Video footage of the disastrous financial moment after the jump:
Video footage of the disastrous financial moment after the jump:
Remember Officer Bubbles, the Toronto cop who tried to sue YouTube because he didn’t like cartoons that satirized his abuses of power? Well, some police officers in the US are trying to outdo him in the crooked cop department. The prosecutor and police department of Renton, Washington are trying to arrest a person who used the animation software Xtranormal to create animated videos that exposed the Renton PD’s long history of misconduct. (One of the cartoons is posted above.)
Though the city’s name was never used in the cartoons, Renton police didn’t appreciate their dirty laundry being made public and claimed that the videos constituted “cyberstalking,” a felony that could earn the filmmaker five years in prison. Legal experts say the charge “absolutely does not apply” to the filmmaker, and have called the First Amendment-bashing behavior of the Renton PD an “extreme abuse of power.”
That hasn’t stopped the police from creating a search warrant (posted below) to go after MrFuddlesticks, the name of the YouTube account that posted the animated videos. A local Washington judge James Cayce rubber-stamped their warrant, which will force Google-owned YouTube to hand over information revealing the identity of the filmmaker.
Unfortunately there’s no happy ending to this story, but at least everyone can have a good chuckle at the city of Renton’s quixotic attempt to ban satire in the United States.
(Thanks, Jerrett Zaroski)
The standoff between DreamWorks Animation and Paramount is explored in this piece in the Hollywood Reporter. It’s a good primer on the situation, and interestingly, positions it mostly as a battle of egos between Jeffrey Katzenberg and Paramount head Brad Grey. Unidentified insiders in the piece also support my contention from earlier this week that Paramount is kidding itself if it thinks it can start producing animated blockbusters like DreamWorks by 2014.
Some fans of Disney comics are calling Ducktales #3 published by Kaboom! the single worst Disney comic book they’ve ever seen. Here’s a detailed review of the issue by Chris Barat. Some of the complaints will make sense only to those familiar with the Disney comic universe, but the incompetent drawing and staging will be evident to all. Panels are flipped and repeated, characters speak to other characters that aren’t even drawn into the comic, backgrounds appear to be drawn by a twelve-year-old in MS Paint, and even the cover is an uninspired swipe of an earlier Daan Jippes cover:
UPDATE 1: Here are some examples of what these comics could’ve looked like if Kaboom! had hired artists who understood the principles of drawing, composition, and design.
UPDATE 2: This comic is so bad, it even inspired its own parody of the DuckTales theme song (via):
Reverse beard pixilation is done so often it’s almost an animation meme, but there’s always room for one more, especially when it’s as well done as Peter Simon‘s Trim. The comments on the Reddit post about the film are interesting too–”I love how my assumption of who he is changed with each new hair style,” “Nazi, punk kid, white trash, hipster, biker, Jesus, Ultra-Jesus”–as well as the response from the director Simon: “That is something we were talking about while we were working on this. Each style has a very specific stereotype attached.”
Wow, here’s something I’d never seen before: Monty Python animator Terry Gilliam discussing his animation techniques on Bob Godfrey‘s Do-It-Yourself Animation Show in 1974. Godfrey’s show, which made animation accessible to the masses by taking the mystery out of the production process, was vastly influential and inspired an entire generation of kids in England, including Nick Park, who created Wallace & Gromit, Jan Pinkava, who directed the Pixar short Geri’s Game, and Richard Bazley, an animator on Pocahontas, Hercules, and The Iron Giant.
In a day and age when more kids are interested in animating than ever before, it’s a shame that TV shows (or Web series) that are fun and informative like this don’t exist. The DIY advice that Gilliam gives in this episode is not only brilliant, but still as relevant today as back then:
“The whole point of animation to me is to tell a story, make a joke, express an idea. The technique itself doesn’t really matter. Whatever works is the thing to use.”
It’s been twelve years since the last short by filmmakers Amanda Forbis and Wendy Tilby, and that was the Palme d’Or-winning and Oscar-nominated When the Day Breaks. They recently wrapped their new film Wild Life. The National Film Board of Canada has released these two clips on-line from the thirteen-and-a-half-minute film, which premiered on the festival circuit in May.
The official description:
In 1909, a dapper young remittance man is sent from England to Alberta to attempt ranching. However, his affection for badminton, bird watching and liquor leaves him little time for wrangling cattle. It soon becomes clear that nothing in his refined upbringing has prepared him for the harsh conditions of the New World. This animated short is about the beauty of the prairie, the pang of being homesick and the folly of living dangerously out of context.
Animation legend Walt Peregoy (background painter on Sleeping Beauty and Paul Bunyan, color stylist of 101 Dalmatians, and background stylist on Scooby Doo, Where Are You!), who gained some notoriety earlier this year with this unfiltered interview, is having a show of his fine art this Friday, August 5. The reception for “The Little Man in My Head” will take place between 7 and 10pm at the Gallery 839 at the Animation Guild (1105 N. Hollywood Way, Burbank, CA 91505).
Walt has been a prolific painter for his entire lifetime and it’s nice to see him finally receiving some recognition for it. If you’re in LA on Friday, this is a great opportunity to meet a genuine animation legend. There aren’t many of them still with us nowadays.
The drama beween DreamWorks Animation and its distributor Paramount continues with plenty of unsubstantiated rumors, but no hard details of the negotiations. Paramount, of course, recently launched its own in-house animation studio, which strikes me as a bargaining chip more than anything else. We’ve also heard rumors that Paramount has just appointed a new studio president, and if it’s who people are claiming, it’s someone with one of the most disastrous track records of any recent executive to work in the animation industry.
The situation reminds me a lot of what Disney did when they started contract renewal talks with Pixar some years ago. Disney launched a new studio, Circle 7, and tried to make their own Toy Story sequel before coming to the conclusion that Pixar’s creative culture couldn’t be replicated with deep pockets alone. I’m not suggesting that Paramount will buy DreamWorks, but I am saying that Paramount is sorely mistaken if they think they can just launch an animation studio and start churning out consistent box office winners like DreamWorks.
This morning, an anonymous commenter on the Animation Guild blog posted a list of thirty properties currently optioned or in development at DreamWorks. The list is printed below. I can’t vouch for its accuracy, but I’ve heard of at least half of the projects on the list. Allowing for some fluctuations in the nebulous nature of options and development, it appears to be fairly accurate.
This list to me is indicative of the infrastructure that DreamWorks has built and the underlying strength of the company. In spite of personal reservations about the creative content of the studio’s films, it would be foolish to not acknowledge that the studio has one of the strongest creative foundations of any animation company currently in operation. It would take Paramount years, if not decades, to develop as robust a development slate as DreamWorks. In nearly a decade of operations, Sony Pictures Animation has managed to release a handful of middling features and doesn’t appear to have a development slate anywhere near the size of DreamWorks’s.
I don’t think anybody on the outside knows for certain how the deal between DreamWorks and Paramount will conclude, but looking at what DreamWorks Animation has achieved, I’d like to believe that the cards are stacked in its favor over the long term.
What follows is the list of DreamWorks films in development:
Songkran Festival Greeting by The Commonist (Malaysia/Thailand)
Rough Animation Test for Mayor Shelbourne by Chris Williams (US). “Early performance test I animated for the Mayor in Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs. This is unfinished and is still quite rough in terms of timing and lip sync, but it gives you an idea of where we were heading.”
Hero Bird by Thomas Knowler (UK)
Money Don’t Cry by Gevorg Ghaplanyan (Armenia)
Berdoo by Miranda Tacchia (US)
Printed books don’t seem to be good for much nowadays, but animators can use them as art supplies, as Drew Christie did for his excellent short The Man Who Shot The Man Who Shot Lincoln. Animated with charcoal, pastel and crayon, the film required twelve paperback books. He writes, “The driver’s side window of a box truck was used as the light box for animating because I made the entire thing while I was at work (a job I no longer have).”
Animating on a book isn’t a new idea, and the gimmick quickly takes backseat to the well-told story of Boston Corbett, the mentally unstable soldier who knocked off Lincoln’s assassin John Wilkes Booth. Christie’s artwork is simple, but he pairs it with sophisticated filmmaking ideas and story presentation. The music by Spencer Thun and sound by Ian Picco both add a lot. If you want to know more about Corbett’s life, as I did after watching the film, read this piece in American Scholar.
Cartoon Brew readers might have seen this coming a mile away, but not Wall Street. The business world is finally realizing that 3-D may not be the revolution that Hollywood’s snake oil salesmen promised it would be. Yesterday, shares in 3-D technology licensor provider RealD sank nearly 16% to $15.48. It’s significant because this is the first time the stock is trading below its 2010 IPO price of $16 a share. The stock was trading at over $35 just two months ago.
The stock plunged following the company’s first quarter report which topped analysts’ expectations but fell short of estimates on Wall Street. Analysts have already begun asking whether it’s game over for 3-D.
Another big loser in the film technology arena this week was IMAX. Its shares slipped 6% yesterday to under $19. IMAX’s stock is down a whopping 41% in the month of July, though some analysts are still bullish on the company’s future.
The problem with RealD’s approach (as well as IMAX’s to some extent) is that it up-sells movies without adding significant value to the experience. I’ve seen 3-D films only a handful of times and I’d be hard-pressed to recall which films they were, much less point out a moment where the 3-D made the film richer or more fulfilling.
Actor Patrick Stewart expresses his appreciation for animation in this CNN interview and says that, “I think in film the most exciting work currently is being done in animation.”
(Thanks, Tres Swygert)
Animation Block Party, the most significant US animation festival on the East Coast, returns tonight for its eighth year in a row. The festival will take place over the next three days in Brooklyn with six programs of animated shorts and three after-parties. The festival is also exploring some new directions this year, in the form of a trade show and gallery exhibition:
On Saturday, July 30, 2011 – ABP will hold its first ever animation trade show and art gallery exhibition at BAMcinématek from 12pm-8pm. Trade show attendees will include Animation Mentor, NY Bike Jumble, L-Magazine, DaVinci Artist Supply, Green Mountain Energy, The Community Bookstore and many more.
The ABP gallery exhibition will feature content from animation talents such as Doug Crane, Howard Beckerman, Deborah Ross, Maori Stanton, Jeff Scher, Mike Lapinski, Caroline Foley, Michael Langan and London Squared alongside festival photos from Jazzmine Beaulieu. The Saturday ABP trade show and art gallery is free and open to the public.
For a list of all the films in competition, screening times and ticket info, visit the Animation Block website.