MAY 25: Devin Crane’s “Heaven Can Wait” in Paris

Painting by Devin Crane

Devin Crane‘s first solo European show, “Heaven Can Wait,” will open at Galerie Arludik in Paris next week. Crane, whose animation connection is visual development at DreamWorks, focused his slickly stylized series of seventeen paintings around the female form, and if the tanned and fit (some would say emaciated) form of woman that he paints look like they belong on a Southern California beach, it might be because Crane is a lifelong LA native. High fashion plays a central role in these works, with a sprinkling of theologic undertones, if not already evident from the title of the show. More information about the show and paintings can be found at the gallery’s website. Galerie Arludik is located at 12-14, rue St. Louis en l’ÃŽle 75004 Paris. (Please note the opening date has been moved up one day to May 25 because of a planned labor strike in Paris.)

More paintings from the show after the jump:

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The Fred Moore Girl

Tracy Mark Lee, through his studio Electric Tiki Design, has been working on a maquette based on one of Freddy Moore’s always-appealing girl sketches. Here’s the finished painted piece, above. It’s just under 10″ tall and was sculpted by Kent Melton. Electric Tiki be offering limited edition reproductions in a few months; the price is not set but Lee says it will probably be in the $124.99 range. Check this page for further updates – but in the meantime, we have this little beauty to stare at. Me like!

CalArts Producers’ Show (Guest Review by Fran Krause)

NY animator and filmmaker Fran Krause (Moonraker, The Upstate Four) attended the CalArts Producers’ Show in LA last week and took some notes for Cartoon Brew about what he saw. Here’s Fran:

Last Thursday, I was in California to show my work at the CalArts campus in Valencia and to check out their year-end Producer’s Show. I thought I’d pass on my picks, along with my thoughts on this year’s group of films. It was an interesting experience for me, since I’m an East Coaster. I’ve taught at Pratt, NYU, and Mercy College, and attended RISD as an undergrad, so it was nice to see what’s been going on out West.

Here are my picks from the show:

Crater Face by Skyler Page (2nd Year)

When The Time Is Ripe by Shion Takeuchi (4th year)

Dad? by Zesung Kang (3rd year)

SunGuy by Michelle Xin (3rd year)

The Hardest Jigsaw by Eric Anderson

Work by Michael Rianda (3rd year)

Night Parade by Sabrina Cotugno (2nd year)

It was a really inspiring group of films. The level of craft and storytelling were impressive, especially considering that, with one exception, the above films were all from second and third-year students. On the East coast, students tend to make a junior and senior film, but CalArts has their students making films all four years. The practice is getting really mature work out of the students, with sophomore and junior films holding up well next to the seniors. It’s also teaching them quite a bit about directing and managing their own projects.

“Crater Face” and “When The Time is Ripe” especially stand out to me as two films that are very well paced, with great styles and a consistent level of craft and finish. Still, I wonder if the responsibility of making a film each year is keeping the student’s schedules too busy to dabble in some more technical classes, or to learn some new techniques. Out of the twenty films in the show, only one used much 3D. The professors I talked with said that there’s been some changes recently in the curriculum that are meant to get the students more comfortable with non-2D animation, and I’m looking forward to seeing how things turn out.

There was quite a wide range of drawing styles in the program, without a noticeable “Institution Style”, as some schools seem to unfortunately put on all their films. Also of note, about half the films in the show were from women, whose presence is unfortunately all too rare in animation. I was bummed that so many of the films this year used copyrighted music. It would be great if there was more collaboration with the CalArts music students. Still, it was a really solid show and I’m glad I had the chance to check it out. I hope I’ll be seeing these films on the festival circuit this year. It’s a good thing that so many of them are available on Vimeo for everyone to see. When I wrote this article last night “The Hardest Jigsaw” wasn’t available. As I was making a couple revisions this morning, I noticed Eric posted it, so luckily we all get to see another cartoon!

How to Budget Your Animation

Animation Budget

Richard O’Connor, a co-owner of New York-based commercial studio Asterisk Animation, wrote a post yesterday about how to create an animation budget. It’s the first in a series of posts that he intends to write. Budgeting animation isn’t sexy, but it’s nuts-and-bolts knowledge that any student, indie artist, and free-lancer who wants to be successful should understand (and judging from personal acquaintances, few do). Take advantage of Richard’s generosity and pick up some tips from him. You won’t find this valuable information anywhere else on-line.

City Park by Courtland Lomax

You may remember the Courtland Lomax House of Cats viral we posted last July. Here is his second Swarovski spot, recently released, again using animation to promote their crystal figurines…

Directed by Courtland Lomax
Music by Brian Young
Compositing by Ethan Metzger
Backgrounds and Character Designs by Brigette Barrager
Animation: Jennifer Hager, Jules Soto, Destiny Wood, Matt Pugnetti, Philip Vose and Courtland Lomax.

Kometen Trailer

A creative trailer for Kometen, an equally creative iPhone/iPad game created by Swedish artists Niklas Ã…kerblad, who did the watercolor animation and music, and Erik Svedäng, who was responsible for game design and programming. I purchased the game ($3, link to iTunes store) based purely on the hand-drawn quality of the artwork and have found it to be an enchanting and relaxing game experience. The creators describe the gameplay as such: “In short the game is about exploring space to find art, while at the same time learning how to fly around in a graceful way. There isn’t any scoring system or way to lose, instead it’s all about self improvement and judging your own performance.”

(Thanks, Gabe Swarr)

Invader Zim on dvd

This is an unabashed plug for one of my all-time favorite TV shows. Nickelodeon just released the complete Invader Zim on DVD in two volumes and they were kind enough to send me Season One to review.

I always thought highly of this series, but watching it again this weekend reminded how good it truly was. And in light of the last ten years of subsequent shows on Nick, Disney Channel and Cartoon Network, it now plays like a TV animation masterpiece. I laugh long and hard at incidents, situations and visuals on this show, and if there is any justice it should be ranked alongside the likes of South Park and The Simpsons. I mean it.

Invader Zim barely lasted two seasons and has been relegated to cult status among animation buffs and devotees of Jhonen Vazquez’s comic book work. The show was too dark and subversive for Nick’s core demographic — and much of the humor flew past the heads of their younger viewers — but in retrospect Vazquez and his director Steve Ressel did everything right. The episodes never play it safe, nor are predictable. It marches to its own drummer – and that’s as it should be. And I can’t let this review end without mentioning the contributions of two personal friends: Richard Horvitz, who is perfectly cast as the manic voice of Zim; and my Cartoon Dump partner, Frank Conniff, who served as Story Editor.

Invader Zim was one of the last of the era of truly creator driven series and deserves to sit beside The Ren & Stimpy Show and Spongebob Squarepants as one of Nickelodeon’s best. These new DVDs sets are presented raw – no frills, no bonus materials – but deserve a place on your DVD shelf. I highly recommend it. Amazon link: click here.

The Sunday Funnies (5/16/10)

This week, from the top: Close To Home (5/12) by John McPherson; three from The Quigmans (5/12, 5/13, 5/14) by Buddy Hickerson; Chuckle Bros. (5/14) by Brian and Roy Boychuk; Brevity (5/9) by Guy Endore-Kaiser and Rodd Perry; Moderately Confused (5/10) by Jeff Stahler.

(Thanks Jim Lahue, Jed Martinez, Charles Brubaker, Kurtis Findlay and Uncle Wayne)

Harryhausen at the Academy

Last night the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences opened it’s incredible Chuck Jones exhibit – a must-see for any animation fan living in or visiting the Los Angeles area this summer – but I’ve neglected to mention here the Academy’s equally incredible Ray Harryhausen installation. Located in the 4th Floor Gallery, this is a vital show for anyone with the slightest interest in animation, special effects or fantasy films.

Harryhausen’s original storyboards, paintings and production sketches from just about all his films are on view, along with video clips, behind-the-scenes photographs, original movie posters and of course – the stars of the show – the actual models themselves: the Kraken, the Cyclops, the Skeletons, the flying saucers and dinosaurs we’ve admired all our lives.

The Fantastical Worlds of Ray Harryhausen is free and open to the public to view during business hours Tuesday through Friday, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., and on weekends, noon to 6 p.m. through August 22nd. The Academy’s galleries are located at 8949 Wilshire Boulevard in Beverly Hills and will be closed for the Memorial Day (May 29 and 30) and Independence Day (July 3 and 4) holiday weekends. Go!

Dry Fish

This is one of those “love it or hate it” experimental pieces. London based designer/director Andy Martin has just completed a new animated short called Dry Fish. Martin details his thought process on his blog:

“Sometime you find yourself in a place that you just can’t explain and quite often it can be a little bit worrying. This animated short tells of one such occasion as our hero tries to express his feelings in the only way he can…via the medium of song.”

Titles for Henchin’

Here’s a nice little animated opening title sequence from Henchin’, an otherwise live action short film by Javier Badillo. Badillo, an animator / filmmaker from Venezuela now living and working in Vancouver, wrote and storyboarded the sequence. He then gathered a team of local animation artists, including director Jeff Agala (Atomic Betty), to help produce the cartoon prelude:

If you are curious, you can watch the rest of the short here

Amazing Archive of Vintage TV Commercials

The commercial above comes from Duke University’s AdViews digital archive which is the most significant collection of vintage TV commercials that I’ve ever seen available online. The commercials, which were digitized only last year, were either created or collected by the ad agency Benton & Bowles and its successor, D’Arcy Masius Benton & Bowles (DMB&B). I’ve browsed through only a portion of the offerings, and have already seen dozens of pristine copies of animated TV commercials that I’d never seen before. For example, there’s this collection of Linus the Lionhearted commercials, but even better is this proto-Linus commercial that dates back to when he was a mascot for a cereal called Heart of Oats. Also notable is this seven-minute US Air Force Reserve short directed by Gerard Baldwin at Hanna-Barbera with backgrounds by Walt Peregoy.

My favorite commercial of the moment? This bizarre Fleischer-esque piece advertising hot cereal. They sure don’t make loopy neck animation like that anymore:

Looney Tuneage

This Friday, May 14th, the Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences will host its annual Marc Davis Celebration of Animation. This year the focus is on music in animated films. Oscar winning composer Michael Giacchino (The Incredibles) will lead a discussion on the subject with guests Pete Docter (Up) and composer Bruce Broughton (Rescuer’s Down Under; Tiny Tunes).

Presented in conjunction with the opening of the Academy’s Chuck Jones exhibition, the evening will include big-screen presentations of the animated shorts Music Land (1935), A Corny Concerto (1943), The Rabbit of Seville (1950) and more. If you haven’t got tickets, it may be too late. Standby tickets are available, numbers will be distributed at 5:30pm.

Good news if you live in Kentucky or the Greater Cincinnati, Ohio area. The Kentucky Symphony Orchestra is also featuring a program this weekend dedicated to cartoon scores. Steve and Julie Bernstein (composers for Animaniacs) and voice actor Rob Paulsen will appear along with author and cartoon music expert, Daniel Goldmark, who will moderate a discussion and host the program.

Looney Tuneage will begin at 8:00 p.m. Friday & Saturday May 14 & 15, at Notre Dame Academy’s Frances K. Carlisle Performing Arts Center (1140 Madison Ave. in Covington, Kentucky). For more information and tickets click here.

(Thanks, Chuck Rekow)

Three Legged Legs for Starbucks

Santa Monica-based Three Legged Legs created this Starbucks spot in four days, including design, animatic, animation, and revisions. They’ve posted the development artwork for it on their website. Another worthwhile section on their site is called Chronicles, a collection of pitch work for commercials that weren’t made for any number of reasons. It’d be a valuable resource if more animation production companies posted this type of pitch work online.

Agency: BBDO New York
Director: Three Legged Legs
Production Company: Green Dot Films
Director: Three Legged Legs
Creative Director: Greg Gunn, Casey Hunt, Reza Rasoli
Animation: Jameson Baltes, David Do, Mike Tavarez
Design: Chuck BB, Alex Preston, Thomas Yamaoka
Complete credits on Three Legged Leg’s website.

Buy the Home of a Disney Legend

Fred Joerger

The home of Disney Imagineering legend Fred Joerger is currently on the market for just under half a million dollars. It’s located in Lake View Terrace, a short drive to Burbank. Putting his Imagineering background to good use, Joerger designed and built the home himself, and hired color stylist Walt Peregoy (101 Dalmatians) to create Roman style-sculptures, and Disney artists Travis Johnson and Tyrus Wong (Bambi) to create hand-painted ceiling murals. More details and photos at this real estate website. If you buy the place, please remember to invite me over for the housewarming party.

(Thanks, Dave Thomas)

Winners of Stuttgart Festival of Animated Film

Last Sunday the 17th Stuttgart Festival of Animated Film announced its winners. I’ve seen about half of the films on the list, and it’s a very strong line-up. It encourages me to see so much excellent animation being produced nowadays, even if virtually none of it is made in the US. The Grand Prix was awarded to Joseph Pierce’s A Family Portrait (view a clip here). Pierce’s graduation short, Stand Up, left an indelible impression on me when I saw it a couple years ago and it’s exciting to see him pushing his style further. His work transforms the clunky rotoscope technique into a striking and artful form of personal expression that proves the viability of the technique when placed in the hands of a gifted artist.

The Lotte Reiniger Promotion Award for Animated Film was won by David López Retamero for his Royal College of Art short Sam’s Hot Dogs. Again, it’s not online, save for this tantalizing clip.

One of the award-winning films at Stuttgart that is available online is Nina Bisyarina’s A Trip to the Seaside, a beautiful and sensitively drawn piece of animation hailing from Russia:

The Norwegian short Sinna Mann (Angry Man) by Anita Killi took home the Audience Award. Here is its trailer:

In the student category, a special mention went to Lebensader by Angela Steffen, which has a full website with clip at When I was on the Ottawa jury last year, we awarded her film the festival prize for graduate animation. She was also an animator on Andreas Hykade’s film Love and Theft which was featured on Cartoon Brew a few days ago.

The top student prize belonged to Parade by Pierre-Emmanuel Lyet, an exercise in graphic minimalism:

Ghibli’s Tales from Earthsea gets US release

Disney has just announced that it will theatrically release Goro Miyazaki’s Tales from Earthsea (Gedo Senki) in the US on August 13th under its Touchstone Pictures banner. This marks the second fully animated feature to be released under that label — the first being Tim Burton’s Nightmare Before Christmas (Who Framed Roger Rabbit, another Touchstone picture, was live-action/animated).

Hayao Miyazaki’s son, Goro directed this adaptation of Ursula K. Le Guin’s Earthsea novels in 2006. The film was held up from US distribution due to an existing non-compete arrangement with Sci-Fi Channel, over their live action mini-series based on the same material. The voice cast in Disney’s dub includes Timothy Dalton, Willem Dafoe, Cheech Marin and Mariska Hargitay.

(Thanks, Liam)