Coming Events in Los Angeles: AniMazing Spotlight and A Fischinger Celebration

AniMazing Spotlight 2010 logo, Juggler designed by Lou Romano

Two forthcoming animation events in Los Angeles caught my eye. The first  is the 2nd AniMazing Spotlight Animated Shorts Festival, which will be held Saturday and Sunday, September 4-5, at Woodbury University, Burbank, under the able direction of Tee Bosustow. (Tee is the son of UPA co-founder Stephen Bosustow; the festival website also hosts the all-important UPA Legacy Project website; I should also note that I am friends with Tee’s brother Nick.)

In addition to screening of films in competition, there is Tom Sito speaking on  “Animation & Politics: the Blacklist, the Mafia and beyond,”  a presentation by the UCLA Film Archive of the work of computer animation pioneer Robert Abel,  Teddy Newton giving a behind-the-scenes look at Pixar’s Day & Night, “The Legendary Fred Crippen” (UPA & Roger Ramjet to Sesame Street), “More Women than Ever” presented by Women in Animation, etc., etc.

Elfriede Fischinger 1986 The Hague
Film Historian and Oskar Fischinger biographer William Moritz, Elfriede Fischinger and animation filmmaker and teacher Michael Scroggins, c.1986, in The Hague. Source: Center for Visual Music.

On September 23rd, at 7:00 p.m., the Center for Visual Music, in Los Angeles, will be putting on “A Fischinger Celebration—Benefit Art Exhibition and Reception,  Celebrating Elfriede Fischinger on her 100th Birthday.” Though not as well-known as her husband Oskar, the pioneer abstract animation filmmaker, Elfriede Fischinger was an important figure in animation not only for her tireless efforts to promote her husband’s films, but also for her support of filmmakers and a number of animation-related organizations. Thus, when the Society for Animation Studies held its first conference at UCLA in 1989, it was not a surprise that Elfriede showed up.  I got to know Elfriede in the last decade of her life and always found her an inspiration. In a very real way, her home was a salon for animators and filmmakers, and she is well-deserving of this tribute.

The Center notes,

The evening features an Exhibition of selected photographs, artifacts and Paintings by Oskar Fischinger, a Wine Reception, and a Screening of Home Movies and Videos of Elfriede. Highlights include Oskar’s first Stereo Painting (1949), The Lumigraph film (1970) made by Elfriede, and unshot animation drawings by Oskar. Proceeds from the evening, which includes a silent auction, will benefit the Fischinger preservation, conservation and digitization work being done by Center for Visual Music, a 501(c) 3 nonprofit Los Angeles archive.

The Soloist’s Synesthesia Sequence

Jamie Foxx and Robert Downey Jr. in The Soloist

I went to see Joe Wright’s The Soloist mainly because it was based on the book by Los Angeles Times columnist Steve Lopez; I haven’t read the book, but I do recall reading his initial column about Nathaniel Ayers, the homeless cellist which the film is about. (Lopez’s  columns were one of the things I missed most after I left Los Angeles in late 2003.) Though I think the film suffers from a sometimes rather self-conscious technique, in the end it has more pluses than minuses; and one of the surprising and unexpected  pluses is an abstract sequence depicting  Ayers’ synesthesia when he listens (pictured above) to the opening movement of Beethoven’s Symphony No. 3.  Here are three images from the sequence:

The Soloist: Synesthesia Sequence

The Soloist: Synesthesia Sequence

The Soloist: Synesthesia SequenceThe sequence was the work of Double Negative, the London-based special effects house which also worked on Wright’s Atonement. Although the film’s credits give Andy Hague sole credit, Double Negative’s website notes:

[Steve Wright] was inspired by the abstract films of the 1970’s, in particular the work of Stan Brakhage and Len Lye when it came to the Synesthesia sequence, where musical genius, Ayers, visualises music as colour.

Double Negative’s VFX Supervisor, John Moffatt, supported by VFX Producer, Emma Larsson and Executive Producer, Melissa Taylor, conceptualised a simple [approach] using coloured lights, crystals and glass. Elements were shot in a dark tent on a parking lot and Moffatt worked closely with VFX film editor Andy Hague, to create a sequence that seemed to be moving and changing colour with the music.