Robert Rodriguez Reveals New Animation Studio, Quick Draw Animation

Filmmaker Unveils Austin-Based Animation Studio, Strategic Partnerships With VMG Entertainment and AMD at SXSW 2012

AUSTIN, TX, Mar 15, 2012 — SXSW – Filmmaker Robert Rodriguez announced today the launching of Quick Draw Animation, an animation studio to be based in Austin, TX. The new venture is a partnership between Quick Draw and London, UK based VMG Entertainment, a 100% subsidiary of Varam Media, a Chennai, India based media Company. Quick Draw Animation will allow Rodriguez to develop, produce and green-light animated film and television projects. “I started my career as a cartoonist when I created the Los Hooligans comic strip. It is nice to come full circle and return to animation. Quick Draw Animation will give me a whole new set of tools to create fantastic characters and to tell great stories.”

VMG Entertainment Chairman Mr. Ramkhumar Narasimhan said, “We are thrilled to be working with a filmmaker of Robert Rodriguez’s caliber and stature. Robert has created significant franchises such as The Mexico Trilogy, Sin City, Spy Kids and the Machete films; his prolific output and visual storytelling make animation a great fit for him.” Quick Draw’s Aaron Kaufman and Iliana Nikolic will produce for Quick Draw Animation.

VMG Entertainment CEO Mr. Sukumar Subramanian said, “With this partnership under the creative leadership of Robert Rodriguez and our huge talent pool across Europe and India, we are keen to make a niche in Hollywood showcasing our ability to quickly turn around high quality products continuously in the coming years, matching to the pace and creativity of Robert Rodriguez.”

Quick Draw Animation has started developing two animated features, each expecting to start production in the next year. One of the new company’s first projects is a family focused animated feature and the other is the multi-media realization of Heavy Metal inspired by the cult animated film and long running magazine. Rodriguez teased the audience with a glimpse of what the next generation of Heavy Metal will look like at last year’s Quick Draw Comic-Con presentation.

Quick Draw Animation will also include a technology partnership with AMD, part of a larger strategic alliance between Quick Draw and AMD, which will put AMD’s APU and cloud computing technologies at the heart of Quick Draw’s animation method. Said Leslie Sobon, AMD Corporate Vice President Marketing, “Robert Rodriguez has always used technology to push the boundaries of what is possible in filmmaking, and we look forward to seeing what Robert does with AMD technology in the realm of animation.”

The Hong Kong Animator Filmmmaker Society Celebrats 60 Years of Hong Kong Animation

The Hong Kong Animator Filmmaker Society will celebrate 60 years of Hong Kong Animation with a full schedule of exhibits and events at the 2012 edition of the Hong Kong International Film & TV Market (FILMART).

The 60 Years of Hong Kong Animation

This exhibit will showcase more than 90 pieces of original artwork from various eras of Hong Kong animation production. Sketches and storyboards from major films such as The Animated Idiom, Old Master Q and Atom will also be on display, along with the trophy from the Annecy Award presented to My Life as McDull. March 19-20, 2012

Other HKAFS events at FILMART include:

Best of the Best from HKAFS — Tribute to John Sinarwi
A tribute to John Sinarwi, one of the key people in the history of Hong Kong animation, will be held on March 19, from 2:00-3:30pm. Sinarwi is the founder of the legendary animation production house Quantum Studio, which produced many significant animated commercials during the 1980s.

Animation Production: The China Way
The Chinese government has put in much effort to support the animation industry. Guest speakers Frankie Chung, Keeto Lam and Tao Yuen will talk about their animation experiences while working in China. The seminar will be held on March 20, 2012, from 2:00-4:00pm.

Global Animation: The Next Step?
Guest speakers Eddy Wong (Menfond Electronic Art), Tony Willis (Blipvfx Productions) and Tony S. Izumi (Mad House-Beijing) will share their experiences in animation and talk about the new possibilities afforded by global animation production. The conference takes place March 21, 2012, from 10:00am — Noon.

A Squared Elxsi Hires Disney Vet Paul Robinson As President

Children’s entertainment executive, Paul Robinson joins A2E2 to lead international television and licensing division

Company to showcase new brands at MIPTV 2012 including Warren Buffett’s ’Secret Millionaires Club’

(March 15, 2012—Beverly Hills, CA) — Today A Squared Elxsi Entertainment LLC (A2E2), a joint venture between A Squared Entertainment and Tata Elxsi Ltd, announces the appointment of Paul Robinson as President, A Squared Elxsi International. The former KidsCo CEO and Co-Founder, and Walt Disney Company Senior Vice President of International Television, will establish a new London office with responsibility for content distribution in all formats, content acquisitions, consumer products and the continued international expansion of the company.

Paul joins a seasoned team of executives including Co-Presidents Andy and Amy Heyward, COO Greg Payne and CFO Harish Seth. The group is dedicated to producing “content with a purpose” that is as enriching as it is entertaining for kids. A2E2 is focused on producing transmedia original entertainment, acquiring new properties and being at the forefront of meeting customer and consumer needs that embrace today’s digital distribution opportunities.

“I can think of no other executive as talented and knowledgeable, (or as tall!) as Paul Robinson” said Andy Heyward, A2E2 Founder and Co-President. “We have ambitious plans to expand A2E2 internationally and no one is more qualified to lead this growth than Paul with his proven track record of success.”

During more than 15 years as an executive in the worldwide kids television market, Paul was most recently responsible for creating and building KidsCo, the global TV network for kids that he expanded into nearly 100 territories in 18 languages. As Senior Vice President of Disney/ABC Television he was responsible for global programming strategy for Disney Channels Worldwide as well as founding and expanding the Toon Disney and Playhouse Disney Channels internationally. Paul was also Managing Director for Walt Disney TV broadcasting and production in the UK.

“A2E2 is perfectly positioned to provide world class content to customers and licensees in today’s rapidly developing digital media industry. I will be leading our growth into international markets.” said Paul.

Paul will be responsible for the international expansion of A2E2’s growing portfolio of brands, including original productions as well as new acquisitions. The group will be showcasing a new series of 26, 30-minute episodes of Warren Buffett’s Secret Millionaires Club at the upcoming MIPTV conference in Cannes. In this new animated TV series, co-produced with Xing Xing Digital, kids learn about business through adventures with Buffett, and surprise guests such as Jay-Z, Shaquille O’Neal and Serena Williams to name a few. The fun, and informative series focuses on real-life situations any kid might face and helps to provide the tools necessary to make wise decisions in their lives. In addition to the 26 TV episodes and 26 shorts, an in-school curriculum has been developed to bring the lessons of Secret Millionaires Club into classroom with fun activities and competitions. In the U.S., the “Learn & Earn” promotion engaged more than 100,000 classrooms last year and ! finalists, grades 3-6, will be flown to Omaha to meet Mr. Buffett to present him with their business ideas.

Secret Millionaires Club isn’t about reading a balance sheet or about investing money,” says Executive Producer Heyward. “It’s about engaging stories that also teach kids good habits, with some interesting real life celebrity mentors adding to the fun.”

In addition to original productions, A2E2 also manages international brands like Build-A-Bear Workshop and is helping to expand the company into entertainment and licensed products, extending the brand outside of its 400 stores worldwide.

“Kids love Build-A-Bear all over the world,” said Paul. “We are eager to create new ways for kids to have fun with Build-a-Bear with new toys, digital products, entertainment, an infant line and more.”

Call For Entries: Animayo Festival 2012

International Festival of Animated Films, Visual Effects and Video Games
May 9 — 12, 2012

The call for entries for Animayo Festival 2012 is open!

Submit your short film, feature film, music video and animated or visual effects spots by March 23.

This year, for faster previews, contestants can upload their work to the password-protected Animayo Festival  site on Vimeo. For further information, and to download the entry form, visit www.animayo.com.

The Animayo Festival 2012 has also opened the call for its International Poster Contest, with a 600€ Prize + a special pass to visit the festival. Submissions can be sent to [email protected].

NFB’s BLA BLA by Vincent Morisset wins SXSW Interactive Award

Bla Bla

SXSW Interactive Art Award for BLA BLA by Vincent Morisset (NFB) at South by Southwest Festival

BLA BLA also wins an Entertainment Award at the annual Communication Arts Interactive Competition

Montreal, March 15, 2012 — Vincent Morisset’s interactive work BLA BLA, produced at the National Film Board of Canada (NFB), took the SXSW Interactive Award for Art at the prestigious South by Southwest Festival held in Austin, Texas. Earlier this week, BLA BLA was one of the winners of an Entertainment Award in the annual Communication Arts Interactive Competition, held by one of the best-known US magazines dedicated to graphic arts, advertising and design.

BLA BLA by Vincent Morisset, a Quebec filmmaker and interactivity pioneer who is world-renowned for his work with the band Arcade Fire, is a unique adventure determined by the interaction between the viewer and the website. Developed by AATOAA, BLA BLA is produced by Hugues Sweeney of the NFB. You can play it over (and over and over) at nfb.ca/blabla.

2011 Ursa Major Awards Voting Now Open

The annual Ursa Major Awards, for the best anthropomorphic (“funny animal”) literature and art of the year, is now open for voting for works produced during the calendar year 2011. The award, a popular-vote award, has been held every year since 2001; past winners and runners-up are listed on the awards’ website at http://www.ursamajorawards.org/ Finalists in the Best Motion Picture and the Best Dramatic Short Work or Series categories are often animated.

Nominations for the 2011 awards were held during January and February 2012. The final ballot, consisting of the five titles receiving the most nominations in each category, was announced on March 15th. Voting, which is open to the public, will be held from now until May 4th. The winners will be announced at a presentation on June 2nd at the Califur VIII convention at the Irvine Marriott Hotel in Irvine, California on June 1-3, 2012. For information on the CaliFur VIII convention, go to http://www.califur.com/2012/ To vote on the awards, go to http://www.ursamajorawards.org/Voting.htm for instructions.

The awards are presented in eleven categories: motion picture, dramatic short work or series, novel, short fiction, other literary work, graphic novel, comic strip, magazine, website, published illustration, and game.

The finalists in the Best Anthropomorphic Motion Picture category, from a total of 20 nominees, are:

Bitter Lake (FurPlanet Productions. Directed by Shay. Released August 19) [Live Action]

Kung Fu Panda 2 (DreamWorks Animation. Directed by Jennifer Yuh. Released May 26) [animation]

Puss in Boots (DreamWorks Animation. Directed by Chris Miller. Released October 28th) [animation]

Rango (Industrial Light & Magic. Directed by Gore Verbinski. Released March 4) [animation]

Rio (20th Century Fox Animation/Blue Sky Animation. Directed by Carlos Saldanha. Released April 15) [animation]

The finalists in the Best Dramatic Short Work or Series category, from a total of 33 nominees, are:

Mongrels, Season 2, Episodes #1 – #8 (BBC Three. Directed by Adam Millar, Jon Brown, Daniel Peak. Broadcast November 7 to December 26) [hand puppets]

My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic, Season One, Episode #12 to Season Two, Episode #11 (Hasbro Studios for The Hub. Directed by James Wootton. Broadcast January 7 to December 17) [animation]

Regular Show, Season Two, Episode #14 to Season Three, Episode #51. (Cartoon Network Studios for Cartoon Network. Directed by Benton Conor, Calvin Wong, Kat Morris, Sean Szeles, J. G. Quintel, Minty Lewis, and others. Broadcast January 3 to December 12) [animation]

Simon’s Cat (Self-produced by animator-director Simon Tofield for broadcast on YouTube. Five produced during 2011, from February 27 to October 11) [animation]

ThunderCats (Studio 4°C and Warner Bros. Animation for Cartoon Network. Directed by Michael Jelenic, Todd Casey, Tab Murphy, and others. Broadcast from July 29 to November 25) [animation]

The Ursa Major Awards are also on Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/UrsaMajorAwards

Nickelodeon’s “The Legend Of Korra” To Premiere April 14th

New Highly Anticipated Animated Adventure is from Creators of the Hit Series Avatar: The Last Airbender

BURBANK, Calif. — March 15, 2012 — The mythology of the beloved animated franchise from Avatar: The Last Airbender creators, Michael Dante DiMartino and Bryan Konietzko, continues with the Nickelodeon premiere of The Legend of Korra on Saturday, April 14, at 11:00 AM (ET/PT), with a one-hour television event featuring back-to-back episodes. The all-new series centers around a new Avatar named Korra, a 17-year-old headstrong and rebellious girl who continually challenges and bucks tradition on her quest to become a fully realized Avatar in a world where benders are under attack. The Legend of Korra will air regularly on Saturdays at 11:00 a.m. (ET/PT) on Nickelodeon.

“Mike and Bryan created an incredibly layered world with the animated Avatar franchise — rich with mythology and artistry,” said Brown Johnson, President, Animation, Nickelodeon and MTVN Kids and Family Group. “The Legend of Korra takes their vision even further, into a more modern world led by a new Avatar who is a fearless and spirited teenage girl.”

The Legend of Korra takes place 70 years after the events of Avatar: The Last Airbender and follows the next Avatar after Aang — a girl named Korra (Janet Varney) who is from the Southern Water Tribe. With three of the four elements under her belt (Earth, Water and Fire), Korra seeks to master Air. Her quest leads her to Republic City, the modern “Avatar” world that is a virtual melting pot where benders and non-benders from all nations live and thrive. Korra quickly discovers that the metropolis is plagued by crime as well as a growing anti-bending revolution that threatens to rip the city apart. Under the tutelage of Aang’s son, Tenzin (J.K. Simmons), Korra begins her airbending training while dealing with the dangers at large.

In the premiere episode, “Welcome to Republic City,” Korra leaves the safety of her home and travels to bustling Republic City to begin her airbending training. Once there, she is shocked to find a big city full of dangers, including criminal bending gangs and a vocal anti-bending revolution. In episode two, “A Leaf in the Wind,” Korra is living with her airbending teacher Tenzin on Air Temple Island. Frustrated with her inability to master airbending, she turns her attentions to Republic City’s famous Pro-bending Arena. There she befriends two brothers, Mako (David Faustino) and Bolin (P.J. Byrne), who compete in professional bending matches. Korra is immediately drawn to Pro-bending’s dynamic fighting style.

The Legend of Korra cast includes Janet Varney (Dinner and a Movie) as Korra, David Faustino (Married…with Children) as Mako, P.J. Byrne (Horrible Bosses) as Bolin, J.K. Simmons (The Closer) as Tenzin, Steve Blum (Cowboy Bebop) as Amon, Lance Henriksen (Aliens) as The Lieutenant, Mindy Sterling (Austin Powers: International Man of Mystery) as Chief Lin Beifong, Daniel Dae Kim (Hawaii Five-0) as Hiroshi Sato, Seychelle Gabriel (Falling Skies) as Asami Sato and Eva Marie Saint (Superman Returns) as Katara. The series is co-created and executive produced by Michael DiMartino and Bryan Konietzko, co-creators of the Emmy Award-winning Avatar: The Last Airbender. Joaquim Dos Santos is co-executive producer.

Starting today, fans can work to unlock an exclusive sneak peek of The Legend of Korra premiere at korranation.com. Beginning April 1, fans may log on to nick.com for an interactive experience and introduction to Republic City. Show information, fun facts, micro games and additional new content make up this “Welcome to Republic City” online experience. Also leading up to the television series premiere, Xbox users will have the opportunity to download the first episode and trailer for free and purchase episodes from Avatar: The Last Airbender. The first The Legend of Korra episode will be available on VOD. In conjunction with the series premiere, Nick’s mobile channel NIMO, will have a live simulcast of the first two episodes.

Launched in February 2005, Avatar: The Last Airbender aired for three seasons on Nickelodeon and was consistently ranked among the top five animated properties on television among boys 2-11 and 6-11. Avatar: The Last Airbender was the inspiration for the Paramount Pictures and Nickelodeon Movies live-action epic adventure, The Last Airbender. In 2007, the series was nominated for an Emmy Award in the category of Outstanding Animated Program and took home the Emmy for Outstanding Individual Achievement in Animation. In 2008, Avatar: The Last Airbender won a Peabody Award.

An award-winning filmmaker, DiMartino was a director at Film Roman for six years, working on the prime-time animated series King of the Hill, Family Guy and Mission Hill. During his tenure there, DiMartino animated and directed the short animated film Atomic Love, which has gone on to screen at festivals across the country including Sundance and the Los Angeles Film Festival. It also aired as part of the Nicktoons Animation Festival.

Konietzko began his career in animation as a character designer at Film Roman for Fox’s prime-time series, Family Guy. He soon moved to the post of assistant director for two more Film Roman shows, Mission Hill and King of the Hill, working beside animation director DiMartino. Konietzko then became a storyboard artist and later an art director for the Nickelodeon animated series Invader Zim.

The Legend of Korra is being produced at the Nickelodeon Animation Studios in Burbank, Calif.

Cartoon Brew is Eight Years Old

Eight year old birthday card

Cartoon Brew is eight years old today, and for what it’s worth, that makes us the longest-continually operating animation blog on the Internet. We had no idea what would happen when we launched the Brew in 2004, but we’re proud that it’s lasted as long as it has and that you’ve allowed us to be a voice for the animation community. In the past few years, we’ve launched new initiatives like CB Biz and the Cartoon Brew Student Animation Festival, but we’ve got even bigger things in store for this year, including a major site overhaul.

Whether you’ve been with us since the pre-Brew era when we published our thoughts as Cartoon Research and Animation Blast or you’ve joined us more recently, we have a simple message to our readers. We want to thank each of you very sincerely for reading Cartoon Brew. We know that you have many choices today for animation news, and we’re honored and humbled that so many of you have chosen the Brew as one of your sources. The Cartoon Brew team spends large portions of time working on the site to keep the content fresh and everything running smoothly, and we intend to continue doing that for a long time to come.

Jerry Beck and Amid Amidi,
The Brewmasters

UPDATE: Our friends at the French animation blog Catsuka remind us that they’re twelve years old. So that make us the second longest-continually operating animation blog.

Singapore Hosts French Animation Festival

Singapore will be celebrating the very best of modern French animation during the French Animation Film Festival, taking place from March 22nd to 30th 2012.

Organised by the Alliance Francaise de Singapour, the event is the first of its kind and will see a series of French cartoon films screened at the Alliance Francaise Theatre.

The festival opens with The Rabbi’s Cat on March 22nd, followed the next day by a showcase of works from the famous Gobelins L’Ecole de L’Image school of visual arts in Paris.

Other films on the programme include recent cinema release A Monster In Paris, Oscar nominees The Illusionist and A Cat in Paris, 3D movie Tales of the Night and finally the acclaimed The Triplets of Belleville.

Each of these films will be screened at the Alliance Francaise Theatre with tickets costing S$7.20 (£3.70), with the exception of Tales of the Night, which will be shown at the Cathay Cineplex and will cost S$10.

The festival will run concurrent to an animation exhibition at the Societe Generale Gallery, while a free French Animation Conference also takes place on March 24th, featuring talks from filmmakers.

Nickelodeon Unveils Plans at Annual Upfront for More than 650 New Episodes Across Every Genre

Announcements Include Premiere Date for Highly Anticipated The Legend of Korra; Original TV Movies; a SpongeBob SquarePants Stop-Motion Christmas Special; a Raving Rabbids series; and Development Projects for UK Pop Sensation One Direction, Hit-maker Dan Schneider and iCarly star Jennette McCurdy –Special Appearances During Presentation Made By Nick Cannon, Michael Bay, Keke Palmer, One Direction; With Performances by Big Time Rush, How to Rock‘s Cymphonique Miller and Gravity 5, and Rachel Crow

NEW YORK, March 14, 2012 /PRNewswire via COMTEX/ — Nickelodeon, at its annual upfront presentation held today at Jazz at Lincoln Center, unveiled plans for an unprecedented 650 new episodes–the top-ranked network’s most ever–of both brand-new content and returning hits, as well announcing premiere details for the highly anticipated animated series The Legend of Korra; a stop-motion SpongeBob SquarePants Christmas special; original primetime TV movies; casting for the new Nick at Nite series Hollywood Heights (formerly Reach for a Star); an original animated series based on the Raving Rabbids video games; and new projects with UK pop sensation One Direction, iCarly/Victorious show creator Dan Schneider and iCarly star Jennette McCurdy.

The presentation was punctuated with appearances by Nick Cannon, Keke Palmer, One Direction and musical performances by Nick’s own Big Time Rush and How to Rock‘s Cymphonique Miller and Gravity 5, making their live-performance debut. Nick’s newest star, Rachel Crow of The X Factor fame, capped the evening with a performance of Cee Lo Green’s “Forget You.” The evening also featured an exclusive look at a previsualization (3D storyboard) of Paramount Pictures’ highly anticipated live-action Ninja Turtles feature, presented by producer Michael Bay. The feature film will bow in 2013, following this year’s fall TV premiere of the brand-new CG-animated TMNT series on Nickelodeon.

“Kids have a ferocious appetite for new content and it is our intention to serve them more, innovative work than ever before,” said Cyma Zarghami, President of Viacom’s Nickelodeon Group. “We are tapping into new sources and proven hit-makers to maintain our position as the top entertainment brand for kids and families.”

Details of Nickelodeon’s new content slate include:

[Editor's Note: Press release edited to only show animated fare.]

ANIMATION:

Nickelodeon, the top producer of television animation in the US, will roll out a new roster of over 300 new animated episodes in 2012 which includes:

New episodes of returning hit series including SpongeBob SquarePants, T.U.F.F. Puppy, Kung Fu Panda: Legends of Awesomeness, The Penguins of Madagascar, The Fairly OddParents and The Winx Club.

The Legend of Korra, in which the mythology of the beloved animated franchise from Avatar: The Last Airbender creators Michael Dante DiMartino and Bryan Konietzko continues. The series centers around a new Avatar named Korra, a 17-year-old headstrong and rebellious girl who continually challenges and bucks tradition on her quest to become a fully realized Avatar in a world where benders are under attack. The half-hour series will debut on Saturday, April 14, at 11:00 a.m. (all times ET/PT), as part of Nickelodeon’s Saturday morning block (8AM-Noon), which has been the number-one destination for Kids 2-11 for 12 consecutive years and currently delivers more than three million total viewers each week. The Legend of Korra will air regularly on Saturday at 11:00 a.m.

Raving Rabbids, which will join the net’s animation line-up in spring 2013, brings to television the hysterical physical comedy that has become so popular in Ubisoft’s Raving Rabbids video games. Nickelodeon has secured global broadcast rights for 26 new CG episodes of Raving Rabbids, which will be produced by Ubisoft.

Monsters vs. Aliens, the all-new animated television series marking the third partnership between Nickelodeon and DreamWorks Animation. Green-lit for 26 episodes and based on the popular characters from the 2009 blockbuster hit feature film ($383 million worldwide gross); the new series will continue to follow the funny escapades of the beloved, well-meaning monsters.

Robot & Monster, which will also be hitting Nickelodeon’s air for a 26-episode run for the 2012-2013 season. Created by Josh Sternin, Jeff Ventimilia and Dave Pressler, this CG-animated buddy comedy is set in a unique world where gangs of Howling Cyber Monkeys roam the streets at night, everybody loves bacon, and robots and monsters live side by side, but typically don’t get along.

It’s A SpongeBob Christmas! – Nickelodeon’s first full-length stop-motion animated special is inspired by the classic Rankin/Bass (Rudolf the Red-Nosed Reindeer, Santa Claus is Comin’ to Town) specials, and the popular SpongeBob song released in 2009, “Don’t Be a Jerk, It’s Christmas,” written by Tom Kenny (voice of SpongeBob) and Andy Paley. In It’s A SpongeBob Christmas!, Plankton vows to get his Christmas wish – the Krabby Patty formula – by turning everyone in Bikini Bottom bad by feeding them his special jerktonium-laced fruitcake. The special features John Goodman as Santa Claus, and will air in December 2012.

Seven new animation pilots picked up for the 2012-2013 season, including four pilots helmed by hit-maker Butch Hartman (The Fairly OddParents, T.U.F.F. Puppy).

“The Box” by Dadomani

The Box: Poltergeist is a delighful throwback to older animated films where personality animation and movement itself were often the source of entertainment. The film, the first in a proposed series by Milan-based Dadomani Studio, barely has a setup. For a three-minute short though, I’m perfectly happy with “a man and his dog watch TV.” What makes The Box special is how the filmmaker and animator present the gags and thoughts of the characters through a purely visual language. They uncover a surprisingly full range of motion (and emotion) for characters that one would expect to have a limited range because of their design. It’s quite an accomplishment, not to mention great fun to watch.

CREDITS
Idea, Production, Animation supervision, Direction: Dadomani Studio
Screenplay: Stefano Armeni
Director of photography: Patrizio Saccò
Animation: Dario Imbrogno
Sound: Enrico Ascoli
Fluid simulation: Dario Cavaliere

TED Launches Animated TED-Ed Channel

TED, the nonprofit that presents “idea” conferences around the world, announced an intriguing new initiative yesterday: TED-Ed. Its goal, described in the video above, is to pair educators with animators, and create a series of lesson-based animated shorts aimed at teachers and high school students. Here’s an example of one of the lessons:

The Next Web has more info about plans for TED-Ed. The program officially launches next month, and they’re already soliciting reel submissions from animators. No word on what type of budgets they offer to filmmakers, but I’m assuming that filmmakers will be compensated for their labor somehow.

(Thanks, @tkraz)

This Week in LA: Bakshi at LACMA, Wondercon

If you live in Southern California and ever wanted to meet Ralph Bakshi, this week you have your chance – twice!

First, on Thursday night, Ralph will be appearing in person at LACMA (Los Angeles County Museum of Art) to introduce his 1977 fantasy Wizards, a restoration of which will be screened at 7:30pm. For tickets click here.

Second, on Saturday at 6:30pm, Bakshi will do a Q&A session in Room 207 at WonderCon in Anaheim.

For those who cannot get to the west coast, you can enjoy a new interview with Ralph on CraveOnline, in which he talks about why he doesn’t trust the company in charge of the potential DVD release of Coonskin, and gets into the history of Hey Good Lookin‘.

You can also purchase Bakshi’s 35th Anniversary edition of Wizards on blu-ray (which coincidentally goes on sale today). 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment has given Cartoon Brew nine (9) copies of the blu-ray and – surprise! – the first nine of you to correctly answer (in the comments section) a simple trivia question won one. Congrats to Blu-Ray winners: Thad, Brian Mitchell, Hammed, Robert Reynolds, Jim M, B Baker, Kevin H, Ryan and Gobo! And our thanks to 20th Century-Fox Home Entertainment!

UPDATE: NEW CONTEST – NOW Closed!

L.A. area residents only. The first two readers to correctly answer this simple trivia question will recieve two tickets to Ralph Bakshi’s screening of WIZARDS at LACMA tomorrow night at 7:30pm:

Contest Closed! Winners to be announced shortly.

First Look at Genndy Tartakovsky’s “Hotel Transylvania”

Hotel Transylvania

“It’s refreshing to go back to the beginning of Dracula – and then have Adam Sandler put his spin on it.” So says Dexter’s Lab and Samurai Jack creator Genndy Tartakovsky of his first theatrical feature Hotel Transylvania. The troubled Sony Pictures Animation film, which has had at least four directors prior to Genndy, is set to open on September 28. USA Today published these images today along with more details about the film’s story.

Hotel Transylvania

(Thanks to all who sent in a link to the images.)

Disney Jr. Announces Advisory Board Members to Guide Learning and Development Curriculum

Disney Junior has announced a newly formed council of academic advisors, comprised of experts in the fields of transmedia, storytelling, early education, language development, diversity, emotional learning, digital trends and literacy, to guide Disney Junior’s learning and development curriculum designed specifically for kids age 2-7. The announcement was made today by Nancy Kanter, Senior Vice President, Original Programming and General Manager, Disney Junior Worldwide, in advance of the new Disney Junior 24-hour basic cable/satellite channel launching in the U.S. on Friday, March 23 (12:00 midnight, ET/PT).

Kanter said: “We are thrilled to have assembled this prominent group of leading academics, the best in their fields, who will share with us their research, innovation, trends and knowledge in childhood education. Storytelling and character engagement is the key component in Disney Junior programming, and emerging technological advancements allow us to extend the television experience and deepen our viewers’ engagement via a multitude of platforms. Our advisory board will offer valuable insight into how we can best translate our series from television to online, games, apps and other extension experiences.”

The brand Disney Junior, which debuted as a programming block on Disney Channel and online at DisneyJunior.com, invites mom and dad to join their child in the Disney experience of magical, musical and heartfelt stories and characters, both classic and new, while incorporating specific learning and development themes for kids age 2-7.

The advisory board will provide counsel on expanding storytelling through off-air experiences, and will offer insight into both the historical role of storytelling and the use of digital advancements as learning tools. They will advise on key trends in early education and new learning initiatives used in the classroom and offer insight into bi-lingual language development, diversity, literacy and emotional learning.

The Disney Junior advisory board members are:

Kevin Clark, Ph.D., the Founder and Director of George Mason University’s Center for Digital Media Innovation and Diversity, will advise on STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) research as it relates to preschoolers as well as innovations and trends in media technology and issues of diversity. Clark is currently an associate professor of Instructional Technology and conducts research on the role of video games and interactive media in education, particularly diverse and traditionally underserved populations. His recent scholarly activities focus on the use of video game design to increase interest in STEM careers.

Drew Davidson, Director of the Entertainment Technology Center — Pittsburgh at Carnegie Mellon University and Editor of ETC Press, will consult on digital game development and design trends using storytelling attributes across media. His background spans academic, industry and professional worlds with a focus on stories across texts, comics, games and other media. He is the lead on several MacArthur Digital Media and Learning Initiative grants and has written and edited books, journals, articles and essays on narratives across media, serious games, analyzing gameplay, and cross-media communication.

Ines Dussell, Educational Director of Sangari Argentina, will advise on classroom trends as they relate to learning initiatives and media use, and will broaden the board’s perspective into Latino educational priorities. Dussell is also principal researcher at Flacso/Argentina, a center for research and graduate teaching in the social sciences. She’s currently researching the intersections between schooling, new media and visual culture, and is producing materials for classroom teaching.

Kathy Hirsh-Pasek, Director of the Infant Language Laboratory at Temple University, will advise on current trends in early education, specifically in language development, and consult on the opportunities to expand access to learning tools through community outreach. Hirsh-Pasek is currently the Stanley and Debra Lefkowitz Professor in the Department of Psychology at Temple University. Her research in the areas of early language development has been funded by the National Science Foundation and the National Institutes of Health and Human Development resulting in 11 books and over 100 publications.

Henry Jenkins, a leading expert in the field of transmedia, will advise on ways to expand storytelling through off-air experiences. Jenkins has served as Provost’s Professor of Communication, Journalism and Cinematic Arts at USC since 2009 and previously spent a decade as the Director of the MIT Comparative Media Studies Program.

Linda Labbo, Professor Emerita in the Department of Reading Education at the University of Georgia, will advise on fast-moving trends in digital literacy as a learning tool among young children and how they affect language learning. Labbo has served as a primary investigator on National Reading Research Center studies designed to investigate young children’s computer-related literacy development.

Robert L. Selman, Harvard Medical School’s Roy Edward Larsen Professor of Education and Human Development Professor of Psychology, Psychiatry Department, will advise on the development of emotional learning, especially as it relates to resilience and social skills in a group context. Selman also serves as senior associate at the Judge Baker Children’s Center and at the Department of Psychiatry at Children’s Hospital Boston. He has engaged in research and practice focused on how to help children develop social awareness and engagement competencies as a way to reduce risks to their health and to promote their social relationships as well as their academic performance. His current work on the promotion of children’s understanding of ways to get along with others from different backgrounds is conducted in the context of literacy and language arts curricula.

Catherine Snow, the Henry Lee Shattuck Professor of Education at Harvard Graduate School of Education, will advise on literacy development in young children. Snow is an expert on language and literacy development in children, focusing on how oral language skills are acquired and how they relate to literacy outcomes.

Maria Tatar, chair of Harvard University’s program in Folklore and Mythology, will advise on the historical context of the role of storytelling, fairytales and folklore as it relates to children’s experiences. Tatar is the John L. Loeb Professor of Germanic Languages and Literatures at Harvard, teaching courses in Folklore and Children’s literature.

Yuuko Uchikoshi, an expert in the field of bilingual education, language development and socialization and literacy development, will advise on bilingual language development and represent a non-western viewpoint on learning and skills acquisition among young children. Uchikoshi is an assistant professor at University of California at Davis, and his credentials include Harvard Graduate School of Education Action for Children’s Television Fellowship and the Harvard Graduate School of Education Advanced Doctoral Grant.

FEATURE TRAILER: “Consuming Spirits”

Fifteen years in the making, Consuming Spirits is a newly completed mixed-media animation feature by Chicago-based Chris Sullivan. The 130-minute film will screen as part of the Tribeca Film Festival between April 23-25. The haunting Midwestern Gothic mood of the trailer drew me right in, and the story appears to have plenty of twists and turns. The description:

Consuming Spirits chronicles the lives of three characters who live in a rust belt town called Magguson, and work at its local newspaper The Daily Suggester. They are: Gentian Violet, 42, Victor Blue, 38, and Earl Gray 64, first appear to be acquaintances. But as the film unfolds, we find they have a long diabolical history, revolving around social service intervention, and foster care, romance and hatred. Each character has family secrets to hide, and family secrets to discover. An auto accident one dark and inebriated night, causes a crack in the memory vault of these intimate strangers. By films end, all parties walk from the woods, both healed and wounded.

(Thanks, Jacob Angelo)

It’s More Fun Winning An Oscar If You Live in Louisiana

There’s something to be said for running a cartoon studio in a place where animation production isn’t commonplace. To celebrate the Animated Short Oscar for The Fantastic Flying Books of Mr. Morris Lessmore, the city of Shreveport, Louisiana threw an extravagant parade for Moonbot Studios and the film’s directors Bill Joyce and Brandon Oldenburg. Here’s a few perks you get if you win an Oscar in Louisiana that you probably won’t get in other places:

A free ride in a banana-colored convertible
Moonbot

A marching band
Moonbot

A customized battle tank plus confetti
Moonbot

A decorated street-cleaning machine
Moonbot

Acknowledgment from celebrities like Randal Reeder
Moonbot

Custom-designed moon piesMoonbot

Balloons with flying books
Moonbot

The adulation of children
Moonbot

And, of course, women
Moonbot

If you require more evidence for why it’s better to run an animation studio in a city few people have ever heard of, see the city of Shreveport’s Flickr page or this article in the Shreveport Times.

(via Big Screen Animation)

Spots from Punga

Animator/designer Gabriel H. Fermanelli has turned me on to the commercials he’s producing through Punga, a collective of artists in Buenos Aires who specialize in animation and branding. Fermanelli co-directed a series of spots for Wrangler Jeans (with Tomas Dieguez); this one is my favorite:

Fermanelli’s latest stylishly designed spot is for Volvo, featuring Sloths:

Digital Domain Institute Begins Inaugural Class

WEST PALM BEACH, FL – The Digital Domain Institute (DDI) and the Florida State University College of Motion Picture Arts (FSU), opened its doors to its inaugural class of students in West Palm Beach.

The Institute, a pioneering public-private collaboration, takes a “best of both worlds” approach to digital arts education by blending creative and professionally-geared technical training, and bringing inspiring filmmakers fresh from blockbuster movies into the classroom to share techniques and experiences.

DDI’s spring session began in the Institute’s temporary facility, co-located with FSU at 477 South Rosemary in City Place, where students began a 10-week Digital Arts Essential Skills program — comprehensive technical training in foundation digital arts skills. For its summer session, DDI will add new courses and expand its footprint on Rosemary. In preparation for the start of its fall dual-enrollment 3 Year Diploma Program offered exclusively with FSU’s Bachelor of Fine Arts in Animation and Digital Arts Program, the school is also expanding into new space nearby, to accommodate more students and additional lab and screening facilities. DDI administrative offices, co-located with FSU, are at 560 Okeechobee.

West Palm Beach Mayor Jeri Muoio said, “I am pleased to be a part of the partnerships with Digital Domain and Florida State University. I welcome the first group of students to the area, where the South Florida weather is beautiful and they can benefit from the prestige that an FSU degree carries with it. It is a very exciting time for our City, with many opportunities for our youth in the future.”

“We’re thrilled to be starting classes, and the excitement among our instructors, students, and faculty is super high,” said DDI Director of Education Bruce Bullock. “We’ve been working toward this vision of lifelong learning and practical, professional training for a long time, and we’re grateful to the forward-thinking community of West Palm Beach which has helped us make it a reality. Their generosity is helping us to prepare a generation of students for careers in a growing industry.”

“Our mandate is to prepare students for successful careers in the motion pictures industry, but our vision goes beyond that — to give students opportunity to work on blockbuster films alongside the world’s top digital artists,” said Florida State College of Motion Picture Arts Dean Frank Patterson. “The start of classes at Digital Domain Institute is the beginning of that process. As an educator, these are the kinds of opportunities you dream about for your students.”

The start of its first classes brings DDI a step closer to a major milestone, the completion of its permanent campus at 401 Okeechobee. The 150,000 square foot facility is being designed by HOK from the ground up as a thoroughly modern, fully equipped educational, research and digital production facility. Supported in part via a land donation from the City of West Palm Beach, it is on schedule to open in January 2015.

West Palm Beach City Commissioner Kimberly Mitchell noted, “Universities and other higher education institutions make a significant contribution to regional economic, social and cultural development. In a globalized economy this role will only grow in importance. I am thrilled to be a part of ensuring that West Palm Beach is a leader in this endeavor.”

For more information on DDI’s programs, course schedules and descriptions, visit http://digitaldomaininstitute.com.

Gretel Unveils Nick Jr. Rebrand

New York, NY — When children’s’ television network Nickelodeon was looking to rebrand Nick Jr., the company’s popular channel aimed at kids three to seven years old, they turned to a company they had already come to trust. Founded in 2005, New York-based creative production company Gretel has worked on several of the Nickelodeon brands in recent years, notably a rebrand for nick@nite. Discovering and revealing a new identity for a channel aimed at an age group rapidly developing new and changing abilities, skills, and interests, however, proved a unique and inspiring challenge for the company. Take a look at the rebrand video here.

“Between the ages of two and six years old, kids go through some incredibly profound developmental changes,” says Greg Hahn, Founder and Creative Director at Gretel. “Nick Jr., of course, has a variety of popular live action, animated, and 3D animated characters and shows to bridge the changing interests of that age group. Our job was to create something that would simultaneously appeal to three, five, and seven year olds, as well as their parents. It was a challenging, but also deeply rewarding experience.”

The Gretel team would have to find an innovative and appealing way to bring all of Nick Jr.’s favorite and familiar offerings — Dora the Explorer, Team Umizoomi, Max & Ruby, Diego, Bubble Guppies, and more — into a single, united look and feel. Gretel also brought Nick Jr.’s brand into alignment with the more modern sensibility of Nickelodeon’s other brands. The team took the new network tagline: “The smart place to play” literally, and set out to design that very place. Armed with a comprehensive and informative demographic study provided by the network, the Gretel team drew further inspiration from an unlikely source.

“In the early stages of the pitch, I happened upon an interesting article in the Times during my train ride home,” says Ryan Moore, Creative Director at Gretel. “It was about a new method for teaching math to kids in grade school, which was developed by mathematician John Mighton, involving effectively guiding students toward the brink of discovery, but letting them make their own knowledge breakthroughs. Mighton called his process ‘guided discovery.’ That phrase immediately resonated with me. It ended up becoming the cornerstone of our pitch to the network, and ultimately the entire rebrand.”

Gretel brilliantly combined elements and characters from the diverse group of familiar shows into a striking world of curvilinear shapes and numbers, all interconnected by winding pathways. The rebrand seamlessly blends the network’s live action, animated, and 3D offerings into a colorful, engaging, and sensory environment of creative search and discovery.

“Once Ryan zeroed in on the idea of guided discovery, the creative possibilities really opened up for our A-list team of animators,” says Hahn. “We didn’t want to just populate the space with characters standing around and waving. Our Nick Jr. world is connected by a series of pathways punctuated by various natural and architectural play spaces, all providing endless possibilities for discovery. Ryan and his team did an amazing job of finding interesting character actions and cleverly integrating them into the Nick Jr. landscape, whether it’s Dora kicking a ball off a mountain or Diego navigating an obstacle course. In creating this integrated world of diverse elements, we also provided Nick Jr. with a versatile, modular toolset of elements that they can repurpose in all manner of ways going forward.”

The overall design owes some of its inspiration to the eclectic post-modern style known as “Memphis,” an aesthetic whose flagrant rule-breaking in using wildly disparate colors, shapes, patterns, and prints was wildly popular during the 1980’s.

“I never thought I’d be looking to the Memphis style for influence,” says Hahn. “But the simple, off-beat, chunky shapes lent themselves well to a play space for kids. Our designer Danny Ruiz took that vision and ran with it. He took the Memphis inspiration with a grain of salt, and came up with an amazingly modern take on that very playful aesthetic by tweaking the colors and curves, but maintaining the feeling of random fun.”

To create the inclusive and engaging world, the Gretel team relied on a combination of Cinema 4D software for 3D design and animation, and Adobe After Effects for rotoscoping and compositing. The result is a visually striking and deeply memorable vision for the future of the Nick Jr. brand.
“Everyone is nostalgic for the shows they watched as kids,” says Carl Burton, Staff Designer at Gretel. “They stick with you as you grow up. We were excited by the opportunity to create something that today’s kids would remember and look back on with fondness and recognition.”

“We could not have asked for a better team,” says Moore. “Everyone worked together to define and expand the style for the successful pitch, which was a formidable task in itself. Once we moved into production, we brought together a tremendously talented and creative crew. Together, the team embraced the idea and committed themselves to making it better and better.”

CREDITS

Nick Jr Credits
VP, Creative Director: Matthew Duntemann
VP, Production: Jeffrey Blackman
SVP, Creative Strategy: Anne Mullen
Director, Production: Farrel Allen
Art Director: Noel Claro
Art Director: Jennifer Cast
Sr Editorial Director: Liza Steinberg
Executive Producer, Rebrand: Sarah Jackson
Director of Animation: Christopher Papa
Writer/Producer: Kimberly Chalmers Diaz
Editor: Rick Deutsch
Editor: Tim McGonagle
Production Assistant: Ryan Walsh
Production Assistant: Virginia Hamilton

Gretel Credits
Executive Creative Director: Greg Hahn
Creative Director: Ryan Moore
Art Director: Danny Ruiz
Designers: Dylan Mulvaney, Carl Burton, Salih Abdul-Karim
Producer: Ryan McLaughlin
Production Coordinator: Lynzi Grant
Compositor: Irene Park
3D Animators:Carl Burton, Jack Myers, Wes Ebelhar, Gary Tam, Craig Davis
3D Assistant: Thai Ngo

Music Credits
Jingle Punks

Posted in biz

Season 4 of “Adventure Time” Premieres Monday, April 2, 2012

What Time Is It? Time for Season Four of Adventure Time!

Season Premiere on Cartoon Network Monday, April 2 at 7:30 p.m. (ET/PT)

Adventure Time, Cartoon Network’s hit animated comedy series returns with its fourth season on Monday, April 2, at 7:30 p.m. (ET/PT). Recently nominated for its second Primetime Emmy® Award for Outstanding Short-format Animated Program as well as an Annie Award for Best Animated Television Production for Children, Adventure Time has become a genuine ratings and pop culture phenomenon since its April 2010 debut. Most recently season three of the series earned the distinction of being the #1 program on Monday nights (7-9 p.m.) on all of television with kids 2-11, according to Nielsen Media Research.

In the highly anticipated fourth season, familiar characters return and a new flame heats things up for Finn. Also, Jake and Finn venture into the Nightosphere, Lumpy Space Princess writes a tell-all book and viewers see who would win in a fight between Finn and Jake. The new season features guest voices by Donald Faison, George Takei, Erik Estrada, Andy Milonakis, Emo Phillips, Bobcat Goldthwait and Susie Essman.

CartoonNetwork.com introduces a new Adventure Time game this season, “Jake’s Tough Break,” available on Monday, March 26. Players use Jake’s removable limbs to track down the mighty Magic Man’s hat and break his curse! Adventure Time is also hugely successful in the digital space. Its show page on CartoonNetwork.com is currently the site’s most highly-trafficked, year-to-date.

Along with a new season and a new game, fans can enjoy Adventure Time: It Came from the Nightosphere, a recently released DVD featuring 16 episodes from the series’ first three magical seasons, plus a “Little Did You Know” character profile bonus feature.

INDYCAR and Indianapolis Motor Speedway Announce First-of-its-Kind Movie-Themed Collaboration with DreamWorks Animation for “Turbo” in Summer 2013

Turbo Tie-In Tops List of Projects Secured by INDYCAR Entertainment Division

INDIANAPOLIS–(BUSINESS WIRE)– INDYCAR, the sanctioning body for the IZOD INDYCAR Series and Firestone Indy Lights, and the Indianapolis Motor Speedway (“IMS”) announced today a first-of-its-kind movie-themed collaboration with DreamWorks Animation SKG, Inc. (Nasdaq: DWA) for the Company’s upcoming animated feature film Turbo, which is scheduled to be released on July 19, 2013.

DreamWorks Animation’s  Turbo is the story of an ordinary garden snail with an impossible dream: to win the Indy 500. When a freak accident gives him extraordinary speed, Turbo sets out to try to make his impossible dream come true.

“The Indianapolis 500 is a one-of-a-kind live event that has fascinated people of all ages for many, many years and Turbo is a character whose biggest ambition is to add his name to its list of international champions,” commented Jeffrey Katzenberg, Chief Executive Officer of DreamWorks Animation. “DreamWorks Animation’s alliance with the INDYCAR team represents an authentic tie-in between a real-life race and an imagined adventure that is certain to culminate in a thrilling ride for the whole family next summer.”

“Today is a very exciting day for us, as we announce our collaboration with the DreamWorks Animation team on Turbo,” said Randy Bernard, CEO of INDYCAR. “We’re very honored to work with Jeffrey, his team and the incredible star power of the cast to bring the Indy 500 to the world in such a unique and engaging format. We believe new and existing fans of all ages will be captivated by the animated depiction of Indianapolis Motor Speedway as well as the wonderful characters that inhabit the universe of DreamWorks Animation’s Turbo.”

“For more than 100 years, the dream of competing in the Indianapolis 500 has attracted some of the greatest drivers to the Indianapolis Motor Speedway,” added Jeff Belskus, Indianapolis Motor Speedway Corporation president and CEO. “Legendary names like Mario Andretti, Jim Clark, A.J. Foyt, Emerson Fittipaldi, Helio Castroneves and Dario Franchitti all have been fast and fortunate enough to win it. We are excited to work with DreamWorks Animation’s creators, staff and cast and look forward to seeing Turbo himself race at Indianapolis in 2013!”

In addition to DreamWorks Animation, INDYCAR’s entertainment division is tapping into the home entertainment and sports video arenas by forming alliances with Circle King Networks, Inc., known for their work with the Full Throttle Video series and El Jefe Entertainment (producers of Jesse James video content), as well as CineSport Video Network.

Circle King Networks will reach millions of motorsports fans through traditional and non-traditional home video outlets, including at mass retail in automotive and convenience stores, and on digital formats. CineSport will produce and syndicate original, exclusive highlight videos and programming to more than 100 premium local/national media web sites.

INDYCAR Entertainment has also secured driver appearances as well as network and cable television programming segments, such as Graham Rahal’s recent appearance on CBS’s Super Bowl’s Greatest Commercials, which also showcased the 2012 Indy car, and Michael Andretti starring as a member of this season’s Celebrity Apprentice, Nerve Center for Discovery Networks Canada, How It’s Made for Discovery, Pawn Stars on the History Channel and Day Jobs on GAC.

Disney’s 2012-13 TV Schedule Presented to Advertisers

BETTER GRAB SOME SUNGLASSES, THE FUTURE AROUND HERE IS BRIGHT

RATINGS LEADER DISNEY CHANNEL MEETS SPONSORS; SHOWCASES PROGRAMMING FOR KIDS 6-14 AND DISNEY JUNIOR FOR KIDS AGE 2-7

DISNEY XD’S LIVE ACTION AND ANIMATION SCHEDULE PRESENTED TO ADVERTISERS

Disney‘s 2012-13 creative content for its kid-driven, family inclusive TV channels, highlighted by fresh ways to tell great new Disney stories, will be presented to sponsors/advertisers this week in New York by Gary Marsh, President and Chief Creative Officer, Disney Channels Worldwide. The successful Disney Channels Worldwide portfolio is comprised of the kids TV ratings leader, Disney Channel, the skyrocketing Disney XD channel, the fast growing programming block plus upcoming 24-hour channel, Disney Junior, and the Radio Disney national network and its over 30 owned radio stations.

Marsh said, “We not only try to stay ahead of the curve, but to draw a new one. By developing programming that takes a fresh approach to the familiar, we’re able to provide entertainment for kids and families that feels novel and exciting — and pure Disney.”

Rita Ferro, Executive Vice President, Disney Media Sales and Marketing, leads Disney’s powerful kids media sales enterprise through which marketers can reach preschoolers, boys, girls, tweens and moms — connecting their brands to Disney quality programming that has young viewers deeply engaged.

A newly designed www.DisneyChannel.com, created in partnership with Disney Interactive Media Group, launched today as a daily destination for kids and tweens to access relevant content through a newsfeed and social features, including sharing and commenting. In the coming months, a new tween lifestyle section will be added to provide information on style, technology, music and everything that is relevant in kids lives.

Disney Channel continues to deliver momentum following a year of unprecedented ratings strength, its seminal first place win among Kids 6-11 and its third year leading the Tween 9-14 demographic, both across Total Day measurement in 2011. Disney Channel also has fast-growing ratings among Kids 2-11, tying for #1 in February for the first time ever, and is within 1% of Nickelodeon for 1Q12. 2011 was the fifth consecutive year a Disney Channel Original Movie was the year’s #1 cable TV movie in Total Viewers (the average delivery for the five movies is 12.5 million viewers), and the 10th consecutive year Disney Channel has delivered the #1 original movie telecast among Tweens 9-14.

Disney XD has also delivered a rocket-fueled ascent across all targeted demographics, notably delivering an unprecedented 38 consecutive months of year to year gains among Kids 6-11 in primetime, the longest streak of its kind among all kid networks. Disney Junior ratings have grown substantially during the programming block on Disney Channel. The premiere of Jake and the Never Land Pirates: Peter Pan Returns!, is the most watched cable telecast in nearly 10 years among Kids 2-5, based on Live+7 data (4.661 million Total Viewers and 1.846 Kids 2-5). On March 23, Disney Junior will also grow in distribution by adding a 24-hour channel for kids age 2-7.

Scheduled to join the advertiser event, presented with the theme “Into the Future” and hosted by Radio Disney personality Ernie D, are: Mickey Mouse and Minnie Mouse of Mickey Mouse Clubhouse, and Jake and Captain Hook of Jake and the Never Land Pirates for Disney Junior, plus musical performances by China Anne McClain (A.N.T. Farm) and her sisters, Lauryn and Sierra McClain (the trio, McClain Sisters, are Hollywood Records recording artists); and a performance by Tyler James Williams and Coco Jones (she’s a Radio Disney “N.B.T.” — “Next Big Thing” — artist and they both star in the upcoming Disney Channel Original Movie Let It Shine), Debby Ryan (star of the #1 series among Tween, Jessie), Laura Marano (Austin & Ally), Tyrel Jackson Williams (Disney XD’s Lab Rats), Leo Howard (Disney XD’s Kickin It), Bridgit Mendler (Good Luck Charlie), Adam Hicks and Doc Shaw (Disney XD’s Pair of Kings).

The new projects announced today and upcoming programming events presented to sponsors are:

[Editor's Note: The show list has been edited to only show animated series.]

DISNEY CHANNEL

WANDER OVER YONDER — Emmy-winning producer Craig McCracken, among the most sought-after talent in TV animation, is the creator/executive producer of Disney Channel’s upcoming Wander Over Yonder, an animated comedy series about best friends and epic enemies, set in surreal places across the universe. Wander is an overly-optimistic intergalactic traveler who, along with his loyal but bullish steed, Sylvia, goes from planet to planet helping people to live free and have fun, all against the evil reign of Lord Hater and his army of Watchdogs. The voice cast includes Jack McBrayer (30 Rock, Phineas and Ferb), Keith Ferguson (Foster’s Home for Imaginary Friends) and Tom Kenny (SpongeBob SquarePants). McCracken created the Emmy-winning series The Powerpuff Girls and produced a feature film based on it. He also created the hit series Foster’s Home For Imaginary Friends, which also won him an Emmy Award. Prior to creating his own shows, McCracken directed Dexter’s Laboratory and worked on a variety of shows for Hanna-Barbera. Wander Over Yonder is a production of Disney Television Animation.

GRAVITY FALLS — Premiering in June, this clever, unexpected approach to animated comedy is helmed by its creator, executive-producer/director Alex Hirsch, a 2007 Cal Arts graduate. His college short, Off the Wall, garnered attention from notable animation blogs Drawn! and Cartoon Brew, as well as Cold Hard Flash. He subsequently worked as a writer/storyboard artist on The Marvelous Misadventures of Flapjack and developed Disney Channel’s Fish Hooks. He is also the voice of Clamantha on that series. His ingenious new series Gravity Falls follows twin brother and sister Dipper and Mabel, whose summer plans are ruined when their parents ship them off to spend the summer with their Great Uncle Stan in the very strange town of Gravity Falls, Oregon. The voice cast is: Jason Ritter (Parenthood), Kristen Schaal (Flight of the Conchords, Toy Story 3) and Alex Hirsch. It is a production of Disney Television Animation.

DISNEY XD

The epic storytelling of Marvel — full of action, adventure and humor, along with complex, courageous and aspirational characters — will be introduced to a new generation of kids and families through a dedicated weekly programming block, Marvel Universe, premiering SUNDAY, APRIL 1 on Disney XD. The new series, Ultimate Spider-Man, is written and guided by a creative team that includes some of the most influential names in comic books and pop culture: Marvel’s Chief Creative Officer, Joe Quesada, and Marvel’s Head of Television, Jeph Loeb, Supervising Producers/Writers Man of Action (Joe Kelly, Joe Casey, Steven T. Seagle & Duncan Rouleau), Creative Consultant/Writer Paul Dini (Batman: The Animated Series, Lost), and Consulting Producer/Writer Brian Michael Bendis (Marvel’s Ultimate Comics Spider-Man comic series). In the storyline, a teenage Peter Parker (voiced by actor Drake Bell) juggles the relatable challenges of high school with the extraordinary challenges of being a Super Hero. Nick Fury (voiced by actor Chi McBride) invites Parker to train with his S.H.I.E.L.D. organization, where Peter’s alter-ego, Spider-Man, will join forces with four other teenage Super Heroes — Nova, White Tiger, Power Man and Iron Fist — on the greatest action and adventure ever as they work to become ultimate superheroes. The Marvel Universe programming block will also feature the second season of The Avengers: Earth’s Mightiest Heroes, and new short-form series that take viewers behind the scenes to meet the creative teams and explore the many facets of the Marvel Universe.

MOTORCITY — This animated series, set in a futuristic Detroit after it has been purchased and built into Detroit Deluxe by evil billionaire Abraham Kane, premieres MONDAY, APRIL 30 on Disney XD. Kane, having banned personal freedoms including automobile transportation, is ultimately challenged by a group of rebels, The Burners, led by 17-year-old Mike Chilton. The Burners retreat to an underground city, customize their fleet of hot rods and pursue their quest to stop Kane from taking over the world. Motorcity is executive-produced and directed by noted producer Chris Prynoski (Metalocalypse). Craig Lewis (Foster’s Home For Imaginary Friends) is the story editor and John O’Bryan (Avatar: The Last Airbender) and George Krstic (Star Wars: Clone Wars) are the writers. The series voice cast is Reid Scott, Nate Torrence, Kate Micucci, Kel Mitchell, Jess Harnell, Brian Doyle Murray, Jim Breuer and Mark Hamill. Motorcity is a production of Robin Red Breast, Inc. and Disney Television Animation.

TRON: UPRISING— An impressive group of artists, animators, writers, directors and producers have delivered an exciting new series that combines 3D and 2D animation for a revolutionary visual aesthetic. The exciting storyline takes place between the two TRON feature films and introduces Beck, who has been chosen to lead the mission to free his home, a computer world known as The Grid, from the reign of the villainous Clu and his henchman General Tesler. Beck will be trained by the greatest warrior The Grid has ever known, Tron. The executive producer/director is Charlie Bean (Robotboy, Samurai Jack and Powerpuff Girls) and the consulting producers are Edward Kitsis, Adam Horowitz (both screenwriters of TRON: Legacy / executive producers of ABC’s Lost and Once Upon a Time) and Justin Springer (co-producer of TRON: Legacy). The music is composed by Joseph Trapanese (TRON: Legacy). The voice cast is: Elijah Wood, Emmanuelle Chriqui, Mandy Moore, Nate Corddry, Lance Henriksen, Paul Reubens, Reginald VelJohnson and Bruce Boxleitner. The series is a production of Disney Television Animation.

RANDY CUNNINGHAM: 9TH GRADE NINJA — This action-packed animated comedy, set to premiere in fall 2012 on Disney XD, follows the fast-paced adventures of unlikely hero Randy Cunningham who, armed with his magic ninja suit, the teachings of the NinjaNomicon (an 800 year old Ninja guide) and the help of his best buddy Howard, finds himself as the one thing protecting his school and the world from certain destruction. The voice cast is: Ben Schwartz (Parks & Recreation), Tim Curry (The Rocky Horror Picture Show), Megan Mullally (Will & Grace) and Andrew Caldwell (Transformers). The creators/executive producers are Jed Elinoff and Scott Thomas (Scooby Doo). The series is a production of Boulder Media in Dublin, Ireland, and Robin Red Breast, Inc. in Los Angeles.

Acquired series for Disney XD include Slugterra for fall 2012, Packages from Planet X for early 2013 and PacMan for spring 2013.

DISNEY JUNIOR

Disney Junior, a 24-hour basic cable/satellite channel expressly for kids age 2-7 and their parents/caregivers, launches FRIDAY, MARCH 23 (12:00 midnight, ET/PT) in the U.S., joining 28 other Disney Junior channels around the world. The popular Disney Junior daily programming block will continue on Disney Channel while the new 24-hour channel will fulfill parents’ demands for quintessential Disney programming throughout the day. The 24-hour 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.

DOC McSTUFFINS — This animated series about a six-year-old girl who communicates with and heals stuffed animals and toys in her backyard clinic, premieres with the 24-hour channel Disney Junior and will also be seen on the Disney Junior programming block on Disney Channel. Under the consultancy of the Hollywood Health & Society division of the USC Annenberg Norman Lear Center, the series will highlight the importance of taking care of oneself and others, while showcasing the hallmarks of great Disney storytelling — fantasy and wish fulfillment. The series voice cast includes: Kiara Muhammad, Loretta Devine, Lara Jill Miller, Robbie Rist, Jess Harnell, Jaden Betts, Kim Brooks and Gary Anthony Williams. The series’ theme song is performed by the star of Disney Channel’s hit series A.N.T. Farm and Hollywood Records recording artist China Anne McClain. Emmy Award-winning writer/producer Chris Nee (Little Bill and Deadliest Catch: Crab Fishing in Alaska) is the creator and executive producer, and Emmy Award-winning Norton Virgien (Rugrats) is the director. Doc McStuffins is a production of the Dublin, Ireland-based Brown Bag Films.

JAKE AND THE NEVER LAND PIRATES: BUCKY’S GREAT RACE — In a primetime event episode to be presented in September 2012, Jake’s pirate ship Bucky falls into the hands of Captain Hook after losing a race against the Jolly Roger, so Peter Pan returns once again to help Jake, Izzy, Cubby and Skully follow the Pirate Code and win back their trusty ship. Voicing the cast of characters are: Cameron Boyce, Madison Pettis, Jonathan Morgan Heit, David Arquette, Adam Wylie, Corey Burton and Jeff Bennett. The Never Land Pirate Band (aka Sharky and Bones) is Loren Hoskins and Kevin Hendrickson. The executive producer is Rob LaDuca and the producer/story editor is Mark Seidenberg. The director is Howy Parkins. The series is a production of Disney Television Animation.

MICKEY MOUSE CLUBHOUSE: MICKEY AND DONALD HAVE A FARM — In this special presentation scheduled for fall 2012, when the powerful wind from Pete’s Giant Windmill accidentally sends all of the animals on the new Clubhouse Farm flying to different places, Mickey and his pals set out to find and rescue them. The voice cast is: Bret Iwan, Russi Taylor, Bill Farmer, Tony Anselmo and Tress MacNeille. The executive producer is Rob LaDuca and the producer/story editor is Mark Seidenberg. Donovan Cook is the director. The series is a production of Disney Television Animation.

SOFIA THE FIRST — Disney will introduce a new little girl princess to its celebrated legacy of princess fairytales in an animated television movie, Sofia the First, premiering in fall 2012 to be followed by a series premiering in winter 2013 on Disney Channel and Disney Junior channels around the world. The stories are designed to communicate positive messages and life lessons that are applicable to preschool-aged children. The voice cast is: Ariel Winter, Sara Ramirez, Wayne Brady and Tim Gunn. The series was developed by Craig Gerber (Pixie Hollow Games) who also wrote the movie. Jamie Mitchell (Special Agent Oso) serves as both executive producer and director on the series. Gerber is co-executive producer and serves as the story editor. The series and movie are productions of Disney Television Animation.

THE HAPPY HUGGLEMONSTERS — Based on the book series I’m a Happy Hugglewug by Niamh Sharkey, this animated series follows the adventures of spirited five-year-old Henry Hugglemonster, the middle child in a family of fun-loving monsters. The series is directed by Norton Virgien (Rugrats, Doc McStuffins), the lead writer is Sascha Paladino (Wonder Pets, Ni-Hao Kai-Lan), and the producer is Gillian Higgins (Doc McStuffins, Octonauts). It is a production of Dublin, Ireland’s Brown Bag Films.

QUIET IS… — Tranquil songs and serene visuals mark this tender new short-form series, one designed to encourage calmness before bedtime for the youngest viewer. Quiet Is… was created by award-winning author and illustrator Sara Pinto and acclaimed photographer and filmmaker Luciana Frigerio. The composers are Rick Garcia and William V. Malpede. The stop-motion animated series is a production of the award-winning Scotland-based animation studio Ko Lik Films, Limited.