A Really Whole New World

This video is impressive: a guy, Nick Pitera, sings both the male and female parts of the Aladdin song, “A Whole New World.” As the video has become an online sensation these past couple months, there’s been a lot of debate about whether it’s really him singing, and the consensus seems to be that he’s legit. Just to make this more animation related, Nick Pitera is also a computer animation major at Ringling College of Art and Design. Ironically, the last post on his art blog is about animating lip sync. More videos of him singing and some biographical info can be found on his YouTube page.

(Thanks, Dai Kun)

WB Studio Store blog

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Remember how cool those Warner Bros. Studio Stores were – at least for the first ten years of their existence, before they went all Scooby Doo, Tweety and Taz, all the time?

Cartoonist Juan Ortiz (the man behind the brilliant retro Silver Comics line) was one of the staff artists creating the incredible merchandise sold in the Studio Stores of the 1990s. Ortiz has now started a new blog, The Warner Bros. Store Is Closed, with rare production artwork, product images and behind-the-scenes commentary.

(via Misce-Looney-ous)

Animation Industry: West Coast vs. East Coast

NY animation studio

Last week I had the pleasure of being the guest speaker for Dave Levy’s animation career class at SVA (School of Visual Arts). It was a lively conversation, owing to Dave’s skillful moderation and plenty of excellent questions and comments from the SVA senior class. A significant portion of our discussion revolved around comparing and contrasting the Los Angeles and New York animation scenes. Dave Levy has summarized and expanded upon that class discussion with this post on his blog. It’s a thought-provoking read for artists both east and west.

Bullwinkle Statue Update

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The good news: It’s still there!
The bad news: It’s been “improved”.

Brew reader Brent Swanson sent in this recent photo. I have mixed feelings about the restoration (above right, which I guess was done several years ago – I never paid much attention to it, despite the fact I drive by it several times a month). I suppose it’s a bit more “on-model”, but it lacks the charm of the original (above left).

This Week: Janet Klein & Annie Awards

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I know what you’re all wondering. Where will I be later this week?

Well, Thursday night (2/7) I’ll be at the Steve Allen Theatre, showing vintage 16mm cartoons and shorts as the warm-up for Janet Klein and her Parlor Boys. Ticket info here. UPDATE: Janet’s got the flu! The Thursday show is cancelled! Join us next month on Thursday March 6th.

And Friday night (2/8) I’ll be attending the Annie Awards at Royce Hall on the campus of UCLA, where I will be proudly accepting an award from June Foray. Tickets still available.

So now you know. Hope to see some of you at one (or both) of these events.

Marcell Jankovics Animation Used In A Super Bowl Spot

Licensing old songs has been a staple of TV advertising in recent times, but could licensing animated shorts become the next trend in the world of commercials? Brew reader Joshua points out that a GMC Yukon Hybrid commercial aired during yesterday’s Super Bowl repurposed animation from Marcell Jankovic’s 1975 Oscar-nominated short Sisyphus. Watch the commercial above.

The message delivered is not entirely effective but that’s not the fault of Jankovics’s animation, rather in how they decided to use it. In fact, it’s to Jankovics’s credit that a short film he made over thirty years ago looks as fresh and vital as any contemporary piece of animation. So who’s next? Will other ad agencies take a cue and begin making use of visually striking animated shorts like Norman McLaren’s Begone Dull Care or John Hubley’s The Adventures of an *? Considering how well some of these films hold up graphically, and also the fact that the average TV viewer has never seen these films, there are a lot of fascinating possibilities.

And speaking of Marcell Jankovics, last week I wrote about his rarely seen (but must-see) animated feature Fehérlófia. The comments in that post are well worth reading including a particularly nice commentary about Jankovics’s work by Aeon Flux creator Peter Chung.

“It’s Mine”

It

Not only was it a really good Super Bowl game, but Coca-Cola scored a touchdown with a terrific animation-related commercial titled “It’s Mine,” starring Underdog, Stewie from Family Guy, and, well, you’ll just have to watch to see the third character. Everything about this spot just works: an unlikely mash-up of cartoon characters, a complete story told in one minute with a sweet feel-good ending, and funny filmmaking throughout (even the shot selections are humorous). In fact, the non-animation crowd that I watching the game with actually cheered at the commerical’s ending. There’s something that doesn’t happen often.

Credits for the spot, which mixes live and CG, can be found at Duncan’s TV Ad Land, and an in-depth analysis of the commercial can be found in this blog post by Richard Buran. But before you go any further, watch it below.

My Favorite Martian

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This post is only slightly on-topic, as I want to give a plug to a new soundtrack CD for one of my favorite live action sitcoms of the 1960s.

La-La Land Records has just released a limited edition CD that contains the musical score for the TV series My Favorite Martian (not to be confused with Filmation’s god-awful My Favorite Martians). The album contains the music cues created by composer George Greely, who cleverly combined ’50s sci-fi musical motifs (i.e. heavy use of the Theremin) with ’60s atomic/ lounge/space age pop. It’s a lot of fun to listen to while driving, which is what I was doing when I first heard it.

In an effort to connect this to animation history, I’ll point out that the My Favorite Martian opening title animation was done at the Howard Anderson optical effects house, with animation by Chuck Jones unit animator Lloyd Vaughan (who animated the titles for a another show, also produced by Martian’s Jack Chertok, called My Living Doll – anyone got an episode of that?).

The only place you can order this CD is at La-La Records website. You can watch numerous episodes of My Favorite Martian free, online at AOL Video. And for info on the My Favorite Martian comic book and the illo above, visit Scott Shaw!’s Oddball Comics.

Rubik the Amazing Cube

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One of the silliest cartoon shows ever contrived by network executives and foist upon kids, back in those deep dark days of network Saturday mornings, was based on the toy Rubik’s Cube.

At long last, a fan website devoted to Ruby Spears 1983 ABC series Rubik the Amazing Cube is here — with everything you ever wanted to know about the show, including episode guides, character profiles and, should it ever be forgotten, clips of the show itself.

Happy Groundhog’s Day!

Badflavr.com by Arthur Metcalf

An impressive young talent who I’ve had the pleasure of meeting since moving out to NY is Arthur Metcalf. A self-taught animator, his first short, Fantaisie in Bubblewrap (2007) has become an audience favorite at the few festivals it has played at so far. Today, Metcalf released a new one-minute hand-drawn cartoon exclusively online, Badflavr.com, starring Kitteh and Puppeh. Watch it below. The humor derives from the seemingly indefatigable lolcatz, but even if you’re becoming worn out from that meme, the cute kitty really sells the piece. The cat’s typing skills and two-pawed mouse usage garnered a good laugh from me because it’s so skillfully and humorously animated. More about Arthur Metcalf at MetcalfLovesYou.com. His experimental “holiday card” on YouTube is also worth a view.

Essential Viewing: Art Babbitt Documentary

Mathieu Vierendeel has posted onto YouTube the fascinating 1987 documentary Animating Art which examines the life and art of legendary animator Art Babbitt. The 40-minute film includes commentary from Babbitt himself, as well as interviews with Richard Williams and Andreas Deja. It’s a terrific intro to Babbitt’s work that leaves one wanting to hear and see more about the master animator. Part 1 is below, the rest of it can be viewed here.

It’s a Cartoon Modern World

Dear Brew readers, please indulge this shameless late-night post. I discovered a new fact tonight: nothing perks one up at 1:30am like walking by MoMA and seeing your book in their store window display. I snapped a couple phonecam shots for posterity.

Cartoon Modern at MoMA

It’s equally exciting to know that Cartoon Modern is extending its reach all over the globe. It was a delight to hear Paco Calderón, a cartoonist from Mexico City, state in a new Amazon review that Cartoon Modern was his personal “book of the year.” And on a recent trip to Japan, Christopher Butcher discovered that my book was on display in the country’s largest bookstore, the flagship Kinokuniya Books. He snapped the pic below showing it alongside some fine company: The Art of Ratatouille and the Fantagraphics Peanuts reprints.

Cartoon Modern at Kinokuniya

Of course, a book is no use if it just sits in a bookstore. Thankfully plenty of artists are putting it to good use. Guillermo García Carsí, the co-creator, director and designer of the exemplary CG preschool series Pocoyo told me that after going through Cartoon Modern he was inspired to create a stylized Flash-animated segment for a recent episode. He sent a few stills which I’ve posted below. Also be sure and check out his new website GuillermoGarciaCarsi.com which features Pocoyo and non-Pocoyo animation as well as plenty of his eye-catching illustrations.

Pocoyo

The accompanying Cartoon Modern blog is also inspiring artists. For example, Adam Garcia of Philly-based design studio The Pressure posted onto Flickr this page of studies based on images from the blog.

Cartoon Modern studies by Adam Garcia

Saving the best for last, here is an intriguing sight: knitted versions of the cover’s Ernie Pintoff/Fred Crippen-designed characters.

Cartoon Modern scarf

Why are they knitted? Because I’m now the proud owner of this awesome one-of-a-kind Cartoon Modern scarf I received from my friend, filmmaker Heather Harkins. It’s the perfect complement to my Mary Blair boxers. Thanks, Heather!

Cartoon Modern scarf