Thursday, August 17, 2006

History and Business Links

Some very interesting material has been surfacing recently dealing with animation history.

Michael Sporn has been publishing pictures from a 1940 book called Film Guide Handbook: Cartoon Production. The stills are all taken at Disney, and many of them haven't been published elsewhere. Here's part 1, part 2, part 3 and part 4. Make sure to read the comments, as many of the people in the photos are identified there.

The Animation Guild blog is putting up drawings by animation artists from the 1940's including work by Virgil Partch (satirizing Ollie Johnston and another entry satirizing the aging of the inbetween crew), George Gordon (satirizing a 1940 MGM cartoon dept. golf tournament), and a 1929 caricature by Jack King of the Disney staff.

Over at the ASIFA-Hollywood blog, they've put up a lot of model sheets from UPA that I've never seen before. There's work from the Gerald McBoing Boing and Magoo films, but there's also artwork from lesser known UPA cartoons like Georgie and the Dragon, directed by Bobe Cannon, and The Popcorn Story, directed by Art Babbitt.

Amid Amidi has posted photos of artists of the 1950's who are the subject of his new book Cartoon Modern. I'll be reviewing this book for fps and just got my copy today. I haven't read a word of it yet, but the art is fantastic. If you're interested in 1950's design, one flip through this book and you'll know that you have to own it. And I'm confident, based on Amid's Animation Blast magazine, that the text will be highly informative.

UPDATE: The comic book history magazine Alter Ego is a place you wouldn't ordinarily look for for animation history. However, the current issue (#61) has a history of the American Comics Group, which published funny animal comics that were drawn by many animation personnel. The history includes interview material with Jim Davis (not the Garfield Jim Davis; the animator who worked for everyone from Harman-Ising to Filmation) and there's information on and artwork by the likes of Ken Hultgren, Jack Bradbury, Dan Gordon, Bob Wickersham, Hubie Karp and Cal Howard.

On the business side, here's an article about how documentary film makers are dealing with problems caused by copyright and how Kirby Dick, whose movie This Film is Not Yet Rated will be released without copyright clearances and defend itself based on the "fair use" section of the U.S. copyright law. I'm waiting for some kind of tipping point where copyright is either going to completely break down or undergo a radical change. I think that pressure for this is building on multiple fronts.

I don't play video games. However, there's no question that they represent a very large part of the current animation industry. Peter Moore was the former head of Sega U.S. and is now in charge of the Microsoft Xbox. He talks about 7 ways that the game industry can make itself more open to both audiences and talent. Most of what he says can be applied to animation studios doing entertainment as well.


Anonymous said...

Re documentary clearances for copyright, this is certainly a problem when you're looking for a TV airing. On Whitewash, I was put through the mill trying to get it all cleared. Some of the elements, I just took a chance on and haven't had feedback, but there were a couple of places that I was forced to rework some of my scenes after the film was completed.

It's not something animators usually have to deal with, but if you're planning anything adapted from real life, get those papers signed and documented.

Steve Schnier said...

RE: Clearances for copyright - This has become an issue in my Ebay Movie. Although these 'found' films are for the most part 70+ years old, I have to provide documentation for the films' "authors" and the people appearing on camera. It remains to be seen whether the E&O insurers will accept third party licenses. I've got the paper, will they buy it?