Lipton’s Brisk iced tea brand aired one of the most memorable animation ad campaigns of the Nineties which starred stop-motion versions of celebrities like Frank Sinatra, Elvis and James Brown, Bruce Lee and Babe Ruth. They’ve resurrected the campaign for the 21st century with an Internet viral film called “The Way of the Brisk” starring an animated version of mixed martial arts fighter Chuck Liddell. The stop-motion was directed by Brooklyn-based animator Tatia Rosenthal, who directed the indie feature $9.99.
Tatia shared a few details about the production:
The live-action shoot took 4 days (including a day in LA with Chuck Liddell who was really amused by the little Chuck puppet). The animation took three weeks and was done in Brooklyn at Studio Nos’s facility. David Bell [animator] and I were incredibly happy to work with the fancy John Wright armature and Ron Cole’s cable-controlled face mechanism. Tiny Chuck’s head was so heavy that the flying rig had to be complemented with various wrenches, c-stands and contraptions. A video of the non-composited footage showing the nuts and bolts will hit the Internet soon.
Production company: Bright Red Pixels for Funny or Die
Directors: Jeff Marks, Adam Elend
Producer: Scott Solary
Animation Director: Tatia Rosenthal
Animators: Tatia Rosenthal, David Bell
Puppet By: David Bell
Armature: John Wright
Skull Mechanism: Ron Cole
DP: Scott Colthorp
Animation DP: Burke Heffner
For those of you who’ve been searching for images of Disney animator Ollie Johnston in the buff–I imagine there’s a few of you–this is the closest you’re going to get: a birthday card drawn by Glen Keane in 1999. The piece comes from Ollie Johnston’s estate and is currently up for bid at Howard Lowery’s auction website.
Can this skateboarding octogenarian and his goat save the day? That’s the setup for Sir Billi, a new animated feature with the voice of Sean Connery. Their publicist wrote us, “Wanted to reach out to you with the first ‘sneak peek’ of the sizzle reel!” Szz-z-z-z…if they’re selling the sizzle here, I shudder to think what the steak looks like. Then again, hearing Connery yell, “This Bessie Boo is our beaver!” isn’t entirely devoid of entertainment value either.
UPDATE: Sean Connery explains why he is certain this is a “first-class” project:
If you read just one blog post this week, make sure it’s this one by animator Matt Williames describing his experience working on Disney’s The Princess and the Frog. He states upfront that the piece comes from “a heart that wants to see change” and “My ONLY desire to see Disney recognize how far they have fallen because quite honestly I think we all care quite a lot about the studio that a guy named Walt started don’t we?”
He then goes on to write one of the most courageous things I’ve seen written by a contemporary animator: an honest appraisal of working at an animation studio. Matt’s thesis is that a feature animation studio should offer at least three things:
- A place with amazing films that challenge and inspire their artists.
- An environment of camaraderie (with the crew) where people are challenged and inspired to grow.
- An environment of active education and study.
According to him, Disney failed on all three counts. Watching The Princess and the Frog makes it clear enough that there are serious institutional problems at that studio, but Matt’s post adds a unique perspective to the situation. If anything, he shows that it’s just as difficult for the artists working on Disney’s current crop of films as it is for the audiences who are expected to watch and be entertained by them.
Rectangular sponges are out; triangles are in. Today’s NY Times writes about how Disney’s Phineas and Ferb is the next SpongeBob. I find that premise difficult to believe. Is Phineas and Ferb really as popular with college students and young adults as SpongeBob in its heyday? A successful kids show it may be, but Phineas and Ferb has a ways to go before turning into a pop culture phenomenon.
Shane Prigmore, whose character design talents have graced Coraline and How to Train Your Dragon, has illustrated his first book Spaceheadz (aka SPHDZ) written by Jon Scieszka and Francesco Sedita. Haven’t seen it yet but the book is out this week.
Here’s a trailer for the book, the first in a series, that explains the concept:
Rotoscoped animation based on the sitcom The Big Bang Theory doesn’t sound like a particularly good recipe for entertainment, but French animator Nunub (aka MicaÃ«l Reynaud) has created a worthy experimental piece using those elements combined with a piece of music by Turkish rock pioneer Fikret KÄ±zÄ±lok. In his video description, Nunub says that he doesn’t particularly care for the subject matter; it was only an excuse to animate something. While he doesn’t push the abstraction as far as something like Robert Breer’s A Man and His Dog Out for Air, it’s a lot of fun watching how the subject matter becomes progressively more abstract and painterly. Try freeze-framing it for some unexpected imagery.
The live charity auction aiding animation veteran Pres Romanillos in his fight against leukemia will take place this Sunday. The event takes places at the Animation Guild (1105 N. Hollywood Way Burbank, CA 91505) with registration beginning at 1pm and bidding at 2pm. Over 160 items will be available, including the pieces pictured in this post. For more information, including absentee bidding info, visit Pres-Aid.com.
UPDATE: Pres Romanillos passed away on July 17, 2010 from leukemia. More information can be found here.
Here’s a funky CG kids’ show pilot from Buenos Aires, Argentina called GlÃ¼ko & Lennon. Created by Federico Radero and Tomi Dieguez at L’Orange Gutan, the show contains a generous dose of the rainbow-colored vector-oriented design sensibility that can be found in spades at any Pictoplasma conference. They make the look work well, though I can’t imagine any US broadcasters would be hip enough to allow a show like this on the air.
Brooklyn-based animator and bona fide biker chick Lori Samsel made this cute animated piece entirely out of Japanese rice crackers. I think I’m most impressed that she managed to animate the film before eating all of the crackers. Those things are yummy!
Blockhead’s “The Music Scene” by Anthony Francisco Schepperd will be one of the finest animated music videos you’ll see this year. You can’t fake this kind of animation–Schepperd is an animator’s animator whose drawings breathe and pulsate with energy surging from one subject matter to another. His surrealistic morphing visuals are rooted in solid drawing and his rough animation style complements his seemingly stream-of-conscious flow of visual ideas. The pencil mileage that went into making this is mind-boggling; the only credit on the Vimeo page is Schepperd, and if he animated the entire thing himself, all I can say is wow! Along with last year’s video for Ape School’s “Wail to God”, Schepperd has proven himself to be one of the most exciting traditional animators on the scene right now. Find out more about his work at TheManimator.com.
Something Left, Something Taken is a charming and funny tale about paranoia in the Bay Area. It’s made by the Brooklyn-based husband-and-wife team of Max Porter and Ru Kuwahata, who are better known as Tiny Inventions. They worked on the film for nearly two-and-a-half years in between commercial jobs like this “Davy Crockett” music video for They Might Be Giants.
Max and Ru used nearly every trick in the bag to make this including stop-motion, pixilation, drawn animation on paper, After Effects, Flash and live-action puppets. The film mixes together these elements in a seamless manner to create a whimsical hand-crafted world featuring lots of felt, fabric, rope, and cardboard. My favorite touch is the crocheted eyelids of the characters.
Max Porter & Ru Kuwahata
Sound Design/ Mix: Greg Sextro (East West Audio)
Voice recording: Erin Kilkenny
Alex & Alison
Ru Kuwahata as Ru
Max Porter as Max
Kyle McKeveny as Artie the driver
Mickey Ryan as Dr. Janno
Tatiana Gomberg as Leslie
Erin Kilkenny as Scientist
Mike DiBenedetto as Steward
Veronica Taylor as Extra
Marc Diraison as Extra
Friends who helped us:
Sean Mcbride for rigging characters
Will Krause for prop making
Jene Wallace for prop making
Mary Bakija for sewing
Susie Porter for knitting
Noella Borie for interning
Sara Maysles for voice recording
Animation artist Lou Romano (The Incredibles, Up) makes a strong case for using illustrations on magazine covers with this attractive cover for Written By magazine in honor of Ray Bradbury’s ninetieth birthday. Better still, there’s an artwork-heavy post on Lou’s blog documenting the creative process for this illustration.