Category: Films

Curious George

This movie was a pleasant surprise. The animation was enjoyable (i.e. nothing really was so bad that it pulled you out of the film), the design was good (I think it matched the original), the monkey wasn’t annoying (which I thought might happen since he doesn’t acutally say anything), the story was fairly decent, and Ted’s character (the man in the yellow hat) was a bit more developed than what I recall from the story book. I actually had fun watching the movie and I don’t think I fit the demographic it was originally aimed at. I think my main criticism would be that some of the characters were a little too flat. But I understand the time constraints and also the style dictated some of that. Anyway, Matt Williames was one of the many animators on the film and he has a pretty neat blog. He has some very useful posts and a rough of one of the shots from the movie. Great job!

One other note, here is another blog entry by one of the supervising animators on the film. It sounds like things could have been much better. Even after reading that I think it still worked out fairly well.

Schultz

So we were watching some episodes of Hogan’s Heroes the other day and during a brief intermission, while the DVD was paused, I did a quick caricature of John Banner, otherwise known as Sergeant Schultz. Did you know he was actually Jewish and fled Austria in 1938 when Austria was annexed by Germany!

Hogan’s Heroes was on TV for about 6 years and I remember watching it when I was 9 or 10 (back when I was short and actually had hair!). I was that young? Oy. Anyway, I still enjoy watching the shows. Funny, the acting was definitely not top notch and I even remember at age 9 that it wasn’t top notch – but some of the actors did a pretty good job and their characters were definitely memorable – especially Klink and Schultz – at least to a 9 year old. They weren’t really complex characters (hey, it’s a sitcom, right?), but fairly simple. They had a goal and things kept getting in the way. Pretty standard stuff. I always tuned in to see what farfetched thing would happen in Stalag 13 that day (they built a boat in a prisoner of war camp?).

Anyway, that got me to thinking about how ‘forgiving’ we are when parts of a show or film aren’t perfectly spot on – but we watch it anyways, and we even come back again to watch the next show! The audience is pretty flexible. I think Hogan’s Heroes had enough of a story and good characters that you come back for more. Well, I did anyways… Of course, for some people the bad acting bits were so bad they never tuned in again.

That brings me to what’s on TV today. I don’t watch much, mainly because I’m too busy, but every once in a while (especially when a pilot show comes on) I take the time to test the waters. There aren’t a lot of shows that I have seen and like – for lots of reasons (soap opera acting, poor story, lousy characters, bad content… the list goes on). There aren’t too many shows on today that I would buy 30 years from now to watch again… maybe that just says something about me, but maybe it has something to say about TV programming of today (maybe both). Ah well, off to dinner!

Face

I’ve been doing some quick loose sketches of imaginary faces and here is the first of a few.

I haven’t seen Ice Age 2 yet, but it sounds like a fun ride. Because there are soooo many animated films coming out this year I’ll just wait till they release on DVD. A select few will only be rentals (if that!). I don’t know about you, but seeing the trailer from “The Wild” by Disney does not encourage me to go to the theaters – plus, I just don’t have the time!

 

 

Making Ideas Happen

Jim Capobianco in his blog has a good entry on a technique for making ideas happen (taken from Alexander (Sandy) Mackendrick’s On Film-Making). The last step of which is ‘Preserving the Spark’. The point where the rubber meets the road.

Jim says “Preserving the spark, this comes from practice, but is the ability to take the above involuntary ignition of the idea and apply effort and discipline to establish a level of productivity to bring your work to life. Sandy warns of two mistakes that are made here. They are, impatience – “the proficient hack seizes too soon on an idea that expertly renders immature and superficial ideas” and inexperience – “the inspired amateur has a brilliant concept that dies through incompetence of expression”.

That’s a good summary for a couple of reasons (among many) for the existence of bad films (and, I would add, not just bad films, but many products): impatience and incompetence. Here’s to patience and competence!

Chicken Little DVD

Just watched Chicken Little and what a fun flick! No, I didn’t get around to seeing it in the theater (I know, I know… for shame). Jason Ryan was the supervising animator for the Chicken Little character. When I was at Animation Mentor, Jason was (still is?) one of the Mentors. It’s definitely a DVD worth framing through. Some of those moving holds are amazing. Overall it had a pretty good story, I didn’t even look at the clock once! I think Disney could have probably pulled out of it’s slump with that film, even if they didn’t buy out Pixar. Great job to all those people who worked on the film. And double kudos to those who had to animate Runt. Wow, talk about a tough design to animate!

Too much talking?

This article makes an interesting point. It mentions that often a lot of animated feature films have the characters always saying something. That they are not capitalizing on moments of silence. How true. I think the author called them cellphone films.

Ipod vs. Theatre

Here is a good read about the theater, film and the digital world. We live in interesting times. The same type of question seems to crop up every so often – “Will paintings go away when cameras become popular?”

Vertigo – Then and Now

This is a neat website. It shows some pictures from Alfred Hitchcock’s movie Vertigo… and then it compares the same shot with what is there today (or pretty close to today). Neat.

Mirror Mask

Ok, in the spirit of catching up here is another post for today.

So there I was the other night, cruising the movie aisles and there, sitting all by itself, was this little DVD case with an interesting image on the front – a girl sitting looking off into the distance with, well, with fish flying past her head. Catchy image, wouldn’t you say? So I picked up this little loner and checked the back. Hmm… Jim Henson, this may be interesting – but am I in the mood for stuffed critters? I often am, you see as an animator watching how the puppeteers do so much with so little, well suffice to say it’s a great learning experience. But this one said it had lots of CG. Jim Henson and CG? Interesting. Plus CG is cool, right? Well, sometimes…

Anyway, without giving the story away, here is what the Internet Movie Database says about the film: In a fantasyland of opposing kingdoms, a 15-year old girl must find the fabled MIRRORMASK in order to save the kingdom and get home. It was released in 2005, but I never really heard anything about it… so off I went, back home for some movie watching.

After watching this movie I wasn’t sure what to think. Here are some words that came to mind: weird, fantastical, strange, cool, huh?, neato, and did I say ‘weird’? Usually after watching a movie I can tell whether or not I liked it, but this was one of those few movies which I had to think about and I still don’t know if I liked it. Weird huh? I think I liked it… but it sure was weird (but a good kind of weird – is there such a thing?).

Chronicles of Narnia

Well, I finally went to see the movie the other day. I had high expectations going into the film, and it didn’t let me down. Well done Rhythm and Hues! Aslan was amazingly done. I think it’s at the top of my all time favorite movies list. Not because of the special effects (I mean Golem was done very well in Lord of the Rings – and just like Aslan, it was tough to tell he was CG), not because of the acting (even though it was quite good), not because of the cinematography (quite well done), but mainly because of the story. More specifically the analogy that C.S. Lewis based the story on. The analogy of Christ’s taking upon himself what we so justly deserve. How appropriate that it was released just before Christmas. On that note I wish you all a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!