82 years ago in Special Effects history…

King Kong bw

Here is a posed publicity still from the original 1933 “King Kong”.  King Kong and the Tyrannosaur are posed stop-motion puppets, perhaps 18″ tall.  Foreground and background elements are painted.  There is no scene exactly like this in the actual film, Kong never picks up a log, jamming it into the Tyrannosaur’s mouth, although maybe it would’ve been a good idea.  For you collectors, click on the picture and you will get the full size version which you can copy.

Adam Beckett (1950-1979), Infinite Animator

Beckett_webI met Adam Beckett at CalArts (California Institute of the Arts) in 1971.  He was a talented artist, animator and possessed an eccentric “larger than life” personality.  His work was clearly influenced by 1960s & 1970s counter-culture and erotica.  His output was prodigious considering his brief lifespan (1950-1979) and he was also legendary for his astonishing skills with the animation camera and optical printer, employing techniques which led many to believe he used a computer (which he absolutely did not).  The Iota Center along with the Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences have worked diligently to restore his significant works, which are available in DVD format.  The main part of  “Sausage City” (everything excluding the opening and ending credits) was created using 48 drawings, which were repeated as a loop.  However, on each repetition, Beckett would add more detail to the drawings, so that you can actually see the complex loop evolve.  Given the elaborate detail of the drawings, many days, weeks, months (who knows?) were required to complete the cycle, along with many trips to the animation camera, all while holding off on processing the film until completion.  At least, this is what I remember Beckett telling me!

Maurizio Pollini wins the 1960 Chopin Competition

A young Maurizio Pollini (age 18) takes home 1st prize in the prestigious Chopin Piano Competition held every 5 years in Warsaw, Poland.  The competition is devoted to the works of a single composer, Frédéric Chopin (duh).   The great Arthur Rubinstein, who led the jury, declared Pollini the winner of the competition, allegedly saying: “that boy can play the piano better than any of us”.