456. Synchromy – Norman McLaren

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SUMMARY: An abstract film in which the soundtrack and images were intrinsically linked – what we see is what we hear!

WHY IT’S HERE: Norman McLaren’s ‘Synchromy’, though it is a somewhat unpleasant watch, is nevertheless an amazing innovation in abstract animation. Many abstract films had synched up animated shapes with a soundtrack but here the images actually created the soundtrack and vice versa. McLaren photographed a series of shapes and then ran them through an optical sound head, creating the bleeps and bloops of the soundtrack, which in turn determined what we see on screen. McLaren had previously synched up images and sound brilliantly in the likes of ‘Boogie Doodle’ and ‘Begone Dull Care’ but never had sound and image fed off each other so completely. Across its seven minutes ‘Synchromy’ becomes somewhat wearing but it is also shot through with the excitement of invention. The sounds and images seem to predict future innovations in computing and video games.


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