André Durenceau – Inspirations 1928

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(Please click all these thumbnails to see the bigger pictures)

Illustrator, artist, muralist and bon viveur André Maurice Durenceau was born in Auray, France in 1904 and by the time he was 24 he’d emigrated to the USA and had his first limited edition folio of designs, called “Inspirations”, published.

There’s very little easily accessible biographical detail about Durenceau on the web, but thanks to Time Magazine’s online archive, we can learn that he had acquired US citizenship and was thriving as a muralist in Hollywood around 1934, and that he was a colour adviser to Technicolor. He went on to pursue a career as an illustrator, illuminating several books and occasionally producing some modernist art deco paintings.

There’s evidence that he worked as a textile designer in the US, and it’s likely that he had studied design before arriving stateside.

Be prepared for some colour overload as you feast your eyeballs on these boisterous designs.
I found them on the New York Public Library site, and you’ll notice that they own a rather grubby, apparently flood damaged copy of the Inspirations folio. I’ve corrected the scans slightly, but if I’d followed my impulse to give them a total wash and scrub up treatment, some of the colour might have suffered, so I held back. A bit.

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Continue reading this post, there’s a lot more text and pictures after the fold, here >> Continue reading André Durenceau – Inspirations 1928

Lighting Up Dark Chocolate

I was doing a bit of research into colour the other day, and I headed over to the splendid archive of American Cinematographer.

I found the information I was looking for spread across two of the (free to access) archive issues. The Color-Space Conundrum 1, and The Color-Space Conundrum 2. What really caught my eye, however, was a 2005 article about the lighting and shooting difficulties in Charlie and the Chocolate Factory.

The lighting was designed by Philippe Rousselot, ASC, AFC, in his third collaboration with the director Tim Burton.

Here’s one of Luc Desmarchelier‘s production sketches: (Please click the small pictures to enlarge them)

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And here’s how that scene looked on film:
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(Photoshop. 2003. Movie frame.2005.)
Luc remarks: “I was amazed to see how close they stayed to the original design.”

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Here’s the arrangement of the lights for this scene, that Rousselot worked out with Light By Numbers.
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“Rousselot had a similar respect for the fragile set when designing the lighting for the Chocolate Room with his “marvelous” gaffer, John “Biggles” Higgins.

Rousselot decided early on to keep all the lighting off the set, and to suspend the fixtures from a ceiling grid above the Cablecam installation.

According to Higgins, the massive scale of tungsten lighting fixtures included 600 space lights, 100 Pars, 56 Maxi-Brutes and 12 20K Mole Beams, all suspended from the ceiling.

The total potential power consumption provided by three generators off-stage was 4 megawatts, enough for a small city, although Higgins is quick to point out that “we never used all the lights at once.”

Each space light contained five 800-watt bulbs, and the crew wired each light with two cables, allowing for three intensities: two bulbs, three bulbs or five bulbs. This enabled Rousselot to change the overall intensity without dimming, which changes color temperature.

Half of the space lights provided an overall level for the huge stage and were fitted with black skirts to limit spill. The remaining units could be quickly lowered by cable to provide sources for a scene staged below. To provide maximum coverage, skirted and skirtless lights were alternated on the ceiling grid.”

Click the image below to see the amazing number of lights illuminating the Pinewood set.

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It’s enough to melt your chocolate bar….

Incidentally, the American Cinematographer is having a sale of back issues at the moment for only one dollar an issue, which is ludicrously cheap….

Ivan F. Choultsé

This is number seven in the seasonal series of snow scene themed posts. (Don’t try to say that with a mouthful of crackers.)

The first time I came across the work of Ivan Fedorovitch Choultsé, (1877 – 1932) I couldn’t make up my mind whether he was a colourist genius or an early incarnation of the sublimely vulgar Thomas Kinkade.

On reflection, I have to give Choultsé the benefit of the doubt, because he steers well clear of the mawkish saccharine* sentimentality of America’s “Painter of Light”, and he also seems to have been able to get out of the house (or bank, in Kinkade’s case) a bit more, and do some painting from life. I would not be at all surprised to learn that Kinkade was “influenced” by Choultsé, however.

The picture of his that genuinely stopped me in my tracks was this one:
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Landscape in Winter
(Click the thumbnail to make it much bigger)

Choultsé liked snow –
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Winter morning, Engadine
You have to admit that those colours are being stretched just a tad beyond the bounds of credibility. Perhaps it was an effect of the altitude…

Here he is with a non-winter subject –
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The Parthenon After a Storm

Gooogle his name to find out about his German origins, his upbringing in Russia, and his travels as an emigré in many lands, and learn how even though he was once almost completely forgotten about, the value of his work is rising rapidly, especially with the nouveau riche oligarchy in the Russian Federation.

*=Aspartame, nowadays, but it doesn’t make such a good alliteration.

There are some potted biographies below the fold…>>> Continue reading Ivan F. Choultsé