“The Return of Count Spirochete” (1973)

Just in time to cash in on the Twilight craze – (Not!) – someone posted on You Tube this anti-venereal disease educational film, produced for the Navy Medical Center in 1973, which casts Syphilis as a vampire. Oh, and in case you want to own a physical copy of this masterpiece, The US Department of Commerce’s National Technical Information Service will sell it to you on video — on VHS — for just $55!

(via Armed With Science)

“The New Yorker” Not So Good on Animation History

I think Walt Disney’s family might be surprised to read the following sentence that somehow made it into the New Yorker‘s Eli Broad profile published on December 6:

In 1987, Lillian Disney, Roy Disney’s widow, donated fifty million dollars for the construction of a symphony hall to replace the acoustically flawed Dorothy Chandler Pavilion, and by 1995 Frank Gehry had been selected as the architect and had completed the design.

The LA Times also critiqued this particular sentence, but instead of catching the obvious error, they debated whether Chandler Pavilion is acoustically flawed. Welcome to the lonely world of the animation historian, and our constant struggle against the mainstream media’s indifference to the art form and its most important figures.

Nickelodeon Announces Animation Studio Promotions

Burbank, CA—Dec. 13, 2010—Nickelodeon today announced a round of promotions at the network’s Animation Studio in Burbank, CA. Dina Buteyn has been named Vice President of Animation Production; Dean Hoff is now Vice President of CG Production and Jason Stiff has been promoted to Vice President of Post Production. The announcement was made today by Mark Taylor, Senior Vice President and General Manager, Nickelodeon Animation Studio.

“Dina, Dean and Jason represent the heart and soul of the studio,” said Taylor. “They have outstanding track records for producing successful shows and have shown strong leadership that has helped build Nickelodeon Animation Studio into the top-notch producer of the most popular 2D and CG animated for TV series with kids around the world.”

Dina Buteyn is now Vice President of Animation Production. In this role, she will be responsible for oversight of all production and development production for Nickelodeon’s 2D animated shows, including SpongeBob SquarePants and T.U.F.F. Puppy.

A 13-year veteran of Nick’s Animation Studio, Buteyn has held several positions, serving as producer for several Nicktoons productions, including Making Fiends, The Penguins of Madagascar and SpongeBob SquarePants. She has also served as production manager for several pilots, including The X’s and Catscratch.

Dean Hoff is now Vice President of CG Production. Hoff will oversee all the CG shows and the CG core animation team. A force in pioneering CG production at the Nickelodeon Animation Studio, over the last five years he has helped produce several of Nickelodeon’s hit CG series, including The Penguins of Madagascar, Fanboy and Chum Chum, Planet Sheen and the upcoming new series Kung Fu Panda: Legends of Awesomeness.

Hoff previously was the Director of CG Production and Producer, overseeing all CG production for the Nickelodeon Animation Studio. Hoff worked on traditionally animated series Chalkzone and the Holly Hobbie direct to video series before helping to build the CG Department at Nickelodeon. He began his career as a cinematographer and camera assistant in live action film, transitioning to traditional animation in 2001.

Jason Stiff is now Vice President of Post Production and will be responsible for the management and oversight of the entire post production process. He will work in conjunction with external vendors, the editorial, sound, production and CG teams to ensure successful delivery of all current animation series, including SpongeBob SquarePants, Fanboy and Chum Chum, Dora the Explorer and the upcoming series Kung Fu Panda: Legends of Awesomeness, among others.

Previously, Stiff served as Senior Director, overseeing post production for Nickelodeon and Nick Jr. animated series, including SpongeBob SquarePants, Fairly Odd Parents, ,and Ni Hao Kai-lan. In 2001, he was the Post Production Supervisor for Invader Zim and then took on the role of Director and eventually the Senior Director, overseeing all of Post Production in September of 2002. In addition to his work on Nickelodeon, Nick Jr. and Nicktoons, Stiff has also worked on animation projects for Nick at Nite, TV Land and Spike.

Prior to joining Nickelodeon, Stiff worked on FOX’s King of the Hill as a Post Production assistant, coordinator and then supervisor from 1997 — 2001. Stiff began his career in animation in 1996 as a freelance animatic scanner on various projects at Sony.

“The Facts In The Case of Mr. Valdemar” by Bahij Jaroudi

The tenth and concluding entry in our 2010 Cartoon Brew TV Student Animation Festival: The Facts In The Case of Mr. Valdemar was made by Bahij Jaroudi for the MA program at Kingston University. The story is based on an 1845 Edgar Allen Poe story “The Facts in the Case of M. Valdemar”. Traditional animated interpretations of Poe have been rooted in an illustrative tradition, a la the UPA classic The Tell-Tale Heart (1953). Jaroudi’s approach runs counter to convention, and he creates a bright and exaggerated interpretation of Poe’s story with nods to the cartooniest of animators and cartoonists like Rod Scribner and Basil Wolverton. Poe’s gory details, which at point includes a description of Valdemar’s eyes leaking a “profuse outflowing of a yellowish ichor,” are played for comic effect in Jaroudi’s short.

Visit Cartoon Brew TV to comment about the film, read more about the short, and interact with the filmmaker.

CBTV Student Fest 10: “The Facts in the Case of Mr. Valdemar”

The Facts In The Case of Mr. Valdemar was made by Bahij Jaroudi for the MA program at Kingston University. The story is based on an 1845 Edgar Allen Poe story “The Facts in the Case of M. Valdemar”. Traditional animated interpretations of Poe have been rooted in an illustrative tradition, a la the UPA classic The Tell-Tale Heart (1953). Jaroudi’s approach runs counter to convention, and he creates a bright and exaggerated interpretation of Poe’s story with nods to the cartooniest of animators and cartoonists like Rod Scribner and Basil Wolverton. Poe’s gory details, which at point includes a description of Valdemar’s eyes leaking a “profuse outflowing of a yellowish ichor,” are played for comic effect in Jaroudi’s short.

Bahij shared some details with us about the filmmaking process and will answer additional questions in the comments:

I think it’s important to note that I’ve always been afraid of watching horror movies, and still am, and I always close my eyes during the scary, gory parts but what I’ve discovered after making this film is that I really enjoy seeing people reacting to it. My parents said to me: we don’t understand why you would do such a film…you’re such a nice boy.

I did this film during my MA in animation at Kingston University. We were required to do a two-minute film. I was really interested in doing my own interpretation of an Edgar Allan Poe short story, and I kept coming back to “The Facts in the Case of M. Valdemar” ( amazing title, don’t you think?)

So, for me, the difficulty was the time restriction, and trying to condense the story, while keeping the beauty of Edgar Allan Poe’s prose and adding my own touch to it; hence the idea of adding an evil black cat.

The background music is an excerpt of Astor Piazzolla’s “Soledad” and the narration is by Mr. William Tombs. (The “KAAA KAAAA” sound in the beginning was beautifully executed by myself.)

An interesting fact about “The Facts in the case of M. Valdemar”: when Edgar Allan Poe wrote it, people thought it was a true story due to the writing style of it, which resembled a scientific report!

Filmmaker Website: Bahijj.blogspot.com

“Waltz with Bashir” Animation Director Yoni Goodman Blogs

Yoni Goodman, the Israeli animation director of Waltz with Bashir, has started a new blog called Dailymation where he posts a daily piece of animation. The one above shows his three kids doing cartwheels. Yoni explains:

“Most of my career as an animator revolved around fast, efficient animations, mainly Flash cutouts. Some time ago I got sick of the technicality of cutouts & decided to return to the basics of frame by frame animation. To get my hand back in shape I started doing Dailymations- short, sketchy, rough & FUN animations, more about mass and movement and less about fine, clean animation. each one about an hour’s work (more or less). These are done with Toonboom Harmony.”

“Yogi Bear” Getting Bashed by Critics

What did you expect? The Hollywood trades are out with their luke-warm reviews of the live action-CG Yogi Bear feature, which opens this Friday, Dec. 17th.

Justin Chang in Variety (review blocked by a pay-wall) says:

“Neither smarter nor dumber than the average family-friendly comedy, “Yogi Bear” is a bland and innocuous small-fry outing that retains a measure of the original Hanna-Barbera cartoon’s charm, though scarcely enough to justify the time, expense and visual-effects trickery it must have taken to inflate an endearing 2D cartoon into a dopey 3D extravaganza….

“…Aykroyd and Timberlake do fine approximations of their characters’ distinctive cartoon voices and speech patterns; teens and adults in particular can keep themselves amused by imagining Timberlake, in one of his more self-effacing career moves, having to record lines like “I have a problem with baked beans” in Boo Boo’s trademark nasal delivery. By comparison, the not-quite-photorealistic, borderline-alien look of these CGI bears is off-putting, the technological advancements of lifelike fur and detailed eye movements being no match for the clean, expressive lines of hand-drawn animation.”

Continue reading

Mighty B/Noveltoon Mash-up

Not sure how many will get the same kick out this as I did – but my inner geek is grinning ear to ear. Here’s a fan-made opening title for a Mighty B episode, done in the style of Paramount’s old Noveltoon theatrical cartoons. Aspiring cartoonist/animator John Paul Cassidy, who is apparently huge fan of both Nick’s Mighty B and old Paramount cartoons, got it right. It’s also worth noting that both Nickelodeon and Paramount are owned by corporate parent Viacom, so this isn’t as far-out as it seems.

Weekend Box Office Report: “Tangled” Stays Strong

Mime Thug

Disney’s Tangled finished in third place this weekend, pulling in a FINAL $14.3 million. Its three week total is $115.4 million, pushing the domestic gross ahead of Disney’s last three features: The Princess and the Frog ($104.4M), Bolt ($114.1M), and Meet the Robinsons ($97.8M). In Russian, Tangled has become Disney’s highest-grossing animated feature ever after only two weeks. (Remember, Russians love American CG nowadays.) In Italy, the film moved from a third-place opening to first place in its second weekend.

DreamWorks’ Megamind finished in 10th with a FINAL $2.5M. Total stands at $140.2 million. Paul and Sandra Fierlinger’s My Dog Tulip snatched $3,148 from 3 theaters, lifting its cume to $139,923.

Blu’s Commissioned Mural Censored by LA’s MOCA

Mural by Blu

Italian street artist Blu, who also happens to be one of my favorite contemporary animators, was commissioned by LA’s Museum of Contemporary Art (MOCA) to paint a mural on one of the museum’s walls. The mural, which depicted wooden caskets draped with dollar bills, proved to be too contemporary for the museum and they whitewashed it (literally!) less than 24 hours after it was completed.

Los Angeles Downtown News offered details about the situation:

[Blu] was on the scene as a crew began to paint over the work, and he was not pleased, said Daniel Lahoda, a street art advocate who curates the L.A. Freewalls Project and was in Little Tokyo to document the whitewashing. “He was here this morning, taking pictures,” Lahoda said. “He was [angry].”

MOCA has provided just about the lamest response imaginable: “Directly in front the north wall is the Go For Broke monument, which commemorates the heroic roles of Japanese American soldiers, who served in Europe and the Pacific during World War II, and opposite the wall is the LA Veterans’ Affairs Hospital. The museum’s director explained to Blu that in this context, where MOCA is a guest among this historic Japanese American community, the work was inappropriate.”

Unurth, a street art blog, tore into that rationale, writing that, “This is a terrible explanation. The concept that street art and graffiti must be ‘appropriate’, to the point of not making political statements, is absurd and contrary to the history of the medium.”

The most embarrassing aspect of this is that MOCA is opening a show next Spring about street art. Too bad it’s now going to be viewed as a joke by many of the artists it was supposed to be celebrating and promoting.

Here’s a video of Blu’s painting being whitewashed:

Cartoon Brew’s 2010 Holiday Gift Guide

Looking for holiday gifts for that special animation someone…or maybe just for yourself. Look no further than Cartoon Brew’s 2010 Holiday Gift Guide compiled by Jerry and Amid.

LEONARDO – THE COMPLETE CODEX

Animator Jim Capobianco (Pixar) first created a beautiful hand drawn short, Leonardo, then packaged it for sale so attractively, it’s a model for what we’d like to see all animators do. Included in the beautiful DVD boxed set is the complete preliminary storyreel, deleted scenes, audio commentary – as well as a flipbook, a notebook and a pencil. And much much more. A perfect gift to all animators and those aspiring to be.


23 More Animated Gift Ideas after the jump!
Continue reading

Dreamworks announces “Me and My Shadow”

Variety is reporting that DreamWorks Animation has announced a March 2013 release date for Me and My Shadow, a new 3-D animated feature which will combine CG with traditional animation, a first for the company.

According to the Variety article:

“Shadow” tells the story of Shadow Stan, an incredibly frustrated shadow that yearns for a more dynamic life but happens to be stuck with Stanley Grubb, the world’s most boring human. Eventually pushed to the brink, Shadow Stan breaks the singular rule of the Shadow World — “they lead, we follow” — and takes control of Stanley.

Steve Bencich and Ron Friedman’s original screenplay is being revised by the writing team of Tom Astle and Matt Ember (Get Smart). “Shadow” will combine “the time-honored tradition of hand-drawn animation with the magical sophistication of CG characters and worlds in ways that have never been experienced by audiences before,” Damaschke said.

In the toon, the Shadow and everything in the Shadow World will be hand-drawn, while the human character and human world will be CG. The movie will alternate between the two worlds.

Mark Dindal (Chicken Little, The Emperor’s New Groove) is directing. Other members of the team include head of story Shane Prigmore and production designers Scott Wills and Raymond Zibach. Since there is no production art available, the photo above is from Spy Shadow, a 1967 DePatie Freleng TV cartoon shown on NBC Saturday Mornings. I predict the new DW feature will be a lot funnier than this.

TONIGHT IN LA: Honoring Black Animators

Sorry for the last minute notice, but I just found out myself: This evening (December 10th) at the National Center For Democracy (369 East First Street, in downtown Los Angeles) is the opening night ceremony of the Black Hollywood Education and Resource Center’s annual African-American Film Marketplace. Tonight’s program, A Great Day in Black Hollywood Part 4: Honoring Veteran Black Animators.

Honorees include an amazing group of animation artists, both young and old: Lyndon Barrois, Jamaal Bradley, Frank C. Braxton, Jr. (1929—1969, pictured above right with Ben Washam), Lennie Graves, Dan Haskett, Keith Hunter (1966—2007), Ron Husband, Floyd Norman, Ron Myrick, Bruce Smith, Leo Sullivan (pictured above left), Corey Turner, and Marlon West. Click HERE (PDF link) for a nice write-up on each honoree. The program will begin promptly at 8:00pm followed by a reception. Tickets are $25 per person.

(Thanks, Joe Romero)

JibJab Christmas 2010

That’s me and Amid, John Lasseter and our late friends Walt Disney and Chuck Jones in the latest “Starring You” Sendable Christmas video from our friends at JibJab. This year they secured the rights to the Bing Crosby and the Andrews Sisters recording of Santa Claus is Coming to Town and created an original stop-motion, Rankin Bass-esque production animated by Max Winston (Flapjack) For more information on how you can send one of these to your friends, visit JibJab.com.

(Thanks Evan and Greg Spiridellis)

EXCLUSIVE: Preview of Bill Plympton’s “Guard Dog Global Jam”

Indie animation legend Bill Plympton‘s outlandish experiment to remake his Oscar nominated short Guard Dog as a global jam session is nearing completion. Dozens of animators contributed a few seconds each to recreate his original short shot-by-shot in their personal styles.

Bill shared this exclusive clip with us to show its progress. The mix of styles, techniques and skill levels is delightful, and the animator who animated the dog barking at the squirrel is the wildest piece of animation you’ll see today. The film will be completed in January and will hit the festival circuit in Spring ’11.

TONIGHT: “The Gruffalo” Premieres in the US

Gruffalo

The Gruffalo, a holiday special based on a children’s book by Julia Donaldson and Axel Scheffler, makes its US debut TONIGHT on ABC Family at 7pm/6c. The half-hour CG/stop motion mix was directed by Jakob Schuh and Max Lang at Germany’s Studio Soi and produced by London-based Magic Light Pictures. The film also debuts in Canada next Wednesday, December 15, at 6:30pm on TVO.

The filmmakers are posting pieces of Gruffalo pre-production art on their blog every day during the month of December. I’ve yet to see the special, but have been hearing plenty of raves about it throughout the past year, and have watched it pick up award after award including Best TV Special at Annecy, Best European Program of the Year at Cartoons on the Bay, Best Short Film for Children at Anima Mundi, and Best Television Animation Made for Children at Ottawa. The film was also nominated for a BAFTA and is currently on this year’s Oscar shortlist for best animated short.

If you’ve seen it already, share your thoughts in the comments.

Trailer and hi-res still gallery follows the jump.
Continue reading

Disney’s “Prep & Landing – Operation Secret Santa”

Disney Animation followed up its CG Prep & Landing TV special from last year with this new 7-minute short, which premiered on Tuesday night during the telecast of A Charlie Brown Christmas on ABC. In case you missed it (I did), they’ve graciously posted it onto YouTube. I loved the first one, and this is a worthy little follow up. Kevin Deters and Stevie Wermers-Skelton wrote and directed. And yeah, that’s Betty White as Mrs. Claus.

(Thanks, Bruce Wright)

Comment of the Day: Annie Uproar

Our post announcing the nominees for the 2010 Annie Awards generated a lot of controversy with people alternately pointing fingers at ASIFA and Disney for the latter company’s decision to withdraw its employees from this year’s individual achievement categories. Mark Walton, a former Annie nominee himself, took a tempered position in support of ASIFA (mostly) and made some good observations.
Continue reading