Welcome to the first installment of “Free Film Friday”! Every Friday we will be sharing a short free film for you to enjoy. Tell us what you think, and what you’d like to see us present…
I was listening to the radio the other day — some movie review program. In passing the host said something about the National Film Board of Canada having their films available for free online. They kept talking about the latest blockbuster, but I stopped listening. The NFB? Online? I scrambled over to my computer to verify this claim.
My early experiences with the NFB were horribly dull “educational” videos forced upon us in elementary school in the 80s. You know, the kind of thing the teacher chucks on during social studies when she’s forgotten to actually plan a lesson. I didn’t give them any thought at all until about eight years ago. I was wandering aimlessly through Toronto and stumbled into the NFB building, where you could sit and watch films all day long in little telephone booth styled screening rooms. Which is exactly what I did.
It never occurred to me to look for them online. But online they are, with over 1,600 films free to stream. How cool is that? And more importantly, does anyone actually know about this?
I love free films (and alliteration), so I thought, “What would be better than a Free Film Friday segment?” We can celebrate some of the cinematic wonders available online, and maybe see some things we’d otherwise miss. They won’t all be from the NFB, but that’s a great resource to get started with.
Without further ado, let me present to you an animated film by Norman McLaren that I was delighted to find online — Hen Hop.
Hen Hop was created in the 1940s using a technique called Cameraless Animation. As the name suggests, this form of animation does not involve a camera to capture images. Instead, the artist works directly on motion picture film stock: drawing, painting, scratching, etc, to create a series of images. Then it is run through a projector like a regular movie. An average animated movie has between 12 and 24 images (frames) shown per second. That means every second your eye is seeing 12-24 still pictures, which is so fast that it looks like continuous movement.
So keep in mind that McLaren hand-drew thousands of little images in this 3+ minute video, directly on to tiny strips of film. How is that for patience and perseverance? And who doesn’t love the NFB intro that sounds like cheesy space alien sound effects?
What do you think? Send us a comment with your film review.
“Norman McLaren drawing on film – 1944” © Creative Commons