World Festival of Animated Film /
3 to 8 June 2024
World Festival of Animated Film / 3 to 8 June 2024
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ANIMAFEST PRO | ANIMAFEST SCANNER XI | Panel 1: Studying Early Animation (Tracing Some Basics)

Revisiting Graphical Sound - Max Hattler (Germany / Hong Kong)

04/06 TUE 12:30-13:00 KIC

This animation research and teaching project explores novel, digital approaches to the old, analogue technique of optical sound. Taking a media archaeological approach to understanding new and emerging media through a close examination of the past, it revisits the optical or photographic soundtrack of the early cinema period as well as related avant-garde experiments in graphical and drawn sound generation by animators such as Norman McLaren and Oskar Fischinger. The project seeks to inspire the next generation of filmmakers in the field of experimental animation by studying past analogue experiments and exploring new opportunities for creative expression. It aims to reignite interest in graphical sound experiments, where sound is created directly from the image, by using contemporary digital tools. By designing specific visual shapes and movements, sounds, tones, and rhythms can be composed visually and strong synesthetic experiences can be crafted. This presentation discusses the challenges and successes of working with graphical sound in the digital realm by examining a range of abstract animation films which were developed as part of this investigation. Part arts-based creative research, part teaching and learning project, this undertaking was conducted together with postgraduate and undergraduate students and research assistants at the School of Creative Media, City University of Hong Kong. It was supported by the Teaching Development Grant ‘Experimental Animation with Optical Sound’ (6000859) and the Teaching Excellence Award Grant ‘Graphical Sound Animation’ (6989043). One of the resulting optical sound films, O/S (2023), directed by Max Hattler, recently received the First Jury Prize at the Punto y Raya Festival. The jury remarked that the film ‘follows experimental moving image tradition, whilst also bringing something new and fresh.’

Max Hattler is a German video artist, experimental filmmaker, animation researcher, curator and educator who works with abstract animation, video installation and audiovisual performance. After studying at Goldsmiths and the Royal College of Art, he completed a Doctorate in Fine Art at the University of East London. Hattler’s work has been shown at festivals and exhibitions worldwide, receiving awards and mentions from Annecy Animation Festival, Ars Electronica, Montreal Festival du Nouveau Cinema, Punto y Raya Festival, Cannes Lions, London International Animation Festival, and many others. He has presented papers at the Society for Animation Studies Conference, CONFIA in Portugal, and Animafest Scanner. Hattler serves on the board of directors of the iotaCenter and the editorial boards of Animation: An Interdisciplinary Journal and Animation Practice, Process & Production. Max Hattler lives in Hong Kong, where he is Professor at the School of Creative Media, City University of Hong Kong.