New York animator Simon Ampel created this well drawn and effective music video to support Iran’s increasingly bold student movement against its authoritarian regime. Ampel told me that he spent about two months working on it off and on. “I did all the animation in Tvpaint and colored it with Animo,” he said. “Backgrounds were painted by Micah Cohen, and the compositing and effects were done by Sean Theophil. The music is Fared Shafinury and Tehranosaurus.”
David Scheve’s lawyers at The Deep Archives sent us a DMCA takedown notice today demanding our webhost Webintellects remove the photo of him. The letter from his lawyers has been reprinted on the original post. (If you can help us out legally with the DMCA counter-notice, please contact us). In the comments of that post, director and story artist John Sanford recommended that we hold a caricature contest. Now, with the prospect of having to replace the picture of him with something else, we actually have a valid reason to do this.
So here’s the deal. Everybody is invited to draw their interpretation of David Scheve. Links to the images can be emailed to me here. Deadline is the end of Monday, February 15. I’ll choose an image that I like and send the winner a signed copy of one of my books (your choice): Cartoon Modern, The Art of Pixar Short Films or A Sketchy Past: The Art of Peter de Seve.
UPDATE: I’ve looked through all the entries and chosen David de Rooij from The Netherlands as the winner of the David Scheve Caricature Contest. There were a bunch more terrific entries and I’d love to share them, but I’ve decided to be nice and give David Scheve another chance to prove himself as a decent guy.
Following his falsely filed DMCA notice of copyright infringement, Cartoon Brew filed a counter-notification. For now, the photo of him can remain on this site. Should he choose to pursue further frivolous legal action forcing us to remove the photo, then I will have no choice but to replace his photo with David de Rooij’s drawing and share all of the other entries.
However, I’m hoping that he’s had a chance to study up on fair use laws and recognize that Cartoon Brew is fully within its legal rights to use his photo. Fair use “allows for limited use of copyrighted material without requiring permission from the rights holders, such as for commentary, criticism, news reporting, research, teaching or scholarship.” The ball is in his court now. If he’s willing to be an adult about the situation, so am I.
Promising debut film by Julia Deakin combining mixed media into a lush illustrative style. I especially liked the color choices. Animation is effective if not particularly adventurous. Music by The Hylozoists and Paul Aucoin.
The crowd-funding path for short filmmakers is finally gaining traction, and established animation filmmakers have begun experimenting with the concept. Throughout the years, various filmmakers have toyed with the idea of funding their films in this fashion, mostly by soliciting Paypal donations, but the gamechanger has been new websites that are dedicated solely to facilitating crowd-funded projects. The two most prominent sites being used by animators right now are IndieGoGo and Kickstarter. There is a difference between the sites: IndieGoGo’s fundraising period continues indefinitely, whereas Kickstarter has a 90-day fundraising period and if the artist doesn’t meet their monetary goal, all the money is returned to the donors.
Last month on Cartoon Brew, I linked for the first time to a crowd-funded project, The Future. Expect to see us doing a lot more of this; crowd-funding is a major development in how animated shorts will be made in the years to come. Right now, I anticipate the concept will work most successfully for filmmakers with a proven track record, like Nick Cross, who set up a page on IndieGoGo last week to fund his next short The Pig Farmer. That’s because Nick has already made numerous animated shorts over the past few years (The Waif of Persephone and Yellow Cake among them) and all of them without any outside funding. Backers of his project will feel confident that they are investing in a name brand who can get the job done.
There’s also the stop-motion short Line by Justin and Shel Wagner Rasch. They’re asking for $2500 and are already halfway there. The Raschs have two things working in their favor. First, they’ve already posted an animated clip from the film that gives funders a clear sense of the type of work they’re helping them produce:
Additionally, they’re offering unique perks for funders at different levels, including actual puppets used in the film and a chance to attend the music recording sessions. As crowd-funding takes off, it’ll be fun to see the creative goodies that different filmmakers will offer their fans.
Sites like IndieGogo and Kickstarter are already filled with amateur looking projects whose creators are asking for tens of thousands of dollars. Most of those projects understandably have raised only a few bucks at most. On the other hand, I think it bears pointing out that the Raschs and Cross are obviously spending more money on their films than they’re asking for. At this nascent stage, modesty isn’t a bad plan. Crowd-funding is in its infancy, a natural by-product of the growing intimacy between artists and their audience. The most successful filmmakers of the future will be those who grasp the increasingly intertwined relationship between creator and consumer, and recognize how best to take advantage of this new connectedness.
Addendum: After I wrote this piece yesterday, I caught up with my blog reader and noticed that Aaron Simpson at Cold Hard Flash has also written a piece about crowd-funding. It appears that we were both spurred to action by the news of Nick Cross’s project, and we mention a few of the same projects. Aaron doesn’t appear to view this with quite the same perspective as I do though. He writes that, “This method seems like no more than a sophisticated version of the ol’ Paypal ‘donate’ button.” While it’s certainly true that filmmakers have tried soliciting funding like this before, the idea has never taken off in a widespread way because of the lack of a standardized process. Sites like IndieGoGo and KickStarters aim to do for film funding what YouTube did for online video: standardize the process, and this will eventually lead to the normalization of viewers directly sponsoring the content they want to see. That’s a great thing for both creators and consumers.
Truth be told, I’d never heard of Al Jarnow prior to learning about this screening, but I’m curious to see more of his work now. He did a lot of work for educational programs like Sesame Street and 3-2-1 Contact, as well as his own work. From a press release about his work: “Al Jarnow captured life’s scientific minutia and boiled it down for easy consumption between cookie eating monsters and counting vampires. Coupling time-lapse, stop motion, and cel animation with simple objects found in every day life, Jarnow deconstructed the world for an entire generation.
This Friday, February 12, there will be two screenings of his work at 92Y Tribeca (200 Hudson Street) at 7pm and 9pm. Both screenings are the same (sixty minutes of his films and a thirty-minute documentary about his creative process). Jarnow will do a Q&A after the 7pm screening and introduce the 9pm screening. Tickets can be purchased at the 92Y website. Additional screenings of his work will take place in Chicago on February 19 and 20th at the Gene Siskel Film Center. They will begin at 8pm each evening.
If you can’t make the screenings, a dvd of his work, Celestial Navigations, is being released later this month with 45 of his films, the documentary about his work, and a 60-page booklet. It’s a reasonable $25 at the Numero Group website.
(Thanks, Heather Harkins and Greg Condon)
Photo of David Scheve found on his public Facebook profile
I’ve never had to write something like this before because I’ve never had a consumer experience quite as awful as this. I hope to prevent others from suffering what I had to go through with animation art retailer The Deep Archives and its owner David Scheve.
The story begins last August when I stumbled upon this piece on their website:
It was listed in the NY animation category, but it is obviously a Tom Oreb model sheet for an Ipana Toothpaste commercial produced in Disney’s short-lived TV commercial unit. I’m familiar with the disreputable tactics of some animation art dealers who pass off copies as original art so I sent The Deep Archives an email asking point-blank:
It says original art so is it correct that it is not a photostat? Can you please let me know what media the piece was made with? Is the grey background the color of the paper or is it paint?
The response I got back was:
Thanks for the email.
The piece is original. The Grey is paint.
With that assurance, I Paypaled David Scheve the amount of $270, which was the price of the piece plus shipping. A couple of weeks later I received a package in the mail. With great anticipation and utmost carefulness, I opened the package. Now this should be the happy part of the story where I end up with an original piece of art by one of my favorite animation artists. Except for one small detail. The piece I received in the mail was a photostat.
I emailed him and told him I was shocked about how misleading he’d been. “There is not a single bit of paint in this entire piece,” I wrote. “It’s a copy of paint.” At first Scheve denied it outright and wrote back, “Amid, the piece is an original gouche (sic) painting. We don’t sell stats.” He finally relented and told me to send back the photostat for a full refund.
I sent it back to him via certified mail and he received it in mid-September 2009. It turns out that refunding my money–a not-insignificant sum of $270–wasn’t a priority for him. I let the oversight slide for a couple months, but in late-November I began calling and emailing him regularly to remind him that he owed me money. I even had to threaten a small claims suit if he didn’t return it by a certain date. The money finally arrived in January 2010.
Besides the obvious disappointment and anger about Scheve’s misrepresentation of the artwork, there are other things that bother me about the experience:
1.) As of this writing, over five months after he learned it was not an original piece of art, the piece is available for sale on The Deep Archives website in the “1950s/1960s NY” category. It is still labeled as “Original Animation Art” and the price remains unchanged. It saddens me to think that an inexperienced collector might fall prey to this listing and buy a fake piece of “original art.”
2.) Late last December, when I called David again asking him to refund my money, he screamed at me so violently and unexpectedly over the phone that it caused my ears to ring afterward. His unprofessionalism was such that after twenty seconds of conversation, all of it polite and courteous from my end, he yelled, “Amid, listen, I’m going to hang up on you in two seconds,” which he then proceeded to do.
3.) His lackadaisical attitude about refunding my money and how he stringed me along for months with his games. On September 25th he wrote, “Your refund will be processed and sent first thing MONDAY.” Not true. On November 28th he wrote, “I will be in on Monday, let me see what is going on.” He didn’t respond until I called him again. On December 8th he wrote, “I having (sic) trouble tracking down the initial payment paper work, can you tell me what day you sent it, so I can go back and refund it correctly.” So before he would return my money, months late mind you, he put the burden on me to provide his gallery with information. It went on and on like this.
Needless to say, I will never again be dealing with him, and I will urge everybody I know to exercise extreme caution should they choose to do business with him. There are plenty of reputable art dealers around. Unfortunately, it’s guys like David Scheve and his company The Deep Archives who continue to perpetuate the image of animation art dealers as slimy scumbags.
UPDATE 10:11am PT: One bit of good news. Since I posted the story today, the photostat of Ipana artwork is no longer listed as “Original Animation Art.” In fact, the listing has been removed entirely from their website.
UPDATE 1:44pm PT: David Scheve and his “friends” have been attempting to post inflammatory comments on the site for the past couple hours. One person, “Jaru Kempter,” who identified himself as a friend of David, has so far referred to me as “mad,” “bitchy,” and said, “It’s clear you’re a woman scorned.” It helps to know somebody’s gender before resorting to sexist remarks.
Scheve’s own comments have the audacity to pin the blame on me. He wrote, “As for AMID’s false claims; yes, he purchased a piece that turned out to be something OTHER than what it was thought to be. He was asked to return it for a full refund. He took forever to do so, which complicated the matter with paypal.”
For the record, I payed him via Paypal on August 14, 2009. I received the piece on August 22, 2009. When I sent it back, the post office attempted a certified mail delivery on September 11, 2009. It was less than a month from when I paid to the time the photostat was returned to his possession so it clearly did not take “forever to do so.” Scheve also claims that we are deleting positive comments from the site. That is most definitely not the case. The only ones we have deleted are the multiple insulting posts by the aforementioned “Jaru Kempter.”
UPDATE FEB. 10, 2:44pm PT: After this post yesterday, my lovely friend David Scheve put up a message on The Deep Archives website calling me a coward. He has since taken it down but I made a screengrab:
Below, in its entirety, is the post he wrote on Cartoon Brew which explains why he’s innocent and why I’m the real villain. The earlier update already breaks down the fallacies in his statement:
David from TheDeepArchives here and for the record we take what we do here at TheDeepArchives very seriously. As for AMID’s false claims; yes, he purchased a piece that turned out to be something OTHER than what it was thought to be. He was asked to return it for a full refund. He took forever to do so, which complicated the matter with paypal. As for Tom Warburton’s comments; I was INVITED at the last minute to the auction by an SPVA instructor. I was never given any such catalogue. The small staff here at TheDeepArchives doesn’t spend it’s time just acquiring new artwork. TheDeepArchives spends a great deal of time and effort promoting the Animator as an individual artist, rather than just a cog in the studio machine. The majority of the money raised in the gallery goes right back into the animation field in a variety of waysâ€¦. including restoration, preservation, museum exhibits, screening and new animated projects. We are probably the only gallery you’ll find that doesn’t pump those overpriced, mass produced limited edition animation “art” pieces into the market place. If Amid had wanted to write a serious piece to express his concerns he would have done just that, instead he used a COMICAL PICTURE he took of the internet to vent his misplace agressionâ€¦.I think his TRUE intention more than speaks for itself, and I find it dishearting how quick people are to jump on a onesided bandwagon. A number of people who’ve purchased from us AND read the blog; posted their favorable replies, called to say they found it odd how their more positive comments were removed.
UPDATE FEB. 12, 1:44pm PT: David Scheve sent our webhost, Webintellects, a DMCA Notification of Infringement about the photograph of him that we’re using at the top of the page. The image clearly falls under “fair use,” which is the doctrine in United States copyright law that allows limited use of copyrighted material without requiring permission from the rights holders, such as for commentary, criticism, news reporting, research, teaching or scholarship. If you are a lawyer who can help Cartoon Brew keep this image on the site, please get in touch with us through the masthead at the top of this site. Below is the message we got from Scheve’s lawyers.
February 12, 2010
TDA TheDeepArchives, Inc.
WebIntellects registrant, CartoonBrew.com, has pirated and then published an image owned by David Scheve.
At this time we require immediate action taken for removal of the image from the WebIntellects server.
Dear Sir or Madam:
I am writing to inform you that your registrant, cartoonbrew.com, has pirated and published an image owned by David Scheve. I have a good faith belief that use of the copyrighted materials described above on the allegedly infringing webpages is not authorized by the copyright owner, its agent, or the law. At this time we require immediate removal of the image from the Webintellects server.
As pursuant to WebIntellects TOS and the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA), TheDeepArchives is fully within our right to inform WebIntellects of Copyright infringement against David Scheve.
You’ll find the image taken from Scheve being unlawfully used on the website “http://www.cartoonbrew.com/ideas-commentary/beware-the-deep-archives-and-david-scheve.html#comment-442234 is a self-portrait, naturally taken by Scheve. Mr. Scheve holds all rights to this image.
Within our legal right, we do recognize that the host server, WebIntellects, is also liable for any damages stemming from this infringement, or non-compliance for removal of said infringement.
Please proceed accordingly.
Under penalty of perjury: I am an authorized agent acting on behalf of Mr. Scheve. Under penalty of perjury consistent with United States Code Title 17, Section 512, that the information in the notification is accurate and that I am the copyright owner or am authorized to act on behalf of the owner of an exclusive right that is allegedly infringed.
cc. Jean Nicolosi, Esq.
Mary Blair, Richard Scarry, Fyodor Khitruk’s Winnie the Pooh, and anime-styled cuteness are all mashed together in this colorful trailer for Mouk, an upcoming TV series produced by French studio Millimages. It’s based on illustrator Marc Boutavant‘s book Around the World with Mouk. Sixty-two eleven-minute episodes and thirty one-minute shorts for web/mobile are currently in production.
(Thanks, Philippe Bercovici)
‘Milton Glaser v. Magma Taishi’ is Craig McCracken’s tribute to Osamu Tezuka and graphic designer Milton Glaser, who created the Sixties poster of Bob Dylan upon which this image is based. It’s available as a print and T-shirt during the month of February at NakatomiInc.com.
Disney artists recently designed five Disney-themed string basses for a charity auction. The pieces look pretty slick. They’ll be displayed around the US before they’re auctioned this summer as a benefit for the Grammy In The Schools music education program. Photos of all of them can be seen in this article at BlogDowntown.com.
(Thanks, Erik Wiese)
Patricia Zohn writes about Disney’s ink-and-paint girls in this month’s Vanity Fair. She started researching the topic after speaking to her aunt, Rae Medby McSpadden, a former ink-and-paint artist. Most of the facts will be familiar to animation history buffs, but it’s a well-written slice-of-life piece that adds color to the bygone days:
During Snow White, it was not at all unusual to see the “girls”–as Walt paternalistically referred to them–thin and exhausted, collapsed on the lawn, in the ladies’ lounge, or even under their desks. “I’ll be so thankful when Snow White is finished and I can live like a human once again,” Rae wrote after she recorded 85 hours in a week. “We would work like little slaves and everybody would go to sleep wherever they were,” said inker Jeanne Lee Keil, one of two left-handers in the department who had to learn everything backward. “I saw the moon rise, sun rise, moon rise, sun rise.” Painter Grace Godino, who would go on to become Rita Hayworth’s studio double, also remembered the long days merging into nights: “When I’d take my clothes off, I’d be in the closet, and I couldn’t figure it out: am I going to sleep or am I getting up?”
I’ve often heard people complain that there’s no money to be made in the animation business. That’s not exactly true. It’s just that the money usually doesn’t filter down to the people who actually create the art. Case in point, the NY Post reported that the Manhattan apartment of Bernie Madoff was recently purchased by Al Kahn of 4Kids Entertainment, which is the licensee of Pokémon and Yu-Gi-Oh!:
The millionaire “marketing genius” behind the Pokemon and the Cabbage Patch Kids toy crazes inked a deal to buy Ponzi King Bernie Madoff’s posh penthouse apartment on the Upper East Side, sources said. Al Kahn, CEO of 4Kids Entertainment, signed a contract to buy the 4,000-square-foot home, which was put up for sale by the feds to help recoup cash for the victims of Madoff’s $65 billion scam. The apartment, at Lexington Avenue and East 64th Street, was recently listed at $8.9 million, $1 million less than the original asking price. While the actual sale price is not known, sources said the pad — a three-bedroom, four-bath duplex with a wrap-around terrace — went for just under the asking price in the deal brokered by the Corcoran Group.
That’s nothing though compared to DreamWorks’ Jeffrey Katzenberg, a more admirably creative exec, who plunked down $35 mil for new digs according to The Wall Street Journal:
Media mogul Jeffrey Katzenberg has paid $35 million for a house in Beverly Hills, CA. . . The six-acre property, which was never on the market, sits just above the Greystone Mansion, a Beverly Hills landmark. A long private drive leads to a house on a promontory. Mr. Katzenberg had been shopping for a large property with a view for several years. The home belonged to aerospace pioneer Simon “Si” Ramo, who was instrumental in the development of the intercontinental ballistic missile and co-founded TRW, which was acquired by Northrop Grumman. Mr. Katzenberg, who bought the property under the name of a trust, declined to comment.
The push back against realism in computer animation continues with Pivot, a striking and confident CG short from The Netherlands. It’s designed and animated by Kevin Megens, Floris Vos, Arno de Grijs, and André Bergs. The caricatured animation and design-oriented approach to filmmaking is packed with clever visual ideas, which helps one forgive the lack of originality in the story. Sound design by Alex Debicki also adds to the overall effect. Pre-production art and more information about the filmmakers at PivotTheMovie.com.
(Thanks, Charles H.)
One of the most fulfilling aspects of blogging on Cartoon Brew is every so often discovering the young filmmaker who loves to experiment with the medium and isn’t bound by conventional notions of animation filmmaking. I’d venture to say that Dundee, Scotland-based Graeme Hawkins is one of these chaps. Witness the breadth of his approach to the art form by visiting Retchy.com, which is filled with all kinds of fun animated experiments including 3D zoetropes, projection mapping and VJing, along with generous descriptions of his processes and techniques. He also worked as a digital artist on Sylvain Chomet’s new film The Illusionist.
Below is his thesis film, 5, which is “an exploration of childhood memories, combining scientific theory, the wandering mind of a child, and largely abstract sound design to hopefully evoke feelings of nostalgia, familiarity and comfort.” I was impressed by the blend of sophisticated visuals, surprising transitions, and sharp sound design, but if you want to read into it further, Graeme explains on his website that the film has something to do with Richard Feynman and Richard Dawkins.
Here’s another quickie film of his I enjoyed–McDonalds on the Brain:
Zé BrandÃ£o, who runs Copa Studio in Rio de Janeiro, sent me this cute TV series pilot he made as a co-production with two Brazilian public broadcasters (TV Brasil and TV Cultura). It’s impressive to see the rising quality of children’s animation being produced in all corners of the globe. Countries with developing animation scenes, like Brazil and India, are proving that they can produce shows that are virtually indistinguishable in quality from the work coming out of more experienced animation-producing countries. As they increase their production capacities, more TV animation production will shift to affordable countries like Brazil which barely had an animation industry a decade ago. Which begs the question, if decent animation can be produced anywhere in the world at low cost, will this force animation producers in the US and Europe to raise the bar on their work or will they simply throw in the towel? It’ll be interesting to see what happens.
Scribble Junkies, the new commentary blog by animators Bill Plympton and Pat Smith, is heating up. Yesterday, Bill posted about why he thinks the “Pink Elephants on Parade” sequence in Dumbo is the “weakest point” of the film. Today, Pat followed up with an entry about why that sequence is “the single most influential piece of animation” that he’s seen. It’s fun seeing two solid animators duke it out over a classic piece of animation that we normally take for granted.