It’s an international trailer. Watch it at WorstPreviews.com.
It’s an international trailer. Watch it at WorstPreviews.com.
Disney has kept The Sweatbox locked out of sight for the past decade, but the 2002 documentary was posted online yesterday by an eighteen-year-old cartoonist in the UK. First, a little background on the film from Wade Sampson:
In 1997, musical performer and composer Sting was asked by the Walt Disney Company to write the music for a new animated feature called Kingdom of the Sun. It was to be directed by Roger Allers who was basking in the success of his work on The Lion King. Sting agreed, on the condition that his wife, filmmaker Trudie Styler, could document the process of the production with their own production company, Xingu Films…Sting’s wife was given unlimited access when it came to Production No. 1331 (aka “Kingdom”). She and her camera sat in on story meetings for the movie, rolled while actors auditioned as well as taping Sting while he recorded the score. No one expected two years into the production, it would shift direction drastically.
The Sweatbox is at turns infuriating, hilarious and enlightening. You’ll cringe in sympathy with the Disney artists as you see the gross bureaucratic incompetence they had to endure while working at the studio in the 1990s. The film not only captures the tortured morphing of the Kingdom of the Sun into The Emperor’s New Groove, it also serves as an invaluable historical document about Disney’s animation operations in the late-1990s. If any questions remain about why Disney fizzled out creatively and surrendered its feature animation crown to Pixar and DreamWorks, this film will answer them.
UPDATE: I just checked another copy of the film and it appears that the version of The Sweatbox posted on YouTube is an earlier cut of the film. The final theatrical version was 86 minutes long with a significantly different opening. I haven’t watched both side-by-side to draw further comparisons between these two versions.
Discussions of government tax subsidies tend to be fairly dry affairs, unless they involve Wallace and Gromit:
Aardman Animations, the studio behind Wallace and Gromit, Arthur Christmas and the upcoming The Pirates! Band of Misfits, had earlier threatened to leave the UK if it did not receive a tax break for TV productions. It would follow in the footsteps of other UK TV producers who had already left the country, including Bob the Builder (now produced in the US), Thomas the Tank Engine in Canada and Noddy in Ireland. The new corporate tax relief scheme announced this week will benefit UK-based TV animation studios as well as video game production companies. You can read more about what this means at the Guardian website.
To fully appreciate Opus III by German filmmaker Walter Ruttman, it’s worth it to first look at a typical cartoon from 1924, such as this one:
Now, here is Ruttman’s short from the same year:
This is not to claim that Ruttmann’s short is better. Rather, it’s an illustration of how abstract animation doesn’t become dated as quickly as representational animation because its creation is not predicated upon the stylistic trappings of its era. Eighty-eight years separate Ruttmann’s work from animation today, but the graphic forms used in his film are the same building blocks–raw and unadorned–used by artists today.
A largely neglected figure in animation history, Ruttmann’s work influenced many who followed him, including Oskar Fischinger, Hans Richter and Norman McLaren. He holds the distinction of being the first filmmaker to publicly screen an abstract animated short–it was on April 27, 1921 when he presented Lichtspiel Opus 1 in Berlin’s Marmorhaus. Fischinger was in attendance at the theater that evening.
Shortly after he made the short Opus III, he animated on Lotte Reiniger’s The Adventures of Prince Achmed, which was the first European animated feature. Reiniger said of Ruttman: “[He] invented and created wonderful movements for the magic events, fire, volcanoes, [and] battles of good and evil spirits.” Ruttman also made significant live action films, such as Berlin: Symphony of a Great City (1927).
Ruttmann’s personal history is fascinating and far too complex to be covered in such brief space. A trained architect and painter, he worked as a graphic designer prior to becoming involved with film. He fought in WWI, suffered a nervous breakdown and spent time recovering in a sanatorium. Historian Giannalberto Bendazzi labeled him a “contradictory intellectual” because he was “a follower of the left [who] later unconditionally supported Hitler.” Indeed, Ruttmann was involved in the production of Leni Riefenstahl’s propaganda film Triumph of the Will in 1935. He died in July, 1941, from wounds suffered on the front lines as a war photographer.
UPDATE: Stephen has followed this post with an excellent write-up about Opus III that places Ruttmann’s work in the context of art history and painting.
(Hat tip, @FezFilms)
* Oriental DreamWorks, the joint venture between DreamWorks and a consortium of Chinese investors, has announced that its first feature will be released in 2016. Katzenberg is in Shanghai this week reviewing at least seven different film proposals vying to be the studio’s first feature. The studio plans to “closely link elements of Chinese history, culture and literature in its various productions.” More details in this news article.
* Craig McCracken (The Powerpuff Girls, Foster’s Home for Imaginary Friends) is comign back to TV with a new TV series called Wander Over Yonder for the Disney Channel. The Disney TV Animation-produced show, scheduled for the 2012-13 season, is about:
Wander is an overly-optimistic intergalactic traveler who, along with his loyal but bullish steed, Sylvia, goes from planet to planet helping people to live free and have fun, all against the evil reign of Lord Hater and his army of Watchdogs.
* Composer Alan Menken (The Little Mermaid, Beauty and the Beast, Aladdin) talked animation in the Wall Street Journal:
What do you think of the shift in animated film earnestness to irony?
Menken: Ironic is OK. You can have a Sebastian [the crab in The Little Mermaid], as you can have a Jiminy Cricket. They can be adult and smart. However, they can’t be culturally or morally subversive, in that Disney sensibility. Rango and things like that are edgier. In general, the animated medium lends itself to a sweetness.
Do you personally connect to that?
Menken: I first appreciated that medium back in the 1980s when the AIDS crisis had hit full force and everybody–my gay collaborators and friends–was dying. I was so scared for my daughter, Anna, and the only thing that could soothe me was those Disney animated films that were coming out on VHS. It was so safe.
* How did I miss the news that Glenn Beck’s online network GBTV is currently developing an animated comedy series with Icebox. Yes, that Icebox. A lot of readers may be too young to remember Icebox.com, but they were among the more notorious animation dot-com busts in the late-1990s and a punchline for jokes about what happens when sitcom writers try to make funny cartoons.
Read UPDATES at bottom of the piece.
When I speak to indie filmmakers, there’s always a lot of confusion about the potential money that can be earned by posting shorts on the Internet, especially by posting them onto YouTube. An article in last month’s Wall Street Journal shed some much needed light on the situation. The article said that those who join YouTube’s Partner Program receive between $1,500 and $4,500(US) for every million video views. The wide variance in price is attributed to the country and platform where the video is viewed.
According to YouTube, they had 30,000 partners in 2011, up from 20,000 in 2010. “Several hundred” of those partners made more than $100,000, which is an 80% increase from the “couple of hundred” partners who achieved the six-figure earnings mark in 2010. Using that data, I think it would be fair to guess that they have at least 350 people earning six-figures, or slightly over 1% of their YouTube Partners.
Using the numbers above, I decided to figure out what some of the most successful animators on YouTube are making. I’ve shared the numbers below, which are not yearly earnings, but based on the total number of views the filmmaker has received. Considering how difficult it is to make money with animated shorts, the numbers are fairly impressive, especially if viewed as a single revenue stream as part of a larger plan that includes broadcast sales to foreign TV channels, merchandising, dvd sales, digital downloads, and so forth.
It’s also impressive that many of the most successful animators on YouTube are young filmmakers whose reputations were established exclusively online. Another important point to consider is that all of these animators have dozens of films posted on their channel. There are no examples yet of people earning this kind of money from just a handful of films. Simon’s Cat has the least videos of any of the channels below, with only twenty.
Animation Filmmaker Earnings on YouTube
29.3 million video views (as of Mar. 19, 2012)
Estimated total earnings based on views: $43,950 – $131,850
36.3 million video views
Estimated total earnings based on views: $54,450 – $163,350
66.7 million video views
Estimated total earnings based on views: $100,050 – $300,150
74.4 million video views
Estimated total earnings based on views: $111,600 – $334,800
102.4 million video views
Estimated total earnings based on views: $153,600 – $460,800
FilmCow (aka Charlie the Unicorn)
227.3 million video views
Estimated total earnings based on views: $340,950 – $1,022,850
232.3 million video views
Estimated total earnings based on views: $348,450 – $1,045,350
Daneboe (aka The Annoying Orange)
628.8 million video views
Estimated total earnings based on views: $943,200 – $2,829,600
UPDATE (9:53pm ET): Since this piece was published, I’ve been in contact with Harry Partridge, one of the filmmakers whose estimated earnings were posted above. He posted a comment on Twitter that said in part, “I don’t make anywhere near half of their lowest ballpark. Crazy.” When he posted that comment on Twitter, he assumed that I was talking about yearly earnings. We cleared up that I was referring to total earnings based on the number of pageviews listed above, NOT yearly earnings.
Harry also provided some ballpark figures for what he’s made from YouTube since 2009. The numbers turned out to be slightly more than half of the lowest estimated earning, which means he has been earning a more modest $750-800 per million pageviews instead of the $1,500-$4,500 claimed in the Wall Street Journal piece. More recently, he has joined with Channelflip, which he says pays him more annually than YouTube, but which is still a relatively modest sum. However, I should point out that I have confirmed with other filmmakers that they have earned the higher figures listed in the WSJ piece so there are apparently wide gaps between what different filmmakers earn. The lack of transparency in YouTube’s payments to its partners is a great reason to be having this discussion and leveling the playing field for filmmakers who are thinking of posting their work on that platform.
UPDATE #2: Harry pointed out that though the videos were posted beginning in 2006, YouTube started paying out in 2009. I’ve updated the above to reflect that the earning period has been the last three years. He also writes, “Overall I’m not bothered by the article now it states that these are total earnings, my concerns about it arose from the fact that I thought it was yearly.”
UPDATE #3: Filmmaker Cyriak wrote a comment below in which he says that he hasn’t monetized most of his video vieww as part of YouTube’s Partner Program. He says that his most recent earnings have been in the range of $600 per million video views.
If you think Google only hires scientists, engineers and geniuses of the highest order, fear not, they also hire cartoonists. We don’t typically post job listings (maybe we should), but this one is too good to pass up. Google’s Doodle team informs us that they’re currently looking for more in-house Doodlers, particularly those with strong animation experience. The job entails working on the charming and quirky doodles that appear on Google’s front page everyday. The biggest perk, besides working at Google, is that it’s easily the most high-profile animation gig in the world, with a guaranteed audience of hundreds of millions for anything you create.
The Bay Area gig requires a BFA or 4 years of relevant experience. Here’s the link to the job listing, the requirements of which are posted below:
The area: User Experience
One of the many reasons Google consistently brings innovative, world-changing products to market is because of the collaborative work we do in Product Management. With eyes focused squarely on the future, our team works closely with creative and prolific engineers to help design and develop technologies that improve access to the world’s information. We’re responsible for guiding products throughout the execution cycle, focusing specifically on analyzing, positioning, packaging, promoting and tailoring our solutions to all the markets where Google does business.
The role: Doodler
First impressions matter. Every day, hundreds of millions of online users visit the Google homepage. Yes, to search. But also, to be delighted, informed, and surprised (And maybe even to laugh a little). The Google Doodle makes this possible — it’s the change that is constant on Google.com. As a Product Graphic Designer/Illustrator, more commonly known as a “Doodler,” you have the world’s best platform to showcase your stylistic skills — as well as your sense of humor, love of all things historical and imaginative artistry. From Jules Verne to Pac-Man, you have the reins to our brand and iconic logo and can run free with your innovative ideas. Go forth and doodle!
* Draw, design, and/or animate the highly visible Google homepage doodles.
* Come up with consistently excellent creative ideas within the constraints of the our logo.
* Manage complex collaborative projects from idea, to executive pitches, to final execution in a fast-paced environment.
* Design illustrations both digitally and traditionally and in a wide range of artistic styles with great attention to detail.
* BFA. In lieu of degree, 4 years of relevant experience.
* Freehand illustration skills and a wide range of artistic styles.
* Ability to translate conceptual direction into amazing works of art.
* Ability to work collaboratively and apply creative feedback in a team environment.
* Comfort with digital and traditional media.
* Knowledge of animation fundamentals.
* Online portfolio/reel.
In a rare trifecta, animation artists ruled the top three spots at the box office this weekend. The number one spot, with an estimated $35 million, belonged to the TV adaptation of 21 Jump Street. It heralded the live-action feature directing debut of Phil Lord and Chris Miller, who were the co-creators of MTV/Teletoon’s Clone High and the directors of Sony’s Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs. Second place went to Illumination Entetainment’s The Lorax which earned an estimated $22.8M in its third weekend, pushing its total to a robust $158.4M. Rounding out the top three was Andrew Stanton’s John Carter, which dropped 55% from its first weekend to an estimated $13.5M. The Disney film’s two-week total stands at $53.2M and is headed to a final domestic tally of $90-100M. More box office numbers can be found at Box Office Mojo.
As Ward Kimball‘s biographer, I am obligated to share with you this post on Progress City, U. S. A. that talks about the time Ward oversaw the animation of John Carter of Mars as part of his TV special Mars and Beyond.
It’s a matter of personal taste whether you prefer Ward Kimball’s vision of a thoat:
Or Andrew Stanton’s vision of a thoat:
THANKS TO ALL WHO ENTERED! We’ll do a random drawing and post the results in the comments section sometime on Saturday afternoon.
I intended to do a giveaway of my latest book last November, but the first printing sold out before we could even consider that. Now with the second printing out, we can finally host a proper giveaway. So today we’re handing out FOUR copies of The Art of Pixar: The Complete Color Scripts and Select Art from 25 Years of Animation:
Over the past 25 years, Pixar’s team of artists, writers, and directors have shaped the world of contemporary animation with their feature films and shorts. From classics such as Toy Story and A Bug’s Life to recent masterpieces such as Up, Toy Story 3, and WALLÂ·E, this comprehensive collection offers a behind-the-scenes tour of every Pixar film to date. Featuring a foreword by Chief Creative Officer John Lasseter, the complete color scripts for every film–published in full for the first time–as well as stunning visual development art, The Art of Pixar is a treasure trove of rare artwork and an essential addition to the library of animation fans and Pixar enthusiasts.
To enter, just post a comment below. Writing “I love Amid” in the body of the comment won’t improve your chances of winning, but it may enhance my sense of self-worth. Contest will close tonight at midnight (ET).
Rules: Contest is open only to residents of the United States. Do not submit multiple entries or you will be disqualified. You must leave your correct email address in the e-mail field of the comment, otherwise you can’t be contacted if you win. (Your email address will not be publicly visible).
Watch this short clip from Super Best Friends Forever, the new project by Lauren Faust, creator of My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic. Faust’s short series debuts tomorrow morning as part of Cartooon Network’s DC Nation block.
(via Super Punch)
SXSW Interactive Art Award for BLA BLA by Vincent Morisset (NFB) at South by Southwest Festival
BLA BLA also wins an Entertainment Award at the annual Communication Arts Interactive Competition
Montreal, March 15, 2012 — Vincent Morisset’s interactive work BLA BLA, produced at the National Film Board of Canada (NFB), took the SXSW Interactive Award for Art at the prestigious South by Southwest Festival held in Austin, Texas. Earlier this week, BLA BLA was one of the winners of an Entertainment Award in the annual Communication Arts Interactive Competition, held by one of the best-known US magazines dedicated to graphic arts, advertising and design.
BLA BLA by Vincent Morisset, a Quebec filmmaker and interactivity pioneer who is world-renowned for his work with the band Arcade Fire, is a unique adventure determined by the interaction between the viewer and the website. Developed by AATOAA, BLA BLA is produced by Hugues Sweeney of the NFB. You can play it over (and over and over) at nfb.ca/blabla.
The Box: Poltergeist is a delighful throwback to older animated films where personality animation and movement itself were often the source of entertainment. The film, the first in a proposed series by Milan-based Dadomani Studio, barely has a setup. For a three-minute short though, I’m perfectly happy with “a man and his dog watch TV.” What makes The Box special is how the filmmaker and animator present the gags and thoughts of the characters through a purely visual language. They uncover a surprisingly full range of motion (and emotion) for characters that one would expect to have a limited range because of their design. It’s quite an accomplishment, not to mention great fun to watch.
Idea, Production, Animation supervision, Direction: Dadomani Studio
Screenplay: Stefano Armeni
Director of photography: Patrizio SaccÃ²
Animation: Dario Imbrogno
Sound: Enrico Ascoli
Fluid simulation: Dario Cavaliere
TED, the nonprofit that presents “idea” conferences around the world, announced an intriguing new initiative yesterday: TED-Ed. Its goal, described in the video above, is to pair educators with animators, and create a series of lesson-based animated shorts aimed at teachers and high school students. Here’s an example of one of the lessons:
The Next Web has more info about plans for TED-Ed. The program officially launches next month, and they’re already soliciting reel submissions from animators. No word on what type of budgets they offer to filmmakers, but I’m assuming that filmmakers will be compensated for their labor somehow.
“It’s refreshing to go back to the beginning of Dracula – and then have Adam Sandler put his spin on it.” So says Dexter’s Lab and Samurai Jack creator Genndy Tartakovsky of his first theatrical feature Hotel Transylvania. The troubled Sony Pictures Animation film, which has had at least four directors prior to Genndy, is set to open on September 28. USA Today published these images today along with more details about the film’s story.
(Thanks to all who sent in a link to the images.)
Fifteen years in the making, Consuming Spirits is a newly completed mixed-media animation feature by Chicago-based Chris Sullivan. The 130-minute film will screen as part of the Tribeca Film Festival between April 23-25. The haunting Midwestern Gothic mood of the trailer drew me right in, and the story appears to have plenty of twists and turns. The description:
Consuming Spirits chronicles the lives of three characters who live in a rust belt town called Magguson, and work at its local newspaper The Daily Suggester. They are: Gentian Violet, 42, Victor Blue, 38, and Earl Gray 64, first appear to be acquaintances. But as the film unfolds, we find they have a long diabolical history, revolving around social service intervention, and foster care, romance and hatred. Each character has family secrets to hide, and family secrets to discover. An auto accident one dark and inebriated night, causes a crack in the memory vault of these intimate strangers. By films end, all parties walk from the woods, both healed and wounded.
(Thanks, Jacob Angelo)
There’s something to be said for running a cartoon studio in a place where animation production isn’t commonplace. To celebrate the Animated Short Oscar for The Fantastic Flying Books of Mr. Morris Lessmore, the city of Shreveport, Louisiana threw an extravagant parade for Moonbot Studios and the film’s directors Bill Joyce and Brandon Oldenburg. Here’s a few perks you get if you win an Oscar in Louisiana that you probably won’t get in other places:
A free ride in a banana-colored convertible
A marching band
A customized battle tank plus confetti
A decorated street-cleaning machine
Acknowledgment from celebrities like Randal Reeder
Custom-designed moon pies
Balloons with flying books
The adulation of children
And, of course, women
(via Big Screen Animation)
Indie animator PES (pictured above) moved from New York to Los Angeles a couple years back to fulfill his ambition to become a feature film director. It didn’t take long. Deadline Hollywood broke the story this afternoon that PES has been tapped to direct a feature film based on the Eighties fad Garbage Pail Kids.
The news is significant, representing not only a career shift for PES–best known for animated shorts like Roof Sex and Western Spaghetti as well as a slew of award-winning TV commercials–but also because it heralds the return of former Disney CEO Michael Eisner to feature filmmaking (at least on the financing side). Deadline reported that “Michael Eisner’s The Tornante Company will finance and produce the development of a feature film. . .Eisner bought the card company in 2007 and this is his first feature spinoff project.” Michael Vukadinovich will write the script and Toby Ascher will produce.
While neither the name Eisner nor “Garbage Pail Kids” instill much confidence, the real story here is PES’s involvement. He has proven himself time and time again as a force for innovative graphic ideas. A quick browse of Cartoon Brew’s archives will reveal some of his creative storytelling abilities (as well as some of his contributions as a guest blogger). I’ll certainly be looking forward to see what PES does with his first feature film.
PES’s latest short Fresh Guacamole debuted on YouTube last week:
If you still haven’t had your fill of “Why John Carter Failed” articles, then don’t miss New York Magazine‘s lengthy read “The Inside Story of How John Carter Was Doomed by Its First Trailer.” The piece goes to excruciating lengths to absolve Disney marketing of any wrongdoing over the film’s US box office performance, and lays the blame squarely at the feet of Andrew Stanton:
While this kind of implosion usually ends in a director simmering in rage at the studio marketing department that doomed his or her movie, Vulture has learned that it was in fact John Carter director Andrew Stanton – powerful enough from his Pixar hits that he could demand creative control over trailers – who commandeered the early campaign, overriding the Disney marketing execs who begged him to go in a different direction.
The article, juicy as it is, should be taken with a grain of salt. Much of the information in the article appears to be sourced from public statements by Stanton, and only one anonymous “Disney marketing insider” is identified as having been interviewed. There are factual errors too that made me question the piece’s accuracy–the writer claims that Disney marketing approached the New Yorker in September 2011 to profile Stanton, when in fact, if you read the New Yorker piece, the writer of that piece said he’d been working on it since April 2011. At best, NY Mag‘s takedown offers one version of how the film’s marketing plan derailed. The real story is likely far more complex, and won’t be understood until some point in the future.
A more insightful piece is the aforementioned New Yorker profile of Andrew Stanton, which has finally been posted online. Unlike an earlier New Yorker piece about Pixar that left me unimpressed, this profile sheds much light on Stanton’s personality and his collaboration with the lauded Pixar “Braintrust.” In spite of the profile’s positive tone, Stanton comes off as overly self assertive and oblivious to the effect of his comments, like:
“We came on this movie so intimidated: ‘Wow, we’re at the adult table!’ Three months in, I said to my producers, ‘Is it just me, or do we actually know how to do this better than live-action crews do?’ The crew were shocked that they couldn’t overwhelm me, but at Pixar I got used to having to think about everyone else’s problems months before all their pieces would come together, and I learned that I’m just better at communicating and distilling than other people.”
(Illustration by Luis GraÃ±ena)
Who needs the Disney Company! We’ve already got the movie poster for a biopic about Walt Disney so we may as well go ahead and cast the movie. That’s what Cartoon Brew reader Ron Yavnieli did in the comments section yesterday. Below are his novel casting choices for the likes of Roy Disney, Ub Iwerks, Margaret Winkler, Fred Moore, Bill Tytla, Art Babbitt, Frank Thomas, Ollie Johnston and others. Share your dream cast in the comments.
Roy O. Disney :: Joel David Moore
Ub Iwerks :: Tarran Killam
Charles Mintz :: Jeremy Piven
Margaret Winkler :: Samantha Morton
Installing an ant colony in a scanner and scanning it every week doesn’t sound like the ingredients for filmmaking success. But Paris-based FranÃ§ois Vautier managed to uncover the exquisite visual possibilities within that concept. His camera and editing choices push the project from nature documentary into experimental film territory.
Vautier’s description of Ants in My Scanner:
Five years ago, I installed an ant colony inside my old scanner that allowed me to scan in high definition this ever evolving microcosm (animal, vegetable and mineral). The resulting clip is a close-up examination of how these tiny beings live in this unique ant farm. I observed how decay and corrosion slowly but surely invaded the internal organs of the scanner. Nature gradually takes hold of this completely synthetic environment. The ants are still alive: the process will continueâ€¦
An animated film led the US box office for the second week in a row: Illumination Entertainment’s The Lorax dropped 44% from its first week for an estimated earning of $39.1 million. Its two-week total now stands at $122 million, making it the top grossing film of the year to date. It is currently pacing $3.5 million ahead of Illumination’s biggest hit Despicable Me, which went on to earn $251.5 million domestically.
This weekend also saw the debut of John Carter, the first live-action feature from Pixar director Andrew Stanton (WALLÂ·E, Finding Nemo). The megabudget sci-fi film, with a reported production cost of $200-300 million and marketing costs of $100 million, was positioned as Disney’s next “tentpole” property, along the lines of the Pirates of the Carribean franchise. It opened weakly, as expected by most industry observers as well as the Disney studio itself, with an estimated $30.6 million, on a par with the opening for Disney’s Prince of Persia, which opened with $30.1 million. It trailed the debut of last year’s sci-fi Cowboys & Aliens which opened with $36.4 million. The film’s saving grace may be its overseas performance, where it has opened powerfully, especially in Russia, and has already racked up over $70 million.
One can’t even begin to imagine the pressure that Stanton is under, but he hasn’t been particularly graceful in dealing with the film’s critical reception. In interviews, Stanton has been defensive about the film’s budget, and over the weekend, he wrote an oddly worded tweet that blamed moviegoers as “jaded” if they didn’t enjoy his film:
Studio Ghibli’s The Secret World of Arrietty added an extra $402,000 boosting its US total to $17.6 million. It is the fourth highest-grossing anime film ever released in the US, behind only Pokemon: The First Movie, Pokemon: The Movie 2000, and Yu-Gi-Oh! The Movie.
RIP, French comic artist and illustrator Jean “Moebius” Giraud, who has passed away from cancer at the age of 73. This is a good place to begin learning about his work. His best known film design work is in live-action, like The Abyss, Alien, TRON and The Fifth Element, but he also contributed to a number of animation projects including Little Nemo: Adventures in Slumberland, Space Jam and Time Masters (below). He was revered in France where they exhibited his comic art with respect and appreciation.
Moebius influenced many people in our industry. I’ve collected some of the animation community’s reactions on Twitter:
Here’s some fantastic weekend viewing: episodes of Bob Godfrey’s seminal British TV series Do-It-Yourself Film Animation Show. The episode above, broken into multiple parts, features Richard Williams. The rest of the videos are on Charactermation’s YouTube Channel. A few months ago, we also posted Terry Gilliams’ appearance on the show.
(Thanks, Joel Mayer)
It’s no secret that the Walt Disney Company is fiercely protective of its intellectual property, but the law works both ways, and they’ve been accused of wrongdoing almost from the moment that Walt’s company became successful. While researching my upcoming biography of Ward Kimball, I found a reference to a “Mann lawsuit” in his notes from 1940. Ward wrote about how animator Fred Moore had been questioned by Mann’s attorneys, as well as how animator Ham Luske had testified on the stand.
I became curious to learn more about what the lawsuit was all about. The plaintiff was Ned Herbert Mann, a well respected veteran special effects artist who had started his career working with the production designer William Cameron Menzies on The Thief of Bagdad (1924). Mann believed that he had patented an animation process back in 1934 that was similar to Disney’s and he was trying to prove that Walt had traced the mouths of characters off of photostats while producing Snow White. The Disney company was eventually able to prove that the claim was completely baseless and the judge dismissed the case.
The only information I could find online regarding the case was an article from the St. Petersburg Times from June 29, 1940. You can read the entire article below. The article is fascinating, not just for the information it provides about the Mann case, but also because it lists some of the dozens of other cases filed against Disney at the time. According to the Disney studio’s attorney Gunther Lessing, “The trouble seems to be that almost everybody sees one of his brain children somewhere in Disney’s cartoons.” Some of the cases against Disney at the time included:
* Adriana Caselotti, the voice of the character Snow White, had sued Disney because some of the songs she sang had been released as records, and she wanted a share of the record profits. The case was thrown out when Lessing produced a document that proved “she had signed all her rights in her performance to Disney every time she put her signature to her paycheck.”
* A guy in California filed a lawsuit because he claimed that one of the dwarfs used his laugh or “an exact imitation.”
* A woman filed a lawsuit which claimed that while Disney hadn’t copied her words or music, he had infringed on the spiritual feeling of her work.
* A gas station operator in Minnesota claimed he had sold 15 gallons of gas to an animator who was on vacation, and that he had suggested to the artist that the Disney studio produce Pinocchio.
The article also talks about how Disney had sued a biscuit company that was making unauthorized Mickey, Pluto and Horace Horsecollar animal crackers. The Disney company sued for $24 million dollars, but eventually settled out of court for $8,000.
Here’s the entire piece: