Pinscreen Animation

Claire Parker and a Millions pins.

Chevaliers Budoir: Une nuit le Mont chauve 1933

“This is not about making entertainment product, its an art form.”

Pinscreen animation is made using a board containing thousands of pins, whose shadows on the board create the grey tones required to create a picture. When they were invented in France in the 1930’s it was seen as a new way to make moving images, pinscreen allows animators to create stunningly lifelike images which are shaded, opposed to the much simpler animation of the time. like stop-motion, the animator would make subtle changes on the pinscreen and in between this would photograph the screen with a camera.

A (potential?) precursor to one of the animations in Fantasia is called ‘A Night on Bald Mountain’ (1933) and is almost shot for shot the same.

The nose (1963) Much better animation and story, really starts to show off how pinscreen can look and the effect and range of shading it gives you for the time.

Le Paysagiste mindscape (1976) has a really beautiful illustrated look and feel to it, like something out of a picture book, really soft edges. The equipment will have been more advanced as well, and the film has been stored well so it has retained its look.

Orson Welles film (approx 7 minutes) Before the Law from the Trial (1962)

Nine Inch Nails – ‘Only’ (music video – possible cgi)

‘Pinscreen’ – “Commissioned by Ward Fleming, an inventor of the popular table-top version of pinscreen. This video was created, in Ward’s words, “to provide talking points while I address an audience of sighted and unsighted folk who will be attending the opening of my pinscreen exhibit at focusTerra a geology museum at Zurich ETH, the Swiss technical institute. The pinscreen is for use by the general public but more specifically is being displayed to give blind folks a tactile experience of fossil formation and the molding process.”

This type of animation reminds me of sand animation, where a similar effect can be created, and the sand is moved in between photographs (frames) like the pins are.

Here an artist performs for an audience in a theatre.

Ferenc Cako: Live Sand Animation @ the Seoul Animation Festival in 2003.

Sand stop-motion animation – ‘Promised land’

A young boy tries to warn his father of a looming spirit, the ErlKing, who is trying to lure the child away. Sand animation by Benny Zelkowicz, Music by Franz Schubert.

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