Many readers have noticed a malware warning when they’ve come to the site over the last couple days. We’ve traced the issue to our OpenX ad server. The issues affected many sites which run the OpenX server. There is more information about the issue at LegitReviews.com which also experienced the same hack:
A group registered in Russia and constantly moving around Scandavavia on a daily basis using the domain newtickepicker.com has hacked into many of the OpenX Ad servers including ours to insert a plug in. It then places itself into a one pixel unit on a graphic position for an advertisement. The plugin is called “mergedDeliveryFunctions.php.
Our tech guy informs us that no malware was ever added to the site, however, as a precaution, Google flagged all sites using these OpenX invocation codes. We are currently working with Google to get our site relisted as safe. Everything should be back to normal by the end of today. Thank you to everybody who has helped out and sent over screenshots and info about what they’re seeing on their computers.
A trailer for the children’s film Moomins and the Comet Chase, the first stereoscopic 3-D feature out of the Nordic region. It’s being produced by Finnish studio Filmkompaniet Alpha, who previously made the feature Moomin and Midsummer Madness in 2008. The characters are based on Tove Jansson’s classic book and comic characters Moomins which have been the subject of numerous animated TV series and features throughout the years, including a hand-drawn Japanese version of this same Moomin story from 1992 titled Comet in Moominland.
Computer animation from Russia in 1968 (yep, that’s forty-two years ago!):
A group of Russian physicists and mathematicians with N. Konstantinov in the head of it created mathematic model of the cat and its moving and realized this model in the program for the computer “BESM-4″. Computer printed hundreds of frames on the paper using alphabet symbols and then they were converted to the cinefilm.
An enticing trailer for Lipsett Diaries, a short directed by Theodore Ushev (Drux Flux, Tower Bawher). It’s rare to see animated imagery with such substance and beauty–so intensely powerful–and it’s only the trailer:
[Lipsett Diaries] depicts the maelstrom of anguish that tormented Arthur Lipsett, a famed Canadian experimental filmmaker who died at the age of 49. His descent into depression and madness is explored through a series of images as well as sounds taken from Lipsett’s own work.
The film is written by Chris Robinson, the artistic director of the Ottawa International Animation Festival; this marks his first major involvement in the production of an animated film. LipsettDiaries.net has more background about Lipsett and the film, including a fascinating tidbit about the influence of Lipsett’s work on George Lucas and Star Wars. The film is in competition at Annecy this year, and something tells me it might be selected for Ottawa too.
Here’s the teaser for a godawful looking low-budget European co-production… waitasec…my bad…this is DreamWorks’s Megamind. By now, I’ve come to expect very little from DreamWorks product, but this one strikes me as being even blander and clumsier than their usual bland and clumsy style. It looks like a slapped together patchwork of CG cliches, so much so that in these clips the characters appear uncomfortably detached from their background environments. The strain of a three-films-a-year schedule is becoming painfully evident.
Yesterday, the Annecy International Animation Festival announced the selections for its 34th edition, which takes place June 7 through 12. This is a milestone year for the world’s oldest continuously running animation festival as it marks its fiftieth year of existence. The Annecy site has the complete list of selections for shorts, TV series, music videos and commercials. Feature film selections will be announced next month. Their site states that 48 animated features were submitted. Wow!
Of note: one of only two American films in the short film category is Let’s Pollute by Geefwee Boedoe, who designed the titles to Monsters Inc.. There’s a brief but intriguing Cartoon Modern-esque trailer on IMDB.
Also, in the graduation film category, I’m delighted to see that Jake Armstrong’s The Terrible Thing of Alpha-9! was accepted into competition. The film had its online debut on Cartoon Brew TV last year. It makes us feel good knowing that Brew TV shorts continue to excel at festivals after their online premieres. Similarly, another Brew TV premiere, David Sheahan’s Together! made it into Slamdance earlier this year. Great work guys!
A sketchbook-style piece (with many funny moments) from Malcolm Sutherland whose consistently original works are positioning him as one of Canada’s top indie animators. Description from his Vimeo page:
[The film] takes a look at people at a “La Fete Nationale” celebration in Montreal. The film was an independent production, directed and animated by Malcolm Sutherland with music by Kevin Kardasz, and was produced with financial assistance from The Conseil des arts et des lettres du Québec.
Tonight Comedy Central debuts a new animated series Ugly Americans. The show was created by New York animator Devin Clark. Here’s a short interview with him about how the show made the leap from a webseries into a TV show. The Flash-animated series was made at Augenblick Studios in Brooklyn and Cuppa Coffee in Toronto. If you’ve watched the show, please share your thoughts below.
I woke up this morning (this afternoon, to be honest) hating animation. Blame it on last night’s interminable ASIFA-East screening of uninspiring and insipid indie shorts. Only something truly beautiful could uplift my spirit and make me appreciate this art form again. Thankfully, I stumbled across Volgens de vogels (According to Birds), a 2008 graduation film by Linde Faas (b. 1985). Touches of Norstein throughout, and that’s not a bad thing.
In Swimming by Shiho Hirayama (b. 1979), a chubby boy’s imagination transforms an awkward swim class into a magical experience. This short really sneaks up on the viewer. It didn’t seem much at first glance but its simple honesty grew on me quickly and left a lasting impact. Charming character animation, a playful visualization of space and distance, and elegant sound design come together to make this one of the more memorable shorts in recent memory. There are more examples of Shiho’s animation on her website including a cute piece located on her “about me” page.
Beginning this Friday, a restored print of Joseph Losey’s film noir The Prowler plays for one week at the Film Forum in Manhattan. The film was co-scripted by blacklisted Hollywood Ten member Dalton Trumbo, photographed by three-time Oscar winner Arthur Miller, produced by Sam Spiegel (Lawrence of Arabia), and production designed by (get ready for this) John Hubley.
I asked a couple of the Hubley kids about this project recently and they told me that their dad actually worked on a number of live-action films and theatrical productions. John had earlier helped Losey with the design of an LA stage production of Bertolt Brecht’s Life of Galileo starring Charles Laughton. When Losey directed Prowler, he called on Hubley to explore the cinematic staging possibilities and push it beyond his own sensibilities, which were rooted in theater. Hubley was not the only Golden Age animation artist who worked in live-action. Just to name a few other examples, Ray Aragon storyboarded Norman Jewison’s In the Heat of the Night, Mary Blair did color design for How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying (directed by Disney animator David Swift), and Tyrus Wong worked for decades as a production designer at Warner Bros. It’s (yet another) area of animation history that is poorly documented and ripe for further research.
C.O.R.E. Digital Pictures, the Toronto-based CG/sfx house that produced Disney’s The Wild, shut down this afternoon. The studio has also provided animation for the features Valiant and Ant Bully, Chris Landreth’s short The Spine, and dozens of TV shows and features. Canadian Animation Resources has been following the story and reported that at 3pm this afternoon employees were called into a boardroom and told that the studio was closing. They were asked to pack their personal belongings and hit the road. As many as one hundred and fifty people may have lost their jobs, and many of them have not received their paychecks for their last few weeks of work. There is concern amongst employees about whether they will be paid. The studio was founded by Bob Munroe, John Mariella, Kyle Menzies and William Shatner (yes, that William Shatner).
This roto-heavy animated feature really slipped in under the radar. The first I heard of Mars was last week when it premiered at SXSW. The film, described as an interplanetary romantic comedy, is directed by Geoff Marslett, who is a teacher at University of Texas at Austin. Marslett described the production process in an indieWIRE interview:
Visually falling somewhere half way between “Sin City” and “Waking Life”…or half way between a graphic novel and a hand colored photograph. Basically we shot the actors in a green screen studio here in Austin. They were there, and had costumesâ€¦but no props or backgrounds–that stuff was all green boxes and walls. The footage of the actors themselves was rotoscoped using a hybrid of line drawing and image processing. We did the bulk of the color work on them by processing the actual colors from the live footage using a program that Tray Duncan and I developed based on my previous program. Then we added the major line details by hand before finishing the final shading work using another automated process. These characters were composited with environments and props that were a combination of hand drawn, 3D animation, and roto-ed over 3D work (all of those made from scratch).
The trailer for a feature-length documentary about the late, great American comedian Bill Hicks. The film, which makes generous use of animation techniques, had its North American premiere a couple days ago at SXSW.
This afternoon, Secret of Kells director Tomm Moore will do a Q&A following the 5pm screening of his film at the Village East Cinema in NY. Also, the distributor of the film, GKID, is launching a limited release of Secret of Kells around the US. When I saw Tomm in LA last week, he mentioned to me that he’ll be doing Q&As after the film in numerous cities. The film opens in Boston (Landmark Kendall Square) and Philadelphia (Landmark Ritz at the Bourse) on March 19, Washington DC (E Street Cinema), Chicago (Siskel Film Center) and San Francisco on April 2, Houston (Angelika) on April 9, and Denver (Starz FilmCenter) and Columbus, OH (Gateway Film Center) on April 16. More release dates will be announced on the Secret of Kells Facebook page.
If last weekend’s super successful New York opening of Kells is any indication, the film’s US release should do well. The show sold out all but one of its weekend shows. According to Movieweb, the film broke “the opening weekend box office record at New York’s IFC Center” and “propelled the IFC Center to its biggest single day and weekend grosses ever, as well as the best Friday and Saturday in the theater’s history. The Secret of Kells weekend gross of $39,826 was the best screen average of any film in the nation for the weekend of March 5-7.”