(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.
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.
The nominees were announced today.Best Animated Feature
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!
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.
“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)
Aeron has posted an inspiring collection of backgrounds from the animated feature LE ROI ET L’OISEAU here and here. Last August, we reported that Studio Ghibli was giving the classic French cartoon a dvd release in Japan, but the official restored version is still unavailable in the States.
(Thanks, Will Kane)
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.
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 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)
1. Chris Meledandri, head of Fox Feature Animation, jumps ship to Universal where he’ll try his best to produce another ICE AGE and not another ROBOTS.
2. What Makes An Animated Pitch Hit? Apparently, teaming with SNL castmembers will do the trick.
3. An animation studio decides NOT to make a talking-animal CG feature?!? What’s the world coming to?
This may be the silliest observation ever posted on the Brew, but I was reading the paper today and I couldn’t help staring at this photo of Iraqi Prime Minister Al-Maliki with foreign diplomats in conference. I wondered what those red boxes in front of each board member was. Looking closely, I deduced they were boxes of tissues. How considerate. At home I also have several boxes of Kleenex in the same dark red color, in fact they are Pixar CARS Kleenex. Is it possible Maliki offers Kleenex decorated with Lightning McQueen at his board meetings?What next? Spongebob Whistle Pops for dessert?
Couldn’t make it to Paris for the landmark Disney art exhibit that closed a few days ago? No worries because next month Prestel Publishing is releasing a 360-page English-version exhibition catalog ONCE UPON A TIME WALT DISNEY: THE SOURCES OF INSPIRATION FOR THE DISNEY STUDIOS. Cover price is a steep $75 but it’s only $47.25 at Amazon.
Now that the show has wrapped in France, it’s headed to Canada where it’ll be exhibited from March 8-June 24 at the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts. Colin Stewart, a columnist for the OC REGISTER, is asking the question on his blog that many of us are wondering, “Why won’t any galleries in the US make room for this exhibition?”
One more interesting fact about this spot: it was directed at Digital Domain by none other than David Fincher (FIGHT CLUB, SE7EN), who incidentally started his film career in animation (it’s all documented in ANIMATION BLAST 9). The shot towards the end where Orville says, “You’ll like it better…” has some of the funniest (i.e. hideously awful) acting you’ll see in any recent piece of big-budget CG.
A higher-res version of the commercial can be found on the official Redenbacher website. The lip sync is absolutely pathetic. It’s hard to believe this spot was produced by Digital Domain.
The response to this spot has been unanimously negative. Here’s a random sampling of opinions from around the blogosphere:
Y’know, I thought that cannibalizing old footage of Fred Astaire was kind of a tacky idea 11 years ago. But after this, I’m beginning to like the first idea. (via)
While watching Criminal Minds tonight, I saw the most sick and disturbing thing–yes, the commercials featuring a reanimated Orville Redenbacher. If you haven’t seen it, it’s not an old films clip or anything–it’s basically CGI of a man’s corpse dancing around. I’m sorry, but that’s just freaking creepy. (via)
Digital Orville Redenbacher freaks me right out. He is dead. Let’s let him be dead. Because Zombie Orville is just wrong, wrong, wrong. (via)
I just saw the scariest shit ever. A commercial for Orville Redenbacher popcorn in which they used the man himself as a spokesperson. Yes, he’s been dead for some time. They brought him back anyway. So beyond the questionable wisdom of using a dead man as your spokesman, they decided to go totally digital. So now it actually looks like they dug up the old man’s corpse and made it talk and move with marionette strings. The lips don’t even sync with the dialogue! (via)
Earlier Brew coverage of Zombie Redenbacher
UPDATE: Brew reader Tim Curtis says that he expressed his distaste for this commercial by visiting the ConAgra Foods contact page. The toll-free Redenbacher consumer line is 800/243-0303.
I’ve heard back from multiple readers who’ve emailed ConAgra and they’re sending out a form letter to everybody. That letter is below:
Your communication concerning the new Orville Redenbacher TV ads was most welcome, and we appreciate your taking the time to contact us.
We understand that using breakthrough technology in this way can raise some eyebrows. However, we have taken the utmost care to replicate Orville’s endearing personality and likeness. Our most important goal is to respect and advance the legacy of the brand’s founder. The Retro ads which have recently aired received an extremely positive reception from consumers, and with the breakthroughs in technology, we are now able to introduce Orville to a whole new generation!
The Redenbacher family is excited for Orville’s return to our advertising and marketing initiatives. Gary Redenbacher, who represents the Redenbacher family, has fully endorsed our direction and he is excited about ConAgra’s efforts to advance his grandfather’s legacy.
As we design future initiatives, your comments will be carefully considered. We appreciate the time you have taken to contact us and your interest in our products.
ConAgra Foods Consumer Affairs