Eric Goldberg’s Character Animation Crash Course!

Eric Goldberg

The long-awaited how-to book from master animator and director Eric Goldberg is almost here. Character Animation Crash Course! will be released next month and is currently available to pre-order on Amazon for $23. Here’s what Eric tells us about the book:

“Well, the animation book I’ve been writing for 25 years, based on my animation notes, has finally arrived! Well, almost… Character Animation Crash Course!, published by Silman-James Press, is 240 pages of cartoon goodness, all geared to getting great performances from your characters on the screen. It comes with an accompanying CD that has animation movie files of selected sequences in the book. You can watch them in real time, or frame-by-frame, and they all include X-sheets, inbetween charts, circled keys, and underlined breakdowns, so the tests can be analyzed while you read the book, revealing how the principles actually look in movement and why. Shipping date might be as early as mid-July. Also, I’ll be premiering it at the San Diego Comic-Con, signing copies at Stuart Ng Books, Friday July 25th from 2 – 4, and Saturday July 26th from 11 -12. Also, the book provides examples from classic cartoons that can be pretty easily-accessed in this DVD, YouTube, iPod age so you can see my inspirations from the Golden Age Masters. And because, frankly, I’m a big geek.”

Eric Goldberg

Tom Hignite’s Home Imaginators

Miracle Mouse

Tom Hignite, the Wisconsin home builder who thinks he’s Walt Disney, is back – in a series of local infomercials which ultilizes lush character animation created by a team of former Orlando studio animators he hired a few years ago. Since his misguided plans for making 2D animated features went bust, Hignite is back to building houses, using poor Flash animation (pictured above) to move his characters, and pretending he’s Uncle Walt in these TV spots. You can read the full story of Hignite’s wacky true-life adventures in this Milwaukee Magazine article – and, if you can stomach it, watch one of his informercials here.

The Business of Stereoscopic 3-D Films

Shrek

Stereoscopic 3-D filmmaking is either the latest film fad or the future of theatrical animation. For those who know their film history, all indicators point toward it being the former. This Portfolio article by Kevin Maney is one of the better pieces I’ve read about the topic:

“Studios are latching onto 3-D for much the same reason that Bob Dole took Viagra. Most of Hollywood’s businesses are making money–for all Katzenberg’s complaining, DreamWorks’ first-quarter profit was up 69 percent–but the sector that makes Hollywood feel best about itself, theatrical showings, is deflating, in large part because the difference between seeing a movie in your local multiplex and on a 52-inch high-definition TV in your family room is not that vast.”

Earlier post about 3-D on Cartoon Brew

(article link via Kottke)

Sleeping Beauty at the Academy

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A newly restored, digitally remastered version of Walt Disney’s Sleeping Beauty (1959) will be presented on Friday, July 18, at 7:30 pm at the Samuel Goldwyn Theater in Beverly Hills. Following the screening, a team from Walt Disney Animation Studios including Dave Bossert, creative director of special projects; animator Andreas Deja; Theo Gluck, director of library restoration and preservation; and Terry Porter, sound department chief and head rerecording mixer will participate in a panel discussion hosted by Leonard Maltin.

According to the Academy press release:

This new digital restoration of “Sleeping Beauty” comes from 4K scans of the camera original successive exposure Technirama negative. The 7.1 audio remix was created from the Disney Studio’s 35mm mag elements, including the original 3-track stereo music masters, which were recorded in Berlin in 1958.

Tickets are $5 for the general public and may be purchased online at www.oscars.org, in person at the Academy box office or by mail. Doors open at 6:30 p.m. The Samuel Goldwyn Theater is located at 8949 Wilshire Boulevard in Beverly Hills.

Donkey Ollie

If nothing else, Animation Magazine serves as an entertaining repository of all the awful ideas that animation studios try to produce nowadays. In the latest issue one of the properties being pimped by this studio is called Donkey Ollie.

Donkey Ollie

It probably wouldn’t be so disturbing if the same company hadn’t taken out a full-page ad on the facing page honoring a certain animator named Ollie (see below). What’s sadder perhaps is that having a crappily animated CG ass named after one’s self is a higher honor than many animation legends have received.

Donkey Ollie

The Pughs

Ryan, Jeremy, Alex and Tim – The Muks of Mukpuddy Animation in New Zealand – have taken a break from their day to day animation work to work produce this:

According to the creators:

It’s an idea we’ve had for sometime now and has always been something we’ve discussed while doing other jobs. Finally, we put everything aside and put all our effort into making a short. It was created in 3 weeks by the four of us here at Mukpuddy.

Our Flash animated 3 minute pilot is called It’s the Pughs and is the story of a man so desperate for a son that after the birth of his daughter, decides to bring up the poo that follows as “his boy”. The idea is based on our observations of the “typical” New Zealand bloke. The dad who wants nothing more that his boy to be the Rugby player he always wanted to be. As kiwi as this is, it seems to us this is a fairly universal trait.

As disgusting as the idea of raising a poo as a child is, we’ve tried to focus on the relationship between Rudy (the dad) and Peter (his poo son). As much as we embrace that the show will be a lot of gross poo jokes, we like to use the phrase “heartwarming toilet humour”.

Clearly, poop characters (Mr. Hankey, Stinky, Doodie.com, etc.) are here to stay – whether we like it or not. The Muks also have a bunch of production sketches posted on their blog.

Bakshi party photos

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Steve Worth posts many worthwhile things on the Asifa Hollywood Animation Archive website, including Mary Blair paintings and Ren & Stimpy storyboards just in the past week. But when he posts a picture of me and Ralph Bakshi, that really gets my attention. Actually, he didn’t post this photo above, yet, he just sent it to me (that’s me on the right of Ralph, with Mighty Mouse producer Tom Klein on the left) – but he did post a bunch of others from the Ralph book party at Meltdown on Saturday night. Bakshi veterans Conrad Vernon, Tom McGrath, Kent Butterworth, John K., Eddie Fitzgerald, Steve Gordon, Tom Minton and Dave Spafford are pictured. The event was a blast, and others who attended (but not captured in a photo) included animators Milt Gray, Mike Kazaleh, George Maestri, Amanda Visell and Michelle Valigura. Go here and enjoy!

VooDooDog Shorts

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I’ve mentioned the amazing work of London’s VooDooDog studio before. Between commercial assignments, the company supports and encourages its animators to create short films. Among the showreels and illustrations on their elaborate website are several of these works: Paul Donnellon’s Figment (above center), a violent battle between man versus toon; Scribble (pictured above left), a burst of pure energy with stick figures; and Maki Yashikuras’ The Girl Who Did Things She Didn’t Like First (aboove right), a charming fable.

Annecy ’08 Winners

Kunio Kato

The prizes for the 2008 Annecy Animation Festival were announced last Saturday. The top prize for short film, The Annecy Cristal, went to La maison en petits cubes by Kunio Kato. He is only the second Japanese filmmaker to win the Cristal, following Koji Yamamura who received it in 2003 for Mt. Head. The top Cristal prize for animated feature was awarded to Nina Paley‘s wonderful Sita Sings the Blues. It’s interesting to note that the major winners in both short and feature categories are 2-D works of animation. A complete list of winners can be found on the Annecy website.

Worst Cartoons Ever at Comic Con ’08

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Mark your calendars, clear the date… the all-new, craptacular 2008 edition of The Worst Cartoons Ever! – my annual report on the worst animated films in history – will take place on Friday night, July 25th at 9:30pm.

It will take place in Room CDEF in the San Diego Convention Center, as part of the packed-to-the-gills, almost-sold-out San Diego Comic Con. (Preceeding my program is a can’t-miss MST3K cast renuion at 7:15pm).

Felix the Cat studio photo

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Just spotted on ebay: a vintage publicity photo showing the producer of the Felix The Cat cartoons, Pat Sullivan, and his wife Marjorie, in Sullivan’s office with an avalanche of Felix drawings. They are apparently judging a “Draw Felix” contest, but of greater interest to me is the rare one-sheet poster (Gym Gems, 1926) tacked to the wall, the Felix doll in the corner, and the many framed, autographed photos of stars of the day. Nice find!

The Influence of Ralph Bakshi

The latest issue of Arthur Magazine has an article by illustrator Arik Roper who recounts his personal memories of discovering the animation of Ralph Bakshi during his teenage years. Despite the personal nature of the piece, there are some incisive thoughts on Bakshi’s work, like this discussion of Coonskin:

“I had read that it was considered offensive, so I was expecting shock value, but Coonskin was more than shock, it was from some dark place that I hadn’t visited before. It was relentlessly raw and visceral, the violence was staggering, and presented in the goriest of detail. I had some understanding of the laborious task of creating an animated film, and was amazed that anyone had put this much time and effort into making something so willfully disturbing. Where did this movie come from, who was it for? I didn’t quite get it at the time. I wasn’t really sure if the racism was being parodied or promoted, although the fact that no race, religion or sexual orientation was left unscathed was a clue that this was some form of harsh social satire. But there was much more to the movie than shock value…”

I’ve scanned the two-page article below. Click on it for a readable version. Or just order the entire issue (#29) at ArthurMag.com.

Ralph Bakshi

Pre-Code wrap-up

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Mark Kausler blogged about the Pre-Code Cartoon show I presented at the Silent Movie Theatre in Los Angeles last Tuesday. It was a smash hit and many people had to be turned away. The theatre has about 160 seats (not 100 as Mark notes) and, by popular demand, a second show was hastily arranged two hours after the first one. I guess running cartoons at the Silent Movie Theatre will be regular thing from now on. Thanks to everyone who attended (or tried to attend). Mark, who loaned me several film prints for the show, also has some photos from the evening, and a list of what we ran, on his blog.

Animation Show Vol. 3 CONTEST #2

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The fourth edition of The Animation Show opens tomorrow in Los Angeles (The Nuart), Boston (Kendall Square), Washington DC (E Street Cinema) and San Diego (Ken Cinema). But today we have two copies of The Animation Show Vol. 3 to give away.

The first two people who submit the correct answer via the comments link below will win the prize. CONTEST CLOSED! We have our winners!

What were the names of the two live action feature films directed by Mike Judge?

Don’t miss The Animation Show 4 coming soon to a theatre near you.

Kung Fu Panda credit sequence

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The awesome 2-D end credit sequence from Kung Fu Panda has been posted by Shine Studios in high quality Quicktime. Shine produced this section in collaboration with James Baxter Animation.

“Michael Riley, Shine’s creative director, composed images of traditional Chinese landscapes, calligraphy and 2D character animation set in a 3D landscape all choreographed to the classic Carl Douglas song “Kung Fu Fighting”; remixed by Cee-Lo Green, accompanied by Jack Black. Riley’s concept included reprising the film’s main characters in original cell animations by finding them hidden in a gigantic Chinese calligraphy character.

(Thanks, David Netherly)

Animation Show Vol. 3 CONTEST!

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Rabbit by Run Wrake, City Paradise by Gaelle Denis, Everything Will Be Okay by Don Hertzfeldt, Guide Dog and Shuteye Hotel by Bill Plympton, Game Over by Pes, Learn Self Defense by Chris Harding, ten other amazing shorts and a brand new intro by Beavis and Butt-head. The Animation Show Vol. 3 has just been released by Paramount Home Video, and it’s a must-have.

We have three copies to give away today. The first three people who submit the correct answer via the comments link below will win the prize. CONTEST CLOSED! We have our winners!

Joanna Quinn’s Dreams and Desires is part of Vol. 3. What toliet tissue product did Ms. Quinn do TV commercials for?

And don’t miss The Animation Show 4 coming soon to a theatre near you.

Interactive Animated Wall Projections

Karolina Sobecka

“Chase” is an art project from 2005 that I only heard about recently. In it, animated cartoon characters participate in a never-ending chase in which their speed and actions correspond to the speed of a moving car. It’s a modest experiment but I could see the idea being applied to more interesting and ambitious marriages of interactivity and animation in real-world environments. The artist, Karolina Sobecka, offers the following artistic statement about the work:

Danger, violence, fear, persecution are popular themes driving the children’s cartoons. Such infantilized representation of these concepts stands in absurd contrast to the stark reality of the urban LA context.

Live Action/CG “Smurfs” film

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What hath Alvin and the Chipmunks wrought?

It’s being widely reported today that Sony is co-financing a live action/CG Smurfs feature film. I’m not usually the pessimist around here, but this can’t be any good – can it?? Variety reports that David Stem and David Weiss (Shrek 2, Jimmy Neutron) are being hired to write the screenplay, and Sony Pictures Animation has certainly made some good films (Open Season, Surf’s Up)… maybe they can pull it off?

(Image above from ComingSoon.com)

The Pogo Special Birthday Special

Speaking of Chuck Jones, as we were yesterday, here is his infamous 1969 TV special based on Walt Kelly’s classic comic strip Pogo. Kelly, who wrote the special, allegedly hated the final results and felt that too much of his personal vision had been subverted into that of Jones’s. Both artists voice characters in the film: Jones is the voice of Porkypine, Bun Rabbit and Basil the Butterfly; Kelly is Albert, P.T. Bridgeport and Howland Owl.

Stay Awake in concert

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Hal Willner’s 1988 Disney tribute CD, Stay Awake, is going live.

Stay Awake: the Official 20th Anniversary Concert will take place at UCLA’s Royce Hall on October 30th. Willner has previously staged live concert versions in London and New York over the last year. For its LA performance Willner will attempt to bring in as many of the record’s artists as possible. Artists on the original album included Herb Alpert, Los Lobos, Natalie Merchant, Aaron Neville, Harry Nilsson, Sinead O’Connor, Buster Poindexter, Sun Ra, Bonnie Raitt, The Replacements, The Roches, Ringo Starr, Michael Stipe, and Tom Waits. Who will appear in person? That info will be revealed closer to show time. For now, you can order tickets here.