December 22, 2005
If you've tried to sign up for one of our newsletters or simply drop us a line recently, you've probably run into trouble—we didn't realize it, but our host had a configuration problem that kept our forms scripts from working. Everything has been straightened out, though, so if you've been looking to sign up for any of our three newsletters, you can head right over now and click to join.

If you're one of the people who tried to join but were blocked by our little glitch, don't despair: you can catch up on the last six months worth of Flicker newsletters in our archive.
December 18, 2005
Montrealers have a chance to see a well-selected program of animated films for The Film Society's Christmas screening on Wednesday.

It begins with stop-motion animator Ivo Caprino's feature Pinchcliffe Grand Prix (the French version, Le Grand Prix du siècle, will be shown). Philippe Spurrell, who programs The Film Society screenings using 16mm prints from his personal collection, found some interesting facts about the film:
  • It's shown on Norwegian television every Christmas Eve.
  • Since its premiere on August 28, 1975, the movie was shown at a cinema somewhere in the world every day of the week, for 28 years, mainly in theaters in Norway, Moscow or Tokyo. The non-stop run ended in 2003.
  • Caprino was a perfectionist. The animated band plays the correct notes in correct timing to the soundtrack.
The film will be preceded by an equally impressive selection of shorts:
  • An early Caprino short, The Steadfast Tin Soldier, and a personal favourite
  • Special Delivery, directed by John Weldon and Eunice McAulay, and produced by the late Derek Lamb.
  • Will Vinton's A Christmas Gift, a clay animation achievement

When: Wednesday, December 21 at 7:30 p.m.
Where: Faubourg Tower at the corner of Guy and Ste-Catherine streets, Room 401
Cost: FREE, but space is limited to 25 people, so please arrive early if you want to get a seat.

You are encouraged to bring drinks and snacks for the intermission.

The Film Society meets every second Wednesday and regularly features animation from around the world.

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December 12, 2005
The eBay portion of the charity auction managed to raise some money for the Canadian Cancer Society, and you made it happen. As Emru mentioned, there are items in our silent auction, including the soundtracks, Corpse Bride posters and last-minute donations from Autodesk.

This is just one of many examples of how the animation community has organized itself to help others:

In November, Mo Willems, creator of Big Sheep in the City, held the Pigeon Auction (he also wrote the fantastic children's book, Don't Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus!) to benefit the educational and children's programs in New Orleans. He gathered donations from Brad Bird (The Iron Giant and The Incredibles), Pete Docter (Monsters Inc.), Andrew Stanton (Finding Nemo and A Bug's Life) of Pixar and Mr. Warburton, creator of Codename: Kids Next Door along with donations from prestigious writers and illustrators. The droolworthy items helped to benefit the Foundations for Recovery.

Animate Clay! is run by stop-motion animator Marc Spess, who is producing his own stop-mo film, Zombie Pirates, and donates 50% of the profits of the autographed edition of his how-to DVDs and CDs to raise money for the CITE fund, which benefits the Centre for Industrial Techonology and Enterprise in the Philippines. (Even though he'll tell you about CITE, you can also donate to Marc's film, which is self-financed).

Blue Sky Studios just began a charity auction that continues until December 19th, and it looks like it is gonna blow up, it has so much goodness in it, including original artwork from Ice Age and Robots.

All this to say that many people in the animation community have big hearts: The people who put together fundraising projects in their spare time, the sponsors who give items for a good cause, and the animation-lovers who each buy something, big or small, which ends up adding up to a whole lot. That's what makes the animation community just that: a community.

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This year's charity auction is just a few hours away from drawing to a close. But, as I explained yesterday, there's more to come.

We're holding a silent auction for about 30 of the remaining items, starting at midnight tonight. If you want to take a shot at some of these items, be our guest: everything you need to know is on our auction page.

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December 10, 2005
Just got a note from Michael Sporn that he's created a website for his studio. If you read my review of a handful of his films a while back, you'll remember I referred to his style as "lo-fi" (in a good way); his site's the same, with hand-drawn menus and titles.

If you take a look through the Filmography, Clips and Sporn-O-Graphics sections, you get a nice 25-year visual overview of Sporn's work, including the most recent The Man Who Walked Between the Towers, which is shortlisted for an Oscar. This was the first time I'd had a chance to see images from the film; I'm quite curious to see it.

(Also, you have to give him credit for the best name for a blog, like, ever: Splog.)
If you read our publicity, you'd think this year's charity auction ended on Friday. And you'd be right... almost.

It turns out that some items will be available for a little while longer, for a variety of reasons. Here's the lowdown:
  • I made a mistake when I entered the Gorillaz vinyl figures in the initial listing, making their auctions ten days long instead of seven. Their auctions will end on Monday, around 11:30 a.m. EST.
  • Autodesk got seven 3ds max tutorial DVDs to us a little late in the game, but we figured with the Gorillaz figures already extending the auction by a few days, we might as well add them in. Their auctions end on Monday also, except...
  • ...as reported earlier, eBay pulled the auction listings, saying that we weren't conforming to their policies for fundraising auctions—contradicting earlier discussions we'd had on the very same subject. So we decided that these items would be part of a 48-hour silent auction that we will be holding from 11:59 p.m. Monday to 11:59 p.m. Wednesday (these times are also EST).
  • Finally, we also decided to extend the silent auction offerings to include selected items.
Between now and Monday, we'll be posting a list of the items that will be included in the silent auction, as well as an explanation of how the auctions will proceed.

Thanks to everyone for your help so far; to date, we've raised about $1,300 for the Canadian Cancer Society. We'll provide a more complete accounting of this year's results after the silent auction has concluded and we've calculated the eBay and PayPal fees, but right now it's gratifying to report that we went well past our minimum goal of twice last year's contribution.

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December 8, 2005
A few recent developments in the auction affecting bids for those interested in software:


eBay has pulled some of our new additions provided by Autodesk, thanks to their automated software, meant to "protect" valid charity auctions, and customer service representatives who provide contradictory responses even though we conformed to their policies. Twice. We're sorry for any inconvenience this caused to the bidders of these items.

Instead of relisting them a third time, we'll be holding a 2-day silent auction for them by email shortly after the auction ends for most items. Please check back to the auction item page or the homepage this Saturday, December 10 for full details.

The auction listing for Toon Boom Studio Express V2.5 has managed to obtain a bid $1 higher than its suggested retail price. As a result, Toon Boom Animation will be doing an auction "upgrade." The winner of the auction for this item will get a copy of Toon Boom Studio Express V3 instead.

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December 7, 2005
Heavens to Murgatroyd! You've helped raise 800 dollars so far for the Canadian Cancer Society and there still a few days to go. Hopefully, fps will be able to fulfill its goal and present a cheque for at least $1000 dollars to the CCS.

Asian pop culture fans out there will surely help, with all the anime, manga, manwha, and anime-related soundtracks and posters up for bid.

Some highlights:
If you want to double up on your karma, bid on an anime item, and if you win, donate it to your local anime club library or a local library (with a sympathetic librarian). Just a thought. I totally understand if you want to keep it for yourself.

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The best thing about short animated films is that they're where the true innovations in storytelling and technique emerge. The second best thing is that when they're compiled on DVD, you can pretty much stop and start them at will.

I have here the first five volumes of The Best of the British Animation Awards, a collection of UK animated shorts from 1994 to 2003, which I've been patiently watching for the past four or five months—a few minutes here, a few minutes there, as time permits. (The DVDs are PAL but region-free, which means you either need to own a multiformat DVD player, or be willing to watch these in front of your computer screen.)

Because the discs were released to coincide with the Awards themselves (the next will be held in March), the films are roughly chronological, so I kept an eye open for trends. The only one I could find was the inevitable one: technological progression. The very first short on the very first disc, the cartoony Scat, the Stringalong Cat (1995), is just low-res enough that jaggy pixels are visible throughout, and the background is a particular shade of purplish blue that almost screams "digitally made." You can tell that director Ian Sachs has got more than his share of animation chops, but there's a sort of uncertainty about how the computer is melded into it. On disc 3, Tim Hope is using 3D animation software to replicate a flat, cutout world in 1999's The Wolfman, working in concert with a delirious spoken-word narrative to provide a bizarre, hallucinatory experience. On disc 5, where all the films are from 2002 to 2003, digital fingerprints are all over everything. None of the films sport jaggies, but they're every bit as funny, poignant or surreal as anything hand-made on disc 1. From novelty to just another tool in eight years.

Other than that, each disc is what it should be: an approximately 90-minute collection of shorts with a wide variety of styles and subject matter that mostly happen to be, well, the best. And British, which is a key point. Film festival regulars are used to seeing an international cross-section of films (disc 1 alone includes fest favourites Ah Pook Is Here, Hilary and Triangle, all from 1994), but many of these are less well known outside of the circuit, such as the aforementioned Wolfman and award winners like Flatworld, Silence, Father and Daughter. Where else are you going to see these deservedly acclaimed films?

That's not to say there aren't misfires—aside from its colour scheme, How Mermaids Breed (2002) utterly failed to capture me, largely due to its uninspiring CGI, for instance—but overall, this is a fantastic collection of the cream of animation's crop over a span of eight years, and as such this is essential viewing.

The Best of the British Animation Awards, Vols. 1-5
The British Animation Awards
92 minutes per disc
Buy The Best of the British Animation Awards from the BAA website

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December 6, 2005
A holiday tradition returns tonight for its 40th year on broadcast television: A Charlie Brown Christmas. You can bid on the book all about the making of this Christmas special, and there are some other great books in our charity auction, too. The auction includes two books by Jerry Beck, who has also just written about the recovery and restoration of puppets from Rudolph, The Red-nosed Reindeer on Cartoon Brew.

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December 5, 2005
There's some great opportunities for you to pick up items to make your own animation in this year's auction. In addition to the donations from Digital Tutors and Toon Boom Animation, Autodesk has delivered a last-minute donation of items that have just been added and they'll be up for auction from today, the 5th until Monday, December 12. (Psst - the Gorillaz action figures are 10-day auctions and will end on the same day.)

Check out the entire list of software here.

Also, if you're that special brand of computer animator that has to get your geek on, ya gotta check out these t-shirts from Your Next Tee, also on the block. I am seriously into that I Bleed Pixels shirt. Umm, does my purchase include the guy in the shirt? It might affect my bid.

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December 4, 2005
If you're a stop-motion fool like me or love Tim Burton, there are some choice items in this year's auction.

Mike Johnson, who directed the animation for Corpse Bride (and all-around great guy) signed some marquee posters and one hardcover copy of the making-of book, Tim Burton's Corpse Bride: An Invitation to the Wedding and they're both on the block.

There are also three cute mini-posters (unsigned, two of which are shown here, the other looks like the marquee poster).

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December 2, 2005

The fps online charity auction is underway.

Finally.

There's tons of cool swag, including a sold-out Noodle action figurefrom the Gorillaz Red Edition series by Kid Robot. The other band member action figures in the series, each limited to 2000 pieces, are also up for auction.

Over the next few days, I'll be highlighting a few items up for auction.

All profits go to the Canadian Cancer Society.

More details here.

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December 1, 2005
If you haven't checked out the auction page, then you might not have realized that this year's charity auction, which was supposed to be ending tomorrow, has actually been postponed—it will now be starting on Friday. It turned out that eBay had, in recent months, changed their policies regarding fundraising for charities, forcing us to delay the auction while we worked with them and the Canadian Cancer Society to make sure the listings would comply with the new system.

It all works out in the end, though. The week-long delay has allowed us to ferret out even more goodies, including Geneon's recent donation of 60 soundtrack CDs and some autographed Fragile Machine posters. There may yet be more on the way.

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