Friday, October 30, 2009

News - 10/30/09...

Carnaval No Inferno

Brazilian artist Helder Santos drew, animated and directed this video for the local band Eddie and singer Karina Buhr. Santos writes:

The video is a protest against the violence and social problems in Brazil. Everybody thinks of Brazil as the fun, carnaval country. We tried to put what really happens here though the vision of a masked ball carnaval of horror. Hope you like it.

Santos produced it along with his wife Camilla and friends at production house CherryPlus.

(Thanks cartoon brew)

Chuck Jones’s Opinion of Working at Disney

I’ve praised this blog before, but the Chuck Jones blog, run by Chuck’s grandson Craig, continues to be a treasure trove of artwork and new information about the director.

My favorite recent post is this letter that Chuck wrote to his daughter Linda following his brief stint working at the Disney studio in 1953. In it, Jones gives his perspective of working at the studio, and it sounds not so different from a lot of contemporary feature animation studios:

At Disney’s it was always necessary to be certain places at certain times. God knows why, nothing ever happened, so it was nearly impossible to work there without a timepiece. You could get along without talent, but not a watch…. Ah..I think this was a good mood—I mean move to return here [to Warner Bros.], I had not realized how much I missed the sweetness of my own solitude. At Disney’s aloneness or desire to be alone generates suspicion, you are always surrounded by people, drifting in and out, exchanging hackneyed pleasantries or just sitting, staring with baleful intensity at one’s own navel. What a waste! What a waste of wonderful talent!

Jones also offered an unflattering opinion of Disney director Ham Luske:

I went to Disney’s with respect for H… L…., I could not fathom him but I felt that there must be some pretty strong talent there, not evident on the surface perhaps but still waters run deep etc. etc. If I still think this then I am the only one who has recently worked there who does. Walt adjudges him a work horse, stolid, unimaginative, but able to get things done if someone else has injected the life and the spark into the material. Many others think of him as simply and purely a dolt and a dull dolt at that. I saw too little of him to make any judgment, but I can no longer assume that he has talent. Isn’t that a pity?

It’s particularly interesting to read this letter in context of Chuck’s later opinions of working at Disney, which can be found in this terrific article by Wade Sampson.

(Thanks cartoon brew)

Color design in It’s The Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown

Just in time for Halloween, artist Justin Hilden examines the color choices in Bill Melendez’s It’s The Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown. Read his illustrated essay here.

(Thanks cartoon brew)

Two Guys Named Joe by John Canemaker

John Canemaker’s next book is available for pre-order on Amazon. Two Guys Named Joe: Master Animation Storytellers Joe Grant and Joe Ranft will be released in August 2010. John gave me a preview of the book a couple months back. It is an intimate look at the accomplishments and struggles (both personal and professional) of two animation giants. If you think you already know these guys, you’re going to be in for a surprise. Needless to say, it’s guaranteed to be one of the must-haves of next year.

(Thanks cartoon brew)

CBS to Produce "Yes, Virginia" Animated Christmas Special

CBS has announced Yes, Virginia, a new animated Christmas special based on the true story of 8-year old Virginia O'Hanlon, who inspired one of the most famous newspaper editorials of all time in 1897 by asking, "Is there a Santa Claus?" The special will debut on December 11, 2009, at 8:00 PM (Eastern/Pacific).

Astro Boy Watch

Astro Boy might be rocking in China, but in the land of his birth, there's a different and sadder story.

Imagi Entertainment's "Astro Boy" bombed in Japan ....

After opening on more than 200 screens on the weekend of Oct. 10-12,
"Astro Boy" pulled in a disappointing $328,457 in its first week, an average of just over $1,500 per screen, to put it at the bottom of the week's rankings. For comparison, the same week's top film, NTV's "Kaiji," took over $4 million from just over 300 screens at an average of over $13,200.

If distributor Kadokawa was hoping for a slow burner, it was to be disappointed as
"Atom," as it was titled locally, dropped out of the top 10 and out of sight the following week ... [I]t looks to have gone the way of other recent attempts such as the live-action versions of "Speed Racer" and "Dragonball Evolution," which both failed to ignite the boxoffice in the land of their origin.

I hadn't seen the box office results for AB in Japan until now, although I knew it had been out for a few weeks. Apparently the reception given the picture by the Japanese mirrors the stateside reaction, which is a shame.

This probably doesn't bode well for Imagi's future plans.

(Thanks Animation Guild Blog)

Suspended Animation Gallery Opens to Showcase Disney Artists' Personal Works

The Suspended Animation Gallery has opened its virtual doors at The gallery was founded by Tenny Chonin, former Director of Artist Development at Walt Disney Animation Studios, and is dedicated to showcasing the personal artwork of artists and animators from Disney. The gallery is also searching for a live gallery space to open in 2010.

The full press release follows:

Gallery Showing Disney Artists’ Personal Works Opens

LOS ANGELES, CA – The virtual red ribbon has been cut on a new website: is now online for art fans to tour Suspended Animation Gallery, which exclusively carries personal art pieces created by the renowned artists of Walt Disney Animation Studios. While Suspended Animation Gallery has launched its collection in cyberspace, it is currently scouting locations to establish a live gallery space in 2010. is currently exhibiting original works by ten artists and expects to represent more than twenty within the year. These works include paintings, drawings and sculptures created by the artists who the world knows through the famous movies and characters they have helped bring to life, such as Mike Gabriel (eight films, including Oliver & Company and Pocahontas) and Lisa Keene (twelve films, including The Lion King and The Little Mermaid). Now working in a mainly digital medium at Disney, director Mike Gabriel says, “I haven't been inspired to get back onto the canvas for a long time, but now that I have a home gallery at, I am enjoying the complete freedom of expression: that’s what makes this new endeavor so intoxicating, or it may just be the turpentine.”

Suspended Animation Gallery was founded by Tenny Chonin, former Director of Artist Development at Walt Disney Animation Studios. While working at the Disney Studios in Burbank over the course of twelve years, Chonin met many talented men and women, and she was always curious about the art they created on their own time. Chonin began amassing a personal collection of these artists’ private works in the late 1990s, displaying them in her home and office. “Time and again, I’d see that friends and visitors were as captivated by these works as I,” says Chonin. This audience would first be attracted to the art for its own qualities, but then was quickly fascinated by the backgrounds of the creators, inquiring what movies a painter had worked on, or which Disney characters a sculptor helped create. “I just knew that one day I would find a way to present these wonderful artists and their personal work to the world,” says Chonin. Mike Gabriel explains, “as Disney cartoonists, we collaborate with the some of the best artists in the industry, but we rarely get the chance to show who we are as artists individually. With Tenny Chonin's gallery I hope people enjoy getting to see our unadulterated, pure artistic "voices" without anyone to blame but our own two little hands.”

Suspended Animation Gallery will present a revolving series of works and artists, posting samples of the available pieces to its website. Photographs of the available art can be viewed online and the original pieces can be viewed in-person by appointment.

For more information on Suspended Animation Gallery, or to view the collection of artwork available for sale, please visit

Fox Sets World Record for Tallest Ice Sculpture with "Ice Age 3" Scrat

A new world record has been set for the tallest ice sculpture by a 48-foot 8-inch sculpture of Scrat the squirrel from the Ice Age movies, in an event held in conjunction with the release of Ice Age 3 on DVD and Blu-ray disc. The new record is nearly 8 feet higher than the previous one set by Michael Amman in 2006.

Time-lapse videos have been released of the event:

Ice Age 3: Dawn of the Dinosaurs is available now on DVD and Blu-ray disc.

ToonBoom and Animazing Gallery…Two Snaps Up!!!

For those of you young’ins who don’t get the Two Snaps Up reference, please see Men On Film.

The makers of ToonBoom spoke to a packed house Tuesday night at the Animazing Gallery in Soho, New York. They were in town to promote their slate of animation programs, specifically ToonBoom’s Animate. I can’t possibly go into all the details on why this program looks so awesome, but it may have a lot to do with the fact that it’s the only comprehensive animation program completely dedicated to meeting the needs of animation professionals in the best ways possible. The seminar was very informative – a brief overview of the company’s history was offered, followed by coverage of ToonBoom’s product line, with the most in-depth attention given to Animate, and Animate Pro. ToonBoom’s reps tried to answer as many questions as possible, and were very engaged with the audience. ToonBoom is widely used overseas and up North in Canada, and they are looking to expand into the US market. Almost 100% of Disney’s Princess and the Frog was done using ToonBoom’s software, and it’s truly amazing what this software package can do. It would be great to see this program used more here in the US, but I’d say the major drawback may be the expense involved. Correct me if I’m wrong, but key programs are sold separately and the programs themselves are kind of expensive for even the ordinary independent animator. The discount offered at the event for Animate was decent though, and I would suggest looking into the program to see if it’s right for you. It definitely blows Flash away, which was certainly not made with animators in mind. I could see how the program could speed up a workflow immensely.

A quick note about the venue – The event was held at Animazing Gallery, which is a really great art gallery featuring animation art. The current exhibit is focused on the art of Maurice Sendak, creator of Where the Wild Things Are. The exhibit is wonderful and you should really go check it out before it finishes on November 8th. The event was originally supposed to be at a bar that holds regular animation events, but since this event was more of an informational seminar, the bar atmosphere would not have been ideal. The wine and hors d’oeuvres were a nice touch as well.

Animazing Gallery


(Thanks asifa east)

South Park’s Cartman Goes Gaga for Poker Face

Wednesday night’s new South Park episode, Whale Whores, featured a hysterical cover of Lady Gaga’s track Poker Face, sung by none other than Cartman.

Fantastic Reviews For Fantastic Mr. Fox

We’re a month away from the theatrical release of Wes Anderson’s stop-motion feature Fantastic Mr. Fox, and if the reviews at are any indication, it’s headed for success. And success for this film doesn’t have to be a $100 million domestic gross. The budget was reportedly “$20 to $30 million,” so a $15 opening weekend would likely thrill the 20th Century Fox execs. Here’s a recently released clip featuring voice-work by Jason Schwartzman.

Animated Trailer For Joey Fly, Private Eye Book

A new graphic novel for kids recently got some animated promotion. This 1-minute short brings Aaron Reynolds' latest creation (which was published by Henry Holt), Joey Fly, Private Eye – Creepy Crawly Crime, to life. The piece was directed by Neil Numberman, who also illustrated the graphic novel, and animation was handled by Chadwick Whitehead and Filipe Topa.

Taiwanese Student’s Animated Elevator Fart

Wei Xiu Wang’s altogether silly animated short, Fart in Elevator, takes workplace flatulence humor to the next level. It was created as part of Wang’s studies at The Taiwan University of Arts. He also created a making-of segment that’s worth a look.

Yowp, the Early Hanna-Barbera Cartoons Blog

Yowp: Stuff about Early Hanna-Barbera Cartoons is a blog that’ll tell you more about Hanna-Barbera cartoons than you probably cared to know. The blog creator, who is anonymous, knows his stuff, and gives us insidery opinions of this sort: “Here’s where you wish someone like Foster or Maltese was guiding the dialogue because Shows’ lines come off as trite and obvious.” His obsessiveness (I can only assume a guy does this blog because no girl would ever obsess over early H-B like this) is not entirely without merit. He also highlights pieces of animation that serve as fine lessons for anybody creating limited animation, such as this lovely two-drawing cycle of Doggie Daddy driving a car.

(Thanks cartoon brew)

Canemaker talks McCay at Ohio State

More John Canemaker news! John will present his do-not-miss lecture/screening on the art and life of animation pioneer Winsor McCay (1867–1934) at the Wexner Center for the Arts at Ohio State University, Columbus, Ohio, next Tuesday November 3rd.

As part of the lecture, Canemaker presents Gertie the Dinosaur (1914) it the way it was meant to be shown – as a vaudeville act with live musical accompaniment (photo above is from Canemaker’s recent screening in Annecy). The program starts at 7:00 pm at the Wexner Center Film/Video Theater, 1871 North High Street in Columbus, Ohio. The event is part of the current Winsor McCay: Legendary Cartoonist exhibit at the OSU Cartoon Library and Museum. For tickets and information, please visit the Cartoon Museum website.

(Thanks cartoon brew)

Disney Development

I zipped around a couple of floors of the hat building today. And artists related:

"A few of us are still doing story work on Rapunzel, but the feature's really made a big jump in coming together. The screening last month was way better ..." [I've heard this before. -SH] "A couple of sequences are going into production, and they're still hiring people to work on it ..."

"..."We're retooling
King of the Elves ..."
Joe Jump is back in work ..."

I hadn't heard that Mr. Jump had returned to the boards, but it isn't surprising; what I saw of the piece when it was in development looked pretty good. (We mentioned it way back when (I think), Variety listed JJ as a project here, and Animated News has a one-sentence synopsis for the feature here.)

A while ago, Disney artists had clued me that development on Joe Jump had stopped, but nothing ever completely dies in Animationland. Peter Pan was in development thirteen years prior to its successful appearance in theaters, Beauty and the Beast was briefly considered for development in the early 1980s, and Treasure Island/Planet got pitched in 1985.

Like I say. Nothing ever dies; it just goes into a suspended half-life until bobbing back to the surface once more. (This book has been in and out of development at the House of Mouse for well over twenty years ... part of the "development graveyard" that is part of every studio's production operation.)

(Thanks Animation Guild Blog)

Briefly: 1st China Cartoon & Animation Art Expo in Beijing; NPR on "Brave & the Bold"

* The 1st China Cartoon and Animation Art Exhibition opened in Beijing on Monday. The exhibition showcases the advancement of Chinese animation in the past 60 years. [CCTV English]

* National Public Radio has posted an extended appreciation of the "Mayhem of the Music Meister" episode of Batman: The Brave and the Bold.

NY Times on Disney's Marketing Blitz for "A Christmas Carol"

The New York Times has taken a look at the massive marketing blitz the Walt Disney Company is putting behind Robert Zemeckis' motion-capture CGI animated adaptation of A Christmas Carol. Among other factors, the Disney studio is in need of a hit after losing money in the most recent quarter and successful holiday movies can be re-released once a year, as Zemeckis' The Polar Express and Tim Burton's The Nightmare Before Christmas have. However, among the obstacles facing the new movie are the story's many adaptations in a variety of media, recent softness in the box office power of star Jim Carrey, and the poor reception of Zemeckis' Beowulf.

Jonathan Demme Planning Animated Adaptation of "Zeitoun"

The New York Times reports that director Jonathan Demme will be adapting the book Zeitoun as an animated feature film. The best-selling novel by Dave Eggers follows Abdulrahman Zeitoun, a Syrian-American man who stayed in New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina and gave aid to anyone he could as he paddled through the flooded streets in a canoe, only to disappear in 2005. Demme is reportedly "'deep, deep, deep into researching' how he would produce the animation for his film, but that he favored a hand-drawn style."

And an addition via cartoon brew -

And now a personal note to Jonathan Demme: Mr. Demme, if you’re reading this, I beg you not to use cheap Flash/AfterEffects-style animation. Don’t Waltz with Bashir this film, and compromise the personal impact of the story with mechanical movement. Maintain the integrity and vitality of the graphic illustration that initially drew you to the project, and bring it to life with the nuance and lushness that only traditional hand-drawn animation can provide. Look at the works of Koji Yamamura, Frédéric Back, and Sylvain Chomet to understand the unique storytelling possibilities of the animation medium. Prove to the world that not every live-action director has a clumsy, heavy-footed, Bob Zemeckis-like approach to the art form.

The Cartoonist

Tell Your Local Public TV Station You Want to See "The Cartoonist"

On November 8 and 9, a new documentary, "The Cartoonist: Jeff Smith, BONE and the Changing Face of Comics" will be fed via satellite to public television stations around the country as a special for the November/December pledge drive period.

When we were first discussed this project with public television, several in the industry didn't think that "comic book people" were necessarily public TV watchers. They questioned whether there would be an interest in this program among their core audience.

We think they're wrong, and that's where we need your help. The decision regarding whether or not to air this program is determined by each individual station. When stations hear from their viewers, they tend to respond. That's why a call from you can make a big difference.

We think this program will create greater awareness of the comic book industry and cause more people to appreciate and understand the cultural impact of comics and graphic novels. The special also touches on the importance of comics to those young people known as "reluctant readers" and how comics provide a gateway to art and literature for many who might otherwise be lost.

Debuting at the Wexner Center for the Arts, with additional screenings at Comic-Con and Heroes-Con this summer, "The Cartoonist" has been getting excellent reviews. The film tells the inspiring story of Jeff Smith's creation of the epic comic book, BONE, hailed by critics as one of the greatest graphic novels of all time.

Fellow cartoonists SCOTT McCLOUD, COLLEEN DORAN, HARVEY PEKAR, PAUL POPE and TERRY MOORE, as well as friends, associates, experts and Jeff himself, share their stories of this worldwide phenomenon that began in small comics hobby shops and is now found in bookstores, schools, libraries and the homes of millions of adults and children in 25 countries. In addition to discussing Jeff's early years, influences and philosophies, the film provides a look at a unique industry and art form that continues to evolve as its audience expands.

Here's the trailer for the film:

If public TV stations show "The Cartoonist" during the November/December holiday period, we think the program will create a new demand for comics and graphic novels as gifts.

We hope you can take the time to call your local public TV station and express your interest. It does make a difference.

To find the public TV station nearest you, click on the link below:
PBS Station Finder

Here Comes AVATAR! Hard Sell Begins With New, Action-Filled Theatrical Trailer!

To hell with the muted, awestruck tone of the teaser. Fox is preparing to go live with a new theatrical trailer for AVATAR, and it is all about the sound and fury. This is the spot that's supposed to sell the uninitiated on James Cameron's IMAX 3D "game-changer". It's also the one you either saw in theaters this week or via an unwatchable bootleg on YouTube.

It will debut on Yahoo! Movies - in glorious Quicktime HD - tomorrow. For now, it is available in serviceable TrailerAddict HD. Have at.

Love that shot of badass Stephen Lang (as Colonel Quaritch) calmly knocking back a cup of joe as all hell breaks loose around him. I have a feeling he's going to be my favorite thing in this movie.

As for the storytelling, it looks like Cameron is going to be as direct with his message as he was in T2. I wasn't expecting a s***load of nuance from this film anyway, so as long as the characters are engaging and the action is ferocious, I'm okay with J.C.'s Stanley Kramer touch.

Overall, this is a very impressive trailer. My only caveat would be that, for all of its world-creating brio, the film feels kinda small in a weird way, like it's confined to about six or seven locations. Then again, the film is also close to three-hours long, so it's possible that Cameron is only sticking the tip in right now.

December 18, 2009, folks. Is this the AVATAR you've been dreaming of for the last decade?

The Dark Knight's Disappearing Act Goes Poorly In 'Batman Vanishing'

Okay, so you've seen The Joker Blogs and "The Dark Knight Kills Christmas"—but now it's time to make room for yet another Batman parody.

The folks at College Humor have combined the sheer comedy of "The Dark Knight Kills Christmas" with the spot-on accuracy of The Joker Blogs in "Batman Vanishing," a short film that shines the Bat-Signal on one of the Caped Crusader's trickiest elements—namely, his ability to vanish from sight at a moment's notice.

"Batman Vanishing" recreates a scene from "The Dark Knight" between Batman and Commissioner Gordon as they determine whether Harvey Dent is trustworthy enough to bring into their fold—except this time, the scene takes place on the Gotham Police Department's rooftop, and Batman's "vanishing trick" doesn't go quite as planned.

Aside from being absolutely hilarious and yielding yet another spot-on Christian Bale impersonation, "Batman Vanishing" calls out Batman's propensity for disappearing without a trace. In reality, as seen in the video, that trick doesn't work quite as well as it does in the comic books — and even when Batman does vanish from sight, it's likely that he's just hiding around the corner waiting for a good opportunity to use the front door.

If nothing else, it proves just how rude Batman can be. I know he's a crime-fighter and all, but seriously—how hard is it to say goodbye before you leave?

See 4 new making-of videos from Battlestar's The Plan

Why does Michael Truco calls Edward James Olmos "the best director I've ever worked with"? What does Olmos plan to do on the set that he calls "one of the most expensive pieces of rubble that's ever been created"? And what are the rules to the famous Battlestar sport Pyramid?

All this and more is revealed in four new making-of videos from Battlestar Galactica: The Plan.

Learn Who Plays The Title Character’s Daddy, The God Odin, In Kenneth Branagh’s THOR!!

The great Anthony Hopkins, who played Nordic King Hrothgar in 2007's Beowulf, will embody Odin, Nordic King of Asgard, in Kenneth Branagh’s adaptation of Marvel Comics’ “Thor.”

Hopkins joins Natalie Portman ("V For Vendetta"), who plays Thor’s girl Jane Foster, Tom Hiddelston ("Cranford"), who plays Thor’s ne’er-do-well brother Loki, and Chris Hemsworth (George Kirk in the last "Star Trek"), who plays the wielder of the giant hammer Mjöllnir.

Sam Jackson may be back as Nick Fury too.

Branagh directs from a screenplay by Mark Protosevich (“Poseidon,” “I Am Legend”) and Zack Stentz & Ashley Miller (“Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles,” “Fringe”).

Filming gets underway in January.

Find all of Variety’s story on the matter here.

(Thanks Aint It Cool)

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