Does it bother you when someone calls multiple pieces of animation “animations”? Well, there’s a Facebook group for that: Stop Calling What We Do “Animations”. Frankly, it doesn’t bother me as much as it should. If the craft and creative instincts of the animation are solid, you can call it whatever you want. Plus, it’s a useful term to keep around for distinguishing who knows what they’re talking about and who doesn’t.
Conan O’Brien’s visit with Bruce Timm last December resulted in this faux-trailer for The Flaming C which debuted Friday at the Comic-Con.
Love this never-before-seen image of Walt Disney that popped up on-line recently.
(via Disney History)
The Animation Collaborative is a new series of animation workshops that take place in Emeryville directly across the street from the Pixar campus. While not affiliated with the studio, all of the school’s teachers work at Pixar. In my opinion, the class prices, which range from $1,400 (8-week summer sessions) to $1,900 (13-week fall sessions) are too steeply priced for a school that has no official accreditation, so you’re essentially paying a celebrity surcharge for learning at a school run by Pixar artists. On the plus side, class sizes are intimate (8 people) and if you stand outside of the school long enough, perhaps John Lasseter will wave to you as his chauffeur drives him home.
No one turns to the Wall Street Journal for insightful animation coverage, but that’s still no excuse for this egregious error in an article about the use of motion capture on Rise of the Planet of the Apes:
The film, which follows the development of the chimp Caesar from baby to adult, takes advantage of “motion capture,” a technology the visual-effects company Weta Digital Ltd. first developed for the 2009 blockbuster “Avatar” and has evolved one step further.
The sentence is written in such a way as to imply that Weta developed motion capture, which it clearly did not. Motion capture is a major filmmaking technology that has been used in dozens of films and has been utilized for decades. A newspaper claiming that it was invented in 2009 by Weta defies comprehension.
Bold colors and playful visual rhythms merge in Anton Setola‘s Jazzed, a film animated in TVPaint. Finished in 2008, Jazzed had a long festival run and was posted on-line yesterday by the filmmaker.
Are you an animation artist artist who will be exhibiting your wares at San Diego Comic-Con or TR!CKSTER this week? If so, use the comments section to tell everybody where you’ll be and what you’re selling.
(Note: If you know how to use an HTML image tag, feel free to add images as well. Just keep them below 420px so the site layout doesn’t break.)
Winnie the Pooh, Disney’s first hand-drawn animated feature since 2009′s The Princess and the Frog, opened in 6th place with $7.85 million dollars. Cars 2, another Disney release, pocketed $8.4M in its fourth weekend, good enough for a 5th place finish and an overall gross of $165.4M. Below are the openings for the other recent films in the Pooh franchise:
The Tigger Movie (2000): $9.4M
Piglet’s Big Movie (2003): $6M
Pooh’s Heffalump Movie (2005): $5.8M
The film’s reason for existence has nothing to do with box office, however. Like Cars 2, it appears to be a corporate obligation first and foremost. Winnie the Pooh is the second-largest character franchise in the world, earning $5.7 billion in revenue last year. To put that into perspective, Pooh earned more in 2010 than the combined Toy Story and Cars franchises, which are the fifth and sixth highest-earning character franchises.
The world’s most valuable franchise is Disney’s Mickey Mouse, which took in $9 billion last year. If the company’s approach to its other top-earning franchises like Pooh, Cars and Toy Story is any indication, could a Mickey Mouse feature be that far off?
Tod Polson (El Tigre, The Secret of Kells) announced recently that he’s putting together a book on Maurice Noble that will be published in 2012 by my pals at Chronicle Books. Polson knew him as well as anybody, and I have no doubt he’s going to make this something special. This book will not only give Maurice his due, it’ll also make up for the disappointingly shallow biography of Noble that was published a few years back.
Tod describes the project on his blog:
The last few years of his life, Maurice had been working on a design textbook that described his approach to design. Unfortunately he passed away before he was able to complete the text. For most of the last year I have been working with Chronicle Books in putting together what I hope will be the book that Maurice had dreamed of. It will be chocked full of his pre-production art, notes, and thoughts from the master himself describing his process. The book will also be full of reflections from folks that knew and worked with him.
Here’s a fun foreign culture lesson for a Friday. Teru Teru Bozu by Brooklyn-based Lori Samsel reinterprets a traditional Japanese nursery rhyme through animation. The song illustrates the uniquely Japanese custom of making small white paper or cloth dolls, which represent Buddhist monks, and hanging them from windows as an amulet to bring out the sun and stop the rain. The Wikipedia entry about the song is fascinating, and discusses the sinister history of the 1920s song:
This song is rumored to have a darker history than it first appears. It allegedly originated from a story of a monk who promised farmers to stop rain and bring clear weather during a prolonged period of rain which was ruining crops. When the monk failed to bring sunshine, he was executed.
Lori’s distinctive animation technique is also worth noting. She told me that she roughed out all the animation in After Effects, printed out each frame, inked it onto paper, and scanned it back into the computer.
An intriguing trailer for The Monster of Nix, a new half-hour animated short by Dutch director Rosto (Jona/Tomberry). He describes the short, which debuted in Annecy last month, as an “existentialist musical fairytale.” Rosto composed the music himself and wrote on his website that, “A major source of inspiration has been Disney’s Silly Symphonies from the Thirties.” Tom Waits and Terry Gilliam provide voices. More info at MonsterofNix.com.
For my money, cut-out animation is still one of the most charming animation techniques when done well. Take for instance The Red Heels (Les Talons Rouges) by Olesya Shchukina. The Russian-born animator produced the cut-out piece at the French animation school La Poudriere for an assignment to make a one-minute film from a child’s point of view. Watch The Red Heels on her website.
Last weekend, Cars 2 grossed $15.2 million boosting its total to $148.8 million. The film is currently on a pace to be one of Pixar’s lowest grossing films, and it will almost certainly be the studio’s least-attended film ever in the United States. Cars 2 is performing better overseas than its predecessor with $121.6 million to date, breaking Disney’s opening record in Argentina with $3.3 million and accruing $21.1 million to date in Mexico.
The film appears to be following a similar trajectory to a recent sequel from another studio, Kung Fu Panda 2, which also failed to meet US expectations but performed respectably overseas. Kung Fu Panda 2 has brought in just $159.3 million in the US after eight weekends, which puts it in the range of Shark Tale‘s 2004 gross. The $400 million from overseas softens the blow, but the message is clear: 3-D or not, audiences in the US are tired of animated sequels that don’t have anything new to offer. That may not be good news for Happy Feet 2 which opens in a few months.
Two things stand out about this architectural mapping piece by Paris-based 1024 Architecture which debuted in Lyon, France last year:
1.) The building deformations were audience-controlled via a microphone and an audio analysis algorithm.
2.) Unlike most architectural mapping projects that use abstract imagery, they turned this building into an identifiable character, kind of like a real-life Monster House.