Thursday, February 28, 2013

The SpaceTop 3D desktop - the world's first transparent computer

At this year's TED conference in Los Angeles, TED fellow Jinha Lee has unveiled the SpaceTop 3D desktop, developed in collaboration with Microsoft. The  transparent computer allows users for the first time to reach inside the machine and "touch" its digital content.

Relativity and a Coke

Editor Ron Price once said to me, "The problem with you, Steve, is that you want to direct the world." Well I say, "Mea-frickin-culpa, man!" Or, to paraphrase Flip Wilson, "The director made me do it."

I was getting a take out at one of those small, regional franchise places - Pequito Fresh - a better grade of fast food, but still uniform in look and taste, and dummy-proof in process.  A young lady in her corporate issue knit shirt took my order, then asked me what I'd like to drink.

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Momentum grows to demand recognition for VFX artists

Ang Lee - ungrateful?
VFX Solidarity International's campaign for recognition for VFX artists is gaining momentum, finding its way into the mainstream press. The Guardian ran a piece yesterday saying that director Ang Lee was "under fire from visual effects artists over Life of Pi speech". Many of the artists who worked on the hugely successful film have been laid off without pay, following the bankruptcy of Rhythm and Hues.

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

A photo interview wuth Uli Meyer and his new children's book "Cuthbert was Bored"

Uli Meyer at work - photograph copyright Richard Keith Wolff
Photographer and friend of FLIP Richard Keith Wolff visited veteran London-based animator Uli Meyer at his Kentish town home, to talk animation and children's books. Uli discusses his much-anticipated new children's book - "Cuthbert was Bored", and the inspiration he drew from Ronald Searle, while Richard photographs the artist at work.

Monday, February 25, 2013

Our congratulations to the makers of Brave

FLIP is delighted to congratulate the makers of Brave on their well deserved triumph at the Oscars. To find out more about the film-makers and their remarkable film, check out our exclusive interview with writer-director Brenda Chapman, find out why director Mark Andrews likes to wear a kilt, see some early designs by animator and designer Darlie Brewster, and read about the secret Irish roots of Merida's hair.

Och aye!


Going Green in support of R&H and the artists who helped Life of Pi win Oscar gold

We're going green in support of VFX Solidarity international, expressing our support for all the vfx artists and animators who helped to make Life of Pi an Oscar-winning success - and got rewarded with a pink slip.

Friday, February 22, 2013

Remembering Roobarb and Custard - and Bob Godfrey

Bob Godfrey, the British animator who created Roobarb and Custard, which broadcast in the UK in when I was a child, has died.  Weirdly enough, Richard Briers, who did the voice-over for the series, died five days ago. Click above for a 30 second trip back to 1974, to remember both of these talented entertainers.

The Palace of Depression

No, this is not the story of Disney Studios in the year 2000.  This is the story of a strange place my mother visited as a child during the Great Depression of the 1930's.

In Vineland, New Jersey, a stone's throw from where my mother grew up, there was an eccentric genius named George Daynor who purchased a junk yard, then proceeded to build a house out of the junk. The result was a whimsical compound he called "The Palace of Depression".  It must have been art, because the neighbors hated it.  Apparently they preferred a yard of random junk to its organized arrangement.

Thursday, February 21, 2013

An Interview with animation producer Don Hahn

Don Hahn is an animated film Producer whose credits are almost a roll-call of the Second Golden Age of Animation. His films include Who Framed Roger Rabbit?, Beauty and The Beast, and The Lion King. He is currently producing the much-anticipated Maleficent, due out in 2014.

He has also published many books on animation, the most recent being The Alchemy of Animation, and he also found time to direct Waking Sleeping Beauty, a documentary about Disney and the creative process. FLIP asked Don to reveal the secret of juggling so many interesting and varied projects.

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

A Pen for Creating "3D Drawings"

From a couple of guys named Max and Pete comes this bizarre 3D pen called the 3Doodler.  Instead of ink, the pen dispenses a thin, steady bead of hot plastic.  You draw, creating a plastic line that cools instantly, sort of like making a wire sculpture with a glue gun.

Max and Pete went the Kickstarter route to raise funds to produce the pen.  They have raised ten times more than their $30,000 goal.  Yikes!  I'm not sure how much use I would get from such a pen, but it's a fun idea.  What do you think?

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Pope Rebecca I

In a timely find, animator and story board artist Rebecca Rees has unearthed a series of sketches done by Dan Haskett in 1978 which caricature Rebecca as the Pontiff.  These were probably done sometime during the election of John Paul II, after the death of the first John Paul after only 33 days on the job.

Monday, February 18, 2013

The Animator's Survival Kit meets the iPad

I don't have an iPad, and I don't know what you call a book released for use on it. Is it an iBook? an eBook? An iBook App? An e-iBook? Whatever the name, the iPad seems the perfect platform for a digital version of The Animator's Survival Kit, now the standard industry textbook for aspiring animators.

Richard Williams Shows How to Move It

How To Move It: A Tribute to Richard Williams from Amid Amidi on Vimeo.

I don't really know what to make of this very funny, but rather odd, video by Amid Amidi, posted in December at Cartoon Brew. Dad says it made him laugh.

The original footage was filmed at Blue Sky Studios, and it forms part of the Animator's Survival Kit Masterclass DVD set.


Sunday, February 17, 2013

Brenda the Brave

Mark Andrews and Brenda Chapman at the British Academy Awards
Last week, BRAVE won the British Academy Award, or BAFTA, for best animated feature, just weeks after winning a Golden Globe in the same category.   But unlike the Golden Globes, the film's author, Brenda Chapman, not only attended but was given a chance to speak.  Much was made about her absence at the Globes, but this time around the tension and bad blood were kept out of view of the press for the sake of show biz.  After all, reading about John Lasseter jerking around a great director (and nice person) is like hearing Santa Claus fired Rudolph over a flight path dispute.  

Brenda's still "a little gun shy" about talking about the surrounding turmoil of making BRAVE, but she was very kind to answer some questions for FLIP.  

Saturday, February 16, 2013

Kevin Lima on Harald Seipermann's Death

The extraordinarily talented German development artist Harald Seipermann has succumbed to cancer. Harald worked on the Disney features such as Mulan, Brother Bear, and Treasure Planet, as well as storyboard work on Who Framed Roger Rabbit?

Director Kevin Lima, who worked with Harald on Tarzan and Enchanted, offered these sentiments:

Zahra Dowlatabadi explains the secrets of Producing Animation

Zahra Dowlatabadi is an animation producer who literally wrote the book - "Producing animation" - co-authored with Catherine Winder and edited by Tracey Miller-Zarneke. We asked Zahra a few questions about her book and her animation projects.

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Say it with a Slap!

For Valentines's Day, a very silly sequence from Walt Disney's Fun and Fancy Free.  With today's awareness of domestic violence, the idea of slapping your mate is no laughing matter, but back in 1940's, it was a source of slapstick humor.  It really is a charming piece, no one is really harmed - in fact, they like it!  There's great animation here too.  Those old animators could dance!

Don't try this at home!  And happy Valentine's Day from FLIP!

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Beck's Last Brew - An Interview with Jerry Beck

Yesterday, Jerry Beck announced his departure from Cartoon Brew, the animation blog he founded with Amid Amidi in 2004, which became a monster hit among not just animation fans, but industry professionals as well.  His announcement sent shockwaves through the animation blogosphere as fanboys pounded their keyboards and screamed to the heavens, "WHY? WHYYYYY????!!!!"

FLIP asked Jerry that very question. And while he didn't want to get into 'the deal', he was kind enough to answer some other questions......

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Rhythm & Hues Wins a BAFTA, gets an Oscar nom - and Goes Bust

It seems that Rhythm and Hues is going under. The pioneering VFX studio, responsible for some of the most ground-breaking visual effects work ever done, has filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy. It hardly seems credible that the studio that did such extraordinary work on Life of Pi (you can see FLIP's review of the movie here), has gone bust, even as they collect a sack full of awards, and their Oscar nomination looms.

Monday, February 11, 2013

The End of the Animation Lab

Jerusalem - not an obvious place to make an animated film
The Animation Lab, the animation studio founded in Jerusalem back in the early 2000's, has finally closed its doors. After almost a decade trying to put together an animated film, they have, apparently, given up.

Sunday, February 10, 2013

BAFTAs Tonight - But Who is Voting?

Tonight is the BAFTA awards, the biggest movie night of the year here in the UK, though elsewhere probably just a foretaste of the bigger, glitzier and more star-studded Academy Awards Ceremony in Los Angeles. 

Friday, February 8, 2013

Hearts & Hammers, Episode 2

Valentine's Day is upon us again.  And for all the lovers loving it up, there are those for whom it is a holiday designed to remind you that, in case you forgot, you are alone.  Well you may be alone, but you're not alone.  Hearts & Hammers is here to remind you of what you're missing out on in the dating scene.  This is the second episode, picking up where the first one left off (much carnage).

See the first episode here!

I wrote about Hearts and Hammers in the old format FLIP, but the embeds are obsolete, so I am reposting the abridged text here:

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Buy Nth for Valentine's Day

For the first time ever, I am offering original drawings from my short The Indescribable Nth for sale on Etsy.  What else am I going to do with six boxes of animation drawings?  So if you want an unusual Valentine's gift for your loved one, a CHEAP one at that, well click on over to my Etsy shop and buy!

And watch the short (again) here:

To read more about The Indescribable Nth, in this earlier FLIP post!

Thanks for shopping!

Monday, February 4, 2013

The Annie Awards and the Secret of Chuck Jones' Success

The Annies - the Animation Oscars
Last Saturday night, February 2nd 2013, was animation's big night - the Annie Awards, held this year at the UCLA Royce Hall in Los Angeles. They are the Animation Oscars, held once a year to celebrate excellence in animated film-making.

Sunday, February 3, 2013

The Big Game - The Puppy Bowl!

It's on as I write this - the best alternative to the endless commercials and delays of a Super Bowl game: The Puppy Bowl on Animal Planet ,for all the adorable puppy playing action!  And this year's Puppy Bowl is sponsored by Illumination Entertainment's Despicable Me 2.  They'll be showing plenty of clips from DM2, so check it out.   I am proud to say I storyboarded both DM features, and since I love the Puppy Bowl anyway, I plug away......

And if you miss it, you can still see it on-line:

How a Danish Animation Company Was Born

In 2010 Magnus Moller and Peter smith set up their own animation company, Tumblehead Animation, in Viborg, Denmark. Neither had much experience of working at professional studios, or much money. Two years on their company is not just alive, but growing and thriving. FLIP asked them the secret of their success.

Friday, February 1, 2013

Going Vegan Let Me Sit Indian Style Again

By Brian McEntee

Brian McEntee is the production designer for Ice Age and Cat's Don't Dance, and art director for Beauty and the Beast and The Brave Little Toaster.  

Back in January of last year I adopted a Vegan diet. It wasn't for any philosophical reason, like saving the planet or the animals on it, but purely a selfish one; more or less, "Save the Brian." My family is genetically prone to heart disease, high cholesterol, high blood pressure, and... bypass surgeries. Having seen my father get a triple at age 55, I vowed then and there (in my late teens) that I would watch both my weight and diet, exercise regularly, and keep track of my health factors on a yearly basis. This worked well into my late 40's, but then my cholesterol began to creep up.  I didn't want a bypass, angioplasties, nitro pills, or to, as my father put it, “Join the zipper club”.  It seemed my only option was to take statins. So I did.

My cholesterol went down to around 150––excellent, chemically speaking, but I felt horrible. The statins made my muscles ache constantly and weakened them, so when I continued my usual exercise routine I began injuring myself. So I had to ease up on my workouts, causing me to gain weight. My doctor tried various types and brands of statins, hoping to find one with minimal side-effects, but the search was unsuccessful. 

So, what was I to do?