Neal Gabler, author of the just-released book WALT DISNEY: THE TRIUMPH OF THE AMERICAN IMAGINATION, appeared on NPR’s FRESH AIR yesterday to discuss the book and Walt Disney. The interview, which can be heard HERE, runs a little over thirty minutes.
(Thanks, Jared Chapman)
Today marks the 94th birthday of legendary animator Ollie Johnston, the last surviving member of Disney’s Nine Old Men. Let’s celebrate his amazing life with a few pics.
Johnston (right) with Frank Thomas in the 1930s:
Johnston (seated) with Frank Thomas during the production of SLEEPING BEAUTY:
Ollie’s animated cameo in THE IRON GIANT:
His other cameo in THE INCREDIBLES:
And here’s a nice vacation photo from Ollie’s trip to Hell last year:
Tony Mines, director at UK-based Spite Your Face Productions, has come up with two simple and thought-provoking rules for creating “not rubbish” animation. See if you agree and then discuss on his blog. Tony writes:
When creating animation, for one to produce work which can be defined as ‘not rubbish’, one must observe the following two rules. Failure to observe either one will result in animation which can be rightly identified as ‘rubbish’.
Firstly, one must be in the same room as the animation for which one is responsible. Being in the same building is not sufficient, and being in a different postal district or hemisphere is right out.
Secondly, one must recognise that animation in all its forms concerns the creation of sequential imagery, and therefore consideration and attention must be paid to every frame! This does not mean that one must animate consistently on 1′s – rather, it means that supervision be given to each frame, and that the amount of movement and nature of movement therein, be personally observed and considered. Attention to only key frames, or to key poses, shall equally result in ‘rubbish’ animation.
Read Tony Mines’s entire post here.
I saw the above spot for Triaminic on TV yesterday, and while not a classic by any means, I thought it had an appealing cut-out aesthetic. Surprisingly enough, a quick search online reveals that it was directed by Run Wrake, who’s been getting a lot of positive attention recently for his animated short RABBIT. You can view a nice sampling of Wrake’s commercial work, including this Triaminic spot, at his ad rep’s website, BermudaShorts.com.
Far be it from Cartoon Brew to offer advice on raising children, but we have to say that Adam Koford has some solid parenting skills. The photo below of his son, which he posted onto Flickr, proves that it’s never too early to start giving your kid a proper cartoon education.
For sale on eBay is a rare 16mm Technicolor print of a Walt Disney Wonderful World of Color show, “Magic And Music”. Originally telecast in black and white on Walt Disney Presents in 1958, this is the 1963 color rebroadcast. The most interesting aspect of it is the entire, uncut Pastoral Symphony sequence from Fantasia with all the footage of the black centaurette.Disney has been great about releasing its library in recent years, but racial images (think Song Of The South) are the last taboo the company still keeps under lock and key. The seller has a steep minimum price of $1500 for the item. Considering how rare this material is (and IB Tech prints of anything are scarce) he might just get it.
There’s not much of a question that the above publicity image for SHREK THE THIRD is a graphic travesty. That much is obvious. The real question, however, is, Why? How could something look like this especially when there are hundreds of talented artists working on the film and tens of millions of dollars at their disposal. After seeing the above image, Keith Lango, an experienced CG feature animator, wrote an exceptionally insightful commentary on his blog where he discusses the assembly-line system under which big-budget CG films are created and why he feels this flawed production pipeline is more responsible for these type of images than any individual artist working on the films. Here’s how Lango sets up his piece:
It’s almost like nobody ever saw this all together until it was too late. The thing is, if it was made like 99% of the imagery in big budget CG then most likely nobody did see it until it was too late. The problem is not so much with any single artist. That’s because in all likelihood no single artist is responsible for this. It is assembly line imagery. The flaw is in the system under which this is made.
Imagine taking 10 talented solo singers and asking them to sing the US national anthem to the same instrumental track. But due to scheduling conflicts they have to each perform in solo, not as a group. Oh, and gee, we don’t have everybody’s performance here yet so you’ll need to just do your part the best you know how without hearing the others. Naturally these singers are to going to make it the best national anthem they know how. So they sing and sing, beautiful notes that rise and fall- all creating fabulous solo performances. Now take these 10 solo artist’s performances and mix them together in editing. The overall result would be hideous. There are no background singers, nobody is doing harmony, nobody takes the lead because all take the lead. It’d be like some kind of gladiator battle of voices. The jumble of notes flooding forth would cause ears to bleed.
Read Keith Lango’s entire piece here.
What sort of top-secret project is talented mad cartoonist Rex Hackelberg developing up in Canada? I don’t know, but the cartoon designs featured in THIS POST on his blog totally blew my mind. The model sheets of the cat and the bespectacled kid – which reminds me of a mini-Ward Kimball – have some of the most exuberant, imaginative and fun poses I’ve seen in a long while. The only thing missing here is some funny loose animation that matches the energy of these model drawings. Let’s hope that’s coming up next.
My local comic book store, Golden Apple Comics on Melrose Avenue, is moving to a new location this week.The first day I moved to L.A. (from New York City) in 1986 my first question to my new co-workers was “where are all the local comic book stores?”, and was directed toward Golden Apple. I walked in to the Melrose store that day and immediately felt at home. Bill Liebowitz was behind the counter and I told him how happy I was to find this place. We became instant friends and my once-a-week visits have become a weekend ritual for 20 years. A few years later Bill was the first to support my efforts to launch and promote Streamline Pictures, and we did several animation related events together throughout the years. Bill’s passing a few years ago has been a terrible loss to the local fan community. But his widow Sharon and son Ryan (and the incredible store staff led by Tony Edwards) have kept the store and its activites going without missing a beat.The old store, due to its Hollywood location, has been featured in numerous news stories and several Hollywood movies. Its clientele includes big stars (I’ve personally stood on the checkout line with Michael Jackson, Joss Whedon, Samuel L. Jackson, Seth Green, etc.). So now they are moving (supposedly because the landlord unexpectedly and unreasonably wanted to jack up the rent). I personally think the new location (7018 Melrose) will be a good thing for the business. They are moving next door to Gallery 1988 on the corner of LaBrea and Melrose. Stan Lee will be there (to cut the ribbon) on Wednesday morning, November 1st, at 10am.So will I.
HAPPY FEET vs. Fred Astaire? Is that really even a contest? It’s a testament to Astaire’s talent that using only a cane as a prop, he can outdance and outentertain $100 million worth of flashy CG effects. Of course, as Canadian animator Colin Giles points out on the above link, it might have helped Warner Bros. if they’d chosen to do a tap-dancing animal cartoon with animals that were anatomically built for tap-dancing.
YouTube user Zak78 has posted a 10-part playlist of Masaaki Yuasa’s fantastic film MIND GAME (2004). As I’ve written before, MIND GAME is an animated feature unlike any other, and while a compressed Flash file is hardly the ideal way to experience the film, it’s one of the only ways since the film hasn’t received any dvd/home video distribution in the US or Europe.
Feeling a little rusty on your Vishnus, Shivas and Ganeshas? Look no further than Pixar animator Sanjay Patel’s new illustrated guide THE LITTLE BOOK OF HINDU DEITIES: FROM THE GODDESS OF WEALTH TO THE SACRED COWS. As some may recall, Patel self-published this book a couple years ago under the title LITTLE INDIA. The book was a hit and now it’s been picked up for mainstream distribution by Plume, an imprint of Penguin Publishing. Patel has expanded the book in scope and size and it’s scheduled for release next week. It’s available on Amazon for $11.20.
(Thanks, Will Kane)
I don’t want rub anymore salt in the wound, but Romeo And Juilet: Sealed With A Kiss opened today in several theaters in Southern California with the most horrendous review I have ever read in the L.A. Times. Registration may be required to access the Times webpage, so I’ll post some choice quotes from the review by Sam Adams:
A genuine tragedy, although not in the Shakespearean sense…A comprehensive list of what’s wrong with “Romeo & Juliet: Sealed With a Kiss” would stretch farther than the unabridged works of William S. But it begins with the notion of a just-for-kids take on a play whose climax is a double suicide. Don’t worry: There’s no dying here. Just an unending torture, 77 minutes that feel longer than an uncut Hamlet.The massacre of great drama might be at least forgivable were “Sealed With a Kiss” not so manifestly shoddy. The radioactive hues of Nibbelink’s blobby, graceless animation sear the eye like an atom blast… most of the movie’s voices are so heavily post-processed in an attempt to sound “funny” that what’s left of Shakespeare’s dialogue is rendered nearly unintelligible… In an astonishing display of poor taste, Nibbelink periodically breaks up the mushy stuff with scenes of Mercutio barking insults at his rival tribe – insults that are most often racist jokes with the offending epithet replaced by the word “Capulet” (i.e. “What do you call 500 Capulets on the bottom of the ocean?” “A good start.”)… That’s not suitable for all ages – it’s suitable for no one.
Strangly enough, the TIMES review actually makes me wanna go see it. To be fair, the LA WEEKLY was a little kinder. Luke Thompson there simply sums it up like this:
This is one odd concoction, which should find its primary audience among college potheads who like to watch ’70s Hanna-Barbera creations on the Cartoon Network late at night.
DreamWorks animator Jeremy Bernstein attended the Pixar storytelling seminars last weekend (mentioned previously HERE) and he took some illustrated notes, which he has now generously posted on his BLOG. Actually, it seems like he spent more time drawing the people in attendance than actually taking notes, but I’m not complaining because he ended up with an amazing batch of drawings.