Reader’s Letters


Dear David,
I just thought I would write and ask if you read the letter in the December edition of Movie Maker magazine from the American gentleman about ‘Animating with Video’? It seems that somebody has already come up with a practical answer to the problems of animating using video.

I feel that it is important that if possible the readers of Animator’s newsletter (and potential numbers of the Animators Association) should do something, to encourage these developments.

Although the price of the set-up suggested is still well above anything I could afford (and I would suggest, above anything anybody just beginning animation would be prepared to pay) but just the same it is a step in the right direction. With the present uncertainty over the future of film I don’t feel we should be complacent, and just say let’s use film while its here

It would be a good idea if group of people were to approach someone like Cresta Electronics and for an opening suggestion, ask them if they would be prepared to make such conversion device for video recorders should the animator’s art be threatened by the demise of film.
Yours sincerely,
Morris Lakin,

EDITOR: You may be interested to know Neilson Hordell Ltd have produced what they describe as a budget priced video animation stand aimed at industrial and commercial video production companies, line testing for animators, Universities and colleges and all applications where step-by-step recording and playback is required directly with a magnetic recording medium such as video tape or disc.

Quoting from their current price list the Base and Column with standard copy lights is £800. Add to this a table top with fitted 12 inch drawing disc at £400 or an Animation Compound and Table Top at £2,090, Then you will need a video system such cm the JVC KY 1900 camera, CR 8200 U-matic editing recorder, monitor and stop-frame control unit with frame counter at £6,950.

So you see the technology is there for those with the money. As we all, know it takes a mass market to bring the price down. That market won’t be found in this country among the animators. We can only hope that other kinds of video users create a demand for a single frame exposure device. Perhaps we should all be writing letters to the many video mags on the market saying how great it would be to have a single frame exposure device. Then the word might filter back to the manufacturers.


Dear David,
Just read the third issue of Animator’s newsletter, which I found particularly interesting, especially Lewis Cooper’s article on JOE SOAP, it has certainly encouraged me to have another bash at plasticine.

I think the formation of an Animators Association is a great idea, I have just sent off my member­ship form. It would be marvelous to be able to communicate with other animators.
Mr.N.L. Piper. Hanwell, London.


Dear Sir,
I read the article in issue 3 by Lewis Cooper on plasticine animation and I thought it was very interesting. I was very interested with what he said about making models walk or even stay standing up. A friend and I use tie downs in our films and this gets rid of the problem of the balancing of the model.

For people who don’t know what tie downs are here is a description and diagram of how they work. This method can he incorporated into the method of making wire armatures for animation puppets written by Colin Dunn in issue 3 of Animator’s newsletter. This method can be incorporated into plasticine models legs and by using an old table with holes drilled in it to accommodate the bolts.
I hope this can be useful to those struggling animators whose puppets keep taking a nose dive into the set and ruin hours of careful animation.

File a grove deep enough to take a long piece of wire.


The wire is braided around the nut until tight.

Twist the wire until pointing upwards to make a foot and leg.

The finished foot held in place by a wing nut and screw on an animation board which has been drilled with holes.

Yours sincercly,
Neil Gorton. Formby, Merseyside.


Dear David,
On reading your Newsletter 2 it was noticed that you are listing addresses for overseas competitions.

It would be appreciated if you would list our festival amongst the other festivals.
16th Melbourne International Film Festival, 18 Moore Street, East Brighton, 3187, Melbourne,
Australia. Closing Date 1st June 1983.

Yours faithfully,
R. Manser.
Publicity Coordinator.


Dear David,
Thank you for issue 2 of Animator’s newsletter.

It’s great to finally have a magazine just for us ‘Animation Nuts’. There’s not much left for us now, with Super 8 Filmmaker and Film Making leaving us; and even Movie Maker having an each way bet on film and video.

I’ll be looking forward to each issue.

Well, all the best to you in ‘Pommy Land’, I hope you’ll have a White Christmas. As for me I’ll spend Christmas on the beach again this year; with the flies, and the mossies (mosquitoes) and the sharks! And don’t forget the sunburn.

It’s not really that bad but I wouldn’t mind experiencing a snowy Christmas just once.
All the best, Bob Hanlon. N.S.W. Australia.


Dear friend,
I wish to you a good now year, 1983. I am interested in ANIMA. I live far away but I hope to participate by post. I am sending the membership form to Mr. Neil Carstairs.

I am a subscriber to ‘Plaisirs du Cinema’, a Movie Maker French issue, perhaps you know it. I enclose a copy of page 31, issue number 59, with a paragraph talking about Lewis Cooper. I do not know if you can read the French language. I have translated into English this short paragraph.
Yours sincerely,
Parnon Agullo Sola. Tarragona, Spain.

THE CUTTING: ….; et le grand oublie du palmares, l’Anglais Lewis Cooper et son “Life and death” reussissant l’exploit de parer ses visages de pate a modeler d’une intense emotion.

THE TRANSLATION:….; and the great forgotten in the roll of rewards, the English Lewis Cooper and his “Life and death” getting the exploit decorating with a great emotion it’s characters’ faces of plasticine.

EDITORS NOTE: The article was about films at the 7th Festival Internatio­nal du nouveau cinema super 8 Caracas.


Dear David
Thank you for issue number 3 of Animators Newsletter – a very good read. 1 have posted off my ANIMA membership form to Neil Carstairs and I hope he gets a good response.

I’ll mention a couple of comments I had. I agree with his suggestions and your additions, except that I feel the film criticism/advice service would be impractical for various reasons. Also that, in a Festival, comments, criticisms and questions, would be better covered in conversation than in the organised way he suggests.

Re. David Osborne’s letter, I also think it would be a good idea to encourage juniors.
Best regards, Colin Dunn. Newbury, Berks.

EDITOR’S COMMENT: Yes, we are keen to encourage juniors to become good animators. ANIMA is offering a reduced membership fee of £3.00 to under 18s. This includes a subscription to Animator’s newsletter. Also Neil Carstairs has written to the producer of the BBC Young Film Makers competition asking him to pass details of ANIMA to any young animators they have entering.

If any reader has contact with a school or college in their area perhaps they could give them one of the ANIMA posters for their notice board. We will be glad to send copies to you or any school you name.


Animation, Movie Making, and Magical Entertaining, are my main hobbies, and, being retired, I now have plenty of time to devote to these purposes. I am no artist or freehand drawing expert, so cel use is definitely out for me.

I started out using geometric cutouts of coloured paper with some success, and then tried out models in a variety of ways. Being a gadget minded lad, I have devised various setups that have enabled mc to cheat a little in the formation of animated drawings and pictures, and also for overcoming other tricky results on film.

Plasticine modeling is also out for me, as I am far from expert in this respect. What I am looking for is something novel that has not been attempted before, but am only too willing to hear from anyone with an interest in animation. Let’s hope that we can all benefit from such an exchange of ideas.
Harold Chandler. Hamilton, New Zealand.

EDITORS COMMENT: ANIMA are organising a pen pal scheme in conjunction with the New Zealand Animators Club and full addresses of the NZ animators will be circulated to ANIMA members.


I read with interest about David Jefferson’s article on scenery in the making of his animated film MIND THAT BEND (Newsletter issue 3) and it recalled my own experiences with making the scenery for my puppet film HANSEL AND GRETEL which got a four star award in Movie Maker’s Ten Best, Top Five in New Zealand Federation of Movie Clubs Festival, First in Christ­church International Film Festival and Premier Award in New Zealand Animators Club Festival.

I first got the idea from listening to one of my children’s fairy stories on a 45 RPM record. When I heard this, I thought, there’s a good ready made sound track for a film as it had dialogue already interspersed with music so I taped it.

At first I wasn’t too happy with the voice as it sounded like a put on Yankee twang but my voice wasn’t any better so I let it go. I thought I would have trouble with copyright so I wrote to the record company and they told me that they had no copyright in New Zealand for that record so that became my sound track.

I recorded it on tape, timed each section and scripted my animation to fit the tape. After making all the scenery, which by the way, took more time than actually shooting the film as there were fowls and birds made out of plasticine (which I had to change occasionally when they melted from the heat of the lamps).
I had rubber dolls with wire skeletons which bent and stayed that way. I had trouble with these too as the wire skeleton broke with the continual bending and I had to replace them at different times. The biggest problem was that they all started out looking exactly the same. But by the time I had repainted the faces, put different hair on their heads and different clothing, they were passable. There were five characters, the father, the stepmother, the old witch, Hansel and Gretel.

I had great fun making this film, houses were made of cardboard and painted, the witches house was covered with licorice allsorts and ice cream wafers for tiles, lollipops for flowers. I made smoke come out of the chimney by puffing cigarette smoke through a tube. A fire was formed by a yellow car bulb with strips of cellophane stuck around it. The strips were animated by boring holes underneath and blowing air through with a vacuum cleaner.

The forest was made out of bush branches from the garden, and a night scene was created by putting a blue filter on the camera. Pictures for the interior walls were made from various postage stamps and framed with matchsticks.

In one scene I wanted to make Gretel cry with tears running down her face. I did a big close-up of the face and placed drops of glycerin in the eyes with an eye­dropper, rushing back to the camera and clicking at a fairly fast rate. I got this perfect at the first try.

Problems? I found out a lot of problems after the film was finished, others not until I had viewed it two or three tines. Logs of wood and furniture moved for no apparent reason, presumably having been moved during the shooting stage. The point is to keep the settings well pinned or glued down.

Green shrubbery wilted under the hot lights and you can’t notice it when shooting. These were quite noticeable but someone said that it looked as if the wind was moving them so I left it in.

I have made other animated films with cels, scratched on film and silhouette but I like puppets best. I think it’s the kick I get cut of making the sets and inventing gadgets to make it look real.
Tony Cox. Wellington, New Zealand.

Originally printed in Animator’s newsletter Issue 4 (Spring 1983)