O Menino e o Mundo – Boy and the World

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An absolute masterpiece!

A uniquely beautiful film, the incredible story follows a child’s journey from their point of view, as their family is torn apart by the increasingly gigantic ever-changing world around them. The boy travels through various changing landscapes as he gets closer to the big industrialised city, along the way he meets many interesting people from different walks of life. There is a deeper moral story that asks questions about the implications of industrialisation, and all this without any dialogue at all. The young child that we follow around on this grand adventure doesn’t have a mouth most of the time!

He doesn’t even have a name (although press materials refer to him as Cuca) and doesn’t really speak so much as giggle, and the limited dialogue that does exist in Brazilian writer-director Ale Abreu’s film consists of meager sprinklings of gibberish.

http://www.rogerebert.com/reviews/boy-and-the-world-2015

This movie really is all about getting lost in a really interesting world at a really interesting time. It says a lot without saying very much and is utterly beautiful at times. Below are some still from the movie, because it’s just so stunning and you get to see some of the movie’s range. Its one of the most colourful movies I’ve probably ever seen, and although the style is simple, it feel so real and alive.

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I’ve added the following review in an effort to convince whoever see’s this blog and hasn’t seen the movie and is still not sure it’s their sort of thing to FIND AND WATCH THIS MOVIE!!

“The best animated film of the year!”
“Utterly lyrical, visually captivating, musically driven and extraordinarily sophisticated…
a multicolored tapestry of endless ambition
that stimulates our intellect and embraces our hearts!”
– IndieWire

http://www.boyandtheworldfilm.com/

The animation is a mixture of hand-drawn, painting, digital and cut-out collage. The result is a rich, textured visual world, you could pause at any moment and you would have a beautiful image worthy of framing, or at least hanging on your fridge anyway. Which brings me around to the child-like style, sometimes you really feel like you are viewing the world through this child’s eyes. The train is smoking a pipe, the cranes in the city look like dinosaurs. It’s touches like these that really engage you the whole way through, and shows just how thoughtful this movie can be at times.

Luckily i found some character sheets and drawings made for the film which are below!boy18boy17boy14

One of my favourite things in the movie was the way that some music was portrayed visually. The father plays his pipe music to the child and we can see the notes come out and float around in the air, the child even tries to capture the sounds in a can and save them for later, and it adorably works! It just brings the music alive even more and is used to show the audience how the boy interacts with the music, and in many ways how meaningful it is to him. It just adds something to the film that makes you feel more engaged by the action. boy12boy13

The people did look a little bit skeleton-ish at times though, and i wondered if they were supposed to look fraught and a bit diminished. It wouldn’t surprise me if it was an intentional decision, this movie is not subtle with its messages against modernisation, as the heavily policed and controlled world seems full of turmoil and struggle, which ultimately seems inevitable in a global society. And you’re left wondering exactly what kind of world you live in right now, making things a wee bit depressing actually.. But it also shows a more hopeful vision of people coming together with music and dancing, and along the way we see strangers helping our little main character in different ways, so its not completely doom and gloom.bou11

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There are a few more images from where i sourced these here – http://www.cartoonbrew.com/sponsored-by-gkids/exclusive-character-design-gallery-boy-world-opening-today-la-nyc-125792.html

I really liked the design of the train. This noisy winding mechanical creature that comes and like a monster steals his father away from the family, with no idea when it will return or even if it will bring his father back.  It reminded me a bit of Monty Python Terry Gilliam esque animation, not just with the train.

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I cannot recommend this movie enough, its just a really fantastic thing that you need to see and experience.

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Sausage Party

This movie is NOT for everyone. Its crude, vulgar and crass. Its childish and rude, dumb and full of sex, swearing and violence. Here’s the trailer in case it has slipped under your radar:

Now with swearing:

That poor toilet roll.. I linked the second trailer because it shows the level of swearing in the dialogue much better, the characters use swear words as naturally as any other word, so its pretty frequent. Rated R in the US and 15 here in the UK, Sausage Party is going to be controversial. Seth Rogen (Pineapple Express, Superbad) is the writer behind this one, the famous Hollywood pothead success story himself, and the voice cast is actual pretty great, featuring Salma Hayak, Michael Cera, Edward Norton (although you wont recognise his voice) and James Franco.

When i heard about the film and the premise; food stuffs that are alive, that’s something i was immediately very interested in! If you follow my blog or Instagram at all you’ll know p-slice and maybe you’ll have seen hotdog guy or another food related character. I think they’re great! So i went into this film, especially after seeing the trailer, kind of excited. I wanted to see how far they took the characters on their adventures after finding out they are eaten by the gods, and how they would handle that as filmmakers. After seeing the film, i wasn’t disappointed.

We are so used to seeing into the lives of ‘blank’ – bees, ants, toys, cars, pets/animals, etc, the animation industry has been doing it for a while – this was a refreshing take on that whole shabangalang.

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Don’t quote me on this but apparently Sasha Baron Cohen said it was the single craziest thing hes ever seen in his life. Borat. Borat said it was the craziest thing hes ever seen in his entire f*cking life. Borat said that. So if that doesn’t intrigue you i don’t know what will. [http://www.smh.com.au/entertainment/movies/sacha-baron-cohen-appalled-by-seth-rogens-rrated-cartoon-sausage-party-20160316-gnkrou.html]

This film has a story-line, heroes and a villain, romance.. I’m not saying its good though, but its a decent little film and has a plot, as long as you aren’t easily offended and you enjoy that kind of humour its alright. If you don’t like South Park its unlikely you’ll enjoy this, i feel like those audiences will heavily overlap. It has its moments, and i have to say i was actually totally shocked at the places the film went with its characters, but its could have gone further, just.But it went there and made fun of everything, maybe its not exactly clever, but its genuinely unique and fresh, its something new in so many ways without actually doing all that much new.

So yeah, this isn’t really a review. More of a ‘hey guys there’s this silly movie where food is all alive and they believe humans are gods but then they find out we eat them and its crazy!’ Really r-rated animations don’t happen enough, they are always aimed more at younger more inclusive audiences, so i hope this movie opens the doors for more of the same. I heard someone say this will open the flood gates for more r-rated animated movies and i really hope that’s the case.

Oh yeah before i forget, there are some people claiming its full of racism so:

Writing on the Birth Movies Death website, Devin Faraci said: ‘The ethnic jokes in aren’t just there because they’re funny – and holy s*** are many of them unbelievably funny – they’re there because the script is directly engaging what they mean.

‘This is a movie where all the different foods are split up into aisles, and each food has a dedication to its own aisle, and each aisle has its own beliefs and religion, and Frank travels through them all trying to bring everybody together.

 ‘The movie is, in its own jokey way, celebrating the differences among nations and peoples while also reminding us that those differences are only skin deep.’

Just something to think about, stereotype jokes/ mocking stereotypes = racism for some people. I know the film pushed boundaries with its humour, but its hardly the most controversial thing to exist and be enjoyed by audiences, i think everyone will have to make their own mind up if they enjoy it or not really. It wont resonate with everyone.

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Anyway onto the other stuff, the main reason for this blog post. There have been allegations that the animating staff were mistreated on this film. I don’t pretend to have a  deep understanding of this topic, but as an animation student i’m interested, so here’s what I’ve found so far:

http://www.cartoonbrew.com/feature-film/sausage-party-directors-conrad-vernon-greg-tiernan-making-2016s-outlandish-animated-film-142425.html

Here’s the question and response from Greg (director):

The production cost for the film has been reported in the entertainment press as being around $20 million.

Greg Tiernan: Neither Conrad or I can confirm or deny that actual figure, but all I will say is that when Conrad pitched the movie to us, and we made our pact and vow to Conrad, and to Seth and Evan, and eventually to Megan Ellison at Annapurna and to Sony Columbia, we knew damn well that we could deliver a movie that looks like a $150 million movie for a fraction of the cost. That’s about as close as I can get to confirming or denying that figure. In general, that’s the whole reason we started the studio 13 years ago. After working in the L.A. industry for many years, I could see so much money just needlessly thrown down the toilet in making a lot of these movies. It doesn’t have to cost that much money when you’re well organized, and you have your mind set on the goal of what you want to do, and you get the job done with a small, determined crew. But yeah, let’s just say it was a lower budget movie.

Now here’s the (now seemingly infamous) comment below the article:

The production cost were kept low because Greg would demand people work overtime for free. If you wouldn’t work late for free your work would be assigned to someone who would stay late or come in on the weekend. Some artist were even threatened with termination for not staying late to hit a deadline.

The animation department signed a petition for better treatment and paid overtime. When the letter got to Annapurna they stepped in and saw that artist were payed and fed when overtime was needed.

Over 30 animators left during the coarse of the production due to the stress and expectations. Most of them left before the paid overtime was implemented. This was met with animosity and was taken as a personal insult to the owners. Their names were omitted from the final credits despite working for over a year on this film.

Worrying no? Although its basically an anonymous poster here, so is it true? Well its not the only comment, keep reading if you’re interested but there are more entries by supposed ex-employees who claim similar stuff – even leaving amicably due to visa problems but still being uncredited in the movie.

Certainly the risk of being blacklisted from the industry is a real concern in the movie industry in general, or at least the fear of being blacklisted definitely seems to exist. But Annapurna appears to have made things right in the end.. right?

Well…. Here’s an open letter from the VFX Union UK:

http://vfxforum.org/2016/08/sausage-party-nitrogen-open-letter/

It’s sad to say, but stories of poor working conditions are becoming an embarrassingly regular occurrence in our industry. From the infamous MPC Variety article, to the Life of Pi Oscar debacle, time and again we’ve found our industry’s troubles in the spotlight. We’ve seen reports of a client saying “If I don’t put a visual effects shop out of business (on my movie), I’m not doing my job”. We’ve seen a facility exec tell an audience that if you don’t like long hours then you should get out. We’ve seen hundreds of VFX artists left off the credits of Star Trek Beyond. We’ve seen friends and colleagues forced to uproot their lives and move around the globe to chase tax-breaks and production whims. The question is this: when are things finally going to change?.

We would like to invite everyone around the world who’s read Nitrogen’s story and recognised these horror stories to join their local VFX union. We’ve started a process here in London. However, our recognition bids are only one piece of the puzzle. If you’re waiting for us to fix everything for you world-wide, then you’re in for a long wait. This is a big industry, and we can’t change the whole thing without you. We need to act together.

People are not doing nothing, and the papers are obviously happy to report on it, so there’s that: Examples of that:

http://www.nme.com/filmandtv/news/-sausage-party-hit-by-claims-its-animation-team-we/414843

‘Sausage Party’ Animators Allege Studio Used Unpaid Overtime

https://www.inverse.com/article/19973-sausage-party-animator-abuse-highlights-industry-issues

I feel like this quote from the above link sheds further light on the issue:

“All they have to do is outsource it to a job shop, and let the job shops bid on the work, and they’ll lowball each other to get it. It is a low-margin business, because everybody is bidding against one another.”

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So yeah, that’s Sausage Party, love it or hate it, either way peoples reactions to this movie (and its trailers) are the best. [Evil finebros link:]

Origins – Golden Age Animation – Hanna Barbera

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Hanna Barbera were big producers of animation during the ‘golden age’ of American animation (roughly the 1920’s through to the 1960’s), with famous characters like Yogi bear, Top Cat, the Flintstones and the Jetsons to name just a few. The animated style is immediately recognisable as a Hanna-Barbera cartoon, they have their own identifiable look, from the character and set design choices through to the actual animation style itself.

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Top Cat and the gang! This helpful sheet helps animators reference the heights of the characters compared to one another. Below that is a turnaround sheet, which shows the characters in different angles, which again is helpful as a reference for animators when they are animating the scenes for the show.

14367524540_e1e237a570_bc0e6e6e2384d8319cf2cec4b9ada35f3“Heavens to Murgatroyd even!”

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“Exit stage left!”

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This turnaround is useful because they have also made sure to put in ruler lines which help to keep everything at the right height and size when animating Johnny Bravo.

“YABBADABBADOO!”

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So The Flintstones was originally going to be the Gladstones?! huh, TIL.

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Wacky races was one of my favourite Hanna-Barbera cartoons growing up , and that’s in no small part thanks to the amazing and interesting characters that take part in the races, each characters had their own custom race-car as well, which reflected their own personalities and helped to define and identify the characters. .

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Classic early age animators/cartoonists – Winsor McCay

McCay1Winsor McCay, born Zenus Winsor McCay (McKay- his father changed this to McCay because C’s are obvs better than k’s, duh!) in Canada. His exact birth date seems to be up for debate, with birth records seemingly destroyed in his obituary in the New York Herald Tribune stated, “not even Mr. McCay knew his exact age.” His family moved to the USA and Winsor was raised in Michigan. Winsor began drawing at a very early age and when he was 13 he drew a picture of a shipwreck on the school blackboard which was photographed and copies were actually sold. He went to business school, as his family wanted him to have a proper job, but Winsor loved to draw and found work in Dime museums where he would draw customers portraits for 25c each, among other jobs. He got a taste for performing to an audience here and it never really went away, as he went on to perform on Vaudeville, which was a sort of variety show where musicians, dancers, singers, illusionists, comedians, animal acts, impersonators, clowns, jugglers, artists, short plays/scenes from plays, celebrities talkers, minstrels and movies. It was entertainment for everyone with a little bit of everything. It was said that his amazing ability to draw quickly and with great accuracy was able to draw crowds when he painted advertisements in public. Before vaudeville though he had various jobs and after starting a family and moving to Cincinnati in 1891 Winsor took a job as a cartoonist/reporter at the Cincinnati Commercial Tribune, while doing freelance comics as well. Di.MuseumIn 1900 McCay took a job at The Cincinnati Enquirer, where he went on to become the head of the art department. In 1903 Winsor moved to New York to work for the New York Herald, doing illustrations and editorial cartoons. Winsor worked for the New York American and again for the New York Herald, he stayed in his Brooklyn home in New York until his death on July 26, 1934.

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Comic strips 

January 21, 1904 – Mr. Goodenough – published in the Evening Telegram it was about a sedentary millionaire who would seek ways to become more active, with embarrassing results.

April, 1904 – Sister’s Little Sister’s Beau – McCay’s first strip with a child protagonist lasted one instalment.

May 1904 – Phurious Phinish of Phoolish Philipe’s Phunny Phrolics -appeared in the Herald ’​s Sunday supplement – his first color strip.

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“HE JUST COULDNT STOP IT – HE NEVER KNEW WHEN IT WAS COMING”

July 1904 – Little Sammy Sneeze – about a boy who’s sneeze built until he let it out with disastrous results, and was McCays first real success! It ran until December 1906.

September 1904 – Dream of a Rarebit Fiend – another success published in the Evening Telegram, it was aimed at an adult audience and he wrote it using an alias – Silas. The comics characters that appeared in the strip would have fantastic, sometimes terrifying dreams, only to wake up in the last panel, cursing the Welsh rarebit they had eaten the night before, which they blamed for bringing on the dream.

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January 1905 – The Story of Hungry Henrietta – the child protagonist visibly ages week by week, and eats compulsively in lieu of the love she craves from her parents.

June 1905 – A Pilgrim’s Progress by Mister Bunion – another “Silas” strip for the Evening Telegram, which ran until December 1910. Mr. Bunion spent each strip unsuccessfully scheming to rid himself of his suitcase, labelled “Dull Care”.

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Oct 1905 – Little Nemo’s Adventures in Slumberland – Nemo, a little boy (based on McCay’s son Robert) had amazing and marvellous dreams which he woke from every week in the last frame. It was basically like dream of a rarebit fiend aimed at a more broad audience.

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While Winsor may not have been the first person to create animation, he was certainly one of the first, and it can be said that Gertie the dinosaur was the first character created just for the animation, making her the very first original animated character. Winsor is credited with being the first person to use key frames, but no matter what he considered it a gift to the community and the art-world, not something to be patented or anything. When it became commercialised Winsor was not happy about that at all, the art being turned into a business was something it seemed Winsor didn’t want to happen. He created ten animated films between 1911 and 1921. mccayworld

Winsor is quoted as saying “My goal is to make something that once you’ve seen it  you cannot ever have not seen it.”

Animations

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Little Nemo – 1911

McCay drew almost 4000 separate drawings on rice paper, testing and re-testing each one so that the transition from one drawing to the next-each drawing representing one frame of film-would appear smooth and seamless, without jerks or shakiness. And each drawing featured his beautifully rendered line drawings of his characters.No previous animation had featured such strong graphics or care in presentation.

While there was not much of a story, it shows off animation well by morphing the character, which was its principle job, as a further attraction to McCays vaudeville act. Originally black and white Winsor went on to hand colour each frame individually afterwards as the films popularity grew.

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How a mosquito operates – 1912

Based on a rarebit fiend comic, this had more of a story to it than the last animation, about a mosquito who goes looking for his next meal, which he finds in a man who he feeds on for the length of the animation. The mosquito is quite a character with hat and case, the grinding wheel it uses to sharpen its tip and McCays attention to how the creature moves is apparent in the animation and makes the character of the mosquito really come to life on the screen.

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Gertie the dinosaur – February 1914

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Gertie the Dinosaur debuted as part of McCay’s vaudeville act where he introduced Gertie as ‘the only dinosaur in captivity’, and commanded the animated beast with a whip. Gertie seemed to obey McCay, bowing to the audience, and eating a tree and a boulder, though she had a will of her own and sometimes rebelled. The finale shows McCay walk off-stage then reappear in animated form in the film, and had Gertie carry him away.

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A modified version was prefaced with a live-action sequence and replaced the interactive portions with intertitles, which meant it could be played in regular movie theaters, reaching a wider audience and undoubtedly increasing its popularity.

The sinking of the Lusitania – July 1918

McCays serious cartoon, about the infamous sinking of the Lusitania ship carrying civilians from america to Britain by the German military in May 1915.

This was the first film McCay did on transparent celluloid sheets, as had been recently patented by others. Using this technique, the same background painting could be used over and over. It still took almost 25,000 separate drawings, and over eight months of McCay’s time.

Later Animations

The Pet – One of the first monster movies where the monster storms through a cityscape. In fact Winsor used dinosaurs a lot as well, in cartoons and animation. It seems that Winsor may in fact be responsible for influencing popular culture far more than we previously thought!

McCay was a visionary artist who always wanted to push the envelope and try new things. He made some of the earliest animations and left a legacy of incredible comic strips behind him. He also drew many editorial cartoons and illustrations and certainly impacted on the art world in a big way. Unfortunately for Winsor he never really reached the fame and success he deserved, his employers stopped him from travelling and performing his acts more, they stifled his creativity at times and generally made his life difficult. So he was unable to achieve everything he wanted, although he still managed to do a lot. In the end McCay enjoyed a career where he was recognised as a talented artist and illustrator, and also a competent film-maker/animator who made some lovely films. All in all he was a name to be remembered and his art should be enjoyed by more people, his place in animation history is secured and deserved.

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References [accessed on 07/01/16]

Pinscreen Animation

Claire Parker and a Millions pins.

Chevaliers Budoir: Une nuit le Mont chauve 1933

“This is not about making entertainment product, its an art form.”

Pinscreen animation is made using a board containing thousands of pins, whose shadows on the board create the grey tones required to create a picture. When they were invented in France in the 1930’s it was seen as a new way to make moving images, pinscreen allows animators to create stunningly lifelike images which are shaded, opposed to the much simpler animation of the time. like stop-motion, the animator would make subtle changes on the pinscreen and in between this would photograph the screen with a camera.

A (potential?) precursor to one of the animations in Fantasia is called ‘A Night on Bald Mountain’ (1933) and is almost shot for shot the same.

The nose (1963) Much better animation and story, really starts to show off how pinscreen can look and the effect and range of shading it gives you for the time.

Le Paysagiste mindscape (1976) has a really beautiful illustrated look and feel to it, like something out of a picture book, really soft edges. The equipment will have been more advanced as well, and the film has been stored well so it has retained its look.

Orson Welles film (approx 7 minutes) Before the Law from the Trial (1962)

Nine Inch Nails – ‘Only’ (music video – possible cgi)

‘Pinscreen’ – “Commissioned by Ward Fleming, an inventor of the popular table-top version of pinscreen. This video was created, in Ward’s words, “to provide talking points while I address an audience of sighted and unsighted folk who will be attending the opening of my pinscreen exhibit at focusTerra a geology museum at Zurich ETH, the Swiss technical institute. The pinscreen is for use by the general public but more specifically is being displayed to give blind folks a tactile experience of fossil formation and the molding process.”

This type of animation reminds me of sand animation, where a similar effect can be created, and the sand is moved in between photographs (frames) like the pins are.

Here an artist performs for an audience in a theatre.

Ferenc Cako: Live Sand Animation @ the Seoul Animation Festival in 2003.

Sand stop-motion animation – ‘Promised land’

A young boy tries to warn his father of a looming spirit, the ErlKing, who is trying to lure the child away. Sand animation by Benny Zelkowicz, Music by Franz Schubert.