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Archive for June, 2009

Martin and Alice Provensen: Creating Tony the Tiger

Tony the Tiger by the Provensens, with Groucho Marx

Leif Peng has a superb piece over at his blog, “Today’s Inspiration”, on Martin and Alice Provensen’s creation of Tony the Tiger, the long-standing spokes… uh, -tiger for Kellogg’s Frosted Flakes (“Frosties” to us over this side of the pond). As it turns out, Tony wasn’t the only animal auditioning for the part…

Tony the Tiger’s birth was noteworthy enough to make it into the news briefs section of the September 1953 issue of Art Director and Studio News. The short piece mentions that Tony was not the only cartoon mascot intended for Kellogg’s Frosted Flakes. There was also Katy the Kangaroo and Zeke the Zebra, and from doing a little research I discovered that Elmo the Elephant and Newt the Gnu were also under consideration.

Alice and Kev: The Homeless Sims

The Sims: Homeless

What if The Sims were played as homeless people? Robin Burkinshaw, a games development student wanted to find out. He’s created Alice, a girl with no money, no home, no food… and the worst Dad in the world.

When you create a Sim in The Sims 3, you can give them personality traits that alter their behaviour. Kev is hot-headed, mean-spirited, and inappropriate. He also dislikes children, and he’s insane. He’s basically the worst Dad in the world. He is a horrible human being, but he’s also amusing to watch.

His daughter Alice is a kind-hearted clumsy loser. With those traits, that Dad, and no money, she’s going to have a hard life.

I have attempted to tell my experiences with the minimum of embellishment. Everything I describe in here is something that happened in the game. What’s more, a surprising amount of the interesting things in this story were generated by just letting go and watching the Sims’ free will and personality traits take over.

The story that unfolds is at times funny, often sad and incredibly moving. (via Simon)

Busted Up Pokémon by Justin White

Justin White's Busted Up Pokémon

Californian illustrator and designer Justin White has been creating a series of Pokémon portrait illustrations.

The idea was to capture each character after a long battle
recuperating inside their pokeball. Or maybe I just wanted to imagine pokemon in a lot of pain. This was really just a fun way to keep active and creative.

You can find all of them on his Flickr stream or in his portfolio. While you’re there, also check out his other great projects including the Mario Brothers portraits and the Alphabet vector illustrations.

Wondering if I can fit the word “illustration” into this article one more time. Done. Enjoy!

Oliver Jeffers’ Lost and Found, Animated

Oliver Jeffers' Lost & Found

If you’re a long-time reader of this blog you’ll probably already be aware of my respect for illustrator and childrens’ book artist Oliver Jeffers. This, however, managed to totally slip under my radar.

A 25-minute CG-animated adaptation of his second picture book Lost and Found won the TV Special Award at Annecy a couple of days ago. Apparently it was shown over here in the UK over Christmas but this is the first I’d heard of it!

I was rather concerned when I discovered that it was CG and not traditional 2D animation because of Oliver’s incredibly stylised art style but it appears London’s Studio AKA and director Philip Hunt have done a wonderful job of adapting it to 3D.

Here’s the trailer, and it appears that it’s already available on DVD in the UK!

2009 Annecy Award Winners

Slavar / Slaves film still

The Annecy International Animated Film Festival is an annual event in Annecy, France and a big part of it are their highly regarded awards.

The Crystal Award winners this year were:
In the short film category, “Slavar”, an animated documentary about child slavery. In the feature film category, “Coraline” and “Mary and Max”. Finally, in the TV production category, “Log Jam” which Aardman have recently secured the distribution rights to.

Here’s a full list of 2009 winners at the Annecy site.

I can’t find any of the shorts online yet, but here’s a interview with stop-motion animator Adam Elliot, whose feature Mary and Max went on to win the Crystal Feature award.

And here’s a charming moment with Adam and Coraline’s Henry Selick.

I’ll update this article as I find more shorts and clips. Drop me a line or leave a comment if you discover any!

Terrible Yellow Eyes, illustration inspired by Maurice Sendak’s Where the Wild Things Are

Clay Sisk's Terrible Yellow Eyes submission

With the Spike Jonze-directed movie forthcoming, illustrator Cory Godbey has started an awesome project, Terrible Yellow Eyes, to celebrate Maurice Sendak’s illustrated children’s classic, Where the Wild Things Are. He’s invited numerous talented artists to contribute their own works, inspired by the book itself.

Over the coming weeks and months I’ll display a growing collection of works created by invited contributing artists and myself. We share a love and admiration for Sendak’s work and the pieces we present here are done as a tribute to his life and legacy.

Simply put, like a visual love letter to the book, with Terrible Yellow Eyes I am seeking to celebrate and promote the original masterwork by Maurice Sendak in the best way I know how — with pictures.

I was going to write a list of my personal favourites from the collection but there are simply too many to mention!

Maurice Sendak celebrated his 81st birthday on Wednesday. Happy birthday Maurice!

(discovered via Ward, who’s contributed this lovely illustration to the project)

Update: Lindsey just drew my attention to the We Love You So blog. It’s a diary of multitude of stuff that has inspired the making of the film adaptation by the film crew themselves.

Update Sept 3rd 2009: Terrible Yellow Eyes will now be running as an exhibition at the Gallery Nucleus in Alhambra, California between September 19th and October 6th, 2009.

Shane Acker’s 9: Tim Burton’s latest animated project

9 movie poster

In 2005 an architecture student at UCLA by the name of Shane Acker released an 11-minute silent CG animated short film called “9″ that had been produced in his spare time over four and a half years. Another four years later and it’s been developed into a Tim Burton-backed feature length film (here, like The Nightmare Before Christmas, Burton is the executive producer, not the director).

In an interview with Shane in Frames Per Second magazine (check out the whole thing, it’s a good read), he names some of his favourite movies as Brazil, The Thing, Aliens and Delicatessen and you can certainly see the influence of those films come across, both in his original short and in the trailer for the new film.

Talking of the short, here it is:


9 Nine Shane Acker Short Animation
Uploaded by FrFKmeronArts and animation videos.

It’s interesting to note that the forthcoming film is a talkie — and an all-star voiced one at that. I’m always a bit wary when I see an animated film with so many A-list actors on-board, as if they’re being used as the pull to see it rather than the merits of the movie itself… we’ll have to wait and see.

More vintage Disneyland Hotel stuff

1950s Disneyland Hotel postcard

I recently had an email from Donald W. Ballard who corrected a few details in my previous article on the Disneyland Hotel. Don’s written a book on the subject so should know his stuff!

His blog is a treasure trove of things about the hotel; early photographs both private and promotional, concept art, newspaper and magazine clippings and advertisements, brochures, passes, memos… even a mini golf scorecard! You name it, it’s probably in there.

The Disneyland Hotel: The Early Years is available direct from the author for $47.50 plus shipping.

Illustrator Joey Ellis

Illustration by Joey Ellis

I originally discovered Joey’s work through The Disney Blog who highlighted the superb Disney-themed avatars that he uses as his Twitter profile pics. From there I discovered the fantastic Mickey Mouse mural he designed and painted onto his son’s room.

He’s also used his talents for some incredibly good deeds too. He’s set up Cory Fights Giants to help raise money for the Muscular Dystrophy Association.

Check out his latest work on his blog and on his Flickr stream.

A five minute roundup of the cool stuff at E3 2009

Project Natal Milo presentation

Here’s an super-condensed round-up of the cool stuff from E3 this year.

First up, the presentation that’s undeniably caused the biggest buzz: Microsoft’s Project Natal, a motion sensing device that allows you to interact with your Xbox 360 using gestures and voice without the need for a controller. Peter Moyneux presented a scripted prototype of an interaction between an on-screen boy, Milo, and a real-life player. It’ll be interesting to see how and if this will actually work in the real world with real games. It has no announced release date but is expected to be released in late 2010.

Nintendo presented their Wii MotionPlus which plugs into the Wii Remote to add greater motion sensitivity which will be used in games such as Wii Sports Resort, as well as their Vitality Sensor. Sony, too, demonstrated their version of a motion controller which tracks the location of two “wands” — this will be available in Spring 2010.

Star Wars: The Old Republic

E3 certainly wasn’t short on cool games either. LucasArts showed an impressive first cinematic teaser trailer for the forthcoming Star Wars PC MMO, The Old Republic. They also announced the return of Monkey Island on both Xbox and PC in the form of an enhanced Special Edition version of the classic Secret of Monkey Island as well as reveal that Telltale Games, the guys behind the new Sam & Max games, are working Tales of Monkey Island, a brand new episodic game.

Nintendo didn’t announce, as many were expecting, a new Wii-based Zelda game but did reveal that Mario would be back in New Super Mario Bros Wii.

Valve announced a sequel to the co-operative zombie shooter Left for Dead for Xbox 360 and PC and presented an hilariously over the top gameplay trailer. Also delightfully over the top was the opening cinematic for Harmonix’ The Beatles Rock Band, directed by Pete Candeland.

BioWare showed their new trailer for Mass Effect 2, the eagerly awaited space RPG for Xbox 360 and PC.

Sony showed new trailers for Final Fantasy XIII and Heavy Rain and announced that God of War III would be released in March next year. They also announced Agent, a new “espionage action game” from Rockstar North, the team who brought us Grand Theft Auto.

We also got a more polished look at The Last Guardian, the fortcoming game from Team Ico who brought us Ico and Shadow of the Colossus for the PS2. You may remember the leaked Project Trico trailer a few months go — this is the same game.

Scribblenauts: Using the ladder

Finally, a superb looking little game for the DS caught my attention called Scribblenauts. It’s a side-scrolling platform-ish puzzle game where the player summons objects to solve problems by writing the name of the object you want on the screen with the stylus. Scribblenauts will be released late this year but here’s a video of the folks from nintendorks.com having a play with it.