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Posts Tagged ‘Animation

“Appear weak when you are strong, and strong when you are weak”*…

 

The Boeing airplane factory in Seattle got the “fake neighborhood” treatment. The women shown are walking on a suburban landscape made of chicken wire and planks, positioned over the roof of the factory. Underneath, B-17s were being built for the war effort.

Military forces have used camouflage of one sort or another since antiquity.  But with the advent of the airplane and the rise of aerial warfare, camouflage (to hide targets) and decoys (to draw fire away from real targets or to intimidate the enemy) became bigger and bigger: “Massive Wartime Decoys and Camouflage Operations.”

Sun Tzu, The Art of War

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As we misdirect, we might send convincingly animated birthday greetings to Raymond Frederick “Ray” Harryhausen; he was born on this date in 1920.  A visual effects pioneer, he became a writer and producer of films featuring the stop-motion model animation technique, “Dynamation,” that he developed.  He is probably best remembered for the animation in Mighty Joe Young (1949, with his mentor, King Kong animator Willis H. O’Brien), which won the Academy Award for Best Visual Effects; The 7th Voyage of Sinbad (1958, his first color film); and Jason and the Argonauts (1963, which featured an amazing sword fight between Jason and seven skeleton warriors).  His last film was Clash of the Titans (1981).

Harryhausen and one of the skeleton warriors from Jason and the Argonauts

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Written by LW

June 29, 2015 at 1:01 am

“Definitions belong to the definers, not the defined”*…

 

Over the last 40 years or so, the Topps Chewing Gum Company has published “Wacky Packages”– stickers featuring parodies of well-known consumer product packaging.  Predictably. many marketers objected to this kind of treatment and sent “cease and desist” letters, shortening the lives of some of the parodies, which are now harder to find.

But the rarest of all are the “Lost Wackys,” titles that were never released at all (often because, on receiving a C&D letter, Topps would often pull all of the manufacturers packages, some of those, like the one below, before they were finished).

Wander the wonderful world of Lost Wackys.

* Toni Morrison, Beloved

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As we go faux logo, we might send squawky birthday greetings to Donald Duck; “born” (in that he made his first screen appearance) on this date in 1934 in “The Wise Little Hen.”

Donald in “The Wise Little Hen”

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Written by LW

June 9, 2015 at 1:01 am

“What exactly is postmodernism, except modernism without the anxiety?”*…

 

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Wonderful “vintage” covers of MIA, Radiohead, Coolio, Lady Gaga, Elvis, and more at Scott Bradlee‘s Postmodern Jukebox.

* Jonathan Lethem

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As we shed pump up the PoMo, we might recall that it was on this date in 1928 that Mickey Mouse made his debut.  Walt Disney and Ub Iwerks tested their new character in a silent black-and-white animated short called “Plane Crazy,” loosely based on Lindbergh’s trans-Atlantic flight and the furor it occasioned.  On that day, the cartoon was screened for distributors…  all of whom passed.  Later that year, Disney released Mickey’s first sound cartoon, Steamboat Willie– which was, of course, an enormous success.  Following two more Mickey vehicles (The Gallopin’ Gaucho, and The Barn Dance), Plane Crazy was tracked and released as a sound cartoon on March 17, 1929.

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Written by LW

May 15, 2015 at 1:01 am

“My attitude is never to be satisfied, never enough, never”*…

 

Duke Ellington eating dinner with his wife, Bea Ellington, and a friend (source: Library of Congress)

 

While Duke Ellington is rightly revered as the extraordinary musician and composer that he was, he was known among his friends almost as prominently for his appetites.  As frequent sideman Tricky Sam Nanton said, “he’s a genius, all right, but Jesus, how he eats!”

Ellington was happy to share his gourmand enthusiasms.  In a 1944 interview (recounted in Lapham’s Quarterly) he reminisces…

There’s a place in Chicago, the Southway Hotel, that’s got the best cinnamon rolls and the best filet mignon in the world. Then there’s Ivy Anderson’s chicken shack in Los Angeles, where they have hot biscuits with honey and very fine chicken-liver omelets. In New Orleans there’s gumbo filé. I like it so well that I always take a pail of it out with me when I leave. In New York I send over to the Turf Restaurant at Forty-ninth and Broadway a couple of times a week to get their broiled lamb chops. I guess I’m a little freakish with lamb chops. I prefer to eat them in the dressing room, where I have plenty of room and can really let myself go. In Washington, at Harrison’s, they have deviled crab and Virginia ham. They’re terrific things. On the Île-de-France, when we went to Europe, they had the best crêpes Suzette in the world, and it took a dozen at a time to satisfy me. The Café Royal, in the Hague, has the best hors d’oeuvres in the world—eighty-five different kinds, and it takes a long time to eat some of each. There’s a place in Paris that has the best octopus soup. And oh, my, the smorgasbord in Sweden! At Old Orchard Beach, Maine, I got the reputation of eating more hot dogs than any man in America. A Mrs. Wagner there makes a toasted bun that’s the best of its kind in America. She has a toasted bun, then a slice of onion, then a hamburger, then a tomato, then melted cheese, then another hamburger, then a slice of onion, more cheese, more tomato, and then the other side of the bun. Her hot dogs have two dogs to a bun. I ate thirty-two one night…

More gustatory goodness in “Duke Ellington’s Diet“; and for a bonus treat, read this 1944 New Yorker profile of Ellington.

* Duke Ellington

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As we Take the A Train, we might recall that it was on this date in 1937 that the first animated-cartoon electric sign display in the U.S. was lit by its designer, Douglas Leigh, on the front of a building on Broadway in Times Square.  It used 2,000 bulbs, and its four-minute show included a cavorting horse a ball tossing cats.  Leigh, who went on to design such famous billboards as the Eight O’Clock Coffee sign (with a coffee pot that was, literally, steaming) and the Camel Cigarette sign (that blew smoke rings), became know as “The Man Who Lit Up New York.”  While his signs are now gone, his lighting of the Empire State Building (Leigh was also a pioneer in the illumination of city skylines and buildings) survives; and his large illuminated snowflake is still hung at the intersection of Fifth Avenue and 57th Street every holiday season.

Douglas Leigh and his Times Square

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Written by LW

April 28, 2015 at 1:01 am

“In Hollywood, the real stars are all in animation”*…

 

Back in 2001, Terry Gilliam, a respected director who’d begun his career creating the animated opens and bumpers for Monty Python’s Flying Circus, named his list of The 10 Best Animated Films of All Time.  From Starewicz and Disney, through Svankmajer and the Brothers Quay, to Lasseter/Pixar and Parker/South Park, it’s a captivating collection.

Our friends at Open Culture have dressed the list, adding links where available…  so now readers can click straight through to many of Gilliam’s picks: “The Best Animated Films of All Time, According to Terry Gilliam.”

The photo above, sourced here, is a lift from a marvelous short: “Terry Gilliam’s Do It Yourself Animation Show.”

* John Waters, Crackpot: The Obsessions of John Waters

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As we celebrate cels, we might spare a thought for Hazel Inez Gilman George; she died on this date in 1996.  George held down two key roles at The Walt Disney Company:  she was the company’s (and Walt’s personal) nurse, and– as “Gil George”– the main collaborator and partner of Disney composer Paul Smith.  Indeed, she co-wrote over 90 songs for Disney. Her work included songs for films like The Light in the Forest, Perri, Tonka, Westward Ho the Wagons, and Old Yeller. She was also a frequent contributor to the television shows including the original Disneyland show, Zorro, and the original Mickey Mouse Club.

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Written by LW

March 12, 2015 at 1:01 am

“Words are, of course, the most powerful drug used by mankind”*…

 

 

Bookworm: Movies

Search for trends in the dialogue of thousands of movie and TV shows, based on subtitles from Open Subtitles

Bookworm is like a lot of other word frequency sites. But unlike most, it directly incorporates links to every text searched, so you can actually see what drives changes; and it lets you customize the corpus so you can exclude texts that aren’t interesting to you. This particular instance looks at movies and TV shows. Genre, location and language information from the Internet Movie Database textfiles. Click to see the movies/TV shows where the matches are found.  For some caveats, explanations, and examples, see the accompanying blog post.

Hours of illuminating fun at Ben Schmidt‘s “Bookworm: Movies.”

* Rudyard Kipling

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As we marvel at multiplying memes and dynamic dialogue, we might recall that it was on this date in 1981 that Warner Bros. released The Looney Looney Looney Bugs Bunny Movie, a feature-length Looney Tunes/Merrie Melodies compilation of classic Warner cartoon shorts and animated bridging sequences produced by Friz Freleng, hosted by Bugs Bunny. The new footage was one of the final productions of DePatie-Freleng Enterprises.

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Written by LW

November 20, 2014 at 1:01 am

“The slogan of Hell: Eat or be eaten. The slogan of Heaven: Eat and be eaten”*…

 

This three-year-old male Great Dane was observed repeatedly vomiting and retching all day; he was taken to DoveLewis Emergency Animal Hospital in Portland, where abdominal radiographs revealed a severely distended stomach and a large quantity of foreign material:

During exploratory surgery performed by a DoveLewis veterinarian, 43½ socks were removed.

The patient was discharged home one day after surgery, and is doing well.

The peckish pooch finished third in Veterinary Practice News‘ annual “They ate WHAT?” contest.  See the other winners at “2014 X-Ray Contest Winners–Animals will eat just about anything. The proof is in the radiographs.”

* W.H. Auden, A Certain World: A Commonplace Book

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As we are what we eat, we might recall that it was on this date in 1932 that Walt Disney initiated the art classes that grew into the Walt Disney Art School (and later inspired the creation of the California Institute for the Arts).  In preparation for his feature-length cartoon (Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, which would require the animation of more human figure than the critters theretofore featured), Disney set up the school to train his animators.  The first class was taught by Don Graham of the Chouinard School of Art, lecturing at Disney’s old sound studio on Hyperion Avenue in Los Angeles. Classes are held once a week after work on the sound stage, but soon this will be expanded to twice weekly. The selection of Graham was propitious; “The Prof” groomed a team of animators that went on to set (and continually raise) standards for decades.

A true scholar of the art of drawing [who] knew as much about art as anybody I’ve ever come in contact with. Don gave so much and offered so much and not too many people realize that. [Don] was a very inspirational man.Marc Davis on Don Graham

Don Graham really knew what he was teaching, and he “showed” you how to do something – he didn’t just talk. He taught us things that were very important for animation. How to simplify our drawings – how to cut out all the unnecessary hen scratching amateurs have a habit of using. He showed us how to make a drawing look solid. He taught us about tension points – like a bent knee, and how the pant leg comes down from that knee and how important the wrinkles from it are to describe form. I learned a hell of a lot from him!  —Art BabbittOnce Upon a Time — Walt Disney: The Sources of inspiration for the Disney Studios

Jack Kinney‘s memory of Don Graham’s class

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Written by LW

November 15, 2014 at 1:01 am

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