I’ve been super busy this week, but had to share this image of a Donald Duck brigade from 1930s Serbia. Who were the people under those masks and what were they thinking? The world will never know. More disturbing imagery can be found on the Disney History blog.
It’s unlikely that you’ll miss this, but for the sake of posterity, let us note that Google’s homepage is celebrating the birth of Gumby and Davey and Goliath creator Art Clokey. Clokey, who passed away last year, would have been 90 years old today.
(Thanks to all who emailed us about this.)
Bob Iger, we hardly knew ye. Last Friday, Disney CEO Bob Iger announced that he will step down as chief executive in 2015. Prior to that, Iger will add the title of executive chairman in March 2012, and will remain in that role until June 2016, at which time he will retire from the company at the age of 65. The announcement of his impending departure was a surprise to the business world, but according to the Wall Street Journal‘s analysis, the decision to also make him executive chairman “was a sign the board is eager to lock Mr. Iger in for a significant period of time, while also assuring an orderly transition when he departs.”
The paper reports that the top two candidates to replace him in 2015 are Thomas Staggs, who used to be the company’s chief financial officer and now runs the theme park division, and Jay Rasulo, who used to run the theme park division and currently is the company’s chief financial officer. As for Iger, the WSJ suggests that he has “often privately expressed interest in government and politics,” but that “politics isn’t the only option Mr. Iger is considering.”
If my diet of computer animation existed solely of the work being produced by mainstream commercial studios, I might come to the conclusion that CG is a graphically stagnant, artistic dead end. Thankfully, I know better than that. I know that there’s plenty of amazing, forward-thinking pieces of computer animation being produced around the world. A lot of it exists on the fringes and doesn’t garner as much attention as commercial CG, but the animation points towards a truly original form of expression that is unique to the toolset and not reliant on mimicking earlier forms of graphic art. Below are four such pieces that explore the possibilities and potential of computer animation:
Topologies–Tiepolo (Excerpt) by Quayola (UK)
Pico by Takcom (Japan)
Prismatic Planes by Alex McLeod (Canada)
Chiral by Robert Seidel (Germany)
It’s rare to see Steve Jobs speak about his company Pixar. Here’s an interview where he does that with John Lasseter and Charlie Rose in 1995 following the completion of Toy Story. Jobs gets the release date of Snow White wrong by nine years, but nobody’s perfect.
(Thanks, Chris Padilla)
This is one of the most fascinating stories I’ve encountered in a while. For the past three years, Disney has been running a network of research labs in Zurich, Pittsburgh and Boston under the banner of Disney Research. The locations were chosen so that they could attract the brightest scientists from top institutions like the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology, Carnegie Mellon, Harvard and MIT. The facilities operate in addition to the ongoing research being done at Pixar, Disney Feature Animation and Imagineering. There are roughly 200 total people working in Disney Research including 50 senior research scientists. Here’s a look at their Zurich operation.
It’s surprising how little I’ve read about the group considering that Disney Research has a website with extensive details about their activities. I initially learned about them at FX Guide, which published a lengthy piece about Disney Research last week. The article also includes a highly recommended audio interview with Dr. Markus Gross, the director of Disney Research Zurich.
Dr. Markus Gross
Gross credits Disney chief Bob Iger for initiating the push for broader research that wasn’t directly tied to the immediate needs of divisions like animation or theme parks. When Disney purchased Pixar in 2006, Iger took notice of Pixar’s academically-inspired science culture, which contributed and published extensively within the computer graphics community, and he realized that might be a smarter approach for certain areas of the company as opposed to Disney’s traditional across-the-board secretiveness.
Iger’s willingness to embrace the Pixar culture, and technological research in general, appears to be having a transformative effect in all areas of the company. Even Disney Feature Animation now publicly shares its animation research with the community and has open sourced some of its software. The fruits of Disney Research’s work may not be evident for years to come, but Iger’s long-range investment in technology shows that he has a shrewd understanding of running the company. It also appears that he has taken to heart John Lasseter’s oft-repeated maxim, “The art challenges the technology, and the technology inspires the art.”
Also of note, in the FX Guide interview, Gross makes a compelling argument for 3-D, but in terms of auto-stereoscopy, which is 3-D without the need for glasses. He points out the irony that theatrical exhibitors created 3-D as a way of distinguishing themselves from home entertainment, but that in three to five years, we’ll have high quality auto-stereoscopic home displays that will surpass the theatrical experience.
Disney’s announcement this week that they’re converting four older Disney and Pixar films to 3-D makes perfect sense in light of Gross’s interview. The company will clearly see some short-term benefit from theatrical re-releases of these films, but the huge earnings will stem from selling 3-D versions to consumers for auto-stereoscopic home display. In other words, expect to see a lot more 3-D conversions because they’re preparing for something much bigger.
From a Disney Research project: “Tactile Brush: Drawing on Skin with Tactile Grid Display”
This one is for New Yorkers: “Infinite Jest” is an exhibition at the Metropolitan Museum of Art of caricature and satire through the ages. It sounds like a great introduction to early cartoonists, and features all the heavyweights including Rowlandson, Gillray, Daumier and Goya. The show runs through March 4, 2012. The video preview and description below should whet your appetite:
The exhibition explores caricature and satire in its many forms from the Italian Renaissance to the present, drawn primarily from the rich collection of this material in the Museum’s Department of Drawings and Prints. The show includes drawings and prints by Leonardo da Vinci, EugÃ¨ne Delacroix, Francisco de Goya, Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec, and Enrique Chagoya alongside works by artists more often associated with humor, such as James Gillray, Thomas Rowlandson, Honoré Daumier, Al Hirschfeld, and David Levine. Many of these engaging caricatures and satires have never been exhibited and are little known except to specialists.
In its purest form, caricature–from the Italian carico and caricare, “to load” and “to exaggerate”–distorts human physical characteristics and can be combined with various kinds of satire to convey personal, social, or political meaning. Although caricature has probably existed since artists began to draw (ancient examples are known), the form took shape in Europe when Leonardo da Vinci’s drawings of grotesque heads were copied by followers and distributed as prints.
This very short short by New York animation legend Candy Kugel and Rick Broas serves as a great summary of the Occupy Wall Street movement. Even though it was made a couple months before the protests began, Little Piggies captures the frustration of many Americans with politicians in Washington–Democrats and Republicans alike–who collude with corporations and lobbyists at the expense of the other 99 percent. Many Americans feel it’s time for corporations to stop dictating the country’s policies and for a restoration of genuine public service by the government. That’s why thousands will be marching in downtown Manhattan this afternoon and why I’ll be among them.
Depending on how you look at it, this is either an inspirational story about an animator’s resilience in the face of adversity or an infuriating indictment of his financial irresponsibility. The New Brunswick Business Journal offers the cautionary tale of Gene Fowler and his defunct Canadian animation studio Fatkat Animation. We posted about Fatkat’s closure back in 2009, but there are plenty of fresh details in this article.
The short version: Miramichi-based Fatkat was considered a major success story in Canadian business during the 2000s, and at its height employed over 100 people doing service work primarily for animated TV shows. But, as it’s made clear by the article, the studio’s growth wasn’t organic, and was made possible only through nearly $3 million in loans and Canadian taxpayer-backed funding. When the flow of government money stopped in 2009, Fowler claimed bankruptcy to the tune of $2 million.
Fowler, who is now 35 years old, defends himself in the piece: “A lot of people in Miramichi – in my own hometown – think that I just closed down that company and have a million dollars in my bank account. Truth be told, I went broke trying to keep that company alive. . . .If people think that I pocketed a bunch of government money in an offshore bank account or something like that, then hey, they can live those fantasies, because I certainly can’t.”
After Fatkat’s demise, Fowler launched a new studio Loogaroo, which is still in operation today. He’s doing it the hard way this time–without government money–and after two years, the article reports that the company is profitable, although Fowler works predominantly with freelancers and “there are no employees per se.”
During last Sunday’s keynote speech at MIP Jr, Sam Register, the exec vp of creative affairs at Warner Bros. Animation, revealed that they have teamed up with Aardman Animations (Wallace & Gromit, Chicken Run) to create stop motion Batman shorts.
The rest of Register’s depressing keynote is about Warner Bros. Animation’s short-sighted (but typical) brand management strategy of exclusively resuscitating old properties instead of encouraging fresh talent to develop the next generation of concepts and characters. In Register’s own words, “Currently we have nothing in the pipeline that is original. We are not taking any pitches, because we are busy. I get a lot of calls to meet or see new properties. I can’t.”
This is the video of Register’s entire speech:
(via Mayerson on Animation)
Secret Mountain Fort Awesome, a new series by Peter Browngardt (of Uncle Grandpa fame), recently debuted on Cartoon Network. Have you seen any of the episodes? Comments below are open to our readers who have seen the show and wish to offer an opinion. (Note: One-line reviews will be deleted.)
Speaking of Secret Mountain, its character designer Robert Ryan Cory has an impressive Flickr gallery of his distinctively styled work from the series, such as this drawing:
Last year, The Simpsons commissioned an opening couch gag from British street artist Banksy that contained a cockeyed look at the working conditions of overseas animators. This year, which marks the show’s remarkable 23rd season, the producers of the mustard-family went a step further and debuted a new couch gag last night by Ren and Stimpy creator John Kricfalusi.
Banksy mocked the idea of mass-produced corporate art in his opening, but his message was muddled because it was made using the same system he was satirizing. There’s no such confusion in John’s approach, which he produced on his own. John’s opening is, in fact, far more subversive because he focuses almost exclusively on making a pictorial statement, relegating the show’s dominant literary elements to the back seat. In 35 short and sweet seconds, he liberates the animation of The Simpsons from years of graphic banality. The visual look of the show, which has been so carefully controlled by its producers, becomes a giddy and unrestrained playground for graphic play, and the balance of creative authority is shifted from the writers’ room to the animators in one fell swoop. Now that’s revolutionary.
On a personal note, I worked on the revival of Ren and Stimpy nearly ten years ago, and artistically, this is not the same John Kricfalusi that I remember from that time. Like any painter or filmmaker worth their salt, John doesn’t stay still, constantly evolving, growing, experimenting, and challenging audiences with new graphic concepts. He continues to be, in my book, one of the most exciting and influential artists working in animation today. Whether everything works perfectly in this opening is besides the point. As John says in our interview, “The day I make a perfect cartoon is the day I’ve run out of creativity.”
In our interview, we talk about how the opening came about, Matt Groening’s reaction to it, how his style has evolved in recent years, and his switch from Flash to Toon Boom. (Note: This is an edited version of an interview that was conducted via email this past weekend. Click on any of the images for a larger version.)
Question: First things first, how did you end up animating an opening for The Simpsons?
John Kricfalusi: Matt Groening and Al Jean [executive producer] asked me to do it. They showed me an opening that Banksy did that satirized the animation production assembly line system in Korea and told me it was really popular, so they wanted to do something similar with me.
At first they just wanted me to do a storyboard and have their regular crew animate it. If we had done it that way, no one would even have known that I had anything to do with it because it would have ended up on model and all pose to pose. I showed them the Adult Swim shorts I had been doing and pointed out that the way things happened was even more important than what was happening in my work. You can’t write visual performance. You have to actually draw it.
This project was the most fun I’ve had in years. It has really hammered home (to me) the importance of animation in animation. I think it’s possible to bring animation back to this country and make the core of it fun again, not be a mere tertiary addition to some high concept or executive’s “vision.” The pure act of animating is the most fun part of animation. I am so grateful to Matt for letting me have some real fun this summer.
Q: For a show that is notorious for being ‘on-model’, it doesn’t appear that they gave you many (if any) restraints or guidelines. Did you have to show them storyboards or designs beforehand? Did they ask for any changes or cuts?
JK: I did some character models to give them an idea of how I would draw the characters as caricatures of the Simpsons. They all made it very easy for me and the more rules I broke, the more they seemed to like it. I tried not to break any rules in the characters’ personalities, just in the execution of the visuals. I didn’t follow any models–not even my own.
Q: How did they react to your ideas?
JK: I had lunch with Al and Matt a couple times and we knocked around some ideas. Matt told me to break all the Simpsons rules. The whole bit is only 35 seconds long so it’s not like we could write a big story. We thought we should just do a quick scene that distills and caricatures the essence of the Simpsons. I only got one note: “Do we need so many reaction poses of Bart?” Tom Klein, who produced Ralph Bakshi’s Mighty Mouse cartoons with me eons ago, is the producer of The Simpsons and he was very helpful and supportive on the project too.
Q: The thing that strikes me watching this is that this isn’t the John K. cartoon of ten years ago, or even five years ago. Your style has evolved greatly in the past few years, in terms of graphic complexity and experimentation. Has this been a conscious effort to move in a new direction and have you noticed the changes yourself?
JK: It’s because of a number of factors. I am just doing small projects now, so I do more of the work myself. When I was running a studio with fifty artists, I spent a lot of time training, directing and explaining what I wanted. You can’t explain animation in words. I did as many drawings as I could, but they tended to be rough poses that after going through the assembly line process eventually get toned down.
Katie Rice influenced me a lot. She showed me all kinds of funny abstract expressions in anime cartoons and her own drawings were super cartoony, original and cute all at the same time. The way she applied the abstractions from anime (and other influences) she liked was a revelation to me. Around the same time, thanks to Jerry Beck and Mark Kausler I started watching a lot of previously lost 1930s rubber hose cartoons: Fleischer Talkartoons, Lantz Oswalds, Ub Iwerks and Terrytoons. For decades these cartoons have been derided by cartoon historians and even some of the animators themselves.
These cartoons have attributes that far surpass their seeming limitations. They were extremely inventive and the animators were encouraged to do what comes naturally to cartoonists and animators. They were allowed to draw and animate in their own individual styles. In the early 1930s, there were no set bible of rules for how to animate. The medium was too young. Every animator figured out their own unique ways of moving things. I absolutely love watching Grim Natwick, Bill Nolan, Irv Spence, Carlo Vinci and others’ animation because it is all so unique. And the cartoons were musical: all cartoons from the 1930s to the 1950s were timed to musical rhythms. This gave everything that was happening an underlying sense of fun. The tempo was the structure of the action.
Amid, you also inspired me when you showed me a lot of 1950s animated commercials–highly stylized stuff that was beautifully and inventively animated. In a couple of my recent Adult Swim shorts, I tried to caricature some of my favorite designy commercials. Those 50s commercials as you know were all animated by the same guys who learned their craft on rubber hose cartoons in the 1930s and honed their principles on 40s cartoons. Their stylized stuff in the 50s reflects all that foundational skill and knowledge even though it seems like they are breaking the rules.
Q: So much of this goes appears to go beyond the pose-to-pose animation that you did on Ren & Stimpy and into more adventurous straight-ahead animation territory, right?
JK: I’m bored with pose to pose animation like we did at Spumco where the only control we had over the look of the cartoon characters’ acting was in the held layout poses. This time I wanted to try moving the characters in crazy fun ways, not just looking funny each time they come to a stop. The way we used to do it was: the characters would strike a funny pose, then basically inbetween into the next funny pose, but between the poses, nothing much interesting happened. It was a compromise between the Forties cartoon production system and the practicalities of Saturday Morning television budgets and schedules.
The inbetweens are as fun to me as the bookended emotions you are aiming at. No one is happy one instant, and then mad the next without some kind of unique transition. Pure inbetweening makes the transition mathematical and cold. In reality, a lot of indecision and emotional torture happens between two different emotions or even just two thoughts. If you freeze frame live action you can see that there is no such thing as inbetweens. Live actors’ faces distort and mutate all over the place getting from one emotion to the next. Rod Scribner used to do that in his animation and it added a lot of extra “reality” and richness to his acting. His characters just felt more alive and real than other more cautious animators. You don’t see all the individual frames in rich movement, but you feel them.
Q: Did you animate the piece or did you have a team of animators?
Q: You switched a while back from Adobe Flash to Toon Boom. Has the shift in software influenced your style or affected your workflow in any way?
JK: Completely. It allows me to try lots of things and delete them if they stink and quickly do them again. I get bored really easily. I don’t like to rely on formula. I like every scene to be different than the last scene. I can’t follow rules — even my own. Animating in almost real time allows me to have fun.
Q: What’s something new you tried out in this piece that you think worked really well? And that didn’t work as well as you’d thought?
JK: I’m still struggling with camera moves. I’m using Toon Boom Harmony because it has a great brush tool and it’s easy to animate with, but some of the technical tools like cameras are very awkward and anti-intuitive. I don’t know what new things I tried except that it’s the first time in years where I got to animate that much stuff. If you freeze frame it you may find some surprises which might be considered new.
Well, here’s something in general: I am applying classic principles of squash and stretch, overlapping action, anticipations and overshoots, slow ins and slow outs, etcâ€¦but making the drawings that do the work of all these principles be more abstract and nonsensical. For example, when a character squints his eyes during an anticipation, I might just create one eye and draw it as a cartoony graphic, rather than literally drawing the two eyes squashing and squinting in the traditional graphic way we have been doing for 80 years.
Q: What’s your answer to those who will look at this and inevitably complain that you’re breaking many of the drawing principles you’ve espoused over the years like maintaining volume of forms and having facial details wrap around forms?
JK: The Simpsons are very stylized to begin with and their features do not wrap around their forms. Neither do 50s UPA style cartoons. But they do have hierarchy and internal logic of some kind. They use controlled abstraction rather than arbitrary unbalanced distortion.
I have explained many times that learning fundamentals does not mean that your goal is to draw like Preston Blair or Milt Kahl. Good drawing starts with having control and knowledge of how things work and look. Once you have some fundamentals, you can use cartoon license for effect and entertainment. If you can’t draw very well to begin with you are not breaking rules as part of your style, you are just breaking them by accident and you will never be able to make your fingers do what your brain imagines. Good drawing and animation isn’t one simple skill or talent. It’s a lot of different skills that you have to balance together and no one has them all. You just keep learning and studying throughout your life or you become bland. Is the cartoon perfect in any way? Of course not. The day I make a perfect cartoon is the day I’ve run out of creativity.
After the jump, watch a series of behind-the-scenes video clips showing the production process:
UPDATE: Read Cartoon Brew’s exclusive interview with John K. about his Simpsons opening.
A new episode of The Simpsons just premiered on the East Coast, and the opening contained a surprise. The reaction on Twitter says it all:
The term “surrealism” is frequently overused nowadays (for starters, the whole “pop surrealism” movement), but it is a perfectly suitable term for describing the dreamlike, stream of conscious paintings of Austin, Texas-based artist Dax Norman. He’s having a show tonight, from 5-8pm in San Francisco at Gallery Four Forty Four (444 Post Street). Yesterday, he was animating live at the gallery because he also happens to be an animator who does mind-bending pieces like this:
For those of you who have already been inside of John Lasseter’s closet and are wondering what else there could possibly be to learn about the man, rest assured, there’s plenty more. Here’s a detailed article about the winery that John owns with his wife Nancy. In it, you’ll find out how computer animation is like winemaking (besides the fact that both many animators and wine drinkers are lushes), and nerds such as myself will notice that the winery’s mascot is Wally B., a character from Lasseter’s first CG short The Adventures of André and Wally B. You may also be delighted to learn that one of his recent wines, Chemin de Fer, is a tribute to Ollie Johnston.
Join Cartoon Brew this Monday, October 3, for a FREE screening of this year’s selections in Cartoon Brew’s Student Animation Festival. Sure, you can see them all on-line (we’re posting the last one this Monday), but we think the films are even cooler viewed with an audience on a giant HD-format LED screen against the side of a building in midtown Manhattan.
We’re putting on the show in collaboration with the fine film purveyors at the Big Screen Plaza who have been hosting a solid line-up of animation and live-action films all summer long. Most of the films they show are professional productions, and we’re extremely delighted that they’re celebrating the quality of these student productions alongside their other programs.
Screening starts at 7pm and the location is 851 6th Avenue (between 29th and 30th St., behind the Eventi Hotel). If you’re coming from work and hungry, rest assured there’s an indoor cafe where you can grab a bite before or during the screening. And if you see Amid, say hi. (He’s friendly as long as you don’t talk about animation with him.) Here’s the Facebook invite page.
As part of his newish on-line column at Print magazine, J. J. Sedelmaier has written an excellent account about producing a couple of animated commercials with New Yorker cartoonist George Booth. The spots, produced in 1993, came fairly early in Sedelmaier’s animation career–though not before he had animated the first season of Beavis and Butthead–and he writes eloquently about what these pieces meant to his development as an artist:
Working with [George Booth] opened vistas for me and redefined what collaboration should be all about. . . .The advertising agency (Foote Cone & Belding/SF), the designer (that would be George), and the sound designer (the late Tom Pomposello), were a magical combination that one rarely gets to experience when producing commercials. It was this project that was also a right of passage of sorts for me because I was extended a level of respect and a peer level working relationship that I hadn’t really seen yet.
The entire article is packed with pre-production artwork (at incredibly high resolutions, no less) and lots of fun behind-the-scenes stories. Well worth your time.
Hayao Miyazaki, who has been known to often take a negative tone about the animation industry and society in general, recently tweeted that he gets the feeling that the Japanese animation industry is “done for,” and as evidence, cited the emergence of women animators. Here’s what he said in Japanese:
They say it’s over for animation in Japan. When we look for new hires only women respond, and I get the feeling that we’re done for. In our last hurrah we borrow from outside staff (i.e. outsource), but soon we won’t be able to do that forever.
The tweet would seem to indicate that he somehow correlates the end of Japanese animation with women employees, but that may not be the case. Blogger Anne Ishii asked him to clarify and he responded with a five-part tweet, that perhaps made things a little better but also confused the issue further with some tangent about women bus drivers. The ambiguity may partly be due to translation issues and partly because Twitter is an awful forum for having meaningful discussions of any kind.
Considering that Miyazaki is arguably the most successful feature animation director of all time, his comments are worthy of discussion, and I, for one, am curious to hear him explain further what he meant when he said, “I think it would be great to see a female animation director, but as far as Ghibli’s concerned, I can’t think of a single one for us.” To read Miyazaki’s entire commentary, go to the Hooded Utilitarian blog. If you’re familiar with Japanese society and have a different understanding of what he’s saying, please share your thoughts.
Paris-trained mime Lorin Eric Salm answers the age-old question, Are mimes relevant in animation? That’s only second in importance to the question: if a mime falls in a forest and no one is around to hear it, does anyone care?
The Marvelous Misadventures of Flapjack creator Thurop van Orman has taken fan interaction to a whole new level. This
video (reposted HERE) recorded during the Ottawa International Animation Festival, which is happening right now, shows Thurop wrestling one of his fans to the ground. Here’s the setup, according to Andrew Stewart, who filmed the action:
A few of us were talking with Thurop (guy who created the show Flapjack.) and Steve Smith faked wrestled with him, but then Thurop took him out into the bushes. Steve then challenged Thurop to a 2nd match 10min later and this is that match!
Rest assured that this kind of wrestling is considered perfectly normal by Thurop, and according to Stewart’s followup tweet, might even be a kind of kinky foreplay in the van Orman household: “Thurop said he loves to wrestle and he does that with his wife too. He said she cheats by pulling his beard.”
Add this as one more reason why LA artists should consider attending Ottawa: if you’re looking for a good place to bodyslam your fans into the ground, Canada and its universal health care system beckons!
The inevitable has happened: CG provocateur David OReilly has partnered with Taiwan’s Next Media Animation, whose mocap news reports are at least as truthful as anything you’ll see in the mainstream media. The resulting short, Children’s Medium Used for Dissemination of Truth, is exactly what you’d expect of a collaboration between these two non sequitur aficionados in that it’s totally unexpected.
“Animated GIFs are the web’s vinyl records,” wrote Jamie Zawinski on Twitter a few months ago. It’s a sly but accurate observation. In the face of Flash and streaming video, the animated GIF, which has been around since the 1990s, has refused to fade away. It remains a ubiquitous part of Web culture and inspires countless memes amongst a new generation of Web users. While the underlying technology of the animated GIF hasn’t changed, artists continue to explore new approaches to the form, such as cinemagraphs and the recent animated GIF comics trend.
There are many reasons for the extended reign of the animated GIF, prime among them the form’s emphasis on cycles (or loops). Rhythmic repetition was a staple graphic technique of theatrical animation during the 1920s and 1930s before being cast aside in favor of more realistic approaches to movement. The inherent beauty of cycled movement, which was cheapened by limited TV animation in the 1960s, has enjoyed a creative rebirth with the advent of the animated GIF. The animated GIF is also a remarkably potent form, and combined with good timing, it can deliver a surprising punchline as funny as any comedian’s joke. The British animator Cyriak has perfected this type of animated GIF. Perhaps the underpinning reason for the endurance of the animated GIF is its utter simplicity: it has no sound, generally last less than 10 seconds, and require no technical knowledge to create, thanks to the abundance of gif-making websites.
This brings us around to the latest development in animated GIFs: a new iPhone app (also iPad/iPhone Touch compatible) called Gif Shop. Created by Daniel Savage and Matthew Archer, the app, which costs $1.99, streamlines the GIF making process on the iPhone, and makes it easier than ever for anybody to create their own animation. While it’s possible to make any kind of animation using Gif Shop, because of the app’s integration with the iPhone camera, it lends itself particularly to the pixilation stop-motion technique.
Here’s a quick demo of how it works:
Daniel Savage, the app’s co-creator, foresees a social media component to Gif Shop as well, and believes it can become to animation what Instagram is to photos. “The concept of simply creating animated GIFs,” he writes, “evolved into a service that enables our users to share animated GIFs across their networks with no concern for hosting and file size limitations other services may impose. Since the initial concept, Gif Shop is no longer the first of its kind, but we think there is one key factor the others have missed: simplicity. It is extremely important to us that we take the tedious act of making a GIF and make it as fun and intuitive as possible.”
It’s exciting to see the emergence of easy-to-use animation software for smartphones. These apps have the potential to make the act of animating as second-nature to the general public as taking a photograph. That’s a revolutionary concept, especially when one considers that fifty years ago, there were at best a few thousand people in the entire world who could animate. Most of the people using the Gif Shop app aren’t professional animators, but then again, most people who take photographs aren’t Cartier-Bresson. It hardly matters that every animated GIF be a masterpiece. The real victory is that as more and more people animate, appreciation and understanding for the art form will inevitably grow. That may end up yet being the greatest legacy of the animated GIF.
Adrien Merigeau (co-director of Old Fangs) created this engimatic music video for the Irish band The Villagers and their song “Cecelia and Her Selfhood.” He made the film at his Dublin-based studio andmapsandplans. Merigeau is also the art director of
Cartoon Saloon‘s next feature Song of the Sea. (The studio previously made The Secret of Kells.) The video was animated entirely by Merigeau except for the stop motion sequence with the jackal and dragon that was animated by Eimhin McNamara.
The lyrics are a bit confusing if you take them at face value and appear to suggest murdering petty vandals, but that’s not the case according to the Villagers frontman Conor O’Brien: “I called it ‘Cecilia and Her Selfhood’ because I wanted to show the sister who ends up destroying the statue, I wanted the sister to represent the inner wicked of Cecilia herself, so it’s almost like someone destroying herself…like an analogy of that.”
(Thanks, Tomm Moore)