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.
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.
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 →
Alex Salsberg, a 2008 grad of Rochester Institute of Technology and current co-owner of Boston’s PokeGravy Studios, created this hilarious short that envisions what would happen if holidays had to be approved in a corporate boardroom like everything else nowadays. The art and animation is crude but funny as hell, and the voices made me laugh out loud.
Don’t worry, the marketing team is just messing with us. The actual film won’t be composed entirely of warmed over CG cliches that make audiences want to stay miles away from the nearest theater playing Rio. (Crosses fingers.)
Here’s a new film from Team Cerf, a group of animation students who recently graduated from the French animation school Supinfocom:
Buck is an ordinary guy. Well…except the “deer head” thing. And today, Buck is gonna spend this cool Sunday afternoon with his girlfriend who’s so happy to see him (she’s pretty much always happy). But when Buck find out that her father is not the sympathetic and tolerant guy he expected, the Sunday afternoon turns really bad.
Although not made by the same group of artists, the film is connected to an earlier short we plugged on Cartoon Brew called Salesman Pete.
Directed by Denis Bouyer, Yann De Preval, Vincent E Sousa and Laurent Monneron
Your history lesson for today: Europa Film Archives is a gold mine – posting dozens of rare cinematic treasures from various European archives, including many obscure animated shorts. Lobster Films donated this one: a 1918 syphilis prevention film, On doit le dire (You Have To Say It). It’s quite effective in communicating its message – and its cut-out technique holds up rather well. It was animated by Marius Rossillon (aka O’Galop), creator of the “Michelin Man“!
Creepy and atmospheric animation is hard to pull off, but Keith Rondinelli does it with style in his dark and hallucinatory short The Forbidden Forest. To fully appreciate its visual design, watch the HD version on Vimeo and put on your headphones because the sound design adds a lot to the mood. Intentional or not, the film has a Run Wrake influence, but that may be an inevitable comparison for any filmmaker who manipulates antique imagery in After Effects. Keith’s film goes beyond mere imitation by creating a rich and immersive three-dimensional world for its flat cut-out heroine to navigate.
Rondinelli directed, animated, scored and edited this film by himself over a period of six months inbetween client work at Woodhouse, an Ann Arbor, Michigan-based creative services studio where he is co-founder and chief creative director. I asked him to share some details about the production of The Forbidden Forest:
The Forbidden Forest is inspired by the work of Arthur Machen, who was a Welsh writer of supernatural fiction from the late 19th and early 20th century, specifically his classic tale “The White People”. I’m also a big fan of 1960s and 1970s animation and cinema, so the impetus for the piece was an attempt to marry the feel of Arthur Machen with movies such as René Laloux’s Fantastic Planet, Robin Hardy’s The Wicker Man, and the films of Stanley Kubrick, namely 2001: A Space Odyssey and The Shining.
Outsider art is another longtime love of mine, and I wanted the piece to somehow fuse a 60s/70s widescreen cinematic language with the strange, obsessive imperfectness of outsider artists such as Henry Darger and Adolf Wolfli. The collage-like aesthetic was achieved by a lengthy process of scanning antique imagery from old books and obtaining it from online and other sources, colorizing and color-correcting, and then assembling and animating the elements in Adobe After Effects. The piece was edited in Adobe Premiere, and scored by myself using Apple’s Logic Pro.
It’s not quite the end of 2010, but ASIFA-East president David Levy has already compiled a post about 2010 New York animation highlights. It’s a fine checklist of many major events that happened in New York during 2010. The list is done from a personal point of view so there are omissions obviously, notably from New York’s VFX and CG community, which comprises a large portion of the city’s animated output.
This incredibly surreal Cantonese animated film was uploaded yesterday by Hong Kong-based studio Simage Animation & Media. Temple Rider is fairly easy to understand without subtitles – and absolutely beautiful to look at. According to the studio, “the girl in our story (Yan) is a reflection of the new generation in Hong Kong. She is very protective by her family and does not even have the guts to ride on a two-wheel bicycle. One day, she finds a magic temple and her new challenge begins.”
This cute music video, Keenan at Sea, was directed by David Cowles and Jeremy Galante for the band The Girls. The girls are a harp and ukulele duo, consisting of David’s daughter, Alison Cowles, and her buddy Mikaela Davis. They’ve been together for a little over a year now and are building a strong following in the Rochester, NY area. The video was put together in After Effects by Jeremy Galante, with some help on the design by Janis Dougherty. David Cowles designed the characters and did all the story boarding.
Jymn Magon has begun a series of live web events aimed at Disney fans, animation aficionados, and aspiring writers & artists. His first event is pulling together a Disney Gummi Bears reunion, as a two-hour webinar featuring photos, artwork and interviews with the creative team that brought this show to life. Basically, people register, then they log in a few minutes before the event, and once it begins they watch the live broadcast with the ability to ask questions in real time.
â€¢ Voice of Grammi Gummi – JUNE FORAY
â€¢ Voice of Sunni Gummi – KATIE LEIGH
â€¢ Series Director/Producer – ART VITELLO
â€¢ Layout whiz – ED WEXLER
â€¢ Original Background Designer – GARY EGGLESTON
â€¢ Title song composers – MICHAEL & PATTY SILVERSHER
â€¢ Series writer – MARK ZASLOVE
â€¢ Co-creator & story editor – JYMN MAGON
This web event will be presented next Saturday, December 11th, at 5pm Pacific (8pm Eastern). The price is $20 and is limited to 50 participants. Visit Magon’s website for more details and registration.
The Sundance Institute announced its short film line-up this morning for the 2011 Sundance Film Festival. The festival, which runs from January 20-30 will include 4 animated shorts from the United States and 9 animated shorts from abroad.
U.S. ANIMATED SHORTS
Bike Race (Director: Tom Schroeder; Screenwriters: Tom Schroeder and Hilde De Roover) Two friends decide to stage a bicycle race to determine who is the best racer of all time, Eddy Merckx or Lance Armstrong. A love triangle develops during the race and the stakes of winning grow in importance. Link to Filmmaker Website
Marcel the Shell With Shoes On (Director: Dean Fleischer-Camp; Screenwriters: Jenny Slate and Dean Fleischer-Camp) A short conversation with Marcel, a shell with shoes on. Link to Filmmaker Website