Infinite Animation: The Work of Adam Beckett

Presented by the Academy’s Science and Technology Council in conjunction with the iotaCenter

Hosted by visual effects artist Richard Winn Taylor and Adam Beckett biographer Pamela Turner

Adam Beckett (1950–1979) was an influential animator and visual effects artist whose career straddled the line between art film and the special effects industry. Well known for his unique use of the optical printer in conjunction with the animation stand, Beckett’s technical achievements ranged from his work on highly experimental art films to commercial films including “Star Wars” (1977), for which he was recruited to head the rotoscope and animation department, and the 1978 horror film “Piranha,” on which he worked as an animator.

Between 1970 and 1975, while still a student in Jules Engel’s then newly-formed experimental animation program at the California Institute of the Arts, Beckett completed six groundbreaking films. His complex, intense work, which has been described as “a masterful visual universe,” had a great impact on his peers and won awards at numerous film festivals. In 1975, Beckett started his own studio, Infinite Animation, while simultaneously pursuing his MFA and teaching at CalArts. Tragically, he died in a fire in 1979 at the age of 29.

Hosted by Richard Winn Taylor and Beckett biographer Pamela Turner, this special program included a screening of several of Beckett’s remarkable short films, all recently restored by the iotaCenter and the Academy Film Archive: “Dear Janice” (1972), “Heavy-Light” (1973), “Evolution of the Red Star” (1973), “Flesh Flows” (1974), “Sausage City” (1974) and “Kitsch in Synch” (1975). The evening also featured a screening of one of Beckett’s last films, “Life in the Atom,” which remained unfinished at his death.

An onstage panel of friends and colleagues discussed Beckett’s life and work. Guests included Oscar-winning visual effects artists David Berry and Richard Edlund, animator Chris Casady, and filmmakers Beth Block, Roberta Friedman and Pat O’Neill.

Images courtesy of the iotaCenter and the Adam Beckett family.

Adam Beckett

Adam Beckett

Event Information

Monday, August 17, at 8 p.m.
Linwood Dunn Theater
1313 Vine Street
Hollywood, CA 90028
Adam Beckett

Visual effects artist/co-host Richard Winn Taylor and biographer/co-host Pamela Turner

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