Felix The Cat in “The Cat and The Kit” (1925)

Here’s a little treat I’d never seen before – and I don’t see it listed in any of the filmographies: a rare ten minute Felix the Cat sponsored short for General Electric. It was preserved by the Schenectady Museum who had it in their General Electric Archive. The film itself is quite good – the story concerns Felix’s midnight drive, to his wedding, in a car without proper GE headlights – and the print is in excellent shape. Animated by Otto Messmer (from 1925, or maybe 1927), The Cat and The Kit:

(Thanks, Scott T. Rivers)

“Happy Feet” knock-off: “Tappy Toes”

Speaking of Cartoon Dump – from the people who brought you Chop Kick Panda and Puss In Boots: A Furry Tale comes: Tappy Toes. This new 41-minute, direct-to-dvd Happy Feet knock-off may not be entirely awful – like the previous two, it’s done in the style of a Jay Ward cartoon, by our buddy Darrell Van Citters (Renegade Animation). Here’s a peek:

(Thanks, Teddy Hose)

“Demoni” by Theodore Ushev

A new animated piece by Theodore Ushev is always cause for celebration. His latest, “Demoni,” is a zoetrope-inspired music video for the Bulgarian band Kottarashky & The Rain Dogs. Ushev, whose artwork tends to be dramatic (Lipsett Diaries, Tower Bawher, Drux Flux), takes a light-hearted turn in this video and fills a series of spinning records with playful bouncing shapes and figures. Graphically, he’s playing in the same sandbox as early-20th century surrealists and abstract painters. One imagines if Miro, Kandinsky and Klee had teamed up to make an animated music video, it would have looked something like this.

Theo describes his process:

The animation film was created using about 50 vinyl recordings. It was painted directly on the plates with oil and gel paint markers, and acrylics. Different speeds of the “Viking” gramophone were used to create the movement. Some shots were done also with stopmotion using a Canon 5D, Carl-Zeiss macro lenses.

Tonight in LA: Cartoon Dump!

Yep, I still do this. Once a month I run a bunch of truly awful cartoons surrounded by an absolutely hilarious live comedy show with Frank Conniff, J. Elvis Weinstein (both of MST3K) and Erica Doering. We call it Cartoon Dump and perform it at the Steve Allen Theater in Hollywood. Our special stand-up comedy guests this month are Matt Kirshen and Hannah Gansen. Showtime is 8pm and tickets can be purchased here. Check out the new FaceBook page for more information and updates. Please come – it’s funny!

R.I.P. Jim Duffy

Longtime TV animation director and producer Jim Duffy passed away Friday night after a long bout with cancer. Duffy spent much of the last 20 years at Klasky Csupo supervising many of their Nickelodeon shows, particularly Rugrats – directing more episodes of that series than any other artist. He was Creative Producer and Director of Aaaahhh, Real Monsters, Rocket Power, As Told By Ginger, and All Grown Up. Before that he’d worked at Hanna Barbera and Marvel on various shows including Captain Planet, Smurfs, G.I. Joe and Jem.

According to his website, Duffy was born in the USA and grew up in London UK. He has been involved in the production of around 400 half-hours of animated TV series, commercials, and National Coal Board Safety Films as a director, animator, producer, writer, tracer/painter, storyboard artist, and/or designer. He has directed 3 shows nominated for Humanitas awards, two of which won. He’s also been awarded 3 Emmys out of 15 nominations. His personal films have been shown at festivals in Oberhausen, Tours, Nyon, Lucca, Bilboa, Zagreb, and Annecy.

On Facebook, Chuck Swenson wrote:

“Jim Duffy passed away last night at 3:15 am. On the good side, he went peacefully in his sleep surrounded by his family. He was truly a good friend and a good man. To say he will be missed is a gross understatement.”

Pete Docter’s Flipbook Tribute to the Nine Old Men

The Archive Series–Walt Disney’s Nine Old Men: The Flipbooks will release on September 18. This pet project of UP director Pete Docter is among the more unique book concepts, and pays tribute to the work of the Nine Old Men in the best way possible: by displaying scenes their animation work. Amazingly, none of the Nine Old Men’s full animation scenes have been made available to the public before, which makes this both a valuable historical and educational project.

There’s no better choice than Docter to spearhead the project; he’s a big fan of the flipbook format and creates a flipbook ever year as his personal Christmas card. Here’s the official book description:

This box set of nine flip books pays tribute to Walt Disney’s original animators–the Nine Old Men: Les Clark, Eric Larson, Frank Thomas, John Lounsbery, Ward Kimball, Ollie Johnston, Mark Davis, Wolfgang Reitherman, and Milt Kahl. Each flip book features a scene from an animated Disney feature in its original line-drawn form, having been selected from among a wide range of films for great movement and classic characters. Such iconic clips from the reel of Disney animation history include: Lady and the Tramp’s moonlit spaghetti dinner; Sorcerer Mickey’s ordeal with a horde of mops; and Thumper’s announcement that a prince has been born! In addition to the flip books, the box will contain a booklet providing additional information about the artists.

List price is $60, but pre-order for $37.42 on Amazon.

A live-action Marsupilami movie

Those of you who only know of Marsupilami from Disney’s Raw Toonage 20 years ago, might be surprised to learn that the character has been a beloved Belgium comic book character since 1952. And you might even be more surprised to know there’s now a French live action/animation feature coming out next month.

Directed and starring Alain Chabat (Asterix and Obelix Meet Cleopatra) HOUBA! On the Trail Of The Marsupilami opens April 4th in France – and, though furry fans may like it, it looks pretty dumb. Click here to see the trailer.

(Thanks, Tony McCarson)

How Long is 37 Years at Disney?

Thirty-seven years! That’s the length of time that Glen Keane worked at Disney Feature Animation and it’s the figure that stood out to me in yesterday’s surprise announcement that he was leaving Disney. How does that length of employment compare to the Nine Old Men and other famous Disney artists? The list below shows a cross-section of well known Disney artists, past and present, and how long each of them worked (or more appropriately, survived) at the studio.

LENGTH OF EMPLOYMENT FOR FAMOUS DISNEY ARTISTS

John Hench 64 years
Burny Mattinson 59 years
Eric Larson 52 years
Les Clark 49 years
Woolie Reitherman 48 years
Ken Anderson 44 years
Frank Thomas 43.5 years
Ollie Johnston 43 years
Marc Davis 43 years
Milt Kahl 42 years
Ward Kimball 40.5 years
John Lounsbery 40 years
Ron Clements 38 years
Ham Luske 37 years
GLEN KEANE 37 years
Mark Henn 31.5 years
Andreas Deja 30.5 years
Ruben Aquino 30 years
Joe Grant 28 years
Bill Peet 27 years
Fred Moore 20.5 years
Eric Goldberg 15 years
Art Babbitt 9 years
James Baxter 9 years
Bill Tytla 9 years

(Note: Many artists, like Keane himself, left the studio and returned. I’ve tried to take those departures into account while compiling the list, but if you find inaccuracies, please let me know.)

Rare Disney Songs: Released!

Last year Huston Huddleston, son of late Disney songwriter Floyd Huddleston (“Love” from Robin Hood, etc.), released several vintage song demos to the internet that were collecting dust in his closet. The songs – Peoplitis, Sittin’ In My Favorite Position Doing Nothing, Misery I Never Had I So Good and an alternate Rescue Aid Society theme song – were originally written for Disney animated features of the 1970s. I posted several of them on the Brew. Then, Huston heard from Disney legal…

Huston explains what happened next:

“About a year ago I posted some songs from Disney’s Aristocats and Rescuers with Louis Prima that my father had written that were either different versions or never used. I included artwork I’d found from Disney books and compiled them for all to see on Youtube. I heard from a Disney lawyer at the time asking me what right did I have to release these on Youtube, and I told him “Why the hell hasn’t DISNEY released these in any form, DVD, Blu-Ray or CD? These songs should be heard and if you guys put it out, I’ll happily take it down, but in the meantime, this is celebrating my father’s work”

Months went by, and Huston remained firm about keeping his father’s work alive. The Disney lawyers retrenched – and yesterday called Huston back:

“Having seen my video on You Tube, I just today got a call from Disney saying they are releasing the COMPLETE version of “Peoplitis” (only half the song was on Youtube) with Original animation done at the time (that I’d heard Andre Deja speak of months ago) as well as the other Louis Prima songs for an upcoming release, as well as other goodies for The Aristocats. They WERE going to send me a “cease and desist” letter until they realized who I was. The videos are now OFF LINE from Youtube but will be in stores later this year! FIGHT THE SYSTEM people – it can work!

Just like a Disney movie, this is a happy ending; a rare win-win for all concerned: Floyd Huddleston, Disney – and all of us who enjoy the company’s history.

EXCLUSIVE: Full Text of Glen Keane’s Disney Resignation Letter

It’s the end of an era. This is the full text of Glen Keane’s letter sent out to his Disney co-workers within the last hour:

March 23, 2012

Dear Colleagues and Friends of the Walt Disney Animation Studio,

After long and thoughtful consideration, I have decided to leave Disney Animation.

I am convinced that animation really is the ultimate art form of our time with endless new territories to explore. I can’t resist it’s siren call to step out and discover them.

Disney has been my artistic home since September 9,1974. I owe so much to those great animators who mentored me—Eric Larson, Frank Thomas and Ollie Johnston—as well as to the many other wonderful people at Disney whom I have been fortunate to work with in the past nearly 38 years.

Over these four decades I have seen so many changes, but the one thing that remains the same is that we all do this because we love it.

I am humbled and deeply honored to have worked side by side so many artists, producers and directors during my career here at Disney, and I am tremendously proud of the films which together we have created. I will deeply miss working with you.

With my most sincere and heartfelt good wishes for your and Disney’s continued artistic growth and success,

Glen

BREAKING: Glen Keane Left Disney Today

Glen Keane

People posting on Twitter have independently verified our original story. Glen Keane has left Disney’s Feature Animation studio. He worked at Disney for approximately 37 years. Disney artists received an email late-Friday afternoon LA time with the text: “Glen Keane has decided that the time has come to take the next step in his personal exploration of the art of animation.” (UPDATE: Cartoon Brew has the exclusive full text of Glen Keane’s letter to his co-workers.) Keane had worked at Disney since 1974, though he left the studio in 1986 and worked as a freelancer for a period of time. If you have more info, please contact me.

Optimizer Launches New Animation Division dubbed AnimationWRX

Today Optimizer International Group, Inc. (FRA:3OP) announced the launch of its new division AnimationWRX. Earlier this year the company acquired Auckland based motion graphics and animation company, Desaign, which formed the basis for setting up this new division.

At the time of the acquisition, little was disclosed about the purpose, strategic reason or future of Desaign in context of Optimizer’s existing brands and market focus, however, in a statement released today, Optimizer CEO Manas Kumar said that “our market research revealed a major need for motion graphics and animation related services for organizations around the world, especially those competing online. With an expanded team and our already strong online footprint, this division is perfectly positioned to bring cutting edge animation services to SMEs around the world.”

Kumar went on to say that “Animation WRX extends our portfolio of products and services offered globally, adding one more link in the chain that connects various aspects of online business.”

Tan Desai, former CEO of Desaign, now Vice President of Visual Media says, “Animation WRX carries on from Desaign’s original quest to simplify and explain complex ideas. People’s attention span is diminishing while competition is increasing and animated videos offer a sense of engagement making it one of the most effective medium of communication online. These are exciting times as a global market awaits a service such as ours.”

AnimationWRX is already working with clients in New Zealand, Australia, Ireland, Canada and the US helping them explain complex ideas, express innovation, and present sales pitches.

June Foray Narrates Video for AniMazSpot

The venerable first lady of animation, June Foray, has narrated the latest video for AniMazSpot. On the video, Foray looks at some of the highlights of AniMazSpot 2011, the yearly festival for and about animated shorts filmmakers. She also announces some of the plans for this September’s AniMazSpot 2012, as well as treating us to some of her most popular voices, and even came up with a voice for AniMazSpot’s Festival Juggler.

Terrific clips from many of the winning shorts add to the visual luster of the video, plus there are interesting comments from AniMazSpot festival goers, such as Christina Rooney, who brought four kids last year to allow them to see the latest in animation. Entrants also speak on what they like about the festival, such as Adriàn Garcia, from Monterey, Mexico, who thinks the comments by the jury panel for all entrants were “just amazing, and very useful.”

Foray’s says she’s most looking forward to UPA Day at this year’s festival, and lo and behold, Bill Melendez comes on commenting on what made UPA such a revolutionary animation studio, using clips from Gerald McBoing Boing, Tell Tale Heart, and Trouble Indemnity, starring Mister Magoo.  All this in less than 6 minutes.  It’s on the AniMazSpot website at www.animazspot.com.

If you have a short animation to submit, the 3rd Quarter of AniMazSpot 2012 is now open for entries, the deadline is April 23, 2012.  Find out more at www.animazspot.com, “submit a short.”

NYC’s AC Institute Satellite Space To Host Exhibit of Dustin Grella’s “Notes To Self” Project

Being obsessive and compulsive in our society often carries negative connotations. In Dustin Grella‘s work, the artist and filmmaker prefers to celebrate these traits, referring to it as OCC, Obsessive Compulsive Culture. Grella approaches his work as if it were a puzzle, taking an action or an idea and aggressively repeating it, sometimes consciously, sometimes unconsciously, until a resolution is found.

Grella’s 2010 Prayer for Peace, an animated short dedicated to the memory of Grella’s brother, who was killed in the current military conflict in Iraq, received the 2010 Walt Disney Animation Studios grand prize for Best Student Animation at the Ottawa International Animation Festival.

In his Notes to Self project, Grella has written and then mailed himself a letter every day for over ten years. The exercise has generated 3,650 letters (and counting), which remain meticulously ordered and still sealed to this day. The slight variations in the project, a change of font, the physical location of the cancellation stamp, and of course what is written inside, are nuances that help decipher time’s complexities.

The AC Institute Satellite Space in New York City has curated an exhibit of Grella’s Notes to Self project, running March 29 through April 28, with an opening reception on Thursday, March 29, from 6-8 pm.

Dustin Grella: Notes to Self
March 29 — April 28, 2012
Opening Event: Thursday, March 29, 6-8pm

Opening in the AC Institute Satellite Space on the 2nd floor of 547 W. 27th St., Suite 210
For more information, contact [email protected]

New Walt Disney Faires Movie “Secret Of The Wings” Coming Out October 23rd

EXCITING WINTER ADVENTURE TAKES TINKER BELL ON AN EPIC JOURNEY AND REVEALS A SECRET… THAT CHANGES HER LIFE FOREVER!

Featuring a stunning voice cast including Anjelica Huston, Timothy Dalton, Lucy Liu, Raven-Symoné, Megan Hilty, Pamela Adlon, Matt Lanter, Debby Ryan and Mae Whitman and Introducing the sparkling new winter fairy, PERIWINKLE voiced by Lucy Hale

BURBANK, Calif., March 23, 2012 — The Walt Disney Studios unveils an all-new, original full-length CG-animated feature film, Secret of the Wings, starring Tinker Bell, one of Disney’s most beloved and iconic characters, along with her fairy friends (Fawn, Iridessa, Rosetta, Silvermist and Vidia) and introducing a sparkling new winter fairy, Periwinkle. Debuting on Blu-rayâ„¢ Combo Pack, DVD and Digital on October 23, 2012, the film marks the first time ever Tinker Bell will fly on Disney Blu-ray 3D.

For Tinker Bell and the other warm season fairies, the Winter Woods remains a mysterious and forbidden place. Secret of the Wings takes audiences on an amazing journey of discovery with Tink, into this forbidden world where she discovers a magical secret that changes her life forever.

A magical fairy adventure for the whole family, Secret of the Wings features a spectacular voice cast including Academy Award®-Winner Anjelica Huston (TV’s Smash), Timothy Dalton (TV’s Chuck, The Living Daylights), Lucy Liu (TV’s Southland, Charlie’s Angels), Raven-Symoné (TV’s That’s So Raven), Megan Hilty (TV’s Smash), Pamela Adlon (TV’s Californication), Matt Lanter (TV’s 90210), Debby Ryan (TV’s Jesse) and Mae Whitman (TV’s Parenthood), and introducing the sparkling new winter fairy, PERIWINKLE, voiced by Lucy Hale (TV’s Pretty Little Liars). A DisneyToon Studios production, the film is directed by Peggy Holmes, co-directed by Bobs Gannaway, and produced by Michael Wigert. John Lasseter serves as Executive Producer.

Secret of the Wings is Disney’s highly-anticipated all-new movie in the Tinker Bell Disney Fairies film franchise. These beautifully-animated films have ranked at the top of the home entertainment charts every year they have been released.

In addition to the all-new feature film, the spectacular animated release includes a host of exciting bonus features that extend the viewing experience, taking audiences deeper into the magical world of Disney Fairies. (More details forthcoming)

To celebrate the upcoming release of Secret of the Wings, Disney has launched a new destination in Facebook for parents to stay updated on Disney Fairies news as well as receive the best new content and activities that they can share with their children. Audiences can become a fan now at: https://www.facebook.com/DisneyFairies.

For the latest information on Secret of the Wings, fans are also encouraged to:

Log-on to www.Disney.com/SecretofTheWings to view film clips, etc…

Porn or Abstract Animation? (NSFW?)

All Luciano Foglia wanted to do was create an animation app exploring the “visual geometry containing the non-explicit description of sexual organs or activity.” Apple rejected it from their App Store on these grounds:

Apps that present excessively objectionable or crude content will be rejected. We found that many audiences would find your app concept objectionable, which is not in compliance with the App Store Review Guidelines.

Foglia’s piece suggests the power of abstraction in art. When placed in a certain sequence, even the simplest marriage of form and color can be considered “objectionable” and “crude.” Mason Gentry on Vimeo suggested a way for Foglia to extend his experiment:

“I think you should make it slightly more abstract, then resubmit the app. And if it gets rejected again, make it even more abstract. Continue the process until we have a definitive example of what Apple thinks is and isn’t porn.”

“Fleabag Monkeyface” To Return In April to CITV and ITV

Fleabag Monkeyface is a new animated series based on the bestselling books (The Disgusting Adventures of Fleabag Monkeyface) by Knife & Packer, one of the UK’s most successful children’s comedy writing teams.

It is co-produced by Sparky Animation Pte. Ltd., Impossible Kids, Walker Productions and Editude Pictures Pte. Ltd. and was commissioned in 2010 by CITV. Some of the first episodes of the series premiered on the channel in mid December 2011.

Now there are a brand new set of episodes ready to be shown in early April 2012 on CITV as well as ITV1 & ITV1HD. This is a short teaser trailer of what can you can expect in the forthcoming adventures.

A Case Study of “Defective Detective”: What To Do With Your Finished Student Short

It’s the time of year when many of our student readers are finishing up their student films, and inevitably there will be lots of questions: Should I submit my film to festivals? Should I post my film online? Will posting my film online hurt my festival chances? Avner Geller, the co-director of the Student Academy Award-winning short Defective Detective, has shared his personal experiences dealing with these issues in this must-read blog post. He addresses the myth that festivals disqualify filmmakers if a film is posted online, however, Avner points out that both the Student Academy Awards and SIGGRRAPH’s Computer Animation Festival require filmmakers to keep their films off the Internet. Take heed of that advice if qualifying for either of those events is part of your gameplan.

Also, I shouldn’t let this moment pass without pointing out that Geller’s film debuted online last year as part of Cartoon Brew’s Student Animation Festival. It has been the most viewed film in our festival with over 425,000 views to date. We’ll be launching the 2012 edition of the student animation festival shortly–stay tuned to Cartoon Brew for submission details.

“Made of Imagination” By Wes Anderson

Wes Anderson (Fantastic Mr. Fox) returns to animation – stop-motion animation – to cleverly illustrate a child’s conception of how Sony’s Xperia smartphone works. The animation, created at Laika/house, was directed by stop motion veteran Mark Gustafson, who also directed the animation in Fantastic Mr. Fox. Tiny bits of behind-the-scenes footage here. Or just watch the commercial.

(via Mashable)

“Easy Way” by Juan David Velasquez Bedoya

Easy Way (Camino Fácil) by Juan David Velasquez Bedoya is from Bogota, Colombia, a country where CG animation is just starting to emerge. It’s about 8-minutes and well worth a look. It’s a metaphor for life, as Juan David explains:

Easy Way is the story of a man who, from childhood to adulthood, is prepared to follow a specific path. When he begins his travels, he discovers that it is more difficult than he thought. He decides to change course to a path that seems easier, but the travel is equally difficult – and he’s unprepared for this new challenge.

Disney Junior Channel To Launch March 23 in U.S.

Disney Junior, the multiplatform brand for kids age 2-7, their parents and caregivers, is ready to take its next big step when it launches as a 24-hour channel this FRIDAY, MARCH 23 (12:00 midnight, ET). Leveraged by the strength of its inaugural affiliate partners Comcast, Time Warner Cable, Cablevision, Bright House Networks and Verizon, the new channel showcases classic and new Disney characters and stories and embraces the same magical storytelling with heart that generations of fans have come to know and love from Disney Parks and Disney movies.

DisneyJunior.com also debuts a whole new look on Friday and will continue to deliver a complete digital experience including full episodes, games, activity guides, coloring pages and more.

Later this year, Comcast subscribers will have access to WATCH Disney Junior, an authenticated live simulcast of Disney Junior across a variety of platforms and devices (computers, smart phones and tablets) both in- and out-of-the-home. WATCH Disney Junior will also offer Comcast subscribers priority access to on-demand episodes online.

Nancy Kanter, Senior Vice President and General Manager, Disney Junior Worldwide, said, “Parents have asked us for more of the Disney brand essence they know and love and stories that can also serve as learning tools.” She continued, “They also want the choice of a dedicated destination for young viewers and now, through smart, funny, well-told stories with wonderful characters — all the hallmarks of a great Disney experience — we’re ready to deliver a 24-hour destination unlike any other on television.”

Disney Junior already has momentum as an ongoing daily programming block on Disney Channel and, with an emphasis on story and character, it has engaged the youngest viewers and expanded its demographic to reach ages 2-7.

Disney Junior also fulfills parents’ expectations for learning-focused programming that encourage social and emotional development as well as cognitive skills. The curriculum is guided by a council of academic experts in transmedia, storytelling, early education, language development, diversity, emotional learning, digital trends and literacy.

The channel’s programming schedule is anchored by the new original series Doc McStuffins (weekdays at 4:00 and 7:30 p.m., weekends at 10:00 a.m. and 7:30 p.m.), favorites Jake and the Never Land Pirates (weekdays at 5:30 and 6:00 p.m., weekends at 4:30 and 8:30 p.m.) and Mickey Mouse Clubhouse (weekdays at 3:30 and 6:30 and 7:00 p.m., weekends at 5:00 and 5:30 p.m.) and in the “winding the day down, getting ready for bedtime” timeslots (6:00-8:30 p.m.): The Magical World of Disney Junior movies including Toy Story 2 Friday, March 23, Beauty and the Beast on Saturday, March 24 and The Princess and the Frog on Sunday, March 25 (6:00 p.m.) the animated series Guess How Much I Love You (weekdays, 8:30 p.m.), Gaspard & Lisa (weekdays, 8:00 p.m.) and the short-form series Quiet Is…

Other favorite series on the Disney Junior channel schedule are: Little Einsteins, Handy Manny, Octonauts, Jungle Junction, Special Agent Oso” “Chuggington and “Timmy Time, Tinga Tinga Tales, Bunnytown (in a short-form series), Imagination Movers, Johnny and the Sprites, Lilo & Stitch, 101 Dalmatians, Higglytown Heroes, Timon & Pumbaa, The Koala Brothers, The Little Mermaid, Charlie and Lola, JoJo’s Circus, Rolie Polie Olie and Stanley.

In 2011, year to year, the Disney Junior programming block grew 28% among Kids 2-5, 39% among Boys 2-5, 16% among Girls 2-5 and 12% among Women 18-49.  Disney Junior’s flagship series Jake and the Never Land Pirates is the #1 cable TV series among Boys 2-5 and the premiere of the special Jake and the Never Land Pirates: Peter Pan Returns! is the most watched cable telecast in nearly 10 years among Kids 2-5 (based on Live+7 data, 4.661 million Total Viewers and 1.846 Kids 2-5).

Disney Junior has launched as its own channel in 144 countries, in nearly 67 million households.  It is available in 21 languages.