“Mia and the Migoo” Coming to DVD and Blu-ray on March 27, 2012

FROM THE DISTRIBUTORS OF THE OSCAR®-NOMINATED THE SECRET OF KELLS AND ENTERTAINMENT ONE COMES AN UNFORGETTABLE AND BREATHTAKING ANIMATED ADVENTURE!

MIA AND THE MIGOO

Street Date: March 27, 2012
Blu-ray/DVD SRP: $29.98/$24.98

From the distributors of the Academy Award®-nominated The Secret of Kells, comes Mia And The Migoo, the gorgeous second feature from renowned French animator Jacques-Rémy Girerd. A fable-like journey of a young girl who must overcome her fears on a quest to find her father and save the world from destruction, Mia And The Migoo was created from an astounding 500,000 hand-painted frames of animation. A stunning work of art, breathtaking to behold, with backgrounds that invoke Van Gogh, Monet, and Cezanne, it also features the voices of Whoopi Goldberg, Matthew Modine, James Woods and Wallace Shawn. And on March 27, Entertainment One will release this highly–acclaimed, magical eco-fable to both blu-ray and DVD just in time for Earth Day!

Following a premonition, Mia sets out on a cross continental journey, though mountains and jungles in search of her father, who has been trapped in a landslide at a construction site on a remote tropical lake. In the middle of the lake stands the ancient Tree of Life, watched over by innocent, bumbling forest spirits called the Migoo, who grow and change shape as they please, morphing from small childlike beings to petulant giants. The Migoo have been disrupting the construction to protect this sacred site — and now together with Mia they join in a fight to find Mia’s father and save the Tree, with the future of life on Earth hanging in the balance.

CAST

John DiMaggio (Transformers: Dark of the Moon, Little Fockers, Bee Movie)
Whoopi Goldberg (Ghost, For Colored Girls, Sister Act)
Matthew Modine (Full Metal Jacket, Married to the Mob, Cutthroat Island)
Wallace Shawn (Toys Story 1, 2, 3, The Incredibles, Monsters, Inc.)
James Woods (Once Upon a Time in America, The Virgin Suicides, Casino )

BONUS FEATURES

“Making of” Featurette
Interview with the Director

PROGRAM INFORMATION

Type: Blu-ray/DVD
Catalog #: (BD) EOE-BD-7084/(DVD) EOE-DV-7081
Running Time: 91 mins. + extras
Genre: Animation
Rated: PG
Aspect Ratio: (BD) 1080pHD/1.78:1/(DVD) 16 x 9/1.78:1
Audio: 5.1 Dolby Digital

Language: English w/English SDH Subtitles

Europe’s Cartoon Movie Festival Announces 2012 Line-up

CARTOON MOVIE 2012’s LINE-UP: STEREOSCOPIC 3D, SENSITIVE CHILDREN’S FILMS AND MATURE SUBJECT MATTERS
- 20% of the films target an adult audience and tackle political or sensitive subjects such as war, Alzheimer’s and the birth of universe

- 40% of the selection in stereoscopic 3D

- Famous comics authors Enki Bilal and Arthur de Pins to direct their own film based on their albums

- 50 projects from 17 countries including Germany, Greece, Ireland, Luxembourg and UK

Fifty animated feature projects in different development stages from 17 countries will be pitched at Cartoon Movie 2012 (Lyon, 7-9 March) to find
financing, co-producers and distributors. European animation has not only taken a definitive leap to 3D, which accounts for half of the projects, but also moved decisively towards stereoscopic 3D, with 40% of the projects conceived to be made in this technology, doubling last year’s figure.

France — which remains the region’s powerhouse — will be represented with 19 projects, followed by the Nordic Countries — led by Denmark — with 13, Belgium with four and Germany with two. This year’s projects have a global budget of 291.2 million EUR with an average cost of 5.8 million EUR each film.

The trend of adult-skewed films in European animation is growing: 20% of the selected projects target an adult audience and tackle political or sensitive subjects ranging from the Angolan civil war and its child soldiers (Another Day of Life), World War I (Cafard), Nazism in the biopic of a boxing champion (Young Perez), child neglect (It’s a Zucchini’s Life, The Island of Lost Children), Alzheimer’s disease (Wrinkles), and the story of life on Earth (Alpha).

Literature and comics remain a strong source of inspiration, with some of this year’s projects based on adaptations and screenplays from writers such as Ryszard Kapuscinski, Jacques Prévert, Gilles Paris, Jean-François Beauchemin, Leena Krohn, Gunilla Bergström and Kjell Aukrust as well as on award-winning graphic novels by authors like Enki Bilal and Arthur de Pins — who will direct their films themselves —, Paco Roca and Jens Harder.

This year in Lyon, some well-known TV animated series will also make their leap to the big screen, including The Triplets from Spain, Alfie Atkins from Sweden and Belgium’s Pic Pic André Shoow. Cartoon Movie 2012 will also reveal projects that seek aesthetic and narrative innovation in animation.

Stephen Colbert’s Must-See Interview with Maurice Sendak

Stephen Colbert’s two-part interview with Where the Wild Things Are author/illustrator Maurice Sendak easily ranks as the most entertaining interview I’ve ever seen with a children’s book author. I’m sure it’ll be much discussed at the Society of Children’s Book Writers & Illustrators winter conference, which starts tomorrow in Manhattan.

Cartoon Brew’s 2012 Oscar Survey


With no clear frontrunners in either the Best Animated Feature or Short categories, it’s time to call upon the wisdom of the animation masses. Tell us what films you think SHOULD win the animation Oscars this year. We’ll keep the survey open for a week until everyone has had a chance to make their voice heard.

GO TO THE SURVEY PAGE >>>
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Exclusive Excerpt from “Walt’s People”

Walt's People

Over the last seven years, with quiet persistence and unwavering dedication, French animation historian Didier Ghez has been publishing one of the most important animation history documents of our time. His book series, Walt’s People: Talking Disney With The Artists Who Knew Him, is an incredible accomplishment that casts new light onto the operation of the Walt-era Disney Studios. Each edition of this ever-growing interview anthology series reprints rarely seen and unpublished interviews with Disney artists, both famous and unknown.

Didier’s newest volume, the eleventh in the series, is also the largest to date, weighing in at over 600 pages. The historians who have contributed interviews are a who’s who of Disney research royalty. The volume is expansive and extends to a handful of contemporary figures who didn’t personally know Walt (Ed Catmull, Brad Bird, Glen Keane), but who have absorbed the Disney tradition into their work.

In fact, the sheer scale and scope of this volume guarantees something for everybody. The interview subjects are Ray Aragon, Frank Armitage, Brad Bird, Carl Bongirno, Roger Broggie, George Bruns, Ed Catmull, Don R. Christensen, Andreas Deja, Jules Engel, Joe Hale, John Hench, Mark Henn, John Hubley, Glen Keane, Ted Kierscey, Ward Kimball, I. Klein, Mike Lah, Eric Larson, Ed Love, Daniel MacManus, Tom Nabbe, Carl Nater, Dale Oliver, Walt Pfeiffer, Jacques Rupp, David Snyder, Iwao Takamoto, Shirley Temple, Frank Thomas, Ruthie Tompson, and Richard Williams.

Walt’s People #11 is available for $25 on Amazon and you’d be wise to add the rest of the series to your library as well. Didier has provided us some excerpts from the new book, offering a glimpse of the hundreds of stories that can be found in the book. Read them after the jump.
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Fleischer’s Bell Telephone films

Okay, here’s another post for the animation historians.

Animation pioneer Max Fleischer was an inventor and he was passionate about science and modern technology. When his cartoon studio became established in the 1920s he created several educational films for various clients – not to mention extra-length films devoted to Einstein’s Theory of Relativity and Darwin’s Theory of Evolution (both in 1923). Many of these industrial films are lost.

AT&T has dug into its archives an unearthed a pair of sponsored films Bell Telephone commissioned from the Fleischer studio. Fleischer actually produced four nontheatrical titles for the phone company (How the Telephone Talks, 1924; That Little Big Fellow, 1927; Now You’re Talking, 1927 and Finding His Voice in 1929), but AT&T has posted two. Both are pretty rare – I’d never seen That Little Big Fellow myself. They are meant to educate and inform, and are not as inventive (or comedic) as the Koko the Clown theatrical shorts, but are fascinating nonetheless.

So, if you want to learn a little about the science of telecommunications in the 1920s, here are two of Fleischer’s finest. Thank you AT&T.


Women In Animation & Toon Boom Hosting Party During KidScreen Summit on February 10

WOMEN IN ANIMATION INT’L’S INTIATIVE IS TO PARTY!!!

Gather Round for a Round with
Toon Boom and Women In Animation International

Women In Animation International is buying the first round of wine, courtesy of Toon Boom, the leader in animation technology, at KidScreen Summit in New York on Friday February 10. The corks will pop in the Hilton’s Bridges Bar at 6 p.m.

Meet Joan Vogelesang, CEO of Toon Boom, and her crew. The WIA hosts, Rita Street, Jan Nagel, Lisa Goldman, Marlene Sharp and Kathy Messick.

“You don’t have to be a member to join us,” says Rita Street, Founder of Women In Animation. “You just need a business card. So remember to keep one last business card for this event.”

Zodiak Media Rebrands and Announces Key Hires

Zodiak Media Group is rebranding as Zodiak Media and is announcing a series of corporate appointments to drive future development.

The rebrand and appointments are part of a wider move by Zodiak Media to strengthen its group operations, communication and strategic planning as well as cement its position as one of the world’s top three independent content groups.

Vincent Chalvon Demersay — who remains CEO of Marathon Media, a Zodiak Media company — is appointed Chief Strategy Officer for the group (a role in which he will work closely with Group COO Jonathan Slow and his team) and in which he will report to Group CEO David Frank. David Michel is appointed Senior Vice-President of Group Marketing, and remains General Manager of Marathon Media. Valérie Tailland is promoted to Director of Group Communication, in addition to her role as Head of Communication for Zodiak France. All three are based in Paris.

These new appointments complement the establishment in London last year of the group’s Creativity & Innovation Unit headed by Cathy Rogers.

Zodiak Media has also recently completed a successful refinancing of all its banking arrangements in local markets to bring control and management of group finance through one international syndicate of banks managed from Paris.

Zodiak Media’s rebranding is supported by a new visual identity already deployed on its website www.zodiakmedia.com.

Group Chief Executive Officer David Frank says: “Zodiak Media comprises 45 companies around the world, bringing together experienced producers with successful track records in entertainment, fiction, kids and factual programming. This makes Zodiak Media a unique entity among the small number of major international media groups. The new identity and the key appointments announced today underline the successful integration of Zodiak Media’s component parts and our ambitions for its future development. The refinancing is also a key ingredient in this future development. Our aim is to allow each of our producers to express their creative talents individually while being empowered by the scale and power of our combined activities.”

Popeye meets Wilco: “Dawned On Me”

King Features has collaborated with rock band Wilco on a comic strip/music video tie-in with Popeye. The sailorman and his crew crossed over in last Sunday’s comic strip (1/22/12 by Frank Caruso and Ned Sonntag) and joined the group in this animated music video (embed below), directed by urban fashion designer Darren Romanelli and animated in Singapore by Peach Blossom Media.

DreamWorks Animation Names Gregg Taylor Head Of Development

GLENDALE, Calif., Jan. 24, 2012 — DreamWorks Animation SKG, Inc. (Nasdaq: DWA) today announced that Gregg Taylor has been named head of development for the studio, a role previously held by Alex Schwartz. Schwartz will serve as a producer on the studio’s upcoming feature film, Mr. Peabody & Sherman, which is scheduled to be released onMarch 14, 2014. Taylor will oversee the development of all projects at DreamWorks Animation.

“Gregg is an exceptional executive with a wide range of creative experience that will positively influence our future slate. I am confident that he will thrive as the new leader of DreamWorks Animation’s development team,” said DreamWorks Animation Chief Creative Officer Bill Damaschke. “Alex’s exemplary work in development over the years makes her an ideal choice to assume the role of producer on Mr. Peabody & Sherman and I look forward to her continued creative input and leadership. On behalf of the entire studio, I offer heartfelt congratulations to both Gregg and Alex as they take on their new roles.”

“To be able to make movies with the incredibly talented team of executives and artists at DreamWorks Animation is an absolute privilege,” said Taylor. “This studio is a very special place and I am deeply grateful to be working alongside Jeffrey, Bill and Ann Daly as we strive to tell great stories and find innovative ways to expand our business.”

“I have enjoyed four wonderful years overseeing development at DreamWorks Animation, thanks in large part to the unparalleled quality of my team, including Gregg, Damon Ross and Chris Kuser,” added Schwartz. “I am eager to take on the next creative challenge of producing Mr. Peabody & Sherman, which has long been a passion project of mine. I am thrilled to be working with the immensely talented director Rob Minkoff and partnering with veteran DreamWorks producer Denise Cascino.”

Taylor previously served as a senior development and production executive, overseeing DreamWorks Animation’s expanding franchise properties, including the upcoming sequel to How to Train Your Dragon as well as The Penguins of Madagascar and the Company’s television initiatives. Taylor served six years as executive vice president of development and production for The Kennedy/Marshall Company, during which time the company produced The Curious Case of Benjamin Button, Diving Bell and the Butterfly, Persepolis and The Bourne Ultimatum, among others. His relationship with DreamWorks Animation began with Shrek when Taylor ran Mike Myers’ production company, where he co-produced Austin Powers in Goldmember and executive produced The Cat in the Hat for Imagine Entertainment.

In her role as DreamWorks Animation’s head of development since 2008, Schwartz oversaw the creative group on current and future feature film projects, including Rise of the Guardians, Mr. Peabody & Sherman and Trolls (working title). Prior to joining the Company, she served as Walden Media’s executive vice president, where she was in charge of the creative group and served as executive producer on films including Holes, Bridge to Terabithia, Charlotte’s Web and Journey 3D to the Center of the Earth. Schwartz began her career as an executive at Touchstone Pictures.

Several Showcases of Croatian Animation Planned For San Francisco Area

The Croatian Animation Cultural Exchange* presents an evening of historical animations from Croatia (1957-1978) with works by Nikola Kostelac, Vatroslav Mimica, Zlatko Grgic and more. The program is presented by Vanja Hraste who is a visiting program director of the film-club association of Croatia.
San Francisco – Sunday, January 29th, 8pm

Artists’ Television Access, 992 Valencia Street, San Francisco, CA 94110
(415) 824-3890
$6-$10
www.atasite.org
East Bay – Saturday, February 4th, 8pm
Studio Quercus, 385 26th Street Oakland, CA 94612
(510) 452-4670
$7 pre-sale / $10 at the door
https://www.brownpapertickets.com/event/219552
www.studioquercus.com
North Bay – Sunday, February 5th, 4:15pm
Christopher B. Smith Rafael Theater 1118 Fourth Street, San Rafael CA 94901
(415) 454-1222
Zagreb School of Animated film
In 1958, at a Cannes film festival, a film critic Georges Sadoul got his first chance to see animated films made by Zagreb Film company. He noticed that all these films had several elements in common: the sketch like drawings, there were no words spoken, just the music and the sounds and that they all dealt with serious topics. Therefore Sadoul decided, on the spot, to create a term which will be from then known as Zagreb School of Animated film.This term was used whenever animated films from Zagreb were in question. In the history of animated film, the Zagreb school played an outstandingly creative role. It brought together many artistic talents who all had a strong will for artistic experimenting. In many of the works the animators created a space with only two dimensions and with movements in which the character movements were reduced and abstract. In these films, the authors challanged the laws of physics and created animations closer to the art avantgarde. The Zagreb authors also brought existential and social questions into animated film with themes such as old age, death, sickness and aggression. At the time these themes were mainly avoided by other animation studios. Zagreb School of Animated film represents a strong acquisition to the aesthetics of animated film. It is quite a unique phenomenon to witness a group of artists working together at one spot, contributing on different projects and at the same time maintaining and developing personal styles and work mode.
Program
Premijera Opening Night Nikola Kostelac 1957. 9:48
Inspektor se vratio kući The Inspector Returned Home Vatroslav Mimica 1959. 11:34
or Samac Alone 1958. 12 Vatroslav Mimica
Surogat Ersatz Dušan Vukotić 1961. 9: 36
Don Kihot Don Quixote Vladimir Kristl 1961. 10: 42
Vau vau Wow — wow Boris Kolar 1964. 9: 13
Peti The Fifht One Pavao Štalter, Zlatko Grgić 1964. 2:42
Zid The Wall Ante Zaninović 1965. 3:32
Muha The Fly Aleksandar Marks, Vladimir Jutriša 1966. 8: 16
Idu dani Passing Days Nedeljko Dragić 1969. 10:07
Maska crvene smrti Mask of the Red Death Pavao Štalter, Branko Ranitović 1969. 9: 42
Mačka The Cat Zlatko Bourek 1971. 10: 10
Vrata Maxi Cat Zlatko Grgić 1972. 1
Tenis Maxi Cat Zlatko Grgić 1973. 1
Uže Maxi Cat Zlatko Grgić 1976. 1
Satiemania Satiemania Zdenko Gašparović 1978. 14:15
Škola hodanja Learning to Walk Borivoj Dovniković-Bordo, 1978. 08: 24

*The Croatian Animation Cultural Exchange is directed by Sarah Klein and David Kwan with John Morrison and Croatian Film Association. All films are produced by Zagreb Film and images are provided by Croatian Cinematheque. Funding and support are provided by Croatian Audiovisual Centre, Zagreb Film and California Film Institute. Presenters are Smith Rafael Film Center, Studio Quercus and Artists’ Television Access. Thanks to The Urban School, Canal Alliance and Marin TV.

The Oscars: Animated Short Nominees

The nominees for BEST ANIMATED SHORT, announced today by The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Scienes, are:

A Morning Stroll
A Morning Stroll by Grant Orchard (Studio AKA)
Read Cartoon Brew’s post about A Morning Stroll and our coverage of Grant Orchard throughout the years.



Dimanche / Sunday by Patrick Doyon (NFB)



La Luna by Enrico Casarosa (Pixar)
Read Cartoon Brew’s coverage of La Luna.



The Fantastic Flying Books of Mr. Morris Lessmore by William Joyce and Brandon Oldenburg (Moonbot Studios)
Read Cartoon Brew’s post about The Fantastic Flying Books of Mr. Morris Lessmore.



Wild Life by Amanda Forbis & Wendy Tilby (NFB)
Read Cartoon Brew’s post about Wild Life.

Congratulations to all the nominees. The Academy Awards will be presented on Sunday February 26th at the Kodak Theatre in Hollywood.

The Oscars: Animated Feature Nominees


The Oscar nominations were announced this morning.

Nominated for BEST ANIMATED FEATURE were:

A CAT IN PARIS – Jean-Loup Felicioli, Alain Gagnol
CHICO AND RITA – Tono Errando, Javier Mariscal.
KUNG FU PANDA 2 – Jennifer Yuh Nelson
PUSS IN BOOTS – Chris Miller
RANGO – Gore Verbinski

THE SCORE: It’s “2″ for Dreamworks and “0″ for Disney/Pixar. “2″ for International independent films, and “1″ for a live-action director making his animated feature debut (and that director isn’t Spielberg). And a big “zero” for Mo-Cap.

It’s not a complete loss for TINTIN – the film was nominated for Best Music (Original Score). And RIO got a nod for Best Original Song. A complete list of nominees in all categories is posted here. The Academy Awards will be presented on Sunday February 26th at the Kodak Theatre in Hollywood.

Get Well, Myron Waldman!

Here’s a treat for Fleischer Studio aficionados. In 1935, animator Myron Waldman went to the hospital to have his appendix out. The artists at the studio created a giant hand made “get well” card packed with gag cartoons. Animation art dealer Ken Storms acquired this piece (yes, it’s for sale) and has allowed us to share. A terrific find – It’s great to see the animators behind Popeye and Betty Boop do some off-color gags. There are four pieces, sized 23″ by 13.5″. Click the image above to see the “cover” piece. The other three pieces are below.

Click the thumbnails below to see the art full size. Panel 2 (below left) contains cartoons by Graham Place, Jim Miele, Joe Stultz, Jack Quban, Bill Bird, Tom Antisell and Sam Buchwald (!); Panel 3 (center) has Dave Tendlar, Herman Cohen, Nick Tafuri, Georgew Germanetti, Lillian Friedman, Ed Nolan, Bill Sturm, Ted Vosk, Izzy Sparber and I think, Orestes Calpini; Panel 4 (below right) Max Fleischer, Willard Bowsky, Doc Crandall, Abner Kneitel, William Henning, Harold Walker, Seymour Kneitel, Jim Claboy, Dave Hoffman and Eli Brucker.

Guru’s “Nemesis” In Development at TELETOON

TORONTO, ON (January 19, 2012) — TELETOON launches development on Guru’s innovative new half hour animated kids series, Nemesis, where each episode tells one story, two unbelievably different ways.

Nemesis chronicles the comical antics of two groups of kids at Palmerston Primary, one led by Blade and the other by Josh. Once best friends, they’ve now become archenemies on the playground battling for the hearts and minds of their friends. The 26 x 22-minute series is written for 7-11 year olds.

Alan Gregg, TELETOON’s Director of Original Content, remarked, “Nemesis is a very different take on schoolyard politics — with its unique story structure, audiences will be challenged as to which side they should root for.”

Creator Jamie Waese says “Guru really gets comedy and I’m thrilled to work  with them as we channel the funny on Nemesis.” And he noted “The show is developed straight from watching my son at school so I think it is really relatable”. Jamie is the creator of Cookie Jar’s series Mudpit, which recently debuted on Teletoon.

Frank Falcone, President and Creative Director of Guru Studio adds, “I’m very excited to work with Jamie. He has a passion for unique storytelling and since every story always has two sides, we hope Nemesis will prove once and for all, that two “wrongs” can make a very funny “right”.”

Nemesis is expected to go into production during 2012.

IndustryWorks Launches First Animated Feature “Back To The Sea” In Canadian Theatres This Month

Vancouver, BC -— IndustryWorks Pictures is pleased to announce that the theatrical release of the animated feature film Back to the Sea will be opening in theatres across Canada in both 2D and 3D on Friday, January 27th, 2012.

Back to the Sea is a heart-warming tale of adventure that follows Kevin, a young flying fish, who lives in the New York Harbor. He dreams of leading his family back to Barbados–the mythical kingdom of the flying fish. One fateful day his adventurous nature finds him captured by a fishing ship and delivered to the fish tank of a Chinese restaurant in New York City’s Chinatown, where he meets a quiet young boy who also longs for excitement and adventure. The two become friends and begin a daring quest to get Kevin back to the sea. Battling furious chefs, evil thieves and hungry diners, the two heroes discover the true meaning of friendship, family and the importance of following your dreams.

Directed by Thom Lu, this animated film is geared for the whole family to enjoy.  Adding to the excitement are the voices of Christian Slater (Breaking In, Interview with a Vampire, Pump up the Volume, Robot Chicken) as Jack the bad guy and robber. Tim Curry (Rocky Horror Picture Show, The Wild Thornberry’s) lends his voice to play Eric, Kevin’s father, Mark Hamill, best known for his leading role as Luke Skywalker in ‘Star Wars’, plays Bunker the wise old octopus, and also features Tom Kenny (Spongebob Squarepants) as the hilarious voice of Ben the Life Coach.

The team at IndustryWorks Pictures is proud to announce their first theatrical animation film and their first co-production with China. “This is an important step for Canada, and a huge feat for the Vancouver based independent film company to enter into a partnership with a studio like Glory & Dream Digital Animation. They are one of the top companies in animated films in China as is The Jiangsu Broadcast Company, the second largest broadcast company in China, the experience has been something quite incredible.”

Release Date: January 27, 2012
Director: Thom Lu
Executive Producers: Ming Sun, Kathryn Griffiths, Evan Tylor, Tom Raycove
Producers: Calvin Yao
Studio: Glory & Dream Digital Studio
Distributor: IndustryWorks Pictures
Music By: Gordon McGhie
Starring: Tim Curry, Christian Slater, Tom Kenny, Mark Hamill
Genre: Family, Animation, 2D & 3D
Running Time: 96 minutes

Bingham Ray (1954-2012)

Allow me to go off topic (or slightly off topic) for a moment to pay tribute to an old friend, Bingham Ray (he’s at left in the photo above, with a younger, thinner version of me circa 1991 – that’s animator Gavrilo Gnatovich behind us). His unexpected passing yesterday at the Sundance Film Festival has generated a lot a press. The New York Times notes, “He started his formal career in 1981 in Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer’s New York office, where he sold library titles to hospitals, colleges and ships at sea”. Yep, that’s where I met him, where we worked side-by-side in MGM/UA’s nontheatrical department, renting 16mm prints to various venues.

Bing was a hilarious guy and it was absolutely true that everyone loved him. He left MGM/UA and ultimately became the head of several movie companies including Samuel Goldwyn and United Artists. He started his own film distribution company, October Films, in 1991 and one of his first acquisitions was Bill Plympton’s The Tune. He was always there for advice, a joke, or to simply share his enthusiasm for film. He will be missed.

Rest in Peace, Mr. Bing.

Joe Murray’s Kaboing Goes Kaput

Less than a year after its launch, Kaboing TV has come to a virtual standstill. Billed as “an alternative channel for quality animation that serves both the cartoon fan and the animation community of artists and writers,” the idea was conceived by Joe Murray, the veteran creator of old-media shows like Rocko’s Modern Life and Camp Lazlo. Murray raised over $20,000 from a Kickstarter campaign in June, 2010 to launch the concept.

Kaboing failed to gain traction with viewers. In the past year, Murray unveiled three original animated shorts based on his Frog in a Suit concept, and also presented six indie animated shorts. The combined viewership of those nine films was just 57,000 views.

In an essay posted on his blog last week he described Kaboing as being “at a crossroads.” In an earlier blog post last month, he alluded to Kaboing as if it had already died, writing that it was like “watching the fuse to what promises to be a wonderful firework display, fizzle out at the moment of truth.” The Kaboing website, which hosted its videos on YouTube, hasn’t unveilved a new cartoon since September, 2011, and the last original Frog in a Suit short premiered last March.

Murray blames virtually everything as a factor in the site’s lack of success, from a failed mainstream project that he had undertaken to no marketing budget to advertisers who wanted ownership of the shorts to the Internet’s desire for crude material.

The simplest solution though is often the right one, and in this case, it would appear that Murray didn’t offer a compelling product that audiences wanted to see. The Internet is very good at identifying what it likes, and it doesn’t like the kind of traditional material produced by mainstream TV studios. Frog in a Suit felt too much like a standard-issue TV cartoon with all the timeworn elements that Internet audiences are trying to escape.

It’s commendable that Murray is being upfront about the struggles of his start-up Kaboing TV, but his assignment of blame for the site’s failure seems misplaced to me. Reading between the lines of his January 18 post, he appears to believe that his work was of a higher quality than the kind of animation that becomes successful on-line. He expresses frustration that a “unicorn shitting rainbows” is more popular than his own work. But while some material is certainly more crude and raw, there are also breakout Internet hits like Simon Tofield’s Simon’s Cat which feature more elegant animation than anything you’ll find produced by a TV animation studio. The nineteen Simon’s Cat shorts, all animated by Tofield, have garnered over 215 million views on YouTube and spawned book and merchandising deals.

In the past artists created properties to pitch and sell to TV networks or newspaper syndicates in the hope of making their characters famous. Tofield has succeeded where Murray couldn’t by showing its possible to create characters on one’s own terms, turn them into a success online without giving up ownership rights, and then wait for companies to approach you with licensing deals.

YouTube, in fact, has spawned a new generation of animation creators who have become successful individual brands without the help of any middleman. An even more successful example is Dane Boedigheimer, whose Annoying Orange videos have accumulated nearly 600 million views on YouTube. His work has become so popular that Cartoon Network recently greenlit a series based on his characters.

Here’s a list of individual filmmakers besides Tofield and Boedigheimer whose YouTube channels have garnered huge fanbases and (we may assume) some financial reward:

PES
26 videos
27.3 million video views

Lev Yilmaz
60 videos
35.1 million video views

Cyriak
50 videos
62.7 million video views

Harry Partridge
31 videos
66.3 million video views

Egoraptor
66 videos
84.6 million video views

FilmCow (aka Charlie the Unicorn)
43 videos
218.3 million video views

Most tellingly, none of these artists became successful by soliciting money from a Kickstarter campaign and none of them had marketing campaigns. They created their animation because they believed in it, and audiences responded to the work. As the mechanism of distribution matures on the Internet, more and more animators will discover that this kind of success is possible.

Classy 1930s Animators

Fritz Willis and Leo Salkin

I stumbled upon this scan tonight and had to share. It’s a photo taken in 1936 by Ed Benedict at Walter Lantz Productions. It’s pure class, and at the height of the Depression no less. From left to right are Jack Dunham, who sadly ended up homeless in Montreal a few years back; Fritz Willis, who went on to become a famous pin-up artist; and Leo Salkin, who enjoyed a long animation career as a writer and storyboard artist. Fast forward 75 years, and the fashion evolution of the animator is not a pretty sight.

Restored Paramount “Noveltoons” on DVD

Okay, here is an unabashed plug for a video project near and dear to my heart. Animation archeologist/film-restoration hero Steve Stanchfield is ready to unveil his latest DVD masterpiece: Noveltoons Original Classics, a special DVD collection featuring twenty restored “Hollywood” cartoons produced by Paramount from 1943-1950.

Paramount’s in-house cartoon unit, Famous Studios (actually based in New York City), was staffed by a core group of artists from the former Fleischer Studio – in fact, just about everyone minus Max and Dave was still involved. The Noveltoons series became the launching pad for many well known (and not-so-well known) characters: Little Audrey, Baby Huey, Herman the Mouse, Raggedy Ann, Blackie Sheep, Spunky Donkey and others. Unlike other collections featuring some of this material, Stanchfield’s set features these cartoons digitally restored and mastered from original 35mm and 16mm film materials. For the specific cartoon titles, see Menu’s below (click thumbnails to enlarge).


You may have seen some of these cartoons before – but you haven’t seen them look like this. Pristine, colorful, with their original Paramount movie titles. Believe me, this library has been sadly neglected for decades. Previous available copies of these cartoons are usually faded 16mm TV prints with replaced titles, film splices and dirt lines. Your jaw will drop when you see the quality Steve has managed to achieve (check the two frame grabs above, center and right; click thumbnails to enlarge).

Bonus features include commentaries from animators (Bob Jaques, Mike Kazaleh, etc.) and animation historians (including me), Still galleries featuring original model sheets, publicity materials, animation art and comic strips, plus a unique Baby Huey storyboard/final film comparison reel (image below):

Noveltoons Original Classics. Buy it now. I highly recommend it. Help support this kind of film restoration – by a dedicated animation historian, doing the work the major studios do not feel worthy of its time. And if I haven’t convinced you yet, here are a few excerpts from the disc (You Tube does not do this justice):

Patton Oswalt To Host 39th Annual Annie Awards on Saturday, February 4th

BURBANK, CA (January 23, 2012) — Patton Oswalt, who was recently nominated by the Chicago, Toronto and Los Angeles Film Critics’ Associations for his performance in the film Young Adult starring opposite Charlize Theron, will host this year’s 39th Annual Annie Awards on Saturday, February 4, 2012, at UCLA’s Royce Hall. “The Annies are where the real weirdos hang, and it’s a visual feast just to have a drink with them,” says Oswalt, irreverent as always. “I can’t wait.” Celebrating the best in animation, this annual black-tie evening will begin with a pre-reception at 5 p.m. followed by the Annie Awards ceremony at 7 p.m. and an after-party celebration immediately following the ceremony. All events will be held at Royce Hall.

“Patton’s comedic talent, audacious humor and love for animation will bring great energy and visibility, not to mention fun to this year’s ceremony,’’ says ASIFA-Hollywood President Frank Gladstone. “We are extremely excited to have him aboard.” Patton provided the voice for Remy the rat in Pixar’s Oscar winning Ratatouille, and also characters on Word Girl and Neighbors from Hell. He has appeared in countless television shows, both animated and live action, and more than 20 films, including Magnolia, Big Fan, Starsky and Hutch and The Informant. Patton will be joined on stage by a lively mix of animation luminaries, celebrity presenters and comedic talent including animation legend June Foray and Judy Greer, JK Simmons, James Hong, Jib Jab founders Greg and Evan Spiridellis, Nika Futterman, Ty Burrell, Kelly Stables, Tara Strong, Daran Norris, Dee Bradley Baker and Logan Grove.

This year’s Winsor McCay recipients are Walt Peregoy, Borge Ring and Ronald Searle. Searle’s award will be posthumous, as he passed late last year at the age of 91. The Winsor McCay Award stands as one of the highest honors given to an individual in the animation industry in recognition for career contributions to the art of animation.

For complete ticket information and up-to-the minute details on the 39th Annual Annie Awards, please visit www.annieawards.org. For Media inquiries and credentials, please contact Gretchen Houser, Houser PR at [email protected].

Often a predictor of the annual Academy Award for Best Animated Feature, the Annie Awards honor overall excellence as well as individual achievement in a total of 28 categories ranging from best feature, production design, character animation, and effects animation to storyboarding, writing, music, editing and voice acting. Entries submitted for consideration were from productions that originally aired, were exhibited in an animation festival or commercially released between January 1, 2011 and December 31, 2011.

Animated Fragments #16

FoxRetro X-Mas Spot by Váscolo (Argentina)

Thor facial rig test in Softimage by Stephen McNally (Ireland)

Strip Tease by Natalianne Boucher, Camille Chabert, Marine Feuillade and Naïmé Perrette (France): “The technique consists of ‘cut-out’ animation (cutted paper, here added to tissues) then back projected on a wall and shot frame by frame.”

African plains, manes and stolen meals by Chris O’Hara (Ireland): “Featuring audio from Planes, Trains and Automobiles.

X-Ray, Ace & Son studio bumper by Kelsey Stark (US)