Monday, January 31, 2022

Post 454 - Uvula (2022) - the 55 second version

(c) 2022 Jim Middleton, The Animating Apothecary

Oh playing around again...


Post 453 - Early GIF for an Equally Early Pharmacology Powerpoint

In the midst of rewriting a text on basic pharmacology, I began a series of animated GIFs to demonstrate various biologic processes.  Then I ran into a few technology roadblocks on integrating the things into the PDF I was using.  Nevertheless, they did work well enough for the presentations in Open Office.  Here is the test GIF for viral replication - I was always struck how much a virus resembled the Apollo lunar landing modules.  

(cc) 2006, 2022 Jim Middleton, The Animating Apothecary

Tuesday, January 11, 2022

Post 451 - Uh-Oh -- More Tests -- Nothing Good Can Come of This

In retirement, folks (ok, my brother) seem very concerned that I'll have too much time on my hands, so random assembly projects keep appearing in a (futile) attempt to keep my noggin active.  OK, this was the first, about 150 pieces, and it has been sitting on the shelf for about 25 years.   If I'm going to put something like this together, I'm going to "do something" with it.  Here's a test (fear not, it's open book):

                                        (cc) 2022 Jim Middleton, The Animating Apothecary

February 17, 2022 Updated version - need to align and enlarge the spinning building a bit more.

(c) 2022 Jim Middleton, The Animating Apothecary

Post 450 - Seule Tod's Festival Progress - A Learning Curve (evolving discussion) - updated 12 June 2023

A learning curve, for certain -  the film I completed in October of 2021, Seule Tod, has been making the rounds of Film Freeway online, and the results are mixed, but I'm learning a lot about the process.  2007 marks my previous real connection with festivals (the truly delightful KAFI experience in Kalamazoo being the last, helmed by the indefatigable David Baker, now soon to retire from FSU - 2024 update: RETIRED!), whether contributing to or serving as judge or presenter (oh, the powerpoints!).

Nonetheless, Seule Tod is being seen,  I believe, and has been earning "laurels" (those leafy things one sees frequently at the start of many independent bits of animation) on occasion, even if they can give the impression of a participation prize ("Hey, his Paypal came through, better give him something or he won't submit things again!").  

Seule Tod has been entered in over 40 festivals so far, and yes, that's a bit of an overkill, but again, it's a learning curve (the film's production budget of $41 left extra cash usually committed to film prints available for shameless self-promotion).  I'm summarizing my observations for a upcoming issues of the ASIFA Central newsletter.  Some of these online festivals seem to stand upon a very questionable foundation.

So far the Juries Say - 


VANCOUVER INDEPENDENT FILM FESTIVAL - So just what is a quarter-finalist?  Can one be a semi-quarter-finalist?  It's an option in the Film Freeway grading scale, but not really defined.  Do you get a semi then quarter status?  Can it be adjusted to octi-finalist?  Nano-finalist?  There is an honor system, too, with the creation of many of these laurels - the participant gets to choose the laurel-style (see below for some other options) in some cases, and I was able to make a SUPER MONDO HOO HAH finalist category for my own amusement.  I am easily amused.  Some festivals do have a password-protected access to the assigned laurels, so those are under some control.  However, Film Freeway does have a "laurel creation" feature for filmmakers.  One can wonder how some films may have earned their laurels.   But it's fun to play with.  So play! 

SCREAM IT OFF SCREEN (SIOS):  I have found this particular monthly competition to be about the most honest experience so far - they get 100 or so entries, assign each one a number, throw the numbers into a bowl, and pull out 10-11 for the showing.  Sight unseen.  The audience becomes the judge, and at three or four minutes into the showing, you get to let it continue or "Scream It Off Screen."  And if it's a scream, they go to the next film.  
It's raunchy, rowdy, often odd, frequently funny, and occasionally a very good film appears - overall, it's reminiscent of a frat party where there is beer and extremely cheap pizza.  
I was lucky to share screen time with two excellent short films, "Housecat" by Kate Costello and "Oldboy's Apple" by Brad Hock.  It's nice to read the "live commentary" to see what does and doesn't work, and if various references are recognized.  It was a pretty savvy audience.  When it is over, the video of the evening is on Youtube for a while - ie, for January 14, 2022 -  (Seule Tod is #10 at about 1hr35min, but do look at the rest).  
The festival coordinators are quite chatty during the process as well.  If they have a snag, or a lack of participation, they let you know.  
It's FREE, by the way.  
And a monthly winner gets a prize!  
And since you have eyes on screens, you can get a count of those in attendance (ok, they could be off doing something else, but flatter yourselves).  Usually over 100 look in live, and about 1000 check out the post-production video.  So that's a thing to consider, too. Their February 18, 2022 rendition is at -
An unfortunate note: the March 11, 2022 edition is likely to be the last for a while - even bare-bones underground TV environments need a positive cash flow.  

Here is a local write-up on the festival and its creators, Terry Sommer and Natalie Koness

AUSTIN INTERNATIONAL ART FESTIVAL:  They may have changed it, but their website states it is in "Austin, US."  Now, what little I know about Texas, I think that if you're a real Texan, you're going to say "Austin, TEXAS!!!!! TEXAS Ya Mutha!"  So I hope this is just a minor aberration in their HTML composition.

ACCOLADE GLOBAL Film Competition:  To their credit, especially in the context of many festivals, the Accolade competition does list winning films AND their creators.  However, trying to track the documentation is a challenge!  One of the festival's sister competitions reached out to solicit the little film for participation in his west-coast festival, and that email came with a name and everything, so there is the appropriate semblance of humans working behind the curtain.

DEPTH OF FIELD INTERNATIONAL FILM FESTIVAL:  It's always nice to get recognition, but as "time goes by," one ponders the source.  "Seule Tod" here was one  of two in running for the animation category, and as an aside, the PSA category was without any entries at all.  The entry fee was, frankly, too steep, and the offer to send me a pdf certificate that I could print out on my own for $40 was hardly something I would hang on the wall.  Better to hang a framed pair of twenty dollar bills.  They have a total of TEN festivals in their line, and state IMDb status and an 11 year track record.  Rejections are supposed to get feedback and are given the opportunity to resubmit.  Given the competition, depending on the category, some sort of award is possible.   The 3D logos for the various festivals scream 1990's era graphic design.

PHOENIX SHORTS:  This is the first one I sent the film to, and it seemed rather disingenuous with its name - it is not in Phoenix, Arizona, but someplace on the outskirts of Ottawa, Ontario.  Using "transparency" indicates several name changes in its history, settling on "Phoenix," not as a location, but as a mythological reference.

APHRODITE:  I noted that the website for this film award program had not been updated for a while - Twitter notices seem to have ended in 2019.  But it is a cool name.  Reminds me of a Joseph Campbell ditty about Aphrodite.

But wait, there's more!  In 90 minutes on the notification date, it went from "Official Selection" to "Finalist" to "Winner." 

Fascinating! I made a comment about this on the festival site, that things seemed to happen in a bit of a haphazard manner, ascribing the pandemic as likely cause, and they responded to that note quickly.  I may have ruined my future in Winner stati for later entries with the lovely Aprhrodite.  But I'm an ancient typist, so my filters are a bit frayed (and no, there isn't liquid paper dabbed on my computer screen).

CMUIFF:  This one at CMU is nearby (Mt. Pleasant, MI, wherein the phenomenal animator and instructor STEVE LEEPER holds mighty presence, influence, and archival acumen), so with the reluctant blessing of Michigan weather and the parsimonious use of salt by the county's road commission, a quick trip became almost an hour on the road.  About 15 were in attendance, and it was a good 15 as we say in the independent film festival biz, and the sound became a problem right about when Seule Tod began its appearance, so it was more of a visual experience.  In any form, it was nice to see it on a larger screen for some post-production tweaking.
Note to those contemplating film festival participation - it's always a good idea to seek out University-based festivals - (1) they're real, (2) they're either free or have a modest entry fee (usually to cover reserving the hall), and (3), people in attendance have an idea of what is going on, or may have to attend for class credit.  Whether voluntary or captive, an audience is ALWAYS a good thing.

OREGON SCREAMS:  For Saturday, March 12, 2022.  AT AN HONEST TO GAWD DRIVE IN! Festival organizer Mikel Fair has made a helpful pdf booklet on the basics of submitting films to festivals, providing a background on his own filmwork and development of several other festivals.  It's a fundraiser.  He is also excellent in communication about the processes and how the films will be shown (the Dalles in Oregon having an actual drive-in theatre for the experience).  And, since interaction and networking is one of the major functions of these festivals, here is their web connection:

PALM SPRING SHORTS: Very uncertain about this one - the entry fee was pretty low, but it was the first year, and its website, while pretty, was not exactly forthcoming on useful information.  When the notification date passed, twice, and no word, I sent an email to the anonymous site asking, "Hey, is it a go or a work-in-progress?"  Still no word until a few days later, when Seule Tod received "Semi Finalist" status, again by an anonymous email via FilmFreeway.  Note it is Palm Spring, and not Palm SpringS.  Note that "Seule Tod" is a semi-finalist for a February 2022 festival, but they won't be able to give final word until later in March.  (update on 28 March - checked out the source code on their website to discover that they have created a listing of the "February Winners" but haven't apparently activated the link - again, it's a disappointment in merely listing the title of the winner, and not the animator/producer of the film.  Attempting access to their IG or Twitter feeds takes you back to their generic, non-info website)
ASIFA EAST Annual Animation Festival - Now this is a big happy bit of acceptance.  ASIFA EAST is one of several US chapters of ASIFA (Association d'Internationale du Film d'Animation).  This one is centered in New York, one of the profession's hubs for those living at 24fps (23.976 for the Video Mavens).  Their showing dates are still being arranged, but the jurors were able to view the entries at the end of March.  Any ASIFA showing is a GREAT showing!
"Seule Tod" is on Vimeo and may be viewed with this link: Seule Tod on Vimeo
This is a fun bit of gooeyness that I was hoping for - the festival is set for July 29th, 30th & 31st 2022--- Their website announces, "Horror Fans Unite!  Michigan's Horror Convention.  We have celebrity guests, vendors, artists, costume contest, Miss Nightmare contest, and parties all weekend!"  Seule Tod will run at 4:50pm on the Saturday schedule, July 30.  Woot Woot!!
And this one, July 10, 2022, from East Nashville, Tennessee:

And as proof that this aging entry has legs:
July 13 - 26, 2023 - Seule Tod will be on the Friday showings

Oh, it's like Ol' Man River, this film...
And in October, 2023 - it seeps through Europe - first stop, Amsterdam:

Then, Germany:  "Best Character Design" at FilmHaus, June 2024
Doing its best to create a New World Disorder...

For August 22, 2024, Baker City, Oregon

Post 449 - 2022 - Bring On the Mayhem! Or Aprilhem! Or Ahem!

                                          (cc) 2022 Jim Middleton, The Animating Apothecary

January 11, 2022 already...

We're all hoping for a better 2022 - get vaccinated, make smart decisions, and stop tilting at windmills (or wind turbines, as is the case locally).  These are your good old days at this point, and well, couldn't we do a little better?

As an aside, the old site has been decommissioned - it was in a clunky html format that isn't always to every browser's liking, and the update process (admittedly, the last attempt was 2014) was fairly convoluted, albeit certainly secure.  If you really miss my early 21st century attempt at going digital, it's still clogging up valuable real estate on the cloud managed by, a phenomenal site, one deserving praise and support, which has the entire internet backed up. is an easier way to get lost for hours of browsing, even moreso than my other favorite distraction,  

As a result, the commercial end of The Animating Apothecary has suspended its operations - this is the "official notification" - although it has been primarily a service of education and consultation to pharmacies for much of the past decade.   I know more about the MAPS program than anyone should.

I will continue developing print-on-demand projects (lulu press seems to have "lost" my earlier files, so another service is being sought) and keep film projects and animation announced here or on (as in ASIFA Central group projects, , or ) through several uploaded files being updated and "restored" after 20 plus years (a sobering thought to consider that, by the time Walt Disney was my age, he'd been dead almost two years).

I still do Facebook postings, with increasingly less enthusiasm for that platform as it becomes its own trope, Twitter on occasion, and even shove occasional material on Instagram.  More often, it seems I have more interesting things to do.  Like sending postcards.  

Thanks for checking in.  I'm approaching 500 posts here, so perhaps you'll find something of interest!  "I take requests."