One of my favorite groups is They Might Be Giants and all their work is worth celebrating. But this cute/subversive new animated video by Rob Shaw of Bent Image Lab is a real treat. All I can say is, I’m Impressed.
(Thanks, Blue Delliquanti)
It seems I can’t escape animation no matter where I go. For example, take last week when I was in San Francisco attending an advertising conference in the beautiful Presidio. During a break from the activities, I decided to take a little walk around the grounds. I noticed there was heavy construction going on around a couple of the buildings so I decided to check out what they were doing. It turns out that it’s the future home of the Walt Disney Family Museum, which is scheduled to open in August 2009.
The idea of situating a museum in a city in which Walt had few connections to may seem like a poor idea, but having seen the location in person, I couldn’t help but notice how perfectly the buildings being used for the museum capture the spirit of Walt Disney. It’s not just that they’re old buildings but their setting in the Presidio creates a sense of good old-fashioned Americana that simply feels right. Such a brilliant decision about where to place the museum leads me to believe that the Disney Family Foundation, run by Disney’s grandson Walter Elias Disney Miller, will be making other intelligent choices about the museum in the future, which offers a reason to look forward to their activities.
Here are a few more pics from my walk. The building below, #104, is a 19th century military barrack that will house the main musuem, cafe, gift shop and 115-seat lecture hall. (Click on the pic for a bigger version.) Some of the items that will be on display in the museum can be viewed at the museum’s website.
This next building, #122, originally a gymnasium built in 1904, is located behind the first building. It will rehabbed to house the Foundation’s research, archive and education functions, and to provide a gallery space for visiting exhibits.
I didn’t see the third building but apparently that will be used mostly for housing mechanical equipment and providing behind-the-scenes support to the two main buildings . Here’s an info sheet posted by one of the buildings. Click on it for a readable version.
This just in! Another candidate for my Comic Con program,Worst Cartoons Ever!…
Talk about motion capture! It takes the Clutch Cargo/Syncho Vox concept to a whole new level. Director Peter Avanzino (Futurama) found this test clip (circa 1962) posted by Something Weird Video on YouTube. Pete thinks this technique might be good for a Beowulf remake.
The clip is credited to Leon H. Maurer, who has quite an impressive resume, and is apparently related to Norman Maurer (comic book artist, film director, Moe Howard’s son-in-law), who used a similar process (called “Cinemagic”) in his 1960 feature film, The Angry Red Planet. In 1955 Leon started Illustrated Films, Inc. (with Norman) and they co-invented Artiscope, a “full animation-by-automation” system (per Leon’s resume, “Realistic character animation without artists – world’s first practical “real-time motion capture” system”). If anyone can shed any further light on this technique, please let us know.
It’s me (above left) – with animators Xeth Feinberg (Queer Duck) and Joey Ahlbum (Sesame Street, etc.) at Patrick Smith’s packed gallery opening on Tuesday night in SoHo. I did so much talking on Monday and Tuesday I completely lost my voice on Wednesday. That was okay, as all I had to do was fly to Ottawa and go to two screenings… (I’ll report on those later). Pat’s art is amazing. If you are in New York this month, check it out at the CVZ Gallery (through Oct. 16th).
These two recent music vid discoveries make me very happy.
Ã¢â‚¬Â¢ “Umo” is a primarily stop motion video directed by Shoji Goto for the all-female Japanese group OOIOO. The energetic uninhibited filmmaking in this piece is a true delight. Peep it here or download a better quality Quicktime version here (28mb).
Ã¢â‚¬Â¢ “Frog Dance” is an inspired bit of Flash animation by Jamie Mason (aka Hobo Divine) produced for the Nick Jr. series Yo Gabba Gabba. It’s mighty rare to see anybody today pull off this type of super-limited animation with such charm and vitality. (via)
The 2007 edition of the Ottawa International Animation Festival kicks off today, and as always, Ottawa’s artistic director Chris Robinson has pulled together a solid lineup of programs. Sadly I can’t make it this year, but if I were going, here are some of the things I’d be checking out:
Ã¢â‚¬Â¢ The opening night feature: Persepolis.
Ã¢â‚¬Â¢ The International Showcase screening which includes the world premiere of the Goofy short How to Hook Up Your Home Theater, the first film to come out of Disney Animation’s new shorts program.
Ã¢â‚¬Â¢ A lot of design-oriented programs this year including a four-part UPA retrospective, a tribute to Zagreb Film director DuÃ…Â¡an VukotiÃ„â€¡, and a program showing animation influenced by New Yorker cartoonist Saul Steinberg.
Ã¢â‚¬Â¢ The competition screenings are always one of the strongest parts of Ottawa, and this year’s selections are no exception. All of this year’s major shorts are playing up there including Koji Yamamura’s A Country Doctor, Luis Cook’s Pearce Sisters, Chris Lavis and Maciek Szczerbowski’s Madame Tutli-Putli and Don Hertzfeldt’s Everything Will Be OK, but there’s always a lot of pleasant unexpected discoveries at Ottawa as well.
It’s that time of the month again to bring some attention to Cartoon Network’s repudiation of cartoons in favor of transforming itself into a second-rate knockoff of Disney Channel and Nick. Yesterday’s Hollywood Reporter offered details on the network’s latest live-action project: a pilot deal with actor David Duchovny. According to the article, the show “centers on a junior high school student from a long line of newsmen who turns his school AV Club into a hard-hitting citywide broadcast.” For the project, Duchovny is teamed up with producers of live-action kids shows that had aired on Disney Channel and Nick like Even Stevens and The Secret Life of Alex Mack.
Additionally, throughout the month of October, Cartoon Network will be airing nightly reruns of the live-action series Goosebumps. An original live-action made-for-TV movie of their animated series Ben 10 will debut in November. And last week, CN debuted the live-action/animated series Out of Jimmy’s Head, a spinoff to their live-action film Re-Animated.
Earlier coverage of live-action on Cartoon Network:
Our first post in April 2006
Most Ironic Exec Quote of the Week
More About The New Live-Action CN
Cartoon Network’s Re-Animated
Another Live-Action Show On
This new video posted onto YouTube showcases some of the cartoonier moments (in slo-mo) from early Simpsons episodes. According to the video creator, they were animated by David Silverman. Looking at the show today, it’s difficult to believe that the Simpsons ever featured such entertaining animation-driven moments. (Update: Part 1 was removed from YouTube due to a “copyright violation” claim by Fox, but we’ve posted the second part below which highlights more Silverman animation.)
And here is director/animator David Silverman demonstrating another of his passions: the tuba (at Burning Man no less).
The young Santa Monica animation studio Three Legged Legs continues to impress with each new project they turn out. Reza Rasoli, one of the principals in the studio, wrote to give me a heads up on their latest campaign, “XGames” for Amp energy drink. The three Amp feature the most extensive traditional character animation that they’ve produced to date. They’ve also posted an excellent case study that showcases the artistic talent and concept artwork behind the Amp spots.
I’m in New York today and having a blast with barely any time to read email or blog. The weather is really beautiful this week and that may have something to do with how much I’m enjoying the city. Had a great screening last night at ASIFA-East, and thanks to all the Brew readersÃ¢â‚¬”and all my big city buddiesÃ¢â‚¬”who showed up to razz the Worst Cartoons Ever.
Right before the screening I tried checking in with Fred Seibert. He was in L.A., so Lee Rubinstein and Jeaux Janovsky (pictured below right) showed me around the Frederator/Next New Networks offices – we sat in Fred’s office and looked at all his DVDs. I stole one of those Frederator awards, but I traded it back to Jeaux for a can of ginger ale. Tonight I’ll try to crash the Pat Smith opening, then off to Ottawa for the animation festival tomorrow.
I’ve gotten more than several emails from readers concerned about edits, cuts and omissions from forthcoming Popeye and Looney Tunes DVD collections. Let me assure you that classic cartoons on both these series will remain uncensored on their upcoming DVD releases. Scenes, such as this brilliant take-off on Cab Calloway (that’s Porky Pig above, in Frank Tashlin’s Porky At The Crocadero), remain completely intact in Looney Tunes Golden Collection Vol. 5.
In fact, the DVD will not only include the uncut suicide gag from Clampett’s Hare Ribbin’ (two frames pictured below), in which Bugs hands his opponent a weapon to blow his brains out, the DVD will also include the alternate “director’s cut” version (bottom image) in which Bugs Bunny himself pulls the trigger!
BCActionPoet.org is a delightful series of eleven bite-sized shorts, each set to a poem by US Poet Laureate Billy Collins and read in an amusingly dry tone by Collins himself. The films were commissioned by The Sundance Channel, in partnership with J. Walter Thompson, and the individual shorts were farmed out to various commerical animators. Some of the standout pieces which I thought were able to graphically complement and build upon, but not parrot, Collins’s evocative words, were “The Last Cigarette” by Will Hyde of Superfad, “Forgetfulness” by Julian Grey of Toronto’s Head Gear Animation, and “No Time” animated by Jeff Scher.
(Thanks, Toby Barlow)
A lot of readers seemed to enjoy the first Animation History Round-Up posted here a few weeks ago, so here’s another guide to rare cartoon history recently posted online.
David Nethery shares a rare 1963 magazine article by Twice Upon a Time director John Korty offering tips on how to get started in animation. My favorite tip from Korty: “Don’t be afraid to shoot 20, 40 or 80 frames without movement.”
Jenny Lerew discovers a superrare storybook with beautiful concept drawings from the “Dance of the Hours” sequence in Fantasia.
An excellent compilation of clips highlighting the work of overlooked animator Pat Matthews from 1940s Walter Lantz cartoons.
Thad Komorowski nominates this piece of Jim Tyer animation as the “best eating scene ever in an animated cartoon.” It’s a great bit of animation but I want to hear your nominees.
Mark Evanier writes about a rare piece of Gene Deitch animation on YouTube: the opening titles to the TV series Mischief Makers (1960), produced by Deitch’s own company, Gene Deitch Associates.
Michael Sporn offers a frame grab set of Richard Williams’s animated titles for the 1966 live-action feature A Funny Thing Happened On The Way To The Forum.
Certainly quite a bit different from this amusing theatrical spot for Johnson’s cleaners that Richard Williams directed in the 1960s.
(Williams ad via Poptique)
We’ve extended the pre-order deadline for the new Cartoon Brew book Inside UPA. All orders via Paypal, or postmarked in the mail, by this Tuesday, September 18, can take advantage of the cheaper price of $35 (plus S&H). After that, the price will become $45. All proceeds from this limited edition book will go towards the funding of the UPA documentary project headed up by Tee Bosustow, son of UPA co-founder Stephen Bosustow. For more details, see this earlier post on the Brew and to pre-order your discounted copy visit UPApix.com. With only one thousand copies being published, it won’t be around for long, and it certainly won’t be this cheap again after a couple more days.
New York animator Patrick Smith, who has also created numerous public art installations throughout the years, is making a major entry into the fine art world. His first one-man show, “Configurations,” opens this Tuesday, September 18, at CVZ Contemporary Gallery in SoHo (446 Broadway, 5th Floor, New York, NY, 10013). The opening reception is from 6-10pm. Two of the acrylics from the show can be seen above (larger versions here).
Smith says of these paintings, “Using the figure as a building block, intertwining with other figures, is a powerful method of constructing a broader configuration. The concept of people supporting others to achieve something larger than themselves can have a sublime result, and itÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s something that I enjoy illustrating.” To my eyes though, while some of the characters look like they’re cooperating and helping one another, others look like they’re taking advantage of one another to pull ahead. It lends an intriguing complexity to the true intent of these contorted and expressionless figures. Here is a time-lapse video showing the creation of one of these paintings.
In today’s edition of South Florida’s Sun-Sentinel, television columnist Tom Jicha answers reader’s mail. Here is a slightly edited version of today’s first question (you can read the complete version here):
Q. What do you think of adults watching cartoons? Since your sense of humor is counterintuitive, I assume you won’t even dignify an adult watching a cartoon. But the writing in cartoons is sometimes brilliant and the jokes go way over most kids’ heads. I’d appreciate your opinion on adult cartoon watching. – S.E., via e-mail
A. If you’re out of your teens and still watching Bugs Bunny and Donald Duck, I don’t think I’d want you baby-sitting my kids. But The Simpsons, King of the Hill, Family Guy and South Park are among the smartest shows on TV. Cartoon Network’s Adult Swim apparently has some gems, too, although they’re not on my TiVo Season-Pass list. Going back a bit, Rocky and Bullwinkle worked for adults and kids for different reasons. I still get a kick out of those on DVD.
Well I don’t know about you, but as someone who still enjoys Bugs Bunny and Donald Duck – often over the antics of South Park and Family Guy – I’m insulted. Couldn’t Jicha have chosen two other characters to make his point than Bugs and Donald? Couldn’t he have used Clifford and Blue’s Clues? What would you suggest?
Here’s a book that I recently picked up. The unlikely pairing of Schulz and Disney on a book cover was simply too good to pass up. The cover also offers the interesting revelation that when Schulz draws adults, they end up looking like King of the Hill characters. Thankfully it’s not something he did often.
Click on the front and back cover images for larger views.
Of course I couldn’t help but think about how far we’ve come from those cheapie Marvel Super Heroes cartoons from the late 1960s. Actually. most of us who grew up with these god-awful things have fond memories of them. At the time, it was all we had. Among its assets, John Vernon (“Dean Wormer” from Animal House) as the voice of Tony Stark (he also did double duty as Sub-Mariner), and the Iron Man theme song is a classic.
I’m not sure what’s going on here, but something tells me this isn’t the type of family entertainment Walt had in mind when he started Disneyland.
(via Boing Boing)
From Thursday’s Wall Street Journal:
Score one for the nerds! Shares of Japanese companies involved in the production of animated films and comic books soared in Tokyo Wednesday amid speculation that Taro Aso, secretary-general of Japan’s Liberal Democratic Party — and a well-known comic-book fan — may be the nation’s next prime minister. Following Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s surprise resignation, shares linked to hobbies associated with “otaku,” or nerds, jumped.
In May, while serving as Japan’s foreign minister, Mr. Aso unveiled plans to establish the International Manga Award to recognize foreign cartoonists. When the winners were announced in July, Mr. Aso told Kyodo News, “It is my hope that manga, through these works, will act as a bridge to the world.” Mr. Aso’s official Web site contains an ode to “manga” published in August that praises the genre for lifting Japan’s standing on the international stage and urges his countrymen to be proud of this success.
Check this out. Starting last month a portion Eric Calande’s Looney Tunes collection went on display at the San Francisco International Airport. The show is located in the international terminal (section A2) and consists of 20 cases worth of material featuring vintage production artwork and rare collectibles. The show is FREE to see and because it sits out side of the security area there is no need to be a ticketed passenger. If you are in the Bay area, or planning to fly through it, the terminal will display the exhibit through March 2008.
A new short (notably our first foreign one) launches this afternoon on CartoonBrewFilms: Carnivore Reflux directed by Eddie White and James Calvert of the People’s Republic of Animation, a young and quickly rising Australian animation studio. Stay tuned for many more terrific animated shorts, both international and domestic, set to debut on BrewFilms in the coming months.
Animator director Ward Jenkins has posted an interview on his blog with writer and historian Taylor Jessen, the foremost chronicler of the innovative and overlooked animated film Twice Upon a Time (1983). Ward also interviewed the film’s art director Harley Jessup and will be posting that discussion next.
UPDATE: Let’s try this again. I apologize that the post didn’t appear on the Cartoon Modern blog last night. A funky accident deleted the post and forced me to rewrite the whole thing. It’s up now.
This evening I posted a rare bit of previously lost animation history on the Cartoon Modern blog: photographs from the 1955 UPA tribute at MoMA. While I knew about this exhibit, I had never seen any photos from the show or had any idea how the artwork was presented. A couple months ago though, while working on Inside UPA, we discovered this set of photos in a storage box. These pics offer a terrific sense what it might have been like to attend this show in the 1950s.
And if you want a sense of what it was like to actually work at the UPA studio, be sure to pick up a copy of the forthcoming Cartoon Brew book Inside UPA. You can lock in the lower pre-order price if you buy the book by this Saturday, September 15. The print run is only 1000 copies and quite a few are gone already.