Clay animation can be a magical medium when the material is allowed to be itself and not dressed up to look like something else. This is something that animators like Bruce Bickford and David Daniels understood, as does CalArts Experimental grad Allison Schulnik. The pulsating figures in her new short Mound are reminiscent of an earlier Grizzly Bear music video of hers that I posted in 2009, but there’s also some fun new visual concepts, particularly the sequence that begins at the two-minute mark.
Film by Allison Schulnik
Cinematography by Helder K. Sun.
“It’s Raining Today” written by Noel Scott Engel
It’s been an Eyvind Earle kind of week. A couple days ago I stumbled onto an obscure post-Sleeping Beauty Chevrolet commercial that he directed and animated. And tonight I found this half-hour documentary that was written and narrated by him shortly before he died in 2000. The film contains lots of personal history, more of his rarely seen commercial and abstract animation, and a generous serving of his personal philosophies about life. Watch the entire program in three parts:
Speaking of color scripts, I have to point out an interesting and visually striking film experiment by Dice Tsutsumi, whose Toy Story 3 color scripts are featured in the new Pixar book.
Dice’s passion project for the past few years has been Sketchtravel, an idea that he hatched with illustrator Gérald Guerlais, and which features the participation of some of the world’s most well known illustrators, comic artists and animators. (We’ve written about it before on Cartoon Brew.) The project has finally come to a conclusion: an auction of the original sketchbook artwork was held last week and raised over $100,000 for charity. A printed version of the book is now available in France, too.
To support the Sketchtravel project, Dice made the following animated short using his color scripting technique:
In an email, he explained the challenge of making an animated film as someone who comes from a painting background:
“Since I’m not an animator, my focus is to carry a story through all the visual staging elements – color, lighting, and composition. I painted every single frame of the film by myself with a little help from friends and a small amount of After Effects movements. It took me six months to complete it while I was preparing for the auction event.”
This two-minute Chevrolet spot is a pretty epic bit of advertising, but you may be even more surprised to learn who made it. It’s this guy:
The artist responsible for this:
Around 1960, Eyvind Earle, the production designer of the Disney classic Sleeping Beauty, formed his own company Eyvind Earle Productions. The first spot he produced was this Chevrolet piece, which he made in two weeks. According to his autobiography Horizon Bound on a Bicycle, he was paid $16,000, which in today’s dollars would be around $122,000. That’s not bad for a one-man cut-out production, most of which was animated under camera.
Let’s give it up for Google! October 21 marks the 100th anniversary of animation legend Mary Blair‘s birth, and Google honored her with the Google Doodle above. And credit to the Google artist who drew it, Mike Dutton.
Just for the record, Disney’s own website has done nothing (as far as I can tell) to commemorate Mary Blair’s birth, though when I went there, I was treated to a pop-up congratulating me on being selected to take a Disney Online survey.
If the opening titles written on what appear to be toilet paper rolls aren’t an indication, “Le Soleil Chante” (“The Sun Sings”) has a certain quirky, hand-crafted charm. It was made over eighteen months by Delphine Burrus for French musician Ignatus, who has also used animation in past videos like “Dans l’herbe” and “Les p’tits chiens”. There’s some behind-the-scene photos here, which show the tiny set, as well as all the fabric, plaster, wire and cardboard that went into its making.
Nightingales in December is a hauntingly beautiful three-minute short by Theodore Ushev (Lipsett Diaries, Drux Flux). The film’s aggressive flood of painterly imagery, alternately violent and melodic, leaves a powerful impression on the viewer. Perhaps that’s because Ushev makes animated films with an emphasis on the filmmaking part of the equation. He understands that when space, time, and light are manipulated thoughtfully, animation can express a deeper emotional resonance. The individual pieces of artwork in Nightingales in December are lovely, to be sure, but it’s the way that Ushev builds it into an animated film that truly sings.
Tonight in Manhattan: a FREE retrospective screening of work produced by J. J. Sedelmaier Productions. Among the projects that’ll be screened are episodes of “The Ambiguously Gay Duo” from Saturday Night Live and “Tek Jansen” from The Colbert Report, as well as animation from The Daily Show and the Harvey Birdman: Attorney at Law pilot.
The outdoor screening, projected onto a beautiful HD-format LED screen, begins at 7pm at 851 6th Avenue (between 29th and 30th St., behind the Eventi Hotel). The screening is part of the Big Screen Plaza, where Cartoon Brew had a screening earlier this month too. There’s a fancy food court and bar connected to the screening area so come hungry!
These elegantly styled and animated “cartoon modern” titles were made for the Flemish media news programs Voor de Show by Tom Hautekiet and Mark Borgions. Jazz trumpeter Bert Joris provides the music, and the show’s art director is Luc Lemaitre. I don’t know what follows these titles, but they set a nice mood, and evoke a positive feeling, kind of like the opening and closing titles of Calvin and the Colonel.
James Curran created this clever unofficial title sequence for the upcoming Tintin feature incorporating elements from each of the 24 Tintin book in just over one minute. I like the clever contrast between the flat-colored circle and the spherical dimensionality created through the animation.
I’ve been super busy this week, but had to share this image of a Donald Duck brigade from 1930s Serbia. Who were the people under those masks and what were they thinking? The world will never know. More disturbing imagery can be found on the Disney History blog.
It’s unlikely that you’ll miss this, but for the sake of posterity, let us note that Google’s homepage is celebrating the birth of Gumby and Davey and Goliath creator Art Clokey. Clokey, who passed away last year, would have been 90 years old today.