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Mar

5

“Piano-Forte”: Fluid, Hand-Made, Low-Tech Animation, Inspired by Robert Breer

By Pell Osborn

As a graduate student in 1973-74, I first watched the animation of Robert Breer, most memorably his wonderful 1957 abstract short, “A Man and His Dog Out for Air.” The playful changes of direction, thrust and scale, the abstract elements in constant transition, the brief but riveting appearances of the titular Man and his Dog, all left an indelible crease in my brain.

Reared on the raucous action of cartoons by the Warner Brothers and Fleischer Studios, and amazed by the technical heights the Disney studio scaled, I found in Breer’s “A Man and His Dog Out for Air” a great draught of freedom, a scruffy, energizing revelation.

“In addition to everything else, animation can do this, too?!” I thought…

My animation teacher, Eric Martin, introduced the class to Breer’s highly effective, low-tech approach: Breer used 4”x 6” index cards with a minimum of technical clutter. For maximum smoothness and minimal expense, I’ve championed this approach ever since.

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