Contest #2: El SuperBeasto

CONTEST CLOSED! The first six readers who provided a correct answer to this question in the comments section below will receive a copy of the new DVD feature, Rob Zombie presents The Haunted World of El SuperBeasto (courtesy Starz Media/Film Roman). This film is for adults only and will require the winners to state they are over 18.

Paul Giamatti plays Dr. Satan in The Haunted World of El SuperBeasto. Name any other animated film, animated TV series or independent animated short Giamatti has loaned his voice to.

See the answers in our comments section below. CONTEST CLOSED! NO MORE ANSWERS ACCEPTED!

2009: Five Features for Oscar??

I was going to write a post about this, but my friend Pete Hammond at the L.A. Times beat me to it.

This has been a pretty good year for animated features and by my count we have fifteen films that are technically qualified for an Academy Award nomination. In order to qualify for five nominees (as opposed the usual 3) the producers of all fifteen of these films must enter their features for nomination. Then a 16th (or better yet, a 17th and 18th) film must qualify – the rules state that five animated features can be nominated if 16 films qualify.

Here are the fifteen that already played (or will play) theatrically this year for at least one week in Los Angeles, in order of release:

1. CORALINE – Focus Features.
2. MONSTERS VS. ALIENS – Dreamworks
3. BATTLE FOR TERRA – Lionsgate.
4. UP – Pixar.
5. ICE AGE: DAWN OF THE DINOSAURS – 20th Century Fox.
6. PONYO – Walt Disney Pictures.
7. 9 – Focus Features.
8. CLOUDY WITH A CHANCE OF MEATBALLS – Columbia.
9. EVANGELION: 1.0 – YOU ARE (NOT) ALONE – Funimation.
10. MARY AND MAX – Sundance Selects/IFC.
11. ASTRO BOY – Summit Entertainment.
12. A CHRISTMAS CAROL – Disney.
13. THE FANTASTIC MR. FOX – 20th Century Fox.
14. PLANET 51 – Tri-Star.
15. THE PRINCESS AND THE FROG – Disney.

What, if any, other features are likely to open before now and the end of December? Perhaps The Secret of Kells, which had only one festival showing in LA. but no U.S. distributor that I know of. Perhaps the stop-mo A Town Called Panic, which recently played in NYC, will be given a run in LA? Maybe Disney, who are playing the direct-to-video feature Tinker Bell and the Lost Treasure for one week at El Capitan in Hollywood, CA, next week, will submit it for Academy consideration?

With ten (most likely all live action) films being nominated in the Best Feature category, it only seems fair that the animated feature race is upped to five contenders. Personally, I think there are more than enough good films this year worthy of a shot at the prize.

Gigantic Gigantor

Vistors to Kobe Japan will now be greeted by the sight of a 60-foot statue of Gigantor (Testsujin 28-go, to those in the know). This follows the unveiling of a 59-foot Gundam in Tokyo.

Not to be left out, Korea is building a gigantic Taekwon V statue (aka Voltar the Invincible), that will reportedly be more than twice the height of the Statue of Liberty.

Is there any chance we can construct a 60-foot Frankenstein Jr. in Manhattan?

(via Gizmodo, by way of The Beat)

Carlos Ramos on The Beatles Rock Band trailer

Beatles Rock Band

Carlos Ramos, the creator of Nickelodeon’s The X’s, ponders on his blog, Why can’t we have more hand-drawn animated features like Pete Candeland’s trailer for the videogame The Beatles Rock Band:

It’s such simple animation but with so many great tricks your eye can’t see the strings. Things like blurred focus, CG instruments and props, fast camera moves, quick cutting and gorgeous held drawings make this some of the best animation I’ve ever seen. The shame is that there isn’t a feature in our near future in this style. I swear it could save 2D but I’m sure that money is currently being spent on the next CG feature based on a children’s book with shrill celebrity voices.

I’m in complete agreement with Carlos. The trailer, which we wrote up earlier, is one of the most daring and dynamic pieces of commercial animation I’ve seen all year long. What prevents Hollywood from producing modestly budgeted animated features that have a clear directorial vision like this piece?

Iron Giant 10th Anniversary event – SOLD OUT!

ASIFA-Hollywood will celebrate the tenth anniversary of Warner Bros. Animation’s The Iron Giant with a panel discussion featuring several of the key animators and crew members responsible for the 1999 animated masterpiece.

Among the many artists expected to attend will be writer and director Brad Bird, background artist Anne Guenther, art director Alan Bodner, lead animator Steve Markowski, and artistic coordinator Scott Johnston. The panel will be moderated by animator Tom Sito.

The event will take place Friday, October 23, 2009, at 7:30 p.m. at the Fletcher Jones Foundation Auditorium, on the campus of Woodbury University, 7500 Glenoaks Blvd., in Burbank, California. Seating is limited. Reservations are required for this event and tickets are available through www.asifa-hollywood.org/irongiant. Members of ASIFA-Hollywood and students of Woodbury are $5; non-members $10. Parking is free. Proceeds from this program will benefit the ASIFA-Hollywood Animation Archive.

UPDATE: I was just informed, 24 hours after this posting, that this event is now SOLD OUT!

Epic Mickey update

Back in July we posted about a new Nintendo game in development, Epic Mickey. Now, the November issue of Game Informer magazine has the scoop on this new game from Junction Point and Disney Interactive Studios.

BTW, if you look really closely at that cover painting you’ll spot Oswald the Lucky Rabbit behind the gates in the center.

I’m not a gamer, but this thing looks pretty cool to me. Game Informer also posted a video podcast with game creator, Warren Spector, where he discusses his love of Mickey Mouse, Disney and all things classic animation – and on another page they post a gallery of Spector’s Disney collection, which includes everything from a killer The Three Caballeros half sheet poster to several issues of Gemstone’s Disney comics.

(Thanks, Platy)

Yarn and Lucky

Here are two non-narrative pieces that are quite pleasing to the eye. Adam Avilla and Tony Benna have joined forces to “try our might at becoming an artistic superpower.”

“Our most recent project spawned a notion to animate one of the most unruly mediums known to man: Yarn. After two cold months in a dark warehouse bedroom (which we transformed into a shooting stage) the spot was complete. The result of the exploration left us conjoined at the temple and deprived of precious vitamin D.”

Lucky is the collaboration between Melbourne based All India Radio and Darcy Prendergast’s animation company Dee Pee Studios

“It involves a painstaking animation technique, whereby the team paints in the air with glow sticks, frame after to frame to create entire sequences of animation, sometimes taking a whole night to shoot.”

Contest #1: Wallace’s voice?

Are you ready??

What is the name of the actor who does the voice of “Wallace” in the Wallace and Gromit Films?

THE CONTEST IS NOW CLOSED! WINNERS TO BE ANNOUNCED SHORTLY!

The earliest person to correctly answer gets a copy of the latest Aardman Animation production, Wallace and Gromit: A Matter of Loaf and Death (courtesy of Lionsgate). The second place winner will receive a copy of David Levy’s vital new book Animation Development (Thanks to Allworth Press). The lucky people who correctly answer fourth, fifth, sixth and beyond will get nothing (or as Stan Lee used to say, “a No-Prize”!) The poor unfortunate who’s correct answer is the third received will get an unopened, mint-in-box Scooby Doo and the Samurai Sword, the latest direct-to-DVD production from Warner Bros. Animation.

RESPONSE TO THIS CONTEST CRASHED OUR SERVER. OUR SECOND CONTEST (El SuperBeasto) WILL BE RE-SCHEDULED FOR LATER THIS WEEK!

The Apple and the Worm

Animator David Nethery pointed me toward this intriguing 2D animated feature coming from Denmark, The Apple & the Worm, directed by Anders Morgenthaler (Princess). It was apparently made totally paperless, drawn on Wacom Cintiq tablets, using TVP Animation software. If any of our bilingual readers can translate the trailer’s introductory dialogue, please send us a comment.

The poster and still images are posted here and a very good article about the film and the director is up at Denmark Film Institute.

Monday Morning: BIG CONTESTS! BIG PRIZES!

Don’t say we didn’t warn ya: We will be holding two contests on Monday (10/5) and be giving away a bunch of cool prizes.

Winning both contests require you being the FIRST few people to correctly answer a question about animation, a question somewhat related to the prize. The first contest will be posted at 10am Pacific / 1pm Eastern and the first prize is a copy of the latest, wonderful Aardman Animation production, Wallace and Gromit: A Matter of Loaf and Death (courtesy of Lionsgate). The second place winner will receive a copy of David Levy’s vital new book Animation Development (Thanks to Allworth Press). The booby prize third prize is Scooby Doo and the Samurai Sword, the latest direct-to-DVD production from Warner Bros. Animation (hey, they sent me a copy and a gotta give it away to somebody!).

At 11am Pacific Time (2pm, east coast), we will have a second contest question and the first six adults to answer correctly will receive a copy of the new DVD feature, Rob Zombie presents The Haunted World of El SuperBeasto (courtesy Starz Media/Film Roman). This film is for adults only and will require the winners to state they are over 18.

We ask that winners of recent Cartoon Brew contests of the past year not compete, and allow others a chance to win a prize. See you here tomorrow, and good luck to all!

Sunday Afternoon with a Kid With A Rocket Launcher

Two separate independent projects, with little in common outside of both being made essentially by one person, each with a lot of dedication. First up, Matthew Reis’ Kid With a Rocket Launcher:

Reis’ film is quite an ambitious project. Toon Boom just did an article on how it got made, and Reis has posted an extensive production blog.

Danny Ochoa, an indie animator residing in San Francisco, was commissioned to direct and animate a music video by local Bay Area band The Greening. I think it captures the proper underground comix feel:

Danny tells us:

Yes, I made the entire cartoon by myself… Written, directed and animated. The cartoon took me a year to complete because I had to work nights on it and had a day job at the time. It was rendered entirely in Flash and I tried to keep the look of the cartoon as traditionally hand drawn as possible, as almost every frame was meticulously hand drawn with a wacom tablet.

I love underground comics and cartoons from the golden age of animation so I tried to combine those two looks to the cartoon. The characters in the video are actually from a comic I have been self publishing for years called Molly & Jo. I hope to someday pitch “Molly & Jo” as an animated series and hope that the video is the first step in that direction.

Random UPA Publicity 1951-1953

Here’s some show-and-tell. I found these odds and ends of UPA publicity at Cinecon, the classic movie convention held in Hollywood over Labor day weekend. None of these miscellaneous tid-bits are very important, but they are all part of the great jigsaw puzzle of film history — and can be telling on how the UPA cartoons were marketed and perceived by the public at the time. The first row is a four page spread from a pocket-sized movie magazine called Prevue (July 1953). I posted the cover below left (click on thumbnails to see full size image). You never know what you’ll find in oddball (and odd-sized) fan magazines such as these. In addition to the UPA pages, there were three pages promoting Disney’s live action feature The Sword and The Rose.

Next we have several clippings from Motion Picture Herald, a weekly trade magazine aimed at theatre owners. A dealer was selling a whole years run of 52 issues from 1952. I went through them all and found these items of interest: Columbia Pictures took out several back cover ads touting there current releases, done in a “newspaper” style, with press-style blurbs. At left, a bit about producer Steve Bosustow and his Academy Award; in the center, Columbia highlights a Bethesda Maryland theatre who billed Rooty Toot Toot and a bunch of Magoo cartoons over the main feature (Return of the Texan, a 20th Century Fox film); and at right, proving the incredible popularity of Mr. Magoo, the Herald ran this photo of a theatre in London who made a whole show of Mr. Magoo cartoons: “The First Mr. Magoo Show”. I wonder if there were ever a second or third?

And finally, a double-page ad in February 10th 1951 edition of Motion Picture Herald hyping the popularity and press (NY Times, Life Magazine, comparisions to Disney’s Three Little Pigs) of UPA’s Gerald McBoing Boing. It’s rare for any individual short to rate a full page ad – more so a two page spread.

Wild Brain SF Shuts Down, Special Agent Opens for Business

Special Agent

Earlier this week, Wild Brain co-founder Phil Robinson and Wild Brain producer Amy Capen officially announced the launch of a boutique Bay Area-animation studio called Special Agent Productions. Details from the launch press release can be found at SHOOT. Over the past year, I’ve been hearing rumblings about turmoil at Wild Brain, but I was confused as to why the founder of the studio had left to start his own shop. It turns out that Wild Brain in San Francisco was shut down.

A source who asked not to be named offered some details about what’s been going on these past few months:

Basically, Wild Brain SF closed shop end of June. It was rumored that the board of directors/new management decided that the San Francisco branch was too much of a liability. There was a lot of politics behind that decision (i.e. the success of the TV business model of Yo Gabba Gabba!; the fact that the board and most of the executives are based in LA), and it got really ugly towards the end. It seems they wanted to cut their losses and open a new Flash studio in LA (which I heard is gobbling up all the Cartoon Network artists right now for a Ricky Gervais pilot).

Everybody scattered to the wind. Scary time. Since Phil and Amy were the main commercial people, they decided to form their own boutique shop and take the strength of their commercial reputation with them (i.e. Esurance, Lamisil).

Special Agent’s first project out of the gate is a 90-second Erin Esurance Bollywood-themed spot that premiered this week on IFC, and which can be seen on Special Agent’s website.

UPDATE: I just heard from the gang at Ghostbot, and they worked with Phil to produce the new Bollywood spot. Ghostbot, for those who may be unfamiliar, has animated many of the best Esurance spots to date.

Lui Lui in Amelica by Vera Wing Lui

Lui Lui in Amelica is a thesis film project by Chinese-born Vera Wing Lui, who graduated this year from University of the Arts in Philadelphia. According to the filmmaker, “Because of her cultural background and the cultural differences she has experienced in America, she created her most recent short films…Since this is a mirror and metaphor to her life, the whole film is all based on true stories.”

Lui worked with Signe Baumane on her “Teat Beat of Sex” series, and like Signe’s films, the Lui Lui cartoons are short, self-contained episodes narrated by the filmmaker. Above is the second episode called “Tattoo.” The first episode is called “Crush Me.” They’re gentle and cute, but with just enough bite to make me want to see more. I don’t know if Vera is continuing production on the series, but Lui Lui does have a blog.

(Thanks, Fran Krause)