“Sorrow of the Soldier” is a one-off animated music video released on the Internet today. The video, which protests the US occupation of Iraq, is a collaboration between a global roster of hip-hop artists from the US, UK, Japan and Europe. The animation by UK artist James Harvey achieves a striking look through mixing an illustrative style with bold graphic symbols, all in black-and-white with well-employed spots of color. The video’s website features multiple remix versionsÃ¢â‚¬”streaming on YouTube and available for hi-res download. Here’s more about the project from its press release:
The track, Ã¢â‚¬ËœSorrow of the SoldierÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ by US Rapper Mark Prysler, tells the story of Lucas, a working-class man who runs out of options in his own life and sees the army as an attractive means of escape. Upon deployment he finds the reality of the Iraq war is far removed from the fantasy sold to him by the Bush administration. The story is an analog for the experiences of many young men and women fighting in Iraq today and the lyrics call for direct action from the government.
Uniquely, the video has been simultaneously released in several different versions, each with a separate audio track by a different global collaborator. Each remix artist was asked to choose a Ã¢â‚¬ËœflavourÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ to represent themselves on the website. The standout Ã¢â‚¬ËœmintÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ version features production from HollandÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s DJ Donor, who has remixed artists such as Pharrell Williams, while Ã¢â‚¬ËœCheeseÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ flavour is remixed by Takashi Otagiri, the president of Tokyo Fun Party, a Japan-based dance music collective. More remixes are to be added to the website over the coming month from hip-hop artists from France, Germany, and both east and west coast America.
Circulating amongst the animation blogs this past week was a very shortlist of possible nominees in the Animation Short Film category. HereÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s what Academy members may be considering:
Even Pigeons Go To Heaven (Meme Les Pigeons Vont Au Paradis) (Samuel Tourneux) Animated in CG, tells the story of an elderly man who gets a sneak peak at the hereafter by a con-man minister. Funny. Link
How To Hook Up Your Home Theatre (Disney, Kevin Deters and Stevie Wermers-Skelton) Hilarious traditional hand drawn Goofy short. They nailed it! Link
I Met The Walrus (Josh Raskin) A 1969 recording of John Lennon animated with stream-of-consciousness graphics creates a powerful anti-war message, still painfully relevant. Link
Jeu (NFB, Georges Schwizgebel) A beautiful abstract moving painting. This one should be running continuously at the Museum of Modern Art. Link
Madame Tutli-Putli (NFB, Chris Lavis and Maciek Szczerbowski) Incredible stop-mo. A surreal head trip. Great filmmaking – how did they do those eyes? Link
My Love (Moya Lyubov) (Alexander Petrov) Magnificent painting on glass technique and a beautiful visualization of first love. Trailer
The Pearce Sisters (Aardman, Luis Cook) Dark, macabre humor with an incredible mix of 2D design and 3D animation. Link
Peter And The Wolf (Breakthru Films, Suzie Templeton) Charming, modern retelling of the Russian classic with edgy stop-mo puppets and realistic settings. Link
All seem Oscar-worthy to me. The final five nominees will be announced January 22nd. Good Luck to all!
Congrats to Brad Bird and Pixar. Ratatouille won the Golden Globe Award for Best Animated Feature at their non-event/press conference tonight.
You read that right!
Apparently you can purchase a hardcover copy of my book Pink Panther: The Ultimate Guide on Amazon.com for one copper penny (plus $3.99 shipping). Now you have no excuse not to own the only book with double page spreads on Hoot Kloot, Crazylegs Crane and The Blue Racer!
I love cereal and I love cereal box characters, so it’s no wonder I got a kick out of this week’s series of Mother Goose and Grimm comic strips.
(Thanks, “Uncle” Wayne Daigrepont)
I’ve been going ga-ga over the Disney and Pixar Little Golden Books for several years now. Jenny Lerew tipped us off to the new Ratatouille tie-in several weeks ago. I couldn’t find it on sale anywhere (I still use Amazon as a last resort), but loyal-friend-of-Brew Dana Gabbard just sent me a copy and now I’m recommending it to everyone.
Pixar and Disney have opted to illustrate Little Golden Books for their current features in the classic style of the 1950s Golden Book artists. This new book, an adaptation of the Pixar 2D short Your Friend The Rat, which was itself an homage to Ward Kimball’s Disneyland educational TV shows, is brilliantly conceived by writer Jim Capobianco and designer Nate Wragg (both of Pixar) and illustrated by ten of Pixar’s finest (including Teddy Newton, Jeff Pidgeon, Scott Morse, et al). Twenty-four pages of artistic genius (including the sheet music for the short’s theme song, Plan B) for only $2.99. This may be the first Little Golden Book worthy of setting on your coffee table next to The Art Of The Incredibles and Cartoon Modern! Here’s the link.
Please meet one of the most refreshingly original and funny animated series I’ve run across in a while: Usavich produced by Kanaban Graphics in Japan. The CG animation is funny beyond words, the gags are jam-packed and fresh, and the design is a stunningly distinctive picture-book illustration style. The show’s website Usavich.tv offers 14 of the 26 episodes produced to date, every one of them under two minutes. The entire production is so fun-spirited and well-done, what more can one ask for; I’ve watched all of the available episodes in the past day and still want to see more!
Description is useless for the series. Let’s just say it’s the slightly surreal adventures of an odd couple pair of Russian rabbit inmates who share a jail cell with a frog and a bird. The first season takes place behind bars, the second season follows them on the run in a stolen car. Every episode is solid, and there is a storyline, so it’s best to watch them in order, but two of the most entertaining entries, in my opinion, are this one and this one.
If anybody knows more details about these shorts, please share. The series looks to have some backing by MTV Japan, but there hasn’t been much discussion online about the show so it’s unclear whether it’s new or has been around for a while. I only found out about it the other day on Motionographer. Animator Peter Richardson also posted some praise for the show on his blog. He writes, “[I]t’s tricky to tell which features are in the painted textures and which are shaders and lighting. Perfectly balanced…it goes to show what’s to be gained from a thoughtful and thorough integration of textures and lighting.”
Twenty-two-year-old animation wunderkind David O’Reilly, who we’ve mentioned frequently on Cartoon Brew (here, here and here), was asked to create an original piece of animation for BoingBoing.tv. The resulting piece is a ‘history of animation’ from Disney through John K, and beyond to CG. In a humorous manner, O’Reilly makes a thoughtful point: that CG animation represents a quantum-leap forward in the development of this art form because it offers the possibility for a clear break from traditional reality-rooted styles of animation. Instead of replicating existing worlds, CG offers the chance to create entirely new worlds, an opportunity that few artists have explored to date.
Chris Robinson’s Canadian Animation: Looking for A Place to Happen is one more to add to the list of animation books I’m looking forward to reading in 2008, alongside Stepping into the Picture: Cartoon Designer Maurice Noble and Unfiltered: The Complete Ralph Bakshi. The book will be published in September 2008 by John Libbey Publishing. From the description posted on Chris’s blog, it sounds like an On the Road for the animation set, and if anybody can pull that off, it’s Robinson:
In 2007, writer Chris Robinson traveled across Canada to meet with some of the countryÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s leading independent animation filmmakers. Along the way, Robinson muses about the animation art form in Canada and his own relationship to the scene and personalities, many of whom are friends and colleagues. As he travels from place to place he carries along his own private (and sometimes not-so private) struggles with insomnia, depression, identity, cab drivers, hobos and nobos and the shocking murder of animator Helen Hill, whose life and work embody many of the themes that colour these conversations.
With the intimate detail of a diary, Canadian Animation: Looking for a Place to Happen weaves together history, memoir and dream into a mesmerizing and candid portrait of Canadian animation, art, doing, drifting and dying.
Lavishly illustrated, the bookÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s cast includes award-winning animators Marv Newland (Bambi Meets Godzilla), Chris Landreth (Ryan), Chris Hinton (Nibbles), David Fine (Bob and Margaret, Ricky Sprocket), Wendy Tilby (When the Day Breaks), Anne-Marie Fleming, Torill Kove (The Danish Poet), Claude Cloutier (Sleeping Betty), Janet Perlman (Why Me?) and many more.
Attention UK folk. The Projector animation festival takes place in Dundee, Scotland from January 30 through February 2. I was a guest of the festival during its previous edition in 2006 and I had one of the best times I’ve ever had at an animation festival. It’s an intimate gathering, nothing on the scale of an Annecy or Ottawa, but that is precisely what I enjoyed so much about it. Feisty festival director Susie Wilson manages to always bring together an eclectic group of artists, authors and thinkers, and the low-key setting allows everybody to get to know one another. There are also a couple animation schools in Dundee, which ensures plenty of energetic students at the screenings.
This year’s special guests who will be presenting masterclasses are Phil Mulloy, Bill Plympton, Abi Feijo, Regina Pessoa and Sharon Colman. Other programs include a talk by author Jonathan Clements about the rise of digital animation in Japan, a program of typography in animation and motion graphics curated by Jayne Pilling, and an “Acting for Animators” workshop presented by Ed Hooks. There are also plenty of screenings of recent animated shorts, as well as features including Free Jimmy, Persepolis, Paprika and The Three Musketeers.
A couple tips for festival attendees: For the most enjoyable Projector experience, do not suggest to the festival director that all of Scotland’s castles should be torn down. For that matter, do not suggest this to anybody in Scotland if you value your health and well-being. Also, no trip to Dundee is complete without a late-night session or two at Fat Sams. You’ll just have to take my word for this.
Ticket info and further details are at ProjectorFest.com.
Me, extolling the wonders of Dundee in ’06. Photo by Fiona Barty
UPA theatrical cartoons on the big screen are a rarity nowadays which is why I’m happy to point to an East Coast screening of Mister Magoo shorts this coming Monday, January 14, at the Jacob Burns Film Center (364 Manville Road, Pleasantville, NY). Most intriguingly, the show listing promises NEW prints of Destination Magoo, Pink and Blue Blues, Trouble Indemnity, and When Magoo Flew, along with archival prints of Sloppy Jalopy and MagooÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s Cruise. Besides the fact that these cartoons are pretty funny, there is some terrific design, layout and background painting throughout, and it’s all the more striking when seen on the large screen. Screening times are 5:15pm and 7:15pm. More details at the Jacob Burns Film Center website.
(Thanks, Robert Schaad)
I completely forgot to plug the “Birth of the Cool: California Art, Design, and Culture at Midcentury” exhibit which just closed at the Orange County Museum of Art last weekend. What reminds me to mention it now is that I recently saw the accompanying exhibition catalog, and even though I only managed to flip through it briefly, it looks to be a fetching and attractive coffeetable book.
Not having seen the exhibit, I’m curious to find out how they treated the “Cartoon Modern” look in the context of the larger West Coast contemporary art movement. I do know that the exhibit made some acknowledgment of midcentury animation by displaying shorts like Gerald McBoing Boing, Toot Whistle Plunk and Boom, and a Road Runner cartoon by Chuck Jones.
If you didn’t see the show while it was in SoCal, the exhibition continues at the Addison Gallery of American Art in Andover, MA (February 15-April 13, 2008). Then it’s on to the Oakland Museum of California (May 18-August 17, 2008) and the Blanton Museum of Art in Austin, TX (February 27-May 31, 2009).
GhibliWorld.com offers a superb in-depth interview with Pixar story artist Enrico Casarosa in which he talks about Hayao Miyazaki’s influence on his work. Of particular interest is the insightful passage in which Enrico contrasts the ways in which Pixar and Ghibli tell their stories. An excerpt:
“Well, as I was just saying, the process [at Pixar] is very much one of doing and redoing, making things better step by step. It involves a willingness to pick apart the movie and its themes. This constant editing and refining can be frustrating at times. The huge difference is that at Ghibli storyboards are done by the director and they are followed without exception. So you find a very different way of doing things there, the studio and its artists are following the leaderÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s vision without deliberation, editing or feedback necessary. Incidentally it sounds like Suzuki-san might be the only person at Ghibli able to have a discussion with Miyazaki-san regarding the story or characters of the movie theyÃ¢â‚¬â„¢re producing. In this setting though Miyazaki is free to go on his own journey finding the movie he wants to tell, bit by bit. The result are stories that are more fully personal and hold an authenticity and uniqueness which is close to impossible to achieve in the US, where a story, in the best case scenario, is well crafted by several gifted people while in the worse case scenario is made by committee. I think thatÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s what is great about many projects coming from Japan, with their own merits or faults, they possess an unwavering will to stick to their directorÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s vision. The stories are allowed to be more idiosyncratic that way and that is what I personally find inspiring and refreshing.”
Director Chris Sanders (Lilo and Stitch) has launched a new comic strip on his blog called Kiskaloo. He plans to offer a new strip every Monday. In what appears to be an “F.U.” to Disney, the title character of Sanders’s comic strip bears a striking resemblance to some of the development art he created for American Dog, a film he originated and then was unceremoniously
fired removed from in December 2006.
This new commercial for Jeep, produced by Deli Pictures in Germany, incorporates children’s drawings into a CG environment. It’s an interesting experiment but the results are graphically disingenuous because the filmmakers made no attempt to reconcile the funky and whimsical world of children’s drawings with the perfect physics and mechanics of CG. The piece would have come off a lot better had they attempted to create styles of movement that were honest and appropriate to the children’s drawings, instead of simply texture-mapping kiddie artwork over a slickly produced piece of CG.