's known to skate on one foot rather than walk.

Gumby – he’s known to skate on one foot rather than walk.

Before Art Clokey created Gumby he was an early claymation pioneer. It was his 1953 experimental claymation short, Gumbasia, that excited 20th Century Fox producer Sam Engel into giving Clokey his big break. ‘Art, that is the most exciting film I have ever seen in my life,’ Engel said. Engel envisioned a children’s television show using the idea of little claymation figures in various storylines. Giving free reign to Clokey he financed the Gumby pilot, introduced it to Tom Sarnoff at NBC Hollywood, and the rest is history.

Art Clokey’s Gumbasia was a fascinating project. Inspired by his mentor in film making, Slavko Vorkapich, Clokey wanted to work with the idea of ‘kinesthetic film principles’ which enabled him to show film forces through moving objects.

The movements exert a force on your nervous system. They pinch on your nervous system through your eye cells. When you organize the images in the movement from cut to cut, it stimulates the autonomic nervous system. It gives you added excitement and it can start a feeling of movement.

Combining the kinesthetic film principles with Vorkapich’s philosophy of film as poetry and music, Clokey created a short film unique for its time. Music wasn’t used just as a cover – it was an intrinsic part of the experience. The transformation of the objects along with their movements blend with the lyric and the pulse of the jazz. It’s a visual sound experience. It’s also the concept for what would become music video. Gumbasia might properly be considered a prototype for music videos into the future.

Salvador Dali – The Dream Designer (Spellbound, 1945)

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Who better to design a dream sequence for a 1945 Hitchcock psycho-thriller than Salvador Dali? Eyes, curtains, scissors, playing cards (some of them blank), a man with no face, a man falling off of a building, a man hiding behind a chimney and dropping a wheel, and wings – psychoanalytic cues all and fab fodder for Dali’s surrealistic vision.

Still From the Dali Dream Sequence - Spellbound, 1945

Still From the Dali Dream Sequence – Spellbound, 1945 (via Unkee E. on flickr)

Below is a video of the scene featuring Gregory Peck as Dr. Anthony Edwardes/John Ballantyne, Ingrid Bergman as Dr. Constance Peterson, and Michael Chekhov as Dr. Brulov. Dr. Peterson and Dr. Brulov are attempting to assist Ballantyne in recovering his lost memory by interpreting a dream that haunts him.

Spellbound is a film that could well be termed an endorsement on the healing virtues of psychoanalysis. While some aspects of the methods seem outdated for today, Hitchcock’s use of this makes for an abosrbing story. If you would like to watch the film in its entirety you can find it on YouTube here.

In Which A Changeling Dinosaur Saves The Day – Rare 1928 Short Animation

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The Land of Wooden Soldiers (1928) Kinex Studios
Distributed by: Kodak Cinegraph
Cartoon Characters: Chip the Wooden Man, Two Dinosaurs, Soldiers.
Directed By John Burton.
Animated By John Burton.
Originally Released c. 1928

h/t Nora Falchero

Evocative, Bold, And Somewhat Intimidating: The Film Guild Cinema, NYC, 1929

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The Film Guild Cinema, 1929

The Film Guild Cinema, 1929

The Film Guild Cinema, Greenwich Village, NYC, by Frederick Kiesler, 1929

Photo: Ruth Bernhard, 1946

(via: kateopolis)

The Strange Adventure Of Duffy The Mascot (Animated Short – 1934)

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A strange story in which a loving dog puppet, Duffy, literally goes through Hell to get an orange to a dying girl.

 

Duffy The Mascot (1934)
“Fétiche” (original title)
Country: France
Production Co: Gelma-Films
Producer/Director/Animator/Writer: Ladislas Starevich

Ladislas Starevich was a true pioneer in stop-motion animation. His style has been hugely influential on many directors such as Tim Burton and Terry Gilliam. Starevich’s attention to detail, social commentary, bizarre visuals, and fantastical plots inspired an entire generation of animators.
The ANIMATORIUM

H/T to Diane Wanek for the inspiration.