It’s been far too long since Jérémy Clapin‘s last short, Skhizein, an existentialist/mental illness drama that ranks among the more original pieces of animated filmmaking in the past decade. The trailer above is for his latest short Palmipedarium, which he’s readying for release in 2012. This new ten-minute piece was produced entirely with free, open-source Blender software. I can’t wait to see it!
Disney is previewing the entire pilot episode–”Beck’s Beginning”–of Tron: Uprising on YouTube (sorry, US viewers only). The series, which premieres June 7 on Disney XD, takes place between the original Tron and the more recent Tron: Legacy. It follows the quest of a young program named Beck (not Jerry), who under the mentorship of Tron, leads a revolution to wrest control of The Grid from the sinister clutches of Clu.
If you’re the type of fan that geeks out over new vehicles in the Tron universe, you’ll likely have a different take than mine, but as someone who just wants to see good entertainment, I wasn’t satisfied. There’s some mad artistic talent working under art director Alberto Mielgo, but they can’t overcome the monotonous direction that alternates between flat dialogue scenes and numbingly repetitive (though impressively staged) action scenes. The leaden CG character animation, produced by Japanese studio Polygon Pictures, and ridiculous script (“There you are.” “Here I am.”) don’t help matters.
To be fair, this is just the pilot. As Tron: Uprising director Charlie Bean gets more episodes under his belt, he may yet realize the show’s full potential. On the other hand, it could just be ten more episodes of a guy jumping on a light cycle ad nauseam, which is what this pilot felt like at times.
On a sad note, the end credits include the dedication “For Pete.” That refers to a technical director on the show, Peter Kranjcevich, who passed away unexpectedly last month at the age of 36.
If you watch the episode above, please share your thoughts.
The incomparable Robert Valley (Gorillaz, “The Beatles: Rock Band” cinematic, and character designer on the upcoming Tron: Uprising series) has posted an animatic for a personal short film that he’s working on called Pear Cider and Cigarettes. Fans of Valley’s aggressively angular figures and dynamically staged animation will be in for a treat. No word on when the film will be completed.
Swiss animator Oswald Iten has written an enlightening analysis of the different approaches to narrative and characterization used by the Disney studio and Russian director Fyodor Khitruk in their respective adaptations of A. A. Milne’s Winnie-the-Pooh.
Though relatively unknown in the West until recently, Khitruk’s three Winnie the Pooh shorts are considered classics in Russia much in the same way the Disney versions are revered in the States. Among the admirers of Khitruk’s shorts was Disney director Woolie Reitherman, who once told Khitruk, “You know, your Winnie is better than mine.”
We should also take this opportunity to wish happy birthday to Fyodor Khitruk, who celebrated his 95th birthday last week. The first of his Pooh shorts, released in 1969, can be seen below:
Brooklyn-based Hayley Morris created this richly textured underwater fantasia for Hilary Hahn and Hauschka‘s song “Bounce Bounce.” The evocative tide pool creatures were created with fabric, yarn, papier-mÃ¢ché and driftwood, the latter used to make the wooden bird. The disparate materials that Hayley uses are united with an electric color palette and swaying shadows–all animated by hand under the camera. More details about the video and the musicians can be found in this IFC article.
LA-based animator Max Winston posted this animation test for The Woods!, a project that he developed over two years for Nickelodeon. He wrote last Friday on his blog that Nick “recently informed me that they don’t want to go through with making it into a show.” That’s probably a sign that he’s doing something right considering that this is the same network that turned down Adventure Time in favor of greenlighting Fanboy & Chum Chum. Max is currently shopping the idea around to other buyers.
Created, Directed and Animated by: Max Winston
Director of Photography: Helder K Sun
Written by: Doug Langdale & Max Winston
Color concept & BG design: Romney Caswell
Voices: ZoÃ« Moss, Jacob Strick, Max Winston
Compositing: Hlynur Magnusson
Fabrication Assistance: Brad Schaffer
Shot at Screen Novelties
Kangmin Kim impressed in 2010 with his student short Visit. He has continued to evolve his labor-intensive mixed-media approach with his thesis film, 38-39Â°C, and confirmed that he is a major talent to watch.
The father-son relationship that is at the center of the film doesn’t lend itself to easy explanations, but the idea is conveyed eloquently through layered imagery and sound that achieves a fever-dream intensity. There is fantastic attention to detail throughout, and seamless compositing of visual elements. The quirky animation of the hinged paper cut-out figures provides the welcome human touch that is absent from many slickly produced stop motion shorts nowadays. Watch the making of video for a literal behind-the-scenes look at Kim’s process.
First, the bad news: It doesn’t look like Brad Bird will be making an animated feature anytime soon.
Now, the good news: Brad Bird is making another film.
Deadline Hollywood reported yesterday that Brad Bird is set to direct a major live-action tentpole for Disney from a script by Damon Lindelof, who co-created and exec produced the TV series Lost. Lindelof is co-writing the script–titled 1952 (work-in-progress)–with Jeff Jensen. No other details have been revealed about the project at this time. The film shouldn’t be confused with Bird’s long-in-development personal live-action project, 1906, which is about the historic San Francisco earthquake.
Of course, I have to take this opportunity to mention that even though Brad isn’t creating animation, he took the time to write the foreword to an upcoming animation history book.
Watching Kontraste by Sieglinde Hamacher makes me realize I’ve never seen any East German animation. From what I’ve read, their state-run animation studio DEFA was not as visually experimental as the state-operated studios in other Iron Curtain countries like Hungary, Czechoslovakia and Poland. But Kontraste, created in 1982, has no shortage of creative expression. An online search reveals that a DVD of East German animation was released a couple years back called Red Cartoons: Animated Films From East Germany.
Desperate for new ways to connect with consumers, an increasing array of industries and organizations are paying Disney to teach them how to become, well, more like Disney. Revenue from the Disney Institute has doubled over the last three years, according to Disney, powered in part by its aggressive pursuit of new business. Over the last two years alone, 300 school systems across the country have sought its advice. Other clients range from very large entities – Häagen-Dazs International, United Airlines, the country of South Africa – to small ones: three Subway restaurants in Maine, a Michigan hair salon, a Boston youth-counseling center.
Tonight, ASIFA-East handed out prizes for its 43nd annual Animation Festival. The Rauch Brothers took home the Best in Show for their 9/11-themed short John and Joe. Two children’s films that I particularly enjoyed at the screening were Michael Sporn‘s inspiring I Can Be President (which was shown in excerpted form) and an adaptation of Mo Willems’ book Don’t Let The Pigeon Stay Up Late directed by Pete List. The latter showed that preschool animation can engage audience participation without talking down to kids.
The most surprising film of the evening was Leah Shore‘s Old Man. The “old man” in question is Charles Manson, and Shore uses a breathless array of techniques and styles to illustrate recordings of his schizophrenic ramblings. Though we’ve posted Shore’s films here before–see BOOBatary and Meatwaffle–I’d suggest that Old Man is a breakout work for the young filmmaker. She is a talent to watch.
Aardman’s latest feature The Pirates! Band of Misfits, directed by Peter Lord, debuted in second place in the US with $11.1 million. It’s Aardman’s weakest opening ever in the US. However, it was considered on a par with studio projections, and the film should end up with a respectable run, especially considering that no other animated films are set to be released in May.
For comparison, here’s how other Aardman features have opened in the US:
Chicken Run (2000): $17.5 million Wallace and Gromit: The Curse of the Were-Rabbit (2005): $16 million Flushed Away (2006): $18.8 million Arthur Christmas (2011): $12.1 million