Nick Cross reveals Black Sunrise trailer

Nick Cross has released the second trailer to his indie animated feature Black Sunrise.

I’m not sure what’s more impressive: the stylish, smooth animation or the fact that Cross really has his heart set on creating his own feature-length animated film.

Cross is no stranger to dark themes. His brilliant short The Pig Farmer, also combines incredible hand-drawn animation with political themes and sinister, shadowy characters.

To see more progress reports on the making of Black Sunrise, check out the Nick Cross animation blog.

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Nacho Rodriguez unveils Mister Coo music video

Ça Ça Mirlaquerr is a new music video animated by Nacho Rodriguez.

Nacho is responsible for the Las Aventuras de Mister Coo series of hand animated shorts, and this new music video has the same amount of life and frantic energy.

The simple designs allow so much movement and incredible squash and stretch. This is what I love so much about 2d hand-drawn animation.

To see more of Nacho’s works, check out his website: Mister Coo.

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Happy Feet 2 television spots

Apologies for not posting more regularly, but at Dr D Studios we’ve been working very hard putting the finishing touches on Happy Feet 2.

Crunch time was intense, challenging and mercifully short. I’m really stunned at how beautiful the result is.

Take a look at some of the latest Happy Feet 2 television spots and you can see what I’ve been working on.

I’m really happy with the work, and very excited to be back blogging on a regular basis.

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Craftsman's tools

Is Animation an art or a craft?


Craftsman's tools
Photo by: shaggyshoo

Confession time: I don’t like being called an artist.

At Dr D Studios, the producers refer to all of the animators as artists. They might say: “I’ll assign this shot to one of the artists” or “Let’s gather the artists around to have a meeting about the schedule”.

Even now, it’s not a term I’m 100% comfortable with.

Honestly – I’d rather be known as a craftsman.

And there is a big difference between artists and craftsmen (of course I’m including craftswomen here as well).

Art with a capital “A” is what happens when someone hangs your painting in a gallery, or selects your film for a festival.

Craft is what you do when you’re by yourself making stuff.

Think about what it means to be a craftsman:

Craftsmen care.

They concern themselves with quality of their materials and their technique.

A master pastry chef, or a furniture maker, or a fashion designer all put their talents towards making their work as good as it can be.

An artist might worry about getting “discovered”. But a craftsman worries about the details.

The good news is: you can get better at your craft.

Learn something new. Read a book. Watch a tutorial. Get a critique from a trusted mentor. Experiment with techniques. Practise.

Every single one of these activities makes you better at what you do, and is completely within your own scope to control.

The bad news is: you can’t control whether your work is deemed “art”.

Producing quailty work certainly helps. So does maintaining good relationships with people, protecting your reputation, meeting your deadlines and building networks.

But ultimately – that decision is in the hands of someone else.

I’ve always been an enthusiastic supporter of people who want to show their animated film in front of a live audience, but don’t let the fear of not getting selected put you off doing the hard effort involved in making a film.

Gatekeepers may well decide what the public see as art, but it is the diligence of craftsmen and creators that impresses me more.

I say: Let the critics curate, and let the craftsmen create.

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Bring on the live-action remake of Akira

I’m probably going to animation hell for saying this, but here it comes.

I have no objections to a well-made, live-action Hollywood remake of Akira.

There. I said it.

Rumors of remaking Katsuhiro Ohtomo‘s anime classic have been buzzing around the internet for a while now.

Harry Partridge even showed us what he thinks could happen to Akira in the hands of a Hollywood hack.

Here’s a few reasons why, if it’s done well, a live-action Hollywood Akira remake might actually be an improvement on the original.

Hollywood knows how to make superhero movies

After a dramatic encounter, a kid discovers he has super powers.

What movie am I describing?

It’s the logline of literally hundreds of Hollywood films, from Harry Potter to Spiderman to X-Men to The Incredible Hulk.

Not all superhero films turn out to be classics, but the one thing you can say is that Hollywood has plenty of experience with this genre.

A great director could do a great job

Movies like Donnie Darko, Inception, Moon and the recent Source Code show that it is possible to create intelligent high-concept films that are also entertaining.

You can’t tell me that a version of Akira directed by someone like David Fincher, JJ Abrams, Richard Kelly or Christopher Nolan wouldn’t be well-handled.

Akira is twenty-three years old

Akira was released in 1988. If you were born when Akira came out, you’d be old enough to drink by now.

Sure – just because a movie is old, doesn’t necessarily mean it’s ready to be remade, but fanboys can hardly use the “too soon” excuse.

Akira has problems

Right about now the internet is about to explode with rage and vitriol directed towards me.

But I saw the movie recently and there are significant problems with the characters, script and pacing that could be addressed in a new version.

Most of the third act of the film is dominated by Kaneda and Tetsuo fighting and screaming each other’s name at each other.

Tetsuooooo!

Kanedaaaaa!

It doesn’t make any sense. One short scene at the start of the movie where we see a pattern of Kenada bullying Tetsuo would make a massive difference in explaining the motivation of the characters.

In fact, the opposite happens. In flashback we’re told that Kaneda is one of the few children that is nice to Tetsuo – making their showdown even crazier.

The original Akira will still exist

It’s not like as part of the deal to remake Akira is to destroy all copies of the original.

Quite the contrary.

In the same way that the American version of The Office piqued interest in the original British version, it’s very likely that young people will get turned on to the original as a direct result of seeing the remake.

Don’t get me wrong – I think the original Akira is a flawed masterpiece. Even decades after it was made, I’m still stunned at the lighting and artwork. Not to mention the explosions, smoke, fire and flesh effects.

It’s brilliant, but I don’t think it’s untouchable.

In the hands of the right director, a live-action Akira remake could be fantastic.

Let’s wait and see if it gets off the ground.

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David Firth delivers a bitter pill

It’s dark, grotesque, perverse, poignant and brilliant.

It’s Take This Pill, the latest animated short from independent animator David Firth.

The crude animation and fast-talking dialog is a perfect match for this savage look at pharmaceuticals, modern medicine, mental illness and existential angst.

Firth, who created the Salad Fingers animated web series, says he doesn’t mind if people have a negative reaction to his films.

I just do what I do and people react how they react. — David Firth

To find out more about his mind-warping animation, check out David Firth’s website Fat-Pie.com.

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Mukpuddy achieves the impossible in 48 hours

The impossible?

Mukpuddy have just done it.

In the V 48 hour film contest, three New Zealand animators created a six and a half minute animated short in a single weekend.

Mukpuddy’s film came third overall and took out the prize for best animation.

Meanie Pants is Mukpuddy’s second entry into the film festival, where teams have to write, edit, shoot and deliver their films within a 48 hour deadline.

Fortunately for us, they documented their progress with this “behind the scenes” video:

Seeing what is achievable is a powerful motivator and allows you to reassess reality.

Most people thought running a mile in less than four minutes was out of the question.

It didn’t seem logical to me, as a physiologist/doctor, that if you could run a mile in four minutes, one and a bit seconds, you couldn’t break four minutes. But it had become a psychological as well as a physical barrier. — Roger Bannister

Yet within three years of Bannister running a four minute mile, sixteen other runners had done the same. It’s now considered a standard benchmark for professional middle distance runners.

Rethink what is possible. Maybe the obstacles you face aren’t that real after all.

For more information, check out the Mukpuddy blog.

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Classic videogames inspire Mike Scott’s Goldfish animation

Mike Scott has just released his third animated music video for South African electronic dance group Goldfish.

Dozens of references to classic videogames can be found in this energetic clip. How many can you spot?

Scott describes his collaboration process with artists from USA, Germany, Australian, South Africa, India, Spain, Brazil, Malaysia and the UK in this “behind-the-scenes” video:

To see more of his work, including the other Goldfish music videos, check out Mike Scott’s website.

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