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Animated sheet music for Miles Davis’ ‘So What’
07.25.2014
11:33 am

Topics:
Animation
Music

Tags:
Miles Davis


 
Mesmerizing animated sheet music for Miles Davis’ “So What” by Dan Cohen on YouTube.

If I had seen something like this around when I was younger, it would have made piano lessons and learning to read music oh so much easier…

Posted by Tara McGinley | Discussion
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The gleefully twisted absurdist animations of Chriddof
07.24.2014
08:07 am

Topics:
Animation
Art

Tags:
Chriddof


 

Chris Lyons AKA Chriddof is one of the great enigmas of the Internet. A British culture-jamming, avant-garde surrealist and absurdist mixing video and audio, music and noise, comedy, horror, and retro television altogether into a delightfully incomprehensible, arty mess. And yet he never takes himself too seriously (except for the cases where he decides to close his account[s]); in fact, if you were to ever ask him on YouTube what the sources of any of his videos or the tools he used are, he’ll answer you perfectly straightforward. He’s a strange bloke, but a cool one.—ThornBrain

With his long filmography of not-at-all-very-long films, the English artist Chris “Chriddof” Lyons is a front-runner for best YouTube surrealist ever. Working in so many styles he can barely be said to actually have one, and with an oeuvre spread across multiple media and countless YouTube channels (many of them deleted, some resurrected), he is an exasperatingly mercurial figure in spite of the sheer amount of work he shares with the world. The ‘About’ page on his web site is this…
 

 
...and that’s all. His work, it’s our good fortune, is significantly easier to access than biographical information. He regularly updates a Tumblr with his videos, music, drawings and writings. Many of his videos are rhythmically edited and really, really funny found media cut-ups, but the pieces I’m keen to share with you are his twisted 3D animations. He warps what appear to be rudimentary DAZ or Poser figures into short, freakish, body-horror creations that make me laugh even as I’m weirded out, baffled or horrified, which is a hell of a neat trick.
 

 

 
SO MUCH MORE after the jump…

Posted by Ron Kretsch | Discussion
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Watch the first film adaptation of ‘The Hobbit,’ a 1966 animated short that takes… some liberties
07.22.2014
08:01 am

Topics:
Animation

Tags:
The Hobbit
JRR Tolkien


 
Any film adaptation of a Tolkein epic is going to have to make some major edits if it clocks in at twelve minutes. The elaborate history of Middle Earth and the sagas that shape it are so painstakingly constructed, a totally faithful movie would just have been boring as hell—there’s the medium to consider. However, this version of The Hobbit, rendered as a 1966 cartoon fairy tale, barely even uses the book as a framework. The producer actually obtained film rights before The Hobbit became popular, and after his attempt to produce a feature-length movie fell through, he was left with a contract that still required him to create a “full-color film” to retain them.

Spotting a loophole, he realized no specific length of color film was mentioned, so he threw together what you see below. Avoiding legal breach with a twelve minute cartoon, he was then able to sell the rights for roughly $100,000—a pittance for what he could have made, of course, but nothing to sneeze at back then, either. Of course, this leaves us with a totally random film, with a hastily tacked on princess, a total deficit of dwarves, and an inexplicable series of name-changes—goblins are “groans” and “grablins,” Gollum is as “Goloom,” and Smaug is “Slag.”

Taken as an cartoon that has nothing save for the title to do with The Hobbit, the short actually does quite well for itself. The narration is compelling, the story is constructed well, and the classic Gene Deitch animation is great—distinctively Eastern European work from Czech illustrator Adolf Born is jagged and erratic one minute, ethereal and shimmering the next.

I’d say it’s a must for any Tolkien completist, but only if you can refrain from having a nerdfit with all the liberties taken.
 

Posted by Amber Frost | Discussion
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Smoking is ‘The Drag’ in this ultra-groovy 1966 anti-smoking PSA
07.17.2014
08:03 am

Topics:
Animation
Drugs

Tags:
smoking


 
God bless those Canadians and their national arts funding—even their public service programs are some of the loveliest little vignettes ever committed to animation. Take “The Drag,” an anti-smoking PSA from 1966. Sure, it’s a bit of a preachy cautionary tale of peer-pressure, but the swingin’ soundtrack and groovy animation makes for a great little cartoon. The animator, Carlo Marchiori is now a muralist, and you can see how he gravitated toward lush graphics early on.

Funnily enough, as a public service announcement, “The Drag” is actually a bit of a flop. Our nicotine-addicted protagonist (who refers to cigs as “the drug”) avoids lung cancer but instead blows himself up on account of a gas leak? Huh?

Got that kids? If you don’t wanna quit, just make sure you’ve got an electric stove!
 

Posted by Amber Frost | Discussion
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Cringe at ‘Uncle Tom’s Bungalow,’ the Merrie Melodies ‘Uncle Tom’s Cabin’ parody
07.11.2014
07:50 am

Topics:
Animation
Race

Tags:
Tex Avery


 
There’s nothing intrinsically significant about racism in a Merrie Melodies cartoon. “Uncle Tom’s Bungalow” (1937) is actually one of the “Censored Eleven”—a group of cartoons so racist, they were banned 1968 by United Artists, who owned the Looney Tunes film library at the time. What makes “Uncle Tom’s Bungalow” exceptional is its parody of much-beloved piece of abolitionist literature. Uncle Tom’s Cabin wasn’t really particularly radical—rather than a dignified depiction of black humanity, it attempted to appeal to white benevolent paternalism by portraying black people as child-like—but still it was pretty damn revered to become the butt of a Tex Avery lampoon.

Regardless of racism, the cartoon is kind of weak, and I say that as a Looney Tunes fan. In 1947 Avery would create “Uncle Tom’s Cabaña, which wasn’t actually a parody of the book so much as an attempt at a retelling. It’s not any less racist than its predecessor—it makes similar (though way less relentless) use of racist caricature, and the punchline is that Uncle Tom is a liar—but it’s a far superior cartoon, both in animation and writing.

In"Uncle Tom’s Bungalow,” the gags are a little rote (even for Merrie Melodies), and the jokes aren’t particularly clever. For example, there’s an anachronistic “bad guy gets electrocuted” sequence that was clearly just an excuse to use a cool animation effect. At one point the escaped slave Eliza is described as “the dark horse in this race”—geddit?!? In its stronger moments, the cartoon appears to be taking aim at the schmaltz of Uncle Tom’s Cabin. The saccharin “white angel” character of Little Eva is depicted as cloying cute, and if you’ve ever read the book, you might remember rolling your eyes at her saintliness.

Perhaps aiming for a big finish,  “Uncle Tom’s Bungalow” reaches its nadir at the finale, where we see Uncle Tom pull up in a Rolls Royce—he bought his freedom playing craps. Watch if you don’t mind cringing—this cartoon serves up some vintage racism, folks!
 


Posted by Amber Frost | Discussion
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Cheech & Chong’s classic ‘Basketball Jones’ cartoon
07.09.2014
05:25 pm

Topics:
Animation
Music

Tags:
George Harrison
Cheech & Chong


 
“Basketball Jones” was a song/routine/character from Cheech & Chong’s 1973 Los Cochinos (“The Pigs”) record. The original album cover had a secret compartment where you could see how they smuggled pot, sandwiched in their car door. I bought this LP at a garage sale when I was about ten years old and just starting to get into comedy albums. I only half understood the idea of what “drugs” were at the time, I’m pretty sure, so I can’t imagine that a Cheech & Chong album made much sense to me at such a tender age. But I loved the routine “Basketball Jones” by Tyrone (as in “tie your own”) Shoelaces & Rap Brown Jr. H.S. and would go around singing the musical part of it like ten-year-olds do.

The song is about teenage Tyrone and his love of basketball sung in a falsetto voice by Cheech Marin. It’s catchy as hell, but small wonder, dig the backing band: George Harrison, Klaus Voorman, Carole King, Nicky Hopkins, Tom Scott and Billy Preston. The Blossoms with Darlene Love, Ronnie Spector and Michelle Phillips were the backing cheerleader’s voices.

Cheech Marin:

“George Harrison and those guys were in the next studio recording, and so Lou (Adler) just ran over there and played (it for him). They made up the track right on the spot.”

Producer Lou Adler:

“That was a wild session. I probably called Carole (King) and told her to come down, but with Harrison and (Klaus) Voorman—I didn’t call and say come in and play. Everyone happened to be in the A&M studios at that particular time, doing different projects. It was spilling out of the studio into the corridors.”

The “Basketball Jones” animation is by Paul Gruwell and was made in 1974. This cartoon has also made some impressive Hollywood cameos over the years, in Robert Altman’s California Split (which was never released on VHS due to Columbia Pictures refusing to pay royalties on the song, Altman had to cut the music—but not the animation—for the DVD); Hal Ashby’s Being There (it’s what Chauncey Gardiner is watching in the limo); and in the 70s underground comedy Tunnel Vision. It was parodied in a 2011 episode of The Simpsons (”A Midsummer’s Nice Dream”) guest-starring Cheech & Chong.
 

Posted by Richard Metzger | Discussion
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‘Eveready Harton’: The world’s first animated porno?
06.30.2014
07:05 pm

Topics:
Animation

Tags:
Eveready Harton


 
Because there are so many competing stories about the provenance of “Eveready Harton” (AKA “Buried Treasure”) the animated short that is perhaps the earliest example of a pornographic cartoon made in the US, it’s hard to take any one of them as definitive. The entire truth will probably never be known. It apparently dates to either 1928 or 1929 and might have been produced for a party honoring Little Nemo creator Winsor McCay. (As a huge Winsor McCay buff, I’d like to believe this version is true.)

According to one source, Disney animator Ward Kimball who told Karl F. Cohen in Forbidden Animation: Censored Cartoons and Blacklisted Animators in America

The first porno-cartoon was made in New York. It was called “Eveready Harton” and was made in the late 20’s, silent, of course—by three studios. Each one did a section of it without telling the other studios what they were doing. Studio A finished the first part and gave the last drawing to Studio B [...] Involved were Max Fleischer, Paul Terry and the Mutt and Jeff studio. They didn’t see the finished product till the night of the big show. A couple of guys who were there tell me the laughter almost blew the top off the hotel where they were screening it.

The credits identifies “E. Hardon” as the director (probably a pseudonym). Fast forward nearly 50 years later and the culprits were identified in the program notes of a late 70s San Francisco screening as Vernon Stalling (a “Krazy Kat” and later Disney animator), George Cannata (Spider-Man, Scooby-Doo), Rudy Zamora, Sr. (Smurfs, Super Friends) and “Woody Woodpecker” creator Walter Lantz. [Lanz seems a likely suspect: I used to have a snippet of vintage animation where Woody is reading a newspaper and his eyes pop out of his head when he realizes that the headline reads “Woody is a fag!” but the Woody character wasn’t created until 1940.]

In 2002 “Eveready Harton” was given its first “legit” theatrical release in the French documentary/compilation The Good Old Naughty Days.
 

Posted by Richard Metzger | Discussion
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Wild animated music videos for Joni Mitchell, Kinks, Coven and more
06.25.2014
12:21 pm

Topics:
Animation
Music

Tags:
Cher
Joni Mitchell
Kinks
Coven


 
John David Wilson, an English animator who died last year at the age of 93 was the proprietor of his own animation house Fine Arts Films. Among Wilson’s many, many credits are Disney’s Peter Pan and Lady and The Tramp, various Mr. Magoo shorts, Shinbone Alley the animated “jazz adventure” of Don Marquis’ archy and mehitabel (made with Mel Brooks, John Carradine and Carol Channing), the opening for Grease and an animated version of Igor Stravinsky’s Petrushka made for television in 1956 with the maestro’s participation. For an innovative body of work mostly seen on The Sonny and Cher Show in the 1970s, Wilson is considered to be the father of the conceptual music video.

I saw this animation for Joni Mitchell’s “Big Yellow Taxi” when it originally aired on The Sonny and Cher Show. Like The Lorax, I never forgot it:
 

 
Jim Croce’s “Bad, Bad Leroy Brown.” This originally had Sonny and Cher singing, but was re-tracked with the original song here (which is why, when Sonny and Cher are seen singing behind the bar that their lip-sync is off):
 

 
Sadly, although this animation was originally done to The Kinks’ own version of Muswell Hillbillies’ “Demon Alcohol” this version is sung by Wayne Carpenter:
 

 
Cher’s own “Dark Lady”:
 

 
An unexpectedly powerful take on “One Tin Soldier” by Coven, made famous in Billy Jack:
 

 
Helen Reddy’s somewhat sinister “Angie Baby” hit given a more light-hearted prime-time TV touch by Wilson:
 

 
Cher covers Melanie’s “Brand New Key”:
 

Posted by Richard Metzger | Discussion
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‘Yellow Submarine’ style short depicts a jaunty stroll through a bad trip (set to Tiny Tim!)
06.24.2014
08:54 am

Topics:
Animation
Drugs

Tags:
Tiny Tim


 
Whether you find it nauseatingly cheerful or hyperactively sweet (and I’m partial to the latter), Tiny Tim’s “Livin’ in the Sunlight, Lovin’ in the Moonlight” is the perfect backdrop to this ironically dark piece of animation from the Layzell Bros. Our down-and-out protagonist, played by English comedian Adam Buxton, takes a huff off a cheerful cartoon pipe, and is transported to a Yellow Submarine-style wonderland where his antics are rendered childishly delightful—nevermind his wanton destruction of property and growing troubles with the local authorities.

At one point the psychedelic dreamland becomes a little too ominous for our hero, but no matter! His magical pipe friend makes quick work of the darkness! Just say no to drugs, kids! Or just say yes if that’s what you want…
 

 
Via Juxtapoz

Posted by Amber Frost | Discussion
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If Quentin Tarantino directed ‘Ghostbusters 3’

0stgfys
 
This could be a highly watchable cinematic mash-up of blood, guts and spooky goings-on: Quentin Tarantino directs Ghostbusters 3, as imagined by claymation wizard Lee Hardcastle.
 

 
Via Popbitch

Posted by Paul Gallagher | Discussion
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