Australian artist Tom Bone was laid up in a hospital bed for three weeks due to a broken pelvis. He made the best of his time and produced a four-minute animated short during his hospital stay. There’s a phenomenal amount of inventive character designs in his hilariously perverse morphing freakfest, which is looped multiple times below.
My Way is a sweet-natured short about the anxieties of growing up, and the unknown forces (represented by the metaphorical pebble) that shape our life experiences. Directed by Veljko PopoviÄ‡ and made at Croatia’s Bold Studio, the film is based on a book written and illustrated by Svjetlan JunakoviÄ‡. Despite remaining faithful to the illustrator’s richly textured style, the director PopoviÄ‡ manages to avoid the blandness that plagues many book adaptations through a dynamic use of screen space and creative transitions between scenes. My Way has played at dozens of film festivals since its debut in 2010.
Story and visuals: Svjetlan JunakoviÄ‡
Director: Veljko PopoviÄ‡
Producer: Masha UdoviÄiÄ‡
Music and sound: Hrvoje Å tefotiÄ‡
Narator: Charles Foster
Animation: Zvonimir Haramija, Mirela IvankoviÄ‡ Bielen, Ana Horvat, Juliana KuÄan, Ana-Marija VidakoviÄ‡
Compositing: Masha UdoviÄiÄ‡, Zvonimir Haramija, Juliana KuÄan
Digital Domain CEO John Textor (pictured above with his wife) envisions big things for his company’s new feature animation studio in Port St. Lucie, Florida called Tradition Studios. While we’ve written about the studio’s ambitious feature film plans, what wasn’t known until recently is how Textor intends to create the films. His plan is to convince students to pay Digital Domain to work on its films for free.
The blog VFX Soldier has obtained a speech that Textor gave last November to investors in which he revealed how the company’s new animation school Digital Domain Institute will be integrated with the Tradition studio. Textor told the audience:
Classes starting in the education space, what’s interesting is the relationship between the digital studio and the college. Â Not only is this a first in a number of ways that we’ve talked about, but 30% of the workforce at our digital studio down in Florida, is not only going to be free, with student labor, it’s going to be labor that’s actually paying us for the privilege of working on our films.
Now this was the controversial element of this and the first discussions with the Department of Education, ’cause it sounds like you’re taking advantage of the students. Â But we were able to persuade even the academic community, if we don’t do something to dramatically reduce costs in our industry, not only ours but many other industries in this country, then we’re going to lose these industries .. we’re going to lose these jobs. Â And our industry was going very quickly to India and China.
Students, in other words, will pay up to $105,000 for the “privilege” of working on Digital Domain’s features, the first of which will be The Legend of Tembo. As VFX Soldier points out, “It’s one thing to work for low pay, it’s another thing to work for free, but it’s unfathomable to be expected to pay to work for free.
If all of this sounds a little fishy, that’s because it is. The Animation Guild in Los Angeles is exploring whether Digital Domain might be in violation of state and federal labor laws. They’ve tried to communicate with multiple Florida government agencies, including the state’s Department of Education, with no luck yet. Federal labor laws, however, would appear to be in favor of artists as they clearly stipulate that interns cannot “perform productive work” (i.e. work on the production of a film) without being compensated with at least minimum wage and overtime pay. (Minimum wage, by the way, is $7.67 per hour in Florida.)
As animation education programs proliferate around the United States and competition intensifies for a finite number of jobs, studios find themselves in a position to exploit young artists more aggressively than ever before. Whether it’s Titmouse relocating its studio nearly 3,000 miles away to avoid paying its employees union wages or Digital Domain making people pay to work on its films, there are plenty of legal loopholes that studios can exploit to save a buck on the backs of their production crews. And some studio CEOs are so proud of themselves that they’ll publicly boast about how they’re getting away with it.
(Photo of Debbie and John Trextor via TCPalm.com)
British animation artist Edd Gould passed away on Sunday, March 25 from leukemia. He was the creator of the popular online animation series Eddsworld, which achieved a devoted following on numerous video platforms including Newgrounds and YouTube. On YouTube alone, his shorts have been viewed over 80 million times. The Eddsworld universe also included comics and Flash games. Gould animated all the shorts, co-wrote them, and provided some of the voices. It is not clear at this point whether the series will continue without his participation, but the rest of the Eddsworld crew has promised fans that they will finish the two-part episode that Gould was working on at the time of his death.
(Thanks, David OReilly)
Since last Friday’s news that you’re leaving Disney, you’ve launched a new parlour game What Will Glen Keane Do? Everyone is wondering: Will he jump to another studio? Will he work on his personal artwork? Will he attempt to create a feature film independently as Richard Williams is currently doing? This letter humbly offers my suggestion for what you should consider doing.
If the outpouring of sentiment surrounding your departure is any indication, you’re one of the few verifiable superstars in animation. Over five thousand people reblogged the news of your resignation on Tumblr alone. You’re riding a wave of decades of built-up goodwill, and fans are invested in your career as they are in the work of few other animators.
Animation and Disney lovers are clamoring to see what you do next, and more than anything, it seems they want to see you make a personal animated film. It doesn’t seem to matter what that film is, or whether it’s a feature or short subject–just so long as you’re directing it. This is your moment to blow our minds. You can reset the animation world with the most stunning animated film we’ve ever seen, a no-holds-barred work of pure artistry without restrictions or interference.
The timing could not be more ripe. Right now we are witnessing a paradigm shift in which artists increasingly receive their funding directly from fans, not business investors and corporations. Crowdfunding has taken off in the last year in all areas of creative culture. Video game designer Tim Schafer (Day of the Tentacle, Full Throttle, Grim Fandango) recently concluded a Kickstarter campaign to fund a “point-and-click” graphic adventure game. He aimed to raise $400,000 and ended up with $3.3 million. Comic artist Rich Burlew raised $1.25 million on Kickstarter to reprint his webcomic Order of the Stick. Comedian Louis CK self-produced his latest special and sold it online, reaping over $1 million in just a couple weeks. He ended up donating more than a quarter-million dollars to charity.
No animator has yet to pull in the kind of crowd-funding numbers as the examples above, but then again, no animator with your name recognition has attempted the feat. By forming a direct relationship with your fans, it’s a virtual guarantee that you can do whatever you want. That includes raising the money you need to create a personal animated film, and more than enough to pay for a healthy crew of assistants, clean-up artists, and others. And, if like, Louis CK, you already have enough money to produce the work independently, just know that there are many fans waiting to see your work.
Few Disney animation superstars, past or present, have created personal animation projects. Among the Nine Old Men, only Ward Kimball ever created an animated short on his own time, and that film was only a few minutes long. You have the unique opportunity to change that history. In your resignation letter, you wrote that, “I am convinced that animation really is the ultimate art form of our time with endless new territories to explore. I can’t resist its siren call to step out and discover them.”
Everyone supports you in your desire to discover the art form’s new vistas. I sincerely feel that your best opportunity for exploring that creative vision is to do it independently–with the backing of your thousands of fans and admirers.
Best of luck,
The word of the year for Internet content is CHANNELS. Google’s YouTube announced last fall that they’re partnering with media companies and celebrities to launch one hundred channels of original content in 2012. They’re expected to officially unveil the channels next month. But those who aren’t funded by the deep pockets of Google will be joining the fray too. Among the early animation-related channel contenders will be YooToon, which is created by Butch Hartman, creator of TV series like Fairly OddParents and Danny Phantom.
Butch Hartman follows in the footsteps of Rocko’s Modern Life creator Joe Murray who launched his Kaboing TV channel last year. Cartoon Brew noted last January that Murray’s channel has struggled to gain traction with viewers. It has debuted just one new piece of content in the last seven months. Murray’s experiences highlight the challenge for established show creators wishing to translate their success in producing mainstream animation to programming an Internet channel. It remains to be seen how Hartman will cater to the tastes of Internet animation viewers who, thus far, have favored content that is vastly different in tone than normal TV fare.
Hartman’s YooToon channel has yet to officially debut, but he is promoting the channel on Facebook and Twitter, while soliciting submissions on Tumblr. Filmmakers: be sure to review YooToon’s terms carefully before submitting. The biggest red flag for any creator, amateur or experienced, should be the following language: “If my video is selected, I understand that I grant exclusive and sole ownership of my video to YOOTOON Studios upon submission.”
UPDATE: YooToon has updated its submission form since Cartoon Brew posted about the channel few hours ago. But they haven’t updated the terms, and the channel still claims ownership over the films Hartman chooses for his channel. The new “details” posted on the submission form are vague beyond reason and create more questions than answers:
YOO retain all rights to your animated creation, we just own the particular video you submit. We want your idea to succeed! If it attracts an audience under the YooToon banner, we will provide the funding deemed necessary by YooToon to make more videos. If the idea REALLY takes off and goes viral, YooToon will strike a best effort deal with the creator to make the video into an online series! Imagine, you could be making an online series with Butch Hartman!
(Thanks, Jace Diehl)
As if yesterday’s news of the Nine Old Men flipbook set wasn’t tantalizing enough, there’s also the Mary Blair Treasury of Golden Books planned for release on August 7. The volume collects Mary Blair’s essential children’s book illustration, along with a foreword by her biographer John Canemaker. More from the publisher:
Fans of illustrator Mary Blair will cherish this never-before-published treasury of her Golden Books, which includes material that hasn’t been in print in decades. I Can Fly is here in its unabridged glory, as are Baby’s House, The Up and Down Book, and The Golden Book of Little Verses. Many of the finest pages from The New Golden Song Book are included, to round out this gorgeous collection. All of the original artwork has been digitally reproduced, and has never looked more breathtaking!
Pre-order is $13.59 on Amazon.
A new animated piece by Theodore Ushev is always cause for celebration. His latest, “Demoni,” is a zoetrope-inspired music video for the Bulgarian band Kottarashky & The Rain Dogs. Ushev, whose artwork tends to be dramatic (Lipsett Diaries, Tower Bawher, Drux Flux), takes a light-hearted turn in this video and fills a series of spinning records with playful bouncing shapes and figures. Graphically, he’s playing in the same sandbox as early-20th century surrealists and abstract painters. One imagines if Miro, Kandinsky and Klee had teamed up to make an animated music video, it would have looked something like this.
Theo describes his process:
The animation film was created using about 50 vinyl recordings. It was painted directly on the plates with oil and gel paint markers, and acrylics. Different speeds of the “Viking” gramophone were used to create the movement. Some shots were done also with stopmotion using a Canon 5D, Carl-Zeiss macro lenses.
The Archive Series–Walt Disney’s Nine Old Men: The Flipbooks will release on September 18. This pet project of UP director Pete Docter is among the more unique book concepts, and pays tribute to the work of the Nine Old Men in the best way possible: by displaying scenes their animation work. Amazingly, none of the Nine Old Men’s full animation scenes have been made available to the public before, which makes this both a valuable historical and educational project.
There’s no better choice than Docter to spearhead the project; he’s a big fan of the flipbook format and creates a flipbook ever year as his personal Christmas card. Here’s the official book description:
This box set of nine flip books pays tribute to Walt Disney’s original animators–the Nine Old Men: Les Clark, Eric Larson, Frank Thomas, John Lounsbery, Ward Kimball, Ollie Johnston, Mark Davis, Wolfgang Reitherman, and Milt Kahl. Each flip book features a scene from an animated Disney feature in its original line-drawn form, having been selected from among a wide range of films for great movement and classic characters. Such iconic clips from the reel of Disney animation history include: Lady and the Tramp’s moonlit spaghetti dinner; Sorcerer Mickey’s ordeal with a horde of mops; and Thumper’s announcement that a prince has been born! In addition to the flip books, the box will contain a booklet providing additional information about the artists.
List price is $60, but pre-order for $37.42 on Amazon.
In the course of reading up on Glen Keane, I ran across this extensive gallery of Glen’s figure drawings and sketchbook studies. They’re available for sale at the Galerie Arludik in Paris, but at $2,500 per drawing, all I can afford is the JPGs.
Thirty-seven years! That’s the length of time that Glen Keane worked at Disney Feature Animation and it’s the figure that stood out to me in yesterday’s surprise announcement that he was leaving Disney. How does that length of employment compare to the Nine Old Men and other famous Disney artists? The list below shows a cross-section of well known Disney artists, past and present, and how long each of them worked (or more appropriately, survived) at the studio.
LENGTH OF EMPLOYMENT FOR FAMOUS DISNEY ARTISTS
|John Hench||64 years|
|Burny Mattinson||59 years|
|Eric Larson||52 years|
|Les Clark||49 years|
|Woolie Reitherman||48 years|
|Ken Anderson||44 years|
|Frank Thomas||43.5 years|
|Ollie Johnston||43 years|
|Marc Davis||43 years|
|Milt Kahl||42 years|
|Ward Kimball||40.5 years|
|John Lounsbery||40 years|
|Ron Clements||38 years|
|Ham Luske||37 years|
|GLEN KEANE||37 years|
|Mark Henn||31.5 years|
|Andreas Deja||30.5 years|
|Ruben Aquino||30 years|
|Joe Grant||28 years|
|Bill Peet||27 years|
|Fred Moore||20.5 years|
|Eric Goldberg||15 years|
|Art Babbitt||9 years|
|James Baxter||9 years|
|Bill Tytla||9 years|
(Note: Many artists, like Keane himself, left the studio and returned. I’ve tried to take those departures into account while compiling the list, but if you find inaccuracies, please let me know.)
The Twitterverse reaction to Glen Keane’s resignation from Disney is all over the map. Many fans are wishing him well and excited to see what he’ll do next, while others are bawling their eyes out and some are blaming Disney for his departure. Here’s a sampling of the animation fan reactions on Twitter:
It’s the end of an era. This is the full text of Glen Keane’s letter sent out to his Disney co-workers within the last hour:
March 23, 2012
Dear Colleagues and Friends of the Walt Disney Animation Studio,
After long and thoughtful consideration, I have decided to leave Disney Animation.
I am convinced that animation really is the ultimate art form of our time with endless new territories to explore. I can’t resist it’s siren call to step out and discover them.
Disney has been my artistic home since September 9,1974. I owe so much to those great animators who mentored me—Eric Larson, Frank Thomas and Ollie Johnston—as well as to the many other wonderful people at Disney whom I have been fortunate to work with in the past nearly 38 years.
Over these four decades I have seen so many changes, but the one thing that remains the same is that we all do this because we love it.
I am humbled and deeply honored to have worked side by side so many artists, producers and directors during my career here at Disney, and I am tremendously proud of the films which together we have created. I will deeply miss working with you.
With my most sincere and heartfelt good wishes for your and Disney’s continued artistic growth and success,
People posting on Twitter have independently verified our original story. Glen Keane has left Disney’s Feature Animation studio. He worked at Disney for approximately 37 years. Disney artists received an email late-Friday afternoon LA time with the text: “Glen Keane has decided that the time has come to take the next step in his personal exploration of the art of animation.” (UPDATE: Cartoon Brew has the exclusive full text of Glen Keane’s letter to his co-workers.) Keane had worked at Disney since 1974, though he left the studio in 1986 and worked as a freelancer for a period of time. If you have more info, please contact me.
All Luciano Foglia wanted to do was create an animation app exploring the “visual geometry containing the non-explicit description of sexual organs or activity.” Apple rejected it from their App Store on these grounds:
Apps that present excessively objectionable or crude content will be rejected. We found that many audiences would find your app concept objectionable, which is not in compliance with the App Store Review Guidelines.
Foglia’s piece suggests the power of abstraction in art. When placed in a certain sequence, even the simplest marriage of form and color can be considered “objectionable” and “crude.” Mason Gentry on Vimeo suggested a way for Foglia to extend his experiment:
“I think you should make it slightly more abstract, then resubmit the app. And if it gets rejected again, make it even more abstract. Continue the process until we have a definitive example of what Apple thinks is and isn’t porn.”