Viz Promotes Hyoe Narita To President of Viz Media Europe

Viz Media Europe is proud to announce that Hyoe Narita, previously Executive Vice President at Viz Media, LLC in San Francisco, will become the new President of Viz Media Europe (VME) from December 1, 2011.

After five years in his function as President of VME, John Easum, will be stepping down at the end of November to pursue new initiatives. Under Easum’s leadership, VME was established in January 2007. Easum was instrumental in building VME’s presence and implementing VME’s strategy of growing the European market for VIZ’s animation and manga properties. From December, he will be moving to Tokyo where he will continue to provide services to the manga and anime industries.

Narita has been appointed as Easum’s successor and will assume the role of President of VME from December 1. Narita will be responsible for managing the day-to-day operations in Europe along with Cedric Littardi, Managing Director of Kazé, and Nicolas Weber Krebs, Managing Director of Viz Media Switzerland.

Narita has dedicated his career to growing markets for Japanese content and entertainment. After nine years in Japan, working in the publishing industry for Shogakukan, Inc., he has spent the last nine years at Viz Media, LLC in San Francisco, helping Viz Media become a market leader in manga distribution and ensuring that the latest in Japanese manga is made available to U.S. readers.

With this experience and his passion for Japanese pop culture, Narita intends to bring strong support to VME in the coming years.

Spanish Animation “Chico & Rita” Goes After Oscars & International Market

Still from Chico & Rita

The recent pre-selection of two Spanish feature-length films for the 2011 Oscars, set for February, is yet more confirmation of the sweet moment the Spanish animation sector is currently enjoying. Chico & Rita and Arrugas are thus repeating the pre-selection success of Planet 51 and El Lince Perdido (The Lost Lynx) two years ago. Except for America, few countries ever manage to get more than one production on the list from which the nomination finalists will emerge. Spain will also be represented at the Oscars by three animated short films — Birdboy, Vicenta and Daisy Cutter– which demonstrates the creative depth of the upcoming generation on an international level.

What really stands out is that Arrugas and Chico & Rita are aimed at adult audiences, a market segment where animated films — at least until now — were a tough sell vis-á-vis the overwhelming hegemony of children and family-oriented cartoons. Might this be construed as a trend change? “More than a trend, it has been the result of the excellent work of the professionals in the sector that has attracted the finest filmmakers and helped them discover the power of animated narrative –  Fernando Trueba with Chico & Rita, Cesc Gay with Las Tres Mellizas y la Máquina del Mundo (The Three Twin Sisters and the Machine of the World) and Juan José Campanella with Metegol (Goalscorer) are the best examples of this,” said Carlos Biern, President of Diboos, the Federation of Animation Producers’ Associations.

According to Manuel Cristóbal, a producer with film hits to his credit such as El Bosque Encantado (The Enchanted Forest) and El Lince Perdido and the man responsible for Arrugas, “the borders for animation have been blown up and now we find not only movies for family audiences but also animated dramas, such as Arrugas, and adventure movies being made using motion-capture techniques, such as Tintin. This is not a coincidence, and it shows that animation is a strategic sector with a brilliant future.” Perro Verde Films, the production company behind Arrugas is a long-time member of DIBOOS, under whose aegis some 80% of all Spanish animation is produced. Likewise, DIBOOS encourages state institutions to place further belief in a sector “where they’re shaking the hand of great creative talent and entrepreneurial know-how that is creating a product that makes most of its money abroad, that generates stable, highly-qualified employment and that is very technologically and innovatively intense.” Chelo Loureiro, Vice President of Diboos for Film, comments that “the pre-selection of Arrugas and Chico & Rita for the Oscars is nothing more than further proof of the prestige of the Spanish animation industry, which is currently  producing over 20 feature-length films for the big screen and thousands of hours of series for TV, apps and videogames. Absolutely all of this production is being pre-sold on an international level because both the quality of the story-telling and the animation techniques prove we’re good.”

And it’s true that, now, it’s no longer the exception when Spanish series and movies conquer foreign markets, even American markets, which have traditionally been difficult to gain access to for European products in general. To cite just a few examples, on the heals of the tremendous global success of Pocoyó, companies such as BRB, IMIRA and VODKA have managed to produce animated series that have sold in over 150 countries around the world and that have been embraced by huge audiences, leading to million-dollar commercial tie-ins and licensing agreements that have given rise to wide-spread industrial and commercial commitments employing thousands of qualified professionals. And apart from this type of entrepreneurial success, Spanish animation has produced tremendous enthusiasm around the globe simply due to the level of its creativity, as can be seen in the two candidatures for the Oscars or the 11 projects selected for the past edition of the Cartoon Forum, animation’s premier event.

The report that has been presented by FAPAE over the last three years, Madrid de Cine-Spanish Film Screenings, clearly states that Spanish productions continue to earn more money abroad than at home: In 2010, Spanish cinema made 90 million euros outside of Spain and had a total audience of 16.3 million viewers.

For Pedro Pérez, President of FAPAE (Federation of Spanish Audiovisual Producers’ Associations), “These nominations corroborate the success and international projection of Spanish fiction and, concretely, of Spanish animation. The Oscar candidatures of Arrugas and Chico & Rita are recognition of the talent and innovative work that is being carried out at the heart of these animation companies.”

“Icons of Animation” Auction

I just received Profiles In History’s latest auction catalog: Icons of Animation and its pretty incredible. Above are a few of the offerings that caused me to do a Tex Avery double take: a rare cel from one of The Flintstones sponsor bumper for Winston cigarettes; pencil animation from MGM’s Bosko and The Pirates (1937); and a cache of production photos from the Kinex stop motion studio – the one above from The Cannibal Isle (1927). Priceless stuff!

The Icons of Animation auction takes place on Saturday December 17th at The Paley Center in Beverly Hills. Van Eaton Galleries will be displaying the material in advance preview, December 9th through 16th (10am to 6pm each day). Their are literally hundreds of Disney items ranging from cels from The Band Concert (1935) to Mary Blair originals from Alice in Wonderland (1951). Lots of stuff for every taste, from Gulliver’s Travels cels to Leon Schlesinger Bugs Bunny comic strips… check out the entire catalog online here.

Click thumbnails below to enlarge images – L to R: a pan cel from Tezuka’s Astro Boy; The Icons of Animation catalog with the earliest surviving color Mickey Mouse Cel on the cover (note the green trunks!); and an incredibly rare cel set up from Iwerks’ Balloonland (1934):

“Arthur Christmas” talkback

Opening today is Aardman/Sony Animation’s Arthur Christmas and so far, the critics like it. Michael Phillips in The Los Angeles Times calls it “manic, but charming”. Neil Genzlinger writing in The New York Times says, “The plot may be a little too cluttered for the toddler crowd to follow, but the next age group up should be amused.”

Were you amused? Let us know in the comments below (and you know the rules: only those who have seen the film can post below).

“Stream School” by Péter Vácz

A tale of growing up based on a Hungarian poem. This sweet stop-motion short by Péter Vácz was his 2010 graduation film from Budapest’s Moholy-Nagy University of Arts and Design. Watch the making-of, click here

Director: Péter Vácz
Background: Kati Egely
Narration: Piroska Molnár
Music: Yvein Monq
Tutor: József Fülöp
Translation: Joseph Wallace

Disney’s “Prep & Landing” Coming To DVD on November 22

BURBANK, Calif. – This coming holiday, Disney invites audiences of all ages to make Prep & Landing (the all-new modern classic Christmas tale) part of their family’s “must own” holiday-viewing collection!  Arriving to DVD on November 22, 2011, Prep & Landing is the perfect blend of Christmas spirit, humor and entertaining characters that will keep the entire family grinning from ear-to-ear. Complete with two new bonus shorts – Tiny’s Big Adventure and Operation Secret Santa (which features Betty White as the voice of Mrs. Clause) — Prep & Landing will be available for the suggested retail price of $19.99 in the U.S. and $24.99 in Canada. It’s the perfect stocking stuffer for all ages! For more information on this release, please visit

Prep & Landing is an adorable holiday story about a high-tech team of elves who ensure homes around the world are properly prepared for their visit from Santa. After working for a tireless 227 years, an elf named Wayne (voiced by Dave Foley) is upset when he doesn’t receive an expected promotion. Instead he is partnered with an idealistic rookie elf named Lanny (voiced by Derek Richardson) to execute a special Christmas Eve mission. While on their journey, Wayne and Lanny encounter unexpected challenges that push them to their limits and ultimately threaten Christmas for children around the world. But in the end, these two elves work together to guide Santa through a raging snowstorm in order to save Christmas.

Prep & Landing, which first debuted in 2009 as ABC TV’s first animated television special produced by Walt Disney Animation Studios, features the voice talents of DaveFoley (Disney●Pixar’s A Bug’s Life, Toy Story 2, Cars) as Wayne, Derek Richardson (TV’s Men in Trees) as Lanny, Sarah Chalke (TV’s Scrubs and Roseanne) as Magee, Mason Vale Cotton (TV’s Desperate Housewives) as Timmy Terwelp, David DeLuise  (Disney Channel’s Wizards of Waverley Place) as Dancer, Peter Jacobson (TV’s House M.D., Transformers) as Waterkotte, Lino DiSalvo (Disney’s Bolt) as Gristletoe Joe, William Morgan Sheppard (Transformers, The Prestige) as The Big Guy, Nathan Greno (Disney’s Bolt, Meet The Robinsons) as Dasher, Hayes MacArthur (Life As We Know It, She’s Out Of My League) as Thrasher and Kasha Kropinski (Fame, Big Fish) as Miss Holly.

Bonus Features:
·       Prep & Landing Stocking Stuffer Shorts:
—      Tiny’s Big Adventure — The assistant to the North Pole Christmas Eve Command Center is trying to make a pot of coffee and in the process, accidentally ruins the elves’ break room
—     Operation Secret Santa — Lead elves Lanny and Wayne are sent on a special assignment by Mrs. Clause (voice of Betty White) into Santa’s office
·       Prep & Landing Kringle Academy Training Videos — Entertaining Elf training videos shot in Santa’s workshop
— Fruitcake Factory/Spa Navidad
—      Welcome to Kringle Academy
—      Kringle Academy Equipment Training
—      Academy Do’s and Don’ts

Disc Specifications:
STREET DATES:  November 22, 2011
Direct prebook:                         September 27, 2011
Distributor prebook:                   October 11, 2011

Release Format:                  1-Disc DVD
Suggested Retail Price:          $19.99 U.S. / $24.99 Canada
Feature Run Time:                 22-minutes
Rated:                         TV-G (bonus material not yet rated)

Presentation:                           16×9 Widescreen
Audio & Languages:                English 5.1 Dolby Digital, French Canadian 5.1 Dolby Digital, Latin Spanish 5.1 Dolby Digital
Subtitles:                                French & Spanish

“The Adventures Of Tintin: Season One” Makes U.S. DVD Debut

The all-time classic comic strip comes to life as an animated adventure in this complete Season One DVD release on November 22 from Shout! Factory, in association with Corus Entertainment Inc.’s Nelvana Enterprises. For the first time ever in the U.S., fans can join in the raucous adventures of Tintin and his loyal dog Snowy. Experience the excitement and wonder of The Adventures of Tintin at home before you head to the theaters for the brand new major motion picture that weaves in elements from the stories The Secret of the Unicorn, The Crab with the Golden Claws, and Red Rackham’s Treasures that are among the first five episodes of the series and included on this DVD set.

Adapted from the long-running graphic novels by the late cartoon artist Hergé (a.k.a. Georges Remi), the popular animated TV series The Adventures of Tintin, co-produced by Nelvana and Ellipsanime Productions, chronicles the young and intrepid investigative reporter Tintin and his faithful dog Snowy, along with Captain Haddock, the muddled genius Professor Calculus, and the bumbling detectives Thompson and Thomson as they embark on incredible globe-trotting adventures full of excitement, mind-boggling mystery and fun.

Originally created as a French comic strip in the late 1920s, The Adventures of Tintin spawned a series of popular graphic novels, translated in 80 languages and published in over 50 countries. Throughout the years, Tintin and a unique cast of characters have evolved into memorable animated TV series (1990s), a BBC radio series (1992), stage plays, as well as the upcoming 3D motion capture feature film The Adventures of Tintin: The Secret of the Unicorn.

The complete first season of the award-winning series is now available for your enjoyment with 13 original episodes on 2 adventure-packed DVDs!

Season One Episode List:

Disc 1
The Crab With The Golden Claws, Part 1
The Crab With The Golden Claws, Part 2
The Secret Of The Unicorn, Part 1
The Secret Of The Unicorn, Part 2
Red Rackham’s Treasure
Cigars Of The Pharaoh, Part 1
Cigars Of The Pharaoh, Part 2
Disc 2
The Blue Lotus, Part 1
The Blue Lotus, Part 2
The Black Island, Part 1
The Black Island, Part 2
The Calculus Affair, Part 1
The Calculus Affair, Part 2

Street Date: 11/22/11
UPC: 826663125016
MSRP: $19.93
Languages: English, Spanish
Total Running Time: +/- 5 hours

VFX House Pixomondo Hires Simon Mowbray

Los Angeles, CA (November 17, 2011) – Industry veteran Simon Mowbray has joined international visual effects company Pixomondo as a Creative Director developing and executing concepts for commercial projects. Based out of Los Angeles, one of Pixomondo’s 11 studios around the world, Mowbray brings a wealth of experience as both a creative visionary and production visual effects artist.

Mowbray comes to Pixomondo from Ntropic where he served as Creative Director and VFX Supervisor since 2009. Prior to joining Ntropic, Mowbray spent 13 years as the Vice President and Creative Director of Radium, a boutique design and visual effects company he co-founded with current Pixomondo Executive Creative Director Jonathan Keeton.

At Ntropic, Mowbray worked on projects for clients including Haagen Dazs, Lowes, and Lincoln, as well as on a number of music videos for top artists such as Rihanna. At Radium, he and partner Keeton grew the company from a 10-person San Francisco-based shop to over 80 employees in both LA and SF, eventually selling the company to Reel FX in 2007. Radium worked on hundreds of film and television commercial projects over the years including multiple MTV Award-nominated music videos and high-profile campaigns for Target, Honda, and Lexus, among others.

“Until now, most of the companies I have worked with have been boutiques, and what’s most exciting about joining Pixomondo is linking in to a network of over 650 artists around the world, and an opportunity to tackle much bigger projects,” said Mowbray. “The caliber of talent and projects at Pixomondo was a huge draw. They have an amazing body of work, both in commercials and features. It’s exciting to be involved with a company on the rise, especially one with so many resources at their disposal.”

“Not only is Simon quite possibly one of the best Flame/Inferno artists living and highly skilled with Nuke and Maya, he is also very gifted at conceptualizing original concepts and executing them flawlessly,” said Jonathan Keeton, Pixomondo Executive Creative Director. “He is fantastic with clients, from the beginning stages of a project throughout production, and we are thrilled to have him on board at Pixomondo.”

Before forming Radium, Mowbray worked for several years at the San Francisco-based digital production and design studio Western Images. With a strong background in computer graphics and design, Mowbray moved to Montreal in 1991 from Sydney, Australia where honed his skills in digital visual effects at VFX software companies Softimage and Discreet.

The Definitive History of UPA To Be Published in 2012

When Magoo Flew

If you are planning to buy the two sets of UPA cartoons that Jerry posted about, you would do well to also pick up the forthcoming history of the UPA studio, When Magoo Flew: The Rise and Fall of Animation Studio UPA by Adam Abraham. As far as I know, the book and the DVDs weren’t planned together, but the stars are aligned, and one of the most important yet neglected animation studios of all time is ripe for rediscovery in 2012.

I’ve already read Adam’s book and I’m happy to report that he gets it absolutely right. The research is impeccable, the writing solid, the story fascinating. Though the book includes over 70 illustrations, it’s more narrative history than coffeetable art book, but that’s hardly an issue anymore thanks to the two companion DVD sets that contain UPA’s entire theatrical short output. The 324-page When Magoo Flew will be released by Wesleyan University Press next March. Place your pre-order on Amazon for a mere $20.

UPA Cartoons Are Coming to DVD

Here they come – at long last. Columbia Pictures classic collection of UPA cartoons will soon be available as you’ve never seen them before. These revolutionary mid-century cartoons, in restored form – with as many of the original theatrical titles returned as possible – are a revelation. Full vibrant colors, clean sharp prints, crystal clear sound. The complete library of these films will be available on two separate sets, from two separate companies (sub-licensed from Sony). First up, TCM will make available on March 5th UPA Jolly Frolics. This 3-disc set contains 38 cartoons, including Gerald McBoing Boing, Rooty Toot Toot, The Tell Tale Heart and the rare Ham & Hattie shorts, a video introduction by Leonard Maltin, audio commentaries on select cartoons by Maltin and yours truly, Jerry Beck, UPA studio art consisting of model sheets, concept paintings, storyboards, background paintings and more. This set will only be available via mail order through TCM’s website. Pre-order it NOW!

On June 19th, Shout Factory will release The Mr. Magoo Theatrical Collection which will include all the original Magoo theatricals, including the Oscar winners When Magoo Flew and Magoo’s Puddle Jumper (both in letter boxed CinemaScope). Bonus materials include rare pencil tests, audio commentaries by the likes of Emily Hubley, John Canemaker, Charles Solomon and much much more. I will be telling you more details about these two amazing DVD collections as we get closer to each release date – but it wouldn’t hurt to pre-order them now. Here’s the Magoo Amazon link.

How Jon Klassen Leapt from Animation to Children’s Books

Welcome to a new column by Chris Arrant who is also the editor of CB Biz. In today’s inaugural column, he profiles artist Jon Klassen:

Jon Klassen might have made his first big splash as an animator, but in recent years he’s followed the path of animators like Mo Willems and Tony Fucile and applied his illustrative talents toward the picture book medium. After working as a concept artist and illustrator on films like Coraline and Kung Fu Panda 2, the Los Angeles-based artist is focusing the majority of his time on his burgeoning bibliography of illustrated children’s storybooks like Cats’ Night Out and The Incorrigible Children of Ashton Place series.

Klassen tells Cartoon Brew that making the leap to children’s book wasn’t as dramatic as it might have been in years past. “It’s pretty fantastic,” he said. “The tools to make illustration or film are merging closer together, and the more you jump back and forth, the more you see how they overlap even at the conceptual stage. I think that illustrators are finding themselves trying out more animation than they would’ve before, and people who are in animation are trying out more print stuff. Hopefully it leads to a lot of fresh work.”

Klassen has illustrated a number of print picture books over the years, but it’s his most recent, I Want My Hat Back, that holds a special place for him because it’s the first he wrote himself.  Released in September by Candlewick Press, it was chosen a couple weeks ago as one of The New York Times Book Review’s Ten Best Illustrated Books of the Year.

“I’d never written anything for real before, and the formality of writing was really making me nervous, so it was a relief to try everything in dialog instead of narration,” Klassen explained. “The stiffness of everything in the book comes from my nervousness about the idea of trying a book, but it was fun to use that in the story itself. Also I wanted to do something that looked simple, and when you’re illustrating something for somebody else you get nervous about submitting something too simple for fear it’ll look lazy, so it was nice to give myself the excuse. The story really happened on its own once the tone was set. I got lucky there.”

Although picture books might seem like a long way from animation, the list of animators who have moonlighted as picture book illustrators is a who’s who of animation history: Tom McKimson, Pete Alvarado, Hawley Pratt, Al Dempster, Tony Rizzo, Eyvind Earle, Mary Blair, Paul Julian, Bob Dranko, Chris Jenkyns, and Campbell Grant, to name just a few Golden Age artists. Klassen came to work in picture books as an adult after realizing how much they influenced his early stabs at animation.

“After I got into the design and illustration end of animation, I realized how big a deal those books were and are to me. The amount of mood you remember from even pretty simple books is so cool,” he said. “I’ve wanted to do books since the beginning, probably, but it’s one of those things you sort of feel like you need to get invited to do.”

In a break from his drawing board, Klassen teaches a class at CalArts on Wednesdays titled Illustration for Animation, and he readily admitted that “it’s as vague as it sounds.”

“I’ve never taught a class before so I’m feeling my way through it,” Klassen said, “but mainly I’m trying to get them to think past the fact that they are already pretty good at drawing things and get into the reasons why they are drawing what they are drawing. They’re doing so much work on their own, technically they’re always going to get better anyway, so I’m trying to work on thinking about their approach before the drawing starts. That can be useful in all sorts of different jobs.”

Klassen’s own student animation, “An Eye For An Annai,” created with Dan Rodrigues during their third year at Sheridan College’s Classical Animation Program.

Speaking of different jobs, picture books aren’t the only place you’ll find Klassen’s work. He’s also contributed editorial illustrations to a number of newspapers and magazines, including a recent piece for The New York Times. Although he says picture books were initially his primary goal, he enjoys the unique nature of creating editorial illustrations.

“Smaller scale jobs like that, when they come along and when the schedule suits, are really fun because the turnaround is so quick,” Klassen said. “With a book you have to wait around a year between finishing it and showing it to people, and with editorial work you finish it on Thursday and it’s out on Sunday. I’m not sure it’s what I’m best at, but it’s nice when you get asked to do it.”

Cover illustration for the “New York Times Book Review,” focused on a review of “The Grief of Others” by Leah Hager Cohen.

One thing that Klassen is always asked by admirers of his work is when and where he’ll show up next in animation. Although his main focus remains on books nowadays, animation is finding a way back into his life. “I do try to keep a toe in animation, though mostly on smaller scale stuff,” he said. “With the hardware that’s out there now, book publishers are looking harder at developing stories digitally. I think one of the things they’re looking for is kind of a replacement for a page turn, something to move the story from point to point at your own pace, but without making so interactive that you stop feeling like you’re being told a story in a controlled way.”

“One of the big differences between books and animation or film in general is that with books you can play with the idea that the viewer is moving at their own speed through the story, whereas with film you are controlling their time,” he said. “There are advantages to both, but if you could bring some of what is fun about moving through the kind of space a film creates into the experience of reading a story at your own pace, it could be a really nice middle ground. It could also be really lame. I guess we’ll see.” Chances are if Klassen’s involved, it’ll be something worth our time.

Concept art for “Coraline.”

Blockhouse TV Releases Second “Jack and Holly” DVD

Norwich, United Kingdom, November 19, 2011 –(– Blockhouse TV announces the release date of the second DVD title in the Jack and Holly series.

The second DVD which is called Jack and Holly’s Cosmic Stories features the intergalactic capers of best friends Jack and Holly as they dispel some of the myths surrounding the cosmos and educate first stage learners about the complexities of the universe.

This second film follows the familiar animated style of Jack and Holly’s Christmas Countdown – once again using their distinctive machinima and mixed-media animation techniques.

Julianne Martin, executive producer of the series says, “We’re sure that children everywhere will be delighted with the new adventures of Jack and Holly and that this DVD will form an integral mile-stone in the Jack and Holly series. It took just over 18 months to complete and once again parents and teachers were involved in the production throughout – guiding us as to what they felt was appropriate and best for first stage learning.”

Blockhouse TV is renowned for taking on the big studio productions with their low-budget but high quality children’s productions. “We’re a tiny team with a fraction of the Hollywood big studios budget,” says Julianne. “But we’re delivering the sort of original content parents are looking for. Children’s screen time has never been more contentious -that’s why we believe all children’s media should aspire to the highest educative standards.”

Jack and Holly’s Cosmic Storie
s is released on December 1st 2011.

Available through Amazon as an all-regions DVD release (PAL & NTSC) and Video Download. (Customers are able to download free workbooks and comics to accompany the paid-for videos.)

For more information visit the Jack and website OR contact [email protected]

Smithsonian Channel to Air Special “Arthur Christmas” Segment Featuring NASA Spinoff Technology

WASHINGTON, Nov. 21, 2011 /PRNewswire via COMTEX/ — Have you ever been curious about where all the technology in your school, home, car, computer, or office comes from? You might be surprised that a great percentage of the technology we rely on each day was developed or enhanced by NASA. We all know about NASA’s outstanding accomplishments in space, but few of us know just how much the space agency has accomplished right here at home. Except for Arthur. Arthur Christmas, that is.

This year in the holiday release of Arthur Christmas, Santa’s North Pole has turned to high technology to run a precise operation in getting billions of gifts delivered around the world. Run by thousands of computer-savvy elves, the North Pole uses NASA-style technology to track the delivery of gifts around the Earth as they are being delivered by Santa’s high speed S-1. The S-1 is a giant spacecraft in the shape of a sleigh.

Sony Pictures Animation team created a special one-minute segment from the film to help bring attention to the many high tech gadgets and everyday items that come from NASA technology. The educational segment will premiere on the Smithsonian Channel during primetime on Tuesday, Nov. 22. It also can be downloaded for use by educators and media at:

“This was an exciting opportunity for us to have real examples of space technology being used right here on Earth featured in a family holiday film,” said Daniel Lockney, NASA’s technology transfer program executive at NASA Headquarters in Washington. “NASA is constantly creating innovative technologies to enable our current and future missions. Many of these technologies get further developed and turned into consumer products by American industries, creating jobs, fueling the economy, and saving and improving lives around the planet.”

NASA’s technology transfer program provides corporations and innovators with opportunities to bring technology initially developed for space to consumers around the world. Hundreds of examples of NASA spinoff technologies and innovations that have become viable commercial products and are now used in our everyday lives can be found at NASA’s Spinoff website:

Sony Pictures Animation is the creator of Arthur Christmas, directed by Sarah Smith. The film is a 3D holiday feature animation, starring the voices of James McAvoy, Jim Broadbent, Bill Nighy and Imelda Staunton. Sony Pictures Animation is one of the leading animation companies in the industry, producing exciting and advanced animated family entertainment.

Arthur Christmas opens Nov. 23.

Call For Entries: British Animation Awards

Friday 18th November 2011: The  British Animation Awards has today launched its final call for entries to the UK’s most prestigious awards in animation production and announced the search for the Favourite Ever British Animated Character of all time.

There are several new categories including the WOW! award for inspirational use of animation, Best Mixed Media Children’s Series, a BAA Sting Competition and increased commercial categories with separate awards now on offer for 2D, 3D and stop motion.

Given the current debate about the future of animation production in the UK this year BAA is running an online poll and discussion forum to determine the UK’s Favourite Ever British Animated Character of all time. To celebrate the rich heritage of notable and well-loved animated characters in this country, BAA is asking for nominations across TV, online and advertising for consideration for their shortlist which will be voted for by the public in the New Year. The winner will be announced at next year’s British Animation Awards ceremony.

The 2012 awards will be held in London on Thursday March 15th 2012 at the BFI, with the closing date for entries on the 30th November 2011 (apart from the BAA Sting Award and Best Ever British Animated Character).

The complete list of categories for the 2012 awards is:  Best Children’s Pre School Series, Best Children’s Series, Best Mixed Media Children’s Series, Best Music Video, Best Commercial: 2D, Best Commercial: 3D, Best Commercial: Stop Motion, Best Commercial: Mixed Media, Best Film/TV Graphics, Best Short Film, Best Animation: Long Form, Best Commissioned Animation: Non-Broadcast and the WOW award for animation used innovative or unusual ways.

In addition, there will be a Children’s Choice Award (chosen by a panel of children from finalists in the children’s category) and a Public Choice (voted for by cinema-goers across the country) and the BAA Sting Competition an exciting new category where animators are being asked to create a special sting for the Awards.

BAA director Jayne Pilling said:  “The last two years have been a successful and innovative but difficult period for British animation and at the BAA’s we’re looking forward to celebrating the very best the UK industry has to offer”.

Held every two years, the BAAs celebrate and recognise British animation talent, with past winners including Nick Park, Tim Burton and David Shrigley.

Voted by peer-group juries, with additional Awards voted for by the public, the British Animation Awards is the only ceremony in Britain to recognise all forms of animation. They reward the work of students and established animators, feature and short films, animated graphics for film and television, children’s and adult television series and specials, music videos and commercials.

Entry forms and additional information can be found at

“Happy Feet” and “Putty Tat” talkback

Manohla Dargis in the New York Times said it’s “Lighter in mood, softer in political outlook and less narratively ambitious than the first”. Kenneth Turan in the Los Angeles Times was similarly luke warm, saying “Seeing thousands of penguins dance with Rockettes-like precision is still a kick, but coherent storytelling goes missing.” Happy Feet Two opens this weekend. I haven’t seen it yet, but I’d be curious to know what you think.

More importantly, the film opens with a new 3-minute three-dimensional CG Looney Tunes short, I Tawt I Taw a Putty Tat, with voices by Mel Blanc (from a 1951 recording) and June Foray. I have seen this short and think it’s great tribute to Blanc – and perhaps the most visually spectacular of the modern day Looney Tunes. (I’ll be posting an interview with director Matt O’Callaghan next week). If you’ve seen this, let us know what you think in the comments section below.

Comments accepted on Happy Feet Two and/or I Tawt I Taw A Putty Tat only if you’ve seen the films (all other comments will be deleted).

Mark Hall, co-creator of “DangerMouse”, Passes Away At Age 75

The Associated Press is reporting that Mark Hall, co-creator of the popular British children’s animation series DangerMouse, Count Duckula and Jamie and his Magic Torch, passed away last night at the age of 75. After working for Granada TV in the 60s, Hall and Brian Cosgrove founded the animation company Cosgrove Hall Productions in 1976 and created a number of animated series such as DangerMouse and even the animated version of Kenneth Grahame’s book Wind in the Willows. After retiring in 2000, Hall recently reconstituted his partnership with Cosgove with plans to create new works. Hall’s son Simon plans to continue his father’s work.

“Adventure Time: It Came From the Nightosphere” on DVD on March 6, 2012

“Oh My Glob!” Adventure Time is coming back to DVD! On the heels of a successful home entertainment debut for Cartoon Network‘s breakout smash hit comedy series, Adventure Time will once again wreak havoc on the DVD shelves at all major retailers across the nation with the release of Adventure Time: It Came From the Nightosphere on March 6, 2012. Starring Jake the dog and Finn the human – not to mention the rock-loving Marceline, bodacious Lumpy Space Princess, frigid Ice King and many others – this sophomore release from the Emmy® Award-nominated series will include 16 fun and exciting episodes from the series’ three magical seasons, plus a “Little Did You Know” character profile bonus feature. Adventure Time: It Came From the Nightosphere will be available on DVD for the suggested retail price of $19.82 and will be available for retailer pre-order until January 31, 2012.

“The fan, industry and retail response to Adventure Time has been nothing short of phenomenal and our second DVD release will only continue to build on the momentum surrounding the brand,” said Erik Resnick, vice president of home entertainment, CNE. “With Adventure Time: It Came From the Nightosphere, we’ve increased the number of episodes included from 12 to 16 to give fans even more of what they want, and we look forward to building this DVD franchise with future episodic and season collectible sets in the coming months.”

The full list of 16 episodes featured in the Adventure Time: It Came From the Nightosphere DVD is:

It Came From the Nightosphere
Rainy Day Daydream
Power Animal
Slumber Party Panic
The Real You
Memory of a Memory
Prisoners of Love
Crystals Have Power
Business Time
Mystery Train
Guardians of Sunshine
The Monster
Hit Man
The Creeps

Cartoon Network will support the release of Adventure Time: It Came From the Nightosphere with targeted on-air advertising spots on Cartoon Network as well as a kid-focused online marketing campaign on and other kid and parent targeted websites. Additionally, Adventure Time continues to dominate and grow at retail across a multitude of product categories, including toys, apparel, accessories and much more. The toy line from Jazwares has been a hit since its debut at Toys”R”Us this fall and will continue to expand SKUs and retailers throughout the spring, while the line of apparel, accessories, calendars, sleepwear and more continue to grow for the brand each week.

Complete Series “The Head” Now Available on

The Head, which ran from 1994 to 1996, revolves around a young man who teams up with an alien, that had been living inside his head, to save the world from an enemy alien. The creator, Eric Fogel, sought to highlight the problems of uniformity and intolerance existent in present-day society. The show spawned a VHS and DVD collection, as well as a graphic novel in 1996. The Head is the 5th series, joining Aeon Flux, The Maxx, Wonder Showzen, and Liquid Television on the site.

About the Show: The Head follows the story of Jim, a student from New York City, who wakes up one day to find his head has grown to a ghastly size. An alien named Roy soon emerges from his head, telling him he had inhabited his head to adapt to Earth’s environment. Jim and Roy team up in order to stop an enemy alien Gork from taking over the planet, and in the process, assemble a group of freaks that struggle not only against their alien foe, but against society itself.


The Seymour Kneitel Blog

To heck with the Chuck Jones and Tex Avery blogs, and forget about all the Disney sites… Here’s what I wanted and now I got my wish: The Seymour Kneitel blog.

Seymour who? Kneitel was head animator at the Fleischer Studios during its hey day and became a director and partner in Paramount’s Famous Studios after the Fleischer brother’s ouster. His being Max’s son-in-law didn’t hurt. Kneitel was responsible for bringing Casper The Friendly Ghost, Little Audrey, Herman and Katip and Baby Huey to the screen – in addition to stewarding Popeye and Little Lulu cartoons to the Technicolor screen.

The site is now online with its first posts including rare images, behind the scenes info, including a page from Seymour’s original Famous Studios contract with Paramount. Ginny Mahoney, Seymour’s daughter, is moderating the site. Bookmark it.

“The Annoying Orange” Comes to Cartoon Network

Iconic internet phenomenon The Annoying Orange is breaking out of the virtual kitchen as Cartoon Network announced today they’ve acquired the television rights to the most-watched web series of all-time. Inspired by the viral sensation watched by millions on YouTube, a new half-hour television series will premiere in 2012 as part of Cartoon Network’s original programming block.

Created by Dane Boedigheimer and produced by leading entertainment management and production company The Collective, The Annoying Orange features an endearingly annoying and highly entertaining Orange that playfully heckles other fruits, vegetables or nearby objects with puns and jokes. The television series is the latest brand extension for The Annoying Orange, which has already taken the internet by storm. To date, The Annoying Orange Web series has racked up over 850 million total views on its dedicated channel on YouTube as of September 2011, and with new episodes debuting every Friday, it continues to attract millions of views and new fans each week. The Annoying Orange is the ninth-most-subscribed YouTube channel of all time with more than two million subscribers and has over 10 million fans on Facebook and Twitter. The popularity has also translated over to the official web site,, which generates nearly four million page views each month.

Now YouTube’s favorite fruit is embarking on an all-new high fructose animated adventure on Cartoon Network. The television series follows Orange and his band of buddies as they travel through time in a magical fruit cart. From Prehistoric Era to Colonial Times, Orange and the rest of the Kitchen Crew are dropped into random adventures and forced to squeeze their way out. Joining Orange on his escapades are his fellow popular produce pals from the web series including Pear, Passion Fruit, Apple, Marshmallow and his nemesis Grapefruit.

The continued robust success of The Annoying Orange on the internet will present a truly unique promotional platform for the television series. Cartoon Network will work with The Collective to mobilize and motivate the property’s tremendous fan base through You Tube and via the short-form original content that will continue to be produced separate from the television program — and can be used to drive tune-in messaging in an innovative manner.

The Annoying Orange and Cartoon Network were just meant to be squeezed together,” said Rob Sorcher, chief content officer for Cartoon Network.

The television series was developed and will be produced by The Collective, which also financed the pilot before shopping it to broadcasters. Dane Boedigheimer co-created the television series with Tom Sheppard (Emmy Award-winning writer for Pinky and the Brain). Conrad Vernon (director of Madagascar 3 and Monsters vs. Aliens) will serve as executive producer for the series along with Gary Binkow and Dan Weinstein of The Collective.

“Two years ago when I launched The Annoying Orange, I never imagined that my unhealthy obsession with talking fruit would become such a phenomenon” said creator Dane Boedigheimer. “I’m really excited to bring a new version to Cartoon Network.”

“We want to continue to ensure that The Annoying Orange’s huge and loyal audience can enjoy the fruits of Dane’s creative vision whenever and wherever they want,” said Michael Green, CEO of The Collective. “Our model at The Collective is to partner with creative artists to build global brands across all possible platforms and we could not be more excited to join forces with the Cartoon Network to extend the magic of this property to cable television.”

The television deal comes as the first wave of The Annoying Orange licensed merchandise is being met with strong demand at retail. Leading the way is an ap”peal”ing line of apparel and accessories that began to roll out in October at JC Penney locations nationwide. The highly-anticipated debut toy line from master toy partner The Bridge Direct, Inc. which features a collection of talking plush, clip-ons and collectible figures will hit specialty retailers including Toys “R” Us and RadioShack in time for the holiday gift giving season. Meanwhile, The Annoying Orange: Kitchen Carnage app is now available for iPhone and Android.

“The Art of Lenord Robinson”: Published Sketchbook Reveals Veteran Animator’s Creative Process

Thousand Oaks, CA ¬— Animator Lenord Robinson has released The Art of Lenord Robinson, a series of sketches that capture the artist’s creative process. The book features drawings in multiple media of cartoon animals, rascally kids, rugged heroes and beautiful women–the types of characters who have populated Mr. Robinson’s three decades in the animation industry.

The book’s subjects honor the noted animation producers that highlight Mr. Robinson’s professional credits. Free-spirited nudes recall the works of Ralph Bakshi, who employed Mr. Robinson as a young animator on his 1978 version of Lord of the Rings. Stalwart men and children in various states of diversion and disobedience invoke Disney protagonists. Mr. Robinson worked on several Disney animated productions including The Fox and Hound and The Black Cauldron. A menagerie of cartoon animals conjures the lineup of Warner Bros. Animation, where Mr. Robinson directed episodes of Animaniacs and Tazmania.

“I created the book to inspire other artists to do likewise,” said Mr. Robinson. “These are fun drawings I make throughout my day. They inspire me and give me an outlet for my creativity. Artists, art lovers and animation fans will be able to relate to them with humor and emotion.”

To purchase The Art of Lenord Robinson, visit

Title: The Art of Lenord Robinson
Format: Perfect bound
Publication Date: 2011
Price: $11.95
Available From: The Art of Fiction, U.S.A.
Author: Lenord Robinson
ISBN: 978-1-937048-01-3
Pages: 60
Size: 5”x8”