Ramayana: Divine Loophole by Sanjay Patel

Ramayana by Sanjay Patel

Sanjay Patel’s Ramayana: Divine Loophole is a retelling of the classic Hindu myth with the addition of cheerfully stylized cartoon graphics that reflect the colorful spirit of Indian culture. The graphics are so overwhelming that reading it almost seems secondary; I’ve looked at the book plenty in the past few weeks but haven’t read past the intro yet.

Sanjay, who works at Pixar by day, has previously dabbled with Hindu culture in The Little Book of Hindu Deities. There’s another animation connection too: he was inspired to illustrate the story after watching Nina Paley’s Sita Sings the Blues, which is also based on the tale. The book, published by my pals at Chronicle Books, is available for just under $20 at Amazon.com.

Links for more about the book:

Book review by Michael Sporn

Interview with Sanjay Patel including a terrific section on how he came up with the book cover design

Sanjay Patel’s personal website GheeHappy.com

Getty and Disney Team Up to Study Cels

Snow White cel

The Getty Conservation Institute and Disney’s Animation Research Library (ARL) division are partnering to study why the plastic in certain cels deteriorates more quickly than others and to find ways of slowing down the deterioration process. The study is expected to take three years to complete. Like the Tim Burton exhibit currently at MoMA, this is another encouraging example of animation artwork receiving serious consideration from an art institute. According to the LA Times which broke the story:

The Getty said the initial phase of research will involve an assessment of the best methods for the identification of the actual plastics used in the cels, and for monitoring the condition of cels made with cellulose nitrate and acetate. Scientists at the Getty will also examine the physical and thermal properties of the plastics. The new collaboration is part of the Getty’s “Preservation of Plastics” project that was initiated to study signs of deterioration in plastic objects in museum collections.

Another take-away from the article is that Disney’s ARL houses 65 million pieces of Disney art. Granted, the drawings and cels add up quickly in animation, but wow, that’s still a whole lot of artwork!

(Thanks, Alexander Rannie)

Chocolate by Carlos Lopez Estrada

This one is quite delightful. It’s a new stop-motion music video for Latin American Grammy winners, Jesse & Joy. The video was conceived and directed by Carlos Lopez Estrada (currently a student at Chapman University’s Dodge College) and was shot over a month in a house-turned studio in L.A. by a dedicated (“and painfully underpaid”) group of young artists for Warner Music Mexico. It’s made up of almost 3,000 still photographs with no post effects, featuring characters actually made of edible custom-made cookies. Cameron Clark, the director of animation, explains the process:

“I pre-animated the motion for every shot with After Effects and then used a combination of Dragon Stop Motion, a projector, and a small team of animators to basically trace the motion that I had created digitally. That way we got the smooth motion of digital animation with the charm of physical stop motion.”

A very cool making-of piece is posted here. But watch the video first:

Masterpiece 2.0, An Interactive Stop-Motion Animation Project

Masterpiece 2.0

Masterpiece 2.0 is a social media animation project by Dutch artists Baschz and Selfcontrolfreak, and according to them, “the first ever unique painting made with a Web 2.0 approach.”

Even after reading the description of their process, I’m a bit confused by how the interactivity worked, but I highly recommend checking out the finished piece, which is visually striking and quite inventive. What follows is an explanation of the project by the artists:

In the summer and fall of 2009 a multilayered canvas and animation was
created which could be influenced and followed by website visitors online 24 hours a day. Six weeks long and through actions like Introduce Object, Shirt ‘Em and Cameo Appearance website visitors could interact with leading character Selfcontrolfreak.

Each sent in gesture added a new animated interaction as they were painted layer-by-layer into the growing animating canvas by Baschz. Every new layer was photographed seperately and together with the other frames created the animating canvas, leaving the end canvas consisting of well over 100 different painted layers. The whole coming-of-art process could be followed live through a webcam and Twitter feed, on YouTube, Flickr, Facebook, Fotolog, etc.