Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Monday, December 23, 2013

The Crap I Lived on at CalArts

I went to CalArts in the fall of 1981 as an 18 year-old just out of high school.  I had never lived on my own, and found myself suddenly having to think about little details such as my next meal.  I had very limited knowledge of food and how to cook it, and an equally limited budget - $40 a week from my work/study job.

I can remember quite clearly that first excursion to the supermarket without Mom.  I wasn't completely on my own.  I had my roommate, Dan Jeup, and classmates Tim Hauser, and an Australian named Harry Weinmann.  They didn't know how to cook either.

Sunday, December 22, 2013

A Lazy Elf for Christmas

Thomas Bo Huusmann is a graduate of the excellent Animation Workshop in Denmark, surely one of the very best places to study animation in Europe. The school encourages its students not just to find work as employees in animation companies, but to be entrepreneurs, starting up small businesses and media enterprises. Since graduating in 2011, Thomas has founded his own independent company Huusmann Media. He has just published a new eBook - Lazy Elf - just in time to solve FLIP readers' last minute Christmas gift crises. Phew!

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Going Postal for the Holidays

If you shop on the internet, or have friends or family who live far away, the holiday season includes some sort of postal service.  Fed-Ex, UPS, DHL (they still exist!), or the good ol' USPS all play a role in just how stressful the holidays will be for you.  When the system works, as it generally does, it's great.  Hooray, your stuff arrived intact.  But when it doesn't, oh man.  Sometimes, there is no time for plan B.  

Sunday, December 15, 2013

Walt Disney Crossing Buena Vista Street Barefoot.

As a CalArts student in the early '80's, I had the opportunity to meet many people who worked for Walt Disney himself.  Today being the anniversary of Walt's death in 1966, I thought I would share a story that Elmer Plummer, my life drawing instructor, told me, recalling the last time he saw Walt.... 

We all knew Walt was in the hospital, but we didn't know how bad it was. Well, I was coming down the hallway and saw him standing there - barefoot.

He said, ‘How are you, Elmer?’

‘Oh, I’m all right.’ I said. “Where are your shoes?”

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

The Thief and The Cobbler - A Moment in Time - by Andreas Wessel-Therhorn

The Golden City - part of the newly restored Director's Cut of The Thief
Last night on Tuesday December 10th Richard Williams introduced - for the first time ever - a newly-restored director's cut of his lost masterpiece The Thief and The Cobbler.  Titled The Thief and the Cobbler – A Moment in Time, the long-awaited screening took place at The Academy's Los Angeles home, the Samuel Goldwyn Theatre in Beverly Hills. Animator, director and Academy member Andreas Wessel-Therhorn was there to tell us what we missed.

Sunday, December 8, 2013

CTNX 5 - After the Show with Tina Price

Tina Price started the Creative Talent Network (CTN) as a website for animation artists to showcase their work after Disney laid off a very large part of it's animation department back in the '00's.  It proved to be a very popular site, inspiring her to host an expo of animation talent which other animation talent could meet, hob nob, and gain inspiration.  With the fifth CTN-X just completed last month, Tina gave FLIP the post-mortem.
The aftermath.
FLIP:  How would you compare this years event to the past ones?
Tina:  Each year has it's moments, with Moebius in 2010 and Glen Keane in 2012, but honestly, this years event, CTNX 5, was great. The weather really helped too being sunny all weekend.

Saturday, December 7, 2013

Kirk Hendry's Very Impressive "Junk"

Kirk Hendry is a London based director of the critically acclaimed short Junk, the story of a boy with a voracious appetite for awful things.  He took some time out to talk to FLIP....

FLIP:  Why did you chose to tell the story in silhouettes?
Kirk: I had previously made a film called Round that was made entirely with hand shadows, so was a big fan of the drama of silhouettes. I had made the animatic for 'Junk' without tying it to a particular style. Then I saw The Adventures Of Prince Achmed by Lotte Reiniger. After seeing Achmed, I got excited about doing that cutout/lightbox style with computers. It became an exercise in lighting that has been very useful ever since.

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

John Ramirez on Animation, Parades and Theme Park Design

John Ramirez has forged an exceptionally successful career not just as an animation artist but as a designer of parades and theme parks. His designs are clear, accessible and appealing, and for decades he has done design work for leading parks all over the world, especially in Asia. FLIP asked him to reveal the secret of his success.

Sunday, December 1, 2013

Support Fellow Artists - Give their Work as Gifts

It's that time again, when media whips people into a shopping frenzy, then sits back and laughs as gift buying turns into a bloodsport.  Ha ha, suckers!  Once again, FLIP offers our readers a creative alternative.  Over the course of the past year, there have been many artists featured whose work is available for sale.  We present those items here for your convenient shopping.

Support animation artists, and get something unique for your loved ones!

First up, Richard Williams' classic book The Animator's Survival Kit is now available for the iPad.  FLIP wrote about it back in February.  Get yours here!

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Director's Cut of The Thief and The Cobbler to screen at the Academy on December 10

The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences has announced that it will screen a newly edited director's cut of The Thief And The Cobbler - introduced by the Director in person - on Tuesday December 10th at 7:30pm, at the Academy, in the Samuel Goldwyn Theatre. The Thief will be preceded by Williams' Oscar winning short, A Christmas Carol. You can also see an exhibition, Richard Williams: Master of Animation in the building lobby until Sunday December 22nd.

Sunday, November 24, 2013

My 20th Birthday Party - at age 46

Friday night was my 20th birthday party. Well, technically it was the 20th birthday party of my cartoon strip, Queen's Counsel, which has been running for 20 years in The (London) Times, since it was first published in October 1993. Friday was a good excuse to have a party, sell a few books, and celebrate my longest-ever job, by far.

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Appreciating Diane Disney

Sad news.  Diane Disney, Walt's daughter, died today at the age of 79.  

I had the opportunity to meet Diane in 1984, as a Cal Arts student.  The school had just completed a new student apartment complex, and was having an open house for the trustees.  As a rule, if there was free wine and food to be had, we were there - we being fellow students Tim Hauser, Kevin Lima, and myself.  Tim has the greatest knowledge of all things Disney of anyone I know, and he was quick to point out the presence of the big players - Card Walker, Donn B. Tatum, Roy Disney, and his cousin Diane.

Sunday, November 17, 2013

The Brandy & Mr. Whiskers that Wasn't

Brandy, an upper crust pure breed, is shipwrecked in the Amazon jungle with Mr. Whiskers, a  bunny used for science experiments.  
Does anyone out there remember a show called Brandy & Mr. Whiskers?  No?  It ran from 2004 to 2006 on The Disney Channel.    Last night, I came across some forgotten design work I did for that show at this time of year in 2002.  I was freelancing then, and Disney TV Animation hired me to design characters for the show, in its early development stage.   Barry Blumberg was in charge of DTVA then, and instructed me to come up with something really far out, maybe some mixed media stuff, like the photo collage elements I used in Redux Riding Hood, which DTVA produced and everyone loved but didn't love enough to release on DVD.  

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

"Despicable Me" Writers Create the Stage Musical "Bubble Boy"

Bubble Boy - the Musical.  Photo by Christina L. Wilson 
Most of you over-40 readers remember The Boy in the Plastic Bubble, the 1976 TV movie starring young John Travolta as a boy without an immune system who must literally live inside a plastic bubble.  

In 2001, the future writers of Despicable Me, Cinco Paul and Ken Daurio, rewrote the story as the Jake Gyllenhaal comedy Bubble Boy.  

Cut to 2013, and those same writers have adapted their film into a stage musical which just premiered in Rahway, New Jersey.  Yes, Rahway, home of the penitentiary from Scared Straight, another TV blast from the '70's - could a musical comedy version of that be next?  Hmm - that could work, actually.

Read more about the Bubble Boy musical in this New Jersey Star Ledger article:

Congratulations to Cinco and Ken!  I hope Bubble Boy is a bit hit.

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

The Making of Hare and Bear

John Lewis 'The Bear & The Hare' - The Making Of from Blink on Vimeo.

Here's an excellent video which explains how Aaron Blaise and his team put together their Hare and Bear TV commercial for British retailer John Lewis, achieving a unique look combining live action footage and hand-drawn animation. You can read more about the project here.


Monday, November 11, 2013

The End of Blockbuster

As Blockbuster Video closes its last store, I am reminded of its beginnings back in the '80's.  I was working for Duck Soup, a commercial studio in Santa Monica (now called DUCK), and Bob Seeley was directing a commercial for a new chain of video stores called Blockbuster.  Bob explained that this company was opening a new store every day for a year.  

Sunday, November 10, 2013

Jamie Baker Art Auction Update

After a few misfires, the eBay auction site for Jamie Baker is up and bidding.  Among the highlights is this tree from the movie Coraline, signed by Neil Gaiman.  It was donated by Laika Studios, and as of this writing, had 19 bids toping at $3499.  And that's with seven days left.

Saturday, November 9, 2013

My Most Influential Contemporaries

I have posted before about artistic influences, artists who I did not work with personally, but had a strong influence on my own work.  This time, I write about artists of my generation. In the past 30 years, I have worked with hundreds of artists, and many have influenced me in some manner.  Here is a list of five artists who, for me, had the greatest impact, in chronological order.  

1.  Dan Jeup – Dan was my roommate during my freshman year of CalArts, in 1981.  I knew next to nothing about Disney animation, though Dan was already animating at a professional level, and was an encyclopedia of Disney animation knowledge.  His passion for the medium was contagious, and I felt lucky to be asked along when he studied Disney film prints in the school library, pointing out different animation techniques.  Dan taught me about editing and match cuts and animating a character with weight.   And I taught him how to drink a lot of beer.

Friday, November 8, 2013

Aaron Blaise's new Ad for John Lewis - Hare and Bear

It's not often that I get multiple emails on a single day just because someone has recently broadcast a new animated TV ad. In this case, the ad is for John Lewis (A British department store) who have something of a reputation for well-crafted TV ads for the Christmas season. The commercial has been widely covered in the British press, and is titled Hare and Bear. As soon as I saw it, I thought the style looked familiar. It has the whiff of Brother Bear about it,  not in a derivative-kind-of-way but in a very-well-drawn-kind-of-way. As in: "these people know what they are doing".

Monday, November 4, 2013

Art Auction Benefit for Jamie Baker

James Baker, south paw.
This Saturday, there will be a huge art auction for story artist James Baker.  Last December, Jamie suffered a serious stroke, and while he is slowly recovering and learning to adapt, he has accumulated massive medical bills not covered by his insurance.

Friday, November 1, 2013

Morph at Kickstarter - Aardman animation needs your help!

Morph, everyone's favourite plasticene man is coming back. Photo: Wikipedia
Morph, the animated plasticine stop-motion character that appeared on British TV with Tony Hart in the 1970's, is coming back to life. Aardman animation, who created the character, are asking for your help at Kickstarter to bring him back to the screen.

Thursday, October 31, 2013

Blue GFX at London's South Bank

Blue GFX Expo is an annual showcase for the visual effects industry and the software that drives it, sponsored by (among many others) the software-wizards Autodesk - who make Maya and 3DStudioMax, and much of the other software that we use in the VFX industry. Housed slightly incongruously in the vast and rambling Edwardian County Hall building on London’s South Bank, the Expo was marvelously hard to find, but highly rewarding to attend.

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Toaster Tales #3: Hotel Horror in Taipei

Deluxe accommodations.
In 1986, I went to Taiwan with a very small crew of Americans to work on the feature The Brave Little Toaster.  The experience of animating a breakneck 30 feet a week of passable full animation combined with living in a place so completely strange, congested, and foreign would prove to be a seminal event not just my life, but in the lives of everyone on the crew.  For Halloween, I thought I would share with you one of the scarier things that happened to me out there in the Far East.

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Ten Quotes about Art to Chew On

I Googled up some quotes about art from a variety of sources, not all of them artists.  I hope you find them inspiring.....

"Without tradition, art is a flock of sheep without a shepherd. Without innovation, it is a corpse." Winston Churchill

Saturday, October 26, 2013

Dumpster Diving with Bill Kroyer

Whenever I run into Bill Kroyer, our dumpster diving story inevitably surfaces.

In the summer of 1984, I was working one of my first animation jobs, on an animated Star Wars knockoff called Starchaser: The Legend of Orin, a forgettable film except that it used a lot of early computer generated animation.    Most of the production was done at Steve Hahn's Korean studio, Mihahn, but when they also had a  crew of Americans working in an office complex in Woodland Hills, California.  Bill Kroyer was the head of that crew, which included Chris Bailey, Craig Clarke, Darrell Rooney, Tom Sito, newbies Greg Manwaring and Eric Pighors, and old timer John Sparey.  I learned years later that the writer, Jeffrey Scott, is the grandson of Moe Howard of The Three Stooges.   

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Vicki Banks' Sculptures are Something to Crow About

The inspiration for FLIP came from meeting industry people whose personal work far out-shined the studio projects they worked on.  Vicki Banks is a prime example of such an artist.  She did tons of top tier assistant work on films like Tron and Prince of Egypt, but sculpting is her passion, a passion which has become her full time work.  FLIP asked her about her new direction....

"Conversaton Piece"
FLIP: You went from animator to sculptor - was this a transition, a continuation, or a completely new path for you?

Vicki: I think that the new path of full time sculptor was really a transition from animation. Although Sculpture is 3D, I still employ many of the same skills I used in 2D animation. For example, my creatures are slightly anthropomorphic, my poses are kind of like in-betweens, and there are elements of humor and storytelling. The biggest difference is, I am a business owner with all the headaches as well as perks that accompany that role, and I'm the sole artistic decision maker.

Monday, October 21, 2013

The SpongeBob Tombstone Controversy

CNN reports on a controversy involving the tombstone of murdered Army sergeant Kimberly Walker.  Because she was such a fan of SpongeBob Squarepants, the sergeant's family commissioned, with the help of a cemetery employee, a tombstone featuring the likeness of SpongeBob in an Army uniform.

Saturday, October 19, 2013

Lou Scheimer, Gone to the Green and Purple Valley

Lou Scheimer, co-founder of Filmation Studios, died Thursday at the age of 85.  His studio made an awful lot of awful TV, but the man himself was highly respected in the industry in the 1970's and '80's for bucking the trend and not shipping production work overseas.  He kept hundreds of artists employed for many years, in union jobs, in his cartoon factory.

Friday, October 18, 2013

Tony Benedict's "The Last Cartoonery"

If you grew up loving Huckleberry Hound, Yogi Bear, or The Pink Panther, you may find this new documentary very interesting.  Legendary animation writer Tony Benedict has a pet project about his days with Hanna-Barbera and DePatie Freling, called The Last Cartoonery. He is going the Kickstarter route for funding, and talked to FLIP about the project and the good old days.
Joe Barbera and Tony Benedict with Yogi Bear storyboard.
Photo from Benedict's The Last Cartoonery site.
FLIP:  The Last Cartoonery - Who is doing this?

Tony: The Last Cartoonery is being done by me as producer, writer, animator and director. Music by Alan Bernhoft.

FLIP: Is there much film footage from your Hanna Barbera days?  Are you looking for material (film, photos, artwork, stories) for the film?

Tony: In the glory days of early Hanna–Barbera, fellow cartoon guy Jerry Eisenberg and I shot a lot of film and still photos around the studio. We also drew lots of gags and caricatures. Lots of photo and film restoration. We have designed caricatures of Bill and Joe to animate along with caricatures of other studio folk. We are animating gags created nearly sixty years ago. It's a labor of love. No one will get rich off this film but among animation fans I feel it will be well received.

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

The Amazing Double Life of Jorgen Klubien

Dane Jorgen Klubien has lived in two parallel career worlds going back to the 1970's: one as an animator and story man for studios such as Disney and Pixar, the other as a Danish pop star.  It's a safe bet to say he is the only one in the world with that distinction.  He took a little time out to talk to FLIP.

FLIP:  Can you tell us about your music career?

Jorgen: I began playing the drums in bands in Copenhagen as a boy in the early 1970's.  We were four pals from school and we played high schools dances, etc . I always thought of myself as an artist who would become a fine artist with playing music for fun on the side.

I enrolled in the Danish Design school at 17, and was then invited to attend CalArts two years later.   My music career was put on hold until I returned to Denmark after having assisted Glen Keane, Jerry Rees, and Randy Cartwright on The Fox and The Hound for a year.  Back in Denmark I began writing songs with friends and soon thereafter I was in another band, this time as the front man and lead singer. We had a few hits in the mid 80's in Denmark and we have continued to play for fun every so often.

I returned to the US in 1982 to work on a title sequence for the show Animation Around The World, one of the first shows on the newly formed Disney Channel.  It was produced by my friend and classmate from CalArts, Rick Heinrichs.  He's been a great supporter of me throughout the years, and  has pulled me unto such great productions as The Nightmare Before Christmas and lately, Frankenweenie.

Saturday, October 12, 2013

Luc Chamberland's Pool Party - you're invited!

Luc's pool party. It has animation too.
Luc Chamberland is a Montreal-based animator and director who has been working closely for a number of years with the Montreal Stop Motion Film Festival (MSMFF).  Below is his latest film, a short promotion for this year's festival, co-directed with Pierre Trudeau. We asked Luc to tell us about the festival and his work.

Thursday, October 10, 2013

Disney closes Pixar Canada

In a blow to Canadian animation, Disney has decided to close their Pixar Studios in Canada. According to Variety,  Disney spokesperson Barb Matheson said “A decision was made to refocus operations and resources under the one roof...not great news, obviously.”  It is, of course,  a tragedy for everyone working at Disney in Vancouver. But to the grizzled animation veterans at FLIP, this all feels eerily familar.

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Happy Birthday Art Babbitt (October 8, 1907- March 4, 1992)

Art Babbitt at Soho Square in the 1970s. Art is 3rd from the right, flanked by Grim Natwick to his left and Richard Purdum to his right
Art Babbitt was born Arthur Harold Babitsky on October 8 1907. Were he still alive, he would be 106 years old today. I met Art when I was a child, when he worked at my father's studio at No 13 Soho Square in London. In his youth, Art had been one of Disney's most talented staff members, a legendary animator who, but for his involvement in the 1940s strike, would have undoubtedly been one of the anointed inner circle at Disney - one of Walt's Nine Old Men.

Saturday, October 5, 2013

The Richard Williams Tribute at the Motion Picture Academy - Tom Sito reports

Richard Williams, Eric Goldberg and a Rabbit
Last night the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences paid tribute to animator, artist and director Richard Williams. For the benefit of everyone who couldn't be in LA or weren't lucky enough to get tickets, Tom Sito brings us the story and the pictures.

Friday, October 4, 2013

NBC Blew it with "The Michael J. Fox Show"

Have you seen Michael J. Fox's new, self-titled sitcom?  The one where he plays a guy with Parkison's disease?  Is it a dark humored, edgy comedy?  No.  It's Family Ties with Parkinson's disease.   And while that might be a funny SNL parody skit,  when fleshed to a half hour, it is dreadful.

Watching Michael J. struggling to hold it together while spitting out trite punchlines is too painful to watch.   He is trying his best, but let's face it - his situation is not funny.  I kept thinking, "Why is he doing this?"

Thursday, October 3, 2013

Alex Marks 20 years of Queen's Counsel with a New Book

FLIP's own Alex Williams has reached a milestone.  His comic strip Queen's Counsel started its run in The Times of London twenty years ago today.  After much arm-twisting, the other half of FLIP consented to an interview on the subject.

FLIP: You have been doing Queen's Counsel for 20 years. Does this milestone make you feel old? Proud? Tired?

Alex: All of the above. But, mainly, astonished. Whenever I open the paper I can't quite believe the cartoon strip is still there. I don’t even have a contract with the newspaper – but it’s been my longest job ever, by far. So, better add gratitude to that list.

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Tony Siruno goes ape at the Qpop gallery in LA

Tony Siruno is one of our industry's leading character designers. For many years he worked for DreamWorks, helping to design many of their best-loved and most successful characters. Recently he has moved to Sony to head up their character design department. Tony has just contributed some artwork to an exhibition at the Qpop gallery in Los Angeles. FLIP asked him to tell us what this new exhibition is all about.

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Frans Vischer "Fuddles" Again

Frans Vischer's self=caricature.
Animator Frans Vischer has a side project that he has nurtured for several years, a comic series called Fuddles. He talked to FLIP about it, as well as his second Fuddles book, A Very Fuddles Christmas, which was released today.

FLIP: You were part of the big Disney animation layoff back in April.  How have things gone since then?
Frans: I’m doing pretty well.  I do miss the studio and the people there, but my immediate reaction was to take this as an opportunity.  My second Fuddles book was long finished and awaiting publication, so here was a chance to focus on kids books.  I’ve been splitting time between my book work and free-lance animation and illustration, whatever pays the bills.  I’ve been working steadily for Renegade Animation, Darrell Van Citters’ company, doing digital illustrations for Scholastic, and I have about a dozen picture book ideas in various states that I’m playing with.

Sunday, September 29, 2013

Those Unrealized Influences

Every creative person can cite some other creative person whose work had a major influence on them.    For me, it's Chuck Jones' cartoons.   But was he really as influential as I thought?  I don't draw or time my animation like him.  I don't steal art direction from  Maurice Noble nor animate like Ben Washam.  So really, they influenced my desire to get into the business, and I am certainly a fan, but my artistic influences came from other people, people I had not always recognized.

Saturday, September 28, 2013

Mickey Mouse stars in Escape From Tomorrow - but Disney is not pleased...

Mickey - as you have never seen him before.
Escape From Tomorrow is a micro budget indie horror flick filmed without permission, using hand held cameras and mobile phones, inside the Disney parks. It stars Mickey in his first ever blood soaked horror role. The real horror, you might think, will be the litigation that will surely result as armies of Disney lawyers descend on the film-makers. But you would be wrong.

Thursday, September 26, 2013

Withoutabox.com - For Your Festival Submission Sanity

Did I mention my new short Chief, Your Butt's on Fire this week?   We're in festival submission mode around here, and just as film has gone digital, so has the submission process.  Thankfully, my wife discovered withoutabox.com.

This is going to sound like a big freaking commercial, but if you are an indie filmmaker, this could really help you.  On the Withoutabox site, you fill out a form about your film, then upload a web-quality Quicktime file.  When you find a festival you like, you click "qualify" and see if your form jives with that festival's submission form.   You make whatever adjustments you need to make, then click "submit" and it's done.  No making umpteen copies of your film,  no writing umpteen descriptions of you film.


Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Kit and Gerry Laybourne's Groovy Pad

Gerry and Kit Laybourne.
photo by Christopher Wahl for Dwell Magazine.
I was looking through the latest issue of the magazine Dwell: At Home in the Modern World checking out some of the ultra hip homes. I started reading the cover story about  a modern apartment in the Chelsea district.  It's owners are Kit and Geraldine Laybourne.


Kit Laybourne,  author of The Animation Book, the book I devoured as a teenager, the book which fueled my desire to become an animator, and his wife Gerry, the brilliant executive (seriously) who put Nickelodeon on the map, have a place so stylish, it made the cover of a magazine dedicated to modern style.

Sunday, September 22, 2013

What Is Wrong With The Global Development Organisation?

What Is Wrong With The Global Development Organisation?  is a short film project executed by a group of my students, mostly at Bucks New University (my day job), but also including talent from my online school, www.animationapprentice.org.

The film was a private commission from an individual who experiences day to day the problems set out in the film, and who wanted to find a way of expressing those problems in a way that would be fun and entertaining - but with a serious message. She wants to remain anonymous because, as she put it, "if you win an Oscar I will get fired".

Friday, September 20, 2013

Rob 'n' Ron - an excellent short film from Denmark

Tumblehead Animation is one of a number of small studios that have grown up around the hub of the excellent Animation Workshop in Viborg, Denmark. Founded by Magnus Moller and Peter Smith, Tumblehead have completed a series of stylishly designed and superbly executed short film projects, proving that when it comes to animation production, small can be beautiful. Below is their latest short film: Rob 'n' Ron, just completed.

Rob 'n' Ron from Tumblehead on Vimeo.

(Editor's Note: for more about Tumblehead animation, read our interview with studio co-founder Magnus Moller, and check out their excellent short film The Story of Animation, a clever and funny explanation of the animation process from concept to completion.


Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Brenda Chapman Speaks at the United Nations

Brenda Chapman....she who laughs last....
On Monday, director Brenda Chapman spoke at the United Nations as part of a TEDx event BRAVE: United in Action.  What's TEDx?  According to their site, "TEDx is a program of local, self-organized events that bring individuals together to share in the spirit of TED’s mission, 'Ideas Worth Spreading.' Our event is called TEDxUNPlaza, where x = (independently organized TED event)."

Brenda took some time out after the event to tell FLIP about it.

Remembering Roy Disney - Dave Bossert talks about his just-published biography

Dave Bossert, Producer, Creative Director and Head of Special Projects at Walt Disney Animation Studios, has just published a new book on Roy E. Disney, nephew of Walt and for decades a champion of animation at the Disney Studio. Roy is widely regarded as the man who saved the animation division at Disney from closure, following the box office disaster of Black Cauldron and the Eisner/Katzenberg takeover in the 1980s. We asked Dave to tell us about his new book.

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

The Best Fast Food Ad Ever

It's being called the best fast food advert ever made. Chipotle have made a sweet, funny and charming ad for their product - without ever mentioning the product itself. Instead they have commissioned an adorable short film in praise of sustainable farming.



Friday, September 13, 2013

The Return of Jamie Baker

Jamie Baker's latest.
Back in May, FLIP told you about James "Jamie" Baker's struggles to recover after suffering a massive stroke in December.  And while he is still physically recovering, there is some very good news.   Jamie has started blogging - and drawing - again.  

Thursday, September 12, 2013

"Into The Animation Factory" needs your help!

Into the Animation Factory - Dave Tart's new film
Calling all Animators, Artists, and VFX Industry professionals! Pixar animator, director and all-round animation supremo Dave Tart is gearing up for a short film project titled "Into the Animation Factory"... and he needs your help!  Since one of the film's primary aims is to educate clients and audiences about the state of the industry, he needs to gather some facts. Which is where you come in.

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

A Tom Sito sighting in NYC - Monday, September 16 at 7:00pm

Tom Sito's latest book
On Monday, September 16 at 7:00pm Tom Sito, author of Moving Innovation: The History of Computer Animation (and friend of FLIP), will be at the SVA Theatre, 333 West 23rd Street, NYC.

Tom will be "telling stories, spinning yarns about CGI and signing a book or two". He also adds that "some NY CG legends have promised to come too" - although their identities remain undisclosed. The evening is free and open to anyone to attend.

Monday, September 9, 2013

An Artist in the Producer's Chair ....Wha?

Shannon Shea has made his career of the past thirty years doing make-up effects on films such as Predator, Terminator 2 , Jurassic Park,  Drag Me to Hell, and Men in Black 3.  He has had plenty of experience in dealing with producers, and now he steps into their shoes with the film Scream at the Devil.  He talked to FLIP about his experience in the producer's chair. 

FLIP: What made you want to take the leap into producing?

Shannon: Actually, it was kind of a mistake.  In an effort to save my dwindling health care through Screen Actor's Guild,  I decided I would start auditioning for acting roles (my primary performance through SAG was puppeteering).  So, I received a notice for a film that was shooting in Los Angeles, I met with the director and, as most people do in tinsel town these days, he "IMDB'ed" me.  When he saw my credits he asked if I would come on board as a VFX supervisor rather than an actor (promising me more money than if I acted for a day or two).  I liked him and agreed under one condition: I would be a VFX PRODUCER, not supervisor.

Sunday, September 8, 2013

Endtrip from Holland

Endtrip is the work three graduate students from University of the Arts Utrecht (HKU), Koen de Mol, Olivier Ballast, and Rick Franssen. It is freaking amazing.

The flimmakers describe Endtrip as "an animated short film in which we experience a breathtaking trip through the bizarre and fantastical unconsciousness of a drug overdosed girl. This visually stunning journey offers a stereoscopic 3D glimpse into the extraordinary and strange workings of the mind. Reality and fantasy become intertwined into a dream where nothing is as it seems and we can only expect the unexpected."

Saturday, September 7, 2013

Animation Apprentice - Under Attack!

There be monsters
Last night my website at www.animationapprentice.org started acting weirdly, and today it went down completely. Since I am running an online school, this obviously isn't great news for the students, or for the business in general. Somewhat surprised by this (it has never happened before), I rang my web guru, who built the site, and who manages the servers. This is what he told me: "We are under attack".

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Mr. Future, At Last We Meet

I told you about my new short, Chief Your Butt's on Fire last week, and how it took thirteen years to complete.  My last shorts, The Indescribable Nth and Fractured Fairy Tales: The Phox, the Box and the Lox, were both completed in 1999 - that's right, the 20th century.

Here we are in the second decade of the 21st century, the year to which Marty McFly time travels in Back to the Future, and don't you know - it really IS the future.   When my wife looked into film festival submissions, film was not an option for many of them.  They wanted something called a DCP - Digital Cinema Package.  Why?  BECAUSE IT"S THE FUTURE!

My new "film". 

Sunday, September 1, 2013

Bill Mumy, Jeff Etter, and Thrill-O-Rama

After years of working in animation, Kevin Davis opted to go to film school at UCLA.   He tells FLIP about how he came to create videos with the unlikely pairing of Bill Mumy - yes THAT Bill Mumy - and one of the most outrageously funny animators you will meet, Jeff Etter.  

by Kevin Davis
Thrill-o-rama Films all started when I was attempting to complete my UCLA thesis film, Of Robots and Rednecks.  I was inspired by Professor Bill Barminski's After Effects class.  He had just completed a set of very creative music videos for Death Cab for Cutie, and I was impressed with what you could devise and complete with a very small production crew and an even smaller budget.  In After Effects you could pull off an infinite variety of funky camera moves and effects that, back in the MTV heyday of 80's music videos, would have been next to impossible to pull off.

At about the same time, Actor / Musician Bill Mumy had seen an Of Robot and Rednecks preview on YouTube, and liked it.  He later told me to that it was, "Twilight Zoney", which made my day.  He then asked me if I would like to do a music video for his upcoming CD, Until the Big Bang Whimpers. His timing couldn't be more horrible, due to my deadline for my thesis film, but I couldn't turn down a chance to work with one of my childhood heros.

Friday, August 30, 2013

Gary Conrad, Debi Derryberry, and a Talking Banana

Gary Conrad is a 30-year industry veteran and the Emmy and Annie Award nominated director of  The Fairly Odd Parents.  He recently completed his side project - a documentary called Debi Derryberry: Cheery and Fun and talked to FLIP about his film.

FLIP: What drove you to make Cheery and Fun

Gary: Growing up in Kentucky, I made one Super 8 movie after another and loved it.  Since graduating CalArts in 1984, I've been lucky to make my living in the animation business, but I've continued to make short films on the side, purely for the fun of it.  A few years back, a short documentary I made about a toy collector in Torrance, California was selected to screen in a couple of film festivals, which was a kick.

For my next project I decided I would write a narrative film.  I was trying to come up with an interesting character and unusual story.  I was feeling stuck.  Then I saw a Baby Banana singing with his Mama Duck and Daddy Gorilla accompanied on a pink guitar by a four foot ten cartoon star named Debi Derryberry in pursuit of fame and fortune.  Uh, I no longer felt I needed to make anything up.

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Remembering EPCOT's Cranium Command - Both Versions

There are some great posts on The Disney Project blog about Jerry Rees'  work for Disney Imagineering, including EPCOT's Cranium Command, where you go inside the mind of a boy as he goes about his school day in real time.  An animatronic figure interacts with characters representing different parts of the body, which constantly react to what is being seen through the boy's eyes.  It was an extremely complex show, logistically.

Like many of Jerry's jobs for Imagineering, Cranium Command was a rescue mission.  As The Disney Project blog puts it, "The project, already halfway through production at Colossal Pictures, was unanimously loathed by everyone at Disney. Jerry was tasked with reviewing the project, assessing its weaknesses, and fixing them."

I, personally, have the unique distinction of being the only animator to have worked on both versions of this show.  In January of 1989, Colossal Pictures producer Heather Selick hired Vince Davis and me as sort of animators-in-residence at their San Francisco studio.  She put us up in apartments on Union St in North Beach, just below the Coit Tower and just two uphill blocks from an area full of blues bars, cafes, Italian restaurants, City Lights Bookstore, and  really old strip clubs with creepy guys in big suits trying to get passersby to go in.  Far out!

Monday, August 26, 2013

Chief, Your Butt's on Fire

I am pleased to announce the completion of my brand new short, Chief, Your Butt's on Fire.  I decided to make it the old fashioned way, fully animating the whole thing myself, by hand, like in my student days.  The only concession to technology would be scanning the drawings, and painting and compositing digitally.  It took 13 years to do.

Sunday, August 25, 2013

Tom Joad: Animator

Regular readers know that sometimes I have to disguise my true stories because the people involved are still around, and, like me, still working.  Usher House Studios is no particular studio, an amalgam of them all.  Toddy Totsworthy is no particular production manager, but a Mrs. Potato Head arranged to meet the story's needs.  That said.....

"Your footage count is flat-lining!  And what we're getting is pretty limited.  I mean, your animation.... it's cute.  It's nice.  There's a lot of people trying to work here, y'know, and the guys upstairs, they look at the numbers.  Spreadsheets. And how can we get more for our money.  I've got guys doing twenty feet a week and you're averaging less than one! "

This long, lumpy shit curl was served up hot for me by good old Jennifer "Toddy" Totsworthy, the production manager at Usher House Studios. I had it coming to me. How dare I ask for my first raise in my five years?  It was 2001, and I was lucky to be working, period. When Disney dumped their 2d "team",  there was a glut of A-list talent floating around looking for work.  People were losing there homes, and in a few heartbreaking instances, some committed suicide.  The production heads knew the score and offered no compassion,  lording it over us like we were migrant workers in The  Grapes of Wrath.  To them, hiring an animator was like hiring someone to pick grapes, any warm body will do.  And what you picked in the past was irrelevant.

Saturday, August 24, 2013

Independent Producer Max Howard reveals the secrets of producing independent animated films

Max Howard
Animation producer Max Howard began his career in animation working on "Who Framed Roger Rabbit?", after which he joined Disney in Florida to set up their fledging Orlando studio. Since then he has worked for many of the biggest animation studios, and for the past decade has forged a career as an independent producer, as well as consulting for the animation industry and giving lectures and workshops all around the world. FLIP asked him to talk about what it takes to produce an independent animated film.

Friday, August 23, 2013

It's Official - Art Story is the First Animated Feature Film to be Funded at Kickstarter....

Art Story, the independent animated film directed by Aaron Blaise and Produced by Chuck Williams. is officially the first animated feature film to be funded at Kickstarter.

Chuck and Aaron have raised $365,000, enough to start work on their film - a hugely impressive start. Their goal was $350,000 and they have comfortably exceeeded that sum.

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Revealing The Hidden Story Behind Who Framed Roger Rabbit?

Ross Anderson is a writer and journalist who is currently working on telling the definitive story of the making of Who Framed Roger Rabbit? - the pioneering film that is 25 years old this year. FLIP asked him a few questions about his new book, and also about how Rabbit fans and alumni can get involved with the project, and help Ross to tell the complete story of this modern animation masterpiece.