My father was a hoarder. That’s really not a good thing, except in rare instances. This is one of them. Among the hundreds of videotapes in his attic, I found one that was gold–a betamax tape that had some stop-motion animation that my father and I had done circa 1982-1984.
The tape was clearly labeled “Animation”, so I knew it was the tape we’d made, but it was betamax and I didn’t have a betamax player to allow me to digitize it. I had to send it in to a transfer company.
When I first got the tape back, it had nothing on it but an instructional video from Chrysler. I was so disappointed. I let the company know that they hadn’t captured the animation from the beginning because I was sure this was the tape. They let me return it and the second time around, they got it.
The animation is crude. It was more experimental than any serious attempt at film making. Regardless, I was happy to have been able to salvage this video from my youth. I had always admired the stop-motion animation from Ray Harryhausen (Sinbad movies, Jason and the Argonauts, etc.), but really got interested in the technique after seeing a documentary on the Special Effects of The Empire Strikes Back that showed how they did the tauntaun and AT-AT animation.
The video here has three segments. The first (a two-legged monster) is just a few seconds (most of it was overwritten/lost) and is my first-ever animation. The second (a dinosaur) is my father’s. These two were done around 1982. The third, a series of fights between two Micronauts (a toy line from Mego), is mine and was done years later (around 1984 is my best guess based on the soundtrack “Shooting Shark”, released that year).
Aside from the deterioration of the tape that had been stored in the attic for over 35 years, the betamax machine didn’t have a flying erase head, which meant that pausing/resuming a recording showed up as a visible glitch. Because stop-motion required short frequent pauses, the video was full of distortion. I’m surprised the video transfer company was able to get as good of quality as they did.