Monday, June 22, 2009

Judging A Tape By Its Cover

It's the longest day of summer and it's barely broken 80 degrees in New York.

Several summers yore, when I still had the stamina to flip through boxes of rubbish looking for treasure (a skill developed as a teenaged record buyer), I found this VHS tape in the cut out bin of Tower Discount.

You may know Tower Discount (or Tower Records Discount Annex to use its fully Christian name) from the Will Smith vehicle "I Am Legend". The film's title refers to the great CD/Video store on Lafayette Street which went out of business years before the sci-fi film's release.

I picked up the tape to sneer at it. What awful artwork. What a shameless attempt to "Disney-up" the package.

Somewhere in the back of my head I remembered that Tissa David had made a film based on Mendelsson's music (What would it be called? Incidental music? Suite?). Lo! That's what this tape contained.

I always say people who don't judge books by their covers are doomed to a life of bad reading.

In this case, that would have been a mistake.

Tissa animated the entire film in Holland. There's a live action intro which is standard orchestra photography -the kind of visuals that make you switch off "Great Performances" or "Live from Lincoln Center".

It's interesting to see Tissa's "solo" work. She always takes the lead even when working with a director. She takes command of her scenes and brings more to a film than animation skills alone.

The characters here are rare examples of her own hand on film.

Here's a brief clip from the 39 minute piece.

The art production in the film is also extraordinary. It goes a long way to boost the expressiveness of the animation and, in the cases where drawings are on 4s and 6s, make it more fluid.

Some of this is in camera, panning foregrounds on floating peg bars or running multiple exposures of panning backgrounds. Some is simple artistry in production. It looks like the drawings were photocopied onto cel, but there are some instances of dry brush and a lot of color pencil and "watercolor" work.

Additional credits include;

Backgrounds and Background Animation.....Richard Fehsl
Color Stylist............................Ida Kozelka-Mocsary
Cel Painters.............................Deanna Herst, Lily Jong

There are two other notable "Midsummer Night's Dream" animated films.

Jiri Trnka's (clip below)

And John Canemaker's "Bottom's Dream"

Available on DVD.


Michael Sporn said...

You can depend on Goodtimes for the schlockiest of packaging.

I posted some artwork from this film in a couple of posts back in May of 2008.

soawesome said...

this is some magnificent color/background work...i actually don't regret that i took the time to read midsummer night's dream and seeing that film with Michelle Pfeiffer way back in highschool now :)