I don’t know about where you live, but popping up all over L.A. are these scary billboards (see above) promoting The Hub, Hasbro and Discovery’s new cable channel. The Good News: it looks to be another 24-hour cartoon channel (remember those?). The Bad News: the cartoons seem to be based mainly on Hasbro branded toy lines (Pound Puppies, My Little Pony, The Transformers, etc.). Apparently, upon further research, there will be live action shows on the schedule (like Fraggle Rock) and several originals (Dan Vs.), but they aren’t advertising those yet… just these creepy looking bug-eyed buggers.
Nick and Disney have nothing to fear… but Cartoon Network better watch its back. The Hub begins broadcasting October 10th.
Over at Parc Asterix, the French theme park based on René Goscinny and Albert Uderzo’s Asterix comic books, there’s an innocent kid’s merry-go-round that just doesn’t look quite right. Asterix’ pal Obelix is used as a model for a merry-go-round seat with, I think, unfortunate results. (Click thumbnails below to enlarge)
When is a Disney feature NOT a Disney feature… when it’s a Touchstone release of an Elton John production. Gnomeo & Juliet is being directed by Kelly Asbury, with a voice cast including Michael Caine, Maggie Smith, Ozzy Osbourne, Patrick Stewart and Emily Blunt. It opens February 11th, 2011.
Last November we reported on a new 14 minute Imax film from director Ben Stassen (Fly Me to The Moon) and Belgium based nWave Pictures called Around the World In 50 Years. Since then, the film was apparently expanded to feature length (85 minutes), populated with an English language voice cast (Stacy Keach, Yuri Lowenthal, Melanie Griffith, Kathy Griffin, Ed Begley Jr., Pat Carroll, Tim Curry, etc.) and released in Europe. In fact, the film was just nominated for a Euro Film Award.
Will it be released in the U.S. and be qualified for Academy consideration this year? Is it any good? Does it remind you of another Oscar winner from 2003?
To support the second printing of his self-published book on the making of Mr. Magoo’s Christmas Carol, Darrell Van Citters has begun a blog. It will be updated at least weekly, probably more, and will include info that wouldn’t fit in the book, trivia, info on ancillary Magoo material (like the upcoming Blu-Ray DVD) and more in-depth profiles of UPA crew members. You can also pre-order the second edition of the book through the blog or the website. If you haven’t already done so, I highly recommend this superb volume.
First up at the blog, Darrell discusses the career of Phil Norman, the unsung title card artist and lettering genius of UPA in the early 1960s. (That’s one of his creepiest, above) Bookmark this and visit it regularly.
Someone posted a rare 1998 cgi test film for an unmade Roger Rabbit 2. If anyone has any background info on this piece, I’d like to hear about it:
UPDATE: Eric Goldberg, who directed this piece, writes in the comments:
Okay, time to put some things to rest.
Rob, Dave, Tom Bancroft, and Eric Guaglione are all correct. It is indeed CGI, from 1998. I directed both pieces, the 2-D and the 3-D, with a view toward directing the animation in the sequel, being developed by Pocahontas producer Jim Pentecost. While time-consuming in 1998 to get this effect, it was, and still is, ground-breaking in my opinion. As we were completing the 2-D with CG props test, I said to Kathleen Gavin, who was heading up offbeat” projects at the time, “Well, everyone already knows the Roger gimmick of tone mattes. Why don’t we see if we can do Roger himself in CG? If we can animate something as fluid and eminently squashy-stretchy as Roger Rabbit, then we can animate anything in CG.” I was also interested in pursuing it to solve the dreaded “foot-float” problem you get when when roto-ing planted feet to an incrementally moving camera. In this case, Roger was tracked perfectly, the same way the dinos in Jurassic Park were tracked perfectly. Whether we would use the technique or not in the sequel, it was to prove that we could do Disney quality animation in CG, which no one had ever attempted before. The Florida team proved me right, in spades, and major kudos to them all.
The next logical step for the studio was to see if we could achieve that kind of animation without pre-animating it as 2-D first. The result was Magic Lamp Theater, now a popular 3-D stereo attraction at Tokyo DisneySea. Again, expensive to do at the time, but this time I did detailed poses, while the CG guys really did the animation, supervised by Jason Ryan. Flash-forward 12 years later, and the tools to do this kind of work are most certainly available, without the need for special expense.
While the Roger sequel never got made, there were plenty of other reasons for that decision as well, involving then-current studio politics. Also, the too-expensive budget that was being considered was based on the original techniques.
This week we welcome Loose Parts (9/18) by Bave Blazek; Tundra (9/17) by Chad Carpenter; Mother Goose and Grimm (9/17) by Mike Peters; Brewster Rockit (9/14) by Tim Rickard; Rhymes With Orange (9/15) by Hilary Price.
(Thanks to our whole comics clipping crew: Jim Lahue, Jed Martinez, Kurtis Findley, Ed Austin, John Hall and Uncle Wayne)
It’s becoming an annual tradition around here, one I hope we celebrate for the next fifty years. Before the day is over, we want to say Happy Birthday to June Foray, the first lady of animation. Your voice is part of the soundtrack to all of our lives.
No, I didn’t think so… and I don’t recommend it, but if you do, we’d love to hear your opinions in the comments below.
I saw the film at a press screening last Monday. It’s strictly grade-B fare and NOT up to current standards (those being the standards practiced these days at Dreamworks, Illumination, Blue Sky, Sony Imageworks, Lucasfilm, etc.). It’s filled with cliche characters, in an unoriginal, cobbled together storyline (think BOLT meets BALTO crossed with LADY AND THE TRAMP). The only saving grace: the last bittersweet vocal performance by Dennis Hopper.
C’mon Furries, I’m counting on you. This one’s right up your alley… let us know what you think.
Starts tonight on Cartoon Network: Genndy Tartakovsky’s latest series (created with Bryan Andrews and Paul Rudish), Sym-Bionic Titan. Anything Genndy does is worth watching… but will it help revive Cartoon Network’s fortunes? Time will tell – in the meantime, what did you think?
CG has been imitating stop-motion for years, but this spot from Buck, the bicoastal (NY & LA) design and animation studio, had me fooled. It perfectly captures the fun of clay-animation.
Directed By: Buck
Creative Director: Orion Tait
Producer: Kitty Dillard
Character Design: Stephen Kelleher, Kent Mudle, Thomas Schmid
Environment Design: Thomas Schmid, Daniel Oeffinger, Jacques Khouri
CG Supervisor: Ryan O’Phelan
Lead Character Animator: Jordan Blit
Additional Animation: Kent Mudle, Ryan O’Phelan, Pete Hamilton
3D Modeling / Layout Artists: Dave Soto, Pete Hamilton, Ryan O’Phelan
Rigging: Vadim Kiyaev, Ryan O’Phelan, Jordan Blit
Lighting / Shading Artists: Michael Lampe, Ryan O’Phelan
Texture Artist: Dave Soto
This video contains a still image from each of the 1000+plus Looney Tunes cartoons released by Warner Bros. from 1930 to 1969 – all to the tune of The Merry-Go-Round Broke Down from a variety of performers, from Mel Blanc to The Three Stooges.
A new animated short from Sascha Ciezata, the animator of When Lynch Met Lucas. Here, famed film director Werner Herzog recounts the time he rescued Joaquin Phoenix from lighting a deadly cigarette. This is not connected to the current Joaquin Phoenix documentary by Casey Affleck.