Ottawa International Animation Festival 2009: Day 2: Tooned Up
It’s a good life when your job involves watching cartoons.
Attendees at the Day 2 Television Animation Conference (TAC) address got to watch some seriously funny cartoons. David Silverman, animation director and producer long associated with The Simpsons, let Homer talk for him through selected clips screened during his speech. And with grainy black-and-white footage showing comedic inspiration as a backdrop, Silverman went on to explain the origin of Homer’s famous “D’oh!”—culled from the exclamations of such comic greats as Oliver Hardy and the Three Stooges.
Silverman also recalled how he got involved with The Simpsons back when it was first created as part of The Tracey Ullman Show. Silverman credits his admiration for the work of Matt Groening (Life in Hell) for his decision to work on the show.
“We didn’t know if The Tracey Ullman Show would get picked up or if The Simpsons would get picked up as part of the show,” Silverman recalls. “We worked hard… all hours of the night. We were trying to please ourselves.”
Years later, that philosophy still holds as Silverman has continued work on The Simpsons show – directing 22 episodes – as well as directing The Simpsons Movie. Other credits include working with DreamWorks on The Road to El Dorado as co-director and with Pixar on Monsters Inc. as co-director.
During his talk, Silverman went on to screen more Simpsons clips, including parodies of animation styles and animated characters. From a Steamboat Willie-style Itchy and Scratchy cartoon to a crazed Japanese “Mr. Sparkle” commercial, these toons are both clever and funny.
And to top if off, Silverman sang the “Spider-Pig” song from The Simpsons Movie.
Yeah, it’s a good life.
Two young animators – Rich Murray and Martin Young, of Toronto’s Rich Toons – were attentively listening to Silverman’s comments about working on a hugely successful series like The Simpsons. The pair has been pitching their creation, Johnny Genre, at TAC to everyone who would listen – and when they weren’t pitching, they were practicing pitching.
According to the Johnny Genre pitch bible, when the challenges of life have him cornered, 12-year old Johnny finds himself in the world of the movies and actually living the adventures of his favorite genres. From Indiana Jones-style adventure to Hitchcockian intrigue, from super heroics to high school musicals, from racetracks to wizard school, Johnny never knows what he’s in for until he’s right in the middle of a crucial scene. The show is aimed at ages 6-12.
Murray and Young have also worked on a series of teen-targeted animated webisodes at myteenlounge.com for the Upper Canada Mall (north of Toronto). “We have to creatively slip in references to new stores or merchandise or the teens will tune it out,” Murray comments. He says that the mall recently ran a Guitar Hero challenge, and the reward was an animated walk-on role by the winner, with a photo also appearing as the credits roll.
The site makes use of social networking too, with the characters having their own MySpace, Facebook and Flickr pages.