Italian Animation Company Atlantyca acquires Dreamfarm

Signaling a major effort to exploit its rich library of already well established properties and continuously seeking to expand its property base for young readers across all available publishing platforms, Atlantyca Entertainment is significantly increasing its publishing and entertainment business with the acquisition of Dreamfarm, a prominent Milan-based packager of children’s books. The announcement was made today by Atlantyca Entertainment President Pietro Marietti, a descendant of the Marietti publishing family, publishers since 1820, and Dreamfarm CEO, Marcella Drago, whose distinguished family owns De Agostini Editore since 1919. The deal establishes the new business entity called Atlantyca Dreamfarm.

The formation of Atlantyca Dreamfarm unites the creative genius that created such internationally renowned children’s book series as Geronimo Stilton, Ulysses Moore, Milla & Sugar and Klinkus Bart, among many others, and brings to the new organization Dreamfarm’s demonstrated expertise in taking advantage of the many new and emerging media platforms that have become so important in today’s publishing marketplace.

“This evolution brings together the heirs of two of Italy’s most important publishing dynasties of the publishing industry in the 21st century dictates that we adapt our publishing model to extend beyond traditional print media with a transmedia model that accommodates electronic media platforms such as the Internet, e-readers, gaming devices, television and emerging new technologies,” said Marietti. “It is with enourmous anticipation and enthusiasm that we look foward to reuniting our team at Atlantyca with my former colleague, Marcella Drago, in a collaboration that is destined to bring even greater children’s properties to the marketplace.”

The new team, which includes celebrated author Pierdomenico Baccalario, who serves as Publisher in Chief at Atlantyca, will be charged with developing concepts for children’s book series to be exploited by Atlantyca, along with foreign publishers through Atlantyca’s Foreign Rights Sales Department, in every available media platform.

“I am extremely proud to be working together with my companions Pietro and Pierdomenico, two publishing industry luminaries who have achieved incredible success in bringing entertaining stories and endearing characters to young readers. I am eager to create the next wave of successful new book series as part of this valuable team and deliver them to an even wider audience of enthusiastic young readers though today’s exciting new media platforms,” said Drago.

Why Kids Today Think Disney was a Jew-Hating, Hitler-Loving Racist

Walt Disney and Jews

The “Walt Disney hated Jews and blacks” accusation is one of the most vile mistruths tossed around about the old man, yet a quick browse on-line suggests that more young people believe it today than ever before. How did this happen? Why is the single fact that kids know about this 20th century entertainment giant a shopworn charge, long ago disproven, that he was anti-Semitic and/or racist?

I began to understand the situation more clearly after spending some time exploring Yahoo! Answers, which contains dozens of questions about Walt’s beliefs. The questions don’t stem from Marc Eliot’s notorious hack job Walt Disney: Hollywood’s Dark Prince–remember, nobody reads anymore–but rather from pop culture references, particularly animated shows like Family Guy and Robot Chicken.

Writers of these shows, who can rarely be relied upon to come up with clever or original humor, recycle a playbook of dated pop culture references, among them that Walt hated Jews and that he’s frozen. Family Guy writers are so enamored of the anti-Semitic charges, that they’ve made the accusation multiple times, including this instance:

Combine the endemic laziness of animation writers with an every-child-left-behind educational system that has created a legion of TV viewers who can’t recognize that they’re being duped by old hearsay instead of being revealed new truths, and you’ve got a recipe for disaster.

I dropped by the Walt Disney Family Museum in San Francisco last year and it was one of the most well curated and delightful museums I’ve ever had the pleasure of visiting. The museum achieves its aims of documenting Disney’s vast achievements and then some. The reality though is that most teenagers will never visit the museum. To address the rampant distortions about Walt, the Disney family and company must expand their on-line presence and make an effort to combat the inaccuracies with relevant information about Walt Disney’s life, history and legacy.

I’m sure the Walt Disney Company has plenty of employees already who manage their brand on-line and actively communicate with fans on the Internet. But seeing as how their company’s success is so indelibly tied to a single name, it would behoove them to also have a full-time employee or two dedicated to managing their founder’s reputation lest these lies are repeated often enough to be accepted as truth.

The problem of TV writers spreading disinformation about Walt is so widespread that even former Disney stars are perpetuating the stories. For example, take this appearance by Zac Efron on Saturday Night Live. Walt Disney appears in the skit, and along with him, the two stock Walt gags: he’s anti-Semitic and he’s frozen.

I’ve collected some of the most representative questions and answers from Yahoo! Answers that show the scope of the perception problem for Disney.

After analyzing all of the related Walt Disney questions on Yahoo, the most common sources of Walt’s contemporary character assassination can be traced to jokes on Family Guy and Robot Chicken, resulting in questions like this one:
Walt Disney and Jews

Or this one:
Walt Disney and Jews

Walt has defenders but the reasons are often as misinformed as the questions.
Walt Disney and Jews

Here’s a defense from a “Disney historian, sort of!”
Walt Disney and Jews

This Jewish girl is disappointed to learn that Walt, in fact, hated her.
Walt Disney and Jews

Of course, he wasn’t just an anti-Semite, he was also “pro-white and hated people who weren’t.”
Walt Disney and Jews

Thankfully, watching Disney cartoons is ok since “It’s not like you’re funding some Jew-killing operation.”
Walt Disney and Jews

Oh, Family Guy writers, what clever comedy material will you come up with next? Perhaps a timely Hitler joke.
Walt Disney and Jews

Saturday Night Live writers aren’t much better.
Walt Disney and Jews

According to this person, supporting Walt Disney’s work is equivalent to supporting a media empire run by Osama bin Laden.
Walt Disney and Jews

Walt won’t even leave Jews alone when they’re in the bathroom. This Yahoo commenter has a bright future ahead of him as a TV animation writer.
Walt Disney and Jews

Frankly, Google’s Autofill isn’t much help in the matter either.
Walt Disney and Jews

And yes, finally, some sanity.
Walt Disney and Jews

UPDATE: A shameful example of misinformation can be found in this recent piece about Roald Dahl. In it, the misinformed author Alex Carnevale repeats the old canard about Walt’s feelings towards Jews:

[Dahl's] interest in writing, combined with his ludicrous tales of his wartime experience, quickly led him to Hollywood, where he immediately had much in common (appetite for clandestine inappropriate sex, hatred of Jews) with the Disney brothers. Walt Disney gave him the use of a car and put him up at the Beverly Hills Hotel!

“Spirit Quest Journey” by Ryan Mauskopf

Ryan Mauskopf (aka “Professor Soap”) is an illustrator, animator and musician living and working in New York City, currently the lead Graphic Designer for The Onion News Network‘s online videos. Not much happens in his film, Spirit Quest Journey, but I think that’s the point. Just a bunch of aliens walking on the moon. It makes me smile without doing a thing.

Call For Entries: The 18th Annual Austin Film Festival

2011 Film Competition
The 2011 Film Competition is open for submissions!
Regular Deadline: June 1 ($45)
Late Deadline: July 1 ($50)
Very Late Deadline: July 15 ($60)

Students please contact our programmers about student discounts.

Categories
Narrative Feature
Narrative Short
Narrative Student Short
Documentary Feature
Documentary Short
Animated Short

AFF is accredited by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences®, making all Jury Award-winning narrative short and animated short films eligible for an Academy Award®.

Rules/Awards
2010 Film Competition Winners
2010 Audience Award Winners

Need an audience? We’ve got you covered.
Whether you’re looking for industry attention, film-savvy theatergoers, or just a great excuse to visit the “Live Music Capital of the World,” the Austin Film Festival is the place for you this October. With one-of-a-kind venues and carefully selected competition juries, we make sure your work gets the respect it deserves. Don’t miss your opportunity to share the spotlight with an enthusiastic and encouraging mix of aspiring and established filmmaking talent.

Offering the best in film…
Each year, the AFF presents over 170 regional, national, and world premiere films. From highly anticipated Hollywood fare to the finest in independent filmmaking, the Festival focuses on showcasing the films and filmmakers audiences want to see. Among 2010’s notable screenings were Darren Aronofsky’s Black Swan and 127 Hours, by Danny Boyle. Submit today, and your film could take its place in this year’s film lineup.

Still not convinced? Well, don’t take our word for it.
“Austin Film Festival is truly the festival for independent filmmakers. The experience had there cannot be matched. From the highly valuable content of their conferences to the intimate venues and parties, Austin Film Festival gives young aspiring filmmakers and writers the opportunity to learn more about their craft while being immersed in a pool of creative minds that feed off of and support one another. There’s nothing like it.”

Stephen Belyeu, Writer/Director Dig — 2010 Narrative Feature Competition Audience Award Winner

For more information please feel free to contact Film Competition Programmer David Gil by phone at 512.478.4795 or email at [email protected]

Early CG Experiments by John Lasseter and Glen Keane

Where the Wild Things Are

Hans Perk recently posted scans from a 1983 edition of the Disney Newsreel, an in-house newsletter about happenings around the studio. The issue had an article about an animation test created by John Lasseter and Glen Keane using Maurice Sendak’s Where the Wild Things Are as subject matter. The project will be well known to anyone familiar with the careers of Lasseter and Keane, but I found the article’s contemporaneous account of the production to be interesting, especially Lasseter’s quote that, “In five years these tests will seem so primitive, they’ll look like Steamboat Willie does today.” Since it seems that people rarely bother to read scans of text, I went ahead and reformatted the piece for on-line. Here is the article:

Continue reading

Animation Writer/Producer Dwayne McDuffie Passes Away

Portrait by Denys Cowan

Yesterday, comics site CBR broke the news that animation/comics veteran Dwayne McDuffie had passed away on Monday. At 49 years of age, McDuffie had become a well-regarded writer in both animation and in comics — he was the screenwriter for the recently released All-Star Superman DVD, and was a writer/producer on several of the Ben 10 and Justice League animated series. He also co-created the comics character Static, which later ran as the four-year animated series Static Shock!. For more, visit CBR.

“Saving The Tiger” Wins Indian Award for Best Animation Film

New Delhi based Gecko Animation Studio has been awarded with the prestigious Assocham Awards for Excellence in Media and Entertainment for Best Animation Film 2010. The 3D Animated film on Saving the Tiger wins the award among 500 other entries from various Animation and Vfx studios in India -Prime focus, Visual computing Labs, Maac and Arena to name a few.

The EME awards are conducted every year by Assocham (The associated Chambers of Commerce and Industry of India) to recognize exemplary work in the field of Media & Entertainment. The focus this year at EME was Animation & VFX, since this field has become an integral part of the Media & Entertainment (M&E) business leading to higher growth & greater advancement of the M&E economy.

The award was presented by Dr.S M Khan, Director General, Directorate of Film Festivals, Ministry of Information & Broadcasting, Govt. of India followed by an inspirational speech by the veteran. Ms.Taruna Ummatt the COO of Gecko Animation Studio was present to receive the award.

The event held at the ITC Sonar Calcutta , was marked by a full day Forum on the theme of Convergence and Entertainment and Panel discussions on Animation and Gaming — Consumer expectations, Relooking the entertainment model and a spotlight session on Indian content in the global perspective. Among the panelists were prominent personalities Sumedha Saraogi (Sr. Vice President, Global Business development / Branding DQ entertainment International), Selvaggia Velo (Director, River to River Florence Indian Film Festivals and Jury Member in International Fim Festivals), Merzin Tavaria (Chief Creative Director, Prime Focus), Dr. Chandrashekar J Rawandale (Director Symbiosis Law School), Fowzia Fathima (Cinematographer), Satyajit Ray (Film and Television Institute) and Celebrity Film Producer/Director and National Award winner Madhur Bhandarkar.

The film was executed from script to screen by Gecko Animation Studio team under the direction of Prof. Paresh Mehta (CEO Gecko Animation Studio).

Writers Guild of Canada Announces Finalists for Screenwriting Awards

This week the Writers Guild of Canada announced the finalists for their WGC Screenwriting Awards, with five nominees in the Animation Category.

League of Super Evil – “All You Can Eat”  Written by Edward Kay

League of Super Evil “Voltina” Written by Philippe Ivanusic-Vallee & Davila LeBlanc

The Cat In The Hat Knows A Lot About That “The Cat…Knows A Lot About Maps” Written by Karen Moonah

Total Drama World Tour “Broadway Baby” Written by Alex Ganetakos

Zeke’s Pad “Fetch a Sketch” Written by Hugh Duffy

The Winners of the 2011 WGC Screenwriting Awards will be announced on Monday, April 11, 2011 at Maro in Toronto. For a complete list of categories and finalists, see WGC’s announcement.

Winners in Kidscreen’s 2011 Awards

Trade publication KidScreen held an awards ceremony last weekend to give out honors in its second annual KidsScreen Awards. The leading trade publication for international children’s entertainment, KidScreen hosted the event as part of their KidScreen summit in New York City.

Programming – Preschool Category

Best Animated Series 2011
Pink Panther & Pals
Rubicon Entertainment/MGM Television

Best Non-Animated or Mixed Series 2011
Sesame Street
Sesame Workshop

Best One-Off, Special or TV Movie 2011
Ble Mae Cyw?
Boomerang+/S4C

Best Companion Website 2011
Driver Dan’s Story Train
Two Four 54/3 Line Media

Programming – Kids Category

Best Animated Series 2011
Shaun the Sheep
Aardman Animations Ltd./CBBC

Best Non-Animated or Mixed Series 2011
Horrible Histories
Lion Television/Citrus Television/CBBC

Best One-Off, Special or TV Movie 2011
Totally Spies! The Movie
Marathon Media/Studio 37/Mikado

Best Companion Website 2011
Phineas and Ferb
Disney Interactive Media Group

Programming – Tweens/Teens Category

Best Animated Series 2011
Total Drama World Tour
Fresh TV

Best Non-Animated or Mixed Series 2011
The Next Star III
Tricon Films & Television

Best One-Off, Special or TV Movie 2011
Aisling’s Summer Diary
CR Entertainment/BeActive Kids/RTE

Best Companion Website 2011
Dance Academy
Werner Film Productions/ABC/ZDF

Programming – Family Category

Best Animated Series 2011
Kaeloo
Cube Creative Productions/Canal+

Best Non-Animated or Mixed Series 2011
My Place
Matchbox Pitctures/ABC/ACTF

Best One-Off, Special or TV Movie 2011
Vacation With Derek
Shaftesbury Films

Creative Talent Category

Best Design 2011
Shaun the Sheep
Aardman Animations Ltd./CBBC

Best Acting 2011
Horrible Histories
Lion Television/Citrus Television/CBBC

Best Writing 2011
Horrible Histories
Lion Television/Citrus Television/CBBC

Best Animation 2010
Shaun the Sheep
Aardman Animations Ltd./CBBC

Best Directing 2011
Pink Panther & Pals
Rubicon Entertainment/MGM Television

Best Music 2011
Pink Panther & Pals
Rubicon Entertainment/MGM Television

Best Voice Talent 2011
Total Drama World Tour
Fresh TV

Viewers Choice Category

Best Preschool Program 2011
Pink Panther & Pals
Rubicon Entertainment/MGM Television

Best Kids Program 2011
Shaun the Sheep
Aardman Animations Ltd./CBBC

Best Tweens/Teens Program 2011
Total Drama World Tour
FreshTV

Best Family Program 2011
Harriet The Spy: Blog Wars
9 Story Entertainment Inc.

Broadcasting Category

Best Channel Design 2011
Cartoon Network

Best Channel Website 2011
PBSKids.org

Best On-Air Host 2011
Andrew W.K.
Cartoon Network

Best Integrated Promotion 2011
Cartoon Network’s “Diary of a Wimpy Kid” promotion

Best Interstitial Campaign 2011
ABC3’s “Meet the Hosts” launch

Channel of the Year 2011
Nickelodeon Global

Henry Selick Sets Up In The Mission

Shademaker

Henry Selick’s new animation studio, which we reported on a couple months ago, has set up shop in San Francisco’s hip Mission District. According to MissionLocal.org, the Disney-backed studio, now called ShadeMaker Productions, is located in a former chocolate factory at 16th and Folsom, and will ultimately house 150 employees.

“Sprite Boy” model sheet

You never know where you’ll find animation history. The Coca-Cola website has just posted this obscure model sheet of their Sprite Boy mascot of the 1950s, for a proposed animated theatrical commercial. Click on image above for larger picture. The Coca-Cola Company used this character in its advertising in the 40’s and 50’s (see left). He was conceived by the soft-drink staff artist, Haddon Sundblom, famed pulp cover painter and pin-up artist who created the Coke’s version of a Santa Claus. The model sheet is labeled “Minitoons” which I believe may have been Walter Lantz’ title for a series of Coca-Cola theatrical spots. No cartoon featuring this character has ever surfaced – but interesting, huh?

(Thanks, Devlin Thompson)

Oregon’s 2011 BendFilm Festival Opens Doors For Contest Entries

BendFilm celebrates the brave voice of independent cinema through films, lectures and education.

The call for the 8th Annual BendFilm Festival is now open! Entries will be accepted until August, 2011. Narrative and documentary features, short, student and animated films and conversations are all being accepted for the competition program of the festival.

The 8th Annual BendFilm Festival will be held from 6-9 October 2011. BendFilm brings the world to you – one film at a time.

Objective

BendFilm accepts films in the following categories:

  • Narrative Feature
    All narrative features are invited to submit. The programming revolves around a broad thematic range, reflecting the independent spirit. (Films with major distribution may not qualify for juried competition, but are eligible for audience awards.)
  • Documentary Feature
    All documentary features are invited to submit in this category. The programming revolves around a broad thematic range, reflecting the independent spirit. (Films with major distribution may not qualify for juried competition, but would still be eligible for audience awards.)
  • Short Film
    All non-student short films are invited to submit in this category – including short docs. and animated shorts.
  • Conservation
    Films that adeptly articulate a significant message of conservation are invited to submit in this category.
  • Student Film
    All student films are invited to submit in this category – including shorts, docs and animated films.
  • Animated Film
    All animated films are invited to submit in this category. Films in this category may be of any animation type, including but not limited to: hand animated or computer generated, clay animation, stop motion or other animated medium. Films may be of any length, and may be narrative feature, music video, documentary or conservation films.

For more information, visit the website http://www.bendfilm.org/

FUNimation acquires “Appleseed” Director’s New Feature “TO”

Flower Mound, TX (February 19, 2010) — North American anime distributor FUNimation® Entertainment today announced that it has licensed the home entertainment, broadcast, digital rights and merchandise rights for the sci-fi original video anime “TO” from Showgate, Inc.

The OVA is directed by Fumihiko Sori (“Appleseed,” Vexille” and the upcoming Dragon Age role-playing video game based anime film being produced by BioWare and FUNimation) .
In “TO,” Sori has adapted two stories from Yukinobu Hoshino’s 2001 Nights manga. “Elliptical Orbit” and “Symbiotic Planet” are part of Hoshino’s centuries-long storyline about mankind’s voyages into space.

FUNimation will release the OVA on DVD and Blu-ray this summer.

“Snuffy Smith” by Jim Tyer

Someone just posted on You Tube several of the rarely seen 1963 King Features Snuffy Smith cartoons that were animated by Jim Tyer. Tyer is a real cult figure around here for his absolutely outrageous cartoony animation, way-off model, celebrated by the best in the business and rightly so. Not even limited animation could suppress his looney drawing style – and Tyer-philes will feast upon these links:

The Work Pill
Smoke Screams
A Hauntin’ Fer a House
Snuffy’s Fair Lady
Barney’s Winter Carnival
Snuffy’s Brush With Fame

P.S. While we’re at it, check out the eight-minute Snuffy Smith pilot from Format Films: Snuffy’s Turf Luck. Not a very good film, but it was the first of the series, and directed by Jack Kinney and animated by Harvey Toombs (both long-time Disney veterans). Note Doodles Weaver doing his horse race routine in the cartoon. Mike Kazaleh theorizes: “I’m guessing that Joe Siracusa brought him in. They would’ve worked together when Joe (and Doodles) were in the City Slickers (Spike Jones). Or maybe Jack Kinney brought him in. He’d used Doodles earlier in Hockey Homicide. Note too that they added the Wm. Pattengill animated opening from the Paramount cartoons. I wonder if this cartoon had other titles when it was shot.”

(Thanks, Mike Kazaleh)

“About Face” by Chris James

It still sends a tingle down my spine when I discover a piece of amazing animation that I didn’t know existed. That’s the feeling I experienced this afternoon when I randomly stumbled onto About Face, an animated short made by Chris James in 1978. With tension and surprise in every transformation, the film is a reminder that pen and colored pencil can still create effects impossible to achieve with any other tool.

Here is a description of the film found on-line:

About Face is set to the music of Claude Jouvin and features caricatures of Henry the VIII, Mick Jagger, Oscar Wilde, Lord Alfred Douglas, Queen Elizabeth, Prince Philip, Prince Charles, Adolf Hitler, Idi Amin, Pablo Picasso, Salvador Dali, The Marx Brothers, David Bowie and a worm.

The film was runner-up in the Grierson Award for Best Short Film of 1978 and was screened on the inaugural day of Channel Four television in November 1982. Other showings include The Arts Council Film Tour and the film festivals of Annecy, Zagreb, Los Angeles, Tampere, Varna, Lucca, Wellington and more.

Written and drawn by Chris James
Music Claude Jouvin
Camera Julian Holdaway

Stan Winston’s Family Starts An On-Line School

Stan Winston

Legendary visual effects artist Stan Winston has been dead for a few years now, but an on-line school bearing his name is getting ready to start up. Stan Winston School of Character Arts will be launched in association with the Los Angeles-based institution Gnomon. The three-minute trailer on the school’s website offers a preview of the numerous disciplines that will be taught by the Stan Winston School of Character Arts. My only question: If you’re starting a serious school, why hire a cheesy and obnoxious announcer who cheapens the entire message?

TONIGHT: Computer-Animated “Adventure Time” by Ke Jiang

Adventure Time Computer Animation

A new episode of Adventure Time airs tonight on Cartoon Network, and the show will feature a 5-1/2 minute long computer animated segment. The segment was modeled, rigged and animated by one person–Ke Jiang–who graduated in 2009 from the CalArts Experimental Animation program.

This is a link to a preview of the CG episode and below is Taxi, a student film Jiang created a couple years back with a mesmerizing visual style:

(Thanks, Sarah Pocock)

“Checkin’ In With Goofy”

We’ve been pretty frustrated with Disney merchandising the last few days. But when Disney does something right, let’s be just as quick to note that. This “how-to” commercial for the Disney Cruise line, in the style of the old Goofy theatrical shorts, is right on the money. Hopefully they’ll make more commercials, and actual cartoon shorts, like this in the future.

(Thanks, Paul Dini)

Johannes Nyholm and the Viral “Las Palmas” Trailer

Here is something that doesn’t happen often: Swedish filmmaker Johannes Nyholm released a trailer earlier this week for his short Las Palmas, and the trailer became a viral hit (1.643 million views as of this writing). This is it:

True, there’s no animation in the clip above, but Nyholm has also made animated shorts. His finest animated piece to date is The Tale of Little Puppetboy, the first part of which is below:

Puppetboy had me rolling on the floor when I first encountered it a few years back at the Fredrikstad Animation Festival–a wonderful festival by the way–and as one of the jury members, I made sure it got an honorary mention. On the surface, Puppetboy appears crude, but the concept and comedic timing are razor-sharp, which I think sheds some light on Nyholm’s unique ability to make even a trailer go viral.

Disney’s “DuckTales” Series Returns… in Comics!

Strap in for adventure as BOOM! Studios flies you back to Duckburg to join Uncle Scrooge, Huey, Dewey, Louie, and all your favorite feathered friends in the all-new, original ongoing DuckTales comic series! A beloved classic of The Disney Afternoon, DuckTales returns with writing by Epic Mickey video game creator Warren Spector and spectacular art by fan-favorite Disney Duck artist Miquel Pujol! Don’t miss out as The Disney Afternoon Revolution continues in a big way this May with DuckTales!

“You want ducks? Oh, do we have ducks!” says BOOM! Studios Marketing Director Chip Mosher. “We’re taking you back to one of the most celebrated Disney Afternoon series ever aired! And with a creative powerhouse like Warren Spector and fantastic art from Miquel Pujol, this series is sure to be jam-packed with duck adventures no DuckTales fans will want to miss!”

DuckTales is BOOM!’s latest and greatest of The Disney Afternoon Revolution that “might solve a mystery,” and will definitely “rewrite history!” Existing within the same continuity as BOOM!’s hit series Darkwing Duck, find out why “life is like a hurricane!”

DuckTales #1 is written by Warren Spector and drawn by Miquel Pujol and ships with A & B covers by Leonel Castellani and James Silvani respectively, as well as a 1-in-10 incentive cover. This title ships this May.