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One of the most impressive illustrators working in film production today is Rodolfo Damaggio.
Damaggio worked as a comic book artist for DC in the 1990’s before moving on to do concept art and storyboards for such summer blockbusters as MI3, Lemony Snicket’s SoUE, Hidalgo, Indiana Jones 4, and Fantastic Four “Rise of the Silver Surfer”, among many others. Pouring through Damaggio’s website will leave you feeling a little overwhelmed by his stunning sense of cinematic perspective – not to mention his rock-solid drawing and painting skills. This guy is good.
I’m not sayin’ that Hollywood doesn’t know how to make good movie posters anymore (because they obviously still do), it’s just the the Ghanaians seem to have perfected the art. In the 80s, when VHS technology became affordable and bootlegs of lousy horror and action films were plentiful, the resourceful folks of Ghana would travel from town to village setting up “mobile cinemas” with nothing more than a TV, a VCR and these spectacular hand-painted posters.
“In order to promote these showings, artists were hired to paint large posters of the films (usually on used canvas flour sacks). The artists were given the artistic freedom to paint the posters as they desired – often adding elements that weren’t in the actual films, or without even having seen the movies. When the posters were finished they were rolled up and taken on the road (note the heavy damages). The “mobile cinema” began to decline in the mid-nineties due to greater availability of television and video; as a result the painted film posters were substituted for less interesting/artistic posters produced on photocopied paper.”
If a trip to Ghana is not in your itinerary, then please wander over to Ephemera Assemblyman or the Affiche Poster Museumto gaze upon more of their glorious godawful goodness. And if you’d like to actually display one of these works of cinematic art in your own home or hovel, then why not stock up over at Ghana Movie Posters? Christmas is just around the corner and you know how much grandma loves her Tiger Cage 2!
Viz has released a translation of The Art of Ponyo – the art book for the animated feature film which hit North American theatres this month. As with all the Studio Ghibli art books, the highlights are the watercolours by Hayao Miyazaki himself.
Jeu is one of my favourite animated shorts of the last few years. Paint-on-glass animation is a technique for animated films by manipulating slow-drying oil paints on sheets of glass.
This film is a series of nine animated cycles composed of 400 paintings that “destroy and reconstruct” themselves like a set of Russian matryoshka dolls. The director’s son, Louis Schwizgebel-Wang, performs the accompanying piano piece (Prokofiev’s Second Piano Concerto).
“In Jeu I used a cycle of 6.5 seconds; then i thought, once we’ve completed a complete cycle, why not use that cycle to provide the detail in another cycle. The drawings are divided by nine. And when you see the whole thing it forms the ninth part of another drawing, and so on…”
(Disclosure: This is an NFB film and I work at the NFB).
via NFB’s 2009 Get Animated program where you can check out animation workshops with top animators in cities across Canada this fall.
Like many of us, Jonny Quest was among my absolute favourites shows when I was a kid. It’s one of the few that still holds up (well, to a point anyway) over four decades later. Alex Toth’s and Doug Wildey’s stunning designs and storyboards, along with lush adventurous musical scores by Hoyt Curtin, put it in a class all its own. (And do not mention that “other” Jonny Quest show from the late 90s because la-la-la-la-la-la-la-I-can’t-hear-you!)
So I was delighted when a friend pointed me to this wonderful (fan-made?) Jonny Quest documentary. It’s a bit of a mystery exactly who made it, other than that it was “supposedly made for a one time screening at a private function.”
The whole video clocks in at about 2 hrs and 20 minutes, broken down into 27 short chapters on YouTube, and assembled into this single playlist (two chapters are missing). It’s the perfect way to spend next Saturday morning while you enjoy your Pop Tarts and coffee in bed!
If you’d like to create a single file, you can download all the clips from Chris Webber’s blog (he’s the fellow who posted the work on YouTube, but not its author) and assemble them together into a single file. (If you do, and manage to upload it somewhere to share with others, please let me know and I’ll add the info to this post.)
About the video, Chris says:
The original creators of the documentary have given me permission to share this unique documentary but ask once again that if you do download it and decide to copy it or share it, please do not sell it or in any way create profit with it. This was their sole requirement for posting it on YouTube and now here on this blog.
Former-Pixar production designer Lou Romano has posted a massive post on his blog, chock-full of production artwork and tests from his work on Pixar’s newest film, “Up”. Video tests, even. Check the post HERE. Warning: there could be some spoilers, so don’t indulge yourself if you haven’t seen the film yet and want to be surprised. From what I’ve seen though, the film looks fantastic.
Upon the release of every Pixar movie, I look forward to the subsequent Art of book. I am eagerly awaiting the release of Wall-E (robots!) and was equally excited for its own book of production art.
The Art of Wall-E seems, to me at least, a bit of a departure from previous Pixar Art of books. Those books were filled with all sorts of different character designs in wildly varying illustration styles. Perhaps I shouldn’t expect the same from a film that is centered around a lone robot inhabitant on a desolate planet, but apart from a few notes about how the character was inspired by R2-D2 and a pair of binoculars, the book features nearly zero preliminary character designs for the titular droid. It’s as if the character was invented fully formed.
The book still features plenty of storyboard sequences, lush concept paintings, and the colour studies you’ve come to expect from these books, but I could have used more robots! Robots!
Nicolas de Crécy, genius comic-artist and the (not so) secret graphic voice behind Les Triplettes de Belleville has been residing in Villa Kujoyama recently and keeps a wonderful blog with his drawings and photos…
If (like me) you’re a fan of the films of Hayao Miyazake (Totoro, Spirited Away), this might interest you. It’s a glimpse of the first trailer for his new film, Ponyo on a Cliff by the Sea, which will be released in Japan in July, 2008.
According to IMDB, the film is about a five-year old boy and his relationship with a girl-princess fish who longs to become human. Overall, it looks like a really nice return to the innocent and child-like fun of Totoro.
Also, here’s a slideshow of behind-the-scenes images (including distinctive concept watercolours by Miyazake himself) overlaid with an addictive theme-song.
Definitely check it out. You won’t be able to stop watching.
Notably, the film is part of an “Open movie project” with the following goals:
* Developing tools … for editing and rendering hair, fur or grass
* Improve character animation tools for cartoonish motion and deformation
* Test Blender with giant outdoor environments, with large grassy fields and many trees with leaves
* Further validate Blender as a professional animation creation suite
* Create a great and good looking animation short, licensed freely as open content
* Provide content for other artists to learn from or to re-use, including documentation and tutorials
Hey, even though I’m not working there anymore doesn’t mean I won’t promote the good people who’ve been working hard for several years on Henry Selick’s upcoming Coraline. LA Times has a nice showcase of on-set photos of the production. Worth a look.
Canadian cartoonist Seth is curating a series of films from the National Film Board of Canada. (This is particularly exciting for me, since I work at the NFB).
If you’re lucky enough to live in southern Ontario, you can see the films at the University of Waterloo until January 4, 2009 (more details here).
However, the rest of us can watch one of his selections - Paul Tomkowitz: Street Railway Switchman - right here. It’s a nine-minute 1953 documentary about a Polish-born Canadian who contrasts his adopted home of Winnipeg with his home-country.
Check out Flutter - a beautiful black & white animated short by Howie Shia.
The film has the clear line style of a lot of great recent Japanese animation - and though I’m not 100% sure what happens in the film (maybe you can tell me?) - it’s still fascinating to watch - very playful and dynamic.
The film is presented as part of World Animation Day 2008 - October 28. In Canada, the National Film Board is holding free public screenings and events in the following cities: Victoria, Vancouver, Edmonton, Calgary, Winnipeg, Toronto, Montreal, Halifax, Moncton, Bouctouche, Caraquet, Edmundston, Kedgwick.
Design Sponge is kicking off a new video web-series - Design by the Book. Kind of a Project Runway but with a bunch of Williamsburg designers. And instead of the Parsons School of Fashion, it’s set in (drum roll) the NY Public Library.
The first episode is up and it’s got interviews with a bunch of interesting people. Notably:
“Reinvent the way you market a movie.” - Phil Knight, Nike Founder/Laika CEO
And with those words, the folks at Weiden + Kennedy went right to work, creating a very curious marketing campaign for Coraline, the stop-motion animated, Henry Selick-directed film produced by Laika and distributed by Focus Features. They certainly had their work cut out for them. I’m thinking that this ugly poster (along with the ABC series of one-sheets featured below it) certainly couldn’t have been anything that W+K concocted. When you compare that garish poster with the one featured above, one has to wonder what’s going on. It looks like to me that W+K took over the campaign from a clueless film promotion team at Focus and then went a more subversive route by sending ‘mystery boxes’ to various bloggers (mentioned previously):
Of course, I’m speculating here. I really don’t know what happened. All I know is that the ad campaign took a decidedly different turn once I learned of those mystery boxes. And the official movie site, too. That was done by W+K as well. Be sure to check this post out, as there’s lots of talented people who worked on the campaign. With a $16.8M (USD) take for the first weekend, I think they succeeded (it wasn’t expected to do more than $10M for a movie like it). See video clips, too.
Also on W+K Portland’s blog: Coraline Premiere. (Look for a shot of the Joe Ranft puppet that has a cameo in the beginning of the film.)
Scott Pilgrim Volume 5 is out this month. The art keeps getting tighter and slicker - and the story is fun as ever. Though there’s a bit of a twist this time ’round. I’m sure the improvement in brushwork can be at least partly attributed to the influence of Bryan O’Malley’s studiomate (and lifemate), Hope.
What is Scott Pilgrim?
Basically, a celebration of Toronto, video games and manga. If you’re into any of those things you’ll love SP. (No flamez about Toronto, plz. It’s where I’m from).
No, it’s not the missed opportunity that’s currently being sold on the bookshelves. If you’ve had the unfortunate opportunity to thumb through that book, you would’ve surmised that the only artist that worked on pre-production for Coraline was Japanese illustrator Tadahiro Uesugi. While we know that Tadahiro’s work is brilliant, the ‘visual companion’ is a complete slap in the face to all the other artists who worked on the production. Have no fear, though. The best way to see pre-production art of Coraline is to view it online. Here, I’ve created a nice tour of sorts for you (click on each name for much more art):
First up, early character and conceptual work by Dan Krall. Ronald Searle is definitely an influence:
Next, we visit Chris Appelhans for some visual development and color studies. The artists’ were definitely using Tadahiro as a point of reference:
More visual development, color studies, & props by Jon Klassen. Beautiful work, with a great sense of space and color:
Stef Choi also did some early concept sketches. Check out the cute, little garden characters. Here’s a shot of Coraline & her mom:
Finally, gorgeous sculptures of all the Coraline puppets by Damon Bard. Be sure to check out all his galleries while you’re visiting his site. Incredibly talented guy:
In fact, there was a great deal of other incredibly talented people who worked on the film, but were never mentioned in the book. Vera Brosgol, Graham Annable, and Andy Schuhler, among others. (UPDATE: Katy Wu is another vis-dev artist.) Shane Prigmore does a great job listing more of the artists responsible for the look & style of the film. Be sure and check out all their hard work.
UPDATE: Kevin Dart just informed me that Chris Turnham has started up a blog for Coraline production art. Chris did some extensive work on the Fantastic Garden sequence: