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On A Desert Island With....Visionary Experimenters and Effects-Makers

A survey of animation and visual effects artists, asking, "What" ten animated films would you want to have with you if stranded on a desert island?

This month, we asked a few people involved in visual effects and experimental animation what animated films they would want to have with them if they were stranded on a desert island.

On the visual effects side, Phil Tippett is the founder of Tippett Studios, the San Francisco-based effects studio which created the spectacular giant insect effects for Paul Verhoeven's Starship Troopers, a 1997 Oscar nominee for Best Visual Effects. On the experimental animation side, Richard Reeves is a Canadian experimental animator whose recent direct (drawn-on-film) animated short, Linear Dreams, has been receiving rave reviews as it embarks on its international festival circuit. The film can be seen next at the Annecy festival in May. Finally, somewhere between visual effects and animation, Daina Krumins is a New Jersey-based law firm administrator by day, and experimental filmmaker by night. Her surreal films such as Babobilicons combine live-action and animation with tried and true visual effects technologies such as chroma-key and optical printing. Her next film, Summer Light should be completed some time this year.

Phil Tippett's Top Ten:

1. Akira by Katsuhiro Otomo. 2. My Neighbor Totoro by Hayao Miyazaki. 3. Baron Munchausen by Karel Zeman. 4. The Fabulous World of Jules Verne-Invention of Destination by Karel Zeman. 5. Nausicäa: Valley of the Wind by Hayao Miyazaki. 6. Beauty and the Beast (Disney). 7. Pinocchio (Disney). 8. The Seventh Voyage of Sinbad (animation by Ray Harryhausen). 9. Jason and the Argonauts (animation by Ray Harryhausen). 10. King Kong, the 1933 version (animation by Willis O'Brien).

Richard Reeves' Favorites:

It was hard to pick only ten films. For example, Norman McLaren has ten films alone that I could watch over and over. The string that binds these films is that they are all non-narrative; stories told on subconscious levels often inspired by musical or visionary experiences, using a wide range of techniques. These films inspire me...and with each viewing I can find something new in them. On a deserted island with only these films? It could be fun to project some onto rocks or water...

1. Mosaic by Norman McLaren and Evelyn Lambart. 2. Particles in Space by Len Lye. 3. Permutations by John Whitney. 4. Motion Painting by Oskar Fischinger. 5. J.S. Bach: Fantasy in G Minor by Jan Svankmajer. 6. Begone Dull Care by Norman McLaren. 7. The Bead Game by Ishu Patel. 8. Lapis by James Whitney. 9. Clocks by Kirsten Winter. 10 Frühling (Spring) by Silke Parzich.

Daina Krumins' Treasure Chest:

Some part of my mind, something that started when I was little, maybe a toddler or baby even, has a relationship with certain shapes, textures, sounds and images. These are the perceptions on which my heart opened at that time, and they are the basis for my own films (along with dreams, sense of beauty and meaning, etc.). The films that I like with this part of my mind, that contain at least some animation, are:

1. Pat O'Neill's work, especially Water and Power. 2. The films of the Quay Brothers. I wish I could see them again, and the ones I've missed, too. 3. The Orchestra - a video piece that was on Great Performances on PBS some years ago. 4. The first part of Fantasia (Disney), especially the abstract parts and also the sections with the plant shapes, where mushrooms and flowers dance. (I hate the mawkish later sections like the Greek myth section and "Ave Maria." What hooey.) 5. A long time ago I saw an animation by Kathy Rose which was also a live dance performance. She dressed in a costume to match the film, and danced in front of it. Incredible. I think this was in 1983. 6. Oskar Fischinger's Composition in Blue and some others of his which I have seen. I wish I could see more of them. 7. Lately, I've enjoyed the fractal animations that various mathematicians have been coming up with. I like the idea of images based on mathematics. I've always liked physics and math. There was a PBS show this past year on the Mandelbrot Set. 8. I also like computer animation that has something to do with organic shapes: the Taelon Shuttle in Earth: Final Conflict, the giant "macroviruses" on a Star Trek: Voyager a few years ago, even the computerized spiders in the recent Lost in Space to which my son dragged me. These images amuse me.

Then, of course, there is the "social" part of my mind (admittedly undeveloped), with which I like such animated films as:

1. The Tom & Jerry short, Cat Concerto (Hanna-Barbera). 2. The Elephant/Ostrich/Crocodile ballet part of Fantasia (T. Hee, I think. I remember visiting T. and he had me hug a tree to feel it's "inner spirit." I wish I hadn't been so self-conscious about it.) 3. Bugs Bunny, Woody Woodpecker, etc.: the sophisticated stuff. 4. Some parts of Allegro Non Troppo by Bruno Bozzetto. 5. Jiminy Cricket in Pinocchio and the Crows (and in fact all the rest too), of Dumbo (Disney). 6. Zorns Lemma by Hollis Frampton. It consists of lots of repetitions of the alphabet, with more images substituted for the letters. (Watch the audience squirm and try to figure out why they are watching this). 7. Tony Conrad's Flicker Films. Two frames black, two frames of image -- enough to give an epileptic a seizure. Disturbing, but interesting.