Frenzer Foreman Animation Forum #1: Liz Artinian


Cartoon Brew’s new podcast Frenzer Foreman Animation Forum debuts today with guest Liz Artinian.

Liz is the owner of the Brooklyn-based art gallery Bunnycutlet as well as the organizer of Too Art for TV, the annual art show devoted to showcasing the personal art of East Coast animation artists.

She’s also done plenty of work in animation, serving as the color supervisor on The Venture Brothers and the first few seasons of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles revival, as well as painting backgrounds on Metalocalypse, to name just a few series. See her work at LizArtinian.com.

Executive Pay at DreamWorks Animation Was Up in 2012

Whew, for a second there, we were worried that DreamWorks Animation was struggling, but if their executive pay is any indication, they’re doing just fine. The Hollywood Reporter reports that executive pay at DreamWorks rose significantly in 2012.

Jeffrey Katzenberg’s compensation rose 31% from $4 million to $5.24 million. Katzenberg, who has typically taken a $1 annual salary and has waived option awards in the past, still earns a pittance compared to other major media honchos, like Viacom’s Philippe Dauman who took home $33.45 million last year and Disney’s Bob Iger whose pay package totalled $37.1 million.

The same Reporter article also offered numbers on other DreamWorks execs:

As for other executives at the company, COO Ann Daly’s compensation increased from $3 million to $4.6 million and CMO Anne Globe’s compensation was upped from about $2.3 million to $2.8 million. Losing out was Lewis Coleman, president and CFO, whose compensation package decreased from $3.7 million to under $3.2 million.

“Kairos” is the Most Exciting Hand-Drawn Animation You’ll See Today

What’s that? You say that no one is making exciting 2D animation anymore? You say that you’d like to see some drawn animation that’s so fun and entertaining it’ll bring tears to your eyes? Well, we have just the thing for you. Kairos is a one-of-a-kind action-packed trailer for a new French comic book that looks pretty amazing in its own right.

The promo was produced by Studio La Cachette, a young Paris-based outfit founded by four Gobelins graduates: Nuno Alves Rodgrigues, Oussama Bouacheria, Julien Chheng, and Ulysse Malassagne.

CREDITS
Réalisation & Production: Studio La Cachette

Idée Originale & Direction Artistique: Ulysse Malassagne

Storyboard: Oussama Bouacheria

Dévelopement Visuel: Nuno Alves Rodrigues, Alice Dieudonné, Julien Chheng, Ulysse Malassagne, Rémi Salmon

Animation: Nuno Alves Rodrigues, Oussama Bouacheria, Alice Bissonnet, Julien Chheng, Hanne Galvez, Rachid Guendouze, Sandrine Han Jin Kuang, Ulysse Malassagne, Stéphanie Mercier, Bung Nguyen, Stéphanie Pavoine, Julien Perron

Décors: Alice Dieudonné, Ulysse Malassagne

Compositing: Ulysse Malassagne

Design Sonore et Mixage: Florian Calmer

Musique: X-Ray Dog

Artist of the Day: Mr. Doob

Mr Doob

Ricardo “Mr. Doob” Cabello is an innovator in using WebGL technology in modern web browsers to create advanced interactivity and real-time animation.

Mr Doob

WebGL is described on the technology page of one of the projects that he worked on as a technical director:

WebGL is a context of the HTML5 canvas element that enables hardware-accelerated 3D graphics in the web browser without a plug-in. In other words, it enables your browser to show some really beautiful visuals.

Mr Doob

Mr Doob

Mr Doob

That particular project (stills shown above) is an interactive music video for “Black” from the album ROME by Danger Mouse and Daniel Luppi, with Norah Jones on vocals. You can see a talk he gave about the creation of this video here. Notably this video also includes 2D animation from Anthony F. Schepperd, previously featured on Cartoon Brew here and here.

Mr Doob

Ricardo has a blog here where he shares things such as this valuable advice that applies to all creative freelancers. His Mr. Doob interactive portfolio is here which you should access with a modern browser such as Google Chrome to best enjoy all of his strange and cheeky web experiments.

Mr Doob

Mr Doob

DreamWorks Animation’s Chinese Arm Announces Live-Action Movie Franchise

DreamWorks Animation is moving into live-action. At a Beijing news conference last week, Jeffrey Katzenberg announced a co-production agreement between Oriental DreamWorks and the Chinese state-owned China Film Group Corp. The deal will result in a movie franchise based on the bestselling Chinese book series Tibet Code.

Katzenberg said that the film will become “China’s Indiana Jones,” while China Film Group chairman Han Sanping proclaimed that the film’s “characters represent traditional Chinese culture and Chinese morality.”

The Wall Street Journal offers the most in-depth piece I’ve read about the new Tibet Code deal. In the same article, they report that Oriental DreamWorks is working on its first production, Kung Fu Panda 3.

Amazon’s Animated Pilots Are A Big Disappointment

Last Friday, Amazon released 14 pilots on their online streaming service in the latest bid by an Internet company to unseat network TV and cable. Of the shows, six pilots are geared towards children (five of which are either animated or partially animated), and eight are geared toward adults (two of which are animated).

As part of a gimmicky marketing strategy, Amazon is soliciting feedback from viewers to help them decide which shows should be turned into series. Judging from the pilots though, traditional TV execs have little to worry about—at least for now. I can’t speak for the live-action shows, but the animated series are half-baked concepts that are a few notches below any of the successful shows on children’s cable. (How does something called Creative Galaxy even make it past a pitch stage?)

Roy Price, the executive in charge of Amazon Originals, is a former Disney TV animation exec so there is little excuse for the unpolished, amateur feel of these animation pilots. And just to be clear, amateur is not referring to the fact that the animated projects are presented in animatic format, although one could question the wisdom of unveiling a new studio to the general public in such a clumsy manner. But even fully-animated pilots woudn’t mask the conceptual flaws in most these shows.

One could conjecture about why Amazon botched their pilots so badly, but the LA Times article about their pilot program offers a big clue. In that article, Price touts that they used Amazon rental and viewership data to help them decide what pilots they should produce.

[Roy] Price describes Amazon Studios’ process as a hybrid, that draws from elements of old and new media. It used the service’s rental and viewing history to identify the shows that resonate with its customers, and which new ones might hold the greatest appeal.

The popularity of scripted dramas such as PBS’ period drama Downton Abbey and HBO’s Sex and the City suggested some viewers are attracted to shows with depth, where the characters confront important life choices, Price said.

Viewership of FX’s animated sitcom Archer and the stop-motion animation Cartoon Network series Robot Chicken hint at a clump of interest around another kind of program, Price said. Meanwhile, frequently watched children’s programs, including Nickelodeon’s Dora the Explorer and Blue’s Clues, suggest another opportunity.

Of course, you don’t need access to customers’ rental histories to know that all of the shows Price listed are popular with audiences. More tellingly, however, it indicates that Price and his Amazon colleagues have little vision or strategy for what they’re trying to accomplish with Amazon Studios beyond creating poorly conceived knock-offs of popular TV shows. If this isn’t evident from the methods they’re using to decide what shows to make, the resulting pilots make that fact painfully clear.

These are the official descriptions of their seven animated pilots:

ADULT COMEDY SERIES
Supanatural
Supanatural is an animated comedy series about two outspoken divas who are humanity’s last line of defense against the supernatural — when they’re not working at the mall. The series was written by Lily Sparks, Price Peterson and Ryan Sandoval, and the pilot was produced by Jason Micallef (Butter) and Kristen Schaal (The Daily Show).

Dark Minions
Written by Big Bang Theory co-stars Kevin Sussman and John Ross Bowie, Dark Minions is an animated workplace series about two slackers working on an intergalactic warship and just trying to make a paycheck.

KIDS’ PILOTS
Annebots
Annebots revolves around Anne, a young scientist who creates three robot helpers to assist her scientific experiments in the back of her dad’s junkyard. This science-based series from creator J.J. Johnson (Dino Dan, This is Emily Yeung) aims to introduce kids to science and technology in a fun, new way.

Creative Galaxy
Creative Galaxy is an animated interactive art adventure series designed to inspire kids’ creative thinking through crafts, story, music and dance. The series was created by Angela Santomero, creator of Super Why!, the Emmy-nominated literacy series, Blue’s Clues and Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood.

Positively Ozitively
In this problem-solving series, Dot, Dorothy’s daughter, goes off to Oz every day with the children of the characters from Frank Baum’s classic book, The Wizard of Oz. In each episode, the yellow brick road leads Dot to a new magical location where she solves problems alongside her Oz friends.

Sara Solves It
Sara Solves It was created by Emmy winner Carol Greenwald (Curious George) and Emmy nominee Angela Santomero (Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood, Super Why!, Blue’s Clues), who also serve as executive producers of the show. Viewers follow brother and sister duo Sara and Sam on absorbing and relatable mysteries that spring from the questions young children encounter in their daily lives. Each mystery is an interactive, math-based puzzle that viewers can solve with Sara and Sam.

Tumbleaf
Tumbleaf was created by Drew Hodges and Bix Pix Entertainment, an award-winning stop-motion studio. The series, aimed at preschoolers, is set in a whimsical land where a small blue fox named Fig plays each day and discovers adventure, friendship and love around every bend in the path. The narratives aim to foster play through exploration and scientific thinking.

Beware of Misidentified Animators on Google

Don’t believe everything you read—or see—online. One of the newer Google search features is to include a biography box for individuals who have entries on Wikipedia. The problem is that Google’s algorithms occasionally select random photos to include as part of these profiles. So, we end up with situations like the above in which Beauty and the Beast co-director Gary Trousdale is depicted as Disney producer Don Hahn.

Or how about director Bob McKimson substituting for director Frank Tashlin?

And I don’t even know how this one happened: Disney director Clyde Geronimi (Sleeping Beauty) is replaced by U.S. Senator John McCain.

Richard Williams Reveals Details About His Secret Animated Film

On Friday, the Guardian published a long profile of Richard Williams. It’s an inspiring read even if you’re familiar with the man.

Among the newsworthy tidbits is that Williams has in the recent past animated some of Banksy’s graffiti for a medical conference. The most intriguing revelations for Williams admirers though are reserved for the last paragraph of the article, in which Williams discusses his long-term secret animation project. The recently-turned-80 Williams has puckishly subtitled the project, Will I live to finish it. From the article:

He is reluctant to say too much about what “the big film” is about – “we had so much publicity about The Thief and then it went wrong” – but says it is being made in chapters – “so if I do drop dead we will still have something” – and that a six minute prologue, which will be a short film in its own right, will soon be ready. “What I’m interested in is that nobody has been able to handle realism. It’s just been embarrassing. So I’m doing graphic realism, these things are obviously drawings, but it will go into adult territory and will combine different styles. I want something that will be grim, but also funny and salacious and sexy. I can’t tell you how excited I am by it. No one has been able to do this and I know that I can. All I need is some time and five or six assistants who can draw like hell.”

“Zombie Brothers” by Eric Robles

Eric Robles, creator of Fanboy & Chum Chum, recently made a micro-short for Nick called Zombie Brothers, which can be seen on Nickelodeon’s website. It was part of the same shorts program that resulted in Carrot and Stick along with numerous other shorts.

Robles also created his own ‘making of’ video with a Flip Cam to document the stop-motion production that took place at Screen Novelties:

Oscar-Winner Daniel Greaves Wants to Kickstart “Mr. Plastimime”

Winning an Oscar for best animated short can do many things for a filmmaker’s career, but it does not guarantee an endless stream of funding for the remainder of their lives. That is why Oscar-winning English director Daniel Greaves has turned to Kickstarter to fund his next project Mr. Plastimime. Greaves and London-based Tandem Films are asking for £33,450 (approx. $51,000). They have reached more than two-thirds of their goal with less than a week left in the campaign.

Greaves won the Oscar in 1992 for his short film Manipulation:

His new short Mr. Plastimime mixes clay animation with hand-drawn facial expressions and CG backgrounds. Greaves often mixes animation techniques in his work, such as in his well-received short Flatworld:

The rewards packages are well considered, and include options to receive models from the new film, as well as artwork from the earlier films Manipulation and Flatworld. The new short Mr. Plastimime also appears to be well into production at this point. The project updates on Kickstarter show an impressive amount of visual development and dedicated craftsmanship, including hand-animated pencil tests by Greaves.

Artist of the Day: LeSean Thomas

LeSean Thomas

LeSean Thomas’s path as an artist has taken him from the South Bronx, to Los Angeles, to Seoul, and back to Los Angeles again. Starting out self-taught in the late ’90s, he worked on the first regular Flash animated series on the web, WhirlGirl, as designer, storyboard and layout artist. Since then, he’s worked on shows such as The Boondocks, Batman: The Brave and the Bold, The Legend of Korra, and Black Dynamite, the latter for which he is supervising director.

LeSean Thomas

His thirst for understanding the production process from start to finish drove him to take the drastic step of moving to Korea to work directly in a studio there that services the U.S. animation industry. He describes more about this in a documentary series, The Seoul Sessions, and his TEDxSinchon talk here:

LeSean Thomas

He has a blog and website where you can find more production drawings, sketches and his self-published sketchbook collections.

LeSean Thomas

LeSean Thomas

LeSean Thomas

LeSean Thomas

Drawnimal App by Lucas Zanotto

Director and animator Lucas Zanotto proves with his creative new app Drawnimal that drawing with a pencil on paper and digital apps are not incompatible technologies. The iPad/iPhone app not only teaches the alphabet and animals to children, but cunningly encourages kids to draw around their devices to create a complete image of an animal that will then perform an animated action. For more info, go to Drawnimal.com or download it from the Apple store.

Richard Williams Releases “Animator’s Survival Kit” iPad App

The Richard Williams Animator’s Survival Kit iPad app that we announced a couple months ago is out today. It’s available for $34.99 on the Apple Store, a bargain when you consider the DVD version of the Survival Kit costs nearly a grand. If you’re on the fence about splurging, you can also download a free sample version.

“Simpsons” Producer Offers Tips For Manipulating Creative People

Controlling creative people appears to be a popular topic in the mainstream media nowadays. Following on the heels of Harvard Business Review’s incendiary article “Seven Rules for Managing Creative People”, Bloomberg Businessweek has published a short piece titled How to Manipulate Creative People. Unlike the HBR article which sounded as if it was written by someone who had never met a creative person in their life, the Businessweek piece (which is part of their annual how-to issue) is written by Matt Selman, an exec producer on The Simpsons who has run the writers’ rooms for over a decade.

Agree with what he says or not, Selman’s advice clearly stems from experience:

If your team is still irritated with you, badmouth anyone not in the room. Dumping on an unseen third party or revealing tantalizing office gossip always takes the heat off for a few minutes. Though if you’re going to make fun of people who work for you, be prepared to be made fun of by them. No matter how mean it gets, have the thickest skin in the room. Reward the completion of assignments with YouTube clips: Key and Peele, octopus vs. shark, bank robbery fails. If nothing else works, stall till lunch. It’s hard to be full and angry.

Artist of the Day: Encyclopedia Pictura

Encyclopedia Pictura

Encyclopedia Pictura is the creative association of Isaiah Saxon, Sean Hellfritsch and Daren Rabinovitch that has been producing striking, playful work since its inception. One of their early shorts, “Grow,” shows off the power of a simple, clever idea executed well:

The team has produced several music videos including work for Björk and Grizzly Bear. Here are a few stills from Grizzly Bear’s “Knife” video, which features their multimedia, practical/digital effects combination approach to direction:

Encyclopedia Pictura

There is a load of interesting behind the scenes footage and photos also on their website, such as this video:

Their claim of working in “film, art, game design, community building, and agriculture” is not a bit of bombast. From their about page:

From 2008-2011, EP led an effort to build a unique hillside neighborhood and farm called Trout Gulch. They lived and worked there along with 15 others. In 2012, they co-founded DIY in San Francisco, with Vimeo co-founder Zach Klein and OmniCorp Detroit co-founder Andrew Sliwinski. Saxon also volunteers as Media Advisor to Open Source Ecology.

They are passionate about gardening, farming, construction, villages, augmented reality, science visualization, social ecology, technological empowerment, adventure, and country living.

DIY is both a feature film in development as well as more recently a new and growing online community that encourages young people to become “Makers” and share their work, gaining confidence in their creativity and earning digital badges for their profile as they go. DIY meets kids where they already are, on connected devices, and encourages their natural creativity while learning real-world, off and online skills. The DIY “anthem”:

The Do It Yourself/Maker attitude is perhaps the most valuable thing that is being nourished as young people challenge themselves to new experiences inspired by the site.

When a person grows up understanding that they can create and mold the media and environment around them, they don’t have to resign to an existence of passively consuming at the corporate trough. An individual’s confidence in their own creativity is an essential survival skill for the future.

Fashion Magazine “Galore” Uses Jessica Rabbit to Model Lingerie

The intersection between animation and fashion isn’t always well defined, but it is expanding. In the latest issue of Galore, Jerome LaMaar (aka Style Monk) illustrated a two-page spread of Jessica Rabbit wearing lingerie and evening wear from the recent collections of houses like Atelier Versace, Agent Provocateur, La Perla, Christian Louboutin, Azzedine Alaia and Dolce & Gabbana.

It’s a curious blending of real and imagined worlds that shows the potential for future collaborations between fashion and animation, like perhaps, a fashion designer designing the clothes for the characters in a CG animated feature.

Fox Cancels “The Cleveland Show”

Seth MacFarlane’s The Cleveland Show had been widely expected to be canceled, and The Animation Guild recently confirmed that the show is finished. The show had a respectable four-season run on FOX comprising 88 total episodes.

Fox Animation Studios is still humming along with Family Guy and American Dad so MacFarlane remains busy, though an undetermined number of Cleveland Show rank-and-file will likely be laid off.

[UPDATED—4/17—1:05pm ET]: According to Entertainment Weekly, a Fox rep says that they haven’t made an official decision on the fifth season. There is no reason to doubt The Animation Guild’s cancellation notice since they represent the artists working on the show, but in the interest of fairness, we’re mentioning FOX’s current position on the show.

(Thanks, Graham)

The Milt Kahl Head Swaggle

Like a signature, each animator has their own little quirks or trademarks that distinguish their animation from others. Some draw character’s features in a unique way (eyes, hands, etc.), some lean heavily on certain principles or include abstract imagery or gimmicks into their scenes, and some fall back on specific poses or gestures. The “Milt Kahl Head Swaggle” is an example of the latter, and it both intrigues and aggravates me at the same time.

To clarify, the “Milt Kahl Head Swaggle” is when a character (animated by Disney legend Milt Kahl) sort of rattles his/her head from side to side, usually at times when they’re feeling cocky or self-assured. Sort of an “Am I great or what?” type of gesture.

Again, I can’t deny how remarkable an animator Milt Kahl was, but for a long time I considered him to be a really hammy animator in the worst possible sense, and this gesture helped cement that idea for me.

In a Frank Thomas or Ollie Johnston scene, I could see the wheels turn in a character’s head and felt that the characters were sincere, emotionally-driven personalities. I never felt that in the majority of Kahl’s characters. A lot of his characters are like actors on a stage, projecting themselves a bit too far in their performances.

But at the same time, he uses this gesture for a reason, and it works well in every scene he implements it. He only used it on broader, more caricatured characters like Tigger, Sir Ector or Brer Rabbit, characters with strong egos and a cocky sensibility, and the gesture defines the character’s personality in the most simple and direct way possible.

Much like finding an often-reused piece of animation or sound effect in a Disney film, my dislike for it came only from repeated viewings. Because we live in the age of DVDs, Netflix and Quicktime files,  we now can have a studio’s entire library literally at our fingertips, able to survey and dissect the content any way we choose, including surveying an animator’s entire forty-year output front to back and taking shots completely out of context like I have here.

Another thing I realized over time is that Kahl seemed to prefer being a broader animator. For years he was stuck with the most difficult and seemingly less interesting assignments, which the rest of the animators couldn’t pull off because they weren’t as good of a draftsman as him. For example, he clamored to work on characters like Captain Hook but was stuck doing Peter Pan and the Darling children, or he was saddled with Alice instead of the more zany, off-the wall characters that populate the rest of Alice and Wonderland. He would end up designing a lot of these other characters, but never get to animate most of them.

Luckily for him, by the 1960s, Kahl’s creative shackles were loosened and he was back to doing broader animation. He went all out on each assignment from The Sword in the Stone through The Rescuers. Each character he animated during this period overflowed with energy, all of which was probably pent up inside of him for so many years. His days of princes and realistic little children were over, and for the rest of his career he was able to let loose, have fun and do the things he wanted to do.

Milt Kahl knew he was a good animator, and he wasn’t afraid to show it through brash flourishes of animation. The head swaggle, corny and over-the-top though it may be, not only defines those Disney characters, but also defines the self-assured Kahl himself.

Cartoon Brew Gets Its Own Podcast: The Frenzer Foreman Animation Forum

You’ve read Cartoon Brew for years, but starting next week, you’ll be able to hear it, too.

Welcome Joel Frenzer and Alan Foreman, the rowdy bad boys of the animation podcasting world and hosts of the interview series Frenzer Foreman Animation Forum.

Frenzer and Foreman launched their show in 2010 and have recorded thirty-five episodes to date. Beginning with the next episode of Frenzer Foreman Animation Forum, the show will introduce a new fast-paced HALF-HOUR format with episodes debuting exclusively on CartoonBrew.com every two weeks.

In each episode, Joel and Alan invite movers and shakers of the animation community on their comedy hot-seat for bourbon-fueled chit-chat about animation, art, culture, filmmaking, life, and Joel’s dog.

The Frenzer Foreman Animation Forum is recorded and produced in Brooklyn, New York, but we’re hatching plans to send our adventurous duo on the road to far-flung locales like Los Angeles and perhaps even a major international animation festival or two.

Here’s a little bit about your new hosts:

Joel Frenzer is an independent filmmaker whose films have screened at the Annecy International Animated Film Festival. He is also a professional animator with numerous industry credits, voice actor, puppeteer, exhibiting fine artist and sound designer. He has taught and assisted animation classes at Harvard University, Massachusetts College of Art & Design, Pratt Institute, and is currently the full-time professor of animation at the School of the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston. 

Alan Foreman has worked on numerous TV and web series including Home Movies, Hey, Monie, Time Warp Trio, Word Girl, Speed Racer: The Next Generation and Cat Slap, the latter which he created for Mondo Media. He is currently working as a freelance animator for clients that include Buck, Hornet Inc, TED Ed, Nick Jr, The Electric Company, Six Point Harness, and Michel Gondry.

Artist of the Day: The Brothers McLeod

The Brothers McLeod

The Brothers McLeod, Greg and Myles, create animated projects and show them off on their studio website. They also have a blog here.

The Brothers McLeod

In 2013, they are producing one second of animation a day (besides their other work,) to complete a new film, 365.

The Brothers McLeod

You can see stills as they add them to the film’s page, and partial installments as they are posted monthly, such as the March segment:

The stills in this post are from 365.

The Brothers McLeod

The Brothers McLeod

The Brothers McLeod

The Brothers McLeod

“A Monster in Paris” Out on DVD Today in the U.S.

Bibo Bergeron’s A Monster in Paris is releasing on DVD today in the United States through Shout! Factory. The 2011 French animated feature was unable to secure theatrical distribution in the competitive U.S. market, but Bergeron’s earlier directorial efforts will no doubt be familiar to American viewers—DreamWorks’ The Road to El Dorado and Shark Tale. A blog featuring artwork from the A Monster in Paris can be viewed HERE.

Order A Monster in Paris for $10.49 on Amazon.com.

Animated GIFs: Annoying Fad or Teachable Moment?

Opinions on animated GIFs range from pure hatred to unabashed overuse. “Hide your eyes,” wrote one reporter on CNET. Meanwhile, Tumblr, which is the undisputed platform for animated GIF enthusiasts, announced it has reached over 100 million blogs. Now that Google has released a new search tool for these dynamic images, some wonder if we’ve reached peak GIF.

We may be experiencing the second incarnation of animated GIFs, a 25-year-old medium, but it feels totally different this time. More than just dancing babies and glittery hearts, animated GIFs now have the potential to evoke a whole new narrative depth. They can be distractingly anarchic or subtly creepy. They can also strike a balance between these two, offering a small, yet thoughtful charge of emotion. Alastair Macaulay’s homage to the State of Liberty in The New York Times was illustrated with three animated GIFs, each with calming, subtle looping movement—the rolling waves of the New York Harbor, a bird soaring past Lady Liberty, and the swaying branches of the trees on Ellis Island. Why aren’t all newspaper articles illustrated so dynamically?

Whether or not the revival of the animated GIF is a fleeting trend, they present an opportunity for animators and the community-at-large. Vine, which is Twitter’s answer to the animated GIF, is quickly becoming a teachable moment. “Vine is a wonderful thing,” wrote Daniel Stuckey on Motherboard. “It’s teaching the mainstream how to loop.”

On an obvious level, animated GIFs are a simple, lo-fi educational tool for teaching loop cycles. But I think they could yield far greater potential; animated GIFs could be to up-and-coming animators as ACEOs are to illustrators, painters and print makers— highly collectible miniature works of art that are traded and sold. I could also see an increase in animators taking commissions to create customized GIFs for avid fans.

Now that apps and software have foolproofed the GIF-making process, many have begun to experiment in wholly refreshing ways. Animators like Polly Dedman are creating animated GIFs unlike any I’ve seen before (see above). Major events, such as elections and award ceremonies, are being live GIFfed. Even Hollywood is exploring how animated GIFs can effectively promote feature length films by making them available as collectible downloads. The GIF is here to stay. So how can the animation community stake its claim in this rapidly evolving narrative medium?

Reel FX Begins Promoting Its First Feature “Free Birds”

Reel FX and Relativity Media are sparing no expense when it comes to promoting Free Birds, Reel FX’s first animated feature which will be released theatrically in November. At CinemaCon, the Las Vegas convention for theater owners, they unveiled a 3D-printed display of the film’s main characters, who are voiced by Woody Harrelson and Owen Wilson. It certainly puts your average cardboard-based theater display to shame, and gives one optimism that they’re putting a high level of effort and care into the actual film itself. These photos of the display appeared on Collider.com.

(h/t, Sarah Marino)

NSFW: “Libidinis” by Rosa Peris and Mercedes Peris

Libidinis manages to be gently erotic even though the two main characters spend the film ripping off each other’s skin. The filmmakers, Spanish twin sisters Rosa Peris and Mercedes Peris, create a fluid, ethereal space with sensuous pencil and ink linework, and splashes of color in gouache, pastel and marker:

A man and a woman uncover each other, taking off their skin as an intimate act. They are interrupted by two children who attend the Love School. Libidinis is a short film produced by the research group Plastic Art Expression of Movement, Animation and Light-Kinetics (Universidad Politecnica de Valencia), specially made for the exhibition SKIN, which aimed to show the human skin as a humanistic study object. It was commissioned by the Wellcome Trust London and the Spanish National Research Council (CSIC).