May the 4th Be With You

I’ve been waiting all year to post this… The original Star Wars trilogy, in Lego, in two minutes, told in shorthand, by a child. Lots more Lego Star Wars films on the official site.

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Posted in Film, Toys. | No Comments |

The Thief and the Cobbler by Richard Williams

This entry was originally posted 28th October 2008 on my old Myspace blog, before this site existed.


I have been obsessed with this film since I saw a couple of clips in a documentary called ‘I Drew Roger Rabbit’ back in the late 80’s. It is / was the life’s work of the legendary Richard Williams, who most people will know for his animation on Roger Rabbit. For those that don’t know of it, it’s no big surprise, it’s history is long, complicated and it is still unfinished in the form it’s creator intended. There is an DVD in existence but this is a pale shadow of it’s intended groundbreaking form which Williams has disowned.


A short history of the production: it was begun in the sixties and loosely based on both Aladdin and the Sufi stories of the character Mulla Nasrudin, some of which Williams illustrated in early editions. It was his intention that it would compare to the early Disney greats and feature some of the most jaw dropping animated sequences ever made, all hand drawn, no computer imagery involved. And it does, from the footage I’ve seen, it delivers several scenes of breathtaking brilliance that have to be watched repeatedly just to pick up just how much detail is in them.


Williams worked in advertising primarily and headed one of the leading animation studios in the UK. He was responsible for lots of adverts you would have seen as a child (if you live in the UK) such as Frosties’ Tony The Tiger, the Listerine Dragon or the Pink Panther selling TDK video cassettes. But all the while he was churning out work that paid the rent he was chipping away at his big project. He used actors such as Vincent Price, Anthony Quayle, Sean Connery and Kenneth Williams, constantly revisiting them over the years to re-voice parts as the story changed. By the time Roger Rabbit hit he was an industry legend and finally the larger public also knew his name – it was time to seize the moment and finish his masterpiece. A deal with Warner Brothers meant he worked full time on it for a number of years but financial troubles and missed deadlines bought bankruptcy and the film was taken from him.

Warners finished the film without him, cut it to bits, added and deleted characters and released it as ‘The Princess & The Cobbler’, a thoroughly bastardised version of the original and miles away from Williams’ original vision. The film was later recut again and released as ‘Arabian Knight’ for the US market which ended up wrecking it even further. Even the release of a DVD was so poor it garnered an award for the worst standard edition DVD of 2006. Williams wasn’t involved with any of these versions, having disowned the project when it fell out of his control.


All was not lost though, with the internet, and like anything that promised so much but fell at the last hurdle, (think Brian Wilson’s ‘Smile’ LP) the cult of the Cobbler has grown over the years. Starting in 2004, a fan and industry insider, Garrett Gilchrist, collected all the best sources he could find, including a copy of an original workprint of the almost finished film. He then assembled a ‘Recobbled Cut’ of the film as Williams would have had it and made it available on the web. When I found this I couldn’t believe it even existed, this was too good to be true, a film I never thought I’d see and now someone had gone to the trouble to assemble all the finished parts into a semi-coherent form.

But there was more, a new blog was started last year simply called The Thief by some of the original animators and staff on the project. They post anecdotes, line tests and technical details behind various scenes along with with in-house memorabilia and countless other things privy only to those involved in such a production. This is also one of the reasons I’m writing this blog now, they have recently initiated a poll in an attempt to drum up an official DVD release of the surviving parts of Williams’ version. Finishing the actual film seems out of the question (Williams rarely wishes to discuss it) but there is a wealth of material finished that ranks amongst some of the best animation ever produced. Various restoration projects have been started over the years and here is another attempt to set the wheels in motion to give it some form of dignified release to the public.


This film is a legend in animation circles and it slowly seems to be coming to light via the web (it already has a lengthy Wikipedia entry). I urge you to check out Garrett’s website for more info on a copy and see it, marvel at it’s contents and then tell someone else. Maybe check out the Thief blog for more of the background behind it or add your vote to the poll to have a DVD released by the studio that holds the footage. Whatever you do, try and make time to see it in some way as it is a superhuman feat in a medium that has become dominated by computers – they simply don’t make them like this anymore.

Posted in Art, Film. | 1 Comment |


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A new film about the history of Richard Williams‘ ‘The Cobbler & The Thief‘. I’ll have to dig up my old blog on this from my myspace days, if you’ve never seen or heard of this film there is good reason, and the story behind it is as fascinating as the animation, one of the great unfinished masterpieces of art.

Posted in Film. | 3 Comments |

Destiny, Dali & Disney

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“68 years ago Disney has asked Dali to draw a cartoon film which would be an embodiment of idea of surrealism, but turned out it was so unusual to the ordinary spectator that display have closed and have not given to publicity already till 2003.” Thanks to Kelly for the hook up.

Posted in Art, Film. | 1 Comment |

New Wagon Christ video – ‘Chunkothy’

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Taken from the new Wagon Christ album ‘Toomorrow’, out now on CD, LP and download

The ‘Chunkothy’ video is directed and animated by Celyn Brazier at Nexus with Beccy McCray providing invaluable production skills. Bali Engel helped colour and provided the beautiful animated sequences for the insect loop and fishes. Margot Tsakiri-Scanatovits and Manav Dhir also provided colouring skills and contributed to the animation of the insects. Steve Mc Inerney constructed the final edit with perfect timing and imagination.

The animation was created in Photoshop, with most sequences on one layer. It was as simple as that really. No gimmicks, no tweeny motion tricks, no cgi.  Celyn created small beat guides for reference, sometimes following the rhythm, for example on the bouncy ball loops, but mostly as many random patterns and as much weird sh*t that she could possibly make in six weeks.

Celyn Brazier – directing, deigning, colouring, animating
Beccy Mccray – producer
Steve Mcinerney – editor
Bali Engel – colouring, animating
Margot Tsakiri-scanatovits – assistant colouring
Manav Dhir – assistant colouring

Posted in Design, Film, Music, Ninja Tune. | No Comments |

Belbury Poly Youth Night, Brighton

Gutted I can’t go to this as I’m out of the country, lots of my favourite artists on one bill.

Live sets from Moon Wiring Club and Pye Corner Audio, Ghost Box & Outer Church DJs a screening of Julian House‘s short film Winter Sun Wavelength, Public Information Films, lost television and other odd visuals.

Thursday 14th April 7.30pm – 12.00 midnight

Tickets £7
Box Office: 0845 293 8480
Resident Records: 01273 606 312


Posted in Film, Gigs, Music. | No Comments |

Christian Marclay’s ‘The Clock’

I saw about 90 minutes of this last night at the Hayward Gallery on the Southbank. They were screening the entire 24 hour film for free but for one day only so, by the time you read this, it will be over I’m afraid. Marclay’s piece is made from hundreds of snippets of films with the constant being a clock, or time keeping device, present in each scene. The piece starts at 6pm and every clip corresponds to the actual time you are watching it which creates a vortex in which you are hyper aware of each passing minute.

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It is hypnotic, fascinating and frequently funny, even though there is no plot, central character or conclusion in sight. The soundtrack creates amazing tension and release moments too, as you can imagine. If a clock is featured in a film it’s usually signaling someone waiting or something about to happen, a race against time or some sort of horror about to awaken. The approach to the hour becomes the equivalent of a major plot event and something that you’re willing to happen faster than it ever will. I saw the section before midnight and on the hour there was a large montage of clocks striking terror into the heart accompanied by suitably demonic music, all ended by a hilarious clip of a grandfather clock opening to reveal a zombie woman which was so perfectly timed the whole audience burst out laughing.

Most people won’t be able to sit through the whole thing and you don’t need to to ‘get’ it but there’s much more to the piece than the basic premise. Certain images become a recurring motif ; lighting candles or ringing phones for instance, and footage from several films repeatedly crops up giving it a certain continuity. I was surprised at how watchable it was, despite having no ending in sight. Waiting for a bus on Waterloo Bridge sometime after 1am, I looked across the river to the see the giant clock near Enbankment Station, as if starring in my own personal version of the film. Recommended viewing even if you can only catch a small portion of it.

Posted in Art, Event, Film. | No Comments |

‘The Crow’ animation by Tom Webb

DJ Food – The Crow Animated from Tom Webb on Vimeo.

Tom Webb contacted me with this film he made as part of his 3rd year Illustration Minor project. It’s the first half of the DJ Food track ‘The Crow‘, written by PC, from our Kaleidoscope LP. Here are his comments about the making of it;

“I set myself the task of trying to illustrate the DJ Food album Kaleidoscope. Initially, I was trying to produce stand alone images but eventually decided to dive into the world of animation for the first time. I created a sequence for the first half of The Crow. I was hoping to animate to the whole track, I storyboarded a lot of it but the deadline got the better of me.”

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“The images were created as spontaneous responses to the sounds and atmospheres I was hearing inside some of the tracks. I started investigating ‘Full Bleed’, ‘Cookin’, ‘The Riff’, ‘The Crow’ and both the ‘Sleep Dyad‘s’ a lot because of their particular energies.

The idea was to finish making the image before the track finished, so I started painting with my hands to help speed things up and build a small library of personal reactions in texture. I then scanned the images at hi-res and chopped out suitable macro sections which were then imported into the animation. There was a lot of trial and error involved. It’s also the first time I’ve had a go at animating so I had to learn the program from scratch as well.”

I personally love the syncopation he’s got and the movements from dark to light corresponding to the moods of the track. You can see more of Tom’s work on his blog

The Force is weak in this one

Posted this on Facebook last night but don’t want it to get lost in the ether. Apart from being a car ad that isn’t generic and instantly forgettable this perfectly shows what it’s all about for a 5 year old. It’s also one of the rare occasions you don’t want to wring George Lucas’ over-sized neck for whoring the Star Wars franchise to death.

Posted in Film, Oddities. | 1 Comment |

Reso – War Machine (DJ Food unofficial video)

I got sent the new Reso ‘Valken’ EP yesterday and was so taken with the lead track – ‘War Machine’ –  I decided to make a video for it using animation from Vexille, Appleseed and the end titles of the first Iron Man film. If you like your music heavy, intricate and indestructible and your robots the same then this is for you.
The EP is out on Civil Music on February the 21st and contains four tracks.
Posted in Film, Music, Robots. | 5 Comments |

Lejf Marcussen – Den Offentlige Rost (The Public Voice)

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Yet another late 80’s coincidence: I saw this film in late ’89 or early ’90 on UK terrestrial TV as filler between programs. I’ve wanted to see it again for over 20 years and I finally found it on YouTube. It’s an animation by Danish director Lejf Marcussen called ‘Den Offentlige Rost’ (The Public Voice, 1988) and it’s a simple idea executed fantastically. It starts out pretty simply but starts getting interesting around the 2.40 mark and it’s all done by hand, no computer graphic trickery apparently – stunning. I can only keep searching for a better copy now.

Posted in Art, Film, Oddities. | 1 Comment |

Fishbone’s ‘Everyday Sunshine’ documentary

FishboneI seem to be on a late 80’s kick at the moment and one of my favourite bands as the the 80’s turned into the 90’s was Fishbone. I saw them at least twice but missed their legendary Astoria gig where Angelo jumped off the balcony because my girlfriend at the time decided to dump me that day. One of life’s big regrets. Seems they’ve been around for 25 years now and, even though their recorded output fell off by the mid 90’s, they still hold a place in my heart.

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A new documentary is doing the rounds called ‘Everyday Sunshine’ – named after possibly their biggest hit – and you can see how influential they were at the time by the names cropping up to pay homage. Chuck D, Flea, Ice T, Perry Farrell, George Clinton, Les Claypool and, er… Tim Robbins and Gwen Stefani (!). Fair enough on Gwen, No Doubt were a ska band before they hit the big time. Anyway, the trailer looks very promising, Larry Fishburne narrates (nice touch) and let’s hope they get the dues they deserve after all these years. There’s a full website devoted to the doc and the DVD should be out late summer.

Also, does anyone remember an early 90’s TV show with David Rappaport called ‘Beyond the Groove’? I think it only ran for one series and it was a music show fashioned as a road movie of sorts. David would drive around and meet people or find himself in different situations and bands or artists would appear and do their thing. Fishbone once featured at the end of one episode when David drove into a deserted outdoor film lot, the screen flickers into life and you see the band doing a live version of ‘Behaviour Control Technician’ from their (at that time unreleased) ‘Reality of My Surroundings’ LP. I had it on videotape for years and tried to find it recently but it had been taped over! Nothing on YouTube, in fact very little about the show at all, if someone has a copy of it, I’d love to see it, likewise their performance of ‘Fishbone Is Red Hot’ on the Big World Café programme.

And here’s the ‘Beyond the Groove‘ clip courtesy of Matt Davies (see comments below), thanks so much – the power of the internet!.

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Posted in Film, Music. | 13 Comments |