MATRIXSYNTH: Norman McLaren's hand-drawn sounds


Monday, September 04, 2023

Norman McLaren's hand-drawn sounds


video upload by Robotussin Vintage Synths

"Scottish-Canadian animator Norman McLaren developed a technique of painting onto the optical soundtrack area of the film negatives of his animations.

The shapes would then make drones and buzzes when played through a special type of projector. He used the technique to create experimental soundtracks to his animations.

It's similar to Daphne Oram's technique of turning shapes into sound – though hers, which she called Oramics, was more complex, with dedicated machines that read shapes on the entire area of the 35mm film, rather than just the little strip that contains the soundtrack.

You can see the results in the third video above, an extract from McLaren's film 'Dots', which employs the technique.

McLaren – born in Scotland in 1914 – worked for the British Post Office's film unit until around 1939, when he moved to New York, then to Canada in 1941, where he produced animations for the National Film Board, before setting up an animation studio at the École des beaux-arts de Montréal and the Ontario College of Art.

There he produced around 70 films, much of it highly experimental and strange. He died in 1987 aged 72."

This also reminds me of the Optigan.

Norman McLaren is mentioned in this book: Vector Synthesis: a Media Archaeological Investigation into Sound-Modulated Light

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