Lipsmackers by Beercan Rd. is a 2011 thesis film produced at the School of Visual Arts by Sachio Cook. The film has a quirky tone, stylishly mixing the mundane real world with fantastical elements. Some of the storytelling lacks clarity, but the overall effect (as well as the artwork) is charming. According to her LinkedIn page, Sachio works at Titmouse as an assistant animator. I hope she continues making independent films, too.
Fifteen years in the making.
35,000 hand drawn, hand-painted cels.
Shot onto 35mm movie film on a rostrum camera.
This is Neil Boyle’s The Last Belle, a recently completed short that will be playing on the festival circuit in 2012. If the mind-bending subway shot in the trailer reminds you of Richard Williams’s The Thief and the Cobbler, that’s no accident. Boyle worked as an assistant animator to Williams and the layout artist on Boyle’s short, Roy Naisbitt, also laid out the wild perspective scenes in The Thief and the Cobbler. Boyle discussed the path he’s taken to making this short on his website:
“I came into the animation industry on Who Framed Roger Rabbit and at 20 years old I was one of the youngest there. I was lucky enough to learn from the Disney veteran Stan Green (who had been assistant to the legendary Milt Kahl on many classic Disney films) and I became assistant animator to Richard Williams who was (and remains) amazingly generous with his vast knowledge of animation lore and technique. I was in the middle of all this, the archetypal kid-sponge, sucking up all the information I could. And then one day I went to bed and woke up 40 years old. Or so it seems. Then I was surrounded by a new wave of 20 year olds who – unlike me at that age – were already masters of their craft: the digital age of animation. So I had (and have) a lot more learning to do. The Last Belle is the project I’ve used to bridge the gap between old and new. A chance not just to read about the ‘old ways’, but to try them all out for real, guided by veterans of the craft.The interesting next step is to combine the old with the new and see where it takes us…”
More info and a blog with fascinating making-of details can be found on TheLastBelle.com. Enjoy it while you can because this will surely be among the last hand-drawn, cel-painted films shot on 35mm.
I can think of a few places I’d rather vacation before going to Disney World’s Art of Animation resort, like Mogadishu, Kabul and those drug cartel-operated areas of Mexico where they sew the faces of murder victims onto soccer balls.
It’s a virtual guarantee that every time Philly-based Anthony Francisco Schepperd creates a piece of animation, it’s going to be more incredible than the time before. I don’t know how he keeps topping himself, but the guy is a one-man animation monster. He delivers again with stunning drawn animation on “Two Against One,” a music video he co-directed with Chris Milk for Danger Mouse and Daniele Luppi. He animated the entire thing in TVPaint with some After Effects thrown in, but let’s face it, software doesn’t make a damn difference in his case. It’s all skill, baby.
“The Art of Pho” website contains additional info, as well as a “Making Of” video and interviews with illustrator/animator Hanshaw and animation director Lois van Baarle. A beautiful, worthwhile project – take a peak:
John Canemaker‘s 2005 Academy Award-winning animated short The Moon and the Son: An Imagined Conversation is finally out on DVD. While Cartoon Brew readers are no doubt familiar with Canemaker’s tremendous body of work as an animation historian, his career as an independent animator is equally substantial, with his most impressive work being this deeply affecting 28-1/2 minute portrait of his Italian-American immigrant father and the troubled relationship he had growing up with him.
The DVD is a great self-contained lesson in filmmaking. It comes packed with a 16-minute documentary about the making of the film, the entire first rough cut which Canemaker narrated himself before John Turturro came on board, and two image galleries containing the storyboards and concept artwork. The rough cut in particular is revealing and shows how Canemaker expanded the dialogue and added to the ending, which both made the film more impactful. The storyboards in the image gallery are a wonderful addition, but I often found myself wanting to see the storyboards in greater detail since DVDs aren’t an ideal format for presenting still artwork. The DVD is available is on Amazon for $30.
Just a heads up on a new personal short by Disney visual developement artist Minkyu Lee. It was just nominated for an Annie Award, but it hasn’t been widely seen yet. Minkyu sent us the trailer with this note:
This is a short film that me and a group of my close friends made. It was put together by artists who work at various studios, including Disney Feature, Dreamworks and Pixar; The animation is done by myself, Jennifer Hager, James Baxter, Mario Furmanczyk, Austin Madison, and Matt Williames. Glen Keane also helped by being a consultant on the film, and also doing some visual development. It is a completely independent film without any major studio involvement. We are really excited for people to see it, and wanted to share.
Here’s a few scenes to whet your appetite:
“They gave me a gun, a pick, and a hand grenade, and said ‘Win at any cost,’ and I said ‘Right.’ There’s nothing I love more than winning…”
Indie filmmaker Nick Fox-Gieg has great taste in choosing material for his shorts, and More Than Winning, based on a story by Susan Murray, continues that streak.
This Thursday, January 12, Trigg Ison Fine Art (9009 Beverly Blvd, West Hollywood, CA 90048) will host the opening reception for “American Optimism: Celebrating the LA Art Scene 1935 — 1980.” The show will feature an eclectic mix of artwork by at least a dozen regional artists, including numerous works by Disney and UPA background painter Bob McIntosh, who passed away in 2010. In addition, there will be some newly discovered paintings by another fine artist with a strong animation connection–Oskar Fischinger. There’ll also be some pieces by Jirayr Zorthian, a SoCal painter who didn’t work in animation, but whose work had a strong cartoon aesthetic. Zorthian was friendly with some animators, particularly Ward Kimball. The opening is from 6-9PM, and an RSVP is required by emailing info (at) triggison (dot) com.
As blu-ray catches on with consumers, more and more vintage animation is getting a hi-def make-over. Disney has been releasing its features, one by one, in this format for years. Warners has just begun releasing classic Looney Tunes and Tom & Jerry shorts on blu-ray.
20th Century-Fox has now jumped into its vault and has remastered Ralph Bakshi’s Wizards for blu-ray release on March 13th. I remember loving this flick when I first saw it back in the seventies. It inspired Wendy Pini’s cult comics masterpiece Elfquest, and was the catalyst for several animated fantasy features that followed in the next few years (Heavy Metal, Rock & Rule, not to mention Bakshi’s own Lord of The Rings). I always remember Wizards as Mark Hamill’s other 20th Century-Fox fantasy film from 1977 (you-know-what was the other one).
The Wizards blu-ray is being tied to the film’s 35th Anniversary, and being released in “Digi-book” format which packages the disc inside a commemorative 24-page book. The book features an introduction from Ralph and is illustrated with much rare artwork from his personal collection. The film comes with audio commentary by Ralph, a documentary Ralph Bakshi: The Wizard of Animation, theatrical trailers and TV spots and 300 still photos.
So what do you think? Has time been kind to Wizards? How does it hold up in your opinion?
Since posting our 2012 animation book preview, I’ve updated the list with additional titles, and one of those books deserves its own post. It’s being released this winter in honor of the 75th anniversary of Disney’s first feature Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs. The title of the book is The Fairest One of All: The Making of Walt Disney’s “Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs” and the author is the esteemed J. B. Kaufman, whose earlier books South of the Border With Disney and Walt in Wonderland: The Silent Films of Walt Disney (with Russell Merritt) are highly valued for their original research and thoroughness.
In Kaufman’s able hands, this book has easily moved to the top of the heap as one of my most-anticipated animation books of 2012. The book will be published by the Walt Disney Family Foundation Press, and it will be accompanied by an exhibition of Snow White artwork at the Walt Disney Family Museum in San Francisco, currently scheduled to open in November.
A long-lost version of The Hobbit by animation legend Gene Deitch has resurfaced online in the past few days. Why did Gene produce this 12-minute “animatic” version instead of the feature-length version he’d originally planned with Jiří Trnka? Why did he have just one month to produce it? Why has nobody ever seen it? The crazy circumstances that led to the production are revealed in this piece that Gene wrote on his website. In short, the film was a financial ploy by Deitch’s producer William L. Snyder to earn himself a nice chunk of change. Deitch writes:
The Tolkien estate had now been offered a fabulous sum for the rights, and [William] Snyder’s rights would expire in one month. They were already rubbing their hands together. But Snyder played his ace: to fulfill just the letter of the contract — to deliver a “full-color film” of THE HOBBIT by June 30th. All he had to do was to order me to destroy my own screenplay — all my previous year’s work, and hoke up a super-condensed scenario on the order of a movie preview, (but still tell the entire basic story from beginning to end), and all within 12 minutes running time — one 35mm reel of film. Cheap. I had to get the artwork done, record voice and music, shoot it, edit it, and get it to a New York projection room on or before June 30th, 1966! I should have told him to shove it, but I was basically his slave at the time. It suddenly became an insane challenge.
(Thanks, Stephen Persing, via Cartoon Brew’s Facebook page)
Wolcott Gibbs was the the drama critic of The New Yorker for many years, but he also wrote about other sorts of stuff, such as this smart take on The Three Caballeros. A lot more of Gibbs’ writing can be found in the new collection Backward Ran Sentences: The Best of Wolcott Gibbs from the New Yorker. There’s also a recent piece about Gibbs written by Terry Teachout in the Wall Street Journal that sheds light on his quirky personality.