Thursday, November 3, 2011

"Every film is a kind of a dance."

Norman McLaren (1914. - 1987.) was an animator and film director, great explorer who loved experimenting, thus he was a pioneer in many areas such as drawn on film animation, visualizing music, graphical sound and abstract film. 

scenes from "Pas de deux (1968.)"

His film "Pas de deux" is completely hypnotizing. Two ballet dancers become endless reflections of themselves creating almost stroboscopic effect. Pas de deux was created by photographing backlit dancers dressed in white against a black background. McLaren then used an optical printer to expose individual frames up to 11 times which gives the movie surrealistic atmosphere and the traces of movement look like an artist's brush stroke. This was a completely new technique for the time the film was made.

Pas De Deux is only one of Norman McLaren's master pieces. His explorations in the field of visualizing music are completely fascinating and are especially interesting to me cause his work is considered as part of the history of synaesthesia in the arts.
"Synchromy" which was made in 1971, reminds me so much of the earliest days of video games. In it, Norman made the perfect synchronization of sound and music. 

The process of making this film is what makes it so special. Each celluloid film has a sound area which is a narrow strip alongside each frame where an optical soundtrack is placed. This recorded sound is rendered as an image, then read by a sound system synchronized to the film projector and produced as sound again. In Syncrhomy, Norman painted the sound by hand after carefully calculating how the images would be read by a projector, and then he placed those pattern cards on the picture areas of the film so the viewer can see what would normally only be heard.

If you are interested in exploring all of his films, you can find them here

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