Starving soldiers divide a measly last meal when sick allies arrive at their base. When the refugees turn to bread people, the battle between hunger and humanity begins.
The CTN Animation Expo returns to the Burbank Airport Marriott this weekend for its fifth edition. The three-day event is a mix of panels, lectures, tutorials, book signings, recruiter meetings, and exhibition halls, all of which are particularly attractive for students and young artists who are trying to break into the industry.
The expo attracts dozens of industry professionals due to its convenient Los Angeles location. Speakers and presenters this year include big names from the animation/vfx world, both young and old, including ILM’s Richard Edlund, Disney storyman Burny Mattinson, stop motion animator and designer Phil Tippett, animator Eric Goldberg, poster artist Drew Struzan, Ren & Stimpy creator John Kricfalusi, co-director of the Oscar-winning short The Lost Things Andrew Ruhemann, visual development artist Claire Keane, director Chris Sanders, Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs 2 directors Cody Cameron and Kris Pearn, and Wander Over Yonder creator Craig McCracken. And, if you’re really lucky, maybe even the mime guy.
Seth MacFarlane’s stable of animation writers have finally been given a dumping ground for all their offensive Mexican jokes and stereotypes. Fox has announced a 13-episode pick-up of Bordertown created and written by Family Guy exec producer Mark Hentemann, who will executive produce with MacFarlane. Alex Carter (Family Guy) and Dan Vebber (American Dad) are the co-executive producers.
The show, which wil debut in fall 2014 and will be produced by 20th Century Fox Television, is described as such:
Bordertown will take a satirical look at the cultural shifts occurring throughout America. Set in a fictitious desert town near the Mexico border, the series centers on the intertwining daily lives of two neighbors: Bud Buckwald and Ernesto Gonzales. Married and a father of three, Bud is a Border Patrol agent who feels threatened by the cultural changes that have transformed his neighborhood. Living next door to Bud is Ernesto, an industrious Mexican immigrant and father of four, who is proud to be making it in America. As Bud and Ernesto’s paths begin to cross, their families become bound by friendship, romance and conflict.
The show was designed to replace American Dad! which is moving from Fox to TBS in 2014. Bordertown will air on Sundays alongside The Simpsons, Family Guy, and Bob’s Burgers on Fox’s Animation Domination line-up.
A lone fish, hooked by an angler’s line, encounters another in the same dire situation. As the two fish struggle, they develop an entangling attraction. Is it love or merely a will to survive?
The Making of A Tangled Tale
British department store John Lewis has released an ambitious annual Christmas advertisement, a £1 million hand-drawn spot with stop motion backgrounds called The Bear and the Hare. The piece was directed by Yves Geleyn and Elliot Dear through Hornet/Blinkink.
The hand-drawn character animation was created by two veterans of Disney’s former animation studio in Orlando: Dominic Carola who runs Premise Entertainment and Aaron Blaise who gained plenty of experience drawing bears when he co-directed Brother Bear. Aaron offered some details to Cartoon Brew about the project:
“I designed all of the characters while Dom and I supervised all of the animation. I personally animated all of the Bear and the Hare while Dom and his crew animated the rest of the animals. It was taken all the way through final line at Premise in Orlando. It was so great to do 2D again! I was even working on paper at my old Disney animation desk! Something I hadn’t done since Brother Bear!“
Executive Producers: Bart Yates, Michael Feder
Producers, Bart Yates, James Stevenson Bretton, Josephine Gallagher
2D Animation: Premise Entertainment LLC
2D Animation Supervisors: Aaron Blaise, Dominic Carola
2D Animators: Erin Humiston, Darko Cesar
Head of Clean-up 2D Animation: Janelle Bell-Martin
2D Clean-up Artists: Mi Yul Lee, Teresa Quezada-Geer, Jacque Pierro, Chad Thompson, Jason Peltz
2D Compositor/Scene Setup: Mac Masters
2D Artistic Coordinator: Pam Darley
2D Digital Artist: Anthony West, Enoc Castaneda
2D Lead Colorist/Coordinator: James Lancett
2D Colorists: Sean Weston, Joseph Sparkes, Frankie Swan, Harriet Gillian
Assistant 2D Colorist: Lila Peuscet
2D Illustrator Technician: Albert Sala
Printers: The Graphical Tree
Laser Cutting: Ewen Dickie
Designer/Typographer: Robert Frank Hunter
Storyboard Artists: Sav Akyuz, Steve Tappin, James Lancett, Robert Frank Hunter
3D Technical Director: Patrick Hearn
3D Previsualisation Artist: Simone Ghilardotti, Lucas Cuenca, Johannes Sambs
Lead Stop-Frame Animator: Andy Biddle
Stop-Frame Animators: Daniel Ojari, Daniel Gill
Production Designer/Supervising Modeller: John Lee
Art Department Modellers: Colin Armitage, Sonya Yu, Maggie Haden, Collette Pidgeon, Yossel Simpson Little, Richard Blakey, Gary Welch, Christy Matta, Lucy Begent
Scenic Painters: Fiona Stewart, Beth Quinton
Rigging Department: Richard Blakey
Art Department Assistants: Morgan Faverty, Anna Ginsburg, Jennifer Newman
MOCO/Camera Assistant: Max Halstead
Director of Photography: Toby Howell
Gaffer: Aldo Camilleri
Runner: Robert Gould
Post Production: Blinkink Studios
Post Production/Compositing: Alasdair Brotherston, Ian Sargent, Carlos Diego, Jonathan Gallagher, Elliot Dear
Editors: Sam Sneade, Ellie Johnson
Sound Design: Sam Robson at Factory Studios
Colorist: Jean-Clement Soret at MPC
This afternoon, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences announced the ten animated shorts that have been shortlisted for the Best Animated Short Film category. The NFB leads the pack with three shorts. Notably, Pixar’s The Blue Umbrella wasn’t shortlisted. (Does anybody know when was the last time a Pixar short wasn’t shortlisted?) Much more commentary to come on the short category in a bit, but for now, here are the contenders. Congratulations to all!
November 7, 2013
BEVERLY HILLS, CA —The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences today announced that 10 animated short films will advance in the voting process for the 86th Academy Awards. Fifty-six pictures had originally qualified in the category.
The 10 films are listed below in alphabetical order by title, with their production companies:
“Feral,” Daniel Sousa, director, and Dan Golden, music and sound design (Daniel Sousa)
“Get a Horse!” Lauren MacMullan, director, and Dorothy McKim, producer (Walt Disney Feature Animation)
“Gloria Victoria,” Theodore Ushev, director (National Film Board of Canada)
“Hollow Land,” Uri Kranot and Michelle Kranot, directors (Dansk Tegnefilm, Les Films de l’Arlequin and the National Film Board of Canada)
“The Missing Scarf,” Eoin Duffy, director, and Jamie Hogan, producer (Belly Creative Inc.)
“Mr. Hublot,” Laurent Witz, director, and Alexandre Espigares, co-director (Zeilt Productions)
“Possessions,” Shuhei Morita, director (Sunrise Inc.)
“Requiem for Romance,” Jonathan Ng, director (Kungfu Romance Productions Inc.)
“Room on the Broom,” Max Lang and Jan Lachauer, directors (Magic Light Pictures)
“Subconscious Password,” Chris Landreth, director (National Film Board of Canada with the participation of Seneca College Animation Arts Centre and Copperheart Entertainment)
The Academy’s Short Films and Feature Animation Branch Reviewing Committee viewed all the eligible entries for the preliminary round of voting at screenings held in New York and Los Angeles.
Short Films and Feature Animation Branch members will now select three to five nominees from among the 10 titles on the shortlist. Branch screenings will be held in Los Angeles, New York and San Francisco in December.
It has often been said that the rhythmicality of animation has much in common with music. The other, more unfortunate, similarity between the two arts is that the animation artist, like the musician, often has to contend with companies that believe the work they produce has no monetary value.
British indietronica artist Whitey finally had enough of the “there’s no budget for music” shtick after he was approached by the TV production company Betty, who asked to use his music for free in one of their shows. Whitey penned a biting response and promised to share it, which he did on his Facebook page.
The sentiment is not much different from what character designer Stephen Silver has preached to young artists, what writer Harlan Ellison has ranted and raved about, and what we’ve been saying on Cartoon Brew for years. It boils down simply to this: if you operate a company that earns money (and even if you don’t), don’t expect artists to work for free.
Here is the full text of Whitey’s letter to Betty:
Firstly, there is no label- I outright own my material, so I’m not sure who you’ve been emailing.
Secondly, I am sick to death of your hollow schtick, of the inevitable line “unfortunately there’s no budget for music”, as if some fixed Law Of The Universe handed you down a sad but immutable financial verdict preventing you from budgeting to pay for music. Your company set out the budget. so you have chosen to allocate no money for music. I get begging letters like this every week – from a booming, allfuent global media industry.
Why is this? Let’s look at who we both are.
I am a professional musician, who lives form his music. It me half a lifetime to learn the skills, years to claw my way up the structure, to the point where a stranger like you will write to me. This music is my hard earned property. I’ve licensed music to some of the biggest shows, brands, games and TV production companies on Earth; form Breaking Bad to the Sopranos, from Coca Cola to Visa, HBO to Rockstar Games.
Ask yourself—would you approach a Creative or a Director with a resume like that—and in one flippant sentence ask them to work for nothing? Of course not. Because your industry has a precedent of paying these people, of valuing their work.
Or would you walk into someone’s home, eat from their bowl, and walk out smiling, saying “So sorry, I’ve no budget for food”? Of course you would not. Because, culturally, we classify that as theft.
Yet the culturally ingrained disdain for the musician that riddles your profession, leads you to fleece the music angle whenever possible. You will without question pay everyone connected to a shoot – from the caterer to the grip to the extra- even the cleaner who mopped your set and scrubbed the toilets after the shoot will get paid. The musician? Give him nothing.
Now lets look at you. A quick glance at your website reveals a variety of well known, internationally syndicated reality programmes. You are a successful, financially solvent and globally recognised company with a string of hit shows. Working on multiple series in close co-operation with Channel 4, from a West London office, with a string of awards under your belt. You have real money, to pretend otherwise is an insult.
Yet you send me this shabby request – give me your property for free… Just give us what you own, we want it.
The answer is a resounding, and permanent NO.
I will now post this on my sites, forward this to several key online music sources and blogs, encourage people to re-blog this. I want to see a public discussion begin about this kind of industry abuse of musicians… this was one email too far for me. Enough. I’m sick of you.
In followup notes, Whitey clarified his stance on why he sometimes gives away his music for free:
I donate music all the time to indie projects, students and those who need it but cannot pay…I don’t want payment for everything. I don’t even care that much about money, I give away my music all the time. You and I live in a society where filesharing is the norm. I’m fine with that.
But I don’t give my music away to large, affluent companies who wish to use it to make themselves more money. Who can afford to pay, but who smell the filesharing buffet and want to grab themselves a free plate. That is a different scenario.
The Fredrikstad Animation Festival begins today in Fredrikstad, Norway, and continues through Sunday.
They always manage to get great guests, and this year is no exception. Tomorrow, they will host seminars about the making of three different animated features: director Benjamin Renner will discuss the making of Ernest and Celestine, director Tomm Moore (The Secret of Kells) and art director Adrien Mérigeau will discuss the production of Cartoon Saloon’s upcoming feature Song of the Sea (pictured above), and Bill Plympton will talk about the filmmaking process for his new feature Cheatin’.
For ticket info and full schedule, visit AnimationFestival.no.
If you are anywhere in or around Amsterdam next week, carve out some time to visit the Klik! Amsterdam Animation Festival. Every year, they program the festival around a central theme, and this year they’ve chosen to focus on the Cartoon Modern aesthetic with their “Fabulous Fifties” theme.
The six-day festival will next Tuesday, November 12, at the EYE Film Institute, which opened a beautiful new film and museum space last year:
For the past year, I’ve been working with Klik!, and especially their head programmer Tünde Vollenbroek, on the “Fabulous Fifties” theme, and we’ve managed to put together an extensive and wide-ranging survey of mid-century animation design. Here are the programs we’ve come up with:
- Cartoon Modern: The Essentials — Amid Amidi takes you on a journey through time and space, showcasing the absolute essentials that gave 1950s animation the look and feel it is known for today. “Cartoon Modern: The Essentials” encompasses films by animation legends such as John Hubley and Tex Avery. You’ll be able to see the Academy Award Winning animation Gerald McBoing Boing on the silver screen. Essential viewing, not to miss!
- Cartoon Modern: The Nuclear Family — KLIK! takes you back to that perfect moment in time, the fifties, when the air was clean, the grass was green, and a root beer float was still the swellest treat. The Nuclear Family provides an animated overview of a decade when everything was better, when everything seemed possible: thrilling technological developments went hand in hand with the feeling society was perfectible, the family was the cornerstone of society and your future was bright. As long as you didn’t stand out, that is.
- Cartoon Modern: East Meets West — America wasn’t the only continent captured by the Cartoon Modern movement; in Europe, especially on the other side of the Iron Curtain, exciting changes in style and theme were also taking place. Throughout the 1950s and 60s these two very different parts of the world were connected through a worldwide animation movement. In East Meets West, the American Amid Amidi and the Croatian Vanja Hraste offer insights into the similarities as well as the differences in their respective regions’ Cartoon Modern movement.
- Dutch Cartoon Modern — In the 1950s the Cartoon Modern movement also hit the Netherlands, where artists at the Toonder and Geesink Studios had a great admiration for the works of the American UPA Studios. Toonder expert Jan-Willem de Vries will be present to put this drastic, though temporary, change in Dutch animation style in context. Furthermore, Englishman Alan Standen will join us, exactly 60 years after he set foot on Dutch grounds to paint backgrounds at the Toonder Studios. Standen was strongly influenced by Cartoon Modern, already during his time at the English Halas & Batchelor studios. He’ll bring back memories about that groundbreaking time back in the 1950s and 60s.
- Contemporary Cartoon Modern — Cartoon Modern may have reached its zenith in the 1950s, but its style is still very much alive. Contemporary creators are very much inspired by the work made then and continue to explore the possibilities of this versatile movement. Check out these present-day animations inspired by those glorious films from half a century ago.
- Gay Purr-ee — When you think of Cartoon Modern, Gay Purr-ee may not be the first film that pops into your head. Yet this gorgeous film, the second and last feature-length animation by the legendary UPA Studios, is a vital part of the movement‘s history. Made in the early 1960s, its style is best described as Cartoon Modern meets Van Gogh. Gay Purr-ee features the vocal talent of Judy Garland in her first and only animated role, as well as the debut of one Robert Goulet.
The festival’s guest headliner is contemporary Cartoon Modern master Paul Rudish. He will present a lecture about his latest project—Disney’s new batch of super-entertaining Mickey Mouse shorts—for which he serves as supervising director and executive producer. In separate presentations, Rudish will discuss working on early Cartoon Network series like Dexter’s Laboratory and Powerpuff Girls, and do a Q&A after a screening of the documentary Bronies: The Extremely Unexpected Adult Fans of My Little Pony.
There will also be talks by Danish animation studio Tumblehead about the making of their stylized CG short Rob ‘n’ Ron and a talk by Ryan Honey who is the creative director of the commercial studio Buck. The festival has a full slate of short film competition programs and special screenings, including Ari Folman’s feature The Congress and Kevin Schrek’s fantastic Thief and the Cobbler documentary Persistence of Vision, followed by a screening of Thief and the Cobbler: Recobbled Cut. Check out KLIK!’s film program and their special guests.
The crew at KLIK! like to have fun, and not only do they have a “Fabulous Fifties”-themed party planned, they even made a new animated piece that riffs on the classic “Let’s All Go to the Lobby” theatrical ad. The spot was created by Dutch animation students at HKU: Nicole Derksen, Rogier Henkelman, Mark Bastiaan, Rose Zhang, Merel van den Broek, Laurens van Walbeek and Jurgen Hofman:
How an animation studio runs portrayed through a ship analogy. We follow producers Jim and Jane as they navigate their way through the wonderfully chaotic world of animation.
Creator/Producer: Ariel Chao
Director/Writer: Paul Zeke
Shipbuilder: Alex Garcia, Miang Tassniyom
Ship designer: Julieta Colas, Rosie Ly
Animators: Alex Garcia, Alvaro Munoz Ruiz, Carolina Gonzales, Derek Anderson, Rosie Ly, Taylor Ramos
Lead character & background designer: Darcy Dee
Lead Builder: Sebastian Zegers R.
Character builder: Darcy Dee, Rosie Ly
Lead effects animator: Gideon Funk
Motion designer/Graphic designer: Jorge A. Martinez Teran
Narration: James R. Baylis
Music: Juan Camilo Arboleda
Made at Vancouver Film School, 2013.
The National Film Board of Canada, North America’s most prolific studio dedicated to the personal and artistic expression of animation artists, has promoted veteran producer Michael Fukushima into the role of Executive Producer of the studio’s English Program Animation Studio in Montreal. Fukushima replaces Roddy McManus, who stepped down last May after less than two years in the position. Prior to McManus, David Verrall served as the division’s exec producer for 15 years, during which he produced over 200 shorts.
Fukushima joined the studio in 1990 to direct the animated documentary Minoru: Memory of Exile and became an animation producer in 1997. He led the creation of the NFB’s emerging filmmaker program, Hothouse, and has recently produced Patrick Doyon’s Oscar-nominated short Sunday, Koji Yamamura’s Muybridge’s Strings, and Shira Avni’s award-winning documentary Tying Your Own Shoes.
“I have high regard for Michael’s considerable experience, his expert reflections on our animation history and his thoughtful, progressive ideas for the future,” said NFB English Program Director General Ravida Din. “I believe his leadership will advance the NFB’s profile as a global leader in animation, and I’ve been especially impressed with Michael’s commitment to finding and encouraging creators and team members with diverse experiences. The Hothouse program—now in its ninth edition—is an NFB success story and a testament to his dedication to emerging creators.”
A short film I made for fun. I recorded the music then ad-libbed vocals over the top. I’m not really sure what’s it’s about… watch it and make up you own mind.
Animation by Lluis Fuzzhound
Music, written and performed by Lluis Fuzzhound
Made in Melbourne, Australia
The Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences announced this afternoon that 19 animated features have been submitted for consideration for the Animated Feature Film Oscar this year. This field of contenders will be whittled down to between three to five nominees on January 16, 2014. In addition to the already familiar American features, the list includes films from France, South Korea, Canada, South Africa, Spain, Japan and Brazil.
- Cloud with a Chance of Meatballs 2
- The Croods
- Despicable Me 2
- Ernest and Celestine (Watch trailer)
- The Fake (Watch trailer)
- Free Birds
- Khumba (Watch trailer)
- The Legend of Sarila (Watch trailer)
- A Letter to Momo (Watch trailer)
- Monsters University
- O Apóstolo (Watch trailer)
- Puella Magi Madoka Magica the Movie – Rebellion (Watch trailer)
- Rio: 2096 A Story of Love and Fury (Watch trailer)
- The Smurfs 2
- The Wind Rises
The Academy also notes that:
Several of the films have not yet had their required Los Angeles qualifying runs. Submitted features must fulfill the theatrical release requirements and comply with all of the category’s other qualifying rules before they can advance in the voting process. At least eight eligible animated features must be theatrically released in Los Angeles County within the calendar year for this category to be activated.
Films submitted in the Animated Feature Film category may also qualify for Academy Awards in other categories, including Best Picture, provided they meet the requirements for those categories.
Steven Universe, the new animated series created by Rebecca Sugar, will debut on Cartoon Network tonight (8pm/7 CT). The show carries the weight of historical precedence as it is the first Cartoon Network series made by a solo female creator. (And it ony took them 21 years and 45 TV series.)
To prep yourself for the series, read this io9 interview with Rebecca. Beginning on Tuesday, Cartoon Brew will launch weekly recaps of Steven Universe, all season long. Every twist and turn in the development of Steven and his universe will be lovingly dissected by our new writer Kendra Beltran who joins us from the late MTV Geek.
This is the first show we’ve ever recapped on the Brew, and it’s fitting that it would be Steven Universe, not just because Rebecca’s storytelling contains an uncommon level of depth and humanity, but also because we’ve been following her meteoric rise for years now. Cartoon Brew was, in fact, the first major media outlet that ever wrote about her work. In 2007, we discussed the then-twenty-year-old’s quirky fan art and wrote that she had “a bright future ahead of her.” Little did we know how brightly filled with crystal gems it would be. Later, her School of Visual Arts thesis film Singles was featured on Cartoon Brew TV in 2009. After that, Sugar moved to Los Angeles to work on Adventure Time and the rest is history.
DreamWorks announced today their Rocky and Bullwinkle short. The film will be directed by veteran Disney director Gary Trousdale, who co-directed Beauty and the Beast and The Hunchback of Notre Dame. In recent years, he has directed DreamWorks specials like Shrek the Halls and Scared Shrekless.
Also notable, 95-year-old June Foray will voice Rocket J. Squirrel, a role that she originated 54 years ago. Tom Kenny, the voice of SpongeBob, will handle the role of Bullwinkle Moose. The press release (below) cites a 2014 release date but does not explicitly state that the film will play in front of Mr. Peabody and Sherman.
Glendale, CA and Frostbite Falls, MN – November 4, 2013 The moose is loose. DreamWorks Animation is giving audiences a dose of nostalgia in 2014 with an all new short film Rocky & Bullwinkle, featuring the legendary June Foray as the voice of Rocket “Rocky” J. Squirrel. This original and updated short will bring everyone’s favorite moose and squirrel back to the hearts of fans around the world while introducing the duo to a new generation.Also in 2014, the studio will release Mr. Peabody and Sherman on March 7, reintroducing characters who initially appeared on the original Rocky & Bullwinkle Show.
“For an incredible 83 years, June Foray has left a tremendous imprint on the entire entertainment industry,” said Executive Producer Tiffany Ward. “Her amazingly indelible performances have enchanted generations and earned her a permanent place in the annals of popular culture.”
The original Rocky & Bullwinkle Show (originally titled Rocky and His Friends) began airing on November 19, 1959 with supporting segments which included “Peabody’s Improbable History” – upon which DreamWorks Animation’s upcoming film Mr. Peabody and Sherman is based. Rocky, Bullwinkle, Natasha, Boris and a few other familiar faces get the show started with the all-new madcap adventure.
Rocky & Bullwinkle is being directed by Gary Trousdale (Beauty and the Beast), produced by Denise Nolan Cascino (Megamind) and written by Thomas Lennon & Robert Ben Garant (Night at the Museum). It stars June Foray (Rocky and His Friends) as the voice of Rocket J. Squirrel and Tom Kenny (SpongeBob SquarePants) as the voice of Bullwinkle Moose. The short will be released in 2014.
When Gweneviere Mann lost her short-term memory, following surgery to remove a brain tumor, she was forced to navigate life in a new way. But she wasn’t alone. With the support of her boyfriend, Yasir Salem, Gweneviere found she could tackle the challenges her condition threw her way—and a few more.
Directed by: The Rauch Brothers
Art Direction: Bill Wray
Storyboard: Stephen DeStefano
Animation: Tim Rauch
Assistant Animation: Polly Guo, Erica Perez
FX and Compositing: Gary Leib, Deena Beck
Audio Produced by: Jasmyn Belcher, Michael Garofalo
Music: “Alina’s Place” and “Black Fur” by Fredrik (The Kora Records/House of Hassle)
Funding Provided by: Corporation for Public Broadcasting
In partnership with American Folklike Center/NPR/POV
Nintendo launched their free Nintendo Video app in 2011 to provide exclusive video content for owners of their portable Nintendo 3DS console. Over the past couple years, they’ve experimented with different types of short form content, including plenty of animation. Last Thursday, Nintendo announced a slate of five new animated series which represents one of their most ambitious attempts yet to program the Nintendo Video app.
The five new series include a couple based on Nintendo game franchises as well as a couple produced by Frederator Studios’ online channel Cartoon Hangover:
- The Legend of Zelda: The Misadventures of Link: This original series of comedic shorts shows Link, the series’ star, in a new and hysterical light. His surroundings will be familiar to fans of the series, since the shorts are based on The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker HD game for the Wii U console.
- Pikmin Nature Documentaries: These “nature documentaries” explore the wonderful world of the tiny Pikmin. The animations, highlighted by dramatic voiceover work, are a tongue-in-cheek take on safari nature shows.
- Bravest Warriors: The latest hit show created by Pendleton Ward, the mind behind Adventure Time, follows four teenage heroes-for-hire as they warp through galaxies to save adorable aliens and their worlds using the power of their emotions. The series is produced by Frederator Studios and launched on the Cartoon Hangover channel on YouTube. New episodes of Bravest Warriors will appear every Friday on Nintendo Video.
- Wildheart Riukiu: This new series of 3D shorts comes from the creator of Meat or Die, which has already amassed more than 5 million views on Nintendo Video. Wildheart Riukiu incorporates charming 16-bit graphics with some not-so-charming, but hilarious, characters. Think ninja puppets.
- Bee and PuppyCat: A Cartoon Hangover Shorts fan favorite, this two-part series by Natasha Allegri follows Bee, an out-of-work 20-something who has a life-changing collision with a mysterious creature she names PuppyCat.
People who download the Nintendo Video application automatically receive four new shorts on their device every week. Unlike typical Internet video, the Nintendo app doesn’t archive content, which encourages regular viewing.
I’m told by people at Nintendo that the app has hundreds of thousands of weekly users, and because there are only a handful of videos on the app at any given time, each video receives wide exposure. Not to mention that the app has a desirable and savvy viewing audience that is more than likely to be receptive to new characters and story concepts. It sounds like it has the potential to turn into a promising new platform for developing and launching animated properties should Nintendo push it in that direction.
Free Birds, the first animated feature from Reel FX, debuted in fourth place with a final total of $15.8 million at U.S. theaters. Distributor Relativity Media had projected between $16-19M, though some market projections had it breaking the $20M+ mark.
Relevant “comps”—comparable films produced by independent animation studios and released by second-tier distributors—would be Laika’s Coraline and ParaNorman and Rainmaker’s Escape from Planet Earth. (Despicable Me doesn’t fit the category because it had a major distributor, Universal.) Laika’s Coraline opened with $16.8M, had great legs, and went on to gross $75.2M. ParaNorman launched with $14.1M and ended with $56M. Escape from Planet Earth opened earlier this year with $15.9M and took in $57M throughout its domestic run. The box office range is fairly well defined for these type of films and Free Birds falls within it.
Free Birds had a relatively modest budget of $55M and should have no trouble recouping its costs, which were shared by Reel FX and Relativity. According to Relativity, they have sold overseas distribution rights to more than 100 foreign territories, and those presales have covered nearly 70% of the movie’s production costs. For foreign audiences who aren’t familiar with Thanksgiving, the characters will instead attend an imaginary event called “The Big Feast.”
The top three grossing films at the Argentine box office this year are all animated: Monsters University, Despicable Me 2, and Metegol. If the last film sounds unfamiliar, that’s because Metegol (aka Foosball) is a homegrown animated feature from Argentina directed by one of that country’s most respected filmmakers, Juan José Campanella. His 2009 film El secreto de sus ojos (The Secret in Their Eyes) won the Academy Award for best foreign language film.
Metegol cost $22 million, which makes it the most expensive film, animated or otherwise, ever produced in Argentina, as well as the most expensive animated feature ever made in South America. The film was funded by a Colombian oil exec Jorge Estrada Mora, whose resources allowed Campanella to set up an animation studio in Buenos Aires and hire advisors like Disney animation veteran and Despicable Me story originator Sergio Pablos. These details are discussed in a New Yorker piece, which is the most in-depth write-up the film has received in the American media.
It doesn’t appear that the film has a U.S. distributor yet, but that’s irrelevant. The film has already proven to be a financial success thanks to strong foreign sales in Europe, Latin America and Asia, as well as the massive success on its home turf.
Low-to-mid-budget foreign animated features are increasingly common from every corner of the world, and as I’ve said before in interviews, such films stand a better chance of breaking out when they don’t attempt to replicate the form and subject matter of big-budget American animated features. The producers of Metegol charted their own path and avoided Americanizing the film, Ian Mount writes in the New Yorker:
Metegol is full of childhood magic and underdog heroics, and astutely plays on the fame of international soccer icons. The nerdy protagonist bears more than a passing resemblance to FC Barcelona’s Argentine star, Lionel Messi, while the villain has the arrogance and good looks of Real Madrid’s Cristiano Ronaldo (whose smug grin and perfect hair have made him a real-life villain for soccer fans worldwide). The movie, even though it embraces universal themes and looks like a Hollywood product, also feels distinctly Latin and Argentine, from the characters’ Italianate gestures and soccer-mullet hairstyles to their ironic, rapid-fire humor.
Last summer, a lot of American media outlets complained that the animated feature marketplace was overcrowded. They should brace themselves because it’s only going to become more crowded and more competitive as other countries start to distribute their films around the globe.
Ben Butcher will debut his first-ever solo exhibition, “Part of a Complete Breakfast,” at iam8bit Studios in Los Angeles. Butcher recently left Pixar, where he served as creative director of its consumer products division, to become vice president of creative at Seattle toy company Funko.
Butcher’s playful cut-out style, which he also used on some Pixar projects, effectively evokes the sugar-fueled Saturday morning ritual of cartoons and cereal. The opening reception for “Part of a Complete Breakfast” will take place next Thursday, November 7, from 7-11pm at iam8bit’s gallery space (2147 W. Sunset Blvd, LA, CA 90026). The show will be on view until November 17.
Dallas animation studio Reel FX makes their big splash into animated features this weekend with the release of their first film Free Birds. Directed by Jimmy Hayward and released by Relativity Media, the film follows the adventures of two turkeys (voiced by Woody Harrelson and Owen Wilson) who travel back in time to take turkeys off the first Thanksgiving menu.
The film has the dubious distinction of being this year’s worst reviewed animated feature. The average critics’ rating on Rotten Tomatoes is just 22% positive, which is even lower than Weinstein Co.’s Escape from Planet Earth.
The standard criticism has been that the film is unoriginal, as per Miriam Bale’s review in the New York Times:
It is, quite accurately, I think, as if someone said, “Let’s make Bill & Ted’s Excellent Adventure starring turkeys!” Some of the same visuals and plot points from that 1980s classic are copied here, without any of its inventiveness and singular tone. It takes a certain brilliance to do dumb well, but the makers of Free Birds have not displayed this quality.
The silver lining is that audiences, especially those with kids, may like this good-natured film. The film currently has a 73% Rotten Tomatoes audience rating which is higher than Epic and Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs 2. (Caveat: the sample size of the audience rating is smaller than the other films since the film just opened.)
Now it’s your turn. After you see Free Birds, report back here with your thoughts in the comments below. As always, this talkback is reserved for readers who have seen the film and wish to comment on it. Any general comments about the film will not be approved.
(Free Birds billboard via Daily Billboard)
The Elegant Gentleman’s Guide to Knife Fighting is an Australian sketch show. They came to me and said, “You love Terry Gilliam, right?” Yes. Yes I do. I made them a bunch of animated bumpers—these are some of my favorites.
Made by Doug Bayne, Ben Baker and Trudy Cooper, 2013.
(h/t, Taylor Jessen)
Irina Neustroeva made this chronological compilation of 243 animated feature film titles so you don’t have to. It’s both a nostalgia trip and a valuable lesson in design trends:
This video presents titles of animated feature films in order from 1937 to 2012 year which were produced in the USA. These video consists only 243 titles. Titles were selected in accordance with the ranking of IMBD and only the first part of the sequel was selected for video. Full list of animated feature films used in the video you can find here.
While a space baby searches for his missing Moon, he sees the forces of the Universe bringing everything together.
A film by James Kwan
Sound design: Bryce Barsten
Spacebaby: Caleb “Bubs” Reske
Mr. Moon: James Kwan
Made at Pratt Institute