Ottawa Animation Festival Contest Winners

Here are the winners from our Ottawa International Animation Festival contest. The two winners will each receive an all-access AnimaPasses (valued at $200) to this week’s festival. The festival takes place this week from September 17-21. Thanks to our generous friends at the festival for making this contest possible.

The winning captions are below the photo:

Jimmy Carter and Mickey Mouse

WINNERS
Sirkey
Carter: “I think the gentleman behind me is really happy to see you.”

Artisticulated
“Uh Mickey? I’m, ah, not so sure this is the, ah, appropriate venue for “whiteface”.

RUNNER-UP
Brooke Keesling
Jimmy says: This isn’t exactly what I meant when I said, “I’d love to slip that rotten old Ayatollah a Mickey!”

Random Cartoons are coming!

This just in! Mark your calendars! The animation event of the year! Nicktoons Network will start airing Random! Cartoons begining on Saturday, December 6th. Below are the premieres for 2008. All times are 1:30 p.m.

Saturday, 12/6 – Episode 101 (Solomon Fix, MooBeard, Two Witch Sisters)

Sunday, 12/7 – Episode 102 (Finster Finster, Adventure Time, Mind the Kitty)

Saturday, 12/13 – Episode 103 (Ivan, Boneheads, Tiffany)

Saturday, 12/20 – Episode 104 (Call Me Bessie, Teapot, Hornswiggle)

Saturday, 12/27 – Episode 105 (Hero Heights, Yaki & Yumi, Gary Guitar)

More details to come…

Warner Club News #4

Another great photo from the Warner Club News. Here’s layout artist and background painter Robert Gibbroek from the December 1959 issue. He’s a real unsung hero of many classic Warner Bros. cartoons. His work appears in such great films as One Froggy Evening, Fast and Furry-ous, Operation: Rabbit and The Mouse That Jack Built to name but a few. Note the image below left (click on thumbnails to enlarge) where Gribbroek worked his name into the background of One Froggy Evening. His fine art was outstanding too (see examples below).

Richard Williams at MoMA

Thief and the Cobbler

A can’t-miss event is coming up in NY. Richard Williams will appear at the Museum of Modern Art on Monday, September 22. He will discuss his career with historian and filmmaker John Canemaker. Tickets are $10 for adults and $6 for students. Here is the event description:

Three-time Academy Award winner Richard Williams discusses his long and influential career in a conversation with animation filmmaker and historian (and fellow Oscar-winner) John Canemaker. Williams, who was awarded Oscars for Special Achievement and for Visual Effects as the director of animation of the Walt Disney/Steven Spielberg blockbuster Who Framed Roger Rabbit (1988) and for his short film A Christmas Carol (1971), is one of the finest animation filmmakers of our time. His stunningly crafted, award-winning films have featured the work of veteran animators from the Disney studio’s “Golden Age” and from Warner Bros. Cartoons, most notably Grim Natwick (Snow White), Art Babbitt (Fantasia), and Ken Harris (Bugs Bunny). Williams also learned from his friends Milt Kahl (Pinocchio, The Jungle Book), and Frank Thomas (Bambi, Cinderella). A distillation of his acquired knowledge went into the exuberant animation he directed for Who Framed Roger Rabbit and, most recently, into an unparalleled and indispensable series of instructional DVD master classes based on his bestselling book The Animator’s Survival Kit. Illustrated with clips from Who Framed Roger Rabbit, The Charge of the Light Brigade, A Christmas Carol, Raggedy Ann & Andy, the animated titles from The Return of the Pink Panther, award-winning commercials, segments from The Animator’s Survival Kit, and more. Organized by Joshua Siegel (Associate Curator, Department of Film) and John Canemaker.

Link to event page at MoMA’s website

SPARK Animation Festival

If you are anywhere near the Pacific Northwest this weekend, head on over to Spark Animation ’08, an animation festival and state-of-the-art showcase sponsored by SIGGRAPH ACM Vancouver.

The festival started yesterday and will run through Sunday night. All of the events are ‘a la carte’ so you can select which events you want to attend and buy tickets for those, either online or at the door. Featured guests include Mark Osborne & John Stevenson (directors of Kung Fu Panda), Jimmy Hayward & Steve Martino (directors of Horton Hears a Who!), Ed Hooks (author: Acting for Animators), and me, Jerry Beck (screening The Worst Cartoons Ever! on Saturday night, 7pm at the Vancity Theatre). Bill Plympton’s latest feature, a Marv Newland retrospective and Leslie Iwerks’ The Pixar Story are among the special screenings. A party following my screening is free for all festival-goers – come by and say hello!

Full schedule and ticket ordering info is posted here.

Warner Club News #3

More rare pictures from a stash of Warner Club News I picked up last week.


The Warner Bros. Cartoon Dept. had it’s own building, with its own gate and sercurity on the main lot in Burbank during the 50s and 60s. The building is still standing today. I’m not sure who’s occupying it this year, but it was most recently the headquarters for producers, writers and staff of Everybody Loves Raymond.

Raymond Scott by Drew Friedman

To commemorate the 100th birthday of composer Raymond Scott (1908-1994), the folks at his official website, RaymondScott.com, have commissioned one of my favorite caricaturists, Drew Friedman, to create a limted edition portrait of Scott and his Quintette.

Scott is, of course, best known for his jazz compositions (such as Powerhouse) which were heard in numereous Warner Bros. cartoons, George Pal Puppetoons, The Ren & Stimpy Show, Animaniacs and other cartoon series. Scott was a band leader, composer, inventor and electronic music pioneer. Though he personally never wrote music for cartoons, his compositions work perfectly in the medium – and continue to do so today. For more information on Raymond Scott click here.

Current U.S. Postage Stamps

Anyone been to the post office lately? Anyone still use snail mail?

The postage stamps have gotten a lot better — even if I have no one to mail a letter to I couldn’t resist some of these new commemoratives. This one (above) devoted to Latin Jazz, with the distinctive artwork of Michael Bartalos, really caught my eye. Bartalos’ art is best known (to me) for Nickelodeon and Nick-at-Nite promotional materials, but here it evokes a cool Jim Flora feel.

I also stocked up on the new Art of Disney Imagination set which includes this neat Steamboat Willie, and the Vintage Black Cinema set with several attractive old movie posters. These are pretty nice – too nice to use only for paying my cable and internet bills.

CONTEST: Ottawa Animation Festival Passes

Contest time! We are giving away TWO all-access AnimaPasses (each valued at $200) to next week’s Ottawa International Animation Festival.

Seeing as how its election season, we’re presenting a politically-flavored photo caption contest. The winners will be the two people who provide the funniest and most Brew-worthy captions (as deemed by Jerry and Amid) for this meeting of the minds from the late-’70s. A few important notes: Please enter a caption below ONLY if you’re planning on attending the festival. ONE entry per person. Contest ends on Thursday evening at 11:59pm EST.

Jimmy Carter and Mickey Mouse

The Brilliant Conclusion of Octocat

Below is the stunningly brilliant conclusion of the online animated series Octocat.

When I posted the first episode last March, I wrote that it was the creation of 13-year-old Randy Peters. With the release of this final episode, filmmaker David O’Reilly has revealed that he is, in fact, “Randy Peters.” O’Reilly writes on his blog:

“I’m sure I’ll be accused of misleading people again, but I won’t apologize for that. Why? Because you’ve all proved one vitally important point: audiences don’t need polished, slick animation to find a story engaging. They are happy to follow the worst animated, worst designed and worst dubbed film of all time, and still laugh and cry and do all the things you do watching a so-called “high end” film. Its amazing, I’ve never been so excited about independent animation.”

Watch the entire series in HD on Vimeo.

Searle and Disney

Ronald Searle and Walt

No particular reason that I’m posting this photo other than I’ve never seen it before and figured it’d be fun to share with everybody. Walt, of course, is instantly recognizable, but the other guy is somebody who I often refer to as the greatest cartoonist of the 20th century, Ronald Searle. The pic is from July 1957. I’m not entirely sure but it appears that they’re on the Zorro set. Click on it for bigger version.

Classic Cartoon blog round-up

Some of my favorite blogs have just posted some unusual posts of interest, all worth a look. Back in December, Don Brockway took a look at Donald Duck and His Crappy Cars. He’s just posted another hilarious follow-up.

John Vincent is infatuated with Columbia cartoons and other animated oddities. He’s got a lot of worthwhile posts and frame grabs to prove it on his Uncle John’s Crazy Town blog, including his latest on take on the obscure Screen Gems Color Rhapsodies series.

And finally, another shout out to Rob Richards, the Disney obsessed organist-at-the-El-Capitan, who maintains several Disney blogs, including one on Animation Backgrounds. He broke his usual train of thought by abruptly posting about a background on Cambria’s New Three Stooges. In doing so, he may have found the only redeeming feature of this otherwise forgettable TV cartoon (the backgrounds and the new color footage of Moe and Larry, but I digress…).

Holland Animation Festival Announces Web Competition

There are still some retrograde film festivals that penalize filmmakers for putting their films online, but progressive festivals are embracing the Internet as a vital component of their programming strategy. Take, for example, the Holland Animation Film Festival, which today began accepting entries via YouTube for its newly announced web competition, which allows online audiences to see the entries via YouTube and help choose the winner. Here are the details:

For the first time the Holland Animation Film Festival 2008 launches an international competition for web animations. The web competition will be open for entries from Monday, September 8 onwards. On HAFFTube you will find a link to the entry form for the web competition. Please read the regulations and note that your film should be uploaded on YouTube before submitting the entry form. HAFFTube will gradually fill up with animated films from all over the world.

The Holland Animation Film Festival will rate the films that have been entered for competition. When we have reached our set limit of 50 films, the voting begins. Every week, films will be voted out to make room for the new entries. Deadline for entries: Wednesday October 22.

An international jury of filmmakers selects the winner out of the final 50 titles. The winner will be revealed on the opening night of the festival at November 5.

Warner Club News #1

This is an excerpt from an issue of Warner Club News, the studio’s in house magazine, from February 1958. Each issue had a column, aptly titled “What’s Up, Doc?” written by a member of the cartoon division staff. I picked up half-a-dozen issues from the late 50s, early 60s at the recent Cinecon and I’ll be posting bits and pics from these issues all this week. The cartoon being discussed above was released in April 1959. To be included in the February ’58 magazine, I’d place the recording session in January ’58 or possibly December ’57.

Isn’t this photo terrific? Where are the original negatives and prints to photos like this? I’ll have to check with Warner Bros. Archives. These are gold.

Dr. Kill and Mr. Chance

This is rather bizarre, but leave it to the French. A current project out of Paris,
Reality Toon, is an homage to classic Hollywood cartoons and the silent comedies that inspired them. The French love cartoons, slapstick, and perhaps above all Tex Avery and Jerry Lewis. This project combines all these into one strange set of three webisodes. Check them out – also view the behind the scenes, making-of film at realitytoon.com.

(Thanks, James Daniels)

Welcome to Cartoon Brew 2.5

Welcome to our updated look. As the title of this post implies, this is not a complete overhaul. Rather it’s a refresh of the existing site. We liked the site we already had (designed by Also) so we asked designer and tech guru Rob Kohr to retain the core of that design while enhancing functionality and adding new features. Some of the additions are:

* View Posts by Author: This gives you the option to read posts by a specific Brewmaster. Once our guest Brewers start adding content, you will also have the option to view their specific posts.

* Guest Brewers: This is among our most exciting new additions. We’re making an effort to bring new voices to the animation conversation by inviting some of the art form’s leading figures to blog alongside us. We chose our guest bloggers based on the following critera: people (a.) who have made significant contributions to the art of animation; (b.) who we both respect and admire; (c.) who are interesting and have something to say; and (d.) who have never blogged before. We couldn’t be more pleased with our first trio of Guest Brewers: Linda Simensky, Eric Goldberg and PES, who respectively specialize in TV, Feature and Short Films/Commercials. All three of them are extremely busy so they won’t be posting as frequently as us, but we look forward to hearing from them whenever they have a chance.

* Enhanced Search: All search results now load chronologically in a handy Cartoon Brew-formatted page, instead of redirecting to cumbersome Google link pages.

* Event Listings: A handy guide to upcoming animation-related events is now available in our right-hand column.

* Related Posts: On each individual post page, there are links to additional posts on similar topics.

* Weighted Tags: The sizes of the tags are now dynamically proportional to the amount of posts in each category. So now you can see which topics we write about most frequently. We are also in the process of adding new categories to help make navigation easier.

* Cartoon Brew TV: Our most ambitious new feature, Brew TV, is still in the works. This will launch on September 15. We’re truly excited about expanding the Cartoon Brew name and we think you’ll be too once you see what we have in store.

If you run across bugs or if something isn’t working the way you want, let us know in the comments. We’ll be tweaking the site throughout the weekend to get it right.

Thank you to all of our faithful readers who visit and support Cartoon Brew. We love this art form, and we’re thrilled to be able to share our passion with people who feel just as strongly about cartoons as we do. Together we will continue to lead the animation conversation. Enjoy the new site!

Mike Grimshaw’s Quiet Please

As a response to YouTube’s takedown of Signe Baumane’s animated short, Canadian animation director Mike Grimshaw has posted an old film of his onto the file sharing service to highlight their screwy editorial policies. He writes, “I want to help out my pal Signe so I’ve posted my film Quiet Please to show what can be accomplished without resorting to nudity. We’ll see how long this lasts.” The video is possibly NSFW depending on where you work.

Screening Waltz With Bashir

Today’s L.A. Times features a story on Waltz With Bashir, the sure-to-be-controversial animated feature from Israel, being screened at the Toronto International Film Festival tonight, and at the Ottawa Animation Festival on September 17th.

Waltz With Bashir is a documentary, spoken by veterans of a 1982 invasion of South Lebannon, woven into a narrative containing shocking violence (the film is a hard “R” rating) and potent graphic images. I had the opportunity to screen the film last week. It’s an effective anti-war film and a strong denouncement of the Israeli Army. The powerful story it tells transcends the technique – the animation is not the point here, it’s simply the medium to communicate the message. We all know animation is not just talking animals and can do more than tell jokes. Here’s a film that proves it. I admire Bashir, not as an animated film, but as an important film with significant things to say, that leaves you with lots to think about. It also pushes the artform into a bigger arena of filmmaking potential and points towards the possibilities of where else it can go.

Bill Melendez 1916-2008

Bill Melendez

Bill Melendez, the Mexican-born American character animator, film director, and film producer, best known for his animation for Warner Bros, UPA and the Peanuts specials and feature films, has passed away.

In 1938, Melendez was hired by Walt Disney to work on animated short films and feature-length films such as Bambi, Fantasia and Dumbo. Three years later, he joined Leon Schlesinger’s team at Warner Bros. studios, where, as a member of the Bob Clampett and Art Davis units, he animated on a number of Bugs Bunny and Daffy Duck shorts. Among the classic Warner Bros. shorts he animated on are Book Revue, The Great Piggy Bank Robbery, Baby Bottleneck, and The Big Snooze. UPA put him on their payroll in 1948 to work on many television commercials, as well as the Gerald McBoing Boing and Madeline shorts.

After a decade working on commercial and industrial films at studios like John Sutherland Productions and Playhouse Pictures, Melendez founded his own production company in 1964. Bill Melendez Productions helped produce the annually broadcast Christmas special A Charlie Brown Christmas, for which he won an Emmy Award and the George Foster Peabody Award despite having to work on short notice and with a tight budget.

Melendez has gone on to do over 75 half-hour Peanuts specials, including the 1989 miniseries, all with partner Lee Mendelson. In 1979, he directed a made-for-TV animated version of The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe.

Bill Melendez(click on image for bigger version) Bill Melendez (far left) at UPA in 1953 during a story session for Ballet-Oop (1954). Other artists in photo from l. to r. are Jules Engel, Alan Zaslove, Frank Smith, T. Hee, C.L. Hartman and Bobe Cannon.

An 8-minute interview with Melendez posted on YouTube:

Wallace & Gromit in The Right Trousers

Wallace and Gromit

British department store Harvey Nichols has concocted a brilliant advertising campaign starring Wallace and Gromit. It heralds the company’s expansion into Bristol, England, the hometown of Aardman Animations. The typically casual Wallace now sports Alexander McQueen and Paul Smith suits, Dolce and Gabbana shirt and Giorgio Armani tie, while the undressed Gromit is decked out in a Paul Smith scarf and Ray-Bans. Wallace’s love interest, Lady Campanula Tottington, also appears in the print ads. The Daily Mail has an article including a nice “making of” video with Nick Park and company explaining how the ads were photographed.

Kudos to Aardman for understanding their characters, and making tasteful and witty choices about how they license their characters for advertising. Compare this to the utterly clueless dopes at Warner Bros. who recently licensed Bugs Bunny to advertise ketchup. The quizzical expression on Bugs’ face says it all.

YouTube’s Inconsistent Standards for Animation Art

Signe Baumane

Award-winning filmmaker Signe Baumane writes to tell me that yesterday somebody flagged her one-minute short The Very First Desire Now and Forever for having “objectionable content” and today the film was pulled from YouTube. What was so objectionable in this short, which we’ve plugged before on Cartoon Brew? A baby innocently squeezing milk from its mother’s breasts.

What happened to Signe’s film should serve as a warning to all filmmakers who choose to use a free corporate service like YouTube to host their film work. But the bigger issue is that YouTube should consider addressing the arbitrary policies they hold towards “objectionable content.” There are currently thousands of videos on their site displaying full-frontal male and female nudity in art, whether it be the work of Michelangelo or Matisse. It’s a slippery slope when YouTube begins passing judgment on what qualifies as art (painting and sculpture) and what doesn’t (animation). If the site’s policy is strictly no nudity, then it should be consistent about it across all forms of art. And if it’s the natural act of breastfeeding that YouTube deems so offensive, then a good first step would be to remove all of the live-action videos on their site featuring woman breastfeeding their children.