I just pledged to help fund Dashkin, the upcoming Brackenwood Flash game by Adam Phillips (Flash animator and friend of a friend), and Sean McGee (fellow Flash developer). Please pledge at KickStarter.com:
One of my favorite indie rockers, Jeff Hanson, was found dead on Friday in his new concrete-floored apartment of an apparent accidental fall, reports the St. Paul, Minnesota Star Tribune (via The Onion A.V. Club).
I was first introduced to Jeff Hanson's music by fellow UCLA Animator, Lena Podesta, who used Hanson's song "Just Like Me" for her film Dead Girl + Live Boy. I was blown away by the delicate vocals so I asked Lena, "who's the chick that does the song for your film?" but Lena corrected me and said "believe it or not, it's a dude" and she lent me Hanson's debut solo CD Son, which is one of my all-time favorites.
Jeff Hanson's death reminds me of Elliott Smith, who also died at a tragically young age, though Hanson did not have the life-long battle with drugs and depression that plagued Smith, and Hanson's death was probably an accident while Smith's was ruled a suicide. Still, Hanson and Smith had very similar guitar and vocal styles and they were both talented musicians, playing almost all of the instruments on the albums they each recorded for the indie label Kill Rock Stars.
MTV.com just released an exclusive clip from 9 that features my favorite character in the film: a sewing snake-like beast that Shane dubbed "the Seamstress." Throughout production, I kept begging for more Seamstress, and now to see it fully animated and rendered, it gives me chills. It's so exciting because I got to hobnob with the storyboard artists while they were boarding and re-boarding this sequence, watching it evolve up until the last year of production, and apparently Shane has added a little twist to the sequence since that last time I saw it. I can't wait to see what other surprises are in the final film. 09/09/09 is just a few months away...
Free-thinking YouTuber TheraminTrees created this brilliant metaphoric animation, which really resonates with my own personal experience:
I like TheraminTrees' use of speech bubbles, especially when the dad's bubble silences the kid.
The cupboard metaphor works quite nicely, especially the part when the kid follows the exact word of the "instruction manual" only to discover he's built something unbalanced and dysfunctional. Clearly, people pick and choose instructions from their manuals (scriptures) to construct cabinets (world-views/moralities) that are most practical for their own needs, and yet they pass judgment against others who find different interpretations from the same manual or follow a different manual altogether.
What a wonderfully diverse the world would be if everyone chose to build their cupboards according to universal design fundamentals and were free to express themselves adorn their cupboards with their own personal decoration?! I chose long ago to put my Bible (and its antiquated rules) away and to instead live my life according to the fundamental "Golden Rule" of reciprocity (which is universal to all major religions and has been the foundation of ethics long before Jesus said "love thy neighbor").
Right about this time two years ago, in December 2006, I was packing up to move to Luxembourg City for a few months to continue working on Shane Acker's feature film "9", based on his Oscar-nominated short. Then a year later, in January 2008, I was following Shane again, this time to Toronto, for a few more months of production before I finally finished my role as production-assistant-turned-technical-coordinator-turned-assistant-editor in February 2008. All totaled, the production took me to 4 cities, 3 countries and 2 continents, and now after over 2 years of trying to explain the film to curious friends and family, I can answer people's questions about the film by telling them simply to "check out the trailer..."
So stop reading this and go, check out the trailer:
Fellow UCLA Animation Workshopper Joaquin Baldwin has created a great little Flash game called AIG Exec UFO Catcher (NSFW). Joaquin combines excellent animation and simple interactivity with apropos social commentary to let players punish AIG execs for their shameful spending of bail-out money on opulent self-indulgence. There's something satisfying and charming about being able to (literally) "bring down the hammer" (in the form of an old-school "UFO catcher" vending machine claw) on effigies of these real-life corporate criminals. I just hope they face real punishment (though I'll settle for huge fines and/or prison time instead of death and dismemberment)...
You can play the game on Joaquin's website:
AIG Exec UFO Catcher (NSFW, especially if you work for a big corporate bank)
Jon Stewart's guest on The Daily Show last night (Tuesday Dec 09, 2008) was former Arkansas Governor and failed Republican Presidential candidate Mike Huckabee. During the 2008 primaries, the affable Huckabee was a frequent guest on both The Daily Show and The Colbert Report, where the Huckster was usually allowed to shamelessly self-promote his Christian Conservative dogma without much challenge from the hosts (Colbert even gave Huckabee the "Corbert Bump") but last night Jon Stewart really took Mike to task on the issue of gay marriage, which Huckabee opposes.
My favorite moment came about 4 minutes into the second part of the interview (video below) when Jon Stewart noted:
Religion is far more of a choice than homosexuality. And the protections that we have, for religion --we protect religion-- and talk about a lifestyle choice! That is absolutely a choice. Gay people don't choose to be gay.
Huckabee had no retort to Jon's point nor did have have any answer when Jon asked him:
At what age did you choose not to be gay?
I love love love this type of animation and it perfectly compliments John Lennon's meandering message of peace.
In 1969, a 14-year-old Beatle fanatic named Jerry Levitan, armed with a reel-to-reel tape deck, snuck into John Lennon's hotel room in Toronto and convinced John to do an interview. This was in the midst of Lennon's "bed-in" phase, during which John and Yoko were staying in hotel beds in an effort to promote peace. 38 years later, Jerry has produced a film about it. Using the original interview recording as the soundtrack, director Josh Raskin has woven a visual narrative which tenderly romances Lennon's every word in a cascading flood of multipronged animation. Raskin marries traditional pen sketches by James Braithwaite with digital illustration by Alex Kurina, resulting in a spell-binding vessel for Lennon's boundless wit, and timeless message.
A star-studded cast turns out for Marc Shaiman's "Prop 8 - The Musical" from FunnyOrDie.com.
This musical not only exposes the hypocrisy of homophobic Bible-thumpers who "pick-and-choose" which verses to obey, but it also makes an economic argument in favor of gay marriage.
It stars John C. Reilly, Neil Patrick Harris, Andy Richter, Margaret Cho, Rashida Jones, Sarah Chalke, Maya Rudolph, Craig Robinson, and Jack Black as "Jesus H. Tap-dancing Christ."
Also starring Jordan Ballard, Barrett Foa, J.B. Ghuman, John Hill, Rashad Naylor, Nicole Parker, Allison Janney, Kathy Najimy, Jenifer Lewis, Lake Bell, Katharine "Kooks" Leonard, Seth Morris, Denise "Esi!" Piane, Lucian Piane, Richard Read, Seth Redford, Quinton Strack, Tate Taylor
"Abomination!"... "Obama Nation!"
Shortly after getting back from working on 9 in Toronto, I started working for Illumination Entertainment on a film code-named "Project E". For months, people kept asking me questions about it, but thanks to an NDA and an overall level of secrecy among the production crew, I kept quiet. I didn't even tell Sam.
Now after many months of secrecy, the cat is out of the bag with a press release in Variety. Here's a snippet:
Illumination Entertainment topper Chris Meledandri has kicked off his Universal Pictures-based family film unit with "Despicable Me," a 3-D CG-animated film that has Steve Carell voicing the title character.
Jason Segel, Kristen Wiig, Will Arnett, Danny McBride, Russell Brand, Jemaine Clement ("Flight of the Conchords"), Jack McBrayer ("30 Rock") and Julie Andrews are providing the other lead voices. The film will be released in 2010.
Carell's title character is a deplorable man known as Groo who masterminds the mother of all heists when he plots to steal the moon. Egged on by an evil mother (Andrews), Groo finds one obstacle in his way: a trio of orphan girls who temporarily come under his care and won't leave.
Meledandri said the spirit of the film came partly from taking his sons to see family films and discovering they always most loved the villains