Gotta hand it to Dreamworks… this takes marketing to a whole new level.
Below I’ve embed the entire one-hour episode of History Detectives which aired last night on PBS. The first 18 minutes is devoted to tracking down the story behind a cache of rare cartoon cels, which turn out to be from the long-forgotten first Buddy cartoon, a Looney Tunes cartoon from 1933. During the course of the investigation, host Tukufu Zuberi interviews animation art expert Mike Van Eaton, Woodbury University’s Dori Littell Herrick, ink & paint veteran Martha Sigall and yours truly, Jerry Beck. For your further viewing pleasure, the PBS website has also post the first Looney Tunes cartoon, starring Bosko, Sinkin’ In The Bathtub (1930).
If you like Star Wars, you’ll get a kick out of this. The Solo Adventures was shown a few weeks ago at the Star Wars Celebration V in Orlando, Florida (I was there!), where it was an audience favorite and won a Best Animation prize. This 3D student film, written and directed by Daniel L. Smith and Jeffery Sheetz, was a class project by students at the DAVE School of Digital Arts and Visual Effects in Orlando.
(Thanks, Mike Stanfill)
I don’t know about you, but I love Key Lime Pie, especially as served up by Trevor Jimenez. Made at Sheridan in 2007.
(Thanks, Ed Austin, via The Movie Blog)
Last Wednesday we posted a link from Variety in our Industry Headlines column (at right), Disney Withdraws from Annie Awards, which clearly deserves further discussion on Cartoon Brew. The Variety piece, as far as I know, is essentially fair and accurate. But some of the secondary reporting on this, on such blogs as the Animation Guild and Michael Sporn to name two, are unintentionally spreading misinformation. So I thought we owed it to our readers to set a few things straight.
First, Disney’s withdrawal does not mean Disney films will not be considered or nominated, and does not mean the studio has no chance to win future Annie Awards. They certainly will.
Disney’s decision only affects the Annie Awards in two ways: Disney will not provide their traditional portion of co-sponsorship money (a role that dates back at least twenty years), funds that help mount the annual event at UCLA’s Royce Hall. And secondly, the company currently says they will not submit nominees from their feature animation studios.
Disney and Pixar artists (and all animators, anywhere) should be aware that they can submit their own work for Annie nomination without studio assistance. Also, Annie nominating committees have the power to nominate work which was not submitted. Nominations are decided by peer-group committees, not studio execs, and winners are voted on by Asifa’s professional membership. So again, I predict Disney and Pixar to be well represented come award time.
ASIFA was established by animation artists such as Norman McLaren, John Hubley, and John Halas in 1957. ASIFA’s Hollywood chapter, a non-profit organization, was started a few years later by Bill Scott, Stephen Bosustow, Ward Kimball, William T. Hurtz, Carl Bell, Les Goldman, June Foray, and Bill Littlejohn. The Annie Awards have always been presented by artists, for artists.
Long before the Oscars and Golden Globes thought animated features worthy of their awards, the Annies recognized features, TV shows, direct-to-video movies and commercials, as well the animators, story artists, background painters, voice actors and other behind the scenes talent.
It’s a wonderful thing when those who run the corporations that profit most from the artform support and celebrate the people who actually create the work. From what I know, the Annies will go on this year with strong support from Nickelodeon, Sony, Dreamworks, Warner Bros., Cartoon Network, Fox, Universal and Starz.
Disney management, in an email sent to Disney/Pixar employees last week, encouraged its employees “to maintain their memberships and support for the Annies as they deem appropriate”. Somehow, someday, I suspect Disney will return to supporting the Annies – at a time they deem appropriate.
Slim pickings this week: Lio (8/26) by Mark Tatulli; The Argyle Sweater (8/22) by Scott Hilburn; and Reality Check (8/27) by Dave Whammond.
(Thank you Jim Lahue, Kurtis Findlay, Charles Brubaker and Ed Austin)
Here’s a roundup of few new books that several publishers and authors were kind enough to send my way:
ANIMATED PERFORMANCE (Ava Publishing) by Nancy Beiman is an instant classic. There have been many many “how-to” books written by current and past animation masters in recent years, many of them quite good (Richard Williams and Eric Goldberg’s books come to mind first). Beiman’s new book concentrates solely on character animation and she knocks it out of the park. It is a thorough, step by step examination of the art, aimed at the advanced student or professional animator who already knows the basics. The principles she discusses can apply to any technique (CG, Flash, stop motion, etc.) and she has packed the book with ample examples of her own animation, as well as classic comic strips, commercial art and movie stills to illustrate her points. She’s also peppered the book with inspiring quotes (such as this neat one from Kaj Pindal: “Animation begins where live action gives up.”). What’s most important is the book is a joy to read – even a non-animator such as myself can get a lot out of it. It’s 232 oversized pages, loaded with solid information based on a lifetime of professional experience. I highly recommend this book to anyone doing, or attempting to do, character animation on any level.
THE ADVANCED ART OF ANIMATION (Course Technology) by Ken A. Priebe is a sequel to Preibe’s 2006 book, The Art of Stop Motion Animation. This time Preibe takes a closer look at some the techniques touched upon in his earlier volume, as well as covering advances in the techniques during the last five years. The book contains a more thorough history of the stop-mo technique, extensive interviews with visual effects supervisor Pete Kozachik, clay animator Marc Spess, Screen Novelties’ Mark Caballero & Seamus Walsh, as well as expanded chapters on building puppets, character animation and visual effects. There are several books out there on stop motion, off hand I’d say Priebe’s new book is possibly the best.
SID THE SQUID (Immedium) by David Derrick is part of the trend of animators writing and illustrating children’s books. Derrick is a story artist at Dreamworks, and this charming book reads like a classic animated feature that never was. Sid leaves the ocean, and with the help of a little girl, he searches the city in hopes of finding the right job for his particular talents. Fun, and with an inspiring message. Perfect for kids of all ages.
Last but not least, CHRISTMAS WISHES (Stackpole Books) by Tim Hollis (co-author of Mouse Tracks, The Story of Walt Disney Records) is one to pick up for purely inspirational purposes. It’s Tim’s nostalgic recollections of Christmas past, lavishly illustrated with images of vintage toys, comic books, records, TV specials, sheet music, toy catalogs and advertisements from the 1950s, 60s and 70s. Cool stuff, nicely compiled, and fun to browse.
Speaking of animator Paul Fierlinger (as we did yesterday), The Animal Shelter Project and the Humane Society have brought Fierlinger together with cartoonist Patrick McDonnell (Mutts) to create six public service spots based on the book Mutts Shelter Stories.
According to producer Peter Barg, “McDonnell felt Paul’s ability to capture true-to-nature body language was the perfect complement to his famous Mutts characters”. Fierlinger’s feature My Dog Tulip, opens in NYC at Film Forum on September 1st and in LA at the Nuart on October 22nd. You can watch all six spots online at Z Animation.
A few weeks ago I recieved a call from the fine folks at the PBS show History Detectives. Seems they had someone who found a cache of animation cels, but couldn’t figure out who the characters were, and wondered if these cels had any historical significance. I met up with history detective Tukufu Zuberi and took a look at what they found: rare cels from the first Buddy cartoon, Buddy’s Day Out (1933). Pretty cool – and pretty rare. If you haven’t heard of Buddy, you are not alone. He’s probably the least known, and least respected, Looney Tunes star.
Next week, August 30th, the show will air on PBS stations across the U.S. (check your local listings for time and channel). Schlesinger ink-and-paint veteran Martha Sigall also appears in the segment. I hope you’ll tune in to watch the mystery unfold. Heck, this’ll mark Buddy’s first appearance on a broadcast television in over 40 years – that alone should warrant your recording this event. Click thumbnails below to see a few of the cels they uncovered. Click here to see a promo for the next episode – don’t blink or you’ll miss the back of my head!
A film that answers the eternal question: “Will you still love me the same as before if I was a fatty?”
This Chinese student-made short, a blend of chalk-drawing animation, 2D and stop-motion is beautifully made, and a heck of a lot of fun. The interactions of the 2D characters with the “real world” props is very good. He Weifeng is a soon-to-be graduate of Guangzhou’s Academy of Art.
(Thanks, Russ Handelman)
Satoshi Kon passed away in Tokyo on Tuesday. He was 46–and in the middle of directing a new film, The Dream Machine. Kon was one of a handful of internationally respected directors of anime films. He started his career as a manga artist and editor for Young Magazine, and then became art designer and key animator on Katsuhiro Otomo and Hiroyuki Kitakubo’s Roujin Z (1991). He then wrote the “Magnetic Rose” sequence in the animated anthology film, Memories (1995). Kon made his directorial debut with Perfect Blue in 1998, followed by Millennium Actress (2001), Tokyo Godfathers (2003), Paprika (2006). His 2004 TV series Paranoia Agent played in the US on Adult Swim. All of his works as a director have been made by Studio Madhouse, where he was a staff director along with Rintaro and Yoshiaki Kawajiri.
(Thanks, Charles Solomon)
Here’s a nice little viral video/slide-show of Pixar’s Teddy Newton discussing his new Chronicle book based on his short Day & Night.
If Epic Mickey didn’t rock your world – maybe this will…
Technologizer’s Harry McCracken posted this on his personal blog, and I couldn’t resist sharing it with Brew readers. It’s video of Fisher-Price’s Dance Star Mickey doll, from Toy Fair 2010 at the Javits Convention Center in New York City. It goes on sale next month.
Submitted for your approval: Medium Large (8/19) by Francesco Marciuliano; Mother Goose and Grimm (8/20) by Mike Peters; Adam @home (8/20) by Brian Basset; Keeping Up With the Sevilles (8/20) by Alex Dudley; Brevity (8/18) by Guy & Rod; and Reality Check (8/19) by Dave Whammond.
(Thanks, Jim Lahue, Kurtis Findlay, Ed Austin, Jed Martinez and Chris Allison)
Cartoon historian Tom Stathes continues to amaze me with his rare finds and research into silent-era and early talkie animation. Tom has recently begun a regular series of public screenings in the New York area, highlighting many gems from his remarkable collection. Next Friday at Attic Studios in Long Island City, Stathes is collaborating with Cinebeasts to present Travelaffs, a selection of vintage Looney Tunes, Van Beuren, Ub Iwerks, and Fleischer goodies, taking you to Italy, China, Spain, and the politically incorrect Congo. The show starts at 7pm.
Even if you think you’ve seen it all, this show is must. Tom has located a long lost Fleischer Talkartoon, Ace of Spades (1930, released January 1931) and will present its first public showing in almost eight decades. And its a good one – with card sharp Bimbo out to win a poker tournament – all done in rhyme, with the usual cross-eyed Fleischer menagerie, zany rubber-hose animation, and Mickey Mouse-like rodents running loose. Here’s a few clips to whet your whistle, assembled by co-conspiritor David Gerstein:
If you’re hot and tired and pissed off in Los Angeles this week, my monthly live comedy/cartoon revue, Cartoon Dump, will snap you out of it. Join us this Monday night at 8pm.
This month we celebrate Summer with special guest comedians J. Elvis Weinstein (from Cinematic Titanic) and Blaine Capatch. I’ll be there with Frank Conniff (“TV’s Frank”), Erica Doering, Dave “Gruber” Allen, and Mighty Mr. Titan, Monday at the Steve Allen Theater, 4773 Hollywood Blvd. â€¢ Free Parking! â€¢ Advanced Tickets here â€¢ Phone: (323) 666-9797 â€¢ Map & Directions â€¢ And friend us on Facebook.
I’m not hiding my enthusiasm for Teddy Newton’s short Day & Night, and neither is Pixar. Instead of releasing a Little Golden Book based on the short, as they had for several previous shorts, the studio contracted with Chronicle Books to produce a handsome little hardback edition. Teddy wrote and drew this adaptation and its a wonderful souvenir of the film — a cartoon sure to be nominated for this year’s Best Animated Short. I took these snaps with my iPhone above and below (click thumbnails below to enlarge). The book just came out and is listed on Amazon now for ten bucks ($10.19 to be exact)! 36 glossy pages, beautifully rendered and a must-have.
P.S. Next week we’ll have a surprise contest for an autographed copy of the book.
An armadillo lives in a perfect world that is threatened when a hunter enters the scene. Directed by Mike Klim, Stanley Moore, Dominic Pallotta and Mikey Sauls, Dilla was produced at Sarasota Florida’s Ringling College of Art + Design.
(Thanks, Lindsey Olivares)
The ASIFA-Hollywood’s Animation Educators Forum Student Animation Film Festival will take place Saturday, November 6th at Cal State Long Beach. The event is open to all and there will be a full day of film screenings, panels and portfolio reviews, ending with an awards ceremony and a reception. The First place winner will receive their Student Annie Award at this years gala Annie Awards event in February. There are also additional prizes for the top films provided by their sponsors.
Deadlines to submit a film are September 1st (a soft deadline) and Oct 1st (the final deadline). The festival is also looking for volunteers and is already taking appointments for portfolio reviews. For more info, go to: Animator Educators Forum.com.
Jetset Studios in Los Angeles creates online campaigns and internet video for the major Hollywood studios. But between projects the studio has been quietly developing The Velvet Mouse Show. Created by studio co-founders Russell Scott and Patrick Young, The Velvet Mouse Show is anchored by a 2D cartoon that is a very deliberate love letter to Saturday Morning cartoons of the seventies.
So far, they’ve concocted a seven minute pilot and two teasers on their YouTube channel. Their main website and Facebook page features further background material, music, images, and “artifacts from the history of show”. Here’s a sample (with a nifty vintage Ice Bird commercial):
(Thanks, Matthew Selznick)
First look at Warner Animation’s new MAD cartoon series. It starts airing September 6th on Cartoon Network.
Nick DiLiberto is an animator currently working in Japan. He recently completed a fully animated 2D short film and just uploaded it to YouTube. He sent it to us with this note:
“I’m a really big fan of Cartoon Brew and was hoping you could watch my film and tell me what you think and, if you like it, I would be honored if you would be willing to post it on your site for others to watch. If you or your readers have any questions I would love to answer them.”
I like it – and I think our readers will dig it too:
A Battle of Animation Studio Bands? Women In Animation International (WIA) is planning a “Battle of the Animation Bands” concert, an evening of indie music, to be held in late September in Hollywood that will feature bands created at animation, visual effects and game studios.
Bands will be selected by the Women in Animation board from CDs submitted to WIA before the deadline of Friday, September 3rd. All music genres are welcome however music with a dance-able beat is preferred. At least one member of the band must work for an animation, visual effects or game studio. The evening’s “Battle Star” will be chosen by the audience and win “a very huge, very tacky trophy”.
If you have a band, mail a CD of your work to: P.O. BOX 17706, Encino, CA 91416. Or e-mail a link to your demo to Rita Street: rita-at-radarcartoons.com. If you have questions concerning the event or would like to serve as a sponsor, please also contact Rita.
Here’s the opening cinematic for the upcoming Wii game, Epic Mickey, from Warren Spector and Junction Point.
(Thanks, Gibbs Rainock and Tim Thomsen)
Craig Yoe’s latest book is a beautiful love letter to the comic book legacy of Otto Messmer/Joe Oriolo’s Felix The Cat. As usual, Yoe has produced an art book that is unto itself a thing of art, a 226 page celebration of Felix’s four-color career. Previously John Canemaker covered the animated films and David Gerstein collected selected Sunday newspaper strips. Here, Yoe focuses on the Dell/Toby/Harvey periodicals created by animators Messmer, Oriolo and Jim Tyer. The book itself is lavishly produced (which is standard for Yoe’s publications) starting with the classy black and white cover – a clever contrast to rainbow-hued Messmer end papers and content to come. It begins with a 35-page introductory text, liberally illustrated with original Messmer/Oriolo art, rare photographs and odd-ball historical material (my favorite is a 1925 Photoplay magazine spread featuring a Ziegfeld Girl teaching Felix the latest dance craze, The Black Bottom). And then the real fun begins: twelve choice Felix stories, originally created between 1946 and 1954.
The Felix comic stories were always quite “trippy” (to use the 60s expression), usually starting off normally then drifting into worlds of giants, oversized talking vegetables, robots, magic carpets and trips into space. The artwork is always imaginative and very cartoony. This is a wonderful tribute to a cartoon super-star’s most neglected – but still significant – work. As far as I’m concerned, Yoe’s Felix The Cat: The Great Comic Book Tails is another must-have.