This is the eighth Christmas we’ve celebrated on Cartoon Brew, and in all that time, we’ve never posted the holiday special Ziggy’s Gift. Today marks the end of your Ziggyless holidays. Ziggy’s Gift is quite charming, and the production values are far better than they need to be—especially considering that it was produced in 1982 and it’s…well…Ziggy. No surprise then that the director was Richard Williams and the animation supervisor was a 27-year-old Eric Goldberg.
Back in 2007 and again in 2010 I posted about Acme Filmworks’ incredible boxed sets of award winning animated shorts, The Animation Show of Shows. Today, I’m happy to report Acme has released a third set of three boxes (containing 18 more discs, an additional 54 shorts). And here is another unabashed plug:
First the basics: The animated shorts collected here are celebrated works of independent artists, every film carefully curated and lovingly presented – and in the case of several older films, beautifully restored. Each box set contains six DVDs, each disc containing three shorts, held in its own slip case illustrated with still art from the film and a bio of each director. In this day and age of You Tube, digital downloads and micro screens on hand-held devices, I believe it’s important to preserve the great films of our time on physical DVDs, in compilations such as this.
This latest compilation contains new HD restorations of classic films like The Man Who Planted Trees, Crac!, Bitz Butz, Hot Stuff, Every Child, and The Street. There are multiple Academy Award Winners including La Maison en Petite Cubes, Logorama, The Fantastic Flying Books of Mr. Morris Lessmore and The Lost Thing.
I am always struck by the the variety of styles included here. From the hand-drawn antics of Bill Plympton (The Cow Who Wanted To Be A Hamburger), and Geefwee Boedoe (Let’s Pollute), to the painterly wonders of Amanda Forbis and Wendy Tilby’s Wild Life and Jason Carpenter’s The Renter; along with the latest CG innovations (Till Nowaks’ The Centrifuge Brain Project, Damian Nenow’s incredible Paths of Hate, among others), there’s style and technique to spare. Unless you’ve attended the competitions at Ottawa or Annecy for the last ten or fifteen years you probably haven’t seen all of these before and I’ll tell ya, there isn’t a bad film in the bunch. Click here to read the entire content list.
To say this is an important compilation is an understatement. These are vital for any serious animation library and required viewing for students and all who want to see some of the best shorts ever made. Owning them on DVD is the way to go. As you can tell, I cannot praise Acme’s Animation Show of Shows DVDs highly enough. For complete contents and ordering information, visit filmporium.com. The dvds are very reasonably priced — 3 films on each DVD for $5 dollars. Each DVD is offered individually or available in the 6-DVD Box Sets for $30 each. Needless to say, I highly recommend.
I’m a big fan of Aaron Long’s Fester Fish cartoons. Here’s his latest – a Christmas Special – which was created on an abbreviated schedule: in three weeks.
Ok, call off the search. I’ve found this year’s best animated Christmas greeting, and it’s by none other than Cyriak:
Andreas Deja is a modern-day animation legend. He worked for 30 years at Disney where he was responsible for classic characters such as Gaston in Beauty and the Beast, Jafar in Aladdin, Scar in The Lion King, and Lilo in Lilo and Stitch. He left the studio a couple years ago to focus on personal projects, including producing independent animated films. This morning, Andreas teased audiences with a preview from his short film Mushka, featuring a girl and tiger as the lead characters. The film, which will be animated in a colored pencil style, is “a story of love and sacrifice set in Russia.”
On his blog, which also includes development sketches of the characters, Deja pointed out that he still has a long road ahead of him. He’s been working on story and pre-production this year, and plans to animate the film in 2013.
Japanese design studio Tymote has finally answered the age-old question: What if Wassily Kandinsky used Cinema 4D? A remix of Clammbon’s “Rough and Laugh” comprises the other half of the synaesthetic viewing experience.
Brace yourself for one of the most creative animation cycles you’ll see this side of the Fleischer brothers. Social Satan was created by UK-based Sculpture, a collaboration between Reuben Sutherland (animation) and Dan Hayhurst (audio). We’ve featured their unique work in the past, which is printed onto picture-discs and then spun like a record at different RPMs.
A fun holiday greeting from comic legend Stan Lee and his new YouTube channel World of Heroes. Two of the artists involved with the piece—co-director David de Rooij and background artist Jelle Brunt—produced the Cartoon Brew Student Festival winner Slim Pickings Fat Chances.
Written and directed: World of Heroes, Matt Cooper, David de Rooij, Danny Seckel
Music By: Matt Cooper
Animation, Cleanup & Color: David de Rooij, Pedro Vargas, Linda Tijssen
Background: Jelle Brunt
Voices: Stan Lee, Kevin McShane, Matt Cooper
Sound design: Brett Houston, David de Rooij
Look out Turbo, here comes Dusty!
Disney has decided to chase after Dreamworks’ Turbo next summer with its movie “Cars-inspired” movie: Planes. Disney has just announced it will release this film theatrically on August 9th, 2013. Originally designed to go direct-to-DVD, Planes will now play in theatres all over the U.S. with Jon Cryer is voicing the lead plane, “Dusty”; Klay Hall (Tinker Bell and the Lost Treasure), an aviator himself, is directing.
We posted this teaser trailer over a year ago, here it is again to remind you what to expect.
Let’s make one thing clear upfront: this post is not intended to be an indictment of Bill Joyce’s creative abilities. Bill is one helluva of a talent. His self-produced animated short, The Fantastic Flying Books of Mr. Morris Lessmore, won the Oscar earlier this year. He’s a bestselling children’s book illustrator and author. He co-created the successful preschool series Rolie Polie Olie that ran for six seasons. He has been instrumental in jumpstarting a burgeoning tech scene in Louisiana. You could comfortably call him a Southern born-and-bred Walt Disney, and not be accused of hyperbole.
The William Joyce brand has been uniformly successful across various media platforms—except for one arena: CG animated features. The irony is that no artist has had as much personal success in having his ideas transformed into computer animated films as Joyce. He has produced three big-budget animated films at three different studios—Blue Sky’s Robots, Disney’s Meet the Robinsons, and DreamWorks’ The Rise of the Guardians. A fourth is on its way—Blue Sky’s Epic.
Deadline reported earlier this week that DreamWorks may take a $45 million write-down due to the poor performance of Rise of the Guardians. The film has grossed a paltry $72.9 million dollars after 29 days at the U.S. box office, and likely won’t break $100 million at the box office.
To put that into perspective, only two other DreamWorks CGI films have failed to reach the $100 mil domestic mark—the studio’s first CG feature, Antz, which made $90.7 million in 1998, and Flushed Away which pulled in $64.7 million in 2006. (The latter film was conceived and largely produced at the UK’s Aardman Animations.)
The performance of Rise of the Guardians falls in line with the tepid performances of Joyce’s other films. The first animated feature that he produced (and production designed) was Blue Sky’s Robots in 2005. That film grossed $128.2 domestically. It ranks as the lowest-grossing Blue Sky feature to date. (In the interest of full disclosure, I wrote the “art of” tie-in book for Robots.)
Joyce’s next feature, Disney’s 2007 effort Meet the Robinsons was based on the popular book A Day with Wilbur Robinson that he wrote and illustrated. That film grossed $97.8 million in the US, and is the lowest-grossing Disney feature in the John Lasseter-era of the studio. Neither Robots nor Meet the Robinsons performed well overseas either.
Joyce has maintained his reputation in feature film largely because the production process has been different on each film, as has his level of involvement. In the case of Robots, he didn’t write the script; he production designed the film and was intimately involved from a visual storytelling standpoint. The other two films have been based on his story ideas, but he hasn’t been involved as much visually as he was with Robots. The upcoming Blue Sky film Epic will be the first time that Joyce will both produce and production design a film that is based on one of his stories.
There’s also a strong argument to be made that Joyce’s involvement has nothing to do with the finished films. The films are only loosely based on his original ideas, and numerous other people mold the finished film besides Joyce.
For me, it begs the question: Why even use Joyce in the first place if studios deviate so wildly from his concepts. This was actually a lesson that Pixar learned the hard way. After Joyce had created concept art for Toy Story, Pixar invited him to direct an animated short at the studio. The experience didn’t end well, and all mentions of the unproduced short have been scrubbed from the studio’s official histories.
However, multiple people have told me that the experience with Joyce was instrumental in Pixar’s decision to develop film ideas in-house instead of working with outsiders and relying on pre-existing books or media properties as source material. Pixar, it has to be stressed, is absolutely unique in this regard; all other major animation studios have used pre-existing stories for their films, including Disney, DreamWorks, Blue Sky, Sony and Illumination. Pixar’s commitment to building ideas from scratch with artists who understand the medium best is among the reasons that the studio’s films are widely respected from a creative standpoint.
If this were baseball, Rise of the Guardians would have been Bill Joyce’s third strike in the world of big-budget CG-animated features. Thankfully, animation isn’t baseball, and Joyce will receive a fourth chance at CG feature success next May. Fox and Blue Sky’s Epic may prove once and for all whether there is such a thing as the “Bill Joyce curse.”
I know almost nothing about this upcoming Dreamworks film… other than it stars Ryan Reynolds (as Turbo) and Samuel L. Jackson, both playing snails… and that story artist David Soren pitched it and was given the shot to direct. 20th Century-Fox will release Turbo on July 19th.