Animation festivals are fine nowadays, but I can’t think of any event that could possibly compare to the Montreal Expo’s World Exhibition of Animation Cinema which took place in 1967. Michael Sporn has some info and photos from the event posted on his blog.
The guest list is a jaw-dropping who’s who of animation legends from around the world: Chuck Jones, Peter Foldes, John Halas, Ward Kimball, Ub Iwerks, Ion Popescu-Gopo, Carmen d’Avino, Len Lye, Bill Hurtz, Dave Hilberman, Robert Breer, Art Babbitt, Feodor Khitruk, Ivan Ivanov-Vano, Paul Terry, J.R. Bray, Walter Lantz, Otto Messmer, Dave Fleischer, Norman McLaren, Bruno Bozzetto, Bill Tytla, Bob Clampett, Karel Zeman, Dusan Vukotic, Bretislav Pojar, Jean Image, Grim Natwick, and John Whitney, to name but a few. If I had a time travel machine, I know the first place I’d be headed.
My good friend, Miles Thompson, a full-time painter and sometimes animation artist, is currently working on his next solo art show, which will debut at La Luz de Jesus in September 2007. The theme of the show is “California” and he’s set up a blog HERE to share his research for the paintings and to post finished work for the show. Unlike many tributes to the Golden State, Miles seems to be digging beyond the superficial aspects of California and exploring the rich heritage and character of the state. It’s shaping up to be an excellent art show.
Mike Judge and Don Hertzfeldt have announced the line-up for the third edition of the ANIMATION SHOW. Having seen all the films in the line-up with the exception of one, let me just say that this is a superb program. It’s a perfect sampling of the indie animation scene and includes a bit of everything: hand-drawn, CG, stop-motion, abstract, it’s all here. Films include Run Wrake’s RABBIT, Joanna Quinn’s DREAMS AND DESIRES, Don Hertzfeldt’s EVERYTHING WILL BE OK, Shane Acker’s NINE and Ga”lle Denis’s CITY PARADISE.
The touring schedule of the upcoming ANIMATION SHOW is different as well. They’re switching from conventional art house runs to a “music concert”-style schedule in which they’ll play limited one or two-night engagements throughout the US. LA folks will get the show for two nights: February 7, 2007 at Royce Hall in UCLA and February 15 at the Rialto in Pasadena. The complete tour schedule can be found HERE. If it hits your area, I highly recommend checking it out.
What does it feel like to be nominated for an animated short Oscar? Atlanta animation director Ward Jenkins was curious to find out so he interviewed the distinguished John Canemaker, who was not only nominated but also won the Oscar this year for his short THE MOON AND THE SON: AN IMAGINED CONVERSATION. John describes in detail the whirlwind activities leading up to the ceremony and it’s a fun read. Part one is posted HERE and Ward promises that part two of the interview will be posted on his blog next week.
Who ever said being a distributor of animated films was boring work? Here’s an amusing newspaper article from a few months back about Russian animation distributor Films by Jove and the full-fledged sting operation they set up to catch a guy in LA who was pirating their dvds.
Talk about scraping the bottom of the artistic barrel: the Museum of Television & Radio in Beverly Hills is currently hosting an exhibit of “pop surrealist” art inspired by FAMILY GUY. The show, “What The Deuce Are You Staring At!?!”, runs through January 21, 2007. After January, the art goes on a tour of animation galleries including Animation Connection in Toronto, The Linda Jones Gallery in Santa Fe, New Mexico, The Animation Art Gallery in London, The Silver K Gallery in Melbourne, Australia, and Van Eaton Gallery in Sherman Oaks. To check out some of the pieces, go HERE.
Feel good this holiday season by participating in FPS MAGAZINE’s annual charity auction which runs through November 29. All proceeds, less eBay and Paypal fees, will be donated to the Canadian Cancer Society. The auction includes animation-related books, dvds, software and other goodies. Item listings and additional info are at the FPS website.
One of the most interesting animation stories of ’06 took place last February when Disney acquired the rights to one of Walt’s earliest creations, Oswald the Lucky Rabbit. Unlike Universal, who owned the character for decades and did nothing with it, Disney has recognized the potential market for this classic character and is planning a major Oswald push in 2007.
A Disney insider writes to let me know that last week they held an internal launch party for Oswald at Disney Consumer Products in Burbank. The party, which included a live performance by the Wu-Tang Clan’s RZA, who mixed classic Oswald cartoons with contemporary music, also featured a gallery exhibit displaying some of the upcoming merchandise. Products include vinyl toys, clothing and stationary. From the exhibit: “Oswald will benefit from a more refined retail launch, focusing on the ‘couture’ market…this equates to high-end merchandise from renowned designers, ranging from apparel to accessories.” Disney also just announced an ’07 dvd release of Oswald cartoons. From the looks of the merchandise, it’s nice to see that Disney is staying relatively faithful to the character’s roots and also keeping him black-and-white. And thankfully, no baggy pants or backwards baseball cap…yet.
Our source sent us some video of the RZA at the Oswald party as well as pics of the merchandise. I’ve posted it all below:
Indie filmmaker/stick-figure master/ANIMATION SHOW co-founder Don Hertzfeldt talks extensively about his work in this new AWN interview. Good stuff throughout. I particularly agree with his thoughts on computer animation:
CG models and perfect life drawings leave me cold. All that a realistic, representational drawing of a bicycle tells me is, “bicycle.” There’s so much more mood and psychology to bring to the film if your artwork communicates more than just nouns. It’s why photorealism in animation is usually so boring and pointless. It’s all nouns. Ninety percent of CG animation is all nouns. I can’t feel anything going on behind the image.
The point of this medium is you can do literally anything, you can show us amazing things we’ve never seen before. I want to see animators change the language of cinema! Seriously, we have the means. Push animation deep into the wild new places where the surrealists took their reaction to photography. Rock the damn boat. If you’re going to strip animation of all its subjective power and just show me what things look like in real life you might as well be shooting live action.
Oliver Laric, the filmmaker responsible for the online hit 787 CLIPARTS, has finished a new video project, Aircondition. I’m not sure if it’s exactly animation in the strictest sense of the word but there’s definitely an animated sensibility at work here.
Our friends at Also Design create incredible print design and Flash websites, but they also make animation, like this cute spot for Etsy.com. We’re working with Also on the Cartoon Brew redesign, as well as on our new BrewFilms venture, and they’ve managed to come up with some terrific stuff. We can’t wait to share it with everybody.
Today’s NEW YORK TIMES has an ARTICLE that discusses how animation was used during the 1940s and ’50s to teach valuable medical lessons. The piece barely scratches the surface of the topic but it’s still nice to see Private Snafu and Hugh Harman get mentioned in a contemporary newspaper article.
Use BugMeNot if registration is required. (Thanks, Alex Rannie and Joel Schlosberg)
Produced as part of Channel 4′s Mesh program, POTAPYCH is a wonderful little short that works on every level. The film’s style is a delight – a combination of cel-shaded CG characters with painted backgrounds – though what impressed me most was the elegant storytelling, which is fast-paced but never rushed. Price manages to tell a great story with heart in under three minutes – something much harder to do than it looks. (Sidenote: After watching the film, be sure to click on the “Learn More About The Bear” link.)
Who needs DANCING WITH THE STARS? EN TUS BRAZOS is a new French student film from Supinfocom created by Edouard Jouret, FX Goby and Matthieu Landour. I had some issues with the design and animation, but the stylish dreamlike atmosphere makes this film worth checking out.
What’s the most popular piece of animation on the Internet right now? How about KIWI!, a Master’s thesis film by Dony Permedi of School of Visual Arts. The 3-minute, dialogue-less short became a “Featured Video” on YouTube’s front page a few days ago and it connected with audiences in a way that nobody could have expected. It is currently the most linked-to video on the blogosphere according to Technorati.com, it’s in the top 15 all-time favorited videos on YouTube, and it’s racked up nearly two million views in the past week.
That last number is particularly impressive. It’s one thing to talk in the abstract about the Internet and the potential it offers for animated shorts, but KIWI! offers clear proof that an online audience exists for animated shorts. When was the last time anybody heard of a piece of student animation being viewed two million times in a week? Even if the film had screened at dozens of film festivals or been released onto a compilation dvd of shorts, it’s unlikely to have ever achieved such a sizable viewership through traditional short film distribution channels.
KIWI!’s success is part of a much bigger story, which is how the Internet is making animated shorts accessible to mainstream audiences, something that hasn’t happened in the last thirty or forty years. It’s going to take some time until filmmakers figure out models for generating revenue from their shorts online, but with a worldwide audience thirsty for fresh animated content, making money from animated shorts has finally become a matter of when and not if.