Animator Nick Childs just finished this dream-like, semi-abstract, stop-mo music video he’d been working on during the past year.
“It’s a stop mo piece that the folks at LAIKA/house in Portland Oregon were kind enough to give me some space on the stage to shoot. It’s for the band Eulogies, off their 2009 album Here Anonyomous. The song is called Goodbye. As I recall from back in my school days it may considered kinesthetic animation. I see it as a stop motion piece with a minimal style that fits with the song, hopefully.”
Any excuse to post David Silverman (The Simpsons) playing his flaming tuba on The Tonight Show is worth it. My excuse this time is Silverman’s upcoming appearence with Fire Groove as part of the evening’s entertainment at the upcoming Pasadena Rock’n Comic Con this Memorial Day (May 28-30th) at the Pasadena Convention Center.
This event is a “film, art, music & entertainment convention” sponsored by Animation-Ink.com. They are planning rock concerts each night, and a full comic con experience during each day. “Top talents from major Animation Studios & Comic cons, lecture panels, art demos, autograph signings, recruiters, portfolio reviews, and an Animation Festival in a 3000 seat theatre”. Tickets for this have just gone on sale. For more information, visit their website.
Well, it’s official. Disney’s Rapunzel has been renamed Tangled. *sigh* Not as bad a title as The Emperor’s New Groove, but still…
They obviously want to make it very clear that this isn’t a traditional re-telling of Rapunzel. In fact, according to Tangled’s producer Roy Conli on Facebook, “It’s a really fresh, smart take on the Rapunzel story.”
“In our film, the infamous bandit Flynn Rider meets his match in the girl with the 70 feet of magical golden hair. We’re having a lot of fun pairing Flynn, who’s seen it all, with Rapunzel, who’s been locked away in a tower for 18 years.
“I’m so proud of the crew working on this film — they’re doing a fantastic job creating an awesome story with great characters and a stunning world — and it’s all going to look amazing in 3D. All of us here at the studio are incredibly excited for you to see Tangled when it comes out in theaters this November.”
Twenty-five designers, illustrators and photographers were asked the question, “What do you do to inspire your creativity when you find yourself in a rut?” A lot of the answers to the question are common sense tactics (e.g. do something else, go outside), but at least you can take comfort in the fact that everybody runs into this problem. Feel free to share your favorite strategies in the comments.
New York animator Simon Ampel created this well drawn and effective music video to support Iran’s increasingly bold student movement against its authoritarian regime. Ampel told me that he spent about two months working on it off and on. “I did all the animation in Tvpaint and colored it with Animo,” he said. “Backgrounds were painted by Micah Cohen, and the compositing and effects were done by Sean Theophil. The music is Fared Shafinury and Tehranosaurus.”
David Scheve’s lawyers at The Deep Archives sent us a DMCA takedown notice today demanding our webhost Webintellects remove the photo of him. The letter from his lawyers has been reprinted on the original post. (If you can help us out legally with the DMCA counter-notice, please contact us). In the comments of that post, director and story artist John Sanford recommended that we hold a caricature contest. Now, with the prospect of having to replace the picture of him with something else, we actually have a valid reason to do this.
So here’s the deal. Everybody is invited to draw their interpretation of David Scheve. Links to the images can be emailed to me here. Deadline is the end of Monday, February 15. I’ll choose an image that I like and send the winner a signed copy of one of my books (your choice): Cartoon Modern, The Art of Pixar Short Films or A Sketchy Past: The Art of Peter de Seve.
UPDATE: I’ve looked through all the entries and chosen David de Rooij from The Netherlands as the winner of the David Scheve Caricature Contest. There were a bunch more terrific entries and I’d love to share them, but I’ve decided to be nice and give David Scheve another chance to prove himself as a decent guy.
Following his falsely filed DMCA notice of copyright infringement, Cartoon Brew filed a counter-notification. For now, the photo of him can remain on this site. Should he choose to pursue further frivolous legal action forcing us to remove the photo, then I will have no choice but to replace his photo with David de Rooij’s drawing and share all of the other entries.
However, I’m hoping that he’s had a chance to study up on fair use laws and recognize that Cartoon Brew is fully within its legal rights to use his photo. Fair use “allows for limited use of copyrighted material without requiring permission from the rights holders, such as for commentary, criticism, news reporting, research, teaching or scholarship.” The ball is in his court now. If he’s willing to be an adult about the situation, so am I.
Over at Bob Shea and Lane Smith’s wonderful Curious Pages blog, they’ve posted the classic Jim Flora children’s book, The Fabulous Firework Family (1955). Flora is best known for his distinctive designs for RCA and Columbia Record jackets, magazines and various commercial art projects of the 40s and 50s. The Fabulous Firework Family launched Flora’s second career as a children’s book author and illustrator.
The book was acquired by Terrytoons during the Gene Deitch era (1956-1958) and the resulting film turned out to be the last cartoon Deitch personally produced at the studio. Al Kouzel directed and, though Flora was involved with adapting the story to the screen, the final result wasn’t entirely successful in translating the charm of the original book.
It’s illuminating to compare the book to the cartoon. Below is a pan-and-scan TV version of the Terrytoon, sans credits. (The original CinemaScope version of the film, with full credits, will be screened March 2nd at my Wide Screen Cartoons program at the CineFamily/Silent Movie Theatre).
Promising debut film by Julia Deakin combining mixed media into a lush illustrative style. I especially liked the color choices. Animation is effective if not particularly adventurous. Music by The Hylozoists and Paul Aucoin.
Animation students Henril Sonniksen and Benjamin Neilsen made Vegeterrible in their third year at The Animation Workshop in Viborg, Denmark. The film takes place inside a refrigerator, where a hungry, rotten avocado crashes a Mexican fiesta and starts devouring the guests… and the struggles of a tomato’s fight for survival.
Warner Bros. and TCM are running a Classic Film Festival in Hollywood on April 22nd-25th, showcasing restored prints of more than a dozen classic movies on the big screens of the historic Chinese and Egyptian Theatres. Robert Osborn will be hosting in person, Jerry Lewis will introduce The King Of Comedy, Tony Curtis will present Some Like it Hot and Leonard Maltin will introduce a program of classic MGM and Warner bros. live action shorts.
However, for cartoon buffs, here’s a big screen program we’ve been waiting decades to see publicily:
Removed from Circulation: A Cartoon Collection — Presented by author Donald Bogle
Donald Bogle, author of Bright Boulevards, Bold Dreams: A History of Black Hollywood, will present cartoons that have been kept from the public eye because of negative racial or cultural stereotypes. The collection includes several classic Warner Bros. cartoons. Bogle will provide insight into the racial attitudes of the times in which the cartoons were created. Titles include Clean Pastures (1937), Coal Black and De Sebben Dwarves (1943), Goldilocks and the Jivin’ Bears (1944), Hittin’ the Trail for Hallelujah Land (1931), The Isle of Pingo Pongo (1938), Sunday Go to Meetin’ Time (1936), Tin Pan Alley Cats (1943) and Uncle Tom’s Bungalow (1937).
My sources say all the infamous Censored 11 cartoons will be screened. A complete list of all previously announced programming for the TCM Classic Film Festival is available here. Festival passes and additional information are available at www.tcm.com/festival.
Longtime readers of the Brew know I collect old Little Golden Books of the 50s and 60s because the standards of the artwork, particularly for the titles based on animation properties, is so high.
Ten years ago, in 1999, Craig McCracken ushered in a new era by illustrating a Powerpuff Girls book (“Big Terrible Trouble?”) in classic Little Golden Book style of the 50s. Since then, Pixar and Disney artists also began creating Little Golden Books, tied into their studio’s current features and shorts, using the same aesthetic.
Yesterday, while in a book store, I came across two more recent Little Golden Books – not tied-in to any animation – that didn’t suck, and I’m wondering if this is the beginning of a new trend. Do any of our readers know? The books I found up were Lasso The Moon by Trish Holland, illustrated by Valeria Petrone – and I’m A Truck by Dennis Shealy, illustrated by Bob Staake.
Lasso The Moon, from 2005, is a charming bedtime story told in pictures that are worthy of glossy pages and hardcover presentation. I’m A Truck (2006) features Bob Staake’s classy shape-driven designs and bold colors. Eye candy for kids of all ages. And only $3.99. Are these flukes? Is there more? I did a quick online search and found that Staake also illustrated a Little Golden Picture Dictionary, and Come Back Zack illustrated by Japanese painter Sachiko Yoshikawa. If anyone knows what’s going on at Random House regarding this line of books, I’d love to hear. I’m becoming a fan.
The crowd-funding path for short filmmakers is finally gaining traction, and established animation filmmakers have begun experimenting with the concept. Throughout the years, various filmmakers have toyed with the idea of funding their films in this fashion, mostly by soliciting Paypal donations, but the gamechanger has been new websites that are dedicated solely to facilitating crowd-funded projects. The two most prominent sites being used by animators right now are IndieGoGo and Kickstarter. There is a difference between the sites: IndieGoGo’s fundraising period continues indefinitely, whereas Kickstarter has a 90-day fundraising period and if the artist doesn’t meet their monetary goal, all the money is returned to the donors.
Last month on Cartoon Brew, I linked for the first time to a crowd-funded project, The Future. Expect to see us doing a lot more of this; crowd-funding is a major development in how animated shorts will be made in the years to come. Right now, I anticipate the concept will work most successfully for filmmakers with a proven track record, like Nick Cross, who set up a page on IndieGoGo last week to fund his next short The Pig Farmer. That’s because Nick has already made numerous animated shorts over the past few years (The Waif of Persephone and Yellow Cake among them) and all of them without any outside funding. Backers of his project will feel confident that they are investing in a name brand who can get the job done.
There’s also the stop-motion short Line by Justin and Shel Wagner Rasch. They’re asking for $2500 and are already halfway there. The Raschs have two things working in their favor. First, they’ve already posted an animated clip from the film that gives funders a clear sense of the type of work they’re helping them produce:
Additionally, they’re offering unique perks for funders at different levels, including actual puppets used in the film and a chance to attend the music recording sessions. As crowd-funding takes off, it’ll be fun to see the creative goodies that different filmmakers will offer their fans.
Sites like IndieGogo and Kickstarter are already filled with amateur looking projects whose creators are asking for tens of thousands of dollars. Most of those projects understandably have raised only a few bucks at most. On the other hand, I think it bears pointing out that the Raschs and Cross are obviously spending more money on their films than they’re asking for. At this nascent stage, modesty isn’t a bad plan. Crowd-funding is in its infancy, a natural by-product of the growing intimacy between artists and their audience. The most successful filmmakers of the future will be those who grasp the increasingly intertwined relationship between creator and consumer, and recognize how best to take advantage of this new connectedness.
Addendum: After I wrote this piece yesterday, I caught up with my blog reader and noticed that Aaron Simpson at Cold Hard Flash has also written a piece about crowd-funding. It appears that we were both spurred to action by the news of Nick Cross’s project, and we mention a few of the same projects. Aaron doesn’t appear to view this with quite the same perspective as I do though. He writes that, “This method seems like no more than a sophisticated version of the ol’ Paypal ‘donate’ button.” While it’s certainly true that filmmakers have tried soliciting funding like this before, the idea has never taken off in a widespread way because of the lack of a standardized process. Sites like IndieGoGo and KickStarters aim to do for film funding what YouTube did for online video: standardize the process, and this will eventually lead to the normalization of viewers directly sponsoring the content they want to see. That’s a great thing for both creators and consumers.
Head on over to Facebook to view a 12-minute unaired 2007 Nickelodeon pilot created by Chris Reccardi and Lynne Naylor. The Modifyers is a sixties spy spoof with incredibly beautiful design in every shot. Gorgeous eye candy – and funny too. Direction and Music score by Chris Reccardi.
Truth be told, I’d never heard of Al Jarnow prior to learning about this screening, but I’m curious to see more of his work now. He did a lot of work for educational programs like Sesame Street and 3-2-1 Contact, as well as his own work. From a press release about his work: “Al Jarnow captured life’s scientific minutia and boiled it down for easy consumption between cookie eating monsters and counting vampires. Coupling time-lapse, stop motion, and cel animation with simple objects found in every day life, Jarnow deconstructed the world for an entire generation.
This Friday, February 12, there will be two screenings of his work at 92Y Tribeca (200 Hudson Street) at 7pm and 9pm. Both screenings are the same (sixty minutes of his films and a thirty-minute documentary about his creative process). Jarnow will do a Q&A after the 7pm screening and introduce the 9pm screening. Tickets can be purchased at the 92Y website. Additional screenings of his work will take place in Chicago on February 19 and 20th at the Gene Siskel Film Center. They will begin at 8pm each evening.
If you can’t make the screenings, a dvd of his work, Celestial Navigations, is being released later this month with 45 of his films, the documentary about his work, and a 60-page booklet. It’s a reasonable $25 at the Numero Group website.