Ridley Scott's new film Exodus: Gods and Kings recasts the myth of Moses in typically grimdark swords-and-sandals fashion. It... ain't so good. Want something more artful? Look no further than The Prince of Egypt [alt], an underrated masterpiece of DreamWorks' traditional animation era. Directed by Brenda Chapman (a first for women in animation), scored to spectacular effect by Hans Zimmer and Stephen Schwartz, and voiced by, among others, Voldemort, Batman, and Professor X, the ambitious film features gorgeous, striking visuals and tastefully integrated CGI in nearly every scene. It also manages the improbable feat of maturing beyond cartoon clichés while humanizing the prophet's journey from carefree scion to noble (and remorseful) liberator without offending half the planet -- while still being quite a fun ride. Already seen it? Catch the making-of documentary, or click inside for more. [more inside]
Nuggets, by Andreas Hykade, is a short animated film about addiction. [SLYT]
Who designed the tricorder, the flip-top communicator, the Vulcan lute, the the Romulan Bird-of-Prey? Wah Chang. Who made the Gorn and the salt vampire from M-113? Who commissioned the first 500 tribbles? Wah Chang. Who made Tarantula take to the hills? Who built the prototype for the time machine and created a monster too terrible to show on television? Who animated dinosaurs and adorned Cleopatra? Wah Chang, Wah Chang, Wah Ming Chang. [more inside]
Satoshi Kon - Editing Space & Time A short video on Vimeo which explains the editing techniques of the late anime director Satoshi Kon used in his works by Tony Zhou. [more inside]
DisneyToon Studios is best known for their spin-offs of Walt Disney Animation Studios films, like the Tinker Bell and Planes series, or the execrable string of direct-to-video sequels to Disney movies released from the mid-nineties to mid-2000's. But around 2005, they had a different spin-off in development: an epic, dark prequel to Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs.
Since his death from cancer at age 32, comedian Bill Hicks's (very previously) legend and stature have only grown; American: The Bill Hicks Story (previously) fills in the details of a life cut tragically short, blending live footage and animation, and is narrated by the 10 people who knew Bill best. A comic's comic and unflagging critic of hypocrisy and cultural emptiness, American: The Bill Hicks Story is now streaming for free on Snag Films.
Legends of Oz: Dorothy's Return set a record for the all-time worst opening weekend for an animated film. Executive Producer Greg Centineo attributed the failure to a "conspiracy" of Hollywood's powers-that-be against independent production company Alpine Pictures. In light of Oz's glacially-delayed release schedule and shabby production values, it would appear that the heads of Alpine are completely incompetent…or are they? [more inside]
Jamestown Baloos (1957) [SLYT] by Robert Breer [PDF] (previously) "is a frenetic, three-part stop-motion animation that features an army of everyday forms and figures — geometric shapes, a piece of string, newspaper clips, a pin-up girl, even Napoleon Bonaparte — flashing across the screen. Placed in increasingly compromised situations and choreographed to a jingoistic tune, the figures essentially become puppets of their former selves. Such unrelenting visuals recall not only Fernand Léger’s early experimental film, Ballet Mécanique (1924), as Breer himself has mentioned, but also early twentieth-century Dadaist collage. Dada artists like Kurt Schwitters and Hannah Höch created witty, unapologetic works that reflected the chaos and violence of modern existence. Jamestown Baloos serves, as their works did, as a pointed indictment on the absurdity of war."
Lilo & Stitch is an odd movie to come from Disney for a number of reasons: a rare work based on an original story, set in a realistic version of the "island paradise" of Hawaii, focusing on strong female characters who have a realistic/varied bodyshapes. For more insight into the making of the "affordable" Disney film, here's Lilo & Stitch revisited, Part I, interviewing the creators Chris Sanders and Dean DeBlois, and Part II, featuring master animator Andreas Deja. For a taste of the animation, here are four teaser clips of Stitch invading other Disney films, the official full version of the Lion King interrupted trailer, and making of Lilo & Stitch short docu-clip.
Walking City - "Referencing the utopian visions of 1960’s architecture practice Archigram, Walking City is a slowly evolving video sculpture. The language of materials and patterns seen in radical architecture transform as the nomadic city walks endlessly, adapting to the environments she encounters."
Dennis Hlynsky is a professor of film and animation at RISD whose most recent work, titled Small Brains on Mass, looks at bird behavior, particularly how they interact when flying in groups. To better understand how flying as a flock is achieved, Hlynsky filmed the birds and then stacked the images on the same frame for a set number of frames, the results show each bird’s flight as a trail, but synchronized with the flock. The results are often pure poetry. [more inside]
Ellie Castellanos is a severely autistic thirteen year old artist whose prolific drawn art, animation, films, photographs and clay sculptures all share a distinctly colorful, vibrant and upbeat style. Her mother maintains an online gallery of her work, as well as sharing her story as it develops on the site and in a blog. She has also notably used Rickrolling as inspiration to create beautiful art. [more inside]
WIND is an animated short about the daily life of people living in a windy area who seem helplessly exposed to the weather. However, the inhabitants have learned to deal with their difficult living conditions. The wind creates a natural system for living.
In 2009, on the occasion of the 20th anniversary of the United Nations’ Convention on the Rights of the Child, filmmaker Gilles Porte had children between the ages of 3 and 6, who have yet learn to read or write, and from around the world, draw themselves, without adult intervention, on a pane of glass. The result of which is this gallery of 80 self-portraits, that are in turn sweet, comical, and moving. At the end of each movie, the character drawn is animated and comes to life. (To play the movies, click on “voir” below each thumbnail image on the TV5 site.) [more inside]
Every frame of "The New America" was laser engraved into a block of maple then photographed.
4 Rules to Make Star Wars Great Again An animated open letter to JJ Abrams (SLYT)
A boy makes a violent pact with a wolf in Jeff Le Bars's bloody and beautiful animated short Carn.
While at Cal Arts, before blogs and websites freely shared content, as animation students we would watch short films in a dark cage like room called the Palace. Projected onto the wall we screened “rare” short films, on bulky ¾ inch video cassettes or on mystical DVDs that a teacher had brought in. Of all the shorts we watched in the dingy palace there was one that was etched in my brain as both brilliant and completely insane. It was called “The Big Story,” and it starred three stop motion versions of Kirk Douglas: one as the young up and coming hero, another as the star in his prime, and the third the wise but curmudgie old man. [more inside]
Today saw the release of the first trailer for The LEGO Movie, and there are some interesting things to note about it. [more inside]
"One day I dreamed that my parents, my brothers and I went to visit three islands and I jumped into the water without protection," she wrote in her diary. "I felt like I could be in the water and not drown. I was curious and I swam into the deep water and then I saw my skeleton with my name written on it." Roger Omar collects children's dreams, and asks artists to illustrate them. [more inside]
The British Film Institute's YouTube channels offer a staggering amount (previously) of content on historical cinema, shorts, and discussion. Some short selections from the early and silent period of note - The Sick Kitten (1903) - How Percy Won The Beauty Competition (1909) - Tilly The Tomboy Visits The Poor (1910) - Suffragette Riot In Trafalgar Square (1913) - The Fugitive Futurist, in which a man on the run shows a device that can see far into the future (1924) - Vaudevillian legend Billy Merson Singing 'Desdemona'. Widely considered Britain's first sound film - (1927) Charley In New Town - part of an animated series from the Central Office, this one explaining the need for "New Towns." (1948) - Growing Girls, a filmstrip guide to puberty for young women (1951).
Every film Pixar has produced has landed in the top fifty highest-grossing animated films of all time. What's their secret? Mathematics. Oh, and 22 Rules of Storytelling. [more inside]
New York Biotopes deals with abstract plants and creatures, which change their forms because of insufficient living space and adapt themselves to the surroundings of the metropolis New York City. Set to the music of Man Mantis. More videos from Lena Steinkühler on her Vimeo channel.
"It's amazing what can be done with nothing more than a computer, time and a boatload of talent." R'ha is a short film created in seven months by aspiring director Kaleb Lechowski, 22.
Haircut Mouse. A short animated film by Michel Gondry.
The Onion AV club looks at 13 movie opening title sequences that are far better than the movies they're attached to.
'TV historians will tell you that “Felix the Cat” was one of the first images ever broadcast on television (when RCA broadcast a Felix doll in 1928 on experimental station W2XBS) — but it wasn’t until the late ’40s that the first animated character was created expressly for TV. Crusader Rabbit appeared for the very first time on KNBH (Los Angeles) on August 1, 1950, and featured a Don Quixote-like title character aided by his friend Ragland T. “Rags” Tiger as they pursued adventures in serial (i.e. cliffhanger) installments.' On November 8th, the voice of Crusader Rabbit, Lucille Bliss, passed away at the age of 96. Ms. Bliss may be more familiar to younger fans as the voice of Smurfette, from The Smurfs, or as Ms. Bitters on Invader ZIM. [more inside]
Innovative and extraordinarily talented British animator Run Wrake is perhaps best known for the short films Rabbit (previously, details) and The Control Master (previously). Run passed away suddenly just a few weeks ago, less than a year after having been diagnosed with cancer. He was 47. Here is an interview with Run from APEngine. [more inside]
Much Better Now — A bookmark is stuck in a forgotten book that is one day knocked over by wind. It experiences its environment by surfing the pages that turn in to ocean-waves, enjoying the ride of its life. As the book cover closes, light reveals new challenges. [more inside]
Jan Svankmajer: "Succumb totally to your obsessions; Keep interchanging dream for reality and vice versa"
"Jan Švankmajer is a major figure of contemporary East European animation whose surrealistic, often macabre work owes more to the nightmarish visions of Kafka and Buñuel than to the sunny daydreams of Walt Disney and his creative progeny. Noted for investing otherwise ordinary objects with ominous overtones, Švankmajer reached his widest audience to date with a feature-length adaptation of Lewis Carroll's "Alice" (1988) which blended animated and live-action footage--a technique he had earlier used to hair-raising effect in "Down to the Cellar" (1983)." -- TMC. Often credited with influencing the Brothers Quay, they hadn't actually seen his work until relatively late in their careers, as they mentioned in an introduction to their documentary on Švankmajer (YT playlist). More of Švankmajer inside. [more inside]
"Although best-known for its restoration of feature films, UCLA Film & Television Archive has been preserving animated films for more than three decades, with over one hundred titles to its credit. The short subjects, trailers, and promotional films presented here provide a representative sampling of that work. They have been preserved from best-surviving and sole-surviving 35mm nitrate and 16mm prints, showcasing many forms of animation spanning the entire silent film era." The UCLA Preserved Silent Animation project, one of over 80 collections made available through the UCLA Digital Library Program.
Geek Art Gallery features many different kinds of geek-related art in round-ups and posts: art installations, animation, comics, film shorts, paintings, photography, sculpture - even desserts. Specifically craft-focused geek blogs: Geek Crafts and Sprite Stitch (previously)
The Dark Knight Rises trailers, Batman The Animated Series style: Teaser, Trailer 2, Trailer 3, Trailer 4. Side by side of Trailer 3.
Does It Matter If the Heroine of 'Brave' Is Gay? [Contains spoilers for Brave]
Mythbusters' Tested Blog recently posted a special feature from the Toy Story 2 DVD, in which Pixar's Oren Jacob and Galyn Susman recounted how the files for the movie (just 10gb of data!) were almost lost due to both an erroneous Linux command and a bad backup. The folks at The Next Web: Media followed up with Mr. Jacob, and learned that the movie was actually tossed out and reworked from scratch again nine months prior to a release date that was set in stone, not by the computers, but by the filmmakers themselves: How Pixar’s Toy Story 2 was deleted twice, once by technology and again for its own good.
The Eagleman Stag is the 2011 BAFTA award winning Royal College of Art thesis film of director/writer Mikey Please. It's mostly made out of some strange white stuff, found in the back of a stress cushion.
Chuck Jones draws and discusses Bugs Bunny, Porky Pig, Daffy Duck, Road Runner and Wile E. Coyote and Pepe le Pew and Warner Bros. and the producer Eddie Selzer (MLYT) [more inside]
Reversal of the Heart - a 13 minute animated film of the fantasy persusasion, the senior thesis of artist Carolyn Chrisman.