Ishu Patel while directing Bead Game (1977). © NFB
Bead Game (1977) - Ishu Patel. © NFB
Caroline Leaf animated her film The Street (1976) with painting on glass. © NFB
The Street (1976) - Caroline Leaf. © NFB
Martine Chartrand is creating an image in the paint with her fingers. Photo: Sophie Quévillon. © NFB
Black Soul (2000) - Martine Chartrand. © NFB
Shira Avni animating clay on a glass plate. Photo: Caroline Hayeur. © NFB
John and Michael (2004) - Shira Avni. © NFB
Play excerpts of films that use this technique
Afterlife / Après la vie, 1978
The Street, 1976
Besides using traditional drawings on cel and paper or paper cut-outs, there are many ways to animate drawings, illustrations or all sorts of other images with an animation stand.
The best-known technique is most likely sand animation, with practitioners all over the world, from Ernest and Gisèle Ansorge of Switzerland (Les corbeaux, 1968) to Ferenc Cako of Hungary (Song of the Sand). At the NFB, Caroline Leaf made The Owl Who Married a Goose (1975) using this technique, which consists in drawing in sand on a light table directly below the camera. The images she created, highly stylized and with strong contrast, are reminiscent of the pure lines of Inuit sculpture. Abi Feijo then used this technique for Stowaway (2000). Over the years, filmmakers have animated all kinds of materials: bits of linoleum (Zikkaron, Laurent Coderre, 1971) and beads (Bead Game, Ishu Patel, 1977), to name but two.
In 1976 Caroline Leaf employed a related technique for The Street. She made her adaptation of a Mordecai Richler short story using animated paintings, that is, she painted on glass directly under the camera, changing the picture before the paint could dry. This technique, used by many major filmmakers, especially in Eastern Europe (Witold Giersz in Poland, Alexander Petrov in Russia), is said to be one of the most difficult, because it requires both speed and nerve. Other NFB filmmakers have also tried it out: Diane Chartrand (The Orange, 1992) and Martine Chartrand (Black Soul, 2000). For The Wanderer (1988), George Ungar painted directly under the camera, then scratched the pictures to change them and create movement.
Another method is to apply a thin layer of clay on glass to create a picture that is then animated when it is changed for each frame. Ishu Patel (Afterlife, 1978) and Shira Avni (John and Michael, 2004) both employed this technique. Pjotr Sapegin used clay on glass in a very personal way for Through My Thick Glasses (2003). Working on several levels, he animated his characters as if they were puppets.
In 1990 Leaf completed Two Sisters, a film in which she etched the tinted 70 mm filmstock directly, then shot it on an animation stand. She went a step beyond the experiments done in 1981 by Viviane Elnécavé, who had etched the images of Luna, Luna, Luna directly onto cels painted black with water colour. In both cases, the effects are reminiscent of those obtained by drypoint etching. For Conte de quartier (2006), Florence Miailhe performed an interesting technical synthesis, using paint and sand on glass as well as pastels on cardboard to create a dense, colourful urban environment.