Today is what would have been the 82nd birthday of Osamu Tezuka, the creator of Astro Boy and Kimba the White Lion. Fittingly, a book I’d ordered from Amazon just arrived in the mail: The Art of Osamu Tezuka: God of Manga by Helen McCarthy. The book is deeply discounted on Amazon right now–only $16.59–and includes a dvd with a rare 1985 Japanese documentary about the artist. It’s a classy looking package and the most comprehensive overview of Tezuka’s life I’ve seen in English. The book doesn’t appear to focus as much on his animation work as I would have liked, but that’s understandable given that it’s an overview of Tezuka’s entire career, the greater portion of which took place in the realm of comics.
There are obvious benefits to attending an animation school, but for those who are unable to do so, the wealth of how-to material about creating animation continues to grow on-line. Some noteworthy examples:
If a Hell exists for animation artists, I imagine it would involve having to work on later seasons of The Simpsons. There’s an interesting thing going on here though. Anybody familiar with animation history knows that virtually every classic cartoon character from Mickey to Bugs to Woody to Yogi became stiffer and less appealing as the years passed. It’s a good argument for why repetition is unhealthy for artists, and how it leads to artistic stagnation and an overreliance on formulas.
The limitations of Steven Spielberg and Peter Jackson’s approach to Tintin is evident from the very first still they’ve released (above). The most glaring flaw–besides the fact that Tintin and Snowy look like zombies and they’ve lost all the appealing shapes in the original designs and everything is drowning in an obscured mess of shadows and excess detail–is the tilt (or lack thereof) in Tintin’s pose.
Performance capture can only capture what it records, and the animators are clearly hindered in this image because no human can comfortably run at Tintin’s angle as drawn by Hergé. The ability to achieve the impossible is one of the strengths of cartooning (and art in general), and so remains the paradox of why anybody would be foolish enough to spend a hundred million dollars to create a more inept and less appealing version of something that could be better drawn by artists.
This quote by Peter Jackson is particularly hilarious in light of the images that WETA is cranking out:
“With live action you’re going to have actors pretending to be Captain Haddock and Tintin. You’d be casting people to look like them. It’s not really going to feel like the Tintin Hergé drew. It’s going to be somewhat different. With CGI we can bring Hergé’s world to life, keep the stylized caricatured faces, keep everything looking like Hergé’s artwork, but make it photo-real.”
Brad with Jeremy Renner (L), Tom Cruise and Paula Patton
As we continue to stalk cover Brad Bird’s travels around the globe, here are some new shots of him in Dubai at a press conference for Mission: Impossible Ghost Protocol. Brad will be shooting parts of the film in Dubai at the Burj Khalifa tower, the world’s tallest building. More photos after the jump. Click on each for a bigger version. Continue reading →
Brew reader Alex Rannie reminds us that Monday, October 25, marked the centennial birthday of animation legend Tyrus Wong and we hope you’ll join us in wishing him a very happy birthday. The Chinese-born artist worked at Disney between 1938 and 1941 where he famously art directed Bambi, though his contribution was never properly acknowledged and he was only credited as a background painter.
In spite of his contributions to the classic Disney feature, Wong considers animation to be “a minor, very small part” of his artistic life, that also included twenty-six years as a film production illustrator at Warner Bros. where he worked on films like Rebel Without a Cause, Around the World in Eighty Days and The Wild Bunch. He also worked for many years as a greeting card designer.
Below is a 2007 interview with Wong about his early artistic career:
Among the gems discovered this year in Ottawa was Shin Hashimoto‘s The Undertaker and the Dog, a student short made at Tokyo’s Tama Art University. The story, which incorporates elements of Snow White, turns fairly weird by the end. I particularly like its flowing ink animation style that transitions smoothly from scene to scene, as well as all the idiosyncratic and humorous touches that seemingly come out of nowhere (the flies being scared off the princess, the turtle who is being beaten, the dog tits). The tags on his YouTube video give us an idea of his artistic influences: Caroline Leaf, Gianluigi Toccafondo, Ryan Larkin, and David Shrigley.
I’ll admit that I dismissed the piece as nothing special the first time I watched it, but I was quite impressed the second time around when I paid closer attention and realized what they were actually doing. The combination of drawn animation (Flash?) and pixilated live-action is mixed together very smartly. It’s done in such a way so that the piece has the cinematic bravado of a computer animated film while retaining the organic and expressive design qualities of drawn animation. It’s a worthwhile experiment that merits further exploration, and pushes Todor & Petru beyond the typical combo of 2D animation over live elements.
Their Vimeo account also features this earlier piece that appears to be a test or development for Todor & Petru: