Zibigniew Rybczinski's "Tango"
June 19, 2007 6:10 AM   Subscribe

“Thirty-six characters from different stages of life - representations of different times - interact in one room, moving in loops, observed by a static camera. I had to draw and paint about 16.000 cell-mattes, and make several hundred thousand exposures on an optical printer. It took a full seven months, sixteen hours per day, to make the piece”[ source]: Zbig Rybczynski on the making of his award winning (and much imitated) animation "Tango "(YT, mildly NSFW).
posted by rongorongo (27 comments total) 8 users marked this as a favorite
Which you can purchase here.
posted by rongorongo at 6:11 AM on June 19, 2007 [1 favorite]

Tango is one of my favorite shorts. Pretty sure I linked to it about 3 years back but it's always worth a visit. I have that three dvd set. It's very nice.
posted by dobbs at 6:23 AM on June 19, 2007

It's weird how all the characters but one seem to disappear around the 3:33 mark.
posted by gwint at 6:29 AM on June 19, 2007

it's interesting, in a way, but... 7 months, 16 hours per day?

If you look at return on investment, this falls a bit short
posted by HuronBob at 6:34 AM on June 19, 2007

I've seen the parodies of this (Drew Carey show did it for an opening once) but had never seen the original.

"return on investment"? it's art. Spending the better part of a year making something that is timeless is far better than say spending 4 hours a day for twenty years that no one will ever care about or see. I think it's a great return on investment.
posted by inthe80s at 6:47 AM on June 19, 2007

If you look at return on investment, this falls a bit short

Yeah. To think, he could have gone out with his buds and drank beer or, even better, NAPPED during that time. What an idiot.
posted by dobbs at 6:55 AM on June 19, 2007

"mildly" NSFW?

Pretty cool, though.
posted by DU at 6:55 AM on June 19, 2007

From the YouTube comments: "i remember when i first saw this in college. i thought it was the most awesome thing ever. but now you can really see the masking. it looks kinda cheap. but hey for 1980 its a masterpiece. someone needs to remake this with today's technology."

Not everything needs to be remade. Personally, I like the masking. It lends the entire thing a sort of semi-cartoonish, comic book feel, much like the visual styling used in A Scanner Darkly. In my mind, were it to look photorealistic, it would lose much of what makes it visually interesting.
posted by caution live frogs at 6:58 AM on June 19, 2007

Animation is a product of many tedious hours. It is a labor of love.

But, if you want to calcuate value as a function of time, it took Zibigniew roughly 25,500 times as long to make Tango as it takes one person to watch it.

So, if at least 25,500 people have derived enjoyment from his art, it is a 1:1 ratio between his work and someone else's joy. A noble sacrifice. I have never come close to such success.
posted by Izner Myletze at 7:02 AM on June 19, 2007 [4 favorites]

HuronBob - I have a friend who is an animator. She described her experience of attending several animator's conferences where multiple attendees ended the evening in an ambulance en route to get the excess alcohol pumped from their stomachs. These would be the sorts of people who had just completed months of 16 hour days so that they could have their work ready to show. It is simply a different mindset from most people (although in communist Poland circa 1980 I guess there would have been fewer potential distractions).
posted by rongorongo at 7:05 AM on June 19, 2007

If you look at return on investment, this falls a bit short
posted by HuronBob at 6:34 AM on June 19

Look at this another way. He was the first to do this. Everyone else is now an imitator. Its like he woke up early, technologically speaking, and beat everyone else to the punch.

Also the effort itself only adds to its artfulness.
posted by vacapinta at 7:33 AM on June 19, 2007

Don't get me wrong, folks, I appreciate the energy and time he put into this work, and it is clever. I guess I sort of look at it as an OCD approach to life/art, like building the worlds largest house of cards, or longest string of knock each other down dominoes (there must be a word for that?). Perhaps it just isn't my thing... I probably should have said that the "return on investment" was not sufficient for ME to undertake this task.

Dobbs, you've got a pretty narrow range of activities to choose from there...
posted by HuronBob at 7:47 AM on June 19, 2007

Awesome, I'd never seen this.

The notion of return on investment is very strange, but I think, given the many homages, that you might be calculating incorrectly, HuronBob.
posted by OmieWise at 8:03 AM on June 19, 2007

On preview: vacapinta said it first.

As strange as the notion that the finished piece of art equates with a return on investment, it's wrong to consider the 8 minute piece you watched as the return, when the influence of the piece is considerable and more properly represents that.
posted by OmieWise at 8:05 AM on June 19, 2007

Wow! Who knew Jimmy Carter's foreign policy adviser was also an animator?
posted by Cookiebastard at 8:18 AM on June 19, 2007

7 x 30 x 16 in my field of expertise would make me a millionaire, absent any weird breaks. damn.
posted by Heywood Mogroot at 8:19 AM on June 19, 2007

I loved it, I was captivated. I've never seen this or any imitations of it. Can someone link to any of the imitators or things that reference this in some way?
posted by arcticwoman at 8:33 AM on June 19, 2007

one of my favorite shorts. about the return of investment comment, he received an oscar for it.
posted by namagomi at 8:33 AM on June 19, 2007

"Can someone link to any of the imitators or things that reference this in some way?"
The words "and much imitated" in my original post link to three sources, acticwoman. There are many more - I was reminded of this animation by a recent derivative advert shown in the UK which features an animation of the boy getting into and out of a window frame. Was not able to remember which however. A building society maybe?
posted by rongorongo at 8:40 AM on June 19, 2007

It's the Kylie Minogue I saw first back in the '90, and I remember thinking "wow, those are so imaginative guys"

And now this :)

Calculating time is just useless, it's the creativity that is stunning, I doubt many people can think of such thing .
posted by zouhair at 8:53 AM on June 19, 2007

I'm sorry rongorongo, I was being a moron. Thanks.
posted by arcticwoman at 8:57 AM on June 19, 2007

If you look at return on investment, this falls a bit short

That is difficult to calculate.

Who knows what jobs the artist was able to parlay from this piece as his calling card? Who knows the value of the experience he gained towards his future career? Who knows what amount of personal satisfaction and sense of achievement he reaped? Who knows if he got a date with that nude blonde actress because of this animation? Who knows how much actual money he made on "tango" over the intervening years in relationship to his initial time and costs?
posted by fairmettle at 9:39 AM on June 19, 2007

"Who knows if he got a date with that nude blonde actress because of this animation?"

I hadn't thought of that... Ok, I take back my comment.
posted by HuronBob at 10:36 AM on June 19, 2007

"Tango" made Rybczynski an instant legend. I've seen a lot of the bizarre shorts he made in the late '70s. The joke at the time was, does Polish communism do this to the brain?....

He is probably most famous for making this Art of Noise video, in 1984.
posted by metasonix at 11:47 AM on June 19, 2007

Ahhh wow this is amazing. Thanks rongorongo. The layering & timing is is spot on - he's worked out who is in front of who in 3D space. 7 months on such an incredible work of art makes him a visionary. Return on investment is irrelevant.

I bet he took a few breaks during those 16hr days. Coffee, tea, and plenty of stuff that doesn't involve surfing the internet - examples of which elude me!
posted by algreer at 12:31 PM on June 19, 2007

I think I first saw Tango on USA Network's Night Flight. They showed it as part of their half-hour portrait of Rybczynski, along with a bunch of his music videos for Art of Noise, Lady Pank, Chuck Mangione, and other bands/musicians. Just last week I came across my old Betamax tape of a shorter version of that episode, which has an excerpt of Tango. That was always my favorite episode of Night Flight.
posted by geneablogy at 1:58 PM on June 19, 2007

I have "Media." I love Zbig Rybczynski, he's a real innovator. This is the first short I saw - it was part of an animation festival.

Zbig Films does protect protect copyright; not super aggressively, but watch this while you can. I guarantee they will nuke it.
posted by louche mustachio at 7:25 PM on June 19, 2007

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