Japanese robot maker Vstone Corporation has just released its latest consumer product: Tetsu-jin 28 (aka Ironman 28 – or Gigantor, as it’s known as in the U.S.). Based on the Japanese manga and classic anime series, the remote-controled robot – which is 15 inches high and weighs 5.5 pounds – comes as a kit you have to build yourself. If you construct it correctly, its arms and legs should move smoothly and it will walk around like a human being. But no, it doesn’t fly. The price is in the ballpark of $3 thousand dollars. For specs (in Japanese), to order one, or just to look at the box art, go here.(Thanks, Edwin Austin)
The upcoming feature TEKKON KINKURITO, scheduled for Japanese release in December 2006, is produced by Studio 4°C, the Japanese animation outfit behind MIND GAME. It is based on the comic BLACK AND WHITE by Taiyo Matsumoto, and is being directed by Michael Arias, a first-time director who was previously a segment producer on THE ANIMATRIX. Pixar story artist Enrico Casarosa saw a portion of the film in Japan last month while visiting the studio, and he speaks highly of it on his blog. A lo-res version of the trailer can be seen HERE. Here’s to hoping that the film isn’t neglected like MIND GAME and actually receives some distribution in the US.
The Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences’s annual Marc Davis Lecture will be presented on Friday, April 21st. In a year that saw two stop motion films made in Britain nominated for a Best Animated Feature Oscar, it seems appropriate that the spotlight be cast on London’s most notorious stop motion artists. The Brothers Quay, in their first-ever speaking engagement in the United States, will discuss their work and screen clips from their unique, film noir-esque animations. This is a rare opportunity to meet and greet these two incredible filmmakers. Admission is only $5. For more details, visit the Academy’s website.
Get ready to hurl.With billboards and bus posters for ICE AGE 2 (opening today), THE WILD (4/14) and OVER THE HEDGE (5/19) plastering the city, I’m reminded that this could be the year of Hollywood’s rude awakening (re: computer animated features). Hey, I’m an optimist. I don’t want these films to fail. My hope is for animators to remain employed, to make great movies. But then I see something like THIS.Hollywood will get what what it deserves. And it can’t come too soon for me.
Just a brief update on the status of ANIMATION BLAST #9: I’m almost done with the issue and planning to send it to the Canadian printer in the next couple weeks. It should definitely be out by the end of April. A huge thanks to everybody for their patience.
Here’s something I had to cut from the issue this week. It’s a DePatie-Freleng era thumbnail board by one of the issue’s featured artists, John Dunn (1920-1983). I have no idea whether it was for production (unlikely) or just a personal idea. I also don’t know if there’s more to the board; these three pages are all that exist at the moment. There’s a bitter undercurrent in a lot of Dunn’s humor, and it comes through rather strongly in these boards.
If you have an extra ten minutes to spare today, you can spend that time no better than watching the lyrical short HERON AND CRANE (1974) by Russian animation genius Yuri Norstein.
Here is a bit of background about the film that I found online:
Norstein’s third feature is based on a Russian fairy tale. It marked the first of several collaborations among Norstein, his wife, the artist Francesca Yarbusova, and a cameraman Alexander Zhukovsky. To achieve Norstein’s artistic vision, they invented a special piece of equipment which allowed them to animate on layers of glass. Norstein’s original script was not approved by the studio administration. Veteran director Roman Kachanov was assigned to serve as project “supervisor” and write an acceptable script. Unbeknownst to the studio administration, Norstein filmed the original script. Thanks in great part to support from Fyodor Khitruk, Norstein’s HERON AND CRANE – with Norstein credited as co-writer – was approved for distribution after numerous additional clashes with the studio management. Very Popular in the former USSR , the film also won many honors abroad.
A dvd of Yuri Norstsein’s complete works can be purchased from RussianAnimation.com or Amazon. There’s also a fairly new book out about Norstein written by Clare Kitson – YURI NORSTEIN AND TALE OF TALES: AN ANIMATOR’S JOURNEY – which I’ve heard good things about.
Some sick perverted souls in South Korea came up with this piece of Flash animation. It might make you queasy. It might make you hate animation. If you know what’s good for you, just don’t click on this link. Seriously, DO NOT CLICK ON THIS LINK. If you clicked on that last link, then for heaven’s sake, please don’t click on this one HERE! Don’t say I didn’t warn you.
(Thanks?, Karl Cohen)
Film buff John McElwee posted another great entry on his blog about old cartoons. This time offering some perspectives on Fleischer’s Color Classics series. McElwee acquired a 1937 booking ledger from a rural North Carolina theatre, allowing him to compare actual rental prices for Paramount shorts against RKO (Disney Silly Symphonies) and MGM (Happy Harmonies) cartoons. This is great information.
“…a Silly Symphony through UA, Woodland Café, was $5.00 flat, while a later Donald Duck (Self-Control) through RKO got $5.25. Paramount took only $2.00 for a December 1937 booking of Christmas Comes But Once A Year, but that Fleischer Color Classic was by then an oldie, having come out the previous December, so terms were a little more favorable for this run. Otherwise, this theatre doesn’t appear to have used the Color Classics, although they did book heavily on the Popeyes (I Like Babies and Infinks cost $4.86). The best money for cartoons from this venue seems to have been collected by MGM, whose Bosko and The Pirates got $6.65, while Bosko’s subsequent encounter with the Cannibals netted $6.95 for the Metro exchange. Just a lot of numbers for long-ago, and long forgotten, bookings — but they give us some insight into the selling end of the cartoon business, at a time when such nickels-and-dimes as these kept small showmen, and big studios, afloat.”
(Thanks, Mark Mayerson)
It’s back! Randy Haberkamps’s great series of Monday night screenings at the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, Great To Be Nominated (Part 3), resumes in April. Every Monday night starting April 10th, the Academy screens a Best Picture nominee from each year, along with nominated live action and animated short subjects, newsreels, outtakes and special in-person guests. The prints (including the cartoon titles pictured above) are the best ones available (usually studio vault prints), and the Academy’s Goldwyn Theatre is state-of-the-art. For a complete list of films, the schedule and directions, go to the Academy website for details. A pass for the entire 2006 series – 20 evenings – is $30. Tickets for individual evenings are $5 a piece. What a bargain!
If Michael Eisner talks and nobody listens, does he still have a talkshow? The debut of Eisner’s new series on CNBC tanked with a 0.0 Nielsen rating and a 0 share on Tuesday night, the lowest rating possible. CONVERSATIONS WITH MICHAEL EISNER lost 82% of the total viewers from its CNBC lead-in, a rerun of the gameshow DEAL OR NO DEAL, and ended up with 95,000 total viewers, including 39,000 adults 25-54 (the network’s desired demo). For the record, most of the show reviews haven’t been very positive. All I can say is that it’s incredibly refreshing to finally see Michael Eisner muck up something that isn’t related to Disney or animation.
UMB is a graduate film created by Israeli animation/broadcast design student Liron Damir at the Bezalel Academy of Art and Design. The film is set to the song “Flugufrelsarinn” by the Icelandic group Sigur Rós, and it does a commendable job of capturing the otherworldly vibe of the band’s music.
(via hydrocephalic bunny)
Maybe it’s me – or maybe I’m just nostalgic for an old fashioned hand drawn animated feature – but this Asterix and the Vikings looks pretty darn good. I’m really anxious to see it.We’ve mentioned this flick before. It has no planned U.S. distribution, despite a great English voice cast which includes Paul Giamatti (as Asterix), Brad Garrett (as Obelix), Sean Astin, Evan Rachel Wood and John (“Bender”) DiMaggio. A FILM in Denmark produced the animation, which looks great (see the teaser trailer on the official site). It opens over the next few months in Europe. I’m rooting for an American pick-up.
My friend Wayne Daigrepont has a cell phone and just found out he had Toonworld TV Classics. Here’s his email to me:
So here’s my cell phone, right?? It only has 5,000 gadgets I don’t know about yet. In my fiddling-faddling with it….I find I can (and do) get “tv” (images only in increments of “stills”)….It is via Sprint, and it is a download called MobiTV. The Channel is 28 (ToonWorld TV). They play such non-stop (& non-interrupted) toons as Roger Ramjet (!), all Harveytoons! (theatrical Caspers, Baby Huey, Herman & Katnip, etc.) & “The Dick Tracy Show,” (yes…. with allllll those “politically incorrect” characters”). The fee is $10 a month….and its image is pristine!!
Toonworld TV Classics launched in 2003 and mainly broadcasts public domain Popeye, Superman, Betty Boop, Gumby and The Three Stooges shorts. They have also partnered with Classic Media to show Mister Magoo TV cartoons and Rankin Bass holiday specials. Sounds like a pretty sweet deal.
Holy Animated Sound Effects! As a child of the 1960s, I was a huge fan of the 1966 BATMAN TV show. So I have to say I’m delighted with the uber-geekiness of this Argentinian website devoted to Adam West and the series. My favorite page here is a complete index to the animated sound effects that would cover every fight scene. There are also alphabetic and episode numeric indexes to where each sound effect was shown.
My new favorite blog of the moment is Thad Komorowski’s “Identifying Animators and Their Scenes.” The site has only been up for a few days and it’s already packed with excellent material. As the name of the blog implies, its concept is dead simple: post clips from Golden Age cartoons and identify who animated the scenes. For example, check out this great post about Walter Lantz shorts where Thad identifies scenes by Fred Moore, Ed Love, Pat Matthews and Grim Natwick. Absolutely incredible detective work. The site has plenty of other animation clips posted already, animated by the likes of Emery Hawkins, Virgil Ross and Manny Gould.
If there’s one thing that ties together the work of all of these distinctive animators, it’s how beautifully they communicate with cartoon imagery. I had the sound on my computer turned off when I first started viewing these clips, and I’d watched four or five clips before even realizing that there was no sound. There are significant lessons to be learned here about visual storytelling and clarity in staging and acting.
One more impressive thing worth pointing out: according to Thad’s Blogger profile, he’s only 16-years-old. These crazy animation historian types…they’re getting younger everyday.