Get Him to the Greek is a live-action film that will be released in a few days. I don’t know anything about the film, but they’ve got this entertaining animated commercial to promote the film. Anybody know the credits for this spot? They deserve some recognition. And why doesn’t the movie studio have a nice version of this spot on-line? Rarely do I see animation this attractive in TV advertising nowadays.
Director: Guilherme Marcondes
Executive Producer: Michael Feder
Producer: Greg Bedard
Lead TD: Arman Matin
TD & Layout Artist: Morgan James
Lighting: Ignacio Ayestaran, Erwin Riau
Modeling & Rigging: Daniel Williams
Modeling & Texturing: Ylli Orana
Rigging: Stanislav Llin
Color Keys: George Fuentes
Animation: Ken Music, Jamie Castaneda, Bill Burg
Compositing: Arman Matin & Allison Kocar
Particles: Jaymie Miguel
Above is a profile of Ray Lei, a Beijing-based graduate of Tsinghua University, Academy of Arts & Design. I was first introduced to his work when I was on the jury in Ottawa last year and saw three of his student films. As I recall, all of us on the jury had a similar (and curious) reaction in that we admired his work and thought it was creative, but didn’t particularly like the films. Nevertheless, Lei has plenty of ideas and creativity and I’m looking forward to following his professional career.
In the video interview, Lei says something that I hear often about animation schools in Asia, India and other developing animation regions of the world: that the schools treat animation too much as a trade and overemphasize technical skills at the expense of individual expression and thinking. That will be a big hurdle for those regions to overcome if they want to compete creatively with Western animation. Lei puts it best in the interview:
“It seems to me that too many people are too focused on the technical side of their work. Because I know After Effects, or Maya, I’m an animator. But that’s only one component in this big production. The technical skill that you’re proud of now will eventually become outdated and useless.”
More of Ray Lei’s illustration work can be seen on The Creators Project. Here’s a new eye candy-filled short by Lei:
And here’s a video of him rapping in Chinese accompanied by Simpsons director David Silverman on the tuba:
I wrote last month about the plan of Rocko’s Modern Life creator Joe Murray to raise $16,800 in 45 days to complete his animation project Frog in a Suit. Using the crowd-funding site Kickstarter, Murray reached that goal yesterday, with nine fundraising days to spare.
Murray’s success is significant because he’s the first creator from the established world of TV animation to appeal directly to his fanbase through crowd-funding. The money he raised will be used to produce two three-minute episodes of Frog in a Suit. He then plans to use these shorts to persuade mainstream advertisers to fund a full series on his as yet to be launched online cartoon channel called KaBoingTV.com. In other words, crowd-funding still isn’t a viable solution for funding an entire series if you intend to create the series using a traditional TV production pipeline; it is enough only to make a pilot.
For independent artists who use less traditional and more efficient pipelines, crowd-funding an entire series remains a distinct possibility, especially as more viewers become accustomed to directly supporting the content they want to watch. And there is plenty of room for indies in the crowd-funded marketplace. Even right now, lesser-known artists are reaching their fundraising goals, like Kymia Nawabi who raised $3,000 to make a stop-motion music video for the band Future Islands, and Chris Bishop and Evan Viera who drummed up $11,500 to make their hybrid drawn and CG-short Caldera.
New Yorkers can enjoy plenty of animation goodness this summer thanks to the Observatory, an arts and event space in Brooklyn (543 Union Street at Nevins, Brooklyn, NY 11215). They’re hosting an awesome-sounding lecture series called “Animators Are God?” Curated by GF Newland and Trilby Schreiber, the series will offer lectures, presentations and screenings by New York animators of all stripes. It kicks off this Saturday with Academy Award-winning animator Jimmy Picker who will discuss and screen his work.
Upcoming speakers include:
Signe Baumane, Animator
Kevin Brownie of Beavis and Butthead, SNL TV Funhouse
Bob Camp of Ren and Stimpy
Jonny Clockworks of the Cosmic Bicycle Theatre
John Dillworth creator of Courage the Cowardly Dog
Ted Enik Children’s book Illustrator
Nina Paley creator of Sita Sings the Blues
Bill Plympton showing his new film The Cow Who Wanted to be a Hamburger
R. Sikoryak, Masterpiece Comic and Cartoon Parodies
Debra Solomon, co-creator of the Disney Channel’s Lizzie McGuire
Mike Zohn on the History of Automata
Additional guests will be announced. Tickets are $5 per show. For more details on the series, visit the Observatory website.
How could Shrek Forever After debut with an actual take of $70.8 million over the weekend, and still be considered a flop? An analysis of its performance can be found at Box Office Guru. According to that site, if the latest Shrek continues at its current trajectory, it may end up grossing less than How to Train Your Dragon.
UPDATE: DreamWorks’ head of worldwide marketing, Anne Globe, said the film’s North American debut “was on the low end for a Shrek film. But we’re very optimistic that it’s on its way to becoming a worldwide hit.” According to the LA Times, the more expensive ticket prices of 3-D and IMAX mask the real story: the audience for Shrek Forever After was less than half of its predecessor.
UPDATE #2: Following Shrek’s weaker-than-expected opening, DreamWorks stock took a pounding on Monday and lost 11% of its value to close at $31.05. Since the opening of How to Train Your Dragon in March, DreamWorks stock has plunged 27.5%. Read more about the company’s recent financial performance at MarketWatch.
Shrek Exposed is a new blog that reveals all of the character’s dirty secrets. It’s run by a group of concerned American citizens who are in NO WAY affiliated with the MacGruber movie which comes out the same weekend as Shrek.
The Wall Street Journal reports that this weekend, for the first time ever, a movie theater will charge $20 for a regular admission adult movie ticket. The theater: AMC in Manhattans’s Kips Bay neighborhood. The film they’re charging you twenty dollars to see: Shrek Forever After.
UPDATE: The New York Times has a follow-up story that says theaters have backtracked on the $20 ticket and reduced prices. They claim the prices listed were a mistake. The same Kips Bay AMC charged $19.50 per ticket for IMAX showings of DreamWorks’ previous film How to Train Your Dragon.
The recently unveiled 2012 London Olympic mascots, which are somehow supposed to evoke the spirit of the games, now have their very own animated short. Frankly, the cartoon isn’t as bad as it should be, but to understand why the Olympics chose to represent itself with hideously phallic blobs, listen to what this Olympic official has to say: “The one thing that came out of our research with children is they weren’t looking for a cuddly toy or something human, but for something rooted in a very good story.” If ever there was proof needed that focus-testing and researching cartoon characters is a fool’s errand, look no further.
UPDATE: Received word that the director of the animated short was Mario Cavalli and the backgrounds are by Neil Campbell Ross.
The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences has announced the winners of the 37th Annual Student Academy Awards competition, and three shorts shared the prize in the animation category. I’ve linked to two of them which have already been posted online. Congrats to all!
â€¢ Departure of Love
Jennifer Bors, Ringling College of Art and Design, Floridaâ€¨
â€¢ Dried Up
Isaiah Powers and Jeremy Casper, Kansas City Art Institute, Missouriâ€¨
Andres Salaff, California Institute of the Arts