Surf's up -
When I was a kid, cartoons were best watched on Saturday mornings. That is, that's when you could most easily find them in abundance. Nowadays, there are whole networks devoted to 'toons, and the web is rife with animation. In other words, you could easily spend every waking minute watching one kind of animation or another.
The range of quality for online animation is startling. This week's column is devoted to some of the best ... and to some other stuff, too.
"Logorama" won the Oscar on Sunday night for best animated short. It runs just 16 minutes long, and many of its stars - hundreds of them, actually - are world-famous. They're not people, though; they're logos. Nonetheless, they're characters in this remarkable film, with attributes that are, well, like people. I wonder how many media literacy courses will take advantage of this clever film.
Granny O'Grimm's Sleeping Beauty
While "Logorama" got the big prize in L.A., I actually liked this Irish short even more. Granny O'Grimm looks just like your stereotypical sweet-hearted granny ... until she starts talking, that is, and you realize her bedtime story is infected with a lifetime of repressed anger. Don't get the wrong idea: this is hilarious, and (to use a local frame of reference) like something Codco might have cooked up. It looks great, too. The best news on the site: the makers are planning a series.
How They Donut
One of the other nominees in the best animated short category featured a cheese-loving Englishman and his silent, remarkably efficient dog. Wallace and Gromit have had Oscar love before - three times, in fact - so perhaps it was someone else's turn. I haven't seen the new short, "A Matter of Loaf and Death," yet, but I had a good laugh watching this, a making-of special ... with a joke of a title to match.
More and more, I love the NFB site, which offers crisp, high-quality uploads of shorts and full-length films. "Runaway" is the third film by animator Cordell Barker, and it's a hoot, what with a cast of characters about a train gone wild, accompanied by a pulsing, rhythmic score ... but oblivious to the dangers that are literally around the bend. Barker made "The Cat Came Back," a Canadian favourite, in 1988; you can watch that online, too, if you poke around for it.
Don't have the time today to commit to most animated shorts, even those running just seven or eight minutes? "Hungry!!" will do the trick, since you can see the whole thing (girl meets muffin, muffin gets revenge) while you're dialing a number and waiting for someone to pick up.
RenderMan is a propriety system that Pixar uses to make movies like "Up," "Wall E" and more; you can actually buy a copy for yourself, if you've got the cash. Movie fans, though, will dive right into the rich material on this site, which explains fully how those amazing details in Pixar movies come to be. Remember the realistic food in Ratatouille's kitchen sequences, for instance? You'll learn how the artists made the grapes and steaks look good enough to eat, and then some.
Elsewhere this week
George Murray is a St. John's writer, and the author of Bookninja, a book-focused blog that has a worldwide following. He's also a renowned poet. You can read one of his poems, "Whiteout," here in the prestigious literary journal Granta, and listen to Murray read it, too.
Google may be the default choice for looking stuff up on the Internet, but always remember that even Google has its limits, and other tools can be very useful for finding particular things. BoardTracker specializes in following that old-fashioned corner of the web, the message boards. They may have flourished even before the boy-band era, but they're still vital.
John Gushue is an editor with CBC News online in St. John's. Blog: johngushue.typepad.com. Twitter: @johngushue.