Reader’s Letters

ANIMATOR’S ASSOCIATION

David,

Animator’s Newsletter Number 2 is even more thought provoking than the first issue. I enclose my thoughts on an association of animator’s and an animation festival, and a cheque for £2 to cover the cost of copying and posting to David Osborne (see Association for Animators wanted Issue 2) and anyone else who has answered your question, and of sending their letters to me so that we can get it organised, if possible before the next issue of the news­letter. What are your own thoughts on an association? If it comes about it will be solely as a result of your publishing the Newsletter.

I would be very keen to help in any way I can, although living only 30 miles south of Cape Wrath I would not be able to attend committee meetings. Do you have any idea how many people would join the association? What is the newsletter circulation for instance?

I was interested to see that Lew Cooper prefers Elixir to Nightmare, so do I. I used Gilbert & Sullivan because I had had so much trouble finding ideas for Elixir, and I have had the same trouble with my new film, THE CIRCLE AND THE SQUARE. It is now about two thirds done and might be finished by Christmas, mainly thanks to the appalling West Coast weather!
Neil Carstairs
Sutherland

Neil’s suggestions:

THE ANIMATOR’S ASSOCIATION

ANIMA

AIMS: to promote exchange of ideas and techniques between amateur animators.

METHODS:

1. A REGISTER OF MEMBERS, classified geographically to help members form local groups. The register to be published annually and sent to each new member. Lists of new members and changes of address to be sent out with each newsletter. The register could give names and addresses or it could form a “who’s who” of animation.

2. A FILM CRITICISM/ADVICE SERVICE, a list of experienced members prepared to write criticisms of films submitted by post (with stamps to cover return postage). The list would show what gauge of film could be viewed and the types of film made (cel, puppet, etc.)

3. THE NEWSLETTER would continue to be produced independently of ANIMA, at least to start with, so that people only mildly interested in animation are not forced to join the association.

4. SUBSCRIPTIONS TO ANIMA would cover the newsletter, and a small extra sum (say £1 a year) to cover postage and duplicating.

5. A FESTIVAL run by ANIMA, held in the autumn. Not a competition or a social event but an intense enthusi­asts event, preferably all the films submitted would be shown. (Assuming most films last less than 10 minutes at least 50 could be shown in 6 two hour sessions over a weekend). Each member of the audience would be encouraged to write comments, criticisms and questions on technique during a 5 minute break between each film, The filmmaker would receive copies of all these comments and be encouraged to answer any questions in the newsletter. I would envisage the festival running from Saturday lunchtime till Sunday Teatime to give the maximum amount of traveling time. It would be possible to have six sessions in one day (9am – 10pm) but I feel that would be too intense. It would all depend on the number of films entered. A display of drawings and puppets from well known films and Filmcraft goods could be staged during the festival. Also films from the IAC library and a question time.

Reply sent to Neil Carstairs:

Dear Neil,

Thank you for your letter received today. You are the first person to write in answer to the call for an animator’s association. I would like to see the formation of an association for three reasons:
1. It is easier for animators to sustain the necessary enthusiasm to produce good results if the know of others who will appreciate it.

2. Animators are few and far between so an association would put them in touch with other animators.

3. The kind of services offered could only be worked by volunteers because it would be uneconomic for Filracraft to take on. The Animator’s Newsletter is heavily subsidised by Filmcraft due to the comparatively low readership.

400 copies of Animator’s Newsletter issue No. 1 were sent out free of charge. So far 140 people have taken out a subscription.

Starting an association for animators would be a long term commitment which would involve quite a bit of work.

I think it would be best to keep the Animator’s Newsletter separate from ANIMA and have a section for the association distributed with the newsletter going only to members. Articles of more general interest, about ANIMA activities, can be printed in the main newsletter in the usual way.

You also mention subscriptions. This would of course have to be kept separate from Filmcraft and it would be necessary to open a bank account in the name of the association and appoint a treasurer.

David Jefferson. Editor.

Dear David,

Thank you for sending to me details of Neil Carstair’s ideas for an animators association. I was very impressed with all his suggestions and I certainly believe these ideas could be the basis of an association.

I think a certain percentage of the organising could be done locally and that an association would help to put people in touch with each other. The association also ought to encourage juniors. You only have to watch the “Young Filmmakers Competition” on TV to realise there are some fine young animators out there who need encouragement to keep going.

At the present time I am a college student with exams at the end of this academic year and so I haven’t got much spare time, but I am keen to see amateur animators get organised. I would be willing there­fore to help run the association in some way. Being a student I have plenty of free time in the summer and I would be most willing to use this time to help run an Animators Association and get it off the ground. Even if the association doesn’t take off the festival should. It sounds an ideal opportunity for animators to get together.

I agree with David Jefferson the Animator’s Newsletter should be kept separate and not become an association newsletter, but perhaps the animators association could help subsidise it and take the burden off Filmcraft.

David Osborne
Exeter, Devon

Dear David,

Thank you for the info about ANIMA. There are many good points about the proposal, but it will take a hard core of enthusiasts who are willing to run it. Whilst I would be happy to assist, I don’t see myself able to take on a major role. In effect we’ll be forming another club. I’m a member of a fairly active and large cine club – Sothern Sound and Cine at Chichester. This club works because it has a number of organisers who run it. They don’t seem to make many films, but they are just as essential to the club’s success as its best filmmakers.

The idea of a register of animators is good. It would enable those animators who wish to collaborate on a project to get together on a local basis.

I’m somewhat divided on the criticism/advice service. Advice yes, information on techniques, short cuts and tips is always useful. I’m very critical of criticism. Over the years I have gathered a lot of criticism on my films, and mostly it cancels itself out. Apart from technical faults, criticism amounts to opinion. It has been truly said that critics should note – there are as many opinions as there are people. If a film was sent to me for criticism whether I thought it wonderful or pathetic would be meaningless, because it would only be my opinion. I really think, aside from technical help, each film-maker has to decide whether a film is worthwhile or not, and get on with it.

A newsletter produced independently from your own, does seem pointless. I would be happy to read it, and to contribute to it, but I don’t see the point in having it separated from your newsletter.
I like the idea of a non-competitive festival. For much the same reasons as I have given for criticism, I find the idea of competitions stupid. However, although I count myself an enthusiast, the prospect of sitting through 50 films more or less non-stop, does not thrill me. If we restrict the films to new work, possibly we will not get that many films. This would be to the good. I find the idea of a festival with fewer films, plus the chance to chin-wag with other animators, and see any equipment from Filmcraft, an extremely attractive proposition.

Lew Cooper
Portsmouth, Hants.

Dear David,

I have been reading with interest the proposals for ANINA. I am all in favor of the idea and would support it all the way in any capacity, in fact I think it is the greatest idea since “sliced bread”.

Although unlike Neil Carstairs I am very well served for cine clubs in my area (there are two in Leicester alone) I find that there is not a great deal of interest in animation at least in the club I belong to and so in spite of my membership I am still very much a ‘lone wolf’.

I have only one observation about the proposals as they stand and that concerns the Festival. I feel that it will require a great deal of thought to get a suitable venue for staging it so as not to exclude too many people because of the high cost of travel.

Tony Salmon
Leicester

Dear David,

I welcome the idea of ANIMA though it will be of little value to me as my cartoons, though they take up most of my spare time, are just for my family, nothing much to interest others. While I would welcome a local who’s who of others so involved – perhaps I could get some one to paint my cels.

A film criticism/advice service would be good but after one’s spent months making a film I should hate to lose it and would be reluctant to post it once it is safely back from processing.

The newsletter is a must as long as it wasn’t separate from Animator’s Newsletter, which would risk a drain on material, for there are not enough of us about to warrant two newsletters. The festival – good for those who live near them but I often find they are so far away and wonder if they would be well attended for a whole weekend when there are so few of us ‘nuts’.
Thank you for your interest in our hobby, which I know isn’t just because you sell us the gear.

Les Panyard
Grimsby, S. Humber

Dear David,

I think that an animators association would be the next logical step to your production of a news­letter. I did wonder myself if the newsletter would really be a viable commercial concern. As I suspected it is not entirely so. We do need the voluntary spirit to man the operation I can see.

I am sorry to say that no one has written to me about my group project (Issue No. 2). It could be that animators are independent people at heart that do not want to surrender their independence to the necessary compromise of group work.

It also can come down to the fear that anything you could say about your animation in the planning stage, will not be borne out in the final image, so you prefer to say nothing about it, for self, and cartoon, preservation so that your film cannot be judged a failure by it’s own conceptual standards.

I would hope that in a close knit association people would come out of their shells a little so as we could all share their abilities.

I have as yet, would you believe, never seen another amateur cartoon apart from those shown on television. This is partly because I do not own a sound projector, only an Agfa family. I don’t have the money, it is as simple as that, otherwise I would probably hire films from the IAC library. So I would be interested in seeing other people’s work.

Morris Lakin
Coventry

EDITOR: We are sending out membership application forms with this Newsletter. We want to keep the subscription as low as possible but this will depend on how many join. We are asking for 4 x 15½ pence stamps as a registration fee with a fair subscription to be decided later.

Dear Editor,

As a fairly recent newcomer to film making I have found that producing, at present, a sci-fi film using rubber models has given me more headaches than I care for.

Building dioramas with paper mache and other materials is proving arduously time consuming with minor disasters occurring regularly; such as parts of a temple sagging and collapsing.

Using liquid latex for the characters has also proven fateful and many plaster moulds have ended up in the rubbish bin.

So for a while I’m going to shelve my latest (disaster) epoch and go into cel animation. For years my main hobby was drawing, which I became quite good at. So it’s out with pencil and paper and start practicing.

Though it will be the beginning of the New Year before I start any serious animation I will be needing lots of help to get to know the pros and cons of the subject. Which is where your Animator’s newsletter will come in handy, with it’s helpful hints and suggestions from readers with experience in this field.

Having received issue one of the news1etter I am pleased to see that at last someone has a magazine, the format of which is rarely seen in a U.K. publication.

I am enclosing a postal order for further copies which I hope will continue to produce this first class format.

Mr. R. Proudlock.
Newcastle Upon Tyne.

Dear Sir,

Is it possible to send me a list of shops in London where I could find a Super 8 camera fit for Animation.

R. F. Moukorzel.
Bath, Somerset.

EDITOR: The main thing that makes Super 8 cameras suitable for animation is a single frame release. It is also useful to be able to set the exposure manually or lock the meter on. Other than this there are no cameras that are produced specifically for animation. Not many cameras focus down close enough for animation but it is easy enough to add a close up lens. The so called macro setting found on many cameras is not a lot of use as it stops the zoom lens working. I should think that most shops dealing in cine cameras would be able to sell you one that would do the job. I can’t recommend any particular London shops from experience as I have bought my cameras locally. Two makes of camera that are worth looking at are Elmo and Canon. They both have good lenses and are reliable.

Dear Sir,

I find Animator’s Newsletter an interesting magazine to read and as you are interested in hearing from writers who could contribute to the magazine I thought I would make a suggestion.

I wondered if Animator’s News­letter could hold competitions for writing poetry about animated films or short stories about the lives of animators. I believe such competitions would be a great creative outlet for talented would-be film makers who haven’t yet mastered the technical side of animation.

Or maybe a drawing competition could help those who can draw cartoons but are unable to write their scripts.

In fact such non-film competitions could be a good way of helping artists get in touch with writers and vice-versa.

Talking about competitions I was interested to read Neil Carstairs list of overseas competitions, it is reassuring to know that if we miss the Movie Maker Ten Best closing date there is still hope.
Ian Ellis.
Douglas, Isle of Man.

EDITOR: We are happy to receive articles on any animation related topic. They don’t have to be by expert animators. The main ingredient should be enthusiasm for the hobby of animating. I would be particularly interested in simple ideas for films that beginners could try.


We are running an animation drawing competition in this issue. If you have any ideas for improving the Newsletter please let us know.

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