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Tuesday, July 29, 2014

"Jinxy Jenkins, Lucky Lou" - Bright and Bouncy

Jinxy Jenkins, Lucky Lou

Jinxy Jenkins, Lucky Lou from Jinxy Jenkins, Lucky Lou on Vimeo.

Michael Bidinger and Michelle Kwon, graduates of Ringling College of Art and Design, have been so kind as to release their award-winning short Jinxy Jenkins, Lucky Lou to the Internet.

This is high-quality animation that you don't want to miss!

The exceedingly unlucky Jenkins and the eternally lucky Lou run into each other one morning. It turns out that opposites really do attract, and the two experience a thrilling adventure that is new for both of them in terms of their usual degree of luckiness. Together, they roll down the hills of San Francisco in an ice cream cart.

"Jinxy Jenkins, Lucky Lou" was produced by Sarah Kambara. It has a bright and bouncy feel to it, a good vibe and some quite effective animation that is fairly simply but ideal for its visuals. Perfect choice of background music, too.

Give this one a whirl, it is worth your 3:52.

It has been honored at:

  • Trinity Animation Festival (Best Picture & Audience Choice Award)
  • Blue Plum Animation Festival (Critic’s Choice Award)
  • Hamburg Animation Festival (Hamburg Animation Award & Audience Choice Award).

The film has pages on Facebook (/jinxyjenkinsluckylou) and Tumblr (jinxylucky).

Jinxy Jenkins, Lucky Lou
Jinxy Jenkins, Lucky Lou 

From the page:
A film by Michael Bidinger and Michelle Kwon.
Production Management- Sarah Kambara
Run Time: 3:52
Sound Design- Nick Ainsworth
Vocals- Ed Skudder, Lynn Wang
Original Score- Mason Self
Produced At Ringling College of Art and Design
Copyright Michael Bidinger, Michelle Kwon 2014
Jinxy Jenkins, Lucky Lou

Saturn Animations From NASA

Saturn Aurora

Saturn Aurora

These cool NASA animations of Saturn show its spectacular light shows. These are converted from observation of the Hubble Space Telescope.

Saturn has a magnetic field much stronger than Earth’s. Auroras also have been observed elsewhere in the Solar System, such as on the surfaces of Venus, Mars and even on certain moons (e.g. Io, Europa, and Ganymede).

The Saturn light show is created in a couple of different possible ways. One is when solar wind particles are channeled into the planet’s magnetic field toward its poles, where they interact with electrically charged gas (plasma) in the upper atmosphere and emit light. It is sort of like static electricity from your carpet.

Auroras on Saturn can also be caused by electromagnetic waves generated when its moons move through the plasma that fills the planet’s magnetosphere. The main source is the small moon Enceladus, which ejects water vapor from the geysers on its south pole, a portion of which is ionized. The interaction between Saturn’s magnetosphere and the solar wind generates bright oval aurorae around the planet’s poles observed in visible, infrared and ultraviolet light. If you could see all those spectra with the naked eye, it would be quite spectacular.

The aurorae of Saturn are highly variable. Their location and brightness strongly depends on the Solar wind pressure: the aurorae become brighter and move closer to the poles when the Solar wind pressure increases.

Saturn is turning into a favorite spot in the Solar System for these kinds of animations because, well, it's scenic. Expect more of these animations.

For Weird Al Yankovic Fans

Weird Al Yankovic

This is a great tribute to the Master, Weird Al Yankovic. He chose studio TruScribe to animate his latest video music video for “Mission Statement” off his new album Mandatory Fun. They have reciprocatedby doing up all 14 ‘Weird Al’ Yankovic album covers as a whiteboard animation.

Just in case anyone thinks that Weird Al is past his prime or something like that, well, his current album sits at No. 1 on the Billboard album charts as I write this.

Here's the news blurb:
The long-haired comic musician's new album, "Mandatory Fun," debuted at No. 1 on the Billboard 200 chart of best-selling albums with 104,000 in sales, according to Nielsen SoundScan. It's Yankovic's first No. 1 of his more than 30-year career.

Congratulations, Weird Al!

Jack Black is in this one:

Monday, July 28, 2014

"Guardians of the Galaxy" Preview

Guardians of the Galaxy
The "Guardians of the Galaxy"

Here are a couple of clips of "Guardians of the Galaxy."

Disney/Marvel's "Guardians of the Galaxy," which blends live action and animation about as seamlessly as is possible, opens August 1, 2014 and is one of the last gasps of Hollywood to salvage what has been a terrible summer so far at the box office.

Well, they're off to a good start with the classic Blue Swede tune "Hooked on a Feeling," that's for sure. One of my personal faves from the '70s.

Disney/Marvel must be very optimistic about how well this film will do because they already have announced, at the San Diego Comic Con, that an animated series is coming. They screened a 60-second clip twice, then put it back in the vault. No other details, no air date, no voice actors revealed - nothing. Here is a description of the clip, which eventually... someday... will make its way online:
"The short, 60-second world premiere opens with rain falling on a futuristic cityscape, boasting a lot of neon lights and coloring. Rocket Raccoon is running, being pursued by a hostile, laser-firing robot probe. Rocket plunges off a very tall building… lands, spins and powers up his trademark guns and blasts away until the probe is destroyed. A voice calls out: "Hey fuzzy!" It's Star-Lord. Rocket spins around. Star-Lord quips, "If we're going to be hanging out together you're going to need bigger blasters." The scene was then replaced by the "Guardians of the Galaxy" logo." 
They did say that the cosmic superhero team will appear in all three of Marvel’s current animated shows: "Ultimate Spider-Man: Web Warriors," "Avengers Assemble" and "Hulk and the Agents of S.M.A.S.H.," with the latter two getting official season two renewals.

Here is the youtube summary for the "Guardians of the Galaxy" extended preview clip:

Release Date: August 1, 2014 (3D/2D theaters and IMAX 3D)
Studio: Walt Disney Pictures
Director: James Gunn
Screenwriter: James Gunn
Starring: Chris Pratt, Zoe Saldana, Dave Bautista, Vin Diesel, Bradley Cooper, Lee Pace, Michael Rooker, Karen Gillan, Djimon Hounsou, John C. Reilly, Glenn Close, Benicio del Toro
Genre: Action, Adventure
MPAA Rating: PG-13 (for intense sequences of sci-fi violence and action, and for some language)

Official Websites:,,

Plot Summary from the studio:
From Marvel, the studio that brought you the global blockbuster franchises of "Iron Man," "Thor," "Captain America" and "The Avengers," comes a new team—the Guardians of the Galaxy. An action-packed, epic space adventure, Marvel's "Guardians of the Galaxy" expands the Marvel Cinematic Universe into the cosmos, where brash adventurer Peter Quill finds himself the object of an unrelenting bounty hunt after stealing a mysterious orb coveted by Ronan, a powerful villain with ambitions that threaten the entire universe. To evade the ever-persistent Ronan, Quill is forced into an uneasy truce with a quartet of disparate misfits—Rocket, a gun-toting raccoon, Groot, a tree-like humanoid, the deadly and enigmatic Gamora and the revenge-driven Drax the Destroyer. But when Quill discovers the true power of the orb and the menace it poses to the cosmos, he must do his best to rally his ragtag rivals for a last, desperate stand—with the galaxy's fate in the balance.

Uga chucka uga uga uga chucka!

I know what you want now.


You're welcome.

Friday, July 25, 2014

The 2014 California Drought in Animation

California Drought 2014
The California drought

The California drought of 2014 has been extraordinary.

The chart above shows the drought in California since 2000.

Surveys show that people in California have become desperate about the water situation.

The State is taking tiny steps. Governor Jerry Brown signed a bill, for instance, preventing homeowners' associations from enforcing lawn-watering requirement during a drought emergency. However, Californians don't seem to care, actually increasing their water use by 1% in May 2014 over the previous May.

NASA has evidence that the water situation in the West is actually very bad. Water levels are way down, and more and more people move there.

The animation below shows the progression of the California drought from the beginning of 2014 through mid-July, 2014. It was created using U.S. Drought Monitor maps. It shows that the drought area is not, as you might think, in the desert regions, but along the coastal strip including and between Los Angeles and San Francisco.

California Drought 2014

Costa Concordia Animation - Heading to Genoa

Costa Concordia
Costa Concordia being towed by two tugs

This animation shows the efforts of the salvage team to bring the Costa Concordia from the Greek islands around  Italy to Genoa. There is no narration, it simply shows the technique they are using to transport this massive load by barge. It is a quick video, 50 seconds, and worth a peek if you are interested in the tragedy.

This is a "drone video" that gives several different interesting perspectives on the operation.

Thursday, July 24, 2014

A Peek at Some Faces Behind Your Favorite Animation

Disney/Pixar logo

Our goal here at Animated Film Reviews is to give animation fans just a teeny smidgen of insight into the animation they love. We do this by providing industry news, film reviews and as much context as we can squeeze in. Animation is an industry, like doctors and lawyers and plumbers and such, so it's impossible and unnecessary to try to give a complete view of the field. However, a little context goes a long way and helps some of us to enjoy the animation we see a bit more than we would otherwise.

With that in mind, and as a one-time thing, we're going to give an extremely quick peek under the hood and let you see a few animators who create the animation you see in the theater and on home video. These folks all have worked at Pixar, though they all apparently have moved on to new employment. You'll almost never hear of these folks otherwise unless you stick around for the five minutes of credits after some future animated film and squint really, really hard.

We're cool with anyone who works on animated films and wish them nothing but the best. And besides, without these guys and many, many more like them, we'd here at Animated Film Reviews would have nothing to do all day! Keeps us off the street.

All right, on with the show.

Daisuke 'Dice' Tsutsumi

Dice Tsutsumi
Dice Tsutsumi

Dice Tstutsumi has been an animator for a number of years. He began in the Art Department at Blue Sky Studios (pretty sure of that, if that's wrong, apologies), where he worked, among other things, as a matte (background) painter on smash hit "Ice Age."

After that, he gravitated over to Pixar, where he was an Art Director on their smash hit "Toy Story 3." While there, he directed a couple of shorts, "Sketchtravel" and "The Dam Keeper," which he created outside of Pixar.

Dice obviously is extremely talented. A native of Tokyo, he just so happens to be the son-in-law of Hayao Miyazaki.

Yes, that Hayao Miyazaki.

Anyway, Dice recently sent around a notice to friends and followers that he was leaving Pixar, no doubt to go to another top outfit. It's worth posting just to give you a tiny slice of a top animator's life. We wish Dice the best of luck.

Subject : I'd like to thank you all----Today is my last day
Time : July 11th 2014

When I graduated from high school in Tokyo, I left my country behind to start new life in the U.S.

I had no idea what I got myself into at the time especially since I spoke no English and didn't even know what I wanted to study. (I knew nothing about art!)

People often ask me if I like America better as I ended up staying here the next 20 years.

I look back now and I realize it was not a matter of preference between Japan and US.

What mattered the most was the "change" I made in my life. It taught me so much about what it means to live in the fast changing, diverse international society today.

Interestingly, my love for Japan actually grew more after I left Japan because I can see the beauty of my culture from outside. I proudly carry my Japanese heritage to this day while I adapted the culture in the United States.

I am certain that is what it's going to happen after I leave Pixar, the most creative environment on earth that I will miss so dearly.

One thing I learned from you guys at Pixar is that I shall not be afraid of taking risks. I'll live and work like a Pixarian even after I leave the gate behind today.

Hope this isn't a break up. I rather see it as a child leaving for college to learn from his own failures in the outside world. I see Pixar as my parents and I hope to use everything I learned here to survive out there.

My dream is that I come back to work with you again someday and apply whatever I learn from this dark, scary and dangerous jungle of "unknown."

Until then....

with sincere gratitude

Dice Tsutsumi

Robert Kondo

Robert Kondo
Robert Kondo

Robert Kondo has been at Pixar at least since "Ratatouille," on which he served as an art director. He recently worked with Dice on "The Dam Keeper" short, and was an art director on last year's "Monsters University."

Robert recently left Pixar for parts unknown. He tweeted this out with Instagram:

Robert Kondo
The picture is of the Pixar Gates

Kondo and Tsutsumi have announced that they have started their own creative house, Tonko House. In the animation industry, you never know what will happen, so they may wind up back at a big studio, or Tonko House could become a huge hit. We wish the boys the best of luck with their project.

Saschka Unseld

Saschka Unseld
Saschka Unseld

Saschka Unseld started out in Germany, where he co-directed the short "Strasse der Spezialisten" for Studio Soi. He found his way to the States at some point worked on, among other projects, "Toy Story 3," "Cars 2," "Brave" and "Toy Story of Terror" as a Pixar layout artist.

That's a pretty impressive list of films right there.

Saschka recently posted a bunch of photos and stuff on Instagram showing him departing Pixar. Incidentally, he can speak for himself, he lists his own biography on Instagram as:
Saschka Unseld: Director and writer of things, including Pixar's The Blue Umbrella, I tweet @saschkaunseld 
Anyway, apparently after leaving, Saschka had to go back to the office for something, so he posted this:

Saschka Unseld photo
He now needs a "host" to enter the premises

That's how it goes in the big city, riding high in April, having to be someone's guest in the place you used to be a big shot in July. Just about anyone who's had a job at a big firm knows how that goes.

We wish Saschka the best of luck as well.

Teddy Newton

Teddy Newton
Teddy Newton

Teddy Newton was at Pixar for a long time. His credits there go back at least as far as working as a voice actor on "The Incredibles." Before that, he did character design on "The Iron Giant" while apparently at Warner Bros. Animation. Since Brad Bird was behind both of those films, we're guessing they came over to Pixar together or one at the suggestion of the other. That's only a guess, but that's how transfers often work - one guy goes over, then puts in a good word for another.

At Pixar, Teddy's worked on "Cars," "Ratatouille," "WALL-E," "Up," "Toy Story 3" - these are some of the biggest animated films of all time, and he did voice work on all of them! Man, that's plain awesome.

Anyway, Teddy apparently has left Pixar as well fairly recently. His friend posted this picture of him with a bunch of big shots (trust me, these folks are not scrubbing toilets, they are bosses):
Teddy Newton and friends

Anyway, so it appears that Teddy Newton now is at Paramount. Looks like they're all having fun as well, which is awesome. We're sure we'll be seeing and hearing his work in the years to come.

Anyway, that completes our quick peek under the hood of the animation that you see and love. Best of luck to everyone.