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Animatsiya in English

Books by Norshteyn and Khitruk officially released!

Books by Norshteyn and Khitruk officially released!

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drawing, old man
Note: Unheard of! Two entries in one day! ;) Don't miss the one below this one about the Russian "Hobbit".

Neither of these books have been translated to English yet, but I'd still like to mention them as each is written by a very respected master of animation. Yuriy Norshteyn is 66 years old and perhaps best known for Hedgehog in the Fog (video with English subtitles), and his unfinished adaptation of The Overcoat. Fyodor Khitruk is 91 years old and responsible for many beloved films, such as the Russian Winnie-the-Pooh films (here's one on Youtube with English subtitles!). His grandson, also named Fyodor Khitruk, is the administrator of the website animator.ru.

I'll start with Yuriy Norshteyn's two-tome book, Snow on the Grass, which is "dedicated to the art of animation and its relation to painting, culture in general and the phenomenon of art, and also to the story of the creation of Yuriy Norshteyn's films".

I already wrote about this before, but now animator.ru reports that the book is officially released.

The first 800 books will be sold directly from Norshteyn for 2500 rubles (about $100). 400 have been sold already. If you're interested, send a message to this email: child12 (((@))) mail.ru. UPDATE 23-11-2008: Those 800 books were all sold; current information about where to find the book be obtained in Russian here. You must be able to pick it up in Russia or have someone willing to do it for you.

The price elsewhere is a lot higher: at ozon.ru it's 5264 rubles. At OGI bookstores in Moscow it is 3500 rubles.

Fyodor Khitruk's book, The Profession of Animation, also consists of two tomes. According to animator.ru, it's already released, but in limited quantities; a wide release should be in September. According to vtokareva, 50 copies will be available on August 16 for the price of 600 rubles (send an email to the same email address listed above if you're interested).

Translation from news release:
The first tome consists of three parts: "How I Became and Animator", "The Profession of Animation", and "Lessons of Directing". The essence of an animator's work, the difference between animation and other types of art, and how an animator handles a scene are the main questions that the author attempts to answer in the first tome. Using his own films as an example (and also the films of Disney, Chaplin and others), the author writes about the steps of the creation of a cartoon from the birth of an idea to the final edit.

The second tome is dedicated to pedagogical and investigative work. It tells about nearly 50 years of experience in teaching directors and animators, and publishes pedagogical programmes and exercise methods for mastering direction and animation, as well as notes from some of Khitruk's master courses at the animation division of the Highest Directorial Courses. Also included are theoretical investigations into the history of animation ("Genealogy of Animation", "About the Language of Animation", "The Esthetics of an Animated Film"), and twelve profiles of directors of animation: Norman McLaren, Caroline Leaf, Frank Thomas & Ollie Johnston, Bertold Bartosch, Břetislav Pojar, Aleksandr Tatarskiy and others.

In the final part of the book, his colleagues and students talk about the master.

If anyone's interested in obtaining the book, write to namastescop (((@))) mail.ru

I will be reading both of them eventually.
  • Sneg na trave

    If you haven't the money or the means to get a book from Russia, the text was published serially in Iskusstvo Kino, and is available online:

    You won't have the pretty full color plates, but you will have all the text. I printed it out to use for my thesis several years ago. I expect it will have been re-edited for this new publication, but there is much fascinating information included that I was not able to find elsewhere.
    • Re: Sneg na trave

      Well, not quite "all the text" - after all, the difference between the earlier book and the new one is about 400 pages. That's not all images - just from reading the first chapter linked above, there's quite a lot more detail and additions in the newer book. The older "Snow on Grass" was subtitled "Fragments of a Book", after all.

      However, yes, those links are a great resource.
  • Юрия Норштейна

    Hi Mr. B!
    First I must say that I have enjoyed your blog Animatsiya in English very much since I first became aware of it a few years back, it provides a peek into an otherwise inaccessible aspect of animation.
    Which brings me to my recent difficulties:
    I am an animator/filmmaker in Ireland and have recently completed work on the Irish Film Board funded The Rooster The Crocodile and the Night Sky. It basically amounts to an homage of Mr. Norstein's work, and we would very much like to get a copy to him. The only difficulty is that I can't seem to track down contact details for his agent or representative.
    Additionally, in as far as I'm aware, Yuri has given animation master-classes abroad previously and we would like to negotiate such an event in Ireland, with funding provided of course.
    I have a friend which works as an interpretor for Russian diplomats here, so we will be able to communicate our intent. It's just a matter of knowing where to direct our intent. So I was wondering if you would have any idea of where or how we could establish communications?
    Obviously I know you're very busy with your studies but any suggestion would be very appreciated.
    Thanks for your time
    Eimhin McNamara
    • Re: Юрия Норштейна

      Very interesting! How can one see this film?

      Norshteyn has indeed given master-classes abroad, most notably in Japan (I think this was actually his main means of support during much of the 1990s). This new book of his is really to an extent his master-classes put into book form (much like Richard Williams' "The Animator's Survival Kit", except much thicker and very different in focus). It would be criminal if it were not translated into English, though it would require an exceptional translator...

      There are a number of people whom you could contact who could then pass on a message. One such email is mentioned in my post already ("if you're interested, send a message to this email"); that's vtokareva. You could also try contacting litmanovich (a former student of Norshteyn who directed the excellent Khelom's Customs.

      Or you could simply post a message on norshtein asking for help and see who replies.
      • Re: Юрия Норштейна

        That was quick!
        Well the film is currently making its way around the world for festival submissions, and is being screened for the directors guild of America in september, as a precursor to our compatriot Tom Moore's animated feature The Secret of Kells, which I see you're aware of already from your links page.
        Because of the IFB investment they own distribution rights for five years, before reverting back to the director. So no online version, I'm afraid.
        If you wish I could post you a copy of the dvd personally, as well?
        My Russian speaking friend is actually on his way to Russia at the moment, so he's unavailable to translate, but I shall endeavour to arrange something, in the way of a request for help.
        Thanks again
        • Re: Юрия Норштейна

          Thanks for explaining. One thing I don't understand: where does that leave them if they decide to release a DVD with your film on it (along with some other short films, for example)? Do they then have to pull the DVD off the market in 5 years?

          Regarding "The Secret of Kells", yes, it looks like a very interesting project and I'm looking forward to seeing it.

          I'll send you a PM through LiveJournal and give you my email (I'd rather not make it public).

          You could just post your message in English at the "norshtein" community. A big enough portion of Russians understand English.
          • Re: Юрия Норштейна

            Well as far as I understand, they retain some rights to distribute as part of retrospective DVD collections of IFB funded films, but for indivdual films they cannot market them or sell them for broadcast to tv stations, and say if there was some interest in developing the shorts into a tv series or bigger project you could do this without much interference from the IFB, though admittedly they would probably be one of the first people you'd go to for development funding (it's quite a small industry here in Ireland)
            It's a pretty good system, as they provide full funding for the film, somewhere in the region of 40-45,000 euros, which is quite the investment really.They believe very much in the directors rights, and onwership of the product., so it's not such a big deal that they have a DVD, with the film on it, in circulation.
            I sent a message to vtokareva, but I suppose there would be no harm in reposting it on the Norstein Community site.
            Thanks again for your help
  • Where to buy?

    Hello there.
    First of all I would like to thank you for the post.
    It was very inspiring.

    I'm really dying to buy this book plus the other two about the hedgehog in the fog and the hare and the fox.
    Would you know any bookstore that would ship it to the US?

    Thanks again for your help.
    • Re: Where to buy?

      I suppose you speak Russian, yes? That would make it easier. :)

      The book "Snow on the Grass" (and maybe Norshteyn's other books if you ask) can be sent by mail directly from his studio (or if you're ever visiting Moscow, you can just walk in and buy it):

      I am not sure if they ship outside of Russia, though. It would be better to ask. If that fails, you can try buying them at ozon.ru (Russia's "amazon.com"). The prices will be much higher. They do ship books internationally, but not some other items (for example, films, music, games).

      I do highly recommend Fyodor Khitruk's book, also. It's a great read in quite a different way.

      Please leave a comment if you need any further help.
      • Re: Where to buy?

        I really wish I could speak Russian. I have a Russian name, but I'm from Brazil. My father really likes the name :)

        Thanks for helping me. I'm gonna try buying it from ozon.ru. It's expensive, but I guess that's all I've got. I think the website doesn't have it, but you can put it on a wait list. Will they buy the book eventually?
        How would you spell Fyodor's book in Russian? I can't seem to find his book's title in russian.

        Do you mind if I ask you one more question?
        I found this image on Yuri's website and I was curios to what is about:
        Is it a book or DVD?

        I'm a big fan of Yuri's work. I watch "tales of tales" at least 2 or 3 times a month. There's something about that film that fascinates me.
        I wish his books were easier to get :)
        Thanks again!

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