In 2008 I posted work in progress for this short film: ANNABEL LEE (reel) I have several personal projects in the works, but this is the one that's farthest along. It's a companion piece to THE POE GALLERY.
This is a very short film, comprised of 18 shots. Here are some layouts for the short. I started working on them in the summer. Now they are ready to be taken to final color and compositing. Everything in red tones is an area or layer that will animate or have an applied effect.
This animated short produced by Format Films is based on a Ray Bradbury story and was adapted by Bradbury and George Clayton Johnson for the film. Johnson is best known for co-writing the sci-fi novel, Logan's Run and for writing several Twilight Zone episodes. James Whitmore and Ross Martin, well known character actors narrate the film.
Joseph Mugnaini, who had illustrated many of Bradbury's works and was a close friend did all of the artwork for the film himself. Producer and executive producer were Jules Engel and Herb Klynn respectively, who had worked at UPA for several years before branching out to start their own studio, Format Films.
Mimi-nashi Hoichi, or Hoichi the Earless is one of some 20 ghost stories and strange tales from ancient Japan. Originally published in 1904, Kwaidan was the culminating life work of Lafcadio Hearn (1850-1904) a writer of Greek/Irish descent who devoted the last 14 years of his life to living and working in Japan, writing books about the culture and translating into English the Kwaidan tales. These tales also inspired the Japanese film of the same name: Kwaidan (1965)
Hoichi the Earless is the tale of a talented, blind musician who lives with Buddhist priests. One night he's escorted from the temple to give a command performance to a private audience. Hoichi is unaware that he's been escorted to a cemetery and that his performance is for the dead warriors and courtiers of an ancient clan killed in battle.
When the priests and Hoichi discover this, it is too late. To protect him the priests paint his entire body with prayers, to ward off the spirits. They have neglected, however, to cover his ears. When he is summoned again that night, the ghostly escort cannot see Hoichi save for his ears...so he tears them off of the musician.
11" X 11"
Time-Lapse (Watch on YouTube in HD)
Ubazakura (Cherry Tree of the Milk Nurse)
Ubazakura is the story of a milk nurse who sacrifices her life to save the young girl in her care. Before she dies the milk nurse asks the family to plant a cherry tree for her to the god to whom she prays. For the next 250 years the cherry tree blooms on the anniversary of the milk nurse's death.
The tale of a hunter/falconer who searching for game one day encounters Oshidori (Mandarin Ducks). To kill these ducks is bad luck but the hunter is hungry, so he shoots the male. Later that night the hunter is visited in his dreams by the spirit of the female, who escaped. She curses the hunter, tells him he cannot imagine the horrible thing he has done by killing her husband and tells him to go see what he has caused the next morning, at the same river. When he does, the female duck does not fly away. She swims towards the hunter, then tears open her own body with her beak, killing herself...
The hunter shaves his head and becomes a priest.
Two woodcutters are caught in a terrible snow storm. Finding shelter in a boatman's hut the men encounter The Woman of the Snow. She kills the older man, turning him to ice. But she is attracted to the younger woodcutter and spares his life on the condition that he never speak to anyone about what he has witnessed.
The young man recovers, meets a beautiful woman and marries. They have several children and though they are poor, they are very happy. Years later he tells his wife about the night long ago, and the Woman of the Snow. He cannot remember if it was real or some strange dream. Yuki, his wife tells him it was no dream and reveals her true form as the snow witch. She curses him for breaking his promise to her and spares his life only for the sake of the children. In the next moment..she leaves him and the children forever.
Over the last several years I've gathered a lot of film images. Whether for composition, lighting or color I use them as reference and general inspiration. I like viewing films in this contact sheet mosaic, like a color script brought to its final conclusion. I've also posted some individual shots. So that each post didn't get too long I narrowed those down to six, a random number but one that made me choose favorites. Visit the blog here:
Several months ago I posted some images of Paul Julian's ARTWORK. Below are the films and title sequences of that work. Prior to his stint at UPA, Paul Julian worked at Warner Bros. as a key background artist on many Looney Tunes (circa 1940-1952).
These films, however, and his titles are my favorite pieces he created. The Tell-Tale Heart is probably the most well-known of the group. I found a DVD copy of The Hangman from a UK vendor. Although the print is scratched, it's the best color reproduction I've seen.
The title sequences vary in quality but were compiled from the best online and DVD sources I could find. This post was a way to have the films available in one spot for inspiration.
A commissioned illustration for Written By the magazine issued to members of the Writers Guild of America (West) every other month. This summer issue celebrates the life and work of Ray Bradbury who turns 90 this August.
I'm a huge fan of Bradbury's work, so this was a dream project. Thank you to Roger Allers, who recommended me for the assignment.
10 1/2" X 13 1/2"
Some slight adjustments were made to Ray's face for the final cover. At (left) is the original gouache. At (right) the digital pass.
THE MANY FACES OF RAY
There is so much to pull from Bradbury's writings, but in the end I opted to keep the piece simple and contain most of the story references in Ray's coat, making him the IllustratedMan.
In 2007 Bradbury received the Order of Arts and Letters medal (above), the highest cultural honor bestowed by France.