Story Boredom is a new blog with lots of great drawings by a bunch of feature storyboard artists. The artists use nicknames so it’s not clear who’s who, but one of the contributors seems to be the co-director of Disney’s HOME ON THE RANGE, John Sanford. Among the cool things worth seeing are these sketches by LILO & STITCH’s Chris Sanders.
Animator/director Norman McCabe passed away last Wednesday at age 94. McCabe had a long and impressive career in animation from animating on Clampett’s PORKY IN WACKYLAND (1938) to directing TV commercials in the 1950s at Swift Productions and TELE-mation to animating on the first Pink Panther short PINK PHINK (1964) to sheet timing on ANIMANIACS and FREAKAZOID. Between 1934 and 1999, McCabe worked at Schlesinger’s, Warner Bros., US Army Air Corps Training Film Unit, MGM, Swift Productions, Five Star Productions, Telemation, Pacific Title, Hanna-Barbera, Filmation, DePatie-Freleng, Ruby-Spears, Filmfair, Marvel and Universal. Services will be held on Tuesday, January 24 at 10am at the Shadow Hills Presbyterian Church (10158 Johanna Ave., Sunland, CA 91040). Here are McCabe’s credits at IMDB and here’s a nice little write-up about Norm at Jaime Weinman’s blog.
UPDATE: Mark Evanier has posted some additional thoughts about McCabe on his blog NewsFromME.
Film buff John McElwee has started a blog, Greenbriar Picture Shows, devoted to his love of old movies. His comments are witty and he illustrates each entry with amazing photos, ad clippings and rare material from his extensive archive. In the last two days he has posted some observations on watching cartoons on TV in the 50s and 60s – illustrated with pages from a rare A.A.P. sales brochure. His first post is about seeing cartoons at the local movie house, his second post is about theatrical cartoons on TV.UPDATE: A third post about the end of theatrical cartoons and serials features some great trade ads from 1957.
For the third week in a row, our film of the week hails from France. Very much an unintended coincidence and we’ll certainly start highlighting films from other countries in the coming weeks. This week’s entry, CLIKCLAK is an excellent new student work from France directed by Aurélie Frechinos, Thomas Wagner and Victor-Emmanuel Moulin. A hi-res English version of the film can be found HERE. Like last week’s film TIM TOM, CLIKCLAK was made at the CG school Supinfocom.
For a computer animated short, CLIKCLAK shows a lot of visual restraint. The two robot characters have no color except for their bright blue and green eyes, and this spare use of color is further accentuated by the film’s plain greyscale backgrounds. The characters communicate not with spoken words, but rather with written words that flash across the screen. The written text is well integrated into the film, and serves as a unique visual element that complements the action, such as when the chandelier shakes or when the robots move up and down on the seesaw. Sound efx are also well designed and add a lot to the mood. Screenhead notes that the opening of CLIKCLAK may be a Rube Goldberg-esque nod to the recent Honda ad “Cog”.
Yesterday, Amid and I joined Roy Disney, Don Hahn, David Stainton, Leonard Maltin and several others at a preview screening of a wonderful new Disney short, THE LITTLE MATCH GIRL, based on the classic Hans Christian Andersen story. We’ll discuss the film in a forthcoming post… but while there we heard some news we hadn’t read elsewhere: Starting this summer, Disney will be making all its Oscar-winning (and Oscar-nominated) shorts available on iTunes – for Internet downloading to iPods and the like. Yes, Der Fuehrer’s Face will be available to carry around in your hand – along with The Three Little Pigs and Destino. The films willl be released in waves and not all at the same time. In the summer, a DVD boxed set will be released with the same content. This is great news. It’ll be fun to have It’s Tough To Be a Bird on my iPod.
Disney recently restored its CinemaScope materials on LADY & THE TRAMP (1955) for a forthcoming DVD release. But to experience the film in its full glory, I highly recommend a trip to the El Capitan Theatre in Hollywood February 2nd through the 14th (Valentine’s Day) where they will showcase this latest restoration on the widescreen. On Thursday night February 2nd, a special panel will convene before the screening to discuss the picture. Andreas Deja and Stan Freberg will be among the panelists.
The erosion of the animated feature continues. The Weinstein Co. and Kanbar Entertainment said Tuesday that they’ll team up on a sequel to their current CG-animated release Hoodwinked.From today’s Daily Variety:
Pic — the Weinstein Co.’s first animated venture, budgeted at less than $20 million — overcame lukewarm reviews to grab $16.9 million at the box office in its debut frame. Harvey Weinstein said that this time around, the pic’s producers will double the budget to improve animation, and that he spoke to the pic’s lead, Anne Hathaway, about returning while at the Golden Globes over the weekend.”Our whole marketing team rose to the occasion,” said Harvey Weinstein about “Hoodwinked’s” perf. “For every rave, there was someone saying that the animation isn’t as great as Pixar, but the movie is funny and fun for kids and adults. We never would have been able to do this at Disney.”New installment, dubbed “Hood Vs. Evil”, will find a teen Red training in a distant land with a mysterious, covert group called Sisters of the Hood. She is then called upon by Nicky Flippers — head of the Happily Ever After Agency — who teams her with the Wolf to investigate the disappearance of Hansel and Gretel.
Above is a fun painting by Brew pal Tom Neely celebrating Popeye’s 77th birthday today. Popeye first appeared as a character in the January 17, 1929 installment of the THIMBLE THEATRE comic strip by Elzie Segar. Despite the character’s enduring popularity, the bulk of the Popeye cartoons have never been released on any home video format. Here’s a PETITION you can sign to help bring the black-and-white Popeyes to dvd. And here’s an ARTICLE about Popeye’s birthday.
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NY-based studio Asterisk recently completed a thirty-five second piece for the Merchant Ivory film THE WHITE COUNTESS. The animation was created in an authentic Chinese brushwork style. It was produced and directed by Richard O’Connor and Brian O’Connell, designed by Handong Quan, and animated by Doug Compton, Ed Smith and Winnie Tom. The two images in this post are concept pieces from the production. I haven’t seen the finished animation, but Richard tells me that the production art doesn’t stray too far from this original vision.
Asifa-Hollywood’s 33rd annual ANNIE AWARDS event is coming up on Saturday February 4th. Tom Kenny (Spongebob Squarepants) will be hosting the proceedings and this year he will be joined by William Shatner (Over the Hedge), Jason Alexander (Duckman), Craig T. Nelson (The Incredibles), Brad Bird (The Iron Giant), Nick Park (creator and director of Wallace & Gromit), Seth MacFarlane (Family Guy) and Lee Unkrich (Pixar), among the presenters.Winsor McCay Awards for lifetime achievement will be presented to Cornelius Cole, Tyrus Wong and Fred Crippen. The festivities begin at 3 pm at the Alex Theatre in Glendale; the awards ceremony starts at 5 pm and a post event celebration immediately follows at Milano’s Cucina Italiana (525 N. Brand Blvd.). Tickets for the Annie Awards are available to the public as space permits at $75 per person (tickets include both pre- and post-receptions). Contact the Alex Theatre Box office, at (818) 243-2539, for tickets. For more event information, visit annieawards.com
There’s something I don’t understand, and probably never will understand, about DreamWorks Animation. With so many incredibly talented artists working under one roof, how can the studio’s films be so visually dull and devoid of artistic ambition? If these guys can create art, why does Katzenberg insist on hiding it beneath over-rendered fur and realistic grass textures, and marring their work with incompetent celebrity voices, fart jokes and every storytelling cliche in the book. While I’ve yet to enjoy a DreamWorks animated film, I’m certainly enjoying all these new blogs by the studio’s artists…and at the same time wondering how the hell a film that looks like THIS could be made by such an amazing group of individuals.
Patrick MateInsert Name Here: A group blog comprised of four DreamWorks animators (Fabio Lignini, Arnaud Berthier, Jakob Jensen, Simon Otto) and one animator at Sony Imageworks, Luis GraneGabriele PennacchioliAlessandro Carloni
Video game animation isn’t a frequent topic of discussion on the Brew, but LOCO ROCO, an upcoming Sony PSP game from Japan, recently caught my attention. The character designs are simple and sans outlines, in that supercute style that Japanese designers do so well. The backgrounds strive for a similarly fresh approach, and use crisp appealing shapes with creative color styling. Overall, the design and animation of LOCO ROCO easily matches the standard of most of today’s animated TV shows. Just take a look at this video demo. The entire gameplay, and not just the cut scenes, look like a TV series done in Flash or something. I’m not sure what, if anything, this means for the industry, but with the technology finally at a point where videogames (2D ones at least) can look this good, one hopes that game developers will begin to take greater advantage of the possibilities to produce creatively designed and well animated games.
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A legendary magazine cartoonist with an inimitable style, Eldon Dedini, passed away last Thursday from esophageal cancer. His work, including many beautiful watercolor cartoons, appeared primarily in PLAYBOY, THE NEW YORKER and ESQUIRE. Prior to animation, he worked at Disney as a storyboard artist in the 1940s, both on their shorts and the package features like FUN AND FANCY FREE (1947). Here’s a nicely written obit from his hometown paper, the Monterey County Herald. Also, a major collection of his work is being published this summer by Fantagraphics. The image at top is a page from a 1967 Volkswagen promotional book, hence the Volks-themed cartoon.
Ebert on animation in today’s Chicago Sun-Times.
Blackwing Diaries has posted some interesting John K. drawings of elephants which I hadn’t seen before. According to Jenny’s blog, these were for a freelance WB gig from around the time REN & STIMPY was starting up. The posts, HERE and HERE, also offer a good perspective on the LA animation scene ca. 1990.