If you skipped Jack Black’s Gulliver’s Travels (like I did), you might have missed the latest Scrat short – which serves as an extended trailer for the forthcoming “Part 4″: Ice Age: Continental Drift. Below is a You Tube embed, click HERE for a more high def version. Ice Age: Continental Drift is scheduled for release on July 13th 2012.
Last summer I moderated a panel at the San Diego Comic Con for Happiness is a Warm Blanket, the first new Peanuts special in five years. And “special” it is indeed. Produced by Wild Brain with Charles M. Schulz Creative Services, and directed by Andy Beall (Up, Ratatouille, Iron Giant) and Frank Molieri (The Simpsons Movie, SpongeBob SquarePants Movie). Craig Schulz, son of the Peanuts creator, served as one the executive producers and writers of the film along with cartoonist Stephen Pastis (Pearls Before Swine), who wrote the special as well. Paige Braddock and Linda M. Steiner (Duck Dodgers, Justice League) co-produced.
Warner Home Video just announced its DVD release date: March 29th, 2011. No television date or channel has been announced yet, but I’m sure it’ll get TV exposure. I’m working on getting a public screening, with director Q&A, for L.A. (details to be announced). I’ve seen the film and it’s terrific – the artists have created a loving tribute to Schulz and Charlie Brown with a story based directly on Peanuts strips from the 1960s, and art direction taken from Schulz’s drawing style circa 1965. It brings back Shermy, Patty, Pigpen and Violet, and will remind you why you loved all the Peanuts characters in the first place. A must see and a must-have. Don’t miss this one.
In the decades before email and the internet, people actually wrote letters on physical pieces of paper. I know it’s hard to believe, but pictured above are a few examples from a new site devoted to them. If you are looking for an addictive way to kill two hours, check out each and every page of Shaun Usher’s Letterheady blog.
For the past year, Usher has been regularly posting rare blank stationary of the rich and famous, with an emphisis on entertainers, animators and comics creators. The letterhead site is a companion to his Letters of Note (P.S. Check out today’s message from John K.). Highlights (for me) include this 1930s Hal Roach Studios piece, and this 1959 Harvey Comics page. Imagine getting a letter from Jay Ward on this letterhead! Those were the days!
The first Tuesday of every month I host Animation Tuesdays at the Cinefamily. This month an encore performance of René Laloux’s trippy 1973 animated feature Fantastic Planet with a live soundtrack performed by L.A.’s Jesus Makes The Shotgun Sound. This show was performed last month at the Los Angeles Animation Festival to a full house – you get a rough idea of the program in the video below. The show starts at 8pm at The Silent Movie Theatre at 611 N. Fairfax Ave. in Hollywood. If you are interested, I’d advise reserving tickets HERE.
Disney Home Entertainment announced its plans to release 15 movies in 3D Blu-ray in 2011. Among the fifteen are a pair of 3D-conversions of two classic hand drawn films, Beauty and The Beast and The Lion King.
A 3-D version of Beauty and the Beast was announced a year and a half ago (we first mentioned it in 2008) and was expected to be re-released theatrically for its anniversary. A clip of the 3-D version was presented in Hall H at the San Diego Comic Con in 2009. Instead, Beast and Lion King will go straight to video, where the 5% of of the public who have 3D flat screens can enjoy them.
“As our contemporary library of 3D content continues to grow, and the original artists and filmmakers meticulously ‘dimensionalize’ their work for release on the 3D Blu-ray format, we will be offering movie-lovers the most incredible in-home entertainment experience they will ever have,” said Lori MacPherson, EVP and GM, Walt Disney Studios Home Entertainment.
Word is that Disney is “meticulously dimensionalizing” The Little Mermaid, The Jungle Book, Cinderella and about six others. I’ll be interested in seeing these. If they work, maybe someday they’ll dig into the vault and convert such titles as The Old Mill, The Three Caballeros and Der Fuehrer’s Face!
“Although we used digital compositing software, all the animation and models were done by hand, not with CGI. The film took approximately 9 months to complete, from storyboards through to the final edit.”
Also, don’t forget to check out the “making of” video.
(Thanks, Sean Dicken)
Free Range (1/2/11) by Bill Whitehead
Hi & Lois (12/29) by Brian and Greg Walker and Robert “Chance” Browne.
Bizzaro (12/27/10) by Dan Piraro
(Thanks, Jim Lahue, Jed Martinez and Ed Austin)
It’s lookin’ worse….
…to me, at least. I never liked the idea of a mo-cap Tintin movie (and of course I’m referring to the forthcoming Adventures of Tintin: The Secret of the Unicorn). But I bided my time, placed my trust in Steven Spielberg and Peter Jackson, and am taking a wait-and-see attitude. However, these new photos posted online today (on Comics Alliance) do not bode well.
Conclusion: It’s a live action film, with mocap-added make-up effects. What is the point of this? Is Popeye next?
Ever wonder what a 1965 Bugs Bunny cartoon directed by Tex Avery and animated by Rod Scribner might be like?
By 1965, Warner’s had let the original animation studio go and was sub contracting low budget Looney Tunes work to DePatie-Freleng. Bugs Bunny’s papa, Avery, and his looniest animator, Scribner, had moved on to the greener pastures of TV commercials. As fate would have it, Avery’s studio wound up with the job of creating a series of Bugs Bunny Kool-Aid spots and Scribner animated many of them. I found this black & white one on one of my old reels (a washed-out color version is also on You Tube) and think its worth a look. Yes, that’s Paul Frees as the Judge and Hal Smith as Elmer.
The US Postal Service unveiled today its commemorative postage stamps for 2011. This year’s animation tribute goes to Pixar. The stamps go on sale August 19th and, as pictured above, feature characters from Toy Story, WALL*E, Ratatouille, Cars and Up.
Current First Class postage is 44 cents. Beginning in 2011, all U.S. First Class stamps will be “Forever” stamps – thus these stamps will always be good for first class postage no matter what price the first-class rates may eventually rise to.
(Thanks, Ed Austin and Joel O’Brien)
Each year the National Film Preservation Board of The Library of Congress names 25 “culturally, historically or aesthetically” significant films to the National Film Registry, a collection of movies selected to be preserved for all time. In previous years, Chuck Jones’ What’s Opera Doc?, Bob Clampett’s Porky In Wackyland, Fleischer’s Snow White (1933), Pixar’s Toy Story and many Disney titles, including Steamboat Willie and Three Little Pigs, have made the grade.
This year there were only two films selected with a connection to animation. The first was Blake Edward’s 1964 feature film, The Pink Panther – the film which introduced Friz Freleng/Hawley Pratt’s iconic cartoon character (see the original trailer above). When it was first released, the animated titles garnered better reviews than the movie itself! It led to a long running series of theatrical shorts and numerous TV series for producers DePatie-Freleng.
The other film honored was Mary Ellen Bute’s experimental short Tarantella (1940). Bute was a pioneering avant-garde animator of the 1930s, 40s and 50s, who frequently combined classical music with abstract images. She collaborated with electronic musician Leon Theremin and was one of the first to create films, before computers, using electronically generated images. The short bio-film below offers many clips from her films, and quotes from John Canemaker and Cecile Starr:
The complete list of 2010 National Film Registry honorees is posted HERE.
A few weeks ago, animator Juan Manuel Urbina sent me this odd little short, directed by M.R. Horhager, about three squirrels who get their kicks crossing a busy road.
This behind-the-scenes video, which first appeared last week on Entertainment Tonight’s website, showcases the way Gore Verbinski is directing his voice actors and filming them as reference for the animators – a cross between traditional recording and motion capture articulations.
Yesterday, as a Christmas gift to its listeners, New York area radio station WFMU posted on its Beware of the Blog a series of rare 1982 Mel Blanc anti-drug public service announcements. In them, Blanc speaks as himself and five of his most famous Warner Bros. cartoon characters. The PSAs were found by collector Drew Dobbs (aka “Mindwrecker”) who says, “Thrill to Porky at a smoky, scary drug party and being offered animal tranquilizers, Yosemite searching for tough guys not softened up by hard drugs to duel with, and so much more.” They’re a hoot! Listen for yourself:
Rhymes With Orange (12/20) by Hilary Price
Editorial Cartoon from the Indianapolis Star (12/21) by Gary Varvel
Medium Large (12/24) by Francesco Marciuliano
Medium Large (12/23) by Francesco Marciuliano
(Thanks Jim Lahue and Billie Towser)
Yeah, you’ve seen ‘em before – but not like this! If you are in SoCal with nuthin’ to do the day after Christmas, The Alex Film Society is running these classic cartoons – 35mm studio vault prints – in what they hope will be the first in an annual tradition: The Cartoon Hall Of Fame.
This afternoon at 2pm and repeated at 7pm, the program includes Warner Bros. The Rabbit of Seville (Bugs & Elmer), One Froggy Evening (Michigan J. Frog), and Duck Dodgers in the 24th and a half Century (Daffy & Porky), Disney’s The Band Concert (Mickey Mouse), and the Silly Symphony, Three Little Pigs, and Max Fleischer’s Snow White (Betty Boop), Mechanical Monsters (Superman) and a brand new restored print of Popeye The Sailor Meets Sindbad The Sailor – all projected as they were meant to be seen, on the big screen. On-line tickets are available now for two shows, at 2pm and 7pm, and will also be available at the door – at the historic Alex Theatre, 216 North Brand Blvd. in Glendale. See you there.
As promised, the latest short from Jessica Borutski. She has been working on it for about 4 years on the side and it’s been a labor of love. A sweet little film, perfect for a Christmas Day treat! And don’t forget to visit Jessie’s new website: Foolish Kingdom!
(Thanks Jessica Borutski and Chris Dainty)
The nominations for the 34th Annual Japanese Academy Prize (Japan’s Oscar) were announced last week. The awards will be presented on February 18, 2011. In the animation category were the following five feature films:
Director: Keiichi Hara
Production Studio: Sunrise
Karigurashi no Arrietty
Director: Hiromasa Yonebayashi
English Title: The Borrower Arrietty
Production Studio: Studio Ghibli
Believe it or not there was ONE good thing about the recent Yogi Bear movie: the animated end titles by yU+Co, designed by Synderela Peng (Watchmen, Hulk, Bee Movie, etc.). Motionographer has posted the end titles, so you will NEVER have to see the whole film that precedes it.
Design/Animation: yU+Co., Hollywood, CA
Creative Director: Garson Yu
Art Director/Design lead: Synderela Peng
VFX Director/Supervisor: Richard Taylor
Producer: Sarah Coatts
Effects Coordinator: Sean Hoessli
Design Team: Edwin Baker, John Kim, Daryn Wakasa, Etsuko Uji
3D Stereoscopic Compositors: Stevan del George, Mark Velacruz
After Effects: Jill Dadducci, Andres Barajas, Gary Garza, Wayland Vida, Alex Yoon
Animators: Josh Dotson, Eddie Moreno, Noel Belknap, John Dusenberry, Dae In Chung, Ben Lopez, Pota Tseng
Editorial: Jason Sikora, Latoria Ortiz
… or is it Cool World or Monkey Bone?
Whichever, Toonpur ka Superrhero opens today in India, the UK, Canada… and the United States! The two hour, twenty minute 3-D live-action/CG combo, directed by Kireet Khurana, is playing over the holidays in Manhattan (BIG Cinemas on 59th Street) and in the LA area (NAZ 8 Artesia in Lakewood), as well as San Francisco, Georgia, Illinois and New Jersey. It’s getting a wider American release than The Illusionist! For US theater listings click here (links to PDF file).
The motley crew pictured above are (left to right) Henry Selick, Bill Kroyer, Jerry Rees, Brad Bird and John Musker circa 1978. The photo comes from Rees’ new personal website which touts his interesting career, but works for us as a fascinating scrapbook of his many film projects. Rees has also posted his early live-action shorts, co-directed with Tim Burton, including Luau (part 1, embed below, featuring animation artists Joe Ranft, John Musker, Brian McEntee, Sue Kroyer, Ed Gombert and Harry Sabin – among others), and Doctor of Doom (which stars Burton himself — his voice dubbed by Brad Bird!)
He has pages devoted to his feature The Brave Little Toaster, his work on the original Tron, the beloved Disney World film Return to Neverland and Warner Bros. Space Jam. There are all kinds of surprises here; well worth exploring if you are a student of the current generation’s early roots.