Monthly ArchiveApril 2009

Commentary 30 Apr 2009 07:22 am

In collusion with JULES ENGEL

Borge Ring sent a delightful letter, and here it is:

    In collusion with

    The Festival Jury is assessing LUXOR John Lasseter’s warm poetical film about an office lamp and its child.. Jury president John Halas clapping his hands proclaims: ”This is the victory of he computer, this is the victory of the computer”
    “No, it is not” sayz I.
    The head of Halas & Batchelor Brittain is baffled. “What do you mean?”
    “It is the victory of John Lasseter’s human warmth.”
    Halas retorts demandingly:”You don’t mean to say it could have been DRAWN?”

    Now this is a very tricky question that can be answered with YES or NO according to what you deem important: The play on your emotions or the magic of manipulatng numbers into stunning verissimilitude.

    I felt insecure about answering and looked around. Fellow juror Jules Engel whose omniscience in the matter understood the situation, looked intently at me from across the room and nodded a subtle, silent “Yes”.

    “Oh Yes, it could certainly have been drawn”, I say. Halas turns to Jules Engel: “” What do YOU say, Jules?” Jules Engel answers in a slow laid back academical manner: “I’d say Yes”


    ps: John Lasseter is an accomplished Disney trained animator. His mentor was Eric Larson the famous. I saw the film that Lasseter drew to round up his studies. It tells about a small boy who has nightmares. It would be nice to revisit it.

I haven’t seen Nitemare but hope to rectify that problem soon. Conse-quently, it’s tough for me to properly _________________Lasseter’s Nitemare
talk about it.

It’s obvious that John Lasseter has enormous respect for 2D animation; certainly his background would dictate that. The experimental piece he did on the Where the Wild Things test, done at Disney, shows a true attempt to combine 3D and 2D animation – at least for the Disney mold.

The piece, however primitive, did work in that you forgot you were watching 3D background animation – in the days when cgi was not so matter of fact. However, back then, the title made me think they were trying to destroy Maurice Sendak’s work by making it look like one of Peter Pan’s lost boys was starring in it. It was hard for me to make the leap (never mind the upcoming live action film by Spike Jonz) from the book to that film test.

We can also see the influence Myazaki has had on Lasseter, and hope for it to be something larger than Toy Story 3 or Cars 2. Perhaps 2012 will bring us something as sensitive as Luxo Jr.

Images of Luxo Jr. from Amid Amidi’s book: The Art of Pixar Short Films.

Books &Illustration &Luzzati & Gianini 29 Apr 2009 07:42 am

Luzzati’s Magic Fish

- Last week I posted a book byEmauele Luzzati, The Magic Flute. (Part 1, Part 2)

This was an adaptation of the feature film he did with Giulio Gianini. Luzzati also did a number of other children’s books (aside from all the animated films, as well as the theater and opera designs he did). None, that I know of, were pure adaptations of his film work. However, he did build on the character Pulcinello (Punch) to develop his story around Grimm tales.

Here’s a version of Punch and the Magic Fish, first published in English in 1972.
Most of the book is done as two-page spreads. I didn’t separate them. As with his past work, Luzzati uses a lot of mixed media. It looks like marker was the primary tool he used.

pg 1
(Click any image to enlarge.)

pgs. 2-3

pgs. 4-5

pgs. 6-7

pgs. 8-9

pgs. 10-11

pgs. 12-13

pgs. 14-15

pgs. 16-17

pgs. 18-19

pgs. 20-21

pgs. 22-23

pgs. 24-25

pgs. 26-27

pgs. 28-29

the back cover

Animation Artifacts &Disney &Frame Grabs &Story & Storyboards 28 Apr 2009 07:33 am

Some More Lady drawings

-Continuing with some of the sketches done for Lady and the Tramp and found on the DVD extras gallery (in a somewhat tiny screen size), here are some more pieces by a number of different artists over a number of different years. They all exhibit a life of their own that’s pleasant to visit. Very cartoon compared to the film they made.

(Click any image to enlarge.)

One more post of these to go. On Friday.

Animation Artifacts &Disney &Illustration &Story & Storyboards 27 Apr 2009 07:46 am

Some Lady drawings

- The recent DVD of Lady and the Tramp includes some preliminary artwork for the film. I collected a bunch of it and am breaking it into a couple of posts. It’s easier to read off a blog than a tv screen, especially when the DVD tries hard to reduce them to the smallest size they can muster within an overworked border that is virtually pointless.

The illustrations – some are obviously BG layouts, others storyboard drawings – have a light and jaunty feel. They’re very cartoon in nature, and belie the actual feature they produced which, at times, is quite beautiful. Disney truly got the feel of “Main Street, USA” in this film.

I’m interested that most of the images don’t take in Cinemascope (since they were probably done before the decision to go Scope.) Most of them are also fast drawings that don’t feature the Tramp as we know him, and even Lady takes on a different form.

You get the feeling this film was pushed out relatively quickly. The results are excellent, regardless. Sonny Burke and Peggy Lee wrote an excellent pop-song score that doesn’t quite capture the turn-of-the-century, but it does capture the atmosphere of early 50s USA.

This drawing is in B&W on the DVD, but it appears in
Bob Thomas’ 1958 book, “The Art of Animation.”

(Click any image to enlarge.)

Bg for The Princess and the Frog.

This looks not too different from a shot in Hitchcock’s Psycho.

We seem to be in the Little Golden Book territory
with some of these images.

An earlier and different view.

Or did I mean the New Yorker circa 1948?

I love weather and would have applauded more of it in the film.

To be continued tomorrow.

Photos 26 Apr 2009 12:05 pm


- This past week started with a deluge of rain that flooded the city overnight, Monday. The rain took a full four days to finally pull out of town, but when it did it left sun. On Thursday, it became obvious that Spring had finally sprung and touched the flowers of the city.

Steve Fisher caught this shot at the beginning of the week.
A real harbinger of Spring.

By all rights, the blossoms should have been blown from the tree,
but they held tight.

This NYU housing area seems well pruned for the season.

The flowers there are boldly vivid.

I had hoped that the flowers of Madison Square Park would be
as brilliant as they were last year, but I was quite disappointed.
Perhaps there were some cuts in staff, the economy being what it is.

However, nature takes its course and does work on its own.
Here some trees are in full blossom without much help.

The most ordinary of buildings have spruced up
their tiny lawns with the brightest of colors.

The trees that line the sidewalks, however meagre, seem to be in blossom
and the attitude on the street is positive and optimistic.

The trees take on verdant greens and the streets seem alive
after a long winter.

Even the most pedestrian of signs looks better.

Other signs slip into the background, if they weren’t already there.

Walking the city seems fun, just now.

Daily post 25 Apr 2009 07:55 am

We Got Shorts

New York is in Festival mode. The Tribeca Film Festival is here with all the flashiness that it’s offered in the past. I have to assume that there are some animated shorts playing in their festival, but I’ve had a hell of a time trying to find any via their website. Two or three titles included “Shrek”!!! Sorry.

I do know that George Griffin has a film, The Bather, playing as part of the Shorts in Competition: Documentary.

    The Festival guide includes this description: A woman is observed showering behind a translucent curtain. Gradually the view is obscured by a superimposed flipbook: a sequence of drawings of a dancing woman. As a harpsichord prelude interrupts the environment of natural sounds, the dancer is freed from the pages and cavorts in a multiplicity of erotic gestures as if propelled by the throbbing contrapuntal tempo. Moving through the overlapping images a string of words suggests sources, motives, and memories.

    The schedule for this short is:
    4/23 9:45pm AMC Village VII 4
    4/30 4:15pm AMC Village VII 7
    5/2 6:15pm AMC Village VII 7
    5/3 5:30pm Tribeca Cinemas theater 1


At the same time, the BEFilm Underground Film Festival graces what few theaters are left in the city. Here’s the schedule for shorts playing about town. I’ve highlighted some films by local stars.

    Tuesday April 28, 7- 9PM
    The Dolby Screening Room / 1350 Ave. of the Americas

    The Lost Tribes of New York City (2mn), Animation, Carolyn & Andy London
    You’re Outa Here (3mn), Animation, Dir. Georges Griffin

    Majken (28mn), Narrative,
    Dir. Andrea Ostlund
    Unnatural History of Wall Street (1mn) Animation, Dir.Gary Lieb
    Waste (11mn), Narrative, Dir. Bragi Thor Hinrikson
    Test (12mn), Narrative, Dir. Marta Aledo & Natalia Mateo
    Birth (12mn), Animation, Dir. Signe Baumane
    This is Her (12mn), Narrative, Dir. Katie Wolfe
    Spore 3D (2min), Spec, Dir. Isaiah Saxon and Sean Hellfritsch
    Mandala 3D (4 min), Experimental, Dir. Paul Aaron Johnson
    Bjork – Wanderlust (6 min), Music film, Dir. Isaiah Saxon and Sean

    Wednesday April 29, 7- 9PM
    The Disney Screening Room / 500 Park Ave (SW Corner of 59th St)

    Mother’s Day (2mn), Animation, Dir. David Lobser
    Tony Zoreill (20mn), Narrative, Dir. Valentin Potier
    Missed Aches (4mn), Animation, Dir. Joanna Priestley
    The Nail (15mn), Narrative, Dir. Benedikt Eslingsson
    Procrastination (4mn), Animation, Dir. John Kelly
    Success (10mn), Narrative, Dir. Diederik Ebbinge
    This Way Up (9mn), Animation, Dir. Smith & Foulkes
    Life is Hard (20mn), Narrative, Dir. Gabriel Sirbu
    Life On A Limb (6mn), Animation, Dir. David Chai
    Come Coco 3D (5 min), animation/live action, Dir. Santiago Caicedo

    Thursday April 30, 7- 9PM
    The Disney Screening Room / 500 Park Ave (SW Corner of 59th St)

    Photo (10mn), Animation, Dir. Maryam Kalilzade
    Mutt (7mn), Animation, Dir. Glen Hunwick
    Out of The Blue (10mn), Narrative, Dir. Michael Lavelle
    Just In Case (5mn), Animation, Dir. Joshua Frankel
    The C in Allah (5mn), Documentary, Dir. Eileen White
    Brothers in Arms (4mn), Animation, Dir. Elliot Cowan
    On The Road To Tel-Aviv (19mn), Narrative, Dir. Khen Shalem
    Dany Cohen’s Bengay (1mn), Spec, Dir. Willy Hartland
    Les Vulnerables (14mn), Narrative, Dir. Bent – Jorgen Perlmutt
    Global Warming (2mn), Animation, Dir. Igor Coric
    Skylight (5mn), Animation,Dir. David Baas
    Remember My Name (12mn), Narrative, Dir. Bo Duffy

    Thursday April 30, 7- 9PM
    The Gershwin Hotel Screening Room / 7 East 27th St.

    Oscar Wilde/Company of Thieves (5mn), Music Video, Dir. Jason Hinkie
    People Are Animals (2mn), Animation, Dir. Chris Papa
    The Japanese Sandman (11mn), Narrative, Dir. Ed Buhr
    Little Face (10mn), Narrative, Dir. Matthew Walker & Benjamin Lole
    Feast (3mn), Animation, Dir. Jihyun Ahn & Adel Kerpely
    Spacemen Three (13mn), Narrative, Dir. Hugh O¹Conor
    Dog With Electric Collar (6mn), Animation, Dir. Steve Baker
    6.5 Minutes in Tel Aviv (6.5mn), Narrative, Dir. Mirie Baraness
    Dany Cohen’s Rhinestones (1mn), Spec, Dir. Willy Hartland
    Coal Spell (8mn), Animation, Dir. Sun Xun
    Jukka (12mn), Experimental, Dir. Emmanuel Trousse
    Hope Springs Eternal (7mn), Animation, Dir. Ron Noble
    Orange Juice (12mn), Narrative, Dir. Ronan Moucheboeuf
    Galaxy 3D (3 min), animation, Dir. Santiago Caicedo
    A Sign(6mn), Narrative, Dir. Josephine Mackerras

    Friday May 1, 7- 9PM
    The Disney Screening Room / 500 Park Ave (SW Corner of 59th St)

    Glory To The Conquerors of Space 3D (7mn), Animation, Dir. Ryan Suits
    Breaking and Entering 3D (3mn), Experimental, Dir. Korinna McRobert
    Breath (2mn), Experimental, Dir. John Thompson
    Lost & Found (5mn), Narrative, Dir. Catherine Bolliet & Jerry Chen
    CU@ED’S (13mn), Narrative, Dir. Casey Stangl
    Santa: The Fascist Years (4mn), Animation, Dir. Bill Plympton
    Kate Wakes (17mn), Narrative, Dir. Jasmine Kosovic
    Sleeping World (30 s), Spec, Dir. George Kyrtsis
    Caught In The Net (10mn), Narrative, Dir. Stephanie Kleinhenz
    Couch Therapy (1mn), Spec, Dir. Jen McGowan
    Vandalen (16mn), Narrative, Dir. Simon Steuri
    Red Rabbit (8mn), Animation, Dir. Egmont Mayer
    Side Effects (9mn), Narrative, Dir. Chuck Rose
    Animated American (15mn), Narrative, Dir. Joe Haidar
    Surprise (18mn), Narrative, Dir. Fabrice Maruca

    Saturday May 2, 7- 9PM
    The Dolby Screening Room / 1350 Ave. of the Americas


    Bonaroo 3D (2min), Spec, Dir. Elliot Jokelson
    Downlove 3D (7 min), narrative/experimental, Dir. Euripides Laskarides
    Porque Hay Cosas (12mn), Narrative, Dir. Lucas Figueroa
    Descendants (10mn), Animation, Dir. Helko Van Der Scher
    The Thaw (6.5mn), Narrative, Dir. Jean Francois Nadeau
    KJFG #5 (2mn), Animation, Dir. Alexei Alexeev
    Struck (7mn), Narrative, Dir. Taron Lexton
    That Hand Film(1mn), Animation, Dir. Adam Ansorge
    Uncovered (15mn), Narrative, Dir. Matthew Linnell
    Germans In The Woods (3mn), Animation, Dir. Rauch Brothers
    Made In Japan (5mn), Narrative, Dir. Ciro Altabas
    Poker (.5mn), Spec, Dir. Irene Borrego
    Pal/Secam (15mn), Narrative, Dir. Dmitri Povolotsky
    The Royal Nightmare (4mn), Animation, Dir. Alex Budovsky


    Awards Ceremony


My favorite post of the day comes from one of my favorite blogs, Blather from Brooklyn by Annulla. Take a look at the little gems she has posted.

Animation Artifacts &Commentary &Hubley 24 Apr 2009 07:37 am

Up Up and Away

– Yesterday’s NYTimes blog, The Carpetbagger, featured a short piece on the expansion at Pixar. The source of the Times’ information was the Pixar Blog which admits to the construction. The cost of construction, “does not include labour and other associated costs, which will undoubtedly run into the millions of dollars also.”

They then go on to add that the rest of the Disney studio is laying off workers, while they, Pixar, are expanding.
Très generous.

The Times comments: “But it’s hard to argue that Pixar is being in any way excessive with these plans. The studio, acquired by Disney in 2006 for $7.4 billion, has been planning the expansion for years, and desperately needs it: its current space, while opulent by some standards, is crammed far beyond its designed capacity.”


Mark Osborne, one of the co-directors of Kung Fu Panda, reminisces on AWN about classes with Jules Engel at CalArts. This is a heartfelt piece that I enjoyed reading. If you haven’t found it yet, you might take a glance. The piece was written to coincide with the celebration of Jules’ work which was held last Sunday; fortunately the words live past that date.

I like the fact that there are groups keeping Jules’ name alive. Aside from the positive comments from past students, there is also the Jules Engel Appreciation Group on Facebook. I wish some of the other important figures in animation’s history had equal attention. Maybe that’s part of my reason for writing on this blog.


- To that end, let me share these four drawings by John Hubley of a baby for a Ruffles commercial. I haven’t seen the spot, done in the late 60s, but I have seen lots of toddlers drawn by Hubley. It’s amazing how different all of them are. Each child has a real personality and charm that I find extraordinary. How many kids have we seen in the past twenty or so years in Disney/Dreamworks/Pixar/Bluth features that are all so identical. Their feature films like to post the names of all the production babies at the end of their films, but I’m not sure any of the animators actually see their babies, at least based on the characters we’ve seenanimated. (Think of that cloying cliché of a toddler in the otherwise excellent short, One Man Band.)

I haven’t found two such tykes from Hubley’s hand that resemble each other – or other cartoon children.

(Click any image to see the full animation drawing page.)

A decent animator can’t help but know what to do with such models.

Commentary &Photos 23 Apr 2009 07:36 am


God, we were so innocent back then.
I’m not sure if that was better or worse.

Articles on Animation &Daily post 22 Apr 2009 07:37 am

Norstein’s Words

- Animatsaya in English is a site I visit frequently even though it doesn’t change that frequently. It’s a site that gives a good insiders view of Russian animation. Currently, I think they’re doing some of the best animation worldwide. Not too long ago, Niffiwan, the site’s host, offered a translation of a Russian article about the effect of the financial crisis on Russian animation. Naturally, the results were devastatingly bad.

However, toward the end of the piece, several prominent animators were asked their opinion, and I thought that Yurij Norstein offered some valuable words. Hence, I repost them here:

    It has always been difficult for an artist, but today is doubly difficult. Always difficult, because the artist, in general, is a person who finds it difficult to live with himself. Today is doubly hard, because the lack of money and the constant attention to the question of “how to get money” kills art by half.

    But it is also obvious that it is very difficult without a community. If we lose each other, then we will all be worth one kopek, and it is unlikely that we are individually worth something and can do something. I, of course, am talking about my own experiences at “Soyuzmultfilm”. And although we did not have ideal relations, though we argued with each other, we were still a community, and our only desire, emotional and mental, was to make a film be as good as possible.

    The last thing we thought about was the market, what would sell … If you remember, say, the Renaissance, an artist back then sought primarily to make something. This is why the artist must be at the head of everything.

I suggest you visit the site and read the entire article. Things in your community may not be as bleak as you thought.


- Jeff Scher has one of his lively animation pieces in the NYTimes, in case you haven’t seen it recently. This is an ode to Spring. “Welcome Back.” It’s another excellent spot by Jeff, and I urge you to view it. We have to support the animation on newspaper sites. It’s the way of the future, and the newspapers should know it. The only way that can happen is for the pieces to get hits. Go there.


- Thad Komorowski has some positive words about a Fox & Crow cartoon, (they’re not easy to find) and Bob Jaques has an excellent post about Paramount animator, Tom Golden.

Animation &Animation Artifacts 21 Apr 2009 06:35 am

L&T Meatballs

- Here’s some photographed drawings from The Lady & The Tramp meatball sequence.
These are taken from a photostat I have which was prepared for some book publication.
I don’t know if it ever made it to the book, but the drawings are too sterling to ignore.
I believe Frank Thomas animated the dogs and John Lounsbery the humans, and there are frame grabs of this sequence in John Canemaker‘s book, Disney’s Nine Old Men.

(Click on any image to enlarge.)

Here’s a beautiful cel set-up from Bob Cowan‘s collection.
Though it’s obvious the background is from another scene,
there’s an odd connection between the two that works for me.
Just another gem found on his great art blog.

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