Hollywood has been taking classic animated cartoons and converting them to live action features for years. Now, The New York Times is reporting that Conrad Vernon (Monsters Vs. Aliens) will direct an animated version of Sid and Marty Kroft’s 1973 live-action Saturday morning show Lidsville, for Dreamworks.
I love the Kroft shows and Lidsville was one of the stranger ones (if that can be imagined). According to the Times piece, Vernon says:
“When I talk to a lot of adults about this, they look back and go ‘Oh, that show was great but it was so weird.’ And that’s what made me want to watch every single day.”
As anyone who still knows the “Lidsville” theme song by heart can tell you, the original series centered on a boy named Mark (played by Butch Patrick of “The Munsters”) who discovers a world of anthropomorphized hats, headpieces and chapeaus. There he befriends characters like Rah-Rah the football helmet and Nursie the nurse’s cap, and is pursued by a green-skinned magician named Horatio J. HooDoo (played with scenery-chewing zest by Charles Nelson Reilly).
I went to a Cracker Barrel for the first time last weekend where I discovered this exclusive CD they carry (buy it here). The stock photo of Walt holding a pointer that kind of looks like a conductor’s baton is a nice touch. If Cracker Barrel can fool customers into believing what they serve qualifies as food, then there’s no reason they shouldn’t be able to convince their clientele that Disney was some kind of a music legend.
Adam Fisher, an animator at Laika, created Timber in his spare time. It’s worth a chuckle, and finishes off with a nice message.
Dig the loopy, fun animation in this 1983 commercial for Milk. As far I know this never aired in the states — and it may have the distinction of being the last Popeye animation ever voiced by Jack Mercer and Mae Questel:
While we’re at it, check this recent commercial for “Popeye-flavored Milk” (“Popeye-flavored”?) from Syria. Popeye goes all “Matrix” on Bluto in this one:
(Thanks, Fred G.)
Tom Kenny, the voice of you-know-who SquarePants, is set to host this year’s 38th Annual Annie Awards, next Saturday, February 5, 2011, at UCLA’s Royce Hall. The evening begins with a pre-reception at 5pm followed by the Annie Awards ceremony at 7pm and post-award party immediately following the ceremony. All events will be held at Royce Hall.
This year’s Winsor McCay Lifetime Achievement Award recipients are Brad Bird, Eric Goldberg and Matt Groening. Among the presenters this year are animation legend June Foray, actors James Hong, Kevin Michael Richardson, Corey Burton, Jim Cummings and John DiMaggio. The complete list of nominees and award winners is posted at Annie Awards.com. A limited number of VIP Tickets (which admits guests to the champagne reception before the ceremony, the Annie Awards ceremony and post-award party) are still available for sale. To purchase VIP tickets check the Annie website.
General Admission tickets are available for $25 (this admits you only to the Annie Awards ceremony). General Admission tickets may only be purchased through the UCLA Central Ticket Office (CTO) at 310.825.2101 or UCLA Live or Ticketmaster.com.
(Photo above by Carol Wyatt, from the Voice Actors in the News blog)
My next animation program for the Cinefamily is based on Film Noir – so naturally we call it Cartoon Noir. Private eyes, plainclothes cops, hapless grifters and starving putty tats all figure into the on-screen murder and mayhem. As usual, rare 35mm and 16mm film prints (and some video) of some of the funniest, violent and sexiest cartoons ever made. Join us Tuesday February 1st, 8pm at the Silent Movie Theatre on Fairfax in Hollywood. Order tickets now!
When George Pal stopped producing his stop motion Puppetoon short subjects in 1947, he kept his pioneering replacement animation technique alive in various feature films he made throughout the years (Variety Girl, tom thumb, Wonderful World of Brothers Grimm). He even made one last Puppetoon (The Tool Box Ballet) for Chuck Jones’ Saturday morning series Curiosity Shop (1971).
Stop-motion master Mark Caballero sent me this You Tube embed (below) and wondered if I’d seen it before. No, I haven’t… and it begs the question: Did Pal keep his Puppetoon studio going during the 1950s to do TV commercials? I hadn’t read that anywhere before or seen any others. But then again, how often is the studio and producer given a credit like this on a commercial?
At the time, Pal himself was immersed in producing sci-fi features like Conquest of Space or The Time Machine. It’s interesting that he kept the Puppetoon name (and logo) alive during this period, when the late series was finding renewed interest due to TV syndication.
There are plenty of reasons to dislike 3-D movies, like how they induce headaches and strain the eyes, make the imagery darker, and simply don’t contribute anything to the story. But legendary editor and sound designer Walter Murch sent a note to Roger Ebert explaining what he feels is the overwhelming reason 3-D movies are flawed: human eyes weren’t designed to focus and converge on images at two different distances. Murch says:
The biggest problem with 3D, though, is the “convergence/focus” issue. A couple of the other issues — darkness and “smallness” — are at least theoretically solvable. But the deeper problem is that the audience must focus their eyes at the plane of the screen — say it is 80 feet away. This is constant no matter what.
But their eyes must converge at perhaps 10 feet away, then 60 feet, then 120 feet, and so on, depending on what the illusion is. So 3D films require us to focus at one distance and converge at another. And 600 million years of evolution has never presented this problem before. All living things with eyes have always focussed and converged at the same point.
If we look at the salt shaker on the table, close to us, we focus at six feet and our eyeballs converge (tilt in) at six feet. Imagine the base of a triangle between your eyes and the apex of the triangle resting on the thing you are looking at. But then look out the window and you focus at sixty feet and converge also at sixty feet. That imaginary triangle has now “opened up” so that your lines of sight are almost — almost — parallel to each other.
Read more of Murch’s thoughts on Ebert’s blog.
(Thanks to the numerous readers who sent me this link.)
Our friend J.J. Sedelmaier sent us these scans (click thumbnails at left and below to enlarge) from a 1945 book, Movie Lot To Beachhead, by Editors of Look Magazine (which has a spread on Private Snafu in Booby Traps on pages 56 and 57). J.J. sent the pages promoting the work Disney was doing for the Office of the Coordinator of Inter-American Affairs, in particular the film, The Unseen Enemy (1945 – aka What Is Disease?). This film was part of a series of simple, but very effective, educational films produced during the war as part of the studios Good Neighbor Program – which you can read about more in-depth in J.B. Kaufman’s highly recommended, South of the Border With Disney. The pages are intertesting, but it gives me an excuse to post the rarely seen film itself (above), which boasts simplistic graphics, contemporary with UPA techniques, conveying an important lesson on disease prevention with limited animation.
See the rest of the scans after the jump:
Alon Chitayat directed this cover of Blondie’s “Heart of Glass” performed by Berlin band Skin Diary. The video skillfully combines pixilation and background compositing to appealing effect. More details about the video can be found on the director’s website.
Directed by Alon Chitayat / Animishmish
Assistant director: Dori Adar
Photography: Tillmann Engel
Lights: Dan Jung, Roman Hoffmann
Makeup artist: Marit “Schminkpistole” Kenning
on-site Catering: Micky Hickbert
Actor: Robert Speidel
Giant scene designs – Alona Wiess
I knew it seemed a little familiar…
(Thank you, Ivan Guerrero)
Apparently, Epic Mickey wasn’t nearly as epic as it needed to be to save Disney’s gaming division. On Monday, Disney Interactive Media Group, which lost $234 million in the most recent fiscal year, laid off nearly 200 employees out of its 700-person staff. More layoffs are anticipated soon.
Among the casualties is Vancouver’s Propaganda Games, which made the underperforming game Tron: Evolution. There were also layoffs at Austin-based Junction Point Studios, which made Epic Mickey, another underperforming title according to PC World. A Wall Street Journal article summarized that, “Disney appears to be focusing its future efforts in the games business on newer categories like social games, sales of which have been growing more quickly than traditional games and with a greater potential for profit because of the efficiencies of online distribution.”
A Chinese animation company recently made the Webcartoon posted above to celebrate Chinese new year. Now, as The Guardian reports, the Chinese government is scrambling to censor the film and make sure nobody within China sees it. This is a wonderful demonstration of the effect that animation can have exposing the paranoia and corruption of governments who fear even drawings of cute bunny rabbits.
A translation and additional info about the cartoon can be found on the ChinaGeeks.org:
Regardless of what the disclaimer says, it is probably obvious even to those who don’t speak Chinese that this video makes repeated and explicit reference to real life events. The milk powder death, the fire, the illegal demolitions, the beating of protesters, the self-immolation, the “Tiger Gang” car accident, etc. are all references to real-life events that any Chinese viewer would be immediately and intimately familiar with…Of course, sarcastic animations and other web jokes about these incidents are common. What is not common is the end of the video, which depicts a rabbit rebellion where masses of rabbits storm the castle of the tigers and eat them alive…The clip ends with what seems almost like a call to arms for the new year, with Kuang Kuang saying it will be a meaningful (æœ‰æ„“¹‰, could also be translated as “important”) year and then the end title reading: “The year of the rabbit has come. Even rabbits bite when they’re pushed.”
(Thanks, Jonathan Sloman)