Sunday, December 28, 2008

Imagine Exploiting John Lennon

This is just horrible. The timber of the voice is right but the cadence and diction are nothing like John. It saddens me to think John is being used against his will. People,(Yoko), are now literally putting words in his mouth, something he fought so hard against. I wonder what he would have to say if he were alive today.

Saturday, December 27, 2008

Interpreting Krazy Kat

The original 1918 strip used for the Spitting Image Test below, (CLICK ON IMAGE TO ENLARGE)

A fatter Krazy from the 40's in color.

The test from Spitting Image Productions

Over the holiday season Cartoon Brew posted a test done in 1996 by Spitting Image Productions for King Features Syndicate. The test was done to see if King Features could create new interest in one of their most eccentric and highly regarded properties: “Krazy Kat” by George Herriman.

Krazy was animated for the silent screen during its earliest appearances as a comic strip around 1914. But the treatment was the same as any silent animated characters at the time and never tried to capture the strips idiosyncrasies. Later in the 60’s, almost twenty years after the strip had stopped and fallen into oblivion, another attempt was made to revise interest with a new animated series with sound and color. The voice casting and limited animation satisfied no one, especially anyone with any familiarity with the strip.

Even as a comic strip cartoon Krazy was an acquired taste and would have been dropped had it not been championed by William Randolph Hearst who owned the paper. So great was Hearst’s admiration that he gave Herriman a guaranteed life time promise that Krazy would always have a home in his paper.

This long term agreement for the life span of Krazy began around 1913 and ended in 1944 with the death of Herriman. The 31 year run saw an evolution in style affecting not only the characters appearance but also the formatting and a transition to color. The early prose of K.K. had a running narrative that was lyrical and poetic. This was dropped during the later strips and became limited to the love triangle of Pup, Kat, and Mouse most associate with today.

So which Krazy is Krazy? The Kat from the 20’s is leaner and has a finer line quality than the Kat from the 40’s with its scratchier loose and thick strokes caused by Herriman’s increasing arthritics and bad health. Add to this the phantasmagorical backgrounds of Coconino County which morphed from panel to panel turning day into night and back again during the same action and conversation.

Although faithful to the original strip this test minimizes the transitional landscapes, wisely going with cuts, and prettifies the designs over what Herriman conceived. The premise comes from a 1918 strip but uses a 1940's Kat. Perhaps stop-motion wasn’t the best choice because it couldn’t carry the graphic nature so essential to the strip. Yet you can't argue the fine animation. The narrative is perhaps the weakest part of this presentation being far too modern and lacking the poetic flavor of the original. Unlike other comic characters like Popeye and Charlie Brown, Krazy Kat has proven to be too unique a vision to bring to the screen so far.

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Baby Rose Marie

The cast of "The Dick Van Dyke Show": Mary Tyler Moore, Dick Van Dyke, Morey Amsterdam, and Rose Marie making devil horns.

I have always loved "The Dick Van Dyke Show" created by Carl Reiner. I still think the character Laura Petrie, (Mary Tyler Moore), is incredibly sexy and laugh at the same stuff I've seen hundreds of times before. But I've learned something about the actress who played tough aggressive Sally Rodgers that I didn't know. Sally was played by child star Baby Rose Marie. Yup, check out this amazing YouTube performance and see what a seasoned trooper this gal really was.

Watch "The Dick Van Dyke Show" here:

Monday, December 22, 2008

Merry Christmas!

I saw this on Cartoon Brew and couldn't resist. Of course that's Ward Kimball on the trombone and Frank Thomas on piano. Merry Christmas!

Friday, December 19, 2008


Most books on animation including Disney animators Frank Thomas and Ollie Johnston’s, “The Illusion of Life” warn against drawing mirrored poses or having the same timing on body gestures that echo each other. The term is called ‘Twinning' and the argument is that asymmetry is more natural. Perhaps this is true in a still image to prevent stiffness and to give interest, but I find it happening in live performances again and again. I also recall ‘twinning’ in Disney’s “The Wind in the Willows” segment where Mr. Toad goes car crazy. Now John Kricfalusi has posted some images from Disney’s “Song of the South” that sure look like ‘twinning’ to me. I guess when you make the rules you can break them too.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

3D Craze Again...

There seems to be a renewed interest in stereoscopic movies these days. The first projected stereoscopic images were done by Charles d'Almeida in 1858 using the red and green lens anaglyphic method. Another form of stereo projection was the use of polarized lights created by John Anderton in 1891. These two methods became the standard formats for all stereoscopic films during the first 3D boom in the fifty's. Hollywood turned to 3D because of the increasing sales of television sets and the threat of audiences staying home. Will this new wave of stereoscopic movies pull crowds into theaters and away from renting films on DVD?

Here is a sample of Warner Bros. one and only attempt to capitalize on the 3D craze. "Lumber Jack-Rabbit" hit theaters in 1954 just as the craze was dying. Although we can't watch it in the 3D format, you can get a sense of what was intended by some of the exaggerated set pieces.

Friday, December 05, 2008

Joe Myers

Once upon a time in a small seeping pustule on the buttock of the universe there lived five little boys who wanted to make a lot of noise. They were bothers of brothers who had once formed a band called The Children. Now two of the brothers were very good and too good to stay in the small seeping pustule. They were smart enough to get out and do something worthwhile.

I say all this as a way of introducing my old band mate Joe Myers who sent me an email not too long ago. Joe who was and is a phenomenal guitarist has rightfully gained some recognition in Phoenix Arizona as a musician/singer/songwriter. he has several albums of original music with his equally talented brother, (my other band mate Matthew), drumming on some of the tracks. He has also written music for the film "Flowers of Madison"

Go here to listen to some of his tunes, ( I love "River To River" myself):

And go here to buy his music:

Happy Holidays Joe & Matte!

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Good Story Telling

Mark Kennedy has a great post at his blog Temple of the Seven Camels about the opening scene of Orson Welles's "Touch of Evil". This shot is most famous for being the longest single take but Mark gives good insight as to why the decision was made to shoot it this way. Part of that article is below. The whole article can be found by clicking on the title or going here:

This is the scene the way Welles wanted it without title and credits superimposed over it.

If you picture in your mind this scene full of different shots cut together, you'll realize that if it were assembled that way, you would quickly lose track of which car was the one with the bomb in it. Even if you only showed one car the whole time, I still think that if you did it all in cuts it would be confusing and not nearly as powerful. You would never be sure if, after a cut, you were looking at the same car as the one that we saw at the opening. When it's all one shot, you never lose track of where the car is in relation to the camera and our characters. You never have the audience getting distracted by trying to figure out which car is the one we're supposed to be following. The viewer can therefore focus on the characters and the story being told.

Sunday, November 09, 2008

Collect Them All!

Got more dough than you know what to do with? Why not buy these nifty art pieces from The Aquarium Cartoon Art Gift Shop? Sculptures by James Cauty.

Thursday, November 06, 2008

3D Brass

Another stereoscopic free-view style painting. Click on image to enlarge.

Monday, November 03, 2008

Hyungkoo Lee

Artist Hyungkoo Lee has made these cool bone structure sculptures of famous cartoon characters out of aluminum and resin.

Donald Duck
Huey, Dewy, and Louie
Road Runner
Bugs Bunny

Saturday, October 25, 2008


Time to get back to art with another of my free-view stereoscopic paintings. Ya gotta cross yer eyes and focus on the image in the middle.

Click on image to enlarge.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Fear(s) of the Dark

I mentioned this last Halloween. I hope it plays somewhere near. See The trailer at the link above.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

The Alvin Show

Back in the 60's "The Alvin Show" premiered on prime time television. It was an example of limited animation that utilized modern design made popular by UPA earlier in the 50's. Format Films and creator Ross Bagdasarian,(David Seville and the Chipmunks), filled the series with fun designs and strong character situations that lifted the show above it's small budget. "The Alvin Show" also features great comic songs by Ross that were available as novelty records. It was a great use of cross marketing.

Check out the opening to see the style of the show:

And see some of the songs here:

Sustainable Freedom

Here's something a little different. My brother sent this to me and I was very impressed. Hope you have a high speed connection.

If you can't see the movie, click the title or go here:
Sustainable Freedom

Monday, October 20, 2008

Tom Terrific

Speaking of Gene Deitch,(see last post), look what I found on YouTube. I love Mighty Manfred the Wonder Dog. The lip smacking is still funny and says volumes about who Manfred is. I don't know for certain but the animation of Tom watching TV may be Jim Tyers. It's got his 'shrink take' style and he did work on the series.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Gene Deitch

Tom Teriffic

I stumbled across the name Gene Deitch on an information sharing site and wondered if it was the director/animator who turned Terrytoons into the modern style of UPA type animation during the fifties. This is what I wrote and the response I received:


Are you the animation director Gene Deitch? If so, I loved "Tom Teriffic" as a kid and hope it's made available again one day. I thought Jim Tyer was a great fit for that show and his animation seemed well suited for an amorphous character.

Hope you are well,



yes,Joel,it's me. Thanks for your good words! I'm on an iPhone out in the countryside,so can only reply with a few words. Thanks for remembering Tom Terrific! Gene


Cool huh! What makes this particularly interesting to me is that since 1961, Deitch has resided with his wife, Zdenka, in Prague.

Now I see Gene Deitch will be the Guest of Honor at the 3rd annual San Francisco International Animation Festival (SFIAF), a four-day event from November 13th through 16th at Landmark’s Embarcadero Center Cinema.

Go see him if you can.

Monday, September 08, 2008

William Stout

Okay I admit I live in a cave. I’m sure everybody has known about William Stout for years. But incase you are a cave-dweller like myself and don’t know this guy, you are in luck.

William Stout is a chameleon artist who has mastered a plethora of styles and works in a multitude of markets. He has done comics, movie posters, film art direction, storyboards and book illustrations. His styles encapsulate the best of artists like Arthur Rackham, Charles R. Knight, N.C. Wyeth and more contemporaries such as Wally Wood, Jack Kirby, Robert Crumb, and Frank Frazetta.

The guy is just incredible. Take a look at this portion of a cover for the “Comics Journal” he did. My scanner wouldn’t allow me to get the whole thing, (click on image to enlarge), but you can tell the guys is a monster. He has deservedly worked with pioneers like George Lukas, Steven Spielberg, Disney Studios, etc. etc. etc.

Sunday, September 07, 2008

Everyone's a Critic

Many leading authorities on animation have written about the limitations of computer animation and the superiority of traditional drawn animation. If you are caught up in the media of a movie it tells me there is something wrong with the story.

I’ve seen movies with budgetary constraints that have transcended their limitations and have become classics because of their entertainment value and not the media they were executed in.

Story has proven to be everything. If traditional drawn animation were the criteria that determine the validity of good animation we wouldn’t have had the idiotic proclamation: drawn animation is dead and the long string of poorly received films which prompted the opinion.

The awful truth is animation in any form is hard to pull off. It is an art and art is subjective. You may not like Picasso or you might think he is a genius. Animation is a collective endeavor done by individual artists pooling their talents to form a work that will connect emotionally and aesthetically with a broad range of people with different life styles, political beliefs and religious convictions. Sound like a hard thing to accomplish?

The complaints of floaty, weightless, plastic characters that are disconnected with their environments are ludicrous when you examine the sliding feet on walk cycles and other glaring violations of physics seen in a majority of drawn animation from top leading studios. It tells me there is something deeper with the complaints than the fact it was computer animated.

I’ve seen traditional drawn animated films that were expertly drawn with beautiful attention to detail and design that have tanked. Not because they were drawn but because the story was bad. The characters were insincere and unbelievable. They reacted wrong in situations and people just couldn’t connect.

I’m not a snob for any media. I have done drawn, stop-motion, and computer animation and believe the strength and magic of animation is not about what style or technique you employ. It is story and characters that prove the success of animation. It is an art form and art is subjective.

Tuesday, September 02, 2008

Thief and Cobbler Recobbled

The link above,(or clicking on the title), will take you to Smashing Telly and their posting of Richard Williams "The Thief and the Cobbler" recobbled. This is a recreation of the way Williams originally intended the film with NO SONGS and no Johnathon Winters babbling through the entire film. This recreation has some astounding perspective animation in it which is all the more impressive considering it was done in 1967 before computers were a viable alternative.

This special fan edit of The Thief and the Cobbler reconstructed by Garrett Gilchrist of Orange Cow Productions combines the fabled uncut work print with other footage from the released versions, as well as other rare materials to create the most complete film - not to mention the most faithful to the original vision.

UPDATE: The above video by Smashing Telly has been removed.  A new one is here: 

Sunday, August 31, 2008

Multi Plane Camera

I couldn't resist posting this piece of Unka Walt explaining the Multi Plane Camera. It's just great stuff.

Friday, August 29, 2008

Seated Nude 3D

Yet another free-view stereoscopic life drawing.

Click image to enlarge.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Drawing the Line

Here's another stereoscopic free-view style life drawing for all you cross-eyed kiddies out there.

Click on image to enlarge

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Light Against Dark, or Hello Kitty

Light against dark. This is a mantra I end up chanting every time I paint. My Mother first tried to convey this concept to me as a boy watching her paint. Our styles differ quite a bit with her loose strokes and confident brush work. Mine is more guarded, trying to hide my brush strokes and push toward a photo real quality.

This post shows the various progressions of my oil painting:"Pink Pussycat". I wanted to do something a little disturbing so I chose my favorite theme of anthropomorphic characters. This time with a twist on childhood memories done in a mature realistic manner that I hope is slightly sinister.

I did a photo collage grafting Smokey the kittens head onto a dolls body as my guide. I sketched the image onto a canvas using burnt umber and let that dry. You can see the under sketch through my first ‘blocking in’ of color. I toned the whole surface going from lightest to dark.

Next came more defining of shadows and highlights. I tried to knock down any brush strokes with a round brush to keep them soft and defuse.

Lastly I added the details defining ribbons and flowers. The whiskers and signature finished it off.

Incidentally, my wife hates this picture. She says it's wrong and it really bothers her that a grown adult male should paint a kitty in a pink dress. I’m a little thrilled that one of my paintings can cause such a strong response. Maybe I shouldn’t be. (click on images to enlarge)

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Night on a Bare Mountain

Alex Alexeieff and Claire Parker made this 1933 version of "Night on a Bare Mountain" before Disney's 1940 version in "Fantasia".

This is a little hard to watch because of the image degradation and size but you can still make out the wonderful dimensionality of some of the figures as they morph and rotate. This is quite an accomplishment considering their method of generating these images was using frames with hundreds of pins pushed through a screen. The depth of the pins determined how much light or shadow was created in the overall image. It appears to me that some of these images were superimposed or matted into a model village. I also think the scarecrow flapping in the breeze was life action but the metamorphose is animation.

Another rare treat I've read about and wanted to see for years. Isn't YouTube great?

Saturday, August 16, 2008

Advance Promo: Coraline


The link above,(or clicking on the title), will take you to Five videos about LAIKA studios stereoscopic stop-motion feature "Coraline" that will be released in 2009. Looking good!

Self Indulgence

I did a little study into my family background and found the Brinkerhoff’s have quite an illustrious presence. Constance, Fidelity, and Integrity proclaim our Family Crest, (in Latin even!). We Brinkerhoff’s hopped off the boat from Holland around 1641, but the family crest reads 1307. I had known about the Brinkerhoff Piano and the Brinkerhoff barbed-wire, (to keep renegade pianos from roaming), for some time. Now I find not only do we have streets named after us, we are also practiced in other arts such as syndicated comics, inventing, novel writing, Post Master General, oil drilling, (are these arts?), music, painting, and medicine. Of course it would be a Brinkerhoff that came up with a rectal spectrum.

UPDATE:  Oh, we also have a Ridge worth fighting over....

Brinkerhoff Family Crest (spelled Brinckerhoffe)

Brinkerhoff Street in Plattsburgh, New York.

Brinkerhoff Piano

Brinkerhoff Barbed wire

The history of Brinkerhoff Drilling is long and illustrious. Zach Brinkerhoff Jr. along with his father Zach Senior, started Brinkerhoff Drilling in 1940 in the Illinois Basin with 3 rigs.

Brinkerhoff Author

Brinkerhoff Metal Band

Post Master General

Little Mary Mixup by R.M. Brinkerhoff

Brinkerhoff Invention

Brinkerhoff Health Restoritive

Brinkerhoff Amputation Saw

Brinkerhoff Rectal Spectrum

Saturday, July 12, 2008

David Derrick

I found a new blog by David Derrick. Check it out:

Besides sculpting David has worked as an artist in the animation Industry, primarily at DreamWorks Feature Animation. He is also a published author/illustrator. Prior to his career as an artist David studied fine art at the University of Utah and furthered his education at California Institute of the Arts (CALARTS). As a student his films were very successful garnering many awards including a student Emmy Award.

Study by David Derrick

Tuesday, July 08, 2008

Sunday, July 06, 2008

Buster Keaton

Named Buster as a child by family friend Harry Houdini after witnessing the boy fall down a flight of stairs, Keaton went on to do some of the most physical and dangerous comedy in motion pictures. Jackie Chan has often sited Keaton as his hero and inspiration. Chuck Jones liberally took from Keaton to base his animated films.

You can find many of Keaton's films available on YouTube. Buster wrote, directed and starred in many of his films and developed technical innovations that are still being used today.

Saturday, July 05, 2008

House on the Rock

One of the great things about being an animator is working with other animators. Being a rather special breed, the range of topics discussed and life experiences are all over the place. Just recently my buddy Rob mentioned a place he had visited in Wisconsin called The House on the Rock that has sparked my interest. His description sounded like something from one of my fever dreams.

I’ve taken the over-view and photos from their website to give you a taste, but you should really visit the site to see the scope of this thing:

Now I have to think of a reason to go to Wisconsin so I can see it myself.

The House on the Rock is the grand vision of Alex Jordan, who believed that sights and sounds were the most effective means of stimulating the senses. He wanted guests to question his creation, to come to their own conclusions and to turn his world of dreams into their own. The Attraction has room after room of some of the world's most unique and eclectic collections which has amazed thousands of visitors each year.

Sunday, June 29, 2008

Whetting My Animation Appetite

When Richard Williams book "Animator's Survival Kit" came out I said I wished I would have had it thirty years ago. Now this new one has got me waiting like a kid for Christmas to come.

Book Description
Character Animation Crash Course! is a veritable Genie's lamp stuffed with everything the aspiring animator could wish for! Renowned animator Eric Goldberg's detailed text and drawings illuminate how to conceive characters "from the inside out" to create strong personalities. Classic animation techniques are analyzed and brought to life through this unique book and its accompanying CD that offers readers animated movie examples that show, in real time or frame-by-frame, the author's principles at work. Add to this Goldberg's discussions of classic cartoons and his witty, informative observations based on the wealth of knowledge he's gained during his 30-plus years in professional animation, and you have a tour-de-force guide to character animation with the classic touch.

From the Author
Foreword When I first started making films, books about character animation were rare, and most were written from the distant, historical perspective of an observer. Of the meager handful of books that actually discussed how to do animation, only two were really good: Walt Disney's Tips On Animation from the Disneyland Art Corner and the classic Advanced Animation by Preston Blair. In the half century since, many animation books have been written, but still few are considered indispensable to people interested in doing animation themselves. To that exclusive club we must add the book you now hold in your hand: Character Animation Crash Course. Among Eric's many achievements is the "Friend Like Me" sequence from Walt Disney Pictures' Aladdin, a chunk of pure cartoon magic so dense that it can be enjoyed two ways: at regular speed or one frame at a time... where every aspect of Eric's astonishing embellishments, caricature, and razor-sharp timing can be savored like fine wine. In this jam-packed book and CD Eric will show you the rules for getting the most out of your animation. If you learn them well, you'll be good. If you can internalize these rules to the point where you can call upon them without thinking, you'll be exceptional. And if you learn them as well as Eric, you might even be able to successfully break a few of these rules and add to cumulative knowledge of how to make pencil lines (or pixels, clay, stop-motion models, etc.) come to life. You might even become accomplished enough to write the next great animation book. Good thing the rest of us don't have to wait until then. We have this terrific book right now. Brad Bird -- Writer / Director, The Iron Giant, The Incredibles, Ratatouille

From the Inside Flap
"As Disney Animation great Ollie Johnston always told me, "It's not the tools that create great character animation, it's what you do with those tools." Eric's book is a terrific how-to that clearly explains the tools and the techniques for great animation in any medium. People always ask me, "How do I get started in animation?" Now I know the the Character Animation Crash Course book by Eric Goldberg!" John Lasseter - Chief Creative Officer, Walt Disney and Pixar Animation Studios
"Eric's book and CD are a first in the industry. They represent a one-of-a-kind bible for artists, teachers and fans of animation from one of the modern masters of the craft." Don Hahn - Producer, The Lion King, Beauty and the Beast

"I can't think of anyone more qualified to put together a book like this. Eric covers everything, from basic nuts and bolts to advanced technique in a clear, simple, entertaining way, just like his animation. This should be on the bookshelf of anyone who wants to know more about this elusive art form." Ron Clements - Director, The Little Mermaid, Aladdin, Hercules

About the Author
Eric Goldberg, a veteran director, designer, and animator, has worked extensively in Hollywood, New York, and London, creating feature films, commercials, title sequences, and television specials. He is equally at home with traditional hand-drawn animation and the most up-to-date computer animation, and has pioneered ground-breaking techniques in both worlds.

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Raymond Scott Documentary

My favorite mad scientist other than Nichola Tesla is musician/technician Raymond Scott. Carl Stalling used the Scott themes to great effect in the Warner Brothers Cartoons. Ray was also a father to electronic music and so much more.

Scott's son Stan Warnow is making a documentary about his father's life, and it looks wonderful. The Raymond Scott Documentary will be called 'On to Something'. Check out the trailer here:

Sunday, June 22, 2008

Stereoscopic Drawing

Awhile back I did a post on ViewMasters' intriguing series of stereoscopic drawings begun in the 50's. How were they accomplished? I still don't know specifically but I came across this devise called a 3DD, (three dimensional drawing device), built by Vladimir Tamari in 1973. He says the original was invented in Palestine in 1964. This makes it ten years after ViewMasters' series began. The drawing size of the 3DD is very small too which would limit the detail one could achieve.

I think I'm getting closer. But if anyone who actually worked at ViewMaster or knows someone who did would get a hold of me I would greatly appreciate it.