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)
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’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
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.
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 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.
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.
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 anythingâ€¦ 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 loveâ€¦ 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 faÃ§ade. 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 sweetâ€¦ 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.
Student George Metaxas made this short stop-mo animated film using only card board materials. The results got him accepted this year into the experimental animation program at Cal Arts. He says “It’s an allegory about the sacrifices of the creative process”. Whatever it is, I like it.
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.
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!
Conor Finnegan’s cute l’il graduate film from the IADT National Film School in Ireland, is a mix of stop-motion, live action and hand drawn animation. It was shot in his attic on a Cannon EOS 5D, Cannon 450D and “basically any camera I could borrow from friends and siblings”.
Rectangular sponges are out; triangles are in. Today’s NY Times writes about how Disney’s Phineas and Ferb is the next SpongeBob. I find that premise difficult to believe. Is Phineas and Ferb really as popular with college students and young adults as SpongeBob in its heyday? A successful kids show it may be, but Phineas and Ferb has a ways to go before turning into a pop culture phenomenon.