Apr 20, 2010

Raoul Servais-Amelia D.

Haha, I bet some of you thought I was going to do my post on Jan Svankmajer, but I'm not. Suckers.
Raoul Servais was born in the Belgian city of Ostend in 1928. He is mainly known for the film "Harpya", which won the Palme d'Or at Cannes in France in 1979. "Harpya" was also the first and last film to use the technique of mixing animation and live action together as one.
His work is surreal, with odd camera angles and strange subject matter, and it is really fun to watch. I recently saw one of his earlier films, "Sirene", and it looks like something that could have been made today. It has precise movements of the machines and the delicate form of humans rolled balanced in quite a harmonious way. Go watch it. You'll love it.

Apr 19, 2010

spike jonze film online

um this isn't exactly history of animation but I was just wanting to say that Spike Jonze made a short film (inexplicably paid for by Absolut) and it's online now. It's about robots falling in love and stuff.

I can't figure out how the computer-headed robot's mouth is being animated, but I feel like it's probably something really simple.

oh and here's the trailer, I think:

Apr 14, 2010

Walt Disney of the East- Stephen Bevilacqua

Jiri Trnka was consider to be Disney of the east. Through his provoctive puppet animation, Trnka became one of the most infulenical animators of our time. He graduated from the Prague School of Arts and Crafts. He created a puppet theater in 1936. This group was dissolved when World War 2 began, and he instead designed stage sets and illustrated books for children throughout the war. After the end of the war, Trnka started an animation unit at the Prague film studio. Trnka soon became very recognized as the world's greatest puppet animator in the traditional Czech method, and he won several awards including Cannes in 1959 and 1964 for Best Short. The last film Trnka work on earned him an BAFTA was RUKA (The Hand). It was a tragicomic story of a little man who hopes to make a flower-pot for his beloved flower and present hand that forces the man to create a portrait celebrating it. It is a horrifying protest against any violence restraining human freedom, emotions, creative force or life. It is one of the milestones of Czech and world animation. In 1984 the American Film Academy declared it the fifth best animated picture in history. Jaroslav Bocek, and admire of Trnka, points out

"Walt Disney had, in fact, dominated animated cartoons throughout the thirties. It was not only that the market was flooded with films from his own studios, but also that he had influenced the technique and style all over the world. A cartoon film was automatically thought of as a Disney film, and any work in Europe in this field was always along his lines….Then came Trnka and the Trick Brothers. Years later, Stephen Bosustow, the American critic, was to call Trnka ‘the first rebel against Disney’s omnipotence.’

Disney’s omnipotence had helped other animators to learn the basic elements of the craft. His cartoons had given them technique and skill. But what they lacked was a style and concept of their own. These Trnka was to supply in his very first film, made immediately after the war."

Talk to The Hand! Anthony Bevilacqua


Born in 1912, Jiri Trnka's stop-motion animated short film The Hand is a harrowingly gorgeous and tragically whimsical political statement in regards to his own personal disgust as both a freethinker and artist who is grappling with the severe effects of oppression and censorship while under narrow-minded, tyranical rule. Completed just three years before his death in 1969, Czech animator Jiri Trnka released this controversial work in 1965, cleverly disguising the underlining themes of The Hand with intricately detailed visuals as well as an adorably sympathetic central character. As the most simplistic version of the story goes, A humble little man who wishes to make a flowerpot for his most cherished flower is continuously bombarded by an ever present and disruptively intrusive giant hand. Perceived within the art community as fearless, provocative and humanistically relevant, The Hand quickly made animation history and eventually received worldwide acclaim, being called a milestone for Czech expressionism and even one of the greatest animated films of all time.
This is a link to The Hand:

Apr 8, 2010

How The Grinch Stole My Heart

Chuck Jones's "How The Grinch Stole Christmas" is a favorite among the Gorals, and its viewing on Christmas Eve has been a family tradition for years. Personally, I think the cartoon is a too-often overlooked Chuck Jones gem.

The short was originally aired on December 18, 1966 on CBS. It was telecast annually until 1987 by CBS until its ownership was acquired by TBS, who still broadcast the cartoon every year. The short has also appeared on Cartoon Network and The WB.

The short was produced by Metro Goldwyn Mayer Studios and The Cat in the Hat Productions. I am unable to find a whole lot of information on The Cat in the Hat Productions, like whether or not Dr. Seuss was involved, but what I did find is that the company was formed in 1966, their first short film being "The Grinch." "The Cat in the Hat" was their third film and was not produced until 1971. TCitHP doesn't seem to be around anymore, although I can't confirm that, but one would think this to be true seeing as their last film was "The Hoober-Bloob Highway," made in 1975.

Back to "The Grinch," and for all you cinephiles out there, "How The Grinch Stole Christmas" was narrated by none other than Boris Karloff. Oh, what a silly person to narrate a children's story. Boris Karloff is probably best know for his roles as Frankenstein's Monster in "Frankenstein" and "Bride of Frankenstein," as well as The Mummy in "The Mummy." Surely, "How The Grinch Stole Christmas" added some color and humor to Karloff's dark and macabre resume. A quote:

-Boris Karloff as "The Mummy"

Also, the song "Fahoo Forays," sung by the Whos, was written to sound as though it were being sung in Latin. My top secret infiltrators at IMDB tell me that letters were received by MGM from viewers asking for the Latin to English translation. Fooled!

Jim Carrey sucks.

Apr 7, 2010

"Looney Tunes" Frame by Frame

When I took a character animation class last semester, we often looked at John K's blog (creator of Ren & Stimpy), primarily because he posts frame-by-frame analyses of many Looney Tunes moments, dissecting how extreme exaggerations and motion smears look individually. Often times, the animation is so well executed and smooth that the extreme drawings of certain frames don't seem all that noticeable when watching them in motion. Through this, the animation is far more interesting and exciting when seemingly strange techniques are used. He also provides a link to the actual animated scene at the end of each post, so you can see what these images look like when animated.

Here are a handful of great frame-by-frame examples:

And my favorite, motion smears & poses!!

These are all really inspiring to look at, especially because the Looney Tunes classics are amazing examples of character animation loaded with great humor. Understanding the techniques that great animators used is so informative and makes character animation much more exciting.

Definitely check out more analyses on his blog; you can find them listed by the director's last name if you look through the listing on the right side of the page.

Please ignore the horrible 5-second introduction to this, it seems to be the best upload of The Great Piggy Bank Robbery!

& The Dover Boys:


The History of a fictional land... Wackyland! -Yael

Since the discovery of Wackyland in the year 1938 , it has been a choice locale for the Looney Tunes.

Wackyland was first discovered by Porky Pig in his effort to find a Dodo.
When this animation was remade in color, it was dubbed " dough for the dodo." in 1949.
A company known as terrytoons supposedly ripped off the idea creating a place known as "dingbatland." the name just doesn't roll off the tongue!

Wackyland became frequently visited in the early 90's by the Tiny Toons. An iconic batch of characters for my generation, some people find them endearing while others want to drop an acme anvil on their candy colored heads. Babs bunny takes a wild trip to wackyland, a fun animation I must say. Unfortunately the only video I could recover of it was a horrible youtube fandub.


Wackyland is an amusing, surreal, and colorful place, so naturally it became a venue for some looney tunes video games. Adventures in Wackyland 2 was released in 1993 for the NES. Wackyland also appears in a newer looney tunes game for the Wii. Now anyone can visit wackyland, even if it's just pixelated! Sadly, neither of the games got high ratings, and are only mildly amusing. Also! You can race through wackyland in looney tunes racing (ps2.)

Wackyland: Prime vacation spot for 2010.

Be vewy vewy quiet, I'm hunting wabbits-Elmer Fudd

We all recognize Elmer Fudd because of his familiar gullibility, short temper, big head, and double barrel gun. His never ending goal of hunting "wabbits" kept and still manages to keep viewers captivated because they know that he will lose, and they know why he will lose, but they don't know how it's going to happen. Bugs always has another trick up his sleeve. Though Elmer is considered the villain of the cartoons, he lacks the essential characteristics of a potential villain. He's relatively slow, has terrible aim, and a short attention span.

He first began his life as "Egghead", created by Tax Avery as a bizarre figure with an egg like head, and a big nose. Chuck Jones re-drew Elmer for "Elmers Candid Camera" in 1940 with the baby voice of Arthur Bryan, who truly did have a lisp. In "A Wild Hare"(1940), we see Elmer as he appears today for the first time.

What could have made Elmer so bitter that he feels the need to poach Bugs? He is a vegetarian and hunts purely for sport. I would originally say that he was so bitter because he had tried time after time to catch this dumb wabbit and felt defeated, but it turns out that in his first appearances, he "wikes wabbits" and just wants to photograph Bugs and adopt him as a pet. Eventually Bugs must have had vulnerable Elmer so frustrated that it drove him to huntin'.

After Arthur Bryans death, Hal Smith took over Elmer Fudd for two cartoons, but eventually Fudd had no voice at all, retired for almost three decades.


What’s Opera, Doc? -Bryan DiBlasi

Perhaps one of my favorite cartoons by Chuck Jones (and of all time, for that matter) is his “What’s Opera, Doc?” Perhaps it’s a simple question of nostalgia, but I always find myself enjoying the short more and more after each subsequent viewing. One reason I enjoy it is because of the many ties it has to various Wagner operas (e.g. The Flying Dutchman, Tannhäuser, The Valkyrie, etc…) Maybe I like the short simply for it’s idea of teaching kids about things they might not know about at that stage (in this case opera). I know that after I saw this, it prompted me to go and find out about what the short was parodying. The short truly stands on its own. It can do everything from teach you, to make you roll on the floor laughing. This is why it has held up so well compared to other things throughout the years. In this magnum opus by Chuck Jones, he lampoons everything from Richard Wagner to Disney’s “Fantasia”. Perhaps this is why I like this particular one so much; the diversity.


Watching all these American classics of animation last week, was a great experience. They are so deeply ingraned in people's memories and are part of the culture. Most of these animations were totally new to me. I grew up watching Hungarian folktale adaptations on TV and occasionally a Czech or Slovak or Russian (from the Soviet era) animation. As I got older, more and more programs from the West started popping up on TV. Sunday afternoon, 3 to 4 pm was Disney hour. And I watched it every weekend. And I had to take a nap beforehand, which I hated. But, it was worth it just to see Ducktales, Captain Balu otherwise known as TaleSpin, Chip and Dale Rescue Rangers and Aladdin... (any of this familiar to anyone besides Aladdin? Just wondering...The links lead to the Hungarian versions of the intros.)
And then when I was in fourth grade (or somewhere around that time), my mom and I got a satelite dish. Now, this thing was very sensitive. It was on our roof and it had to be turned with a clicker from the room the TV was in. As you clicked the clicker, left or right, the dish would follow. And that dish could get amazing channels! Like Eurosport and BBC. One day as I was playing around with the clicker and was trying desperately to get it back to where I started from, I stumbled onto Cartoon Network. And I was smitten with Cartoon Network. Someone told me a story about this girl, who learned English just by watching it. I told my mom that so she would let me watch more if it, but she didn't go for it... Anyhow, it was then that I saw Tom and Jerry, and Bugs Bunny and Elmer Fudd the first time. I loved them all! Especially the ones with lots of visual gags, because my English at the time constituted of "Vatsi yor neim?" and "Tank yu". Later on, after hearing "Gotcha" a hundred times and a dozen futile attempts to find it in my dictionary, I finally got it!
Just last night, I had one of those "gotcha" moments that made me ridiculously happy. I watched an early episode of 30 Rock and Liz Lemon's phone goes off and it is the "Kill the Wabbit" song! The joke is on the snobbish art dealer because she is not familiar with the reference and asks her if she likes Wagner. And I got it. And the joke wasn't on me. (It made me almost as happy when I read the Phantom Tollbooth and was figuring out the wordplays. Pretty exciting if I think about how I first read Goodnight Moon when I was a freshman and halfway through "Make way for ducklings" I had to finally ask if these Mr and Mrs Mallard were birds, and I am still not through all the Dr. Seuss books.)

Posted by Eszter

If frog could sing-stephen bevilacqua

The main reason I love this short is because it reminds me about loving the ridiculousness in every story. I remember siting down at my grandmother's house and that would be playing on TV in the living room. Later when I'm thinking on an idea, I follow that code of over expressive humor. Although some consider What's Opera, Doc? the perfect Chuck Jones cartoon, I would argue that this is the best choice to represent Chuck Jones boiled down to one short. Jones did a great variety of work, but he was at his best with little or no dialog, a visual cartoon that wasn't just slapstick visuals. This is not only a stupid thing to do in itself; it also makes no sense since there is no reason why crowds would rush in so enthusiastically to see the singing frog if the only attraction was free admission, but that's what the beer was for. The song is not only the best and catchiest in the whole cartoon, it also provided a name for the frog character when, overwhelmed by the popularity of the film and inundated with requests for the character's name, Jones dubbed him Michigan J. Frog. I've remember this cartoon for almost all my life and remember it always.

Duck Amuck!


Directed by Chuck Jones and produced by Warner Brothers Studios, the critically acclaimed surreal Looney Tune known as Duck Amuck was released in early 1953 from the Vitaphone Corporation and quickly became a unique and unconventional success. Ranking in at #2 in 1994's 50 greatest cartoons of all time, the short starred Daffy Duck at his unrestrained and ornery best. As the plot goes, Daffy is being randomly and incessantly tormented by the temporarily undisclosed animator of the cartoon he is currently inhabiting, and as the toon progresses, so do the bits. The logic behind this ingeniously hilarious cartoon, as according to Chuck Jones, is that it was intended to demonstrate that animation can be fueled by characters with distinct and recognizable personalities rather than merely funny appearances. In addition, Duck Amuck more or less permanently inducted Daffy into what I like to call the Looney Tune Hall of Fame; thus making him one of the more popular cartoons in the history of animation.

John Whitney Bio By Anthony Bevilacqua

John Whitney is known as an inventor, composer and animator who was born in Pasadena, California on April 8th, 1917. He died at the age of 78 on September 22, 1995. He is frequently considered to be the father of computer animation. He went to Pomona College and studied the art of music in Paris for a year. When he returned to America, he began to collaborate with his brother, James. He was awarded first prize at the First International Experimental Film Festival for a film he did with his brother and also won the Guggenheim Fellowship. But along with achieving distinction in the experimental film world, he made his mark in television with commercials and in movies such as Alfred Hitchcock’s Vertigo. His work varied greatly; it went from being considered psychedelic to being influenced by Native Americans. His work and name would be nothing without him perfecting the analogue computer. The following quote is a description of the device he used to create his art.
The analogue computer Whitney used to create his most famous animations was built in the late 1950s by converting the mechanism of a World War II M-5 Antiaircraft Gun Director.[1] Later, Whitney would augment the mechanism with an M-7 mechanism, creating a twelve-foot-high machine.[2] Design templates were placed on three different layers of rotating tables and photographed by multiple-axis rotating cameras. Color was added during optical printing. Whitney's son, John, Jr., described the mechanism in 1970: ‘I don't know how many simultaneous motions can be happening at once. There must be at least five ways just to operate the shutter. The input shaft on the camera rotates at 180 rpm, which results in a photographing speed of 8 fps. That cycle time is constant, not variable, but we never shoot that fast. It takes about nine seconds to make one revolution. During this nine-second cycle the tables are spinning on their own axes while simultaneously revolving around another axis while moving horizontally across the range of the camera, which may itself be turning or zooming up and down. During this operation we can have the shutter open all the time, or just at the end for a second or two, or at the beginning, or for half of the time if we want to do slit-scanning. ‘”

This link is of one of his earlier digital works, Arabesque-http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=w7h0ppnUQhE

This link is Catalogue, which was made when he perfected the analogue computer-


These are the opening credits, which he worked on for the film Vertigo by Alfred Hitchcock- http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rkHn8PNGYaA

This is a picture of Whitney and his brother James at work.

BUGS! BUGS! BUGS! -angela

Bugs Bunny was always kind of my favorite Looney Toons. He wasn't the cutest or the sassiest, but I really liked the way he calmly and cleverly outsmarted those who were out to get him. Even though he would prank them consistently in ways that would be fatal outside of Looney Toons land, it was always in an oddly loving way.
His premier as the famous bunny we know and love, was in the 1940 animated short "A Wild Hare," directed by Tex Avery. Here, he eats his crunchy carrot, as he says his first "What's up, Doc?" and the whole thing its toped by two instances of his lip smacking attack on his enemy. It seems like the letter R was eliminated from the alphabet in this animated world. Also, his performance along side Elmer Fudd sets a high standard as a classic interaction between hunter and prey in cartoons. Another thing that makes him particularly attractive as a character is that it seems almost natural that he would break the 4th wall and address his amused audience, as he does in the end of "A Wild Hare."
While he retains some of the presence he had in his first appearance in 1938, before he was grey and before his name Bugs was official, he evolved to become much more stylized and much more dimensional as a character, not to mention that he loses the overly goofy laugh he had at first. See "Porky's Hare Hunt," directed by Cal Dalton and Ben "Bugs" Hardaway for the earliest appearance of a rabbit like character, the origins of Bugs.
The rabbit made his second appearance in 1939. in "Prest-O Change-O," directed by Chuck Jones. That same year, he also appeared in "Hare-um Scare-Um," directed again by Dalton and Hardaway, with a rather crass version of Elmer Fudd (although, Bugs is still amazing, with his government refusal sticker and his brief musical stunt). In the latter, the bunny has already turned grey, although it is a great leap still between this rabbit and the wabbit featured in Chuck Jones' short.

Bugs officially gets his title in Jones' "Elmer's Pet Rabbit" released in 1941. Watch him play dead yet again, here!


The Rabbit of Seville-Amelia D.

After seeing "What's Opera, Doc?" last week, I thought of another opera-esque cartoon involving Bugs Bunny and Elmer Fudd, "The Rabbit of Seville". This was based off of the overture to Rossini's "The Barber of Seville".
I love many different parts of this cartoon, but the two that stick with me the most are when Bugs is giving Elmer a haircut, and he makes fruit salad on top of his head. The other one is when Bugs "proposes" to Elmer, and the two get married (with Elmer in drag, surprisingly) and then Elmer gets dumped into a wedding cake. It's silly, ridiculous, and everything you'd expect out of a Bugs Bunny animation.

Apr 1, 2010

The Strange dreams of Harry Smith - Yael Silverman

When I was growing up in the suburbs of New Jersey I met a boy named Harry Smith. He was in my chorus class, and cried often because he was quite a terrible singer. He cried about almost everything actually. He would bawl if there was too much peanut butter in his sandwich, or if there was not enough of it. What would especially set him off is if people teased him and called him cry baby, then you would really see the water works.

Let's just say the animator Harry Smith redefined my impression of Harry Smiths everywhere.

Harry Everett Smith was born in late may , 1923. He was nothing short of a renaissance man, dabbling in anthropology, country music, mysticism, film making, and of course, animating. We witnessed a cutout process, but this we certainly not his exclusive media ( though it was my favorite!) Harry's animations often branched off into far more abstract concepts, where no image or place is recognizable at all. His early abstractions were simply encompassing the sensations of texture, color, and movement.

Harry Smith and Norman Mclaren were honestly the first animators to open my eyes to the power of abstraction. Like the average dimwit I found abstraction to be pointless and boring. Once I began to actually create animation and study it; I realized just how intense and important process was. My overly polished character drawings came out looking stiff and awkward, and honestly, sometimes animation is just a lot more fluid when you are following the smooth sweep of an abstract green arch than a character who's mouth doesn't sync with sound for the life of them. Character animation has to CONVINCE the audience that the walking, talking, and anatomy is "correct." The charm of abstraction is the artistic process, visual stimuli, and meaning that each individual can take away from witnessing such work. Harry Smith sometimes provides us with a little more than other surrealists and abstract animators; he does seem to enjoy using people and familiar objects. The distinct differentiation is that the people are not particular CHARACTERS playing a part in a NARRATIVE, they are more in line with other representational objects, carrying out whatever strange task that we could not imagine being assigned to them. This puts them in a position we may find humorous, confusing, but over all entertaining and thought provoking. Thank you Harry, for showing me that abstract animation is a vast and beautiful field that flirts with the eye and leaves room for my imagination to wander.

Back to facts, Harry smith seemed to have a fondness for labeling his works by number. He compiled about 20 animations over the course of 30 years. Only a few were collage , many were more focused on brush stroke and color. It is suggested that his work was affected by his bohemian lifestyle and recreational drug use. Though many may be opposed to this type of lifestyle, it was a very current reflection of artistic society in the era in which he was working. This mindset stemmed from a community of experimentalists, which he seemed very much a part of.

Now for the show!

Open your imagination and let some Harry soak in!