Motion capture can aid good storytelling and good filmmaking. This film is a demo of a new performance-capture technique from David Cage’s Paris-based game studio Quantic Dream. It’s very gripping and gets right to the heart – and doesn’t venture into uncanny valley. Definitely worth a look. Eurogamer has posted an interview with Cage about this test.
Nickelodeon announced today a new animated shorts program designed to develop comedy-driven content. According to the press release, available in its entirety on CB Biz:
As part of the program, ten, 60 second shorts will be made with the potential of becoming long-form animated comedy series which will air on the network or Nick.com.
Created to expand on Nickelodeon’s animation comedy development slate, the shorts program is designed to attract new talent to develop both artist and comedian-driven shorts. Ideas will be solicited from in-house and outside talent including artists, designers, writers and directors who will be provided artistic support to produce their short depending on their level of experience. In addition, selected comedians will be partnered up with the artistic and production support necessary to complete their short.
Guidelines for those interested in participating in the program are posted here. All animation styles and techniques are encouraged from 2D to digital 2D, stop motion, CG or mixed media. The deadline for entries is March 30 at 6 p.m. PT. The animated shorts will be produced at the Nickelodeon Animation Studios in Burbank, Calif.
It’s been a while since we’ve heard of a new personal project by Guilherme Marcondes (Tyger, Into Pieces), but this teaser for his next short suggests that it’s been worth the wait. The Master’s Voice–a mix of live action, drawn and CG animation–is “the story of the city-island of M., a decadent metropolis inhabited only by ghosts and ghouls.”
File this one under “Things I Did Not Know About Dick Clark.” Apparently, he owns a one-bedroom Flintstones-inspired home in Malibu, and the LA Times reports that he’s selling it for $3.5 million, though the asking price doesn’t reflect the value of the home so much as it does the 23-acre plot of land it sits on. If you’re curious, here’s the full home tour in all its stone-age goodness.
Artist/animator Gabriela Fernández from Buenos Aires, Argentina, started this spacey little stop-mo short in 2008 and it’s been on her computer all this time, until today – when she decided to post it online. And I’m glad she did.
If you’re gonna crap all over The Lorax, you might need this:
The Lorax became the number #1 movie in the country last weekend, and part of that success was establishing merchandising tie-ins with numerous licensees. But here’s one even last year’s Winnie The Pooh (a more appropriate match) didn’t think of. Apparently the 7th Generation company is selling all sorts of eco-friendly Lorax products including these “Lorax-approved” baby diapers. For those Seuss collectors who have to have everything, you better hurry: they are a limited edition – and yeah, images of the little orange Danny DeVito voiced creature are printed on the tab fastener of the diaper.
Starting tonight is the 2012 Los Angeles Animation Festival at the Showcase Theatre in Hollywood (near the corner of La Brea and Melrose). This evening at 7:30pm is a FREE Opening Night Party with MC Tom Kenny who will introduce special guests, clips and trailers of the films to be screened.
The complete schedule of events is posted here but highlights include Sean Lennon introducing a screening of AKIRA on Thursday night; Brad Bird introducing THE IRON GIANT along with several artists and voice actors from the film on Friday night; the West Coast premiere of A MONSTER IN PARIS on Saturday night; and vintage Cal Arts student films by Lasseter, Hillenberg, Selick, Tartakovsky and McCracken on Sunday. I myself will be co-presenting an ASIFA screening of a 35mm Technicolor print of Fleischer’s Gulliver’s Travels (1939), on Saturday at 5:30pm.
The theatre is located at 614 N. LaBrea Ave. and parking will be difficult – but the tickets are relatively cheap and the shows are terrific. For more info click here. See you there!
Halifax animator Joel Mackenzie has created a mini-epic using P:U:S:H by Rich Aucoin as his track. Yeah, its derivative of contemporary cable TV cartoons, but it has its own energy, style and charm to spare. I’m liking it.
Robert B. Sherman, the elder half of the songwriting duo aka The Sherman Brothers passed away yesterday in London. He was 86.
Robert (above left) with his brother Richard (center) were Walt Disney’s favorite song composers of the 1960s. Some of their classic songs include Chim Chim Cher-ee (the Oscar winner from Mary Poppins), The Tiki Tiki Tiki Room, The Ugly Bug Ball, The Wonderful World of Color, I Wan’na Be Like You, There’s a Great Big Beautiful Tomorrow, It’s A Small World …and hundreds of others.
Robert and Richard began their songwriting career on a dare from their hit-song writing dad, Al Sherman (You Gotta Be a Football Hero), and sold their first song in 1951 to Gene Autry. Among their early hits were You’re Sixteen (for Johnny Burnette and later Ringo Starr) and Tall Paul (for Annette). After their time at Disney, the duo wrote songs for various animated features including Disney’s The Aristocats, Hanna-Barbera’s Charlottes Web, Snoopy Come Home, Little Nemo, The Mighty Kong, and not to mention the live action Chitty Chitty Bang Bang. I’m leaving so many things out. If you haven’t seen it, I highly recommend the 2009 Sherman Brothers documentary, directed by their sons, The Boys.
They wrote many incedental bits and theme songs – all of them memorable. I’m particularly fond of the title sequences in The Mis-Adventures of Merlin Jones and The Monkey’s Uncle. Since this is an animation blog, we’ll leave you with this one, with cut-out animation by Bill Justice and X. Atencio:
Please share your favorite Sherman Bros. songs in the comments.
Illumination Entertainment’s The Lorax exceeded expectations and debuted in first place with a stunning $70.2 million last weekend. That places it in eighth place for all-time biggest openings for an animated film, and fourth-best for a non-sequel animated film. The success of the film validates the producer-driven approach to animated filmmaking taken by Illumination head Chris Meledandri, who exercises tight control over the casting, writing and creative direction of his films. It’s a page straight of Jeffrey Katzenberg’s DreamWorks playbook and, for better or worse, Meledandri is proving that it can work for producers without the initials JK.
Meanwhile, in its third weekend, Studio Ghibli’s The Secret World of Arrietty grabbed $1.5 million from 1,431 US theaters. The film landed in 14th place, but had the lowest per-theater average of any film in the top 20. Its US total now stands at $16.8 million.
Nigerian animator Adamu Waziri is the creator of a new animated series Bino and Fino, an African-produced preschool TV series that aims to show a more acccurate representation of children growing up on the African continent. In the interview below, which is well worth viewing, Waziri talks about how Africa is portrayed by Western entertainment companies: “When Disney does something about Africa, you get singing animals, safari. You don’t see any buildings, you don’t see any people in a house, you don’t see people living a normal urban life, like in Lagos, Abuja, wherever in Africa you are.”
It’s not just misrepresentation by American media conglomerates, but also underrepresentation. Nick and Cartoon Network have African channnels that make no effort to represent their viewership in those regions. In Africa, Nick airs Dora the Explorer, The Mighty B!, and Ni Hao, Kai-Lan but features no African characters in its TV series.
In this recent CNN article, Waziri talks about the challenges of home-grown animation in Nigeria. Sponsors still aren’t used to the slow production time of animation, especially when Nollywood features are produced in a month or less, and many Nigerians still have a “West is best” mentality. But he maintains a positive outlook and recognizes the possibilities for animation in the world’s second most populated continent: “Nigeria and other parts of Africa aren’t poor, you have businessmen, the infrastructure, the ability to link up and make studios, finance it and sponsor it and make the market–stop waiting for Disney to do it, do it yourself.”