Tuesday, May 26, 2015

All Aboard The Harry Potter Studio Tour

Harry Potter Tour
I recently took the Harry Potter Studio Tour at Leavesden, visiting the 80-hectare studio complex which was used for filming the Harry Potter series of films. The tour might sound like a three hour trivia odyssey for Potter fans, but in fact it turned out to be as good an introduction to the art, craft and science of visual effects film-making as almost any amount of classroom instruction - and far more fun.

Monday, March 30, 2015

Thursdays at Pinks with Dad

Animation veteran Rebecca Rees writes of her weekly lunch outings with her 89 year-old father, Richard Lodolo.

by Rebecca Rees

Our family moved to Hollywood in 1968.  We discovered hippies, unconventional life styles and PINKS.  We ate at PINKS all the time.  It was cheap, really good, and legal.  We would order our hot dogs and eat them in our car, which was a 1949 Ford.

About two years ago,  I was driving my dad around looking for a place to eat lunch.  We were on LaBrea in Hollywood and my dad suggested McDonald's....which sounded horrifying to me.  I just kept driving hoping we didn't pass a McDonald's, and then I saw PINKS up ahead.  Neither of us had been there in years, even though my dad only lives about 6 blocks away.  So I pulled over and parked, extremely happy that he forgot all about McDonald's.

Thursday, March 26, 2015

Cutting Edge Technology In 1976: The Lyon Lamb Video Animation System

Lyon Lamb Video Animation System - a Revolution
Recently Disney producer Don Hahn posted a nostalgic piece at the Disney FaceBook Group about some cutting edge technology from 1976: the then brand-new Lyon Lamb Video Animation System. It was an astonishing development - you could shoot your animation and see a pencil test immediately instead of sending it off to the rostrum camera dept to be filmed, and then having to wait for the developed film to come back the next day. Nowadays all animators take real-time playback for granted. Until the Lyon Lamb, the only real-time playback was in the imagination of the animator. So, how did the animators do it? How could they possibly know in advance how their work would come out?

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Will Finn On Loving Disney - Even Back In The 1970s


To have been a Disney fan during the 1970’s was truly to believe in magic, sappy as that sounds. In high school my peers mocked me for going to things like the re-release of Dumbo and 101 Dalmations. These were old cartoons that had lost their relevance to the general audience stoked on 1970s hits like The Godfather and Blazing Saddles. During my time at art school, the instructors warned me not to bother…

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Help Sue Nichols Maciorowski SMAC Down Cancer


Once again, the call goes out to you in the animation community to help one of our own.  Sue Nichols Maciorowski, a 30 year animation veteran, is battling cancer.  The out-of-pocket costs are staggering.  To help pay for treatment, her best pal Brenda Chapman came up with Operation SMAC Down, and, with Tina Price, has created a donor page on the Give Forward website.  Over $9000 has been raised so far toward the goal of $25,000.

FLiP is asking you dear readers for two things:
1. Go to the site and donate to the SMAC down, anything you can.
2. Spread to word to friends and colleagues.

Click here to help.  And thank you.

Go Sue!

-Steve


Tuesday, March 17, 2015

We Worked At Disney Animation In the 80's and 90's

Back in the day
In this era of digital saturation it is not often that a mere Facebook Group stops you in your tracks, grabs your attention, and won't let you go.  Less than a week ago Disney producer Don Hahn started a Facebook Group titled We Worked At Disney Animation In the 80's and 90's. I won't post the URL here because the group is a closed group: open only to, well, people who worked at Disney Animation in the 80's and 90's. Already it has well over a thousand members and a ridiculous number of posts. Like many of its members, I can't stop reading it.

Saturday, February 14, 2015

DreamWorks Layoffs - What Does It All Mean?

DreamWorks - big layoffs
At the end of Januaury DreamWorks announced big layoffs in their animation division, bad enough for the Los Angeles based artists who were laid off, but a disaster for Bay Area studio PDI, which is now to be closed.  PDI, for those who don't know, created ANTZ, the first non-Pixar CG animated feature film to reach the big screen. So, what does all this mean for our industry?

Friday, January 30, 2015

Animator's Survival Kit Now Released for iBooks


Animator's Survival Kit - now on iBooks
Faber and Faber has just announced the launch of the Animator's Survival Kit for iBooks.  The new edition brings together the complete 'Expanded Edition' of The Animator's Survival Kit with over 100 animated examples from The Animator's Survival Kit Animated DVD box set. It will be available globally, priced at £19.99/$28.99.  What does this mean for students of animation? It means you can now use the ASK on your Mac laptop - you don't need an iPad.

Sunday, January 25, 2015

The World's First Online MA in Animation




I teach animation at a university in the UK, and my superiors are forever nagging me about the need to get an MA in my subject area. Trouble is, I need something I can do online, so I don't have to give up my day job.  But try looking around for something suitable, and there isn't anything out there. Which got me thinking - why not create one? Why not create the world's first MA in animation, completely online?  And, best of all, we could use the content from my online school - Animation Apprentice - and make it a course that would actually teach students how to animate. Properly.

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Nassos Vakalis Talks about "Dinner For Few", and Reveals the Secrets of Entering and Winning Festivals


Dinner for Few
Nassos Vakalis' film “Dinner for Few” has been entering and winning festivals all over the world. We asked Nassos, who by day is a storyboard artist at DreamWorks, to explain the secrets of entering and winning film competitions. What does it make to make a success of a short film project?

Thursday, January 8, 2015

Today, We Are All Charlie Hebdo

Paul Shardlow, art director and friend of FLiP,  expresses our feelings perfectly
Today at FLiP we stand shoulder to shoulder with our French colleagues to uphold the right of all artists and cartoonists to speak their mind and express their views regardless of who might be offended. Cartoonists are not used to being murder victims.  Our hearts go out to the victims themselves, and the families of those who were murdered in the course of doing their jobs, fighting to the last for freedom of speech.

Tuesday, January 6, 2015

Natasha Sutton-Williams Presents "Freud, The Musical"

Freud - The Musical
Natasha Sutton-Williams presents "Freud, The Musical", opening in London this weekend. The show is described as  "A One Woman Show about Sex, Madness and Medicine", and plays at The Space Theatre on Westferry Road for three nights only. Natasha is the youngest daughter of animator Richard Williams, now embarking on her own career as a writer, actor and performer.

Wednesday, December 31, 2014

New Year's Resolutions for Animators


What should an animator's new year's resolutions be? Animation is a huge and growing business, a far cry from the cottage industry it used to be even twenty years ago. But it is a competitive world, and good animators need to be smart to stay on top of their game. So here's a checklist for some simple ways to maintain your edge in 2015

Sunday, December 14, 2014

Merry Christmas from the REAL Tiny Tim

Spot the Difference
Way back in 1971 my Dad's animation studio at no. 13 Soho Square in London took on their biggest project yet - a TV adaptation of Charles Dickens'  A Christmas Carol. The twenty-two minute TV special was produced by Chuck Jones and many scenes were animated by Ken Harris, one of Chuck's star animators from Road Runner days. Other animators included Grim Natwick and Emery Hawkins.

Thursday, November 6, 2014

What Does It Take To Become a Successful Character Designer? - Luis Grane Explains

BoxTrolls - designs by Luis Grane

Luis Grane is an animator and character designer whose work can be seen on dozens of animated films including Prince of EqyptHotel Transylvania, Ratatouille, and Open Season. Most recently he did character design work for The Box Trolls, recently released worldwide in theatres. FLiP asked him to talk about the work of a character designer at a big studio - and how the heck you get there in the first place.

Monday, October 27, 2014

What Makes a Great Animator? A Personal View from Mike Nguyen


Korean Goshawk - animation by Mike Nguyen
Mike Nguyen is a veteran animator who has worked on many classic Hollywood feature films such as "Beauty and The Beast" and "Space Jam".  He was a lead animator on Brad Bird's classic "The Iron Giant" and also on "Osmosis Jones", and has been working for a number of years on his own independent animated feature film  "My Little World".  FLiP asked him to talk about what makes a great animator.

Sunday, October 26, 2014

The World of Free - How Can Freelance Artists Survive in Modern Digital Media? Garrett Gilchrist Explains

Freelance artists, especially those just starting out, often feel like everyone wants stuff done for free. Unpaid internships, free work "to get your name out there", or payment deferred "until the project gets financed" - such are the perils of the modern digital economy. Garrett Gilchrist has been working as an independent artist, writer and filmmaker for twenty years, and is best known for his "Recobbled Cut" of Richard Williams' unfinished animated feature The Thief and the Cobbler. In this interview he talks about what is wrong with modern digital media, how the "World of Free" came about - and what can be done about it.

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

SONG OF THE SEA: Not Quite a Review - by Steve Burch

Song of The Sea premiered in London on Sunday Night
It is not often that you get a European animated feature released. It is not often that you get an animated movie, be it a short or feature length, that is an absolute delight to watch. Song of the Sea is both of these. Directed by Academy award-nominated filmmaker Tomm Moore and released by Cartoon Saloon, the movie Song of the Sea transports you into an astounding multi layered magical world, filled with a wonderful collection of Irish human and fairy folk lore characters, whose personalities both unfold and grow richer as the tale develops.

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Mikkel Brons-Frandsen Launches His Free Game "Look"

Look byMikkel Brons-Frandsen
Mikkel Brøns-Frandsen is one of a number of talented students to have graduated from the excellent Animation Workshop in Denmark in recent years. Mikkel has just released a free new game for the PC, titled "Look - an Interactive Poem". FLiP asked him to talk about the game and how it came about. 

Saturday, October 18, 2014

Happy Birthday Pete Western! - as Drawn by Comic legend Mike Western

Happy Birthday Pete!
Today is the birthday of animator and director Pete Western, and here at FLiP we thought we would share some of the hand-drawn cards sent to him by his illustrator father Mike Western over the years. They serve as snapshots through the decades from the 70s to the noughties. I have know Pete for almost 30 years - we first met on Who Framed Roger Rabbit? - but I had no idea his dad was a famous comic book artist. More than that, I recognise Mike Western's style from the war comics that I and my friends read avidly as a child, re-fighting WW2 in our living rooms with plastic soldiers and hand-painted Spitfires.

Saturday, October 11, 2014

Remembering Donna


Remembering Donna
Readers of FLiP may have noticed that Steve, FliP's founder and the authentic voice of this blog, hasn't posted much lately. Steve lost his wife Donna to cancer earlier this year, and blogging hasn't been high on his list of priorities since then. Donna may not be with us, but she is certainly not forgotten. Steve recently unveiled a memorial to her at the skate park that she was so much responsible for - taking on the burden of mayoral office in a small town to try to make things better for her local community.

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Submit your Indie Film Project now to Cartoon Movie

Cartoon Movie 2014
The Deadline to submit a feature film project to Cartoon Movie is 26 November 2014. Are you looking for co-producers, financing and distributors for your animated feature film project? If so, you should submit it to Cartoon Movie! If your film gets selected, you will be able to pitch it to almost 1,000 animation and industry professionals from forty countries. Present at Cartoon Movie are 200 buyers, including 120 distributors & sales agents.

Monday, September 15, 2014

KAHLIL GIBRAN’S THE PROPHET

KAHLIL GIBRAN’S THE PROPHET played at Tiff on Friday night at the gorgeous Winter Garden Theatre. This film, which was produced by Salma Hayek and directed by Roger Allers, has no distribution at present. I hope that this is rectified since it certainly should be seen by larger audiences. It uses a FANTASIA like construction with animated sequences illustrating Gibran’s poetry in a wide variety of styles. The original book of poetry had a very slight setting where AlMustafa is addressing the people of Orphalese before taking ship for home. In the film the linking narrative, written by Roger Allers, has a dark undertone. It involves Almitra, a wild little girl, her mother Kamila, and Halim, a Turkish guard who befriend the imprisoned poet Mustafa, who may or may not be returning home on his ship.
The story is well directed, with animation produced at Bardel Animation, Vancouver. I was amused to see that I recognized Nik Ranieri’s animation long before I read the credits. It was also nice to see other old friends from Disney working on this picture…along with a few of our Sheridan grads!
The art direction is extremely varied and most of it is outstanding. I was particularly impressed with Michael Socha’s opening sequence, which beautifully illustrated the meaning of the poem in a stunning technique. Tomm Moore’s and Bill Plympton’s sequences also nicely illustrated the subject matter and displayed their characteristic styles. One or two sequences were less interesting to me but all were a refreshing change from mass produced ‘franchise’ films, and the ending was genuinely moving. You care about what happens to Mustafa. I hope that some distributor cares about this movie enough to take a risk on it. It will do well in festivals and ‘art houses’—and maybe more, if people get a chance to see it. That theatre was packed to the rafters!

KAHLIL GIBRAN’S THE PROPHET played at Tiff on Friday night at the gorgeous Winter Garden Theatre. This film, which was produced by Salma Hayek and directed by Roger Allers, has no distribution at present. I hope that this is rectified since it certainly should be seen by larger audiences. It uses a FANTASIA like construction with animated sequences illustrating Gibran’s poetry in a wide variety of styles. 

Friday, September 12, 2014

What Makes a Great Animator? James Chiang Explains

The animator who brought you surfing penguins
Animator, Director and artist James "JC" Chiang has worked as an animator on many feature films including Robots, Ice Age - The Meltdown, Surf's Up and Open Season, and was animation director on the 2008 Veggie Tales movie. He teaches animation at Animation Mentor, and is a fine artist in his own right. We asked him to talk about what, exactly, makes a great animator.

Friday, August 29, 2014

Director Frank Gladstone talks about his new film "Hero of Color City"


Frank Gladstone is a producer, director, animation entrepreneur and the Executive Director of ASIFA Hollywood, the organisation that hosts the annual ANNIE awards - the "animation Oscars". Frank has just finished directing his first feature length animated film, The Hero of Color City, which will be released in cinemas in October. In a Skype interview (a first for FLiP!) we asked him to talk about the challenges of directing an indie animated film and bringing it to the screen.