A Tasty Fun-pack of NZ Animation

There’s some well-timed news this week for lovers of all things animation, with NZ On Screen releasing their ‘animation collection‘ – a tasty fun-pack of iconic and nostalgia-inducing New Zealand made animations.  

The ‘collection’ arrives right on the doorstep of the AnimfxNZ conference at Wellington’ s Embassy Theatre starting this Friday 6 November. (AnimfxNZ is organised by Grow Wellington, part of the Wellington Regional Economic Development Agency, in association with PikPok and Weta Digital).

The NZ On Screen collection features a diverse range of mediums and styles, with cartoons and CGI trickery included alongside homegrown music videos, stop-motion shorts and DIY weirdness.

As animators were limited to two portfolio entries each, there is a considerable amount of work that didn’t make the final cut, that fact itself highlighting the depth and breadth of talent in New Zealand animation.

Following are favourites picked from the collection by the NewsRoom_Plus team.Click on an image to be directed to the video.

Room that echoes – Peking Man, Music video, 1985

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This classic music video from 80’s new wave band Peking Man, which seemed so futuristic at the time, now looks like it’s being generated through a Commodore 64 video card. Watching it conjures up youthful memories of spiky hair, blue light discos and shoulder pads. Margaret Urlich on vox still sounds great and the computer animation, while basic now, was pretty cool for the time.

Footrot Flats – Film, 1986

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It’s impossible to overlook this excellent film adaption of the classic comic strip. Watching it again now, it still has a powerful effect. Murray Ball’s characters come straight out of our collective New Zealand consciousness; that place where we all feel some deep kinship with the rural folklore of our country. And though many of us who lived through its long reign in the charts might grumble, Dave Dobbyn’s hit soundtrack is still a pop masterpiece.

Bride of Frankenstein – Toy Love, Music Video, 1980

toy love

Truly psychedelic and strange, this groundbreaking video from Chris Knox and Alex Bathgate’s seminal, pre-Tall Dwarfs new wave band, hits like a hurricane of colour and seizure-inducing flashes. Made by Joe Wylie, whose short ‘The Nightwatchman’ is also included in the collection, it includes what NZ On Screen called ‘surgery porn and animated tomato sauce.’ Say no more.

Radio with Pictures – Fane Flaws Opening Titles, Television, 1987

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For many of us who grew up in the 80’s, Radio with Pictures was essential viewing. The show’s host, Karen Hay, became something of a local ‘alternative’ icon, later marrying singer of The Mockers, Andrew Fagan. This opening credit piece by Fane Flaws included music by Peter Dasent, a bandmate from the Jenny Morris-led group, The Crocodiles.

Swinging the Lambeth Walk – Len Lye, Music Video, 1939

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By far the oldest entry, Len Lye’s visual ‘swing jazz’ masterpiece is still an impressive watch. Painting and scratching directly onto film, Lye’s experimental pieces owe more to art than film. That they still resonate now as much as when first produced, speaks volumes of their artistic quality. If you’re looking for the ‘alpha’ piece of this collection, this is it.

Man with Issues – Short film, 2003

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Using a great mixture of black-comedy and story psychodrama, Tom Reilly’s short film manages to pull off a one room claymation piece without any loss of pace. Reminded me of the feel that british satirical puppet-show Spitting Image conjured up.

Goodnight Kiwi – Television, 1981

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It seems almost unbelievable now, but once upon a time this charming piece would signal the end of TV programming for the night. Like many others, I’m sure, I distinctly remember watching it all the way through more times than I can count. There seemed something disrespectful about turning the TV off before the kiwi and his playful cat had reached their bed. ‘Goodnight from Television New Zealand’ seems so quaint now. Though it’s hard not to feel that we’re worse off, especially since ‘goodnight kiwi’s’ ultimate replacement has been late night infomercials and bad movies.

To see the full collection, visit NZ On Screen.

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