Monday, July 30, 2012

OIAF 2012 Selections

The Ottawa International Animation Festival has posted its selections for 2012.  Congratulations to everyone whose film will screen.

Sunday, July 29, 2012

Animation Before Movies

In the period between the discovery of the principle of persistence of vision and the invention of flexible film stock, animation was born.  It was made with a variety of toys, all given impressive Greek names like Thaumatrope, Phenakistoscope and Zootrope (see the comments for the derivations of these words courtesy of Daniel).  These toys combined drawn or painted images in ways to give the illusion of movement.  The technology behind animation has become a lot more sophisticated, but it's all built on on the same principles exploited by these toys.

Richard Balzer is a collector of these toys and the images they used and he has a site where the images are animated via Flash.  This means that if you're browsing on an iPhone or iPad, you will not be able to see the motion.  He also has a blog that deals with these toys as well as other 19th century amusements such as the Magic Lantern.

While the animation is necessarily cycled and limited in duration, we have a modern equivalent in the form of animated gif files.  The more things change...

Friday, July 20, 2012

Super Complicated

Readers of this blog will know how interested I am in creators' rights.  Some of the most famous characters of 20th century pop culture were created under dubious legal and financial conditions.  The copyright to Superman was transferred from Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster, the writer and artist, to their publisher for the sum of $130.  That was $10 per page for their first 13 page Superman story.  In order to get paid for their work, they lost control of their creation.

The latest U.S. copyright law allows for creators who sold their copyrights to regain them during specific time periods.  If the creators are deceased, their heirs have the right to pursue the copyright.

Jerry Seigel's heirs have filed to regain their half of the Superman copyright.  Joe Shuster's heirs are eligible to file in the near future.  Both are represented by attorney Marc Toberoff.

On the face of it, it's a nice, clear story.  Two little guys were taken advantage of, lost millions of dollars as a result, and now their families are going up against a large multinational corporation to get just compensation.  A David and Goliath story with an ending that should be a foregone conclusion.

However, the story is a lot more complicated and I urge you to read this entry by Daniel Best.  Even if you skip over the actual legal documents and just read Best's commentary (scattered throughout the documents), you can see that the families have made some poor decisions and done some questionable things.  Their lawyer appears to be working for himself as much or more than for his clients.  While I am not a fan of large corporations, Paul Levitz, a comics fan who eventually became publisher of DC Comics, acted more ethically than others in this dispute.

If nothing else, this situation just emphasizes the importance of owning creative properties.  It is important for creative people to understand the problems that can result from giving up ownership.  While the animation business doesn't perfectly mirror the comics business, the issues are the same and stakes are equally high.  If you have created something on your own and are looking for somebody else to finance it or market it, make sure you understand the repercussions of transferring copyright and allowing someone else to establish the trademark.  If not, the result might be several lifetimes of pain and legal squabbling.

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Peak at the New Games Character

Check out a little peak at's new Game Character BRICK!

Brick from iAnimate on Vimeo.

Looks pretty sweet! I like the fact that he doesn't really have a get to really concentrate on Body Mechanics.

Animation Mentor Student Showcase 2012

Animation Mentor's new Student Showcase is out. Some really great stuff in here.


Have a look around great animation!

In Light of Finding Nemo 2...

...I'd like to point you to a post, now a year old, called "Growth, Maturity and Decline."  My impression is that Pixar is done.  That doesn't mean that they won't make the occasional film that is exceptional, but the initial energy that propelled the company creatively is gone.  It was inevitable;  they are now predictable.  In terms of the previous article, they are a mature company.  The question now is when does the studio enter its decline?  This is not a criticism of the company so much as it is a sad observation.

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Taafi Report

July6-8 was the first TAAFI festival.  TAAFI stands for Toronto Animation and Arts Festival International.  I suspect that the acronym was chosen before the full title was worked out, but that's okay.  TAAFI is catchy.

Ben McAvoy and Barnabas Wornoff are the two guys who made it all happen.  They spent the better part of a year pulling everything together and I have to say it was a successful festival, especially for a first-time event.  The TIFF Bell Lightbox, located in downtown Toronto and easily accessible, was a good venue, keeping all the events under a single roof.  The fest was a good mix of screenings, workshops and presentations and there was more happening than any individual could take in.

Some of the events included a screening of Rock and Rule with a reunion of some of the crew, the North American premiere of Ronal the Barbarian, a northern European 3D cgi feature that parodied sword and sorcery movies, workshops by Charlie Bonifacio on posing, Peter Emslie on caricature and John Kricfalusi on story development.  There were panel discussions on games, the state of the Ontario industry, independent animators and a retrospective of Kaj Pindal's career.

There were four programs of shorts and a separate program of student films all programmed by Mike Weiss.

I know from talking to Ben that the festival was a financial success and that there are plans to do it again next year.  While there are organizations like The Toronto Animated Image Society (TAIS) and the Computer Animation Studios of Ontario (CASO), Toronto has been a fragmented animation commmunity.  Here's hoping that TAAFI continues to be successful and serves as a hub and rallying point for the Toronto animation community.

I didn't have my camera with me over the weekend, so the following pictures are lifted from other sites or individuals.  Below are shots from Grayden Laing's blog.

Facing the camera: Adam Hines and Andrew Murray of Guys with Pencils.  Facing away from the camera, Nick Cross, Rex Hackelberger and Marlo Meekins.  You can hear a podcast interviewing Cross and Meekins here.

John K. leads his workshop.

From the Rock and Rule panel.  L to R: Robin Budd, Scott Caple, Willie Ashworth, Charlie Bonifacio.

The photo below is by Sanaz Asli.
That's me on the left moderating a question and answer session with Kaj Pindal.

Sunday, July 8, 2012

The Hunchback of Notre Dame (1996) - Character: Quasimodo

© Walt Disney Pictures © Buena Vista Distribution

Poster Concept by John Alvin

Quasimodo, Esmeralda & Frollo early concepts by Rowland Wilson

Early concepts by Rick Maki, Geefwee Boedoe & Vance Gerry

by John Lounsbery

by John Ripa
by James Baxter
by James Baxter
by James Baxter
Two Production Cels

by Vance Gerry
by Vance Gerry
by Vance Gerry
by Vance Gerry

by Vance Gerry

Layout by David Goetz, Painted by Lisa Keene