Following this recent post, many readers demanded better animated and funnier fruit people. So I present to you Joel Trussell‘s new Kid 606 video “Mr. Wobble’s Nightmare.” Watch it here. Credits for the video are as follows:
Director: Joel Trussell
Animators: Anna & Mike Hollingsworth, Joel Trussell
DP & Editor: Michael Samstag
Camera: Matthew Rogers
Lighting: Jeff Reed
The Duchess of Whimsy is the first time that Ice Age designer and New Yorker cover artist Peter de SÃ¨ve has created original illustrations for a children’s book. I’ve seen it and can say that this isn’t your average children’s book. Every page is a work of art.
I’ve linked to a number of animated book trailers in recent months, and the trend appears to be growing. In the overcrowded fiction marketplace, these trailers are a smart way of standing out from the pack and allows publishers to turn audiences on to books they may have otherwise not heard about. The latest book trailer I’ve found is for the book White is for Witching by Helen Oyeyemi. The trailer can be seen on the book’s website WhiteisforWitching.com. The spot’s illustrations were created by Jon Klassen and animation/compositing work was done by Julia Pott.
Adventure Time creator Pen Ward recently turned me on to the work of Glasgow-based animator David Ferguson, who posts his work at SwatPaz.net. “I don’t know why this guy’s youtube videos aren’t more popular,” says Pen. “I love ‘em.” Personally, I think they’re amusing too. There’s lots of good ideas in Ferguson’s work, and the naive animation and borderline incomprehensible Scottish accent only add to the fun. David has a whole slew of short absurdist pieces on his YouTube page, as well as more random jollities on his website including this page of “cool characters.”
One of the unspoken rules of Cartoon Brew is that I will link to any piece of animation that combines fruit-people, furries and the song “I Wish I was in Dixie.” I’ve never had to do it until now though:
Michael Nason’s other photo-collage/mixed media animated videos are also worth a look.
The winners were announced last night at the 40th annual ASIFA-East Animation Festival. The top Best in Show prize was awarded to the short film Q&A by the Rauch Brothers, comprised of brothers Tim and Mike. The film, which also competes in Annecy next month, is a gentle, funny and touching real-life conversation between a child with Asperger’s Syndrome and his mother. The other prize-winning film that really stood out for me was the Nullsleep music video “Dirty Rom Dance” created by Plasticflesh (aka Stieg Retlin). The 8-bit artwork style is dime-a-dozen nowadays which makes it all the more rare to see somebody take that visual approach and do something truly original and inventive with it. The video won for Excellence in Soundtrack, a dubious compliment in my opinion; the video game-y music is fine but it was the filmmaker’s pitch-perfect melding of hyperkinetic imagery with sound that truly made this film stand out, not to mention the incredible design and storytelling delivered via a limited palette. Neither Q&A nor “Dirty Rom Dance” are available on-line but keep an eye out for both of them.
Jonathan Bairstow created Prophet and Lo$$ in 1988 as his graduation film at the Royal College of Art. It’s safe to say that the film, loosely based on the myth of Orpheus and Eurydice, has stood the test of time. I only discovered it recently (for shame!), and its hypnotic use of cycles and rich visuals keep drawing me back for repeat viewings. Nowadays, Bairstow runs the commercial studio Sherbet, which he co-founded in the mid-1990s.
New York’s biggest animation award, the ASIFA-East Animation Festival, takes places this Sunday, May 3, at 6pm. This year is extra special as its the 40th(!) annual edition of the show. The festivities, comprised of an awards ceremony, film screening and reception, are FREE to all. It happens at the New School’s Tishman Auditorium (66 W. 12th Street). I attended last year and thought the event had a great vibe–casual, low-key, and lots of fun–which is an accurate description of the local animation scene as well.
Hamster Squaredance is one of the more visually distinctive music videos I’ve run across in a while. It was created for the musician Mr. Hayday by New Zealand-based Laurent Antonczak and Patricia Burgetsmaier. The lengthy description of the project on their Vimeo page does leave me slightly confused though:
The framework of “Hamster Squaredance” explores an aesthetic and conceptual relationship of rhythm and narrative by developing a new visual approach for displaying on small screens, mainly iPHONE. Furthermore “Hamster Squaredance” explores a new narrative structure (short-duration, screen limitations, narrative synchronised with music) and reinterprets the aesthetics of computer game industry from the early 80s into nowadays trend. While using basic, modular and simple graphics, which denote the early stage of computer development and its graphics, it develops yet highly crafted visuals, using the most advantageous elements of photography, illustrations and mix-media technique.
Finnish studio Anima Boutique produced this series of refreshingly stylized CG spots for Kopparberg cider drinks. The director and designer of the spots, Eliza Jäppinen, tells me that they “were lucky enough to work with an art director, agency and clients who wanted something new, and also meant it.” She first created a series of illustrations for a print campaign and subsequently these spots were produced in CG. Credits besides Jäppinen include:
2D Animation: Heli Ellis
3D modeling & Animation: Olli Rajala (Anima Commerical)
3D animation: Olli Rajala (Anima Commerical)
Producer: Anttu Harlin
Sound: Timo Anttila (Humina,
Zeeland team: Migu Snall, Mikko Vaija, Anna Korpi-Kyyny, Riitta Bergman
I’m continuing the great animation book purge of 2009. Everything I posted earlier today is already sold, but I’ve just posted more cool stuff by Jack Kinney, Eyvind Earle, Ernie Pintoff, Bob Dranko, Chris Jenkyns, Ken Anderson, Charles Schulz, Harvey Kurtzman, Friz Freleng, etc. Help me empty my life by going to the book sale page. Even more stuff coming soon!
Tonight is the second annual Toronto Animation Industry Night presented by Toronto Animation Live. I’m not familiar with the organization hosting the event; their stated purpose is to serve as a networking organization “dedicated to the growth and development of the Toronto animation industry.” This evening’s event, which combines networking, music and screenings, begins at 7pm at the Century Room (580 King St. W). Tickets are $5 at the door if you rsvp by email to info at torontoanimationlive.com. Otherwise, it’s $10 at the door for walk-ins. Their ad promises complimentary food and beverages. If you have attended the previous one, or if you attend tonight, let us know what you think of it in the comments.
Cassidy Curtis, an animator at PDI/DreamWorks, and his wife, Raquel Coelho, created this charming pixilated short that also serves as a document of a pregnancy. The extensive notes on how they made it are worth reading:
Animating over such a long period of time, using an increasingly pregnant woman as one of your puppets, means basically throwing out everything you might normally do in an animated film. For example, early on, we had this idea that we should wear the same clothes every time, for continuity’s sake. But as Raquel’s pregnancy developed, we soon discovered that the extra effort required to change in and out of our uniforms was going to interfere with the goal of shooting as many frames as possible, and might even prevent us from finishing the project at all. We dialed down the perfectionism, and in the process ended up having a lot more fun with it.
We first wrote about Jun seo Hahm‘s series of super-short shorts Karnival back in 2007 when it was starting up. Since then, Jun has completed the series with ten episodes, all created in his distinctive hand-drawn vectorized style. Some of the later ones, like Flashlight Dog and Toaster, really make me smile with their perfect combination of the whimsical, cute and disturbing. The ten shorts can be seen at Karnival.tv.
Yoni Goodman, the director of animation for Waltz with Bashir, created this public service announcement for the human rights organization Gisha–Legal Center for Freedom of Movement. It’s a good example of how to use animation to communicate an important political issue with clarity and precision. There’s also a short making-of video in which Goodman talks about the piece, as well as a website for the film at ClosedZone.com.
Videokrauting, created by Italians Nicola Ferrarese, Corrado Agnese, Valentina Mantello and Marzia Pellegatta, is a tribute to videogames animated entirely with sauerkraut. References are made to Tetris, Pac-Man and Prince of Persia.
They’ve also made Super Mario with beans and Asteroids with tomatoes. My favorite work by these filmmakers is an original creation however–D’Altra Parte Ã¨ CosÃ¬ by Nicola Ferrarese. This two-minute film (posted below) uses simple stop-motion tricks to transform the ordinary and mundane–a spoon and other everyday objects–into a nail-biting action-packed episode.
Did you know Chuck Jones made an adaptation of The Jungle Book? Sadly, I’m ashamed to admit that I didn’t. It’s even available on DVD.
This clip below offers a taste. Like most of Jones’s work from the 1970s, it’s dripping with cloying preciousness. And yet, it’s difficult to dislike it. Even Jones at his Jonesiest is a cut above the rest of the animation that came out of Hollywood during that decade.
Golden Age animation artist Homer Jonas (1928-1979) now has a Facebook fan page courtesy of his son, artist Jeff Jonas. The Facebook page includes artwork from Jonas’s work at Disney (101 Dalmatians, Sleeping Beauty), as well as unpublished artwork, gag drawings, and vintage photos. Jeff says he’s planning to add more items in the future.
Too Art for TV, the annual art show exhibiting the fine art work of New York’s animation community, is gearing up for its fourth edition. The application deadline for this year’s show is April 30. The show is open to anybody who has worked in the animation industry, and while the focus remains on artists in New York City, they are also open to entries from animation artists outside of the city. Full entry details are available on the Too Art for TV website.
Scott Kirsner, Variety writer and editor of the invaluable CinemaTech blog, breaks it down in his new book by offering case studies of thirty visual artists, comedians, animators, documentary filmmakers, musicians and writers. I haven’t seen the book yet, but I’m sure that it’s not going to offer many easy-to-follow formulas. Even the traditional media gatekeepers, with their hundreds of millions of dollars, have yet to figure out a formula for taming the Internet. What the book will likely show though is that there are countless different models that indie media makers, including animators, can use to connect with an audience online. Unlimited opportunities await artists on the Internet, and this book should serve as an invaluable handbook for any creative soul who is brave enough to venture into this uncharted frontier.
The author, Scott Kirsner, has kindly provided Cartoon Brew an exclusive excerpt from an interview in the book with JibJab founders Evan and Gregg Spiridellis, and how they’ve found unconventional ways of generating revenue from their animation work:
When one thinks of David Stainton, the former president of Walt Disney Feature Animation, what are the first two descriptive terms that come to mind? According to his website DavidStainton.com, it should be “creative leadership” and “strategy.”
To his credit, Stainton IS very creative when it comes to rewriting history and making his reign during one of Disney’s lowest creative moments seem like an accomplishment. The bio on his website includes these fancy bit of revisionism:
At Feature Animation, David transformed the division financially, creatively, and technologically. During his tenure, he cut overhead, production costs, and operating losses in half. At the same time, he revived the culture of creative excellence at the studio with a new line-up of films. Finally, his leadership drove the historic transition from hand-drawn to computer-generated animation at Feature Animation and his other divisions, bringing animation at Disney fully into the digital era.
So how much of Disney’s creative inadequacy was directly Stainton’s fault and how much of it could be attributed to the dysfunctional corporate infrastructure that had been in place since the early-1990s? That’s a question that will have to be answered by those who are much more knowledgeable about the inner workings of the studio. It was a new one on me though to read in Stainton’s filmography that Hunchback of Notre Dame was based on his pitch and adaptation. That fact alone should have been an adequate warning that he didn’t have the first clue about what types of material are best suited to animation.
It’s the sign of a healthy festival when others begin creating unofficial events around the main proceedings. That’s what’s happening regularly now with the Annecy animation festival. In 2005, filmmakers Pat Smith and Bill Plympton started the still-continuing Annecy Plus, which is a screening for films rejected from the festival.
Yesterday, I got an email from Annecy local Raphael Cahuzac, who runs a record label in town, and he’s starting up another screening during the week of the festival. Here are the details from Raphael:
We’re having a party on the 8th of June in a local bar Le Comptoir de la Folie Ordinaire where we want to screen short films during the Animation Film Festival. Our event isn’t part of the official festival or the Annecy Plus program. I’m interested in anything (2D, Flash, clay animation, etc.), either in English, French or with French and/or English subtitles. We will only accept DVDs.
The event will be free and open to all. I would also like to encourage people who will be in Annecy during the animation festival to come and party with us.
If you’re interested in having your film screened at this event, you can reach Raphael at r.cahuzac at wanadoo dot fr. I’m definitely going to be checking this show out.
Director Michel Gondry, who occasionally employs animation in his music videos, has launched a new website at MichelGondry.com. The most interesting feature on the site is that he’s offering to draw a portrait of anybody for $19.95. The samples on the site are pretty crude, but that’s besides the point. I’m impressed by the savviness of Gondry in choosing to interact with his fans in this manner, and considering his popularity, it’ll probably bring in a nice chunk of change too. The idea seems like such a no-brainer that I’m surprised well-known animation artists (people who actually draw for a living) haven’t tried doing this before. The Internet has broken down the barriers between creators and their fans, and the most successful artists in this day and age will ultimately be those who understand how to build an audience and connect with them in a meaningful way.
Alan Coats, the son of legendary Disney background painter Claude Coats, has started a website about his father’s work at ClaudeCoats.com Right now, the site is mainly a storefront that sells giclée prints of Coats’ personal paintings, some of which are quite attractive. I hope Alan eventually fleshes it out with more family photos, personal ephemera, and career details as well.
One of the unexpected delights of the Internet age has been seeing the children of Golden Age animators launch websites devoted to their parents. After toiling in anonymity for their entire careers, it’s fitting that these artists would finally receive marquee recognition with entire destinations devoted to their individual accomplishments. The gold standards for family-operated artist sites are AbeLevitow.com, BillPeet.net and this incredible blog by Irv Spector’s son.