Bob Last, producer of Sylvain Chomet’s The Illusionist, sent a threatening email to one of the animators who worked on the movie because that animator had the temerity to promote the film on his blog. Animator Victor Ens posted a few pencil tests of HIS own work which prompted this ridiculous over-the-top letter from the producer:
You have posted a number of linetests from The Illusionist on your blog and other web sites. These posts all infringe Django Films Illusionist
Ltd’s copyright and must be removed immediately. Please confirm that you have done so.
Please also note that to have these digital materials in your possession breaks the legal undertakings you gave Django Film Illusionist Ltd under the terms of your employment. You had no right whatsoever to remove these linetests from Django Films Illusionist Ltd’s studio and you should destroy them.
I look forward to your swift compliance with our requests above and meantime Django Films Illusionist Ltd reserves its right of further action against you to protect its copyright and enforce the contractual undertakings you have made.
It angers me to see a studio reprimanding an artist who was trying to promote a low-budget animation production with a limited marketing budget. It’s the type of corporate behavior that leaves a bad taste in the mouth and makes me NOT want to see The Illusionist. If anything, Victor should be commended for being so enthusiastic and doing what the studio itself should be doing in the first place, which is sharing pencil tests and other artwork on-line to promote their film.
UPDATE: Director and producer Patrick Smith wrote a brilliant comment below where he suggests how the producer could have handled the situation with a respectful tone that showed appreciation for the artist’s contribution to the film. With Pat’s permission, I’m reprinting his alternate letter as a service to anybody who wants to see a more productive way of communicating with artists:
Hi Victor, while we appreciate your enthusiasm for the film, and posting the clips, could you please please please take them down for the time being?? you see we’re trying to implement our promotional strategy, and don’t want anything out there at this time. in a few months, let’s talk! Thanks for your great work on the film btw! and I hope you are well. if you could confirm that you have taken the clips down that would be great.. mmm-kay? Cheers- Bob
The article doesn’t actually say that anybody in Hollywood is interested–just that they’re pitching the idea around–but they already have a toy deal in place. The game has sold over $7 million worth of downloads through the Apple store and the “cinematic trailer” above has topped 5.5 milllion views on YouTube. Mikael Hed, the CEO of Rovio Mobile, the Finnish company behind the game, isn’t being modest and thinks he just might be the next Pixar: “Time and time again, they take an unknown brand and make it big,” he said. Good luck with that.
Yannick Nézet-Séguin: No Intermission by Theodore Ushev (Lipsett Diaries, Drux Flux) combines documentary with abstract animation to illustrate the work of up-and-coming conductor Yannick Nézet-Séguin. Ushev writes that, “It was my first experiment with the computer programming language Processing. Basicaly all of the animation was done using it — crossing the data, and randomizing the data from the sound information and the movements of the hands of Seguin.”
Fishing with Spinoza is a graduation film by John Kenn Mortensen made at the Animation Workshop. Its droll humor and look has held up in the three years since I first saw it, and the philosophic discussion between Jude and Ruby is amusing in a My Night at Maud’s kind of way.
Buck created this commercial for Nike’s World Basketball Festival. I’m not fond of the basketball players-wearing-corsets design style, but I like the way the forms break up into abstract shapes during scene transitions. The arbitrary wiggles also seem to owe a lot to a much older animated campaign by Nike. The main reason I’m posting this though is because I’ve been seeing posters for the campaign around New York and shaking my head at how epically unappealing the illustrations are; surprisingly, with the animated abstraction, those same designs look good in motion.
Creative Director: Ryan Honey
Associate Creative Director: Jeremy Sahlman
Art Director: Joe Mullen
Character Design: Saiman Chow
Design: Joe Mullen
Modeling: Rie Ito, Ivan Sokol, Jens Lindgren, Ana Luisa Santos, Claudio Salas, Jaime Klein
Texturing: Ana Luisa Santos, Jaime Klein, Jorge Canedo, Ivan Sokol
Rigging: Joel Anderson, Jens Lindgren, Matt Everton
Animation 3D: Matt Everton, Steve Day, Alessandro Ceglia, Claudio Salas
Cel Animation: Alessandro Ceglia, Regis Camargo, Will White, Kendra Ryan, Stephanie Simpson, Jenny Ko, Claudio Salas, Jorge Canedo
Lighting: Jens Lindgren, Ana Luisa Santos
Compositing: Moses Journey, Claudio Salas, Jens Lindgren
Software Used: Maya, Flash, After Effects
Music and Sound Design: John Black / CypherAudio
A photo during the production of Disney’s The Reluctant Dragon on November 7, 1940. I hope somebody will get a kick out of it. Actress Frances Gifford, who played a studio artist in the film, is the woman in the photo. The other people are, clockwise from Gifford: John McLeish, T. Hee, Ward Kimball, Fred Moore (back), Norm Ferguson (back) and Erdman Penner. Click on pic to biggify.
The first three episodes of Signe Baumane’s outrageous Teat Beat of Sex, a funny and courageous fifteen-part series of lectures from a woman’s point of view. Watching these semi-autobiographical shorts makes one realize how little animation there is that expresses a personal viewpoint about sex. They’re NSFW as are most good things in life.
Jeff Varab, a veteran character animator with credits on The Fox and the Hound, All Dogs Go to Heaven, Balto, Mulan and Titan A.E., was arrested in Florida on thirteen counts of fraud. The story is reported on the Orlando Sentinel website. Apparently, it all stems from his faith-based animation studio Genesis, and a film he made, Tugger: The Jeep 4 x 4 Who Wanted to Fly. We first reported the sordid story of Tugger back in September 2006 and it appears that the situation was never resolved. The comments section of this post on the Animation Guild blog also help fill in pieces of Varab’s life.
Scott Dikkers, who helped found The Onion and was its longest-serving editor-in-chief, also happens to be a cartoonist, and he’s launched a new Brooklyn-based animation company Dikkers Animation company. The company website offers three shorts–Tycoon Tykes, Ape Trouble and Bright Lights Big Steam. The hand-drawn cartoons are refreshingly simple family-oriented cartoons with nice little messages worked into each one. They’re paced a bit slow for my taste, but I imagine they’d do well with a younger audience. And isn’t it a refreshing change of pace to see a new animation company promote itself with storytelling-oriented pieces instead of visual prowess?
Companies like Viacom and Warner Bros. are notoriously unpicky about how they license their characters, but using preschool cartoon characters to unload perfume onto children sinks pretty low. What is the smell that appropriately evokes a four-year-old Hispanic girl? Or an undersea sponge for that matter? When I scratched the SpongeBob sample at the drugstore checkout counter, I half expected the briny scent of the ocean and seaweed. Alas, the people who made these weren’t that thoughtful; all of them had a generic synthetic smell that evoked nothing. My floor wipes have a more sophisticated scent than these sorry excuses for children’s merchandise.
How do you go from being the head assistant director of Snow White, the head of Disney’s personnel department, and the production supervisor of The Mickey Mouse Club to a homeless panhandler living on the streets of Manhattan? That, in a nutshell, is the strange life of Hal Adelquist, who died in 1981 at the age of 66. At the time of his death, he had moved back to Long Beach, California, and was living with his mother.
Animation student Michael Ruocco was browsing eBay when he found a batch of drawings that appear to be a deleted scene animated by Fred Moore from Dumbo. The drawings were carelessly broken up by the seller and being sold as individual drawings, but Michael grabbed all of the preview images and put them together into the sequence above. Then he did further sleuthing:
I noticed the stamped numbers in the bottom left corner of each drawing, “2006 19.2 30.0″. Recalling Hans Perk’s drafts for Dumbo, I remembered what those numbers mean. 2006 is the production number (“Dumbo”), 19.2 is the sequence number (“Dumbo Learns to Fly”) and 30.0 being the shot number. I went over to Hans’ site and checked his drafts. There was the shot, but between when the draft was made and the film’s release, the end of the sequence was changed. There originally was more lines by Timothy and a “confidentiality agreement” between him and the crows. In the final film, this scene was truncated, leaving out all of Timothy’s extra dialogue.
To see all of the individual drawings from the sequence, visit Michael’s blog.
According to Local 839 business rep Steve Hulett, who visited Disney Feature Animation a few hours ago, “morale is lower than a dachshund’s belly, since most of the artists and technicians were given their notices in July, and layoffs now loom.” He also writes on the union blog that “Disney Feature Animation’s atmosphere, in fact, is a lot like it was in 2001, when hand-drawn animation was imploding and everybody working on Home on the Range knew they had four months before they got to go stand in the unemployment line: Grim.”