“Mongrel & The Wrath of the Ape King” by Morgan King

Morgan King had dreamed of making a Ralph Bakshi-ish rotoscoped fantasy animation all his life. This is the result of those dreams: a six-month project, teaching himself as he went along – Mongrel & The Wrath of the Ape King (you’ll note a bit of He-Man and Heavy Metal influence, thrown in for good measure). Says King, “while I didn’t even get close to the breadth of my 22-min script, as a stylistic attempt it gets pretty close to what I was shooting for.”

Lost animated “Little Rascals” pilot from 1970

Here’s a curio from the early 1970s. In the days before computer colorization, after Fred Ladd found success re-painting and refilming the old black and white Porky Pig cartoons in color, another enterprising producer – Charles King of King-World (the syndicator of the Little Rascals shorts) – decided to re-film the live action Our Gang shorts – in color, using stop-motion clay models and miniature sets. Hal Roach historian Richard Bann tells me that ten (!!) of these were produced by a studio in England. Clearly this idea didn’t work… in fact, its a train wreck. Can you imagine if this had succeeded and someone had the idea to do this to Laurel and Hardy, Buster Keaton or Charlie Chaplin? Here’s a faded copy of one of Rascal re-do’s, Our Gang Follies of 1936 (1935):

For comparison, here is the original short (ironically, a colorized version is all I could find online):

Let Frank Tashlin Teach You His “SCOT Art” Cartooning Method

Frank Tashlin‘s extremely rare 1952 cartooning booklet How to Draw Cartoons has been posted online in its entirety. In the book, Tashlin promotes his SCOT Art technique, which simplifies every cartoon character into squares (S), circles (C), ovals (O) and triangles (T).

Tashlin’s idiosyncratic style is geared more toward print cartoonists than animators, owing to Tashlin’s beginnings as a newspaper cartoonist. Even though his old-school cartooning style was already on its way out when the book was published in 1952, somehow the style looks artful in his confident hands. Throughout the book, Tashlin uses examples from his own illustrated books, including The World That Isn’t, which still holds up as a masterpiece of graphic art commentary.

Not to take this too far off-topic, but if you’re interested in learning more about Tashlin, I’d also recommend this Michael Barrier interview, which was conducted just one year before Tashlin passed away.

Tashlin has never been properly given his due as an animation director, mostly because his career as a live-action director eclipsed his earlier work. But he was easily among the most forward-thinking, singular and influential animation directors of Hollywood’s Golden Age. Below is a fine example of his innovative directorial style–the 1943 Warner Bros. short Puss n’ Booty.

UPDATE: Cartoon Brew reader Xevo points out that numerous examples of Frank Tashlin’s Van Boring newspaper comic were recently published on Ger Apeldoorn’s Fabulous Fifties blog.

Hungarian Animation Legend Marcell Jankovics Has Finished An Epic New Feature “The Tragedy of Man”

One of the most unique voices in animation, Marcell Jankovics, the Hungarian director of features like Fehérlófia and shorts like Sisyphus, has completed a new feature. And this is not any film, but a two-hour, forty-minute epic that was in production for nearly 25 years!

The film, Az ember tragédiája (The Tragedy of Man) was released in Hungary last December. It’s adapted from a famous Hungarian play of the same name written by Imre Madách. A film review by Vassilis Kroustallis suggests that it’s relentlessly bleak and somewhat repetitive, yet worth seeing:

Lucifer, the co-creator of the world (according to his statement) tests Adam and puts him to sleep to see his destiny through the ages. The trip is interesting, visually stimulating (but never pretty), and relentlessly repeating. Not a single note of happiness or laughter enters The Tragedy of Man, which proceeds from the Garden of Eden to Egypt and then to classical Greece, Rome, Christianity and beyond…The choice of the stories to tell is varied and remarkable. Along with the usual historical suspects (Danton and the French Revolution, Hitler and Stalin), the Miltiades story from Greece (a general who becomes a traitor), and the Tancred and Crusades segment–along with the battles on the Filioque–are a treat to watch in this context.

Jankovics’ work is always a unique visual experience, and one expects this to be no different. Aeon Flux creator Peter Chung described Jankovics’ style best when he wrote that Jankovics can “make the movement a primary aspect of the design. Every element–character & setting, foreground & background, color & shape, is integrated into a total composition in motion. It approaches the idea of animation as a visual equivalent to music, with analogs to melody, rhythm and harmony working in a non-literal evocation of ideas and feelings.”

Below are a few stills from The Tragedy of Man:

Rhode Island Taxpayers Lose $75 Million Trying To Make A Video Game

Last Thursday, Rhode Island-based 38 Studios laid off its entire staff of nearly 400 people, which presumably included many artists and animators. The unceremonious layoff notice sent to their employees can be read on Gamasutra.

The game studio was started by former baseball player Curt Schilling, and had received a $75 million loan guarantee from the state of Rhode Island (population 1 million), which gambled that Schilling’s company would bring high-paying tech jobs to the state. The company managed to slip out one game before collapsing, Kingdoms of Amalur: Reckoning, which both looks and sounds like the creation of a sweaty-palmed, pimple-faced high school student.

Amalur shipped 1.2 million copies in its first 90 days (according to Schilling). The governor of Rhode Island, Lincoln Chafee, said in a press conference a couple days ago that the game would have needed to sell more than twice as many copies just to break even.

There’s a lot of lessons to be learned here, the first of which would be that just because you know how to throw a ball doesn’t entitle you to tens of millions of taxpayer dollars so that you can pretend to run a video game technology company. Schilling just made it that much harder for legitimate video game entrepreneurs to receive any type of investment for their companies.

Disney Junior’s “Yo Ho, Let’s Go Summer!” Multi-Platform Event Begins Monday, June 4, 2012

DISNEY JUNIOR’S YO HO, LET’S GO SUMMER! MULTI-PLATFORM PROGRAMMING EVENT RETURNS FEATURING NEW EPISODES OF CABLE TV’S #1 AND #2 SERIES AMONG KIDS 2-5, DOC MCSTUFFINS AND JAKE AND THE NEVER LAND PIRATES, BEGINNING MONDAY, JUNE 4

New iOS Apps Available Today for Mickey Mouse Clubhouse and Jake and the Never Land Pirates

DisneyJunior.com to Launch Summer Super-Site Featuring New Online Games to “Unlock” Each Week and Printable Summer Scrapbook

Disney Junior‘s interactive multi-platform Yo Ho, Let’s Go Summer! programming event returns with new episodes of “Doc McStuffins and Jake and the Never Land Pirates, cable TV’s #1 and #2 series among Kids 2-5 respectively, as well as other favorite Disney Junior series including Mickey Mouse Clubhouse, Jungle Junction and Octonauts beginning MONDAY, JUNE 4 – FRIDAY, AUGUST 24. The Yo Ho, Let’s Go Summer! programming event will take place across all Disney Junior digital platforms including Disney Junior On Demand, Mobile and iTunes, as well as an immersive online super-site on DisneyJunior.com featuring new games to “unlock” each week and a printable summer scrapbook. Additionally, new interactive iOS apps for Mickey Mouse Clubhouse and Jake and the Never Land Pirates launch today.

Disney Junior’s Yo Ho, Let’s Go Summer! programming event kicks off on Monday, June 4 with a week of new Jake and the Never Land Pirates episodes airing on both the Disney Junior programming block on Disney Channel (8:30 a.m., ET/PT) and the new 24-hour Disney Junior channel (5:30 p.m., ET/PT). Also beginning June 4, kids and their parents can log on to DisneyJunior.com/Summer to print out pictures of their favorite Disney Junior characters to take along with them and include in photos of their summer adventures. Parents can then upload the photos of their child with their character for the chance to be seen on Disney Junior. The site will also feature a printable summer scrapbook, with new pages added each week through August 24.

Beginning Friday, June 15, new episodes of favorite Disney Junior series will air every Friday throughout the summer on both the Disney Junior programming block and the Disney Junior channel. During each episode premiere, kids will see a featured Disney Junior character of the day and can go online to DisneyJunior.com/Summer to unlock a new game based on that character.

Among the premieres are an episode of Jake and the Never Land Pirates where Marina (voiced by recurring guest star Ariel Winter of Modern Family) and the rest of the mermaids make Izzy an honorary mermaid, Friday, June 29; a special 45-minute episode of Jungle Junction, where Zooter and Ellyvan care for a stranded baby FlaGoGo bird, Friday, July 6; Donald Duck serves as a reluctant babysitter for a mystery egg on Mickey Mouse Clubhouse, Friday, July 13; Jim Belushi guest stars as the recurring character Glo-Bo, a six-handed toy monster in Doc McStuffins, Friday, July 20; Jane Kaczmarek guest stars in the recurring role of Red Jessica, a swashbuckling pirate gal who wins over Captain Hook in Jake and the Never Land Pirates, Friday, August 10; and a heartwarming episode of Doc McStuffins where Doc’s toy friends come to her rescue when she becomes the patient, Friday, August 17.

In anticipation of this summer’s programming festivities, the network today launched two new iOS apps, the Mickey Mouse Clubhouse Road Rally appisode app on iPad and Jake’s Never Land Pirate School gaming app for iPad, iPhone and iPod touch.

The Mickey Mouse Clubhouse Road Rally appisode brings viewing, learning and interaction together into one cohesive, fun-filled iPad experience. Fans 2-7 years old can touch, tap, shake, swipe, drag and talk through an entire episode of Mickey Mouse Clubhouse. The activities presented in the “appisode” include valuable counting, critical thinking and problem solving skills. This is the first in a series of Disney Junior Appisodes to be released this year.

Using the Jake’s Never Land Pirate School app, preschoolers can become completely immersed in Never Land, completing pirate-themed challenges presented in Sailing, Music, Flying, and Map and Spyglass classes. Features include: hunting for doubloons on Doubloon Beach; a customizable pirate certificate signed by Jake; and the ability to import a child’s photo into Pixie Dust flying class.

Disney Channel’s Disney Junior block ended 1Q 2012 with its highest 1Q ratings ever across target demos Kids 2-5, Girls 2-5, Boys 2-5, women 18-49 and Total Viewers (1.4 million), marking its 5th straight quarter of posting quarterly highs (1Q11 to 1Q12) in Kids 2-5 and Boys 2-5. Year to date, Doc McStuffins and Jake and the Never Land Pirates are the Top 2 cable TV series in Kids 2-5 and Boys 2-5, and the Top 2 preschool cable TV series in Total Viewers and Women 18-49. Doc McStuffins is also cable’s #1 series with girls 2-5 for the year. Moreover, the March 23 premiere of Doc McStuffins became the #1 preschool series launch in cable TV history in Adults 18-49. [Source: NTI, 12/26/11-5/20/12, L+7 ratings. Doc McStuffins series launch, 3/23/12, Live + SD; Series ranks based on program level data, most current, includes ties based on rating.]

Disney Junior reflects the emotional connection generations of consumers have to Disney storytelling and Disney characters, both classic and contemporary. It invites mom and dad to join their child in the Disney experience of magical, musical and heartfelt stories and characters, while incorporating specific learning and development themes designed for kids age 2-7. Disney Junior’s series blend Disney’s unparalleled storytelling and characters kids love deeply with learning, including early math, language skills, healthy eating and lifestyles, and social skills. Disney Junior launched in February 2011 with a daily programming block on Disney Channel. In its first year, Disney Junior posted the network’s biggest yearly audience in the daypart in Total Viewers, Kids 2-5, Boys 2-5 and Women 18-49, increasing by double-digit margins among preschooler demographics over year-ago levels. On March 23, 2012 Disney Junior added a cable and satellite channel in the U.S. bringing the total number of channels to 29 worldwide.

Theatre on Wheels Brings “TRON: Uprising” Screenings to Southern CA Beginning Saturday, May 26, 2012

STATE OF THE ART THEATRE ON WHEELS BRINGS TRON: UPRISING SCREENINGS TO SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA BEGINNING SATURDAY, MAY 26

In public spaces ​throughout the “real” grid of Southern California, viewers will have the opportunity to see a prelude episode of the new animated series TRON: Uprising in a state of the art, high definition theatre on wheels. The 91 seat theatre provides an immersive viewing experience with digital surround sound and stadium seating. The continuous screenings at each location are made available at no charge. The series premieres Thursday, June 7 on Disney XD.

The TRON: Uprising theater on wheels tour will kick off at Hollywood and Highland in Hollywood on Saturday, May 26 and moves to the Huntington Beach Children’s Chalk Art Festival in Orange County on Monday, May 28.

More information on the TRON: Uprising screenings is available on facebook.com/DisneyXD or facebook.com/Tron.

TRON: Uprising, produced in CG animation with a 2D aesthetic, focuses on an era of the TRON storyline that transpires after the 1982 feature film and before the story in Walt Disney Studios’ TRON: Legacy. It follows the heroic journey of Beck, a young program who becomes the unlikely leader of a revolution inside the computer world of The Grid. His mission is to free his home and friends from the reign of the villainous Clu and his henchman, General Tesler. Trained by Tron, the greatest warrior The Grid has ever known, Beck is given the moniker of The Renegade and ignites an uprising.

TRON: Uprising stars Elijah Wood as Beck, Bruce Boxleitner as Tron, Mandy Moore as Mara, Emmanuelle Chriqui as Paige, Nate Corddry as Zed, Lance Henriksen as General Tesler, Reginald VelJohnson as Able, Paul Reubens as Pavel and Tricia Helfer as the narrator and omnipresent voice of The Grid.

Produced by Disney Television Animation, the series is executive-produced and directed by Charlie Bean (Robotboy, Samurai Jack and Powerpuff Girls). Edward Kitsis and Adam Horowitz (both screenwriters of TRON: Legacy / executive producers of ABC’s Lost and Once Upon a Time) developed the series for Disney XD and serve as consulting producers with Justin Springer (co-producer of TRON: Legacy). The music is composed by Joseph Trapanese (TRON: Legacy).

TRON: Uprising theatre on wheels schedule is as follows:

Saturday, May 26 & Sunday, May 27
10:00 a.m. — 8:00 p.m. — Corner of Hollywood Boulevard and Highland Avenue in Hollywood, across the street from the El Capitan.

Monday, May 28
8:30 a.m. — 4:30 p.m. — Huntington Beach Children’s Chalk Art Festival. The truck will be parked in front of the Shorebreak Hotel on The Strand.

Saturday, June 2
8:30 a.m. —5:00 p.m. Long Beach Youth Soccer Tournament
Shoreline Drive at Ocean Park in Long Beach

Sunday, June 3 — Thursday, June 7:
Sunday: 10:00 a.m. — 8:00 p.m.
Monday — Thursday: 12:00 p.m. — 9:00 p.m.
Downtown Disney District located at the Disneyland Resort

John Lasseter on the Future of Animation

“No one goes to Milt Kahl – or Marc Davis or Ollie Johnston or Frank Thomas – ‘Wow’ what pencil did you use?” That’s my favorite quote from last Monday’s Marc Davis Lecture, The Development of the Digital Animator, moderated by Tom Sito. The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences has posted online the ten most significant moments from the event. Panelists included Lasseter, Bill Kroyer, Tim Johnson and Phil Tippett. You can watch all ten segments here: on Oscar’s You Tube channel.

(Thanks, Ed Himmel)

If the X-Men became a Disney Feature…

…it might look like these incredible designs by Matthew Humphreys, an artist currently at Hasbro Studios. Click on image above to seen the full line up. Honestly, if it were up to me, I’d be developing at least one Marvel property as a Disney hand drawn film… Dr. Strange, Sub Mariner, The Silver Surfer…

(Thanks Red Pill Junkie, via io9)

DDMG Announces Shareholder Call to Discuss $100 Million Grant and Provide Modeling Guidance related to Likely Financial Impacts

Brings Total of Government and Partner Funding to More than $285 Million

PORT ST. LUCIE, Fla., May 24, 2012 — Digital Domain Media Group, Inc., a leading digital production company focused on visual effects, original content animation and major studio co-productions, will host an investor conference call with John Textor, chairman and CEO, on Wednesday, May 30, at 10:45 a.m. EDT to discuss the impact of the $100 Million grant the company is receiving from the government of Abu Dhabi as part of the collaboration announced last week.

The conference call will begin at 10:45 a.m. EDT and will be broadcast live over the Internet, hosted at the Investor Relations section of the company’s website at www.ddmg.co . The call can also be accessed via telephone by calling 800-659-2032 (U.S.) or 617-614-2712 (International) and using the passcode 21523020. A replay will be available for seven days by dialing 888-286-8010 or 617-801-6888 (International) and using the passcode 35613827.

With this latest grant, Digital Domain Media Group has received over $285 million of cumulative and continuing incentives, including those provided by the state of Florida and the Florida cities of Port Saint Lucie and West Palm Beach. These incentives provide meaningful benefit directly to the company’s growth initiatives, providing funding for Tradition Studios, the company’s animation film studio in Port Saint Lucie, Florida, and Digital Domain Institute, the company’s for-profit animation and digital arts educational institute established in partnership with The Florida State University College of Motion Picture Arts.

“While we are obviously focused on the growth and profitability of our existing operating business, we are quite pleased that we have been able to fund our pre-revenue, transformational growth initiatives through mutually beneficial government partnerships,” said John Textor, CEO of Digital Domain Media Group. “We have received cumulative grants and economic incentives of $285 million which, compared to the current valuation of our total business, provide powerful drivers of future shareholder value without dilution and with significantly reduced risk.”

Including the $100 million grant from the government of Abu Dhabi as part of the collaboration announced last week, Digital Domain Media Group has received approximately $285.1 million from government entities and partners, as follows:

        State of Florida
             Cash Grants                                           $20.0 million
             Tax rebates - resalable                               $19.9
        City of Port St. Lucie, Florida
             Cash Grants                                           $10.0
             Land (appraised value)                                $10.5
             Low-interest building and equipment lease financing   $39.9
        City of West Palm Beach, Florida
             Cash grants                                           $10.0
             Land (appraised value)                                $9.8
             Low-interest financing                                $15.0
        Beijing Galloping Horse Film Co.                           $50.0
        Government of Abu Dhabi                                    $100.0
                                                                   --------------
        TOTAL                                                      $285.1 million

“Tiny Toon Adventures: How I Spent My Vacation” Coming to DVD on August 21, 2012


IT’S OUTRAGEOUS SUMMER FUN WITH THE TINY TOONS GANG ON WARNER HOME VIDEO’S RELEASE OF TINY TOON ADVENTURES: HOW I SPENT MY VACATION AVAILABLE ON DVD FOR THE FIRST TIME AUGUST 21, 2012

BURBANK, CA (May 23, 2012) — It’s summer vacation madness at its best with Babs and Buster Bunny, and all their pals from Acme Looniversity as they ditch the classroom for zany escapades and fun on Tiny Toon Adventures: How I Spent My Vacation, available in stores August 21, 2012. Executive produced by Steven Spielberg, this full-length animated film is available on DVD for the first time from Warner Home Video (WHV) and will retail for $19.97 SRP.

No more pencils, no more books! It’s the last day of class at Acme Looniversity and the Tiny Toons gang is ready for some summer hi-jinks and fun. Babs and Buster Bunny’s water pistol fight gets a little out of control and turns into a wild and exciting white-water rafting trip. Plucky Duck and Hampton Pig share the most impossibly awful road trip imaginable on their way to HappyWorldLand. Elmyra Duff becomes irritable after losing her cat and wanders off on her own in a wild animal park in search of “cute little kitties to hug and squeeze.” In the meantime, Fifi Le Fume meets film actor Johnny Pew who turns out to be a “skunknophobic” nightmare. It’s a loony summer vacation our Tiny Toons pals won’t soon forget!

Produced by Amblin Entertainment and Warner Bros. Animation, Tiny Toon Adventures: How I Spent My Vacation was executive produced by Steven Spielberg.

“Whether you’re a Tiny Toons fan or an admirer of classic Looney Tunes cartoons, this film is a must have if you love animation,” said Mary Ellen Thomas, Vice President Family & Animation Marketing and Partner Brands. She added, “Tiny Toon Adventures: How I Spent My Vacation combines animation with clever and imaginative writing, resulting in a delightful film the whole family can enjoy.”

Tiny Toon Adventures focuses on the new generation of Looney Tunes characters who study at Acme Looniversity. The series was produced by Steven Spielberg and Warner Bros. Animation.

Skechers-Inspired “Twinkle Toes: The Movie” Comes to DVD on July 31, 2012

GET READY TO SPARKLE!

ONE OF GIRLS’ FAVORITE CHARACTERS MAKES HER FEATURE FILM DEBUT IN A DAZZLING, ALL-NEW ADVENTURE

TWINKLE TOES: THE MOVIE

The Must-Own, Full-Length Film Inspired by the Best-Selling SKECHERS Girls’ Shoe Line Comes Exclusively to DVD July 31 From Universal Studios Home Entertainment

Universal City, California, May 22, 2012 —Inspired by the best-selling SKECHERS Kids footwear line, join Grace “Twinkle Toes” Hastings as she headlines her first-ever, full-length feature film, Twinkle Toes: The Movie, debuting exclusively on DVD on July 31, 2012 from Universal Studios Home Entertainment. Twinkle Toes: The Movie brings all the charm and excitement of the Twinkle Toes brand to the screen in a fun-filled, original film that will have girls dancing out of their seats. The sweet and adorable Twinkle Toes character that girls have come to know and love overcomes her most secret fears and learns to celebrate her individuality with energy, pizzazz and super-cute shoes!

Filled with music, friendship, laughter and heart, parents and their daughters will want to watch Twinkle Toes: The Movie again and again. This charming story of courage, self-expression and finding the “sparkle” within will inspire Twinkle Toes’ legions of fashionista friends to develop their own talent and achieve their dreams.

The animated star of SKECHERS’ Twinkle Toes footwear line, Grace “Twinkle Toes” Hastings, is a fashion icon for the under-13 set. Hip, flamboyant and original, Grace embodies a combination of sparkle, sass and style, which has made SKECHERS’ Twinkle Toes footwear a favorite of celebrity kids and fashion divas alike. The SKECHERS Kids collection, including Twinkle Toes, is currently the number one children’s footwear brand in the United States.

SYNOPSIS
Twinkle Toes: The Movieis a sparkly, fun-filled adventure that will make audiences want to get up and dance! Grace “Twinkle Toes” Hastings has a big secret: she gets terrible stage fright in front of anyone except her fluffy friend Walter. As Grace works to overcome her fears, and makes some super-cool friends at her new school, she discovers that it’s OK to be herself and shine!

Madagascar Knock-off From Hell

Not to be confused with Dreamworks’ Madagascar

…actually, the makers of Life’s A Jungle are desperately trying to trick consumers to pick up this low budget travesty. People say the DVD market is dying – if it puts an end to crap like this I’m all for it. And if you think the box art is bad… wait’ll you check out the trailer:

(Thanks, ParamountCartoons)

Afghanistan Is Making Slick Computer Animated Films

Buz-e-Chini is being hailed in the news story above as being the first computer-animated short in Hazaragi, the language of the Hazara people, who are the third largest ethnic group in Afghanistan. The director, Abbas Ali, was born in Afghanistan, but fled the country when the Taliban took over and studied animation in Pakistan. The film appears to have been produced mostly in Pakistan since the production company is Karachi-based Post Amazers. Also, in the news piece above, the director indicates that he started production on the film while he was still living in Pakistan.

The entire film can be viewed below. It’s an impressive production based on a Hazara folk tale. The film is dedicated to Hussain Ali Yousafi, the voice of the wolf, who was assassinated in 2009. No one said making animated films in Afghanistan would be easy.

(Thanks, @PrinceofRazors)

Dreamworks Animators “Push It”

This year’s intro video to Dreamworks “Animation Day” (a day long acting workshop for their animators) is a hoot. Look closely and you’ll spot several Dreamworks animators (James Baxter, Simon Otto, etc.) and Jeffery Katzenberg as well as some live action reference footage shot for their features. Can you imagine if the Disney staff made films like this in 1952?

(Thanks, Mike Stern)

“Lego Ninjago Masters of Spinjitzu: Season One” On DVD June 26, 2012

JOIN THE RISE OF THE NINJA HERO AS WARNER HOME VIDEO AND THE LEGO GROUP RELEASE

LEGO® NINJAGO MASTERS OF SPINJITZU SEASON ONE ON DVD JUNE 26, 2012

Featuring All 13 Action-Packed Episodes from the First Season of Cartoon Network’s

#1 Rated Show with Boys Ages 6-11

Burbank, CA (May 22, 2012) — Prepare for a battle against evil villains and sinister snakes as Warner Home Video (WHV) and The LEGO Group release LEGO® Ninjago Masters of Spinjitzu Season One on DVD June 26, 2012 for $19.98 SRP. Currently the #1 rated show on Cartoon Network with boys ages 6-11, LEGO Ninjago Masters of Spinjitzu Season One follows four ninja heroes who must protect the world of Ninjago from a new enemy. The two-disc DVD set includes all 13 action-packed season one episodes of LEGO Ninjago Masters of Spinjitzu.

Life is never easy for a ninja hero. LEGO Ninjago Masters of Spinjitzu Season One finds Kai, Jay, Zane, and Cole in a heated battle against Lloyd Garmadon, son of their archenemy Lord Garmadon. Garmadon launches an attack on Ninjago with an army of sinister snake tribes in an attempt to conquer the land. However, his plan backfires when the snakes organize a mutiny and take him as prisoner. Now forced to surrender to his former rivals, Garmadon joins the ninjas to thwart the rise of an enemy prophesied to shroud the land in eternal darkness. Ancient legend states that only one ninja will ultimately rise above the rest to become the Green Ninja…those answers and more lie ahead.

“Warner Home Video is proud to release the first season of the popular LEGO Ninjago Masters of Spinjitzu television series on DVD,” said Jeff Brown, WHV Executive Vice President and General Manager, Family, Animation & Television Marketing. “Fans can catch up on all the ninja action with LEGO Ninjago Masters of Spinjitzu Season One before the hit series returns to Cartoon Network this summer for season two.”

Ninjago is the second fastest growing product line in LEGO history and currently the top selling LEGO property for 2011 and Q1 2012. The highly-anticipated second season of LEGO Ninjago Masters of Spinjitzu is scheduled to premiere on Cartoon Network later this year.

MPC Brings a Little Bit of Luck to the New York Lottery

The VFX wizards at MPC recently teamed up with Skunk directing team Ne-O via DDB NY to conjure an army of magical little blue-suited folks for a New York Lottery spot. The studio handled color grading and all VFX work.

The Arrival opens on a day just like any other, as a man travels from the suburbs to the city for work. But wait — what’s that behind the bushes? Peaking over the subway rail? Riding by in a city bus? Why it’s Little Bit of Luck, the beloved NY Lottery character and he’s back with some friends. There are now multiple Little Bits of Luck to reinforce that there are nearly a million New York Lottery winners a day. So now there’s a little bit of luck for everyone.

“What a great chance to team up with a talented directing team like Ne-O on a whimsical, fun spot,” noted MPC NY MD Justin Lane. “It was a tremendous amount of work to pull this off, each shot presented its own challenges as the spot grew in complexity and size. While we aimed at maintaining a lighthearted feel, we also needed everything to be precise and seamless to make the spot feel as real as possible.”

MPC’s principal task was to integrate the little guys with their green screen heads. MPC’s Creative Director Alex Lovejoy explains, “Having collaborated with Ne-O on the famous VW Singing In The Rain commercial, Ne-O and our team knew exactly how to best approach a project this complex. Detailed measurements and reference passes from the shoot proved invaluable on the green screen set, where we made rough composites to check lighting and camera positions. Some 80 heads later and it was back to MPC for some serious comping!”

The studio finished off the spot with CG crowd duplication to portray a city landscape packed with Little Bits of Luck both walking and sailing through the air with 3D parachutes as MPC-generated confetti floats to the ground. When it came time for color grading, MPC evened everything out with a technical grade and then ran a final tape-to-tape session to blend it all together.

San Diego Zoo Unveils “Ice Age: Dawn of the Dinosaurs – The 4-D Experience”

San Diego, CA — Hold on to your seats because this is going to be a bumpy, breezy and snowy ride! The San Diego Zoo, in conjunction with Twentieth Century Fox Consumer Products and SimeEx-Iwerks, will unveil the new Ice Age: Dawn of the Dinosaurs – The 4-D Experience.  The completely immersive attraction takes the Ice Age action from the big screen and brings it directly to the viewer by combining 3-D film elements from the third film in the franchise with an exhilarating array of synchronized physical effects. This is the first time this attraction will appear in the U.S.

“We couldn’t be more thrilled to see this amazing attraction debut in the U.S. after a strong premiere in Europe. The San Diego Zoo is the ideal location,” said Jeffrey Godsick, president of Fox Consumer Products. “Ice Age is the biggest animated family film franchise in the world and by establishing a home at one of the country’s top family destinations we’re allowing fans to immerse themselves with their favorite characters in all-new ways.”

Actress Keke Palmer, who voices Peaches, a young wooly mammoth, in the upcoming feature film Ice Age: Continental Drift, will be joined by San Diego Zoo Director of Operations Bob Dillon and Elephant keeper Ron Ringer for the opening.

The theater is adjacent to the 7.5-acre Elephant Odyssey, home to Peaches’ descendants and more than 35 species of animals. Asian elephants meander a 2.5-acre exhibit that includes a 137,000-gallon pool, gentle rolling hills, hidden drinkers and feeders to entice foraging, and the half-acre Conrad Prebys Elephant Care Center.

Ice Age: Dawn of the Dinosaurs – The 4-D experience is a 14-minute thrill ride featuring sub-zero heroes Manny, Ellie and Diego, who venture into a mysterious underground world after Sid the Sloth stumbles across three abandoned eggs and decides to raise them as his own.  Once the eggs hatch, the adventure begins in the lost world of the dinosaurs.  Viewed in eye-popping 3-D, the film features an all-star voice cast, including Ray Romano, John Leguizamo, Denis Leary and Queen Latifah.  The attraction first opened at Alton Towers in the United Kingdom and Gardaland in Italy — the number one theme park resorts in their respective territories.

Bitzio, Inc. Announces Close of Motion Pixel Corporation Acquisition

SAN FRANCISCO, CALIFORNIA, May 23, 2012– Bitzio, Inc. (“Bitzio” or “the Company”), a leader in apps, mobile media and behavioral analytics, today announced the definitive acquisition of Motion Pixel Corporation Holdings, Inc. (“MPC”), a high-end media and animation studio with operations in the U.S., Costa Rica, and India.

The MPC acquisition adds 35 animators, developers and managers to the expanding Bitzio global team. Terms of the acquisition to be disclosed upon an upcoming 8-K filing.

William Schonbrun, President and CEO of Bitzio commented, “The acquisition of MPC elevates the quality, beauty and experience of a Bitzio app to that of an animated movie. MPC’s media and animation capabilities sync perfectly with our company vision. MPC also brings with it amazing relationships with sports and entertainment properties – and through those relationships we are able to secure mobile and digital rights to animated versions of world renowned athletes and stars.” Examples of MPC’s animation work can be viewed on their Demo Reel.

“Bitzio is now a company focused on delivering mobile apps with movie quality animation and game play, virtually never found in mobile apps. With MPC’s high end visual capabilities, and media and licensing rights, we can now completely focus on delivering apps for existing fans of sports teams, athletes and stars – and we can include animated versions of those teams and stars in the mobile game. We believe focusing our efforts on the existing fans of sports and entertainment properties, coupled with the quality of our apps and our behavioral analytics capabilities are massive differentiators. This is what sets us apart from other app development companies.”

Revenue will be generated from several channels including paid downloads, freemium (free to paid user) conversions based on premium content, in-app advertising, in app sponsorship, premium in-app purchases (game enhancement features) and cross promotion of other apps built around the sports or entertainment property through the Company’s proprietary App Wall technology.

Manny Bains, CEO of MPC commented, “Our team has seen a perfect alignment with Bitzio’s corporate strategy. We have the ability to create a level of graphic beauty that is rare in the world of apps right now. Bitzio brings the technology, deployment, marketing and monetization capabilities to the table. We chose to become a part of Bitzio because of their talent and vision. They have solved the conundrum that most app development companies have, how to connect with users. They are truly a behavioral analytics company masquerading as an app developer and this excites us. The value of marketing to existing fan bases boosts potential monetization and user conversion rates to levels we have never seen.”

Bitzio will be focusing on developing apps for four key verticals of existing fan bases: sports teams, entertainment, Bollywood and gaming. The Company will utilize the Bitzio Platform, which includes proprietary technologies such as Bitzio’s App Wall to market, monetize and analyze user behavior.

Call For Entries: The Woodstock Film Festival Animation Program Curated by Bill Plympton Seeks Entries, $2000 Prize

Bill Plympton, Signe Baumane and Chris Wedge with the Blue Sky Studios Award for Best Animated Film at the 2011 Awards Ceremony.

May 23, 2012 (Woodstock, NY): The Woodstock Film Festival’s Call for Entries for its 13th Annual Festival (October 10-14) is now open. WFF is looking for animated short films for its juried Animated Program curated by Oscar nominee Bill Plympton and renowned animator Signe Baumane. WFF’s Animation Program is sponsored by Blue Sky Studios and the winning film receives a $2000 cash award.

Blue Sky Co-Founder and director Chris Wedge will be one of the jurors as well as present the Maverick Award for Best Animation. Wedge won an Academy Award in 1998 for his short film Bunny, and has since directed Ice Age and Robots. His next Blue Sky feature is Leafmen. He can also be heard as the “voice” of the saber-toothed squirrel Scrat in Ice Age and its sequels.

Entries are now open through June 8 on both Withoutabox.com and at Woodstockfilmfestival.com. There will be an extended Withoutabox deadline of June 29. If you want to have your animated film seen by two giants in the animation business, and a chance for Blue Sky’s Chris Wedge to consider your film for the $2000 cash prize get your submission in now.

Plympton and Baumane have curated The Woodstock Film Festival animation program since 2004. The program provides a forum for independent animators to showcase their work, and is consistently one of the most popular programs. Previous award winners of the Animation Award include Juan Pablo Zaramella’s Luminaris in 2011, Anthony Sheppard’s Music Scene in 2010 and Jake Armstrong’s The Terrible Thing about Alpha-9 in 2009.

“Sesame Street: Elmo’s Alphabet Challenge” On DVD August 14, 2012

GET READY FOR SOME ALPHABET FUN AS SESAME WORKSHOP AND WARNER HOME VIDEO RELEASE ELMO’S ALPHABET CHALLENGE ON DVD AUGUST 14, 2012!

Elmo’s Alphabet Challenge Features Over 50 Minutes of Brand-New Sesame Street Content and Hilarious Video Game Spoofs!

BURBANK, CA (May 23, 2012) — Elmo is up for a new challenge as Sesame Workshop, the nonprofit educational organization behind Sesame Street, and Warner Home Video (WHV) release Elmo’s Alphabet Challenge on DVD August 14, 2012 at a SRP of $14.98. Elmo’s Alphabet Challenge features brand new made-for-video content including seven hilarious video game spoofs and five catchy new Sesame Street songs.

Elmo and friends are up to the challenge — an Alphabet Challenge — as they embark on an all-new learning adventure. Abby is excited to show her friends her new Fairy Fly Pad, a magical tablet loaded with cool games. But with a simple tap they accidentally get trapped inside the video game world of A. B. C-more, a mischievous elf obsessed with the alphabet. In order to return to Sesame Street, the friends must defeat A.B.C-more in different video game challenges that test their knowledge of the entire alphabet.

Elmo’s Alphabet Challenge is much more than just ABC-related fun! The DVD focuses primarily on early literacy skills; and through these skills children begin to recognize the name of letters in the alphabet and understand letter-sound relationships. Children will also learn about task persistence and overcoming obstacles as they stay focused on a task until completion. Additionally, kids will learn about self-confidence and friendship as the video focuses on the positive and supportive interaction between Telly, Abby, and Elmo. The characters encourage one another and praise each other during the different challenges.

Spoofing several old school, and new school video games in an animated world, Elmo, Abby and Telly have never been seen like this before! Can an 8-bit-Elmo “munch” his way through a maze-like game where he must find objects that start with certain sounds? What happens when the friends encounter some letters from “Angry Words?” Can Elmo dance his way through a game where his moves need to match movements that start with certain letters? Will Abby be a “hero” as she rocks out with a guitar in another game? With seven challenging games to play the friends will discover it is not as easy as A-B-C to win against A. B. C-more!

“Warner Home Video is excited to bring Elmo’s latest never-before-seen adventure to DVD with the release of Sesame Street: Elmo’s Alphabet Challenge,” said Jeff Brown, WHV Executive Vice President and GM of Non-Theatrical Franchise. “Kids will love to play along and learn in a series of fun video game spoofs that will teach both letter recognition and sounds in a fun and entertaining way.”

Call For Entries: Inaugural Jack Davis Humor Show

AN INVITATION TO ALL PROFESSIONAL ILLUSTRATORS & CARTOONISTS
To Take Your Place In The Inaugural JACK DAVIS HUMOR SHOW
~ A National Juried Exhibition ~
SPONSORED BY: THE JACK DAVIS FOUNDATION

Whereas: It was 1950 when Jack Davis made his way from Atlanta to New York City to take his place as an illustrator, create light hearted, energetic and irreverent images that provided, as all popular media must, a true and honest reflection of our life and times.

And Whereas: Over the next half century Jack Davis established himself as one of the preeminent illustrators in America, with no artist having more success packing more people in less space, by his myriad creations lauded by one and all as peerless visual extravaganzas: parties to which we are all invited, and at which we all seem to be having an exceedingly good time.

And Also Whereas: The appreciation of said humorous illustration in all its manifestations is a time honored tradition for both young and old, whether as comic books, political and social satire, on and in magazines or as art for the movie and music industries, this long tradition of humorous illustration being a critical (if at times negligently under appreciated) cornerstone of American popular culture.

And Additionally Whereas: Humorous illustrators in creating said works serve as the court jesters, the comic commentators and coal mine canaries of said popular culture and are thus deserving their place in the spotlight, it is hereby decreed that THE JACK DAVIS HUMOR SHOW will take place, and all aforementioned creators of humorous illustration in its varied and wondrous forms are invited join the fray, celebrate a grand tradition, and in so doing do their part to keep the party going!

Therefore: Let the word go out to all said professional illustrators engaged in the editorial and advertising fields, and to all creators of cartoons and comics, that they are hereby invited to submit their finest work to a jury of their peers, with all successfully adjudicated work being exhibited at the Oconee Cultural Arts Foundation galleries for the period of January 21 thru February 22, 2013, and online at: jackdavisfoundation.org for a period of not less than one year.

“Panty and Stocking with Garterbelt”

I’ve been away from anime for a bit so forgive me – I have no idea what this is…

…but I admit this trailer looks kinda cool. Is anyone here into Panty and Stocking with Garterbelt? If so, please write in and explain it to us.

It’s apparently a Japanese take on American cable cartoons. According to Amazon.com:

The Anarchy sisters, Panty and Stocking, are angels who were kicked out of Heaven due to bad behavior. They are sent to Daten City, a place located on the edge of Heaven and Hell, where creatures called “Ghosts” have run wild — feeding on human desire. Under the watchful eye of Reverend Garterbelt, it’s up to Panty and Stocking to destroy these Ghosts, in order to collect enough Heaven Coins to return to paradise. Only the Anarchy sisters can save humanity from these monsters and when they’re not bickering with each other, they’re unstoppable.

13 episodes come out on DVD July 10th. For those curious about seeing the actual show before it comes out on DVD, you can watch a few episodes on FUNimation’s official site.

(Thanks, Samuel Einhorn)