News Around The Net For Monday, November 14, 2011

Disney Releases First Image from PIXAR’s Small Fry (AnimationMagazine)

Lux Animation Set To Do Cesc Gay’s The Triplets and the Machine That Runs The World (Variety)

New 3D Looney Toons Short To Premiere In Theatres with Happy Feet 2 (DailyBlam)

Warner Greenlights Lego Animated Feature (Variety)

Immortals Director Wants To Do Live Action Samurai Jack (THR)

Classic Chinese Animated Film “Havoc In Heaven” Set For Remake
(China.org.cn)

Viacom Debates Ratings Drop For Nickelodeon (TVWeek)

Disney To Release “Lady & The Tramp” & “Cinderella” In Diamond Collection Line-Up

Burbank, Calif., November 11, 2011 — The Walt Disney Studios proudly announces the addition of Lady and the Tramp and Cinderella to its coveted, cutting-edge Blu-rayâ„¢ Diamond Collection line-up of animated classics. Released from the Disney vault for a limited time only, the lovingly pampered cocker spaniel and the mutt from across the tracks will unveil on February 7, 2012 and Cinderella’s clock will strike midnight in Fall 2012.

Disney’s Blu-ray Diamond Collection represents The Walt Disney Studios’ most prestigious and treasured animated classics. Diamond Edition titles boast the highest level of picture and sound; feature groundbreaking, state-of-the-art immersive bonus content; and include unprecedented levels of interactivity, personalization and customization, made possible because of Blu-ray technology.

To date, the company has released four Diamond Edition titles — Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, Beauty and the Beast, Bambi and The Lion King.

Call For Entries: Holland Animation Film Festival


Holland Animation Film Festival invites you to submit films for the following competitions:

competition features
The second edition of the international competition for feature-length animation films.

competition shorts
International competition in the categories narrative and non-narrative.

competition European student films
Open for all European films produced at art and film academies, or comparable studies.

competition Dutch animation (audience award)
Open only for Dutch productions, shorts, student films,TV films and commisioned films (shorts and student films can also enter those competitions through the same entry form)

How to apply
The entry form for all competitions is available at www.haff.nl. To apply a film for HAFF 2012 you need to create your own MyHAFF account. You will find all information at haff.nl.

Holland Animation Film Festival, the unique five-day international meeting place for all professionals, animation lovers, producers, students, upcoming talents and all interested audiences. Featuring retrospectives, thematic programmes, master classes, talk shows, exhibitions, installations, SFX/VFX and much more.

Holland Animation Film Festival
15th edition, 28 March – 1 April 2012
www.haff.nl
[email protected]

Submit your film now at www.haff.nl
Deadline entries: 4 January 2012

SIGGRAPH Asia Returning to Singapore in 2012

ACM SIGGRAPH has announced the return of the SIGGRAPH Asia series to its birthplace — Singapore. The 5th ACM SIGGRAPH Conference and Exhibition on Computer Graphics and Interactive Techniques in Asia will be held from 28 November to 1 December 2012 at Suntec Singapore.

SIGGRAPH Asia 2012 will be chaired by Professor Susanto Rahardja from the Institute for Infocomm Research, Singapore. An IEEE Fellow, Professor Rahardja is the Deputy Executive Director (Research) of the Institute for Infocomm Research. He was past Chair of several international conferences and has served on various boards, advisory, and technical committees in ACM, IEEE, and SPIE-related professional activities in the areas of interactive digital media.

SIGGRAPH Asia 2012 will continue its tradition of serving as the premier platform for the advancement of graphics, animation, art, and technology. The event is expected to draw conference attendees, exhibition visitors, and exhibitors from more than 50 countries worldwide.

The Call for Submissions for the conference programs will be launched in March 2012. Exhibition and sponsorship bookings will begin in December 2011. Contact us early to find out more or visit our booth at SIGGRAPH Asia 2011 from 12 to 15 December in Hong Kong.

“Pocoyo” Creator To Be Listed On NY Stock Exchange Over-The-Counter Markets

Madrid, 10 November, 2011.- Zinkia, a Spanish company specializing in entertainment brand production and management and creator of the multi award-winning property Pocoyo, has received authorization from the US securities market regulator, SEC (the Securities Exchange Commission), for an issue of Level-1 ADRs (American Depositary Receipts) on Zinkia shares earmarked for placement among US investors. Each ADR will represent 5 Zinkia ordinary shares and will be listed on the Over the Counter markets (OTC) of the New York Stock Exchange.

An ADR is a physical certificate that endorses the deposit of shares in a US bank for companies that have been established outside the United States. In the case of Zinkia, the depository institution for the ADRs is The Bank of New York Mellon, while the custodian in Spain for the underlying shares is the BBVA. ADRs are traded and settled in accordance with the regulation of US stock exchanges and speeds up payments of dividends in American dollars.

This transaction will let the production company diversify its investment base, as well as improve its positioning in the US market, essential for company development. This operation does not involve a capital increase or an increase in financing for Zinkia, as it is executed on existing shares.

Nick Jr. Donates To Belfast Nursery School for “Help Dora Help” Campaign


Nick Jr., Nickelodeon’s award winning pre-school channel, today announces that Hope Nursery School in Belfast will receive £20,000 funding, as they drew the greatest number of public votes in the channel’s nationwide social responsibility campaign Help Dora Help.

Help Dora Help launched in May, supported by The Prince’s Foundation for Children and the Arts. The campaign encourages pre-schoolers to learn through exploration. One in five UK nurseries/pre schools registered for a free activity pack and were invited to apply for the grant, by explaining how the nursery would benefit and designing a Dora themed backpack. Five nurseries were selected as finalists by Nick Jr.’s expert judging panel and the ultimate winner was decided by public vote.

Hope Nursery submitted a compelling case, stating their intention to use funds to enhance the landscape of their outdoor play area and build new play facilities allowing children to engage in creative, physical and imaginative play.

Julianne Fleming, Nursery Teacher at Hope Nursery School, said: “We are absolutely delighted to have won this generous funding. The children, staff and parents embraced the challenge and it’s brought the community together too.  We worked hard to create a real buzz around the nursery being shortlisted and it’s obviously paid off with so many people voting for us. The money will be so well spent here and we look forward to putting our plans into action.”

Tracey Seawright, a Parent at Hope Nursery, said:  “The staff and children of Hope fully deserve the number one slot in this competition! The win has been celebrated throughout the whole community so in effect this was not just a win for Hope Nursery but a win for the Shankill, Belfast and beyond.”

Tina McCann, MD Nickelodeon UK, said: “We’re delighted that Hope Nursery have been chosen to receive the Help Dora Help award fund, they are worthy winners. From the start of the campaign our aim was to encourage pre-schoolers to explore their worlds, so in addition to making a difference to Hope Nursery, we’re also proud to have worked with so many nurseries and pre-schools across the UK to encourage a sense of adventure in pre-schoolers.”

Jeremy Newton, Chief Executive of The Prince’s Foundation for Children & the Arts said: “Hope Nursery’s bid was a very compelling and creative proposal and represented an area that will significantly benefit from the award fund.  So we are thrilled they will be able to use the funding to enhance their children’s early learning experiences and development.”

Hope Nursery received 4343 votes from a total of 11561 which was a majority of 38%. The shortlisted finalists were Alfriston Pre-School, East Sussex, England. Beaufort Hill Nursery, Gwent, Wales. Bradford Academy, Yorkshire, England, Hope Nursery School, Belfast, Northern Ireland. Overtown Community Nursery, Wisham, Scotland.

Reel FX Creates CG Animation For Radio City Rockettes Feature

Reel FX reveals details of its stereoscopic CG animation for Humbugged: Rockettes to the Rescue — a unique scene within the 2011 Radio City Christmas Spectacular, starring the world-famous Radio City Rockettes —The Rockettes Magical Journey which opens Friday, November 11th, 2011. 

Reel FX delivered a total of seven and a half minutes of stereoscopic CG content which will be featured on a massive 3D LED wall on-stage during the show. Reel FX Producer Greg Lyons, Digital Supervisor Glo Minaya and Senior VFX Supervisor Augusto Schillaci worked closely with Director and Choreographer of the Radio City Christmas Spectacular, Linda Haberman, and senior vice president, production, Madison Square Garden Entertainment Larry Sedwick from the pre-production and conceptual stages to the final dress rehearsals. The goal was to achieve a level of seamless integration between the stereoscopic imagery and live-action performers and to give audiences a new experience. Tickets are currently on sale for the annual holiday production, which runs through Monday, January 2nd, 2012 at Radio City Music Hall in New York City.

In the scene Humbugged: Rockettes to the Rescue, the Radio City Rockettes free all the Christmas toys held captive in the magical kingdom’s castle by the evil Humbug King, and defeat his fantastical cronies with blasts of goodhearted holiday cheer.  The piece simulates a video game in which the Rockettes perform as if they are part of the CG world, interacting with stereoscopic visual effects and larger-than-life animated characters on an expansive, floating 3D LED wall measuring 53 feet wide by 27 feet tall. Practical effects on stage also combine with matching digital effects timed simultaneously — continuing to blur the line between screen and stage.  The piece redefines what live-action integration means, by immersing live performance within a stereoscopic space. MSGE has coined the term “3DLive” to describe the new, hyper-integrated approach.

“As a leader in live entertainment, we are focused on delivering our Christmas Spectacular audiences with content that has never been presented before in a theatrical setting and utilizing advanced technology features available in today’s market, while still honoring those traditions that keep our audience returning each year,” said Larry Sedwick, senior vice president production, MSG Entertainment.  “In working with Reel FX to develop the 3DLive scene, we were able to use stereoscopic imagery as a tool to blend the live action of the Rockettes with a stereoscopic animated world and make it feel as one.”

The project was more than a year in the marking, starting with a script in pre-production, as MSG Entertainment looked to Reel FX to help develop the look and story for the CG component of “Humbugged.”  Reel FX Senior VFX Supervisor and “Humbugged’s” working Art Director, Augusto Schillaci, oversaw the crew who worked closely with Haberman to bring her video game vision to fruition. “We developed a unique overall look I refer to as stylistic realism, where assets maintain a critical-level of detail while still maintaining a whimsical sensibility.  We felt it really complemented the spirit of the show and the holiday season,” explains Schillaci.

The stereoscopic component drove much of the story and shot composition.  Layout and Stereoscopic Supervisor Troy Griffin and Haberman plotted out the storyline for the high-kicking heroines, developing a working animatic within a single week.  “Shots were carefully chosen in previs, based on how effectively they would work in stereo for the audience, for the dancers and choreography, and for the game itself,” explains Griffin.

Using a LIDAR scan of the interior of Radio City Music Hall, Griffin translated the values of the scan into Autodesk Maya to determine the precise position of each dancer onstage as well as to pinpoint key seats in the theater for evaluation of the stereo elements.  In doing so, he was able to establish the exact placement of the zero parallax to achieve the desired stereo effect.  Based on Griffin’s calculations, Haberman adjusted parts of the Rockettes’ choreography to accommodate the specific parameters determined for certain shots.  The process was a fluid progression of give-and-take between the demands of the live show and to take full advantage of the scope of stereo.

Digital Supervisor Glo Minaya describes the stereoscopic progression of the piece: “During every stage of production–from layout to final delivery–we evaluated and refined the stereoscopic properties of each asset and every visual effect, not just the camera. This was key to successfully executing the 3DLive immersive experience.”

The 3DLive approach to “Humbugged” presented unique technical developments to work within.  Massive CG environments, including a forest, castle and a gingerbread village, required an incredible amount of detail to achieve the look of “stylized realism” and to build great depth into the scene.  To produce the fine detail on the numerous trees, the team developed an entirely new proprietary “fur” system for the project, using it to generate pine tree needles which could interact with onscreen stimuli like snow and other assets.  Another scene was completely comprised of ice, including a giant CG Ice Monster character.  Since many of the environments were created in Houdini and most characters were established in Maya, inter-software shot lighting required finessing to ensure assets matched their environments seamlessly.

Producer Greg Lyons summarizes the overall experience, “From our studio’s interdepartmental collaborations, to the creative partnership between MSGE, Linda Haberman and Reel FX, ‘Humbugged’ is a testament to teamwork, cooperation and artistic synergy across the board.  Reel FX is proud to be a part of such an iconic American tradition.”

Reel FX VP of Business Development Chuck Peil adds, “We can’t wait for audiences to experience this groundbreaking 3DLive event. Our objective was to deliver a seamlessly integrated mix of visual technology and story with the incredible Radio City Rockettes as the centerpiece. We are confident that guests will feel as passionate about the unique immersive visual approach as we do.”

And the highest-grossing animated project of 2011 is…

The year isn’t over yet, but barring a record-shattering gross by Tintin or Happy Feet 2, we already know what will become the highest-grossing animated project of 2011.

Drumroll, please. . . and the film is . . .

. . . actually, it’s not a film at all. It’s a videogame:

Activision’s release of the videogame “Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3″ last Tuesday ranked as the biggest launch of any videogame in history. Within its first 24 hours of release, the game sold 6.5 million units in North America and the UK, earning $400 million dollars and well on its way to over $1 billion. “We believe the launch of ‘Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3′ is the biggest entertainment launch of all time in any medium, and we achieved this record with sales from only two territories,” claimed Bobby Kotick, CEO of Activision. By contrast, the all-time single-day movie gross record belongs to the latest installment of Harry Potter, which took in $91 million earlier this year.

Some may cry foul about comparing higher-priced games to movie ticket prices, but videogames have always cost more, and it has been only in the last few years that they have consistently challenged the dominance of feature animation grosses. Activision’s accomplishment provides an ideal moment to reflect on the growing influence of game companies like Activision and Electronic Arts on the animation community as a whole.

Some ideas to consider:
* Animation has become an integral component of contemporary games in a way that it wasn’t twenty years ago, and the quality of a lot of game animation surpasses anything you’d see in an animated TV series (not to mention some features).

* Using similar toolsets and production pipelines, game creators have achieved success by pursuing a vastly different aesthetic sensibility than traditional CG features.

* More animators in the US are likely employed in the gaming industry than are in feature animation.

All of this points to a paradigm shift taking place throughout the animation industry in which gaming is emerging as the preeminent form of cartoon entertainment. The effect that this will have on feature animation–the medium’s most prestigious format–remains to be seen over the next few decades. Perhaps animated features will begin to look more like games (an idea that filmmaker Robert Zemeckis has promoted) or perhaps they’ll push further in the opposite direction. It’s about to get interesting.

“DC Nation” by Aardman

Cartoon Network ran a preview of Warner Bros. Animation’s DC Nation programming block last night during its debut of Bruce Timm’s CG Green Lantern: The Animated Series. The Superhero Shows blog has some great frame grabs and video preview which show the range of styles for the interstitial material. Here’s a sample of the Aardman spots, which play like a super-hero version of Creature Comforts:

Music Video Roundup #1

Some days it seems that there are as many music videos as there are songs. We receive far more video submissions than we can possibly post on the site, and the number of submissions is growing all the time. That’s why we’re introducing the Music Video Round-up, a regular collection of new animated music videos. We won’t be posting every video we receive. The list will be curated to include the videos worth your time, but by creating groupings of videos in a single post, we will be able to present more videos than ever before. Also, we’ll still occasionally highlight individual music videos when the project merits greater coverage or if we have something unique to say about it. As always, keep submitting those videos, and we’ll keep posting them.

“Hurting” by David Lewandowski (US)

CREDITS

Music: Friendly Fires
Director: David Lewandowski
VFX supervisor: Dustin Bowser
Director of Photography: Christian Sprenger
Producer: Christian Heuer
Exec Producer: Laura Tunstall
Starring: Nikol Peeva, George Loomis
3D Modeling and Matchmove: Patrick Goski
2D Graphic Designer/Animator: Jake Portman
Editor: Trevor Durtschi
Additional Design: Brian Gossett
1st AC: Alyssa Soetebier
DIT: Chris Hoyle
Gaffer: Brandon Wilson
Key Grip: Yuki Noguchi
Stylist: Michelle Thompson
Makeup and Hair: Ashley Harris
PA: Mike Gammariello
Colorist: Mark Todd Osborne


“Thick As Thieves” by Kevin Parry (US)

CREDITS
Musician: Kalle Mattson
Director/Animator: Kevin Parry
Designer/Animator: Carla Veldman
Designer/Animator: Andrew Wilson
Live Action: Andrea Nesbitt


“Hired Killer” by James Reitano (US)

CREDITS
Musician: Layng Martine Jr.


“Do I Have Power” by Carlos De Carvalho

CREDITS
Director: Carlos De Carvalho
Production manager: Aude Danset De Carvalho
Animation: Pierric Danjou, Thomas Lecourt, Charles Lemor
Technical direction: Guillaume Baratte
Music: Timber Timbre
Production:Je Regarde


“Tribe” by Cyril Gfeller (UK)

CREDITS
Music: Piers Faccini
Production Company: Nomad Films Uk Limited
Producer: Spencer Wright
Director: Cyril Gfeller
Illustrator: Arnaud Mailly

Technicolor Partners with Mattel for “Barbie: A Perfect Christmas”

Paris (France) & Hollywood (California) — November 10, 2011 — Technicolor (Euronext Paris: TCH) today announces it has collaborated with the Barbie® brand to produce Barbieâ„¢: A Perfect Christmas, the latest DVD from the Barbieâ„¢ Entertainment power house franchise.  Barbieâ„¢: A Perfect Christmas is Barbie® doll’s 22nd computer-animated Barbieâ„¢ movie and was released on DVD in North America on November 8. It will be released in Europe on November 22.

Technicolor provided a full range of services for Mattel, including front-end pre-production (such as art direction, design, storyboards/storyreel, editorial, and production management), direction and computer-generated (“CG”) animation, audiovisual post-production, and DVD menus.

“Working with Steven Wendland and the Technicolor team has been terrific,” said Rob Hudnut, Executive Producer for Barbie Entertainment. “They helped us bring new characters — the sisters of Barbie — to life in a beautiful movie that we believe will be a new holiday classic.”

Technicolor also produced a five-minute short feature based on the humorous camping adventure of Barbieâ„¢ and her sisters.  The short appears on Barbieâ„¢ Entertainment’s other fall 2011 release Barbieâ„¢ Princess Charm School and on Barbieâ„¢ A Perfect Christmas.

“The team at Technicolor is delighted to have the opportunity to work with Mattel on such a prestigious global brand. This Barbie DVD has allowed us to demonstrate the full range of high-quality services we offer our clients, from design and storyboarding to post-production,” said Tim Sarnoff, President of Technicolor Digital Productions. “We look forward to continuing our relationship with Mattel to fulfill their visions on screen.”

Technicolor’s Executive Producer, Steven Wendland, brought on board Director, Mark Baldo, and Producer, Kevin Gamble, to collaborate on the project.

Fox to Air All-New “Ice Age” Christmas Special

This Thanksgiving, Fox dishes out extra helpings of family fun with two all-new animated holiday specials, Ice Age: A Mammoth Christmas and Happiness Is A Warm Blanket, Charlie Brown , premiering Thursday, Nov. 24.

In Ice Age, A Mammoth Christmas (8:00-8:30 PM ET/PT), America’s favorite arctic herd is busy decorating for the holiday season. In his rush to help, SID (John Leguizamo) destroys MANNY’s (Ray Romano) favorite decorations. Manny is so upset he convinces Sid he is now on Santa’s naughty list. Sid, CRASH (Seann William Scott), EDDIE (Josh Peck) and PEACHES (Ciara Bravo) take off for the North Pole to plead their case to SANTA (Billy Gardell). Meanwhile, Manny, ELLIE (Queen Latifah) and DIEGO (Denis Leary), worry over Peaches’ safety and race to find her. Back at the North Pole, Sid and his crew accidentally destroy Santa’s Workshop on Christmas Eve, and it’s up to these newfound friends to orchestrate a Christmas miracle.  The special, directed by Karen Disher, also features the voice talent of Chris Wedge, T.J. Miller and Judah Friedlander.

With over $4 billion in box office, home entertainment and consumer products sales, the Ice Age franchise is a perennial hit, and continues to grow with next summer’s all-new animated feature Ice Age: Continental Drift. From Twentieth Century Fox and Blue Sky Studios, the film features new characters voiced by Jennifer Lopez, Wanda Sykes, Keke Palmer, Aziz Ansari and Drake, among others. Share in the all-new adventure as they join the original cast voiced by John Leguizamo, Ray Romano, Seann William Scott, Queen Latifah and Denis Leary. Ice Age: Continental Drift arrives in theaters everywhere July 13, 2012 in 3D. In the film, Scrat’s nutty pursuit of the cursed acorn, which he’s been after since the dawn of time, has world-changing consequences — a continental cataclysm that triggers the greatest adventure of all for Manny, Diego and Sid.  In the wake of these upheavals, Sid reunites with his cantankerous Granny, and the herd encounters a ragtag menagerie of seafaring pirates determined to stop them from returning home.

Then, in Happiness Is A Warm Blanket, Charlie Brown (8:30-9:30 PM ET/PT), the Peanuts gang is back and ready to help LINUS (Austin Lux) break away from his childhood security blanket. The stakes are high as Linus learns his grandmother is coming to visit, and he must decide whether or not to dispose of his most cherished possession. In an effort to help Linus kick his habit, CHARLIE BROWN (Trenton Rogers), LUCY (Grace Rolek) and even SNOOPY pitch in to help. Lucy is quick to attempt her amateur psychiatric skills, while Snoopy employs the age old drag-and-run method. Despite all attempts, Linus eventually learns that security is a valuable quality in life and everyone is entitled to their own version of a security blanket.

Finally, gobble up that last bit of turkey during an encore of The Simpsons (9:30-10:00 PM ET/PT). In the now-classic episode, “The Fight Before Christmas,” four special holiday-themed tales are told, featuring the guest voices of home design guru Martha Stewart as “Martha Claus” and pop star Katy Perry as herself.

Help me ID this cartoon for Christy Karacas

Okay, I’m stumped. I get mail like this all the time and I try to be helpful. But this one just sounds so strange, I want to know what it is myself. It all started a few days ago when I got this email from animator Christy Karacas (Superjail):

Jerry,
I’m writing to you because there was a cartoon I remember seeing at the public library as a kid and have no idea what it is but really want to see it again. I remember a line drawing of a pair of legs, a giant eyeball (maybe a spider?) running around a castle. It was hand drawn. I know this sounds weird but thought you were the one to ask… I remember thinking this was really awesome-i feel like you might know it. thanks either way.

I requested more information. Was it a short or a feature? Anime or Saturday morning cartoon? Christy responded:

No it was a short film… I wish I could remember more about it. I’m so curious what it is… Not sure, but had a hunch it might be European. I saw it at my public library as a double feature with The Red Balloon as a kid…but…yeah, I dont really remember much more. I THINK there was no talking but not sure… I could draw how I remember the characters if you want?

Yes, please!

Hey Jerry-
These are SUPER QUICK SKETCHES (Ugh, the talkback will be about how shitty they are… hahhaah!), but I remember them running around a castle… up stairs I believe… and I think the eyeball was a spider. I can’t remmeber if it bounced around or changed size… maybe i am crazy and i should just do a ‘remake’ from my memory… a mash-up of sorts… create the animation from my childhood as best as I remember it because I can’t find it? hahaha. Amid-if you see or read these let me know if you know what I’m talking about…
Thanks!

If this rings a bell with you… please let us know in the comments below!


UPDATE: Our readers identified the mystery film. Find out what it is and link to it, in our comments section.

LA TIMES: “Is Pixar’s Winning Streak Over?”

Entertainment reporter Patrick Goldstein has some harsh words about Pixar’s Oscar chances in today’s LA Times:

“There’s no guarantee that “Cars 2” will even end up being a nominee with such a crowded field… In fact, the reviews for “Cars 2” were abysmal, with the film earning a lowly 38% fresh rating at Rotten Tomatoes. Just how lowly is a 38% rating? Put it this way: “Tyler Perry’s Madea’s Big Happy Family” and “Cowboys & Aliens” got higher Rotten Tomatoes scores. It didn’t stop lots of people from seeing the film, but it is bad news for Pixar’s chances of winning the Oscar for animated feature, a category Pixar has won four times in a row and six out of the last eight.”

No doubt Pixar’s had the lock on the top awards the past few years, but Goldstein poses some intriguing questions. Will Cars 2 be nominated? Do any of the foreign or independent films have a chance? What feature is the realistic front runner for animation’s best of year?

Mike Judge Interview in “Vice”

Mike Judge

Mike Judge sits down for an interview in the latest issue of Vice. Judge talks openly about the whys and hows of the Beavis and Butt-Head revival. The interviewer Rocco Castoro also asks some unconventional questions, like this memorable exchange:

I noticed that the show’s logo now says “Mike Judge’s Beavis and Butt-Head” rather than “MTV’s.” I feel like I’ve seen it this way on the DVD boxes of the old episodes, but it was surprising to see that it was going to carry over to TV. Got any good dirt on this subtle but important change?

When [my relationship with MTV] began, I had these two two-minute shorts with Beavis and Butt-Head that I licensed to Liquid Television. Then MTV wanted to buy the characters from me–they didn’t say what exactly they wanted to do with them–and so I negotiated for a while and thought, “It takes six to eight weeks to do two minutes when I do everything by myself,” and I was kind of done. I’d produced two shorts and made a few thousand off of them selling them to festivals and Liquid Television, but that was it and I was a nobody at the time. So I sold it to them outright, and then they wanted me to do the show so I ended up getting paid that way. But at some point they decided, “We’re gonna call it MTV’s Beavis and Butt-Head.” I was like, “Really? I created this in my house with pencil and paper and cels and film and… MTV’s Beavis and Butt-Head? But whatever, you own it, that’s fine.” Years later the movie came out and they wanted a sequel. I was unhappy with some stuff, and I just did a fuck-you negotiation with them [laughs]. At one point my lawyer said, “You want to ask them to call it Mike Judge’s Beavis and Butt-Head?” and I said, “Yeah, go for it.” I kind of forgot that we agreed to that, and then when we were redesigning the logo I was like “Wow, OK.” Normally I wouldn’t splash my name all over something, but if it’s between MTV’s Beavis and Butt-Head or Mike Judge’s Beavis and Butt-Head, I’ll take it.

Aardman Released Official Statement About Reports of Moving Overseas

Contrary to some reports in the media at the moment Aardman is not moving overseas! If we are not able to secure government support for our industry we will have to consider putting some of our production overseas for some of our future TV productions in order to take advantage of the government support that some of our overseas competitors enjoy. Aardman remains committed to Bristol and to the UK!

The issue surfaced in the media because of the publication of a report by an alliance of British Animation producers entitled ‘Securing The Future of UK Animation’.

Briefly the report puts forward the case that the UK animation Industry, that was until recently very successful,  is now in crisis. Subsidies and government support for the animation industries of Ireland, Canada, France, Benelux, much of South-East Europe, Australia, Germany and Singapore, to name but a few, have distorted the market for kids’ animation in particular and put the UK at a huge disadvantage.

The report suggests that a tax credit along the lines of the current and very successful film tax credit should be put in place for UK TV Animation producers to level the playing field. There would be a net benefit to the UK economy of introducing a tax credit — animation is so labour intensive that by keeping work in the UK the revenue from National Insurance, personal taxation and corporation tax would be greater than the cost of the Tax Credit.
The full report can be downloaded from here

A piece appeared in Broadcast Magazine (subscription required) summarising the issues. The article can also be read on the authors’ blog here

The story started to spread more widely after the interview in ‘The World This Weekend’ on Radio 4 which can be heard here (starts after about 22mins 30secs)

This then got picked up by the BBC’s website, putting the Tax credits story on the BBC news homepage.

As you will see, the headline the BBC chose for it’s website is probably what started the ‘Aardman Is Re-locating Overseas’ stories  which is not what has been said. Aardman is not planning to move any of our current TV productions overseas and when we even consider it as an option for future productions it is always our very last preference. It would be rendered unnecessary if we could secure a tax credit like many of our overseas competitors.

What we want to be able to do is make British shows here in Bristol, we just need a tax credit to level the playing field with our overseas competitors to help us to do so. We are a British, Bristol-based company and proud to be so!

Greetings from Bikini Bottom! — ‘Follow’ SpongeBob’s Latest Adventure on Twitter

Nickelodeon’s SpongeBob SquarePants hits the Twitter-verse once again with a virtual twist on the snail-mail post card. SpongeBob and the Bikini Bottom gang will kick off Runaway Road Trip week, tweeting photo postcards documenting their vacation-related escapades. Five all-new ‘get-away’-themed SpongeBob SquarePants episodes will air on Nickelodeon at 5:00 – 5:30 p.m. (ET/PT) every day this week.

Photos tweeted twice daily will correspond with the storyline of the day’s on-air Runaway Road Trip premiere. Featuring 10 pieces of original artwork made exclusively for Twitter, the characters will interact with one another and share commentary on their friends’ photos. Fans can follow the adventures with images and tweets by SpongeBob, Mr. Krabs, Plankton, Squidward, Patrick, Karen, Sandy, Pearl Krabs and SpongeBob’s parents, Claire SquarePants and Harold SquarePants.

Runaway Road Trip week culminates on TV with an all-new half-hour special that follows SpongeBob and Patrick as they take a family road trip with SpongeBob’s parents in A SquarePants Family Vacation, on Friday, November 11, at 5:00p.m. (ET/PT).

SpongeBob is no stranger to social media. In January, Nickelodeon broke new ground with the Facebook premiere of an original animated program, Trenchbillies, in advance of its TV debut. In July, Nickelodeon debuted an exclusive made-for-Twitter original story, The Ice Race Cometh: A Twitter Tale. Nickelodeon currently has more than 90 million fans on Facebook across all of its pages, and SpongeBob himself has amassed 28 million, more than The Beatles and President Obama.

Cartoon Network Rolls Out New Holiday Specials & Classics In December

It’s time to laugh as if you had a belly full of jelly and cuddle up in a blanket and enjoy that warm, fuzzy holiday feeling when Cartoon Network kicks off its holiday programming on Monday, Dec. 5 at 7 p.m. (ET, PT) with the premiere of all new holiday specials from Monday night original series Johnny Test, Adventure Time and MAD. And, of course, there will be a generous gift of animated holiday classics like Dr. Seuss’ How the Grinch Stole Christmas and Tom and Jerry: A Nutcracker Tale. Bright spots of Cartoon Network’s holiday programming schedule include:

ALL-NEW MONDAY NIGHT COMEDIES WITH ALL THE TINSEL

Monday, December 5

  • · 7 p.m. (ET, PT): Johnny Test: “A Holly, Johnny Christmas” — Johnny has to move from the “naughty” to the “nice” side of the list if he wants to get the extreme snowball making machine he wants for Christmas. Catch the replay Wednesday, December 7 at 7 p.m. (ET, PT).
  • · 8 p.m. (ET, PT): Adventure Time: (half-hour special) Holly Jolly Secrets” — Finn and Jake stumble across the Ice King’s video diary and look to uncover his secrets. The special will replay Thursday, December 8 at 7:30 p.m. (ET, PT).

Monday, December 12

  • 7 p.m. (ET, PT): Johnny Test: “Johnny’s Snow Ball” — Johnny sends out an invitation for a Snow Ball that everyone interprets to be a winter dance. But he left out the word “fight” so everyone is surprised by the most epic snowball fight ever. Watch the replay Wednesday, December 14 at 7:30 p.m. (ET, PT).
  • 8:45 p.m. (ET, PT): MAD: “Toys/Undercover Claws” — MAD’s Christmas Special! First, Woody, Buzz and the Toy Story gang get “lost” on a mysterious island of misfits. Then, Santa Claus goes undercover to see how his workshop really runs. Plus Spy vs. Spy, Alfred E. Neuman and more! Catch the replay Wednesday, December 14 at 8:00 p.m. (ET, PT).

WARM AND FUZZY CHRISTMAS CLASSICS

Wednesday, December 7

  • · 7:30 p.m. (ET, PT) Dr. Seuss’ How the Grinch Stole Christmas Disguised as Santa Claus, the Grinch, along with his loveable dog, Max, steals everything that has to do with Christmas from the town of Whoville. However, he finds that he cannot steal the one thing that makes Christmas special: love for one’s fellow man. The Grinch learns the meaning of Christmas and returns all of the stolen goods to the Whos, then joins in their celebration.
  • · 8:00 p.m. (ET, PT) Tom and Jerry: A Nutcracker Tale — On a cold Christmas Eve, the Mouse Family is bulldozed from their underground home. Chilly and homeless, the family sets off to find new lodgings and reluctantly seeks shelter in the home of the Atwell family. Amazed at the enormous Christmas tree and bright decorations, Skip and Squeak sneak out of bed and into the living room to discover the real meaning of Christmas.

Saturday, December 10

  • · 12:00 p.m. (ET, PT) Olive the Other Reindeer — Olive the dog travels to the North Pole to help Santa Claus, and one of Santa’s reindeer breaks a leg. Olive the Other Reindeer, a one-hour feature, is created by Matt Groening (The Simpsons), and Olive is voiced by Drew Barrymore.

Wednesday, December 14

  • · 8:30 p.m. (ET, PT) Ed, Edd n Eddy’s Jingle, Jingle, Jangle Eddy’s Christmas falls to pieces after he snoops around and discovers that all his soon-to-be gifts are socks, underwear and other clunkers. Eddy decides to take Santa’s job into his own hands by attempting to get himself adopted into all of his friends’ families, thereby siphoning off their Christmas payload. Eddy learns about how his friends celebrate the holiday, while his best friends, Ed and Double-D, try to convince him that Christmas is about spreading cheer, not greed.

Justin Bieber Inserted into a Rankin/Bass Cartoon

Have you ever wanted to see a CG model of babyfaced baby-making singer Justin Bieber clunkily composited into a cruddy holiday special produced by Rankin/Bass? Me neither, but that’s what you’ll find in Bieber’s cover of “Santa Claus is Coming to Town,” which inserts him into the 1970 Rankin/Bass holiday special of the same name. I’m sure some viewers will be outraged by this, but frankly, I’m having trouble getting worked up over it. That’s probably because just about anything added into a Rankin/Bass cartoon promises to be an improvement over the original. What’s more concerning is that a second video of this song, featuring a live-action Bieber, will premiere in front of Arthur Christmas. If I’m a few minutes late walking into the theater for the film, you’ll understand why.

(Thanks, Whitney Grace)

Bil Keane (1922-2011)

It’s taken a lot of knocks over the years, but the daily Family Circus panel was just as much a part of our lives as Charles Schulz’ Peanuts. Cartoonist Bil Keane passed away Tuesday at age 89.

Keane began his professional career after serving in World War II, first as staff cartoonist for the Philadelphia Bulletin, then broke into syndication with a panel called Channel Chuckles. His Family Circus strip began in 1960. It spawned three animated TV specials.

In tribute, here’s the 1979 Family Circus Christmas, directed by Al Kouzel, with animators including Fred Crippen, Marty Taras, Willis Pyle and his son–future Disney animator–Glen Keane.

UPDATE: It seems like an appropriate time to post this never-before-published questionnaire that Bil Keane filled out in 1995:

“Be With You” by Steve Stanchfield

Here is a much better re-use for old cartoons… Steve Stanchfield’s entry in the Erasure Video Competition featuring synched clips from Van Beuren cartoons (and a few others) to the new song from Erasure titled Be With You.

The most ‘like’ votes on Steve’s YouTube page wins the piece a place on the official Erasure DVD… apparently this bunch of Van Beuren clips are getting the second-most votes so far! The contest ends mid-day tomorrow, so place your vote for classic cartoons.

Steve also says that the first person who can name all the cartoons featured in the video will win a free Thunderbean DVD (There’s clips from 29 or 30 cartoons!)