Time for another update from animator/sculptor Jason Peltz who sends us the first image (above) of the painted Hornswiggle maquette he is working on. It’s really looking good and I’m delighted that Jason has agreed to create a small number of the them so I can offer several for sale. I have a small waiting list of readers interested in getting one of these limited edition maquettes. If you’d like to be on that list drop me a line at jbeck6540-at-aol.com. The price will be $75. and Jason says he’ll have them ready to ship the week of November 1st. Another update next week.
The latest film from director Michel Ocelot (Kirikou) called Azur et Asmar will open in France next Wednesday, October 25th. Looks like a mix of 2D cut-out style animation and 3D. It’ll certainly be worth checking it out. But as usual, no U.S. release is planned. Here’s the trailer and the synopsis.(Thanks, Sean Dicken)
It’s a shame the latest Scrat short was removed from GoogleVideo yesterday, but today the Blue Sky artists have another treat for us. Check out the Blue Sky Studios Challenge, a new joint artists blog. Artist Jake Parker explains:
Some of us at the studio are actively participating in our own little jam blog. Every week we set a topic and then everyone does their take on it. It’s open to the whole studio so sometimes you get designers, and other times you get production assistants contributing. For the most part it’s Animators, story artists and designers who participate.
Man, this is fun. Check their SpongBob challenge and the Pixar character challenge (and wouldn’t it be great to see Pixar artists take on the Blue Sky characters). The images above and below are from the favorite 1980s TV characters challenge. Beautiful work.
The other night I had a chance to screen the 3-D version of Tim Burton’s The Nightmare Before Christmas. All things considered, the folks at ILM who converted the film (which was not shot in 3-D in the first place) did a pretty good job. And since it wasn’t designed for 3-D there weren’t many opportunities to have things go deep into the background or pop off the screen, but the effect holds up pretty well throughout the picture. A new introductory countdown piece (featuring a pumpkinhead jack-in-the-box) is the best 3-D gag in the picture. The new Walt Disney Pictures logo looks pretty cool in three dimensions too. This online featurette tries to explain what they did to achieve the new 3-D effects.The original Henry Selick film was always a lot of fun (and let’s not forget Joe Ranft’s important contributions to the story) – and Danny Elfman’s operatic score is one his greatest achievements. A new Special Edition soundtrack album (I snagged a freebie at the screening) contains Danny’s original demo tracks and some great covers by Fionna Apple (Sally’s Song), Marilyn Manson (This Is Halloween) and Fall Out Boy (What’s This?).The new Nightmare opens in theaters this Friday, October 20, along with Pixar’s 3-D short Knick Knack.
Here’s a book I can’t wait to have and hold (and read!). Russell Merritt and J.B. Kaufman have been researching the history of Disney’s Silly Symphonies for a decade. This year, in conjunction with a screening at the Pordenone Silent Film Festival (held last week), the book has finally been published. However, I have no idea how to order a copy or from where. In the meantime, we can whet our appetities by reading Merritt and Kaufman’s film notes for their Pordenone presentation, and this essay they wrote for the on-line Walt Disney Family Museum.
Tower 8 is a growing online narrative that’s told through a series of experimental animations by myself and other directors, centered on the idea that in the future, the earth has undergone major change: its natural resources are near depleted, the oceans have receded and creativity has become a physical force. As of right now we just have the first video up, about a city that has a band as its army that it sends out to defend itself.
It’s a good looking, ambitious piece of work. Danny and his partners, Gavin Brown and Ashtnmike, have also set up a production blog to update its ongoing progress.
Slow day at the Brew. So here’s a lovely animated short, courtesy of YouTube, by the celebrated Czech filmmaker Jiri Trnka. It’s The Merry Circus (1951). Although Trnka is well-known for his puppet films, this piece uses cut-out animation and has a lovely picture-book illustration style to it.It’s split into two parts – part one is below. Part two is here: The Merry Circus – Part 2This and many other great Jiri Trinka films are available on DVD.(Thanks, Firoz Hussain)
Okay, check out this cool music video based on a track by the late hip-hop producer J Dilla. Nothing Like This was produced by Brooklyn based Mixtape Club for Producer/Director Daniel Garcia (sample his incredible work here) for Adult Swim and Stones Throw Records, as part of a mixed media project called Chrome Children. Two other animated videos directed by Garcia will be posted soon on the Adult Swim site. For more information on Chrome Children go here.(Thanks, Delirio & Kaos)
Did you hear the one about the Tom and Jerry commercial in CG…
…selling a flavored milk drink…
…in hebrew? Click Here. Oy Vey!
Bill Melendez (of Disney, Warners and UPA) is one of the last surviving animators from the golden age still working today. Of course his greatest fame came as the director/producer of the Charlie Brown specials and features. With Halloween just around the corner, and in honor of the 40th anniversary of the “Great Pumpkin” TV special, the guys at JustMyShow.com have posted a brief phone call with Bill as a podcast. It’s always fun to hear his voice and to hear him recall the good old days.
Just last week I’d been posting on the upscale urban merchandising initiative Warner Bros. is promoting in an effort to contemporize the Looney Tunes characters. Now this week Disney opens Vault 28, a new store in their Downtown Disney shopping district in Anaheim, which attempts to do essentially the same thing. The L.A. Times wrote a story about in yesterday’s Business section. According to the San Jose Mercury News:
The company also has been trying to reinvent Mickey Mouse and its other characters as trendy and urban. Vault 28, a reference to 1928, the year Mickey debuted in the cartoon “Steamboat Willie,” will sell fashions from celebrity-favored designers and carry lines called Kingdom Couture and DV28, whose clothing depicts classic characters including Tinkerbell, Alice in Wonderland and the Cheshire Cat.
Hey, I’m not against it. At least it’s better than YO YOGI and the “Gangsta Tweety” crap we had to put up with in previous attempts to “hippen” the classic characters. But why not just let the animation speak for itself. There is nothing hipper than that.
If you’ve got 45 minutes to spare, you might enjoy this panel I was on last week at the Disney studio. It was set up by animators Angie Jones and Jamie Oliff to discuss current animation trends discussed in their new book and blog, Thinking Animation. Veteran storyman Floyd Norman, CG director Richard Taylor and I gave our thoughts on various topics. Had I known it’d be recorded and posted online, I might have been more coherent.P.S. Isn’t Floyd Norman the coolest guy in animation?
With several big budget funny animal epics opening almost weekly, 2006 may well go down as the year of CG feature burnout. But 2006 may also be noted for the start of what could, hopefully, be another trend – the dawn of the independent animation revolution. Three strikingly different animated features, being released this year, should be noted. Three, created by individualistic filmmakers who animated their films virtually by themselves.Bill Plympton pioneered the one-man animated feature film. His latest, Hair High, has been on the festival circuit for the past few years, garnering great acclaim. This fall Hair High starts its official theatrical release with initial playdates in Portland, New Mexico and New York City. If you’ve enjoyed Bill’s past features and shorts, you are in for a treat – this is his best yet.Stop motion animator Christiane Cegavske has recently completed Blood Tea And Red String after 12 years of painstaking work. It’s a dark “fairy tale for grown ups” and has posted some great reviews upon its opening last week in Manhattan.Hollywood animator Phil Nibbelink spent four-and-a-half years making Romeo & Juliet: Sealed With A Kiss. According to Steve Gordon on Animation Nation:
Phil animated all 112,000 drawings on a graphic tablet in Flash and painted the backgrounds with Painter. From what I can tell from the trailer it doesn’t look like typical flash, it looks like normal 2D. He also used a program (that I’ve never heard of before) called Moho for some limited shots and crowd scenes.
Nibbelink is trying to compete with the traditional studios’ G-rated kiddie pics. It opens in selected California cities on Oct. 27th.All three share the fact that they are low budget productions; that each is recieving limited theatrical showings; and that each expect to recoup their costs with DVD sales. Each of them provide an alternative to the major studio family fare – and hopefully they will inspire other animators to take a chance on their personal projects.
Cartoonist Patrick Owsley has started a blog. He’s one of the rare few character merchandising artists who seem to be channeling the spirit of the original creators. Patrick was on-staff at Warner Bros. Consumer Products as an Inker/Character Artist from 1997 through 2002 and, while there, created licensing character art of just about all of the classic Hanna-Barbera characters (Flintstones, Jetsons, Huckleberry Hound, Top Cat, etc.), and all of the Looney Tunes characters (Bugs, Daffy, Porky, etc.). Since 2002, Pat’s done a lot of inking on various SIMPSONS comic book stories for Bongo, as well as inking and hand-lettering for the Spumco Comic Book. Lately he’s been creating licensing character art for Classic Media in New York (Underdog, Mr. Magoo and Tennessee Tuxedo, to name a few).He plans to post much of this material – and some of his personal art – on the new blog. And I plan to keep checking in – this guy is good!
The Associated Press posted an obit by John Rogers for Ed Benedict last night, and it’s been picked up by USA Today, ABC News, San Francisco Chronicle and other media outlets today. Of course we informed our readers of Ed’s passing, with a tribute here, back on August 30th. Since the AP story is driving new readers to the Brew today, I thought we’d post a couple great photos, taken by Spumco/Spongebob story artist Richard Pursel. At top is one of Ed and John Kricfalusi holding dolls based on characters they designed (John, on the left, is holding Ed’s Flintstone, Ed is holding John’s doll Jimmy) taken at Ed’s home in Carmel, back in 1996. Below is Pursel getting beaten by Ed and John (click on the pic for the full-sized version). For more examples of Ed Benedict’s amazing talent, please check out this section of Animation Blast online.
Hornswiggle, the cartoon short I produced for Frederator’s Random Cartoons show, will be broadcast on Nickelodeon sometime in 2007. The latest word is that the formatted half hour (consisting of three six minute shorts) will air on the Nicktoons Network starting in January, and during the rest of the year the individual cartoons will air separately, as interstitials, on Nickelodeon. I’ll keep you posted with actual dates and times when I find out more information myself.Meanwhile, in related news, former Disney animator Jason Peltz has started sculpting a Hornswiggle maquette! Jason has made, through his Orlando-based Peltz Productions, numerous maquettes for various clients (see his website for samples of his great work). Check out the one he made for Bill Wray’s Cartoon Network pilot King Crab, Space Crustacean.Jason’s sculpt of Hornswiggle is turning out so good (see the work-in-progress pics above and below), I’ve decided to make a small herd of them available for sale. The final painted versions, mounted on a base, will be available November 1st. Further reports in the next few weeks will update Jason’s progress. If you are interested in purchasing one of these beauties, drop me a line at jbeck6540-at-aol.com, and I’ll put you on the list. The cost will be $75. (post paid).
In case you missed the Gallery 1988 Cheshire Cat show, We’re All Mad Here, don’t fret. The good folks at Vinyl Pulse have posted most of the pieces here and the Gallery itself is selling all of them online. Surreal stuff by the likes of Amanda Visell, Anthony Ausgang (above), Carlos Ramos and many others.
If you’ve written for TV Animation, you might be eligible for a 2006 Writers Guild Award. The Writers Guild is looking for nominees in this category and sent along this information:
Awards are presented in simultaneous ceremonies in New York and Los Angeles in February. For those in the east, details and submission forms can be found online at wgaeast.org and in the west at wga.org – or you can call the Writers Guild of America East at (212) 767-7805 or the WGA West at (323) 951-4000.It’s free and easy to apply. You don’t even have to be a member of the Writers Guild. Your script must air (or have aired) for the first time between December 1st 2005 and November 30th, 2006. The deadline for submissions is October 13th, which is next Friday. So hurry up! You might wind up with an impressive and heavy industry award!
In case you were wondering (like I was the other night) what ever happened to Chuck Jones’s final productions, the Thomas J. Timberwolf internet cartoons… well wonder no more. I found them here. Not sure how much Chuck was involved with these, outside of character design, but they are pretty good for early Flash animation efforts.
I got some photos of the bizarre DRx Looney Tunes mural in Hollywood, which I mentioned in this post a few days ago. It fills an entire wall… and apparently the painting “evolved” over several weeks. Below is a later, more gruesome, version. Click on photo below for a larger image.With Looney Tunes for all intents and purposes off the air (save for a precious few appearances on Boomerang and TCM), and the LOONATICS revamp on Kids’ WB! ruining the characters as a children’s brand, I will give Warner Bros. some credit for not giving up on the original designs and aiming this marketing effort towards older teens and adult consumers.
Here’s a music video (below) I found on YouTube relating to this new merchandising agenda. For more information about this DRx campaign, check out the What’s Up, DRx website.
I’ve been complaining for years about the fact that very few of the animated features produced outside the U.S. ever get distribution (or even shown) in North America. One outlet, however, is The Waterloo Festival for Animated Cinema (WFAC) – located in beautiful Kitchener-Waterloo, Ontario Canada – a bona fide annual film festival dedicated to showing many of these inernational animated feature films in an actual theatrical setting – the way they’re supposed to be seen.This year the four day festival runs from November 16-19. The full program will be posted on November 1st, but already scheduled to screen are:
Fimfarum 2 (Jan Balej / Aurel Klimt / Bretislav Pojar / Vlasta Posp”ïÂ¿Â½ilovïÂ¿Â½, Czech Republic, 2006). Four adaptations of Jan Werich’s stories “for small children and clever adults,” by four master Czech puppet animators of different generations. Fire Ball (Wang Toon, Taiwan, 2006). An animated telling of the Chinese classic “Journey to the West”. Gin-iro no Kami no Agito (“Origin: Spirits of the Past” – Sugiyama Keiichi, Japan, 2006). From Studio GONZO, set in a future world 300 years from now, in which nature has turned against man. Kirikou et les B’tes Sauvages (“Kirikou and the Wild Beasts” – Michel Ocelot, France, 2005). Sequel to the wonderful Kirikou and the Sorceress. (pictured above) Knyaz Vladimir (“Prince Vladimir” – Yuri Kulakov, Russia, 2006). The story of the rise of the historical figure Prince Vladimir Svyatoslavovich (960-1015 A.D.). Pettson and Findus: Pettson’s Promise (Anders SïÂ¿Â½rensen / JïÂ¿Â½rgen Lerdam, Denmark, 2005). The story of a Swedish Santa Claus. Princes et Princesses (“Princes and Princesses” – Michel Ocelot, France, 2000). A retrospective screening of one of Ocelot’s most beautiful and creative films, in silhouette animation. Princess (Anders Morgenthaler, Denmark, 2006). A clergyman returns home after years of missionary work abroad to take care of his orphaned niece when his sister, a porno star, dies from drug abuse. Robotech: the Shadow Chronicles (Dong-Wook Lee / Tommy Yune, U.S.A., 2006). A new film based on the anime TV series of the 1980′s that began modern anime fandom in North America. Shisha no Sho (“Book of the Dead” – Kawamoto Kihachiro, Japan, 2005). The spirit of a long-dead prince begins to haunt a young noblewoman whom it has mistaken for an ancestor.
Screenings will be held November 16th-19th, 2006 at The Gig Theatre (the Hyland Cinema) in Kitchener-Waterloo, Ontario, Canada. For more information contact program curator Joseph C. Chen via email wfac-at-wfac.ca or through the festival website.
Johannes Nyholm is a fascinating visual artist, animator and filmmaker from Sweden. He’s currently working on a stop motion serial, and the first episode is now online. The Tale of Little Puppetboy, Chapter 1: A Lady Visitor is bizarre fun. And check out the rest of Nyholm’s work on his website, which offers many fine examples of his commercial music videos and personal short films.