“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 The result is that all the blacks have been replaced by one layer of animation and all the whites by another.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
Fall's later sunrises bring longer shadows to the morning rush hour. On any particularly sunny morning, the shadows of people in the city seem to constitute a fleeting parallel universe at our feet.
This shadow world reduces our every movement to a two dimensional silhouette, a kind of fugitive motion graphic. I wanted to explore inverting the shadow world and the "real" world with an extremely
simple trick: holding the camera upside down.
My title comes from 446 BC via the Greek poet Pindar: A human is a dream of a shadow. The shadow is by nature a fleeting event and a perfect visual metaphor for life itself. These shadows of daily life come and go with dramatic urgency only to vanish before your eyes when a cloud blocks the sun.
Shadows are also a great unifier. There is no ethnicity, just humans, going about their business. The shadows also suggest a certain timelessness. Was this film shot in 2009 or 1949? The world of shadows is a kind of link to other times and all the shadows of man before us, flickering past with drama and vigor before vanishing forever without a trace.
This film was shot with a pocket sized digital still camera in the movie mode. I simply followed various people walking toward the sun around the city. No one seemed to notice my filming, I was just another person squinting at a digital screen drifting along in the flow of the crowds. No shots are staged, although I was tempted at first. The city however offered an incredible variety of human activity and so I did no planting, only harvesting the endless bounty of city streets.
Shay Lynch's music beautifully underscores the hypnotic pleasure of losing yourself in the shadow world.
Made and wrote this for my times blog. - Jeff Scher
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