Candid Eye, lonely boy and unit B
Interview with Tammy Stone with Wolf Koenig
If the word doc is synonymous with Canadian and NFB is synonymous with Canadian documentary, it’s unattainable to view NFB , and particularly its fictional B group, without its core members, Wolf Koenigia. As an integral part of the "dream group", he labored with Colin Low, Roman Kroitor, Terence Macartney – Filgate and Unit Director Tom Daly as part of NFB's most efficient and revolutionary entire. Koenig began his profession as a block earlier than becoming a member of the animator, operator, director and producer, who was chargeable for much of the manufacturing of the famous Candid Eye collection for CBC TV in 1958–1961. The greatest achievements of Unit B are Lonely Boy (1962), who brilliantly shone the phenomenon of megastaric mania, and continues to be screened worldwide. I had the chance to speak to Wolf Koenig in his first Internet interview, which was the fitting format for a self-recognized tinkerer who made his profession in using the newest technologies. He reflects his day as part of the B unit, what the term documentary means to him and the manufacturing means of Lonely Boy.
What was the background before becoming a member of the NFB?
In 1937, my family fled from Nazi Germany and got here to Canada just in time. After a couple of years of interested by what he should do, my dad determined that we should always settle. He discovered the right place, 145 hectares of huge hills and Bush, which are bordered by the Grand River, simply outdoors Galt on Ontario. The hills and valleys have been lovely, proper, however the aura of hell and Sado. So we acquired a tractor that was one of the first areas, Ford-Ferguson – small however robust
Someday in early Might 1948, my father acquired a call from a neighbor on the street – Mr Merritt, an area agricultural representative to the Federal Department of Agriculture – who asked, might a "boy" come with a tractor to attempt a new tree planting system. The machine was solely designed for Ford-Ferguson, and we have been the only ones with one. So my father referred to as me and stated, "Go!" Once I pulled the tree implant over the sector, I observed a couple of pals on the aspect. One was directed and given instructions and the opposite had set a tripod with a film digital camera. When the exams have been planted, I went by way of and asked them what they have been describing. Director Raymond Garceau informed me that they have been from the NFB's agricultural unit and that they made a movie about this new tree planting machine. I talked to them and advised them how much I liked films, especially Animated Films, and I needed to work at some point on this space. They advised sending a job software to the NFB. I feel Garceau has despatched me one, although I don't keep in mind exactly how I obtained it. Anyway, I despatched it off, and about six weeks later I acquired a letter asking if I might be serious about a $ 100 a month junior tightener at the Canadian National Movie Organization. My father stated, “Go! It's a government !. "
So on July 12, 1948, I received a flight to CPR in Galt, burying my hair, pulling a carton that bulged with clothes and my mother's cookies and sandwiches. I was away from Toronto and then from Ottawa [where the NFB was located at the time]. And in the morning of July 13, I told my work as a junior machine. I was 20 years old and I had no training for four years in a vocational school where I learned the basics of auto mechanics, design, house wiring and woodworking – all the useful things if you are a farmer but not much help with film making. So I learned to combine the movie and got it pretty good. I practically met all those involved in the production because they all had to come to their small body to get their films. In the moments to be booked, I hang and watch people edit or go to the animation and see how they did it, and then go to the optical camera section to see how the animation was taken. I was thinking in heaven. In any case, about half a year of cleavage and learning, I was invited to join and participate in the animation department.
I understand Tom Daly, who continues to the B Group, was the director of animation. when you've been there. What was the relationship with him?
Tom was really the heart of the B group. He was the leader of the unit and its brain and muscle. He was the editor-in-chief, and it is still, and he carefully took care that we were taught the new rules of the ship. He would give regular lectures and, with the help of a 16 mm projector, we took a shot of a movie he or Stuart Legg, a great British documentary, brought by Grierson to war with The World in Action, was edited. Tom had learned from Legg and learned about him. During the war years, they always had to use newsletters from different sources – British, German, Portuguese, American or Canadian – but it seemed that everything would come from the same source. Later, as Head of Unit B, Tom continued to lead and guide us. And he edited. I remember Colin Low and me by looking at Tom's shoulder when cutting Corral and later City of Gold. And he explained everything he did. He was both a teacher and an artist. Without his guidance and infinite patience, many of us would never have worked with the film. And Tom also challenged us intellectually. He got them who were undervalued to read classics such as Plato's dialogues. He gave us university education. No other executive producer would have had any difficulty in doing this. Eventually Tom tried to pay. Studio B did some of NFB's most interesting work and has never seen him like that.
It sounds like an ideal working environment. Is your relationship with Roman Kroitor back in the early years?
I first met Roman when I was still a boy to be spliced. He came to the NFB – I don't know the exact year – as a summer student. He came to Unit B and was thus under Daly's jurisdiction. Roman made Ph.D. I think in philosophy at Winnipeg University of Manitoba. I met him in the usual way. He brought something for me. We talked and soon we spent lunch time discussing deep philosophical things when we eat sandwiches. Roman always won the conversation. He was too smart for me. He was also well spoken, and he spoke his mind without much attention to diplomacy. Once, one veteran NFB director stopped at Romani's room and asked him how he kept his latest movie. It had just been screened and he noticed that Roman was there. And Roman said, "It's a pile of shit!" And I'm sure it was. It goes without saying that "old boys" became a little Roman. They didn't appreciate his honesty. However, at least one of the old boys liked the Roman chutz, and so Stanley Jackson often joined us in our philosophical lunches, which would often continue in the Murray restaurant after work, and then we would go see the film. When I finally got out of the splicing, I was happy animation department, which was the dream that I have had ever since that time, when I saw Disney's Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs in 1937. Eventually I started to work with Robert Verrall and Colin Low, the Canadian transport romanticism
You worked Kroitorin before the Candid Eye series?
Yes. The Roman genius came in handy to Gold of City. He helped formulate the film in close collaboration with Tom Daly, who edited it, Colin Low, I and Pierre Berton, who wrote and read the story. Roman was a technical wizard. We had a problem making a complex, curved camera moving over photos. This was an extremely difficult task, and Roman made a decision. We call it "Croquette" and consisted of a hand-sized platform with four small wheels, a magnetic solenoid with a sharp sharpness and a vibrating power source that caused the sharp anchor to vibrate up and down 24 times a second. The photo was covered with clear acetate. The crater was turned on and moved over the photo, and the sharpened anchor left small impressions on the surface of the acetate. Then, black fat was rubbed into these impressions to make them appear better. Next, the acetate plate was placed adjacent to the animation table under a small microscope attached to the table and placed under the camera. The camera operator only had to target the microscope intersections to the first point, the frame to be photographed, the second point to line up, the second frame to be shot, and so on. The results were perfect. This saved us weeks if not months of work and relocation. Roman and I worked together for a couple of years in the Candid Eye series.
How was Candid Eye born?
I can answer this very simply – Henri Cartier – Bresson. For one year I got a book about Cartier – Bresson 's photos, The Decisive Moment. Photos stunned me. Here was a real life, as it happened, at the moment of the greatest clarity and meaning in the film. I showed a book to Roman, Tom and others to convince them that we could make such an observation in the film. We had already seen the work of a British free movie and we were impressed. And then there were films by Pere Lorenz, The Plow, who broke the plains and the river. We were also well versed in the great war times like Desert Victory and The True Glory. So it was in the air and the photos of Cartier – Bresson were the last inspiration. The Roman accepted we should try it out, so we took Tom's idea that fit with us. There was little experience, but a lot of enthusiasm. I think our first movie was Days before Christmas, a natural topic because the season was for us. Many of us fanned out of the city and started running the movie through the cameras.
The Candid Eye was a real departure for CBC TV and a movie in Canada. Do you have any particular idea of how Candid Eye should be approached? Is it possible to say that behind the series was an assignment or a separate philosophy?
The idea of the Candid Eye series was simple: to show our world and the lives of ordinary people without affecting or manipulating them. Watch out but don't bother; preferably stay invisible. Our goal was to bring the real world into the movie – sound and image – to help people get more information about their community and the world they were living in. Who knows if it did. If anything else, we recorded some history. Pretty meaningful if not a bit naive, right? Anyway, it was. Not much of a manifesto, but it gave us a lot of flexibility and plenty of room to grow. Today anyone and everyone can do this with amazing new DV cameras.
How much of what you did was made possible by portable 16mm cameras and any synchronized sounds that were often considered as tools that enable cinéma blood?
19659003] Unfortunately, we didn't have much new wonderful technology at the beginning of Candid Eye. We only had a small 16 mm Arri S, not a quiet machine, so it doesn't fit in the sync sound. For voice, the voice recorder was forced to carry a portable suitcase-sized recorder Maihack, which was a spring wound and weighed about 50 pounds. A little later in the game we used a gear machine for synchronization. It was designed and built for the NFB and was used specifically for the fourth inch audio tape. However, this was not a portable device. Nagra arrived sometime later. The Sync picture contained a 16 mm Auricon, but it could not be held by hand. It weighed about 40 kilos with 1200 foot magazines, so we used a tripod. A lot of stuff was shot with a handy little Arri S. The sound recorder had a lot of environmental sound, and with careful image and sound editing we got it to show that the material was synchronized, the editor's trick from previous document days. You know, a guy who speaks on the phone shot so you couldn't see his mouth move and edit his voice over the picture.
Here I should talk for a moment and talk about this editing activity. The fact is that every cut is a lie. Someone who listens carefully to someone to talk to is taken after a real conversation – or before. Even in the case of multiple camera matches, the editor uses the ideal reaction image as exact, similar moments. And when someone cuts back to the speaker, probably not, the long real conversation is rejected to get to the point. The truth is therefore laid out. The irony is that the editor has to lie to find the truth, otherwise the public would die of boredom or the truth would be suppressed under the tomb's mountain. In any case, at the end of the Candid Eye series, the camera and engineering departments built a small, silent camera. It was a little tricky to hold in hand, a design problem that could eventually be fixed; However, just then, the French Eclair put NPR on the market. Completely balanced by hand, relatively light – about 18 pounds – and almost completely quiet. But it was too late for Candid Eye, even for Lonely Boy [the immediate heir of the Candid Eye series].
The prevailing myth is that Unit B and its new ideas in the film organization were active, that you were a reborn team. Was it difficult to work as part of this group at NFB at this time?
The rumor is only partially true. Yes, there was some contempt for these young upstarts who thought they were making movies. I don't think it would be completely hostile. We were a little joke by making movies in the 16mm "inferior" format as it was called. “Real Professionals” used 35 mm. Lastly, I feel we received the respect of the previous guard. And even they started making an attempt 16 mm. It was less expensive than 35 mm and the units have been far more moveable. BNC Mitchell, a 35mm blimped sound digital camera, weighed about 80 pounds. The French a part of the Movie Board was rather more open to newer ways and shortly accepted them. Within a couple of years, the whole place moved within the new course
Now to succeed in Lonely Boy. It is obvious that Lonely Boy was a part of Candid Eye or not. Was it?
Lonely Boy was not a part of the original Candid Eye collection, although it was a direct descendant. It was made in 1962. Candid Eye led to 1961 at a pageant in Puerto Rico, which was about Maureen Forrester in Puerto Rico. The thought of the movie, I feel, got here from me. We hadn't actually looked at pop music, and here was the prospect to go to this route – a younger, successful pop star from Ottawa, from all locations. Roman and I went to Boston to see certainly one of his live shows. The scene was utterly totally different from what we had experienced. We have been satisfied that there was a movie right here.
I understand that you simply solely had one digital camera for that shot. How did your workforce remedy problems with a lot action on the similar time with one digital camera?
One digital camera was all we would have liked. We had fairly nicely absorbed Tom's modifying classes by then. We turned quite expert at capturing the modifying process – you get loads of minimize material; Get giant footage and close-ups; Get Reaction Photographs; get the fabric to determine the situation and so forth. I'm positive you've observed that Anka-point wears a black puvuun before he steps out on the stage. Then, when he appears in front of the gang, he has a white go well with. Apparently shot at totally different occasions. Not a super reduce, but the common trajectory of the sequence allowed us to eliminate it. As I stated, every minimize is a lie. However typically it’s a lie to inform the truth
The movie has an on the spot feeling as should you and Roman had earned that Anka had come, which is a sign of how the ultimate movie was put together. How much did you know about him before he joined him for a number of days?
We didn't know a lot about Duck once we started. However we noticed his concert in Boston and knew that the material can be wealthy and relatively straightforward to get. So once we had an awesome experience behind it and married a big help, we jumped on the river. Then there was the question of being cautious every second and always attentive and making an attempt to be overwhelmed.
I discover it fascinating that although the synchronous sound was the victory of the haemorrhagic motion, you rejected it in several key moments of the movie. like when the digital camera leans on the face of shouting women once we hear only Duck singing. And when Anka is seen writing on stage in Copacabana, we hear her voice on the monitor that she talks about. Are you able to inform me a bit about how these selections have been made?
Typically the necessity is the mom of the invention. Turning the scream down as Anka nonetheless sings, because despite the fact that the voice editor Kathleen Shannon would reduce and sync each scream to a non-synchronized image, the screams have been a bit too much. The only answer was to disable them. Surprisingly, it worked higher with out them. Imagination continued to deliver them. Also, Duck's efficiency was not saved in that location. Marcel Carriere, a voice recorder, was absent from the gang recording the photographs, not in sync. Should you look rigorously, you’ll notice the moments when Duck's lips go out of sync as they sing. It’s because the sound is recorded for an additional concert a couple of weeks earlier. The band's and Duck's routine was repeated each time. The pace diversified little or no, so sync was gone, nevertheless it was so close that we might use it for short songs. It's the magic of modifying. The same occurred in Copacabana. We used the recording from one other location, but this time the tempo was distant, so we used Anka by speaking about her present to cowl up the contradiction. It was also a random advantage to add another degree of considering, permitting the audience to be in two locations directly. So that you see that it was a necessity that made us creative.
The film is so formidable, employs sounds, artistic voice, self-reflection, interviews. Might you increase a bit to modifying the Lonely Boy service?
Modifying a doc is something that’s created from skinny air. Luggage are sometimes unbiased of time and area, and but, when brought collectively, they begin to attract one another and tone, akin to molecules that type a new substance. In modifying – like calling an instrument – you need to know the principles virtually second. Then it’s a must to let go and permit the material to steer you. Luggage typically inform what they should go for; One have to be alert and pay attention. The modifying course of, particularly Documentary, is probably probably the most demanding part of the movie and additionally it is probably the most rewarding. Within the modifying course of, the movie begins to reside. Even unusual materials, nicely assembled, can really shine. On the contrary, poorly modified good materials can spoil the undertaking. The surgery of Lonely Boy, as all the time, was a collaboration. I made a primary configuration, and Roman and Tom looked at it and made recommendations. Then John Spotton and Man Côté took – both sides of the movie – and made the ultimate spool, adding some ideas that we wouldn't have thought of. So, at this stage, the game's movie is ensemble art. This manner of working was in all probability our distinctive gang. People who have labored have finished loads of nice films. We have been just extra nice as a chamber orchestra.
I want to ask you what it means to you to make a watch movie because Lonely Boy has something superior and it appears that evidently it has one thing to do with the reality, whether or not it is emotional or inner fact. Do you’ve got any thoughts on this?
All of Cartier-Bresson's pictures present us the truth. He was our inspiration because he did it so persistently. It is clear that he had no accident. He knew precisely when to launch. It's a bit totally different with the film. It is on time, so the factor of time becomes necessary. In each instances, nevertheless, there is a widespread compatibility – and its construction. Roman – an awesome structuralist – used his forehead to attach after the rhythms and desperately requested, “What is the structure? What is the construction? “And he was proper to ask about it as a result of it's a movie. CONCLUSIONS I have come to the conclusion that the "structure" is what all the arts really deal with: music, dance, graphic art, theater, literature, architecture, poetry, etc. otherwise we do not see.. This "one thing" is invisible to us, like a fir tree in the dark. But come at Christmas time, people hanging lights around. At first you only see the lights, but if you step back and whip, you will see the shape of the tree, even though the tree itself is still invisible. The lights define it, so we can see it with the conclusion. In this machined analogy, the lights represent "artwork" and wood as "structure". And the construction is what transcends the universe's subatomic particle to the entire cosmos; in reality, we’re all of the small lights hanging on the invisible tree. And the arts are the only means we have now to talk about this structure or fact. So you're right to boost the question. The reality is, what is it, isn't it?
This interview with Wolf Koenig was initially revealed in Take One Journal, 37 (Might 2002). In 2007, Northernstars.ca acquired a digital archive taken by Take One.