Dia de los Muertos – Short Film

Here in the US, the day after Halloween seems to be reserved for laying around in a candy coma and scooping up rotting pumpkin off the front stoop. But for our neighbors to the south, today is one of three days devoted to the remembrance of family who have died, the holiday Día de Muertos.

This lovingly crafted short film by HouseSpecial’s Kirk Kelley is a great way to dive into the holiday. Each scene is beautifully lit and evocatively shot, as the reflective mood that begins the short seamlessly gives way to the (pardon the pun) liveliness of the dead’s celebration. I also love how richly textured this short is, with every stone, candle and bone taking on unique qualities of their own.

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Häagen-Dazs “Maker Street” — Ad

I love a good animated advertisement.

I know, I know — these days that seems a bit like saying I like wet water, since every commercial on TV now seems to have a significant amount of animated/CG content. But that’s not what I really mean here. I’m talking about fully animated ads, the kind that invent a magical world where baby polar bears play (and drink coke) and cookies are made by exploding chocolate chip volcanos. Those are the commercials I still remember from my childhood (even if I often forget the product they were selling), and I still enjoy seeing some of the better ones that make it on the air now.

Of course, the operative word in my declaration is that I enjoy good animated ads. There are many places that crank out the cheapest CG character they can get and use that gimmick in place of paying for any good ideas or actors (yes, I’m looking at you “The General” insurance ad). The good ads, though, take time to create any impressive and cohesive space that reifies the commercial’s pitch and makes you want  to keep paying attention even if you already have an opinion on the product.

This Häagen-Dazs “Maker Street” commercial is a great example  what makes a good animated ad. It takes a simple theme and adds a fun and expressive color palate, impeccable stop motion (and adds to the “artisan” theme of the ad), and makes the whole thing enjoyable to watch. Not surprisingly, this is another one from the HouseSpecial studio (whose work I have covered before), a company that has a great track record of making these high-quality, artistic ads.

The Alchemist’s Letter — Trailer

Even though I consider myself something of a short-film fanatic, it isn’t often that the teaser for a festival-circuit short film gets me more excited than the glitzy feature film trailers that most often make the rounds. The trailer for Pixel Veil Productions’ The Alchemist’s Letter — due to screen in festivals this year — is a definite exception, and may be one of the more exciting films coming out this season. Directed by Carlos Andre Stevens (an award-winning commercial director at HouseSpecial), the story follows Veridian, a young man who, upon his estranged father’s death, discovers that his father built a gold-making machine powered by his own memories. Embarking on an enchanted journey through the vessels of the machine — an exploration of the alchemist’s most precious memories — Veridian is given one last life lesson, and a chance to save his own relationship with his daughter.

Wonderfully inventive and visually stunning, The Alchemist’s Letter was brought to life by artists from the acclaimed stop-motion studio Laika (The BoxtrollsParanorman) and HouseSpecial (formerly Laika/house). While there is no word yet on which festivals will be screening this gorgeous film, I am definitely keeping my fingers crossed that there will be an opportunity to see this one soon.

Learn more about the film at www.alchemistletter.com.

The Legend of Cranky Verne – Short Film

Happy Thanksgiving, animation lovers! This year, I am thankful for all the funny, quirky people out there who decided to turn their talents toward animation. This week’s short film, The Legend of Cranky Verne, is the product of a few such wonderful people, courtesy of HouseSpecial. I love the blend of hand-drawn  and stop motion animation here, which really gives the image a nice texture, and the sound of the chicken hitting the pile at the end made my day. Plus, although Cranky Verne isn’t a turkey, this should get you in the mood for some poultry eating this week (or put you off it entirely… it could really go either way). Bon appétit!

A Tale of Momentum and Inertia – Short Film

Here’s a wonderful, ultra-short film guaranteed to brighten up your week. A Tale of Momentum and Inertia, made by the outstanding animation company HouseSpecial, is a perfect example of how to tell a big story in a small space. Perfectly timed to get a big belly laugh, this one has already been making the rounds on bigger sites but was so enjoyable I had to share with the brave few who follow this blog. Happy viewing!

ESPN Believe – Ad

Well, I had said that I might post another ad from Laika/house (now HouseSpecial), and this one seems appropriate for this weekend, since Laika’s The Boxtrolls just opened and Monday night football is back. I love the expressionist setting (who hasn’t felt that the world has gone grey when their team is down?) and how effectively they get a laugh into this short spot. I’m looking forward to seeing what HouseSpecial turns out following the spin off from Laika proper.