Produced by Mike Judge and Don Hertzfeldt
Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1, 1.78:1, 1.85:1
Running Time: 103 minutes
Audio: Dolby Digital 2.0 stereo English
MSRP: $ 19.99
Release Date: June 3, 2008
Review Date: June 1, 2008
Mike Judge and Don Hertzfeldt have gathered together for a third time a sensational selection of animated shorts from around the world and are presenting them under the omnibus title The Animation Show, Volume 3. Unless one is lucky enough to sit on the selection committees for film festivals and award nominations boards, it’s tough to actually get to see very many short international animated films. This collection places many of the best from the last several years (the earliest copyright in the set is 2004) in one convenient package, and even when one or two don’t quite measure up to the animator’s potential, they’re all worth seeing and almost all worthy of many repeated viewings.
The styles on display in this set are as many and varied as the possibilities that currently exist with animation. There are examples of 1-D, 2-D, and 3-D techniques, both traditional line animation and CGI toons, some realistic and some abstract. There’s something for everyone here (Forrest Gump and his box of chocolates would understand completely), and though some would be distinctly R-rated (if they were rated at all) there are certainly some that are family fun as well. Some will remind you of Pixar’s style and sense of humor (“Versus” and “Astronauts”) while others are unlike anything you’ve ever seen (“Rabbit,” “Tyger,” “One D”). Bill Plympton scores two home runs with his hilarious “Guide Dog” and “Shuteye Hotel,” while more experimental combinations of media like “City Paradise” and “Abigail” don’t quite fit any category but don’t work quite as well as their makers might have wished.
Mike Judge has his Beavis and Butthead introduce the program in a one minute quickie. Here is the rest of the lineup with the time for each short in parentheses and a brief critique of each film in the program. The asterisk (*) denotes shorts that are not in 4:3 but rather 1.78:1 or 1.85:1:
“Rabbit” (8:14) - a marvelous short done in the style of a child’s pre-primer reader but with a distinctly adult point of view
“City Paradise” (5:57) - unusual but probably my least favorite short
“Everything Will Be OK” (17:00) - drawn with stick figures and using split screen, another weak entry
*“Collision” (2:30) - the most abstract of the shorts, a kaleidoscope of color and music
“Astronauts” (8:21) - some delightful deadpan humor in the Pixar vein
“Carlitopolis” (3:30) - a live action/animation split screen blend
“No Room for Gerold” (4:52) - CGI animal roommates have a falling out; average but droll
*“Guide Dog” (5:46) - hilarious sequel to Plimpton’s “Guard Dog”
“One D” (4:38) - as the title implies, a story told in (mostly) one dimensional lines
“Tyger” (4:50) - beautifully moody combination of live action puppet work with 2-D animation
*“Versus” (5:37) - unquestionably the funniest short in the bunch; another Pixar clone with a nod to Looney Tunes
*“Learn Self Defense” (5:05) - “instructional” comic animated video with a serious message
*“Abigail” (6:16) - not altogether successful but another bold attempt at something different
*“Shuteye Hotel” (7:00) - masterful cartoon noir with a nice twist
“Dreams and Desires” (9:55) - thick Irish accents require a second viewing where it gains in hilarity; very arresting drawing in this short from multiple points of view
“Game Over” (1:35) - a clever paean to Atari games like Space Invaders, Frogger, and Pac-Man.
The shorts are in varying aspect ratios which are rendered faithfully on the disc (see above list for those not in 4:3). Though there is sadly no anamorphic enhancement, the shorts still look quite wonderful in terms of color saturation and sharpness. Only “Carlitopolis” looks a bit soft and unappealing. There are no digital artifacts present to spoil the viewing experience.
While not every short has a dynamic soundtrack, some of the programs have quite surprisingly robust sound mixes which the Dolby Digital 2.0 stereo track handles nicely. “Everything Will Be OK” may be a fairly weak short in terms of story, but its audio mix is among the most impressive in the entire collection.
Animator Gaëlle Denis talks about her early career, the idea for “City Paradise,” her use of blue screen, the music she chose for the short, and the combination of 2-D and 3-D techniques in her film. This short interview lasts 6 ¼ minutes.
Max Hattler’s interview goes into details about his abstract piece “Collision” which was three years in the planning and only six weeks in execution. His talk lasts 4 minutes.
“Abigail Animatic” replays the short “Abigail” and by using as many as four split screens also allows the viewer to see the original storyboards for the short and the live action filming done for the piece. It lasts 6 ¼ minutes.
Animator Joanna Quinn discusses her animation career beginning with the award winning “Girls’ Night Out” and how she wanted very much to continue the character of Beryl in other shorts including “Dreams and Desires” included in this collection. It runs 8 ¼ minutes.
There is an 8-minute introduction to MTV’s The Maxx.
Placing the disc in a computer allows a computer’s PDF viewer to read 11 full length text interviews with the animators on this program.
There are trailers for MTV television programs including Rob & Big, Human Giant, and previous collections of The Animation Show.
An outstanding assortment of the best of the international short animated film world, The Animation Show, Volume 3 is a must for fans of innovative, thought-provoking (and oftentimes funny) modern animation. It comes highly recommended.