Martha Sigall – Living Life Inside the Lines

July 31, 2006 · Filed Under Animation Library, Classic Animation · Comments Off on Martha Sigall – Living Life Inside the Lines 

Looking for a great story from an animation legend? Look no further than Martha Sigall’s “Life Inside the Lines: Tales from the Golden Age of Animation”. Martha started as gopher at Leon Schlesinger’s Pacific Art and Title when she was only 12 years old. She started painting animation cels when she was 15. This was a job that women were sometimes allowed to do in the animation studios of the 1930s. Certainly, none were allowed to be actual animators. From an interview at

…in the very early days of animation, almost everything was done by men. Men even did the inking and the painting. It wasn’t until the early ‘30s, at least in Hollywood, that women started doing these jobs. There was very much gender discrimination in the business at that time. Women were not allowed in the Animation Department, Layout, Story, and Camera departments. There were some women in the Background Department, but it really wasn’t until World War II, when the men left for the service, that women were accepted into these other departments.

In “Living Life Inside the Lines“, Martha provides an insider’s view of the glory days of Warner Brothers animation:

She recounts her wild and wonderful experiences with the Warner Bros. cartoon crew, working and laughing all day with the animators, partying all night with the Looney Tunes gang on the bowling and baseball teams, and participating in weekend scavenger hunts. She was president of the in-house “Looney Tunes Club,” co-wrote the company gossip column, and performed in the company’s theatrical troupe.

This is a wonderful book for anyone interested in animation history. The book is widely available. Get your copy now.

[tags]Martha Sigall, Looney Tunes, Life Inside the Lines, 2D animation[/tags]


Austin 2006 Flashforward Film Festival Finalists

July 30, 2006 · Filed Under Animation News, Flash Animation · Comments Off on Austin 2006 Flashforward Film Festival Finalists 

Our favorite flash animator, Chris Georgenes, is one of the finalists in the cartoon category in the Austin 2006 Flashforward Film Festival. Dimples liked all of the finalists. When flash animation is done well, it’s nearly as good as some of the best hand-drawn animation. Unfortunately, most of it looks like the frozen figures with moving lips that dominate the Cartoon Network. The winners will be announced in September 2006. You can vote on-line for the people’s choice award here.
[tags]2D animation, flash animation, flashforward film festival[/tags]


The Triplets of Belleville – A 2D Animated Masterpiece

July 29, 2006 · Filed Under Animation Award Winners, Theatrical Animation · Comments Off on The Triplets of Belleville – A 2D Animated Masterpiece 

It’s time to return to an animation style that pleases the dimpled team. While talking about Disney is necessary since they’re the big dog, their animation style is not pleasing to us. We prefer less predictible and more interesting 2D animation story-telling. Our favorite animated theatrical feature in the modern era is “The Triplets of Belleville“. It is simply spectacular. The dog, Bruno, in “Triplets” is one of the greatest animated characters in all of animation history. This is not hyperbole. There’s not one false twitch in Bruno in the entire movie. Never before has a canine character been so believably animated. Bruno was brilliant. This is a list of the awards won by “Triplets”:

2004 Academy Award Nominee – Best Animated Feature Film, Best Song
2003 Telluride Film Festival
2003 Toronto International Film Festival
2003 Boston Film Festival
2003 Chicago International Film Festival
2003 AFI Film Festival

“Triplets” is the brainchild of Sylvain Chomet. It took five years for Chomet and his team to complete “Triplets”. From a BBC interview on the objective of the movie:

I wanted to do things in animation that hadn’t been done before. It’s a very rigid medium in what people think it should be. It’s always got to be for kids. It should bring good feelings, have bad guys and good guys, and end with a moral. But this means there are lots of subjects and things you can’t show, like someone smoking a cigarette for example. With “Belleville”, the aim was to go against that, and do something that wasn’t aimed at kids. It’s great that kids can enjoy the film, but it freed us up to go in directions that the animated movie hasn’t gone in before.

He succeeded in creating a masterpiece. In the same interview, Chomet comments on the use of CGI animation:

It was mainly to get rid of all the boring stuff. Objects, for example, always take a very long time to animate because they don’t change as they move. We used CGI for the cars, the bicycles, the boats and the trains, and it meant the animators had more time for enjoyable elements like the character acting.

This is exactly how CGI should be used. CGI is for the “boring stuff’.

“The Triplets of Belleville” is widely available on DVD. It should be part of every animation lover’s video library. Watch “Cars” and then watch “Triplets”. It’s a world of difference. “Cars” comes across like a soda cracker and water. “The Triplets of Bellville” is a feast.

[tags]Triplets of Bellville, 2D animation, Sylvain Chomet[/tags]


Disney Must Read This Blog – Return to 2D Animation

July 27, 2006 · Filed Under Animation Coming Attractions, Animation News · 1 Comment 

The dimpled one thinks Disney is listening. John Lasseter is keeping his promise to bring back hand-drawn animation to Disney. The word is out that 3D CGI is not a sure ticket to big box office. It’s commonplace. Moreover, it’s not as pleasing to the viewer as traditional 2D animation. Disney is showing some foresight and placing a bet on the revival of 2D animation. From Reuters:

Walt Disney Studios has reunited with the directors of its box office disaster “Treasure Planet” as part of a plan to get back into the decidedly unfashionable business of traditional animation.

The new project, “Frog Princess,” will put a female spin on the classic fairy tale, according to sources.

It will be overseen by John Musker and Ron Clements, who left the studio shortly after “Treasure Planet” bombed at the end of 2002, grossing just $38 million domestically.

This is the right thing to do but, is this the team to do it? Dimples is skeptical.

[tags]2D animation, Disney, John Lasseter, Little Mermaid, Frog Princess[/tags]


Gee Whiz Isn’t Enough – Story and Character Make the Movie

July 24, 2006 · Filed Under Animation Rants · Comments Off on Gee Whiz Isn’t Enough – Story and Character Make the Movie 

Dimples isn’t the only person ranting about the state of animation. Others are noticing that most of the CG 3D animated movies released this year are boring. From Roger Moore and the Orlando Sentinel:

So Cars is still chugging along, lifelessly sucking in the suckers who need a good snooze while their kids nap between jokes. It’s no Nemo, though. Or Monsters, Inc. Or Incredibles.

Ice Age 2 does boffo business, for a movie with nothing to recommend it.

Over the Hedge is funny, and does swell, but no better than Madagascar.

And Monster House opens at number 2 at the box office.

Ant Bully opens Friday.

And Barnyard a few days after that. And then there’s Open Season, Happy Feet and Flushed Away.

Before the end of the year.

So many computer animators. So little…magic. Delight. Excitement.

CGI cartoons are everywhere. They’re ranging from OK to bad, from Over the Hedge to Monster House to Cars to Ant Bully to Ice Age to Hoodwinked, from best to worst. Thus far this year.

Any single Looney Tune’s short cartoon has more magic than all of this year’s CGI cartoons combined. There’s no style. There’s no magic. There’s no story. There are no memorable characters. Is there a single Bugs Bunny from all of the CG animation created so far? No. There is no Bugs Bunny.

Roger Moore continues:

CGI cartoons are everywhere. They’re ranging from OK to bad, from Over the Hedge to Monster House to Cars to Ant Bully to Ice Age to Hoodwinked, from best to worst. Thus far this year.

That means the novelty has at long last worn off. They’re not automatic hits.

We’re looking at the downhill side, the downward slide of CGI.

There’s a rush to cash-in on CG animation. In that rush, studios have dumped alot of talented people. They’ve forgotten story telling and character in their rush to the box office ATM. Like the gold rushers, they may find themselves with little more than a shovel of dirt. Finally, from Roger Moore in the Orlando Sentinel:

I am guessing that the day will come when Disney second-guesses its Pixar purchase and wishes it had the help on hand to make another Little Mermaid.

[tags]animation, CG animation, CGI animation, Disney, Pixar[/tags]


Disney’s Refugee Camp – Tom Hignite’s Miracle Studios

July 23, 2006 · Filed Under Animation Coming Attractions, Animation Studios · Comments Off on Disney’s Refugee Camp – Tom Hignite’s Miracle Studios 

Where do all the animator’s go when they leave Disney? One place they’ve gone is Tom Hignite’s Miracle Studios in, of all places, Wisconsin. Dimples has nothing against Wisconsin. Actually, we prefer it to California but this is off topic. Last week, Disney announced another layoff of 650 employees. Some of the people leaving are animators but most of the great animators have already left Disney. Whether or not you appreciate the Disney style, you can’t deny that the animation knowledge base at Disney was greater than all of the other animation studios combined. From The Times:

Troy Gustafson, a Disney employee for 12 years, said he had mixed feelings, of sadness and anger, and did not want to see hand-drawn animation die out: “It’s a talent. It’s a skill. Once it’s gone, it’s gone.”

Obviously, Dimples couldn’t agree more. Hand-drawn 2D animation has a style and spontaneity that cannot be duplicated by the plastic puppet faces from CG 3D animation. The good news is that Tom Hignite has gathered a small group of animators in his new studio and they’re working on a hand-drawn animation theatrical feature about a character called Miracle Mouse. From Tom Hignite after a tour of the Disney studios as reported in The Times:

“I wondered where the animators were. There weren’t any artists behind the desks. They were in the midst of deciding to close the studio down.”

He continued, remarking on the difference between hand-drawn and CG animation:

“It’s not better or worse — but the advantage of hand-drawn imagery is that it looks more human, more artistic. The human touch is so evident.”

Dimples agrees and Dimples would say it is better. It looks “real”.

On Dec. 2 of this year, Miracle Studios promise a 30 sec taste of their 2D animation. We can’t wait.

Dimples would be remiss if we didn’t include a section in this story about Tom Hignite. Who is Tom Hignite? The publicity photo at the top of this story would lead you to believe that he’s an animator. He’s not. He is the owner of “Miracle Homes”. He’s a housing contractor and, apparently, an over-the-top Christian. Dimples assumes that’s why he names everything “miracle”. From the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel:

Hignite acknowledges he had relatively little experience in animation when he began planning a studio. It took about a year of research before he could start looking for artists, he said.

His home-building business, which he also began with little experience, started in 1993 with two home sales. Last year, it sold 220 houses with a total value of about $42 million.

Hignite said he got into the business by selling a home he built on a lot that had been given as barter to his father. Hignite then quit his job as advertising manager for a boat dealer and started building houses full time.

Hignite said he drew the Miracle Mouse character, which has appeared in promotions for his home-building business for several years.

Some observers say the hard hat-donning Miracle Mouse looks a lot like Mickey Mouse, but Hignite said the character is unique, and he doesn’t think it infringes on any Disney copyright.

Miracle Mouse looks like Mickey Mouse and the opening page on Miracle Studios’ web page looks like the opening to Disney. This is not a good thing. Mr. Hignite may have carried too much baggage from the world of suburban sprawl into the world of theatrical animation.

[tags]2D animation, Disney, Tom Hignite, Miracle Studios[/tags]


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