Monthly ArchiveJuly 2011
Photos 31 Jul 2011 07:25 am
- As any follower of this blog knows, I am a fan of the thousands of Psychics that fill New York’s stores and streets. I have always been intrigued with them, and only when I’d read a New Yorker article about 12 years ago (I haven’t been able to relocate it) did I learn what those people were doing in there and how they were paying their rent. (Mostly selling crystals.)
Lately, all those storefront shops have been moving upstairs. I’m sure the rents are enormous for them to cover and available space is probably a problem. There seems to be a predilection, these days, for the Psychics to move on up to the 2nd floor of buildings. This means they have to get attention downstairs – passing out flyers, having big signs that you could trip over, and taking out cheap newspaper ads.
I photographed a few of these 2nd floor psychics and present them here.
This is one store I noticed up on 46th Street as I was coming home from the theater.
There are quite a few others. You just have to keep looking up.
- A month ago, I did a post on the use of the multiplane camera in Peter Pan. Thanks to some comments and questions by Milt Gray, I was made to question whether the flying sequence from the feature was done with multiplane or many-leveled out-of-focus-painted clouds. One quote in Bob Thomas’ original book, The Art of Animation, settled the question for me. In listing some of the great sequences done using the multiplane, Thomas lists this flying sequence: “Another memorable sequence: the flight over London in ‘Peter Pan,’ with the runaways (or flyaways) sailing through the clouds. The scene was painted by Claude Coats.”
But now, Hans Bacher, on his brilliant site One1more2time3′s asks the question again. This time Hans, in his stunning way, has reconstructed the enormous Bg of this scene, then reconstructs the layout of the scene (with its many complicated rotations and pans), and finally details why he believes it did not use the multiplane camera. This is an amazing post and is throughly deserving of a long look at what Hans has constructed. I’m in awe.
A layout posted on Hans Bacher’s blog
But that Thomas quote still keeps me questioning it. After all Thomas would have been writing the book in 1957 or 58, and surely the people involved in this scnre were among those Thomas spoke to. In fact, Claude Coats is given some strong attention in the book. Would he have gotten it wrong to call the scene a multiplane camera scene? I’m not convinced.
- Leo Sullivan and Floyd Norman have teamed together to work on an animated short about the Tuskagee Airmen. The short, titled The Tuskegee Redtails, has just been posted to Kickstarter; the film makers are seeking to raise $55,000 for the production.
Some of the description given on Kickstarter reads:
- The Tuskegee airmen were so called because most of the African American pilots were trained at Tuskegee University in Alabama during the 1940s. Through their bravery and actions, the Tuskegee airmen joined the ranks of other patriotic Americans who defended the United States of America against the Axis military powers during World War 2.
The animated short will take a snapshot in time of the Tuskegee airmen obstacles and achievements.
The film will be “an animated short in 2D combined with CGI animation approximately 20 minutes.”
- Leo Sullivan‘s bio reads: “Leo Sullivan is the President/CEO of Leo Sullivan Multimedia, Inc. a California S-Corporation which produces educational and entertaining media for children ages 5 to 17 years. Prior to incorporating his company, Leo worked in the animation industry as an animator, layout and storyboard artist, director, and producer for various companies which included Hanna-Barbera, Warner Brothers, Spunbuggy Works, Campbell/Silver/Cosby and others. ”
Floyd Norman‘s bio reads: “Floyd has contributed his talent to motion pictures, television shows and comic books for over fifty years. He has the distinction of having worked with the Old Maestro himself when the boss recruited him for the story team on what would become Walt Disneyʼs final motion picture.
A veteran story development artist, Norman has worked as an animator and story artist on at least a dozen films for both Walt Disney Studios and Pixar Animation Studios.”
I’d recommend that everyone take a look at their proposal and help out if you can. You can give as little as $5, if you’re able and would like to.
It’s interesting that just today George Lucas’ film, Red Tails, announced its opening. On January 20, 2012 the film will open, according to this NYTimes article. I hope the announcement brings added attention to Mr. Sullivan and Mr. Norman’s film.
- This week some attention was paid by the animation community when they learned that the comic srip, Mutts, has been singled out to become a future feature with cartoonist/author Patrick McDonnell writing the script with his brother, Robert McDonell. This was the story from The Hollywood Reporter.
We had the good fortune a couple of years ago of doing a one minute animated piece for King Features Syndicate. We followed the look of the strip very closely and had a lot of fun doing it. Patrick McDonell was quite involved in the production asking for a number of good changes. If ever there were a strip made to be a 2D animated film, Mutts is it. he film will be made by 20th Century Fox. Does that mean it’ll look more like the Blue Sky films’ Horton Hears a Who, or will it be like Marmaduke and Garfield? (Meaning a live action film with animated characters.)
Hopefully, Blue Sky will do the animation if it’s cgi. At least they bring a little dignity to their work. Though we all know it should be a 2D film, but the Republicans are dominating the conversation in D.C. and cgi is dominating the conversation in animation.
All stills, here, are frame grabs from our spot.
-Previously, I’ve posted a couple of short chapters from the great Arnold Roth book, A Comick Book of Pets.
You can see this chapter on cats posted a couple of weeks ago.
Arnold Roth was born in 1929 in Philadelphia, Pa. He attended public school and was awarded a scholarship to art school. He started free lancing in 1951 and continues to do so. Mr. Roth has had cartoons published in The New Yorker, Time Magazine, Sports Illustrated, Playboy, Punch and the NY Times. He’s worked briefly in animation for John Hubley and Phil Kimmelman. He currently lives in Manhattan with his wife and two sons.
This was sent to me by Bill Peckmann for posting. Many thanks to him for this generous contribution.
- Bill Peckmann has sent me a stash of original comic book covers for the Walt Disney’s Comics and Stories. There are 20 in all, and they all are beautifully drawn and colored. It’s a real charge to see them; for the most part they’re the work of Walt Kelly, and it’s great to see how his comic styling develops. Bill wrote the following about them:
- The issues of “Walt Disney’s Comics and Stories” are in order of publication, it’s not a complete run but it is a fun one. Being the number one selling title of it’s day, it’s easy to see why some of the kids put their names on the covers, I’m guessing they didn’t want to lose them or trade them off by mistake. (Trading comics and bubble gum cards in those days was always going on, easy way to save money.)
All of the covers were done by Walt Kelly, except the very first one (August 1942, “Goldfish Bowl”), that was done by Al Taliaferro, long time Donald Duck newspaper strip artist.
Here are the covers from December 1945 to May 1947.
(Click any image to enlarge.)
As I pointed out a couple of weeks back, I’m going forward with recap posts of the Tytla scenes I’d previously posted. They should be seen and studied often. They’re too good.
- Here’s a scene all of 29 drawings in length, but if you check it out in the film it’s enormous. Everything’s moving – the wagon they’re standing in, the pots & pans, things on the table and most definitely Stromboli who in one enormous drawing changes the scene, Pinocchio’s world and the mood in the audience. “Quiet!” is all the dialogue shouted in the scene. It”s frightening.
(Make sure you click to enlarge every drawing here.)
The following QT movie represents the entire scene from Pinocchio.Click left side of the black bar to play.
Right side to watch single frame.
Here are frames from the actual scene:
What a difference the shake of the coach and the
bounce of the hanging utensils make to the scene.
There’s danger everywhere, here.
Many thanks to my friend, Lou Scarborough, for the loan of this scene.
- At last, we’ve reached the final part of the Carl Barks Donald Duck story, “Sheriff of Bullet Valley”. This is one of the most treasured of the Donald comics, and thanks to Bill Peckmann‘s sending the book, we can get to see it all of a piece.
You can visit part 1 & part 2 on this blog in the past two weeks.
Let’s start with another oil painting by Carl Barks adapted from the cover of this magazine. It’s from “The Fine Art Of Walt Disney’s Donald Duck.”
“The Sheriff of Bullet Valley” (18″x24″)
The handling of this third version of Bullet Valley is close to the original comic book
cover and truly conveys the ominous atmosphere of the showdown scene.
Now here’s the remainder of the story, The Sheriff of Bullet Valley.
We pick up where Part 2 left off . . .
To fill out this post Bill Peckmann had sent another couple of one-page gags. Here’s his additional note:
- Here are the two end page gags done in the original two color format which looks great as well as the back cover gag done in full color, which also looks terrific. When we were kids, all of us “Good Duck Artist” fans, (Remember at that time we didn’t know the name of the cartoonist who drew our favorite DD stories) would have loved to have seen a whole DD comic printed and colored on cover stock (like back cover gags) and not on the ratty, pulp newsprint paper. Unfortunately now, when comic book reprint albums are printed on quality paper, the coloring is so ham fisted, they loose so much of the essence of the original book, especially Barks’ beautiful line work. It’s probably better to see it in it’s original black and white but then something else seems to be missing. (There are some people you just can’t seem to please!)
Thanks again to Bill Peckmann in sharing his library with us.
- Having visited the multiplane camera scenes of SNOW WHITE, I can only see the usefulness of going to the keystone of the camera, “The Old Mill.” It’s on this lyrical and beautifully produced short that they admittedly devised the idea of testing the multiplane camera in action. However, in an interview I’ve read with director, Wilfred Jackson, we find that the camera wasn’t available for much of this film. It was being tied up with a number of shots from SNOW WHITE. The interview is by David Johnson posted on American Artist‘s site. Here’s the passage I’d read:
- DJ: Since you worked on The Old Mill, you were involved with the multiplane camera. Can you tell me about Garity [the co-inventor] and the invention of this thing and some of the problems and miracles that it did.
WJ: What I can tell you about my experiences with it was the The Old Mill was supposed to be a test of the mutiplane, to see if it worked. Somehow, we were so held up in working on The Old Mill by assignments of animators because Snow White was in work at that time and animators that I should have had were pulled away just before I got to them and other animators were substituted because Snow White got preference on everything. And we got our scenes planned and worked out for the multiplane effects and by that time some of the sequences on Snow White were being photographed. The multiplane camera itself had all kinds of bugs in it that had to be worked out. We were held up until so late that I actually did work on another short – I don’t remember which short. I don’t even remember if I finished it up – did work on some other picture to keep myself busy while we could get facilities to go ahead on The Old Mill. By the time they had got the bugs out of the multiplane camera, they had multiplane scenes for Snow White to shoot and they got it busy on those first. Finally in order to get The Old Mill out the scenes that had been planned for multiplane had to be converted to the flat camera to do the best they could. You won’t find more than a very few multiplane scenes in The Old Mill.
DJ: I wasn’t aware of that.
WJ: I’ve had messed up schedules on pictures but I’ve never had a more messed up one than I can remember for The Old Mill.
So, of course, I’ve searched for scenes that I believe are definitely part of the shoot done on Garity’s vertical Multiplane Camera.
The film is little more than a tone poem of an animated short. It’s about as abstract a film as you’d find coming out the Disney studio in the 30s.
Let’s take a look at some frame grabs from the film, itself:
We open on a slightly-out-of-focus mill with a spider’s web
filling the screen, glistening in focus, in the foreground.
Here, we cut to a long pan up the mill using the multiplane. The lighting in this scene is inconsistent. There are flares and glares and some minor jerks to the artwork. No doubt this was done on the multiplane camera, and it would have been reshot if there were time and money.
I couldn’t hook up the artwork to simulate the pan since overlays from one frame didn’t match the next. It was all moving with multiple levels (maybe five?) and they didn’t match from one frame to the next.
The shot starts from the top of the mill looking down on the birds.
At this point there is a cut outside to bats fleeing the Old Mill for the night.
Gustaf Tenggren made some preproduction drawings of this scene which can be found in John Canemaker‘s book, Before the Animation Begins which in itself is something of a tone poem of a book devoted to many of the designers at the Disney studio.
Now here are frame grabs from the film, itself.
Photos 24 Jul 2011 06:50 am
- The artists are always there first. In NYC, they settled in the 60s in Soho, just south of Greenwich Village where lots of warehouses & factories stood. Lots of galleries built around them, and the rents suddenly went high. The artists moved to Williamsburg in Brooklyn (just across the East River), a Polish neighborhood where the rents were low. Galleries and boutiques moved in, and the artists had to move out again. They went further into Brooklyn.
At 6am the other day, I was walking across Prince Street in Soho. It’s been years since the artists had fled, yet I realized a lot was still changing. Even bigger money was moving in, and the beauty and charm of the neighborhood was moving out. I took some photos and am about to give you a little tour.
This is Prince Street which goes across Manhattan Island from East to West.
In this photo I’m looking West because that’s the direction I’m walking.
You’ll notice it’s not really cobblestone but bricks laid to make up the street.
Street sellers line West Broadway selling their wares.
They have to fight the City even after they get their licenses.
(This was an all-out war under Giuliani – cops vs vendors.)
At 6am this is the first vendor to set up, just off Prince Street.
On of my favorite stores on Sullivan Street is Something Special.
It’s a candy store with a lot of rental Postal boxes. The pictures
of Matthew Broderick and Sarah Jessica Parker & their kids indicate
that the couple uses one of the boxes in this store. Their mail drop.
I get things notarized here from an older Italian gentleman.
The Koho School of Sumi-E is going out of business on the corner
of Sullivan Street and Houston. This shop always reminds me of
the late Francis Lee, who studie Sumi-E painting.
He was a real Independent back in the day.
I often rented his Oxberry to shoot films overnight.
I wonder if the demise of this shop will mean that I won’t think so often of Francis.
You can see that the nature of the neighborhood is changing. Brick-laid cobblestone is about to go completely. Old shops are being forced out of business, and money is moving in with higher prices and no concern for the little guy or the neighborhood. There are no artists here anymore, just vendors who pay high rents.
Commentary 23 Jul 2011 07:37 am
- Recently, NY passed the legal rights for gay and lesbian couples to marry. This has, of course, created a lot of difficulties as many couples rush to try to marry. The first day this is possible will be tomorrow, Sunday, and there’s a rush. They’ve begun something of a lottery to determine which couples can go first.
Here’s a story that developed out of San Franciso as reported by Now What Media:
- At the Contemporary Jewish Museum in San Francisco, at an exhibit entitled Seeing Gertrude Stein, two lesbians were asked to stop holding hands. When they protested they were asked to leave the museum. Let’s see – Gertrude Stein show. In San Francisco. Yes, we read that correctly. The Museum has apologized. The security guard works for an independent company, is not an employee of the museum and obviously knows nothing about the show or San Francisco.
The resourceful Tom Hachtman did the cartoon above (and the earlier one on Now What) which he sent me. Gertrude is always there for the comedy of the event.
It’s amazing how big Comic Con has grown. The NYTimes has many daily reports from the event in their on-line spaces. Honestly, the thing sounds dreadful to me, but I suppose I should get myself out there one of these years just to see what I’m not missing.
Yoni Goodman continues to do daily animated exercises on his blog at Dailymotion. They’re no longer quite daily, but they are frequent enough and excellent and worth your checking out.
You too can animate Sponge Bob (and pay for it.)
- And now we have news of a new animation creation program. Take a look at this bit of info sent to me this week:
- Smith Micro has announced it has joined with Nickelodeon and NetToons to bring the first-ever SpongeBob SquarePants Tooncast Studio. Now fans of every age and skill level can become part of their favorite show by creating their own pro-quality SpongeBob animations. The SpongeBob SquarePants Tooncast Studio is going to be unveiled at Comic-Con this week.
Using the SpongeBob SquarePants Tooncast Studio, fans can animate SpongeBob and his friends in hundreds of different ways by making them walk, run, jump, dance, and much more—all to the tune of a custom music soundtrack.
They offered to send a demo copy of the program, but I think my life is too short for such things.
William Benzon, on his blog New Savannah, has an essay about Fantasia 2000. It doesn’t bode well for the newer film to be compared to the origianal Fantasia. A short quick read.
Ace and Son
- Not sure what to make of it, as yet, but Richard O’Connor has moved on from Asterisk Animation to Ace and Son. I don’t know if this is a new company or just the name for the new blog, but it seems meaningful and I’ll let you in on any news I find out.
Beavis and what?
Are we ready for more Beavis and Butthead? MTV has run short of ideas so they’re going back to oldies but goodies, except they don’t have music videos they can play off of. So there’s Jersey Shore awaitin’. This October.
- I recently posted the first two parts of this book by Greg Constantine, Vincent Van Gogh Visits New York. Here is the third and final part of the book.
It was a paperback book Bill Peckmann bought in the ’80s. He introduced me to it and he scanned and sent the material to me. Many thanks to Bill for sharing it with us.
Greg Constantine also has two other books on the market: Leonardo Visits Los Angeles and Picasso in Chicago. Here are the front and rear covers of both books.
Leonardo Visits Los Angeles – front cover