(Apologies to pascal and ian for blatantly trying to emulate their awesomeness.) And for anyone who hasn't seen it yet...Ratatouille opens tomorrow!! Victor Haboush calls it "the best animated film since Pinnochio." And that's coming from a guy who worked on Sleeping Beauty and 101 Dalmations. Damn!
This is huge news. Amazing awesome news. Doug TenNapel's masterpiece of claymation interactive fun is being turned into a feature film, written and directed by TenNapel himself. Frederator will be producing the film (along with a new feature film adaptation of Samurai Jack!) Hooray Frederator! Your coolness factor just shot up about 1000% in my book.
For the uninitiated, The Neverhood was a PC game released in 1996 through Dreamworks Interactive. (This was back when Dreamworks took a chance on cool new ideas, rather than just making sequel after sequel...interesting that Frederator is making this film and not Dreamworks!) Check out some footage from the game:
Read the official Variety press release. Funny that the title claims "indie studio develops 2D animated films"...when the Neverhood is obviously claymation. I guess when it's not made on a computer people forget that it's 3D? Also, you can read more about The Neverhood on Wikipedia. Looks like a copy of The Neverhood will run ya about $40-60 on eBay...hopefully it still plays correctly on the systems we've got running eleven years later. On a side note, I met Doug TenNapel a couple years ago when he spoke at RIT (I even sat next to him at dinner!) and I got him to autograph my copy of the game. Maybe it'll be worth more now that there's the film coming out...and I can only hope this means another game too!
So after being hounded by fellow animators I caught a matinee of Surf's Up today. Wow! What a surprise! When I first saw the previews and posters for this film I had zero interest in seeing it. MORE penguins?? But to even try to compare it to Happy Feet is ridiculous. This film had everything Happy Feet was missing - character designs, a great story, fun music, actual animation done by real animators with a ton of personality...If you are thinking about seeing it, you should. You won't be sorry. (There were a couple of poop jokes in there that were unnecessary, but they DID get big laughs from the kids.) As Brittney said, it has a whole lot of heart in it. (Something Happy Feet was also lacking.) Now the film to really compare it to would be next week's Ratatouille. I have seen both films, and honestly I think they are both great and worth seeing. Ratatouille was a little more appealing to me right off the bat, and I think it has some really impressive performances and animation. Surf's Up was consistently funny and really made me feel for the characters...see them both! Now!
And while you're at it, go check out some of the sweet pics Marcelo Vignali has been posting on his blog. Marcelo was one of the designers on the film and he is great! He also worked on Open Season. If Sony continues to get better and better (this film was waaaay better than Open Season, imho) I think they just might give Pixar a run for their money.
So today at work, Josh told me about this strange Andy Panda cartoon he saw when he was a kid. It featured a devil character and Andy Panda going to hell and being forced to eat apples. Ofcourse it is on Youtube, (in Portuguese?!) so here you can all see it. It starts out kind of strange, but really hits it's stride around 5:30. Gah.
I just returned from a sneak preview of Pixar's new film Ratatouille. What can I say? It was amazing. Brad Bird has done it again. This is probably the most interesting and hilarious Pixar film ever made. EVERYTHING is spot on - the voices, the acting, the animation, the RENDERING...holy crap everything looks so real! But not in a creepy Final Fantasy way. In a beautiful dream world sort of way. The audience reaction to the film was terrific. (Though I did see it at Bay St. theater, which is about a mile from Pixar...so there may have been some slightly bias folks there.) Seriously, if you see one animated film this year, make it Ratatouille. And once you do, tell your friends to see it too. I can't get over it. I'm in animation heaven right now.
As some of you may know, my previous job was at Fisher-Price, working on a direct-to-DVD animated show called "Planet Heroes." It was a 9 month project and we produced a 27 minute episode that will be packaged with a new line of toys coming out this fall. (Or summer? I'm really not sure.) It centers on a set of heroes culled from each planet of our solar system. And half-way through production Pluto was deemed no longer a planet! That was fun. (We had to keep him in, we just added jokes about how he was tiny and a dwarf planet...let's see how many short people get mad about that.) I was a designer, modeler, texture painter, lighter, animator, and compositor on this. The only things I never touched were rigging and sound. And now there's is a great website for the product that you can access here. On the site you can watch a trailer for the episode and download the theme song MP3 and a comic book and coloring book pages, etc. You can even order a copy of the DVD for free! Here's a screencap from the site:
I painted that matte painting of the city in the clouds. Hopefully once the DVD's been out for a while I can post some of my concept art for it and no one will mind. Also, I searched YouTube for an embeddable trailer but all I found was a video some mother had made of her kid's reactions to the Planet Heroes episode. (I would post it here but it was really boring.) They were two young boys and one of them liked "the skateboard race" and the character of Ace. (The hero from Earth.) And the other liked "the hot one" which would be Dazzle, from Venus. (She is not bad looking, but I assume he meant her fire-powers.)
I was looking around for something old that might apply to this week's topic when I was suddenly hit with inspiration. I like books and I like quiet...so my paradise would be reading books in space. (Also, I liked being 5 years old?)
Also, if you are just stopping through Illustration Friday, take a look around my blog! If you're feeling crazy you might even add it to your RSS reader! I have some neat projects coming up that I'll be posting so come back soon.
Forced myself to go to figure drawing again this week. I wish I could find a group of animators who do this sort of thing. I might just have to start one...except I have no space for it. I wonder if Three Rings would go for a nude model in the office...
ALSO: I have lots of things I am thinking about doing with the blog here...like scans from a different vintage kid's book each week, fun links and stuff...but I'm not really sure it's worth it. When I post stuff to Illustration Friday it seems to get lots of comments, but otherwise I don't know if anyone's actually reading this blog. In which case I'm just wasting my...fingers? (I was going to say breath, but not really appropriate.) If anyone out there has an opinion, let me know.
Well it only took a year, but I finally posted my thesis on Youtube. "Love at First Roach" is the result of over 9 months of grueling work. My advisor on the project was Disney vet Nancy Beiman, and I have to say I learned an incredible amount working with her. Rigging was done by Greg Smith, who now works at Laika. The original idea for this film was very different, but I do like how it turned out. I needed about a year to distance myself from it, and now I can watch it without cringing so much, haha. I haven't spent too much time on sending it out to festivals, though I probably should. It did screen at Tony White's "2D or Not 2D Festival in Washington state. Let me know what you think in the comments!
So I'm wandering around Golden Gate Park today with my newfound friend Michelle, and we hear some loud music and see people dancing. Turns out they weren't dancing, they were rollerskating! There was a whole bunch of em. Apparently Sunday is "no car day" in the park and they can take over the road and blast their music and go at it. Some of them were pretty good too. ALL of them were characters. (Especially fuzzy boots-skates guy and big hair man.)
I finally checked out an open figure drawing place in San Francisco. It was a small studio and we had a great model. A lot of other people, mostly pretty friendly. This is the first figure drawing I've done for many months. I am still looking for a group that focuses on gesture drawing (probably made up of other animators) and possible uses costumes as well. Any other Bay Area people know of such a thing? Or would like to start one up?