There isn’t much to say about this:
Bio-Hazard is a thesis film produced at SVA by Andrew Falicon. It’s a funny short with plenty of send-ups of anime conventions and absurdist non-sequiturs sprinkled throughout. Part of its humor derives from the production problems that Falicon experienced during the making of the film. He explains in the YouTube description:
“[The film was] due near the end of April, and in mid-February in a freak slip of the finger on my keyboard I deleted a folder containing all the scanned animation for about 40% of the original work. BUT ITS COOL BECAUSE IT WAS BACKED UP ON DVD, RIGHT? WRONG, my DVD drive then stopped working, and then the two DVDs were corrupt when I tried them on another PC. So I had to cut out 30 % of the film, rearrange it and GET THAT SHIT DONE. In 2 and 1/2 months…”
The animation is by CTTV, a new independent studio. Bill Kroyer and Howard Grossman are the producers, Stephen Silver (Kim Possible) designed it and Tom Sito directed the entire season. Ten episodes were produced and they begin airing on July 9th at 8pm. The program’s website contains only a brief promo clip, but I’ve been told it will be updated with more stuff very soon.
Tony White has just posted onto YouTube his classic animated short Hokusai: An Animated Sketchbook. He offers some background about the film:
“This was my first ever… and still my favorite… short animated film! I created it in my spare time while I was still a director/animator at the Richard Williams Studio in London during the late 1970′s. I actually started the film after we had completed ‘A Christmas Carol’, when I was Richard Williams’ own personal assistant at the time. ‘Carol’ went on to win the first of Dick’s three Oscars. When my own ‘Hokusai’ film won a British Academy Award I moved on to set-up the ‘Animus Productions’ animation studio… a creative entity I led for a further 20 award-winning years. The film itself was inspired by the wonderful sketchbooks of Hokusai. When I saw them I realized that this artist was indeed a true animator at heart… he just didn’t have the knowledge or the technology to be one in his lifetime. I therefore sought to bring his drawings to life for him, as homage to his genius.”
Check it out:
In recent years, many artists at feature animation studios like Pixar, DreamWorks and Blue Sky have become involved in self-publishing art books and graphic novels. The Disney artists have remained noticeably absent from the scene…until now. A whole slew of Disney Feature story artists and directors are getting ready to release a fun-looking 72-page graphic novel anthology entitled Who is Rocket Johnson?, in which they answer the question posed by the book’s title. The book, limited to 1,000 copies, will debut in July at the San Diego Comic-Con and will sell exclusively at booth 2302.
Contributing artists are:
The book also features a painted cover by Paul Felix and pin-ups by Glen Keane, ChenYi Chang, Byron Howard and Arthur Adams. There’s a book blog at WhoIsRocketJohnson.com and an official announcement at the blog of Paul Briggs.
(via Blackwing Diaries)
Folks in the Bay Area have a chance to see Brad Bird's The Iron Giant on the bigscreen for two days next month–June 7 and 8. The screenings will take place at the Cerrito Speakeasy Theater. Be forewarned though: the screening is a part of the San Francisco Chronicle‘s “The Poop Presents” children’s film series so there’ll likely be a lot of noisy and sticky children in the theater. More details at the Chronicle website.
This one is worth pointing out not because it's a great piece of work but because it's an interesting experiment and also serves as a reminder that animation as an art form is now well over one hundred years old. In honor of the 100th anniversary of one of the earliest examples of a fully-animated film, Fantasmagorie, a new CG remake has been produced called Fantasmagorie 2008. The film is the brainchild of Rastko Ciric, a professor at the University of Arts in Belgrade, Serbia. The film also incorporates the footage from Ã‰mile Cohl‘s original 1908 film. The film can be viewed in its entirety at Fantasmagorie2008.com
The film had its premiere in Paris last month during a retrospective of the films of Emile Cohl. Upcoming screenings include the Nitrate Film Festival in Belgrade and the Hiroshima International Animation Festival. A stereoscopic 3D version also exists.
(Thanks, Karl Cohen)
Better late than never: this weekend’s NY Times offers a profile of Shigeru Miyamoto, the prolific Nintendo game designer responsible for Donkey Kong, Mario and Zelda. The article’s belabored point–that Nintendo is like Disney–is driven home by no less than eight mentions of the Disney name. There is perhaps a prophetic idea buried in that comparison though. If Mario serves as any example, it would be safe to predict that in the coming decades, the next batch of classic cartoon characters will emerge not out of traditional film or TV, but rather out of video games and other forms of interactive media.
Speaking of Miyamoto, here’s a recent short featuring him–A Really Really Brief History Of Donkey Kong directed by Gabe Swarr.
I’m a longtime fan of the incredible (and overlooked) stop motion paper cut-out animation sequences created by Bill Justice and Xavier Atencio for the Disney Studios in the late 1950s and early 60s. These remarkable little films have escaped wide attention by appearing in some of the least of Disney’s efforts during this period (their titles for The Parent Trap (1961) being an exception). The design and direction are top notch – and remember, these were created completely by hand, and animated frame by frame under a camera. None of the computer shortcuts employed by South Park here.
It’s hard to get the Sherman Brothers tune out of your head from the opening titles to The Mis-Adventures of Merlin Jones (1964):
This one is a little un-P.C., from the featurette A Symposium Of Popular Songs (1962):
Disney designer Kevin Kidney has posted his own tribute to these works on his blog, showcasing his own intricate recreations of these paper puppets (created with partner Jody Daily). Check it out here.
I’ve got a busy month ahead, and if you’re in the Los Angeles area you can share it with me:
â€¢ Tuesday May 27th: Join Frank Conniff (TV’s Frank), Erica Doering and me – along with guest comedian Jimmy Pardo – at the Steve Allen Theatre in Hollywood for another hilarious live action and animation performance of Cartoon Dump. The show starts at 8pm. Advance tickets sold here.
â€¢ Saturday May 31st: I’ll be signing copies of The Hanna Barbera Treasury at Book Expo America, at the Los Angeles Convention Center – in the author’s autograph area – at 4pm to 5pm.
â€¢ Tuesday June 3rd: I’ll be doing a Q&A with directors Mark Osborne and John Stevenson at an Asifa-Hollywood members screening of Kung Fu Panda. We’ll be screening the film in Imax at Universal CityWalk. If you are a member of Asifa Hollywood you will recieve the details via email and snail mail. If you live in the L.A. and aren’t a member of Asifa, you should be. We do free screenings like this all year long.
â€¢ Wednesday June 4th: Listen to me discuss classic cartoons with Stu Shostack on internet radio, Stu’s Show. We’ll be taking your phone calls as well. The program airs live 7pm to 9pm Eastern/4pm to 6pm Pacific.
â€¢ Thursday June 5th: I’ll be doing my regular monthly thing of showing 16mm film prints of vintage musical cartoons with Janet Klein and her Parlor Boys. Show starts at 8pm at the Steve Allen Theatre in Hollywood. Make your reservation here!
â€¢ Tuesday June 10th: I’ve joined the Cinefamily at the Silent Movie Theatre on Fairfax Ave. I’ll be doing a program of Pre-Code Cartoons at 8pm and will precede the screening with a short speech on the topic. Should be fun!
And there’s more! To be continued…
A terrific interview in Film & Video with filmmaker Nina Paley, who completed a full-length animated feature by herself…on a Mac…for $200k. Making an animated feature isn’t easy, and there’s a lot of costs associated with one that the average person doesn’t even consider. Take, for example, the problems she describes with making film prints:
“Its world premiere was at the Berlinale. And Berlin only shows 35mm, at least in the section I was programmed in. I wanted to do a DCP [digital cinema package], and I was looking forward to doing a DCP, but they couldn’t show a DCP at Berlin. So suddenly I had to make a 35mm print, and I had no money. So I posted on my blog that this had happened: “The good news is, I’m going to Berlin. The bad news is, I need $30,000.” I actually ended up raising about $15,000 from strangers – some of them were friends, but people donated $15,000 that month. That was really freakin’ exciting. I also got a freelance job around that time, and I borrowed money from friends and family. So I was able to make a 35mm negative and get the sound done, and we got a print.
“Now there are three prints circulating. One of them is about to become a French-only print, because it’s getting French subtitles burned into it for Annecy [the International Animated Film Festival, in Annecy, France], which only accepts 35mm prints with subtitles. It’s all very expensive for an independent filmmaker. I am out of money and in debt and I have about $13,000 in bills coming. And I just have no idea how I’m going to pay for them.”
(Thanks, Karl Cohen)
As written up on the Brew yesterday, Dumm Comics is a new daily comic site launched by some of the today’s top talents working in TV animation. All of the Dumm artists recently worked on Nickelodeon’s El Tigre!, and prior to that, their combined credits include The Buzz on Maggie, Ren & Stimpy: Adult Party Cartoon, Mucha Lucha!, Coconut Fred’s Fruit Salad Island, Brandy & Mr. Whiskers, Dexter’s Laboratory, The Ripping Friends and Teamo Supremo, to name just a few.
This past Tuesday, May 20, I conducted an online chat via instant messaging with all the comic artists involved in Dumm Comics: Luke Cormican, Ricky Garduno, Fred Osmond, Katie Rice, Gabe Swarr and Sean Szeles. Our conversation touches on a wide range of subjects: why a group of successful animation artists would choose to branch into comics, artistic influences, Cintiqs, their working process, and what’s wrong with the TV animation biz. To maintain the flavor of our rapid-fire anything-goes IM exchange, I’m presenting the discussion largely in its original form and with minimal edits.
Discussion follows after the jump.
In light of some amusing controversy over a recent entry, I thought it would be an appropriate time to point towards this blog post, entitled “One Big Happy Blogosphere,” by indie animator Tim Rauch. In it, he raises some worthwhile questions about the role of blogs in the animation community. He writes:
“While it’s reasonable to make thoughtful criticisms of a studio product, at what point is an artist’s ego fragile enough that we should avoid going out of our way to provide negative feedback? Â You wouldn’t walk up to a three year old working with crayons on his kitchen table and poo-poo his choice of color. Â I believe the same kind of “protective zone” should be extended to non-professionals or professionals doing personal projects: respect their desire to create and provide negative criticism only when it is asked for and can be constructively received. Â Leave the wrestling-match of serious criticism to work that has entered the wider world in a more public way; but please keep in mind that individual artists have been involved and resist the urge to slam, insult or generally denigrate their contributions.”
While I strongly disagree that adult filmmakers with fully-developed minds should be offered the same “protective zone” that we allow immature infants (a practice that benefits neither artist nor audience nor the development of the art form), a lot of what Tim writes is not too far removed from the personal rules that we employ when writing posts on Cartoon Brew. Jerry and I have no strictly defined rules about how we write, though common sense guidelines have evolved over the years.
Certain pieces of animation are fair game to all types of criticism: examples are films from major studios and TV series. In other words, commercial animation that is supported by significant budgets. Similarly, when an indie does mainstream commercial work, like a TV commercial or music video, that opens the artist up to a more critical assessment of their work than if they were making a personal film. We obviously take into consideration that they probably do not have the resources of a major studio, but we also compare and contrast it to the capabilities of other artists creating animation within similar constraints and circumstances.
Where we tread carefully is with student films and personal films. If we see something of poor quality, there’s no reason to denigrate it. Likewise, if something stands out, we’ll be sure to let everybody know. We receive a multitude of links, press releases and artwork on a daily basis, and even if we wanted to post all of them, it would be impossible with our limited resources. Some of the projects that arrive in our email are actually quite good, but because every post requires time and effort to compose, we aim to post on the Brew only the truly exceptional things that we’ve enjoyed.
At the end of the day, our goal remains simple and largely unchanged since we started the blog in 2004: write about the things that personally inspire and educate us, while calling out the shysters who flood the mainstream market with crass and poorly produced examples of animation art. Sometimes these posts inspire and educate readers, and other times, well…
For his first solo show in Los Angeles, Ramos replicates the natural history museum experience for his audience, fusing the natural world with the art world. A series of twenty four large-scale paintings based on classic grand dioramas and a special installation of skeletal structures will transform the gallery into an epicenter of flora and fauna. The concept of the exhibition is based on Ramos’ childhood fascination with natural history museums and the “authoritative” impression they made on him growing up.
Located in the Culver City Art District, the Corey Helford Gallery was established by Jan Corey Helford and her husband, television producer Bruce Helford (The Oblongs). The opening reception is on Saturday, June 28, from 7 to 10pm, at 8522 Washington Boulevard in Culver City, California. Ramos’ show will be on view until July 16th.