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Viewing: Blog Posts Tagged with: DVD, Most Recent at Top [Help]
Results 1 - 25 of 77
1. Criterion Will Release ‘Watership Down’ on Blu-Ray/DVD

Criterion will release Martin Rosen's "Watership Down" on Blu-Ray/DVD in 2015.

0 Comments on Criterion Will Release ‘Watership Down’ on Blu-Ray/DVD as of 11/18/2014 10:59:00 AM
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2. Tyler Perry and Bento Box Produce Direct-to-Video ‘Madea’ Feature

Actor Tyler Perry, whose drag performances as an elderly African-American woman named Madea have resulted in explicable live-action success, has transferred his Madea act to animation with the dreadful-looking "Tyler Perry's Madea's Tough Love."

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3. Universal Partners With ‘Foodfight!’ Studio For More CGI Films

The average child or adult animation fan with an untrained eye might look at the animated feature "Foodfight!" and think to themself, "That's not the greatest animated film I've ever seen in my entire life." That's precisely why the average child or adult animation fan with an untrained eye doesn't work in a movie studio.

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4. Watch An Animated Feature and Help The Alzheimer’s Foundation At the Same Time

In a unique partnership with the Alzheimer's Foundation of America, a portion of digital sales of 'Wrinkles' will be donated to the organization.

0 Comments on Watch An Animated Feature and Help The Alzheimer’s Foundation At the Same Time as of 7/16/2014 6:13:00 PM
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5. The Best Of International Rocketship

Animator Marv Newland is the only person I know who doesn’t have a website or an email address. I don’t know if he even reads the internet.

Yesterday I received a small package from him, it was a DVD with a letter telling about his new compilation DVD. He wrote:

“Dear Jerry,

Enclosed is your copy of the freshly released BEST OF INTERNATIONAL ROCKETSHIP dvd. No voting. No warnings. No Extras.

There was a limited number produced as the potential audience may also be limited, numerically and in other departments not fit to remark about in this missive.

The dvd is for sale at $20. (U.S. or Candian dollars) shipping included. Send check to: International Rocketship, 278-1857 West 4th Ave. Vancouver, British Columbia V6J 1M4 Canada. DVDs shipped via the miracle of the postal system.

Hope you are keeping well and remember your name when wake up each and every morning.

Marv.”

As the limited potential audience for this disc is mainly composed of the readers of this blog, I think Marv was fishing for a plug. I’m only too happy to comply.

I’m not sure if the International Rocketship shorts have been compiled before, but I didn’t have them – so I’m grateful to have them now. Anijam, Lupo The Butcher, Black Hula, Sing Beast Sing, Pink Komkommer, Bambi Meets Godzilla and more – all remastered from original 35mm camera negatives. Wonderful stuff. For twenty bucks – it’s a steal!

So send Marv $20. and tell him I sent you. He’ll probably include you a hand-written note to thank you.

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6. Warner Bros. Anniversary DVD Set salutes Hanna Barbera

This year, Warner Home Video is releasing several DVD boxed sets designed to celebrate the film studio’s 90th anniversary. A few of them will actually compile cartoons. They’ve just announced one of these: The Best of Warner Bros.: Hanna Barbera 25 Cartoon Collection, a 2-DVD set available on May 21st, for $26.99 ($18.89 on Amazon). It includes selected H-B cartoons from the ’50s, ’60s and ’70′s. The contents are:

1950s
The Ruff & Reddy Show (1957) “Planet Pirates” (episode 1)
Huckleberry Hound (1958) “Spud Dud”
Yogi Bear (1958) “Snow White Bear”
Hokey Wolf (1961) “Castle Hassle”
Pixie and Dixie and Mr. Jinks (1958) “A Wise Quack,”
The Quick Draw McGraw Show (1959) “Masking for Trouble”
Augie Doggie and Doggie Daddy (1959) “Gone to the Ducks”
Snooper and Blabber (1959) “The Lion is Busy” with Snagglepuss
Loopy De Loop (1959) “Wolf Hounded”

1960s
The Flintstones (1960) “Love Letters On The Rocks” 30 mins.
The Yogi Bear Show (1961)
Snagglepuss “The Roaring Lion”
Yakky Doodle “Hasty Tasty”
Top Cat (1961) “T.C. Minds the Baby” 30 mins.
Wally Gator “Gator-Napper”
Touché Turtle and Dum Dum “Rapid Rabbit” with Ricochet Rabbit Lippy the Lion & Hardy Har Har “Hick Hikers”
The Jetsons (1962) “Rosie the Robot” 30 mins
The Magilla Gorilla Show (1964) “Makin’ with the Magilla”
Punkin’ Puss & Mushmouse “Callin’ All Kin”
Ricochet Rabbit & Droop-a-Long “Will ‘O the Whip”
Jonny Quest (1964) “The Robot Spy” 30 mins.
Peter Potamus (1964) “Cleo Trio”
Breezly and Sneezly “Stars and Gripes”
Yippee, Yappee and Yahooey “Black Bart”
Atom Ant “The Big Gimmick”
Secret Squirrel “Cuckoo Clock Cuckoo”
Squiddly Diddly “Way Out Squiddly”
Precious Pupp “Precious Jewels”
The Hillbilly Bears “Do The Bear”
Winsome Witch “Have Broom will Travel”
Frankenstein, Jr. “The Shocking Electrical Monster’
The Impossibles (1966) “The Spinner”
Space Ghost “The Heat Thing”
Dino Boy “The Sacrifice”
Space Kidettes (1966) “Moleman Menace’
The Abbott and Costello Cartoon Show “Gadzooka”
Birdman (1967) “Birdman Meets Birdboy”
The Galaxy Trio (1967) “Revolt of the Robots”
The Herculoids (1967) “Attack from Space”
Cattanooga Cats (1969) “Witch Whacky”
It’s The Wolf (1969) “Slumber Jacks”
Motormouse and Autocat (1969) “Wheelin’ and Dealin’”

1970s
The Funky Phantom (1971) “The Liberty Bell Caper” 30 mins.
Jabberjaw (1976) “Dr. Lo has Got to Go” 30 mins.

Sounds like quite a bargain to me. Sharp-eyed CB readers Rodrigo Tramonte and Homero Bender noted on Cartoon Brew’s Facebook page that the rabbit pictured on the box between Yogi Bear and Quick Draw McGraw is not a familiar Hanna Barbera character (see below). It’s actually “Rapid Rabbit” from a late Warner Bros. Looney Tunes theatrical short, Rabbit Stew And Rabbits Too (1969).

Apparently the artist meant to use a Ricochet Rabbit (the particular Ricochet Rabbit cartoon on this set is titled “Rapid Rabbit“). I’ve been told Warner Bros. will correct the artwork on the final package.

(Thanks, TV Shows on DVD)

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7. Today Only on Amazon: Over 350 Looney Tunes for $65

Amazon’s Gold Box Deal of the Day—good for today only—is an amazing value for anyone who is even slightly interested in classic Hollywood cartoons. They’re offering all six Looney Tunes Golden Collection DVD sets for $65. That’s 24 discs with over 350 cartoons and far too many extras to mention. Go to Amazon by midnight to order.

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8. “A Monster in Paris” Out on DVD Today in the U.S.

Bibo Bergeron’s A Monster in Paris is releasing on DVD today in the United States through Shout! Factory. The 2011 French animated feature was unable to secure theatrical distribution in the competitive U.S. market, but Bergeron’s earlier directorial efforts will no doubt be familiar to American viewers—DreamWorks’ The Road to El Dorado and Shark Tale. A blog featuring artwork from the A Monster in Paris can be viewed HERE.

Order A Monster in Paris for $10.49 on Amazon.com.

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9. ‘Birds of Paradise’ Looks to Cash In On ‘Rio 2′

On April 1st, Lionsgate Home Entertainment will release "Birds Of Paradise" on DVD exclusively at Walmart and Redbox. If the film looks and feels suspicously like Fox's "Rio" franchise, well...that's the point. One of the film's PR people sent us a press release that states matter-of-factly that "Birds of Paradise" is "timed to the theatrical release of 'Rio 2.'" The latter Blue Sky Studios-produced movie will be released on April 11.

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10. Latest Issue of ‘Believer’ Contains Exclusive DVD of Restored Hubley Shorts

The Believer is one of the magazines in McSweeney’s indie publishing empire. Published nine times a year, it focuses primarily on books, but occasionally devotes an issue to another topic. This year, the March/April film issue includes a DVD of shorts by John and Faith Hubley, in tribute to John Hubley’s centennial, which happens on May 24th. The disc covers seventeen years of the Hubley’s work together, almost their entire career as a couple. John Hubley died in 1977, and Faith in 2001, and in lieu of any essential DVD releases of their work, this DVD serves as a fantastic introduction to their work. The Hubley’s Oscar-winning short Moonbird (1959) has lately been available as a scratchy public domain print on cheap truck-stop DVD collections of random cartoons. It’s an entirely different experience to see this recently restored print, preserved by the Academy Film Archive. Other restored prints are Tender Game, The Hole and Adventures of an * (1957). And the music scores for these films, from Benny Carter and Lionel Hampton, to Dizzy Gillespie, Ella Fitzgerald and the Oscar Peterson Trio, comprise a who’s who of jazz in the late 1950s. Moonbird and Cockaboody (1973) feature improvised dialogue by the Hubley children, providing an extra free-form quality that is jazz-like in its own way. There are seven shorts in all on the DVD, including the rare mockumentary Date with Dizzy, as well as Cartoon Modern-era TV commercials directed by Hubley and home movie footage. Plus, the accopanying print magazine includes storyboard panels from the Hubleys’ feature-length documentary Of Stars and Men (1964). The DVD was supervised by the Hubley family and Jacob Perlin of Artists Public Domain/Cinema Conservancy. For a full list of the DVDs contents, visit The Believer website. If you’re new to the Hubleys, there are plenty of articles and comments on the web, but I would recommend the late Michael Sporn’s post on Moonbird as a good place to start. The Believer may be ordered from its website if your local bookstore doesn’t carry it. /wp-content/uploads/2014/03/hole-believer-580×388.jpg” alt=”" title=”hole-believer” width=”580″ height=”388″ class=”alignnone size-large wp-image-97204″ />

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11. Jeff Dunham and Bento Box Make Direct-to-Video Film ‘Achmed Saves America’

Ventriloquist Jeff Dunham, whose primary skill is spewing hate speech without moving his lips, has brought his shtick to animation with an hour-length animated special called "Achmed Saves America."

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12. ‘Wrinkles’ Coming to DVD and VOD Next Week (Exclusive Video)

The 2011 Spanish animated feature "Wrinkles," based on Paco Roca's graphic novel, will be released onto DVD and VOD in the United States on July 15.

0 Comments on ‘Wrinkles’ Coming to DVD and VOD Next Week (Exclusive Video) as of 7/10/2014 3:11:00 PM
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13. Winnie the Pooh - DVD + Blu-ray Combo Pack Review

Like many children growing up in the 70s, I thank Disney for the introduction to the timeless, classic children's book character Winnie the Pooh. My brother and I listened to our Winnie the Pooh vinyl record and followed along with the accompanying storybook over and over and over. I still can sing the Winnie the Pooh theme song from memory. It's a sweet as honey tune that sticks in your head, one you never forget.

Those fond childhood memories are one of the reasons I'm so excited that Disney has released an all-new, animated film based on the loveable bear all stuffed with fluff. The new Winnie the Pooh movie, first shown in theaters this summer, is now available for purchase on DVD and Blu-ray Combo pack. Amidst the flurry of new movie releases, including Cars 2 and the final Harry Potter film, Winnie the Pooh is a welcome and familiar return to the basics, a movie full of quiet humor and heartwarming charm.

On an ordinary day, Pooh sets out to find some honey but gets sidetracked and ends up helping out his friends. Pooh discovers that poor Eeyore has lost his tail and the all the friends -- Tigger, Rabbit, Piglet, Kanga and Roo -- engage in a contest searching for a replacement. The group suggests all sorts of silly and inadequate replacement tails including a cuckoo clock, accordion, and dart board but nothing suffices. While thinking of a way to win the contest, Pooh discovers a note from Christopher Robin but, unable to read it himself, he takes it to Owl. Owl misinterprets the note, “Gone out. Busy. Back soon.” With great concern, he remarks that Christopher Robin has been captured by a "Backson." The group then switches their focus on a way to capture the Backson, and Eeyore's tail eventually turns up.

Returning to the style of the original Disney Pooh featurettes, this new movie has that same hand-drawn animation look with the classic warm watercolor backgrounds. Additionally, the movie opens with live scene set, a view of Christopher Robin's bedroom filled with toys. But what I appreciate the most is the storybook narration and wonderful integration of the book pages into the film. The characters interact with the text; they climb on the letters and walk on the pages of the book while the narrator (John Cleese) talks. It feels exactly as if the story has come to life. And there's enough subtle humor to amuse adults as well as children. Some of the hilarious scenes come directly from Milne's book like one where owl says they must "issue a reward" and Pooh thinks owl is sneezing. I think the film brings something special to the banterin

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14. Restored Paramount “Noveltoons” on DVD

Okay, here is an unabashed plug for a video project near and dear to my heart. Animation archeologist/film-restoration hero Steve Stanchfield is ready to unveil his latest DVD masterpiece: Noveltoons Original Classics, a special DVD collection featuring twenty restored “Hollywood” cartoons produced by Paramount from 1943-1950.

Paramount’s in-house cartoon unit, Famous Studios (actually based in New York City), was staffed by a core group of artists from the former Fleischer Studio – in fact, just about everyone minus Max and Dave was still involved. The Noveltoons series became the launching pad for many well known (and not-so-well known) characters: Little Audrey, Baby Huey, Herman the Mouse, Raggedy Ann, Blackie Sheep, Spunky Donkey and others. Unlike other collections featuring some of this material, Stanchfield’s set features these cartoons digitally restored and mastered from original 35mm and 16mm film materials. For the specific cartoon titles, see Menu’s below (click thumbnails to enlarge).


You may have seen some of these cartoons before – but you haven’t seen them look like this. Pristine, colorful, with their original Paramount movie titles. Believe me, this library has been sadly neglected for decades. Previous available copies of these cartoons are usually faded 16mm TV prints with replaced titles, film splices and dirt lines. Your jaw will drop when you see the quality Steve has managed to achieve (check the two frame grabs above, center and right; click thumbnails to enlarge).

Bonus features include commentaries from animators (Bob Jaques, Mike Kazaleh, etc.) and animation historians (including me), Still galleries featuring original model sheets, publicity materials, animation art and comic strips, plus a unique Baby Huey storyboard/final film comparison reel (image below):

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15. John Carter meets “Beany & Cecil”

In ancipation of Andrew Stanton’s (Finding Nemo, Wall-E) live action debut, John Carter, this clip of Bob Clampett’s 1936 John Carter of Mars test footage has recently gone viral (thanks to Geeks of Doom, io9 and The Animation Guild, among others):

Of course, longtime readers of Cartoon Brew know this clip comes off the 1999 Beany & Cecil The Special Edition (Vol. 1) DVD, which we have championed for years. I am happy to report Volume 1 was just re-released in a newly remastered version last month. You can only get it through the official Beany & Cecil.com website, and according to the site “the remastered disc has new menus and loads faster, adds Spanish tracks for all of the cartoons (except Beanyland) and several new audio commentaries by Clampett’s kids on three cartoons. There is also a recently discovered storyboard for an unproduced Clampett autobiographgical cartoon titled Cecil’s Scrapebook. What makes it really unique and strange is that it recounts Bob Clampett’s creative and “surreal” life in the person of Cecil.”

I can’t tell you how much I personally love the work of Bob Clampett. These DVDs (Volume 1 and Volume 2) are vital for anyone interested in classic Hollywood cartoons – or anyone who simply wants to laugh. I’ll end this post with one of my favorite Beany and Cecil cartoons (many are now available on You Tube’s Beany & Cecil Channel). I’d be hard pressed to pick my favorite B&C cartoon, but this one is in the top ten – one of the funniest, cleverest and coolest TV cartoons ever, The Wildman of Wildsville:


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16. UPA, UPA, and Away!

They’re out… and as Tony the Tiger would say: “They’re Grrrr-reat!

I will go out on limb right now and declare TCM’s UPA: The Jolly Frolics Collection the DVD of the year. This thing is loaded (full disclosure: I was involved in the process). It is beautifully and cleverly packaged and contains a 16-page booklet with brief essay by UPA historian Adam Abraham, capsule biographies of key UPA personnel, a UPA chronology chart with key events and a release chart timelime, plot synopsis and more…

The three discs themselves are packed with incredible restorations of 38 UPA cartoons. These restorations are so good, they will force many to reevaluate their opinions of these films. Cartoons I’d long dismissed as inferior – The Oompahs, The Miner’s Daughter, Baby Boogie and others – are suddenly vibrant, colorful and clear; what the filmmakers intended, and a lot better than I’d thought. Compare the frame grab of from my personal bootleg video copy of The Man On The Flying Trapeze (thumbnail below left to enlarge) with the restoration (below, center) to give you a small idea of the difference. Even if you have no interest in UPA, I think you’ll come to understand their importance through this set.

Sony went to great lengths to restore the cartoons on this collection – restoring original front and end titles (like the Fox & Crow title (below) from their first theatrical, Robin Hoodlum). Alas not every title could be restored (though most are), but what is here is from the original negs – and they are a pleasure to see anew.

I’m not even mentioning the bonus materials (Concept art, model sheets, storyboards, color styling sketches, background, publicity stills, movie poster galleries – and more, including audio commentaries and a Leonard Maltin introduction). If you’ve ordered it, it’s on the way. If you haven’t – what are you waiting for?

Adam Abraham’s important new history of UPA – When Magoo Flew – has also just been published by Wesleyan University Press. I’m not going to review it right now – but I will be giving a copy or two away in a pop-quiz contest sometime on Thursday. Adam will be in L.A. a week from Friday to sign copies of the book at LACMA, at the UPA tribute I’m hosting on March 30th. (Tickets available nowhint, hint!).

Adam has

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17. Eye Candy From The UPA “Jolly Frolics” DVDs

I watched all the UPA theatrical shorts back when I was writing Cartoon Modern, but seeing them restored on TCM’s new 3-DVD “Jolly Frolics” set has been an eye-opening experience. If there was ever any doubt about how progressive the studio was graphically, this set will dispel such notions. Immediately after UPA, the floodgates of animation design opened—by the mid-1950s, all varieties of graphic styles were being explored in TV advertising and industrial films, and soon after, European animation studios like Zagreb Film were out-UPAing UPA. The studio’s dominance lasted but only a short period, but UPA’s influence was lasting. It played a key role in pushing animation out of its cocoon, thus allowing it to evolve into the rich and diverse art form that it is today.

The director whose reputation will benefit most from this collection is Robert ‘Bobe’ Cannon. While his stories tend to be formulaic and thematically repetitive, often times it seemed like he was the only director at UPA who knew how to put together a coherent film. (A good deal of that credit also belongs to his close collaborator T. Hee, who wrote most of Cannon’s films.)

More than the stories though, it’s the way that Cannon animated characters, which looks even more refreshing today in light of all the generic Flash and After Effects animation. In Cannon’s work, the way a character moves is never separate from its design. Discovering a visually inventive way to animate a character from point A to point B is Cannon’s greatest strength. The two most famous films in the Cannon canon are Gerald McBoing Boing and Madeline, but his later efforts, especially Fudget’s Budget, Christopher Crumpet’s Playmate and The Jaywalker—all looking better than ever on this set—display remarkable confidence as a director.

Below is some random visual eye candy from the “Jolly Frolics” shorts. We’ll be giving away a couple copies of the set this weekend so check back.



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18. GIVEAWAY: UPA Jolly Frolics DVD sets

I’ve got two copies to give away of TCM’s 3-dvd UPA Jolly Frolics set. It’s loaded with visual delights guaranteed to inspire any fan of the “cartoon modern” aesthetic. Simpy leave a comment—say anything you wish—and make sure to include a real email address so I can contact you if you win. (Your email remains hidden and will not be used for any purpose other than to contact the winners.)

RULES: Contest will be closed at Saturday midnight (Eastern time). If you’ve won anything recently from us, you can’t win again. One entry per person. Multiple entries will automatically disqualify you.


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19. Stanchfield’s “Mid Century Modern” DVD

For those of you still recovering from the overdose of eye-candy contained in TCM’s UPA: Jolly Frolics Collection here’s a additional blast of 50s design goodness you simply gotta-have. Animation archaeologist Steve Stanchfield has just released his latest DVD compilation: Mid Century Modern Animation. It’s an incredibly cool set of theatrical cartoons, industrial films and vintage commercials that embraced the modernism movement of the era. Disney fans: this set features the largest collection of those 50s Disney “Alice in Wonderland” Jello promos, stylized Tinkerbell Peter Pan Peanut Butter commercials, and the Nash and Rambler automobile spots featuring Tom Oreb’s redesigned Mickey Mouse, Pinocchio and Jiminy Cricket.

Other highlights on the disc include a rare reel of the Soundac TV Weatherman shorts and a Shamus Culhane commercial sample reel. I hate to admit it, but Steve located a much better copy of UPA’s Magic Fluke than the one that appears on the Jolly Frolics set (it’s from a rare 35mm Technicolor print but contains a few splices). UPA’s industrial Big Tim, from a beautiful 35mm IB tech nitrate print, and John Sutherland’s Oreb/Haboush design masterpiece Destination Earth, transferred from a mint 16mm IB, are here. There’s much much more – shorts and oddities, like Grantray Lawrence’s lost pilot Planet Patrol, a rare workprint of a Paramount Popeye cartoon, and Zagreb’s The Cow On The Moon (1959).

The quality of this material is superb, the presentation is perfect and the DVD is labeled “Vol. 1″ – indicating that Steve has more goodies up his sleeve. Check out these frame grabs below – if this is your cup of tea, I highly recommend you pick up his Mid Century Modern Animation as soon as you possibly can.





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20. “Looney Tunes: Mouse Chronicles”

Our friends at TVShowsOnDVD have reported on Warner Home Video’s plans to release Looney Tunes Mouse Chronicles on DVD and Blu-ray Disc. I guess that means it’s okay for me to discuss it here.

Because I’m involved as a consultant on certain Warner DVD projects, I have to sign a non-disclosure form preventing me from talking about them before the company makes them public (That said, I wish I could tell you about the stuff coming out later this year. Consider this a hint that some of the most sought after animation the company owns is headed to DVD and blu-ray within the next year).

This Mouse Chronicles set contains 2-discs and runs 133 minutes long, includes an all-new featurette (Of Mice and Pen) and audio commentary by several historians and animators. This collection began life as one of the series of Looney Tunes Super-Stars and was designed to showcase only Chuck Jones’ Hubie and Bertie and Sniffles cartoons. While some of these have already been released on previous collections, most of this material is new to video – and beautiful restored. The DVD & Blu-Ray come out on August 28th – $18.89 on Amazon.com. Restored cartoon titles listed after the bump.

Sniffles Cartoons:
Naughty but Mice
Little Brother Rat
Sniffles and the Bookworm
Sniffles Takes a Trip
The Egg Collector
Bedtime for Sniffles
Sniffles Bells the Cat
Toy Trouble
The Brave Little Bat
The Unbearable Bear
Lost and Foundling
Hush my Mouse

Hubie and Bertie Cartoons:
The Aristo-Cat
Trap Happy Porky
Roughly Squeaking
House Hunting Mice
Mouse Wreckers
The Hypo-Chondri-Cat
Cheese Chasers


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21. Working Out the Kinks...

Well, lots to tell today.  First of all, I did a phone interview with the Santa Maria Sun last week (a local weekly paper) and it is in this week's issue!  Exciting stuff for me - you can check it out here.

Secondly, I was pretty frustrated with yesterday's progress - or lack thereof.  I didn't really have the time that's needed to spend on the strawberry girl, so I had to leave her in a pretty poor state - I hate to walk away from something without some degree of resolution.  Then, this morning we ended our history study of the Renaissance for the school year with a biography DVD on Michelangelo.  To see his amazing work and then go out to the garage to my mural was rather humbling as an artist.


Anyway, I am happy to say that I was able to solve - or at least improve - several issues on the strawberry panel today.  I fixed skin tones, proportions, and adjusted contrast (particularly the background wave vs. figure's skin tone).  I spent a lot of time trying to get her arms and hands in believable positions - grrrrrr. I worked on the flowers and strawberries, but there is work to be done there still - in this case, I need to tone down the contrast and have the seeds blend in a bit more.


One of my favorite details today is the hair - I gave her some curls and I like the color (I thought the strawberry girl should have red hair).

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22. DVD Review: “Adventure Time: The Complete First Season”

I’m a huge fan of Adventure Time – have been since I met Pen Ward at Frederator’s offices when he was making the pilot a few years ago. Knew it would be a hit then and am delighted with its success since. Probably the most imaginative (and funny) cartoon show currently running on TV. Just got the complete first season DVD set and its a total blast – and highly recommended. It’s more than just perfect copies of the first 26 cartoons (aka 13 episodes) – it’s got one of the wildest “Behind The Scenes” featurettes I’ve ever seen – it’s a film within a film, within a documentary within a parody (clip below is only a hint of its wonderful strangeness). There’s even a “Behind the Scenes of the Behind The Scenes” video that has Throup Von Orman running around in a mo-cap green screen ping-pong ball suit… well, you’ll have to see it to understand.

And heck yeah, its got extras: Commentaries by Pen Ward, John Dimaggio, Tom Kenny, George Takei and the rest of the cast and crew on several cartoons and animatics, bonus cartoons, music videos and promo films. Adventure Time has become an instant classic and is one of those series you want to collect (or at least, I know I do). Adventure Time: The Complete First Season goes on sale next Tuesday July 10th. Unsolicited plug = Highly recommended.


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23. Petite Feet: An Interview and DVD Giveaway!


Choreographer, performer, and dance educator Liz Vacco guest posted a few months ago about how she uses the picture book Silly Sally in her children's dance classes. Perhaps it's because of her strong background in theater, but Liz is no stranger to using storytelling in dance! Liz has even created a children's story of her own -- The Story of the Dancing Dolls -- and incorporated it into a new DVD called Petite Feet to teach the fundamentals of ballet to children. 

Well, Liz is back with us today to answer a few questions I had about using storytelling in dance -- both through picture books and through the Petite Feet DVD. Liz is also generously giving away a copy of the DVD to one lucky reader who comments on this post. Read to the end of the interview to find out the details!

Thanks so much for agreeing to an interview, Liz! For a little bit of background, how long have you been teaching dance for children? And how did you get started?

I’ve been teaching dance to children regularly for 11 years. I spent my first year after college in New York City waiting tables while pursuing my acting and dancing career. The restaurant where I worked was downtown and was affected by 9/11. After some time off while the restaurant was being rebuilt, I realized that I did not want to go back to waiting tables. I had reassessed my values and knew I wanted to share with children the very things that I love -- dance and theater.

How long have you been incorporating different types of stories into your classes?

From the beginning, I believe. Because of my training as an actor as well as a dancer, I have always been drawn to the expressive aspects of dance -- be that expressing a feeling or an entire narrative. I quickly saw that my young students were equally excited when the emphasis of class was on expression and storytelling. 

As we know, children make no secret about what their favorite things and activities are (and their least favorite, too), so I knew pretty quickly that I needed to include a story in class every week. Throughout a class, we still stretch and learn vocabulary and age-appropriate technique, but the students always know they will be rewarded with a story at the end.

What are the benefits of using picture books in your classes? 

Sometimes, as a teacher, it’s a lot to have a new story in your head every week. I’ve memorized a bunch of stories, and I’ve created a handful as well, but every so often it’s nice to have the words right there in front of me. I think having illustrations to reference makes it fun for the children as well. The process of taking in an image and then transferring it into their bodies is an important exercise and a first step toward becoming creators of art. It’s what I continue to do to this day when I create original work based on texts with my multimedia performance company Immediate Medium.

Any challenges to using picture books?

The biggest challenge is often just a question of coordination -- dancing while holding the book and not losing my place, and also maybe holding one of my little dancer’s hands at the same time!

Are you drawn to any picture books in particular? If so, what makes them special to you?  

I love to use From Head to Toe by Eric Carle at the beginning of the semester, especially with my littlest students. After years of teaching, sometimes I take for granted the fact that this could be a student’s very first experience in a movement class, or any class for that matter. From Head to Toe lets us take it slow and step by step, exploring each body part and its movement possibilities. By the end, we get up on our feet and really move through space, which is always a great finale. The always vibrant Eric Carle illustrations and animal imagery really help engage the children as well.

You mentioned that From Head to Toe is a great book for your littlest students. Do you think some picture books are better suited for your older students?

I teach children from 18 months to 12 years old. I think picture books are most effective with my students ages 2-5 years. Within that range, there are definitely certain books that are more appropriate for 2-year-olds than for 5-year-olds and vice versa. 

I love using From Head to Toe, We're Going on a Bear Huntand Mouse Paint for 2- and 3-year-olds. Silly Sally, which requires dancing backwards, and It Looked Like Spilt Milk are great for 4- and 5-year-olds. For dancers 6 and up, I tend to focus more on stories from the classical ballet canon (when it’s a ballet class, of course). Occasionally I show the students a photo from a ballet or an illustration inspired by the ballet before we choose roles and dance the story in a more drawn-out fashion.

Thanks for answering so many questions about picture books! To change the subject a little, how did you come up with the idea for the Petite Feet DVD?

I think after the tenth or so parent came up to me and said “You should really make a video of your ballet class,” I knew I couldn’t put it off any longer. Parents also often told me that when they videotaped open classes or recitals, their children would watch them over and over again at home. 

I wanted Petite Feet to be more interactive than just a still camera capturing a dance class or performance. I wanted it to include all the elements of one of my classes, and especially the story, but I wanted it to feel like the kids at home were as much a part of the class as the kids in the DVD. Making the DVD was a great opportunity for me to invent a new dance story as well -- and now I use The Story of the Dancing Dolls in my classes regularly.

How do you recommend the DVD be used? And by whom?

I think the DVD is great as an introduction to dance for brand new dancers, and it also can be a supplement for children who are already enrolled in dance classes. A lot of parents of my current students tell me that when they have to miss a class, they make up for it by using the DVD at home. 

I have also received feedback and occasionally photos from many families around the world who’ve purchased the DVD, and there are some stories that really warm my heart. One family in Japan lost their home in the tsunami but stayed to help rebuild. When they couldn’t find a class in the small town where they currently live, they bought the DVD and sent me such a grateful email. So I recommend that the DVD be used by anyone who feels inspired -- and the more the merrier, for sure!


Wow. That is a really incredible story, Liz. Thanks for much for sharing it. And thanks, also, for giving our readers a chance to win their very own copy of the DVD. 

If you'd like to enter the giveaway, all you have to do is leave a comment on this post telling us what role storytelling plays in your life or the lives of your children or students. The giveaway will close on Sunday, September 30, 2012, when we'll randomly pick a winner. Good luck!

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24. First Look: Looney Tunes Platinum Vol. 2

Unabashed Plug: Out next week is Vol. 2 of Warner Home Video’s Blu-ray cartoon collection, Looney Tunes Platinum Collection. I’m a little biased because I helped put together the set which includes fifty Warner Bros. cartoon classics, restored to pristine condition, now in glorious 1080p Blu-ray format – containing such masterpieces as A Wild Hare, Book Revue, You Ought To Be In Pictures, the complete Cecil Turtle trilogy, The Nasty Canasta collection, the Chuck Jones’ Bugs-Daffy-Elmer Hunting trilogy, the complete works of Beaky Buzzard, A. Flea and Tex Avery’s Art Deco classic Page Miss Glory. Not to mention a nifty 28-page color booklet (written by yours truly).

The complete contents are listed here. I just got my advance copy and can’t be more pleased about how it turned out, especially as it restores original titles to several films, and a lost ending gag to the seminal Hardaway-Dalton rabbit-hunting cartoon Hare-um Scare-um (1939). Pre-order it now – and yeah, it’s available on DVD (minus a bonus disc and several bonus features). Highly recommended!

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25. “Iron Man & Hulk: Heroes United” trailer

It’s not quite the Madhouse anime feature we posted about a few days ago, but you can’t say Marvel Animation Studios isn’t exploiting all opportunities and every style of animation in their forthcoming direct-to-video titles. Case in point: this just-released trailer for their next feature coming out on DVD, Blu-ray and digital download in April 2013: The Uncanny Iron Man and the ever-lovin’ Mo-Cappin’ Hulk.

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