The Associated Press posted an obit by John Rogers for Ed Benedict last night, and it’s been picked up by USA Today, ABC News, San Francisco Chronicle and other media outlets today. Of course we informed our readers of Ed’s passing, with a tribute here, back on August 30th. Since the AP story is driving new readers to the Brew today, I thought we’d post a couple great photos, taken by Spumco/Spongebob story artist Richard Pursel. At top is one of Ed and John Kricfalusi holding dolls based on characters they designed (John, on the left, is holding Ed’s Flintstone, Ed is holding John’s doll Jimmy) taken at Ed’s home in Carmel, back in 1996. Below is Pursel getting beaten by Ed and John (click on the pic for the full-sized version). For more examples of Ed Benedict’s amazing talent, please check out this section of Animation Blast online.
Hornswiggle, the cartoon short I produced for Frederator’s Random Cartoons show, will be broadcast on Nickelodeon sometime in 2007. The latest word is that the formatted half hour (consisting of three six minute shorts) will air on the Nicktoons Network starting in January, and during the rest of the year the individual cartoons will air separately, as interstitials, on Nickelodeon. I’ll keep you posted with actual dates and times when I find out more information myself.Meanwhile, in related news, former Disney animator Jason Peltz has started sculpting a Hornswiggle maquette! Jason has made, through his Orlando-based Peltz Productions, numerous maquettes for various clients (see his website for samples of his great work). Check out the one he made for Bill Wray’s Cartoon Network pilot King Crab, Space Crustacean.Jason’s sculpt of Hornswiggle is turning out so good (see the work-in-progress pics above and below), I’ve decided to make a small herd of them available for sale. The final painted versions, mounted on a base, will be available November 1st. Further reports in the next few weeks will update Jason’s progress. If you are interested in purchasing one of these beauties, drop me a line at jbeck6540-at-aol.com, and I’ll put you on the list. The cost will be $75. (post paid).
The biennial Holland Animation Film Festival, one of Europe’s most prestigious animation gatherings, takes place next month from Nov. 1-5. The recently announced competition selections can be found HERE. Notably, the festival has a Machinima contest this year.
Below is the excellent festival poster by Dave Cooper. Click on it to check out all the crazy details.
In case you missed the Gallery 1988 Cheshire Cat show, We’re All Mad Here, don’t fret. The good folks at Vinyl Pulse have posted most of the pieces here and the Gallery itself is selling all of them online. Surreal stuff by the likes of Amanda Visell, Anthony Ausgang (above), Carlos Ramos and many others.
Backspace is a new video podcast showcasing “experimental short films to provoke your imagination.” It’s created by 20-year-old Stephen Watkins, who describes it as follows:
“Backspace is my Honours year research project in Communication Design at RMIT University (Melbourne). I was intrigued by podcasts and their growing popularity. Through my research project I generated a series of short experimental films and I could see potential for a podcast to circulate these films to a wider and more diverse audience.”
He’s only released one episode so far, FLOAT, which features animated letters and numbers floating around Melbourne. It’s well worth a view. I’ve already subscribed to his podcast and look forward to future episodes. He also has some other interesting video projects posted on YouTube.
What an awesome way to start a Monday morning! Josh of the Jazz:Animated blog has posted onto YouTube the difficult-to-find 1956 John and Faith Hubley film DATE WITH DIZZY. The live-action short features the Dizzy Gillespie Quintet as they attempt to compose a cartoon jingle for a product called “Instant Rope Ladder.” The film is a parody of the TV commercial biz (note how clueless the ad agency guy is), but the three commercials shown in the film were all actual spots that John Hubley had produced back when his studio Storyboard was based in Los Angeles.
Josh’s write-up about the film is quite insightful so let me direct you to his text HERE. Also be sure to check out the rest of his blog, which is turning into a superb compendium of jazz-related animation material. It’s extra nice to hear these jazz cartoons being discussed from the vantage point of a musician.
A quick follow-up to last Friday’s post about Cartoon Network’s first original live-action production. An individual who’s familiar with Cartoon Network politics, but who prefers to remain anonymous for obvious reasons, wrote me the following:
“Who says a cartoon has to be animated?”
This was said/asked constantly by Atlanta programming execs, Burbank development execs, and marketing execs in their attempts to “explain” their interest in live action projects. I heard it at least once a week the last few months I was at the studio.
The other excuse often tossed around was that it was all Ted Turner’s fault. The story going around was that Ted was “originally going to call it the ‘Acme Network’ but changed his mind at the last moment.” As one head of development kept saying, “If only Ted had gone with the original name, we wouldn’t have this problem.”
It’s great that they’ve been able to rationalize this boneheaded programming shift to themselves. Now if they could just explain to the public why a station called Cartoon Network is increasingly creating and airing live-action content.
If you’ve written for TV Animation, you might be eligible for a 2006 Writers Guild Award. The Writers Guild is looking for nominees in this category and sent along this information:
Awards are presented in simultaneous ceremonies in New York and Los Angeles in February. For those in the east, details and submission forms can be found online at wgaeast.org and in the west at wga.org – or you can call the Writers Guild of America East at (212) 767-7805 or the WGA West at (323) 951-4000.It’s free and easy to apply. You don’t even have to be a member of the Writers Guild. Your script must air (or have aired) for the first time between December 1st 2005 and November 30th, 2006. The deadline for submissions is October 13th, which is next Friday. So hurry up! You might wind up with an impressive and heavy industry award!
In case you were wondering (like I was the other night) what ever happened to Chuck Jones’s final productions, the Thomas J. Timberwolf internet cartoons… well wonder no more. I found them here. Not sure how much Chuck was involved with these, outside of character design, but they are pretty good for early Flash animation efforts.
I got some photos of the bizarre DRx Looney Tunes mural in Hollywood, which I mentioned in this post a few days ago. It fills an entire wall… and apparently the painting “evolved” over several weeks. Below is a later, more gruesome, version. Click on photo below for a larger image.With Looney Tunes for all intents and purposes off the air (save for a precious few appearances on Boomerang and TCM), and the LOONATICS revamp on Kids’ WB! ruining the characters as a children’s brand, I will give Warner Bros. some credit for not giving up on the original designs and aiming this marketing effort towards older teens and adult consumers.
Here’s a music video (below) I found on YouTube relating to this new merchandising agenda. For more information about this DRx campaign, check out the What’s Up, DRx website.
Despite some missteps on YouTube’s part, like the unnecessary removal of dozens of public domain cartoons from its site, I’m still a huge fan of the service. WALL STREET JOURNAL drama/art critic Terry Teachout recently wrote a must-read article that explains far better than I can why YouTube is such a revolutionary site. While Teachout’s piece focuses on the treasure trove of musical material that has popped up on the site, the same can be applied to animation. Over the past year on the Brew, we’ve linked to dozens of animated shorts on YouTube that would have otherwise been impossible to see by the average animation fan.
Just last month we linked to John and Faith Hubley’s classic MOONBIRD (1959) and I’d wager that more people saw that film on YouTube than have seen it in a theater in the past twenty years. The film, however, has already been removed from YouTube due to copyright violations. Teachout calls these YouTube-fearing companies “short-sighted” in his article, but as he makes clear, YouTube is the beginning of something far bigger. Says Teachout:
As any economist can tell you, supply creates its own demand. Disseminating high-culture TV and radio programming for free via the Web is among the simplest and most cost-effective ways to expand the audience for the fine arts. Every time a Web surfer in South Dakota or South Africa views a YouTube video by Louis Armstrong or Arturo Toscanini, he’s making a discovery that could change his life — not to mention his concert-going and record-buying habits. I can’t think of a better bargain.
The bottomline is that YouTube has proven that there is a market for quality entertainment, whether it be music performances or animated shorts. Now it’s only a matter of time before other companies start making legal, higher-quality copies of this material available for a few bucks per download. An exciting new world of animation is about to open up, and YouTube deserves a heap of credit for helping make that world possible.
Mark Mayerson did some number-crunching recently and came up with some fascinating figures for animated feature box office grosses during the last six years. He figures out yearly box office totals, annual average per-film gross and also breaks down the numbers by studio. Definitely worth a look.
We’ve known since April that
Cartoon Network is abandoning its original programming charter and slowly moving into producing live-action instead of animation. This week they announced their first original live-action production – a movie called RE-ANIMATED. Here’s CN exec Michael Ouweleen’s take on the project:
“[E]ven though we are featuring live-action characters, it still had to be done the Cartoon Network way.”
Live-action done the “Cartoon Network way?” That might almost be funny if it weren’t for the sad fact that America’s only dedicated cartoon channel has decided that audiences no longer like cartoons and that it could better serve its audience by showing them the same live-action fare that’s already available on hundreds of other channels.
I’ve been complaining for years about the fact that very few of the animated features produced outside the U.S. ever get distribution (or even shown) in North America. One outlet, however, is The Waterloo Festival for Animated Cinema (WFAC) – located in beautiful Kitchener-Waterloo, Ontario Canada – a bona fide annual film festival dedicated to showing many of these inernational animated feature films in an actual theatrical setting – the way they’re supposed to be seen.This year the four day festival runs from November 16-19. The full program will be posted on November 1st, but already scheduled to screen are:
Fimfarum 2 (Jan Balej / Aurel Klimt / Bretislav Pojar / Vlasta Posp”ïÂ¿Â½ilovïÂ¿Â½, Czech Republic, 2006). Four adaptations of Jan Werich’s stories “for small children and clever adults,” by four master Czech puppet animators of different generations. Fire Ball (Wang Toon, Taiwan, 2006). An animated telling of the Chinese classic “Journey to the West”. Gin-iro no Kami no Agito (“Origin: Spirits of the Past” – Sugiyama Keiichi, Japan, 2006). From Studio GONZO, set in a future world 300 years from now, in which nature has turned against man. Kirikou et les B’tes Sauvages (“Kirikou and the Wild Beasts” – Michel Ocelot, France, 2005). Sequel to the wonderful Kirikou and the Sorceress. (pictured above) Knyaz Vladimir (“Prince Vladimir” – Yuri Kulakov, Russia, 2006). The story of the rise of the historical figure Prince Vladimir Svyatoslavovich (960-1015 A.D.). Pettson and Findus: Pettson’s Promise (Anders SïÂ¿Â½rensen / JïÂ¿Â½rgen Lerdam, Denmark, 2005). The story of a Swedish Santa Claus. Princes et Princesses (“Princes and Princesses” – Michel Ocelot, France, 2000). A retrospective screening of one of Ocelot’s most beautiful and creative films, in silhouette animation. Princess (Anders Morgenthaler, Denmark, 2006). A clergyman returns home after years of missionary work abroad to take care of his orphaned niece when his sister, a porno star, dies from drug abuse. Robotech: the Shadow Chronicles (Dong-Wook Lee / Tommy Yune, U.S.A., 2006). A new film based on the anime TV series of the 1980′s that began modern anime fandom in North America. Shisha no Sho (“Book of the Dead” – Kawamoto Kihachiro, Japan, 2005). The spirit of a long-dead prince begins to haunt a young noblewoman whom it has mistaken for an ancestor.
Screenings will be held November 16th-19th, 2006 at The Gig Theatre (the Hyland Cinema) in Kitchener-Waterloo, Ontario, Canada. For more information contact program curator Joseph C. Chen via email wfac-at-wfac.ca or through the festival website.