– I’ve posted many of Errol Le Cain‘s illustrations for his children’s books. Ever since coming across that very first paper-bound book, about Briar Rose, (meaning it was the very first I’d seen for sale) I’ve been an avid collector searching out any of the many books he created.
Le Cain was my hero for quite some time. He was a student of Dick Williams’ studio, had learned to animate there and was doing the backgrounds for Dick’s feature The Thief and the Cobbler. Dick pushed him, at one time, to do a film on his own, The Sailor and the Devil, with, of course, Dick’s harsh scrutiny.
I present here his illustrations for the first half of the book, Mr. Mistoffelees with Mungojerrie and Rumpelteazer. The latter half of the book included the Mungojerrie and Rumpelteazer part which we’ll save for another time.
This story is part of the Old Possum’s Book of Practical Cats by T.S. Eliot.
That was, of course, the source material on which Webber and Nunn based their show CATS. These images are so attractive and stylish, I was quite curious to know whether Andrew Lloyd Webber had seen the books. Especially when he was about to put CATS onto the screen as an animated film.
Here are the illustrations by Le Cain:
________ (Click any image you’d like to enlarge.)
___________You ought to know Mr. Mistoffelees !
___________The Original Conjuring Cat -
___________(There can be no doubt about that).
___________Please listen to me and don’t scoff All his
___________Inventions are off his own bat.
- Today I’m posting a special issue of Top Cel, the NY animation guild’s newspaper. Dated August 1967, it celebrates the Montreal Expo animation conference and exhibition held that summer. Obviously, this was the place to be that year if you were an animation lover.
Just take a look at that list of signatures of attendees. Some of them are:
Chuck Jones, Peter Foldes, Manuel Otero, Edith Vernick, Abe Levitow, Don Bajus, Bill & Fini Littlejohn, John Halas, Ward Kimball, Ken Peterson, Shamus Culhane, Carl Bell, Pete Burness, Ub Iwerks, Gerald Baldwin, I. Klein, Gene Plotnick, Ian Popesco-Gopo, Carmen d’Avino, Bill Mathews, Len Lye, June Foray, Bill Hurtz, Spence Peel, Paul Frees, Steve Bosustow, Dave Hilberman, Stan Van der Beek, Les Goldman, Jimmy Murakami, Mike Lah, Robert Breer, Tom Roth, Art Babbitt, Feodor Khitruk, Fred Wolf, Ivan Ivanov-Vano, Paul Terry, J.R. Bray, Walter Lantz, Otto Messmer, Dave Fleischer, Ruth Kneitel, Bruno Bozzetto, Bob Clampett, Karel Zeman, Dusn Vukotic, Bretislav Pojar, Jean Image, Grim Natwick, Tissa David, Barrie Nelson, Andre Martin, Ed Smith, Dick Rauh, and John Whitney.
I guess they don’t make Festivals like they used to. There doesn’t seem to be much written about this event, and I wish some of those in attendance would write about it.
From the Wikepedia entry for Bill Tytla, there’s the John Culhane quote: On August 13, 1967, the opening night of the Montreal Expo’s World Exhibition of Animation Cinema, featured a screening of Dumbo as part of an Hommage Aux Pionniers. Tytla was invited, but worried if anyone would remember him. When the film finished, they announced the presence of “The Great Animator.” When the spotlight finally found him, the audience erupted in “a huge outpouring of love. It may have been one of the great moments of his life,” recalled John Culhane. I’m sure there were many such moments.
Pepe Ruiz was the u-nion’s business manager. In 1966 – the year prior to this expo – I was a junior in college, determined to break into the animation industry. Of course, I knew the military was coming as soon as I graduated, but I called the u-nion to have a meeting with Pepe. I wanted to see what the likelihood of a “part time job” would be in animation. This took a lot of courage on my part to see what the u-nion was about. I pretty well knew part time jobs didn’t exist. There was no such thing as interns back then.
Pepe was an odd guy who kept calling me “sweetheart” and “darling” and he told me that it was unlikely that I could get something part time in an animation studio.
However he did send me to Terrytoons to check it out.
I met with the production manager, at the time, Nick Alberti. It was obvious I was holding up Mr. Alberti’s exit for a game of golf, but he was kind and said that part time work wasn’t something they did. (He moved on to Technicolor film lab as an expediter after Terry‘s closed. I had contact with him frequently for years later, though I never brought up our meeting and doubt he would have remembered it.) Ultimately, I was pleased to have been inside Terrytoons‘ studio before it shut down shortly thereafter. A little adventure that let me feel as though I was getting closer to the world of animation.
The photos of the Expo are worth a good look. I’ve singled out those above to place around my text. The picture of Tissa and Grim is a nice one of the two of them together.
Ed Smith was the Top Cel editor at the time, and he put together a creative publication.
Signe Baumane has started a Kickstarter campaign to try to complete her animated feature. Rocks in my Pockets. I saw this film at a small preview, and I can honestly say this is one of the best of the Independent films I’ve seen in production. The story is just great. It works on the surface and it works in several levels of depth. Visually it’s stunning using three dimensional backgrounds that are sculpted by Signe. She has a number of talented people working with her on the film, but this truly feels like a one person show, it’s so defined and original.
I heartily recommend that you not only look for the film when it’s finished but help it get there now by donating anything you can. This is one that deserves to be completed.
Take a look at the Kickstarter site.
George Griffin Show
I’ve always considered George Griffin the leader of the Independent movement in animation in New York. For good reason, his work dominated the local scene back in the seventies, and he gave us a clear vision of an original auteur at work with a very specific statement to make in all of his films. Since then, that vision has remained true through all of his films, although, of course, it has grown enormously, expanded to something even richer.
It isn’t often that we get to see a fuller presentation of George’s work, so I’m pleased to announce that there will be a program shown at the Anthlogy Film Archives on Thursday, Jan. 24 at 7:30 pm. The program will represent a mixed bag culled from his body of work. It will include recent films like “The Bather,” cartoons like “Flying Fur,” “Viewmaster,” and “Ko-Ko,” and the 1975 anti-cartoon “Head”. All of these films have been transferred to HD and will be shown in pristine condition.
The full program:
HEAD (1975, 10.5 min, 16mm)
VIEWMASTER (1976, 3.5 min, 16mm)
FLYING FUR (1981, 7 min, 16mm)
KO-KO (1988, 3 min, video)
NEW FANGLED (1990, 2 min, video)
A LITTLE ROUTINE (1994, 7 min, video)
IT PAINS ME TO SAY THIS (2006, 10 min, video)
MACDOWELL: A USER’S MANUAL (2007, 14 min, video)
THE BATHER (2008, 3 min, video)
YOU’RE OUTA HERE (2009, 3 min, video)
FLYING FUR FRAGMENTS (2012, 6.5 min, video)
Total running time: ca. 80 min.
Anthology Film Archives
32 Second Avenue
I recently receoved a note from someone at the Simpals Animation Studio in the Republic of Moldova. the studio produces 3D animation and proudy wanted to show off their character, “Dji,” the figure of death. They’ve done a few shorts featuring this character and, after wrote a bit about the series they’ve done completely in-house. “Dji. Death fails” is their fourth short built around this character, and you can see the development on the screen. I found some warmth around the principal, though I must say it feels similar to some other films out of Europe . They have a fascination with “Death” and making fun of it appeals to them. I have to say, they’ve made the most of it.
Others of their films can be found at their YouTube page. I’d like to see some more of their 2D work. It looks interesting.
Here’s the most recent work finished in November, 2012.
Redhead du Jour
Direct from Tom Hachtman to you.
Portrait of Jorz Strooly by Traci (age 6)
Color by Jorz Strooly
A New Fischinger Book
Due in April:
Oskar Fischinger (1900-1967): Experiments in Cinematic Abstraction.
Edited by Cindy Keefer and Jaap Guldemond.
Available April via Thames & Hudson.
This new Oskar Fischinger monograph explores the position of his work within the international avant-garde. It examines his animation and painting, his use of music, his experiences in Hollywood, and his influence on today’s filmmakers, artists and animators. The book also contains previously unpublished documents including texts by Fischinger himself.
The essays include:
Jean-Michel Bouhours, Oskar Fischinger and the European Artistic Context
Ilene Susan Fort, Oskar Fischinger, The Modernist Painter
Jeanpaul Goergen’s Timeline: Oskar Fischinger in Germany, 1900-1936
Paul Hertz, Fischinger Misconstrued: Visual Music does not equal Synesthesia
Joseph Hyde, Fischinger’s Scores: New Perspectives on his Approach to Music
Richard Brown, The Spirit Inside Each Object: John Cage and Oskar Fischinger
Cindy Keefer, Interview with Barbara Fischinger. The Lumigraph: Dancing with your Hands.
Cindy Keefer, Optical Expression: Oskar Fischinger, William Moritz and Visual Music.
James Tobias, Essay Without Words: Motion Painting no. 1, Insight, and The Ornament
Joerg Jewanski, The Visions of Oskar Fischinger and Alexander Laszlo in 1935/36
plus texts by Fischinger, a new bibliography and filmography by CVM,
and testimonials by international artists, scholars, historians and authors
including David James, Giannalberto Bendazzi, John Canemaker, Suzanne Buchan,
yann beauvais, Joost Rekveld, Arthur & Corinne Cantrill, Scott Snibbe, and others.
240 pages, paperback. Extensive color illustrations.
Co-published by EYE Filmmuseum and Center for Visual Music.
ISBN 978-9071338007. Available April via Thames & Hudson.
Limited supply available earlier at Center for Visual Music.
Events 03 Jan 2012 11:30 am
It’ll be an excellent time for all of us who remember Vinnie with fondness to
gather and honor the man.
Candy Kugel and Marilyn Kraemer will be on hand to greet you.
4 to 9 pm.
33 Bleecker Street
(212) 473 8800
To honor Vinnie’s animation on this blog,
I asked Candy to pick out a scene Vinnie had animated. These are his drawings for this scene from their Independent short, Command Z. As Candy states in a comment, below, (prompting me to add this note) the film was designed by the talented Lee Lorenz, and Vinnie’s clean up is in Lee’s style.
Here’s a QT of the scene from the final Buzzco movie, Command Z.
-In 1967, there was the Montreal World Exhibition of Animation Cinema. This was an historic event that brought together many of the world’s most famous animators. Ararwe occasion when Walt Disney and Max Fleischer would attend the same event. You can read more about it here.
At this event, an important document was sold. It was a large poster delineating the early history of animation through the Golden Age. The chart was developed by André Martin. Anyone who was anyone, back then, owned this poster. Mike Barrier and I recently discussed how long this thing lasted in our hands. Mine was taped to a wall, then moved, then moved again. Bit by bit, move by move, it started to tear and crumble. Eventually it was only a piece of its former self, and it didn’t make it through another move.
Recently, Tissa David gave me a bunch of posters she had in a tube in her apartment. Believe it or not, this poster was among them; so I decided to post the poster. The trouble is it’s so big – roughly 36×48. It meant scanning it in many many parts and trying to reassemble it in photoshop. It took a lot of time and had to be adjusted a lot in photoshop. Even sizing it so it could be posted was a pain in the butt. However, here it is in two versions.
- I scanned it full size for you to see.
- Then I scanned 8 parts of it so they would be larger and more readable in the thumbnail.
These 8 thumbnails are still small, but I couldn’t get them much larger without going to 12 or 16 parts. You’d lose all sense of continuity the original chart has.
You’ll have to spend some time with it if you want to get through it carefully, but you’re welcome to it. I hope my effort was worth the trouble.
Full sized, click it to enlarge and read it as is.
Events 22 Feb 2010 06:38 am
Hearty congratulations are in order for Emma Lazenby and Sally Arthur.
Their film MOTHER OF MANY won the BAFTA Award for Best Short Animated Film. The film is the story of Emma’s mother, a midwife.
You can watch a short interview with Emma after she won the award here.
There’s a short clip from the film on YouTube here.
The other two nominees were:
The Gruffalo by Michael Rose, Martin Pope, Jakob Schuh, Max Lang
and The Happy Duckling by Gili Dolev.
You can read a blog that was set up for all of the short film nominees here.
Unfortunately their receiving the award was excised from the US broadcast of the telecast. They decided to truncate the show for the audiences of BBC America. Let’s hope the Oscars don’t go down that route.
Congratulations also to Pete Docter and all at Pixar who won the award for Best Animated Feature with UP. This is obviously the odds on favorite to win the Oscar next month.
This award was televised.
They will screen The Hedgehog in the Fog and The Overcoat, his long-in-progress film. Norshtein will also have an extended Q&A with the audience.
The man is one of the great animation masters, and I hope that there will be a good turnout for him. I wonder if the copy of The Overcoat that will be shown will be a more current version than the one that’s been screened a couple of years back. I’d read that he was planning to break the film in two and release the first part at the end of 2009. Perhaps that is the case, and we will be seeing this version.
In any event, for me, this is a big event and I’m looking forward to it.
A sketch for The Overcoat.
– I think I was hit with a fascination of the Multiplane Camera when I first read Bob Thomas’ book, The Art of Animation, back in 1959. (See graphic to the right.) After that book I just searched out all the scenes described within it – the flying scene from Peter Pan, the town awakening in Pinocchio, and the entire Old Mill short. I was entranced and paid attention to every use of the device in Disney films. Of course, I saw what Ub Iwerks did with his machine, even before Disney, in all his very odd animated shorts. I even watched Don Bluth develop his own smallish multiplane camera for his films.
My father and brother-in-law teamed to build a multiplane stand for me when I was a kid animating and shooting my own 8mm films. The thing handled 12 levels of glass panels 18″x36″ and had some 5000 watts of lighting spread throughout. It got hot but enabled me to make some interesting films. Not
necessarily good – just interesting. It enabled so much invention in those short film fragments.
Hans Bacher this week has posted a collection of photos of the camera setup from the Disney studio. The collection is thrilling for those of us who have been entranced with this invention.
However, if you really want to get into the nitty-gritty of the machine, you have to visit a number of posts on Hans Perk‘s website A Film LA. There he has posted several extraordinary documents which detail William Garity’s plans for the invention of the Multiplane Camera. You can see these documents here: 1, 2, 3
- Starting Friday on HBO The Ricky Gervais show premieres. This is an animated program built around podcasts that Gervais has been distributing on-line. The voice tracks are animated in LA predictably utilizing Flash for the lowest budget. The style is out of the predictable cookie-cutter mold we’ve been seeing lately. You can catch a couple of segments here.
The NYTimes has an article in their Sunday paper about the show, but, as might be expected, nothing about the animation is actually discussed. Star driven vehicles aren’t about the animation. Though the Times does offer an excellent interactive feature that showcases a lot of the artwork.
It’s difficult to find out much about the actual production. Media Rights Capital is co-producing the animated HBO show along with Wildbrain. The credited animation director is Craig Kellman.
The review in Variety wasn’t glowing:
. . . employing a stiff “The Flintstones”-type look and visual template.
Animation would seem to be an ideal vehicle for this, but there’s only so much it can do — in part because there’s no adhesive to the episodes. The three guys sit and bullshit for 20-some-odd minutes — at times entertainingly — until the program simply ends. Perhaps that’s why the effect diminishes as the episodes wear on, though Glyn Hughes’ jaunty score does play them out on a high note.
If you’re a Ricky Gervais fan, I suggest you check out his blog. It’s actually entertaining without being too “me me me”.
- On Sunday night, Valentine’s Day, Debra Solomon‘s show, Getting Over Him In 8 Songs or Less, premieres on HBO 2 at 7:30pm. The film offers a musical trip through the last couple of years of Debbie’s life as she regroups from a divorce with her husband. (Animation as therapy.)
On her site, she writes this synopsis:
- In my new film, I animated myself out of heartbreak. The animated journey was also my emotional journey. In GETTING OVER HIM IN 8 SONGS OR LESS the main character is caught in a
woman’s worst nightmare, wandering around the neighborhood undressed and exposed after being left by her husband. Through the use of brightly colored patterns that wash away section after section of the film, mimicking the ebb and flow of feelings, the viewer passes through the crisis with the main character.
I know firsthand how intensely Debbie worked to pull this show together. She singlehandedly animated the entire show in Flash in a sort of stream-of-conscious linear style that pulsates with a nervous energy (not unlike her own). The entire story is told through a pastiche of funny songs that she wrote, performed and produced. In short she bares her soul via a quick moving, funny animated film. It’s an animated diary of Debbie’s life in the year after her marriage. She lived through it as she animated it.
It’s brilliant that HBO helped finance this animated and personal film. This is a bittersweet bon bon of a tv show. Tune in.
Here are a couple of other images from the show:
(Click any picture to enlarge.)
There’s a short interview with Debra in MovieMaker Magazine.
This is the complete show schedule for the rest of this month:
7:30pm Sunday Feb 14th HBO2
9:30am Tuesday Feb 16th HBO Signature
6:00am Friday Feb 19th HBO2
10:00am Sunday Feb 21st HBO Signature
- Andrey Khrzhanovsky is one of Russia’s premiere animators. The list of his an1mated shorts can be found here.
He has completed a live action/animation feature that has been scoring excellent reviews. A Room and a Half draws on the biography of Joseph Brodsky, the Russian -Jewish -American poet, who won the Nobel Prize for literature in 1987 and was made poet laureate of the U.S. in 1991.
The reviewer in Variety wrote:
- Veteran animator and documaker Andrey Khrzhanovsky’s feature debut, at the age of 69, is a magical, wildly creative fantasia on the life of Russian poet Joseph Brodsky. . .
Khrzhanovsky has stated that Brodsky’s life was the “creative impulse” for his film, meaning it shouldn’t be seen as a biopic. Or rather, it’s as much a biopic as one of Fellini’s self-referential reveries. . .
“A Room and a Half” is unmistakably the work of a mature artist, and it’s the helmer’s absolute mastery of the different formats that makes his work so joyous. Silhouette cutouts reflect pre-Revolutionary elegance, an animated cat appears inside a credenza and musical instruments float across the city skyline, fusing Magritte and Chagall.
The magazine Screen adds:
- Some of the most touching moments in the film cover his childhood, painting an intimate, cheerful, closely knit family, that never lets their cramped living space or the penury of the lean years sap their spirit. The film freely elaborates on young Brodsky’s flights of imagination at the time, including a magical animated sequence in which Soviet soldiers throw culture out of the window, followed by a whole orchestra’s worth of instruments.
The Film Forum will be screening A Room and A Half for two weeks beginning Jan 20th.
- Speaking of Russian animation, there’ve been some additions to Niffiwan’s site, Animatsaya In English. Lots of recent animation has been posted (all subtitled in English) as well as a lot of information.
Niffiwan has put together a Wiki site which offers a large number of animated films, both current and historic, which have been subtitled. There’s a list of films subtitled in English and a list of films that are wordless. You owe it to yourself to start catching up on some of the world’s finest animation.
Some of the treasures include:
Of course, there are Norshtein‘s films: The Heron and the Crane and The Hedgehog in the Fog
There’s also Fyodor Khitruk‘s masterpiece Film, Film, Film as well as several of his Winnie the Pooh flms.
There are number of films by Edouard Nazarov including There Once Was A Dog.
There are classics like Ivan-Vano-Ivanov‘s The Little Hunchbacked Horse or The Stolen Sun.
Plenty (maybe too many) of the commercially successful Well, Just You Wait! films.
Get a taste of the Russian Roadrunner, then move on.
There are at a couple hundred films on this site. Spend some time.
Additionally, Niffiwan leads us to another site: Digital Cake which offers some other animated films (many are the same as his wiki.)
– I’m sad to report that Roy Disney died this morning. He would have been 80 on January 10th. He was battling cancer. The obvious connection to the family of the founders is going to be missed in the boardroom. I suggest you read Nikki Finke‘s commentary on his backroom career at the Disney of Eisner.
- Monday night there was the tribute to UPA that was hosted by the Motion Picture Academy and moderated by John Canemaker. A number of UPA-NY alumni gathered for the occasion. If you go here you can see a group photo of those artists in attendance.
The 35mm film prints were brilliant beyond my expectation. I think this is the first time I’ve actually seen the extra-ordinary colors of The Tell Tale Heart or Rooty Toot Toot. There was a point in the latter film when a character dissolves from white on light gray to a pale blue color. There are unbelievable white on whites of the final section of the film. It becomes such an amazing and daring choice by John Hubley when you can see that it wasn’t just a deteriorated print – which is the way I’ve seen this film my entire life – but a decision. Every inch of this film is a masterwork that only grows with every screening I see.
Attandance at the show wasn’t as good as I’d expected, but the theater was half full. Very few younger people. I suppose it’s not easy to compete with YouTube’s degenerated copies of these films. They offer the luxury of no effort.
Going to the show I realized that this is probably the last time in my life I’ll see these films projected with such loving care with prints as rich as they were in the original. Certainly, this is the last time the group of ex-UPA workers will be assembled and honored. Howard Beckerman, Tissa David, Vinnie Cafarelli, Ruth Mane, Edna Jacobs have all been a part of my life. Emily Hubley and her husband, Will, were also there. It was fun talking with them throughout the dinner afterward.
Here are some quick snaps (meaning bad quality, my apologies) of some of the guests.
1. Ruth Mane and Tissa David. 2. Edna Jacobs and Ruth Mane.
Here’s the program we received, front and back. Tissa mentioned that she would have liked to have seen some of the artists printed alongside the films.
(Click any image to enlarge.)
- Yesterday, I posted something about The Brave Little Tailor. I received an email from Tim Hodge saing that he had an original drawing from the film going on auction in January.
- “It’s part of a fundraiser to benefit my son who was in an auto vs train accident in August of this year. His recovery is ongoing, but slow. Being a self employed artist, our short term insurance was adequate for most things, but not quite something of this magnitude.”
You can check out his site here to get more information and to see other art for auction.
This is the drawing to be auctioned in January.
I think it’s a Frank Thomas drawing.