I don’t know if this series will ever make it to the US – or will even get made – but here are some tantalizing clips from a new TV pilot called Mr. Skrutnik’s Space Zoo, which is currently making the rounds at several festivals. It was produced by MOL Toons out of SÃ£o Paulo, Brazil; Chico Zullo directed the pilot and designed the characters. I think it looks cool.
I just caught up with this simple but highly effective little “action film”. French director Lilian Hardouineau keeps the focus on camera moves and action rather than modeling, texturing or lighting – and it works just fine for me.
Who’s afraid of Arithmetic? A beautiful graduation film by Giovanni Munari and Dalila Rovazzani for Italy’s Experimental Film Center (Centro Sperimentale di Cinematografia), based on Ravel’s Opera The Child and the Spells. More art and info at their production blog.
Why fight it? Go see The Avengers. Joss Whedon has made a film that justifies my childhood love of these TV cartoons (and the comics they are taken from). And stay for the best post-credit tag I’ve ever seen!
As part of my on-going series to bring awareness to the dozens of animated features being produced throughout the world, few of which ever come to the U.S. – This is the Russian trailer to Tad, The Lost Explorer, which Paramount is releasing in Spain next fall. It’s a feature length 3D film, a sequel to director/creator Enrique Gato’s two award-winning Indiana Jones-inspired spoofs called Tadeo Jones.
Foreign made features are getting better and better – it’s only a matter of time before there is an explosion of diverse films, by studios and independents, competing with Hollywood for your attention in theatres, TV and through digital means. This is a very good thing, sez I.
Sad news to report. Buzz Potamkin, one of animation’s most beloved producers on both coasts, passed away from pancreatic cancer on Sunday, April 22nd. Potamkin founded Perpetual Motion Pictures in 1968 with two employees. Over the next decade Perpetual became New York City’s largest animation studio. Buzz produced hundreds of TV commercials, including the Hawaiian Punch series. In 1979, his successful production of The Berenstain Bears Christmas Tree led to a series of prime time and daytime cartoons based on the famed children’s books. In 1981, Potamkin produced the famous “I Want My MTV” ad campaign. He founded and ran Southern Star Productions from 1984 to 1991 (series included CBS Storybreak, Peter Pan, Teen Wolf). In 1990 with Roy Disney as executive producer, Potamkin produced the TV Academy’s Cartoon All-Stars to the Rescue, the only animated program to be telecast simultaneously on all four major TV networks . Buzz also served with Disney as honorary executive producer for the UNICEF Animation Consortium .
Buzz briefly worked at the Walt Disney Company in 1991 before joining Hanna Barbera as Executive Producer & Head of TV (through 1996) where he championed the World Premiere Shorts (“What A Cartoon“) unit, which led to Dexter’s Laboratory, Johnny Bravo, Cow and Chicken, and The Powerpuff Girls. Among his many projects at H-B, Potamkin was Executive Producer of the Dr. Seuss’ special Dayzie-Head Maysie (1995). After Hanna Barbera, Potamkin served on the board of Visionary Media which produced the cutting edge web series WhirlGirl and produced and directed the direct-to-video film, Buster & Chauncey’s Silent Night (1998), through his own company, Project X. His awards include four Clios, the MTV Video Award, more than 20 ASIFA commendations, the Cannes Gold Lion, the Venice Silver Lion, the Cable Ace, the Peabody, the Scott Newman Award, two New York Festival Gold Medals and three Silver Medals, The Child in Our Time Award from MIFED, two Humanitas and seven Emmy nominations. Potamkin was well known and well-liked in New York and L.A., by artists and network execs alike. His presence on the animation scene will be missed.
Thirty-five students from 20 U.S. colleges and universities have been selected as finalists in the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences’ 39th Annual Student Academy Awards competition. The complete list of nominees is posted here. Below are links or embeded trailers for the nine Animation category nominees and two from the Alternative category. The awards ceremony will be held on Saturday, June 9th, at 6 p.m. at the Academy’s Samuel Goldwyn Theater in Beverly Hills. Congratulations to all the nominees!
Chocolate Milk by Eliza Kinkz, University of California, Los Angeles
Eyrie by David Wolter, California Institute of the Arts
The Jockstrap Raiders by Mark Nelson, University of California, Los Angeles
La Lune et le Coq by Raymond McCarthy Bergeron, Rochester Institute of Technology
The Reality Clock by Amanda Tasse, University of Southern California (nominated as Alternative Film)
Terra Cotta Warrior by Bin Li, Rochester Institute of Technology (nominated as Alternative Film)
Forget John Carter. Arjun: The Warrior Prince is the untold story of India’s greatest hero. Disney has attached this trailer to screenings of The Avengers in India. Opens May 25th there – no word on any U.S. release.
Beautiful! All of Bill Presing’s pin-up girls are gorgeous. Here’s an unabashed plug for a product and artist I like a lot: Pixar storyman Presing is creating a limited edition statue based on one of his “girls”. He’s producing it in association with Digital Banana Studio, the folks who made that Pixar-ish Rocketeer short awhile back. In fact it’s modeled by the same guy that modeled about half of the characters in that short, Anders Ehrenborg. It’s coming out in late June and they’re taking pre-orders now at the Digital Banana website. Oh, and you can order her as pictured above with skirt, or without!
Check out this kick ass new trailer for Disney XD’s Tron: Uprising. The series will premiere next month with a voice cast that includes Paul Reubens, Nate Corddry, Mandy Moore, Reginald Vel Johnson and Bruce Boxleitner as “Tron”. Oh, and Elijah Wood plays the main character, leader of a revolution inside The Grid, named “Beck” (great name, eh?).
The show will officially debut Thursday, June 7th on Disney XD, with a prelude called Tron: Uprising, Beck’s Beginning airing on the regular Disney Channel on May 18th. Charlie Bean (Ren & Stimpy, Samurai Jack) is directing and exec producing, and the incredible Alberto Mielgo is also contributing to the project.
Thundarr, Fangface, Turbo Teen, Plastic Man, Rickety Rocket (above), Mighty Man and Yukk, Rubik The Amazing Cube, Mr. T… If these are the Saturday morning cartoons you grew up with, you’ll want to tune into Wednesday’s internet radio broadcast of Stu’s Show. TV animation producers Joe Ruby and Ken Spears will be giving a rare 2-hour interview, live on May 2nd at 7pm Eastern/4pm Pacific, with host Stuart Shostack and writer Mark Evanier.
Probably the most succesful suppliers of Saturday morning programming next to Hanna-Barbera, Joe and Ken actually began their careers working at H-B in 1959 in the film editing and sound tracking departments. They were quickly hired as writers and contributed so much to H-B that CBS network president Fred Silverman wanted them to supervise such H-B staples as “Wacky Races” and “Scooby Doo”. When Silverman left CBS for ABC, he gave the team an exclusive contract to produce ALL of the cartoons for the network, and that’s how “Fangface”, “Thundarr”, “Plastic Man”, and many other series were born.
Ruby-Spears (the company) still exists (check their website) and the two veteran producers will discuss what they’ve been up to, what they plan to do next and of course, answer questions about their classic shows from Stu and Mark – and from readers who submit their questions via email. Check the Stu’s Show website for details on how to submit questions and how to hear the the show free this Wednesday.
Man, I can’t wait to see this film (I’ll be seeing it at an ASIFA-Hollywood screening tomorrow). It opened today to great reviews: Manohla Dargis of The New York Times calls it “a curiosity cabinet of visual pleasures”, while Kenneth Turan of The Los Angeles Times says its “a clever piece of business that is a complete pleasure to experience”.
How about you? This talkback thread is open only to those who have actually seen the film (your comment will be deleted if we detect you haven’t seen it – and we can tell). Tell the world what you think in the comments section below.
Whatever happened to limited TV animation? For those of us who remember when Jonny Quest was state-of-the-art for TV adventure animation… this leaked footage (below) from Disney’s Motorcity is pretty amazing. The animation looks really slick for a TV production, and especially good for a show that’s digitally animated in flash.
Here is an eleven minute compilation of nine sequences pulled from upcoming episodes. These clips showcase the animation and compositing techniques employed in the series. Each sequence features the final composited footage, followed by the animation in it’s rough form.
Created by Chris Prynoski, Motorcity is produced by Robin Red Breast, Inc. (a subsidiary of Titmouse, Inc.) and Disney Television Animation. It premieres this Monday, April 30th at 9pm, ET/PT on Disney XD. The first episode is now available to watch for free on iTunes (there’s a free iPhone/iPad game on iTunes as well). More information on this clip reel after the jump. Continue reading →