Mexico’s Lo Coloco Films Licenses Bakery Relight For Upcoming Feature “Ana”

Mexico City – July 28, 2011 – Lo Coloco Films, a Mexico City-based production company are pleased to confirm the signing of a comprehensive licensing agreement with French software developer, The Bakery for the ongoing use of its 3D lighting and rendering software, Bakery Relight. Lo Coloco was founded in 2007 with the mission of generating and producing world-class animated content, enabling the Company to compete on an international level.

Lo Coloco’s first project is the animated feature film, Ana, directed by Palme d’Or Winner Carlos Carrera. The film is being produced in stereoscopic 3D format, and is based on the script by Daniel Emil. Ana is currently scheduled for release in mid 2013.

Born out of years of hands-on experience on top grossing feature films and in product development and proven through extensive pre-release testing, Bakery Relight is the first software solution to support the lighters’ and shaders’ iterative process – progressive and interactive refinement of properties and details – with full resolution feedback within seconds.

The agreement signed between the two companies places Lo Coloco Films at the technological forefront for computer generated images for an animated feature, raising the production values of Ana to international standards and aiming the eventual final project firmly at global audiences.

“Our close collaboration with Lo Coloco has been extremely useful in helping us to set up a remote support system between our team based here in France, and Mexico-based users,” says Bakery co-founder and CEO, Erwan Maigret, whose credits include Technical Lead on Shrek 2, Madagascar and Shrek the Third. “Lo Coloco started beta testing Bakery Relight in the early days when there was only a Linux version of the product, and they have followed us through the whole transition to Windows, making sure that the final release of the software was reliable for multi-platform productions.”

“From the very beginning, the Lo Coloco team managed to guess how to use our tools – even before documentation material existed – pushing Relight to its limits and producing really impressive CGI images in record time and with limited resources. We look forward to pushing the boundaries even further with them on their future productions,” says Maigret.

Oscar Juárez, Lo Coloco Films Technical Supervisor explains, “Bakery Relight is a totally new kind of software. It doesn’t take long to realize that this is a solution, which has been specifically designed for lighting artists, giving flexibility at every iteration and making feedback sessions a breeze.”

“Support from The Bakery is top-notch,” adds Juárez. “They put a lot of time and effort into making us feel we took the right decision going with Relight, and making our pipeline complete without worrying about moving data from our animation software, which also allowed us to increase production values without compromising budget or render times. The final quality of our render puts us in the right spot regarding current standards and even surpasses our own expectations; we were amazed with the results we were getting in such a short time, which is very important for us given that we’re working on our first project. Relight is a ‘must have’ tool for our lighting artists. We look forward to using it on future projects and pushing the product even further.”

The Bakery Team will be demonstrating Bakery Relight at the forthcoming SIGGRAPH show in Vancouver (9.-11. August 2011 – stand 471).

PBS Announces New Series Inspired by “Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood” Character Daniel Tiger

PBS Press Tour, Los Angeles, CA, July 31, 2011 — This morning, at the Television Critics Association’s Summer Press Tour, PBS announced the launch of production for Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood, a new animated multi-platform series inspired by one of the most beloved PBS classic television series, Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood. The new preschool series is an animated version of the original Neighborhood of Make Believe in which a four-year-old Daniel Tiger is the star of the show who talks directly to the home audience inviting them in to his world. The first television series produced by The Fred Rogers Company since Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood, Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood will launch in Fall 2012 on-air on PBS KIDS, along with a robust website, including free, interactive games for kids, online resources for parents and teachers, and other cross-platform content.

Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood is based on the next generation of the original Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood characters. All of the original characters have grown up and now have preschoolers of their own. Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood stories revolve around a four-year-old Daniel Tiger, son of the original Daniel Tiger, and his preschool friends. The series uses musical strategies grounded in Fred Rogers’ landmark curriculum and music. In this way, the songs will give parents and kids a concrete way to practice important pro-social skills together.

Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood brings together a group of today’s leading creators of children’s media and educational technology. The series was developed by the acclaimed Fred Rogers Company in association with Out of the Blue Enterprises.

“We’re very excited to be creating a program that builds on Fred’s legacy in such fresh and innovative ways. Fred knew that school readiness skills are the foundation for academic achievement, and a full life, and now a growing body of research confirms this,” said Bill Isler, President of The Fred Rogers Company.

“Fred Rogers revolutionized children’s media with Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood, and Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood continues on this path of innovation, helping the next generation of young children learn and grow in new ways,” said Lesli Rotenberg, Senior Vice President, Children’s Media, PBS. “Joining the PBS KIDS family of series that cover important curricular areas like literacy and science, Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood fills a critical gap in children’s media today: modeling the behaviors and habits that kids need in order to excel in formal learning settings — essentially, learning how to learn. It’s important for kids to learn pro-social skills like cooperation and listening, so that when they start school they are able to focus on the material at hand.”

The executive producers of Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood are Kevin Morrison, for The Fred Rogers Company, and Angela Santomero, cofounder of Out of the Blue Enterprises and the creative force behind the hit PBS KIDS literacy series Super Why!. In addition to this key partner, The Fred Rogers Company is joined by 9 Story Entertainment, bringing award-winning animation capabilities to the production, and top game designer Schell Games, which will spearhead the series’ digital educational applications.

Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood joins the PBS KIDS line-up of cross-platform content for kids ages 2 to 8, which includes a host of top-rated series including The Cat In The Hat KNows A Lot About That!, Curious George and Wild Kratts. With a transmedia approach, PBS KIDS is increasingly serving children wherever they live, learn, and play — on TV, online, through mobile devices, in the classroom, and through a new line of educational toys.

“The Man Who Shot The Man Who Shot Lincoln” by Drew Christie

Printed books don’t seem to be good for much nowadays, but animators can use them as art supplies, as Drew Christie did for his excellent short The Man Who Shot The Man Who Shot Lincoln. Animated with charcoal, pastel and crayon, the film required twelve paperback books. He writes, “The driver’s side window of a box truck was used as the light box for animating because I made the entire thing while I was at work (a job I no longer have).”

Animating on a book isn’t a new idea, and the gimmick quickly takes backseat to the well-told story of Boston Corbett, the mentally unstable soldier who knocked off Lincoln’s assassin John Wilkes Booth. Christie’s artwork is simple, but he pairs it with sophisticated filmmaking ideas and story presentation. The music by Spencer Thun and sound by Ian Picco both add a lot. If you want to know more about Corbett’s life, as I did after watching the film, read this piece in American Scholar.

(via Drawn)

New Brew Revue

Spent the weekend going over some new book acquisitions (and one DVD) and surprise! most were pretty good – and a couple were really great. Here’s what I’ve been reading (and viewing), in no particular order:

Funny Pictures: Animation and Comedy in Studio-Era Hollywood (University of California Press), edited by Daniel Goldmark and Charlie Keil, is a fascinating collection of essays by noted animation historians and academics, exploring the link – from the outset of the medium to today – between comedy and animation. Fourteen pieces in all, including J.B. Kaufman comparing Disney’s characters to Chaplin and silent comedians; Mark Langer putting Fleischer’s early films in context to Vaudeville and comic strips of the era; Donald Crafton observing the effect of Hollywood cartoons on Depression era audiences; Linda Simensky on the influences of classic cartoons and earlier animators on the TV cartoon creators of today; and Daniel Goldmark writing about “funny music” in funny cartoons. This one is aimed at the scholarly – but is highly recommended (by me) to all!

Krazy Kat & The Art of George Herriman, A Celebration by Craig Yoe (Abrams Comic Arts). Another Krazy Kat comics compilation? Not quite. In fact, not at all. Once again comics archaeologist Yoe has unearthed a treasure trove – this time of all things Herriman and Krazy. And once again I’ll say that even if you know nothing about Herriman and his most famous creation, you MUST buy this book. If you love great cartooning, funny drawings, and 20th Century pop culture this is a absolute gotta-have-it volume. It is an absolute joy to leaf through these pages filled with rare unpublished Herriman art – in comics, paintings, doodles, merchandise, etc. This is a companion volume to all the incredible Herriman material now being reprinted – a collection of jaw-dropping “bonus material” (as we say in the DVD world) that even includes several pages devoted to the Charles Mintz animated cartoons of the 20s and 30s. The artwork overwhelms the reader, yet Yoe tops that by including several rare essays on the Kat from the likes of E.E. Cummings, Gilbert Seldes, Bill Watterson, Craig McCracken and Herriman’s grand daughter Dee Cox, among others. I’ve run out of space to continue raving. Only have room for four more words: Buy this book now!

The Saga of Rex by Michel Gagne (Image Comics). I figure there are two types of people out there: those who know the work of Michel Gagne, and those who don’t. Those who do should already have this graphic novel (it came out late last year and I’ve been remiss at plugging it here). If you don’t have it – get it. What a beautiful “trip” this is. This is pure Gagne psychedelia unleashed on 190 color pages. If you don’t know Gagne’s work – he’s an amazing special effects animator (The Iron Giant, among others), currently living in the Pacific northwest doing his own thing when he isn’t animating or designing games…. The Saga of Rex will introduce you to his world in the best possible way. Don’t let the cute l’il furry cover fool you, this is a mind-blowing sci-fi adventure; visual storytelling at its best; and highly recommended!

The World of Smurfs: A Celebration of Tiny Blue Proportions by Matt. Murray (Abrams Image). What’s more surprising than a first place box-office win for The Smurfs movie? This book! Self described “Smurfologist” Matt. Murphy (former president of New York’s Musuem of Comics and Cartoon Art – and a student in my 1996 History of Animation class at NYU) has put together an informing and entertaining history of the Peyo, his comic strip and all the subsequent animated adaptations. Lavishly illustrated with pull outs (like my The Hanna Barbera Treasury) that include facsimile reproductions of the first “Schtroumpfs” booklets, cels, model sheets, stickers, et al. It’s the ultimate word on the whole Smurfs phenomenon. I never thought I’d say this, but I highly recommend this book. It’s a lot of fun.

Uncensored Animation #2: Cannibals! by Steve Stanchfield (Thunderbean Animation). Stanchfield does it again! He’s just released his latest DVD compilation of classic cartoon obscurities, and I hereby order you to buy it. Here’s the link. You will not be disappointed. This time Steve’s collected the rarest, most obscure cartoons based around the theme of Man-Eating Cannibals. Warning: much of this material is Politically Incorrect. These are rare cartoons from the 1920s, 30s and 40s, from various studios, lovingly preserved in their best possible presentation. Oddities include Korn Plastered In Africa (1931) narrated by radio’s Uncle Don, Chiquita Banana and the Cannibals (1947) by Hugh Harman, and Aroma of the South Seas (1926) with Mutt & Jeff paired with its rare 1931 color/sound remake. Incredibly strange and incredible fun. Highly recommended.

And finally, Animators of Film and Television: Nineteen Artists, Writers, Producers and Others by Noell K. Wolfgram Evans (McFarland & Company), is a book that can best be used by students as basic text to get a grasp on key figures in animation history. As a teacher of animation history myself (currently at Woodbury University in Burbank) I’m well aware that good text books (in print) are hard to find at this time. In this book, author Evans essentially reviews the career highlights of nineteen key figures – including John Hubley, Max Fleischer, Frank Tashlin, Art Babbit, Matt Groening and John Kricfalusi. Notably absent are Walt Disney (intentionally according to the introduction), Chuck Jones, Tex Avery and Bob Clampett. If you are a longtime fan and have the essential histories and bios, you don’t need this one. Still, this is a worthwhile primer for the interested novice, animation student or casual enthusiast.