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Three years ago, I—and twenty-three colleagues of mine—put together an illustrated animation history timeline called Animation Art. The goal was to create a concise visual overview of animation history over the past hundred years. I've been delighted to hear, during the last year, from many college and high school teachers who have told me the tome makes a great text book and starting point for discussion of animation history.
Now, particularly for those who were afraid to get the book due to the strange, off-putting psychedelic eyeball on the cover (above left), I've got some good news. Our long international nightmare is over. My publisher has changed the cover image. Now it's a mongtage of current (mostly CG) images. At least the forgotten 1930s inkblot "Foxy" rates a spot—pointing a gun at my byline. If the cover kept you from getting a book before, now you have no excuse to pick it up and take a peek. It's back in bookstores this month.
Ward Kimball made this film independently from the Disney Studio in 1968. It is the only independent short ever made by one of Disney's Nine Old Men. He screened it at film festivals, college campuses and personally gave 16mm copies to friends and liberal-minded fans. The film below may be considered NSFW depending on where you work.
(Thanks to Ted Thomas, Steve Segal, John Canemaker)
Here's something that's cool for cool's sake. Brazilian film students Cesar Turin, Dalila Martins, Dani Libardi and Dhyana Mai have produced a shot-by-shot live-action remake of Jan Pinkava's Oscar-winning Pixar short GERI'S GAME (1997). The actor they found to play Geri is absolutely perfect for the role. Watch it below and then compare it to the original Pixar short here.
On Monday, Turner Broadcasting and the advertising agency involved agreed to pay $2 million in compensation to Boston over the AQUA TEEN HUNGER FORCE publicity-stunt-turned-bomb-scare. Today Cartoon Network president Jim Samples resigned over the matter.
To: ColleaguesIf they would just stick to making and showing cartoons...
From: Jim Samples
I am sure you are aware of recent events in which a component of an Adult Swim marketing campaign made Turner Broadcasting the unintended focus of controversy in Boston and around the world. I deeply regret the negative publicity and expense caused to our company as a result of this campaign. As general manager of Cartoon Network, I feel compelled to step down, effective immediately, in recognition of the gravity of the situation that occurred under my watch. It's my hope that my decision allows us to put this chapter behind us and get back to our mission of delivering unrivaled original animated entertainment for consumers of all ages. As for me, there will be new professional challenges ahead that will make the most of the experiences I've had as part of this remarkable company. Through my 13 years at the company I have found myself continuously in awe of the talented artists and business people surrounding me, from those who realize their vision in creating a cartoon to those who so brilliantly deliver the animation to viewers. I will always cherish the experience of having worked with you. I appreciate the support that you have shown me. As a friend and a fan, I also look forward to seeing your best and most personally fulfilling work yet. Cartoon Network, Adult Swim, Boomerang and each of you deserve nothing less.
During a Disney investor's conference yesterday, John Lasseter and Ed Catmull announced some major Disney-Pixar news. Notably, that TOY STORY 3 is scheduled for release in 2009. Pixar vet Lee Unkrich (co-director of TOY STORY 2, MONSTERS, INC. and FINDING NEMO) is going solo as director for the first time. He's working from a script by Michael Arndt (LITTLE MISS SUNSHINE). Also, it was announced that Disney story artist Chris Williams is the new director of AMERICAN DOG, which is set for 2008 release. You may recall the buzz from last December when Chris Sanders was unexpectedly removed from the project (Sanders has now left Disney). More notes from yesterday's conference can be found in this VARIETY article.
Need something awesome to do in LA this Saturday? Check out the art show opening "After These Messages: A Tribute to Saturday Mornings of the Past" which opens at Nucleus Gallery (30 W. Main Street, Alhambra, CA 91801). The show features new paintings, prints, installations and sculptures by dozens of artists who have been influenced and inspired by SatAM cartoons. Numerous animation artists are showing including Alex Kirwan, Ben Jones, Derrick Wyatt, Elizabeth Ito, Megan Brain, Anna Chambers, Jeaux Janovsky and Bob Doucette. Refreshments and breakfast cereals will be served and live DJ too. Complete details at the Gallery Nucleus site.
Shane Acker, the director of the atmospheric Oscar-nominated short 9, was a special guest at the ANIMATION SHOW screening in LA a couple nights ago. I had the opportunity to do a short Q&A with him on-stage after the screening and there were lots of excellent questions from the audience. One of the primary topics of discussion was about how 9 is currently being adapted into a full-length animated feature. I can't think of a better short to be expanded into a feature. There's plenty of cinematic vision in Shane's original short as well as the sense of a fully developed world that's just begging to be explored and fleshed out. Acker is also directing the feature and the producers include Tim Burton and NIGHT WATCH director Timur Bekmambetov.
The feature version of 9 is being animated in Luxembourg at Attitude studios and will be released by Focus Features. During our Q&A, Shane announced for the first time the voice cast for his film. The leads are Christopher Plummer, Martin Landau, Elijah Wood and John C. Reilly. If that voice cast is any indication, this isn't going to be your typical paint-by-numbers CG feature and that's something to be excited about. Focus Features, which is the art house arm of Universal Pictures, is also the distributor of Henry Selick's upcoming flick CORALINE (currently being produced at Laika).
If you couldn't make it to last summer's incredible Tokyo THE ART OF DISNEY exhibition, or couldn't get a copy of the fantastic exhibition catalog (pictured above), you still have one more chance at it. Disney Japan is releasing a DVD/Blu-Ray copy of the exhibition on April 25th. Click here to see a trailer for it. The question is: Will it be accessible outside of Japan?
(Thanks, Celbi Pegoraro)
YO GABBA GABBA! has been picked up for twenty half-hour episodes by Nick Jr. The kooky live-action/animated preschooler variety show is produced by The Magic Store and W!LDBRAIN. It'll begin production in April in Orange County, CA, and the show will premiere on Nick Jr. this fall.
YO GABBA GABBA! is created by Christian Jacobs, Justin Lyon and Scott Schultz. They started the Magic Store in 2005 and produced two half-hour episodes of YO GABBA GABBA! independently. The show became an online viral hit last summer (we even plugged it on the Brew in June 06) and Nick Jr. announced late last month that they were picking it up as a series.
Here. Practice your inking skills with this 1934 Popeye Inking Chart direct, via a time warp, from the Fleischer Studios. And don't forget to powder your cels.
(Thanks, Mike Van Eaton)
Cuppa Coffee president Adam Shaheen responded indirectly to my recent post, "Cuppa Coffee Wants To Ream Filmmakers" (Feb. 5), by writing a letter to Cold Hard Flash's Aaron Simpson. Shaheen's response can be read in its entirety here.
It's a lengthy response but what Shaheen doesn't discuss is more noteworthy than what he does. For one, he doesn't address my primary complaint: why does Cuppa Coffee expect to receive exclusive rights to all the animated shorts entered in the contest, across all media, forever, without any obligation of compensating any of the artists?
The only response that Shaheen manages is, "Any short film that earns a development deal with Cuppa Coffee, would then naturally involve the author being integrated into an upfront deal that would be negotiated fairly between the two parties - again, a true negotiation that doesn’t present as being anything but that." That's essentially saying, 'Yeah the contract you sign to enter the program is unfair, but if you win, we'll then negotiate a more fair contract with you. And guess what, if you don't win our development deal, we still own the rights to your film.'
With the explosion of online video, there's new contests like this popping up every week—two other recent ones are iLaugh's Shortfest and AniBoom's Eyedoll contest. All of these contests have ulterior motives: either helping to build a company's brand/library or getting free development out of artists. In every case, the benefit of the collective entries coming into these companies far outweigh the benefit returned to the individual artists who are entering the contest.
Frankly, I think it's time to get over this silly and insulting notion that creating animation is a game. Animated filmmaking is not a contest and no piece of classic animation has ever been produced because of a contest. Animation is an art form and a business. Investing time and effort into creating quality work and backing it up with some basic business skills is the only proven formula for achieving success in this industry.
One final thought. In his letter, Shaheen writes,
"At the end of the day, would you rather own 100% of something that sits on Youtube, or would you prefer to relinquish your rights and use this piece as a launching pad for your career?"
Personally, if I was going to "relinquish my rights" to further my career, I'd rather relinquish it to a major network like MTV (as Mike Judge did for Beavis & Butt-Head), Nickelodeon (as John K. and Stephen Hillenburg did), Fox (as Matt Groening did), Cartoon Network (as Genndy Tartakovsky and Craig McCracken did) or Comedy Central (as Parker and Stone did) than to a Canadian production house looking to attach itself to my talent under the guise of a contest.
ASIFA-Hollywood's Animation Archive has posted a rare 1938 animators handbook, the Disney Studios Artist's Tryout Book. It outlines what each department does and what is expected of each employee. This book is fascinating, especially in comparison to the way studios operate today. Story Men are required to draw. Inking and Painting is the only department open to women. Special note is made of Television, which shows the studio was thinking ahead, to how animation would adapt to a new medium.
Speaking of new mediums, ASIFA-Hollywood's annual event, The Annie Awards, are being bestowed this Sunday in a star-studded presentation at the Alex Theatre in Glendale. VIP tickets are sold out, but I've been told there are still a few general seats available. The pre-show reception starts at 3pm, the award ceremony begins at 5pm and the gala post-event party (this year in a tent behind the theatre) starts around 7:15pm. See you there.
A lot of Aardman's work in recent years has been too slick and labored for its own good, but one of their new series marks a wonderful return to their roots. PURPLE AND BROWN, a batch of interstitials produced for Nickelodeon, features two blobs of clay who engage in pointless activities and make a lot of noise. It's a simple concept, beautifully animated and hilariously executed; one might say they're reminiscent of early Henson work.
Over thirty of the shorts are available on this YouTube channel. A warning for the time-strapped: these cartoons are addictive—once you watch one, you'll want to watch all of them.
UPDATE: Animator Keith Lango has an elegant little blog post where he writes about why he likes these Aardman spots. I agree with him completely.
(via Fous d'Anim)
Director/designer Marc Craste (JOJO IN THE STARS) has completed a new :60 CG spot for Lloyds TSB. Watch the commercial here (15mb). The idea and execution of the commercial isn't as inspired as the stunning UK National Lottery spot that Craste directed last year, but the overall effect is still quite charming. It was produced at studio aka.
Italian animation legend Emanuele Luzzati has died at age 85. He collaborated with Giulio Gianini on numerous cut-out animation shorts including the Oscar-nominated films THE THIEVING MAGPIE and PULCINELLA, as well as AN ITALIAN IN ALGIERS and THE MAGIC FLUTE. Luzzati also had a prolific career outside of animation, both as a book illustrator and a theatrical set designer. Animation director Michael Sporn is offering some worthwhile insights about Luzzati on his blog. Be sure and check out Mike's post about Luzzati's passing as well as the image set from THE THIEVING MAGPIE. More Luzzati art will be posted on Sporn's blog in the coming days.
The new edition of the Animation Show arrives in LA tomorrow, February 7. It's playing for one night at UCLA's Royce Hall. Showtimes are 6:30pm and 9:30 pm and ticket prices are $10. The program is, of course, quite excellent.
Best of all, the first ten folks to email me will receive a FREE ticket to tomorrow's LA screening, courtesy of the fine folks at the Animation Show. OUR FREE TICKETS ARE ALL GONE NOW.
I woke up this morning to the news that Disney is entering a partnership with Robert Zemeckis to create a new in-house studio to produce motion capture films.
Mo-Cap? Oh-Crap! In a parallel universe, (the one in my mind, anyway) Disney was supposed to make a deal with Aardman for clay films... not with Zemeckis and motion capture. There is a part of me that would like to think that Disney bought in with Zemeckis just to keep him and his future "performance capture" projects off the market... but I doubt it. The grosses (and Oscar prestige) of Happy Feet and Monster House are too great for Disney to ignore.
I'm guessing this is an Iger-led business decision, not a Lasseter-led creative one. Let's not forget the studio's mandate: Disney must dominate animated features. Number 1—buy Pixar. Number 2—buy any other technique or filmmaker encroaching on our dominance in the market. Teaming with Zemeckis is part of that plan.
I hated the look of Polar Express, but could see some potential for the technique in Monster House. However, neither film can be compared to the true art of hand-drawn Disney animation. John Lasseter is commited to reviving traditional hand drawn character animation at the studio and this new business deal does nothing to slow those plans. While this new arrangement doesn't bode well for Disney's own (non-Pixar) CG feature projects, it does keep Disney at the forefront of digital filmmaking—with a new twist on an old technology. I can't help but think that Max Fleischer is looking down on all this and having the last laugh.
Finally, somebody has combined two of my passions: coffee and cartoons. Flip Cafe is a coffeeshop in Bangkok that, according to their site, "is a place for animation and film lovers to get together, to get inspired, and to explore the world of moving images." Their space looks comfy and inviting, and besides serving coffee, Flip Cafe hosts free animation screenings every Wednesday as well as animation workshops for kids. Best of all, their screenings aren't randomly selected cartoons but nicely curated film programs. For example, their show tomorrow evening includes stop motion works by Ladislaw Starewicz, Barry Purves and Ray Harryhausen. Upcoming screenings include a program on pixilation and a screening of THE CORPSE BRIDE. I have no idea if the place is as cool as the website makes it look, but I'd definitely be checking it out if I were in Thailand.
Romain Segaud (b. 1980) is one of France's most exciting up-and-coming animation talents. He was the co-director of the awesome student film TIM TOM (mentioned here earlier) and the music video BIP BIP (pictured above). Now he has a website—RomainSegaud.com—featuring most of his animated films and commercial work. I love all the fun inventive movement he manages to get into his digital photo cut-out style.
(via Fous d'Anim)
Below are the striking titles for the Madonna film WHO'S THAT GIRL (1987). The titles, which reimagine Madonna as a Betty Boop-ish figure, were designed by Daniel Melgarejo (1948-1989), an Argentinean cartoonist who did a lot of work at Disney's Character Merchandising division in the 1980s. Among the artists who animated on this opening were John Canemaker and Elinor Blake. Last year, Oscar Grillo posted some of Daniel's illustration work on his blog and there's a tribute site to Melgarejo here.
UPDATE: A reader, who prefers to remain anonymous, wrote in to say that the Madonna character in the video was animated entirely by Doug Frankel, who is currently an animator at Pixar.
UPDATE #2: Animator Norma Rivera-Klingler, who worked on the titles, writes to say that the Madonna character was not animated entirely by Doug Frankel, as mentioned above. Norma writes:
The scenes Doug animated were the ones where she turns around and lip syncs to the song, then she dances with the local hookers, then the one where she steps in front of the store with multiple images of herself walking...the walking animation was animated by Bob McKnight and he animated quite a few of her scenes as well. Dan Haskett, Bill Plympton, Bob Scott, Rick Machin, Ed Rivera and I, Norma Rivera (his sister, not wife), also animated on the titles. I animated the opening where she steps out of the Warner Bros. shield, strikes a pose then drops. Bob McKnight's animation picks up from there. I also animated when the thugs are running and one gets stuck in the manhole and when the thugs toss the body in the trunk as Madonna gets in her car...Bob Scott's animation picks up from there. Ed animated the crowd of blue people who ogle at Madonna as she passes...those are caricatures of some of the people working at the studio....Broadcast Arts, now Curious Pictures NY...Ed is the curly haired guy, Rick Machin is the Smooth haired guy and I think Daniel was one of them...the bald guy. I don't remember exactly who animated what in the rest of the title, but I'm sure there will be someone else to pass on any information.
(Thanks, Marc Crisafulli)
I can't explain MUGGY-DOO BOY CAT, but I feel compelled to acknowledge its existence.
Animator Hal Seegar (1917-2005) had a prolific career, as a Fleischer animator (Mr. Bug), a Hollywood screenwriter (several forgetable B pictures in the 1940s) and a latter day producer of TV cartoons (Milton The Monster, Batfink, Out Of The Inkwell, etc.). In the 1950s he wrote comic books (Leave it to Binky and A Date With Judy for DC) and briefly partnered with publisher Stanley Estrow to start Stanhall Comics (G.I. Jane, The Farmer's Daughter, et al). Seeger apparently created all the humor comics for this line. The one "funny animal" entry was Muggy-Doo Boy Cat. The character had a strange combination of inspirations - not the least was his "Yellow Kid" sweat shirt which would have a different zany slogan in each panel. Cartoonist (and animation storyman) Irv Spector drew these books in a funny Milt Gross meets Walt Kelly style.
Apparently Seeger had big plans for the Boy Cat. Ten years after the comics made their debut, Seeger, having hit it big producing low budget animation for TV, made a pilot with Muggy Doo in 1963. It failed to sell, but he did however sell it to Paramount Pictures who, strangely enough, released it as a theatrical short subject! Seeger revived Muggy Doo one more time - this time as a Boy Fox - as a back up feature on The Milton The Monster Show (ABC, 1965).
Muggy-Doo Boy Cat, we salute you. The public never did catch on to your comic genius despite your creator's persistence. Below is the first three minutes of the 1963 pilot, animated by Myron Waldman. The film credits Seeger's wife, Beverly Arnold, as creator - but don't you believe it. This is Seeger's masterpiece. He deserves all the credit.
UPDATE: Kiddie Record expert Greg Ehrbar adds this additional tidbit:
"Muggy Doo sounds like New York actor Herb Duncan, a stage actor who did lots of commercials, some TV, some animation (The Ballad of Smokey the Bear) and records (he was George and Elroy on the Jetsons on Golden Records and Mike on MAD's "Gall in the Family Fare" flexi-disc."Previously on the BREW:
Toronto-based animation studio Cuppa Coffee Studios has always struck me as a decent outfit, but I've lost a lot of respect for them after hearing about their latest endeavor. ZooTube is an "animation contest" essentially designed to screw filmmakers. Here's the description of the contest taken from their website:
Cuppa Coffee Animation is offering a real opportunity to get your foot in the industry door. We're looking for exciting talent to be part of a new animated television and web series for a teen and up audience. Submit your short animated film for a chance to showcase it online and on television!
A select group of Cuppa Coffee Development Executives and Directors will choose the best to be part of our new show and then viewers wil be invited to vote for their favourites. The creators of the films that receive the most votes get a shot at the big time with a development deal with Cuppa Coffee Animation.
A development deal with Cuppa Coffee? Cuppa Coffee is neither a major studio or a TV network. They still have to pitch their shows to Disney Channel or Nick, just like everybody else. In other words, a development deal with Cuppa Coffee is about as useful as a development deal with your Aunt Agnes. The deal is seemingly designed to exploit the young artist with no connections to the industry because an artist with any level of experience doesn't need an intermediary to get their project shown to the networks.
Now this "contest" would perhaps be a little more innocent if it was set up in a fair manner. The problems begin, however, when you examine their Submission Release Form (download PDF here). The submission release basically states that if Cuppa Coffee likes your short, they will take every right they can to your film. Forever. Without guaranteeing you anything in return.
In legalese, they get the rights to "to reproduce, exhibit, distribute, promote and otherwise exploit the Series including the Short or any part thereof, in all media and formats now or hereafter known (including without limitation, theatrical, non-theatrical, telecast, DVD and other video devices, mobile telephone and other wireless devices, MP3 players and other hand-held devices and Internet transmission, including without limitation, posting the Short or any part of the Short on Producer's website (and the website of any broadcaster or distributor of the Series)), in all languages, throughout the universe, in perpetuity." And on top of that, "If Producer does use the Short in the Series in accordance with the rights granted in this Submission Release, I acknowledge that I will not be entitled to any compensation."
Sweet, huh? Who in the hell would ever be stupid enough to enter a contest like this? Such a contest would have been atrocious ten years ago, but today, it's absolutely unacceptable. It used to be that filmmakers were willing to enter lopsided deals, with places like Spike & Mike, because touring festivals were often the only way they could get exposure for their independent animation.
Thankfully, those days are long over. With the emergence of video on the Internet, filmmakers now have the unprecedented opportunity to have their work seen by millions. Take, for example, Dony Permedi, who a few months ago posted his student short film KIWI! onto YouTube. It has already been viewed over five million times. Granted, Dony didn't make any money by having his work on YouTube, but he got his work and his name out there to a huge audience without giving up a single right to his work.
The Internet has opened new doors of opportunity for creators, artists, and filmmakers. The power has shifted to the animators' corner, not the producers or studios trying to exploit your work to establish their brand. You can post your work on your website (Homestar Runner, JibJab), onto YouTube, or make deals with AtomFilms or Revver that don't strip away your rights. You can publish your work onto dvd and distibute it via the Internet. You can contact development execs at Nick, CN, Disney and elsewhere—it's their job to seek out your work—and if they like it, you can get a legitimate development deal.
Bottom line is that if you're going to give your film to anybody, make sure that you're compensated in a way that is fair, transparent and benefits you as much as it does the other party. As for Cuppa Coffee, let's hope they seriously rethink this ripoff-disguised-as-contest. It's embarassing for any studio to so openly and blatantly attempt to dupe filmmakers in this manner.
Below is the MEET THE ROBINSONS spot that Disney is airing tomorrow during the Super Bowl. It's part of the MEET THE ROBINSONS channel on YouTube. Let's just hope these aren't supposed to be the funny or entertaining parts of the film.
Meet Doctor Finklestar: Space Urologist. Sophisticated humor this is not, but it does deliver the funny. It's from C.H. Greenblatt, creator of the upcoming CN series CHOWDER which looks rather promising.
Here's a recent AWN interview where a Disney exec producer explains his credentials that qualify him to work in the animation industry:
As exec producer of Disney’s newest animated shows for tweens, what exactly do you do? How is an exec producer different from a producer?
JT: As the exec producer I am the "show runner." The ultimate responsibility for all creative decisions rests with me. Having said that, my background is comedy writing, so my style is to delegate a lot. Heather Martinez, my director, who is a great artist, is in charge of most "art decisions." I only weigh in on what I feel are the most crucial ones and I concentrate more on writing, acting and editing.
How long have you been interested in animation? You originally came to Los Angeles with the goal of becoming a lawyer. At what time did that switch for you and how did you transition into animation?
JT: Actually, I came to L.A. as a stand-up comedian. I had quit the law to do comedy. My transition to animation was pretty abrupt. I had been writing for American Movie Classics and Fox Sports when Steve Marmel suggested I freelance a script for the Fairly Oddparents. (He was the story editor.) I wrote a script in February and in June, I was a staff writer.
If you've ever wondered why mainstream studio cartoons are so intolerably awful, just ask the former lawyer and stand-up comic who's responsible for all the artistic decisions on a Disney TV series. There's hundreds of people like him in this business; it's just that most of them don't go on the record talking about their lack of knowledge about the art form. Then again, a lot of them do go on the record. To better understand how they're collectively screwing the animation industry, be sure to read John Kricfalusi's fearlessly honest blog post "Crackpot Executive Beliefs."
Tomorrow afternoon, Saturday February 3rd, the Animation Guild, ASIFA-Hollywood and Women In Animation will present an AFTERNOON OF REMEMBRANCE, the annual memorial to honor those in the animation community who passed away in 2006. This year tributes will be paid to Joe Barbera, Ed Benedict, Brad Case, Chris Hayward, Norm McCabe, Sid Raymond, Joe Simon, Alex Toth, Myron Waldman, Robert "Tiger" West and Berny Wolf, among many others. This event happens at the Hollywood Heritage Museum (Lasky-DeMille Barn) at 2100 N. Highland Ave., across from the Hollywood Bowl. Doors open for food and refreshments at 1 pm, Memorials begin at 2 pm. The Afternoon is free of charge and is open to all; no RSVP necessary.
The ASIFA-Hollywood Animation Archive has done it again. They've just posted an amazing scrapbook of farewell messages, drawings and signatures from the Disney animation staff in 1952, given to assistant animator Clair Weeks on the occasion of his departure from the studio. It's pretty much a who's who of Disney—everyone, from Walt Disney himself to Ward Kimball (above), Fred Moore, Marc Davis, Don DaGradi, Joe Rinaldi, Norm Ferguson, John Sibley and John Dunn. Click here to see the pages. And Steve Worth tells me he's got more killer Disney items to post next week.
One of the pleasures of my monthly cartoon screening gig with Janet Klein at the Steve Allen Theatre (first Thursday of every month at 8pm, next one on March 1st) is meeting many actors, comedians, artists and animators who attend each month to bask in 1920s-30s movies and music nirvana. Last night I met Noir Nouar, an illustrator and painter just finishing a stint on Nickelodeon's Catscratch. Nouar has her own following as a fine artist and painter, and a website full of fun artwork. I love this piece (above) inspired by the Betty Boop cartoon MORE PEP - or at least by a line in Sammy Timburg's song in that cartoon.
Is it just me or is there more innovative stop-motion work being produced today than at any time in recent memory? To follow-up on the post below, here's an excellent piece of computer-manipulated stop-motion, live action and puppeteering. This new Norah Jones music video, "Sinkin' Soon," is directed by Ace Norton. Watch it at NorahJones.com (go to the "Media" section, click on the TV screen, and then click on the "Sinkin' Soon" title).
I really dug the raw visual vibe, and the immediacy and energy of the animation. Ben Zelkowicz, the supervising animator on the video, shares a few behind-the-scene details about its making:
It was a pretty crazy shoot—most of the animation was being shot on the same stage simultaneously with the live action, so lights were constantly getting tripped over, tables bumped, etc. as we (myself and Tennessee Reid Norton did most of the animation) tried to pump out the vast amounts of footage the director Ace Norton wanted. But I like the lo-fi aesthetic, all found objects, shooting several angles at once, as fast as humanly possible. I am particularly fond of the Svankmajer-esque screw guy playing the trumpet shot I did.
Animator TR Norton also has a few photos from the production posted on his blog.
This inventive Guinness commercial from the UK was directed by Michael Schlingmann. The pixilated spot was shot with a digital still camera; no alteration with CG or post was involved. It would make a nice double-bill with Anna Henckel-Donnersmarck's short BUSBY.
Disney has licensed several of their characters for use as USB Flash Memory Drives. Buffalo Technology will put these devices on sale next month, but only as a limited edition of 5000. The tech blog Engadget reports:
With just 512MB of capacity, it's fairly clear that these are aimed squarely at Disney fanboys (and girls) who just can't let the opportunity to own a "limited edition" Disney item pass them by.Call me a "fanboy". The Steamboat Willie one looks pretty cool.
(Thanks to Bill Robinson for the heads up)
Between the years he directed Popeye, Superman and Stone Age cartoons for Fleischer & Famous Studios in the early 40s, and his story and direction for Hanna Barbera in the late 50s and 60s, (where he was a chief architect of The Flintstones) animator Dan Gordon made a living as a prolific comic book artist. One of his most beloved creations was SUPERKATT who graced the pages (and covers) of GIGGLE COMICS for over 10 years (1944-1955).
In the mid-40s, a desperate Columbia Pictures licensed Gordon's SUPERKATT comic strip for its Screen Gems animation studio. Why? It's still a mystery. Was SUPERKATT that popular with the public to make a movie star of him? I doubt it. Did Dave Fleischer, while he was head of the studio several years earlier, make a deal with his 'ol buddy Gordon? Maybe. Regardless, the cartoon - Leave Us Chase It (1947), produced in low budget two-color Technicolor - made no impression on anyone back in the day. The only promotion we can find is hidden in this puzzle in GIGGLE COMICS #31 (July 1946, almost a year before the film's release). It's been practically forgotten (as has the rest of the Screen Gems cartoon library) for six decades. In honor of 60th anniversary of Superkatt's screen debut, we've posted the first three minutes of this curio You Tube for your enjoyment.
We invite you to join the cult.
(Thanks to William Sobieck for the puzzle page scan)
Last week's episode of FAMILY GUY included this enjoyable interlude of Stewie dancing with Gene Kelly. Wouldn't it be something special if a modern TV series regularly afforded this much thought to its animation and choreography? The original clip of Jerry the Mouse dancing with Kelly can be seen here.
UPDATE: Steve Worth of ASIFA-Hollywood's Animation Archive wrote in with some comments about this sequence:
How much "thought to animation and choreography" does it take to rotoscope someone else's animation and slap your own character over the top of it? If this was a parody, it would have added some sort of comment through additional humor. If it was a tribute, they would have had the respect not to obliterate the great animation by Ken Muse and Ray Patterson by pasting their own poorly traced drawings over the top of it. To my eyes, this looks like the Family Guy crew took the hard work of these legendary artists and copped it for themselves without adding a single thing to it. They can get away with it, because the viewers probably have never heard of Gene Kelly, much less have seen the clip of him dancing with Jerry Mouse.
How eager are you to see Bugs Bunny cartoons with new videogame characters rotoscoped over the top of them? Maybe they could take Fantasia and roto a CGI Mickey Mouse over the top of Sorcerer's Apprentice... That's the sort of thing "great ideas" like this lead to. I've never understood why people feel the need to paint mustaches on the Mona Lisa and then have the gall to pat themselves on the back for their great work.
Family Guy deserves no praise for this. A ripoff is a ripoff.