New trailer, more footage. Lookin’ better and better with each glimpse…
From the director of Battle For Terra (remember that film?) comes this post-apocalyptic action short, Exoids. It seems to be a pilot/proof-of-concept film for a larger concept (feature, video game, TV series?). For a small look at the progress from storyboard, to animatic, to final animation: click here.
If you are not at the San Diego Comic Con next Saturday, but find yourself in Northern California – here’s where you should dwell: The San Francisco Silent Film Festival. The wonderful all-women Bay Area musical group Toychestra (that’s not them above), is teaming up with pianist Donald Sosin to create the score for a collection of rare silent FELIX THE CAT cartoons. Archival 35mm prints coming from the UCLA Film & Television Archive, Library of Congress, and George Eastman House will be screened. Titles include Felix the Cat in Blunderland, Felix the Cat Weathers the Weather, Felix Loses Out, Jungle Bungles, Eskimotive, Felix Gets Revenge, and Felix Flirts with Fate. The program will be introduced by Leonard Maltin. Tickets are now on sale for Irrepressible Felix the Cat!, co-Presented by The Exploratorium and The Cartoon Art Museum, on Saturday July 14th, at 10:00am. My advice: Do-Not-Miss!
Disney animator James Lopez is such a fan of the 1974 Disneyland attraction America Sings that he’s taken the soundtrack and has been spending his spare time – over a ten year period – creating a private 2D version of it. Here’s his work-in-progress. It’s partially in pencil, but well worth a watch.
(Thanks, Vin Ostrander via Disney History Institute )
I’m a huge fan of Adventure Time – have been since I met Pen Ward at Frederator’s offices when he was making the pilot a few years ago. Knew it would be a hit then and am delighted with its success since. Probably the most imaginative (and funny) cartoon show currently running on TV. Just got the complete first season DVD set and its a total blast – and highly recommended. It’s more than just perfect copies of the first 26 cartoons (aka 13 episodes) – it’s got one of the wildest “Behind The Scenes” featurettes I’ve ever seen – it’s a film within a film, within a documentary within a parody (clip below is only a hint of its wonderful strangeness). There’s even a “Behind the Scenes of the Behind The Scenes” video that has Throup Von Orman running around in a mo-cap green screen ping-pong ball suit… well, you’ll have to see it to understand.
And heck yeah, its got extras: Commentaries by Pen Ward, John Dimaggio, Tom Kenny, George Takei and the rest of the cast and crew on several cartoons and animatics, bonus cartoons, music videos and promo films. Adventure Time has become an instant classic and is one of those series you want to collect (or at least, I know I do). Adventure Time: The Complete First Season goes on sale next Tuesday July 10th. Unsolicited plug = Highly recommended.
This is me every morning at Comic Con… Pierre Plouzeau created this film for his 4th year at Supinfocom Valenciennes.
Dear Santa, Please bring me one of these…
German sculptor Bernd Muller, who makes medieval figures in 1/6 scale for museums and collectors, has a nice post here about his latest custom-made commission – Gulliver from Max Fleischer’s 1939 feature, Gulliver’s Travels. Want one? Sorry, but it’s one-of-a-kind. Beautiful work, Bernd – maybe if we ask nicely you’ll make us a “Gabby”…
(Thanks, John Loter)
Light and noise creatively mixed by Colorado-based Jason Giles.
French comics artist/animator Joann Sfar created this brand new, somewhat bizarre animated promo for Lancome Cosmetics. Betty Boop stars in the commercial for a new line of mascara, together with spokesmodel Daria Werbowy.
Meanwhile in London, Opi has introduced a new line of nail polish, brought to you by a character famous for wearing gloves! I love how the pose shows Minnie admiring her nails, somehow, using X-ray vision to see through the gloves.
(Thanks David Freedman)
This new video, directed by Mike Judge and produced by Titmouse, premieres today on CMT. The video, for the Zac Brown Band features a guitar-shredding, big game hunting robot. That’s good enough for me.
Next week I’ll be attending all four days (five if you count Preview Night) of the San Diego Comic Con. It’s impossible to do and see everything of interest. One can spend the entire show in the dealers room, or in Hall H, and have a great time. Below I’ve selected a handful of panels I hope to crash if its humanly possible.
Before the list, let me mention three things: 1. I highly recommend all the panels moderated or featuring Mark Evanier. Check his website for his complete agenda. Highly recommended. 2. My annual Worst Cartoons Ever! screening is at 9pm on Friday night in Room 6BCF. Be there! 3. I will be signing books and meeting friends at the Insight Editions booth #1035 on Saturday at noon. If you want to find me at the Con, that is the best place to do it.
Okay, so here’s a few the panels I hope to crash this year (I know, I know… some are opposite each other):
11:00-12:00 Filmation Panel with Lou Scheimer – Scheimer will reminisce about his career with animator Darrell McNeil, director/writer/animator Tom Tataranowicz and other guests. Room 23ABC
11:15-12:00 DreamWorks Animation– Chief creative officer Bill Damaschke will join several key artists and directors to discuss the upcoming films from this studio. Indigo Ballroom, Hilton San Diego Bayfront
2:05-3:05 Walt Disney Studios: Frankenweenie, Oz The Great and Powerful, and Wreck-it Ralph– I’ll never get into this panel with Tim Burton, and the illustrious voice cast of Wreck-It Ralph, including John C. Reilly and Sarah Silverman, and director Rich Moore. Hall H
3:00-4:00 The Two Editors Panel– Sid Jacobson was the editor at Harvey Comics starting in the early 1950s, Victor Gorelick has worked for Archie Comics for over 50 years. Moderator Mark Evanier will do the Q&A. Room 8
3:00-4:00 Hotel Transylvania– Genndy Tartakovsky will show sneak peek at footage from Hotel Transylvania at the Indigo Ballroom, Hilton San Diego Bayfront
4:00-5:00 Abrams ComicArts– I like the books they do. Editors Charles Kochman and Sheila Keenan talk about their upcoming titles including Mars Attacks; Out of Line: The Art of Jules Feiffer, and Bazooka Joe from Topps, and others. Room 9
8:00-10:00 Early Fandom Meet-and-Greet– I was there. I might as well go to this. Room 28E
10:45-11:45 ParaNorman: Behind the Scenes– Kodi Smit-McPhee, Anna Kendrick, Christopher Mintz-Plasse, Travis Knight, Chris Butler, and Sam Fell discuss making the new stop-motion-animated comedy thriller. Hall H
2:00-3:00 ASIFA: Hollywood’s State of the Industry– Tom Sito moderates a discussion of interest. Room 32AB
3:00-4:00 Walt Disney Animation Studios: Wreck-it Ralph: The Art of Story– Walt Disney Animation Studios story artists Nancy Kruse (Wreck-It Ralph, The Simpsons), Leo Matsuda (Wreck-It Ralph, Princess and the Frog), Raymond Persi (Wreck-It Ralph, The Simpsons), Lissa Treiman (Wreck-It Ralph, Tangled) and Josie Trinidad (Wreck-It Ralph, Tangled), and writers Phil Johnston (Wreck-It Ralph, Cedar Rapids) and Jennifer Lee (Wreck-It Ralph) discuss the art of story. Room 6DE
3:00-4:00 Warner Archive Collection: Shazam!– Call it a guilty pleasure – I loved that live action Shazam show when I as a kid. George Feltenstein will moderate the panel which will include the series’ own Billy Batson, Michael Gray. Room 25ABC
9:00-10:00 Worst Cartoons Ever!– An all-new program of some of the worst cartoons ever made! Room 6BCF
11:15-12:15 Cartoon Network: Adventure Time– Pen Ward and Tom Kenny (Ice King) – I’m there! Room 6A
3:30-4:30 Disney Channel Television Animation– Footage and clips from upcoming episodes of Disney Channel’s shows plus a sneak peek at the upcoming series Wander Over Yonder. Panelists include Noah Z. Jones, Maxwell Atoms, Alex Hirsch, Craig McCracken and co-producer Lauren Faust. Moderated by Eric Coleman, senior vice president, original series, Disney Television Animation. Room 5AB
4:00-5:00 Oddball Comics Scott Shaw! returns with an extra-lurid, extra-funny, new edition of his popular show. Room 7AB
11:00-12:00 The Chilling Archives of Horror Comics Zombies Panel!– Co-editors Craig Yoe and Steve “Karswell” Banes discuss the lurid, dark history of pre-Code 1950s horror comics. Room 32AB
1:00-2:00 DC Nation Screening and Q&A– Cartoonists, animators, directors from Warner Bros. Animation. Room 6BCF
1:00-2:00 Disney Epic Mickey 2: The Power of Two– Warren Spector, Marv Wolfman, and Peter David discuss the Epic Mickey 2 video game. Becky Cline (director, archives for The Walt Disney Company) will be on hand to discuss the reemergence and historical significance of Walt Disney’s Oswald The Lucky Rabbit, who is prominently featured in the game. Room 25ABC
2:15-3:15 SpongeBob SquarePants– Creative director Vince Waller and Screen Novelties directors Seamus Walsh and Mark Caballero present a sneak peek at the upcoming stop-mo Christmas special. The panel will also include the voice cast, including Tom Kenny (voice of SpongeBob), Bill Fagerbakke (voice of Patrick), and Mr. Lawrence (writer and voice of Plankton). Sounds like fun! Room 6A
Disney’s John Carter, a live action film, was the first VFX movie to be directed like a keyframed feature animation. Animator Patrick Giusiano put this interesting video together, showing the process involved with animating his shots.
When was the last time an animator was the centerpiece of a nationwide ad campaign? I was flipping through the latest issue of Time magazine and came across this unusual full page ad (above) from Hewlett Packard featuring Dreamworks character animator Rex Grignon at work. Dreamworks obviously has a relationship with HP (Jeffery spoke at an HP conference last month) and perhaps this was a trade off. Personally, I think anything that promotes the artists behind the product is a good thing.
Deservedly nominated yesterday for a Harvey Award (Best Domestic Reprint Project), Fantagraphics Books’ Floyd Gottfredson Library is an ongoing pleasure for cartoon buffs, Disney historians, and fans of great cartooning everywhere. We’ve plugged the first two volumes before, and I just got the third – Walt Disney’s Mickey Mouse – High Noon At Inferno Gulch – and it remains the gold standard for such presentations of classic comic strips. The reprints are crisp, clear and complete; the “bonus materials” assembled by co-editor David Gerstein are informative, thoroughly researched and illustrated with gold nuggets of rare images and art.
This is Gottfredson at his height (in my humble opinion) with serialized adventure stories including the infamous Bat Bandit saga. Gerstein includes rare unproduced storyboard sequences, trade ads, model sheets – even Gottfredson’s 1935 Disney Employee Identification Card! I can’t recommend this book (and the whole series) highly enough. They are planning two volumes per year for the next decade – Volume 4 is on the way. I can’t wait. This project is truly worthy of your support.
Last year we posted an excellent fan-made film, Superman Classic, by Disney veteran animator Rob Pratt (Tarzan, Pocahontas, Kick Buttowski, Kim Possible). Platt returns with this follow up and explains his process after the clip in the video below. As a longtime fan of the classic Man of Steel, I hope my friends at Warner Animation are taking note. This is the way to go.
Seems like everyone is talking about Paperman, the new Disney short that recently premiered at the Annecy Animation Festival and is scheduled to be released with Wreck-It Ralph on November 2nd. I’ve seen the film and will join in with the chorus praising it for its innovative look, its touching story and its refreshing new take on Disney character animation. It’s a breath of fresh air–and one can only hope it portends good things for hand-drawn animators–and its enthusiasts.
Paperman pioneers a new technique that seamlessly merges computer-generated and hand-drawn animation. I recently spoke with director John Kahrs (formerly of Blue Sky, Pixar and since 2007, a supervising animator at Disney Feature, primarily on Tangled) about the production.
Cartoon Brew: How did Paperman get started? Is this part of the Disney Shorts Program?
John Kahrs: After Tangled ended, they had a gap between the ending of that film and the beginning of production on Wreck-It Ralph. Management was wondering: “Is there anything around to push the technology? Anything that we have that’s going to fill the space between films, to utilize as much of the crew as possible? I had ideas about maybe doing a bit of animation that involved 2D and 3D together. So I just pitched it and they were like: “Ok, let’s try this.” But they didn’t really know how far we were going to take it technologically.
Cartoon Brew: Did John [Lasseter] know how the film was going to look – that it would be in black and white? And what inspired the story?
John Kahrs: John didn’t really know what we were doing until I showed him the test—that finally got him on board with the technique and the technology. The idea for the story has been in my head since I lived in New York, when I was first starting out in my career. I was commuting through Grand Central Station, I was in my mid twenties and feeling like I should be enjoying living in the city much more than I actually was—and I couldn’t figure out why I wasn’t. New York is a pretty intimidating place; people have their guard up. It’s odd to feel alone while being surrounded by people all the time. Sometimes you can make random connections with strangers, and I started thinking about that idea. What if someone made a connection? What if this guy made a connection with a girl and he lost her, and he spent the rest of the story trying to get her back? You know, if they were really meant for each other… it’s fate. It’s romantic.
Cartoon Brew: I always like to ask this question: how long did it take from when you basically got a go-ahead, till it being finished. How long was that, about a year?
John Kahrs: Yeah, about a year. Maybe 14 months.
Cartoon Brew: So tell me about this new technique used on the film… how did it come about?
John Kahrs: It really came out of working so much with Glen on Tangled. Seeing all that drawing, being at Disney, being surrounded by that legacy. How exciting, and how much punch there is in the drawn line, how expressive it can be. And how hard the CG guys have to work to try to match that charm. I thought, Why do we have to leave these drawings behind? Why can’t we bring them back up to the front of the image again? Is there a way that CG can kinda carry along the hand drawn line in a way that we haven’t done before?
Ultimately, the problem was solved in a much more sophisticated way than I ever expected by teaming with Eric Daniels first, then Brian Whited who is a young guy and a world class programmer. He developed this program called Meander, a vector based drawing tool that gives the artist a lot of power to manipulate the line after you draw it. We discovered that he was programming this thing and building this software – and we just totally took it over, hijacked him and his program and got him on the project. It’s not like a texture map. It’s just like painting on the surface of the CG. It actually moves on a 2d layer that’s driven by the CG. And the greatest thing about the tool is that all of that drawing is right up front with the hand drawn animator; right there in their space so they can see what they’re doing. They don’t have to send it off on some blackbox that processes it and then it comes back. It stays right in front of them and they can see everything that they’re doing.
One of the things I’m most proud of about is that it really celebrates the line. I mean it’s right there on the forefront of the image. It kind of reminds me a little bit of a little of what Milt Kahl, on 101 Dalmatians, was pushing for with the Xerox line. He didn’t want his line to be sanded away. He wanted that original energy and the speed of his stroke and the expressiveness of the line to be intact. And as much as I loved Tangled—and I feel like we’re in a golden age right now with CG—all the studios today are competing with a stylized form of realism. I have to believe that’s not the only way that animation can look. I feel like 2D needs to come into the place where it can compete with a big blockbuster movie that has tons of CG and so forth. We have to push the processes and techniques and see where we can take them.
Cartoon Brew: There’s nothing today that looks like the original line drawings of an animator…
John Kahrs: When you see the pencil test version of Beauty and the Beast it’s so alive. It’s just magical. There’s some Mark Henn sketch, just two or three lines that make’s a head, and it can be totally alive and full of emotion – and you get that stuff so easily with the group of talent in the building here. In Paperman, we didn’t have a cloth department and we didn’t have a hair department. Here, folds in the fabric, hair silhouettes and the like come from of the commited design decision-making that comes with the 2D drawn process. Our animators can change things, actually erase away the CG underlayer if they want, and change the profile of the arm. And they can design all the fabric in that Milt Kahl kind-of way, if they want to.
Cartoon Brew: The hand of the animator. That’s the thing, unfortunately, missing in some of today’s CG films. Are you developing any other shorts or maybe planning a feature in this style?
John Kahrs: Every time I show the film, the lights come up, and the first question is “Are you working on a feature that looks like this?” I think we are going to move toward that direction – but we’re not quite there yet. I’ve been asked by John and Ed [Catmull] to pursue the technique. Take it to the next level. And I’ll let you guess what the next level is.
Walt Disney’s first home – his family’s house on Tripp Ave. in Chicago – is for sale. This is where Walt spent the first four years of his life, before the family moved to Marceline, Missouri. Walt’s father built the house himself.
It’s been up for sale for several years and there are no takers. According to this story in today’s L. A. Times, preservationists are concerned it’ll be torn down as it lacks historic landmark designation. Situated in a predominantly Latino neighborhood, a city councilmen there (quoted in the article) considers Disney a racist. “Walt Disney was a bigot, and I’m not going to sit here on a panel and create a historical landmark for a bigot.” I hope someone at the Disney Studio will consider purchasing the place; the $179,000 asking price is probably less than the cost of craft services on the next Iron Man movie.
Invade All of the Humans is a test piece for personal project written and directed by London-based commercial filmmakers Tom and Mark Perrett. It’s about two obsolete and unhinged retro robot toys, Calculord 3 and Px Micron, with delusions of world domination. They run on four AA batteries. Here’s the sample:
This looks absolutely terrific. Saving Sally is a tiny independent Filipino feature film by Avid Liongoren that combines actors, 2D animation, matte paintings and motion graphics. It’s two years into production with editing, post and additional animation to come. Can’t wait to see the finished project.
(Thanks, Ivan Guerrero)
A newer trailer with footage we haven’t seen before for Tim Burton’s Frankenweenie. Between ParaNorman, Hotel Transylvania and this, it’s monsters, monsters, monsters… (and I mean that in a good way):
Had to post this photo with June Foray and her well-deserved Emmy Award, taken a few minutes ago at the broadcast of Stu’s Show. Again, Congratulations June!
Live FREE internet broadcast with Jerry Beck, discussing the history of Terrytoons, right NOW, right HERE.
20th Century-Fox and Blue Sky have released a teaser trailer for their next film, Epic. Based on a William Joyce book… it’s looking pretty good: