The CGI Yogi

I wasn’t going to post about this. I was sent these images of CGI Yogi and Boo Boo a few days ago and decided they were so horrible that they couldn’t possibly be the finals. Now they seem to be all over the internet (you can see larger versions on The Movie Insider.com) and many readers have sent them in to me, wanting my opinion.

My opinion? As much as I hate the idea of this CGI Yogi Bear movie, I can’t believe these are the actual images of the characters that will be animated in the film. These designs are simply awful. What about you? What do you think?

Kurtz + Friends blog

Bob Kurtz began his career designing the original Alvin and the Chipmunks for Format Films, wrote Pink Panther cartoons for DePatie-Freleng and created Cool Cat for Warner Bros. Perhaps his greatest achievement at this time was his hilarious animation on the Roger Ramjet cartoons. Since the 70s, Kurtz has run his own studio producing award winning commercials, shorts and movie titles.

Bob has recently expanded his website to include a blog, and has added numerous videos of his recent animated works (pssst, check his George Carlin page, and his short, It’s No Bullshit). Check it out and enjoy: Kurtz+Friends blog.

Jorge Gutierrez and Sandra Equihua

Husband-and-wife animation team Jorge Gutierrez and Sandra Equihua (the creators of El Tigre) were interviewed by Lynda.com about their animation careers. Three of the videos are available for free on Jorge’s blog, while the rest are behind a subscription wall. This video about their art education sheds light into the stigma that artists face in many countries for choosing a career in the visual arts:

Glitch in the Grid by Eric Leiser

Tantalizing teaser for Glitch in the Grid, a forthcoming feature by Eric Leiser, whose earlier film Imagination was mentioned on the Brew a couple years back. I’m really digging Leiser’s eclectic mix of styles, especially how he applies stop-motion for site-specific landscape animation. Check out this article for more details about the film or visit Eric’s website AlbinoFawn.com to learn more about him and his work.

Fleischer’s Secret Story-Telling Chart

Well, I don’t know if it was a secret, but here’s a rare publicity photo of Dave Fleischer with a “story mood chart” indicating story beats for Mr. Bug Goes To Town (1941). Click the photo above to see a close up of the chart. I don’t know if they really used anything like this in production, but however they did it, they created a masterpiece – and that’s all that matters.

Gul by Adnan Hussain

Gul

Adnan Hussain‘s short film Gul (Flower) draws the viewer in with its striking impressionistic CG imagery, but keeps the viewer engaged with its storytelling, which carries a clear and powerful message even as it verges on obliqueness. A Quicktime version of the film can be found on Adnan’s website.

I asked Adnan via email if he could share some details about the production of Gul. Here is what he wrote:

I’m a Los Angeles-based Pakistani-American artist working primarily in animation and live action vfx. Gul (Flower), an interpretive piece meant for the viewer to connect their own experiences, is my first short film. It is the culmination of personal art and skills learned as a technical director at Walt Disney Feature Animation, Sony Pictures Imageworks and other studios. It was created in a stack of sketchbooks, 3D Studio Max, Photoshop, Painter, Digital Fusion and Premiere. I studied non-photorealistic rendering papers and works by Egon Schiele, Bill Sienkiewicz and Kent Williams besides doing a ton of my own paintings to create the raw painted look of the film. Scripts were developed to repaint rendered frames layer by layer with custom settings to create the painted look efficiently.

By the end of 2007, I had built enough models, animation and pipeline to quit my job and finish it. I worked on the film, then back packed through Central Asia before finding my way to Jamshoro, Sindh, Pakistan to record the score of a yet to be colored version of the film. Thanks to incredible Sindhi Folk musicians lead by Ustad Anb Jogi on Dholak, Jairam Jogi and Nasir Jogi on Murli, Mohammed Buksh on Pakistani Banjo, Ibrahim Jogi on Tali and LA-based Brian Stroner on sound design, the film was completed in May 2009.

So far it has screened at Slamdance, Patios Human Rights, Mill Valley, Anim’Est, Maelstrom and Montezuma Film Festivals as well as winning Canada Film Festival’s Rising Star Award of Excellence and the Accolade Award of Merit.

Hussain tells me that he is currently in pre-production on his next short and is looking for freelance opportunities around the globe.

1962 Bullwinkle article

Not many TV cartoon shows of the 50s and 60s made it into the pages of gossip and fan magazines – much less the cover – but NBC’s prime time Bullwinkle Show did. This article, from TV Radio Mirror (January 1962) by Roger Beck (no relation), is pretty slight – but in the interest of animation history, I post it below (click thumbnails to see pages enlarged). The basic facts are there – and Jay Ward and Bill Scott’s sense of humor comes through. I love Ward’s quote: “We feel it’s adult humor, but NBC can’t understand the jokes, so they think it’s a children’s show!”

Theater Chains Raising 3-D Ticket Prices Today

Beginning today, the Wall Street Journal reports that many major movie chains, including Regal Entertainment Group, Cinemark Holdings Inc. and AMC Entertainment Inc., are raising prices for 3-D movie tickets. It reflects the steepest price increase in a decade. 3-D ticket prices are rising by as much as 26% in some areas, though the average increase will be closer to 8%. The average increase for IMAX screens is 10%. Some theaters in metropolitan areas will be charging nearly $20 for IMAX admissions.

The WSJ article, which is behind a subscription-wall, acknowledges that movie studios are wary the price increases could spark a consumer backlash:

Some movie-studio executives expressed concern that the price increases might be too much too soon. “The risk we run is that we will no longer be the value proposition that we as an industry have prided ourselves on,” said a distribution executive at one major studio, who added that he was worried movies would become “a luxury item.”

But studios also like the increases because they split box office proceeds with theater operators. Dan Fellman, who is president of domestic distribution at Warner Bros., a studio that can’t even be bothered to make true 3-D films, approved of the price increases. “The exhibitors are trying to push the needle on ticket prices and see where it ends up,” he said. “Sure, it’s a risky move, but so far charging a $3 or $4 premium has had no effect on consumers whatsoever, so I’m in favor of this experiment to raise prices even more. There may be additional revenue to earn here.” Warners will open Clash of the Titans, a regular film that has been retrofitted for 3-D screens, next week.

Related reading in today’s Wall Street Journal: a piece called Will This 3-D Fad Fizzle Too? In the piece, Peter Decherney, a professor at UPenn, drew a smart parallel to the first 3-D bust. He said that in the 1950s, “3-D died out when the studios realized that television was a boon for Hollywood, not competition.” He predicts the same will happen again. “As studios find ways to profit from Internet and mobile distribution, they will be less interested in competing with new technologies.”

Free Animation Book Idea #2

Picking up where we left off last month, here’s another book idea that’s free for the taking. The proposal is rather straightforward: a collection of fine artwork created by animation artists. This was actually the first book idea I ever pitched (and subsequently had rejected) around 2001. I still think it’s a keen idea.

While most animators dabble with artwork on the side, a certain subset has treated their extracurricular artistic pursuits with the same passion and discipline as their animation day jobs. Seeing their artwork reveals unique insights into the artistic process, and serves as a fascinating study of the compromises that individual artists have to make when synthesizing their work for the group-oriented demands of animation production.

The key to such a book would be curating it with the right mix of artists. It wouldn’t be too difficult to get started. Any number of personal blogs and websites showcase the fine art of contemporary animation artists. There are also a handful of websites showcasing examples of artwork by Golden Age animation artists. For example, Chuck Jones has this page of personal work:Chuck Jones

Disney and UPA background painter Bob McIntosh is repped at Trigg Ison Fine Art:Bob McIntosh

McIntosh’s co-worker at Disney and UPA, Jules Engel, is displayed here: Jules Engel

Examples of Marc Davis’s art are scattered online here, here, and here.Marc Davis

And Len Glasser has a video of his personal art projects posted onto YouTube:

These guys are just the tip of the iceberg. The richness and diversity of artwork by animators spans across the twentieth century through every conceivable art movement and style. This has the potential of being a beautiful and very unconventional animation art book.

Waking Sleeping Beauty opens Friday

Don Hahn’s documentary on the renaissance of Disney animation in the 1990s, Waking Sleeping Beauty, opens Friday in New York and Los Angeles. It’s fast paced, entertaining film that is, no matter how you feel about Disney, pretty much a must-see for readers of Cartoon Brew.

Don Hahn will make Q&A appearances in L.A. after the following showings this weekend:

Friday, March 26 — Q&A following the 7:45pm showing at AMC Century City

Saturday, Marcy 27 — Q&A following 1210p-150p show at the AMC Burbank 16, 125 East Palm Ave
Saturday, March 27 — Q&A following 7:55-9:35p show at the AMC Burbank 16, 125 East Palm Ave

Peter Schneider will make Q&A appearances this weekend in NYC after the following showings at Landmark’s Sunshine Cinemas on Houston Street:

Friday, March 26 — Q&A following the 5pm and 7:15pm showings.
Saturday, Marcy 27 — Q&A following the 12 noon, 2:30pm, 5pm and 7:15pm showings.
Saturday, March 27 — Q&A following the 12 noon, 2:30pm and 5pm showings.

Here’s an exclusive clip:

DreamWorks and Wal-Mart Partner For Dragon

Walmart and DreamWorks

The Wall Street Journal reports that Wal-Mart will be the exclusive retailer for merchandise related to the DreamWorks feature How To Train Your Dragon. According to the paper, 95% of the products tied in to the movie will be available only at Wal-Mart, including “apparel and toys to custom-made Oreos with a red filling, to symbolize the fiery exhalations of the titular creatures.” The video on the WSJ website has more details about the extent of the deal, and mentions that Wal-Mart is the film’s master toy licensee and was involved in product and package design.

Rinky Dink by John Dilworth

Rinky Dink

A new short by John Dilworth (Courage the Cowardly Dog, Dirdy Birdy) is always an occasion for a post. Rinky Dink combines drawn animation with stop motion and photo cut-outs. It has the trademark Dilworthian oddness, more than a few giggles, and a cute (if common) message. The film can be viewed on his website StretchFilms.com. (Click on the little yellow creature on the upper left of the site.)

Long Drawn-Out Trip by Gerald Scarfe

Long Drawn-out Trip by Gerald Scarfe

The Lost Continent is a real treasure of a blog and has introduced me to lots of great British animation over the past few months, some of which I should have already known about. One such film is Long Drawn-Out Trip: Sketches from Los Angeles by Gerald Scarfe. The eighteen-minute film was shown on TV only once in its entirety and that occurred 1973 on the BBC. It has a stream-of-conscious flavor as evidenced by this tantalizing four-minute clip.

The film’s lack of distribution is largely due to the fact that Scarfe didn’t obtain clearances to the music he used, which included everything from Jimi Hendrix to Neil Diamond. (Shades of Nina Paley’s problems with Sita Sings the Blues). It’s unlikely he would have ever been able to make the film either had he pursued legitimate channels. Try asking Disney for permission to use “When You Wish upon a Star” when your film has an extended sequence of Mickey smoking a spliff.

In this interview, Scarfe spoke about how the film came about:

Well the BBC in London sent me to Los Angeles, to work on what they thought was a new animation system. It was something called the de joux (ju) system which is spelled dejoux. That was a system started by a Frenchman which was supposed to make animation an easier experience. When I got there I found that it wasn’t a computerized system at all. It was just a system whereby between shall we say frame a and frame e, it kind of mixed through b, c, d, into e. It kind of dissolved from one picture to another. So if one drew a picture it would then dissolve through, or mix through, to the next picture.

Where as in animation you have to kind of do a series of drawings in between to complete the movement. But it wasn’t a very successful system in that way. But since I was in Los Angeles, I decided to make the best of it, and I did a kind of stream of consciousness drawing everything I could think of about America at that time. Like, the Statue of Liberty, Frank Sinatra, John Wayne, Black Power, Mickey Mouse, Coca Cola, Playboy Magazine, sort of a million images all melting one into the other. I was supposed to be there for 10 days, but I stayed for about 6 or 7 weeks. Hence the title, Long Drawn Out Trip. And it was also a kind of a trip, cause it was very much the drug era. And it was a kind of a hallucinatory trip too.

The entire film doesn’t appear to be online, but there are plenty of frame grabs available on the Lost Continent blog.

Little Rascals From The Dwarfs World by Olaf Albers

Lausbuben aus der Zwergenwelt (Little Rascals from the Dwarfs World) in Lausige Zeiten (Lousy Times) is a fractured fairy tale from the mind and pen of Olaf Albers. Created during the winter semester at Fachhochschule Düsseldorf University of Applied Sciences, Albers says, “The protagonists are two young dwarfs named Heinrich and Hannes who have nothing but nonsense on their mind and do not care about any socially rooted restrictions. Following their hedonistic way of life they nearly terrorize the other peace and harmony seeking creatures of the woodlands.”

Translation Wolf: “Oh, how nice! A warm summers rain!”

Translation children: “You have saved us -we grant you every wish!”

(Thanks, Thomas Wellman)

TODAY: Jerry on Stu’s Show

I will be the featured guest today on Shokus Internet Radio’s Stu’s Show. It’ll air live beginning at 4:00 p.m. PDT (7:00 p.m. EDT). Topics this time will include the upcoming Looney Tunes DVDs, the 100 Greatest Looney Tunes book and as always, whatever the listeners want to talk about. You are encouraged to call in with your questions and comments on the station’s toll-free telephone number.

Stu’s Show airs live each Wednesday at 4:00 p.m. PST, with rebroadcasts at the same time daily. Access to the station’s feed is free, with no registration required, and is available either by clicking on the Enter Site button on the home page (www.shokusradio.com), by choosing one of the audio player links on the site’s main page, via iTunes by selecting Radio/Eclectic and then locating the station’s name alphabetically in the list, and now via iPhone by installing the WunderRadio program available from the iTunes online store. Cell phones with Windows Mobile and Internet access can also listen to the station via the new Live 365 Mobile software available at the station’s broadcast facility, www.live365.com .