Spline Doctors, the animation education blog run by Pixar animators, offers up a new audio interview with Doug Sweetland, longtime Pixar animator and director of the studio’s latest short Presto. Part 1 is posted here; the second part is coming soon.
I don’t think I’ve ever been able to exactly pinpoint what it is that I so enjoy about the directing duo Smith & Foulkes (repped by Nexus Productions), but they seemingly turn out more top-notch spots than anybody else in the commercial game. Their latest spot for Coca-Cola, “East Meets West,” is yet another piece of CG that impresses the hell out of me, largely because every element of this piece is carefully considered and designed to work in unison. I especially love how the commercial’s ornate visual detail is contrasted with a limited animation style. This directorial restraint allows for the graphics to read with a crispness and elegance that is uncommon in the world of commercial CG. As far as Coke adverts go, it’s hard to ask for much more.
“White Winter Hymnal,” directed by Sean Pecknold, is a stop motion music video for Seattle-based Fleet Foxes. While I enjoy slickly crafted computer animation as much as the next person, there’s something especially refreshing nowadays about seeing a rough-around-the-edges piece of stop motion in which the artist’s hand can be felt in every frame.
Cartoon Brew went down last night. We’re happily back up and running this morning but still a bit buggy. We hope to be back to normal before day’s end. If the site looks fine, no need to comment, but if you’re experiencing any tech issues with the site, let us know in the comments and we’ll look into them. Thanks!
Studio AKA has released the trailer to Varmints, a followup to the 2004 BAFTA-winning short JoJo in the Stars. I’ve always loved the way that Marc Craste, the director of this short, uses CG to create worlds that are poetic and impressionistic.
Here’s a bit more about the film:
Adapted and directed by Marc Craste, Varmints is a 24-minute film based on the award-winning book of the same name by Helen Ward and illustrated by Craste, that tells the story of one small creature’s struggle to preserve a world in danger of being lost forever through recklessness and indifference. A crew of 35 people worked in three countries over a two year period to make the film, and an original score by Icelandic composer Johann Johannsson and sound design by Adrian Rhodes complete the picture.
Next Tuesday, July 22, indie filmmaker Brent Green is performing a FREE show of his animated shorts at the Hammer Museum in Westwood. I say “performing” because his mixed-media and stop-motion animated shorts are combined with live musical performance by Green and his backup band. I saw a show by Green last year and it’s an incredible experience that marries music and animation in ways that I hadn’t previously thought possible. Some of his films can be viewed online but the full effect really shines through during the live performance.
Expect a full body experience including live music, short films, and improvised narration–an evening spent on the verge of collapse with wobbly guitar, musical saw, banjo, fiddles, trumpets, accordion, drums and adamantly hand-made animations. Watch Brent Green’s films (Susa’s Red Ears, Hadacol Christmas, Paulina Hollers, Abe Lincoln, Carlin, Louisville/Gravity, and Walt Whitman’s Brain) accompanied by Brendan Canty of Fugazi, Jim Becker of Califone, Alan Scalpone of the Bitter Tears, Rodney McLaughlin, and Brent Green himself.
What does the little man on the emergency exit sign do when he’s not helping humans? “Signs of Life” is a witty animation installation created by Freddie Yauner that answers the question. Here is the explanation of how the interactive aspect of the project works.
Animator and eagle-eyed Brew reader Celia Bullwinkel spotted this faded sidewalk stencil graffiti of Mr. Magoo planting a bomb. The piece is in Greenwich Village. Are there more of these? Does anybody the story behind this image? Click on the image below for a larger version.
Jerry has posted a super-rare gem on YouTube: the 1965 short The Shooting of Dan McGrew directed by Ed Graham, Jr. I was so excited about seeing the film online that I asked him to let me post about it. When I first encountered this short about five years ago, the thing that popped out to me was the striking background color design of Walt Peregoy, who is most famously the color stylist of 101 Dalmatians. Unfortunately, this copy on YouTube doesn’t do justice to his color work and gives only a vague taste of what an actual print looks like.
The film was created in the spirit of earlier UPA shorts like The Unicorn in the Garden and The Tell-Tale Heart which adapted classic pieces of literature to the animation medium. In this case, the inspiration came from Robert Service’s poem of the same name.
In addition to Peregoy’s contributions, the film also has character designs by George Cannata, Jr. and background layout by UPA veteran Bob Dranko. The animation was directed by another younger design-oriented animator, George Singer, and the primary animators were Golden Age veterans Manny Gould and Amby Paliwoda. Also worth noting: the music is credited to jazz great George Shearing. This is his only animation score as far as I’m aware.
The Sixties was an interesting time for theatrical shorts in the US. As studio animation was dying out, many of the major studios offered independently-produced one-shots like this one, which was released by Universal. There are plenty of other Sixties one-shots that are currently owned by major studios and deserve to be made available to animation fans. These include two films by John and Faith Hubley that are owned by Paramount–A Windy Day and Oscar-winning Herb Alpert and the Tijuana Brass Double Feature–as well as Ernie Pintoff’s Oscar-winning The Critic, Ken Mundie’s The Door, Format Films’ Icarus Montgolfier Wright, and Chuck Menville and Len Janson’s Stop Look and Listen and Blaze Glory.
“Kaiserwetter” is a distinctive looking video for German musician Olli Schulz directed by Benjamin Leng of HickPix. Leng tells us, “I made the video together with illustrator Niklas Hughes in a six-week period, combining hand drawn backgrounds with computer animation in After Effects.”
Brooklyn’s homegrown cartoon festival Animation Block Party will return for its fifth edition from July 25-27. Over 100 animated shorts will screen during the three-day festival, chosen from 800 plus entries.The line-up of films and ticket info was officially announced today. If the event’s promotional materials (above) are any indicator, this is not to be confused with traditional festivals. It has an informal and indie spirit with plenty of opportunities for mingling and partying. I’ve heard positive things from everybody who has attended. Here are more details from their press release about the various festivities:
ABP opens on Friday July 25th at Rooftop Films, featuring live music from Plushgun, followed by a screening of ABP’s most fun and fan friendly cartoons. A party at Bar Matchless will follow ABP-Rooftop screenings with free beer from Radeberger.
ABP continues on Saturday July 26th at Bam Cinematek, with experimental works and music vids in Program One and a storytelling focus in Program Two. Screenings will be followed by an after party at Cherry Tree with free Newcastle courtesy of America’s Finest News Source, The Onion, Inc.
ABP closes on Sunday July 27th at Bam Cinematek, with top professional-independent works in Program Three and narrative local-international shorts in Program Four with an after party at Habana Outpost, featuring streaming toons, food specials and free beer courtesy of Autodesk.
Bonus Amid Geek-Note: The guy who did the drawing above is Doug Crane, who was the primary inker on the Terrytoons classics Flebus and The Juggler of Our Lady.
“Wall-E for President” is an op-ed column written by NY Times political commentator Frank Rich. In it, he implores everybody from John McCain to Barack Obama to see the film:
Mr. McCain should be required to see “Wall-E” to learn just how far adrift he is from an America whose economic fears cannot be remedied by his flip-flop embrace of the Bush tax cuts (for the wealthy) and his sham gas-tax holiday (for everyone else). Mr. Obama should see it to be reminded of just how bold his vision of change had been before he settled into a front-runner’s complacency. Americans should see it to appreciate just how much things are out of joint on an Independence Day when a cartoon robot evokes America’s patriotic ideals with more conviction than either of the men who would be president.