Canada’s Sheridan College is well known for the quality of their animation program and the work of their students (alumni include Dean Dublois, Michel Gagné and Danny Antonucci). Here’s a sneak peek/montage of this year’s graduate films – 63 of them in 2 minutes – which will screen publicly on Industry Day, Thursday April 26th. Beautiful looking stuff – can’t wait to see the full finished films.
The Museum of Modern Art in New York continues to be one of the most animation friendly museums in the US. This week they announced an exhibition and accompanying film retrospective celebrating the work of the 64-year-old identical twin animators Stephen and Timothy Quay, better known as the Brothers Quay. The show, “Quay Brothers: On Deciphering the Pharmacist’s Prescription for Lip-Reading Puppets,” opens on August 8, 2012. The show is being organized by Ron Magliozzi, who has also co-curated MoMA’s hit exhibitions on Tim Burton and Pixar. More from MoMA’s website:
Internationally renowned moving image artists and designers, the Quay Brothers were born outside Philadelphia and have worked from their London studio, Atelier Koninck, since the late 1970s. For over 30 years, they have been in the avant-garde of stop-motion puppet animation and live-action movie-making in the Eastern European tradition of filmmakers like Walerian Borowczyk and Jan Svankmajer and the Russian Yuri Norstein, and have championed a design aesthetic influenced by the graphic surrealism of Polish poster artists of the 1950s and 1960s.
Beginning with their student films in 1971, the Quay Brothers have produced over 45 moving image works, including two features, music videos, dance films, documentaries, and signature personal works, including The Street of Crocodiles (1986), the Stille Nacht series (1988—2008), Institute Benjamenta (1995), and In Absentia (2000). They have also designed sets and projections for opera, drama, and concert performances such as Tchaikovsky’s Mazeppa (1991), Ionesco’s The Chairs (Tony-nominated design, 1997), Richard Ayre’s The Cricket Recovers (2005), and recent site-specific pieces based on the work of BartÃ³k and Kafka.
In addition to their better known films, this exhibition will include never-before-seen moving image works and graphic design, drawings, and calligraphy, presenting animated and live-action films alongside installations, objects, and works on paper.
As a counterbalance to Digital Domain and its dunderheaded business strategy of making one-third of its staff pay them to work on its films, the video above features DreamWorks Animation chief Jeffrey Katzenberg speaking about he importance of honoring his studio’s employees. Katzenberg says in the interview:
The thing that I have learned, and I only wish that I knew it twenty-five or thirty years ago, which is to honor and celebrate, recognize and reward your employees and their work–is a fantastic business strategy. If they love their work, they love coming to work, they will strive to do great work and you’ll succeed.
George Griffin is one of the stalwarts of the New York indie scene, a filmmaker with an inspiring DIY approach who has been making films of every stripe continuously since 1969. His work hasn’t been readily available online, which is why I was excited to learn that he’s recently been uploading a selection of his films onto Vimeo. A more extensive collection of Griffin’s shorts can be purchased through his website.
If you’re unfamiliar with his work, you will want to read this 1997 interview on AWN in which he discusses his personal and artistic history, and why he values the idea of “doing my own thing.” Below are a few of his works that are currently online.
Flying Fur (1981), an “animated love song to the cartoon chase” set to Scott Bradley’s score from the Tom and Jerry short Puttin’ on the Dog.
Ko-Ko (1988), a collage-animation film that explores the visual equivalent to the aural improvisations of Charlie Parker and Dizzy Gillespie.
New Fangled (1990) is rooted in Griffin’s experiences working in advertising and pillories the nonsensical jargon used by ad agency “creatives.”
Australian artist Tom Bone was laid up in a hospital bed for three weeks due to a broken pelvis. He made the best of his time and produced a four-minute animated short during his hospital stay. There’s a phenomenal amount of inventive character designs in his hilariously perverse morphing freakfest, which is looped multiple times below.
My Way is a sweet-natured short about the anxieties of growing up, and the unknown forces (represented by the metaphorical pebble) that shape our life experiences. Directed by Veljko PopoviÄ‡ and made at Croatia’s Bold Studio, the film is based on a book written and illustrated by Svjetlan JunakoviÄ‡. Despite remaining faithful to the illustrator’s richly textured style, the director PopoviÄ‡ manages to avoid the blandness that plagues many book adaptations through a dynamic use of screen space and creative transitions between scenes. My Way has played at dozens of film festivals since its debut in 2010.
Story and visuals: Svjetlan JunakoviÄ‡
Director: Veljko PopoviÄ‡
Producer: Masha UdoviÄiÄ‡
Music and sound: Hrvoje Å tefotiÄ‡
Narator: Charles Foster
Animation: Zvonimir Haramija, Mirela IvankoviÄ‡ Bielen, Ana Horvat, Juliana KuÄan, Ana-Marija VidakoviÄ‡
Compositing: Masha UdoviÄiÄ‡, Zvonimir Haramija, Juliana KuÄan
Opening in London on May 4th is Dinotasia, a new feature film containing a series of vignettes about dinosaurs, narrated by filmmaker Werner Herzog. The animation for this film was originally created for the Discovery Channel series Dinosaur Revolution, which aired in the U.S. last fall. Erik Nelson, best known for his work with director Werner Herzog on his documentary features, co-directed the film with David Krentz, lead character designer for Disney’s Dinosaur, and has contributed to Fantasia 2000, Treasure Planet, Valiant and The Ant Bully. It should open in the U.S. later this year.
Just released: another trailer, an alternate cut for Laika’s new stop-motion feature ParaNorman. Compare it to trailer #3 to note the additional scenes. Lookin’ good to me – this is shaping up to be a very interesting year for features.
(Thanks, Ovi Nedelcu)
Digital Domain CEO John Textor (pictured above with his wife) envisions big things for his company’s new feature animation studio in Port St. Lucie, Florida called Tradition Studios. While we’ve written about the studio’s ambitious feature film plans, what wasn’t known until recently is how Textor intends to create the films. His plan is to convince students to pay Digital Domain to work on its films for free.
The blog VFX Soldier has obtained a speech that Textor gave last November to investors in which he revealed how the company’s new animation school Digital Domain Institute will be integrated with the Tradition studio. Textor told the audience:
Classes starting in the education space, what’s interesting is the relationship between the digital studio and the college. Â Not only is this a first in a number of ways that we’ve talked about, but 30% of the workforce at our digital studio down in Florida, is not only going to be free, with student labor, it’s going to be labor that’s actually paying us for the privilege of working on our films.
Now this was the controversial element of this and the first discussions with the Department of Education, ’cause it sounds like you’re taking advantage of the students. Â But we were able to persuade even the academic community, if we don’t do something to dramatically reduce costs in our industry, not only ours but many other industries in this country, then we’re going to lose these industries .. we’re going to lose these jobs. Â And our industry was going very quickly to India and China.
Students, in other words, will pay up to $105,000 for the “privilege” of working on Digital Domain’s features, the first of which will be The Legend of Tembo. As VFX Soldier points out, “It’s one thing to work for low pay, it’s another thing to work for free, but it’s unfathomable to be expected to pay to work for free.
If all of this sounds a little fishy, that’s because it is. The Animation Guild in Los Angeles is exploring whether Digital Domain might be in violation of state and federal labor laws. They’ve tried to communicate with multiple Florida government agencies, including the state’s Department of Education, with no luck yet. Federal labor laws, however, would appear to be in favor of artists as they clearly stipulate that interns cannot “perform productive work” (i.e. work on the production of a film) without being compensated with at least minimum wage and overtime pay. (Minimum wage, by the way, is $7.67 per hour in Florida.)
As animation education programs proliferate around the United States and competition intensifies for a finite number of jobs, studios find themselves in a position to exploit young artists more aggressively than ever before. Whether it’s Titmouse relocating its studio nearly 3,000 miles away to avoid paying its employees union wages or Digital Domain making people pay to work on its films, there are plenty of legal loopholes that studios can exploit to save a buck on the backs of their production crews. And some studio CEOs are so proud of themselves that they’ll publicly boast about how they’re getting away with it.
(Photo of Debbie and John Trextor via TCPalm.com)
British animation artist Edd Gould passed away on Sunday, March 25 from leukemia. He was the creator of the popular online animation series Eddsworld, which achieved a devoted following on numerous video platforms including Newgrounds and YouTube. On YouTube alone, his shorts have been viewed over 80 million times. The Eddsworld universe also included comics and Flash games. Gould animated all the shorts, co-wrote them, and provided some of the voices. It is not clear at this point whether the series will continue without his participation, but the rest of the Eddsworld crew has promised fans that they will finish the two-part episode that Gould was working on at the time of his death.
(Thanks, David OReilly)
A NSFW (Not Safe For Work) history lesson about vampires…
A kick-ass Santa Claus, Sandman, Tooth Fairy, and Easter Bunny take on the dark forces of evil – via William Joyce and Guillermo del Toro. This Dreamworks production opens November 21st and here’s our first look at the animation:
As a longtime non-sports card collector, I was delighted when the original series of Garbage Pail Kids stickers came out in 1985. I recall that the characters, a parody of those god-awful Cabbage Patch Kids dolls, were a hilarious spoof in the vein of Mad Magazine. The gags even got funnier in the 2nd and 3rd series before I moved on. I haven’t looked at those stickers in years and my memory of the property has been tainted by the horrible 1987 CBS animated series – so awful it didn’t air for years (it was pulled at the last moment from the CBS Saturday morning line-up, allowing Bakshi’s Mighty Mouse to move into the coveted post Pee-Wee Herman time slot). I’ve embed a sample episode below for your viewing displeasure.
On April 1st, Abrams ComicArts will release a hardcover book featuring full page images of every card in the first 5 series (1985-86) of the popular Topps bubble gum stickers. At first, I didn’t think much about the idea of such a book, but after reading Art Spiegelman’s introduction, and John Pound’s afterword, then leafing through the pages I came to realize these hilarious pieces haven’t lost any of their subversive edge. Alternative (or Underground) cartoonists Spiegelman, Pound, Jay Lynch, Tom Bunk and Mark Newgarden were the brains behind these beauties. The art is way better than I remembered and I had a ball checking these out anew – they actually work great in the book format. It’s lavishly produced, with the book jacket looking like the original wrapper, and an actual set of Garbage Pail Kids stickers included inside. This tome goes on the shelf next to my Mad paperbacks, Kurtzman’s Hey Look and Crumb’s Fritz The Cat. Maybe the new animated movie in development by Michael Eisner and Pes doesn’t seem like such a bad idea after all. Check out what all the fuss is about (Amazon is selling it for $11.27 – a steal!). Highly recommended!