Hayao Miyazaki: His FIlms In His Own Words

Hayao Miyazaki imageEmpire Magazine has a surprisingly insightful interview with Hayao Miyazaki which contains his own thoughts on his movies over the last 30 years or so.

Well worth a read for choice quotes like this:

Why did the lead character have to be female? Well, it doesn’t look truthful if the guy has power like that! Women are able to straddle both the real world and the other world — like mediums…..It isn’t the swordplay that Nausicäa is good at, it’s that she understands both the human world and the insect world. No animals feel danger in approaching her; she’s able to totally erase her sense of presence, existence. Males, they are aggressive, only in the human sphere — very shallow! (Laughs) So it had to be a female character.

H/T to Eddie White for tipping me off with his tweet 🙂

It’s Now 10 Years Since the World Was First Spirited Away

 Via: Inside Pulse

Today marks ten whole years since Studio Ghibli first shared Spirited Away with the world. Thus far it is the only foreign film to win the Academy Award for Best Animated Feature, which says a lot about it and its success with foreign audiences.

Spirited Away is one of my favourite films for the simple reason that it has a lot going for it. A great coming-of-age story, a quirky yet layered set of characters, fantastic animation that stays true to traditional methods while incorporating digital technology and a superb score by Joe Hisaishi all combine to make it a very enjoyable film yet at the same time remain an emotional tale.

Its hard to believe its now 10 years old but it is. A true testament to the deftness and skill of Miyazaki and Studio Ghibli. John Lasseter also deserves an honourable mention for handling the better than usual English dub.

Oliver Good over at The National has a nice write-up on how Spirited Away helped break the mould for Japanese movies.

 

 

Patrick Stewart Likes Animation

Telling The Wrap, Stewart says:

Right now my feeling is that the greatest innovations in cinema are being made in the world of animation. There’s such a diversity of work that’s being done. So when there’s a chance to take part in this new wave of great filmmaking, I like to take part in it.

He gets a free pass on the whole “celebrity voice-actor” thing because he is, in fact, a great actor in the classical sense who can add just as much to a performance with his voice as his movements.

Animation Operations and Supply Chain Management

Apologies for the profoundly boring title. Knock off the ‘animation’ at the front and you pretty much have the class I’m taking right now. It’s basically about operation decision-making within a company and how to manage the supply chain of a business (don’t get too excited, it’s an entry level course).

Therese Trujillo and Eric Robles of the Frederator/Nickelodeon Production fanboy & ChumChum with the show's schedule behind them.

It got me thinking though, when it comes to animation, the supply chain is somewhat flexible yet inflexible at the same time. It’s flexible in that if you have a bunch of great artists who can crack on with the job and churn out exactly what you’re looking for, then you might be able to squeeze things a wee bit and wrap up early. If you run into delays, that sends a shockwave down the rest of the production pipeline.

Right now, we’re looking at shoes and how they are ordered months in advance of the season for which they are intended. Not too different from animation, eh? The interesting thing about the three cases we’re looking at (Crocs, ECCO and New Balance) is that all three take quite a different approach to their manufacturing and supply chain (outsourced but flexible, vertically integrated and some outsourcing but some manufacturing in the US).

Perhaps surprisingly, animation, really has developed supply chain-wise since the hayday of Hollywood. Things have changed dramatically since then, what with the off-shoring of the actual animation in the 70s and all, but we have gradually seen a return to the rather flexible nature of doing everything in-house.

The introduction of Flash certainly helped as it made animating in the US cost-comparable. Secondly, the internet has meant that the cost benefits of off-shoring or outsourcing can be had without sacrificing the immediacy of working in a studio. Daily production can be supervised closely from the other side of the planet without much effort.

My point is that while the animation industry has not seen the kind of seismic changes (such as off-shoring) in quite a few years, there have nonetheless been advances in how animated films and TV shows are created. Increased efficiencies in this area have only lead to better quality content and lowered (relative) production costs. Just something to keep in mind.

4 Reasons Why Everyone Ought To Watch Rango

Via: Digital Trends

1. The Setting

What’s better than the Wild West, the real Wild West? There’s no shortage of dust, wind or outlaws that liven up the film no end.

2. The Plot

If you thought Wall-E had an environmental/political bent you were dead wrong. There’s nothing more topical at the moment than water and governmental control, or rather, the corrupt nature of it. The movie has an interesting take on it as it uses water as a form of currency, thereby firmly underlining its importance.

3. The Characters

Yes, they’re a nod to Hunter S. Thompson (who makes a cameo appearance) but our eponymous hero is indeed the star of the show. Despite appearing off-kilter, Johhny Depp puts much effort into the performance, the audience’s attention is drawn away from his voice and focused much more on the character himself. Wildly flamboyant and superbly layered, Rango is the star of the show.

The supporting cast is altogether flatter, however that would be the case of any character, save a Mel Brooks creation, when placed beside Rango. The writers at least manage to conceal the true story behind Beans until later in the film, which sets up her confrontation with the Mayor. Again, he’s pretty much a stock villain, although his menace is conveyed through political means rather than physical ones, a much more realistic portrayal. Public enemy Rattlesnake Jake gives the whole setup the hint of evil that it needs to feel realistic.

4. The Laughs

Such wonderful complex humour! hardly a fart joke in sight and the fact that our hero manages to set up so many of them is even more joyful to watch. Rango uses altogether more subtle humour than even Pixar has managed lately and for that, the writers should be commended. I dare say they have raised the bar for animated humour at the theatrical level.

 

Canadian Court Upholds Animator’s Copyright Claim Against Cinar

The Montreal Gazette is reporting that Quebec Court of Appealhas upheld a previous ruling against Cinar (the forerunner to Cookie Jar). The case involves Claude Robinson and a series he created called Les aventures de Robinson Curiosité. After trying to sell the series with Cinar to other production studios and without any success, Claude was astonished to discover that Cinar had launched their own series, Robinson Sucroé.

After a 14 year legal wrangle, the court has awarded him damages that although far below what was originally awarded, still amount to CA$5.2 million, which breaks down as follows (as listed in the CBC’s story):

  • $607,000 for copyright infringement.
  • $1.7 million for profits earned by Cinar and other broadcasting companies.
  • $400,000 for psychological distress.
  • $1 million in exemplary damages.
  • $1.5 million for legal fees.

While this sounds like the nightmare of just about every artist out there, it is important to remember that cases such as this one are extremely rare. Fourteen years is long, even in the legal world, and a settlement is most likely to be hammered out long ago instead.

Did Robinson have a case? I haven’t seen any images from the offending shows, but assuming he’s not an eejit, he will have properly and sufficiently developed his show before presenting it to Cinar. He will also have gone through all the legal hoops to get a development deal with them if he did. The Gazette article mentions attempting to sell the concept in the US, so I’m sure he was on board with a contract of some sort.

Why Cinar felt the need to copy the guys show, I don’t know. According to the Wikipedia article on the firm, it has been engaged in shady dealings before, so perhaps this is not a surprise. What is surprising is that they went ahead with it anyway, it should not have been all that difficult or costly to simply acquire the original property and tweak it into the new one thereby saving everyone a bunch of time, money and hassle.

As you know, the entertainment industry is full of such lawsuits (most of which get thrown out) but a few make it through to trial. Copying an idea is extraordinarily difficult to prove in court, which is why most studios don’t even want to take the chance and refuse unsolicited scripts. The vast majority will purchase a concept and develop it themselves to prevent such lawsuits. Studios aren’t stupid but that will try to minimize costs, and acquiring a concept may fall into the category of ‘unnecessary’.

Again, it is imperative that when developing an idea, you take all the precautions necessary to save yourself and the studio from a legal headache such as this.

We Are People People Music Video

Here’s a cute little music video from the Australian Band The People People.

Directed by Maik Hempel with colour design by Adele K. Thomas. Their colour scripts are well worth having a peek at too (example below).

American 3D Audiences Have It Lucky

Not animation-related per se, but relevant to movie-going nonethless. While over beyond, we went to see the last installment of the Harry Potter series. While the film was awesome, the presentation was not. The reason? It’s all about the goggles.

Below are the Dolby goggles we were handed for the presentation.

Via: Ubergizmo

Below is the warning printed on the side. Yes, you’re 3D surcharge doesn’t seem to cover the goggles and there are shoplifter-like security gates at the cinema to ensure that you don’t “accidentally” take them home with you.

Via: Video Technology

My real beef though, is how they sat on my face (not very well and after half an hour, my ears were killing me) and the fact that they are not nearly as large as the ones offered by RealD, which at least have lenses large enough to cover most prescription glasses.

Via: Celluloid Junkie

So all in all, it was by far my worst 3D experience to date. It just proves how poorly managed the  gimmick is but as bad as it is here in the US, there are those that have it much worse.