Thursday, December 23, 2010

"Une Vie de Chat" a new animated feature film

This looks interesting.   From France comes this new animated feature film "Une Vie de Chat"  (currently in release in French cinemas) , directed by Jean-Loup Felicioli  and Alain Gagnol.  

The film's website is here:   and the Facebook Page here: "Une Vie de Chat" on Facebook.

The trailer:

Synopsis of the film:

Un chat mène une double vie secrète : il passe ses journées avec Zoé, la fille d'un commissaire, mais la nuit il accompagne un voleur sur les toits de Paris. Alors que la mère de Zoé enquête sur les cambriolages nocturnes, un autre truand kidnappe la fillette...
A cat leads a secret double life:  he spends his days with Zoe, the daughter of a police commissioner, but at night he accompanies a thief on the rooftops of Paris.  While Zoe's mother investigates the burglaries at night,  another criminal kidnaps the girl ...

And just in time for Christmas comes this handsome image posted on the film's Facebook page:

Monday, December 20, 2010

Animation of Christmases Past

This Christmas greeting for CBS Television (from 1966) was designed by R.O. Blechman , animated by Willis Pyle.

(I have always loved the elegant minimalism and great sensitivity of this piece ... I had it on Super-8mm from Blackhawk Films in the late 70's .   I've been glad to notice that since I posted it to YouTube on Dec. 24, 2006 that it has received over 281,350 views to date.   So a few other people appreciate it too I guess.)

More Blechman:

This is from Blechman's Christmas special for PBS, "Simple Gifts" ... opening sequence designed by Maurice Sendak , animated by Ed Smith.

I wish this beautiful Christmas special were available on DVD . I don't know why PBS doesn't air it annually . '

The bits of it available on YouTube are not the best presentations , but unfortunately all that is available at the moment .

Christmas 1914 -

No Room at the Inn -

Here's Richard Williams wonderful (though much too short ) animated version of Charles Dicken's "A Christmas Carol" ---

This is another film that should be available in a restored version on DVD , but is only available on the internet.

A cel from "A Christmas Carol" that I own.   This was animated by Abe Levitow. Director Richard Williams graciously autographed it for me last time I saw him at the Disney Studio when he was there giving a lecture about animation.

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Headless Productions

Headless Productions is a small independent animation studio founded by Adrian Garcia, Alfredo Torres and Victor Maldonado,  based in Barcelona.

Show reel:

A teaser for their latest project "I'm A Monster"

This is a piece developed to give an idea of the mood and look of the film and the characters.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Mark Kausler's "It's The Cat" and "There Must Be Some Other Cat"

Recently when I attended the CTN Expo in Burbank I was really happy to run into my friend Mark Kausler who was selling original hand-inked cels from his brilliant film "It's the Cat" .  

I had sworn off collecting any more animation artwork , but seeing Mark run his wonderful film "It's the Cat" there at his table (on a portable DVD player)  and with those gorgeous hand-inked cels right there on the table I was overwhelmed and just had to have one.

This frame (from the title sequence) is the cel I purchased:

 (this photo doesn't do it justice ... )

The film "It's the Cat" is not currently available for purchase online,  but if you purchase an original cel   they will  include a bonus DVD of the film.

One of these handsome cels would make a great Christmas gift for any cartoon fan.  And these are likely the last of their kind since hardly anyone does hand-inked cels anymore .   AND purchasing one of these unique , one-of-a-kind pieces of animation art will help fund the completion of Mark's second cat film  , "There Must be Another Cat"  , which is finished through rough animation, but still needs to have the inking, painting , and photography finished.    Mark's producer,  Greg Ford, is chipping away at the task little by little ,  but by purchasing a cel you'll have a hand in making sure that "There Must Be Another Cat"  is completed sooner .

(and then we'll have more cels to collect in addition to another great cartoon to watch !  Yay !  See how this works ? )

I was really happy that Mark gave me a sneak preview of "There Must Be Another Cat"  at the CTN Expo .  He had the pencil test on a DVD and was very kind to let me see the pencil test.   It's another great example of pure cartoon joy brought to life by a great animator.

What you may not know is that the pencil test from the original "It's the Cat" film is posted on Mark's website.

Check it out:

It's The Cat - Pencil Test 

Friday, November 26, 2010

Announcing: "Walk Cycle Depot" blog

With a deep bow of acknowledgment to Jamaal Bradley's wonderful Pencil Test Depot , I have started a sub-section of Academy of Art Animation Notes devoted to collecting various Walk Cycles,  called  "Walk Cycle Depot".

I'll be posting walk cycles animated by pros and by students.

Here's an example of what you'll find there:

Max walk cycle from Cat's Don't Dance:

(I'm trying to post all Walk Cycles as Quicktime movies so it's possible to step through them frame-by-frame.   The embedded Quicktimes tend to load and play better in the CHROME browser or  FIREFOX browser.   If the playback is too choppy download them to your computer to view directly in Quicktime Player for better playback quality)

I'll try to update it frequently.   Check out the Walk Cycle Depot.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

"Jumping Through Hoops: The Animation Job Coach" by Tony White

At the recent CTN Expo in Burbank (great event , by the way) I was pleased to finally meet animator/author/teacher  Tony White face to face.

Among other interesting projects that Tony has in the works he has recently completed and released yet another book  titled "Jumping Through Hoops: The Animation Job Coach".

The book is a much needed guide for all those who want to get a first job in the animation industry.  It is also a valuable asset for all those who want to stay there once they have that all-important first job.     I read it cover-to- cover on my return flight home , and I highly recommend it to all students.    This is a very practical guide to preparing yourself for the modern animation industry and seeking a job once your animation training is completed.

(*Note: I will say that if I had a small quibble with the book it is to point out that the book needed more careful proofreading before publishing as there are a number of typographical errors,  but these in no way detract from the overall value of the wisdom contained in the covers of this book .  Just something that should be fixed in the second printing of the book.  Get the book. )

Friday, October 22, 2010

Inspiration: Toby Shelton's blog

I haven't really been keeping up with posting a lot of links this semester. Lots of good stuff out there on the web, but I've been preoccupied with other things. Sorry for the lull in posting.

Just in case you haven't discovered it for yourself yet I want to point everyone towards Toby Shelton's relatively new blog  "Stuff I Did (when I wasn't doing other Stuff)"

Check out the great examples of storyboards and model sheets on Shelton's blog:

(amazing selection of How To Train Your Dragon storyboards)

Drawing tips on things like hands (can never have enough of these reference sheets) -

Model sheets:

(click any image to enlarge)

The above images are just a small sampling to whet your appetite. Go check out Toby Shelton's blog . Add to your bookmarks. Check back often.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

The Thief & the Cobler - Layout tests and Pencil tests

Rare behind-the-scenes look at raw pencil tests and camera layout tests.

Pencil tests of Zig-Zag (and early version of Zig-Zag pencil test at the end by Art Babbitt) --

Same set of scenes in finished form:

NOCTURNA [English] Part 1 of 8

Part 1 of 8 . See it while you can.

Thursday, September 16, 2010


Another of our AAU Online instructors, the fabulous Jennifer Gwynne Oliver, has started up a blog for her Character Design & Drawing for Animation classes (ANM 364 and ANM 633).

Jennifer has already posted some great examples and will be updating it every few days, so bookmark it and check back often:


Sunday, September 5, 2010

"The Monkey and the Elephant" by Boris Maras

The Monkey and the Elephant by Boris Maras, Sheridan College 2010.

He animated this in 2 months.

From Boris Maras's blog:
"Keeping my film rough was a big decision. Amanda and I were both considering cleaning up and colouring our films, but we would have had to rush the animation so much and we really wanted to learn as much as we could about animation. Keeping them this way, I think we learned a lot about our limits and we have a way better idea for how approach a short film now.
The idea for my film was pretty different up until February, the characters were pretty much the same but the situation they were in was different. It was risky because I had to throw away the animation I had already done and around 25-30 layouts, but I think I made the right decision for what I want to pursue.
I started animating around the middle of February and animated up until our deadline of April 19th. It was the craziest 2 months of my life but I'm really happy with the amount that I learned during the process of making my film and hope I can make another one soon."

Thursday, September 2, 2010

"Slim Pickings, Fat Chances" by David de Rooij and Jelle Brunt

(cross-posting this from my other blog "Animation Grad Films" which showcases animated shorts made by students at various art schools around the world)

Slim Pickings Fat Chances is a student film by David de Rooij and Jelle Brunt from the Willem de Kooning Academy in the Netherlands.

Official film website:
Filmmaker website: Jelle Brunt
Filmmaker website: David de Rooij

Sunday, August 15, 2010

2010 Annecy shorts from the Gobelins School

Another great crop of student films from the Gobelins School in Paris , made for the 2010 Annecy Animation Festival . All are 1:00 minute or less . Shows that you can do a lot in one minute !

I love the fact that besides the solid animation and design work that these films put a great deal of emphasis on the cinematography . These films are built on a solid foundation of classical animation, but with a modern sensibility in terms of the camera work.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

British Animated Ads of the 80's

YouTube has a number of animated commercials by Richard Williams, Oscar Grillo, Richard Purdum, Eric Goldberg, and other luminaries of the British animation scene.

Also check out Garret Gilchrist's The Thief Archive channel on YouTube for more British commercials from the 70's and 80's.

Klacto Animation (Oscar Grillo and Ted Rockley) "Sinatra 20 Golden Greats" advert -

Klacto Animation (Oscar Grillo and Ted Rockley) "Heinz Baked Beans Lighthouse" ad.
Designed and directed by Oscar Grillo, Animated by Eric Goldberg, Backgrounds by Neil Cambell Ross.

Pizazz Pictures (Eric Goldberg) "Rolos" animated by Eric Goldberg -

Richard Willliams Animation . "Jovan Sex Appeal" ad , animated by Richard Williams, BGs by Rebecca Mills.

Richard Williams Animation. "Listerine" ad , animated (I think) by Russell Hall -

Richard Williams Animation . "Limara Perfume" ad. Not sure who animated. Maybe Eric Goldberg? -

Passion Pictures . "Cadbury Creme Eggs" advert. Animated by Chuck Gammage. -

Richard Purdum Animation . "Tate Gallery Liverpool - Modern Art" . Animated by Richard Purdum -

Saturday, June 26, 2010

Kaj Pindal : Laugh Lines

Laugh Lines is a film portrait of animator Kaj Pindal. He is seen at work creating zany cartoon characters, teaching students of animation, and at home enjoying another of his creations--a full-size streetcar that tours his backyard. The laughter in Pindal's life is evident in this delightful film biography.

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Palm Springs International ShortFest signal film by MAKE

Via CartoonBrew.

Minneapolis-based studio MAKE created this animated signal film for the forthcoming Palm Springs International ShortFest. Beautiful design and animation , with a well-crafted story told with very economical cutting in under a minute. (students take note) ---


MAKE Producer:
Danny Robashkin

Director/Lead Animator:
Andrew Chesworth

Animation Production Team:
Justin Weber
Aaron Quist
Alec Mueller
Jordan Hill
Ben Bury
Niklas Norman
Joe Kim

John Olive
Elise Langer
Nicholas Mrozinski

Steve Horner - Horner Music


Here's another piece by MAKE. A very timely PSA . And again , great animation and design all the way around , aside from the very timely message:

Saturday, June 12, 2010

Sylvain Chomet interview

Sylvain Chomet, director of Belleville Rendez-Vous and now The Illusionist. Photograph: Paul Cooper

Sylvain Chomet talks about his new film "The Illusionist" -

The biggest problem [in making the film] was finding the animators. Like the music-hall acts in the film, animators had become convinced by Hollywood that their time had passed.

"A lot of animators, basically people who can draw, got scared by these wankers from Disney saying that 2D animation is dead, that it was only going to be 3D and Pixar from now on. It is just typical shit by people in ties who don't know what they are talking about. Are they saying that Aardman is dead, too, then? I mean how stupid are these people? Saying 2D is dead is like saying that a car race is the future of the Tour de France."

"We had trouble because the fantastic animators we found had got really stressed because they thought after our film there was not going to be any 2D any more. Some were driving buses or retraining. People really had been made to believe that the end had come. The truth is that animation is always mixing things up: pen and paper, stop motion, puppets, 3D. Suddenly this bizarre competition has been created. What it is, one more time, is this American reflex to kill off the competition, to say that you can only do it one way and destroy everything else that went before. The whole society is like that. They destroy what they have to build something new. They end up with no roots to draw on, nothing to compare their work with to see if it is good or not. American culture is in real danger of starving itself to death. You just have to see what Hollywood is producing to see how narrow it is getting."

Friday, May 28, 2010

Sandro Cleuzo's blog

The brilliant animator Sandro Cleuzo has a great animation blog which you should definitely bookmark and check frequently.

Sandro is generously sharing his collection of Milt Kahl drawings , with a weekly "Milt Kahl Day" on his blog.

Some samples (click images to view larger) -

*as Sandro says about the above drawing:

"This particular drawing is just full of great things to study. Composition, staging, silhouette, design, appeal, you name it, it's there."
(And we could say that about almost any Milt Kahl drawing)

Wow, be sure to click on this Wart pose sheet from 'The Sword in the Stone' to view it larger. This is the stuff to print out and study . Put it on the walls around your drawing board to inspire you.

There is so much great stuff over on Sandro's blog. Check it out.

Storyboarding by Sherm Cohen

The ever-resourceful Sherm Cohen is posting a series on Storyboarding:

Check out Sherm's other videos:

Storyboarding Commentary Series

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

new trailer for "The Illusionist"


Official trailer and several additional clips, image captures from the movie, etc. Check it out.

The movie will be distributed in North America by Sony Classics.


A new trailer (Russian) for the upcoming Sylvain Chomet ("Triplets of Belleville") animated feature "The Illusionist" .

This looks absolutely beautiful.

The Illusionist trailer:

Translation (by "Niffiwan" ) of the inter-titles on the trailer:
In life, there are just a few things that are worth doing.
But sometimes the world is not ready to receive
that, which we are able to offer it.

This story tells of the journey of one man
which enabled him to keep his magical gift
and to rediscover for himself
what is worth doing for him in life.

From the director of that masterpiece of European animation
"The Triplets of Belleville", Sylvain Chomet.

Based on the screenplay of the legendary Jacques Tati.


"The Illusionist"


Saturday, March 13, 2010

Tribute to Disney/Pixar story artist JOE RANFT

Today (March 13, 2010) would have been Joe Ranft's 50th birthday. This tribute film was made by Joe's friend John Musker for the memorial service for Joe held at Pixar . John has graciously shared this touching tribute on YouTube to mark the occasion of Joe's birthday.

(expand to watch full screen)

By the way, on August 10, 2010 there is a new book coming out by John Canemaker called "Two Guys Named Joe" which will feature the art and life of Disney/Pixar story artists Joe Ranft and Joe Grant.


And since this is a blog of NOTES and INSPIRATION for my AAU students the pedagogue in me wants to point out to students that the tribute film above by the amazing Mr. Musker is a stellar example of what a Story Reel/Animatic should look like. So much is said with no dialogue and the simplest, most direct sketches.


Friday, March 12, 2010

Pete Docter on success in Animation: "Draw, draw, draw"

Pete Docter gives advice on succeeding in Animation:

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Rad Sechrist's "How To" blog

This is a great blog which ought to be on every animation student's blog roll -

Rad's How To

Rad Sechrist is a storyboard artist , currently working at Dreamworks Animation. His blog has some terrific tips on drawing for animation.

Rad also has combined his talents with several other animation artists on another how-to blog :

The Art Center - Sharing Ideas & Tips from Artist to Artist

He gives Tips on basic Storyboarding:

(click images to see larger)

How to Get Good FLOW into your rough drawings:

And many other fine tips for animation artists.

Check it out.


Saturday, February 20, 2010

Waking Sleeping Beauty trailer

(watch it full screen)

Even better , go watch the high-quality Quicktime version of the trailer here:

"Waking Sleeping Beauty is no fairytale. It is a story of clashing egos, out of control budgets, escalating tensions… and one of the most extraordinary creative periods in animation history. Director Don Hahn and producer Peter Schneider, key players at Walt Disney Studios Feature Animation department during the mid1980s, offer a behind-the-magic glimpse of the turbulent times the Animation Studio was going through and the staggering output of hits that followed over the next ten years. Artists polarized between the hungry young innovators and the old guard who refused to relinquish control, mounting tensions due to a string of box office flops, and warring studio heads create the backdrop for this fascinating story told with a unique and candid perspective from those that were there. Through interviews, internal memos, home movies, and a cast of characters featuring Michael Eisner, Jeffrey Katzenberg, and Roy Disney, alongside an amazing array of talented artists that includes Don Bluth, John Lasseter, and Tim Burton, Waking Sleeping Beauty shines a light on Disney Animation’s darkest hours, greatest joys and its improbable renaissance."

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

First reviews of Chomet's "The Illusionist"

Sylvain Chomet's new hand-drawn animated feature film premiered recently at the Berlinale Film Festival .

Here are a few of the early reviews :

Variety review of "The Illusionist"

Another review of "The Illusionist"

"It took six days and an awful lot of films, but the Berlinale has finally turned up a masterpiece. Moreover, it’s a rare case of one of the fest’s most eagerly awaited titles managing to meet, and even subvert, expectations.

“The Illusionist,” French animator Sylvain Chomet long-gestating follow-up the 2003 Oscar nominee “The Triplets of Belleville,” confirms a truly singular auteur sensibility, while revealing a more disciplined artist and storyteller within. A streamlined character study, less deliriously eccentric in tone and structure than his debut feature, “The Illusionist” nonetheless boasts an emotional heft that handsomely repays its creator’s restraint."

Some clips from the film are seen in this interview with Sylvain Chomet. (watch it in Full Screen Mode) -

The Secret of Kells - official U.S. trailer

The Secret of Kells official U.S. release trailer.

This film has been released in Ireland and in Europe, and has played a limited Oscar-qualifying run in a few theaters in the U.S., but has not yet been widely released . But it looks like it is on track now to get a proper theatrical release in the United States.

(the Oscar nomination for "Best Animated Feature Film" helped, I think !)

I'm hoping to see this and Sylvain Chomet's (Triplets of Belleville) new feature film "The Illusionist" soon.

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Making-Of "The Princess & the Frog" - A Frogumentary

Behind the scenes interviews with some of the artists who made "The Princess & the Frog" .

Here are two parts of the "frog-umentary" featuring Lead Animator Eric Goldberg , and Lead Key Clean-Up artist Marshall Toomey.


Click through to YouTube to watch the other parts of the documentary.

Sunday, February 7, 2010

Mike Nguyen's Animation Blog - RAINPLACE

Animation Students:

If you don't know about Mike Nguyen's animation blog RAINPLACE , then get it on your bookmarks list and visit regularly. Mike has some of the most detailed and thoughtful pieces on the nuts & bolts of animating that you will find on the internet ---

Recent topics included : Fielding a Scene (the effect of field size on the perception of an action) , Amount of Extremes to use when animating a scene, Phrasing , Squash & Stretch Applications.

[Copyright © 2010 by Mike Nguyen, July Films]

Great stuff ! This is one of a handful of blogs that I would gladly pay a monthly subscription fee to view. However, Mike is such a generous , giving spirit that he is giving it away for free. (seriously, Mike you should at least put up a PayPal "tip jar" for those who would like to contribute to support your efforts)

In case you don't know , Mike is directing and animating an independent , self-funded feature length animated movie "My Little World".

Saturday, February 6, 2010

Chinese master traditional animator Te Wei 1915 -2010

(via Jerry Beck on --

"The master of Chinese animation, Te Wei (Sheng Tewei), has passed away at age 95.

Te Wei, a pioneering animator and cartoonist, was one of the founding fathers of the Shanghai Animation Studio. His most significant film of the 1950s was 'The Conceited General' .

In the 1960s his animation style was influenced by the painter Qi Baishi. His 1963 film , 'The Cowherd’s Flute' (Part 1 below), and his masterpiece 'Feeling from Mountain and Water' (1988) are two of the most beautiful animated films from China - or anywhere"

(watch the films full-screen)

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Saul Bass on Art and Commerce

(found via Alan Cook's page) --

Saul Bass:

"I want to make beautiful things, even if nobody cares"

This excerpt from a documentary about the legendary designer Saul Bass is worth watching several times. I haven't seen the whole documentary, but it now goes to the top of my list of DVD's to track down.

If you don't know who Saul Bass is you should find out.

You may have seen his title sequences on classic films and not been aware of his name:

(for a high-quality version of the Vertigo title sequence go to The Art of the Title Sequence web site: Art of the Title : Saul Bass titles for Vertigo


Sunday, January 17, 2010

Lip Sync - Gesture and Body Language speaks louder than words

Good clip via the Speaking of Animation site :

"Here’s evidence that proper acting and gestures are more important than lip-sync.
(It’s a clip Pete Docter showed in a lecture a couple years ago.) It works really well and makes me laugh every time.
So make sure your character’s body sells the line before you go crazy trying to get the lip-sync right."

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Cordell Barker - Master Class in Animation

Via the excellent National Film Board of Canada web site.

A master class in animation led by Cordell Barker in which he talks about the making of The Cat Came Back and the making of Runaway. Filmed during the 2009 edition of Get Animated!

Highly recommended.

(the embedded videos may not play in the Safari browser. View with Firefox.)