For several hours over the weekend, 14 Cartoonstitute shorts were posted on You Tube. Monday morning they were all gone. However, one of them – Derek Drymon’s Danger Planet – has escaped and I’m pleased to post it below. Watch it while you can:
John McElwee waxes nostalgic about collecting 8mm home movies and Flip The Frog on his Greenbriar Picture Shows blog. As usual on his site, McElwee’s illustrated the piece with rare trade advertisements from the 1930s.
Also, this Flip doll has to be one of the ugliest pieces of cartoon merchandising I’ve ever seen. That said, I want one.
Leah Shore just graduated from RISD. This is her thesis film. This is either genius or nonsense. I’ll let you decide. It’s NSFW.
I’d like to applaud Channel Frederator for finally seeing the light after nearly four years of operation, and announcing that they’re going to begin doing what Cartoon Brew TV has been doing since day one: paying filmmakers for their content.
They even made a video to commemorate this momentous occasion:
Let’s get one thing straight: Paying artists is always a positive thing. But the manner in which the guys at Channel Frederator are doing it continues to reflect their lack of regard and respect for the filmmaking community upon which they’ve built their brand. Seriously, in what universe is $50 considered an acceptable fee for anything nowadays? Have they been misinformed that filmmakers can time travel back to 1964 to make all their purchases?
Here’s a reality check–the last time I went out to lunch with Channel Frederator founder Fred Seibert, our lunch bill ended up being over fifty smackers. In other words, this paltry amount isn’t even enough to fill up Fred’s tummy for one afternoon, yet somehow it’s supposed to represent a filmmaker’s reward for months of blood, sweat and tears. They’ve also announced that every month they’ll pay the filmmaker of the most viewed film a whopping $200. Guess what? That’s still less than what we pay every single filmmaker on Cartoon Brew TV.
Cartoon Brew TV doesn’t claim to be the standard bearer for online film distribution. Our company is two guys, Jerry and myself, and we’ve never received tens of millions of dollars in funding like Channel Frederator’s parent company, Next New Networks. But at the end of the day, I sleep well knowing that I do my best within our limited means to give something back to the community. I don’t make self-congratulatory videos and blog posts when I decide to do the right thing that I should have been doing all along. I put my money where my mouth is instead of making grandiose outward shows of being artist-friendly and supportive of creators. And most importantly, I don’t insult filmmakers by paying them fifty bucks.Â
I truly believe that there needs to exist an alternative to the hucksters who have been exploiting the animation talent pool for years. This is what drives me to continue building Cartoon Brew TV into the premier destination for animated shorts online. We all know that the possibilities for filmmakers to earn money on the Internet are greater than ever. And while I don’t have a lot of money, I have more than $50, and I’m more than happy to dole it out when I put your film on the site. Who knows, maybe this idea of paying animators a respectable fee for showing their work online will someday become an industry-wide practice.Â It’s only fair, right?
And so it goes: Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs was the number #1 film in the country last week, grossing $30.1 million dollars in its first three days of release. However, Ben Fritz of the LA Times choose to report the story this way:
Sony’s animated film opens at No. 1, but its $30.1 million is so-so. Although it’s relatively strong for the historically slow movie-going month of September, the opening of “Cloudy” is decent but not spectacular compared with its $100-million budget.
Animated features are earning big bucks, but what does it take for animation to earn some respect? Cloudy had a $30 million dollar opening, coming in at #1 – with #2 (Soderbergh’s The Informant) grossing almost $20 million dollars less, $10.5 million. Hollywood would declare any live action flick earning $30 million over three days in September, beating the competition two-to-one like Cloudy did, a major blockbuster. Instead, the film’s opening gross was “decent, but not spectacular.”
Instead of comparing Cloudy to other movies in the marketplace, or maybe to previous live action comedies, the LA Times rated its success against Dreamworks, Pixar and Blue Sky’s CG films – and judged it poorly against them. To quote again from Mr. Fritz:
It also keeps Sony behind several of its more experienced animation competitors — DreamWorks, Disney’s Pixar and Fox’s Blue Sky — all of whose movies usually have bigger openings.
For good measure, Fritz decides to remind us of how poorly Sony’s previous film did – and despite Cloudy’s number one status in South America, has doubts about its chances in Europe:
The studio’s second animated movie, 2007′s “Surf’s Up,” was a box-office flop that opened to just $17.6 million. It remains to be seen how Sony’s new animated film will perform overseas, although it did open at No. 1 this weekend in four countries: Britain, Mexico, Chile and Ecuador.
It never ceases to amaze me. You can have the biggest hit in Hollywood, and the industry trade reporters will still treat your film as a second-class citizen – if its animated.
Now, for a second week in a row, Cloudy came in again at #1 – with a 19% drop-off in attendance from the previous week. Word of mouth is clearly kicking in; and 19% is a record low for a second week of any Hollywood film. Still, several industry pundits are now tying Cloudy’s surprise success to the fact that it was released in 3-D.
Has it ever occurred to these geniuses that maybe, perhaps, possibly… that this non-Pixar-Dreamworks-Blue Sky animated film could actually be “good”. That audiences might conceivably want a funny story, with crazy characters, spectacular visuals and great animation?
Until they figure it out, animation will remain Hollywood’s biggest mystery. And like Rodney (or Rover) Dangerfield, animated features will still be waiting for respect.
I’m still not a fan of Family Guy, but I have to admit this is a terrific sequence from last night’s 8th season premiere episode.
UPDATE: You should read the comments on this post for sequence production details from Family Guy director Greg Colton, and the lead animator of the piece, Darlie Brewster (posting with the handle DarlieB). Our thanks to both of them for participating in the comments.
Last weekend, Sony’s Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs surprised everybody by grossing $24.6 million and staying atop the North American box office for a second week in a row. More impressively, the film declined only 19% from its opening weekend, putting it behind just Taken and Coraline for the smallest drop of any new movie in 2009.
A number of artists who worked on the film have been posting stuff from it on their blogs. Here are a few links:
Kris Pearn, storyboard – Post
Chris Mitchell, visual development – Post
Dave Gibson, animator – Post
Jeremy Bernstein, animator – Post
Or if all this clicking is too much, just pick up a copy of The Art and Making of Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs .
This is an absolutely beautiful teaser trailer for a proposed feature by a group of Argentine animators. Diego De Rose and his grupo at Wujoco Animation sent us the trailer along with this introduction:
WUJOCO was formed by a team of professional animation artists who were determined to fuse their skill in the craft, as well as their experience in the trade, in order to produce original content of their own. So far, I would like to introduce you to an animated feature film project we are working on, whose title is Angel Vitamina.
Angel Vitamina is a low budget independent project that required a huge effort by the group, and most of our working time, just to reach to this level. We at Wujoco realize that this is just a beginning. But, nevertheless, we think this tale is something worth fighting for. Please, take a look: our Angel needs a lot of support to rise and fly!
The character designs and a short storyline can be found at angelvitamina.com. I’m certainly rooting for Wujoco to finish the film.
I collect all the Pixar and Disney Little Golden Books because they usually feature incredible artwork by the studio’s best artists. And the price is right too, only $3.99. The uber-talented Lorelay Bove illustrated the latest one based on The Princess and the Frog and she’s offering a tiny sneak peek on her blog. It’ll go on sale October 13th – and I can’t wait.
We’ve posted often about Jules Engel, and now the iotaCenter has released a DVD of his later, rarely seen experimental works. Jules Engel: Selected Works, Volume I is a collection of fifteen animated films from the famed artist, animator and educator.
Engel, who started as a inbetweener on Columbia Krazy Kat and Scrappy cartoons, went on to become a major influence at Disney during it’s golden age, a key artist and designer at UPA in their heyday, a founder of Format Films, a beloved teacher at Cal Arts, an acclaimed abstract artist and experimental animator.
Check out the excerpts (below) from his 1963 personal film Carnival and see excerpts from others films contained on the DVD at iotacenter.org.
Britain not only has universal health care, but their National Health Service is supporting animation with a competition to find a new cartoon spokesperson. Five finalists have now been chosen and the NHS has posted them online for public feedback. You can view the films on the shortlist here – and scroll down to see a vintage Halas and Batchelor cartoon, Charley in Your Very Good Health, which introduced the NHS to the public in 1948.
All five are of merit. This one (below) by The Brothers McLeod is perhaps my favorite.
Here Comes Science is a new album of science-related children’s songs by They Might Be Giants. The dvd that is included with the package offers an animated short for each of the nineteen songs. The videos were clearly made on a budget, and some of them suffer for that, though there are plenty of good ones too. Overall, it’s worth applauding the ambitiousness of the project. Here are some of the videos that have appeared online:
“How Many Planets?”
Directors: Max Porter and Ru Kuwahata
“Why Does the Sun Shine?”
Director: Hine Mizushima
“Meet the Elements”
Director: Feel Good Anwyay
“Enchanted by a pixie, a child called Yorick enters a magical kingdom, but when Yorick returns he finds his world ravaged by time.”
Another nice music video by Giles Timms, this time set in a hand drawn pen and ink world inspired by Edward Gorey and animated in a cut-out style. Compositing and animation in After Effects. Produced at the Animation Workshop at the UCLA School of Theater, Film and Television. The track, Dead All Along, is performed by Ceri Frost.