Thursday, May 6, 2010

News - 05/06/10...

Pres-Aid Update

Here's a Pres-Aid update via his Facebook page -

This note is for Pres's animator/artist friends out there -- many of you have been contacted about donating, but I know there are 5 more we haven't contacted for every person we have. So consider this your official invitation: if you're interested in helping Pres through the art auction, do a cool sketch, or dig a production drawing out of your collection, and send it along. I need to get any donations by mid-May if possible. No worries if you're too busy, but if you are so inclined, now's the time! Take a look at to see some of the wonderful donations we've been getting. You can send yours to The Animation Guild, 1105 N. Hollywood Way, Burbank, CA 91505. And thank you. I know all the good wishes here and the generous donations have really kept Pres's spirits up.

Enough with the sequels, DreamWorks?

The L. A. Times makes the case against DreamWorks going the sequel route with their latest hit How to Train Your Dragon. Their thought is that DreamWorks should focus more on creating standalone new ideas rather than constantly mining successful past properties.

Custom JibJab Clip Celebrates 30 Years of Empire Strikes Back

It was just about 30 years ago that Darth Vader and the Empire routed the Rebels at Hoth in The Empire Strikes Back — and now JibJab is letting people put themselves in the movie.

Thanks to a deal with Lucasfilm, the online animation site lets users upload photos of themselves to be included in a brief and humorous retelling of The Empire Strikes Back.

After watching their movie, users can share the video with friends via email, Facebook and Twitter. Custom versions of the videos are available as premium downloads for users who want to save them forever on their computers or watch them on their iPhones.

“What better way to celebrate Empire’s 30th anniversary than to allow fans to become part of the story,” said Bill Gannon, Director of Digital Media at Lucasfilm. “JibJab’s inventive technology allows us to experience Star Wars in an all-new way. It’s really a great partnership, and we are thrilled with what they’ve done with the saga; it’s lots of fun.”

The Empire Strikes Back video is free, with Star Wars: A New Hope and Return of the Jedi versions available exclusively for JibJab members.

Check out the feature at

(Thanks Animation Magazine)

NFB Unveils Cannes Short Film Contest Finalists

Voting is opened for the sixth National Film Board of Canada’s Online Short Film Contest — Cannes 2010, with ten films vying for a spotlight at the famed film festival’s annual market.

This year’s finalist films, both animated and live-action, were selected by short-film expert Danny Lennon. They are:

· The Technician, by Simon-Olivier Fecteau (Canada)
· Love & Theft, by Andreas Hykade (Germany)
· The Story of My Life, by Pierre Ferriere (France)
· Crash! Bang! Wallow?, by Jon Dunleavy and Keith Wilson-Signer (United Kingdom)
· Mother of Many, by Emma Lazenby (United Kingdom)
· Forbidden Tree, by Banafsheh Modaressi (Iran)
· Annie Goes Boating, by Noel Paul (United States)
· Awake, by Thaid Dhi (Czech Republic)
· The Last Passenger, by Mounes Khammar (Algeria)
· The Report Card, by Alessandro Celli (Italy)

Voting is open now through May 17 at

The festival is held in association with the Cannes Short Film Corner and YouTube. The ten finalists in last year’s contest recorded nearly 180,000 views.

The winning film will be announced during the Short Film Corner Happy Hour at Cannes on May 20, with the winning filmmaker receiving as a prize a digital camera/HD video camera and a laptop computer.

(Thanks Animation Magazine)

UCLA Festival Honors Alumnus Animator Cartwright

Animator Randy Cartwright, whose credits include such Disney movies as Pete’s Dragon, Beauty and the Beast and The Princess and the Frog, will receive the Outstanding Contribution to Animation Award at the UCLA 2010 Festival of New Creative Work.

The festival, put on by the UCLA School of Theater, Film and Television, is an eight-day event set for June 4-10 that spotlights more than 100 films from the school’s students as well as presentations of screenplays and producer-developed projects.

Cartwright, a UCLA alumnus, will receive the honor at the Animation Prom event, set for June 5 at 7:30 p.m. The prom features a collection of new animated student films and will be presented in two screenings, set for 4 p.m. and 7:30 p.m. at the James Bridges Theater on the UCLA campus.

Admission is free for all events, but space is limited and reservations are required. For a full schedule of events and to reserve seating during UCLA 2010 Festival of New Creative Work, please visit

(Thanks Animation Magazine)

Murphy Promoted to President of Corus

Doug Murphy has been promoted to president of Corus Entertainment, which includes the animation studio Nelvana Studios as well as broadcast outlets Treehouse, YTV and Nickelodeon (Canada).

Murphy most recently oversaw the kids business division of the company and joined Corus in 2002. He will replace Paul Robertson.

Murphy will report to president and CEO John Cassaday.

(Thanks Animation Magazine)

Q&A by the Rauch Brothers

Q&A is an affectionate little short that debuted last year but was posted online just yesterday. It’s directed by the Brooklyn-based Rauch Brothers, which is headed by brothers Mike and Tim (who animated the film single-handedly):

Joshua Littman, a 12-year-old boy with Asperger’s syndrome, interviews his mother, Sarah. Joshua’s unique questions and Sarah’s loving, unguarded answers reveal a beautiful relationship that reminds us of the best—and the most challenging—parts of being a parent.

The brothers Rauch are busy working on more animated collaborations with Storycorps, the American oral history project that airs weekly on NPR. A series of five new animated shorts based on Storycorps recordings will debut on the PBS documentary program POV in August 2010.

(Thanks Cartoon Brew)

Volume 9 of the “Walt’s People” series features some great behind-the-scenes stories

Jim Hill reviews the latest installment in this excellent collection of paperbacks. Where noted Disney historians share some of their very best Mouse House-related interviews & articles

Good God. Are we really already be up to Volume 9 in the “Walt’s People” series?

I can recall when Disney Historian Didier Ghez initially proposed these books (which – if I’m remembering correctly – was sometime back during the Pleistocene Epoch) that would collect & then reprint the very best Mouse-related interviews & articles. It seemed like a pretty audacious idea at the time. But Didier reached out to people like John Canemaker, Dave Smith, John Culhane and Christopher Finch. And thanks to Mr. Ghez’s persistence, these respected researchers & authors ultimately opened their files and all this great Disney-centric material began spilling out.

And having just read all 541 pages of this brand-new paperback (which just came available for purchase yesterday), I honestly have to say that these “Walt’s People” books just keep getting better and better. I mean, where else are you going to hear great behind-the-scenes stories like Tom Sito’s tale of Ron Clements & John Musker ‘s struggles to come up with a suitable ending for “Aladdin.”

As Sito recalls, this 1992 Walt Disney Pictures release – at one time, anyway – was supposed to …

… end by going back to the peddler who is in the first sequence who sings the Arabian Nights song. After Aladdin and Jasmine flew away on the carpet, the peddler was supposed to sing a reprise of Arabian Nights. Duncan Marjoribanks was going to animate the peddler. At one point we would indicate that the peddler was the Genie in disguise.

The interesting thing was that when we ran the film for test audiences, as soon as Aladdin kisses Jasmine and they fly off on the carpet, the entire audience stood up and left the theatre. Ron and John looked at me and the other guys, “I think they just told us where the movie ends.”

Copyright Disney Enterprises, Inc. All Rights Reserved

Or – better yet – how about longtime Imagineer Jack Ferges’ story of the abuse that the Audio Animatronic star of Disney’s big show for the 1964 New York World’s Fair, “Great Moments with Mr. Lincoln,” used to receive?

As Jack explained to Paul F. Anderson, it was all because of those …

… ball bearings! (The kids of Queens) would go to the Swedish Pavilion (SKF Industries) and they had this machine cranking out these ball bearings about as big as a marble. These punk kids would come back in with a slingshot. They thought Lincoln was a real guy. They would shoot at him. They were trying to make him duck or flinch or something. They knocked one eye out which was damned expensive. They busted his teeth about three times.

Copyright Disney Enterprises, Inc. All Rights Reserved

Mind you, Abe wasn’t the only one who took a beating while working for Mickey. As Margaret Kerry recalled to Jim Korkis, more than her ego got bruised while shooting the live-action reference footage for “Peter Pan.”

You remember (that scene in the finished version of this 1953 Walt Disney Productions release where Tinker Bell) falls over backwards in Wendy's dresser drawer? Well, they had me falling over backwards onto a mattress. The mattress was about half an inch thick, or at least it seemed that thin, and I went over backwards, and I went “thud.” The look on my face of surprise and pain was identical to the one Tink has in the finished film.

You know how this season of “Lost” has featured the Sideways universe (i.e. What would have happened to the passengers on Oceanic 815 if their flight had landed safely in LA)? Well, Volume 9 of “Walt’s People” often allows you take a Sideways glance at the Disney theme parks. Hear about attractions that never got built like …

Bruce Gordon sitting next to a model of the attraction that was originally known as Zip-a-Dee-Dah River Run. Copyright Disney Enterprises, Inc. All Rights Reserved

… the Moonshine Express, a ride, which much later morphed into Splash Mountain.

Or how about that 1990s-era project that Imagineer Julie Svendsen worked on with Jeff Burke. A proposed attraction for the Parks that was to have been …

… based on the animated feature One Hundred and One Dalmatians. We designed it as a dark ride. We thought then and we still think now that it would have been a terrific attraction, but it just never got off the ground.

Copyright Disney Enterprises, Inc. All Rights Reserved

Volume 9 of “Walt’s People” takes you to all sorts of places that Disneyana fans rarely get to go to. Like the second floor of the old Animation Building. Where – according to Floyd Norman -- Disney Legend Ken Anderson spent the early part of the 1970s …

… developing a project called Scruffy. The movie was based on an idea about the Apes of Gibraltar, and as you can imagine, it featured a zany cast of monkeys. However, the story was set during the Second World War and Nazis were also involved. Sounds like a winning combination, don't you think? Monkeys and Nazis?

Did you think that film idea sounded kind of bizarre? Well, wait ‘til you hear about how Frank Thomas & Ollie Johnston spent much of 1985 doing story work on an “Alvin & the Chipmunks” animated feature. Or how Johnny Mercer was originally supposed to write some songs for Walt Disney Productions’ 1973 release, “Robin Hood”? Or how Disney Studios’ sales department initially thought that “Mary Poppins” would never be able to become an international hit because – as Jack Cutting recalled -- …

Copyright Disney Enterprises, Inc. All Rights Reserved

… they didn't think (that Cutting would be able to) find foreign talent who could match Julie Andrews' performance. Fortunately I was able to. In fact, after testing many voices, I found a little-known singer in Paris whose pitch and range was identical to Julie Andrews, and when we were mixing the French version in Paris I had a special tape made of the Spoonful of Sugar vocal routine in which the sound jumped back and forth from French to English, and I sent it to the Studio for those concerned to hear. They were so impressed by the remarkable similarity of the French woman's rendition to Julie Andrews they called Julie Andrews in to hear the trick recording, and she said that she was amazed that she spoke and sang in French so well.

That’s the real beauty of Volume 9 of “Walt’s People.” There’s Mouse House history here that I’ve never, ever heard about before. Like how Bill Walsh was offered Walt’s old job of overseeing Disney Studio in the Spring of 1967. But Walsh ultimately turned this job offer down because this veteran producer didn’t think that he’d ever be able to fill Walt’s shoes.

From beginning to end, this 541-page paperback is a fascinating read. And speaking of endings … Let me close this review of Volume 9 of the “Walt’s People” series out by sharing yet another great behind-the-scenes story. Which comes to us courtesy of Tom Sito. As part of his interview, this animation industry ver talks about how “Who Framed Roger Rabbit” ‘s classic closing shot ultimately came together.

Copyright Amblin Entertainment & Disney Enterprises, Inc. All Rights Reserved

Andreas Deja did the level of Porky Pig coming up, turning to the audience and saying,“That’s all, folks.” But because it was a Disney-funded project, Disney didn’t like the idea of their big movie ending on a Warner Bros. character. That was not going to happen. So they brought in Tinker Bell to come in and tap Porky on the nose and this little spray of Disney dust, and then it goes to the first of the end credits.

The funny thing was that the Tinker Bell was stock from “the morgue.” Ordered up by Steve Hickner. I think that original scene was done by Clair Weeks, one of the animators from Peter Pan. That was the last animation in the picture.

For further information on how you can get your hands on a copy of this new Xlibris release and/or some of the earlier volumes of the “Walt’s People” series, please click on this link.

Cool Stuff: Wing Chun Mechanical Arms

This quick bit of animation was created by Anthony McGrath and put online in 2008. In it, mechanical arms practice a martial art form against a wooden dummy. McGrath mentions Digital Domain's mechanical legs advertisement (VFX Breakdown, Final) as a source of inspiration, along with a passion for both animation and Wing Chun. The piece was modelled, textured and animated in Maya. It was then rendered in MentalRay and had post production effects applied in After Effects. It looks like a great deal of work went into it and the arms were animated well. Kudos to McGrath.

The Croods Move Along

The Hollywood Reporter tells us that more voices have been cast for the new Chris Sanders and Kirk DeMicco picture about cave people from the olden times:

Catherine Keener and Emma Stone are going to be hanging around with some real Neanderthals.

The actresses are joining the voice cast of DreamWorks Animation’s caveman-era comedy
“The Croods.” Nicolas Cage already has been cast as Grug, the patriarch of a family pushed out of its home by an earthquake ...

I've chit-chatted with a few artists on the picture, they tell me that Mr. Sanders has been running himself ragged working on The Croods while still doing publicity work for Dragon. "He's off to Japan for a new opening," a staffer told me, "In between all the premieres he's writing on the script. We had some sessions blocking things out, but he's been pretty stretched ..."

By and by, the globe-trotting will end, and Mr. Sanders will get to focus on the new epic.

(Thanks Animation Guild Blog)

The Stuntman Who Goes Crash! Bang! Wallow?

Jon Dunleavy and Keith Wilson-Singer directed this poetic short about ex-stuntman Larry LeTan. Crash! Bang! Wallow? is a 4-minute CG-short about the man behind the man – the stuntman who makes Sly look slick and Arnie look like an army.

Top 5 Martial Artists of Animation

There have been many martial artists in animation. Some of these characters are the perfect embodiment of stealth and cunning, others wield remarkable power, and still others are remarkably skilled and look spectacularly awesome on the screen. As tough as it is to choose, the following is a list of five particularly impressive animated martial artists that have more than proven their remarkable abilities. Enjoy and let loose with what you think!

5. Spike Spiegel

Before Mugen's improbable breakdancing swordplay in Samurai Champloo, there was Spike's martial arts in Cowboy BeBop. Spike is a user of Jeet Kune Do, a real discipline of martial arts founded by Bruce Lee that calls on the user to use simple, direct movements with a variety of moves from different styles--in short, to practice a style of fighting that defies style and is flexible "like water." Sure, he carries a trusty sidearm, but when things get up close and personal Spike relies on his considerable skill and finds ways to survive. Given his difficulty against some tougher opponents like Vicious and Vincent (in the BeBop movie) Spike isn't quite as superior as other martial artists on this list, but he's got the skill and he's got the style. When Spike is fighting at his best, he makes martial arts look easy--and very cool.

4. The Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles

If nothing else, the TMNT are arguably the most famous martial artists in animation ever since the original 1987 cartoon. They may have arguably started out being best known for "Cowabunga!" and Pizza rather than their fighting prowess, but much has changed since the Turtles first came to television. In the original comic by Kevin Eastman and Peter Laird, they were hardcore and took no prisoners. When their second cartoon series came along in 2003 from 4kids, much of the fun was kept but inspiration was also taken from the Turtles' comic book origins. Thanks to this, they were re-imagined in a somewhat darker and edgier context that gave their ninja prowess plenty of chances to show off. It certainly helped that the Turtles were mostly opposed by villains that usually offered a serious fight, including a much meaner and tougher version of the Shredder. This trend continued in very underrated 2007 film TMNT, where the turtles had plenty of slick moves and were perhaps shown at their most ninja-like: lithe, agile, skilled, and more than capable at striking lethally from the shadows. Between all these animated adventures, the turtles have taken on opponents ranging from common thugs to monstrous threats and managed to come out on top. In their long animated history the TMNT's ninjutsu skills have certainly been tested, and one sure wouldn't want to bet against them in a fight.

3. Batman

How good is Batman? He is one of the most capable American superheroes, and he isn't super. He is a man that pushes his considerable talents as far as he can make them go. Interestingly enough, the nature of Batman's martial arts prowess has been subject to revision over the years. In Batman: The Animated Series it was at least clear that he had studied ninjutsu, and in most representations that are not Superfriends his combat expertise has been palpable. It's probably easiest to concur with the general consensus of comic book writers these days, which holds that Batman has studied just about every type of martial art worth knowing and is able to effectively use their techniques as needed. All this is fine and Batman does have plenty of useful tools and gadgets as well, but as any serious fan would agree Batman's greatest skills are his wits and intelligence. Yes, there is the old cliche of Batman being able to defeat anyone given enough time to prepare, but Batman also excels at thinking on his feet and predicting what actions his foes will take next before they do them. In short, Batman excels at fighting on his terms in a way that very few do. Sun Tzu said it best in The Art of War: "Victorious warriors win first and then go to war, while defeated warriors go to war first and then seek to win."

2. Kenshiro

Kenshiro from Fist of the North Star was inspired by the examples of martial arts legend Bruce Lee and Max Rockatansky from Mad Max, but this analogy doesn't adequately explain just how formidable he is. Before Dragon Ball Z, Kenshiro was pretty much overkill personified. This man does not defeat his opponents. He dominates them, and he mostly does it with raw strength and his martial arts skills instead of energy blasts that blow apart the landscape. He does this through his fictional Chinese art Hokuto Shinken, wherein the martial artist destroys or manipulates his foe by striking his acupressure points. Some of his abilities are powerful enough to destroy limbs, some are actually subtle enough to affect the nervous system and make the opponent's body act involuntarily. Incapacitation, decapacitation, and even gruesome outright destruction often befall Kenshiro's foes; no defense is safe against his flurry of fists. Woe upon the post-apocalyptic tyrants and thugs who challenge him.

1. Son Goku

This choice might risk being cliche, and it's certainly tempting to think of Goku as the "Japanese Superman" and focus on his immense strength. However, this doesn't do the hero of the Dragon Ball saga justice. Throughout his many adventures, Goku was a fighter that never backed down and always put up a serious fight whether he was overmatched, equaled, or clearly superior to his opponent. He was once a youth that fought just about all of his future allies at least once, earning their friendship or at least respect in return. This could never have been accomplished with strength alone, which Goku had from the beginning of Dragon Ball. He also learned much about the art of fighting from many different teachers, destined to surpass them all in time. In the Dragon Ball Z series, he fought an incredible variety of powerful and skilled opponents over time and proved his worth against each one time and again. Take for instance his battle against the Cell, who Goku was able to hold his own against despite the villain knowing just about every technique that he and his friends did. Goku didn't win every battle he fought, but he could be counted on to come back for more and show remarkable perseverance. For most of his life Goku was the #1 defender of his adopted home, to the point that the world of Dragon Ball would be impossible to imagine without him and what he achieved with his talents.

(Thanks Toon Zone)

Little Flying Bears producer Andre Lamy dies at 77

Former National Film Board of Canada commissioner André Lamy, executive producer of the Cine-Groupe children's cartoon series The Little Flying Bears and Sharkey & George, died this weekend in Quebec after a long illness. He was 77.

An independent film producer, he had served as Canadian government film commissioner and NFB chairperson from 1975 to 1979 following a term as assistant commissioner under Sydney Newman from 1970 to 1975.

Co-produced with Yugoslavia's Zagreb Films, The Little Flying Bears (1991) ran for 39 half-hour episodes. The series was set in a utopian community of sharing. Ironically, Zagreb Film collapsed after finishing the co-production of this series.

Sharkey & George (1992), a Canadian-French co-production, consisted of 52 half-hour episodes. It was also known as Sharky & George.

Only the second French-speaking NFB commissioner, Lamy strengthened the NFB's ties to the Quebec film sector. He also ensured the release of the then-controversial NFB French program films On est au coton, 24 heures ou plus and Cap d'espoir. He was commissioner during the 1976 Montreal Summer Olympics, and was involved in the creation of the official Olympics film, Games of the XXI Olympiad.

“I was fortunate enough to be able to get to know André Lamy better during the filming of The Commissioners, a short documentary by Philippe Baylaucq created to mark the NFB's 70th anniversary. It was clear that André Lamy was not well during the filming, but he was determined to take part, and his commitment to the NFB, to filmmaking and, in particular, Quebec cinema, was undiminished. Everyone at the NFB is deeply saddened by his passing,” said Tom Perlmutter, the current government film commissioner and chairperson of the NFB.

After his term as NFB commissioner, Lamy served as head of the Canadian Film Development Corporation (now Telefilm Canada) from 1980 to 1985 before moving to the private sector as an award-winning producer with Galafilm.

While he led the federal agency, Telefilm developed a program for the television production sector under his leadership, current Telefilm executive director Carole Brabant said in a statement.

"André Lamy played a major role in the development of our film industry, making possible the production of many works that marked the last few decades and that enabled the industry to become what it is today," Brabant said.

Prior to joining the NFB, Lamy was a producer at Onyx Films from 1964 to 1970, during which time he was involved in several major feature productions. During this period, he also produced TV commercials and industrial films for a wide variety of companies. From 1962 to 1964, he was the director of sales and a producer with Niagara Films of Montreal.

Born in Montreal on July 19, 1932, Lamy was educated at the Université de Montréal and McGill University.

James Moore, Canada's federal heritage minister, offered condolences on Lamy's death.

"His dedication to the NFB and his passion for film serve as reminders of his important contribution to our country's cultural landscape," Moore said in a statement.

Board Tests (again) -- How Long is Too Long?

Here's a spanking new dialogue between a veteran production board revisionist and a director on a high-profile, half-hour show at one of our fine conglomerates. (We've made both anonymous in the spirit of our comments section.)

Along with information about the practices on his show, the director offers some solid career advice ...

Artist: One studio recently issued a test with 2 1/2 pages of pretty active script; which a pal told me took him over a week to do and came to over 30 (3-panel) pages.

I think people should refuse tests of this length.. If everyone refused to take them, things would change pretty quickly IMHO. I also completely respect those who refuse to take ANY type of test... If only we could all be in the position to exercise that option ...

Director: I think tests are very important tool for hiring.

I first look at a portfolio to narrow the candidates down to a select few. But the tests are helpful in not just determining if the artist is proficient in storyboarding, but whether the artist can adapt to the specific needs of the show.

Does the artist get the humor of the show? The shooting style? Are the expressions pushed enough? Is there appropriate use of dynamic and flat staging? All these things come through in a test very quickly and obviously. A sample in a portfolio, chosen by the artist, doesn't always provide these specifics.

That said ...
don't do more than 1 page of script. Anything more than that is unnecessary for you to do, and, honestly, for the employer, it's too much to go over. I would wager that most employers will not look over more than 10 to 20 pages of boards (which roughly translates to 1 page of script.)

Artist: You bring up some very valid points. The (blessedly short) revisions test I took for [X] was a perfect example of how applicants might indeed need to demonstrate their understanding of a show's style, since that was a particularly tough show to "get."

I think the main issue here is the length of these tests; I am delighted to know your opinion on this. Why on earth would a studio even ISSUE a 2 1/2 script-pager? Is it some kind of endurance thing? Some outstanding artists I know haven't worked in over a year and are stressed out enough.

It would be great if directors such as yourself could in some way approve these tests before they are handed out ...
Director: Speaking only for our show ... we do approve the tests before they go out. In fact, we had to recently change our test, because the episode it was based off of aired, and we didn't want someone's test being affected by seeing the episode, intentionally or not.

I can attest to the number of people out of work by the inundation of responses each job offering gets. However, it is a fairly narrow margin of artists that have the necessary combination of talent and skills that would make them suitable for the job.

Sometimes, an artist shows great promise with inspired acting and can mine the humor from any situation, but has difficulty with good composition and nuts and bolts filmmaking (screen direction, shot flow, camera angle.) Other times, an artist doesn't break any filmmaking "rules," but the acting is not pushed far enough or it relies on cliched poses, not to mention missing opportunities for humor.

Experience will help the first type of artist, but as for the second--you can't teach "funny." It's a tough choice. The artist with the complete package is quite rare, even among "outstanding" artists.

For those artists that find themselves falling short of what productions want, my advice would be to not give up, and to continue to sharpen your skill set. Pick a scene from a script or a favorite book, and board it out. Get feedback from peers and mentors. Don't be defensive or argue why you made your choices! Listen; stew on it for a while. Consider why that person made those suggestions. Internalize those lessons so the experience you gain with each of these lessons ultimately builds into a job offer that can't help but find its way to you.

Just remember: experience takes time. But in order to gain experience, you must constantly keep moving forward. If no one will give you experience -- MAKE it yourself. I know it doesn't pay the bills right away, but it is essential for improving as an artist and a professional ...

TAG has often registered complaints to studios about test lengths across the bargaining table (and elsewhere). The response (mostly) is "Yeah, sure, you're absolutely right. We'll cut the tests down."

And the long tests stop. For awhile. But then they start again because show runners do what they please and nobody higher up is paying close attention. But I've never gotten the point of long tests, unless it's to create an obstacle course through which an artist demonstrates his powers of endurance.

Beyond that, the damn things are counterproductive. Long tests are an agonizing chore for artists to do, and a chore for the employer to plow through. (Kind of a "lose-lose" situation all around, wouldn't you say?)

(Thanks Animation Guild Blog)

CAPS presents a night with Floyd Norman

From Katy Keene to Disney Legend

CAPS (The Comic Art Professional Society) will host a special evening with Floyd Norman, distinguished cartoonist and animation artist, member of CAPS and the Animation Guild (as well as a regular on the TAG Blog). Floyd will present an extensive overview of his career in comics, animation, publishing and life as a Disney Legend.

Thursday, May 13, 2010, 8 PM
The Animation Guild
1105 N. Hollywood Way
Burbank, CA 91502


Seating is limited. RSVP to Bob Foster by May 12.

There will be refreshments.

Further details at this link:

(Thanks Animation Guild Blog)

'Iron Man 2' Deleted Scenes: Black Widow Flirting, 'You Complete Me' Dive, More!

"Iron Man 2" clocks in at just over two hours, but don't let the run time fool you – director Jon Favreau wasn't able to include every single scene he shot in the final version of the superhero sequel.

Speaking with MTV News, Favreau said that a multitude of "Iron Man 2" scenes were left on the editing room floor, but not due to any sort of studio pressure.

"The nice thing about working at Marvel is that they're very supportive of the director. I've been given a lot of creative freedom there," said Favreau. "When we make changes, it's ones that we're all comfortable with. I like to be very collaborative with [the studio]. It's not like there's a version that they strong-armed me into not using, so I stand behind what's out there."

Favreau recalled one specific scene that didn't make the final cut of "Iron Man 2" involving Tony Stark and Pepper Potts as Tony prepares to arrive on stage at Stark Expo 2010.

"There's a scene that leads up to [Pepper throwing Iron Man's helmet off of a plane] that's wonderful, but what it does is it ruins a surprise and ruins the momentum of the movie at the beginning," said the director. "There's a little bit of a misdirect that we wanted to sell and the reveal of him landing on the stage for the first time is better [without the scene]."

Additionally, Favreau removed a flirtatious scene between Stark and Scarlett Johansson's Black Widow, saying: "The relationship between Tony and Pepper is so special to the audience that if you let him and Scarlet get too flirty and close, the audience turns off very quickly."

Despite these scenes not making the final cut, Favreau plans to include the deleted segments when "Iron Man 2" arrives on DVD.

"There are other scenes that I like that don't fit into the movie but I think are great," he explained. "As they stand alone, I prefer a lot of the things that we had to remove. I would have preferred to have them in the film than to have them removed."

Jon Favreau On 'Iron Man 2' And IMAX: 'It's Not Enough To Just Show A Movie Any More'

When "Iron Man 2" hits theaters this week, audiences will not only be able to catch Tony Stark's return to the screen in standard theaters, but also in eye-popping IMAX sure to make every repulsor blast hit a little harder.

In an exclusive clip provided to Splash Page by the good folks at IMAX, "Iron Man 2" director Jon Favreau explains why it's not enough to just make your movie and show it in a theater these days — and why IMAX was the right answer to take Iron Man, War Machine, and Whiplash to the next level.

"It's not enough just to show a movie in a movie theater any more," said Favreau. "You have to make the image quality great, the sound quality great, and the environment that you're sitting in great."

"What's nice about IMAX is that when you go into an IMAX viewing of a film, you know that the theater is going to be new, you know it's going to stadium seating, you know that the screen is going to be up to a certain standard," he explained.

For Favreau, the experience of seeing "Iron Man 2" in IMAX will be just as much a first for him as for anyone else.

"I'm looking forward to seeing it. I've never seen a film I've worked on in IMAX, so it's a bit of a treat for me as well," he said. "It's a great format that's going to have a big future ahead of it."

NSFW R-rated trailer for Machete says F U, Arizona

Whatever your feelings about Arizona's recently passed immigration law, one filmmaker has a clear position: Predators producer Robert Rodriguez, who has posted a special R-rated Cinco de Mayo trailer for his upcoming Machete, below. (It originally appeared on Ain't It Cool News.)

The movie, based on that bogus Grindhouse trailer from a few years back, stars fan fave Danny Trejo (who also stars in Predators) as a former Mexican federal agent who seeks revenge after being betrayed. The action-packed genre-bending movie also stars Robert De Niro (!), Michelle Rodriguez, Lindsay Lohan (!), Cheech Marin, Jeff Fahey, Don Johnson (!) and Steven Seagal (!).

You can bet this will be the only time you'll see that group of actors in the same movie.

The clip has harsh language and is not suitable for the youngsters, so be forewarned.

Machete opens Sept. 3.

(Thanks to for the heads-up.)

Meet Anthony Le: Designer of Iron Man And War Machine Replicas

In this EXCLUSIVE interview, I sat down with the ultimate cosplay artist, when it comes to Iron Man!

Who is Anthony Le? If you don’t know already, the Colorado resident has created some of the most realistic looking Iron Man and War Machine costume armors ever. Anthony Le is also a man who likes to push himself. Along with cosplay, he is a P90X instructor, a prop maker and a budding filmmaker just to name a few. One of his biggest passions, though, is his charity work. More on that later. I got the opportunity to sit down with Anthony for a one on one interview. Actually it was a two for one, as he brought along his friend and colleague, Nathan Trujillo ( Nathan is his right hand man, pushing Anthony while also helping to design and build the armors and take photos. Anthony created his first armor by himself just a week before the first Iron Man movie came out. He was the first designer to have integrated lights for his eyes. They light up and he can still see out of them from just under the light source. Since then the two have gone on to create two versions of War Machine, the suitcase armor (Mark V) and the Mark VI. The Mark V premiered at Denver’s Starfest last month. Anthony, of course, won first prize at the costume contest displaying his War Machine armor.

Le’s first War Machine (which he calls the War Machine Hybrid) “took costuming to a new level” in his words. He made it before anything from the movie version was leaked out. It is a mixture of designs from Mark I, Mark III and the concept art of War Machine by Phil Saunders. This was the first armor that caught director Jon Favreau’s attention when he tweeted about it. One of the most unique things about Le’s armors started with the faceplate. It comes down and into position when he poses in a ready position using a pressurized system. It goes up by using a manual motorized mechanism. Very few cosplay artists have been able to perfect this.

DogsOfWar-After seeing Iron Man and War Machine in comics and the movies how did you figure out the designs and all the moving parts?

Anthony Le
- “I love to look at things and reverse engineer it and figure out how to do it. Since I was six years old, I like to figure things out myself. I don’t like to ask.”

DOW -What’s the hardest part of creating armor?

“Doing all the electronics and wiring-it’s tiring!”

DOW -What are you working on now?

“I am building the Pepper Potts armor from Invincible Iron Man comic. Just finished painting it, the jet pack lights up. I’m building it for a friend in California”

DOW -Since that’s close to being done, what’s after that and what drives you to keep going further with these designs?

“I am making a HulkBuster armor with Nathan. Then Mark II, maybe Mark I and a hall of armor [like in the movie]. I’ve received a lot of requests for builds.”

“I decided to advance the way I use and make materials. I went from foam board, bondo and fiberglass from past experiences. I use other stuff too, like vacuum forming. It’s all cool and all but it doesn’t last as long. I started researching into better materials. I found high impact urethane. Most of the biggest challenges is finding what you need. Home Depot is always a good source. I go up and down every aisle.”

The armor heads are built using a silicone resin in a negative sculpt mold which helps to hold detail and fine lines. The original molds typically weigh around 13 pounds. I was lucky enough to try on his Iron Man mask and found it fairly comfortable and lightweight. The body armor is a high impact urethane plastic, much like with today’s cars. The metallic finish comes with painting. It is very flexible. Tony modified his WM once for a zombie theme party and was able to fully dance in it. He has vents built throughout and only gets sweaty when he is standing still.

DOW-What were the challenge in creating the suitcase armor?

“The only thing I had to go on was the first trailer and a four inch toy. I didn’t have any back shot of the armor or anything of the lower body. When the second trailer came out, I had guessed pretty close to it.”

Anthony donates a great deal of time to charity. Last October, he visited the Denver Children’s Hospital. Watching the kids see and recognize Iron Man was very fulfilling. He will be doing a charity event and appearance at Hollywood Theater in Centennial this Friday and Saturday from 6-10 PM promoting Iron Man 2. Grand prize for the raffle drawings will be one of his War Machine or Iron Man helmets, winner’s choice. His sponsors have also helped kick in toys and posters. He even got Jon Favreau’s backing for doing such work.

Anthony has been able to take his costuming skill and turn it into something special. He gets the biggest kick out of doing it for charity but he also does promo work for Paramount and just recently did an ad for Guess Jeans and Iron Man 2. He will always continue to build. "I love costuming; I can make a lot of other things if I had unlimited funds like the movie does.” Some of the other things on his “wish list” are Star Wars Mandalorian armor and Gundam Wing armor.

Anthony Le follows a simple code everyday: “Live life with a passion and no regrets”

To see more of Anthony’s work check out his sites:

This got me thinking (a rare occasion for me). What type of armor or for that matter, any superhero costume would you make for yourself? Me, I’d have to go Colossus for armor and Beast would be an interesting challenge as well.

Many thanks to Anthony Le for sitting down with me.

(Thanks Comic Book Movie)

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