Association International du Film d'Animation
(International Animated Film Association)
December 2008
by Karl Cohen

RICHARD WILLIAMS DELIGHTED AUDIENCES AT THE BALBOA THEATRE by Karl Cohen On November 2 the Balboa Theatre had almost 500 people attend a most unlikely sounding event, a presentation on the principles of animation. What brought the audience to the theatre was the rare chance to see the presenter, the legendary British director Richard Williams. He has won 3 Oscars including two for directing the animation in Who Framed Roger Rabbit? He is also the author of The Animators Survival Kit, .the definitive book on character animation and he is presently marketing The Animator's Survival Kit Animated, a 16-disc DVD set based on master classes he presented for many years on the subject.

Williams program touched on the subtle nuances that can make a good animator a great one. He also answered lots of questions from the audience. Writer Tony Reveaux told me he presented the principles in a lucid and clear way. Michael Bunker, a graduate student in animation at the Academy of Art, said, What a warm, friendly man! He was just amazing. After all he's done and everyone he's worked with and met, he's still completely approachable and I really felt like I could ask him anything. The world needs more people like! him, both in their incomparable skill and library of knowledge, and in their eagerness to teach what they know and help aspiring students.

Part of the excitement was Williams meeting the audience in the lobby after each show to talk, sign copies of his book (or anything else that people brought to the theatre) and to pose for photographs. My wife saw one young woman dancing for joy in the lobby after getting an autograph.

The success of the event was largely due to the Internet. Before it was mentioned on radio, TV or in newspapers the event was sold out, so Gary Meyer, owner of the Balboa, asked Williams if he would do a 2nd show. The event was presented as a benefit for ASIFA-San Francisco.

For information about The Animators Survival Kit Animated, visit To learn more about the theatre Thanks, Gary for presenting this wonderful celebration of animation at your theatre.

SEEING THE ANIMATION SHOW OF SHOWS WAS A SPLENDID WAY TO CELEBRATE INTERNATIONAL ANIMATION DAY IN SAN FRANCISCO by Karl Cohen A 35mm program presented in ILMs state of the art theatre is always an exceptional way to honor animation as a great art form, but having Koji Yamamura (Franz Kafkas A Country Doctor and Alexi Alexeev (KJFH #5) there to answer questions about their works made the night even better. This was the 10th year Ron Diamond, a founder of and Acme Filmworks in LA, has curated and presented this event honoring new outstanding shorts.

The program was a mixture of styles and subjects. Works came from Japan (3), the US (3), France (2), Canada, Hungary and UK. They ranged from the serious exploration of Franz Kafkas writings to the outrageous slapstick humor of Pixars Presto. Disney was represented with Glagos Guest, a bizarre short that will play nationally with Bolt. It was impressive looking and technically outstanding, but this strange story of a UFO landing in a desolate snow covered section of Siberia (ca. 1920) left me cold.

The funniest, most delightful film for me was Janet Perlmans Hot Seat, a film about rabbits working together in an office. Janet, whose best known work is The Tender Tale of Cinderella Penguin, has created a film in the spirit of John Weldon at his best (Special Delivery, Log Drivers Waltz). It turns out she shared an office with him for 9 years at the National Film Board so it isnt surprising that Janet's rabbits are just as goofy as John's wacky Frank the Wrabbit. I also love the shorts simple hand drawn look even though it was drawn and colored on a computer. It was made for an insurance companys website and it is actually a humorous discourse on office etiquette and personal responsibility. See it at

Also outstanding in the humor department are Skhizein by Jeremy Clapin, France and KJFG #5 by Alexei Alexeev, Hungary. Skhizeins comedy arises from an original premise; what happens when a falling 150-ton meteor hits a man without hurting him? KJFG #5 turned out to be a wonderful nonsequitur. When asked to explain his 2-minute short Alexei couldnt. He explained it was cut from a much longer film and they chose the footage because it was funny. In answer to a question about the films title he said he couldnt find a good one that related to the action in the film, so he simply made up a nonsense title. I was happy with irony This movie is stupid and doesnt contain any message, which is exactly why I like it. Alexei was born and educated in Russia and worked at Pilot for 7 years before moving to Budapest. He is fond of KROK, a festival he has attended 5 times.

When Koji Yamamuru (Franz Kafkas A Country Doctor) was introduced, Ron said the film had won 4 grand prizes at international festivals and then he proceeded to name 3 of them. He asked Koji what the 4th one was. Koji paused and then told us in an almost embarrassed way that actually it had won 7 or 8 grand prizes (I forget how many he said). In any case Koji charmed the audience and his film received considerable applause.

Another gem in the show was The House of Small Cubes by Kunio Kato, Japan. It won a grand prize at Annecy this year along with other prizes at Annecy and Hiroshima. I suspect it could get an Oscar nomination.

Among the student films, the most enjoyable one was the humorous A Mouses Tale by Benjamin Renner, France. I Slept With Cookie Monster by Kara Nasdor-Jones, Massachusetts College of Art and Design, is a powerful personal statement about domestic violence. It was named the Best Student Film at Ottawa 08. The program also included two more distinguished works, Kudan by Taku Kimura, Japan and Keith Reynolds Cant Make It Tonight by Felix Massie from the University of Wales.

DO YOU HAVE A FILM TO SHOW AT OUR ANNUAL OPEN SCREENING IN JANUARY? This will be an evening of professionally animated work including company reels and shorts (we will have a special open screening for student work in April). If you let us know in advance (by Dec. 20) that you plan to bring something, we will put the information you provide on the flyer. Contact

SCOTT KRAVITZ AND JAMIE CALIRI DID THE OUTSTANDING STOP-MOTION WORK IN MADAGASCAR RETURN 2 AFRICA Scott was the animation supervisor for the end title sequence of Madagascar 2 and Jamie Caliri directed. They also worked together earlier this year on a remarkable United Airlines ad that used paper cutouts.

DAVID CHAI DIRECTED OUT ON A LIMB Working with a big crew consisting of several of his San Jose State students and friends, David has directed his strongest and most mature short, Out on a Limb, an engrossing 6-minutes. It is well written, thoughtful and sensitive. Unlike Fumis Bad Luck Foot it doesnt go for Tex Avery laughs. It has a subtle humor, a touching story and it is also full of surprises. I expect it to do well at festivals and I look forward to seeing it again at an open screening. KC

THE HOLLYWOOD REPORTER RAN A NICE, BUT MISLEADING ARTICLE ABOUT JOHN LASSETER Despite the title John Lasseter leads Disney to next great phase, there is no information about what that phase might be. The reporter describes being in Lasseters office, but it appears he didnt interview him. Although the paper has named John the Innovator of the year: The groundbreaking animator has changed the industry through inventive stories with heart, we learn nothing about what that means except for film historian Charles Solomon saying, He's been an extraordinary force in innovating and renewing excitement about the animated feature in this country, at a time when it was falling into the doldrums." That was in the late 1980s and early 90s.Was the award bestowed upon John in the 1980s or 90s?

The writer quotes Tim Allen (Buzz Lightyears voice) as saying, "John views the world through an unpolluted lens, he has a way of simplifying things." We are told that heart, inventiveness and inspiration are 3 words John likes to stress and they manifest themselves in things ranging from the studio creating Pixar U (free training/education for employees) to Pixar having a "Brain Trust," a group of directors who play a pivotal role on each film. It's part of a strategy Lasseter calls plusing, constantly adding input from all sources. That has been Johns way of working for many years. We also are told John fires talent. Two examples were given including a writer on Bolt who was going to direct it until John and his brain trust decided they disliked the guys script revisions.

So what did I learn about the next phase? Nothing About John? Not much. Instead I learned that an attention-grabbing headline doesnt have to have an article beneath it that lives up to what the headline suggests. I see this happening all the time on TV news shows, especially ones that focus on celebrities.

ELECTRONIC ARTS IS TURNING TOP SELLING GAMES INTO HOLLYWOOD FEATURES EA recently closed a deal with Universal to turn Army of Two into a feature. It is a videogame that has grossed over $100 million in sales since it was released in March 2008. This is the second film project that EA has developed. They are also developing The Sims into a feature with 20th Century Fox.

THE ART OF WARNER BROS. CARTOONS IS A BIG ART EXHIBIT IN SACRAMENTO This comprehensive overview of the animation studio is a greatly expanded version of the Museum of Modern Art (NYC) show. It consists of over 160 drawings, paintings, cels and related art objects used in the making of Warner's classic cartoons, from the 1930s through 1960. There are works by all of the studio's directors ncluding Chuck Jones, Tex Avery, Friz Freleng and Bob Clampett. The exhibition traces the development of Warner's cartoon stars and provides a step-by-step breakdown of how animated films are made. The exhibit ends January 11, 2009. The Crocker Art Museum is at 216 O Street, Sacramento, CA 95814 (916) 808-5780

ANIMATOR PAUL NAAS WAS IN A GROUP SHOW AT CANADA COLLEGE In "Analog to Digital and Back Again!" Naas showed examples of his animated work for casino and computer games, as well as some still art. The show also included work by two other Canada teachers, Katherine Bazak, their digital painting instructor, and Roger Royce, who teaches storyboarding and Flash. The show ended Nov. 24.

THE SF WOMENS FILM FESTIVAL DEADLINE IS DEC. 15 They seek films and videos (animation and live action) directed or co-directed by women. All lengths, genres, no entry fee. They are also planning a tour package, but are charging a $25 entry fee to be part of it. That seems a bit odd to me since I assume they get a rental fee or percentage of the gate from theaters showing it. The Ann Arbor tour pays artists who are in their package.

SF NEEDS AN OFFICE TO COORDINATE WHEN FILM FESTIVALS HAPPEN HERE I asked an animator if she was going to the SF Int. Animation Fest. on Sat. and she said no, she already had tickets for another festival. It turns out there were festivals that weekend at the Castro, Roxie and another theatre as well as the animation programs at the Embarcadero. Must good events compete with one another?

DIANA RUMJAHN has written and illustrated Charlie and Mama Kyna, based on her award winning film Going Home. Diana works at SF State as an administrator. A nicely produced ad for her book can be seen on

NEW LOCATION NEEDED FOR OUR ANNUAL 12TH NIGHT PARTY IN JANUARY Ron Merk has been very generous letting us uses his spacious house in the past, but this holiday season he will probably be on crutches (a minor foot operation). ASIFA has a budget for the event and volunteers that will clean up any mess. If you have or know of a good location where we can hold the event in early January, please contact or (415) 386-1004


Saturday, Dec. 6, 1 PM CHARACTER ANIMATION CRASH COURSE! A TALK AND BOOK SIGNING WITH DISNEY DIRECTOR AND AUTHOR ERIC GOLDBERG Talk begins at 1:15 pm. 655 Mission between New Montgomery and 3rd St. ASIFA members $3 instead of $6 (bring your newsletter as proof of membership)

ASIFA MEMBERS ARE INVITED TO FREE AWARDS SCREENINGS OF KUNG FU PANDA SUN. DEC. 7, 2 PM At Dolby Labs, 100 Potrero St. in SF) and MADAGASCAR 2 WED. DEC. 10, 7 PM, at Delancey St. Screening Room, 600 Embarcadero, SF. You must RSVP to or call 818 695?4440. Tell them which show and in what city.


Waltz with Bashir

14 FILMS HAVE QUALIFIED FOR THE OSCAR FOR THE BEST-ANIMATED FEATURE That means 3 will be selected for Oscar nominations. Had there been 16 there would have been 5 films nominated. The 81st Academy Awards nominations will be announced on Thursday, January 22, 2009, at 5:30 am. The 14 films are: Bolt (Disney), Delgo (Fathom Studios), Dr. Seuss Horton Hears a Who! (20th Century Fox, Blue Sky), Dragon Hunter (Futurikon, Peace Arch), Fly Me to the Moon (Summit Ent., nWave), Igor (MGM, Weinstein Co., Exodus), Kung Fu Panda (DreamWorks Animation), Madagascar: Escape 2 Africa (DreamWorks Animation), $9.99 (Regent Releasing), The Sky Crawlers (Production IG, Nippon, Sony Pictures Classics), Sword of the Stranger (Shochiku, Bones, Bandai), The Tale of Despereaux (Universal), Wall-E (Disney, Pixar) and Waltz of Bashir (Sony Pictures Classics).

Screening of all 40 shorts were held in November in NYC and LA. Members who attended voted for their favorites and from those votes up to 10 films will be selected for the short list. Those films will then be shown locally and elsewhere and those votes will determine the 5 nominated films. The nominations will be announced January 22.

The films that qualified include several outstanding works that have won major prizes along with a few not so memorable films. To qualify a work it has to win a grand prize at a festival or be shown for a week in LA.

To qualify films Bill Plympton likes, he organized a 35mm program that played for a week in LA. The program called The Best of the Best featured Doxology by Michael Langan, Chainsaw by Dennis Tupicoff, Veterinarian by Signe Baumane, Hot Dog by Bill Plympton, A Letter to Colleen by Carolyn and Andy London and Bernis Doll by Yann Jouette. While six of the films shown made the list of films that qualified for the animation competition, two films, Doxology and Bernis Doll, did not for unspecified reasons.

Other films on the list of 40 include This Way Up by Smith and Foulkes, Skhizein by Jeremy Clapin, Retouches by Georges Schwizgebel, Glagos Guest by Chris Williams (Disney), Franz Kafkas A Country Doctor by Koji Yamamura, La Maison en Petits Cubes by Kunio Kato, Hot Seat by Janet Perlman, Oktapodi by 6 French students and I Am So Proud Of You by Don Hertzfeldt. A list of the 40 films appears on the Internet on Michael Sporns website.

ASIFA HOLLYWOOD PREVIEWED $9.99, AN INDEPENDENT STOP-MOTION FEATURE BY TATIA ROSENTHAL Based on short stories of Etgar Keret, $9.99 is a stop-motion animated feature which offers slightly less than $10 worth about the meaning of life. It was directed/animated by Tatia Rosenthal and Australian actors Geoffrey Rush and Anthony LaPaglia provided voices for the production. The story revolves around people living in an apartment complex in Sidney, each searching for meaning in their lives. The film is an expansion of A Bucks Worth, a Sundance Lab project. It will be shown in LA in December for a week to qualify it for the Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences Award.

Tatia Rosenthal worked commercially as an animator on Nickelodeon's Blue's Clues. She embarked on her childhood dream of becoming a filmmaker after serving two years in the Israeli army, trying her hand at medical school, and studying photography in Paris. Then she studied film at New York University where she made a film called Crazy Glue.

The ASIFA-Hollywood website says of this film, Have you ever wondered "What is the meaning of life? Why do we exist?" The answer to this vexing question is now within your reach! You'll find it in a small yet amazing booklet, which will explain, in easy to follow, simple terms your reason for being! The booklet, printed on the finest paper, contains illuminating, exquisite colour pictures, and could be yours for a mere $9.99. This is the ad that alters the life of the unemployed 28 year old who still lives at home, Dave Peck. In his struggle to share his find with the world, Dave's surreal path crosses with those of his unusual neighbours: an old man and his disgruntled guardian angel, a magician in debt, a bewitching woman who likes her men extra smooth, a broken hearted man who befriends a group of hard partying two inch tall students, and a little boy who sets his piggy bank free. Their stories are woven together, examining the post-modern meaning of hope.

INTERESTED IN ATTENDING AN UNUSUAL ASIFA SPONSORED CABARET-STYLE SKETCH CLASS? Joe Perry has been heading up Boozer Doodle for over a year. He says, It is an extension of the weekly ASIFA sponsored classes I have been running since 1998. For election night he used an African-American model and to add a special touch we had her create a Michelle Obama routine where she turns into Wonder Woman for the last pose! These classes are run by ASIFA in Atlanta, GA

FOOTAGE FROM HENRY SELICKS CORALINE HAS BEEN SHOWN TO THE PRESS The Hollywood Reporter did not comment on the quality of his work, but said it combined "old-fashioned" stop-motion animation with the latest 3-D techniques, that about 20 minutes of footage was shown and they called it the first stop-motion animated film to be produced in stereoscopic 3-D. ran a more informative article. They said, Judging from the footage, the feature looks extremely detailed, an atmospheric and compelling Grimm-inspired fairy tale about a melancholy young girl that discovers a hidden passageway in an old house to an opposite world. Seeing the 4 promotional shorts on the making of the film on the Internet gives a better idea that the film will be a fascinating surreal experience when it opens Feb. 6.

ASIFA-HOLLYWOOD PREVIEWED THE TALE OF DESPEREAUX The invitation said, Once upon a time, in the faraway kingdom of Dor, there was magic in the air, laughter aplenty and gallons of mouthwatering soup. But an accident left the King broken-hearted, the Princess filled with longing and the townsfolk without their soup. Sunlight disappeared. The world became gray. All hope was lost in this land... until Despereaux Tilling was born. It goes on to say it is a modern fairy tale that tells the story of four unlikely heroes: Despereaux (Matthew Broderick), Roscuro, a brave mouse banished to the dungeon for speaking with a human (Dustin Hoffman); a good-hearted rat who loves light and soup, but is exiled to darkness; Pea (Emma Watson), a Princess who is prisoner to her father's grief; and Mig (Tracey Ullman), a servant girl who longs to be a princess, but works as the jailer.

The screening was followed by a Q&A with writer-producer, Gary Ross, and director, Sam Fell. The film from Universal is entered in the Oscar competition.

NIK AND NANCY WERE IN BERLIN. FILM WITH NIKS MUSIC WINS MAJOR AWARD BEFORE IT PREMIERES! Friendly Fire is a new animated short by German director Andy Kaiser with music composed and performed by Nik Phelps. Before it premiered it had won the Best Short Film of the Month awarded from the FBW (Filmbewertungsstelle), the German Board of Film Classification. They certify every film that will be screened in Germany. Nancy says, Friendly Fire also received the Besondes Wertvoll which is a separate award, a monetary prize that they can give if they feel that a film deserves it. Quite a nice honor. The prize will be between 10,000 and 20,000 Euros. The money must be spent on Kaisers next short film. Nancy says it really is an excellent film, that the films crew party/screening was in Berlin at the Kino Babylon Theatre, that Nik enjoyed playing music at the event and Berlin is a very alive city.

OSCAR WINNER SUZIE TEMPLETON HAS AN IMPRESSIVE NEW WEBSITE It includes clips, stills and other information about her award winning Peter and the Wolf .You can see her earlier shorts Stanley and Dog. There are other useful features.

THE HOLLAND ANIMATION FILM FESTIVAL HONORED AARDMAN WITH A LARGE RETROSPECTIVE Peter Lord, co-founder of Aardman Animations, was the HAFFs guest of honor. They presented a retrospective that included new works with Wallace & Gromit. Peter Lord also presented his personal animated favorites covering almost 100 years of film history. He began with a film made in San Francisco, Willis OBriens Prehistoric Poultry (1916), and ended with Matthew Walkers Astronauts (2005).

The festivals opening night feature was Waltz with Bashir and the was the world premiere of The Wreckers: No Place Like Home directed by Rosto (his partner is Oscar winner Suzie Templeton). Besides the usual special programs and competition screenings there were master classes, workshops and Portlands Rose Bond created a public animated installation called Intra Muros. Bonds work was displayed in the windows of the Utrecht City Hall.

CAN YOU WATCH ALL OF BARACK OBOLLYWOOD? A VERY STRANGE ANIMATED WORK I dont know if it was made in India or the US, but it is certainly a different kind of music video.

GENE HAMMS FEATURE THE DREAM HAT IS AVAILABLE FROM INDIEFLIX has picked up The Dream Hat, Genes animated feature. It will be for sale from their website starting early this month. He writes he has a new trailer for it on YouTube. He says, The marketing campaign is entirely viral, so please forward this email and trailer to all your friends. If you don't like the film, please forward this email and railer to all your enemies. The address of IndieFlix is Here is a link to my trailer To see my whole page of animated films on including my latest shorts Spectacular Fire and You're So Mummy visit:

Gene, who is working in LA, e-mailed me, I don't know how to let George Bush know it, but the villain in The Dream Hat bears an uncanny resemblance to him.

A BOB CLAMPETT TV CARTOON INSPIRED AN AC/DC SONG Paul Naas read in the January '09 issue of Guitar World that Angus Young of AC/DC said, "Other AC/DC song ideas have come from the strangest places down through the years. The classic Dirty Deeds Done Dirty Cheap, for instance, was inspired by the sixties children's television cartoon Beany and Cecil. It was a cartoon when I was a kid, Angus says. There's a character in it called Dishonest John. He used to carry this card with 'Dirty Deeds Done Dirt Cheap - Special Rates, Holidays' written on it. I stored up a lot of these things in my brain. I picked out the things I liked best."

ASIFA-SF.ORG HAS HAD A GREAT YEAR by Joe Sikoryak, webmaster and design consultant Our redesigned website at ASIFA-SF.ORG is celebrating its first year of operation with some great results. Web traffic on the site has doubled since the redesign and we've gotten praise from the likes of Jerry Beck at Cartoon Brew, Vesna Dovnikovic, ASIFAs Secretary General, and many visitors along the way. We've also tripled the number of members that link their sites to our members gallery, but we've got room for lots more---so what are you waiting for? If you have a blog, a website or other web presence send your links to along with a 96 x 96 pixel gif (animated is okay, of course!) and you can join the party at

And The CableCartoon, the official blog of ASIFA-SF continues to roll along with new posts every week, featuring the latest news of upcoming events as well as "Character Sheets", profiles of members so you can get to know your fellow animators. Recent profiles have included members David Chong, Steve Segal, Sabrina Cecchini and Geoff Clark, with more to come. You can subscribe via RSS and other means so you never miss an entry. All aboard for online fun and information!

MONSTRA (LISBON) SEEKS STUDENT WORK Monstra is one of Nancy Phelps favorite festivals. The next one is March 915. There are no fees, they show DVDs and have a Jan. 15 deadline,

CLAY ANIMATED FEATURE BY ADAM HARVIE KRUMPET ELLIOT TO OPEN SUNDANCE 2009! Elliot's Mary and Max features the voices of Philip Seymour Hoffman and Toni Collette as pen pals. She is a lonely 8-year old chubby girl living in Australian and he is a middle-aged obese New Yorker with Aspergers Syndrome. Sundance begins January 15 with Mary and Max as the opening night film.

Elliot's first feature is a story based on his 20 plus years of personal experiences as a pen pal. Barry Humphries, an Australian drag Queen who voiced Bruce the Shark in Pixars Finding Nemo, narrates the tale, which was produced by Melanie Coombs and features a cameo from Eric Bana.

Geoffrey Gilmore, Sundance Film Festivals director, said, "This portrait of a global friendship between two marvelously dysfunctional people is an exceptionally moving, funny and thought-provoking work. Mary and Max is the first film of its kind to open the festival and we anticipate audiences will embrace Adam Elliot's feature-length directorial debut for its poignant story, exceptional voice talent and technological creativity."

Eliot said, "By Opening Night it will have been five years since Melanie and I began working on the film. It has been a whale of a pregnancy and we are so thrilled that the birth will be in Sundance. It is a dream come true to unveil our film in such an honored and nourishing environment."

The feature was filmed in just 57 weeks in Melbourne, Australia using a large team of set and model builders, armature designers and sculptors. They created over 1500 sets, props and characters.

Harvie Krumpet, a wonderful humorous work that screened at Sundance in 2003, won the Oscar for Best Animated Short of 2003. (Coombs also produced it.) Elliot has won numerous awards for his work including Australian Film Institute animated short film awards for Harvie Krumpet, Uncle, Cousin and Brother.

Both Harvie Krumpet and Mary and Max have characters with mental and/or physical handicaps. Asperger's syndrome (or AS) is characterized by difficulties in social interaction and restricted, stereotyped patterns of behavior and interests. Although not mentioned in standard diagnostic criteria for AS, physical clumsiness and atypical use of language are frequently reported.

Adam Elliot is creating a website where you can look at the world of Mary and Max.

BOLT OFF TO A SLOWER THAN EXPECTED START While the box office race isnt over until early January, industry watchers are concerned that a $27 million opening weekend for Bolt in the US is cause for concern. That sum is considerably less than expected for a major animated feature opening in November. The film opened with good (not terrific) reviews and the trades have been running articles that film is a recession proof industry. I suspect once kids are out of school ticket sales will pick up.

HAPPY FEET 2 TO BE MADE IN AUSTRALIA The Australian government has granted a tax break to filmmaker George Miller to make Happy Feet 2 in their country. At least 430 jobs over the next three years will be created according to Miller. Work begins in January.

THE BUSINESS OF ANIMATION by KC Im fascinated by the mentality of CEO Jeffrey Katzenberg who terminated his relationship with Aardman after the Wallace and Gromit feature failed to make enough money to satisfy his lust for it. (It made enough to keep most mortals thinking they were rich.) Just before Halloween DreamWorks Animation SKG Inc. posted better-than-expected third-quarter profits. Most of the profit was from Kung Fu Panda taking in about $63.3 million overseas in the quarter. The company is pleased, but Reuters noted that Shrek the Third made more in that quarter a year ago. Dream Works net income for this quarter was $37.4 million compared with $47 million a year ago. Katzenberg calls Kung Fu Panda DreamWorks Animation's most successful original film of all time and he notes it has generated $630 million worldwide so far. He is looking forward to the upcoming DVD release of Panda and the Nov. 7 theatrical release of Madagascar: Escape 2 Africa. Wall Street analysts expect Madagascar 2 to make around $500 million in worldwide ticket sales. You will also be glad to know the company is happy with better than expected domestic pay TV revenues for Bee Movie and tax benefits. Nowhere is there a discussion of aesthetic values of their products

THE GROWTH OF S-3D FILMS MAY SLOW DUE TO THE ECONOMY Katzenberg remains bullish on 3-D films even though financing for an industry-wide digital cinema upgrade is facing challenges in the current credit environment. DreamWorks Animation has pledged to make all future films in S-3D at an expected cost of an extra $15 million per film. Their first S-3D film will be Monsters vs. Aliens, coming out in March 2009.

Katzenberg would like to see 5,000 S-3D screens in the US, but presently only about 1,400 theaters have the equipment. The Regal Entertainment Group says digital cinema upgrades are being delayed due to economic downturns. Katzenberg told Reuters that, "Our distributor (Viacom Inc.'s Paramount) still has not changed their estimates. They expect there to be 2,500 3-D screens by the end of March," and that "even if there are only 1,400 screens ... we'll cover our costs.

JANET PERLMANS HOT SEAT IS NOW ON THE INTERNET Ron Diamond showed it as part of his Show of Shows. Hot Seat can now be seen on Liberty Mutual's "Responsibility Project" website along with her short Dinner for Two.

ASIFA KOREA HELD AN IMPRESSIVE 3-DAY INTERNATIONAL ANIMATION DAY CELEBRATION They showed programs by independent animators from 10 countries (China, Croatia, France, Hungary, Poland, Portugal, Russia, Sweden and the USA) and held 2 workshops.

SIGGRAPH 2009 SEEKS WORK, PAPERS, ETC. It will be in New Orleans, August the convention center. Deadlines begin in Jan. 8 for art papers. Films are due March 4.

IMAX SIGNS 5 PICTURE DEAL WITH DISNEY The 1st films will be Robert Zemeckis' 3D retelling of A Christmas Carol next Nov; Alice In Wonderland from Tim Burton and The Prince Of Persia from Mike Newell and Jerry Bruckheimer.. All will be in 3-D.


Animation Unleashed by Ellen Besen could be useful for veteran animators as well as beginners. It has examples of lots of things we forget that would enhance a scene. It also goes into the psychology of why certain techniques work. She has worked a lot for the National Film Board of Canada so she gives equal weight to Hollywood cartoons and fine art animation including a nice section on abstract animation.

There are lots of books on beginning animation, but Beginning Animation by Mary Murphy has some good illustrations of some funky homemade techniques of mixed media and a good section on movement cycles in clay. It's a good book for teachers of kids to have in their library.

Both books are aware of books that already exist and try to avoid redundancy.

I think that Eric Goldberg's book has goosed some publishers into putting a lot of good books on animation and cartooning out there in time for Christmas, including: graphic novelist Kyle Baker's How To Draw Stupid (And Other Essentials of Cartooning) and the hilarious How To Draw and Paint Crazy Cartoon Characters by Vincent Woodcock.

Any of these books would be good for animators or cartoonists' Christmas stockings.

ANIMATION IN QUESTIONABLE TASTE FROM INDIA Animation Express writes, If the entire US election fracas, where the election-poll hungry monkeys mongering for votes on TV, Internet and radio have been driving you up the wall, Games2win brings you a game that will allow you to give them a piece of your mind. Election Slap is a game that will drive that itch in your hand away. The game invites people eager to slap the 'celebrities' of the US presidential elections; Palin, Obama, Hillary, McCain and George Bush, and have fun at the same time The idea is not to be malicious in anyway and is not to be taken in a literal sense. It is essentially slap-stick humor. The online paper says it took 5 days for the company to think up and produce the game and that it is a stress reliever for anyone looking for a good laugh. The background score and the slap sound used, peps up the fun element of the game The game can also be downloaded and played offline. So, go make yourselves slaphappy people!

READ NEWS UPDATES ON OUR BLOG Includes color photos of Richard Williams at the Balboa

MARJANE PERSEPOLIS SATRAPI DESIGNED THE FALL ISSUE OF ALL STORY The magazine is published by Francis Ford Coppolas Zoetrope. She also provided illustrations (drawings and paintings). Cartoon Brew says it is available at some bookstores and from Zoetropes website.

THE ANIMATION WORLD HAS LOST A GOOD FRIEND On Nov. 12 Emru Townsend (1969-2008), created Canadas excellent scholarly animation magazine FPS (Frames Per Second), which later became a web publication. He had leukemia and while his bone marrow transplant was successful, it didnt succeed in licking his cancer. I was pleased to be a contributor to FPS over the years as Emru recognized animation as something much greater than film as just a form of popular entertainment. When he became ill his sister Tamu took over as editor and continued his work. She also took time to keep the animation world informed about his struggle and when I met her in September in Ottawa I was quite impressed with her intellect as well as her love and support for her brother. I think what bothers me the most about his passing is that he was quite young and there was so much more work he might have done in support of animation as a great art form.

Janeann Dill, an animation scholar who founded the The Institute for Interdisciplinary Art and Creative Intelligence, writes, An extraordinary family surrounding an extraordinary man: Emru Townsend, died peacefully last night. A dear friend to many and a beautiful soul, Emru made his transition on November 12, 2008 ... a sweet and brilliant man who was more focused on life than death. In its Latin roots, to animate means to give life to and Emru was a man who animated life, even in his death. From the moment Emru and Tamu, his sister, learned of his having leukemia they made public Emru's journals as he wrote about his process. Emru's tenacity of spirit for good to replace any sense of remorse in response to this illness showed up as he instigated a world-wide campaign for awareness and support of bone marrow transplants, while, unselfishly and generously, he gave of himself as a father, a husband, a brother, and a son. This was a courageous man who would prefer we dance the night away in tribute to his life rather than mourn the sadness of his death, although we will inevitably feel the loss of such a vital force. So let's dance ... let's animate, let's give life to ... in honor of a man more focused on life than death. Janeann Dill is posting notes from others who knew Emru on her website at

Chris Robinson, artistic director of the Ottawa International Animation Festival wrote, Animation lost a pal the other night... and more than that the world lost another good person. And I don't mean that in a glib, he's dead so let's say only nice things sorta way. Emru Townsend was truly a good person. He was compassionate, sharing and positive to the point of making me uncomfortable (hey, that's just me. It's easier to be cynical). We weren't buddies, pals, chums, bros, but we did know each other for about 12 years. I am forever grateful to Emru for being the first person to publish my writing on animation. It was in his beloved magazine FPS. I submitted a piece just for the heck of it and was quite pleased when Emru accepted it. It gave me confidence as a writer and told me that, hey, maybe this is a path I want to explore. So, selfishly, I thank you for that Emru.

What's with animation losing good young people lately? Helen Hill. Wendy Jackson Hall. Emru Townsend. I guess the gods above, below and beyond don't like the toons. It's not fair. It sucks.


While Bill was in SF I recorded a great interview with him about the making of his new film and his other projects. Im scheduled to interview the director of Waltz With Bashier in December. In November Nancy Denney-Phelps attended an important conference and ASIFA board meeting in China.. In December more travels are planned (they leave on the 25th for Budapest and Vienna), so stay tooned. KC


Recently over beers an animator told me Rotoscoping isnt animation, it is just copying. That is an argument that probably dates back to shortly after Max Fleischer invented the technique and patented it Dec. 6, 1915. The device projected live action footage on a ground glass, allowing an artist on the other side to trace the images onto paper, one frame at a time. When Walt Disney made Snow White the device was used extensively during the production, but when it was released, the technique was not discussed for fear that the press and public might think the artists were somehow cheating.

Getting back to the animator at the bar, I asked him if a rotoscoped film could ever be accepted as animation. He thought for a minute and then said it can become an art form if the artist modifies the image in some way. If frames are taken out or gestures changed.

I wondered how much prejudice exists today about the rotoscope techniques, so I asked Chris Robinson, noted author and director of the Ottawa International Animation Festival, if he thought some people still had negative attitudes about it. He wrote back, yes, I suspect there is a bit of a bias out there, but those people are twits. Its really not an issue, in my view. He later said, These people also moaned about Bob Sabistons digital rotoscope work in Waking Life and A Scanner Darkly.


When I asked Dennis if he had experienced prejudice about his use of rotoscope in his award winning Chainsaw, he said, It seems like it. What I would like to do is have a conversation with people who object to rotoscoping. Its not something Ive been lucky enough to have so far. Dennis believes a lot of people who have never rotoscoped footage think of it as cheating. He says, Lots of filmmaking is cheating through editing, actors standing on boxes, using low camera angels Cheating is a fundamental tool of directing. Most movies are a cheat.

Rotoscoping for Dennis is not a labor saving device. Its all time consuming. Rotoscoping is basically copying live action into animation. I only use rotoscoping to achieve a realistic movement of people and things. The images have the advantage that you can then design the look that you want and you can leave out what stuff you dont want to have. Leaving out is the most critical difference between live action and animation. With live action you get whatever is in the frame unless you get involved with special effects to get rid of stuff. Animation is painted images that are selective. Thats the number one difference between drawing and photography. Rotoscoping is extremely useful halfway between the two, when you combine the form, time and space of cinema with a malleable image. He then pointed out that in his work he doesnt keep the live action image he filmed in any of those forms. I change the image, the timing, and the composition so it works frame by frame. This is the animation process. Thats why I think it is a very valuable tool. Its really weird to hear that somehow my work is illegal.

In Chainsaw I didnt want a caricature of a person, I wanted a person to look a certain way which is why I used rotoscope. Another advantage is you dont go off model. When Max Fleischer invented the tracing device he noted that it would be an important tool to aid artists in getting and keeping proportions right, especially if there was foreshortening of arms or complex perspective problems.

Dennis has put together a split-screen reel of his reference footage and the final footage. It was made for a lecture he gave at the University of Southern California. It was easy to see major differences between the live action footage and the animated images based on it. Instead of basing his timing on the reference footage he created key frames and the movements were drawn on eights, sixteens, etc. When you look at his image of a bucking bull you see that he slowed it down and simplified details of the animals muscle structure. Also light and shadow is abstracted so the bull becomes a handsome simplified form.

Although much of Chainsaw takes place outdoors, all of the reference footage was either stock footage or new footage shot in a studio. The convertible in the film that races across the landscape was based on a classic car that he filmed while it was standing still on the stage. The womans scarf blowing in the wind was made to move by using wires.

Trees were too heavy to bring into the shooting stage. You would need a crane to lift them, so Dennis had to be creative in creating that live action reference footage. A small stump on a metal stand represented the tree that his lumberjack was cutting. Also for safety sake the upper part of the tree was cardboard. The alternative would have been to go out into the bush and chop down real trees which we were not very keen on. He noted that to take an actor outdoors and film footage with real trees falling would be dangerous and the insurance would have been quite expensive.

The house that is seen in the films climax sequence began as 3 drawings by an architect. One was a front view, the second a side view and the third was the house destroyed. I made everything else up. We talked about making a 3D cgi model of the house, but it was too much work. Instead he drew the house footage using a 2D computer program. It was a lot of work for me to lay it out. He also notes that he wanted to stretch the sequence of the house falling out as much as possible within reason as that inter-cuts with the couple flying around in the air, which is a funny thing.

An ironic point Dennis mentioned is that all his early work was hand-drawn and he had only used rotoscoping in some of his commercial work. Nobody thought his early work was based on reference footage, but now that he uses the rotoscope in his own work, several writers have assumed his earlier films, including Darra Dogs (1993) was rotoscoped. It wasnt.


There are some films that use rotoscope differently, in a way that makes the distinction between live action and animation more confusing. In Year of the Fish, which went into limited release in the US in 2008 (it has opened in 5 or 6 cities in the US), the filmmaker shot a live action feature on an inexpensive live-action video system and then hired three part-time employees who animated the film over a 6-month period using four Macintosh G5 computers and two Wacom tablets. The images were used as a guide for digital painting over them in post-production. The images were simply changed by putting washes of color over them. Wrinkles in the face of an old lady were emphasized by drawing over them. The basic shapes of the heads in the film and timing were not altered. Director David Kaplan says the aesthetic effect is less like a graphic novel and more like a painting brought to life. Instead of the flat use of color seen in Richard Linklaters rotoscoped Waking Life and A Scanner Darkly, Kaplans aesthetic is washes of color that can at times move about independently over the live action footage. It premiered at the 2007 Sundance Film Festival.


I dont think I really need to discuss this issue as it, like rotoscope work, depends upon how the technology is used. When the Robert Zemeckis films Polar Express (2004) and Monster House (2006) came out a lot of people felt that the use of motion capture technology was creating lifeless puppets of humans, especially when the characters stood still. Since then features have used the technology to better advantage by reworking the mocap images on computers so they look better. Films like Happy Feet had many scenes that were animated entirely by artists. I assume the next big budget films using mo cap will be even more sophisticated hybrids of art and technology. I hope that it will not matter at the Oscars if Disneys hand drawn The Princess and the Frog goes up against Zemeckis A Christmas Carol. Hopefully the films will compete on their artistic, storytelling and entertaining merits and not on how traditional or advanced the technology is.

Of course we can expect lower budget mo cap features in the future that some animators and hopefully critics will find unattractive and hopefully they will say so. But like it or not the technology is here to stay.

I can see a day when the Academy will have to address the issue of how to categorize Hollywood feature films that are hybrids made using photo-realistic techniques that are neither live action photography or animation. Perhaps someday there will only be one category for best feature and no category called best-animated feature. Or there will be separate categories for hybrid photo-real features and films using 2D animation and other techniques.





Saturday, December 6, 2008

At the Cartoon Art Museum
1 to 3 pm (talk begins at 1:15)
655 Mission, between New Montgomery and 3rd St.
ASIFA members $3 instead of $6 (bring your newsletter as proof of membership)

The Cartoon Art Museum welcomes Eric Goldberg, the award-winning animator/director whose cartoon magic has graced such classics as Disneys Aladdin, Pocahontas, Fantasia/2000 and Hercules. Goldberg will share with us some of animations secrets and discuss his new book Character Animation Crash Course! His book and accompanying CD are jammed packed with the insights and methods needed to bring lines to life - information useful to students, professionals and even animation fans.

Goldberg is currently supervising animator on the character Louis, the trumpet-playing alligator, in Disneys upcoming hand-drawn animated feature The Princess and the Frog slated for a 2009 holiday release. He has also just released his long-awaited book with CD, Character Animation Crash Course!, through Silman-James Press, based on his widely-used animation notes. It is heavily illustrated and it has gotten excellent reviews. It covers how characters are conceived and endowed with strong and unforgettable personalities as they are brought to life. The CD of animated movie clips demonstrates in real-time or frame-by-frame Goldbergs approach to the principles of animation. He says this is the first time actual animation has been used to illustrate the process.

This is the book I wish I had when I was first learning my craft, he says. The first part stresses the thought and preparation required to animate, and the second part is a no-nonsense manual describing classic animation techniques, all in the service of getting great performances from the characters.

The authors witty observations combined with his wealth of knowledge gleaned from 30-plus years in the animation industry make Character Animation Crash Course! a valuable journey from a blank sheet of paper or an empty computer screen to something that anyone can recognize as a living, breathing and emoting creature.

Eric began his love of animation as a kid creating flipbooks and eventually Super 8 movies that won top prizes in the Kodak Teenage Movie Awards, including 1974s Grand Prize, a summer film program at the University of Southern California.

After attending Pratt Institute in Brooklyn, NY where he majored in illustration, Eric became an assistant animator on Raggedy Ann and Andy, directed by Richard Williams. When the film was completed, Eric joined Williams in London as a director-animator. He worked on countless television spots. He eventually moved to Los Angeles to serve as Director of Animation on the Emmy-winning Ziggys Gift. After dozens of other projects in LA and London he landed a job with Disney that lasted 10 years. His first Disney assignment was Supervising Animator of the wisecracking Genie in Aladdin. On Fantasia 2000 he directed, wrote and animated two critically acclaimed sequences: Carnival of the Animals and Rhapsody in Blue. The Gershwin piece was created with the legendary caricaturist Al Hirschfeld, who served as artistic consultant. While he was gone from Disney he worked on projects for Warner Bros., Universal and other studios.

While you are at the museum plan to see their exhibit of nearly 200 pieces of art from the Totoro Forest Project and animation art from their permanent collection.


Newsletter Editor: Karl Cohen
Contributors: Paul Naas, Gene Hamm, Nancy Denney-Phelps and other friends of ASIFA-SF.
Cover illustration by Ricci Carrasquillo
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Special thanks to: RICHARD WILLIAMS and his wife MO SUTTON for their generous gift to our chapter of two 2-hour programs at the Balboa in November. Thanks also to Gary Meyer of the Balboa for hosting the benefit for our chapter. It was a wonderful event and about 500 people got to enjoy learning a bit more about animation that day. Also thanks to Gene Deitch for his excellent program later in the month. Thanks also to Tara Beyhm our VP, to our treasurer Karen Lithgow, to The G Man for sending out our e-mail updates, to Nancy Denney-Phelps for representing our chapter on the international ASIFA board, to Patricia Satjawatcharapjong who posts excerpts from our newsletter on the International ASIFA website
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