Only 3 Animated Features to Receive Oscar Noms

Today, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences announced the animated features that have been accepted for consideration in the Animated Feature category of the Academy Awards. (We’ve posted the Academy’s press release in our CB Biz section.)

Fifteen features qualified:
* “Alpha and Omega”
* “Cats & Dogs: The Revenge of Kitty Galore”
* “Despicable Me”
* “The Dreams of Jinsha”
* “How to Train Your Dragon”
* “Idiots and Angels”
* “The Illusionist”
* “Legend of the Guardians: The Owls of Ga’Hoole”
* “Megamind”
* “My Dog Tulip”
* “Shrek Forever After”
* “Summer Wars”
* “Tangled”
* “Tinker Bell and the Great Fairy Rescue”
* “Toy Story 3”

Under Academy rules, “in any year when 8 to 15 animated features are released in Los Angeles County, a maximum of 3 motion pictures may be nominated.” Had one more feature qualified, the number of nominees would have expanded to five features.

The biggest losers in this scenario are the indies like Bill Plympton’s Idiots and Angels, Sylvain Chomet’s The Illusionist and Paul and Sandra Fierlinger’s My Dog Tulip, as well as the sleeper anime hit, Mamoru Hosoda’s Summer Wars. A field of five nominees would virtually guarantee one or two of them a nomination, but they face an uphill battle now. It’s not impossible though. In 2003, Chomet’s The Triplets of Belleville scored a nomination in a field of three, and Marjane Satrapi and Vincent Paronnaud’s Persepolis did the same thing in 2007. They’ll have to claw their way to the top against a crowded field of big studio contenders like Toy Story 3, How to Train Your Dragon, Despicable Me, and Tangled.

15 Animated Features Line Up for 2010 Oscar Race

Beverly Hills, CA (November 15, 2010) — Fifteen features have been accepted for consideration in the Animated Feature Film category for the 83rd Academy Awards®.

The 15 features are:

* “Alpha and Omega”
* “Cats & Dogs: The Revenge of Kitty Galore”
* “Despicable Me”
* “The Dreams of Jinsha”
* “How to Train Your Dragon”
* “Idiots and Angels”
* “The Illusionist”
* “Legend of the Guardians: The Owls of Ga’Hoole”
* “Megamind”
* “My Dog Tulip”
* “Shrek Forever After”
* “Summer Wars”
* “Tangled”
* “Tinker Bell and the Great Fairy Rescue”
* “Toy Story 3”

“The Dreams of Jinsha,” “The Illusionist,” “Summer Wars” and “Tangled” have not yet had their required Los Angeles qualifying run. Submitted features must fulfill the theatrical release requirements and meet the category’s other qualifying rules before they can advance in the voting process.

Under the rules for this category, in any year in which 8 to 15 animated features are released in Los Angeles County, a maximum of 3 motion pictures may be nominated. If 16 or more animated features are submitted and accepted in the category, a maximum of 5 motion pictures may be nominated.

Films submitted in the Animated Feature Film category also may qualify for Academy Awards in other categories, including Best Picture, provided they meet the requirements for those categories.

The 83rd Academy Awards nominations will be announced live on Tuesday, January 25, 2011, at 5:30 a.m. PT in the Academy’s Samuel Goldwyn Theater.

Academy Awards for outstanding film achievements of 2010 will be presented on Sunday, February 27, 2011, at the Kodak Theatre at Hollywood & Highland Center®, and televised live by the ABC Television Network. The Oscar presentation also will be televised live in more than 200 countries worldwide.

Holographic Anime Pop Star

Hatsune Miku is the latest J-Pop star – with a twist: she’s not real. In fact, she’s an anime “holograph” (Actually, she’s projected onto a mesh screen so it’s technically flat). Finally a use for motion capture I approve of. At least, I think its mo-cap… the company behind this, Crypton Future Media, won’t admit that either. Here’s a sample performance – and the song is catchy too:

(Thanks, Paul Dini)

Bob Foster is The New Animation Guild President

Bob Foster

Over the weekend, The Animation Guild, Local 839 IATSE, which represents animation artists throughout Los Angeles, announced its election results. The new president is Bob Foster who has had an impressive forty-year career in the industry. I’d occasionally run into Bob when I lived in LA, and he always impressed me with his knowledge of animation and cartoon history. He’s as much a fan of the art form as he is someone who works in it, and that’s a commendable trait.

Foster ran uncontested, and replaces computer animator Kevin Koch, who is stepping down as president after nine years. I don’t want to read into this too much, but it should be pointed out that most of the recent jobs listed on Koch’s online resume are non-union studios (Blue Sky Studios, Super 78 Studios, Snoot Entertainment, Medical CyberWorlds). While the union doesn’t prohibit its members from working at outside shops, it can’t be an inspiring message to rank-and-file members when its last president consistently worked outside during the past few years.

Looking at it from a different perspective, however, Kevin’s career path simply reflects that of a modern animator. The union largely represents studios that create TV and feature animation, and as I wrote in the second half of this article, the fragmentation of the industry means that younger generations of artists can’t be expected to commit themselves to specific formats as in the past. How the union will adapt to reflect these changing realities of its membership remains to be seen.

Thank you to our November Site Sponsors

It’s the time of month where we take a moment to thank the companies that have chosen to advertise on Cartoon Brew. It’s awards season and our two biggest sponsors this month are the Walt Disney Company and Universal Pictures. We appreciate each and every company’s support, and we encourage our readers to spend some time learning about what these companies have to offer.

If your business is looking to reach the Internet’s largest and most knowledgeable group of animation pros, students and fans, please contact our friendly ad rep, Reachout Media.

November 2010 Cartoon Brew Advertisers
Walt Disney Company

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CTN Animation Expo

Chinese producing hand-drawn 3-D “Panda Story”

A Chinese hand drawn animated film Xiong Mao Zong Dong Yuan (“Panda Story”) is scheduled to be released in January 2011, supposedly in 3D, according to the website CRI-English.com. They are reporting that the film is a co-production by the China Film Group and a German company ORB Filmproduktion GmbH, has been six years in the making, with an investment of $52 million (US $).

The article also states:

Following “Xiong Mao Zong Dong Yuan,” the Hollywood film “Kung Fu Panda 2″ will be released in mid-2011. The two panda stories will compete for audiences. Chen said the production period for his film would be longer than that of “Kung Fu Panda,” which required four years for its animation effects and six years for its total production.

“Audiences will see the competition of the two panda stories and see which panda is better,” Chen was quoted as saying. “They will see more Chinese features and Chinese spirit in the character in my film. Even the background will be specially created according to Chinese painting style.” The panda character in “Xiong Mao Zong Dong Yuan” leads his villagers in a fight against their enemies and successfully survives the attackers.

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“Megamind” Holds Top Box Office Spot

Megamind

For the second weekend in a row, DreamWorks Animation’s Megamind finished atop the North American box office with a final take of $29.1 million. Its total gross now stands at $88.8 million. The drop from last weekend was a respectable 36.7%; comparatively, How to Train Your Dragon had a second weekend decline of 33.7% and Shrek Forever After declined 38.9% in its second frame.

On the other end of the animation spectrum, Paul and Sandra Fierlinger’s My Dog Tulip earned $4,250 from three theaters. The film has grossed $113,000 after eleven weekends, pushing it past many recent limited animation releases like Fear(s) of the Dark, $9.99, and Tales from Earthsea. Also, Nine Nation Animation, a collection of indie shorts that we wrote about earlier, earned $3,489 from two theaters, raising its total earnings to $12,973.

The Sunday Funnies (11/14/10)

Each week, just for fun, we post several syndicated comic strips that make reference to animated cartoon characters. We are not claiming these to be the greatest comics of the week, or even particularly well-drawn or funny. It’s simply a reflection of how animation is perceived in a related media, and our record of it. Personally, for historical purposes, I find these fascinating.

You may comment on these below if you wish, but this weekly post will, from now on, be heavily moderated for thoughtful opinions (if these strips warrant any).


This week The Argyle Sweater (11/9) by Scott Hilburn; and Brevity (11/11) by Guy and Rod.

(Thanks to Jim Lahue and Ed Austin)

Disney Tangled

I had a chance to see Tangled a few weeks ago and I’ve been biding my time and collecting my thoughts about it. The arrival (in my mailbox) of Jeff Kurtti’s terrific new Chronicle “Art of” book permits me the opportunity to discuss my feelings about the film in a context that doesn’t allow me to be a total downer.

The Film: Tangled has everything you’d expect in an Disney animated musical – and that’s my big problem with it.

Let me be clear: The artwork, the character animation, the settings, the visuals are all absolutely first rate. The artists did great work and it shows. Kurtti’s book is a testament to their achievements. They’ve achieved the effect of a three dimensional classic Disney animated feature here. However, the story itself is a major letdown. I found it trite, cliche, generic. The poster could just simply read “Generic Disney Animated Musical” and that would sum it up. There is nothing in this film you haven’t seen or felt before. For example, when Rapunzel sings her “I want” song, it’s to go “down there”, out of her tower – the flipside of Ariel’s “up there”, Part of Your World.

One thing struck me as new – the film seemed heavily skewed towards a younger, teenage girl audience (the Hannah Montana crowd?). I don’t recall a single Disney feature (save for Winnie The Pooh or the Disneytoon releases) that wasn’t aimed at a general (children and adult) audience. In fact, most modern animated films (Dreamworks, Pixar, Blue Sky, Sony, even Nickelodeon) are aimed as much towards adults as the kids. Not this.

The songs are unmemorable. Even The Princess and the Frog had memorable, innovative song sequences. Say what you will about P&TF, I couldn’t get some of the musical numbers out of my head after seeing the film the first time. Remember the animated opening sequence in Enchanted, which was a spoof of a generic Disney Princess film? This is that film – feature length. I truly enjoyed the visuals in Tangled, but I kept expecting the story to lift me to another place – as most great Disney and Pixar films do – but that “lift’ never came.

Did I like anything in the film? I liked the horse, Maximus. He had more personality than any of the humans and was extremely well animated. He’s the only thing I took home with me. Will you like the film? If you love all-things-Disney, you probably will. Perhaps I’m out of touch… perhaps others will explain what I’m missing. I hate being the party-pooper. I admire the craft, I can see the achievement of replicating the classic Disney “look” to dimensional CGI – but the story, the songs, the humor all seemed safe, familiar and flat. Will it make money? Yes. Because parents and young ones will enjoy a generic Disney musical, no matter how many times they’ve seen it before. Will I see it again? Yes, both to give it a second chance and to enjoy the bounty of rich visuals.

If anything, Tangled underlines the aesthetic differences between Disney Feature Animation and Pixar. The Pixar “braintrust” has a strong point of view, with a progressive approach to storytelling – and this has made Pixar the modern day leader in mass market/mainstream entertainment. The studio is floundering with its Disney choices and there seems to be no easy answer. What’s best to release under the Disney label? Classic fairy tales? Princesses? Brand franchises? CG or hand-drawn? Each new film brings answers and raises new questions.

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“Dr Tom ou La Liberte en cavale” by Stephen Vuillemin and Emmanuelle Walker

It’s no secret that some of the most consistently polished animation being made by students today comes from the French animation school Gobelins. Less often noted is how they are at the forefront of rejuvenating hand-drawn animation with fresh and exciting styles. The content of their films doesn’t do much for me, but in terms of artistry, their shorts consistently push the envelope and offer more creative ideas than a lot of professional work I see. Their graphic approach is the polar opposite of the trend towards slavish realism in Hollywood feature animation, and while many Gobelins grads go on to work in features, others keep exploring the possibilities of artistic, original, and beautiful cartoon design.

Which leads us to this new music video created for the release of “Dr Tom ou La Liberté en cavale,” a tribute to composer Franck Langolff. It’s directed by Gobelins grads Stehen Vuillemin and Emmanuelle Walker and designed by Aurélien Predal. There’s so many confident filmmaking decisions in the piece from the animation to the color to the production design. They make it all look so effortless.

CREDITS
Direction: Stephen Vuillemin and Emmanuelle Walker
Designs: Aurélien Predal
Animation: Lucie Arnissolle, Olivier Lescot, Manuel Tanon-tchi, Stephen Vuillemin, Emmanuelle Walker
Additional matte paintings: Anne-Laure To
Music and lyrics: Norman Langolff, Gaby Concato and Sylvie Arditi
Production assistant: Martin Casalis
Production: One More Production

(Thanks, Ed Bell)

Gallery on Baum Sells Cartoon Art Forgeries?

Tony Greco drawing

Tony Greco, who run Pittsburgh’s The Gallery on Baum, has had a tough year. First, there was a lengthy exposé in the Pittsburgh Post Gazette that claims most of the cartoon, animation and illustration art he sells is forged. Then, Charles Schulz’s wife made a statement that the Peanuts art Greco sells are forgeries. Then, cartoon art bloggers like Mike Lynch and Joakim Gunnarsson began piling on and writing that the artwork the artwork is fake, with Gunnarsson even saying that, “Luckily the fakes are so poorly done that real collectors will stay away from these fakes.”

The way people are bashing this poor guy, you’d think he was a delusional nutjob sitting at home tracing poor imitations of other people’s work over a light box. Greco says that’s certainly not the case. His story is simple: he inherited all of the artwork from the fine art department of Kaufmann’s Department Stores back in the 1960s. He’s also not going to allow any of the artwork to be authenticated by artist estates, living artists, historians, or museums because he knows that everybody is out to get him. Greco told the Post-Gazette:

“They don’t want to believe someone like me could have all this great stuff. The art world is very cliquey, and I’m an outsider they can’t control. They’re scared of me because I have so much, they don’t know where it ends. And you know what? It never ends. If I let it all out, it would depress the market overnight.”

Plus, Tony says that he’s been doing this kind of stuff since he was a kid:

“Everyone’s an expert, but it’s just their opinion! I’m the one who’s been doing this the longest, since I was a kid. I have the most stuff. I’m the real expert!”

So exactly what kind of cartoon art does Tony sell on his eBay store?
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Disney’s Armchair Archivists

This has probably popped up on all the Disney fan pages, but I thought it worthy of posting here for Brew readers who (like me) avoid those sites. It’s the first episode of Disney’s D23 webcast, Armchair Archivists, hosted by Disney buffs Steve Czarnecki and Josh Turchetta. It’s worth watching for the bittersweet vault footage of Walt, his last appearance before the cameras, in a special clip introducing a screening of Follow Me, Boys!. They also introduce Disney Archives head Becky Cline who shows off a few nifty items, such as Walt’s Laugh-O-Grams directors megaphone and some original 1917 drawings. Enjoy!

“Nanny McPhee Returns” Titles

The Submarine Channel posted a nice, in-depth Making Of interview with Paul Donnellon of Voodoodog, about his stop-motion end credit sequence for Nanny McPhee Returns (aka British title Nanny McPhee and the Big Bang). The interview sheds some light on the sometimes difficult working relationship between a movie director and the title designer – especially if the director is unfamiliar with the stop-motion animation process (which was the case here). But what makes this article special is the exclusive inclusion of 2 animatics, storyboard sketches and images of the paper models. Check it out here.

The Importance of Documenting Your Animation Career

Animation home movies

A few evenings ago, Don Shank (production designer of The Powerpuff Girls and Pixar’s Day and Night) used his Twitter account to write a message–in 140 character bursts–that is definitely worth reposting. Here’s what he wrote:

“I remember almost twenty years ago working on Ren & Stimpy and asking a friend ‘should I bring in my super 8 camera and film all the crazy shit going on.’ Definitely! He says. I didn’t. Regret!!!! Back then it was ‘just Now’ who cares about ‘now’. Modern times. Current day. But now now back then is twenty years ago! How great would it be to see all those people back then? Plus, real behind the scenes (un-sped-up) animators working is almost never filmed and shown. In favor of the movie star talking about how they ‘created’ the character. My advice… Film you and your buddies in your normal everyday life. In Twenty years you will thank you (and me hehe).”

I couldn’t agree more. Somebody, someday, somewhere, is going to be interested in what you’ve done. With the ease of one-click digital film recording nowadays, there’s no excuse to not spend some time filming yourself and those around you at the studio. In fact, a lot of people are doing it, like Claudio de Oliveira who filmed the Disney animators working on Tangled and the crew at New Zealand’s Mukpuddy studio. It may be difficult to immediately appreciate the value of these recordings, but there is priceless information in every piece of film. Its true worth accrues with every passing year and may not reveal itself until many years down the line.

As someone who’s spent a lot of time documenting this art form’s history, I can only think back to all the frustrating interviews when I’ve asked animation veterans whether they’d taken any photos of their co-workers and workplaces. Among them were artists who worked daily with Tex Avery, Bill Hanna, Joe Barbera, Chuck Jones, Bobe Cannon, John Hubley, and Walt Disney. Inevitably, they’d tell me that at the time, they never considered what they were doing to be important enough to warrant documenting. And they never dreamt that fifty or sixty years later, people would be celebrating their work.

To end on a bright note, I’m currently working on a project for which there exists hours of home movie footage that an animator recorded during the Thirties, Forties and Fifties, none of which has been seen for decades. It’s the stroke of good luck that historians dream about and which rarely happens. Who knows what sort of treasures are contained within these dusty 16mm film reels. I can’t wait to find out.

Next week in Burbank: CTN Expo

This is the Burbank Marriott tonight. It will look nothing like this next week – Friday November 19th through Sunday the 21st – when the CTN Expo is in session. The place will be packed wall-to-wall with animation artists, creators, filmmakers, studio recruiters, art students and cartoon fans.

It’s the “Comic-Con” of animation and animators and the place to be. Cartoon Brew is sponsoring the animators’ lounge, I’m moderating a panel (interviewing the principals of Spain’s Headless Studios), there will be special guests and special events including screenings of The Illusionist, CandyMan and Tick Tock Tale, live drawing demonstrations, raffles, appearances all weekend from Jean Giraud “Moebius”, Chris Sanders, Ronnie del Carmen, Louie del Carmen, Enrico Casarosa, Chris Wedge, Joseph Gilland – just to name a few.

The exhibitor room includes booths from Walt Disney Animation, Warner Bros., Stuart Ng, Pascal Campion, Dean Yeagle, Sony Pictures Animation, Cal Arts, Titmouse, Animation Mentor, Nancy Beiman and over 100 others.

Panels include a preview of Warner Bros. new Looney Tunes Show (Friday @ 12:30pm), Chris Sanders and Dean DeBlois interviewed by Charles Solomon (Friday @ 6pm), Jill Culton interviewing Peter de Seve and Carter Goodrich (Saturday @ 2pm), and dozens more seminars, discussions and demonstrations. The complete schedule is now online.

The CTN Expo II will be held next weekend in Burbank. For more information, click here. My advice: Buy your tickets now!

Teletoon Retro’s New Awareness Campaign Invites Consumers to Induct Characters into the Teletoon Retro Hall of Fame

Teletoon Retro

(Toronto, ON, November 11, 2010) — Is Bugs the most beloved or does Tweety take the cake? TELETOON Retro has launched a national awareness campaign in English Canada to increase familiarity and viewership of the classic cartoon channel and its programming among parents, kids and adult fans. The campaign is centered around a newly launched TELETOON Retro Hall of Fame concept that invites consumers to vote for their top five Retro characters of all time.

“We have found that classic cartoons resonate with adults and children alike, making TELETOON Retro widely appealing to a co-view audience,” said Karen Touma, Director, Marketing, TELETOON Canada inc. “By introducing the TELETOON Retro Hall of Fame, we can directly connect with our viewers by letting them share their passion for cartoons and cartoon characters. We are already seeing incredible engagement through our recently launched TELETOON Retro Facebook page which has garnered over 5000 fans in just over a week.”

The TELETOON Retro Hall of Fame campaign searches for the top five TELETOON Retro characters by encouraging fans to vote for their favourite TELETOON Retro characters of all time on www.teletoonretro.com, while also giving them a chance to win a trip for four to see Bugs Bunny at the Symphony in one of several North American cities (valued at $6,000). With voting closing on December 6, the five characters with the highest number of votes will become the inaugural inductees into the TELETOON Retro Hall of Fame. The event will culminate with each of the top five characters being featured in their very own 24-hour programming marathon during Boxing Week on TELETOON Retro.

The integrated campaign is supported through social media, on-air promotion and off-channel support as well as radio, print and online advertising.

A key component of this initiative is a social media campaign that was developed by TELETOON Retro in collaboration with integrated digital and interactive marketing agency Tribal DDB. The elements include micro-media and search buys and the launch of the TELETOON Retro Facebook page. The page features daily content to generate community engagement and also offers fans the opportunity to vote for their top five characters using the “polls/quizzes” tab of the TELETOON Retro Facebook page and the option of sharing their personal top five with their friends on their own Facebook page wall.

On-air television spots are currently running on TELETOON and TELETOON Retro, with a special spot targeting adults 18-34 airing during the post-9 p.m. “TELETOON at Night” programming block. The TELETOON Retro Hall of Fame campaign is also being supported through radio spots on family-targeted radio stations, an online media buy targeting kids 6-11 and adults 18-34 and print support in Today’s Parent, The Magazine and Metro newspapers in major markets across Canada.

TELETOON Retro will also have an off-channel presence, distributing TELETOON Retro sticker sheets at major family-targeted events including Toronto’s Santa Claus Parade, Illuminite and Kidzfest.

TELETOON Retro presents classic cartoons all day, every day. A nostalgic throwback to favourites of the past, TELETOON Retro delivers new laughs with familiar friends to over 7 million Canadian homes. Available in both English and French, TELETOON Canada inc. brings kids, youth and adults the best in animated and animation-related entertainment with four nationwide specialty television channels — TELETOON, TÉLÉTOON, TELETOON Retro and TÉLÉTOON Rétro. Founded in 1997, TELETOON Canada inc. is owned by Astral (50%) and Corus Entertainment (50%). For more information, please visit www.teletoon.com.

Pioneers, Innovators, and Masters of Animation

Animation pioneers

I love this public Facebook photo album created by Salvador Fortuny Miró called Pioneers, Innovators, and Masters of Animation. How many of them have you heard of? One might quibble about some of the choices and omissions, but on the whole, it’s an excellent grouping of artists. The list is also a fine starting point for anyone looking to expand their knowledge of animation beyond the Hollywood standards.

“Sandman” opening titles

This past Monday we posted the trailer for Germany’s new stop mo feature, The Sandman and the Lost Sand of Dreams. Delighted by the positive comments it recieved, co-director Sinem Sakaoglu has sent us the first four minutes of the film and a little bit of info about the title sequence:

“It is an homage to the TV Sandman and the sand dreams are made of! Thus the more limited animation and the variations on the famous title song of the series. We also wanted to celebrate handcraft. One might say we took it too literally, but the hands appearing are really the hands of the animators who animated those shots. Pretty much everything was done in camera for this sequence, including the animation of the sand on glass. We did composite some layers together digitally though. Three very talented animators worked on the title sequence: Fritz Penzlin, Bernhard Schmitt, Dobrin Yanev. The clip also includes the opening shot of the film. Hope you enjoy it!”

The Miniature Calendar Art of John Dunn

John Dunn Calendar

The legacy of animation designer/writer John Dunn (1920-1983) is secure–if unheralded–as the writer of hundreds of animated shorts for Ward Kimball, Chuck Jones, Bob McKimson, Friz Freleng, and others. In the waning days of animation’s Golden Age, he created some of the era’s last theatrical cartoon stars–Ant and the Aardvark, Roland and Rattfink, Tijuana Toads, Blue Racer, and Hoot Kloot, to name a few. When I started researching his life, I borrowed a variety of artwork from his children: storyboards, paintings, comic strips, character designs. But the most unusual possession I received was a Ziploc bag full of Security Pacific Bank calendars that Dunn maintained for the last 18 years of his life. The first ten years’ worth of calendars were not of particular note–just places for him to jot down notes about his career (weekly deadlines at the animation studio, vacation dates, meetings, and the like). With each passing year, though, the notes on his calendar grew increasingly detailed.

After Dunn semi-retired from animation in 1976, he created in the calendars an utterly unique form of self-expression. Every square inch of the 5.75″ x 6″ calendar pages, both front and back, became a miniature canvas for Dunn’s writings and drawings. He began to keep detailed accounts of what he ate, which television shows he watched, which books he read, as well as notes on his daily encounters with family members and animation colleagues. John’s son Bill doesn’t recall which sort of writing instrument his father used to write so small, but he does remember that his father retired to his study every evening to work on the calendars, using a magnifying lens to help him fit as much as he could into the daily one-inch-square space allotted him by his bank.

John Dunn
John Dunn with his family at Disneyland

Dunn’s devotion to the calendars manifested itself in peculiar ways: he recorded monthly rainfall tables, dates of death of actors and animation industry coworkers, and charts logging the number of times he’d eaten at various restaurants. A most unlikely item was noted on the back of one calendar: “From Oct. 3, 1977 to Jan. 22, 1980 the number of times I have walked back and forth on Hayvenhurst between Sherman Way and D.F.E. [DePatie-Freleng Enterprises] has been 845!!!” In the final year of his life, Dunn upgraded to a 7″ x 10″ engagement calendar; Security Pacific’s complimentary annuals could no longer contain his copious notes on daily life.

John Dunn Calendar

Dunn was both an artist and a writer, so it’s little surprise that his calendars are filed with nearly as many drawings as words. He drew mostly on the reverse sides of calendar pages, right over the text-heavy almanac data–the layer of words underneath adding a textural quality to his drawings on top. Dunn had been a fan of newspaper comics since childhood and his drawings reflect an intimate knowledge of Bigfoot cartooning conventions, recalling artists like E.C. Segar (Popeye), Sidney Smith (The Gumps), Billy DeBeck (Barney Google), and particularly Milt Gross (Count Screwloose). Disney animation director Ward Kimball once told me, “You would ask [Dunn] to do a page full of crazy-looking dogs and it was very hard to pick the craziest.” His inventiveness was unhindered even when reduced to postage-stamp proportions.

John Dunn Calendar
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“Jonny Quest” Titles Remade in Stop Motion By a Fan

Jonny Question Stop Motion Titles

Roger Evans, a Western artist who lives in Utopia, Texas (population: 241), also happens to be an obsessive fan of Jonny Quest. He’s given himself the challenge of reanimating the 1960s opening titles of the Hanna-Barbera series using stop motion animation. You can follow its scene by scene completion–currently more than two-thirds finished–on Roger’s website. Every shot is meticulously documented with behind-the-scenes photos and a generous description of how he created the sets, models, animation and effects. There’s a lot of love in this project, as well as a reminder of the lasting impact that a quality animated TV series can have on its viewers.

(Thanks, Brick Malloy)

“Maria’s Journey” by Miguel Gallardo

Maria’s Jourey is an engaging and enlightening animated short by Barcelona-based illustrator Miguel Gallardo describing his daughter’s autism. It’s a perfect example of how eloquent a medium animation can be for describing concepts that are not easily describable. The short was animated at La Pera Animación by Pere Hernández and Javier Vaquero.
(Thanks, Jakob Schuh)

Winnie The Pooh (2011)

The Associated Press has posted the first image (above) from Disney’s forthcoming old school 2D Winnie The Pooh feature, scheduled for release next summer. This is the flick most of The Princess and the Frog crew moved over to. Here are some choice excerpts from Derrik J. Lang’s AP story:

The new “Winnie the Pooh,” the first big-screen “Pooh” adventure from Disney animators in more than 30 years, will more closely resemble the classic short films from the 1960s and ’70s. “We wanted to create a movie for the big screen that had the charm and wit of those original shorts,” said Peter Del Vecho, the film’s producer. “What originally endeared all of us – adults and children – to these characters was that they were stuffed animals that came to life in the imagination of a child. We wanted to rekindle that imagination in a big way.”

“Winnie the Pooh,” loosely based on five stories from A.A. Milne’s books, finds Pooh, Tigger, Rabbit, Piglet, Kanga, Roo, Owl, Eeyore and Christopher Robin searching for a new tail for Eeyore in a watercolour-drenched Hundred Acre Wood. The gang will also hunt for a mysterious creature called a Backson, briefly mentioned in 1928′s “The House at Pooh Corner.”

While this version of “Pooh” won’t be generated by a computer or projected in 3-D, Del Vecho cautioned it wouldn’t simply be a redux of past “Pooh” projects. He said the film, spearheaded by Disney and Pixar animation chief John Lasseter, will feature five new original songs and a faster pace punctuated with humour that’s appropriate for modern audiences.

UPDATE: Just recieved this larger publicity image from the forthcoming film (below). See the trailer here.

“Horse Glue” by Stephen Irwin

Stephen Irwin, the innovative director of The Black Dog’s Progress, has created a new experimental short made up of two films which unfold together within the same space, their narratives becoming intertwined. Horse Glue was commissioned by Animate Projects for Channel 4 and had its world premiere in Ottawa last month.

Glue uses a combination of cut-out and 2D hand-drawn animation with photography. In contrast, Horse is a disjointed and roughly spliced together film, with a soundtrack that has worn away to hiss and crackle. Animate Projects has just posted the entire film online (trailer above), accompanied by an interview with Stephen and an essay about the film by curator Angela Kingston.