Ken Rudolph is perhaps best-known in the academic film world for his gripping, seven-minute, 2000 frame charge through art history, Gallery. View Ken's Deep Blue World and Vrooom!. Biography and filmography are below:
Ken Rudolph was born in New York City in 1941. In 1945 his parents moved him to Los Angeles, where his mother grew up in an extended family with several associations to the motion picture industry. He graduated from Beverly Hills High School in 1959, and attended the California Institute of Technology majoring in mathematics for a year until transferring to the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in 1960. At MIT he hosted a Sunday afternoon opera radio show on the student channel; but his interest in science and math waned.
In 1963 he transferred again, this time to UCLA and commenced studies in the film school. By 1966 he was working full time as an apprentice editor and stock-shot unit cinematographer at QM Productions, a company which made such television shows as "The Fugitive", "The FBI," and "12 O'Clock High," while also finishing his studies for the BFA in film at UCLA. However, he never actually received the degree, flunking a zero unit course in film-watching the final semester due to an overload of work editing coming-next-week trailers for the QM Production TV shows.
In 1967, while still at QM Productions, Rudolph worked with childhood friend Charles Braverman making a breakthrough short film called "American Time Capsule" for the Smothers Brothers TV show. The film was shot in Braverman's basement on a home-made horizontal animation stand using a stop-frame 16mm Bolex and pre-synched to a drum music track by Sandy Nelson. This was one of the first films in a process later termed "kinestasis," where still photos were animated by editing quick cuts of as few as 2 frames to a musical beat. In 1968 Rudolph refined the shooting technique by utilizing the Oxberry animation stand at Cal Arts Chouinard to help produce Braverman's next film for the Smothers Brothers, called "The World of '68."
In 1969, Rudolph left QM Productions to work at Paramount studios as an apprentice, then assistant editor on the film "Darling Lili." At that point, he turned away from the traditional Hollywood career path to edit and direct a series of award-winning fast-cut educational short films for Pyramid Films, starting with a sports compilation film using the footage of Warren Miller called "Turned On." This was followed by a surfing film "Hang Ten" and a ski film called "Ski Whiz." All these films utilized fast-cutting the sports footage to music. A series of nature films edited to original music tracks followed: flowers with "Bouquet," undersea life with "Ocean," and "Full Fathom Five," and the formation of beautiful crystals in "Crystals."
By 1971, Rudolph had become an animation camera specialist. He directed and shot Gallery, a film which encapsulated the history of art to a Wendy Carlos soundtrack. He returned to the world of undersea life in the animated Deep Blue World with a soundtrack by Jerry Garcia. Concurrently, Rudolph worked at Braverman Productions editing documentaries and animating still-photo montages to pop music for commercials (winning an editing Cleo for a Xerox commercial, "Black History") and music montages for such record companies as Casablanca, Capitol and A&M Records. In 1975, he edited the prize-winning short "Nixon: Checkers to Watergate." His documentary editing led to his directing VROOOM!, his last film for Pyramid, a history of the National Hot Rod Association utilizing original footage shot at local drag races, with a music track written for the film by Basil Poledouris. His short film works led to his induction into the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences in 1975.
For the next few years Rudolph expanded his career in several directions. He edited and created animated sequences mostly for pop music companies, working with Fleetwood Mac, Michael Jackson, Joe Jackson, Styx, and The Police. He created title sequences for movies and television (among them the main title for "Phyllis" and movie montages for "Same Time Next Year"). He became adept at special effect cinematography, serving as creative director at one of the first major f/x studios, Bob Able & Associates, where he made a series of sports channel bumpers for French television using state-of-the-art computerized equipment.
By 1980, Rudolph was working on his own computerized animation stand at Kramer/Rocklen Studios, where he created title sequences and shot the work of other directors. Much of the work in that period can be found on Rudolph's IMDb page. In 1986, he purchased the Oxberry stand that he was working on and formed his own company, Kenimation, dedicated to shooting complex moving photo montages, title sequences and multi-pass special effects shots for various directors.
In 2007, Rudolph retired. He continues to be involved in the film culture by attending film festivals and writing about them on his blog. The blog is a significant resource for modern scholars and critics containing capsule reviews of over 6000 films from the year 2000 to the present.
Ken writes: "I was looking through all my answer prints. I
came up with these. All of them were made between 1968 and 1974; but I have no
idea any more which order they were made in or what the exact year was.
However, I've tried to put them in order."