Here’s a toast to British animation legend Bob Godfrey who turns ninety years old today. Read a tribute to Bob on the VanArts school website. Better yet, watch this BBC TV episode about Bob from the 1970s:
In today’s edition of Kyle Carrozza and John Berry’s Frog Raccoon Strawberry, January and Strawberry attend a cartoon convention where they encounter a grouchy and pedantic animation historian named Imad Imadi. I’m so glad I don’t know anybody like that.
“I think it’s a really sad state. We’re in the 21st century and there are so few stories geared towards girls, told from a female point of view.”
The article goes on to say that she was fired from Brave over “creative differences” and that she is currently on a leave of absence from Pixar, though she will receive a directing credit on the film. My guess — and it’s only a guess — is that she has to remain with the company contractually until the film is completed in order to receive her credit.
1. 3D Ruins Regular Movies Too
The Boston Globe published a damning exposé about irresponsible theater chains like AMC, National Amusements, and Regal that often leave the 3D projector lenses on for 2D movies, thereby dimming regular movies and draining them of color to the point where they can’t be enjoyed. So why don’t they just switch the lenses on the Sony digital projectors you ask? How about DRM foul-ups:
James Bond, a Chicago-based projection guru who serves as technical expert for Roger Ebert’s Ebertfest, said issues with the Sonys are more than mechanical. Opening the projector alone involves security clearances and Internet passwords, “and if you don’t do it right, the machine will shut down on you.” The result, in his view, is that often the lens change isn’t made and “audiences are getting shortchanged.”
2. Fake Indian Animation Schools
Times of India reports about an epidemic of fly-by-night animation schools in India. Over 10,000 students have been suckered by these schools with the promise of receiving a quality education and jobs:
Anshuman Kaushik, who took admission in 2D animation in Nupur Media, which collaborated with Jawaharlal Nehru Technological University said that he paid Rs 1.6 lakh for the 10-month course which the company terminated after the first six months. “There were 30 students in the class. Just before the company shut down, about 15 students were given offer letters by Nupur Media House. Later we realised that the company was not even registered,” said Kaushik who is now planning to take a regular course in animation from a reputed university.
3. Arnold’s Cartoon Probably Still Happening
After it was revealed that California’s inept ex-governor Arnold Schwarzenegger was producing little Latino-American Arnolds with women that were not his wife, the producers of the Governator animated series announced that they “have chosen to not go forward with the Governator project.” That seemed like a prudent and responsible decision by the production companies, until they issued a revised statement that read, “In light of recent events, A Squared Entertainment, POW, Stan Lee Comics, and Archie Comics, have halted production.” Subtle wording change, but big difference. What they’re really saying is, “We’re probably still going to make this show even though Arnold is an awful role model for kids, but we’ll just wait until the whole affair business blows over.” Of course, they’ll have to make some minor changes to the original idea, which according to Stan Lee, would have used “all the personal elements of Arnold’s life. We’re using his wife. We’re using his kids.”
(Thanks, Karl Cohen, for the India link)
Advice from John Lasseter on how to wear Hawaiian shirts: “Don’t just pick a shirt to wear, but pick the subject matter of the shirt to match what you’re doing in the day.” That is, of course, easier to do when you own over one thousand Hawaiian shirts as Lasseter does, including 374 in active rotation.
Peter Hartlaub of the San Francisco Chronicle received a fun tour of the collection:
This photo of Kung Fu Panda 2 director Jennifer Yuh Nelson attending the film’s premiere earlier today was posted onto DreamWorks’s Twitter account. A Korean-American, she is (I believe) the first female Asian director of a major animated feature.
The lack of racial and gender diversity in Hollywood animation, particularly in the upper-tier creative positions, has always been disheartening to me, largely because the lack of different points of view is reflected in the animation that appear in theaters and on TV. It’s encouraging to see a new generation of directors, like Yuh Nelson and Rio‘s Carlos Saldanha, who don’t fit the traditional animation director mold. Here’s her official bio from the studio:
Jennifer Yuh Nelson has lent her talents to four of DreamWorks Animation’s motion pictures: 2008’s Kung Fu Panda (as head of story), 2005’s Madagascar (as story artist), 2003’s Sinbad: Legend of the Seven Seas (as head of story) and 2002’s Spirit: Stallion of the Cimarron (also as story artist).
Prior to joining DreamWorks, Nelson worked at HBO Animation, developing various projects and short series. She has worn many hats, serving as director, story artist and character designer for HBO’s animated series Spawn, which won an Emmy Award in 1999 for Outstanding Animated Program.
Nelson’s career in animation has spanned several countries, including Korea and Japan, where she oversaw animation for HBO. Nelson has also worked in Sydney, Australia, serving as a story artist and illustrator for the live-action feature Dark City for Mystery Clock Productions.
Nelson attended California State University, Long Beach where she received a BFA in Illustration. Nelson has also published several independent comic books.
And here’s an interview with her:
The LA Film Forum presents Triumph of the Wild: New Experimental Animation curated by Eric Leiser. The screening, which presents recent experimental films from the US and Europe, takes place on Sunday, May 22, at 7:30 pm at the Egyptian Theater (6712 Hollywood Blvd.) Three of the filmmakers–Eric Leiser, Alice Cohen, and Gina Marie Napolitan–will appear in person.
Tickets are $10/general admission, $6/students and seniors, and free for Filmforum members. To purchase advance tickets, visit the LA Film Forum website.
Here’s the screening line-up:
These Hammers Don’t Hurt Us by Michael Robinson
(2010, USA, 13 mins)
The External World by David OReilly
(2011, Ireland, 17 mins)
Triumph of the Wild by Martha Colburn
(2009, USA, 10 mins)
Battery Cage by Studio Smack
(2009, Netherlands, 4 mins)
Mirror Moves for Private Eyes by Alice Cohen
(2010, USA, 13 mins)
Mastering Bambi by Persijn Broerson and Margit Luckas
(2011, USA/Netherlands, 13 mins)
Remisequenz by Xenia Lesniewski
(2010, Germany, 3 mins)
City of Progress by Justine Bennet
(2008, Netherlands, 11 mins)
Forest by Eric Leiser
(2008, USA, 3 mins)
Demons and Cathedrals by Gina Marie Napolitan
(2010, USA, 5 mins)
One of my favorite student films from a few years back — 2008, to be exact — has finally appeared on-line: Michal Socha’s Chick (Laska) from Poland. The images in this short stay with the viewer long after the film has ended thanks to a combination of stark production design and energetic animation, especially the jaunty dance of the lady, who appears to be a prostitute. The sex scene (safe for work) illustrates the effectiveness of abstracting an idea in animation instead of literally showing it. It may surprise some viewers to learn that the film was made primarily in CG, using 3D Studio Max along with After Effects and Toon Boom. Dig around the film’s official website to see the storyboards and concept art.
Fox is premiering another new series this fall: Allen Gregory, created by actor Jonah Hill (Get Him to the Greek, Superbad), and Yes Man screenwriters Andrew Mogel and Jarrad Paul. The seven-episode order for the series is being produced by Burbank-based Bento Box Entertainment, which was started a couple years ago by three Film Roman executives.
My favorite publisher Chronicle Books recently announced their fall publishing line-up and it includes three books that may be of interest to Brew readers:
A first of its kind book: Setting the Scene: The Art & Development of Animation Layout by Fraser MacLean. I haven’t seen anything from it, but I know Fraser has been working his tail off to finish the book. It promises to be a comprehensive examination of animation layout practices, both past and present.
Sasquatch’s Big Hair Drawing Book by Chris McDonnell. Chris has worked on animated series like Yo Gabba Gabba! and Tom Goes To The Mayor and also designed Bill Plympton’s new coffeetable art book. His drawing activity book should be something like this.
The Art of Pixar: The Complete Color Scripts and Select Art from 25 Years of Animation by Amid Amidi. Yes, that’s me. But even though my name is on the cover, there won’t be a whole lot of my writing in the book. The book is almost entirely artwork, which is exactly as it should be since it’s called The Art of Pixar. It’ll be all kinds of classy.
Toy Story 3 director Lee Unkrich promised to post an embarrassing old video when he reached 100k followers on his Twitter account. He reached that number yesterday, and the embarrassing video is this appearance on the Eighties game show Win, Lose or Draw. Unkrich prefaced the video with three facts:
1) I was 20 years old
2) I was plump
3) I was coerced into buying that sweater by the show’s producers
Fun question of the day: What other animation artists, besides Unkrich and Ward Kimball, have appeared on game shows? Please share if you know.
Last weekend, Profiles in History in conjunction with Van Eaton Galleries (disclosure: they are an advertiser on Cartoon Brew) staged a massive animation art auction. I’m not a collector, but found it fascinating to browse through the auction results and see what prices the lots commanded as well as what pieces didn’t sell (for example, lots of Fantasia art).
Here’s a sampling of twenty pieces and how much each sold for. The last few prices are staggering.
Max Porter of the husband-and-wife animation team Tiny Inventions wrote a fascinating blog post about the pros and cons of immediately distributing their short Something Left, Something Taken on-line last year instead of waiting for the film to complete its festival run:
I read a comment on a popular film blog a while back that asked how filmmakers could afford to give their work away for free. Ru and I always felt the exact opposite. How could we afford not to put our work online? For us it was simple. We reasoned that the sale of our animation could not possibly generate enough money to sustain our life in New York. By putting our work in a place that people could see it, we actually ended up making far more money from opportunities created from the online presence than we had in previous years.
PS: As further proof that times have changed, Something Left, Something Taken is one of two American shorts competing in the shorts category at Annecy next month.
Fox has released a trailer for their upcoming animated Napoleon Dynamite series based on the 2004 indie live-action comedy of the same name. The show is animated (quite poorly it appears) by Rough Draft Studios. In the cautious post-creator driven era of TV animation, Napoleon Dynamite and Flintstones revivals are as good as it’s going to get on Fox.