The controversy about Apple’s exclusion of Flash from the iPad may appear to have minor relevance to animators, but considering the number of artists and studios who animate with Flash, the issue will affect the animation community sooner than later. Primarily, it raises the question that if Flash becomes obsolete as a way of delivering video over the Web, is it also headed towards obsolescence as an animation production tool? The tool was never designed for broadcast animation production to begin with, and Adobe’s poor track record of supporting the needs of broadcast animators hasn’t endeared it to the community.
What Flash has working in its favor is loyalty from a core user base. Many animators still think that Flash is the best option. Nick Cross, who has made numerous shorts with the software, wrote an impassioned defense of Flash and explained why he doesn’t intend on abandoning it anytime soon. Adobe would be wise to listen to these animators and ensure that they don’t jump over to the next piece of technology that comes along.
What a dump. Unfortunately the 3 storied mansion has long been abandoned so it now houses 8 families of hispanic descent. And as we entered the front door the spanish families hurriedly scattered to their respective apartments in fear. Apparently the famed animator’s home is now a multifamily squatters shelter.
Plympton is optimistic and thinks there’s hope: “You can imagine the glory that it once was back in the early 1900′s. All the architectural details are still there and with a lot of work it can be restored to its former glory.”
Don’t hold your breath though. Cartoons and animation, and by extension cartoonists and animators, have never merited respect in the United States as they have in other parts of the world. Yesterday I was reading about the Hergé Museum near Brussels and marveling at how they have preserved his legacy and art. It is befitting of a part of the world that considers cartoons the “ninth art.” American cartoon fans have to make do with McCay’s hell house at 1811 Voorhies Ave in Brooklyn. Let us know in the comments if you visit too.
This Sunday, May 9, is the 41st annual ASIFA-East Animation Festival, the essential annual event of New York animation’s social calendar. The awards ceremony begins at 6pm at the New School’s Tishman Auditorium (66 W. 12th Street). It’s free, you don’t have to dress up, and there’s food afterward. In other words, it’s about the best animation awards show you’re going to find.
Walker is an arresting seventeen-second traffic safety spot created with a painterly feel by Danish artist Carl Krull. Also eye-catching from a graphic standpoint is Head #1 (below); the animation was broken up onto seven screens as an installation project.
It’s fun to see a talented filmmaker like Andreas Hykade (Ring of Fire, Runt) explore a different direction in his work. The cleverness of Love & Theft‘s morphing animation loops grasped my attention, and as a bonus, the psychedelic imagery is filled with animation references, not only to cartoon characters but also to filmmakers (see if you can identify Bill Plympton and Ryan Larkin).
[It] presents artists and works of art that align the latest electronic music and visual creations derived from new technologies (animation, installation and robotics). Elektra unites creative media like music, video, cinema, design, gaming and audio or interactive installation with the latest digital technologies. Artists from all disciplines–composition, performance, dance, visual arts, etc.–all with a common interest in artistic applications of new technologies, uniting visual and sound.
I’m a guest of the festival and will be introducing a program on Stan VanDerBeek, who was a visionary pioneer of digital art and interactive media long before those terms even existed. VanDerBeek’s experimental films, which range from surrealist twists on cut-out animation to bleeding-edge (1960s) computer animation, will be screened twice at the landmark CinémathÃ¨que québécoise–Friday, May 7, at 6:30pm and Sunday, May 9, at 5pm. More details about the films (which will be shown on 16mm film!) and VanDerBeek himself can be found on the CinémathÃ¨que’s website. I’m genuinely excited about both attending Elektra and seeing VanDerBeek’s work on film. And Montreal Brew readers, please say hello if you see me up there.
For those of you unable to attend the VanDerBeek screening, here’s an embed of his film Breathdeath, which has been cited by Terry Gilliam as the film that inspired his approach to animation:
Q&A is an affectionate little short that debuted last year but was posted online just yesterday. It’s directed by the Brooklyn-based Rauch Brothers, which is headed by brothers Mike and Tim (who animated the film single-handedly):
Joshua Littman, a 12-year-old boy with Asperger’s syndrome, interviews his mother, Sarah. Joshua’s unique questions and Sarah’s loving, unguarded answers reveal a beautiful relationship that reminds us of the best–and the most challenging–parts of being a parent.
The brothers Rauch are busy working on more animated collaborations with Storycorps, the American oral history project that airs weekly on NPR. A series of five new animated shorts based on Storycorps recordings will debut on the PBS documentary program POV in August 2010.
The most disturbing passages in the New Yorker piece describe how Saban enlisted former president Bill Clinton’s help to complete his sale of Fox Family Channel to the Walt Disney Company which netted him one-and-a-half billion dollars, and the lengths he went to to avoid paying taxes on the money he earned from the deal (naturally he blames his accountant). Understandably, there’s controversy surrounding the criminal aspects of this story, and Sharon Waxman at The Wrap has a detailed blog post about how Saban and his lawyers have been dealing with the New Yorker. The business of children’s TV entertainment can be dirty and corrupt as this piece makes quite clear, but what is most disheartening, to me at least, is that so many animation artists have to rely on individuals of questionable character like Saban for their financial livelihoods.
A Bear Film is a third year CalArts effort that looks like an animated version of a Lou Romano colorscript. It’s created–entirely in Photoshop believe it or not–by Kris Anka. The bear animation is cute and pleasing; the glaring misogyny isn’t (women in the film are depicted only as promiscuous girls or raging housewives). The latter might be attributed to the filmmaker’s youthful immaturity and shouldn’t outweigh the film’s positive points.
The San Diego Comic-Con is pushing forward with its misguided agenda of appeasing corporate interests at the expense of alienating the indie comic and animation community. Their latest bone-headed move is to increase the price of additional exhibitor Comic-Con badges to $200 each, up from $75 last year. As anybody who has ever exhibited at Comic-Con can tell you, artists typically don’t earn truckloads of money at the event, and when all the costs of booth rental, travel, and lodging are factored in, the obscene $200 exhibitor badge essentially guarantees that an independent artist will leave the convention empty-handed.
Considering the Comic-Con is a non-profit, it is inexcusable to increase the price of additional exhibitor badges by 266% in one year. Anecdotal evidence suggests that the artistic community is deserting the Comic-Con in record numbers. Even successful independent artists are fed up, like Flight and Amulet creator Kazu Kibuishi, who noted on Twitter today:
“This will likely be our last Comic-Con with a Flight booth. Will continue to attend the show, but as an author, not a booth manager.”
Comic-Con’s strong-arming of the indie comic and animation community only lends credence to the viability of a West Coast Creator-Con, especially one that isn’t operated by the Comic-Con organizers themselves. Personally, I exhibited at the MoCCA festival in New York last month and had a delightful time. It had the kind of low-key artist-oriented vibe that I would hope to experience at a Creator-Con. I also netted as much money at MoCCA as I did when I used to exhibit in San Diego, which is notable because MoCCA’s attendance is roughly 1/75th of Comic-Con’s.
This one is a real headscratcher. It’s a poster from 1972 called “The Art of Film” yet it has nothing to do with film. Rather it’s a random collection of sketches by animation artists and illustrators, mostly from the New York scene.
It includes doodles by John Hubley and a painting by Fred Mogubgub:
Drawings by Rowland B. Wilson, George Cannata Jr. and “Gyo”, who I assume is children’s book illustrator Gyo Fujikawa:
A pair of lips drawn by Bill Littlejohn with the words “Animation is Beautiful” and a drawing by West Coast illustrator Ed Renfro of a man on a bench giving the piece sign:
Drawings by Seymour Chwast, Dolores Cannata, Gordon Bellamy, “Sculenberg”, and Murakami-Wolf:
Other artists who contributed include Jimmy Murakami, Chris Ishii, B. Simpson, Kim & Gifford, Bill Melendez, Lee Savage, Henry Syverson, Ed Smith, Irene Trivas, and Henry Fernandes.
I found this tattered children’s wall plaque at a flea market last weekend and forked over a few bucks for it. It reminded me a lot of Chuck Jones’s character Junyer from the Three Bears series, but no complaints because “Little Big Shot”, as he’s identified on the back, is so beautifully drawn and rendered. Is there some sort of rule that demands today’s cartoon iconography to look like this instead of being as appealing and inviting as this bear? The plaque was manufactured by the Dolly Toy Company in Tipp City, Ohio, a company that incidentally went out of business in 2008.
Speaking of things that may or may not be rip-offs, Adult Swim recently wrapped up a nation-wide block party tour that married live music and animation, kind of like Brooklyn’s quirky long-running Animation Block Party. Having never attended either of them, I can’t speak as to how closely Adult Swim’s block party mimicked Animation Block’s style, but perhaps others can. As a sidenote, Animation Block’s submission deadline is May 28.
Steve Jobs is taking so much heat for his decision to ban Flash from iPads and iPhones, that he’s published a lengthy missive defending his company’s actions, along with spreading his fair share of misinformation. I’m no fan of Flash, but I’m even less a fan of what Apple is doing. And while I’m all for looking towards the future, my current iPhone doesn’t offer a “full web” experience and lacks functionality that could be easily remedied by Apple. I’m certainly not planning to plop down more money for a larger device that is similarly broken. Jason Scott may have put it most succinctly on his Twitter feed:
The fact Jobs can banish something from his platform on the basis the thing is not “open” means the platform is not open.