Ollie Johnson Dies at 95

Word comes from Cartoon Brew on the passing of Ollie Johnson, that last surviving member of Walt Disney's famed "Nine Old Men." Truly the end of an era.

Anne Update

The reason I wanted to post as many Anne episodes as I could is that, sooner or later, we'd run out of episodes on YouTube. It seems after eight episodes we've hit that wall. There is a video for Anne #9, but the video is terribly compressed and not worth watching. So what I'll do is simply upload my copies of the episodes.

Ugh...the rest of the family is sitting through Robots right now. I really can't sit through another loud and dumb Dreamworks cartoon, especially one with Robin Williams. Remember when he was actually funny? Remember when animation didn't always follow the same stupid formula? I feel like I've seen the same cartoon over and over and over. No thanks. I'd rather listen to Miles or go play outside...or watch Anne.

So more episodes on the way, as soon as I can upload them.

Cartoon Brew Features Nemo Pilot...Um, Hello?

This week Cartoon Brew featured a post on Yoshifumi Kondo's 1984 Nemo pilot. Strangely enough, they weren't aware that we talked about Nemo here on the Ghibli blog. Huh. My bad for not spreading the word around enough. Small world, eh?

Predictably enough, Hayao Miyazaki is name-dropped as somehow being responsible for Nemo '84. As we've explained, that wasn't the case, although he was courted for the film project in its earlier days (as was Takahata). It fell through due to artistic differences, but the simple fact is that Miyazaki was clearly his own man by the end of the '70s. He was simply not about to work for anyone else, on anyone's terms.

Ah, but I really do try to not let these things get to me. It's a bit frustrating, as though Americans can only keep one foreign name in their heads at a time. "Miyazaki" has become American slang for "anime I like." I've heard his name mentioned at all sorts of anime productions over the years that, clearly, he wasn't involved with. Nemo, Night on the Galactic Railroad, Like the Clouds Like the Wind, Animatrix...yadda yadda. There is more than one animation studio in Japan, y'know.

But, anyway, head over to Cartoon Brew for the discussion. Brad Bird stopped by for some insights on his short encounter with the Nemo production.

Ponyo - Trailer April 19, Movie July 19

Very short update, folks. Studio Ghibli's theatrical trailer for Miyazaki's Ponyo on a Cliff by the Sea will be released on April 19. I have no doubts that it will appear online almost immediately after. I'll keep my eyes peeled for YouTube, DailyMotion, Veos, and the other usual suspects.

Ghibli has also set the film's release date at July 19, and they are scrambling away to meet that final deadline. All reports are that Miyazaki and crew will hand in their homework on time, and it will be glorious as always.

GhibliWorld, as always, has all the latest news on Ponyo, so I suggest heading over there. Don't worry, none of us are spoiling anything, so there's no concern about losing the surprise as so many Hollywood movie previews do. Augh! We Americans will have to wait until next summer for this? I'm sure the meetings at Pixar are already underway...

Quote of the Day

"Frankly, I would rather have people thinking Americans were “not that bright” than to have them thinking Americans are all as smug and obnoxious as a certain self-appointed ambassador of animation who will remain nameless.

Oh, what the hell: Daniel Thomas MacInnes."

-Steven Finch, Attorney at Law, as posted on Cartoon Brew

Stan Venderbeek - Science Friction (1959)

Okay, last animation short for the night. Seriously. Since we're watching a number of psychedelic abstract art films, I wanted to include one of my favorites, from another pioneer in computer graphics named Stan Vanderbeek. This is his 1959 film, Science Friction. Really great stuff, very complex and highly critical of American conformist culture and the Cold War, with its looming threat of the Bomb. It also very clearly shows the influence of psychedelics. But, then, doesn't most animation?

Anyway, here's Science Friction. Enjoy!


Ghiblies (1999) - The First One




Thanks to (edit: DailyMotion), here is the original 1999 Ghiblies short from Studio Ghibli. This little film, a loose collection of short segments based around a spoof of the famed studio. It was created for television as a creative outlet for the younger members of the studio, free from the shackles of working on a Miyazaki or Takahata feature film. It's very short - about 12 minutes long - but very enjoyable. Ghiblies Episode 2, naturally, completely blows it away, but that's to be expected.

I was surprised that the original Ghiblies (pronounced gee-bleez) was not included on the Ghibli Short Short DVD. The only official release remains a long out-of-print laserdisk. Strange, but maybe the studio just wanted to give the hardcore fans something to search for. Enjoy!

Ghiblies Episode 2







Back to business. Here's Studio Ghibli's 2002 short film, Ghiblies Episode 2. This appeared as the opening act of the double bill with Neko no Ongaeshi, aka The Cat Returns. Both films are included on the Japanese DVD, which will really roil those of you who bought the US Disney DVD. Why Ghiblies 1 wasn't included on the disc when it was perfectly available and ready to roll is a mystery.

Anyway, watch and enjoy. One of my favorites from Ghibli.

Oskar Fischinger - Komposition in Blau (1935)

Think you've seen it all when it comes to animation? Chew on this.

Who's Who in Filmmaking - James Whitney

The Iota Center has an excellent essay on the career of James Whitney, the younger of the two Whitney Brothers. Give it a read here, and pass along to your friends. Thank Goodness For Google! I'll never miss the old days of scouring through the University of Minnesota library archives.

A Couple Lame Thoughts About John and James Whitney

As an artist and great lover of animation, I'm always digging around, trying to find whatever great new discoveries lay waiting. Through my stubbornness, I've uncovered Hayao Miyazaki, Isao Takahata, and the whole Studio Ghibli realm. I've also digged up the '70s era of psychedelic animation that somehow snuck onto Sesame Street when I was a kid. And now I've found two great pioneers in computer graphics animation.

When we think of computer animation, we'll either think of Pixar, or the early '80s era of Pac-Man and Max Hedroom. It's hard to remember there were computers before microprocessors, back when they were those large, bulky mainframes, filling up entire basements and secretly plotting to kill astronauts. And yet, even in those days, and in earlier days still, great artists like James and John Whitney.

Here, watch these abstract short films. I tried to post them in chronological order from the first post, from 1957 to 1975. Then somebody, please, explain to me how these computer graphics were created.

Animation World Magazine wrote an outstanding article on John Whitney, which you can read here. I'll be scanning through myself, and scanning through the Google realms for more answers. I don't feel quite like offering long commentary just yet. I really don't know more than you will after watching. Other than amazement and wonder, and a sense of "what the heck was that?! And what else you got?"

I am aware that John Whitney's work, as demonstrated on the demo reel Catalog from 1961 (!!), proved a great inspiration for Douglas Trumball's amazing slit-scan effects for 2001: A Space Odyssey (side note: you must see 2001 on a big screen or your life will be a failure). I've also discovered that Arabesque, from 1975, was created with Larry Cuba, who went on to create the computer animation sequence of the Death Star in the original Star Wars. Oooh....trippy.

Does anyone have any stories or wisdom to share? I'd love to hear them from the older animators who visit here. Let's start a Whitney Blog-a-Thon, people!

Until later, then...enjoy these films. They're magnificent.

John Whitney - Arabesque (1975)



Updated 1/9/2011:

John Whitney's pioneering work of computer animation, Arabesque, from 1975. This flowing, abstract short film is a wonder to behold, a work of art. Like many other computer graphics pioneers, this film suggests roots in psychedelics and spiritual quests as much as engineering and mathematics. Truly, a product of its age. I'll leave it for you to debate the merits of this theory.

John Whitney - Permutations (1966)

James Whitney - Lapis (1966)

James Whitney - Yantra (1957)

John Whitney - Catalog (1961)

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