Thursday, July 29, 2010

Ebay account OF THE BEAR!

I doubt this is of interest to many people, but if you're a fan of the 80's Filmation show Bravestarr, Christmas just came early:

There are literally over a thousand listings of cels, backgrounds and even entire folders of animation scenes. All ranging from 5-30 bucks!

I got mine:
Big Shot of Thirty-Thirty loking like a Spaz? Where's my wallet!

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

The lynx has been found

I got a pleasant surprise this morning to see that the Spanish animated feature The Missing Lynx which came out in Europe at the end of 2008 was released on DVD in North America today and is available on Netflix Watch Instantly.

I'm really only mentioning this for people like me who feel compelled to watch every animated film that comes along, (assuming there are such people) because it's such a skippable movie.

The only notable thing about this film is that Antonio Banderas was a producer on it. Literally the first thing you see in this movie is his name. And as far as I can tell he didn't do a voice in it, not even the Spanish version.

I also got word that WB is releasing a complete series set for Batman Beyond almost 3 years after their single season releases. I assume this is for milking out some more money rather than tying in to another property.

Monday, July 19, 2010

Hooray Books!

I have a special Amazon wishlist for books and such that are out of print and really hard to come by. And one that's about to come off that list is Donald Graham's landmark book Composing Pictures. Not because I bought it (not yet at least), but because it's back in print.
Donald Graham was a long-time art instructor at the Disney studio and was a driving force in their swift artistic improvement in the golden age.

It's good to see that out of print isn't forever, at least for good books.

And if any publishers are looking for books to reprint; Mort Drucker's Familiar Faces and that big, 2 volume Charles Dana Gibson collection would be perfect.

And thanks to On Animation for pointing this out for me.

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Framing Device

Scoping out the comedy section on Netflix I couldn't help but notice a recurring... motif if you will in the covers:
Shots of an anonymous woman's ass with the characters between her legs.
I know this has been done before, but when you can effortlessly find more than dozen covers like this, attention must be paid.

Poor Photoshop skills are a pre-requisite for this work.

Holding a bra seems to be a sub-motif.

So is Kal Penn looking freaked/grossed out by what he's staring at.

Sometimes these shots are added years after the fact; just so you know that's it's a comedy apparently.

Why she has Swiss flag on her ass is a different matter entirely.

National Lampoon seems to be the biggest offender.

And why should guys be the ones having all the fun?

He really wants that bra.

Plus I have to give credit to Booty Call for trying to reinvent the style somewhat.

So, Adobe, if you're listening and wondering what features to work on for Photoshop CS6, the clear answer is a button that generates an anonymous woman's ass into a picture.

Hollywood thanks you in advance for the time saver.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Chase the Thief

If you're a fan of Richard Williams and aren't familiar with The Thief Archive then finding it now is going to feel like you've slept through Christmas.

On top of containing piles of newly uploaded ads from his commercial house, interviews, specials and whatnot, it also contains a recut version of Williams' bastardized epic The Thief and the Cobbler that's as close as possible to his original vision.

This is what Youtube is for. Check it out.

Friday, July 9, 2010

The Magicians' Sectrets Revealed

I have an on again/off again relationship with drawing. I like drawing even though I'm not that good at it, but I often go months without drawing a single thing, which sort of negates the purpose of learning to do anything.

Right now's a serious on phase and I've easily drawn more this week than in the past two years. I've made progress, but I get very frustrated that I can't put down the lines that are in my head' let alone do what other artists I admire can do.

Luckily ASIFA Hollywood is on the case and cheered me up with a post about the erroneous idea most non-artists have that drawing is like magic. It's not. They even compare it to Penn & Teller and how their revealing of how a magic trick works actually makes it more enjoyable.

I don't think I've thought of it quite like that before, but the idea of drawing as some sort of talent that allows a chosen few to effortlessly depict anything they want leads to two of the biggest problems in artmaking.

The first is the "I can't draw" problem. Put most people in contact with drawing and they'll either adamantly claim that they can't do it or express that they wish they could.

This is such a weird idea since everyone draws as a kid, but most just stop at some point and don't develop it any further. How can something you did when you were 3 be something you're completely incapable of doing as an adult?

I've always thought of playing the violin as magic. Unlike drawing most people don't play the violin as kids so there's a valid excuse for not doing it. And even if you don't know how to play the piano or guitar you can at least noodle out a few notes. Not so with a violin.


The other problem the "magic drawing" idea creates is the general disrespect of commercial artists and the undervaluing of their work.

If you know anything about commercial art (or at least have read Clients from Hell) you're probably familiar with how often artists get screwed on payment. If you think of art as something a certain few blessed people can just conjure up out of thin air it doesn't have much value since you can make as much as you want.

I once heard a story where cartoonist Sergio Aragones was at a convention and got yelled at by a customer when the sketch he paid $75 for only took about a minute to complete. He responded "You're not paying for the time it took me to draw that. You're paying for the 30 years it took me to learn to draw that."


It's better for everyone involved to treat drawing as a skill that can be learned rather than some sort of pencil-based alchemy. Just like with Penn & Teller, knowing the secrets make it even better.

Monday, July 5, 2010

What's Wrong With This Picture?

How many things are wrong with this poster for Dreamworks' third animated feature of 2010, Megamind?
So far I've got:

  • Ugly "Tude" facial expressions that you find only in animation.
  • Selling the celebrity voices rather than the story or the characters.
  • Selling the film as a generic "Superhero Movie" which is replacing the Fairy Tale as the most cliche-ridden, overdone and downright lazy genre of stories in animation or any other storytelling medium.
Anything else?

Saturday, July 3, 2010

Digging yourself a hole you can't climb out of

I've been down on The Last Airbender ever since I first heard of it. It just seemed rather pointless. And while I don't root for movies to fail, I'm not exactly weeping over the reviews I've read.

With an 8% positive on Rotten Tomatoes and horrible word of mouth from the awful afterthought 3D I wouldn't hold my breath for them to make two more of these films. Especially when you look how much money is on the line.

The Last Airbender reportedly cost $280 million to make. Even the other Avatar "only" cost $237 million. What did they spend it on? They obviously didn't have any big money actors (unless the guy from Slumdog Millionaire and the guy from The Daily Show both cost $20 million a piece) so I'm guessing it was spent on massive amount of CGI and location shooting.

I can't fathom spending that much money on a film, no matter how good it is, just for the sheer amount of risk you're taking just to break even.

When you see all those weekend tallies of how much money a movie made, not all of that money goes to the studios. It's usually a 50/50 split with the theaters. The exception is opening weekend where the studios usually take in about 80% of the money, which is why they advertise so much. It's worth more money to get you in the theater those first few days.

Speaking of advertising, with summer blockbusters these days often being marketed a year before they even come out, the astronomical cost of selling these films often doesn't get mentioned, even though it can run upwards of $100 million.

I'd guess that in the case of The Last Airbender the marketing cost along with the budget would push the overall cost of the film up to about $400 million. That means even if they made $100 million this weekend, (which only 16 movies have ever done) they'd need to gross about $750 million overall just to break even. Given I doubt they'll make anything resembling that much this weekend they'll probably need closer to $800 million, which means unless The Last Airbender becomes one of the top 25 highest grossing films of all times it'll likely lose money.

Obviously I'm playing this a little over dramatic. The overseas box office (which these days usually makes up about 2/3 of a film's total gross) will likely be a bit kinder to this film and all the tie-in merchandise, DVD releases, etc... will pull in a lot of money for Nickelodeon/Paramount, but this movie is a prime example of the spending with wild abandon that plagues summer blockbusters.

If for every dollar you spend you have to make two just to break even should you really be tossing money around this freely? At these stakes can you really hope to make a movie that's more than a cookie cutter story loaded with special effects and other gimmicks without the risk of not pulling down the insane amount of money needed to even turn a dollar's worth of profit?