Thursday, December 27, 2007

Cartoon Burials

I have been in Cleveland for the last week, and have been lazy as hell. Nothing much to report on. I am taking a short break from Parasite's Delight. I should be back to animating by January 4th, at which I will be back at the Pratt studios in Brooklyn.

In the meantime, I have started watching a couple of (so-called) cartoon burials. First off is Private Snafu, a series of instructional films made by Warner Bros. during World War II. Although they were never meant for general audiences, I find them to be very impressive. And they are quite funny too (in a sick and offensive way). They are currently available as special features on the recent Looney Tunes Golden Collections (since volume 3).

The one below is entitled "Spies," and I consider it to be a perfect introduction to the series. I believe this one is directed by Chuck Jones, although I can't be too sure. I say that because I know Theodore "Dr. Seuss" Geisel wrote most of these, and worked closely with Jones. The one I really want to post is called "Rumors," but I can't find a good copy of it, and I don't like the YouTube version.

I am also struggling to watch the 1972 made-for-TV film Yogi's Ark Lark. So far, I have only seen the first 12 minutes of the 43 minute film, but I can certainly vouch for its mediocrity. But, in saying that, I can not deny that I have a soft spot these Hanna Barbera all-star shows, and watching them is something of a guilty pleasure. It's still better than the mushy Smurfs or Snorks.

I have another schizophrenic post coming up soon.

Monday, December 17, 2007

Artistic Schizophrenia

The following clip is The Cure in 1986. During the filming of a documentary, the group did an impromptu rendition of "Home On The Range."

Someone on YouTube left a comment about the Cure's musical schizophrenia. I like the idea of an artist being considered artistically schizophrenic. It's another, more interesting way of addressing one's diversity. You'd have to be quite a craftsman like Robert Smith (The Cure's leader) to be able to move in that many directions, and still maintain artistic integrity. I need to think more about this idea, but I would love to apply it to other artists.

Friday, December 14, 2007

Winter Break

Nothing new, I just want to keep my posts up. Winter Break has now begun here at Pratt Institute.

Animation wise, I am getting just a little done on Parasite's Delight. I am also trying to find some of Hanna Barbera's unfavorables. I used to be a huge fan of the all-star shows, particularly Yogi's Gang. As a little kid, it impressed me that there could be a whole community of animated characters. It's one of the things that inspires me to want to invent characters.

Unfortunately, they are not as timeless as other HB products, and so there isn't enough demand for these shows to be released on DVD, and are in rare print.

I just had to post this image. The Doggies' mouths fall off for a couple of frames.

I will be heading home to Cleveland next week, but I will still be posting.

Monday, December 10, 2007

The Beatles ~ HELP (End Credits, 1965)

I am trying to find different things to post now, with better images and more things to say. I am thinking about trying to write about people and animators I know personally.

For now, I thought I'd post this video here (yes, I hope at some point to stop relying on You Tube videos). These are the end credits to the Beatles second movie, HELP, directed by Richard Lester in 1965. When I was about ten, I saw this movie on video, and thought it was amazing, and these end credits made a valuable impression on me. At times, images like this make their way into my work. There's just something I love about people showing off. Its not a good idea to show off the first time you meet someone, but when talking to people who know you well enough...well, I'm only guessing.

I hope to do something like this sequence some day, probably with animated characters. Animating characters just showing off; what an idea!

Monday, December 3, 2007

Is it alright to like Hanna Barbera?

Still working away on Parasite's Delight. I am trying to get myself used to the production schedule I have set.

My recent discovery of Top Cat has, as usual, led me to looking up other Hanna Barbera cartoons, as well as their history. I find that I gyrate more towards the TV characters from the late 1950's and early 1960's. Those characters include such charmers as Top Cat, Yogi Bear, Huckleberry Hound, Quickdraw McGraw, Wally Gator, and of course, the Flintstones. However, I have also found that Hanna Barbera is blamed for the decline in the quality of commercial animation. This is particularly true in their 1970's stuff, which I have never been enthusiastic about (the Smurfs, Scooby Doo spin-offs).

I wish I knew where this came from. I want a larger version.

I love animation that has a lot of posing and acting (or what many call classical animation). I feel like I might be criticized for liking HB cartoons. But if there's anything I go for, its characters. No matter how they are drawn or animated, I like fully formed personalities. I see no reason not to like all different forms of animation. I even like stuff that hasn't lasted very long, and even some considerably unsuccessful stuff.

I am excited about the early stuff, because I find the characters to be quite appealing. I love charming characters, possibly because they have qualities I don't have. These same characters were reused in gang of 1980's Saturday Morning cartoons. Those shows, unfortunately, are too humiliating to watch, have terrible coloring (fast food coloring) and have infantile humor. But considering the financial trouble HB was going through at the time, I guess it shouldn't be too surprising. I believe those bad cartoons could have been great with the same characters, but just with better coloring and more inventive plots. I don't mind seeing these great characters over again.

I have been working on my technique lately, although they are less a priority than my film. Here I jotted down some expressions for practice. I just thought I'd share it. I am hoping to get more of my thesis up here, although not everything is as complete as the last clip I posted.

Friday, November 30, 2007

Echo and the Bunnymen ~ "Bring on the Dancing Horses" music video, 1985

I just saw this for the first time on YouTube. It's directed by Anton Corbijn. I rather like this video, but I feel a little strange for liking it. Maybe it is because I like the song, or my appreciation of Corbijn's work. I really don't know why I like this. I would like to know if anybody else actually likes this.

Monday, November 26, 2007

Emmett's Birthday and the discovery of TOP CAT

As usual, my birthday this year just happened to fall upon Thanksgiving, so my family and I had a double celebration. My sister, who is a culinary student, took charge of my birthday treat shown below. All I asked was no chocolate this year, and in turn, I got a lovely collection of cream-filled, sugar glazed pastries (I can't remember what the dish is called, but it was still great).

What did I do on my birthday besides eating? I discovered Hanna Barbera's Top Cat for the first time in my life. Although I had discovered many HB characters when I was a little kid (through one of our local video stores), I never found anything on Top Cat, even though the character popped up in HB images every so often. I found myself attracted to it, which is I guess isn't too sup rising. I find HB's characters to be among the most appealing, right up there with Looney Tunes characters and others.

Along with Top Cat, I also watched a Looney Tunes DVD with my Grandmother. She's getting up there, and it was wonderful to see her laughing. I showed her Bob Clampett's Book Revue with Daffy Duck (one of my favorites). And not only was she laughing, but she was excited to pick out all the celebrities parodied in the cartoon. A true classic.

I would like to wish whoever reads this blog a HAPPY THANKSGIVING.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Pitti and Pogo

Sorry for being so unreliable. My schedule is really hectic, as I am now in the full swing of animating my thesis. I guess if I am going to keep this blog going, I may have to avoid writing entries for a while. I will still put up pictures and videos.

Here is one of the pencil/color tests I have been working on. Pitti is pretty hungry here.

Also, here is a Pogo by Walt Kelly from 1968. I have been getting into Pogo for the last month.

I have spent so much time trying to be a good animator, that I haven't paid enough attention to being a good draftsman (I see a huge difference between the two).

Monday, October 29, 2007

Parasite's Delight ~ an introduction

After months of planning and preparation, I think it is time I posted a couple of items related to my thesis. The working title is Parasite's Delight. It is about a lone parasite, Pitti, who must learn to survive in a post-apocalyptic world. I have posted a few images of Pitti before, but nothing along the lines of the story. I figured I finally post the animatic I have been working with. It is currently undergoing some changes (as all films do). The story seems to be coming together nicely, and I am currently working on getting the visuals nailed down.

I should be able to get a couple of images down here soon as well.

Monday, October 8, 2007

The World is my Critic ~ First Entry

I thought I might try something, just to keep this blog going.

I recently checked out Dan Pinto's blog, and even though he's a student, he's managed to post a drawing up there practically everyday. I'm only acquainted with Dan through a friend, but I'm very impressed. This gave me an idea.

I will post a drawing up here as often as possible...any drawing, no matter how I feel about it. And I urge whoever reads this blog (no matter how few) to give me some pointers on how to better the drawing. Since I am still a student, criticism is really valuable. I will see how often I can keep this idea going.

The drawing here I did very quickly from a paused frame. The character is (I think) called Oily Cat, from Ralph Bakshi's Mighty Mouse series in the late 1980's (I am starting to discovering it, as well as old Terrytoons). I really like this pose, as the character looks like a performer, yet with a very earnest and appealing expression.

Every time I copy an existing cartoon, I analyze my hands (in a manner of speaking) to see what lines and shapes feel comfortable, and eventually I learn something about how I can better my own animation drawing. And mind you, I do not mean for these drawings to look exactly like the original.

Sunday, September 30, 2007

Ottawa 2007

I can’t make up my mind on what to write about the Ottawa International Animation Festival. So forgive me if this entry is too long.

While our trip was slightly unpleasant (we got kicked out of our first hotel for getting too many people in), the animation festival was amazing, and the majority of the films were amazing. There are too many to discuss, so I selected only three for right now.

Achi & SSipak (AAchi Wa SSipak)
(directed by Bum-Jin Joe, South Korea).

The subject of human feces is particularly touchy when handled in animation. Most of the time, shit is just an element of gross-out humor and crass (which I often find to be handled carelessly). The plot of this South Korean film is unique in that the element of shit is crucial to the story. The movie takes place in a future where shit is society’s primary source of energy. As it turns out, anytime someone takes a dump, they are instantly rewarded with a JuicyBar, a desirable and highly profitable treat, addictive to many of the characters in the film.

Franz Kafka's A Country Doctor (Franz Kafka's Inaka Isha)
Koji Yamamura is becoming one of my favorite animators. This is the first time I’ve seen this film, and the second I’ve seen from Yamamura (the first being Mt. Head (Atama Ya). His drawing style is so unique and distinctive, and yet, it suits many moods. And lord knows, this film has many moods, although the most apparent mood is disillusionment.

(Marjane Satrapi and Vincent Paronnaud, France)

This was the Hollywood event of Ottawa. I was lucky enough to see this, because it only had two screenings, and both sold out quickly. I’m not sure what to say about this film, but I can safely say that I can watch it again. Really a great movie.

Pratt’s animators hanging out at the Animator’s Picnic.

Joanna Quinn (one of my great favorites), had a retrospective of her work. I couldn’t get a decent picture of her at the festival, so I am using this one.

Joanna Quinn displays many of her animation drawings. Sights to behold. It was amazing to look at these up close. She truly is one of my favorite artists and animators. I highly urge everyone to check out her work.

Signe Baumane (far left, whose Teat Beat of Sex was in the festival) dances compulsively, while my friend Marina drinks and dances quite casually.

Jessica Button and I enjoyed a brief waltz.

I’ll be back soon.

Friday, September 14, 2007

Learning about Bakshi

It’s been a while since I last posted.

I have no idea how guys like John Kricfalusi and Michael Sporn can update their own blogs practically everyday. Maybe its just the way my mind works.

I’ve got nothing of my own to show at the moment, so for now, I am going onto something else. Make that someone else: Ralph Bakshi.

I will try something different here. While most professional animator’s blogs show established knowledge of a subject, I am going to try and blog the establishment of the interest. Confusing? Basically, I am going to talk about something I don’t know everything about.

For sometime now, I have been building up a fascination with famed animation director, Ralph Bakshi. I learned of Bakshi during a period of interest in animation history, and started looking up the movie Fritz the Cat, famous for being the first animated feature to receive an X rating.

Earlier this year, I watched Heavy Traffic for the first time. Although I was uncertain of it at first, my opinion of it improved quickly. I have to say that it is one of the liveliest animated pieces I have ever seen. I love the character designs, the assorted personalities, the different animation styles (a rarity in most animated features) and the snide and sleazy humor of the whole thing.

Bakshi is a director whom I would take many examples from. After establishing his own brand of animation (adult cartoons based on tragic reality), he a family-friendly flick (Wizards), then a grand epic (The Lord of the Rings), then even more experimenting (American Pop and others), then an impressive venture into television (which I have yet to check out but know a lot about through the blog of Bakshi’s protege, John Kricfalusi). I admire a director who can take on several different ventures and yet maintain their own style (which accounts for my already established interests in directors like Tim Burton and David Lynch).

Bakshi’s last released project was Cool World in 1992. I actually saw Cool World when I was 8 or 9, because I thought it would be like Who Framed Roger Rabbit? (which it clearly isn’t, and which also accounted for the movie’s failure). I plan on watching it again soon. Maybe afterward, I’ll write something on it.

Right now, I plan on watching Bakshi’s film Coonskin on YouTube. I have never seen it, and normally I don’t watch entire movies on YouTube (an exception being The Thief and the Cobbler). Unfortunately, it has yet to be released on DVD, so I am left with few options.

Next week is the Ottawa International Animation Festival. As we did last year, Pratt’s animators will be in attendance. For us, four days of animated films (in large theaters), meeting all sorts of artists, catching some amazing retrospectives (this year includes UPA, Saul Steinberg, and one of my favorites, British animator Joanna Quinn), and of course, getting drunk and dancing like maniacs. I should have a lot to talk about following the festival.

Great poster, huh? I'll be back soon.

Friday, August 31, 2007

Everyone's a (different) critic

I’m just posting for the sake of posting.

I haven’t been able to post anything lately, because its the beginning of the fall ‘07 semester at Pratt (my last year at Pratt). So its been pretty busy, with all my classes and stuff starting up, including my thesis (I hope to have a title for it soon, because I don’t like referring to it as “the thesis”). It’s got a very good story, although I’m instructed that it needs a little more work. I am hoping to spend this Labor Day weekend working on it. That will include doing some storyboards, some of which I might post after presenting them.

In the meantime, there is Illustration. Some of my friends have already taken the Illustration class, and have done some amazing work. I finally have it this semester. I love looking at the work of different illustrators, among my favorites are Gerald Scarfe and (currently) Ronald Searle.

Here are some drawings for life done during the first Illustration class. As I am sure many know, I am the harshest critic when it comes to my own work. I am going to make an attempt to not voice my own criticism so loudly anymore. Some of these drawings came out pretty good and some didn’t. My dad told me recently that maybe the reason I get so bummed out over my drawing is because they don’t look like the people I admire, most of whom have amazing style. I guess I should take the hint. These drawings are how I draw naturally. Most of them have no artist in mind. Its just me trying to get shapes and gestures down.

I hope to have more coming up soon (for the few of you who are still interested in reading this blog).