Accumulonimbus by Andy Kennedy

An experimental animated short by Brooklyn-based animator Andy Kennedy, Accumulonimbus depicts various objects moving around in a spin cycle. The sophisticated patterns and rhythms of movement are mesmerizing, and a reminder of how animation can create moods and experiences that are not possible in any other medium. Kennedy’s website has an extensive behind-the-scenes section that shows how he made the film in stop-motion as well as the incredible amount of pre-planning that went into its making. The music, which I felt worked against the visual timing in certain instances but which grew on me during the second viewing, was composed by Kennedy too.

(Thanks, Mike Rauch)

Animation Block Party 2010 Winners

The seventh annual Animation Block Party wrapped up in Brooklyn last Sunday. The event’s organizer, Casey Safron, has created a unique and worthwhile event. When I attended on opening night (my first time at Animation Block), there was an enthusiastic crowd of over one thousand people who had gathered on the lawn of the Automotive High School to watch animated shorts on two big screens.

I served as a member of the jury along with Rachel Simon of World Leaders Entertainment, Dave Schlafman of CloudKid, and Ramin Zahed of Animation Magazine. The judging procedure for Animation Block differed from other festivals I’ve judged in that the jury’s picks were averaged instead of attempting to form a consensus amongst all the members. Below you’ll find our choices, each of whom will receive various software packages and other prizes

Two of the winners–Barbara Benas’s Always Only Ever and Kyu-bum Lee’s Death Buy Lemonade–will also be appearing shortly on Cartoon Brew TV’s Student Animation Festival. The Best in Show prizewinner, Old Fangs, is embedded above.

Best in Show: Old Fangs by Adrien Merigeau, Ireland
Original Design: Paper Daydream by Jun Iwakawa, United Kingdom
Computer Animation: Urs by Moritz Mayerhofer, Filmakademie Baden-Württemberg, Germany
Experimental Film: Pink Spray Paint by Carly White, ENSAD, France
Music Video: Spacious Thoughts by Fluorescent Hill, Montreal, Canada
Narrative Short: Bygone Behemoth by Harry Chaskin, USA
Student Film: Always Only Ever by Barbara Benas, CCAD, USA
Minute or Under: How to Lose Weight in 60 Seconds by Dave Carter, Australia
Documentary: Perista by Kim Weiner, RISD, USA
Audience Award: Death Buy Lemonade by Kyu-bum Lee, Sheridan College, Canada

INCEPTION rips off Uncle Scrooge

Was the plot of Christopher Nolan’s Inception inspired by a Don Rosa Uncle Scrooge comic book story? In the story, created for the European market in 2002 and published in the US in the May 2004 issue of Uncle Scrooge (#329), Scrooge’s totem is a 25-pound bar of solid gold. His “limbo” is an endless desert where each grain of sand is actually a microscopic gold coin. Both stories have characters use a machine to enter someone’s dream – and entering someone’s dream to steal a secret. The similarities don’t end there. You can read the full comic here.

(Thanks, Joe Dante, via IWatchStuff)

Betty Boop Fest to honor Grim Natwick

This weekend in Wisconsin, the Wisconsin Rapids Betty Boop Festival will celebrate its native son: Myron “Grim” Natwick, the designer and original animator of Betty Boop at Fleischer Studios in 1930. The ASIFA-Hollywood Animation Archive will be there with an exhibit and screenings featuring Natwick’s greatest work. Nina Paley will also be there screening Sita Sings The Blues, and there will be parties, dances, motorcycle rallys, and live music. The whole event culminates in the unveiling of a historical marker in honor of Grim Natwick at their museum. For more information, check the Boop Festival website.

(Thanks Stephen Worth)

Photo Flashback: Disney in the late-1930s

Disney Hyperion Studios
(click for hi-res version)

This is a shot of Disney’s Hyperion studio circa the time of production on Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs. Not to glamorize a past where artists made fifteen dollars a week, but sometimes it’s fun to take a look back at how things were. The girl in the foreground is wearing some type of uniform which makes me wonder if she was a visitor rather than an employee.

Between Bears by Eran Hilleli

The best part about Eran Hilleli’s Between Bears is the distinctive style he crafted using Maya and After Effects. The graduation short was made at Bezalel Academy in Jerusalem. If you can read any meaning into the film, I’d be curious to hear your take; all I took from this short is that old men love butterflies made out of bear fur. Then again, I may still be a bit slow after my weekend getaway.

(Thanks, Nate Pacheco)

Japanese Mickey Mouse remote control

Here’s something I’d like to have: this cleverly designed limited edition Mickey Mouse remote control from Japan, with a stand shaped like Mickey’s shoes. In addition to controlling the TV (and which Disney Channel you’ll watch) it has a voice button with which to hear 9 Mickey Mouse lines. It also has a “B.S.” button (which hopefully filters out all Disney B.S.). If only it could restore all cable programming to pre-1970 Disney films and cartoons.

(Thanks Ed Austin, via

FIRST PEEK: Fairly Odd live action

Not quite as jarring as the Yogi Bear movie, but here’s the first image of Jason Alexander and Cheryl Hines in makeup for Nickelodeon’s new live-action movie, A Fairly Odd Movie: Grow up Timmy Turner.

Note to Jason Alexander: I’m a fan – but stop doing cartoon characters! You didn’t do Boris Badenov any favors and do you really want this on your resume?

For comparison, below are the original cartoon characters (left); two fans at Comic Con who look a bit more accurate (center); and Jason as Badenov in the 2000 Rocky & Bullwinkle film.

(via Frederator blogs)

The Sunday Funnies (8/1/10)

Each week we highlight several of the print cartoons, comic strips and panels that reflect the world of animation. This week we’ve got three examples: Doonesbury (7/28) by Garry Trudeau, Brevity (7/30) by Guy Endore-Kaiser and Rodd Perry – both referencing Pixar – and Scott Hilburn’s Argyle Sweater (7/28), taking on a breakfast cereal icon.

(Thanks to Jim Lahue, Kurtis Findlay and Charles Brubaker)