Inazma Delivery Service


If you asked me what animation director I would most like to work with, the first name that would come to mind would be Satoshi Tomioka.  He is responsible for the fantastic Usavich Rabbits that ran on MTV Japan.

So I am thrilled to find new work from Tomioka’s company, Kanaban Graphics.  Inazma Delivery Service is a series of short videos on “Space Shower TV”  The delivery service employee is a pig-like character named Hemingway, and he becomes responsible for a lost space alien, named Bytheway.  Bytheway always wears a shark costume.  If you like Usavich Rabbits, you will no doubt enjoy Inazma Delivery Service.  It has an identical format, with very short episodes stringing together a longer story.  It has a similar 8 bit video game music track.   Also, these two characters are very similar to the Usavich Rabbits, Kirenenko and Putin.  One of them is a nervous character who worries and sweats.  The other has unpredictable fits of rage.  It seems as if Tomioka likes this particular combination.  He probably finds them effective in creating situations that are both comedic and dramatic.   Artists do well when they know their signature style, and spend time exploring the possibilities.

Inazma Delivery Service introduces an improvement over Usavich, by having a somewhat emotional moment in the story.  Episode nine is a powerful 2 minutes.  Be sure to watch that far.

The show is almost 100 % visual comedy.  It is silly and bizarre and full of high energy gags.  Below, you can see the first ten episodes, which I pieced together from YouTube.


Funny short: This Way Up

I can’t believe I haven’t seen this before now.  It’s exactly what I like. It’s a non verbal comedy packed with great gags.   This Way Up was released in 2008, and was nominated for an Academy Award.  It was created by the directing team of Smith & Foulkes at Nexus in London.  The story features a pair of undertakers retrieving a body for burial.  It’s a grave situation (pardon the pun) and that allows for humor that is both dark and slapstick. Like my Floyd the Android character, these two don’t give up until they complete the job.

Except for the poster image below, the two almost never smile.  Undertakers by nature are quite serious and respectful. The straight faces give the impression of them being a pair of Buster Keatons.  (Buster Keaton as an undertaker may have been a missed opportunity.)  The film is 9 minutes long, but moves along so efficiently it feels shorter.  The bizarre ending features a truly death defying stunt that is very Keatonesque.

A Christmas video from me

This film was completed about 14 years ago.  It started a few years before that when I was working at Duck Soup Produckions, now just called DUCK. The owners proposed doing a short CG film, and solicited concepts.  In about two days I created a storyboard for a film about a snowman who gets abducted by half-witted aliens who mistake it for an earthling. They believed it was held immobile by their “freeze ray.”  We began work on it between commercial projects.  After a few years of that, we hadn’t even gotten into animation, and I got an offer to go work at Industrial Light & Magic.  I handed over the directing to Lane Nakamura, and two years later he phoned me up and told me it was done.  However, they did change the ending considerably, and I wasn’t happy about that.  Still, it achieved some success, showing in the Siggraph Electronic Theater, and was on the long list for Oscar nomination.  I got a story credit. I designed the aliens, the snowman, and the spaceship interior.

I’ll be enjoying my holiday, and I hope you do too!

The Snowman from Jonathan Lyons on Vimeo.

“A Windy Day” combines vaudeville comedy with cutting edge smartphone tech.

Here is a very interesting short film. It was created to demonstrate a new technology for Motorola’s Google powered Moto X smartphone. The video shows how the user can move the phone, and change the camera. It is a form of virtual reality. The world in the film is 360 degrees, but the action is limited to a 90 degree proscenium.

But, aside from the cutting edge technology, it is a very old fashioned style of film making. Doug Sweetland (Presto) helped develop the concept: “It’s like the old vaudeville bit of the guy trying to pick up his hat, and he keeps kicking it off the stage. In our case it was the wind. It can go in any direction we want, so we have total freedom.”

I love how they take the idea of the mouse and the hat through so many variations. The hat, at times, seems to have a mind of its own. It becomes a chase film, and the chase is reversed, which is something I don’t recall seeing done before.

It was directed by Jan Pinkava,(Geri’s Game, Ratatouille) and produced by Karen Dufilho, who I worked with years ago at Duck Soup in LA. The were assisted by several other Pixarians.

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