Adam Beckett

"A star among many rising stars, Adam Beckett had a great influence on his fellow students in Jules Engel's then newly-formed Experimental Animation program at CalArts. Both prolific and talented, Adam is still remembered by those who participated in the vibrant film festival community of the 1970's, and who were aware of the evolving animation and experimental film genres. Between 1970 and 1975, Beckett completed seven groundbreaking films: The Letter (with James Gore), Dear Janice, Evolution of the Red Star, Sausage City, Flesh Flows, Heavy-Light and Kitsch in Synch. Two larger independent animations, Life in the Atom and Knotte Grosse, remain unfinished due to Beckett's work in the growing visual effects industry and his tragic and untimely death in 1979 at the age of 29.

"Beckett's approach to animation was distinguished by his use of the optical printer in conjunction with the animation stand, which was not unlike the way a conductor would arrange the abstract but distinct parts of a symphonic composition. Beckett favored the complex use of animated loops: each successive iteration accreted additional images so that the loops did not merely repeat but evolved, appearing at once the same and different. In addition to drawing, Beckett used the optical camera to re-shoot various cycles: offsetting the frames to create a phasing rhythm and changing the color or re-framing a portion of the drawing for select sequences. This approach is seen in all of his solo films and is perhaps most marked in Evolution of the Red Star and Heavy-Light, a masterful visual universe created from only 13 drawings.

"In 1975, Beckett headed his own studio, Infinite Animation, and was simultaneously pursuing his MFA and teaching at CalArts. Because of his technical finesse, vision, and his creative ability to develop unique techniques, Beckett was recruited to head the Rotoscope and Animation Department on the ground-breaking science fiction film Star Wars. Subsequently Beckett worked on other commercial projects including the horror film Piranha (1978). This immersion into the commercial world, sadly, seems to have sidelined his personal work.

"Although Adam Beckett's independent films are now 30 years old, they still resonate as unique and relevant in the ongoing discourse of art animation."
--Pamela Turner, Project Director, Iota Center