Friday, January 19, 2007

Rocket Dreams - Illustrator Develops a Story Online

There's this illustrator named Jeremy Vanhoozer and he's up to something really great. He's developing a story idea called Rocket Dreams that might be a book or maybe a movie. He's posting all his work including ideas, sketches, designs, posters - all of it as he goes. He's really, really good. I wish Rocket Dreams were part of Candlelight. It's cool. Also, this kind of thing is totally where it's at with illustration and animation now. When I walk into a movie theater and see the posters for Pixar's next flick I'm stunningly bored. When I get on the web and find guys like this making their own thing I suddenly want to see more. Go figure.

You should certainly go check out Mr. Vanhoozer's Rocket Dreams.

Friday, January 05, 2007

Winter Days - 2003 Yuri Norstein Animation

Wow! I did not know this existed. It's a 2-minute animation made by Yuri Norstein as his segment of a 2003 Japanese animated movie called Winter Days. It's simply beautiful. I can't stop watching it. Those leaves and trees in the wind are stunning. The two characters are so real and so expressive. Norstein is the guy who made Hedgehog in the Fog which is posted below. This is what it's all about. Want to animate? Stare at this for several days and you will probably know how to do it.

Go watch the Norstein segment from Winter Days

Jeff Bezos Launches his Spaceship

Call me crazy, but I think this video clip represents one of the most important and fantastic news events of recent memory. Jeff Bezos, the founder of, has tested his Blue Origin spaceship. This is the kind of thing that can happen when people of intelligence and resources to match are not distracted by silly wars and the misguided floundering of bad governments. It is this use of wealth and ambition that raises the bar for civilization. It is this kind of inspiration and ingenuity that changes the world and is long-remembered. I am not pleased with the half-hearted, jokey blog and news coverage of this event. To get a vehicle that is the size of a truck off the ground to a height of 300 feet and bring it back down again gently is an extraordinarily tough thing to do. It requires people with real brains and lots of experience. This is no model rocket. It's a big, heavy spaceship that keeps its balance perfectly. What a fantastic beginning. Well done! By the way, what if these guys set their sights on a car that does not burn carbon-based fuel and does not pollute? Can I request this as the next project after space?

Visit the Blue Origin website for more images.

Thursday, January 04, 2007

Monster Island - Free Online Zombie Novel

Monster Island is a very graphic, intense, violent, wild, action-packed zombie novel. I would not recommend it for very young readers. But it's fun. The author, David Wellington, has been offering it for free on his website. That's actually where I read it. I started off thinking it was just going to be a silly piece of free crap and then I was sucked in. I finished the darned thing! The author is offering his other novels for free this way. But the funny thing is that his books are showing up in bookstores. Now here's my question: if I'm reading the books for free online, why am I gravitating over to the print version in the store and picking it up and buying it? Here's my answer: it's just flat out cool and hip and neat to watch a thing go from digital bits on a screen to an actual, paperback hunk of real worldly thing. To hold it and own it. I think this means a lot for authors and publishers. Having read an author for free and enjoyed it, one develops a subtle affection for the writer and wants to pay him for his book in a store.

Bambi Artwork Online

ASIFA-Hollywood Archive has posted some scans of Disney production art from Bambi. There's background art and character sketches. I wish Disney could still make drawings like these. But not to worry, pictures like these are now being made by web animators. We needed Disney then, not now.

ArtRage 2 - Inexpensive Painting Software

ArtRage 2 is a new painting program that lets you use tube paints, glitter, rollers, pallet knives, markers, crayons, pencils, airbrushes, and all sorts of metallic effects. There's a free version available and upgrading to the full toolset is only $19.95. It looks like a really fun tool that could have many uses for artists and animators. In fact, I think I have a use for it in my next movie!

Thank you to Sandbox World for posting about this!

All-Action Classics Publishes Graphic Novels

All-Action Classics has published a graphic novel version of Bram Stoker's Dracula. They specialize in graphic adaptations of classic novels. There's a version of Tom Sawyer available and next up is The Odyssey of Homer.

Thank you to Sandbox World for posting about this!

Tuesday, January 02, 2007

Hedgehog in the Fog - Animation by Yuri Norstein

Yuri Norstein is one of the great Russian animators who worked in the Soviet movie studio known as Soyusmultfilm. He created films that are considered some of the best animations ever. They have the quality of being watchable many times over. That's something that most animations do not have. Norstein uses multiple layers in this film, some drawn on glass. He uses stop motion techniques with painted cut-outs for the characters. The level of expression and emotion he achieves this way is extraordinary.

Hedgehog in the Fog is a dreamlike and mostly a visual story. However, its simple, evocative soundtrack is wonderful and provides a lesson that I think the 'pop, boing, and whistle' fanatics in animation today could stand to learn. Have you ever wondered why most TV and web cartoons sound so stupid? If you have wondered that, then this film is for you. If you haven't, then go watch Cartoon Network.

Watch Hedgehog in the Fog