Saturday, July 21, 2007

The Links of Animation

The release date is now mere days away, so The Simpsons Movie tub-thumping reaches a louder and mover feverish pitch. And Entertainment Weekly weighs in with multiple stories. There's a Q and A, plus a history of the film's lengthy gestation:

JAMES L. BROOKS: There's nothing where we do really basic exposition on who Homer is. I mean, if you're gonna be surprised that he strangles his son a few minutes in, we're gonna have a rough go with you...

More on the Writers Guild negotiations (which we link because they impact every other union in the entertainment biz). WGA negotiator John Bowman states (via "The Artful Writer") the case for creators:

As collective authors of a work, we are entitled to a portion of the revenue generated by that work. But you have publicly stated that you no longer want to pay us residuals on shows that are not in profit...

To claim that intellectual property has lesser rights than physical property is a dangerous argument for anyone in our business to make. You are making the same argument to us that digital pirates make to you...

According to Hollywood accounting, The Simpsons is not in profits. How can we trust that kind of bookkeeping? What other business but ours has the accounting term, “monkey points?”

The L.A. Times finally gets around to memorializing Dave Hilberman, who passed away July 5:

A native of Cleveland, Hilberman came to Los Angeles to work at Disney in July 1936 as one of 40 young artists who had been recruited in a national talent search. Within 18 months, he advanced from trainee to layout artist. He worked on numerous animated shorts, including "Farmyard Symphony" (1938) and "Ugly Duckling" (1939), as well as the features "Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs" (1937) and "Bambi" (1942).

Hilberman said he had "no complaints" about Disney until the 1940s, when the studio was dealing with rising production costs and the wartime loss of the European market that had provided nearly 45% of its income. He became one of the leaders of the union movement, which climaxed in the bitterly fought animators' strike of 1941.

The Associated Press has a nice piece on the essence of Pixar:

"People in Hollywood, the press always fixates on technology because it's easier to quantify," Brad Bird, director of "Ratatouille" and 2004's "The Incredibles," recently told The Associated Press. "The truth of the matter is the technology has never been the answer. The same answers to making a good movie are the answers that were around 80 years ago."

..."What they're really trying to get at in Pixar films is: technology is simply the tool," Higgins says. "What they're really all about is classic storytelling."

When the superhero family of "The Incredibles" finally embraces its powers and triumphs in a battle against the robot Omnidroid, an elderly bystander gawks with delight.

"That's the way to do it," he says. "That's old-school."

BusinessWeek (of all places) publishes an article on animation that goes beyond the usual suspects (Pixar, Disney, DreamWorks, etcetera.):

[T]hose who love their super heroes and lovelorn rats would do well to look beyond Pixar to the industry and artistry beyond. There’s a wealth of innovation and creativity and wonderful design to be found which doesn’t get the airplay or attention it deserves. Not least, an amazing Japanese feature I saw the other day, Tekkonkinkreet. -- out of India -- analyzes the global animation's impact on India's Bollywood:

"Whoever says animation is still a child's domain in India can take a walk," feels trade analyst Taran Adarsh, who admits to clapping unabashedly like a child at the climax scene of Hanuman.

Take this year, animation and computer graphics films like Happy Feet, Shrek 3, Penguins – A Love Story, Meet the Robinsons, Spiderman 3, Pirates of the Caribbean – At World's End brazenly took on big-starrers, totally overshadowing the latter.

In fact, the craze for animation feature films edged quite a lot of Bollywood biggies like Don II, Eklavya, Salam-e-Ishq, Jhoom Barabar Jhoom, Nishabd, and many others out in the cold. This goes to prove that from cartoon avatars in the online world to characters in video games, adults are embracing animation like never before.

"We used to hear that animation for adults wouldn't work, but now all our competitors are doing the same," says Pritish Nandy, whose production house Pritish Nandy Communications has recently signed a five-film deal with a Florida-based company for five animated full-length Bollywood feature films with all the trappings of a Bollywood blockbuster – the latka-jhatkas, songs, kissing and love-making scenes.

(Here's a second piece on Indian animation, focussing on mocap...)

I had heard that Sander Schwartz had left Warners, but AWN confirms it:

Former Warner Bros. Animation president Sander Schwartz returns to familiar territory, but in a bigger capacity as president, international production of Sony Pictures Television International (SPTI), and becomes head of SPTI's global production group...

Last (and perhaps least), we celebrate the oncoming Underdog live-action feature with this review of UD's animated adventures, now on DVD!

how does this childhood favorite stand the test of time? Not that well actually. While I couldn't wait to watch the show as a child, but now the thing that strikes me is how much repetition there is in the program. With each story broken up into four chapters, the creators are able to eat up a lot time by recapping what happened twelve minutes ago....

The main problem is that the show isn't that exciting or funny.

Ah. That explains why they made the live-action remake. Disney wanted to right a great wrong.

Have a joyous weekend.


Unknown said...

I think this live action version of Underdog looks appropriate for the target audience of kids and families. I like the sound of Jason lee's voice for U-dog, that the trailer shows some major promise for laughs.

theunderdogforkids said...

Love it!!!!!! Kids and families need this...You are so right. To think I am 47, and The Underdog cartoon helped me form my value system to help others. Doesn't that sound sillY? It's not even that it's a great cartoon! ....From Diana Chapman: http://www THANKS!

Unknown said...

I was watching some Underdog cartoons online and the unintentional comedy is off the charts! I was LOL-ing plenty. The Underdog movie blooper reel is also funny, they have been running adds of it all this week on TV. Can't wait for Friday!

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