Tuesday, 21 January 2014

Ryan Larkin and Emile Cohl

Ryan Larkin is a Canadian animator who was taught how to animate by Norman McLaren, in which he used his teachings to create his well known 'Walking' and 'Street Musique' animations that involve characters morphing into another portrayed in different media, shapes, angles and line.

Larkin's first animation was called 'Syrinx' and was made using traditional pose to pose in black and white media, and by erasing the frame to then draw another on top of which. His animation was influenced by Greek Mythology, which is seen in the character design, however the audio twists and distorts the animation through how the imagery shown eerily makes the flute like music seem haunting and foreboding compared to the playful audio and animation at the beginning of the short.

'Walking' is an animation that uses ink, watercolour and sketchy lines made with pen and graphite which form to depict characters walking, all merging into another as they all partake on a journey to a destination. I loved the introduction walk cycle as the whiteout of the character made the outline of the characters shape made with ink or watercolour, look like an aura or an atmosphere of the characters mood, and moved along with the pace of the walk and inverted to engulf the whole shape of the character, eventually forming detail.
The animation uses traditional pose to pose animation, and takes influence from what Larkin has seen in surrounding environment and as he travels. The animation was nominated for an Oscar in 1970 for the best animated short.

The morphing of characters reminds me of Emile Cohl's work, such as Fantasmagorie which was made in 1908. The purpose of the animation was for pure entertainment, and was presented in the style of the Magic Lantern. The film contained over 700 drawings and it is interpreted that it can be considered as one of the first fully animated films. To create the appearance of the animation, Cohl used negative exposure as to gain the quality of it looking as if he had drawn it on a chalk board. In order to gain the smooth inbetweens of the morphing in the animation, Cohl would trace over the original image and change small parts of the image until it had completely changed into a new shape.
Cohl was actually a member of an art movement called The Incoherents, who were deemed as the predecessor of surrealist art movements such as Dadaism. This influence of the art movement gave inspiration into including these surreal and distorted characters into his animations, through the morphing movement and the underlying comedy.

Chris Landreth later made an animation dedicated to Ryan Larkin, who inspired him throughout his career. The animation used CGI to portray the emotions and the overtake of addictive substances much like the ones which consumed Larkins animated career and made him paranoid, in which he ended up living on the streets. After this animation Larkin went back to creating animations but sadly died from cancer before he was able to complete it. It was continued and finished using what Larkin had drawn in his storyboards and was aired on MTV in 2005, an ident named Spare Change. 

Source: The World History of Animation, Public Domain Review

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