Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Binta and the Great Idea: An Online Film

Binta and the Great Idea is a 2004 film by Javier Fesser that was nominated for an Academy Award. It is a story told by a small girl in Senegal about how her father has a great idea for his country and how the little girl's cousin wants to go to school against the wishes of her father. This is a film that presents the idea that there is something to learn from other cultures and that a healthy world means all kinds of unique people living together with understanding.

Go Watch Binta and the Great Idea

This blog entry comes from CandlelightStories.com

Tuesday, December 04, 2007

The Story of Stuff: Where all Our Stuff Comes From

The Story of Stuff is a short film and web site that explain how the production and disposal of all that stuff we shop for and buy affects the planet and the people who live on it. Find out why taking resources from third world nations to produce our cheap radios is hurting both the people of those nations and we who buy the cheap goods. You can also learn about ways to improve this system and put less strain on global resources.

Watch The Story of Stuff

This blog entry comes from CandlelightStories.com

Friday, November 16, 2007

HD Images of Earth from Lunar Orbiter

The Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency and Japan Broadcasting Corporation have taken beautiful high-definition videos and photos of the moon and Earth. The pictures come from Japan's lunar explorer, Kaguya. These are the first high-definition images taken of Earth from about 380,000 kilometers away.

I would love to see a Japanese mission to land on the moon. If anyone can do it right, they can.

See High-Definition Photos and Learn More

Watch High-Def Video of the Earth Rising Over Lunar Horizon

This blog entry comes from CandlelightStories.com

Saturday, November 10, 2007

Against All Odds - A Refugee Game from the UN

Th UN Refugee Agency has released an online game that puts the player in the role of a refugee from a hostile regime. Players can choose scenarios that have them escaping from hostile territories, trying to cross dangerous border zones, and adjusting to life and school in a new country. This game tries to get across how dangerous and hostile the life of a refugee from violence or dictatorship can be. Though the game is designed for younger players and for use by teachers, it deals out very harsh and violent consequences for bad decisions as a player is tries to escape. Parents and teachers should try the game first and then decide how best to use it for teaching. This game is very good at showing the terrible odds global refugees face as they try to survive.

Go Play Against All Odds

This blog entry comes from CandlelightStories.com

Halloween Horror Window

Illustrator/animator Mark Gervais created a horrific Flash animation that he projected onto a sheet inside a window on the front of his house for this past Halloween. It's a fantastic idea and looks really spooky. You can watch the entire animation and then see a video of how it looked in the window.

Go Watch Hallowindow 2007

This blog entry comes from CandlelightStories.com

Monday, October 29, 2007

The Phantom of the Opera - Free Horror Video

Just in time for Halloween we present The Phantom of the Opera. This is the 1929 silent classic filmed by Universal with Lon Chaney in the lead role. If you are a horror movie fan, this is an absolute must see.

Go Watch The Phantom of the Opera

This blog entry comes from CandlelightStories.com

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Monday, October 08, 2007

'awdballz' Creator Rik Maki Publishes Amazing Sketchbooks

Rik Maki is an incredible character designer at Disney. He does a thing on the web called awdbawlls that we've posted here before. He also writes books about quick-sketching in all sorts of interesting places. Scribblin' Away at Mike's Cafe is filled with over 200 pencil sketches drawn in 12 weeks on paper napkins, placemats, and newspaper while eating at various cafes.

He also runs a company along with veteran Disney animator Tina Price that does all kinds of design work and illustration. It's called Digital or Not. I really like it when these super-great artists go out and do their own thing. It just gets so full of possibility and excitement. Showing what people like this create is what the web does best.

This blog entry comes from CandlelightStories.com

Browser Game - Treasure Pyramid

Treasure Pyramid is a nice match-the-jewels game on AOL Games. It's all about an ancient Egypt theme that's very colorful and fun.

Go play Treasure Pyramid

This blog entry comes from CandlelightStories.com

Friday, September 28, 2007

JCB Song Music Video

I don't usually write posts about music videos, but they are in fact turning out to be one of the most vital and imaginative areas for animation. This video was animated with Flash software by Laith Bahrani for a band named Nizlopi. It's about a boy traveling the roads with his dad in an earth mover. It's a wonderful song and the animation is full of a gentle kind of humor and affection that is awfully difficult to find anywhere in animation on the Internet. I love the way things just keep gently sliding by the field of vision, everything always in tune with the music. Perfect work.

Go watch The JCB Song Animation

This blog entry comes from CandlelightStories.com

Saturday, September 15, 2007

Godzilla Movie Online for Free Viewing

Halloween's coming soon and we thought it might be time to get into the spirit of things with a good horror movie. This is the original 1954 Godzilla from Japan. It's got a great monster and an excellent sound track. It's the best version of the story there is. Have fun watching it in our DramaCast area where we'll post more great horror movies over the coming weeks.

Go watch Godzilla

This blog entry comes from CandlelightStories.com

Saturday, September 08, 2007

Global Warming is Wiping out Polar Bears

Here are links to several articles about just how bad the global warming situation is for the Arctic. Scientists now believe that most of the world's polar bear population will be wiped out as Arctic ice vanishes.

"Warming Is Seen as Wiping Out Most Polar Bears," Sep 7, New York Times

"Ice-free Arctic could be here in 23 years," Sep 5, in The Guardian

"Arctic ice cap to melt faster than feared, scientists say," Sep. 7, Seattle Times

Here's more information on Global Warming from Candlelight Stories.

Thank you BoingBoing for posting about these articles. Polar bear picture from Ukumari's Fickr photo set.

This blog entry comes from CandlelightStories.com

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Twit Twit - A French Animation

Five students of the ESRA Bretagne school in France made this excellent animation about a robot who travels the American west playing his banjo for hand-outs. Trouble starts when he comes across an unexpected toll stop. I love the cartoon look of the landscape and the expressive characters.

Go watch Twit Twit

This blog entry comes from CandlelightStories.com

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Illustrated Essays by David Gillette

What's an illustrated essay? Well, David Gillette makes lots of them and they are wonderfully drawn video expressions of personal opinion. This one's all about visiting New York City and what one can learn by doing so. It's fun to watch and may have you buying a ticket to the Big Apple!

Go see some Animated Essays

This blog entry comes from CandlelightStories.com

Winnie the Pooh from Russia

What's this? An animated Winnie the Pooh that's not boring? Here are several Russian Pooh stories that are beautifully drawn, have fantastic comic timing and characters that are completely charming. These are all in Russian but it doesn't matter a bit. I was laughing out loud as soon as the first one started. This Pooh is a hoot.

Go see a Russian Winnie the Pooh

This blog entry comes from CandlelightStories.com

Friday, August 03, 2007

Man & Whale - Beautiful Animation from Japan

Koji Yamamura has made a simply stunning animation called Man & Whale. It's about a headmaster at a school who remembers a drawing he made of whale when he was a small boy. The artwork is wonderful and the movie actually means something. If you have something to express, you make a movie like this. If you have nothing at all to express, you make something like 'Happy Tree Friends.'

Go see Man & Whale

This blog entry comes from CandlelightStories.com

Wednesday, August 01, 2007

Classic Animation Backgrounds

Hans Bacher has a blog called Animation Treasures that shows complete background artworks from classic animations. He makes seamless images by stitching together screen grabs. It is unusual to see backgrounds from animated movies in their entirety.

Go see Animation Treasures

This blog entry comes from CandlelightStories.com

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Ratatouille Virtual Set Tour

Tour the sets of the animated movie Ratatouille in virtual reality. Tour Gusteau's kitchen, Linguini's apartment, Skinner's office, and the soup ingredients.

Take the Quicktime Virtual Tour of Ratatouille Sets

This blog entry comes from CandlelightStories.com

Monday, July 16, 2007

Children's Rhyming Book

Illustrator Chad Geran is creating an online rhyming book called Do You Know What I Am? It's very simple and well-illustrated. Kids will enjoy it's question and answer approach.

Go Read Do You Know What I Am?

This blog entry comes from CandlelightStories.com

Friday, June 29, 2007

Popeye the Sailor - Restored Cartoons on DVD

Here's a fantastic DVD collection containing 60 of the original Popeye cartoons produced by the Fleischer Studio in the 1930s. The cartoons are fully restored to their full black & white glory and placed on the discs in the order of their original theatrical release dates. There is also a huge amount of extra documentary material and some other short films that will fascinate anyone interested in animation. These cartoons have never been available in such pristine condition before. This is an incredible box of DVDs.

Popeye the Sailor: 1933-1938, Vol. 1

This blog entry comes from CandlelightStories.com

Thursday, June 21, 2007

The Simpson's Handbook: Secret Tips from the Pros

This is an artist's manual for creating the characters of The Simpsons television animation. It has all kinds of instructions, samples and advice for drawing Simpson's stuff.

The Simpsons Handbook: Secret Tips from the Pros

This blog entry comes from CandlelightStories.com

Thursday, June 07, 2007

Windows, Masks & Doors - Animated Short

Windows, Masks & Doors is an animated short by Sarah Orenstein. It was made as her senior thesis project at the Rhode Island School of Design in 2006. The film takes the viewer on a train ride in a sort of magic box environment where the scenery is constructed like a miniature stage set. It is one of those little movies you will want to watch more than once so that you can see all the clever details.

Go watch Windows, Masks & Doors

Thanks to Drawn! for posting this.

This blog entry comes from CandlelightStories.com

Tuesday, June 05, 2007

Pilot Math - Online Math Learning Movies

Pilot Math is a series of fun videos that encourage math learning. The animated movies are available for free on YouTube. The company responsible for these animations also makes a line of learning workbooks that encourage the use of free media resources to make learning math more fun.

Go watch Pilot Math video

Thanks to Sandbox World for posting this.

This blog entry comes from CandlelightStories.com

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Paint.NET - Free Image Editing Software

Paint.NET is a free painting and image editing software for Windows computers. It has lots of special effects, painting and drawing tools, and it uses layers the way Photoshop does.

Go try Paint.NET

This blog entry comes from CandlelightStories.com

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Lonely Sea Monster - A Dark Children's Tale

Deanna Molinaro writes very sly, dark, funny children's stories. Several of her works are available on her web site. Lonely Sea Monster shows what happens when a little girl meets up with a perfectly ordinary sea monster. These stories are sort of in the general area of A Series of Unfortunate Events as far as concerns their morbid approach to entertaining young readers. Make sure you are comfortable with the stories before reading them to very young children. The drawings are simple but absolutely top-notch. Thank you to editor John Brownlee over at the Table Of Malcontents blog on Wired.com for pointing this out.

Go read Lonely Sea Monster

This blog entry comes from CandlelightStories.com

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

The Cat Who Walked by Herself - Russian Feature Animation

Yet another magnificent Russian animation! This is a 1988 feature animation adapted from Rudyard Kipling's story, The Cat Who Walked by Himself. It was directed by Ideya Garanina and made at the Soyusmultfilm studio. It mixes stop-motion and hand-drawn animation with an exuberant freedom that is quite something to watch. The film is beautiful. The more I see of great Russian animation the more I am convinced that many of their animators somehow avoided the great mistakes of the Disney-influenced animation of the West. The greatest of these mistakes as I see them are the assumption that clarity of line and color are important, and the principal of squash and stretch which states that motion is somehow more pleasing and humorous if everything behaves as if made of rubber. The Russian animators are more interested in beauty and feeling than in being understood or getting laughs. This is a full feature available on Google Video because a user made his own English subtitles and uploaded the entire film.

Go watch The Cat Who Walked by Herself

Click here for more info about the film at Wikipedia

This blog entry comes from CandlelightStories.com

Thursday, May 10, 2007

Amazing Russian Animation - Zhil byle pyos

Zhil byle pyos is a 1981 Russian animation from the Soyuzmultfilm company. It was written and directed by Eduard Nazarov. The movie is just wonderful. It is simple and gorgeous to look at. The characters are expressive without that absurd exaggeration that's so popular in Western animation. The story comes from an old Ukrainian folk tale about a dog that is thrown out of his home. His unlikely friendship with a wolf leads to a plan for getting the dog back home and saving the wolf from hunger. The film's soundtrack is all ambient natural sounds and helps create an unusual atmosphere. There are no silly sound effects here. Just a really good, moving story with living characters and a landscape that is stunning. It is just this kind of film that animation studios seem to have so little inclination to make. I'm not sure why. Perhaps it's because most animation studios are so busy making commercials.

Go watch Zhil byle pyos

This blog entry comes from CandlelightStories.com

Wednesday, May 09, 2007

One Mile From Home - Artist's Web Site

Julie Oakley is an artist in Great Britain who has a web site called One Mile From Home. She set herself a challenge to walk one mile in any direction every single day for a year and to make one drawing on each walk. The results are incredible. She is a supreme sketcher of landscapes, people, plants, buildings... everything. The web site is so full of wonderful art that I kind of lost my taste for all the other illustration sites I know about. I think if you want to draw or to be an artist, all you really need is a site like this to visit.

Go to One Mile From Home

This blog entry comes from CandlelightStories.com

Friday, May 04, 2007

Kid Cartoonists Web Site

Kid Cartoonists is a very simple web site where kids can get their cartoons posted for everyone to see. It's run by cartoonist Bob Weber Jr. who draws the Slylock Fox and Comics for Kids strip that runs in newspapers.

Go to Kid Cartoonists

This blog entry comes from CandlelightStories.com

Thursday, May 03, 2007

The Tale of How - Animation from South Africa

The Tale of How is a dreamlike musical animated short produced by a group called The Blackheart Gang in South Africa. It's about a world under the Indian Ocean (at least I think that's right) where some odd sort of bird creatures are threatened by the evil octopus Otto. I really like the extremely layered, misty, illustrative look of the movie. It uses old-fashioned 2-dimensional illustration done with incredible attention to detail and combines this with 3D computer graphics that are very cleverly blended in. Great work. Let's have more.

Go watch The Tale of How

This blog entry comes from CandlelightStories.com

Tuesday, May 01, 2007

Learn to Draw Star Wars

Artist Matt Busch teaches you how to draw characters from Star Wars. The video tutorials are fun and good. This particular one teaches you all about how to use light and shadow in your drawings to make them look totally real.

Go learn to draw Star Wars
I heard about this at Drawn!

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

awdbawllz - Fast Sketch Greeting Card Videos

Rik Maki, a character designer at Disney posts videos of himself making fast, funny sketches that have little greetings. And he does it all by hand... with a pencil. He should make a movie.

Check out awdbawllz
I heard about this at Drawn!

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Drawing Comics is Easy! - Book by a 7-Year-Old

Drawing Comics is Easy! Except When it's Hard is a book on how to draw comics by seven-year-old Alexa Kitchen. This kid draws comics very freely and they are really funny. This is totally cool and I hope she keeps making books for a long time. She also has a web site where you can see some of her work. AlexaKitchen.com


Saturday, April 21, 2007

The Frog Princess - Disney Tries Its Brown Crayons

The Walt Disney Company has announced plans to release a 2D hand-drawn feature animation of The Frog Princess in 2009. The movie will apparently be set in Jazz Age New Orleans and feature Disney's first black princess. On the surface, this sounds like really good news. It is also the first time I have been made aware that the U.S. animation industry provides its artists with colors darker than light pink or a light tan. This should be very interesting. Is it noticeable that the entire human cast, except one, of Disney's Meet the Robinsons were all colored pink? Seriously. Here you have a movie about orphans in the present day and the future, and guess what... they are all exactly the same shade of pink! There's one character painted a sort of light coffee tan, who for some reason goes unlisted on the Disney web site. And if you watch closely, this light coffee tan character does not get to go to the future. That's because only the pink characters are allowed to be in the future of this movie. Go to the Disney web site here http://disney.go.com/disneypictures/meettherobinsons/ and look at the cast of characters. See what I mean?


Thursday, April 19, 2007

Minus - An Online Comic

Minus is an online comic by Ryan Armand who decided to try drawing a comic strip as if he were doing it for an early 20th century American newspaper. The idea is an excellent one and the results are very charming. The central character of the strips seems to be able to make incredible things happen with her imagination.

Go read Minus


Monday, April 16, 2007

Making an Animated Movie Online

Who is this? I thought you might ask. This is a test image of the main character in my next animated movie. As of now, the movie's title is The Visit. That may change. So might my little main character. In fact, the entire drawing technique might change. That's sort of the point. You are going to be able to follow along as the movie is designed and animated. I'll start an online journal soon. It will have character designs, backgrounds, animatics, sketches, and story ideas. The movie will be made in Flash. I'll try to give you as much information as I can about the animation process. You'll also get to see lots of my mistakes... there are more than enough of those!

Update: the blog is now live. Go read the Make the Movie blog to follow along with the production.


Page d'Ecriture - Animation from Italy

The italian national film school is called CSC. Three students there made this film called Page d'Ecriture. They are Filippo Giacomelli, Fabio Tonetto, and Juan Francisco Correa Diaz. The film combines 3D and 2D techniques. It has simplicity and grace, a sense of fun, and good timing. There is a lot of life contained within the frame. Plus, this film has that sensibility about children, school and imagination that one can only find in Italy. Please make more of these.

Go watch Page d'Ecriture

You can also visit the film's production blog


Sunday, April 15, 2007

Just One More Book - Children's Book Podcast

Just One More Book is a thrice-weekly podcast about children's books. The site has book reviews and interviews with authors and illustrators. The group that produces these shows has been at it for a while and has amassed a library of over 100 reviews. You can even record your own review online and send it to the site's organizers. This is a very useful site that is put together with a lot of style and intelligence.

Go to the Just One More Book Web Site


Sunday, April 08, 2007

Sticky Burr, Adventures in Burrwood Forest

Sticky Burr, Adventures in Burrwood Forest is a book that is written and illustrated by John Lechner. The whole thing started out as an online comic that the author created just because he wanted to. It's about a little burr who lives in Burrwood Forest. He plays the ukulele and has all sorts of interesting adventures. The author's web site is full of fun stuff for kids like a Sticky Burr movie, an online journal about life in the forest, a complete map of the forest, a game, and information about all the characters in the story. This is the way children's books should be handled online. It's just perfect.

Sticky Burr: Adventures in Burrwood Forest

Go see the Sticky Burr Web Site


Thursday, April 05, 2007

Drawing for Animation - Disney Artist Instruction

Walt Stanchfield was a Disney animator who wrote handouts for the company on gesture drawing for more effective animation of characters. The handouts are loaded with drawing examples and will keep you occupied for weeks of learning. Just get out a sketchpad, open the PDF documents, and follow along with your pencil. This kind of thing is just great for getting one in the right frame of mind for drawing. We found this over at the excellent Drawn! blog.

Go get the Walt Stanchfield Drawing Handouts


Wednesday, April 04, 2007

Flash Animation from China

Here's a really great looking, fast-moving, colorful animation called Sidamingzhu from a company called ItsCartoon in China. I love the way this cartoon flies around non-stop, out of control and totally full of life. I wish I knew what the characters were saying, but it's great even if I don't speak Chinese! I found this posted over at the ColdHardFlash blog.

Have fun watching!

Go see Sidamingzhu


Monday, April 02, 2007

Asimov's - Science Fiction Magazine

I can't believe I've only just started buying these excellent magazines. Asimov's Science Fiction is a monthly that publishes short stories, novellas, novelletes, poetry and editorials. Science fiction great, Isaac Asimov, the author of I-Robot and the Foundation series, was the magazine's editorial director from its inception in 1977 to his death in 1992. Over the years, the stories from Asimov's have won 44 Hugo Awards and 25 Nebula Awards. The price is low and if you are into science fiction you will find a comfortable home here with many of the world's best authors. The 30th Anniversary issue is out now and it is fantastic. I've got a copy right next to me as I write this and I am currently reading a novella by Allen M. Steele called The River Horses.

The magazine has a website that is not very attractive but it has all the information you need to subscribe or just find out what's inside the pages. You can find Asimov's at most newsstands and book stores.

Go the Asimov's website


Sunday, April 01, 2007

The Making of Snow White by Men and 'Girls'

In 1938 Popular Science Magazine did a fascinating 5-page article with lots of pictures on the making of Disney's Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs. The article is full of technical details on the invention of the giant multi-plane camera that made scenes with great depth and many background layers possible.

Unfortunately, the article is also filled with telling examples of the magazine's and Disney's prehistoric attitudes toward women. All female Disney workers in the article are referred to as 'girls' or 'girl artists.' Here's an example of a caption: 'A girl in the paint department mixes colors to be applied to celluloid by the 140 girl artists. Each tint must conform to specifications.' Hmmm... I think actually that Disney needed more of these 'girl artists' on the job. Then maybe their movies wouldn't have been so boring. Or maybe they should have hired some 'boy artists' since men were so obviously in short supply.

Go read the article about interesting Disney attitudes and techniques


Friday, March 30, 2007

The Golden Goose - Audio Story


Here's a children's audio story from the free Sound Story podcast at CandlelightStories.com. It's called The Golden Goose and it comes from the collection of Brothers Grimm stories. It concerns three brothers, one of whom is a simpleton. When this simpleton finds a golden goose opportunities and complications seem to meet him at every turn. Enjoy your listen!

The illustration is by Leslie Brooke and is from a 1905 book entitled, 'The Golden Goose Book.'

Duration: 00:09:58

Gerald McBoing-Boing - Classic Cartoon

Gerald McBoing-Boing is a 1950 UPA cartoon that won the Academy Award for best animated short. It is about a little boy who communicates through sound effects instead of talking. It was voted one of the 50 greatest cartoons of all time in 1994 by animation professionals. It uses abstraction and caricature in an effort to move away from the Disney style of animation at the time.

The link below takes you to a YouTube version of the movie. There may be material at YouTube that is not appropriate for young viewers. Parents, use your judgement.

Go watch Gerald McBoing-Boing


Thursday, March 29, 2007

Havoc in Heaven - Chinese Animation

Havoc in Heaven is a 1960s feature animation from China. It was directed by Wan Laiming and produced by the Wan Brothers. It is a literary adaptation about the Monkey King who goes to heaven to stage a rebellion against the Jade Emperor of Heaven. The movie is absolutely stunning, with fantastic balletic motion, incredible characters, gorgeous settings and a spinning pinwheel of color that is incredible to behold.

The link below takes you to a YouTube version of the movie. There may be material at YouTube that is not appropriate for young viewers. Parents, use your judgement.

Go watch Havoc in Heaven


Tales of Pirates - Online Adventure Game

Tales of Pirates is an online pirate game that is currently in beta testing. You can sign up to play their latest beta version this Friday. It looks like it's got all the pirate essentials along with an anime graphics style. Have fun!

Tales of Pirates