Nickelodeon’s Newest Educational Preschool Hit “Team Umizoomi” Makes Its DVD Debut on June 28, 2011

They’re mini, they’re mighty and they’re built for math! Nickelodeon is bringing its hit animated preschool series that encourages tots to become strong and mighty to DVD with the debut of Team Umizoomi on June 28, 2011. The new DVD will take viewers on adventures to learn about numbers, patterns, and important early math concepts. The DVD contains four episodes, special features, a Math Mission card for on-the-go math problem solving and the guest voice of platinum-selling Jive recording artist Jordin Sparks. In addition, the DVD includes a one-year free subscription to Parents Magazine. Created by Nickelodeon Home Entertainment and distributed by Paramount Home Entertainment, the Team Umizoomi DVD will be available for the suggested retail price of $16.99.

Team Umizoomi features a tiny team of superheroes, Milli, Geo and Bot, who use their mighty math powers to help little kids solve big problems. The series combines action-adventure missions with an interactive math curriculum designed to help kids develop self-confidence in their math abilities and appreciate the many ways in which math shapes their world. The Umi Team is not complete without their Umi Friends (home viewers), who help the team along the way while practicing various math skills. Set to a soundtrack of preschool-friendly pop songs, the series is designed to build upon preschoolers’ conceptual understanding of math as they are exposed to core mathematical concepts like numbers, counting, computations, measurement, patterns and shapes.

Team Umizoomi Episode Synopses

The Rolling Toy Parade – Nick has been picked to lead the Rolling Toy Parade going through Umi City. As he proudly makes his way to the Park, his lion toy tumbles down a hill, breaks apart and is foraged by park animals! Team Umizoomi must decode Mr. Squirrel’s doorbell pattern, search his tree trunk burrow for the missing wheels, embark on a high altitude chase with Mama Hawk and teach the Baby Hawks how to braid a pull string.

The Legend of the Blue Mermaid – Team Umizoomi discovers the statue of the Blue Mermaid (Jordin Sparks) while visiting the beach. According to legend, the mermaid with her sparkly blue scales once lived happily in the water by Umi City. But one day, a scheming squid named Squiddy captured the mermaid so that he could keep her sparkling light all to himself. The team must count, recognize shapes and identify patterns in order to rescue the Blue Mermaid from Squiddy’s secret sand castle. It won’t be an easy task as Squiddy will stop at nothing to keep Team Umizoomi from using their mighty math powers to save the day.

Kite Festival – Today is the Umi City Kite Festival and Jeannie is ready to fly her beautiful dragon kite. Out of nowhere, a strong gust of wind blows the kite out of her hands and scatters its colorful shaped pieces throughout Umi City. Luckily, Geo is a shape expert and the Team is positive they can find all the missing pieces. They rappel down city billboards, build a hot air balloon and search the tops of skyscrapers. Can they get Jeannie’s Dragon kite back together in time for the Festival?

Wild West Toy Train Show – Geo can’t wait to meet his friend Ethan at The Smokey Mountain Toy Train Show and see all the cool trains! As he gets ready to leave the Secret Headquarters, the Umi-Alarm sounds. Ethan’s golden ticket for the show has blown into the exhibit and landed somewhere at the top of Smokey Mountain! Team Umizoomi springs into action and hops a ride on the toy trains to the top of Smokey Mountain. Along the way, they use their math powers to get through Crystal Cave, cross Rumble Bridge, pan for gold and build a new engine with Geo’s super shapes.

Team Umizoomi Fast Facts:

  • Street Date: June 28, 2011
  • Catalogue: 821784
  • DVD SRP: $16.99
  • DVD Running Time: 95 Minutes
  • Special Features:
  • The Blue Mermaid Shapes Under the Sea Game
  • Team Umizoomi Videos
  • Meet Geo
  • Meet Milli
  • Meet Bot

“Mars Needs Moms” Coming to DVD and Blu-ray

This Fall, families will not want to miss the chance to own Mars Needs Moms, the story of a young boy‘s intergalactic adventure to find his Martian-nabbed mother as it arrives into living rooms across the country in a Blu-rayâ„¢ Combo Pack with 3D, DVD, Movie Download and On-Demand August 9, 2011. From Disney and Academy Award®-winner Robert Zemeckis (Best Director, Forrest Gump, 1994), comes the craziest adventure in the galaxy– complete with out-of this world special effects and jam packed with bonus features, it‘s a thrilling journey that‘s pure fun.

Uniquely packaged with families top of mind, Mars Needs Moms will be available for purchase as a 4-Disc Blu-ray Combo Pack (Blu-ray 3Dâ„¢ + Blu-ray 2D + DVD + Digital Copy) for the suggested retail price of $49.99 US/ $56.99 Canada; a 2-Disc Blu-ray Combo Pack (Blu-ray 2D + DVD) for $39.99 US/ $46.99 Canada; a 1-Disc DVD for $29.99 US/ $35.99 Canada; a High Definition Movie Download for the suggested retail price of $39.99 U.S./45.99 Canada; a Standard Definition Movie Download for the suggested retail price of $29.99 U.S./$35.99 Canada; and/or On-Demand (for additional information and pricing, please contact your television provider or favorite digital retailer. Bonus features are not offered with On-Demand).

The Disney Blu-ray Combo Packs provide families with an enhanced entertainment experience — offering the flexibility to enjoy the film at home, in the car and on portable devices, in several platforms of choice (i.e., Blu-ray 3D, Blu-ray 2D, DVD + Digital Copy) and comes packaged complete with never-before-scene bonus features, including deleted scenes, a special featurette and more. To learn more, fans are invited to visit

Mars Needs Moms is brought to life by the performances of Seth Green (TV‘s Family Guy) as Milo, Joan Cusack (Toy Story 2 & 3) as Milo‘s Mom, Dan Fogler (Kung Fu Panda, Robot Chicken) as Gribble and Elizabeth Harnois (A Single Man, TV‘s 90210) as Ki and is directed by Simon Wells (The Time Machine, The Prince of Egypt) and produced by Robert Zemeckis (Disney‘s A Christmas Carol, Forrest Gump).

Ottawa International Animation Festival Deadline Approaches!

North America’s largest animation event, the Ottawa International Animation Festival (OIAF) is reminding the animation community to get their work in before it’s too late. Entry forms must be submitted online by May 20th, and preview DVDs are due by June 3rd. There is no entry fee.

This year’s event takes place September 21st to 25th and promises to turn Canada’s capital into the center of the animation universe. The Festival showcases the best new animation from around the world in six major categories including Independent Short films, Feature films, New Media, Commissioned films (TV series, commercials, music videos etc), Student films and Work Made for Children.

In addition to the Competition screenings, the 2011, event the Festival pays tribute to the bizarre, funny, angry, scary, and confusing worlds of Gil Alkabetz, Mati Kütt, and Aaron Augenblick. Honorary president, the NFB’s David Verrall gives us Ten Reasons to Love Animation. John Canemaker takes us through the art of Joe Ranft and Joe Grant, while Jerry Beck invites us to join the Cartoon Fight Club. Plus, the Festival will dig into animation in Hip-Hop Culture and have a look at our relationship with Food. Hungry yet? Additional screenings will be announced in the near future.

For more information about this year’s Festival, as well as the online entry form, visit the OIAF website at Questions about submitting a film may be sent to [email protected] or made by telephone at 613-232-8769.

UCLA Film and Television Archive to Showcase Several Rare Short Films as Part of “Celebrating Orphan Films” Series

UCLA Film & Television Archive is pleased to partner with Los Angeles Filmforum and New York University’s Orphan Film Symposium to present an eclectic mix of screenings and discussions at the Billy Wilder Theater.

The Orphan Film Project consists of ongoing collaborations among archivists, lab and technology experts, scholars, filmmakers, curators and collectors with a shared passion for saving and screening neglected films from outside the commercial mainstream: home movies, outtakes, news film, sponsored works, silent-era cinema, fragments and experimental films.

Join archivists, film historians, artists, technical experts and scholars as they discuss their efforts in finding, researching and presenting these rare gems.

Single $10 pass admits to all screenings:

Screenings include:

[Animated TV station ID reel] (TV Graphics Inc, early 1960s) – 2mim – 16mm Demo reel of Mad Men-era, mid-century modern broadcast ephemera by TV Graphics Inc., an advertising company owned by Disney artist Mary Blair’s husband, Lee Blair; featuring the work of Lee’s brother, animator Preston Blair.

[Meadow Gold TV spots] (Mary Blair, TV Graphics, Inc., mid-1950s] 2mim — 16mm Charming commercial animation featuring characters from Blair’s award-winning Little Golden Book, I Can Fly, first published in 1951. From UCLA Film & Television Archive

[Robert Abel Promo Reel; includes 7-Up “bubbles ad”] (ca. 1974) 8 min — 35mm This 35mm promotional reel highlights the work of pioneering visual effects firm Robert Abel & Associates, and includes the iconic, award-winning 7-Up television advertisement “Bubbles.”

[Designed by Saul Bass: The Alcoa Account] Noted as a pioneer of distinctive credit sequences and posters for Hollywood feature films, Saul Bass’ equally intriguing modernist television work is much less well-known. Some of these broadcast works, including title sequences and commercials for the Aluminum Corporation of America, reveal that Bass was not only a student of artist, designer, and theorist György Kepes, but also of filmmaker Sergei Eisenstein, the father of montage. Presented by Jan-Christopher Horak, Director, UCLA Film & Television Archive.

+ UFOs (Lillian Schwartz and Ken Knowlton, 1971) and Galaxies (Lillian Schwartz, 1974). “Lillian Schwartz is best known for her pioneering work in the use of computers for what has since become known as computer-generated art and computer-aided art analysis, including graphics, film, video, animation, special effects, Virtual Reality and Multimedia. Her work was recognized for its aesthetic success and was the first in this medium to be acquired by The Museum of Modern Art.”

+ Rain Dance – After Hurricane Katrina floods devastated the New Orleans home of filmmaker Helen Hill and her husband Paul Gailiunas, all that remained of this animated student film was a 16mm work print with no soundtrack. The first of three films she made while an undergraduate at Harvard, RAIN DANCE shows Hill’s fondness for the cut-out animation style of Lotte Reiniger. After her death in 2007, Colorlab and Harvard Film Archive made possible the immediate preservation of nine of her works. At BB Optics, Bill Brand and NYU MIAP students worked with Gailiunas to reconstruct the film and its lost soundtrack.

+ Fast Fax (1997-98) Animator Helen Hill made these witty whimsical micro-interstitials (of 3 to 15 seconds duration) for the Canadian Broadcast Corporation’s educational TV series Street Sense. Thanks to the research of NYU student Jim Bittl, the original CBC broadcast masters were preserved in 2010 and copies deposited with the Helen Hill Collection, Harvard Film Archive.

Bob Jaroc Creates a Different Sort of TV Animation

Bob Jaroc‘s video for Black Moth Super Rainbow’s “The Sticky” was made by “modding a bunch of old b&w TVs, playing the separate parts from the track through them and taping the results,” plus some After Effects. Some readers on Boing Boing have pointed out that the circuit bending technique that Jaroc used is a variation of the Wobble Vision technique. Whatever Jaroc did, the results are mesmerizing.

MTV ID “Balloons”

Dilcidio Caldeira at Paranoid in Sao Paulo directed this one minute station ID for MTV Brazil using images drawn on hundreds of balloons. They were popped by a needle-tipped camera, mounted on a dolly which traveled at a speed fast enough to pop and film 10 balloons each second.

Production: Paranoid
Director: Duldicio Caldeira
Photography: Alexandre Ermel
Animation/Illustration: Daniel Semanas
Sound Track: Hilton Raw

(Thanks, Kent Osborne and Grey Wears)

Classic Media’s retro-cartoon channel: PB&J

Kidscreen is reporting that Luken Communications, the owner of broadcast channel Retro TV (which currently airs much of the Filmation cartoon library), is partnering with Classic Media to create a new retro-style cartoon network called PB&J. According to the press release:

The 24-hour network, set to launch in the US this summer, will feature Classic Media titles from the 1950s, ‘60s, ‘70s and ‘80s. Those include The Archie’s, Mr. Magoo, The Lone Ranger, Gumby and Fat Albert and the Cosby Kids. PBJ will be available to broadcasters, cable and satellite providers.

If they have the Classic Media library, this new channel could also air the Harveytoons (Casper, Herman and Katnip, et al), the Jay Ward library (Rocky and Bullwinkle, Dudley Do-Right, etc.), Roger Ramjet, Underdog, Felix the Cat, Rankin-Bass Specials, UPA’s Boing Boing Show, Dick Tracy cartoons and Magoo’s Christmas Carol – among others…

I admit it – I would love to program a channel like this. A retro-cartoon channel is very much needed, and Classic Media has amassed an impressive collection of vintage properties. As the basis for such a channel, I dare say they have more potential than the material endlessly rerun on Turner’s tired Boomerang network. And with all the possibilities of future acquisitions (Universal’s Woody Woodpecker Walter Lantz library, Viacom’s Terrytoon collection, Beany and Cecil, and on and on…) this could be a dream come true. If anyone from Luken Communications is reading this, gimme a call…

UPDATE – Reader Steve Cook found a promo for the new channel on You Tube:

First Look At PIXAR’s “La Luna” Short Film

PIXAR has released the synopsis and a still from the upcoming short film La Luna, which will premiere at the Annecy International Animation Festival the first weekend in June.

La Luna is the timeless fable of a young boy who is coming of age in the most peculiar of circumstances. Tonight is the very first time his Papa and Grandpa are taking him to work. In an old wooden boat they row far out to sea, and with no land in sight, they stop and wait.  A big surprise awaits the little boy as he discovers his family’s most unusual line of work. Should he follow the example of his Papa, or his Grandpa? Will he be able to find his own way in the midst of their conflicting opinions and timeworn traditions?

Long-time PIXAR staffer Enrico Casarosa is serving as both director and Head of Story, and previously worked on Cars, Ratatouille and Up.

Calabash Animation Does Key Sequences to Kareem Abdul-Jabbar’s “On The Shoulder of Giants”

On The Shoulders of Giants is a new documentary that looks the history of professional basketball through the prism of the Harlem Rens, a pioneering basketball team from the late 1930s, and features three key animated sequences created by Calabash Animation. The film recently had premieres in New York, Chicago and Los Angeles and is currently airing on pay-per-view in select markets.

“The producers wanted this film to be graphically strong,” says Sean Henry, Calabash Animation Executive Producer. “There is literally no film footage of any of these major championship games, and although their historical importance is significant, they barely got a footnote in the newspapers of the time. Our goal was to provide visuals that would fit the story and the setting and the mood of the film. A large percentage of our time was spent just developing the style of the animation.

On The Shoulders of Giants honors the greatest basketball team you’ve never heard of — a group of sports pioneers who have been all but forgotten to time, and it celebrates the legacy of a magical game. It tells the story of Bob Douglas, who loved the new sport of basketball and was determined to make it profitable. To do this, he would not only have to fight for the game itself, but against the rampant racism that was determined to see him fail. His team, the New York Renaissance Big Five, affectionately known as the Harlem Rens, became the embodiment of a new attitude among African Americans who fought to be recognized for their abilities rather than for the color of their skin. They were the precursors to those brave men and women who, twenty years later, would found the Civil Rights Movement.

The look Calabash developed has a dynamic, high end feel, but avoids anything overly cartoony or silly. The style takes is cues from the distinct look of urban artist Justin Bua, who contributed original art to the film.

“We weren’t trying to copy him exactly, but be in keeping with his overall sensibility and style,” Calabash animator Eric Meister adds.

For the Calabash creative team, the ultimate challenge was to find a way to depict these games and their intensity through animation.

“It is not easy to capture the physical nature and beauty of the game of basketball in animation,” Henry notes. “In the end we decided not to try to perfectly simulate the action of the game, but rather to tell the story with visuals that complimented the narrative.”

Arc Promotes Jeff Young to President and COO

Arc Productions, recently acquired by a Canadian ownership group from Starz Media US, is reshaping the studio management team. After four and a half years as Executive Vice President and Head of Studio, David Steinberg is leaving Arc Productions to pursue the creative development of his own projects. The new management restructuring will include the appointment of Jeff Young as President and C.O.O.

Under Steinberg’s stewardship the company became a major global force in the animation and visual effects sector. Steinberg oversaw the production of 5 feature films in five years – most notably the recent smash success Gnomeo & Juliet.

“I am very proud of what we have built and all that we have accomplished together in my time here,” said Steinberg. “I will personally miss the incredible group of talent that I’ve had the privilege to assemble and work with so closely every day, and I wish them and the studio the very best of luck.”

“The purchase of Arc from Starz and the development of an aggressive growth strategy as a Canadian owned company has required us to cope with many changes,” said Tom Murray, Partner and Co-CEO. Chief among the changes is the promotion of Young. The opportunities are tremendous and we are happy to see Jeff assume more responsibility.”

Young added, “Gnomeo & Juliet‘s recent box office success solidified Arc as a major presence in the animation industry. The latest reviews for Camelot clearly show the company’s emergence as a force in the VFX world. I am excited to lead an organization comprised of such worldclass talent both in animation and visual effects. Our goal is to expand the company aggressively with a clear focus on innovative deal making and partnerships. We will certainly be active in the marketplace.”

In addition to Young’s appointment, Murray also confirmed the addition of Peter Kozik to the Arc team as Vice President Finance. A former Price Waterhouse Cooper Senior Manager, Kozik will report to Young and assume senior financial management responsibilities.

“Pure Funk” by Marc Adamson

Pure Funk is Marc Adamson’s graduation film, from his third year of animation at the Arts University College at Bournemouth. It’s a 3-minute mixed 2D/3D animation set in a version of the future when the world is ruled by an oppressive dictatorship and music has become illegal. The film took almost a year from the idea to completion. More production information and a gallery of pre-viz art at Freedom to

“Generator Rex” Video Game Coming This Fall To All Major Game Systems

Activision Publishing, Inc. (Nasdaq: ATVI) and Cartoon Network Enterprises announced today that Generator Rex: Agent of Providence will be available for Nintendo DS™, the Nintendo 3DS™ system, Wii™ from Nintendo, PlayStation®3 computer entertainment system, and the Xbox 360® video game and entertainment system from Microsoft this October.

Generator Rex embodies the best of boys’ action: a conflict-driven storyline, aspirational characters and an arsenal of cool weapons and vehicles,” said Pete Yoder, Vice President, U.S. Consumer Products, Cartoon Network Enterprises. “Activision’s Generator Rex: Agent of Providence captures this non-stop excitement and is the perfect title to extend the brand to the vital interactive market.”

“This is a property tailor made for video games,” said David Oxford, Activision Publishing. “We look forward to unleashing Rex’s powers in a way that fans of the show will love.”

Based on Cartoon Network’s top-rated animated series, the Generator Rex: Agent of Providence video game lets players take control of Rex, a teenager who has harnessed nanites within his body to become the ultimate weapon. In the game, Rex is in a race against time to prevent Van Kleissand his minions from gaining unprecedented powers that could destroy the earth!

Villains, known as E.V.O.s (Exponentially Variegated Organisms), are infected with “nanites” which mutate their hosts into malicious beasts. An organization named Providence was created to combat these villains with Rex’s help. Players will fight through the depths of the jungle, the scorching deserts, and the heart of metropolitan cities, while on the lookout for blueprints to create bigger and better weapons to use in combat against the increasing power of the E.V.O.s.

This game is not yet rated by the ESRB. For more information, please visit and

Hugh Grant To Voice Lead Role in Aardman’s “The Pirates! Band of Misfits”

Hugh Grant will voice the lead role alongside an all-star cast in The Pirates! Band of Misfits, the new stop-motion, 3D, animated film produced by Aardman Animations for Sony Pictures Animation. The film, which will be distributed by Columbia Pictures, will be released March 30, 2012 in North America.

Hugh Grant, starring in his first animated role, is the luxuriantly bearded Pirate Captain – a boundlessly enthusiastic, if somewhat less-than-successful, terror of the High Seas. With a rag-tag crew at his side (Martin Freeman, Brendan Gleeson, Russell Tovey, and Ashley Jensen), and seemingly blind to the impossible odds stacked against him, the Captain has one dream: to beat his bitter rivals Black Bellamy (Jeremy Piven) and Cutlass Liz (Salma Hayek) to the much coveted Pirate Of The Year Award. It’s a quest that takes our heroes from the shores of exotic Blood Island to the foggy streets of Victorian London. Along the way they battle a diabolical queen (Imelda Staunton) and team up with a haplessly smitten young scientist (David Tennant), but never lose sight of what a pirate loves best: adventure!

The Pirates! Band of Misfits, Aardman’s most ambitious stop-motion film to date, will be created with the same beautiful hand-crafted technique that the company brought to the Academy Award®-winning film Wallace and Gromit: The Curse ofthe Were-Rabbit and Chicken Run. The film is directed by Peter Lord, a founding partner of Aardman, director of Chicken Run (with Nick Park), and a two-time Academy Award® nominee for his short films at the company. The film is co-directed by Jeff Newitt. The screenplay is by Gideon Defoe, based upon his books. Production Designer is Norman Garwood. Producers are Peter Lord, David Sproxton, and Julie Lockhart. Executive Producer is Carla Shelley.

Commenting on the announcement, Lord said, “I’m so grateful to the entire cast for their talent and energy. The characters that they’ve created fill the screen with life and fun. As the Pirate Captain, Hugh Grant has given a stand-out performance – he combines an effortless on-screen warmth with brilliant comic timing. And as the leader of our motley pirate crew, he shows a real barnstorming, swashbuckling side of his character as well. Only Hugh could anchor this story of love, loyalty, greed, and nautical high-jinks.”

“Trigun: Badlands Rumble” Anime Set For US Release This Summer from ELEVEN ARTS and FUNimation

ELEVEN ARTS and FUNimation Entertainment are bringing the feature length followup film to the popular Trigun anime series, Trigun: Badlands Rumble, to the big screen in theaters across North America in Summer 2011.

ELEVEN ARTS is the company that has brought you such celebrated Japanese films as Memories of Tomorrow starring Ken Watanabe and Yoji Yamada’s Love And Honor. FUNimation Entertainment is known for releasing quality anime titles to the American market, and they have released such popular titles as Dragon Ball and Full Metal Alchemist.

- About Trigun -

Trigun popular sci-fi action anime series with the original storyline created by Yasuhiro Naito. The setting takes place in a remote planet of the near future. It portrays the life and actions of a wanted man named Vash, an extreme pacifist by nature bizarrely nicknamed as the “human typhoon”. Yasuhiro Naito’s work was adapted into an animated TV series in 1998, and gained massive support throughout the world despite being aired at midnight. Fighting scenes filled with action and meticulous designing captivated the audience. Production was done by Madhouse, which also worked on Naruto animated films, Death Note TV series, and Summer Wars.

Story and designs have been renovated for this animated film, so that not only fans, but people who haven’t read the original manga or seen the animated TV series could enjoy the work.

The animated film Trigun: Badlands Rumble debuted on April 24th 2010 in Japan, and became a long running hit movie. The film was third on the Pia satisfaction ranking of movies released on April 24th 2010 and has screened worldwide.

Turner Broadcasting to launch UK Preschool Channel Cartoonito across Europe, Middle East & Africa

Turner Broadcasting has announced it will rollout its UK preschool channel Cartoonito across Europe, the Middle East and Africa, increasing the brand’s distribution to 125 million homes in 112 territories.

Cartoonito launched in the UK in May 2007 and since its debut has become the UK’s most widely distributed pay TV preschool channel, airing a raft of popular preschool programming including Fireman Sam, Baby Looney Tunes and the Care Bears.

Cartoonito will roll out across a number of EMEA territories as a branded block on Boomerang in September of this year, and is set to become an exciting new destination for preschoolers aged three to six and their parents.  In Turkey and the Middle East, the Cartoonito block will broadcast on Cartoon Network.

Launching with a slate of strong and varied content, Turner Broadcasting has picked up the new series of Bananas in Pyjamas as one of its flagship debut shows.  Produced by Southern Star Entertainment/Southern Star Singapore (a division of Endemol Group) in association with the Australian Broadcasting Corporation, the well-known series has a much-loved heritage and a quirky feel that will fit aptly with the channel’s vibrant and imaginative brand attributes.  Bananas in Pyjamas is one of a number of high profile deal signings by the broadcaster.

Also forming part of the debut line up will be Jelly Jamm, an exciting new 3D animated series, co-produced by Spanish indies Vodka Capital, 737 Shaker and RTVE (Radio Television Española).  A number of additional pan-EMEA preschool series are expected to be unveiled for 2012 in the coming months.

Turner Broadcasting’s consolidated expansion into preschool signals an exciting new phase for its kids’ channels portfolio, with Cartoonito providing a stepping stone for preschoolers to its well-known Boomerang and Cartoon Network brands.

Michael Carrington, Chief Content Officer, Turner Broadcasting said: “We’re incredibly excited to be making such a big splash in the preschool market, with a full scale rollout of Cartoonito across EMEA.  Whilst Controller of CBeebies, I’d always admired Cartoonito from afar, and having the opportunity to extend this wonderful preschool brand across EMEA was one I couldn’t resist.  Building on the success of the UK channel, and with two fantastic launch shows at the helm – Bananas in Pyjamas and Jelly Jamm – Cartoonito is set to delight audiences across EMEA as a hub of fun, funny and imaginative entertainment for preschoolers and their parents.”

The Cartoonito block will be a clearly signposted place where preschoolers and their parents can watch some of the best preschool content currently available, made up of flagship programming airing in all territories across EMEA and locally produced content.  The model will mirror that of Cartoonito in the UK, which has had success with locally produced content including Go and Be a Grown Up and Cartoonito Karaoke.

Also making the leap to Cartoonito across EMEA will be the Cartoonitos, the six cute animated character shapes which introduce shows in the continuity breaks, called Lolly, Bubble, Cuba, Spike, Ting and Ringo.  As the familiar faces of the channel, the Cartoonitos bring Cartoonito its unique and identifiable personality.

The internationally renowned pre-school series Bananas in Pyjamas is a colourful new CGI animated series.  New stories, new laughs and new songs will delight audiences everywhere as those loveable pyjama wearing bananas, B1 and B2, their adorable friends the Teddies and the ever mischievous Rat, romp their way through the magical world of Cuddlestown.  There are some new friends to meet too; Topsy the cheeky kangaroo, Charlie the inventive monkey, Pedro the carefree pig and Bernard, the wise old dog.

Cathy Payne, Chief Executive, Endemol Worldwide Distribution adds: ‘We are very excited that Bananas in Pyjamas will be one of the flagship launch series for Cartoonito in the EMEA.  The original series has been hugely popular around the world and now with the expansion of Cartoonito, the new animated series will entertain and delight children throughout these territories’

Jelly Jamm is a comedy series which celebrates music and friendship, and follows the adventures of five friends who live on a magical planet called Jammbo.  Bello and his friends Rita, Goomo, Mina and Ongo are the quintet of cute characters who, through their comedic adventures, learn to live in harmony with each other on the wonderful musical planet Jammbo.

DIRECTV Adds ShortsHD to Channel Line-Up

DIRECTV this morning added Shorts HD, which will be included in the satcaster’s $4.99 a month ‘HD Extra Pack’ package.

The addition of Shorts HD has been expected for several days. During the past week, Shorts HD has been added to DIRECTV’s channel 568 in several online programming guide, such as Sometimes, a TV provider will tip its hand by including a new channel in a programming guide prior to its actual launch.

The DIRECTV Extra Pack now includes nine channels: Shorts HD, Hallmark Movie Channel HD; HDNet Movies; MGM Movies; Sony Movie Channel HD; Crime & Investigation HD; Universal HD; Palladia HD; and Smithsonian HD.

Shorts HD is dedicated to short movies, both live action and animated.

Comedy Central Launches Facebook 50-Day Countdown to “Futurama” Season Premiere

COMEDY CENTRAL is taking Futurama fans on a 50 day multi-platform journey leading up to the season premiere on Thursday, June 23 at 10 p.m. The “Countdown To ‘Futurama’” launches on Facebook on Wednesday, May 4 — every day for 50 days, the network will release a new piece of exclusive content including preview clips, character designs, episode stills, story boards and much more. For the kick-off, COMEDY CENTRAL will post a sneak peek clip from the season premiere episode. Futurama‘s Facebook page has over 12 million fans and ranks among the Top 5 animated television show pages.

In addition to Facebook, COMEDY CENTRAL will feature the “Countdown To ‘Futurama’” on-air and online, including a daily feature on CC Insider, the COMEDY CENTRAL blog and on mobile with SMS messaging.

Futurama focuses on the life of Philip Fry (Billy West), a 25-year-old pizza delivery boy who accidentally freezes himself on December 31, 1999 and wakes up 1,000 years later with a fresh start at life and a “diverse” new group of friends including Leela (Katey Sagal), a tough but lovely one-eyed alien and Bender (John DiMaggio), a robot who possesses human characteristics and flaws. The series aired for five seasons on Fox (1999 to 2003) earning Emmy® nominations each season while winning three times, including “Outstanding Animated Program” in 2002.

Classy Promo for Chilevisión by Juan Delcan

It’s a gutsy move for any TV network to promote itself nowadays with a 90-second animated piece, especially one that’s as visually sophisticated as this Chilevisión spot directed by Nola Pictures’ Juan Delcan. The Chilean network wanted to promote “the channel’s approach of respecting all people, without judgment and reporting clear unbiased truth.” Here’s a version with English subtitles.

Production Company: Nola Pictures
Director: Juan Delcan
Design & Animation: Juan Delcan, Arthur Metcalf, Peter Ahern, Toni Tysen, Celia Bullwinkel, Jake Armstrong
EPs: Charlie Curran, Ximena Cano
Producer: JJ Wilmoth
Agency: 180 Grados, Chile
Creative Directors: Sergio Gamboa, Joacim Montaner

“Drop’d” by Manny Hernandez

Another impressive outing by a CalArts student: Drop’d is second-year effort by Manny Hernandez. One of the big reasons I’ve been so impressed with the CalArts Character Animation shorts in recent years has been the general shift towards simpler character design styles in which the students emphasize animation over design. This film is a terrific example of that.

“Fot and Angus” by Alex Dron

Here’s something you probably won’t see on Cartoon Network. FOT and Angus are part of a live action/animation skitshow in New Zealand. Alex Dron is their creator – he’s an animation director at Yukfoo Animation in Auckland. Dron has just put eight episodes of FOT and Angus online for the rest of the world to see. It’s voiced by Rhys Darby and co-written by Karl Wills (animated Kaz’ Underground). Here’s a taste:

Focus Features & Laika announce “Paranorman”

Focus Features and LAIKA, the two companies behind the Academy Award-nominated animated feature Coraline are reteaming for LAIKA’s next two projects. The first of the duo, ParaNorman, will be released nationwide on August 17th, 2012. The second, yet-to-be-named, picture will be released nationwide in 2014. Following the groundbreaking Coraline, ParaNorman is only the second stop-motion animated feature to be made in 3D. Focus CEO James Schamus and LAIKA President and CEO Travis Knight made the announcement today.

As on Coraline, Focus will hold worldwide distribution rights to the movies, and Universal Pictures International will release them overseas. Coraline is Focus’ second-highest-grossing movie of all time, with over $75 million domestically. The picture earned Golden Globe, BAFTA, Critics’ Choice, and Academy Award nominations for Best Animated Feature Film; and was named one of the year’s 10 Best Films by the American Film Institute (AFI) with an AFI Award.

Currently in production, ParaNorman is being directed by Sam Fell and Chris Butler, from Mr. Butler’s original screenplay. Mr. Fell was director of The Tale of Despereaux and Flushed Away. Mr. Butler was storyboard supervisor on Coraline and storyboard artist on Tim Burton’s Corpse Bride. The voice cast includes Academy Award nominee Casey Affleck (The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford), Tempestt Bledsoe (The Cosby Show), Jeff Garlin (Toy Story 3), John Goodman (Monsters, Inc.), Bernard Hill (Titanic), Academy Award nominee Anna Kendrick (Up in the Air), Leslie Mann (Rio), Christopher Mintz-Plasse (How to Train Your Dragon), Kodi Smit-McPhee (Let Me In), and Tony and Emmy Award winner Elaine Stritch (30 Rock).

In the comedy thriller, a small town comes under siege by zombies. Who can it call? Only misunderstood local boy Norman (voiced by Mr. McPhee), who is able to speak with the dead. In addition to the zombies, he’ll have to take on ghosts, witches and, worst of all, moronic grown-ups, to save his town from a centuries-old curse. But this young ghoul whisperer may find his paranormal activities pushed to their otherworldly limits.

Arianne Sutner, animation producer on The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou, and Travis Knight are producing ParaNorman. Academy Award winner Brian Van’t Hul (King Kong, Coraline) is the movie’s visual effects supervisor; Emmy Award winner Nelson Lowry (Fantastic Mr. Fox, Tim Burton’s Corpse Bride) is its production designer; and Tristan Oliver (Fantastic Mr. Fox, the Academy Award-winning Wallace & Gromit in The Curse of the Were-Rabbit) is the director of photography on ParaNorman.

Mr. Schamus commented, “Everyone at Focus is proud to be partnered with LAIKA again on their newest wondrous creations. Travis Knight is both an extraordinary businessman and a visionary artist who we know will shepherd these projects with imagination and originality. We’re thrilled to have ParaNorman as our next movie together, one which marries the stunning visuals of 3D stop-motion with a compelling, heartfelt, and funny story anchored by a terrifically relatable underdog hero.”

Mr. Knight added, “ParaNorman is a story of intense beauty and emotional truth. It’s audacious, has genuine heart, and is funny as hell. We’re incredibly excited to share this wonderful story with the world. And we’re privileged to work again with Focus Features, with whom we share a commitment to bold, distinctive, and enduring films. LAIKA and Focus are truly kindred spirits. James Schamus and his extraordinary team have built their reputation on original thinking, old-fashioned muscle, and an unerring fidelity to creatively rich and thematically challenging cinema. We’re thrilled to extend the relationship that began with Coraline and look forward to being a part of the Focus/Universal family for years to come.”