The campaign will fund transferring the original live action footage and the video pencil test to a contemporary format, restoration and framing of original animation cels for display; and restoration of the Lyon Lamb Video Rotoscope used in the film’s production.
There will also be a scrapbook with a bevy of miscellanea created, drawn, doodled or collected during the film’s production, including inspired character studies, character turnarounds, storyboards, and set concept drawings.
The press release:
“Tom Waits For No One” likely world’s first rotoscoped music video, expert finds
Los Angeles, CA September 8, 2014
In 1978, animation director John Lamb brought together a group of unknown animators to create a short film using the latest in analog technology, the Lyon Lamb Video Rotoscope and the Lyon Lamb Video Animation System. The team, made up of animators and artists, were at the very beginning of their careers. Tom Waits, the musician chosen for the film because of his eclectic style and performance, was also at the beginning of his career.
Completed in 1979, too early for MTV, the film had no commercial release and no distribution. The film opened to immediate acclaim, winning top prize at a Hollywood film festival, but lasted just one night with “Spike and Mike’s Festival of Animation” because it was “too racy”.
Without distribution or a ready market, the film slipped into total obscurity. In 2006, it was uploaded to YouTube by Lamb’s technophile son and it went quietly viral, being posted and reposted on animation blogs and music fan sites around the world.
In 2013, Lamb ran into one of the animators, David Silverman, whose next job after “Tom Waits For No One” was on The Tracey Ullman Show as the first animator for The Simpsons. Even now, Silverman remains a key animator for The Simpsons series, also directing The Simpsons Movie and co-directing Monsters, Inc.
Silverman got Lamb thinking about all the other animators involved, and he was astonished at what he found – a list of accomplishments that included Academy Award winner for Technical Achievement, Academy Award nominee in animation, one of CalArts’ now famous “Kids from A-113”, a renowned Plein Air painter, a designer and animator for Electronic Arts, a member of the Academy of Arts and Sciences, and animators on The Iron Giant, Pocahontas and American Dad, among many others.
A Kickstarter event begins on September 19, 2014 to fund the 35th Anniversary Celebration of “Tom Waits For No One”, to take place on March 20 and 21st, 2015, in Hollywood at Catchlight Studios (in the former La Brea Stage building). The Kickstarter campaign will fund: transferring the original live action footage of Tom Waits and the video pencil test to a contemporary format to be projected throughout the gallery; restoration and framing of original animation cels for display; and restoration of the Lyon Lamb Video Rotoscope used in the film’s production.
All these elements will be seen for the first time in thirty-five years, perfectly showcased at the original filming location where the live action footage was filmed – the old La Brea Stage!
A Tom Waits For No One Scrapbook is part of the Kickstarter campaign and will feature a bevy of miscellanea created, drawn, doodled or collected during the film’s production, to include the inspired character studies, character turnarounds, storyboards, and set concept drawings rendered in hardback and soft cover. The book will feature a foreword by the leading expert on the subject of animation and music video, Gunnar Strom. Author of “The Two Golden Ages of Animated Music Video” (Society for Animation Studies, 2007), Strom is a professor at Volda University College in Norway. After seeing the film, Strom wrote “’Tom Waits For No One’ is not only a pioneering American music video, it is also probably the first ever rotoscoped music video”.
Larry Cuba, experimental animator and executive director of The iotaCenter in Los Angeles, stated “’Tom Waits For No One’ should be considered a significant part of animation history”. The iotaCenter, a non-profit which aims to foreground experimental and underrepresented animated works, has honored the short film by welcoming “Tom Waits For No One” into its film archive for preservation.
The 35th Anniversary Celebration of “Tom Waits For No One” will host the animators and all the elements of the film, as well as Gunnar Strom flying in from Norway. But that’s not all! Both nights will bring extraordinary music to Los Angeles with the musical talents of New Orleans’ finest: pianist Tom McDermott and jazz singer phenomenon Meschiya Lake. In 2012, McDermott and Lake released the CD “Live at Chickie Wah Wah”. In the same year, Lake was featured in a biographical documentary, True Family, by Danish filmmaker Tao Norager. Don’t miss this event – it’s going to be a blast!