“It was with much sadness that we informed our teams today of changes to our Games organization, which include the closure of Junction Point Studios. These changes are part of our ongoing effort to address the fast-evolving gaming platforms and marketplace and to align resources against our key priorities. We’re extremely grateful to Warren Spector and the Junction Point team for their creative contributions to Disney with Disney Epic Mickey and Disney Epic Mickey 2.”
Spector will no longer be involved with Disney. The Disney Company announced earlier this month that they were developing a new gaming initiative called Disney Infinity.
The Flintstones (1960) have been duly celebrated throughout the years, but one part of the Hanna-Barbera series that hasn’t received much attention is its iconic architectural setting: those brilliantly appealing and organic circular ranch houses topped with pancaked granite slabs.
The designer of the prehistoric Flintstones universe was a man named Ed Benedict (1912-2006), the same man who designed the show’s characters.
Benedict dreamt up the Flintstones homes almost entirely from imagination. He was once asked if he used any reference to design them. He replied, “No, with the exception of on the interior of one of the samples I made, I did look up some prehistoric stuff—cave paintings. I just looked up in there and got the old typical buffalo looking thing running across a wall, just to get the flavor of it.”
Benedict had had a bit of practice with the Stone Age setting. He had designed cavemen and cavehomes once before for the 1955 Tex Avery short The First Bad Man:
The cave homes in The First Bad Man, built into the sides of rock formations, look uncomfortable compared to the domesticated setting of the Flintstones, replete with garages, front yards with flower beds, swimming pools, and living rooms with couches. Benedict probably didn’t come up with the original idea of giving the Flintstones all the creature comforts of suburbia, but the credit for making the idea work visually belongs to him.
The Flintstones designs in the image gallery below were created by Benedict for the original network presentation. These pieces established the general look and feel of the Flintstones universe and served as a guide for the layout artists who built out the world in each episode. A rare photographic print set of these drawings is currently being auctioned on HowardLowery.com.
Remaking a hand-drawn cartoon in CGI is essentially an animation executive’s way of admitting that they don’t have an original idea to save their life. There are exceptions to the rule though. For example, this Lion King CG remake by Brian (aka Bryko).
A clearer picture of Brad Bird’s next live-action feature film project is starting to emerge. Described as a Close Encounters Of The Third Kind-esque project about a man who makes contact with aliens on Earth, the film’s official title was revealed today as Tomorrowland, a not-so-subtle tie-in to another part of the Disney empire:
The Walt Disney Studios has announced that its live-action release previously known as 1952 will be titled Tomorrowland. The film will be released domestically on December 19, 2014. George Clooney is set to star. Tomorrowland is written by Damon Lindelof and Brad Bird from a concept by Lindelof and Jeff Jensen. Lindelof (Star Trek, Lost, Prometheus) will produce and Bird (The Incredibles, Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol) will produce and direct.
On January 28, 1986, NASA Challenger mission STS-51-L ended in tragedy when the shuttle exploded 73 seconds after takeoff. On board was physicist Ronald E. McNair, who was the second African American to enter space. But first, he was a kid with big dreams in Lake City, South Carolina.
Directed by the Rauch Brothers
Storyboard: Stephen DeStefano
Animation: Tim Rauch
Assistant Animation: Erica Perez
Backgrounds: Bill Wray
FX and Compositing: Gary Leib
One could be forgiven though for being unfamiliar with his career because the amount of Newton’s work that has made it to the screen is a fraction of what he’s produced throughout the years. He is probably best known today for directing the hybrid drawn/CG Pixar short Day and Night.
But Newton, who has worked at Pixar for over a decade, has also done character design on the short Presto, designed the end credits of Ratatouille, and provided voices on films like Toy Story 3 and WALL·E. He once described his role at the company as being “like a spice that you don’t put too much in.” His most significant animation contribution has been to the Brad Bird feature The Incredibles (and prior to that, The Iron Giant) for which he provided conceptual ideas, character designs and storyboards.
Newton’s notoriety stems in part from his unreleased work (like his faux-animation documentary The Studio of Tomorrow), his unused gags (legend has it that at Disney he once pitched a story sequence with Pocahontas having her time of the month), and his personal work, which includes the feature film The Trouble with Lou:
and the short Boys Night Out:
On this new project, Teddy is working with screenwriter Derek Connolly, who wrote last year’s well received indie film Safety Not Guaranteed. With Newton at the director’s helm, there is every reason to anticipate an exciting and original film. But there is also an inherent risk in asking a highly individual artist to package their style and sensibility for the creativity-inhibiting world of big-studio feature animation.
While flipping through some old files, I found a 1996 issue of Variety with a spotlight on Pixar. The issue featured a congratulatory ad from Teddy Newton. It was made years before he started working at Pixar, at a time when he was involved in an indie outfit called O’Plenty Animation Studio. The ad features a drawing by Newton riffing on the only film that Pixar had made at that point, Toy Story. As I look at this drawing, all I can hope is that Newton finds a way to merge his creative instincts with the Pixar style in a manner that pleases everyone.
UPDATE: Brew reader M. R. Horhager points us to this DVD featurette about Teddy Newton’s work on The Iron Giant:
Cartoon Network has unveiled a poster for Steven Universe, the new animated series by Rebecca Sugar:
Slated to debut in 2013, Steven Universe is a coming-of-age story told from the perspective of Steven, the youngest member of a team of magical Guardians of the Universe. The animated series was conceived as part of the shorts development initiative at Cartoon Network Studios, and is created by Emmy and Annie Award-nominated writer and storyboard artist Rebecca Sugar (Adventure Time). Sugar is Cartoon Network’s first solo female show creator.
Now, imagine the Oscars if they were presented in French and no one cared about them.
That’s the César Awards, which are presented annually by France’s Academy of Arts and Techniques of Cinema.
Last Friday, the organization announced the nominations for the 38th César Awards, which will be presented on February 22nd. They have an animation category that lumps features and shorts together, but in spite of this quirk, they managed to come up with five deserving nominees:
Edmond Was a Donkey directed by Franck Dion
Oh Willy… directed by Emma De Swaef and Marc James Roels
Ernest and Celestine directed by Benjamin Renner, Vincent Patar and Stéphane Aubier
Kirikou and the Men and Women directed by Michel Ocelot
Zarafa directed by Rémi Bezançon and Jean-Christophe Lie
“Over You” is a music video clip originally made for the song “Nobody’s Fool” by Parov Stelar. The Berlin-based musician Michal Krajczok wrote and produced his song “Over You” especially for this video, featuring the voice of Larissa Blau. The video is directed, designed and animated by Drushba Pankow (Alexandra Kardinar and Volker Schlecht), with additional animation by Maxim Vassiliev.
Cantaloupe are a synth-guitar/bass-drums trio from Nottingham, UK, formed in January 2011. Drawing influences from Afro-pop to Krautrock to the avant garde, who aim to make infectuous and thoroughly pleasing instrumental pop music.
Glen Keane presented an animation demo at CalArts last weekend. Part of his talk, in which he animates a dance, was captured on video and posted online. The people who attended the lecture in person had to pay $40,000 a year for that privilege. We give it to you for free on Cartoon Brew.
Wednesday, February 27: A screening of Who Framed Roger Rabbit on 35mm. (It is the film’s 25th anniversary this year.)
Thursday, February 28: An evening of Richard Williams rarities including his ambitious early short The Little Island (1958). The program will be introduced by NY animation director (and former Williams employee) Michael Sporn.
Friday, March 1: A screening of the fantastic new documentary Persistence of Vision, about Williams’ decades-long attempt to create his personal masterpiece The Thief and the Cobbler. I’ll be hosting a discussion with the director of the documentary, Kevin Schreck, after the 7pm screening.
92Y Tribeca is located in Manhattan (200 Hudson Street, NY, NY 10013). Tickets for each screening are $12 and available on the 92Y Tribeca website.
We’re extremely delighted to announce today that the winner of Cartoon Brew’s 2012 Student Animation Festival AUDIENCE PRIZE is Money Bunny Blues by Ellen Coons. The award was voted by Cartoon Brew readers who participated in a poll earlier this month. (We audited the poll and eliminated any IP that voted multipled times.) Ellen’s film was created at Detroit’s College for Creative Studies. She will receive $500, in addition to the money she already earned for being a part of our Student Festival.
The Cartoon Brew Student Animation Festival is made possible by the generosity of our presenting sponsor JibJab.
Besides his obvious importance in West Coast art, Foulkes has a fascinating animation connection: he became Ward Kimball’s son-in-law when he married Ward’s oldest daughter, Kelly, in 1960. The marriage didn’t last, but Ward had a lasting impact on Foulkes.
Most curiously, Ward inadvertently turned Foulkes into a vehement opponent of Mickey Mouse. Foulkes’ unflattering depictions of Mickey have appeared in his work for decades and serve as a broader commentary on the ways that corporations condition and influence consumers through benign Pop symbols. The press notes for the Hammer exhibit tell more of the story:
In the late 1970s Foulkes’s former father-in-law Ward Kimball (one of the head animators at Disney Studios) gave him a copy of the Mickey Mouse Club Handbook from 1934, and Foulkes read the letter inside detailing how the club would teach children to be well-behaved, polite citizens. Dismayed by Disney’s attempts at brainwashing, Foulkes developed a skepticism and distrust that have remained with him ever since. A few years later he began to take his paintings in a new direction, and Mickey Mouse became a recurring character. The seminal work “Made in Hollywood” (1983) features a copy of the letter from the Mickey Mouse Club Handbook.
Llyn Foulkes photo by Ward Kimball, 1962. (And yes, that’s a dead cat in the painting behind him.)
I interviewed Llyn when I was researching my biography of Ward Kimball, and my book touches on the relationship between Ward and Llyn. Llyn’s success as a fine artist in the early-Sixties was a big inspiration to Ward, who began pursuing his kinetic art seriously around the same time. Despite a big difference in age, Kimball and Foulkes got along well and shared a similar set of hobbies. Notably, Foulkes, in addition to being a painter, is also a musician, and he plays a self-built one-man musical instrument called the Machine:
Here’s the description of the Hammer show followed by some more images:
The Hammer Museum presents an extensive career retrospective devoted to the work of the groundbreaking painter and musician Llyn Foulkes (b. 1934 in Yakima, Washington), on view from February 3 to May 19, 2013. One of the most influential yet under recognized artists of his generation, Foulkes makes work that stands out for its raw, immediate, and unfiltered qualities. His extraordinarily diverse body of work—including impeccably painted landscapes, mixed-media constructions, deeply disturbing portraits, and narrative tableaux—resists categorization and defies expectations, distinguishing Foulkes as a truly singular artist.
LLYN FOULKES is organized by Hammer curator Ali Subotnick and will feature approximately 140 artworks from public and private collections in the U.S. and Europe, some of which have not been seen for decades. The exhibition will explore the entire scope of the artist’s career, including early cartoons and drawings, his macabre, emotionally-charged paintings of the early 1960s; his epic rock and postcard paintings of the late 1960s and early 1970s; his “bloody head” series of mutilated figures from the late 1970s through the present; his social commentary paintings targeting corporate America (especially Disney), which include his remarkable narrative tableaux that combine painting with woodworking, found materials, and thick mounds of modeling paste, seamlessly blended into the painted surface to create a remarkable illusion of depth. The show will also feature a video of Foulkes playing his Machine, a one-man instrument consisting of horns, bass, organ pipes, percussion and more. LLYN FOULKES will be accompanied by a fully-illustrated catalogue including essays by novelist and art critic Jim Lewis, writer Jason Weiss, and curator Ali Subotnick.
Jam Session at Ward Kimball’s home in 1973: Top row, from left to right: John Kimball, Al Dodge, George Probert, Robert Crumb, Ward Kimball. Bottom row, from left to right: Robert Armstrong, Spencer Quinn, Llyn Foulkes (on drums).
Kelly Kimball and Llyn Foulkes with their daughter, Laurey. Photo by Ward Kimball, 1962.
Wedding cake toppers that Ward designed for Llyn and Kelly’s wedding, 1960.
Here’s the SpongeBob XXX parody no one asked for…but everyone will probably watch: SpongeKnob SquareNuts. The Brew likes to keep things classy so we’re only linking to the SFW trailer. You perverts who want to see a sponge and a squirrel go at it will have to find the whole thing on your own.