Monday, August 28, 2006

Goin' mobile

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Calder's Circus

Alexander Calder... his inventions hang in art museums and babies' cribs all around the world. But before he created the Mobile, he had his own circus. He's apparently always been fascinated with automatons, something closely related to our fascination for puppets and objects that seem to move of their own accord. The link above will take you to a YouTube page with all 4 segments of a documentary about his automated circus. Incredibly clever stuff! And the circus connection puts it in close proximity to films by early stopmotion pioneers like Trnka.

To bring this up to date, here's a more recent blast of automania: Theo Jansen's walking kinetic sculptures. Many thanks to Shelley Noble for digging all this great stuff up from the morass of the web and tipping me off to it.

Movin' movin' movin' yeah......

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

The wonderful web!

From time to time I hear from people concerning my website at and things I've posted there (often without permission... naughty naughty!). Earlier this year that's how I met Scott Radke and Mario Caprino, and suddenly I've had another bout of contacts. The first was with a fellow named Ben the Historian (AKA Off The Shelf Productions), which I dedicated my last entry to... he graciously informed me of the identity of the Unknown Film, and now he's emailed me again with a little more info about himself and how he knew about Dalibor's Tower:

"Well I came to see your wonderful web-site and I love Czech Animation. I was looking on the Kratky Film Catalogue and I found 'About Master Hanus' and I like to look at the background of The Director, Designer, ect and I followed some links to Dalibors Tower and I instantly recognised those beautiful Puppets!

No I'm not Czech, I'm British.

Off The Shelf Productions"

Thanks for responding Ben! Sorry, I just assumed you must be Czech. So, you talk funny because you're British then! ; )

And just about a half hour ago another email came in, this one from Orly Yadin, the producer of The Stain, a wonderful film directed by Marjut Rimminen and Christine Roche (who I neglected to credit) - which I posted in its entirety some time ago. I'm not sure what insanity prompted me to post the entire film..... for the most part I had only posted clips from Czech animations in the past, nothing American (or British) that could bring official (read legal) attention my way. Actually, there's no guarantee I won't get a Cease and Desist order from a Czech production company, but I figured I'll take my chances and if I do hear anything then I'll just take down the offending clips and hope for the best.

And I must say, thus far the best is exactly what I've been getting! Each time I've heard from someone concerning their work that I've posted (wthout permission in each case) it's been a pleasant and very positive experience! My initial contact with Scott Radke about my copying his style for one of my puppet heads resulted in a collaboration with him on the film I'm currently working on, and when Mario Caprino contacted me about a clip of The Pinchcliff Grand Prix that I had posted, it resulted in the Caprinos supplying StopMoShorts (of which I'm one of the administrators) with several of their excellent DVD box sets as prizes for one of our animation contests!

And in that same tradition of goodheartedness, here's what I recieved today from Orly Yadin:

"I was pleased you liked The Stain so much - it was a lot of work but great fun to make (I was the Producer). Two points, though: you mention Marjut Rimminen as the filmmaker, but actually there were two directors: Marjut and Christine Roche, and they should get equal credit.

Secondly, you have put the entire film on your site without premission. It is illegal to do so without permission from the rights holder which happens to be me, as distributor of the film. I'm not worried about it and am glad that it give a few more people an opportunity to enjoy it (albeit at very low resolution and lots of colour and picture distortion). However I would ask you to do the following: next to or under where your link is to the movie on your website, please make it clear that distribution rights belong to Orly Yadin and create a link to for anyone wishing to acquire a DVD or tape.

Judging from your taste and interest in animation - have you ever seen films by Rob Morgan? I think you might like them - go to

As a filmmaker you should appreciate that the filmmakers of The Stain would like to have their correct credits attached to their film, and also the opportunity to get it seen in good qulaity - this can only be done if you insert a link to me as distributor."

I certainly do! And I promised Orly that I'll comply as soon as I'm able (yes, I still haven't solved the little problem of why I can't get through to my own site! I know LIO, I know... I'll get right on that sir!). As a halfway measure I decided to first post the info here in this form.

Thursday, August 10, 2006

The unknown film revealed at last!!!

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You might recognize this image from my Darkstrider website.... posted there as the thumbnail for Unknown Movie. I found it on a Kratke Film promo tape Ted Sydor (my Czech Connection) sent me a few years ago. It was just the clip as posted on my website.... no name or information associated with it. Well, at long last, someone has contacted me and ended the ignorance! Here's the email I got tonight from someone calling himself Off the Shelf Productions:

Ha, Ha I know what the Unknown film is... Dalibor's Tower it was Directed by Ivan Renc and Designed by Milada Kucerova. It is a picture based on the old Prague legend. It is a well-known story of a chieftain named Dalibor who defended his serfs and, as a result, was imprisoned in the Prague castle in a tower. He endeared himself in the hearts of the Prague citizens by playing violin there. After he was executed, Prague people started to call the tower Dalibor's Tower.

I'm assuming This is a Czech because, well, he knows Czech things, and he kinda talks funny. Anyway, whoever you are, thank you immensely!

Oh, and if you didn't already figure this out, click on the image to see the clip.

Friday, August 04, 2006

Massive collection of figurative sculptures

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"It's difficult for those growing up within contemporary institutions of culture (museums, universities, art schools, etc) to appreciate the vitality and scope of 20th Century figure sculpture. The major museums and surveys of art history only feature those sculptors who have found a place in the canonical historical narrative of Modernism (like Maillol, Lehmbruck, or Nadelman). The rest lie buried in the dust of neglect - as often happens when the present defines itself in oppositon to the recent past."

....I could get lost in this site and die happy.....