Below is a rough draft I wrote for a section about the animated films of the Eames Office, and specifically Dolores Cannata’s contributions to the Eames film THE INFORMATION MACHINE. As the book took shape, there was a lot of cutting and re-arranging material, and this was unfortunately one of the sections that was cut. It’s just as well that I’m posting it up here on the blog because the actual film is also posted on-line at Archive.org.
The Eames Office
Throughout the Fifties, UPA would regularly host open houses and screenings to introduce the broader artistic community to their brand of animated filmmaking. Industrial designer and filmmaker Charles Eames was so impressed by the studio’s work after attending one of these events that he purchased stock in UPA. By the mid-Fifties, Eames was also exploring ways of incorporating more animation into his own films. THE INFORMATION MACHINE: CREATIVE MAN AND THE DATA PROCESSOR (1957) was the first completely animated film produced by Eames. It was commissioned by IBM Corporation’s design director Eliot Noyes to screen in its pavilion at the 1958 Brussels World’s Fair.
The film was designed by Dolores Cannata, and, because of its limited animation, drawn almost entirely by her as well. Cannata (b. 1930) had attended Chouinard Art Institute and started at UPA in 1955, working as a designer and director on THE BOING BOING SHOW shorts like “The Trial of Zelda Belle” and “Just Believe in Make-Believe.” She hailed from an animation family; her father, George Cannata, had been an animator since the 1920s, and her uncle and aunt, Howard and Barbara Baldwin, also worked in the industry. Her younger brother, George Cannata Jr., entered the animation business shortly after she did, also working as a designer and director.
Because of the limited animation in the film, Cannata took a more decorative approach to the drawing, and certain elements, like hair, are rendered with a cluttered look that reminds more of book illustration than animation design. A large part of the film was created with pastel drawings, a decision that Cannata credits to Eames. “When I was doing the storyboard, I worked in pastels, and then when we got into production, I started preparing everything the old-fashioned way with cels,” Cannata explains. “Charles said, ‘No, no, I want the pastel look that you had on the storyboard.’”
During this era, Eames collaborated frequently with other animation artists including Ed Levitt, John Whitney and Chris Jenkyns, on films like THE EXPANDING AIRPORT (1958) used for the presentation of the new Washington International Airport, and PANIC ON WALL STREET (1962) produced for CBS.
Below is a photo of Cannata, ca. mid-1950s, and some stills I scanned in from a print of the film owned by my friend Mark Newgarden.