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Medium 9780861966899

Chapter 21 Daniel Sánchaz Salas, Spanish lecturers and their relations with the national

Richard Abel John Libbey Publishing ePub

This essay addresses the question of how the concept of the national provides a context for the work of the Spanish lecturer in early cinema. As is well known, previous studies have always stressed that the film lecturer was responsible for mediating between the screen and viewers, for whom, at least in the beginning, moving pictures were something strange.1 Also we should not forget that he was dealing with a specific public, determined not only by the period of time, but also by the location. Generally, histories of early cinema have analysed film lecturing from a local perspective. In the case of itinerant exhibitors, however, the lecturer often was not part of the group of people accompanying the film show, but rather a different person at each venue, chosen from among the inhabitants of the various locales in which the film show was presented. This recurring circumstance increased the likelihood that the lecturer, in mediating the show, tended to make references to the local context he shared with the audience.

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Medium 9780861966820

John Winds Up TVC’s Animation Studio

Marie Beardmore John Libbey Publishing ePub

 

The Bear was to be TVC studio’s last produced film; John had thought several years earlier that it was time to wind up TVC’s production facility and had mulled over all the ramifications in Bali. The studio was 40 years old and he was getting on into his 70s and wanted a new direction. He made the final decision to wind things down at Mipcom, after he had presented a storyboard for his next planned film, Oi Get Off Our Train, to Colin Rose, then with the BBC. Colin had invited him for a very expensive lunch at Eden Rock – Hotel du Cap. John remembers pulling up at this fabulous hotel in his hired little Fiat Punto, and still recalls the diffident look on the valet’s face as he went to park it – it seemed everyone else had a Rolls Royce or something suitably flashy. The two men met up and spent an hour going through the storyboard, and then they walked down the pretty gravel path, where all the film stars go, to the restaurant hanging over the rocks to the millionaires yachts below and had lunch, which was delicious, and far from pretentious.

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Medium 9781864620009

Clay animation comes out of the inkwell

Edited by Jayne Pilling John Libbey Publishing ePub

 

Clay animated films were produced in the United States as early as 1908 when Edison Manufacturing released a trick film entitled The Sculptor’s Welsh Rarebit Dream. In 1916, clay animation became something of a fad, as an East Coast artist named Helena Smith Dayton and a West Coast animator named Willie Hopkins produced clay animated films on a wide range of subjects. Hopkins in particular was quite prolific, producing over 50 clay animated segments for the weekly Universal Screen Magazine. But by the 1920s, cartoon animation using either cels or the slash system was firmly established as the dominant mode of animation production. Increasingly, three-dimensional forms such as clay were driven into relative obscurity as the cel method became preferred for studio cartoon production.

Nevertheless, in 1921, clay animation appeared in a film called Modeling, an Out of the Inkwell film from the newly formed Fleischer Brothers studio. Modeling is one of the few known shorts using clay that was released during the 1920s. Modeling included animated clay in eight shots, a novel integration of the technique into an existing cartoon series and one of the rare uses of clay animation in a theatrical short from the 1920s. A closer examination of this Fleischer film is thus significant for two reasons. First, it illustrates how the clay technique ‘fits’ in the Fleischers’ Inkwell series. Second, it reveals a number of traits of the Inkwell format itself. In particular, Modeling shows how the studio maintained an element of novelty in the series by integrating different animation techniques to visualise Ko-Ko the Clown’s fight for corporeal existence, the unvarying central conflict of the series. This broader look at the Inkwell format will show that it embraced a duality of conformity and surprise, of static format and novel technique, of conventional cartoon action set in cartoon space and unconventional animation set in live action studio space. Indeed, even the central star of the series created humour by incorporating within his established ‘star’ persona the regular comic routines of a clown and an antagonistic tendency to leave his cartoon world, disrupting the conventions of film narrative and film space. These dualities became central to the audience’s enjoyment. On the one hand, viewers are comfortable with familiar characters in a familiar format, while on the other, they came to expect from the Fleischer studio the innovative use of animation techniques to visualise Ko-Ko’s on-going subversion of filmic conventions.1 Before turning to a specific examination of Fleischers’ films, an overview of the changes occurring in the emerging animation industry will show what broader impact the slash and cel techniques was having on three-dimensional forms of animation like clay.

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Medium 9780861967254

Chapter 7

Tony Grey John Libbey Publishing ePub

In the Armenian foothills to the north, another weird ceremony is about to take place. The Parthian monarch has secured a truce with King Artavasdes of Armenia and is celebrating the wedding of his son to the sister of his new ally. It’s being held in the well apportioned but not opulent Armenian palace. He’s pleased that the first part of his strategy is working. No need for battle, Artavasdes was content with an alliance. Now there’re two armies to deal with Surena, weakened as he’s sure to be after the Romans have finished with him. Things are going well; he’s got reason to celebrate, to drink with confidence alongside his new found friends.

As the bonhomie of the sumptuous feast is filling the grand hall to the ceiling, brute-faced Sillaces appears at the large bronze door and looks around for the Parthian King. A hush quells the partying mood as the big man strides through the tables to Orodes who is sitting next to his host. Standing several paces away, he bows low, holding something wrapped in cloth under his arm. Murmurings begin among the guests.

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Medium 9780861966967

Chapter 6 The Aesthetic Idealist as Efficiency Engineer: Hugo Münsterberg’s Theories of Perception, Psychotechnics and Cinema

Klaus Kreimeier John Libbey Publishing ePub

Hugo Münsterberg’s book The Photoplay (1915/16) is justly regarded as the first major film theory by an academic. On first reading, one is struck by two interwoven, but contradictory tendencies. On the one hand, we encounter an advanced, modern understanding of the psychology of perception and film viewing, but on the other hand, we find a rather traditional concept of art, drawing upon ideas of nineteenth century idealist aesthetics. This inherent contradiction is heightened by the fact that as a psychologist Münsterberg not only worked in the field of perception, but was also one of the founders of applied psychology, specifically of so-called Psychotechnik (‘psychotechnics’). He was full of optimism about the logic of the mechanised modern world and wanted to provide psychological services for the capitalist demands of his time. This background should be kept in mind when reading The Photoplay. Hence, in the following analysis, I will look into these three characteristic features – psychology of perception, psychotechnics and idealist aesthetics – of Münsterberg’s theory and their interrelations, in order to explore the basis for his understanding of contemporary media change and perception. I will argue that his rather conservative stance regarding aesthetics in the specific combination with the two other aspects was not merely reactionary. In the cultural upheaval around 1900, where continuity and discontinuity reigned simultaneously, he was a Versöhnungsgestalt (‘a figure of reconciliation’), who emphasised continuity.1

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