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Monday, September 15, 2014

Rosetta/Philae Lander Animation

Philae Rosetta
Philae, the Rosetta lander

This is a news report which includes some animation. That is a key area of growth for animation these days, and it is not the easiest thing to do. That also is a developing trend in animated feature films as well, though fully animated films remain the dominant type. Animations really need to be informative when included in news shows or they are just annoying and a turn-off. This is a pretty good attempt, though not the best on the subject. ESA can come up with some really slick animations with catchy background music, and compared to their previous efforts, this attempt is kind of weak.

Rosetta blasted off from Earth more than 10 years ago, and many folks even in the space community completely lost track of it. The European Space Agency (the ESA) kept a low profile for most of those years regarding Rosetta, and, truth be told, there wasn't much of interest to say about it other than it was, well, on course and moving towards is objective.

The ESA Rosetta was launched on 2 March 2004 on an Ariane 5 rocket and did various things of minor interest after that, such as a flyby of Mars and of some asteroids. Not to diminish what it has done - but by now, flybys of Mars are old hat. The most significant thing it has done is reach its objective, a comet, on 6 August 201

The comet is 67P/Churyumov–Gerasimenko. Rosetta now is in orbit only 30 km (19 mi) above the comet's surface. The ESA examined several potential landing sites for the lander, Philae, and finally announced its choice on 15 September 2014. The planned landing date is 11 November.

It's a pretty big deal. There are only a handful of celestial objects upon which Earth probes have made soft landings, such as the Moon, Mars, and... The ESA will land accomplish its mission with the billion Euro Rosetta probe by dropping its 100kg robotic lander, Philae, onto the surface of comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko on or about 11 November. The published goal is to learn about the origins of the earth, though that seems a bit fanciful. Better to just focus on learning about the origins of 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko and see where that might lead in future expeditions.

You can't compare this to a Moon or Mars landing because of the lack of significant gravity. However, it is still pretty cool, and you never know what you might learn from a rock that has been there since the beginning of the Solar System.

Sunday, September 14, 2014

Preview of "The Seven Deadly Sins" Anime

The Seven Deadly Sins

"The Seven Deadly Sins" is an upcoming anime based upon the manga by Nakaba Suzuki. Here is a 30-second preview of the Mamoru Miyano-voiced Holy Knight Gilthunder and the rest of the series from the makers of the show, A-1 Pictures. The theme is Ikimono-gakari's "Netsujō no Spectrum."

Tensai Okamura (Darker than Black, Blue Exorcist) will be directing the fall A-1 Pictures (Blue Exorcist, Magi, Sword Art Online) production, with Shotaro Suga (Darker than Black, Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex) on series composition.

This will air on Crunchyroll, the website that beams over anime productions. The television anime will premiere on October 5, 2014.

Here is a general plot. It involves a wronged princess and warriors who decide to avenge an injustice against her. Naturally, they are just plain folks who actually have hidden abilities that outclass anything anyone else has. No, we've never seen anything like this before.
"When they were accused of trying to overthrow the monarchy, the feared warriors the Seven Deadly Sins were sent into exile. Princess Elizabeth discovers the truth - the Sins were framed by the king's guard, the Holy Knights - too late to prevent them from assassinating her father and seizing the throne! 
Now the princess is on the run, seeking the Sins to help her reclaim the kingdom. But the first Sin she meets, Meliodas, is a little innkeeper with a talking pig. He doesn't even have a real sword! Have the legends of the Sins' strength been exaggerated?"
Suzuki launched the manga in Weekly Shōnen Magazine in 2012, and Kodansha Comics published the fourth English volume earlier this month. Crunchyroll will be posting the new chapters as they appear in Japan.

Flashback: Walt Disney at Disneyland

A Legend and his Fans

Walt Disney Disneyland
Walt Disney greets his fans

Walt Disney at Disneyland, probably not long after it opened. Note all the folks in the distance, watching, with some starting to come over. Now that's personal magnetism.

Could you imagine being in the park in the 1950s and suddenly realizing that Walt Disney himself was just, like, there, a hundred feet away, signing autographs for whatever fans happened to be walking by?

At this point, he would have recently released "Cinderella," "Alice in Wonderland," and "Peter Pan." Plus, he would have just opened this game-changer park which likely still confused everybody about its purpose, it being the first theme park ever built. And that's not to even bring up the films he was winning handfuls of Oscars for every year, his classic shorts of the period.

And yet there he is, dressed immaculately and thus showing respect for his fans (imagine that from some Hollywood idiot today), riding in a little cart, stopping to sign autographs for anonymous fans for the sheer heck of it while there had to be all sorts of issues for him to think about - such as working on the upcoming "Sleeping Beauty." Walt Disney World in Florida wasn't even on the horizon yet.

Now that's a legend.

Walt Disney Disneyland

Homage to "The Flintstones"

The Flintstones

"The Flintstones" premiered on Friday, Sept. 30, 1960 in prime-time on ABC. Curiously, the initial advertising featured Barney Rubble and Dino, the latter of whom appeared only intermittently in the series (though a regular in the intro). Perhaps it was because Barney was voiced by Mel Blanc, who was pretty well known even in those days.

The Flintstones

Alan Reed and Jean Vander were the original voices of Fred and Wilma Flintstone. Both were virtually unknown then - and, to be truthful, afterwards as well. Reed played perhaps the worst extortionist of all time in the original "The Postman Always Rings Twice" in 1946, and after that he didn't get anything else that was high profile. He personally invented the "Yabba Dabba Do!" catchphrase, it was not something someone else put in a script or suggested to him. That was something a good voice guy would do in those days, and he was working with the best: Mel Blanc. Absolutely nobody went around saying, "Wow, what a great voice actor that Alan Reed is as Fred Flintstone," but he was terrific.

The Flintstones
The four immortal voices: Alan Reed, Jean Vander, Bea Benaderet, and Mel Blanc. I love how casual this was, right down to them leaving the note on the wall as to where Wilma should stand, and Mel dressed like a proper gentlemen - apparently, his normal, everyday street garb, like the others. And "Wilma" has no mouth, I'm sure they all got a huge kick out of that. The only one who looked at all like their character was Bea, though Alan did bear a passing resemblance to Fred.

Instead, you would occasionally hear someone say, "Yeah, the guy who is Fred used to do some acting" and then, even if they mentioned his name, you would immediately forget it. They also might mention while discussing some other role that Blanc voiced Barney, but that was never the point of mentioning him. That is how it was. I never once heard or remembered the name of the actress who voiced Wilma or the name of the guy who voiced Barney (in that context), and wouldn't know the names today without looking them up, but you know what? They were the most famous actors in the whole production. Betty was voiced by the wonderful Bea Benaderet, and Barney was the immortal talent, towering giant among voice men... Mel Blanc.

The Flintstones
Alan and Jean

The Flintstones was sponsored by a cigarette company during the show's first two seasons, which was extremely common in those days. The show was intended for adults, not kids, so few complained about the commercials that depicted the stone-age characters puffing away on Winstons. Times were different, the commercials made them look like they were getting high, but nobody noticed that, either.

The Flintstones
Enjoying a smoking break during the show's first two years

The Flintstones first telecast was on September 30, 1960, and the last Telecast was on April 1, 1966. However, that was not the end of The Flintstones, not by a long shot.

The Flintstones

Flintstones vitamins were the vitamins of choice for kids in the '60s through the '80s. If you were going to take vitamins, at least they could be Flintstones vitamins. In fact, "Flintstones vitamins" became practically a synonym for kids' vitamins, like "Xerox" became the verb for copying paperwork or "Kleenex" became the noun for paper hankies. They are still very much around today. "Make sure they have their Flintstones!"

The Flintstones

The Flintstones featured Fred, Wilma, Barney and Betty. The babies, Pebbles and Bamm-Bamm, weren’t introduced until 1963 — Pebbles early in the year, Bamm-Bamm later on because Pebbles needed a friend to interact with. Pebbles made the Social Security Administration’s baby name list that year, and it continued afterwards, too:

1967: 13 baby girls named Pebbles
1966: 6 baby girls named Pebbles
1965: 14 baby girls named Pebbles
1964: 31 baby girls named Pebbles
1963: 31 baby girls named Pebbles [debut]
1962: unlisted

And, incredibly, Pebbles has remained on the list every year since.

The Flintstones

There was renewed interest in the Pebbles name during the early/mid 1970s (Pebbles cereals were introduced in 1971) and the late 1980s/early 1990s (singer Perri “Pebbles” Reid had a few hit singles during this period).

Bamm-Bamm has never made the list, but Bam has popped up recently thanks to the influence of Jackass star Brandon “Bam” Margera. Bamm-Bamm's catchphrase, of course, was "Bamm-Bamm" as he pounded his club. It was never explained why a baby would have a club.

If they ever did a survey on how many dogs were named "Pebbles" or "Bamm-Bamm," I guarantee that the numbers would shoot through the roof.

The Flintstones

"The Flintstones," as noted, originally were intended for adult audiences wanting to see their dull lives in post-war suburbia lampooned. However, in syndication the emphasis turned 180 degrees to children. By the '70s, "The Flintstones" were on saturday morning cartoons along with lots of now-forgotten shows.

Pictured on the below cover: "The Barkleys" ("All in the Family" with dogs), "Sabrina," "The Flintstones," "Pufenstuf," "Pink Panther," "Jackson 5," "Mission: Magic" (featuring Rick Springfield and a witchy teacher).

The Flintstones

The Flintstones has been on and off the air since. For instance, Alan Reed voiced the character in "The Pebbles and Bamm-Bamm Show" in the early '70s and also in other revivals that decade. Reed passed away after an extended illness in 1977 while voicing Fred one last time for "Fred Flintstone and Friends." He was replaced by Henry Corden. While that series soon ended, Corden became "the" voice of Fred and was in numerous Flintstones projects in the '80s and '90s.

The Flintstones

"The Flintstones" currently is in the process of being revived by Family Guy creator Seth MacFarlane. MacFarlane will oversee a new version of the prehistoric animated cartoon, which originally ran from 1960 to 1966, for US network Fox

The Flintstones Kool-Aid packet, 1986.

The Flintstones

A Flintstones Viewmaster screenshot.

The Flintstones

Flintstones ad in the papers during the '60s for the show "in color." The print advertisements still featured the Rubbles for some reason.

The Flintstones

Once Gazoo showed up, it was all over. He was one of the most pointless and annoying characters ever brought in to ruin a show.

The Flintstones

One last look at Alan and Jean, quite possibly the most unknown but most-revered actors of all time. It's difficult to pull that off, I bet Alan and Jean could walk through any major town in the world and nobody would look twice at them - until, perhaps, they said something.

The Flintstones

The Christmas episode:

The Flintstones


Saturday, September 13, 2014

"Space Cat Hob" Fun little Short

Space Cat Hob
Space Cat Hob

Space cat Hob from liok on Vimeo.

"Space Cat Hob" is a short film by French director Loïc Bramoullé featuring a weird-looking cat who is stranded on an alien planet and winds up having to fight off all sorts of aliens. The planet looks cool - but everything is hostile, whether intentionally or not. So all that keeps the cat going is his spacesuit, which is kind of a mini-robot kind of deal and actually a pretty good concept.

I'm not so sure I like how the cat looks, but the spacesuit rocks! I'm not sure if the little wings are part of the cat or the suit, but they're a good idea, too.

He's a curious little cat, chasing after a bumblebee kind of deal and, well, you know what they say about cats and curiosity. Pretty soon, they're chasing him and he finds all sorts of rusty old machinery and, well, it's a really weird planet that he crashed on.

It's kind of a cross between animation and video games, which means great animation in that pseudo realistic style where nothing is actually realistic at all.

Space Cat Hob

The cat is cute - don't get me wrong - but it seems a little weird in the suit. Maybe it is because he is a fat cat. He's certainly no kitten. And it is fighting some kind of alien bees which look like a cross between "Alien" and chickens. And there are lots of mushrooms - I think you get the idea.

Anyway, I know that doesn't sound like the best recommendation in the world, but it's colorful and fun and, best of all, original. And it has a cat. So it's got that going for it. Any time someone goes out of their way to create something watchable on their own dime, well, good for them. I think if you start watching it, you won't want to stop, and that's a pretty good recommendation.

Space Cat Hob

The killer bees attack!

From the page:

Space cat Hob is an independant project done without money, on our spare time and over a course of two years.
more info & artworks :
direction: Loïc bramoullé
music: Pyramid
Sound Design: Olivier Michelot
production: Delapost Paris
A huge thank to everyone who believed in the project and gave time and energy on it:
Martial Le Minoux, Hugo Cierzniak, Axel Digoix, Foehn Gallet, Aline Hanael, Adrien Kédochim, Paul Lavau, Quentin Rétif, Geoffrey Lerus, Larson liberlin, Zhen Li, Florent Penisson, Alexandre Wolfromm, David Atexide, Laurent Mercereau, Lisa Hulot, Samir Necib, Doris Bachelier, Mathieu Krysztoforski, thomas Arsene, Maxime Granger, André Delphin, Vincent Mineli, Alexis Beaudoin, François-Maxence Desplanque, Mathieu Gouget de Landres, Cedric Lenepveu, Louis Manjares, Fabian Nowak, Alexis Bechet, Aurélie Deconinck, Vivien Ebran, Marielle Santens, Rosita Soares, Tony Lacroix, Romain Leclerc, François Debonnet.

"The Hero of Color City" Trailer

Hero of Color City

"The Hero of Color City" opens October 3rd 2014 direct from Magnolia Pictures.

The film is directed by Frank Gladstone and features vocals by Christina Ricci, Wayne Brady, Rosie Perez, Craig Ferguson, Owen Wilson and Sean Astin. And, Jess Harnell, David Kaye, and Tara Strong. Owen Wilson plays Ricky The Dragon.

This is aimed pre-schoolers and being released to Video on Demand services the same day, so please don't smirk and say "what a travesty" or whatnot. It is for little kids, not you. But it may be fun to watch for the younger set - heck, I watched a lot worse when I was a kid - and maybe you know someone who would enjoy it.

Hero of Color City

From the youtube page:

The official trailer for The Hero of Color City starring Christina Ricci, Rosie Perez, Wayne Brady, and Craig Ferguson. Available in theatres, On Demand, and on iTunes 10/3.

Each night, when Ben falls asleep, his Crayons' magical Crayon Box transports them to COLOR CITY, a world of dazzling hues, soaring fantasy and the whimsy of childhood. When YELLOW is accidentally left behind in Ben's room, she awakens two Unfinished Drawings: KING SCRAWL, a huge monster, and GNAT, Scrawl's sidekick. They follow Yellow to Color City and claim the enchanted Rainbow Waterfall and all of its color for themselves. Soon Color City will fade and our lovable crayon characters will disappear. It's up to Yellow and her pals, BLUE, GREEN, RED, and the twins, BLACK and WHITE, to save the day. Meeting with fantastical creatures and fun adventures along the way, Yellow discovers she has more courage than she knew and learns to believe in herself and to count on the support of her friends. Replete with valuable life lessons, THE HERO OF COLOR CITY will entertain and inspire.

Hero of Color City

If you really like this, here is a Public Service Announcement from the gang.

"History of Stop Motion Animation" Video

The Pirates! Band of Misfits
The Pirates! Band of Misfits

This is a pretty good animation of the most famous animation films in history. Some of them you are sure not to associate with animation, but sure enough, they have animation in them, such as "King Kong" from the 1930s.

It isn't complete or anything, but worth a look if you are trying to think of something to watch. It must be someone's "Top Twelve" list or something like that. All of the films are really good!

The Pirates! Band of Misfits

King Kong (1933)
Jason and the Argonauts (1963)
Morph 'Tea and Biscuits' (1977)
Michael Jackson's Moonwalker (1988)
Nightmare Before Christmas (1993)
Wallac and Gromit 'The Wrong Trousers' (1993)
James and the Giant Peach (1996)
Fantastic Mr. Fox (2009)
Paranorman (2012)
The Pirates! Band of Misfits (2012)
Frankenweenie (2012)
The Boxtrolls (2014)

That spider from James and the Giant Peach always gives me the creeps! And anyway, you can't have a 'History of stop motion animation' without, you know, Gumby. Or "Sledgehammer." Or, like, any anime at all. But this is a nice attempt and introduction to the category, with lots of nice clips, and anyone who remembers Ray Harryhausen's "Jason and the Argonauts" is ok in my book.