May I congratulate you on the quality of the first issue of your Animator’s Newsletter. I have a feeling that we amateurs may soon be relying heavily on enterprising people like yourself to produce newsletters and the like, as even ‘Movie Maker’ magazine must be finding it increasingly difficult to keep going with the recession in the movie-making market and consequent contraction in advertising. I notice in the current issue that even Burlington Cameras are missing, and they have been a regular feature for a long time.
By the way, your correspondent Syd Proudlock might like to know that there is one other magazine available and that is ‘Amateur Film Maker’, which is issued bi-monthly to all members of the I.A.C. and is now so good that many think it alone is worth the membership subscription.
All your contributors have written interesting articles. Ken Clark’s nostalgic reminiscences of the Grasshoppers, to those of us old enough to remember them! I have copies of TWO’S COMPANY and SHORT SPELL which were sold through Adventure Films. Having seen THE DEVIL WENT DOWN TO GEORGIA and ‘NIGHTMARE’, it was equally interesting to read the background to these films. Tony Salmon and I are fellow members of the Central & East Midlands Region of the IAC (of which, incidentally, I was hon. treasurer for twelve years until I gave up this year to give the younger ones a chance!)
I’m afraid I have not yet got down to this animation business. I bought a starter kit and Kodak’s ‘The World of Animation’ which is an excellent book, last year when I retired and became a pensioner, thinking I would at last have time to spare, but so far it has not worked out that way. I really must start neglecting the gardening, the decorating and the washing up, and see what I can do.
EDITOR: Thank you to everyone who sent in letters saying how much they liked the first issue.
ASSOCIATION FOR ANIMATORS WANTED
I have been wondering for quite awhile whether any association or organisation exists for animators. If not perhaps something could be set through the Animator’s Newsletter. It would also be nice to see some form of competition organised through the newsletter which would only be open to animated films, perhaps on an annual or bi-annual basis. I think this would bring animators together and the films would not get treated as some form of novelty as they do in some other competitions open to all types of film.
EDITOR: Is anyone else interested in an association for animators? If so what kind of things would you like it to do for you? We would be happy to run a competition if there was enough interest from other animators.
GROUP PROJECT WANTED
An interesting idea was that of the Grasshopper group, the idea of isolated amateurs getting together by post. I wonder why the group broke up?
Working in a group means that you have to communicate your ideas about the mechanics of what you are doing to the best of your abilities, and you have to match your abilities to your colleagues; which in itself takes artistic skill. You all have to be sure of your part, so it must take cohesion which may well be brought about by clarity of ideas. It also means that many hands make light work, so you may undertake longer and more complex subjects.
I tend to be a bit of a lone wolf myself, and can be a bit self opinionated on creative matters (but then I have met few artists who did not tend that way), but even so I would like to try working in a. group for the experience alone. Would -anyone interested in undertaking a group project care to write in. I have no real preconceived idea of what that project would be — that would be the first thing to discuss I should imagine, what to do; how to develop a project which would hold all the groups attention.
I have no preconceived idea on how the group would be organised either, just if you are interested would you like to write to me.
HOME CINEMA PRESERVATION SOCIETY
Because of the mushroom growth of video, the home movie hobby, and in particular the film collecting hobby, is in danger of being wiped out.
I would like to hear from anyone, anywhere, who is interested in preserving the true cinema experience in the home, with a view to forming a non-profit-making society whose object would be to keep the experience alive and to make worthwhile films available to collector on substandard gauges.
Tunbridge Wells, Kent.
SYNC START WITH A CASSETTE RECORDER
I notice in your track reading article (Issue No. 1) you say how difficult it is to read music, Which confirms my own experience.
My method of synchronisation is very similar to the ‘make do’ one described. I use an ordinary cassette recorder and get a sync start using the following method; First run the cassette until the key point on the soundtrack and pause it, then turn the cassette over and run the film, releasing the pause when the ‘X’ appears, and pausing again when the visuals reach the key point. Turn the cassette over again, and the tape is at the same position as if you had a blip on the tape. This method is useful when you want a particular section of music to finish at the end of a scene.
HOW TO BECOME AN ANIMATOR
I have been making a film using the line animation technique on registered sheets of animation paper. The drawing of the cartoons was very time consuming and it made me realise the amount of work professional cartoons require.
I filmed the 1,000 drawings on my Filmcraft rostrum and was quite happy with the final results. The filming was also very hard, I worked into the night to got it finished and felt very tired the next day. But I try never to give up because I really like animation films.
A few months ago I went to a college where they teach animation. I took some film to show the teacher and he was most helpful. He gave me some good advice on how to become an animator. He said-to forget about cels, paint and coloured backgrounds. Just animate with pencil on paper and learn to draw. You must build up a lot of work in the form of pencil tests and keep learning as you progress.
I put one of my films in the Movie Maker Ten Best competition and it got a three star which is quite good for a first attempt, but the film contained cut-outs which I now dislike, since I have been doing line animation. I’m lucky because I can draw so I want to use my talent in the method that displays it best.
I have a lot of work ahead of me. t must do a lot of pencil tests and, really learn to animate.
WHY ANIMATE TO A ‘SONG’?
How nice it is to have a mag devoted to those bitten by the animation bug. I get the impression that most of my film-making pals, think I’m a little barmy making movies one frame at a time, after all, it’s hard enough at normal speed.
But I think animation has everything going for it for the amateur, in many ways it’s easier than live action. I get around to most of the festivals and competitions -and it seems that the animation side of our hobby is in great shape. In many ways it’s a pity that we have to put up with this daft system of having to enter competitions to get our work shown. I’ve especially enjoyed ELIXIR, NIGHTMARE, and THE DEVIL WENT DOWN TO GEORGIA.
I’ve got one tiny, perhaps insignificant carp to make. So much of the best work I’ve seen lately has been made to a song. I think you can be more imaginative when not ‘illustrating’ the words of a song. This is why I liked ELIXIR more than NIGHTMARE.
Low Cooper. Portsmouth.
Originally printed in Animator’s newsletter Issue 2 (Autumn 1982)