Paranoid Brazil For MTV

What an ambitious and innovative use of white balloons to create a stop-motion/flipbook effect animation for MTV! Created by ‘Paranoid Brazil’, directed by Dulcidio Caldeira and characters and animation by Don Hertzfeld. I’ve posted about Don Hertzfeld on the Animated Review before, check out his hilarious and disturbing short 'Wisdom Teeth'.

Edit: The Illustration/Animation is actually done by Daniel Semanas. I looks remarkably like the work of Don Hertzfeld though.

Jan Svankmajer's Alice Released On Bluray DVD

‘Alice’, Jan Svankmajer’s 1988 adaptation of Lewis Carroll’s literary classic Alice in Wonderland will finally be released on Dual-Format DVD by BFI on the 23rd of May this year. It’s taken far too long for this brilliant example of the Czech surrealist’s finest work to make it to DVD.

Combining a live-action Alice with a Wonderland filled with threatening stop-motion characters, Svankmajer’s deliberately crude style of animation, use of close-ups, and rich design work lend the film a pervading sense of unease and a menacing dream-logic which marries a sly visual wit with piercing psychological insight.

The film is presented on the Bluray/DVD with the original Czech sound track with optional English subtitles. This is the first time ever the film has been released in either the UK or the USA to feature the original soundtrack with previous releases featuring a familiar English dub created for channel 4.

Included as extras on the DVD are five short Alice-themed films. No additional shorts by Jan Svankmajer have been included as ‘Alice’ is currently the only piece to have been converted to HD. There is however a standard quality DVD release of Jan Svankmajer’s short films also issued by BFI. The five films included are:

- ‘Alice in Wonderland’ (1903), the recent BFI restoration of the only surviving print of the first ever screen adaptation.
- ‘Elsie and the Brown Bunny’ (1921), an eight-minute ad for Cadbury's Chocolate that was heavily inspired by Lewis Carroll.
- ‘Alice in Label Land’ (1974), a witty government-sponsored animation using Alice in Wonderland characters to explain 1970s food labelling regulations.
- ‘Are We Still Married?’ (1992) and ‘Can't Go Wrong Without You’ (1993), the Quay Brothers' strongly Alice-influenced music videos for His Name Is Alive.

I’m almost looking forward to seeing some of these extras just as much as the main feature itself. I’m a huge Quay Brothers’ fan.

Hopefully BFI will follow this release with more of Svankmajer’s classics receiving a HD treatment. I’d love to see ‘Faust’ finally get a release on DVD in the UK, I’m still having to make do with an old VHS copy in my collection.

El Clasico By Richard Swarbrick

Richard Swarbrick’s latest animation is a stunning celebration of Barcelona’s 5-0 thrashing of arch rivals Real Madrid last year. Commissioned by Sky Sports for their coverage of the return match in Madrid, the beautiful and vividly colourful film portrays what many regard as one of the most complete performances by any football team in history. This rotoscoped piece beautifully transforms the live footage into fine art.

Passion Pictures For Jack Daniels

Passion Pictures NYC studio has been buzzing along under the radar for a couple years but that all changes today with the release of this full-CG spot for Jack Daniel’s first entry into the flavored booze wars called 'Tennessee Honey.'

Director Pete Candeland: “This was a fantastic project to kick-start our New York studio. The concept of a ‘Cool King Bee’ with strong character animation and a heavy art direction really drew me to the project.”

Watch Jack Daniel's Tennessee Honey here:

Amongst Giants - Turn

Director/designer Markus Wagner and the Vienna-based LWZ collective just finished this gracefully graphic music video for their friend, composer and producer, Matthias Hacksteiner (AKA 'Amongst Giants'.)

Wagner: “I planed to make a music video while I was doing the cover art for this album. I finally got some time and great helping hands from our LWZ collective.”

F5 Festival Opening Title Sequence

F5 recently hosted their second annual festival in New York City.

F5 is a cutting-edge festival exploring the intersection of art, design and entertainment. F5 brings together the thinkers and doers that are breaking ground and shaping new standards in media and design.

The two-day festival gathers filmmakers, digital artists, photographers, producers, interactive designers, motion artists, graphic designers, agency executives, visual effects experts, musicians and industry visionaries—to name only a few.

I've posted the opening title sequence created by Buck, here is what they had to say about the project on their website:

"For the opening titles of the F5 Festival, themed this year around happiness, we created a children’s variety show of sorts, designed to surprise and delight our creative colleagues in attendance — and how better than with hand-sewn puppets, painted geometry, and full body spandex. Conceived, written, directed, designed, shot and produced in house at Buck."

Portland Cello Project - Denmark

Independently Animated: Bill Plympton

Independently Animated: Bill Plympton

Hardcover: 264 pages
Publisher: Universe Publishing (19 April 2011)
Language English
ISBN-10: 0789322099
ISBN-13: 978-0789322098

The life and art of "the King of Indie Animation." The only modern animator to personally hand-draw every frame in all of his work, Academy Award–nominee Bill Plympton eschewed a career in the high-paying but soul-crushing Hollywood animation industry to explore his own creativity as an independent filmmaker. Called "mischievous, mordant, analytical, and ceaselessly imaginative" by the New York Times, and hailed simply as "God" by Simpsons creator Matt Groening, Plympton is widely regarded as the hardest-working, most prolific animator in the business. His instantly recognizable and unique style catapulted him into the pop culture stratosphere and cemented his place in the pantheon of animation greats. In Independently Animated, the winner of countless animation and filmmaking awards juxtaposes the story of his life and art against the backdrop of the overall animation industry. It chronicles Plympton’s life from his childhood of Saturday morning cartoons to his most current and certainly adult-skewing animation. The book contains hundreds of pieces of art from his films, as well as never-before-seen drawings, doodles, production notes, and a full filmography.

I just received my copy of this impressive book in the post this morning and its going to take a while for me to fully digest it. Bill Plympton is a prolific animator and this book looks in depth at everything he's ever worked on, so there's a lot to read. The only thing that could have made this book more comprehensive would have been a DVD which included at least some of his better known animations. Its great looking at stills, artwork and sketches, but to fully appreciate his work you need to see the finished pieces. You can't get much of his work on DVD in the UK, which is a great shame. This book would have been the perfect opportunity to rectify this.

Chico And Rita On DVD

'Chico And Rita' is due to be released on DVD on the 9th of May in the UK. I've pre-ordered my copy, you should too. It's a brilliant film by Javier Mariscal & Fernando Trueba. Sadly overlooked at the 2011 Oscars, It didn't even receive a nomination when it's clearly good enough to have won.

Chico is a young piano player with big dreams. Rita is a beautiful singer with an extraordinary voice. Music and romantic desire unites them, but their journey - in the tradition of the Latin ballad, the bolero - brings heartache and torment.

Danger Beach - Apache

Ned Wenlock, from Wellington, New Zealand, offers a fresh approach in his music video 'Apache' for Danger Beach. Wenlock speaks about some of his ideas for the video on his blog.

Happy Easter

Blue Zoo For Ofcom Product Placement

TV channels which want to use product placement in their programmes are required by Ofcom to show on-screen information campaigns. The campaigns let viewers know about product placement and explain the meaning of the product placement logo.

Here is an example of one campaign being screened by a number of major broadcasters. The animation for this particular campaign was created by Blue Zoo studio and although it looks like papercraft stop motion animation it is all actually paper models accurately replicated and animated in GC.

Matthias Hoegg BBC Bumps

Matthias Hoegg, whose graduation short 'Thursday' appeared on Animation Review recently, just completed two delightful, spring themed bumps — 'Ollie' and 'George' for CBeebies, the BBC’s channel for preschoolers.

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Nickelodeon Posters

Nickelodeon have just released four new posters for the television show 'Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles,' which is coming to TV screens in 2012. Haven't seen any actual footage yet, but just from these posters I'm not looking forward to this 80's cartoon revamp as much as the forthcoming 'Thundercats' show on Cartoon Network.

Water Changes Everything

Almost a billion people live without clean drinking water. Charity water calls this the water crisis. It’s a crisis because it only starts with water — but water affects everything in life. Health. Education. Food security. And the lives of women and children, especially.

Learn how water changes everything — and share this with everyone you know. If you'd like to make a donation follow this link:

PantoGraph For Google Offers

Google Offers is launching alongside this new stop-motion promo produced by the Japanese studio PantoGraph. It’s one of many wonderful animations that the studio has crafted, including other works done for the internet giant. Check out their YouTube channel:

Happy Earth Day

In honour of Earth Day here are a few short animations for you to enjoy.

TV On The Radio - Nine Types Of Light

'Nine Types Of Light' is as much a movie as it is an album by TV on the Radio. The movie is meant to be a visual re-imagining of the record, and includes a section for every song on the album. The band personally asked their friends and the filmmakers they admired to help created and direct the music videos. Tunde Adebimpe, the director for the full Nine Types of Light movie, storybooked the music videos together with interviews from local New Yorkers on various topics, including dreams, love, fame and the future.

With too many special moments to be able to mentioned them all, I'll just point you to my highlight. At 5:50mins the video made by Michael Please, the guy who directed the 'Eagleman Stag' short, starts.

If you can't be bothered to watch through the full hour I've also posted a link to a shorter video of just the Michael Please section.

TV On The Radio - Nine Types Of Light (Full Video)

TV On The Radio - Second Song (Michael Please Extract)

Three Legged Legs For Method Cleaners

In this spot for Method Cleaners on Virgin America, 3LL joins forces with Droga5 to bring you a life lesson for easing your mind in the skies. So the next time you want to reach across the aisle and slap someone, take a deep breath and remember…“We’re all in this together!”

Check out the in depth behind the scene info here:

Malcolm Sutherland

Have a look at these brilliant short films from illustrator/animator Malcolm Sutherland, they're so good. Visit his website and buy his DVD.

Anathema By Kaliptus

"When skies go dark like murky waters, and lands shrivel dry like the moonscapes of Phobos or Deimos, one stumbles upon the repression of the Divine Mother Goddess. For hundreds of years, Patriarch religions have trampled their way to the top by disempowering the Female Archetype. This piece is a symbolical demonstration of religious abuse, vampirism, concealment and the attempt to annihilate the essence of Goddess worship from humanity and spirituality. It is a visionary peek into the horrid manifestations of the church, it's state of being devoid from transcendence and the forces at hand attempting to drain and repress the Goddess. This work of motion art presents to you the symbolic dark truths of our current religious state, uncensored."

Aardman For Fruit2day

I'm a massive fan of Aardman. I've probably posted about them more than any other studio on my blog so far, so it’s always good when some new work from Aardman Animation shows up, such as the following ads for Fruit2Day.

The ads are part of a new national TV campaign in the U.S. Aardman was invited by the New York-based ad agency Kirshenbaum Bond Senecal + Partners to animate the ads.

Take a look:

Neomorphus Making Of

A fascinating look behind the scenes of the excellent stop motion short 'Neomorphus' by Animatorio...

"Strangeness and fragility: Perceptions that we take from the animated short Neomorphus. Somewhat macabre beings live in a habitat of particular nature - a place abandoned long ago. Here, in this unusual spot, they follow the circuit of their lives - being born, developing, decomposing and recomposing.

Implemented in stop-motion, the main idea of this short was based on the various processes of a metamorphosis - the transformation and the reactions it propagates. Thus, the scenario received special treatment, as it moves and reacts according to the characters' actions. From this point of view, the space also became a character.

The greatest difficulty was animating the creatures - each one was made by hand - and because they had insect’s characteristics, they were extremely fragile and required careful handling. The camera also played an important role in the film, since it is its point of view that runs through the scenarios - for this, a "robot" camera photographed each motion scheduled graph.

Once the images were captured, the film received retouching and digital processing. Refinishing is a very important detail on stop-motion as it cleans the scenes digitally frame by frame. In this process, materials used to “hold” the characters in place- such as lines, wires and adhesives - are removed.

Then 'styles' were added in the film, such as shadows, filters and special effects – they are essential to generate the scenes ambiance. At last, the sound effects and beautiful track composed exclusively for the short film were added. The end result is a richly detailed animation that unfolds in a sequence of great and unexpected events."

Almost Naked Animals

Cartoon Network has picked up 9 Story Entertainment’s animated series 'Almost Naked Animals' and will begin airing it later this year.

The Canadian-produced comedy series, with 40 22-minute episodes, is about free-spirited animals in their underwear that run a beach-front hotel called the Banana Cabana like kids at a summer camp.

SuperBattle Episode One

'SuperBattle' directed and animated by Ethan Marak. When a notorious super-villain escapes from his subterranean prison, the enigmatic robot warden summons his most powerful henchman to deliver justice. This is the first completed instalment of what is hopefully going to be an ongoing stop-motion animated series. Support the project by buying episode 1 on DVD here:

Super Animated Title Sequence

Check out the brightly coloured, hyper-active, deceptively simple animated title sequence to James Gunn's latest feature film 'Super'.

'Super' is another superhero spoof in the same vein as 'Kick Ass' - "After his wife falls under the influence of a drug dealer, an everyday guy transforms himself into Crimson Bolt, a superhero with the best intentions, though he lacks for heroic skills."

Although the animated title sequence looks brilliant I get the impression the film itself will just be a rehash of the many superhero spoofs that came before it. Think I might just re-watch some episodes of 'The Tick' instead.

Watch it here:

ManVsMachine For Toyota iQ

CHI & Partners commissioned ManvsMachine to create a series of ten abstract spots that would embrace the unique design of the Toyota iQ. Using the car as a catalyst various forms are given new life as a result of the signature contact moment. The bumps were created for use in association with sponsored content on channel 4. I especially like the bump with the liquid that crystallizes around the rear wheel.

Risen 2 Announcement Trailer

Announcement trailer for Risen 2 from Deep Silver. Animation production by Axis, Directed by Wiek Luijken.

Passio Pictures For Credit Confidential

Passion Pictures directed this new spot for Credit Confidential, titled 'Mural Man'. I believe a small portion of this video was actual wall murals with lots of additional help from added VFX and CGI.

Manchester Orchestra - Simple Math

Only a few weeks after the release of their fairly ridiculous 'Dogboarding' clip, US directing duo The Daniels release a brilliant music video. Possibly my favourite music video of the year so far, Manchester Orchestra - Simple Math is an instant classic. I've included the new video and the 'Dogboarding' clip as well, just in case you haven't already seen it.

Efterklang - Mirador

An older animated music video for the Efterklang song Mirador. Directed by Hvass&Hannibal & UFEX. Animated by Jens Christian Høgni Larsen & Nan Na Hvass.

Nobody Knows By Shinsuke Ozaki

Jez Jerzy Feature Film Trailer

Jez Jerzy (George the Hedgehog) is a new 'Fritz The Cat' style feature film directed by Wojciech Wawszczyk, Jakub Tarkowski, and Tomek Lesniak. Based on a comic by Rafał Skarżycki and Tomasz Leśniak.

Jez Jerzy is a skateboarding hedgehog who likes to drink beer and fondle breasts. He finds it hard to pursue his passions, however, while being tormented by neo-nazi skinheads, mad scientists and a drooling, flatulent clone of himself.

Triptych Poster for Cars 2

Continuing their epic poster campaign for their forthcoming animation Cars 2, Disney have released a monster triptych image detailing scenes across Tokyo, London and Italy. The artwork was created by a team of 20-25 people, captures 415 posed characters and took a total of five months to create - some might say overkill, although it is pretty captivating!

Haroula Rose - Free To Be Me

Music video for the song 'Free To Be Me' by Haroula Rose from the debut LP 'These Open Roads' (2011). Made by Ové Pictures. Check out their website here:

Animatorio Mini-shorts Praepostere Series

'Neomorphus' is the second movie created for the series of free mini-shorts named Praepostere, the first being 'Adiantum Pedatum' - made with stop motion technique (with a little bit of CG effect thrown in too), both with the theme of unusual developments in a morbid visionary.

Mazes - Most Days

Stressed Eric Finally On DVD

'Stressed Eric' is due to be released by the BBC for the first time ever on DVD. The release is scheduled for the 2nd of May, I for one can't wait. The RRP is a bit steep at £25.00 for the meagre 13 episodes, but you can already pre-order for around £15.00, bargain!

Since its 1990’s broadcast, Carl Gorham’s multi award-winning animated sitcom has achieved cult status. Now released for the first time on DVD and including all thirteen episodes as well as a host of exclusive extras, this really is The Complete Stressed Eric Collection.

Eric Feeble is 40, a divorced father with two kids and a crippling mortgage. His son is thick, his daughter is allergic to everything and his au-pair is an unreliable waster. The successful and wealthy Perfect family, who live next door, provide a constant and irritating reminder of what his life could have been. At work, a series of stress related illnesses have seen him demoted from Sales through half a dozen offices to the dark, dank wastelands of the Data Department, next to the Gentlemen’s lavatory. Through it all Eric battles on, a man whose very survival each week against impossible odds makes him an ulcer-growing hero for our times.

Featuring the voices of Alexander Armstrong, Rebecca Front, Mark Heap, Alison Steadman, Morwenna Banks, Gordon Kennedy and Doon Mackichan.

Here is a classic 'Stressed Eric' clip:


th1ng, pronounced ‘thing one’, is an animation and mixed media production company creating commercials, TV idents, music videos, digital content, promotional films and feature film title sequences.

Based in the heart of London’s Soho, th1ng is spread over five floors which house animation, live action, graphics and visual effects facilities so that th1ng can offer a competitive edge by completing productions in-house.

th1ng are proud to announce the completion of director Kirk Hendry's latest short film 'Junk'.

Produced at th1ng, the film has been selected for competition at Annecy and has been the recipient of 'Most Promising Newcomer' at the Creative Circle Awards.

'Junk' has taken two years to complete and tells the story of a boy with an obsession for junk food and the importance of following your gut instinct!

1stAveMachine For HTC Sensation

Director Roman Ruetten and 1stAveMachine lift the cell phone ad genre several notches with this stunner for the new HTC Sensation multimedia mobile.

Some Music Videos From Passion Pictures

Just for your enjoyment some older animated music videos from Passion Pictures.

Passion Pictures is one of Europe's leading independent production companies, producing award winning films in a variety of contemporary styles including 2D drawn animation, computer animation, stop frame animation, mixed media, and live-action.

Eleanor's Secret DVD Release

'Eleanor's Secret' is released on DVD next Monday, 18th April.

Featuring the best of children's fairytales characters such as Alice in Wonderland, Red Riding Hood, Peter Pan and many more Eleanor's Secret is a beautifully animated tale about the importance of being able to read. When their beloved aunt Eleanor dies, Nathaniel and his family are left the house where they have spent every summer and Nathaniel has been bequeathed all the books in the library where he makes a startling discovery - after dark all the characters come to life! They tell him that to save them from extinction he must read the magic spell in the library. There is only one problem - Nathaniel can't read. In a race against time, Nathaniel must battle against all the odds, including a wily antique dealer who wants to buy all the books from his parents, to save his new friends. A charming film for all ages.

Mia And The Migoo

After its debut at the 2008 Toronto International Film Festival it's taken a while for 'Mia And The Migoo' to finally reach the cinemas with an English dub. The US release date is scheduled for April 22 with a UK release sure to follow.

The English dub features some excellent voice talent including John Di Maggio, Danny Boon and Wallace Shawn, amongst others.

Created from an astonishing 500,000 hand-painted frames of animation, the gorgeous second feature from French animator Jacques-Rémy Girerd is a thrilling family adventure that pits a plucky, wild haired young heroine Mia against profit-hungry developers, with the future of life on Earth in the balance.

One night Mia has a premonition. So after saying a few words of parting at her mother's grave, she sets out on a journey across mountains and jungles to search for her father, who has been trapped in a landslide at a disaster-plagued construction site on a remote tropical lake. In the middle of the lake stands the ancient Tree of Life, watched over by innocent, bumbling forest spirits called the Migoo, who grow and change shape as they please, morphing from small childlike beings to petulant giants. It is the Migoo who have been disrupting the construction to protect this sacred site – and now together with Mia - they join in a fight to find Mia's father and save the Tree.

Pirates And More Pirates!

'The Pirate' is a new Cartoon Network bump from Sweden-based Meindbender. It's incredibly not stop motion but all CG animation. The realistically shaded/lit imagery make it look particularly three dimensional. There is more on Meindbender and how they create their organic aesthetic here:

Also coming sometime in 2012 is a new Aardman feature film Pirates! Pirates is a stop motion animated movie directed by Aardman co-founder and Chicken Run helmer Peter Lord. An adaptation of Gideon Defoe‘s cult book’s about hapless pirates who journey to London, meet Charles Darwin and a talking chimp named Mister Bobo. Not much in the way of imagery yet but here is a picture of some early concept drawing.

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Inchworm Animation For Nintendo DSi

Inchworm Animation will be released for the handheld Nintendo DSi platform on April 25. The app will be available for download from the DSiWare store for 500 points (or $5). It looks to be a solid tool for introducing animation to the younger set but with enough functionality that may make it appealing to more advanced animators as well. It was developed by Austin, Texas-based Flat Black Films which created the rotoscope animation in 'Waking Life' and 'A Scanner Darkly'.

A Kaffa - Short Film

Another great film from the French CG university Supinfocom. 'A Kaffa' is the graduation project of Joan Baz, Lionel Caruana, Margaux Demont and Bastien Martin and deals with tyranny, megalomania and a people’s revolution.

Ruling a land based on a coffee plantation, a megalomanic leader is overcome by paranoia, as he predicts the future of his empire by reading the marks in his coffee cup. He is shadowed by an illusory second self that visits him, warning of an exterior threat. Succumbing to his alter ego, he builds a fort around his people who finally rise up against their ruler.

Elbow - Open Arms

The brand new video for Elbow’s ‘Open Arms’ from their fifth studio album ‘Build A Rocket Boys! Directed by Trunk studio.

Today Only - Short Film

Lumi - Short Film

Papercraft 2

Papercraft 2

Hardcover: 256 pages
Publisher: Die Gestalten Verlag (31 Mar 2011)
RRP: £40.00
ISBN-10: 9783899553338
ISBN-13: 978-3899553338

Paper is arguably the most influential material in human civilization. In our digital age, paper has become less important as a medium for the immediate transmission of information. As this shift occurred, designers and artists increasingly discovered the creative possibilities of papers endurance. Today, designing with paper continues to be a trend. In the last three years, a broad range of creative disciplines including scenography, fashion design, and advertising have discovered the versatility of this basic material. These new areas have contributed fresh ideas and perfected existing techniques. The areas of application and forms of expression for working with paper have now reached an unforeseen breadth and level of quality. With an unparalleled collection of new and groundbreaking projects, 'Papercraft 2' presents current developments in contemporary design with paper and cardboard. The book documents how techniques such as cutting, folding, gluing, and collage help designers craft innovative communication design, products, and artwork from these materials that reach new creative heights. Recent examples include illustration, sculpture, and 3D graphic design as well as complex spatial installations, fashion, and objets d art. Clearly advancing the handicraft used in earlier pieces, these are setting prevailing trends and inspiring the future evolution of work with paper in ever more creative disciplines.

Its more than 250 pages and additional bonus video material on the included DVD make 'Papercraft 2' a comprehensive documentation of the creative potential that can be realized with the traits of what was once our primary material for communicating information.

The 29 videos included on the DVD are quite frankly worth the £40.00 on their own. I've included a couple of the videos below:

Becoming - A Gender Flip Book


Paperback: 112 pages
Publisher: Mark Batty Publisher (11 Oct 2010)
RRP: £14.00
ISBN-10: 1935613006
ISBN-13: 978-1935613008

In 'Becoming', artist Yishay Garbasz dares to explore one of society’s most taboo subjects—the exercise of individual agency in the unmaking and remaking of a body’s gender. In this groundbreaking work and objet d’art, Garbasz courageously documents the changes she underwent from one year before her gender reassignment surgery until one year afterward. With unprecedented honesty, the artist photographed her body every week, chronicling the changes throughout this period. Becoming’s flipbook format renders visible and immediate the element of time in this process.

'Becoming' distills the more than 900 pictures that Garbasz took of herself during this two-year period down to a selection of 89 photographs. Whether flipped through in a kinetic continuum or at a viewed slowly, photograph by photograph, these images confront viewers both with discrete moments in time and with the overall process of change.

Tim Minchin's Storm - The Animated Movie

Performed by Tim Minchin, animated by DC Turner and produced by Tracy King, 'Storm' tells the story of Tim's encounter with an alternative medicine supporter at a dinner party. Enjoy!

Maniac - Thank Each Mistake

Check out this music video for the band Maniac. Thank Each Mistake was created entirely using the Brushes app on the iPad. I'm sure we'll slowly start to see many more animated pieces to emerge from the iPad, especially as the quality of the technology and apps are improving at such a fast rate.

Sonoma International Film Festival Trailer

Psyop directed this new trailer for the 2011 Sonoma International Film Festival, which took place this past weekend. We meet Tipsy, which was puppeted in live-action, and then enhanced with CG animation limbs and facial acting.

Strata-cut Animation

I just stumbled upon this recent short animation by John Christian Ferner Apalnes in which he nicely uses the Strata-cut animation technique to visualise his signature. It's pretty basic but simply demonstrates what can become a very complex animating process.

Strata-cut animation, also spelled stratcut or straticut, is a form of clay animation, itself one of many forms of stop motion animation.

Strata-cut animation is most commonly a form of clay animation in which a long bread-like "loaf" of clay, internally packed tight and loaded with varying imagery, is sliced into thin sheets, with the animation camera taking a frame of the end of the loaf for each cut, eventually revealing the movement of the internal images within. Wax may be used instead of clay for the loaf, but this can be more difficult to use because it is less malleable.

Pioneered in both clay and blocks of wax by German animator Oskar Fischinger during the 1920s and 30s, the technique was revived and highly refined in the mid-90s by California-Oregon animator David Daniels. I've also included a video montage of Strata-cut animation created by David Daniels as an example of just how complex the animations can be.

For a great deal more info (as well as more video) on this fascinating animation style check out this interview with Daniels from June 2009:

Black Sunrise Trailer

Nick Cross has been an ambitious, prolific director of animated shorts. So now he’s moving on to directing and animating his first feature film in his spare time. The trailer is shown below and more information can be found on Nicks blog, where you can see a fundraising effort is also underway.

3 New DVD's From BAA

The British Animation Awards people have released 3 new DVD titles:

Japanese Independent Animators: Volume 1 - Mirai Mizue

Mirai Mizue’s films are often compared to those of Oskar Fischinger, (though in fact were originally inspired by early Disney!), and described as visual symphonies: increasingly detailed and complex drawings - from the amoeba-like to the humanoid - fill the screen, reflecting the increasingly dense construction of their musical soundtracks. Just like the films, his work is always evolving: other techniques include water-surface animation and photographic stop-motion. Meditative and absorbing, the films benefit from repeated viewings.

Japanese Independent Animators: Volume 2 - Tochka Works

Since Japanese creative duo Tochka devised their lightning doodle animation method, dubbed PiKA PiKA, in 2005, they have thrilled and inspired audiences with their animated form of graffiti art/mural-painting, often using local music to accompany their events and workshops as they travel around the world. Bonus extras include an early stop-motion film, slide-show, documentaries about their methods, workshops and participatory events. Plus booklet documenting their history.

Japanese Independent Animators: Volume 3 - Atsushi Wada

Atsushi Wada’s films are characterised by finely drawn lines, whispering sounds, and a unique sense of rhythm and movement. His strange and absurd world is full of humour and sadness that will, to use a direct translation from Japanese, ‘tickle your mind’. These oddly compelling tales of obsessive human behaviour are both surreal yet psychologically convincing, and also reflect wryly on Japanese social rituals.

Buy the DVD's here:

Genndy Tartakovsky's Priest Prologue

I’m not sure if the forthcoming feature film based on Priest will be any good, but the opening two minute animated prologue by Genndy Tartakovsky is ace. Sony has released this viral to introduce the film’s premise:

Aardman Book - Tales Of The Spiffing

Tales of the Spiffing

There is a new Aardman book currently available through the Aardman webstore called 'Tales Of The Spiffing'. One randomly selected buyer will receive a copy signed by all the artists involved including Peter Lord. I'll be buying a copy for my bookshelf, get yours here:

This is the blurb about the book from Aardman:

Down in the south west of England there’s a factory full of trained geeks that make films...

Some of them have involved an inventor and a dog, runaway chickens, deviant sheep, the North Pole and every now and then, Pirates, We are all proud of them, but there are some stories which we wanted to tell on our own time, those which might not make a film but fit perfectly into this kind of project.

You have before you, the first collection of 'Tales of the Spiffing' an anthology of short comics and art by the amazingly talented artists at Aardman.

This wide ranging collection is made by the artists at Aardman Animations studios, Bristol, who would normally be in a darkened room with some plasticine, but in this case have been coaxed out to tell some stories of their own.

Packed with comics and art, with a forward (in comic form by Peter Lord, co-founder of Aardman) this is the first in a series for people who just need some more Spiffing in their lives.

Tokyoplastic For MTS

When the Tokyoplastic aren’t working on their own amazing shorts like 'Drum Machine' they’re doing commercial work for clients like MTS, the cell phone network. Here’s the newest advert they did along with Picasso Pictures that parodies the classic “training montage” sequence from films like Rocky.

The Rabbi's Cat

Le Chat du Rabbin (The Rabbi’s Cat) opens in French theaters on June 1, 2011. Directed by Joann Sfar and Antoine Delesvaux, the film is based on Sfar’s popular comic series of the same name.
It’s being produced by the Paris-based animation studio Banjo and production company Autochenille. Both companies were launched by Sfar, Delesvaux, and illustrator Clement Oubrerie with the goal of “making author-driven, challenging films to appeal to children and adults.” The hand-drawn film is modestly budgeted at under US$18 million. That’s similar to the budget for The Illusionist, and a far cry from the ever-increasing costs of CG features like Hop ($63 million), Rango ($150 million) and Tangled ($200-plus million). No word yet on theatrical distribution beyond French territories, but I’ve got my fingers crossed.

The official film synopsis:

Algiers, 1920s. Rabbi Sfar has more than one problem. His beautiful daughter is becoming a teenager and above all, his parrot-killing cat has just started talking! The delivery of a trunk from Russia further complicates matters when a painter is discovered inside, more dead than alive. The painter is on a quest for a hidden tribe and its mythical city in Africa. Convinced that the city really exists, he sets off on an incredible adventure, taking with him the Rabbi and his cat, a wise old Arab Sheikh and an eccentric Russian millionaire.

I Love Coffee

Manchester International Festival & The Quay Brothers

Manchester International Festival invites audiences to experience a programme of virtuosic chamber music, given a very special staging in the last remaining medieval quarter of Manchester. Performances are from the 1st to the 17th of July 2011 at Chetham's School of Music.

Within the atmospheric spaces of Chetham’s School of Music, violinist Alina Ibragimova will perform a programme of musically connected works given a beguiling new visual context by legendary filmmakers and stage designers the Quay brothers. The performance will lead audiences of just 100 around the building and will feature a newly commissioned stop-motion animated film as a counterpoint to Bartok’s masterpiece, Solo Violin Sonata.

This coming together of a violinist and filmmakers explores new ways in which traditional recital can be performed and experienced. The Quay Brothers’ stop-motion animations can be seen to reflect a dark psychology resulting from a century of industrial warfare, surrealist art and dialectical politics. Artists, craftsmen and filmmakers, The Quay Brothers create detailed, deeply surreal characters and sets which form unforgettable worlds, referencing dreamscapes and fairytales.

Of this commission, Festival Director Alex Poots said, "The Quay Brothers' work has an almost alchemical quality; they can train their lenses on any ordinary object or well worn story and find something extraordinary, rendering it strange and new. I look forward to witnessing them work their dark magic on the conventional chamber music format and I am thrilled that the virtuoso Alina Ibragimova is returning to MIF for these intimate, site-specific recitals.”

This sounds like a rare opportunity to witness some freshly commissioned animation for the legendary Quay Brothers in a really exciting and original context. I'll certainly be booking some tickets, you should too...

Croix Gagnon & Frank Schott Project 1231

Art director Croix Gagnon and photographer Frank Schott recently launched Project 1231, a personal art project that recomposes images of the body of executed Texas murderer Joseph Paul Jernigan. After his execution in 1993, Jernigan's corpse was donated to science and became a subject of The Visible Human Project, which yielded a detailed set of cross-sectional photographs of a male and female human body.

Jernigan's body was frozen and then cut into 1,871 1 millimeter slices, each of which was photographed to yield more than 65 gigs of data. Gagnon and Schott used those photographs in an animation that was then "played fullscreen on a computer, which was moved around by an assistant while being photographed in a dark environment," they explain on the project site. "The resulting images are long-exposure 'light paintings' of the entire cadaver. Variations in the movement of the computer during each exposure created differences in the shape of the body throughout the series."

Check out the images created here:

Rain Town

This is a graduation film of Hiroyasu Ishida (a.k.a. Tete) at Kyoto Seika University. The mood, backgrounds and colour all adds the the beautiful style of the short.