“Clouds” is the third episode of the Giants series by Celine & Yann, a London-based directing duo comprised of Celine Desrumaux and Yann Benedi. (View earlier episodes HERE and HERE.) It’s cartoon abstraction made accessible to the masses: the little people are abstract triangles, but the cloud (who wears rainboots as a delightfully ironic touch) and settings are representational. In our current age of visual excess, it’s refreshing to see any use of symbolic graphics to tell a story. The blippy and boopy sound design by David Kamp also adds to the final product. When I see the Giants cartoons, I am reminded of the spirit (if not the full on experimentation) of earlier Modern cartoons like Vlado Kristl’s Don Kihot (see below), and Celine and Yann’s playful graphic approach is something worth appreciating.
Disneyland is testing a new talking animatronic mask to replace the previously mute Mickey Mouse. It’s partially charming, partially scary:
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Don’t even think of visiting San Francisco without a stop at the Walt Disney Family Museum. And if you are in the Bay area on April 16th you are in for a treat as John Canemaker makes one of his visits to the museum to discuss one of the Disney studio’s greatest artists, Mary Blair. The talk begins at 3pm, with slides, clips and Canemaker’s insights and knowledge. Go! More more information and advance tickets, visit the museum website now.
One of the most exciting evolutions within the animation art form in recent years has been its development beyond the traditional screen. Environmental animation and site-specific installations have the potential to occur throughout our natural surroundings and be woven directly into our day-to-day lives. In other words, animation no longer need be restricted to a passive viewing experience or limited to a rectangular screen.
The most restrictive factors at this moment in time are the significant financial outlay and tech-savvy required to set up these kind of spaces, especially permanent ones. Additionally, each space must be designed individually to respond to a specific location. One such new space is the lobby inside of the Cosmopolitan Hotel in Las Vegas. The Rockwell Group installed over 400 displays in the lobby, and the effect looks impressive. Since each set of 3 monitors is an “addressable 1920 x 1080 output” and there are 64 addressable faces, there is a lot of flexibility for artists to create distinctive works, and I hope the hotel commissions animators and filmmakers to experiment with its great setup.
More details from the Rockwell Group:
A kinetic space, centered around 8 giant central columns wrapped with mirrors and LCD screens. Rockwell Group’s LAB installed 384 displays on the columns and 26 behind the registration desk to create a platform for a variety of customized immersive digital experiences in the space.
Watch it in action:
A trailer for Second Hand, an attractive looking short by Isaac King. The idea: The term “second hand” refers to the ticking hand on a clock; it also describes re-used items. Would you rather save time? Or save stuff? This film examines the imbalance and waste created by these modern obsessions.
Less people in the United States attended the movies last month than
any February since 1995. The only bright spot in Hollywood right now is animated films, which continue to perform well. Rango, the first animated feature from ILM, opened at number 1 this weekend with a FINAL $38.1 million. Gnomeo and Juliet dropped to fifth place in its fourth weekend, earning $7.2 million for a healthy total of $84 million.
Some highlights of Rango‘s opening from Box Office Guru:
The audience was fairly broad with females making up 54% and those over 25 also at 54%. [Paramount] reported that admissions were higher than those for the debut of its last March toon How To Train Your Dragon which enjoyed 3D surcharges helping it bow to $43.7M…Adiences were not as happy with the product as its CinemaScore grade was a discouraging C+.
Sylvain Chomet’s The Illusionist captured $80,212 from 76 theaters boosting its total to $1.87 million. The film has failed to catch on with audiences like Chomet’s earlier film, The Triplets of Belleville which grossed $7 million in 2003.
Also of note, a collection of Oscar-nominated shorts released by Shorts International grossed $61,101 from 44 theaters raising its total to $1.2 million. I believe the total amount reflects two programs currently in theaters–animation and live-action. I don’t know of any collection of Oscar nominated shorts that has ever grossed this much money theatrically, and it exceeds Shorts Intl’s 2009 Oscar shorts edition ($644,635) and 2010 edition ($1,018,169).
Meanwhile, the worldwide total for Tangled now stands at $546 million and is still rising. It is Disney Feature Animation’s second highest grossing animated feature ever behind only The Lion King, and it has surpassed the worldwide grosses of other recent animated pics like Despicable Me, Wall-E, Cars, and How to Train Your Dragon.
Here, courtesy of Hulu, is an excerpt from last Friday’s telecast of ABC’s The View which featured the first meeting, 69 years after the fact, of the voices of Disney’s Bambi and Thumper – Donnie Donagan and Peter Behn. If anyone locates the whole View segment online, let us know:
Not every animated film is aimed at families and children. Coming next fall from Spain, Perro Verde Films and Cromosoma are coproducing a serious adult animated feature about the friendship between two senior citizens living in a nursing home. Arrugas (Wrinkles) is based on an award winning comic book by Paco Roca. I’m not expecting UP, but its heartening to know that somewhere in the world such subject matter can be produced, hand drawn, in feature length.
On President’s Day (February 21), Titmouse asked its animators to spend the entire workday animating their own ideas. The only rule was that it had to be at least five seconds long. Both Titmouse studios (Los Angeles and New York) participated, and the results of this year’s 5 Second Day can be seen on the studio’s blog. I’ve posted a couple of my personal favorites in this post: above by Mike Roush and below by Phylicia Fuentes.
A Brew reader who preferred to remain anonymous e-mailed his thoughts about this week’s lawsuit filed against The Weinstein Company and Rainmaker Entertainment. This reader, who worked at Rainmaker Entertainment on the aborted feature, feels that the director Tony Leech, who is currently suing The Weinstein Company and Rainmaker, is partly responsible for the mess. I don’t think anybody truly knows who deserves the lion’s share of the blame, but as I hinted at earlier, it does appear that every party involved exhibited incompetence to some degree:
I was working on the Escape from Planet Earth production a few years back, while Tony Leech was on-board. Reading your latest article on the TWC [The Weinstein Company] lawsuit I had to write and provide some inside perspective.
While at Rainmaker, I read through at least 2 major rewrites and countless adjustments to the script and let me be crystal clear, Tony Leech produced some of the worst writing I had the displeasure of reading in my career.
You can’t really blame TWC, pushing for rewrites as I’m sure they were as frustrated with the underwhelming results. His inexperience as noted by TWC is a very accurate description. As a “director”, not seeing the big picture or having a vision, micro managing, and the occasional public meltdown made everyone feel like they had to walk on eggshells around Tony. You can imagine how counterproductive the situation was to improving the movie.
I recall talking to the head of the story development, a talented storyboard artist, who was frustrated for not being able to contribute a single meaningful idea to the script due to Tony’s inability to collaborate on any level. He left the project soon after.
In hindsight, perhaps the biggest TWC mistake was not negotiating Tony off the project earlier. Some major spending could have been avoided.
The stories go on and on and every day was a comedy of errors. I personally had enough after 6 months and left, I felt sorry for my friends, pouring their hearts into a production that was going nowhere. Hopefully this helps shed some light on the subject. Thanks for a great website, I visit CB often and every time it’s a treat:)
I saw Rango and I recommend it, despite its flaws. SPOILERS AHEAD: The first 20 minutes – up to the early scenes in the desert town of “Dirt” – and the last 15 minutes (when Rango leaves town, crosses the road and meets the “Spirit of the West”, through to the end) are fun, innovative and an almost perfect mix of art and entertainment. That’s 35 out of 100 minutes worthy of current inflated admission prices. The remaining middle section is a mash-up of western movie cliches and spaghetti westerns – with a dash of Apocalypse Now and a pinch Chinatown – that goes on a bit too long. The characters are ugly, but that’s okay – they are supposed to be grizzled desert creatures. The “emotion capture” reference footage technique won me over, though I thought Verbinski relied on way too many close ups…
…but that’s me. How about you? Comments are open below to our readers opinions – but only if you’ve seen the movie. What did you think about Rango?
P.S. Having seen the movie, I can attest that the behind-the-scenes book, The Ballad of Rango; The Art & Making of an Outlaw Film, written by longtime entertainment reporter David S. Cohen, is a perfect companion to the film. As with most of these tie-in’s, it is loaded with incredible artwork that preceeded the CG images on screen and Cohen’s text goes deep into Verbinski and ILM’s creative process. Regardless of your opinion of the film, the book is an important document of an unusual production. If you loved the film, the book is a must-have.
Loved the first one — and the second one does not look like it will disappoint: