TRAILER: “The Last Belle” by Neil Boyle

Last Belle

Fifteen years in the making.
35,000 hand drawn, hand-painted cels.
Shot onto 35mm movie film on a rostrum camera.

This is Neil Boyle’s The Last Belle, a recently completed short that will be playing on the festival circuit in 2012. If the mind-bending subway shot in the trailer reminds you of Richard Williams’s The Thief and the Cobbler, that’s no accident. Boyle worked as an assistant animator to Williams and the layout artist on Boyle’s short, Roy Naisbitt, also laid out the wild perspective scenes in The Thief and the Cobbler. Boyle discussed the path he’s taken to making this short on his website:

“I came into the animation industry on Who Framed Roger Rabbit and at 20 years old I was one of the youngest there. I was lucky enough to learn from the Disney veteran Stan Green (who had been assistant to the legendary Milt Kahl on many classic Disney films) and I became assistant animator to Richard Williams who was (and remains) amazingly generous with his vast knowledge of animation lore and technique. I was in the middle of all this, the archetypal kid-sponge, sucking up all the information I could. And then one day I went to bed and woke up 40 years old. Or so it seems. Then I was surrounded by a new wave of 20 year olds who – unlike me at that age – were already masters of their craft: the digital age of animation. So I had (and have) a lot more learning to do. The Last Belle is the project I’ve used to bridge the gap between old and new. A chance not just to read about the ‘old ways’, but to try them all out for real, guided by veterans of the craft.The interesting next step is to combine the old with the new and see where it takes us…”

More info and a blog with fascinating making-of details can be found on TheLastBelle.com. Enjoy it while you can because this will surely be among the last hand-drawn, cel-painted films shot on 35mm.

Rich Magallanes Named Senior Vice President of Nickelodeon Animation, Current Series

BURBANK, Calif. — Jan. 12, 2012 — Rich Magallanes has been promoted to Senior Vice President, Nickelodeon Animation, Current Series. In this new role, Magallanes will manage Nick’s animation series’ Executives in Charge and oversee production of current animated series including Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, SpongeBob SquarePants, Kung Fu Panda: Legends of Awesomeness and The Penguins of Madagascar. The announcement was made today by Brown Johnson, President, Nickelodeon Animation, to whom he will report.

“Rich is a Nick veteran. During his 15 years with the company, his creative imprint has touched everything from SpongeBob SquarePants to Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. He embodies the perfect combination of creative chops and executive leadership necessary to drive our animation business forward,” said Johnson.

Magallanes began his career at Nickelodeon in 1997 as a freelance story consultant working on shows such as Rugrats, The Wild Thornberrys and Angry Beavers. He has also been instrumental in launching some of Nickelodeon’s biggest current animated hits, including SpongeBob SquarePants, The Fairly OddParents and The Penguins of Madagascar.

Prior to his new role, Magallanes was Vice President of Animated Current Series, overseeing daily management of the current series staff and serving as Executive in Charge on core franchises. He also managed the Nickelodeon Writing and Artist Fellowship Programs at the Burbank Animation Studios, which helps advance the careers of talented writers trying to break into the business. He also co-developed and managed the production of Nickelodeon’s highly-anticipated re-boot of the iconic Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles franchise set to debut in 2012.

As Nickelodeon’s Executive Director of animated and live-action series, he oversaw the production of shows such as Danny Phantom, ChalkZone, The Fairly OddParents, El Tigre and Ned’s Declassified School Survival Guide. He produced The Fairly OddParents’ “Fairly OddBaby” (Feb. 19, 2007)–the series’ highest-rated telecast ever (8.8 million total viewers)–and was the studio executive behind The Fairly OddParents “Wishology” trilogy. Magallanes also worked on the development of Butch Hartman’s newest Nick hit, T.U.F.F. Puppy, which is the #2 animated program among kids 2-11 on all of TV, behind SpongeBob SquarePants.

Magallanes has been active in Nickelodeon’s various diversity initiatives over the years and is a member of the West Coast Diversity Team. In addition to representing Nickelodeon at several domestic film festivals and industry related functions he has extended the animation studios’ outreach efforts beyond the US to Puerto Rico, China and Europe.

Prior to Nickelodeon, Magallanes worked in production on several motion picture and independent films, and as a staff news writer for KSDO AM 1130 in San Diego. He is a graduate of San Diego State University with a Bachelor’s of Arts degree in Journalism.

“Two Against One” by Chris Milk & Anthony Schepperd

It’s a virtual guarantee that every time Philly-based Anthony Francisco Schepperd creates a piece of animation, it’s going to be more incredible than the time before. I don’t know how he keeps topping himself, but the guy is a one-man animation monster. He delivers again with stunning drawn animation on “Two Against One,” a music video he co-directed with Chris Milk for Danger Mouse and Daniele Luppi. He animated the entire thing in TVPaint with some After Effects thrown in, but let’s face it, software doesn’t make a damn difference in his case. It’s all skill, baby.

News Around The Net for Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Spanish Academy of Cinematic Art and Science Reveals 2011 Goya Award Nominees (Animation Magazine)

Yusei Kamen Anime Writer Akira Adachi Passes Away (AnimeNewsNetwork)

Coolabi US Distro Deal for Poppy Cat TV Series (Kidscreen)

Canada’s Yowza Animation to Produce Preschool Show Chirp for CBC (Animation Magazine)

Unreleased plot for New Series by Harlock Creator Leiji Matsumoto Unearthed & In Production (AnimeNewsNetwork)

“Arthur Christmas” Wins Golden Tomato Award for Best Reviewed Animated Film of the Year

Culver City, CA — January 12, 2012 — Arthur Christmas – the Aardman production for Sony Pictures Animation that answers the question, ‘So how does Santa deliver all those presents in one night?’ – continues to collect post-holiday presents from critics groups across the country, as the 2011 awards season starts to pick up speed.

The 3D release, which has already been nominated for both a Golden Globe and a Critics’ Choice Award as the year’s Best Animated Feature, just received the Golden Tomato Award for the Best Reviewed Animated Film of the Year. The Tomato was bestowed by the popular movie destination website RottenTomatoes.com, which scores feature releases based on critical reception, with Arthur Christmas receiving the highest score of any animated feature of 2011.

The Sony Pictures Animation release has already earned Best Animated Film awards from critics’ groups in the Midwest and Southern California as well as six Annie Awards nominations honoring excellence in animation, and two Visual Effects Society Awards nominations recognizing outstanding visual effects artistry. The Broadcast Film Critics Association will announce winners at the 17th Annual Critics’ Choice Movie Awards on January 12; the 69th Annual Golden Globe Awards telecast will be broadcast on January 15 on NBC.

“The Art of Pho” Motion Comic

Our friends at The Submarine Channel have just launched a brand-new motion comic based on Julian Hanshaw’s graphic novel The Art of Pho (Random House); four of eight webisodes are now online.

The Art of Phowebsite contains additional info, as well as a Making Of” video and interviews with illustrator/animator Hanshaw and animation director Lois van Baarle. A beautiful, worthwhile project – take a peak:

John Canemaker’s “Moon and the Son” on DVD

The Moon and the Son

John Canemaker‘s 2005 Academy Award-winning animated short The Moon and the Son: An Imagined Conversation is finally out on DVD. While Cartoon Brew readers are no doubt familiar with Canemaker’s tremendous body of work as an animation historian, his career as an independent animator is equally substantial, with his most impressive work being this deeply affecting 28-1/2 minute portrait of his Italian-American immigrant father and the troubled relationship he had growing up with him.

The DVD is a great self-contained lesson in filmmaking. It comes packed with a 16-minute documentary about the making of the film, the entire first rough cut which Canemaker narrated himself before John Turturro came on board, and two image galleries containing the storyboards and concept artwork. The rough cut in particular is revealing and shows how Canemaker expanded the dialogue and added to the ending, which both made the film more impactful. The storyboards in the image gallery are a wonderful addition, but I often found myself wanting to see the storyboards in greater detail since DVDs aren’t an ideal format for presenting still artwork. The DVD is available is on Amazon for $30.

“Adam and Dog” trailer

Just a heads up on a new personal short by Disney visual developement artist Minkyu Lee. It was just nominated for an Annie Award, but it hasn’t been widely seen yet. Minkyu sent us the trailer with this note:

This is a short film that me and a group of my close friends made. It was put together by artists who work at various studios, including Disney Feature, Dreamworks and Pixar; The animation is done by myself, Jennifer Hager, James Baxter, Mario Furmanczyk, Austin Madison, and Matt Williames. Glen Keane also helped by being a consultant on the film, and also doing some visual development. It is a completely independent film without any major studio involvement. We are really excited for people to see it, and wanted to share.

Here’s a few scenes to whet your appetite:

Studio Ghibli Retrospective Opening in Los Angeles

GKIDS Brings 20-Year Studio Ghibli Film Retrospective To The Egyptian And Aero Theatres in Los Angeles

14 Titles from 1984 to 2004, Including Hayao Miyazaki Masterpieces Spirited Away, Princess Mononoke, My Neighbor Totoro, Castle In The Sky, Nausicaa of the Valley of the Wind

***New 35mm Prints***

January 26 to February 12th At The Egyptian And Aero Theatres

Advance Tickets On Fandago

Information at 323-466-3456 or http://www.americancinemathequecalendar.com/content/castles-in-the-sky-miyazaki-takahata-and-the-masters-of-studio-ghibli

L.A. Run Follows Record Breaking Run At N.Y.’s IFC Center

Retrospective To Visit Chicago, DC, Toronto, Boston, SF, Seattle And Other Major Markets

New York, New York — January 9, 2012 — GKIDS, a distributor of award winning animation for both adults and family audiences, is bringing a 20-year retrospective of films from Japan’s renowned Studio Ghibli to Los Angeles. Presented by American Cinematheque, the films will play at the Egyptian and Aero Theatres in Los Angeles from Thursday, January 26 to Sunday, February 12.

Fourteen Studio Ghibli feature films produced between 1984 and 2008 will be presented, including Hayao Miyazaki’s Academy Award® winning Spirited Away, Princess Mononoke, My Neighbor Totoro, Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind, Castle in the Sky, Howl’s Moving Castle, and Kiki’s Delivery Service. Films will be shown in either the subtitled or English dubbed versions. (See below for a complete list of titles.)

The Los Angeles run follows an enormously successful debut for the retrospective at New York’s IFC Center. The event opened at IFC on December 16, grossing $32,500 week one, $33,700 week two, and $56,700 week three. The event helped IFC set several single-day records for the complex (including biggest Monday, biggest Wednesday, and biggest Thursday) and contributed to the second busiest period since the theater opened.

GKIDS recently entered into agreement with Studio Ghibli to handle North American theatrical distribution for their library of animated features. Following the Los Angeles engagement, the retrospective will tour to major North American markets, including Chicago, Washington DC, Toronto, Boston, San Francisco, Seattle, and other cities, throughout 2012. GKIDS is also planning limited releases of select Studio Ghibli titles, many of which have never been released theatrically in the US, beginning late 2012.

Eric Beckman, GKIDS president, said, “I am both excited and deeply honored to be working with Studio Ghibli to bring this amazing slate of films to theaters across North America. I am in continual awe of the brilliance of the animation, the depth and humanity of the storytelling, and of the filmmakers’ understanding that even the youngest audiences are capable of appreciating all the subtlety and nuance that cinema has to offer. The response from audiences in New York was absolutely phenomenal and we look forward to sharing these wonderful films with Los Angeles area movie-goers.”

STUDIO GHIBLI FILMS — THE EGYPTIAN AND AERO THEATRES — JAN 26 TO FEB 12

STUDIO GHIBLI FILMS — THE EGYPTIAN AND AERO THEATRES — JAN 26 TO FEB 12

Title Director (Producer) Versions Year RT
Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind Hayao Miyazaki (Isao Takahata) Subtitled 1984 116 min
Castle in the Sky Hayao Miyazaki (Isao Takahata) Subtitled 1986 126 min
My Neighbor Totoro Hayao Miyazaki (Toru Hara) Subtitled and dubbed (Dakota Fanning, Elle Fanning, Tim Daly, Frank Welker) 1988 86 min
Kiki’s Delivery Service Hayao Miyazaki (Hayao Miyazaki) Dubbed (Kirsten Dunst, Phil Hartman, Janeane Garofalo, Debbie Reynolds) 1989 102 min
Only Yesterday Isao Takahata (Toshio Suzuki) Subtitled 1991 118 min
The Ocean Waves Tomomi Mochizuki (Nozomu Takahashi) Subtitled, digital only 1993 72 min
Porco Rosso Hayao Miyazaki (Toshio Suzuki) Subtitled 1992 94 min
Pom Poko Isao Takahata (Toshio Suzuki) Dubbed (J.K. Simmons, Brian Posehn, Tress MacNeille, John DiMaggio) 1994 119 min
Whisper of the Heart Yoshifumi Kondo (Toshio Suzuki) Subtitled 1995 111 min
Princess Mononoke Hayao Miyazaki (Toshio Suzuki) Subtitled 1997 134 min
My Neighbors the Yamadas Isao Takahata (Toshio Suzuki) Subtitled 1999 111 min
Spirited Away Hayao Miyazaki (Toshio Suzuki) Dubbed (Daveigh Chase, Jason Marsden, Michael Chiklis, Susan Egan) 2001 125 min
The Cat Returns Hiroyuki Morita (Toshio Suzuki) Dubbed (Anne Hathaway, Cary Elwes, Peter Boyle, Elliott Gould, Tim Curry, Andy Richter, Kristen Bell, Avril Lavigne) 2002 75 min
Howl’s Moving Castle Hayao Miyazaki (Toshio Suzuki) Dubbed (Christian Bale, Lauren Bacall, Billy Crystal) 2004 119 min

NewTek Appoints Carter Holland EVP, Worldwide Marketing

SAN ANTONIO, TX — NewTek announced that Carter Holland has joined the company as executive vice president of worldwide marketing, with responsibility for NewTek’s global brand image and integrated marketing efforts. He will drive the company’s corporate and product positioning, branding and identity, public relations, demand generation campaigns, and global market penetration to ensure strong customer growth and revenue performance.

“For 2012 we plan to expand our global footprint by capitalizing on the momentum we have created in the live production and streaming markets,” said Jim Plant, NewTek president and CEO. “Carter’s background in the media and entertainment industry, along with his 20 years of experience leading companies through aggressive growth periods and brand evolution, make him the ideal leader to manage the execution of NewTek’s global growth strategy in the year ahead and well into the future.”

Prior to joining NewTek, Holland held a range of marketing leadership positions at Avid Technology. From 2000 to 2007, he implemented global programs that helped double the company’s revenues to just under $1 billion annually. As vice president of corporate marketing, from 2008 to 2011, Holland led the successful consolidation of the Pro Tools, M-Audio, Sibelius, Pinnacle and Avid brands into a new corporate identity for the company. In addition to his experience with Avid, Holland was a management consultant in the areas of change management, organizational research, and communications for Fortune 100 and 500 companies.

“NewTek has a long history of pioneering innovation in live video production and 3D animation, and it’s incredibly exciting to join a company that is playing such a distinctive leadership role in transforming the way people capture, produce and distribute live video content,” said Holland. “Global online video distribution and consumption is increasing at unprecedented rates. NewTek is at the center of this trend, enabling virtually anyone to get in the game — whether it’s an aspiring professional with an idea for webcasting to the masses, or an established business or broadcaster seeking more cost effective and efficient live production methods.”

“Why Mosquitos Buzz in People’s Ears & More African Folktales” to DVD on January 31, 2012


Perfect for celebrating Black History Month and learning about stories from the African tradition, Scholastic Storybook Treasuresâ„¢ presents five stories on DVD, two of which have never before been released: Not So Fast Songololo and Mufaro’s Beautiful Daughters In the title tale Why Mosquitoes Buzz in People’s Ears — a Caldecott Medal winner and West African origin story from author Verna Ardema and illustrators Leo and Diane Dillon — a mosquito lies to a lizard, who puts sticks in his ears and ends up frightening another animal, which down a long line causes a panic. In the end, an owlet is killed and the owl is too sad to wake the sun until the animals hold court and find out who is responsible. The mosquito is eventually found out, but hides in order to escape punishment. So now, it constantly buzzes in people’s ears to find out if everyone is still angry at it. Other stories include Hot Hippo and The Village of Round and Square Houses, and the DVD includes Scholastic’s ever-popular read-along function.

The original stories have won the prestigious Caldecott Medal Award, the Horn Book Fanfare Award, and more. Combined, the original books have sold more than 150,000 copies. The Scholastic Storybook Treasures DVDs consistently win awards from the Oppenheim Toy Portfolio, Parents’ Choice, NAPPA and other organizations.

BONUS FEATURE

Innovative Read Along Function

PROGRAM INFORMATION

Type: DVD/Single
Catalog #: NNVG254491
Running Time: 60 minutes
Genre: Kids’/Animation
Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
Audio: Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo

Street Date: January 31, 2012
SRP: $14.95

THIS THURSDAY IN LA: Bob McIntosh Paintings

Painting by Bob McIntosh

This Thursday, January 12, Trigg Ison Fine Art (9009 Beverly Blvd, West Hollywood, CA 90048) will host the opening reception for “American Optimism: Celebrating the LA Art Scene 1935 — 1980.” The show will feature an eclectic mix of artwork by at least a dozen regional artists, including numerous works by Disney and UPA background painter Bob McIntosh, who passed away in 2010. In addition, there will be some newly discovered paintings by another fine artist with a strong animation connection–Oskar Fischinger. There’ll also be some pieces by Jirayr Zorthian, a SoCal painter who didn’t work in animation, but whose work had a strong cartoon aesthetic. Zorthian was friendly with some animators, particularly Ward Kimball. The opening is from 6-9PM, and an RSVP is required by emailing info (at) triggison (dot) com.

“Wizards” coming to Blu-ray

As blu-ray catches on with consumers, more and more vintage animation is getting a hi-def make-over. Disney has been releasing its features, one by one, in this format for years. Warners has just begun releasing classic Looney Tunes and Tom & Jerry shorts on blu-ray.

20th Century-Fox has now jumped into its vault and has remastered Ralph Bakshi’s Wizards for blu-ray release on March 13th. I remember loving this flick when I first saw it back in the seventies. It inspired Wendy Pini’s cult comics masterpiece Elfquest, and was the catalyst for several animated fantasy features that followed in the next few years (Heavy Metal, Rock & Rule, not to mention Bakshi’s own Lord of The Rings). I always remember Wizards as Mark Hamill’s other 20th Century-Fox fantasy film from 1977 (you-know-what was the other one).

The Wizards blu-ray is being tied to the film’s 35th Anniversary, and being released in “Digi-book” format which packages the disc inside a commemorative 24-page book. The book features an introduction from Ralph and is illustrated with much rare artwork from his personal collection. The film comes with audio commentary by Ralph, a documentary Ralph Bakshi: The Wizard of Animation, theatrical trailers and TV spots and 300 still photos.

So what do you think? Has time been kind to Wizards? How does it hold up in your opinion?

Disney Junior Basic Cable & Satellite Channel Set to Launch Friday, March 23, 2012, in the U.S.

Highlighted by Hits Jake and the Never Land Pirates, Mickey Mouse Clubhouse, New Channel will introduce Doc McStuffins, New Editions of A Poem Is… And a Magical World of Disney Junior Movie Block
Learning and Development Curriculum Guided by Council of Leading Academics

Disney Junior, a 24-hour basic cable/satellite channel expressly for kids age 2-7 and their parents/caregivers, will launch FRIDAY, MARCH 23 (12:00 midnight, ET/PT) in the U.S., joining 28 other Disney Junior channels around the world. The announcement was made today at the Television Critics Association Press Tour in Pasadena, California, by Gary Marsh, President and Chief Creative Officer, Disney Channels Worldwide. Disney Junior was introduced as a daily programming block on Disney Channel in February 2010 and, year to year, its ratings are up 26% among Kids 2-5 and 36% among Boys 2-5.

The popular Disney Junior daily programming block will continue on Disney Channel while the new 24 hour channel will fulfill parents’ demands for quintessentially Disney programming throughout the day. The Disney Junior channel will be available via major cable and satellite providers Comcast, Time Warner Cable, Cablevision, Bright House Networks and Verizon, among others. Additional information regarding Disney Junior is available at DisneyJuniorTheChannel.com.

Marsh said: “This marks the beginning of a sea change in the ‘preschool plus’ television landscape. The response to our Disney Junior programming block has been extremely positive from both our affiliate partners and our viewers’ parents. On March 23, when it launches as a stand-alone channel, our audience will have the opportunity to experience an engaging, learning-focused and uniquely Disney destination on a 24-hour basis.”

Disney Junior invites mom and dad to join their child in the Disney experience of magical, musical and heartfelt stories and characters, while incorporating specific learning and development themes designed for kids age 2-7. A council of academic advisors comprising experts in the fields of child development, transmedia, storytelling, early education and creativity will guide Disney Junior’s learning and development curriculum.

Nancy Kanter, Senior Vice President, Original Programming and General Manager, Disney Junior Worldwide, said: “Disney Junior series each have specific curriculum experts and now, to maximize overall learning value, we are deepening our conversation to include a channel advisory council that will share research and knowledge in the world of education and bring important perspectives on innovations in early childhood learning.”

The 24 hour Disney Junior schedule will include daily telecasts of Jake and the Never Land Pirates (the #1 series among Boys 2-5 for 2011) and the hit series Mickey Mouse Clubhouse. It will also introduce the animated series Doc McStuffins at launch, and will feature new editions of the acclaimed short-form series A Poem Is… and a weekend movie block, Magical World of Disney Junior. New interstitials featuring Disney heritage characters, including Sebastian and Flounder from The Little Mermaid, Mrs. Potts and Chip from Beauty and the Beast, and pups Lucky and Pepper 101 Dalmatians, will also debut.

Rovio, Samsung Partner to Bring “Angry Birds” Game & Animated Shorts on Samsung Smart TVs

Angry Birds for Samsung TVs will be available this year as well as animated Angry Birds shorts

LAS VEGAS, Jan 09, 2012 (BUSINESS WIRE) — Samsung Electronics Co., Ltd. today announced that it is partnering with Rovio to bring its worldwide gaming phenomenon, Angry Birds, to Samsung Smart TVs. Samsung will also be working with Rovio to offer new animated Angry Birds shorts on Samsung Smart TVs. This content will be available in 2012 on Samsung Smart TV models. Samsung TVs will become the first TVs to support the hit game without the need for an external set-top box.

“With the introduction of Angry Birds, Samsung is expanding its leadership in Smart TV with must-have games our consumers demand,” said Eric Anderson, vice president of content and product solution at Samsung Electronics America. “Our partnership with Rovio is not just around a single app — we will be working together to develop new ways to harness the latest Samsung technologies to deliver an incredibly immersive experience to consumers in the living room.”

Angry Birds animations will be available later this year on the Angry Birds TV channel through Samsung Apps, and will be compatible with 2010, 2011 and 2012 TVs.

“We are delighted to partner with Samsung to bring fresh Angry Birds content to Smart TVs all around the world,” said Peter Vesterbacka, Mighty Eagle and CMO of Rovio. “We are thrilled to announce for the first time with Samsung that our on-demand video animation channel featuring Angry Birds will be available on Samsung’s Smart TVs later in the year, and we will work closely with Samsung to deliver amazing new gameplay and video for Angry Birds fans everywhere.”

Disney XD To Launch “Marvel Universe,” Dedicated Marvel Programming Block


Disney XD will launch Marvel Universe, a dedicated Marvel programming block, with the new series Ultimate Spider-Man as its centerpiece, on Sunday, April 1, it was announced today by Gary Marsh, President and Chief Creative Officer, Disney Channels Worldwide at the Television Critics Association Press Tour in Pasadena, California. Marvel Universe on Disney XD will be the ultimate place for fans to find exclusive Marvel content, including new animated short-form series, live-action interstitials and the series return of The Avengers: Earth’s Mightiest Heroes. The block will be home to Marvel’s biggest superstars, such as Spider-Man, Iron Man, Hulk, Thor, Captain America and many more to introduce dynamic stories of action, adventure and heroism to a whole new generation.

Marsh said, “Iconic Marvel heroes and villains and stories with core values of accomplishment, discovery and growth make Marvel Universe a perfect complement to Disney XD and a destination for parents and kids to experience together.”

Marvel Universe block is an incredible animated ride filled with fantastic action and adventure,” said Jeph Loeb, Head of Marvel Television. “The spectacular team of writers and animators capture stories with all the dynamic fun you can imagine. Disney XD is the perfect place for families and Marvel fans of all ages to come together every Sunday.”

Acting as the keystone of the Marvel Universe block, Ultimate Spider-Man features a teenage Peter Parker juggling the typical growing pains of high-school with the not-so-typical growing pains of being a Super Hero. As the newest member of Nick Fury’s S.H.I.E.L.D. organization, Peter finds himself on a team with four other teenage Super Heroes.

Produced by Marvel Animation, the series’ award-winning creative team includes Joe Quesada (Marvel’s CCO), Paul Dini (Batman: The Animated Series, Lost), the creative powerhouse Man of Action Studios (creators of Ben 10 and Generator Rex), comprised of lauded creators Joe Casey, Joe Kelly, Duncan Rouleau and Steven T. Seagle; and Brian Michael Bendis (visionary behind Marvel’s Ultimate Spider-Man comic series).

The voice cast includes Drake Bell (Superhero, Drake & Josh) as Peter Parker/Spider-Man, Chi McBride (Boston Public, Pushing Daisies) as Nick Fury, JK Simmons (Spider-Man) as J. Jonah Jameson, Stan Lee (Spider-Man) as Stan the Janitor, Clark Gregg (Iron Man, Thor, The Avengers) as Agent Coulson and Steven Weber (Wings) as Norman Osborn.

Adult Swim Celebrates the 100th Episode of Robot Chicken with a thrilling five-day live Webcam event

The 100th episode of Robot Chicken, the Emmy Award®-winning series, premieres Sunday, Jan. 15 at 11:30 p.m. (ET/PT) on Adult Swim. Created by Seth Green and Matthew Senreich and their Stoopid Monkey Productions banner, Robot Chicken uses stop-motion animation to bring pop-culture parodies to life in a modern take on the variety/sketch show format.

“I’m proud and a bit shocked that we reached this milestone,” said Green. “It’s great to work with people you like and we are thrilled that the show’s fans continue to support our show and that our guest stars still like to come and play with us.”

To celebrate this momentous milestone for the series, Adult Swim has launched a five-day live action web cam event that asks and answers the probing question: ‘What happens when a robot and a live chicken are left alone in a motel room?’ Fans can watch all the action online starting today at RobotChicken.com, as a sweeping soap opera style romance unfolds before their eyes. The event will feature special guest star appearances throughout the week and viewers can have a say in what happens in the story via Facebook voting and posting comments, including naming the chicken. Fans can also follow the action on Twitter (#chickencamlove). Green, Senreich and Robot Chicken head writers/executive producers Tom Root and Douglas Goldstein, writer/producer Mike Fasolo, writers Zeb Wells, Matt Beans, Jessica Gao and executive producers Eric Towner and John Harvatine IV will be sending in their reactions via Skype all week long.

“Adult Swim always seems to venture into new territory with their promotions and we love to follow them down every crazy road or in this case, to a chicken-sized motel room,” said Senreich.

In the 100th episode, the creators imagine what the movie Sex and the City 3 would be like if made more guy friendly, Yogi Bear battles with the Power Rangers from Jellystone Park, find out why no one cares about Woody Woodpecker anymore and see the nail-biting, hair-raising, super big finish of season five in Robot Chicken’s 100th episode finale!

The Definitive History of Disney’s “Snow White” is Coming!

Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs

Since posting our 2012 animation book preview, I’ve updated the list with additional titles, and one of those books deserves its own post. It’s being released this winter in honor of the 75th anniversary of Disney’s first feature Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs. The title of the book is The Fairest One of All: The Making of Walt Disney’s “Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs” and the author is the esteemed J. B. Kaufman, whose earlier books South of the Border With Disney and Walt in Wonderland: The Silent Films of Walt Disney (with Russell Merritt) are highly valued for their original research and thoroughness.

In Kaufman’s able hands, this book has easily moved to the top of the heap as one of my most-anticipated animation books of 2012. The book will be published by the Walt Disney Family Foundation Press, and it will be accompanied by an exhibition of Snow White artwork at the Walt Disney Family Museum in San Francisco, currently scheduled to open in November.

Visual Effects Society (VES) Announces Nominees for 10th Annual VES Awards

Los Angeles — The Visual Effects Society (VES) today announced the nominees for its 10th Annual VES Awards ceremony recognizing outstanding visual effects artistry in 23 categories of film, animation, television, commercials, special venues and video games. Nominees were chosen Saturday, January 7 by distinguished panels of VES members who viewed submissions at the FotoKem screening facilities in Burbank and New York, FotoKem’s Spy in San Francisco, and other facilities in London, Sydney, Vancouver and Wellington, NZ.

“The standard of the creative work that is being considered this year is unbelievably high across all categories,” said Jeffrey A. Okun, Chair of the Visual Effects Society. “The judges faced a huge challenge because all of the work was so far above the norm. We’re honored to have the opportunity to focus the spotlight on the outstanding work that has contributed to some of the highest grossing films and broadcast projects of all time.”

As previously announced, Stan Lee will be honored with the VES 2012 Lifetime Achievement Award and Douglas Trumbull with the Georges Méliès Award.

The 10th Annual VES Awards will take place on Tuesday, February 7, 2012 at the Beverly Hilton Hotel and will air exclusively on ReelzChannel.

The nominees for the 10th Annual VES Awards are as follows:

Continue reading

International 3D Society Creative Arts Awards to Be Presented February 1st in Los Angeles

LOS ANGELES, Jan 09, 2012 (BUSINESS WIRE) — Expanding its Annual Awards recognition to a growing number of 3D content platforms and formats, the International 3D Society has announced fifteen Awards Categories for honors at it February 1st Awards Ceremony. The black tie Awards Dinner will be held at the Beverly Hills Hotel in Los Angeles, beginning at 7PM. In addition, Sony will be honored with the 2012 Sir Charles Wheatstone Award for education and advocacy.

The Society’s Lumiere(TM) statuettes will be presented for 3D excellence in Live Action Motion Picture, Animated Motion Picture, Documentary, Stereography, Live Broadcast, Sports, TV Commercial and Videogame. “World Awards” will be presented to winners for achievement from entries received from China, Japan, Korea, the UK, and Europe.

“We are very pleased to see the advancements in quality 3D that the nominations exhibited this year. The Society appreciates the opportunity to honor these winners and celebrate the impact 3D education is having on our leading filmmakers and technologists,” said Jim Mainard, Society Chair.

Lenny Lipton, Society Awards Committee Chair and 3D Inventor stated, “With the Creative Arts Awards, the 3D Society shines a light on artists’ use of the cinema’s most important technological advancement in recent years. Our task is to recognize achievement in order to encourage the aesthetic development of the medium.”

“Our celebration theme for the evening is ‘Art Form,’” said Society President, Jim Chabin. “From Hollywood, to Shanghai, to Paris and London, our honorees have expanded creative boundaries and raised 3D Entertainment to the level of fine art.”

Winners will be selected by the Society’s voting membership and select judging panels in both Los Angeles and New York, beginning Monday, January 9th.

The Show will employ XPAND 3D cinema systems. The Society serves the 3D community with education and recognition for stereoscopic 3D professionals.

Yahoo! to Present Tom Hanks’ New Digital Animated Series “Electric City”

Yahoo! to be the First Online Broadcast Partner for Hanks’ Groundbreaking Futuristic Series from Playtone and Reliance Entertainment

LAS VEGAS, Jan 09, 2012 (BUSINESS WIRE) — – Yahoo, the premier digital media company, today announced that they have joined forces with Playtone and Reliance Entertainment to bring Tom Hanks’ multi-dimensional animated series Electric City to Yahoo! in 2012. As the exclusive online broadcast home for Electric City, Yahoo! will bring Hanks’ vision and storytelling to a global audience. Set in a futuristic society, Electric City is a new 90- minute action-packed sci-fi adventure series, and marks Yahoo!’s first foray into original scripted programming. Electric Citywas created by and stars Tom Hanks.

The introduction of Electric City will take center stage at a private event at CES with Tom Hanks and Ross Levinsohn, EVP Americas, Yahoo! on January 10.

Electric City is a thought-provoking and engaging series and we are thrilled to be partnering with Playtone and Reliance Entertainment to bring Tom Hanks’ vision to the world on Yahoo! for the first time,” said Ross Levinsohn, EVP Americas, Yahoo!. “Electric City is so much more than just an online video series — it is an interactive and immersive experience from one of the world’s biggest stars and premier storytellers.”

“Yahoo! has clearly established itself as the go-to destination for big events and breaking news and we are focused on providing the best digital canvas for the world’s greatest storytellers to create, develop and showcase their visions,” said Levinsohn. “Electric City is further proof that we want to set the bar in premium online content and be the global home for groundbreaking ventures from the world’s best-known and next-generation artists.”

“It was always our intent to have this project live and breathe online and we felt Yahoo! would be the perfect home,” said Playtone’s Gary Goetzman.

“EElectric City is the first of its kind, a clutter-breaking, global 360 digital project. Working with Tom and Playtone has been an amazing experience and this series could not have been possible without Tom’s vision and creativity. We also feel that with its reach and technology, Yahoo! is the best distribution partner for this project,” said Amitabh Jhunjhunwala, Vice Chairman Reliance Group. “Electric City reinforces Reliance’s commitment to invest and innovate in the global entertainment industry. We will continue to create more global and multi-platform digital projects involving top Hollywood talent.”

What is Electric City?

The world as we know it has ended and out of the rubble, the Electric City stands as a symbol of peace and security. Yet under the veneer of order lies a world full of secrets and violence. Secret police, back-alley dealings, daring chases, and murder all find a home in the Electric City. Through the lens of a functioning, yet dystopian metropolis, Electric City touches upon relevant global issues and themes including energy consumption, freedom of information, crime and punishment and more. The story unfolds gradually, layering mystery upon mystery, inviting viewers to interact with the content and each other. Metaphors and symbols are woven throughout, creating a perfect environment for puzzle-solving and community interaction. Like good science fiction, Electric City raises provocative questions about our own way of life and value systems. Short-form connecting storylines combined with vivid animation and a compelling score will keep audiences watching, while metaphors and a range of subject lines will keep them guessing–and reflecting.

The Electric CityExperience on Yahoo!

Electric City will be shown as a multi-part series on Yahoo!, and will be supported by a deeply immersive and interactive online experience that enhances the drama, mystery and intrigue of the series.

Yahoo!’s interactive and social features will allow viewers to:

– Navigate non-linearly and learn more about the world of Electric Citythrough a 3-D interactive map

– Dig deeper into character back-stories and learn about the cast behind the characters’ voices

– Watch exclusive behind-the-scenes footage

– Post reactions and commentary directly to Facebook and Twitter

– Engage members of their social networks in discussions and debates about societal themes, events and characters and/or join the larger Electric City community discussion

– Engage in casual games and other content related to the series

Electric City will also live across multiple devices and comes enabled for tablet and connected TV. The series will be punctuated by special events, such as opportunities to watch exclusive content and to interact with the cast and creators. As a truly global entertainment experience, the series will also be available in numerous languages, including French and Spanish.

With 700 million users worldwide, Yahoo! provides the massive scale that Hollywood is looking for and Yahoo! knows better than anyone else how to program and market premium content for both the consumer and advertiser.

Electric City complements Yahoo!’s already robust portfolio of original online premium video programming which provides marketers a huge opportunity to align their brands with world class, premium content across the Yahoo! network. With 9 of the top 10* most watched shows on the web, (including omg! NOW, Primetime in No Time and Daily Ticker) — Yahoo!’s original video programs reach more than 26 million* people per month. Yahoo! continues to invest heavily in top quality video as evidenced by Electric City, its highly buzzed about women’s programming slate which launched in October, and its eagerly awaited comedy slate debuting February 2012.

500th Episode of “The Simpsons” Airs February 19th

The Simpsons Challenges Ultimate Fans To Break Longest Continuous Television Viewing

Contest Kicsk Off at Hollywood & Highland in Los Angeles on February 8 and Will Award Winner with $10,5000 Prize

500th Episode Airs Sunday, February 19, on FOX

In celebration of The Simpsons’ historic 500th episode milestone, FOX invites fans of the iconic animated series to participate in The Simpsons Ultimate Fan Marathon Challenge at Hollywood & Highland in Los Angeles. Beginning on Wednesday, Feb. 8, fans will come together to watch up to 500 continuous episodes of The Simpsons in an attempt to break the current Guinness World Record of 86 hours, 6 minutes and 41 seconds for the longest continuous television viewing. The contest winner will take home a $10,500 prize and an array of The Simpsons merchandise, including products exclusively designed to commemorate the 500th episode.

Fans interested in participating in the marathon event are encouraged to “like” The Simpsons on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/thesimpsons or visit http://www.thesimpsons.com to receive news updates including the exact date and time for open registration.

Members of The Simpsons will kick off the Ultimate Fan Marathon Challenge event at Hollywood & Highland on Wednesday, Feb. 8. Fans and spectators, meanwhile, will be able to watch the marathon and visit The Simpsons fanfare area equipped with interactive elements and animation cells. Fans living outside Los Angeles can stay up-to-date with the marathon challenge by visiting The Simpsons’ official Facebook page for event updates, video and photos from the event.

The Simpsons strides into its 500th episode, “At Long Last Leave,” on Sunday, Feb. 19 (8:00-8:30 PM ET/PT) on FOX. In the episode, the Simpsons are evicted from Springfield and join an off-the-grid community outside of town. But when Homer (voice of Dan Castellaneta) and Marge (voice of Julie Kavner) try to sneak back into Springfield, they are welcomed with hostility from their former friends and neighbors and begin to appreciate their new and more accepting home.

On Blu-ray and DVD, fans can enjoy and experience more from THE Simpsons with never-before-seen footage and extras.  Start your collection today with The Simpsons Season One and relive every moment of the longest-running scripted television show in history completely uninterrupted. Fans can also visit www.TheSimpsonsShop.com to get their hands on all of the latest THE Simpsons merchandise, and beginning in February, a special selection of products created exclusively to celebrate the 500th episode milestone.

In the all-new episode, “Politically Inept with Homer Simpson,” airing tonight (8:00-8:30 PM ET/PT), Homer lands his own political talk show after a video featuring his impassioned rant on poor treatment at the airport goes viral. As his talk show quickly gains popularity nationwide, Homer becomes the spokesperson for the Gravy Movement and the voice of America’s newest political party. But when ill-informed Homer is asked to select the next Republican nominee and officially endorses right-wing rock star Ted Nugent (guest-voicing as himself), Marge and Lisa (voice of Yeardley Smith) worry that Homer’s opinion and influence might be more powerful than he realizes.

THE Simpsons serves up a feast of guest voices this spring, including Lady Gaga who, in the season finale, teaches Lisa to love herself; contemporary artist and graphic designer Shepard Fairey; Bryan Cranston (Breaking Bad) who plays a fictional movie spy and teaches Homer to be a better husband; and Glenn Close reprising her role as Mona Simpson. Also, Lisa falls in love with actor/comedian Michael Cera (Scott Pilgrim vs. The World) on Valentine’s Day; actor Jeremy Irons (Die Hard with a Vengeance) plays Moe’s (Hank Azaria) only friend, a bar rag; and actor Armie Hammer (The Social Network) lends his voice to The D’oh-cial Network.

The Simpsons is a Gracie Films Production in association with 20th Century Fox Television. James L. Brooks, Matt Groening and Al Jean are the executive producers. Film Roman, a Starz Media Company, is the animation house.

Fox To Air Saturday Late-Night Animaed Block With Four New Series in 2013

Programming Will Run on New Late-Night Animated Block and Digital Channel Network Inks Exclusive Deals with Former Adult Swim Development Head Nick Weidenfeld and Producer Hend Baghdady

Building on its more than 20 years of animation domination, Fox Broadcasting Company (“FOX”) has created a new unit to oversee the development and production of alternative animated series, shorts and user-adapted material for a brand new late-night animated programming block and new digital multi-platform network, it was announced today by Kevin Reilly, FOX President of Entertainment.

To run this new unit, FOX has inked an exclusive deal with Nick Weidenfeld, former head of program development for Adult Swim and executive producer of acclaimed series Childrens Hospital and The Boondocks. The network has also tapped producer Hend Baghdady (Warren The Ape, The Andy Milonakis Show) as the executive in charge of production for the new division.

Under their leadership, the unit will develop and produce an ambitious slate of original animated shorts and series to run both on-air and online. The late-night programming block will air Saturdays (11:00 PM-12:30 AM ET/PT) on FOX and will feature four new animated series per season starting in January 2013.

The digital channel will extend across platforms such as Web, mobile apps, game consoles and Video on Demand.  It kicks off in 2012 and will feature 50 original short-form pieces per year, online windows of FOX animated shows, and user-adapted content. It will create a unique opportunity for fans and up-and-coming talent to engage with professional FOX-curated content, which they could possibly platform into their own series. FOX will also use its expertise and cross-promotional power to nurture these new assets through this pipeline.

“This may be the first time a network is building a clear bridge for talent to develop and grow ideas in the digital/alternative arena and organically move them into the mainstream,” said Reilly. “These new late-night series will be assets in their own right — but the clear possibility exists for a breakout digital success to graduate to primetime.”

“Nick had an incredible track record at Adult Swim and is a dynamic guy with the instincts to cultivate and produce inventive and irreverent series that animation fans love. Together with Hend, they are the perfect partners for us in this exciting new venture,” Reilly continued.

Prior to teaming with FOX under his Friends Night production company banner, Weidenfeld served as the head of Program Development for Adult Swim. Over the last eight years, Weidenfeld helped grow the late-night block of programming on Cartoon Network — featuring breakout hits such as Robot Chicken and Aqua Teen Hunger Force — into the No. 1 cable entertainment channel among young men. He executive-produced a variety of animated and live-action shows, including the Peabody Award-winning The Boondocks, Childrens Hospital, NTSF:SD:SUV::, Metalocalypse, Superjail! and China, IL, to name a few. In 2009, Weidenfeld co-created and co-wrote the animated hour-long cartoon, Freaknik: The Musical, starring Grammy Award-winning singer T-Pain as well as Cee Lo, Lil Wayne, Andy Samberg, and Bill Hader. The musical is currently being adapted for the stage. Most recently, he adapted the feature film Black Dynamite into an animated series and built a sketch show around the rap group and Internet sensation, Odd Future.

Hend Baghdady began her career in New York working on the first season of Crank Yankers with Jackhole Industries. Since then, she has developed, produced and created production formats and templates for live-action and animated comedy series for MTV, Comedy Central, and Adult Swim. Her most recent credits include the Community stop-motion Christmas special Abed’s Uncontrollable Christmas; the first strip animated show DJ & The Fro; The Andy Milonakis Show; Warren The Ape; and Kanye West’s pilot Alligator Boots.