Zach Cohen is an illustrator and an animator currently living and working in Israel. His stuff is real cool… and his latest little film, Same, was produced in five days, working ’round the clock, for a local “Maratoon” competition. The theme was “beyond the mirror”. Check out more of Cohen’s work here.
This short, bizarre sequence about a fish in a train is the somewhat-NSFW opener for a local “doomsday” film festival in Germany. Jonatan Schwenk (we previously posted his Maison Sonore) created Twelve/Twelve/Twelve (EINUNDZWANZIG ZWöLF ZWöLF), to promote the annual festival which takes place on the longest night of the year – this year on Friday December 21st – at the College of Art and Design in Offenbach.
The animation is a convincing mixture of stop-motion, 2D-animated parts and live action footage. Schwenk writes:
“I used Dragon Stop Motion for the frame-by-frame-animation of the characters. Textures and extremities were drawn frame by frame or animated with the Duik tool in After Effects. I used Mocha to track the footage which I shot with a Canon EOS 7D. I spent a lot of time to customize the lighting of the stopmotion sets so that the fish would really fit into the train footage.”
Check out this great little behind-the-scences video:
It’s a cross between Miyazaki’s Castle In The Sky and Warner Bros. Iron Giant – for the Bob The Builder crowd. Eric Lee, animation director at a small production studio in Tulsa Oklahoma, Steelehouse Productions, sent me the pilot for their brand-new steampunk internet series aimed at kids – Steampuff.
“Currently the entire series is being produced entirely in-house as a bit of a labor of love. We are a small team of producers, one writer and two animators (and a couple of talented interns to boot). We hope that Steampuff might win over the hearts and imaginations of kids and become a pioneer in the world of online web series for kids.”
The chase in the second-half is pretty cool – and for that alone, I recommend watching it. And as for me, I wish them well with this project.
On Christmas Eve at 8pm, Britian’s Channel 4 will premiere a sequel to the classic animated special, The Snowman. That original animated special – based on Raymond Briggs’ classic story, directed by Jimmy Murakami and Dianne Jackson – has been beloved by audiences everywhere since it’s first broadcast in 1982; no more so than in the UK where it has become a holiday tradition.
Now, exactly thirty years later, The Snowman and The Snowdog will be aired as part of an anniversary telecast celebrating the original. Hilary Audus, a storyboard artist on the original show, and a key animator on several other Briggs animation adaptations, wrote and directed. The late John Coates (the original producer) apparently gave his blessing to the production before his passing.
Whether or not the new show has charm of the original, the production was decidedly old school – and this excellent behind-the-scenes promo (below) shows how sincere the crew was in maintaining the traditional standards.
This weekend, my friends at The Cinefamily are having a 24-hour fundraising telethon to A. stay in business, B. buy a 2K digital projection system and C. restore The Silent Movie Theatre (an L.A. landmark).
The Cinefamily is the coolest of the many cool Los Angeles area repertory theaters and the home to my monthly public classic animation screenings (which will begin again in January). The telethon this weekend is open to the public (seats are limited), free admission for anyone to attend – or you can watch it live, online here.
I will be at the theatre on Sunday morning at 10:30am PST to present a few classic silent animated films. I’ll be preceded at 9am by Bob Bakers Marionettes and our friends at Screen Novelties; and will be followed by Pete & Pete creators Chris Viscardi & Will McRobb.
Animators Pablo Ferro, Miwa Matreyek, David Silverman, Phil Lord and Chris Miller and many other noted folks will be participating this weekend for this worthy cause. The 24-hour Telethon starts today at 1pm and ends Sunday at 1pm. The complete schedule of events is listed below:
- Robert Downey Jr. opens a time capsule!
- A mindblowing multimedia performance by Miwa Matreyek!
- Mark Mothersbaugh talks synths & soundtracks in a disembodied digital discussion, live via Skype!
- Phil Lord and Chris Miller (directors of “21 Jump Street”) present Lego fan films!
- Trailers From Hell, live!
- Neil Hamburger presents the stars of tomorrow!
- Dave Franco & Brian McGinn’s comedy shorts!
- “Cracked Out”, with Jon Daly & Brett Gelman!
- The legendary Pablo Ferro talks “Madvertising”!
- A slideshow presentation from pop-art renaissance man Wayne White!
MIDNIGHT MADNESS (8pm – midnight-ish)
- CINEFAMILY CHRISTMAS EXTRAVAGANZA! feat. a sneak peak at Everything Is Terrible’s Holiday Special 2012, “Simpsons” director David Silverman’s Flaming Tuba, and an intergalactic yuletide interview w/ Zorak from “Space Ghost: Coast To Coast”!
- Rob Schrab & Dan Harmon’s Found Crap!
- Nick Offerman shares his talents…and mustache!
- Usher in midnight with an audio/visual odyssey from Cut Chemist!
- Cinefamily’s signature “Total Madness” DJ/VJ set, live!
THE NITE OWL (midnght-ish – 6am)
Presented by VICE
- A late night visit from Eric Wareheim!
- An acoustic set by John Hawkes!
- A holiday reading by Udo Kier!
- One-Minute Movies with Guy Maddin!
- Special Christmas presentation by Tearist!
- Found footage mayhem unleashed by TV Carnage!
- A special holiday appearance by Brie Larson!
- Daedelus performs live & demonstrates his homemade electronic instruments!
- VICE crashes the party with exclusive, brand new original films!
- Crazy-ass footage from Burger TV!
- Sublime Frequencies presents ethnographic musical oddities!
- Hadrian’s mom teaches spoon-bending and interviews Hadrian!
GOOD MORNING CINEFAMILY (6am-12pm)
- YACHT celebrates the dawn with film, music, yoga & breakfast!
- Cat Film Festival, featuring a web-cast Q&A on web cat culture with Lil Bub!
- The Bob Baker Marionettes and Screen Novelties’ Christmas Extravaganza!
- Fuzzy Felt Films (warm n’ fuzzy 16mm ephemeral film rarities of the ’60s & ’70s)
- Jerry Beck presents silent cartoons & kids’ shorts w/ live accompaniment by Cliff Retallick (the Cinefamily’s regular silent film accompanist!)
- “Adventures of Pete & Pete” creators Chris Viscardi & Will McRobb talk inspiration and deconstruct “A Christmas Story”!
- Screenwriting guru Robert McKee skypes in and talks with Nicholas Jarecki (writer/director of “Arbitrage”)!
- A Tribute to Ben Gazzara, featuring archival footage of his fantastic, legendary Q&A appearance at the Cinefamily
- NEW & RENEWING MEMBERS’ POTLUCK: “My Lunch with Schwartzman”: a brunch feast/on-stage interview with Jason Schwartzman!
Check it all out: HERE!
Sometimes we don’t realize something is cool until months or years go by and then we catch up with it. There’s something going on right now that’s pretty darn cool and I want to call your attention to – because I wouldn’t want you to pay any inflated ebay “collectors” prices later on.
Craig Yoe and Clizia Gussoni have been doing two wonderful Popeye comic book series for IDW Publishing. One is a mini-series of 12 original issues. The other is a series reprinting Bud Sagendorf’s great 1940s-50s comic book run. Sagendorf was the long-time assistant to the creator of Popeye, Elzie Segar, and his comics are just as classic.
Yoe tells us:
“We are finishing up the acclaimed Popeye mini-series, and we’ll go out with a goggley-eyed bang when Popeye meets Barney Google. One of the most popular aspects has been the variant covers by celeb artists. So we are now going to continue that aspect in our reprints of the hilarious Bud Sagendorf’s Popeye classic Comics.
We are ecstatic that the first Popeye Classic variant cover will be by the justly famed New Yorker cartoonist Roz Chast. We’re looking for other awesome artists who want to do a variant cover and welcome people from the animation community–Matt Groening, Craig McCracken, Ralph Bakshi, Tim Burton, Genndy Tartakovsky–are you listening? Lesser luminaries are welcome to submit ideas, too–if they’re good we’ll use them!”
I can’t speak highly enough about these comic books. They are produced with a proper amount of respect for Segar/Sagendorf’s original canon, gently updated to play perfectly as contemporary adventures. A perfect package – topped off with a bonus: the guest cover artists. Below is a gallery of covers by some of those guest artists (click thumbnail to enlarge image) – its a blast to see Popeye interpreted by a who’s-who of respected artisans.
Top Row (left to right): The variant cover to Popeye Classic #8 by Roz Chast; Cover by Bruce Ozella and variant by Jules Feiffer for Popeye #1; Variant for Popeye #2 by Tony Millionaire.
Middle Row (left to right): Cover by Tom Neely and variant by Dean Yeagle for Popeye #3; Variant by Seymour Chwast for Popeye #4; Variant by Shawn Dickinson for Popeye #8.
Bottom Row (left to right): Variant by Al Jaffee for Popeye #9 (not in stores yet); Variant by Craig Yoe for Popeye #10 (not in stores yet); Variant by Mitch O’Connell for Popeye #11 (not in stores yet); Cover by Roger Langridge for the final issue with Barney Google cross-over, Popeye #12 (not in stores yet).
Buy these books! Highly recommended!
Jazz enthusiast (and Harry Von Zell devotee) Leonard Maltin just found this rare 1946 album, Artie Shaw’s Pied Piper and kindly shared the cover with me (below, click to enlarge). As you can see it was illustrated by none other than animator George Pal! This was new to me!
Not only that, Leonard tells me the record features Arthur Q. Bryan (Elmer Fudd) as the voice of the Mayor of Hamlin!
While I’m at it, I might as well post these two rare stills (below, click thumbnails to enlarge); I’d never seen either until recently.
The first, at left, is of Paramount’s star Dorothy Lamour holding the Pal Puppetoon figure of herself, used in the 1941 short Hoola Boola; at right, courtesy of Mark and Seamus at Screen Novelties, is a beautiful publicity pose of George Pal himself surrrounded by his most famous Puppetoon figures; The photo’s caption on the back (center thumbnail) gives a mini-bio and dates the picture to 1943.
The Golden Globe nominees for Best Animated Film have been announced and Brave, Frankenweenie, Hotel Transylvania, Rise of the Guardians and Wreck-It Ralph are on the list. Congratulations to these films and their filmmakers.
My condolences to Laika, Blue Sky, Illumination, Aardman and our friends at GKids for not making the cut. Don’t take it personally – The Hollywood Foreign Press Association is a phoney-baloney group of journalists, comprised of a small group of people nobody has ever heard of.
Unlike the Oscars, the Guilds, the various film critic groups or even the Annies – The people picking these Golden Globe nominees are not professional peers. The Globes is essentially a big show for the public and the studio publicists; a big show for the broadcast networks and their advertisers (Dick Clark Productions owns it). Actors love it for the national exposure.
I think its great that the Globes recognize animated features – its the only recognition this group throws our way. But it is well known that the members of the Hollywood Foreign Press are easily swayed by high-profile directors and famous movie stars. Getting the big shots to attend their event helps their ratings – and enhances their TV advertising rates.
And that’s why I’m going to go out on a limb to predict that Frankenweenie will win. It’s the Tim Burton film. Everyone knows Tim Burton – especially international journalists. It’s not about which film is better, it’s about the big names… and the general public unfortunately doesn’t know who Mark Andrews, Rich Moore, Peter Ramsey or Genndy are. Yet.
I’d love to see Wreck-It Ralph or Hotel Transylvania get the nod. I’ve got nothing against Frankenweenie. Recognition of any kind is a good thing. But the Golden Globes are a shining example of “playing the game” in Hollywood – and nobody plays it better than the Hollywood Foreign Press Association.
The Golden Globes will be awarded on Jan. 13th, 2013 on NBC.
Submitted for your approval, a selection of catchy new music videos of various styles – combined in one convenient post for easy review. First up:
Ms. Atomic Bomb by Warren Fu
Ms. Atomic Bomb, the latest single from The Killers is an homage to Moebius. The animation was produced by Titmouse and supervised by Animation Director Jeremy Polgar. Live action portion were produced by Michel Gondry’s production company Partizan Entertainment.
Director: Warren Fu
Animation Director: Jeremy Polgar
Animation Producers: Jennifer Ray & Tim Yoon
Supervising Producer: Ben Kalina
Lead Animator: Dave Gerhard
Character Design: So Yeong Park & Warren Fu
Background Design: Howard Chen, Derek Kosol
Background Paint: Abraham Martinez, Bobby Walker
Animation: Dave Gerhard, Braden Poirier, Andrew Wilson, Parker Simmons
Assistant Animators: Deena Beck, Yanise Cabrera, Yuri Fain, Garrett Hagen, Jonathan Rawlings, Anneli Strassler
Composite: Mike Newton, Thomas McDonnell
Animation Editor: Lauren Hecht
LIVE ACTION CREDITS:
Producer: Josh Goldstein
Director of Photography: Shawn Kim
Editor: Warren Fu
Production Designer: Robert Fox
Sound Design: Peter Lauridsen
Styling: Aubrey Binzer
Makeup: Erin Walters
Executive Producer: Jeff Panteleo
Label Commissioner: Mildred Delamota
Imposter by Timothy Armstrong
Composer, sound designer and illustrator Armstrong created this haunting piece of animation, based on a short story by his friend Luke Oram.
Rat Trap by Brett Underhill
This music video for Scrapomatic by Brooklyn-based Underhill is a nice blend of live and animation.
Mr. Incredible by Mike Scott
The video was part of the Machinima exhibition at the iam8bit gallery in Los Angeles. Scott wrote the song with his brother (together aka The Kiffness). Backgrounds were drawn in Photoshop with a Wacom Intuos 4, animated in Toon Boom Animate 2, compiled in Adobe Premiere Pro.
Please Come Home For Christmas by James Neal
Just in time for the holidays, Burbank-based animator James Neal used traditional old school rotoscope techniques to visualize this Christmas tune by Brooklyn music legend Kenny Vance (and the Planotones).
It’s that time of year… the season when animators all over the world express themselves in their individual ways by creating animated greeting cards. Here’s a few we’ve received so far this month…
Happy Holidays from Montréal-based Jacques Khouri
Merry Christmas from London-based animators Louis & McCourt
Santa Team Six from Sascha Ciezata of LA’s It’s Alive Animation
And finally, this drinking game from London’a Trunk Animation Design
Got a fun animated Christmas greeting? Send it in and we may share it in a future post. Seasons Greetings to all.
If The Shmoo turns you on, then this new short might be NSFW – but otherwise this animated western by three obviously male Supinfocom students (Paul Jaulmes, Boris Croisé, and Guillaume Cunis) took some balls to produce…
Kosher hero fights off ninja pigs to save a traditional holiday jelly donut (a Sufganiyah). Thus begins Samurai Jew: The Eighth Night, the first chapter in the adventures of “a Jewish super warrior” from Jerusalem-based animator Nadav Nachmany.
Nachmany recently finished his animation studies at the Bezalel Academy for Fine Art and Design, and is now an independent filmaker. His graduate film, Moving Pictures, is curently runing in festivals around the world. He’s good! Check out more of his work here.
Oh, and Happy Hanukkah!
A funny thing happened to Dreamworks’ Rise of The Guardians on its way to box-office oblivion – it’s quietly becoming a hit.
In its third weekend in release, 19 days at the box-office, Guardians was the number #2 film in the U.S. (grossing $10.5 million, with a total come of $61.9 to date), behind James Bond’s Skyfall, and ahead of Twilight Breaking Dawn 2, Lincoln, Life of Pi and Wreck-It Ralph (who’s $164.4 million gross is nothing to sneeze at).
The Hollywood trade press once again reveals its strange double standard when reporting on animated films. Unless its a blockbuster – animated films aren’t worth talking about. This article in today’s L.A. Times, a survey of the weekend box office, doesn’t even mention the number #2 film, Rise of The Guardians, in its text!
Deadline Hollywood was quick last week to report on Guardians causing Dreamworks stock to drop, quoting a Wall Street insider who called it “one of the most disappointing releases in the company’s history”. But this week the blog barely mentions Guardians rise to #2 – still calling the film a “disappointment”.
Apparently it’s not a disappointment to family audiences worldwide – in fact, The Associated Press reports Guardians is currently the #1 film in international markets, with a box office gross last weekend of $26 million. The combined US and international gross for the film in less than a month in release is over $152 million – and counting.
This post isn’t about the pros and cons of Rise of the Guardians itself – and perhaps the film isn’t doing the numbers Dreamworks hoped it would. This post is about the hypocrisy (and perhaps conspiracy) of industry reporters who continue to treat animated films as second class citizens. Unless it’s a blockbuster or has a director too big to ignore, animation doesn’t fit into the glamorous scenario the Hollywood reporters wish to spin – audiences and box office grosses be damned.
(Thanks, Nick Bruel)