Bill Plymton, Pat Smith and Peter Lord during today’s Platform Festival picnic, Portland OR — Wednesday, 6.27.07, 04:10 pm
Asifa-Hollywood’s Animation Archive has unearthed and posted a rare silent 8mm film shot by animators at Terrytoons detailing the process of making an animated cartoon. This color film, from 1939, was shot by artist Larry Silverman and was recently found in the estate of animator Carlo Vinci. The film features key Terry personnel, from Director Connie Rasinski to musician Phil Schieb, producing a cartoon called Harvest Time. The Archive has also uploaded the finished short.
Do you love great animation? Are you a fan of quality cartoons? Well, if so, you will be appalled and horrified by my latest co-production, Cartoon Dump, a new web TV series premiering this summer on CartoonBrewFilms.com.
Cartoon Dump is the unholy alliance of my annual Worst Cartoons Ever screening and the warped mind of writer/ producer/ comedian Frank Conniff (Ã¢â‚¬Å“TVÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s FrankÃ¢â‚¬? from Ã¢â‚¬Å“Mystery Science Theater 3000Ã¢â‚¬?).
Our first podcast will premiere online in August, but on July 11th our cast will perform a live performance of the show at the Steve Allen Theater in Hollywood. If you are interested in attending the live show, information is posted here. In the meantime, check the Cartoon Dump MySpace page and become one of our friends!
A new JibJab video made its debut tonight. No animation, but a clever video montage to commemorate our Independence Day holiday, The Star Spangled Banner.
Day one at Platform. Got into Portland around 2:30pm and was whisked to the very cool Ace Hotel. After a quick check in, I headed to a meeting of jurors (I’m one of the judges of the TV category). After that, one by one, I started running into friends from L.A., New York, Vancouver, Europe… Linda Simensky, Danny Antonucci, Bill Plympton, Tom Knott, Adam Snyder, Heather Kenyon and, pictured above, director Yvette Kaplan, producer John Andrews and author-animator John Canemaker. It’s begining to feel like a festival. The opening night screening was teriffic – every film shown was great. The standouts were Aardman’s new 2-D short, The Pearce Sisters (directed by Luis Cook), Apnee (directed by Claude Chabot) and Herzog and the Monsters (a student film by Lesley Barnes). That was followed by a party and even later was a mock debate/screening, “Humor vs. Abstract” with Bill Plympton (arguing humor) and Joanna Priestley (in favor of abstract).
If day one is any indication, this festival is going to be a winner.
In honor of the forthcoming Woody Woodpecker and Friends DVD box set (on sale July 24th), Universal Pictures will be holding a premiere event at the Chinese Theatre in Hollywood on Wednesday July 11th, admission FREE! In addition to a preview screening of 12 cartoons featured on the upcoming DVD, there will be a panel of guests discussing the life and career of Walter Lantz. Panelists will include Leonard Maltin, June Foray, and Billy West. To find out how you can get in and reserve a seat, click here: StoryMakers StudioÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s Salute to Woody Woodpecker and Walter Lantz.
My friends at StoryMakers Studio (who are producing the Chinese Theatre event) told me they will make a limited number of reserved seats available for Brew readers, so if youÃ¢â‚¬â„¢re interested, I strongly suggest reserving your free tickets today because itÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s going to fill up fast.
In the meantime, get a sneak preview of the disc set, with video previews and downloads here: WoodyWoodpecker.com
Even though I’m a participant and judge, I’m going up there as much a spectator as anyone else. Can the festival organizers pull it off? Can a U.S. animation festival work? These are the questions that will be answered this week. One thing’s for sure, they’ve loaded the event with great screenings, panels, guests, exhibits, installations, tributes, picnics and parties. It should be a blast.
Need another reason to visit Los Angeles this summer? The Tobey C. Moss Gallery on Beverly Blvd. (across the street from the famous El Coyote Resturant) will be exhibiting the animation art of Jules Engel from July 14th through August 31st.
This exhibition is being held with the cooperation of Engel’s estate, and will cover his career from Disney, through UPA and Format Films. An opening reception will be held Saturday July 14th from 2pm to 5pm.
New York freeform radio station WFMU has one of the best blogs devoted to alternative pop culture and strange music. Today’s post by Kliph Nesteroff celebrates character actor Arnold Stang (voice of Top Cat, Herman Mouse, and numerous other cartoon characters). It’s an entertaining overview of Stang’s still-active career (he’s 89!) with lots of fun images and links.
Brad Bird at last night’s world premiere of Ratatouille at the Kodak Theatre in Hollywood.
The best film of the summer will be released next week. Not best animated film – best film, period. The reviews are literally unanimous – 100% fresh at Rotten Tomatoes.
I saw the film and add my name to the chorus. It’s brilliant! But what really excites me is that once again Pixar, and Brad Bird, have pushed the envelope, progressing the art and storytelling potential that can be accomplished with computer graphics. And this is a film Bird took over and reworked — usually a recipe for disaster. Not this time.
The animation and art direction are superb. Every creative descision seems just perfect – from casting to design and through every plot twist and turn. The 2-D graphic end credits should be noted – once again the Pixar animators tease us with the possibility of what a traditionally hand drawn Pixar cartoon might feel like. And the final tagline in the end credits gave me the biggest smile of the night:
“Our Quality Assurance Guaratee: 100% Genuine Animation! No motion capture or any other performance shortcuts were used in the production of this film.”
Don’t miss it.
In 1949, Republic Pictures (best known for their B-Westerns and Saturday matinee serials) released a series of cartoons under the banner “Jerky Journeys”. These were low budget satires of travelogues, written by radio comedy writer Leonard Lewis Levinson, and narrated by Jack Benny Program regular Frank Nelson (“Yeeeeesss”). To keep costs down, Levinson wrote the films in such a way as to have as little animation as possible, and convinced Republic that this would be a perfect way to demonstrate the studioÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s patented cut-rate “TruColor” (red & green) film process.
Financial restrictions, however, didnÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t stop Levinson from hiring several of HollywoodÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s best artists, including background painters and designers Art Heinemann, Pete Alvarado, Bob Gribbroek, Paul Julian and effects animator Miles Pike, to help bring these comedies to life. The resulting films are fascinating. An early example of what Chuck Jones might term “illustrated radio”, the “Jerky Journeys” give us a glimpse at a direction Hollywood animation did not goÃ¢â‚¬”or might have gone if UPA hadnÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t come along. Like an animated version of an article from a ’50s issue of Mad Magazine, these are literate parodies of travel films familiar to audiences of the day.
Four Jerky Journeys were produced, but only two are known to exist and The 3 Minnies is the only surviving entry in color. Take a look at it here. I think youÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ll agree this film is unique, original and in many ways, far ahead of its time.
Variety is reporting that the Michel Ocelot’s animated film Kirikou and the Sorceress is set to make the transition to a stage musical this fall. Ocelot has also written the musical’s libretto and additional lyrics. Playbill reports:
The French/Belgian film is a retelling of an African folk tale that centers on a young African boy who must save his village by ridding the world of an evil sorceress.
The animated version ignited controversy when distributors refused to release it in some areas because of the natural nudity depicted in the films Ã¢â‚¬“ some went so far as to request airbrushing of male and female nudity. Ocelot maintained the nudity was an essential element in portraying African culture and refused to allow any changes to the film. There is no word on whether the stage adaptation will follow suit.
It’s a real shame that Ocelot’s amazing, literate, artistic animated features have never gotten proper (or any) distribution in the United States.
How many facists does it take to create a classic cartoon character?
A play we posted about earlier concerning a fictional meeting between Hitler and Disney is nothing compared to the recent revelation that Benito Mussolini may have inspired the creation of Dick Huemer’s Toby The Pup.
Harry McCracken has all the details.
Cartoonists going to the Platform International Animation Festival in Portland next week will be invited to be part of an experimental collaborative animated film. Dan Meth will round up 100 artists and have each draw 7 frames of a new unscripted short cartoon — on location at a bar full of cartoon fanatics. Sounds like fun. You can sign up in advance by contacting Dan at dammeth-at-danmeth.com.
Here’s a sneak peek at some finished footage from the new Flash animated George Of the Jungle, in production by Studio B in Vancouver for Cartoon Network (U.S.) and for various other toon channels around the world. This clip is from cable’s G4 Tech TV network in Canada. Producer Kevin Gamble and director Jayson Thiessen do a good job of explaining the basics of producing animation in Flash for TV. The actual GTJ footage starts around 1:16 and was animated by artist Emmett Hall.