Commentary 22 Sep 2012 06:53 am


Get Out the Vote

- It appears that a number of animated features will be opening shortly. There’s a screening in NY this morning of Hotel Transylvania. It’s at the Museum of the Moving Image in Queens. That’s a long enough trip to keep me from going. I’ll see it another time; the ad keeps me uninterested. It opens next friday, Sept 28th.

The Academy will screen Tim Burton’s Frankenweenie on October 11th, a week after it opens in theaters. I’ll see it there, in comfortable surroundings.
There’s an article about Tim Burton in today’s NYTimes.

Wreck It Ralph opens November 5th. Can’t wait.

There’s no real incentive for me to see any of these films except that they’ll all be entered into the Oscar race, and to vote I’ll have to see them all. The more I can see now, the fewer I’ll have to see in that crushing two weeks at the end of the year. That’s when all of the entered films have to be viewed. It’ll be something like 16 films in two weeks to absorb. Talk about impaired judgment.

The contenders for animation short will be screened n NY on Saturday, Oct. 27th. That’ll start at 10am and probably go straight through to about 6 or 7pm. Your eyes are melting by the time you get out of there, with maybe one or, at the most, two good films in the bunch.

I still look forward to it all.


My World and Welcome To It

- Meanwhile, Heidi, my wife, says my world is all about politics and movies. She’s wrong; baseball is high in there as well. This time of the year, particularly an election year like this, I only want to watch talking heads on TV (and The Good Wife and Treme and Boardwalk Empire.)

Actually, I don’t think about much of this. I do think about POE and the scenes I’ve been anmating over and over and over. The style is a bit funky and I keep reworking it. I have four scenes done, and I keep expecting more of myself, so I keep redoing them. If I’d been doing it on cel with an animation camera, the first version would have been the final. But using a computer means I can rework the damn thing a hundred times or more. It’s fun though. I want to have the thing down pat before I really get into it. Once the real “Go” is there it means Go.

By the way, the title, My World and Welcome To It, of course, comes from that great series from 1969 which starred William Windom as a James Thurber-like cartoonist whose animated imaginings filled the screen throughout the show. I was in Alaska in the Navy when it aired in the lower 49. I might have been able to see Russia from my house, but the TV didn’t run this series. My sister talked about it in her letters and I did a lot of catching up when I got home.

I was reminded of the show recently when Windom died in early August. I was a fan of his before that series, and I became more of a fan after the series.

Robert Dranko was the animation art director and producer for the series and
Bob Richardson was the animation director.



The 2012 poster by Koji Yamamura

- The Ottawa International Animation Festival began this past Wednesday. I’ve always felt close to this Fest. Having gone to the first half dozen versions of this event, where I learned so much about International film and the job of selling movies, that it naturally formed a soft spot for me. With sadness and regret, I couldn’t make it up to attend in person. However, I do keep my eyes open to see what’s happening there and what I’m missing. Richard O’Connor, through his site, Ace and Son, has always been a source of information that’s been invaluable to me. This year Richard helped open the first program by presenting a reel of short clips and an articulate eulogy for Tissa David. On his report of the first day of the Fest, he posts a video clip showing his comments during that program. You can check in daily for his comments.



- Meanwhile the NY memorial for Tissa David is coming along nicely. It will definitely take place at 7pm on October 23rd at the MP Academy screening room at the Lighthouse at 111 East 59th Street. The theater is downstairs. It may be crowded and first come first seated.

There will be five speakers and lots of film clips.

I intend to screen at least one or two complete films, but time may nix that plan.

The films to be screened come from four studios:

    . the Hubley studio – EGGS, COCKABOODY, EVERYBODY RIDES THE CAROUSEL and possibly a commercial or three
    . the Ink Tank/R.O.Blechman – THE SOLDIER’S TALE, CANDIDE promotional film, a commercial or two
    . Raggedy Ann and Andy – “Candy Hearts and Paper Flowers” sequence
    . and my studio – THE RED SHOES, THE DANCING FROG and THE MARZIPAN PIG (of course).

There’s also a nice surprise which will start the evening and the program.

It should be excellent.


Let’s Celebrate The Tune

- There was an article about Bill Plympton in last week’s The Onion. No it wasn’t a joke, it was a fine article in the AV Club section of the paper. This is a good article by Tasha Robinson and is worth the read. It basically celebrates the one-man-feature idea of The Tune done in 1997. He was a pioneer, I have to hand it to him. Worth the read.


12 Responses to “Criticeria”

  1. on 22 Sep 2012 at 1:28 pm 1.Charles Brubaker said …

    The animation studio behind the cartoons in “My World and Welcome To It” was DePatie-Freleng. Both Dranko and Richardson were employed there.

    That’s one aspect about DFE that I know little about. I need to play catch up as well, it seems…

  2. on 22 Sep 2012 at 5:04 pm 2.Michael said …

    I thought it was DFE but wasn’t confident enough to say so. I remember the good work Format did for The Cartoon Factory. Actually, I didn’t like what they did back when I saw those shows live. It looks better these days.

  3. on 22 Sep 2012 at 5:30 pm 3.Mark Mayerson said …

    I arrived at the Ottawa Festival on Friday evening. Saw the international student showcase which was dull and depressing with very few exceptions. Amid Amidi’s talk on Ward Kimball was fantastic and makes me more anxious than ever to read his book. Saw Ralph Bakshi speak today, a fabulous talk that was under-attended. Caught up with Paranorman, which had some pacing and design problems, but was quite good overall.

    I caught the tail end of Richard O’Connor’s onstage talk with Elliot Cowan, which was quite good. I arrived too late to hear Gendy Tartakovsky and Barry Purves, but I’ll see the Purvis films on Sunday.

  4. on 22 Sep 2012 at 6:57 pm 4.Luke said …

    I went to a screening of Hotel Transylvania last night, and let me tell you, you didn’t miss anything. It’s a visually and aurally mess of a cartoon, filled with zero wit, charm, or character. Honestly, I’ve not seen a feature this so completely awful in years. So assaultive and BLAND. “Director” Tartakovsky proves yet again he’s style over substance, as he has yet in his career shown he can create real character much less real relationships. His career has been based more on iconography than real character.

    There’s no real story to speak of, just plot. And an endless barrage of juvenile jokes that range from dumb to confusing. The thing that surprised me most–how visually unfocused it was, with almost no basic film making conventions used NOT to creative advantage, but to no seeming advantage at all. I can’t figure out if it was ignorance or incompetence. But seeing as Sony spent nearly $150 million on this film, and went through 7 directors and countless “writers,” I suppose it was both.

    There’s a certain amount of technical ability in the proceedings, but it was like watching an idiot toss $10,000 Bills into the wind for 90 minutes. Just so wasteful.

    I’m not at all sorry to be so direct and maybe even cruel in my assessment of this mess. I might be somewhat more heartless if the film makers hadn’t been just as heartless and cynical in their disrespect to audiences everywhere.

  5. on 22 Sep 2012 at 7:01 pm 5.Luke said …

    Meant to write: “I might be somewhat LESS heartless if the film makers hadn’t been so cold, heartless and cynical in their disrespect to audiences everywhere.”

  6. on 22 Sep 2012 at 8:52 pm 6.The Gee said …

    “I can’t figure out if it was ignorance or incompetence. But seeing as Sony spent nearly $150 million on this film, and went through 7 directors and countless “writers,” I suppose it was both.”

    To be honest, I thought the film had already been released and was forgotten about. But, I haven’t been paying attention.

    I wouldn’t lay all the blame on Tartakovsky though. It is more likely than not that
    the creative head of the movie should shoulder the blame more than the director.

    It is Adam Sandler’s film, right?

    Even if it isn’t *his* production then there were probably problems pre-dating Tartakovsky’s involvement.

  7. on 22 Sep 2012 at 9:38 pm 7.Scott said …

    I’m sure getting a director with strong storytelling capabilities WOULD have helped.

  8. on 22 Sep 2012 at 9:42 pm cat james said …

    “I remember the good work Format did for The Cartoon Factory.”

    I believe the program you’re refering to is “The Duck Factory”.

  9. on 23 Sep 2012 at 4:34 am 9.Michael said …

    You were right, T.C., I meant the “Duck Factory.” I love Jack Gilford. He played the old cartoonist in the show. (He was also the voice – with his wife – of the crotchety old guy in the end of Hubley’s “Carousel.”) He played a lot of parts for Hubley, as did Martin Balsam and Lou Jacobi. Those were the days of great character actors!

  10. on 23 Sep 2012 at 9:45 pm 10.Alfred von Cervera said …

    Mr. Sporn, you mention you are animating on the computer, are you drawing directly on it or are you scanning your drawings. And what software are you using. Thank you so much beforehand for your answers. And you are totally right, Rowland B. Wilson’s new book is amazing.

  11. on 24 Sep 2012 at 1:14 am 11.Michael said …

    I do some animation on paper (inbetween on computer) and other animation on the computer. I’m stuck in the past, I guess, using Photoshop and AfterEffects and editing on Final Cut Pro. What’s important is that what I do works. When I animate on paper, I can scan it in and prep it in Photoshop then just go to AE. Tissa animated on paper, as does Ed Smith. He doesn’t get email. I can pull their scanned drawings into Photoshop and work it there.

    Maybe someday I’ll change. I was recently introduced to ToonBoom Pro and didn’t quite get into it. I may be convinced someday. I’ve also tried TV Paint Animation, but it was too complicated for me to get into it quickly enough. I loved the brushes, though. A good friend, Paul Fierlinger, lives by that program and convinces me that it obviously works. since I love his stuff. David Nethery also does great work on that program. It’d just take a lot of patience on my part. Maybe I should take the time.

    Learning programs is not something I really want to do. I just want to animate and direct films.

  12. on 25 Sep 2012 at 8:06 am 12.Alfred von Cervera said …

    I totally agree with you Mr. Sporn, animating is already a difficult art and I don’t think the software helps. Maybe if the companies think in tools more intuitive for drawing it would be easier to switch from paper. But nothing compares to the sensation of drawing on paper.

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