Astro Boy is Getting a Reboot. Here’s the trailer!

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So the last couple of weeks, this video has been making the rounds on the interwebs. Apparently, French studio Caribara Animation, Monaco studio Shibuya Productions and Japanese studio Tezuka Productions are all teaming up to produce a reboot of the famed Astro Boy series, giving the new show the obvious title, Astro Boy Reboot.

Astro Boy is no stranger to telling and retelling. After the initial 1960’s adaptation of Osamu Tezuka’s manga, two additional animated series were produced, one in the 80’s and one in 2003. There was also a CG movie in 2009. Nicholas Cage was a mad scientist, which wasn’t as entertaining as that sounds.

The funny thing about Astro Boy is that, even though he’s considered a quintessential icon of Japanese animation, he’s never gotten a lot of love from here in the states. Maybe this more westernized direction will catch on? Anyway, this looks interesting. I like the art style and the music is just beautiful. I’ll keep my eye on this one.

What do you guys think? Is this a good direction for Astro Boy to go? Sound off in the comments.

Dan Deacon Has a New Video… and It’s Awesome!

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Last month, electronic composer Dan Deacon released his new album, Gliss Riffer. If you’re not already listening to this guy, you should be. His genre-blending music is as eccentric as it is passionate. His sound is experimental, glitchy and totally unique.

Oh hey, Adult Swim has a show that fits that last description! Airing at the graveyard slot of 4am is Dave Hughes’ hidden gem, Off the Air. Each episode sees Hughes editing music videos, animations, stock footage and other internet oddities into and 11-minute something-or-other revolved around the episode’s theme. Think of it like Liquid Television, but with even less context.

My excuse for cramming these two disjointed paragraphs into a single article is the latest collaboration between the two artists: a music video for Deacon’s new single “When I Was Done Dying”. It’s a 5-minute spectacle featuring the work of 9 immensely talented animators (most of whom have been featured on past Off the Air episodes), pieced together by Hughes into a single, cohesive, symbolic journey molded to Deacon’s euphonious tones and metaphysical lyrics. From the trippy CGI of Taras Hrabowsky to the fluid motion of one of my personal favorites, Masanobu Hiraoka, this thing is absolutely packed with inspired visuals. Check it out if you’re a fan of abstract animations, or if you just want to see collaboration at it’s finest.

As a little something extra, I’ll let you know that this isn’t the first time Deacon and Hughes have teamed up. Back in 2013, coinciding with Deacon’s appearance on the Adult Swim Singles Program, a special episode of Off the Air was set to Deacon’s 20-minute (!) feature, “U.S.A.”. I’d definitely say to check it out, just be aware that there’s a little bit of simulated, NSFW nudity towards the middle.

If you enjoyed these videos and want to see more, Adult Swim has an ongoing online live-stream running all of the Off the Air episodes in a loop. You can also find the music of Dan Deacon on iTunes.

The One-Man Oscar After-Party

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Well, the Oscars have come and gone. And what a show. Neil Patrick Harris was fantastic as host, we had a couple of heartfelt speeches and we had some amazing nominees. This has been one of the strongest Oscar seasons I’ve seen in years, not to mention the first time I’ve gotten the chance to see every nominated movie and short film before the ceremony.

So here’s what I’m gonna do today: for a few select awards from last night’s show, I’ll pull from a list of the nominees and recommend one of the ones that didn’t win the Oscar. Here we go!

Best Live-Action Short: Parvaneh

This is a really hard one to choose and, really, I recommend that you look up all of the nominees. The fact the my personal favorite, The Phone Call, won the award last night isn’t making this any easier. But if I had to choose one, I would recommend Pavaneh. 

Pavaneh focuses on an immigrant from Afghanistan trying to send money to her family overseas to pay their doctor. In her struggles, she ends up developing a friendship with a native citizen who tries to show her life in the city. It’s a captivating piece, well worth a watch.

Best Animated Short: The Dam Keeper

Again, if you can find a way to see all of the nominees this year, you should. Each and every one of these is a gem. But my favorite of the bunch is The Dam Keepper.

The Dam Keeper focuses on a young pig with an important job, keep the dam up and the windmill running. Keep the darkness at bay. For his troubles, he is ridiculed and ostracized at his school, until he develops a friendship with a newly-arrived student.

Nearly dialogue-less, this short is able to sell all of it’s emotion off of the animation and a few stock sound effects. It’s a beautiful and heartwarming piece.

Best Feature Film: Whiplash

Once again, a tough choice, made even harder by the fact that my favorite, Birdman, took home the gold. I also know that my choice is not going to be a popular one, but my second favorite movie this last year was Whiplash.

Whiplash focuses on college-age drummer Andrew Neiman (Miles Teller) who get swept up into the top competing jazz class. These “studio players” are led by the conductor Terrance Fletcher (J.K. Simmons), an abusive teacher whose aggressive treatment pushes Andrew to the extreme in the pursuit of Fletcher’s approval. What results is an intense and thought-provoking look at the unhealthy addiction to accomplishment, filled with stellar performances and an enticing jazz soundtrack.

What were your favorites this year? Let me know in the comments!

Something to Watch/Listen to: “We Were Young” by SRTW

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Yeah, I know. It’s a little cheap to have both of this week’s posts be about animated music videos. But I really like the look and feel of this one, so let’s talk about it.

Trunk Animation brings us a stylish music video for SRTW’s single “We Were Young”. It’s a dance track, so the lyrics are relatively few and come around in circle. The video responds to this by showing animated cycle of everyday activities repeated multiple times.

It’s got a great minimalist art style and a great color scheme. When set to a soothing track like this, you’ve got a great gem to watch. Take a look!

For more music from SRTW, you can check them out on SoundCloud. For more from Trunk Animation, check out their official site.

Something to Watch/Listen to: “Many Chances” by BRNS

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Who’s up some music-driven animation? Animator Nicholas Fong has directed a music video for the indie band BRNS. Namely, a video set to “Many Chances”, a single from the band’s first LP, Patine.

It’s a darkly-colored visual journey of an evolving creature. One that fights to survive, consume and grow. A pleasant, minimalist art style and some fluid animation makes this video shine. Take a gander at this!

Like the song? Well that LP I just named (which, again, is called Patine) was released digitally a few months ago. You can find it on iTunes here.

For more from BRNS, you can check out their Tumblr. And for more work from Nicholas Fong, you can visit his Vimeo page.

Spotlight on The Great Nordic Sword Fights

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You see a portal open above you, one made of glitchy patterns of various colors. You crawl through and explore a world that resembles a broken PS2 game. In front of you, a low-polygon version of Morpheus from The Matrix quaking in terror while pointing his gun in your general direction. You have entered the world of the strange, the uncomfortable, the surreal.

You have entered the world of The Great Nordic Sword Fights.

The Great Nordic Sword Fights is an experimental director duo made up of visual artists Kristel Brinshot and Ricky Johnson Jr.. They have made everything from music videos, to web-based promos, to random acts weirdness. If you’re looking for an act that can provide something you’ve never seen anywhere else, look no further.

Okay, what do they make?

In terms of the music videos they’ve worked on, there’s always this trippy little gem. Take a look at the video set to “Personal History” by Alpine Decline.

Or, if indie rock isn’t your thing, maybe take a look at what they imagined for “Cadillac Dreams” by Birdy Nam Nam.

For a look at their original short films, It’s hard to go wrong with BEACH BUMS. Just a bunch of surfer dudes looking to catch some waves. Take a look.

Cool! So where can I find more about them?

You mean like who they are or what inspires them? Well, that’s a little tricky. These two don’t seem very interested in talking about themselves on their own time. Their official site only contains links to their contact info, social networking pages and where to watch their work. And even on their social pages, the biographies don’t do much to provide insight.

But there is one thing that might scratch that itch. A tiny bit of research led me to an article from Los Angeles I’m Yours, where they interview Kristel and Ricky about their work and what motivates them.  It’s worth a read.

Alright. Anything else I should know?

Well, there’s one more thing. They made a video game. For a single, “Girl Behind The Glass” by the electronic group Groundislava, they essentially made an interactive version of one of their music videos you have to download it from the band’s site, but it’s definitely worth a look.

That about covers what I know, but I only showed you a small sample of what they’ve done. I definitely recommend you check out their Vimeo and YouTube pages and do some exploring. There are few out there that do what these two do, and they deserve all the credit in the world for what they’ve put out.

Something to Watch: “Rainbow Narcosis”

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Welcome to the weekend! Wanna start off your stay with something especially trippy? No? Well you’re getting it anyway!

Just added to Vimeo’s staff picks is a weird little piece from animator Jonathan Monaghan. He calls it Rainbow Narcosis and… I really have no words that can describe it. Um, it’s about a sheep? Enjoy!

Confused? So am I! But if you want to see more of Monaghan’s work, feel free to check out his site.