Setting the Scene arrives!

Just received my copy of Fraser Maclean's Setting the Scene: The Art & Evolution of Animation. If you are in animation or looking to enter the world of animation - this book is a must. Layout is an integral and extremely important part of the animation process. The better a scene or sequence is planned out in layout, the better prepared it will be for animation, background painting and eventually final camera - or what would now be compositing. I have only just started to peruse the book, but I can already tell Fraser has done his homework. It's an awesome resource to have and will benefit anyone not matter what your job is in animation.

Great job Fraser!!


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Fraser's new book!

Check out our pal Fraser MacLean's new Animation Layout book,
"Setting the Scene: The Art & Evolution of Animation Layout"
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Master Animator Tom Roth launches new animation course!

Tom Roth, an old friend and colleague from my Bluth and Disney days has launched a new online animation course. It looks like it will be a great resource especially for those who can't afford pricey schools like Cal Arts or Animation Mentor. Tom is a great animator and his course looks awesome. Check it out on www.animationalchemy.com
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Animators Bootcamp DVD1 is Finally Available!!

Check out our first DVD in the Dan Kuenster's Animators Bootcamp Series. The disc is for sale for $40 on animatorsbootcamp.com

Hope everyone finds it useful.
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Coming soon! Dan Kuenster's Animation Bootcamp

cddisc_2

We have teamed up with our old buddy and former bluth Director Dan Kuenster and have started to produce a series of videos based on his Animation Bootcamp which he ran a number of years ago. Look for news here in the next few weeks.
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Animation Mentor to Release New Free eBook

Animation Tips and Tricks eBook, Volume II – 2009 Edition
Available April 7th


Save the Date and Plan to Join Free Webinar on April 18th
eBook Contributors and Animators Wayne Gilbert and Keith Sintay Share their Professional Knowledge, Personal Tips and Answer Questions from the Audience

This is the Chance for your Readers to Learn Character Animation from Professional Animators

About the eBook
Ideal for people who love animation and enjoy learning about the art of animation, Animation Tips and Tricks, Volume II-2009 Edition takes it to the next level by offering budding animators a wealth of career advice, real-life insight on the working life of an animator in addition to valuable tips on everything from making a demo reel, making a scene, acting, bringing characters to life, workflow, and a whole lot more.

This eBook is written by Animation Mentor cofounders Shawn Kelly (ILM) and Carlos Baena (Pixar) and includes features by Animation Mentors Keith Sintay (Digital Domain), Aaron Gilman (Weta Digital) and special guest Wayne Gilbert.

*The eBook will be available online Tuesday, April 7, 2009. Please contact us if you would like to obtain the link to eBook before it goes live for easy online publication.

About the Webinar
Date: Saturday, April 18, 2009 (replay available after April 22nd)
Time: 1:00-2:30 PM (Pacific Standard Time)

eBook contributors and animators Wayne Gilbert and Keith Sintay share their professional knowledge, personal tips and answer questions from the audience.

http://www.AnimationMentor.com
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Walt Stanchfield Books available for Pre-Order!

Amazon finally has the Walt Stanchfield books available for pre-order! Even if you have a copy of the notes provided by Animation Meat, these books are still going to be a worthwhile part of your animation education.

Stanchfield1 Stanchfield2
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Eric Goldberg's Character Animation Crash Course - A Review

Well I finally got around to perusing Eric Goldberg's great new animation book. This is definitely one for the pantheon of great character animation books. I put it on my must have list for any serious student of the craft: along with the Illusion of Life, Richard William's Animators Survival Kit and the Preston Blair books. If you have these you pretty much don't need much else.

The best thing by far with Eric's book is the included DVD which includes clips illustrating each animation concept. It really helps to see all the various animation concepts so clearly articulated on paper and then see them in motion. I thought it was brilliant that he also put the charts on the dvd clips so you could figure out the timing as you stepped thru each clip.

Most of the material has been covered in the other books mentioned above but it is always good to have another reiteration of the rules of good cartoony animation. I always discover something new either when re-reading these books or getting a fresh new take like Eric's on the subject. I think the chapter on dialog is especially good, since pretty much the only other info out there is pretty much just a couple of pages in the Preston Blair books. Unfortunately if a young animator just follows the Blair examples the results are usually not pretty. Eric shows how it is important to figure out the accents and how to properly figure out what is important for the dialog to read. He makes clear that the lips are the last thing to think about and that acting and body attitude are much more important. But he doesn't give short shrift to the actual lip sync and has several tips that will help any mouth action look better and animate more smoothly.

At the end of the day this book is chock a block with great little animation tips that are sure to set your animation above the run of the mill. If you haven't added it to your animation library go and order it today. Now I can't wait for Eric's book on directing, whenever that comes out.

-hoops

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New Look!

Same great info!


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Eric Goldberg's Animation Crash Course Coming Soon!!!

About eight years ago we had just completed an opus work of note recompilation having taken the gritty xerox copies of Eric Goldberg's famous animation notes, and turned them into nicely formatted PDF's with searchable text. We had posted the first couple chapters up on the site when I got an email from my good friend Mark Pudleiner who was working with Eric at Disney. It turned out that Eric had finally started turning his notes into a book and had asked us to take down the notes. We ended up giving Eric all our PDF's hoping that it would speed up the production of his book.

Unfortunately the book took another eight years to get from Eric's mind into our hands, but I think the wait will have been worth it. I just got email from Eric and his book , Character Animation Crash Course! is coming out on Amazon next month. You can pre-order it now. The bonus is Eric decided not to just recompile his notes, he is giving us a cd full of animation tests and x-sheets to go along with all the examples he had to begin with. You will be able to examine stuff frame by frame, and see in real time all of his fabulous animation examples.

From the looks of it this will be probably one of the most informative books on animation to ever be produced. If you are a student of animation I would run, not walk, to get this book. Eric is a master of the cartoony style of animation we all know and love, and if you want to master cartoony animation there is now a way to see inside this master cartoonists brain. It will go alongside The Illusion of Life, Richard Williams’ Animators Survival Kit, and the Preston Blair books as one of the go to books for learning the craft of cartoon animation.

Here is a blurb from the email Eric sent out today announcing the availability of his new tome:

"Well, the animation book I've been writing for 25 years, based on my animation notes, has finally arrived! Well, almost... Character Animation Crash Course!, published by Silman-James Press, is available for pre-order on Amazon.com. It's 240 pages of cartoon goodness, all geared to getting great performances from your characters on the screen. It comes with an accompanying CD that has animation movie files of selected sequences in the book. You can watch them in real time, or frame-by-frame, and they all include X-sheets, inbetween charts, circled keys, and underlined breakdowns, so the tests can be analyzed while you read the book, revealing how the principles actually look in movement and why. Shipping date might be as early as mid-July. Also, I'll be premiering it at the San Diego Comic-Con, signing copies at Stuart Ng Books, Friday July 25th from 2 - 4, and Saturday July 26th from 11 -12. Also, the book provides examples from classic cartoons that can be pretty easily-accessed"


Anyway I'm about as stoked as anyone can ever get about this book. I can't wait.

Pre-Order it on Amazon

-hoops
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5 Second Animation Day

Titmouse_pic
Been a long while since the last post. I know. Well here's some cool news....

As you may know, last Thursday was Valentine's Day.

Well at Titmouse Studios in Hollywood, it was also
"5 Second Animation Day". This is a day that all employees are not to work on the regular in-house projects for the studio, but to take the day to come up with a completely original animation piece at least five seconds long. Any type of animation is allowed. Traditional, Flash, 2D, 3D, stop-motion, mixed media, pretty much anything you want. Licensed music is available to use. Use of the sound booth is open to record anything you wish. The sky is the limit. Judging by how late some people stayed to work on their projects (6am the next morning) this was not simply a day of play. A lot of effort was put into these pieces and it showed in the final product.

The genius of the idea for "5 Second Animation Day" came from above. Yes, this idea came from the head honchos of Titmouse itself, Chris and Shannon Prynoski. The artistic spirit that runs throughout Titmouse flows from top to bottom. It was their idea to have a day to break the monotony of the day-to-day grind and give their artists a day to let loose and see what they could come up with. Titmouse is neither the biggest, nor the most affluent studio in town, yet they still found a way to give their artists some time to blow off some steam and still be creative.

I guess the big question is, why haven't other animation studios done this? Or maybe they have (any recently)? If you know about any or just have a comment about "5 Second Animation Day" at Titmouse, please feel free to comment.

As of now, the films are not available online. If they become available, we will provide a link to them.

**UPDATE
- Here is a link to a few of the shorts posted at
. I will see about getting the rest.



- steve (a Titmouse employee and participant in "5 Second Animation Day")


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The right thing to do

We have some good news and some not so good news for everyone.

The good news is that Dee Stanchfield, Walt Stanchfield's wife, is publishing a book of all Walt's notes. It is currently being compiled and hopefully will be available soon. The not so good news is that we will be taking down the Walt Stanchfield notes from the site by the end of the week.

This site has always been about keeping the information alive. The only reason we started posting animation notes and tips and such was to make sure the information was never lost. Before, there was no way to obtain this information. Now there will be. Because all of the information from Walt's notes will now be in the book, it is not necessary to keep them on the site anymore. We wish Dee Stanchfield the best with the book and will include a link for ordering it when it becomes available.

Additional books strongly recommended for animators:

The Illusion of Life

The Animator's Survival Kit

Cartoon Animation

Timing for Animation

- steve and hoops






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Wow!

photo_01
Just go see Ratatouille - you'll see what I mean. Nothing else comes close. Pixar had done it again!

- steve

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66-70

Five new Walt Stanchfield notes have been graciously donated. Click here

- steve and hoops

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Notes for the New Year!

We have a bunch of new stuff posted!

Chapters 62 - 65 of the Walt Stanchfield notes now available for download. Also, we have Entertainment 11 - 14 from Eric Larson now available for download. A big thanks goes out to Tom Dow for all of his hard work. He transcribed the notes himself and sent them in to us. Thanks Tom! Enjoy the T-Shirt!

- steve and hoops



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Character Designer Lecture at CSUN

Sorry we didn't get this up sooner....
Stephen Silver flyer

*Review for pre-selected CSUN student work only. Submit work for condsideration to: Prof. Trujillo, AC 402, by Nov.14 6pm. California State University Northridge, CSUN, 18111 Nordhoff St., Northridge. Art Department on Halsted St. Park in Student Lot E-6. PayBox in Lot $4 Art Dept. Ph: 818-677-2242

- steve


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Michel Gagne debuts teaser for his next short: Senseology

sensology_400wtd2
Our good friend Michel Gagne has posted a quicktime teaser for his next short film project. I remember being excited when he told me about this last Xmas but had forgotten he was working on it. As usual Michel's animation is as slick as ever and we get to see the design sense from his sculptures translated into animation. The new short is very abstract and obviously inspired by such greats as McLaren and Fischinger, but with Michel's unique snappy timing and efx design sensibility. I can't wait to see the rest of it and hope he enters it for the Oscars when it is done.

To see the teaser for Senseology , click here

-hoops

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Thinking Animation

ThinkingAnimation_Front
Just got some email about a former animation colleague, Jamie Oliff, and it looks like he has gone and written a book about transitioning between traditional and 3D animation. Jamie was in one of the years ahead of me at Sheridan back in the '80's and knows his animation stuff. He cut his chops on a bunch of great animation for Disney in the big 2D boom during the 90's, having worked on such films as Hunchback and Mulan. He made the transition to 3D animation working on Kangaroo Jack and Scooby Doo. For the book he has teamed up with veteran 3D animator Angie Jones whose credits include Stuart Little 2 and X-Men 2.

The book they have teamed up on is called Thinking Animation: Bridging the Gap Between 2D and CG and is described as a one-of-a-kind book that emphasizes how artists can use traditional animation techniques and principles with today's computer generated animation technology. The list of animators contributing to this book is a big one, filled with names most in the animation community will recognize: Henry Anderson, Bernd Angerer, Carlos Baena, Mark Behm , Chris Bailey, Tony Bancroft, Dave Brewster, Tom Capizzi, Brian Dowrick, Cory Rocco Florimonte, Dan Fowler, Angie Glocka , Eric Goldberg , Ido Gondelman , Evan Gore, Scott Holmes, Cathlin Hildalgo-Polvani, Victor Huang, Ethan Hurd , Ed Hooks, Mark Koetsier , Bert Klein, Keith Lango, Laura McCreary, Darin McGowan, Cameron Miyasaki, Mike Murphy, Floyd Norman , Eddie Pittman , Mike Polvani, Fred Raimondi, Nik Ranieri , Leigh Rens, Keith Roberts, Troy Saliba, Joe Scott, Tom Sito, David Smith, Roberto Smith, Javier Solsona, Mike Surrey, Richard Taylor, Conrad Vernon, Roger Vizard, Don Waller, Larry Weinberg, Paul Wood, Bill Wright and Dave Zaboski.

I haven't got my hands on the book for an in depth review but it looks like it will be a welcome addition to my animation library.

Check out the details on their site here:

Thinking Animation

Good luck to Jamie and Angie! I know this is one book I will be ordering.

-hoops
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59 - 61

Added three new Walt Stanchfield notes. Click here

- steve and hoops

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Flipbook for Mac OS X

flipbook
Well, it's finally here. One of the best pencil testers around is officially in beta release for Mac OS X. Congratulations to Kent Braun and Digicel. We've had the privilege of trying out the new software and it works very nicely. Not only is it ready for Mac OS X, it is a Universal Binary meaning it will run on the new Intel powered Macs. You can even use it with an Apple iSight. If you'd like to get your hands on it yourself, head over to the Flipbook website and download the beta.

- steve and hoops



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Eggman Cometh

ralph2
Great collection of interviews with Pixar's Ralph Eggleston by teens on the Red Studio site by Moma. Ralph speaks about everything from the "Pixar process" to his Oscar® winning short film For the Birds. Definitely worth checking out!

- steve

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Carping about Carp

hofferman04
Just got an email from an old colleague Richard Bazley whom I had the pleasure of working with back in the day at Don Bluth's studio in Dublin, Ireland. How time flies. He just wanted to pass on the news that his award winning Flash short The Journal of Edwin Carp is finally available on DVD for $20. AWN has a good review of the film. Click here

So if you want to check out this great little short which is done in the style of famed British illustrator Ronald Searle, email Richard for details.

richard@bazleyfilms.com

For those who don't know, Richard is best known for his supervisory work on The Iron Giant, he was also a lead animator on Disney's Hercules and has contributed to many other animated features. He is currently Head of Story at Aardman on Chop Socky Chooks.

-hoops
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A Scanner Darkly

winona
Great article in Wired about the tech and troubles of the new film A Scanner Darkly by Richard Linklater. To read more about it click here although you should skip the first paragraph which contains a spoiler. I never did see the entire film Waking Life, but it was curious. I think what they did with the backgrounds was more interesting than the people. It's hard to watch so much roto. In this film, rather than short vignettes, it's one long story.

Two things in the article stick out in my mind. One is when Bob Sabiston (creator of the Rotoshop software being used) says to his crew "I told them, you are making a living as an animator, that's the good news. The bad news is that it's hard work". The other is when Linklater says "I go crazy because it feels like the animation process just goes so slow." Well, all I have to say about that is, yes and yes. It seems that if they knew this stuff, they wouldn't have been surprised at how long the project was going to take. Roto is one of the most tedious types of animation out there. It is slow! Partially because it can get extremely boring. You don't have the freedom of expression like a traditional animator would. You need to stick with what is on screen. Linklater seems to know this as well. he states "It was more of a factory and less artists expressing themselves." Again, yes it is. I hope all of this sinks in on this project. You can't whip this stuff out. It takes time.

To be honest I haven't liked a single film Linklater has done except the genius Dazed and Confused. I'm a bit skeptical whether I will like this one. Other then the technique being used on A Scanner Darkly, it's the sci-fi aspect of the Philip K. Dick story that interests me. I really like the trailer. I hope that the story is solid and that the technique is only used to enhance the vision and not used as the sole driving force of the movie.

- steve



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Remixing The Magic

remixingthemagicevite
We are about a week late with this post, but please check out Gallery 1988, February 17th - March 10th "Remixing the Magic - 50 artists reinterpret Disney classics".

Gallery 1988
7020 Melrose Avenue
Los Angeles, CA 90038

Hours:
Tuesday - Saturday 11am-6pm
Sunday & Monday closed

- steve and hoops

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Notes

Walt Stanchfield 56-58 are now available for download. Click here

- steve and hoops

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News Feeds

We've added a few more news feeds to our main page. Now you can catch the headlines from The Animation Archive, FPS Magazine and The Animation Podcast as well as the return of AWN Headline News. Welcome all!

- steve and hoops



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Keep it comin'!

OK, so not everyone believes the whole Disney/Pixar merger is a good thing. If you happen to wear a suit and currently work in the Disney Hat building, you are probably one of those people. This is from Jim Hill's excellent article called Big John ...

Well, let's start with WDFA. Where it's been reported that Lasseter (I.E. The new chief creative officer of the combined Pixar / Disney operation) and Ed Catmull (I.E. President of this new mega animation operation) met with middle managers in the Sorcerer Mickey building last Wednesday and basically told these folks: "If you don't draw for a living, then you really don't belong in this building."

Call it karma, call it fate, call it payback... Yes sir, the worm has certainly turned. There's a new sheriff in town. His name's Lasseter. John Lasseter and he speaks softly but carries a very big HB pencil.

- the other jon and steve!

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Bring it on!

With the purchase of Pixar Animation Studios by The Walt Disney Company, the future for Disney Animation looks brighter than it has in a long, long time. According to Floyd Norman, a Disney old timer who has also had the privilege of working at Pixar as well,

"As a guy who has been lucky enough to work for both companies, I can truly say this merger will be a benefit for both Disney and Pixar. As a Disney old timer, I can tell those who wonder what the difference is between Disney and Pixar, that culture difference we keep hearing about -- Pixar is simply the way Disney use to be before Eisner and his managers screwed everything up. With true creative leadership in place Disney will be free to thrive again.This is good news for everyone in animation.'

Nothing captures the moment as well as Floyd's cartoons from his book Son of Faster Cheaper. One in-particular that stands out in my mind is this one on page 86. I still get a kick out of it, but now it's even more fitting as a prediction come true.

john&steve
©2003 Floyd Norman. All Rights Reserved

Good one Floyd!


- the other jon and steve!

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Animo

animovectors
Recently I've received some questions about Animo. It's a piece of animation software that Hoops and I been using for over a decade for all of our animation needs. Everything from ink & paint to animation and character design using the vector tools (from the older system). Just to clarify a few things. Yes, Animo was the tool used for WB and Dreamworks' 2D features. Yes, Cambridge Animation is still around. Yes, Animo is still available. The current version is 6.0. I know of four studios here in L.A. that just recently started using Animo for their ink & paint needs. There are many others across the globe that use it as well. It runs on both Mac OS X and Windows and it has the best color model system around. I believe there is a student version available. If you are looking for more info about Animo, please head over to the CAS website.

If you are interested in the older vector tools have a look at my personal website. I've put up some samples and even the original demo reel of the product. Yes, that's the original Animo running on NeXTSTEP in the demo! Yes that's a screengrab of Animo 1.7 running on Mac OS X!

- steve



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Pixar board to approve Disney takeover

The board of Pixar Animation Studios, the digital animation company, is set to meet tomorrow to approve the company's $7bn (£3.9bn) takeover by Disney.


Here's hoping nothing but good things come to the animation industry from this merger.

- steve and hoops

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The Year Ahead

All
Hey folks! Butcher here. Been awhile since the last time I swung my cleaver, but I'm back and ready for some choppin'! It sure looks like a banner year for animation in 2006! There is no shortage of animated features due out this year. Plenty of animator's working hard to bring enjoyment to all. Sounds like the late 90's all over again doesn't it? Well, guess what? Nothing much has changed since then. There are a ton of studios out there trying to cash in on the "animation bandwagon" and make a quick buck. Don't believe me? Have a look at the following list and see what you think.

Hoodwinked - January 13th, 2006
Now remember, I am just looking at the trailers and not the films so these are just impressions of what the audience can see at this time. Hoodwinked sports some amazingly bizarre model work, some incredibly minimal jointing and some really weird lighting. The standard Warner Bros type script makes this a radio play with incidental art attached. My own sense is that this has to be a good film writing wise because the art is so unbelievably weak, right ? It's lucky trailers are short because otherwise I would have to kill myself.

Ice Age 2 - March 31, 2006
The rodent/squirrel makes me laugh. The trailer/teaser is mostly that thank goodness. Animations the same, designs the same and they don't tell you a thing about the story. Oh, who cares, it's funnier the second time, no matter what right?

The Wild - April 14th, 2006
The thing I hate most about this preview is the insipid preschool commercial you have to sit through to watch the trailer. You will actually lose brain cells watching it. The Wild is the final version of what started years ago as an early Disney CG project as I remember. Seen Madagascar ? Then you've seen this, or so it would seem. Animals escaping the zoo. The models aren't bad (if you like stuffed toy animals ) but the jointing and animation is weak. It's hard to tell as this trailer works just like lifting heavy weights. It makes me tired.

Over The Hedge - May 19th, 2006
Now I find the writing in OTH kind of typically bad (see Sharktale) but I like the models/lighting (excellent)/rigging here. And how can you lose with Shatner playing a possum playing Shatner. Brilliant !!!!!! There are some.... well, awkward lines here but .... well thats life . The squirrel saying "Wanna see my nuts"? Ha ha ! So .... funny (imagine Shatner saying that). You can expect juvenile humor like that throughout the film I suppose but DreamWorks is getting a lot of things right. Hate to say it but there is hope for them I think. Oh, the humans, well, no one is perfect. Looks good though.

The Ant Bully - Coming Soon
I had to watch this four times. I , I just couldn't believe there was so little worth remembering from this trailer. I would get to the end and it was like I couldn't remember what I had just seen. The models are better lit but remind me of Antz/Jimmy Neutron. Hey, I have a bunch of dust under my bed, I think I should make a film called "The Dust Bunnies". Ha! Thats so cute....and probably ten times deeper than The Ant Bully. If there is a film here they are hiding it... somewhere . But not in the trailer. Animation seems fine but what's it about? An ant bully?Whuuuaaaaahhh ???????????

Monster House - Summer 2006
From the people who brought you the magic motion capture of Polar Express. What this is, is a live action movie done in CG. That's all. No real surprise here. Oh yes, the models are fat cartoonier than PE but they still move like roto. You know that nice acting key framing you see in Pixar films ? Not here. Some nice art direction and lighting and Zemekis feels it's done. Please God , let there be a story with interesting characters, please!!!!! I just can't take any more films without a story. (The Butcher holding his cleaver to his throat).

Yankee Irving - August 2006
No trailer here and the web page tells you why. "Lets skip the trailer and release it before anybody gets wise". What did I ever do to you people to deserve this?! What?! I think the ugly baseball bat should work Irving over, but good. He's just a puppet, he wouldn't feel it. Trust me.

Open Season - September 29th, 2006
Ok, there's a new Open Season trailer. A vast improvement over the last one in that it has a story and it sort of makes sense. See, a bear is living in this garage, like a pet, see, and then this deer , er antalope or whatever comes to take it outdoors, away from it's owner? Then the bear is mad because it hates being out in nature and they run into nut tossing ... squirrels ? Squirrels are as big as giraffes this year in the cool characters to cast department. Everybody's got'em. Oh, hell maybe I'm just old. Nice animation in this baby anyway.

Happy Feet - Nov 17, 2006
Oh my lord in heaven, kill me. What the..... dancing penguins, voiced by, Robin Williams.... and ? story ? Is there a story ? I can feel the heaving of my gut now. No, don't look. It is too scary.

Barnyard - Coming 2006
And thats where you will wish it stayed. In the Barnyard. Oh, one thing folks, COWS ARE FEMALE!!!!!!!!!! Holy Jesus, this is dumb. The cow designs will make you want to break out your Playmobile toys to compare which has more detail. I hate the models , I hate the humor, I hate...... oh you get it. This one is the winner in the weak premise contest, hands, hoofs down. If you do not die from having every bit of your soul destroyed by it's smarmy cliche and lowbrow humor you will tear your eyes out trying to avoid it's weak design and poor execution. Damn the makers for not putting their names on the trailer! I wanted to sue them for causing brain damage. Next time, just do a film like this with hand puppets.

Now, does this really look like a list of movies that were created because of great stories and great characters? Or does it look like a bunch of suits saying "We've got to get in on that Shrek and Nemo action!" Folks, if it looks like a turd and smells like a turd, well.... you decide with your hard earned entertainment dollars. I for one will be putting my own dough into automobiles...er...um...Cars this summer.

The Butcher



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Could it be true?

fliposx
We received a post about Flipbook finally coming to Mac OS X. While this is encouraging news, this is a product that was announced as "coming soon" back in the year 2000. We remain skeptical whether or not this is a product that will actually ship in the coming months and be updated regularly after it is released into the wild. We have been pushing for a decent pencil tester program OS X since its release. A few have tried, but never seemed really understand the needs of the animator. Currently the only real option on OS X is Toki Line Test which is mediocre at best.

If Flipbook on OS X does become a reality it will be a welcome addition to the animator's arsenal.

In retrospect all we can say is "What took you so long?"

- steve and hoops

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Principles of Motion

pomreview
The UPS guy came today and I was happy to see my order from POM (Priniciples of Motion) had arrived. I popped the discs in the computer and was not disappointed. Each disc came with a large number of actions and the cool thing was that they have a mode which shows all the actions in top, side and front view at once (perfect for CGI). You can also view each mode separately as well. There is also large frame counter to help you with the timing of each clip. Overall this is a great product. I can't wait to start animating a breakdance routine from the urban hip hop disc. I would recommend these discs to any serious practitioner of the animation craft. The good thing is that POM is having a Christmas sale with all discs 45% off so if you need a perfect gift for your animator friends check out the deals at POM.

-hoops


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Happy Holidays!

Here are four more Walt Stanchfield notes for your collection! Click here.

- steve and hoops

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Great new reference for animators

pom_blog
It is about time someone did this. Principles of Motion has released a great set of DVDs which show various kinds of human motion, from basic walks to various fighting and dance styles. It is kind of a modern day version of the Muybridge books which most animators own. I just ordered a couple discs for myself since they are having a Back to School Special. The discs are very reasonable coming in around $25 each. I'll write a report on how good the reference is when I get the discs. Check out their website at www.pom.tv to see some examples.

-hoops
Comments (1)

The origin of the species

Here's a great interview by William Shaw with Ray Harryhausen about his career, his thoughts on Corpse Bride and Wallace and Gromit and Peter Jackson's new King Kong.

Click here for the article

- steve

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Don't Pick On Me

DontPickOnMe
Here's a great new animated music video by Tom Neely for the band The Muffs. Just click on the image to the right for the video. I've been a big fan of The Muffs for a long time. Nice to see them put out such a cool video. Cool music. Cool video. It's available in MP4 - Video iPod format!

Great job guys!

- steve

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Channel Frederator

Episode_1
Finally someone has done it! A fantastic way to get cartoons! Head on over to Channel Frederator. A new way of distributing cartoons from the people at Frederator Studios. From there go ahead and download or subscribe to an RSS feed and get your cartoons! By subscribing to the feed (in iTunes or other aggregator) you will have cartoons delivered straight to your computer! A great avenue for artists to show their work! It is currently a free service. After seeing the first few shorts though, I would have no problem paying for this service if I know the artists were getting paid for their work. For now, I am more than happy to enjoy it for free. I especially enjoyed the "Mantelope" cartoon! They were all really good though!

Great job guys! Keep up the great work!

- steve

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Animation Archive

Here's a post we received from Stephen Worth concerning the Animation Archive Project

Hello,
John Kricfalusi recently donated his archives to ASIFA-Hollywood. Included with the donation were original storyboards from Ren & Stimpy, copies of layouts dating back to Mighty Mouse, production manuals, and boxes and boxes of reference binders. We also have the production files from Mike Lah's Quartet Films, with material related to television commercials (Tony the Tiger, Snap Crackle Pop, Green Giant, etc.) dating back to the 1950s.

We're looking for volunteers to sort, catalog and help us make the material available for use by the public in our Archive facility in Burbank. If you, or anyone you know is interested, please contact me at sworth@animationarchive.org.

You can find more info on the ASIFA-Hollywood Animation Archive at...


Thanks,
Steve


We are behind anything that preserves the artwork and knowledge of the art form known as animation. Good luck with the project Steve!

-steve and hoops

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A few new ones...

We have posted 3 new sets of Walt Stanchfield notes. Please feel free to add them to your collection!

-steve and hoops

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Cheeeeeeese!

wallace2
Aardman Animation comes through with yet another one of their timeless, classic stories: The Curse of the Were-Rabbit. This time it brings back their two most famous characters "Wallace and Gromit" for their first feature length film. In this adventure they are known as Anti-Pesto; a humane pest control company. Wallace still has inventions that don't always seem to work as intended. Gromit still figures out a way to bail Wallace out. It's a tried and true formula that works. Why screw up a good thing? It's a wonderful story that is clever enough for the whole family to enjoy. The animation is top notch as always. We can expect this film to absolutely be in the running as Best Animated Picture at awards time. Go see The Curse of the Were-Rabbit. You will not be disappointed!

What did you think of The Curse of the Were-Rabbit ? Feel free to post your own comments.

- steve

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Prelude to Eden pt3.

Michel Gagne has informed us that he has secured more bandwidth for his site and is now distributing his short Prelude to Eden again. Head on over and check it out at Gagne International.

- steve and hoops

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Prelude to Eden pt2.

Unfortunately Michel Gagne was not prepared for the response he received after putting his animated short up on his website. He was overwhelmed!

from Gagne International:
Little did I know that putting Prelude to Eden on-line would create such a frenzy! In just a couple of days, the film has been downloaded several thousand times, far exceeding my bandwith limitations. I wanted to offer a high quality version for anyone to own, but the whole thing has sort of backfired and now, I owe a hefty penalty fee. At the rate people were downloading the film, I would have to pay about $1000 a month in additional bandwidth requirement. I have no choice but to take the film off line. I'll investigate some options and see what I can do.

Michel is going to investigate some other options and try and make the short available again at another time. I'm sure he'll let us know when it's ready.

- steve and hoops

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Prelude to Eden

prelude
Our good friend Michel Gagne has posted some good quality versions of his short film Prelude to Eden on his website. These are free to download and are the best web versions available to date. It's a great piece of animation and holds up well in today's world of "CG animation". Head over to Gagne International and check it out!

- steve and hoops

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Corpse Bride

bride
I was lucky enough to see a sneak preview of Tim Burton's latest stop-motion project, Corpse Bride. I don't think stop-motion can get any better than this (the Wallace and Grommit feature not withstanding). An incredibly well crafted film. It looks fantastic! Some amazing animation and of course, the Tim Burton design is ever present. Lots of familiar settings, but a very different film than Nightmare. The music was enjoyable, but nothing is still playing in my head like when I left the theater after Nightmare. If you love stop-motion animation, don't miss this film!

Have you seen it? What did you think? Feel free to post your comments!

- steve

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'Bride' Stripped Bare

bride2
An extremely informative article online about Tim Burton’s new stop-motion feature Corpse Bride from Editor's Guild Magazine. Have a look!

- steve


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No worries

We are experiencing technical difficulties with the downloads on the site. We should have it fixed soon!

- steve and hoops

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Eric Goldberg Notes

Let's finally lay this issue to rest.

Yes, we have a whole set of notes by Eric Goldberg. No, we will not be putting them up anytime soon. Long ago, when they were completed we put them up...for a about a day. Hoops had been contacted by Eric and he asked that we take them down because he was in the middle of writing a book. Of course we wanted to respect his wishes. That was about 5 years ago. We are still awaiting Eric's book and fully intend to help promote it when it comes out. In fact, recently Hoops talked to him and found out he had changed his plans and is writing TWO books! Awesome news!

So if you are looking for the Eric Goldberg Notes, all we can say is be on the look out for his book sometime in the future. They'll all be in there and much, much more!

-steve and hoops

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How Art Meets Technology

The Science and Technology Council of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences will be hosting an animation event - The Animated Performance – Art Meets Technology at the Academy’s Samuel Goldwyn Theater at 7:30 tonight. The program will feature discussion on animation, animation performance, art and technology with industry experts including Academy Award winners Brad Bird (THE INCREDIBLES) and Jan Pinkava (GERI’S GAME). The event will be moderated by Bill Kroyer, Academy Award nominee and Sci-Tech Council and Academy animation board member.


Check it out if you can.

- steve and hoops

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New field guides

guide1
We really needed a standard traditional 12F guide for TV. Now we have one. I added a new set of field guides to our templates area. Created with Stone Design's Create for Mac OS X. All are in TIFF format. There's one for large printers or a two part version for regular US Letter sized printers. You'll have to tape them up yourself. Feel free to download whatever you need.

-steve


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Animator Mark Koetsier Debuts Jet Pack Benny

jetpackBenny1

Had lunch with good friend and fellow animator/story artist Mark Koetsier this week. I've known Mark since we both were animating at Bluth. His current day job is a story artist at Dreamworks (although I don't hold that against him). He gave me a peek at his new story book, Jet Pack Benny, of which he has a garage full of copies. The art is fun and the story looks like a good read for the kids. Jet Pack Benny follows the adventures of a rascally squirrel who like The Rocketeer has his own jet pack. All the illustrations were done by hand in pastel and evoke classic Disney pre-production art.

Mark will be at Comic-Con in San Diego July 13-17, 2005, and his book will be available at the Stuart Ng booth 5013.

Take a peek yourself by checking out the book at:

http://www.jetpackbenny.com

Hope you all love it.

- hoops

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A few more...

We have posted a few new Walt Stanchfield notes. They are available for download now.

- steve and hoops

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Happy Canada Day!

Happy Canada Day to all our Canuck pals up North! Good day, eh!

-steve and hoops

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HD heads up!

toy_story_small
Just a quick heads up for anyone who is into animation and owns an HDTV here in the U.S. Last night during ABC's HD broadcast of Disney's Pocahontas here in L.A., they were promoting the rerun of the original Toy Story in to be broadcast in HD on this Thursday, June 30th at 8:00pm PDT. I saw this film the last time they broadcast it in HD, and let me just say, as good as your DVD copy is, it doesn't even compare! So set your HD TiVos or be at home if you can. Check it out!

-steve

P.S. - Pocahontas looked great in HD as well!

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Big Star voice actors ...

Do we really need them? Sure, big stars have a lot of draw in the live-action realm. Do they have the same clout in animation?

I want to see great characters when I go see a film. Many times, if I see a big name attached to an animated film, it actually makes me want to see the film less. That's not to say there aren't some great actors out there that can do great voices. PIXAR seems to have a knack for casting. But more often than not, celebrities are getting these roles based on their name and not their voice acting skills. Check out this really great interview with Billy West by Kyle Ryan about voice acting. I'd have to say that I agree with Billy on many of his points. What do you think?

-steve

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Attack of the 80's!

Two new "non-Disney" animated features from the 80's are coming to DVD. 1983's Rock & Rule (which is available now) and 1985's Starchaser: The Legend of Orin which will be available on June 21. In today's 3D world where most kids may not have ever even seen a 2D feature, they are refreshing to watch (even if they may seem a little dated). Both are worth checking out.

-steve

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Site back up!

Over the last week we have experienced some server problems. Hopefully that is all past us now. Look for more good stuff to come soon!

-steve and hoops

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Cool Animation Tools

We were looking around the net for some cool animation tools to feature on Animation Meat the other day and we found a couple of neat little pieces of freeware and shareware. Of course, since we at the Meat are big Mac fans the tools we found are for OSX on Macintosh. Every animator should have a metronome to help with timing walks etc. So, with that in mind, we found two good freeware metronomes for OSX: MetronomeX and TapTempo. I like the simplicity of MetronomeX but TapTempo is cool as well in that you can tap in a beat and it will figure out the tempo for you.

Another good tool for your arsenal is a timecode frame calculator. This will allow you to add up your footage and frames, very handy if you want to calculate all the footage you've done on a job before going in to ask for a raise. We found a very cool little timecode calculator for OSX called surprisingly enough: Timecode Calculator. There is a limited free version (v1.0) and a $7 version (v2.0) with a ton of different formats from film to video. It comes in the slick OSX brush metal look and will be a handsome addition to any desktop.

-hoops
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Happy Birthday!

Today is Animation Meat's birthday! Back in 1999 we had an idea of trying to preserve and distribute all of the animation notes we had collected over the years from various studios and artists across the internet so that none of the information would ever be lost. We plan to continue doing just that in the years to come. Enjoy!

-steve and hoops


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Additional Template

For those of you wishing to contribute animation notes, we have added an IndesignCS template created to help get you started. Thanks to Damon Yoches for his help. Just visit the Templates section and download it. We also have templates for Freehand and Create. We will hopefully have Quark and Pages versions soon.

-steve and hoops


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Site of the Day!

This morning, Animation Meat was "site of the day" on Fresno's own Front Row Morning Show with Jennifer Lipp and Jerry Lentz! Listen to the clip here. They even gave us five stars!
;-)

Big thanks guys!

-steve

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A bunch more notes...

After our big site redesign we have finally had time to look over some of the material that has been piling up in our to-do box. About 6 months ago we received a giant 400 page PDF of even more Walt Stanchfield drawing notes from the mysterious cmars. We have just started sorting all the pages and prepping them to OCR the text and clean-up the graphics. It'll take awhile but we will eventually be getting all these great notes to you in searchable e-text form. We have been playing around with Spotlight (the new search feature) on Mac OS X Tiger and it is cool that we can search on terms in all of our PDF notes. With this in mind we have been looking at ways of embedding searchable data in the model sheets so keep tuned...

In the meantime we've uploaded a few more of the first batch of Walt Stanchfield notes, enjoy!

-hoops
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Clean Design

We've received many comments about the new design of the site. We were going to keep it secret, but we've invested in some very, very expensive software along with a 4 week training course both Hoops and I have been taking to get certified on. We had to buy a new server with 8 GB of RAM to run everything and.....













Just kiddingsmiley_wink ....

We found a great little tool that'll have you up and running with a great looking site in no time!

Rapidweaver $35 (Mac OS X only)

Oh, and the site is best viewed in Firefox or Safari.

-steve

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Great Reception

It's been a little over a week now since we re-launched the site. We've had a great response from all of you! Especially in the Guest Book! Thanks for all of the kind words. Over the years we have received countless emails of appreciation worldwide about the site and how it has helped young animators along in their careers. We felt it would be a great thing for everyone to see.

Hoops and I had lunch with our pals Ken, Chris and Mike last week in Pasadena and saw their set up at the new studio. They showed us some of their tools for reviewing their work and doing research and their cool new projector. Hey Ken, ever get Firefox on that machine? We wish them good luck in their future projects.

If you haven't already done so, head over to Animation Podcast and download the first and second parts of the interview with Andreas Deja. You don't need an iPod to download or listen to it. Just an MP3 playing program like iTunes. We are looking forward to many more great animation interviews in the future. Keep up the great work Clay!

Hoops was able to get a couple more of the Walt Stanchfield's ready so go get 'em!

-steve

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Practice makes perfect

Practice is a new area for us but something we have wanted to do for a long time. Since many people do not have access to sound breakdowns for doing dialog, we wanted to offer sheets with trackread dialog. We hope this will help. We'll put up more soon. In addition, we are teaming up with Eric Head at Animation Corner. If you have a nice piece of animation to one of the tracks and you want people to see it, head on over and post your scene. It's completely free.

-steve and hoops


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New Notes!

One of the main reasons we started the site was to preserve all of the knowledge held in the animation notes we had collected over the years. There's tons of good stuff in there that applies to all forms of animation. It would be a shame if all this knowledge was lost. Rather than have it all sit around collecting dust in a box, we thought what better way to preserve it, than on the net! The majority of this work was done as unpublished documents to help beginning animators understand what it was they were trying to accomplish.

We now have the next 20 handouts from Walt Stanchfield ready to download. Sorry it took so long.

Look for the last twenty or so sometime soon.

-steve and hoops


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It's new!

Welcome to the newly redesigned Animation Meat!

We hope that along with the new design and new areas, we can continue to help young and experienced animator's further their excellence in the field of animation.

Our new homepage features news and articles from our site along with aggregated news from around the web. We hope that this will help those looking for news about animation find it. We still intend to post new articles with reviews of new movies as well as observations about the animation community. As always the Butcher will be swinging his cleaver around when it's required.

One feature you now have is the ability to comment on any of the articles or reviews. So grab yerself a Gravatar and start ranting! It's free!

We'll continue to talk more about the new site and areas over the next few days. So have a look around. It's got that new car smell!

-steve and hoops


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The Incredibles

iincredibles


Wow!
"The Incredibles" will blow your mind! This is by far the best film PIXAR has released to date.
Wow!


When Brad Bird went up to PIXAR, it was a dark day for the world of 2D animation. Had Brad turned his back on his 2D breatheren? Now that "The Incredibles" has been released, I am pleased to say, HELL NO! All the qualities of a 2D film that we all know and love are there. Strong design, style, action, villians, heroes, comedy and music and most of all ... fun, all of which tie together to make one of the best animated films of all times! I can't wait to go see it again!


Without giving too much away about the story, it revolves around a family of Super Heroes that tries to cope in everyday life.


The animation in this film is spectacular. The crew truly out did themselves. The acting is terrific! The emotions that these characters can convey are wonderful. The folks at PIXAR seem to have a "lock" on what makes a great animated film. Great characters, great story, period.


It's too bad some of the other studios currently in production have not yet unlocked this idea. Remember that when you go see some of the other holiday fare this year. In discussing his new film "Polar Express", Robert Zemeckis shows his obvious contempt for animators and the art form of animation in general. From
.


I think when you see the movie, you’ll realize it’s absolutely nothing like an animated movie,” Zemeckis said. “You’ll see such subtlety in the performance of these characters that
you would have to have the genius-of-all-genius animators. In my opinion, there’s no animation in the world that could have created it
.”


Well, we'll see Bob. I think what PIXAR has achieved with the "The Incredibles" has already far surpassed anything you and your mo-cap team can hope to come up with.


-Steve





UPDATE
- Here's an excerpt from the
that further illustrates the difference of opinion between Zemeckis and Bird on the subject of animating humans. See what you think.


"Zemeckis (Polar Express) guesses that it is just a few years before a digitally rendered 'synthespian shares
the screen with a live actor - convincingly. 'That point where we'll be able to have a virtual,photo-real character standing next to a photographed [human] character in the same shot, and not be able to tell the difference - that's going to be the big breakthrough,' he says."Pixar's Brad Bird isn't sure what purpose that serves. "There is a segment of the CG community that aspires to make a fully realistic human character, and I think it's the weirdest goal, the dumbest goal," Bird says. "It's like scientists' getting so caught up in the science that they forget what they're doing. 'Look, I can make an orange out of dog poop, and it only cost me $100 million! And it looks just like an orange! Isn't that cool?!' But I can get a great orange for 25 cents, you know. If the goal is to have a CG character share the screen with a real person, like Gollum in The Lord of the Rings, then being photo-realistic is totally understandable... .

But with animated films, I don't see why you'd want to be limited by doing something that was pseudo-realistic."


Read more about Brad Bird on creating "The Incredibles" at
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Popeye (Fleischer's)

max-popeye

Wanna know how Max Fleischer's Popeye was put together?

Here's a clip.

Lower res file here

Higher res file here


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'Twas the night before Christmas

as interpretted by Dave Brewster

'Twas the night before Christmas, when all through LA
Not a creature was stirring, not even a PA
The pencils were stowed by the portfolio's with care,
In hopes that Walt Disney soon would be there;

The artists were nestled all snug in their beds,
While visions of great scenes danced in their heads;
A wonder of timing each scene with real snap,
A half decent job that just dropped in their lap,

When out on the lawn there arose such a clatter,
I sprang from the bed to see what was the matter.
Away to the window I flew like a flash,
Tore open the steel bars and threw up the sash.

The moon shone brightly off the ABC signs glow
Giving a the lustre to the pavement below,
When, what to my wondering eyes should appear,
But what looked like Walt Disney and something else queer,

Tied up executives, dressed really slick ,
I knew in a moment that they must be a clique .
More rapid than eagles his prisoners came,
And he whistled, and shouted, and handed them blame;
"Now, Eisner! now, Jeffrey! now, Shumacher and Ball!
On, Lafaro ! on Ovitz! You all made it fall!
From the top of the hat! to the top of the wall!
Cheapquals are sickening I should fire you all !"

As dry leaves that before the wild hurricane fly,
When they meet with an obstacle, mount to the sky,
So up to the house-top the prisoners flew,
With the weight of their guilt pushing them through.

And then, in a twinkling, I heard on the roof
The prancing and pawing of each little goof.
As I drew in my hand, and was turning around,
Down the chimney they all came with a bound.

He was dressed in a suit, from his head to his foot,
And his clothes were all tarnished with ashes and soot;
A bundle of execs he had flung on his back,
And he put them all down and then gave them a whack.

His eyes -- how they twinkled! his dimples how merry!
His cheeks were like roses, his nose like a cherry!
His fine little mouth was drawn up like a bow,
And the stash on his lip was as white as the snow;

The stump of a cig he held tight in his teeth,
And the smoke it encircled his head like a wreath;
He had a broad face and a firm little belly,
He stared hard at Eisner who then turned to jelly.

He was angry about something that charming old elf,
And I laughed when I saw him, in spite of myself;
A wink of his eye and a twist of his head,
Soon gave me to know I had nothing to dread;

He spoke not a word, but went straight to his work,
Beatings so violent my stomach would jerk,
Then laying his finger aside of his nose,
And giving a nod, up the chimney they rose;

He sprang to his limo , then gave out a shout,
He opened the door and then kicked them all out.
But I heard him exclaim, ere he drove out of sight,
"Let them build empires on another mans house ,
this one was built on the back of a mouse"
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Animo, Flash and the Mac

Cambridge Animation Systems has announced that it's 2D animation package "Animo" will be coming to the Macintosh platform and will be adding Flash output to the mix. Seeing as how most digital artists generally lean towards the Macintosh platform this is great news. Jon and I have been longtime supporters of the Animo system and are very pleased with these developments. CAS Animo has offered a complete digital animation package for animation production since it's beginnings in the early 90's. While other packages are available, Animo was and still is the most complete package on the market. Among some of the standout features are it's unbeatable, unlimited system for color models (believe it or not, some other systems currently available can still only provide 256 colors), animateable vector drawing tools second to none (including Illustrator, Live Motion, Freehand and Flash itself) and the ability to do track reading right in the system. It has also offered distributed rendering since it was released. For smaller companies and individuals these tools, along with the addition of Flash output, have the potential to revolutionize animation on the internet (which is what Jon and I have been saying all along). This is coming from years of experience with the product, not just speculation.

Here at Animation Meat we do not like to re-purpose press releases and use them for advertorials as some other publications do. So here's a link to take you straight to the horse's mouth.

animologo

-Steve

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Ferngully 10th Anniversary

Happy 10th Anniversary to everyone I got to meet and work with way back on
FernGully-The Last Rainforest.
ferngullyposter


FGCrew

A very special thanks to
Bill and Sue Kroyer
for being great friends and simply the best people I have ever had the pleasure of working for.

-Steve


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Futurama

futuramacast

Wanna know how the show Futurama gets put together? Here's a clip from Tech TV's
"The ScreenSavers"
.

Lower res file here

Higher res file here
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Double Disney Duplicity

Hey gang.

The Butcher here, swinging his cleaver in the name of truth, justice, and the anime way. So, we've all run out and seen "Atlantis", right? Sure we have. Only some people are saying that they've seen it already, and the first time they saw it, it was called "Nadia". That's right, it's the Lion King vs. Kimba controversy all over again, except this time it takes place under water.

Just like with Simba and Kimba, fans of Japanese animation are crying foul and accusing Disney of ripping off another piece of anime. So, is it indeed a ripoff? I dunno...I'm The Butcher and I'm just here to stoke the flames a bit and make people think. Without getting really involved in the debate, and in an effort to be fair and impartial, The Butcher wants to make it clear that these accusations fly around the film industry all the time. It happens in live-action, it happens in animation, and it will continue to happen right into the digital age, throughout the universe, and in perpetuity. But yeah, it's probably a ripoff.

I mean, c'mon! Look at the character designs! Apologists are arguing that since both films are derived from the same piece of literature, that there are bound to be similarities in the individual tellings of the story. But some of the similarities in the character designs between the two films are striking. The male lead characters, Jean (from "Nadia") and Milo ("Atlantis"), look like they could be related, right down to the huge, round-rimmed glasses and bow ties. The defenders of the Mouse House say that the character is supposed to be a brainiac, and the glasses and bow ties are typical of that kind of character design. Right. And that wasn't Gary Burghoff in a dress, playing Radar's mother in that episode of "M*A*S*H" with the home movies, either.

I guess the female leads, Nadia ("Nadia") and Kida ("Atlantis") are a little harder to argue. Sexy animated babes - they all kinda look alike to me. Belle, Arial, the chick from the Stones' "Harlem Shuffle" video, you name it. Except that Disney babes usually had a style of their own. "Atlantis" definitely goes for a more anime look, and the unfortunate (and not deliberate result, I'm sure) is that Nadia and Kida look like kissin' cousins. Say, now THERE'S a movie! But I digress.

What bugs me the worst about this whole thing is that not only does Disney deny that "Atlantis" might have at least been inspired by "Nadia", but they completely deny that there are any similarities at all! "Atlantis" director Kirk Wise said that he had never even heard of "Nadia" until long after production on "Atlantis" had wrapped. Well, that I believe. I'm sure that Disney can keep a director away from outside influences just like the Secret Service keeps Dubya away from CNN. Plausible deniability. But, I'll betcha that the storyboard artists, the color stylist, and the character designer had seen it! I mean, look at it, fer pete's sakes!

So, let us assume that Disney intentionally stole this movie. It raises the question of why they would do such a thing. One possible answer is that Disney, the one studio in the world that should have it's finger on the pulse of animation trends here in the States and abroad, has fallen into the mind set of most other media companies - that Americans are xenophobic, uncultured clods and that animation is strictly kiddie fare. One cartoon looks like the next, so who's gonna know? If you don't think this is true, go to the local video store where you'll find such kiddie klassics as "Heavy Metal" and "Fritz the Cat" in the same bin with "Rugrats: The Movie" and "The Great Mouse Detective".

Or, maybe it's just a huge cosmic coinkydink. Perhaps it took a million Disney writers a million years, banging away on a million typewriters....except instead of Shakespeare, they came up with "Nadia".

The Butcher



Have a look at a side by side comparison and judge for yourself.


Nadia vs. Atlantis

or

Nadia vs. Atlantis

Comments

Chicken Run

cr_henhouse


This is the best animated movie to be released this year. Although "Chicken Run" is rated G, adults will find this film just as enjoyable as the kids. The film has a great sense of humor. Nick Park, Peter Lord, and Aardman have created yet another fantastic adventure. Although Wallace and Grommit bow out this time in favor of a chicken named "Ginger", the film still has the magic that we have come to expect from this group of filmmakers.

The story borrows heavily from "The Great Escape" and "Stalag 17" except this time it's the chickens that are the prisoners. They want off of Tweedy's Farm before they become fillings for Mrs. Tweedy's Pies. Led by Ginger they are determined to escape somehow.

The animation is terrific. You completely believe that these chickens are alive. Additionally, you care about what will happen to them thoughout the course of the film. Every detail is used to enhance the plot and move the story foward. Disney and Dreamworks traditional animation departments could learn a lot from this little film. It stays "on track" and does not get lost in mindless musical numbers and stupid sidekick jokes. There is a dance number in the film but it fits well within the context of the story and is quite funny.

Another reviewer put it best:

"
Reduced to its essence, this is a joke told by a person, not a corporation--and that makes all the difference.
"

-KENNETH TURAN, Times Film Critic

It is my opinion that Nick Park and Peter Lord along with John Lasseter and Andrew Stanton at PIXAR are the true successors to Walt Disney. The films that these individuals are producing are much closer to the old Disney classics than anything that has come out of the traditional departments in decades.

-Steve



Stop by the

Comments

"And the Oscar goes to..."

Hey folks.

The Butcher here, taking another swing of the cleaver at our friends over at the A.M.P.A.S. According to a story published in the Calendar section of the September 28th, 2000
Los Angeles Times
, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences introduced it's first new Oscar Award category since 1981. The new award category is Best Animated Feature.

Well, lah-de-frickin'-dah!


Sixty-five years after the birth of feature animation, the Academy is finally getting around to making a small effort to legitimitize animation as a filmmaking art. Granted, when
Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs
was released in 1935, the Academy did indeed give Walt Disney a special Oscar for having completed the first feature-length cartoon. It was one big Oscar with seven little Oscars. It was presented to him by Shirley Temple. How precious. With that, the Academy turned it's back on feture animation for the next sixty-five years, until finally enough of the right people lobbied sucessfully for recognition. Well, I congratulate those who fought long and hard for this "honor", but let's look a little more closely at what we've won here.

First of all, for a film to qualify for this award, it must be at least 70 minutes in length. Okay, no problem there. However, a film must also be "primarily animated". This throws films the likes of "
Space Jam
" and "
Stuart Little
" into a kind of gray area. Academy spokeman John Pavlik even admits that it will be tricky to decide what actually constitutes a "primarily animated" film. Also, it must be noted that animation has played large in special effects in the last several years: although movies like "
Jurassic Park
" and "
The Phantom Menace
" are not thought of as being animated films, animation played a major role in both - the latter even featured a main character that was completely animated....maybe overly so. Anyway, it will be interesting to see what they define as a "primarily animated" film.

The big catch is this: for any film to qualify, there must be
eight or more animated features released in that calendar year
for the award to even be given out. Eight! When was the last time there were
four
animated films released in a single year, let alone
eight
? What sort of research did the Academy do when they conjured up this rule? A lot of animation-type folk greeted this news with anticipation that the current slump in animation production would turn around as studios would doubtlessly want to compete for that coveted golden knick-knack, and the only way to ensure a chance was to make sure that eight films got released that year. Well, I hate to burst your bubbles, but when was the last time any studio made a film (animated, live-action, or otherwise) with anything but profits on their minds? Hey folks, wake up! The whole reason for the "animation renaisance" of the 1990s was that "
Lion King
" came out and made a buttload of money and everyone jumped on the bandwagon expecting the same. Sorry, cousin - an Oscar ain't gonna do it.

The Butcher thinks the Academy has overlooked something. The sheer labor intensity of animation dictates that there's never going to be as many animated features in release as live-action. I don't think there's ever been eight animated features in release at once. Of course, there has to be more than one film to choose from, and the current rule is that of eight animated films in release, the nominees will be narrowed down to three. So under the current rules, an Oscar for Best Animated Feature Film will be presented the next year that there are eight animated features to choose from. Don't hold your breath, people. Especially with the recent scaling back at Disney, the continuing dissolving of Warner Bros., and the cycle of hiatus-and-rewrite at DreamWorks. At the current rate, we'll be lucky to see the release of eight animated features over the next
two
years.

Or, given the fact that the Academy, the industry, and the public don't seem to take animation terribly seriously, perhaps this rule is no accident.Here's another problem. Let's say that every single out-of-work animation artist gets employed and for the next year and a half, everyone is fat, dumb, and happily cranking out eight animated features spread amongst four studios. Let's call the four studios A, B, C, and D. All eight films are slated for release between September and November of the year, thus making them all qualified for Academy consideration. Let us further suppose that the animation industry grapevine still works the way it always has, and everyone knows that one of the films that studio B is working on is totally kick-ass and is sure to win that Oscar for Best Animated Feature. C'mon folks, we all know that the Oscars are fairly predictible. When Cameron's "
Titanic
" came out, we all knew that the race for visual effects was over.

So let's say that studio B has the lock on Best Animated Feature.Given that situation, let's say that one of the other three studios, studio D we'll say, has been around a long time and doesn't want studio B to get that Oscar before they do. All they need to do is to delay release of their film so that there's only 7 films in release for that year. Wouldn't be just like studio D to do something like that?

Well, The Butcher applauds the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences for finally giving long-overdue recognition of the animated feature film as an art form. However, the rules of qualification for Best Animated Feature are skewed at best and full of holes. They've also closed the barn after the horse has gotten out...where was this award in the mid 1990s when it might have given a thriving animation business the shot in the arm that it needed to boost production? With only one stable feature studio in town, it doesn't seem likely that the award will be given out anytime soon unless the conditions are changed.

I smell a rat.

The Butcher

Comments

Titan A.E.

titanae


Don Bluth finally gives all the whining animation fans what they claim to want, and guess what? They fail to show up and buy tickets. Titan AE, which fulfilled the claimed wishes of most of the animation whiners I have listened to over the years, has been solidly disparaged by these same folks on its release.

I personally thought it was a pretty good ride, and from a pure character animation point of view it was excellent. It featured some of the most solid human animation performances I have seen in a long time. Not only that, it also was adult themed, had no singing characters and the sidekicks were not totally annoying. If you are an animation fan I urge you to go see this film. You might be disappointed with a few things but overall the animation is pretty fun.

The major criticisms I have heard on the net and in various reviews usually revolve around the fact that the story seems to be cribbed from every sci-fi film made in the last 25 years. But then I could probably say that about most science fiction done in recent years, with the exception of
The Matrix
which still had "borrowed" concepts. Frankly this didn't bother me and I have to point out a couple of cool sequences which were totally original in concept; the Hydrogen Tree Planet sequence and the Ice Field sequence. Both these sequences were very cool and well executed, and they are not ripped off from any other movie. Another sequence which was quite visually stunning was a section where the heroes ship flies through a bunch of gaseous nebulae.

The other big criticisms seem to be the standard guns which people pull out to piss on Bluth films. The humans are rotoscoped and look like Saturday Morning animation, the dialog is too overdone, it moved too much and so on.

Let's look at these complaints one by one:

The humans are rotoscoped!
I say so what. Most human animation in all the Disney classics was rotoscoped and no one complains about this. Whether it is badly rotoscoped or not is another issue. In Titan AE the roto is very well done, and I know from talking to Len Simon who directed the animation that it was done properly. He was saying that they much more strictly enforced a policy of using the live action as keyframe reference rather than allowing people to simply trace. This is very apparent in the solidity of the drawings and in the weight displayed by the characters as opposed to the usual floatiness and crawliness associated with roto.

The characters look like they are from a Saturday Morning GI Joe cartoon!
One character, Corso, looks like a military guy but that is his character. The animation certainly isn't Saturday Morning, but I've read reviews implicating the quality of the animation because this one character reminds the reviewer of some sub standard TV show they saw when they were a kid. Another review claimed it was worse than Heavy Metal. Give me a break! People making these claims obviously couldn't animate their way out of a paper bag and are probably prone to calling an inbetween a "tween".

The dialog is too overdone!
It is called "chewy-dialog" and it is the Bluth house style. Live with it. I like it myself. Also, if this is your criteria for judging animation you might as well piss on Aardman and Nick Park's animation which has a weirdly distinct lip sync style as well. The Disney mushy dialog style is not the only way to do it.

"It moved too much!"
"
One of the main principles of animation as outlined in the Illusion of Life" is
exaggeration
.

Enough said. I could go on but it is obvious that most of the criticisms laid at the feet of this movie are specious crap. The only problems I had with the movie were some small story holes and with the integration of the 2D and 3D.

Neither of these issues were significant enough to stop me from enjoying the movie. If I were Don and his team I would be proud of this film. For the next one though I'd use a toonshader and forego the fully rendered 3D. To wrap up, the film while it has a few problems is worth seeing and is quite fun. If you don't see it in the theater it is definitely worth a look on video.

 
hoops


Stop by the
Comments

Buzz Words

Hey folks, The Butcher here with a few words about words.

Specifically,
buzz words
.
Buzz words
irritate me.
Buzz words
serve no other purpose than to allow people who are basically unfamiliar with a process to sound cool by using imaginary lingo instead of the accepted terminology. It's redundant, pretentious, and irritating to me, The Butcher. And if it irritates The Butcher, it's gotta go. Just to show you how
buzz words
have infiltrated our consciences and industry, for the remainder of this article, all
buzz words
will be in italics. Note that even the term "
buzz word
" is a
buzz word
in and of itself. Dammit, that's irritating!

Perhaps the most annoying
buzz word
to surface recently is
tweening
. A recent article in a nationally published animation magazine (*ahem*) described the entire processes of creating the drawings in between key poses as
tweening
. The drawings themselves were even referred to as
tweens
. Not once were the terms "inbetweening" and "inbetweens" used - not even to show where these annoying
buzz words
came from. People, there is no need for new words to describe the process of in-betweening and the inbetweens themselves! Changing the word does not make it more interesting, or easier to understand for the masses. It's less descriptive than the proper term: an "inbetween" intrinsically sounds like something that goes in between two other things - in this case, two other drawings. The only proper use of the word
tween
in cartooning is as a sound effect for a bullet bouncing off of Superman's chest.
Tweeeeeeeeeeeeen!

Computer technology has completely replaced certain processes. Before computers, if an artist needed to see one drawing overlaid on top of another, they'd either hold the two sheets of drawings up to the light, or place the drawings on a lightbox. In the
digital realm
, you don't have
physical sheets
to shine a light through, but the computer can simulate the effect. What is this called when done on a computer? Lightboxing? Nope. Transparency? Nope again. They call it
onion-skinning
. To "lightbox" two drawings might be a little vague, and to "put them on transparency" gives an idea of what might be going on. But onion-skinning is something you do in the Army when you're on KP.
Onion-skinning
is culinary, not cinematic. Keep it in the kitchen, okay?

Animation is a process. It is NOT the finished product. Thus, I'm getting sick of hearing people talk about "
animations
for the web". "I make
animations
".....oh, shut up - that really sounds lame. No one says that they like watching saturday morning
animations
. Call it cartoons, or call it Quicktimes, or call it AVIs, or call it quits. You can not express the word animation as a plural!! So there.

As long as we're on the topic of software, here's an annoying expression that comes up alot especially where tech support is concerned:
twenty-four-seven
. STOP THAT!!! It's overused faux hipster-speak. Just knock it off.

Equally annoying is the term
toons
. We can trace this one back to "
Who Framed Roger Rabbit
", a movie in which the cartoon characters that lived in the real world were referred to as
'toons
. However, somehow the word
toons
became a substitute for not only cartoon characters (as in "Goofy is my favorite
toon
"), but for animation itself - as in "I work in
toons
". It's another over-used expression, and as such I hereby undertake to refuse to recognize it as a legitimate term, except for when it refers the animation production software made by SoftImage, which is spelled with a
z
instead of an
s
, anyway.

It's great that technology is now making possible for the average joe to create animated projects on a scale ranging from a short piece for the internet to a feature-length film. However, it seems totally unnecessary to invent new terms for the benefit of those who are unfamiliar to the technical and artistic aspects of animation. If you want to learn animation, then learn animation. If you want to teach it, then teach it, but don't re-invent or reverse engineer the wheel in the process.

Remember folks, The Butcher swings his cleaver in anger because he cares. But say the word
tween
in my presence and you'll find my cleaver swinging towards your neck. See ya.

The Butcher

Comments

What's in a name?

Hey folks, the Butcher here.

Well, I know a lot of you are out there looking for work. And I'm sure that a lot of you are aware that in the last few years, animation has become inextricably entwined with computers. So I hope you're out getting some computer experience and not just reading my goofball articles. Surfing the web doesn't count for getting computer experience, gang.

However, you can look for work here on the web. The only trouble is, as an animator, you will find a wide variety of definitions of that word. Some companies are looking for traditional animators, some for 3D animators, some for Flash animators, while others still are looking for people to make animation for videogames which may or may not apply to the aforementioned types of animators. A big problem is that a lot of the companies that are trying to hire people have no idea what an animator does, so you end up seeing ads like this one:

Animator Wanted
Must be proficient with Unix, C++,
Java, and have at least 5 years
experience. No phone calls,

send resume/reel to....


(For actual proof search for "animator" @ DICE.COM)


Huh? That doesn't sound like an animator to the Butcher. What these people seem to fail to realize is that animation is a combination of different skills. Traditionally speaking, before one can animate, one must be able to draw. Learning to draw is a process in and of itself. Then, once you can draw, you may not necessarily be able to animate. Animation is a whole new learning process. Once you can animate, it doesn't necessarily mean that you can do it on a computer, too. Computer knowledge is yet again a whole new learning process. And if you can operate a computer or an animation software package, it doesn't mean you can animate. Making an image move is not the same as bringing it to life.

Animation is still a mystical concept to most people outside of the business. And I'm sorry, but these hot shot, start-up dot-coms are not in the business of animation. They need animators, but they are in the business of web commerce and need to find out what an animator is before advertising for one. Little do they know it, but unless that rare individual that exactly meets the needs of the above ad actually exists, they probably need two people. Oh dear, then they'd have to pay two people! But they should look at it this way - let's say you needed a liver transplant, and to get it, you had to be flown to some clinic in the mountains during horrendous weather. Would you prefer to save some money and find a surgeon who is also a skillful pilot? Also, do you want your pilot/surgeon to have at you with a knife after flying through that nerve-wracking storm? Wouldn't you rather get the best pilot and the best surgeon you could?

Well, you can span the globe, looking for that all-in-one ingenious pilot and brilliant surgeon, but your animation is going to look like shit. You get what you pay for, and while it makes sense to find someone that can wear a lot of hats, you don't want the person's work to suffer because he/she is buried under 5 fedoras, 4 yarmulkes, 3 top hats, 2 baseball caps and a big sombreo with those dingle-balls around the rim.

Know thyself, and know thy job. Happy hunting.

The Butcher

Comments

"Clerks" - The Cartoon

clerks

Well another primetime animated series unfortunately bites the dust. "Clerks" - The Cartoon has been cancelled after only two shows! Even "God, The Devil and Bob" lasted longer than that! It's a shame. It was a funny show. They even had the original actors provide the voices for their characters. The style on "Clerks" was really cool. Nice thick/thin lines. A nice change from the tiring squigglevision of Saturday morning and "The Rugrats". Guess it's just more of the same on the Awful Boring Crap Network. If you want to check out what "Clerks" was all about head over to Clerks - The Cartoon Website before it disappears and see for yourself. Apparently Kevin Smith has obtained the rights for video release so I'm sure we'll see the rest of the unaired shows of "Clerks" - The Cartoon on video or DVD soon.

Also check out The View Askew Website if you enjoy Kevin Smith's live action projects as well.

Snooch to the Nooch.

-Steve





* Pick up your very own copy of Clerks - The Animated Series Uncensored and see what you missed!
Comments

Magic Box Disease

Hey, people. The Butcher here with some more fodder for The Chopping Block. Today, I wanna talk about what I call Magic Box Disease. This malady seems to infect an awful lot of animation industry executive-types. The main symptom is a prevailing belief that since animation is "all done by computers now", that a lot of the work process has been relieved and "the computer will fix everything". For example, we all know that if a character is a bit off of registration, in the old days (of 6 or 7 years ago) you would have to take each cel for that level, cut off the strip at the bottom that contains the peg holes, offset that strip to fix the reg problem, and then tape the cel back together. Now, since it's "all done in the computer", realigning an entire character level is a simple point-and-click operation that takes only a few minutes.

Unfortunately, the suits heard about this and took it as meaning that the computer (not a human being) fixed it. A Magic Box! You shovel shit into one end and it spits out gold bars at the other!

Now, when
anything
in a scene is deemed in need of change, they expect it to take 5 minutes. If it takes longer, the suits ask what the hell they spent all that money on computers for. I imagine the same thing goes on in live action effects. I can picture a suit saying things like, "Have the computer make a dinosaur, and then have it make the dinosaur eat the car. We need to see it tomorrow for the pitch."

Admittedly, some suits have absorbed the fact that it still takes a person to do the work, although the Magic Box allows them to do it faster. Thus, a new strain of Magic Box disease evolved where suits take advantage of the fast results to re-work a scene to death. This has also lead to the rather obnoxious use of soft-edged core shadows on each and every character. Originally, we first saw extensive use of core shadows in "
Who Framed Roger Rabbit
", and the shadows were there for a reason: the animated characters were interacting with live-action actors to a degree of complexity that had never been done before. Therefore, to make the characters visually integrate with the live action background more convincingly, the soft-edged shadows were added to give the characters more depth and "weight". However, "Roger" was made just before the digital revolution, and all of those shadow mattes as well as the traveling mattes to reg the characters to the actors were done in a good old fashioned optical printer.

The look of the characters in "Roger" was so appealing (at least to suits) that core shadows started showing up more frequently. For a while, the term "Rabbitization" was even used to describe the use of soft-edged core shadows on 2-D characters. Then, when the digital revolution hit and this process became easier to do, the shadows not only started showing up on everything, but started being over-used. Even brightly lit, dramatically upbeat scenes had more shadows than a old George Raft movie. Why did they do it? Because they could. Why did box office receipts start to drop? Because it sucked.

It reminds me of an observation someone once made. Back in the early 1900's, it took a housewife a certain amount of hours to do all the housework for one week. This was before the advent of the dishwasher, the clothes washer and dryer, the microwave oven, self-cleaning ovens, drop-in toilet bowl cleaners, vacuum cleaners, and amphetamines. Now, a hundred years later we have all of these technological time-saving devices, but it STILL takes nearly the same amount of time to do the housework. It's almost as if with every time-saving device that came along, we found more things to do with it.

In animation, the more time saving technology that we've had, the more we've overused it, resulting in films that are visually distracting and difficult to watch, not to mention that they take just as long to make and cost twice as much. Yet, films come along with a distinct lack of "Rabbitization" and over use of technology ( to wit, "South Park" and "Rugrats"), that are made for peanuts and yet turn millions in profits.

The lesson here is that it's not what you've got - it's what you do with it.

The Butcher

Comments

Hollywood's Prom Night

Hiya folks, the Butcher here.

Well, it's almost Oscar time. Not that I give half a damn about the Oscars. Personally, I find the Oscars to be a rather meaningless popularity contest among Hollywood's "in crowd". I never went to my high school prom for the same reason. However, the Oscars do serve as a useful barometer to illustrate the prevailing attitudes toward film. It's not that I feel that every person or film that was awarded an Oscar didn't deserve one, but there are several examples of skewed Oscar voting. Henry Fonda's Best Actor Oscar for "
On Golden Pond
" wasn't for his performance in the film - it was given to him for all the films he didn't get an Oscar for. His performance in "
On Golden Pond
" was touching, well-acted . . . and served to remind the Academy that he was an old man not long for this world, and he had never gotten an Oscar. So he got it. Likewise "
Citizen Kane
", generally referred to as the best American film ever made, was completely snubbed at the 1941 Oscars for political reasons. Not only did the Academy not want to piss off Hearst, but the Hollywood establishment hated Orson Welles' guts because he was a smartassed kid from the east coast who not only got full control over his very first film and used mostly non-Hollywood talent, but had the audacity to make a brilliant film on his first try. How dare he.

So, the Oscars are skewed. Not fixed necessarily, but skewed. This is further illustrated by the fact that in seventy-odd years of Academy Awards, no animated feature film has ever won an Oscar in any category besides music, and only one film has ever been nominated for Best Picture. The only time an animated film has remotely been honored by the Academy was when Shirley Temple gave Walt Disney a special Oscar with seven tiny Oscars for "Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs", in acknowledgement of completing the first feature-length animated film. The only other venue for animation in the Oscars is the specific category for "best animated short" - but it seems that the Academy doesn't want animation sitting at the big table with the adults at Thanksgiving.

However, the Academy is not solely to blame. The United States has a unique attitude that animation is strictly a medium for children. As such, it is not recognized in this country as a legitimate art form. Animation is highly regarded in Japan, with as many animated films made for adult audiences as for children. By the way, when I say "adult audiences", I don't mean pornography - I mean mature, dramatic stories presented in the form of animation. The National Film Board of Canada considers animation such a part of national culture that it devotes as much support to animators as it does to live-action filmmakers. Is there any such support of animation in the US? Nope. Not even from the animation industry itself, as far as the big studios are concerned. All of them, with the exception of Disney, seem to regard animation as filmmaking's ugly sister and do little to promote their animated projects. Even worse, many studios don't even take their own projects seriously, cranking out mediocre-to-awful projects like "
Quest for Camelot
" and "
The King and I
". Meanwhile, Disney takes a minimum of effort to create formulaic but nonetheless well-crafted successes like . . . well, do even have to name them?

I'm not even sure how this whole animation-is-just-for-kids attitude got started, but I think that it might have something to do with when TV stations started running the pre-1948 Warner Bros Looney Tunes and Merrie Melodies cartoons on saturday mornings. Ironically, these films weren't even originally meant strictly for kids - if you watch them as an adult, there's some really sophisticated and even suggestive humor in these things. These cartoons were added attractions to round out the whole moviehouse experience when you'd get a feature film, a cartoon, a newsreel, and maybe even a mini-travelogue thrown in to the mix. The cartoons were there for the kids, but they had to appeal to adults as well. And they did. But somehow since that time, if you were an adult who liked cartoons, something was wrong with you. And if you were a cartoon that liked adults, you were trying to subvert America's youth. Case in point - people still freak out over "The Simpsons", saying that it's bad for children, despite the fact that it has been in a prime time slot for ten years now, airing against all the other "adult" dramas and comedies that no one complains are turning kids to Satan. However, because it is a cartoon, it's must obviously be aimed at children. God forbid that our kids should learn the words
hell
and
damn
from Bart Simpson rather than the cast of "
Friends
".

Further proof that all animation is lumped together in people's minds as kiddie flicks: Go to almost any video store, find the "animation" section (or in some stores, the "Disney" section), and I'm sure you can find such children's classics as "
Fritz the Cat
", "
Heavy Metal
", and "
Akira
" right alongside "
All Dogs Go to Heaven
", "
The Lion King
", and "
Rugrats
".

Where am I going with all of this? I don't know. I'm The Butcher - I'm just here to rant. But I can tell you of at least two critically acclaimed, well-received films that won't even be mentioned within a few miles of the Shrine Auditorium when Hollywood comes out to honor it's best and brightest: "
The Iron Giant
" and "
South Park: Bigger, Longer, and Uncut
". "
South Park
" is one of the most biting social satires to come to the big screen in a long, long time. It's also one of the few films I've been to in my life where the audience was laughing hysterically out loud. Oooooh, but the Academy can't even mention such a film! It's so obviously designed to twist the impressionable minds of our children! Yeah, right. That's why it was rated R and not shown in matinees. I also haven't seen a whole lot of kiddies in the school yard singing the "Uncle Fuka" song. The film was never meant for kids, dammit! "
The Iron Giant
" was certainly suitable for the entire family. It had a bit of edginess to it: the occasional hell and damn, not to mention the dose of cold war paranoia and the specter of nuclear holocaust. Sound like a strictly-for-the-kiddies film to you? I didn't think so. Will it get any recognition from the Academy? We'll have to wait and see. But don't hold your breath.

The Butcher

2/3/2000




*POSTSCRIPT FROM THE BUTCHER

Well, sprinkle my words with brown sugar and call 'em breakfast - I stand partially corrected. A week or so after my last rant was posted, the Academy released their list of nominees for this year's Oscars, and - I'll be damned - the song "Blame Canada" from "
South Park: Bigger, Longer, and Uncut
" was nominated for Best Song. Still, I saw no mention of "
Iron Giant
", which could conceivably been nominated for best adaptation...

I don't think that it has a hope in hell of actually winning, just as the unpopular kid who comes to the prom alone wont get to dance with anyone, but at least it will be amusing to see how the crowd at the Shrine reacts when they announce the nominees. Maybe there's hope.....but probably not.

The Butcher

Comments

Stuart Little Rocks!

Check out the new Stuart Little movie!
Comments

The Truth About Cel Collection

Hi folks, The Butcher here.

Lemme set you straight on something. A lot of you are buying "animation cels" for their collectable value, or because of fondness for a certain animated character or film. And I'm sure a lot of you know exactly what you're doing, but I'm equally sure that a lot of you don't. It's the later half of this crowd that I want to address, so listen up and remember that The Butcher cares.

Many people seem to think that by buying a cel, you are getting a piece of the film - a one-of-a-kind piece of artwork. Some of you are, but a lot of you aren't. Digital techniques have, in most cases, replaced the ink-and-paint process. Disney hasn't used cels since before "
The Rescuers Down Under
" , which was their first film to be done all digitally. If you've bought cels from "
The Rescuers Down Under
" or any Disney feature made afterward thinking that you had purchased a piece of the film itself, you got screwed. There were no cels for that movie or any made afterwards. What you bought was a "Limited Edition" cel, which is for all appearances an "animation cel", but was made exclusively for the purpose of selling as artwork. These are also sometimes referred to by the sickening and pretentious euphemism, "a cericel" (pronounced like sara-sell).

Cel collection and the market it serves are a fairly recent phenomenon. When I was a Little Butcher, I remember going to Disneyland and seeing cels from old Disney shorts and features being sold for a few bucks. People just didn't realize that they were getting a piece of the film - indeed, a piece of animation history - for a few clams. These were gooooood cels, too: Black-and-white "
Steamboat Willie
" cels, Mickey in his sorcerer's apprentice outfit, Donald, the Goof, Chip and Dale....these things are worth thousands of bucks now. What happened? Well, someone must have realized that there were selling a piece of the film - indeed, a piece of animation history - for a few clams. Also, someone figured out that cels were an endangered species, as digital ink-and-paint lurked just over the horizon.

Thus the value of cels went up. Rightly so, I suppose. But then, something else happened. Someone figured out that if cels were an endangered species, that they would run out of product to sell. What to do? Make more! We could even make them better! Pose the characters as if they were publicity shots! Make them in limited runs to increase their value!

Who is the
they
that I refer to? Is it Disney? Probably, but I don't have any proof. Don't get me wrong - business is business and it was a pretty smart move. However, they also played on the public's general ignorance about cels and digital production to make sure the product kept selling. That's where I get a bit irritated. The companies selling these things did the bare minimum of disclosure to cover their asses legally, but you'll notice that the difference between cericels and actual production cels is kept quiet.

There are even some unscrupulous characters who revel in this ignorance. Your friend The Butcher almost got the shit kicked out of him at the last San Diego ComicCon by an enraged cell dealer. I normally mind my own business, but I overheard a conversation between a cel dealer and a prospective sucker. The sucker was interested in a "cel" of the ballroom scene in Disney's "
Beauty and the Beast
" and was about to shell out almost 1,000 bucks for this meaningless piece of cellulose triacetate. I wasn't going to intervene until I heard the sucker ask for the dealers assurance that this was, "an actual production cel used in the movie".

"Oh it certainly is," assured the dealer.

"Oh it certainly is not," I interrupted.

Both the dealer and the sucker looked at me as if I were some kind of freak (which is considerable given most of the crowd at the ComicCon), and I explained to the sucker that "Beauty and the Beast" had been inked-and-painted digitally and that the closest that this "cel" had come to being on film was when the truck that brought it here passed a Fotomat. The sucker stopped in mid checkwriting and asked the dealer if I was correct. The dealer said, "Well, who are you gonna believe - an art dealer or some guy?"

The sucker looked at me for some kind of signal, and I said, "Well, believe who you want, but I don't see you writing me a check."

The cel went unpurchased, and the dealer went for my throat. Luckily, I managed to quickly disappear into the crowd of Furries, Trekkies, and sloppy comic book store clerks.

At this point, let me explain a few things. First, I certainly don't want to single out Disney for the cericel phenomenon. Hanna-Barbera, Warner Bros, and about a half dozen television production companies are all participating. Also, the example of the dealer at the ComicCon was an extreme negative example. Not everyone that tries to sell you a "Limited Edition" cel is a crook. I doubt that the teenage clerks at The Warner Bros Studio Store know a cericel from a Sara Lee coffee cake. I'm also damn sure that the management has made no effort to explain the difference to them. As the old adage goes, buyer beware. Here's a few tips to help you tell cericels from actual production cels.

1. Production cels often have a lot of information (usually written with a Sharpie) around the edges of the cel, particularly down near the peg holes. Most of this info is scene and frame numbers.

2. Another dead giveaway that a cel was actually used in production is if you see that the lower inch of the cel, containing the peg holes, has been cut off and taped back onto the rest of the cel with tape. This is called "re-pegging" and is used to correct previously unnoticed registration problems.

3. Look at the characters. Do they look like they're posing for a vacation snapshot, mugging for the camera? Are they looking directly at the camera, smiling for no apparent reason? Betcha that's a cericel.

4. Actual production cels, especially for television cartoons, will often have a partial character - just the head, or body, or arms, or mouth. This is an artifact of "limited animation". In this process, if a character is just standing there talking, only the mouth is animated while the rest of the character (the head, body, arms and legs) are just held still. In this case, a separate "mouth level" of cels is created, and perhaps a single cel of the character's body is used for several frames. "Limited animation" is mostly used in TV production. In some cases, an entire set-up is offered for sale, where all of the character's levels have been framed in registration to each other. These can be pretty expensive, but they are actual production cels.

5. Finally, most cels that are offered for sale from studios will have some kind of stamp or embossed logo in one corner. Most of the time, this stamp or logo will identify whether the cel is an actual production cel, a "limited edition", or a cericel. Learn the lingo, and if in doubt, find out if there were cels used on that particular production before you buy.

I'm not trying to tell you that cericels are a rip-off. If you want to collect cericels, then do so by all means. Hell, there are people that collect thimbles! But do so knowing exactly what you are getting, otherwise The Butcher will lay awake nights worrying about you and your money. That's it for now - happy collecting!

The Butcher

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Save the Iron Giant - Join the internet campaign

giant
Everyone,

This last weekend an ongoing animation tragedy has started to unfold. The Iron Giant, probably the best new non-Disney animated film in a long time, is dying at the box office due to inept marketing by Warner Bros. Studios.

You have a chance to right this wrong by joining the grassroots internet campaign to save Iron Giant. Please join in to help this new animation classic.

First go see the movie and take a friend, or if you have kids take all of them. You will not be disappointed, this is a film for everyone adults included.

Second send this email to all the people you know and encourage them to spread the word and see this film.

Third post good things about the film on every relevant internet forum you can find Newsgroups, Chat rooms etc.

Finally if you are into toys go to a Toy Store and ask for the Ultimate Giant it is the coolest toy ever. You will probably not be able to find it but it is really cool. Perhaps we can build Ultimate Giant mania by creating massive demand.

If you want further info on the film go to:

http://www.irongiant.com

And to see that it's a really great and entertaining film go to these various sites and read the MANY lengthy and glowing reviews for what has become many peoples favorite new film in some time.

http://www.aint-it-cool-news.com
http://www.variety.com/filmrev/index.asp
http://www.hollywoodreporter.com (look under reviews)

Even Roger Ebert loved it, saying he was relieved that there were no spastic sidekicks, and singing teapots!

I went to see it this last weekend, and was really surprised at how good this film was. I would say it is the most refreshingly animated non Disney feature since Secret of NIMH. The one thing that it has that NIMH had is heart. You can see that the people making this film had fun and the animation reflects that. The giant is great and is some of the nicest character animation you will see in a long time. The rest of the animation hearkens back to 101 Dalmations which puts it in a pretty good league.

Once again, go see the movie this weekend, tell all your friends, and bring the kids. Thank you for your help in saving this new animation classic .

Jon Hooper
Friend of the Giant

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