Batman turns 75 this year (and yet, riddle us this, Adam West just turned 86), and the U.S. Postal Service is celebrating with—you guessed it—stamps! The collaboration with Warner Bros. Consumer Products and DC Entertainment debuted last week in Gotham City at the Batcave-like Javits Center, where legions of Batfans had conveniently already gathered for Comic Con. There was no mention of Robin. The stamps, a limited-edition Forever affair (which only sounds oxymoronic) now available at a post office near you and on the USPS website, follow the Caped Crusader and his trusty Bat emblem, through four eras of comic book history.
“There actually is a prehistoric giant sloth on the campus of the college I went to, Ohio State. I think it was vandalized sometime in the last couple of years, but I think they repaired it since then. I can’t remember which school it’s a part of. I want to say it’s the geology school. Whatever museum it’s in, a lot of the signage and a lot of the exhibits kind of feel like these leftovers from the ’70s and ’80s. It just always felt a little out of step with modern times. It just kind of had this very particular vibe that really stuck with me. But I didn’t really have the idea for the actual story….There was always something about the giant sloth, just being this creature that its modern day equivalent is so puny and so inconsequential. It’s funny, when I mention the film to some people, they’re like, ‘Oh, that’s funny, like a giant sloth.’ I’m like, ‘No, there really were giant sloths.’ A lot of people aren’t even necessarily aware of them. They were these gigantic, huge, powerful things the size of bears. So there was always a metaphor there in the back of my head.”
-Paul Hornschemeier on the slothful inspiration for his animated feature-in-the-making, Giant Sloth, starring Paul Giamatti as an insane museum curator
Picture it: A Fellini- and Buñuel-flavored tale of a museum curator grappling with dwindling visitor numbers, harsh economic realities, his crumbling sanity, and…a giant sloth! We were sold on the premise of graphic novelist Paul Hornschemeier‘s planned animated short film even before learning that the crazy curator, one Gordon Boonewell, will be voiced by Paul Giamatti. Saturday Night Live‘s dazzling Kate McKinnon has also signed on to the project, entitled Giant Sloth, which Hornschemeier is looking to fund through a freshly launched Kickstarter campaign.
“Uncompromised by the studio process, Giant Sloth combines the psychologically rich world of literary graphic novels with the all the possibilities of motion and sound that animation allows,” notes Hornschemeier. “It treats its characters not as clowns shuffling for an easy laugh, but as people. And as giant sloths. Giant sloths are people too.”
It’s experimental animation! It’s pottery! Stop, you’re both right! Watch the creations of Devon, England-based Ramp Ceramics (that stands for “Roop & Al make Pots”) come alive in this film by Jim Le Fevre, Mike Paterson, and the aforementioned Rupert (“Roop”) and Alice (“Al”) Johnstone. The production was commissioned by the UK’s Crafts Council.
Holocaust survivor Ben Baseman spent four years fighting off Nazis in the birch forests of what was then Poland (now part of Ukraine). Decades later, the episode inspired his son, Gary, to create the Buckingham Warrior, a “defender of strong ideals and a stark reminder to the fragility of our own ecology.” The artist, illustrator, and cult toy maker’s multi-headed deer character comes alive in a new MOCAtv animated short released to coincide with Baseman’s megashow, “The Door Is Always Open,” on view through August 18 at the Skirball Cultural Center in Los Angeles. Directed by David Charles and animated by Peter Markowski, the allegorical tale plays out against a raging score by the South-African rap-rave duo Die Antwoord.
Design legend Saul Bass would have turned 93 today, and Google is celebrating his creative legacy with one of its most elaborate daily “doodles” yet. Visit the search giant’s homepage before midnight to see and watch the tribute, an animated riff on some of Bass’s most well-known film titles, including those for The Man With the Golden Arm, Anatomy of a Murder, and Around the World in 80 Days. And turn those speakers up, because this doodle is in stereo, set to Dave Brubeck‘s “Unsquare Dance.”
The Science Channel, our source for the highly unscientific adventures of misanthropic savant Karl Pilkington, has marshaled the forces of CGI animation for Strip the City. The new six-part series aims to “strip major cities naked of their steel, concrete, air, ocean, and bedrock–layer by layer, act by act–to explore their hidden infrastructure and solve key mysteries surrounding their origins, geology, archaeology, industry, weather, and engineering.” First up on the stripping block (pole?) is San Francisco, where thare’s fire-fighting water in them thar valleys. Take a sip of your urbane beverage every time someone says “plate tectonics.” Watch a clip below and tune in to Science on Tuesday nights for new episodes that will dramatically dislodge the infrastructure of the likes of Sydney, London, and Toronto.
London continues to try and ramp up its coolness levels with the impending Olympics being held there this summer now just around the corner. For the latest effort, they’ve gone underground. Launched just yesterday in a number of Tube subway stations is a collaboration between poetry and motion graphics called “Word In Motion.” As part of the Smile for London campaign, the project blends the two, with writing from the likes of Ray Davies and Jarvis Cocker, and design by groups like Why Not Associates and Malcolm Garrett, the short pieces will play on 60 screens during rush hours. The project launched on the 16th and will only last for the next two weeks, so while Olympics visitors won’t be treated to them, they’ll perhaps provide a welcome bit of relief from the locals who have been overwhelmed by construction delays over these past couple of years. Here’s a sampling:
Back in December, to mark the debut of the newly-opened Cosmopolitan Hotel in Las Vegas, IFC Films was hired to make six short films/commercials profiling some of people and firms involved in the lavish luxury hotel’s development. We were particularly keen back then to talk up the first of them, which featured celebrated designer David Rockwell, who handled the design of many/most of the room interiors. Now we’re back to being keen again, with the fourth in the series, which profiles the work of production house Digital Kitchen in creating a number of video-based columns in the hotel’s lobby. They’re absolutely stunning, and we say that not just because we’re pals with the guy being interviewed about them (full disclosure: this writer has known him for years and now works at the same place he used to work). DK has put up some behind-the-scenes info on the project, as well as watchable versions of each of the panels. And here’s the IFC-produced video:
“The lines are blurring now on what makes an animated film. There was a time when all studios wanted to do was make live-action versions of animated cartoons. Now animation is sneaking in through the back door. Avatar is one of the most successful films of all time. It’s not considered animation, but it really is. As much as the actors did perform in it, there were animators keyframing it.”
-Megamind director Tom McGrath at The Hollywood Reporter‘s animation roundtable, held earlier this month at Siren Studios
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