Frank Thomas, one of Disney’s famed “Nine Old Men” supervising character animators – as well as the piano playing member Ward Kimball’s Fire House Five Plus Two – would have been 100 years old today. Thomas passed away passed away eight years ago on September 8, 2004 at age 92.
Thomas’ remarkable animation included such scenes as the first date and spaghetti dinner in Lady and the Tramp, Thumper teaching Bambi how to ice-skate, Baloo the bear telling the man-cub Mowgli that he can’t stay in the jungle in The Jungle Book, Pinocchio trapped in the birdcage by the evil puppeteer Stromboli, the lovesick squirrel whose heart is broken in The Sword in the Stone, Captain Hook playing the piano in Peter Pan, the dancing penguins in Mary Poppins, among others. He also animated several of Mickey Mouse’s most impressive scenes in such shorts as The Pointer and Brave Little Tailor.
Thomas retired from animation in January 1978, then spent the next five years with his lifelong friend and colleague Ollie Johnston writing the definitive book on their craft, Disney Animation: The Illusion of Life, one of the greatest books ever written about animation.
He’s gone now, but will never be forgotten. Let’s take a moment to remember…
A young woman tries to overcome her shyness, which is personified by a crocodile. Created by De Alice Bissonnet, Aloyse Desoubries Binet, Sandrine Hanji Kuang, Juliette Laurent, Sophie Markatatos, 3rd year students at GOBELINS in Paris, France.
I’m not sure when this coming out, or who is releasing it, but Summertime Entertainment have made a trailer for Dorothy Of Oz avilable to the internet. Will Finn (The Road to El Dorado, Home on the Range) and Dan St. Pierre (Everyone’s Hero) are listed as directors, and the production is being handled by Prana Studios (Hoodwinked! and Disney’s Tinker Bell movies). Almost everything else about this film is shrouded in mystery. Everything except its all-star voice cast.
On April 5th 1965, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences bestowed an Oscar to Friz Freleng for Best Animated Short – for The Pink Phink (1964), the first Pink Panther cartoon. The next day, Friz’s former Looney Tunes colleague Bob Clampett wrote a congratualtory note to him in the form of a poem (or “pome” as written below). Click image to read enlarged version:
Some notes on the references in the poem: Clampett refers to “(Richard) Burton and Liz (Elizabeth Taylor)”, the famous show-biz couple of the time, though only Burton was nominated for Best Actor that year (and lost), Liz was not.
“Where there’s a LIL…” is a reference to Freleng’s wife, Lillian. “Nudnik” was, of course, a reference to Gene Deitch’s character, also nominated that year – in fact, Deitch had two nominees that year (the other being How To Avoid Friendship).
Even if this documentary is simply 92 minutes of these guys* praising Ray Harryhausen, I’d say it would be worth the time to watch it.
* “these guys” include: James Cameron, Steven Spielberg, Peter Jackson, Nick Park, Phil Tippett, Terry Gilliam, Dennis Muren, John Landis, Ken Ralston, Joe Dante, Randy Cook, Guillermo Del Toro, Steve Johnson and John Lasseter.
But it hints to be more, with rare production footage, tests and experiments, and interviews with Harryhausen himself shot over a five year period. Ray Harryhausen – Special Effects Titan will have its U.S. premiere showing at The Bal Theatre, San Leandro, next Saturday September 8, 2012, as part of the Bay Area Film Events. Guests that night will include ILM’s Dennis Muren and Phil Tippett of Tippett Studios. For more info, click here. What are you waiting for? Go!
I’m spending the weekend at the Egyptian Theatre on Hollywood Blvd, watching classic movies at the annual Cinecon film festival/convention. Imagine my surprise today when I looked at the El Capitan Theatre marquee and saw it advertising Arjun: The Warrior Prince – a film we discovered Disney had picked up back in May (the film, a joint collaboration between Disney and UTV Pictures, was directed by Arnab Chaudhuri).
The El Cap is currently playing an Oscar-qualifying engagement of the new Tinkerbell direct-to-video, Secret of the Wings. Apparently Arjun will begin playing each night, at 9:20pm, to also qualify for Academy consideration. The showings begin this Monday night and will run through next Sunday September 9th.
Arjun: The Warrior Prince is an animated mythological action film that recounts the untold story of Arjun, hero of the Mahabharata. The film was not produced by Disney, but by UTV Animation. Disney is the distributor as it acquired the rights after purchasing UTV motion pictures. In case you forgot what it looks like, here is the trailer below.
At least it’s not animation. Billboards and posters for this mysterious children’s film have been appearing all over town for weeks. The film opened yesterday to disastrous reviews. This project has the stench of Delgo all over it.
Unfortunately, as animation is still perceived as children’s fare, a film like this could harm the good will animated features have built up in recent years. The Oogieloves in The Big Balloon Adventure (it hurts just to type that) opens this weekend on 2000 screens. The $55 million dollar production (that figure includes production and marketing) is being bankrolled and self-distributed by a would-be Walt Disney (or perhaps Jim Henson) named Kenn Viselman.
Viselman was previously a “marketing visionary” and producer on Thomas the Tank Engine and Teletubbies. He is so sure that he can “sell” parents and kids on this film, he has a sequel ready to shoot in October. This guy is either a genius–or a madman. My mind is made up regardless–based on the trailer, this guy is crazy. I look forward to reading the grosses next week.
Barneys New York has partnered with Disney for their Electric Holiday campaign, set to debut at Barney’s Madison Avenue flagship store on November 14th. Part of this promotion includes a film “about Minnie Mouse’s fantasy to attend Paris fashion week”. In it, Mickey Mouse will be dressed in Balenciaga, Minnie Mouse in Lanvin, Goofy in Balmain, Daisy Duck in Dolce & Gabbana and Snow White in Nina Ricci. Nice – for characters created during the Depression, this is quite a step up. But must they follow the emaciated super-model look (above) in a pathetic effort to be trendy? Maybe these are gag promotional pictures? I hope so.
UPDATE 10/24/12: Women’s groups and parents have become outraged and more vocal since we first reported this story back in August. There is now a petition on Change.org asking that Barney’s and Disney to “leave Minnie Mouse alone”. The new “skinny Minnie” sends the wrong message to women and especially little girls about their body image. Over 135,000 people have already signed the petition.
Meanwhile, Popeye the Sailor has been hawking healthy Spinach products for decades. Now Taylor Farms is starting a new line of Popeye branded “Superfoods” with a license from King Features/Hearst. Notice anything different? Popeye no longer has his pipe! Not on the packaging, not in any of their promotional materials. I get it, it’s unhealthy to smoke – but this is getting ridiculous! His pipe is part of his character! Toot! Toot!
A new program by Japanese tech company, Cybernoids, could change the future of traditional animation…
…or could be another CG shortcut to producing crap. I have no idea what we are looking at here. A software breakthrough or a cheat… It is described as “live interactive 3D images of a 2D character”. According to the Cybernoids website:
“Live 2D is a technique that can animate full dimensional 2D characters from manga, anime, and illustrations without undergoing a 3D transfiguration. Characters unsuited for 3D movement can be animated much like hand-drawn animations while staying faithful to the original art. Live2D is the world’s first expressive technology that lets creators animate their art to their fullest desire.”
Okay, call me cautiously intrigued. I doubt this will replace hand drawn, but I can see some theme park applications. What do you think?
Swedish illustrator/animator Jacob StÃ¥lhammar created this modern children’s fable, with stylized art, limited animation and a stock music score, evoking vintage 1950s TV cartoons (Col. Bleep anyone?) – and that’s why I dig it.
StÃ¥lhammar wrote the basic story The Cats on Mars in 2004. With no clear plan to make a film, he then started compiling public domain music found in old commercials at the Prelinger Archives and taught himself gouache on cardboard techniques using information gleaned from John K.’s blog. The film opened at GÃ¶teborg International Film Festival 2010 and has played theatrically in Sweden.