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production page fourteen

The complicated outer space sequence in the middle of The Meaning of Life took a few to months to animate, followed by two solid weeks of careful camera work - to date easily our most difficult shot ever to photograph. Although it is only a 45-second sequence, the scene consisted of over 100 separate animated elements, all individually requiring the film to be backwound and carefully re-photographed via an enormous load of multiple exposures.


A page of Don's camera notes for the outer space sequence, carefully keeping all of these separate elements in synch with each other, to the frame. If the camera is backwound too many or too few frames to introduce each animated element, the entire shot falls apart.

All of the finished planet paintings are backlit. As 24 animated paintings fly by onscreen per second, each individual frame of film required a terribly time-consuming setup to ensure all light leaks were covered. With all the separate exposures piled into one intricate roll of film with no cutaways or breaks, if a mistake is made on a single frame, the entire sequence would need to be reshot from scratch.With the lights on, a drifting sun on film is revealed to be a small colored hole. Note the masses of tape and surrounding black sheets, carefully blotting light leaks.


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Unless otherwise noted, all content, animation, and photographs are 1995-2003 by Don Hertzfeldt/Bitter Films
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