Thursday, March 17, 2011

Technical Reveal

The Hayfamzone Blog is pleased to present its first (and last?) guest column. Mark Plastrik sent me this message over on ebay and I was amazed to learn that he was involved with working on the beautiful opening titles of the 1978 Superman movie. He reveals something so technical about the work that went into producing those titles that I'm not even sure what he's talking about (but maybe you will be). I invite you to remind yourself how great that Superman opening was by looking here, and then off you'll go into Mark's Wonderland:

pokin' 'round yer blog-zone - noted yer 'preciation of Fleischer 'toons - well, my Grandpa Max did some Popeye and Felix artwork back in the '30s - got both my father (Mark Sr., optical camera) and his identical twin bro (Mort, sound editor) into film biz in the 50's/60's - dad's been gone over quarter century, but still comes up in the IMBd data-base (believe it or not, so do I . . . see
- my late Uncle Mort had a whole buncha Popeye "pencil-test" animation artwork . . . until they were stolen in the late 80's!

Yes, I worked 5 years at me ol' man's optical film lab (Computer Opticals . . . the computer did not produce the art/effects, just ran, with ultimate precision, the camera and projection heads of a classic Oxberry step-printer) We became hot in the early 80s, especially after the Superman, The Motion Picture main titles (also did titles fer Alien, Flash Gordon, a whole slew of Woody Allens and, yes, XANADU - where I got my one-and-only screen credit (Animation Camera), ergo the listing at IMBd (we didn't design, just hacked the elements t'gether following someone else's "vision").

Dad was a "tech-genius" - those ground-breaking Superman main titles required multiple runs over the same frames to marry those "streaks" to the titles themselves, PLUS, as each one faded away a new one waz zoomin' in at the edges - this "overlap" meant ALL had to be produced in one flawless string (NO pick-ups!) - How did he do it? . . . with a carton of Kents and a gallon of cheap scotch whiskey as fuel, Dad unplugged the phones and churned the furshlugginer stinker out solo in a marathon fifteen hour shoot!!

My main role was to "layout" the shoot on paper as a schematic for the camera-man to follow, unfortunately, I was, to coin a phrase, less-than-diligent - my frequent errors meant hours of wasted effort and redos - unlike today's digital/video world, we had to wait for the next morning's "dailies" to see those gaffes - like a certain barbaric buffoon, I "erred" a bit TOO much . . . in fact, Dad eventually FIRED ME!!!! (I believe his exact quote was "you're a poet, not a hack like me . . . so go find your true calling" . . . still lookin'!)


At 6:44 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hey, Brian. Thanks for the reminder of how great those credits were. One other point; I watched the youtube link and admit I'd forgoten about the great character actors, from Ned Beatty all the way back to Trevor Howard, who appeared in that film. I'll have to rent it over summer break. - Joe D.


Post a Comment

<< Home