Yesterday, the Annecy International Animation Festival announced the selections for its 34th edition, which takes place June 7 through 12. This is a milestone year for the world’s oldest continuously running animation festival as it marks its fiftieth year of existence. The Annecy site has the complete list of selections for shorts, TV series, music videos and commercials. Feature film selections will be announced next month. Their site states that 48 animated features were submitted. Wow!
Of note: one of only two American films in the short film category is Let’s Pollute by Geefwee Boedoe, who designed the titles to Monsters Inc.. There’s a brief but intriguing Cartoon Modern-esque trailer on IMDB.
Also, in the graduation film category, I’m delighted to see that Jake Armstrong’s The Terrible Thing of Alpha-9! was accepted into competition. The film had its online debut on Cartoon Brew TV last year. It makes us feel good knowing that Brew TV shorts continue to excel at festivals after their online premieres. Similarly, another Brew TV premiere, David Sheahan’s Together! made it into Slamdance earlier this year. Great work guys!
Chris Meledandri and his Universal-based Illumination Entertainment (Despicable Me) have acquired the rights to Charles Addams famous cartoon family for Tim Burton to direct as a stop-mo 3D feature film. Michael Fleming at Deadline Hollywood has the scoop.
The article also outlines Universal’s future animated feature release plans: the April 1, 2011 release of I Hop with Russell Brand voicing the Easter Bunny; the Ricky Gervais creation Flanimals coming later 2011. Planned for 2012 is Where’s Waldo and Dr. Seuss’ The Lorax.
A sketchbook-style piece (with many funny moments) from Malcolm Sutherland whose consistently original works are positioning him as one of Canada’s top indie animators. Description from his Vimeo page:
[The film] takes a look at people at a “La Fete Nationale” celebration in Montreal. The film was an independent production, directed and animated by Malcolm Sutherland with music by Kevin Kardasz, and was produced with financial assistance from The Conseil des arts et des lettres du Québec.
Tonight Comedy Central debuts a new animated series Ugly Americans. The show was created by New York animator Devin Clark. Here’s a short interview with him about how the show made the leap from a webseries into a TV show. The Flash-animated series was made at Augenblick Studios in Brooklyn and Cuppa Coffee in Toronto. If you’ve watched the show, please share your thoughts below.
I woke up this morning (this afternoon, to be honest) hating animation. Blame it on last night’s interminable ASIFA-East screening of uninspiring and insipid indie shorts. Only something truly beautiful could uplift my spirit and make me appreciate this art form again. Thankfully, I stumbled across Volgens de vogels (According to Birds), a 2008 graduation film by Linde Faas (b. 1985). Touches of Norstein throughout, and that’s not a bad thing.
One more plug for Craig Yoe’s Milt Gross book (it deserves it) now that you can order it on Amazon (for $29.19). Craig searched high and low for unseen Gross art to illustrate his 40-page introduction. I told him I had an unpublished Gross sketch given to me by Bob Clampett, but unfortunately I could not find it in time for inclusion in the book. I just found it yesterday.
So here it is – Gross caricatures Clampett (and himself?), with Clampett as a director yelling “Cut!”. Gross asks “With what?” What is Gross about to eat? A sausage covered with ketchup? A drippy eclair? It’s autographed to “Battling” Bob Clampett – what does that refer to? Lots to read into here. Enjoy!
Film collector Tom Stathes is quickly becoming the expert and archivist of cinema’s silent cartoon history. Check out his website and blog, buy his home-made DVDs and attend his local New York area Cartoon Carnivals (the next one is this Saturday, March 20th). Good stuff!
This week on Stu’s Show, the one and only Stan Freberg will be live and in-studio, along with comedy writer/producer Mark Evanier, who will co-host. They’ll cover as much of Stan’s illustrious career as they can, including his years doing cartoon voiceover work at Warner Brothers in the 1940s and 50s, partnering with Daws Butler to write and perform Bob Clampett’s Time For Beany, recording some of the greatest comedy records of all time, and opening an advertising agency responsible for producing the most hilarious and innovative commercials to ever hit the TV airwaves. The show airs live on your computer, 4:00 p.m. PT/7:00 p.m. ET, with rebroadcasts daily at the same time. Listen to it HERE!
Next week, (live on March 24th) Brewmaster Jerry Beck will join Stu to discuss classic animation and take phone calls. I’ll remind you about this again next week.
In Swimming by Shiho Hirayama (b. 1979), a chubby boy’s imagination transforms an awkward swim class into a magical experience. This short really sneaks up on the viewer. It didn’t seem much at first glance but its simple honesty grew on me quickly and left a lasting impact. Charming character animation, a playful visualization of space and distance, and elegant sound design come together to make this one of the more memorable shorts in recent memory. There are more examples of Shiho’s animation on her website including a cute piece located on her “about me” page.
Beginning this Friday, a restored print of Joseph Losey’s film noir The Prowler plays for one week at the Film Forum in Manhattan. The film was co-scripted by blacklisted Hollywood Ten member Dalton Trumbo, photographed by three-time Oscar winner Arthur Miller, produced by Sam Spiegel (Lawrence of Arabia), and production designed by (get ready for this) John Hubley.
I asked a couple of the Hubley kids about this project recently and they told me that their dad actually worked on a number of live-action films and theatrical productions. John had earlier helped Losey with the design of an LA stage production of Bertolt Brecht’s Life of Galileo starring Charles Laughton. When Losey directed Prowler, he called on Hubley to explore the cinematic staging possibilities and push it beyond his own sensibilities, which were rooted in theater. Hubley was not the only Golden Age animation artist who worked in live-action. Just to name a few other examples, Ray Aragon storyboarded Norman Jewison’s In the Heat of the Night, Mary Blair did color design for How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying (directed by Disney animator David Swift), and Tyrus Wong worked for decades as a production designer at Warner Bros. It’s (yet another) area of animation history that is poorly documented and ripe for further research.
Silly Science (released May 1960). Director Seymour Kneitel. Animation: I. Klein, Irving Dressler. Story: Carl Meyer, Jack Mercer. Scenics: Robert Owen. Music: Winston Sharples.
Silly Science is a somewhat forgettable Paramount Modern Madcap cartoon from 1960 featuring numerous spot gags about “space-age living”. However, its worth another a look due to its rather accurate predictions of a telephone-video combo (Skype), a pint-sized flat vacuum cleaner (Roomba), and wide-screen drive by movies (I’m still waiting for this). Disney buffs will note an unauthorized appearance by Baby Weems at the 30 second mark.
This cartoon also made use of subtle cut-out animation techniques. This is cited in Eli Levitan’s long-out-of-print book Animation Techniques and Commercial Film Production (1962). The process is described on three pages which I’ve posted below (click thumbnails to enlarge each page). This is how it was done before Flash. Paramount made even better use of cut-outs in another short released later that year, Bouncing Benny.
Cartoon Brew launched six years ago today. We’re not doing a whole lot to celebrate–unless eating raisins counts as a celebration–but we didn’t want to let the day pass without some sort of acknowledgment. It would be an understatement to say that the online animation scene is different today than when we launched in March 2004. Back then there was no YouTube or Vimeo, no animation podcasts, only a handful of animation blogs (our pathetic blogroll from March 2004 illustrates the barren landscape of the time), and a much smaller community of animators and cartoon aficionados online. Since those days, the online animation community has grown a lot, and if our site traffic is any indication, continues to grow a lot. In fact, if we may blow our own horn for a moment, we’ve set new traffic records on the Brew five of the last six months.
Your enthusiasm and excitement for this amazing art form and its limitless possibilities is what keeps us motivated to update everyday. And we’re not planning to stop anytime soon. Cartoon Brew TV will return in April with a very special month of new episodes, and we’re refreshing the site’s look and adding new features later this spring. To be sure, many people gravitate to the site for our occasionally controversial topics, but we get our greatest satisfaction from exposing readers to new films, artists, and ideas. When somebody tells us that we made them aware of a classic piece of animation they hadn’t seen before, or when a young, talented artist writes to say that being featured on the Brew got them a job, that’s when we know we’ve done our job right. Who knows what the next six years will bring, but even if the entire industry switches over to making “emotion capture” films, we promise to keep doing what we do as long as you keep reading and participating. Cheers!