Monday, November 16, 2009

News - 11/16/09...

A Day For Hand Drawn Animation - 2009

"A Day For Hand-Drawn Animation -2009"
(click on image to view it larger)

I posted about this last year , here:

with a follow-up post , here:

This annual "Day for Hand Drawn Animation" is sponsored by Tahsin and Lâle Özgür at Maltepe University in Istanbul .

All devotees of hand drawn animation are invited to mark the day , regardless of their geographical location. (the internet creates such a small world).

This year Tash and Lâle write:

November 18th, a Day for Hand-Drawn Animation

A universe of dreams and fantasy that opened up with
Steamboat Willie on November 18th, 1928, or even earlier, with Little Nemo in 1911. A universe wonderful for the spectator, and even more so for the artists and craftsmen.

The tradition is alive and well in 2009.

May we all celebrate, those of us who insist on keeping it alive, and those of us who never tire of watching!

-Tash & Lâle Özgür

I thought the point that Tash made last year about the distinction of "hand drawn animation" is important to repeat:

"We call it, in our quaint Oriental tongue, Çizgi Film Bayrami, which clumsily translates as "Line-Film Holiday" or something ... "Line-Film" being what we call this kind of film. English lacks a direct equivalent, and the more generic term "animation" might have even facilitated the CG takeover ("it's all animation, isn't it?")

Think of our concept of "line film" as closer to the French "dessin animé" ("animated drawing") - it's French, language of culture, so it probably has more weight in the argument. Which argument? Why, that
hand drawn animation is a distinct art form, and not simply a step on the way towards something else. "

(Thanks David Nethery)

`2012' has worldwide box-office bang of $225M

Doom spelled dollars at the box office as the global-disaster tale "2012" opened at No. 1 domestically with $65 million and pulled in $225 million worldwide.

The Sony Pictures action saga tells the story of a scramble to save remnants of humanity aboard giant arks as the earth's crust shifts and flood waters pour over most of the planet. With a cast led by John Cusack, Danny Glover and Chiwetel Ejiofor, "2012" was directed by doomsday specialist Roland Emmerich ("Independence Day," "The Day After Tomorrow").

Overseas, "2012" did $17.2 million in France, $15.3 million in Russia, $9.9 million in South Korea and $8.1 million in Spain.

Domestically, "2012" came in just shy of the $68.7 million opening weekend for "The Day After Tomorrow." But Sony reported that its global total was the best ever for an original movie not based on an established franchise, brand or best-selling novel.

"Roland is that type of filmmaker that casts his net really wide," said Rory Bruer, head of distribution for Sony. "The story is something people could really relate to. It's a story of the survival of humanity."

"Disney's A Christmas Carol" slipped to No. 2 with $22.3 million, down only 26 percent from its No. 1 opening gross a weekend earlier. The Jim Carrey holiday adventure raised its 10-day total to $63.3 million.

Big films typically can drop 50 percent or more in the second weekend, but the strong hold for "A Christmas Carol" indicates it could have a long shelf life through the holidays.

Lionsgate's acclaimed drama "Precious: Based on the Novel `Push' by Sapphire" broke into the top-10 as it expanded to more theaters after a huge debut in limited release the previous weekend.

Finishing at No. 4, "Precious" took in $6.1 million in 174 theaters, averaging $35,000 a cinema and raising its 10-day total to $8.9 million. That compared to a $19,095 average in 3,404 theaters for "2012."

With a cast that includes Mo'Nique, Mariah Carey and Lenny Kravitz, "Precious" stars newcomer Gabourey Sidibe as a Harlem teen pulling herself out of an abyss of illiteracy, incest and domestic abuse.

"Michael Jackson's "This Is It" added $5.1 million domestically to raise its total to $67.2 million. The Sony release became the all-time top-grossing music documentary, passing the $65.3 million total of last year's "Hannah Montana & Miley Cyrus: Best of Both Worlds Concert."

The weekend's other new wide release, Focus Features' rock 'n' roll comedy "Pirate Radio," opened a weak No. 11 with $2.9 million in 882 theaters, averaging $3,253 a cinema.

The ensemble cast of "Pirate Radio" features Philip Seymour Hoffman, Bill Nighy and Kenneth Branagh in a story about 1960s disc jockeys blasting illicit rock music into stodgy Britain from an offshore radio station aboard a tanker.

Starting in limited release, Fox Searchlight's animated comedy "Fantastic Mr. Fox" drew big audiences with $260,000 in four theaters, for a whopping average of $65,000 a cinema. The film expands to nationwide release the day before Thanksgiving.

George Clooney, Meryl Streep and Bill Murray lead the voice cast of "Fantastic Mr. Fox," adapted by director Wes Anderson from the Roald Dahl children's book about a poultry-thieving fox and three evil farmers.

Paramount's micro-budgeted horror flick "Paranormal Activity" pulled in $4.2 million to cross the $100 million mark. Shot for just $15,000, the supernatural tale rode a surge of online buzz to become a horror sensation, with a domestic gross now standing at $103.8 million.

Get Meatballs early — for a price

InteractiveTV Today reports that Sony will let owners of their Bravia brand HDTVs and BD players with networking capability rent their studios’ Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs a month before its January DVD release date. The catch (besides having to own certain Sony TVs)? The price — $24.95. Hiro Kawano, SVP of Sony Electronics’ Home Division business, said, “Given our breadth of content and strength in networked products, Sony is the first company to utilize its Internet-enabled TV’s and other networked devices to stream feature films directly to consumers’ televisions prior to availability on DVD or Blu-ray”.

Troubled MGM heading for the auction block?

Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Pictures, the once-fabled Hollywood major that has faced troubled times since the late 1960s, passing through various hands and ending up as little more than a production company with a famous name, is said to be on the way to a sale, as reported by Variety. This marks the second time in just a few years that the mini-studio has faced closure, with Sony and Warners both previously interested in the vast library of catalog titles, including its United Artists division’s James Bond and Pink Panther series. MGM has seen poor returns this year on duds such as the Fame remake, and Tom Cruise’s top position at UA has yet to yield any long-term results. Sources suggest Warners may buy the library, to compliment the pre-1986 MGM films it already owns, while Sony may purchase United Artists to keep hold of the 007 franchise, and the famous Leo the Lion logo split and sold elsewhere.

Disney profits up; consumer DVD spending down

In a generally buoyant marketplace, the major entertainment conglomerates have posted better than expected returns for the summer, with Disney the last to announce an 18% rise in profits. This is despite a couple of theatrical misfires, including the Jerry Bruckheimer produced G-Force, and lower than usual consumer spending on DVDs, according to Video Business Magazine. President and CEO Robert Iger continues to shuffle the company’s toppers around following the departure of Dick Cook, moving home entertainment chief Bob Chapek into an expanded role that also includes theatrical and, a major point of focus for Disney’s future, digital distribution.

VES to Give Cameron Lifetime Achievement Honor

The Visual Effects Society will honor director James Cameron with its Lifetime Achievement Award at its 8th annual VES Awards Ceremony.

The award will honor Cameron for his vision and dedication to the craft of storytelling and visual effects as a tool for achieving that goal. Cameron’s credits include The Terminator, Aliens, Terminator 2: Judgment Day, True Lies, Titanic and the upcoming Avatar.

“James Cameron has set the gold standard for storytelling by combining true creative artistry along with the latest advances in technology to bring incredible stories to the screen,” said Eric Roth, executive director of the VES. “Over the past few decades he has been the pre-eminent director of big vision, big story extravaganzas and has redefined the movie going experience for filmgoers worldwide.”

“I've loved visual effects my whole life, and it's been an ongoing thrill to be able to practice that art and to work with the best artists and technical people in the business to realize my dream images as a director,” said Cameron. “It is an incredible honor to be receiving this award."

Previous winners of the VES Lifetime Achievement Award include Steven Spielberg, George Lucas, Robert Zemeckis, and Frank Marshall & Kathleen Kennedy.

(Thanks Animation Magazine)

Ed, Edd ’n Eddy Movie Wraps Show with Big Ratings

It took more than a year to play in the United States after first playing abroad, but the American premiere of Ed, Edd ’n Eddy’s Big Picture Show was a ratings hit for Cartoon Network.

The film, which had previously played in Scandinavia, Australia and Southeast Asia, aired as the culmination of a two-day programming event that featured a pair of seven-hour marathons of the show last Saturday and Sunday.

The movie serves as the finale for the popular series, which aired more than 130 episodes and four specials on Cartoon Network from 1999 to 2009.

Created by Danny Antonucci and produced by Canada’s Cartoon Inc., the series won many awards during its run, including the Ruben Award for Best Television Animation and a Leo Award for Antonucci as Best Director of an Animated Production.

Ratings-wise, the movie earned double and triple-digit ratings and delivery gains among all kids demos, including a 73 percent gains among kids 6-11, 56 percent gains among kids 2-11 and 145 gains among kids 9-14.

(Thanks Animation Magazine)

"Astro Boy" sound editor George Simpson dead at 64

George E. Simpson, a sound editor for the just-released Imagi feature film Astro Boy, died November 1 following a heart attack. He was 64.

Simpson had been a sound effects editor and supervising sound editor at Weddington, Technicolor Sound and Soundelux for the past 25 years, working on such films as Training Day, Shooter, The Mist, Tears of the Sun, Lethal Weapon 4, Dante's Peak and Conspiracy Theory.

He shared a 2004 Golden Reel Award nomination from Motion Picture Sound Editors, USA for Best Sound Editing in Direct to Video in connection with the 2002 production Unconditional Love.

Born in New York on November 10, 1944, he joined the film industry in the early 1970s as an editor in Universal's trailer department. There, he met future writing collaborator Neal S. Burger. The two wrote 1974 TV-movie The Disappearance of Flight 412 as their first writing credit, based on one of Burger's Air Force UFO experiences.

Simpson and Burger would write five books for Dell Publishing, including Ghostboat, which Granada TV adapted for a British mini-series.

George E. Simpson is survived by daughter Anna-Claire and sister Jane.

Fumiko’s Confession

The film’s sound track is a bit annoying, but this short has an energy that’s undeniable. It’s called Fumiko no Kokuhaku (or Fumiko’s Confession) and apparently it’s an independent production produced by 21-year-old student and aspiring animator, Hiroyasu Ishida. Ishida has also posted a production blog (in Japanese) featuring storyboards, backgrounds and character designs.

Director/Animation/Background/3D CG/Editing/Sound: Hiroyasu Ishida (a.k.a. Tete)
Background/3D CG Textures: Yūko Iwase
3D CG Textures/Background: Kazuhiro Murakami
Animation: Tatsurō Kawano
3D CG Modeling: Yūsaku Nagata

(Thanks, Marc Gagnon and Anime News Network)

(Thanks cartoon brew)

Tim Burton’s MoMA Spot

The Tim Burton retrospective opens on November 22 at MoMA. Animation has played a significant role in Burton’s career, and continues to figure into his work as evidenced by this animated trailer he created to promote the exhibit:

(Thanks cartoon brew)

Suspended Animation provides online showcase for the non-Disney art of noted Disney artists

Jim Hill chats with Tenny Chonin, the former head of Artist Development for Walt Disney Animation Studios, about the new web-based gallery that she launched last month

If you’ve ever been lucky enough to get inside the Sorcerer Mickey building, you HAVE TO go check out the 1300 corridor.

Copyright Disney. All Rights Reserved

This is where the personal artwork of Walt Disney Animation Studios staffers is displayed. They literally just wrapped up this year’s Halloween show, which was full of kooky, crazy, creepy paintings.

It’s only when you look at all this art, the wide variety of styles & techniques that are on display here, that you then get a sense of the huge amount of talent that works for WDAS. All those artists and animators who hide their own lights under a bushel so that they can then better serve the project at hand (i.e. whatever animated short or feature Disney currently has in production).

Mind you, until just recently, the only way that you’d ever get to see any of these paintings was if you A) worked for Walt Disney Feature Animation or B) you managed to slip by Security. But all that changed late last month when officially threw open its virtual doors.

"The Columbia" by George Scribner. Copyright 2009 Suspended Animation Gallery. All images protected by copyright

Founded by Tenny Chonin, WDAS’s former head of Artist Development, Suspended Animation Gallery looks to replicate the 1300 corridor experience online. Giving animation fans the chance to view – and possibly purchase – the non-Disney artwork of some of your favorite Disney artists.

“This is something that I’ve been thinking about doing for quite a while now,” Chonin said. “I actually bought the domain name three years ago. I wanted to create a showcase for all those talented people that I used to work with at Disney. Giving them the opportunity to reach out, expand the audience for their artwork.”

Tenny’s all about artists expanding their horizons. In the twelve years that she ran WDAS’s Artist Development program, she and a staff of up to 20 offered upwards of 200 courses. Each of them designed to give Disney staffers the chance to add to their skill sets.

Suspended Animation Gallery founder Tenny Chonin (left) and literary legend Ray Bradbury

“Mind you, we weren’t just offering drawing classes,” Chonin explained. “We had acting and improv classes, and as part of our lunchtime lecture series, we had creative talents such as Ray Bradbury & J.J. Abrams come in and talk about storytelling.”

And it wasn’t only animators who took advantage of these WDAS programs. Tenny recalled how several suits and production manager types decided to use Artist Development as a way to try to spread their wings.

“We actually had Ed Catmull come in and take a few of our sculpture classes,” Chonin continues. “Like everyone else who attended, he didn’t have to bring anything. We supplied all of the necessary materials. All he had to do was walk in the door.”

"Dance" by Mauro Maressa. Copyright 2009 Suspended Animation Gallery All images protected by copyright

Tenny’s trying to bring that same sort of one-stop sensibility to Make it easy for all the talented artists & animators who work at Disney to get their non-Disney artwork out in front of the public.

“I believe passionately in this idea,” Chonin stated. “The walls of my own home are covered with artwork like this. Paintings that I purchased over the years from people that I used to work with at Disney. I genuinely believe that there’s an audience out there that’s hungry for artwork like this. The non-Disney paintings & sculptures that Disney artists produce. I’m just hoping that Suspended Animation Gallery can become the online showcase for this material.”

As of this moment, only has the work of 10 Disney staffers on display. But given who decided to get in on the ground floor with Tenny – Mike Gabriel, Lisa Keene, Christopher Greco, Margie Daniels, Dan Platt among others – it appears that this online gallery is off to a really great start.

"Star Study 4" by Mike Gabriel. Copyright 2009 Suspended Animation Gallery All images protected by copyright

Another 10 artists & animators are expected to sign on with Suspended Animation shortly. Which is why you should probably make a point of regularly circling back on this online art gallery. To see what new paintings & sculptures are now on display.

“That’s what we’re trying to do here,” Chonin concluded. “Create something that’s as memorable and dynamic as the 1300 corridor at Feature Animation is.”

Of course, the best part about is that you don’t have to sneak past the guards on the Burbank lot in order to see all of these paintings. All you have to do is stop, point & clink.

"Crossing Main" by Christopher Greco. Copyright 2009 Suspended Animation Gallery All images protected by copyright

Speaking of which … If you’d like to see some of the sculpture & artwork that Suspended Animation currently has on display / available for purchase, please click on this link.

FYI: If you'd like to meet Ms. Chonin in person, she'll be moderating a roundtable at the first annual CTN Animation Expo. Tenny will be sitting down with industry vets like Eric Goldberg & Chris Williams to discuss how they approached working on some of this year's biggest productions. Hosted by Animation Mentor, this sure-to-be-lively discussion -- entitled "An Animation Career Snapshot" -- will be held in Room 2 at the Burbank Convention Center on Sunday, November 22nd beginning at 12 noon.

For further information on the first CTN Animation Expo, please click on this link.

No charges in fatal police shooting of animator

Government prosecutors have decided against laying charges against a Vancouver police officer who shot an animator eight times on the street, killing him, more than two years ago.

And that decision is leaving the victim's father asking why civilian witnesses didn't provide input.

"I was told it was a thorough investigation and it would be a balanced report but, to me, it doesn't seem at all balanced," David Boyd told the Globe and Mail.

"An exhaustive review, involving senior prosecutors within the Criminal Justice Branch, has resulted in the conclusion that there is insufficient evidence to establish that the officer's use of force was excessive in the circumstances," the Criminal Justice Branch said in its seven-page report, which was released Monday.

Paul Boyd, an animator with Global Mechanic, died from gunshot wounds -- including a bullet to the head -- at the hands of Vancouver police on the night of August 13, 2007. The 39-year-old, who had suffered from bipolar disorder for two decades and had been severely depressed, allegedly attacked police with a bicycle chain. He was shot after a struggle with officers.

A director of Ed, Edd n' Eddy, he was the animator behind the intro sequence on the series. He was a director of The Mr. Hell Show, and provided animation for Gary Larson's Tales From the Far Side and Mucha Lucha!

Boyd had taught first-semester classical animation for the computer-generated animation course at the Vancouver Film School. He was also director of animation and -- with Matthew Charde -- co-executive producer of "Eat and Move," two hand-drawn Flash-animated television PSAs for the Province of Alberta.

The report said that when Boyd was free of symptoms, he was "a stable, intelligent and thoughtful person."

The officer who shot Boyd is still on duty.

Uncertain whether charges should have been laid, David Boyd said that he will need time to consult his family to decide his next step. But, he said, the report appears to rely solely on the observations of police officers involved in the incident.

"Very little weight seems to be given to the independent witnesses, so I am quite disappointed at that," he said.

The report said that Paul Boyd appeared cooperative at first when confronted by an officer, who drew his firearm, but that he swung the chain and began a struggle that injured two officers. One officer then fired nine shots, hitting the animator eight times.

The officer believed that Boyd had to be wearing body armor. He was not.

"While Mr. Boyd was struck and knocked down or partially knocked down by seven shots, he continued to get up and advance or attempt to get up and advance on the officer after each shot," said the statement.

The police officer fired a final shot to Boyd's head. "He did not get up again," the statement said.

Government spokesman Neil MacKenzie disputed David Boyd's criticism, contending that the Criminal Justice Branch considered the evidence of 55 civilian witnesses: "The branch proceeded on the basis of all of the available evidence."

But Boyd's father said it strains credibility to think that his son remained a threat after being shot multiple times.

"After being shot seven times, I can't see that he was a Terminator getting up and coming at them in an aggressive way after that. I find that very hard to believe," he said.

All involved in the investigation parties agree that Paul Boyd had stopped taking medication for his bipolar condition. While his father said his son generally was able to deal with his illness, he may not have been attentive to his own needs because of worry about his mother being diagnosed with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis. That disease which killed her five months after the shooting.

In a statement, the Vancouver police expressed their condolences to Boyd's family. "We remain very sensitive to the needs of the mentally ill and their families and make it our highest priority to protect the safety of those in our care and custody," the statement read.

Bruce Brown of the Office of the Police Complaint Commissioner stated that his office is monitoring a Vancouver Police Deparment professional standards investigation into the officer's conduct.

It's hardly surprising that an investigation led by the police department didn't end in charges against one of its officers, said the British Columbia Civil Liberties Association.

"The [Criminal Justice Branch] has acted as judge and jury and prevented this serious set of allegations from going to the truth-finding process of trial, something that simply wouldn't happen for a member of the public," said BCCLA executive director David Eby.

"If the outcome was so uncertain it took two years of investigation to come to this point, how can the CJB argue that a criminal conviction was not possible on the evidence?"

Chinese rip-off of Presto

Trying to find a free online version of Doug Sweetland’s Pixar short Presto, reader Michael Rianda instead found this: a Chinese knock-off. Rianda writes:

Some group of people completely reanimated and remodeled, a shot-for-shot remake of Presto (except for the crucial addition of a color changing iguana). And it’s a complete testament to the power of character animation. It’s the exact same story, timing and sound as Presto, except it’s about 100 times worse because the animation is so bad. The gags don’t come across, you don’t feel as much for the characters….it just doesn’t work.

Check it out in a side-by-side viewing for yourself:

(Thanks cartoon brew)

Spanish Stop Motion Team Offers Evolutionary Ultimatum

Spaniard Pablo Llorens, the head of Potens Plastianimation, brought this thoughtful, 10-minute, stop-motion film to life. It’s titled El Ultimatum Evolutivo (The Evolutionary Ultimatum), and it was produced in conjunction with Setem. The film is a cautionary tale, aiming to illustrate the ill effects of wasteful consumption.

Keith Cares, But Dr. Tran Has a Boner

The new Dr. Tran Mail has arrived in your computer’s mail slot. It’s titled Keith Cares, but I think we can offically call this The Boner Episode. Big props to series creators Breehn Burns and Jason Johnson – and to artist/animator Mark Salisbury who must have 4 arms and 6 secret animation assistants hiding in his closet. More Dr. Tran awaits you over at Mondo Mini Shows (boner not included).

CH/CH From McBess IS/IS Awesome

Back in May, we posted the gorgeous music video for the Dead Pirates’ song (Dirty Melody) Wood. The band is led by McBess (aka Matthieu Bessudo), and you must stop reading right now and start watching this (short) video below, which Simon Landrein also helped on. (Why are you still reading?) It’s titled CH/CH, which means Chiasse & Chatte, and the project was completed in conjunction with The Mill.

Electric Playground Interviews Dave Filoni & Joel Aron on "Star Wars: The Clone Wars"

Electric Playground has posted two video interviews with cast and crew members of Star Wars: The Clone Wars, focusing on supervising director Dave Filoni and and CG supervisor Joel Aron. In both video interviews, the two discuss their roles on the show and what it's like to work on such an iconic property. Several cast members are also interviewed, including James Arnold Taylor (who demonstrates how he arrives at his Obi-Wan Kenobi character) and Dee Bradley Baker (who demonstrates several different clone trooper voices).

Upcoming "Justice League Unlimited" Animated Episodes Scheduled For Cartoon Network

Cartoon Network has released schedule details for the next two episodes of Justice League Unlimited slated to air in the coming weeks on the network.

Two more episodes of the fan-favorite Justice League Unlimited animated series are scheduled to air in the coming weeks on Cartoon Network. Airing Saturday nights in the 9:30pm (ET) timeslot on said network, the animated series runs as part of the new Saturday night "You Are Here!" programming block on Cartoon Network. Expanding upon the current "You Are Here" Friday night installment, the new Saturday block also includes reruns of the Batman: The Brave and The Bold animated series along with other action-oriented programs. The upcoming Justice League Unlimited episode schedule details are available below.

Justice League Unlimited
Saturday, November 21st, 2009 at 9:30pm (ET) on Cartoon Network -
"29 Chaos at the Earth's Core"

Supergirl, Stargirl and Green Lantern go to Skartaris, the fantastic, hidden world at the Earth's core, to help free it from the rule of a brutal dictator.

Justice League Unlimited
Saturday, December 5th, 2009 at 9:30pm (ET) on Cartoon Network -
"30 To Another Shore"

Wonder Woman stumbles onto a plot to steal the powers hidden inside the 3000-year-old, frozen remains of the legendary hero, the Viking Prince.

Justice League Unlimited airs Saturday nights at 9:30pm (ET) as part of the "You Are Here" Saturday night programming block on Cartoon Network. Please note schedule details are subject to change without notice. Other Justice League Unlimited episode airdate details are available here.

Click here for further details on the Justice League Unlimited animated series.

Why Animation Keeps Expanding -- Part 13

Rentrak announces the reasons animation keeps booming.

1) G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra
Ice Age: Dawn of the Dinosaurs
Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen
Tinker Bell And The Lost Treasure
The Taking of Pelham 1 2 3
The Proposal
Ice Age 3: Dawn of the Dinosaurs
Aliens in the Attic
Star Wars: The Clone Wars - The Complete Season One

So do the counting. Pure toonage occupies the 2nd, 4th, 7th and 10th positions. The semi-animated Transformers sits at #3, and there's dollops of animation sprinkled atop a couple of the others.

If you have the right skill sets, the odds are relatively high that you won't lack gainful employment.

(Thanks Animation Guild Blog)

Dock Ellis & The LSD No-No by James Blagden

Dock Ellis & The LSD No-No by James Blagden isn’t going to win any awards for its animation, but it packs a real punch as a short film. Actually, it’d be hard to screw up the story, which is a colorful recording by former baseball pitcher Dock Ellis describing how he pitched a no-hitter in 1970 while under the influence of LSD. Much of the short’s success comes from Ellis’s storytelling—his line “Ooh, I just made a touchdown” is hilarious even without drawings—while Blagden’s semi-realistic illustration style and oddball eye movements on the characters provide enough visual accompaniment to make it work. Even the amateurish filmmaking elements, like unnecessarily dividing the film up into parts, didn’t ruin the overall effect for me. Ellis, for his part, became an anti-drug crusader before he passed away last year.

(Thanks cartoon brew)

Raymond Scott, Doc!

Film editor Stan Warnow has made a documentary about his father, the musician/composer/inventor Raymond Scott. Deconstructing Dad: the Music, Machines and Mystery of Raymond Scott is now playing film festivals around the world. The six minute preview above explains it all, with commentary from musicians Mark Mothersbaugh, John Williams, historians Irwin Chusid, Will Friedwald, producer Hal Willner and many more. I can’t wait to see the whole thing.

(Thanks, Craig Clark)

(Thanks cartoon brew)

The Next Big Thing

So here comes the Game Changer.

... To observe Cameron directing "Avatar" is to witness filmmaking as it's never been done before. Whereas most movies add all of their visual effects in post-production, Cameron was able to see fully composited shots in real time: The actors he was directing may have been performing in front of a blank green screen, but Cameron's camera eyepiece -- not to mention giant 3-D television monitors -- immediately displayed lush, synthetic backgrounds ...

"The revolution, the change that Jim has brought about is that for the first time the CGI-created characters have a reality and an emotionality that completely conveys the actors' performances," said Tom Rothman, co-chairman of Fox Filmed Entertainment. "That was the big leap -- that you would care about a CGI-created character."

Uh ... I guess these folks have never seen any other CGI-created characters before.

Maybe Avatar will be the greatest piece of movie-making since The Wizard of Oz, but when I saw the trailer in glorious Big Screen Three Dee, I thought:

"Gee. It's J. J. Abrams' Star Trek meets Bill Kroyer's Ferngully."

Which, I donno, might catapult us to new new heights in feature-length entertainment, but swear to God, I just don't see it.

Somebody please educate me, quick. Because when I see moving foregrounds, moving backgrounds, and lots of tumbling actors all wrapped inside three dimensions, I get a headache.

OTOH, it will undoubtedly have a stupendous opening weekend, it might be totally enchanting despite the trailer, and it has put a hell of a lot of animators and technical directors to work.

(Thanks Animation Guild Blog)

THOR Bringing The Thunder In January

Marvel's big screen adaptation of 'Thor' is approaching it's start date. A tweet from Production Weekly provides the details.

Camera's roll on the God of Thunder in Los Angeles in Mid-January. The shoot then moves to Santa Fe, New Mexico in March and continues there until mid-April.

Kenneth Branagh is directing the film. Chris Hemsworth stars as the arrogant lightning lord, cast down to Midgard (that's "Earth" to you mortals), by the all-father Odin (played by Anthony Hopkins). He's plagued by the malevolent Loki (Tom Hiddleston).

Also cast are Natalie Portman as Jane Foster, Jaime Alexander as the Lady Sif and Colm Feore.

Marvel Studios’ Kevin Feige will produce 'Thor'. The film will be released in the US on May 20, 2011 and distributed by Paramount Pictures.

Times are tough! Creditors try to repossess Galactica

Collection agencies can be annoying here on Earth, but it's even worse in deep space.

We're not sure whether the crew of the Battlestar Galactica got a bit behind, or if it was a computer error, but whatever the reason, the Caprica Collection Agency starts badgering for those back payments in this fan video. Good thing Commander Adama and President Roslin know just how to handle the situation!

Check it out below.

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