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Norman McLaren's pioneering geometric animations

Norman McLaren was a Scottish animator who, from the early 1930s, produced a huge amount of pioneering film works. Drawing directly onto film stock and making use of new multilayering and colour techniques, he produced some fantastically stylised animations, drawing in abstract and surrealist influences.

Check out this animation of ghosts and ghouls having a party when the clock strikes midnight, soundtracked by Saint-Saëns' Danse Macabre. Watch out for the charming Pacman/Galaga-esque visual cast list!

Spook Sport (1940)

He also produced a number of education films and advertisements, for the British General Post Office and National Film Board of Canada amongst others. The Obedient Flame (1939) was a promotional short for British Gas, extolling the virtues of gas power for housewives, and has that wonderful mannered delivery and diagrammatics that never fails to provide amusement.

Still from The Obedient Flame Still from The Obedient Flame


He also experimented extensively with the opto-acoustic techniques used by László Moholy-Nagy and others: drawing onto film and translating the results into sound, using a sound-on-film techniques and a Moviola device to synchronise both tracks. Pen Point Percussion (1951) is a brilliant documentary about the technique with several sound examples. Dots (1940) is a film produced using these visual and sonic methods together.

Dots (1940)

via Tom