Kristian creates sketchbook studies with pencils, markers and brushes using judiciously-placed strokes and blots.
Kristian creates sketchbook studies with pencils, markers and brushes using judiciously-placed strokes and blots.
Grant Orchard, the Oscar-nominated director of A Morning Stroll and a longtime Brew favorite, has created the children’s series Chop Chop! (working title) in collaboration with Studio AKA. The 52 x 7-minute preschool series has been commissioned by BBC Worldwide and will premiere worldwide on its junior arm CBeebies in fall 2014.
The series features the adventures of the Squirrel Club, an adorable menagerie of animals who are awarded badges after completing activities assigned to them by their club leader Chop Chop. According to Broadcast, the series is one of the first to receive tax break certification from the British Film Institute since the Department for Culture, Media & Sport approved animated programs for financial relief in April.
While Studio AKA’s top-tier client list includes work for children’s brands like Disney and Cartoon Network among companies like Lloyds TSB, BMW, Skype and BBC, Chop Chop! will be its first major contribution to children’s programming. The series producers will be Sue Goffe and Janine Murphy, and executive producers will be Henrietta Hurford-Jones (BBC Worldwide director of children’s) and Jackie Edwards (executive producer, animation and acquisitions, CBeebies UK).
Laura Heit’s Animation Sketchbooks (published this month by Chronicle Books in the US, and earlier by Thames & Hudson in the UK) offers a peek inside the private sketchbooks of 51 (mostly independent) animation filmmakers. The 320-page hardcover has a straightforward format: each artist is allotted 4-8 pages that includes a career overview, brief statements about the process of sketching and keeping a sketchbook, and a gallery of sketchbook pages and stills from short films.
The artists in the book include many of the biggest names in indie animation (Koji Yamamura, Michaela Pavlatova Georges Schwizgebel, Regina Pessoa, Priit Parn, Paul Driessen) as well as some artists who are better known for their commercial work (Stephen Hillenburg, Luis Cook, David Polonsky, Fran Krause). It’s safe to say that unless you’re a regular festival attendee—or a reader of Cartoon Brew—many of the names will be unfamiliar. That’s not a criticism though. These are all artists who deserve greater exposure and this book does a fine job of giving it to them.
There’s a remarkable range of techniques, approaches and visual styles represented in the volume, as the author Heit explains in the intro:
You will discover many types of sketchbook keepers within these pages. You will find early ideas plotted out, sometimes repeatedly until their purpose becomes clear, thumbnail sketches of developing characters, mini storyboards scratched out in a hurry. There are those who try out new mark-making techniques, searching for the next film’s look. Others use the pages to doodle mindlessly as a kind of artistic respite, their work here unrelated to their film projects. Some keep a book like a travelogue, carrying it with them on all of their adventures…Others, such as Luis Cook, treat their sketchbook like a reliquary, part scrapbook, part personal project.
My only gripe about this otherwise commendable project is that the film stills took up an excessive amount of space in the book. When an artist like Koji Yamamura only has six pages, it’d have been preferable to not see a third of that space devoted to film stills. The reason for their inclusion—to connect the sketches to filmmaking practice—is perfectly valid, but the stills could have been presented in a way that didn’t consume large chunks of space that would have been better devoted to the book’s main selling point: the hard-to-see sketchbooks.
Not only will this book introduce the reader to names worth knowing in independent animation, it will inspire and challenge any artist with a non-commercial streak to push their own craft further. That, in itself, makes it a recommended purchase.
Order Animation Sketchbooks for $36.07 on Amazon
Nick Edwards is a prolific cartoonist working in the UK who creates comics for print and online distribution, including his regular Thursday strip, Cave Shrine and his debut comic book Dinopopolous published by Blank Slate.
Nick fills his sketchbooks with densely packed pages of characters and comics. You can find some of these on his Tumblr. On his blog, Nick experiments with animated comics using looping GIF files. An example is IVAN in which Nick explores the pains of being creative.
Disney launched Disney Infinity in the UK by plastering the characters from the game onto the landmark White Cliffs of Dover along the English coastline. The images stretched 1600 feet across and 260 feet tall.
The projections are part of a bigger illumination package, Digital Disney Parade, in which animated versions of the game’s characters are projected around London.
Mount Rushmore this ain’t—H&M recently projected an image of underwear-clad David Beckham onto the same cliffs to sell tighty whities. No word on how much Disney spent to tag this natural wonder with its cartoon imagery. Whatever it cost though, Disney needs to find creative ways to spend the record $42 billion—with a capital B—that the company made in 2012. Cheap spectacle is as good as any other.
(via Daily Mail)
Nickelodeon is releasing online a three-part Legend of Korra webseries called “Republic City Hustle,” presumably to help build buzz for the second season of the TV series, which will debut next month. The webseries takes place three years before the events of Book 1 and tells the backstory of two of the show’s central figures—brothers Mako and Bolin—and how they ended up with their sidekick Pabu. The first two episodes have already debuted online and can be viewed below:
Legend of Korra: “Republic City Hustle: Part 1″
Legend of Korra: “Republic City Hustle: Part 2″
Besides the obvious redesign of the characters, things were also done differently behind the scenes. This webseries was produced out of Nickelodeon’s on-air graphics department in New York instead of the regular Los Angeles crew. The animation was created in After Effects.
SVP Brand Creative: Matthew Duntemann
Executive Producer: James Stephenson
Producer: Eric Collins
Written by: Tim Hedrick
Directors: Chris Papa and Rob Kohr
Character Design: Evon Freeman & Rachael Hunt
Storyboards: Matthew Robinson
Backgrounds: George Berger and Alexandra DiTullio
Animation: Scott Kennell, Ross Norton, Christine Chen, Alexandra Ditullio, Brett Underhill and Mike Liu
(Disclosure: The co-director of this piece, Rob Kohr, provides technical support/maintenance for Cartoon Brew.)
Sonnye “Jin” Lim is a recent graduate of the film/video/animation program at the Rhode Island School of Design. Her 2013 reel is below, along with more of her films on Vimeo.
One of Jin’s personal projects in progress is a comic called Blondie, starring her characters Blondie and Quinn and set “in a zombie apocalyptic universe.”
The Japan Image Council (JAPIC) has announced that they are now accepting applications for their “Animation Artist in Residence Tokyo 2014″ program.
The project, organized by the Agency for Cultural Affairs (Bunka-cho/Government of Japan) and run by the Japan Image Council since 2010, is a residency that “aims to provide three outstanding young animation artists from around the world with an opportunity to come to Tokyo and create new works while directly interacting with Japanese animation culture.”
The artists selected will spend 70 days in Tokyo, between January 7 and March 17th, 2014. The program will provide travel expenses, living allowance, and rental accommodations, as well as the opportunity to interact with the Japanese animation community. You can read the report from this year’s program to get a sense of what will happen.
As always, there’s a catch, and this residency has one, too: you’ve got to be good. The three artists who were in the last program are all excellent filmmakers—Caleb Wood (United States), Elli Vuorinen (Finland), and Emma de Swaef (Belgium). Applicants, who must be between the ages of 20-35, need to have had one of their projects screened at an international film festival/exhibition and must submit a plan for a new animated work that is at least three minutes in length.
The application deadline for this year’s program is September 9th, 2013. To apply, go to JAPIC’s application page.
A new Chipmunks series, ALVINNN!!! and The Chipmunks, is set to debut in 2015. The show, which has been in development since 2010 when it was called The Chipmunks and Chipettes, represents the first time that the characters will appear in CGI for the television format. The 52×11-minute series will also be the first original Chipmunks television show in 25 years.
The new series was created by Ross Bagdasarian Jr. and his wife Janice Karman, who have overseen the characters since 1972 when Ross Bagdsarian Sr. passed away. According to themselves, it’s a great revival. “Janice has created a show that I feel is the best thing we’ve ever done,” said Bagdasarian Jr.
Well, it’s that time of year again. A couple animated films perform below-average at the box office and the mainstream media begins asking, “Are Hollywood studios cranking out too many animated films?”
The article is filled with alarmist descriptions of the film animation industry, like “a flood of computer-animated movies” (because five films apparently constitutes a ‘flood’) and eye-roll worthy quotes like this one from DreamWorks CEO Jeffrey Katzenberg:
“We’ve never experienced this level of animation congestion in a period of time.”
and this gem from Illumination chief executive Chris Meledandri:
“[A]s more films are planned, it’s inevitable that there will be more acute cannibalization of each other.”
Cannibalization? Let’s get a grip, here. There are only eleven major animated releases planned for this year. That’s compared to hundreds of live-action releases. How is it that the feature film market can support hundreds of live-action films but less than a dozen animated pics?
The problem isn’t that there are too many animated films; the problem is that every single animated release is targeted at the same family demographic.
Yes, there were five animated releases this summer in the span of a couple months. That’s hardly newsworthy considering that there were dozens of live-action releases in the same period. The issue is that all five of those films were targeted to the exact same audience. I suffered through a couple of them, and if you have an intellectual capacity beyond a seven-year-old’s, chances are you’re going to want to watch something more stimulating.
A far more illuminating article would have been to ask why film executives ghettoize the animation art form and refuse to cater to a broader range of audiences, as animated filmmakers in Europe and Asia routinely do. Hayao Miyazaki’s controversial new animated feature The Wind Rises is geared toward adult audiences, and has not only been the number one film in Japan for the past month, but will likely become Japan’s number one film at the box office for all of 2013.
The writer of the LA Times article, Richard Verrier, who should know better considering that he covers the film industry for a living, erroneously refers to animation as a genre in his piece on multiple occasions. But, as we’ve discussed many times before, animation is NOT a genre. It may be perceived as a genre by Hollywood execs, but animation is as much a genre as live-action is.
I think that there is more misreading of trends in animation than any other of the film community. If Cool World fails, then all adult-themed animation is doomed. And if Disney fails, all of animation is doomed. And it’s not like, “Well, hey, man, you know, maybe people are tired of five songs and a familiar story.” … That’s like if George Lucas hit a rough patch, somebody would suddenly say, “Well, people are tired of science fiction.” It’s ridiculous! It’s the kind of idiotic statement that never seems to go out of style in Hollywood… Animation is not a genre. It is a method of storytelling. People are constantly analyzing it and misanalysing it as if it is a genre. It isn’t a genre. It can do horror films, it can do adult comedies if it wanted to, it could do fairy tales, it could do science fiction, it could do musicals, it could mystery, it can do anything. Because Disney has been the only one that’s lavished any care on it, people [then] think it’s the only kind that can be told successfully.
And even if you want to lump all animation as a genre, the argument is still flimsy and incorrect. How is there a glut when two of the top four films at the American box office are animated this year:
On top of that, Despicable Me 2 is the single most profitable film in the history of Universal. The financials alone would suggest that the success rate in animation is far higher than live-action’s hit rate. Perhaps then, the writers of the LA Times should be exploring whether there’s a glut of live-action films in Hollywood.
Osaka, Japan-born Ami Thompson works in 2D and 3D animation drawing character and concept art. She has completed 2D animation internships at Walt Disney Animation Studios and Studio Ghibli, and a 3D animation internship at Microsoft Studios.
Ami’s drafting skill allows her the freedom to use confident line work while drawing convincing forms in space.
Here is Ami’s final film from her studies at Sheridan, Basilisk:
See more work at Ami’s portfolio website.
Director Darren Dubicki of Aardman Animations created this strikingly elegant mixed-media piece to celebrate Pink Floyd’s legendary album The Dark Side of the Moon.
The three-minute piece serves as a trailer/supplement to an original radio drama based on the album, written by playwright Sir Tom Stoppard, premiering on BBC Radio 2 on August 26th. Dubicki also created an extended film loop that will complement the audio experience online.
More details about the production from the official Aardman release:
Aardman director, Darren Dubicki saw the piece working as a film trailer and the team spent time absorbing the rich detail from both Pink Floyd’s music and Sir Tom Stoppard’s play. In doing so they developed a striking visual concept where images juxtapose with carefully considered lyrics and dialogue from the play encompassing the underlying themes of greed, conflict, consumption, humanity and the descent into madness…
Dubicki says, “What was fundamentally important to us was that we retained a consistent visual tone that echoed the imagery created over the years for the band. The intensely surreal and powerful artwork created by Storm Thorgerson and Hipgnosis has always had a strong distortion on reality. Their sense of space and twisted context make for some uncomfortably beautiful art. This tone has been consistent for decades and we wanted to honor this with our contemporary digital (and analogue) slant on the style.”
Created using a collage of digital imaging, CGI, studio-based effects and hand crafted elements the films were produced with depth and richness that reflects the classic tone of Pink Floyd’s art.
Client/Agency: BBC Radio 2
Producers: Rhian Roberts/ Rowan Collinson
Director: Darren Dubicki
Executive Producer: Heather Wright
Producer: Helen Argo
Production Assistant: Danny Gallagher
Production Co-ordinator: Louise Johnson
DOP: Mark Chamberlain
Camera Assistant: Joe Maxwell
Gaffer: Nat Sale
CG Modeling: Olly Skillman-Wilson
CG Modeling: David Klein
CG Modeling: Saul Freed
CG Animation: Mathew Rees
CG Animation: Rich Spence
CG Lighter: Andrew Lavery
Supervising Senior Compositor: Jim Lewis
Compositor: Spencer Cross
Compositor: Paule Quinton
After Effects Artist: Tom Readdy
Editor: Dan Hembury
Vogele’s witty and playful animated treatment of real-world objects (lamps, socks, meat) compels the viewer to see familiar everyday objects in a new light. The trailer for Wurst would suggest that he has another winner on his hands. He has posted some behind-the-scenes photos on his blog.
UDPATE: Thank you to everyone who helped out! I have Mr. Pederson’s contact info now. I don’t typically do this, but I’m in a bit of a rush on a project so I’m going to put this out there: does anybody know how to get in touch with visual effects/computer graphics legend Con Pederson (2001: A Space Odyssey, Robert Abel & Associates)? If you do, please drop me a line. Thanks!