Horton Hears A Who is a 1992 Russian animated short directed by Alexei Karayev, who also directed another Dr. Seuss adaptation that we’d linked to earlier called Welcome (1986). The English translation of the piece, producd at Pilot Studio, was done by Niffiwan who writes more about the film on his excellent Russian animation blog Animatsiya in English.
Haven’t had a moment to watch the film yet, although the man-elephant design of the title character is a bit off-putting at first glance. Niffiwan writes, “The art took me a little time to get used to, but I soon realized that it is really quite beautiful…It shows the exaggerated, overly-saturated, slightly unreal world of the creatures which must seem like gods to the people on the dust speck.” He also offers a thought about how this Russian version compares to the recent trailer for Blue Sky’s Horton:
I think that Pilot Studio’s version changes the surface layer by using an utterly different art style (among other things), but keeps the heart and soul of the story completely intact. The Blue Sky adaptation looks like it will do the opposite; keep the pretty crust and toss the insides.
This short Reuters video tells the story of how soap stone carvers in the Kenyan village of Tabaka are earning more money than ever by turning out delectably off-model carvings of Simpsons characters. In particular, the shot of the villagers trying to watch an episode of the Simpsons is priceless. According to Reuters, the village has an official license from Fox to produce these figurines. Now the question is, where can one purchase these statues?
UPDATE: Brew reader Hunter writes in the comments that the statues will soon be available here.
Director Chris Sanders (Lilo and Stitch), currently helming Crood Awakening at DreamWorks, has launched a website Ã¢â‚¬” ChrisSandersArt.com. The site is new and still growing although there is a nice selection of his personal drawings currently posted.
Here’s a nice environmentally-themed complement to the Koji Yamamura piece posted on the Brew yesterday. Spilled Oil is a new hand-drawn short produced as an internal project at Minneapolis-based animation studio Make. It was animated by Andrew Chesworth and Aaron Quist. The film can be viewed at SpilledOil.com and a ‘making of’ version with pencil tests can be viewed here.
Postmodern Times is a new series of short animated films presenting “ideas about global consciousness and techniques for social and ecological transformation.” The first episode, “Toward 2012,” introduces the project, explaining concepts from Daniel Pinchbeck’s book, 2012: The Return of Quetzalcoatl, in the author’s own voice. It’s an unlikely visual delight, combining motion graphics with performance capture and live-action in an inventive graphic package.
Future segments will focus on shamanism, sustainability, alternative energy systems, the Mayan Calendar, quantum physics and synchronicity and human sexuality, and a host of other subjects. The director of the series is Joao Amorim, who works out of Curious Pictures in NYC. The Postmodern series is developed by Amorim, Daniel Pinchbeck, Nikos Katsaounis and Fellipe Barbosa.
Like the Yamamura short I just posted about, Amorim’s Postmodern Times is a work of animation that aims for a purpose beyond entertainment. Don’t get me wrong, entertainment is a calling of the highest order, yet the art of animation is far too often stereotyped as a medium that is capable of only providing cheap laughs and nothing else. As filmmakers like Yamamura and Amorim demonstrate, animation (in all its many forms) is one of our most powerful and accessible forms of contemporary communication. It’s exciting to see filmmakers recognizing the medium’s potential and taking full advantage of its expressive qualities.
I was half-expecting to see something like HornyManatee.com when I clicked on the site WhaleLove.org, but it turns out that it’s a legit Japanese site by Greenpeace about saving whales. Even better, the site has a new 2-minute animated short by the hand-drawn animation master Koji Yamamura (Mt. Head, The Old Crocodile). The piece, entitled Man and Whale, is a simple elegantly told story about a school principal and his students who help rescue a beached whale. There’s also an interview with Yamamura in which he talks about why he agreed to make the film:
Yes, I am interested in environmental issues including global warming. But they are not simple problems. When human beings live and act, you use electricity, and thatÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s ruining the environment. I try to save electricity at home. Also, when you think Ã¢â‚¬Å“what else can you do to solve the problem?Ã¢â‚¬? I thought the best thing I can do is to convey the message by making animation films for that purpose.
Process Enacted is an inventive student film by Jordan Greenhalgh created at Rochester Institute of Technology as his sophomore final. The short can be viewed on his website TheChaseFactory.com. A few technical details about the film from its director:
I used Polaroid 600 film to capture all of my imagery. During the development phase of each image the Polaroids were manipulated to create lines and shapes as well as pulling some emulsion completely off. After shooting all of the Polaroids (987 to be exact) I re-shot them in black limbo with a Canon digital SLR. The end result is my film Process Enacted. There is no digital compositing or computer trickery … just what was in front of the lens.
Through the end of August, the Tobey C. Moss Gallery (7321 Beverly Boulevard, LA, CA) has on display a show of animation artwork by Jules Engel. It’s a fairly small selection of artwork but includes pieces from Engel’s work on Disney’s Fantasia, UPA and Format Films color keys, and drawings from his personal short films. This Thursday, August 2, from 7-9pm, I’ll be doing a signing of Cartoon Modern in conjunction with the show. We’ll also be doing a short screening that highlights his UPA work and includes rare interview clips with Engel. Brew readers who’d like to attend can rsvp by tomorrow either by sending an email to tobeymoss [at] earthlink.net or calling the gallery at (323) 933-5523.
Michael Sporn is posting the entire storyboard to the John and Faith Hubley short film Cockaboody (1974), along with frame grabs from the finished short. The boards, drawn entirely by John Hubley, are a work of art unto themselves. The first six pages of the boards are up now, stay tuned to his blog for the rest of them.
In early-2005, I declared that 2004 had been the year of the animation blog. It was a good year no doubt, but the same could likely be said for every year since then. In fact, the animation blogging community has evolved in leaps and bounds since its nascent rise in ’04. Today, the conversation on animation blogs is as vibrant and exciting as ever. What makes the community so dynamic is that it’s not just artists and critics posting random opinions, but actively engaging in back-and-forth conversations with one another.
To offer just one example, when Ren & Stimpy creator John Kricfalusi recently posted about his distaste for the stock designs of Disney villains, character designer Harald Siepermann responded with a lengthy post on his own blog that discussed his process for designing the villain Clayton in Tarzan. I can’t imagine a conversation between two such disparate artistic personalities happening prior to blogs but these types of spirited dialogues take place on an increasingly frequent basis nowadays.
Granted, it can be difficult to keep track of all these conversations or even know where to look to find such discourse. But there is no denying that it’s happening, and students and professionals alike now have a tool unlike any other to help develop and inspire their craft. How are we each taking advantage of the possibilities and what can we do to improve the animation blogging community?
Former Animato! editor and current PC World editor, offers a nice Comic-Con trip report on his blog. He perceptively points out how the Con today has little to do with its original mission statement:
The crowding would seem to have something to do with Comic-Con’s complete refusal to limit its scope or differentiate between the important, the worthwhile, and the abysmal. It certainly isn’t following its mission, which reads as follows:
Comic-Con International is a nonprofit educational organization dedicated to creating awareness of, and appreciation for, comics and related popular art forms, primarily through the presentation of conventions and events that celebrate the historic and ongoing contribution of comics to art and culture.
I have nothing against Sarah Silverman, but I fail to see how her TV show is relevant to that mission. I don’t understand why there are booths hawking swords and hard drives, or why it makes sense for Playboy Playmates to be signing photos on the show floor. It rankles me that the con’s program book celebrates every comic, TV show, and movie it mentions as a hit, a masterwork, or both.
If you have a Con trip report on your blog, share the link with us in the comments section of this post.
WHO: Obese fanboy with a thick accent hailing from Mexico
WHAT: The guy was talking to one of the dealers
WHERE: San Diego Comic-Con
WHEN: Thursday afternoon
“Animation just isn’t what it used to be. I really prefer the classic animation, the way it used to be in the old days. When I was growing up, we had quality animation like GI Joe and Transformers.”
Needless to say, I lasted barely a day at the Con this year before heading back on Thursday evening. The stench of the eventÃ¢â‚¬”both figurative and literalÃ¢â‚¬”was overwhelming. There was simply too much crass commercialism on display, and too little appreciation or joy for any art form. Today at the Con, there’ll be panels “celebrating” Family Guy and Class of 3000. Somehow I think I’ll be able to live. I hope Brew readers there get more enjoyment out of it than I did this year.
Alberto Mielgo is among those animation artists today whose work really excites me. He works in the London commercial scene, both on live-action and animated spots, such as this recent Guitar Hero piece. The kitchen illo above is a concept for a cereal commercial. He’s also working on a graphic novel called The Asparagus Seeker which looks stunning.
New York director/animator Pat Smith has launched a blog with the goal of giving people “a glimpse into the life of an independent animator in New York.” Pat’s one of those people who’s not afraid to speak his mind so I expect we’ll be seeing plenty of interesting entries from him. He has an eloquent opening missive in which he discusses his passion for the art form:
I love animation, but I’m not the biggest fan of the type of animation that is ingested in mass, supplied by the majors in this industry. I like animation to be a bit more personal, have some gravel in the gut and spit in the eye. On a technical level, I like to see animation with texture and soul. I never think about CG, don’t desire to work with those techno puppets. I like to draw, I like to create a real drawing with a pencil on paper. artwork that exists when the power is out, that exists as more than 1′s and 0′s. I like smudges, I like the bottom of my hand to get graphite on it.
I’m not sure why I’ve never written about David Gemmill‘s blog because he certainly deserves a link. His voluminous “hipster studies” posted throughout his blog provide as accurate a portrait of contemporary LA types as anything I’ve seen. Plus he does story posts with lively sequential drawings (like this or this), as well as producing the occasional piece of Flash animation exclusively for his blog. Good stuff all around.
Thanks to everybody who responded. I still haven’t chosen anybody but there were literally dozens of responses and there’s tons of qualified people among them. I’ll try to respond to folks within the day. Thanks again!
We’re currently working on the first book that’ll be released under the Cartoon Brew imprint (see here) and looking for somebody to help prepare the black-and-white photo files for the printer. Basically I’m trying to make sure the values are consistent throughout the photos. I know how to use Photoshop, as I’m sure everybody else does too, so knowing the program is not enough; we’re looking for somebody who’s done a lot of photo editing and understands how to create tonal consistency across a batch of b&w images. There is financial compensation for the project. Not to mention the book itself should be quite unique. If you’re interested, please email me at amid at cartoonbrew dot com and let me know your qualifications.
A few months ago, I posted about the “Women in Animation” symposium taking place in Columbus, Ohio. If you were unable to attend the event (and I assume that would be most Brew readers), Nick Burkard has posted the event’s lectures online as downloadable MP3s. I haven’t listened to any of them yet, but plan to do so. Among other things, there are roundtable discussions between all the guests, a lecture by British animator Joanna Quinn, and a talk by Rebecca Allen about pioneering computer animation. More details about the talks and presenters can be found on the event blog.
The winners of the Fleet Street Scandal book are David White and Cabel Sasser.
Don’t worry if you didn’t win a book. The book can still be ordered online at FleetStreetScandal.com,and Kevin and Chris will also be at the San Diego Comic-Con this week (Table E-4) where they’ll be selling the book, as well as lots of prints, including new ones like the pieces below:
For today’s contest, we’re giving away TWO signed copies of the book Fleet Street Scandal, a 48-page hardcover book collecting the digital artwork of Kevin Dart and Chris Turnham. It’s rare to find an artistic duo wherein both are equally talented, but Kevin and Chris each bring the goods to the table. In a blog post last year, I wondered why they weren’t working more regularly on animation entertainment projects. Well since then, Chris has done freelance work for Laika, and Kevin is currently doing an art internship at Pixar. I expect we’ll be seeing a lot more animation contributions from them in the future, but until then, be sure to check out the dazzling collection of illustration work they’ve compiled in Fleet Street Scandal.
For this contest, provide the answer to the following question in the COMMENTS section of this post. Instead of our usual procedure of choosing the first two correct answers, we will instead randomly choose two winners from all your correct answers posted between now and 3:15pm. If you have won anything from the Brew recently, please do not enter again. Here’s the the question:
Kevin and Chris came up with the name Fleet Street Scandal while looking through the London edition of a Czech artist’s series of worldly childrens’ books. What is the artist’s name?
CONTEST IS OVER! WINNERS WILL BE ANNOUNCED SOON. THE CORRECT ANSWER WAS MIROSLAV SASEK. THANKS FOR PLAYING
I was organizing some dvds tonight and stumbled upon this rare color footage from the 1941 Disney strike. If I recall correctly, it’s from the collection of Tee Bosustow, who I’m currently collaborating with on a very cool project. His father, UPA co-founder Steve Bosustow, can be seen clapping his hands in the video at about 1:22. The footage also includes strike leaders like the recently departed David Hilberman (above photo, right) and Art Babbitt (above, left). The Fats Domino song isn’t part of the original footage obviously, just something I added to break the silence.
Art director Hans Bacher (Mulan) has started up an incredible new blog called Animation Treasures. He’s painstakingly recreating pan backgrounds from classic animated films currently on dvd (mostly Disney ones) to offer a sense of what the original backgrounds looked like before the characters were composited on top. There’s lots of insightful notes to go along with each image. Truly a terrific educational resource that everybody should take advantage of. Thanks Hans!
This article by Chuck Salter in the new issue of Fast Company is a fascinating indepth read about the transformation of Will Vinton Studios into Laika. The story includes the first joint-interview with Laika owner Phil Knight (who also founded Nike) and his son Travis “Chilly Tee” Knight, who is an animator, director and board member at Laika. The article is slanted very much towards their side of the story, but it doesn’t pull any punches and addresses the studio’s historical baggage in the form of ousted founder Will Vinton.
When I wrote briefly about Laika a couple months ago, I described my feelings about the studio as “cautiously optimistic” and that opinion still hasn’t changed. They’re clearly an outfit with a vision (albeit not quite fully developed) and they’re run by a creative entrepreneur with a proven track record (which is more than can be said for most execs working in feature animation). And most commendable, they’re attempting to stake their claim as being an original producer of animated features instead of positioning themselves as yet another Pixar/DreamWorks clone. Now it just remains to be seen if the Knights’ big gamble will pay off; it’s definitely a story worth following.
Got a few hours tonight? Tune into the online broadcast of Luxuria Music from 7-10pm PST where the guest on the “Kitsch Niche with Strike” will be animation artist and director Jordan Reichek (Ren & Stimpy, Invader Zim). Jordan also happens to be a primo collector of Disneylandia (trust me, I’ve seen the collection) and he’s sharing some of the aural parts of the collection on air tonight including rare recording session outtakes, Disneyland commercials, weird “sing-along” records made at the park and theme park cover songs. Rare photos of the park will also be displayed on the Luxuria webcam. It’s all for free at LuxuriaMusic.com.
Here’s a very short but eye-catchingly ambitious piece of Flash animation: Frenopatic Parade by Santiago AgustÃƒÂ. AgustÃƒÂ tells me that until recently he was working at the Spanish animation studio Keytoon, but he’s taking time off to raise his new child and managed to complete this piece in his spare time. Check out more of his work at Saponia.com or his blog.
Animation World Magazine has an interview with 99-year-old animation veteran Jack Zander whose career includes stints at studios like Romer Grey, Van Beuren, MGM and Terrytoons, as well as running his own commercial studios Pelican Films and Zander’s Animation Parlour. I saw Zander speak in LA about five years ago and his memory was impressively sharp. In fact, he seems quite sharp in this interview as well, though it would have been a more interesting chat if the interviewer had been more familiar with Zander’s history. As it is, it’s still worth a read.
Last year on the Cartoon Modern blog, I highlighted a couple advertising productions by Zander which have been lost to time. I thought I’d share a few more Zander artifacts. At the top of this post is a late-’50s magazine advertisement for his studio Pelican. Below is a 1962 Pelican-produced ad for Jax Beer designed by Chris Ishii and animated by Emery Hawkins. Click on the image to see a set of stills from the spot. And below that is another one of the Jax commercials. The comedy team of Mike Nichols and Elaine May provided the tracks for the Jax spots.