Not every animated film is aimed at families and children. Coming next fall from Spain, Perro Verde Films and Cromosoma are coproducing a serious adult animated feature about the friendship between two senior citizens living in a nursing home. Arrugas (Wrinkles) is based on an award winning comic book by Paco Roca. I’m not expecting UP, but its heartening to know that somewhere in the world such subject matter can be produced, hand drawn, in feature length.
On President’s Day (February 21), Titmouse asked its animators to spend the entire workday animating their own ideas. The only rule was that it had to be at least five seconds long. Both Titmouse studios (Los Angeles and New York) participated, and the results of this year’s 5 Second Day can be seen on the studio’s blog. I’ve posted a couple of my personal favorites in this post: above by Mike Roush and below by Phylicia Fuentes.
A Brew reader who preferred to remain anonymous e-mailed his thoughts about this week’s lawsuit filed against The Weinstein Company and Rainmaker Entertainment. This reader, who worked at Rainmaker Entertainment on the aborted feature, feels that the director Tony Leech, who is currently suing The Weinstein Company and Rainmaker, is partly responsible for the mess. I don’t think anybody truly knows who deserves the lion’s share of the blame, but as I hinted at earlier, it does appear that every party involved exhibited incompetence to some degree:
I was working on the Escape from Planet Earth production a few years back, while Tony Leech was on-board. Reading your latest article on the TWC [The Weinstein Company] lawsuit I had to write and provide some inside perspective.
While at Rainmaker, I read through at least 2 major rewrites and countless adjustments to the script and let me be crystal clear, Tony Leech produced some of the worst writing I had the displeasure of reading in my career.
You can’t really blame TWC, pushing for rewrites as I’m sure they were as frustrated with the underwhelming results. His inexperience as noted by TWC is a very accurate description. As a “director”, not seeing the big picture or having a vision, micro managing, and the occasional public meltdown made everyone feel like they had to walk on eggshells around Tony. You can imagine how counterproductive the situation was to improving the movie.
I recall talking to the head of the story development, a talented storyboard artist, who was frustrated for not being able to contribute a single meaningful idea to the script due to Tony’s inability to collaborate on any level. He left the project soon after.
In hindsight, perhaps the biggest TWC mistake was not negotiating Tony off the project earlier. Some major spending could have been avoided.
The stories go on and on and every day was a comedy of errors. I personally had enough after 6 months and left, I felt sorry for my friends, pouring their hearts into a production that was going nowhere. Hopefully this helps shed some light on the subject. Thanks for a great website, I visit CB often and every time it’s a treat:)
I saw Rango and I recommend it, despite its flaws. SPOILERS AHEAD: The first 20 minutes – up to the early scenes in the desert town of “Dirt” – and the last 15 minutes (when Rango leaves town, crosses the road and meets the “Spirit of the West”, through to the end) are fun, innovative and an almost perfect mix of art and entertainment. That’s 35 out of 100 minutes worthy of current inflated admission prices. The remaining middle section is a mash-up of western movie cliches and spaghetti westerns – with a dash of Apocalypse Now and a pinch Chinatown – that goes on a bit too long. The characters are ugly, but that’s okay – they are supposed to be grizzled desert creatures. The “emotion capture” reference footage technique won me over, though I thought Verbinski relied on way too many close ups…
…but that’s me. How about you? Comments are open below to our readers opinions – but only if you’ve seen the movie. What did you think about Rango?
P.S. Having seen the movie, I can attest that the behind-the-scenes book, The Ballad of Rango; The Art & Making of an Outlaw Film, written by longtime entertainment reporter David S. Cohen, is a perfect companion to the film. As with most of these tie-in’s, it is loaded with incredible artwork that preceeded the CG images on screen and Cohen’s text goes deep into Verbinski and ILM’s creative process. Regardless of your opinion of the film, the book is an important document of an unusual production. If you loved the film, the book is a must-have.
Loved the first one — and the second one does not look like it will disappoint:
“ICE AGE” TO THE DIGITAL AGE! THE 3D ANIMATION ART OF BLUE SKY STUDIOS
June 11 through October 31, 2011
Enjoy this lively, interactive exploration of the art of animation! Storyboards, character and background art, 3D and digital modeling and more from Blue Sky Studios will be offer an exciting glimpse into the behind-the-scenes process of creating animated images in the 21st century. Critically acclaimed for such feature length animated films as Ice Age and its popular sequels, Robots, Horton Hears a Who!, and the upcoming Rio, Blue Sky Studios is located in Greenwich, Connecticut, and specializes in photo-realistic, high resolution, computer generated animation and rendering.
Rarely-seen conceptual drawings, character illustrations and expression sheets, story boards, and background paintings from Blue Sky Studios illuminate the development of the visual narrative. Three dimensional character maquettes, models, and miniature movie sets provide a rare and intimate view of how visual concepts are transformed into believable, experiential worlds on the big screen. Featured on screen, the artists of Blue Sky are engaged in an array of artistic work, from storyboarding and the development of beloved characters to modeling, surfacing, lighting and special effects. Film clips and computer stations inviting visitors to explore aspects of animation technology will provide experiential windows into the process, and further illuminate the diverse and exceptional work of Blue Sky Studios, a leader in the animation industry for more than twenty years.
The museum will be holding an exhibition opening on Saturday, June 11, from 6 to 8 p.m., with Blue Sky animators and character designer/illustrator Peter de SÃ¨ve in attendance (remarks at 6:30 p.m.), followed by a festive reception and party. The following day we will be holding an animation festival day, from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m., where fans will be able to learn about the animators’ work, and create their own character designs in two and three-dimensions. More exhibition-related programs will be announced shortly, and you can visit our website for updates: http://www.nrm.org
Toronto, Ont. — March 3, 2011 — Starz, LLC, has completed a transaction resulting in a Canadian investor group purchasing a majority stake in the award-winning Starz Animation Toronto. This transaction will bolster the CG-animation and VFX company as it continues its growth in the digital media industry. The deal was announced today by Starz, LLC, President and CEO Chris Albrecht.
Starz, LLC has retained an equity stake in the company and will continue to support the studio in numerous ways.Â No other terms of the transaction were disclosed.
“We are very proud of the work that the Starz Animation Toronto team has created over the last few years, work that stands up to anything coming from the major studios,” Albrecht said. ”As a minority partner, we remain committed to the growth of the company. Starz is turning its primary focus more toward globally appealing live action TV programming and we are confident that the best way for the animation studio to continue its growth is to go forward under Canadian majority ownership.”
Noted media and marketing executive J. Thomas Murray and executive producer Steven B. Hecht lead the Canadian buying group.Â The team plans to support all of the current productions and business development at the studio, while utilizing Starz Animation Toronto as the foundation of a multimedia business that will leverage the studio’s expertise in CG animation for features, television, and high-end visual effects.
Speaking for the Canadian partners, Hecht noted: “The artistry and professionalism of the staff at Starz Animation Toronto is well known here in Canada and around the world. Certainly the most recent evidence of the team’s quality is the impressive debut of Gnomeo & Juliet, which earned more than $100 million worldwide since opening on Feb. 11, and the work of Starz Animation Toronto has been credited for a large part of the film’s success.Â We plan to use this impressive track record as the platform for aggressive growth.”
Hecht added that “Canadian control provides Starz Animation with two significant benefits.Â First, on the service side, it will be more cost competitive by taking full advantage of the significant grants, labor tax credits and subsidy opportunities available in Canada.Â Second, it will allow the studio to expand into development and production, on an ownership basis, of intellectual property, independently and / or together with international co-production partners.”
The Province of Ontario’s Ministry of Economic Development and Trade announced in 2009 a grant of nearly $23 million, to support a total investment of $153 million over five years, to help Starz Animation Toronto create and retain over 250 jobs through expanding and enhancing the studio as a Center of Excellence for innovation in animation.Â The province will continue to support the studio’s investment in innovation and expansion, under the new ownership structure.Â The studio will maintain its debt financing relationship with RBC Royal Bank.
The partnership acquiring the majority stake in the studio is a new Canadian holding company with principles who have extensive Canadian, North American, and worldwide communications sector experience.Â Led by Murray and Hecht, the group includes members with backgrounds in broadcasting, media production, strategic media marketing, and an established profile in global capital markets.
Disney fans like to look for “hidden Mickeys” – but here’s one they may have missed. When Disney’s mouse became an overnight sensation in 1928, almost every competing studio included a Mickey-like mouse (or a Mickey-like fox or Mickey-like bear) in their films. Now it turns out that these ersatz Mickey’s weren’t confined to Hollywood cartoons.
The frame above is from a 1930s Japanese short called (roughly translated) 2nd Class Lt. Norakuro and Mickey Mouse Play Disturbance. It was recently revealed on the Japanese site, Toy Film Project, which is documenting Japanese home movie films.
Norakuro is a Japanese comic series created by cartoonist Suiho Tagawa (1899-1989), which ran from 1931 up until the early ’40s, about a black dog in a canine Army, very much inspired by the Imperial Japanese army at the time. The comic stopped when World War II broke out, but the cartoons remained popular. It was animated several times – a series of short-films in the ’30s, two TV series (1970-71 and 1987-88). This cartoon is believed to be in public domain (if you can find it) – Mickey Mouse is still protected by international trademark.
(Thanks, Nicholas Pozega and Charles Brubaker)
GLENDALE, Calif., March 3, 2011 — DreamWorks Animation SKG, Inc. (Nasdaq: DWA) today announced that it will bring Rumblewick to the big screen. Director Tim Johnson (Over The Hedge, Antz) and writer Jim Herzfeld (Meet the Fockers, Meet the Parents) are collaborating on the feature project, which is inspired by the children’s book, My Unwilling Witch (The Rumblewick Letters) by Hiawyn Oram and Sarah Warburton. DreamWorks Animation development executives Chris Kuser and Gregg Taylor are overseeing the project at the studio.
“The fascinating world of witches and witches’ familiars is perfectly suited for the medium of animation, where anything goes,” said DreamWorks Animation’s Chief Creative Officer, Bill Damaschke. “Combined with the magically creative and comedic sensibilities of Tim Johnson and Jim Herzfeld, we look forward to bringing the world of Rumblewick to life.”
“The odds are stacked against our main character, a hard-working rabbit. Telling the story of his struggle and triumph is a fantastic journey. I know audiences are going to fall in love with Rumblewick,” added Tim Johnson.
Rumblewick will follow the adventures of a magician’s rabbit for whom the invitation to learn real magic and train as a witch’s familiar seems like a dream come true! But the dream becomes a nightmare when he discovers he’s really a pawn in a game between rival witches.Â Having learned the hard way that when something seems too good to be true it probably is, he must outsmart them both to save his fuzzy little hide.
Hasbro Studios Splits Creative Units into Development and Current Program Groups as Production Output Increases
Creative Exec Michael Vogel Promoted to VP to Oversee Development for Boys, Action, Girls and Preschool Programming; SVP Linda Steiner to Oversee Current Programming
LOS ANGELES, Mar 02, 2011 — Hasbro Studios, the Los Angeles-based production and distribution division of Hasbro, Inc. (NASDAQ: HAS), has split its boys/action and girls/preschool creative teams into separate series development and current programming groups to meet increased production output. The former heads of both units, which have been in place since the studio’s inception in 2009, have taken on new roles leading the revamped teams, Hasbro Studios President Stephen Davis announced today.
Davis has promoted Mike Vogel from executive director, boys and action programming, to vice president, development. Vogel will be charged with reimagining all boys, action, girls and pre-school creative efforts by the studio.
Linda Steiner, who had served as senior VP, girls and preschool programming, has taken on a new role as senior VP, current programming, managing a growing number of successful studio-produced series once they are on the air.
Additionally, Vice President of Production Kathy Page will lead an expanded team to support the restructured departments with production and post-production services, while continuing to assist in oversight of outside production service relationships.
“With the rapid growth of Hasbro Studios and the increasing number of shows we have on The Hub, as well as airing in international markets, I am making these changes to both streamline the creative process and make our organization operate more efficiently,” Davis said. “Michael, Linda and Kathy have all done outstanding jobs in their respective roles and now, with this restructuring, we will be able to create a more cohesive organization.”
Vogel, who has shepherded Transformers Prime, G.I. Joe Renegades and other well-known Hasbro brands from inception to success on The Hub, previously served as director of animated programming at Sony Pictures Entertainment, overseeing development and current programming for television animation. Vogel had worked on numerous animated series, including the Emmy nominated Jackie Chan Adventures, Stan Lee’s The Spectacular Spiderman for Kid’s WB, the Peabody Award-winning The Boondocks, as well as Sit Down Shut Up.
Steiner joined Hasbro Studios in her previous role in 2009 from Warner Bros. Animation, where she was senior vice president of creative affairs. At Warner Bros., she was responsible for overseeing development and production of some of the most high-profile and highly rated animation programming on television, including The Batman, for which she won an Emmy Award; Legion of Super Heroes and Teen Titans. She joined Warner Bros. in 1998 as vice president, development. Previously, she held senior positions at ABC Entertainment in the network’s children’s entertainment division.
March 01, 2011 — A new exhibition celebrating the animated characters created by Pixar Studios is set to open in Hong Kong next month. Pixar: 25 Years of Animation will open its doors at the Hong Kong Heritage Museum on March 28th, running until July 11th. More than 400 items will be on display, including traditional artwork, maquettes, animated short films and unique media installations made especially for the exhibit by the studio’s technical artists. All ages can enjoy the fun and look into the history of the characters from movies such as the Toy Story trilogy, Monsters Inc, Finding Nemo and The Incredibles. The event has recently been re-curated following an initial global tour, with Hong Kong chosen as the first stop on its latest world trip.
Animated characters created by Pixar Animation Studios, such as Woody and Buzz Lightyear in Toy Story, Sulley and the human girl Boo in Monsters, Inc., the clownfish father and son in Finding Nemo and the family of superheroes in The Incredibles, have been appealing to and enchanting audiences of all ages. In the infinitely malleable world of CG animation, Pixar has shown considerable creativity and presented numerous fascinating animated stories that successfully offer pleasure as well as visual enjoyment to a huge number of audiences.
As a blockbuster exhibition hosted by the Hong Kong Heritage Museum in 2011, Pixar: 25 Years of Animation will showcase different types of drawings by Pixar Animation Studios during the conception of CG animation works, which offer visitors an artistic insight into the studio’s hugely successful and most beloved films. Over 400 items, including traditional artwork in various mediums, maquettes, early animated short films, and one-of-a-kind media installations created by Pixar Technical Artists will be on display in the exhibition. After a successful international tour and stop in California, the show has been re-curated and will make its first stop globally in Hong Kong. Some of this new artwork has never been seen outside of the studio’s archives before!
Admission to the Heritage Museum costs $10 for adults, with students, people with disabilities and those aged over 60 able to enter for $5. It is free to everyone on Wednesdays. The venue is open between 10:00 and 18:00 local time on Mondays to Saturdays, with the exception of Tuesday when it is closed. On Sundays and public holidays, it remains open until 19:00.
For more information, visit www.heritagemuseum.gov.hk/eng/attractions/attractions.aspx.
OGDEN, Utah (Feb. 28, 2011) — The hit animated feature Megamind from DreamWorks Animation SKG, Inc. (Nasdaq: DWA) is now available on Blu-ray and DVD (Feb. 25, 2011). To celebrate this release, five brand-new Megamind artwork images have joined six previous releases in the DreamWorks Animation Fine Art portfolio.
Each of the new Megamind pieces from Sanders Art Studio, the sole authorized global publisher of DreamWorks Animation Fine Art, are limited to only 50 pieces worldwide and feature a suggested retail price of $250. The collection of eleven exquisitely reproduced images represent key moments and characters from the film including Metro Man, Minion and Megamind himself. The artwork can be viewed at: http://www.dreamworksanimationfineart.com/servlet/the-Megamind/Categories
“These fine art releases from Megamind represent DreamWorks Animation at its finest. With these five new additions, fans have a wider selection of imagery to choose from in bringing a bit of the fun, color and beauty of the film right into their homes,” said KC Sanders, owner of Sanders Art Studio.
The six new Megamind pieces in the DreamWorks Animation Fine Art portfoliofeature the three stars of the animated comedy: Megamind, the most brilliant super-villain the world has ever known â€¦ and the least successful; Metro Man, the do-gooding caped superhero who’s Megamind’s arch-nemesis; and Minion, the ape-suited fish who’s Megamind’s closest (and only) friend.
“Animation enthusiasts, film fans and movie art collectors alike will all find something appealing in these new releases,” Sanders said. “The animators at
DreamWorks created a film that was cited by critics as ‘mind-boggling fun’ (Boston Herald) and ‘beautifully animated’ (Washington Post), the perfect description of what great pop art should be — beautiful and fun.”
All of the new art pieces from Megamind are available as hand-numbered, limited-edition fine art giclée prints (Dimensions: 32″ x13.6″). They are meticulously printed on acid free, museum quality paper and are delivered with a certificate of authenticity. As with all pieces in the DreamWorks Animation Fine Art portfolio, Megamind fine art is available at Sanders Art Studio and online at: www.dreamworksanimationfineart.com.
DreamWorks Animation Fine Art produces hand-crafted, limited-edition artwork from unforgettable DreamWorks Animation films, including unique, artistic interpretations of the Shrek movies, Kung Fu Panda, Madagascar, How to Train Your Dragon, Monsters vs. Aliens and Bee Movie.
Los Angeles, CA – This March, join Charlie Brown, Linus, Snoopy and all your favorite Peanuts characters as Happiness is a Warm Blanket, Charlie Brown, the very first Peanuts graphic novel ever published, is released by newly-launched all-ages imprint kaboom! Based on the work by Peanuts creator Charles M. Schulz himself, this graphic novel is sure to delight a whole new generation of Peanuts fans!
Adapted from the brand new animated special from Warner Home Video, Happiness is a Warm Blanket, Charlie Brown features Charlie Brown’s kite-flying woes, Linus’ insecurities, Lucy’s unrequited love for Schroeder and everyone’s favorite beagle, Snoopy, in a lively and colorful spin through Charles Schulz’s imagination. This 80 page, 7×10, hardcover graphic novel ships this March at the suggested retail price of $19.99 in conjunction with the all-new Peanuts animated feature of the same name available on DVD from Warner Home Video March 29, 2011.
Happiness is a Warm Blanket, Charlie Brown is written by original creator Charles M. Schulz and adapted by Craig Schulz and Stephan Pastis, with art by Bob Scott, Vicki Scott and Ron Zorman.
Walt Disney’s Mickey Mouse Vol. 1: Race to Death Valley showcases the first two years of Gottfredson’s daily masterpiece, beginning in 1930 (specifically, Jan. 13, 1930 through Jan. 9, 1932), with each strip lovingly restored from Disney’s original negatives and proof sheets.
For its first quarter-century, Gottfredson’s Mickey Mouse was a rip-roaring serial: the most popular cartoon-based comic of its time, a trendsetting adventure continuity aimed at both kids and grown-ups, and the foundation on which all later Disney comics grew – including the adventures of Donald Duck and Uncle Scrooge by Gottfredson’s Disney colleague Carl Barks.
Glimpses of Floyd Gottfredson’s masterpiece have been reprinted over the years, but the whole strip has never been comprehensively collected in English – until now! Relive Mickey’s race to a gold mine with Pegleg Pete hot on his heels; Mickey’s life on the lam after being framed for bank robbery; even Mickey’s ringside battle with a hulking heavyweight champ! The premiere volume features a dozen different adventures starring Mickey, his gal Minnie and her Uncle Mortimer, his pals Horace Horsecollar and Butch, the villainous Pegleg Pete, and the mysterious and shrouded Fox.
In addition to the classic strips themselves, Walt Disney’s Mickey Mouse Vol. 1: Race to Death Valley includes more than 80 pages of fascinating supplementary features, including rare behind-the-scenes art and vintage publicity material from the first two years of the strip. Critics, scholars, seasoned Disney archivists, and fellow cartoonists provide commentary and historical essays on the strip’s creation and execution.
$29.99 Hardcover â€¢ 260 pages, color and black-and-white â€¢ 10 1/2” x 8 1/2” â€¢ ISBN 978-1-60699-441-2
HUMOR / Comic Strips â€¢ PUBLICATION DATE: April 15, 2011
â€¢ Produced in full cooperation with The Walt Disney Company
â€¢ Great gift idea
â€¢ Featuring the #1 character franchise in the world
â€¢ Fantagraphics’ most anticipated release since the first volume of The Complete Peanuts, which has sold over 150,000 copies
Today everyone knows Mickey Mouse as the cheerful ambassador of all things Disney, and the #1 character franchise in the world. But back in the 1930s, Mickey gained fame as a rough-and-tumble, two-fisted epic hero – an adventurous, underdog scrapper matching wits with mobsters, kidnappers, spies, and even (gulp!) city slickers! And Mickey’s greatest feats of derring-do took place in his daily comic strip, written and drawn by one of the greatest cartoonists of the 20th century – Floyd Gottfredson.
Gottfredson’s vibrant visual storytelling has never been more beautifully reproduced, with each daily lovingly restored from Disney’s original negatives and proof sheets.
Walt Disney often said that his studio’s success “all started with a Mouse,” and today Mickey is among the world’s most recognizable icons. Now it’s time to rediscover the wild, unforgettable personality behind the icon!