CUTTING EDGE CLASSICS

cutting edge classicsShout Factory has released a second set of animated shorts from the Spike & Mike Festival archives, SPIKE & MIKE CUTTING EDGE CLASSICS.This is an outstanding collection of 18 independent shorts – not the “sick & twisted” variety, but interesting, entertaining films by the current crop of leading independent talents – including Adam Elliot, Patrick Smith and Marilyn Zornado. My favorites included in this set are STUBBLE TROUBLE (Calabash Studio), THE SNOWMAN (Lane Nakamura) and MONS THE CAT (Pjotr Sapegin)… this is great stuff – and if you’ve been putting off buying these short collections, this one is a great starter collection.Shout Factory wants to encourage BREW readers to take a chance and has offered us five copies to give away. I couldn’t resist the oppportunity to allow some of our readers a chance to get this dvd for free… so I guess I’ll have to create a contest to give everyone a chance. I’ll post a trivia question on Thursday (7/1) at (roughly) 9am Pacific time. First five correct answers will win the CUTTING EDGE CLASSICS dvd.

Arthur De Pins

Arthur de PinsHere’s a name to start watching closely. I mentioned in my Annecy Festival report a few weeks back that De Pins’ funny and stylish black-and-white short THE CRAB REVOLUTION had won the Audience Prize at Annecy. Then a couple days ago at the Cartoon Retro forum, somebody posted a link to samples of Arthur’s magazine illustrations and Flash animation which made me an even bigger fan of his work. And now, the cherry on top is that I just realized he also made the student film GERALDINE, which I’d rather enjoyed when I first saw it a few years ago. At the Metronomic Productions website, you can watch GERALDINE, THE CRAB REVOLUTION and a third terrific short (produced in Flash) that De Pins recently directed called L’EAU DE ROSES. Click on the “Shorts” category to access the films.

MY LITTLE WORLD Presentation

My Little WorldTomorrow evening, June 30th, the Animation Co-op will present the program “Mike Nguyen on MY LITTLE WORLD.” Animator/director Nguyen will speak about the making of his much anticipated independent animated feature MY LITTLE WORLD, and discuss his interest in hand-drawn animation as a form of expression. The presentation will include clips from the upcoming film as well as a Q-&-A session. Admission is free and the talk will begin at 7:30 pm at the Glendale Central Library. RSVP at the AnimationCoop.org.

The 2D Expo: Flash Panel Wrap-up

I was planning to post a summary of the Flash & TV Animation panel that I moderated a few days ago at ASIFA-Hollywood’s 2D Expo, but panelists Lili Chin and Eddie Mort beat me to it with this extensive write-up posted on their fwak! blog. Going into the panel, I wasn’t sure what sort of a conclusion (if any) we’d reach with the discussion, but the panelists – the aforementioned Chin and Mort, along with Gabe Swarr, Bob Harper and Jorge Gutierrez – went a long way towards convincing me and the audience that Flash is the ideal production system for hand-drawn “cartoony” TV series. The biggest benefit of Flash, constantly stressed by the various panelists, is that it offers animation creators an unprecedented amount of control over their finished product and allows them to see their actual drawings reach the screen. Craig McCracken supported this theory in a recent ANIMATION MAGAZINE interview about his new Flash series for Cartoon Network: “You don’t have to worry about stuff being off-model. The animation is all going to look dead on, and you don’t have to worry about the layout process.”

Another conclusion that we reached is that it’s financially feasible to produce a Flash series entirely in the United States. While in the first couple seasons, a Flash production may cost as much as a TV series produced overseas, each subsequent season will decrease in cost as libraries are built up in Flash. This is something that never happens in the traditional TV production process, even on a show like THE SIMPSONS which is now in its umpteenth season. Also, with libraries built up of designs, background art and basic movements, the tedious grunt work is already completed thus allowing the animators to focus on creating interesting performances with the main characters. Even in the scenario that a show is outsourced to other countries, the artists in LA still maintain an advantage because rather than having to go through the laborious process of calling for retakes, Flash animation files can be fixed from any location with a minimum of hassles. For example, MUCHA LUCHA has an in-house animation crew in Los Angeles devoted to tweaking and finessing the animation that comes back from overseas. It remains to be seen how widespread the use of Flash will become in the LA animation industry, but it’s undeniable that Flash is responsible for one of the biggest shake-ups in the TV animation industry in recent times and it’ll be fascinating to watch how the union of Flash and TV animation will play out over the next few years.

Also I want to briefly mention how excited I was at the results of the 2D Expo, organized by ASIFA-Hollywood board member (and fellow Brew partner) Jerry Beck. I think the results went far and beyond anybody’s wildest expectations and I can see this event maturing into something truly special over the coming years. My immediate suggestions for next year are to create a larger exhibitor/networking area and to have more specific how-to panels and talks related to specialized aspects of animation production. All in all though, I thought it was a great success and it seems the majority of people who attended agree that it was a fine event. The most elegant and thoughtful write-up I’ve read about the event so far is courtesy of animation artist Ronnie del Carmen, who made the trek all the way from Pixar along with fellow filmmaker Jim Capobianco.

2-D EXPO WAS GREAT!

Just walked in the door from all day at Asifa-Hollywood’s first 2-D Expo.It was a blast – and for us, a big success. I just want to thank all the panelists and exhibitors who showed up – Stuart Ng, Steven Silver, Bob Harper, Eric Goldberg, John Andrews, Mr. Lawrence, Scott Shaw, Mark Kausler, Milton Knight, The Animation Show, Bert Klein, Jim Capobianco, Raul Garcia, Rita Street, Tom Sito, Carole Crowe, Eric Holman to name but a few… there are too many people to thank. Special kudos to Amid Amidi and Antran Manoogian, as well as all our volunteers, who deserve our thanks for a spectacular day.

2-D EXPO! 2-D EXPO! 2-D EXPO!

gabe drew thisThis is a re-post and update on the Asifa-Hollywood 2-D EXPO which Amid and I will participate in tomorrow, Saturday, June 26th, in Burbank.Please come! The 2-D EXPO is a day full of panels, screenings and discussions on the current state of traditional (aka hand drawn) animation. Confirmed panelists & guests include Eric Goldberg, Shane Glines, Raul Garcia, Mark Kausler, Ronnie Del Carmen, Bert Klein, Tom Sito, Jim Capobianco, Eddie Mort, Lili Chin, Jorge Gutierrez and Gabe Swarr. Amid Amidi, Rita Street, Tom Sito and I will be moderating panels. Panels cover topics such as “2-D THE NEXT DIRECTION”, “FLASH ANIMATION”, “DOING IT YOURSELF”, “DISTRIBUTION” and “NETWORK PROGRAMMING”.In the evening we will be presenting a program of UNSOLD PILOTS with Scott Shaw!, Micah Wright, Mr. Lawrence, Rusty Mills and others. There will be a networking area with a few exhibitors, including bookseller Stuart Ng, animators Stephen Silver and Bob Harper, Digicel, The Animation Show and an Asifa booth which will take consignments, selling artists sketch books and artist materials.All of this starts at 9am on Saturday June 26, 2004 – and keeps going on till 9:00pm on the Burbank campus of WOODBURY UNIVERSITY 7500 Glenoaks Blvd. (Buena Vista & Glenoaks). Admission prices for the panels vary: Asifa Members $20. Students $15., Networking area is free admission.Join us! It’s going to be fun. Please check the Asifa website for more info. If you’d like to help us out, be on panels, sell sketch books or volunteer your time to this event, contact me directly [email protected] and I’ll point you in the right direction.

Annecy Snapshots

Amid in AnnecyWow, here’s a HUGE LOAD OF PHOTOS from this year’s Annecy Animation Festival. They’re courtesy of Joseph Gilland, a fine chap who I hung out with at the festival. He’s a veteran animation artist who was visual FX supervisor on LILO & STITCH and now heads the 2D and digital character animation programs at Vancouver Film School. His festival photos cover everything from the town of Annecy to the people, the parties and the final awards ceremony. I took only a fraction of the photos that Joe took, and I’m too lazy to post them, but here’s a shot of me sandwiched between two superb talents – Peter de Sève (left) and Bill Plympton.

GO! SPEED RACER GO!

Excerpted from today’s Daily Variety:plane crazy

“DodgeBall” star Vince Vaughn has gotten Warner Bros. revved up again about “Speed Racer,” a live- action adaptation of the Japanese cartoon series. Project casts him in the role of Racer X.”Speed Racer” has remained a viable title at the studio, despite a decade of false starts. The pic almost got to the starting line with such directors as Gus Van Sant, Hype Williams, Alfonso Cuaron and Julien Temple — the latter of whom had Johnny Depp ready to star before the vehicle stalled because the budget was too high. Vaughn revived it by pitching a streamlined take that concentrated more on character and a family angle than budget-busting race scenes.
“I’ve been a fan of the show since I was a kid and I always liked the theme of the protective older brother who can’t reveal his identity,” Vaughn said.

Worth a Read

Two interesting articles at AWN.com. First, a very useful SURVEY by Chris Robinson that asks independent animators a simple, yet crucial, question: “Where do you find the money to finance your films?” This should really become a regular series on AWN or somewhere else. Next is an ARTICLE by Deanna Morse, who was on the selection committee of this year’s recently concluded Zagreb Animafest (incidentally, another animation festival which I attended while in Europe and that I’ll write about shortly). She shares her experience of having to go through 1,500 entries in two weeks to come up with the 245 films which screened at the festival. One of the most interesting parts of the piece is where Deanna highlights “common tendencies” in the festival entries and creates a list of the recurring themes and characters in the short films that she saw.

Garfield Wants You To Live

Will Campbell has a funny story at blogging.la about working with the late Lorenzo Music, the animated voice of GARFIELD, at a suicide prevention center in the late-’80s. He presents a compelling case for why voice actors might want to think twice before volunteering as crisis counselors. [UPDATE: Mark Evanier, who produced the GARFIELD TV series, confirms and adds to the story about Lorenzo’s volunteer work at NewsfromME.com]

Hitler, Robots and Stop Motion

Last time I saw Seamus Walsh and Mark Caballero, genius founders of stop motion studio Screen Novelties International, they were telling me about this wacky project they’re working on that involved producing stop motion tests of Hitler, Mussolini and robots. I didn’t quite know what to make of it, but it sounded intriguing to say the least. Now Harry Knowles at Aint It Cool News has a big PREVIEW of the project-in-development, called AUTOMATONS, from the perspective of the writers: Ed Solomon (MEN IN BLACK, LEVITY) and Chris Matheson (BILL & TED’S EXCELLENT ADVENTURE). And if it’s anything like Harry is saying it’s going to be, this could be one of the most outlandish and subversive animated features in years. You can bet I’ll be bugging Seamus and Mark to show me some of the animation tests for this project next time I see them.

CARTOONS AT CINEFORUM

Reg Hartt is a controversial figure on the film scene in Toronto. I’ve never met the man myself, but I’ve been following his enthusiastic writing on classic cartoons and admired his numerous local film screenings from afar. During the past 27 years he’s earned a reputation as one of the foremost authorities on film history in Canada.Right now he operates the Cineforum out of his living room. Before his shows start, he stands up and lectures, sharing his knowledge with the audience. Here are his upcoming toon shows:red hotSaturday, June 26 at 7pm: BEST OF THE SEX & VIOLENCE CARTOON FESTIVAL: You will be amazed how much we missed as kids! Highlights: Betty Boop, Tom And Jerry, Bugs Bunny, Elmer Fudd $20. $10 under 24.Saturday, July 3, 10, 17. at 7pm: JAZZ IN HOLLYWOOD CARTOONS FILM FESTIVAL. This two hour retrospective includes:MINNIE THE MOOCHER (1931) SWING WEDDING (1936) SNOW WHITE (1932) Max & Dave Fleischer; COAL BLACK AND DE SEBBEN DWARFS (1942), BOOK REVUE (1946), RED HOT RIDING HOOD (1941) CLEAN PASTURES (1936) GOLDILOCKS AND THE JIVING BEARS (1945), SCRUB ME MAMA WITH A BOOGIE BEAT (1940), THE BOOGIE WOOGIE MAN (1944) and JUNGLE JIVE (1945), THE PIED PIPER OF BASIN STREET (1945), RHAPSODY RABBIT (1947), and TIN PAN ALLEY CATS (1943).THE REG HARTT FILM SCHOOL AT THE CINEFORUM, 463 Bathurst Below CollegeToronto, Ontario Canada. 416-603-6643. The Cineforum is private. Membership is required for admission. (Membership is free on request). Members are invited to bring their own food and drink. And wipe your feet on the mat before you enter.

Must-Have McLaren

Norman McLarenWhat is surely to be one of the must-have animation DVD releases of next year. In early-2005, the National Film Board of Canada will release a seven-DVD boxed set of the complete works of Norman McLaren. The comprehensive set will also include drawings, tests, unfinished projects, archival materials and interviews with friends and colleagues. The NFB site about the DVD is HERE.

Top Cat Request

arnold stangMark Evanier has posted an important public appeal on his website about a vital issue that affects every American citizen: the upcoming DVD release of Hanna Barbera TOP CAT cartoons. Now personally, I could care less about TOP CAT on DVD, or anywhere else for that matter, but the historian in me says it’d be nice if somebody could help Mark make the set accurate from a historical standpoint. Help him out if you can.JERRY BECK ADDS: To clarify, Warner Home Video is looking for 16mm prints of TOP CAT with the original network end titles. These prints, which are on the film collectors market, are usually in black & white with all ABC network commercials. Even if you have a bootleg video dub of these network prints, please contact us. We can use the credit information. We are also looking for similar network prints of the second season of THE FLINTSTONES.

PLUGS! PLUGS! PLUGS!

tim burtonWhat kind of person reads CARTOON BREW?Robin Joseph, a struggling cartoonist at Sheridan College in Ontario, does. That’s Robin’s charicature of Tim Burton (at right). Robin’s website Patch Of Orange is filled with more nifty artwork.Marc Spess is another dedicated reader who runs a stop-motion website www.animateclay.com and has a film in production, ZOMBIE PIRATE which he’s been working on in his spare time.Brian Kolm is another young artist with a website and he volunteers at the very cool Comic Art Museum in San Francisco. Check it out. We get many requests by various people, companies and events for a plug on Cartoon Brew. We are flattered, but that’s not how this blog usually works – until today. I’m not normally a pushover, but every once in a while, I feel generous. Today was that day.End of Plugs.

2-D EXPO

gabe drew thisThis Saturday, June 26th, in Burbank, Asifa-Hollywood is hosting a 2-D EXPO.I will be plugging this a few times this week with re-posts and updates – and I urge my readers to spread the word.The 2-D EXPO is a full day of panels, screenings and discussions on the current state of traditional (aka hand drawn) animation. Confirmed panelists & guests include Eric Goldberg, Shane Glines, Raul Garcia, Mark Kausler, Mike Nguyen, Bert Klein, Tom Sito, Eddie Mort, Lili Chin, Jorge Gutuerrez and Gabe Swarr. Amid Amidi, Rita Street, Tom Sito and I will be moderating panels. Panels cover topics such as “2-D THE NEXT DIRECTION”, “FLASH ANIMATION”, “DOING IT YOURSELF”, “DISTRIBUTION” and “NETWORK PROGRAMMING”.In the evening we will be presenting a program of UNSOLD PILOTS. There will be a networking area with a few exhibitors, including bookseller Stuart Ng, animators Stephen Silver and Bob Harper, The Animation Show and an Asifa booth which will take consignments, selling artists sketch books and artist materials.All of this starts at 9am on Saturday June 26, 2004- and keeps going on till 10:00pm on the Burbank campus of WOODBURY UNIVERSITY 7500 Glenoaks Blvd. (Buena Vista & Glenoaks). Admission prices for the panels vary: Asifa Members $20. Students $15., Networking area is free admission.Join us! It’s going to be fun. Please check the Asifa website for more info. If you’d like to help us out, be on panels, sell sketch books or volunteer your time to this event, contact me directly [email protected] and I’ll point you in the right direction.

LOONEY TUNES V.2

I’m bound by a confidentiality agreement not to discuss the contents of the LOONEY TUNES GOLDEN COLLECTION volume 2 (due out in November).However, a list of the cartoon contents has leaked to the internet (see here) and the buzz on several message boards is very enthusiastic.
I won’t confirm or deny the contents just yet, but I will tell you one thing: wait’ll you see the list of bonus materials!

BOZETTO’S OLYMPICS

bozzettoAnimation legend Bruno Bozzetto has posted a hilarious series of flash animations in honor of the Olympics here.These little vignettes get progressively more funny and subversive as they go along – and are done in a stick figure style, not unlike Don HertzFeldt. But clearly the gags and timing are Bozzetto’s – and shows why this man is still one of animations greatest talents.

MEET AL BRODAX AND FRED LADD

Two names that helped shape early 1960s TV animation – Al Brodax and Fred Ladd – will both be making live appearences in the Los Angeles area in late August.beatlesAl Brodax will be at the Santa Monica Barnes & Noble on Tuesday, August 24, at 7:30 PM to promote (and sign) his new book Up Periscope Yellow: The Making of the Beatles Yellow Submarine. I’ve been informed that his friend, cult actress Julie Newmar (Catwoman), will be in attendance. Brodax of course, was the czar of 1960s King Features animation and producer in charge of churning out the Popeye, Krazy Kat, Snuffy Smith, Beetle Baily, Cool McCool and Beatles TV cartoons of the era.fred laddFred Ladd will appear at the monthly Asifa-Hollywood meeting on Saturday August 28th at 3:00pm in the AFI Warner Screening Room – where we will screen rare anime pilots, as well as scenes from Astro Boy, Kimba, Gigantor, The Big World Of Little Adam, Pinocchio In Outer Space and discuss his colorizing of classic cartoons. As a bonus, we will screen Fred’s copy of the rarely seen THE SPACE EXPLORERS.August is shaping up to be a feast for fans of classic cartoon kitsch…

DONALD DUCK’S STAR

In case we didn’t mention it before, it’s Donald Duck’s 70th Anniversary this year.The short-tempered duck will be honored with a star on the Hollywood Walk Of Fame next year. He is not, as this article says, the first cartoon character to have a star in cement on Hollywood Blvd., I know at least Bugs Bunny and Mickey Mouse already beat him to it.Donald will also appear on a set of Disney character first class U.S. postage stamps this summer.