Art director (Little Mermaid) and production designer (Jimmy Neutron) Fred Cline has just started a blog. Cline was mentored by Lee and Mary Blair in his younger days, and is researching their careers. We need to get him to post video of the rare commercials he has in his possession. He’s also researching the career of Hugh Harman. And maybe he’ll discuss the project he’s working on at Laika. It’s all at Fred World.
“Jaws of Life” is a freshly styled music video for the Canadian band Wintersleep directed by Sean Wainsteim (with James Mejia). Wainsteim describes the video as, “A surreal urban environment filled with animals struggling with their humanity, bizarre gems, a giant transforming robotic deer on a rampage and much more.” The video was conceptualized by Wintersleep’s lead singer Paul Murphy, fine artist James Mejia and Wainsteim.
I really enjoyed the uninhibited creativity of the piece and wanted to find out more about the production. Here are some notes from Sean about the making of this video from a recent email exchange I had with him:
This was a labour of love. This is video number five (or six) that I’ve done for this band.Took about a month and a half. The grind was mostly late nights for me for a long time, but I worked with a handful of very talented animators and designers who gave up evenings and weekends from their day jobs to lend some time.
Much of the look is derived from the artwork of designer James Mejia whose style of mixing photo cutouts with unique painted techniques was first used in an earlier Wintersleep video Danse Macabre, and expanded for this project.
We shot SLR stills on a nearby rooftop with another musician as the protagonist and then again with myself as the pigeon headed characters. Except for the images on the television screens, all of the characters in the video were shot on a digital SLR still camera. Everything was hand cut out deliberately loose and quick. This was an aesthetic decision…otherwise bluescreen would have been faster and better – but we wanted to see a different background peeking through.
Pretty much only used Adobe After Effects and Photoshop…and wood n’paint and an SLR cam. Many, many hours of handcrafting minute details, both in and out of the computer, were imperative to maintain the warm and highly detailed feel.
CREDITS (partial list)
Music video: Wintersleep “Jaws of Life” (Labwork Music)
Director: Sean Wainsteim (with James Mejia)
Production company: Sean Wainsteim
Staring Glenn Milchem as “The Man”
Painted Backgrounds: James Mejia
Storyboards and post corrections: Steve Wilson
Cinematography: Vinit Borrison (stills), Andrew MacDonald (live-action)
Animation and Visual FX: Nick Fairhead, Joel Tellier, Sean Conly, Arvydas Slabosevicius, Sean Wainsteim
Typography design: Jenny McCracken
Cut-Outs: Clint Lavado, Rachel Vulliens
Funded in part through generous grants from VideoFACT and FACTOR CANADA.
Courtesy of our pals at The Animation Show we have four copies of the new dvd set of the ANIMATION SHOW Volumes 1 & 2 just out from Paramount and MTV Home Entertainment. The first four entrants that answered the question posted earlier today won one of these beauties.
CONTEST NOW CLOSED!
Our winners were Stewart Shaw of St. Albert, Alberta, Canada; Raymond Delgadillo of Pico Rivera, CA.; Ian Jones-Quartey of Brooklyn, NY; and George Col–n of Hayward, CA.
Not sure what’s better – the title of the blog or the actual blog itself. “Mary Blair Cannot Be Killed” is an irreverent but loving tribute to the lasting impact of Blair’s work. The site is new but there’s already lots of fun artwork by various contemporary animation artists including the piece above by Joe Orrantia. And just for the sake of posterity, let me reprint the wickedly cool blog intro here:
The night air stinking with the pungent aroma of perfume, gin and Lady Chesterfields, the celebrated Disney colorist, water color artist and illustrator terrorizes the night and kills everything she sees. Never in the history of the United States has a monster of such size and power, and horrifying hatred of man made itself known! Say your prayers because MARY BLAIR CAN NOT BE KILLED!
(via Thinking Animation Blog)
Last month we posted links to some vintage French and German animated commercials. Now here’s a here whole bunch of 1960s and ’70s animated commercials from Italy. And if you liked those, there’s a lot more ’60s spots at MondoCarosello.com including this Bruno Bozzetto one and some fun TV show bumpers. I didn’t really see many spots that had stand-out animation, but there’s some interesting design throughout, and considering how rare these are, they’re certainly worth a look.
(Thanks, Michael Pinto)
Today is a big day for our friends at the Animation Show. It marks both the theatrical premiere of their third edition as well as the release of the ANIMATION SHOW Volumes 1 & 2 Box Set. Mike Judge and Don Hertzfeldt deserve props for creating the Animation Show and providing a way for US animation fans to see quality animated shorts on the bigscreen.
The Animation Show has generously offered 4 boxed sets for us to give away to Cartoon Brew readers. We’ll ask a trivia question tomorrow morning, Wednesday, at 9am Pacific (12ET), and the first four people to answer correctly will each receive a set. The dvd is packed with tons of superb films including MT. HEAD, WHEN THE DAY BREAKS, WARD 13, HELLO, THE MEANING OF LIFE, GUARD DOG and ARIA. It also includes commentaries by Bill Plympton, Corky Quakenbush and Don Hertzfeldt, bonus materials for various shorts, and a mini-documentary about the history of the animated short.
The new theatrical edition premieres tonight in Santa Barbera and Seattle. It’s also playing this week in Boston, Portland, Tuscon and New Brunswick, NJ. For a complete list of cities, go HERE. Here’s the trailer for the third edition:
Files this one under “Commercials For People Who Can’t Get Enough Of Polar Express and Monster House.” Apparently the people who own the Orville Redenbacher popcorn brand feel they can boost sales if they reintroduce their dead pitchman as a grotesque Uncanny Valley-esque CG character. There’s an article in USA TODAY about the new spot along with a short clip. I love this quote from the ad agency guy: “We don’t want people to fall over and faint because Orville’s back.” Somehow, I doubt they’ll be experiencing that problem.
For the record, here’s the appealing real Mr. Redenbacher:
The first footage for Disney’s upcoming live-action/2d-animated film ENCHANTED has appeared online. A few seconds can be seen at the tail end of this unbelievably annoying Disney promo. Before anybody starts complaining about the generic designs though, bear in mind that the film is parodying these Disney stereotypes.The hand-drawn animation is being produced by James Baxter’s studio. Character designer Harald Siepermann has posted a page of his character designs for the film on his blog.
Jeff Jonas, an artist at Sony Online Entertainment and the the son of Golden Age animation artist Homer Jonas, has written some hilarious memories of working as a Hanna-Barbera copy boy in the 1970s when he was still a teenager. He offers a disclaimer in the piece:
Sorry these reminiscences are not politically correct, but the world was not PC back then. They smoked and swore and cursed. Some of the tough gals would call me Homer’s puppy, they said I needed a collar and leash…. all this through the cigarette smoke. Yikes… run away!
Still, I’d take Seventies H-B any day over the gloomy corporate boardroom vibe of contemporary LA animation studios. I can’t remember the last time I visited a studio in LA where I didn’t leave feeling depressed and blue.
Kip W has posted some amazing animation artifacts on Flickr: coverage of the 1941 Disney strike as reported in New York’s leftist daily paper PM. There’s some great cartoon drawings and photos (like the one above) in the articles. Kip initially posted these in Cartoon Brew’s Animation History Archive group on Flickr. Feel free to join – lots of folks are sharing stuff from their collections as we unearth rare cartoon history together.
Here’s a short video of Iwao Takamoto drawing a famous Hanna-Barbera character not designed by him. The video was posted by background painter Tristin Cole.
Girl animation artists drawing girls. Cool. It’s a new book, it’s a gallery show, it’s an event on January 20th at Pehr Space in Los Angeles (near Echo Park). The gals include Anand Duncan (Disney), Anne Walker (Renegade), Nicole Filiatrault (South Park), Shannon O’Connor (Iron Giant), Crystal Chesney (Looney Tunes: Back In Action) and a whole slew from The Simpsons, including Melody Severns, Debbie Bruce, Nancy Kruse, and Jenny Moeller. More info at the Girls Drawin Girls website.
Forget Astro Boy! Digital Meme has announced an upcoming release of a new DVD collection of vintage Japanese anime that predates Tezuka’s classic by thirty years! The set includes fifty five rare cartoons from the Golden Age of Japanese silent film and early talkie period.
Japanese Anime Classic Collection is a digital collection of hard-to-find anime produced from 1928 through 1936. Entertaining, exciting, and startling, the collection will be treasured by enthusiasts, who will find it a valuable reference tool for retracing Japanese animation from its early roots to what is now universally known as anime. Presented chronologically, these anime have been painstakingly digitally reproduced for DVD viewing. Nothing has been altered or edited except for the integration of music in some titles.Some selections in the set are “record talkies.” These anime came to theaters together with a gramophone record, which provided a separate, simultaneous audio track with music, voice, and effects.
I don’t know about you, but I’m very intrigued. The price is $110.00 (or $40.00 per DVD when sold separately) and it’s scheduled for release on April, 30th 2007. For further details, please check Digital Meme’s website.
What happens when five Pixar animators get together to talk animation? The results are in this Spline Doctors podcast. The participating animators are Adam Burke, Angus MacLane, Scott Clark, Stephen Gregory and Andrew Gordon. Haven’t listened to it yet but I know what I’ll be putting onto my iPod this weekend.
The animation industries in North America and Europe may be healthy, but the numbers presented in this newspaper article from Chinese news agency Xinhua are staggering. Can anybody say Chinese animation boom:
* In 2006, China produced more than 81,000 minutes of animation, more than China’s aggregate output between 1993 and 2003.
* By October 2006, nearly 5,500 animation studios had been founded in China. (I’m skeptical of this number, but even 10% of that would be over 500 studios. That’s a lot.)
* There are 447 universities in China with animation departments, and an additional 1,230 schools with professional training for cartoonists.
* Over 64,000 students majoring in animation have graduated from universities with an additional 466,000 currently studying animation.
China’s neighbor, India, has been experiencing a similar boom of its own. This newspaper article from an article this week in Rediff offers some big numbers of its own:
* There are currently 300 animation companies in India employing approximately 12,000 people. An additional 3,000 freelancers work in the industry.
* At least 150 gaming companies also operate in India, employing 2,500 people. Over 13,000 people are expected to be employing in gaming by 2010.
Just to offer a little perspective on these, the largest animation union in the United States representing most major studios in LA, the Animation Guild Local 839 IATSE, currently has slighty over 2,100 active members, and at its all-time peak (in the mid-1990s), it topped out at 2500 members.
While it’s true that the large majority of animation work being produced in China and India is low-grade TV animation – the type of work that was being outsourced a decade or two ago to South Korea and the Philippines – there is an upside. If Korea is to serve as a model, once the outsourced work dries up, the large pool of trained talent will turn to producing their own original projects. Both the Chinese and Indian animation industries are in their infancies and it’s safe to say that we can expect to see a lot of exciting new work coming out of those countries over the coming years as their industries grow and mature.
(Xinhua article via CG Society)