Xtranormal: A Glimpse Into the Future of TV Animation Production

Over the past year, I’ve been sent links to a number of online start-ups that allow consumers to create their own animated films using free web software. Every one of them has left me unimpressed. Every one of them, that is, until Xtranormal.com.

Xtranormal advertises that “If you can type, you can make movies.” It’s not just the ease of creating cartoons that makes Xtranormal so appealing, it’s also that the final results don’t look half-bad, and at least as professional as many “Adult Swim” series. Xtranormal’s software has a robust (as far as these type of things go) selection of built-in camera angles, expressions and animated movements, and the end result is a film like this:

The cartoon above was made by Fran Krause, who we interviewed on Cartoon Brew last week. There’s probably a good post here about the democratization of content creation, but I’m going to follow another idea that occurred to me while watching various Xtranormal shorts, and that is the ramifications this has for professional animation production, particularly as it relates to the TV industry.

Fran Krause titled his first blog post about Xtranormal “New Website Makes Animators Obsolete.” In my opinion, that’s not necessarily a bad thing.

I’ve long felt that the amount of effort invested into TV animation is disproportionate to the quality of work that appears on the finished screen. Too many production dollars are wasted on menial artistic tasks that could more efficiently be handled by a computer. The only reason that studios continue to employ so many artists is that they’re too shortsighted and cheap to invest in R&D and devise new automated production systems that are appropriate to the dialogue-driven nature of contemporary animated shows.

Too much manpower and production money is wasted on redoing tasks that don’t need to be redone. Take this recent interview with Fairly Oddparents background designer Jim Worthy in which he discusses how much wasted effort goes into the production of the show he works on: “After 7 seasons, I’m amazed how many times I still need to design Timmy’s bedroom. Thanks to all the board artists for keeping me employed.” In other words, he doesn’t need to be redoing Timmy’s bedroom every episode; he only does it because an intelligent production system is not in place that could call up a template of the bedroom.

Dialogue-driven shows that are visually formulaic (i.e. Fairly Oddparents, The Simpsons, Family Guy, most pre-school and “Adult Swim” series) could easily be replaced with automated production systems. Crazy talk? Consider South Park, a half-hour show that uses automated systems to deliver finished episodes in as little as two weeks and doesn’t suffer with audiences one bit.

The New York animation industry, in particular, is a hotbed for this type of automated animation production, especially with preschool-oriented shows like Little Einsteins and Wonder Pets. These shows rely on stock libraries of movements, expressions and takes, and entire episodes are animated in a month or less. The digital animators (a more accurate term would be “digital technicians”) set up the scenes and determine the sequence of these actions, but they don’t create original actions; there are also a couple traditional animators on board who create the original movements needed for each episode. The only manual part of the process is adding lip sync to the characters. In other words, Xtranormal is not leading the revolution; they’re only offering a consumer version of production systems that are already becoming dominant in animation. (Xtranormal, for its part, is currently working on creating a desktop version of its software that includes voice-capture and character customization.)

I don’t begrudge anybody putting together these copy-and-paste animated productions. While it’s certainly not my cup of tea, there is a legitimate need for this type of material as the number of channels proliferate in this new era of digital cable. My only question is why aren’t more shows throughout the industry saving money by switching to automated production systems?

Many traditional artists are beginning to see the future, even those who have worked in TV animation. For example, former TV series director Pat Smith (Daria, MTV Downtown wrote about Xtranormal on his blog recently: “If you’re wondering where the future is…pre-programmed actions using text. all this needs is professional voice acting, custom character design option, then tweeking by director, and you have a dialogue driven script and one hell of an entertaining film!!!”

There could not be a bigger supporter of artists than myself, but common sense tells me that the majority TV shows could cut their crews and budgets in half or more with minimal consequences on the visual creativity of the production. There are only a handful of shows that truly depend on their artists for the final results (Spongebob Squarepants and Superjail among them). So let’s get the technicians to create the rote and run-of-the-mill, and let’s let animators rededicate themselves to creating unique imagery that could only come out of the hands and minds of artists. With companies like Xtranormal, anybody can create South Park- and Family Guy-quality animation from their home now. Now is the time for animators to step up to the plate and create the kinds of inspiring artwork again that can’t be emulated by a ten-year-old sitting in his bedroom.

Monday Morning Inspiration: 4 Great Posts

So much valuable educational material is being posted online nowadays. Here are a few newish items that have caught my attention:

Moonbird Animation

Michael Sporn shares a genius walk cycle from Moonbird animated by Bobe Cannon and assisted by Ed Smith.

Will Finn drawing

“Finding My Inner Pintoff” is a thought-provoking post by animator Will Finn (Iago in Aladdin, Cogsworth in Beauty and the Beast) about how animating a scene without inbetweens, squash & stretch, anticipation and follow-through led him to a new understanding of what it means to communicate through animation.

Bill Tytla Drawing

Bill Tytla speaks about Forms vs. Forces: Part I & Part II

Song of the South bg

Hans Bacher’s blog Animation Treasures is a constant stream of inspiration from this comparison of Bambi pencil layouts to the finished backgrounds to fascinating bits of personal history like the early development of Beauty and the Beast to artwork by the likes of Jiří­ Trnka, and my recent personal fave, this Song of the South background analysis.

Jules Engel Centennial Celebration

Next Saturday, April 18th, Cal Arts is presenting a Jules Engel Centennial Celebration in downtown L.A., at the RedCat theatre. The 5pm program, “The Influence of Jules Engel on Contemporary Animation”, will include a roundtable discussion with distinguished Cal Arts Alumni including Jorge Gutierrez, Steve Hillenburg, Mark Kirkland, Mark Osborne, Joanna Priestly and Henry Selick.

That will be followed by a cocktail reception and exhibition of fine art by Jules Engel at 7pm. Ticket prices are a bit steep, but the event is a fundraiser to support The Jules Engel Endowed Scholarship Fund. For more information check the Cal Arts Website.

Heal

Here’s something we don’t post much on Cartoon Brew – medical animation:

Minnesota based Ghost Medical has been producing medical animation for 15 years. Art Director/Animator Joel Erkkinen writes:

We wanted to make something that pushed the limits of medical animation. This short was created from the ground up to showcase the talents of ghOst Productions at the 2009 American Association of Orthopedic Surgeons in Las Vegas. Instead of showing pre-existing client work in our reel, we thought it would be more fun to make a character animation, break nearly every bone in his body and then surgically repair him in under 3 minutes.

Heal was the result. While it may not win awards at Annecy or Ottawa, it’s a clever way to present a demo reel for specialized work.

Harvey Talk

Next Friday you can meet me at the Museum of Comic and Cartoon Art in New York City where I will speaking about the origins of Harvey Comics and its connection to Famous Studios. I’ll screen some cartoon clips and sign books – in particular the latest volume of Harvey Comics Classics: The Harvey Girls. The fun starts at 6:30pm. MoCCA is located at 594 Broadway, in Suite 401. More info online at the museum website. Come by and say hello.

Jonny Quest: the Real adventures

It was announced several months ago that Warner Bros. is developing a live action feature based on Hanna Barbera’s Jonny Quest, with Zac Efron as Jonny and Dwayne Johnson as Race Bannon. LA Times blogger Geoff Boucher reported this week that, possibly due to the failure of last years Speed Racer movie, Warners is now thinking of making the JQ film, but droppping the JQ name.

Apparently the live action JQ script is so good that the studio wants to produce the film regardless of what the characters are called. But the failure of Speed Racer – another live action version of a 1960s cartoon series – still resonates with upper management. So the thinking is to just cut ties to the H-B series that inspired it. Personally, I think this is a good idea.

Dear Warner Bros.,
Please don’t make a live action Jonny Quest movie. After Scooby Doo, The Flintstones and Josie and the Pussycats we don’t need anymore of our childhood memories destroyed by bad movies adaptations. If the Jonny Quest script is as good as reported, it’ll be popular under any title.

Now, is there anyway to make you reconsider your live action plans for The Jetsons and Yogi Bear?

Simpsons Stamps

I couldn’t let the day pass without noting the announcement of The Simpsons U.S. postage stamps.

I believe the rule is that something (a celebrity, an event, a landmark) must be 20 years old in order to rate the honor of being commemorated on a U.S. postage stamp – and The Simpsons have rightly earned this tribute. It’s kind of cool they are using Matt Groening designs over the more standardized “model sheet” look. Over at the Postal Service website you can vote for your favorite stamp or you can pre-order the set.

There will be First-Day-of-Issue Dedication Ceremony at 20th Century-Fox Studios in Los Angeles at 11:15 a.m. PT on Thursday, May 7. Matt Groening, producer James L. Brooks and several of the actors are scheduled to attend. A limited number of seats are available to the public on a first-call, first-reserved basis. Those interested in attending should call 1-866-268-3243 beginning Friday, April 10th between noon and 5 p.m. ET. For more info click here.

The Upstate Four: An Interview with Fran and Will Krause

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The Upstate Four (viewable in two parts above) is an eleven-minute Cartoon Network pilot created by brothers Fran Krause and Will Krause. When I first saw it last year, I was immediately taken by the quality of the production. Funny and fresh, energetic and entertaining, it looks and feels like nothing else currently out there. On top of that, the character animation is handled beautifully with none of the corner-cutting that has become an unfortunate hallmark of contemporary Flash TV animation.

The pilot wasn’t picked up for series production and languished at Cartoon Network, but the brothers Krause received recognition for their efforts in the form of a top prize for Children’s Television Animation at the Ottawa International Animation Festival as well as an Excellence in Animation prize from the 2008 ASIFA-East Animation Festival.

The Krause’s pilot for The Upstate Four raises the bar for TV animation everywhere, and proves that, with thoughtful planning and execution, top-grade TV animation is within reach. I wanted to learn how such an inspired and quality piece of work made it through the moribund development pipeline at Cartoon Network. The interview below was conducted via email, and in our far-ranging conversation, Fran and Will guide us through the tangled development process, their feelings about pitching, whether the type of quality they achieved in this pilot could be maintained in regular series production, and some of the lessons they learned from creating this pilot.

Continue reading

Animators’ Comic Strips

Ger Apeldoorn has uncovered a real find. A set of obscure comic strips, created for a local California newspaper in 1950 (The Redwood Journal-Press-Dispatch in Ukiah), that were written and drawn by Hollywood animators! Art by Gil Turner, Ray Patin, Gus Jekel, Dick Moores, Jerry Hathcock, Tom Ray, James Will, Dave Mitchell, Jack King, Jack Bradbury and (maybe) Cal Dalton has been identified. Ger is looking to find more information on this batch of mysterious strips. Check it out here.

3-D is a Fad

I love 3D movies.

Thanks to a pair of 3-D film festivals held in L.A. several years ago, I’ve been lucky enough to see perhaps 95% of all 3-D films ever made. On top of that, I think the use of 3-D in recent motion pictures (Coraline for example) is perhaps the best application of the format in film history. Digital technology has -at last- perfected the technique. I’m not crazy about having to wear the extra set of glasses… nevertheless, it’s a wonderful way to experience a movie.

But it ain’t gonna last.

The current preponderance of 3-D films that Hollywood is perpetuating is simply a business trend. The medium is not being revolutionized. It is not the second coming of The Jazz Singer.

A front page article in Monday’s L.A. Times (“Taking Filmmaking To Another Dimension” 04/06/09) repeated all the hype, reported all the grosses and played up all the coming attractions that have been reported everywhere – from Variety to The Wall Street Journal – in recent weeks. It’s almost overkill. Yeah, yeah, we know… Katzenberg, Lasseter, Cameron, Zemeckis, everyone in Hollywood is on board. And they’ve declared Monsters Vs. Aliens as the watershed picture. Its opening grosses, in 3D venues, justify a sea change in production, distribution and exhibition.

But it’s all B.S.

First off, all this nonsense about how all the “old” 3D movies used red/blue anaglyph is a lie. Yes, prior to 1952 there were a few releases (like Pete Smith’s MGM “Metroscopiks” shorts) that used the technique (and don’t miss Albert Brooks’ hilarious faux anaglyph trailer for Real Life (1979) which perpetuates the myth), but all features made since the 50s use essentially the same polaroid system used today. The big difference, thanks to digital projection, is today’s 3D movies are easier to show and have perfect registration between the two images projected.

Next, the current hype about the studios’ expectations of 3-D is a 55-year old rerun. As Leonard Maltin said in this Wall Street Journal article, it’s “an absolute replica of the pronouncements and interviews that came out in 1953.” This time, however, the pronouncements are bigger and louder. Director Patrick Lussier (of the recent 3-D slasher flick, My Bloody Valentine) is quoted in the L.A. Times piece saying, “You could do My Dinner With Andre in 3-D and it would be incredibly compelling.” Maybe so, but it would be because of the script and acting, not the “immersive 3D experience”. Lussier also claims that the 3-D format is “more than a fad.”

Sorry… it’s a fad. A fad concocted and controlled by the major studios. The question is “why”? Here’s the answer: the studios are promoting 3-D films right now in an effort to convince the theaters to convert to digital projection. Once all theatres go digital, there will be no need for the studios to create expensive 35mm prints, they’ll be no more costs for reels and cans; the cost of transporting 100 pound film canisters coast to coast, the cost of storing prints in film depots and later, the cost of destroying worn prints will be eliminated. The savings to the studios will be enormous.

The theaters have resisted the move to digital because it costs tens of thousands of dollars to replace the 35mm projectors and install the new equipment. Theaters contend there’s nothing wrong with 35mm film; that audiences can’t tell the difference, so why bother to convert. Thus the studios are gung-ho for 3-D in an effort to provide something that digital can do more effectively than traditional film equipment.

There are other reasons as well: Digital distribution will cut down (or hopefully eliminate) film piracy; and 3-D films can attract people to theatres to experience a visual show they cannot (as of yet) get on cable TV, blu-ray discs or over the internet.

BUT as soon as all theaters (or a majority of them) eliminate film and go completely digital, I predict the current 3-D fad will end.

The recent 3-D propaganda, aimed at the general public and national movie chains, is really a push for digital conversion sooner rather than later. This is all well and good, but it has nothing to do with storytelling or good filmmaking.

The 3-D gimmick didn’t last in the 1950s, nor the 80s. It wasn’t because the process was more primitive – it wasn’t. Animated films (or any films) today are going to be successful in 2D or 3D, hand drawn or CGI, due to one thing: story – not special effects or 3-D. Cinemas will all go digital eventually. 3-D itself is pretty cool. It just bothers me how it’s being sold to public. Wearing glasses to the movies is not the future.

The new Warner Bros. studio mural

Three months ago we mourned the end of the Warner Bros. animation mural at the intersection of Barham, Pass and Olive in Burbank. Tonight, Warners threw a party on the studio backlot to unveil the new cartoon billboard to replace it. Here it is. DC super heroes now take center stage, flying over the Hall of Justice (a nod to Hanna Barbera’s Super Friends), with Bugs, Daffy, Tweety and Sylvester lurking around the edges. Though I wish the Looney Tunes got a little more space, I’m grateful Scooby Doo has been downsized. One unique feature of the mural is that a group of super villains appear along the bottom – but are only visible at night.

Peter Girardi designed the mural, Tommy Tejeda drew the superheroes with input from Bruce Timm, James Tucker and Glen Murakami. Other celebrities at the event included Julie Newmar (Catwoman) and Diedrich Bader (the current voice of Batman).

F5 Conference Ticket Giveaway

F5 Fest

“This isn’t ‘another design conference.’ It’s a meeting of great minds,” tout the promo materials for F5, a conference that takes place next week at the Roseland Ballroom in Manhattan.

Everything I’ve read about it indicates that F5 is going to be a winning event for artists, and an interesting opportunity to network with an eclectic group of creative professionals.. I also have high hopes for F5 because one of its organizers is Justin Cone, who’s the mastermind behind the must-read blog Motionographer. The F5 site explains that the event “is founded on the belief that true change occurs when you look outside your world and explore new horizons. The festival fosters creative collisions–unexpected insights from sources you didn’t see coming. The goal is nothing less than to change the way you think about your work and your life.”

The line-up of speakers includes:

* Ed Ulbrich, co-founder of multiple Academy Award-winning Digital Domain
* Acclaimed photographer/filmmaker Charlie White
* Jonah Lehrer, editor at large for Seed magazine and author of How We Decide
* MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow
* Media Molecule, celebrated developers of LittleBigPlanet
* Presentations by CG and digital studios including Shilo, Psyop, The Blackheart Gang, and Danny Yount from Kyle Cooper’s studio Prologue

Conference tickets for the two-day event (April 16 and 17) are $280 regular price and $150 for students. Thanks to the generosity of the event’s organizers, Cartoon Brew is giving away TWO FULL PASSES to the festival. If you’re planning to attend and are interested in winning a pass, simply leave a comment in this post by the end of today. The only qualification is that your comment must include a link to your website, and if you don’t have a site (what kind of an artist are you?), then post the link to your LinkedIn or Myspace. The contest will close at 11:59pm tonight and we’ll announce the winners on Wednesday.

For more info about F5, visit the official website at F5Fest.com.

Animated Spaces / Animated Bodies

This Friday, the University of Southern California is presenting a free evening of animation-based installations and performances. The location is the brand new Spielberg-Lucas School of Cinematic Arts building where animation installations will fill the theatres, lobbies, and courtyards.

Featured artists include Professor Christine Panushka and Associate Professor Sheila Sofian, along with work by current Hench-DADA graduate students, and guest animation performance & installations by Miwa Matreyek, Jim Ovelmen and Alberto ‘Beto’ Araiza.

The event is on Friday, April 10, 2009 from 7 P.M. to 10 P.M. in the School of Cinematic Arts Complex. Admission is FREE. No reservations necessary.For more information check the USC website.

Earliest Disney records?

Here’s a treat. Music historian and record archivist Mike Kieffer sent me a copy of his latest find. It’s the first authorized recording made of Minnie’s Yoo Hoo in 1930 which, Mike says, “…was not released until about January 1931. However, this still predates the next earliest Mickey Mouse song, which is by the Varsity Eight from late 1931. It’s also the only instance I can recall of a piece composed by Carl Stalling issued on a commercial record, other than perhaps children’s records from the 1940s and beyond. I think the vocalist is the bandleader himself, Leo Zollo, but I’m not sure about that. The personnel is apparently unknown, as is the exact recording date, but it’s sometime in May-June of 1930.” Click on the label at left to see it larger, and you can listen to the delightful track here:

Mickey Mouse historian David Gerstein has also uncovered the earliest Mickey Mouse-based sheet music he’s aware of. Says David, “It was published in both England and Germany in 1930. The recording of it that I’ve attached (below) is one that I acquired on a bootleg CD years ago; there, it was credited to musician Leonard Henry and dated 1930 as well. Any British Brew readers who’d like to help me identify label and confirm the 1930 recording date are more than welcome.”

(Thanks to Mike Kieffer and David Gerstein)

Christian Bale Animation Contest

Christian Bale contest

The boys at Spline Doctors, a loose teaching collective comprised of Pixar animators, hosted an animation contest on their site that asked readers to animate a certain infamous piece of dialogue by Christian Bale. Their call for entries generated over twenty-five entries. Go here to see the winners along with all of the other contest entries.

On a sidenote, the antics of Christian Bale are proving to be rich fodder for animation artists around the world. French illustrator Laurent Blachier and BusterDesign.tv also created this Christian Bale piece.

Van Beuren’s Toddle Tales and Rainbow Parade

Steve Stanchfield has done it again. An animator, educator, cartoon historian and film preservationist, Stanchfield has spent the last few years curating several first-class DVD compilations devoted to the long-forgotten New York-based Van Beuren Studios. His previous efforts include sets devoted to their Aesop’s Fables, Little King and Cubby Bear series. His latest DVD is his best yet: Van Beuren’s Toddle Tales and Rainbow Parade Cartoons. This collection features the best from Van Bueren’s latter years, 1934-1935, when Burt Gillett, Tom Palmer and Ted Eshbaugh were brought in to revitalize the cartoon shorts. They came up with Toddle Tales, which combined live action-and-animation with sometimes disturbing results, and the Rainbow Parade cartoons, which used a limited two-color palette in the most garish ways imaginable. Highlights of the set include the best versions of these cartoons I’ve ever seen (many with long lost original titles). The Sunshine Makers, in particular, never looked so good – it’s worth the price of the set alone. There are rare model sheets, home movie boxes, deleted scenes and more in the Bonus section. Stanchfield puts a lot of TLC into these DVD collections – and it shows. I recommend this highly to anyone, especially those who love 1930s-style animation.

Rodney (1956)

Last week Amid posted several Disney industrial films and got quite a nice reaction, so I thought I’d try posting another one – this one not from Disney. Sometimes we dwell too much on the commercial and entertainment films produced by Hollywood and New York’s animation industry, but it was industrial and educational films like these that were the backbone of the business in the 1940s, 50s and 60s.

Rodney (posted below) is typical of the kind of bread and butter product produced by small studios that kept animators alive between larger assignments. Lee Blair’s New York studio, Film Graphics, produced this one allowing veteran animator Lu Guarnier a rare chance to direct. Don Towsley, Cliff Auguston and Preston Blair animated. Jack Shaindlin, a well known stock music composer, provides a classic 1950s score.

Cataloging the hundreds (thousands?) of ephemeral films like these is the next great frontier in researching animation. An important part of the history of the medium is contained within these – and many of them are still lost, neglected or forgotten.

Protesting Foie Gras at Euro Disney

Foie Gras at EuroDisney

As part of an online campaign to protest the serving of foie gras at Euro Disney, Jurjen Bosklopper and Mustafa Kandaz created an animated piece that features a couple of familiar characters preparing geese for the dish. The spot was created from start to finish in two weeks, and it’s a fine example of how to humorously and effectively communicate a message using simple well-planned animation.

(via Motionographer)

Craig Yoe’s Secret Identity

I endorse everything Craig Yoe does. Even this.

Especially this. His latest book project, Secret Identity: The Fetish Art of Superman’s Co-Creator Joe Shuster, is having a launch party this Sunday night. The book collects recently rediscovered X-rated art by the Shuster, done to illustrate erotic magazines in the 1950s, a low point in his professional career. The public is invited to join Craig (“along with assorted BDSM fetishists and comic book enthusiasts” — is there a difference?) Sunday April 5th from 8pm to 2am at ARLO & ESME, 42 E. 1st Street [at 2nd Ave.] in lovely New York City. Come dressed as a superhero and win a prize. For more info go to Yoe’s blog.

Spider-man (1967)

Love it or hate it – the theme song has become a classic.

Marvel.com is posting the entire series of the 1967 ABC Spider-man Saturday morning cartoon show, one episode per week (each Thursday) on their site. It’s amazing that talents like John Dunn and Herman Cohen worked on this stuff. I don’t know if I can watch more than one – however the Bakshi ones come later in the run and they may be worthwhile. Here’s the first episode…

The Gathering

The San Diego Union Tribune is reporting on a controversy brewing at the Chuck Jones Gallery over a new one-of-a-kind oil painting displayed in their window. It’s a parody of Leonardo da Vinci’s The Last Supper named The Gathering. It substitutes Looney Tunes characters, and the Grinch, for disciples — and Bugs Bunny for Jesus.

“Most people think it’s fun and amusing, but 5 percent are pulling their hair out,” said Mike Dicken, sales director for the gallery. Click here for a larger version of the above. For more information click here.

(Thanks, Jon Cooke)

Radio Barrier

Animation historian Michael Barrier spent 40 minutes today discussing classic cartoons on the radio show RadioWest, originating from The University of Utah in Salt Lake City, on NPR’s KUER 90.1. It was a lively conversation that centered on the Warner Bros. cartoons and discussed their adult appeal, the comics, the music, wartime cartoons, cartoon stereotypes, Bob Clampett, Chuck Jones, What’s Opera Doc?, as well as South Park and other fun topics.

It’ll be available online for only three weeks, so I’d recommend listening in soon. Here’s the link.

Jack Dunham, 1910-2009

I’ve learned that American animator Jack Dunham passed away a couple weeks ago at age 98. I’d written about Dunham back in 2006 after a story was published in the Montreal Gazette about how he and his wife had become homeless in Canada.

Born in North Dakota in 1910, Dunham worked at Universal on Oswald shorts in the early-1930s before moving to Disney in the mid-1930s. After Snow White, on which he was an inbetweener, he moved into management where he worked as a unit manager until 1947. There’s a fascinating series of videos on YouTube that offer short interviews with Dunham from a couple years ago. The memories aren’t very specific, likely because he wasn’t being challenged with specific names or events, but it’s still a treat that these videos exist. Here’s one of him talking about encounters with Walt Disney:

A couple photos of Dunham exist online. The first one comes from Michael Barrier’s website and shows Dunham (right) with Tex Avery at Universal.

Jack Dunham and Tex Avery

The second photo, from the Animation Guild blog, shows Dunham (left) at the infamous Snow White wrap party at the Norconian Club in Norco, California.

Jack Dunham at Disney

The description text in the YouTube videos offers an account of Dunham’s post-Disney career:

Jack later moved to Canada in 1955 by invitation of the Canadian Government to manage Associated Screen News (ASN) of Canada in Montreal. After his mandate at ASN Jack continued to live in Canada where he mainly produced animated and live action commercials in Montreal and Toronto, Canada. He was the original artist of Montreal’s famous St. Hubert BBQ Chicken cartoon character and produced their first television commercials among many others.

[In 2006] Jack and his wife Dorothy were evicted from their Montreal appartment and placed against their will under Quebec Government care. Because they were now homeless and his wife was highly dependent on alcohol they were locked up indefinitely in a psych wing of an all-French old age residence to prevent them from trying to escape. While in a wheelchair at 96 years old, Jack and his wife Dorothy (seventy years old) successfully planned and executed an escape to Ottawa by bus from Montreal where they were found by police in an Ottawa hotel a few days later and returned to the Montreal facility against their will. I just received word two weeks ago that he passed away [around March 15, 2009]. He was a real great guy with an incredible history spanning nearly a century. He never gave up hope and is finally free.

CG Blogging

No, this isn’t an April Fool’s joke.

Since November, blogger Dave Stratton has been posting in the form of “daily dialog-driven animation.” Stratton prefers to create these pieces instead of writing. Oh, have I mentioned Stratton is a professional copy writer? He certainly isn’t a professional animator.

Check out all his posts at Dead Pan Inc. – if you dare.

(Thanks, Alex Rannie)