Sunday, November 29, 2009
Saturday, November 28, 2009
Saturday, July 18, 2009
Saw a great exhibition today. The Museum of Contemporary Art Tokyo (MOT) today started a three month exhibition displaying the works of American artist, Mary Blair. Mary Blair was a commercial artist well known for her work with the Walt Disney Animation Studio and Walt Disney Imagineering. Starting around 1940 she was a key conceptualist for many Disney shorts and films such as, "Cinderella", "Alice in Wonderland", "Peter Pan" and "Song of the South."
Mary Blair provided the concepts and designs for the "It's a Small World" attraction at Disneyland. Her legacy lives on as her style and design is still used as the model when updates are made to the attraction.
Her work is bold and simple. Complex and childlike. She might use simple wall of color against deep shadow for impact. Sometimes she used a array of hues and colors in an almost mosaic like composition. Color can be used to invoke mood, direct your eyes to a certain point or to communicate. Her work did all this and more.
Mary Blair maybe wasn't so well known for her commercial work by name, but her style is certainly recognizable by many. Notably illustrations for the Golden Books and many commercial food products and household goods advertised throughout the 1950'sand 1960's. That bold but childlike appeal and feel of her work of her work has echoed into much of the commercial illustration we see today.
Tuesday, July 14, 2009
So...what ever happened to the Animation Podcast??
What is The Animation Podcast you ask? That's a question I wouldn't be surprised to hear from a person who would be a layman to animation. If I mentioned Glen Keane, Andreas Deja or James Baxter and you didn't as so much flinch, you'd be forgiven. If I said "Nine Old Men" and your Jeopardy answer was, "FDR's Nine Supreme Court Justices", you'd be forgiven.
But if you were an animator who worked for a major American animation studio and asked me "What's the Animation Podcast?" I'd be shocked. Because that's the very same question I was asked when I had the opportunity to hang out with an animator who's credits to me were quite impressive. Are there actually animators in the industry who actually do not know what The Animation Podcast is??
The Animation Podcast is a free (key word is FREE, folks!) podcast available on iTunes run by animator Clay Kaytis. His credits include most recently animation supervisor of "Rhino" from Disney's "Bolt". ( An impressive piece of dynamic animation for a character whose design is essentially a palm sized beanbag....trapped inside a plastic ball no less.)
The Animation Podcast features interviews with some of the animation industry's most respected animators like the ones mentioned above. People who were literally responsible for breathing life (and yes, magic) into iconic film characters of Oscar nominated films as The Beast in Disney's "Beauty and the Beast", Scar of "The Lion King" and The Genie from "Aladdin".
I believe in his first podcast Clay said, "So much of what I know about animation is from handouts, lecture notes and interviews of great animators of the past. It's always a rush for me to find some new clip or audio file that gives you an insight into who they were and what is was like when they were creating such amazing work."
The Animation Podcast is a priceless wealth of information, not just about animation (and quite frequently Disney history) but also filmmaking and production in general. Listen to a couple of podcasts and you'll learn a great deal not only about what about what goes into animating a character, but also what goes into developing a film concept from start to finish. Did I mention the podcast was free?
Clay published thirty (count 'em, 30!) free podcasts featuring interviews and audio recordings of animators such as the aforementioned above and film legends Ron Clements and John Musker, Milt Kahl, Burny Mattinson and Ray Harryhausen. About a year ago The Animation Podcast culminated to an interview with Eric Goldberg (animator of The Genie in "Aladdin")... and I was like this podcast is REALLY getting good. "What's next for the Animation Podcast?"
The answer to that was, "silence".
For almost a year there have been no podcasts, no teases not a single audible peep from The Animation Podcast. Which brings me back to my original question, "What happened to The Animation Podcast?"
The main website, http://www.animationpodcast.com/ is still up and functioning, and Clay did make a post to make a plug for Walt Stanchfeld's new "Drawn to Life" books. But no updates. I'd like to think well, if Clay isn't around making podcasts, hopefully he's animating.
I don't know what goes into publishing a podcast, but I am sure it's a LOT of work. Clay Kaytis is obviously very passionate about animation and loves the medium intensely. I can't think of any other reason why he would produce for free, such excellent work that many interested people would certainly pay money for. Work that without a doubt will be included in lists of reputable material pertaining to Disney history and animation history in general.
I am confident that Clay and The Animation Podcast will return at some point, most likely with a podcast that will do more than please but inform and inspire.
...by the way just to note how generous Clay Kaytis is, you can find him on Twitter under www.twitter.com/animpodcast. Doing what? Giving tips and advice on animation....yes, for free.
I can be found on Twitter now too. www.twitter.com/ki_innis.
Wednesday, June 24, 2009
In Spring of 2009 the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, along with host (an master animator) Andreas Deja, put on an incredible and perhaps once in a lifetime tribute of to the legendary animator master, Milt Kahl.
I was kicking myself wishing I could have made this event. As I heard, the turnout was so great that tickets were oversold and people had to be turned away.
I just discovered that the Academy in all its grace put up several video clips of the host panel's discussion from the tribute which you can see here: http://www.oscars.org/events-exhibitions/events/2009/kahl.html
Now if they would only post video of the entire tribute online.
Though the clips are only a few minutes in length each, they are a wealth of amusing, sincere and heartfelt anecdotes about one of the most notoriously demanding animators in film history. Andreas Deja, Kathryn Beaumont, Brad Bird, Ron Clements, John Musker, Floyd Norman all shared their priceless experiences with the man.
Infamous for his uncensored and unrestrained candor, Milt Kahl as I have come to understand was demanding due to his passion and high standards. He was "The Disney Style" as I heard it put as his draftsmanship developed the standard and the model for many (if not most) of Disney's animated characters.
People who know who he was regard him as sort of an animation demi-god...which in away he was. His animation talent still exceeds most of the animation we see today.
Despite that, he had a sense of humility about his incredible talent.
To paraphrase, Kahl said something like, "I'm better simply because I worked harder at it."
Amen to that. Art has to be tempered with discipline.
For me Kahl's best performance was his last: Madame Medusa of The Rescuers (1977). The fact that a rough maverick like Kahl could create a mid 40-ish, red-haired, prissy and selfish fop of a hellcat who doesn't know she's over the hill yet proves the fact that animators are ultimately not simply cartoonists, but performers. Actors with pencils.
Thursday, May 14, 2009
"The Harimaya Bridge" tells the story of an American father who travels to rural Japan after his estranged son is killed in an unfortunate accident. In doing so, he confronts his own prejudice about Japan seeing the lives his son has touched and learns a secret about his son's life as well.
Aaron always spoke favorably of the Disney Screenwriting Fellowship. Filmmaking is a long, hard and arduous process. You need need all the help you can get and you take it whenever and whereever you can. The fellowship presented opportunities Aaron was able to maximize in making his vision come to life.
(left to right, The Harimaya Bridge stars: Ben Guillory, Saki Takaoka, Danny Glover and writer/ director Aaron Woolfolk)
On learning the art, the business, meeting people within the industry, within the DSF, Aaron noted, "All of those things influenced me as I took "The Harimaya Bridge" from simply being a well-written script to being a viable project that people were willing to invest in.
Wednesday, May 6, 2009
As good things never last forever it the clip was removed. However I did come across several interviews with Chuck Jones for the Archive of American Television. The interviews were conducted by animation legend, Tom Sito in 1998. In total all six clips run about 3 hours long.
The interview was filled with priceless Chuck Jones anecdotes, insights on drawing, anatomy, timing, his years at Termite Terrace and his short stint at Disney.
The videos are a perfect compliment Chuck Jones' autobiography, Chuck Amuck, (one of my favorite books) a great read for any artist, animator, filmmaker or anyone.
NOTE: I noticed that the original links were removed, but I was able to find the new links and update them. View them here but also please visit the original page on the Archive of American Television's website.
Where's that other 1/2 an hour? Sometimes you do get what you want. I discovered that the Chuck Jones/ Charlie Rose interview has found another life on Charlie Rose's homepage. Enjoy!