Busby Berkeley

Feeling fruity? Busby Berkeley is an amazing source of inspiration for composition on screen and ideas for how to cut from one series of shapes to another. Here is an example of Berkeley’s visual choreography featuring the fantastic Miss Carmen Miranda in ‘The Lady With the Tutti Frutti Hat’ from the 1943 technicolour musical extravaganza, The Gang’s All Here from 1943.

This film is seriously bizarre. Consider the ending of the film which manages to go from children waltzing in polka dot dresses to hula hoops to disembodied heads!

In this clip from the opening of the Gold Diggers of 1937, there is an example of his style of baroque choreography in which the human form is abstracted into pure pattern. He must have been very influenced by modernist painting and early abstract animations.

Berkeley alienates the female form. His work removes all sense of the individual or personal and presents his dancers as dehumanised shapes of collective flesh that are completely under his control. His style was completely dependent on the high budgets of Hollywood escapism and the cheap labour of depression era dancers. To my modern eyes, his work is beautiful and yet permeated with a whiff of fascism.

By A Waterfall sequence from Footlight Parade, 1933.

2d / 3d Stylistic Hybrids: Ben Hibon and Bo Mathorne

Ben Hibon studied Graphic Design at Central Saint Martins and initially applied his strong illustrative style to Flash animation. His first major film Full Moon Safari, created at Unit 9, was drawn exclusively in Flash with no 3d software used. The three dimensional style he used was entirely worked out in the drawings. Made in 2001, this film featured on the first Onedotzero DVD in 2003 and won awards at the OFFF and Flashforward festivals.

Full Moon Safari from Nosebleed Productions on Vimeo.

Since then Ben has directed a series of commercials and idents. In Codehunters, a short film for MTV Asia, his signature style is clear although the animation is created in a hybrid mixture of comic style art, hand drawn textures and CGI. This film won many major awards in 2006-7.

Codehunters from axisanimation on Vimeo.

More recently, Ben has directed animation sequences for Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows. Created in CGI, his own drawn aesthetic still comes through clearly.

2d / 3d hybrid styles were a big feature in this year’s Onedotzero festival. The Blackwater Gospel, (Bo Mathorne, The Animation Workshop, Denmark, 2011) combines hand-drawn backgrounds and textures with CGI to create a stylish and  fully integrated visual environment.

The Backwater Gospel from The Animation Workshop on Vimeo.