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.
“N.Y.C. (No York City)” by Rick Liss is a deliriously energetic pixilation tour of early-Eighties New York, where crime was rampant and mimes infested Central Park. A lot has changed since then, but the city’s relentless, wired bustle remains thankfully the same. The jarring electronic score, an inspired auditory complement, is by Laurie Anderson.
I was thinking recently how wonderful it would be if the Disney Company compiled a Blu-ray Treasures collection of projects directed by Ward Kimball. To be honest, it’s hard to imagine a project like this ever happening, especially under the (dormant) Treasures label where the only name promoted is Walt’s. Still, I can’t help but think there must be some way for the Disney company to recognize the work of its most original and experimental director, or in the words of Walt Disney, “the one man who works for me I call a genius.” Ward has inspired everybody from Hayao Miyazaki to Chris Sanders, and it’s high time to introduce his work to new generations.
Some will point out that a decent amount of Ward’s work is already available: Toot Whistle Plunk and Boom and Melody appeared on the Disney Rarities DVD, and the space specials and Eyes in Outer Space were featured in the Tomorrow Land Treasures. However, a lot of Ward’s most memorable work as a director, including some of the studio’s oft-requested cult favorites, have never been released onto DVD. The majority of these works are from his later period when he was at his satirical peak. As an exercise in wishful thinking, here’s what my ideal Ward Kimball collection would include: Continue reading →