Film collector Tom Stathes is quickly becoming the expert and archivist of cinema’s silent cartoon history. Check out his website and blog, buy his home-made DVDs and attend his local New York area Cartoon Carnivals (the next one is this Saturday, March 20th). Good stuff!
The intertitles are in Russian, but we have to post it: the first full trailer for Sylvain Chomet’s The Illusionist.
(Thanks, David Nethery and Carlo Guillot)
This week on Stu’s Show, the one and only Stan Freberg will be live and in-studio, along with comedy writer/producer Mark Evanier, who will co-host. They’ll cover as much of Stan’s illustrious career as they can, including his years doing cartoon voiceover work at Warner Brothers in the 1940s and 50s, partnering with Daws Butler to write and perform Bob Clampett’s Time For Beany, recording some of the greatest comedy records of all time, and opening an advertising agency responsible for producing the most hilarious and innovative commercials to ever hit the TV airwaves. The show airs live on your computer, 4:00 p.m. PT/7:00 p.m. ET, with rebroadcasts daily at the same time. Listen to it HERE!
Next week, (live on March 24th) Brewmaster Jerry Beck will join Stu to discuss classic animation and take phone calls. I’ll remind you about this again next week.
Silly Science (released May 1960). Director Seymour Kneitel. Animation: I. Klein, Irving Dressler. Story: Carl Meyer, Jack Mercer. Scenics: Robert Owen. Music: Winston Sharples.
Silly Science is a somewhat forgettable Paramount Modern Madcap cartoon from 1960 featuring numerous spot gags about “space-age living”. However, its worth another a look due to its rather accurate predictions of a telephone-video combo (Skype), a pint-sized flat vacuum cleaner (Roomba), and wide-screen drive by movies (I’m still waiting for this). Disney buffs will note an unauthorized appearance by Baby Weems at the 30 second mark.
This cartoon also made use of subtle cut-out animation techniques. This is cited in Eli Levitan’s long-out-of-print book Animation Techniques and Commercial Film Production (1962). The process is described on three pages which I’ve posted below (click thumbnails to enlarge each page). This is how it was done before Flash. Paramount made even better use of cut-outs in another short released later that year, Bouncing Benny.
(Thanks, Mark Kausler)
Hayley Morris is a director and animator at Curious Pictures in NYC. Her short stop-motion animation Undone won best animated short at Slamdance 2009. Hayley joined Curious in June 2008 after graduating from the Rhode Island School of Design. Undone, her senior film project, is a tribute to her grandfather who suffered from Alzheimer’s Disease.
Today, Joe Ranft would have been fifty years old. Disney director John Musker created this storyboard tribute to the late Pixar and Disney storyman. It was originally shown at Ranft’s memorial celebration on September 17, 2005.
Joe was one of the prime creative people behind PIXAR and a major contributor to Toy Story, a Bug’s Life, Cars. Joe was tragically killed in an automobile accident 5 years ago. This is a visualization of anecdotes I heard about my friend and colleague Joe.”
Filmmaker David Fincher (Fight Club, Se7en, Benjamin Button, etc.), who began his career working for Lucasfilm in special effects (Return of the Jedi) and on the animated film Twice Upon A Time, is setting up a new eight-or-nine part Heavy Metal animated feature. Besides himself, he’s enlisted James Cameron (Avatar), Gore Verbinski (Pirates of the Carribean) and Zack Snyder (300) each to direct a segment – with other big-name directors to be announced. Deadline Hollywood says TMNT creator (and Heavy Metal publisher) Kevin Eastman and Blur Studios’ Tim Miller may also be attached. Should be interesting to see how this comes together…
The Los Angeles Times is reporting that Disney has ended its deal with Robert Zemeckis’ mo-cap factory, Image Movers. Disney is closing down the Marin County studio and laying off 450 people. But, according to the Times piece:
ImageMovers is currently completing production on “Mars Needs Moms,” which Disney plans to release in March 2011. Zemeckis is also developing a 3-D adaptation of the 1968 Beatles animated film, “Yellow Submarine.”
Without a major studio backing it, and with some luck, the Beatles project will die a quick death. Hopefully Mr. Zemeckis will return to the quality live-action filmmaking he was so good at before this disastrous detour into CG animation.
Maybe is a sweet little, 2-minute, “Eco-piece” by Sam Chou of Toronto’s Style5 animation boutique. Chou says the work was inspired by a frustrating conversation he’d had with a friend. The film asks fundamental questions about human nature and our relationship to the environment, and uses a combination of techniques: from the traditional, hand-drawn animation, rotoscoping, to full on digital painting and compositing.
Sorry for the last minute notice, but our friend Joseph Games (Chogrin) says a full-length preview episode of Adventure Time will air TONIGHT (Thursday, March 11th) at 8:30pm Eastern (5:30pm Pacific) on Cartoon Network.
With so little originality in TV animation these days, I’m really rooting for this series to catch on. It’s not “Spumco” or the cookie cutter standard we’ve come to expect from CN, Nick or Disney. Pen’s got a fresh new take that TV cartoons desperately need. His art style it isn’t everyone’s “cup of tea”, but I love it – and we need more artists and creators like him.
The show’s official premiere will be on Monday, April 5th. In the meantime, if you haven’t already, visit Pen Ward’s website, read the production blog, watch the original pilot and check out the cool tribute art by The Autumn Society.
The artists behind Tim Burton’s new Alice In Wonderland film will make a one-time appearance for a panel, Q&A and book signing this Saturday afternoon at Alhambra’s Gallery Nucleus.
The event will begin at 2pm and run all afternoon, Saturday March 13th. Nucleus will also be the first and only location for you to purchase a copy of the ‘Art of’ book, Alice in Wonderland: A Visual Companion, before its release date (March 30th). Speakers in attendance will include character designer Michael Kutsche and concept artists Dylan Cole, Scott Lukowski, Steven Messing, Daphne Yap, Christian Gossett and Jim McPherson. For more information, visit the Nucleus Gallery website.
Direct from District 9:
Amid brought me a gift from his recent trip to Singapore – a package of these Tom & Jerry Prawn Crackers. Hey, don’t knock it if you haven’t tried it… but I don’t see this coming to the Whole Foods Market anytime soon.
How do I love thee, let me count the ways: this isn’t so much a book review, but a book RAVE. Craig Yoe’s massive new tome reprinting the comic book art of Milt Gross (IDW/Yoe Books, 354 color pages, $39.99 or cheaper on Amazon) is an absolute must-have by everyone reading this blog. Buy it now. Gross was the dean of funny cartoonists, influencing everyone from Bob Clampett and Harvey Kurtzman to R. Crumb. He pioneered what we call today the graphic novel, worked in animation, wrote songs, coined slang, had a long running newspaper comic strip and directed two insane MGM cartoons in the 1930s (I’ve embed one of them, Jitterbug Follies (1939), below).
Yoe’s new book reprints Gross’ rarely seen comic pages for Picture News magazine and for the American Comics Group (ACG) from the 1940s. He precedes this with a 38 page detailed history of Milt Gross, loaded with rare cartoons, advertisements, still photos and frame grabs that are worth the price of the book alone. A Foreword by Herb Gross (Milt’s son) and a clever “Fold-INtroduction” by Mad’s Al Jaffee set the zany tone. The Complete Milt Gross Comic Books and Life Story; To paraphrase both Jack Kirby and Milt Gross: Dun’t Esk, just buy it!
I had a wonderful time in the City of Orange yesterday, guest speaking at Bill Kroyer’s class at Dodge College of Film and Media Arts. While there, I visited a few antique shops in town and came across this vintage public school reader, In The City and On The Farm (1940). What caught my attention in the book was a 3-page chapter (thumbnails below, click to enlarge) about going to the movies to see a cartoon – Papa Penguin. It’s rare enough to find any acknowledgement of animated films in American culture at the time, even rarer in an elementary school text book. And this one sort-of predicts the spate of Penguin films to come (Happy Feet, Surf’s Up, et al). The third page even illustrates, via film strip, how the cartoon tells its story through pictures – just like a storyboard. I bought it (cheap) and decided to share – enjoy!
The Los Angeles Times is reporting that the title Tangled isn’t the only thing being changed about Disney’s production of Rapunzel – it’s repositioning the film to attract a male audience.
From the article:
The makeover of “Rapunzel” is more than cosmetic. Disney can ill afford a moniker that alienates half the potential audience, young boys, who are needed to make an expensive family film a success.
Concluding it had too many animated girl flicks in its lineup, Disney has shelved its long-gestating project “The Snow Queen,” based on the Hans Christian Andersen story. “Snow Queen” would have marked the company’s fourth animated film with a female protagonist, following “The Princess and the Frog,” “Tangled” and Pixar’s forthcoming “The Bear and the Bow,” directed by Pixar’s first female director, Brenda Chapman, and starring Reese Witherspoon.
Since the release of its first movie, “Toy Story,” in 1995, Pixar has uniformly featured male leads in its films, including Buzz and Woody; Mr. Incredible, the middle-aged superhero in “The Incredibles”; and Lightning McQueen, the stock-car star of “Cars.”
Disney’s Tangled open on December 10th, 2010. Below is the latest teaser:
Quick, watch the first five minutes of this
before the Academy removes it from You Tube Oops, too late. Watch the clip here.
(Thanks, Matthew Gaastra)
The Oscar winners were announced tonight.
UP won two Academy Awards: It won for BEST ANIMATED FEATURE FILM and Michael Giacchino won an Oscar for its musical score.
The winner for BEST ANIMATED SHORT was LOGORAMA.
The highlight of the broadcast was a segment featuring lead characters from all five nominated animated films, Coraline, Mr. Fox, Louis the Alligator (from Princess and the Frog), Aisling (from Kells) and Carl & Dug from Up talking about being nominated. We’ll post this as soon as it’s online. In the meantime, congratulations to Pete Docter and Pixar – and let the talkback begin!
(illustration above by Oscar Grillo)
Speaking of the Oscars (isn’t everyone?), when I attended the Academy Feature Animation Symposium the other night I briefly met Bevin Carnes, winner of the 2007 Student Academy Award for Animation (Silver Medal). She made her prize winning film, A Leg Up, while a student at Ringling College of Art and Design in Sarasota, Florida, and recently posted it on You Tube. Since winning the award, Carnes has since worked for Rhythm and Hues, Disney (on Bolt) and at Blue Sky, as an animator on Ice Age: Dawn of the Dinisaurs. Here’s her film:
Writer, director, designer and modeler Heiko van der Scherm took three years to produce his CG short film Descendants. Whoopi Goldberg lent her voice to the project, which has been playing film festivals and winning awards all over the world.
I don’t know much about the new Pink Panther and Pals series – which premieres this Sunday March 7th on Cartoon Network at 7:30am Eastern (4:30am Pacific) – except I like the redesigns of the Ant and the Aardvark. The new show features three six-minute cartoons – two featuring a “teenage Pink Panther” and one Ant and Aardvark short in the middle. 26 episodes were produced by MGM Animation. There’s no animation online, but here’s a bunch of still images to tide you over till Sunday.
(Thanks, Bob Spang)
Another live action filmmaker tries his hand at directing an animated film. Zack Snyder (Watchmen, 300) brings Kathryn Lasky’s Guardians of Ga’hoole novels to the screen this fall when Warner Bros. releases Legend of the Guardians on September 24th. Animal Logic (Happy Feet) in Australia produced the animation. Here’s the trailer:
(Thanks, Iain Robbins)
This one is quite delightful. It’s a new stop-motion music video for Latin American Grammy winners, Jesse & Joy. The video was conceived and directed by Carlos Lopez Estrada (currently a student at Chapman University’s Dodge College) and was shot over a month in a house-turned studio in L.A. by a dedicated (“and painfully underpaid”) group of young artists for Warner Music Mexico. It’s made up of almost 3,000 still photographs with no post effects, featuring characters actually made of edible custom-made cookies. Cameron Clark, the director of animation, explains the process:
“I pre-animated the motion for every shot with After Effects and then used a combination of Dragon Stop Motion, a projector, and a small team of animators to basically trace the motion that I had created digitally. That way we got the smooth motion of digital animation with the charm of physical stop motion.”
A very cool making-of piece is posted here. But watch the video first: