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Archive for April, 2009

A Preview of Pixar’s Partly Cloudy

Pixar's Partly Cloudy

Update 10th June: Here’s the Partly Cloudy short in full.
Absolutely superb! Be quick though, I doubt it’ll be around for long.

Here’s a fleeting 30 seconds from Partly Cloudy, the Pixar short that will accompany their next feature, Up. Directed by Peter Sohn, the voice of Emile in the movie Rataouille, it tells the story of Gus, a lonely grey cloud who makes babies for storks to deliver.

From the Pixar wiki:

Everyone knows that the stork delivers babies, but where do the storks get the babies from? The answer lies up in the stratosphere, where cloud people sculpt babies from clouds and bring them to life. Gus, a lonely and insecure grey cloud, is a master at creating ‘dangerous’ babies. Crocodiles, porcupines, rams and more—Gus’s beloved creations are works of art, but more than a handful for his loyal delivery stork partner, Peck. As Gus’s creations become more and more rambunctious, Peck’s job gets harder and harder. How will Peck manage to handle both his hazardous cargo and his friend’s fiery temperament?

There’s a lengthy interview with Peter about the short at Animation World News.

View a higher quality version of the trailer. Partly Cloudy will debut with Up on May 29th.

(via Cartoon Brew)

The Art of Penguin Science Fiction

The Kraken Awakes - John Wyndham 1963 Penguin

I’ve just been browsing The Art of Penguin Science Fiction, a website “that explores the history and cover art of science fiction published by Penguin Books from 1935 to 1977.” I’ve always been a big fan of classic Penguin paperback books covers and this tied neatly to yesterday’s post on man’s vision of the future through the years.

The cropped image above is from the 1963 paperback of John Wyndham’s The Kraken Wakes. It was scanned by Michael Bojkowski — he has a few more higher resolution scans of classic paperbacks on Flickr. If you’re into Penguin covers be sure to browse Penguin Paperback Spotters’ Guild Flickr pool too.

(discovered via Noisy Decent Graphics)

How Disneyland Helped to Send Man into Space

disney_mars_and_beyond

Stephen Worth has an interesting article over at the ASIFA-Hollywood Animation Archive on how we’ve imagined the future throughout the past century. It includes scans of an article from a 1950 issue of Coronet magazine, illustrated by Chesley Bonestell, about a family trip to Venus in the year 2500, along with some clips from the Disneyland TV show’s “Mars and Beyond“. Mars and Beyond was one of three space-themed specials:

It’s impossible to overstate how important the Disney space shows were to the American space program. President Dwight Eisenhower requested a copy of “Man in Space” to screen for his top military officers to convince them that space travel was indeed possible. Six months after “Mars and Beyond” aired, congress passed the National Aeronautics and Space Act which established NASA. The launch of Russia’s Sputnik satellite in October 1957 might have been the immediate impetus for the swift passage of the funding for the program, but the groundwork for the concept behind NASA was laid by Wernher von Braun and Walt Disney.

Clearly, scientists like Wernher von Braun and politicians like Eisenhower and Kennedy were responsible for America’s space program. But it took more than science and funding to put man on the moon. It took will. The awe inspiring imaginary vistas of Chesley Bonestell and the fantastic animation of Ward Kimball and Walt Disney became our collective dreams. The day after “Man in Space” aired, every man, woman and child in America had the same fantasy in their head- the burning desire to go to the moon. The visions created by these artists and filmmakers became reality because they crystallized and energized our collective will.

Animation has the power to mobilize society to do great things.

Mars and Beyond can be found on the Walt Disney Treasures – Tomorrowland: Disney in Space and Beyond DVD along with “Man in Space” and “Man and the Moon” as well as, of course, on YouTube:

  1. Man & the Sky
  2. Mars in Pop Culture
  3. History of Life on Earth/Solar System
  4. Mars from Earth
  5. Life on Mars
  6. Travel to Mars

If that’s not enough, here’s some Ward Kimball concept art.

75 Ways to Draw More

75 ways to draw more

This is something I should do. I love drawing, but can’t remember the last time I did it (except for on my son’s erasable drawing pad… Ok, I do that most days…).

Illustrator Michael Nobbs has put together a little booklet with 75 light-hearted ideas on how to get yourself to draw more. You can print it out for free or order a signed copy from his website. (via Drawn)

Henry Hatsworth Concept Artwork

Henry Hatsworth Concept Art

Offworld have just begun a new series of posts around the production art of video games entitled Concept Album and I’ve just been thumbing through the first of them — an extensive three-page collection of concept artwork for the Nintendo DS platform-puzzler Henry Hatsworth.

I always love to see the creative that eventually evolves to become a video game, animated feature, theme park attraction or motion picture. This one I find particularly interesting as, ultimately, it’s all going to be crammed into a screen no wider than two and half inches!

Be sure to check out Henry Hatsworth Art Director Jay Epperson’s own blog for more sketches and art. And here’s the official game site.

Happy 20th Birthday, Nintendo Game Boy

Nintendo Game Boy

As incredible as it sounds, the Nintendo Game Boy is 20 years old today!

The now iconic hand-held video game console was launched in Japan on 21st April 1989 as the spiritual successor to Nintendo’s Game & Watch line. The console, which went on to sell nearly 119 million units worldwide, was released to the US a few months later in August and to the UK and Europe the following year.

Bundled with it was, of course, a copy of Tetris but it was neither that, nor Super Mario Bros nor any of the big-selling titles that left a lasting impression with me — possibly because it’s one of the few video games I’ve actually completed that honour goes to Final Fantasy Legend.

Final Fantasy Legend was a western port of the Japanese RPG Makai Tōshi Sa·Ga and, despite being made by Square, wasn’t a Final Fantasy game at all, merely re-badged to cash in on the popularity of the Final Fantasy series in the US. It was apparently enhanced and re-released for mobile phones in Japan in 2007 and the series also celebrates its 20th anniversary this year. Too bad I traded mine in for a copy of Chase HQ… I don’t think I’m ever going to let my 13-year-old self live that down!

Still, at least I kept my copy of Solar Striker and if I ever lose that I’ll always have its theme tune permanently etched into my brain.

Update: Be sure to check out the Game Boy timeline over at Gizmodo.

Free Realms: Sony’s Family-friendly MMORPG

Free Realms screen shot

I recently got my closed beta invite for Sony’s new family-friendly MMORPG Free Realms and spent half an hour this afternoon checking it out. Sadly I can’t say much more about it as I’m under NDA but (rather oddly) they encourage beta testers to post feedback to the forum — which happens to be entirely public!

As I suspected from the trailers and videos I’d seen it’s very much a World of Warcraft “Lite” — but not in a bad way. They’ve taken a clearly winning formula, cutesied the style and remarketed it for a younger audience, adding a multitude of minigames and making character classes something your can switch between as the need arises, rather than choosing just one.

Free Realms is and will be, as the name suggests, free to play although you can “upgrade” for a $4.99 monthly fee to access an assortment of extra features like the ability to have more than one character and members-only items and quests. The beta is currently PC-only but it’ll also be available on PS3 later in the year.

After checking out Sony’s PlayStation Home earlier in the year and feeling distinctly underwhelmed I’m very pleasantly surprised by what Free Realms has to offer. Maybe Sony should ditch the Home team and get these guys in instead.

If you’re on there, look me up. I’ve called my character, not entirely voluntarily I might add, Trevor Flamingtree (login required).

Illustrator Richard Wilkinson

richard wilkinson little brother illustration

Just stumbled across illustrator Richard Wilkinson‘s portfolio/blog via his speculative work for Head & Shoulders that Dustin posted on Think Faest.

He also did a number of superb illustrations for the Deluxe edition of Cory Doctorow’s latest novel Little Brother. If anyone has the £100 asking price spare I’d love to own a copy!

Scarygirl: Nathan Jurevicius’ illustrated web-based platform game

scarygirl

Just been playing this adorable web-based platform come puzzle-ish adventure game Scarygirl. It’s absolutely wonderful despite it being a little buggy at present. Go check it out. It’s free too!

The game was produced by Touchmypixel and is based on distinctive artwork of Australian designer, artist and illustrator Nathan Jurevicius. You can find his vinyl toys over at Scarytoys.

The Disneyland Hotel, 1964

Disneyland Hotel

While browsing my feeds today (thanks Feedly!) I came across this wonderful photograph. Gorillas Don’t Blog wasn’t taken aback by it (“I wish there was more hotel and less blue sky”) but I sure was. The innocent simplicity of the nine-year-old Disneyland Hotel as it stood 45 years ago, surrounded by nothing but the odd southern California palm tree, is in very stark contrast to it’s present state.

If anyone has a photograph of the hotel from this very position today I’d love to see it.

The Disneyland Hotel was third party operated when it was built in October 1955, four months after the Disneyland park opened. Texan Millionaire Jack Wrather, probably most famous for being the producer of the TV show Lassie, financed and owned leased the property as Disney had run out of cash building the amusement park itself. It wasn’t until 1988 that The Walt Disney Company purchased it and the original tower pictured here was demolished in 1999 as part of the “Disneyland Resort” expansion which included the construction of California Adventure on what was Disneyland’s parking lot.

Be sure to check out the rest of the Gorillas Don’t Blog site for more superb vintage Disneyland pictures.

Update: Just had an email from Don Ballard, who has recently written a book on the Disneyland Hotel to tell me that the the Sierra Tower, the tower pictured here, wasn’t demolished. In fact it’s the only original building left standing.

“All of the original Hotel from 1955 – 1960 was demolished in 1999 to make way for Downtown Disney. This included all of the old two story Garden Villa Structures (my favorites), shopping areas, original restaurants, including the Monorail Cafe (my favorite), Travelport, Monorail Station, original Embassy and Magnolia Ballrooms and the Olympic Pool. To me, the Hotel lost most, if not all of its charm in 1999.”