OLI’S CHANCE is a new German short that I discovered on character designer Harald Siepermann’s blog. The film can be viewed HERE (Windows Media Player version). Directed by Saschka Unseld and Johannes Weiland, the short was commissioned by the German rail to warns kids against playing on or near railroad tracks. The film is in German but its story should be clear to those who don’t speak German. I agree with Harald, who writes on his blog, “It succeeds not only in terms of animation but also in its unpretentious, non-patronizing storytelling.” Some of the design choices are questionable – for example, the extreme separation of the eyes and nose on such realistic designs gives the characters an awkward alien-like quality – but all in all, it’s a pretty good film worth checking out. The film was produced by Studio Soi, a young German commercial animation outfit. Be sure to watch their super-appealing “Bunnies” commercial they produced for MTV; it’s posted on their site.
ADDENDUM: Jakob Schuh, one of the directors at Studio Soi, emailed to let me know that their studio has another website at ChezSoi.de where they have job listings posted. They’re currently looking to hire designers; submission info is on the site.
FLOCK OF DODOS: THE EVOLUTION-INTELLIGENT DESIGN CIRCUS is a live-action documentary that premiered recently at the Tribeca Film Festival. The film notably uses animated inserts to bring some levity to its serious subject. The film’s animation director was Disney and DreamWorks veteran Tom Sito, and the animation was produced by Gang of Seven Animation. Here’s an ARTICLE that interviews Tom Sito and DODOS director Stephen Olson about the idea of using animation in the film.
Good news folks. ANIMATION BLAST 9 will be (finally) headed to the printer this Friday. I’m spending all this week doing final edits and making sure everything is in order before sending it up to Canada. The final specs are 108 pages, 6.5″x9.5″, full-color throughout, and of course, ad-free. Here are four double-page spreads from the mag:
Graphic designer Pierre Bernard has a regular segment on LATE NIGHT WITH CONAN O’BRIEN where he rants about things that annoy him. Last Friday, LATE NIGHT ran a segment about Bernard’s visit to Vancouver and his appearance on the LARRY AND WILLY radio show. When the interviewer asks him if there’s anything that’s bothering him at the moment, Bernard responds:
Actually yes. One of my big things is the Cartoon Network. I love watching that at night. For some bizarre reason, at 12:30 on the Cartoon Network they’re airing SAVED BY THE BELL.The reason why I watch the Adult Swim is because a lot of their programming is Japanese anime. I mean, I had a problem a while back when they took COWBOY BEBOP off the air. I complained about that. And all of a sudden now they’re putting this real TV show, a TV show which I spent years avoiding. I’m hoping this is not going to be a future trend.
While it’s easy to laugh at Bernard’s comments, he makes an extremely valid point: Cartoon Network is on the fast-track to alienating its core viewership, namely dedicated animation fans like Bernard who tune in for anime, Adult Swim and Cartoon Network originals like POWERPUFF GIRLS and SAMURAI JACK. The YouTube video of the LATE NIGHT segment is below. Bernard’s Cartoon Network complaint begins at about 2 minutes, 15 seconds into the clip. (Video removed from YouTube by NBC).
Earlier coverage of Cartoon Network’s decision to begin producing and airing live-action series: 1, 2, 3, 4
We received a lot of positive feedback when we did “Jazz Cartoon Friday” so here’s another themed collection of cartoons. Today is, of course, Cinco de Mayo so let’s celebrate by taking a look at how Golden Age animators depicted Mexico (and Mexicans) in classic cartoons.
First up, the introduction of Panchito from Disney’s THREE CABALLEROS (1944). The scene was animated by the one and only Ward Kimball.
SENOR DROOPY (1949, MGM) Director: Tex Avery
MEXICALI SCHMOES (1959, Warner Bros.) Director: Friz Freleng
SNAKE IN THE GRACIAS (1971, DePatie-Freleng) Director: Hawley Pratt Not exactly a classic, but the Tijuana Toads were created by John Dunn, who is featured prominently in the almost-finished ANIMATION BLAST 9.
Worthwhile read: A couple days ago, the LA TIMES published an ARTICLE about the possibility of currently independent DreamWorks Animation being purchased by a larger media conglomerate, like Paramount. Steve Hulett at the Animation Guild also has some thoughts on the topic.(Use BugMeNot to bypass registration)
Animation director Jim Clark is one lucky son of a !?*$!%. That’s because he just bought an incredible Ward Kimball painting from 1949 titled “The Committee.” He shares his thoughts about Kimball and the painting on his BLOG. Also, I’d previously blogged some other Kimball paintings HERE and HERE.
Ukranian-born Igor Kovalyov has had a bit of a dual-career in animation, working both as an independent filmmaker and in the mainstream industry (he co-directed THE RUGRATS MOVIE and has done lots of other work for Klasky Csupo). Four of Kovalyov’s shorts can be viewed online at Klasky Csupo’s Global Tantrum website: HEN, HIS WIFE (1989), ANDREI SVISLOTSKI (1991), BIRD IN THE WINDOW (1996) and FLYING NANSEN (2000).
Kovalyov’s films are dialogue-less and demand a lot from the viewer; blink for one second and you might miss the entire point of the film, as happened the first time I watched BIRD IN THE WINDOW. I’m not sure if I entirely like Kovalyov’s films or his storytelling style, but I do appreciate that he brings an uncompromisingly personal vision to his work. Visually, his films are a delight, with chunky, imperfect characters that recall the drawings of José Luis Cuevas and George Grosz, and backgrounds that display a strong fine art sensibility with an unconventionally earthy sense of color. To gain further insight into Kovalyov’s personal background and the themes of his short films, be sure to check out this excellent essay penned by Chris Robinson.(via No Fat Clips)
Film composer Alex Rannie emailed over this great book jacket with a caricature of MUSIC MAN writer/composer Meredith Willson drawn by animation storyman and character designer Thornton (T.) Hee. Some more of T. Hee’s non-animation artwork can be found in this Cartoon Retro thread.
Thad Komorowski has posted three classic Columbia cartoons on his blog Identifying Animators and Their Scenes: THE FOX AND GRAPES (1941, dir: Frank Tashlin), CHOLLY POLLY (1942, dir: Alec Geiss) and THE SCHOONER THE BETTER (1946, dir: Howard Swift). Interesting sidenote: Chuck Jones acknowledged that he based his Roadrunner/Coyote series on the Tashlin short FOX AND GRAPES. These cartoons are next to impossible to see nowadays in the US so enjoy them on Thad’s blog.
Admission to the festival and the panel are both FREE. Other events that may interest BREW readers are the following: “Ray Harryhausen in Conversation with Richard Schickel” (Saturday, 10am), “Chip Kidd in Conversation with Charles Solomon” (Saturday, 11:30am), and “Mike Mignola in Conversation with Nick Owchar” (Sunday, 2:30 pm).
Any day now ANIMATION BLAST 9 should be wrapped up and sent to the printer. I’ve passed my biggest personal hurdle on the issue – the article on animation storyman John Dunn-and it’s well on its way to being completed, with only a few more interviews to follow through on. This week I expanded the magazine from 100 to 108 pages to accomodate a larger piece on Dunn (it’s 32 pages now). Even with that expansion, the longest piece in the issue is still Taylor Jessen’s incredible 33-page history of the animated feature TWICE UPON A TIME. It’s going to be a good issue.
Here are a few random gag drawings and sketches by John Dunn that I had to cut out of the issue recently.
Don’t say I didn’t warn you. UTSU-MUSUME SAYURI (THE STRIKING DAUGHTER SAYURI) is a delightfully bizarre CG short from Japan. I first saw the film at a couple festivals back in 2004 and both times the audience reaction could be described as something between shock and utter admiration for how imaginative and surreal this film is. Everything in the film, including direction, animation, design and music was done by one person – Takashi Kimura. It can be viewed online at iFilm.com.