Wanted to point you in the direction of a small Chicago collective, Chewbone Animation, who are nearing completion of a 5-minute animated short: A Time For All Seasonings. They’ve been at it for two years and their production blog displays some promising sample animation.
An early plug for my monthly movie gig with Janet Klein and her Parlor Boys. As always, the live musical program will be preceded by a selection of several cinematic goodies, screened in glorious 16mm celluloid. Join us, October 5th at 8pm, at THE STEVE ALLEN THEATER (Center for Inquiry-West), 4773 Hollywood Blvd. in Hollywood (Two blocks west of Vermont — Plenty of FREE parking in the rear). Admission $15. – a bargain!
I know two things about Lorelay Bove.
1.) She’s a character animation student at CalArts.
2.) She has some beautiful paintings on her BLOG. I’d describe them as Mary Blair-ish, but they’re not quite; she’s definitely got her own thing going on and I can’t wait to see more work by her.
The 2006 edition of the Ottawa International Animation Festival marked my fourth straight year that I’ve attended the festival. Instead of writing about which films I liked, which I’ll be doing plenty of over the coming weeks, I thought I’d address a more fundamental issue: why do I go to festivals like Ottawa in the first place?
The short answer is that, for people who work in the industry, festivals are some of the best places to broaden your horizons about the state of the art. Living in an industry town like LA, there’s a tendency towards artistic stagnation and developing an inbred mentality about what constitutes quality animation. Attending a festival, especially one with high standards like Ottawa, is a refreshing slap in the face, a wake-up call to the wild potential inherent in this medium.
In my opinion, Ottawa, of all the festivals I’ve been too, has the strongest competition programs. This is certainly not a view shared by all. Mark Mayerson recently commented on his blog that he found the competition programs to be “a major disappointment” this year. But in my book, the Ottawa film selections are the highlight of each festival. Ottawa’s artistic director Chris Robinson is the perfect tour guide to the dauntingly complex world of indie animation, and he and his staff do an amazing job of pulling together exciting uncompromising screenings. They manage to program an interesting mix of mainstream favorites like Guilherme Marcondes TYGER, Joel Trussell’s WAR PHOTOGRAPHER and the SNL TV FUNHOUSE cartoon “Journey to the Disney Vault,” along with an eclectic range of experimental, student and narrative shorts. Even when I don’t like some of the films they choose, I can always respect their choices, which is more than can be said for some other major animation festivals.
I certainly didn’t dig every film that screened in Ottawa. One film in particular that frustrated me was Suzan Pitt’s EL DOCTOR. At 23 minutes, it’s not exacly a short film and requires a significant investment of effort to understand. But a couple days after I’d seen the film, I began to wonder, Did I dislike her film because it was a bad film or because of my own personal prejudices about what animation should be?
That, in a nutshell, is what Ottawa does. The competition selections force you out of your comfort zone and ask you to appreciate animation in all its many wonderful forms. After reading Chris Robinson’s article about EL DOCTOR and talking to other people about the film (juicy festival gossip: the shriveled docter in the film is supposedly based on Jules Engel), I’m ready to give Suzan’s film another try. I can’t guarantee I’ll like it anymore the second time around, but my experience with this film is exactly why I enjoy Ottawa so much. It’s a challenging environment that forces one to discard their rigid attitudes about cartoons and confront their preconceived notions about the animated art form. To everybody out there whose idea of short form animation is Disney’s LITTLE MATCHGIRL, give a festival like Ottawa a try sometime. You may be pleasantly surprised to discover a new world of animation that you never knew existed.
Of course, the other reason to attend festivals is to meet friendly inspiring animation folk from around the globe. I saw many old friends and made plenty of new ones. Besides the folks in the photos below, some of the other fine people I had the chance to hang out with were Isaac King, Tom Knott, Tabitha Fisher, Luc Chamberland, Trixy Sweetvittles, Alex Manugian, Warren Leonhardt, Steve Stefanelli, Tamu Townsend, Helder Mendonca, Chris Dainty, Chuck Gammage, Rita Street, Dav-Odd, Bill Robinson, Martine Chartrand, Lee Rubenstein, Jessica Plummer, Marv Newland, Ted Pratt, Irene Kotlarz, Dave Cooper, Esther Jones, Tony Lamberty and Kelly Armstrong. I’m surely leaving out many other people so please forgive my overtaxed memory. Before the photos, here’s a few other Ottawa reports worth checking out:
Ward Jenkins on Drawn! about the films
John Martz on Drawn! about John K. and Bob Clampett
Cool Flickr set by Bill Robinson
Continuing coverage on the fps blog
Alan Cook: Part 1, 2, 3
Ken Priebe: Part 1, 2, 3, 4
Japanese filmmakers Takeshi Nagata & Kazue Monno,
who won an honorable mention for their
experimental short LIGHTNING DOODLE PROJECT [PIKAPIKA]
Director Michael Sporn who won for Best Short Animation Made for Children
for his film THE MAN WHO WALKED BETWEEN THE TOWERS
Incredible Brazilian animator Guilherme Marcondes (TYGER)
Nick Fox-Gieg, director of A GOOD JOKE (and yes, it is a good joke)
Animation director and ASIFA-East prez David Levy,
who is also author of the excellent book
YOUR CAREER IN ANIMATION: HOW TO SURVIVE AND THRIVE
CODENAME: KIDS NEXT DOOR creator Mr. Warburton
who won Best TV Animation For Children.
Me and Sheridan student Alan Cook
The festival’s technical director André Coutu (left) and artistic director Chris Robinson
Jose Pou, FPS editor Emru Townsend and Pilar Newton
Filmmaker and professor Brooke Keesling and Laika director Mike Wellins
Brazilians in Ottawa: I suck because I only recognize
Anima Mundi festival co-director Lea Zagury (third from right)
and Guilherme Marcondes (far right). Please send idents.
Guru Studios founder Frank Falcone, festival conference director Maral Mohammadian,
festival sponsorship director Azarin Sohrabkhani and me
JibJab co-founder Evan Spiridellis inspired the crowd
with his talk about “The Rise of the Independent Creator”
Filmmaker Anabel Rodriguez and me
The Little Explorer is an alternative band out of London. Aaron Bradbury is an animator from Derby. The Fool Looks at the Finger that Points to the Sky is a remarkably cool CG music video by Bradbury set to Little Explorer’s music. His website details the production with concept art and video tests. Worth a look.
KOMANEKO, a theatrical cartoon series from Japan, is so nauseously cute and adorable it just might make you feel dirty. It’s about a stop-motion cat who wants to make her own stop-motion animated short. Man, talk about postmodern. The five episodes can be viewed in the YouTube playlist below. The official Japanese KOMANEKO site is HERE.
(Thanks, Arthur Bristol)
Yes, that’s me as “Scientist #3″ in Teddy Newton’s new film, THE STUDIO OF TOMORROW. I’ve been spending the last few days helping Teddy (of Pixar and Boys Night Out fame) by being an extra in his live-action comedy short – a film which demonstrates how modern technology will improve the “future” of the animation industry. Teddy will wrap principal photography this week, with editing and post production scheduled over the next few months. I’ll post more information on this film later on, down the road, when it’s finished and available for viewing. My part is very small (it’s one of those blink and you’ll miss me cameo roles), but if you’re alert you’ll also catch Mike Mitchell (Spongbob, Ren & Stimpy, Sky High), Tom Winkler (Doodie.com), Lou Romano (Pixar, Powerpuff Girls), Brad Bird (The Iron Giant, The Incredibles) and other animation notables, in bit roles. It’s a hilarious concept – one which every BREW reader will particularly enjoy.
I’ve known about this exhibition for a while, but it didn’t occur to me that I should post about it until a friend mentioned that it wasn’t on the Brew. An amazing exhibit of classic Disney artwork opened on September 15 at the Le Grand Palais in Paris. The show is called “Il Etait une Fois Walt Disney” (“Once upon a time, there was Walt Disney”), and folks who have attended are calling it one of the greatest animation exhibits ever. Didier Ghez of the Disney History blog has an interesting write-up about the exhibit, wherein he describes its importance:
What brings the whole thing to another level is the very concept of the exhibition: it is a quest to understand what works of art (especially European ones) inspired the art of Disney artists. Based on the seminal book of Dr. Robin Allan, Walt Disney and Europe, the Grand Palais exhibition displays works by the greatest European masters, like Gustave Dore, Heinrich Kley, or even Breughel, German expressionists and French architect Viollet le Duc alongside Disney concept art, layouts and backgrounds. And as all of you know, Disney’s artists works do not pale in front of those of those masters. In fact the association is mind-boggling: if you are a layman, the quality of the concept artists’ works become even more obvious and you start understanding that Walt had some really outstanding individuals working for him, that he was not the only one who drew everything and that the Studio was far from being a factory. If you are a Disney enthusiast you are bound to be stunned by connections with famous or less famous works of art from the past that you were not aware of.
For more info, there’s an article about the exhibit HERE, a slide show with lots of artwork HERE, and a video and even more artwork HERE. The show runs through Christmas in Paris, and if you’re anywhere in Europe, you’re not going to want to miss this. The exhibit then travels to Montreal where it’ll be at the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts from March 8 to June 24, 2007. I can’t make the Paris show, but I’m definitely going to check it out when it hits Montreal.
UPDATE: Carbunkle Cartoons animator Colin Giles was recently in Paris and he has high praise for the exhibit. Colin writes:
I’ve just returned from vacation in Paris and London and I must say the Walt Disney exhibition was the highlight of the trip. It blew me away. So many important pieces of Disney Art – Mary Blair, Eyvind Earle, Joe Grant, Marc Davis and many others. It only cost 10 euros to get in and I went around twice just to soak it in. They even had a “Destino” section displaying Salvador Dali’s layouts. The work displayed truly showed that these artists were masters. It really is an important show and anyone close to Paris should make the trip. When it arrives in Montreal it should be required viewing. Seeing boards done by Ub Iwerks for “Plane Crazy” was the highlight for me. It was a very well organized display and really well thought out. I bought the DVD of the exhibition which contains a film made specifically for the show and I’ll be posting screen grabs on my blog.
(Thanks to Will Kane for the links)
Here’s a complete list of the winning films from last week’s Ottawa International Animation Festival. I’ll have my thoughts on the festival posted in a few days.
I had the pleasure of seeing my old friend Marv Newland (Bambi Meets Godzilla) up at the Ottawa Festival last week. He was handing out postcards to promote his INTERNATIONAL ROCKETSHIP Garage Sale this Saturday, September 30th, starting at 9am. If you are in Vancouver, it would be worth a peek for some of the books, animation desks, art supplies, production equipment and other assorted strange goodies that they are getting rid of. The address is 8938 Shaughnessy Street (in the rear). The phone number is (604) 738-1778.
One has to admire artists like Michel Gagné who constantly experiment, push their limits and attempt different forms of artistic expression. Michel recently announced on his website his next animation project, and it’s particularly exciting because it’s such a departure from his previous film efforts. SENSOLOGY is an abstract animated short set to a jazz composition by Paul Plimley. While the film is still a couple years away from completion – it’s scheduled to premiere at the Vancouver International Jazz Festival in 2008 – Michel has posted a teaser for the short and the story of how the project came about on his website.
I’m not quite as industrious as fellow Brewer Jerry when it comes to posting Ottawa reports. I promise to report on it when I return to LA. In the meantime, I offer you this incredibly appealing piece of DENNIS THE MENACE sheet music from 1952. It was sent over by super cartoon music historian Daniel Goldmark. Considering it’s currently 3:30am, I really have nothing else to add so just enjoy the artwork.
So much to do at the Ottawa festival, and no time to blog.I am delighted to meet so many people who read Cartoon Brew up here. I’ve made a bunch of new friends and it’s great to see my old out-of-town buddies Mark Mayerson (we go back over 30 years), Linda Simensky, Michael Sporn, J.J. Sedelmaier, Steve Stanchfield, Mark Langer, Kelly Armstrong – not to mention my regular L.A. colleagues Heather Kenyon, John K., Tom Knott, Fred Seibert – and a host of others, including Chris Robinson and the staff of the Ottawa Festival. Wonderful people, all.The first two days here feature a business conference devoted to Television animation, with many great panelists and talent. One thing that emerged from the conference: Nelvana’s RUBY GLOOM looks very promising.The festival competition is wonderful. It’s not over yet, but the best films I’ve seen so far include Joanna Quinn’s DREAMS & DESIRES: FAMILY TIES, Georges Schwizigel’s JEU, Obom’s HERE AND THERE, Mait Laas’ GENERATIO and Run Wrake’s RABBIT. John Kricfalusi gave a great speech about the influence of Bob Clampett with numerous clips and John’s wonderful commentary on what makes them so great. The festival ran a group of Clampett’s best films, most of them in gorgeous 35mm prints.Well, I gotta get back to the festival. I’ll be back home on Monday night.
Flash producer Aaron Simpson (WB, JibJab), who also runs the indispensable blog Cold, Hard Flash has unveiled “The Flash Animation 10 – The Top 10 Most Influential Online Flash Shorts,” a list created for a lecture he presented last week at the Flashfoward conference. It’s a solid and important list that I largely agree with, though it also illustrates clearly how the majority of online Flash animation still lags artistically in comparison to other animation techniques. Aaron describes below the criteria for a film to make this list:
Over the last month, I’ve culled together a list of 40 Flash-animated shorts worthy of inclusion, and then graded each one on a 1-10 scale in three categories – ARTISTIC MERIT, REACH and INFLUENCE. The top 10 then revealed themselves to me, and the list was born. I took it one further, and interviewed 7 of the 10 creators and their remarks are included here.