We don’t do many links to non-animation websites but I wanted to share a few of my favorite visual blogs along with a couple other online finds that I’ve enjoyed recently. Feel free to share the visual blogs and sites that inspire you in the comments section. After all, it’s hardly a secret that the best animation is produced by those who have the broadest visual education.
Background layout and production design in the real world BldgBlog
Great design is great design regardless of medium Ace Jet 170
Hans Perk has posted a fascinating historical document on his blog: a list of Disney artists serving in uniform during WWII. The document, which is from spring of 1943, says that 165 Disney artists were in the service at the time, or more than 25% of the studio’s workforce. It’s definitely a trip seeing animation artists identified as Lt. Lee Blair, Pte. Jules Engel and Corp. Donald Lusk.
Michael Arias, director of Studio4Ã‚Â°C’s Tekkon Kinkreet, recently commented on a Cartoon Brew post about upcoming theatrical screenings of his film in the United States. In addition to the previously mentioned NYC screenings, he mentions a couple theatrical screenings coming up in LA and Honolulu. I’ve posted complete screening details below.
I’m glad that these festival screenings make it available on the bigscreen, though it begs the question: why is a studio like 4Ã‚Â°C, which is consistently producing some of the most innovative animation today, unable to secure stateside distribution for its films like Mind Game and Tekkon Kinkreet. I’m sure the reasons are complicated but it’s still a huge failure on the part of the US film distributors to not make quality foreign animation like this available to the public.
MoMA – The Museum of Modern Art
Roy and Nita Titus Theaters 1 & 2
Wed 4/25 (T1), Thurs 4/26 (T2), Fri 4/27 (T2) – 8:30 pm
Sat 4/28 (T2), Sun 4/29 (T2) – 2:00 pm
Mon 4/30 (T2) – 8:30 pm
Screening info here
Ticket info here
Los Angeles Asian Pacific Film Festival
LaemmleÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s Sunset 5
Sunday, May 6 – 5:00 pm
Tickets available here
Hawaii International Film Festival
Thursday, April 26 – 8:45 pm
Tickets available here
Chris Padilla recently hipped me to some visually striking animated spots from the 1970s. Chris actually showed some of these commercials theatrically as part of his late-70s theatrical release Fantastic Animation Festival. The spots have an exciting spirit of innovation and are in a wholly different league from the mainstream work being produced in the industry during that period. Some of the ads are notable for their groundbreaking use of computer animation, while others use processed live-action to achieve an effect similar to Bob Sabiston’s techniques on Waking Life and A Scanner Darkly. The agency art director for the Levi’s campaign was Bay Area-based artist Chris Blum.
Studio: Duck Soup Produckions
Director: Roger Chouinard
Studio AD: Mel Sommer
Agency AD: Chris Blum
Mark Kausler, of It’s the Cat fame, animated on the “Rodeo” commercial. I asked him if he could share a few memories:
Duck Soup did that one, Roger Chouinard directed it. The late, great Mel Sommer was the art director at Duck. It’s mostly processed live action (the cowboys), Xeroxed onto cels and then we animated the clothes as if they were herds of cattle. I did the opening scenes, it took a lot of hours to do that shot where the clothes “fan out” as the cowboys ride alongside. In the end, I don’t like this spot very much, too much work for too little pay. Animating disembodied pants and shirts was no fun at all, no eyes, no personality. I guess now computers would “animate” stuff like this, they can have it!
Gorillaz animation director Pete Candeland of Passion Pictures has turned out a visually stunning spot for the videogame Guitar Hero II. It would have been even better if the animation of the guitar playing had been more closely timed to the music, but the superb drawing and movement of the two main characters, not to mention great inking style, makes this spot a winner.
I Am 8-Bit, the yearly artistic celebration of retro-video games, returns tomorrow night, April 17, to Gallery 1988 (7020 Melrose Ave, LA, CA). This year’s lineup, curated as always by Jon Gibson, features over 100 artists. Tomorrow night’s opening party, from 7-11 pm, will also include music performances by 8 Bit Weapon and ComputeHer, a giant playable 5-1/2 foot Atari controller, and an installation designed by Tony Mora that’ll be projected inside and outside of the gallery. The installation is comprised of videogame sprite animation, including Super Mario Bros., Mega Man and Metroid, ripped directly from each of the games, frame-by-frame, and assembled in Flash.
Below are a few of the pieces on display this year. The artists are: (top to bottom) Joe Vaux, Michelle Valigura, Dave Wasson, Johnny Yanok, Amy Sol, Jon Burgerman, Carlos Ramos and Ryan Heshka.
Inspired by Michael Sporn’s recent series of posts about his favorite animation books, I wanted to share this list I’d compiled a while back of autobiographies written by animation artists. The list is depressingly short considering how many hundreds of great artists worked during animation’s Golden Age. It amazes, and saddens, me that none of the A-list animators at Warner Bros. or MGM ever bothered to record their memories or offer insights into how they worked. Imagine how much richer the art form would be today if we could refer back to the thoughts of animators like Ken Harris, Ben Washam, Bill Melendez, Irv Spence, Rod Scribner, Emery Hawkins, Bobe Cannon and Ray Patterson. The one cartoon animator who did produce a couple of books, Preston Blair, is evidence of how much these artists had to offer to future generations; Blair’s book is to this day one of the most widely admired animation texts around
To be fair, there are many more biographies about animation artists, like Joe Adamson’s books on Tex Avery and Walter Lantz, John Canemaker’s volumes on Mary Blair, Winsor McCay and the Nine Old Men, and various bios of Friz Freleng, Max Fleischer, Charlie Thorson and Ub Iwerks, among others. But as far as artists writing about their experiences in their own words, it’s a meager library. That’s a shame too because as necessary and valuable as bios are, they are rarely (if ever) as entertaining or enlightening as the best of the autobiographies, like those of Shamus Culhane, Jack Kinney and Chuck Jones. If you can think of any other titles that should be added to the list, please mention them in the comments.
Hardie Gramatky (1907-1979), one of the great American watercolorists, actually started in animation working at Disney from 1929-1936. Joe Campana points out on his blog Animation – Who and Where that yesterday marked Gramatky’s 100th birthday anniversary. Besides painting and animation, Gramatky was also known for his children’s storybooks, particularly Little Toot, which was adapted into an animated segment for Disney’s Melody Time. An extensive bio and many of Gramatky’s paintings can be found at Gramatky.com, a site maintained by his daughter, Linda Gramatky Smith. More of his stunning watercolors can be viewed at CaliforniaWatercolor.com.
Starting today and continuing through Monday, there’s an interesting event happening in Ohio: “Women In Animation: A Columbus College of Art & Design Symposium.” The goal of the event is to celebrate “women’s achievements in animation, and to encourage young women to envision themselves contributing to every part of the industry, from personal aesthetic expression to the topmost echelons of production and direction.”
The event is free and open to the public, and takes place in the Canzani Center Auditorium. There are some well known presenters including Joanna Quinn, Clare Kitson, Jayne Pilling, Rebecca Allen, and Jinko Gotoh, among others. A complete schedule of events is posted at the CCAD website.
This Saturday the Corey Helford Gallery (8522 Washington Boulevard, Culver City, CA) is opening a new solo show by the phenomenally talented Andrew Brandou. “As A Man Thinketh, So He Is” features over thirty new paintings that “explore the history of Jim Jones and the People’s Temple, creating a visual roadmap of the Jonestown story.” Brandou, who comes from an animation background working on shows like The Simpsons, Duckman, Rugrats and Spongebob, is now focusing full-time on producing his own artwork, which is fine in my book since his personal paintings are incredibly fun and appealing, not to mention classically skillful.
More about the upcoming show from the press release:
Integrating wood from significant locales of JonesÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ past into the series of acrylic and silver and gold leaf paintings, Andrew BrandouÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s stable of symbolic animal caricatures lead the viewer from Jim JonesÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ Indiana birthplace and his days as a young preacher in the San Francisco Bay Area to his final destination – Guyana. Through his vibrant and childlike imagery, Brandou translates tragic themes into engaging narratives that are as alive with cultural and religious references as they are just plain dark fun. The exhibition includes a life-size recreation of JonesÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ iconic throne, on which patrons may have a specially framed commemorative Polaroid taken. Open to the public, the reception for Ã¢â‚¬Å“As A Man Thinketh, So He IsÃ¢â‚¬? will take place on Saturday, April 14 from 7 to 11pm, and the show will be exhibited until May 5, 2007.
Regular readers of Cartoon Brew will get a kick out of this. Bob “BobServo” Mackey of SomethingAwful.com has concocted a thorough and thoroughly hilarious parody of Cartoon Brew. It’s funny because, dare I say, it’s true. Apparently we’re pretty hardcore about this whole animation thing. Be sure to check out page two of the parody for a snort-inducing commentary by “John K.”
The inagural edition of the Platform festival happens in Portland, Oregon from June 25-30. It’s been quite a few years since a world-class animation festival has taken place in the US and it’s exciting to see Platform coming together so well, largely thanks to the expert guidance of festival director Irene Kotlarz. Special mention must also be made of the festival’s sole sponsor, Cartoon Network. Considering that there is barely any government funding for the arts here in the States, and definitely nothing for an animation festival on the scale of Platform, it’s commendable that CN has stepped up to the plate and created this much-needed event for the animation community. Jerry and I will be among the attendees of Platform this year and we’re hoping it’ll be the first of many visits to the festival.