kottke.org posts about animation

Infographic Little Red Riding HoodApr 01 2009

A wonderful little animation by Tomas Nilsson of my favorite fairytale, the one with wolves and woodsmen. This one's all zippy infographics and diagrams.

The music gets to be a little much.

via Ektopia

Wool lightsApr 01 2009

Sometimes, the quickest way to a woman's heart is a bunch of sheep illuminated with LEDs and herded into meaningful patterns. This is what you city folk have been missing.

A Matter of Loaf and DeathNov 19 2008

A Matter of Loaf and Death, the Wallace and Gromit short formerly known as Trouble At' Mill, will be shown on the Beeb in the UK at the end of December.

In this new masterpiece viewers will catch up with Wallace and Gromit who have opened a new bakery -- Top Bun -- and business is booming, not least because a deadly Cereal Killer is targeting all the bakers in town so competition is drying up. Gromit is worried that they may be the next victims but Wallace couldn't care -- he's fallen head over heels in love with Piella Bakewell, former star of the Bake-O-Lite bread commercials. So Gromit is left to run things on his own when he'd much rather be getting better acquainted with Piella's lovely pet poodle Fluffles.

Rumor is that a US showing will soon follow.

Pixar spoof videoNov 13 2008

Now that Luxo Jr. is 22 years old, he's interested in more than just chasing beach balls around. NSFW if videos of animated masturbating household furnishings aren't safe to view in your workplace. There are a bunch of other Pixar spoof videos featuring variations on the Pixar lamp...from "state of the art" in 1986 to "anyone with some 3-D animation software can upload to YouTube" in 2008.

The Wire, Simpsons styleApr 29 2008

A few drawings of characters from The Wire drawn in the style of The Simpsons. Here's a scene from season one; D'Angelo tries to teach chess to Wallace and Bodie:

Wire Simpsons

This might be my new favorite thing on the web. (thx, andy)

An (animated (and condensed (and brief (andMar 05 2008

An (animated (and condensed (and brief (and truncated)))) history of evil. Almost as interesting for the comments as for the video itself.

Nick Park and Aardman Animations are doingOct 05 2007

Nick Park and Aardman Animations are doing a new Wallace & Gromit film called Trouble At' Mill (pronounced Trouble At The Mill). Unlike Chicken Run or Were-Rabbit, it'll be a 30-minute film made for TV, like A Close Shave or The Wrong Trousers.

Wallace and Gromit have a brand new business. The conversion of 62 West Wallaby Street is complete and impressive, the whole house is now a granary with ovens and robotic kneading arms. Huge mixing bowls are all over the place and everything is covered with a layer of flour. On the roof is a 'Wallace patent-pending' old-fashioned windmill.

Short video feature on how Pixar renderedJul 02 2007

Short video feature on how Pixar rendered all the food in Ratatouille. (thx, meg)

rating: 4.5 stars

RatatouilleJun 18 2007

With its latest film, Pixar manages to achieve something that few other big Hollywood films do these days: a convincing reality. The body language & emotions of the characters, the machinations of the kitchen, the sights and sounds of Paris, and the dice of the celery, Ratatouille gets it all right, down to the seemingly insignificant details. As we walked out of the movie, my wife, who has spent time cooking in restaurants (with Daniel Boulud, even), couldn't stop talking about how well the movie captured the workings of the kitchen. To be sure, a G-rated kitchen but a true kitchen nonetheless.

I'm not quite sure how this is possible, but the people in Ratatouille acted more like real people than the actors in many recent live action movies (especially the rats), like they had realistic histories and motivations that governed their actions instead of feeling scripted and fake. The world of the movie felt as though it had existed before the opening credits and would continue after the curtain fell. Systems that have arisen through years, decades, centuries, millennia of careful evolution and interplay with one another were represented accurately and with care. In The Timeless Way of Building, Christopher Alexander writes of the quality without a name:

There is a central quality which is the root criterion of life and spirit in a man, a town, a building, or a wilderness. This quality is objective and precise, but it cannot be named. The search which we make for this quality, in our own lives, is the central search of a person, and the crux of any individual person's story. It is the search for those moments and situations when we are most alive.

Pixar's search for this quality in the making of Ratatouille is impressive. And in a way, necessary. In order to draw the audience into the film and make them forget that they're watching animated characters in an animated world, the filmmakers need to get everything right. Motions too exaggerated, motivations glossed over, plot too uncoordinated, and the whole thing loses its sense of authenticity. People need to act like people, omelettes need to sag off of spatulas like omelettes, and the only woman chef in a haute cuisine French kitchen needs to behave accordingly.

This is an interesting state of affairs. In comparison, the live action movies have become the cartoons. Not all of them, but certainly many Hollywood movies have. Spidey 3, Transformers (I'm guessing), Die Hard 4 (guessing again), anything Eddie Murphy has made since the mid-80s, Wild Hogs, Blades of Glory, RV, etc. etc. I could go on and on. So what are we to make of a cartoon that seems more real than most live action movies? How about we stop thinking of them as cartoons or kids movies or animated films and start considering them as just plain movies? I'd put Pixar's five best films -- Toy Story 2, The Incredibles, Finding Nemo, Ratatouille, and let's throw Brad Bird's The Iron Giant in for good measure -- among the best big budget films made in the last 10 years, no caveats required.

Oh, and I don't want to give away the ending, but I will say that Ratatouille also has something to say about critics and criticism, a topic that's currently under debate in foodie circles and has been discussed many times in different areas of the blogosphere. It almost seems as though the film's message is aimed partially at bloggers, and for those that care to listen, that message is both encouraging and enlightening.

For Pixar, the making of Ratatouille includedJun 13 2007

For Pixar, the making of Ratatouille included some time in real kitchens and restaurants, complete with a stop at the French Laundry for some face-time with Thomas Keller.

Animated movies have an animal problem andOct 04 2006

Animated movies have an animal problem and aren't working as well as they used to at the box office. "There are all these people saying we are going to be the next Pixar. We say, 'Who is your John Lasseter?'" The box office performance of the Wallace and Gromit movie is unfortunate...I've caught it a couple of times on cable and it's really quite good.

Short video made by Pixar/Disney's JohnJun 22 2006

Short video made by Pixar/Disney's John Lasseter when he was a student at CalArts in 1979. (via bb)

Fine interview with Pixar/Disney's John Lasseter,May 23 2006

Fine interview with Pixar/Disney's John Lasseter, who is quickly becoming a favorite of mine. "I believe in the nobility of entertaining people, and I take great, great pride that people are willing to give me two or three hours out of their busy lives."

Ironic Sans has an ongoing series ofApr 17 2006

Ironic Sans has an ongoing series of posts about animated Manhattan; that is, depictions of Manhattan in animated films and shows. So far he's covered The Simpsons, Family Guy, and Tom & Jerry.

Quick interview with Nick Park about WallaceMar 01 2006

Quick interview with Nick Park about Wallace and Gromit. I'm testing an experimental Salon feature where if you click through to an article from kottke.org, you don't have to apply for a Day Pass to read it...let's see if it works.

Update: Didn't quite work for me...clicking the link took me to Salon's front page, not to the article. I clicked the back button and tried again and it worked the second time. Anyone else have a problem with it?

Update #2: Other people are having the same problem and Salon is looking into it.

Now that Lasseter's on the job, DisneyFeb 14 2006

Now that Lasseter's on the job, Disney may be bringing back their 2-D animation tradition.

Video clip of Family Guy nude sceneJan 24 2006

Video clip of a nude scene from Family Guy that was apparently created as an in-house joke. NSFW, unless your job is watching cartoon porn.

Audio interview with John Lasseter (basically creativeDec 15 2005

Audio interview with John Lasseter (basically creative director at Pixar) and Ron Magliozzi, who helped curate the just-opened show at MoMA on 20 years of Pixar.

The Economist asks "will computer-animated humans everDec 09 2005

The Economist asks "will computer-animated humans ever look realistic on screen?" but with nary a mention of the uncanny valley.

MoMA is running a Pixar exhibition fromNov 29 2005

MoMA is running a Pixar exhibition from December 14 to February 6, 2006. "Featuring over 500 works of original art on loan for the first time from Pixar Animation Studios, the show includes paintings, concept art, sculptures, and an array of digital installations."

Fire strikes Aardman Animations' warehouse and destroysOct 11 2005

Fire strikes Aardman Animations' warehouse and destroys entire history of the company, including sets and characters for Wallace and Gromit.

65,000 photocopies of 300 different films made into a 14-minute shortJun 07 2005

65,000 photocopies of 300 different films made into a 14-minute short. Quite clever.

Terry Gross interviews The Incredibles director Brad Bird on NPRApr 07 2005

Terry Gross interviews The Incredibles director Brad Bird on NPR. "So, what does the director of an animated film actually do?"

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