Id These Pig Cels

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Brew readers with a keen eye and a vast knowledge of Disney TV and movies, here’s a question for you. These cels (above) were recently acquired by self-admitted animation addict Rob Richards, House Organist at Disney’s El Capitan Theatre (If you’ve been to the El Cap, chances are you’ve heard Rob. He’s played over 4000 performances since the organ debuted in 1999). These are Disneyland Art Corner setups. Rob is completely stumped. I don’t know what they are either – but I suspect they are from a Wonderful World of Color episode.UPDATE: Rudy Agresta and Darrell Van Citters wrote in to identify the cels, both will get a free copy of Rob’s El Capitan Theatre CD, Mighty Wurlitzer! Darrell says:

Those cels were from a project done for Latin America. All I can with certainty is that John Lounsbery animated the opening stuff up to the point where the pigs become the Disney version of the Three Pigs. I saw the scenes in the old morgue (as we called it). The drawings are awesome – I loved them so much I photocopied some of them. There’s even some of the Big Bad Wolf. They were done with lots of blue colored pencil under-drawing and the extremes were tied down quite loosely, along the same lines as John’s drawings of the Colonel in 101 Dalmatians. The sheets indicated that the tracks were in Spanish so I don’t think it was ever shown here. If someone on the inside wants to do more research or get better quality scans, the production number is 5954, Los Tres Cochinitos.

Rudy adds:

The cels in question on your site are from the film titled Cri-Cri el Grillito Cantor (Chi-Chi, the Singing Cricket). This was a Spanish made live action film that the producer (Carlos Amadour, S.A.) made in 1963. The Disney studio was contracted to produce the animated segment. This was left in the capable hands of Bill Justice and X. Atencio. It featured the 3 Little Pigs, their mother and the wolf.

Lino Corio, a Brew reader in Mexico adds this:

The movie is a biopic of Francisco Gabilondo Soler, a Mexican that wrote dozens of songs intended for children. However, his music was not simple… it is the kind of music that both children and adults can enjoy: funny, touching and, sometimes, very sad. One of his most popular songs is called “Cochinitos Dormilones” (Sleeping Pigs) and is some sort of lullaby that talks about the three little pigs going to bed and what kind of dreams they have (one dreams of becoming a king, another one dreams of sailing on a boat and the third one dreams of helping his mom). When the movie was made, Disney animated the song and then, some extra stuff was added… like the three little pigs breaking a piñata.

Rudy also tells us that Didier Ghez posted the sequence on You Tube back on November. Click here for the poster. Thanks to all who’ve responded.

News Round-Up

Since we’ve been down for several hours (changing servers), we have a lot to catch up on.• Yes it’s true. Dreamworks and Aardman have officially split up. Is there anyone, anywhere, upset by this news? I think this is a good thing for Aardman. They are free to pursue making the movies they want. I would love to see them enter into a distribution deal with Disney, however I doubt they will have any trouble finding another U.S. studio to align with.• We plugged Fred Cline’s blog last week, but it’s worth another visit. Cline is posting his color keys for the aborted 1993 BETTY BOOP movie – and he’s posted video of the animated Mary Blair/Lee Blair Meadow Gold commercials. Cool.• Jules Feiffer will recieve the Writers Guild of America’s Animation Writing Award for lifetime achievement. The WGA West’s Animation Writers Caucus tapped Feiffer whom, it should be remembered, wrote Terrytoons (including Tom Teriffic) in the 1950s, as well as a recent series of animated films being directed by Gene Deitch. Feiffer also wrote the live action Popeye (1980) feature, but let’s ignore that for the moment. Feiffer will be feted at the Writers Guild Awards on Feb. 11 at the Century Plaza in Los Angeles and simultaneously at the Millennium Broadway Hotel in New York.

“The Ropes At Disney,” A 1943 Disney Employee Manual

Ever wonder what it was like to work at the Disney Studio during the Golden Age of Animation? Think it was the “happiest place on Earth”? Think again. This 1943 booklet, given to all new employees, spelled it out for you. Gals ain’t allowed in the Penthouse Club, personal phone calls will be charged to you, and if you need to leave the studio, you cannot do so without an “Off the Lot Pass”. Oh, and “Any violation of the U. S. Espionage Act” will get you discharged.

UPDATE: We’ve learned the illustrations in this book were done by Tom Oreb.

(Thanks to Mike Van Eaton for sharing this with us)

Don Hertzfeldt Conquers Sundance

Everything Will Be OK

A hearty CONGRATS to Don Hertzfeldt who earlier tonight won the Jury Prize in Short Filmmaking at the Sundance Film Festival for his new film EVERYTHING WILL BE OK. An animated short winning top honors at Sundance is a rare and noteworthy event because at the festival, animated films compete alongside dramatic live-action shorts and documentary short subjects. It’s refreshing to see Sundance recognize a piece of animation with a strong point of view, intelligent storytelling and legitimate artistic merit, particularly after the embarassingly subpar slates of animated short nominees chosen this year by ASIFA-Hollywood’s Annie Awards and the Oscar’s Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences.

Eddie Cantor Endorses Snow White

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I was visiting the Van Eaton Gallery in Sherman Oaks this week (and you should too if you are in the area), and Mike Van Eaton, knowing I am a big fan of pressbooks and old animated movie advertising, showed me this newspaper clipping of SNOW WHITE AND THE SEVEN DWARFS from its premiere Hollywood engagement at the Carthay Circle Theatre. I’m always wondering what cartoon shorts played with what feature films back in the 1930s and 40s. But have you ever wondered what live action shorts played with SNOW WHITE? This ad tells you: A newsreel and a Pete Smith Specialty – matinees only.UPDATE: Disney historian J.B. Kaufman tells us more about the short subjects that played with SNOW WHITE dsuring its initial engagements:

The story of short subjects playing with Snow White at the Carthay Circle gets a little more complicated. Snow White was at the Carthay Circle for four months, and the supporting bill changed periodically during that time. According to the theater’s programmes, there was a newsreel every week — The March of Time, Pathe News, Pathe Parade, and sometimes more than one of these on the same program. The Pete Smith short A Friend Indeed was on the bill for five weeks, apparently, from February into early March 1938. For the last four weeks there was a short called The Quintuplets, surely about the Dionnes. (The ads read: “They Sing, They Dance, They See a Movie.” No short titled The Quintuplets appears in the Copyright Catalog, but in 1935 Pathe News had copyrighted a short about the Dionnes called The Quintuplets’ Second Christmas.)Another item of interest: the Spanish-language edition of the feature, Blanca Nieves y los siete enanos, was unveiled at the Carthay Circle on Sunday, 27 February 1938, and became a regular Sunday-afternoon feature during the remainder of Snow White’s run there.Finally, for what it’s worth, when Snow White opened at Radio City Music Hall in New York in January 1938, it played for five weeks. For the first three weeks it played with The March of Time, for the fourth and fifth week there was a different newsreel which I haven’t identified, and during that last week there was an added attraction: the Warner Bros/Vitaphone short Ski Flight.

(Thanks, Mike Van Eaton)

Oscar Nom For Recycled Life

liwerks.jpgmglad.jpgI don’t know how I missed mentioning this last Tuesday, but it should be noted here that our good friends Mike Glad and Leslie Iwerks were nominated for an Academy Award for their live action film, Recycled Life in the catagory of Best Documentary Short.Mike Glad has one of the largest and finest collections of vintage animation art in the country. His various collections of animation movie posters, cartoon sheet music, backgrounds, cels and all manner of production materials have been the backbone of many exhibits at the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences and museums around the world. He’s donated numerous pieces from his incredible archive to Amid’s Cartoon Modern and to several of my books and DVD projects. Leslie Iwerks is, of course, grand daughter of Ub Iwerks and an incredible documentary filmmaker. She’s best known in our circles for The Hand Behind The Mouse and will be better known outside our circles with her forthcoming documentetry on Pixar (I’ve seen it and it’s teriffic).For more information about Recycled Life, go here and here. Congratulations to Leslie and Mike. We’ll be rooting for you.

What’s DreamWorks Doing?

This article, which was originally published in the WALL STREET JOURNAL earlier this week, offers some details on DreamWorks Animation’s upcoming slate of films, which includes three planned MADAGASCAR sequels and a Nick TV series featuring the penguins from MADAGASCAR. But lest anyone think that DreamWorks is only interested in milking their existing franchises, Jeffrey Katzenberg says in the piece, “Fortunately, our next six or seven movies are unlike anything we’ve done before or anything anyone else is doing.” The forthcoming films include BEE MOVIE, KUNG FU PANDA, MONSTERS VS. ALIENS and HOW TO TRAIN YOUR DRAGON. Katzenberg also talks in the piece about how they’re adding a year of production to their films because, “We’ve been racing to the finish line and that has meant compromising on story telling sometimes.”

Cartoon Network Exhibit Of… Cartoons

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Spotlighting talent from Cartoon Network’s local team of designers, animators, graphic artists and, according to the press release, “producers and writers,” the Museum of Design Atlanta will present an exhibition, Design at Play: The High Design and Low-Brow Humor of Cartoon Network opening on February 1st. The exhibit will include samples of print advertising and marketing materials, billboard executions, premium design, on-air spots, Web sites and online games.Artist Stephanie Gladden tells us:

This exhibition shows off the talents of the designers and illustrators from Cartoon Network Atlanta. The displays will include posters, premiums, and some CN Studios production art. Also I’m hyping it ‘cuz my fellow illustrators and I are gonna paint cartoons on the walls!

The installation runs through May 19 at the museum’s downtown facilities at 285 Peachtree Center Avenue. More information here.

How Animated Are the Animation Oscar Nominees?

The Oscar nominations from yesterday are stirring a lot of controversy in the animation world: the animated shorts for how uniformly mediocre the selections were (a topic for another time) and the features for whether the films are even animated. That’s because two of the three feature nominees – MONSTER HOUSE and HAPPY FEET – use performance- and motion-capture techniques, which means that the acting performances aren’t created frame-by-frame by animators, but are based on live-action performances which are subsequently enhanced by digital artists.

CG animator Keith Lango writes on his blog:

Only one of those three films used actual animation as the foundation for the character performances. The other two films captured live motion for the primary core act of imbuing the illusion of life to the puppets. When it comes to performance they have more in common with The Muppets Take Manhattan than they do with The Lion King. But it’s too much bother to worry about that. Nobody’s keeping score anyhow, so let’s just call it all “animation” and be done with it. And so we are witnessing the end game of the slow redefinition of terms.

Animation directors Mark Mayerson and Michael Sporn offer similar thoughts on their blogs about whether these films deserve the animation label. While I tend to have a pretty broad definition of animation and personally won’t label these films as not animated, when two of the three films in the animation category are contested like this, it’s probably time to have a debate about exactly what does and doesn’t qualify as animation. As it stands, it’s fairly silly (not to mention, demeaning to the art form) to have an animated film like CARS competing against two films whose character peformances were created by live-action actors.

Oswald At Your Service

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(Click on pictures for a larger version of each)

Aren’t these cool? Too bad we may never get a chance to buy ‘em.Disney character merchandise designers Kevin Kidney and Jody Daily (recently let go after two decades at the studio) produced these last summer – the first Disney Oswald merchandise in approximately 80 years. Despite being unveiled to the public at a recent Disney collectibles show, it now appears that these items may be scrapped altogether. As Kevin notes:

At the moment, it seems that Oswald (as a merchandise character) is “on hold” while Disney Consumer Products creates a style guide to streamline him. Disney eliminated the creative department that we worked for, so these may have fallen by the wayside after our departure from the company, but I thought you’d be interested in seeing the first Oswald figurine (in resin, at right) and the first Oswald ‘plush’ doll (actually he’s made of soft-sculptured suede!)

There is a small chance these babies will be offered as limited editions at the Disney theme parks or through Disney’s website. But don’t hold your breath. Personally, I hope they are mass produced. I know a few of our readers would be interested in them.

JP Miller Article by John Canemaker

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Head’s up on a magazine article that Brew readers will definitely want to check out. The new issue of CARTOONS: THE INTERNATIONAL JOURNAL OF ANIMATION features a John Canemaker-penned cover story – “In Search of John Parr Miller – about the life and work of JP Miller. The thirteen-page piece, which contains new research and biographical material, is the first article in a two-part series. The cover, above, is a 1941 painting by Miller created in Rio de Janeiro. (This magazine is put out by ASIFA International, and unfortunately available only to ASIFA members.)

Miller (1913-2004) was one of the members of Disney’s Character Model Department where he helped develop the look of the studio’s early classics (PINOCCHIO, DUMBO, FANTASIA, etc). After leaving Disney, he embarked on a legendary career as a children’s book illustrator. His work – both at Disney and as an illustrator – always had a tremendous amount of appeal. It’s great to finally have the opportunity to learn more about him.

Academy Award Nominees & Analysis

oscar.jpgThe nominees were announced today.Best Animated Feature
CARS (Pixar)
HAPPY FEET (Warner Bros.)
MONSTER HOUSE (Sony)Notes on the Feature nominations: The obvious casualty of the Arthur And The Invisibles disqualification was the lockout of two potential Dreamworks pix and Sony’s Open Season. Had the Weinstein Company submitted its all-animated Doogal instead of Arthur the catagory would have been open to five nominees. It’s to the benefit of the industry that all qualified nominees be submitted for Academy consideration. Hopefully this will encourage more studios to release independent films, and those hard to see foreign features, and qualify them for this honor. As it is, this is a fine list of nominees. A Pixar film competing against features produced by traditionally live action filmmakers (George Miller, Robert Zemeckis, Steven Spielberg). Is this the beginning of a trend? We’ll see. In the meantime, may the best car, penguin or monster win.Best Animated Short Film
The Danish Poet (NFB) Torill Kove
Lifted (Pixar) Gary Rydstrom
Little Match Girl (Disney) Roger Allers
Maestro Géza M Toth
No Time For Nuts (Blue Sky) Chris Renaud and Mike Thurmeier

Notes on the Shorts nominations: An interesting list. Pixar, Blue Sky and Disney, plus an NFB short and one Hungarian independent film. The big surprise was that Joanna Quinn’s award winning film (Dreams and Desires), didn’t make the cut and that three big studio produced shorts did. Is this the beginning of another trend? Two things grab Academy voters (and technique is not one of them): Laughter and Heart. LIFTED, MAESTRO and NO TIME FOR NUTS (all CG) got big laughs at the Academy screening; THE DANISH POET and LITTLE MATCH GIRL (both hand drawn) had heart. I can’t begin to predict what the full membership will select, but it was a strong year in this catagory.

Randy Newman’s song from CARS, Our Town, was also nominated for Best Song. In L.A. the Academy will screen all the nominated shorts with a filmmakers Q&A on Tuesday February 20th. The winners will be announced on Sunday February 25th. Congratulations to all the nominees!

Primal Screen’s Sundance Openers

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Atlanta-based Primal Screen has produced two preshow animation pieces – “Fireplay” and “Spark City” – for the 2007 Sundance Film Festival, currently taking place in Utah. “Spark City” (above), which plays out as a 6-minute animation loop, looks like it packs quite a visual punch. Brew pal Ward Jenkins, who designed the piece and directed the animation, has more notes about the making of the animation on his blog Ward-O-Matic. Other credits on the piece include Rick Newcomb, who did colors, effects, compositing and was in charge of the overall project, and Flash animation by Joe Kubesheski, Joanna Davidovich and Jeremy Seymour.

Persepolis

Persepolis

“When my parents came to the studio, nobody breathed. Imagine you are drawing Mickey Mouse and Donald Duck, and suddenly a big mouse and a big duck walk in.”

The above quote is Marjane Satrapi discussing the difficulties of creating an autobiographical animated feature. Yesterday’s NY TIMES has an intriguing article on what is surely the most offbeat animation feature of 2007: black-and-white, hand-drawn, French, based on contemporary events, and directed by two comic-book artists. Hardly the credentials of your average animated film and quite refreshing.

Initially reported on the Brew last October, the film PERSEPOLIS is based on Satrapi’s bestselling graphic novel about growing up as a teenage girl in Iran during the Islamic Revolution. The good news: the film is scheduled for US release later this year by Sony Pictures Classics. One interesting sidenote, the article reveals that the film’s executive producer and the person who made the US release possible is longtime Spielberg collaborator Kathleen Kennedy, whose animation producing credits include WHO FRAMED ROGER RABBIT?, AN AMERICAN TAIL and THE LAND BEFORE TIME.

(Use BugMeNot to bypass NY TIMES registration)

Divorce In Disneyland

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LA WEEKLY’S Nikki Finke is reporting the breakup of Roy Disney’s 51 year marriage to his wife Patty.

The only reason I posted this is because of the possible business consequences: I imagine a lot of Disney Co. stock/cash will change hands when Roy’s $1.2 billion-estimated fortune is divvied up — after all, they were wed just after Disneyland opened — so it looks like his stake in the corporation could be dramatically reduced. Then again, Roy reportedly sold off chunks of shares in Disney Co. in protest while he and his adviser Stanley Gold were fighting with FrankenEisner.

The actual court papers are posted in this PDF file.

You can enjoy my popcorn, while I enjoy your BRAINS!

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Savor every detail of Orville’s ignominious CG performance in this hi-res version of the spot. It comes courtesy of the Feed blog where lots of people (surprise, surprise) didn’t like the commercial.

Also, in my previous post about this spot, I pointed out the ridiculous bobbing movement in the second-to-last shot. JadeTiger, a user on the CGTalk forums, was so mesmerized by this bit of animation that she created an animated GIF so we can all watch it over and over over….

(The title of this post was penned by ‘frogspasm’ on the CGTalk forums)

Frederator Award Party

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Frederator Studios is hosting a party for animators next week at Cinespace in Hollywood. The event is to celebrate the first year of Channel Frederator podcasting and many of the filmmakers will be flying in to attend. All attendees will have the opportunity to get a beautiful 100 page full color program book (full disclosure: I contributed a page to it) which contains dozens of great pieces drawn by the Frederator podcast animators. This event is not an award show (like the Annies), Fred Seibert says it’s “three hours for you to eat, drink, and hang out with the animation community”. Sounds good to me. Wednesday January 24th at 8pm. See you there.(For more details, go here)