22 year-old animator Arthur Gorissen created Branch Line as his graduation project at Netherlands’ Utrecht School of Arts. Made in four months, it’s the heartbreaking story about a man waiting for his new bride to arrive. The film employs digital cut-out techniques with a stop-motion toy-train, and Gorissen’s strong sense of design.
We’d like to thank the producers, writers and animators of last night’s season finale of Futurama for creating an episode just for us – the readers of Cartoon Brew.
“Reincarnation” featured three mini-episodes: one in the style of 1930s Fleischer Studios homage; another as a 1960s-70s anime; and a third in 8-Bit format. I’m not sure if the average public got it, but we sure enjoyed it.
I’ll post a link when the entire episode appears online. In the meantime, courtesy of Comedy Central, here are some extensive clips:
|Colorama – Diamondium Comet|
|Action Delivery Force – Thrilling Space Battle|
Two years ago, at the big Hall H Disney presentation at the San Diego Comic Con – the year Miyazaki was there – John Lasseter presented a clip from the forthcoming Beauty and The Beast 3D conversion. I hadn’t heard about this project, but was strangely intrigued with the idea of 3D conversion of previously flat 2D cartoons. I always loved Disney’s Melody, and Paramount’s Boo Moon and Popeye The Ace of Space are two great examples of what a 3D cartoon can look like if done properly (I am not as impressed with Lantz’ Hypnotic Hick and Warners’ Lumberjack Rabbit). I even enjoyed the 3D aspects of the otherwise awful Starchaser: The Legend of Orin.
I was particularly enthused when Lasseter introduced the clip – but became less so as he discussed the process. Here’s how I recall his introduction, and what I was thinking during it…
Lasseter: “There were 3D cartoons done in the 1950s…”
My Thoughts: “Yes there were. And they looked great – like old Viewmaster slides come to life!”
Lasseter (in a negative way): “…but they were old fashioned and looked like Viewmaster slides…”
My Thoughts: “But… but… that was COOL!”
Lasseter: “Luckily, we figured out a new way to create 3D out of hand drawn cartoons…”
My thoughts: “But… but… it doesn’t need a “new way”. MELODY looked incredible…”
Lasseter: “Instead of flat art, we’ve figured out a way to round the edges…”
My thoughts: “That doesn’t sound good…”
Lasseter: “This isn’t your father’s 3D cartoon…”
My thoughts while watching the clip: “Oh. My. God.”
I don’t have problems watching 3D movies. I don’t get headaches, my eyes don’t tear… but watching this clip gave me a headache and hurt my eyes. Needless to say I was not surprised when the film didn’t open theatrically as originally planned.
Cut to 2011 – and this past week the 3D Beauty and The Beast opened at the El Capitan Theatre sans almost any publicity. I simply had to go see it over the weekend. I was also invited to a screening of the 3D Lion King at the Disney Studio yesterday. Here’s my assessment of how both fare in 3D form.
Beauty and The Beast – I’m not going to review the film itself, but suffice to say it was a pleasure to see it again on the big screen. The screenplay, direction, and vocal performances are even better than I remembered them. The animation was/is, of course, top notch. But there was something wrong here… the drawings of the characters, particularly in the first third of the film, looked awful. What did they do? Re-trace the animation to get the 3-D effect? There was a funky, scratchy-tracing “look” to the characters, particularly their outlines. It seemed to get better once we are in the enchanted castle – either that or I got used to it. The 3-D effect itself was pretty good. It was NOT the “rounded edge” version that Lasseter touted at Comic Con. In fact, unlike every live action or CG animated 3D film I’ve seen the past few years, the 3D “effect” didn’t wear off after the first ten minutes. It was quite a 3D Viewmaster version all throughout. Would I recommend seeing it on the big screen? No. The character designs of the townspeople and the overall “traced” look hurts the visuals. Somehow the 3D highlights these flaws… I went home a re-watched several scenes on the “Diamond Edition” DVD and the film looks much better on TV. Maybe the 3D home version plays better too. Final assessment: Disney was right not to release this nationwide – but the 3D is a lot better than I thought it would be. It doesn’t hurt the film, but doesn’t help it either.
The Lion King – The folks at Disney sent me this slideshow (below) that attempts to explain the 3D conversion process. I admit I still don’t completely understand it.
I’ve now seen The Lion King in 3D and again, it was great to revisit this film after so many years. The finished artwork and visuals are superior to preceding films of the era and clearly more care was taken to convert this film to 3D. I only noticed the “scratchy tracing” look in the earliest part of the film. The 3D effect was “felt” throughout, though used best when Zasu is flying through a scene, or the characters are in front of a huge vista. A few scenes, where the camera p.o.v. is going through a cave, forest or valley the 3D technicians did a good job of creating a classic multiplane effect.
Again, “is this trip really necessary”? No. 3-D adds nothing new to the greatness of Disney’s Lion King. But anything that returns hand drawn animation to the big screen, and to the attention of the public, is a good thing. At various times during both screenings I kept thinking how fantastic a new drawn film, designed and shot for 3-D, would be. I hope the public, and the animation community, will one day have a chance to find out.
(The Lion King in 3-D opens nationwide on September 16th and on blu-ray on October 4th. Check it out and let us know what you think.)
In an odd new twist for the Studio Ghibli film library, Daily Variety is reporting that U.S. distributor GKids (The Secret of Kells) has acquired the U.S. theatrical and non-theatrical rights to thirteen Ghibli films – including Hayao Miyazaki’s Princess Mononoke, My Neighbor Totoro, Castle in the Sky and Spirited Away. Disney will retain the home video rights. Gkids is planning to distribute a series of Miyazaki film festivals to theatres nationwide.
Disney must have felt they no longer needed the theatrical rights. It’ll interesting to see how GKids will fare with these films – that company is certainly emerging as a leader in distributing worthy international animated features.
Meanwhile, I just caught up with these incredible Lego sculptures by Iain Heath. Heath’s tribute to the master animator Hayao Miyazaki was unveiled last year at Seattle’s BrickCon where it received the “Big in Japan – Best Overall” award. Check out his entire Miyazakitopia on Flickr. These two (below) are my favorites:
I’m all for animated films with a more adult sensibility, but this new 3D CG feature from Denmark, directed by ThorbjÃ¸rn Christoffersen and Kresten Vestbjerg Andersenand, sorta swings both ways (pun intended). Ronal Barbaren (Ronal the Barbarian) opens in Denmark on September 19th.
(Thanks, Warren Leonhardt)
Fresh off of last weekend’s Telluride screenings, the new Pixar short, La Luna, will be showing in New York City this Sunday, along with Hiroaki Ando’s 24-minute anime Five Numbers (aka Norageki!). The screening will be followed by a conversation with Enrico Casarosa (Director / Head of Story, Pixar Animation Studios) on the making of La Luna and with Dai Sato (Scriptwriter of Cowboy Bebop) to discuss post-3/11 Japan and the anime community.
Below is the screening information, it’s part of a festival entitled “Films For Hope,” taking place at the Japan Society. Proceeds from ticket sales will go to help Japan’s rebuilding efforts.
Sunday, September 11, 5:30 PM – 7 PM
La Luna, 2011 – New York Premiere
6 min. 51 sec., 35 mm, color, Directed by Enrico Casarosa
Five Numbers!, 2011 – U.S. Premiere
24 min., DVD, color, Directed by Hiroaki Ando (CGI director of Steamboy and art director for Tekkon Kinkreet)
Followed by a reception. 50% of the proceedings will go to the Japan Earthquake Relief Fund. for tickets and more info, Click Here.
This thing’s gone viral in the past week. Amid first posted about it back in November, and I have been getting flooded with readers sending me the link to the final product. So, here it is – a superb stop-motion recreation of the opening titles to Hanna Barbera’s Jonny Quest by filmmaker Roger Evans. Bravo, sir! Excellent job!
I’ve been debating posting Calin Fernandez’ NSFW thesis animation film from The School of Visual Arts. Some of you will hate it. Most of you will say its ugly. I found it both disturbing and hilarious. Does this guy have a future in animation (or rap music, for that matter)? Is it intentionally absurd or is it deeply profound? I dunno – but if nothing else, I think this has a chance to become a series on Fox…
There’s hope for DVD yet. Our friends at TVonDVD.com just revealed plans by Warner Home Video to release a new single disc DVD collection in their Looney Tunes Super Stars series – this one solely devoted to Pepe Le Pew.
To the best of my knowledge, Pepé Le Pew: Zee Best Of Zee Best will contain 17 cartoons (despite what the box art says) – including all 15 Chuck Jones’ Pepe cartoons, plus a Freleng Tweety in which he appears in cameo (Dog Pounded), and an odd Art Davis outing (Odor Of The Day). The DVD goes on sale December 27th. The titles included are:
Odor-Able Kitty (1945), Scent-imental Over You (1947), Odor of the Day (1948), For Scent-imental Reasons (1949), Scent-imental Romeo (1951), Little Beau Pepé (1952), Wild Over You (1953), Dog Pounded (1954), The Cats Bah (1954), Past Perfumance (1955), Two Scent’s Worth (1955), Heaven Scent (1956), Touché and Go (1957), Really Scent (1959), Who Scent You? (1960), A Scent of the Matterhorn (1961), Louvre Come Back to Me! (1962)
Imagine my surprise when I spotted this (photo above) on the marquee of the El Capitan Theatre today. Perhaps it was well known in Disney fan circles, but I hadn’t heard anything about a theatrical release of the 3D version of Beauty and The Beast until I walked by the theatre this morning. I saw no TV or newspaper advertising about it (and I still read newspapers).
It’s playing for two weeks at the El Cap, four times each day 10:45amâ€Ž, â€Ž2:00â€Ž, â€Ž4:45,â€Ž 7:30pm â€Žand since I do not own a 3D Hi-Def TV, I definitely plan to check out the “meticulously dimensionalized” version on the big screen this weekend. A 3D version of The Lion King opens at the El Cap (and nationwide) on September 16th. Both films will be on sale in 3D Blu-Ray editions on October 4th.
As previously reported, Huston Huddleston has been posting the lost songs composed and demos recorded by his father, Floyd, primarily for Disney features The Aristocats and The Rescuers. We’ve been linking to many of them on our CB Facebook page. Here’s one of particular note, sung and written by Floyd Huddleston himself, recorded at Disney Studios in Burbank 1974. This was an early version of the theme song of the Rescue Aid Society in The Rescuers.
My next Animation Tuesday presentation at the Cinefamily (The Silent Movie Theatre) in Los Angeles is a curated compilation of trippy 40s and 50s Technicolor educational, industrial and instructional films from the Golden Age of Hollywood Cartoons! No boring classroom lessons here; these are highly entertaining examples of animation from the greatest talents in the field. From Disney, you’ll witness the rarely seen – by men, at least – Kotex-sponsored The Story of Menstruation (1946), from UPA we’ll screen both Bill Hurtz’ Man Alive (1951) and Abe Levitow’s Inside Magoo (1959), two theatrical shorts that explore the dangers of cancer.
The highlight of the evening will be a 35mm Technicolor screening of John Sutherland’s 50s-design masterpiece Rhapsody Of Steel (1959, image above) with animation by Irv Spence and Emery Hawkins, backgrounds by Eyvind Earle, art direction by Maurice Noble and Victor Haboush, and music by Dimitri Tiomkin. And that’s not all – there will be plenty of other unique animated surprises I can’t announce yet! Plus, the program will be preceded by a big-screen showing of all ten selections in Cartoon Brew’s 2011 Student Festival (We’ll be doing a separate post soon about this special showing). Advance tickets on sale now. Don’t miss this one-of-a-kind animation event!
I always hated Captain Planet, but if it were this cool back then I would have watched it more often. From Funny or Die, Don Cheadle takes Captain Planet in a new direction:
For the Pink Panther fanatic who has everything…
When the Pink Panther theatrical shorts were first broadcast on NBC’s Saturday Morning in 1969, DePatie Freleng created a live-action opening title segment (see below) using a customized “Panthermobile“, designed by Jay Ohrberg. Now, the original car is now being offered for sale via an online auction from September 4th through October 14th. I was never sure what they thought creating such a vehicle would do for the Pink Panther – other than create publicity at car shows around the world – but it’s a pretty cool car. If you got the green (and the pink) for it, a once in a lifetime opportunity could be yours.
(Thanks, Charles Brubaker)
Produced by Luc Besson, Bibo Bergeron’s A Monster In Paris looks gorgeous… but the story, about a giant singing flea, seems a bit slight. Hope I’m wrong. It opens in France in October. No U.S. distributor or release date yet, but here’s the English language trailer:
Don’t let your rat touch your stash. Seth Brady made Ratticus at NYC’s School of Visual Arts.
John K. has several new pieces of animation coming up – bumpers for Adult Swim – that explore a more abstract style. I have no idea if these have aired yet, but John is posting clips and discussing them on his John K. Stuff blog.
Eddie Fitzgerald thinks this (below) is “one of the funniest walks in the history of TV animation“. He might be right.
UPDATE – Here’s one that did air:
As we head into this heatwave (west coast)/hurricane (east coast) weekend, we pause to take note of the passing of Tex Avery 31 years ago today. (Click on obituary above to read how Variety reported it).
I never met Avery, but by sheer coincidence I attended his funeral and memorial service. I was living in New York at the time, but came into L.A. that fateful week to attend Cinecon (where I’ll be hanging out once again next weekend). Everybody who was anybody – from Hanna and Barbera, to Chuck, Friz and Bob Clampett, Bill Melendez, Virgil Ross and probably the whole Termite Terrace crew – was there. I don’t remember much of the details, except that the tone was serious and somber. I was personally thrilled to see so many veteran animator luminaries in one place – but it was obviously not a place to network…
But enough about me. Let’s take a moment to remember Avery today. Click the images below to enjoy some of Avery’s work, starting with his first directorial credit, Gold Diggers of ’49.
Tex Avery was a superb cartoonist, animator and filmmaker; a timing genius, a brilliant gagman and above all, an innovator. Chronologically, after Fleischer and Disney, Avery changed the face of popular animation. His influence over Warner Bros. cartoons, and later at MGM, defined what the Hollywood cartoon would be world famous for – and his influence still felt today in the biggest TV series and feature films.
“Incredible, ain’t it?”
“Fe, Fi, Fo Fat – I tawt I taw a puddy tat!” (a direct quote from Tweety and the Beanstalk, 1957). Yes, that’s what it looks like. It’s a bronze statue by artist Daniel Edwards called “Allegory of a Teen Sex Symbol (Justin Bieber)”, now showing at the Cory Allen Contemporary Art gallery. From their website:
“Daniel wanted to create a work that opens a dialogue about the inevitable exploitation of teen sex symbols as they grow from child stars to adults, like we’ve seen with past celebutantes Lindsay, Miley, and Britney,” said the artist’s representative Cory Allen.
“It would be naïve and hypocritical for anyone to be offended by this simple sculpture, yet be apathetic towards the plethora of images to which they subject themselves on a daily basis,” said Daniel Edwards, “I stand by the work.”
I dare say this is unlicensed and unauthorized.
Long before the Firehouse Five Plus Two (not to mention Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band), Pinto Colvig (storyman, voice of Goofy) apparently organized a Disney Studio in-house “Cartoon Band”. I know nothing about the story behind this June 29th, 1936 mystery photo (click to enlarge) beyond the clues in the picture itself: It’s on the Hyperion street lot; there’s Ward Kimball on the far right with the trombone; and is that Pinto with the white beard, center, behind the drummer? And heck, is that Walt center right, standing with the trumpet, fourth from the right?
This photo comes from that cache of rare Disney material for sale from our friend Mary Rose.
UPDATE: Amid shares another image of the band below from the 1936 United Artists Convention. Click on the image for a bigger version with identifications.
This funny new Duck Brand tape spot recreates the light cycle scene from the original Tron using duct tape, and features internet “Tron Guy” (Jay Maynard). The concept was generated via crowdsourcing through Tongal.
Here’s something I’ve never seen before – and you won’t be seeing it on DVD (or in color) anytime soon yourself. Cartoon historian David Gerstein is one of several animation archaeologists (along with colleagues Steve Stanchfield, Tom Stathes and Thad Komorowski) determined to hunt down lost Hollywood cartoons the major studios have long abandoned or forgotten. This includes missing bits and pieces – like title sequences and cut footage – and all have succeeded in recent years by locating such footage, both important and obscure, found collecting dust in private collections or neglected at major archives.
Gerstein’s latest find is the original opening titles and credits (albeit in black and white) to Warner Bros. Oscar winning 1947 short, Tweetie Pie. Even Warners doesn’t have this opening – having been cut from the original negative long ago, for a 1955 Blue Ribbon reissue. Let David tell you about it (and see it and hear it) on his blog. And keep his page book marked – David’s found several more which he’ll post in later weeks.
Inspired by black and white cartoons from the 1920s and 1930s, Paris-based web designer Tracey Polyflavor has been creating decorative millefori jewelry and fashion accessories using polymer clay. Here’s how she does it. Some of her designs are based on imagery from Ub Iwerks’ 1929 Silly Symphony, Hell’s Bells (see below). A perfect gift for that early-talkie cartoon girl in your life… Check out her whole line at polyflavour.com.
Here’s something I haven’t seen before (pardon me if I skipped the Special Edition DVD): an early pencil test sequence from Disney’s The Aristocats (1970) posted on Andreas Deja’s blog. Andreas has (as usual) some interesting observations about the animation by Milt Kahl and Ollie Johnston. Apparently Milt wanted O’Malley to be thinner, while Ollie drew him heavier. Note Milt’s animation at the beginning, which recalls Shere Kahn, followed by Ollie’s slightly chubbier version. Neat stuff:
(Thanks, Ben Price)