February 8th, 2016

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JOIN ANIMATION RESOURCES TODAY and download Reference Pack 1!

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Animation Resources
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Sample Reference Pack

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Every other month, Animation Resources members are given access to a high resolution e-book and two DVD quality animated films, curated by the Board of Animation Resources. Over the next couple of weeks, we will be rerunning all of the Reference Packs from 2015, so if you join now, you will get two years worth of members benefits for the price of one. As an added bonus, everyone who joins before March 2016 will be considered a Charter Member, and their dues will never be increased.

We hope you will choose to become a member of Animation Resources. We are making the first Reference Pack public, so everyone can get a sample of the great treasures members get to download every other month. Below are the links to the sample Reference Pack. To download the files, RIGHT CLICK on the link (Mac users OPTION CLICK) and select SAVE TO DISK. We are delivering high resolution files to you. When you click, it might take several minutes to finish the download, so please be patient. If the link doesn’t work, refresh this page and try again.


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PDF E-BOOK:
Plastic Man

Jack Cole’s
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Plastic Man
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Issues Nos. 1, 2 & 3 (1943)

Jack Cole’s “Plastic Man” debuted in Police Comics in 1941 and was an immediate hit. Cole’s offbeat humor and Plastic Man’s ability to take any shape gave the cartoonist the opportunities to experiment with text and graphics in groundbreaking manner, helping to define the medium’s vocabulary, and making the idiosyncratic character one of the few enduring classics from the Golden Age to modern times. Plastic Man gained his own title in 1943.

This PDF e-book contains the first three issues of Plastic Man comics and includes a biography of Jack Cole. It is optimized for display on the iPad or printing two up with a cover on 8 1/2 by 11 inch paper.

REFPACK001: PLASTIC MAN PDF
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Adobe PDF File / 183 Pages
245.5 MB Download


DVD QUALITY VIDEO:
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Private Snafu Gas

REFPACK001: Private Snafu in Gas
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Army/Navy Screen Magazine (1944)

The Private Snafu training cartoons were produced by Warner Bros for the War Department during WWII. “Gas”, which deals with the importance of having an operating gas mask handy, was directed by Chuck Jones and written by Ted “Dr Seuss” Geisel. The voices were by Mel Blanc and Billy Bletcher.

REFPACK001: PRIVATE SNAFU in GAS
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M4V Video File / 4:43
77.5 MB Download

This DVD quality MP4 file is provided courtesy of Thunderbean Animation and is included on Private Snafu Golden Classics.


DVD QUALITY VIDEO:
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Van Beuren Circus Capers

Aesop’s Fables: Circus Capers
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Van Beuren Studios (1930)

Disney admitted that in the 1920s, his goal was to produce cartoons as good as the Aesops Fables series. However after the Fables introduced a boy and girl mouse that bore a strong resemblance to Mickey and Minnie, Disney filed suit and had the cartoons pulled from theaters. This cartoon is one of the most blatant Mickey ripoffs, and one of the funniest.

REFPACK001: CIRCUS CAPERS
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M4V Video File / 9:13
230.5 MB Download

This DVD quality MP4 file is provided courtesy of Thunderbean Animation and is included on Uncensored Animation from Van Beuren.


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Posted by Stephen Worth @ 12:34 pm

February 8th, 2016

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Website Back! Membership Drive Starts Today!

Animation Resources has been experiencing problems with our DNS. It made it impossible to reach our web page, but it has now been corrected. It will take a half a day or so for the correction to get out there to the whole internet. I will be starting the Membership Drive today, so you still have a chance to join and get all of the Reference Pack Downloads from 2015 AND 2016 for the price of one year’s membership. Thanks for your patience!

Please help spread the word! If you are a member of the creative community, you should be a member of Animation Resources!

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Posted by Stephen Worth @ 9:36 am

February 5th, 2016

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Theory: Retro Cartoons Are A Dead End

Retro cartoons are a dead end

Last night at our Animation Resources screening, some of the students from Laguna College of Art and Design asked me what I thought of “retro cartoons”. Everyone assumes that because I know a lot about old cartoons, I must think that old fashioned cartoons are the way to go today. I surprised them by saying that I think retro cartoons are a complete dead end.

Irish cops, candlestick telephones and hobos with all their belongings wrapped in a hankerchief on a stick may have been relevant to audiences sometime in the distant past, but today, they are just empty archetypes- symbols that have no real world connection any more. I love Fleischer’s “Minnie the Moocher” and “Snow White”, but that music has absolutely no relevance to contemporary young people, and the primary reason these cartoons are so much fun today is because the passage of time has obliterated the topical contexts of the gags and just left behind puzzling, surreal non-sequiturs. The Queen’s face turns into frying pans and skeletons sing about 20 dollar gold pieces on their watch chains… These things seem weird and otherworldly to us because people today don’t say phrases like “She was so mad her eyes looked like fried eggs” and we don’t know that if your dead body has a 20 dollar gold piece on the watch chain it means you didn’t leave behind any debts for your heirs. What’s the point of doing a WWII A card gas rationing gag today, or using character designs based on caricatures of celebrities that died half a century ago? References like that just serve to distance the audience from the characters and draw them out of the story being told.

Making retro cartoons is like dressing up in your grandfather’s suit and pretending to be him. You may superficially resemble him, but your grandmother isn’t going to be fooled. But the biggest obstacle by far is competing with golden age artists on a quality level- that is VERY hard, and competing with them on their own playing field is absolutely impossible. The best you can hope to achieve through imitation is “almost as good as the original”.

Characters like Bugs Bunny and Mickey Mouse were fantastic in their day. Audiences connected with them and the artists creating them were expressing aspects of their own personalities. But “reboots” of NEW Bugs Bunny and NEW Mickey Mouse cartoons don’t connect with contemporary audiences the same way, and the artists making them struggle to psychically channel a character that represented their great-grandfather’s time, not their own. I produced a retro cartoon myself, and I am proud of it, but the things I admire most about it are the NEW ideas the director brought to the classic characters. The elements we were able to recreate from the original cartoons are the least successful things about the cartoons. In retrospect, I think we would have been better off doing a story using original characters.

Nostalgia for the past isn’t just a problem for fans of classic cartoons from the 30s and 40s. Many students at animation schools think like fans, not like film makers. If you ask a fan what kind of cartoon he or she would make if they could make any film they want, they describe styles that they have seen before… 90s Disney, Anime, the “wacky” TV cartoons they grew up with… But if you ask a film maker what kind of cartoon he or she would like to make, they speak in terms of ideas. Nostalgia is a very strong pull on young artists. The cartoons they grew up with were probably the inspiration for wanting to become an animator in the first place, but the first thing they must do to become a film maker is to leave those things in the past and move forward serving their own creative muse.

Too many animation students come out of college unable to make the leap from thinking like a fan to thinking like an artist. They cling to nostalgia for their childhood favorites and are unable to function in a workplace that isn’t working in that style any more. Racking up $100,000 in student loans to gain an education in how to draw Sonic the Hedgehog or Animaniacs, or to design characters in the style of Fox & the Hound is a good way to go straight from cap and gown to Starbucks apron. Sadly the vast majority of animation school graduates never realize this until they are out of school and discover that they are unemployable. Schools are producing scores of professional animation fans, and very few professional animators. The fault for this lies not just with the schools, but also with the students who won’t let go of style and study fundamentals.

There is a LOT to be learned from old cartoons, but all of the value embedded in old cartoons to today’s animators lies in the TECHNIQUE, not the content. Whenever someone does a retro cartoon, they always end up getting that totally backwards. They emulate gags, situations and characters from the old cartoons and animate them using the same cheap current animation shortcuts. Instead, they should be using totally new and relevant gags, situations and characters and animating them using the techniques and fundamentals of classic animation. If someone finally figures that out and makes a cartoon using that theory, they stand a chance of creating a film that is BETTER than classic cartoons, not just “almost as good”.

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Posted by Stephen Worth @ 12:06 pm