In 1986 I met Dave Herr. We played in a band together, using his father’s chicken coop as our rehearsal space. In early 1987 we saw the Brother’s Quay film “Street of Crocodiles” at the Walker Art Center and got excited about animation, appropriating the adjacent barn loft as our film studio. We bought two used super-8 film cameras and began to conduct experiments between dusk and dawn, when we could control the lighting in the barn. Wearing white lab jackets and taking notes about everything that occurred, we approached the work with a quasi-scientific mania. We were very young and everything was possible.
It’s from this experience that I derived the name “ein aus,” which I still use for my production company today. We had a German-made shutter release labeled, “ein aus” for “on off.” To create the footage in which I appear to fly about the set, for example, Dave would say “ein” and I would leap as high as I could with my arms in position. Dave would say “aus” at the peak of my jump, clicking the button back and thus capturing a single frame. I think I jumped as high as I could over three thousand times one night, while drinking eighty ounces of Dr. Pepper and ultimately throwing up.
I made one compilation of this period of experimentation in 1991, which was fifteen minutes long and called “The Simple Animation Sampler.” In 2001, I edited this shorter compilation. Dave died of brain cancer in the fall of 2009 and I returned to this footage to make a portrait film about our friendship "The Sparrow's Flight." Dave was my foil and counterpart for all of my young adult life and the most unselfconsciously creative person I’ve ever met.
You can read more about this footage here and here.