Seventy years after Marian Anderson sang this song in protest in Washington DC, Aretha does it right. Congratulations everyone.
Archive for January, 2009
Carrie and I were happy to host a New York visit from senior designer Meghan Killeen and owner Robert Feldman from Earworm Media, based in Milford, New Jersey. Earworm specializes in web design and animation for clients, and themselves. Their series Dr. Shroud is hosted over at Joost and you can check out the episodes there. Thanks for coming by guys.
Wow! Wow! Wubbzy! is doing so well in it’s second season (so well that it’s a state secret right now; I’ll share the details when I can) that I was looking back on it’s origins (that’s the original pitch bible above). And I was being fascinated with how true to it’s original vision creator Bob Boyle has kept it.
“Want to understand why entertaining cartoons are all but impossible to produce nowadays? You can have the answer in just two short minutes by watching the first part of this interview with Frank Zappa. Though Zappa is explaining the decline of the music business, everything he says is applicable to the animation world as well.”
It was a few years ago when I mentioned the 1995 release of the Hanna-Barbera Sound Effects Library, one of my favorite projects from my time at the studio. A full, 5-CD quality release of the studios famous sound effects. In the booklet included with the set, studio veteran Paul Douglas came up withthe editors’ all time Top 10 SFX. Here’s his picks from the original release:
“Hanna-Barbera’s Greatest Hits…And Greatest Sproings, Boings and Bonks”
In the long history of the Hanna-Barbera Sound Effect Library, there have been many terrific sound used to great comic effect. But there are a few that stand out as having a familiar ring, the unmistakable quality of having been used for a particular character or bit business. Here are the 10 quintessential effects chosen for the Hanna-Barbera Hall of Fame by longtime H-B editor Paul Douglas.
(Just click on the CD or the link to hear the effect. Each track has three effects, so don’t get confused.)
1. Fred Flintstone Scrambling: All cartoon hell breaks loose when Fred is rushing around in a panic.
2. Gazoo Materializing: Cartoon sound effects editors sometime have to stretch their imaginations. What does it sound like when Gazoo, the outer space pixie on The Flintstones, comes into view?
3. El Kabong’s Guitar Hit: In Quick Draw McGraw’s alter ego as the heroic El Kabong, his only weapon is his guitar. He doesn’t play it; he clobbers the villains with it. An unmistakable sound that adds new meaning to “striking a chord.”
4. Fred Drops The Ball: When Fred Flintstone bowls, there’s no telling where the ball will go. Most likely, it will land on his foot. A classic crash from the Stone Age. (The name reveals for the first time how it was made.)
5. Barney’s Big Head Take: When a person does a take (one-half of a double take) it doesn’t really make a sound in the normal physical world, but in the cartoon Stone-Age world of Barney Rubble and The Flintstones, it sounds exactly like this!
6. Jerry Pulls Tom’s Whiskers: A familiar sound from the Golden Age of cartoons! In those cat-and-mouse classics, Jerry the mouse often pulls the whiskers of Tom the cat. Ouch! (For you musicians: a violin was played pizzicato while sliding up the fingerboard.)
7. Fred’s Head Hit: It’s well known that Fred Flintstone has a hard head. But the effects man must determine just how hard. Rock? Granite? Marble? Hard, but too dull. The ringing sound of solid iron does the trick!
8. Yogi Bear’s Noogin Klonk: When Yogi gets bumped on the head, he’s usually in the middle of feeding his empty stomach, hence this hollow, klonking sound.
9. George Jetson Becomes Jet Screamer: Mr. Jetson turns into a teen-age idol. You have to hear it to understand.
10. Muttley Bites Dastardly on the Butt: We saved the best for last! This sound is so evocative of Muttley’s powerful jaws clamping onto Dick Dasterdly’s soft posterior, that few who hear it can ever forget it. A sound wit real feeling.
I read the most recent issue after I was visited with Maureen Furniss‘ class at CalArts (Maureen isn’t just a animation historian and professor, she’s also The Animation Journal editor). An article about black Hollywood animation veteran Floyd Norman fed my continuing interest in the underrepresentation of minorities and women in our industry, and Maureen’s article on television for the under 2 year olds (!) frightened even my liberal attitude about kids and TV. And I caught up on some of the newest books about animation that I’d missed (I miss a lot).
I briefly started working with animation during college, when I was in my most abstract intellectual phase. I came of age over 15 years in the New York indie animation scene, with filmmakers like Eli Noyes & George Griffin. It was natural for my friends to discuss the artistic side of the equation. Reading the Journal and books like Chris Robinson’s The Animation Pimp remind me of one of the less traveled, exhilarating side of what we all do. Maybe you’ll like them too.
The Animation Pimp By Chris Robinson (published by AWN/Thompson, June 2007)
I read an awful lot that has nothing to do directly with animation and that probably wouldn’t really interest our blog readers. So when I do, like I’ve been lately, I don’t post either, which is kind of dumb. The last few weeks I’ve been catching up with stuff I shouldn’t have been neglecting. Like The Animation Pimp (disclaimer: I think he says a nice thing about yours truly in the book).
Many of you know about Chris Robinson as the director of the Ottawa International Animation Festival, but the sharper among you might have read his five years of columns at AWN called “The Animation Pimp” (or his TAP blog) which were edited and collected last year in this book of the same name. Influenced and inspired by writers wonderful and just awful, Chris is that rare thing in animation, a non-fanboy, serious thinker and writer. There’s a glimpse of that kind of thinking (though sometimes shallow in their narrowness) in Amid Amidi’s Cartoon Brew posts , and in The Animation Journal (great thinking, rarely good writing). Chris tries to inject soberness in his editing of the ASIFA Magazine but, geez, serious is as serious does, and it’s a little too dour for me sometimes.
But I have to say, as often as Chris irritates me with his overly stylized prose, he’s a lot of fun. And strangely enough, “fun” is not really a word one thinks of in animation writing. How dumb is that?
Everyone who gives a damn about animation or cartoons (though Chris doesn’t have that much interest in the cartoon subset it seems) ought to just flip over to his columns or buy the book right away. It’s rare that anyone provokes real thought in my head about what we do (unless it’s my own team, or John K, or Amid) and The Animation Pimp sure does. And in book form it’s way different than monthly columns too. Altogether in one spot, read in a short period of time, Chris’ incitement to dare to think differently, to even dismiss the form he’s writing about, is refreshing, liberating, and ultimately exciting. I’m not sure what I’m going to do with my thoughts, or maybe I’ve been doing things with them all along, but I’m thankful to Chris for resurrecting them in me. Maybe he’ll do the same for you.