An evocative and spare exercise in computer animation by David OReilly and Jon Klassen, who previously collaborated on the U2 music video “I’ll Go Crazy If I Don’t Go Crazy Tonight”. The video is intended to be viewed as a loop, and contains a ‘making of’ portion at the end. It’s a revelation seeing how elegantly Klassen’s design-heavy illustrations work can be translated into CG imagery. I’d love to see these guys collaborate on something more substantial in this style.
A documentary by Marine Lormant Sebag about Nina Paley’s struggle with copyright while making Sita Sings the Blues. It’s difficult to meaningfully address copyright and public domain issues in such a brief piece, but I appreciate the film’s intimate look at the issue from the perspective of an individual artist who has to deal with the system. Bill Plympton also makes an appearance in the film.
Rob Bohn of The Amigo Unit says:
I taught animation at a summer camp for the 92nd St Y this past summer. One of the lessons was drawing characters and exploring the developing process. For my examples I had the kids (ages 5-11) draw some well known figures to get the hang of it and warm up. Many of the kids enjoyed the process but some did not. Many of them crumpled the paper, ripped it up, threw it out, etc. Well, I couldnt let them go to waste – I fetched them out of the trash, collected them, and compiled them into sequences.
A lot of the designs by the kids are absolutely fantastic!
An animated short directed by Sam Stephens from Humble‘s in-house directing collaborative Hydra. The film combines photography of decomposing fruit with CG characters on top. In the words of the filmmaker, Homunculus is:
a dark and twisted fable of spontaneous generation and untrammeled id. Taking its title from the Latin word for “Little Human”, the piece is an associative mashup between the two concepts behind the word: The first being middle-age alchemical beliefs that “little men” could be spontaneous generated from dead or decaying matter. The second being Carl Jung’s usage as a personification of pure id. These ideas, combined with our love of Dutch still life’s “beautiful decay,” sowed the seeds for this unique little monster of a film.
(Thanks, Mike Johnson)
The story of a British grandma who decided to get surgery to look like Jessica Rabbit. “You only live once,” she said. “Do what makes you feel good.” I’m guessing that’s the same rationale the talk show host had when he touched this woman’s chin implant.
I’m curious to hear about what animation studios are doing to aid those in Haiti? I know DreamWorks is matching contributions from employees dollar for dollar. Good on them. Please report in the comments what your studios are doing to help out.
The country of Georgia now has a homegrown yellow cartoon family of their own–The Samsonadzes. If the clip above doesn’t convince you of the inspiration for these characters, check out the animated opening at the beginning of this video in the Guardian. The creator of the series, Shalva Ramishvili, says in that video:
I want to say it straight–this is not The Simpsons. This is The Samsonadzes. This is all about a Georgian family, with Georgian jokes, Georgian plot, with Georgian developments, and with Georgian social humor. The fact that it is about a family rings a bell for people and there is a certain resemblance in the family name of course. And I would be proud if anyone compared this series with The Simpsons…
(Thanks, Mike Grimshaw)
A video in which Jim explains that, “the thing that people need to keep very strongly in mind is that this is not an animated film.” So just to recap: yes, Avatar has 100% digitally animated characters in it; no, it’s not animation; why, because Cameron says so.
Regardless of how Cameron and Fox want to frame their marketing campaign for the film, I have little doubt that Avatar will be viewed by history as an animated feature, right there along with Zemeckis’s mo-cap works. Granted, none of these are particularly exemplary examples of animated films, but they do represent the beginning of a new animated technique. (It is a testament to how rapidly animation is evolving as an art that we can no longer even identify what is an animated technique.)
It’s important to stress that, as photography didn’t replace painting and drawing, performance capture won’t replace hand-drawn, traditional CGI (as practiced by the likes of Pixar and DreamWorks), stop-motion, pixilation or anything else. In fact, if we look at how the advent of photography pushed painting in a more expressionistic and abstract direction, perhaps the same will happen in animation. Traditional CGI clearly can’t compete with performance capture in terms of realism, so now computer animation can begin to move away from its preoccupation with slavish recreations of fur, hair and motion and mature in a more abstract and impressionistic direction. In any case, performance capture is here to stay and it is now one more tool in the animator’s ever-widening arsenal. I look forward to seeing more experimental uses of it as the technology evolves and artists aspire to use it in more creatively challenging ways.
(via Mark Mayerson)
This is a 1985 student film directed by Chris Wedge, who, of course, went on to become the creative head of Blue Sky and direct Ice Age. To give it a bit of historical context, it falls between The Adventures of André and Wally B. and Luxo Jr. From the YouTube description: “Though visually sparse, the film marks a significant turning point in computer animation, both for eschewing the usual chrome-and-perfect-geometric-shapes of the era, and for extensively applying traditional animation techniques — follow-through, squash-and-stretch, etc.”
The video is part of the Vintage CG Channel on YouTube which is filled with rare examples of early computer animation. It’s still hard to wrap my head around just how far CGI has advanced in a few decades.
I saw Ian Miller’s one-minute short last year at the Ottawa International Animation Festival, when I was a member of the festival’s three-person short film jury. We gave it an honorable mention for the undergraduate animation category (it was created at UArts in Philly). Looking at it again, I remain impressed by the insane amount of graphic inventiveness that Ian fits into every frame of his animation. There is nothing cliche about the way anything moves in this film. The ideas flow straight out of Ian’s twisted mind onto the screen, and it’s loads of fun to watch.
(Thanks, Brian Lonano, for the link)
Character designer and story artist David Colman (who is also the author of The Art of Animal Character Design) will be holding a weekend animal drawing workshop on January 30-31st. The LA-area classes take place at the Page Museum and Los Angeles Zoo between 10am-4pm each day. The class description:
Learn anatomy, gesture, and construction. Gain the tools needed to become proficient at the art of animal drawing, especially how to study from life. The class will consist of numerous handouts, accompanied with demonstrations and 1-on-1 instruction. First day is a six-hour course spent studying bones and skeletal structure @ the La Brea Tarpits in which you will learn the basic inner structure of quadrupeds. David will be doing a one hour demo study of one of the skeletons. The second day will be six hours spent @ the LA Zoo in which you will be studying about five different animals throughout the day.
The two-day workshop is $200, but Cartoon Brew readers who mention our site when signing up will receive $25 off. You can register either by email – dcolman27 (at) hotmail (dot) com – or by phone (818-512-6255). Cash, check or charge accepted. Students will be responsible for admission to the Page Museum and LA Zoo.
“It’s not even a contest,” was the response an unnamed Disney exec gave the NY Times when asked to comment on Fantastic Mr. Fox‘s Oscar chances against Up. Despite the swagger that some Disney folks apparently have, the Times warns that Disney and Pixar shouldn’t break out the bubbly just yet:
In a mid-December surprise, both the New York Film Critics Circle and the Los Angeles Film Critics Association named “Fantastic Mr. Fox” the best animated movie of 2009. Similar awards from five other critics’ groups followed.
Fantastic Mr. Fox and Up are both nominated for this weekend’s Golden Globe Award, along with Coraline, Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs and The Princess and the Frog. Since initiating a Best Animated Feature Film category in 2007, the Golden Globes have given the award to Pixar every year (Cars, Ratatouille, WALLâ€¢E). We’ll find out in a few days whether Pixar can make it four-in-a-row at the Globes.
This is the trailer for Tussilago, the latest short by Swedish director Jonas Odell. Story doesn’t sound like typical fare: “In 1977 West German terrorist Norbert KrÃ¶cher was arrested for having planned to kidnap the Swedish politician Anna-Great Leijon. Among the people arrested during the following raids was KrÃ¶cher’s former girlfriend ‘A.’ This is her story.”
Stylistically, it builds on Odell’s prior two shorts–Lies and Never Like the First Time!–which were biographical narratives combining an artistic use of rotoscope and live-actors with motion graphic embellishments. Tussilago debuts the end of this month at the GÃ¶teborg International Film Festival and will screen at the Berlin International Film Festival next month. Other festivals will undoubtedly follow. On a related note, Revolver, a beloved early short that Odell co-directed, can be seen in its entirety on the Filmtecknarna website.
Kayla Stewart in front of her burned-out home. The caption from the Spokesman-Review says that Stewart is wearing her mother’s thirty-year-old coat.
Veteran feature animator Chad Stewart (Cats Don’t Dance, The Pagemaster, Surf’s Up, Open Season, The Polar Express, Fantasia/2000, Tarzan, The Emperor’s New Groove) lost his home in an electrical fire last Sunday while his family was attending church. The Spokesman-Review has the sad details. What makes the situation particularly tragic is that Chad and his wife, Kayla, have eight kids–four birth daughters and four adopted biological brothers from Liberia. A friend of Chad tells me that, “After sixteen years working the studios down in LA, Chad wanted to spend more time with his family and made the move to Washington, where he began freelancing full-time.” The family is currently looking for a nearby home to rent and acquire replacement clothing and furnishings while they rebuild their burned-out home.
A charitable fund has been established and donations can be sent to either of these two places to help the Stewarts get back on their feet:
Northview Bible Church
13521 N. Mill Road
Spokane, WA 99208
12120 N. Division St.
Spokane, WA 99218
Hulu’s library of animated TV shows, shorts and features is growing more impressive by the week. Hulu’s content includes current series (The Simpsons, Family Guy), anime (One Piece, Inuyasha), animated shorts (the Koji Yamamura library, Pink Panther, Ant and the Aardvark, Tijuana Toads), features (American Pop, The Secret of NIMH), and old TV series (Stressed Eric, Rocky and Bullwinkle, Fat Albert, Drawn Together, He-Man). Hulu isn’t perfect–most of their content is geo-targeted for specific territories, some of the animation is only available for limited periods of time, and the videos have embedded advertising (though the percentage of ads relative to content isn’t unbearable). But even with these issues, it’s a small price to pay for the opportunity to program your personal ‘cartoon network.’ Here’s to hoping that Hulu continues to emphasize animation amongst their other offerings.
Here’s an example of what can be found on Hulu–Koji Yamamura’s Kid’s Castle:
(Thanks, Max Porter)