Tünde In my last post, I gave a rather chatty, scrapbook-style report of the recent Society for Animation Studies conference at the University of Southern California, in Los Angeles. Now, Tünde Vollenbroek, whose first SAS conference it was, provides a more substantive account, including a few kind words about the paper my wife, Vickie, and I wrote. I must say I very much enjoyed Tünde’s presentation about her delightful graduation film, Flashing By; she’s pictured above right afterwards, with M. Javad Khajavi sitting behind her.
July 24th, 2013 · Animation conferences
July 3rd, 2013 · Animation conferences
I recently returned from a week in Los Angeles, which was mostly spent at the Society for Animation Studies conference, which was hosted this year by the University of Southern California’s John C. Hench Division of Animation & Digital Arts (part of its School of Cinematic Arts). Congratulations are in order to Lisa Mann, Christine Panushka and Kathy Smith of USC for being such gracious hosts; kudos are also in order for the Society’s continuing leadership, which seems to get along just fine, thank you, without my butting in.
The conference was something of a homecoming for me, as I got my M.A. in Cinema and Ph.D. in Communications (Film Studies) at USC. The Cinema program and facilities have changed considerably since I first went there in the 1960s, when it was only one of two schools in the country that offered a PhD in film (the other was Northwestern). I struggled through their production-oriented program, which eventually stood me in good stead in pursing my real interest, which was film and TV studies. At the time, there was only one full-time animation professor, Herb Kosower, who, I believe was one of the founders of ASIFA-Hollywood and seems to have served as mentor for George Lucas and John Milius.
USC’s animation program did not gain much traction until the 1970s, when an MFA in the field under Gene Coe was finally offered; however, it was only when experimental filmmaker and educator Vibeke Sorensen was hired to become Chair of the new Division of Animation and Digital Arts in 1994 did it gain much traction. (Sorenson, pictured at right [with Donald Crafton, University of Notre Dame, in background] showed up from her current gig as Chair, School of Art, Design and Media, Nanyang Technological University, Singapore. By the way, she was a pioneer in using motion capture before the term became a dirty word. )
I dropped out of USC in 1968 after I got my MA and returned in 1979 to finish my PhD. By that time, Lucas had helped fund a new building ostensively modeled after the funky bungalow-style facilities of yore; the new building didn’t really prove satisfactory, so Lucas then funded a new building complex, where the conference was held. (The new facilities do seem to be an improvement.)
Given USC’s high-powered connections to the industry, it was perhaps not surprising that DreamWorks Animation’s Jeffrey Katzenberg spoke (via video) at the opening reception (after all, the Marilyn and Jeffrey Katzenberg Center for Animation was just next door). This was followed by a live talk by Bill Damaschke, the studio’s Chief Creative Officer. (DreamWorks previously sponsored Donald Crafton’s keynote address at the 2002 SAS conference held at Glendale’s Brand Library, which was presented at the studio itself.)
The other glamour speaker, so to speak, was actor Geena Davis, who spoke strongly about the work of the Geena Davis Institute on Gender in Media. In particular, she talked of the chronic problem of women being underrepresented in the film and animation industry, as well as the lack of female roles. One comment that struck home with me was when she felt that a major problem was that male screenwriters often hesitate to include women in their scripts for falsely fearing they do not know how to write that type of role; a number of years ago, I was offered a free option on a novel by a woman author but hesitated to follow through for exactly those reasons.
The following pictures were mostly taken at the opening reception, with a few at the annual membership meeting. I would have included more, but I’m afraid my photo-taking capabilities and cameras were not always up to the task. (I’m especially embarrassed by the lack of good photos of two of my students, John-Michael Kirkconnell and Maureen Monaghan, who did themselves proud with papers on “Stylistic Dissonance as a Narrative Tool in Mixed Media Animation” and “Memories and Perceptions: Creating Emotional Resonance Using the Child’s Gaze.”)
No SAS conference is complete without Charles daCosta, the Society’s historian and photographer. He was also my colleague at SCAD and bravely took over the reigns of the 2009 conference when I stepped down for medical reasons. He’s now based out of Melbourne’s Swinburne University of Technology, where he’s just set up an animation program. His paper was called, “Cracking the Frame: Oral Tradition as a Reflection of Non-cinematic Animation in Sub-Saharan West-Africa.”
Cheryl Cabera, another former SCAD compatriot, now working at the University of Central Florida’s Orlando campus. She came to give a micro-talk about The Animation Hall of Fame, which she is a Board member (I’m on its Advisory Board). If she has her way, UCF will host a future SAS conference.
Tony Tarantino of the Sheridan Institute of Technology and Advanced Learning was present to give a micro-talk about next year’s conference, “The Animator,” which will be hosted by Sheridan in Toronto and on campus in Oakville, Canada. Sheridan College, of course, is a legendary animation school which was, along with CalArts, a key factor in the emergence of the current animation renaissance. Canada seems an obvious locale for next year’s event, since 2014 is Norman McLaren’s centenary.
Experimental filmmaker Rose Bond, of the Pacific Northwest College of Art, is a perennial at SAS conferences. This year she gave a paper on “Poetics & Public Projection: Layered History – Redrawn Memory,” a part of a spectacular panel mostly concerned with what might be called environmental or site-specific animation. In fact, there seemed to be a heavier-than-usual focus on this sort of motion graphics/motion media design, which reflected some of the interests of the USC animation program.
Animation producer Yvette Kaplan and historian/blogger Jerry Beck dropped by for the opening reception. Jerry has a long history with SAS, having programmed a memorable screening of films from the UCLA Film & Television Archive for the first conference in 1989.
Paul Ward, Arts University Bournemouth, is the current SAS president, whose paper was called “Paratexts and Participation: The Off-screen World of Dirtgirlworld.” Like my wife Vickie and myself, Paul has a strong interest in social practice theory. (Is there something about being SAS president and SPT?)
Nichola Dobson, University of Edinburgh, Timo Linsenmaier, currently based in Belgium, and Paul Ward. Nichola, whose talk was “Dancing to Rhythm of the Music: Norman McLaren and the Performing Body,” is the former editor of SAS’s Animation Studies journal and is now doing similar duties for the Society’s Animation Studies 2.0 blog. Timo, who gave a micro-talk about “The Dissident’s Kitchen 2.0,” i.e., web animation in the former Soviet Union, is SAS’s webmaster extraordinaire.
Michael Frierson, University of North Carolina at Greensboro, at a break between sessions. Michael’s expertise is clay animation, as per his talk, “Tim Hittle/Jay Clay: One Person Making Artwork as Authentically as Possible.” Like Paul Ward and Nichola Dobson, did yeoman duty as a past SAS conference organizer.
Susan Ohmer, University of Notre Dame, another long-term SAS veteran and Disney maven during a break. She gave a paper on “Mass-Production and High Art: Disney and the Courvoisier Gallery c. 1940.”
USC Professor, long-time friend Tom Sito and former president of The Animation Guild, prior to giving the “Harvey Deneroff Keynote Address” based on his new book, Moving Innovation, A History of Computer Animation. Naming the talk after me was the Society’s way of honoring my role as founder. I must admit to be a little uneasy about the whole thing, but then my wife, Vickie, noted is was better than calling it the Harvey Deneroff Memorial Keynote Address.
Here I am presenting my paper, “Rethinking the Metanarrative of Character Animation,” in which my wife, Vickie, and I attempted to rethink the conventional wisdom of how character animation developed and how this has affected animation education. One of our main points is that the master narrative of personality animation has unfairly ignored the contributions of stop-motion filmmakers. Vickie, unfortunately, could not be there, but the presentation seemed to go over well.
Past SAS president and outgoing chair of the Board of the Directors Maureen Furniss, California Institute of the Arts, at the Annual General Meeting. She gave a micro-talk on “Direct Film Paradigms,” and also acted as conference consultant. She was one of the original members of the Society and talked herself into a seat on the Board of Directors when she was a graduate student at USC, saying there was a need for a student representative. The Society honored her years of service during the meeting through a donation to an animal shelter. Maureen was the third USC alumni to be SAS president after myself and Bill Moritz.
Computer animation pioneer and experimental filmmaker Larry Cuba. who is Executive Director of the IotaCenter, sitting next to Pamela Turner, who is also involved with Iota.
Filmmaker and scholar Pamela Turner, Virginia Commonwealth University, was at the membership meeting to take over from Maureen Furniss as the Society’s new Board chair. Like Furniss, she has a strong interest in experimental animation. Congratulations Pam.
Next year in Toronto!
June 20th, 2013 · Animation conferences
On Saturday, I’m off to Los Angeles to attend the annual conference of the Society for Animation Studies. This year’s event, “Redefining Animation,” is being put on by the John C. Hench Division of Animation & Digital Arts of the University of Southern California’s School of Cinematic Arts. (I got my M.A. and PhD from USC.) The dates are June 23rd – 27th, with the conference proper beginning on Monday; the paper my wife Vickie and I wrote on “Rethinking the Metanarrative of Character Animation” will be presented on Wednesday, which is actually the last day. However, the festivities begin on Sunday with afternoon screenings of USC student films and a cocktail reception featuring remarks by DreamWorks Animation CEO Jeffrey Katzenberg and Chief Creative Officer Bill Damaschke; on Thursday, there’s an optional field trip to DreamWorks Animation, in Glendale, which I understand is sold out.
I always look forward to these conferences where I can enjoy the company of friends and colleagues, as well as meeting other scholars and filmmakers from around the world. If you’re at all interested in animation history and theory, it’s the place to be.
May 14th, 2013 · Filmmakers, Special effects, Stop motion animation
The recent passing of special effects animation master Ray Harryhausen has been widely noted. I must admit to having little to add to the many well-deserved hosannas. A disciple of Willis O’Brien, he was able to one up his mentor by gaining a measure of creative control that enabled him to produce a greater body of work than O’Brien could hope for. His films, whose epic storytelling seems to have been inspired by the Korda version of The Thief of Bagdad, were designed to showcase his spectacular talents, especially the skeleton fight in Jason and the Argonauts and the Medusa sequence in the original version of Clash of the Titans. Alfred Hitchcock also seemed to structure his films around a series of set pieces, though Harryhausen’s seem more resistant to the fatigues of repeated viewing. Why this is so is the subject of “Harryhausen and the Expressively Imperfect World,” by The New Yorker’s art critic Adam Gopnik, who rightly compares him to Georges Méliès, noting:
What was odd about Harryhausen’s work was that it was obviously “fake,” fabricated—even in its heyday, its invented, articulated falseness was as evident as it was bemusing. One wasn’t convinced by his skeleton warriors; one was amazed by them, a different thing. His sword-fighting skeletons didn’t look like skeletons come to life; they looked like models of skeletons, painstakingly animated. And yet something about that truth spoke to some part of us deeper than the merely deluded eye—so that it is the rare lover of fantasy who does not much prefer Harryhausen’s “Clash of the Titans” to the elaborate C.G.I. remake. Indeed, in the many obituaries he received this week, a good number of people, and not all of them oldsters moved by nostalgia, made the case, or registered the feeling, that something in Harryhausen’s work, for all its obvious effort, was better than anything of the kind that came after. Tom Hanks, George Lucas—so many spoke up, or had spoken up before, about how mind-altering and enthralling Harryhausen’s underpowered and underfinanced spectacles remain.
Images: Frame grabs from Jason and the Argonauts from DVD Beaver. The photo of Harryhausen is a frame grab from the John Landis interview on the Jason DVD.
April 20th, 2013 · Animation history and criticism, Feature films, Film history and criticism, Television history and criticism
Several years ago, I did a posting which promised to be the “first in a series of posts in which I would evaluate some of the one-volume histories of film in English.” For various reasons, I neglected to follow through on it, though I never stopped thinking about it. For instance, I recently wanted to write about the importance of Mark Cousin’s documentary series for Britain’s Channel 4, The Story of Film: An Odyssey, which is something of a game changer. Right now, though I want to comment on “the way [film histories] deal with (or ignore) animation and television.”
Among the assignments I give my graduate animation students is to write critical analyses of papers on film and animation history and theory; this is part of their preparation to do the written part of their MFA thesis (the other part is their thesis film). Basically, it’s part of an effort to shift their thinking out of term paper mode to original, scholarly research.) One article I recently assigned was William Moritz’s “Concerning the Aesthetic Autonomy of Animation and Why the Short Film is Not Just a Shorter Feature,” which he presented as a keynote address at the 1995 Filmfest Dresden. It is something of a rant on the problems faced by independent animation filmmakers, especially in getting their works seen. It is also, at heart, a tirade against the conventional feature film (live action or animated) and in favor of “artists’ Animations.”
He begins by noting:
For the last thirty years, at least, the live-action feature film has been considered an artform — joining written Literature in College curricula, becoming sections of Art Museums, and celebrated in thousands of books, most of which have little to do with Art, and a great deal to do with Sociology. Since the live-action feature, by and large, is a representation of some particular social reality, critics can easily decipher the symbolism of Ingmar Bergman, dissect the melodrama of Douglas Sirk, decode the syntax of Robert Bresson, dismantle the narrative strategies of Orson Welles, or dismember Alfred Hitchcock’s intricate plots to find behavioral patterns, prejudices and assumptions, struggles between races, classes, creeds and sexes. For the Marxist, the Feminist or the Semiotician it is almost irrelevant that cinema happens to be the current vehicle, for the same proofs of conviction can be found in novels, opera, television series, MTV video clips, comic books, or any other medium with a social-based narrative structure.
Animation has been almost completely neglected by film critics, and when it has been treated, only the industrial cartoon and feature-length animations (from Snow White to the hybrid Who Framed Roger Rabbit?) have been considered, precisely because they also yield to analysis for sexism, racism, excessive violence, and audience demographics.
One might be tempted to dismiss this tirade as a rather naïve piece of special pleading on behalf of some of his favorite independent filmmakers, including Oskar Fischinger, whose biographer he was. However, despite all this, Moritz does bring up an important issue: why do the standard film histories largely ignore animation? (Similarly, I would also ask why they also ignore television, but more about that later.)
Moritz’s focus on short animations may actually be a good part of the reason animated films have often been marginalized. From a conventional film historian’s point of view, though, this makes perfect sense. After all, aside from pre-World War I era, the comedy shorts of such comedians as Chaplin, Keaton and Lloyd, early Disney, and experimental films, the history of cinema is the history of feature films; no, let me amend that, it’s the history of the theatrical features. It doesn’t matter that some of those who write these histories don’t like animation (some have even written quite eloquently about it in other contexts), it just doesn’t fit into their discourse (or their publisher’s expectations).
Moritz’s article strongly resonates with my students, who eager to make short animations; this sort of enthusiasm is not uncommon in animation, especially as seen in their glorification by the major animation festivals such as Annecy, Ottawa and Hiroshima, as well as the nostalgia for the Golden Age of American Animation when Looney Tunes and Silly Symphonies were in flower.
The Situation in Television
The situation with television is, in a way, more serious. Though the Society for Cinema and Media Studies, the central organization of film scholars is “dedicated to the study of film, television, video & new media,” television is treated as a separate discourse from movies. Though some critics love to point out the superiority of their favorite TV shows over the current cinema and the technological breach that historically seemed to divide film from TV seems no longer relevant, film histories continue to ignore the tube unless a bona fide auteur, such as Ingmar Bergman or Rainer Werner Fassbinder, worked in TV.
This is compounded by the fact that there doesn’t really seem to be a good international history of television. Instead, we have the likes of Gary Edgerton’s The Columbia History of American Television, whose focus seems rather different than say Kristen Thompson and David Bordwell’s Film History. Even if Thompson and Bordwell wanted to expand their 780-page tome to include TV on the same terms they treat film, they would easily end up with a 2-volume book, which I suspect their publishers wouldn’t like. (Both are not unsympathetic to TV matters, as seen in Thompson’s book, Storytelling in Film and Television.)
While some animation histories, such Giannalberto Bendazzi’s Cartoons: One Hundred Years of Cinema Animation, may have consciously ignored television, more recent efforts (including the forthcoming second English-language edition of Bendazzi’s book) have attempted to remedy this oversight. However, animation histories, at least in English, mirror some of the errors of the standard film histories by often marginalizing live action cinema and television. That, though, is not a mistake Moritz did not make.
Photo: Center for Visual Music.
March 19th, 2013 · Uncategorized
Alphaville: Journal of Film and Screen Media. Peer-reviewed online journal published by Film Studies at University College Cork, Ireland.
Alternate Takes. British film review site that provides two reviews of each film, one introductory and the other in-depth.
Americana: The Journal of American Popular Culture, 1900 to Present. Published by The Institute for the Study of American Popular Culture.
Animation Magazine. Trade magazine with an appeal to a more general public. Limited access.
Animation Studies Online Journal. Peer-reviewed journal of the Society for Animation Studies.
Archives of American Television. Oral-history video interviews with American TV “legends and pioneers.”
Art of the Title. An “online resource of title sequence design, spanning the film, television, conference, and videogame industries.”
Audiovisual Thinking: The Journal of Academic Videos. A “journal of academic videos about audiovisuality, communication and media” published by the University of Copenhagen.
Animation World Network. Site includes Animation World Magazine and VFXWorld Magazine.
Artforum. The magazine’s film section.
BBC. Website of Britain’s public service radio and television broadcaster.
BFI Screenonline The British Film Institute’s “guide to Britain’s film and TV history.”
Bright Lights Film Journal. Film journal based in Oakland, California which started out in print.
Cine-Excess eJournal. Published by Cine-Excess. the annual international film festival and conference based in the UK.
Cine-Files. Peer-reviewed journal published by the Cinema Studies Department of the Savannah College of Art and Design.
Ciné-Tracts: A Journal of Film, Communication, Culture and Politics. Archive for journal edited by Ron Burnett, 1977-82.
CineAction. Sample articles from Toronto-based journal featuring “essays and reviews by film critics and scholars.”
Cineaste. American magazine “on the art and politics of the cinema.” Limited access.
Cinema: Journal of Philosophy and the Moving Image. A refereed online journal published by the Philosophy of Language Institute, New University of Lisbon.
Cinema Scope Magazine. Selections from the print version of the Canadian magazine.
Cinética (English). English versions of articles selected the archives of the Brazilian online magazine.
Confessions of an Aca-Fan. “The Official Weblog of Henry Jenkins,” Professor at the University of Southern California, Los Angeles.
Criterion Collection Current. Video distributor’s blog that mixes publicity and essays for the company’s DVD and Blu-Ray discs.
Criticine. Online Philippine journal devoted to Southeast Asian cinema
CST Online . Critical studies in television.
DFI-Film Digital Issue. Published by the Danish Film Institute.
Directors Guild of America Visual History Program. Video “interviews with directors and director’s team members discussing their careers and creative processes in film, television and other media.”
Documentary Box. A journal “covering recent trends in making and thinking about documentaries,” 1992-2007.
Experimental Conversations “Cork Film Centre’s online journal of experimental film, art cinema and video art.”
Film and Media Studies. “An International Scientific Journal of Sapientia University [Romania].”
Film Comment. The magazine of the Film Society of Lincoln Center, featuring “in-depth reviews and critical analysis of mainstream, art-house and avant-garde filmmaking from around the world.” Limited access.
Film International. English-language Swedish magazine that “overs film culture as part of the broader culture, history and economy of society.”
Film Quarterly. Published by the University of California Press. Limited access.
Film Journal. Quarterly online journal and blog based in Central Ohio, 2002-2006.
Film-Philosophy Journal. “An open access peer-reviewed academic journal dedicated to philosophically discussing film studies, aesthetics and world cinema.
Film Reference. Online encyclopedia with contributions by academicians.
Film Studies For Free. Reference site for film and moving image studies resources.
Filmlinc Daily. Film Society of Lincoln Center’s blog.
Filmmaker Magazine. Published by The Independent Filmmaker Project, whose site also contains material of interest. Limited access.. fosters the development, production and promotion of hundreds of feature and documentary films a year.
Films in Review. Online continuation of the American journal originally published by The National Board of Review, which is in the process of digitizing its “archives.”
Flow. An “online journal of television and media studies” published by the Department of Radio, Television, and Film at the University of Texas at Austin.
Forget the Film, Watch the Titles. An “online resource dedicated to film title design.”
fps. Canadian animation journal; no longer published.
fxguide. American online special effects magazine.
Frames Cinema Journal. Online publication of the Film Studies Department at the University of St Andrews, Scotland, on film, media and screen studies. Autumn issue publishes work by members of the British Association of Film, Television and Screen Studies (BAFTSS).
Framework: The Journal of Cinema and Media. Peer-reviewed journal published by Wayne State University Press covering “theoretical approaches to literature, film, the visual arts, and related media.”
GreenCine Daily. Film review blog published by the Los Angeles-based GreenCine DVD rent-by-mail service, 2003-2013.
Guru: GreenCine’s Official DVD Review Blog. Published by the Los Angeles-based GreenCine DVD rent-by-mail service, now inactive.
Hollywood Reporter. Entertainment industry trade publication (limited access).
Image Magazine Online. The first 47 years of the George Eastman House’s journal of photography and film, 1952-1997.
Images: A Journal of Film and Popular Culture. Published out of Raymore, Missouri.
Incite: journal of experimental media. 2008-11.
Independent Film Quarterly. News, reviews and interviews about independent films. Limited access.
InMedia: The French Journal of Media and Media Representations in the English-Speaking World. “The journal focuses on the press, photography, painting, cinema, television, video games, music, radio and the Internet among other fields of study.”
JMPScreenworks.com. The Screenworks section “is a peer-reviewed online publication of practice research in film and screen media,”
Intensities: The Journal of Cult Media. Online, refereed journal based at Brunel University that “addresses all aspects of cult media” from TV and film to anime and manga.
Joan’s Digest: A Film Quarterly. New York-based, online feminist film journal.
John Bailey’s Bailiwick blog. Cinematographer’s wide-ranging blog on all things related to cinematography, cinema/TV and whatever strikes his fancy; hosted by The American Society of Cinematographers.
Journal of e-Media Studies. A “peer-reviewed, on-line journal dedicated to the scholarly study of the history and theory of electronic media, especially Television and New Media,” published by the Dartmouth College Library. No longer published.
Journal of Religion & Film. “A peer reviewed journal which is committed to the study of connections between the medium of film and the phenomena of religion” and hosted by the University of Nebraska, Omaha.
Jump Cut: A Review of Contemporary Media. Online journal which “publishes material on film, television, video, new media, and related media and cultural analysis.” Formerly a print publication.
Just TV. Blog by Middlebury College professor Jason Mittell on television.
Kamera. British online film journal.
Kinema: A Journal for Film and Audiovisual Media. Online version of the University of Waterloo print journal on the “history, theory and aesthetics of film and audiovisual media from an international perspective.” English and French.
KinoKultura: New Russian Cinema. Peer-review journal “on contemporary Russian visual culture, especially cinema.” Hosted by the Watershed Media Centre in Bristol.
Koreanfilm.org. Darcy Paquet’s site which aims to provide an “introduction to Korean cinema.”
Los Angeles Times: Entertainment. Paper’s Entertainment section.
Los Angeles Times: Movies. Paper’s “Movies Now” section.
Limina: A Journal of Historical and Cultural studies. “A refereed academic journal of historical and cultural studies based in the Discipline of History at The University of Western Australia.”
LOLA. Film journal edited by Australian film critics Adrian Martin and Girish Shambu.
M/C — A Journal of Media and Culture. Peer-reviewed journal for “analysing and critiquing the meeting of media and culture” published out of Queensland University of Technology.
Matte Shot — A Tribute to Golden Era Special FX. Auckland, New Zealand-based blog “intended primarily as a tribute to the inventiveness and ingenuity of the craft of the matte painter during Hollywood’s Golden Era.”
Media Fields Journal: Critical Explorations in Media and Space. Online journal of the “Media Fields research collective formed at the University of California, Santa Barbara in 2007 to advance scholarship on the spatial aspects of a range of media forms, including film, television, radio, and digital media.”
MediaCommonsPress. “An in-development feature of MediaCommons, promoting the digital publication of texts in the field of media studies, ranging from article-to monograph-length.”
Mediascape: UCLA’s Journal of Cinema and Media Studies. Attempts to provide “an interdisciplinary approach to visual cultural studies.”
Michael Barrier.com Historian Michael Barrier’s blog about animated films, comic books and comic strips.
Midnight Eye: Visions of Japanese Cinema. English-language online Dutch site “intended to spread knowledge and appreciation of Japanese cinema.”
Movie: A Journal of Film Criticism. Peer-reviewed journal, a s a joint venture between the Universities of Warwick, Reading, and Oxford, and successor to Movie, the print journal that was edited by Ian A. Cameron.
MovieMaker. International, bimonthly publication devoted to “the art and business of making movies.”
movieScope Magazine. British trade publication which tries “cover the process and business of international movie making from an insider’s P.O.V.”
Moving Image Source. New York’s Museum of the Moving Image website that includes “Articles on film, television, and digital media by leading critics and scholars,” as well as a gateway to “online resources related to film, television, and digital media.”
MRQE.com – the Movie Review Query Engine. Site which claims to have links to over 100,000 “published and available reviews, news, interviews, and other materials associated with specific movies.”
Museum of Modern Art Inside/Out. Museum blog that includes program notes for film screenings.
NECSUS: European Journal of Media Studies. An interdisciplinary “peer reviewed journal of media studies connected to NECS (European Network for Cinema and Media Studies) and published by Amsterdam University Press.”
Networking Knowledge: Journal of the MeCCSA Post-Graduate Network. MeCCSA (Media, Communication and Cultural Studies Association) “is the subject association for the field of media, communication and cultural studies in UK Higher Education.”
NPR. National Public Radio network website.
Observations on Film Art. Blog on film history and theory by University of Wisconsin professors Kristin Thompson and David Bordwell. Site also includes extracts from some of their books.
Offscreen. Canadian film journal with special emphasis on local filmmaking, especially in Montreal, but within an international context.
Only the Cinema. Ed Howard’s blog focusing on film critiques.
Other Voices. “An independent … electronic journal of cultural criticism published at the University of Pennsylvania.”
p.o.v. English-language Danish journal of film studies, 1996-2009.
Participations. “An on-line Journal devoted to… audience and reception studies.”
Post. Postproduction trade journal.
Post Identity. Refereed humanities journal published in partnership with the University of Michigan’s Scholarly Publishing Office. 1997-2007.
PsyArt: An Online Journal for the Psychological Study of the Arts. A peer-reviewed journal, which is archived by the University of Florida library.
Reel Culture. Daniel Eagan’s film history blog for Smithsonian Magazine, now on indefinite hiatus.
Refractory: a Journal of Entertainment Media. A “peer-reviewed, e-journal that explores the diverging and intersecting aspects of current and past entertainment media … published by the Screen Studies Program, School of Culture and Communication, University of Melbourne.”
Reverse Shot. Independent online film journal formerly a print publication, though these issues are being digitized.
Revue LISA / LISA e-journal. French bilingual journal dealing with “cultural ?studies, literature, philosophy or the history of ideas, the visual arts, music, media studies, ?sociology, history and anthropology within the English-speaking world.”
Rhizomes: Cultural Studies in Emerging Knowledge. “Independent peer-reviewed online journal … born at Bowling Green State University, Department of English, Bowling Green, Ohio.
Rogerebert.com. Reviews and commentary by the late Chicago film critic Roger Ebert. Hosted by The Chicago Sun-Times.
Rouge. Australian online journal of film history and theory, 2003-2009.
Scan: Journal of Media Arts and Culture. “An online journal, magazine and gallery, devoted to the media arts and culture, hosted by the Department of Media, Music, Communication and Cultural Studies at Macquarie University, Sydney.” Began as print journal.
Scope. Online journal of film & TV studies published by the Department of Culture, Film and Media, University of Nottingham, UK.
Screen. “Journal of academic film and television studies” published by Oxford University Press. Limited access.
Screen India.Online edition of weekly Indian magazine featuring, news and reviews of Bollywood, Hollywood and regional movies and TV.
Screen International/ScreenDaily. British trade journal focusing on “covering the international film markets.” Limited access.
Screen Machine. “A left wing online film magazine.”
Screening the Past. A “refereed, electronic journal of screen history” published with the support of La Trobe University, Victoria, Australia.
Senses of Cinema. Online journal published by RMIT University, Melbourne, Australia.
Sight and Sound. British Film Institute’s “international film magazine.” Limited access.
Static Mass Emporium: The Essence of Film. “An independent film journal based in the UK” focusing on “research grounded in film history and theory, the philosophy of film and not least modern cinema.”
Skwigly Animation Magazine. British online magazine that presents “news and views on all aspects of animation.”
SYNOPTIQUE – The Journal of Film and Film Studies. Peer-reviewed journal of “film and moving image studies.”
Transformative Works and Cultures. A “peer-reviewed journal published by the Organization for Transformative Works [which] publishes articles about transformative works, broadly conceived; articles about media studies; and articles about the fan community.”
TV Worth Watching. News and reviews about what’s on American television.
Undercurrent. “A magazine of and on film criticism” published by the International Federation of Film Critics (FIPRESCI).
Variety. The famed entertainment industry trade publication (limited access).
Vectors. Online, peer-reviewed, multimedia journal focusing on the “intersection of culture, creativity, and technology.”
Vertigo Magazine. Published by London’s Close-Up Film Centre.
VIEW: Journal of European Television History and Culture. A "peer-reviewed, multi-media and open access e-journal.”
Views Reviews Interviews: Journal of Cinema and Cultural Theory. Indian online journal.
Web Otaku USA. "The online component of Otaku USA magazine,” which covers “manga, anime, videogames and Japanese pop culture … from an American point of view.”
Wide Screen: A Peer-Reviewed Open-Access Journal. UK journal.
World Picture. Interdisciplinary journal.
→ No CommentsTags:
March 14th, 2013 · Directing, Screenwriting
Richard Brody has an interesting, if somewhat discursive blog posting at The New Yorker on “The Problem with Processed Storytelling,” which begins with a discussion of Pixar’s “22 Rules of Storytelling.” Brady says, “Pixar films make me feel as if I were watching the cinematic equivalent of irresistibly processed food, with a ramped-up and carefully calibrated dosing of the emotional versions of salt, sugar, and fat.” However, this is not a rant against all things Pixar, but rather an interesting, if not fully thought through, discussion of the problems of directors who write their own scripts versus collaborative efforts (he sort of opts for the latter).
March 9th, 2013 · Animation history and criticism, Film history and criticism, History and criticism, Television history and criticism
As some visitors to this blog may have noticed over the past few days, I have put up a custom search engine designed to search English-language websites for material suitable for students doing research in the moving image arts — specifically film, TV, animation and visual effects. My Cinema Studies 101 Search Engine had its origins several years ago using the Rollyo site as a way to help students get around the very real problems of finding suitable materials on the Internet for their term papers. When Rollyo stopped functioning, I discovered I could provide a much better service using Google. So, after a not very rigorous beta testing by my students, I have finally decided to go public.
While the search engine itself is working, I have not yet finished adding all the supporting material I wanted to post. So far, I have put up a page About the Search Engine, while a list of all the sites the search engines uses will, I assure you, be forthcoming.
Anyway, I trust the search engine will be of some use to some of you.
March 6th, 2013 · Animation history and criticism, History and criticism, Media theory, Politics
My friend and former Savannah College of Art and Design colleague, Charles daCosta, who now teaches at Swinburne University of Technology, in Melbourne, recently made an appearance on Africa Amara, a TV show broadcast on C31, where he talked about racial stereotyping in media. Along the way, he discusses his book, Framing Invisibility: Racial Stereotyping and Selective Positioning in Contemporary British Animation, though his discussion is broader than that title implies.
March 5th, 2013 · History and criticism
Last month, ace animation historian Jerry Beck left the popular Cartoon Brew blog he created and co-edited with Amid Amidi. However, he didn’t stop blogging, but rather revived his semi-dormant Cartoon Research blog with a vengeance. Right now, it seems devoted to (mainly) American animation history, and also includes some occasional guest postings (e.g., Keith Scott on “The Origin of Foghorn Leghorn”). So far, it’s a delightful blend of animation history and news, which I find a must read. (For instance, check out his piece on “What Dave Fleischer did after “Mr. Bug,” where there is strong hint that Fleischer may have had something to do with the classic Let’s All Go to the Lobby trailer.)
March 4th, 2013 · History and criticism
Today, the Society for Animation Studies has inaugurated a new blog, animationstudies 2.01, which is being edited by Nichola Dobson, and devoted to issues in animation scholarship. As Dobson points out,
The pace of published research has often lagged behind the vast technological developments in the animation industry and as such there is often seen to be gaps in the discourse. This blog intends to attempt to fill some of these gaps by providing scholars (and fans) a more immediate place to engage with current research.
Initially, the plan is to have one post per week and a new theme each month. Forthcoming themes include: “Technological developments in animation” and “Sound and music.” The opening theme is not specified, but the first post, by yours truly, is “Writing Animation History.” (It’s all about my three books in progress, which I hope to write more about here.)
Needless to say, it’s one blog I will be checking in on a regular basis!
March 4th, 2013 · Animation conferences
This year’s Society for Animation Studies conference will be held at the University of Southern California (one of my alma maters), June 23-27, under the theme of “Redefining Animation.” It is being held under the auspices of The John C Hench Division of Animation and Digital Arts of USC’s School of Cinematic Art.
There is a bevy of keynote speakers plus a talk by DreamWorks Animation’s CEO Jeffrey Katzenberg at the opening reception. The keynoters include : story artist and animator Tom Sito (“Moving Innovation, A History of Computer Animation"), visual effects supervisor Mike Fink (“Visual Effects Paridiso”), video installation artist Davide Quayola who will talk about his work, game designer Tracy Fullerton (“Dream Worlds: Imagining the Worlds of Walden and The Night Journey”) and robotics designer David Hanson (“Intelligent, Embodied Animation—when art comes to life, literally).
More important are the usual wide range of papers being given by scholars and filmmakers from around the world. I am delighted to be co-presenting a paper with my wife, Victoria, on “Rethinking the Metanarrative of Character Animation.” I am also proud that two of my students, Maureen Monaghan and John-Michael Kirkconnell, will also be there as well. Some presentations that also caught my fancy include:
- Rose Bond, “Poetics & Public Projection: Layered History – Redrawn Memory”
- Donald Crafton, “Inside and Outside the Toon Body: Somatic Integrity Throughout Animation History”
- Charles daCosta, “Cracking the frame: Oral Tradition as a reflection of non-cinematic animation in sub-Saharan West-Africa”
- Ruth Hayes, “Quantifying and Visualizing Animators’ Styles of Motion: an analytical and pedagogical tool”
- Susan Ohmer, “Mass-Production and High Art: Disney and the Courvoisier Gallery c. 1940”
- Caress Reeves, “Animation as Political Radicalism: Black Animators in the Field”
- Gunnar Strom, “Industrial Animation: Boring Information or Communication Art?”
- Reza Yousefzadeh, “Inter-cultural Communication and Subversive Realism:Iranian socially?engaged animation”
February 12th, 2013 · Animation history and criticism, Filmmakers, Producers
Perhaps historical would be a better word. I’m not talking about the winners in the competitive voting for ASIFA-Hollywood‘s Annie Awards proper (listed here), but rather for the juried awards, including the June Foray and Winsor McCay Awards. What was startling was the fact that three of these honors went to animation historians: Jerry Beck (Foray), John Canemaker (McCay) and John Kricfalusi(McCay). (The other McCay Award went to Glen Keane.) I don’t know of any other time so many animation historians have been honored at the same time outside of the Society for Animation Studies.
The Foray Award, given for “significant and benevolent or charitable impact on the art and industry of animation,” has been given to important animation historians before, including Leonard Maltin and the late Bill Moritz; so the selection of Beck, who also was a pioneer in the distribution of Japanese theatrical animation in the United States, was really no surprise. What is unusual is the fact that two of the McCay recipients, who are honored for “career contributions to the art of animation,” are also important historians: John Canemaker and John Kricfalusi. (My reaction might be compared to Robert Sherwood’s delight, when he was a film critic for Life in 1926, on discovering that the hero of D.W. Griffith’s The Sorrows of Satan was a critic.)
While Beck’s and Canemaker’s bona fides as historians are rather obvious (one only has to look up their names on Amazon or WorldCat), but one does not usually think of John K. as other than an innovative and opiniated filmmaker. But behind those opinions is a well-thought out approach to animation and animation history. While I don’t always agree with his views, I do think he has provided a salutatory challenge to much conventional wisdom, including that surrounding of Walt Disney. In a way, his thinking on animation and animation history (which can seen on his blog or in his online exchange with Michael Barrier) harkens back to the development of the auteur theory at Cahiers du cinéma in the 1950s by the likes of François Truffaut and Jean-Luc Godard, who later abandoned criticism to help create the French New Wave.
So, congratulations to Beck, Canemaker and Kricfalusi for all their work, including their contributions to animation history and criticism.
Images: Top: Jerry Beck, John Canemaker and Amid Amidi at the 2005 Ottawa International Animation Festival picnic. Left above: John Kricfalusi photo found on his MySpace.com page.
October 25th, 2012 · Screenings, Short films
This year’s celebration by ASIFA-Atlanta of International Animation Day, held in conjunction with Atlanta Film Festival 365 ,will be held this Sunday at the Plaza Theatre, at 7:30 pm. As usual, the screening will feature films selected from films shared by other ASIFA chapters around the world. If that’s not enough, ASIFA-Atlanta will also present two other screenings earlier that day — animation for kids 6+ at 2:00 pm and “Blowin’ Smoke, industry animation from local studios” — plus a panel previewing the evening screening at 5:30 pm.
ASIFA-Atlanta members get in free, while a day pass is $12.00, $6.00 for general admission and $3.00 for kids under 12, students and ATLFF365 members.
This year’s poster is by Italian animation filmmaker Gianluigi Toccafondo.
September 18th, 2012 · Color films, Technology
Britain’s National Media Museum has posted the results of their restoration of what they claim to be the world first color moving pictures, which were patented by photographer Edward Turner and his financial backer Frederick Marshall Lee in 1899, which is embedded above. The details are briefly explained here.
The process, which seems to anticipate the original three-color Technicolor process — in particular the successive exposure method used for animated films — seemed to have been unworkable. The Museum’s restoration really doesn’t prove otherwise, and I suspect that George Albert Smith, who was asked by Charles Urban to perfect the process, was right to suggest abandoning it in favor of his simpler two-color Kinemacolor system, which had some popularity. Nevertheless, the results of the restoration are fascinating to say the least.
(Thanks to Paul Fierlinger via Karl Cohen.)