Sunday, January 29, 2006


the first time I met elfriede fischinger was at one of
june foray's parties in summer 1980. in case some of
you don't know about the FISCHINGER case, here
are some details -
produces in germany in the late 20s/early 30s a series
of abstract animated shorts with classical music. close
contacts to some of the BAUHAUS artists. leaves
germany in 1936, works in hollywood for paramount,
MGM. in 1939 has plans for a 'filmkonzert' with leopold
stokowski, sketches for bach's TOCCATA. stokowsky
pitches the idea to DISNEY and FANTASIA is born.
fischinger is hired, works for a short time at the disney-
studio. leaves, frustrated because of artistic different
views of the project. (I understand him so much!)
he works through the war years for the guggenheim-
fund, with orson welles and several museums in the
US and europe. produces several abstract animated
shorts as well as a few stop motion commercials.
he dies in 1967 in los angeles.
very early in my student years I got to know his films.
incredible ideas, computer animation done by hand
70 years ago. and I always admired his artistic integrity,
to leave disney because he didn't like what they did
with his toccata ideas.
so, elfriede, his widow, and me and my wife had lots
of things to talk about. we met several times in her
home in the hollywood hills, filled with all the
memories of a lifetime. it was like a dream, to meet
oscar through his wife's memories, anekdotes, family
photographs and of course his movies. I will never
forget these moments. elfriede spoke in a mixture
of her german home dialect 'hessisch' and english.
and she was the sweetest grandma in the world. how
patient she showed us a lot of the animation for the
abstract 'STUDIES'in the mid 20s. I actually touched
some original drawings. some years later she gave
all his artwork to the frankfurt-filmmuseum where
you can admire it now. I admired her so much about
taking care of his life-work she had helped to
achieve. she continued to attend festivals around
the world with his films and - kept him alive.
I bought from her flawless technicolor 16mm prints
of most of her husbands movies. and I still watch them
once in a while. - here is to you, - oscar + elfriede !
his movies had a tremendous influence on my work,
more than disney. through my student years and even
later I did a lot of abstract animation. next to oscar
fischinger's work I admired LEN LYE and NORMAN
looking back I am happy that I did not grow up as
a complete disney freak. all the surrounding different
art influences were way more important for my
work, - and they still are.

Saturday, January 21, 2006


these are the last ones I have prepared
as fonts to use in my computer-font
collection. the next posts will be about
the new designs

Friday, January 20, 2006

for fun...

in some of my earlier posts I mentioned that
I like calligraphy. before letraset came on
the market I got used to do my own lettering
and play with different variations.
during my work in animation I designed several
title-logos, some were used, others were not.
you might have seen ALADDIN and ROGER RABBIT.
during my work on MULAN I used a very unusual
lettering for all my designs. they liked it
and a computer experienced artist created the
first DISNEY movie specific font. the font was
only on our computers in-house available.
it took me a while to find out how he did it.
but then I bought the software FONTOGRAPHER
and created all my own fonts they were in the
drawers for years. some of them I sold to
AGFA-MONOTYPE/ITC. but most of them are in my
own collection.
here are some...

in one of the next posts I will show the other
about 20 or 30 fonts I have prepared. it takes
a while, because it is my secret hobby.

Tuesday, January 17, 2006

books 1

apparently there is some interest in the
illustrators I mentioned. I will post once in a
while some books from my collection that
I can recommend.
the first is one of the best caricature artists
I know - OLAF GULBRANSSON. he was one
of the main artists of the german political-
satirical publication SIMPLIZISSIMUS. this
picture magazine was published in germany
from 1896 until 1944. some of the most
important artists of that time contributed
their caricatures and illustrations -
KOLLWITZ, and more.

here are 4 titles with a lot of illustrations -

by ludwig veit
prestel verlag muenchen 1980/1986
ISBN 3-7913-0530-1

fackeltraeger verlag hannover 1955

bertelsmann verlag guetersloh 1950

ph.reclam verlag leipzig 1939

you might have problems to find these books,
that's why I am giving you some addresses where
I found some of my rare books -

I will continue soon with more titles.

Sunday, January 15, 2006

early CGI

from the late seventies on I produced a lot of animation
for the biggest TV-station in germany, WDR. children-
specials, titles and a lot of political satirical stuff. looking back
I think most of it was not festival-quality, but taking in
account the little time I had to finish it, it was ok.
time was the biggest problem, the show was already
printed 2 weeks in advance in the TV news magazines
and I had not even started with the animation.
through that work I met a lot of very interesting writers
for political programs and that added a very important
part to my education.

at the same time I spent at least 1 month every year in
L.A., had a lot of friends in the animation industry there
and got informed about the latest technology. through
my close contact to june foray I was invited to a number
of studios, like LESTER NOVROS and BOB ABEL.
in 1981 BOB ABEL's studio was doing a lot of slit-scan-
technique work. maybe some of you remember the
incredible commercials with that camera effect. I was
stunned by the look achieved with such a simple trick, -
but, you needed a computer controlled camera. of
course there was no such thing in germany at that time.

then TRON happened in 1982, and a lot of the stunning
visuals were done by ABEL.
I had no idea what they were talking about. but the TRON-
world was so incredible, I could not even imagine how it
had been produced.

the same year in sept. there was a special issue of the
MILLIMETER magazin about special effx in commercials.
it gave me a lot of information about the latest develop-
ments. all that, ABEL, TRON and the new tv-station logo-
look got me hooked on this new w o r l d of design.
back in germany nobody understood what I was talking
about. but I could do a lot of new program-titles copying
that CGI-look with primitive own invented camera
tricks. it was a bit depressing, because I saw this fast train
passing by, and I was still in the caves.

finally in the year 1984 all that changed. the german TV-
station 'ARD 1' needed a new logo and a new corporate
identity. because the station I worked with, WDR, was
the biggest and wealthiest in a group of 9 at that time,
they got the job and had to come up with the ideas.
I was approached by them early 1984 and did tons of
sketches. always that new CGI-technology in mind.
I wanted the new logo to be 3-dimensional, animated
and manipulated in a completely new way. it took a while
and lots of compromises. together with the head of the
design department at that station I started to make
contacts to the most promising CGI productions in the US.
I had to finish very detailed storyboards - more key-
frames -, and they had to be approved by the executives.
the production costs were so incredible high that
every little piece of animation and visual effect had to
be defined to the smallest detail to avoid expensive
misunderstandings. there was no REAL TIME checking

we finally found the right partner to translate the
design into moving CG-images in CRANSTON-CSURI
in columbus, ohio. their showreel was just mind blowing.
and so it all started again - in late summer 1984. I went
with the head-designer of the tv station to cranston csuri,
the work had to be supervised by me the following months
and finally the first CG designs showed on german TV screens
late 1984. the new 'ARD 1' design was born with the
technology possible at that time.

it's amazing what happened since then in CGI. today we
don't even notice the difference between reality and
CGI in live action movies. in animation most studios stopped
traditional 2-D animation and only produce CG-animation.
in the early days the CG-images looked not as perfect as
today. but you could feel the d e s i g n , that is what I am
missing today. all I see is a copy of the real world, realistic
textures and shapes. hopefully that will change within the
n e x t 20 years!

Saturday, January 7, 2006

PERRY No.366

this is about nibs. I am not sure if most of you probably
younger readers know what I am talking about. they are
made out of steel, very sharp and pretty small. you dip
the sharp end in ink and in case you have a good day, you
can do some damn good sketches with them. some of my
favourite artists like ronald searle, ralph steadman,
sullivant, heinrich kley and a lot more used
them. they call the result - a PEN AND INK DRAWING.

since I started my studies I got kind of hooked on
these little things. with the right chinese ink you
could create some really interesting drawings, with
splatters all over the sheet - what gave it a real
expensive art look. the good steel nibs were hard to
find. the cheaper brass or tin ones broke very
fast, and the drawings did not look good either.
at least that's what I was convinced of.

in 1985 me and my wife spent our first christmas vacation
in MADEIRA, a beautyful portugiese island in the southern
atlantic ocean. we had enough of the cold german winter,
and madeira was like early summer. anyway
it was a shocking experience as well, to be confronted
with so much poverty, hopefully that has changed in
the last 20 years.
in funchal, the capital of the island, there was the
only major store, like we had seen them in germany
in the early fifties. it was a store, not very big,
that sold everything, and in one corner I saw a
glass case with some boxes of nibs, they looked like
a 100 years old, together with some english parker ink.
I was hynotized.

finally I asked one of the sales ladies how much
the nibs were. she misunderstood and told me after
a long search the price for a single nib. I forgot,
but it was about 2, 3 cents. my god, I could not
believe my luck. I said to her, I buy all 4 boxes.
maybe about 800 nibs. she just stared at me. like
we might stare at an alien. after a while she said
she could not sell them all. why? well,someone else
might need some. I was really surprised. I had not
heard something so human in a while. I tried to
convince her - but they are in that glass-case for
a 100 years and you did not sell too many of them,
at least you don't have to worry about future sales.
she had to ask her boss. to make it short, I bought
them all. took me 2 hours. but it was worth it.
and I bought some of the very old ink bottles as well.
there were 2 or 3 where the ink was a solid block in
the beautyful glass. they did not want to sell those -
why? told them, I love the bottles. - but the ink is dry!
I don't care, just want the bottles -it went on and on.
had to come back. and I got the bottles as well. still
have all that stuff. today - after 20 years. and use it.
gave a lot of the nibs away to friends.
but I keep most of them as a treasure.

now the 2.part of the story continues in london
in 1987, when I worked there on ROGER RABBIT. by pure
accident I found this tiny shop near covent garden in
a side street. it had tons of nibs in its window display,
as you can see in thepicture. very nice decorated.
nibs hundreds of years old, made from porcellane,nibs in
all sizes and materials. the shop owner looked more like
a doctor in his white coat, he must have been about 70 years
old. and he loved what he had in his shop. boxes and drawers
full with nibs and inkbottles. I just stared speechless.
after a while we started to talk, and he showed me some
very special nibs. most of his clients were some of the
most famous drawing artists from all over the world, like
ronald searle, ralph steadman and gerald scarfe.
of course he showed me ronald searle's favourite nibs.
and I bought 10 of them, hoping that my drawings might
improve now. and he explained some of the most precious
porcellane pieces and how they were used. it was like
being in ali baba's treasure cave, with the genie showing
me around. the nibs I bought were way more expensive than
the madeira ones. but they had a magic spell, at least
I hoped they had.
a few years later I tried to find this magic toy shop again.
but it was gone.I wonder what happened to the
genie and his treasures.