Tag Archives: Prince Achmed

Blog Post #13 – My Short Life as an Animator

When this class started I had no idea how much work animation entailed.  My first thoughts for my project was to do a flip book.  Of course, I thought.  I can do that — my daughter has done them since she was able to hold a pencil!  But my artistic genes are not in drawing.  Since pen and paper was out I looked at animation programs and found one that I thought would work — Animationsish.  It was simple — actually a child could do it.  After reading comments on the program, the recommendation of using wacom tablet sent me to the store to buy one. As the semester progressed and my life became more complicated I decided to ditch this idea because the learning curve was just too much for me to deal with.  After all — the Wacom tablet still entailed using a pen!

I finally decided to do stop-motion animation.  I was a lot more comfortable with my digital camera.  My subject would be the  Leggo Empire State Building.  After purchasing the last leggo kit Barnes and Nobel had in stock, I found a gorilla to climb it.  The next decision was to choose a program to help me build the animation.  I downloaded a trial copy of iStopMotion.

I loved my first series of pictures!  They were all in focus, good placement and because of the tall building shot vertically.  To my dismay when I dumped the pictures into iStopMotion it cut them all in half because it only accepted horizontal pictures )c:

I don’t think that the free download version had all the features of the original program.  Plus my learning curve was too steep and I had to reshoot the sequence.  After a lot of frustration I finally ended up with a 22 second animation, “I Love New York.”

Of all the animators that we have studied my favorite is Lotte Reiniger.  After putting together my class project with today’s technology, I am amazed at the patience and fortitude she had to create Prince Achmed.  I know that being an animator is not my calling in life, but I now fully appreciate those who are. Creativity abounds in their life!  And speaking of creativity …. my daughter ended up with the Wacom Bamboo pen and tablet (c:  

I have commented on the posts of Myca Taylor and Michael Morse.


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#5 Lotte Reiniger’s Scissors

After watching Prince Achmed by Lotte Reiniger last week in class I was eager to learn more about this fascinating film.  Luckily I found that the British Film Institute had released it in DVD as a part of their Milestone Collection.  The work of Lotte Reinger was also highlighted in a bonus documentary.  The final film that was so work intensive to make shows an amazing delicacy in the movement of its characters.

Lotte Reiniger saw herself as an entertainer instead of an artist.  Her addiction to silhouette making was something that started at an early age.  By the age of 14 she  had her first shadow puppet theater.  Her creativity lead to the creation of the first full length animated movie Prince Achmed which was done with silhouette figures on color backgrounds.

This endeavor kept Lotte at her light board for three years.  The camera work was done with a multi-plane camera that captured 300,000 separate frames.  Since the height of the attic workroom was not very high, most of the frames were set up at floor level.  After filming the movements were synchronized to the score that was written by Wolfgang Zeller.  The film opened to mixed reviews.  Audiences were not accustomed to serious animation.  Financially it was a disaster — it took 50 years for it to show a profit.

My fascination in watching the film for a second and third time was the movement of the characters’ hands.  Of course the hands of the sorcerer and witch were undeniably powerful and wicked as they set about casting their spells.  But, I was amazed at the emotion Reiniger showed in the control and placement of the hands of her characters in non-violent action .  The following  screen capture shows the expressive hand gesture of my favorite scene when Prince Achmed closes his hand in a defiant fist as the sorcerer struggles with his sister Dinarsade.

Later in the film the picture of Aladdin as he reaches to hold Dinarsade’s hand conveys such a tender moment with its fluid movement.

I was able to find pictures on the web that were taken during the creation of some of Reiniger’s silhouette films … they help us understand the painstaking work it took to bring this first animation into being.

There there are always those who like to add their spin to a work of art.  I found this on a chinese website!


The Adventures of Prince Achmed, Lotte Reiniger, DVD, Milestone Collection, British Film Institute

Documentary: Lotte Reiniger: Homage to the Inventor of the Silhouette Film, DVD, Milestone Collection, British Film Institute.

I have commented on the blogs of Erica LoMonaco and Brenda Webber.


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