A film in which both sound and image were created with a minimum of photographic or electronic equipment. The images are a few simple geometric forms--squares, circles, lines, ellipses--arranged and counter-arranged to generate an increasing number of perceived images. Their appearance on the screen is as percussive as the sound that accompanies them.
This animated short by Norman McLaren and René Jodoin is a play on motion set against a background of multi-hued sky. Spheres of translucent pearl float weightlessly in the unlimited panorama of the sky, grouping, regrouping or colliding like the stylized burst of some atomic chain reaction. The dance is set to the musical cadences of Bach, played by pianist Glenn Gould.
Watch an early experiment using computers to animate film. The result is a dazzling vibration of geometric forms in vivid colour, an effect achieved by varying the speed at which alternate colours change, so producing optical illusions. In between these screen pyrotechnics there appears a simple line form gyrating in smooth rhythm. Sound effects are created by registering sound shapes directly on the soundtrack of the film.
This animated short by Norman McLaren features synchronization of image and sound in the truest sense of the word. To make this film, McLaren employed novel optical techniques to compose the piano rhythms of the sound track, which he then moved, in multicolor, onto the picture area of the screen so that, in effect, you see what you hear.
In this animated film without words, filmmaker Pierre Hébert and musicians Robert Lepage and René Lussier worked together, and separately, in their respective media. This cinema/music performance recreates, impressionistically, the dehumanizing environment of the urban subway. Drawings etch the outlines of people hurtling through space in underground tunnels. The soundtrack, elemental and atonal, gives compelling expression to their alienation.
The NFB's 24th Oscar®-nominated film.
This short film by Norman McLaren is a cinematic study of the choreography of ballet. A bare, black set with the back-lit figures of dancers Margaret Mercier and Vincent Warren create a dream-like, hypnotic effect. This award-winning film comes complete with the visual effects one expects from this master filmmaker.
This short film for kids offers a lesson in proportions in which simple actions achieve surprising results. A man wants a door in a wall. He draws a rectangle and, presto! There is an opening. In the same way, he conjures up furniture. If too high or too low, the raising or lowering of a finger puts everything right.
This animated short from Malcolm Sutherland is an engaging dance of shapes and sounds. The "game" is played by opening the box, unfolding the board and placing shapes on it that you manipulate with your hands. There are no winners or losers in this game; the fun is in the creative way the forms unfold. Features a score by Luigi Alleman and music by Ravi Shankar.
Ages 11 to 17
Arts Education - Music
Arts Education - Visual Arts
Media Education - Film Animation
Media Education - Film and Video Production
Ask students to reflect on how we interpret the meaning of a film when it does not have the usual elements of narrative. Guide them with the following questions: Do we experience the film in a physical, or visceral way? Does it use invented language? Is the way our eyes interpret the forms just as much a part of the film? What role do rhythms and music play? Ask students to loosely remake the film, making links to today’s society and using contemporary technologies.