Matchstick, the song, is by American Royalty, a new trio out of Los Angeles. Matchstick, the video was painted in water colors and water soluble crayons on 3 foot long, three inches thin strips of paper. The style grew out of paintings I make for a pre-cinema Praxinoscope, which grew from experiments with painting on film. Matchstick was mostly painted frame at a time under a digital camera mounted on a traditional animation stand with a mechanical stage which was used to keep the paper moving. The idea was to paint and draw abstract visuals which could dance along to the psychedelic song by the band . facebook.com/0AmericanRoyalty0 soundcloud.com/americanroyalty american-royalty.com
“Yours” began with a soundie, a film made for projection in a “film jukebox” in 1945.
It was a popular song in its day and, with its sentiment of eternal love, feels poignant in the context of the Second World War and all its separated loves. “Yours” is performed here by the Roberts Brothers and the Bunnell Sisters, who appear to be two sets of twins, and the film’s built-in doubles made it feel right for an experiment I’d been thinking about.
What I did was shoot abstract animation literally through the original film. I used a Master Oxberry, once the gold standard of film animation cameras, now sadly verging on extinction. With this camera you can have two rolls of film running at the same time, “bi-pack” — or locked together — at the point of exposure. I shot through the film twice, first through the original and then through a negative of the original. The result is that all the blacks have been replaced by one layer of animation and all the whites by another. The surprise? How indelible the actual soundie is in the final film. It is now visible as the difference between my two replacements.
I like to think that I added another twin act.
This film and these notes originally appeared in the NYTIMES.COM/OPINION in "The Animated LIfe" by Jeff Scher
his movies are like “fabrics, three dimensional textures, un-missable plots of colors and images in motion.” This also explains her fascination for the Californian filmakers oeuvre, together with the reasons for such a collaboration.
The spectacle of flying insects drawn to lights has been a nocturnal magic show since the day our prehistoric ancestors discovered fire.
I’ve been filming the action on back porches for years. Looking at the footage frame by frame, I discovered that most of these insects seem to beat their wings about three times for every film frame. At 24 frames per second, that makes 72 beats each second, by my primitive cine-science. This meant that in order to draw this flight, I needed to incorporate this flurry of motion into progressive blurs on every frame.
“Fly By Night” was animated by drawing in black charcoal on white sheets of paper, which were then photographed in negative. I like working in charcoal because it’s such a happily tactile medium. Smudging it provided the blur and spectral glow and made me feel connected back to those prehistoric campfires that provided our ancestors with a cooked dinner and a show. These are the same fires that gave them charcoal, one of our very first drawing mediums.
The choreography of the insects is a compilation of the flight patterns I observed, which I then reinterpreted with a measure of poetic license. The film is ultimately about meditating on the wonder of the event.
The music by Shay Lynch captures the magic of these miniature aerial ballets of the dark summer nights.
This film was originally made for my blog The Animated Life" at the New York Times, online.