Stephen Silver: “Stop Working For Free!”

Character designer Stephen Silver is mad as hell, and he’s not going to take it anymore. Silver, who is the designer of shows like Kim Possible and Danny Phantom, posted an impassioned YouTube video a few days ago urging young artists not to give their work away for free.

Silver’s message is simple but priceless: if you don’t respect your own creative skills, others won’t either. This has always been a difficult idea for creative people to grasp—myself included—because we enjoy what we do for a living. Most young artists don’t enter the animation field because they want to become rich; they do it because they love the art form. But not everyone shares that idealism. Businesspeople and corporations are in it purely for the money, and they will gladly not pay you what you’re worth if it enhances their bottom line.

Almost every creative person eventually comes around to the concept that Silver is advocating in his video. The sooner you do it in your career, the better off you will be.

“From Up On Poppy Hill” English trailer

Gkids is releasing Studio Ghilbi’s From Up On Poppy Hill to U.S. theaters on March 15th. The English dub of Goro Miyazaki’s film sounds pretty good…

From GKids press release:

Set in Yokohama in 1963, as Japan is picking itself up from the devastation of World War II and preparing to host the 1964 Olympics, the story centers on Umi and Shun, two high school kids caught up in the changing times. But a buried secret from their past emerges to cast a shadow on the future and pull them apart. With its rich color palette, stunning exteriors, sun-drenched gardens, bustling cityscapes and painterly detail, From Up on Poppy Hill provides a pure, sincere, and nuanced evocation of the past, and marks yet another creative triumph for Studio Ghibli.

Annie Award Winners

The International Animated Film Society, ASIFA-Hollywood, has announced the 2012 winners of its Annie Awards tonight at UCLA’s Royce Hall.

The winner for Best Animated Feature was Disney’s Wreck-It Ralph.

One of the big surprises of the evening was the presentation of a special Texas Avery Award for life achievement to June Foray. A picture of the statue June received is at the bottom of this post (scroll down to see it).

The complete list of winners is below:


Best Animated Feature
Wreck-It Ralph — Disney

Annie Award for Best Animated Special Production
Despicable Me: Minion Mayhem – Illumination Entertainment

Best Animated Short Subject
Paperman (Disney)

Best General Audience Animated TV Production For Preschool Children
Bubble Guppies ‘A Tooth on the Looth’ – Nickelodeon Animation Studios

Best Animated Television Production For Children
Dragons: Riders of Berk ‘How to Pick Your Dragon’ – DreamWorks Animation

Best General Audience Animated Television Production
Robot Chicken ‘DC Comics Special’ – Stoopid Buddy Studios

Animated Video Game
Journey – Sony Computer Entertainment America

Best Student Film
Head Over Heels – Timothy Reckart


Animated Effects in an Animated Production
Andy Hayes, Carl Hooper, David Lipton – Rise of the Guardians – DreamWorks Animation

Animated Effects in a Live Action Production
Jerome Platteaux, John Sigurdson, Ryan Hopkins, Raul Essig, Mark Chataway ‘The Avengers’ – Industrial Light & Magic

Character Animation in an Animated Television/Broadcast Production
Dan Driscoll ‘SpongeBob SquarePants: It’s a SpongeBob Christmas!’ – Nickelodeon Animation Studios

Character Animation in a Feature Production
Travis Knight “ParaNorman’ – Focus Features

Character Animation in a Live Action Production
Erik de Boer, Matt Shumway, Brian Wells, Vinayak Pawar, Michael Holzl ‘Life of Pi – Tiger’ – Rhythm & Hues Studio

Character Design in an Animated Television/Broadcast Production
Robert Valley ‘Disney Tron: Uprising: The Renegade, Part I’ – Disney TV Animation

Character Design in an Animated Feature Production
Heidi Smith ‘ParaNorman’ – Focus Features

Directing in an Animated Television/Broadcast Production
John Eng ‘Dragons: Riders of Berk: Animal House’ – DreamWorks Animation

Directing in an Animated Feature Production
Rich Moore ‘Wreck-It Ralph’ – Walt Disney Animation Studios

Music in an Animated Television/Broadcast Production
John Paesano ‘Dragons: Riders of Berk: How to Pick Your Dragon’ – DreamWorks Animation

Music in an Animated Feature Production
Henry Jackman, Adam Young, Matthew Thiessen, Jamie Houston, Yasushi Akimoto ‘Wreck-It Ralph’ – Walt Disney Animation Studios

Production Design in an Animated Television/Broadcast Production
Alberto Mielgo ‘Tron: Uprising: The Stranger’ – Disney TV Animation

Production Design in an Animated Feature Production
Steve Pilcher ‘Brave’ – Pixar Animation Studios

Storyboarding in an Animated Television/Broadcast Production
Doug Lovelace ‘Dragons: Riders of Berk: Portrait of Hiccup as a Buff Man’ – DreamWorks Animation

Storyboarding in an Animated Feature Production
Johanne Matte ‘Rise of the Guardians’ – DreamWorks Animation

Voice Acting in an Animated Television/Broadcast Production
Kristen Schaal as Mabel Pines ‘Gravity Falls: Tourist Trapped’ – Disney TV Animation

Voice Acting in an Animated Feature Production
Alan Tudyk as King Candy ‘Wreck-It Ralph’ – Walt Disney Animation Studios

Writing in an Animated Television/Broadcast Production
Trey Parker – ‘South Park: Jewpacabra’ – Central Productions

Writing in an Animated Feature Production
Phil Johnston, Jennifer Lee – Wreck-It Ralph – Walt Disney Animation Studios

Editorial in an Animated Television Production
Hugo Morales, Adam Arnold, Davrik Waeden, Otto Ferraye ‘Kung Fu Panda – Enter the Dragon’ – Nickelodeon Animation Studios

Editorial in an Animated Feature Production
Nicholas A. Smith, ACE, Robert Graham Jones, ACE, David Suther ‘Brave’ – Pixar Animation Studios


Winsor McCay Award – Oscar Grillo, Terry Gilliam, Mark Henn

June Foray Award – Howard Green

Ub Iwerks Award – Toon Boom Animation Pipeline

Terry Gilliam accepting his Winsor McCay Award via video…

The Texas Avery Award

How To Watch Philip Glass’s Walt Disney Opera “The Perfect American” Online

The new Philip Glass opera The Perfect American, based on Peter Stephan Jungk’s novel of the same name, debuted on January 22 the Teatro Real in Madrid. The opera, which was inspired by unflattering myths and half-truths about Walt Disney, has received mostly mild reviews in publications like the NY Times and Opera News, though the LA Times was enthusiastic. Spanish daily El Pais reports that crowds have been respectful if not ecstatic: “It won a long applause. It was not rapturous, far from it. But there was not a single boo.”

Don’t fret if you’re unable to make it to Madrid. You can see the opera from the comfort of your own home and make your own judgements about how successfully it portrays Disney’s life and worldview. The opera will be broadcast live on on February 6. It appears to be free, though the site requires registration. The opera will remain viewable for 90 days after its online debut.

Studio Ghibli’s “Ni no Kuni: Wrath of the White Witch” trailer

I know nothing of video games or Playstation… but this trailer for the just-released Ni no Kuni: Wrath of the White Witch has me very intrigued.

Not sure if this is Ghibli’s first foray into video games, but it’s the first one I’ve seen that looks like the real deal (even the music is by Miyazaki stalwart Joe Hisaishi). I’d love to hear more about the game itself from those who’ve already played it.

Spike & Mike Anniversary Screenings in La Jolla

It’s hard to imagine that not so long ago the only way to watch animated shorts from around the world was to attend a screening of Spike and Mike. The touring festival played an important role in promoting and legitimizing independent animation during the Eighties and Nineties, but it has become an anachronism in the age of YouTube, Vimeo and the endless stream of animation content online.

There’s still something to be said for watching great animated shorts on the bigscreen and with an audience. In that spirit, Spike and Mike will be screening a “30th anniversary” program of shorts during the month of February and March at the Museum of Contemporary Art San Diego—La Jolla (700 Prospect Street, La Jolla, CA 92037).

The anniversary celebration is a bit late—this is actually the festival’s 36th year of existence—but who’s counting. The shorts that will be screened in the program include:

Pixels by Patrick Jean
Bunny by Chris Wedge
Creature Comforts by Nick Park
Loon by Jan Bitzer
For the Birds by Ralph Eggleston
Paths of Hate by Damian Nenow
The Big Snit by Richard Condie
Guard Dog by Bill Plymptom
Oktapodi by Julien Bocabeille, François-Xavier Chanioux, Olivier Delabarre, Thierry Marchand, Quentin Marmier and Emud Mokhberi
The Saga of Bjorn by Benjamin J. Kousholt, Daniel D. Christensen, Mads Lundgaard Christensen, Jesper A. Jensen, Jonas K. Doctor, Steffen Lyhne, Pernille Ørum-Nielsen, Frederik Bjerre-Poulsen, and Jonas Georgakakis
Grasshoppers by Bruno Bozzetto
Animator vs. Animation by Alan Becker
The Deep by PES
Seed by Johnny Kelly
Bambi Meets Godzilla by Marv Newland
Mona Lisa Descending a Staircase by Joan Gratz

Of note, on February 9th and 10th, Simpsons director David Silverman will appear at the screenings in La Jolla to sign autographs, and on March 1st and 2nd, Wreck-It Ralph director Rich Moore will attend. Go HERE for showtimes and ticket info.

Book Review: “Sick Little Monkeys: The Unauthorized Ren & Stimpy Story”

bookI may be risking my 30-year friendship with John Kricfalusi by saying this, but Thad Komorowski’s new book, Sick Little Monkeys: The Unauthorized Ren & Stimpy Story, is a really great read. Beyond that, Thad went to great lengths – without the cooperation of John K or anyone at Nickelodeon – to research the history of the show and its participants, and to tell a compelling and cautionary tale of rags-to-riches cartoon success in contemporary Hollywood. The story is woven together through extensive interviews with key players including Bob Camp, Billy West, Bob Jaques and a dozen others – Komorowski also traces Spumco’s roots from John’s early days with Filmation and Bakshi, with extensive critiques of the Ren & Stimpy cartoons themselves (a complete episode guide is included in the appendix), through to the latter day excesses of the Spike shows. The whole story is here, meticulously researched, clearly justifying the show’s important role in the recent history of animation. There’s no question Spumco changed the face of television animation – and still influences series, students and independent animators today. Love it or hate it, this book explains how it all came to be – and for that, it’s a must-read.