Double Negative Uses Luxology’s modo to Make John Carter’s Alien World a Reality

Quick Turnaround Times for 3D Modeling, Painting, and Texturing Assignments Help VFX House Meet Big Studio Expectations for Just-Released Space-Epic

LONDON, UK — March 20, 2012 — Award-winning international VFX studio Double Negative didn’t have to leave Earth to go to Mars, they just designed it in-house with the help of Luxology®’s modo® software. Tasked with the creation of costumes and expansive alien worlds for John Carter, two artists looked to modo’s flexible modeling, painting and UV texturing tools for the key detail and texture displacement work that was needed to bring the environments and props on that red planet to life.

“modo is an underrated program in our business,” said Robin Konieczny, Double Negative Senior Artist and Environmental Build Lead. “It’s a constant choice in my workflow, as it allows me to model and texture quickly. This was especially helpful when I was modeling and UVing intricate structures like the Gates of Iss.”

For Barsoom’s environments, Robin and Jonathan used modo’s SubD modeling tools to shape favored assets of the Thark Ruined City with little to no texture distortion. SubDs were chosen for their ability to depict organic surfaces and cut hours of smoothing time off of any multi-res sculpting; and because of modo’s artist-friendly modeling framework, they were able to easily jump back and forth between the software’s poly and SubD tools anytime a need arose.

When a full scale 3D environment wasn’t necessary, modo was used for 2.5D matte painting and the formation of low-res buildings that achieved the effect of a layered cityscape without taking precious hours of production time. For an aerial shot of the Ape Arena, the speed of modo became an essential force that helped one artist quickly set up a 3D scene and determine the appropriate parallax and projection geometries that were requirements for a final stereo shot planned for Nuke.

“modo’s speed allowed me to quickly get through what could have been a very long and difficult process,’ said Jonathan Opgenhaffen, Lead Matte Painter at Double Negative. “It also allowed me to really focus on the artistic side of the process (my favorite), and on other important pieces of detail work, like maintaining continuity between my shots and setting up my matte painting work with lighting passes and modo’s rapid render preview.”

“modo is going to perform for you whether you are using it on a building, a character or even a gigantic upside down pyramid like we did here,” added Konieczny. “It’s dependable, fast, and fun. Not all software can boast as much.”

Disney’s John Carter is in theaters now.

Digital Domain Institute’s CEO To Speak At NYC’s Maxim Group Growth Conference on March 26

PORT ST. LUCIE, Fla., Mar 22, 2012 — Digital Domain Media Group, a leading digital production company focused on visual effects, original content animation and major studio co-productions, announced that Jonathan Teaford, CEO of Digital Domain Institute, the company’s for-profit post-secondary educational institution, will be presenting at the Maxim Group Growth Conference. The presentation is scheduled for 1:30pm EDT on Monday, March 26, 2012, at the Grand Hyatt Hotel in New York City.

Toei Animation Appoints Producer Iriya Azuma as Director of Global Licensing Business Department

TOKYO, Japan – Toei Animation announced that it has appointed Iriya Azuma Director, Global Licensing Business Department.

In his new role as Director, Global Licensing Business Department, Azuma will direct international licensing strategies for its top brands.

Azuma, who joined Toei Animation in 1986, has produced some of the company’s most iconic series, including Sailor Moon and Toei’s first series aimed at an older audience, The Legend of the Gambler — TETSUYA. After serving as Executive Vice President at Toei Animation Inc. (TAI), he oversaw development of the mobile websites for its popular brands, Dragon Ball Z and Slam Dunk.

“Toei’s consumer products are as historic as the properties themselves,” said Azuma. “I look forward to opening up licensing programs in new territories while maintaining ingenuity in top markets like the U.S. and Latin America.”

“The Sweatbox”, the Documentary That Disney Doesn’t Want You to See

Disney has kept The Sweatbox locked out of sight for the past decade, but the 2002 documentary was posted online yesterday by an eighteen-year-old cartoonist in the UK. First, a little background on the film from Wade Sampson:

In 1997, musical performer and composer Sting was asked by the Walt Disney Company to write the music for a new animated feature called Kingdom of the Sun. It was to be directed by Roger Allers who was basking in the success of his work on The Lion King. Sting agreed, on the condition that his wife, filmmaker Trudie Styler, could document the process of the production with their own production company, Xingu Films…Sting’s wife was given unlimited access when it came to Production No. 1331 (aka “Kingdom”). She and her camera sat in on story meetings for the movie, rolled while actors auditioned as well as taping Sting while he recorded the score. No one expected two years into the production, it would shift direction drastically.

The Sweatbox is at turns infuriating, hilarious and enlightening. You’ll cringe in sympathy with the Disney artists as you see the gross bureaucratic incompetence they had to endure while working at the studio in the 1990s. The film not only captures the tortured morphing of the Kingdom of the Sun into The Emperor’s New Groove, it also serves as an invaluable historical document about Disney’s animation operations in the late-1990s. If any questions remain about why Disney fizzled out creatively and surrendered its feature animation crown to Pixar and DreamWorks, this film will answer them.

UPDATE: I just checked another copy of the film and it appears that the version of The Sweatbox posted on YouTube is an earlier cut of the film. The final theatrical version was 86 minutes long with a significantly different opening. I haven’t watched both side-by-side to draw further comparisons between these two versions.

(via @crazymorse)

UK Approves a “Wallace and Gromit” Tax Break

Discussions of government tax subsidies tend to be fairly dry affairs, unless they involve Wallace and Gromit:

Aardman Animations, the studio behind Wallace and Gromit, Arthur Christmas and the upcoming The Pirates! Band of Misfits, had earlier threatened to leave the UK if it did not receive a tax break for TV productions. It would follow in the footsteps of other UK TV producers who had already left the country, including Bob the Builder (now produced in the US), Thomas the Tank Engine in Canada and Noddy in Ireland. The new corporate tax relief scheme announced this week will benefit UK-based TV animation studios as well as video game production companies. You can read more about what this means at the Guardian website.

Alhambra’s Nucleus Gallery To Host Release Party For Titmouse’s “Mook Vol. 2″ on April 7th

On April 7th, 2012 at Nucleus Gallery, Titmouse inc. (the animation studio behind the Adult Swim hit series Metalocalypse, Superjail!, China, IL, Black Dynamite; Disney’s MotorCity; and a pile of other cartoony-type things) puts out its second Mook anthology.  Art, comics, and interviews printed on fancy paper, featuring words and pictures birthed from classy artist-types.

Dave Johnson’s “Flatulene returns us to the world of sex appeal and gas-destruction; Metalocalypse director, Jon Schnepp, takes another peak into the realm of ultra-jerks; Travis Millard’s “Street Bros” is back for another psychedelic trip through memory-stain; Randy Cunningham art director, Otto Tang, explores lips and pussies; Black Dynamite writer, Brian Ash, takes us through the eyeballs of legendary P. Funk visual artist Overton Loyd; while Richard “DIKO” Mather, Israel Sanchez, Matt Taylor, and other artists made things with their hands and brains for your primate eyeballs.

Conveniently named Mook Vol 2, the cover is twice as thick, the paper is twice as stiff, and the art is in twice-full color.   Plus double-more Mook and Titmouse art in the gallery.

Jim Henson Company to Make “Sid The Science Kid” 3D Animated Feature

Hollywood, CA — The Jim Henson Company has signed an agreement with its first partner in China, Nine Eyes Stone & Shanghai Animation Film Studios, to co-produce Sid The Science Kid: The Movie, based on the Company’s popular television series.  The all new feature film is the Company’s first animated movie available in both a 3D format and standard HD.  The announcement was made today by Lisa Henson, CEO of The Jim Henson Company, and Al F. Barry, Chairman of Nine Eyes Stone.  The Jim Henson Company represents worldwide rights to the movie outside of China, including all theatrical, television, DVD and digital platforms and will meet with international buyers for the feature film at the upcoming MIPTV market. As part of the financing agreement, Nine Eyes Stone & Shanghai Animation Film Studios has obtained distribution rights for both the existing series and new film in the Chinese market.

“The Sid The Science Kid television series has proven to be incredibly popular in many key territories around the world.  We know there is high demand for 3D movies across all platforms so the time is right to extend the brand into its first, full-length feature, with our new co-production partners Nine Eyes Stone & Shanghai Animation Film Studios,” comments Henson.

“Introducing Sid The Science Kid in China is a tremendous opportunity for Nine Eyes Stone & Shanghai Animation Film Studios, and we look forward to collaborating with the many talents at The Jim Henson Company to bring this critically-acclaimed property to a whole new audience,” states Barry.

Continuing to encourage youngsters’ early exploration of science, Sid The Science Kid: The Movie will feature Sid and his classmate Gabriela who enter a science experiment contest and win the exclusive opportunity to experience a new modern science museum before it opens to the public. At the museum, they meet contest winners from China, and together they encounter aquirky scientist, voiced by special guest Christopher Lloyd (Back to the Future), who has designed robot tour guides of the future. When one of the robots goes haywire, it is up to Sid and his friends to work as a team to find the rogue robot and save the day.

The new feature is written by long-time show runner Bradley Zweig, who also serves as an executive producer.  Other executive producers are Lisa Henson and Halle Stanford for The Jim Henson Company.  For Nine Eyes Stone, Al F. Barry is the executive producer and David Miller is producer. The Jim Henson Company is handling all ancillary distribution of the property including licensing, video and merchandising.

Titmouse Releases Second Volume of Anthology Book “Mook”

Coming at yah like a train full of custard, Titmouse Inc. releases Mook Vol 2. The animation studio behind the Adult Swim hit series Metalocalypse, Superjail!, China, IL, Black Dynamite; Disney’s MotorCity; and a pile of other cartoony-type things, puts out its second Mook anthology of art, comics, and interviews. Printed on fancy paper. Featuring words and pictures born from the brutal minds of classy artist-types.

Dave Johnson’s “Flatulene returns us to the world of sex appeal and gas-destruction; Metalocalypse director, Jon Schnepp, takes another peak into the realm of ultra-jerks; Travis Millard’s “Street Bros” is back for another psychedelic trip through memory-stain; Randy Cunningham art director, Otto Tang, explores lips and pussies; Black Dynamite writer, Brian Ash, takes us through the eyeballs of legendary P. Funk visual artist Overton Loyd; while Richard “DIKO” Mather, Israel Sanchez, Matt Taylor, and other artists made things with their hands and brains for your primate eyeballs.

“I’m proud of this book like the first book,” said studio president and Titmouse Mook chief editor, Chris Prynoski, “because this one came after the one before it.” Then foreign art director, Antonio Canobbio, said something… in French.

Conveniently named Mook Vol 2, the cover is twice as hard, the paper is twice as thick and the art is in double-full color.

Mook Vol 2 available in Los Angeles and New York City-area comic bookstores, art galleries, and through the studio’s online store, www.titmousestuff.com.

“Opus III”, An Early Abstract Masterpiece by Walter Ruttmann

To fully appreciate Opus III by German filmmaker Walter Ruttman, it’s worth it to first look at a typical cartoon from 1924, such as this one:

Now, here is Ruttman’s short from the same year:

This is not to claim that Ruttmann’s short is better. Rather, it’s an illustration of how abstract animation doesn’t become dated as quickly as representational animation because its creation is not predicated upon the stylistic trappings of its era. Eighty-eight years separate Ruttmann’s work from animation today, but the graphic forms used in his film are the same building blocks–raw and unadorned–used by artists today.

A largely neglected figure in animation history, Ruttmann’s work influenced many who followed him, including Oskar Fischinger, Hans Richter and Norman McLaren. He holds the distinction of being the first filmmaker to publicly screen an abstract animated short–it was on April 27, 1921 when he presented Lichtspiel Opus 1 in Berlin’s Marmorhaus. Fischinger was in attendance at the theater that evening.

Shortly after he made the short Opus III, he animated on Lotte Reiniger’s The Adventures of Prince Achmed, which was the first European animated feature. Reiniger said of Ruttman: “[He] invented and created wonderful movements for the magic events, fire, volcanoes, [and] battles of good and evil spirits.” Ruttman also made significant live action films, such as Berlin: Symphony of a Great City (1927).

Ruttmann’s personal history is fascinating and far too complex to be covered in such brief space. A trained architect and painter, he worked as a graphic designer prior to becoming involved with film. He fought in WWI, suffered a nervous breakdown and spent time recovering in a sanatorium. Historian Giannalberto Bendazzi labeled him a “contradictory intellectual” because he was “a follower of the left [who] later unconditionally supported Hitler.” Indeed, Ruttmann was involved in the production of Leni Riefenstahl’s propaganda film Triumph of the Will in 1935. He died in July, 1941, from wounds suffered on the front lines as a war photographer.

UPDATE: Stephen has followed this post with an excellent write-up about Opus III that places Ruttmann’s work in the context of art history and painting.

(Hat tip, @FezFilms)

“Do The Love” by Studio 4ºC

Beautiful stuff from Studio 4°C (Tekkonkinkreet, The Animatrix, etc.). This is for a new web promotional series called PES: Peace Eco Smile for Toyota Motor Corporation. It’s a romantic-comedy in animation about an alien called PES and a human named Kurumi. Do for Love, directed by Yuichiro Hayashi, has just gone online. It’s in Japanese and looks more like a trailer… but it’s delicious anime eye candy:

(via Anime News Network)

Telegael Appoints Siobhán Ní Ghadhra As New Chief Operating Officer

Galway, Ireland - Telegael is pleased to announce the appointment of Siobhán Ní Ghadhra as its Chief Operating Officer. The role of Chief Operating Officer (COO) is a new position within the company and in this new role Siobhán will be responsible for the day-to-day operations of Telegael and its subsidiary companies.

Under the new structure, CEO Paul Cummins will focus on further developing the external potential of the company, building and managing strategic relationships globally and identifying new business opportunities and partners.

“The appointment of COO is an important strategic move for the company at this point in time” said Paul Cummins, Telegael’s CEO. “In excess of 90% of our output is for the global market which is reflected in the establishment of overseas offices in London and Los Angeles in recent years. We have also grown our activities to include the development and production of long run live action television series as well as childrens’ animated series. As Telegael’s Head of Production for the last twelve years, Siobhán has a wealth of experience in all aspects of live action and animation production and I look forward to her bringing this experience as well as her strong inter-personal and organizational skills to her new role as COO”.

Speaking of her new appointment as COO, Siobhán Ní Ghadhra said: “I am truly honoured to be given such an opportunity and also to be in a position where I can continue to work with our amazing team here at Telegael. I am really looking forward to embracing the new role”.

Speedshape Hires Chad Cooper As Director Of Business Development

Detroit/LA/NY/London — Speedshape has signed Chad Cooper as director of business development for the hybrid CGI, interactive, 3D company. Cooper, who brings 13-years of experience in advertising and post production to his new post, will head-up client services and new business at the company’s Detroit-based flagship facility. In addition, he will oversee the growth of its East and West Coast satellite divisions as Speedshape expands its staff and services to accommodate its growing national client roster in the commercial, broadcast, digital media and film arenas.

Previous positions as VP/Partner at Milagro Post, a creative editorial and finishing spot house, and CloudSparks, a digital firm specializing in custom web development — as well a brief stint as associate director of operations at Leo Burnett – enable Cooper to traverse the advertising, broadcast, film and interactive markets and provide him with well-rounded skill sets ideally suited to Speedshape’s cross-platform client base.

“Chad understands the business from multiple perspectives,” notes Speedshape co-founder, Tom Stone. “He has the depth of knowledge needed to help clients get the most out of both traditional and digital projects, and navigate the bridge between them.”

In addition to his long-standing relationships with Mid-West agencies, Cooper brings a knowledge of ‘the big picture’ to the table, and the skills to help guide the expansion of Speedshape in major markets. ”

“Speedshape has earned a stellar reputation in the Mid-West as a high-end CGI, interactive, design and 3D company with a collaborative group of multi-discipline talent that works closely with clients, as a collaborative creative partner,” notes Cooper. ”I’m thrilled to have the opportunity to join their team.”

“I’m looking forward to meeting the every-changing needs of Speedshape’s clients as they embrace more complex creative solutions to creating innovative traditional content, as well as interactive and cross-platforms campaigns,” continues Cooper. “At the same time, the opportunity to help helm the expansion of Speedshape’s Venice Beach facility and its new satellite division in New York, to ensure that it provides Speedshape’s signature high-end services on a national scale, is very exciting.”

Cooper will also focus on introducing the company and its expanded complement of services to a broader range of advertising agencies, corporations, television networks, and filmmakers looking for a seamless, one-stop approach to creating innovative media content.

Call For Entries: SIGGRAPH Asia 2012

SIGGRAPH Asia gathers the best of the industry and academia, where researchers, innovators, artists, producers and industry professionals present their ideas and concepts to the community.

This year, SIGGRAPH Asia will introduce a new program — Technical Briefs. The other programs include: Art Gallery, Computer Animation Festival, Courses, Emerging Technologies, Posters, Symposium on Apps, and Technical Papers.

Important Deadlines:

Art Gallery — 5 June 2012
Computer Animation Festival — 3 July 2012
Courses — 7 June 2012
Emerging Technologies 26 June 2012
Posters — 20 August 2012
Symposium on Apps — 7 June 2012
Technical Briefs — 20 August 2012
Technical Papers — 22 May 2012

Student Volunteers: Applications Now Open
Always wanted to attend the SIGGRAPH Asia conference and trade exhibition, network with, and learn from the industry’s leaders and innovators? Experience all this while assisting and supporting Asia’s leading computer graphics and interactive techniques event as a Student Volunteer. Applications are open, sign up now!

Red Robot Labs Partners With Next Media Animation To Enter Asian Market

MOUNTAIN VIEW, CA–(Mar 21, 2012) - Red Robot Labs announced today its entrance into the Asian market though a strategic partnership with the Taiwan-based company Next Media. Next Media Animation, an associated company of Next Media Group, plans to build on Red Robot’s proprietary R2 mobile gaming platform, while Red Robot will leverage Next Media’s market expertise to launch Life Is Crime in Asia. In addition to being the first third-party studio to build on the platform, Next Media has also invested $5 million dollars to accelerate the development of location-based gaming in Asia.

“As a location-based platform company looking to expand globally, Asia was the obvious next step for us,” said Mike Ouye, Co-founder and CEO of Red Robot Labs. “After seeing Next Media’s dedication to the creation of innovative content so similarly mirrored our own business objectives, we knew we had to work with them. I have no doubt they’ll build cool games on our platform. They are the first of many third party studios that will be building location-based games on R2.”

The Next Media partnership and Asia expansion is the next aggressive step in Red Robot’s global growth. It follows their December entrance into the UK through the acquisition of Supermono and the January debut of Life is Crime on iOS. The game’s location-based play is ideal for the fast-growing Asian gaming market, with its dense urban centers and sizable MMO fan base.

“Next Media Animation is known for creating addictive content. We have been looking to expand into location-based gaming, but we were waiting for the right technology. We found it in Red Robot’s R2 platform. We can’t wait to let our creatives loose on their cutting-edge technology to see what we can do,” said Jimmy Lai, Chairman of Next Media.

Red Robot Labs was formed in January 2011 and released their first location-based, mobile game, Life Is Crime, on Android in August at the Penny Arcade Expo. The game now boasts communities throughout the UK, Canada and the United States and has enjoyed continued success as one of the top 10 highest grossing Android apps for five months, with well over a million downloads. Life is Crime hit No. 2 on the iTunes Free Apps chart the week of its release. The game will debut in Hong Kong on March 21, followed by Taiwan & Japan.

Creative Week Returns to New York City May 7th – 11th

Top creatives converge to celebrate advertising, design, digital media & the arts

Adobe & Microsoft Lead Corporate Embrace of Creative Week

Diverse roster of thought leaders to include @radical.media, Co: Collective, Droga5, JWT, International Center of Photography, The Jim Henson Company, kbs+p, The New Yorker Cartoon Bank, the Nederlander Organization, Playbill, Rock & Roll Fantasy Camp, Rapp, R/GA and Taxi

NEW YORK, NY (March 21, 2012) — The 4th edition of Creative Week returns on May 7-11, 2012, with four major awards shows; an all-new, enriched roster of thought leadership programming; the Creative Unconference, and new unique special events. Conceived by The One Club and proclaimed an annual city-wide event in May by the Office of the Mayor, the weeklong celebration is designed to connect, enlighten, honor and inspire the creative community.

“Just as creativity and the passion that drive it evolve, Creative Week is evolving in breath and scope and is transforming itself into one of the world’s most anticipated festivals,” said Kevin Swanepoel, President at One Club. “This year’s events again promise to deliver first-class creative work from all corners of the globe and we look forward to welcoming the world to New York City the week of May 7.”

The 2012 program blends thought leadership Seminars by day and major awards shows on May 7, 8, 10 and 11. On the evening of the 9th, the midway point of Creative Week, all-new special events will be staged in partnership with Amy Poehler’s “Upright Citizens Brigade” sketch comedy and improv troupe in Manhattan and Digital DUMBO in Brooklyn. The evening of events along the Brooklyn waterfront is part of a broader move to weave America’s 4th largest City–Brooklyn–into the fabric of Creative Week.

Also returning to Creative Week is the “unConference,” where the brightest minds in the creative industry gather for a faced-paced, free-form, highly interactive session to answer this year’s prompt “What I Learned From…,” share ideas and explore opportunities emerging in today’s shifting media landscape. The final Unconference session also will be conducted in Brooklyn on Thursday, May 10 at the Front Street Galleries.

Stillwell Partners, best known as the organizers of the annual industry confab, Advertising Week, is partnering with The One Club for the first time this year to elevate Creative Week. “Creativity is the new currency of global commerce,” said Matt Scheckner, President & CEO of Stillwell Partners. “We are thrilled to build on what The One Club has established and give the industry a broader opportunity to embrace the ideal stage for a worldwide celebration of creativity: New York City.”

“With more than 100 digital agencies and start-ups in DUMBO alone, the move Creative Week is making to cross the bridge into Brooklyn is a natural. Brooklyn’s the new creative capitol and Creative Week is going to thrive here,” said Alexandria Sica, Executive Director of the DUMBO Business Improvement District.

Creative Week Seminars will take place at two venues with programming running concurrently. Manhattan’s City Winery in lower Manhattan will host seminars on May 7 & 8. Brooklyn’s Galapagos Art Space will host Seminars May 7-9. Among those conducting Seminars are:

  • @radical.media
  • The Advertising Club of New York
  • BuzzFeed
  • Co: Collective
  • Deutsch
  • Droga5
  • International Center of Photography
  • HUGE
  • JWT
  • kbs+p
  • Momentum
  • Our Stage
  • Rapp
  • The Jim Henson Company
  • Tribeca Disruption Innovation Awards
  • The New Yorker Cartoon Bank
  • Strawberry Frog
  • VCU Brandcenter
  • Victor & Spoils

And the evenings include many of the world’s leading creative awards including:

  • The One Show Awards – Announcing winners of the prestigious One Show, One Show Design and One Show Interactive international competitions
  • Art Directors Club Annual Awards Show and Exhibition

Creative Week’s focus on talent is also retained with such programs as:

  • The Education Summit – A forum for advertising’s top professionals and educators to discuss the current state of the industry, trends, and best methods to prepare our next generation of creatives for the job market
  • The Young Ones Portfolio Reviews – An opportunity for college and university students in advertising and design to have their portfolios reviewed by leading creative directors

Today on Stu’s Show

Today I will once again sit down with Stuart Shostack for another hard hitting, riveting interview, covering a wide range of animation subjects. Stu’s Show will be broadcast live at 7pm Eastern/4pm Pacific at StusShow.com. It’s an internet radio program and its free to listen live today. After that, you can download the show anytime for 99¢. Today, we will be discussing all the latest events in animation – past, present and future. And especially Looney Tunes, Tom & Jerry, Noveltoons, UPA on DVD. We’ll take questions via phone and email from listeners; we might also talk about Terrytoons. Join us and listen in here.

TCM To Screen “Snow White & The Seven Dwarfs” For 75th Anniversary on April 14th at Grauman’s Chinese Theatre

For the second consecutive year, the TCM Classic Film Festival will celebrate the legacy of The Walt Disney Studios. Turner Classic Movies (TCM), in collaboration with D 23: The Official Disney Fan Club, will present a 75th anniversary screening of Walt Disney’s Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs (1937), Disney’s first hand-drawn feature-length animated film. In addition, legendary actor Kirk Douglas will present the first general public screening of the newly restored (from original camera negatives) live-action adventure, 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea (1954).

On Saturday, April 14, Walt Disney’s Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs will screen at Grauman’s Chinese Theatre at 1 p.m. This film revolutionized the art of animation with its cutting edge technique, design and storytelling — setting animation in pursuit of an ever more realistic look. Moreover, it demonstrated animation’s viability as a legitimate cinematic art form. The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences bestowed a special Academy Award® on Walt Disney, recognizing Snow White as “a significant screen innovation which has charmed millions and pioneered a great new entertainment field.” The unique Oscar® trophy consisted of one full-sized statuette standing next to seven miniature versions. The film also earned an Oscar® nomination for Leigh Harline’s memorable score.

In 1997, Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs was named one of the 100 Greatest Films of All Time by the American Film Institute (AFI). The following year, the AFI named it the greatest American animated film of all time.On Friday, April 13, at 2:45 p.m., Hollywood legend Kirk Douglas will be present at Grauman’s Chinese Theatre for the first public screening of the newly restored 1954 adventure film epic, 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea, t he first live-action feature film shot at Walt Disney’s Burbank studios. Disney recruited an A-list cast including Kirk Douglas, James Mason and Paul Lukas, and a set budget of $9 million, the largest in Hollywood history at that time.

Walt Disney had originally planned to turn Jules Verne’s tale of Captain Nemo’s battle to wipe out warfare into an animated feature. But when he saw designer Harper Goff’s preliminary sketches, he decided to make the switch to live action. To film the massive production — the studio’s first in CinemaScope — Disney added a water tank and a third soundstage to his studio, rented additional space from 20th Century-Fox and Universal, and sent cast and crew to the Caribbean for underwater shooting. His technicians also had to develop new equipment for the film’s many underwater scenes and create a giant, two-ton squid for the film’s most impressive sequence.

20,000 Leagues Under the Sea went on to earn two Oscars®, one fo r the eye-popping visual effects and one for John Meehan and Emile Kuri’s art direction and set decoration. The film earned a third nomination for Elmo Williams’ editing.

Operation Undersea, an episode of the Disneyland TV series highlighting the creation of the film, won Emmys® for Best Individual Program of the Year (1955) and Best Television Film Editing.

UPA, UPA, and Away!

They’re out… and as Tony the Tiger would say: “They’re Grrrr-reat!

I will go out on limb right now and declare TCM’s UPA: The Jolly Frolics Collection the DVD of the year. This thing is loaded (full disclosure: I was involved in the process). It is beautifully and cleverly packaged and contains a 16-page booklet with brief essay by UPA historian Adam Abraham, capsule biographies of key UPA personnel, a UPA chronology chart with key events and a release chart timelime, plot synopsis and more…

The three discs themselves are packed with incredible restorations of 38 UPA cartoons. These restorations are so good, they will force many to reevaluate their opinions of these films. Cartoons I’d long dismissed as inferior – The Oompahs, The Miner’s Daughter, Baby Boogie and others – are suddenly vibrant, colorful and clear; what the filmmakers intended, and a lot better than I’d thought. Compare the frame grab of from my personal bootleg video copy of The Man On The Flying Trapeze (thumbnail below left to enlarge) with the restoration (below, center) to give you a small idea of the difference. Even if you have no interest in UPA, I think you’ll come to understand their importance through this set.

Sony went to great lengths to restore the cartoons on this collection – restoring original front and end titles (like the Fox & Crow title (below) from their first theatrical, Robin Hoodlum). Alas not every title could be restored (though most are), but what is here is from the original negs – and they are a pleasure to see anew.

I’m not even mentioning the bonus materials (Concept art, model sheets, storyboards, color styling sketches, background, publicity stills, movie poster galleries – and more, including audio commentaries and a Leonard Maltin introduction). If you’ve ordered it, it’s on the way. If you haven’t – what are you waiting for?

Adam Abraham’s important new history of UPA – When Magoo Flew – has also just been published by Wesleyan University Press. I’m not going to review it right now – but I will be giving a copy or two away in a pop-quiz contest sometime on Thursday. Adam will be in L.A. a week from Friday to sign copies of the book at LACMA, at the UPA tribute I’m hosting on March 30th. (Tickets available nowhint, hint!).

Adam has just launched a companion website for his book, When Magoo Flew.com, intended to utilize the archive of material he assembled while writing the book. More material will be added soon… but bookmark his new website now!

Spacejunk Acquires L.A. Based Studio Nylon


Spacejunk & Nylon have joined forces to enhance the creative reach for both studios, each known for vibrant, brand-boosting projects. The blending of the studios, under the Spacejunk moniker, expands headquarters in Columbus, Ohio with a strategic presence in Los Angeles.

Spacejunk is more than a creative studio with powerhouse talent: It is a company built on an ethos that blends innovation, style, camaraderie, production acumen and trust. The culture and creativity at Spacejunk springs from a staff-based model with experienced producers, creative directors, animators, designers and editors comprising the Spacejunk team. Since its inception, the company has earned loyal clients including Victoria’s Secret, Aeropostale, Totes/Isotoner, Bath & Body Works, FOX, Nationwide, HP, LensCrafters, Wizards of the Coast, Herbal Essences and Vitamix.

“Our relationship with Nylon marks a natural next step for Spacejunk, and enhances our ability to make meaningful connections with clients around the country,” notes company Co-Founder/Managing Director Robb Dierken. “Our combined resources as well as our shared business and creative philosophies have made for a seamless integration.”

Nylon is widely known for creating inspiring work across multiple platforms, infusing projects with dynamic animation and compelling narratives. Nylon’s clients include ABC, Honda, Footlocker, RPA, Syfy, CN, WDCW, Pontiac, Bose, Nickelodeon, Planet Green, Iosono, Disney, ESPN, MTV and more. For Nylon founder Joe Montalbano, the studio merger and combined creative power means increased client interaction and industry engagement.

“Spacejunk has an amazing team inspired to push creativity ever higher,” comments Montalbano, now Spacejunk’s EP/New Business Development. “By coming together we have a national reach and exposure with the equity of both studios aligned. I am very excited to introduce this evolution to existing and new clients.”

Spacejunk’s mission control is the stylish expression of form meets function: A beautiful studio in the heart of the warehouse district in downtown Columbus, Ohio. In addition to being a hub of creativity, Spacejunk’s studio is often cited as a favorite hangout for clients and a place where the team comes together to play after hours. See more of Spacejunk and the team here: http://spacejunkmedia.com/#/work/project/68

“To the outside world, Columbus, Ohio remains an enigma,” comments Creative Director Mike Beaumont, ”But locals know it as a rival to Austin or Portland: a university town with a strong arts and food scene. Spacejunk is influenced by so many elements, local and otherwise. These passions inform our work and produce a vital culture at Spacejunk.”

The Foundry Releases Nuke 6.3v7

London, UK — Leading visual effects software developer The Foundry has released the latest update of its industry standard compositing systems NUKE and NUKEX. The Foundry’s NUKE products are renowned for being both open and scriptable, giving different types and sizes of studio the flexibility to adapt them to fit into their own specific pipelines.

NUKE & NUKEX 6.3v7

This release concentrates on making the movement of assets between NUKE and NUKEX, and other software packages as painless as possible.

EVEN MORE COMPATIBLE

NUKE & NUKEX 6.3v7 offer a number of notable improvements for users working with The Foundry’s other software applications. Additionally, the release introduces smoother workflows in and out of widely used third party products including Adobe Photoshop, Silhouette and Pixar’s RenderMan.

Layered PSD Support has been significantly enhanced in NUKE 6.3v7, allowing users to bring Adobe Photoshop layered PSDs directly into NUKE and NUKEX. The update means facilities can now access layers in up to 16bit PSD files with automatic layer/node-graph conversion using metadata.

The NUKE<>MARI bridge has been improved by mirroring MARI’s UDIM functionality in NUKE to support multiple texture patches per model. Specifically in NUKEX, the RenderMan integration has been extended to provide users with greater control and the ability to inject and manipulate RIB files and statements.

INTEGRATED COLOUR STANDARD

In this latest release, The Foundry has implemented industry standard colour management through the integration of new OpenColorIO (OCIO) developed at Sony Pictures Imageworks.

The introduction of OCIO to NUKE and NUKEX means that colour management is now unified across all of The Foundry’s software offerings, so users will see the same colour in NUKE as they do in MARI, HIERO and KATANA. The OCIO standard is also being adopted by other software applications including Silhouette.

NUKE Product Manager, Jon Wadelton comments: “Our clients are all unique. We want NUKE and NUKEX to be flexible and open enough to fit perfectly into any pipeline. We know our clients use a diverse range of tools to get the job done and want to make NUKE as compatible as possible. This release is all about improving the workflow between the different software applications our clients want to use. The introduction of the OCIO standard across all our products is a big step towards improving colour consistency across our clients’ workflows.”

“Dr. Seuss’s Green Eggs and Ham & Other Stories” Deluxe Edition DVD & Blu-ray Coming June 26, 2012

WARNER HOME VIDEO RELEASES ANOTHER BELOVED DR. SEUSS CLASSIC ON BLU-RAYâ„¢ FOR THE FIRST TIME WITH DR. SEUSS’S GREEN EGGS AND HAM AND OTHER STORIES DELUXE EDITION
ON JUNE 26, 2012

Release Features Three Fully Re-mastered Dr. Seuss Classics Plus Bonus Material

Available in a Blu-rayâ„¢ Combo Pack that Includes
an UltraVioletâ„¢ Digital Copy*
*Limited Time Offer. Restrictions and Limitations apply. Does not include iTunes Digital Copy file. Go to ultraviolet.flixster.com/info for details.

BURBANK, CA (March 20, 2012) — Warner Home Video will dish up another treat from Dr. Seuss with the release of Dr. Seuss’s Green Eggs and Ham and Other Stories Deluxe Edition, a collection of favorite animated stories available on Blu-rayâ„¢ for the first time on June 26, 2012. Dr. Seuss’s Green Eggs and Ham and Other Stories Deluxe Edition will be comprised of three classics, including Green Eggs and Ham, The Sneetches and The Zax. All three have been re-mastered for this deluxe edition, which will be available in a standard DVD edition that will include an Ultravioletâ„¢ digital copy and will also be available in a Blu-ray combo pack that includes both a Blu-ray and DVD edition plus an Ultravioletâ„¢ digital copy. The Blu-ray edition will retail for $24.98 SRP and the standard DVD edition will retail for $19.97 SRP.

Dr. Seuss is serving up laughs and lessons in the newly re-mastered TV classic, Green Eggs and Ham. Join Sam-I-Am and his persistent attempts at introducing a reluctant fellow to a most delectable dish. Their escapades take them across a zany landscape while assembling a cast of characters that only the imagination of Dr. Seuss can bring to life. Will Sam-I-Am convince his new friend to take a chance and finally try something new? Find out in this timeless tale the whole family will enjoy.

Then meet The Sneetches, who teach us that being yourself is the best way to fit in while the story of The Zax reminds us that there is nothing to gain from being stubborn. So bring an appetite for a full course meal of fun that will fill your heart and mind!

Dr. Seuss’s Green Eggs and Ham and Other Stories Deluxe Edition includes four bonus interactive online puzzles.

Dr. Seuss’s Green Eggs and Ham and Other Stories Deluxe Edition brings some of Dr. Seuss’s finest literary work to life. We are delighted to offer these remarkable animated stories to consumers in a fully re-mastered, deluxe edition,” said Mary Ellen Thomas, Vice President Family & Animation Marketing and Partner Brands. She added, “Each of these stories impart several valuable moral lessons such as the importance of having an open mind, accepting those around you without being judgmental, learning to be flexible and much more. It’s the perfect DVD for kids because they’ll walk away not only having been entertained but also having learned something meaningful.”

This release will include an UltraVioletâ„¢ Digital Copy which allows consumers to download and stream the series via Wi-Fi to computers and compatible iOS and Android devices.

Other Dr. Seuss titles available on Blu-ray from Warner Home Video include the classic tale of Dr. Seuss’s The Lorax Deluxe Edition, Dr. Seuss’ How the Grinch Stole Christmas!, and Horton Hears A Who!. Dr. Seuss’s Holidays on the Loose! is available on standard DVD.

“Cartoons Kick Ass”

Somebody recently posted (in four parts) the entire British Channel 4 TV program Cartoons Kick Ass. This special was taped in 2000 and as far as I know only aired once, late in the evening, and never seen beyond Great Britain. It includes interviews with John Kricfalusi, J.J. Sedelmaier, Ralph Bakshi, Mike Judge, ASIFA-SF’s Karl Cohen (author of Forbidden Animation, which I believe was the basis of the program), animation historians Bill Moritz, Paul Wells and me. It dared to include X-rated animation and other images that can offend, so assume that it is NSFW.

Part 1 is embed below. Click here to see Part 2, Part 3, and Part 4.

The Beatles’ “Yellow Submarine” Feature Film Restored for May Release on DVD and Blu-ray

LONDON, March 20, 2012 — The Beatles’ classic 1968 animated feature film, Yellow Submarine, has been digitally restored for DVD and Blu-ray release on May 28 (May 29 in North America). The film’s songtrack album will be reissued on CD on the same date.

Currently out of print, the film has been restored in 4K digital resolution for the first time by Paul Rutan Jr. and his team of specialists at Triage Motion Picture Services and Eque Inc. Due to the delicate nature of the hand-drawn original artwork, no automated software was used in the digital clean-up of the film’s restored photochemical elements. This was all done by hand, frame by frame.

Bonus features for the Yellow Submarine DVD and Blu-ray include a short making-of documentary titled “Mod Odyssey” (trt:7), the film’s original theatrical trailer, audio commentary by producer John Coates and art director Heinz Edelmann, several brief interview clips with others involved with the film, storyboard sequences, 29 original pencil drawings and 30 behind-the-scenes photos. Both Digipak packages will include reproductions of animation cels from the film, collectible stickers, and a 16-page booklet with a new essay by Yellow Submarine aficionado John Lasseter (Chief Creative Officer, Walt Disney and Pixar Animation Studios).

Lasseter writes in his essay, “As a fan of animation and as a filmmaker, I tip my hat to the artists of Yellow Submarine, whose revolutionary work helped pave the way for the fantastically diverse world of animation that we all enjoy today.”

Directed by George Dunning, and written by Lee Minoff, Al Brodax, Jack Mendelsohn and Erich Segal, Yellow Submarine began its voyage to the screen when Brodax, who had previously produced nearly 40 episodes of ABC’s animated Beatles TV series, approached The Beatles’ manager Brian Epstein with a unique vision for a full-length animated feature.

Yellow Submarine, based upon a song by John Lennon and Paul McCartney, is a fantastic tale brimming with peace, love, and hope, propelled by Beatles songs, including “Eleanor Rigby,” “When I’m Sixty-Four,” “Lucy in the Sky With Diamonds,” “All You Need Is Love,” and “It’s All Too Much.” When the film debuted in 1968, it was instantly recognized as a landmark achievement, revolutionizing a genre by integrating the freestyle approach of the era with innovative animation techniques.

Inspired by the generation’s new trends in art, the film resides with the dazzling Pop Art styles of Andy Warhol, Martin Sharp, Alan Aldridge and Peter Blake. With art direction and production design by Heinz Edelmann, Yellow Submarine is a classic of animated cinema, featuring the creative work of animation directors Robert Balser and Jack Stokes with a team of animators and technical artists.

“I thought from the very beginning that the film should be a series of interconnected shorts,” remembers Edelmann. “The style should vary every five minutes or so to keep the interest going until the end.” These styles included melding live-action photography with animation, 3-dimensional sequences and kaleidoscopic “rotoscoping” where film is traced frame by frame into drawings. The entire process took nearly two years, 14 different scripts, 40 animators and 140 technical artists, ultimately producing a groundbreaking triumph of animation.

On April 24, Candlewick Press will release a new, compact hardcover edition of the Yellow Submarine picture book, a read-aloud journey for the whole family. Featuring the lighthearted wit of the film’s script alongside original artwork from the movie that has charmed children and adults through several generations, the beautiful, 40-page book will be sold by retailers everywhere and on the Beatles Store. An interactive digital version of the book is also available as a free download on Apple’s iBookstore for iPad, iPhone and iPod touch at www.iTunes.com/TheBeatles .