Thursday, December 20, 2007

WHO'S LAUGHING NOW?

Haven't put any of my own work up in a while so here goes. The Joker. Tis the season to be jolly.

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

WEDNESDAY'S CHILD IS FULL OF WOE!

But I was born on a Friday, which makes me loving and giving - but not according to the 1887 original version which had Wednesday's child bestowed with such fortune and Friday's child saddled with woe. Which brings me to another bit of Trivia. Wednesday Addams from The Addams Family took her name from 'Wednesday's child is full of woe". Her middle name was 'Friday'. All bases covered.

It's actually the early hours of the morning here in Blighty. I'm up working late and evidently talking gibberish so here's some music instead.

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

WHERE HAVE I BEEN ALL YOUR LIFE & GOODBYE TO THE NORMALS

I moseyed on over to the BBC's film network today completely by chance and found, much to my delight, the work of writer George Kay and director Jim Field Smith. The first is a film called "Where Have I Been All Your Life?":

A young man's personal search unlocks a series of revelations and recriminations that escalate from the emotional, via the darkly comic to the plain farcical.

And the second is "Goodbye to the Normals" which can also be seen on youtube and concerns a young boy leaving home.


Saturday, December 15, 2007

DOCTOR WHO: VOYAGE OF THE DAMNED TRAILER

It's almost that time of year again ... no, not Christmas, the other thing ...

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

THE GOLDEN COMPASS

Took my niece to see The Golden Compass at the weekend (finally got my weekends back). The cinema experience when going to see films with children is sort of akin to Christmas being reinvigorated with magic once again now my wife and I have a son.

I have to confess, in hindsight I thought the film was okay, but at the time I thoroughly enjoyed it (fueled somewhat by the novelty). Whilst wonderfully realized visually I wasn't too certain it had been wonderfully executed in terms of adaptation, but for the most part performances were fine, the casting fitting almost perfectly with how I had imagined the book. I was however perplexed by the film's ending (in contrast to the book), and shocked by a certain fight scene for it's moment of startling but bloodless gore. I had to explain to my niece there was going to be another film as the fade to black prompted her to ask "is that it?". After the film an in depth conversation ensued concerning Daemon's (the familiars in the film) as we waited in the lobby for my sister to come and collect us. I picked a hare after Lee Scoresby's Daemon - Hester the Hare (I was particularly fond of its ears) and my niece rather impractically picked a Killer Whale. That said though, it had been raining rather heavily all day so I suppose it wasn't so impractical after all.

Wednesday, December 05, 2007

FAREWELL NOVEMBER 2007

It's been a hectic month. I could almost write the whole of November off as one long endurance test. And the fun is far from over yet. I haven't had a weekend free since the beginning of November. I've been working on three commercials back to back and a comic book (more info on that as soon as I'm allowed to tell). Been looking forward to December as the next couple of months is all comic book work which makes for a nice change of pace. Oh, and I get my weekends back. Yay!

Now for a little music. Two tracks from the outstandingly excellent Akira soundtrack. Never mind that it's an amazing manga and an incredible anime, listen to the score!



Sunday, November 18, 2007

TO DAYS TO COME, ALL MY LOVE TO LONG AGO.

A change of desktop theme indeed. A touch of nostalgia from Doctor Who in this special for Children in Need. Note how the score changes to the eighties style fifth Doctor era midway through. Great stuff.

Saturday, November 17, 2007

BAF 07

It's been a while since I last posted. I've had my head beneath the parapet and have been working hard on three commercials back to back. I've not got any weekends off for the whole of November. Needs must when the devil drives! Looking forward to December when things slow down a pace and I get my weekends back. On top of all these commercials I managed to prepare a powerpoint presentation of my storyboard work and comic book work for the Bradford Animation Festival. Jim Walker hosted a panel which consisted of Ginger Gibbons, Kevin Baldwin and myself.

It was my first ever presentation/talk so in the days leading up to it, if it wasn't for the fact that I'm so busy at the moment and thinking about half a dozen other things at once, I would most likely have been quite nervous, but I just didn't have time to be nervous. So I just got on with it. I arrived about 45 mins before the talk and had to leave 45 mins after I'd finished because I had to get back to HQ. Busy busy busy. As it was it all ran smoothly. The staff at BAF 07 where lovely and incredibly helpful, the Q&A with the audience went great with people asking interesting questions; the whole thing went off without a hitch and I had a thoroughly good time. Oh, and Bob Godfrey was in the audience (even more reason to be nervous, talking in front of such a luminary of the animation industry).

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

ZUDA GO FOR LAUNCH!



Zuda comics launched today and already there's some pretty interesting entries plus a rather stunning winner in Jeremy Love's 'Bayou'. Zuda Comics is DC comics' web comics site where people on a monthly basis compete to win a year long contract producing a weekly comic for the site. I've been following news on this eagerly since June as it's an excellent opportunity for anyone who doesn't have the chance to attend the US comic cons and DC folio reviews to stick their work under DC's nose and say 'how do you like them apples?' They have rolling submissions 24/7 which is excellent news, and with each pitch/submission creative teams provide 8 pages of art. I'm going to go for it.

Friday, October 26, 2007

BEBOP ALULA

Haven't updated this blog much of late as I have been frantically busy. I'm currently working with Ian Edginton on something special, more about that much later. I'm also going to be submitting six pages of story and art to Zuda.com as soon as its doors open so I've been preparing for that. And I have three commercials on my plate to boot. Oh, and I'm going to be making an appearance at the Bradford Animation Festival this year in a panel discussion to do with storyboarding, which I've just read has sold out! eek!

So, busy busy busy.

Thursday, October 04, 2007

THE REAL DAREDEVIL - via Major Spoilers

Spotted this over at the Major Spoilers, where Stephen Schleicher calls this kid "The Real Daredevil". Seems Marvel need to rethink Matt Murdoch. He doesn't need radioactive substances, just good old fashioned echo location.


Best Video Of The Year - video powered by Metacafe

Saturday, September 22, 2007

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

HOW I LEARNED TO STOP WORRYING AND LOVE PAINTER X


I have some possible comic book work on the horizon and have been experimenting with painter cross platforming with photoshop and it's been fun. The way I'm working is starting projects in photoshop (which I'm familiar with), blocking out colors, and then opening psd files in Painter and hopping between the two. What I love about Painter isn't so much the brushes, although the brushes in Painter are many and fantastic, rather it's the extended possibilities of manipulation and the palette for mixing up paints (taking me back to mixing up paints on a tile at art college).

I used a little bit of Painter in Grimmwood, but only for the canopy. I hope to use more.

Thursday, September 13, 2007

INDIANA JONES AND THE CRYSTAL SKULL!

The title for the new Indiana Jones movie has been revealed. More info about the Crystal Skull itself can be found in the above clip from Arthur C Clarke Mysterious World episode.

As is traditionally the case with Indiana Jones, the MacGuffin is the artifact. What the Crystal Skull is reportedly said to be able to do could be an indication of the movie's plot:
The Maya people said it was used to will death or to heal. And if like an older medicine man or witchdoctor was getting too old to perform a ceremony a young man was chosen and both laid in front of the alter and the high priest would perform a ceremony and the old man's knowledge would go into this young boy and the old man would pass away peacefully and this young boy would get up as a very knowledgeable young man. This crystal skull has tremendous power, but it also gives you a warning that something's going to happen.
Which is all pretty interesting stuff. Could Labeouf be the young man? And could John Hurt, allegedly playing Indy's mentor, Abner Ravenwood, be the old man and via this method passes on his knowledge to young Labeouf? Face it, John Hurt dies in practically every movie he's been in.

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

BITENECK BEATNIKS TEASER TRAILER!

Here's some of the background art I recently produced for the new Biteneck Beatniks teaser trailer which can be seen over at the Sardine website.

Sardine Productions in Canada did a fantastic job of combining Curtis Jobling's character designs with my background designs. Sardine not only put in some terrific work but an incredible amount of enthusiasm and love for the project so it was a lot of fun to work on.




Monday, September 10, 2007

GRIMMWOOD UPDATED

Now these blogs have labels, I am considering whether to shift all the stuff I have over on the Grimmwood blog (what little of it there is) to here, given how intermittently I work on that project. Anyway, here's 15 seconds of Grimmwood, just to show there's life in the old girl yet.

The wolves are what I call 'spider-weasels' due to the way they move. Their legs move like spider legs and their bodies slink like weasels.

No audio.

Here also are the full backgrounds from the segment ...
Grimmwood and all production work is © 2006-2007, Ian Culbard, All rights Reserved.

Friday, August 24, 2007

OVER THE HILL WINS THE McLAREN AWARD AT EDINBURGH!!!!

The animated film I recently produced, 'Over The Hill', won the McLaren Award for New British Animation this evening at the Edinburgh Festival. I AM ECSTATIC!!! Peter Baynton, the film's director, traveled up to Edinburgh this evening to pick up the award!


Wednesday, August 22, 2007

I'M NOT THERE

Staggeringly, this is Cate Blanchett dressed up as Bob Dylan for the film 'I'm Not There', which is on my 'must see' list. The film, directed by Todd Haynes, focuses on six different stages of Dylan's life and for each of these stages he's played by six different actors, including Marcus Carl Franklin, Ben Whishaw, Heath Ledger, Christian Bale and Richard Gere. The film also features David Cross, Julianne Moore, Michelle Williams and Charlotte Gainsbourg.

Here's a 2 minute clip from the upcoming film which I managed to find floating around on YouTube.


Monday, August 20, 2007

MORE DOCTOR WHO CASTING RUMOURS *SPOILERS AHOY*

News of the World have reported that Joan Collins is set to appear as The Rani, and The Sun claims that Ben Kingsley is going to be playing Davros. I shall eat humble hat if any of this turns out to be true, however, there is an intriguing rumor flying about that the Fifth Doctor, Peter Davison, is going to appear in Series 4 in a Multi-Doctor episode.

Monday, August 13, 2007

MIKE WIERIGNO

Sadly comic book artist, Mike Wieringo, passed away this Sunday of a sudden heart attack. Wieringo was 44 years old.

John Siuntres of the excellent World Balloon has posted a tribute to the life and career of Wieringo, an interview from 2005.

ANIMATION TREASURES!

Drop what you're doing and go check this amazing blog out.

THE SELFISH GIANT

I love how the selfish giant's castle is sign posted! Thanks to Colin Fawcett for pointing me in the direction of this gem. I rather like the background art and snow and frost and the Wagnerian accompaniment to the arrival of the north wind and hail.... in short, lovely stuff. Written and produced by Peter Sander in 1972, it was an Academy Award Nominee that same year.

Wednesday, August 08, 2007

THE LITTLE MATCHGIRL

The Little Match Girl was the last film made by Disney to use CAPS,Disney's digital ink & paint system. The film was supposed to be a part of Fantasia 2006 (The Music Project) which was canceled.

It also features the glorious music of Alexander Borodin (String Quartet No. 2 in D Major: Third Movement: Notturno, Andante).

Monday, August 06, 2007

JUSTICE LEAGUE: NEW FRONTIER ANIMATED PREVIEW

Justice League: New Frontier Animated Preview. Very much looking forward to seeing this. Thanks to Will Kane for the heads up.

Thursday, August 02, 2007

A NEW DOCTOR IN THE HOUSE? *HERE BE SPOILERS* (UPDATED)

Rumor has it, via The Sun (which, while not particularly reliable for any other sort of news, has proved to be right on more than one occasion regarding the new series of Doctor Who) says that James Nesbitt is the next shoe-in for the role of The Doctor in BBC's Doctor Who.

James Nesbitt currently appears in BBC's Jekyl, which I've managed to completely miss (but my sister assures me that she'll be getting me it on DVD for my Birthday), which is written by Doctor Who writer (and one of the best writers of the show) Steve Moffat. Interesting. I've not really seen James Nesbitt in anything but Cold Feet and Yellow Pages commercials so we shall see, but it certainly seems to make sense to me. I wonder if all planets have a County Antrim also and Nesbitt will be keeping his accent? David Tennent is expected to leave at the end of season 4 as is, rumor has it, Russel T Davies who will apparently stand down as show runner, and Moffat is rumored to be taking over the reigns (which, given how terrific "Empty Child", "Girl in the Fireplace" and "Blink" have been can only be a good thing).

UPDATE: According to Outpost Gallifrey, Steve Moffat has chimed in on the discussion forum there, saying:
The James Nesbitt story is a total fabrication. Made up. A fantasy. Just a guy sitting at a desk and just inventing stuff.

I wasn't going to say anything, but I'm getting embarrassed for the deeply wonderful Jimmy Nesbitt. So tell everyone please, cos it's getting very silly.

Steven Moffat
So, the James Nesbitt story has been denied, but I notice no denial of Steve Moffat taking over as show runner! Could it be?

Wednesday, August 01, 2007

OVER THE HILL AT RUSHES SOHO SHORTS FESTIVAL

“Over The Hill” is appearing in its first festival; Rushes Soho Shorts which takes place in and around Soho cinemas and venues this week. We heard yesterday that the film is a finalist in the Animation category, which is excellent news. The film will also be showing at the Edinburgh festival later this month.

Monday, July 30, 2007

THE END OF THE WORLD IS NIGH!!!!

We're laughing now, but ... please tell me people have heeded the warnings from films like Terminator, The Matrix and I Robot?

Friday, July 27, 2007

Thursday, July 26, 2007

D'ISRAELI

Met up with comic artist Matt Brooker (D'Israeli) for elevenses yesterday at the Malt Cross. Great to meet up with him at long last. Daleks did crop up in conversation. Go check out his wonderful blog. He often posts about his work process, and if you scroll down the sidebar you'll notice he has an indispensable section called "Tools, Materials & Resources". Go check it out now.

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

FISCHERKOESEN FEST

A while back I posted about Hans Fisherkoesen's Verwitterte Melodie (Weather-beaten Melody), well here's some more from Hans Fisherkoesen. The first film here is The Snowman which again shows off some very early 3D techniques as Verwitterte Melodie did.

And here are some of FisherKoesen's commercial, from which the Philips light bulb commercial is perhaps my favorite. Enjoy!






Monday, July 23, 2007

YOU'RE GOING TO HELL!



Hell is the second song from The Tiger Lillies album "Births, Marriages and Deaths". The Tiger Lillies are the greatest. My wife and I were fortunate enough to catch "Shockheaded Peter" when it was on at Drury Lane. An amazing spectacle it was too. They're a three piece from London who cite Gypsy music, Russian music, Greek folk, Blues, Italian Opera, Kurt Weil, 30's Berlin cabaret, French chanson, Flamenco as their influences. Their songs are about blasphemy, murder, criminals, prostitution etc, all delivered with darkly comedic aplomb.

Saturday, July 21, 2007

THE NEW FRONTIER

The New York Times has the first image from "The New Frontier", a straight to DVD animated adaptation of Darwyn Cooke's funny book mini series of the same name. Due to be released in February 2008 and previewed at the up coming San Diego Comic-con.

According to the original article neither Wonder Woman nor Lois Lane (who make prominent appearances in the comic) were in the first three drafts of the adaptation. So the above image is somewhat reassuring, as is the following from Mister Cooke himself.
“It’s much more complete than I would have thought,” Mr. Cooke said. “Even things we dropped, we reference in scenes. It won’t interrupt the story for people who don’t know, but for someone who has read the book, it’ll hit that trigger and be there for them.”
Lucy Lawless stars as Wonder Woman, Steven Blum as Batman, David Boreanaz as Hal Jordan/Green Lantern, Kyle MacLachlan as Clark Kent/Superman.

Superman: Doomsday, the first of three straight to DVD animated adaptations (of which "The New Frontier" is the second) is due out in September 2007 and features the voices of Adam Baldwin as Clark Kent/Superman, Anne Heche as Lois Lane and James Marsters as Lex Luthor.

The third film in the line "Teen Titans: The Judas Contract" is set for a 2008 release.

Friday, July 20, 2007

COCKED, LOCKED, AND READY TO ROCK!



I am back after a week long holiday with my wife and son by the Norfolk coast. We managed to catch some sun! Feeling slightly shattered now after driving through torrential rain. It's good to be home.

Thursday, July 12, 2007

INDIANA JONES AND THE T-SHIRT JAKe DESIGNED

First thing this morning I thought I'd stroll by the Indiana Jones front desk to check out any stirrings and sure enough, they've posted a clip of Harrison Ford as Doctor Jones. All tremendously exciting stuff, naturally, seeing Harrison Ford donning the hat again, but much more exciting than any of that, and something that had me spitting out my cereal in surprise was to see George Lucas wearing a Han Solo t-shirt designed by JAKe Steel!! A "Han Shot First" t-shirt no less!

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

MOOMINS - OPOWIADANIA MUMINKÓW

Often referred to as the 'fuzzy felt Moomins', this was the third production of five to make it to TV screens. It was made in Poland (Opowiadania Muminków) by Film Polski for Polish, Austrian and German television and later sold to the UK (among other places) where I think it really benefited from another integral ingredient, the voice of Richard Murdoch.

The series has been collected onto DVD. There are a 100 English episodes in all, edited down into 5 minute episodes from their original 78 x 30 minute episodes but you can watch the original episodes also (in German and sans Richard Murdoch's wonderful voice).

For more on Tove Jansson's Moomins I recommend you visit Brian Sibley's Ex Libris blog where he's written a wonderful piece about the books and their author.

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

THE LITTLE STORY ON THE BIG STORY

The Big Story. This brilliant short film was carried with the screening of Quentin Tarantino's Pulp Fiction upon its theatrical release in the UK.

Tim Watts (one of the directors and animators of the film) , a fellow Kingstonian alumni, came back to Kingston when I was studying there and gave a talk about his work, which included The Big Story. We even got to see pencil tests for the film which you can view by clicking this link.

Tim told us that originally they'd tried to contact Kirk Douglas himself to get him to do the voices but eventually got through to one of Kirk's sons (I cannot recall which) who said Kirk wasn't available to do the voice, but all was not lost. Tim and David where advised by one of Kirk's sons to get hold of Frank Gorshin and get him to do it because apparently, according to them Frank Gorshin could do a better Kirk Douglas than Kirk Douglas. As was testimony in a short clip Tim showed us of one of Gorshin's impersonation routines where he pretends to be both Burt Lancaster and Kirk Douglas. For an example of Gorshin's talents outside of playing the Riddler in the Batman TV series watch the following clip.

Monday, July 09, 2007

ETHAN HAAS WAS RIGHT (UPDATED)

Right now, the internet is abuzz with news of JJ. Abrams monster movie Cloverfield, a Blue Harvest smoke screen title for a movie barely anyone knows anything about. The movie has an estimated budget of $30 million and began filming last month in New York. A teaser trailer appeared before Transformers and a viral campaign is under way in order to build hype. There's also a puzzle website which presents you with 5 puzzles that unlock a series of video messages and then leaves you with a code you can use on August 1st when I'm guessing more stuff will be revealed (the puzzles are all relatively easy, it's just the interface makes it all look like hard work).

The teaser trailer is a heck of a tease, showing a group of people at a party when a thunderous roar outside halts celebrations. News channels are seen reporting the disturbance. Revelers spill out onto the street and see a large rolling ball of flame down town and the statue of liberty's severed head lands in the street as people scatter. It's noted on some sites that the ball of flame is an explosion but to me it looks like a rolling ball of flame, like an abstract monster from H. P. Lovecraft's mythos (there's a lot of talk that this all has something to do with Great Cthulhu, but he wasn't available for comment when I called). That's the great thing about this teaser, you don't really see a great deal of detail, and really you're at the mercy of the panicked camera operator given as the whole teaser appears to have been filmed on a mobile phone-camera. So you're left to fill in a lot of the gaps and that's the best bit. It's terrific.

There's also this site (click the link), which is basically the film's release date, and it has snap shots from what I can only assume is the party in the teaser. I read somewhere online that someone had checked the registration for the site and it belongs to the Freemasons and one Albert Pike. Which sounds like the people in charge of this campaign are either incredibly clever and that there's a wealth of information if anyone cares to dig deep enough, or people are reading too much into what little information there is out there. Some people have even taken the photo of the two frightened young women that appears on the 1-18-08 site and spliced their faces together in the hope that this is some sort of clue, and others are seeing the devil's face inbetween the two women. I think its more of a coincidental simulcrum myself, but it goes to show what an effect this pre-movie buzz campaign is having.

The problem with a lot of stuff like this is that the 'mystery' can often be greater than the truth. And it's largely because people build in their own conclusions. They imagine a far greater payload than the initial idea can deliver and so when the initial idea reveals its payload it usually doesn't reach spec. VAL LEWTON WAS RIGHT. Never show the payload (or in Lewton's case, never show the cat people). The mystery is the monster.

UPDATE: You can watch the teaser trailer here (click for the link). Seeing the severed head of the statue of Liberty really does evoke memories of "Escape from New York".

Yet another 'interpreted' rumor going around now is that the monster of the movie (which has been referred to as "the Parasite"), is in fact a Lion. If you listen carefully, just after the scene on the staircase as people spill out onto the street, you'll hear someone say, very quickly "I saw it, it's alive, it's huge". At least that's how I hear it. But some people are hearing the words "a Lion" in place of "a live", and drawing the conclusion that the monster is some sort of lion.

"Nice thinkin', Ray."

UPDATE PART DEUX: The rumor mill concerning JJ Abrams' untitled film thunders on. This time in JJ Abrams drops Harry Knowles a line over at Aintitcool.

So according to JJ Abrams, the Ethan Haas puzzle site has nothing to do with his film. The Ethan Haas puzzle site certainly has all the trappings of a video game. At one point I even suspected it might be the launch for a new MMORPG as the mysterious video message guy says "What role you will play, and how you live or die, is completely up to you." Time will tell.

UPDATE PART III:
Ethan Haas Was Right, it turns out, really isn't marketing for JJ Abrams Cloverfield. It's marketing for a game called Alpha Omega by Mindstorm labs, which is an RPG. So there you have it.

With regard to JJ Abrams Cloverfield, it's also been said that it is not "a sequel or a remake". Which rules out "Zombie Kong"!

Sunday, July 08, 2007

LITTLE NEZHA

I love this film. I saw this film when it was on the BBC many MANY years ago. Cannot recall precisely how old I was at the time (though I'm guessing it was the early eighties given when the film was dubbed into English by the BBC, so I would have been about ten or eleven years old) but it left an indelible impression upon me. I no longer own a video player, so I've not seen this film for a few years). From time to time (once or twice a month) I've been logging in to You Tube and searching for this just to see if anyone would post this, and bingo, here it is at long last. I've also since found that it is available on DVD from China (with English subtitles), so this is one I will definitely be adding to my reference library.






Friday, July 06, 2007

A THING OF BEAUTY!!

Spotted this over at Drawn! Just had to post this here because it is just too beautiful to miss. The great thing about this morphing technique is how there appears to be a constant in motion, as though all these faces were just one woman turning her head from side to side whilst shaking off thinly veiled disguises (though it does get considerably more abstract towards the end). The amount of emotion conveyed is simply wonderful. It's a work of art in itself. Enjoy.

Monday, June 25, 2007

GEORGE LUCAS IN LOVE!


Ha Ha Ha Ha Ha-Ha Ha Ha-Ha! Most enjoyable take on the origins of Star Wars.

Friday, June 22, 2007

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

MAD ABOUT THE BUOY!

(click on the image for a larger version)
A background design for nothing-in-particular. Complete with flocks of birds and red buoy. I think I was trying out water effects in photo-shop at the time. This was going to be a follow up to Zombie Kong with Zombie-Zilla rising out of the sea headed for the city but I really liked the buoy and the water's surface and got kind of distracted. So, technically speaking, this is a Zombie-Zilla picture only Zombie-Zilla's running a little late.

Monday, June 18, 2007

REJECTION


This weeks Illustration Friday Topic is "Rejection".

THE STATION AGENT

Over the weekend, I got around to watching The Station Agent, which I got as a present from my sister ages ago. It stars Peter Dinklage, Patricia Clarkson and Bobby Cannavale as three strangers who become friends and the film focuses largely on the cementing of that bond between three very different people. Joe (played by Bobby Cannavale) plays man's-best-friend in this trinity. He loves life, hates being alone and just wants to have fun. Fin (Peter Dinklage) is quite the opposite, and for a while the relationship between these two men is akin to a dog (Joe) and a person who's not particularly fussed about the company of dogs (Fin). Most amusing. Joe follows Fin around asking what he's doing, what he'd like to do later etc, while Fin just wants to be left alone. He's inherited land with an old train depot on it in (making him The Station Agent of the title). Then there's Olivia (Patricia Clarkson) who's a lonely, divorced woman grieving the death of her son. Hers is quite a different need for social isolation to that of Fin's, for entirely different reasons. The endearing Joe serves as the cathartic dog, bringing Fin and Olivia out of their respective shells.

I usually avoid films with the word "uplifting" in the review because that, to me anyway, usually means depressing. Certainly true of quite a few films with that dreaded word in the review quotes. The Station Agent isn't "uplifting". It's life-affirming.

Friday, June 15, 2007

EAGLE VS. SHARK

Great looking film. Out this summer.
Jemaine Clement is one half of Flight of Conchords (Bret McKenzie being the other half of Conchords, who Lord of the Rings fans may recognize). They have a 12 part TV Series coming from HBO. You can watch the pilot here.

Here's a clip from a live performance of a great song of theirs, "Jenny".

Thursday, June 14, 2007

CHILDREN OF THE NIGHT .... WHAT MUSIC THEY MAKE

What sold me on Philip Glass was the incredible soundtrack he produced for the Universal horror classic, Dracula (performed by the Kronos Quartet). It's a score which provides the film a sense of longevity Renfield could only long for (the above clip doesn't include Glass' score unfortunately). There's a genuine sense of foreboding when Renfield (a stunning performance by the excellent Dwight Frye) first arrives at Dracula's cobweb riddled, rat infested manse. The scene where Renfield and Dracula first talk and Renfield cuts his finger is accompanied by a score of such sinister intensity; repetition complemented by soft, ebbing strings. There is also a scene where Renfield pleads with Dracula from behind bars not to go to Mina's room that night. The music here again is utterly breathtaking, not so much feeling modern as feeling utterly timeless.

There is nothing cliché about Glass' score. It somehow manages to re-cut the film without leaving a single foot of film on the cutting room floor, offering an entirely different sense of pace to what has gone before and bringing new meaning to a classic.

Wednesday, June 06, 2007

LONDON 2012 ANIMATION + ARTS LOSING OUT TO OLYMPICS

This story is all over the place. An Animated promo for the 2012 Olympic Games has been taken off the organisers' website after it apparently triggered epileptic fits. Heard about this on the news last night and as soon as I did I raced to the batcave to see if I could catch a glimpse of it before they took it down so I could see for myself what it was that they'd done to it. But I was too late.

Rules on strobing in animation are pretty strict for obvious reasons. First off, there's certain frame rates you avoid - couple that with the percentage of the screen that's altered by the effect, there's definitely a clearly delineated no-go area that you should be aware of before you even start making stuff like this.

Images are tested through the BACC (a lot of the work I do goes through them I believe) or a Harding FPA before they go on air in order to ensure they comply with OFCOM regulations. So, how this got through in the first place is beyond me. Draw your own conclusions.

A very similar thing happened with a certain Japanese TV series called Pocket Monsters (Pokémon), when in 1997 more than 635 kids in Japan were taken to hospital with epileptic seizures caused by watching an episode of the show in which there was strobing blue and red color patterns. The publicity of course did the show no harm at all as most bankrupt parents can likely testify.

Now then, back to the Olympics. On the official website there's a sidebar that has a picture of Joanna Lumley in it with the title "Backing the Bid: Joanna Lumley" and a quote from her saying:
"Anything that helps young people become more involved in the arts, culture, sport and the spirit of personal achievement excites me. The Olympics isn't only a sporting feast - it's a celebration of culture and creativity too - and that gets my vote."
Well, here's the stinger. The arts are going to suffer because of the Olympics thanks to future PM and present chancellor, Gordon Brown. And here is why. There's currently a petition to stop this happening and the petition itself probably best describes what's going on, so I'm quoting it and, for your convenience, you can click the quote and that will take you to the petition itself (which is a very simple form to fill in):

Stop the chancellor using Lottery money to plug the funding gap in the 2012 olympics. If this goes ahead at least £900m will go from Big lottery, Sport England, Arts Council and Heritage Lottery much of this money would fund projects within the local voluntary and community sector. Services to disadvantaged people will be directly affected by the loss of this funding, people who will have no opportunity to benefit from the olympics directly but rely on local services provided by the voluntary sector.
This all on the tails of reports that Tax credit errors (the Tax Credit system Gordon Brown set up) is set to waste a further £1.4billion.

Tuesday, June 05, 2007

THEY'RE MAKING BABIES ... ROBOT BABIES!!!


Over in Japan they're making babies ... robot babies - and they sound a lot like Anne from Little Britain.

The crazy thing about this is it has the intelligence of a 1-2 year old (which I guess must mean it's learning to walk and talk). It can sense light, has a sense of hearing and touch. The scientists are going to be developing the robot to three year olds intellectual level, which basically means it should have speech and walking down to a tee in four years time.

Quite scary. Are you scared? I'm scared. If this baby grows up to look like Haley Joel Osment, I'm outta here!

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

BARBATUQUES ROCK!


Baiana from Barbatuques. First heard this on the trailer for the video-game Shadowrun. Barbatuques are a Brazilian percussion group. I think I like ... I like a lot.

Monday, May 28, 2007

ATTENTION!!!!! (MADAM TUTLI PUTLI)

This 17 minute long film from Clyde Henry, produced by the National Film Board of Canada, looks truly stunning. Nice to hear also that they're currently working on an adaptation of one of my favorite funny books, Ed the Happy Clown.

Madam Tutli Putli Trailer

Animating Madame Tutli Putli (I love how he laughs when asked 'what was your life like'. Life?)

Producer Marcy Page

Making of Madame Tutli Putli

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

MAY THE FORCE BE WITH YOU



Go take a look-see at the exceptionally talented JAKe Steel's new Star Wars site celebrating the 30th Anniversary of Star Wars. I have a couple of postcards which JAke kindly sent me (I beat him at holographic stop-motion chess) and very lovely they are too.

I used to have an compulsive habit of leaving a message in the call log book at reception at Picasso Pictures (when I used to have a desk* there) which read "Luke, Darth rang. Says he's your dad." Star Wars left an indelible mark on many a child that grew up in the seventies.

(*a light-desk no less)

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

HAPPY BIRTHDAY HERGÉ!

Tintin creator, Georges Remi (Hergé), was born 100 years ago today, and apparently Dreamworks is planning to bring Tintin to the silver screen in CG motion capture. Which I have to say is something of a relief; I shudder at the thought of a live action version. According to CBR News, Steven Spielberg and Peter Jackson are set to direct just two of three films slated to be made. Exciting stuff.

Thursday, May 17, 2007

IMAGES FROM "OVER THE HILL"




These are images from the short film I co-produced (along with Margaret Milner Schmück) and mentored on; "Over the Hill" by Peter Baynton (funded by EM Media's DV shorts scheme). Absolutely beautiful work from Peter, who is already cooking up an idea for another film as we speak. The film's set to hit the festival circuit, then from there ... who knows, hopefully some tv. Pete's certainly a name to keep an eye on. The film was animated in Flash and run through After Effects. Music and sound was provided by Ollie Davis and "We Write Music", who I've worked with before on Dagmar's Friend (among others).

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

IF CHINS COULD KILL...

Old spice never smelled so good and Duran Duran never sounded so good.

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

WE HAVE THE TECHNOLOGY - BIONIC WOMAN


Michelle Ryan (best known in the UK for her role in Eastenders as Zoe Slater, whether people watched the show or not given the media coverage of soaps we have in this country) is set to star in The Bionic Woman.

I was a huge fan of The (relatively inexpensive now) Six Million Dollar Man when I was a wee lad. The idea of someone being re-built into basically a superhero with all bionic parts was just way too cool. That and of course the show starred my hero back then, Lee Majors who would later go on to star in another favorite show from my childhood, The Fall Guy, as Colt Seavers. I used to have a Steve Austin doll, complete with red tracksuit, white pumps, bionic eye and bionic arm with removable skin. I also remember these strange bionic stickers you could get that you stuck on your skin to make it look like you had bionic working parts under your skin (by some enormous leap of the imagination no doubt). Whether they were a cash in or not (most likely), I cannot recall, but I remember that once they had been worn through I decided to draw bionic parts on my arms and legs with felt tip pens. What a mess!

So I'm wondering if that's Oscar Goldman that's the 'landlord' in that clip. Love the bionic eye focus (they appear to have taken a lot of bionic enhancements from Steve Austin and given them to Jaime Sommers, no doubt she still has the bionic ear).

Here's another clip from the show where Jaimie wakes up in the hospital / facility, and isn't too happy. Brilliant stuff. I love how she finds out what her bionic arm can do.

Katee Sackoff (from Battlestar Galactica) can also be seen in these clips and the show is produced by David Eick who is one part of the team that brought back Battlestar Galactica. So here's hoping that they have an equal success as they did with the marvelously reinvented Battlestar Galactica. Here's also a word from the show's producer, David Eick (who is also producing the tv show "Them"... a show about a sleeper cell of aliens living on Earth... I hope people don't confuse David Eick for David Ike!).


UPDATE: Thanks to PaulHD for reminding me. The stickers I spoke of earlier in this post, they were from Prog 2 of 2000AD! Thanks Paul. I can really clearly remember these now. I even wore the bionic watch! Thankfully, 2000AD have a catalog of all the free gifts they've done so here's what I was on about.

Monday, May 14, 2007

HOT WIRED

One of my illustrations for Illustration Friday, entitled "Wired" is going to be used for the cover of Prism, a bimonthly newsletter for the British Fantasy Society. The editor, Jay Eales, contacted me a little while ago asking if he could use it after seeing it on this blog, which is nice.

Sunday, May 13, 2007

OVER THE HILL

Yesterday I went to the screening of a film I've co-produced and mentored on called "Over the Hill" by Peter Baynton (as previously mentioned). I hope to put some stills up soon. It was on at screen 2 at the Broadway in Nottingham for a private screening where we got to see all the other films made under the DV shorts scheme. Great stuff. Pete's film was very well received to much well deserved applause and laughter (in all the right places). Have to say, he really worked incredibly hard, and I'm really glad to say that he's planning another film.

Wednesday, May 09, 2007

THE RETURN...

This is a promotional short for NASA's planned return to the moon just as I am planning on returning to blogging! I'm back from the wilderness!! Had a few days up in the lake district visiting my sister, following a couple of mad days of work last week on an animatic for a commercial. My wife, my son and I traveled up for my niece's birthday party in our relatively brand new car enjoying the air con and CD player. I love our new car.

Wednesday, May 02, 2007

DO OR DO NOT ...

... there is no try. This is RvD2: Ryan vs. Dorkman 2. What I'd love to see is RvD: The Prequel. Great work.

Saturday, April 28, 2007

DOCTOR WHO COMIC MAKER

This is cool. The official Doctor Who website has a Doctor Who Comic Maker for young audiences, with Mister Russell T Davies himself giving a comic maker tutorial. You need to register to have a go, but it all looks relatively straightforward enough. Great to see comics being used to inspire younger generations to write their own Doctor Who stories. Tip top stuff.

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

A LONG TIME AGO, IN A GALAXY NOT SO FAR AWAY ... THERE WAS VALÉRIAN


Princess Leia: Fancy Meeting you here.
Laureline: Oh, we've been hanging around here for a long time!"

A long time ago, sometime in the mid-eighties when music sounded terrible and men rolled their jacket sleeves up to their elbows, in a town many miles away (Woolwich to be precise), I picked up a comic book called Ambassador of the Stars, drawn by Jean-Claude Mézières and written by Pierre Christin. The book followed one of many adventures of two spatio-temoral agents, Valérian and Laureline. I pretty quickly discovered within a matter of pages that this was quite a remarkable book. I adored the story and the artwork. There were a further three books but I'm not certain I managed to get all of them on the pocket money I had. World Without Stars was one of them. The other I'm pretty sure I picked up was Welcome to Alflolol (I distinctly remember reading Welcome to Alflolol under my desk during a science class at school ... I call that studying).

There have been a couple of attempts to translate all the books. There were four published in the mid-eighties which is when I first discovered them, and then recently iBooks published Valerian: The New Future Trilogy (collecting "On the Frontiers, The Living Weapons, The Circles of Power). Unfortunately iBooks folded after declaring bankruptcy so it would seem no more translations are forthcoming. Impatient, I have since taken to collecting the books in French. They are to this day excellent. It's also exciting to see how from the first few books like Les Mauvais Rêves, published in 1967, how much Mézières style develops over the course of a small handful of books. The characters develop, the backgrounds however, with all their detailed and lived qualities, remain remarkably consistent.


"VALERIAN'S originality lies not only in the profound humanism that permeates Christin's text and the 'anti-heroic' quality of the main character, although these elements are not negligible. Nor does it rely on LAURELINE, VALERIAN'S companion, who is without a doubt one of the most non-confor­mist female characters in the history of comic books. To my mind, what is basically a question of originality — and originality there certainly is — owes a lot to Mezieres' creations : machines, scenery and creatures. Obviously when we read AMBASSADOR OF THE SHADOWS today in 1981, we no longer have that sense of disorientation we felt when we first discovered it. The decks of Central Point are haunted by machines, vessels and even stranger beings which now seem quite familiar to us."
- Daniel Riche
(article paru dans Ambassador of the shadows, 1982)
Foreword for the unsucessfull english edition of 4 translated Valerian album

As a Star Wars fan, the books aesthetically ticked all the right boxes. Here was a world as well realized, if not better realized, than Star Wars, and yet, as I was to learn, Valerian pre-dated Star Wars (Valerian started back in 1967).



For any fan of Star Wars looking for another lived-in universe, or even jaded Star Wars fans looking for a new place to call home, Valérian is the genuine original article. Seek it out.


Tuesday, April 24, 2007

MONKEY MAGIC (1961 'HAVOC IN HEAVEN' ANIMATION)


“Let hundreds of flowers blossom and hundreds of schools of thought contend"

Havoc in Heaven was made between 1961-1964 by the Wan Bros. The film, based on the early chapters of Journey to the West, is a delightfully choreographed and beautifully laid out film, rich and vibrant in both color and action. Can you get an English translation of this classic on Region 2 DVD? Can you heck. But you can watch a fan subtitled version over at You Tube. Viva la televisión revolución.

Saturday, April 21, 2007

POLAR



This weeks Illustration Friday topic is "Polar".

Thursday, April 19, 2007

INDIANA JONES AND THE ...

... City of Gods.

That's apparently the title for the next installment where we see Indy aged 64 and with, rumor has it, Shia LaBeouf playing his son (the image of LaBeouf to the left is actually from Transformers, but certainly looks fittingly Indy, ... prior to seeing this picture I had trouble imagining him in the role, but now, no problem now I can just picture him clutching an artifact and falling flat on his backside as Indy would do).

Well the only City of Gods I can think of is Babylon (Babylon is the Greek variant of the Akkadian "Babilu" meaning Gateway/City of the Gods) which is semi topical as it's in Iraq. Archaeologically speaking, the remaining layout of Ancient Babylon is that of Nebuchadnezzer's reign and these remnants now lay on the east and west banks of the Euphrates roughly 50 miles south of Baghdad. Saddam Hussein started rebuilding the site, much to the dismay of Archaeologists, and planned to build a palace (in the style of a Sumerian ziggurat) over the ruins. The UN even had plans to turn it into a cultural center complete with a shopping center of all things. So, much of what remains of Babylon would certainly have had Doctor Jones shouting "it belongs in a museum".

Rumors of Shia LaBeouf playing Indy's son have been on and off, with LaBeouf denying the rumors and so on and so forth. Even Indy Producer Frank Marshall said "We're sticking with Indy on his own. He still gets around pretty good." But Indy's son could be the MacGuffin Lucas came up with that nobody agreed with at the time and that has taken so many drafts to convince all parties concerned would finally work. It is after all touted by Lucas as a Character piece, and writter David Koepp has said it tackles Indy's age. Also... Sean Connery is only rumoured to be in it, Ray Winstone is definately in it as is Cate Blanchett as the leading lady, Sallah has been ruled out and Karen Allen may be back for the part of Marion Ravenwood (and possibly therefore the part of Indy Jr's mother?)

Speculatively speaking, perhaps Indy and Marion had a son, but with Indy barely able to attend his day job because of global adventures, and with he and Marion estranged, Indy had a son he knew nothing about, a son who'd grown up unwittingly in his fathers shadow (given as Marion is his mother... the boy grew up with a keen interest in archeology but this would be an interest associated with his grandfather, Abner Ravenwood who got a mention in Raiders). Then basically you'd have Indy possibly retired (now it's definetely the years as well as the mileage) being drawn back into the game looking for his son who's gone missing.

That would be my bet. This could be interesting. But then again ...

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

SUPINFOCOM


Supinfocom is the leading university for computer animation in France. The work that comes out of that place is pretty amazing. As I've been finding out whilst making Grimmwood, there's animation and then there's fight choreography. Go check it out.

Saturday, April 14, 2007

FORTUNE



This weeks Illustration Friday topic is "Fortune".

The word Fortune conjures up just one strong image in my head and that's those slot machines that tell your fortune or make you Big and head designer for a toy company. I wanted my Fortune teller to have deep hypnotic eyes, which again instantly conjured up another strong image in my head, Rasputin (or more specifically Christopher Lee's Rasputin in the 1966 Hammer Movie). I also figured I'd use the casing for the Fortune Teller slot machine as a way of framing the image.

Thursday, April 12, 2007

RADAR MEN FROM THE MOON


King of the Rocket Men was a Republic Movie serial that I used to watch when I was kid. All I really remember of it was that there were gangsters, an evil genius called Doctor Vulcan and a hero with an atomic powered rocket suit. I just loved watching King duke it out with trilby and pinstriped hoods. And every time King flew up a building they would kind of warp the perspective so the building looked really tall. The climax of the series saw Dr Vulcan using "The Decimator" to destroy Manhatten (the destruction of which used footage from the 1933 movie "Deluge"). What does a Decimator do? It decimates stuff!

So, the mad bad Doctor Vulcan gets to wreak havoc but ends up getting his backside handed to him on a plate by Jeff King (the titular King of the Rocket Men). What was amazing about King of the Rocket Men was that it really did look (for the time...and for young impressionable minds) like he could fly. I wanted that rocket suit so bad!

By the time Radar Men from the Moon (which you can buy on DVD) came around, Jeff King was gone and replaced by Commando Cody (Interesting to note, in Star Wars Ep 3: Revenge of the Sith, one of the clone trooper commanders is called Commander Cody). The exposition heavy dialogue is glorious. The plot is ludicrously fantastic, and while some of the acting may be wooden, it has a wonderful veneer.

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

MONARCHS ON PULP SECRET



Fist-A-Cuffs got a mention at PULP SECRET... and the Monarchs got a spot. Saddly, Monarchs didn't get through to the next round.

Damn their eyes!!!!

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

TWO & "LIFE ON MARS" - THE END



My favorite TV show, Life on Mars, has finished. Two seasons totaling just 16 episodes of utter perfection. The makers of Lost ought to take note - leave while the music is still playing.



Monday, April 09, 2007

HELLBOY


(click to enlarge)

Here's my version of HELLBOY.

Duncan Fegredo is the artist on the next Hellboy miniseries from Dark Horse Comics (which I'm really looking forward to ... follow the link and you'll find a preview at the Dark Horse site) and is going to be doing a signing at the Nottingham Travelling Man store on the 28th of april from 1.00pm (he'll also be signing at the Bristol Travelling Man store 11th of may from 4.30 pm).