Monthly ArchiveSeptember 2006

Animation &Daily post 30 Sep 2006 07:28 am


The new issue of PRINT Magazine has a couple of interesting articles. The ever-at-the-forefront-of-animation-news John Canemaker tells the story of The OpenEnded Group – Shelley Eshkar, Marc Downie, and Paul Kaiser – three artists who use the next technology of computer programming to create virtual dance programs in conjunction with some highly esteeemed dance companies (including Trisha Brown and Merce Cunningham) and performance groups.

An illustration from the article.
(Click to enlarge.)

This past summer they used “artificial intelligence” to reconstruct the coda of Mozart’s Jupiter Symphony in a commission for Lincoln Center.

Canemaker’s article goes into some depth giving a good indication of the work of these artists.

- Secondly, the magazine has an article on NY Animator and designer, PES and talks about some of his films while using an impressive display of images to illustrate the article.

- Turner Classic Movies this morning at 11:30 AM has another episode of Cartoon Alley. It features three Popeye cartoons: Can You Take It (1934), which stars the voice of William Costello as Popeye, Child Psykolojiky (1941), one of the last Fleischer Popeyes, and Car-azy Drivers (1954) directed by Seymour Kneitel.

Daily post &Festivals 28 Sep 2006 05:41 pm


- Thanks to my good friend, David Levy, the award my film, The Man Who Walked Between The Towers, won at the Ottawa 2006 Festival made it into my hands. I had to leave the festival early, and David was kind enough to thank the judges for me and truck the award back home. (I can imagine what could have happened going through customs.)

The actual award (which came with a neat paper document) is a Phenakistiscope. Hold it up to a mirror spin while looking through the slits, and you should see the animated lady. There’s a beautiful green patina covering the bronze of the sculpture. Engraved into it are the words, “Ottawa 2006.” It’s neat.

Since I didn’t get to make a speech, I’d like to thank four people, again. Matt Clinton and Tissa David did the more brilliant animation in the film. Paul Carrillo did some poetic editing. Christine O’Neill managed the whole film and studio wonderfully. Thanks to them all.

And thanks to Chris Robinson and all at the Ottawa Animation Festival. It was a blast, and I have a great souvenir.

– There are other good reviews of the festival by Amid at Cartoon Brew and Mark Mayerson at his site, Ward Jenkins at the DRAWN site, and Bill Robinson at his.

- Suzan Pitt’s film El Doctor premiered on PBS, NY Wednesday night and will be rebroadcast this Saturday, September 30 at 2:30 p.m. Check local listings to see if it’s on in your area. I enjoyed the film.

- Tom Sito has a good article on the history of Animation Schooling. It’s interesting to see how things have grown from earlier days. Even from my earlier days.

- Another cgi animated animal feature opens today. Open Season gets a passing grade of *** stars in the NYDaily News, a negative from the NY POST (“NOBODY can accuse Sony Pictures Ani mation of aiming high with its maiden offering“) and a not-so-passing grade in the NYTimes. The opening line of the Times includes: … the 3-D Imax version, can’t disguise that this is just another movie full of jive-talking computer-generated animals with little new to say. Ouch.

Animation &Animation Artifacts 28 Sep 2006 08:16 am

Merryweather Followup

- Here’s a followup to yesterday’s Merryweather dance. These are the frame grabs from the scene in the cottage featuring the Frank Thomas drawings posted yesterday.

Frank Thomas often complained about Eyvind Earle’s color design. He disliked the fact that the fairies had a black bodice. He was especially peeved over this sequence, and I heard him talk about it at least three times. He felt this anchored them to much to the ground and weighed them down. I’m not sure I agree with him; I think the character moves beautifully and retains the weightlessness he sought.

Animation &Animation Artifacts 27 Sep 2006 07:21 am

Merryweather Dance

– I’ve enjoyed sharing some of the animation drawings I own via this site, and I hope to keep doing it. The drawings, to me, are so valuable in that they reveal the personality of the animators, even more than the finished films.

I have a bunch of copies of drawings by Frank Thomas from Sleeping Beauty. It’s the sequence in which the three fairies, within the hidden cabin in the forest, use magic to create a dress for Aurora.

Below, on the right, are some of the roughs from this scene. On the left are the final cleanups.

(Click on any image to enlarge.)


Daily post 26 Sep 2006 07:24 am

Laughing Places

- Disney doesn’t intend to release Song of the South anytime soon, but you can find the animated segments on line at Animation ID, Thad Komorowski‘s site.

See Part 1Brer Rabbit Runs Away, Part 2 The Tar Baby, or Part 3 Brer Rabbit’s Laughin’ Place.

These all line up with Mike Barrier‘s September 18th posting of the drafts.

Thanks, Thad. This is a nice copy of the film, and it’s good to see it again.

– The ASIFA-Hollywood Animation Archive has put up a nice posting by John Kricfalusi focussing on the “stars” of The Flintstones (read: Artists behind the scenes.)

These comments actually come from The Flintstones Laserdisc set, but it’s good to have them on line, including clips to back up the comments. We don’t all have Laserdiscs, and it’s great having accessibility to them.

Festivals 25 Sep 2006 04:15 pm

A Fine Festival

- I arrived at the Ottawa Animation Festival a day late. I’d also have to leave a day early, so I found out after-the-fact that my film, The Man Who Walks Between The Towers, won the award for Best Children’s Short Film. A bonus treat.

This Festival is one of my favorites, and I enjoy attending it so that I can catch up with a lot of friends I see too infrequently, meet some filmmakers whose work I admire, and even catch up with some New Yorkers I don’t see often enough. This Festival is not too large, like Annecy, where you end up exhausted running ragged unable to keep up, nor is it too small that you spend much time trying to find things to do.

There are parties every night. Usually, I go and leave quickly. The thumping music, large crowds, dark lights, flashing spotlights and pulsating sound pushes me out. I understand the attraction, but I’m getting old. Give me some quiet conversation. This year an alternate to the parties was “Chez Ani” set up in a local bar filled with Constructivist Art posters and a manageable sound level with just the right crowd capacity to make things light but engender talk.

I met up with a lot of old friends I see too rarely. Some of these included: Amid Amidi, Mark Mayerson, Suzan Pitt, Jerry Beck, Emru Townsend, John Halfpenny, Janet Perlman, Skip Battaglia, Tamu Townsend, and Chris Robinson, himself.
There were new people to meet: Sabine Hitier, Julie Zammarchi, Peter Barg, David Nethery, Andrew Menter, John Libbey, and Konstantin Bronzit.
And there were the New Yorkers I see too infrequently: David Levy, George Griffin, Jeff Scher, Chris Boyce, and Pilar Newton. (I met too many people to mention, so please forgive if you don’t see your name.)

I always like the film selection at this Festival. It’s a touch on the dark side, which is generally to my taste. Some of the films I’d seen for the first time and enjoyed included:
Sabine Hitier’s Step By Step, Svetlana Filippova’s Sarah’s Tale, Regina Pessoa’s Tragic Story With Happy Ending, Simon Narath’s Leviathan, Run Wracke’s Rabbit, and Michaela Pavlatova’s The Carnival of the Animals.
Films I’d seen before but enjoyed revisiting included: George Griffin’s It Pains Me To Say This, Suzan Pitt’s El Doctor, Skip Battaglia’s Crossing The Stream, those United Airline ads, and Pes’ Game Over. Actually there were too many good ones to include.

All in all it was a fine Festival with many highlights. I’m glad I went and I can’t wait to get my hands on the award. Thanks to Dave Levy for accepting it for me; I couldn’t have found a better surrogate.

Here are some snaps I took. Excuse the focus problems. I bought the camera on Wednesday and still haven’t quite figured it out.

1 2
1. The National Arts Center is the center of the Festival after Friday. Most screenings, meetings, and events are held here.
2. Chateau Laurier is the hotel where the Television Arts Conferences are held. Daily meetings and talks about the business side of animation.

3 4
3. On Friday double-decker busses took us to this tent on the outskirts of town for the picnic. A lot of people are occupied with carving pumpkins for competion.
4. Inside, two lines of food are set up: sandwiches, chili, cake, beer. What more could we need?

5 6
5. David Levy and Chris Boyce, with whom I ate, finishing their cake and beer.
6. In the mornings there’s a Q&A for filmmakers about their films. Tom Warburton and Kihachiro Kawamoto appear out of focus (a bad photographer) but their answers were sharp.

7 8
7. Amid Amidi signs books on Friday night in the lobby of the National Arts Center.
8. Dave Levy and Chris Robinson sign books on Saturday evening. Chris’ publisher, John Libbey, confers with him.

9. Jerry Beck and Robert Marianetti wait nearby for the start of the final shorts competition screening on Saturday.
10. The road from my taxi as I left on Sunday at 3:30 am. Long customs lines, stopovers in Philadelphia, lost and missing luggage all contributed to the Festival experience.

Animation Artifacts &UPA 24 Sep 2006 12:22 pm

NYTimes & UPA

- I came across a couple of articles I found in the NYTimes and was entertained by them.
The second one (posted & chronologically) was one Grim Natwick had saved and which ended up in my hands.

It’s entertaining in that it reveals an enormous number of feature projects that UPA had planned doing. John Hubley had obviously given an extensive interview in that article which was timed to try to draw as much publicity around the Oscar nomination of Rooty Toot Toot. Toward the end of the article he talks about possible features they were hoping to do. I think this was probably more Hubley’s plan than UPA’s.

A little more digging, and I found I’d had another less interesting article (#1) published a year earlier by the same writer.

#1 #2

Daily post &Festivals 20 Sep 2006 01:14 pm

Ottawa & Claude

– This will be my last post until I return from Ottawa on Sunday. I look forward to meeting a lot of new folks there and seeing some great films.

This has been a difficult week, and I’ll be glad to get away for a few days. Hopefully, the Yankees will clinch the pennant while I’m gone. I’ll miss the champagne celebration.

While I’m gone, I’ve decided to be emotional and let my Claude have the spotlight.

Today, was his Dancing Day. He died in my arms this morning.

Daily post &Festivals 19 Sep 2006 07:52 am

Bruno and Ottawa

- In 1976 the first edition of the Ottawa Animation Festival was held. I attended with a contingent of people who were working on Raggedy Ann & Andy, and we were there to be inspired, see a lot of great films and have a good time. One of those times when you felt connected to everyone there.

Bruno Bozzetto‘s , Allegro Non Troppo was a special midnight screening on the program. A surprise screening; a feature none of us had heard about.
(Click to enlarge.)

Of course, we all knew the work of Bruno Bozzetto. He was undoubtedly a master of comic animation. His films had won enormous prizes everywhere, and his output was large. There’d been many screenings of his films through ASIFA-East, and they were always popular.

The screening was one of the brightest I’ve ever sat through. It was hilarious, beautifully animated, and intelligent. The audience came out excited about animation, alive, and encouraged to party. It was a memorable night and it helped make that festival one of the stand-out Festivals I’d ever attended. I’m sure many there would say the same.

Now the question I have is whether the films of that 1976 festival were as great as I remember or that specific Festival so great? Or was it both? Caroline Leaf‘s masterpiece, The Street, won the grand prize and most of the films were brilliant (including Caroline’s other film The Owl Who Married a Goose.
Allegro Non Troppo just served as the enormous cherry on top of the cake. It was a grand festival and I always hope that others I attend will reach that level.

I look forward to the coming Ottawa Animation Festival starting Wednesday, Sept. 20th. Bruno Bozzetto is both a judge and the recipient of a retrospective of his work. Maybe this will be the one that will match the first.

Tonight ASIFA-East will present a screening of Allegro Non Troppo.
I was scheduled to moderate a Q&A with Bruno Bozzetto, but due to some personal problems of mine Candy Kugel will host it. She’s graciously stepped in to help me out at the last moment, and I have to thank her enormously.
At 6:30 pm – The School of Visual Arts, 209 East 23rd Street, 3rd floor amphitheatre. Admission is FREE.

Daily post 18 Sep 2006 07:53 am

A Memorable Screening

– In 1988 the Festival Int’l Del Cartone Animato in Treviso, Italy sponsored a retrospective of a number of my films. (Many were dubbed into Italian; it was hilarious watching Dr. DeSoto with a Mickey Mouse sound-a-like for his Italian voice.) There was a very full audience.

My film, Abel’s Island was almost complete, and I was showing a rough cut with a separate soundtrack. The obvious happened; the film was projected out of sync. It was maybe ten frames out. I knew the film was mostly VO narration and sync wouldn’t be too critical once lip sync stopped. I was prepared to accept the inevitable.

However, five mins. into the film, in the dark, Bruno Bozzetto whispered loudly to me that we had to fix it. Together we ran out of the theater – film still playing.

Bruno led me up two flights of stairs – running all the way – to the projection booth. He loudly and excitedly made the projectionist understand. The film slowed down to a stop when the projectionist shut the film off. Together we worked and reworked and reworked – as quickly as we could – getting the two separate soundtracks into sync with the third reel, the picture. The projector was turned on again, and Bruno and I ran back to our seats.

The end result was that I had a memorable screening. Bruno Bozzetto, after all, was concerned and took it on himself to correct the projection. A great adventure – during the screening. What a blast!
(The photo comes from Bruno’s website. He’s obviously in Disneyland.)

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