Animation Craft Design
An Adorable Hand-Crafted Totoro Collection Celebrates the Studio Ghibli Icon
The iconic round-bellied Totoro of Studio Ghibli’s (previously) My Neighbor Totoro stars as part of a broad array of new collectible ephemera paying homage to the anime icon. Created by teams of craftspeople connected to Nakagawa Masashichi Shoten, the series translates the fluffy, two-dimensional character into adorable wooden sculptures made of camphor, the tree Totoro occupies in the film. Paired with textiles, ceramic works, and paper boxes all featuring the character, the collection follows the highly anticipated opening of Ghibli Park late last year, giving fans of Hayao Miyazaki another opportunity to enjoy his beloved animations.
The Totoro objects will be available through a lottery opening on March 1—find details on how to join on the Nakagawa Masashichi Shoten site. Watch the video below and visit Spoon & Tamago for more insight into the process behind the collection and an upcoming opportunity to view a live demonstration.
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A New Photo Book Spotlights What Remains of American Movie Theaters
Lights, camera, say goodbye to the action. A new book titled Movie Theaters is the culmination of two French photographers’ shared attempt to document the grandiose, historical, and now vastly altered landscape of American cinema. Yves Marchand and Romain Meffre have been traveling the U.S. since 2005 capturing the torn vinyl seating, chipped paint, and sometimes wildly transformed architecture of more than 200 shuttered venues. Published by Prestel, the photos are a visual memorial to a once-thriving industry and part of a broader effort to save what remains.
The first public theater in the U.S. opened in 1905 in Pittsburgh, and as a result of the boom in entertainment in the early part of the century, film studios began to commission architects to design elaborate auditoriums that were extravagant in aesthetic and often celebratory in function: ranging in style from Spanish gothic to art nouveau, most feature massive marquees flanking the entrance, ornamental trim lining high gilded ceilings, and rows of plush seating that could comfortably accommodate hundreds of people. “The movie theater was the cathedral of the beginning of the 20th century,” Meffre told Fast Company.
By the end of the 1920s, 20,500 venues were screening films, but that success began to dwindle as people bought TVs in the 60s and again decades later when streaming services became ubiquitous. Following additional closures spurred by the COVID-19 pandemic, that number dropped once more, leaving less than 5,500 theaters open in 2020.
Many of the buildings Marchand and Meffre visited over their nearly two-decade project are either abandoned in states of decay or firmly in their sequel, having been revitalized into new spaces like bingo halls, warehouses, and markets. Paramount Theater in Brooklyn, for example, now houses basketball courts, while others like Fox Theater in Inglewood contain remnants of their once-opulent architecture peeking through the otherwise derelict surroundings.
Some venues, including the strange storage space that was the Spooner Theater in the Bronx, have been gutted or razed entirely since the duo snapped their interiors. “The only thing that’s left is a picture,” Meffre said. “We hope that by showing many remarkable buildings in a state of decay, people will notice.”
To see dozens more of the forgotten venues, head to the pair’s Instagram and pick up a copy of the book from Bookshop.
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The Wolf House: A Horror Film Plunges into the Disturbing Mind of a Child through a Blend of Stop-Motion Animation and Murals
Joaquín Cociña and Cristóbal León descend into the psychologically disturbing world of a child escaped from religious fanatics in their feature-length film The Wolf House. Layered with audio of unsettling voices and the quiet mutterings of a young girl, the grotesque animation seamlessly blends horror and documentary as it recounts some of the tragedies of the Colonia Dignidad, the post-World War II colony that was established by Germans and Chileans under the dictatorial rule of General Augusto Pinochet. Founded in 1961, the isolated area was infamous for torture, internment, and murder, and The Wolf House showcases its impact on a child who takes refuge in a strange house.
Fans of filmmaker Daisy Jacobs and artist BLU will recognize some of the methods used in Cociña and León’s work, including classic stop-motion techniques and painting directly on the walls of the set. Characters shift constantly, whether between two and three dimensions as they morph from murals into sculptural creatures or as they contort their bodies from life-sized forms to massive heads and from human to animal.
Cociña and León, who are from Chile originally, have been collaborating since 2007 and lead the Santiago-based production company Diluvio. You can stream The Wolf House on ScreeningRoom, and see more of the duo’s genre-bending work on their site and Vimeo.
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Design History Illustration Music
Inside Information: Cross-Sections of Retro Technology Reveal Historical Moments of Iconic Objects
As part of an ongoing series titled Inside Information, U.K.-based design studio Dorothy explores some of the most iconic designs in the areas of film, music, personal computing, and fashion through clever “cutaway” infographics. Each illustration reveals a miniature isometric world packed with historical moments from famous concerts that used the Vox AC30 amplifier to films that utilized the Arriflex 35 IIC handheld camera, which transformed movies forever. All five of the Inside Information graphics are available as three-color litho prints on its website. (via Colossal Submissions)
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A Disorienting Short Film by Lydia Cambron Recreates ‘2001: A Space Odyssey’ in Quarantine
Eerie, hypnotic, and faithfully depicting the dismal reality that is 2020, a new short film by Lydia Cambron envisions her recent quarantine experience under the frame of Stanley Kubrick’s 2001: A Space Odyssey. In 2020: An Isolation Odyssey, the New York City-based designer recreates the 1968 version’s iconic ending as a way to “(poke) fun at the navel-gazing saga of life alone and indoors,” she writes in a statement.
Positioned vertically, the characters’ movements are synchronized perfectly, but while the original film’s Keir Dullea wades through the ornate home in an astronaut suit, Cambron sports a face mask and latex gloves. The reenactment is situated in the designer’s one-bedroom Brooklyn apartment, and while it maintains the domestic qualities of the original, it also features contemporary updates, like a MacBook sitting on the table rather than a lavish meal. She even parallels the minutes-long credits precisely.
Cambron notes that the contemporary version considers a similarly disorienting life. “Multitasking while #wfh, conjuring guilt or longing with unused exercise equipment, your entire being reduced to a measure of time—these scenes all illustrate the absurd comedy of trying to maintain control during this unprecedented and unpredictable time,” she explains.
Follow Cambron’s parodic explorations—which include an annual exhibition titled JONALDDUDD— on Instagram and Vimeo. (via Daring Fireball)
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Contemporary Films Are Reimagined as Vintage Book Covers by Illustrator Matt Stevens
Generally, the adaptation pipeline begins with books and ends in film, but Charlotte-based designer and illustrator Matt Stevens has turned that process around. For an ongoing project that’s simply titled Good Movies as Old Books, Stevens reimagines contemporary movies as vintage paperbacks and cloth-bound texts, covering Bong Joon Ho’s Parasite, Jordan Peele’s Us, and Damien Chazelle’s Whiplash, one of the illustrator’s favorite editions. “A movie I love, the idea came quickly and easily, and it really captures something about the film and the jazz-era style,” he says.
The project has culminated in a series of prints and a forthcoming book, which Stevens recently launched as part of a Kickstarter campaign. “From my ever-growing and changing master list, once I hit 100 entries, I will have a list of about 40 that I wasn’t able to include,” he says. “Maybe a volume 2?” Keep up with all of Stevens’s new releases on Instagram. (via Plain Magazine)
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Editor's Picks: Animation
Highlights below. For the full collection click here.