News Bytes: ShaqToons Ups Animator Compensation, ‘Bombay Rose’ Trailer, Anime Against Climate Crisis & More

‘Oxenfree’ Now Available for $ 9.99
Just in time for Halloween, Night School Studio’s acclaimed game gets a permanent price drop across Xbox One, PlayStation 4, Nintendo Switch, Steam and the Epic Games Store.

Oxenfree is a single player game that’s equal parts coming-of-age tale and supernatural thriller. You play as Alex, a bright, rebellious teenage girl who brings her new stepbrother Jonas to an overnight party on a decommissioned military island. The festivities are framed by a dangerous sneak to a forbidden beach, celebrating with friends and navigating prickly situations with enemies. But the night takes a horrifying turn when you unwittingly open a ghostly rift spawned from the island’s cryptic past. How you deal with these events, your peers, and the ominous creatures you’ve unleashed is up to you.

Night School is also gearing up to release its next title, Afterparty, on Xbox One, PC and Mac (via Epic Games Store), PS4 and Switch this year. In the new title, players will take on the role of Milo and Lola, recently deceased best buds who suddenly find themselves staring down an eternity in Hell. But there’s a loophole: outdrink Satan and he’ll grant re-entry to Earth.

Funko Gets Wicked with Disney Villains Cosmetics Line
Inspired by Ursula, Maleficent, Cruella De Vil and the Evil Queen, the collection includes bronzers, lip glosses, highlighters, eye shadows, eyeliners, blushes and makeup brushes in cute packaging with Funko flair, manufactured by Taste Beauty — which boasts across-the-board gluten free products never tested on animals — and set to retail exclusively at Ulta.

CALL FOR PROJECTS: Luxembourg-Ireland Co-Development Fund for Female Filmmakers
Film Fund Luxembourg and Fís Éireann/Screen Ireland are seeking new co-development feature-length (min. 70’) fiction, documentary, animation or TV projects (dramatic series, animated series or animated movie) which are written and/or directed by women. Deadline: September 10, 2019.

Artist Jahan Loh Addresses Global Warming Crisis with Japanese Animation
The National Museum of Singapore has launched a new series of works by local contemporary artist Loh, titled “Intergalactic Dreams.” The three-part presentation combines a large-scale installation with anime to encourage conversations about global warming, as it envisions a possible future for mankind in a world of rising temperatures and sea levels.

WATCH: Bombay Rose Official Trailer
Official selection of the Venice Int’l Film Critics’ Week and Toronto Int’l Film Festival 2019, Bombay Rose is an animated romance hanging precariously between living on the streets and loving on the screen, Bollywood style. Amidst the struggle for survival in a big city, a red rose brings together three tales of impossible loves. The film is the long-awaited feature debut of India’s leading animator Gitanjali Rao (Printed Rainbow). Produced by Cinestaan Film Co. (India), Les Films d’Ici (France) and Goldfinch (U.K.) Full review from Variety.

Shaq Offers to Pay $ 500 for Original Animations, Updates to $ 10,000 After Backlash
Shaquille O’Neal ruffled creatives’ feathers with the launch of his ShaqToons contest, seeking original animations set to stories from his life for his TNT docuseries Shaq Life. After artists balked at the $ 500 reward (which, admittedly, is better than work “for exposure”), the basketball legend cranked up the compensation, Tweeting: “To all my animators out there, I heart you. I love your work and want you to feel the love.”

Funko POP Disney Villains

Funko POP Disney Villains

Oxenfree

Oxenfree

Animation Magazine

Beloved Animator Richard Williams Passes at Age 86

Beloved animator Richard Williams passed away on Friday evening at age 86 in his home in Bristol. Williams is best known for being the animation director on the 1988 classic Who Framed Roger Rabbit? and creating characters such as Roger and Jessica Rabbit.

Williams, who won three Oscars and three BAFTAS animated the title sequences for the 1970s hits The Return of the Pink Panther and Pink Panther Strikes Again and also worked on Casino Royale. In animation circles, he is also revered for his beautiful, unfinished 1993 feature The Thief and the Cobbler.

He told the BBC that Snow White had made a tremendous impression of him when he saw the movie at age five. “I always wanted, when I was a kid, to get to Disney. I was a clever little fellow so I took my drawings and I eventually got in,” Williams told the BBC in 2008.“They did a story on me, and I was in there for two days, which you can imagine what it was like for a kid.”

In 1958, his first film, The Little Island received a BAFTA. He won his first Oscar in 1971 for his animated adaptation of Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol. Among his other credits are The Sailor and the Devil (1967), Raggedy Ann & Andy: A Musical Adventure (1977) Ziggy’s Gift (1982), Circus Drawings (2010) and Prologue (2015).

During his career, Williams also wrote the hugely popular how-to book The Animator’s Survival Kit. Although he had cancer, he was animating and writing until the day he died according to his daughter Natasha Sutton Williams.

His friend animator and author John Canemaker wrote, “Dick shared with the world his profound love and knowledge of hand-drawn animation and his admiration for those who influenced him (Milt Kahl, Frank Thomas, Art Babbitt, Ken Harris et al). He did so through the example of his films — ALL of them — and by his teachings in the great Survival Kit book and videos that he and his wife, Imogen Sutton, produced, which profoundly influenced modern animation.”

Here’s a 2018 interview with Williams conducted at Annecy:

Richard Williams

Richard Williams

Richard Williams and Roger Rabbit on the cover of Animation Magazine Vol 2 Issue 1

Richard Williams and Roger Rabbit on the cover of Animation Magazine Vol 2 Issue 1

The Cobbler and the Thief

The Cobbler and the Thief

Who Framed Roger Rabbit?

Who Framed Roger Rabbit?

Animation Magazine

Reallusion Launches Cartoon Animator 4, Facial Mocap Plug-in

Reallusion has launched Cartoon Animator 4 (formerly CrazyTalk Animator), the complete professional 2D character system, and it’s new Facial Mocap Plug-in (Motion LIVE 2D), which allows users to animate characters with their own facial expression in real time. In the last decade, Cartoon Animator has been widely used by million-subscriber YouTube channels to online businesses, graphic designers, marketers and award-winning directors.

“Cartoon Animator 4 is one of the most accessible 2D character design and animation tools in the current market for both entry and professional users.” said John C. Martin, VP of Product Marketing, Reallusion. “CTA 4 is a complete 2D character system with tools to design and animate in a new way with a unique motion UI and the industry-breakthrough 2D, 360 degree head creator. Indie, pros and first time animators can apply speed to creativity with a new approach to 2D animation.”

Cartoon Animator 4 is a total 2D animation toolbox that can turn images into animated characters, generate lip-sync animation from audio, accomplish 3D parallax scenes, produce 2D visual effects, access content resources, and wield a comprehensive Photoshop pipeline to rapidly customize and create characters.

With Cartoon Animator’s Facial Mocap Plug-in, anyone can animate character with their facial performances via webcams or an iPhone TrueDepth camera to track expressions with head and eyes movements, and natural body animations driven by head position. This solution is designed for virtual production, performance capture, live TV shows and streaming web broadcasting. Key features include:

  • Real-time Face Tracking via Webcam and/or iPhone Users can utilize any webcam or iPhone X to capture real-time face tracking via Facial Mocap Plug-in, the facial expressions will instantly project onto virtual characters in Cartoon Animator.
  • Head Driven Body Movement During facial mocap, users can also add upper body motions by capturing head movements, blending values, and adjusting arm or forearm rotation that can be directly blended during live performances.
  • Real-time Lip Sync and Audio Recording The Timeline editor can edit motion clips, alter speeds, blend and refine captured phoneme expressions. Turn on the PC microphone for simultaneous audio recording for complete control over talking lip shapes.

The 360 Head Creator streamlines the workflow for head creation and expression setup, while directly applying it to the animation core through face key editing, puppeteering and the timeline system. It transforms static 2D art into 3D-styled characters with up to 360 degrees of motion for deeply rich performances. Artists can also use the Photoshop round trip in/out integration for editing multi-angle characters.

The Smart IK (Inverse Kinematic) Animation’s simple and functional design sets Cartoon Animator apart from other 2D applications, as the intuitive IK/FK system auto-switches for a fluid, and logical workflow. Smart Motion Retargeting correctly applies any motion files to different body shapes, while automatically aligning new characters to the original motion pose.

Cartoon Animator 4 is available for $ 199 (Pipeline edition) or $ 99 (PRO edition). PC/Mac webcam facial tracker is a separate module along with Motion LIVE 2D plug-in ($ 199). More information at www.reallusion.com/cartoon-animator.


Animation Magazine

Famed Disney Animator Don Lusk Dies at 105

The animation community was saddened by the death of longtime Disney and Hanna Barbera animator and director Don Lusk on Sunday at age 105 in San Clemente, Calif. The news of his passing was announced by his friend Navah-Paskowitz Asner on social media yesterday.

Lusk joined the Walt Disney Company at age 20, working on Mickey Mouse shorts for several years. He then went on to work on Disney classics such as Bambi, Pinocchio, Cinderella, Alice in Wonderland, Peter Pan, Lady and the Tramp, Sleeping Beauty and One Hundred and One Dalmatians. He worked on “The Nutcracker Suite” and “Pastoral Symphony” segments of Fantasia.

Lusk left Disney for Hanna-Barbera in 1960, but continued to work as an animator during the 1960s and 1970s. Among his many credits as an animator are Gay Purr-ee (1962), Hey There, It’s Yogi Bear (1964) The Secret Squirrel Show (1965), The Man Called Flintstone (1966), The Atom Ant Show (1966), The New Adventures of Huckleberry Finn (1968), A Boy Named Charlie Brown (1969), The Adventures of Gummi Bears (1990), The Thief and the Cobbler (1993), Captain Planet and the Planeteers (1993) and Mickey’s House of Villains (2001).

He was nominated twice for Daytime Emmys for his work on The Smurfs in 1988 and 1989, and again in 1999 for A Pup Named Scooby-Doo. Lusk received the Winsor McCay lifetime achievement Award at the Annies in 2014.

You can watch Lusk receive his Lifetime Achievement Award here:

Bambi

Bambi

Fantasia

Fantasia

Fantasia

Fantasia

Animation Magazine

Danish Animator Børge Ring Dies at 97

Beloved Danish animator, comic artist and musician Børge Ring has passed away at age 97. Best known for directing the Oscar-winning short Anna and Bella (1984) and the Oscar-nominated Oh My Darling (1978), Ring also worked on an impressive list of animated features, such as Heavy Metal, The Smurfs and the Magic Flute, We’re Back! A Dinosaur’s Story and Lucky Luke: Ballad of the Daltons.

Ring began his career as an animator on Ove Sevel’s 1948 project Tallenes Tale. He was also hired as an animator on Bill Melendez’s famous special It’s the Great Pumpkin Charlie Brown (1966). The talented animator also worked on several Asterix movies, including Asterix and Cleopatra (1968), The Twelve Tasks of Asterix (1976), Asterix in Britain (1986) Asterix and the Big Fight (1989) and Asterix in America (1994). His other notable credits include Valhalla (1986) and Enzo D’Alo’s Momo (2001). Ring collaborated with his wife Joanika on the short Run of the Mill (1999), which tells the story of a man who gets addicted to drugs. The project received the UNICEF Children’s Award the following year.

Ring was also a celebrated comic-book artist — Distel and Kobus en Kachelmans, were two of his best-known titles. He also illustrated several Chip ‘n’ Dale comics for the Dutch version of Donald Duck comics in the 1980s. A talented musician, he also wrote the music for two of his own shorts, Run of the Mill and Oh My Darling.

Ring worked on the animated credits of Blake Edwards’ 1983 movie, Curse of the Pink Panther. His last official credit was as storyboard artist for the 2008 BAF/Lionsgate fairytale mash-up feature Happily N’Ever After. He received the Winsor McCay Lifetime Achievement Award at the Annie Awards in 2012. You can order Ring’s autobiography from his website.

You can watch Anna & Bella, his lovely Oscar-winning short about the life-long relationship between two sisters here.

Anna & Bella

Anna & Bella

Animation Magazine

Animate Projects, Anim18 Select 7 Animator for ‘Untold Tales’

Seven acclaimed animators from around the U.K. have been tapped by Animate Projects and Anim18 to create Untold Tales — a series of micro-shorts commissioned as part of the nationwide British animation celebration Anim18, which is running until December. The selected artists are Jessica Ashman, Leo Crane, Ian Gouldstone, Anushka Kishani Naanayakkara, Osbert Parker & Laurie Hill, and Kate Sullivan.

The films will be launched on Instagram and Vimeo throughout November, beginning with Ashman’s Hold Tight on Tuesday, Nov. 6. They will also screen at London Animation Club the same day.

Each animator brings their distinctive voice and style to the project. Across the six films, the techniques of pixilation, hand-drawn, digital, stop-motion, charcoal and cut-out animation have been employed. Working in collaboration with other creative talents and a range of subjects, the animators reflect on the collective and individual experiences of people living in the U.K. today, resulting in playful, joyful, eye-catching and inspirational shorts to be discovered and shared via Instagram.

The films present an exciting and vibrant collection of stories exploring cultural heritage, historic curiosities, devoted communities, and ways individuals navigate modern life: Leo Crane’s film offers a platform to an adopted child to share his fantastical and hopeful dreams; Ian Gouldstone takes inspiration from the inhabitants of the tower block he resides in; and Osbert Parker and Laurie Hill consider the curious tale of a wasp brought into Victorian society and cultured, and how her treatment reflects on contemporary life today.

Several of the films center on the cultural communities that the animators belong to: Anushka Kishani Naanayakkara reflects on the motivations of visitors to a Buddhist monastery that she frequents; Kate Sullivan invites us into a meeting of the 3D enthusiasts club she takes part in; and Jessica Ashman’s film celebrates the importance of participating in Carnival culture for herself and her peers.

“The animators were approached to pitch ideas for this project, and we were delighted with the range of ideas and techniques that were proposed. These diminutive films attest to the considerable talent and craft of the makers; they are so innovative, lively, thought provoking, and entertaining. It is a joy to be able to work with such great animation talent.” — Abigail Addison, Animate Projects.

“We’re really excited to be working with Animate Projects to commission these new works from such inspiring and talented animators. Throughout Anim18, we’ve seen the love that audiences have for British animation in all its guises, and we look forward to sharing these hidden stories with them on social media and in partner venues across the U.K.” — Sally Griffith, Director of Anim18.

The Untold Tales are available for exhibition, and will be shown together as a single-screen, looping program in the Anim18 newly commissioned VR Gallery at QUAD, Derby, from Nov. 1-Jan. 3, 2019.

Animation Magazine

Croatian Artist, Animator & Director Zlatko Bourek Dies Age 89

Zlatko Bourek

Zlatko Bourek

Zlatko Bourek, animation and live-action filmmaker and sculptor, died Friday, May 11 at age 89. Organizers of Croatian festival Animafest Zagreb, which marked Bourek’s long career with a retrospective program in 2015, shared the news this week.

Born September 4, 1929, in Slavonska Požega, Bourek graduated in sculpture and painting from the Academy of Applied Arts in Zagreb,  in the program co-founded and headed by celebrated figure sculptor Kosta Angeli Radovani. He began his career in animation as a background artist and production designer on films by Dušan Vukoti? and Vatroslav Mimica: Cowboy Jimmy, Happy End, The Inspector Returned Home, At the Photographer’s, as well as the Professor Balthazar series.

As one of the most esteemed representatives of the Zagreb School of Animated Films studio, he began writing his own screenplays in 1960. His films hold a secure place in the annals of Croatian and global animation history: The Blacksmith’s Apprentice, Far Away I Saw Mist and Mud – an adaptation of The Ballads of Petrica Kerempuh by Miroslav Krleža, Captain Arbanas Marko, Schooling, Dinner, puppet film The Married Life of Little Red Riding Hood (Farce), and others. His works Dancing Songs (1966) and The Cat (1971) are widely regarded as masterpieces.

Bourek remained professionally active throughout his life; in 2014, he collaborated with Pavao Štalter on the acclaimed, award-winning film Wiener Blut, which drew its visual inspiration from the art of Georg Grosz and Otto Dix. He also wrote and directed three fiction films: Cirkus Rex, Crvenkapica (Little Red Riding Hood), and Mr. Ventriloquist. Although expressionism served as Bourek’s primary source of inspiration, his work was also influenced by other art movements and styles, like surrealism and pop art. His themes mostly revolved around folklore, literature, the grotesque, and naturalism.

In 2010, he became a full member of the Department of Fine Arts at the Croatian Academy of Sciences and Arts. He received a great number of recognitions in Croatia and abroad, including an annual Vladimir Nazor Award, the Vladimir Nazor Award for Lifetime Achievement, City of Zagreb Award, Premium of the 4th Zagreb Exhibition of Yugoslav Drawings, the 8th Maruli? Days Award; he was also awarded in Oberhausen, Atlanta, Chicago, New York, and Salerno.

Bourek’s numerous works have screened at Animafest Zagreb since its beginnings in the 1970s, building a strong relationship between artist and festival. The 2015 retrospective program was complemented by a screening of his then most recent work, Wiener Blut, which highlights both the scope of Bourek’s career and his unflagging creative spirit.

Zlatko Bourek

Zlatko Bourek

Zlatko Bourek

Zlatko Bourek

Zlatko Bourek

Zlatko Bourek

Animation Magazine

Reallusion Releases Free Platform Cloud Animator

reallusion-150

Reallusion, the leading animation software company internationally recognized for its iClone and CrazyTalk Animator titles, now officially releases a fully online animation platform – Cloud Animator. Cloud Animator dynamically engages with web audiences using an interactive flow of information, motion graphics and animation delivered in a universal HTML5 experience that deploys user’s media on any device. This new animation platform takes a different approach to authoring and sharing from other cloud-based animation services, which are derived from Flash and use HTML5 and with feature video output.

“We envision generating online media marketing differently. With Cloud Animator, we have built a service which gives the best interactive experience for business, education and social media users. They can easily turn their ideas into interactive media, anywhere, in any device,” stated Charles Chen, Reallusion CEO.

Animation and Video blog owner David Arandle commented, “A short, shareable video presentation like this, is a great way to promote a product or service with direct links within the video to more information or the product’s online store page. As you would expect Cloud Animator can import video clips, gif animations, various image formats, audio and more to help you create a unique video presentation about almost anything.”

Cloud Animator features include:

1. Cross device – Focus on Instant Interaction

While navigating from one page to another, designers can link projects to another, or link to their own website via URL. Viewer contact is the key with Cloud Animator and features that allow viewers to directly call a phone number or ask questions via email or instant message templates.

2. Total Ownership – Businesses, Schools, Brands; Close Network, Self-Hosting, Offline Viewing (Digital Signage)

Business users can keep their assets from being held hostage on other vendors’ servers and fully access all projects anytime within Cloud Animator. Branding, privacy, and ownership is always a concern, and the files and projects generated with Cloud Animator are owned by the creator and fully customizable to incorporate any brand identity. By replacing the boring PowerPoint, you can remove the complexity of animation, and effectively aggregate all different media into a one-stop production service.

  • Design templates: use our professional layouts for business applications
  • Create Custom Media: directly drag to upload for in-place editing
  • Collaboration: share and control your projects among different team members

3. Download for Offline Viewing or Self-Hosting

Cloud Animator really serves users by allowing creators to download and host those interactive projects in their own service, or environment without WIFI.

  • Download Project: playback project without an internet connection
  • Offline Use: use script-defined autoplay sequences, and loop options on YouTube videos or your own MPEG4 videos with custom logos
  • Self Host: fully own your project with self-contained player and resource download, independent to any web component

Plans range from the Free version (500MB max storage) to Advanced ($ 5.75 monthly, 5GB max storage) and Business ($ 16.58 monthly, 50GB max storage). Full pricing and plan options available here.

www.reallusion.com/cloudanimator

[Source: Reallusion]

Cloud Animator

Cloud Animator

Animation Magazine

Animator & Voice Actor Bud Luckey Dies Age 83

Bud Luckey

Bud Luckey

William “Bud” Luckey, a multitalented artist and performer who touched many facets of animation, has died at age 83. Among his many credits, Luckey earned an Annie Award and an Academy Award nomination for the Pixar short Boundin’, which he wrote and directed as well as composing the music and performing as the solo singer/narrator. His passing was announced Saturday via Facebook by his son, animation/games producer Andy Luckey.

Born in Billings, Montana in 1934, Luckey served in the Air Force during the Korean War, later serving as an artist-illustrator for NATO in Europe and North Africa and then with Strategic Air Command. After leaving active duty, he was able to use G.I. Bill benefits to attend Chouinard Art Institute (later to become CalArts). As a Disney scholar, Luckey received professional animation training at USC with Art Babbitt, and went to work for him at Quartet Films after graduating.

Luckey’s early animator jobs included The Alvin Show (1961). Through the 1960s, he worked as an art director and producer for the Guild, Bascom & Bonfigli Agency in San Francisco on commercials featuring memorable characters such as Tony the Tiger (Frosted Flakes), Toucan Sam (Froot Loops), the Peanuts gang (for Dolly Madison) and others — he won a Clio Award in 1966. During this time he worked with figures such as Charles Schulz and Bill Melendez, Rocky & Bullwinkle creator Alex Anderson, Jim Henson and Don Hadley, a lifelong friend with whom Luckey co-created numerous Sesame Street shorts.

Luckey wrote and animated many shorts for Sesame Street though the 1970s, and he often provided the voices himself. He founded his Luckey-Zamora animation company in the early part of the decade, which became the Bay Area’s largest toon studio in the ’70s and ’80s — the company later merged with Colossal Pictures. He also worked on Charles Swenson & Fred Wolf’s 1977 feature The Mouse and His Child.

The man that John Lasseter would later describe as “one of the unsung heroes of animation” joined Pixar Animation Studios in 1992, working as an animator, character designer and story artist on Toy Story, and would go on to design beloved characters for A Bug’s Life, Monsters, Inc., Finding Nemo, Cars, Ratatouille, WALL-E, Up and two further Toy Story adventures (you can hear him as the voice of Chuckles the clown in TS3). His Annie-winning, Oscar-nominated short Boundin’ was released in 2003 to screen ahead of The Incredibles.

Andy Luckey states in his post that in lieu of the flowers, the family encourages donations to the California Institute of the Arts Bud Luckey Scholarship Fund.

Boundin'

Boundin’

Woody concept art

Woody concept art

Bud Luckey

Bud Luckey

Animation Magazine

‘Underdog’ Animator Joe Harris Dies at 89

Joe Harris

Joe Harris

The advertising artist who brought to life some of the most iconic cartoon characters of the mid-20th century, Joe Harris, died March 26 at his home in Stamford, Connecticut, Deadline reports. Harris was best known for creating the cereal-sneaking Trix Rabbit, and for The Underdog Show he created with Total Television. He was 89 years old.

Harris first put the Trix Rabbit on paper in the 1950s in an ad for the multicolored General Mills cereal, with the phrase “Silly rabbit! Trix are for kids!” — a catch phrase that has been part of the American lexicon for decades.

The illustrator made the move into animation with his writing and producing partners Chet Stover, “Buck” Biggers and Treadwell Covington, forming Total Television in 1959 (later Leonardo Productions) with the aim of creating cartoons that blurred the line between entertainment and kid-targeted advertising. The studio began releasing series in 1960, churning out Saturday morning toons including King Leonardo and His Short Subjects, Tooter Turtle, The Beagles and Tennessee Tuxedo over the next several years.

Total Television’s biggest hit was Underdog, which debuted on NBC in 1964 and followed a mild-mannered pup known as Shoeshine Boy, who transformed into the superhero Underdog in order to come to the aid of his sweetheart Polly Purebred and fend off evildoers like Simon Bar Sinister and Riff Raff.

Harris designed many of the studio’s best loved characters, and also served as a storyboard artist and producer on series. He also worked on the music for several of the shows, and is credited with co-writing the catchy Underdog theme song. Underdog made a come-back in the 2007 live-action Disney movie, for which Harris penned a couple new songs.

Daughter Merrie Harris announced her father’s passing on Instagram, writing “May heaven be a big studio.” Harris is survived by Merrie and her sisters Joelle Malec and Sophie Harris.

The Underdog Show

The Underdog Show

Animation Magazine

Animator & Voice Actor Clay Martin Croker Dies at 54

Clay Martin Croker

Clay Martin Croker

Adult Swim animator and voice actor C. Martin Croker, best known for playing disgruntled pseudo-villains Zorak and Moltar on animated talk show spoof Space Ghost Coast to Coast, has died age 54. The news was broken online by colleagues including parody rapper MC Chris and Adult Swim creative director Jason DeMarco. Adult Swim tweeted his photo with an RIP message on Sunday.

Born in Atlanta, Georgia, Croker began working for Turner Broadcasting in the early 1990s, animating promos for the “TNT Toons” Hanna-Barbera block, going on to design and animate bumpers for Cartoon Network during its 1998 rebranding. While a key member of the animation crew on Space Ghost Coast to Coast — directing 92 episodes — he began voicing characters, contributing on multiple fronts to the dawn of the Adult Swim block.

In addition to Zorak and Moltar — roles he continued to reprise on spin-off series Cartoon Planet and The Brak Show and other related project through 2014 — Croker provided the voice of Dr. Weird and Steve the assistant on Aqua Teen Hunger Force and its feature film outing in 2007. Other voice credits include Cartoon Network’s Sunday Pants and Perfect Hair Forever, and as an animator he worked on Comedy Central’s Ugly Americans.

Clay Martin Croker

Clay Martin Croker

Animation Magazine

Studio Ghibli Animator Makiko Futaki Dies Age 57

Studio-Ghibli-150

Makiko Futaki, a long time Japanese feature animator whose most recent work was on Hiromasa Yonebayashi’s When Marnie Was There, died May 13 of an “unspecified illness,” according to The Hollywood Reporter. She was 57 years old.

Futaki had worked at Studio Ghibli for over 30 years, beginning her stint with the legendary animation house in 1981. She worked on every one of director Hayao Miyazaki’s films following Nausicaa of the Valley of the Wind (for which, according to a Twitter user named Hyun Park, she handled the baby Omu scene).

Futaki was a key animator on Miyazaki’s Princess Mononoke and Kiki’s Delivery Service. Her animation career began with the classic Lupin III feature and she also was a key animator on Katsuhiro Otomo’s legendary Akira (1988) and worked on Hiroyuki Yamaga’s Royal Space Force: The Wings of Honneamise (1987).

Ben Ettinger’s AniPages blog gives an admiring account of Futaki’s work, saying that she “tends to be given scenes that demand an eye for intricate and delicate motion, and she packs tremendous nuance into her scenes with lush and fluid animation.” The artist’s passing was honored with a private family funeral earlier this month.

When Marnie Was There

When Marnie Was There

Animation Magazine

Cancer Claims Hungarian Animator Andras Erkel

Andras Erkel

Andras Erkel

Animator Andras Erkel, founder of Hungary-based Studio Baestarts, died Dec. 29 from brain cancer. He was 52.

Erkel started his animation career in the 1980s, producing a series of claymation shorts starting with Augusta Makes Herself Beautiful. Erkel and international filmmaker Csaba Varga co-founded in 1988 Varga Studio, which was the first private animation studio in Hungary.

Erkel’s international career kicked into high gear in 1990 when he produced the Simpsons music video Do the Bartman for Klasky-Csupo and Fox. That was followed by several TV and direct-to-video projects with MTV, HBO, Klasky-Csupo, Golden Books, Disney, Warner Bros. and National Geographic, among others in the United States, and with the BBC, ITV, HIT, Nickelodeon, Cartoon Network, ZDF, WDR and Svensk Film in Europe.

Between 2000 and 2003 he was one of the producers of the animated television series Mr. Bean, which was co-produced by and produced at Varga Studio.

In 2004, he founded Studio Baestarts, which has produced short films, commercials and various other projects. Its most notable projects include: Log Jam, which won the Annecy Cristal in the TV category and was nominated for BAFTA in 2009; and Lena, named Best Experimental Film at 41st Hungarian Film Week in 2010.

Erkel died at his home surrounded by his loved ones. If people would like to send comments and thoughts, ?his assistant Forat’s email is: [email protected].

Log Jam

Log Jam

Animation Magazine

‘Fritz’ Animator, Director Taylor Dies

Robert Taylor

Robert Taylor

Animator Robert Taylor – best known as the animator on Ralph Bakshi’s original Fritz the Cat feature and director and animator of its sequel — died Dec. 11 due to complications from Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease. He was 70.

Born in Boston, Taylor began working in animation in 1966 at Terrytoons with Ralph Bakshi in New York, later moving out to Los Angeles to work on Fritz the Cat, the first X-rated animated feature.

Taylor directed the sequel, The Nine Lives of Fritz the Cat, which was the first animated film to compete at Cannes for the Palme D’Or in 1974.

He also worked with Bakshi on Heavy Traffic, Coonskin and Wizards.

He directed the animated feature film Heidi’s Song in 1982 and then went to work in TV animation on such shows as Talespin, Ducktales and Challenge of the GoBots. He won a primetime Emmy Award in 1991 for his work on Talespin.

He was the uncredited, but widely acknowledged co-director of Rock Odyssey (1987), a controversial Hanna Barbera feature film tracing American history through a talking jukebox that was shelved after one public viewing for being “too outrageous” and graphic.

Additionally, Bob was an accomplished jazz guitarist, and he continued to play well into retirement.

Taylor is survived by five children and three grandchildren.

A memorial service is planned for 10 a.m. Dec. 20 at Oakwood Cemetery in Chatsworth, Calif., and is open to any and all who wish to attend. Burial will follow the service.

Fritz the Cat

Fritz the Cat

Animation Magazine

Pittsburg Animator Leland Hartman Dies at 82

Former Disney and Warner Bros. animator Leland “Lee” Hartman passed away at a nursing facility in Glen Hazel, PA on Dec. 24. He was diagnosed with dementia six years ago, shortly after losing his wife of 50 years, Elizabeth Hartman.

A former Navy veteran, Hartman worked at Disney Studios after studying at the Art Institute of Pittsburgh. At Disney, he worked on the The Mickey Mouse Club TV series, Les Clark’s 1958 short Paul Bunyan, and the 1959 feature Sleeping Beauty. Upon his return to Pittsburgh, he also taught animation at the city’s Ivy School of Professional Art. He also directed numerous local animated commercials from the 1960s all the way to the 1990s, according to Joe Wos, executive director of Pittsburgh’s ToonSeum.

“A special source of pride to his family was a film he wrote, animated, produced and later sold called, The Story of the Christmas Toys, a labor of love ten years,” says Wos.

In the early 1990s, Hartman worked as a character layout artist on the Warner Bros. series Tiny Toon Adventures. Hartman also played a reporter/ghoul in the 1958 horror classic Night of the Living Dead.

Night of the Living Dead

Night of the Living Dead

“Lee often had strangers knock on his door to get his autograph because of the film’s huge cult following, and he always happily accommodated,” recalls Wos. “Lee was also known for other unusual creative pursuits, such as designing and building boats from scratch in his backyard – first a paddle boat, then a working replica of the Columbus ship, La Pinta.”

Hartman also published a collection of short stories titled The Darkendown Tales in 1997.

Part of Hartman’s art collection was donated to The Heinz History Center to be added to its archives. Most of the collection will be archived at the ToonSeum of Pittsburgh. A memorial service is also being planned at the ToonSeum for a later date. In lieu of flowers, donations can be sent to the Toonseum and/or the Heinz History Center to help preserve his legacy. (www.toonseum.org).

Leland Hartman

Leland Hartman

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