Music Video Hard-Ons

These videos have recently been completed for the Sydney-based punk-pop band known as the Hard-ons. Directed by Mark Gravas at Australia’s Kapow Pictures, the two videos couldn’t be more different. Aaron Powell and Colin Bigelow led a small team to create both pieces using traditional hand drawn techniques, Flash and After Effects.

In the first, Pretend It’s Vanilla, Hammer seeks revenge and hunts down his old bullies tack, screw and nail. A nightmare tale of drunken violence.

The second one, In The End We All Die Alone, the Hard-ons descend into the bowels of hell:

Top Movies in the First Half of 2010

2010 Box Office

The list above, snatched from Box Office Mojo, shows the top five movies at the North American box office in the first half of 2010. Whether you like the films or not, animated features have rarely dominated Hollywood’s box office as they have done this year so far. Nobody in Hollywood dares point it out, but the numbers speak for themselves and they clearly show that the few films made by our small animation community are consistently more popular with audiences than the glut of movies being churned out by the rest of Hollywood.

Bill Plympton’s Guard Dog Global Jam

Guard Dog Global Jam

Bill Plympton is remaking his Oscar-nominated short Guard Dog–with your help. He’s calling it the “Guard Dog Global Jam” and he’s asking seventy animators to re-animate one shot from the short. Animators can use any style or technique as long as the dog character is recognizable and the length of the scene remains the same to keep the soundtrack in sync. Details about “Guard Dog Global Jam” are posted in a downloadable document at Animators can begin choosing shots, most of which are between 2-4 seconds long, on September 1st, 2010. All participants will receive a piece of original art from Guard Dog.

Popular Science/Fleischer App

Shields Pictures, the owners of the old Paramount Pictures Popular Science theatrical shorts, just recently released their very first App for iTunes (it plays on Apple mobile devices such as the iPhone, iPod Touch and even the iPad). And happily for us, they chose the short that features a tour of Max Fleischer’s animation studio in Miami, Florida circa 1938 – in Cinecolor!

A significant portion of all proceeds will go to preserve and restore titles from this series as well as their Unusual Occupations and Speaking of Animals shorts (they’ve informed us that they have the 3 Tex Avery Speaking of Animals films slotted for preservation in the coming months!).

The introductory price is 99 cents for the HD Max Fleischer Studio Tour iShort App – the sale ends June 30th. Show your support and buy a download at The iTunes Store.

It’s A Book

I’m posting this more because I like the message, not for its artistic merits. Not that it doesn’t have that too…

Animator Chris Roth animated this spot for Lane Smith’s new book, a children’s story about a donkey and a monkey so engrossed with technology that they can’t quite grasp the concept of a “book.” Both the book and the spot deliver an important message to kids that sometimes its good to “unplug.” Roth animated, based on Smith’s illustrations, and also provided the voices for Z Animation. It’s A Book hits the stores on August 8th.

Animation Block Party 2010

Animation Block Party

New York’s largest animation festival, Animation Block Party, has announced the selections for its seventh annual edition. The list of films in competition on their website. Screenings take place in Brooklyn over three nights between July 30 and August 1st, with live music performances and free parties too. The award jury members this year are Rachel Simon of World Leaders Entertainment, Ramin Zahed of Animation Magazine, Dave Schlafman of CloudKid, and, hey whad’ya know, Amid Amidi of Cartoon Brew. Advance tickets can be purchased on Animation Block’s website.

The Sunday Funnies (6/27/10)

We don’t write ‘em, we just post ‘em. Every Sunday, we round up the comic strips that make reference to classic and current animated characters. This week, submitted for your approval, from the top: Medium Large (6/21) by Francesco Marciuliano; Brewster Rockit (6/22) by Tim Rickard; Argyle Sweater (6/27) by Scott Hilburn; The Other Coast (6/24) by Adrian Raeside; Strange Brew (6/21) by John Deering; and Moderately Confused (6/26 & 6/21) by Jeff Stahler.

(Thanks to our comic strip mavens: Jim Lahue, John Hall, Kurtis Findlay, Charles Brubaker, Ed Austin, Jed Martinez and Uncle Wayne)

Monday in Hollywood: Cartoon Dump!

Cartoon Dump, the unholy alliance of Brewmaster Jerry Beck and writer/ producer/ comedian Frank Conniff (“TV’s Frank” from Mystery Science Theatre 3000) is back for another depraved offering of sketches, songs, puppets, stand-up comedy, and the most God-awful Saturday Morning Cartoons from the 50s, 60s and 70s — this week with special comedy guest: former Nicktoons receptionist-turned-world famous comedian, Maria Bamford!! WOO-HOO!!

If you happen to be in the Los Angeles area, consider joining Jerry, Frank and Maria with Erica Doering as “Compost Brite”, J. Elvis Weinstein as “Dumpster Diver Dan” and Dave ‘Gruber’ Allen as “Whatever Crazy Character Gruber Decides To Do” at 8pm, Monday June 28th at the Steve Allen Theater. Advanced tickets can be ordered here. Also join our Facebook Page.

“It’s like a children’s show, in Bosnia.” — Patton Oswalt

(Thank you, CHOGRIN aka Joseph Games, for the new promotional artwork partially pictured above)

In the Fall of Gravity by Ron Cole

Ron Cole, the person who made the cable-controlled skull mechanism for the Chuck Liddell puppet in the Lipton Brisk ad, directed and animated In the Fall of Gravity in 2008. It’s a mesmerizing hand-crafted experience. The articulation in the face and eyes of his characters is nothing short of jaw-dropping; the eyes especially have a warmth and depth which I’ve rarely, if ever, seen in stop-motion. Despite the technical proficiency, it never becomes so slick that the hand of the artist is obscured–an issue I have with a lot of mainstream stop-motion animation. Ron has a blog about the film that is also worth a visit.

(Thanks, Warhead, for pointing out this film in the comments of the Brisk post)

Lipton Brisk Does Animated Ads Again

Lipton’s Brisk iced tea brand aired one of the most memorable animation ad campaigns of the Nineties which starred stop-motion versions of celebrities like Frank Sinatra, Elvis and James Brown, Bruce Lee and Babe Ruth. They’ve resurrected the campaign for the 21st century with an Internet viral film called “The Way of the Brisk” starring an animated version of mixed martial arts fighter Chuck Liddell. The stop-motion was directed by Brooklyn-based animator Tatia Rosenthal, who directed the indie feature $9.99.

Tatia shared a few details about the production:

The live-action shoot took 4 days (including a day in LA with Chuck Liddell who was really amused by the little Chuck puppet). The animation took three weeks and was done in Brooklyn at Studio Nos’s facility. David Bell [animator] and I were incredibly happy to work with the fancy John Wright armature and Ron Cole’s cable-controlled face mechanism. Tiny Chuck’s head was so heavy that the flying rig had to be complemented with various wrenches, c-stands and contraptions. A video of the non-composited footage showing the nuts and bolts will hit the Internet soon.

Production company: Bright Red Pixels for Funny or Die
Directors: Jeff Marks, Adam Elend
Producer: Scott Solary
Animation Director: Tatia Rosenthal
Animators: Tatia Rosenthal, David Bell
Puppet By: David Bell
Armature: John Wright
Skull Mechanism: Ron Cole
DP: Scott Colthorp
Animation DP: Burke Heffner

Ollie Johnston As You’ve Never Seen Him Before

Ollie Johnston
click image for full-sized version

For those of you who’ve been searching for images of Disney animator Ollie Johnston in the buff–I imagine there’s a few of you–this is the closest you’re going to get: a birthday card drawn by Glen Keane in 1999. The piece comes from Ollie Johnston’s estate and is currently up for bid at Howard Lowery’s auction website.

Sean Connery is “Sir Billi”

Can this skateboarding octogenarian and his goat save the day? That’s the setup for Sir Billi, a new animated feature with the voice of Sean Connery. Their publicist wrote us, “Wanted to reach out to you with the first ‘sneak peek’ of the sizzle reel!” Szz-z-z-z…if they’re selling the sizzle here, I shudder to think what the steak looks like. Then again, hearing Connery yell, “This Bessie Boo is our beaver!” isn’t entirely devoid of entertainment value either.

UPDATE: Sean Connery explains why he is certain this is a “first-class” project:

“Mashed” by Anthony Holden

Mashed was student Anthony Holden’s final project at Brigham Young University. Holden did all the art and animation. It was completed in 2009–with boards, design, and other pre-production happening from January to April, and all of the animation, backgrounds, and compositing taking place from September to December. In the end, the film won an award from the Academy of Television Arts and Sciences (“Student Emmy”) in 2010 for best musical composition – awarded to composer Richard Williams (not the animation legend). As for director Holden — he was recently hired at DreamWorks as a story artist.

(Thanks, Aaron Ludwig)

Welcome to Cartoon Brew’s Student Animation Festival

Fuzzy Insides

Cartoon Brew’s first-ever Student Animation Festival has arrived. Slide over to Cartoon Brew TV to watch the first short Fuzzy Insides by Michaela Olsen. Then join us every week for the next ten weeks to discover today’s student filmmakers who are headed towards becoming tomorrow’s top animation talent. Here is the line-up of student films we’ll be screening, all of which are debuting on-line exclusively on Brew TV.

Watch Fuzzy Insides by Michaela Olsen

CBTV Student Fest #1: Fuzzy Insides by Michaela Olsen

First up in our student film festival is Fuzzy Insides by Michaela Olsen. It was made at the Rhode Island School of Design. The film appealed to us for its subtle yet affecting commentary on human relationships as well as Olsen’s complete command of stop-motion demonstrated through both design and animation.

Questions and comments for Michaela can be asked in the comments. Here are her production notes:

I love creating characters. I like to imagine their peccadilloes, how the walls of their rooms speak to who they are. That is really what drove the process of making Fuzzy Insides.

The project started slowly. I had all these ideas floating around in my brain and no way to connect them. My teachers, Amy Kravitz and Bryan Papciak encouraged me to veer away from artificial plot lines and forced narratives. After a few months of conceptualizing and mind changing, I decided to dive into the filmmaking part head first, and worry about the storyline later. Thus, I ended up with these odd little vignettes. The very last thing I made and shot was the spinning neighborhood block in the black abyss.

Fabrication of the puppets and sets took about 3 months. I made everything out of anything… my studio was full of random whatnots. I don’t know how to get rid of things. You can find proof of this in my parent’s basement where there are all kinds of doll heads and scraps of fabric stored away along with the four sets from this film, which are collecting dust on an old ping pong table.

I was left with little time to animate and edit (2 or 3 months), but the subdued nature of the character animation enabled me to work quickly. I used a Nikon D300, captured using Dragon Stop Motion software, and compiled in After Effects.

I draw a lot of inspiration from Eastern European and Russian animation (Yuri Norstein, Jan Svankmajer, Jiri Trnka, Priit Pärn), which probably interprets itself through the grittiness of the characters I created. A lot of people seem to view these characters as grotesque and sexual, but I think this film is about relationship dynamics and the unconditional quality of love: old love, young love, self-love, mammal love… They are all seemingly unconventional relationships, but not so extraordinary if you think about it. Behind closed doors, all relationships are weird and unique and what we see on the outside is often just a façade. My original plan was to shoot these characters from the outside of their homes through windows, but that was too cold and distant. I tried to make the environments warm and inviting. I find all the characters and situations rather sweet… but at a recent screening of Fuzzy Insides at the Brooklyn International Film Festival, one of the other filmmakers brought his young niece who was so frightened by my film that she had to leave the theater. So I guess everyone has his or her own interpretation.

More about Michaela Olsen

Matt Williames on Working at Disney

If you read just one blog post this week, make sure it’s this one by animator Matt Williames describing his experience working on Disney’s The Princess and the Frog. He states upfront that the piece comes from “a heart that wants to see change” and “My ONLY desire to see Disney recognize how far they have fallen because quite honestly I think we all care quite a lot about the studio that a guy named Walt started don’t we?”

He then goes on to write one of the most courageous things I’ve seen written by a contemporary animator: an honest appraisal of working at an animation studio. Matt’s thesis is that a feature animation studio should offer at least three things:

- A place with amazing films that challenge and inspire their artists.
- An environment of camaraderie (with the crew) where people are challenged and inspired to grow.
- An environment of active education and study.

According to him, Disney failed on all three counts. Watching The Princess and the Frog makes it clear enough that there are serious institutional problems at that studio, but Matt’s post adds a unique perspective to the situation. If anything, he shows that it’s just as difficult for the artists working on Disney’s current crop of films as it is for the audiences who are expected to watch and be entertained by them.

UPDATE: Matt removed the post from his blog.

(via Mark Mayerson)

Spotted at my local Target store…

So I was shopping at my local Target store today, walking past the Toy Story 3 merchandise, when I spotted this Barbie doll tie-in (at left). What caught my attention was the exclaimation below the Barbie logo: Barbie Loves Woody! I’ll bet she does. Since we know she’s got a thing for Ken, and since the lettering is all in caps, I’m not sure if the “Woody” Barbie loves is Andy’s sheriff – or something else? P.S. Barbie take note: Too much “loving Woody” may cause a “Choking Hazard” – according to the warning on the box!