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The critically acclaimed French/Belgian animated documentary Approved for Adoption has lined up some US release dates. Distributor GKIDS will open the film beginning November 8 at the Angelika Film Center in New York, and November 22 at Laemmle Music Hall in LA. Expansion to other cities will follow. The film, directed by Jung Henin and Laurent Boileau, has picked up numerous awards on the festival circuit, including the Audience and UNICEF awards at Annecy in 2012.

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The 1931 Max Fleischer cartoon Bimbo's Initiation is a miracle of awesome, fleischerian weirdness. It's the last Betty Boop cartoon that was personally animated by her creator, Grim Natwick. It's so delightfully bizarre (Leonard Maltin called it "the 'darkest of all" of Fleischer's work), and the perfect way to end the weekend.

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Now in its 25th season — with a 26th on the way — The Simpsons has taken to producing elaborate homages to other works of entertainment. In October, the show's creators recruited Guillermo del Toro to put together a lengthy Halloween-themed intro sequence that toasted classic horror films and referenced the director's own work. Now The Simpsons has created a similar tribute to the films of Studio Ghibli's Hayao Miyazaki.

Miyazaki bid farewell to film-making last September after the Japanese release of Studio Ghibli's The Wind Rises. The director and animator is best known for his work creating anime as iconic and well-loved as My Neighbor Totoro and Spirited Away, and the short Simpsons segment above — part of forthcoming episode "Married to the Blob" — is packed with references to his 11 movies. Highlights include Otto's stint as a Simpsons-ized Catbus, and Patti and Selma riding broomsticks borrowed from Kiki's Delivery Service. You'll be able to see the whole episode and pick out additional nods to the esteemed director and his influential animation studio this coming Sunday on FOX.

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Original author: 
Amid Amidi

For his thesis film at the Animation Workshop in Denmark, Giovanni Braggio made a helpful tutorial to teach the masses how easy animation can be:

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Original author: 
Chappell Ellison

Art of the Title, an addicting resource with dozens of high-def clips, recently posted their Title Design Finalists for the SXSW 2013 Film Awards. Of the animated title sequences, The Man Who Shook the Hand of Vicente Fernandez and ParaNorman are standouts: the first for its use of vintage woodblock typeface and spaghetti western aesthetic, and the latter for its 1950s horror-inspired design. Both sequences are richly nuanced, and imply an understanding of the history of typography and graphic poster design. This applied visual knowledge is the direct result of the collaboration between animators and designers.

Title sequence design has evolved since the days of Saul Bass, Maurice Binder and Pablo Ferro, some of the most recognized godfathers of the artform. More and more animators and graphic designers are building entire studio practices devoted to title sequence design. The first (or last) fifteen minutes of any film is increasingly crucial to the overall art direction, and often seen as an opportunity for experimentation.

I’ve spoken with several young animators who still treat title sequences as an after thought. Or, even worse, they just slap on the default fonts provided by Flash or After Effects. I’ve never understood this attitude. Think of it this way: you wouldn’t spend several months working on a cake recipe, bake it to perfection, just to cover it in store-bought icing. But for animation students just starting out, executing a thoughtful title sequence in addition to animating a film can be overwhelming. Fortunately, help is usually nearby in the graphic design department, where students will leap at the chance to assist in creating a title sequence.

One of the (many) ironies of higher education is that colleges attract hordes of bright, eager students, then isolate them into separate buildings, sometimes several city blocks or miles from each another. When I was a design student at the University of Texas, the animation students didn’t even realize my department existed—and vice versa. Unfortunately, animation and graphic design departments are rarely adjacent, and it’s up to students—not their teachers—to make these connections.

So if you’re an animation student, do yourself a favor: open up your university map, locate the graphic design school, then drop by and make introductions. Not every animated film, short or feature-length, needs a complex, typeset title sequence with bells and whistles. But building relationships with graphic designers, especially now that motion graphics is a required area of study in many design schools, could yield infinite possibilities with mutual benefits.

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Tony DeRose wanders between rows at New York's Museum of Mathematics. In a brightly-colored button-up T-shirt that may be Pixar standard issue, he doesn't look like the stereotype of a scientist. He greets throngs of squirrely, nerdy children and their handlers — parents and grandparents, math and science teachers — as well as their grown-up math nerd counterparts, who came alone or with their friends. One twentysomething has a credit for crowd animation on Cars 2; he's brought his mom. She wants to meet the pioneer whose work lets her son do what he does.

"It's wonderful to see such a diverse crowd," he says. "How many of you have seen a Pixar film?" he asks after taking the podium. The entire room's hands go up. "How many of you...

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