(Thanks, William Skaleski)
Francis Thompson (1908-2003) made this striking work, NY, NY: A Day in New York, in 1957. Trained as a painter, he was interested in finding a way to capture the effects of Surrealism and Cubism in photography. He achieved that through a variety of lenses, reflectors, optical effects and editing tricks. The film works both in the abstract and narrative sense, and while it’s not animated, Thompson’s creative use of the cinema medium is fresher and more emotionally engaging than many of today’s artificial worlds created through motion graphics and digital means. Thompson was secretive about how he made the film, describing the production simply as, “a magic, secret process of bending, twisting, and turning inside out. It was a self-funded project that involved my roaming about New York City with a camera over my shoulder.”
Aldous Huxley once wrote about this film:
“And then there is what may be called the Distorted Documentary a new form of visionary art, admirably exemplified by Mr. Francis Thompson’s film, NY, NY. In this very strange and beautiful picture we see the city of New York as it appears when photographed through multiplying prisms, or reflected in the backs of spoons, polished hub caps, spherical and parabolic mirrors. We still recognize houses, people, shop fronts, taxicabs, but recognize them as elements in one of those living geometries which are so characteristic of the visionary experience. The invention of this new cinematographic art seems to presage (thank heaven!) the supersession and early demise of non-representational painting. It used to be said by the non-representationalists that colored photography had reduced the old-fashioned portrait and the old-fashioned landscape to the rank of otiose absurdities. This, of course, is completely untrue. Colored photography merely records and preserves, in an easily reproducible form, the raw materials with which portraitists and landscape painters work. Used as Mr. Thompson has used it, colored cinematography does much more than merely record and preserve the raw materials of non-representational art; it actually turns out the finished product. Looking at NY, NY, I was amazed to see that virtually every pictorial device invented by the old masters of non-representational art and reproduced ad nauseam by the academicians and mannerists of the school, for the last forty years or more, makes its appearance, alive, glowing, intensely significant, in the sequences of Mr. Thompson’s film.
One of the most interesting animated-related pieces I’ve read in a while: David OReilly discusses his technical and aesthetic approach to the short Please Say Something. His ideas are a polar opposite of mainstream computer animation:
My central idea in constructing the world of the film was to prove that something totally artificial and unreal could still communicate emotion and hold cinematic truth. The film makes no effort to cover up the fact that it is a computer animation, it holds an array of artifacts which distance it from reality, which tie it closer to the software it came from. This idea is in direct opposition to all current trends in animation, which take the route of desperately trying to look real, usually by realistic lighting and rendering, or by forcing a hand-made or naive appearance. At the time of writing, this trend shows no apparent signs of ceasing.
Filmmaker Gavin Freitas found this notice on Craigslist:
Cartoon Network seeks Teens (12-18) for new competition show! (Los Angeles)
CASTING TEENAGERS AGES 12-18 FOR HIGH ENERGY/POP CULTURE SHOW THAT CHALLENGES YOUR MIND AND YOUR BODY!!!!
THIS IS NOT ABOUT ANY ONE SKILL, BUT YOUR DESIRE TO WIN!!
Are you fast on your toes and quick on your trivia knowledge?
The Cartoon Network is looking for FUN & ENERGETIC teens to show us what they know in a fast paced competition show that’s big on thrills!!!
Shoot Dates (MUST BE AVAILABLE ALL 3 or 4 DAYS):
TBD MID SEPTEMBER
Contestants will be paid a participation fee + a chance for CASH PRIZES!!
Participants MUST have or obtain an entertainment work permits. If you do not have a work permit we can provide you with the paperwork, but your legal guardian and school will need to approve ASAP.
Parent or Legal Guardian must accompany teens under 18 to shoot.
MUST provide age verification at audition (Birth Certificate and School ID) and a copy of current work permit if available.
If interested, please email email@example.com with a recent PHOTO, your age/birthdate, and a quick couple lines to introduce yourself
Location: Los Angeles
Compensation: daily participation fee + cash prizes
We haven’t plugged any podcasts in a while. Here’s one that’s worth your time: Todd Dolce runs an animation/cartooning webcast that should be of interest to many Brew readers. Recently, Dolce has done terrific interviews with Gene Deitch (Tom Terrific), Don Bluth (Secret of Nimh), Dan Thompson (Rip Haywire), Joe Harris (Underdog), cartoonist Bob Scott, and illustrator Lowell Hess. All deserve a listen. It’s officially called the Boing Podcast and here is the link.
Trailer is out today for Wes Anderson’s first animated feature Fantastic Mr. Fox. Maybe it’s just me, but the dialogue delivery sounds stilted and leadfooted throughout the trailer. On the other hand, the production design looks fantastic indeed. Like Coraline, we’re seeing another stop-motion feature that is pushing the boundaries of mainstream feature animation design and searching for an original look. That’s never a bad thing.
Despite my love and devotion to The Merry Marvel Marching Society, I have to admit these new Marvel Comic anime trailers are pretty kick-ass cool:
(Thanks, Red Pill Junkie)
Game site 1Up.com is reporting on an ambitious new “steampunk” Mickey Mouse game in development, codenamed Epic Mickey. Warren Spector (video game superstar behind System Shock, Deus Ex) and Disney’s Junction Point Studios are working on this secret project, in development for Nintendo’s Wii. Artists Tony Pulham, Gary Glover and Fred Gambino are said to be doing development art (click thumbnails above for larger images). For more art and info, click here.
The folks at the John Basmajian Collection have just unearthed – and posted – a reel of rare 8mm film footage of the infamous 1941 Disney animators strike. This is new stuff and incredibly rare. They even did a nice job of adding sound effects to bring it to life. Tom Sito points out, when watching the footage, to look for these highlights:
â€¢ The first man shown speaking on a microphone is Animator Art Babbitt.
â€¢We see a shot of Walt Disney standing in the guard shack, hat on head and white shirt open at the neck, watching the strikers outside his gate.
â€¢ The second closeup of a man using a microphone is actor John Garfield, a matinee idol of the 1940s.
â€¢ The next shot is Walt Disney going through the picketline in his fashionable Packard.
â€¢ The next person driving his car through the disapproving pickets is director Ham Luske.
â€¢ The group carrying the Guillotine is the Warner Bros unit, led by picket captain Chuck Jones- the young man to the left in the black shirt. The effigy in the Guillotine was supposed to be of Disney’s attorney Gunther Lessing.
The footage is posted here.
How did we ever manage to answer these burning animation history questions before the existence of Yahoo! Answers?
What hath Disney’s G-Force wrought?
Thanks to its huge opening weekend box office gross, Paramount is fighting back with the Rats of Nimh. Neil Burger, who wrote The Illusionist and is currently working on The Bride of Frankenstein for Universal, is turning his attention to a CG re-do of Don Bluth’s The Secret of NIMH, according to Variety.
Meanwhile, Variety is also reporting that Universal Pictures and their animation division, Illumination Entertainment, are joining forces to turn the Dr. Seuss book The Lorax into a 3-D CG animated feature. The project will be co-directed by Chris Renaud and Cinco Paul & Ken Daurio, with Paul & Daurio writing the script. The picture is targeted for a March 2, 2012, release, which falls on the birthday of Theodor Geisel, who died in 1991.
I’ve nothing against adapting great children’s literature, or remaking cartoons based on great children’s literature, but why hasn’t the success of UP (U.S. gross $284,239,283. to date) inspired Hollywood to create something original? Oh, yeah… it’s Hollywood.
I had an opportunity to join selected journalists at a Hayao Miyazaki-John Lasseter press conference held yesterday (7/28) before their appearence at the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences last night. I also shot some video (sorry for the shakey hand held camera work, and the low audio) and thought it was worth sharing with our readers. In this first part below Miyazaki talks about using (or not using) CG and his chances of making a film in 3-D. Lasseter discusses the process of dubbing a Miyazaki’s films. Interesting to note they’ve already dubbed Tales From Earthsea.
In the second part, Lasseter discusses 3-D animated films; Miyazaki talks about what’s happening with his son:
In the third part, John Lasseter discusses his admiration of Miyazaki’s films, his reaction to the first one he saw, Castle of Cagliostro, Miyazaki’s influence in Pixar films, and why he wants to bring Miyazaki’s films to the US:
Next Tuesdsay night at 8pm, I’ll be presenting a program of animation reflecting the styles, language and music of the Beat Generation. The screening will take place at the Silent Movie Theatre in Hollywood (on Fairfax and Melrose), continuing my series of first-Tuesday-of-each-month animation spectaculars there. Rare film prints and video will be screened and the program will include independent films, TV cartoons (though not any Dick Tracy cartoons with Heap O’Calorie and Nick, as pictured above). We will screen works by Ernest Pintoff, Bob Clampett, Jay Ward and others. Grab an Espresso and join me next week. It’ll be cool, Daddy-o! More info here.
Powerful trailer for Born Under Fire, a documentary about the on-going war conflict in Colombia that uses voices from children who have witnessed the events and incorporates their drawings into the film. It is directed by Jairo Eduardo Carrillo with animation produced by Oscar Andrade at his studio Jaguar Digital. It was originally a short, PequeÃ±as Voces, that has been reworked into a full-length film. Visit the website HERE.
(Thanks, Carlo Guillot)