Sunday, August 17, 2008

Poem Animation - Morphing a Photograph into a Film

I've just been on a most curious journey.

It started with noticing, on YouTube, two newly discovered and unique film fragments of Vaslav Nijinsky, the great Ballets Russes dancer, performing in 1912 in 'L'apres midi d'un faune' (Music: Claude Debussy, Choreography: Vaslav Nijinsky):

And the journey continued when I serendipitously found archival footage of William Shakespeare, Walt Whitman, Charles Dickens, Alfred Lord Tennyson, Abraham Lincoln ... just to name a few!

And I suddenly understood I'd discovered the wonderful software world of 'poem animation' - Jim Clark's term. You can find an extended selection of his work at: and

Jim Clark

Here is Jim's animation from a photograph for Abraham Lincoln:

Paintings work (nearly) as well as the base material, as this one of William Shakespeare shows:

Now this tale has an unexpected twist. Some of these poem animations use the voice of the actual person represented.

So here are animations for two great gay artists - Walt Whitman and Oscar Wilde - using their real voices, taken from early wax cylinder audio recordings.

So the possibilities of course are endless. How bout Cleopatra? Moses? Genghis Khan? The pharaoh Tutankhamun? Who do you want guys?

But I must say guys that, with the actual voice of the person, these constructions seem to move (just a bit) beyond animation!

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