Aardman For FSCS Agency

Another advert from Aardman. I've seen this one a lot on TV recently and it was instantly recognisable as work from Aardman. I've posted quite a bit about Aardman already, can you tell I'm a fan?

Aardman For Swedbank

Director Steve Harding-Hill and the Aardman crew break out a series of almost-forgotten traditional production techniques on this stop-motion gem for a 190-year old Swedish bank. What techniques and how traditional? Watch the advert and the nicely-done making of here…

The Gloaming Trailer

Early last decade, Paris directing collective Nobrain arrived on the first wave of the current flood of astounding French animation/VFX talent. Now they’re back to tease us with this peek at their venture into longer format called “The Gloaming” produced by Autour de Minuit and Sabotage Studio.

An Eye For Annai

This film was done by Jon Klassen and Dan Rodrigues in their third year at Sheridan College's Classical Animation Program, some time way back in 2005. Everything is hand drawn and animated. They coloured the animation digitally, and the backgrounds are a mix of traditional and digital. Super cute and I’m glad I revisited it. Enjoy!

Gnomeo & Juliet VS Yogi Bear

I can't decide which of these two animated CGI fests is going to be worse. If I actually get round to seeing either I'll let you know what I think. I have more to lose by watching Yogi as I was quite fond of the Hanna Barbera cartoons as a child, I don't want this movie trampling over those memories.

The World History Of Animation

The World History Of Animation

Hardcover: 416 pages
Publisher: Rotovision (1 Mar 2011)
RRP: £40.00
ISBN-10: 2888930684
ISBN-13: 978-2888930686

This book is a worldwide history of animation, featuring key players working across Europe, North America, and Asia. Since the earliest days of the genre, animation has developed multiple iterations, creating a myriad of dynamic styles, innovative techniques, much loved characters, and memorable stories delivered as films, television serials, in TV commercials, video games, and on the web. Organized chronologically, this comprehensive tome covers pioneers, feature films, television programs, digital feature films, games, independent films, and the web. Must-see films are also listed, accompanied by synopses and stills. The achievements of individuals and studios are highlighted, with in-depth biographies. Notable characters are introduced and profiled, and landmark technical innovations are explained.

Stephen Cavalier has almost two decades of experience in the animation and games industries. He has written and directed award-winning shorts, has been employed in the animation team at Steven Spielberg's studio, and as an animation director for Disney and the BBC. Stephen also runs his own company working as an animator, writer, and director.

Staying Alive By Ernest Zacharevic

Shaun The Sheep In 3D

Aardman Animations is creating an exclusive series of 1 minute shorts of popular children’s show ‘Shaun the Sheep’ in 3D for the highly anticipated Nintendo 3DS console. The partnership was announced last week during Nintendo’s European press launch for the 3DS in Amsterdam.

The Nintendo 3DS, which launches on the 25th March 2011, will be the first portable 3D entertainment device and is set to revolutionise the 3D experience by removing the need to wear special glasses.

“Nintendo 3DS is not just about being able to watch and play in 3D without glasses – it also offers unique social experiences” said Laurent Fischer, Nintendo of Europe’s Managing Director of Marketing & PR. “In the way Wii brought families together, Nintendo 3DS will appeal to a broad range of people.”

Aardman, which is currently in production on two 3D feature films, now faces the exciting challenge of creating some of the first bespoke animated content for this brand new 3D format.

Aardman’s Co-founder and Executive Chairman, David Sproxton, who gave a presentation on behalf of Aardman at the 3DS launch, said, “As a company we are always looking ahead to the next ‘big thing’, and the technological advances that will improve our audience’s experience. We are already working with 3D formats as a studio on our upcoming feature films, but when we first experienced the Nintendo 3DS it’s safe to say all of us were completely blown away. To be contributing to something as innovative as the 3DS from the very outset is an extraordinary experience for us and we’re looking forward to seeing Shaun the Sheep on 3DS and working with Nintendo going forwards.”

The Animated Films Of Ralph Bakshi

Ralph Bakshi worked his way up from Brooklyn and became an animation legend. Born on October 29, 1938, in Haifa, Palestine, Bakshi grew up in Brownsville after his family came to New York to escape World War II. Bakshi attended the Thomas Jefferson High School and was later transferred to the High School of Industrial Arts and graduated with an award in cartooning in 1957. He has animated numerous shorts and worked on several cartoon series most notably ‘Spider-Man’ and ‘Mighty Mouse’. Below is an overview of his feature length animated works...

Cool World (1992)
Jack Deebs is a cartoonist who is due to be released from jail. His comic book "Cool World" describes a zany world populated by "doodles" (cartoon characters) and "noids" (humanoids). What Jack didn't realise is that Cool World really does exist, and a "doodle" scientist has just perfected a machine which links Cool World with our world. Intrigued at seeing his creating come to life, Jack is nonetheless wary as he knows that not everything in Cool World is exactly friendly.

Hound Town (1989)
In a suburban community, Rusty, a small put-upon mutt, gets a new neighbour with a gorgeous poodle who is recently retired from the movie business. Unfortunately, the more macho dogs approach her first for a date and Rusty accepts the inevitable. That night, the head dog's drunken advances severely offend her and she runs off after clobbering him. Rusty finds the inconsolable poodle, and he charms her with his witty nature and honest efforts to show her to a good time to cheer her up. It suddenly seems things are looking up for them, provided if Rusty can get back home before his guardians find out.

Christmas In Tattertown (1988)
Christmas in Tattertown was originally the pilot for a proposed series called Tattertown created by Ralph Bakshi for Nickelodeon. It follows the adventures of a little girl and her two dolls: a dog and a girl. With her imagination, the girl and the dolls wind up in Tattertown, a place where all the lost items wind up. If you've never heard of Christmas in Tattertown, that's because it only aired during the holiday seasons of 1988-1992 on Nickelodeon. The special has never been released on VHS or DVD.

Fire And Ice (1983)
In this animated tale, a tiny village is destroyed by a surging glacier, which serves as the deadly domain for the evil Ice Lord, Nekron. The only survivor is a young warrior, Larn, who vows to avenge this act of destruction. The evil continues, however, as Nekron's palace of ice heads straight towards Fire Keep, the great fortress ruled by the good King Jarol. When Jarol's beautiful daughter, Teegra, is abducted by Nekron's sub-human ape-like creatures, Larn begins a daring search for her. What results is a tense battle between good and evil, surrounded by the mystical elements of the ancient past. To be perfectly honest this is probably the last decent work Bakshi did, it gets a bit crap from this point on in his career.

Hey Good Lookin’ (1982)
A middle-aged woman meets a strange man on the streets at night who shows her the remains of a leather jacket. He takes her back to Brooklyn of 1953, and tells her about Vinnie, his gang, the Stompers, his girl Roz, his friend Crazy Shapiro, and the all-out rumble with the black rival gang, the Chaplins.

American Pop (1981)
‘American Pop’ is the animated story of a very talented and troubled family starting with 19th century Russia and moving through several generations of musicians. The film covers American music from the pre-jazz age through soul, '50s rock, drug-laden psychadelia, and punk, finally ending with the onset of new wave in the early 1980s.

Lord Of The Rings (1978)
Everyone knows the Lord of the Rings story, either from the Tolkien books or Peter Jackson’s film trilogy, so I’m not going to bore you here. What I will say is Bakshi created a wonderful animation adaptation of the first half of the Lord Of The Rings story, It’s just a shame it wasn’t better received at the time and a sequel, to finish the story, might have been realised. It would have been great to see Bakshi’s take on Shelob, The Cracks of Doom or The Path of the Dead. Bakshi was heavily criticised for his use of rotoscoping (a technique in which animators trace over live action footage frame by frame.) I think Bakshi used this technique to great effect giving the animation a distinct quality that only adds to the overall style and enjoyment of the film.

Wizards (1977)
In a post apocalyptic future that appears as a blend of World War II Europe and J.R.R. Tolkien's Middle-earth, a pint-size wizard named Avatar must save the world from a band of fascist mutants controlled by his evil twin brother, Blackwolf, who likes to confuse enemy armies by projecting films of Adolf Hitler speeches during attacks. Painted live-action footage of advancing Nazi armies contrasts with Saturday-morning-cartoon-style animation of fairies and elves as Avatar travels through various magical and radioactive realms on his quest. Aiding him are a sexually promiscuous fairy queen, a hot-blooded warrior elf and Peace, a misunderstood robot rebelling against his Blackwolf-controlled programming. A bizarre and psychedelic meditation on magic vs. Technology.

Coonskin (1975)
A multi-layered satire of race relations in America. Live-action sequences of a prison break bracket the animated story of Brother Rabbit, Brother Bear, and Preacher Fox, who rise to the top of the crime ranks in Harlem by going up against a con-man, a racist cop, and the Mafia.

Heavy Traffic (1973)
A white dropout struggles to create comics and animated films, drawing inspiration from the harsh, gritty world around him. Still sharing his run-down apartment with his middle-aged parents, an oafish slob of an Italian father and a ditzy nut-case of a Jewish mother, he is ridiculed and looked down upon by his friends, hypocrites who run with violent gangs and the Italian Mafia, and a shallow Black girl who makes her living downtown with the pimps and pushers. This cartoonist gets a chance to pitch a film idea to a movie mogul, but the story proves too outrageous: a far-future Earth, destroyed by war and pollution, where a mutant antihero challenges and kills God.

Fritz The Cat (1972)
A persiflage on the protest movements of the 60s. Its hero is the bold and sex-obsessed tom-cat Fritz the Cat, as created by the legendary underground artist Robert Crumb. Quitting university Fritz the Cat wanders through the hash, Black Panther and Hell's Angels scenes to find to himself.

Kihachiro Kawamoto

Kihachiro Kawamoto was a Japanese designer and maker of puppets, an animator, writer and director of independently-made stop motion films and president of the Japan Animation Association, succeeding founder Osamu Tezuka, from 1989 until his own death at the end of 2010.

Japanese filmmaker Kihachiro Kawamoto was renowned for his inventive frame-by-frame style of animated short films, which use a variety of models, including puppets and paper-cutout characters. Here is an excerpt from ‘House Of Flame’

Three And A Half Seconds About Life By Eran Hilleli

Mary & Max

I've just finished watching 'Mary & Max' which was released on DVD earlier this week.

"Director Adam Elliot returns to the world of clay animation with this simple tale of the innocent correspondence between a portly eight year old girl from the suburbs of Melbourne and a morbidly obese, middle-aged Jewish New Yorker suffering from Asperger's Syndrome. On the surface it would seem that Mary (Toni Collette) and Max (Philip Seymour Hoffman) would have little in common, but over the course of twenty years, the unlikely pen pals exchange letters discussing everything from taxidermy, trust, pets, religion, obesity, autism, agoraphobia, alcoholism, and just about any other topic that comes to mind as they sit down and put pen to paper."

I've seen some of Adam Elliot’s earlier shorts before, including the Academy Award-winning 'Harvie Krumpet', so my expectations for 'Mary & Max' were high. I'm glad to say the film didn't disappoint. The film manages to be both sickly cute and alarmingly grotesque, but in equal measures incredibly touching and hilarious. Adam Elliot has drawn on his own experience of having an Aspergers pen pal in New York when he was growing up and in my opinion handles the subject with a profound and uncannily accurate understanding with appropriate sensitivity. For fans of Adam Elliot's work there are many in jokes and nods to his earlier films.

Posted below is Adam Elliot's Academy Award winning short 'Harvie Krumpet'

Essie Jain - What A Big Wide World

‘What A Big Wide World ‘ is the new single by Essie Jain, taken from the album ‘Until The Light Of Morning’, on Leaf records. The video was directed by the very talented Carolina Melis.


Tezcatlipoca’ is a three minute animated short from 2009 by Robin George, inspired by the music from Tchaikovsky’s Swan Lake and the Aztec myth of Tezcatlipoca, a “deity who descends from heaven in the form of a jaguar”. This was George’s senior thesis at Southern Adventist University’s School of Visual Art and Design. The animation department there is run by Disney veteran animator, Hendel Butoy (The Black Cauldron, Fantasia 2000).


I was recently introduced to 'Komaneko' by a friend, it's a very cute Japanese stop motion animation. I've posted all four parts of the film 'True Friends'. It's worth watching through to the end.

The Tale Of The White Serpent

The film is essentially an adaptation of the Song dynasty folktale from Chinese mythologyMadame White Snake’.  Shin Uehara adapted the folktale and kept the Chinese-style characters and names. Xu-Xian, a young boy, once owned a pet snake in West Lake until his parents forced him to give her up. Years pass and during a violent storm, the snake magically transforms into the beautiful princess Bai-Niang. Bai-Niang finds Xu-Xian, but the lovers are separated by a local monk, Fa-Hai, who believes that Bai-Niang is an evil spirit. Xu-Xian's two Panda pets, Panda and Mimi, try to find Xu-Xian. In the end, Bai-Niang gives up her magical powers and remains in human form to prove that her love for Xu-Xian is genuine.
‘The Tale of the White Serpent’ is credited with many ‘firsts’ in the animation world. Released in 1958 it is certainly the first colour feature length Japanese anime, if not the first ever feature length Japanese anime. It was also the first Japanese anime to be released in America, under the title ‘Panda And The Magic Serpent’. It is also known variously as ‘Legend of the White Snake’, ‘The Great White Snake’ and ‘The White Snake Enchantress’.


Created by Rufus Butler Seder, an inventor, artist, and filmmaker fascinated by antique optical toys, Scanimation is a state-of-the-art six-phase animation process that combines the “persistence of vision” principle with a striped acetate overlay to give the illusion of movement. It harkens back to the old magical days of the kinetoscope, and the effect is astonishing, like a Muybridge photo series springing into action. Rufus Butler Seder explains it better in the short interview posted below. Since the interview Rufus Butler Seder had published two further books, 'Waddle!' and 'Star Wars!'


James Jarvis is probably my favourite contemporary illustrator. I’ve amassed quite a collection of his books and products over the years.

I’ve posted here a short film he did for Nike a few years ago. The film was animated by Richard Kenworty from Shynola, and set against fantastic music by Caribou. The track is called ‘Crayon’ for those of you who want to know.

This is what James Jarvis had to say about the project:

"At the beginning of last year I was thinking about what kind of project I would like to work on. I had become interested in the idea of characters that were less referential and more iconic and abstract. I particularly wanted to do something with a potato-headed stick-man that I had been drawing at that time.

I liked the idea of a moving image project that involved my obsession with running. Rather than make a narrative-based film, I wanted the content to be non-linear, reflecting the way I make drawings that have a logic all of their own.

I was talking to a friend at Nike, Kerry Shaw, about this idea and, given the subject matter, she suggested that Nike might be interested in supporting the film. I had been an admirer of Shynola's collaboration with David Shrigley in their promo for the track Good Song. I liked the way it maintained Shrigley's drawn aesthetic in its transformation into moving image, so I contacted them to see if they would be interested in working with me on the idea. Richard 'Kenny' Kenworthy agreed, and worked heroically on the film.

The film was inspired by certain personal experiences in running – a favourite run over Blanchland moor in Northumberland, being attacked by a crow in Singapore – and also by the transcendent, almost psychedelic experience of the simple act of running.

Rather than a marketing project initiated by Nike, the film was something proposed and produced by myself, and as such I hope represents a much more equal collaboration with a brand.”

Michel Gondry: My New New York Diary


'My New New York Diary' is a short animated film and comic book by Michel Gondry and Julie Doucet. Published in December of 2010 by Pictures Inc. The book and DVD set is well worth tracking down as the comic and the film work so well together, it's just not the same watching the video online without the comic to see too.

This is the blurb off the back of the book:

"In 2008, the famed director Michel Gondry wrote to legendary cartoonist Julie Doucet - author of My New York Diary - to propose that they make a film together. Little did Gondry and Doucet know that the process itself would be the film and that they'd soon be starring in a ''reality'' comic and film of their own devising. They settled on a process that involved inserting the real Julie into a landscape of her own drawings to create a magical, touching film. This archive collects all of Doucet's drawings as well as a DVD of the film, as a delux, hardcover volume."

Find it, buy it!

Porco Rosso The Last Sortie

Acclaimed animation director Hayao Miyazaki is developing a sequel to his 1992 film Porco Rosso entitled Porco Rosso: The Last Sortie’.

The original film told the story of an Italian World War I fighter pilot who was transformed into a pig by a magical curse. The English language release featured Michael Keaton in the titular role.

Miyazaki is quoted as saying that
The Last Sortie will be set during the Spanish Civil War and that it will represent a sort of artistic escape for him at the moment, focusing on a male character after so many films with female protagonists.

A sequel to Porco Rosso would represent the first direct sequel on the part of Miyazaki's Studio Ghibli. Previously, characters h
ave crossed over between films as was the case with the Baron in ‘Whisper of the Heart and The Cat Returns as well as the Susuwatari (Dust Sprite) creatures in both My Neighbor Totoro and Spirited Away.

Photocopier Animation - Errata

‘Errata’ by Alexander Stewart is an experimental film in which he used a photocopier to generate frames of animation. Each frame of the film is a photocopy of the previous frame. Both black & white and color photocopies were used to make this film, approximately 4,600 copies total. Amazing!


Balance is a German animated film, released in 1989. It was directed and produced by twin brothers Wolfgang and Christoph Lauenstein.

The film depicts five individuals living on a small platform floating in space. Whenever one of them moves, the others must do so as well to ensure that the platform does not tip over. The group works cooperatively to maintain a "balance" until one individual pulls a box onto the platform. Since all are curious as to what the box is, the individuals try to inspect the box and their actions disrupt the balance of the platform, and those on it...

Early Animation

An Italian team of archaeologists unearthed a goblet in the 1970s from a burial site in Iran’s Burnt City, but it was only more recently that researchers noticed the images on the goblet tell an animated visual story. The burial site was dated as being 5200 years old, making this one of the earliest examples of animation.

The artifact bears five images depicting a wild goat jumping up to eat the leaves off a tree, which the members of the team at that time had not recognised the relationship between. Several years later, Iranian archaeologist Dr Mansur Sadjadi, discovered that the pictures formed a related series.  The goblet shows five images of a wild goat leaping, and if you put them in a sequence (like a flip book), the wild goat leaps to nip leaves off a tree. If the goblet was spinning fast enough it would have a similar effect to a zoetrope.


Disney's latest animated feature, 'Tangled' opens in the UK tomorrow.

The film was made using entirely CGI, although 'Tangled' has been modelled on the oil painting look of a traditional hand-drawn Disney feature. I hope they've managed to pull it off as Disney has spent $260 million on this film, a new record for an animated feature.

Death Cab For Cutie - I Will Follow You Into The Darkness

Another music video...

‘I Will Follow You into the Dark’ is a song by Death Cab for Cutie and the third single from their sixth album Plans. It is a solo, acoustic ballad written and performed by frontman Ben Gibbard and was recorded in monaural with a single microphone and little editing. This isn’t the official video release but an alternative video directed by Monkmus appears on the band's DVD ‘Directions: The Plans Video Album’. Monkmus has animated some wonderful music videos. His work with the Kid Koala is especially good. There isn’t much in the way of animation in this particular video, but still worth a watch.

Clinic - Bubblegum

Trunk Animation’s directing duo Alasdair + Jock have just completed the latest video for Clinic’s Bubblegum the second track on their sixth album also called Bubblegum. The duo created their own subversive take on the classic fairytale; playing on genres and clichés and throwing in subtle twists and nods to other filmic references.


Wisdom Teeth

'Wisdom Teeth' is an animation by American director Don Hertzfeldt who is the creator of many short animated films, including the  Academy-Award nominated 'Rejected' and 'Everything Will Be OK'. His animated films have received over one hundred and fifty awards and have been presented around the world. His animations are available to buy on DVD through his website. I recommend you buy them all. 

Pictoplasma Festival 2011


Pictoplasma Festival 2011

Early April the Pictoplasma Festival in Berlin once more stages the world’s leading and largest celebration of contemporary character culture, with a dense, one-week program of inspiring artist presentations, conference lectures, animation festival, workshops, installations, character walk exhibitions, performances, VJ battles and all-night parties! First confirmed speakers, exhibiting artists and presenting participants include Keita Takahashi, Nick Cave, Jeremyville, McBess, Rilla Alexander, Ryan Quincy, SFA, Ben & Julia, Roman Klonek, Amandine Urruty and many, many more…

The Illusionist On DVD

The Illusionist is one of a dying breed of stage entertainers. With emerging rock stars stealing his thunder in the late 1950s, he is forced to accept increasingly obscure assignments in fringe theatres, at garden parties and in bars and cafés. However, whilst performing in a village pub off the west coast of Scotland, he encounters Alice, an innocent young girl, who will change his life forever.

'The Illusionist' is a love letter from a father to his daughter. For Sophie Tatischeff, the daughter of Jacques Tati, comedy genius and French cinema legend, this touching correspondence could not be left undelivered. Catalogued in the CNC (Centre National de la Cinématographie) archives under the impersonal moniker 'Film Tati Nº 4', this un-produced script has waited half a century for hands to flick through its pages and realize its potential. Those eager hands belonged to Sylvain Chomet, the Oscar nominated and critically acclaimed creator of 'Belleville Rendezvous', who enthusiastically rose to the challenge to fulfil an impossible dream - to once again bring the magic of the incomparable Jacques Tati to life.

The release of 'The Illusionist' on DVD is due for the 14th of February. I've pre-ordered my copy and can't wait to watch this film again. Also if you haven't already seen them I recommend you watch some, if not all, of the Jacques Tati films. They're great especially 'Mon Oncle'.

Lead Head By Martin Wilson

This is a short stop motion animation by my photographer friend and colleague Martin Wilson. You should have a look at the rest of his work here:


The Phonotrope

This is a modern take on one of the earlist forms of animation. A Phonotrope is basically an elaborate Zoetrope unsing a turntable as a base for the construction. The truntable is set to spin a 45rpm, and figures are placed on it at carefully spaced intervals so they appear to remain in the same position but moving. The Phonotrope can be used to animated both two-dimensional and three-dimensional objects, and its depth means that it can also offer backgrounds.

Jim Le Fevre has demonstrated the three-dimensional capabilities of the device on his excellent Blog, I can't post the videos on here but you should go check them out:


I've included a video of 'Bead Spirals' by Graeme Hawkins to demostrate the beauty of the Phonotrope.

The Lost Thing

Between 2002 to 2010 Shaun Tan had been working as part of a small team on a short animated film adaptation of his book 'The Lost Thing', produced by Passion Pictures Australia with financing from both Screen Australia and Passion Pictures. The film is 15 minutes long, using CGI with 2D handpainted elements, and was completed in April 2010.

It has just been nominated for the 2011 Academy Awards Best Short Film (Animated) category alongside 'Day & Night' by Teddy Newton, 'The Gruffalo' by Jakob Schuh and Max Lang, 'Let's Pollute' by Geefwee Boedoe and 'Madagascar, carnet de voyage (Madagascar, a Journey Diary)' by Bastien Dubois. Although I love 'The Gruffalo' short I hope this wins.

If you like the look of this you should check out some of Shaun Tan's other books. 'Tales From Outer Suburbia', 'The Arrival' and 'Eric' are some of my favourites.

Birdy Nam Nam - The Parachute Ending

Steve Scott & Will Sweeney's animated video for Birdy Nam Nam's single 'The Parachute Ending' was recently shortlisted in the top 25 entrants for Youtube Play at The Guggenheim Museum in New York. I love Will Sweeney's illustration and there is something about his style, especially when seeing it animated, that reminds me of René Laloux. I think I'll have to re-watch Fantastic Planet.

Miniatures In Animation

Miniatures seem to be everywhere at the moment from Slinkachu's street art to posters advertising Glade air freshener. Here are some great examples of miniatures being used in short stop motion animation.

The first is 'Tumblingerstraße' a short stop motion film about a street artist creating a piece on a busy street. Set in the legal Graffiti area Tumblingerstraße in Munich, Germany.

The second is 'Dot' from Aardman. Dot was filmed using a Nokia N8 mobile phone attached to a CellScope device - a microscope normally used for taking pictures of skin and blood cells.