January 1987

Julian Antonisz Non-camera

Julian Antonisz Foundation

Cinema without a camera
1941 – 1987
Kadr z filmu Oberhausen, Duisburg, Düsseldorf, Dortmund, Hannover, Hamburg, czyli non-camerowy reportaż po Republice Federalnej Niemiec

Julian Józef Antonisz (real name Antoniszczak), filmmaker, inventor, composer. Cofounder of the Kraków branch of the Studio of Film Miniatures, which later became the legendary Animated Film Studio. He created his films using the “non-camera technique” applying animation directly on film by painting, drawing scratching and printing. He constructed series of unique apparatus to make camera-less animations and experimental sound. He made 36 films including 12 episodes of mockumentary series Polish Non-Camera Chronicle that he started in 1981. He passed away in 1987 working on the 13th episode of the Chronicle.

„ I’m a painter, nobody loves me, the nightlife exhausts me. I think I need to make a scandal“.

 (”Fobia" z 1967 r.)


In 1967 one year after graduating from the Academy of Fine Arts in Krakow Antonisz joins the team of Krakow Animation Film Studio. “Phobia”, his animation debut is a story of young and troubled painter. Antonisz lend his voice to the protagonist.

Still from "Phobia" 1967 r.
Page from one of Julian Antonisz's Ideabooks with stills from his cinematic debut "Phobia"


In 1969 Antonisz directs combined, actor-animated film about a woman who wants to fall in a colourful love in a grey reality of Polish People's Republic. The film caused censorship rage and only miraculously avoided destruction of all film copies.

Awards: 1969 - 2 Nationwide Polish Film Festival for Children, Tours

Still from "In the grip of sex" 1969
Still from "In the grip of sex" 1969
Image from a film folder "In the Grip of Sex". Film frames with drawing samples.


Antonisz starts building his archive while studying at the Academy of Fine Arts in Krakow. He collects drawings, ideas, inventions in three folders entitled: “Body”, “Mind”, and “Soul”. The archive grows up to over 250 folders, notebooks and journals.

Cover of Julian Antonisz Ideabook "Pantography".


In 1971 Antonisz crates his most recognised film “How a Sausage Dog Works”. Scientific and economic analysis of Doch haunds anatomy. Antonisz experiments with non-camera techniques scratching film tape and burning it in the film projector.

Awards: 1972 - 21th International Film Festival, Mannheim, award of the International Ecumenical Film Centre, the International Evangelical Prize; 12th Nationwide Polish Short Film Festival, Kraków, Brown Hobby-Horse, 1. OPF Man and His Environment, Katowice, Silver Phoenix

Still from "How a Sausage Dog Works" 1971 r.
Still from "How a Sausage Dog Works" 1971 r.
Sketches for "How a Sausage Dog Works" 1971 r.
Sketches for "How a Sausage Dog Works" 1971 r.
Orygina non-camera film tape 


Satirical manual for longevity.  Combined, actor-animated.

Image from a film folder "A Few Practical Ways to Prolong One’s Life".  On the left: Life Projector. On the right: An old geezer.
Image from a film folder "A Few Practical Ways to Prolong One’s Life".  On the left: Professor’s studio. On the right: The insides of the Cerebral Larynx.


In 1977 Julian Antonisz creates his first entirely non-camera film adapting woodcut technique for animated film.

Oryginal non-camera film from "Sun. A Film without a Camera"
Przykłady eksperymentów Juliana Antonisza z drukiem na taśmie filmowej. Po lewej: Metoda szablonowa, sitodrukowa.
Examples of Julian Antonisz experimental Film Printing techniques. On the left: "Excellent, contrast Thread  Method", on the right: "Wax drawing on film".


On June 4th, 1977 Julian Antonisz writes “Non Camera Artistic Manifesto". The Non Camera Group includes: Danuta Zadrzyńska and Brigitte Dinzart, a French artist studying on a scholarship at the Kraków Academy of Fine Arts. They contact animation professionals: Norman McLaren, Bruno Edera and Thelma Schenkel, trying to establish collaborations with other artists working on non-camera films across the world. Among the individuals who reply to their call is Norman McLaren — one of the most eminent authors of animated films (including non-camera) and a representative of the National Film Board of Canada.

Typescript of "The Non Camera Artistic Manifesto" by Julian Antonisz (Antoniszczak)

The non-camera method allows for immediate visual control, which significantly reduces the production time of the film, and yields superb effects, as it eliminates the whole ballast of film camera, lights, lab processing, as well as other cost-consuming and fussy photographic techniques that permanently deform the original and lead to nothing more than a catalogue reproduction of an artwork, which thus ceases to be authentic and original, and becomes a pathetic photocopy.

(An extract from The Non Camera Artistic Manifesto)


Julian Antonisz divides the space of his Krakow studio in sections devoted to film production steps. Each section is labeld in characteristic hand written style.

Julian Antonisz studio in Krakow. Photo: Weronika Łodzińska 2012 r.
Julian Antonisz studio in Krakow. Photo: Weronika Łodzińska 2012 r.


In 1981 Antoniszczak begins work on his noncamera newsreels, modelled on Polish Film Chronicle. These short, animated ‘news reports’include domestic and international subjects. The commentary, delivered by a nonprofessional narrator, creates an unforgettably comic effect. In the series one finds both the artist’s satirical approach to the world around him, as well as his unique talent for noticing the absurdities of the People’s Republic of Poland. Polish Non-Camera Chronicles pack a healthy dose of humour and original artistic form. The twelve episodes made up until 1986.

Awards: Newsreel nr 1 - 1982 - XXII OFFK Kraków, Bronze Hobby-Horse, Newreel nr 6 - 1984 - International Short Film Festival Oberhausen XXX, the main award and FIPRESCI award, Newsreel nr 12 - 1986 - Head of Cinematography Award in the field of animated film for the pictures, posthumously, along with the film “Light at the End of the Tunnel.”

Still from Polish Non-Camera Newsreel nr 4
Still from Polish Non-Camera Newsreel nr nr 5
Still from Polish Non-Camera Newsreel nr 7


Antonisz created his most important inventions and apparatuses in the years 1968–83. Most of them were used to work on non-camera films — for both image and sound. A number of devices built by Antonisz were based on the idea of the pantograph. It is a drawing instrument consisting of two arms — a mechanical linkage connected in a manner based on parallelograms with two drawing elements attached to the joints. The pantograph allows for creating drawings two at a time; depending on the situation of the drawing element, the second image is enlarged, scaled-down, or rendered in 1:1 scale.


This device known as ‘Antonisz’s Piano’ was arguably the artist’s greatest invention. An elaborate pantograph was equipped with two arms, used for drawing on A6-sized paper, connected by a mechanical linkage with 24 needles that scratched film. Owing to the establishment of correct points of support and the placement of the needles in relation to the pantograph’s arms, the device was able to produce the intermediate phases of movement in a film shot. The use of a ‘phasing pantograph’ made it possible to work on 24 frames at a single time, which corresponds to one second of film. The artist drew using both hands simultaneously: drawing the first phase of a given shot with his left hand, and the last with his right hand. The images of the intermediate phases of movement were drawn automatically on the film. This invention allowed for a partial automation of the animation-making process.

Pantograph-24-Frame-Phasing 1968-1970. Photo: Maciej Landsberg

UNIQUE RAZOR-BLADE SOUND-MACHNE 1970 (making two asymmetrical imprints while-youwait), as well as optical reader)

The imprint is glued onto 35 mm film, automatically operated razor. This machine translated sound vibrations into vibrations of the edge of a razor blade which cut magnetic tape vertically, creating slips with uneven edges. A thin slip of such split magnetic tape was then glued onto a 35 mm film in the section with the soundtrack. The jagged edge of the tape constituted the ‘drawing’ of the sound, which was optically read in the projector. The automation of the sound-making process, in which it was scratched out on the magnetic tape, allowed Antonisz to create a complete film soundtrack. This method was employed in, among others, the film “People Wither Away Like Leaves...”A Film without a Camera.

Unique Razor-Blade Sound-Machine 1970. Photo: Maciej Landsberg


For ‘sewing’ relief stamps with a thread using the ‘vibro-glue’ method for prints, and for carving text into the master-film, as well as prints and copies 35 mm Construction and concept: Julian Antoniszczak born in 1941 in Nowy Sącz, realisation: 1977 This device made it possible to scratch out on the film stock scaled-down images that were drawn on large-size paper. This simple, user-friendly version of the pantograph was built by Antonisz for his 7-year-old daughter Sabina. He improved the apparatus, equipping it with a ‘threadpen’ (or thread-o-graph), that is, a syringe filled with glue. The thread, which ran through the needle of the syringe, unwound from the reel in the course of drawing and stuck to the surface, creating an image. The pen was electrically powered, while a rectifier mounted in the pantograph converted alternating current to direct pulsating current, the impulses of which made it possible to apply the glue in single spots.

Simple Panthograph-Animagraph 1977. Photo: Maciej Landsberg


This optical-electromechanical apparatus for the blind produced images that could be read by touch. Antonisz named the technique ‘scanning texturegraphy’ and referred to the images made with its use as texturegaphs. The idea of texturegraphy, born in the course of experiments with cinema for the blind, consisted in scanning and reproducing selected images on celluloid. The texturegraph was equipped with a camera lens and a photodiode which controlled the pressure applied by the needle that reproduced the image on celluloid in the form of parallel grooves. The shavings and barbs formed on the edges of the grooves created a characteristic, textured image of the original that could be read by touch. The resulting texturegraphs had a diverse surface, which conveyed the chiaroscuro range of the original images.

Antonisz concidered Texturograph to be  his greatest achievement.

Texturography sample 1983
Credits: Story

Kuratorka — Malwina Antoniszczak
Współpraca kuratorska — Sabina Antoniszczak
Dokumenty, obiekty i fotografie z archiwum artysty — © Danuta, Sabina, Malwina Antoniszczak
Wykorzystano fragmenty  — Imię, nazwisko, stanowisko (opcjonalnie)

Credits: All media
The story featured may in some cases have been created by an independent third party and may not always represent the views of the institutions, listed below, who have supplied the content.
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