A perfectly short short: At the Opera from Buenos Aires-based Juan Pablo Zaramella:
Last night at the Lakers game, Guillermo del Toro hung out with Jeffrey Katzenberg. I guess this can be taken as a sign that the animated projects Guillermo is developing at DreamWorks are moving along smoothly.
Another pic of them together after the jump.
Einar Baldvin created Catatonic as his thesis film for the CalArts Experimental Animation program. The film combines hand-drawn cut-outs with pastel chalks, animated by hand and in After Effects. The real attraction in the film is the daring cut-out animation style, especially the violently spastic reaction of the kid towards the end.
Only two more weeks to catch the Len Lye exhibition at the Ikon Gallery in Birmingham, England. The exhibit, “Len Lye: The Body Electric,” is the first retrospective exhibition in the UK of work by pioneering New Zealand experimental animator Len Lye (1901—1980). The exhibit includes examples of his groundbreaking experimental animated films, as well as sculptures, paintings, and drawings. From the Ikon website:
Lye travelled in the South Pacific as a young man, living for extended periods in Samoa and Australia, before sailing for London in 1926. There he settled into an artistic community that included Henry Moore, Barbara Hepworth and Christopher Wood. During the 1930s Lye’s main interest lay in film-making and he was commissioned by the visionary film unit of the General Post Office to make a number of commercials, now seen as seminal in the history of moving imagery.
Lye’s distinct style and experimental technique of ‘direct’ film-making saw him paint colour directly onto celluloid film. Several of these films are exhibited at Ikon including A Colour Box (1935) and Rainbow Dance (1936), plus Lye’s more avant-garde films such as Free Radicals (1958), made after his move to New York.
In the late 1950s Lye began making kinetic sculpture which he referred to as ‘tangible motion sculptures’ or ‘Tangibles’. These works embodied the same spirit as his films and reiterated his belief that motion and physical empathy were even more fundamental than medium.
Admission to the Ikon Gallery is FREE. The Len Lye exhibit closes on February 13.
And now for a treat, Len Lye’s Trade Tattoo from 1937:
If you missed purchasing Mary Blair’s house and Ward Kimball’s house, don’t fret. The Wall Street Journal reports that caricaturist Al Hirschfeld’s garishly pink Upper East Side townhouse is currently on the market for $5.3 million. He lived and worked in the home, which formerly housed workmen from a nearby brewery, from 1947 through his death in 2003. He credited his ability to purchase the home to the success of a book he illustrated–S.J. Perelman’s Westward Ha! Or Around the World in 80 Clichés. More details about the 4,160 square feet home on the WSJ website.
Animator and director Eric Goldberg has long been inspired by Hirschfeld’s style, and based the “Rhapsody in Blue” sequence from Fantasia 2000 on his work:
Happy birthday to Pixar, which turns 25 years old today. Hard to believe it’s been that long, but it was on February 3, 1986 that Steve Jobs purchased Lucasfilm’s Computer Division for $10 million dollars and the company was renamed Pixar after its main product at the time, the Pixar Image Computer. Jobs paid $5 million to Lucasfilm, and $5 million in guaranteed funding for the new company.
I contributed a small bit to a book project for the studio’s anniversary this year. I don’t think it’s been announced yet, but look for it later in the year.
After the jump, check out the original press release from February 3, 1986, announcing the company’s founding.
The charming Puck Cinema Caravana is back for a new season. The invention of Spanish animator Carles Porta, the mobile Puck cinema roams the countryside and cities of Spain, bringing first-class animated shorts to kids and adults alike in a beautifully decorated trailer home. It bills itself as “the smallest cinema on Earth” owing to the fact that it can only hold seven people at a time.
This year’s programming theme is Natures, “an inexhaustible source of motifs, shapes and laws…strange natures, particular ecosystems, imaginary worlds, and also the emotional landscapes of the human nature.” Here is the list of shorts in the 2011 lineup.
Porta created this trailer for the 2011 show:
We don’t typically post CG demo reels, but this one by Dono really stands out from the pack. It even earned the attention of Toy Story 3 director Lee Unkrich.
Very tragic news out of England. As part of the country’s new austerity budget, last week the Arts Council England unceremoniously axed their country’s most prestigious animation program Animate Projects after twenty-one years of funding. The program will be shut down at the end of March.
Official statement from Animate Projects can be read on their site. Gary Thomas, co-director of Animate, released a statement saying that, “The Arts Council said it would not be ‘fair’ to fund us through Grants for the Arts, but before we applied they told us that this was our only option, and it’s how they’ve funded us since 2007. What makes us most angry is the attitude towards the artform, the artists and animators we work with, and our audiences.”
Since being founded as an Arts Council/Channel 4 venture, the program has produced 140 animated shorts including 11 British Animation Awards winners and five BAFTA nominees. It has had a massive impact on the British animation landscape by nurturing budding and established animation talent, encouraging experimentation and innovation within the art form, exposing the general public to contemporary animation, building bridges between animation and other visual arts, and generally helping to position England at the forefront of the independent animation scene. Filmmaker Mario Cavalli, who participated in the program, also lauded the program’s “broader economic benefits, stimulating commercial spin-off projects, job creation and exports.”
The organization has funded films by a who’s who of independent animators including Run Wrake (his film Rabbit, image above, was made through Animate), the Quay Brothers, Ruth Lingford, Paul Bush, Phil Mulloy, Chris Shepherd, Vera Neubauer, Jonathan Hodgson, and dozens of others. It also made the UK an inviting home for global filmmaking talent, including Apichatpong Weerasethakul, who made a project with Animate immediately prior to directing last year’s Uncle Boonmee Who Can Recall His Past Lives, which won the Palme d’Or at Cannes.
The death of the program chills all of Animate’s plans for 2011 including “a wide range of collaborative projects with a digital focus, including a large-scale practice based research project with a University, artist residencies in a research laboratory, artist collaborations with community groups, and a partnership to deliver moving image to healthcare sites nationwide.” As animation continues to grow in stature and move to the forefront of contemporary art, the shortsightedness of the Arts Council England will become more evident. With one swift stroke, they’ve carelessly destroyed a program cultivated over two decades that had an invaluable cultural and economic impact on the country’s filmmaking and art scenes.
All the Animate films can be seen on AnimateProjects.org at least through the end of March. Hopefully they’ll find a way to keep the site functional afterward. To get a better sense of the impact this has on the animation community, read the outpouring of comments on the Animate Projects blog.
(Thanks, Stephen Cavalier)
This Friday in downtown Los Angeles, as a part of Visions and Voices: The USC Arts & Humanities Initiative, a screening of Colombian animation will take place with the filmmakers present. From the event description:
Join us for a Visions & Voices event featuring rarely-seen animation by Colombia’s foremost experimental animation pioneers, Carlos Santa and Cecilia TraslaviÃ±a, and two of their students, Diana Menestry and Juan Camilo González. Exploding with powerful metaphors, surreal landscapes, and haunting images, these imaginative animated films were created within a context of a country ravaged by war, illustrating the philosophical and mental struggles of its people in conflict. These innovative experimental films utilize a range of animation techniques, from rotoscoping to under-the-camera animation, challenging concepts of traditional cinema.
The screening will be followed by a panel discussion with filmmakers Santa, TraslaviÃ±a, and their former student and current USC MFA student Juan Camilo González; international media scholar Dr. Cristina Venegas; and moderator Dr. Janeann Dill. The conversation will investigate artistic practice within the context of war and the role of the artist in politics.
The best part is that the screening and panel will be followed by a reception featuring “typical Colombian foods such as empanadas and buÃ±uelos,” as well as classic Colombian music. The screening takes place at the Eileen Norris Cinema Theatre at the USC School of Cinematic Arts Complex (900 W. 34th Street, LA, CA 90007). The event is FREE, no rsvp necessary. In other words, no excuses. More details on the USC website.
Here’s the trailer for one of the films that’ll be shown, Carlos Santa’s The Strange Presages of LeÃ³n Prozak:
(Thanks, Juan Manuel Pedraza)
In just a few years time, papercraft animation has evolved from a trend into a heavily used animation technique employed in commercials, music videos, feature film titles, and short films. The newness of the technique allows plenty of space to explore different approaches and styles. The Move by Mandy Smith is a particularly impressive example with sophisticated three-dimensional paper sculptures that look lush and organic. The short was inspired by a move to Amsterdam.
Direction and Art Direction/ Mandy Smith
DOP/ Ties Versteegh
Stunt Co-ordinator/ Lars Siemens
Music and Sound Design/ Lawrence Horne, Piers Burbrook de Vere and Jeremy Yang
Online Artist/ Daisy Hulsken
Grading/ Rachel Stone
Post Production/ The Ambassadors
(Thanks, Rod Tejeda)
Animation veteran Tom Minton wrote some eloquent words about John Dorman who passed away last week. I met him only once, and after reading Tom’s words, regret not having had the chance to know him better. Here is Tom’s beautiful remembrance:
In addition to being a prolific and experienced creative talent, John Dorman was a near-mythic character with an epic sense of the absurd. He was much more than a storyboard artist or art director, as anyone who worked for him in the early to mid 1980’s can attest. He was especially adept at helping gifted people (even a few legends) once their industry had hung them out to dry. In 1983 he paid a talented young storyboard apprentice named Dan Riba two hundred bucks over weekly union scale just because he knew that beginning wage was not enough to live on.
I witnessed examples of John’s boundless energy, craziness and generosity of spirit over and over while working in his Ruby Spears storyboard/development unit. The recently-publicized 1980’s Jack Kirby development paintings now being hawked by Ruby-Spears and the Kroffts were all done under Joe Ruby’s and John’s supervision. Jim Woodring, Duncan Marjoribanks, Kathy Altieri, James Gallego, Kenny Thompkins, Ted Blackman, Tim Burgard, Rick Hoberg, Steve Swaja, Noreen Beasley, Teresa Birch, Brian Burr Chin, Keith Tucker, David Silverman, Alfredo Alcala, Thom Enriquez, Kurt Conner, Bob Kline, Dan Riba, Doug Wildey, Gil Kane and Jack Kirby and me (please correct if I’ve forgotten anyone) were all staffers in John’s legendary Los Angeles Bastards crew at one point or another.
John defined ‘intense’ and could be tough to please but ultimately took the people he believed in more seriously than he did himself. Through it all, John couldn’t help but speak truth to power, even when it cost him dearly. Those who dealt with John in his decline didn’t experience the real person and judged him harshly. People tended to either love or loathe John but they did not tend to forget him. At his best, he also defined ‘courageous.’
The funniest thing you’ll read today: a commentary by “John Lasseter”.
(Thanks, Pedro Nakama)
After learning about the obscene pay of Viacom’s top honchos, it saddens me to report that Disney’s CEO Bob Iger is barely managing to eke out a living. According to the Associated Press, the Disney Company awarded him only $28 million in 2010, or $55 million less than Viacom’s Philippe Dauman.
Iger’s compensation breaks down as following: a base salary of $2 million, a performance-related bonus of $13.5 million, and stock options valued at $11.8 million. The hard-luck Disney chief also earned $798,433 in additional compensation including use of company aircraft and security-related costs. His compensation package was attributed to a 24 percent in Disney’s share price at the end of the company’s fiscal year on October 2. Also, Disney’s fiscal 2010 net income rose 20 percent to $3.96 billion and revenue grew 5 percent to $38.06 billion. Click here to download the 118-page PDF of Disney’s SEC filing.
Drawing by John Dorman (left) and still from “Batman & Mr. Freeze: SubZero” directed, written and produced by Boyd Kirkland
Kirkland was a director of many classic episodes of the groundbreaking American superhero cartoon Batman: The Animated Series. He also directed X-Men: Evolution and directed, wrote, boarded, and produced at numerous studios since entering the business in 1978. More thoughts about his passing can be found at Comics Continuum.
John Dorman had worked in animation since 1974, primarily as a board artist, designer and art director. At Ruby-Spears, he supervised the development department where he brought on greats like Jack Kirby, Gil Kane, and Doug Wildey. His list of credits range from Ralph Bakshi’s Hey Good Lookin’ to Spumco’s The Ripping Friends to Disney’s Beauty and the Beast: The Enchanted Christmas.
There are some nice memories of Dorman on Buzz Dixon’s blog including this memorable tale:
While working on the animated Moses film, Prince of Egypt, John was assigned the task of storyboarding the parting of the Red Sea. The Exec in charge had some Strong Ideas how the story should be told, or rather, re-told. Specifically, to make it more “female friendly”, the Exec ordered the scene written with Moses’ wife breaking his staff across her knee & telling him to have faith in himself if he wanted to part the sea.
John was not a very spiritual, much less religious man, but he knew enough about the Bible to know camel dung when he smelled it. Still, a job was a job & John needed the money, so he storyboarded the scene as writtenâ€¦but he also “plused” it a bit.
John turned the storyboard in and the Exec smiled at how well John had interpreted the Exec’s ideas, then noticed something and frowned. “This is all wonderful work,” the Exec said to John, “but who’s this figure here? The one in the cape with the horned helmet and a big hammer?”
“Oh, that’s Thor,” John said. “I figured since you were [m]ucking around with the Bible I might as well throw him in.”