Bob Friedstand on Animation History Tuesday

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On Sunday, January 23rd, the Germantown Performing Arts Centre presents “Rhapsody in Boop,” a concert celebrating the animated, jazz-loving sex-pot Betty Boop, who was first introduced to audiences in the 1930s.

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But first, a little education courtesy of GPAC’s ArtSavvy series on Tuesday, January 18th, at 7 p.m. Bob Friedstand, chief IMAX technician, will give a presentation on the history of animation.

“I’ve been a fan of animation and visual effects since childhood, and I’ve worked in film and video all my life,” Friedstand says.

In the ’70s and ’80s, Friedstand lived in L.A. and worked on the first Star Trek movie. Back in Memphis, he’s been involved in a number of projects — from film features to music videos to the odd commercial job. (One promotional video he made for a medical company featured tear-duct plugs dancing to swing music.) At the IMAX theater, he’s the projectionist and does maintenance on the machines.

Friedstand says that his ArtSavvy presentation isn’t so much a lecture as it is a show-and-tell. Using PowerPoint, he’ll show clips and other materials that delve into the history of animation that extends from the early days to stop-motion on through to computer-generated advances in the form.

“I’m mostly fascinated with the early pioneers and the innovations they came up with,” Friedstand says. “They came up with their own techniques.”

One of the innovations Friestand will discuss on Tuesday is Rotoscoping. The technique — invented by Max Fleischer in the early 1900s— involves animators tracing over live-action film. Fleischer Studios were responsible for the Betty Boop cartoons, and Rotoscoping was used famously with Cab Calloway for his song and dance steps for “Minnie the Moocher.” Rotoscoping is still used today.

As for Friedstand’s own cartoon allegiances, he admits they lie firmly with Popeye (another Fleischer Studios creation, btw).

“It’s my all-time favorite … the style, the voice work,” he says. “But that’s a whole other subject.”

ArtSavvy “Rhapsody in Boop” talk with Bob Friedstand Tuesday, January 18th at 7 p.m. The event is free. For reservations, call 751-7665.

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