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Results 26 - 50 of 794
26. Witness The Secret Life of Ice Cream Vans in “Gelato Go Home”


In their new short film, Gelato Go Home, animation directors Alasdair Brotherston & Jock Mooney shine some light on the lesser known subject of the seasonal migratory behavior of ice cream vans.

Featuring a score by James Orman and sound design by Fonic’s Barnaby Templer, the short was produced for Random Acts, the arts initiative of Channel 4, which commissions short-form creative works from both established artists and emerging talent. Gelato Go Home finds its inspiration from nature documentaries, Japanese animation and homages to animation classics like The Snowman.

“Although the film is based on a fairly absurd notion,” says Brotherston, “we really worked hard to give the film a proper sense of geography and logic to help make the ice cream vans and their journey more believable. We hope that grounding makes the film more engaging and ultimately uplifting.”

CREDITS
Directors: Alasdair Brotherston & Jock Mooney
Producer: Richard Barnett
Production Company: Trunk
3D Animation: Luca Paulli
2D Animation: Francisco Puerto Esteban, Layla Atkinson
Composer: James Orman
Sound Design & Mix: Barnaby Templer @ Fonic
Commissioner: Trunk animation in association with Lupus Films for Channel 4

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27. “Dumb Day” by Kevin Eskew

The Cartoon Brew Student Animation Festival is made possible by sponsor JibJab and their strong support for emerging filmmakers.


A nine-and-a-half-minute piece of experimental student animation is a daunting proposal on most days, but that’s not the case with Dumb Day by Kevin Eskew. The short, made at DePaul University’s fledgling animation program, is the most experimental film we’ve ever featured in Cartoon Brew’s Student Animation Festival, and it also might just be one of the most enjoyable.

Dumb Day is difficult to describe. The film uses a man’s everyday activities as its launchpad, just as Robert Breer’s classic A Man and His Dog Out for Air used a familiar activity as its starting point, but Dumb Day deconstructs and reconstucts daily trifles into a comically cosmic journey.

Its humor is even more difficult to address, but there are laugh-out loud moments throughout. One of my personal favorites appears at the 2:20 mark when a mysterious bulbous object drops down onto the screen. A second bulbous form promptly drops down, each with its own custom creaking sound. Then, a nose with two ridiculously oversized nostrils springs out between the bulbous objects, which we now recognize as cheeks. The nose sniffs the flower on a vase and promptly deflates like a balloon losing its air. The simple act of sniffing a flower has never been presented in such a transcendent manner in animation.

Eskew’s drawing style is fresh and different. It falls somewhere between the chunky comic late-Philip Guston style and certain schools of contemporary indie comics. His sound design is as surprising as the visuals, and the music and sound effects enhance every moment of this unique animated piece.

Continue reading for comments from the filmmaker Kevin Eskew:

THE IDEA

The film came together around the drawings. Originally, it had a more ambitious storyline that was part sci-fi part HGTV, something about a man who ate furniture and reassembled it inside himself. But as I started figuring out the drawings, what really worked well was the almost plotless stuff of simple domestic routines, drawn into a fury. That opened it up for me, but I think the feeling of the original story is still there.

TOOLBOX

Mostly BIC #2 mechanical pencils. It’s all hand-drawn, pencil on paper, scanned, and edited & composited in After Effects.

LESSONS LEARNED

Get the drawings in the computer sooner and into a rough timeline. I think I underestimated how much of any movie comes together in the process of editing. I didn’t use storyboards in any strict sense and instead let the details dictate the pacing—half straight-ahead, half pose-to-pose—which is kind of like building a house from the top down. Some my favorite images came up that way, unexpectedly, but it isn’t until you put these pieces together that you see the larger shape of the film emerge, as well as connections and ideas that you may have missed initially.

INSPIRATIONS

Some favorites are James Duesing, Jim Trainor, Atsushi Wada, Suzan Pitt and Sally Cruikshank. When I was first starting on the project, I had just bought a book of Pascal Doury’s comics that I was carrying around everywhere. Along the way, I listened to a couple Raymond Chandler audiobooks and a bunch of Joe Frank radio shows.

WHERE YOU SEE YOURSELF IN FIVE YEARS

Hopefully hunched over a lightbox somewhere, smoking a cigar. Tough to say, but I’d like to find a way to keep making short animations, preferably in collaboration with some likeminded ne’er-do-wells.

FILMMAKER WEBSITES

KevinEskew.org

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28. The Smurfs Return to Their 2D Roots in “The Legend of Smurfy Hollow”

Had enough of those new-fangled, three dimensional, CGI Smurfs? Well, Sony Pictures Animation probably had you in mind when they made a new Smurf “mini-movie” that mixes a few minutes of CG with a whole bunch of hand-drawn animation.

The Smurfs: The Legend of Smurfy Hollow is a Halloween tale directed by Stephan Franck (Iron Giant, Despicable Me) and produced by Mary Ellen Bauder (Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs, Hotel Transylvania).

Selected into official competition this year at the Annecy Film Festival, the story centers around Gutsy and Brainy Smurf:

When Brainy Smurf is favored to win the annual Smurfberry Hunt for the ninth year in a row, Gutsy Smurf sets out to discover how Brainy wins every year. Gutsy’s investigation takes him into spooky Smurfy Hollow-and right into Gargamel’s trap! Can Brainy and Gutsy, with the help of Smurfette, put aside their rivalry before Gargamel captures them-or worse, they come face-to-face with the legendary ghost, the Headless Horseman?

The Smurfs: The Legend of Smurfy Hollow, will feature the voice talents of Alan Cumming, Fred Armisen, Anton Yelchin and Hank Azaria, all of whom reprise their roles from The Smurfs 2. It will be available on DVD on September 10.

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29. “Sun of a Beach” by Natan Moura

The Cartoon Brew Student Animation Festival is made possible by JibJab and their strong support for emerging filmmakers.


Clocking in at a brisk eighty seconds, Sun of a Beach by Natan Moura is the shortest film debut in Cartoon Brew’s 2013 Student Animation Festival. Moura made the film as a graduation project at Sheridan College in Oakville, Canada.

Every year, we receive numerous student film entries that are under two minutes long, but few of these micro-shorts exhibit the storytelling and filmmaking discipline that accompanies Moura’s film. Moura understands the value of not just every second, but every frame in his film, and uses it to his advantage. He uses his precious amount of screentime to put together a complete film with a character who has an arc and a story that has a beginning, middle and end. Moura communicates his ideas with a fun, bold visual style that seamlessly combines computer animation and hand drawn techniques.

Continue reading for comments from the filmmaker:

THE IDEA

During the making of my film I came to think of it as a kind of tribute to my childhood. I moved from Brazil to Canada at a young age and being on a beach has always been a magical place for me. Over the years, playing with my two very young brothers has brought me back to my own childhood and shifted my focus to more playful and whimsical stories. Like most of my ideas, it came to me at three in the morning while doodling. The the final story eventually came together when I was able to spend time observing people on the beach while living in Los Angeles the following summer.

TOOLBOX

My film was a 2D and 3D hybrid done in Flash and Maya and composited in After Effects. I was interested in experimenting with a more graphic 3D aesthetic. I felt like a flatter environment made the story more playful by bringing the sun closer to the people on the beach. This was mostly achieved by using an almost orthographic perspective in Maya and eliminating 3D lighting all together. The lighting effects were done in After Effects where they wouldn’t ruin the flatness I was going for. I also animated the smaller characters in Flash to more easily control their design. The entire film came together as a single After Effects file with over 300 layers! How the program didn’t crash is beyond me.

LESSONS LEARNED

The most important thing I learned is how to edit a story into only the essentials. It’s not something I believe needs to be done for every story but it’s a worthy exercise. Some of the best structured stories I’ve seen are commercials, simply because they have to hold your attention and have no time for anything but the basics. When I completed my first animatic at three minutes it was clear that my idea only needed a minute and that every second had to be justified. I think it’s important to not only ask yourself how long a story needs to work effectively, but also how much of someone’s time your idea is really worth.

INSPIRATIONS

In the earlier stages of story development I rewatched the film Before Sunrise and was reminded how effective a sustained shot can be in bringing the viewer into a story. Many people I talked to discouraged me from this limitation but I thought it would add a sense of realism to my film and also help maintain a flat aesthetic. I really believe that picking limitations is the most liberating thing you can do creatively and it couldn’t have helped me more in this case. I later decided to add a single cut to emphasize the tipping point of the story.

WHERE YOU SEE YOURSELF IN FIVE YEARS

I enjoy animating first and foremost but this early in my career I still feel there is much exploring to be done. While filmmaking was originally what attracted me to animation I see a lot of potential in new alternate forms of storytelling. I’ve recently become interested in the interactive possibilities of stories primarily in games and apps. Working at JibJab over the past couple of months brought me closer to programmers for the first time which has inspired me to think of stories from a different perspective. Being able to experiment and problem solve is what keeps things exciting for me and I hope to always have that kind of flexibility. [EDITOR'S NOTE: When Moura's film was selected for inclusion in the festival, we were not aware that he had recently been hired by the festival's sponsor JibJab.]

FILMMAKER WEBSITES

Portfolio Website
Blog

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30. “Parametric Expression” by Mike Pelletier

Amsterdam-based digital artist Mike Pelletier describes his experimental piece Parametric Expression as “a series of ambient video loops exploring quantified emotion.” It might also be seen as the contemporary (and somewhat creepier) CGI equivalent of Bill Plympton’s Your Face. However you see the piece, it’s hard to look away from the jarring facial contortions on display.

(via Boing Boing)

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31. “Lady with Long Hair” by Barbara Bakos

Lady with Long Hair by Barbara Bakos is our third debut in Cartoon Brew’s 2013 Student Animation Festival. The graduation film was produced at the Moholy-Nagy University of Art and Design in Budapest, Hungary.

The film tells the story of an old woman who relives memories of her life contained within her hair. Bakos tackles the challenging concept using hand-drawn animation to create a sweet, memorable personality for her protagonist. The character is depicted as both frail with age and full of life and strength, which comes through especially when she bakes.

The film moves into expressionist territory with a visual analogy that ties together the flow of water with the woman’s long wavy hair. It builds to a particularly poignant ending that uses the hair to merge the character’s current reality with her memories.

Technically, the film is impeccable, with an eye for detail in every aspect of the art direction. Bakos applies color elegantly to distinguish between her characters’ present and past. She also unveils the story with cinematic language and uses the hair as a striking compositional element in numerous scenes.

Continue reading for comments from the filmmaker:

THE IDEA

The idea of the film came from my family and from my own grandma. When I was a child, I spent most of the time with my grandparents because I never wanted to go to the kindergarten. So I had a lot of lovely memories and adventures with them. We would sit in the backyard playing with little fingerpuppets, painting, and baking cherry pies together, and I was always amazed at how much my grandparents loved each other. Since my grandpa passed away, my grandma lives alone. Her personality, her feelings, memories and her point of view inspired me to make this short film about her lifelong love, and about that state of mind where you just can’t let go of the most important person in your life.

I have also a strange obsession with the hair. A few years ago it became my obsession to draw skyhigh hair and create little worlds in them depending on the characters it belonged to. I always think that hair is one of the most characteristic things about a person. How she/he styles it, or what colour it is. So when I started to develop this short film, I felt that I had to connect these two things.

TOOLBOX

It’s a traditionally hand-drawn animated film. I chose this technique because of the tactile nature of the medium, and I thought this was the best way to create a connection with the audience. During the whole film we are focusing on one granny. She has to tell us her past and her memories through her facial expressions rather than dialogue. Also I was using traditionally painted backgrounds and props. I then put together the final picture in After Effects.

CHALLENGES

It was the first time that I had to inspire and lead a lot of people at the same time—animators, editor, music composer, actress, 3D artist. It was also very useful to learn how to convince them that your idea is good, unique and worth the hard work! But the biggest challenge was to present the idea to my family and my grandma. It was an amazing moment when I saw my grandma’s face while she was watching the film.

INSPIRATIONS

Storywise and also visually, I was inspired by a lot of short films. I was most impressed by The Man with Beautiful Eyes from Jonathan Hodgson and Charles Bukowski, Father and Daughter from Michael Dudok de Wit, Sunday from Patrick Doyon and La Maison en Petits Cubes from Kunio Katō. I love stories that are based on childhood, and not just childhood, but how we remember those times—how memories are working if for instance, you go back to the same place where you grew up or spent summers. What kind of thoughts appear in your mind when you sense a familiar smell or the light is exactly the same as on an autumn afternoon decades ago.

WHERE YOU SEE YOURSELF IN FIVE YEARS

Right now, I am a freelancer art director and illustrator, which I really love. At the same time I would love to work in a big team where people can inspire each other. Also I am developing a new short at the moment so I really hope that five years from now it will be finished ☺

FILMMAKER WEBSITES

Personal website: BarbaraBakos.com




The Cartoon Brew Student Animation Festival is made possible by the generosity of our presenting sponsor JibJab.

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32. “Our Son” by Eric Ko

This morning we continue Cartoon Brew’s Student Animation Festival with the online debut of Eric Ko’s Our Son (우리 아들) which is a graduation short produced at the Rhode Island School of Design.

Notably, Eric’s short marks the second time he’s been selected for our festival; his junior year film Troubleshooting was featured in last year’s festival. Our Son is an evolution of his distinctively spare geometric language while reaching new heights of filmmaking ambition and confidence.

Ko is fascinated with the idea of speed in this film, and he skillfully manipulates the cinematic space to create a fast-paced and exciting animation thrill ride. The driving percussion-oriented soundtrack lends to the sense of urgency. The film flirts with abstraction, but remains grounded in a narrative universe that is both resistant to (and demanding of) interpretation by the viewer.

Continue reading for comments from the filmmaker:

THE IDEA

The transition from carefree irresponsibility to reality is often instantaneous. Based off of a few precious memories of growing up with a best friend in a place that offered very little and the relationship I have with my heritage, I wanted to work on a film that took me on an adventure during its creation, with hopes that it would take the viewer on one as well.

TOOLBOX

I used Flash and a tablet to animate. For the music and sound design I worked in Ableton Live.

CHALLENGES & LESSONS LEARNED

I wanted to make a film that embodied impulsive, frantic adventures; with that said, having a storyboard seemed to be an ill limitation. At first I had plenty of boards drawn up and ideas down on paper, but after the first few seconds of animating I threw it all out. All I had left were the bigger ideas that I kept in the back of my head as I worked. At a certain point I was simply putting one image in front of the other without knowing what came next, which was fun for me. Once something stopped being fun, I stopped and changed it. I think realizing to make sure I had fun was the most important thing.

INSPIRATIONS

I looked up to independent animators such as Lei Lei and Misaki Uwabo. I did some really basic research on Korean culture; I think my vague understanding of my own heritage and the disjointed humor I get from it particularly inspired me. Also, retro side-scrolling spaceship games such as Gradius interests me a lot, where a lot of strange visual motifs went unquestioned because it’s an arcade game. While animating I listened to a lot of Louis CK interviews for laughs and really loved his attitude about creative freedom. Echo Park by Willamette was my favorite album to listen to.

WHERE YOU SEE YOURSELF IN FIVE YEARS

Making more short films!

FILMMAKER WEBSITES

Personal website: Crybird.net
Vimeo page: Vimeo.com/EricKo




The Cartoon Brew Student Animation Festival is made possible by the generosity of our presenting sponsor JibJab.

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33. LOST FILMS: “Sailor and the Devil” by Errol Le Cain

I’ve wanted to watch Errol Le Cain’s Sailor and the Devil ever since I saw these stills on Hans Bacher’s website a few years ago. Animation research Garrett Gilchrist recently unearthed a copy, which although incomplete and poor quality, offers a tantalizing glimpse of this masterful short.

Le Cain made Sailor and the Devil in 1966 while working at Richard Williams’ studio in London. He had been working there for only a year when Williams invited him to direct the film under his supervision. Williams explained the idea behind the project in a documentary: “[Le Cain is] doing everything so he’s getting ten years’ experience in one, and we get a film.”

The results are refreshingly original. Le Cain invents an idiosyncratic style of movement that combines jittery bursts of motion with pleasing dance cycles. When the storm arrives in the film or the skeleton wave threatens to overwhelm the sailor, we encounter a world of pure graphic art. Le Cain uses the full range of color, movement, design, and cinematic devices to create an exciting universe that could exist nowhere but in an animated film.

Le Cain made significant contributions to the production design of The Thief and the Cobbler, and afterward became a well known children’s book illustator. He died in 1989 at the age of 47.

Among the many projects he did with Richard Williams, Le Cain designed these titles for The Liquidator (1965):

There’s a clip of Le Cain and Williams working on Sailor in this documentary from 1966:

(via Michael Sporn)

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34. “Van Gogh Shadow” by Luca Agnani

This curious experiment by Luca Agnani adds movement and lighting effects to thirteen paintings by Vincent van Gogh. You can judge for yourself whether it’s an improvement on van Gogh’s originals.

(via Laughing Squid)

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35. Michel Gagné Speaks About His New Short “The Saga of Rex”

Michel Gagné’s

(An American Tail, The Iron Giant, Osmosis Jones, Ratatouille) short film The Saga of Rex was released on YouTube this week, adapted from his graphic novel of the same name, the film follows the daring cosmic adventure of a clever fox that has been abducted to the arcane planet of Edernia.

Originally published as a serialized story in volumes 2 through 7 of the comic anthology Flight, it was then repackaged as a trade paperback by Image Comics in 2010. The 4-minute short was funded by raising over $57,000 on Kickstarter last year and is to be the first installment of a classically drawn independent animated feature film that Gagné is planning. “I would like to believe that there are still some people out there who want to see good old 2D classical animation being done,” Gagné told Cartoon Brew. “I know that my big donors love this type of animation and want to see it continue. We can’t rely on the big studios to keep the art of 2D full-animation going, so it’s up to us.”

His 1995 film Prelude to Eden was created using the now defunct 2D animation software Animo, which had remained his “go-to” production software up until 2012 when he began looking for an update. He gave Toon Boom a try and was pleased with the results. “I quickly realized that I’d just upgraded my old Model T Ford for a car of the year.” So, with Toon Boom in hand, along with Photoshop, After Affects and Premiere, Gagné set out to see just how much progress could be made adapting The Saga of Rex for the screen. “I wanted to test my limits and see what I could do single-handedly in a set period of time. What you see here is about six and a half months of work.”

The short, which is subtitled The Animated Film Project Pt. 1 – Abduction is animated in pantomime, which is Gagné’s intention for the entire film. “I’ve toyed with the idea of adding narration to the film, but then again, I realized it would take away some of the mystery,” he said. “In a way, I’m not sure I want people to fully understand what is going on. I want them to ask questions and create their own meaning.”

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36. “Back In The Day” by Rok Predin

Rok Predin‘s Back in the Day is a nostalgic ode to childhood based on his memories of growing up in 1980s Slovenia. The project was funded by Predin’s employer, London-based Trunk Animation, who allowed him two months of studio time to work exclusively on the film.

“It was wonderful to just dive into this project with no constraints and expectations and just enjoy exploring and playing with the software,” said Predin. “As the animatic had already set the rhythm, flow and pace for the film, the two months I had were spent like a painter enjoying the creative process, and like a ‘one man band’ I loved exploring all the various aspects of the films production, from modelling to compositing and editing the final shots together.”

The making-of video below shows Predin’s shot breakdowns, which required up to eight passes for a single shot. To achieve the quirky movement of his characters, Predin ignored standard rigging and instead coded custom slider-driven puppet controls for the characters using Cinema 4D’s Xpresso language.

CREDITS
Film: Rok Predin
Producer: Richard Barnett
Music: Ivan Arnold
Guitars and bass: Zvonimir Domazet
Sound : @Fonic
Foley editor: Christopher Swaine
Sound editor: Marty O’Brien
Mixed by: Jim Finch

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37. “Brain Divided” by Josiah Haworth, Joon Shik Song & Joon Soo Song

Welcome to the fourth annual Cartoon Brew Student Animation Festival. Every Monday morning for the next eight weeks we’ll be debuting one of these remarkable student animated shorts selected from among hundreds of submissions.

We begin the festival today with our Grand Prize winner, Brain Divided, a film directed by Josiah Haworth, Joon Shik Song and Joon Soo Song at Ringling College of Art and Design. The film, which will receive a cash prize of $1,000(US), was selected for the top award by this year’s guest judge Evan Spiridellis of JibJab. Cartoon Brew would also like to thank JibJab for their sponsorship of this festival. Their strong support for student filmmakers makes this event possible.

Brain Divided succeeds on every level as an animated short. The filmmmakers’ command of both animation and technology is flawless. But the value of their film lies in how they apply their technical skills toward making an entertaining and funny film. They take advantage of every opportunity for visual humor and delight us with sharply timed gags. The personalities in the film are especially well defined: the two human characters strike just the right balance of comedy and believability, while the two sides of the brain have a satisfying evolution as characters within the span of the film.

Continue reading for comments from the filmmakers:

THE IDEA

The dating game is one of the most nerve wracking experiences that anyone can go through. So we thought that this would be a great story to pursue. The original concept started off as two guys attempting to impress a beautiful Disney Princess-esque girl, but it lacked character, fun, and a more dynamic relationship between the two main characters. One day while surfing the web and brainstorming we were inspired after seeing an animation clip of the classic angel vs. devil on the shoulder complex. we instantly thought of Kronk in The Emperor’s New Groove. Watching the interactions of his shoulder angel and devil was always hilarious and we wanted to try and recreate that comedy in our own film. However, we knew that the this concept has been done a lot in the past so we wanted to put our own spin on it. This led us to come up with the idea that the “Angel” and “Demon” were actually the “Left” and “Right” side of the brain fighting for control. We thought it would be great to literally go inside the head and see the physical battle that ensues within the mind and its effect on our main character. This gave us everything we wanted, a fun and simple story, with a broad range of character animation that we could play with.

TOOLBOX

All animation and lighting was done in Autodesk Maya 2013 using the Renderman plugin using linear workflow. All four of our characters were rigged using The Setup Machine (TSM) with some modifications, thanks to Jeremy Cantor, that allowed us to get a bit more versatility. Post processing, compositing, and effects were done in NukeX and edited together using Adobe Premiere. Adobe Photoshop allowed us to tweak individual frames as well as test lighting ideas. All of the software and powerful HP workstations that we used were provided by Ringling, as was use of the school’s powerful render farm.

CHALLENGES

One of the biggest challenges was writing and creating good comedy while making the story flow and work seamlessly. Because our piece was strongly dialogue driven, we needed to write a script that was witty, charming and real. It was very difficult because we had no prior experience in screenplay at all. It was a lot of trial and error while simultaneously coming up with fun slapstick comedy, and juggling the variety of characters that we had. It really pushed our storytelling abilities and writing capabilities to another level. Also, our film was one of the longest to come out of Ringling and keeping it all organized and on time was a huge undertaking. We had approximately 90+ shots to animate and light, split up between the three of us. But to make the films visuals work better we had to learn how to use Nuke, and before the final semester of school we had never used it. Juggling thirty shots each while learning new software gave us our fair share of sleepless nights.

LESSONS LEARNED

The most important things we learned from our film was how to streamline story and to trust in your team. Often times shots ran too long or were too complicated and we found that they read much better when they were simplified. This may mean taking out an unnecessary pose or changing the acting entirely. But making these changes helped create a well paced film that had all the entertainment and character we wanted. Even though we had never worked on a team at Ringling before, we entered this film with the confidence we could get it done and hopefully make it funny. Although creating the film was extremely difficult and stressful, through trust, constant communication, and with the help of a 24 hour Denny’s we learned how vital teamwork is to completing a film.

INSPIRATIONS

We drew a huge inspiration from actors such as Jim Carrey from The Mask and Eddie Murphy from Doctor Dolittle as well as animated characters like Pepe Le Pew and Kronk from The Emperor’s New Groove. All of them had elements that we loved to watch and wished to emulate in our film. A lot of inspiration also came from the students around us and the incredible work they were doing on their films. It was a real driving force that motivated us to make our film the best it could be. Our faculty was equally inspiring and provided us with an enormous amount of feedback and great advice.

WHERE YOU SEE YOURSELF IN FIVE YEARS

Josiah Haworth: My goal is to be doing character animation for a major studio or an up and coming studio. Of course Disney, ReelFX, and Bluesky are high on that list! Just give me a mouse, Maya, and a project and I’m good to go!

Joon Soo Song: I want to be animating. I’d love to work at Disney, Dreamworks, Pixar, Blue Sky, Blizzard, Blur, Laika, ReelFX, Insomniac, and the list goes on. As long as I’m animating I’ll be happy.

Joon Shik Song: I want to be at Disney working my way towards directing or animation supervisor. If I’m lucky I’ll be hanging out with Mickey Mouse talking about our next feature film. It’ll be just like the good old days at Ringling, late nights and coffee breaks :)

FILMMAKER WEBSITES

Josiah Haworth: Personal website and Animation Reel

Joon Soo Song: Animation Reel

Joon Shik Song: Animation Reel

Brain Divided Facebook Page




The Cartoon Brew Student Animation Festival is made possible by the generosity of our presenting sponsor JibJab.

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38. “Altneuland” by Sariel Keslasi

Altneuland (Old New Land) is a 2012 graduation film directed by Sariel Keslasi at Bezalel Academy of Arts and Design in Jerusalem. In the film, Keslasi re-interprets Theodor Herzl’s 110-year-old utopian novel Altneuland through contemporary eyes. He writes:

By using a surrealist allegory, the film tries to deal with the collapse of Herzl’s dream and seeks to emphasize the sense of absurdity and instability of my personal experience as an individual in the Israeli society.

I met the thoughtful Keslasi a few months ago at the Anifilm festival in the Czech Republic, where his film was in competition. Altneuland also was in competition at Annecy last month. Keslasi’s strong art direction and his cinematic eye for staging and cutting has already landed him work in the Israeli animation scene, where he recently worked on Ari Folman’s feature The Congress.

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39. “Little Witch Academia” Hit Its Kickstarter Goal in Under 6 Hours

Crowdfunding has yet to prove itself as a reliable source of funding for new animation concepts, but filmmakers who have a well established style or who want to fund an existing property are continuing to find success. The latest major beneficiary of a Kickstarter campaign is the young Japanese animation studio Trigger, which is using Kickstarter to fund the next installment of its animated property Little Witch Academia, created and directed by Yoh Yoshinari. This spring, they released the first Little Witch Academia short with English subtitles on YouTube, where it has gathered nearly 800,000 views:

Their second Little Witch Academia short was to have been 20 minutes long, but they started a Kickstarter asking for $150,000 to expand the episode by 15 minutes. They achieved that goal in under six hours. After three days, the total raised is $348,789 from 4,487 backers, and there are still 27 days left in the campaign. If they hit their new stretch goal of $500,000, they will release an audio commentary, a ‘making of’ documentary, soundtrack and art book.

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40. “Crow’s Nest” by Robert Milne

London-based commercial animator Robert Milne tells a fine story in just over sixty seconds. Milne’s knowledge of traditional animation—he worked on films like Balto, The Prince of Egypt and Road to El Dorado–is put to good use on the crows whose movements and thoughts are communicated elegantly without need for any dialogue.

CREDITS
Pictures: Robert Milne
Sound: George Demure
Composition: Luke Carpenter

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41. “Losing Nemo” Uses Animation to Warn of Overfishing

Aside from its cheeky title, there is little to smile at in Losing Nemo, a grim short that warns about industrial overfishing and the accelerating loss of aquatic biodiversity which could lead to oceans that are largely empty of marine life within the next fifty years.

The film was directed and written by Dutch filmmaker Douwe van der Werf in collaboration with Black Fish, a marine conservation movement. It was produced by an international crew of over thirty people who did the work pro bono over the course of five months. The filmmakers have a Tumblr to share art from the film’s production as well as a website that fact-checks the issues discussed in the film.

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42. BAFTA-Winning “The Making of Longbird” Is Now Online

Will Anderson directed and animated The Making of Longbird as his graduation film at the Edinburgh College of Art. The fifteen-minute mockumentary-style short about a forgotten Russian cartoon character from 1911 was a hit on the festival circuit and culminated its run by winning the 2013 BAFTA, the British equivalent of the Academy Awards. One of Anderson’s writing collaborators on Longbird was Ainslie Henderson, whose own short I am Tom Moody has been a similarly big hit on the film festival circuit.

(via Short of the Week)

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43. “Neighborhood Watch” by Mike Carlo

Mike Carlo’s new short Neighborhood Watch premiered last Friday at the Midsummer Night Toons screening in Manhattan. There is no question that Carlo, who directed the animation on the second and third seasons of Superjail! at Titmouse East, knows how to put together a slick cartoon that looks as good as anything on TV. He’d be unstoppable if he collaborated with a writing partner to create characters and stories as polished as his animation.

CREDITS
Written and directed by Mike Carlo
Backgrounds and color desgn by Elliott Byrne
Music and sound design by Joseph Spallina

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44. Cartoon Brew Reveals Lineup For Its 2013 Student Animation Festival

For the fourth year in a row, we are delighted to present the Cartoon Brew Student Animation Festival, the premier online showcase for animated short premieres by student filmmakers.

Our 2013 festival offers one of the strongest and most dynamic slates of short films since we launched the festival. Chosen from a record-breaking 266 film submissions, the eight films in this year’s festival represent a remarkably high level of creative vision and filmmaking skill. The films selected were made by adventurous filmmakers who show a commitment to exploring the narrative and visual possibilities of the animation art form, and whose ideas and concepts are fully realized.

More quality student work was submitted than ever before. In fact, half of the films in this year’s festival are from schools that haven’t been in the festival during its first three years—Moholy-Nagy University of Art and Design, DePaul University, University of Southern California and Massachusetts College of Art and Design. On the other hand, Eric Ko is the first filmmaker who has been selected twice for the festival; his junior film Troubleshooting was a part of our festival last year.

Each of the eight filmmakers whose work is featured in this year’s festival will receive a cash award of $500 (US), thanks to the generosity of our festival sponsor JibJab. Further, Evan Spiridellis, the co-founder of JibJab, will select one additional film to receive the Grand Prize and an extra $500, for a cash prize totalling $1,000 US.

The festival will debut on Monday, July 8th, and a new film will be presented every week throughout July and August. And now, we proudly present the 2013 class of Cartoon Brew’s Student Animation Festival:


Lady with Long Hair
Directed by Barbara Bakos
School: Moholy-Nagy University of Art and Design (Hungary)
Synopsis: An old lady relives memories of her life contained within her hair.
Running time: 8 min 45 s


Sun of a Beach
Directed by Natan Moura
School: Sheridan College (Canada)
Synopsis: Shunned for shining a little too brightly, the poor sun feels alone in its search to connect and be wanted.
Running time: 1 min 20 s


Dumb Day
Directed by Kevin Eskew


School: DePaul University (USA)
Synopsis: Flower sniffing, carpet calisthenics, and other restless leisure-time activities. Domestic life can be tough. Finally, the day breaks.
Running time: 9 min 30 s


Brain Divided
Directed by Josiah Haworth, Joon Shik Song and Joon Soo Song
School: Ringling College of Art and Design (USA)
Synopsis: The story about an ordinary guy who meets a not so ordinary girl, but his brain cells can’t agree on how to go about winning her over, which leads to Conflict!
Running time: 5 min


Our Son (우리 아들)
Directed by Eric Ko
School: Rhode Island School of Design (USA)
Synposis: Celestial bodies and the fragility of happiness.
Running time: 4 min 30 s


i
Directed by Isabela Dos Santos
School: California Institute of the Arts (USA)
Synopsis: Hand-drawn animation and dance performance intersect and interact in this short piece that deals with a well-known question: Who am I?
Running time: 3 min 35s


Wolf Within
Directed by Alex Horan
School: Massachusetts College of Art and Design (USA)
Synopsis: A father prepares his son for a world without him.
Running time: 9 min 35 s


Passer Passer
Directed by Louis Morton
School: University of Southern California (USA)
Synopsis: An animated city symphony celebrates the hidden world of background noise. Field recordings from the streets of Los Angeles and Tokyo drive imagined characters and cycles that build to form a living musical creature.
Running time: 3 min 47 s

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45. Artist of the Day: Madeline Sharafian

Madeline Sharafian

Madeline Sharafian recently completed her second year studying animation at CalArts where she made the film Omelette:

Madeline Sharafian

Madeline Sharafian

In these drawings, Madeline sketches out simple, rough lines and varying values to frame her characters in an accomplished way.

Madeline Sharafian

Madeline Sharafian

See more of Madeline’s work on her blog and Tumblr.

Madeline Sharafian

Madeline Sharafian

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46. Watch a New Mickey Mouse and Donald Duck Short “No Service”

A second new Mickey Mouse short, No Service, has been made viewable (for American viewers) on Disney’s website. This short is night and day from the first one they made public, Croissant de Triomphe. It has a solid setup, fast-paced but clear direction, character-driven conflict and gags, and most importantly, it’s funny.

A couple weaknesses stood out. As with nearly every other contemporary cartoon, the short is padded with unnecessary dialogue. What does the audience gain from hearing Donald Duck say, “That’s not funny,” after we already see him fuming from being dissed by Mickey? The bigger issue is the backgrounds. As lovely as they are as illustrations, they don’t fulfill their primary purpose for the shorts, which is to stage the characters and gags. There are random background textures and details that distracted from the main action in nearly every scene. The backgrounds even obscured the jokes. For example, there’s a gag with Mickey’s tail in the framegrab below that I completely missed on the first couple viewings because of the random dark shadow area placed exactly where the gag takes place:

I don’t know the production order of the shorts, but No Service is a huge improvement over the first offering. These could end up being some of the funnier takes on classic cartoon characters, and I’m looking forward to seeing the rest of the series.

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47. “Out on the Tiles” by Anna Pearson

Anna Pearson directed Out on the Tiles as a graduation film in 2010 at Edinburgh College of Art. The film evokes a surprising amount of pathos for its small-scale drama. Credit that to the finely observed personality animation. I could feel the character’s blurry and impaired thought process behind every action on screen.

(via Stop Motion Portugal)

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48. An Interview with “Junkyard” Director Hisko Hulsing

My introduction to the work of Dutch filmmaker Hisko Hulsing happend in 2004 when I saw his nightmarish short Seventeen at Annecy. It took another eight years before Hulsing released a new short, Junkyard. His new film captures gritty urban realism in ways that have rarely been attempted before in animation. The film has racked up awards at festivals around the world, including grand prizes at the Ottawa and Holland animation festivals, and an audience award at Stuttgart. Hisko just returned from Shanghai where he won the Magnolia Award, a top Chinese film honor. This where we began our conversation.

Cartoon Brew: You’re a big deal in China where you just won the Magnolia Award at the Shanghai Television Festival. What’s that all about?

Hisko Hulsing:I was very surprised that Junkyard was even nominated for the award because I watched some clips on YouTube and it looked like a typical light, Oscar-like television event. I didn’t see how my dark film would fit in there.

I was flown to Shanghai where I was given a private driver and an interpreter for 5 days, which I didn’t use after the first day, because it made me nervous. They gave me a room on the 30th story of a posh hotel. The Shanghai Television Festival is related to the star-filled Shanghai Film Festival, that also screened Junkyard.

The award ceremony itself was a huge red carpet event with screaming fans and photographers. The live television broadcast was being watched by 350 million Chinese people, but I assume that the animation section might have been a small zap-moment for a couple of million. Of course I couldn’t understand a word of what was being said, but when they announced me, my interpreter whispered in my ear, “I think it is your film.” So I walked on the stage to the wrong person who sent me over to three beautiful girls with golden statues in their hands, and I gripped one of them out of their hands. I didn’t have any idea what to do, because I couldn’t understand a word. It turned out to be the wrong award because I actually won the Grand Prize for animation. Yaaay! Afterward we had a nice party.

Cartoon Brew: Well, I’m glad to hear that the Chinese recognize your film because I was dismayed that Junkyard wasn’t nominated for an Oscar last year. But then, when you see the animated shorts that were nominated, you realize that the Academy isn’t interested in promoting animation that pushes the boundaries of storytelling. Any animated film that doesn’t have a simple linear narrative or makes the viewer uncomfortable emotionally is instantly discarded, which could explain why films like Joseph Pierce’s The Pub, Don Hertzfeldt’s It’s Such a Beautiful Day, and Emma de Swaef and Marc James Roels’ Oh Willy were overlooked last year. Do you think it’s important for institutions like the Academy to recognize more complex themes, like those explored in Junkyard or is it not important how your work is received by them?

Hisko Hulsing: It was important for me and I was disappointed, too. I have to say that I didn’t understand their selections for the shortlist. Some of them were great, but there were some very weak ones. I guess that a lot of Academy members come from a mainstream environment and that might be their taste too. To me, an Oscar Nomination mainly means something because it generates more media attention than all awards together and because the Academy members are professional and skilled. But there’s a huge discrepancy between the films that are popular at festivals and the Academy Awards. Junkyard has won more than fifteen awards now, including the Grand Prize in Ottawa and the Audience Award in Stuttgart. Oh Willy has won more than sixty awards. Neither of them even got  on the shortlist of the Academy. It might have been the darkness of my film and the weirdness of Oh Willy. Maybe.

Cartoon Brew: Let’s talk about the darkness of your films. Hallucinations and dream states have played a role in all of your films so far—Harry Rents a Room, Seventeen and Junkyard. You’ve mentioned before in interviews that you did drugs when you were younger. Are these two things related? 

Hisko Hulsing: Yes, I think so. I started smoking pot when I was twelve years old, maybe once a week. But when I reached the age of fifteen, I smoked on a daily basis, sometimes as early as ten in the morning, which got me kicked out of school since I wasn’t doing anything anymore, apart from attending drawing lessons and philosophy classes. The latter interested me enormously, but the marijuana really stopped my brain from functioning rationally, so philosophy just confused me more than I already was.  The only thing that might have been good about that period is that other parts of my mind became more active. It was as if the marijuana made me see the world with completely other eyes, and I did have hallucinations.

Cartoon Brew: Hallucinations?

Hisko Hulsing: All perception is actually a construct of the brain. Even when not hallucinating or dreaming, the brain constructs the image that we are seeing based on the wavelength of the light that enters our retina. That’s then converted into electrical signals which are translated into moving images that hold meaning for us. Drugs can confuse the system and make people see things that aren’t there. My hallucinations were never very strong, but I could see whole abstract animated films when I closed my eyes, the sort of films that would normally bore the hell out of me. But since I was creating them in my mind it gave a strange sense of control, as if I was creating the world that I was living in.

I believe that all animators, painters and drawers have this ability to almost see things that aren’t there. We are constructing characters all the time before we draw them. We have to be able to see them from all sides. We have these advanced 3D environments in our heads and the ability to draw them.  Anyhow, when I was 17, I was on the verge of psychosis. I remember that I started to think that I had telepathic contact with doves and that I was being watched by invisible entities. I stopped smoking marijuana when I was SEVENTEEN, the best decision of my life. If I would have continued, I would never have been able to become the filmmaker that I am. I would probably be stuck in a mental institution. I’m perfectly fine now, thank you.

Cartoon Brew: You wrote and storyboarded Junkyard, animated most of the film, painted the backgrounds and scored and orchestrated the music—what part of the process did you enjoy the most?

Hisko Hulsing: That’s an easy one. I LOVE to paint. Especially with oils as I did with Junkyard. Painting comes relatively easy to me, and it stays interesting most of the time. It’s an organic process and it can be very much like meditating. I used to like animating, but it is very hard and there are tedious moments—cleaning, tracing etc. There are phases in composing and orchestrating the music that I like, but it’s one of the hardest parts for me. I have a very clear idea of what the music should be in relation to storytelling, tension and dramaturgy, but I also like film music to be real music. I don’t like the kind of wallpaper film music that is now being produced in Hollywood on the assembly line. 

Coming up with a melody and harmony is not very hard for me. The hard part is the thin line between being good music and serving the film. My wife, Carmen Eberz, is a professional violinist. She corrects my scores and also put the magnificent orchestra together. She is very honest about what she thinks so I listen to her and to other people who understand music, like my brother, Milan, who is a cartoonist, illustrator and record dealer.

Cartoon Brew: What part of the process did you enjoy the least?

Hisko Hulsing: The absolute most boring thing about making Junkyard was to paint the shadows on the characters. [Watch a demo of the shadow painting process on Hisko's website.] With Seventeen, I used flat shadows and did it quickly. With Junkyard,I painted them digitally on top of the flatly colored characters in TVPaint, in all kinds of tones that had to be consistent. I used a watercolor brush that I designed myself. It took me two whole years of extremely boring, but hard work. I found out that I couldn’t really delegate this part because in a way it was really painting. I wanted to make sure that the characters would fit in with the painted backgrounds.

Cartoon Brew: Why did you make he aesthetic choice to do something so time-consuming? Your other films are more expressionistic, and when I first saw Junkyard, I was surprised that you chose such a tight graphic look. Did you feel this was necessary from a story standpoint? 

Hisko Hulsing: I chose a realistic but slightly rough oil painted look because the story itself is rough and realistic. I like to have style and subject talk the same language. I would hate to have a polished style for a subject matter like this, but it also had to be a convincing world, so it shouldn’t be  too rough. Because the backgrounds were so realistic, I was forced to make sure that the characters would fit in completely, and I think that worked pretty well. It is beautiful and grim at the same time which really was my purpose.

Cartoon Brew: Two years is a long time just to paint shadows. I know Junkyard had some funding, but how can you support yourself and your family financially for such a long period of time while working on a single film?

Hisko Hulsing: Junkyard had a budget that most American independent animators can only dream of: $250,000 for an eighteen-minute film. [The producers on the film were Il Luster Productions and Cinété Productions.] Still, it was definitely not enough to support me because I worked on it for more than six years and other people had to be paid to for long periods of time. The way I fill the financial gaps is by making storyboards for films and commercials one day a week, approximately. It pays very well, so one day a week is enough. I also did other illustration and animation work inbetween.

Cartoon Brew: Each of your films has increased in visual complexity, cinematic ambition and production time. How do you plan to follow this up?

Hisko Hulsing: While I was painting those shadows, I listened to hundreds of TED talks and other lectures on the Internet, so I became really smart. Well, not really. But it did influence the themes for my new film, which will probably be a philosophical sci-fi film.

Cartoon Brew: That doesn’t sound like typical animation material.

Hisko Hulsing: I’m not completely sure yet what it will be, but the thing that really bugs me is that so many people nowadays are still religious in an age where there is so much real knowledge about our universe. I imagine that life elsewhere in the universe might have evolved for a much longer period.

Human beings sort of came into existence one hundred thousand years ago, but the universe is approximately 13.7 billion years old. If you see how fast our technological and scientific evolution has been in comparison to our biological evolution—5000 years of science versus 4.6 billion years of biological evolution—it is not hard to imagine that an alien life whcih has had a technological evolution of a million more years may have qualities that might be unimaginable to us, and may seem God-like to us. So how would humanity react to such an encounter? Probably in a religious way. These are some of the themes I am playing with.

I haven’t put any real hard work into it yet, because right now I’m busy painting eighty oil backgrounds for The Last Hijack by Tommy Pallotta (Waking Life, A Scanner Darkly) and Femke Wolting.

Cartoon Brew: What do you still want to accomplish as an animation filmmaker that you haven’t done in your first three films?

Hisko Hulsing: My first three films were all partly autobiographical. But I want to move on to more intelligent subject matter while also trying to reach a larger audience. That might be a difficult combination. As far as technique goes, I love the oil paint look of Junkyard, but the animation process was too elaborate and boring, especially for the main animator Stefan Vermeulen. So I have to find ways to make it more fun to make.  Also I want to work faster with a larger team, while still maintaining the same quality. The technique will probably be dictated by the script and the budget. I’m also learning how to take advantage of the unique talents of the people I work with. I will have to try to be less of a control freak. But that’s what I say every time so we’ll see what happens.

Cartoon Brew: Will you be releasing Junkyard online at any point? And how can people see the film right now besides festivals?

Hisko Hulsing: Junkyard is sometimes shown on television, but I don’t think it has been sold in the USA yet. I’m not sure about online. I love Spotify, and I hope that Netflix, which is coming to Europe too, is comparable to that. My problem with putting it up on Vimeo, is that most people watch Youtube and Vimeo clips inbetween their work. That’s why cats and pussies are so popular. Short little silly things. I’m afraid that people will not watch a eighteen-minute dark film that way. So I would like to wait for a more serious structure.

The DVD can be ordered at this website for 10 euro plus shipping costs. It’s a beautiful DVD with lots of extras like the moving storyboard, complete soundtrack, and line tests.

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49. An Interview with “Junkyard” Director Hisko Hulsing

My introduction to the work of Dutch filmmaker Hisko Hulsing happend in 2004 when I saw his nightmarish short Seventeen at Annecy. It took another eight years before Hulsing released a new short, Junkyard. His new film captures gritty urban realism in ways that have rarely been attempted before in animation. The film has racked up awards at festivals around the world, including grand prizes at the Ottawa and Holland animation festivals, and an audience award at Stuttgart. Hisko just returned from Shanghai where he won the Magnolia Award, a top Chinese film honor. This is where we began our conversation.

Cartoon Brew: You’re a big deal in China where you just won the Magnolia Award at the Shanghai Television Festival. What’s that all about?

Hisko Hulsing:I was very surprised that Junkyard was even nominated for the award because I watched some clips on YouTube and it looked like a typical light, Oscar-like television event. I didn’t see how my dark film would fit in there.

I was flown to Shanghai where I was given a private driver and an interpreter for 5 days, which I didn’t use after the first day, because it made me nervous. They gave me a room on the 30th story of a posh hotel. The Shanghai Television Festival is related to the star-filled Shanghai Film Festival, that also screened Junkyard.

The award ceremony itself was a huge red carpet event with screaming fans and photographers. The live television broadcast was being watched by 350 million Chinese people, but I assume that the animation section might have been a small zap-moment for a couple of million. Of course I couldn’t understand a word of what was being said, but when they announced me, my interpreter whispered in my ear, “I think it is your film.” So I walked on the stage to the wrong person who sent me over to three beautiful girls with golden statues in their hands, and I gripped one of them out of their hands. I didn’t have any idea what to do, because I couldn’t understand a word. It turned out to be the wrong award because I actually won the Grand Prize for animation. Yaaay! Afterward we had a nice party. [Watch the video of Hisko's award acceptance.]

Cartoon Brew: Well, I’m glad to hear that the Chinese recognized your film after Junkyard was snubbed by the Oscars last year. But then, when you look at the animated shorts that were nominated for the Academy Award, you realize that they’re not interested in promoting animation that pushes the boundaries of storytelling. Any animated film that doesn’t have a simple linear narrative or makes the viewer uncomfortable emotionally is instantly discarded, which could explain why excellent films like Joseph Pierce’s The Pub, Don Hertzfeldt’s It’s Such a Beautiful Day, and Emma de Swaef and Marc James Roels’ Oh Willy were similarly overlooked last year. Do you think it’s important for institutions like the Academy to recognize more complex themes, like those explored in Junkyard, or is it not important how your work is received by them?

Hisko Hulsing: It was important for me and I was disappointed, too. I have to say that I didn’t understand their selections for the shortlist. Some of them were great, but there were some very weak ones. I guess that a lot of Academy members come from a mainstream environment and that might be their taste, too. To me, an Oscar nomination mainly means something because it generates more media attention than all the other awards together, and because the Academy members are professional and skilled. But there’s a huge discrepancy between the films that are popular at festivals and the Academy Awards. Junkyard has won more than fifteen awards now, including the Grand Prize in Ottawa and the Audience Award in Stuttgart. Oh Willy has won more than sixty awards. Neither of them even got  on the shortlist of the Academy. It might have been the darkness of my film and the weirdness of Oh Willy. Maybe.

Cartoon Brew: Let’s talk about the darkness of your films. Hallucinations and dream states have played a role in all of your films so far—Harry Rents a Room, Seventeen and Junkyard. You’ve mentioned before in interviews that you did drugs when you were younger. Are these two things related? 

Hisko Hulsing: Yes, I think so. I started smoking pot when I was twelve years old, maybe once a week. But when I reached the age of fifteen, I smoked on a daily basis, sometimes as early as ten in the morning, which got me kicked out of school since I wasn’t doing anything anymore, apart from attending drawing lessons and philosophy classes. The latter interested me enormously, but the marijuana really stopped my brain from functioning rationally, so philosophy just confused me more than I already was.  The only thing that might have been good about that period is that other parts of my mind became more active. It was as if the marijuana made me see the world with completely other eyes, and I did have hallucinations.

Cartoon Brew: Hallucinations?

I believe that all animators, painters and drawers have this ability to almost see things that aren’t there.

Hisko Hulsing: All perception is actually a construct of the brain. Even when not hallucinating or dreaming, the brain constructs the image that we are seeing based on the wavelength of the light that enters our retina. That’s then converted into electrical signals which are translated into moving images that hold meaning for us. Drugs can confuse the system and make people see things that aren’t there. My hallucinations were never very strong, but I could see whole abstract animated films when I closed my eyes, the sort of films that would normally bore the hell out of me. But since I was creating them in my mind it gave a strange sense of control, as if I was creating the world that I was living in.

I believe that all animators, painters and drawers have this ability to almost see things that aren’t there. We are constructing characters all the time before we draw them. We have to be able to see them from all sides. We have these advanced 3D environments in our heads and the ability to draw them.  Anyhow, when I was 17, I was on the verge of psychosis. I remember that I started to think that I had telepathic contact with doves and that I was being watched by invisible entities. I stopped smoking marijuana when I was SEVENTEEN, the best decision of my life. If I would have continued, I would never have been able to become the filmmaker that I am. I would probably be stuck in a mental institution. I’m perfectly fine now, thank you.

Cartoon Brew: You wrote and storyboarded Junkyard, animated most of the film, painted the backgrounds and scored and orchestrated the music—what part of the process did you enjoy the most?

Hisko Hulsing: That’s an easy one. I LOVE to paint. Especially with oils as I did with Junkyard. Painting comes relatively easy to me, and it stays interesting most of the time. It’s an organic process and it can be very much like meditating. I used to like animating, but it is very hard and there are tedious moments—cleaning, tracing etc. There are phases in composing and orchestrating the music that I like, but it’s one of the hardest parts for me. I have a very clear idea of what the music should be in relation to storytelling, tension and dramaturgy, but I also like film music to be real music. I don’t like the kind of wallpaper film music that is now being produced in Hollywood on the assembly line. 

Coming up with a melody and harmony is not very hard for me. The hard part is the thin line between being good music and serving the film. My wife, Carmen Eberz, is a professional violinist. She corrects my scores and also put the magnificent orchestra together. She is very honest about what she thinks so I listen to her and to other people who understand music, like my brother, Milan, who is a cartoonist, illustrator and record dealer.

Cartoon Brew: What part of the process did you enjoy the least?

Hisko Hulsing: The absolute most boring thing about making Junkyard was to paint the shadows on the characters. [Watch a demo of the shadow painting process on Hisko's website.] With Seventeen, I used flat shadows and did it quickly. With Junkyard,I painted them digitally on top of the flatly colored characters in TVPaint, in all kinds of tones that had to be consistent. I used a watercolor brush that I designed myself. It took me two whole years of extremely boring, but hard work. I found out that I couldn’t really delegate this part because in a way it was really painting. I wanted to make sure that the characters would fit in with the painted backgrounds.

Cartoon Brew: Why did you make he aesthetic choice to do something so time-consuming? Your other films are more expressionistic, and when I first saw Junkyard, I was surprised that you chose such a tight graphic look. Did you feel this was necessary from a story standpoint? 

Hisko Hulsing: I chose a realistic but slightly rough oil painted look because the story itself is rough and realistic. I like to have style and subject talk the same language. I would hate to have a polished style for a subject matter like this, but it also had to be a convincing world, so it shouldn’t be  too rough. Because the backgrounds were so realistic, I was forced to make sure that the characters would fit in completely, and I think that worked pretty well. It is beautiful and grim at the same time which really was my purpose.

Cartoon Brew: Two years is a long time just to paint shadows. I know Junkyard had some funding, but how can you support yourself and your family financially for such a long period of time while working on a single film?

Hisko Hulsing: Junkyard had a budget that most American independent animators can only dream of: $250,000 for an eighteen-minute film. [The producers on the film were Il Luster Productions and Cinété Productions.] Still, it was definitely not enough to support me because I worked on it for more than six years and other people had to be paid to for long periods of time. The way I fill the financial gaps is by making storyboards for films and commercials one day a week, approximately. It pays very well, so one day a week is enough. I also did other illustration and animation work inbetween.

Cartoon Brew: Each of your films has increased in visual complexity, cinematic ambition and production time. How do you plan to follow this up?

Hisko Hulsing: While I was painting those shadows, I listened to hundreds of TED talks and other lectures on the Internet, so I became really smart. Well, not really. But it did influence the themes for my new film, which will probably be a philosophical sci-fi film.

Cartoon Brew: That doesn’t sound like typical animation material.

Hisko Hulsing: I’m not completely sure yet what it will be, but the thing that really bugs me is that so many people nowadays are still religious in an age where there is so much real knowledge about our universe. I imagine that life elsewhere in the universe might have evolved for a much longer period.

Human beings sort of came into existence one hundred thousand years ago, but the universe is approximately 13.7 billion years old. If you see how fast our technological and scientific evolution has been in comparison to our biological evolution—5000 years of science versus 4.6 billion years of biological evolution—it is not hard to imagine that an alien life which has had a technological evolution of a million more years may have qualities that might be unimaginable to us, and may seem God-like to us. So how would humanity react to such an encounter? Probably in a religious way. These are some of the themes I am playing with.

I haven’t put any real hard work into it yet, because right now I’m busy painting eighty oil backgrounds for The Last Hijack by Tommy Pallotta (Waking Life, A Scanner Darkly) and Femke Wolting.

Cartoon Brew: What do you still want to accomplish as an animation filmmaker that you haven’t done in your first three films?

Hisko Hulsing: My first three films were all partly autobiographical. But I want to move on to more intelligent subject matter while also trying to reach a larger audience. That might be a difficult combination. As far as technique goes, I love the oil paint look of Junkyard, but the animation process was too elaborate and boring, especially for the main animator Stefan Vermeulen. So I have to find ways to make it more fun to make.  Also I want to work faster with a larger team, while still maintaining the same quality. The technique will probably be dictated by the script and the budget. I’m also learning how to take advantage of the unique talents of the people I work with. I will have to try to be less of a control freak. But that’s what I say every time so we’ll see what happens.

Cartoon Brew: Will you be releasing Junkyard online at any point? And how can people see the film right now besides festivals?

Hisko Hulsing: Junkyard is sometimes shown on television, but I don’t think it has been sold in the USA yet. I’m not sure about online. I love Spotify, and I hope that Netflix, which is coming to Europe too, is comparable to that. My problem with putting it up on Vimeo, is that most people watch Youtube and Vimeo clips inbetween their work. That’s why cats and pussies are so popular. Short little silly things. I’m afraid that people will not watch a eighteen-minute dark film that way. So I would like to wait for a more serious structure.

The DVD can be ordered at this website for 10 euro plus shipping costs. It’s a beautiful DVD with lots of extras like the moving storyboard, complete soundtrack, and line tests.

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50. Watch “Yodelberg”, The New Mickey and Minnie Short

The new Mickey Mouse short Yodelberg premiered on the Disney Channel last night and is now online. The next new short New York Weenie will debut Friday, July 5th.

0 Comments on Watch “Yodelberg”, The New Mickey and Minnie Short as of 6/30/2013 12:31:00 PM
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