Far be it from Cartoon Brew to offer advice on raising children, but we have to say that Adam Koford has some solid parenting skills. The photo below of his son, which he posted onto Flickr, proves that it’s never too early to start giving your kid a proper cartoon education.
There’s not much of a question that the above publicity image for SHREK THE THIRD is a graphic travesty. That much is obvious. The real question, however, is, Why? How could something look like this especially when there are hundreds of talented artists working on the film and tens of millions of dollars at their disposal. After seeing the above image, Keith Lango, an experienced CG feature animator, wrote an exceptionally insightful commentary on his blog where he discusses the assembly-line system under which big-budget CG films are created and why he feels this flawed production pipeline is more responsible for these type of images than any individual artist working on the films. Here’s how Lango sets up his piece:
It’s almost like nobody ever saw this all together until it was too late. The thing is, if it was made like 99% of the imagery in big budget CG then most likely nobody did see it until it was too late. The problem is not so much with any single artist. That’s because in all likelihood no single artist is responsible for this. It is assembly line imagery. The flaw is in the system under which this is made.
Imagine taking 10 talented solo singers and asking them to sing the US national anthem to the same instrumental track. But due to scheduling conflicts they have to each perform in solo, not as a group. Oh, and gee, we don’t have everybody’s performance here yet so you’ll need to just do your part the best you know how without hearing the others. Naturally these singers are to going to make it the best national anthem they know how. So they sing and sing, beautiful notes that rise and fall- all creating fabulous solo performances. Now take these 10 solo artist’s performances and mix them together in editing. The overall result would be hideous. There are no background singers, nobody is doing harmony, nobody takes the lead because all take the lead. It’d be like some kind of gladiator battle of voices. The jumble of notes flooding forth would cause ears to bleed.
What sort of top-secret project is talented mad cartoonist Rex Hackelberg developing up in Canada? I don’t know, but the cartoon designs featured in THIS POST on his blog totally blew my mind. The model sheets of the cat and the bespectacled kid – which reminds me of a mini-Ward Kimball – have some of the most exuberant, imaginative and fun poses I’ve seen in a long while. The only thing missing here is some funny loose animation that matches the energy of these model drawings. Let’s hope that’s coming up next.
HAPPY FEET vs. Fred Astaire? Is that really even a contest? It’s a testament to Astaire’s talent that using only a cane as a prop, he can outdance and outentertain $100 million worth of flashy CG effects. Of course, as Canadian animator Colin Giles points out on the above link, it might have helped Warner Bros. if they’d chosen to do a tap-dancing animal cartoon with animals that were anatomically built for tap-dancing.
YouTube user Zak78 has posted a 10-part playlist of Masaaki Yuasa’s fantastic film MIND GAME (2004). As I’ve written before, MIND GAME is an animated feature unlike any other, and while a compressed Flash file is hardly the ideal way to experience the film, it’s one of the only ways since the film hasn’t received any dvd/home video distribution in the US or Europe.
Feeling a little rusty on your Vishnus, Shivas and Ganeshas? Look no further than Pixar animator Sanjay Patel’s new illustrated guide THE LITTLE BOOK OF HINDU DEITIES: FROM THE GODDESS OF WEALTH TO THE SACRED COWS. As some may recall, Patel self-published this book a couple years ago under the title LITTLE INDIA. The book was a hit and now it’s been picked up for mainstream distribution by Plume, an imprint of Penguin Publishing. Patel has expanded the book in scope and size and it’s scheduled for release next week. It’s available on Amazon for $11.20.
(Thanks, Will Kane)
DreamWorks animator Jeremy Bernstein attended the Pixar storytelling seminars last weekend (mentioned previously HERE) and he took some illustrated notes, which he has now generously posted on his BLOG. Actually, it seems like he spent more time drawing the people in attendance than actually taking notes, but I’m not complaining because he ended up with an amazing batch of drawings.
I think it’s safe to announce that the Internet is officially complete now that director, storyboard artist and all-around creative type Vincent Waller (REN & STIMPY, SPONGEBOB SQUAREPANTS) has started his own BLOG. If his blog proves to be anywhere near as entertaining as hanging around his office, then we should all visit often…and not allow him to get any real work done.
(Image from ASIFA-Hollywood’s Animation Archive)
John Kricfalusi has an insightful POST on his blog where he discusses color theory in backgrounds. He uses early Hanna-Barbera TV backgrounds as examples which is notable because these cartoons were made on dirt-cheap budgets – it just goes to show that appealing color doesn’t require a lot of money, only good taste. Admittedly, I’m not as big a fan of the H-B backgrounds as John, but he’s certainly found some solid examples here. The BGs in his analysis were all painted by Arminio “Art” Lozzi, who we recently discovered is living in Greece where he had a second successful career as an architectural interior designer for Hilton International hotels and various cruise ship lines. I’m sure John will have a lot more to write about Art’s career and work, but for now, here’s a photo of Lozzi back when he was painting the H-B backgrounds.
There’s plenty of scary Halloween events coming up over the next few days but I can’t think of any more frightening than this: next Monday, October 30, DreamWorks animation chief Jeffrey Katzenberg will be speaking about the future of computer animation at Cornell University in Ithaca, New York. The event will be at the Statler Hall Auditorium at 2 p.m. According to the ITHACA JOURNAL, “the event is open to the wider Cornell community and affiliated educational partners. Seating may be limited, so early arrival is recommended.”
Here’s a topic that never gets old: amateur illustrators who pilfer artwork from Preston Blair’s classic animation textbook and use it for their own commercial projects. Brew reader Trevour Meyer recently found a blatant (and blatantly incompetent) batch of Blair rip-offs at the Lake Superior Zoo in Duluth, Minnesota and he’s posted them all on his BLOG along with some amusing commentary.
Mike Matei has posted onto YouTube an incredible late-1930s newsreel that shows how cartoons were produced at the Fleischer Studio in Miami. The information contained in the film is nothing new but it’s a real trip seeing 1930s Fleischer artists in vivid full color. Can anybody identify the artists in the film?
UPDATE: A number of people have emailed to let me know that the hi-res version of this film is available on this recent Popeye dvd by Steve Stanchfield.
(Thanks, Tony Mora)
Check this out: a brief but thought-provoking INTERVIEW with Dan Haskett, a name that should need no introduction to anybody working in animation today. It’d be great to see somebody do a more in-depth talk with Haskett at some point, but for now, this’ll have to suffice. Here’s a comment that stood out in particular, in which Haskett addresses the lack of black characters in feature animation:
Q: What are the challenges to getting more Black characters in animated movies?
Haskett: We have to make our own movies. I don’t want Disney to do the Black characters. I’ve already seen what they do with the Asian characters and the Mexican characters and the Hawaiian characters and I don’t like it. There’s your image up there but what are you doing with it? What are you saying with this image? I remember during the making of “The Little Mermaid” there was an idea, wouldn’t it be funny to make Sebastian the crab be a Jamaican? And basically what that meant is give him a big, fat lower lip and popping eyes – and that’s what they had in the film. A lot of our folks think that because it’s a cartoon that it’s harmless, that you can put a coon image in a cartoon and it will be harmless. But it’s very importantâ€¦people remember those images.
We have to make out own stuff we can’t depend on Hollywood to make better pictures. Hollywood is not interested in you. They’ve made allowances but it’s nowhere near where it ought to be. There is still a lot to be done in American animation in multicultural representation.
And here’s Dan speaking about the animation world’s changing landscape:
Haskett: On the horizon is the Internet and how it could change the movie business altogether. It could change the distribution. The Internet has helped a lot of people get into animation who would have otherwise not have tried it. A computer allows them to work solo and not form a studio. Combined with the Internet, the computer allowed a lot of kids to come in and make films without selling their ideas to studios. Right now it’s still in the baby step stage. It could be that they can change everything.
(via Channel Frederator)
Here’s a couple short must-see CG demos by animator Bernhard Haux. In the first video, Haux incorporates a dynamic wave principle into his CG rig. In the second video, Haux creates a tool to help make his CG poses cartoonier and more appealing. Animator Keith Lango calls this “a very cool screen space mesh deformer that lets you sculpt the geometry based on the image plane, not just with deformer nodes in the rig.”
It’s always exciting to see artists pushing CG beyond its default mode, not because I want to see CG mimic hand-drawn animation, but because adding the flexibility of drawn animation to CG will only help push the technique forward and allow it to go places we can’t even imagine yet. I’m not sure whether the second tool already exists in the major studios like Pixar and DreamWorks though I assume it’s available to animators in one form or another. What I do know is that the average piece of non-big budget commercial CG could greatly benefit from an easy-to-use tool like this which allows animators to sculpt their poses.
(Thanks, David Maas)
The Ottawa International Animation Festival has released an AUDIO PODCAST of a talk given at the festival last month by JibJab co-founder Evan Spiridellis. I haven’t listened to the podcast yet but I was there in attendance and it was a terrific and inspiring talk. Evan walks the audience through the trials and tribulations of starting an indie animation studio and his experience is well worth hearing for anyone who’s thinking of becoming an independent. (Note: Only the first half of his talk is posted though I assume the second part will also be posted soon.)