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Saturday, 26 January 2008

Lucy Lee "Bird Becomes Bird"










Sometimes a movie, like any work of art, stands apart for its beauty and integrity. Such a film is today's featured movie by Lucy Lee. A graduate of the National Film School, Lucy had what can only be described as a glorious work placement: "I went to Yekaterinburg, Russia to make my graduation film, in the studios where Alexanda Petrov worked. I learned a huge amount from the people there particularly my Art Director Andrey Zolotuchin." Any animator associated for any time with the great Petrov would benefit from the experience. The result was Lucy's 1997 Bird Becomes Bird a most maturely conceived piece about a young girl's absorption with the behaviour of a bird and the influence this has on her. It commences with the comical behaviour of a heron-like bird on the ice. There is however a metamorphosis in behaviour as the bird turns from clumsy ice scrambler to acrobatic swimmer and graceful flyer. So immersed is the child in the bird's behaviour that she is oblivious of her own safety. I actually alighted on Lucy's work after viewing another film of hers and will post the results of those considerations at a later date. Her website is more attractive and comprehensive than almost any other of the myriad of film-makers' sites I have visited when compiling the Animation Blog. It contains detailed analysis of her work, both her own perspectives and those of various critics, gorgeous screenshots, full cast and technique details, sales and biography. It is an object lesson in site design. And, in case I forget, full films and segments for the on-line viewer. For approximately £8 including postage one can buy a DVD of her work. But back to the film in hand. The painting by Lucy and Andrey is subtle and delicate, the music/voices/sound very professional. The ensuing description of the techniques used are not in my words but from the excellent website detail: "Hand painted under a rostrum camera, using ‘straight ahead’ technique of animating. Images are made on a multiplane bed with translucent oil paints, mirrors, gels, paper, vaseline and various others bits and pieces. The human characters were videoed and the animation was sketched onto animation cell, then used as the base image to paint from. It took 2 people about 3 months to paint." This is lazy blogging on my part but very helpful to would-be animators. Of course would-be animators might not be able to emulate the sumptuous light and colour in the sunsets, water, fish - as well as the effortless movement of the animated figures. I am presently writing an extended study of Petrov's movies. Lucy has obviously been influenced by his manner of working whilst possessing the talent to progress in her own distinctive style. I shall have to purchase the DVD!

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