Sunday, July 24, 2022

1972 - A Miller's Tale - 50 years in the making - well, sort of...

Basements are amazing things.  Sometimes they gather chaff and mold, and sometimes if you scrape some of the mold away, you can revisit your misspent past.  In 1972, while still in high school, it was a rural enough area that having a driver's license was not all that useful - one field after another - so why not try to animate a story that could be even more obscure than the source of the fertilizer the farmers used on those fields?  

Thus "The Miller's Tale," by Geoffrey Chaucer, ca 1390, came to be the subject of my third attempt at animation, making use of the same technology upon which the first attempt was built (see the entry in March, 2022).  This time, in COLOR!  But, alas, still on standard 8mm, editing practically nonexistent (aside from joining reels), and more painfully, without any single frame or framing flexibility.  Zooms and pans had to be drawn.  

Ignorance being bliss, 2300 drawings were constructed, again enlisting my little brother to help with the coloring, and the whole pile were photographed that summer, sometimes outside between the hours of 10am and 2pm (because the tree shadows would stretch over the picnic table in the back yard), and sometimes indoors when the fitful movie light wasn't burning out a bulb or flipping one of those new-fangled circuit breakers.  

It came in at over 20 minutes long, and even my sainted mother could only muster a nice comment about my penmanship on the titles.  It was also silent, except for the snoring.  So I packed the 8mm print away, tossed the stack of drawings into a shoebox, and started saving my pennies for a Bolex .  

The drawings were brought to light this past spring, and in testing the flexibility of a new overhead scanner (CZUR), the stabilization functions of Photoshop, and nudges within the video editor (Vegas 15), it became something less than 7 minutes.  And, since sound could now be added,  I made a mix from old recordings (now 50 years older) that would have likely been in the basement at that time.  

It is on my Vimeo account, with this link -

  https://vimeo.com/730098411    

The introductory company title,  "ORK" (for "Optically Reproduced Kinetics"), is kept to show the level of "focus" and effects available in 1972.  The "iris out" was produced by a series of progressively smaller circle cutouts.

It was a nice revisit, almost a conversation with a foreign self still grasping for a larger visual vocabulary.  I'm rather pleased with the outcome - always knew there was a cartoon in there, somewhere. 

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