Thursday, June 26, 2014

New "Big Hero 6" Artwork

Big Hero Six
Disney's upcoming "Big Hero Six" is one of the most anticipated animated feature films of 2014, but as usual, the studio is just dribbling the information out about it here and there.

At the recent 2014 Annecy International Animation Film Festival, though, there were numerous hints dropped about all sorts of projects that are on the drawing board. Some of those hints concerned "Big Hero Six."

The six main characters in the film are Hiro, Baymax, Honey Lemon, Go Go Tomago, Wasabi, and Fred. It just so happens that Disney had some very complete artwork of them and their home town, Sanfransokyo. Here are the pictures.

Big Hero Six

Big Hero Six

Big Hero Six

"Big Hero 6" is based on the Marvel Comics by Steven T. Seagle and Duncan Rouleau. It is directed by Don Hall and Chris Williams and written by Don Hall and Jordan Roberts. It is scheduled to appear in theaters on November 7, 2014.


Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Luis Suarez Bites Again!

Luis Suarez
Luis Suarez training for the World Cup.

Luis Suarez Bites Again! As World Cup mania continues, some of the odd personalities in the sport are asserting themselves once again. One guy on the Uruguay team is a biter. Meaning, he literally bites the other players at key moments. It's an odd situation but accepted within the sport as, well, just Luis Suarez being Luis Suarez. (At this point you shrug, put your hands in the air and roll your eyes.)

This video is loaded with howlers, accompanied by the sound of howling dogs and the theme from "Jaws." "Rumor has it that Suarez put in some serious jaw training in anticipation of this year's World Cup." "Suarez is a serial biter with some of the biggest chompers in the game." And so on.

In one scene, well-known player Neymar kicks a ball into Suarez's groin after placing the type of collar onto Suarez that's customarily used to prevent neutered dogs from interfering with their stitches.

So, Luis Suarez bit an Italian football player during his team's victory and likely will receive a slap on the wrist because he's one of the best strikers (supposedly, or at least in Uruguay) in the game. What made it all the more painful for the Italians is that the referees didn't see it, and moments later Uruguay scored the winning goal, sending Italy home. Many Uruguayans, meanwhile, are incensed that anyone would attack their idol, claiming this is blatantly unfair and that the Italian player's shoulder basically jumped into Suarez's mouth.

That's how they kick - or bite - the ball these days.

Luis Suarez
Luis Suarez finds a new victim
Okay, the first video is the one that Captures are from. The others are amusing, too.


The Tour De France Explained

Tour de France

The Tour De France Explained. This is an extensive explanation of the Tour De France. It discusses the history, the format, and basic team strategy. Unless you are a real expert, there likely is much here that will be new to you.

For example, do you know what "cracking" is? Do you know all of the different types of jerseys that are assigned to riders? How about why the leader's jersey is yellow and not some other color? The video even gets into the medical aspects of the race upon individual riders.

The Tour De France originated in 1903 when a cycling journalist suggested a race to his editor, Henri Desgrange. Desgrange went on to create and oversee the race, which has changed a great deal over the years. At first, anyone at all could complete, but later the race was restricted to professionals.

The race has been held annually except for during the two World Wars. The teams are all pro teams except for amateur teams specially invited. There are time trials, flat stages, and mountain stages. Each Tour covers some 3000 km in 23 days (21 stages, two rest days), and there are 21 teams of 9 riders each. Each stage lasts 4-6 hours.

There is a lot of fascinating information here, pretty much any bicycling fan can pick something up from this. Even if you know it all, it is a good review. And it is all presented in a realistic fashion provides real-world observations along with formal rules.

Tour de France

Everyone who is going to watch the Tour De France on tv should watch this video at least once.


What Gives A Dollar Bill Its Value?

what determines value dollar bill

Animation on what Gives A Dollar Bill Its Value. This is a change of pace for TED-Ed, which usually addresses heavy science topics. Looking at the value of money, Doug Levinson and animator Qa-ed Mai go through what gives a dollar bill its value.

This involves the Federal Reserve, inflation, and how many dollar bills are in circulation. The US dollar was backed by gold until 1971 when President Nixon let the currency become "fiat money." Contrary to what many experts expected, this did not have a calamitous effect on the value of the dollar.

However, to this day there are people who believe that a currency that has no metal backing - in other words, some measurable value into which it can be converted - is prone to hyperinflation and losing its value completely. That is because without any kind of real-world restraints on money creation, the temptation to create if faster and faster is overwhelming in order to solve problems. While inflation has been a problem at times, recently it has been subdued.

As a general matter, if the total value of the currency in circulation increases faster than the total value of goods and services in the economy, then you experience inflation. The opposite effect is deflation. There are ancillary effects of inflation or deflation that are painful to many people, so too much of either is bad for the economy and many citizens. A little inflation is considered good for the economy because it stimulates growth, sort of like putting a carrot in front of a horse pulling your carriage.

"What Gives a Dollar Bill its Value" is an interesting if somewhat basic economics lesson which should help just about anyone understands the money supply and its effect on the economy.


Animation of 2013 San Francisco Plane Crash

NTSB animation of San Francisco plane crash

Asiana Flight 214 plane crash animation. The plane crashed early in July 2013, in San Francisco. Pilot error is assumed to be the culprit. This animation goes through all of the relevant decisions that were made in the plane's cockpit as it approached the runway.

Three people died and 182 were injured when the plane crashed on the runway. It broke a string of four years in the US without a commercial plane crash.

The plane was a Boeing 777. After careful analysis, the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) concluded that the cause of the crash was indeed a pilot error, though it technically does not assign blame. There were many contributing factors to the crash, including an automated throttle system that the pilots mishandled. The instrument landing system was not working that day.

The plane landed just short of the runway.


Tuesday, June 24, 2014

"Good Morning" about Sisters on a Monday

Good Morning
Good Morning.

Good Morning from Anna O'Brian on Vimeo.

"Good Morning," an animation about Sisters on a Monday. Anna O'Brian produces this charming animation of sisters having a hard time on a Monday morning. The animation has a nice style and a bright, bouncy fell that is nicely amplified with the musical background, "Dainty Miss" by Harry Breuer and His Quintet.

This is just proof that good animation doesn't have to be about big, sweeping themes, but works just as well with normal family interactions.


"Cuphead" Excites with Traditional Animation

Cuphead Microsoft

"Cuphead" is a game from Microsoft. We don't really review many video games on here because it is pretty much a different world of animation, but we make an exception for games with a completely original look that hearkens back to traditional animation.

Cuphead Microsoft

Studio MDHR is bringing back traditional 1930s- style animation for the game, which gives it a unique look. However, it is not the creaky black and white animation that you have seen before from those times, but full-color stylized animation that gives traditional animation a fresh and vibrant look.

Cuphead Microsoft

They are giving this the whole retro works, with each frame individually inked and a live jazz band performing the music. It must have taken a lot of work to put this together, but as the trailer above shows, it is worth it for those who want a slightly different feel besides all the generic video games out there.

Cuphead Microsoft

Cuphead isn't some sleepy little game, though, It is a run and gun game with boss battles. One player is Cuphead, while another is Mugman. They will have access to the usual arsenal of weapons and so forth. It uses the Unity framework.

Cuphead is coming for XboxOne and Steam in 2015. There is a slight possibility that it may find its way to the Sega Master System, too.


Puss in Boots: Litterbox Training Fail

Puss in Boots
Puss in Boots

Puss in Boots: Litterbox Training Fail. Just a follow-up to an earlier post. DreamWorksTV is definitely in business and posting away. This is another Puss in Boots animation that they posted. If you're a Puss fan or simply like animation, and you are familiar with animation, well, head on over there and subscribe!

I know there are a lot of Puss in Boots fans out there. He's one of the most popular figures on this blog.

Man, they should pay me for flogging their product LOL. But it really is a fun channel if you find the DreamWorks style to your liking.


Monday, June 23, 2014

Future Batmen? Animation Domination Has Some Suggestions!

Adam Sandler as Batman.

With Ben Affleck having been chosen to be the next Batman to almost universal surprise, Animation Domination has a few ideas for future Batmen.

So, among their suggestions are Adam Sandler, Kevin Spacey, Matthew McConaughey, and others.

Some of the impersonations are better than others, but you may find this amusing.

My own hope: Mr. T! He would make an awesome Batman.

Ben Affleck Batman


"Pickle & Peanut," a New Disney TV Comedy, On the Way

"Pickle & Peanut."
The animation field is continuing its eternal popularity on the small screen. Buddy comedy "Pickle & Peanut" is being developed by Disney Animation for Disney XD. It will star Jon Heder and Johnny Pemberton. It is about an "unlikely" friendship between a prickly pickle and a free-spirited peanut.

"Pickle and Peanut" is scheduled for a fall 2015 launch. It will include 2D animation and live-action clips to tell the tale of the two vegetables - peanuts are vegetables, right? - who apparently are kind of like Pinky and the Brain, always scheming about something or other (though maybe not about taking over the world).

Noah Z. Jones ("Fish Hooks") and Joel Trussell ("Yo Gabba Gabba") are the brains behind the upcoming series. Mark Rivers of "Jimmy Kimmel Live!" is also involved as a story editor.


Sunday, June 22, 2014

US Victory Over Ghana in the World Cup, Taiwanese Animators Style

US Ghana 2014 World Cup
Taiwanese animators take on the US triumph over Ghana

Animation of the US Victory Over Ghana in the World Cup.

First, a little background: the United States eeked out a victory over mighty Ghana, 2-1, in the first round of the 2014 World Cup. This was accomplished with a late goal by substitute John Brooks.

Seeing as how Ghana knocked the US out of the previous two World Cups, this victory was quite an achievement. Ghana is not considered a huge football powerhouse internationally, but you take whatever victories you can get. World Cup football is the most popular sporting event in the world, take it or leave it.

Well, Taiwanese Animators decided to provide their take on this "great victory" and came up with this animation. Now, it is chock-full of stereotypes and disses of the American football team and snide asides about US culture in general (the "Game of Thrones" reference is hilarious, as is the Foosball one), but that's just their type of satire. It is as likely to tick you off as entertain you if you are one of those perpetual "USA! USA!" booster types, so bear that in mind.

In other words, YOU MAY BE OFFENDED. Just trying to keep you from aggravating yourself unnecessarily.

Anyway, it is in this viewer's opinion quite funny and does reflect how the rest of the world really views the US in this realm, one of the very few where the USA actually and perpetually sucks.

Incidentally, the odds of the US advancing to the next round in the 2014 World Cup after its victory over Ghana and a subsequent tie against Portugal rest with a win over Germany or a tie against it - and Germany is a football powerhouse, though it is looking shaky this year. If the US loses to Germany, then all sorts of tiebreakers kick in and nothing is assured.


First Look at "Asterix: The Land of the Gods"

Asterix: The Land of the Gods
Asterix: The Land of the Gods.
This has turned into an international night here, so let's continue with our review of some recent and upcoming international animation releases.

"Asterix: The Land of the Gods" (aka Astérix: Le Domaine des Dieux) is a French comic strip that a Franco-American team is making into an animated feature film. The actual name will be "Asterix: The Land of the Gods 3D."

This is an adaptation of book 17 (yes, this was a long-running series in France) of the Asterix comic book series, by René Goscinny (stories) and Albert Uderzo (illustrations). Book 17 actually was called "The Mansions of the Gods." The title referred to certain homes that Romans built (see synopsis below). Quite flattering for the Romans!

There is no trailer yet. However, there are some quick clips and behind the scenes video that gives a pretty good idea of what is coming, which is what we have provided here.

The quick synopsis - according to various sources, with no certainty that this is actually what the film itself will show - is that Julius Ceasar and his henchmen decide to conquer Gaul (modern France) once and for all by surrounding the main remaining Gaulish encampment with their own Roman town called "The Land of the Gods." This will deprive the Gauls of access to the forests that nurture them and force them to assimilate into Roman society. A bunch of Gauls with long and hard-to-pronounce names (see the list of voice actors below) and try to thwart the Roman threat.

The Asterix comic book series was, as almost all such works are, commentary on modern times and issues and not about Rome and Gaul beyond surface themes. There were all sorts of topical references relating to France in the 1970s. It's unclear how that will translate into this film. There is no actual resemblance to events during the time of Ceasar.

The voice actors are:
The film is directed by Alexandre Astier and Louis Clichy, distribution in France is by DSH.  It will be in English and French, and it officially is considered a joint production of both France and the United States (some folks think this is completely French when it is not). The animation and effects were produced by M6 Studios, Mikros Images, Grid Animation, and Dreamwall.

The release date in France is November 26, 2014. There does not seem to be a US distributor yet, but somebody likely will step up for this project, maybe even Disney. They project an American release early next year. We shall see, these things don't always happen as planned and, in fact, it may never be released in the United States.


Lisa Limone and Maroc Orange: A Rapid Love Story

Lisa Limone and Maroc Orange: A Rapid Love Story
Lisa Limone and Maroc Orange: A Rapid Love Story.

Lisa Limone and Maroc Orange: A Rapid Love Story. All right, this is a little different, but it's actually quite interesting and enjoyable stop-motion animation. Since one of the aims of this blog is to explore all the many different facets of modern animation, it's right up our alley here at Animated Film Reviews.

"Lisa Limone and Maroc Orange: A Rapid Love Story" is a stop motion opera. It is not in English - but really, what opera is? I think it's in Estonian - that's a language, right? There are subtitles in English so we can follow along.

This isn't the whole thing: it is a 4-minute 47-second trailer for a complete 72-minute 2013 3D stop-motion animated grand opera.

The story is that there is a star-crossed love affair between an anthropomorphized rich-girl lemon, Lisa Limone, and a poor refugee orange. Lisa Limone’s cruel father (a lemon with a comic-relief mustache) runs a slave-labor tomato plantation and ketchup factory. Maroc (orange boy) is the love interest, a boat refugee who likes to sing. Lisa likes to collect singing seashells at the seashore. They meet. They all in love. What did you expect in an opera?

This touches on topical issues such as the immigration of Africans into Europe. You can guess the political orientation from the description and the set-up, so factor that into whether you might like "Lisa Limone and Maroc Orange: A Rapid Love Story." Consider this the tangier version of the Immortal Bard's "Romeo and Juliet."

The animation really is quite good. Who knew that Estonia was an animation hotbed!

Starring are Iiris Vesik as Lisa Limone and Omar Nõmm as Maroc Orange. It is a production of Nukufilm. It is directed by Matt Laas.

No, I do not know where to get the whole thing. However, if you like the trailer, you might consider tracking down a copy.


"Simpsons" Parody of Kim Kardashian and Kanye West

Kanye West Kim Kardashian

"Simpsons" Parody of Kim Kardashian and Kanye West.

AleXsandro Palombo is an Italian artist who specializes in wacky projects that get him some attention. For instance, he recently was on a campaign for Disney to put some disabled and amputee princesses in its animated films.

Yes, that's what he thought the world needed now.

So, he moved on from that and decided to take on Kim Kardashian and Kanye West. Now, I have to be upfront here and say that I am completely immune to the tabloid paradise that is "Kimye." I've never seen one episode of any of the Kardashians' reality shows and don't plan on it. As for Kanye West, he had a song about five years ago that I kind of liked, and that was about it. They are great, successful people, bully for them, great to see people succeed in life, but I'm not in the target demographic.

I am just laying it out here so you know I'm no big follower of their comings and goings, but I also have nothing against them. That's not why I'm posting this.

This new project by Palombo was simply interesting and fun enough to post on its own merits on an animation site like this. As you can see, he styled Kim and Kanye after the Simpsons based on their own record. It's some damn good drawing. It's also kind of funny how Palombo brings out the essence of the public relations machine that is Kimye in these parodies. And there's nothing wrong with public relations! That's how things work in the real world, how you become known and make an impact in the world. I'm just saying these guys, Kim and Kanye, are masters at it, which is a compliment.

I don't think these parodies are disrespectful at all, but you are free to disagree. I mean, I suppose if you consider the two of them to be God-like creatures, then this is a minor insult, but aside from that, it is fine. The images are just plain wacky and odd and maybe a minor diss to the couple and their status as pure publicity hounds.

Anyway, they are here for you to enjoy if you wish, and I am glad to do my humble little part to further feed the Kimye publicity machine. If you're a Simpsons fan you may get an extra kick out of this, too, and if you are fans of both, well, that's your nirvana. As you may surmise from the Italian artist, this Kimye thing is a global phenomenon.

Kanye West Kim Kardashian

Kanye West Kim Kardashian

Kanye West Kim Kardashian

Kanye West Kim Kardashian

Kanye West Kim Kardashian

Kanye West Kim Kardashian

Kanye West Kim Kardashian

Kanye West Kim Kardashian

Kanye West Kim Kardashian

Kanye West Kim Kardashian

Kanye West Kim Kardashian


Breaking Bad Spoof "Mr. White"

Mr White Breaking Bad

If you are a fan of "Breaking Bad" and still mourning its passing, here's a spoof, "Mr. White." This is from Jonny Lang (animation) and Jason Burke (narration, affecting a kind of wack Sean Connery impression).

No, this is not a continuation of "Breaking Bad." It's very druggy, so if that disturbs you, don't watch. Let's be honest, this is stoner humor.

This is the story of Mr. White, a drug dealer in Drugland who seeks the help of Jesse Pinkman, who can apparently fly. There are all sorts of references to "Breaking Bad" which you have to enjoy for yourself, there's no explaining them.

The "Breaking Bad" people don't seem upset about this at all, so it's all in good fun. "Breaking Bad" stems from Roger Hargreaves and Vince Gilligan.

This is a production of eagerbeaverfilms on youtube.


Guardians of the Galaxy Animated Series Coming?

Guardians of the Galaxy

"Guardians of the Galaxy" from Disney/Marvel is one of the most anticipated films of the summer season. It comes out in mid-August to catch the last weeks of the summer vacation crowd. it has a mix of live-action and animated characters, and trailers show that it has a sense of humor, though it would be wrong to call it a comedy or anything like that.

There are all sorts of rumors that even before the film opens, Disney/Marvel (Disney owns Marvel now, of course) has an animated series planned. The picture above taken at a Licensing Expo may not be the most solid proof in the world, but it is a pretty good hint.

Note that the posterboard includes the current "Avengers Assemble" and "Ultimate Spider-Man" shows (it is high-quality art, but we expect that from this outfit). The Guardians look similar to their movie appearance. That was not the case when they guest-starred in the "Avengers Assemble" and "Ultimate Spider-Man" shows.

Everything is speculation. The thought is that this show (if it is, indeed, coming) will be directed at younger audiences. But that's what cartoons are traditionally for - right? Kids. So we'll see what happens and hope for the best.

Guardians of the Galaxy
The film coming this summer


Friday, June 20, 2014

How HIV Infects You

An HIV Virion - this is what ultimately produces the conditions to kill you

Animation on How HIV Infects You.

This is a really cool video. Unfortunately, it assumes that you know a lot of medical terms and jargon, so it may be a little difficult for most folks to readily understand. But it is understandable, and, for what it addresses, amazingly concise.

To summarize it, the video shows that HIV is really crafty. It is disguised as a normal, healthy cell, but contains within its camouflaged outer protein cell some really nasty RNA (and reverse transcriptase, which converts RNA into DNA when the time comes, and some other stuff necessary to complete the job). This RNA is bad stuff because it is determined to reproduce, and that is really bad for you.

The virus infects T-Helper cells - part of your immune system that is supposed to protect you from stuff like HIV, and which is outside the cell that is about to infected - by having the ability to grab onto T-Helper CD4 cell receptors. Basically, it uses the T-Helper Cell for evil instead of good because it perversely matches the outside of the T-Helper cell, making the T-Helper cell, in essence, think that the viral cell is ok and not dangerous.

The two cells fuse - this leads to the T-Helper cell having the bad RNA inside it. The reverse transcriptase then uses the machinery of the T-Helper cells to turn the viral RNA into DNA inside the T-Helper cell by using host nucleotides. This is bad DNA that will hurt you once it gets inside the target cell - it's harmless in the T-Helper Cell itself, but it doesn't stay there.

This bad DNA is then taken from the T-Helper cell by an enzyme called integrase and into the cell nucleus through a small opening known as a nuclear pore. Once it's inside the cell, you're cooked. The invading DNA finds a target stretch of your good DNA and the integrase splices in the bad, invading DNA.

From there, everything proceeds as normal in DNA reproduction. RNA polymerase comes along, copies the bad DNA thinking it is good DNA into various bad proteins, and messenger RNA takes them back outside the cell via Ribosomes. The outside surface of the cell now has clusters of bad envelope proteins that eventually bud off into your bloodstream and, and some work on poly-protein chains by protease, become full-fledged virions (disease carriers) that go out and re-start the process in other cells.

Each infected cell will produce stuff that hurts you. This process is simply how the virus infects you, then keeps on regenerating itself, sort of like if you have one of those elaborate mousetrap set-ups where one releases, then two, then four, and then pretty much a whole roomful of mouse traps has been set off.

By now, you're sick, though you won't realize it until enough cells are attacked by the virions to ruin your immune system, opening you up to opportunistic diseases that are usually handily kept at bay by a healthy immune system.

I hope I got all that outline right, it's been a while since I cracked those textbooks! I'm sure if you're really up on this you can add all sorts of details and ancillary processes that I left out for the sake of brevity.

It's all kind of spooky why these sorts of heavy viruses exist, which turn your own body against you. That's why HIV is so difficult to fight, it is like a stealth fighter that eludes the enemy radar and drops its payload right on the enemy headquarters. In fact, it makes the enemy fighters think it's one of them, and they escort the enemy fighter right to the target, where it destroys everything.

Fortunately, there are lots of treatments for HIV now that will keep you alive. Eradicating it completely, though, is still not possible. In other words, there is no "cure" in an absolute sense.

If you understand - really understand - everything going on in this animation and can keep all the names straight, you are 90% of the way toward passing any advanced high school or introductory college biology course because this basically is how cells operate normally, but for the first part. And all in under 5 minutes.


Animation about Stem Cell Tourism

stem cell tourism

What is stem cell tourism? Narrated by Professor Timothy Caulfield from Stem Cell Network on Vimeo.

Stem cell tourism. Stem cells have been known since 1961, but recently they have become known as a sort of "cure-all" for patients who want to believe that modern science always has an answer to our problems. This video by Dr. Timothy Caulfield explains what "Stem Cell Tourism" is and why it can be dangerous. These science animations are an easy way to learn the basics about important topics that can be quite dangerous to unsuspecting people.

In the past 50 years, stem cell research has led to some groundbreaking therapies including bone marrow transplantation and skin grafting. Today, stem cell research continues to hold the promise of new treatments for many diseases.
However, most of these potential treatments are still experimental.
Any experimental therapy must first be carefully tested to make sure it is both safe and effective before it is approved for patients.
This testing process normally takes several years during which time many experimental treatments may fail because they are unsafe, ineffective or both.

Despite this, clinics throughout the world offer untested and potentially dangerous stem-cell-based treatments, usually at a high cost to the patient. As a result, these locations have become a destination for stem cell tourism - where hopeful patients travel internationally to seek unapproved stem cell therapies.
Before patients spend time and money, they should familiarize themselves with the facts and think twice about obtaining expensive treatments that have not yet been proven safe or effective.

Narration by: Professor Timothy Caulfield
Written & Directed by: Ben Paylor & Mike Long
Produced by: Infoshots -
Animation by: David Murawsky -
Sound by: James Wallace -
Funding by: Stem Cell Network and Canadian Stem Cell Foundation


Solar Power's Current Limitations, by TED-Ed

Solar power limitations

Solar Power's Current Limitations. Clouds are the main problem with massive solar power systems, according to this new animation from TED-Ed. This is quite an informative video, one that anyone interested in solar power may benefit from. TED-Ed videos are intended to educate in an entertaining fashion.

The animation is done in a cute fashion using yarn.

Did you know that clouds can actually increase solar power in some forms of generation, which poses a danger to the system? Clouds are all-important in solar power generation.

This lesson is by Alexandros George Charalambides, with animation by Ace & Son Moving Picture Co., LLC.

Without attempting to steal any of Professor Charalambides' thunder, he states that there is no effective way to store solar power for solar panels, but they are powerful tools because they can use all types of irradiance. Molten salt towers, on the other hand, can store power during cloudy weather or overnight, but they can only use direct irradiance. They are particularly susceptible to cloud cover. Thus, the two systems and different plusses and minuses, and there is no panacea solution at the moment. You often don't hear about that sort of thing in casual news reports about advances in solar power generation, so this is a useful video to watch if you want the reality of the situation.

Solar power limitations
A solar power generation system using molten salt as a battery.