Norman Rockwell Museum To Open Blue Sky Studios Exhibition This June

“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 Sève 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

Starz Animation Toronto Sold to Canadian Investor Group

Starz

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.  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.  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.  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.  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.  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.  The province will continue to support the studio’s investment in innovation and expansion, under the new ownership structure.  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.  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.

“Lt. Norakuro and Mickey Mouse” ?

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)

Dreamworks Animation announces “Rumblewick”

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. 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 Announces Restructuring, Promotes Mike Vogel to VP of Development

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.

Pixar’s “25 Years of Animation” exhibition coming to Hong Kong’s Heritage Museum

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.

Mega Art From “Megamind” and DreamWorks Animation Fine Art

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 … 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.

kaboom! releases first “Peanuts” graphic novel, “Happiness is a Warm Blanket, Charlie Brown”

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.

Fantagraphics Presents: Walt Disney’s Mickey Mouse by Floyd Gottfredson

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 • 260 pages, color and black-and-white • 10 1/2” x 8 1/2” • ISBN 978-1-60699-441-2
HUMOR / Comic Strips • PUBLICATION DATE: April 15, 2011
• Produced in full cooperation with The Walt Disney Company
• Great gift idea
• Featuring the #1 character franchise in the world
• 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!

Dreamworks Animation and IMAX Make Pact for “Kung Fu Panda 2″ and “Puss In Boots”

GLENDALE, Calif., March 1, 2011  — DreamWorks Animation SKG, Inc. (Nasdaq:DWA) and IMAX Corporation (NYSE:IMAX) (TSX:IMX) announced today that the studio’s two upcoming releases, Kung Fu Panda 2 and Puss in Boots, will open in digital IMAX® theatres in IMAX® 3D. Kung Fu Panda 2 will be released to IMAX theatres in select international territories in conjunction with each of the territory’s release dates; Puss in Boots will have a two-week IMAX release day-and-date with the domestic release. Both films are produced by DreamWorks Animation and will be distributed by Paramount Pictures.

“The IMAX Experience® remains among the premiere viewing experiences in the world and we are thrilled that our audiences overseas will have the opportunity to watch Kung Fu Panda 2 and that movie-goers here in the U.S. will get to see Puss in Boots in IMAX 3D later this year,” said DreamWorks Animation’s Chief Executive Officer, Jeffrey Katzenberg.

“The addition of these two DreamWorks Animation films reinforce the strong offering of titles we have slated for the rest of the year,” said IMAX Chief Executive Officer Richard L. Gelfond. “Kung Fu Panda 2 and Puss in Boots are the next incarnation of blockbuster franchises and we are happy to make them available to our moviegoers around the world.”

“Clearly these beloved DreamWorks Animation characters have resonated around the world with audiences young and old alike and we are excited to be able to once again showcase them and their new adventures to IMAX fans through our long-standing alliance with DreamWorks Animation,” said Greg Foster, Chairman and President of IMAX Filmed Entertainment.

In Kung Fu Panda 2, Po is now living his dream as The Dragon Warrior, protecting the Valley of Peace alongside his friends and fellow kung fu masters, The Furious Five. But Po’s new life of awesomeness is threatened by the emergence of a formidable villain, who plans to use a secret, unstoppable weapon to conquer China and destroy kung fu.Po must look to his past and uncover the secrets of his mysterious origins; only then will he be able to unlock the strength he needs to succeed.

Way before Puss ever met Shrek, our suave and furry feline hero goes on a swashbuckling ride in Puss in Boots, as he teams with mastermind Humpty Dumpty and the street-savvy Kitty to steal the famed Goose that lays the Golden Eggs.

“Tron: Uprising” Series Trailer

A promising first look at Tron: Uprising which will begin airing on Disney XD in summer 2012. A ten-part micro-series will precede it this fall. Charlie Bean (Ren & Stimpy, Samurai Jack, Robotboy, and of course, this short) is directing and exec producing, and the amazing Alberto Mielgo is also contributing to the project.

(via Super Punch)

Weinsteins Sued For Not Making An Ugly CG Cartoon

Escape from Planet Earth

Yesterday, a $50 million-plus lawsuit was filed in the New York State Supreme Court against The Weinstein Company and Vancouver-based animation studio Rainmaker Entertainment. The plaintiffs, Tony Leech (co-director and co-writer of Hoodwinked!) and Brian Inerfeld, allege that they were removed from the production of their animated feature Escape from Planet Earth and that the Weinsteins, through gross incompetence, ruined the production of their film, which has yet to be finished. They also claim the Weinsteins gave them $500,000 in hush money until after the Oscars were over.

The Weinsteins, who have retained two powerful entertainment attorneys–David Boies and Bert Fields–to defend themselves, contend that it’s “a completely frivolous lawsuit” that “contains little more than false, gratuitous, slanderous, preposterous and totally irrelevant personal attacks.”

I don’t know which side is going to win the case, but every Brew reader is a winner because the plaintiffs created a hilariously detailed 60-page complaint that can be downloaded as PDF file. The torturous production process of a misguided animated feature hasn’t been this lovingly documented since The Sweatbox, the film by Sting’s wife about how Disney fumbled The Emperor’s New Groove. The punchline is that the Weinsteins have blown $19 million so far on an unproduced film with some of the most generic-looking computer animation this side of Everyone’s Hero:

The legal complaint reads like a comedy of errors–Harvey Weinstein fired his brother Bob from the film’s production; a sickly line producer was hired and died shortly thereafter; Kevin Bacon was paid $50,000 to voice a character and then paid $25,000 to not work on the film; Toy Story producer Ralph Guggenheim was hired and then fired by Harvey Weinstein for “ruining the fu*king movie.” Leech and Inerfeld also attack Rainmaker, a studio which they claim “did not have the expertise to make Escape, let alone the desire to do so within the confines of the movie’s budget.” All that may be well and true, but let’s not forget that Leech, who was directing the film in addition to writing it, is also a relative animation newbie. I’m sorry, but working on Hoodwinked! doesn’t make you John Lasseter nor does it instantly qualify you to direct a staff of hundreds, and one has to wonder how much his inexperience contributed to the film’s woes.

According to the documents, nobody could settle on a script, characters, voice actors, or even the animation studio that would make the film. That’s not a surprise for the Weinstein Company (formerly Miramax) which has a pathetic track record of distributing animated clunkers like The Thief and the Cobbler, Doogal, Freddie as F.R.O.7 and Tom and Jerry: The Movie. The lawsuit offers hints of their brilliantly poor understanding of the animation art form. One example is the “revelation” Harvey had about how pantomime acting could delineate a character’s personality–something every first-year animation student learns:

Harvey Weinstein responded by recounting something he had recently read in a book on Walt Disney, where the Seven Dwarves [sic] from Snow White are introduced to the audience for the first time. In that scene, Harvey Weinstein noted, the Dwarves put their noses on Snow White’s bed, and the manner in which they do reveals the character of each Dwarf: “And the amazing thing is, if you look at the script, it barely says anything.”

In addition to documenting a failed animation production, there is ridiculous gossip like the claim that Harvey Weinstein fell asleep during a screening of the story reels. And then, during that same meeting, he “attempted to consume an entire bowl of M&M candies despite being diabetic. When a [Weinstein company executive] sought to retrieve the bowl of candy out of obvious concerns for Harvey Weinstein’s health, he fought to keep it, and in the tumult the M&Ms scattered all over the floor. Then, instead of watching the reel, Harvey Weinstein got down on his hands and knees and began eating M&Ms off the floor.”

An anonymous artist who emailed us yesterday summed up his experience working on the film at Rainmaker when he wrote, “I had the rare pleasure of working on Escape for several years. The production itself was fodder for a movie. A true comedy of errors. Wish I had a cam rolling through it all.”

UPDATE: Read a former Rainmaker employee’s opinions about the lawsuit.

Afternoon of Remembrance 2011

Once each year at the DeMille Barn in Hollywood, the Animation Guild, ASIFA-Hollywood and Women In Animation present An Afternoon of Remembrance, “a non-denominational celebration of departed friends from our animation community”.

This year the event takes place this Saturday, March 5th, at 1pm (A reception precedes the memorial at 12 noon). Tributes will be paid to many, including:

Alex Anderson, Frank Frazetta, Heidi Guedel Garofalo, Chris Jenkyns, Kihachiro Kawamoto, Betty Kimball, Satoshi Kon Rudy Larriva, Bill Littlejohn, Carl Macek, Robert McIntosh, Tom Ray, Pres Romanillos, John Sparey and others.

The Afternoon of Remembrance is free of charge and is open to all. No RSVPs necessary. Food and refreshments, 12 noon, Memoriams, 1 pm. The Hollywood Heritage Museum (Lasky-DeMille Barn) is located at 2100 N. Highland Ave. (across from Hollywood Bowl) in Hollywood, California.

Pixar to Debut New “Toy Story” Short at Toronto International Film Festival in April

Toronto — Sprockets Toronto International Film Festival for Children and Youth is thrilled to open this year’s festival on Friday, April 8 with the World Premiere of Pixar Animation Studio’s newest short, Hawaiian Vacation, a Toy Story Toon. Join Woody and Buzz in 3D as they lead a group of toys in giving Ken and Barbie the Hawaiian vacation of their dreams — except it has to be in a girl’s bedroom in the Midwest in the middle of winter, because Ken badly miscalculated the travel arrangements.  Hawaiian Vacation (6 min) is directed by Gary Rydstrom and produced by Galyn Susman.

As part of the Sprockets Opening Night programme, audiences will also be treated to a sneak peek at the upcoming Disney Pixar release, Cars 2. Sprockets attendees will learn how the magic is made during a special behind-the-scenes presentation by a Pixar animator who worked on both Hawaiian Vacation and Cars 2.

For the past 14 years Sprockets has continued to provide children and youth the best in film from around the world,” says Elizabeth Muskala, Director of Festivals and Events, TIFF. “Opening with the World Premiere of a Pixar short film is a first for us, and we’re delighted to present an exclusive evening with Pixar Animation Studios to Toronto audiences.”

In Cars 2, the follow-up to the 2006 Golden Globe®-winning Cars, star racecar Lightning McQueen (voice of Owen Wilson) and the incomparable tow truck Mater (voice of Larry the Cable Guy) head overseas to compete in the first-ever World Grand Prix, where Mater gets caught up in an intriguing adventure of his own: international espionage. Directed by John Lasseter, co-directed by Brad Lewis. Hawaiian Vacation will be shown with Cars 2, when it opens in theatres on June 24, 2011.

Tickets for Sprockets go on sale to TIFF members March 8 and to the general public March 22. Sprockets Toronto International Film Festival runs from April 5 to 17 at TIFF Bell Lightbox, 350 King Street West, Toronto. With more than 80 films from 27 countries spanning all genres, Sprockets brings the world of cinema to Toronto’s youngest audiences, along with an exciting slate of special guests, hands-on family activities and showcases for young filmmakers. For more information contact our box office on telephone 416-599-TIFF or visit tiff.net/sprockets.

“Matatoro” by Mauro Carraro, Raphaël Calamote and Jérémy Pasquet

Matatoro

Matatoro takes on “the hermetic world of bullfighting and its public, here reinvented and reinterpreted.” The short was made at Supinfocom Arles last year by Mauro Carraro, Raphaël Calamote, and Jérémy Pasquet. The music was composed by Pierre Manchot.

The film is ambitious stylistically: its nonphotorealistic rendering style mimics ink and watercolor to good effect, and the stylized animation and layouts emphasize the theatrical nature of bullfighting. There’s never any doubt that the film was made in CG–the smooth perfection of the camera gives it away–but the filmmakers’ application of the watercolor technique allows for some of the most exciting color I’ve seen in any recent CG short.

The imagery in Matatoro is thoughtful and thoughtprovoking. The filmmakers draw visual metaphors between bullfighting and flamenco dancing, carousel rides, and the circus, but in the end, the film asks viewers to reconsider whether it resembles any of those other less violent pastimes.

Jean Maxime Perramon – 1947 – 2011

The Los Angeles Times reported over the weekend that animator Jean Maxime Perramon (Ferngully: The Last Rainforest, Bionic Six, Jetsons: The Movie, The Tigger Movie) passed away on February 26, 2011 from injuries resulting from a road accident. Perramon’s most recent work was with the animation company Pepper Films Inc., which he co-founded. Here is his bio from Pepper Films’ website:

Jean Perramon brings vast experience as an outstanding director and designer to Pepper Films. Throughout his successful career, Perramon has consistently used digital technology and worked with talented digital artists and animators to create eyecatching, entertaining projects for clients such as Kellogg’s on the Froot Loops campaign, Keebler, Mattel, Huggies and Gatorade and the opening title animation sequence for Disney’s The Tigger Movie.

Additionally, he worked at Duck Soup Studios as a director and designer for over 10 years on various award-winning spots such as FILA/Footlocker “Run Ball,” Pop Tarts “Keep Away,” McDonald’s “Foxy,” and the 7-Up “Spot” campaigns. Perramon was a concept art on FernGully: The Last Rainforest.

Perramon began his career in Los Angeles as a Production Designer for Richard Williams Animation Studio. Prior to immigrating to Los Angeles, Perramon was based in Paris as an art director for the Oscar Mors et Varout ad agency where he worked exclusively on the L’Oreal account.

Smoke-Free org targeting “Rango”

Haven’t seen Rango yet, but apparently the villain puffs a cigarette and the film is rated PG due to scenes of smoking. This has incensed the folks at Smoke Free Movies to start a campaign to get the animated film an R rating.

They took out an ad in the Hollywood trade papers last week to call attention to Rango and 21 other Oscar nominated films from 2010 (which include Alice In Wonderland and The Illusionist) that include scenes of characters smoking. Here’s an excerpt (below) from their full page advertisement published in the March 3rd Hollywood Reporter. See the full ad here.

Award Winning Animator to Conduct Incubator at CaribbeanTales 2011

(Bridgetown, Barbados) Award-winning animator Camille Selvon Abrahams will conduct an intensive Animation Incubator at the highly anticipated CaribbeanTales 2011 Film Festival that runs from March 14-20, in Barbados.

Entitled “Creating a Convincing Animation Bible” this special 3-day program will take place on March 15, 16th, and 18th, and aims to teach participants how to create market-ready animation proposals using creatively innovative local characters and storylines developed especially for the medium.

Sessions will include Creating the Ideal Synopsis, Character Design, and a presentation on Creating your World which deals with environmental and background design sheets. At the end of the workshop, participants will have put together a detailed production Bible which can be used to support a pitch for funding.

CEO and Founder of CaribbeanTales Worldwide Distribution, Frances-Anne Solomon expressed her delight that Abrahams will be participating in CaribbeanTales 2011. “Camille is a pioneer and visionary who has single-handedly created the basis for a highly successful indigenous animation industry based out of Trinidad. We are delighted that she will be joining us here in Barbados to share her skills with producers from around the region and the Diaspora.

“Animation is an aspect of the film industry with huge potential for development in the Caribbean.” Solomon added

As Camille Abrahams explained: “In discussions with Frances-Anne, we decided to focus on developing storytelling skills rather than on the purely technical aspects of animation. This is really exciting for me because we in the Caribbean have so many rich stories to tell. It is the craft of storytelling that if mastered will add a whole new dimension to our Caribbean animations.”

She went on to state that “…animation is a $25 billion industry, and within the past couple of years moviegoers in England and America are craving product from the Caribbean. I know there are dozens of young talented animators around the region, and I am coming to CaribbeanTales to give back.”

In 1999, Abrahams, a graduate of Goldsmith’s in London, won the Royal Television Society Award for her film Master Peace and decided to move her 4-year old company Full Circle Animations to Trinidad and Tobago. There, in addition to producing animations for a range of multimedia services including commercials, corporate productions, and websites, she trains young animators through the BA program that she created at the University of Trinidad and Tobago.

Abrahams looks forward to sharing her knowledge as she seeks to contribute to the development and creation of wonderful, funny, authentic Caribbean animated films.

“The Caribbean is now being seen as an exciting new frontier for animation, and I believe we have the versatility, creativity and passion to really make a statement on the world stage,” she said.

Call for Proposals: GIRAF Animation Festival, Signal Film/Art

Quickdraw Animation Society seeks artist proposals for our GIRAF 7 signal film

Deadline: Friday March 18, 2011

The Giant Incandescent Resonating Animation Festival runs this Nov 2‐6, and celebrates the best in independent animation, through screenings, visiting artists, workshops, and talks. In 2011, our festival will feature Animated City ‐ an installation component with outdoor building sized animated projections.

The signal film (a 30 second animation), and associated press art (one or more images based on the signal film animation), will be used in the promotion of our 2011 Animation Festival. We invite all animation techniques (films MUST be animated), and proposals should include the following elements:

1) Giraffe(s)— Our mascot

2) Visions of an “Animated City” (Urban spaces, cities, buildings)

Chosen applicant must deliver:
Poster Art: By May 4, 2011 Final Film: by June 29, 2011
*Successful Applicant will be informed no later than April 1, 2011 of their proposals acceptance*

Criteria for selections include consideration of the theme, strength of vision, and competency in the proposed animation technique. Selected applicant will receive a $1100.00 honorarium for the completion of the film/associated poster graphics, and this is your chance to have your animation seen widely as a part of our festival! For more information on our festival, and to watch our previous signal films please visit: www.giraffest.ca!
Proposals must include:
‐Description of your proposed signal film including animation technique
‐One page of supporting artwork, character design or storyboards
‐Your CV, and an online link to one example of your previous animation
Proposals must be submitted by Friday March 18, 2011, to [email protected] (Email Preferred, Subject line: GIRAF Signal Film Pitch)

NYC’s Carnegie Hall features American Debut of Two Miyazaki Short Films at JapanNYC Fest

RARE U.S. SCREENINGS OF TWO SHORT FILMS BY ACCLAIMED ARTIST AND ANIMATOR HAYAO MIYAZAKI TO BE HELD AT ZANKEL HALL ON SATURDAY, MARCH 26 AS PART OF CARNEGIE HALL’S CITYWIDE JapanNYC FESTIVAL

Carnegie Hall today announced that two short animated films–House Hunting and Mon Mon the Water Spider–by Academy Award-winning Japanese animator and director Hayao Miyazaki (Princess Mononoke, Spirited Away, Howl’s Moving Castle) will be shown together in two screenings on Saturday, March 26 at 6:30 and 8:30 p.m. in Zankel Hall. It will mark the first time that these two films, created in 2006, have been exhibited outside Japan. The screenings are part of Carnegie Hall’s citywide JapanNYC festival which invites audiences to explore the incredible diversity of Japanese arts and culture with more than 65 performances and events this season (including over 40 this spring) at Carnegie Hall and New York City partner venues.

Tickets for the Zankel Hall film screenings, priced at $15, will go on sale Tuesday, March 1 at 11:00 a.m. at the Carnegie Hall Box Office, by calling CarnegieCharge at 212-247-7800, or online at carnegiehall.org.

Hayao Miyazaki is one of the world’s most prominent directors and animators of animated feature films. A commercially and critically successful filmmaker in Japan since the late 1970s, Miyazaki came to be well known in the West for his 1997 feature Princess Mononoke, which at the time was the highest-grossing film of all time in Japan and was the first animated film to win Picture of the Year at the Japanese Academy Awards. His 2001 follow-up, Spirited Away, then became the highest grossing film in Japanese history and also won Picture of the Year at the Japanese Academy Awards. Spirited Away also won Best Animated Feature at the 2002 American Academy Awards and the Golden Bear at the Berlin Film Festival, the first animated film to win either of these honors.

House Hunting and Mon Mon the Water Spider are two of eight short animated films created specifically for the Ghibli Museum in Mitaka, Japan, by Studio Ghibli, the animation studio that Miyazaki co-founded in 1985. These short films may only be seen at the Ghibli Museum, which was founded in 2001 to celebrate, preserve, and introduce people of all ages to the techniques and culture of traditional hand-drawn animation. In cooperation with Carnegie Hall, the Ghibli Museum has made a one-time-only exception to its screening policy for the JapanNYC festival.

Both House Hunting and Mon Mon the Water Spider share a common feature in that they do not make use of spoken dialogue to convey their story or theme. And each in its own way represents two divergent thematic and stylistic characteristics of Japanese art and culture: the indigenous traditional culture of Japanese folk art, and the more elaborate and refined art influenced by borrowings from foreign cultures. House Hunting employs a bold and somewhat simplified style and owes much to the influence of manga, including the use of visual representation of sound effects. Mon Mon the Water Spider is more Western-influenced, both in its style and its story and theme.

The JapanNYC festival explores the world of Japan today, where artists embrace their country’s unique aesthetic sensibilities while continually revitalizing its cultural landscape. Led by famed conductor Seiji Ozawa as Artistic Director, JapanNYC celebrates a country that values its long-standing cultural heritage while also embracing and transforming Western art forms, in a spirit that very much looks ahead. More than 40 JapanNYC events will take place throughout New York City from March 14—April 9. For a complete schedule and more details, visit carnegiehall.org/japannyc.

Japan Gives Half Million Dollar Grant to Sri Lanka for Animation Studio

Japan Provides a Grant of Rs. 54 Million for Improvement of Production Facilities at Sri Lanka Rupavahini Corporation (SLRC)

The Government of Japan has agreed to provide a grant of Rs. 54 million (Japanese Yen 41,700,000) for Improvement of Production Facilities at Sri Lanka Rupavahini Corporation (SLRC).

Under this project, a new 3D Animation Studio will be established enabling Sri Lanka Rupavahini Corporation (SLRC) to produce new 2D and 3D animation TV programmes and it is also expected to raise the quality of cartoon production in Sri Lanka to International standards. This Project will be carried out with the concurrence of Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA).

The signing of Exchange of Notes pertaining to the above Grant took place today, at the Ministry of Finance and Planning. His Excellency Kunio Takahashi, Ambassador of Japan in Sri Lanka signed the Exchange of Notes on behalf of the Government of Japan while P B Jayasundera, Secretary, Ministry of Finance and Planning singed on behalf of the Government of Sri Lanka. A Grant Agreement was also signed by P B Jayasundera, Secretary, Ministry of Finance and Planning and Akira Shimura, Senior Representative of JICA Sri Lanka Office on behalf of the Government of Sri Lanka and JICA respectively. Mr. M P D U K Mapa Pathirana, Director General, Department of External Resources also participated at this occasion.

ASIFA-Hollywood Chooses New Leadership

Frank Gladstone and Jerry Beck

Big news: ASIFA-Hollywood, the largest ASIFA chapter in the world, has chosen a new president and vice-president. Veteran artist and studio exec Frank Gladstone (above, left photo) will be taking over as president from Antran Manoogian who served in that role for over 20 years. The new vice-president is the world’s greatest Herman and Katnip expert (not to mention an editor of the site you’re reading right now) Jerry Beck. Congratulations to both Frank and Jerry!

The organization put out a press release today offering some clues about their new direction:

ASIFA-Hollywood has announced the selection of its new President, Frank Gladstone, at its February board meeting. Gladstone replaces Antran Manoogian who held the position for over 20 years.

Longtime ASIFA Hollywood vp [and TAG President Emeritus] Tom Sito chose not to run for re-election; taking his place is Jerry Beck. Also joining Gladstone as a new board officer is Jeff Wike as treasurer; Bill Turner returns as secretary.

“First and foremost, we owe Antran Manoogian an enormous amount of respect and admiration for his many years of selfless devotion to ASIFA-Hollywood,” says Gladstone. “Antran has seen the organization through a period of unparalleled growth and success, going from a small club to an organization of over 4000 members. During his stewardship, Antran established, among many achievements, a digital archive, and built the Annie Award into the most important honor in animation.”

Gladstone continued, “Though I’ve been part of ASIFA and the animation community for a long time, I am looking forward to being the ‘new face’ of the organization and to making some significant changes to the status quo. For starters, this includes updating our membership qualifications, establishing a representative voice for every animation studio and creative technique, building an advisory board of animation luminaries and revising the voting structure of the annual Annie Awards.”

In the next few weeks ASIFA-Hollywood will be holding meetings with executives from all the major studios to get their input on how we can improve our infrastructure. ASIFA-Hollywood will take this time to ask its members, both individual and corporate, to come together and advise them on how best to chart the course for decades to come. In addition they will invite many of its members to join the executive board.

Frank Gladstone has been a professional animator, producer, director, writer and teacher, first managing his own studio, and then working in management positions for Disney, Warner Bros. and DreamWorks, among others. He is currently the CEO of the animation consulting firm, Gladstone Film, teaches worldwide and is the ‘artist-in-residence’ for the ACME Network.

Eddie Brandt (1922-2011)

Animation writer, musician and most notably, movie memorabilia dealer Eddie Brandt has died. He passed away week ago Sunday, Feb. 20th, of colon cancer at age 89.

Brandt was a piano player for Spike Jones and his City Slickers, who drifted into writing animated cartoons – first for Bob Clampett on the animated Beany & Cecil cartoons, then for Hanna Barbera on Frankenstein Jr. and the Impossibles, Moby Dick and Mighty Mightor and The Catanooga Cats. He was best known for the past 44 years as the proprietor of Eddie Brandt’s Saturday Matinee, the best video store in Los Angeles (Mural, above, in front of the store by Howard Freeman). His store will live on – but he will be sorely missed.

The store sells vintage movie photos and posters, and rents videos. Brandt’s is well known to have tens of thousands of movies in stock – practically every movie in existence. Mark Evanier has a nice remembrance of Eddie on his site. TCM did this tribute (below) to his store.