Monthly Archives: January 2013

Cartoon of the Day: Bosko In Dutch

Bosko In Dutch

Bosko In Dutch

An early Looney Tune, Bosko In Dutch is generally unremarkable in its story telling, animation or direction. However, the short is important because this was the first cartoon that one of the greatest cartoon directors ever supervised- albeit uncredited.

Bosko and Honey get in and out of trouble. Just like usual, only thins time in Holland. You can tell because every building has a windmill.

The last appearance of Goopy Geer (seen here in a cameo).

The first cartoon directed by Isador “Friz” Freleng (who was uncredited).

The song “Ach du lieber Augustine,” better known to school kids as “Hail to the Bus Driver Man,” is on the soundtrack.

Cartoon of the Day: Herr Meets Hare

Herr Meets Hare

Herr Meets Hare

Back to World War II with Herr Meets Hare, an Isadore Freleng propaganda film from 1945. And who wouldn’t want to see Adolf and Herman face off against…. Bugs Bunny!

Hermann Goering heads to the Black Forest for rest and relaxation; because of a wrong turn in Albuquerque, so does Bugs, who encounters “Fatso” while trying to get to Las Vegas. Bugs taunts the Nazi, who captures him and takes him to Adolf Hitler, but Bugs gets the last laugh- disguised as Stalin.

Great parodies of Goering and Hitler. Lew Lehr is also caricatured.

The first short in which Bugs takes that wrong turn at Albuquerque.

Cartoon of the Day: Batman (Opening Titles)

Batman (Opening Titles)

Batman (Opening Titles)

Not a cartoon per se, but one of the most famous animated sequences ever on TV…. the 1966 Batman Opening Titles paved the way for a whole generation of super hero cartoons on television. As a mid-season replacement series, Batman began on ABC on this date in 1966.

Coming in as a mid-season replacement, Batman was the second super hero to get a television show. But this one did not take it self quite as seriously as the version of Superman in the 1950’s. Starring Adam West as Batman, and Burt Ward as his side-kick Robin, the pair were on two nights a week, with a cliff hanger episode between the shows.

The show spawned a movie, produced as they shot the show, and appearing in theaters between the first and second seasons. The movie had no animated opening title. The series ran for 120 episodes and ending in 1968 with a series of single episode shows.

Though type-cast by the show, both its stars would return to play the caped crusaders again in Filmations’ The New Adventures of Batman in 1977.

So, does anyone out there know who actually did the animation for this opening title sequence?

3 Animated Features up For British Academy Awards

British Academy of Film and Television Arts (BAFTA)

British Academy of Film and Television Arts (BAFTA)

Brave,” “Frankenweenie” and “ParaNorman” are the three nominees announced Wednesday in the Animated Film category of the EE British Academy Film Awards, also known as the BAFTAs.

Mark Andrews and Brenda Chapman were singled out for recognition for Brave. Director Tim Burton was named in connection with Frankenweenie, while Sam Fell and Chris Butler were cited for ParaNorman.

In the category “Outstanding Debut By a British Writer, Director or Producer,” director James Bobin is nominated for his role in Disney’s partly animated The Muppets.

For Short Animation, the nominees are Here to Fall (Kris Kelly and Evelyn McGrath), I’m Fine Thanks (Eamonn O’Neill) and The Making of Longbird (Will Anderson and Ainslie Henderson).

The British Academy Film Awards are similar to the Oscars in the United States.

Lincoln received 10 nominations, the most of any film. Lincoln is nominated for Best Film, Adapted Screenplay, Original Music, Cinematography, Production Design, Costume Design and Make Up & Hair. Daniel Day-Lewis is nominated for Leading Actor, Tommy Lee Jones is nominated for Supporting Actor, and Sally Field is nominated for Supporting Actress.

The EE British Academy Film Awards take place Sunday, February 10 at the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden, London. The ceremony will be hosted by Stephen Fry and will be broadcast exclusively on BBC One and BBC One HD, preceded by a red carpet show on BBC Three. The ceremony is also broadcast in all major territories around the world.

The awards are presented by the British Academy of Film and Television Arts (BAFTA), an independent charity that supports, develops and promotes the art forms of the moving image by identifying and rewarding excellence, inspiring practitioners and benefiting the public.

Cartoon of the Day: The Sunshine Makers

The Sunshine Makers

The Sunshine Makers

Not a whole lot to choose from today, so I decided to go for unusual. The Sunshine Makers is from Van Beuren Studios Rainbow Parade Theatrical Cartoon Series, and while it may not be the most obscure choice I could make, it is certainly not a series many are knowledgeable of.

This is the story of a community of happy, identical little gnomes who have the ability to distill sunshine into a bottled elixir. Anyone consuming this liquid immediately begins singing and capering about in perfect happiness (despite the obviously radioactive nature of the stuff; it causes an x-ray effect on anyone who drinks it or bathes in it).

In a gloomy forest nearby lives a bunch of misery-loving goblins who only feel good when they feel bad. Seeing the sunshine gnomes as a threat to their way of life, they mount a lame attack on the gnome village. The gnomes fight back by bombarding the goblins with bottles of the sunshine elixir. Soon, the goblins are thoroughly assimilated and everyone is happy.

Originally released as a promotional film for Borden’s Milk, thus the “Borden” script on the title card.

So if you are in the mood to see some early (1935) and unusual animation, pop over to BCDB today and give this one a look… and let us know what you think!

The Animation Oscar Nominees

Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences Oscar

Oscar Time!

It’s Oscar time! Disney comes in strong and stop motion is this years darling.

This morning, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences announced the nominees for this years Oscars. There are two main areas of competition for animation, the Feature Length and the short awards. This year, the nominees are…

In a word, Disney. The perennial animation powerhouse leads the field with three films in consideration for Best Animated Feature. Perhaps even more surprising is that DreamWorks best hope- Rise Of The Guardians- was left out altogether. Also interesting is that there are three stop-motion features in the list this year, in a short field of only five films.

For Best Animated Feature, the nominees are:

Brave- Mark Andrews, Brenda Chapman
Frankenweenie- Tim Burton
ParaNorman- Sam Fell, Chris Butler
The Pirates! Band of Misfits- Peter Lord
Wreck-It Ralph- Rich Moore

The field for Best Animated Short Film is a diverse field, as usual. The nominees here are:

Adam And Dog- Minkyu Lee
Fresh Guacamole- PES
Head Over Heels- Timothy Reckart, Fodhla Cronin O’Reilly
The Longest Daycare- David Silverman
Paperman- John Kahrs

The Oscar nominations for the 85th Academy Awards were announced this morning by Seth MacFarlane and Emma Stone. The announcements were made at the Academy’s Samuel Goldwyn Theater in Beverly Hills.

Academy Awards for outstanding film achievements of 2012 will be presented on Oscar Sunday, February 24, 2013, at the Dolby Theater in Hollywood California and hosted by Seth MacFarlane. This year, the Oscar show also will be televised live in more than 225 countries worldwide.

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.

Cartoon of the Day: The Missing Mouse

The Missing Mouse

The Missing Mouse

From nearly the end of the theatrical series, The Missing Mouse was unique in a few ways. Popular voice actor Paul Frees- Captain Hook from Disney’s Peter Pan from the same year- handles the voice duties for this short, and therein is one of the unique aspects of the film.

While Jerry is looting the fridge, Tom comes by and hammers him… He pinches Jerry’s tail in a mousetrap, and while running away, the mouse spills a bottle of white shoe polish on himself.

Suddenly, the radio blurts out that an experimental “explosive” white mouse has escaped from the lab. Tom sees Jerry and is frightened to death. Jerry takes advantage, and keeps trying to fall off shelves and such… the cat catching him no matter what. Tom lets irons and pianos fall on him instead of Jerry.

When the mouse falls in the sink, Tom realizes that he’s been a fool; he hits Jerry with a hammer and throws him out. The real white mouse then enters, and when Tom washes the fake one and then sees Jerry, he ages 50 years! The radio then announces that the explosive mouse is no longer dangerous… Tom strikes him and BOOM! The cat sticks his head out of the rubble and says, “Don’t you believe it!”

This is one of the rare cartoons in which Tom speaks; although here it sounds as though he is imitating character actor Ned Sparks in the final scene.

This is the only Tom and Jerry cartoon (and possibly the only MGM cartoon) for which Scott Bradley does not receive music credit.



Warner Brothers Diving into Animation Think Tank

Warner Bros.

Warner Bros.

Warner Bros. Pictures has formed a feature animation creative consortium, marking a new and innovative approach to the establishment of a diverse and far-reaching animation slate, Warner Bros. Pictures Group president Jeff Robinov announced Monday.

The mission of the new think tank is to help develop and produce high-end animated motion pictures, with the goal of releasing one feature per year under the Warner Bros. Pictures banner. The select team of accomplished filmmakers will collaborate with the studio to frame and guide a variety of projects from start to finish.

The artists who will be involved in Warner Bros.’ new feature animation venture are John Requa and Glenn Ficarra (Crazy, Stupid, Love, Cats & Dogs); Nicholas Stoller (The Muppets), Phil Lord and Chris Miller (Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs), and Jared Stern (Mr. Popper’s Penguins).

The filmmakers will work both individually and collectively, supporting one another artistically in the making of the films. They will not be exclusive to the studio’s animated film productions; rather, they will also continue to write and direct live-action movies. “This new endeavor reflects Warner Bros.’ ongoing commitment to being a filmmaker-friendly studio, which invites and fosters original projects, continually expanding the entertainment scope of its slate,” WB said.

“Warner Bros. has an extraordinary legacy in the world of animation, including some of the most enduring characters in cinema history. Looking to the future, we have now gathered some of the best and brightest talents in the industry to help us grow and broaden that legacy,” Robinov stated. “Drawing upon their imaginations and inspiration, the studio will produce a slate of new and original animated films that are sure to delight audiences of all ages.”

The first feature in the pipeline is the upcoming 3D animated adventure The LEGO Movie, being directed by Lord and Miller from their own screenplay. Bringing the globally popular LEGO construction toys to the big screen for the first time, the film is being produced by Dan Lin and Roy Lee and stars the voices of Chris Pratt, Will Ferrell, Elizabeth Banks, Liam Neeson, Will Arnett, Nick Offerman, Alison Brie and Morgan Freeman. The animation is largely being accomplished at Australia’s Animal Logic.

A presentation of Warner Bros. Pictures in association with Village Roadshow Pictures, The LEGO Movie is slated for release on February 7, 2014.

Among the other projects being developed are Storks, conceived and being written by Stoller, and to be directed by Oscar nominee Doug Sweetland (PIXAR short Presto); and Smallfoot, to be written by Requa and Ficarra, from an original idea by Sergio Pablos (Despicable Me), who is also set to direct. The films are being targeted for release in 2015 and 2016, respectively.

The development of animated features will be overseen at Warner Bros. by Courtenay Valenti, Chris deFaria and Greg Silverman. Overall look, character design and the story reel process will be housed in Burbank, California; however, the studio will look to partner with established animation studios for production of the films.

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.