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The Animated Bird ABV2

One day at ABV2, I was looking at some rushes of a film that Russell Hurley had directed with a man from the Bristol-based B.B.C. Wild Life Unit.  He had come to make a film about Australian birds.

It was obvious that the cameraman would be former Disney man Frank Few (click on the link for my article on Frank).  Frank had developed a method of shooting birds without scaring them off.  He would find his bird, start shooting and then with the camera “on” switch locked into position, he would attempt to retire away from the bird so as not to scare it.

What this meant was that when the bird finally flew away, it would be a few seconds before Frank could get back to the camera to switch it off.  This I saw in the shot and had an idea for a small joke.  I took the scene, cut the end off where we could see a branch without a bird on it.  I found a spot on the film where the bird fluttered his wings before settling down again.  At this point I joined on the film I had taken from the back (it being identical with the front of the scene).  I started to draw on several frames, using a black grease pencil, in which I showed some crude fluttering wings to illustrate the arrival of the bird on the branch.  I was amazed how real it looked.

A grease pencil (UK chinagraph pencil) is made...

Image via Wikipedia

I left it on the machine for Russell Hurley to see.  He liked it so much, he decided to use it.  He told no-one and it was broadcast.  Not a soul enquired how a cameraman could set his camera up aimed at an empty branch of a tree on which a bird would conveniently land in the middle of the frame in a perfectly composed shot.

I wonder if, in ensuing years, the black pencil rubbed off the original?

© Terence Gallacher and, 2011.  Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Terence Gallacher and with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

For other articles about the ABC click here.

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