Wednesday, 22 February 2017

Peaks and Valley

Couple Skwigly updates, we have a new contributor Simmon Keith Barney whose first piece puts forward some interesting ideas about how to approach alternate frame rates for your animation projects. Good food for thought and I kinda wish I'd read it before I embarked on my current film Sunscapades which I made the increasingly regrettable decision to animate all on 1s. Give it a read here and see what you think.
In episode 68 of the Skwigly Animation Podcast we welcome Robert Valley, director of the original Vimeo animated documentary short Pear Cider and Cigarettes.
Developed from his own self-published graphic novels and produced by Cara Speller of Passion Pictures, the film tells the true story of Valley’s attempts to keep his childhood friend from destroying himself, a task that grows increasingly difficult as time wears on. Earlier this month Pear Cider and Cigarettes picked up an Annie Award for Best Animated Special Production and is among this year’s Oscar nominees for Best Animated Short.
Also discussed in this episode: BAFTA wins, Oscar nominees, recent National Film and Television School output and the questionable necessity of a Beauty and the Beast remake.
Last week on the site I spoke with Montreal-based director Eva Cvijanović, whose Branko Ćopić adaptation Hedgehog's Home (produced with the NFB and Bonobostudio) premiered at Berlinale recently and is a real treat for stop-mo enthusiasts. Click the link below to learn more:
Interview with Eva Cvijanović
It's only briefly touched upon in the interview but something that struck me about this film is that it makes great use of Kenneth Welsh's propensity toward broad character performances, something that was horribly misused when he was in Twin Peaks. Basically he came in pretty late as a sort of replacement bad guy who was all set up to be kind of Hannibal-esque and ended up more like a panto villain. Then Lynch directed him in the last episode and he was genuinely brilliant. Goes to show how many people involved in that series just didn't know what they were doing (says the guy whose directorial experience comes to less than an hour's worth of animated shorts). Anyway, he's very good in this is the point.
I'm gearing up for the inevitable Twin Peaks rewatch before the new series starts in May. I love Lynch and am probably in the minority when I say that Fire Walk With Me is my favourite film of his, but only about a third of the actual TV show's episode really matched up to either as far as my personal enthusiasm went. Plus because I loved the film so much I remain annoyed that David Bowie and Keifer Sutherland's characters never appear in the show, although I gather Harry Dean Stanton's will in the new ones so that's a brownie point already. Basically I'm hoping the new show will be Fire Walk With Me: The Series, something that would leave a lot more hardcore series fans than not pretty disappointed, I imagine.
No idea why I'm typing all this. Ah, I'm procrastinating again. That'll be it.
OKAY. Back to work.

Monday, 20 February 2017

Idle Distraction

For no particular reason here's one of a handful of covers I put together during the period I was writing and recording The Birdcage a couple years back:
Usually for each album I end up doing a bunch of covers either to teach myself some previously unexplored process in Reason or just for the gits and shiggles of it all. Then I tend to just kind of forget about them.
While I've covered Faith No More in my live shows a bunch I don't usually have the audacity to make any studio recordings of their work but this is one that sort of weirdly fit into the universe of The Birdcage, arrangements-wise. Plus with each passing year my life resembles that of its lyrical protagonist more and more.
As the wry sampling near the end suggests one the many reasons I'm fond of this particular tune is that it always put li'l me in mind of the underwater levels in Super Mario Bros. I think if I ever go on The Voice this will be my audition song.
Apparently when Faith No More were making Angel Dust the working title for this song was 'Macaroni and Cheese'.
You can tell I'm procrastinating, can't you?
Well...back to work I guess.

Thursday, 9 February 2017

Still Alive

Jaysus, I blinked and the whole goddamn month got away from me.
Been one of those periods where there's barely been enough time to do all the things that need to be done, let alone write about them. Hopefully if you've been following either my personal or Skwigly Twitter feed you're more or less up to speed. If not here's a quickie roundup.
On the podcasts front there's been a bunch of new stuff up for your listening pleasure. After what proved to be a successful venture in the Animation Composed special it's been business as sort-of-usual for the main Skwigly podcast, with a second annual outtakes special kicking off proceedings as well as welcoming current Oscar nominee Patrick Osborne (he who done 2015 winner Feast with Disney and, more recently, Pearl with Google ATAP) to episode 66:
Since its release last year the film has gone on to receive multiple Annie Award nominations and be shortlisted for the 2017 Best Animated Short Oscar nominations, a first for a 360 VR film.
Also discussed in this episode are nominations for – and conspicuous absences from – the animation categories at the 2017 BAFTAs, anticipation of new Rick and Morty and how certain feature films set out to insult their audience’s intelligence.
In continuation of my enthusiasm for the Mike Patton-voiced Dave Cooper-conceived headf*ck that is The Absence of Eddy Table I managed to speak with director Rune Spaans (AKA Superrune) for episode 67. Give 'er a listen:
Hailing from Brønnøysund in Norway, as a self-taught visual artist Rune began working in video games in the 90s before moving on to advanced visual effects and animation work for films including André Øvredal's Troll HunterEddy Table is currently in competition at Clermont-Ferrand with upcoming screenings planned for Festival Ciné Court Animé in March.
Laura-Beth and I have this week brought back Intimate Animation for a second season (or series, whatever melts your effin' butter), a little earlier than planned. As it turns out, the wonderful Signe Baumane has a new feature on the go, so what better time to catch up?
Anyone who's a regular listener - or who may have read my book - knows just how inspiring I find Signe and, based on the strength of her previous feature Rocks In My Pockets this new film is sure to be more than worthy of your attention. After you've checked out the episode you can learn more about the project and how you can contribute at
Elsewhere the world continues to turn despite simultaneously crumbling. To distract myself from the onslaught of increasingly baffling news (people say it's like Nineteen Eighty-Four but to be honest I'm more put in mind of The Last King of Scotland) I've been deeply entrenched in the final weeks of the preschool series I've been working on since last June. As production on the first series (or season, Jesus guys chill out) is coming to an end, knock wood I'll be able to put up something from it soon. Another nugget of news worth mentioning is that Toon Boom have been assisting with resources for my next short film Sunscapades which is well underway. I've been playing about with the latest version of Harmony and put up a review on it if any of you are in the market for an upgrade and want to learn more.
On the subject of my weird little films, as far as our old friend Klementhro goes there had been a sort-of plan to release it online around now, although it turns out its festival run has a bit of life left in it yet. I can confirm it will be doing the rounds through til May which is rather splendid, will post up all info as it comes. In the meantime the next outing will be at Short Waves in Poznań, which runs from March 21st-26th. As the screening is called Friday Night Shorts I'm using my crack detective skills to conclude it will take place on the evening of the 24th. Exact specifics when I get 'em.
My revised plan is to put the film online in full at the point when it has gotten 100 public screenings. No particular reason, just something to work toward. We're well into the 90s now so hopefully it won't be too long.
That's me done for now. Hopefully I'll be back here before another month goes by.