Text and Context: Finding animation inspiration

As part of my research for Text and Context I have been considering different animation techniques from the 60s to include in my own rendition. Below is ‘Two Faces’ (1968) by Alison De Vere, a four minute animation of painted faces going through a series of emotions. It is a simple animation but has impact and the viewer can follow the story. I enjoy the ink technique and think I could use this in my own work.

If you can read a face like a book, then here it is a book of poetry. Loose brushstrokes sketch a series of portraits of two faces, one male and one female, whilst the verse on the soundtrack tells the tale of both one and a thousand relationships. Alison de Vere was responsible for both the text and images, and the film was released in the same year she worked as a designer on the animated Beatles feature, Yellow Submarine (1968).

Next is a cut and paste collaged animation of ‘Little Tom Thumb’ by Joy Batchelor. This animation is more suited to children but it has a great colour palette and consistently good character design.

It’s probably not an answer to child poverty, but the Thumb family resolve all their money worries by abandoning their children in the woods – twice. There are lots of versions of Tom Thumb tales, but this one follows the 17th century Charles Perrault tale of Le Petit Poucet. Ogres, staggeringly bad parenting, and seven-league-boots are all beautifully brought to life through cut-out animation, based on designs by Swedish illustrator Sunniva Kellquist.

Finally, ‘Transformer’ by Charlie Jenkins is a short promo for the Yellow Submarine, this animation is very simple only being two minutes long however it solidifies elements of the psychedelic scene in the absurdity and colours. Its a slow burner starting small and getting bigger and better.

After the Yellow Submarine came the psychedelic train… This short animated delight, also known as “Cambridge Steam Engine”, was commissioned for the 1968 Cambridge Animation Festival, with the British cartoon industry in a prominent (if not exactly lucrative) place following The Beatles animated feature film.

German designer Heinz Edelmann’s work is instantly recognisable in both films. But they were also both reliant on the animation wizardry of Charlie Jenkins and the artwork of Alison De Vere. Their collaborative Trickfilm studio was sadly short-lived.

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