C.H. Greenblatt is the creator of the Cartoon Network series Chowder, part of the production crew on the Disney series Fish Hooks, and the creator of a new series pilot that has recently been completed for Nickelodeon called Bad Seeds.
C.H. keeps a blog with funny drawings and sketchbook doodles here. An older blog here stretches back through the Chowder production era, beginning in 2006. He also contributes to the Unofficial Official Fish Hooks Bloghere, which offers a glimpse into the the production of that show.
C.H. is generous with advice. He often responds to readers’ questions on his blog, and the answers offer valuable insights into his methods.
A recent post included a sneak peek at some of the background artwork and background characters from the Bad Seeds pilot.
The 16th edition of the Holland Animation Festival wrapped up earlier today in Utrecht, The Netherlands. Hisko Hulsing’s Junkyard won the top prize for Dutch animation, while Jérémy Clapin’s latest film Palmipedarium took home the festival’s top prize for narrative animated shorts.
The Short Film jury was comprised of Gabriella Giandelli (Italy), Steven Subotnick (United States) and Marc James Roels (Belgium). The Feature Film jury consisted of Hans Walther (Netherlands), Luca Raffaelli (Italy) and Frans Westra (Netherlands). Student Film jury was Marc Bertrand (Canada), Chris Sullivan (United States) and René Windig (Netherlands), and Dutch prize jury was Nik Christensen (UK/Netherlands), Ton Gloudemans (Netherlands) and Dennis Tupicoff (Australia).
This one is new to me. The Picasso Summer is a 1969 feature based on a Ray Bradbury short story. It includes an impressively lengthy animated sequence based on Picasso’s artwork that holds up on its own.
The animation is credited to Wes Herschensohn, who was a producer on the film and also an animation veteran. But this in-depth article about the film claims the animation was produced by John and Faith Hubley. Based on the style, it’s entirely plausible that the Hubleys provided the animation, though I’ve never heard of them being associated with the project. Whoever made this, it’s a unique interpretation of Picasso’s artwork into animation, and deserves more attention than it has received.
When you invite certified Disney legend Walt Peregoy (Sleeping Beauty, 101 Dalmatians, Sword in the Stone) to visit a studio, you never know what you’ll hear, but be prepared for plenty of salty language, politically incorrect views, and uncomfortable laughter from the audience. Here’s a recently unearthed video of the 87-year-old Peregoy visiting Walt Disney Animation Studios last year for an in-house exhibit of his artwork.
Peregoy, who gives new meaning to ‘extemporaneous’ speaking, offered some choice thoughts to his colleagues:
On Walt Disney:
Walt Disney was a shit…We made Walt. Walt didn’t make Walt. Walt was an asshole.
On contemporary animation:
There’s nothing on TV or on the screen that’s worth a shit. If I’m insulting some of you, I don’t give a shit, because it’s all shit.
On classic hand-drawn animation:
That was real animation. And even with all the technology [today], it still isn’t that good, is it?
On layout artist Ernie Nordli:
Great artist. Very humble. So humble he committed suicide.
On his role at Disney:
I take credit. Boy, if it wasn’t for me, Disney’s and all those features wouldn’t amount to a pile of shit.
On asserting yourself as an artist:
Producers want to be the one, and the art directors want to be the one. If any of you here are artists, assert yourself. I mean it…assert yourself. So tell those bastards to get off the pot…Each and every one of you have talent that you don’t even admit to, but take it in your own hands and run with it…Because who you are—your talent—is the most important thing in this world.
The next major animated release in the U.S. will be Blue Sky’s Epic, out on May 24th. Fox just released this new trailer for the Chris Wedge-directed film.
This trailer has a lot of the same shots from the original trailer, but it’s very different in tone. Also, Aziz Ansari’s slug character now says, “What’s going on, girl?” whereas in the first trailer he said, “What’s going on, babygirl?” This makes me wish so badly that I could have been a part of the meeting where they discussed the nuances of a slug saying ‘girl’ versus ‘babygirl.’
The trailer has the same top-level quality we’ve come to expect from Blue Sky—lush production design, appealing characters, funny bits of animation, and gorgeous lighting. Frankly, I’m always impressed with the individual elements of Blue Sky’s films, even if those elements never seem to add up into a satisfying film experience. But Epic looks promising, and I’ve got high hopes that they’ll pull it together into a solid package.
I’m sure DreamWorks had the purest of intentions when they enlisted their superstar animator James Baxter to teach children how to draw characters like Eep and Guy from The Croods. But we all know how these tutorials will be put to use by the Internet. (All links NSFW in the last sentence.)
They’ve even made a “Gran” tutorial for the gerontophiles:
And please, I beg of you, if you do anything smutty with this character, don’t show me:
Snoopy and the rest of the Peanuts gang have been spokestoons for the insurance giant MetLife for nearly 30 years. The ads are rarely anything beyond the ordinary, but this latest one has an inventive conceptual approach that I liked.
Ogilvy & Mather-owned Redworks produced the spot, and Polish studio Platige Image provided visual effects/post work.
Director: Sam Tootal
Agency: Ogilvy + Mather
Production house: Redworks
Postproduction house: Platige Image
Producer: Kasia Chodak
To conclude our week of exploring (a few) of the crew members on The Croods, let’s take a look at the work of Gabriele Pennacchioli, who served as a story artist on the film.
Gabriele’s blog is where you can see more of his personal work, such as his “Young Minotaur” character who battles all kinds of other creatures. He released a collection of these drawings as a book in 2008, which is still available here.
Scrolling further through his blog you’ll also find some other spear-wielding people, panthers, a cyclops and all sorts of expertly executed cartoon drawings.
Chris Sanders and Kirk De Micco’s The Croods opens today in the United States along with over 45 other countries. Critics haven’t been particularly kind, and the film has a mild 62% rating on Rotten Tomatoes (as of this writing). Typical comments include Richard Corliss in Time who complained that, “The family-dramedy genre that the film inhabits demands a bit more narrative ingenuity than is on display,” and Leslie Felperin in Variety who wrote that the film “adopts a relatively primitive approach to storytelling with its Flintstonian construction of stock, ill-fitting narrative elements.”
The good news is that mainstream audiences disagree with the critics. They’ve given The Croods a robust 87% audience rating on Rotten Tomatoes.
So who do you agree with? Check out the film and report back here with your opinion in the comments below. As usual, the talkback is open only to those who have actually seen the film and wish to share an opinion about it.
Fans of Aleksandr Petrov (The Cow, The Old Man and the Sea) will appreciate this ad he created for Russian Railways using his trademark paint-on-glass technique. The spot celebrates the 175th anniversary of railways in Russia.
Continuing our week of looking into the work of The Croods crew, take a look at the work of Louie del Carmen who was a story artist on the movie. Louie’s website gallery features drawings, sketches, and examples of his storyboard work.
Louie regularly produces personal projects such as original books and comics in addition to the work that he does in television and feature animation.
Louie recently returned to television work from features to be a director for Dreamworks’ Dragons: Riders of Berk.
We can’t seem to get over our obsession with the caveman, who has appeared on screen since at least 1912. In fact, anthropologist Judith Berman has written that a new caveman character has been introduced into pop culture every year since World War II.
DreamWorks’ The Croods, directed by Chris Sanders and Kirk De Micco, presents the most recent version of prehistoric man; Grug, is a responsible father facing such dad-like issues as a teenage daughter who just wants to be her own person. He transcends the behavior expected of a typical caveman, but his character design doesn’t evolve past a stereotype that is largely of our own making.
We’ve distilled an entire subspecies of human down to a single iconic image, one that is perpetuated year after year through film, animation, comic art and bad Halloween costumes. The caveman is always brutish, dressed in some type of fur loin cloth and possessing limited intelligence. Some stereotypes of prehistoric humans are certainly based on archeological facts: the structure of the skull, anatomical proportions and pelt-based wardrobe. But other stereotypes, such as wielding clubs, communing with dinosaurs and pulling women by the hair, are our own projections of prehistoric behavior.
The iconic caveman image we know today was already established by the 1930s, seen in the comic strip Alley Oop. He carried a stone axe, manhandled women and rode a dinosaur named Dinny. Alley Oop, along with the Fleischer’s Stone Age Cartoonsseries, was a response to western society grappling with what it meant to be modern. The simple world of the caveman was a nostalgic comfort to those who feared progress.
Alley Oop was the pop culture bookend of a caveman fiction trend that began in the 19th century. One of the earliest examples is Paris Before Man, a novel written by Pierre Boitard in 1861. The frontispiece print (above) shows a club-wielding caveman, protecting his mate. As the genre developed, the caveman became more brutish and ill-mannered—an 1886 short story written by Andrew Lang describes a marriage custom in which women are “knocked on the head and dragged home.” By the 1920s, numerous newspaper headlines used “caveman” and “neanderthal” as adjectives to describe senseless male brutality.
The mid-century resurgence of cavemen in film (The Neanderthal Man, Monster on Campus), comics (B.C.) and television (The Flintstones) can partly be blamed on World War II rhetoric. Newscasters sang the praises of atomic power while warning of its devastating potential to send us back to a new Stone Age. To help us deal with these fears, the caveman was domesticated; The Flintstones showed that, even as the worst case scenario, the Stone Age wasn’t so bad. Even cavemen could wear neckties and accomplish an honest day’s work.
Over time, films and TV shows have moved away from the wife-clubbing caveman of the 19th century to fit G-rated expectations of civilized society. In fact, The Croods has pushed the caveman to the opposite end of the spectrum, with a father figure that seems like he could handle modern-day discussions of co-parenting and all-terrain strollers. No longer a commentary on uncivilized man or our fears of the future, the caveman and his era presented in The Croods is merely a backdrop ideal for contrasting our modern reality of iPods and WiFi.
On Friday, DreamWorks Animation will release Chris Sanders and Kirk De Micco’s The Croods, the company’s 26th feature. It will also be the first one released under their new distribution deal with Fox.
Box Office Guru predicts that Croods will open with a $39 million weekend. Box Office Mojo forecasts the film will earn between $40-44 million. Variety says the film is tracking north of $40 million, and even has a shot of reaching Wreck-It Ralph’s $49 million opening weekend. Not in question is that the film will be huge internationally. It opens day-and-date in over 45 countries tomorrow, and predictions are in the $300 million range for overseas opening weekend.
Now, it’s your turn. We are going to find out whether the collective knowledge of the animation community can accurately predict an animated film’s opening weekend. The poll below will remain open through Saturday early-afternoon. Read up on the links above, and then make your best guess for how much The Croods will gross on its US opening weekend.
Survey is now closed. Check back on Sunday for the results.