Favorite RSS Feeds|
[Most Recent Entries]
Below are the most recent 25 friends' journal entries.
[ << Previous 25 ]
[ << Previous 25 ]
|Friday, March 7th, 2014|
|News Post: Consultant
Tycho: It feels like subterfuge, and the raw facts of the case are true, but Kara is way into this kind of shit. It’s not really a “deal.” This is not how it works at my house. There is no special allowance for toys-playing-with, even if they are the very best toys. We had a chance to check out the Twitch App for the Xbox One, and and maybe it wasn’t the best advertisement for the app because we found a bug, but… yeah. They’re coming out swinging. I’ll let Gabe do that part, that’s his thing. It’s one part of…
|News Post: Xbox One and Twitch
Gabe: Major Nelson came by the office on Wednesday to show Tycho and I how the new Twitch app worked on Xbox One. He had stopped by a few weeks prior and found us streaming from the PS4. Larry is a cool guy though and even jumped into our stream and showed off the Titanfall controller. I was a little worried the PS4 camera would melt him but he left unscathed. Anyway he knows we like to stream now and he wanted to show off their new app. He ended up hooking me up with a code so I could grab it myself at home and play with it before its official release on Tuesday alongside Titanfall. I played with…
|News Post: Upcoming Cool Stuff
Gabe: I just wanted to give a few updates on some of the stuff we have in the works. Pax East Pins Kiko just posted a preview of this year’s PAX East pin set. You’ll be able to pick this up at the merch booth. We will be updating that site with more pin news over the next couple weeks. We’ve got a lot of cool pins launching at East this year and we’ll be covering them all on the Pinny Arcade site. Game Night 2 I’m going to be hosting another board game night at Snapdoodle Toys in Kenmore on March 15th. The last time I did this we packed out the store with folks playing all sorts…
|Craft Meeting #3 -- Pre-Viz, Design, Background, Layout
TAG held its third craft meeting on Thursday night, with designers, layout and background artists, and pre-visualization artists in attendance. There were also some art directors and production designers in the room.
The Guild related that it disavowed the long-time practice of paying for piece work during the last contract negotiations. It also gave a short history of the most recent negotiations, and how current contract talks with the WGA, and recent contract talks with the DGA will impact IA and Animation Guild negotiaions next year. Attendees were asked to think about contract proposals they would like considered for next year's negotiattions. ...
There was a lively question-and-answer session. Some studios continue the practice of piece work; TAG has registered complaints with the AMPTP, and the Alliance put out a bulletin reminding studios of the guild's disavowal. Other issues discussed:
* High quotas and tight schedules.
* Uncompensated overtime.
* Cutbacks in design and layout jobs.
* Shifting/evolving technology. (Cintiqs in wide use.)
Highlights from the craft surveys:
SUMMARY OF SURVEY FORMS
Median Wage (Character/Prop Design, BG, Layout): $1942
Biggest issue for my peers seems to be working [unpaid] overtime or not being paid at the rate they feel they deserve. Unfortunately I have friends who will work all night to finish their background and not clock the hours.
Biggest issues are unpaid o.t. and no protection from outsourcing. (What about a flat piece-rate for tests? Getting paid something is better than nothing, regardless of actual test size/time spent.)
Time scheduled for the job is now adequate. I worked with my show's producer and the show's creator to make the job doable. A big issue is getting studios to be more proactive about working around holidays. My studio is good about extending schedules or paying extra to meeting original due dates. I am most concerned with studio manipulating inexperienced arits (and experienced ones) into doing extra work and double duty while eliminating jobs. Specifically, one studio has not been hiring cleanup artists and expecting character and prop designers to clean up their own work without extra pay or extra time. ... Show creators now approve the artwork and the studio should hire art directors to do the art direction.
Big issues for me are jobs going overseas and long hiatuses. Some new shows at Nickelodeon are trying to go with skeleton crews (nothing new there) which stresses out the people on the show. They scramble to get things done. Management hopes they won't say anything and do extra work (again, nothing new.)
Disney TVA puts burden on storyboard artists to create background layouts to to unrealistic schedules and lack of hiring efficient staff numbers. ...
Disney Toon Studio is changing its vendor and business model. This mean they are revising thing, not sure how it will work out.
Character tests are impossible. It takes a week to do a test and it's unpaid. Also concerned about how we have to do our own cleanup on some shows.
Crews keep getting smaller.
I was laid off from DreamWorks Animation last year. As a final layout artist, we also had to take on stereo adjustments for the 3-D versions of the movie. Layout was broken down into rough and final layout. Rough did more of the pre-viz, from boards to rough CG. Final layout did animation prep, set dressing, final camera moves and stereo adjust. Also a lot of push and pull with animation, FX and matte painters. The job would also include working or fixing the rough layout so it didn't have to be sent back to the rough layout artists. Also, I had to wait for the modeling department to model props and environments. So there is no limit to what I'm supposed to do for my job. It seemed like it was constantly expanding. ...
As at other meetings, it was stressed that a central issue is being paid for the actual time spent doing the job. If an artist is doing prop design, character design, pre-viz and layouts, the issue is not "doing multiple jobs" but getting compensated for every hour worked.
Here are the links to Craft Meeting #2 and Craft Meeting #1.
|The “Character Development” Crutch
In response to recent shows such as Kill la Kill and even Dokidoki! Precure I’ve been seeing a particular criticism thrown around lately:
“These characters are bad because they have no character development.”
In a way, it’s pretty much the go-to question for a lot of things, because when we traditionally think of a character-driven narrative, a character starts off in one place and ends up in another. Sometimes it’s a physical displacement, sometimes it’s an emotional one, and often times the two go hand in hand. When it comes to basic storytelling, it’s about as reliable a structure as it gets.
Reliable, yes. The formula by which all characters should be judged, no.
I understand that character development can be a powerful thing, and seeing a character grow can be a tremendously satisfying experience, but when “character development” is bandied about as doctrine it comes across as a Beginner’s Guide to Criticism. People end up being so eager to establish the “right way” to construct a story that they effectively throw out the baby with the bath water. “Static” characters, or even static elements of characters, have their own place, and are capable of being part of great stories. However, the narrative arc need not be about them in particular.
There are many ways to portray characters, and not all of them need to have the hero go through the typical kind of character progression. Does anyone watch Akagi asking, “Where’s Akagi’s character development?” Is Kenshiro an issue because he doesn’t have “character progression” beyond getting angrier and sadder as the series goes along? Raoh’s “development” is more a retcon which turned him from just an Evil Guy to someone who wanted to bring order to chaos. Yet all their characters work for what they are and what they need to be. That’s not to say that character development shouldn’t ever matter at all (and both Kill la Kill and Dokidoki! Precure have more character development than either Akagi or Fist of the North Star), but it shouldn’t be held up as holy doctrine that a story can only succeed if its character progression is sufficient.
I think this is why people are so often eager to point out that some character is a “Mary Sue.” This character who is on some level larger than life or a product of wish fulfillment is assaulted by the big book of how narrative tropes are “supposed” to work, and the attackers don’t care about anything but the idea that stories should adhere to it.
|This Month In Animation
Tom Sito, on top of being an animation veteran, is an animation historian, author of books, and college professor. Below we offer a few Sito factoids from animation history:
THIS MONTH IN ANIMATION HISTORY
Regarding the first "Ice Age": Until the picture was close to completion, Twentieth Century Fox -- which owned Blue Sky Studios -- was trying to get out of the feature animation business by selling the east coast studio. It was only when trailers featuring the pre-historic squirrel Scat got a boisterous reception in Europe that Fox reassessed its position.
March 1, 1936 -- Max Fleischer's Betty Boop Cartoon "Snow White" released. Cab Calloway singing the "St. James Infirmary Blues" was a highlight.
March 15, 1933 -- Young animator Chuck Jones first hired at Leon Schesinger's Looney Tunes cartoon studio.
March 15, 2002 -- Blue Sky's first "Ice Age" premiered.
March 26, 1997 -- Turner Feature Animation's film "Cat's Don't Dance" , feautring the last film work of Gene Kelly. (He was a consultant on the dance sequences.) ...
(An expanded version of "This Month In Animation History" will be published in the March PegBoard.)
|Thursday, March 6th, 2014|
Disney's gaming division made deep staffing cuts on Thursday, laying off 26 percent of its staff — about 700 employees in all.
“Disney Interactive has consolidated several lines of business as part of an effort to focus the division on a streamlined suite of high quality digital products,” a company spokeswoman said in a statement to TheWrap. “As a result of this restructuring, we have undergone a reduction in workforce. These actions were difficult but necessary given our long-term strategy focused on sustainable profitability and innovation." ...
And so on and so forth. ...
The Mouse has never had good fortune in Gameland. And these cutbacks have been coming on for awhile. Seven hundred jobs are being cut.
Disney Infinity was not, apparently, the booster rocket that lifted the division into the heavens.
|CSF President to Deliver Keynote Address at SATELLITE 2014 Conference
Washington, D.C. – Commercial Spaceflight Federation President Michael Lopez-Alegria will deliver a keynote address at the SATELLITE 2014 Satellite Finance Forum on Monday, March 10th at 11:30 AM in Washington, D.C. The address is entitled “Birth of an Industry: Taking Commercial Spaceflight from Science Fiction to Business Viability.” SATELLITE 2014 is the premier professional gathering of the telecommunications satellite industry. The event will feature panels, round tables, and user discussions led by top industry thought-leaders, pioneers and innovators in a global marketplace that serves military, government, commercial, broadcast, maritime, mobility, and telecommunications industries.
Click here for more information about the SATELLITE 2014.
About the Commercial Spaceflight Federation
The mission of the Commercial Spaceflight Federation (CSF) is to promote the development of commercial human spaceflight, pursue ever-higher levels of safety, and share best practices and expertise throughout the industry. The Commercial Spaceflight Federation’s member companies, which include commercial spaceflight developers, operators, spaceports, suppliers, and service providers, are creating thousands of high-tech jobs nationwide, working to preserve American leadership in aerospace through technology innovation, and inspiring young people to pursue careers in science and engineering. For more information please visit www.commercialspaceflight.org or contact Sirisha Bandla at firstname.lastname@example.org or at 202.347.1418.
, with a few rays of light.
A new report from FilmL.A. provides a further signal that California is rapidly losing its share of big budget features films to rival states and countries.
So it turns out that animation is the good news in California's entertainment industry. Even as big budget live-action films move to Georgia, New York, and various foreign locales with big tax subsidies, large-scale animated features appear to be staying put.
Last year, only two of the top 25 big-budget movies, whose combined budgets totaled more than $3.5 billion, filmed primarily in California: "The Hangover Part III" and "Star Trek: Into Darkness," according to a report released Thursday morning. ...
Louisiana ranked first with 18 movies. Canada and California tied with 15 movies apiece, followed closely by the United Kingdom, which hosted 12. Rounding out the top five locations was the state of Georgia, which hosted nine films.
The report did identify some bright spots. When it comes to commercially successful big-budget films, California-produced animated films outnumber California-produced live-action films by more than 2 to 1.
We've seen this phenomenon before.
In the middle 1990s, when Disney was tearing up the box office with Beauty and the Beast, Aladdin and Lion King, most of the major conglomerates tried to replicate the Mouse's success by building animation studios of their own. Even then, there were Asian and European cartoon studios turning out lower-priced animated features, but Disney's rivals ignored these foreign models and strove to replicate Walt Disney Feature Animation by setting up studios in California.
There was a logical reason for this: Disney Feature Animation had been explosively successful making high-grossing animated features over the previous five years, while overseas cartoon shops had turned out films that had died at the global box office. (Anybody remember Hanna-Barbera's foreign-made "Once Up a Forest? Me neither.)
If there is a constant theme in Hollywood it is: "Emulate success, not failure." This simple rule explains when comedies are big grossers, studio make comedies. And when action-adventure movies are in vogue, those get made. Whatever train seems most lucrative, you will lose no money betting that Hollywood filmmakers will clamber aboard, because studio executives, bent on survival, are far more comfortable riding winners than taking risks with possible losers.
Which explains, I think, why California animation studios are still standing. In 2014, after DWA's The Croods makes $600 million, Pixar's Monster University clears $700 million, and Disney's Frozen takes in over a billion dollars, what are the odds that the studios that created them will be dismantled and reassembled elsewhere? What Hollywood CEO wants to roll those particular dice?
"Don't fix what ain't broke" isn't merely a philosophy with our fine, entertainment conglomerates, it's a mantra. You can shoot a live-action movie anywhere. Just fly your Hollywood keys in, set up cameras and lights, place the actors in front of them, and away you go. The time spent on the ground is months not years, and all those grips, makeup artists, and set builders get their wages offset by subsidies.
But setting up an animation studio in a different state of country is somewhat harder. Talent has to be persuaded to sell their houses and relocate, new local talent has to be recruited. Pipelines need to be reconstituted, and there is a large, long-term investment in time and money. Chris Meledandri did a different business model with Illumination Entertainment, but he was starting from scratch. (And he has a lot of his story crew ... still ... in L.A.) Warner Animation Group (WAG) has got development in Burbank and production in Sydney, but it remains to be seen how that setup will do over time.
There is, of course, always the possibility that the animated features now done in Emeryville and the east San Fernando Valley will be created in Montreal or London at some point in the future. But with the success California animation studios are now having, what cartoon company will be willing to move production?
Guess we'll have to wait and see.
|Friday, March 7th, 2014|
|Thursday, March 6th, 2014|
|Comic Book Resources Interview - Beasts of Burden/Eltingville
You can read it here
. I had fun doing it and appreciate Steve Sunu taking the time and having the interest in speaking with me. I took some of his questions very seriously and others I didn't take very seriously at all, and most of you have probably heard me say these kinds of things before, but they asked about the Beasts of Burden
movie and there are some Hunters and Gatherers
preview pages to look at, so, hey, children, y'know, it's just a click away. If you skip it there's another one coming up any day now for Newsarama, although both interviewers touched on different things so you might want to check 'em both out because these are clearly the end times. Ha ha, I kid.
One thing I wanted to touch on was that in the interview I mention both Dan Slott and Anita Sarkeesian receiving threats from fabs because of their work, and there's a hyperlink to a piece about Slott but no link about the situation Sarkeesian faced. I realize the Slott link is to a related CBR article, also written by Sunu, and it makes sense linking to it as a matter of course. But, I have to say if it was up to me I'd have also put in a link to something about what happened -- and continues to happen -- to Anita Sarkeesian. I think her situation was worth highlighting in the same way Slott's was, and if CBR articles can link to non-CBR sites like Act-I-Vate or Facebook or Twitter, I figure they could have easily enough sent eyes here
, or here
, or just here
Den of Geek today relates
For every movie from Disney Animation that is created, there are dozens more that never make it. Here are some failed Disney projects...
This is one of the most infamous unproduced projects, dating just as far back as The Snow Queen in terms of attempts to develop it. The source material was slightly unlikely, coming from a pre-WWI class satire called Chantecler, written by French playwright Edmund Rostand, about an egotistical rooster who believes that he makes the sun come up with his crowing.
The project first came to Disney's attention in the 1940s, and was merged with a problematic feature project called Reynard The Fox. It was shelved during the Second World War, like many of Disney's other feature developments, but it came back around in the 1960s.
Animators Marc Davis and Ken Anderson found the archive of the project up to that point in Disney's animation library, while looking to develop something that would prove to be quite ahead of their time. They wanted to do a Broadway musical in the style of Disney animation.
The project, in which the hero was renamed Chanticleer, went on for some time after that, with Davis and Anderson working on the script, the songbook and concept art. The story developed to where Chanticleer was the mayor of a town of barnyard animals, and his authority was challenged by the aforementioned Reynard, leading him to eventually learn humility and become a better leader when the sun comes up with or without his crowing.
But at a point when Walt Disney was hoping to open another Disneyland, somewhere else in the US, he was convinced to scale back production from an animated feature every two years, to one every four years. That meant that the company had to choose between cancelling one of two projects currently in development- this one, and 1963's The Sword In The Stone, and we all know how that one turned out.
What's fascinating about this one is that the Broadway model eventually took Disney into a renaissance in the 1990s, with films like The Little Mermaid and Beauty And The Beast, and yet Davis and Anderson were suggesting that the same thing would have kept Disney relevant back in the 1960s. The project was hugely ambitious, and thus more of a gamble than The Sword In The Stone, and Disney executives apparently couldn't get past the unlikelihood of a chicken as a hero.
Some of Davis' drawings for Chanticleer were pilfered for 1973's Robin Hood, a production that also pinched pennies by Xeroxing character artwork from The Jungle Book. When the even more conservative Disney executives of the 1980s shot down a pitch to revive the project, animator Don Bluth decided to take up the cause at his own breakaway animation studio, Aurora Productions. The result, 1991's Rock-A-Doodle, bears little resemblance to the plans as they existed at Disney, and isn't exactly the most fondly remembered of Bluth's animations either.
Davis' concept art for Chanticleer is still highly regarded nowadays, and we've since had movies like Chicken Run, Free Birds and Disney's own Chicken Little, all led by animated poultry. Unfortunately, barring a Frozen-style revamp from the ground up, we can probably dismiss any hope of the sun coming out for this one. ...
But there's more to the story. ...
Chanticleer received some full-bore development in the Disney animation department during the early 1960s. There was a lot of boards done, color designs (my father did some), and songs written. A large pitch meeting was held for Walt, during which artwork was reviewed, boards unveiled, and songs played. Larry Clemmons, who attended the meeting, told me this:
The presentation didn't come off. The songs didn't gel, it was some guy up on a piano singing "cockadoodle doo! Cockaddoodle doo!" I sort of cringed in my chair. At the end of the whole thing Walt said: "I don't know guys, the rooster isn't a particularly appealing character. Not much warmth. Take a few days, see if you can come up with a different approach. ..."
Vance Gerry, who worked with Ken Anderson on the storyboards, said:
Walt wasn't real enthusiastic, but I was young and stupid. I thought the meeting hadn't been that bad. When Walt said "See if you can develop something different," I thought we had a shot. Ken and I went back and worked on different concepts. We really worked hard, but the new boards didn't go over any better than the first ones did. The picture didn't get developed any further. ..."
You need to be aware here of a few bullet points.
* Vance was always self-effacing, downgrading his own talent and accomplishments. When he said to me "I thought the meeting had gone well," I took that with a grain of salt. Walt didn't totally slam the door at the end of the pitch, but he came close. Vance likely knew that.
* And Larry was not exactly an objective party when he related his story of the pitch meeting. He and Ken Anderson were not friends, (in fact, Ken was downright hostile toward Mr. Cleemons, sending him nasty caricatures through inter-office mail) so Larry had reason to put some top-spin on his story about the pitch. It was a tale about Ken failing with Walt, and Larry would have been happy to embellish the anecdote, saying how badly the whole presentation went.
For additional stuff on "Chanticleer", and Marc Davis's and Ralph Hulett's artwork on the project, click here and here.
I have been hand-writing a lot lately. I’m hand-writing this right now. (I will type it up later.)
It started when I started working through a book which shall not be named, but to my terrible chagrin I have to admit it is yielding results.
I don’t remember what exactly it was that prompted the thought, but at some point in the daily longhand writing I was doing, I had the idea that I should get a fountain pen. So I did; I bought a $15 Pilot Metropolitan an a bottle of dark blue ink.
This fucking pen drives me crazy. On the wrong paper it is comically frustrating, a blotchy, skippy catastrophe. But on the right paper (which so far has turned out to be standard inkjet paper) it is a physical pleasure to write with. I find myself trying to think of excuses to sit down and fill a page with my shitty handwriting, just to enjoy the look and feel of it. The actual writing is just as satisfying as seeing a page of words written in that lovely dark ink.
As someone with a more or less lifelong aversion to writing by hand, this is somewhat disturbing. It’s making me wonder what else I’m wrong about, what other assumptions about who I am and what I prefer or am capable of will turn out to be incorrect.
Anyway, here’s a picture of my pen.
( PENNNNCollapse )
And here are some videos of a calligrapher who also seems to have shall we say objectivist leanings, but whatever their politics, they're real good with that pen.
( videossssCollapse )
|Wednesday, March 5th, 2014|
Everyday is pretty exhausting and I have no food for tmmrw.
I will have to microwave some eggs and pass out. :/
"Paddington Bear" teaser.
The hybrid animated/live-action feature biz used to be in the L.A. area. Sony Imageworks did Smurfs
, and Rhythm and Hues (you remember R & H, don't you?) did a number of them -- everything from the Alvin and Chipmunk
extravaganzas to Illumination Entertainment's Hop
Seems like only yesterday. ...
But here in 2014 that's no longer the case. Paddington Bear, teased above, will be done at Framestore in London. And other features like The Lego Movie are being created in Sydney, Australia. As Visual Effects jobs have melted away in Los Angeles, so have animation jobs in hybrid features, and that presents a problem.
Because although Disney Animation Studios and Pixar remain in California, the talent pool from which they draw is steadily shrinking. So production employees who used to work on a Disney or Pixar or DreamWorks Animation feature and then swing over to a hybrid animated production or visual effects project when they got laid off, don't have those secondary options anymore. And this presents a problem for the Diz Co. animation studios in Burbank and Emeryville. It's also no bed of petunias for DreamWorks Animation/PDI in Glendale and Redwood City. What are these places going to do when there are no local hires to draw on during production peaks? How do they plan to staff up?
They can, of course, always hire from outside the state, but what level of talent will want to relocate for a six to ine month gig? There is also the "immigrant employee on an H1-B or O-1 visa" option. Or ... they can uproot the studio the way Sony Imageworks has, and hope that the Vancouver ... or Montreal ... or London tax subsidies don't get taken away. (This is what Disney-owned Industrial Light and Magic apparently plans to do.)
But there's long-term downside to these things happening. If California's talent pool permanently shrinks, then the studios that remain (presumably DreamWorks Animation/PDI, Pixar and Walt Disney Animation Studios) will have slimmer pickings when staffing their facilities. Of course, they could always decamp to a geographical location that offers a generous corporate dole, but I tend to think that they're resistant to that at the present time. Because ...
Number One: Tax subsidies can always go away.
Number Two: The Big Three likely aren't predisposed to fix what isn't broke. (They've got award-winning, high grossing studios in place. Why would they risk lousing up that happy reality?)
Even so, Diz Co. and DreamWOrks Animation are going to have some challenges ahead.