Thursday, May 29, 2014

"Cats and dogs, living together…"

In honor of Throwback Thursdays, (a tradition I have mixed feelings about) here are two character designs I did in 2008 for a project in development at IMAGI studios. I was given an opportunity to re-boot a property called CAT TALE, about a cat living in an all-dog world. I loved the premise and wrote a 12 page treatment, working it up into a full script and even taking a 60-second teaser-trailer into full production. Alas, the financial crisis put an end to IMAGI (here in the states anyway) and as often as I have looked into the status of this property or the whereabouts of the rights, I can't seem to find out anything definitive.

These were done over Thanksgiving weekend 2008. I did the drawings very large in order to get more detail than usual into them. The color/ paint / texture was done by an artist at Moonscoop studios in Woodland Hills. I was never completely happy with the cat character - being the main guy he sort of went thru the usual Too Many Cooks process and there were various limitations and demands built into the design based on what the CG company doing the teaser could/could not do. I liked the dog tho, he has a nice MGM feel (despite his left arm appearing to be on backwards in the painting - it was a rush job over a holiday weekend what can you do?). I do remember the broadness of the designs scaring everybody, an earlier iteration was much more tame and "realistic" (read: looking like actual cats and dogs stiffly walking around on two legs, which I found creepy as hell). 

Monday, May 19, 2014

Patrick Mate

How did I get so lucky to meet, know and work with so many talented people? Patrick Mate is at least several of them (!) being a fine animator, a master designer and one of the most remarkably gifted caricaturists around. He has broken his regular BLOG up into several sites now, including one dedicated just to the caricatures alone. It is not to be missed. Visit it HERE.  
 I cannot get over the array of styles and media Patrick puts to use and always nailing the resemblance with humor and his own cartoony grace. 

OSS-117 is one of my favorites. When I saw this movie on Netflix, Patrick was the first person I called to share my joy of it. He of course had seen it and loved it too. We laughed like loons over the phone at  Jean Dujardin's astute capture of James Bond knockoffs. I still like it better than THE ARTIST. 

Saturday, May 10, 2014

Borja Rules!

If you haven't seen Borja Montoro's fantastic character design blog yet, you need to get there and fast!  CLICK HERE to seen more of his TedEx Talk work and thank me later. Borja worked at Disney France in the late 1990'S and is doing character designs for upcoming projects of note. Somehow our paths never crossed but next time we are in the same zip code I owe him a coffee for the inspiring jolt his artwork gives me.

Wednesday, May 7, 2014

LEGENDS OF OZ opens this Friday

Check out this new trailer for LEGENDS OF OZ / DOROTHY'S RETURN, the movie I directed along with fellow ex-Disney alumnus Daniel St. Pierre (who also art directed). Very honored to have been involved with this film, spearheaded by the Carroll Bros' brand new SUMMERTIME ENTERTAINMENT, produced by veteran producer Bonne Radford (CURIOUS GEORGE) and released by Clarius. Voices include GLEE's Lea Michele, Martin Short, Oliver Platt and Megan Hilty. This is the first time I have directed a movie outside the big studio system and every day I was astonished at the hard work and talent that came out to be part of it, including brilliant animators like Ken Duncan and Dougg Williams, editorial staff from projects ranging from RATATOUILLE (Stan Webb) to Disney's PLANES (Dan Molina). Songs include tunes from Bryan Adams and the rich soundtrack score (which was recorded on the same soundstage as the 1939 MGM OZ movie!) is by BURN NOTICE composer Toby Chu. Come out and see it this Mother's Day weekend and bring your Mom!

Sunday, May 4, 2014

Owen & Friends

For weeks people have been sending me a New York Times story about a boy named Owen who was diagnosed with autism as a toddler. After many years in virtual silence his father was able to draw him out with a puppet of "Iago", the parrot from Disney's ALADDIN. From the time of his diagnosis on, his main outlet was watching Disney videos, including titles from the era when I worked there as a supervising animator. After sussing this out, his family found they had a way to connect with him that enabled them to renew their relationship. Among his favorite characters were the sidekicks, including ALADDIN's "Genie" (created by the incomparable Eric Goldberg), "Iago", Cogsworth (from BEAUTY & THE BEAST) Duncan Marjoribanks'"Sebastian" the crab from MERMAID and Nik Ranieri's "Lumiere" (also from BEAUTY). This CBS SUNDAY clip encapsulates his story and after reading about this for weeks I have to say it is very moving to see Owen and his family elaborate here on this unique form of therapy.

Of course the movies themselves were the work of many people, not the least of which include stellar voice actors like Robin Williams, Gilbert Gottfried, Jerry Orbach and David Ogden Stiers.  The scenes of "Iago" here are ones I did and the ones shown of "Cogsworth" are mostly by Mike Show, who worked on the crew of that character along with me and Tony & Tom Bancroft (also both on "Iago" with me and also Brian Fergusson). Our Key Assistant on both movies was my talented friend Nancy Kneip who supervised cleanup along with Julliet Stroud-Duncan and Bill Thinnes .

As the clip shows, Owen is a young adult now, functioning despite his condition, thanks to his patient and loving family who embraced the concept of letting him indulge in the cartoons he loves. Now he uses the same love of Disney movies as part of a therapy club for similarly diagnosed people in his peer group. Owen's favorite heroes tended to be the sidekicks, and to this sidekick animator, Owen is quite a hero himself.
Iago & Friend 2014
Thanks to friend and collaborator Tony Bancroft for sending this story to me via FaceBook.

Friday, April 25, 2014

FREE BIRDS (2013) Jake and Reggie sketches (part 4 of4)

 The last batch of character sketches I made during early days  of preproduction on REEL FX/ RELATIVITY's FREE BIRDS (2013). Drawn between 2010-2011. Characters copyright 2013 REEL FX STUDIO.