The Artists of “Tangled”

“I had the great experience of working as an animator on Tangled,” writes Claudio de Oliveira, “and by the end of the production I found some time to put together this homage to keep some memories of the ‘people’ behind this amazing project. It would be great if you could pass it along and put some faces out, not only our work.” Just be careful guys, if people don’t like the film, they know what you look like now.

“Awesome Reach” by Arin Hanson

Awesome Reach

The anonymous Brew reader who submitted Awesome Reach wrote, “I thought the animation here was wonderfully grotesque and over-the-top,” and I agree. The one-minute short, celebrating the release of the video game Halo: Reach, was created by Arin “Egoraptor” Hanson.

There are a lot of wildly talented, self-taught animators who post work on Newgrounds, and while they sometimes achieve micro-celebrity status on the site, their work remains completely unknown to the animation community, and moreover, the general public. A lot of that has to do with Newgrounds itself; the signal-to-noise ratio on the site makes it impossible for an outsider to discover anything worthwhile. Hopefully, artists with as much talent as Arin can break out and achieve the broader recognition (and financial rewards) they deserve.

“I Want Your Money” trailer

This is the trailer for I Want Your Money, an anti-Obama political documentary that opens in theaters this Friday. Like countless documentaries nowadays, it uses animation to help communicate its message. The film’s director Ray Griggs made no secret about why he inserted animation into the film, explaining in an article that, “I promised myself if I was going to make a documentary, it would be one that I’d want to watch and hold my interest, which is a big reason why we have the animation.”

I’m not sure who did the CG animation, but the bobble head-style politicians, who include Reagan, Obama, Clinton, Schwarzenegger, and Sarah Palin, are based on designs by Tom Richmond of MAD Magazine. Richmond apparently isn’t overly impressed with the results. He posted images of his original designs on his blog and commented, “Unfortunately Ray [Griggs] had a lot of trouble with the animation companies that did the CGI and frankly the final results leave a lot to be desired. I think the modeling and basic characters look fine, but the talking animation part is rough.”

Eggleston’s other Telluride Poster

Back in June we reported on Pixar’s Ralph Eggleston’s terrific poster for this year’s Telluride Film Festival. That poster is available for sale here. My old friend Gary Meyer, who happens to be the co-director of the Telluride festival, just pointed out to me that Eggleston created two posters and that the second one, a special edition poster, is now available on their online store.

This one is absolutely beautiful, summing up the magical, communal experience of watching movies in a theatre, surrounded by friends and like-minded film buffs. Nice job, Eggman!

Ralph Eggleston poster

Warren Spector on Oswald Rabbit

Below, another viral trailer for Epic Mickey. I actually hate giving them so much free publicity, but this is a slick talking-head mini-doc on the history of Oswald The Lucky Rabbit. They score extra points for the cameos of books by pals Craig Yoe and Mike Barrier.

Apparently creative director Warren Spector revealed all sorts of information about the game at this past weekend’s NY Comic Con, which included this quote: “Epic Mickey is the first time Oswald ever had a voice of any kind. Oswald’s voice is performed by Frank Welker.” For the record, Oswald spoke frequently in many 1930s Walter Lantz’ cartoons with June Foray providing his voice in the final Oswald theatrical, Egg Cracker Suite (1943).

(Thanks, Matthew Gaastra)

“Sun” by Celine and Yann

A cute short made by Celine & Yann, a directing duo repped by Passion Pictures and comprised of Yann Benedi and Celine Desrumaux. A great example of how to tell a story in one minute. Student filmmakers could learn a lot from this, including the importance of having strong personality animation even when using an illustrative design style.

Sun is the second short in Celine & Yann’s self-produced “Giants” series; the first was Army. Sound design provided by David Kamp.

Chris Robinson Talks about the Ottawa Animation Festival

Ottawa

The Ottawa International Animation Festival takes place next week. If you’ve never been, GO! It’s a wonderful event to catch up with what’s new and fresh in the world of animation.

The festival is big, but not so big that the focus ever shifts from filmmakers and their films. The low-key vibe feels just right, and plenty of filmmakers attend which keeps things from getting boring. The all-you-can-watch buffet of special screenings and competition selections are impeccably programmed, and much of that can be attributed to the festival’s artistic director, Chris Robinson, who is also the author of many fine books on the subject of animation. He spoke with Cartoon Brew about this year’s festival:

CARTOON BREW: Having to watch so many films for preselection every year, you have a better perspective on indie animation than most. I’m curious what are the emerging trends you’ve seen in short films this year? Have you seen any broad changes in animation–stylistically, technique, or content-wise–over the past few years of directing the festival?

CHRIS ROBINSON: I dunno. I never have an answer to that question. Every year the films are diverse in terms of content and technique….so it’s hard for me to say that there are any specific trends. If there’s one thing I noticed this year it’s the length of the films. We’ve got at least a handful of 15 minute plus films in competition. All are strong works and it’s likely just one of those years, but I wonder if this is leading more animators towards features.

I guess if there’s a content trend at all it’s films dealing with social issues. A few films deal with war, environment and consumption. Normally not my cup of tea (cause they tend to be preachy) but these works were quite different, more mature and informed.

It’s very difficult for me to really be blown away by a film after all these years. I see some fantastic films (and a lot of crud) but few that are really ground-breaking. But that’s my problem. I’m disappointed by the quality of features and adult TV shows, but, again, this changes from year to year. Last year there were some great features. This year their ain’t. So it goes.

CARTOON BREW: I’m looking forward to checking out the four-part Japanese animation series you’ve prepared this year. Tell us about how you designed these programs and how it ties in with your new book? It seems like we don’t hear about a lot of the independent animation coming out of Japan because the mainstream anime industry is so overwhelmingly dominant. Is it the same in Japan or do they carve out space for independent creators within the country?

CHRIS ROBINSON: The programs feature pretty much features of all of the artists I visit in the book. There’s a focus specifically on Tezuka whose short films are miles away from his Anime work. The other two are overviews of indie animation from about the 1950s onward. Very eclectic mix including more known animators (Yamamura, Kawamoto, Kuri etc…) and lesser knowns. The fourth screening showcases work by two brilliant newish animators, Atsushi Wada and Kei Oyama. They’re not all that well known in the indie animation community but both have been making incredibly unique works. 

Nobuaki Doi is curating the two indie programs. He went beyond the book and added a number of works that I don’t cover in the book. So combined, the book and screenings really offer an extensive and well rounded intro to this lesser known side of Japanese animation.

And yes… like every other bloody country, the indie are pretty much ignored and overshadowed by mainstream animation (in this case, Anime)

CARTOON BREW: What are some of the special events, workshops and guests that you think attendees should look for especially?

CHRIS ROBINSON: Aside from Pixar and Disney presentations (sort of an annual thing now), there’s three exhibitions with two of them focusing on non-animation artists (including our poster creator Andrea Stokes). The other is connected with Lipsett Diaries. Theo Ushev is creating a series of new works inspired by Lipsett.

There are a trio of masterclasses and one that stands out features Caroline Leaf. You don’t hear a lot about her these days so it’ll be a rare opportunity for people to meet her and get an inside scoop on her work. The NFB is also releasing a dvd of her works.

One other presentation that I find interesting is Kenk: Animating a Graphic Novel. Kenk is a graphic novel (with Toronto and Ottawa creators) that follows the true life of story of a Toronto bike store owner who is apparently the world’s biggest bike thief. His views on the world and what he’s doing with the bikes is quite fascinating. Anyway…they’re turning this into an animation film so the creators will be on hand to talk about the process.

There will also be a lecture about Tezuka given by one of the big chiefs at the Tezuka studio. So….it’s a pretty good balance again. Something for the artsy fartsy crowd and more mainstream youngsters. Oh…and parties too.

Banksy directs “Simpsons” show intro

British street artist/prankster Banksy “directed” the intro to tonight’s episode of The Simpsons. It’s provocative, but the statement lacks potency because it was created by the same mass production infrastructure that he’s protesting. A reader on Gawker who goes by the handle “ReelMissing” stated this most eloquently:

“You don’t protest something by indulging in it. That’s the opposite of the point. Banksy was in part protesting Fox animation’s brutal treatment of its animators, but guess who animated the sequence? Fox animators did.

“It’s like killing a kitten and writing ‘ANIMAL CRUELTY IS WRONG’ next to the corpse in the dead animals’ blood. Maybe not on that scale of evil, but you get the point.”

UPDATE: The New York Times talks to Simpsons producer Al Jean about the Banksy intro.

UPDATE: Fox made a copyright claim and forced YouTube to remove the video from Banksy’s personal YouTube channel:
Nelson Muntz

UPDATE: Credits for the sequence VIA:
Character layout by Greg Checketts, Manny DeGuzman, and Jeff Johnson
BG layout by John Liu
Effects animation by Brice Mallier
Timing by Larry Smith
Color design by Dima Malanitchev
Digital magic by Steve Mills
Storyboard by Luis Escobar
Designs by Eric Keyes, Ricky Manginsay, Kevin Moore, Debbie Peterson, Hugh MacDonald, and Jefferson Weekley
Animation by a buncha nameless Koreans

New Cartoon Network Series “Robotomy” Premieres Oct. 25

Robotomy

Robotomy tells the story of Thrasher and Blastus, two outsider teenage droids who are only slightly less horrific than the ultra-powerful robots that populate their planet, Killglobe. Now they face their greatest challenge yet: high school. Armed with a desire to fit in (and little else), Thrasher and Blastus navigate their lives with varying degrees of success. Stand up comedy icon Patton Oswalt (Ratatouille, King of Queens) voices Thrasher, with John Gemberling as Blastus. Other celebrity cameos in the first season include Jack McBrayer (30 Rock), Lewis Black (Daily Show), Eliza Dushku (Dollhouse), rapper Lil Jon, and comedians Gilbert Gottfried and Lisa Lampanelli. Created by Michael Buckley (N.E.R.D.S., The Sisters Grimm), Joe Deasy and co-executive produced by Christy Karacas (Superjail), Robotomy, a quarter-hour series, is produced in at New York World Leaders Entertainment.

Premiere: Monday, October 25 at 8:45pm ET/PT following MAD

“Red Head Speedskater” and “Spaceman Stu” by Oliver Conrad

Terrific photo-collage style and overall art direction in “Red Head Speedskater,” a music video for Airpushers directed and animated by Oliver Conrad at the New York studio Kompost. I love the movement of the titular character, which has a video game influence. Sophisticated design choices abound in this video; note how the director maintains interest by varying the timing of the skater’s movement and also by cutting the camera frequently while maintaining the illusion of a smooth ride.

I’m ashamed to say that I was unfamiliar with Kompost’s work until now. In fact, the video is from two years ago and I only learned about it because it was featured on Vimeo’s front page over the weekend. Here’s a more recent spot that Kompost recently completed for McDonald’s. It’s also directed by Conrad, and it’s one of the most genial and artistic spots I’ve ever seen selling hamburgers:

“Duck-ticks and Catapults” by Almir Correia

Think American TV animation is bad? What if you tried to sell a series about ticks with duck beaks, who catapult their way around the universe? Even Cartoon Network would reject that one.

Not so in Brazil. I don’t know what they are drinking down there, but the most ridiculous concept to emerge from last week’s MIPCOM (the annual international television marketplace in Cannes) is something called Duck-ticks and Catapults. Thirteen episodes are being produced by studio Zoom Elefante for AnimaTV (here’s the pilot in Portuguese). Almir Correia is the creator, writer and director.

“One Minute Racist” by Caveh Zahedi

Indie filmmaker Caveh Zahedi has incorporated animation into his features and also made a couple animated shorts, including One Minute Racist, a film whose message is as timely as ever. It was made in collaboration with Ian Danskin and Alan Peterson, who animated the film. The animation is crude as could be imagined, but I’ll choose crudity with a point of view over a slick, aimless display of nothing any day.

Would You Submit Work to Kenn Viselman?

High-profile children’s entertainment licensor Kenn Viselman (Teletubbies, Thomas the Tank Engine), who refers to himself as the Madonna of the toy business, is launching a new preschool program called Millipede and he’s looking for content from children’s producers. The submission form contract has raised some eyebrows from people who have emailed us about it, and I’m curious whether others out there would feel comfortable submitting to Viselman’s show.

There’s a lot of legalese in there, so I attempted to translate it into human-readable language. Here’s what I came up with: Before you submit anything to Kenn, you have to acknowledge that your property is not unique and that Kenn may have already had the same idea. You also have to acknowledge that you won’t file a lawsuit if he ends up producing something that looks exactly like your own work. If he likes your idea, and hasn’t already thought of it himself, he’ll offer you a deal within his “standard parameters.” If you end up having any dispute with Kenn, you can’t take him to court. Instead, you have to agree that a random dude named Skip will resolve your problems (seriously, I’m not making this up folks).

I’m sure some of the terms are industry-standard for submission releases, but even if that’s the case, I find the entire process off-putting and one-sided, especially considering that Kenn’s the one looking for material. Here’s a longish article about the guy from a 2003 issue of Inc. magazine.

“Visit” by Kangmin Kim

While animation is usually a time-consuming craft, some people push it further than others. All I could think of while watching Kangmin Kim‘s Visit was how long it took him to make the film. The mixed-media project (stop motion, cut out and paint on glass) was made in the CalArts experimental animation program, and while the storytelling leaves something to be desired, the careful attention to visual detail is entrancing. The making-of video after the jump offers a glimpse at his insane production process:
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Mike Myers as Pepe LePew

It’s one thing to destroy Yogi Bear. It’s quite another to violate Pepe LePew. New York Magazine is reporting that Warner Bros. is developing a live action feature film with a CGI Pepe, like the Garfield movies. If that’s not enough to make you ill, they are passing over former Pepe thespians Joe Alaskey and Maurice LaMarche to let Mike Myers (The Cat In the Hat, Shrek) voice the skunk. Confidentially, this stinks!

I wonder what our readers think?

“Stand-Up” by Joseph Pierce

Standup by Joseph Pierce

Stand-Up (2008) by Joseph Pierce made a strong impression on me when I saw it at Annecy a couple years ago. Since then, I’ve searched every so often to see if Joseph had posted the film on-line, and he’s finally made it available. I’m happy to report that Stand-Up holds up and then some. This was Pierce’s graduation film produced at the UK’s National Film & Television School, and since then he’s gone on to direct the short film A Family Portrait, which won the Grand Prize at the Stuttgart animation festival earlier this year.

As a generality, rotoscoped animation doesn’t do much for me. It mostly leaves me scratching my head and wondering why did they even bother to animate it in the first place. Animation can be (and should strive to be) much more than a watered-down impersonation of reality. Pierce gets that, and uses roto as a means to an end.

The quirky visual style of Stand-Up is exhilarating, as is the way that Pierce’s creative animation weaves in and out of the underlying roto. The main character’s agitated graphic transformations push far beyond the live-action source, illustrating both narrative and psychological aspects of the unsettling story. The story itself, loosely structured but thoughtful, is a look into the world of a boozing stand-up who uses his routine to make a startling confession. The inherent ‘creep’ factor that is an annoying by-product of the rotoscope process actually feeds into the film’s style and makes the comedian’s tale that much more disturbing. It all adds up to a short film that you won’t forget anytime soon.

(Thank you, Celia Bullwinkel, for the link)

“The Eagleman Stag” trailer

The Eagleman Stag is a new short by 26-year-old London-based animator Mike Please, who is a graduate of Royal College of Art. It has some nice translucency and film grain effects that lend the computer animation a handmade feel.

Oh wait, it’s not computer animation:

This trailer had me totally fooled when I saw it. By paring down his stop motion models to their rawest element–unpainted foam–Mike achieves strikingly distinctive look. A few months ago, I purchased a hot wire foam sculpting tool on a whim, so intrigued was I by the device after watching a live demonstration. I’m even more fascinated by the possibilities of foam after watching this trailer.

“Idiots and Angels” Contest

Idiots and Angels

OUR FIRST TWITTER CONTEST IS NOW OVER!
WE’LL HAVE MORE SOON!

Bill Plympton’s feature Idiots and Angels opens in New York tomorrow and to celebrate, we’re giving away three Idiots and Angels movie posters signed by Bill Plympton. To win, simply be one of the first three (US or Canada-based) people to answer this question on Cartoon Brew’s Twitter account (make sure to direct the answer to us @cartoonbrew):

Bill Plympton was born in Oregon. What other famous animator, who coined the term Claymation, was also born in Oregon?

[Note: Comments are turned off on this post because answers should be posted on Twitter.]

“Let Go” Video by David Wilson

David Wilson created this visually arresting hand-drawn music video to accompany “Let Go,” a new track by The Japanese Popstars. The concept and execution are very polished, but Wilson might want to do a better job of masking his influences (the similarities to animation by Blu, Christy Karacas, and especially Andreas Hykade’s Love and Theft gave the whole thing a feeling of ‘been there, done that). Impressively, the video was created in twenty days. Here’s a making of piece that explains some of the ideas behind the piece.
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