Adam Beckett had a very short animation career yet he is remembered as one the masters of the optical printer, making for a case of the good dying young. He died in a house fire in 1979 at the untimely age of 29, even with such a short career Adam work a fair bit in the industry most notable on the original Star Wars and Piranha however his independent work is what he is renowned for.
The majority of Adam Beckett’s work are the product of experimentation with the optical printer, which might explain why most of his works have still cinematography keeping the camera still also it might have been because of his piling cycles on top of each other any camera move would have distracted for the chaotic movement of his works.
Jules Engel heavily affected a lot of Adam Beckett’s early work, Beckett was enrolled in Jules Engel’s experimental animation program at Cal Arts, in Dear Janice Engel’s focus on visual music and geometric animation are visible.
Dear Janice illustrates Adam Beckett’s fascination with cycles and odd transformations both geometric and organic, this film proceeds like most of Adam Beckett’s works showing cycles on their own then slowly adding more till the screen is a buzz of motion.
In the image above shows a cycle from Dear Janice where the letters morph into hearts which then keeping the extra lines from when they were letter’s to allow them to play with their form till the hearts are bend and squirm till they form breasts. Adam Beckett was never shy to put in sexually forms into his works. This sort of process of having an odd progression intellectually thoughts chained together by odd organic transformation.
One of the reasons Adam Beckett was considered a master of the optical printer was because how far he pushed it, the image above is a great number of cycles that are interesting in their own right but Beckett has combined them all into a grand parade of movement and color. This, of course, must have taken several passes with the optical printer, which shows Adam Beckett’s dedication to experimentation.
An interesting area to animate that usually is ignored is the credits, With the diligence Adam Beckett put into his titles the quality is no less than the content that comes after. Which brings up the question of how egotistical working out new ways to present your own name is.
Above is a piece from Adam Beckett’s 1974-piece Sausage City, this work plays with the perceivable dimensional of 2-dimension representation. The piece starts with just a rectangle and squeezes and stretches itself, while in this process the shape seems to rotate on its z axis to show off more sides. These additional sides then themselves engage in the same process which allows for a natural-seeming path for a single rectangle to multiply into a mass of geometric shapes convulsing to the same rhythm.
In a manner that is very indicative of Adam Beckett, a simple cluster of geometric into a flurry of color and having to different elements compete for and interaction with the viewer. The colored organic shapes quickly wrestle the foreground from the achromatic geometric shapes this change in staging creates an imbalance which is satisfying resolved when the geometric shapes get colored in as well. As well as being separated from the background this resolve of the imbalance also makes the colored organic now have new interactions as they now have to interact with other colors. This starts the part of the piece where Adam Beckett continues to push the dimensionality of the piece as shapes are now fading in and popping out of the mid ground as the move across different color interactions. This gets formalized as Adam Beckett finishes the piece with an elaborate flourish of to signal that it is the end of the piece.
“Adam Beckett Biography”, iotacenter,http://iotacenter.org/beckett-biography/
“The Infinite Animator, Remastered: iotaCenter and The Adam K. Beckett Project”,AWN ,http://www.awn.com/animationworld/infinite-animator-remastered-iotacenter-and-adam-k-beckett-project