I’ve often praised Alberto Mielgo‘s background paintings on the Brew. He’s the art director on Disney’s upcoming Tron TV series, which is largely the reason I’m excited about that show. It shouldn’t be surprising that an artist of his caliber wouldn’t restrict his skills to the animation world. This short documentary directed by Alexis Wanneroy (who also happens to be an animator at DreamWorks) takes a look at the creation of one of Mielgo’s recent paintings, in which porn actress Belladonna modeled for him. If you can’t tell by the video thumbnail, it’s probably NSFW, but it’s also a fascinating look at the artistic process of one of the most original artists working in animation today.
Love the quirky movement, realistic eyes and mouths, and crunchy hand-made look of this student short. Here are some details about Zséman from one of its four filmmakers, Nadja Andrasev:
This was our fifth semester stop motion paper cut animation film just completed at the Moholy-Nagy University of Art and Design in Budapest. We were given a basic rough storyline with an open ending and had to make the films in teams of four people, with one person as visual designer (in our case, Milán Kopasz). There were some basic guidelines, for example having to use lip sync. We decided to write gibberish as dialogue, therefore there are no subtitles. Three films were made in our class based on the same basic story (the other two were digitally animated).
Made by: Hanna Carlson, Milán Kopasz, Maja Szakadát, Nadja Andrasev
Design: Milán Kopasz
Lighting: Katalin Mészáros
Voice: Bálint Gelley
Despite our moderation efforts, the comments section on Cartoon Brew can occasionally feel like a free-for-all. However, we also recognize the value of providing this forum. Readers feel comfortable and safe to comment about the animation industry in ways that they don’t anywhere else on-line. I was reminded of this when I took a look at Ross Perlin’s timely expose Intern Nation: How to Earn Nothing and Learn Little in the Brave New Economy. There’s a paragraph in the book where he quotes extensively from readers who commented on this Brew post about illegal internships at animation studios.
Illegal internships are a major issue in the animation industry and I hope to address this topic in greater depth in the coming year. Too many employers abuse the concept of internships, and make interns perform demeaning tasks that don’t pertain to the industry, or use interns for extended periods of time to perform tasks that they would otherwise have to pay staffers to do. Entry-level animation artists in New York are worse off today than anytime in the past twenty years, not just due to internships, but also because of minimum-wage positions for artists that have pushed salaries down to 1980s levels. The current situation is untenable in the long term and needs to be addressed openly. Reading Perlin’s book looks to be a good first-step for any college student who is considering an internship and wants to protect themselves from being exploited by unscrupulous studios.
To “Pat and Kenny” everywhere, Seasons Greetings from Freddy Moore and Cartoon Brew.
(Courtesy the collection of Tim Walker)
Alan Menken’s song “Be Our Guest” from Beauty and the Beast sounds familiar to a theme from the first movement of Gustav Mahler’s Symphony No. 3. It’s a good thing that the Walt Disney Company respects the purpose and intent of public domain laws that allow artists like Menken to be inspired by earlier creative works. Oh wait…
(via Nick Cross’s Twitter)
Steven Spielberg’s new Adventures of Tintin is the most technically ambitious film version of Tintin to date, but it is hardly the first time Hergé’s boy reporter has been brought to life. To help place Spielberg’s efforts into context, we turned to someone far more qualified than us, French writer and artist David Calvo. In this exclusive piece for Cartoon Brew, he takes a look at the highs and lows of prior Tintin screen adaptations and helps us understand where Spielberg’s performance capture film fits into the picture. When he’s not being a Tintinologist, Calvo is a creative consultant and writer at Ankama, where he has played a key role in developing the popular MMORPG Wakfu. He has also written numerous novels, comic books and short stories, and draws the on-line comic Song of Beulah.
The History of Tintin Adaptations: From Misonne to Spielberg
by David Calvo
It’s been a long time coming. We can read everywhere how Steven Spielberg and Hergé missed their rendez-vous, at the dawn of the 1980s, a few weeks before the Belgian comic master passed away. We’re now resigned to the American side having the upper hand. Today, we can feel Spielberg and Peter Jackson oozing in every frame of the new Tintin, childhood memories and artist’s pride perspiring behind the dual banter of the Thomson and Thomson. The star filmmaking duo have managed to bring this hot, harshly defended property to a new media. Without delving into the technical aspects of this production, adapting Hergé’s master comic book is already a daunting task. It has been done before–sometimes for the best, mostly, for the worst.
“The Crab with the Golden Claws”
The crowning jewel of all Tintin adaptations is the “The Crab with the Golden Claws” handkerchief puppet extravaganza by Hergé’s friend Claude Misonne and her husband JoÃ£o B. Michiels. Splendid and boring, so abstracted, this stop motion tour de force managed to be a scrupulous, if non-inventive, duplication of the comic, filled with wonderful voice performances, horrendous stock shots, and plagued by severe budget problems. The movie was shown only once in theaters, in December, 1947, in front of two thousand kids. The film was seized next morning by the justice, because the adaptation fees wee never paid. The movie has now achieved cult status as the first Belgian animated feature, a visionary precursor in stop motion history.
“Tintin et le MystÃ¨re de la Toison d’or”
Often cited as the worst thing you can do to Hergé, the two live-action movies of the Sixties, “Tintin et le MystÃ¨re de la Toison d’or” (“Tintin and the Golden Fleece”, Jean-Jacques Vierne, 1961) et “Tintin et les Oranges bleues” (“Tintin and the Blue Oranges”, Philippe Condroyer, 1964), deserve to have their reputations rehabilitated today. If “la Toison d’Or” fares better than the “Oranges Bleues,” it’s because of the exoticism, the touristic adventures, and the multiple references to the Tintin canon. Despite their cruel lack of any cinematic values and terrible scripts (both are original stories by André Barret), these playful, lush productions were able to pull the major feat of having perfect main characters: a Tintin superbly played twice by Jean Pierre Talbot, and two Haddock incarnations, Georges Wilson and Jean Bouise–both major French actors bringing uncanny depth to this difficult character.
Belvision’s Tintin series
The Sixties were the apotheosis of the Franco-Belgian comic-book school, and Belgian studios Belvision, founded by Le journal de Tintin editor Raymond Leblanc, had a winning streak of flair. First they adapted Tintin as a cartoon TV show. Produced by Ray Goossens, the seven serials were aired between 1959 and 1964 as five-minute shorts, for a total of 50 episodes (only “The Calculus Affair” was bundled as a feature film). Despite having brought the best animators in Europe to Brussels, the old-fashioned animation and funny characterization perks struggled to overcome the horrid scripts and schematic action. To fit the format, the albums were condensed and chopped, often badly, but the overall thrust of non-stop action and cliffhangers, typical of any serialized mystery, worked perfectly on TV. Curiously, Belvision also produced a stunning fifteen-minute industrial film, “Tintin et la SGM” (1970), to promote a Belgian mining company. (Watch a clip from the industrial film.)
The animated feature “Tintin and the Temple of the Sun”
Next, Belvision seized the big screen with two animated features, which are still a Christmas fixture in France. “Le Temple du Soleil” (“Tintin and the Temple of the Sun,” 1969) was a deeply faithful adaptation of the source material (with thoughtful alteration by comic book artist and journal de Tintin editor Greg). A more technically challenging endeavor, enhanced by a splendid soundtrack featuring a song written by Jacques Brel, the musical alter ego of Hergé. Even if the movie only focused on the second part of the two-album story arc (which will be “adapted” next by Peter Jackson), it retains a large part of the adventurous setting and rhythm. The next feature, “Tintin et le lac aux requins” (Tintin and the Lake of Sharks, 1972) is a funny, original Tintin story pitched by Greg, featured an awesome visit to Syldavia and touching characters, though lacking animation brio and depth.
Opening titles for The Adventures of Tintin
In 1992, The Adventures of Tintin, a new animated TV series aired on FR3, co-produced by France Ellipse studios and Canadian outfit Nelvana (directed by Stephen Bernasconi, assisted by Tintinologist Philippe Goddin). It had a huge success in primetime. The sheer scope forces the admiration: all Hergé’s albums are converted, except for the most controversial (“Tintin in the Congo” and “Tintin in the Land of the Soviets,” while “Tintin in America” was heavily tweaked to erase the Native American problems). Eighteen 45-minutes episodes, and three 24-minute ones, achingly faithful and masterfully executed, were produced. Maybe too faithful. Clean and respectful, lacking any hint of craziness, this adaptation got rid of most of Tintin’s quirky element–guns, politics, alcohol–to provide neutered family entertainment devoid of any risk. One of the key aspects of Hergé’s work was his perfect balance between reality and fantasy. The episodes have been syndicated many times since, cut up and chopped in every possible combination to re-create a serialized experience.
At the dawn of the 21st century, Tintin is back for the masses. Belches and zoophilic jokes aside, it is a clever twist thrusting a quaint, old-school narrative into the future. The movie texture is stunning, everything reflects the overwhelming obsession of Spielberg, including reflection itself, and the fabric gives a sense of depth and place achingly relevant in achieving that “ligne claire” dryness to every overexposed shape. The details are inspiring: the tiny, drunkards eyes of Haddock, his cartoon nose, Tintin’s hands (beautiful), the Thomson’s moustaches and greasy skin. The somewhat jumble of the script, blending two majors storyline with details from all over the oeuvre, manages to remain faithful and utterly sacrilegious at the same time. The whole movie lacks the whimsical, restrained tempo of Hergé, that, despite their short-comings, the previous adaptations managed to pull out.
This over-emphasis on heavy action set pieces, with barely a pause for the characters to breathe, is deeply troubling. Are world mass audiences hungry for more action, more technical bravado, trampling the subtle inheritance of of the most idiosyncratic saga of our time? The shiny, invisible center of Hergé’s mind is still missing from all these adaptations. The endearing success of Tintin is not one of motion, nor emotion. It is tied to the page, to the frame. Subject and Form linked in a perfect, beautiful harmony that cannot translate, giving birth to a singular expression of a universal time frame, frozen forever in a quaint space between conservatism and rebellion. We will have to wait again–this time for Peter Jackson bravado–to see if the Hollywoodization of Tintin’s quirky sensibility can exist in another space.
Slamdance Film Festival announced today the Special Screenings and Short Programs for the 18th Annual Slamdance Film Festival. The Special
Screenings Programs present a variety of acclaimed and visionary films by a diverse group of global filmmakers — from Hollywood iconoclasts to highly anticipated emerging directors. The 2012 Slamdance Film Festival will showcase 8 feature-length films in Special Screenings: 3 Narrative Films and 5 Documentary Films, including 5 World Premieres. The 2012 Shorts Program features 75 shorts, and include Special Screenings, Live Action Competition, Documentary Competition, Animation, $99 Special, Anarchy Shorts, and the world premiere of a special program of new Iranian shorts never seen outside the country, Made In Iran: 7 Short Premieres.
“This year’s Special Screenings in every way represent the maverick spirit of Slamdance, from Jonathan Demme’s documentary Neil Young Journeys, to the premiere of a never before seen Ed Wood television pilot, and the poetic realism of Tibetan filmmaker Pema Tseden’s Old Dog. If you want to see the truest representation of bold, independent filmmaking, Slamdance is the place to be,” said Peter Baxter, Slamdance President and Co-Founder.
With nearly 5,000 submissions this year, Slamdance is proud to present the best filmmakers who are pushing the boundaries of filmmaking with innovation and unique talent. This year’s festival celebrates Slamdance’s continued commitment to diversity, courage and experimentation of truly independent cinema.
The 2012 Slamdance Film Festival will take place January 20 — 26, 2011 in Park City, Utah, at the Treasure Mountain Inn.
This year’s Slamdance short film competition slate features 32 live action shorts and 13 documentary shorts programmed both in blocks and in front of features, and 10 animated films programmed in a signature animation block.
“We’re thrilled about this year’s short film slate, which represents a dynamic mix of films from across the world. Our focus is on finding the most essential films from among the over 3000 submissions we received, with an eye toward potentially divisive and provocative films that may not have found a showcase elsewhere. If there’s a common thread among these films, it’s a shared boldness of vision on the part of the filmmakers that spans all genres, from comedy to experimental,” said Joel Garber, Co-Captain of the Shorts Programming Committee.
A jury will present awards to short films in competition in the following categories: Narrative, Animation, and Documentary. Competition shorts are also eligible for the Spirit of Slamdance Award.
Out of competition shorts and programs include: $99 Special Short Harold’s Bad Day, a winner of the 2011 Slamdance Short Screenplay Competition, directed by Slamdance alum Jordan Brady. The $99 Special Program presentation is the culmination of an annual tradition in which filmmakers are challenged to make a short film in 99 days with a budget of $99 dollars.
Made In Iran: 7 Short Premieres, an out of competition shorts program, is a world premiere collection of recent Iranian shorts never seen outside the country, curated by Iranian-American filmmaker Ehsan Ghoreishi, featuring the work of emerging talents from across Iran.
Anarchy Shorts is a curated, non-competitive spotlight on unique and provocative filmmakers who have made visionary, experimental, cult, and underground films.
ANIMATED COMPETITION SHORTS:
Birdboy — Directors/Screenwriters: Alberto Vázquez, Pedro Rivero. (Spain)
A terrible industrial accident changes little Dinky’s life forever.
Follow the Sun! — Director/Screenwriter: MK12. (USA)
An homage and/or affront to a Great American Tradition: the drive-in intermission snack reel.
Hietsuki Bushi — Director/Screenwriter: Ryo Hirano. (Japan)
A seamless mixture of traditional Japanese song, blip music, universe, and agriculture.
Hollow — Director/Screenwriter: Oliver Franklin Anderson. (USA)
Two young brothers stumble across a disturbing secret in the fleeting light of a Midwestern summer.
The House — Director/Screenwriter: David Buob. (Germany)
A family story in a revolving house.
The Observer — Director/Screenwriter: Abbey Luck. (USA) World Premiere
A disenchanted citizen learns how to free his village from a tyrant king by observing patterns in nature.
Peekaboo — Director/Screenwriter: Cecilia Fletcher. (USA)
A woman must decide between reporting a crime and going on vacation.
Soil — Director/Screenwriter: Meejin Hong. (USA)
As imagery transforms between figures and abstraction, the life cycle of an organism and dualities within human nature are explored.
Thumb Snatchers from the Moon Cocoon — Director/Screenwriter: Bradley Schaffer. (USA)
A short tempered Texas sheriff uses his cowboy logic to recklessly defeat a race of condescending, cocoon dwelling critters.
Venus — Director: Tor Fruergaard, Screenwriter: Sissel D. Thomsen. (Denmark)
An erotic comedy in claymation.
Cyprus based, Emba Media Management International Ltd (EMMI) has appointed Brentwood Studios as its distributor for North America. Brentwood will be looking to exploit the entire library that includes popular properties such as Kong: The Animated Series, Highlander, Zorro: Generation Z, along with 28 additional series or animated films.
“We are thrilled about this partnership with EMMI and bringing this popular library back to the marketplace,” says Bob Starnes, General Manager and Co-Founder of Brentwood Studios. “There is great opportunity, given their deep catalogue of high quality children’s programming and our strengths with retail, licensing, publishing, and digital partners, to reach fans, of all ages, and deliver some exceptional offerings of these major brands in North America.”
“Brentwood Studios is led by a dynamic and experienced team that makes them the ideal partner to manage the library,” says Chris Demetriou, EMMI Executive Director and Shareholder. “Their strong industry relationships in North America will enable us to bring these popular titles to fans across the continent.”
Brentwood Studios will be releasing new rights to titles from EMMI’s 864 episode library and working with current right holders to grow the properties throughout North America. Library titles also include popular series such as Dork Hunters, Kong, Legend of the Dragon, Pocket Dragons, and 65-episodes of Adventures of Sonic the Hedgehog, among others.
Several more outstanding Christmas films from animators far and wide. Some of these are greeting cards, one is a commercial spot, another a segment from a TV show…
First up, from London-based Beakus, this sweet little piece by Matthias Hoegg for client CBeebies, guaranteed to make you feel all warm and tingly…
Vancouver animator Trent Corey, who worked on Sony’s Smurfs movie, sent us this:
Kirsten Lepore (Bottle) did this spot for the Yo Gabba Gabba Christmas Special! (Nick Jr.). Music by Adam Deibert, performed by James Husband:
Seed is a stop motion short directed by Ben Richardson and Daniel Bird about “an egg and an apple who build competing broadcast towers that vie for the attention of a transistor radio” with a “narrative of animal evolution, competition and reproduction.” Your mileage may vary–I personally found the storytelling obtuse and drawn-out–but it’s an undeniably attractive piece of stop motion with lovely photography and production design.