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Illumination Entertainment and Universal Pictures have moved the release date of the Minions spin-off movie from December 19, 2014 to July 10, 2015. The decision was made to ensure a better film. Just kidding. Variety reports that they’re moving the date to “enable Universal to fully exploit the film as a summer tentpole that lends itself to a vast consumer products program, games and theme park promotions.” In other words, they need more time to make fart guns.
The Cartoon Brew Student Animation Festival is made possible by sponsor JibJab and their strong support for emerging filmmakers.
We’ve presented seven truly exceptional student films in Cartoon Brew’s annual Student Animation Festival so far, and today we present our eighth film premiere, i by Isabela Dos Santos, a student in the CalArts Experimental Animation program. It’s a bittersweet moment because Dos Santos’ film marks the final premiere of our 2013 Student Festival, but we can take pride in ending the festival with such a truly unique animated experience.
I uses hand-drawn animation and live-action dance to pose the eternal question, ‘Who am I?’ The film accomplishes the most difficult of the difficult by visualizing inner conflict. Encasing the live dancer is a delicate amorphous figure constructed of wispy lines. These representations of a fragmented psyche—one animated, the other human—converse with each other throughout the film as they try to reconcile themselves into a unified whole.
The choreography of these two figures forms the foundation of the film, and the details of their interaction represent the type of magic that can exist only on film. Dos Santos’ multidisciplinary approach to the film required a collaboration with dancer Yanina Orellana for the choreography and performance, and singer Kate Davis, each of whom contribute something special to the final piece.
Continue reading for comments from the filmmaker Isabela Dos Santos—
In 2011, I was chosen for a scholarship program called YoungArts; I got in as an animator, but part of what they do is bring together 15-18 year-olds of all artistic disciplines for a week at a time to generate interdisciplinary performances. I also grew up dancing, but being with the other YoungArts kids really showed me there was so much more to art and humans than my back-stiffening work animating in windowless rooms. It made me all warm and fuzzy inside to be part of those performances. I began attending CalArts that fall and was frustrated trying to “just be an animator” after all those experiences. I don’t know, I just wanted more than was in front of me, and I had this image in my head of dancing with an imaginary monster. In terms of the story, I’ve always been an identity crisis kind of girl, and it goes with the whole, “identified as an animator but I wish I could be a real moving, dancing human” dilemma. I mean, there’s more to it than that, but you can watch and interpret the rest.
I worked with a dance student from CalArts, Yanina Orellana, for the choreography and original performance, and I had the song picked out beforehand (by Kate Davis, a friend from YoungArts). We worked on the dance before any animation, and I filmed it using a Canon T1i at CalArts’ dance theater. Then things got janky and I taped a peg bar to the edge of my laptop and traced key frames of her performance to paper. I used those as reference for timing and the general positioning, but everything was generated with pencil on paper. Paper cuts and graphite-smudged hands can be so rewarding. I ultimately composited the animation to the video using Adobe After Effects.
It was difficult knowing what to fix. Everyone had a different fantasy of what technique or technology I should incorporate, so it was tough to get feedback that was mindful to my sensibilities—I wanted to improve my skills and the emotions in my piece but I would get overwhelmed by the far-out possibilities people kept bringing up. And trying to describe the love/hate conflict about identity was always a hot mess. Just a lot of confusing conversations that semester. But animating to dance was a great tool—the choreography did all the dirty work for me as far as timing. I like that animation pulls something organic and instinctive out of you when you’re not looking, and this scenario encouraged that. And I learned that I can, after all, combine dance and animation this way. That was important to me, even if i didn’t come out perfect.
I watched just about every dance documentary available on Netflix while I animated. Couldn’t get enough of bloody ballerina toes (just kidding). Norman McLaren, of course, was very encouraging to watch in terms of the line quality of his simplistic yet expressive scratch-on-film, or the treatment of dance in Pas de deux. It felt good to stay in the realm of earlier animation pioneers. It reminded me to do what I needed to tell an honest story, not wow people with technology. I also wrote a lot of essays around that time connecting dance with animation, and it inspired me to see beyond both mediums, to really hold on to the humanity of movement, of expression through movement. I loved getting nerdy about all that—seeing animation as a dance—and reminding myself why it meant so much to me to merge the two mediums together. And I kept taking dance classes.
WHERE YOU SEE YOURSELF IN FIVE YEARS
In five years I’ll probably still be skirting around the animation world, but not in the industry. Like I said, there’s so much more to art and life for me—animation is only part of what makes me happy. I is also fit for live performance, with a scrim projection of the animation like a hologram on stage, and I’ve been able to perform it this way a couple of times now, most recently in NYC for a music festival. It’s a lot of fun. So I have plenty of stage/animation work ahead of me, also working in arts advocacy/administration, writing, and making plenty of non-dance-related animation as well. But it’s all independent or collaborative fun, making art “as a participation in the world of ideas,” one might say. I’d like to continue appreciating it that way. It feels good that way.
Editor’s Note: Last Friday, we posted about how Microsoft has recruited Superjail! co-creator Christy Karacas to promote their Surface tablets. The video that Christy starred in was nicely produced, but noticeably short on details about how he uses it and what he thinks of it. Thankfully, Christy left a terrifically informative comment on that post in which he shared his thoughts about the Surface tablet. With his permission, we are republishing his review below. It’s particularly timely, too, since tomorrow in New York City, Microsoft will unveil the new Surface 2 and Surface Pro 2 tablets.
Microsoft Surface Pro Tablet Review by Christy Karacas
For people who want to know, I think it’s a great tablet and I have been using it very often during Superjail! season four production. I use it for sketching/thumbing/boarding on the go. The most important thing I’m looking for in a tablet is a natural drawing experience/interface. I use a Wacom Cintiq to make Superjail!, which is great in my opinion, but obviously that’s a big and powerful non-mobile workstation I can’t take with me.
If you download the Wacom driver for the Surface tablet, the pen pressure/sensitivity is great and I’ve had no latency issues—meaning you can draw very quick and fast which I like to do—and the line doesn’t lag behind the actual pen in your hand. This was a problem I had with previous tablets/laptops.
Prior to this, I owned a Toshiba Portege tablet PC, and used it often to thumb/board during season one. The pressure sensitivity on it kind of sucked and so did the speed, but I would still use it as an option when not in the office or out of town. After season one, I stopped using it. (It was also very heavy and huge by today’s standards…haha). I would only work at the office or home and if I thumbed outside of work, I would do it on paper and then re-draw it in Flash which was kind of a pain in the ass. But when boarding, I like to get away from the office sometimes. I love storyboarding in cafes or bars so I can let my mind wander, people watch, get ideas, etc. I work so often I find a change of workspace inspiring and necessary.
As far as ‘negatives,’ I honestly don’t have any. My biggest hurdle was getting used to Windows 8 as I have a Mac at work and still run Windows Vista at home. I wasn’t used to the ’tiles’ system that is the interface of Surface, but it was just a matter of getting used to it. There is an automatic brightness sensor so when I was drawing sometimes my hand would cover the tablet and the screen brightness would change, but I just disabled that setting so it’s not an issue.
I haven’t and don’t think I would use the Surface for full animation because of its screen size (being a tablet) but I wouldn’t really want to animate in a public space anyways. I would want to work in the quiet of my room or studio. But I do really like storyboarding/thumbnailing in active cafes/bars/even the subway-I don’t know why but I get really good ideas in the subway—and for that, the Surface is great. I boarded a huge chunk of the premiere of Superjail! season 4 on the airplane to San Diego Comic-Con. I was able to email the .FLA file to my storyboard team right on the plane directly from the tablet—super convenient and allows me to get work done, send it to the storyboard artists and keep production flowing while I’m away. The battery life also impressed me—better than my iPhone which I seem to have to charge twice a day.
I think iPads look really nice, but they don’t have the pen driver support, only those blunt ‘stylus’ type pen interfaces that I can’t stand. Also, the iPad can only run apps, not true software like Flash which I need to make Superjail! I know there are more and more tablets on the market these days so there are probably going to be lots of new options.
The Microsoft guys approached me and let me play with it, I loved it and agreed to do the video. Also I have to say that I am really sick of Mac constantly updating their OS. It’s really annoying, and for some reason I find Flash runs better on PC. My PC at home has NEVER crashed making this show—not once! But the Macs at work sometimes do crash when we have a really heavy file. Flash really wan’t designed to do this kind of animation, but that’s a whole other discussion.
So yeah, for directors and storyboard artists, or anyone who wants to sketch digitally away from their workstation with a really sensitive natural pen interface, the Surface has worked out really great for me and I love using it.
Tonight in Canada, the Ottawa International Animation Festival held the awards ceremony for its 2013 edition. The top prize for short film was presented to Dutch filmmaker Rosto for Lonely Bones (pictured above). The best animated feature was awarded to Tito on Ice by Swedish filmmakers Max Andersson and Helena Ahonen, while the television prizes were divided between Archer for adult animation and The Regular Show for children’s programming.
The complete list of winners is below:
The Nelvana GRAND PRIZE for Best Short Animation:
Lonely Bones by Rosto (France, the Netherlands)
The 2013 GRAND PRIZE for Best Animated Feature:
Tito on Ice by Max Andersson & Helena Ahonen (Sweden)
The Boy and the World (O Menino e o Mundo) by Alê Abreu (Brazil)
But Milk is Important by Eirik Grønmo Bjørndrn & Anna Mantazaris (Norway)
The 2013 Canadian Film Institute (CFI) Award for Best Canadian Animation:
Two Weeks – Two Minutes by Judith Poirier (Canada)
Honorable Mentions to:
The Clockmakers (Les Horlogers) by Renaud Hallee (Canada)
Crossing Victoria by Steve Woloshen (Canada)
Best Narrative Short Animation:
Oh Willy… by Emma De Swaef & Mark James Roels (Belgium, France, Netherlands, Luxembourg)
Best Experimental/ Abstract Animation:
Virtuoso Virtual by Thomas Stellmach & Maja Oschmann (Germany)
Walt Disney Award for Best Graduation Animation:
But Milk is Important by Eirik Grønmo Bjørndrn & Anna Mantazaris (Norway)
Honorable Mention to:
Youkosobokudesu Selection ‘Na Ni Nu Ne No No’ by Manabu Himeda (Japan)
Best Undergraduate Animation:
Rollin’ Safari by Kyra Buschor, Constantin Paeplow & Anna Habermehl (Germany)
Best High School Animation:
Abduction Milk Cow by Shin Hye Kim, Woo Sol Lee & Hyun Ji Yoon (South Korea)
Best Animation School Showreel:
TAMA ART University
Best Canadian Student Animation:
Wind & Tree by Konstantin Steshenko (Canada) from Emily Carr University
Honorable Mention to:
Blackout by Sharron Mirsky (Canada) from Concordia University
Best Promotional Animation:
50e Anniversaire de la Cinémathèque Québécoise by Diane Obomsawin (Canada)
Best Music Video:
Stuck in the Sound ‘Let’s Go’ by Alexis Beaumont & Rémi Godin (France)
Best TV Animation for Adults:
Archer ‘Coyote Lovely’ by Bryan Fordney (USA)
Best Short Animation for Children:
Written By A Kid ‘La Munkya’ by Roque Ballesteros
Honorable Mentions to:
Tome Of the Unknown by Patrick McHale (USA)
The Little Blonde Boy With a White Sheep (Le petit blond avec le mouton blanc) by Eloi Henriod
Best TV Animation for Children:
Regular Show ‘A Bunch of Full Grown Geese by JG Quintel (USA)
Honorable Mentions to:
Adventure Time ‘A Glitch Is A Glitch’ by David OReilly (USA)
SpongeBob SquarePants ‘It’s A SpongeBob Christmas!’ by Mark Caballero & Seamus Walsh (USA)
Animators as spokespeople doesn’t happen often, but Microsoft is trying it out in anticipation of their launch of Surface Pro 2 tablets next week. To reach visual artists, they produced this online video with Superjail! co-creator Christy Karacas as its star.
Here’s something for the individual who’s torn between watching college football and animation. Tomorrow’s USC versus Utah game will feature a half-time “Tribute to Alan Silvestri” performed by the USC Marching Trojans. Among the selections that will be performed is “Smash & Grab” from DreamWorks’ The Croods. Footage from the film will play on the Los Angeles Coliseum Jumbotron alongside with the live performance.
“Smash & Grab” is one of the film’s most distinctive tracks, appearing in an early scene involving a hunt for food. Directors Chris Sanders and Kirk De Micco (a USC alum, by the way) and composer Silvestri (Forrest Gump, The Avengers, Who Framed Roger Rabbit, Back to the Future) recruited the USC Marching Trojans to perform the track for the film’s score. By comparing the scene in the film to that of a football game, they wanted to underscore that “in the prehistoric world of the Crood family, even getting breakfast is a full contact sport.” As far as I know, this is the first live performance of the piece by the Marching Trojans.
Kickoff time for the USC/Utah game is 3:30pm ET, and it will be broadcast on ABC/ESPN2.
Left to right: Chris Sanders, Art Bartner (Director, Trojan Marching Band), composer Alan Silvestri and Kirk De Micco.
Veteran primetime television director David Straiton, (House, Grimm, and the upcoming Marvel series Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D) is demanding that a former writing partner, Scott Fellows, compensate him for the joint creation of the animated series Johnny Test, reports Deadline. The animated series, which Fellows is credited as sole creator and executive producer, is about a suburban kid who is frequently used as a scientific test subject by his genius-level twin sisters. Fellows is also the creator of the early Cartoon Network series The Moxy Show and the Nickelodeon live-action series Big Time Rush, and has worked as a staff writer on The Fairly OddParents.
Straiton alleges that he and Fellows created the concept together in 1995 and after an unsuccessful pitch to Nickelodeon, they went their separate ways though they never terminated their joint venture on this project. Then in 2005, without informing or including Straiton, Fellows sold the series to the Kids’ WB, which the show outlived and went on to air on Cartoon Network in the US and on Teletoon in Canada, where the show currently resides in its sixth season.
According to the complaint filed Tuesday in Los Angeles Superior Court (download PDF HERE), Straiton has a good reason for waiting eight years to make his claim. He says in court documents that he has no familiarity with the children’s television market because he is an “adult and primetime drama television director.” Further, even though he has a daughter, she hadn’t seen the show because “his child was not permitted to watch television or movies until this year, pursuant to the rules of her preschool and elementary schools, which adhere to the Waldorf education philosophy.
Last November, Straiton, who only recently began letting his young daughter watch TV, noticed the show in his digital cable directory. He contacted Fellows requesting an accounting of revenues derived from Johnny Test. When Fellows refused to comply, Straiton filed the complaint with the Los Angeles Superior Court accusing Fellows of constructive fraud, breach of fiduciary duty and accounting.
Straiton is seeking a fifty percent share of all earnings and compensation received by Fellow in connection with Johnny Test, as well as a co-creator credit, punitive damages and court costs.
Despicable Me 2 is on track to become the most profitable film in Universal Pictures’ 100-plus year history, and that has turned Illumination Entertainment head Chris Meledandri into the current darling of Hollywood. This Bloomberg Businessweek piece is one of the few things I’ve read about Meledandri’s low-budget approach to feature animation. He pioneered this lower-risk model while he was at Fox, where he was responsible for the Ice Age series, one of the most successful animated feature franchises in history.
“We’re not spending our money on every blade of grass and the leaves on the trees,” says Janet Healy, who is Meledandri’s co-producer. Not only is the production process more restrained, but so is the development process. Illumination picks and chooses exactly what it wants to produce instead of spending money developing numerous pictures that may never move into production. Illumination’s US office has only 35 employees, and though most of the creative work is done elsewhere (particularly Mac Guff in Paris), that’s still a modest corporate structure for a feature animation studio.
Meledandri, like DreamWorks CEO Jeffrey Katzenberg and increasingly John Lasseter at Pixar and Disney, prides himself on the producer-driven approach to filmmaking. He mentions in the article that there is never any dissent because he oversees creative approvals on a daily basis: “There is never a situation where a production proceeds down a path only to discover those with ultimate creative authority aren’t in agreement.” The strategy has worked exceedingly well for him so far, though the strategy isn’t always clear, even to those who work with him. “I think he’s got a vision,” says his co-producer Healy. “I just don’t know what it is.”
The keyword in computer animation nowadays is “fun.” More and more artists appear to be exploring the possibilities of cartoon-inspired design and movement in CGI. A recent effort in this direction is Rob ‘n Ron directed by Magnus Igland Møller and Peter Smith of the up-and-coming Danish animation studio Tumblehead.
The unlikely combination of real sets—yes, they’re handmade—combined with the Cartoon Modern-esque character designs is immediately compelling. Achieving humorous computer animation with these type of design choices isn’t an easy assignment, but the creators of Rob ‘n Ron handled the challenge with ease.
Their creative solutions to movement can be seen in this rigging demo, which is almost as much fun to watch as the short itself:
Directors: Magnus Igland Møller, Peter Smith
Script and Storyboard: Mads Juul
Backgrounds: Eva Lee Wallberg, Christian Bøving Anderson, Andreas Husballe
Animation: Eva Lee Wallberg, Christian Bøving Anderson, Lars Ellingbø, Peter Smith
Compositing: Lars Ellingbø
Pipeline: Soren Berg Nørbaek
Music and Sound: Thomas Richard Christensen, Peter Smith,
Jody Ann Ghani, Sia Søndergaard
(Thanks, Erik Barkman, via Cartoon Brew’s Facebook group)
This joyously energetic medley of Tom and Jerry music composed by the legendary Scott Bradley was performed recently by the John Wilson Orchestra as part of the 2013 BBC Proms at London’s Royal Albert Hall.
Peter Morris, who arranged the performance with Wilson, has written extensively about the work:
We wanted to create a score that wasn’t too fragmented and that didn’t rely on visuals so the music you hear is a compilation of some of the best bits of Scott Bradley’s music. There is no single video for the music—it comes from eight different cartoons: Smitten Kitten, Sufferin’ Cats, The Framed Cat, Cat Fishin’ Just Ducky, Jerry and Jumbo, The Cat Comes to Dinner and Mouse for Sale.
John is a dab hand at reconstructing scores from audio. Check his Wiki page for info. In this case, however, we used score fragments, archives and a lot of patience. I used FCP to extract candidate snippets of video and linked them to create a 3 candidate narratives which John and I then worked on. Copyright is a nightmare (MGM, Warner, Sony, Turner, EMI have all owned bits in the past) – only JW has the clout to cut though that quagmire. Scores are as rare as hens’ teeth.
Bradley’s original scores were played by typically 20 to 25 musos. In fact, if you look at the beginning of the performance there are only 3 violins, 1 viola, 1 cello and 1 bass, to start with the original MGM sound. However, more instruments are added as the piece progresses to the full 100-piece orchestra at the end. Scott Bradley also preferred orchestral sound effects to ones added by the sound department, hence the big “shock chords” that you find at various places.
Publisher Take-Two Interactive reported that first-day sales of Grand Theft Auto V topped $800 million, a record for the video game industry. Actually, it’s probably a record for any cultural industry in history. To my knowledge, no piece of music, film or other art has ever made $800M in a single day. But if we wish to confine the discussion to videogames, the previous record holder was Call of Duty: Black Ops II, which generated first-day sales of $500M last November.
This fifth installment of GTA launched on September 17 for the Playstation 3 and Xbox 360. The sales figure is worldwide, although it excludes the upcoming launches in Japan and Brazil. The $800M figure equals sales of between 13-14 million units of the game, which is quite an acccomplishment considering that the last installment in the Grand Theft Auto series sold about 13 million unit over an entire year.
GTA:V took five years to develop and cost between $200-250 million, which is as expensive as any big-budget animated feature. Its earnings will easily top the highest-grossing animated feature of all-time, which would be the $1.06 billion gross of Toy Story 3.
It’s been fascinating to watch the ascension of games as a cultural force in early-21st century entertainment. It is an art form that requires new programming technologies to produce and new devices to consume, yet also relies heavily on traditional constructions like narrative storytelling and character animation. The latter is why we care, and why we will care for a long time to come. Even as immersive entertainment experiences displace older forms of media, the role of the animator only continues to grow in prominence.
Game publishers like Take-Two Interactive (and its subsidiary Rockstar Games which made GTA) obviously understand the value of graphics, otherwise they wouldn’t continually push to improve the complexity of their visuals and the nuance of their character animation. But there is still room for graphic improvement, and especially, greater believability in the character performances.
When will developers begin recruiting topflight feature film animators en masse and elevate interactive media to even more fantastic heights? The time when game producers start valuing the contributions of animators at least as much as feature film companies currently do can’t be far off, and competition for talent between game developers and film studios can only be a good thing for the animation community.
The following review of GTA:V not only provides a good sense of the gameplay, but also shows the incredible amount of animation that is contained within the game world:
By: Jerry Beck,
Blog: Cartoon Brew
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, DUCK Studios
, Sean Eckols
, Sergio Pablos
, Sergio Pablos Animation
, Smurfy Hollow
, Sony Pictures Animation
, SPA Studios
, Stephan Franck
, The Legend of Smurfy Hollow
, Add a tag
In The Smurfs: The Legend of Smurfy Hollow, the new 22-minute mini-movie by Sony Pictures Animation, competition gets the best of Brainy Smurf and Gutsy Smurf and lands them in trouble with not only Gargamel but also the mysterious Headless Horseman who roams the nearby Smurfy Hollow. Presented as a supplement to the recent CGI/live-action film series, Smurfy Hollow bookends its nineteen minutes of traditional animation with 3 minutes of the more familiar CG versions of the characters.
“The movies are hybrid films that focus on the human characters as much as the Smurfs,” Stephan Franck, director of Smurfy Hollow (pictured above), told Cartoon Brew. Smurfy Hollow, however, offers “a chance to refocus solely on the Smurf characters, more in the spirit of the books.”
While The Smurfs were popularized by their animated television series produced by Hanna Barbera from 1981 to 1989, the were originally created as the serialized comic strip Les Schtroumpfs in 1958 by Belgian cartoonist Peyo. Franck, who grew up in France reading the book collections in their original Belgian, says, “I have to admit The Smurfs had fallen off my radar,” but he warmed up quickly because of his childhood familiarity with the little blue creatures. “I knew these characters.”
Those expecting a stylistic retread of the original cartoon will be pleasantly surprised, as Smurfy Hollow’s animated performances and visual styling are significantly higher end than your usual Saturday Morning cartoon fare. “We really wanted to showcase the quality of the animation. We didn’t want the 2D to look like a poor man’s 3D.” While the Sony studio created the CG segments, the animation was produced by Sergio Pablos Animation in Madrid by way of Duck Studios in Los Angeles.
In the search for a production studio to handle the traditional work, there were “many contenders” and SPA was chosen for their “raw quality of work” and connection to the “European style” that was considered complementary to the subject matter.
“Shorts allow you to do something radical and 2D is radical now.” —Stephan Franck
Due to the expense of digital equipment like Cintiqs and the relative difficulty to do cleanup with a stylus, the animators at SPA employed original traditional animation production techniques, i.e. pencils and paper. For the few on the production who did animate using digital methods, Franck explains, their drawings would have to be printed out and re-pegged onto paper before being sent to cleanup. The result is consistently solid animation and subtle characterizations that generally come with well-produced short subjects.
Smurfy Hollow Pre-production gallery
Franck is an industry veteran whose credits include films like An American Tail: Fievel Goes West, Balto, Space Jam and The Iron Giant. “I cried tears of blood to learn to draw well enough [to be an animator],” Franck says.
Like many animators whose professional experience traces back to the pre-digital world of the Eighties and early-Nineties, he has his own opinions regarding the animation industry’s fundamental abandonment of traditional techniques. Franck believes that animation is unlike live-action filmmaking, which has steadily evolved its look with each passing decade. Hand-drawn animation got to the 1990s and stayed there. “The visual paradigm of 2D in the 1990s had been ubiquitous with the films and DVD sequels—regardless of story quality and animation, we had already seen this before.”
As a first time director helming an installment of a fifty-year-old franchise, Franck’s approach, from the animation to the voice work was to remain “natural” and “honest”. He worked with production designer Sean Eckols to create a look that is graphically refreshing while remaining true to the source material. This approach extended to the storytelling as well: “The Smurfs stories are not sugarcoated,” Franck says. “They have individual struggles, they have flaws, petty jealousies, egos and they crave approval. [However], at the end of the day, they are a family. I wanted to reconnect to that.”
The Smurfs: The Legend of Smurfy Hollow is available on DVD for $4.99 at Amazon.
Tim Beckhardt studied animation and printmaking at the Rhode Island School of Design. After graduating in 2009, Tim went to work as an artist at Augenblick Studios in Brooklyn.
Pellet Gunn, a short that Tim made at RISD is described as “a dog, a cyclops, and others kill some time with the help of wormholes and hobbyist self-modification.” The piece plays out unexpectedly, remaining fresh until the satisfying end:
A follow up student film from 2009, Inner Tubes, is described as “a frank look at tube-hole relationships.” This meditative piece may leave you thinking about your own tubes and holes:
Take a look at Tim’s portfolio website and Tumblr for more animated loops, drawings, comics and prints.
By: Jerry Beck,
Blog: Cartoon Brew
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, A Post-Electric Play
, Anne Washburn
, Cape Fear
, Michael Friedman
, Mr. Burns
, Playwrights Horizons
, Steve Cosson
, The Simpsons
, Add a tag
I’m sure it will come as no surprise if we tell you that the 24th season of The Simpsons will not stand the test of time. In fact, if Anne Washburn’s new play Mr. Burns, A Post-Electric Play, is any indication, not much will be remembered beyond season six.
In her new play, which was staged last year in Washington by the Woolly Mammoth Theater Company and opened at Playwrights Horizons in New York City earlier this week, storytelling is paramount in our world – post-nuclear holocaust. So much so, that reenacting scenes from the long-running animated series, mostly classic episodes like Bart of Darkness and A Streetcar Named Marge, is not simply entertainment, but a means of survival and coping with the fears of a newer, darker world.
The play opens with a group of friends around a campfire recalling lines from the classic Simpsons episode “Cape Feare,” in which Sideshow Bob gets out of prison and begins stalking the Simpson family with the intent to murder Bart. The episode is a parody of the 1991 Robert DeNiro thriller, Cape Fear, which is itself a remake of a 1962 film. Early in the play, these details are mentioned by the characters, but the Simpsons episode then takes on a life of its own and adopts mythic qualities that transform it into a theatrical tragedy rivaling the work of Hesiod or Euripides.
This first scene, which was, according to Ben Brantley’s glowing review in the New York Times, scripted from early workshops as the actors tried to recall lines from the episode in question, is buoyant and funny. It’s a treasure to any hardcore fan of The Simpsons who will be hard pressed to not want to contribute to the conversation, while at the same time, tense and eerie and barely covering up an unknown horror that exists outside of the proscenium.
In the second of the show’s three parts, the campfire group evolves to a fledgling theater troupe, perfecting their version of Simpsons episodes for audiences in nearby areas. Their reenactments, honed by bartering with other survivors for their memories of random lines from the lost episodes, now include commercials and choreographed medleys of Top 40s hits. But regardless of how much they use their craft to distract themselves from the continued fear of uncertainty, it always comes back to The Simpsons and more specifically, Cape Feare.
“That single Simpsons episode becomes a treasure-laden bridge, both to the past and into the future,” says Brantley, “And in tracing a story’s hold on the imaginations of different generations, the play is likely to make you think back — way back — to narratives that survive today from millenniums ago. Every age, it seems, has its Homers.”
In the last part, the source material has been deconstructed and blended seamlessly with popular references as far apart as Britney Spears and How the Grinch Stole Christmas with Mr. Burns, Springfield’s dark specter of nuclear power, taking center stage as a post-modern Mephistopheles. The result is self-referential theater about a popular television series that deftly manages to dodge the precious, the pretentious and the snarky, high art about low art and the fuzzy line between the two. It’s a clever, compelling embodiment of storytelling as a cornerstone of our society and asking what, in our world, will live on after society falls and we are forced to rebuild.
Mr. Burns, A Post-Electric Play will be staged through October 20 at Playwrights Horizons’ Mainstage Theater. It is written by Anne Washburn, directed by Steve Cosson, with music by Michael Friedman.
(Photos: © Playwright Horizons & The New York Times)
We’re getting close to that time of year again: awards season. Our Animation Oscar Tracker has been updated with a list of films that we understand will be submitted for the Best Animated Feature category of the Academy Awards. The current total stands at 13 films:
- Escape from Planet Earth (Weinstein Co.) 2/15/13
- The Croods (DreamWorks Animation) 3/22/13
- Epic (Blue Sky) 5/24/13
- Monsters University (Disney-Pixar) 6/21/13
- Despicable Me 2 (Illumination) 7/3/13
- Turbo (DreamWorks Animation) 7/17/13
- Planes (Disney) 8/9/13
- Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs 2 (Sony Pictures Animation) 9/27/13
- Ernest and Celestine (GKIDS) Fall 2013
- A Letter to Momo (GKIDS) Fall 2013
- Free Birds (Reel FX/Relativity Media) 11/1/13
- The Wind Rises (Studio Ghibli/Touchstone Pictures) 11/8/13
- Frozen (Disney) 11/27/13
To be clear, we can’t guarantee that these films will qualify for the category, and can only say that they are being submitted for consideration to the Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences. For there to be a maximum of five nominees, a total of 16 animated features must qualify for the category. If between 13 to 15 films qualify for the category, then there can be a maximum of four nominees.
The good news is that there will very likely be more films submitted for the category besides the ones listed above. For example, I expect that the South African studio Triggerfish will qualify their latest effort Khumba, especially since last year they qualified their first feature Adventures in Zambezia. If your studio is planning to qualify a feature film, please
0 Comments on At Least 13 Films Are Vying For Animated Feature Oscar This Year as of 9/19/2013 3:10:00 AM
If Ed Skudder and Zack Keller’s Dick Figures – The Movie is any indication, the animated feature revolution will not only be televised, it will be fan-funded and delivered directly to its audience through an innovative multi-tiered distribution strategy.
On = September 17, the entire film will be available for purchase or rental in a variety of digital platforms, including Google Play. However, the 73-minute movie adaptation of the popular webseries Dick Figures will have a day-and-date episodic release. It will be made available free of charge on YouTube, distributed in twelve weekly ad-supported installments.
“We want to give people the option to download or stream the movie from wherever they’re comfortable, from wherever they have accounts, from wherever it’s easiest for them to get access to the movie,” co-creator Keller told Mashable. “We operate in online space, so we wanted to keep it in an online space. People don’t even have to leave their couches or their desks or wherever they are.”
Since its premiere in 2010, Dick Figures, which follows the comic experiences of two juvenile young adult stick figures, Red and Blue, has racked up 43 short episodes and over 350 million views on YouTube, making it one of the most popular animated webseries to date. Creators Skudder and Keller raised over $300,000 in crowdfunding for the feature project on Kickstarter last year. (Most of the Kickstarter backers will be able to download the film at no cost.)
Tailoring the film’s release primarily with its core audience in mind, distributor Mondo Media and production company Six Point Harness partnered with digital platform manager Cinedigm, (who will also release the film to DVD in December) and Yekra, a VOD provider that enables viewers to stream and download content through blogs and social media sites.