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   avant-garde movies, motion graphics, and theory

How to Tint and Tone B&W Film

story © Michael Betancourt | published September 25, 2011 | permalink | TwitThis Digg Facebook StumbleUpon  |  Print



How-To

This is a historical how-to:

I recently acquired a copy of the rare Tinting and Toning of Eastman Positive Motion Picture Film, second edition from 1918. I have made a .pdf of the text and it's posted (3.4 Mb download) as a service for anyone interested in the details of how these colorizing processes worked. It contains the instructions and formulae for creating the hues used in the early decades of film production.




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Modernist 'Purity' & Avant-Garde Film

story © Michael Betancourt | published September 18, 2011 | permalink | TwitThis Digg Facebook StumbleUpon  |  Print



Avant-GardeMovies

Clement Greenbergs essay, Modernist Painting, appearing as a Voice of America pamphlet in 1960, then reprinted in 1966, implicitly conditions how artists understood the idea of formal during the beginning of the institutional period for the avant-garde film. His basis in philosopher Immanuel Kants self-critical approach tempers the construction of Modernism:




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Millennium Film Workshop In Trouble: Meeting 18 Sept. 2011

story © Michael Betancourt | published September 17, 2011 | permalink | TwitThis Digg Facebook StumbleUpon  |  Print



CinemaNews

Public Meeting to Save the Millennium
Sunday, September 18, 7:30pm
Millennium Film Workshop
66 E 4th btw 2nd and Bowery

Tell everyone you know and have them tell everybody they know. This is the time to come together to save this important institution.




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Stan Brakhage's Film Theory & Visual Music

story © Michael Betancourt | published September 4, 2011 | permalink | TwitThis Digg Facebook StumbleUpon  |  Print



Visual Music

An Excerpt from The History of Motion Graphics:


Stan Brakhage (1933 2003) is exceptional, both in the sheer quantity of films he made, and in the innovative aesthetics and novel techniques he created that characterize the wide variety of his films. His work with abstract film that dominated his productions starting in the 1980s clearly demonstrates the close connections, continuously present in his film theories, between his films and visual music. Actively producing film work from the 1950s until his death in 2003, the last decade of his life was spent primarily working on abstract films whose finished form was created through a combination of direct hand painting processes and optical printing. These works reveal a direct linkage between the earliest abstract films and contemporary media art (such as VJ and the visual music renaissance brought about by digital technology).




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Optical Printing and Digital Computers

story © Michael Betancourt | published August 31, 2011 | permalink | TwitThis Digg Facebook StumbleUpon  |  Print



Avant-GardeMovies

I have been describing my own working process as 'using the computer like an optical printer' since I made the digital transition in 2000. This approach is based on the fundamentals described by Raymond Fielding at the very end of his book Special Effects Cinematography that I read during the two month faculty strike that happened my first semester as an undergraduate at Temple University. Since I wasn't able to take classes, I spent my time reading things that interested me.

With the revolution in digital video that started in the 1990s, the historical basis for these technologies is now quite distant. But these technologies evolved from an application of the digital computer to historical techniques and approaches, thus enabling ever greater control over the image. Writing in 1984, Raymond Fielding considers the optical printer as a variety of mechanical, analog computer. We can recognize the limiting factors of analog mediamost especially generation loss, grain, and errors (dirt, etc)that disappear when producing these same effects with digital means:



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Saul Bass Animating Modernist Design

story © Michael Betancourt | published August 28, 2011 | permalink | TwitThis Digg Facebook StumbleUpon  |  Print



Motion Graphics

Saul Bass (1920 1996) was the first of the new title designers to emerge in the 1950s, setting the precedent for those who followed. He moved to Hollywood in 1946 after spending time in New York as a student working and learning graphic design. Once in Hollywood, he worked as a graphic designer, title designer, visual consultant, and director of both short films and one feature, reflecting the basic paradigm shifts underway in the 1950s and continuing through the 1970s as Hollywood production abandoned the industrial model of the studio system. He would ultimately produce fifty-nine title sequences between 1954 and 1996, revealing the influence of Modernist graphic design in his engagement with both static and motion elements on screen.




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On Knowlton & VanDerBeek's Computer Animations

story © Michael Betancourt | published August 21, 2011 | permalink | TwitThis Digg Facebook StumbleUpon  |  Print



Avant-GardeMovies

Kenneth C. Knowlton (1931 ) worked in the Computer Techniques Research Department at Bell Labs in Murray Hill, New Jersey starting in 1962; he collaborated with experimental animator Stan VanDerBeek (1927 1984) on film experiments done in the artist-in-residency program. This was concerned with the use of computers to create graphics, and while there he produced twelve films between 1963 and 1967. He developed the first programming language specifically meant for animation: BEFLIX, a portmanteau of bell flicks. The animations this language created used a limited number of pixels arranged into a grid 252 by 184 in size, with seven shades of grey. Finished films had color added through optical printing.




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CVM's "Research"

story © Michael Betancourt | published August 19, 2011 | permalink | TwitThis Digg Facebook StumbleUpon  |  Print



Visual Music

This is a response to some misinformation being spread about my work on this site by the "Center for Visual Music."

This could be read as an example of how not to do history if you're supposedly an archive or other historical organization. Read on, and see the absurdity....




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Abstract Film & Video: The Contemporary Period

story © Michael Betancourt | published August 14, 2011 | permalink | TwitThis Digg Facebook StumbleUpon  |  Print



Avant-GardeMovies

There was only a brief consideration of the contemporary period of US abstract film/video in 3 periods of Abstract Film and Video, but its analysis bears greater expansion. By focusing on the dominant characteristics of the three periodsexperimentation, consolidation and institutionalizationthe marginal position of abstract film emerges clearly at the start of the third period. The potential contemporary period reverses this marginalization, and so deserves a longer discussion.




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The 3 Periods of Abstract Film & Video in the US

story © Michael Betancourt | published August 7, 2011 | permalink | TwitThis Digg Facebook StumbleUpon  |  Print



Avant-GardeMovies

Because understanding the present requires an awareness of the past, this discussion considers the broad development of abstract motion pictures over the course of the twentieth century. Within this larger history, it is possible to identify three distinct phases to the emergence and consolidation of abstraction as a specific genre of animation.




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