Matthias Hoegg whose earlier student short August was featured in Cartoon Brew TV’s Student Animation Festival, has followed up with an even more impressive graduation short Thursday. Produced at the Royal College of Art in London, the short was nominated for a BAFTA last year. The slice-of-life love story takes place in an unsentimental near-future where emotion struggles to break through an onslaught of techno-gadgetry.
Patterns, rhythms and color dominate the visual design of the film. Hoegg says in this Motionographer interview that he was inspired primarily by American quilts and Eduardo Paolozzi’s mosaics. Credit also belongs to the sound designer Marian Mentrup, whose rich layer of audio adds a degree of warmth and humanity to the images.
Sound Design and Music by Marian Mentrup
“Thursday’s Space Waltz” written and performed by Marian Mentrup
Published by Kobrow Musikverlag
Additional Animation by Aaron Lampert
Additional Modeling by Mattias BjurstrÃ¶m
Foley Artist GÃ¼nther RÃ¶hn
Mixed at Talking Animals Studio Berlin
This Japanese music video for group_inou‘s “Heart” by ACéƒ¨ is pretty incredible. I can’t find any information in English about the directors, but they appear to be a Japanese collective comprised of three artists. If you know more about them, please share.
Some would argue that the video is incredible for all the wrong reasons–trippy, creepy, freaky!–but the unorthodox style works because the directors sell us their vision with complete conviction. In an animation world where everybody strives to make characters move according to established rules and principles, it’s refreshing to see animators betray every convention of the natural world–even if that vision is at odds with the “correct” way of animating. It’s always exhilarating when an animator establishes their own rules of movement and has the ability to execute those ideas with clarity and skill. AC pulls off that feat in “Heart.”
If you read just one thing today, make it this newly released 1976 interview with Disney animator Milt Kahl conducted by Michael Barrier and Milton Gray. Hearing Kahl speak his mind brings the past alive in a way that few history books can, and sheds light on the divisions and rivalries between the golden age Disney animators. When the interview took place, Kahl had recently left the Disney studio after forty-plus years and he doesn’t mince words:
“The way that I feel about it is that my performance in The Rescuers is good. The only thing is that you know that this picture is going to be mediocre. It has a few high spots, but it’s full of bad taste that is, as I like to put it, tempered by bad judgment. That’s kind of a lousy way to put it, but I feel that way. I’m really rather bitter about the set-up, about some of the people who I thought considered that we were working together, and I find that we really weren’t. Here I am, a person at the height of my powers, and I feel there’s not a place for me anymore. I don’t want to be involved; I can’t fight this thing. And there certainly isn’t a place for me anywhere else in this business.”
Cute imagery and creepy lyrics rub up against each other in Farm Music, a short by up-and-comer Yousuke Oomomo. To learn more about Oomomo’s work, Ben Ettinger’s AniPages Daily offers some illuminative commentary about the young Japanese filmmaker.
Russian animator Egor Zhgun mashed up audio from Disney’s Three Little Pigs and an Angry Birds graphic style to create Three Big Pigs, an explanation of the situation in the Middle East. It’s a testament to the iconic quality and staying power of Walt Disney’s filmmaking that, nearly eighty years after the fact, one of his shorts can be successfully remixed in a new context.
Promising trailer for A Morning Stroll by Grant Orchard, whose brilliant timing and shrewd minimalism have made him a long-time favorite of mine. The short was produced by Studio AKA which also reps Orchard for commercial work. Here’s a bit more about his latest, which will premiere at Annecy in June:
‘When a New Yorker walks past a chicken on his morning stroll, we’re left to wonder which one is the real city slicker…’ Based loosely on a real life event recounted in Paul Auster’s brilliant book True Tales of American Life, Grant Orchard’s A Morning Stroll tells the story of one New Yorker’s early morning encounter with a chicken, an event that plays out over 100 years.
Rio de Janeiro-based animator Rodrigo Leme directed and animated these spots while working in-house at Globosat TV in Brazil. The top piece promoted the airing of the four Indiana Jones films, while the bottom was a promo for a block of horror films.
“Indiana Jones Rock Song Promo”
Art Direction/Animation: RodrigoLeme
Writer/Lyrics: Alex Mendes
Music: Eduardo Miguens
Just released on Warner Archive’s on-demand line of DVDs is Gene Kelly’s ambitious ballet film Invitation to the Dance. The film’s third segment, “Sinbad the Sailor,” is a half-hour combination of live-action and animation, the latter directed by MGM’s team of Bill Hanna and Joe Barbera. The film has never been on DVD before, and if not necessarily a classic, the combination of Kelly, Hanna and Barbera makes for some fun moments.
The delightfully grouchy Ed Benedict, who I interviewed in 2002 for Animation Blast #8, spoke about his involvement in the film and why he disliked it:
“That was a miserable project. I was at home…[Fred] Quimby called and briefly described this project that he wanted me to come over and work on. I got the impression that I would be designing this so I was excited. I was quite enthusiastic about it and felt challenged. I went over and started fumbling around, making scribbles, trying to find a style. But they weren’t the designs that I originally did. I just turned my back away from the whole thing as much as I could. I got Don Driscoll, a friend of mine who worked at Paul Fennell’s, to paint the backgrounds. He had the ability but he wasn’t the painter. Anybody could have painted the backgrounds because they didn’t have anything on them.
“Invitation to the Dance was a farce and I was shocked because if you look at a lot of the old MGM musicals, they used Lautrec, Cezanne and a lot of different styles of backgrounds, just great stuff. Gene Kelly is running the show more or less on those type of decisions and he’s over there making the approvals on this stuff. There’s samples coming from the art department on the main lot, others besides myself were handing in ideas, and nothing took place.”
See some of Ed’s development art from the film HERE.
Lo and behold, twenty-six days later there’s the release of the viral hit Dogboarding created by the LA-based duo Daniels (aka Daniel Scheinert and Daniel Kwan).
If the Daniels had somehow built on the idea and turned it into something else, it would be less irritating. But they took a one-note gag, redid the exact same thing using a different technique without adding a single idea of their own, and regurgitated it onto the unsuspecting public. At least that’s how I see it. What’s your take?
UPDATE: Daniel Kwan of the Daniels wrote a lengthy comment that says they came up with the idea of dog-boarding in December 2010 and finished the project last December:
I can 100% understand how crazy this sounds, but this is in fact an insane coincidence that we, the amigo unit and ourselves, as two separate entities came up with the same idea at the same time (the internet-influenced collective consciousness is causing us all to come to similar ideas and conclusions? who knows!). We actually finished this project in Dec, but due to some setbacks and misunderstandings weren’t able to release it until now. So seeing as the amigo unit’s video hadn’t come out until a month ago, it would be pretty impossible for us to have copied them.
I don’t want to have to be a stickler about all of this, but we have documents and emails dating back to early december of last year discussing this project. We even have a treatment that says 2010 on it :p. We shot test footage and did effects test, which we uploaded to vimeo as a private link on Dec 13th. We have meta data on our footage that shows that we shot the entire video on location in LA mid december, and even had a rough cut done by the end of dec that we uploaded a private link up onto vimeo to share with people (and we still have that cut up online, still private, but with the text “3 months ago” on it, as in, this video was uploaded 3 months ago :] ).
To paraphrase Patrick Henry, Give me squash and stretch or give me death. As an outsider to the CG animation production process, I’m struck by how inefficient industry-standard software seems to be in accomplishing basic animation principles like squash and stretch (or squish and squash, as some enlightened animation execs like to call it). From what I’ve read and seen, Matthieu Fiorilli’s fStretch, his Maya plug-in for Windows and Linux which just came out with a 2.0 version, appears to be a decent solution to tedious blend shapes and allows riggers and animators to achieve squash and stretch more intuitively:
Its unique work flow allows one to precisely control effects such as stretch and squash, wrinkles and fat deformations to name a few. At one end, it lets one create cartoony rig with stunning stretch and squash while at the other end, it will allow another to create very realistic fat deformations.
If you have experience with fStretch or just want to talk about CG squash and stretch, share your thoughts in the comments. An fStretch demo vid is below. Go HERE for a detailed ‘making of’ for the fun Albert Einstein facial animation at the beginning of that demo. (Don’t worry, I didn’t know it was supposed to be Einstein either until after I read the making of.) To learn more about the plug-in or download a demo, visit CGAddict.com.
The Mushroom by Julio del Rio (UK). “The Mushroom” was done while sitting down in a pub on a Sunday afternoon…All frames were drawn directly in a single sheet of paper, and later scanned, cut, repositioned and timed in PAP, inspired by Fran Krause’s great sketchbook animation technique.”
I love the illustrative-collage animation style of Brooklyn-based painter Jonathan Campo and hope he continues to explore this quirky approach to filmmaking. Especially if he applies it to something more substantial than tired “Adult Swim”-esque non sequiturs and awkward pauses.
Who knew that Jim Henson created a TV pilot in 1969 based on Johnny Hart and Brant Parker’s Wizard of Id? Watch rare excerpts above and then read more background about the project on the superbly curated Henson Company blog.
The company is posting other rare historical materials on their YouTube account as well, such as this Aurora toilet paper ad from the mid-Sixties with a delightful pantomime hand by Frank Oz:
NY-based duo Phantasmic (aka Tripp and Jenna Watt) created this playful and nutty multimedia trip for the band Morning Teleportation:
Created with a vast array of materials, found objects, and crayola marker drawings, this pile of nonsense mixes stop motion, live action, motion graphics, and a little bit of 3D all within one gypsy invention of a carnival ride.
The ‘making of’ vid gives a nice view of their craft-oriented DIY approach:
Hadn’t checked in a while and was curious to see what the most viewed pieces of animation on YouTube and Vimeo currently are. The results are, erm, fascinating and quite reflective of the audiences who use each site. It should be pointed out that Muto, the most viewed piece of animation on Vimeo (3.5 million views) has significantly more views (8.8 million) on YouTube. In other words, good animation does get recognized on YouTube as well, but you have to wade through a lot of trash to get to it.
From a user standpoint, I no longer find it possible to discover new animators or films on YouTube unless someone sends a direct link. Vimeo’s community features are easier to use, and the number of users is still small enough to encourage browsing and discovery. I hope they find ways to maintain the sense of intimacy and community as they scale upward.
Top Animation on YouTube
1. Tootin’ Bathtub Baby Cousins – 151.1 million views
2. Intro La casa de Mickey Mouse – 123 million views
Cartoon Network announced its new slate of series yesterday, but most of the on-line chatter is about the cancellation of Genndy Tartakovsky’s confusingly namedSym-Bionic Titan which lasted exactly one season of twenty episodes. Steve Hulett of the Animation Guild reported what he heard while wandering the halls of Cartoon Network:
“Genddy’s moved on to Sony Pictures Animation. Titan got competitive ratings with other action shows, but what shut it down was it didn’t have enough toys connected to it. If you don’t have the, the studios don’t want to renew for another season.”
Tonight at 7:30 pm, the 92Y Tribeca (200 Hudson Street) presents “Peculiar Picture Parade: Animated Films Defying the Norms,” a collection of recent animated shorts by New York animators. The screening, curated by Joy and Noelle Vaccese (aka Twins are Weird), includes recent pieces by Bill Plympton (Guard Dog Global Jam) Pat Smith (Masks), Signe Baumane (excerpts from the feature-in-progress Rocks In My Pocket) and Fran Krause (Nosy Bear), among others.
Just spoke with the great David Silverman, and he informed me of an impressive milestone: today marks the 24th anniversary of production of The Simpsons. (The series of David’s drawings above are from the early Tracey Ullman Show episodes.) As he tweeted earlier:
24 years ago, we first started drawing The Simpsons on March 23, 1987. Wes Archer, Bill Kopp, and myself. Happy Anniversary!
Viliam is Veronika Obertová‘s graduation short from the Academy of Fine Arts and Design in Bratislava, Slovakia. The handmade papercraft technique fits nicely with the theme of obsessive artistic creation at all costs. I was also impressed by Obertová’s satiric styling and how she subverted the crisp and safe paper sculpture shapes with quasi-grotesque character designs comprised of dangling noses, freakish mouth shapes, spoked-wheel eyes and heavy black outlines.
Eric Dyer‘s The Bellows March is a sublime way to end our unintentional zoetrope week on Cartoon Brew. I first saw Dyer’s film when I was jurying the Ottawa animation festival a couple years back. The complex visual patterns and rhythms in his short have the dual qualities of mathematical precision and natural organic beauty. Even after watching the film multiple times, it still boggles my mind how Dyer, who is a professor at University of Maryland Baltimore County, planned and choreographed the production. Below is a video with a behind-the-scenes look at the circular sculptures, dubbed cinetropes, that were made with 3-D printed parts:
Max Hathaway, who sent me the link to the film and who assisted Dyer on this short, is working on his own zoetrope-esque animation with stop-motion armatures mounted on an animation rig. He’s documenting the production of the short on his blog.
“Nuclear Boy Has a Stomachache” explains the nuclear crisis in Japan through animation. The cute scatalogical analogies illustrate the power of animation to creatively summarize complex ideas, but the positive spin on the situation reeks of propaganda. It would be interesting to learn who commissioned the piece.
I was surprised to run across The Indescribable Nth, an odd curio from 1999 directed by Steve “Oscar” Moore and produced at Character Builders in Ohio. Moore, who lives in New Jersey nowadays, is also the director of Disney TV Animation’s Redux Riding Hood, a 1997 Oscar-nominated short that, as he notes on his site, “has since never aired on television, never been released on video or DVD, and has not been shown publicly since 1998.” One would assume there’s something seriously wrong with the film for it to be buried so unceremoniously, but its only crime is that it’s fairly funny and well made. Below is a clip from Redux Riding Hood.