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Tyler Sticka


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Friday, May 26, 2006

Over the Hedge has nifty voices

I went to see "Over the Hedge" and, I have to say, it is surprisingly good. Not great by any stretch of the imagination, but a solid enough bit of entertainment delightfully free of the standard fart jokes and pop-culture references that pass for kids' fare these days. Oh, it has a couple of those things. But not enough to dominate the whole flick.

What really impressed me about this film, though, was the voices.

It was, as are all animated movies these days, chock full of celebrity voices. I'm not a huge fan of the idea that every bit part in a movie has to be played by some huge big time star, especially when there are plenty of lesser known but much better suited professional voice actors out there, but this time, it worked. At first, I was a bit iffy about hearing William Shatner as the voice of the melodramatic opossom Ozzie. There was nothing wrong with him, it just seemed that the IDEA of William Shatner playing a melodramatic opossum was funnier than actually seeing William Shatner play a melodramatic opossum. You know, funny in a referencial sort of way, a "Oh, I get it - Shatner is a drama whore in real life, so it's kinda funny that he plays one as a opossum" kind of way. To actually make the dramatic scenes funny, I thought, you'd need to get a wildly exaggerated, overly pompous voice - someone like the guy that plays Lokar on "Space Ghost." But then I saw Shatner worked. His voice was just distinctive enough to make the character amusing and memorable, and just subtle enough to keep it from getting annoying.

Which brings us to another point: The voice actors were all understated and restrained enough that they didn't get annoying. Not even Wanda Sykes as Stella the skunk, whom I expected to be teeth-gratingly awful with her "OH NO YOU DI'INT I'M A SASSY BLACK WOMAN" schtick. Steve Carrell played a hyperactive squirrel, but his character was used sparingly enough that you don't get sick of him. Probably the only disappointment was Avril Lavene as Heather the opossum. She wasn't bad, but this was a part that could have been played by just about any random teenage girl pulled off the street so I have no clue why they picked her for this.

   0 comments - posted by Mike @

Thursday, December 09, 2004

I only have one thing to say...

Don't you just love the direction this country is going in?

Those damn cartoonists... next there'll be DANCING!

   3 comments - posted by Tyler Sticka @

Thursday, December 02, 2004

Will Vinton...

This started out as a response comment to Mike's comment on the last post, but grew so long that I decided to just devote a post to it.

Will does a monthly animation screening (last one was just "will's pix," showing us various pieces of Academy Award-winning and -nominated animation, the next one is a look at Tex Avery and Chuck Jones), organizes/moderates panel discussions (last one was "Creative Mavericks," a talk with design heads, very cool) and also does neat things like comes into classes to talk about animation.

I've had the opportunity to go to his events four different times, speaking to him three times. He's a really nice guy who REALLY loves this stuff. It's a real shame what happened with Phil Knight essentially booting him out of his own company, but right now Will's new company (Freewill Productions) has a couple projects in development for two major networks (not sure if I'm allowed to mention them yet, though), so he's still doing quite well.

An interesting sidenote... according to some Oregon news page I have yet to recover, the "straw that broke the camel's back" and led to Will being fired from his own studio actually had to do with the CGI Popeye special. Will Vinton Studios was originally the company who was slated to create it, but there were disagreements between Vinton and the other bigwigs. Will wanted to create something that both children AND adults could enjoy (like any animation with any real staying power), while the corporate guys wanted something SPECIFICALLY aimed at children. His refusal to back down ultimately cost them the job, which has since been given to Mainframe, and we've all seen how that's going.

I have another instructor teaching a black-and-white design class who freelances for Vinton Studios. If you've ever watched The PJs or Gary & Mike, you've probably seen her work... she's one of the people who designs and creates the characters' clothing. :-)

   0 comments - posted by Tyler Sticka @

I was approached to possibly do some Beatles caricature illustrations (early 60s versions) by a possible client about a month ago, but unfortunately the further we got into the process, the more I realized they just wanted me to mimic another artist's style, one that was quite different from mine (plus, that just feels kinda sleazy anyway). Just found the caricature on my hard drive and decided to share it with you:

Had the opportunity to talk to Will Vinton again, here's a paraphrasing of his thoughts on The Polar Express and why it doesn't work:
When you get to a point where the animation is that realistic, psychologically people are going to be comparing it to live action, because it's closer to that than it is a cartoon. And animation just can't mimic all the subtle nuances that a live actor can. I mean, Tom Hanks is a great actor in real life, but this robs him of a large portion of that.

I agree! Right on, Will.

Look, I drew Popeye in my cartoon journal!

Okay, I'm done pimping my own artwork now. Go read Cartoon Brew if you were looking for insider commentary. ;-)

   1 comments - posted by Tyler Sticka @

Sunday, November 28, 2004

I may very well OD on animation...

So today I have acquired SEVEN (count them) SEVEN animation DVDs. Six of these were found in one of those KB Toys cheapo DVD bins (James knows what I'm talking about). These are all, I'm assuming, public domain, and despite the "Digitally Remastered" banner displayed proudly on the front of each, I think the only "remastering" done to these was transferring them from bootleg VHS to DVD. But hey, they only cost $1.66 a piece (advertised at 3 for $5.00), and for an animation geek like me, that's good enough.

My absolute favorite of these so far has been the Felix the Cat DVD. It's one of the rare ones that actually contains a majority of the cartoons advertised (for example, the Betty Boop DVD is made up largely of Popeye, while the Popeye is made up largely of Superman), and the line-up has some great toons in it:

April Maze
False Vases (my personal favorite)
Forty Winks
Neptune Nonsense (color)
Bold King Cole (color)
(a cartoon with the title card missing) (color)
Tom Thumb (Produced by Ub Iwerks, music by Carl Stalling, actually okay quality)
Ali Baba (same as previous)

I also received my Wacky Races DVD set from Jerry Beck's Cartoon Brew trivia contest (I won second place in one of them). I'm currently working up a thank-you for him, and can't wait to watch it. The box is gorgeous, actually... these guys must have a blast designing these.

And also, I had to show you a scanned version of a very quick flipbook animation I did for an introductory animation course:

Hey, does Mike still exist??

   1 comments - posted by Tyler Sticka @

Tuesday, November 23, 2004

This is just stupid.

I couldn't believe my eyes when I read THIS. How ridiculous! All this patent bullshit is getting way to out of control.

   2 comments - posted by Jim @

Monday, November 22, 2004

Pixar fans will definitely want to read this article. And if you're a big Pixar fan, you'll then want to defiantly spit upon the boots of Michael Eisner.

Toy Story 3? Give me a break...

   2 comments - posted by Tyler Sticka @

Sunday, November 21, 2004

Rolling Stone has posted another shining review of the Polar Express. (note the sarcasm in that last sentence)

Saw the Incredibles again today with some friends who couldn't help but go see it after my raving about it. Last night I saw the Spongebob movie. It watched a bit like Nick just went to the people who made the toon and said "make one of these, but three times longer." Which I'm not sure if that's a good or bad thing yet.

But you DO get to see Spongebob drunk. That's something.

   1 comments - posted by Tyler Sticka @

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