You'd think an Oscar-winning animated short starring Tom Waits would be well known in certain circles, especially when it's entitled "Tom Waits For No One".
But it appears this 1979 short by The Lyon Lamb Company was hiding out on the edge of the pop culture infosphere waiting to reappear and blow our minds.
Here's a little background on this obscure animated short:
“Tom Waits for No One” is the title of an absolutely amazing animated short that was made in 1979 by the Lyon Lamb company, the Oscar-winning technological innovators behind the Lyon Lamb Video Animation System which allowed animators to see immediate pencil tests of something without having to shoot it on film.
Through a series of lucky events (seeing Tom Waits in his memorable TV appearance on Fernwood 2Night, then a few weeks later noticing Waits’ name on the marquee of the Roxy nightclub after a screening of Close Encounters of the Third Kind was sold out), John Lamb came to direct Waits in a rotoscoped animation for his song “The One That Got Away” to demonstrate their new device for the film industry.
Over thirteen hours of video was shot and edited down to 5,500 frames, which were then individually re-drawn and hand-painted onto celluloid acetate. What today would take a comparatively trivial amount of time then took the best in the business about six months of hard work.
adly, the impressive short had few outlets for people to see it, preceding MTV as it did by just a few years. The film remained in obscurity until it was uploaded to YouTube a few years back, and Lamb—who kept nearly all of the film’s elements safely stored away—started a Kickstarter to fund a remastering in modern day video resolution. There’s also a book, Tom Waits for No One: The Illustrated Scrapbook, that was published in 2014.