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.

Con­tinue read­ing “Car­toon Ver­sions Of Chem­i­cal Elements” »

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.