Association International du Film d'Animation
(International Animated Film Association)

October 2011

This issue includes an article on SIGGRAPH 2011, THE LATEST REVELATIONS ABOUT OUTSOURCING ANIMATION JOBS FROM THE US, TWO RECENT REPORTS ARE CRITICAL OF CHILDREN'S TV, lots of shorter news items, obituaries (including memories of Don Albrecht as the last item in this issue), and our flyer (minus illustrations) for our Animation Day Celebration - Ron Diamond's 13th Annual Animation Show of Shows

THE 13th ANIMATED SHOW OF SHOWS IS COMING IN OCTOBER (35MM & DIGITAL PROJECTION) For the past 12 years ASIFA-SF has been presenting "The Animation Show of Shows" organized by Ron Diamond of and Acme Filmworks in LA. For several months Ron has been travelling to international animation festivals seeking out great films and meeting the animators, so expect another outstanding members' only program on Oct. 20. Come see the exceptional works Ron has acquired.

This is our International Animation Day celebration. It was started in 2002 by ASIFA members in Paris and has grown into a global event celebrating the art of animation. Oct. 28th is the official day of the celebration as it commemorates Emile Reynauds' first public performance of his Theatre Optique at the Grevin Museum , Paris , in 1892. See the last page of this issue for our events location and program details.

MICHAEL LANGAN Michael now lives in Seattle and he really loves the area. He is just finishing a dance film and will shoot Butler Woman Man at an impressive chateau in France in October. Motionographer mentioned his Heliotropes going online and Atlantic's video site has posted an intelligent interview with him. Also make sure to see on his site his amazing ad Monolith.

ANIMATORS WHOSE WORK WAS SHOWN IN THE BAY AREA ANIMATION PROGRAMS IN AUGUST AT THE PACIFIC FILM ARCHIVE, ALSO HAVE WORK ONLINE. Check out these web addresses if you want to see more of their work and Google their names to learn more about these artists.

Jane Aaron has a really inventive promo reel of work made for public television, Nick at Night and others at Some of her amazing shorts are online including Set in Motion (1987) and Traveling Light (1985).

David Chai's website includes early films, information and still images.

Webster Colcord's website has lots of recent commercial work posted. His earlier personal and commercial work is mentioned on and

Vince Collins has a delightfully wild site and links to his new and older films. His Malice in Wonderland has been seen online now by over 725,000 people.

Charlie Corriea has a 30 second trailer for Fu-De (The Brush)

Sally Cruckshank's website is full of old and new work plus things for sale including a DVD of her work and original cels.

Larry Cuba His Calculated Movements (excerpt) is posted at John Whitney's Arabesque, programmed by Larry, is posted at . Larry is also known as the creator of the "Death Star" in the first Star Wars feature. It was made using experimental graphics computers at Electronic Visualization Lab. His home page is

Tom Gibbons says he hasn't updated his website in years, but he has a somewhat active blog. One blog sequence is challenging a friend to do "An Animation a Week" starting last January. He says, "That way we were both compelled to learn FLASH. But, "We have since given up doing this as it was sucking up all of our spare time."

Tim Hittle, who works at Pixar, has his stop-motion Jay Clay trilogy online at

Patrick Lake has a demo reel with excerpts of Pirate Scum included. It is posted at

John Jota Leanos' site includes high resolution copies of his fine animated films and other work. He teaches at UC Santa Cruz.

Stephanie Maxwell's homepage is

Paul Naas' Rabbit Test can be seen on Vimeo at

Seth Olitzky has two computer generated shorts posted. Eights is at Mass Hysteria -

Nina Paley updates her website regularly with news ranging from her plan to use Kickstarter to raise money for a new film to her legal problem in Germany . There are links to her merchandise, films and much more.

Steve Segal says his website is pretty basic, but worth a visit.

KERNER OPTICAL HAS CLOSED Variety reports Kerner had been in Chapter 11, but failed to reorganize. The present company had been owned since 2006 by Mark Anderson, a model-maker. Prior to Anderson it was the home of George Lucas' ILM. Unfortunately Anderson's company was losing around one million dollars per year. CEO Eric Edmeades says that Kernercam, which supplies 3D camera rigs, Kerner Pictures the production firm and Kernerworks, which makes trauma dummies are still in business.

WHAT IF STEVE JOBS WERE TO RETIRE FROM PIXAR? A Hollywood Reporter article (Sept. 13) speculated on Job's impact on Hollywood and his importance to Disney and Pixar. He has given the Disney board sound advice in the past including their buying rather than leasing cruise ships, a huge expense that proved to be quite profitable. He headed the deal for Disney to buy Pixar for $7.4 billion in stock, another wise move. He is said to be a highly respected adviser to Robert Iger, CEO of Disney, owns 7.3% of Disney and is on their board. Even though his health problems have kept him from attending most Disney board meetings in recent years he is trusted by shareholders and was recently reelected to that board.

The point the author stresses about Job's importance to Pixar is, "Without Jobs, animation guru John Lasseter would lose an ally at a critical time, coming off the relatively disappointing performance of Cars 2. The bureaucracy doesn't like how much Pixar films cost," says an insider. "But no one will mess with Lasseter with Jobs around."

Cars 2 has already taken in over $547 million while it cost about $200 million to make. Cars (2006) took in $462 million at the box office and only cost about $120 million. The film may not make an obscene profit for the corporation from ticket sales, but when the Disney board adds up the corporation's income from future DVD sales, merchandise profits, royalty payments, rentals to airlines, etc. they should be happy millionaires.


CALIFORNIA COLLEGE OF ARTS HAS A NEW HEAD OF THEIR ANIMATION PROGRAM He is Rick Vertolli who comes from Chico State where he developed the 3D program. Rick is from Canton, Ohio, where he worked in a steel mill before going to college. He obtained a BFA in painting and sculpture, moved to San Francisco , he found a job at the Legion of Honor and created handmade paper in his studio apartment at night.

He says, "In 1980, before Macintosh computers, before Pixar, almost even before Star Wars, I walked on the Chico State University campus with one idea in mind: I wanted to create art with a computer. Back then the only way to gain access to image-processing computers was through the engineering department. Unlike today, there were no labs full of computers - just one lab with three, and usually this meant waiting for access during the day. But at night, between 1 and 9 a.m., I owned the lab. I could program on one system and print from the others. Inside the lab stood the Dubner CBG. Pieced together with hand-soldered circuit boards, boasting 64KB of memory, costing the university over $150,000, only 100 of these computers existed in the world."

"By hook or crook, I was going to create art on this computer. And so I did. For the next 25 years, through countless upgrades and endless hours, working with a handful of dedicated artists and starry-eyed interns, we created animation that inspired, captivated, and told a story."

Andrew Lyndon, who is the outgoing animation chair, has been made the school's Director of Fine Arts.

AN INTERVIEW WITH GENE HAMM was on a segment of TV Confidential that aired Sept. 21-27. He was talking about Created Equal, his documentary about the art and artists of Alchemia. Julie Newmar, who narrates the documentary, was interviewed in another segment of the program. She talked about her new book "The Conscious Catwoman Explains Life On Earth." (Yes, Julie was a star of the Batman TV series.)

WONDERCON 2012 MOVING TO ANAHEIM - The Moscone Center will undergo renovations in early 2012.


Wed. Oct. 5, 7:30 Paul Sharits: Early Work Introduced by Federico Windhausen. Sharits's early films make provocative reference to sexuality, violence, and self-destruction amidst striking formal experimentation. Includes Razor Blades, Word Movie/Flux Film, T,O,U,C,H,I,N,G, and Inferential Current. An intense 50 minute program at the Pacific Film Archive.


Sun. Oct 9, 2:30 PM and Sun. Oct 16, 2:15 PM, Light of the River, Tetsuo Hirakawa , Japan . "A warmhearted, amusing animated adventure about finding your way in a strange world. A family of rats must leave the riverbank for the city, providing gentle lessons about trust, longing and discovering one's strengths and proper home." At the Throckmorton Theatre, 142 Throckmorton Ave. Mill Valley

Hard Times (a 5@5 program)

Mon. Oct 10, 2011 at 5 PM at the Smith Rafael Film Center in San Rafael and Fri. Oct 14, 2011 at 5 PM at the Sequoia Theatre in Mill Valley.

This program of nine animated shorts includes:

Pop, Rachel Moore, Canada, is an abstract journey through history.

Floyd The Android by Jonathan Lyons who lives in San Rafael . Floyd is a robot who gets into crazy situations. In "Teleporter" Floyd gets tangled up by a novelty teleporter. In "Dim Bulb" Floyd attempts to change a light bulb at the top of a preposterously tall skyscraper.

Zapped! Zeke Norton , Canada , is a demo for Rainmaker Studio's 3D CGI work. It is on the Internet.

The Death Of An Insect, Hannes Vartiainen and Pekka Veikkolainen, Finland, a ballet of a newly hatched butterfly about to die, constructed using insects parts, stop-motion, 3D models and CT-scans of insects.

Christmas Piggy, R.S. S öderström from Denmark. On Christmas Eve the pig escapes with the family at its heels.

A Morning Stroll, Grant Orchard, UK, the story of a New Yorker's early morning encounter with a chicken

I am Round, Mario Adamson, Sweden, Mathilda is round unlike everyone else. She tries to fit in without success. One day she meets Alex who is round¦

Seven Days In The Woods, Peter Larsson, Sweden, "There's a creature made of sticks, a giant boy inside a tiny room, and the forest is a damp and raw place, kind of like the Stone Age."

uminaris, Juan Pablo Zaramella, Argentina, a prize winner at Annecy 2011, an exciting looking trailer can be seen at

(It is only for ASIFA-SF members and your guests see flyer)

Oct. 21-23, NY/SF INTERNATIONAL CHILDREN'S FILM FESTIVAL includes lots of animation including Tales of the Night, Michel Ocelot's first film in 3D as their big opening night feature (Letterman Theatre). See SF Film Festival's website for the full festival program.

Castro Theater, October 20th - October 26th

Friday Oct. 21, 9:15 pm, "Miramare" by Michaela Mueller, Switzerland (2010), 8min, 35mm, no dialogue A look at life in Europe where tourists try to relax while illegal immigrants struggle for a better life. (Precedes How About Love)

Sun., Oct. 23, 11:00am, THE TIGERDUCK GANG (Die Tigerentenbande) Children's Film matinee, International Premiere, Germany (2011), 69 min., in German, English subtitles. Together, the gang can master any challenge that comes their way. They have to face The Gringos, the biggest bullies in school, and Mice-Sheriff Browning, who desires Tigerduck's magical powers. Experience the glorious adventures of a colorful group of friends who stick together through thick and thin! Based on a popular German animated TV series by Janosch.

Wednesday Oct. 26, 4:30, "The Visit" (Der Besuch) To the horror of her son, an old woman cooks up a meal in the middle of the night for her long-deceased friends. (precedes Lila, Lila)

Oct. 29 - 31, A SCARY, SILLY, SPOOKY HALLOWEEN AT THE WALT DISNEY FAMILY MUSEUM They will show nine animated shorts (1929 -"52) including Night on Bald Mountain (from Fantasia, 1940), Pluto's Judgment Day (1935) and The Mad Doctor (1933).


BUZZCO ASSOCIATES HAS POSTED "LITTLE PIGGIES" ON VIMEO It is an excellent one-minute comment on the recent stalemate in Congress. "Greed and self interest has eclipsed social responsibility in DC. What's good for the country has been replaced with what's good for ME. And the almighty dollar has trumped everything!"

DISNEY IS INVESTIGATING CLAIMS OF HUMAN RIGHTS ABUSES AT A TOY FACTORY IN CHINA THAT MAKES SOME OF THEIR MERCHANDISE In late August Disney announced that it will investigate allegations of human rights abuse at the Sturdy Products factory in China where merchandise for Cars, Toy Story and other of their films are being made. reports that following an employee's suicide, an undercover investigation was conducted and it revealed child labor and excessive overtime totaling 120 extra hours per month. Employees also reported that they were forced to use dangerous chemicals and were not given protective equipment. Additionally, they were told to hide adhesives and thinners when clients came to visit.

Mattel and Walmart also use the factory for products. The human rights group Students and Scholars Against Corporate Misbehavior conducted the investigative report.

"FILMS FOR HOPE" WAS HELD IN NYC TO SUPPORT JAPAN SOCIETY'S EARTHQUAKE RELIEF FUND "Films for Hope" showcased animated short films from all around the world that display the creativity of artists inspired by Japanese animation techniques and storytelling. The festival presented the East Coast premiere of Pixar's animated short film, La Luna. Director Enrico Casarosa was on hand to give a presentation on La Luna.

Dai Sato presented Five Numbers!, his new animated feature. Mr. Sato talked about his efforts to help those impacted by the earthquake and he shared his thoughts on how the disaster will impact the animation industry of Japan.

The festival was a joint initiative of the Film Program and the U.S.-Japan Innovators Network. Fifty percent of all proceeds were to go to Japan Society's Earthquake Relief Fund. The films were graciously donated in support of the project.

BROTHERS QUAY JUST PREMIERED THEIR FIRST PRODUCTION MADE IN THE US Through the Weeping Glass: On the Consolations of Life Everlasting is a documentary on a bizarre collection of medical oddities from the past in the Mutter Museum in Philadelphia. The 35mm film is voiced by Sir Derek Jacobi and was commissioned by The College of Physicians of Philadelphia. It premiered September 22 at the college and on Sept. 24 & 25 at The Museum of Modern Art in New York.

"THE LION KING," A 17 YEAR OLD FILM WAS RE-RELEASED IN 3D. IT MADE ABOUT TWICE AS MUCH ITS OPENING WEEKEND AS THE SECOND PLACE FILM! Disney took in almost $30.15 million, the 4th highest Sept. opening ever! Steven Soderbergh's medical thriller Contagion came in second with $14.55 million. The Lion King is being shown to help promote sales of the BluRay edition of the feature that goes on sale Oct. 4. "Experts" expected The Lion King to gross only $12 to $14 million.

The second weekend it was still the top grossing film. It took in $21.9 million, only a 27% drop from the first weekend. It did $61.7 million in 10 days. Adding in the total from the original release 17 years ago, it has now made $390 million making it #12 on the all time best domestic box office chart.

Meanwhile on Sept 26, The Smurfs took the foreign box office crown for the seventh straight weekend. It now has a worldwide gross of $502.08 and cost $110 to make. Cars 2 has grossed $550 million and cost around $200 million.

DISNEY TO BUILD AN AVATAR LAND ATTRACTION IN FLORIDA The first Avatar attraction will be inside the Animal Kingdom Park. Disney said this location was chosen due to "its emphasis on living in harmony with nature." Construction will start in 2013.

GKIDS TO DISTRIBUTE 13 MIYAZAKI CLASSICS THEATRICALLY IN THE US The Disney rights have expired and Gkids has picked them up so hopefully we will get to see Princess Mononoke, My Neighbor Totoro, Castle in the Sky, Spirited Away and his other wonderful films again on big screens. Gkids distributes The Secrets of Kells in the US.

SEE PIONEERING COMPUTER ANIMATION MADE BEFORE PIXAR EXISTED Each month Cartoon Brew posts dozens of wonderful obscure works for us to discover. On Sept. 2 they posted historic footage by Ed Catmull and Fred Parke of Ed's hand rendered in 3D and of two heads. Ed and Fred were graduate students at the Univ. of Utah and this might be the oldest 3D CGI footage ever shot. The second part of the Sept. 2 article is about Vol Libre by Loren Carpenter, flying over a 3D landscape. It was made with George Lucas' computer equipment in 1980 and amazed all who saw it at SIGGRAPH that year.

OTTAWA 2011 We expect to have a report on the event by Corrie Francis in the Nov. newsletter. Moxie by Stephen Irwin (UK) won the best short award, "For its powerful combination of style and narrative, leaving a memorable impression." Dead but not Buried by Phil Mulloy (UK) was the best feature, "For its innovative way of filmmaking, bold use of minimalistic graphics, and original use of sound and subversive humor." Marv Newland won an honorable mention (he presented out May, 2011 event) and two films Ron Diamond is showing us on Oct. 20 won awards.

Visit us at from time to time. Joe, our webmaster posts last minute events and other things on interest to the animation community.

JOHN DILWORTH'S NEW SHORT IS "BUNNY BASHING" In Oscar-nominated Dilworth's latest animated short he casts himself as Spaceman Dilly, an intrepid space explorer who discovers a "wonderful" human activity called boxing. You get to beat your friends until they die! Has Dilworth played too much Whack a Mole? He is the creator of Dirdy Birdy, Courage the Cowardly Dog, The Chicken from Outer Space and Life in Transition. Bunny Bashing, which won ASIFA-East's humor award this year, is on several websites. His earlier delights can be seen at

THE LATEST REVELATIONS ABOUT OUTSOURCING ANIMATION JOBS FROM THE US On Sept. 2 Reuters ran the article, "United States loses video game jobs to Quebec." The main incentive for a company to move north is a tax credit. The article said, "According to the economic development agency Invest Quebec, 86 companies and 8,236 jobs have migrated to Quebec as a result of a government program under which 37.5 percent of a video game company's payroll is subsidized by the majority French-speaking province in the form of a refundable tax credit."

In other words the government of Quebec is paying Electronic Arts, THQ, Activision Blizzard and the other companies there 37.5 cents for every dollar they pay employees. They pay more if the company makes French versions of the product. Quebec spent $100 million on the program in 2010 and $89 million in 2009, substantially more than states in the US spend with similar incentive programs.

The NY Times on Sept. 11 ran "Rich Tax Breaks Bolster Makers of Video Games, Tech Value Questioned" as a front page article. In the US video game manufacturers are entitled to tax benefits including deductions, write-offs and tax credits. Video game companies get benefits designed for software developers, the entertainment industry and online retailers making it one of the most highly subsidized industries in the country.

Unfortunately that tax benefit is now being questioned by other corporations, including big oil companies who get fewer tax breaks. They point out that Electronic Arts grossed $1.2 billion in global profits for the game Dead Space 2 over the past five years, but could legally claim a net loss in the US over that period. Part of that loss was their paying out $98 million in taxes in other countries, having deferred revenue, deductions for stock options, etc. The paper says some tax experts say that defies common sense.

There are tax advantages to keeping administrative, research and development functions of corporations in the US including being able to write off their entire research and development expenses in one year instead of having to depreciate those expenses over several years. None-the-less Canada offers video game companies even greater subsidies in some areas.

Although some corporations and Congressmen may say the game industry is getting too many benefits, if the US is to remain competitive with developers in other countries, more tax breaks are needed. The paper says more than twenty states are now offering additional tax breaks to game companies to cover wages, development, and manufacturing costs. San Francisco dropped its payroll tax last year as an incentive to keep companies like Zynga from leaving the city.

The Entertainment Software Association is actively lobbying Congress to understand the needs of game developers. They eventually will ask that their industry should be entitled to tax breaks given film and television producers, but given the nation's budget problems, now is not the time to ask for that.

TWO RECENT REPORTS ARE CRITICAL OF CHILDREN'S TV The first by Dr. Dimitri Christakis from Seattle's Children's Hospital is a warning to parents that fast paced animation aimed at four-year-old kids can cause short-term attention and learning problems. The second is from the Parents Television Council. They continue to cry out that shows kids watch contain too much sex, drugs and profanity.

The Seattle study was small, using 60 kids. Some watched a nine-minute segment of SpongeBob, others a short segment of Cailliou, and a third group drew pictures. Then all were given a mental function test. Kids who watched SpongeBob "did measurably worse than the others." Previous research had linked long-term TV watching with attention problems in children, but the new study shows problems can develop from brief exposure to fast-paced animation. The article noted SpongeBob is designed for kids 6 to 11 and that the show should not be singled out as the problem has been observed in other fast-paced shows watched by four-year-olds.

I discussed this report with several people and one told me he made a pilot several years ago that consisted of 2 to 3 minute segments for three-years-olds. He said, "We made the segments move very slow and the test results with focus groups were stellar. The institution wrote best testing we ever had and it was a delight to test these films. For a long time young parents, even at film festivals, thanked me for them. The pilot never went into full production because, as the producers put it, it did not meet our sensibilities. I've been told that the films are still being shown and parents still write asking for more."

As for the report by the parents group, they are upset that "cartoons that target 12-year-olds make light of pedophilia, rape and prostitution, use profanity including the F-word and portray for comedic effect the use of crystal meth and cocaine." While they gave the Disney Channel and Nick at Nite high praise for their content created for children, they gave F grades to shows on (drum roll please) Adult Swim and Cartoon Network.

It turns out they admit Adult Swim is "ostensibly for adults," but state kids as young as 12 watch it during prime-time and they sometimes fail to warn the public about "raunchy content." Cartoon Network sinks even lower as they refuse to post warnings of sex and crude language 100% of the time! They studied the offending shows for three weeks and "determined that adult content is featured once every 2 minutes and 19 seconds."

The Parents Television Council has posted a compilation of what they consider "offending material" online. It contains scenes from Family Guy, American Dad, King of the Hill and The Venture Brothers. It is posted at: I found it boring and stupid and I suspect the "bad" material they present will not be understood by kids. is a pdf of the published report.

The PTC was also in the news in Sept. with another "shocking" story. A headline in the Hollywood Reporter read, "Families were led to believe the "X Factor' would be family-friendly programming and instead were assaulted by graphic nudity." The PTC filed an indecency complaint after a contestant dropped his pants while performing. But Fox ran a giant "X" logo covering his crotch and they blurred that area of his anatomy, so was the man nude? The PTC obviously thinks so and calls the act indecent. They point out that the outrage took place shortly after 9 pm when indecent content is prohibited on broadcast television.

WINNERS OF THE COVETED CARTOON D'OR PRIZE ARE WORKING ON A SEQUEL TO "THE GRUFFALO" Uwe Heidschoeher and Johannes Weiland's The Little Boy Blue won the award and 10,000 Euros. They are working on The Gruffalo's Child, a Christmas special.

ARI FOLMAN ("WALTZ WITH BASHIR") HAS FULL FUNDING FOR HIS NEXT FEATURE It will be based on Stanislaw Lem's dark science fiction tale The Congress about an apparent utopian world at war with rebels. The world turns out to be full of drug induced illusions that replace reality. It will be half-animation, half-live-action.

ANIMATED ZAGREB Their 22nd World Festival of Animated Film is dedicated to short animated films. It will be held from May 29 - June 3 in Zagreb, Croatia. No entry fee. Submission deadline is February 1, 2012. For further information and online submission forms visit


JORDAN BELSON (1926 - Sept. 6, 2011)

A REMARKABLE VISIONARY FILM ARTIST by KC Belson was a recluse, but his films were exceptional journeys into abstract worlds created with unusual animation and effects. His early films were single frame animation. Then he discovered how to create exquisite images with physical materials (lights reflected off moving water, the use of filters, mattes, optical printing and other techniques). Finally computer driven images appeared in his more recent works.

Belson's career included his doing Vortex Concerts, trippy light shows with experimental electronic music in the old Morrison Planetarium in Golden Gate Park long before San Francisco was known as a psychedelic center of the universe. The Vortex events date from 1957-59 and Henry Jacobs provided the music.

As his work matured and became more sophisticated it became accepted by fine art museums including the SF Museum of Modern Art, the Guggenheim Museum in NYC, the Tate in London and the Hirshhorn Museum in Washington, DC. For a major exhibit of visual music in 2005 at the Hirshhorn they commissioned Epilogue, his last work.

He tried to avoid images that the public could guess how they might have been created. In doing so he pushed his art in wonderful new directions. Belson loved combining his beautiful flowing imagery with magical sounding music and he tried to be a perfectionist in everything he created. He made over 30 wordless films between 1947 and 2005.

Belson's only commercial work was creating visual effects for The Right Stuff (1983). For once in his lifetime he got to work in 35mm and with somebody else's money. He had a great time working on the project. His footage in the film appears when an astronaut looks out a spaceship window and sees magical lights in space.

Belson the man

Belson was a very private person. Vince Collins met him when he brought his work to the Palmer Film Lab. He would thread up Belson's latest footage for him, but had to leave the room when it was shown. Belson didn't want others to see his footage.

Vince recalls another animator telling him about going to Belson's Telegraph Hill apartment to watch films. Belson turned off the lights and then nothing. Finally he said, "We are accustomizing our eyes to the dark."

I knew two Art Institute film students into Jamaican Rasta culture who hung out with Belson when they were in school. They once asked Belson how he created and manipulated his images. He was vague about his secrets. A few years later they were running the Larkin Theatre in SF and invited me to help present an evening of films by Belson and John Whitney. It was a wonderful event, but Belson did not wish to be present. Instead he called to say we were showing too many of his films.

There was a film editing viewer in the booth at the Larkin so we looked carefully at how his transcendental images were created. One mandala was created from footage of falling drops of water re-photographed over and over with an optical printer to create the circle. The original image was simply water shooting up into the air and falling back to earth from a fountain or garden hose.

I showed Belson's work several times in the 1970s and early "80s at Intersection in North Beach (756 Union, now a Korean church). Some of the prints came from Lee and Mary Meyers, a couple who represented his film work in their art gallery. (The gallery was above the Pagoda Theatre on Powell, a hall once famous for midnight live shows with the Cockettes ca. 1970-'72. My shows were held just around the corner.) Intersection was just a few blocks from where Belson lived and Lee and Mary were his friends, but he never attended the screenings of his work.

Lee told me Belson, the perfectionist, took forever to complete his films. He insisted his images be perfect and they are indeed remarkable.

I recently found out he could be just as fussy about his soundtracks. One of the past directors of Intersection was Doug McKechnie, who created an impressive soundtrack for Belson's film Light, 1973. I showed it several times. When Belson's DVD Essential Films was released I bought a copy. Light is on the DVD, but much to my surprise Doug's score had been replaced with someone else's music. When I met Doug a few months later he said he didn't know his score had been replaced. Perhaps Belson had decided his old work could even be better.

The last time I saw Belson was in the early 1980s. He came to my house while an artists' salon was in progress. It was for friends of Jeffrey Chandler, an up and coming visionary painter (imaginary cosmic occurrences in outer space) who was living in my downstairs guest room. Jeffrey tried to introduce Belson to people, but he refused to stop and shake hands or say hello to anybody including me. Instead he walked quickly to Jeffrey's room, got a copy of Jeffrey's LP record of new age music and left.

Belson gave the impression he worked alone, but he needed help to create his electronic images. Stephen Beck who built amazing electronic image processing devices (video synthesizers) collaborated with Belson on Cycles (1974). Ken Jenkins, "the high priest of visionary videos." was another collaborator.

A rare chance to see Belson's work

Belson's wonderful work is so far removed from what the public thinks animation should look like, that it is rarely seen. An exceptional 70-minute program of Belson's work will be held at the Pacific Film Archive, Wednesday, October 19, 7:30 PM. Nine works will be shown and Cindy Keefer, director of the Center for Visual Music, will be present to introduce the program.

If you are wondering what Belson's remarkable footage looks like, you won't find examples on the Internet. To get an idea of what cosmic moments of his later work look like, see clips two Ken Jenkin Illuminations films. and I suspect Belson didn't post anything on the Internet as he disliked his films being shown in less than ideal situations.

To learn more about Jordan Belson there is a chapter about him in Gene Youngblood's book Expanded Cinema, 1970. Still images from Belson's films can be seen in the book and at

A CORNY COLE ART EXHIBIT OPENS IN LA OCT. 7 AND A MEMORIAL EVENT WILL TAKE PLACE SUNDAY, OCT. 9 Cole, who was 81 and died Aug. 8, will be remembered both in the exhibit The Fine Art of Corny Cole (reception Fri. Oct. 7, 6PM; official public opening Oct. 9) and at a memorial event Sunday from noon to 6 PM, at The Animation Guild, 1105 N. Hollywood Way in Burbank

GEORGE KUCHAR, A WONDERFUL FUN LOVING UNDERGROUND FILMMAKER, DIED AT 69 Although George wasn't an animator, he was quite animated and he enjoyed coming to the cartoon programs I presented in the "70s & "80s at Intersection and at my house. I loved showing his films at Intersection and it was always fascinating to hear him talk about his unorthodox approaches to his work.

George began teaching filmmaking at the Art Institute in SF in 1971. He took great delight in doing campy class projects including finding unintentional humor in blown lines and awkward cardboard sets. His most famous student was the outrageous Curt McDowell who gave George a starring role in Thunder Crack.

George's body of work includes over 200 videos and about 60 films. His Hold Me While I'm Naked (1966) is one of his most celebrated no budget early works (see the ending on YouTube). John Waters has honored George with glowing words of praise and acknowledges George and his twin brother Mike as major influences on his career. - It was fun knowing George. He was a wonderful sweet guy and he will be missed by thousands of people.


"ANIMATORS, HOW DID YOU DO THAT?" BY TOBIAS WENGART, REVIEWED BY NANCY DENNY-PHELPS If you have ever watched an animated film and wondered "How did they do that?" then Tobias Wengert's Animators, how did they do that? is the book for you. Wengert has transcribed his conversations with twelve diverse members of the Stuttgart, Germany animation community who reveal their secret techniques behind the magical images.

Jakob Schuh and Max Lang of Studio Soi reveal how they took The Gruffalo, a well-known children's book, which takes five minutes for a parent to read to their child, and turned it into a 27-minute film. The creators of the picture book, Julia Donaldson and Axel Scheffler, gave tips to the directors on hidden elements in the book that could be expanded into additional plot lines. The book illustrations include references to the squirrel family, so Jacob and Max expanded a story line from those visual references.

The seventeen pages in the book devoted to The Gruffalo cover every aspect of the film's creation from character and story development to the polystyrene, plaster, silicon, and paint techniques used to construct the complex sets. The entire process is beautifully illustrated with original character sketches, taking the read from storyboards, preliminary sketches and facial expressions to the finished film. I have enjoyed watching The Gruffalo many times and these discussions of the production techniques used will increase my enjoyment the next time that I watch it.

Several independent animators explain their motivation to create projects that follow their own rules rather than having to adapt to other peoples' requirements. LebensAder (Lifeline), Angela Steffen's final film before graduating from college was driven by very personal motives. The simple act of picking up a leaf on the street triggered the start of Angela's artistic process to understand her father's cancer diagnosis. She wanted to bring the beautiful leaf home with her but in turning it over she saw that the other side was covered with eczema as if the tree had cancer. Using the leaf veins to represent the life line on a hand, the first part of the beautifully hand drawn film depicts life - the healthy side of the leaf. The second half of the film shows the dark side - sickness.

Since 1989 Studio Film Bilder has been creating commercially successful projects such as the extremely popular television series Tom & Das Erdbeer Marmelade Brot Mit Hig (TOM)) and The Bunjies. At the same time the studio encourages its talented group of animators to create their own original projects which Film Bilder produces. Anyone who has seen Andreas Hykade's Love & Theft, the sensitive works of Gil Alkabetz or Phil Mulloy's provocative films can attest to the many sides of Studio Film Bilder.

At the extreme other end of the spectrum are advertisements created by the VFX Team at Unexpected. The team produced a Snickers Candy Bar Don't Stop ad campaign for the Russian market which has proven to be the most successful campaign run by Snickers since the candy was introduced in Russia.

In their interview the team stresses how important the initial planning was to them and they take us behind the scenes to show us how they developed their fantastic robotic characters. They also talk about bringing their commercials in on time within limited budgets. Even if you are not particularly interested in the high tech side of commercial making, the conversation with the VFX guys makes fascinating reading.

Much of the credit for the rise of the state of Baden-Wurttemberg as a leader in animation and visual effects goes to the Baden-Wurttemberg Film Academy in Ludwigsburg. The Academy's Institute for Animation, Visual Effects, and Digital Postproduction has become one of the world's most important training establishments. The school's alumni boast such distinguished names as Andreas Hykade and Volker Engel. Andreas' award winning films including The Runt and Love & Theft need no introduction. Volker's name is familiar to fans of Hollywood blockbusters as he won the Oscar for best visual effects for Independence Day in 1997.

The current roster of the Academy's teaching staff includes Thomas Meyer-Hermann, head of the renowned Studio Film Bilder; Gil Alkabetz, and Andreas Hykade. Volker Engle also taught there before moving to Southern California.

Each year the Stuttgart Trickfilm Festival draws the top names in animation to screen their films, and gives workshops and retrospectives to packed audiences. Trickfilm Festival has become one of Europe's most important animation celebrations. Running concurrent to the festival is the FMX Conference on Animation, Effects, Games and Interactive Media. FMX has become the foremost European conference on the creation, production, and distribution of digital entertainment.

Even if you are already familiar with the rich trove of talent in the state of Baden-Wurttemberg, Tobias Wengert's Animators, how did you do that? is a fascinating in depth look into the studios and animators with interviews that tell us how they do it in their own words.

The 150 page book is lavishly illustrated with the text on alternate pages in English and German. This is a book that anyone interested in animation will enjoy and if you have an animator on your holiday gift list this is a perfect present. To order the book visit: Also available in German Bookstores, price is 30 Euros, 150 pages, fully illustrated, text is in German and English on alternate pages.


Going to SIGGRAPH has been an annual pilgrimage since 1974 for thousands of people interested in the art, science and technology of computer graphics. This year's five day conference was held in Vancouver, Canada and it combined a major trade exhibit with their computer animation festival, an art exhibit, panels discussing new technology, parties, a job fair and much more. There were 15,872 attendees from 74 countries which made it the largest trade show ever held in Vancouver. (SIGGRAPH 2010 held in LA drew 22,549 people and SIGGRAPH 2009 held in New Orleans drew around 11,000.)

One of the draws of this year's conference was the setting. Vancouver, a city that has become a major animation center, is beautiful. The conference center has a spectacular deep water bay behind it and an enormous mountain range rises on the far side of the bay. Also, while much of the world was having a heat wave the city averaged a comfortable 20 degrees C during the day.

The state of the industry

SIGGRAPH 2011 was upbeat despite the industry being hurt by the recession that began in 2009. The computer industry is "back on track and showing new invigorated vitality and potential" according to a new report by Jon Peddie Research that has been circulated by Peddie and SIGGRAPH using the Internet. It says the computer industry has averaged a 7% growth rate over the last seven years and that the overall CG market will exceed $100 billion in 2014. The hardware market was worth $53 billion in 2010 and should exceed $67 billion in 2011. The software market, not counting services and other aspects, was worth $13 billion in 2010 and should grow to $14.8 billion in 2011.

The optimistic report noted the demand for artists, engineers and other talents has picked up and is accelerating quickly so the slow down caused by the recession is "going to look like a small bump in the road by 2014." Peddie envisions considerable opportunities opening up for computer graphics people in game development, design work, manufacturing and scientific visualization. He says while the movie industry is the highest profile segment of the industry, game development, visualization, etc. are much larger markets. The report also was excited about graphics for a wide range of mobile devices and for hobbyists, and they believe cloud storage will give people vast computer power.

Peddie moderated a panel on virtual moviemaking this year. One of his speakers was Rob Powers from NewTek, makers of the Lightwave system used in the making of "Avatar." He told how actors were able to interact with 3D sets projected behind them in real time while the scene was being filmed. Peddie says, "Visualization, a market that has been almost dormant for the past few years is poised now for great expansion due to exciting and lower cost technologies."

The keynote address

The report by Peddie was far more upbeat than the keynote address given by Cory Doctorow, the co-editor of "Boing Boing" and a noted author. His topic was copyright law and why the present form of it doesn't help stimulate creativity. He believes the law should be overhauled so it will energize more people to create innovative ideas and applications. He sees the laws established by the 1996 WIPO Copyright Treaty giving too much control to companies owning the rights. That law can inhibit the work of the creators and publishers who invest in new products. SIGGRAPH has posted the complete address online.

The Computer Animation Festival

For many who attend the conferences The Computer Animation Festival in the Electronic Theatre is always a highlight. This year the Best in Show award went to a 14-minute long surreal fantasy The Fantastic Flying Books of Mr. Morris Lessmore. It was written by Bill Joyce of Moonbot Studios in Shreveport, Louisiana. It began as a book and then became a film project. When the iPad was introduced Moonbot realized it would also make a great interactive book so it was released both as a film and e-book. The iPad version is both a game and a reading experience as you need to find things to click on to get full enjoyment from it. Both the e-book and iPad app can be downloaded on the Internet and there is a free trailer online.

Fantastic Flying Books is an ambitious project that combines 2D artwork, stop-motion-animation and CGI. It begins with a man reading a book on a balcony. A magical tornado sweeps him and his library to a fantasy world full of books where wonderful experiences await him. It is an exceptional and imaginative film and I suspect it is a lot of fun discovering the iPad version. One of Joyce's earlier books A Day with Wilber Robinson was turned into the Disney animated feature Meet the Robinsons, 2007.

The Jury Award went to Paths of Hate by Damian Nenow of Platige Image. This exceptional studio in Poland created Tomek Baginski's award winning Fallen Art in 2005. The new film features a dogfight between two pilots flying WWII era airplanes. It is a tale of destruction and hate and the audience is quickly drawn into the intense action. It is full of tension even though we don't know what countries are at war or what year it is. One person said, "It blew us away." At Annecy 2011 it won a Special Jury Award. A minute long trailer is on the Internet

The Best Student Project Prize went to Flamingo Pride by Tomer Eshed from The Konrad Wolf Potsdam-Babelsbserg Film and Television University. The film is in stereoscopic 3D and it stars a frustrated heterosexual flamingo in a gay flock. He falls in love with a lady stork, but unable to convince her of his serious intentions, he isolates himself and endures an identity crisis. Eshed says, "An intense encounter inspires him to make a bold move."

The show opened with the very silly ABC's of Animation by Cirkus Animation. It uses lots of ancient live action found footage mixed in with new animation to explain to Cirkus' prospective customers the various steps of their CG process. The company is in New Zealand with a second office in NYC. See this fun short on YouTube.

The show in the Electronic Theatre also included impressive show reels edited to show off amazing shots from recent features. ILM was represented with footage they created for Transformers 3, Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides, Super 8, and Rango. Sony showed footage from The Smurfs, Arthur Christmas (being made for Sony by Aardman), Green Lantern and Zookeeper. SIGGRAPH also showed clips and behind the scenes footage from Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Part 1 and MutantLand from Tippett.

A special treat for much of the audience was Pixar's long awaited short La Luna directed by Enrico Casarosa. One student called the film "absolutely remarkable."

More films

Footage from Hollywood features was seen in technical talks, panels, special presentations and at booths. You could learn more about the making of some of the feature footage in The Animation Show as well as from films not screened in the Electronic Theatre festival. There were presentations by animation and technical directors on the making of sequences from Cars 2, Tangled, Thor, Kung Fu Panda 2, Megamind, The Lion King in 3D and Captain America: The First Avenger. In the Captain America presentation they told how they created the character Skinny Steve by modeling actor Chris Evan's face so it appeared thinner. Later his head was composited onto the body of a very thin actor.

There were dozens of other papers presented on other technical matters. One student said she was amazed at the variety of talks and how engaging the topics were. The papers can be read on SIGGRAPH's website.

The Trade Show

The trade show floor was dominated with software developers showing off their latest advances that are or will soon be for sale. Pixar and Autodesk had the largest and most elaborate booths. Pixar, which was promoting their new Renderman for Maya 5.0, created long lines around the exhibit hall the day they gave away free posters. There were even longer lines the day they gave away their annual SIGGRAPH collectable, a tiny Pixar teapot (the design changes each year ).

Autodesk featured its cooperative work with other software and hardware firms to create greater compatible products. They told how a project with Nvidia will someday do amazing things for people using cloud-based rendering services. Working with Microsoft they are developing more virtual production techniques using the Kinect. Guerrilla Games, the makers of Killzone 3, is incorporating Maya into game development software and game engines to streamline the processes. Disney, working with Autodesk, built the XGen tool that created impressive looking hair in Bolt and Tangled. It can also create impressive looking grass, feathers and other fine materials. Unlike Renderman for Maya no commercial applications have yet been announced for this joint Disney - Autodesk venture. Autodesk was also showing off Project PhotoFly that lets you upload an image of an object and then the software will turn it into a rough 3D model.

The show had lots of other booths promoting a wide variety of things. Perceptive Pixel is making an 82 inch slim professional-grade LCD screen that they call the world's "largest optically bonded flat-panel pro-cap display." Several companies were showing faster tools for rendering CAD models. Luxion was offering Key Shot 3.0, a new system to simplify the animation process. Maxon has added 13 new character animation tools to Cinema 4D including pre-set walk cycles, a new muscle system and stereoscopic support. There were new improved 3D printers including Ultra from EnvisionTEC in Germany that builds models with very smooth surfaces. Black Sky Computing is making Apollo, a single file storage system that can be expanded to hold more than two petabytes.

A lot of young artists were excited about Pixologic demonstrating new time-saving features that have been added to ZBrush 4 R2. It can make modeling faster and more intuitive. One person said "several students actually gasped" watching Paul Gaboury of Pixologic quickly create objects. Another student supposedly said "it's like cheating."

Other software companies were promoting their technological advances. Some were fixes to existing products. They were making sure the features were doing what they are supposed to do. Three hardware giants, AMD, Nvidia and Intel had booths that simply showed off their already released accomplishments. They were not touting remarkable things to come. And for people looking for discounted prices, there were vendors offering "screaming deals." SIGGRAPH 2011 had 156 exhibitors and half of them were from outside the US.

The job market

Annual conferences and conventions are traditional places to find job recruiters in professional fields. At SIGGRAPH Disney had a large booth in the job fair area and a third floor suite of rooms where they conducted job interviews, portfolio reviews and critiques of reels. They also used the upstairs space for other purposes including presenting talks on a wide range of topics. Among the talks were "Creating Appealing Characters," an introduction to the Disney Trainee/Apprentice Program and "Welcome to Disney Animation Technology."

A useful series of talks were presented by job recruiters from other companies. One student said their favorite presentation was by a recruiter who gave a list of things not to include in your show reel, things that turn off recruiters and hurt your chances of being remembered in a positive way. This speaker and others offered lots of positive tips that might help you land an entry level position.

Emerging Technology

In the emerging technology exhibit Disney presented their research into tactile technology. The project, conducted with Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh, PA, uses different kinds of vibrations to enhance the sensations of falling, accelerating, striking an object, etc. The technology may be incorporated some day in computer games, thrill rides and in 3D movies. The technique is called Surround Haptics.

Among the other emerging technology exhibits were a system to create changing facial expressions on androids, a medical mirror that can track your heart rate as you look at the glass, and a "true 3D display" that can display 3D objects in real time at a high resolution. The last item is called SRV-5000 for Super Real Vision.

For Educators

SIGGRAPH offered the 8th DreamWorks Educators Symposium, which gathered instructors and directors from many animation schools from around the world to talk about their work. Walt Disney also hosted separate meetings for educators where they discussed the relationship between industry and schools, and also showcased several films including some of their favorite student demo reels.

DreamWorks' three panels addressed several important topics including: "What makes an undergraduate or graduate program in 3D computer animation successful?" "Why do some schools seem to be so much better than others?" and "How are they different, in philosophy, educational strategies, proposed projects, curriculum grid, industry relationships, and resources?" Raquel Coelho, who teaches in the animation and illustration program at San Jose State University and Marilyn Friedman from DreamWorks organized the panels.

Assessments of SIGGRAPH

How valuable or exciting was this year's conference? It all depends on whom you talk to. Many people were amazed at the rich variety of programs and speakers. They were wowed by the "jaw-dropping technology," fascinating displays in the art gallery, parties and other aspects of the conference. One person said, "Everything was absolutely perfect." Another said, "I've never felt a week had gone past so fast. It was simply so much fun and too much to see."

On the other hand I spoke with two friends who had been at past SIGGRAPH conferences. One was in Vancouver on business and didn't take the time to visit the event. He is a seasoned animator and he now feels SIGGRAPH is too tied up in technical improvements that are not that interesting to him. The other is a film festival director who used to go to SIGGRAPH to discover the latest exciting CG shorts. Now he skips SIGGRAPH as he gets to see the best of their shorts at other festivals he attends. He told me he was not at all surprised Paths of Hate won the Jury Award in Vancouver as "it's remarkable." He visited Platige Image in Warsaw last year where they screened it for him. He says he invited it to his festival "on the spot!"

SIGGRAPH 2012 will take place in Los Angeles August 5-9 at their Convention Center and SIGGRAPH ASIA takes place in Hong Kong December 12-15.

Note: This article was based on reviews, news releases, e-mails to people who were there and comments posted on the Internet. It was originally written for Animatoon, published in Korea and expanded slightly for publication in our newsletter.

Newsletter Editor: Karl Cohen
Contributors include Nancy Denney-Phelps, Gene Hamm and other friends of ASIFA-SF & Don Albrecht
Cover illustration by Ricci Carrasquillo
Proofreaders: Pete Davis and Sarah Chin
Mailing Crew: Tara Beyhm, Dot Janson, Shirley Smith and
Denise McEvoy
Webmaster Joe Sikoryak
Special thank to Seth Podowitz and his guests for an exceptional panel on voice acting for animation and to the SF State Animation Club for hosting the event. Thanks also to The G Man who sends out our e-mail updates, to Nancy Denney-Phelps for representing our chapter on the international ASIFA board, to Tara Beyhm our VP and to our treasurer Karen Lithgow.
ASIFA-SF is a chapter of: Association Internationale du Film d'Animation with almost 40 chapters around the world.
Our website and blog is:
Mail can be sent to:
or to PO Box 225263, SF CA 94122



with special guests Juan Pablo Zaramella from Argentina, Amanda Forbis, Wendy Tilby and Mark Bertrans from Canada and Georges Schwitzgebel from Switzerland and possibly another director(s)

Thursday, Oct. 20, 8 pm, free

Current ASIFA-SF members can bring one guest, please RSVP by Oct. 18
RSVP to (say if you are bringing a guest, RSVP will be confirmed)
Not a member? Visit for membership information
At Dolby Labs 100 Potrero Ave. SF - arrive early to sign in at the guard's desk

Once again Ron Diamond has selected an exceptional program of 9 films (plus he is probably going to show an cool surprise), shown in 35mm and in high-resolution digital formats. Ron has consistently featured films that have gone on to be considered for Oscar nominations. To date 19 have received nominations and six in past shows received the award (Father and Daughter, 2000; Harvie Krumpett , 2003; Ryan, 2004; The Danish Poet, 2006; La Maison en Petite Cubes, 2008; Lost Things, 2010)


La Luna, directed by Enrico Casarosa, Pixar
Paths of Hate, directed by Damian Nenow, from Platige (studio), Poland
Audience prize at SIGGRAPH 2011, major award at Comicon
Schlaf by Claudius Gentinetta & Frank Braun, Austria
(Audience award at SIGGRAPH 2011 & other prizes)
Luminaris, by Juan Pablo Zaramella, Argentina
Wild Life, by Amanda Forbis & Wendy Tilby, National Film Board of Canada
Best Canadian Film Award at Ottawa 2011, Atlantic Film Festival -- Best Canadian Short Film, etc.
Romance, by Georges Schwizgebel, Switzerland (co-produced by the NFB of Canada)
The Fantastic Flying Books of Mr. Morris Lessmore by William Joyce & Brandon Oldenberg, USA (Grand Prize winner at Siggraph 2011, prizes at Ottawa 2011 and other festivals
Journey to Cape Verde by Jose Miguel Ribeiro, Portugal
Mobile, Verena Fels, Germany
Three of the films will be shown in stereoscopic 3D

Hard to find DVDs of international animation, including many of the films in past Animation Show of Shows, will be available in the lobby before and after this program. There are three films on each DVD and individual DVDs are only $5. Deluxe, boxed sets of six DVDs are $30. A total of 36 different DVDs are available. They are also available online at
"A treasure trove of inspiration and animation magic." Nick Park

Our animation community remembers Don Albrecht

Gene Hamm announced to the animation community the sad news that "Don Albrecht, a great animator and very good friend of mine, passed away today, Wednesday, September 21. He worked at Disney on Sleeping Beauty, Paul Bunyan, animated Jiminy Cricket on the Mickey Mouse Club and wacky Martians for Ward Kimball's Mars and Beyond on Disney's "Wonderful World of Color." He animated Thank You Mask Man with a soundtrack by Lenny Bruce. He also worked for Bill Melendez."

"I first met Don when I worked at Broderbund. He was animating while listening to classical music. I recognized the music from an old cartoon, but I didn't know the name of it. He told me the name and the composer. I started humming tunes from old cartoons and he told me the name of the piece and the composer of every one of them. I wrote this all down and took a trip to the record store. Don really gave me my education in classical music. Later, when I composed my own pieces for my cartoons he loved hearing them."

"I had a copy of Lupo the Butcher, where the character swears through the whole cartoon. I lent it to Don on a lunch hour. He and the Broderbund guys watched it in a conference room and howled with laughter. The women wondered what the guys were laughing at and I lent it to them the next day. They watched it on their lunch hour. On the third day, all over the building you could hear women swearing at their computer, "Sun umma beetch!"

"The second time I worked with Don, was sharing a cubicle at Living Books. He animated effortlessly. Whenever I could, I would sneak in big Tex Avery takes into characters. But Don could just have one of his characters stop, look at the camera and blink, and it was funnier than anything I could ever do."

"Don had the best laugh. I loved to tell him jokes. The most satisfying feeling was if Don was standing up and you could nail him with a good joke. He would laugh so hard that he had to hang on to something because he would get weak-kneed."

"Don and I both brought in old movies. The sound department would digitize audio clips and give them back to us. At random moments, when it got too quiet at Living Books, we would play an audio clip to shake things up. Sometimes Orson Welles complaining about a bad script, Lupocursing or Casey Kasem swearing while reading a commercial."

Don was on a break from work on Disney's Sleeping Beauty (about 1959) when this photo was taken.

"I cracked up Don several times with a clip from Son of Frankenstein where Bela Lugosi, as Igor, is cross examined in court. He has a broken neck from being hanged. He says "Sorry I coughed. Bone got stuck in throat.' Don heard that so many times, it wasn't funny anymore. But I managed to make him laugh at it one more time. Hugh Grant had gotten caught in Hollywood with a hooker. I had my earphones on. I pulled them off and handed them to Don. I said, "Don, quick! You've got to hear this. The radio has an interview with Hugh Grant's hooker!' He quickly put on the earphones and he heard Bela Lugosi's voice say "Sorry I coughed. Bone got stuck in throat.' Don just fell back and convulsed in his chair in helpless laughter."

"Nobody including Don would leave at 5:30 until I played Lupo the Butcher saying "Sun umma beetch! Piece o' sheet job! I queet!."

"Don was always drawing cartoons and handing them to people. He did devastating caricatures of everyone. He was always making fun of me in cartoons. He and I had a Slingblade war for a couple days, back and forth we were topping each other with cartoons about Slingblade. Of course his were the funniest."

"One day Mark Schlichting, the creator of Living Books, was criticizing a scene that Susan Adams had animated. Her cubicle was across from Don's and mine. She was animating a chorus line of dancing tomato cans. Mark told her "It's not retaining its' can-ness.' As soon as Mark left, Don whipped out a cartoon of Mark saying in a speech balloon "It's not retaining its can-ness' and Susan in a thought balloon thinking "Fuckness.' That cartoon just killed me. I still say "Fuckness' anytime something bad happens."

"Don and I became close friends. He loved coming over to the house and petting our kitties, who loved him too. I would gather his animated films together and put them on DVD for ASIFA-SF shows. We swapped new discoveries and techniques in using Flash to animate. Don and I were like two little kids. We encouraged each other's projects. I loved bouncing ideas for films off him. He always knew how to make my gags work better. We joked and talked about comedy two or three times a week. He was my buddy and mentor and always made me laugh."

"Right up until the end, he was talking about going home and animating. He had a lot of new ideas. He had enough animations to make a feature if strung together. We were talking about organizing them into themes and animating some bumpers to tie them together. Unfortunately the big guy who animated us all took him before we could do that."

"I saw Don the day before he passed away. I was going to see him after work, but when I called ahead, he had already left us in the morning. In the words of Don Albrecht, "Fuckness'."

Don's years at Mill Valley Animation

George Evelyn, who is presently directing an animated show in England , said, "Sad news indeed. Don Albrecht was one of the first animators I ever knew. We worked together in the late "70s at Mill Valley Animation, on a Flintstones Saturday morning cartoon. He was a full-fledged long-time animator, me a brand-new assistant in-betweener. He turned me onto Blackwing pencils and explained how the in-between chart on every key drawing was supposed to work. "It's a secret code between the departments, very mysterious. Only animation people know what it means. Welcome to the club."

Nick Stern worked with Don at Mill Valley in 1982. "He had trouble drawing Smurfs on model, actually we all did. I remember the movie Gandhi had come out and was winning awards. One day someone brought in a Super 8 movie of Gandy Goose. Don said "Gandy? I don't see what all the fuss is about.' Very funny guy."

Don's work/play at Broderbund and Living Books

Bridget Erdmann feels, "Don was a special breed. Somehow he bridged the time gap between old animators of the Golden Age of animation and the present. He even learned the dang computer! He had a specific style that was something like a cross between UPA and the New Yorker."

Drawing of Don by Mark West made "in one of our many, many meetings. Nobody could nap while pretending to attend a meeting better than Don."

Mark West worked with Don for several years. He says, "I'm so sad to hear about Don's passing. I called him last month and he sounded in good spirits and on the mend. I had no idea his condition had worsened."

"Don's incredible talent was cartooning. What an avalanche of cartoons came my way at Living Books! It filled an entire LARGE wall. I tried to draw some for his wall, but I was no match for his output. He did at least 10 to my 1 on a daily basis. He would simply stroll into my cube, pin his latest up on my wall, and stroll back to his cube (within earshot), and wait for my laughter, which probably fueled his next cartoon. He also appreciated cartoons by other people, and had a very infectious laugh.

"Another favorite memory of Don was when I was humming "Streets of Laredo' while working. He asked if I knew the words to the song. I said that I did, and asked him to sing along with me, which we did very slowly and in harmony; however, I swapped the Smothers Brothers ending for the original ("If you buy an outfit you can be a cowboy too'), which he sang. He suddenly looked confused, and when I told him the Smothers' source, he burst out in the loudest laugh (at himself) I'd ever heard from him. His love of music and comedy made a perfect moment."

Tami Tsark tell us, "Don was the "life of the party' at our Living Books storyboard meetings. His quiet sweet presence will be missed greatly."

Susan Adams, who lives in Petaluma and runs, says, "I loved Don. I used to sit between Gene Hamm and Don, and spent many hours ducking and dodging the pencils, paper wads, clips and food they threw at each other. At other times we were treated to the spontaneous off-color cartoons Don would pass around...hilarious takes on Stella Luna, Cat in the Hat, etc. I have a folder full of his wonderful cartoons. They remind me of what a creative and humorous spirit Don was."

Mark Schlichting, the creator of Living Books, said, "I have a collection of Don's drawings too, including one of how to draw me in six steps."

"I've attached a photo of Don and me, taken aboard the ferry from Sausalito to Angel Island , circa 1996. We were headed home from a company picnic." Shawn Brownell

Shawn Brownell, who now lives in Michigan , writes, "I worked with Don in the 1990's at a software company called Living Books. We were both employed as animators, working on interactive stories for children. We became close friends and shared a lot of laughs over the four years or so that we worked together. I truly feel that Don was one of the most creative and talented people I have ever had the pleasure to know."

Alana Dill, who worked with Don and lives in Alameda , says, "I worked with Don for a couple of years between Living Books and another freelance assignment for CSAA. He was always very kind to me and a very funny man. I greatly respected both his humanity and talent. Although we were diametric political opposites, I know he served faithfully in Korea and was devoted to his wife."

"When I first met him, he had a comic strip posted in his cubicle of a man wearing glasses, holding a coffee cup and possibly a pencil tucked behind his ear. The man holds the same pose over four or five frames, starting out young and perky, but progressively more haggard and pear-shaped as the strip continues. It was titled something like "The Affect of Animation on the Human Body over Time.' Since it was my first day in the industry I took that under advisement!"

"My favorite memory of Don, aside from his hilarious Christmas cards over many years, was discovering our mutual love for the composer Korngold, who scored Captain Blood and a number of other great movies. A deceptively modest man with an epic soundtrack. That sounds about right."

"Don was a good guy, and I'm sorry he's gone. Please send my condolences to his family."

Don's love of magic

Mark West said, "We can't forget Don's love of magic. I think he might've gone into animation as a way to combine art and magic."

Carl Willat who runs Carl's Fine Films in San Francisco , is an amateur magician. He tells us, "Don loved magic and did a killer version of Out of this Universe by Harry Lorayne." (See Harry Lorayne perform Out of this Universe at:

Don as an independent animator

Nik Phelps and Nancy Denney-Phelps now live in Gent , Belgium where Nik performs music regularly at clubs and Nancy writes a blog about animation for They remember Don fondly. "Don Albrecht was always a great supporter of our Sprocket Ensemble project. Whenever he finished one of his short witty films he would send it to us and say "If you want to screen it that would be nice.' He would always come to our performances and never failed to tell us how much he appreciated us giving his films an audience."

"Don's very funny personal e-mails with his unique balance of humor coupled with his years of experience always brought a smile to our faces. The world will be a bit sadder place without them to look forward to. Nik and I send our deepest sympathy and regrets to his family."

Alan Orcutt says, "I always looked forward to seeing his work at our open screenings. Hearing him chuckle at my work was always high praise."

Karen Lithgow, an independent animator and our ASIFA-SF treasurer, says, "I've always looked forward to seeing Don each year at ASIFA's open screening for independent animators. We could always count on Don to entertain us with his funny characters and bold use of eclectic music."

"Don was forever kind in praising other people's animated projects and encouraged others to keep producing new material. He will be greatly missed."

Karl Cohen adds, "The thing I admired most about Don was his love of having fun with his art. Most animators put down their pens and pencils when their commercial careers end, but Don was a naturally enthusiastic artist who was just getting started as an independent animator when his commercial career ended. He was delighted to be free to try out new ideas. He even created a few abstract films set to music. He wasn't afraid to try out comic ideas that turned out to be duds. Like a young comedian learning the ropes he just kept going and kept improving his art and comedy. I hope Gene Hamm eventually edits together a reel of Don's best work for the Internet and a future ASIFA-SF event to remind us of his spirited sense of humor.

The drawings on the next page by Don from "In Your Hat, Cat!" by Dr. Soose were saved by Mark West. They were made at Living Books circa 1997.

"Don is best remembered with a laugh, so I wanted to share with you the attached comic panel, my favorite image from a book of his magic cartoons that he gave me a long time ago." Shawn Brownell