Below is the pencil test to the trailer of Richard Williams’ Animator’s Survival Kit dvd lecture series. More details to be posted soon at TheAnimatorsSurvivalKit.com.
(Thanks, Holly Williams)
Effective paper doll concept and fine execution in this series of South American ads for Rexona Skin Care. One of the spots can be viewed below, the rest can be seen at Coloribus.com. The agency repsonsible is Buenos Aires-based Vegaolmosponce, while the animation was created by Passion Pictures.
The MoCCA Art Festival is coming up this weekend in Manhattan. I’ve heard only good things about the event; it’s been described to me as kind of like a mini-San Diego Comic-Con, comprised entirely of people who are serious and appreciative of the comic art form. In other words, no sword play or collectible card games at this convention.
Many animation folk will be present at MoCCA: Chris McDonnell will be at the Meathaus table promoting the new book he created about Ralph Bakshi, various Blue Sky artists will be there to launch the new volume of Out of Picture, and other artists like Mo Willems, Bill Plympton and JJ Sedelmaier will be presenting projects at various booths. Also, on Saturday, Plympton will receive the 2008 MoCCA Art Festival Award, and on Sunday the festival will present a program of contemporary Nordic animation. Complete exhibitor list and programming guide can be found on the MoCCA website.
This is an honest, if not particularly funny, bit from the MTV Movie Awards about the desperation in Hollywood for finding new and unique ways to promote movies online. Just remember the key word: viral.
Animation contests are not a popular subject around the Brew, but this one sounds intriguing enough to mention. MTV is currently recruiting animators, designers and filmmakers from around the world to participate in a show called Engine Room, in which four teams (Europe, the US, Asia and Latin America) compete for a chance to win $400,000 in cash plus lots of tech gear from Hewlett-Packard. The contest was described to me by an MTV producer as “a design/animation-based reality show.” The show is casting through the end of June, and will be filmed for four weeks beginning in mid-July.
Here’s a bit more description from the materials he sent me:
Each team will be made up of four members with one or more of the following talents: graphics and web design, animation, filmmaking, and sound mixing. Each team member will need to make sure they’re making the most of their unique talents if their designs are going to stand up to criticism from our panel of experts.
The Engine Room is a unique opportunity for talented creatives to compete in a high pressure, highly creative environment — and the prize will give the winners a massive head start in their professional lives.
As sponsors of the show, Hewlett Packard are there to ensure that the stars are working on top of the best hardware they’ve got to offer, with a selection of cutting edge design packages.
MTV channels will be screening Engine Room on-air and online across the world this autumn, but this is so much more than a reality show. This is the perfect opportunity for young talent to shine.
I’d mistakenly posted earlier that they’re only looking for Europeans, but there are slots open for all regions. To submit a portfolio or for additional details, visit MTVEngineRoom.com or email engineroom [at] mtvne.com.
Nothing is going to deter me from going to see a film about wacky animals who engage in martial arts, not even this video from the Kung Fu Panda movie premiere.
Restored prints of Tender Game and The Adventures of * on the MoMA bigscreen tonight. More here.
If you want to do a little drawing at the Annecy animation festival, take note that Flight artists Bannister and Dik Pose are hosting the first-ever Sketchcrawl drawing jam during the festival next week. The event is planned for Thursday, June 12, beginning at 2pm. Full details can be found on the Flight Comics blog. The drawing at top of this post is by Matt Jones, who held a personal Sketchcrawl at last year’s festival.
In yesterday’s NY Times there was a lengthy article about how things are going at Disney two years after its merger with Pixar. The Times’ opinion? Things are going pretty damn well. For anybody who has been following the companies closely, as I’m sure many Brew readers have, the Times piece offers little in the way of new information or insights, but it serves as a fairly good overview of what’s been happening during the past couple years.
There will be, I’m sure, the standard complaints of Lasseter and Co.’s continuation of Disney animation outsourcing and direct-to-video sequel productions, but perhaps the question should be asked, Was anybody so naive as to believe that either of these practices would come to a screeching halt when Pixar took over? The Disney corporation is far too big a machine to fuel itself solely on artistic integrity. The hope should rather be that Lasseter can balance the inevitable corporate shilling with enough artistic experimentation and new ideas to keep the Disney brand relevant in today’s entertainment world.
The jury is still out on whether he’ll be able to accomplish that at Disney. The studio’s first two Lasseter-era projects are questionable: a labored bid to repeat past glories (The Princess and the Frog) and a homely-looking deal with a dog and hamster. On the other hand, Pixar’s direction has never been more clear or promising. Pete Docter’s Up, the next feature from Emeryville following Wall-E, had me hooked from the very first image (posted at top). The film features an unlikely lead character, a stubby cane-wielding 78-year-old man, who travels the world by attaching helium-filled balloons to his house. It sounds like one of the most unconventional and interesting mainstream cartoon features in a long while.
Honestly, I believe that there’s too much baggage at Disney–in the form of Walt Disney and the legacy that he created–to allow for the Disney animators of today to produce anything of artistic merit. The studio is spinning its tires in Walt’s legacy, mired with the responsibility of maintaining the “integrity” of the Disney brand and simultaneously stunted with the fear of creating works that are “unDisney.” Disney, when it was actually run by Disney, defined the quality and innovation possible in the art form. That ship sailed over forty years ago and frankly, it’s time to get over it. The studio has been running on fumes for the better part of two decades, and coloring a princess a darker hue won’t alter a single thing, save for adding a few dollars to the value of shareholders’ stocks.
In tying the knot with Pixar, however, Disney can finally have its cake and eat it too. The Pixar brand is still young and malleable; it can be molded in wholly new creative directions like those of Wall-E and Up. Disney proper can continue exploiting its vast catalog of classics (bring on the Tinkerbell features) and perhaps add an occasional new character to the Disney patch (everybody loves a wacky hamster), while Pixar indulges in the risk-taking and innovation that is vital to the studio’s long-term health and reputation. It’s a shrewd bit of maneuvering, whether intended or not, for which Iger deserves a lot of credit. By purchasing Pixar, he assures that at least one part of Disney can live up to the company’s reputation for pushing the art of animation forward.
Parents of children beware: it seems that Cartoon Network, in its middle age, has developed a fascination with young boys. A recent article in Variety, describing the new direction of network, sounds off the alarms with the headline “Cartoon Network Eyes Young Males.” In it, various Cartoon Net execs try to justify their new perversion by explaining that the network “has a strength with boys” and that they want to rebuild themselves as “the home for boys.”
Most disturbingly, the writer of the article warns that Cartoon Network has “set their sights on male teens and tweens” and plans to have boys’ action shows “up the wazoo.” After years of masquerading around as a network that offered cartoons to viewers of all ages and genders, they’ve finally succumbed to their true feelings and revealed plans to seduce young boys exclusively into watching their channel with enticing boy candy like Ben 10, Batman: The Brave and the Bold, and Star Wars: The Clone Wars. Remember, the next time you see Cartoon Network lurking around a school playground, it may not be as innocent as it looks. They like young boys now.
This video from 1980 is not what you think. It’s a game of volleyball played between the Disney execs and animation artists of the time, including Chris Buck, Tim Burton, Mike Gabriel and Darrell van Citters. Video was shot by animator Randy Cartwright and the play-by-play is by John Musker, whose contempt for Disney management of the time is barely restrained. This line by Musker had me chuckling: “Ron Miller tries to save it and the ball bounces off his head. The rest is self explanatory.” It’s a delightful piece of cartoon history.
(via Blackwing Diaries)
If there’s one CAN’T MISS animation program in New York this summer, it’s the screening coming up this Monday, June 2, at MoMA: “A Marriage Made in Heaven: Animated Jazz Shorts from The Hubley Studio.”
The screening has two of my favorite shorts directed by John Hubley and made in collaboration with his wife Faith: The Adventures of * (1957) and Tender Game (1958). Even better, these are both newly restored prints. Every print of Tender Game I’ve ever seen has been faded and muddy. The opportunity to see restored versions of these classic films on the bigscreen is truly something to be excited about and I can’t wait to check them out. The program is 100 minutes long so expect plenty of other shorts on the program as well. It’ll be introduced by the daughter of the Hubleys, filmmaker Emily Hubley, along with jazz scholar and author Ed Berger.
As a bonus, in the theater lobby at MoMA there’s currently a mini-exhibit of John Hubley’s artwork from Adventures of *. (Michael Sporn offers extensive photos from the exhibit posted on his blog). I’ve already had a peek at the exhibit which includes some of the most exquisite and visually striking pieces of art I’ve ever seen created for an animated film. What makes John Hubley among my favorite animation artists of all time is not simply that he created such amazing artwork, but that he figured out how to make it work in the context of movement. There is no shortage of pretty artwork in animation nowadays, but too often the artwork betrays the fundamental purpose of the art form–movement–and is created with slight consideration to its role within the continuity of a film. Hubley, on the other hand, created pieces of art that, while beautiful when viewed individually, are even more thrilling to view as a collective whole working in the service of his films. There’ll be no better opportunity to experience what I’m talking about than at MoMA this coming Monday.