Heads up on yet another animation event at the Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences. The Sound Behind The Image II: Now Hear This! is an evening celebrating the art of sound in animated films. It will take place at the Samuel Goldwyn Theatre in Beverly Hills on Friday August 8th. Hosted by sound editor Mark Mangini (Looney Tunes: Back In Action, Runaway Brain, Raiders of the Lost Ark, etc.), the presentation begins at 7:30. You can order tickets ($5./students $3) here.
Here’s a rare treat: El Mono Relojero (The Clockmaking Monkey – Argentina, 1938) is only surviving film by the creator of the first animated feature (El Apostol, 1917), Quirino Cristiani (who also created the world’s first animated sound feature, PeludÃ³polis in 1931). The rest of his films perished in a fire in 1962. Oscar Grillo says the voice is by Pepe Iglesias (aka “El Zorro”), the actor who later dubbed into Spanish the voice of the fox in Disney’s Pinocchio. A few months ago Jorge Finkielman posted a rare cel from this film on the Animation Show forum. For more about Cristiani, read Giannalberto Bendazzi’s 1983 article on AWN.
Billy Collins, a former U.S. poet laureate, writes about his love for Warner Bros. Cartoons in today’s Wall Street Journal. This quote sums up the jist of the piece:
Bugs would do the impossible by jumping out of the frame and landing on the drawing board of the cartoonist who was at work creating him. This freedom to transcend the laws of basic physics, to hop around in time and space, and to skip from one dimension to another has long been a crucial aspect of imaginative poetry.
Collins life long enthusiasm for Looney Tunes is evident. The article has several nice illustrations, plugs for several essential reference books and a concise illustrated timeline of the golden age of Hollywood cartoons.
Several years ago I curated a program of CinemaScope cartoon shorts from the 1950s, which I screened at the Ottawa Animation Festival, the Museum of Modern Art and several other venues. While researching the subject, I came upon a small article by Ward Kimball, from Films In Review (March 1954), in which he discusses the subject.
Kimball makes several interesting points referencing his work on Toot Whistle Plunk and Boom and shows the thought Disney’s animators put into using this unique, new screen shape. Kimball notes how wide shots and longer scenes play better in wide screen and how, in CinemaScope, “cartoon characters no longer perform in one spot against a moving background, but are moved through the scenes.” He also makes note of the use of directional Stereophonic sound used in these shorts. (Grand CanyonScope will be released letterboxed and in stereo on the forthcoming Disney Treasures: Donald Vol. 4 later this year).
Kimball’s piece is preceeded by an overview by writer Ed Lubin entitled “Disney Is Still Creative”(!) which touts the studio’s relevancy during the changing animation scene of the early 50s. Click on the thumbnails below to read both articles.
Big news for New York anime fans: acclaimed Japanese animation director Satoshi Kon (Paprika, Perfect Blue, etc.) is coming to New York City this week to personally host a retrospective of his films for the Film Society of Lincoln Center. Kon will be participating in an onstage interview opening night, Friday June 27th, to kick off the series, and will be introducing all the films for the duration of the screenings (June 27-July 1).
Bedrock City, the kitschy little theme park in Custer, South Dakota, was created in 1966 by a coalition of local concrete makers.
Now, artist/photographer Todd Oldham has discovered the park’s inner coolness. Oldham has been creating a series of art books, called Place Space, devoted to unusual environments, covering a variety of subjects – from John Waters quirky Baltimore home to the creative living spaces of art students at the Rhode Island School of Design.
Ammo Books has just released Oldham’s latest, Bedrock City, a collection of photographs of the funky stone age recreation area with an essay (wrapped around the book on the poster/dust jacket) by architect/designer Michael Graves.
This book isn’t for everyone. It’s an art book that’s a piece of art in of itself, but the subject matter is a lot of fun (the book even comes with a set of souvenir postcards). Recommended to all sophisticated Flintstone connoisseurs out there.
Oh, and if minimalist books about the citizens of Bedrock turn you on… I’ve got another one in the works I’ll be telling you more about in a few months.
Was privileged to see two new CG shorts last week: Disney Animation’s Glago’s Guest and Pixar’s Presto. Both films couldn’t be more different, yet both succeed in accomplishing their modest goals with style to spare.
Glago’s Guest is the second film from Disney’s new shorts unit, established by John Lasseter when hne took over the studio. The sole intent of producing new shorts at Disney is to experiment with style, test new techniques, and to develop new directors. Chris Williams was a story artist at Disney (Mulan, etc.) for fourteen years. His original tale of a Russian soldier stationed in a remote Siberian outpost is so far removed from what a Disney cartoon has been, it’s just what the staff needed to flex their muscles. To tell you what happens, or who his guests are, would ruin the experience – but the short is layered in luscious detail, and filled with more heart than most features ten times its length. It’s being released in 3-D on November 26th with Disney’s Bolt and it looks incredible in that format.
Pixar’s Presto is as perfect as any homage to classic Hollywood cartoons could be – especially with it’s opening title tribute to Disney shorts (against burlap) and MGM cartoons (note the type style). The story is a mash up of UPA’s Magic Fluke (1949), Avery’s Magical Maestro (1952), and Jones’ Case of the Missing Hare (1942) – magician versus his adversarial rabbit, who gets revenge via a magical hat. It’s the fast pace, strong poses, appealing characters and visual gags that turn this into a charming original entertainment – top notch fun from first frame to last. An absolute winner from Pixar. Catch it on the head of Wall-E this weekend at a theatre near you.
These shorts are special – that’s something we can’t usually say about short form films. I’m delighted Disney is producing films like these. Could a modern day equivalent of Melody Time grow out of such a program? After seeing these two, that wouldn’t be such a bad idea.
Hope to see you on Tuesday June 24th when we welcome this month’s special guests: Dana Gould (Simpson’s producer writer and comedian), actor-comedian-cartoon voice actor Ron Lynch and the original Tom Servo, J. Elvis Weinstein, as “Dumpster Diver Dan” (pictured with me above). If you haven’t been to the show in a while, we’ve got lots of new material (both comedy and animated) – and the Steve Allen Theatre is air-conditioned! Buy advanced tickets here!
Tom Hignite, the Wisconsin home builder who thinks he’s Walt Disney, is back – in a series of local infomercials which ultilizes lush character animation created by a team of former Orlando studio animators he hired a few years ago. Since his misguided plans for making 2D animated features went bust, Hignite is back to building houses, using poor Flash animation (pictured above) to move his characters, and pretending he’s Uncle Walt in these TV spots. You can read the full story of Hignite’s wacky true-life adventures in this Milwaukee Magazine article – and, if you can stomach it, watch one of his informercials here.
A newly restored, digitally remastered version of Walt Disney’s Sleeping Beauty (1959) will be presented on Friday, July 18, at 7:30 pm at the Samuel Goldwyn Theater in Beverly Hills. Following the screening, a team from Walt Disney Animation Studios including Dave Bossert, creative director of special projects; animator Andreas Deja; Theo Gluck, director of library restoration and preservation; and Terry Porter, sound department chief and head rerecording mixer will participate in a panel discussion hosted by Leonard Maltin.
According to the Academy press release:
This new digital restoration of “Sleeping Beauty” comes from 4K scans of the camera original successive exposure Technirama negative. The 7.1 audio remix was created from the Disney Studio’s 35mm mag elements, including the original 3-track stereo music masters, which were recorded in Berlin in 1958.
Tickets are $5 for the general public and may be purchased online at www.oscars.org, in person at the Academy box office or by mail. Doors open at 6:30 p.m. The Samuel Goldwyn Theater is located at 8949 Wilshire Boulevard in Beverly Hills.
Once again John McElwee, over at his Greenbriar Picture Shows blog, is waxing nostalgic about classic theatrical cartoons. McElwee also posts several vintage Looney Tunes cartoon posters, trade ads and publicity stills to illustrate how these shorts were once marketed.
Ryan, Jeremy, Alex and Tim – The Muks of Mukpuddy Animation in New Zealand – have taken a break from their day to day animation work to work produce this:
According to the creators:
It’s an idea we’ve had for sometime now and has always been something we’ve discussed while doing other jobs. Finally, we put everything aside and put all our effort into making a short. It was created in 3 weeks by the four of us here at Mukpuddy.
Our Flash animated 3 minute pilot is called It’s the Pughs and is the story of a man so desperate for a son that after the birth of his daughter, decides to bring up the poo that follows as “his boy”. The idea is based on our observations of the “typical” New Zealand bloke. The dad who wants nothing more that his boy to be the Rugby player he always wanted to be. As kiwi as this is, it seems to us this is a fairly universal trait.
As disgusting as the idea of raising a poo as a child is, we’ve tried to focus on the relationship between Rudy (the dad) and Peter (his poo son). As much as we embrace that the show will be a lot of gross poo jokes, we like to use the phrase “heartwarming toilet humour”.
Clearly, poop characters (Mr. Hankey, Stinky, Doodie.com, etc.) are here to stay – whether we like it or not. The Muks also have a bunch of production sketches posted on their blog.
Steve Worth posts many worthwhile things on the Asifa Hollywood Animation Archive website, including Mary Blair paintings and Ren & Stimpy storyboards just in the past week. But when he posts a picture of me and Ralph Bakshi, that really gets my attention. Actually, he didn’t post this photo above, yet, he just sent it to me (that’s me on the right of Ralph, with Mighty Mouse producer Tom Klein on the left) – but he did post a bunch of others from the Ralph book party at Meltdown on Saturday night. Bakshi veterans Conrad Vernon, Tom McGrath, Kent Butterworth, John K., Eddie Fitzgerald, Steve Gordon, Tom Minton and Dave Spafford are pictured. The event was a blast, and others who attended (but not captured in a photo) included animators Milt Gray, Mike Kazaleh, George Maestri, Amanda Visell and Michelle Valigura. Go here and enjoy!
I’ve mentioned the amazing work of London’s VooDooDog studio before. Between commercial assignments, the company supports and encourages its animators to create short films. Among the showreels and illustrations on their elaborate website are several of these works: Paul Donnellon’s Figment (above center), a violent battle between man versus toon; Scribble (pictured above left), a burst of pure energy with stick figures; and Maki Yashikuras’ The Girl Who Did Things She Didn’t Like First (aboove right), a charming fable.
Mark your calendars, clear the date… the all-new, craptacular 2008 edition of The Worst Cartoons Ever! – my annual report on the worst animated films in history – will take place on Friday night, July 25th at 9:30pm.
It will take place in Room CDEF in the San Diego Convention Center, as part of the packed-to-the-gills, almost-sold-out San Diego Comic Con. (Preceeding my program is a can’t-miss MST3K cast renuion at 7:15pm).
Just spotted on ebay: a vintage publicity photo showing the producer of the Felix The Cat cartoons, Pat Sullivan, and his wife Marjorie, in Sullivan’s office with an avalanche of Felix drawings. They are apparently judging a “Draw Felix” contest, but of greater interest to me is the rare one-sheet poster (Gym Gems, 1926) tacked to the wall, the Felix doll in the corner, and the many framed, autographed photos of stars of the day. Nice find!
Mark Kausler blogged about the Pre-Code Cartoon show I presented at the Silent Movie Theatre in Los Angeles last Tuesday. It was a smash hit and many people had to be turned away. The theatre has about 160 seats (not 100 as Mark notes) and, by popular demand, a second show was hastily arranged two hours after the first one. I guess running cartoons at the Silent Movie Theatre will be regular thing from now on. Thanks to everyone who attended (or tried to attend). Mark, who loaned me several film prints for the show, also has some photos from the evening, and a list of what we ran, on his blog.
Lucky Brand Jeans is producing cool Oswald the Lucky Rabbit t-shirts for adult men and women. It’s only been 80 years in coming. Gray and grouchy for the men, pink and pissed-off for the ladies. Kids designs coming soon.
The fourth edition of The Animation Show opens tomorrow in Los Angeles (The Nuart), Boston (Kendall Square), Washington DC (E Street Cinema) and San Diego (Ken Cinema). But today we have two copies of The Animation Show Vol. 3 to give away.
The first two people who submit the correct answer via the comments link below will win the prize. CONTEST CLOSED! We have our winners!
What were the names of the two live action feature films directed by Mike Judge?
The awesome2-D end credit sequence from Kung Fu Panda has been posted by Shine Studios in high quality Quicktime. Shine produced this section in collaboration with James Baxter Animation.
“Michael Riley, Shine’s creative director, composed images of traditional Chinese landscapes, calligraphy and 2D character animation set in a 3D landscape all choreographed to the classic Carl Douglas song “Kung Fu Fighting”; remixed by Cee-Lo Green, accompanied by Jack Black. Riley’s concept included reprising the film’s main characters in original cell animations by finding them hidden in a gigantic Chinese calligraphy character.
Rabbit by Run Wrake, City Paradise by Gaelle Denis, Everything Will Be Okay by Don Hertzfeldt, Guide Dog and Shuteye Hotel by Bill Plympton, Game Over by Pes, Learn Self Defense by Chris Harding, ten other amazing shorts and a brand new intro by Beavis and Butt-head. The Animation Show Vol. 3 has just been released by Paramount Home Video, and it’s a must-have.
We have three copies to give away today. The first three people who submit the correct answer via the comments link below will win the prize. CONTEST CLOSED! We have our winners!
Joanna Quinn’s Dreams and Desires is part of Vol. 3. What toliet tissue product did Ms. Quinn do TV commercials for?
It’s being widely reported today that Sony is co-financing a live action/CG Smurfs feature film. I’m not usually the pessimist around here, but this can’t be any good – can it??Variety reports that David Stem and David Weiss (Shrek 2, Jimmy Neutron) are being hired to write the screenplay, and Sony Pictures Animation has certainly made some good films (Open Season, Surf’s Up)… maybe they can pull it off?