Sylvain Chomet’s Sale of Key Drawings at Arludik

Key drawings from The Illusionist

Follow this link to see a gallery of drawings from “The Illusionist”. (You might find that these drawings and paintings move into the tab marked “Artists” when the current exhibition is replaced. Look for the thumbnail image for “L’Illusionniste”)
The site uses Flash, so give up all hope of good navigation. :)

Here’s one of the background layouts that give the film such a strong sense of place.

Key drawings from The Illusionist

Link to Arludik.

________________________________________________________________________________________________

Sylvain Chomet Interview With Matthew Sweet on Radio 4

thumbnail of title

(Click to enlarge, as usual)

Still from Django Films “The Illusionist”
“The Film Programme” on BBC Radio 4 featured an interview with the show’s presenter, Matthew Sweet, and the director of “The Illusionist, Sylvain Chomet.

Here’s the link to the programme – the interview is the first item on the agenda.  You can listen to this for up to seven days after broadcast (Until Friday 20th August) – or click on the little arrow below.

Sylvain Chomet discusses “The Illusionist”

The Illusionist opens in UK cinemas on Friday 20th of August.

Art & Design in The British Film – The Last Chapter

Wrapping a series about Art Directors in the British film industry up to 1948, when the book containing these articles was published.

This final chapter describes briefly the work of British art directors and production designers who for one reason or another could not be interviewed directly by the author.

Shorter Notices.
THIS book would not be complete if I were not to include the names of some of those art directors well known for their contribution to film decor, but who, for some reason or other I have been unable to represent by examples of their work or records of their effort.

I had expected contributions from Carmen Dillon, Holmes Paul, Andrew Mazzei, and Charles Gilbert, but I have had to go to press without them.

Carmen Dillon is the only professional art director of the ‘fair sex’ in the country.
She studied as an architect and then went into films.

For many years she has been associated with most of the films produced at Denham by Two Cities. She recently worked as art director on ‘Hamlet’ in collaboration with Roger Furse, who was the designer.

Andrew L. Mazzei, one of the most genial of characters, was Lancashire born of an Italian father and a French mother and therefore inherited a lot of natural genius. He studied architecture and sculpture and was an expert on fibrous plaster work.

At one time he helped to design the White City exhibition, a great technical achievement in plaster of paris, which has stood up wonderfully to the ravages of time.

His first film job was in America for Famous Players after which he worked in Germany and Italy. When he came back to England in 1928 he was already well known for his work on ‘Roses of Picardy’ and ‘The Flight Commander’.

Mazzei’s name is associated with many films at Shepherd’s Bush where he is now art director. I first met him when he was designing a film for Anna Sten at B.I.P. in 1937, when I was greatly impressed by his knowledge of film technique.

R. Holmes-Paul is now chief Art Director at British National Films, Elstree. He is a man of great experience having worked as an art director on numerous productions in America as well as England.

He worked at Ealing and at Rock Studios for many years where his sets have been notable for their appreciation of style and careful treatment of detail.

Charles H. Gilbert came into films in 1930. He had previous experience as a scenic artist; after a considerable period as assistant on various productions he did his first job as art director in 1939, when he made the decor for ‘The Middle Watch’, an A.B. production.

This was followed by many more films for Associated British including ‘Spring Meeting’, ‘The Farmer’s Wife’, ‘This Man is Dangerous’, ‘Banana Ridge’, ‘ Women aren’t Angels’ and two Hitchcock films, ‘ Madagascar Landing’ and ‘Bon Voyage’.

His best known work was for ‘Night Boat to Dublin’ and ‘ Wanted for Murder’ in which the authentic backgrounds were a contribution to the success of the films.

There are other designers too, who have temporarily retired from films, gone abroad, or who are no longer with us, but whose contribution to British films should not be overlooked.

Walter Murton was born in 1892 and was Art Director for the Stoll Studio in silent picture days, during which period he proved to be one of the most competent designers in the country.

Those who can remember ‘Huntingtower’ will remember how good it was. He went on to Shepherd’s Bush Studios where he continued to work as art director and floor manager. This was followed by an offer to go to India in the capacity of adviser on film production, on which subject he was by then an expert.

John Mead was one of the many art directors who worked at the B.I.P. Studios. Mead, however, was remarkable in that he had a real flair for film decor.

His sets for ‘The Marriage of Corbal’ in 1936 were exceptionally good, though the picture was bad.

He used all the tricks of perspective, and painted shadows with great ability and imagination. He was particularly at home on Eastern subjects, and his work for ‘Abdul the Damned’ at Elstree had all the atmosphere of a corrupt Turkey behind it.

The late Sidney Gausden is remembered chiefly for his work as
designer for ‘The Great Mr Handel’, an enterprising film made in colour by Norman Walker in 1942.

The colour scheme for the whole film was most carefully planned and although the system for reproduction was not what it is now, the results were studied with great interest by all who were keen on the use of colour in films as opposed to those who used colour to make films colourful.

Gausden first came into films in 1940 and designed the sets for ‘Man at the Gate’. Then in 1941 ‘Hard Street’ followed by ‘The Great Mr Handel’ and ‘They Knew Mr King’ in 1945, all of which were directed by Norman Walker.

Gausden was a very interesting character—at one time he studied for the church, then became well known as a painter and wood engraver depicting life in Bosnia, where he had spent a long time, after being badly wounded in the First World War, teaching the art of furniture making. He wrote plays, and at the time of his death was keenly interested in religious films.

Then there are those who worked on silent pictures. For instance, young Ian Campbell-Gray who designed the settings for ‘Shooting Stars’ and ‘Underground’, Anthony Asquith’s first film in 1927-28.

Allan McNab, a brilliant young etcher and engraver who came into films round about the same period and made designs for ‘The Wrecker’ and ‘The Lady in the Lake’.

Harry Jonas, an outstanding figure, a painter who worked with George Pearson on ‘Love, Life and Laughter’, in which a stairway scene was so dramatically conceived that the impression of it has remained with me for twenty-two years.

Willie Davies, formerly a pageant master, worked with D. W.
Griffith before he supervised the decor to numerous British films.

Bert Evans and Oswald Jones, both had been scenic artists before
working on films.

Clifford Pember was one of the first designers to graduate to film decor through an architect’s office. He worked in America for Griffiths on ‘ Way Down East’ and on most of Herbert Wilcox’s silent pictures. He then worked with Basil Dean on his first film ventures.

Herbert Norris also worked in films, and J. Elder Wills, James Carter and Frank Wells were all well known in silent picture days. They were also designing before the war but have since taken positions on the production side of the business.

Edward Delany, the well-known scenic artist, designed sets for a number of Oswald Mitchell’s productions at Stoll Studios. He put a great deal of work into these small films and had he not been wedded to the theatre would have made a brilliant art director.

All those mentioned in this book have contributed in some way towards the design of motion pictures—some felt disillusioned early on by what seemed a dumb commercialism that would not even recognize that good art would obviously sell better than bad art.

Others stayed on and sought to improve the medium by endeavouring to understand it.

In 1924, that veteran artist in the film medium, George Pearson, said:

`I believe in the Cinema; in its claim to be an art, in its power to speak to the people with equal vigour to that claimed by the stage, and in its ability to stand first in the days to come as inspirer of the people.
`But I equally deplore all those hideous bonds that now strangle its growth—the many passengers and parasites who feed upon it, the charlatans who exploit it, and above all the thinkers who will not think about it; the convention-ridden workers who would leave to others all the discovery, content to get a living of sorts by toiling in narrow grooves till the end.
`If you are to help me you must be with me in my belief. It is a
fervent, consuming belief.’

I know these words inspired me and many others to persevere. We would not be passengers and we still hope to see the film rise above mere entertainment and become, as G.P.’ puts it, ‘The inspirer of the people’.

(Excerpted from: “Art & Design In The British Film” A Pictorial Directory of British Art Directors and their work. Compiled by Edward Carrick, 1947 )

The End.

(Fade to black).

______________________________________________________________________
The table of contents for this series of 30 posts can be found on the “Series” page.

The New Yorker Magazine Cover for 5th July 2010

“After Escher: Gulf Sky and Water”
by Bob Staake

thumbnail of New Yorker Magazine

(Please click this image to enlarge it)

More New Yorker covers here.

Second Day of Gobelins Student Films at the Annecy Festival

The second film to be shown at the Annecy Animation Festival, made by the 2nd year students at Gobelins school is called “Soapy Trip”.

Here’s a sequence of screenshots. You can enlarge by clicking on them.-

Soapy Trip

Soapy Trip

Soapy Trip

Soapy Trip

Soapy Trip

The crew were: Théo Boubounelle, Chloé Bury, Jean Baptiste Cumont, Claire Fauvel, and Vincent Nghiem.

See the movie in full, here.

___________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

Gobelins Student Films at 2010 Annecy Animated Film Festival

For the past eight years, the second year students at the Gobelins School of Communication in Paris have worked in small teams to provide the opening shorts for screening sessions at the Annecy International Animated Film Festival & Market that takes place every year in early June.

This year’s opener is a short called M.Eustache, and it was created by François Barreau, Violaine Briat, Clément Girard, Benoit Tranchet, and Maïté Xia.

thumbnail of M.Eustache
(Please click these images to enlarge them)

thumbnail of M.Eustache

thumbnail of M.Eustache

thumbnail of M.Eustache

thumbnail of M.Eustache

Here’s the link to the gallery of shorts on the Gobelins website.

This is an important year for the Annecy Animation Festival, because the 6 day event is the 50th time that animators from all over the world have met at this lakeside venue in the French alps.

As a bonus, here is a 50th anniversary poster for you to download, and suck your inkjet dry bring your printer to its knees when you print it out. Click on the picture for a LARGE version.

thumbnail of title

There’s more to come in the following days, so bookmark this post!
____________________________________________________________________________________________________________

Art & Design in The British Film #30- Lawrence Paul Williams

Continuing a series about Art Directors in the British film industry up to 1948, when the book containing these articles was published.

This chapter deals with Lawrence Paul Williams (1905 – 1996)

thumbnail of Sketch - So Well Remembered
Compressed charcoal sketch for “So Well Remembered” RKO Pictures 1947
(Please click these thumbnails to enlarge them)

he became the prime mover in a scheme to start a ‘ Society of British Film Art Directors and Designers’, similar to the Society of Motion Picture Art Directors in America, of which he is also a member. The English Society had as one of its main objects the cultivation and improvement of pictorial design and quality in British motion pictures.

thumbnail of Sketch - So Well Remembered
Compressed charcoal sketch for “So Well Remembered” RKO Pictures 1947

thumbnail of Sketch - So Well Remembered
Compressed charcoal sketch for “So Well Remembered” RKO Pictures 1947

thumbnail of Sketch - So Well Remembered
Compressed charcoal sketch for “So Well Remembered” RKO Pictures 1947

thumbnail of Sketch - So Well Remembered
Compressed charcoal sketch for “So Well Remembered” RKO Pictures 1947

thumbnail of Sketch - Brief Encounter
Compressed charcoal sketch for “Brief Encounter” Cineguild 1945

thumbnail of Sketch - Brief Encounter
Compressed charcoal sketch for “Brief Encounter” Cineguild 1945

Link to Art Director Lawrence Paul Williams’ IMDB page.

A visitor to the Stoll Studios in the silent picture days of 1928 might have found two young artists fighting a duel with prop swords which were eventually broken in the conflict and for which they had to pay out of their meagre salaries—one would have been Edward Carrick, the other, L. P. Williams, the young man who wanted to streamline motion picture production.

He has since gone a long way towards doing what he wanted and is now Technical Director to the Denham and Pinewood Studios and doing his best to introduce all the most up-to-date scientific ideas and machines into his studios, with the idea that the more you perfect the machine the easier it is to work and so allow for more freedom of expression on the part of the artists who are expected to use them.

`L. P. W.’ studied architecture at the Architectural Association between 1922 and 1927 and then joined the firm of Mark Henri and Loverdet, who, as well as being the best scenic artists of the time, were also undertaking a number of large contracts for interior decoration for which they needed architectural assistants.

Not far away in Temple Road, Cricklewood, were the Stoll Studios and Williams soon found himself there as Assistant to Clifford Pember, who was Art Director for Herbert Wilcox at the time.
Some months after he was given the chance to design the settings for a film entitled ‘On Approval’ and he never looked back—carrying on as Wilcox’s designer and artistic adviser on all his successes including ‘Nell Gwynn’, ‘Victoria the Great’, ‘Sixty Glorious Years’, and ‘Nurse Edith Cavell’.

When Wilcox went to America, L. P. W. went too, and established there a reputation as a No. 1 Art Director. He worked chiefly for R.K.O. and was Art Director on Hitchcock’s ‘Mr and Mrs Smith’.

War came and he joined the Royal Engineers and, on return to England in 1945, was David Lean’s Art Director on ‘Brief Encounter’, a fine piece of film making. R.K.O. then made a picture entitled ‘So Well Remembered‘ which L. P. W. was naturally called in to design.

About this time he became the prime mover in a scheme to start a ‘ Society of British Film Art Directors and Designers’, similar to the Society of Motion Picture Art Directors in America, of which he is also a member. The English Society had as one of its main objects the cultivation and improvement of pictorial design and quality in British motion pictures.

Because L. P. W. was educated to be an architect, he always found figure drawing difficult, but he has never tried to avoid it, having learnt that a background without figures is devoid of human interest.

Now his figures, which are sometimes very humorous, are often the most important elements in his designs. He draws with conte in a style all his own—very direct in approach, very simple in treatment—and always with a great sense of humour.

Lawrence Paul (aka Bill ) Williams retired from art direction in 1947.

(Excerpted from: “Art & Design In The British Film” A Pictorial Directory of British Art Directors and their work. Compiled by Edward Carrick, 1947 )

_________________________________________________________________________________________

Transformations Through Light – Photos by Helmar Lerski

There’s an interesting reference resource for all you CGI modellers and lighting artists looking for new ways to build on the standard three lamps setup. Take some time to study an exhibition of eighty-eight photographs by Helmar Lerski (1871–1956) currently showing at the Ubu Gallery in New York and running until the 25th of June, 2010.

The show is called “Transformations Through Light”, and it demonstrates Lerski’s skill at moulding his model’s features into dramatic volumes; a skill he learned and practiced as a cinematographer in the avant-garde German cinema of the nineteen twenties and thirties.

His compositions lent an air of grandeur to all of his subjects, even though many of them were beggars, labourers, and people found in dole (welfare) queues.

thumbnail of From The Factory
(Aus dem Werk) “From The Factory”, 1936
(Please click this image to enlarge it)

Lerski was involved concurrently in the two major, emergent mediums of his time: film and photography. Born in Alsace in the then German city of Strausburg, he became involved in the theater and, in 1896, moved to New York to pursue a career in acting, eventually working at the Irving Place Theater and later the German Pabst Theater. It was in this setting that Lerski first became aware of the unique visual effects achievable with stage lighting. Drawing from his acting experience, he began investigating photography as an artistic medium after meeting his wife, also a photographer. While photographing their colleagues, Lerski experimented with a series of portraits that severely manipulated the lighting effects. The resulting images formed a base for his later success in both commercial and art photography.

Extreme close-up of dramatically lit male model.
(Verwandlungen des Lichts) “Untitled” 1936

Extreme close-up of a boy from Yemen, dramatically lit.
(Yemenititischer Knabe) “Yemenite Boy” 1933.

Close-up of a farm labourer's hands holding the handle of a tool.
(Hände eines Landarbeiters) “Farm labourer’s hands” 1944

Extreme lighting on the face of a housekeeper, by Helmar Lerski.
(Die Hausangestellte) “The Housekeeper” 1929

This body of work upholds the artist’s declaration that “in every human being there is everything; the question is only what the light falls on.”

Among Lerski’s many models was a young Francis Bacon, who had a dramatic studio portrait taken by Helmar Lerski, “a Swiss photographer and cinematographer”. Bacon was later to tell Stephen Spender that he had been very impressed by the work of the photographer who had produced striking effects using mirrors and natural light filtered through screens, but that he could not remember the artist’s name.” (Surprise!)

Not all of Lerski’s subjects were portrayed in this stark dramatic style, he made some dreamy portraits of a fellow film maker Leni Riefenstahl, who incidentally lived to the ripe old age of 101.

thumbnail of Leni Riefenstahl
(Click for pin-up size version)

The Tate Modern has a small collection of Lerski’s work.

There’s a tiny link to a PDF of thumbnails of all the photos in the Ubu Gallery page, and here’s a direct link.

Link to The Ubu Gallery

________________________________________________________________________________________________

Stills From Sylvain Chomet’s “The Illusionist”

thumbnail of Sylvain Chomet's The Illusionist
(Please click these images to enlarge them.)

This is a random assortment of images in no particular order, so please don’t read it as if it were a storyboard!

‘The Illusionist’ premiered some time ago, at the Berlinale Film Festival (February 16th, 2010)

thumbnail of Sylvain Chomet's The Illusionist

thumbnail of Sylvain Chomet's The Illusionist

thumbnail of Sylvain Chomet's The Illusionist

thumbnail of Sylvain Chomet's The Illusionist

thumbnail of Sylvain Chomet's The Illusionist

thumbnail of Sylvain Chomet's The Illusionist

thumbnail of Sylvain Chomet's The Illusionist

thumbnail of Sylvain Chomet's The Illusionist

thumbnail of Sylvain Chomet's The Illusionist

thumbnail of Sylvain Chomet's The Illusionist

thumbnail of Sylvain Chomet's The Illusionist

thumbnail of Sylvain Chomet's The Illusionist

thumbnail of Sylvain Chomet's The Illusionist

thumbnail of Sylvain Chomet's The Illusionist

thumbnail of Sylvain Chomet's The Illusionist

I love the art direction of these images. They are centred on a very particular sense of place, and the palette and lighting are truthfully based on the Scottish landscapes of highland and island.

The visual development was initiated by Evgeni Tomov, and Bjarne Hansen is credited as Art Director.

There’s an interview with Sylvain Chomet here, (Here’s the YouTube version), and a mini portfolio of stills here

Full cast and crew credits on the IMDB site.

Sylvain Chomet’s previous credits as director include “Les Triplettes de Belleville” and “The Old Lady and The Pigeons

The poster for the film.  It reads: The Illusionist.  A Film by Sylvain Chomet, based on the script by Jacques Tati.

______________________________________________________________________________________________________

Ed Catmull Talks About Creativity & Leadership

The Economist held a conference devoted to innovation at the Haas School of Business at the University of California, Berkeley on the 23rd and 24th of March this year.
Among the many gurus and visionaries who contributed to the summit, the calm and bullshit-free voice of Ed Catmull stood out as he laid out his experience of managing the creative spirits under his leadership at Pixar Animation.

thumbnail of title
(Click on this thumbnail to enlarge it)
This link takes you to the Economist event website. Go to the third page for Catmull’s video.

If everyone is trying to prevent error, it screws things up. It’s better to fix problems than to prevent them. And the natural tendency for managers is to try and prevent error and over plan things.

(Via)

______________________________________________________________________________________