[NOTE: Posted partially unedited due to health problems]


by Karl Cohen

When the Art Institute of California in San Francisco laid-off a few people this summer it wasn't mentioned by the media, but it should have been part of a major news story. Those job terminations were part of some 800 layoffs ordered by Education Management Corporation (EDMC on the NY Stock Exchange), a corporation in Pittsburgh, PA that is presently being sued by the US government for about $11 billion. Our government believes EDMC obtained that sum from them through an allegedly fraudulent scheme. (Under the False Claims Act, if the suit is successful, the amount could triple.) EDMC stock was selling around $30 a share late last year, but since the suit was filed the stock's value has fallen to around $3.

And who is EDMC? The leadership does not come from the academic community. About 70% of the corporation is owned by three major Wall Street investment firms: Goldman-Sachs, Providence Equity Partners and Leeds Equity Partners. Goldman-Sachs owns about 40% of the stock. Several top executives of those three firms are on EDMC's board along with Todd S. Nelson and John R. McKernan Jr.

Nelson was EDMC's CEO from 2007 until August 2012 when he became the corporation's Chairman. Before joining EDMC, he was with the Apollo Group, the largest of the for-profit education corporations and he was their CEO when Apollo was sued for alleged recruitment fraud at their Phoenix University, a chain of 105 schools. Apollo settled the suit out of court for $78.5 million (with a non-disclosure clause).

John R. McKernan Jr. stepped down from being EDMC's Chairman of the Board of Directors in July 2012. He was a former governor of the State of Maine (1987-'95), had been on the EDMC board since 1999, and is married to Olympia Snowe, who just resigned from her seat as a US Senator from Maine. When she resigned she explained there was no place for her in the Senate as a moderate Republican as the Tea Party was taking over her party. The couple owns shares of EDMC stock once worth about $10 million.

From reading recent blog entries about the EDMC schools, the layoffs have disillusioned students and have resulted in excellent full-time teachers being dismissed. Some have been rehired as part-time employs at a much lower rate of pay. Students report key support people were also let go including computer techs and librarians. A newspaper in Pittsburgh reported administrative staff members were also dismissed.

The nation is learning about the way for-profit schools are run

Discovering the way this highly lucrative for-profit education business is run has been the task of the US Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee (HELP). Their hearings led by Senator Tom Harkin (Dem. Iowa) were getting news coverage in 2009-'10 as they uncovered proof that there was widespread fraud among several schools in the for-profit education sector. Recruiters indicated they were being paid bonuses for successful work, an illegal practice. The schools were alleged to regularly ignore the ban on incentive payments to recruiters for new recruits.

Recruiters admitted lying to entice prospective students to sign expensive contracts and to take out government loans. Recruiters were instructed to make grossly exaggerated statements about the potential income the prospective students could expect to make after graduation and they sometimes did not inform students of the full cost of their education or explain that the loans could not be voided by a bankruptcy judge. Young people that lacked the aptitude or were otherwise not qualified to enter the desired course of study were signed up. The hearings showed some schools were even providing inadequate or out of date educations.

The hearings also uncovered the schools often exaggerated the success rate of their students in order for the school to continue to get the federal grant program income. Schools have had to claim a fairly high placement rate for their graduates, a difficult thing to do in the recent economy. In one case a graduate who studied computer animation was counted as success story, but he was actually selling electronic goods at a major chain store.

Since the Art Institute of America is part of the second largest for-profit education corporation in our nation, it was logical that the committee called upon several of their employees and former employees to give testimony. The hearings also including undercover videos that were made to back up the claims that recruiters were using dubious techniques to enroll unqualified students. A report said that all 15 schools investigated "made deceptive or otherwise questionable statements to GAO undercover applicants."

Horror stories told by former students were also entered into the public record. The committee was told many times about the deception experienced to get them to enroll, about inadequate teachers and then upon graduating they found there were either no jobs, unpaid internships or only low paying entry level jobs available. The high paying jobs the recruiters had talked about had somehow vanished. Many of the disillusioned had to end up taking whatever jobs they could find outside of their area of expertise in order to attempt to pay back their loans.

According to one report a two year program at EDMC'S Art Institute in Pittsburgh, PA leading to an associate degree in web design or media studies cost around $47,500 while a same degree can be obtained from a local community college for $6,800. A BA or BS degree from EDMC is double that.

As a rule the students attending for-profit schools will owe more on loans because their tuition is higher. A US Department of Education press release said in June 2011, "Students at for-profit institutions represent 12 percent of all higher education students, 26 percent of all student loans and 46 percent of all student loan dollars in default."

The first legal actions

In 2011 the Department of Justice lawyers and attorneys in four states (California, Florida, Illinois and Indiana) decided that EDMC was not qualified to receive the $11 billion it had received between July 2003 and June 2011 for the education of their students. The lawsuit declares that each year EDMC falsely certified that it was complying with the law, but they repeatedly violated federal laws forbidding them to pay recruiters based on how many students they enrolled.

The law stating the recruiters should be paid a fixed salary was designed to remove any incentive for them to accept unqualified students who probably would not be able to complete a degree program. Of course EDMC claims they adhere to existing rules and regulations, but if that is true why did 56.8% of their students drop out in less than a year in 2009 (from a 2012 HELP report) and why is the number of students who actually graduate much lower than graduation rates from state and private non-profit colleges?

The State of California's Cal Grants program adopted new rules for the 2012-'13 school year that are designed to eliminate schools with high loan default rates and/or low graduation rates. The new guidelines require that institutions have a student loan default rate of 15.5% or less and a graduation rate of 30% or higher. The graduation rate for students enrolled at the ten largest for-profit schools in the country hovers around 20 percent, remarkably lower than the national 55.5% average for all schools.

At present 154 schools are no longer eligible for the Cal Grants including three campuses in the Art Institutes of California chain. The Art Institute of Los Angeles had a graduation rate that was too low while the schools in Hollywood and Sunnyvale had default rates that were too high. Of the 154 colleges ineligible for Cal Grants, 137 are private for-profit schools and the rest are private, not-for-profit schools. (The five Art Institute campuses in CA that barely passed had default rates between 11.7% and 14.5% and none reported a graduation rate ! above 38.4%.)

EDMC once had about 158,300 students enrolled at the same time. That number had dropped to about 124,000 as of June 30, 2012 which is the reason given for the resent layoffs (it was 139,800 in June, 2011). (EDMC runs campuses in 109 locations in the US and Canada under four universities names: Art Institute, Argosy University, Brown Mackie College and South University. They also run an online division.

The federal government gave EDMC $2.2 billion in 2010. That accounted for 89.3 percent of the school's income. By law the school has no responsibility to pay back the loan or to assist in the collection of that debt if the student defaults.

A newspaper in Pittsburgh, PA reports getting an email from EDMC saying that "we remain a vibrant organization. It is important that we continue to strive to be as healthy, efficient and streamlined as possible so that we can continue to invest in and support growth where we see the greatest need and demand."

Students trying to save the school note, "The reality of our country is that big investment corporations are running educational institutions. Fundamentally this seems backwards, especially when the CEO of EDMC was compensated with a total of $13,185,559 in 2011, yet they are laying employees off from campuses in droves because these are 'difficult times in American higher education'.

The upcoming November election may effect the disposition of the case against EDMC. Mitt Romney has major financial backing from several big education corporations and he has praised for-profit schools in speeches, especially Full Sail in Florida. Goldman-Sachs is one of Romney's biggest financial backers. What do you think Mitt might do if he gets a chance to help his friends at Goldman-Sachs?

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

September 2012


by Karl Cohen

As president of ASIFA-SF


I’m always interested in presenting quality monthly events. Over the past year some members have suggested we present an annual animation competition, but I couldn’t envision what it might be. We don’t have the labor or money to present a major animation celebration and besides ASIFA-Hollywood already presents the Annie Awards that honors major productions by the animation industry and ASIFA-East has an annual competition that we show each year that honors student, independent and commercial shorts. For many years we have offered local artists open screenings where we show all new work that they bring in.

Last January’s open screening was well attended and featured a nice selection of work, but past shows in May or June have not been as successful. Although lots of students complete films in April and May, not all want to show them in an unglamorous sounding open screening. Also, once school is out many students are thinking about vacations or summer jobs, not sharing their work at an open screening.

Dreaming up a new festival

Knowing that the public likes to attend film festivals throughout the year (San Francisco has dozens of them each year for documentaries, horror films, silent features, gay films, etc.), we decided to see if turning our open screening into a spring festival would generate more interest. We announced the Best in Show film would win a small cash prize and that the audience would be invited to vote for the winners. We decided that letting the audience judge the works instead of asking local college instructors or studio people to judge them would avoid conflicts of interest and get more people involved.

Before announcing the event we discussed a few problems we might encounter. The biggest issue was somebody bringing in too much work, so we adopted a ten minute limit on entries. That had been a problem at previous open screenings when one or two people showed up with every short they or their students had created. We had to have a time limit as the screening was going to be at the Exploratorium that is locked up for the night about 9:30 PM. If we started the program at 7:15 we could only show about two hours of work.

Since our annual dues pay for our events there would be no entry or admission fees. We also needed to let animators know what film formats the theatre could and could not project and what categories films could be entered in. We decided upon young animators, college students, independent animators and commissioned works.

Getting the word out was fairly easy. ASIFA-SF publishes a monthly newsletter that is read by hundreds of people, our website has lots of visitors and e-mail announcements were sent to hundreds of people who are not ASIFA members. The flyer asked people to let us know in advance what they were going to enter so we could put the animators’ names and film titles on the program and ballot. What I wasn’t anticipating was how much word-of-mouth interest there would be in our event. It turned out people were passing the announcement on to lots more people. It soon became clear the event would have to run for two nights.

The response to the idea of a new festival was wonderful. Not only did we get a lot of fine entries, we also had close to a packed house the first night. Local students brought lots of friends and family so it was a lively, fun evening full of laughter and applause. We showed works by young animators, college students and some of the independent animators the first night. The second night we showed the remaining works by independent artists and commissioned work.

What was shown covered a wide range of artistic abilities and styles, from works by young kids to accomplished adults. There were some wonderful surprises for the audience.

Work by the youngest animators

I was delighted to learn how much animation is now being created by young animators. We had already shown Ingrid Pitt: Beyond the Forest, a highly emotional story about how she escaped from a German WWII concentration/death camp with her mother. It was narrated by Ingrid just before she died in 2010. The childlike animation is by Perry Chan who was 11 when he drew it under the mentorship of Bill Plympton. The film has gone on to win several festival awards and it has been shown on the ShortsHD channel. Perry is working on another film about his father who just died of cancer. He also writes reviews of animated features for awn.com.

The works entered that I was unfamiliar with included Dani Bowman’s Mr. Raindrop, a delightful story for kids written by an adult. Dani is an accomplished 17 year old animator and Perry’s close friend.

Another nice surprise was a series of shorts written and animated by Trevor Cartmill-Endow, a high school student that shows off his ability to communicate with the medium. Trevor works independently of adult supervision and has been a student assistant at BAYCAT, a free local after school arts program. HYPERLINK "http://youtu.be/2lVw9x0FH2k"

For the first time I got to see work from the BAYCAT animation program run by Tim Harrington. I was impressed by the creative spirit of his young artists. We also saw works by Gene Hamm’s students from Alchemia, a private school for people with learning disabilities. His students create films with stop-motion magic effects. Some are reminiscent of George Melies work from 100 years ago, while others use modern computer effects.

A concern for the show’s organizers was how to honor the young artists whose work was shown. It ranged from extremely professional productions to some that were childlike. Rather than stress competitions we decided everybody was a winner so everybody got Merritt Awards. Only one young student was singled out for a special prize. Gwydion Brain received an Excellence in Humor citation for Build-a-Baby Workshop. The minute long short got lots of laughs. ( HYPERLINK "http://youtu.be/iNazNGyyREA"

Discovering the work by young animators was a delightful experience and I wouldn’t be at all surprised that if Perry, Dani, Trevor and other kids stick with it, they will be the animation industry’s leaders of tomorrow. Their dedication to discovering how to animate at a young age and learning from masters reminds me of hearing young John Lasseter talk about his learning as much as he could as a teenager from some of Disney’s Nine Old Men. He was in the legendary first class at Cal Arts and he says it was filled with enthusiastic students who like himself had contacted accomplished artists to be their mentors when they were in their mid-teens. Lasseter’s classmates included Tim Burton and Henry Selick. Will the future leaders include Perry, Trevor and Dani?

Work by college students

The fine, entertaining works shown by students from both San Francisco State and San Jose State demonstrated that both schools have strong academic programs that teach the entire spectrum of what animation can be, not just how to use computer software. I was disappointed that there were no submissions from the more expensive schools in the area. Although all local schools were invited to have students show films, in past open screenings we rarely saw films from these schools. How many of their students complete films? I believe you can judge a good animation program by the work coming out of the school. Just because a school spends lots on advertising claiming they are great, if we don’t see the results of that education, are the claims real or a lot of hot air?

Gems by independent animators and commissioned projects

The strongest category in the festival was work by independent artists. Joanna Priestly, whom Bill Plympton calls “the undisputed queen of indie animation,” sent us Dear Pluto, a humorous essay about the planet being demoted to a lesser classification. It was made by combining computer animation with hand drawn artwork and with other techniques. Priestly, who lives in Portland, Oregon, won first place in independent animation.

The artist winning the Best in Show award is the French animator Leonard Cohen. He moved to the San Francisco area after his film Plato won the best student film award at Annecy in 2011. ( HYPERLINK "http://vimeo.com/29504730" It won our top prize (see it on the Internet), and his The Parable of the Tuileries, ( HYPERLINK "http://vimeo.com/38513468" tied for first place in the commissioned film category. It is an amusing sponsored work promoting the importance of the French government’s support of public spaces (parks, town squares) and institutions (museums, etc.).

David Tart’s The Story of Animation tied with Cohen’s The Parable of the Tuileries for Best Commissioned Film. His short also won our Funniest Film Award. David graduated from SF State in the 1990s and freelances as an animation director for a variety of studios. His film was created primarily to help small animation studios formed by graduates of the Animation Workshop, in Denmark, who were experiencing a disconnect between what clients thought about the process of animation, and what was actually involved in creating it. David says "In a way, it's a gift to all animation studios as there are so many times when clients, not understanding the implications of changes, ask for costly alterations late in the process, causing tension, and usually costing the studio money." David has worked as an animator and animation director at a variety of studios including Pixar, Blue Sky Studios, DNA Studios, and Disneytoon Studios. David is currently based in Albuquerque, New Mexico. HYPERLINK "http://vimeo.com/37445157"

The audience gave prizes to a wide range of styles, techniques and content. The second place independent short was The Tyger by Mark West, a striking looking realization of the famous William Blake poem (“Tyger, tyger burning bright…”). He used bold flat colors, striking looking design work, Flash and a dramatic soundtrack. ( HYPERLINK "http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oF9kbTedTL8&feature=youtu.be"

Ben Ridgway’s Cellular Circuitry, full of striking abstract pulsating computer generated forms, was recognized for its Excellence in Experimental Animation. (Trailer at HYPERLINK "http://vimeo.com/user3877495" Karen Lithgow’s It’s All About Perspective won a Special Jury Award for using humor to expose the snobbish people who live in fancy gated communities. Jefferson Thomas’ Rathle is a silly humorous interview with his young son about the life and eating habits of an imaginary rattlesnake. (http://www.rathle.net/) It was recognized for its Excellence in Humor as was Alan Orcutt’s There’s an App for That, about absurd apps that might be developed in the future. Luke Jaeger, who now lives in the Boston area, sent us Carolina Shout, a surreal, experimental “antique music video” full of playful images. It was awarded Best Music Video. ( HYPERLINK "http://www.trickfilm.org"

Composer Nik Phelps sent us Hope by Sabrina Wanie from Germany. He provided the soundtrack to this work that shows the depressing and dangerous world some children must live in. It encourages people to be optimistic and have hope. Sabrina has just been awarded a TV contract in Germany to produce a series of encouraging and optimistic films and she will be using Nik to create her sound tracks. Hope tied for third place in independent animation with There’s an App for That.

We showed out of competition a clip from the feature (still in production) Rocks in My Pockets, a humorous film about depression, by Signe Baumane. (There is also an animated feature about suicide in release in Europe.) David Levy, a former president of ASIFA-East who makes animated documentaries, sent us Turning a Corner, an unusual tale full of irony about the events that led to his father getting into art school. ( HYPERLINK "http://vimeo.com/user9670956" David has just moved to LA to work for Disney.

After seeing these and the other fine films we showed, I believe independent animation is alive and well in the US. These artists are not trying to pursue a popular style, nor are they caught up in a trend. They are creating wonderful films out of their personal desires to express themselves as individuals in whatever way they deem appropriate.

The victory party

Our first spring festival was a wonderful celebration of animation that wasn’t made for commercial venues. It honored imagination and creativity, not commerce and conformity. So to celebrate the completion of the festival we held a party that included a screening of the festival’s winners.

Our Best in Show winner was Plato by Leonard Cohen

It was a chance for our animation community to socialize, enjoy a potluck and to once more applaud each other’s work.

The spirited evening was held in an old wooden factory loft filled with relics from films past. Oddball Films is a film archive run by Stephen Parr who has assembled a collection of thousands of educational, experimental and entertainment films. Fifteen-foot tall metal racks hold neatly organized stacks of 16mm films. The collection fills several rooms, plus there are old editing tables, film projectors and other things. The library provides historic film footage for media projects and on weekends Oddball presents film series in their screening room. I love the building’s slow moving freight elevator that makes lots of mysterious sounds. It is reminiscent of elevators in old movies set in warehouses.

The hall was packed with animators and well wishers. Ricci Carrasquillo, who does the thought provoking covers for our newsletters, created our fascinating looking awards certificates. (www. HYPERLINK "http://squillostudio.com" After the artists who were present got a chance to speak and received their awards their work was shown with breaks between them to allow for brief questions and answers.

My favorite moment was when young Gwydion Brain was asked what inspired him to create a short about where babies come from. He said students at BAYCAT were asked to make films about “family” so in his short a couple goes to the Build-a-Baby store in a mall. Thanks to the use of the latest technology they decide upon the sex, eye and hair colors they want in their child before pushing the build button. The new child comes down a shoot. Gwydion said he got the idea from something he saw on TV.

The man of the hour was Leonard Cohen. He received lots of applause for his two award winning films along with a third film he animated for director Spike Jonze. He told us he was going to miss San Francisco. His wife will remain here while working on a PhD at UC Berkeley, but he will be working in Paris on a weekly TV series for Canal +. He looks forward to returning to our city upon the completion of the series. Later several people told me how much they enjoyed meeting this remarkably talented man and they pointed out how each of his films are quite different in content, style and technique. We believe he has a great career ahead of him.

The festival would not have happened without a lot of help, advice and encouragement from the ASIFA board, members, friends and the Exploratorium staff. Some of the people who helped make it happen include, Ricci Carrasquillo, Sarah Chin, Kevin Coffey, Pete Davis, The G Man, Gene Hamm, Karen Jacobs, Dot Janson, Karen Lithgow, Denise McEvoy, Nancy Denney Phelps, Steve Segal, Joe Sikoryak, Shirley Smith, Dan Steves, all who created the films shown plus Liz Keim, Sam Sharkey of the Exploratorium’s staff and Stephen Parr at Oddball Films.


Best in Show
Leonard Cohen, Plato
First Prize, Commissioned Film (tie)
Leonard Cohen, The Parable of the Tulleries
David Tart, The Story of Animation
Funniest Film Award
David Tart, The Story of Animation
First Prize, Independent Animation
Joanna Priestly, Dear Pluto
Second Prize Independent Animation
Mark West, The Tyger
Excellence in Animation
Mark West, The Tyger,
Third Place Independent Animation (tie)
Alan Orcutt There’s an App for That
Hope by Sabrina Wanie with music by Nik Phelps.
Best Music Video
Luke Jaeger’s Carolina Shout
Special Jury
Karen Lithgow’s It’s All About Perspective
Excellence in Humor (2 films)
Jefferson Thomas, Rathle
Alan Orcutt, There’s an App for That
Excellence in Experimental Animation
Ben Ridgway, Cellular Circuitry
First Place, College Students (tie)
Rebecca Denton, The Last Goodbye (SF State)
Michelle Ikemoto, Tule Lake (San Jose State)
Excellence in Animation
Michelle Ikemoto, Tule Lake
Second Place, College Students
Allison Huffman, Warden of the Woods (SF State)
Third Place, College Students
Bronto House Animation, The Pod (San Jose State group)
An Excellence in Humor
Chris Lam, Eunsoo Jeong, Couch & Potatoes (San Jose State)
Excellence in Humor, Young Animators
Gwydion Brain, Build-a-Baby Workshop (BAYCAT)
Awards of Merit, Young Animators
Perry Chen, Ingrid Pitt
Trevor Cartmill-Endow, Just Say No to Fur, Grown at Birth
Dani Bowman, Mr. Raindrop
Students of Gene Hamm at Alchemia
Students of Tim Harrington at BAYCAT

FREE ANIMATION CLASSES ARE BEING TAUGHT BY TIM HARRINGTON AT BAYCAT He is an art director and design instructor at BAYCAT, a non-profit media center on Third St. in SF (in the Dog Patch area). They offer free video and animation classes to local youth ages 11-17. BAYCAT is “empowering individuals, transforming communities.” 415 701-8228 HYPERLINK "http://www.baycat.org/" \o "blocked::http://www.baycat.org/ http://www.baycat.org/"

THE SF FILM SOCIETY’S ANNUAL ANIMATION FESTIVAL WILL NOT BE HELD THIS YEAR They couldn’t find a sponsor for the November event.

OBSCURA DIGITAL IS ONCE MORE PROJECTING A SPECTACULAR LIGHT SHOW ON TO THE HISTORIC EMPORIUM’S DOME IN THE WESTFIELD SHOPPING CENTER The show called "Corazon Under the Dome" is projected on the building’s 102 foot dome (bigger than the largest IMAX screen). The theme is music in the Bay Area (rock, jazz, etc.) See it daily every half-hour after 5 pm this summer. The Center is just across the street from the cable car turnaround at Powell and Market. No admission fee. Ends Sept. 3, Full Project Video: HYPERLINK "http://vimeo.com/46724156"

Obscura Digital has also been asked to bring back their big Christmas show, an animated musical story set in a 19th Century toymaker’s workshop. See it Nov. 25 – Dec. 31, 2012.

The company has also completed work on a giant display for the SF Public Utility Commission in their building’s lobby at 525 Golden Gate. The permanent digital arts wall display provides an interactive educational experience for the public and it is 4’ high and 58’ long. It is comprised of high-resolution data and graphic visualizations, using an interactive platform, plus there is ambient music.

See the company’s website for dozens of images of their recent work from both the Bay Area and from around the world. http://www.obscuradigital.com/work

ASIFA-SF IN FLUX The Exploratorium has started to move out of their present home to their new building on Pier 15 on the Embarcadero. ASIFA has had a wonderful relationship with the museum for several decades, thanks largely to Liz Keim who is a great supporter of educational, experimental and historic films including animation. While we plan to be using their new theatre in the future, we will be using alternative spaces before they open their new theatre next spring. The McBean is closed.

This change gives us the opportunity to experiment using new spaces and programming ideas. We will continue to hold events at SF State in Sept. (experimental animation with Ben Ridgway), Dolby in Oct. (Ron Diamond’s Animation Show of Shows), and Oddball next January (12th Night party). We are talking with other people about other spaces for events in Nov., Jan. (open screening), next April, etc.

If you have any ideas about reasonably priced places to hold events that are easy to get to, or thoughts about different kinds of events, please let us know. What would you like to see us do? Where? Any interest in holding an event in the East Bay? E-mail karlcohen@earthlink.net

“Tic Toc Continuum” by Ben Ridgway, 2005

BEN RIDGWAY, WHO IS PRESENTING OUR SEPTEMBER PROGRAM ON NEW DIRECTIONS IN EXPERIMENTAL ANIMATION, HAS JUST JOINED SF STATE’S ANIMATION FACULTY Ben has 13 years of professional experience as both a 3D artist in the video game industry and as a professor. While in the games industry he helped to create games for Nintendo, Sony, and Microsoft console systems. Ben has been making experimental animations since 1992. His films have been showcased in film festivals worldwide including Annecy, and he has received numerous HYPERLINK "http://benridgway.wordpress.com/category/filmography/" Prior to joining SF State’s faculty he was teaching at Northeastern University. The works posted online date from 1993 to present. http://benridgway.wordpress.com/category/filmography/ Ben plans to show his award winning film Triboluminescence at our Sept. event. It has been in several festivals. It will be seen at the International Symposium of Electronic Art in Albuquerque, New Mexico on Sept 20 and at the Cine Toro Film Festival, Oct. 31 to Nov. 5 in Valle del Cauca, Columbia, South America. Ben will be going to Columbia to present a workshop. The trailer for Cine Toro features images by Ben. HYPERLINK "https://vimeo.com/45570951"

ANDREW STANTON WILL DIRECT THE FIRST “FINDING NEMO” SEQUEL Stanton has won fame for directing two of Pixar’s Oscar winners, Wall-E (2008) and Finding Nemo (2003, co-directed). He also wrote and co-directed A Bug’s Life (1998) and has
worked as a writer on Monster Inc. and all three of Pixars Toy Story features.

As for John Carter (2012), directed by Stanton, it didn’t turn out to be the $200 million disaster at the box office that Disney announced a few days after it opened. About 75% of the gross came from abroad so it ended up grossing about $283 million worldwide. It cost about $250 million to make so it only lost around $100 million. It was still a major loss, but one film trade publication explained his directing the film as a thank you present for his making Disney/Pixar millions upon millions working on his Pixar hits. Nice gift!

SEE BOTH PARTS OF THE ART OF “PARANORMAN” EXHIBIT AT THE CARTOON ART MUSEUM The first part of the exhibition opened in August and features concept art, a behind the scenes look at the character design of the characters, and an animator’s face kit used by LAIKA’s animators. A larger exhibition of puppets and concept art opens at the Cartoon Art Museum on Saturday, October 6, 2012 and ends Feb. 17, 2013.


TOM ARNDT HAS DIED AT 67 Tom taught animation classes at the Academy of Art for over a decade and was with the studio Six Foot Two in Marin Co. for many years. He was a technical wizard who could figure out how to create complex shots. His animation credits include work on Henry Selick’s Monkeybone and other features, on several music videos including Michael Jackson's Moonwalker and And She Was by the Talking Heads, on video games and on over 40 interactive CD-Roms. Working with Robbin Atherly they created several animated interactive attractions for Disney theme parks in Florida, Japan and Paris. His personal shorts include a film about alien plants growing that he showed at an open screening last year. Tony Claar, one of his neighbors in Oakland, says Tom was storyboarding a longer personal project. He died Aug. 17 of a heart attack.

Gene Hamm tells us, “Up in Portland in the 1970s we had a group of animators who were worshipers of Norman McLaren and Will Vinton. Tom was one of the founders of the Portland Animation Collective and he was the first of the group to do animation commercially. After we left, The Portland Animation Collective became ASIFA-Portland.”

“Tom was a very nice guy, intelligent, soft spoken. He was pretty much self-taught as an animator (there weren't animation classes in Portland in the 70's). He amassed a collection of equipment including animation stands and Xerox machines for cels and created his own studio.”

Robbin Atherly recalls that “Tom built a traditional animation studio (late 1970s) under the name Animation Cellar where he amassed camera stands, animation disks, pencil test equipment and a cell xerography service to support the efforts of the Animation Collective.” Robbin and Tom worked with Tom at Graphoons Inc. in Portland (1981 through 1985) and then he became a partner with Robbin at True Vistas, Inc. which specialized in Vista Vision format animation (1985 through 1989). Moving to the Bay Area, Tom worked with Robbin and his wife Suzanne at Six Foot Two Productions in Marin for 15 years. Tom and Robbin ended up working together for over 25 years. Robbin also told us, “Tom was also a magician and craftsman who built props and models, stage magician tricks and fine cabinetry.”

Arne Jin An Wong tells us, “I remember Tom as a sweet, loving, giving, honorable man with integrity and a great love and respect for animation. He always showed up at work dapperly dressed, with hat and vest on, old school but highly respected and revered by everyone, students and fellow teachers alike. I for one had a great respect for him, he was kind enough to let me sit in and learn Flash during his lectures, he was patient and kind with everyone he met. I'm sorry to see a good fellow animator and kind-hearted man leave from our dwindling 2D traditional hand-drawing animation world.”

Tony Claar met Tom on an animation job in Marin Co. sometime in the nineties and again at the Academy of Art in 2005. He says, “We hit it off immediately as we both love creating and teaching animation, as well as the ever-evolving techniques and world history, so we always had plenty to talk about at lunch or after work. Two years ago, to my pleasant surprise, he and Eleanor moved to my neighborhood in the North Oakland hills. We began meeting often at my home and worked on several animation projects together. On my short tribute to ASIFA he transformed it into a very effective animatic from just thumbnail sketches. Without telling me he found some cheerful ragtime piano music, synched it up perfectly at his house, and sent it the next day by email to me as a surprise. I was amazed! It was excellent and an act of generosity and of friendship. Whenever he came over, I remember his friendly smile and a quiet tip of his hat at the front door. It was always a pleasure to see him. I’d then offer him a German or Dutch beer, which he always accepted with relish, and we enjoyed a relaxing time together. Tom was a gentleman, a man of integrity, friendly, smart, even-tempered, and very respectful. He was such a good man. I miss him.”

MARK FIORE’S HARD HITTING POLITICAL ANIMATION GETS PLUGS ON PBS Mark has been publishing one animated cartoon a week since he left his job at the San Jose Mercury News in 2001. He covers a wide range of topics and his award winning work (Pulitzer Prize, etc.) is animated in Flash, has excellent soundtracks and it is often quite astute and funny. He says whatever news makes him the most angry each week becomes the subject of his next cartoon.

In July Bill Moyers announced he is running Fiore’s work on his PBS website and he showed a clip of his work. The local PBS show Sparks also reran a long segment on Fiore. Since there is a national election heating up, check out his humorous takes on the outrageous BS being slung about and other ironic behavior in daily news. www.markfiore.com

DAVID CHAI DOESN’T JUST CREATE WILD VIOLENT HUMOR. HIS LATEST FILM, BEING SHOWN IN OTTAWA 2012, IS IN THE SHORTS FOR KIDS COMPETITION! The festival is showing his charming Why Do They Put Up With Them? as a film for kids. David’s award winning work includes Enrique Wrecks the World, 25 Ways to Die, Fumi and the Bad Luck Foot and other violent comedies.

Michael Langan has two films in the competition, his experimental Choros and a music video, Art Circles: Van Gogh to Rothko. He moved back to SF in late August.

Other noted animators with works in the competition include Michaela Pavlatova, Rosto, Theodore Ushev, Don Hertzfeldt and Regina Pessoa. The 2012 festival received a total of 2377 entries from 81 countries. Of those, 94 shorts and 4 features were chosen for the competition. In addition, 49 films are in the panorama programs. See what is being shown www.animationfestival.ca/index.php?option=com_oiaf&task=showselections&Itemid=821

PEANUTS FANS REJOICE The wonderful Charles M. Schultz Museum and Research Center has a redesigned website, HYPERLINK "http://app.streamsend.com/c/16687295/12877/rsYvCxS/QwHF?redirect_to=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.schulzmuseum.org" that gives people around the world a more in-depth view of the art and life of Charles Schulz. Highlights from the Museum’s collection are showcased in an online digital gallery. The Museum is located at 2301 Hardies Lane, Santa Rosa, California, 95403

ON JULY 19 JEFFREY KATZENBERG CUT THE RIBBON ON PDI/DREAMWORKS NEW 200,000 SQ. FT. BUILDING IN REDWOOD CITY They are planning to producer more animated films each year and for various reasons his team of artist and technicians is happier living in the Bay Area than in LA. They plan to add about 200 people to their production staff in the coming months.

BUMMER, DISNEY HAS HALTED PRODUCTION ON HENRY SELICK’S NEXT STOP-MOTION FEATURE Disney has pulled the plug on Henry Selick’s untitled work-in-progress, a stop-motion feature that was going to be released in October 2013. That means about 150 artists who began work on it in the summer of 2011 are out of work until Henry finds a new backer and distributor. Variety reported that “Sources close to the production said from a creative and scheduling standpoint, the pic wasn't where it needed to be to meet its planned release date and the studio decided not to continue production as a result. Selick can shop the project to other studios and apparently Disney is still interested in having Henry direct HYPERLINK "http://www.deadline.com/2012/04/disney-scares-up-deal-for-neil-gaimans-the-graveyard-book/" Neil Gaiman’s The Graveyard Book, a project they acquired in April.”

AT THE DISNEY MUSEUM IN SEPT. HYPERLINK "http://waltdisney.org/special-exhibitions" HEINRICH KLEY: FROM FANTASY TO FANTASIA The exhibit features drawings by Heinrich Kley (Germany, 1863-1945), Walt Disney’s most admired European illustrator, paired with art from Fantasia (1940), a film Kley influenced. The exhibit includes 24 drawings and three scrapbooks by Kley, plus over 20 sketches, concept art, and maquettes from Fantasia.


*Friday Sept. 21, 7:30 PM,* ASIFA PRESENTS: DISCOVER HOW THE ANIMATION INDUSTRY IS INFLUENCING EXPERIMENTAL ANIMATORS TO USE THE LATEST TECHNOLOGY AND INVENT TECHNIQUES AS THEY EXPLORE NEW POSSIBILITIES AS TO WHAT ANIMATION CAN BE Discover the cutting edge work of Zeitguised from Germany, Andrew “Android” Jones from San Francisco, Max Hattler from Germany, Ben Ridgway from SF and PES from LA. Ben Ridgway, who has just joined the SF State faculty, will introduce us to these artists whose work is expanding the boundaries of a great art form. Presented by ASIFA-SF and the SF State Animation Society in the Coppola Theatre, Fine Arts building, room 101

Wed. Sept. 5, 7 pm, THE NERVOUS FILMS OF JANIE GEISER Janie Geiser in person “Geiser is a surreal animator who creates colorful personal experiences. Her origins in puppet theatre are evident in her affinity for cutout figures and antique toys. She combines her images with fragments of sound and music as she constructs mysterious worlds that are handsome secret experiences; perhaps nervous dreams whose meanings remain elusive. They are quite enjoyable to watch, but don’t expect any great insights. Program includes Terrace 49, 2004; Ultima Thule, 2002; Ghost Algebra, 2009; Kindless Villain, 2010; Ricky, 2011; and The Floor of the World, 2010. Total c. 60 min. at the Pacific Film Archive in Berkeley

14 great animated features, new 35mm prints, in Japanese with English subtitles except when noted

Fri. 9/7: SPIRITED AWAY 1:45, 7:00

Sat. 9/8: MY NEIGHBOR TOTORO (in English): 3:00, 7:00 (in Japanese): 5:00, 9:00

Sun. 9/9: PRINCESS MONONOKE 1:40, 7:00

Mon. 9/10: PORCO ROSSO 2:00, 7:00

Tues. 9/11: CASTLE IN THE SKY 1:40, 4:20, 7:00, 9:40

Wed. 9/12: THE CAT RETURNS 5:10, 9:25
PONYO (in English): 2:45. 7:00

Thurs. 9/13: MY NEIGHBORS THE YAMADAS 4:30, 9:35
HOWL’S MOVING CASTLE (in English): 2:00, 7:00

Fri.- Sat. 9/14 – 9/15: NAUSICAA OF THE VALLEY OF THE WIND 1:50, 4:25, 7:00, 9:35

Sun. & Mon. 9/16 – 9/17: KIKI’S DELIVERY SERVICE 1:55, 7:00
CASTLE IN THE SKY 4:15, 9:00

Tues. 9/18: PORCO ROSSO 2:50, 7:00
THE CAT RETURNS 5:00, 9:10

Wed. 9/19: ONLY YESTERDAY 1:50, 4:25, 7:00, 9:35

Thurs. - Fri. 9/20, 9/21 SPIRITED AWAY 1:30, 4:15, 7:00, 9:40

Sat. 9/22 PRINCESS MONONOKE 1:20, 4:10, 7:00, 9:50

Sun. - Mon. 9/23, 9/24 MY NEIGHBOR TOTORO 2:20, 4:40, 7:00, 9:20

Tues. 9/25: POM POKO 1:50, 7:00
HOWL’S MOVING CASTLE (in English) 4:25, 9:35

Wed. 9/26: WHISPER OF THE HEART 2:15, 7:00
PONYO (in English): 4:45, 9:30

Fri. Sept. 7, “RAIDERS OF THE LOST ARK” IN IMAX is opening prior to the Sept. 18 release of the Indiana Jones movie collection on Blu-ray (titled Indiana Jones: The Complete Adventures).

Fri, Sept. 14, “BEAUTY IS EMBARRASSING” It is a documentary about Wayne Whyte who designs puppets and other things for Pee Wee’s Playhouse. It opens in SF & E. Bay theatres. HYPERLINK "http://beautyisembarrassing.com/"

Sat, Sept. 29, 2pm a 3 hour animation workshop; 6:15 pm screening of “FLAMINGO PRIDE” at the 17TH BERLIN & BEYOND FILM FESTIVAL At the animation workshop at the Goethe Institute (530 Bush near Grant) Tomer Eshed from Germany will explain the film-making process and discuss the various aspects of bringing stories to life. Tomer Eshed's humorous Flamingo Pride about a straight male flamingo looking for love in a flock of gay birds will be shown before the feature Baikonur at the Castro that evening. HYPERLINK "http://www.BerlinBeyond.org"


JOHN AND FAITH HUBLEY TO BE HONORED SEPT.14 BY THE ACADEMY IN LA This remarkable couple brought a humanistic perspective and a distinctly modern style to postwar American animation. The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Science will honor them on Friday, September 14, at 7:30 p.m. at the Samuel Goldwyn Theater in Beverly Hills. John Canemaker will host this in-depth look at these two iconoclastic artists. Hubley films received seven Academy Award nominations and two Oscars.

THE MUSEUM OF MODERN ART (NYC) IS GIVING THE QUAY BROTHERS A LARGE RETROSPECTIVE GALLERY EXHIBIT The show “Quay Brothers: On Deciphering the Pharmacist’s Prescription for Lip-Reading Puppets” got an excellent review in the NY Times Aug. 8. By using wall monitors and video projections, over 7 hours of their film work is being displayed along with sets, drawings, prints, designs for book and record albums and much more. An interesting twist is a display called “deals with the devil.” It turns out to be some dozen or so TV commercials that they did to finance their serious work.

Part of the show’s importance is it shows the MOMA recognizes animation as an extremely important art form for adults; not just cute entertainment for kids. In the past they have honored John and Faith Hubley, John Canemaker and a few other independent animators with screenings and small gallery exhibits. They have presented major shows of art from Disney, Pixar, Tim Burton and William Kentridge. The exhibit closes January 7, 2013.

OSKAR FISCHINGER 3 SCREEN TRIPTICH IS ON DISPLAY AT THE WHITNEY MUSEUM OF ART IN NYC UNTIL OCT. 28 The NY Times art critic Ken Johnson (July 28) called the piece “a dazzling three-screen projection of all kinds of symbolic forms in syncopating action by the German-American filmmaker and painter Oskar Fischinger (1900-1967).” It dates from the Weimar-era of Germany. The digitized version has the “brightness and chromatic intensity you would expect to see in work from the psychedelic ’60s. Pulsating circles, flowing organic lines and blinking rectangles; a found film clip of a spinning globe; and the momentary cartoon apparition of a young girl in a hooded, fur-trimmed coat together create an exhilarating phantasmagoria of abstraction and metaphor.” The Museum of Modern Art (NYC) has held Fischinger programs with him present years ago.

LOOKING FOR A GOOD TIME AT THE MOVIES? SEE “PARANORMAN” When I went to the preview ASIFA members were invited to, I didn’t know what to expect. I loved Coraline but could Laika create a really delightful film without Henry Selick directing it? I’m delighted to say the answer is yes. From the first seconds of the film I was hooked and that exaltation lasted for me almost until the end when there is a fade out and I thought “oh no, it was only a dream.” That wasn’t the case, but I felt the final resolution was week, a twist that wasn’t as clever as the rest of the film.

ParaNorman is a comic spoof on the old zombie horror film. The story is way over the top, the character designs are delightfully weird, the excitement is entertaining, there are lots of wonderful touches to the set designs, etc.

Unlike Coraline, where everything seems sharp (deep field photography) it looks likes ParaNorman was shot with long lenses o in a shot of two people talking the person talking is quite sharp and the other person slightly closer or further away is in soft focus. When the film began I thought the look of ParaNorman might not work as well in 3D, but it did. I related the film’s look to a slightly exaggerated version of camera techniques used in classic Hollywood features.

SEE DAVID FAIN’S “CHOREOGRAPHY FOR PLASTIC ARMY MEN" David is a former writer on SpongeBob and is currently an animatics editor at Hasbro. He also created the short Oral Hygiene (having a phobia about visiting the dentist I found it quite disturbing the first time I saw it). His video Choreography for Plastic Army Men has been posted online and has gone viral thanks to mentions about it by Boing Boing, Animation Brew, Laughing Squid, Huffington Post and other sites. It is a nicely choreographed video starring plastic soldiers.

David, when he wrote me about his new work, said, “The only modifications made to the plastic army men were the removal of most of their guns with an Exacto blade. And of course the poor buggers who got melted into slag. All the dance moves were achieved by simple replacement animation utilizing existing poses. I did need to collect a large number of soldiers from varying countries to get the variety you see in the film. You might also be surprised to learn some of the figures are no bigger than my thumbnail.” See the results of his countless hour of work at: HYPERLINK "https://vimeo.com/26645299" You can also see his classic Oral Hygiene online, but be warned, if you hate visits to the dentist you may squirm: HYPERLINK "https://vimeo.com/45366179"

DISNEY’S QUARTERLY EARNINGS WERE BETTER THAN PREDICTED They grossed $11.1 billion, the best quarter in the company’s history. Much of it came from the theme parks, resorts and cruise ships. Brave and The Avengers made the studio’s entertainment sector profitable, but sales of home products resulted in “anemic growth” in the overall entertainment division. The interactive sector showed a 22% drop in revenue over the same quarter last year. The stock presently sells for around $50 a share. In 2009 it briefly sold for around $17 a share.

A RAVE REVIEW FOR AN ANIMATED FILM THAT YOU MAY NOT KNOW ABOUT A. O. Scott reported in the NY Times July 12, 2012, “Fans of 20th Century Fox animation, you have cause to rejoice. A charming 3-D cartoon arrives in theaters on Friday, witty and touching and marvelously concise, part of a series that has managed to stay fresh and inventive after many years in the pop-culture spotlight. There is one catch, though. If you want to see this little picture — a four-and-a-half-minute dialogue-free delight called The Longest Daycare, in which Maggie Simpson stands up for what’s right at a preschool named after Ayn Rand — you must also buy a ticket to HYPERLINK "http://movies.nytimes.com/movie/462582/Ice-Age-Continental-Drift-Movie-/overview" Ice Age: Continental Drift.” He concluded by saying, “It is a bit cruel of Fox to lead with that instantly, durably lovable Simpsons short.”

He gave the feature a mixed review saying “too many celebrity voice-overs… a dreadful song about how we’re all one big happy family… genuine comic relief amid a lot of forced jollity… Continental Drift, like its predecessors, is much too friendly to dislike, and its vision
of interspecies multiculturalism is generous and appealing.

READ ABOUT THE MAKING OF “PAPERMAN,” THE DISNEY SHORT THAT WILL BE PAIRED WITH “WRECK IT RALPH” It has a unique look that combines drawn animation with CG work. Cartoon Brew ran an interview with the film’s director on July 2. The films will be released Nov. 2. For a parody of Wreck it Ralph by Ralph Bakshi visit HYPERLINK "http://fuckyeahralphbakshi.tumblr.com/"

DISNEY PLANS TO RELEASE “AVENGERS 2” MAY 1, 2015 The first Avengers grossed $1.331 billion worldwide, making it the 3rd highest grossing film of all time.

ANIMATION FROM DREAMWORKS WILL BE DISTRIBUTED BY FOX FROM 2013 – 2017 The 5-year distribution deal was finalized in mid-August. Their distribution deal with Paramount ends this year. DreamWorks waned to renew it with Paramount taking a smaller percentage of the gate and Paramount wanted a bigger slice of the pie.

DREAMWORKS ANIMATION HAS BOUGHT THE RIGHTS TO CASPER, ARCHIE AND HE-MAN What will DreamWorks churn out when sequels featuring the animals from Madagascar and Shrek and friends stop selling enough tickets? DreamWorks bought Classic Media’s film and merchandise rights to Casper the Friendly Ghost, Archie, Waldo (of Where's Waldo? fame), Voltron, the Veggie Tales crew, Lassie, The Lone Ranger, and He-Man and the Masters of the Universe. The film rights to some of those characters have been leased to others, so even if the characters do not appear in a new film, Dream-Works will still earn money from those payments. Classic Media made $376 million last year through licensing.

DREAMWORKS HAD A 25% DECLINE IN SECOND QUARTER EARNINGS The company reported $12.8 million profit compared with $34.1 million in the year-ago for the same period, a decline of 25%. That was below Wall Street expectations. DreamWork’s stock has been selling for $20 or slightly less for the last year. It hit a high of over $40 in 2010.

Madagascar 3: Europe's Most Wanted was the quarter's biggest contributor. It is the seventh highest-grossing film this year, grossing over $500 million worldwide with a lot more international income expected. The movie contributed approximately $54.8 million to the latest quarter while Puss In Boots contributed $22.8 million (mostly from an estimated 5.2 million home entertainment units sold worldwide). Kung Fu Panda 2 brought in $46.4 million, mostly from domestic pay TV revenue.

A FEW NEW DETAILS ABOUT DREAMWORKS’ EXPANSION IN CHINA Working with their partner Oriental DreamWorks, they plan to create an animation studio and theme park in Shanghai. The park will include theatres, including one with the world’s biggest IMAX screen, shops, hotels, etc. The studio is scheduled to open in 2016. They expect it to have about 800 people on their staff. Kung Fu Panda 3 will be the first film co-produced by the two firms. The US studio will own 45% of the project.
In related news James Cameron will work with Chinese producers on a 3D film project. No details are announced, but Cameron said the success of his Avatar and Titanic in China proves the Chinese movie-going audience loves 3D.

SONY ANIMATION TO CREATE AN ALF FEATURE Alf was an ugly but nice furry extraterrestrial who starred in a TV show (1986-1990). The live action -animation film will be produced by the producers of The Smurfs (2012, $563 gross). The Smurfs 2 comes out July 31, 2013.

THIS YEAR’S BILLION DOLLAR CLUB So far this year Disney, Warner Bros., Sony and Universal have grossed over a billion dollars each in US theatres.

TOMM MOORE, CREATOR OF “THE SECRET OF KELLS,” IS SELLING HIS WATERCOLORS ON LINE Steven Ng, an ASIFA-SF members who collects original art (the Albany Library just displayed a few pieces from his collection), writes, “I ordered one of Tomm's pieces before and it turned out great. In fact, it was used at one time as an example of his art for sale on the studio’s website. It is an image of Brendan writing while Brother Aiden chews an apple and watches him work.” He has since purchased two more works and is delighted to have them. Moore only has time to do a few watercolors a year so much of the year he doesn’t promote his art for collectors.

If interested in his or his studio’s work see the studio’s website. HYPERLINK "http://www.cartoonsaloon.ie/"

The store is only a small part of the things you will discover. The studio has produced Skunk Fu!, its first TV series. The series has been sold to broadcasters in over 120 countries worldwide, including the BBC and Cartoon Network.

“CRAYON DRAGON” ON VIMEO It is a charming sweet fantasy. HYPERLINK "http://vimeo.com/41314639"

APPLE HAS BECOME THE MOST EXPENSIVE COMPANY IN THE HISTORY OF THE NY STOCK EXCHANGE On August 20 Apple was sold at $665.15 a share making the stock worth $624 billion; however, Microsoft still holds the record when its 1999 value is adjusted for inflation.

UNIVERSAL IS MAKING “DISPICABLE ME 2” for release July 3, 2013 and a second sequel called the “Untitled Minions Project” hasn’t been written yet, but it will be released Dec. 19, 2014. The original grossed $543 million worldwide in theatres.

THE EMMY AWARD NOMINEES FOR OUTSTANDING ANIMATION PROGRAM ARE: American Dad! “Hot Water,” Fox Television Animation; Bob's Burgers, “BurgerBoss,” Fox, BentoBox Entertainment; Futurama, “The Tip Of The Zoidberg,” Comedy Central, The Curiosity Company; The Penguins Of Madagascar “The Return Of The Revenge Of Dr. Blowhole,” Nickelodeon; and The Simpsons, “Holidays Of Future Passed,” Fox, Gracie Films. See additional Emmy award nominations at http://www.emmys.com/sites/emmys.com/files/EmmyNoms64-Press-Release.doc

DOG LOVERS SHOULD LOVE THIS ANIMATED SHOW OPENING FOR “MY WORLD AND WELCOME TO IT” The show was based on stories by James Thurber and ran on NBC in the 1969-’70 season. HYPERLINK "http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qpYCQ5e8T60&feature=youtu.be"

“DRIVING INSPIRATION” is an inspiring work celebrating the Paralympic spirit. It was made by 100 children in 12 countries with the added help of 10 disabled and deaf animators/artists along with 8 Paralympians and 2 disabled musicians. The film explores the values of the Paralympics. It is an animated journey of the Paralympic torch and it celebrates the Paralympics history, from its birth at Stoke Mandeville Hospital to London in 2012. The film was directed by David Bunting. His animation consultant was Gary Schwartz and his producer was Vicky Hope Walker. HYPERLINK "http://youtu.be/aLrXH-W_6pk" \t "

WINSOR McCAY’S SILENT ORIGINAL AND BILL PLYMPTON’S COLOR WITH SOUND VERSION OF “THE FLYING HOUSE” IS COMING OUT ON DVD WITH LOTS OF EXTRAS Bill is on a crusade to get people to rediscover this gem from 1921. He has been successfully showing his version at film festivals and the DVD is finished. I love the original film and often show it to students along with McCay’s Gertie the Dinosaur (1914) and The Sinking of the Lusitania (1917). Bill loves it too and decided to create a color and sound version for a public not interested in seeing silent, black and white cartoons.

The DVD includes both the original cartoon and Bill’s version. The extras include long intelligent interviews with animation scholars about McCay and the value of Bill’s project. The interviews are with Leonard Maltin, Jerry Beck, Howard Beckerman, Karl Cohen and other animation experts. A really strange extra is Bill rediscovering a “lost” 16mm film outside a house Winsor McCay once lived in. It turns out to be a worn silent work print of Your Face, complete with “original” silent title cards. Although a silly joke, it shows how important sound can be to a film. Your Face was Bill’s first Oscar nominated film.

HAVE ANY ANIMATION ART FOR SALE? Pop-King Inc. purchases original production animation art, cels, pencil art, concept art, story boards and hand painted background art. They can buy one cel or a complete archive. In the last 5 years they have bought the archives of Filmation, Nelvana and art from small independent studios. Their animation inventory also includes art from over 200 animation artists. Steve Schanes, President, Pop-King Inc., HYPERLINK "tel:619%20922-0963" \t "_blank" 619 922-0963, PO Box 2072, La Mesa CA  91943, HYPERLINK "mailto:steveschanes@gmail.com"


HAS OUR STATE DEPARTMENT TAKEN ON AN ISSUE OF GREAT INTERNATIONAL IMPORTANCE? The Associated Press reports, “The U.S. is urging North Korea to respect intellectual property rights after an unauthorized stage performance of Disney characters at a concert for the country's new young leader. But State Department spokesman Patrick Ventrell said that since Washington does not have diplomatic relations with Pyongyang it could not raise the issue as it would in other countries. He broadly urged North Korea to meet its international obligations.”

“North Korean state TV showed performers dressed as Minnie Mouse, Tigger and other characters dancing against a backdrop of footage from Disney movies, an unusual departure for the isolated nation. New leader Kim Jong Un has sought to project an image of youth and modernity. The Walt Disney Co. says it did not authorize the performance.”


Perhaps we should offer Kim Jong Un a deluxe trip to Disneyland to meet Mickey instead of fussing over N. Korea having an unauthorized Mickey and Minnie.

CARTOONS CAN BE DANGEROUS TO YOUR HEALTH In July Fareed Lafta joined Kent Couch in an attempt to fly, while seated in a lawn chair supported by about 350 helium filled balloons, from Couch's gas station in Bend, Ore., to Montana. They floated along peacefully at 14,000 feet until thunderstorms grabbed control of their homemade craft and all hell broke loose. They kept shooting out their balloons with a BB gun to get back to earth, but updrafts kept making the rig rise. When they finally managed to get low enough to jump to the ground from the still moving craft they were about 40 miles east of their starting point. The pair still are planning a flight over Iraq.

Why would anybody think about traveling this way? Fareed Lafta said he had long wanted to fulfill a childhood dream inspired by the 1980s Care Bears cartoons, about bears with special powers that lived in the clouds. Kent Couch also attributes his interest in lawn chair flying to TV. He began flying lawn chairs in 2006, after seeing a TV show about the 1982 lawn chair flight over Los Angeles by a truck driver named Larry Walters.

CHUCK E. CHEESE HAS A HIPPER IMAGE Chuck E. Cheese is a children’s pizza chain founded by Nolan Bushnell, a co-founder of Atari. Atari created Pong, the first mass produced computer game and lots of other
early computer games. The animatronic rodent has now been turned into a hip, electric guitar playing rock star. The 35-year-old mascot started life as a rat that sometimes carried a cigar. CEC Entertainment, a Texas based corporation that now owns the chain, is trying to improve sales at its more than 500 pizza restaurants. I ate at the one in San Jose about 30 years ago and it was an awful experience. I seem to recall a singing moose head, flags waving and other animated things happening in the room. The “fun” stuff was designed to amuse young kids, not me. Kc

OH NO! NOW THEY TELL US THE NIELSEN TV RATINGS CAN BE RIGGED! On July 30 The Hollywood Reporter claimed there is “RAMPANT CORRUPTION” in India, and “suggests that similar bad activity is happening in Florida, Turkey and the Philippines.” Nielsen is being sued for billions by New Delhi Television Limited, India’s oldest and biggest news network. Apparently the news organization hopes to show Nielsen officials are willing to manipulate viewership records if you provide bribes.


“AUTODESK MAYA 2013 ESSENTIALS” BY PAUL NAAS: DON'T JUDGE THE BOOK BY ITS COVER, reviewed by Steve Segal If you are looking for an easy to understand introduction to Maya, this book is for you. Each step is described with simple instructions and further details are explained later in each chapter. This is definitely not an advanced approach to Maya, it is only the basics and that is its strength. In paring down each step in the process to easy to understand explanations, Maya's steep learning curve is flattened out. While defining the step by step processes, Naas also gives us common problems, so we can trouble shoot as well as follow the steps.

The book begins with a simple animation exercise, which is a smart way to go. It might seem more logical to explain how to build a model and then teach how to animate it, but by saving the most complex part of the process (rigging) for later Naas makes the learning process much more fun. The text is broken up basically into chapters on modeling, both poly and subdivision surfaces, then surfacing, blend shapes, joints, weights, rigging, animation, lighting and finally rendering and compositing; pretty much everything you need to get started.

My only complaint about the book is the cover illustration, the character is not very appealing and the pose is awkward, but don't let the cover dissuade you from getting this book. I recommended it highly.

ANIMATION MENTOR HAS AN EXCELLENT NEW DEMO REEL ONLINE OF STUDENT WORK It includes work from their character animation classes and animal and creatures master classes. They also have a 50% off sale on their two part animal and creatures course. HYPERLINK "http://www.animationmentor.com/campaign/showcase-2012/" HYPERLINK "http://www.animationmentor.com/admissions/animals-creatures-tuition-promo/"

WANT TO IMROVE YOUR SKILLS AS AN ANIMATOR? If you are interested in animating people and animals but don’t have the time or money to take courses, much of what you need to know is in Richard Williams’ revised edition of the Animator’s Survival Kit Animated. The book is required reading at many schools. Amazon sells used copies of the book for as low as $15.15. If you have the money and want to improve your skills, consider buying The Animator’s Survival Kit Animated, a set of 16 DVDs of Richard Williams’ master classes. HYPERLINK "http://www.theanimatorssurvivalkit.com/" (the DVD set).

“HOLLYWOOD REPORTER” HAS PUBLISHED THEIR CONTROVERSIAL “SECOND ANNUAL LIST OF TOP 25 FILM SCHOOLS” Four of the top five have strong animation programs: USC is ranked #1, costs $42,000 plus room and board. Beijing Film Academy is ranked #3 and has a very reasonable tuition, but classes not in English (Chinese classes are extra). UCLA is #4, has moderate rates, but it is expensive for nonresidents. NYU’s Tisch School of the Arts is #5 and the tuition is $46,000. Cal Arts is #8 with tuition of $38,438. Stanford, which doesn’t teach animation (they have a strong documentary program) is the only Bay Area institution on the list.

When it was published online some people sent notes to the editor. One said, “Such a travesty, it’s a big country club full of privileged kids. Very few ‘unconnected’ people who have so much art to give ever make it through the cracks. Don’t waste your time and money trying to fit in. Anyway the entertainment industry is dying a slow death.”

If you Google “top film schools” other lists are online. They disagree to some extent with the latest list, but most are informative. A video by somebody who calls himself “Script Bully” was fun to watch. Beware of plugs for for-profit schools that worm their way into this search. HYPERLINK "http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=D9fyuNuRses"

And now for news of the lucrative for-profit education industry

The for-profit issue has become a big enough national issue that on August 6 the comic strip “Doonesbury” began a story about the president of Walden discovering how he might become rich turning his school into a for-profit business.

MORE ON THE EDUCATIONAL LOAN CRISIS In the long editorial “Looking for Rats in Ratholes,” July 11, 2012, The NY Times began by saying, “A federal judge in Washington HYPERLINK "http://www.nytimes.com/2012/07/02/education/judge-strikes-a-for-profit-college-regulation.html" \o "A Times article" has overturned a central provision of the Obama administration’s rules for evaluating career-training programs that receive federal student aid. But the judge left the door open for the Department of Education to rewrite the regulations and strongly reaffirmed its authority to rein in unscrupulous, for-profit schools that bury students in debt while giving them valueless certificates or degrees. Instead of backing down, the department should revise the regulations and increase its efforts to make this industry accountable.” To read the rest use the NY Times online search tool at HYPERLINK "http://www.nytimes.com"

In The NY Times July 30 editorial titled “False Promises” there are lots of disquieting facts about what the author calls “an oily subgroup of for-profit schools.” It accuses them of costing “the taxpayers tens of billions of dollars a year” while the CEOs of the publically traded schools were paid an average of $7.3 million in 2009.

A Huffington Post April 22 article titled “In Weak Job Market, One In Two College Graduates Are Jobless Or Underemployed” wasn’t very optimistic. Is it good news that a college grad is more likely to get a job once filled by high-school graduates or that the college grad taking a job once filled by a high-school graduate may make more money in that position?

SENATOR HARKIN FROM IOWA HAS RELEASED A NEW REPORT ON FOR-PROFIT SCHOOLS While his hearings show for-profit schools provide access to many students who have historically not been well served by traditional institutions of higher learning, the data collected by the Senate H.E.L.P. Committee shows that the HYPERLINK "http://www.harkin.senate.gov/help/forprofitcolleges4.cfm" for-profit schools are not providing the education to help these students succeed. Data shows that 54% of students who enrolled in the 2008-2009 school year withdrew by summer 2010. About one in four of all students going to for-profit schools will default on federal student loans within 3 years of leaving school. Due to high tuition fees nearly all students at for-profit schools must borrow money to pay the cost of tuition. These students account for about 50 percent of all student loan defaults even though the schools only HYPERLINK "http://www.harkin.senate.gov/help/forprofitcolleges5.cfm" enroll about 10 percent of American higher education students. Despite poor student outcomes, HYPERLINK "http://www.harkin.senate.gov/help/forprofitcolleges6.cfm" for-profit schools are highly profitable companies. Profits at 16 of the largest for-profit schools totaled $2.7 billion in 2009. In other words the schools pocket huge profits even though most of the students leave with no degrees and many (most?) do not get employment in their chosen field. www.harkin.senate.gov/help/forprofitcolleges.sfm

A LAWSUIT AGAINST THE ACADEMY OF ART MOVES FORWARD A judge ruled in June that a civil court can proceed with a whistleblower lawsuit filed by four former Academy of Art recruiters (it was filed in 2009, but delayed by the school’s raising objections to it). The SF Chronicle reported in July that the four recruiters claim their pay was adjusted based on how many students they enrolled, a practice that the government says is illegal. It encourages recruiters to sign up unqualified students so the recruiter can get their full salary or even a bonus if they sign up extra students. Since the students often need government loans to attend the program, by accepting unqualified students who are not likely to graduate the school gets the money and the student gets stuck with a loan they may not be able to pay back. Uncle Sam believes the use of quotas to get one’s full salary results in the school encouraging the use of illegal tactics to get unqualified students to apply and the practice has resulted in million of dollars being given to unqualified students. The government says the practice results in their being defrauded out of millions of dollars as records show many of the loans go unpaid in part or in full. The college is claiming what it did was OK under a legal loophole.

By being whistleblowers for the government, the four former recruiters can get a percentage of what the government gets if they win the case. Since a judge has ruled the case can go forward the judge must see some merit to it. It will be interesting to learn the case’s outcome. If interested in knowing more details read the Chronicle’s long report by using the SF Gate’s online search for the July 13 cover story “Art school denies financial aid fraud” or visit: HYPERLINK "http://www.sfgate.com/education/article/Academy-of-Art-financial-aid-fraud-alleged-3703847.php"

“ACADEMY OF ART CAL GRANT ELIGIBILITY HAS BEEN REVOKED. THE STATE’S COMMISSION HAS CUT AID TO 154 UNDER-PERFORMING SCHOOLS” That was an August 1 headline from the Huffington Post. The article and others on the same topic tells us what Barry Keene, Chair of the California Student Aid Commission has been saying for years, that to protect students, parents and taxpayers they need to make sure Cal Grants are just going to students who are enrolled in “programs that deliver proven educational and career value."

The commission’s new rules for the 2012-’13 school year are designed to eliminate schools with high loan default rates and low graduation rates. That means about 7,800 students who were promised Cal Grants for the 2012-13 school year will not get them unless they can change schools before the fall semester starts. That is not an easy thing for many students to do.

The California Student Aid Commission’s website lists 154 schools no longer eligible for the grants. Among them are several that teach animation and/or filmmaking. Besides the Academy of Art they include Expression College for Digital Art in the East Bay and three campuses in The Art Institutes of California chain (Los Angeles, Hollywood and Sunnyvale). (For different reasons the US Govt. is suing the Art Institute chain and the parent corporation for a few billion dollars for fraud.) Also on the list are some of the giant for-profit schools including University of Phoenix and Kaplan College, ITT Technical Institute, Heald College and DeVry. The HYPERLINK "http://www.csac.ca.gov/NEWS/07-31-12_1st_in_nation_grad_and_loan_default_rate_benchmarks_eliminate_154_schools.pdf" \t "_hplink" new guidelines require that institutions have a student loan default rate of 15.5 percent or less and a graduation rate of 30% or higher. I suspect the Academy of Art will probably get off the list eventually as their graduation rate is 29.2%. The record shows the school has a 10.62% default rate. http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/08/01/academy-of-art-cal-grant_n_1731120.html?utm_hp_ref=san-francisco

A LAWSUIT AGAINST THE CALIFORNIA CULINARY ACADEMY IN SF RESULTED IN A $40 MILLION SETTLEMENT The issue of schools possibly exploiting students is now being examined by our courts. The case against this cooking school that was located on Polk Street is somewhat related to what is happening at some schools teaching animation. Apparently students, often lacking the necessary qualifications, get accepted to these expensive schools and are told they have great careers awaiting them. Just take out government educational loans and… When they look for work, many are shocked to find no jobs, unpaid internships or low paying ones. For details Google “Culinary Academy of California, SF lawsuit.”

SEE THE ACADEMY OF ART’S WORLD CLASS AUTO MUSEUM You know the school owns a lot of real estate as a lot of buildings display the school’s logo. You may not be aware that Richard Stevens, the former president/owner of the university, owns a world class collection of more than 165 remarkable looking, beautifully restored, classic cars. They are displayed annually at the city’s big auto show, at charity fund raisers and in Van Ness auto showrooms owned by the school (his family - The main showroom is at Washington and Van Ness.) According to the school, the cars serve as inspiration for their School of Industrial Design students. One of the school's websites says “they give students an edge on designing for a cleaner and greener future.” I’m not sure I understand the logic of how being the only art school with its very own collection of magnificent gas guzzlers from the past gives one an edge on inspiring ideas for a greener future, but it is a mighty impressive private collection. I also wonder if there are many employment opportunities for automotive design graduates and where are the jobs located? Tour the collection online at www.academyautomuseum.com

THE NOVEMBER 2012 ELECTION AND FOR-PROFIT SCHOOLS Romney has major financial backing from big education corporations, has praised for-profit schools in speeches, especially Full Sail in Florida. If he wins I suspect he will try to undo laws to regulate these institutions.

by Karl Cohen

You can also read this article online where there are photos and links to some of the films mentioned. http://www.awn.com/articles/people/what-great-animation

Since the late 1970s I’ve been saying animation is a great, if not the greatest art form of our time. I recently decided to ask students, animation artists, teachers and studio administrators, what is great animation? I wasn’t expecting to find a single answer as a lot has to do with personal taste and how one relates to it in their life. What I hoped to learn was some of the many ways people admire it.

I began by asking my animation history students at the start of the spring semester what they thought was really exciting animation. When the semester was ending they were asked to write a short paper on what they thought was great animation. I was curious to see if their interests and answers had changed since the course had begun. Had the course influenced their thinking?

Comments by students

On the first day of class I asked what films they expected to study. Most students had relatively little exposure to animation outside of first run features, anime, TV series, music videos and whatever they had discovered on the Internet. When asked what their favorite animated films were they mentioned The Simpsons, Family Guy and other TV shows, Disney features from the 1990s, and several anime titles.

Most were surprised when I told them that I would barely cover most of the works they were familiar with. In fact one year a student was so upset with that news that he dropped out as he thought the course was going to be about anime!

My course exists mainly to inspire animation students, so they see a lot of historical and contemporary shorts from the US and abroad. They are unfamiliar with most of them as they are not easy to see. Most are important works of exceptional artistic or literary merit; ones that advanced the art and technology of animation. There isn’t time to show run-of-the-mill work.

For their final paper I asked them to select and write about three films that they have seen and consider great works. They did not have to be ones seen in class. I was delighted that their papers showed they had given a lot of thought to the assignment.

One student picked silent stars (Wall-E, Gromit and the male star of The Triplets of Belleville). Another wrote about acting by faceless characters (Luxo Jr., a silhouette short by Lotte Reininger and the Oompahs, a UPA short staring musical instruments). The most frequently discussed film was Madame Tutli-Putli from the National Film Board of Canada, followed by UPA’s Tell Tale Heart, Henry Selick’s “The Nightmare Before Christmas” and Nick Park’s “Creature Comforts.” One student wrote about three modern stop-motion horror films, Door by David Anderson, M. Tutli-Putli and Nightmare Before Christmas, while another found M. Tutli-Putli, Chris Landreth’s “Ryan” and Jan Svankmajer’s “Dimensions of Dialog” exciting explorations of the human condition.

A few students stressed the storytelling abilities in certain works including films with no narration (For the Bird by Ralph Egglestons and Balance by Christoph and Wolfgang Lauenstein). An Asian student wrote about classic Chinese shorts. Other nice papers were on expressive acting, new directions in animation, developments in stop-motion and things animation can do that can’t be done in live action films.

Several things surprised me. The only Disney feature mentioned was Fantasia. One paper mentioned the “Sorcerer’s Apprentice” segment from it and another discussed the “Night on Bald Mountain.” Nobody wrote about TV animation, features from DreamWorks or shorts by the Fleischers, Disney, Otto Messmer, Winsor McCay, or Tex Avery. Several foreign features that were briefly mentioned but not shown in class were discussed. They included Persepolis, Waltz with Bashir, Mary and Max, Grave of the Fireflies, Princess Mononoke, Spirited Away and Richard Williams’ unfinished Thief and the Cobbler. I also noticed that many of the films chosen had received Oscar nominations.

Comments by independent animators

Since I could only glean so much information from my students’ papers I asked several friends involved in different ways with animation for their comments.

Independent animator David Ehrlich is a visiting professor at Dartmouth and at Beijing's Communications University. He says, “Great animation, like someone you love, you want to see over and over again without a single thought of anything else.”

Joanna Priestley, whom Bill Plympton calls “the queen of independent animation," says “Great animation leaves me with deep inspiration in my life and work. Occasionally, great animation gives me a deeper understanding of what life means.”

Paul Fierlinger who has directed My Dog Tulip and over 800 shorts, says, “Great animation is the kind of film that surprises from beginning to end, but also throughout the screening there is this strong urge to stop the film and find a friend to share it with. This has a lot to do with originality of form and sound that come together to stir up strong emotions. But just the joy of encountering exceptional art is enough to fulfill the label ‘great animation.”

Signe Baumane is creating Rocks in My Pockets, a personal feature. She writes, “For me animation is great because it can be used as a visual shortcut to complicated ideas and feelings. That's why animation tires normal audiences out after 70 minutes; it is so dense with meaning that it makes an audience's brain work harder. Very stimulating.”

Emily Hubley says, “For me, the two greatest aspects of animation are the element of surprise (for both the creator and the viewer) and its universality. I've found that the most oblique personal epiphanies will resonate with others as long as they are true.”

French animator Leonard Cohen, who’s short Plato won the Best Student Animation prize at Annecy in 2011 and presently lives in California, writes, “Thanks for asking about greatness in animation. That's something people should think about. For me, animation is a mix of mathematics and music. It is a matter of combinations. It is the media that never looks the same. What excites me is the multiplicity of magic tricks: visual, optical, artistic possibilities possible. Animation allows us to experiment, to treat any subject, idea, concept or story in new ways. It allows us to invent.” Leonard’s film Plato is a brilliant study of such possibilities. See it on the Internet at HYPERLINK "http://vimeo.com/29504730"

Comments by commercial animators and administrators

Marcy Page, a National Film Board of Canada producer whose credits include Madame Tutli-Putli and other Oscar nominated/winning shorts, says, “There are so many possibilities for greatness in animation. I like the phrase ‘Art that moves.’ Animation can both choreograph all manner of form and move one emotionally. It is great when an animator blends perfectly a quirky medium with just the right ‘message,’ when the two are so integrally wrapped in a way that neither McLuhan nor anyone else could have predicted. Animation can consume any other art form in its wake and compress the disparate bits into humor, surprise and awe...endless possibility.”

George Evelyn is the co-creator of Sheriff Callie's Wild West, a Disney Junior show for tots that is presently in production. George told me, “Animation is a great job. What I like about my particular niche in the Animation Universe (I've been doing pre-school TV shows for the past couple of years), is that we're sort of carrying on the old 1930's tradition of classic surreal talking-animal cartoons, with nutty colors, slapstick comedy, and lots of singing and dancing. But we get to do it with ultra-modern CGI.”

William Dennis, a former VP of Disney Feature Animation and founding partner of the International Animation Consulting Group wrote two points of view on what's great about animation. “First, from the point of view of the artist, animation is a medium that allows even the most bashful of us to express ourselves 'on stage'. With a decent amount of creativity and a couple of props (pencil or stylus), you can put it out there for others to enjoy (or not). What can be better than that?”

“From a business perspective, what I like most is the seemingly unlimited scope of opportunities for producing revenues from animated projects. First, virtually all of the same revenue producing avenues available to live action projects are open to animation projects including theatrical release, television release, games, DVD etc. etc.. But in addition, revenues from merchandise, publications and direct to video are particularly well suited to animation projects and can make the difference between profit and loss.”

Ken Pontac has written for many TV series and was the co-creator, director and co-producer of “Bump in the Night” (ABC-TV). He says, “Great animation inspires, delights and surprises its audience. It shows them something they’ve never seen, and makes them think of something they’ve never imagined. Technique is only part of the equation. The crude cut out style of South Park has told stories as meaningful and entertaining as the most fluid Pixar feature.”

“I suppose that I’m focusing more on story than style, but, after all, I’m a writer, not an animator. All things being equal, I think the greatest animated films ever made were the old Warner Brothers and MGM shorts, which set me on the path that’s brought me to where I am today. The timing, the energy, and the economy of content that created so much impact in a seven-minute film is unsurpassed, and the result has delighted generations and generated billions in revenue.”

John Hays, a founder and president of WildBrain, has had a rich and varied life working in animation. He says, “Animation is great because it's the only art form that can include ALL the other art forms.”

J.J. Sedelmaier and his wife opened J.J. Sedelmaier Productions Inc. in 1990. It is one of our nation’s top animation studios, known for cutting-edge commercial animation, print campaigns and other cool things. He writes, “My attraction to animation has always been anchored in the endless opportunities it provides me to combine design, story and sound design, choosing or developing a graphic vocabulary, a ‘look,’ that pushes the idea as far as it can go, and then marrying it with a unique audio identity. That still juices me like it did on Day 1! Gathering a group to work on the project is also a joy. It's always different and it's not unlike what I would imagine assembling a repertory company to perform a piece of theater is like, each player with something unique to contribute but never playing the same role the same way twice.”

“When Patrice and I started our company over 20 years ago, animation was just beginning to garner a mainstream adult audience. The Simpsons, and MTV with their station/network ID’s, were demonstrating how animation and cartoons could attract and hold the interest of more than just kids. I’m most proud of being involved with helping this transition move forward by helping launch projects like MTV’s Beavis and Butt-Head, and co-creating with Robert Smigel, Saturday Night Live’s “Saturday TV Funhouse” series. People like Bill Plympton, Don Hertzfeldt, Richard Williams, and Paul Fierlinger have all been instrumental in exploring and pushing the craft into areas unthinkable years ago! It’s been wonderful to see animation get so much of the credit its due, and it’s been an honor to be a small part of the community!”

Kevin Coffey has run Cartoonland in San Francisco since 1982. He has also worked for Wildbrain, ILM, Colossal Pictures, Mill Valley Animation and other studios. He says, “I am the proverbial ‘little guy,’ the smallest of one-man operations who can make a living as an artist without leaving his living room. I've worked on some big projects (there's an extended 2-D sequence of mine of ghosts in Selick and Burton's Nightmare Before Christmas), but a lot of the stuff I do these days is never seen by the general public (corporate animation, web-only animation etc.). Same with illustration work. For every high profile children's book I illustrate for a major sports franchise there's 10 that will never be seen by the general public (textbook illustration, web-only illustration and first time authors whose work isn’t widely distributed).”

“It's subjective, but a commercial artist has to learn quickly if he wishes to earn a living. He better create artwork that ‘works’ for the client and expect most clients to ask for changes. Still artwork or moving artwork requires balancing elements in space to create pleasing compositions that easily read. Then there's the entertainment value of those elements and with animation added there's the performance of these various elements to be considered. It is best to build on a house that has solid foundations.”

“For me, great animation can be defined by two words- ‘it works.’ Composition, design, color and subject matter come together combined with great animated performances to create an experience that is greater than the sum of its parts. There are countless examples in the enormous sea of work that is the history of animation - Little cartoon bugs breaking into a funny ‘fey’ dance in an early Silly Symphony, a bored fairy sprinkling morning dew on a spider's web in Fantasia - a horrific, monstrous mosquito spreading malaria to an entire community of people - a child discovering their own super powers in The Incredibles - it just doesn't stop. There are thousands and thousands of great moments in the history of animation, sometimes just a few seconds long. My goal is to create a few of these moments before finally putting down my pencil.”

Comments by educators

Maureen Furniss, CalArts faculty, founding editor of “Animation Journal” and noted author, told me, “I think that great films are films that tap into the essence of being human, across cultures. It’s kind of that simple, at least to me. That accounts for the greatness of a wide range of narrative films that are aesthetically different, such as Adam Elliot’s films which are quite limited in their animation, to the incredibly detailed layers in the animation of Frederic Back’s The Man Who Planted Trees and non-narrative (maybe dreamlike) or abstract films can represent significant themes of humanity or states of being also, without using the device of a linear ‘story’ to relate them.”

Duan Jia, who heads the animation department in the Creative Media College of the Beijing Film Academy, writes, “Through animation, everyone can create different worlds, one by one, that never repeat, never come to an end.”

Tsvika Oren, who teaches in Israel, writes, “My definition of ‘Great animation’ is movement of visuals, figurative or abstract, which influences my feelings and thoughts as in Joanna Queen’s Wife of Bath Tale, Frederic Back’s The Mighty River and Sara Petty’s Picture Windows. A great animated film is one which becomes a personal experience, a film that moves and stimulates me, a film I want to see again and again. Not necessarily one with great animation. Rather, it must have the most suitable animation (and design, sound, timing, etc) for its created world, based on profound and sensitive observation, in order to be a great film.”

Ed Hooks, who has traveled around the world teaching Acting for Animators and has written a best selling book on the subject, says, “Like music, animation communicates directly with the heart. It does not need to be translated in order to be appreciated. When a story is told through animation, the audience accepts it openly and playfully. This attribute of animation makes it one of the most powerful methods of communicating, one tribe to another. It is a common and universal language. I think Walt Disney set us on the right path when he gave Mickey Mouse a brain. Instantly, Mickey became one of us and took his place on the storytelling stage along side of the best human actors in the world. Would ‘The Iron Giant’ be as moving if it was live-action? Not to me, it wouldn't. How about The Grave of the Fireflies or Spirited Away, would they work as live-action? No, never. Animation is unique, powerful and heart-felt, and that is at least part of the reason why animation is great.”

Chris Robinson is the artistic director of the Ottawa Animation Festival, has written several books and writes a controversial column at awn.com under the name of “The Animation Pimp.” He says, "The best animation - whether indie or commissioned - comes from artists who know that animation is whatever the fuck it wants to be - not what Walt, Blair, schools, executives, broadcasters, buyers and lots of lousy teachers tell them it is. Walt Disney and Preston Blair should be condemned as the enemies of animation. They - and their lazy preachers - teach you to FOLLOW...to APE, not to THINK and EXPLORE and EXPERIENCE on your own."

My (Karl Cohen) own view is based on studying and working with animation as a teacher, film exhibitor, writer and independent and commercial filmmaker. I see great animation as a wonderful way to explore life from many different directions. It can be a private personal study or a commercial project. It can amuse, communicate serious messages, make us feel a wide variety of emotions and/or it can be a highly intellectual experience.

Animation’s potential is only limited by the boundaries of our imaginations. While it can duplicate the real world, its greatest potential is to go beyond what has been done before, to expand the universe of creativity. Surrealism, to go beyond what is real, is basic to most animation. It allows us to believe in and experience the impossible. Like day dreams we can venture into unknown worlds that can be idealized golden moments or take on terrifying journeys into dark places. People usually are comfortable going along with the animator’s work as it allows for a safe passage where ever it takes us.

To be a successful animator one does not need to master every skill. If the work’s content or the person’s technical skills capture and hold our attention, flaws in other areas of the production are often overlooked. Story isn’t always important to us. Unlike the world we live in the animated world does not have to conform to any preconceived rules. Animation at its best is a remarkable form of art and I suspect it will remain so for many centuries to come.

Alternative points of view

In the process of researching this paper two people sent me notes that questioned the importance of greatness in animation. Dr. Janeann Dill did her graduate work at Cal Arts (MFA) and European Graduate School (PhD), is a fine artist (painter), experimental animator/animation artist and the authorized biographer of Jules Engel HYPERLINK "http://jules-engel.com/Bio" She wrote, “As a young writer, I asked Jules Engel which of his films was his favorite. He introduced his response by saying ‘I don't know about favorite, but the most important ...’. Ever the positive artist-teacher-mentor, Engel's response taught me to think more critically about my use of language. This conversation reminds me of that conversation. I have grown uncomfortable with language that heightens a subjective and personal hierarchy, such as ‘favorite’ and ‘great,’ although I understand the asking as a way to stimulate discourse, so I want to respond.”

“The compelling qualities of animation that attract my attention and hold my interest are its direct ability to unpack an idea in time and its inherent interdisciplinarity to reach across the boundaries of cinema, technology, literature, dance, music, philosophy, science and art. To experience a particular animation as interesting or more compelling than another, i.e., to elicit a greater or lesser aesthetic experience, means that the animation communicates a consciousness in its creator of being as equally committed to the particular idea of the piece itself as to the inherent qualities of the animation mode. That moment is the moment I walk away and want to share the good news that an intelligent work of art can move one to absolute joy!”

The second person is independent animator George Griffin whose works I’ve admired since the late 1970s when I saw Candy Machine and The Club. More recently his abstract images in Koko capture the essence of the Charlie Parker performance on the film’s soundtrack; his figurative A Little Routine is a loving moment with his daughter and New Fangled is a caustic or cynical moment at an advertising agency meeting. George is a remarkable fine artist whose personal work can not be pigeonholed into a style, school or technique. He creates what is appropriate for the project at hand.

When I asked George to be part of this project he suggested I take into account the avant-garde/experimental film work of Robert Breer (1926 – 2012), an important American artist who for over 50 years worked in many mediums including animation. Breer’s animated works do not fit neatly into this project (about 7 or 8 of them are on YouTube including Fuji, 1974, that was added to the National Film Registry in 2002). They are important abstract kinetic works of art that are extremely personal experiences. He was a part of the East Coast avant-garde art world and his work at various times reflects elements of Abstract Expressionism, the absurdness of Dada, the spirit of fun found in Pop art and the severe boldness of Minimalism. He provided film for early Happenings in NYC and exhibited work with Alexander Calder and other kinetic artists. He was an important part of the American art landscape for several decades.

Breer’s work is difficult for the general public to relate to as there is neither a traditional story nor a cast of characters. He works with abstract lines and forms that create their own patterns of movement. There can be themes that may be repeated from time to time (the same or similar images) and his designs may grow and metamorphose into other forms. There may be visual counterpoint to the passage you are seeing and various visual moods can be expressed.

Unlike the abstract films of Oskar Fischinger, Mary Ellen Butte and other pioneers of abstract animation, he used sounds and music sparingly. In A Man And His Dog Out For Air (1957) the only sounds are birds chirping. In Fuji the soundtrack seems to come from the wheels of the train he is on clicking on the rails. In the works of his I’m familiar with, he is not illustrating pieces of music; he is using sound to enhance his kinetic art.

Color is another element he uses sparingly. Instead Breer stays focused on exploring the many ways he can use shapes and lines. In some of his early films like Blazes (1961) his work reminds me of the bold splashy forms of abstract expressionist paintings from the 1950s, but in A Man and A Dog Out For Air we see no bold forms. Instead we see constantly changing lines that flow in a somewhat lyrical way. In Swiss Army Knife With Rats and Pigeons (1980) forms reminiscent of his early works appear along with drawings that suggest Pop Art subjects (a roll of Scotch Tape, tin cans, etc.) and semi-figurative images of animals that appear and disappear quickly. His films seem to be explorations of new concepts and the result is a rich range of works. You can find his work online and articles about him using Google.

As I reflect on Jules Engel’s comments and the works of George Griffin and Robert Breer I was reminded that some animation exists to please the public and other works are private/personal experiences. If the latter also excite the public, great, but that is not necessary for them to be considered significant works of art.

I thank all who have contributed to this intelligent discussion about animation. An interesting observation in reviewing this research project is how we used the word “great” in slightly different ways based on the way we are related to art form. When I began this project I told people I expected a wide range of answers as the word’s meaning is actually quite vague. What I didn’t consider at first is that the word is somewhat inappropriate to use when describing the work of some significant artists. We must use other criteria, knowledge and words to express our thoughts and feelings about their work.

It has been a pleasure researching and writing this article and I hope it influences some readers, especially students, to go deeper into their exploration of what animation can be and to not simply and superficially call it great.

Nik and Nancy’s friends gather for a group photo at the picnic.

“THE WALL STREET JOURNAL’S” BIZARRE ARTICLE ABOUT THE ANNECY FESTIVAL MENTIONS NIK AND NANCY’S PICNIC AS A HIGHLIGHT While reporter Francis Robinson mentions a few famous animators who have attended past festivals, she focuses on the goofy side of Annecy like “Mr. Appleby, toting a silver-sequin handbag” and Oscar winner Peter Lord offering people slices of ham. Francis also tells us, “On the lakeside lawn a picnic hosted by composer Nik Phelps and his wife, Nancy Denney-Phelps, is in full swing. The picnic follows a game of rounders – a British version of softball – and a pedalo* race. None of this is part of the official festival; Ms. Denney Phelps, who sports chandelier earrings made of tiny glass chili peppers, says she loves the event and wanted to add to it. While water pistols are fired and braver participants leap into the lake, a team of Dutch animation graduates powers round the island to take victory.” * “pedalo” = paddle boat race

Google “No Red Carpet or Paparazzi at This Film Festival” if interested in reading the full article. Nancy says the article is like the way the WSJ has covered Burning Man.

Lee Marrs comments, "There's no such thing as bad publicity, which is a paraphrase of Oscar Wilde's ‘There is only one thing worse than being talked about and that is NOT being talked about."

THE ANNECY INTERNATIONAL ANIMATION FESTIVAL 2012 by Nancy Denney Phelps I always approach Annecy with mixed feelings. On the one hand it is an opportunity to see so many dear old friends from all over the world, along with special programs that won’t screen at any other festival, but over the past few years it has become very commercial and shifted the emphasis away from short, independent animation to feature films. With over 7,000 people attending the festival it has become harder and harder for people to get tickets to screenings that they want to see, and if you don’t book a room very early you could end up staying miles from the festival. This year, in spite of many potential difficulties, I did enjoy myself.

The big news of the week wasn’t about film per se, but was Serge Bromberg’s closing night announcement that after 14 years as Festival Artistic Director he is passing the artistic baton to Marcel Jean. Serge wants to concentrate his efforts on his production company, Lobster Films which finds and restores classic films such as his recent efforts in restoring missing footage to George Melies’ 1902 film A Trip To The Moon. He did say that he will see us all next year as he already has tickets for the 2013 festival.

The new Artistic Director, Marcel Jean, is a Canadian producer, director, and author who is probably best known as the producer of the 2009 short Sleeping Betty. He has promised to “shake up a few habits and offer festival goers a host of surprises”. Marcel is a familiar face on the festival scene and I think he will do an excellent job.

Shorts in competition

For the past few years I have felt that the selections in the Short Film Competition have been lacking, with many of the best films relegated to Out Of Competition programs or even worse, rejected all together. This year the concept of an international selection jury was replaced by the three man team of Laurent Million, Yves Nougarede, and Sebastien Sperer from the Creative Content department of CITIA. I am pleased to say that they did a very good job and that the 5 programs of the Short Film Competition were by and large very strong.

I was very impressed by the great British puppet animator Barry Purves’ Tchaikovsky, An Elegy. The beautifully crafted Tchaikovsky puppet was so life like that I almost forgot that I was watching an animated film. The attention paid to even the smallest detail of set design was a delight to the eyes. The film is based on Barry’s adaptation of Russian producer Irina Margolina’s Tchakovsky’s Letters and is one of a series of shorts about composers produced by the multi-talented Margolina.

Another puppet animation that moved me was Danish director Johan Oettinger’s Seven Minutes In The Warsaw Ghetto. The story of an 8 year old Jewish boy living in the Warsaw Ghetto during World War II is based on a true event. As hungry Smaek struggles to pull a carrot through a hole in the Ghetto wall, he is unaware of the two SS men on the other side following his every move. The tragic climax of the film is intensified by stark black and white and the absence of dialogue. Seven Minutes In The Warsaw Ghetto won a special mention from the short film jury.

The shorts competition was also full of delightfully humorous films. Chinti by the very talented young Armenian director Natalia Mirzoyan made me smile. I will never think of an ant in the same way again after watching this small ant try against tough odds to fulfil his big dream to build a miniature version of the Taj Mahal after finding a picture of the magnificent structure. Natalia used different colors and textures of tea along with 2D computer techniques to create a unique visual effect. Unfortunately, the quality of the projection for this film on the big screen at the Bonlieu theatre was not sufficient to show the beautiful textures and colors of the tea that can be seen on the DVD version on a smaller screen. Instead it looked like rather bad computer animation.

US animator Matthew O’Callaghan’s cartoon took me back to my childhood when a trip to the movies always included a wacky short. In Daffy’s Rhapsody, Matthew was inspired by the early 1950’s recording of Daffy’s Rhapsody, an old Mel Blanc song which was never animated. He used Blanc’s original voice while creating a story around the song.

Elmer Fudd goes to the theatre and is surprised to find Daffy Duck on stage singing about the woes of always falling prey to hunters who shoot at him. In true Elmer style, the urge to grab his gun and pursue Daffy is just too strong. Throughout the ensuing scenes Daffy sings on while trying to avoid the blasts from Elmer’s gun. I’m usually not impressed with the current trend toward 3D animation but for once I actually forgot that I was wearing the glasses because the effect really enhanced the chase scenes.

PES’s Fresh Guacamole follows in the footstep of his clever films that use familiar foods, household items, and found objects. This time PES gives us a cooking lesson on how to make guacamole in his own inevitable humorous fashion.

Sunny Afternoon by Austrian animator Thomas Renoldner is his analysis of avant-garde film and music video genres that explore taboos and clichés. Thomas, a great champion of avant-garde film, first started this film 20 years ago and just finished it. When not making films, curating festivals, teaching and writing books, Thomas has put together a new DVD, Animation Avant-Garde DVD 01. The DVD features films by such renowned animators as Andreas Hykade, Signe Baumane, and Max Hattler as well as upcoming young talent. You can find a complete list of the films and animators along with how to order this excellent collection at HYPERLINK "http://www.animation-avantgarde.com"

Czech animator Michaela Pavlatova has always been in the forefront of showing sexuality from the female point of view. A new film full of her wickedly sardonic humour is always a treat. Her latest erotic work Tram takes us into the fantasies and urges of a female tram driver whose imagination transforms reality into a surreal and phallic delirium. The Short Film jury shared my delight in Tram and awarded it the Annecy Cristal, the top prize of the festival. Michaela also received a second honour by capturing the Fipresci Award given by the International Federation of Film Critics.


I had already seen several of the 10 feature films in competition and the 15 that were screened out of competition, but there were a few new surprises. Argentina has a long, rich history of animation, but for far too long South American animation has been virtually unknown to most of the world. This is beginning to change and two of my favourite feature films at the festival were from South America. The Argentinean/Spanish co-production Anima Buenos Aires is made up of four separate stories by four different animators. It delves into the heart and soul of that glorious city as it faces up to the onslaught of globalization. The vignettes of Buenos Aires life are set to the strains of tango, evocative music of Argentina.

I saw a “work in progress” of the film last year and it really lived up to my expectations. I particularly enjoyed the first piece Pissed By Dogs animated by Florence and Paul Faivre. The story of a local butcher who is losing his customers when a powerful large chain market moves into his neighbourhood is an unfortunately all too familiar story. Pablo Rodrigues Jauregui’s Cloustropolis is a love story between two older children. A naive, sheltered young boy falls in love with a street wise girl who spends her day creating beautiful graffiti all over the city. The 4 pieces are linked together by the animated stencilled tango dancers that perform all over the city. They were created by the award winning animator Juan Pablo Zaramella (Luminaris, Lapsus, etc.)

Selkirk, El Verdadero Robinson Crusoe (Selkirk, The Real Story of Robinson Crusoe) was a delightful surprise. The almost true story of the castaway who inspired English writer Daniel Defoe is a Uruguay/Chile/Argentinean co-production directed and animated by Walter Tournier from Uruguay. The stop-motion puppet animation is based on the true adventures of Scottish privateer Alexander Selkirk who was marooned on an island in the uninhabited Juan Fernandez archipelago off the coast of Chile. Today the island is known as Robinson Crusoe Island.

The film is designed for young children, but with a good script and excellent puppets it is a film the entire family can enjoy. It’s exciting to see a well made film from Uruguay and proves that with a good script and talented people, you don’t have to have a big Hollywood budget to make an entertaining film. Both of the South American productions were screened out of competition.

Narrated from beyond the grave by the title character, Crulic, The Path to Beyond is a true story of the life and final days of a Romanian immigrant falsely imprisoned in a Polish prison. Crulic died in prison while on a hunger strike protesting his innocence. Director Anca Damian combines hand drawn images, collage, stop motion, and cut out animation to tell a tragic story that is beautifully written and visually powerful. Crulic, The Path to Beyond was given the Cristal for Best Feature Film.

I am happy that Arrugas (Wrinkles), a frank film about Alzheimer Disease by Spanish director Ignacio Ferreras, received a Special Distinction Award from the jury. The producer told me it will soon be released in US and France.

Special presentations

This year Annecy saluted Irish animated shorts with four programs covering a wide range of styles and topics spanning the country’s animated history from the 1930’s 3 minute Miclin Mac to the most contemporary work. One program was devoted to imprisonment, a recurring theme in Irish animation, from psychological captivity to physical oppression. Tomm Moore’s beautiful feature film The Secret of Kells, a lovely story about Ireland’s national treasure The Book of Kells was also shown.

An impressive rare British feature When the Wind Blows by Jimmy Murakama was shown. It uses irony and absurdity to illustrate the danger of ignoring the horrors of nuclear war in his portrayal of a British couple who live in the countryside and choose not to worry about the possibility of armed missiles landing around them. Many people consider this 1986 feature film to be one of the greatest animated anti-war statements along side of Norman McLaren’s powerful Neighbors. Although When the Wind Blows never received a theatrical release, it was awarded the Annecy Feature Film Crystal in 1987.

The Big Sleep pays homage to those creative talents that left us in 2011, Nobruhiro Aihara, Karen Aqua, Vincent Joseph Cafarelli, Zdenek Miller and Jean Giraud (Moebius). They are gone but they will never be forgotten by anyone who loves animation.

A tribute to Borge Ring

It’s always lovely to give thanks to a remarkable animator while he is still with us. The delightful Danish animator Inni Karina Melby worked closely with the festival to pay homage to the renowned Dutch animator and jazz musician Borge Ring. Borge is over 90 years old and no longer travels, but his daughter, Anne Micke Bovelett-Ring, introduced a screening of his work with some humorous and touching reminiscences about her father. Following Anne’s words Ring appeared on the screen in a video introduction to give us his own greeting.

It has been quite a while since I have seen his films on the big screen but the 1985 Academy Award winning Anna and Bella is as delightful as when I first saw it. The film touches on a wide range of emotions in only 7 1/2 minutes as two elderly sisters relive the past over a photo album and a great deal of red wine.

Oh My Darling, nominated in 1978 for an Academy Award, follows the changing relationship between a daughter and her parents as she grows up and leaves home to start her own family. A great source of delight to her parents, she goes from being a baby in the womb to young woman becoming a mother herself in a mere 8 minutes.

His most touching and personal film is Run of the Mill produced by Borge and his wife Joanike. It is the sad story of a young man who grows up in a happy home but falls prey to drug use. A drug dealer uses the young man’s curiosity about drugs to draw him deeper and deeper into the world of addiction. As their son retreats into his own world, as though enclosed in a bubble, his parents aren’t able to penetrate the bubble and are forced to stand helplessly by and watch the tragedy unfold.

In February 2012 a devastating fire swept through Joanika and Borge’s home, destroying their lifetime of memories including his Oscar, which melted in the blaze. With characteristic humour and panache the Rings choose not to look back but to move on into the future.

Borge is also well known outside of the animation community as a professional jazz guitarist, performing with violinist Sven Asmusses. Sven is well into his 90’s and known as the fiddling Viking. Ring has appeared on the “Jazz Behind the Dikes” record series as well as with a host of other jazz greats.

This year Ring was honoured at the Annies with the Windsor McCay lifetime achievement Award for his anmation. I can’t think of a more fitting recipient. Watching his films they are as fresh and topical as when they were made. You can read more about his remarkable life and see his films at HYPERLINK "http://www.borgering.com"

Films from Canada

The National Film Board of Canada is renowned for the high quality of the films they produce. At their press reception they gave us a preview of their four films in competition and two in panorama as well as a look at new films in production. The NFB has the only Alexeeieff-Parker pin screen still in use. Michele Lemieux, inspired by a workshop given by renowned pin screen master Jacques Drouin, has made the first animation using the screen which had sat idle after Drouin’s retirement. When I asked her why she had chosen this technique to create Le Grand Ailleurs et Elsewhere (Here and the Great Elsewhere) she said that she was fascinated by the painstaking skill and concentration required to work with it. The film is a mischievous, abstract look at the profound reflections of every man and the eternal quest for meaning.

Regina Pessoa’s previous film Tragic Story With A Happy Ending won the Annecy Crystal in 2006 so I was looking forward to seeing her latest work Kali le petit vampire which is co-produced by France, Portugal, Canada and Switzerland. Her dark story of a very unusual boy trying to find his place in the world takes several viewings to begin to appreciate because it is a very complex film. The story is told by an aged Kali as he remembers the day he finally made peace with himself. Kali le petit vampire, third in Regina’s childhood tales trilogy, is narrated by Oscar Winning actor Christopher Plummer.

Franck Dion added to the long list of award winning NFB films when his film, Edmond Etait Un Ane (Edmond Was A Donkey) received a Special Jury Award from the Short Film Jury. His film delicately probes the eternal issue of being different versus social conformity using 2D/3D photos and the computer.

Attending Annecy means you will have a very busy week. With over 500 films screened over the 6 days of the festival it is impossible to see everything, much less attend all of the special events and presentations. Annecy is also work in progress sessions, conferences, television and commissioned film competitions, making of talks and MIFA.

To read more of Nancy’s comments about Annecy 2012, about MIFA, the annual Annecy+ event she puts on with Bill Plympton, major equipment problems with the sound on 35mm prints, an event from Cal Arts, the social scene including some of the people she ran into, a bit of gossip, the closing night ceremony, her annual picnic and paddle boat race and a dozen or so other parties, and much more visit her blog at HYPERLINK "http://sprockets.animationblogspot.com/"

GENE DEITCH ON ANNECY “Have you ever been to Annecy? It is truly one of the most charming towns in Europe - that is, the old core at the lake front. I first attended the festival in 1960, no 7,000 person throng then. The total festival attendance was 200 delegates. We all stayed together at the Imperial Palace Hotel; high elegance and camaraderie. I remember, there was Hubley, Jones, Cannon, Halas, Kimball, Lye, McLaren..., all the international greats. We all went on splendid picnics together, boat armadas... And the films were shown in a lakeside casino, since torn down. It was a whole different thing. I've stopped going, because aside from the new Czech stars; it's just a monstrous throng. I hardly know anyone there. All my old colleagues are gone. Zdenka and I still like to visit Annecy, just for the town. The restaurants and atmosphere are great. It is best enjoyed when there is no festival. But there are great memories!”

COMING EVENTS: Ron Diamond’s Animation Show of Shows will be held Monday Nov. 5 this year and we are presently waiting to confirm a program of new films from the National Film Board of Canada in mid-October.


Newsletter Editor: Karl Cohen
Contributors include Nancy Phelps and other friends of ASIFA-SF
Cover illustration by Ricci Carrasquillo
Proofreader: Pete Davis
Mailing Crew: Shirley Smith, Dan Steves, Denise McEvoy
Webmaster Joe Sikoryak
Special thank to all who helped make our Spring Festival happen. 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 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. Local membership is $25 a year, International $47.
Our website and blog is: HYPERLINK "http://www.asifa-sf.org/"
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or to PO Box 225263, SF CA 94122

What inspired Ric’s cover illustration? Read CARTOONS CAN BE DANGEROUS TO YOUR HEALTH in our Strange News Items section.

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ASIFA-SF and the SF State Animation Society Present Ben Ridgway, “Triboluminescence” Android Jones, Sydney Opera House Pes, “Fresh Guacamole”


Using the latest technology and by inventing unusual techniques, they explore new possibilities as to what animation can be.

Coppola Theatre, SF State’s Fine Arts Building, Room 101, Free

Ben Ridgway who has just joined the SF State faculty, will introduce us to animators who are expanding the boundaries of this great art form in exciting new directions. Explore the cutting edge work of Zeitguised, Andrew “Android” Jones, Max Hattler, PES and Ben Ridgway.

Zeitguised is German sculptor Jamie Raap and architect Henrik Mauler who have teamed up to create digital works that are breaking new ground in the realm of digital surrealism. They have created their own universe of abstract geometrical forms that defy the laws of physics. Their scenarios with objects rather than characters are the focal point of unfolding abstract narratives. Riding the line between fine art and industry, they continue to push the boundaries in both arenas. HYPERLINK "http://www.zeitguised.com/"

Max Hattler is a German video artist and experimental filmmaker who uses stop- motion, motion graphics, 3D computer animation and everything in between to create his stunning commentaries on mainstream media, politics, and spirituality. He says, "I am interested in the space between abstraction and figuration, where storytelling is freed from the constraints of traditional narrative. My work contemplates microcosms, moments, atmospheres: Close-ups as reflections on the big picture. While my films tend to be without dialogue, they explore the relationship between sound, music and the moving image." http://www.maxhattler.com/

Andrew Jones, a.k.a. Android Jones, is a Bay Area visual artist working in the fields of concept art for movies, video-games, fashion design, body painting, illustration and digital performances. His mind blowing paintings and live performances have electrified audiences in galleries and underground music festivals worldwide. Recent shows include the Museum of Contemporary Art (MOCA) in Los Angeles, Burning Man 2012 and images for the YouTube projections that covered the inside and exterior of the Sydney Opera House, a digital mapping event produced by San Francisco based Obscura Digital. http://www.androidjones.com/

PES, who recently moved to Los Angeles from NYC, animates everyday, instantly recognizable objects using stop-motion animation. An early influence on his work is the Czech surrealist Jan Svankmajer, an influence that has led to remarkable playful films. His work is internationally recognized including his short films "Roof Sex", "KaBoom!", "Game Over" and "Western Spaghetti." PES's latest short, "Fresh Guacamole", premiered as part of Showtime Network's "Short Stories" series in March 2012. He is currently in development on his first feature film, a movie based on the Garbage Pail Kids franchise. www.eatpes.com

Ben Ridgway, who breathes life into inorganic matter in his work, has been creating experimental animated films since 1992. His abstract surreal films have been showcased in film festivals around the world including Annecy. He has over a decade of experience working both as a 3D artist in the video game industry and as a professor. Ben will show his remarkable looking film “Triboluminescence.” HYPERLINK "http://benridgway.wordpress.com/" \t "_blank" http://benridgway.wordpress.com/ HYPERLINK "http://vimeo.com/user3877495"