Norman McLaren

film 22 of 24

Animated Motion, pt. 5

Film Review by Dean Duncan Jul 10, 2015

Upping the ante: can you animate without movement? Unsurprisingly, yes. This is accomplished through change: of light value, tone, texture, form or colour. We hear about fades, or mixes (dissolves). We’re shown a bunch of mix options, then reminded that all change, even if there’s no motion, needs a tempo (back to those previous five categories). We see how mixes helped McLaren create all of those metamorphic landscapes. He talks about pops, and how one and two frame pops create flicker. Then, briefly, we are shown a range of flicker options. Since there’s no end to the substance of this stuff, and since it all comes back and reconciles, McLaren pauses to address how flickers create optical illusions, bringing us back, for instance, to strobing. Got it? Motion and change, “which both express themselves through tempo, and are modulated by the five categories.” Now he’s Immanuel Kant.

McLaren concludes by stating that “a knowledge, plus intuitive use of these categories, will give the animator mastery over his medium.” All this brings an reinforces another component of abstract art, which is that the art is being reduced to its simplest component parts, the things that you never notice as a lay spectator, or that you can lose track of as a precipitous, aspiring practitioner. Let’s finish these comparisons. Here, near the end, McLaren is echoing Roberto Rossellini’s majestic last stage. Of course! After innovation and revolution, you become a teacher.