“The Exhibitionist” by Mark and Kent Osborne

Visiting a museum on a weekend is a great thing to do. And thanks to brothers Mark Osborne (More and Kung Fu Panda) and Kent Osborne (Adventure Time, Spongebob Squarepants) you can do so in less than five minutes. Created in an improvisational fashion during three days at the museum, this pixilated short takes a journey through Los Angeles’ Museum of Contemporary Art (MOCA), through its current exhibition Art in the Streets with works by Banksy, Rammellzee and Kenny Scharf.

Nickelodeon Greenlights Third Season of “T.U.F.F. Puppy”

Burbank, Calif., July 29, 2011 — Nickelodeon, the number-one kids’ brand and largest producer of television animation in the world, has picked up a third season of T.U.F.F. Puppy, the newest hit animated series from Nicktoon hit-maker Butch Hartman (The Fairly OddParents), it was announced today by Brown Johnson, President, Animation, Nickelodeon and MTVN Kids and Family Group. The network is adding 20 episodes to the series, bringing the total number to 60. T.U.F.F. Puppy, starring iCarly’s Jerry Trainor as Dudley, currently ranks as the number-two animated program with kids 2-11, only behind SpongeBob SquarePants.

“Currently our second highest rated animated series, T.U.F.F. Puppy has been a huge success on Saturday mornings right out of the gate, which is no surprise coming from the incredibly talented Butch Hartman, the only creator at Nick with three shows under his belt — The Fairly OddParents, Danny Phantom and now T.U.F.F. Puppy,” said Johnson. “The show is laugh-out-loud funny in no small part due to iCarly’s Jerry Trainor, who brings his incredible comedic sensibility to the role.”

“I am truly thrilled to be able to make a brand-new litter of T.U.F.F. Puppy episodes,” said Butch Hartman. “I love working on the show and I’m looking forward to expanding the world of Dudley Puppy with more villains, more gadgets, and even some surprises from Dudley and Kitty’s past.”

A hit since its October 2010 premiere, T.U.F.F. Puppy ranks as the number-two animated program on television with kids 2-11 (behind only SpongeBob SquarePants) year to date. The series currently averages 3.6 million total viewers (source: Nielsen Media Research, Live + 7 Day data 12/27/10-6/19/11, Live + Same Day data thru 7/3/11).

T.U.F.F. Puppy will be launching internationally on Nickelodeon Australia later this month with all other international channels premiering the series in August.

RealD Shares Plunge

Animation Block Party

Cartoon Brew readers might have seen this coming a mile away, but not Wall Street. The business world is finally realizing that 3-D may not be the revolution that Hollywood’s snake oil salesmen promised it would be. Yesterday, shares in 3-D technology licensor provider RealD sank nearly 16% to $15.48. It’s significant because this is the first time the stock is trading below its 2010 IPO price of $16 a share. The stock was trading at over $35 just two months ago.

The stock plunged following the company’s first quarter report which topped analysts’ expectations but fell short of estimates on Wall Street. Analysts have already begun asking whether it’s game over for 3-D.

Another big loser in the film technology arena this week was IMAX. Its shares slipped 6% yesterday to under $19. IMAX’s stock is down a whopping 41% in the month of July, though some analysts are still bullish on the company’s future.

The problem with RealD’s approach (as well as IMAX’s to some extent) is that it up-sells movies without adding significant value to the experience. I’ve seen 3-D films only a handful of times and I’d be hard-pressed to recall which films they were, much less point out a moment where the 3-D made the film richer or more fulfilling.

Duopoly announces U.S. launch of “The Very Good Adventures of Yam Roll in Happy Kingdom” on Hulu

NEW YORK, July 18, 2011 — Duopoly announces the U.S. launch of the delightful animated family comedy series The Very Good Adventures of Yam Roll in Happy Kingdom, now streaming on the free, ad-supported Hulu.com and the Hulu Plus subscription service at www.hulu.com/yam-roll.

Produced by March Entertainment for Canada’s CBC and the Cartoon Network in the US, the series premiered in 2006 and continues to air on the CBC’s Saturday morning kids’ block as well as Australia’s ABC2 and HBO Asia, garnering a large and enthusiastic following through a combination of broadcast play, film festivals, and its dynamic fan website www.yamroll.com.

Yam Roll (39 x 11 min episodes and 39 x 3 min shorts) takes audiences to an exotic land of anthropomorphic sushi and tells the story of how one of its inhabitants, a super-powered taxi driver named Yam Roll, braves monsters, bad guys, and barking dogs all in the name of unrequited love. Despite being well liked in Happy Kingdom due to his good nature and sweet, root-vegetable flavoring, Yam Roll is still a frustrated guy. Why? Because he is hopelessly in love with the town sweetheart, a spicy tuna roll named Minamiko. With the help of his wise Zen master, Katcho Miso (an old lump of salty bean paste), his sidekick and best friend Ebi-san (a severely hyperactive shrimp,) and the rest of his motley maritime crew, Yam Roll’s life is always an exciting ride.

Yam Roll is co-created and penned by the ingenious Jono Howard (of Ed, Edd, ‘n’ Eddy fame) and the talented artist and animator Jon Izen (Pet Squad) who also serves as Yam Roll’s director.

“Yam Roll is an irresistible character and his unrequited love for a tuna roll named Minamiko is one of the great cartoon romances,” said Catherine Tait, President of Duopoly. “The unique designs by Jon Izen and the offbeat yet charming characters who occupy Yam Roll’s Happy Kingdom make this series a truly undiscovered gem.”

Disney Jr.’s “Jake and the Never Land Pirates” 1st Soundtrack & DVD in Sept 2011

BURBANK, CA, July 28, 2011 — A new soundtrack and DVD inspired by Disney Junior‘s #1 series Jake and the Never Land Pirates, are planned to set sail this September with Walt Disney Records’ album release of eighteen hook-filled songs from the series on September 20 and The Walt Disney Studios Jake and the Never Land Pirates: Yo Ho, Mateys Away! DVD release featuring seven episodes from the series on September 27.

Jake and the Never Land Piratesis cable’s #1 series among Boys 2-5 and is on track to be Disney Channel’s #1 preschool series ever. It is the most co-viewed series among all Disney Junior and Nickelodeon series, with 47% of Moms watching with their preschooler. A music-filled interactive treasure hunt, the series introduces a crew of kid pirates — leader Jake and pals Izzy and Cubby — and follows their Never Land adventures as they work to outwit two infamous characters, the one and only Captain Hook and Smee, from Disney’s classic Peter Pan. Every episode features the animated Sharky and Bones characters as they pop up throughout to perform original pirate ditties, and each episode concludes with a live action music video featuring The Never Land Pirate Band.

About the Album Release:
Written and performed by Loren Hoskins and Kevin Hendrickson, a.k.a. Sharky and Bones of The Never Land Pirate Band, the album features 18 swashbuckling tracks sure to thrill any young pirate. Also included are downloadable activities and games to plan the perfect pirate party, a Sing-Along version of the show’s theme song and a bonus track from a future episode. The deluxe edition includes a pirate bandana. The album arrives at stores and online retailers September 20.

The album features a variety of songs that kids and parents can enjoy together. Songs include the kooky, comical “Hot Lava,” “Aw Coconuts,” “Pirate Password,” and the arrrghhh-rated “Talk Like a Pirate.” Some songs refer to popular characters in the show, such as “What’s Cookin’ Smee,” “Captain Hook (Is A Cranky Crook),” “Tick Tock Croc” and “Bucky’s Shanty.” Others capture the island spirit of Never Land, such as “Castaway on Pirate Island,” “Shipwreck Shuffle” and “Never Sky,” as well as the Jake and the Never Land Pirates theme song. All songs can be heard in episodes of the show.

Portland, Oregon-based Hoskins and Hendrickson have been creating pirate rock music for kids of all ages for more than a decade. The duo produced four previous children’s albums and even led their own pirate band. The pirate rockers also provide the musical score for Jake and the Never Land Pirates.

“Thor & Loki: Blood Brothers” on DVD September 13, 2011

Get ready to experience one of Thor’s most popular stories in comic history through cutting edge animation and captivating storylines when Marvel Knights Animation’s Thor & Loki: Blood Brothers debuts for the first time on DVD shelves nationwide on September 13, 2011 from Shout! Factory, in association with Marvel Knights Animation.

Inspired by the acclaimed graphic novel from Robert Rodi and Esad Ribic, Thor & Loki: Blood Brothers takes a powerful look inside the minds of Thor and Loki, two adversarial brothers in the mystical land of Asgard and seemingly forever enemies. But just why does Loki hate his brother Thor? And could it be that this master of mischief isn’t really the villain he’s been branded? Loki’s insatiable lust for power and his feud with Thor take on new meaning in this resonant epic.

A must have for loyal fans, comic book enthusiasts and collectors, Marvel Knights Animation presentation of Thor & Loki: Blood Brothers DVD is packed with insightful bonus content and graphic rich cover, plus a unique replica of comic book-style plastic sleeve that bridges the comic book to DVD concept. Marvel Knights Animation Thor & Loki: Blood Brothers is priced to own at $14.97. You’ll never see the world of Thor the same way again!

Marvel Knights Animation Thor & Loki: Blood Brothers is produced by Ruwan Jayatilleke, written by Robert Rodi, art by Esad Ribic.

Marvel Knights Animation remains true to the heritage of panel-by-panel graphic storytelling, boasting groundbreaking illustrations, sensational soundscapes, and of course, the explosiveness of the Mighty Marvel Universe.Behind every image and every word lies the genius of Marvel’s celebrated creators like Robert Rodi, Esad Ribic, Brian Michael Bendis, Alex Maleev, Joss Whedon, Reginald Hudlin, John Romita Jr, Warren Ellis, Adi Granov, John Cassaday, and more.

Thor & Loki: Blood Brothers
Synopsis
The great halls of Asgard have fallen silent since a new king has overtaken the throne. His name is Loki, son of almighty Odin, brother to the Thunder God, Thor. Once a powerful trickster – the God of Mischief – Loki now rules a grand kingdom with little regard for its subjects. His only thoughts are focused inward, toward the origins of his own pain and suffering. To quell his torment and to gain the respect he feels he so rightfully deserves, Loki must now execute the prisoner chained deep within the dungeons of Asgard, the one man who has ever shown him love. His own brother.

DVD Special Features Include:
An exclusive look back with writer Robert Rodi and Artist Esad Ribic
Behind the scenes of Thor & Loki: Blood Brothers
Trailer

Total Feature Running Time: +/- 72 Minutes

Hallmark Channel Announced Original Animated Special, “Jingle All The Way”

In the tradition of TV’s best-loved animated Christmas classics, Hallmark Channel announces the World Premiere of Jingle All the Way, a Hallmark Channel Original Animated Special, starring one of Hallmark’s most lovable characters, Jingle the Husky Pupâ„¢, which premieres exclusively on the network, Friday, November 25 (8 p.m. ET/PT, 7C). This is the first time that Hallmark Channel has ever brought a Hallmark product to life in a full-length entertainment production and it is the first cable TV experience of its kind.  The Interactive Storybook & Story Buddy,â„¢ available in Hallmark Gold Crown Stores, is part of a significant partnership from retail to on-air, digital and social media to promote the special.  Hallmark Channel’s Countdown to Christmas, one of the most anticipated seasonal events in entertainment, features more hours of holiday-themed programming than any other network.

In “Jingle All the Way, a spirited Husky puppy looking for a home at a Christmas tree farm instantly bonds with a young boy visiting with his parents.  As the boy rides away, unable to keep him, the pup escapes and embarks on a snowy journey to find his friend again. Guided by a wise cardinal and the sound of jingling bells, he eventually receives the help he needs from a big man in a red suit just in time for Christmas morning.

The animated special offers the first-ever opportunity for viewers to activate the Jingle Interactive Storybook and Story Buddyâ„¢ while watching original program content based on the book.

Jingle All the Way is a Bent Image Lab Production.  Chad Harris, Jodi Schade, Diana Stuart, Shawn McClaren and Ray Di Carlo are Executive Producers.  Tsui Ling Toomer is Producer.  Chel White directs from a teleplay by Allan Neuwirth.

“The Smurfs” talkback

Guess what opens today? They are small and blue and The Los Angeles Times says their film is “…grating and cloying. This misguided attempt at a 3-D family comedy is a project even Neil Patrick Harris can’t save.

The New York Times says “the movie frequently reminds us that the gimmick of little creatures scurrying about in the human world (Toy Story, Gnomeo and Juliet) is pretty worn out. But on a hot summer day, The Smurfs is a decent enough excuse to haul the little ones into an air-conditioned theater.”

Comments below are open only to our readers who have seen the film and wish to offer their reactions and reviews.

Animation Block Party Starts Tonight in Brooklyn

Animation Block Party

Animation Block Party, the most significant US animation festival on the East Coast, returns tonight for its eighth year in a row. The festival will take place over the next three days in Brooklyn with six programs of animated shorts and three after-parties. The festival is also exploring some new directions this year, in the form of a trade show and gallery exhibition:

On Saturday, July 30, 2011 – ABP will hold its first ever animation trade show and art gallery exhibition at BAMcinématek from 12pm-8pm. Trade show attendees will include Animation Mentor, NY Bike Jumble, L-Magazine, DaVinci Artist Supply, Green Mountain Energy, The Community Bookstore and many more.

The ABP gallery exhibition will feature content from animation talents such as Doug Crane, Howard Beckerman, Deborah Ross, Maori Stanton, Jeff Scher, Mike Lapinski, Caroline Foley, Michael Langan and London Squared alongside festival photos from Jazzmine Beaulieu. The Saturday ABP trade show and art gallery is free and open to the public.

For a list of all the films in competition, screening times and ticket info, visit the Animation Block website.

Chris Sanders Talks About “Big Bear”

Chris Sanders, the author of the Big Bear Aircraft Company, penned a detailed comment that clarifies the purpose of the book and the ideas contained within it. Here’s what he has to say:

Golly, I never thought I’d see that thing on the internet. I really wish I could re-do those drawings right about now.

I read some of the comments earlier, and I think I can provide some perspective as to what I was up to, and what was happening at the time I wrote this.

It was created for a Disney offsite. I wasn’t invited to the retreat, but anyone could write their thoughts down and submit them, and they would be copied and bound into a folder that would accompany the attendees. The hope being that all this stuff would be read carefully and thoughtfully and then discussed by the attendees at the retreat.

I wanted to submit some thoughts of my own, but from the size of some of the notes being submitted by my fellow artists, I thought it was unlikely anyone would really read all that material. We’re talking dozens if not hundreds of pages of thoughts/complaints/suggestions in that folder.

So I decided to submit mine in the form of this little picture book — so it might stand out. I’m not sure if it worked, but if someone found a copy of it twenty years later, at least one person must have read it.

Anyone who read the story would see that I wasn’t a proponent of the removal of writers from the development process. But I was focusing on the quantity of writers, the quality of the writers, and the unwillingness of writers to partner with the artists they worked so near. And, I would say, the artists they needed to make their material work. In feature animation a great deal of the finished film, if not the bulk of it, is written by the story crew. And I mean entire scenes, not the occasional gag that is transcribed back into a script. As head of story on Mulan, I received a writing credit for that very reason.

The other thing I was concerned about was the ever-growing complexity of our films, and what I saw as an emerging pattern they were all cut from. A lot of our films fell into a well-worn groove. Different characters, but similar roles. It didn’t seem like we could get away with that forever. I felt we could be more inventive. I felt that a film with a smaller crew and lower budget could be successful.

While the story crew was debating how we would kill the villain at the end of Mulan, we began reflecting on how strange it was that we spent so much time trying to find fresh ways to kill characters in Disney films. In Mulan we (the story crew) came up with the idea that the villain could be blown to bits by fireworks, rather than falling to his death as was written in the script. A lot of those villains fall at the end of Disney films. Some get stabbed first, but a whole lot of them fall. There was almost always a death at the end of our movies. It was one of those patterns I worried about.

That’s where Lilo and Stitch came from. At its base, Lilo and Stitch is a story about a villain who becomes a hero. A redemption story. A story that diverged from the pattern.

At the time I wrote that document, the suggestion that Disney could be surpassed by another studio seemed outrageous. Impossible. But a studio or company that feels secure, is slow to innovate and has trouble with self-examination can certainly be surpassed by something fresh, small, and fast.

Anyway, that’s where the little story book came from. To my surprise, it made the rounds. In the years that followed I got the occasional call from people at other companies that asked if they could use it for a presentation. I guess it was vague enough that it could apply in other places. Including Lockheed, to my surprise.

UPDATE: Chris has followed up with a second comment about the role of writers in animation:

I’m glad this forum has generated such passion – it’s so nice to hear so many perspectives. The only thing I’d add at this point, is that I don’t assume anything about writers. All my experience with the writers I was referring to was first-hand.

Again, I like writers. The good ones. The ones that aren’t just good at structure or inventive dialogue or the rhythm of a scene – but the ones that are also good in a room. The ones that are friendly, energetic and collaborative. The ones that can adapt quickly to a change and don’t have a problem editing their own pages. The ones that think visually, and understand when to let the characters shut up and let the score do the talking. And the ones that do their job without arrogance or ego. One thing I’ve learned – if someone tells you they are a great writer, they probably aren’t a great writer. At the very least they are a writer who’s better off mailing their pages in because you probably don’t want them around.

When I talk about writers I’m talking about the ones I actually worked with. In development my room was right next to theirs. A whole slew of different writers passed through that room – none of them stuck around very long. Some were silly, some were lazy, some were arrogant, and some were just plain mean. One group yelled at our PA because their phone cord wasn’t long enough. Another set spent the entire day wadding up fresh pieces of typing paper and throwing them at a wastebasket till it was buried, then took a three hour lunch. They came back for an hour before they left for the day. One came into my room, complained about my drawings, then took a piece of paper from me and scribbled the most terrible little drawing. He gave it to me and said, “There, that’s how the villain should look.”

Boy, I wish I kept that drawing. Once, while in a very tense meeting, our writer banged their head on a table, burst into tears, and ran out of the room.

And I listened to them all day long. That’s why I wrote what I did about them. I actually heard the stories they were hatching. It was pure insanity. The Sound Of Music set underwater with Nazi sharks. I saw them watch a Goofy cartoon and one of them asked why Goofy was acting so dumb. They thought they could probably fix that, because, well, I guess they thought the way Goofy was acting must have been some sort of mistake.

The ones I worked with, especially in development, didn’t belong there. They had no love for animation. In fact there was usually contempt for it. They wasted our time, money, and seriously stressed everyone out because we fretted that one of them might actually be assigned to one of our films and we’d have to carry them all the way through.

We wondered where they all came from. When you bought a typewriter did a certificate fall out that said, “Congratulations! You are now a writer. Take this certificate to your nearest studio where you can redeem it for a job.”

To the fellow who joked that I should have hired a writer for my story, I would say it already had one – me. I thought it up. I wrote it. And I drew it. It may not be perfect, but it exists solely because I made it. And it still seems to have some ability to start conversation, which is what I wanted it to do when it was written twenty years ago.

The implication of course that a “real” writer could have done it better. But as usual, when I was making it, there weren’t any around. All the “real” ones had gone home at 4:00. So I did it. And it got done.

One final note – I’ve written scripts and I’ve drawn story boards. I’ve even boarded my own pages. And when I board my own pages I change about the same amount of stuff I do when working from other writers pages. Even I can’t foresee all the adaptation a scene will need until I actually start drawing it. So if you’re writing for feature animation, don’t be too quick to feel upset if things get changed in boards. As soon as I sit down to board my own pages, I’ll think, “Well this doesn’t work.” Or, “I can dump half of this, what the hell was I thinking?”

Boarding is physically more demanding than writing. It just is. Write a battle scene, then try boarding it. A single paragraph of a script can stretch into hundreds of drawings. Feature animation is ultimately written on the boards. Pixar, Disney, Dreamworks, are all massive collaborations. Scenes are written, boarded, pitched… and then the real work begins. Those meetings can last days, and the story artists, directors, and writers are all in that room together. Writers return to their computers alone, but they are carrying all the material generated in those story meetings. So be careful not to imagine a pristine process where a writer sends pages along, and they simply get made into a movie.

LIAF 2011 Trailer by Daniela Negrin Ochoa

London’s grey landscape has never looked so alluring as in Daniela Negrin Ochoa‘s trailer for the upcoming London International Animation Festival. Ochoa is a recent grad of the National Film & Television School.

She provided these notes about the trailer:

The London International Animation Festival wanted a trailer to celebrate their upcoming animation festival and their new home, the Barbican. This year’s festival theme is cut-out animation, which inspired the look of this trailer. I directed, designed, and animated it myself using ink on acetate and tracing paper under camera on a 3 layer multiplane set-up. The music is by composer Jon Wygens.

Short Film “Magnum Farce” Set For Feature Length Film by Bella Fe & LightRow

Los Angeles, CA, July 28, 2011 –(PR.com)– Bella Fe Films and LightRow Pictures have teamed-up to complete production of Magnum Farce, a computer-animated parody of the iconic Dirty Harry films which starred Clint Eastwood. Based on the feature film script that has won multiple film festival awards, Magnum Farce’s production is a follow up of the successful animated short film of the same name by writer, director, producer, Ken Mora.

Executive Producer and CEO at LightRow Pictures is Zak Lee Guarnaccia, Italian-born actor, stuntman and filmmaker has just released the incredible No-Budget action feature Rules to the US market with distribution that includes Blockbuster, Barnes & Noble, Sears, and Best Buy. LightRow engaged the writing talents of Ken Mora for their developing project The Cook and the Thief a fast pace slapstick family action comedy written by Ken Mora, which will showcase Zak Lee Guarnaccia as an Italian Jackie Chan. Progress on that film lead to collaboration on Magnum Farce to establish “The Pixar of Rated R.”

Bella Fe Films is Ken Mora’s production company, and the goal of the joint venture with LightRow is to make an explicitly unique contribution to animation by producing mature-audience film for the underserved late-teen-and-older market which only occasionally experiences films like Trey Parker and Matt Stone‘s South Park: Bigger Longer and Uncut or Takeshi Koike‘s Redline. Release for Magnum Farce is scheduled September, 2013.

TELETOON at Night Announces Pilot Project Finalists

(Toronto, ON, July 28, 2011) — TELETOON Canada inc. announced today the five finalists in each of its English and French contests for the TELETOON at Night Pilot Project. The contest concept was taken from the original TELETOON Pilot Project and turned into an online, user-generated contest. The initiative called on aspiring and professional animators to put their creative skills to use for a chance to win $10,000 CDN and the opportunity to attend North America’s largest animation conference and festival, the Television Animation Conference and Ottawa International Animation Festival.

Finalists, for both English and French contests, will have their short films featured at a late night screening during the Ottawa International Film Festival on Saturday, September 23, 11 p.m. at the Arts Court Theatre.

The top five finalists for both contests are:

TELETOON at Night Pilot Project

Gotcha – Sandra Loke, Stoney Creek, Ontario

Samurai Terrorist – Matthew Viveen, Cambridge, Ontario

Great Minds Taste Alike – Sheryl Vedamani, Vancouver, British Columbia

The Kitten Factory – Henry Budd, Burnaby, British Columbia

Off the Wall – Robert Nisperos, Richmond, British Columbia

TELETOON la Nuit Projet Pilote

Les Imbroglios – Jonathan Savoie, Montréal, Quebec

Jean-Paul – Fred Pitteloud, Montréal, Quebec

La justicière rose - Philippe Ramsay Gaudreau, Lemoyne, Quebec

Cobaye en fuite – Steve Ouellette, Montréal, Quebec

Swing Carl - Beauchemin, Montréal, Quebec

“We are thrilled with all of the amazing, creative, funny, weird and sometimes disturbing submissions received for the TELETOON at Night Pilot Project,” said Russell Ward, Vice-President, Marketing, TELETOON Canada. “It proves just how much incredible talent is out there within the Canadian animation world and we are honoured to open a door and give exposure to these budding and professional animators.”

Fans can vote for their favourite English-language finalists on teletoonatnight.com and teletoonlanuit.com for the French-language contest. The video that receives the most votes by Sunday, August 28 will be crowned the winner and revealed on-air and online on Sunday, September 18.

The grand prize winner of each English and French contest will be awarded:

· $10,000 CDN

· Two roundtrip airline tickets from the closest Canadian commercial airport to the winner’s residence to Ottawa

· Four nights accommodation in Ottawa

· Two delegate passes to the Television Animation Conference and Ottawa International Animation Festival

For contest rules and more information on the TELETOON at Night Pilot Project, please visit teletoonatnight.com or teletoonlanuit.com.

The original TELETOON Pilot Project launched in fall 2007, exclusively inviting Canadian producers to submit proposals to produce a pilot in either English or French to be broadcast on TELETOON. Ten projects were selected as finalists from over 200 submissions, straddling a wide range of topics, animation styles and comedy sensibilities. TELETOON recently announced that the first TELETOON Pilot Project winner, Fugget About It, has been officially greenlit for production into a 13-part series in English and French.

TELETOON at Night is a special programming block on TELETOON for older teens and adult audiences who have an appetite for smart and culturally topical comedy shows. Available in both English and French, TELETOON Canada inc. brings kids, youth and adults the best in animated and animation-related entertainment with four nationwide specialty television channels — TELETOON, TÉLÉTOON, TELETOON Retro and TÉLÉTOON Rétro — and select programming is also available On Demand, Mobile TV, iTunes and teletoon.com. Founded in 1997, TELETOON Canada inc. is owned by Astral (50%) and Corus Entertainment (50%). For more information, please visit www.teletoon.com.

“Estate Sale Sign” by Awesome and Modest

Brooklyn animation boutique Awesome and Modest created this new music video for The Mountain Goats track, Estate Sale Sign. In the video, two shape-shifting beasts wage a war over a snow globe – with a brief pause for a moment of tenderness.

Credits
Director : Awesome and Modest
Editor : Sean Donnelly
Animation: Sean Donnelly, Jordan Bruner, Abbey Luck, Taili Wu, Vanessa Appleby

“Legend of Korra” trailer

Avatar: The Last Airbender was a very successful anime-inspired seies for Nickelodeon. Unfortunately the franchise took a hit last year with the M. Night Shyamalan live action feature. Undeterred, Avatar creators Michael DiMartino and Bryan Konietzko are supervising 26 episodes of a new spin-off limited series, The Last Airbender: Legend of Korra, which is scheduled to debut next year. Last week at Comic Con Nick released this first taste:

Animator Mo Willems at the Charles M. Schulz Museum August 28th

(Santa Rosa, CA) Award-winning animator, illustrator, and children’s book author Mo Willems will read his books–Naked Mole Rat Gets Dressed and I Broke My Trunk!–and provide a drawing demonstration at the Charles M. Schulz Museum Sunday, August 28th at 1 p.m. After the reading, Willems will be available to sign his newest Elephant & Piggie book Should I Share My Ice Cream? Visitors staying for the book signing can also enjoy their own free ice cream from Cold Stone Creamery of Sonoma County (while supplies last).

At Noon, watch animated versions of Naked Mole Rat Gets Dressed, Don’t Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus!, and Willems’ other classics. During the signing, Willems will sign one book from home and all books purchased at the Museum. His many books include Don’t Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus! and Knuffle Bunny: A Cautionary Tale.

Gang of Seven Animation Announced $100m Animation Film Fund in Partnership with China


Gang of Seven Animation, headed by animation industry veteran Tom Tataranowicz, has announced a new $100m Animation Film Fund in partnership with the Chinese Government.

One of the first films slated to be financed through the fund is a re-boot of the 90′s popular animated television series and merchandising phenomenon, Biker Mice from Mars, which was successfully syndicated around the world and ran from 1992-1996 and again with new episodes in 2006-2007.

Gang of Seven (G-7 Animation) is a long established artist run studio. With a membership roster of such animation industry notables as Rich Arons, Dennis Venizelos, Bob Kline, Rik Maki, Bernie Wrightson, Dick Sebast and other accomplished associates. They collectively have over 20 Emmys amongst them. Recently, they have completed pre-production on their theatrical feature length CGI animated The Life and Adventures of Santa Claus, based on the classic book by L. Frank Baum, author of The Wizard of Oz.

“The potential of Feature Animation in unexplored genres outside of the mainstream is an exciting prospect. As evidenced by the recent Comic-Con, the appetite is enormous and it is an expanding niche begging to be filled,” says Tataranowicz.

Amongst its properties, G-7 Animation has also developed a slate of widely anticipated animated horror properties with which a number of studios and live action horror maestros are looking to become involved. Two of the properties are the first CGI animated version of Frankenstein and a film based on the graphic novel Freak Show, which G-7 Associate Bernie Wrightson is anticipated to become involved with as Production Designer.

Wrightson is one of the world’s premier horror illustrators whose many famous accomplishments include Swamp Thing and illustrating Mary Shelly’s Frankenstein. He is also renowned for his film production work on movies such as Ghostbusters and The Mist as well as for his numerous collaborations with Stephen King, illustrating such of the author’s properties as Creepshow, The Stand and The Dark Tower V: Wolves of the Calla.

“Second Hand” by Isaac King

I posted the trailer for Second Hand a few months ago, and knowing Isaac King‘s track record as a commercial animation director, I had high hopes for it. Having seen the entire short now, it pleases me to report that Second Hand ranks amongst the most fully conceived and visually arresting shorts that I’ve come across this year.

The most striking element is the visual world that King has concocted through a novel combination of stop motion and hand drawn animation. The world lies somewhere between flat and three-dimensional, and the characters fit nicely inbetween with quasi-cubist faces and stylized patterns of movement. It’s the type of visual experience befitting a larger screen than my laptop and I hope to see it in a theater someday.

The film’s graphic originality almost made me overlook the powerful storytelling, which “examines the imbalance and waste” created by the modern-day obsessions of saving time and collecting junk, which King shows are actually two sides of the same coin. As the film began, I initially thought it was headed for a simplistic pro-environmental creed, but there’s actually a far more sophisticated and poignant message embedded within.

“The Impossible Moon” by Meinardas Valkevicius

We’re back from our Comic-Con hiatus with the fifth film in Cartoon Brew’s Student Animation Festival: The Impossible Moon by Meinardas Valkevicius. The film was made at the Vilniaus Academy of Arts in Lithuania. To comment on the film or read extensive behind-the-scenes notes from the filmaker, click HERE.

This just might be my personal favorite film of the festival. There are countless student films that tell stories set in space (with a large percentage of them revolving around the Russian dog Laika for some inexplicable reason), but this one stands out, mainly because it dares to challenge our perception of a famous historical event. The Impossible Moon convincingly presents an alternate history of an iconic moment through superb command of the animation medium, especially camera, staging and sound. Regardless of your feelings about the story (and for the record, I’m a space buff who doesn’t buy into any conspiracy theories), the film immediately grabs the viewer with its audacious, thought-provoking concept. My favorite part of the film is the relationship between astronaut Michael Collins and his two inflatable travel companions, which affirms that an emotional bond can exist even in a conspiratorial setting.

Cartoon Brew’s second annual Student Animation Festival is made possible through the generous support of Titmouse and JibJab.

Titmouse and JibJab

Chris Sanders Explained Problems With the Industry in 1989

Big Bear Aircraft Company

Brew reader “Test Pilot” was looking through his copy of The Illusion of Life when he stumbled onto some Xeroxes circa 1989 tucked inside of the book. The story and artwork, posted in its entirety on this blog is by Chris Sanders, director of Lilo & Stitch and How To Train Your Dragon. It’s called The Big Bear Aircraft Company, and of course, the drawings ooze with typical Sanders appeal.

But this isn’t any normal story concept. The sub-title is “A Book for the Big Retreat.” And the story is an allegorical tale about the animation industry. The message is loud and clear: a management-heavy, writer-driven animation studio will be doomed to produce safe and unoriginal animated films. His devastating takedown of writers is notable; he doesn’t even bother extending a metaphor to them and bluntly depicts their uselessness in his story’s setting, which is an aircraft factory:

The writer likes airplanes; he saw one on TV once. He has actually never worked on one before, and couldn’t tell you for sure what makes one fly. But now he’s got the idea, and is hammering away at an incredible rate. . . . Without the visual engineer’s guidance, the writer is guaranteed of making the same mistake every time. He will make his airplane look like every one he’s seen before, and he will power it with a plot and dialogue engine, the biggest and heaviest he can find.

The document raises a number of fascinating questions that perhaps Chris or someone else familiar with the document’s origin can answer. For example, what retreat was this created for, who saw the document originally, have Chris’s views changed or evolved in the past couple decades, and most importantly, did anybody listen to Chris’s passionate plea to trust the artists?

UPDATE: Chris Sanders wrote two detailed comments about the purpose of the book, what he hoped to accomplish with it, and the role of writers in animation. Click HERE to read Chris’s thoughts.

CBTV Student Fest: “The Impossible Moon” by Meinardas Valkevicius

We’re back from our Comic-Con hiatus with the fifth film in our Student Animation Festival. The Impossible Moon comes to us from Meinardas Valkevicius who produced it at the Vilniaus Academy of Arts in Lithuania.

The Impossible Moon asks the audacious question, Was the Apollo 11 moon landing a hoax? Conspiracy theories have floated around for decades, but Valkevicius succeeds in refreshing the controversy by avoiding a pedantic conspiracist approach. His cockeyed glance at the topic is funny and good-natured, and casually raises questions in an entertaining package. The incorporation of documentary footage is an inspired touch, and the dramatic heft is heightened by Valkevicius’s cinematic approach to filmmaking and exquisite sound design.

As much as we like the film though, we probably won’t be showing it to Buzz Aldrin anytime soon.

Meinardas Valkevičius

Meinardas (above) provided us with detailed production notes about how he made The Impossible Moon:

Film creation process took around two years. Everything started back in 2009, when I was studying my third year at the Academy and taking the directing course. I was discussing possible topics for animation films with my lecturer. Unexpectedly the topic changed to the Moon and the possibility of a fictional landing on it in 1969. This idea struck me and I started researching the topic intensively.

I managed to find tons of information about it on the Internet. NASA was celebrating its 40th Moon landing anniversary that year. I’ve looked through as many movies as possible and understood that the topic is really valuable due to continuing interest in it. All the people I’ve been talking to about the landing on the Moon were excited and highly engaged in the discussion. All this motivated me and I was excited realizing that my movie will raise even more questions than answers and people will be forced to question the reality after seeing my movie’s funny interpretation of the various landing details.

The next step was drawing sketches. By 2010, I had gathered loads of information and written around forty versions of the script. I was getting advices from people around me, especially my lecturers. It all led to the start of experiments with the animation itself. I had already had the characters drawn at that time, although they’ve been constantly updated throughout production. Next, I made a storyboard, which was very long. In fact, after creating the animatic I realized that it was even longer than 10 minutes, so I cut some scenes out and changed the script so I could complete the movie by the diploma deadline.

The movie was created using Photoshop, Flash and After Effects. The longest stage was the script, which took over a year to produce. Production (animation, illustration, sound) took an additional 9 months. The sound for the movie was being created at the same time with the help of the sound director Meinardas Brazaitis. I was updating him constantly with the newest animatic version and we were both trying different sounds. Sound effects in the movie were created professionally as well as the main sound track “Selling Dreams,” which was created by the London band called Besureis after I showed them the movie trailer and they became really interested in the idea.

The most exciting production stage for me is the animation itself, especially character animation. If you look closely, you’ll notice that every character has his own unique features–one is calm, another very optimistic and the third one is a little foolish. I also tried to create their visual look according to the real astronauts.

Lastly, I decided to add real documentary fragments, which brought my movie even closer to the reality. The whole movie design is targeted at a wide audience, whether you are young or old, intelligent or just starting to understand the world. Therefore I wanted it to be colorful, with Hollywood-style sound effects and vivacious story.

Filmmaker Websites
Meinardas Valkevičius’s portfolio website and blog

Cartoon Brew’s second annual Student Animation Festival is made possible through the generous support of Titmouse and JibJab.

“My Mothers Coat” by Marie-Margaux Tsakiri-Scanatovits

My Mother’s Coat is a beautiful, sensitive film by Marie-Margaux Tsakiri-Scanatovits, a freelance illustrator and animator based in South London. She completed her MA in Animation at Royal College of Art; this was her 2010 final project. Tsakiri-Scanatovits’ is also part of the artists collective, MOTH, and we’ve featured her in our “Animated Fragments” section before. She describes the film:

“My Mother talks to me about post-dictatorship Athens, her struggle to adapt to the greek mentality, her memories of motherhood, and her longing to go back to her small town in Italy.”

For more information about the filmmaker, follow her blog.

(Thanks, David Prosser)

DreamWorks Animation Reports Second Quarter 2011 Financial Results

GLENDALE, Calif., July 26, 2011 /PRNewswire/ – DreamWorks Animation SKG, Inc. (Nasdaq: DWA) today announced financial results for its second quarter ended June 30, 2011. For the quarter, the Company reported total revenue of $218.3 million and net income of $34.1 million, or $0.40 per share on a fully diluted basis. This compares to revenue of $158.1 million and net income of $24.0 million, or $0.27 per share on a fully diluted basis, for the same period in 2010.

Kung Fu Panda 2 is currently the fifth highest-grossing film of 2011 on a global basis and has exceeded $600 million at the worldwide box office to date,” said Jeffrey Katzenberg, Chief Executive Officer of DreamWorks Animation. “We are looking forward to the next two big events for the Company during the second half of the year: the November 4th theatrical release of Puss In Boots and the release of Kung Fu Panda 2 into the home video market in the fourth quarter.”

Kung Fu Panda 2, which was released on May 26, 2011, contributed $55.8 million of revenue in the quarter, generated by its worldwide box office performance as well as merchandising and licensing activities. It has grossed approximately $160 million in domestic box office and approximately $440 million in international box office to date.

Megamind contributed $19.7 million of revenue in the quarter, driven primarily by home entertainment. The film reached an estimated 4.3 million home entertainment units sold worldwide through the end of the second quarter, net of actual and estimated future returns.

Shrek Forever After and How to Train Your Dragon contributed $34.9 million and $41.4 million of revenue in the quarter, respectively, driven primarily by worldwide pay television and home entertainment. These films reached an estimated 8.8 million and 8.7 million home entertainment units, respectively, sold worldwide through the end of the second quarter, net of actual and estimated future returns.

Library and other items, including non-film businesses, contributed approximately $66.5 million of revenue to the quarter.

Costs of revenue for the quarter equaled $141.3 million. Selling, general and administrative expenses totaled $29.6 million, including approximately $8.4 million of stock-based compensation expense.

The Company’s income tax expense for the second quarter was $15.3 million. The Company’s combined effective tax rate – the actual tax rate coupled with the effect of the Company’s tax sharing agreement with a former stockholder – was approximately 31% for the second quarter.

The Company’s third quarter results are expected to be driven primarily by the continued international box office performance of Kung Fu Panda 2, in addition to domestic pay television revenue from Megamind. In the fourth quarter, the Company will release Puss In Boots into theaters on November 4th and Kung Fu Panda 2 into the home entertainment market.

Items related to the earnings press release for the second quarter of 2011 will be discussed in more detail on the Company’s earnings conference call later today.

Conference Call Information

DreamWorks Animation will host a conference call and webcast to discuss the results on Tuesday, July 26, 2011, at 4:30 p.m. (ET). Investors can access the call by dialing (800) 230-1059 in the U.S. and (612) 234-9959 internationally and identifying “DreamWorks Animation Earnings” to the operator. The call will also be available via live webcast at www.dreamworksanimation.com.

A replay of the conference call will be available shortly after the call ends on Tuesday, July 26, 2011. To access the replay, dial (800) 475-6701 in the U.S. and (320) 365-3844 internationally and enter 208016 as the conference ID number. Both the earnings release and archived webcast will be available on the Company’s website at www.dreamworksanimation.com.