Sunday, September 21, 2014

Synchro-Vox Developed to Help Deaf Daughter

Dean Mullaney & Bruce Canwell, Genius, Isolated: The Life and Art of Alex Toth (San Diego: IDW Publishing, 2011), p. 312.

[Edwin] Gillette produced films for Uncle Sam during the Second World War, earned his film degree from the University of Southern California, and began experimenting with ways to project split-beam images of moving mouths onto otherwise-static pictures of faces to create a “realistic” appearance of speech in the final composite. The result was Gillette’s patented “Synchro-Vox” film technique, which Cambria [Studios] used in the production of Clutch Cargo and subsequent animated series. An uncorroborated story circulating for decades around the fringes of animation suggests that Gillette had a deaf daughter who was unable to read the lips of fully-animated characters; Synchro-Vox was supposedly his attempt to inject real speech into cartoons in order to allow his daughter to enjoy cartoons. Perhaps there is a degree of truth to the story, but Gillette first used the technique to create commercials featuring apparently talking animals, which casts doubts upon its veracity.

Saturday, September 13, 2014

Honk Your Horn and a Witch Will Chase You

Niagara Gazette [Niagara Falls, NY]
13 September 2014

ACCIDENT: Police are investigating a roll-over accident in the 1000 block of Frontier Avenue. Officers said they came upon the accident, during routine patrol, at around 7:05 p.m. Tuesday. The vehicle was resting on its passenger side and three people were trapped inside. Officers were able to get all three people out and none were seriously injured. The driver of the vehicle told police he was lost control of the vehicle, while backing up at high speed, causing it to flip. He told officers he was being chased by a nearby resident. The resident then told police that he began chasing the driver and his passengers because they had driven by his home, honking the vehicle's horn and yelling obscenities. When questioned by police about the claim, the driver told officers that he and his passengers were investigating an urban legend that claims that "if you drive past a certain house on 103rd Street and honk your horn, a witch will appear and chase you." The resident who was chasing the vehicle confirmed to police that people think a witch lives at his house and are constantly driving by and harassing him.

Painting Alarms Students

12 September 2014

Sir John Franklin's fabled Arctic ship that vanished more than 160 years ago was found this week. But a painting related to its mysterious demise hanging in one university has been haunting exam students for decades, writes Tom Heyden.

"The polar bears made me do it," are the eeriest words to emerge from the urban legend of Edwin Landseer's painting - a grisly depiction of two polar bears hanging at Royal Holloway, University of London. Since the first exams were taken there in the 1920s and 1930s, it's been a painting associated with failure. "If you sit directly in front of it in an exam, you will fail - unless it's covered up," goes the myth, according to the college's curator Dr Laura MacCulloch. […]