Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Yuri Norstein

My friends (yo, M&M und Katie) and I sat around on Friday evening watching some Russian animation on YouTube. There is some great stuff to see, As Far as the Eye Can See (Das Brick ruleski), on the web that is now available for your vodka libations. With that, I can't mention Russian animation without exposing and sharing the Mastery of Yuri Norstein. You can see one of his masterpieces on YouTube, Igel im Nebel (Hedgehog in the Fog, 1975) but it would be better as a Holiday present if you got the full DVD retrospective of his work along with Claire Kitson's excellent book on him (my pick #1). Yuri is definately in my pantheon of animation gods and I am sure you will be able to tell why after viewing this film. So, gather around with friends and shots of vodka with slabs of bread, cheese and eggs to share good food, good company and best of all great animation!! This one is for my friend Margaret as it is her birthday today, С днем рождения!!

Wednesday, November 22, 2006


Well, the proverbial dust has settled on the annual animation cage match that is the Bradford Animation Festival. And the winners are...staring straight into the camera is Beryl speaking for Joanna Quinn, "Hic!", she exclaimed, "Take that Eisenshhlein!". Joanna's Dreams and Desires-Family Ties, won the Grand Prix prize. The tag team dynamo of Shrigley and Shepherd also rained down their fists of furry surreal bits as Who I am and What I want won the 'Special' Jury prize and Run Wrake's Rabbit is still spitting out gold nuggets to take the Best Professional Film.
We have let these short films parade around this rabbit ring, so I want to spotlight the other winners seperately in the coming days. But, be sure to go to the festival website to check out the full list of winners. Congrats to all the animators that showed at this year's festival as there were so many great films to see and I am glad I wasn't the one to have had to pick the winners out of that crowd. Also, a big thumbs up to the festival programmers and organizers for putting on what reports to be a sold out gladitorial arena. I'll start saving my pennies now so I can afford to go to B.A.F. '07.

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Igor Kovalyov

It's an Igor Kovalyov kinda day and I am having a fit that Global Tantrum seems to be permanently down so I can't watch his stuff!! Oh well, we can still pull a Flying Nansen and do eye calisthenics at Igor's site. If that isn't enough, you can pull a groin muscle over the work of Dima Malanitchev, who is the art production director for Igor. Take a look at Dima's concept designs for a movie called Bridge to Terabithia (Warner Bros. 2007). Brilliant stuff.
I wish I would of seen Igor's original art work when it came to the OIAF. Like I said, it is a Kovalyov kinda of day, filled with regret and loss.

Monday, November 20, 2006

Wicked Pixels

I just wanted to throw this Ident for Musica from Wicked Pixels studio (South Africa). One Bad Note (via YouTube) uses the music of Metallica, Enter the Sandman, and I thought it was a cool tie-in with Paul Barry's short film. Cheesy, yes, but I was trying to look up some stuff about Chuck Jones today and remembered his short called High Note. I would think that Craig Wessels (dir. of One Bad Note) has seen this cartoon and I thought how great that this idea could be updated into this day and age. But then, I thought how sad that in this day and age it is a commercial and every idea has to branded to a corporate logo. Too bad it wasn't a short film unto itself rather than just visual eye candy and humping F and G notes. Taken for what it is though, it rocks!

Thursday, November 16, 2006

Paul Berry

At the B.A.F.(see post below) this year they are paying tribute to Paul Berry. Paul Berry was an amazing stop-motion animator that passed away at the tender age of 40 in 2001. Although, even at that young age he still had been in the animation field for almost 20 years. Personally, I never knew that I was exposed to Paul's work at such an early age but it was he who brought Mr. Toad to life in The Wind in the Willows. Paul worked on several movies for Cosgrove and Hall, that I haven't seen, but it was in 1992 when he made THE SANDMAN (shown above) with MacKinnon and Batty! Now, he not only got my attention but the whole world's attention. Ironically, it was seeing the Sandman that cured my blindness and fed my interest in animation. He has probably fed thousands of other peoples dreams in the art of stop-motion,too! You can now watch The Sandman on YouTube. The thing that amazes me about this film, besides the fluid gestures, is the head of the Sandman is solid (not malleable clay) yet Paul achieves such different looks of expression with lighting or just the tilt of the head or the angle of the camera. Classic!!

Toon In!

This is very cool! Tee Bosustow is producing a radio program, Toon In...to the Masters of Animation! The signal will be sent every Sunday at 7:30am (adjust timezone watches accordingly) starting November 26th. KCLA fm will be the mothership that will beam down that signal to brainwash us all into animation zombies!!! Although if you miss that ship then you can always drag, lurch and decay your undead self to the Toon In website to eat at the brain trough at your own leisure. The initial broadcast will feature the chattering teeth of Tim Roth with future probing guests being Mark Kausler, David Evans, Joe Siracusa, Barri Leiva and many more. Thanx to Maureen Furniss at the Animation Journal for passing this on!

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Bradford Animation Festival '06

The Bradford Animation Festival starts today! I am such an idiot for not scrimpin' together enough coins to go to this. It has a nice selection of films this year, some of which have been highlighted on the bigheaded screen, but, I should of gone just for the special guests alone! I mean kicking off today is Joanna Quinn in conversation with Barry Purves. It doesn't get any better than this...well maybe if you threw in some Jell-o...but other than that! To top that off you have Dave Burgess next to Andreas Hykade, Chris Shephard and Marc Craste!! Eeejit I tell ya!! If Suzie Templeton would of showed up, one would have died and gone to some animation Limbo party!! Please for the love of some giant headed bunny gods (there's gotta be more than one of them...they're rabbits), if you are in Europe, jump in yer wee cars and drive hither and yon to get to this festival...and ah(buy me a shirt)em.

If I were in Toronto I would go to this...

Daniel Barrow will be performing his slide-show sideshow at the Toronto Animated Image Society tonight!! Daniel is a Winnipeg-based artist that uses an overhead projector to illuminate the not so transparent transparencies of his comic book format stories. His performance is in the same vein as Shary Boyle, who we exposed here. If you can't make it out for Daniel, there will be another masterclass and performance by Amy Lockhart this Monday, November 20th. Visit the TAIS website for all the info!!!

Also, I just want to mention that I noticed that one of my favorite NFB animators, Chris Hinton will be giving a masterclass at the Museum of Civilization on November 25th @ 10am. Check out the NFB news for the details. For a look at Chris's work, you can peer through the free hole in the fence to see Blackfly and Flux. Enjoy!

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Fish Heads Fugue and Other Tales of Twilight

The french might have the wine and cheese but gimme some beer and chowder to go with my Fishheads Fugue and Other Tales of Twilight. This short animation was cooked up by Lauren Indovina and Lindsay Mayer-Beug at the Rhode Island School of Design. It was a highlight for me at the OIAF two years ago. It was in Program 1 on opening night and I found it scrawled in my notes for me to go and find more about it. Well, here it is for all to see! It is a piece that is set into motion by old lady puppet on a stage winding up our puppet theater to then witness the inner musings of a smaller internal puppet play. The mixture of various techniques gives texture and a nice disjointed quality that shifts and creeks it's way around the subconscious set. A child's dream? or a dark Gilliam-esque dreamscape that has no place for innocence? Either one, it is an impressive student film that sets the stage for other schools to step up to. (Thanx, No Fat Clips!)

Monday, November 13, 2006


Everyone should know by now that I am an admirer of the student films that come out of the French school, Supinfocom! If I could go back to school to learn computer animation it would be here, mind you that they have an age restriction so I would have to turn back the clock and grow back some hair! Zut Alors!! Anyway, while I work on that time machine the good folks at Fous D'Anim (well I presume they are good lil' devils) have put the needle into the 2006 groove of this year's short films. We have already let you float in zee alphabet soupe of AH! Now, dry yourself off and danse, En Tus Brazos (shown above), your way through Valenciennnes all the way to Arles! Your feet will burn up the discotheque floor and take until Saturday night fever to watch and learn the award winning steps of this bump and grind school! In just a short period of time Supinfocom has x-y and zed it's way onto the international stage and competes with the best of them in creativity and film sensibility. While you are getting down with your CG "partner"--'freaks'-- be sure to thank the good lil' devils at Fous D'anim!!!

Sunday, November 12, 2006

Tomek Baginski

What the...?! I was completely minding my own business when this one from Platige Image came crashing down around my feet. Tomek Baginski's CG-defying world of Fallen Art is doing it's Asphalt Tango on YouTube!! And if that wasn't enough you can also lie flat on your back and dance under the vaulted ribs of his first film, The Cathedral. Tomek is currently working on a cinematic for "The Witcher" video game. I also found this short piece here, Undo. So put on your Sunday best and lie in a fetal position to watch these films.

Friday, November 10, 2006

The 'SmallGantic' world of Bent Image Labs

A gigantic world opened up for me when I pulled back the tiny curtains of Bent Image Labs. Although FEED has beaten me to the autopsy there is still plenty of flesh for me to pick at. Starting with the morsel of a video, Harrowdown Hill, for Thom Yorke that uses 'SmallGantic' technology and shows off the pixelation wizardry of David Russo. You may have been fortunate enough to have seen David Russo's short film, Pan with Us, in last year's Animation Show. If not, check out this snippet of his first short, Populi (via AWN) for a glipse of his time-lapsed Midas touch (or maybe I should say Vulcan touch). If you are in the New York area, you have a chance to go see his latest film, I am Not Van Gogh @ the Black Maria Film Festival (MoMA), plus many other experimental investigations!! Keep your eye on the bird and guess which hand it is in.
Now that David has been sliced open and left exposed, let's turn our attention to the scalpels behind Bent Image Labs. First, let's show the medical wonders that have already made it onto the curiosity shelves of this bunny show: Pascal Campion and the Londons. The other lab mates include the moving image alchemy of Chel White, David Daniel, Kazuo Ohno, Paul Harrod, Jim Clark, Robin Willis and Lisa Yu. You can view a sample of each of their work under the 'Directors Specimen' or Option 2 on the Bent labs site. I especially liked Lisa Yu's "Vessel Wrestling" short film but check them all out. You can also see their latest commercial 'Lux' and one that I saw at this year's OIAF, Ashtraymouth.com! Also, see why they are regularly mentioned in respectable scientific journals here, here and especially here! So, shrink down for the cosmetic testing of Bent Image Labs. I'll even put the rocking chair by the fireplace for you. I can't go without mentioning our friend Toni Hafkenscheid too!

Monday, November 06, 2006

Avian Flu spreading...

Here is a cool video, The Owl, from Emmanuel Ho (who isn't Secretly Canadian) for the Austin band I Love You But I've Chosen Darkness (who are). The video is a taut eye strain that is stealthily brought upon us by intertwining the sound with the anxious image mixed into the veiled plot of the Owl. This is a well executed piece as tension and empathy is built up in such a short period of time with the soundscape. Be sure to check out Emmanuel's other visual experiments on his site.

Another bird themed piece is from PSYOP for an IDent for Mtv HD, Crow. I really like the vein-like explosions of the branches against the white background as it leads the viewer into the expansive pulse of the unveiled landscape. But the best segment is the swarming particle formations of the birds that flare and flit like locusts as it eats into the barren sky. I just thought the comparison of these two pieces were interesting in their emotional effectiveness, using Flash and 3d animation, respectively, in the heightened state of sound and image.

Thursday, November 02, 2006

Friendly P.S.A.'s

Free Range Graphics are the people that brought about the beginning of the Meatrix and the Meatrix II: the Revolting. Now comes their newest adventure, Sam Spud and the Case of PVC. I saw this posted today and thought it would make a nice segway into a couple of other P.S.A.'s that I have seen recently.
Do tell...

This one can be seen circulating around about global warming, The Trees Are Dying. Click3X and MTV are the tentacles w'rap'ped around this public service announcement that doubles as a video for Dr. Octogon! Nice to see some outreach to the young'ins, although the 3 minutes was too much for my attention span.

And the best for last, Humans! This is STASH's Global Student Awards animation winner by the other multi-appendaged studio of Three Legged Legs. This little ditty short sings a song against over-consumption. One of my favorites of the year. Now go and buy it!! Kidding.

Bookfest and Harvey Pekar

Yes, that is right! Harvey Pekar and his wife Joyce Brabner are coming to our lil' Bookfest. They will be giving a talk at the A.G.W. on Saturday, November 4th, starting at 2pm! Be there or send yourself a Harv-e-card to explain why your sorry ass isn't there. I can't help but think that it is more than just chance afoot here: 1) Harvey resides in Cleveland--industrial city just like my own auto belching city, 2) Spent his life as menial filing clerk just like me on the factory line, 3) He is a curmudgeon just like moi (see post below). Maybe there is hope for me after all. Although I will have to befriend a sex-crazed artistic god like Robert Crumb to help bring into focus this craphole life of mine! I've gotta good start tho':) Just have to work on the voice. The talk will be in a small room so you will be able to feel his gravelly voice in your chest so come early as seats are limited.
Get your fill on all things happening in Windsor via the VOICE OF WINDSOR-SOR-OR-R!! That's as special as we get for special FX!

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

Windsor International Film Festival

I know what you're thinking...W.I.F.F.!(certainly an unfortunate anacronym)...but it is all ours! It is appropriate for the smog capital of Canada. Certainly, something smells when a handful of films that are pillaged out of the Toronto Festival are brought in under the guise of an 'International Film Festival'. Most cities would call that a weekly event at their local cinemas. Instead, our fair city, while rolling out the red shag carpet for the local celebs to trip over, throws loads of money and publicity at this well-intentioned shindig. I don't mean to be so negative about it...I am glad that I get to see Michel Gondry's Science of Sleep...but I get frustrated at the lack of vision from our city counselors about 'culture' and the slack-jawed response you get from them. Although, I do realise that things have to start somewhere and I give credit to the W.I.F.F. organizers for putting together some additional screenings during the year and for bringing these films to this backwater-film-distribution- limbo town of mine. Hopefully, next year we will see a local element and/or the inclusion of other local organizations added into the festival program.

Rant: Even though the festival has alot of corporate sponsors this year, they got alot of money from the City last year. This money could of been better spent bolstering existing programs or other art institutions, i.e. MediaCity, or setting up a more permanent film centre. Why can't the city and the private sector invest into long-term solutions rather than ramble on about a 'CuItural Capital'? Put your money where your mouth is!! This isn't the 'Cannes' of Canada. Fix the foundation first. There is no panacea for the cultural barrenness (like the urban sprawl eating up the farmland) that has grown like a spiralling parking-lot tower of bureaucratic babel. It is time for our city counsellor's to wake up and start smelling the roses that are already here rather than gamble away the cultural integrity of our city that has spread from a city block to an arena-sized landfill. A good start would be to let the peers of this artistic community (not just on paper) guide the way to a revitalized 'urban village'. Reminder there is the municipal elections happening soon (Nov. 13th)! Cast your vote accordingly. Until then, "You have left the American Sector"!!

If only it were an Electronic 'time machine' Theatre...

...then I would have gone to THIS in Montreal!! Click on the image to go to Emru and the lads @ FPSmagazine. They get all the fun!!!!