Pictoplasma Animation Festival

Pictoplasma is holding their first-ever animation festival, CHARACTERS IN MOTION, on November 25-26 in Berlin. It is being billed as a “two-day celebration of contemporary character design in animation, music visuals and motion graphics.” Besides screeenings, there will also be lectures by Shynola and Fons Schiedon. Cartoon Brew friend Harald Siepermann gave an enthusiastic review of last year’s 1st Pictoplasma Conference On Contemporary Character Design & Art so this animation-specific event may also be worth checking out.

50s Design Book and Blast #9 Update

Clark's chewing gum storyboard by Ray Favata

Here’s a quick update on the two biggest projects that I’m dealing with at the moment. First, the latest on the Chronicle book. It’s now officially titled CARTOON MODERN: STYLE AND DESIGN IN 1950S ANIMATION and I’m happy to report that it’ll be wrapped up within the next month or so. The page count continues to climb, and at the moment it’s looking like the final total will be 200 pages. Even with this many pages, it’s been a complex and challenging assignment for my book designer to fit in all the artwork that I want to have included in it. But he’s managing to do a superb job of packing in the visuals, while keeping the art at a decent size and giving the page layouts room to breath. Our goal is to make sure there’s no superfluous pages in this book; every page is going to have a rare piece of art or photo. I can’t wait to share the results with everybody in April ’06.

Also, this week, I started working full-time on the long-delayed ANIMATION BLAST #9, in hopes of meeting the new December release date. I’m incredibly excited about starting up again on this issue and finally finishing it up. I’m also really excited to announce a major new article in this issue that is written by MONSTERS INC. director Pete Docter. The article gives some long-overdue credit to the amazing (and amazingly forgotten) Disney animator John Sibley (1912-1973), who is best known for his animation on the Goofy shorts, including HOW TO RIDE A HORSE, TIGER TROUBLE and HOCKEY HOMICIDE. Pete’s a big fan of his work and he spent a long time tracking down and interviewing Sibley’s colleagues and researching Sibley’s animation style. The piece he’s written is nothing short of incredible, and sheds all sorts of new light on Sibley’s life and work.

One piece that will no longer be in BLAST 9 is “Buy! Buy!: A History of Studios From The Golden Age of TV Commercials.” I’d started this piece long before I started working on the 50s design book, and what ended up happening is that I incorporated most of the article’s research into the book. It seems kind of redundant to reprint the same info in the BLAST now, so I’m giving the space over to more original research like the Sibley piece. I’ll have an updated contents listing on the BLAST #9 preview page soon.

Thanks again so much for everybody’s patience on this issue. I’m going to try my best to make this the strongest issue of the BLAST yet and not let anybody down.

ASIFA’S ANIMATION ARCHIVE

tonypencil.jpg

Steve Worth has been working like gangbusters to get Asifa-Hollywood’s Animation Archive up and running. The Animation Center at 2114 W. Burbank Blvd. is open to the public and Steve has started a blog to report on its progress, the fund raising status and new archive acquisitions. Steve is also seeking volunteers to help create a massive online art archive.

Now that we have the network and scanner up and operating at the ASIFA-Hollywood Animation Archive, we are ready to begin digitizing material for the archives. If you are available any time on Tuesdays or Thursdays between 1pm and 9pm, drop an email to me at [email protected] and let me know when I can expect you. I’ll have material ready for you to help out with. The more participation we get from volunteers, the faster the Archive will reach “critical mass”… the point where it begins to be functional to researchers. Every bit of help moves us closer.

I’ve seen what Steve is up to first-hand. It’s a huge job, and extremely worthwhile. Preserving this material – and making it available to animators, historians and everyone else – will inspire present and future artists, give insight into the process and be a lasting resource we can all appreciate. If you live in the area, please check it out. Or better yet, help Steve continue his work.

Wild Brain in the SF WEEKLY

“After struggling uphill in the difficult yet potentially profitable world of computer animation films, Wild Brain is on the cusp of success.” That’s the headline of the cover story from this week’s SAN FRANCISCO WEEKLY, which takes an in-depth look at Bay Area animation studio Wild Brain. Haven’t had a moment to check out the story yet, but it looks like it could be an interesting read.

(Thanks, Andy Wetmore)

Chris Savino’s Adventures In Milk

Adventures in Milk

Chris Savino, who worked on the original REN & STIMPY and has subsequently produced THE POWERPUFF GIRLS, directed DEXTER’S LABORATORY and co-directed THE FLINTSTONES ON THE ROCKS, is currently working on a live-action short called ADVENTURES IN MILK. He’s started a blog to document the production of the film HERE. Of particular interest to animation fans: his film will also include an animated faux-cereal commercial done in a 60s-ish Jay Ward style. Chris is currently discussing the production of this animated portion in his journal. As a sidenote, here’s a link to an interesting 1992 interview with Savino right after he’d finished working on REN & STIMPY.

SIGGRAPH’s Electronic Theater in Montreal

SIGGRAPH Electronic Theater

Here’s a chance to see some quality CG in Montreal. The SIGGRAPH 2005 Electronic Theater will play this Thursday, October 13, at the Society for Arts & Technology (1195 St. Laurent Blvd.). Screening starts at 6pm and admission is free. Details are HERE. Following the screening will be:

…a very special SAT[MixSessions] presentation, in which DJs and VJs will digitally abduct and reconstruct the content of the Electronic Theater, mixed with live 2D and 3D imagery, before your very eyes! This session will be conducted by DJ Mr. Knobs, DJ Le Monochrome, DJ Quebec Connection, VJ jocool, VJ Ladyroll and a very special guest: MarXel 3D.


(Thanks, Tamu)

HE-MAN DVD CONTEST

hemandvd1.jpgCONTEST OVER!Okay He-Man fans – this one was for you. This morning, the first two readers who sent in the correct answers to the question below won the complete Season One HE-MAN AND THE MASTERS OF THE UNIVERSE dvd box set (containing 33 episodes, two documentaries, scripts, storyboards, collectible cards and more). Directors Tom Sito and Tom Tataranowicz autographed these sets exclusively for our Cartoon Brew winners. In fact, Tom T. came up with the trivia question himself:

The Question: What was the name of Orko’s girl-friend?
The Answer: Dre-elle.

Our winners were Evan Laundrie of Anaheim, CA and Liam Harrison of New York, NY won the prizes. Thanks to all who entered! I didn’t know there were so many He-Man fans reading this blog. It scares me.

Tartakovsky Moving Into Features (Again)

Genndy TartakovskyBig buzzworthy story here: VARIETY reports that Genndy Tartakovsky (creator, SAMURAI JACK, DEXTER’S LABORATORY; director, STAR WARS: CLONE WARS) has left Cartoon Network and become the creative president of a new San Francisco fx studio called Orphanage Animation Studios. “After 14 years in TV, I was burned out and wanted to express longer stories and experience them with an audience,” Tartakovsky tells VARIETY. “We’ll do family comedies, but we also really want to push action-adventure beyond where it has been.”

The piece says that Orphanage is planning to do animated features for a hefty pricetag of $50-75 million apiece, which frankly, at least to me, already sounds like a troubling sign. At those prices, they’ll likely be inclined to play it safe and emulate the formulas of other successful studios, instead of having the freedom to take artistic risks and attempt breaking new animation ground. The studio aims to release its first film in 2008, followed with a new film every 18 months thereafter. The VARIETY piece suggests that, “Orphanage Animation is being built on a model similar to Pixar, with execs hoping Tartakovsky will be the John Lasseter figure who will helm the first film or two and then oversee a team of inhouse creative talent developing future pics.” Best of luck to Genndy, and here’s to hoping a good new studio evolves out of this.*

Here’s a link to the complete VARIETY article posted at the Drawing Board.

*It’s worth noting that Orphanage isn’t exactly a new studio, but still a young outfit. It was founded in 1999 by three ILM veterans, and they’ve provided vfx for SIN CITY, HELLBOY and THE DAY AFTER TOMORROW, among other films. They’ve yet to release an original production, but they recently began production on their first feature, GRIFFIN AND PHOENIX, a live-action romantic comedy.

Pyrats at Gobelins

PYRATES

A group of French animation students at the school Gobelins have started a blog documenting the production of their animated short PYRATS, which once completed, will be used as a signal film for next year’s Annecy Animation Festival. Different teams of Gobelins animation students produce brilliant signal films for the festival every year; we’ve mentioned some of those shorts here before, like LE BUILDING and SUPER TIBETAN RACER. To view all the Annecy signal films produced at the school between 2002-2005 (as well as another recent student short, the very funny LIONEL) check out this gallery page at the Gobelins school website.

SMARTER THAN THE AVERAGE

podcast2.jpgJulian Goford and Jonathan Sloman inform us that at 7pm GMT on Wednesday the 19th of October, Resonance 104.4FM (London’s first radio art station) will broadcast Smarter Than The Average, an hour-long program on cartoons, comics and comedy. The show takes the form of a live studio discussion interspersed with numerous rare audio clips, many previously unbroadcast, some even banned. Listeners not in London will be able to hear the show online via the Resonance website.Here’s some of the stuff they promise to transmit:

• One of Warner Brothers’ wartime Private Snafu cartoons, designed to be shown only to the Army.
• The soundtrack to Coal Black And De Sebben Dwarfs.
• Extracts from the presskit for Yellow Submarine’s 1999 reissue, including interviews with The Beatles, Heinz Edelmann, Paul Angelis and Roger McGough.
• Don Messick and June Foray ad-libbing a dirty joke during a voiceover session.
• A tribute to Frank Gorshin (1933 – 2005).
• Billy West explaining how he creates the voices of Ren and Stimpy.
• Rolf Harris interviews Friz Freleng and Chuck Jones.

Sounds like fun.

A HE-MAN CONTEST

hemandvd2.jpgHere’s something I never thought I’d post (and Amid will probably cringe when he sees it): a picture of Filmation’s HE-MAN. The complete Season One DVD collection comes out next week – and I have a chance to offer our readers a chance to win a set this week. Yes, it’s time for one of our zany trivia contests.Tuesday morning around 9 am Pacific (noon on the east coast) I will post a quickie question for several minutes. First two people to send in the correct answer will win. The question will be a relatively easy one about HE-MAN. Please, only enter if you REALLY want to win the HE-MAN collection. My Hornswiggle colleagues at G7 Animation, Tom Tataranowicz and Tom Sito are both veteran directors on this series and I think I can get them to autograph the boxes.

Why Europeans Teach Animation Better

Overtime

A lot of people over the past few years (myself included) have been highly impressed with student animation films coming out of European schools such as Les Gobelins and Supinfocom. We’ve even mentioned a number of the films on the Brew including OVER TIME, LE BUILDING and SUPER TIBETAN RACER. This interesting AWN article by Christopher Panzner attempts to explain why the films produced by European students are so damn good. Want to know the most impressive figure cited in the article? Cost of one year’s tuition at Gobelins: US$2,200. That should make a few CalArts and RISD students weep over the weekend.

War Photographer

War Photographer

Cold Hard Flash liked this music video.
Drawn liked this music video.
And now it’s my turn to like it.

“War Photographer” is a Flash animated music video directed by Joel Trussell for musician Jason Forrest. The design, color and graphics are all superb. Little surprise considering Joel’s list of artistic influences. The video is smartly designed, and serves as a great example of how to achieve a dynamic effect with a relatively limited amount of animation.

Dali and Disney in PRINT

DESTINOThe new issue of PRINT (Sept/Oct) has a good piece by John Canemaker about the legendary collaboration between Walt Disney and Salvador Dali on the short film DESTINO. He explores the history of the project and how it ultimately led to the 2003 version directed by Dominique Monfery. Canemaker also offers the following food for thought:

The making of DESTINO is a reminder of how daring Walt Disney was in initiating and exploring this film, which is so unlike any he ever produced. It also underlines how comparatively timid today’s mainstream animation producers are, and how animation’s unlimited potential for expression remains restricted to children’s fare.

This issue of PRINT also has a piece on the young Kansas City motion graphics/animation studio MK12 (their A HISTORY OF AMERICA short looks promising) as well as a profile of JibJab’s Gregg and Evan Spiridellis, the duo behind the cult Flash cartoon of 2004, THIS LAND.

Book Illustration Done Right

Aurie Battaglia

Illustrator Eric Sturdevant has a really excellent collection of scans of children’s illustrated books on Flickr. There is gorgeous art by a lot of mid-century illustration greats, including a number of artists who worked in animation, such as Aurie Battaglia, Martin Provensen and Mel Crawford. For more of this type of art, check out Ward Jenkins’s Flickr group, The Retro Kid, with a constantly updated stream of inspiring children’s book art posted by lots of different Flickr users.

Devin Crane Art Show in LA

Devin Crane

Devin Crane, currently a vis dev artist at DreamWorks Feature Animation, is having a one-man show at Gallery Nineteen Eighty Eight (7020 Melrose Ave., corner of Melrose & La Brea). The show is called “Illusion Factory: Fairy Tales from Hollywood” and the idea behind the paintings is to “reinvent traditional fairy tales and classic book titles, while commenting on the superficiality and shallowness of modern day Hollywood.” I’m not familiar with Devin’s work, but if the rest of his paintings are as cool as the “Snow Queen” one they’re using to promote the show, then it should be worth checking out. Opening reception is this Sunday, October 9, from 6-9pm. The show only runs for one week, closing on October 16, so you better drop by quick. More details at Gallery1988.com.
(Thanks, Jon Gibson)

More Praise for Wallace & Gromit

Former ANIMATO! editor Harry McCracken calls WALLACE AND GROMIT: THE CURSE OF THE WERE-RABBIT “the most enjoyable non-Pixar non-Japanese animated feature I’ve seen since Lilo and Stitch.” But Harry also has some very legitimate concerns about where Aardman goes from here, and wonders whether the studio is capable of “reaching deeper into our emotions, in the way that the major characters in the best Disney and Pixar features do.” Read McCracken’s thoughts HERE.

Ottawa Trip Reports

I’m still working on my own little write-up about the Ottawa Animation Festival, but there’s a whole lot of festival coverage being posted around the blogosphere. Here we go:

Primal Screen director Ward Jenkins has posted part one of his Ottawa coverage. Stay tuned to the Ward-o-Matic for further installments. Ward also has a nice Flickr photoset from Ottawa.

Tom Neely, director of the delightful rubber hose-styled Muffs music video ‘Don’t Pick On Me,’ has a trip report on his I Will Destroy You blog.

Bill Robinson, an animation student at RIT, also has a trip report HERE.

Roque “The Rogue” Ballesteros, whose exquisitely designed short film MOLE IN THE CITY took home the award for best Internet cartoon, has the first part of his Ottawa coverage posted on the Ghostbot blog.

Jeff Hasulo is doing a number of updates on his blog, and he also has a Flickr photoset. Jeff writes about the Michael Dudok de Wit masterclass, which was one of the festival highlights for me as well. Talking about animation is never easy, but Dudok de Wit eloquently verbalized his thoughts about creativity and art for two whole hours. And I could have easily listened to him speak for two more. Check out Michael Dudok de Wit’s site HERE.

Ken Priebe, a filmmaker who works at VanArts, has a five-part festival report on his blog.

Don’t be fooled by the photo gallery of sixteen-year-old Lev Polyakov, who won the elementary/secondary film award for his film PIPER THE GOAT AND THE PEACE PIPE. He looks harmless enough, but give him an award, and Holy Christ, you better watch out.