All posts by Paul Anderson

About Paul Anderson

Paul is an old-timer here at BCDB- his contributions go back to before the site! Paul is widely regarded as a Disney historian, and is also on staff at the Disney Museum in San Francisco. Paul is also a contributing historian for D23, the Disney Club. Paul has published several books and magazine articles on Disney history, too. You are welcome to drop Paul a line here.

Cartoon Versions Of Chemical Elements

arsnicTired of the same old periodic table? Want to breathe some fresh air into the stale old chemicals? That’s is exactly what animator and illustrator Kaycie D. decided to take on a massive character design project. In her thesis project- titled Elements – Experiments in Character Design- at Milwaukee Institute of Art & Design, Kaycie decided she would design a character based on each of the known chemical elements in the periodic table, until she had a complete world of science-inspired cartoon characters.

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Full Paperman Cartoon Short Released On Internet

Paperman

Paperman

Disney short and Oscar contender Paperman has hit the Internets. Yesterday, Disney released the full short, uncut, on the Internet on Huffington Post and Youtube. Directed by John Kahrs, the film is important because it combines the art of hand-drawn, 2D animation with the quality of computer animation seamlessly. The short made it’s theatrical debut paired with Wreck-It Ralph on November 2, 2012.

A relatively simple tale of a boy meets girl chance encounter leads to the hero desperately attempting to re-introduce himself to a pretty girl via the medium of paper planes from his office skyscraper to hers. His failed attempts and passion for his original goal manifest in the hundreds of discarded planes as they try to guide, prod, poke and shove him towards his destination whilst gently persuading the goal of his affections along to a possible reconciliation too.

Premiered at the Annecy Film Festival in France. General release was with Wreck-It Ralph on November 2, 2012.

Blend of 2D and CGI using Meander software.

This is John Kahrs’ first film as a director.

Kahrs said that the concept for the short materialized when he was working as an animator at Blue Sky Studios. Kahrs went on to say, “We brought together as best we could the expressiveness of 2D drawing immersed with the stability and dimensionality of CG. It really goes back to working with Glen Keane on Tangled, watching him draw over all the images.”

The youtube video of the acclaimed short is available on our site from the Paperman Video page.

Other contenders for this years Best Animated Short Oscar include:

Adam & Dog (dir. Minkyu Lee, U.S.A.)
The story about the dog of Eden. What hap­pened in those first days of Cre­ation that made Man and Dog so insep­a­ra­ble? The dog, as he lives through this curi­ous world, encoun­ters a strange crea­ture; a human being named Adam — and with that dis­cov­ers a new-found con­nec­tion to the world.

Fresh Gua­camole (dir. PES, U.S.A.)
Learn how to trans­form famil­iar objects into Fresh Guacamole!

Head Over Heels (dir. Tim­o­thy Reckart, United King­dom)
After many years of mar­riage, Wal­ter and Madge have grown apart: he lives on the floor and she lives on the ceil­ing. When Wal­ter dis­cov­ers a long-lost memento of their wed­ding day, he tries to reignite their old romance. But it brings their equi­lib­rium crash­ing down, and the cou­ple that can’t agree which way is up must find a way to put their mar­riage back
together.

Mag­gie Simp­son in “The Longest Day­care” (dir. David Sil­ver­man, U.S.A.)
Mag­gie Simp­son spends a day at the Ayn Rand Day­care Cen­ter, where she is diag­nosed at an aver­age intel­li­gence level. Long­ing to be grouped with the gifted chil­dren, Mag­gie finds her des­tiny by res­cu­ing a lonely cocoon from Baby Ger­ald, who is busy smoosh­ing butterflies.

Blue Umbrella serves as cover for Monsters U.

The Blue Umbrella

The Blue Umbrella

To be released just before the new feature film Monsters University on June 21, the six-minute short Blue Umbrella will be the first Pixar film to be made by one of its technical artists.

Camera and staging artist Saschka Unseld is the director. Amidst the rain in a singing city, two umbrellas -– one blue, one red -– fall eternally in love.

The blue umbrella notices and takes a shine to the red umbrella. Distance and natural forces halt their attraction, but objects on the street — such as construction signs and a mailbox — come to life to help bring them together again.

Unseld, 36, is a German native who began working with Pixar in 2008. He got the idea when walking in San Francisco and spotting an umbrella lying in the gutter on a rainy day.

“It was the saddest thing. I stood there and wondered what had happened to him. I think that was when I got the idea of giving him a story,” he recalled.

At first, Unseld got ideas for characters by taking iPhone pictures on San Francisco and New York streets. He asked colleagues to do likewise when they went to such places as Chicago and Paris. One character in the film was inspired by his photo of a manhole cover just two from his San Francisco home.

Meanwhile, he was listening to singer Sarah Jaffe’s music. While shooting an animation test on his iPhone, he timed it to her voice.

Jaffe can be heard in the final film: “She’s been there for me since the inception.”

A photorealistic look was needed, according to Unseld: “If we made it stylized and cartoony, the magic of those things coming to life would be completely gone.”

This entailed techniques not previously used by Pixar: global illumination, in which light is simulated as being emitted and reflected off surfaces, and deep compositing, where images holding three-dimensional data are layered. This results in deeper plays between light and shadow, and greater depth of field.

As well, Unseld slowed filming to 12 frames per second — half the usual rate for movies — at some points. He also varied exposure times, thus resulting in different rhythms of rain.

Unusually, Unseld was directing some of his earlier camera and staging co-workers. Often, he said, he felt guilty when he would send them back with many notes for revisions after they had show him their work.

“If you give someone all that feedback to do all that work, I was used to doing part of that work. Here, I just had someone go off and do all that work by himself. That was a very new experience for me,” he said.

At the same time, however, he considered his background advantageous for good communication with them. “If you work in one of those technical departments, it’s really nice if you have a director who really understands you because you can talk the same language,” he said.

A clip from The Blue Umbrella can be seen on our website now.

Disney Considering Layoffs to Cut Costs

Walt Disney Studios

Walt Disney Studios

Layoffs at the Walt Disney Company’s studios and other units may take place in the wake of an internal cost-cutting review begun by the Mouse House several weeks ago, according to “three people with knowledge of the effort.”

Due to improved technology, Disney is pondering cutbacks in jobs that it no longer needs, one of the three told Reuters. It’s also examining redundant aspects of its empire that could be eighty-sixed after several major acquisitions over the past several years, the person added.

Although Disney has used layoffs to smooth operations, staff cuts are not certain at this point, the source added. The company is considering a hiring freeze instead of layoffs, a second source said.

The sources requested anonymity because Disney has not acknowledged the review publicly.

Disney’s studio division is the least profitable of the entertainment giant’s four major product divisions, having had a profit margin of 12.3% last year. Cuts will most likely take place at the studio division, two of the three sources said.

The company has changed its business practices to make fewer films and depend more on such outside studios as Steven Spielberg’s DreamWorks. The studio finances its own films, and paying Disney a marketing and distribution fee.

Tony Wible, an analyst with Janney Montgomery Scott, suggested that Disney may cut jobs at the studio and interactive divisions, along with its music arm. His company has a neutral rating on Disney stock.

“This is not necessarily a negative thing,” Michael Morris, an analyst with Davenport and Co., said of the possible layoffs. “It speaks to a fiscally responsible management.”

Though Morris was unaware of the review, he has a buy recommendation on the stock.

Disney shares dropped Monday by 2.3% to close at $50.97.

Bron Studios Steps Up To Produce CG Sole Mates

Sole Mates

Sole Mates

Vancouver-based Bron Studios announced Tuesday that it is making its first CG-animated feature film, Sole Mates.

Set to begin production next year, the movie is an “animated journey of love, lost and found, with comedic charm and universal themes set in a familiar world from a new point of view.” Bron Studios will team up with Hidden Empire Film Group on the project.

Sole Mates is based on an original concept by Deon Taylor (Chain Letter).

Bron managing director Aaron L. Gilbert will be one of the producers, joining Taylor and Ahmet Zappa (The Odd Life of Timothy Green).

Taylor has produced, directed and written several other projects, including The Hustle (Charlie Murphy) and the drama Supremacy, with Danny Glover.

Hayao Miyazaki to Release First Animated Movie in 5 Years

Kaze Tachinu (The Wind Rises)

Kaze Tachinu (The Wind Rises)

Japanese animator Hayao Miyazaki’s first film in five years will come out next year, distributor Toho announced Thursday.

Miyazaki will release wartime romance Kaze Tachinu, based on the novel of the same name, usually translated as The Wind Has Risen.

He created Spirited Away, which a 2003 Oscar for Best Animated Feature. His last movie was 2008′s Ponyo.

The protagonist of Kaze Tachinu is based on flight engineer Jiro Horikoshi, designer of the Zero fighter, Japan’s best known Second World War fighter aircraft.

Also next year, longtime Miyazaki collaborator Isao Takahata will release his first new film in over a decade. Kaguya Hime No Monogatari will be based on Taketori Monogatari (The Tale of the Bamboo Cutter). Japan’s oldest novel, Taketori Monogatari is thought to have been written over 1,000 years ago.

Washington, D.C.-area Film Critics Like ParaNorman

ParaNorman

ParaNorman

ParaNorman” was named Best Animated Feature of 2012 by the Washington, D.C. Area Film Critics Association on Monday morning.

The movie defeated fellow nominees Brave, Frankenweenie, Rise of the Guardians and Wreck-It Ralph.

WAFCA honored a wide sweep of films, ranging from musicals to science fiction. And while only three films garnered more than one award, it was clear that historical/political dramas resonated most with the critics from America’s capital.

Zero Dark Thirty, the account of United States intelligence specialists’ and Army special forces’ pursuit and elimination of terrorist Osama bin Laden, won Best Film. In 2009, Kathryn Bigelow became the first woman to ever win the WAFCA prize for Best Director for her Iraq War film, The Hurt Locker. Just three years later, Bigelow has won the same award again for Zero Dark Thirty.

“In a year full of strong films,” said WAFCA president Tim Gordon, “director Kathryn Bigelow’s bold and audacious vision, represented in our Best Picture winner, is the perfect political story for our members in the District of Columbia. This story, told with steely, cold effectiveness, is a worthy entry into WAFCA’s Best Picture canon and a cinematic achievement that we are proud to honor.”

Zero Dark Thirty also netted Jessica Chastain her first Best Actress award. Daniel Day-Lewis won Best Actor for his riveting portrayal of President Abraham Lincoln in the year’s other outstanding historical drama, Lincoln. Best Supporting Actor went to Philip Seymour Hoffman for The Master, and Best Supporting Actress went to Anne Hathaway for Les Miserables, which also scooped the Best Acting Ensemble.

The screenplay awards covered two very different films: Best Adapted Screenplay went to David O. Russell for his story of love and shared neuroses in Silver Linings Playbook, and Rian Johnson won Best Original Screenplay for his time travel mind-bender, Looper.

The award for Best Documentary went to Bully, while that for Best Foreign Language Film was presented to Michael Haneke’s Amour. Best Art Direction went to Cloud Atlas, while Claudio Miranda won Best Cinematography for Life of Pi, and Jonny Greenwood took Best Score for The Master.

New this year, WAFCA proudly instituted The Joe Barber Award for Best Youth Performance, named in honor of beloved D.C. film critic and longtime WTOP arts editor Joe Barber, who died just over a year ago. The award, which highlights the best performance from an actor or actress under 20, went to Quvenzhane Wallis for Beasts of the Southern Wild.

“It’s a shame Joe was not able to see Quvenzhane’s fierce and compassionate performance in this gem of a film,” said Gordon. “It’s exactly the sort of role Joe would have loved, and we are so thankful to be able to remember him going forward with this very special award.”

The Washington, D.C. Area Film Critics Association is comprised of nearly 50 film critics from TV, radio, print and the Internet based in the District of Columbia, Virginia and Maryland. Voting was conducted from Friday to Sunday.

National Board of Review Lauds Animated Wreck-It Ralph

Wreck-It Ralph

Wreck-It Ralph

Disney’s “Wreck-It Ralph” has been named Best Animated Feature of 2012 by the National Board of Review, the Board announced Thursday.

John Goodman was given the Spotlight Award for several roles, including his voice work in the animated Paranorman. (He was also recognized for his work in the live-action Argo, Flight and Trouble With the Curve.)

The National Board of Review awards are often considered the beginning of the movie awards season.

Meanwhile, Zero Dark Thirty was named the 2012 Best Film of the Year by the organization.

Zero Dark Thirty is a masterful film,” said NBR president Annie Schulhof. “Kathryn Bigelow takes the viewer inside a definitive moment of our time in a visceral and unique way. It is exciting, provocative and deeply emotional.”

Bigelow was named Best Director for her work on the film, while Jessica Chastain was named Best Actress.

The other films on the top 10 list are (in alphabetical order) Argo, Beasts of the Southern Wild, Django Unchained, Les Miserables, Lincoln, Looper, The Perks of Being a Wallflower, Promised Land and Silver Linings Playbook.

For Silver Linings Playbook, Bradley Cooper won for Best Actor and David O. Russell for Best Adapted Screenplay.

Beasts of the Southern Wild earned Quvenzhané Wallis an award for Breakthrough Actress and Benh Zeitlin one for Best Directorial Debut.

The Top 5 Foreign Language Films were Barbara, The Intouchables, The Kid With a Bike, No and War Witch.

Top 5 Documentaries (In Alphabetical Order): Ai Weiwei: Never Sorry, Detropia, The Gatekeepers, The Invisible War and Only the Young.

Top 10 Independent Films (In Alphabetical Order): Arbitrage, Bernie, Compliance, End of Watch, Hello I Must Be Going, Little Birds, Moonrose Kingdom, On the Road, Quartet and Sleepwalk With Me.

Other awards given by the National Board of Review:

Best Supporting Actor: Leonardo DiCaprio, Django Unchained
Best Supporting Actress: Ann Dowd, Compliance
Best Original Screenplay: Rian Johnson, Looper
Special Achievement in Filmmaking: Ben Affleck, Argo
Breakthrough Actor: Tom Holland, The Impossible
Best Foreign Language Film: Amour
Best Documentary: Searching For Sugarman
William K. Everson Film History Award: 50 years of Bond films
Best Ensemble: Les Miserables
NBR Freedom of Expression Award: Central Park Five
NBR Freedom of Expression Award: Promised Land

A select group of knowledgeable film enthusiasts and professionals, academics, young filmmakers and students, the National Board of Review viewed over 250 films this year, including animated, studio, independent, foreign-language and documentary selections. These screenings were frequently followed by in-depth discussions with filmmakers, directors, actors, producers, and screenwriters. Voting ballots were tabulated by the accounting firm of Lutz & Carr, LLP.

The National Board of Review honors diverse members of the film community at their annual Awards Gala, which also acts as a fundraiser for student grant philanthropy. Hosted by Meredith Vieira, this year’s gala will take place January 8 at Cipriani 42nd Street in New York City.

1928 Mickey Mouse Poster Sells for Over $100,000

Mickey Mouse Poster

Mickey Mouse Poster

Believed to be the earliest known poster of the world’s most famous mouse, a 1928 movie poster of Mickey Mouse sold Thursday for over $100,000, Dallas-based Heritage Auctions announced.

Though it had been expected to bring at least $20,000, the poster ended up selling for $101,575. The name of the winning bidder was not released.

It came from the collection of the late Crowell Havens Beech, a major movie poster collector and dealer in Northern California. The poster is considered unique.

“After buying it nearly 25 years ago, Beech secreted the poster away from everyone — even his family,” Heritage Auctions said.

In a statement, Grey Smith, director of movie poster auctions at Heritage Auctions, called the poster “an important piece of pop culture treasure.” He said that it probably was the only Mickey Mouse poster made until 1930.

A poster for another Disney cartoon — Alice’s Day At Sea, a 1924 Alice Comedy by Walt Disney for M.J. Winkler Productions — was sold at Christie’s in London for the equivalent of $36,534 U.S. in April 1994. At the time, Guinness World Records said that this was the highest price ever paid for a cartoon poster.

Jennifer Lee joins Chris Buck to direct Disney’s Frozen

Frozen

Frozen

Walt Disney Animation Studios announced Thursday that it has tapped Jennifer Lee to join Chris Buck at the helm of its 53rd full-length animated feature, Frozen, which is slated for the big screen on November 27, 2013.

Lee, who has contributed to the film’s screenplay, is one of the screenplay writers of this year’s arcade-hopping adventure Wreck-It Ralph.

The comedy-adventure Frozen features the voices of Kristen Bell and Idina Menzel.

When a prophecy traps a kingdom in eternal winter, Anna, a fearless optimist, teams up with extreme mountain man Kristoff and his sidekick reindeer Sven on an epic journey to find Anna’s sister Elsa, the Snow Queen, and put an end to her icy spell. Encountering mystical trolls, a funny snowman named Olaf, Everest-like extremes and magic at every turn, Anna and Kristoff battle the elements in a race to save the kingdom from destruction.

Frozen producer Peter Del Vecho says that the match-up is perfect: “Jenn has a real connection to the film and creates dynamic and relatable characters. Her sense of comedy, adventure and story structure, paired with Chris Buck’s vast experience and incredible instincts, create an ideal situation for this film.”

Lee’s screen adaptation of John Steinbeck’s The Acts of King Arthur and His Noble Knights is being produced by Troika Pictures. She has an original screenplay in development with Leonardo DiCaprio’s Appian Way, and her original script Lucid Dreams was optioned by Wolfgang Peterson’s Radiant Productions. Lee holds an MFA in Film from Columbia University and a BA in English from the University of New Hampshire.

Buck directed (with Kevin Lima) Disney’s 1999 high-swinging feature Tarzan, which won an Oscar and a Golden Globe for Best Music/Original Song (Phil Collins’ “You’ll Be in My Heart“). He directed (with Ash Brannon) 2007′s Oscar-nominated Surf’s Up for Sony Pictures Animation. His credits within animation also include 1989′s The Little Mermaid, The Rescuers Down Under (1990) and Pocahontas (1995).

With original songs by Tony Award winner Robert Lopez (The Book of Mormon, Avenue Q) and Kristen Anderson-Lopez (In Transit), Frozen appears in Disney Digital 3D in select theaters. For more information, visit www.facebook.com/DisneyFrozen.