Riding the Infinity Curve…”Grand Prix” 1966

Film Review:

“Grand Prix” (1966) looks vivid due to the 70mm Super Panavision format it was shot in – films made in this defunct analog film format really sing in HD in a way many contemporary films don’t seem to, despite the resolution of 4K digital formats – what made it more gripping was the use of smaller cameras bolted onto the race cars instead of the usual back projection techniques or camera trucks.

It’s quite an old fashioned film now, in story terms, while still trying to retain a documentary element in the editing and shooting style and unlike many films now, you walk away from it with some sense that the characters are enacting some kind of epic drama – a reflection on the human condition and the mindset of race drivers, rather than just a story which happens to be set in the world of race car driving.

Many’s the time I’ve sat at the animation desk or before a computer screen & thought “here we go again” – it reminds me of the cyclical nature of everything – endless repetition at a macro & micro, sometimes insane, scale, like fractals, but with tiny differences in-between which magically combine to create the illusion of life – to an outsider this may be an apt description of the animation process itself.

The “Curve” suggests that as in nature, we can never fully see beyond the curve to see what’s ahead – it’s this knowledge that keeps us going, this sense that each new project offers a new set of challenges to us as artists & keeps us on our toes.

Our work can be categorised as being detailed, almost to an insane degree – often pushing ourselves into competing with the mechanical precision of the computers & digital techniques we use to augment & support the traditional hand-drawn techniques which are the backbone of everything we do – an act of futility, it’s true, so it makes sense to work with, rather than against, any technological advances in our craft – but there are times when a lapse in concentration, a momentary distraction from the bigger picture, can send us spinning off track & you become lost in a maze of technology.

I love “cartoons” but it’s not what I do – conventional animation is broken down into ever-decreasing industrial processes, although by necessity that’s also a part of how I work – the nature of animated cartoons is dictated by the demands of the medium : turnaround times, pacing & accessibility for both the artists who create them and the majority of viewers who watch them.

Lastly, the “infinity loop” has characterised my career path  – “back to the drawing board” or “square one” or whatever, has been an ever-present feature of a varied, exciting and up & down career – always chasing that chequered flag moment that signals the end of one job & the start of the next – less about a teamwork sport and more like the “man against machine against man” of motor racing, and all the risks which that sport carries with it.

Ravi Swami 2015