The geniuses at Monkey Lights have come out with a whole new way to ride your bike and it’s pretty awesome.
After they first came up with the idea back in 2009, Monkey Lights is back with a new and improved design. The lights, which are installed on your wheels, help create an animation that you control while riding. It’s sort of like gifs on wheels. The lights come in a variety of designs like this cute one of a cat and dog.
I wonder if they have Disney characters? Do they offer personalized writing options?
The idea is pretty genius and aside from making your ride look like the coolest bike on the road, it will also come in handy in keeping you safe on those late night bike rides.
I’m still reeling from my Xbox’s untimely demise as its red ring status also means I can’t play Mortal Kombat anymore. Fine. Whatever. I’ll just go get my Sega Dreamcast and play some Marvel Vs. Capcom. I don’t need to see a fictitious character rip the spine out of his enemy in HD. I’ll just sick mini-robots on my opponents not in HD. No biggie.
Anyways, I swear my gaming troubles segways into artist Jonny Lawrence‘s stop motion video where his Street Fighter-inspired creation fights his artsy fingers (as for the connection, Street Fighter characters are featured in Marvel Vs. Capcom. Yay! We got there!). His video is really cool because a) all I can draw is stick figures, b) I don’t possess the patience to do anything stop-motion animated and c) it takes a lot of effort to create something this cool and interactive which I obviously have to applaud.
Maybe that’s what I should ask Santa for this year: a bit of creativity. And patience. Which I would like now. (Ha! See what I did there? No, you don’t care? Sigh.)
Remember how Disney animation was all handrawn? With all the special effects now, animation seems less tedious—or just tedious in different ways. The magic of Disney just seems to become more and more apparent as it’s audience grows to appreciate the work and effort that went into the construction of films that comprised their childhood.
In an incredible blog post, Technicolour Disney shows how Disney would film real actors so that animators could refer to them in animation. The pictures featured in the blog post show iconic Disney characters with their actor counterpart acting out famous scenes from their animated film. The post includes pictures of Tinker Bell—both animated and real—as well as the Mad Hatter, and Snow White.
COMPARE YOUR FAVOURITE DISNEY CHARACTERS TO THEIR REAL LIFE COUNTERPARTS HERE:
Animator Adam Brown brings us a taste of what it would be like if Calvin and Hobbes became a TV show. Brown based his 28 second video on the cartoon strip above.
While it was only an experiment of sorts, would a real Calvin and Hobbes television show be too much to ask for? Because I would watch this every Saturday morning with a bowl of cereal in hand. We need good Saturday morning cartoons back on TV. Stat.
Cats are tricky pets because they ultimately really don’t give a shit about you until it’s feeding time. With that being said, they would obviously make a terrible Valentine. Don’t believe me? Just check out how Pusheen, the cutest illustrated cat around, would spend the day.
While that sounds about right, at least you know your date is cute!
Charlie Tahan may only just be 15-years-old. But having worked with stars like Will Smith in I Am Legend and Natalie Portman in The Other Woman, the teen already boasts a very impressive résumé.
Most known as Zac Efron’s little brother in Charlie St. Cloud, Tahan now enters into his first voice role starring in Tim Burton’s Frankenweenie.
Chatting with andPOP, Tahan shared some of his experiences on set and talked more about his character, Victor Frankenstein.
Tim Burton is known to make some dark films. What makes Frankenweenie appealing to everyone?
Yeah, he makes some dark films but there is always more to his movies. Some people might think at first that Frankenweenie would be really dark too because it is sort of has themes about death, and monsters and stuff. But what it is really about… it is mostly a story about a boy and his dog, and how much they love each other. And that is appealing to almost everyone, kids and adults.
Disney’s latest 3D flick may include some of your favourite video game characters like Bowser, Pac-Man and Sonic the Hedgehog. However, none of this would have been possible without the guidance of animation director Rich Moore.
But even if you’ve never heard of Moore before, chances are you’re familiar with some of his work. Having directed episodes of The Simpsons and Futurama, he is actually an accomplished director with two Primetime Emmy Awards under his belt.
Speaking about his new film Wreck-it Ralph during a phone call, Moore let us in on what it was like to create a movie about video games.
Wreck-It Ralph focuses on the bad guy:
An underdog story, the film surrounds Wreck-It-Ralph, a video game villain with dreams of becoming a hero. Tired of being overshadowed by good guy Fix-It-Felix, Ralph goes on a quest that ultimately brings havoc to the whole arcade he lives in.
Believe or not, “hero” Fix-It-Felix was originally supposed to be the star of the film. But when Moore and screenwriter Phil Johnston weren’t really getting traction with the project, they scrapped the idea and decided to focus the movie on Wreck-It Ralph instead.
“In a feature, the main character has an arc, a journey. They learn something or something changes in that character,” Moore says. “It was tough to build a nice comedic story with a lot of heart around (Fix-it-Felix).”
The flick features appearances by 190 characters and the voice talents of some of Hollywood’s biggest names:
Featuring cameos by Sonic the Hedgehog’s Doctor Eggman, Street Fighter’s Chun-Li and even Paddles 1 and 2 from Pong, the film also includes original characters voiced by John C. Reilly, Sarah Silverman, Jane Lynch and Alan Tudyk.
While working with everyone has been a treat for Moore, he was particularly pleased to have Reilly on board as the title character of Wreck-It Ralph.
Reilly, who was nominated for an Oscar for his work in Chicago, was so invested with his role that he even asked Moore to meet with the animators who created his character.
“(Reilly) was so hands on and so instrumental in fleshing out who Ralph is and what he’s like. Every character he plays feels like a real human being. You really care about his characters and you want them to achieve what it is that they want and desire.” Read more…
Bringing a corpse back to life is often (if not always) extremely creepy. But in Tim Burton’s new film Frankenweenie, resurrection is just as cute and endearing when it involves a boy and his everlasting love for his dog.
Set in the fictional town of New Holland, Victor Frankenstein (voiced by Charlie Tahan) is a bright and curious boy who doesn’t have many friends. Spending much of his time cooped up in the attic doing science experiments, the only companion he has is his beloved dog Sparky.
Together, the two are inseparable. So much so, that Victor’s caring parents (voiced by Martin Short and Catherine O’Hara) convince him to make friends and try different things.
Everything changes when Sparky dies unexpectedly after an accident. Trying to deal with his grief in science class, Victor is suddenly inspired when his eccentric teacher Mr. Rzykruski (Martin Landau) shows how a dead frog’s limbs still work when electrocuted. Motivated, Victor rushes back home to devise a plan to bring his dog back to life.
When the plan works and Sparky lives, Victor tries to keep his resurrected pet a secret. But when Sparky gets out, havoc breaks and it’s up to Victor to save the day.
Things I loved:
It just wouldn’t be a Tim Burton film without some quirky characters, and with their bulging eyes and oversized heads, these ones are especially so. Some favourites that come to mind are Victor’s classmates, Edgar (Atticus Shaffer) and Weird Girl (also voiced by Catherine O’Hara), who try to tamper with his scientific discovery.
Winona Ryder on the other hand, seems to play the sanest character on the bill as Elsa Van Helsing. She holds the most sympathy for Victor during his loss, but is way too distracted dealing with her tyrant uncle, who just so happens to be the town mayor (also voiced by Martin Short).
But the most interesting character in the movie is none other than science teacher Mr. Rzykruski. Sounding like a European Dracula, he steals the show, applying strange and unsettling teaching methods to his class.
The Special Effects
I’m not a big fan of 3D because I find it hardly ever works. But coupled with the film’s beautiful set designs and art direction, Frankenweenie is worth seeing in another dimension.
Despite being in black and white to pay homage to Old Hollywood, this film never ceases to amaze me. While it’s a stop-motion animation, at times the scenes are so real you can almost feel the sweat dripping from the characters’ faces.
Skrillex is joining in on the magic of Disney.
Announced on Thursday during Comic-Con, director Rich Moore announced that Skrillex will be writing music for his upcoming Disney animation film ‘Wreck-It-Ralph.’
Calling the DJ “one of my favourite performers.” Moore also gave attendees a 10-minute preview of the film, which is based on vintage video games and includes characters from Super Mario Bros., Pac-Man, Sonic the Hedgehog and Mortal Kombat. John C. Reilly, Sarah Silverman and Jane Lynch are just some of the actors providing voices for the animated characters.
While Skrillex hasn’t revealed what the songs will sound like for ‘Wreck-It-Ralph’, the dubstep artist will also be composing material for upcoming film Spring Breakers, which stars Selena Gomez, James Franco and Vanessa Hudgens.
But don’t expect to get your headbanging on in the theatre. At the time of the announcement, he tweeted, “it’s more or less traditional scoring…dont expect dance floor bangers!”
While Disney and Skrillex seem like odd pairing, I can’t help but be excited. It’ll be interesting to see what he comes up with.
It’s surprising to think that a dance background would be of any use to an actor playing a cartoon character. However, The Adventures of Tin Tin is so realistic it’s goes far beyond the limits of the word “animation.”
After seeing TinTin, it’s pretty obvious Steven Spielberg and Peter Jackson once again raised the bar for digital realism. In this interview, Jaime Bell explains how his abilities as a dancer helped enhance his computerized performance.
He may be out of her league in a movie, but Jay Baruchel is definitely in the league of young, successful actors. He’s worked with Clint Eastwood in the multi Oscar-winning “Million Dollar Baby” and shared scenes with fellow Canadian Funnymen Seth Rogen and Michael Cera — and those are only three of his nearly 30 acting credits.
Earlier this year, Baruchel proved that a 5 can date a 10 in the comedy vehicle “She’s Out of My League.” Now, he has the No. 1 movie at the box office with “How to Train Your Dragon,” an animated 3-D movie he co-stars with a CGI fire-blower.
While he’s already accomplished a lot this year, let alone throughout his acting career, Baruchel hasn’t reached his ultimate goal — one that doesn’t involve comedy. The 27 year old hopes to direct horror films.
Although “Dragons” is far from a gory horror flick, Baruchel still had a blast making the animated movie. In fact, his character Hiccup is one of the closest characters to himself that he’s ever played. Even his mother was blown away by their similarities.
Entertainment company The Machine Management is requesting $285,000 from Michael Jackson’s estate, claiming the late singer hired them to develop commercial relationships in the animation world, reports TMZ. He was reportedly looking to create a Michael Jackson film label to do original films.
Howard Weitzman, the estate’s lawyer, says he is mulling the claim over.
The series is set in the confines of the International Secret Intelligence Service (ISIS), a spy agency where espionage and global crises are merely opportunities for its highly trained employees to confuse, undermine, betray and royally screw each other.
Sterling Archer (H. Jon Benjamin), the protagonist of the series, must juggle his numerous romantic liaisons, his ex-girlfriend/fellow agent, Lana Kane (Aisha Tyler), the jealousy of ISIS comptroller, Cyril Figgis (Chris Parnell), and his mother, Malory Archer (Jessica Walter).
Nintendo is giving us all a treat.
Flipnote Studio, a free download application for the DSi is currently available (again, for free) from the Nintendo DSi Shop. This application gives users the ability to create quick simple animations, or highly detailed cartoons in a similar fashion to old school notepad flipping.
Utilizing a set of simple (yet extremely useful) tools anyone, and I mean anyone, can create an animation of their own with ease. Amateur animators can then register on Hatena’s website, upload their animations, and even download other users animations and then edit them to their own taste. Flipnote animations may also be shared through the DSi’s local wireless feature as well as saved onto a SD card. Read more…
2006 was hardly what you’d call a good year for animation. Even though 16 animated features were released between the beginning of last January and December 31, only six of them could be considered successful and only half of those were any good. Meta review site Rotten Tomatoes, when it released its annual Golden Tomato awards recently, only gave Cars, the year’s best-reviewed (and in the eyes of this writer, mediocre) release, an adjusted score of 71%, while James Bond redux Casino Royale was awarded best wide release. For three years in a row, animated films (Wallace and Gromit: Curse of Were-Rabbit, The Incredibles, and Finding Nemo) had won the coveted best-reviewed prize.
It’d be nice to think Hollywood can learn a lesson from last year’s glut of CG, but so far we’ve seen Happily N’Ever After, the latest dreck from the Weinstein Company (which was responsible for Hoodwinked and Doogal), and the spiritless Arthur and the Invisibles, from the normally imaginative Luc Besson. Future months will bring Surf’s Up, a film that would like to convince us penguins invented surfing, and a Hollywood-backed, foreign-animated (to save money) CG production of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles.
And so, in the spirit of both the awards season and the recent holiday season, we here at andPOP decided to put together a list of 12 days of lessons for the animation industry. To have any insight into last year’s crop, of course, one needs to look at the movies released, their budgets (which doesn’t include the $40+ million typically spent on advertising), and what they’ve made (so far):
Hoodwinked (December 16 last year): Budget – $15 million; Gross – $51 million ($100 million worldwide)
Curious George (February 10): Budget – $50 million; Gross – $58 million ($69 million worldwide)
Doogal (February 24): Budget – Not released (probably around $15 – $20 million); Gross – $7 million ($26 million worldwide)
Ice Age – The Meltdown (March 31): Budget – $80 million; Gross – $195 million ($647 million worldwide)
The Wild (April 14): Budget – $80 million; Gross – $37 million ($96 million worldwide)
Over the Hedge (May 19): Budget – Not released (probably around $80 million); Gross – $155 million ($331 million worldwide)
Cars (June 9): Budget – $120 million; Gross – $244 million ($461 million worldwide)
Monster House (July 21): Budget – $75 million; Gross – $73 million ($135 million worldwide)
The Ant Bully (July 28): Budget – $50 million; Gross – $28 million ($54 million worldwide)
Barnyard (August 4): Budget – $51 million; Gross – $72 million ($105 million worldwide)
Everyone’s Hero (September 15): Budget – Not released (probably around $30 million); Gross – $15 million (domestic and worldwide)
Open Season (September 29): Budget – $85 million; Gross – $84 million ($183 million worldwide)
Flushed Away (November 3): Budget – $149 million; Gross – $62 million ($155 million worldwide)
Happy Feet (November 17): Budget – $100 million; Gross (so far) – $186 million ($327 million worldwide)
For the purposes of this story, I didn’t include independent productions like A Scanner Darkly or the French import Renaissance. Now, what can we surmise from this?
1. The audience still exists. The 14 movies combined cost $985 million and grossed $1.267 billion – an average cost of $70 million, and $90.5 million in domestic grosses each. When worldwide grosses are taken into account, the films grossed $2.7 billion, an average of almost $193 million each (with a profit – pre-TV, DVD, and merchandising sales – of $123 million each. Minus advertising, of course). None too shabby, especially when you consider that only four of those movies grossed more than $100 million in North America and only three others were considered legitimate hits. And that most of them suck.
2. They can only stretch so far. Remove those four hits – Cars, Ice Age 2, Over the Hedge, and Happy Feet – and the nine remaining movies grossed only $487 million total domestically and $938 million worldwide, or an average of almost $94 million worldwide each. Which means an average profit of only $24 million, minus advertising. Oops.
3. Let the artists be artists. Sometimes – not always, but sometimes – audiences can recognize crap when they see it. Cars and Happy Feet both had minimal interference between executives and creators (in the case of Pixar, of course, the executives are the creators), and I think this was reflected in their numbers. Flushed Away might have done better had the friction between its studios, Aardman (which produced the movie) and DreamWorks (which financed it) not caused DreamWorks to underadvertise the movie the way they did. The movie might also have cost less than its reported production costs of $150 million (the average DreamWorks movie costs $75 million, and the average Aardman film $30) and its $60 million domestic gross would have placated DreamWorks CEO Jeffrey Katzenberg and co. just fine.
4. The technique doesn’t matter. A couple of years ago studio thinking went like this: everything by Pixar and DreamWorks/PDI (and even material like Nickelodeon’s Jimmy Neutron and The Polar Express) was a hit, therefore it was because of the CG animation. This year many, many pieces of underperforming CG animation were released, and I’m not even talking about the underadvertised Wild or the low-budget Doogal. I’m referring to movies like Open Season, Ant Bully, Monster House, and Flushed Away, and that’s not counting the acknowledged underperformance of both Cars and Over the Hedge. It’s not the animation. Get over it.
5. You don’t have to break the $100 million mark to turn a profit. Two of this year’s hits whose names haven’t been thrown around much are Hoodwinked and Curious George. I can’t vouch for Hoodwinked, but Curious George worked just fine for what it was, and Universal allocated its budget accordingly. Both were aimed at modest audiences and became modest hits. Same goes for Barnyard, actually. You don’t have to break the $100 million barrier before you’ve released a movie.
6. Don’t create product for product’s sake. And here’s the flip side. Audiences – at least, I’d like to give them this credit – can tell when a given movie was born at a marketing meeting. This was the case for Curious George, The Wild, Ant Bully, and Open Season, to name four. Open Season especially had a lot of talented artists working on it (it was directed by Roger Allers, whose best-known work is an obscure 1994 Disney release, The Lion King), as did Ant Bully. And you know what? I think audiences can tell. 90% or more of the artists involved knew they were working on product (a few wrote as such on their blogs). There was no passion. And you can tell in the finished “films.”
7. It’s the story, stupid. Animators have been bemoaning this one for years. The Ant Bully started because an executive at Warners read a kids book and thought it’d be a good movie. Same thing happened with Shrek (proof that if you throw enough crap at the wall, some of it will stick). The Wild was inspired by a painting, Open Season a cartoonist’s idle doodlings. Instead of starting with toys, or random ideas, filmmakers need to start with stories. Most animators know that. Their bankrollers don’t. Maybe this season can help.
8. Sequels can work – if they’re done right. As Ice Age 2 (and live-action releases like Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man’s Chest and Casino Royale) proves, sequels can be among the most financially successful releases for a studio. However, put the same time and effort into the sequel that you put into the first movie. That’s the difference between Toy Story 2 and Shrek 2 and everything Disney’s ever released straight to video.
9. Enough with the talking animals. We get it. Anthropomorphized critters are funny. In case you forgot though, they don’t always have to be the heroes. They rarely were in Disney movies (Lady and the Tramp, Robin Hood, The Fox and the Hound, Oliver and Company and The Lion King were released farther apart than you might think), and they weren’t in Cars, The Polar Express, or The Incredibles. If there’s a reason they’re the main characters, fine – I had nothing against the ants in Antz or A Bug’s Life, and probably wouldn’t if another good idea for an ant movie came along, nor do I object to the heroes of Flushed Away or Happy Feet. But don’t have anthropomorphisized characters just because they’re easier to merchandise. Have them because they’re in service of a good story.
10. Don’t remake something everyone and their children can still remember. The ants in The Ant Bully looked exactly like the ants in Antz. The Wild was basically Madagascar (why Madagascar was such a huge hit is still something I’m trying to figure out). Barnyard was The Lion King. Open Season was several, much more entertaining, Bugs Bunny cartoons. Heck, even Cars was Doc Hollywood, and Over The Hedge followed the blueprint established by every other DreamWorks film to date. Audiences can tell. Not always, but most times, they can. If you want to remake a story that someone did more than twenty years ago (A Bug’s Life was The Magnificent Seven and Antz was any number of Woody Allen movies) go right ahead, but don’t do something that’s still fresh in our minds.
11. Star voices have little to do with it. With a cast of luminaries including Julia Roberts, Meryl Streep, Paul Giamatti, and Nicholas Cage, Ant Bully had one of the greatest casts of any film this year. Did it show in the box office? Not a penny. Doogal had Jon Stewart. The Wild had Kiefer Sutherland. I doubt Queen Latifah’s addition to the Ice Age cast brought it any more bucks, and I doubt anyone watching Over The Hedge cared that Gary Shandling (who had the largest role) isn’t as big a star as Steve Carell or Bruce Willis. Occasionally films will make big bucks because of a big-name cast (Aladdin, Shark Tale). But at least Aladdin came after The Little Mermaid and Beauty & The Beast, and Shark Tale had an interesting enough concept for Will Smith, Renee Zellweger, Jack Black, Robert De Niro, Martin Scorcese, and Angelina Jolie to be a draw once the audiences’ interest had been engaged.
12. Have a good advertising campaign. This is quite possibly the most important. There’s a difference between spending $40 million to simply create awareness and saturate the market (everyone knew Eragon came out, but nobody wanted to see it) and spending $40 million to actually make people like the movie are two different things. The fact is, the advertising campaign’s one of the most important parts of the film, and it needs to be taken into consideration as early as possible. It’s the difference between the grosses for The Iron Giant and The Incredibles, even though both are of relatively equal quality and share the same director. Flushed Away and Happy Feet both saturated the market with their ads, but Flushed Away didn’t look like anything worth seeing – it was about a rat, it involved a toilet, and the slugs looked annoying. Happy Feet, by contrast, emphasized a cute penguin, Robin Williams, and great dancing. Nothing about overfishing.
There is hope. Producers recently pulled the plug on Cat Tale, another CG release that would have been about a cat, Rover, who grew up in Dogtown and returns to Cat Town to find his roots. 2007 will probably be full of backwash from the recent greenlight-happy days of the industry, but after that things should start to clear up.
And there you have it, 2006′s twelve days of lessons for the animation industry.