The young Santa Monica animation studio Three Legged Legs continues to impress with each new project they turn out. Reza Rasoli, one of the principals in the studio, wrote to give me a heads up on their latest campaign, “XGames” for Amp energy drink. The three Amp feature the most extensive traditional character animation that they’ve produced to date. They’ve also posted an excellent case study that showcases the artistic talent and concept artwork behind the Amp spots.
BCActionPoet.org is a delightful series of eleven bite-sized shorts, each set to a poem by US Poet Laureate Billy Collins and read in an amusingly dry tone by Collins himself. The films were commissioned by The Sundance Channel, in partnership with J. Walter Thompson, and the individual shorts were farmed out to various commerical animators. Some of the standout pieces which I thought were able to graphically complement and build upon, but not parrot, Collins’s evocative words, were “The Last Cigarette” by Will Hyde of Superfad, “Forgetfulness” by Julian Grey of Toronto’s Head Gear Animation, and “No Time” animated by Jeff Scher.
David Nethery shares a rare 1963 magazine article by Twice Upon a Time director John Korty offering tips on how to get started in animation. My favorite tip from Korty: “Don’t be afraid to shoot 20, 40 or 80 frames without movement.”
We’ve extended the pre-order deadline for the new Cartoon Brew book Inside UPA. All orders via Paypal, or postmarked in the mail, by this Tuesday, September 18, can take advantage of the cheaper price of $35 (plus S&H). After that, the price will become $45. All proceeds from this limited edition book will go towards the funding of the UPA documentary project headed up by Tee Bosustow, son of UPA co-founder Stephen Bosustow. For more details, see this earlier post on the Brew and to pre-order your discounted copy visit UPApix.com. With only one thousand copies being published, it won’t be around for long, and it certainly won’t be this cheap again after a couple more days.
New York animator Patrick Smith, who has also created numerous public art installations throughout the years, is making a major entry into the fine art world. His first one-man show, “Configurations,” opens this Tuesday, September 18, at CVZ Contemporary Gallery in SoHo (446 Broadway, 5th Floor, New York, NY, 10013). The opening reception is from 6-10pm. Two of the acrylics from the show can be seen above (larger versions here).
Smith says of these paintings, “Using the figure as a building block, intertwining with other figures, is a powerful method of constructing a broader configuration. The concept of people supporting others to achieve something larger than themselves can have a sublime result, and itÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s something that I enjoy illustrating.” To my eyes though, while some of the characters look like they’re cooperating and helping one another, others look like they’re taking advantage of one another to pull ahead. It lends an intriguing complexity to the true intent of these contorted and expressionless figures. Here is a time-lapse video showing the creation of one of these paintings.
Spumco bigshot Jim Smith is auctioning some of his layouts from the original Ren & Stimpy series on eBay. The prices are reasonable and there’s some nice drawings available. Here is the complete listing of art.
Here’s a book that I recently picked up. The unlikely pairing of Schulz and Disney on a book cover was simply too good to pass up. The cover also offers the interesting revelation that when Schulz draws adults, they end up looking like King of the Hill characters. Thankfully it’s not something he did often.
Click on the front and back cover images for larger views.
Animator director Ward Jenkins has posted an interview on his blog with writer and historian Taylor Jessen, the foremost chronicler of the innovative and overlooked animated film Twice Upon a Time (1983). Ward also interviewed the film’s art director Harley Jessup and will be posting that discussion next.
UPDATE:Let’s try this again. I apologize that the post didn’t appear on the Cartoon Modern blog last night. A funky accident deleted the post and forced me to rewrite the whole thing. It’s up now.
This evening I posted a rare bit of previously lost animation history on the Cartoon Modern blog: photographs from the 1955 UPA tribute at MoMA. While I knew about this exhibit, I had never seen any photos from the show or had any idea how the artwork was presented. A couple months ago though, while working on Inside UPA, we discovered this set of photos in a storage box. These pics offer a terrific sense what it might have been like to attend this show in the 1950s.
And if you want a sense of what it was like to actually work at the UPA studio, be sure to pick up a copy of the forthcoming Cartoon Brew book Inside UPA. You can lock in the lower pre-order price if you buy the book by this Saturday, September 15. The print run is only 1000 copies and quite a few are gone already.
Inspired by the book Celluloid Skyline, which examined the depictions of New York in live-action film, the blog Ironic Sans has a delightful on-going series of posts called “Animated Manhattan” which looks at how New York City has been represented in cartoons throughout the years. So far, they’ve documented an eclectic assortment of animated pieces including features like Fritz the Cat and Madagascar, TV series including The Critic and Futurama, and one-off projects such as the Tom & Jerry short Mouse in Manhattan and the opening titles to Late Night with Conan O’Brien.
So you’re a 23-year-old unknown animator and you’d like your work seen by millions of people on national TV. How do you do it? For Detroit-based artist Ben Zurawski, it was as simple as drawing some flipbooks and posting them onto YouTube. A few weeks ago, one of them was shown on Late Night with Conan O’Brien. Here’s the segment:
In this day and age of whiz-bang gadgetry and powerful digital software, Zurawski is proof positive that a lo-fi approach to animation can garner success online, and even get your work featured on late-night talkshows. Here is a link to a recent interview with Ben about his artwork in general.
Born in Moscow and currently living in Spain, 22-year-old illustrator/animator Nicolai Troshinsky creates beautiful lyrical mini-films in a variety of techniques including cut-out (El Paraguas), hand-drawn (Good Morning) and stop motion ( Trenes). There’s nothing flashy about Troshinsky’s work, but his talent and thoughtful approach to art are evident throughout the animated pieces.