Cyclia || Cataclysm || Imagination Unlimited

Just imagine the dizzying awesomeness of a nightclub like Cyclia…!

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Footage for Cyclia, c. 1968 . Jim Henson . Henson and his colleagues shot thousands of feet of 16mm film for an unproduced one-hour film called Cataclysm, which was to be shown from multiple projectors around the interior of Cyclia to create an immersive environment. . Cyclia was a concept for a nightclub that Henson developed, where the walls, floors and ceiling would be broken into faceted, crystal-like shapes onto which films would be projected, a sea of images choreographed to the volume and type of music played. The project was eventually abandoned but not before Henson had the change to shoot thousands of feet of film. . From The Jim Henson Exhibition: Imagination Unlimited, which I caught in Queens back in 2018. The exhibition is traveling – current stop: Albuquerque Museum, until April 19, 2020. . . #fromthearchives #nyc #queens #astoria #museumofthemovingimage #experimentalfilm #jimhenson #cyclia #cataclysm #psychedelicart #experimentalart #futura #futuristic #visionaryart #visionary #mobilevideo #pixel2video #soundon🔊

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From the Jim Henson Exhibition: Imagination Unlimited

Museum of the Moving Image, Astoria, New York

May 13th, 2018

Tools of the Trade || Miniatures, Models & Costumes

No CGI – only superior craftsmanship. And utmost respect.

Moon and Discovery Spacecraft Miniatures, 2010 (1984)

The Discovery spacecraft model for 2010 had to be reconstructed by analyzing film clips from 2001: A Space Odyssey, since the original model used in that film had been destroyed. The shot of the Discovery spacecraft moving past the moon was achieved with an optical printer, which combined elements of previously photographed images on a single, new negative. Optical printers have since been made obsolete by the advent of computer generated images.


Miniature of the Tyrell Skyscraper, Blade Runner (1982)

Because of the high cost of building full-scale sets, filmmakers often create realistic environments by combining life-size models or miniatures with live-action photography.

This construction is only one part of a very large and complex miniature of the Tyrell Skyscraper. When combined with atmospheric lightning, aerial-view camera movements and fire and smoke effects, this model appears, on film, to be part of an authentic cityscape.


Regan McNeil Mechanical Puppet, The Exorcist (1973)

The single most shocking image in The Exorcist occurs when the head of Regan MacNeil, played by Linda Blair, rotates a full 350 degrees. To achieve this shot, special effects makeup artist Dick Smith built a life-size dummy of Blair, complete with a mechanically controlled rotating head, engineering by effects specialist Marcel Vercoutere. To create the figure, Smith made a mold of Blair’s body and filled the mold with foam latres. The head has radio-controlled eyes that could be made to move during shooting.

Smith and others made the puppet’s mouth appear to move by photographing Linda Blair and then superimposing the image of her moving mouth onto the image of the puppet. This superimposition was done using an optical printer. Today, this sort of shot is achieved more efficiently with computer graphics.


Razor Glove, A Nightmare on Elm Street (1984-1991)
Costume designer, Dana Lyman
Mechanical effects designer, Jim Doyle, Theatrical Engines
Worn by Robert Englund

”Chest of Souls” Prosthesis
A Nigthmare on Elm Street 4: The Dream Master (1988)

Four separate makeup effects teams were hired for the fourth sequel of the Nightmare on Elm Street series. Steve Johnson, of XFX, Inc., was responsible for the spectacular final sequence, in which Freddy Krueger is killed. Johnson used mechanical puppets attached to actor Robert Englund, as well as tween-foot-high groin-to-neck puppet of the character with fully articulated arms.

The ”Chest of Souls” was worn by Englund in long shots. The sweater was used on the oversize mechanical puppet. Inside the torso of the puppet were four assistants and actors, who thrust their arms out and shredded the sweater to created the effect of souls trhying to escape Krueger’s body. The torso was made out of enormous strips of specially ordered dental dam (the stretchy rubber that dentists use), with skin-textured foam latex set on top. The hole in the middle of the sweater was covered with the dental dam to simulate Freddy’s skin.


Left to right:

1/ Dress worn by Hedy Lamarr as Delilah in Samson & Delilah (1949)
2/ Reconstruction of Costume worn by Diane Keaton as Annie Hall (1977)
3/Costume worn by Sarah Jessica Parker as Donna in Honeymoon in Vegas (1992)


Hat worn by Larry Hagman as J.R. Ewing in Dallas (1978-1991)


Figures made by Tony Walton for costume maker Barbara Matera to use as a guide in fabricating his elaborate designs for The Wiz (1978)


Museum of the Moving Image, Astoria, New York

May 13th, 2018

Moving Image || Tools of the Trade – part II

Advanced technologies may have rendered them museum pieces, but these marvels of engineering were made to last.

RCA Colour Broadcast Camera, Model TK-41C, 1954

Fearless Camera Company Panoram Dolly, c. 1940, with Houston-Fearless Cradle Head, date unknown

This camera was the first commercially produced for colour television; it was the industry standard for fifteen years. A beam-splitting prism directed the red, green and blue elements of the picture to their own three-inch-diametre image orthicon camera tubes. At 310 pounds, the weight of the camera head and viewfinder severely limited the camera’s mobility.


International Projector Corporation 35mm Simplex E-7, 1938, with RCA Photophone Soundhead, MI-9054A and Hall and Connolly Lamp, dates unknown


Western Electric Vitaphone System 35mm Universal Base Projector, 1927, with Vitaphone Soundtrack Disc for The Desert Song (1929)

The projector exhibited here was originally used at the Aldine Theatre in Philadelphia, and is one of the only surviving Vitaphone projectors that is still operational. It has both a phonograph player for soundtrack discs and an optical sound head built into the projector. The projector is set up as if it were going to screen a film using a soundtrack disc. The record player and projector as powered by the same motor, which makes it possible for the sound and image to play in synchronicity.


Nicholas Power Company 35mm Cameragraph No. 6B, with Universal Model a Soundhead, c. 1928

When talkies arrived, optical soundheads were added to existing silent film projectors, such as the Nicholas Power Company’s No. 6B. Shown here is the Model A Universal soundhead, which made licensed use of technology patented by the Jenkins and De Forest television companies.


Duplex Motion Picture Industries 35mm Step Printer, c. 1920

Manufactured in Long Island City, this step printer was an industry standard for many years. Print density could be controlled automatically.


Museum of the Moving Image, Astoria, New York

May 13th, 2018

Busted

Head Sculptures, Starman, 1984
Designer and maker, Dick Smith
Actor, Jeff Bridges

In an early sequence of Starman, an alien assumes a human form by growing from infancy to adulthood overnight. Designer Dick Smith fabricated more than one hundred full-size heads, each one conveying a minute step in the transition. The sculptures were photographed sequentially, occupying only a single frame of film. The result was a fluid, five-second transformation enlivened with eye blinks and a slight head turn. Today, an effect like this one would be created digitally.

Museum of the Moving Image, Astoria, New York

May 13th, 2018

SCAD || Moving Mountains

legend
poetry
spoken word
image
inspiration
moving

Stills from ”Moving Mountains”
a film by Yang Fudong


Yang Fudong is an important figure in the contemporary art scene and independent cinema movement in China. His films and photographic work, often derived from traditional Chinese painting, examine tensions between urban and rural, historic and present, worldliness and intellectualism.

The artist often presents works of epic scale and duration that invite the viewer into a richly crafted and layered experience. The exhibition features the U.S. premiere of his most recent film, “Moving Mountains,” a 46-minute, black-and-white film, as well as photographs from the film set, drawings and props.

The film is inspired by the ancient tale of a man, whom some called foolish, for seeking to move a mountain, and extolls the virtues of perseverance and collective action. The artist makes this story a poetic reflection upon human nature and the shifting values to which it can be subjected. Visually, the artist drew inspiration from a masterful ink painting, “The Foolish Old Man Removes the Mountains,” produced in the early 1940s by Xu Beihong. The film mirrors the spirit of endurance that Xu Beihong’s painting extolls. Yet, “Moving Mountains” also explores a new interpretation by taking the old story of the foolish man as an outlet for musings on contemporary realities. The spirit of motherhood is also central in the film and embodied in a character played by the famous Chinese actress Wan Qian.

SCAD Museum of Art – Savannah, GA

April 4th, 2018

Broadway by Light (1958), a film directed by William Klein

”I did this book on New York: black-and-white, grungy photographs. People said, “What a put-down–New York is not like that. New York is a million things, and you just see the seamy side.” So I thought I would do a film showing how seamy New York was, but intellectually, by doing a thing on electric-light signs. How beautiful they are, and what an obsessive, brainwashing message they carry. And everybody is so thankful for this super spectacle. Anyway, I think it’s the first Pop film.” – William Klein (source)

It’s been almost three years since we came to live next to Times Square – just off, still ”too close for comfort”. I’ve been crisscrossing Broadway every working day of the week, at least twice; sometimes during the weekends too. I have seen it by day and by night, sweating in the sizzling summer heat and glimmering after the rain, covered in snow and confetti, flooded with crowds and quasi-empty (yes, it does happen – rarely, but it does). But seeing it through Mr. Klein’s lens adds a whole new poetic dimension to the reality of Broadway, as we know it today.

It begins with these words:

”Les amĂ©ricaines ont inventĂ© le jazz pour se consoler de la mort, la star pour se consoler de la femme.

Pour se consoler de la nuit, ils ont inventĂ© Broadway…”

Click on the stills gallery for a larger view or, better yet, bedazzle yourself by watching this beautiful short film (only about 10′ long), here:

March 8th, 2018

Hollywood dogs

*Resident Postings* on the bulletin board of my building’s website:
 

3/2/19 6:30 PM
Dear person on 28th floor who leaves their poor dog home to bark for hours:please come home and take care of your poor dog. It does not like to be home alone or it has to go to the bathroom this is EVERY day! I feel for your dog!

3/14/19 8:36 PM
The dog barked Sat night for hours, its barking again now if you can’t afford to have a dog walker and work late or have a busy social life you should again get a dog walker I am VERY concerned for you dog you do not seem to be concerned because its barking as usual and you are not home. I am also going to make another complaint about you because this is animal abuse!PS: no more postings about the barking dog, all quiet from that front. Wish it would have been the same with the sirens…

PS1: images are from March 4th, 2018 from Loews Theatres, Lincoln Square. The film showing was Phantom Thread, a masterpiece directed by Paul Thomas Anderson, starring Daniel Day-Lewis, Vicky Krieps & the exquisite Lesley Manville.

It would take a while longer to watch the Isle of Dogs; it was only released on the 23rd of March.

March 4th, 2018