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Animatsiya in English

Rubik's Cube (and some words about "total animation")

Rubik's Cube (and some words about "total animation")

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drawing, old man
"Rubik's Cube" is a collection of three short films from Ecran Studio in 1985. The text in the beginning suggests that this was meant to become an ongoing project, but this was the only one that was ever completed. However, the idea is very similar to the five "Lift" films that were made by Pilot Studio at the end of the 1980s. In fact, I was surprised to learn that the directors of the first two films, Vladlen Barbè ("The Box of Pencil Crayons") and Aleksandr Fedulov ("Did You See the Hare?"), did not end up working for Pilot Studio later, as the films are very similar in spirit to that studio's early production. The last film "Rubik's Cube: Clownery" was directed by Aleksandr Tatarskiy and Igor Kovalyov, who would found Pilot Studio three years later.

My favourite of these three films is "The Box of Pencil Crayons", for the enchanting, dynamic animation. It is the sort of animation where every new frame is drawn anew, and I've always found that films made in this technique look fantastic and alive. The fashion nowadays is to avoid that kind of animation and to reuse elements as much as possible (which technologies like Flash encourage), but in the late 1980s and early 1990s in Russia, many films used this animation style at least some of the time. Maybe it was part of the macro-cultural aesthetic of that time of reinventing the wheel. I don't know. But I love it. Another great example is the first film of Lift 5.

In Russia, this animation style actually has a name. It is called "total animation". There is a even a lengthy article in the Russian Wikipedia with a list of all films in which total animation is used (usually only for small lengths of time).

The subtitles are almost complete, but I can't make out what the hare is saying at 4:41. Can anyone help?

"The Box of Pencil Crayons" was a real pain to translate. It was like trying to plug a badly leaking ship, and the end result deserves a 60% mark maybe. The original Russian song has the following rhyming structure: AABB ACCA ADDA AEEA AFFA AGGA AHHA AIIA AJJA KAKA A

"A" is "ami". I tried to keep the pattern for the individual stanzas, but there is no word ending in English that would cover the number of words that the ending "ami" covers in Russian. Even having different As, I couldn't always find exact rhymes. Anyway, this is the result:

Here is a box before us
with pencils of many colors
It can hold with ease
anything you please!

This box of colored pencils
holds seas, and mountains tall,
creatures big and small,
and a cat with glorious whiskers

In this box lives also
a beautiful green fir tree
decorated amply
with crackers 'round its torso.

Skipping in a rush
past it runs a hare
chasing a little bear
whose ears are made of plush.

Through the snow's crust
a snowdrop pokes its head
and through the stream ahead
a sailboat swims past.

Amidst the pencil crayons
a little raincloud cried
Now, artist, look with pride
at the forest's rainbow.

Over past the wood glen
gaily the sun dances.
By the beach it prances,
cheering up the children.

Underneath the tent spire
the circus seats are full.
A clown juggles hoops,
walking on a tightwire.

There, the city centre
fills with eager kids.
Flags flap in the winds
above them as they enter.

You'll find all the world
in this box of pencil crayons
when you start to draw
you will see for yourselves.

When you start to draw for yourselves.
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