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The Orchestra
December 7, 2011 8:56 PM   Subscribe

Zbigniew Rybczyński's pioneering 1990 HDTV production, The Orchestra (58m), a study in layered images and classical music, a commentary on man in the 20th century.

Rybczyński began as an avant-garde Polish artist in the 1980s, where he did work such as 1983's Oscar-winning Tango.

He later moved to the US and directed music videos, beginning with Grandmaster Flash's Sign Of The Times. He continued to work for bands such as Art Of Noise, Simple Minds, Cameo, Lou Reed, Alan Parsons Project, Pet Shop Boys, and Rush. His 1987 video for John Lennon's Imagine was created as an early showcase for HDTV technology.

He says that his 1992 HDTV film Kafka (fragment) is his favorite work.

His interest in HDTV and layering/compositing technologies led him to develop cutting edge chromakey software. He currently works for Ultimatte Corporation, an industry leader in the field.
posted by hippybear (19 comments total) 30 users marked this as a favorite

 
Interesting post. But the HDTV links seem to be in standard definition. Are there no HD copies?
posted by zardoz at 9:50 PM on December 7, 2011


The material isn't actually very widely available online. I posted what I could find. Perhaps others will find better links. Most of his stuff isn't even available on DVD, let alone BD.
posted by hippybear at 9:55 PM on December 7, 2011


Possible derail here, but Jim Kerr has got to have one of the most optimistic demeanors in all of rock history.
posted by vverse23 at 10:55 PM on December 7, 2011


I enjoyed this film from 1987: Steps.
posted by romanb at 11:09 PM on December 7, 2011


You can buy DVDs directly from his site.


I have the first one, Media, and it's phenomenal.
posted by louche mustachio at 11:40 PM on December 7, 2011


Zupa (Soup)
Oj! Nie mogę się zatrzymać! (OH! I can't stop!)
Kwadrat
posted by louche mustachio at 11:49 PM on December 7, 2011


Back in the day, Night Flight did a "video profile" feature on him that included one of his first films—a "video" for Dave Brubeck's "Take Five".
posted by Lazlo at 11:54 PM on December 7, 2011


Swieto (Holiday)
Mein Fenster (My Windows)
posted by louche mustachio at 11:57 PM on December 7, 2011


Thank you for this. Tango is an absolutely amazing animation (I made a previous post about it once). I guess that early 90s eastern Europe was the kind of dull, authoritarian place which would have been the perfect incubator for super-time-consuming creative projects like Rybczinski's.
posted by rongorongo at 11:58 PM on December 7, 2011


Here's KAFKA
posted by louche mustachio at 11:59 PM on December 7, 2011 [1 favorite]


I tend to place him more in the 1980s, because that's when I first became aware of his work.

For comparison (and fun) here are a couple of similar pieces by one of his less well known contamporaries:

Hieronin Neumann Blocks

5/4

Marzenie
posted by louche mustachio at 12:16 AM on December 8, 2011


I just started watching "Orchestra" thinking I would just look at a bit- and suddenly it is an hour later. Its fascinating that he was experimenting with HDTV way back then. I guess the results could be transferred to film for display - or one would have to look far and wide for a high res television.

The section with Albinoni's Adagio would make a great video game crossover!
posted by rongorongo at 12:51 AM on December 8, 2011


The 80s gated drum sound made visual!
posted by bendybendy at 4:18 AM on December 8, 2011


I guess that early 90s eastern Europe was the kind of dull, authoritarian place which would have been the perfect incubator for super-time-consuming creative projects like Rybczinski's.

Early 80s, yes. In early 90s Poland was quite the oppposite of authoritarian and dull. And Rybczyński emigrated in 1982.
posted by hat_eater at 4:22 AM on December 8, 2011


I've always been interested in owning some of his works, but unfortunately, and ironically, it seems impossible to find it in HD. Reviews for The Orchestra on Amazon praise the content but are pretty down on the video quality.
posted by swift at 6:51 AM on December 8, 2011


I read this too quickly (and before enough coffee) as Zbigniew Brzezinski and was thoroughly confused for a moment.
posted by jquinby at 7:26 AM on December 8, 2011


Orchestra was produced for the Japanese market, which had the analog MUSE HDTV system starting in the late 1980s. It was rather niche (only one satellite channel broadcasted in the format), so it would probably be non-trivial to find a recording in Japan, then capture and encode it in a modern digital format.
posted by zsazsa at 7:40 AM on December 8, 2011


Thank you for this! I saw The Orchestra broadcast on PBS in the early 90's, was utterly rapt, and caught it on tape when they re-ran it... but stretched-out VHS is pretty much the antithesis of HD. It's awesome to see it again, and I'm so happy to learn about his other stuff.
posted by Westringia F. at 4:37 AM on December 9, 2011


If you are in Berlin, go see a joint retrospective on Rybczyński and Gábor Bódy at the Collegium Hungaricum. It is good.
posted by beshtya at 6:55 AM on December 14, 2011


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