There’s a new independent 25-minute CGI short from Japan called NEGADON, THE MONSTER FROM MARS, directed by Jun Awazu at Studio Magara. Usually, I’m turned off by photorealistic CG, but there’s an element of stylization in the production that lifts it above typical photorealism. Brew reader John Cassidy writes more about it:
I’m a big fan of tokusatsu (Japanese for “special effects,” which describes all Japanese live-action FX fantasies, from Godzilla to Ultraman to Kamen/Masked Rider). NEGADON, THE MONSTER FROM MARS is a tribute to the “daikaijuu” (giant monster) genre of Golden-Age tokusatsu eiga (the 1950s and 60s), with a giant space monster, military mecha, and even a giant robot (created by an emotionally-scarred scientist), which fights with the title monster at the end! Even with CG-animation, the creators of this short wanted to capture the hand-made feel of vintage tokusatsu (right down to outer space being dark-blue!), and it looks impressive. It was released on DVD in Japan this past December 15th.
Here’s the official site and in English. You can download three different trailers for the short HERE. The third version trailer (linked in the collage therein) is my favorite.
Remember a couple months back when Kanye West commissioned two music videos for the same song? One was from Bill Plympton, the other from Michel Gondry. We wrote about it HERE and HERE. Now, Bill Plympton writes in his JOURNAL about how he got associated with Kanye. Apparently, West had originally commissioned a super-expensive video from Gondry, but wasn’t satisfied with the results, so he got Plympton to create a new video in one week. For those that want to compare the versions, here’s Gondry’s version (the animation director of this video was Peter Sluszka) and here’s Plympton’s version. It’s interesting to note how the visuals add an entirely new layer of meaning and effect to the song. Personally, I prefer Plympton’s hand-drawn version, with its raw, smudgy style, which is a more honest expression of the song’s earthy (if somewhat labored) tone. Gondry’s slick, candy-colored treatment, on the other hand, screams, “Look, how big my budget was!” in every shot, and, in my view, largely misses the point of the song.
The call has been answered. Thanks!
I did this a while back for another project I was working on, and I received some really good leads, so let’s try it again. A project I’m working on right now requires a web designer. It’s a cartoon-related deal and a paying gig (but on a small budget). I’m not looking for any web designer though – I need somebody who has a thorough knowledge of CSS, Web standards and blogs (MovableType/WordPress). Flash won’t be needed. The only way I’ll know if you’re right for the project is if I see examples of work using these elements, so please email me at amid (at) animationblast (dot) com with samples of your work or a link to an online portfolio. Thanks everybody!
Last October I proudly announced that I had started working full-time on the oft-delayed ANIMATION BLAST #9. Well, that lasted a good couple weeks until I got thrown back into intense edits for the CARTOON MODERN book. And once again I was forced to set aside BLAST 9 and not achieve my self-imposed deadline. Fortunately, all the revisions on CARTOON MODERN were finally wrapped up last week and I’m back full-time on BLAST 9. I’m hesistant to announce a new date, but I hope to wrap the issue up by the end of January and have it back from the printers by the end of February. This issue has been in the works for an incredibly long time and I certainly don’t want to create the sense that I’m holding onto people’s money without delivering, so if anybody is dissatisfied with the long wait, please send me an email and I’ll immediately issue a refund.
The image at the top of this post is an animation drawing by John Sibley from THE ADVENTURES OF ICHABOD AND MR. TOAD. There’s a great article about Sibley in BLAST 9 by Pete Docter, and I fully expect that you’ll be able to read it one of these days.
WALT’S PEOPLE, VOLUME 2 was released recently and it’s a wonderful collection of rare and enlightening interviews with Golden Age animation artists including Friz Freleng, Grim Natwick, Frank Tashlin, Ward Kimball, Floyd Gottfredson, Herb Ryman, Frank Thomas, Dale Oliver, Eric Larson and Woolie Reitherman. The self-published series is edited by French author Didier Ghez, and contributors include Disney experts such as Robin Allan, Paul F. Anderson, Michael Barrier, J.B. Kaufman and Jim Korkis. The book weighs in at a hefty 375 pages, and sells for under $20 at Xlibris.com. And while you’re at it, pick up Volume 1 as well, which has interviews with Marc Davis, Milt Kahl, Rudy Ising, Bill Tytla and Ken Anderson, among others.
Tooning In is a snort-out-loud-funny ONION-esque blog about the animation industry. The creators of the blog, who’ve chosen to remain anonymous, are all artists who work in the industry. They skewer just about everything under the sun from independent animation to anime, but the funniest (and truest) entries are those that take aim at producers and executives and all the awful decisions they make.
Here’s an excerpt from a story titled “Producer Brings Cartoon Know-How To Winery”:
Producer Marcia Crandall, best known in the animation industry as producer of straight-to-video classics such as “Naptime Commandos” “The Kuddle-Lumps” and “The Penguin and Me”, for now-defunct “Great Vids” video, has moved out of tinseltown and is now working her magic on northern Calfornia wines.
“The wine business is a lot like animation in many ways.” Says Crandall. “These are groups of people dedicated to their craft, with skill and passion, serving an audience who appreciates what they do. It’s my job to make sure they don’t get too ‘wacky’ with the wine stuff, and to bring fresh ideas to the table, just like I did when “Great Vids” did the “Andy Capp” adaptation.”
Fans may recall “Great Vids” “Andy Capp”, notable for featuring the beloved English barfly and womanizer as a stuffed teddy bear who can cause dreams to come true. The series prompted howls of protest from the millions of Andy Capp fans around the world.
I was backing up computer files this morning and found this scan of an MGM model sheet of Jerry mouse. Lots of great poses and facial expressions — a veritable masterclass in character design. Didn’t have time to clean up all the pencil marks on the image, but you can click on the pic for a large version of the model sheet.
Welcome to a new feature that we’re introducing here in 2006: the Cartoon Brew Film of the Week. Every week Jerry and I will highlight an animated short, music video or commercial that we feel deserves to be seen by a wider audience. The Internet has truly revolutionized the world of animation, and whereas once upon a time, one had to travel to animation festivals to see such films, today everybody can experience the world’s greatest animation from the comfort of one’s own home or office. We want to make sure that the cream of the crop independent animated films are recognized and given the attention they deserve, so we’re going to make our best effort to offer one exemplary piece of animation here every week. And we promise, only the good stuff on Cartoon Brew. If you have your own film that you feel should be the Cartoon Brew Film of the Week, please drop us a line.
Our first film sets the bar for quality extremely high. It’s an exquisite 8-1/2 minute short from France called LES AILES DU PAPILLON (THE WINGS OF THE BUTTERFLY) by 24-year-old Benjamin Gibeaux. Over the last seven months, he single-handedly wrote, animated and directed the film, as well as composed its music, and he just finished it last week.
It’s a sweet and charming story on the surface, but the light tone masks some surprisingly deep political undertones. I personally read it as an allegorical tale of what happens when one country invades another for its own selfish reasons, but does so under the pretenses of helping that other country’s people. However you choose to read it though, there’s no mistaking that the artwork is superb. Color is used in an elegant and sensitive manner, the animation is spare but effective, and the loose calligraphic quality of the drawings remind me at turns of Ludwig Bemelmans, Matisse, and André François.
Benjamin Gibeaux is an artist to watch and I can’t wait to see what he comes up with next. You can see more of his work at Imagique.net.
(via Llámame Lola)
Animator/director Joel Brinkerhoff emailed me with a couple of his recent historical discoveries that he wanted to share. I thought they were both interesting observations and worthy of further debate, so here they are:
Many know the German humorist Wilhelm Busch (1832-1908) to be the inspiration for the comic strip creation of “The Katzenjammer Kids.” I suspect he also may have fathered the outrageous ‘takes’ and gags of the Avery’s and Clampett’s. The accompanying image shows examples of the steamroller pancake gag, the rubber hose body, and very interesting ‘takes’ involving enlarged organs, morphing, multiple appendages, and smearing–all forty years before animation introduced them to a new audience.
(click on image for larger version)
Undisputedly Chuck Jones and Michael Maltese created the 1953 classic cartoon “Duck Amuck,” but the ideas and comic bits were around for a long time before they brought them to new light. The springboard seems to be Buster Keaton’s 1924 masterpiece “Sherlock Jr.” In it we find the continuity gags of changing backgrounds and props pulled and replaced. Next, a very specific split-frame gag can be traced to an obscure 1941 Ole Olsen and Chic Johnson adaptation of the play “Hellzapoppin.” Director H.C. Potter continually broke the fourth wall in this self-referencing farce, and created a projectionist joke where the film became stuck with the framing splitting the screen. The characters comment on their condition before the supposed projectionist can make the correction, twelve years before Daffy found himself in the same situation.
UPDATE: Another fine animator/director – Steve Segal – offers some thoughts about the DUCK AMUCK entry:
Thank you for the insightful treatise on “Duck Amuck.” Any discussion that brings attention to “Sherlock Jr.” is OK with me. In a sense, the earliest animations broke the fourth wall since the early chalk talk animations showed the animator’s hand. That was followed by Fleischer’s Inkwell series, where the animator is as visible as the toon, plus Koko and Bimbo can be seen having heated discussions with the animator. Another early cartoon that seems to echo Jones’ classic is “Comicalamities” (1928) where Felix argues with the animator and talks him into making his girlfriend cuter.
Here’s the most intriguing 2006 animated film I’ve heard about. Actually, it’s the only intriguing 2006 film I’ve heard about, but that’s another story. RENAISSANCE is a French feature directed by Christian Volckman that’s scheduled for release in March 2006. It looks to be in a noirish sci-fi vein and is entirely in black-and-white. I’m assuming March is the French release date, but a quick search on Google reveals that the North American distributor is (believe it or not) Disney so perhaps we’ll be seeing this film soon in the states. I’d never heard of Christian Volckman, but apparently he directed a well received short film in the late-90s called MAAZ. There’s a bit more about him and a clip from MAAZ posted at AWN.
Here’s the big question mark. The film’s character animation was created using motion capture techniques. Fortunately, unlike some awful uses of mo-cap, like Robert Zemeckis’s performance capture characters in THE POLAR EXPRESS, the production design here seems to be sufficiently stylized enough to mask the look of the technology. It’s a little difficult to tell from such a small sampling of animation, but there’s reason to be hopeful. There’s also some more clips and information about the film posted at Twitch.
(Thanks, Gérald Guerlais)
This is hands-down the funniest John Kricfalusi interview I’ve ever seen. It’s not funny because of what he says, but rather because the Canadian TV program for which this interview was done decided to create a Flash animated version of John (above) to deliver his words. There is no better example of irony than to see an incompetently drawn, awfully animated John talking about how people can’t draw worth a damn today. At least nobody can say he’s wrong this time.
DoCopenhagen offers a list of their top 50 music videos of last year. Lots of solid animation on their list including works by Pat Smith, Joel Trussell and Passion Pictures.
I recently did a short email interview with TV SQUAD’s Adam Finley about my forthcoming Chronicle book CARTOON MODERN. The chat is now posted up at their site HERE.
An insightful article posted at ANIMATION WORLD MAGAZINE titled “Development Execs: Who They Are and How They Got There.” A more appropriate title might have been, “Development Execs: If They Can Do It, Anybody Can Do It.”I kid, I kid…I love them all.
A quote from animation producer Larry Kasanoff, founder of Threshold Entertainment, explaining why he can produce CG films faster and cheaper than the major studios:
Animation is the only part of film production where quality is going up while costs are going down.
I was going to argue with his statement (made in this recent FAST COMPANY article) but then I saw these stills from Kasanoff’s first feature FOODFIGHT! that eloquently illustrate the surging upward quality in low-budget CG animation. Jobs and Katzenberg must surely be tossing and turning in their beds tonight.
There is little doubt in my mind that Kasanoff is on the fast track to animation success. The same FAST COMPANY article reveals that Kasanoff even borrowed a classic Orson Welles technique to come up with the idea for FOODFIGHT!: he put one of his colleagues in his car and said, “We’re going to drive around Santa Monica until we come up with an idea for a movie.” Correct me if I’m wrong, but I’m pretty sure that’s how Welles conceived THE MAGNIFICENT AMBERSONS. And I’m predicting FOODFIGHT! will be another instant classic, if not on a par with the AMBERSONS, then at least with HOODWINKED.