From the early 1970’s into the 80’s, Robert Abel and Associates were pioneers in the use of computer graphics in TV commercials. His style was clearly influenced by Peter Max, Yellow Submarine, Milton Glaser, Stan Vanderbeek, Fillmore poster art and psychedelic culture in general. In addition to commercials, Abel did special effects work for films like Tron, The Andromeda Strain and Star Trek.
Abel’s style was nicknamed ‘photo-fusion,’ the combining of still photography with video. In his 1975 7-Up commercials, Abel used back-light techniques called ‘candy-apple neon,’ a highly stylized type of animation that created a day-glo effect. In 1982, Abel used ‘candy-apple neon’ to create the look of Tron.
Here’s a selection of Abel’s trippy commercials. The 7-Up ads are particularly lysergic. In addition to the commercials, I’ve included demo-reels and a short documentary on Abel.
Pop culture keeps compressing more and more of itself into smaller and smaller bits of itself. The glittering Simpson video mosaic featured below makes avant-garde video pioneer Nam June Paik’s 1995 “Electronic Superhighway” installation (above) feel like a slow trip down the scenic back roads of central Kansas.
Life seems to have become that flickering thing at the periphery of our vision. Is this what “I saw my life flashing before my eyes” looks like?
Top to bottom: each row shows a season (from season 1 to season 10)
Left to right: each column shows an episode (from episode 1 to episode 13)
A total of 130 episodes is displayed, framerate is 25fps, thumbnails have been captured at 80x60px
And to think it all started with Hollywood Squares.
“Once upon a time…or maybe twice…there was an unearthly paradise called Pepperland…”
The Beatles’ classic 1968 animated feature film, Yellow Submarine, has been restored in 4K digital resolution for the first time by Paul Rutan Jr. and his team at Triage Motion Picture Services. No automated software was used in the clean-up of the film’s restored photochemical elements. This was a job painstakingly done by hand, a single frame at a time. The absolutely stunning Yellow Submarine restoration premiered last weekend at the SXSW festival and will be coming on Blu-Ray DVD at the end of May with a new 5.1 multi-channel audio soundtrack. Seeing the film unspool on the big screen of Austin’s historic Paramount Theatre was like watching a series of moving stained glass windows.
Directed by George Dunning, and written by Lee Minoff, Al Brodax, Jack Mendelsohn and future best-selling Love Story novelist Erich Segal, Yellow Submarine, based upon the song by John Lennon and Paul McCartney, is a basically incomprehensible series of musical vignettes, groan-worthy puns and lysergically-inspired kaleidoscopic eye-candy that sees John, Paul, George and Ringo saving the world from the evil Blue Meanies.
When Yellow Submarine originally premiered in 1968, the film was regarded as an artistic marvel. With its innovative animation techniques, it represented the most technologically advanced animation work since Disney’s masterpiece, Fantasia. Inspired by the Pop Art of Andy Warhol, Peter Max and Peter Blake, art director Heinz Edelmann’s work on Yellow Submarine is now considered among the classics of animated cinema. Yellow Submarine also showcases the creative work of animation directors Robert Balser and Jack Stokes along with a team of the best animators and technical artists that money could hire. The ground-breaking animation styles included 3-D sequences and the highly detailed “rotoscoping” (tracing film frame by frame) of the celebrated “Eleanor Rigby” sequence. The production process took nearly two years and employed 40 animators and 140 technical artists.
I must say, though, as happy as I was to be one of the first people to see the restored Yellow Submarine, I couldn’t help be to think that—with all of its merits—the film is just a little bit boring. If you responded negatively to the news of the (now shelved) Yellow Submarine 3-D remake, consider that not only did the Fab Four have precious little to do with the actual making of the original film (it’s not even their own voices) but that today’s kids—your kids—won’t have the patience to sit through it. Nor will they even understand what’s being said onscreen. Yellow Submarine, I hate to say it, was ripe for a remake. Sacrilege, I know, but it’s not like I’m suggesting that they remake A Hard Day’s Night or anything!
Below, a decidedly low res version of Yellow Submarine in its entirety. This isn’t really the way to watch it, of course…
Last Saturday saw the passing of the legendary French comic book artist Jean Giraud, better known as Moebius. A simply stunning artist, apart from being huge in the world of comics, Moebius’ influence extended to the spheres of science fiction, record sleeves, animation and films. He drew storyboards for both Alien and Tron, created character and set designs for Jodorowsky’s aborted Dune project (among numerous collaborations with the director), and unsuccessfully sued Luc Besson for what he claimed was The Fifth Element‘s infringement of his own work with Jodorowsky on The Incal.
If there is any illustrator working in comics today worthy of inheriting Moebius’ mantle, it’s Scottish artist Frank Quitely (All Star Superman, Batman and Robin, We3, The Authoirty.) Quitely cites Moebius as one of his favourite artists, and his influence in clear in both the crisp line work and the command of form. I asked Frank to share a few words celebrating the work of this great artist and to choose some of his favourite Moebius illustrations:
“Moebius was an inspired artist, whose life’s works have inspired others, artist and non-artists alike. He was uncommonly good at drawing, and he used this skill to share his internal world with others.”
“Everything that makes his designs, comic covers, illustrations and individual drawings and paintings beautiful, striking, well composed and effectively realized, is also employed in his strip-work. The ability to make not just a collection of wonderful images, but to make those images work together in sequence, is a whole other art-form in itself, and Moebius excelled as much in the fluidity of his storytelling as he did in the brilliance of his linework.
There’s real beauty in his work. It’s quite a rare thing for an artist to be able to translate so much of the scale and grandeur and detail of their own imaginings into simple, elegant lines that can be so easily shared with others. There’s an underlying essence that’s apparent to varying degrees in everything that he drew, supporting the assertion that what he drew was coming from his very core.”
“His sheer mastery of his art (and the craft of that art) has really enriched the lives of countless people around the world and across the years, and that same body of work that he’s left behind will continue enriching lives forever.”
You can see some of Frank Quitely’s own art here, and Moebius’ official site (in French) is here. The book The Art Of Moebius also come highly recommended.
The superb opening credits to director and author Fernando Arrabal’s 1971 masterpiece, Viva la Muerte (Long live death). The awesome song is called “Ekkoleg,” written and produced by Grethe Agatz .
Arrabal was a part of the Panic Movement in the 1960s. which also include El Topo and Holy Mountain director, Alejandro Jodorowsky. The animation was done by Roland Topor, another member of the Panic Movement.
Thank you Chris Campion of Berlin, Germany! Via Easydreamer blog.
If, like me, you were raised on a strict diet of American and Japanese cartoons as a child of the 80s, then you are in for a treat with Space Stallions, which comes across as THE best kids show that never existed. And that’s just on the strength of the intro sequence.
An homage to likes of Ulysses 31, ThunderCats and Bravestarr, Space Stallions was created by The Animation Workshop, and what a great job they did too. We’re particularly tickled by the sword-cum-keytar, and the convoluted plot dynamics that would only make sense to a sugar-rushing 8-year-old:
The world’s first computer generated pop promo? Possibly. “Camoulflage” was a single released by the late Chris Sievey (a.k.a Frank Sidebottom) in 1983, on his Random Records label. Sievey had started programing on his Sinclair ZX81 Home Computer, and included on the B-side of his single, the data (in audio format) for 3 programs to run on the Sinclair ZX81. All of the programs were written by Sievey himself, but most intrestingly, one of the programs was an animated video for the song “Camouflage”. Now, more than thirty years later, here is “the first ever real-time home computer generated pop video.”
For more details on the making of the promo, check soundhog09 notes here.
The Pink Panther passes through the bardo planes on his spirit quest to find the true panther within…the panther of emptiness, devoid of color, clear as a drop of water on a mirror: the essence of panther.