That once a month thrill, a new edition of Steve Moore’s online animation magazine Flip, is here! Lots of great stuff, including Steve’s family road trip to Orlando, an interview with Patrick Smith and articles by Tom Sito, Darrell Rooney, Rebecca Rees and Aurelio O’Brien. Check it out here.
It’s funny how movie title sequences have now been moved to the back of the film. But that hasn’t stopped filmmakers from producing the occasional animated title sequence – which are traditionally better than the films that preceed them. Here is a link to a 2D oil-painted title sequence for the upcoming movie Love in the Time of Cholera (opening November 16th). Animator Paul Donnellon (of VooDooDog) is responsible for this one.
It’s just one of about two dozen collected by SubmarineChannel.com, which has begun gathering recent animated movie titles under the banner “Forget the Film, Watch the Titles”. This is a long term, on-going project to compile the best work in this field. It’s not just character animation: 3D, Motion Graphics and Mixed Media titles are also on display. Well worth a look.
If the Hollywood establishment isn’t producing the kind of animation you want to see, it may be time to take matters into your own hands. Case in point: this work-in-progress trailer (below) for a locally produced“hip-hop meets anime” feature called Blokhedz. Production designer and VFX supervisor Joshua Geisler sent me some information on the project:
We are a small independent company in L.A. attempting to create this film with a limited budget. The film is based on a comic book mini-series of the same title, and follows roughly the same story line. Earlier this year we produced a short animation test / proof-of-concept piece using 2D character animation and 3D backgrounds. I am the background artist on the piece, and I supervised the compositing of the project. It’s a little rough around the edges, but we learned a lot from the process and we are feverishly working on our design pack to refine character construction and effects development.
I really like the graffitti-styled effects animation. It may not be everyone’s cup of tea, but its creators are passionate, ambitious and serious about making it work. Good luck to them.
It’s an encouraging sign for the development of CG animation that we are increasingly seeing young artists creating computer work that is non-photoreal and more evocative than descriptive. A prime example of this is a piece we wrote about a while back: RGBXYZ by David O’Reilly. A more recent bit of stylized CG that came my way is the short Elk Cloner by student filmmaker Jason Fletcher, aka Isoceles, who created it at SAIC. Even after reading the artist statement and supporting documentation (Elk Cloner was an early computer virus that infected the Apple II), I can’t say I have much of a clue of what it’s about. But is a piece worth recommending, and features an original filmmaking voice combined with a refreshingly abstract approach to CGI.
At the Ottawa International Animation Festival last week, attendees recieved a unique little publicity piece. An eight-inch round cardboard disc which, on the front, was a colorful overview of Disney Feature animation through the decades. On the rear (pictured above) was a somewhat complete listing of all Disney commercially released shorts and features.
Click on the above to see a larger, readable image. All the features seem to be there, but is this really every animated short? I haven’t gone through it with a fine tooth comb… Not to be a complete geek about it, but weren’t there a few oddities that should be included? John Henry (2000)? Off His Rockers (1992)? Oilspot and Lipstick (1987)? I can understand why the Timon & Pumbaa short (Stand By Me) and the Bonkers theatrical were left off. They were really produced by other departments. Does anyone want to check for other omissions?
Bucky and Pepito is considered by many to be one of the worst cartoons ever made. Harry McCracken once claimed the series “set a standard for awfulness that no contemporary TV cartoon has managed to surpass.”
That makes it a perfect candidate for our podcast Cartoon Dump.Episode #3 is now up at CartoonBrewFilms.com and we promise to post a new one each week for the next three weeks. Check it out – it’s free!
It collects the first 31 (of 260) made for TV Felix cartoons made by Joe Oriolo in 1958-59. Jack Mercer (voice of Popeye) provides the voices (all of them) and the limited animation is provided by Fleischer/Famous and Terrytoon veterans including Al Eugster, Tom Johnson, Steve Muffatti and especially Jim Tyer (I spotted at least five Tyer tour-de-forces, The Gold Fruit Tree, Felix’s Gold Mine, Do-It-Yourself Monster Kit, Felix The Cat Suit and The Gold Car and The County Fair). The Tyer cartoons are particularly fun – lots of crazy poses and extreme reactions, as expected.
It’s really worth it for the Tyer shorts alone – but there are several nice bonus features included: Felix’s debut short from 1919, Feline Follies, a promo reel of TV Felix commercial spots, the opening theme song in Spanish and Japanese, and an interview with John Canemaker providing a concise historial overview of the character’s history. The cartoons themselves have been restored from 35mm master elements and look and sound great. Even the package design is pleasing. I guess I like these cartoons for nostalgic reasons. I grew up watching them every day. They are a far cry from the Messmer classics, but a real guilty pleasure for many of us baby boomers. It goes on sale Oct. 2nd.
Bonhams & Butterfields next entertainment memorabilia auction, on Sunday December 9th, will contain animation art from the Estate of Bill Tytla, one of the greatest animators of all time. According to their press release:
The collection includes a cel, animation drawings and preliminary drawings including a celluloid of the character “Chernabog” from Fantasia. The 1940 gouache on celluloid, a close-up of Chernabog’s face (above) from the Night on Bald Mountain sequence, is matted and framed, the 10 x 12-inch work expected to bring $600-800 at auction.
Click on cel above for a larger image. All items for sale in this auction will be posted next month on this page.
Independent animator Jeff Scher (who won the New Media prize in Ottawa on Sunday for his TimesSelect piece L’eau Life) made another little film of note, Lost and Found, by tracing over several bits of Fleischer, Van Beuren and Felix animation. I love stuff like this. It’s fun, and takes nothing away from the original works (and may encourage artier types to take a closer look at classic cartoons).
Here’s a contest for the super-nerds in our readership (and I use the tern super-nerds in the most affectionate way – I’m one, too). Whoever is first to name all the clips rotoscoped in Lost and Found will win a brand new DVD collection: Felix the Cat: The Complete 1958-1959 Series. I will select the winner (at my discretion) from comments recieved today (9/25). Winner will be announced on Wednesday.
Congrats to our friend, and the animation art form’s friend, John Canemaker, who won an Emmy award last night at the 28th Annual News & Documentary Emmy Awards. His film, The Moon and the Son: An Imagined Conversation, which has already won the 2005 Oscar for Best Animated Short, took home the Emmy in the category of “Outstanding Individual Achievement in a Craft: Graphic & Artistic Design.”
Additionally, John will be honored in Italy this October at the 26th annual Giornate del Cinema Muto in Pordenone, Italy. He will be the first animation historian to receive the Jean Mitry Award, which is awarded to an individual or institution for their “reclamation and appreciation of silent cinema.” We are aware you are a true pioneer,” write Giornate Festival organizers Livio Jacob and Piera Patat, “making claims for the importance of Winsor McCay and Otto Messmer when even silent film historians were ignoring them.”
For those who doubt it – Hand drawn animated features are alive and well in Europe. Case in point: Die Drei Rauber (The Three Robbers).
Unfortunetly, as stated here before, this is one of dozens of foreign animated films produced every year that don’t get distributed in North America. Our friend Sinem Sakaoglu writes:
I thought it might interest you to know we’ll soon be premiering (so far only in Germany and France) the feature version of The Three Robbers (based on the book by Tomi Ungerer; Gene Deitch produced a six minute short version for Weston Woods in 1972)
It was a relatively small crew that made it all happen and though I now have a few more gray hairs than when I started the project (I did production management and overseas supervision), it was a fun and rewarding time… Hope it gets over to the other side of the pond.
Another quick little plug for our Cartoon Dump live comedy show tonight in Hollywood. Join us at 8pm.
Guest comedians Andy Kindler and Michelle Maryk join our regular cast, Frank Conniff, Joel Hodgson, Kathleen Roll, Erica Doering, Joe Keys and Eddie Pepitone and me, in presenting the worst cartoons ever!