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Jason Scheier is a visual development and concept artist at DreamWorks Animation SKG. Jason creates digital paintings as well as designs concepts in 3D.
In 2008 Jason drew the above concept presentation pieces for The Guardians of Childhood project at DreamWorks that eventually became Rise of the Guardians.
The following digital paint studies were created as personal projects and class demonstrations:
This is Jason’s modified Chevy Camaro design for the upcoming DreamWorks pic Turbo. The car was built and displayed at the Chicago Auto Show. See more of Jason’s work on his blog.
It’s been a week of animated film trailers and teasers. This afternoon, we see the release of the Free Birds trailer, which is the first feature film produced by Reel FX, a studio known for animating the well received CGI Looney Tunes shorts. Free Birds is directed by Jimmy Hayward (Horton Hears a Who!) and will be released by Relativity Media in the U.S. on November 1st.
The We The People petition website is run by the White House and bills itself as a site that gives “all Americans a way to engage their government on the issues that matter to them.” Any citizen of our great nation can create a petition and round up signatures from other constituents. The petitions that achieve over 100,000 signatures will generate a response from the Obama administration. Democracy in action…or so it would seem.
Last week, a courageous American started a petition that asked President Barack Obama to “re-enact the scene from The Incredibles where Frozone is looking for his supersuit.” The petition was supported by Incredibles director Brad Bird, who retweeted the request on his Twitter account. It made a reasonable request of the leader of the free world:
However, it turns out that Obama (or his minions who run the We the People site) do not appreciate The Incredibles as much as the rest of America’s freedom-loving, tax-paying, God-fearing citizens do. In an act worthy of the Turkish government, the petition asking Obama to re-enact a simple one-minute scene from a beloved animated film and which had received over 5,000 signatures in two days, was abruptly halted by the the U.S. government. Perhaps, then, Frozone was an appropriate character for Obama to re-enact because he clearly has no qualms about freezing the needs and desires of American citizens.
The harm that has been caused to the fundamental integrity of our democratic process is unquestionable, but we should never forget that, as Americans, we have the right to demand of our leaders to perform scenes from classic animated movies. In fact, a new petition requesting that Obama dress up as Frozone has already been launched on Change.org. We will make it happen one way or another:
Pop culture references abound in the new teaser trailer for The LEGO Movie directed by the creative team of Phil Lord and Chris Miller (Clone High TV series, Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs, 21 Jump Street). Warner Bros. will release the film in the U.S. on February 7, 2014. The highlight in this teaser is the animation, which has the chunky staccato rhythms one might expect of LEGOs animated in stop motion though it is actually achieved through computer animation.
Today’s Cartoon Brew Artist of the Day post is sponsored by the CG Master Academy. Sign up TODAY for Philip Dimitriadis’s class Environment Sketching.
Philip Dimitriadis works as a conceptual 2D and 3D artist for animation productions.
For the “Arabia project” that Philip was working on at Mike Young Productions in 2007, he was assigned to create a fictional hieroglyphic alphabet for use in the background environments which can be viewed here.
Above is a foliage study and robot design that Philip modeled in Maya.
More work in both 2D and 3D is available for viewing on his blog.
By: Jerry Beck,
Blog: Cartoon Brew
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Identifying the next Jeffrey Katzenberg or George Lucas isn’t something easily done, but a columnist at the Washington Post has figured out who it is: Nick Weidenfeld.
Weidenfeld, the former Adult Swim development executive whose recent move to Fox has the industry buzzing with anticipation, was the recipient of a glowing profile in last Sunday’s Post, in which his grand plans for the animation industry were revealed.
Post columnist Thomas Heath details Weidenfeld’s career path, starting with his humble beginnings in Washington D.C. where he was raised by an estate lawyer and Betty Ford’s former press secretary—the latter being the daughter of a presidential confidant and ambassador to Italy. Educated at Georgetown Day School and then Columbia University, the Post recounts Weidenfeld’s hardscrabble upbringing where he bounced from an internship at the Pentagon to writing about hip hop and rap, and then clawed his way to a writing gig at Esquire. It was at the last job, while researching a piece about Cartoon Network’s Adult Swim, that he ‘bonded’ with CN exec Mike Lazzo over a mutual love of William Faulkner, which was the obvious qualification for a career in animation.
“You wake up one day and you are head of development at the number one ad-supported network on cable TV,” Weidenfeld told the Washington Post. “The nice thing about my story is about the connections I made, but not family connections. I broke into this business myself through friends.”
Weidenfeld attributes his inspirational trajectory from scion to media mogul to his ability to “be open.” When pressed for an explanation, he clarifies, “It’s just being open… to be open to know what you are good at, and know what value you bring to something, you find a way to fit it into whatever job it is. I’m good at making connections or putting an organization or putting pieces together. I’m a good global thinker.”
This unequivocal business acumen was refined by reading the biography of Steve Jobs, the history of Pixar, and Clayton M. Christensen’s The Innovator’s Dilemma: When New Technologies Cause Great Firms to Fail. “These guys had these ideas and figured out that the old systems don’t work anymore,” Weidenfeld said. “The first thing I said to Fox is I don’t want to just make shows. I want to build a business for you that takes advantage of the best parts of animation.”
Using only the choicest parts of animation, Weidenfeld is ready to reinvent how cartoons are made. He is putting all phases of production for Fox’s upcoming animation block, ADHD (Animation Domination High-Def), from development to animation, under a single roof at his new 120-person Los Angeles studio, generously provided by Fox. From there he intends to usurp the young male demographic from YouTube and Saturday Night Live by producing loads of animated content and writing off the costs. He told the Post that when he presented this foolproof business plan to Fox, they said, “Okay, here you go.”
“It sounds like a parallel universe to me,” writes Heath, “but he’s the one who is becoming the next Jeffrey Katzenberg or George Lucas, not me.”
And here it is…the teaser trailer for Disney’s Frozen:
Today’s Cartoon Brew Artist of the Day post is sponsored by the CG Master Academy. Sign up TODAY for Nate Wragg’s class Character Design for Animation.
Nate Wragg works as an art director and illustrator for animation and book projects, and teaches courses about character design.
For the production of Toy Story 3, one of Nate’s assignments was to design the new toy characters in Bonnie’s room, including Mr. Pricklepants. See more toy character designs and read Nate’s thoughts about his process in this blog post.
Nate posts much more personal and professional work on his blog N8Wragg.blogspot.com, where you can also find links to the books that he has illustrated including two that are related to Pixar’s Ratatouille.
Aurora is a short film by young Dutch filmmaker Aimee de Jongh. It’s based on a Dutch fairytale about spooky white apparitions that haunt the forests of the Netherlands, but de Jongh plays with story conventions and upends audience expectations during the film’s brief two-minute length.
There’s been a lot of buzz online this past week about a newly discovered Mickey Mouse short, but it’s not anyhting made by the Disney studio. It’s the resurfacing of the rare 1968 short Mickey Mouse in Vietnam produced by painter W. Lee Savage and graphic designer Milton Glaser.
The one-minute short isn’t technically accomplished, but manages to make a powerful and subversive statement through the manipulation of the famed graphic icon. Within seconds of arriving in Vietnam, Mickey Mouse—that all-American symbol of goodness and positivity—is destroyed, and along with it, the myth of American moral superiority.
I’m partial to video games that look and feel like animated short films, which is why this E3 trailer for Hohokum is so enticing. The game is being developed by Honeyslug and artist Richard Hogg, and animated by Kwok Fung Lam, for Playstation 4, Playstation 3 and Playstation Vita systems. There’s an interview with the creators at GameInformer.com.
The game has been in development for a while. The gameplay video below is from three years ago, and shows how you maneuver your sperm-ish creature, euphemistically called the Long Mover, through a neo-Yellow Submarine universe:
(Thanks, David Calvo)
Yesterday the Annecy International Animated Film Festival came to a close. For everyone who was unable to make the annual jaunt to Haute-Savoie to bask in the excellence of the graphical beaux arts, the festival has its own way of simultaneously enticing you and making you feel bad about your creative self. By this, we mean the signal films.
There were five signal films in total, conceived, designed and as usual, beautifully realized by the students at Gobelins.
The Retake created by Maxime Delalande, Nadya Mira, Semiramis Mamata, Laurent Moing and Rayane Raji
Sawa created by Camile André, Janis Aussel, Clément Doranlo, Maud Girard and Jong-Hyun Jung-Boix
Copernicus created by Elssa Boyer, Anne Courtin, Myriam Fourati, Sarah Simon and Pedro Vergani
The Fancy Family created by Debora Cruchon, Eve Ceccarelli, Marie-Pierre Demessant, Batiste Perron and Simon Masse
See Saw created by Marlène Beaube, Marion Bulot, Thibaud Gayral, Guitty Mojabi and Raphaëlle Stolz
By: Jerry Beck,
Blog: Cartoon Brew
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SIGGRAPH attendees, mark your calendars for Monday, July 22. 11:30am. The SIGGRAPH 2013 Keynote Session is titled “Giants’ First Steps” and the ‘giants’ are all animation directors. The panel, which is co-presented with the Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences, will feature eight animation directors—all male, by the way—who will “share their experiences along complex paths to filmmaking success.”
A ninety-minute session hardly seems long enough to contain the stories and thoughts of the distinguished group of filmmakers who will participate: Pete Docter (Monsters, Inc., Up), Eric Goldberg (Pocahontas, Fantasia/2000), Kevin Lima (Tarzan), Mike Mitchell (Shrek Forever After, Alvin and the Chipmunks: Chipwrecked), Chris Sanders (Lilo & Stitch, How to Train Your Dragon), Henry Selick (Nightmare Before Christmas, Coraline), David Silverman (The Simpsons Movie), and Kirk Wise (Beauty and the Beast, Atlantis: The Lost Empire).
Since its premiere in April, Teen Titans Go! has consistently ranked among Cartoon Network’s top ten programs, so it comes as no surprise that a second season of the Michael Jelenic/Aaron Horvath-produced superhero comedy series was recently ordered from Warner Bros. Animation.
An extension of the Cartoon Network series Teen Titans and freely adapted from the popular DC Comics title of the same name, the show, which focuses on the adolescent angst and domestic squabbles of superhero roommates, mixes a kindergarten cartoon production style with a FLCL anime influence. Season one of Teen Titans Go! is currently airing and new episodes will continue to premiere on Tuesday nights at 7:30 pm.
Disney announced this afternoon that they will release Planes: Fire & Rescue as a 3D theatrical feature on July 18, 2014. The film is a sequel to Planes, itself a spin-off of Pixar’s Cars, that will open in theaters on August 9. Both of the Planes films are produced by Disneytoon, the John Lasseter-run division that handles all the projects that Pixar and Disney Feature won’t touch with a ten-foot-pole. It should also be noted that Planes 2 wasn’t among the 15-feature release slate that Disney announced last month so we can only guess how many more Disneytoon features will flood theaters over the coming years in addition to the Disney and Pixar features.
It’s always fascinating to see how the animation process is explained to the general public. Here’s the latest example: actor Steve Carell, who was last seen dressed as a cartoon character, talks about the making of Despicable Me 2.
The Hollywood Reporter published a lengthy piece that suggests an impending feature animation war:
The unprecedented glut of product points to a seismic shift in the animation business as new players such as Universal and Sony finally gain a stronghold and established companies like DreamWorks Animation, Fox, Disney Animation Studios and Pixar up their games. Family franchises can be incredibly lucrative if done right — between global theatrical sales (particularly international), home entertainment and merchandising. Pixar’s Cars franchise, for example, moved north of $10 billion in merchandise alone. If they don’t work, studios can lose tens upon tens of millions, with hundreds of jobs at risk.
Late last month, Pixar and Disney Animation chief creative officer John Lasseter essentially declared war on Katzenberg by dating a slew of untitled Pixar and Disney Animation Studios films through 2018, going so far as to claim June 17, 2016, even though DWA already had put How to Train Your Dragon 3 there. Never before have a Pixar and DWA movie gone up against one another. Katzenberg and Fox, where Vanessa Morrison heads up Fox Animation Studios, retaliated by flooding the calendar through 2018 with their own untitled films, even planting one on June 16, 2017, a Pixar date.
The Reporter doesn’t have all their facts straight. They wrote that, “For the past handful of years, there have been no more than four or five studio animated films a year, plus a handful of indie titles. There are eight releases this year and 10 next year.” However, there have easily been eight to ten major studio animation releases per year in recent times. Just take a look at the 2011 and 2012 release slates.
Of course, the other argument is that there aren’t too many tentpole animated features, only too many features that are cut from the same cloth. Pixar, Disney, DreamWorks and Blue Sky each use their own finely tuned formulas, and audiences are guaranteed to tire of those sooner than they do of animation itself.
Titmouse created this lively spot to promote a collaboration between Lancôme and designer Alber Elbaz (who makes a cameo). Watch in HD for full effect. Production credits to come.
Blue Sky’s Epic continued its mild box office run last weekend with a respectable decline of 28.5% and $11.8 million in U.S. box office earnings. The film has now racked up $83.9 million over its three week U.S. run. The film has one more weekend of clear-sailing ahead of it before it will succumb to another kiddie flick, Monsters University.
Overseas, Epic placed sixth, with approx. $12.7M from over sixty international territories, pushing its overseas total to $105.4M. Blue Sky’s features tend to overperform in international markets—the studio’s last three features have averaged $582 million overseas—but Epic will be lucky to break $200 million internationally.
Mirage was among the most outstanding thesis films from the 2013 class of the School of Visual Arts. It’s about a young Inuit boy and his dog who go out into the bleak Arctic wilderness to fish, only to discover strange happenings lurking beneath the frozen waters.
The film was a joint effort between Iker Maidagan, who came up with the story and did the layouts, and Dana Terrace, who designed and animated the characters. Working as a team, they were able to focus on their artistic strengths and apply them to a single project. Everything, from story concept to animation to final compositing, and all the steps in-between, are flawlessly executed.
Knowing both Iker and Dana personally from my time attending SVA, I can say that they both have a very strong understanding of the process, not just as animators, but as filmmakers and storytellers. I don’t think I have ever seen a student film that feels as complete and polished as a studio-produced short, but this one certainly comes close, if not surpassing it.
Anne-Lou Erambert is an animation student who attends Ecole des Métiers du Cinéma d’Animation (EMCA) in Angoulême, France.
As part of her project research Anne-Lou draws colorful, quick, watercolor and pastel studies.
Here is a rough drawing, character design exploration, and bit of animation from one of Anne-lou’s proejcts:
See more of Anne-lou’s work on her Tumblr.
Gigglebug, a newly released iPad app from Finland, uses infectious laughter to encourage social play among children. Through touching and swiping the screen, players can tickle various 2D animated characters to make them smile and laugh. This sort of interactive, responsive play is irresistible to kids, and elicits a reaction that may or may not be desirable to parents:
Infectious laughter has proven to be a guaranteed form of entertainment—how else could videos of laughing babies have 60 million views on YouTube? Several cartoons, toys and other products have found success in using laughter, such as Sesame Street shorts and Tickle Me Elmo.
Then there’s Sh-h-h-h-h-h, a clasic Tex Avery cartoon about a man trying to escape the constant laughter and noise of his surroundings. The soundtrack of the cartoon comes from the early-1920s Okeh Laughing Record, a bizarre recording that features a man and woman laughing uncontrollably.
Gigglebug also features lush watercolor backgrounds and laugh scenes that are fully animated with quality not often seen in 2D animated apps. Not surprisingly, the app was developed in part by Helsinki-based Anima Boutique which has extensive experience producing animation for entertainment purposes. They are simultaneously developing Gigglebug as a children’s TV series. The success of another Finnish creation, Angry Birds, appears to have normalized the idea that a successful app can lead to cross-media adaptations on more traditional platforms like TV and film.
Even though origami is the flavor of the moment—even McDonald’s is doing it—the sheer amount of labor involved in producing this Special K stop motion spot makes it rather impressive. It was directed by Peter Sluszka at New York-based Hornet Inc.
There’s a making of video in which you can listen to ad agency and marketing peope waxing eloquent about work that they didn’t do. The director Sluszka offers the best comment in the video: “What it really requires is hours of people folding paper.”
Production Companies: Hornet Inc/Blinkink
Director: Peter Sluszka
Executive Producer: Jan Stebbins
Producer: Zack Kortright
Line Producer: Joel Kretschman
Editor: Anita Chao
Art Director: Mandy Smith
Director of Photography: Ivan Abel
Lead Compositors: Peter Fink, John Harrison
Compositors: Adam Yost, Yussef Cole
Roto Artists: Ted Wiggins, Rafael Mayrhofer
Storyboard Artist: Carlos Ancalmo
Motion Control Operator: Richard Coppola
Gaffer: Michael Yetter
Best Boy Electric: Casey Wooden
3rd Electric: Jarod Kloiber
Key Grip: Matt Walker
Best Boy Grip: Matt Cryan, Brian Yost
3rd Grip: Bob Blankmeir
Animators: Hayley Morris, Matt Somma, Kevin Coyle
Fabricators: Connie Chan, Ben Kress, Ben Friesen, Peter Erickson, Junko Shimzu, Michaela Olsen
Art Deptartment Assistant: Kevin Coyle
Food Stylist: Elizabeth Bell
Food Stylist Assistant: Mireya Acierto, Brett Regot
Production Assistant: Tim Kuhl, Eric Duke, Rafael Mayrhofer
1st AC: Nate Spengler
Phantom Tech: Mark Sashara
Advertising Agency: Leo Burnett
Creative Director: Karen Reed and Natasha Ali
Executive Creative Director: Mylene Pollock
Copywriter: Liam Bushby and Alison Stevens
Art Director: Liam Bushby and Alison Stevens
Account Team: Carly Pritchard, Dominique Gomes, Sofia Sarkar
Project Manager: Gaynor Goldring
Planner (Creative Agency): Olivia Heywood and Charlie Kirkbride
Agency Producer: Serena Schellenberg
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When DreamWorks story artist Dave Derrick was a student at CalArts in the early-2000s, one of the shorts that influenced him was Tim Watts and David Stoten’s BAFTA-winning, Oscar-nominated The Big Story. Derrick recently met Watts and took the opportunity to interview him about the film, his work on the Spitting Image TV show, and find out why Watts and Stoten animated the film twice—once hand-drawn and again in stop motion. Read the Tim Watts interview on Derrick’s website.