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The Adam Beckett Project

The Adam Beckett Project began in 2003, working with the iotaCenter in Los Angeles. I was introduced to Adam's work through the iotaCenter, and Adam's friends, and was intrigued by the dialog between emerging digital media, animation, and video image processing that his work seemed to have. Seeing his work was the start of a long - and interesting - journey!

Adam spent most of his life in California, except for 2 years when he was enrolled in Antioch College in Yellow Springs, Ohio, and a year traveling with his family in India and Europe. In his late teens he also traveled with the free-spirited group The Hog Farm, who received media attention for their role as food and security providers at Woodstock. He completed his undergraduate studies at CalArts, beginning the year it opened, 1970 and receiving his degree in 1972.

He is consistently described, by those who knew him, as a unique, gifted, and truly brilliant individual and artist. His works influenced many emerging filmmakers at CalArts, in the Los Angeles area and beyond, as his work was included in numerous festivals internationally.

Adam used the animation cycle as the basis for his unique technique where the images in the cycle, or loop, continued to evolve. For example, a series of drawings that formed a repeating loop would be shot on the animation stand and on each repeated iteration more drawing would be added. By the end of the film the original drawings no longer existed. He augmented this evolution with phasing the footage (offsetting it in time and scale), changing the area of view, and sophisticated use of the optical printer, which he learned from the master, Pat O'Neill, while at CalArts. Beckett's technical finesse, and the wonderful mind and imagery that he brought to his film, resulted in truly remarkable, distinctive body of work.

In 1974 he began his independent animation company, Infinite Animation, where he continued to produce his own work. In addition to his animation, he taught at CalArts and worked in the film industry, most notably at ILM, as head of Animation and Rotoscoping on the first Star Wars (1977) movie.

Although his animation was created over thirty years ago, it continues to be screened, influencing a new generation of artists. 

Adam's animation is available on Vimeo, courtesy of the iotaCenter. It is also available on Kanopy. 

Vimeo link to Adam's work.

Preservation and Research Project

The iotaCenter worked with the Academy Film Archive (AFA) in Hollywood, to restore Adam's films. New film prints are available through Canyon Cinema. In 2006 Adam's family, through a Deed of Gift, transferred their collection of Adam's animated films to The iotaCenter. This work is now safely housed at the AFA.. This deposit includes many elements and prints - over 600 pieces in all!

- Pamela Taylor Turner

(Please do not copy text without crediting source!)

 

Filmography

Independent animations

  • 1969/1970 "Early Animations or Quacked Jokes" (restored/not released)

  • 1970/1971 "The Letter (Un Lettre a une Ami) with James Gore

  • 1972– “Dear Janice”

  • 1973 - “Evolution of the Red Star”; “Heavy-Light”

  • 1974 – “Flesh Flows”; “Sausage City”

  • 1975 – “Kitsch in Synch” ( produced at CalArts while teaching)

Never completed:

  • "Life in the Atom" (35mm)

  • "Knotte Grosse" (received 1974 AFI grant)

  • remake of "Dear Janice"

Commercial and commissioned work

  • 1974 - Animation Tournee title sequence

  • 1975 – “Visions” festival title sequence

  • 1975 – contributed to Hubley TV series “Everybody Rides the Carousel

  • 1977 – Animation and rotoscope head Star Wars

  • 1978 – animator on “Piranha”

  • 2000 – honorary technical advisor credit on “The Cell

 

Selected screenings

"Evolution of the Red Star"

  • 1973 – Sinking Creek Film and Video Festival

  • 1974 – Washington National Student Film Festival, Brooklyn Independent Filmmakers Exposition, Vanguard International Competition of Electronic Music for Film, Humboldt Film Festival

"Heavy-Light"

  • 1973 – Sinking Creek Film and Video Festival

  • 1974 – Athens International Film Festival, Humboldt Film Festival

"Flesh Flows"

  • 1973 – Sinking Creek Film and Video Festival, 10th Chicago International Film Festival (Hugo trophy)

  • 1974 – Humboldt Film Festival, Ann Arbor Film Festival, 13th Foothill International Independent Filmmakers' Exposition, Orange Coast Film Festival

"Sausage City"

  • 1974 – Humboldt Film Festival, Ann Arbor Film Festival

"Kitsch in Synch"

  • 1975 – Best Sound Score, Cinemedia, Marin County Fair

All six of his released films (from 1972 - 1975) are distributed through Canyon Cinema - newly restored prints are now available, including Dear Janice!

Still from "Early Animations", 1970.

All images courtesy of Adam Beckett family and The iotaCenter. DO NOT reproduce text or images without written permission. 

Still image from "Dear Janice", 1972.

Still image from "Heavy Light", 1973.

"Flesh Flows", 1974. Still image.

"Kitsch in Synch", 1975.