Site created 12/15/97.
review added: 10/4/99
1999 (1999) - Image
Entertainment/Odyssey Productions (Image)
review by Todd Doogan,
special to The Digital Bits
Disc Ratings (Video/Audio/Extras):
Specs and Features
57 mins, NR, full frame (1.33:1), single-sided, single-layered,
Snapper case packaging, film-themed menu screens with animation,
scene access (18 chapters plus the bonus, only accessible through
the menu screen), language: English (DD 2.0), subtitles: none
I thought that since
this disc is really the sum of its parts, I'd discuss each short
separately. For those with no patience, this disc is very good. The
animation is all top-notch, and all are very well represented on
this DVD from Image. There is no digital noise anywhere on this
disc, and the sound is very rich for being a stereo track. The
minute it hits the shelves, I think all the computer animation fans
out there should line up at their favorite shop and pick this one
up. Okay, for those who have the time, here's the blow by blow.
Pets (1996 - directed by John
Lally and Valerie Mih for the University of Southern California) is
pretty much a direct (and admitted) rip-off of the much better made
claymation masterpiece Creature Comforts,
done by Aardman Animation and Nick Park, who gave us Wallace and
Gromitt. This time, the accents are American, and the animation is
with computers. Essentially, it's real life human voices that were
recorded and put under different cartoon animals. What they say is
funny in the context we see them, like a hyper hamster with a club
chick voice talking about talking with herself, or a porcupine that
likes to give sensual message. Video quality is pretty sharp, with
good colors and no artifacts, which is pretty much the norm. The
animation is pretty good, but the audio more often than not sounds
like it was recorded over the phone. The production looks like a
college class project... and it is. But that doesn't really hurt it
-- it's still a worthy tribute to Creature
The Persecution (directed by
Victor Garrido) seems like a video game outtake or a presentation
piece. That's not meant as a slam. The animation is pretty sweet. A
Tolkienesque elf is caught snooping around a tree fortress, and is
chased by a band of monster lizards in battle uniform. There's no
dialogue, but this is swift cutting-edge animation that isn't too
cartoony or too realistic. I'd like to see more of this if there is
more, or is going to be more.
Note: Ask and you shall recieve. Thanks to
Bits reader John, we have a
little more info about this short. The scene on this DVD is taken
from a film project called Luna.
There is another long scene (that really kicks butt), a face study,
and 24 production stills from this project at Victor Garrido's
page. Check it out, it's pretty cool.
Vache Folle (1997 - directed
by Samuel Tourneux) features a bored cow, who hears laughter around
her, starts spinning her tail and shoots up into the air, where she
finds a cloud city... which is occupied by other cows, those gag
cans of cow noise, and mis-colored Barney clones. Eventually, she
finds herself in space on a magic train, and almost getting hit by
Starsky And Hutch, all to the
music of The Divine Comedy.
This is a very fun piece that takes you by surprise. I actually
laughed a bit about it. The picture quality is nice and bright, but
some parts of the image take on an overly digitized look, like when
the camera pans across the grass. The sound is well done and uses
the stereo mix very well.
Ticked Off (1998 - supervised
by Ron Crown, Casey Kwan and Alan Harrison for Vancouver Film
School) stars a wild boar and her husband, who debate the merits of
joining Noah on the ark. Well, she debates the merits, and he just
shuffles through the paper and states that he's not going. Of
course, she has other ways of making him go. This isn't very funny
-- more annoying than anything else. The animation is very good
though. Plus the sound is well created as well. The rain constantly
playing throughout is kept audible, but hardly noticeable unless
you're listening. The image quality is top notch with good colors
and a sharp well-created picture.
Carved Journey (directed by
Jin Park) is one of those traditional "bright lights, sound
effect heavy" computer animations The
Mind's Eye is famous for. A ball of light travels through
a cavern of prehistoric art, and as it passes, each image comes to
life, until the light eventually meets others like it, and they
combine to create a larger light which heads out into space. Ho-hum,
good animation, great sound but too typical. It's very talented, and
the images are wonderfully rendered, but with so many other fun
things on this disc, you'd think this was an outtake from an early
volume of The Mind's Eye
computer animation series.
The Hungry One (directed by
Steve Rawlins) is a laugh riot, and is totally original, with a
great cartoony feel and a nice twisted sight gag. It's a short tale
of two penguins, one of whom is expecting something from the other.
I'm not going to say how this plays out -- suffice it to say that
it's really well done. The animation is crude, but so fun to look at
you won't mind -- it actually gives the penguins some great
character. The colors are sharp and the video is clean. There's also
some nice sound play with this one. Jump to The
Hungry One right away when you get the disc.
The Physics Of Cartoons - Part 1
(directed by Steph Greenberg) is a college lesson of sorts, on how
the physics of cartoons actually work. It's nothing fans of
animation haven't seen a thousand times before in Tiny
Toons Adventures, Animaniacs
or Cartoon Network commercials. Two cartoon characters demonstrate
how each element works, as a narrator gives the lesson. The
animation is very traditional looking, but done with computers, and
looks pretty good. The dialogue track seems a bit muffled (not a
problem with the disc, but rather with the production). The other
sounds are done a bit better, with music and sound effects befitting
a traditional Warner Bros. cartoon.
H2O (directed by Aaron J.
Hartline) features an unseen guy, who exits a bathroom after
flushing the toilet, and accidentally leaving the sink running. Some
of the water comes to life (a la The
Abyss), and tries to turn off the faucet, only to find
out a surprising discovery. Looks good, sounds good. It's very
impressive, but hardly ground-breaking story wise. I think the title
card (with the film credits) is longer than the short itself though.
Bowtie Blues (1997 - directed
by Terry Sanderson for Vancouver Film School) is another cute one
staring a snowman, whose bowtie gets blown off his chest, and sent
scatting into the breeze. No self-respecting snowmen can live
without a bowtie, so he heads after it, only to find a snowman
graveyard of sorts. Look for the snowman from the Pixar short Knickknack
(1989) to drop in for a cameo. Bowtie
Blues is very well done and worth checking out. It
features some great character animations, nice action, and it has a
pretty cool look and feel. The music is also very nice, and the
entire stereo track is well used.
In CPU (directed by Wayne
Gilbert) a little man fights with a loud computer to get his work
done, only to crash it and have go back to the drawing board --
literally. This is a great commentary on computer animation itself,
and an ironic medium to do it in. The animation is actually very
crude, but done well enough that it tells its story without any
words. The picture quality is super, and the sound is grating
(purposefully) and well created. It's a very nice addition to this
Last Call (directed by Jaime
Castaneda) What's a little Mexican shot glass to do when he gets
separated by his buds in a closed bar? Well, the answer lies in this
ingenious short. The little shot glass comes face to face with
French wineglass nymphets, and German beer mugs, and finds help from
a gallant straw. This is a nice extension of the tradition "night
life" of inanimate objects idea, created by the early pioneers
of animation, and it's incredibly well done, with it's use of light,
shadow and glass. This is probably one of my favorites on this disc.
rockpaperscissors (produced by
Matt Rhodes) is one I didn't think would ever end. Man, this short
is about as thrilling as a real game of Rock, Paper, Scissors. A
rock, a sheet of paper and a pair of scissors battle it out for
control of the top of a desk. It goes on and on, and just when you
think it's going to end, like a Coyote/Roadrunner cartoon it just
stars up again -- but without a shot of the wit of an actual
Coyote/Roadrunner cartoon. The animation is very typically rendered,
and there are only a few moments that I could say I liked (like the
paper repairing itself after being stabbed by a pen Terminator
2 style). The look of the short is fine, with sharp
picture and good sound -- it just bored me. Quick, next one...
A Narrow Martian of Error
(directed by Marcus Hart and Angela DiMeglio for Ringling School of
Art and Design) stars a Martian, who is getting ready to send a
present to Earth. His workshop consists of pyramids, Easter Island
statues, and Stonehenge. But the party is crashed by an Earth probe,
The Voyeur, whose robot pilot finds a rock in the hand of the
Martian but doesn't sees the Martian. "No life forms present."
And off he goes. The short is very cute, with some good animation
and nice sounds to boot.
Love And Rockets (supervised
by Ron Crown) features robots that fight over the love of a female
robot in a Wild West of the future. In a traditional "high noon"
duel, these robots go at it with huge guns, tons of ammo and nuclear
arms. Of course, it would help if these robots had any aim. The
winner is the one who doesn't die with his boots on, but when it
comes to nuclear weapons, does anyone really win? In this well done
animation, you won't really be surprised who ends up with the girl.
There's some great light and shadow work here, but the best aspect
of this is the subject matter. Some of the animation is a bit stiff
and not as fluid as one would hope, but it's still pretty darn good.
Fly Hard (1997 - directed by
Gino Della-Savia, Peter Haralabous, Greg Tareta and Nick Michaleski
for Vancouver Film School) has another little penguin, who dreams of
flying, and comes up with all kinds of ways to keep up with a flock
of geese headed south for the winter. In another ode to Chuck Jones,
the penguin falls hard, but always keeps his hopes up that someday
he will fly. I do agree with the ending: sometimes it's easier to
take a bus. The animation is more cute than incredible, but this is
one of the toons on this disc that really uses the sound field. Nice
music, heavy effects, and a few explosions thrown in, made this a
treat for the ears as much as it's a treat for the eyes.
The Sitter (supervised by
Lian-Yuan Wang) Did Ridley Scott do this one? No? Oh, well... if he
was a computer animator he might have. There's a nice heaping
spoonful of David Lynch thrown in as well, as we are shown an
entertainment unit in the future, that takes care of babies locked
in storage chambers with only television screens showing their
crying faces. At least that's what I got out of it. It's pretty
freaky, and some of it looks pretty real. It's a well-done short,
with a solid picture and sound.
Bingo (directed by Chris
Landreth) is definitely the big piece on this disc, and it's pretty
sweet. Bingo is a vignette
written by Greg Kotis for stage production by the Neo-Futurists in
Chicago. Alias/Wavefront used it to show off their animation skills,
and it's very impressive. It appeared first on the Film
Fest disc we
back in June. It looks pretty good here, but I liked it better on
the Film Fest disc. It seems
too dark here, but I'm not faulting this disc or that one, I just
felt that the color and detail came out better on the other disc.
It's definitely worth checking out on either disc. If you're a fan
of computer animation, just get this disc now, because you'll enjoy
this short enough to make it worth buying. The story is simple: a
young man is barraged by a group of clowns who call him Bingo,
ignoring his pleas that he isn't Bingo. Eventually he starts to
actually believe he IS Bingo -- but it might be too late. It's very
good, with some really great animation.
DVD Bonus Film: Jataka
(directed by Neal Nellans) Jataka
seems to be a spoof of sorts, of all those video games about
treasure hunting. It has animation much like these games, there is
problem solving, stunt work and a level boss -- but there's
something different going on. Is it a moral? I dunno, but this is a
pretty engaging animation. The camera seems to go into a Japanese
painting, and we see a treasure hunter heading into a cave. He
starts to collect these magic stones, until he notices he is being
hunted by a tiger-like creature that is protecting the treasures.
Will the hunter defeat the tiger beast, or will the tiger beast win?
The animation is pretty solid, much like you'd see on a Playstation
game, with cool sound design and great color, light and shadow work.
The image gets a bit digital at times, but it's so fun you won't
care. It's definitely worth picking up the DVD for.
There you have it -- another solid disc from Image, and another
great set of computer animated shorts to show off the ol' DVD player
for all your friends. It's amazing how far computer animation has
come since The Mind's Eye
first looked our way. My only question is: when is the next set