This film is included in the following DVD:

by Jeff SCHER


by Jeff SCHER
2008 / b&w / sound / 1S / 1' 34

The spectacle of flying insects drawn to lights has been a nocturnal magic show since the day our prehistoric ancestors discovered fire.

I’ve been filming the action on back porches for years. Looking at the footage frame by frame, I discovered that most of these insects seem to beat their wings about three times for every film frame. At 24 frames per second, that makes 72 beats each second, by my primitive cine-science. This meant that in order to draw this flight, I needed to incorporate this flurry of motion into progressive blurs on every frame.

“Fly By Night” was animated by drawing in black charcoal on white sheets of paper, which were then photographed in negative. I like working in charcoal because it’s such a happily tactile medium. Smudging it provided the blur and spectral glow and made me feel connected back to those prehistoric campfires that provided our ancestors with a cooked dinner and a show. These are the same fires that gave them charcoal, one of our very first drawing mediums.

The choreography of the insects is a compilation of the flight patterns I observed, which I then reinterpreted with a measure of poetic license. The film is ultimately about meditating on the wonder of the event.

The music by Shay Lynch captures the magic of these miniature aerial ballets of the dark summer nights.


distribution format Digital file on server
screen 4/3 (single screen)
speed 25 fps
sound sound
rental fee 20,00 €