“Finding Nemo” 3D in Theaters September 14, 2012, on Blu-ray, Blu-ray 3D on December 4, 2012

“SEA” IT IN THEATERS FOR THE FIRST TIME EVER IN BREATHTAKING DIGITAL 3D AND OWN IT FOR THE FIRST TIME EVER ON BLU-RAYâ„¢ & BLU-RAY 3Dâ„¢

BURBANK, Calif. (June 1, 2012) – Disney•Pixar’s Finding Nemo dives back into theaters and homes this year in breathtaking Digital 3Dâ„¢. The must-“sea,” must-own Oscar®-winning underwater adventure–featuring the unforgettable Marlin, his forgetful friend Dory and the lovable young Nemo–returns to the big screen in a spectacular 3D theatrical release beginning September 14, 2012, and then swims into living rooms for the first time ever in high-definition Blu-ray, Blu-ray 3D and Digital platforms on December 4, 2012.

“‘Finding Nemo was originally shot in 3D,” said John Lasseter, chief creative officer for Walt Disney and Pixar Animation Studios and the film’s executive producer. “At last, with today’s technological advances, this spectacular underwater world can be seen as it was intended–showcasing its eye-popping detail and breathtaking colors to both theatrical and in-home audiences and creating atruly immersive experience.”

Finding Nemo, first released in theaters in 2003, earned the Oscar® for Best Animated Feature Film and remains the fifth highest grossing animated film worldwide. In 2008, the American Film Institute named Finding Nemo among the top 10 greatest animated films ever made, and it is the second highest grossing Pixar film to date (behind Toy Story 3).

The Blu-ray 2D and 3D debuts mark the first time Finding Nemo has ever been available in these hi-def formats. Featuring pristine high definition picture and sound, the Blu-ray creates an incredible at-home experience with a host of interactive features and bonus features including 3D Virtual Aquariums, 2D Virtual Aquariums, CineExplorer, a Filmmaker Roundtable and more.

The home entertainment release of Finding Nemo will be available this holiday season as follows:
· 5-Disc Blu-ray 3D Ultimate Collector’s Edition (2 Blu-ray 2D + 1 Blu-ray 3D + 1 DVD + 1 Digital Copy) = Suggested Retail Price: $49.99 U.S./$56.99 Canada
· 3-Disc Blu-ray/DVD Combo Pack (2 Blu-ray 2D + 1 DVD) = Suggested Retail Price: $39.99 U.S./$46.99 Canada
· 3D Digital = Suggested Retail Price: $25.00 U.S.
· High-Definition Digital = Suggested Retail Price: $19.50 U.S.

“Blade Anime” & “Wolverine Anime” Strike DVD on July 31, 2012

BLADE ANIME & WOLVERINE ANIME Strike DVD July 31st
Each Two-Disc Set Includes 12 Episodes and All-New Featurettes!

CULVER CITY, CALIF. (May 29, 2012) — Catch some of Marvel’s most dangerous Super Heroes when Sony Pictures Home Entertainment and Marvel Animation release Blade Anime and Wolverine Anime on DVD July 31st. The two-disc sets will include all 12 episodes from each series, with epic battles and action-packed storylines, as well as six all-new featurettes. The series are guided by The New York Times best-selling author Warren Ellis (Iron Man: Extremis, Astonishing X-Men: Xenogenesis), and produced by Madhouse for Marvel Television and Sony Pictures Entertainment Japan (SPEJ). Sony Pictures Home Entertainment is the distributor.

Blade Anime features the voice of Harold Perrineau (TV’s Lost, Matrix trilogy) as Eric Brooks, otherwise known as Blade. The three new featurettes on this two-disc set include The Marvel Anime Universe: Blade Re-Awakened, which explores the process that went into developing this new take on the vampire-hunter. Other featurettes also include Blade: The Vampire-Slayer, comparing Marvel’s Blade with traditional vampire stories, and Special Talk Session: Marvel Anime’s Blade and Wolverine, an interview with series creators.

Wolverine Anime stars Milo Ventimiglia (TV’s Heroes, TV’s Gilmore Girls) voicing the title character of Wolverine. The three new featurettes on this two-discset include The Marvel Anime Universe: Wolverine Reborn, providing insights into the process for creating the series. The Ferocious Anti-Hero: Wolverine Defined exploresthe hero’s character, and Wolverine Meets X-Men contains an interview with the creators of the Marvel anime Wolverine and X-Men.

BLADE ANIME SYNOPSIS: Eric Brooks — known as Blade – seeks revenge on Deacon Frost, the vampire who killed his mother while she was still pregnant with him. With all the powers of a vampire and none of their weaknesses, Blade’s quest leads him throughout Southeast Asia in search of Frost. In the Golden Triangle, he discovers a vampire plot that threatens to take down the whole world.

WOLVERINE ANIME SYNOPSIS: The love of Logan’s life, Mariko Yashida, is taken back to Japan by her father Shingen, a notorious crime lord. Once in Japan, she is forcibly betrothed to Kurohagi, a cruel criminal associate of her father, to solidify their business interests. Logan is determined to get her back, yet is plunged into a tangled web of corruption and violence at every turn. But with the help of young assassin Yukio, he just might manage to claw his way through the criminal underworld to confront Shingen and save Mariko.

HP Announces New Z220 Workstations

PALO ALTO, CA– HP announced the new HP Z220 Workstations and HP EliteBook Mobile Workstations, packed with reliable and professional-class features.

HP’s most affordable, no-compromise workstations, the Z220, features next-generation Intel Core and Intel Xeon processors, the latest integrated and discrete professional graphics from Intel, NVIDIA and AMD and four integrated USB 3.0 high-speed ports. The Z220 entry-level workstation is available in a choice of an exceptionally expandable, Convertible Mini-Tower (CMT) or a highly compact Small Form Factor (SFF) that’s 65 percent smaller and perfect for tight spaces.

The HP EliteBook w-series is HP’s best combination of high-performance features and graphics in a business-rugged design, featuring next-generation Intel Core i7 quad-core or i7 or i5 dual-core processors and up to 32 GB of system memory.

Both desktop and mobile workstations offer a breadth of independent software vendor (ISV) certifications for professionals across a range of industries from product development to media and entertainment.

“The addition of the new HP Z220 and EliteBook Mobile Workstations strengthens our already-robust lineup and reinforces our position as the market leader in the workstations industry,” said Jim Zafarana, vice president and general manager, Commercial Solutions Business Unit, HP. “For design, animation and engineering customers, creativity can strike while out in the field or back at the office–we’ve designed HP Workstations to complement the needs of professionals who demand quality and reliability where ever they are.”

More power, less energy, still affordable

HP Z220 Workstations deliver new technologies to improve overall system performance and energy efficiency. Designed for 24×7 operations under heavy workloads, they continue to set the standard for affordable entry-level workstations and bring unbelievable value to demanding professionals in a range of market and business segments from product development / mechanical computer-aided design (MCAD), architecture/engineering/construction (AEC) and professional video editing to education, healthcare and government.

Both Z220 Workstation models offer an array of choices from the new Intel Xeon processor E3-1200 v2 family and third-generation Intel Core processor family. They feature the latest Intel HD Graphics P4000 professional graphics option on selected Intel Xeon E3v2 processors, and a selection of entry, mid-range and high-end discrete graphics cards from NVIDIA and AMD, including support for the next generation PCIe Gen3 graphics cards as they become available.

Other performance enhancements include up to 32GB of 1600MHz DDR3 memory (ECC or non-ECC) and Intel Smart Response Technology, an easy to install disk caching technology that can significantly improve storage IO performance, for faster boot time and frequently accessed applications. An optional handle in the top optical bay makes it very convenient to move the Z220 CMT. In addition, HP Z220 Workstations feature 90 percent efficient power supplies as standard and are BFR/PVC free.

Workstation performance on the go

HP’s most powerful mobile workstation, the HP EliteBook 8770w, offers the highest-performing professional graphics and extreme processing power, and is highly configurable with a 17.3-inch diagonal display. The versatile and portable HP EliteBook 8570w includes high-end professional graphics, robust processing power and a 15.6-inch diagonal display. HP’s most travel-friendly mobile workstation, the HP EliteBook 8470w, features workstation-caliber graphics and powerful processing along with a business-rugged design that’s optimized around a 14-inch diagonal HD display.

he HP EliteBook Mobile Workstations are ideal for professionals who need workstation power wherever the job might take them–whether it’s editing video at a remote film location or tweaking designs on a construction site.  Since color accuracy is critical for many workstation customers, the HP EliteBook 8570w and 8770w are available with HP DreamColor Technology as an option, providing an IPS display with a consistent color experience throughout development.

Designed specifically for the needs of professionals on the go, the HP EliteBook w-series features a magnesium aluminum chassis, a radial-brushed display cover that resists fingerprints, glass touchpads and precision aluminum-alloy hinges and HP Easy Access Doors to make them easy to open and keep them secure when closed. They meet stringent military standards (MIL-STD-810G) for dust, vibration, shock, altitude, drop, high temperature, low temperature, temperature shock.

Other business-features on the EliteBook w-series include Intel Smart Response Technology for faster system boot and application startup, and SRS Premium Sound PRO for smooth audio quality when engaging in video conferences, web-based trainings or streaming videos.

All HP Workstations come preloaded with HP Performance Advisor, which provides a consolidated report of the workstation’s hardware and software configuration that can be used to tune the workstation specifically for professional application workloads with just one click, reducing time spent troubleshooting.

Pricing and availability

Quad-core configurations of the HP Z220 Workstation start at $699 and the HP EliteBook 8770w, 8570w, 8470w Mobile Workstations start at $1,699, $1,449, and $1,329 respectively, The workstations are expected to be available in the United States in later this month.

Duncan Studio’s “My Beastly ABC’s” Reaches Its Fundraising Goal

Here’s another success story from LA’s growing independent studio scene. Veteran feature film animator Ken Duncan, responsible for characters like Meg in Disney’s Hercules and Jane in Tarzan, has successfully completed a Kickstarter campaign for the interactive iPhone/iPad app My Beastly ABC’s.

Duncan’s fundraising goal for the project was $35,000, and he ended up with $37,900 from 405 backers. The project will be produced through his company, Duncan Studio, which also recently produced the drawn animation for the short Kung Fu Panda: Secrets of the Masters. My Beastly ABC’s is slated for release this September.

Call For Entries: Animage Festival

Registration is now open for competitive screenings in Brazil’s Animage – IV International Animation Festival of Pernambuco, in. The selected films will be screened during the festival, which has all the programming free, and takes place from September 26th to 30th in Recife. These films will compete for cash prize and trophies.

Filmmakers from any state or country can register their films with no entry fee. The entry form and rules are available on ANIMAGE website: www.animagefestival.com. All entries must include the techniques of animation and have up to 30 minutes. Furthermore, the production of selected films should have been completed since January 2011. The deadline for entries and preview material is July 31, and must be sent exclusively through the festival’s website.

The competitive screening will award with cash prizes and trophies the best animated short films in four categories: Best Short Film, Best Short for Children, Best Brazilian Short Film, Best Short (Audience Awards). Also, will receive the ANIMAGE Trophy the work that stand out in the categories: Best Director, Best Script, Best Art Direction, Best Technics and Best Sound.

Beyond the competitive screenings, the Animage – IV International Animation Festival of Pernambuco promotes non-competitive screenings, special screenings, lectures, debates and workshops about animation techniques. In 2011, one of the highlights of the festival’s program was the screening of the surrealist filmmaker Jan Svankmajer.

The films selected by the curators of Animage will be screened in central cinemas of Recife, at the Fundação Joaquim Nabuco Cinema and São Luiz Cinema. The festival also screens outdoors, in locations such as the Carmo Square, in Olinda, and 13 de Maio and Dona Lindu Gardens, in Recife. The festival estimates 10,000 people for this edition.

2011 WINNERS:

Cul de Bouteille – Jean-Vlaude Rozec (2010) – France – 9′
Technique: 2D
Best Short Film for Children – Correios Award
Award: R$ 3.000,00 and Animage Trophy
Best Short Film- Audience Award
Award: R$ 3.000,00 and Animage Trophy

Romance – Georges Schwizgebel (2011) – Canada – 7’20″
Technique: Drawing on paper and painting on celluloid
Best Short Film – Correios Award
Award: R$ 4.000,00 and Animage Trophy

Céu, Inferno e Outras Partes do Corpo - John Rodrigo (2011) – Brazil – 7’33″
Technique: Drawing on paper, rotoscoping, and 2D
Best Brazilian Short Film
Award: R$ 3.000,00 and Animage Trophy

Indie 2D Feature Comes To Hollywood For Production

Many insiders in the animation business may know the names Miracle Mouse or his creator Tom Hignite. A few years back Hignite made headlines (not all in a positive light) when this artist and home designer decided to try to crusade into the animation business and begin production of an animated Disneyesque 2D feature. He began by hiring a staff of ex-Disney and ex-Warner Brother’s artists who had been recently laid-off in the economy of down-sizing large animation studios. Three years into the slow animation process the main funding for Hignite’s studio dried-up as the national market for housing made Hignite downsize his main Home Designing and building business.

Hignite’s micro-studio continued at an even slower pace, now using one remaining ex-Disney artist and a group of free-lancers. The multi-million dollar budget for Miracle Mouse became what seemed like an impossible mountain to climb, but still the process continued on a hope and a prayer. A big benchmark of the project came last Fall when Hignite’s studio had it’s Milwaukee premiere of a highly polished, condensed 27 minute version of the feature. The audience was filled with animation professionals , art students, and the general public. Hignite commented,” it was the most exciting night I could imagine as we got to hear the laughs or applause from a live audience for the first time. The years of work could be for nothing as in 27 minutes, will will know if the film will be a hit or a bust depending on audience reaction”.

Gathering the test audience surveys, and hearing the after-show Q&A comments, the show was a success and , with the newest 115 minute feature’s re-tweaked script in hand, a full feature version of Miracle Mouse-Cranky’s Miracle went forward to the next steps. 4 artists now sit at animation tables in Hignite’s studio and the free-lancers still are in the pipeline. New custom music has been added, and their original animatic’s scratch voice actors have been replaced 10 days ago during a week-long trip to Hollywood California. Hollywood’s Margarita Mix audio studio did the recording of some bigger name stars with were added to the production. This is the first public announcement for the new cast and news of Hignite’s Hollywood working visit.

The lead role of the story’s protagonist was recorded with 95 year “young”, Oscar winning actor Ernest Borgnine. 3 -Time Emmy and Golden Globe award winner(and red-hot star of television’s highly rated Glee)Jane Lynch is the voice of the female lead goose, Mrs. Gander. Hollywood veteran Veronica Cartwright(Alien, Witches Of Eastwick, The Birds) is playing the smaller pivotal part of Mrs. Mole. The original long-time veteran voice-over actors Jeannie Elias and Danny Mann returned to re-voice the re-vamped script as the leading protagonist characters Miracle Mouse and his friend a beaver named Okey Doky. The role of narrator is voiced by 18 year ex-Disney animation veteran Philo Barnhart. Just as Philo’s father Dale had worked for many years alongside as a fixture at Walt Disney’s studio, Philo now a 4-year fixture at Hignite’s studio.

A recent news letter from the Animation Guild advertising a free-lance position for adding a background painter to the project, garnered over 80 interested artist’s replies. In an entertainment world where studios have seen Disney’s last 2D ventures not measure-up to the box office of the latest CGI features, Hignite is hoping that studio brass will realize that when no one is doing a certain type of entertainment vehicle(think The Entertainer in black and white and no dialog/silent movie, or Blair Witch Project), may be just the right path to a break-out, sentimental family blockbuster.

Miracle Studios will continue its’ path toward a finished film, but realizes that unless an investor or studio steps-in to accelerate the feature’s production schedule, the indie route in 2D will take quite some time to get to the finish line. “We are exploring some overseas studio help, but I started this dream by wanting to keep this as an American made film, so I am torn. We are hoping that once the film is in it’s full story animatic version, that the highly polished methods we are using for that unique animatic version will open doors. As you can see from our story panel work, the painstaking quality of the finished illustrations will allow us to enter a larger film festival such as Cannes or Sundance, under the experimental catagory. The higher the visibility, or the more early awards we can garner for the film, the more likely it is that we will be able to interest a distributor”, says Hignite optimistically.

It’s Time For 365 Days Of Ward Kimball

A companion to my upcoming biography of Ward Kimball, 365 Days of Ward will be updated EVERY SINGLE DAY for the next year. The site is a bit of an online experiment–an attempt to explore biographical storytelling through the crisp rapid visual bursts of the Tumblr format. Perhaps there’s something dissonant about presenting someone’s life via a blogging platform that didn’t exist when they were alive, but considering Ward’s forward-thinking approach to life, I want to honor his legacy with a little unconventional thinking.

By itself, I hope 365 Days of Ward will provide a daily jolt of inspiration–an introduction to the wealth of creativity that flowed from Ward’s mind for over 80 years–but I also hope it’ll whet your appetite for the in-depth book Full Steam Ahead!: The Life and Art of Ward Kimball, which provides the context for much of what I’ll be sharing over the next year.

Below is the daily schedule of posts. I anticipate there’ll be breaks in the format, but this is the general plan:

Mondays: Animation-related artwork by Ward

Tuesdays: “Asinine Alley”, a look at the antique automobile comics that Ward drew for thirty years

Wednesdays: Animated GIFs of some of Ward’s famous animation moments

Thursdays: Dedicated to the Grizzly Flats, the legendary full-sized railroad that Ward operated in his backyard

Fridays: Music-related posts that explore Ward’s twenty-plus years as the leader of the quirky jazz group The Firehouse Five Plus Two

Saturdays and Sundays: Random fun–childhood artwork, personal sketches, caricatures, posters, photos, and other ephemera

If you’ve always wanted to know more about animation’s rebellious wild man, pay close attention for the next 365 days.

Animated Wine Labels

If you can’t make it to Annecy this week – you can always stay home with a case of wine, with labels drawn by an international collection of animators. Our friend Dave Filipi recently spotted this bottle of wine (above left) with a label drawn, storyboard style, by Bill Plympton. Further investigation found that several years ago, Portuguese winemaker Niepoort recruited a group of renown cartoonists to illustrate their various international labels (Plympton told me “It’s something to look at while you get drunk. I did mine five years ago.”).

Apparently each label uses an artist from the area the wine will be marketed in: Phil Mulloy created a label (above right) for the British market; Priit Pärn drew the Estonian label; Fintan Taite, an award-winning Dublin-based cartoonist created the bottle for Ireland; cartoonist Martin Kellerman provided art for the Swedish label.

For a closer look at Bill Plympton’s label, click here. A full rundown of the winemakers complete line: here.

Cereals That Never Were: Animatics from Hell

Last year we found an animatic for an unproduced Post cereal product: Pink Panther Foods. Here’s another one, circa 1968, featuring Casper the Friendly Ghost for “Post Ghosties”. What makes this spot particularly nauseating is the sickly sweet soundtrack and the awful song – horribly “sung” by Casper and his “friends”. It’ll haunt you forever. Please note: this spot never aired, nor was this product ever produced.

Animatics like these were devised for focus groups to test their appeal. Here’s a less offensive one for Dennis The Menace Peanut Puffs.

(Thanks, M. Pažanin via The Odds and Ends Channel)

“The Suicide Shop” Trailer

The Annecy Animation Festival starts Monday and the opening night feature is Patrice Leconte’s The Suicide Shop. Based on a bestselling book by Jean Teulé, it’s a black comedy about a morose family who run a shop for suicide supplies in a bleak and depressing city. Their family business is threatened when a new baby arrives, making everyone around him happy. And it’s in 3D. Here’s a look:

“Monstroids” Animated Series in Development

LOS ANGELES, CA – Global brand management firm Evolution and Rollman Entertainment have partnered with creator Kevin Grevioux on the rights to Monstroids, Grevioux’s fresh twist on classic monsters from the upcoming Astounding Comics & Darkstorm Studios comic book series. Together, the team will utilize their expertise to develop and produce new content with an animated television series targeting boys 6-12 and spearhead a global brand strategy, licensing and retail development program for the property.

Evolution’s four partners, Travis J. Rutherford, Adam Unger, Stanley Lerman, and Ryan Broomberg, will focus primarily on developing and executing the Monstroids brand strategy; while Rollman Entertainment’s Eric S. Rollman, whose career includes presidential posts at both Marvel Animation and Saban/Fox Family Productions, will utilize his wealth of experience toward the development and production of the Monstroids television series. Rollman’s recent producing credits include Sea Rescue, NFL Rush Zone, LBX, Iron Man Armored Adventures, Wolverine & the X-Men, Spectacular Spider-Man, Super Hero Squad, The Avengers: Earth’s Mightiest Heroes and while at Saban/Fox Family Productions, he was credited on over 7,500 episodes of animated and live-action television series and dozens of films.

The Monstroids television series is anticipated to have a Q2 2014 TV launch, with products at mass retail in fall 2014.   Key categories will include toys, video games, apparel, accessories, fast food, beverages and theme parks.

“The licensing potential for Monstroids is phenomenal,” commented Rutherford.  “The unique characters that comprise the Monstroids are rivaled only by the opportunities inherent with this imaginative, engaging and purely entertaining property.”

“Kevin has taken Hollywood’s favorite monsters and uniquely mixed them with robotics, creating a compelling new take on these classics, perfectly suited to animation with fun, action filled story lines that will ignite the imaginations of kids everywhere,” added Rollman.

“It’s a great honor to have partners like Evolution and Rollman Entertainment who see the vision of Monstroids so clearly,” said Grevioux. “I’ve wanted to bring these characters into the kids entertainment space for a long time now and am confident that with the collective experience within this group, it will translate into a monster success for everyone who comes on board with us.”

Half monster and half machine, the Monstroids are the most advanced man-made creatures ever constructed. Frankenborg, Gearwolf, Draculoid, Quasimotor, Harponica, Jackhammer, Mummitron, Drillbit, Megahurtz, Aquatech — were created by the sinister Dr. D. L. Frankenheim to assist him in his fiendish plot to take over the world. But Frankenheim built his creations too well. Rebelling against their megalomaniacal master, the Monstroids band together to fight battles that no one single monster, man or machine can, all in an effort to protect the righteous and preserve justice.

Toys”R”Us and DreamWorks Animation Unveil Global Exclusive “World of Madagascar” Brand

Toys”R”Us In-Store and Online Boutiques Celebrate Launch of New 3D Madagascar 3: Europe’s Most Wanted in Theaters on June 8, 2012

WAYNE, N.J. and GLENDALE, Calif., June 1, 2012Toys”R”Us and DreamWorks Animation SKG, Inc. (Nasdaq: DWA) today unveiled World of Madagascar, a new brand featuring toys based on characters from all three Madagascar films, now available exclusively at Toys”R”Us online and in store locations around the world.  Coinciding with the launch of Madagascar 3: Europe’s Most Wanted, which arrives in theaters on June 8, Toys”R”Us is showcasing the World of Madagascar in Toys”R”Us stores throughout the United States during the month of June. Highlighted in the boutique are exclusive toys from Fisher-Price®, as well as a full range of lifestyle products inspired by the beloved Madagascar franchise.

As part of the celebration surrounding the release of the new film, Toys”R”Us Times Square is featuring the full range of World of Madagascar and Madagascar 3: Europe’s Most Wanted products in a dedicated boutique inside of the store’s main entrance on Level One. Additionally, the product assortment is showcased online at Toysrus.com/Madagascar.

World of Madagascar is an immersive brand that brings the blockbuster animated Madagascar film franchise, which has grossed over $1.1 billion at the worldwide box office, together with the hit DreamWorks Animation series, Nickelodeon’s Penguins of Madagascar, which was nominated for eight Daytime Emmy® Awards in 2012 including “Outstanding Children’s Animated Program.”

DreamWorks Animation has developed a successful worldwide licensing and merchandising campaign to support World of Madagascar. The Toys”R”Us boutiques will feature an expansive collection of products across categories including video games, kids’ furniture, pop up play tents, books, DVDs, board games, back-to-school, party & decor and educational software.

“The World of Madagascar builds on our long-standing relationship with DreamWorks Animation and our desire to bring new and innovative play experiences to kids and families through our global network of stores,” said Jamie Uitdenhowen, Vice President, Divisional Merchandise Manager, Learning, Toys”R”Us, U.S.  “Fans of the Madagascar franchise are sure to love our in-store boutique, as well as the breadth of imaginative film-inspired products.”

“We are thrilled to team with the world’s leading dedicated toy retailer, as the unparalleled expertise and global reach make Toys”R”Us  the ideal location to launch this exciting venture,” said Kerry Phelan, Head of Worldwide Licensing for DreamWorks Animation. “We believe these exclusive retail offerings will help generate even more anticipation for Madagascar 3: Europe’s Most Wanted, which takes our Zoosters on their biggest and funniest adventure yet when it arrives in theaters on June 8.”

Customers in the United States who may be interested in purchasing the assortment of World of Madagascar products online can find them in a dedicated microsite at Toysrus.com/Madagascar. After browsing the newest products based on the Zoosters, fans can also view a trailer for Madagascar 3: Europe’s Most Wanted.

Fisher-Price is a key partner for the World of Madagascar program, with offerings including the following exclusives:

  • WORLD OF MADAGASCAR: BASIC FIGURES
    This set of 2.25-inch figures of favorite characters from Madagascar 3: Europe’s Most Wanted comes with two characters each. . With three packs total, kids can re-enact their favorite movie moments.  Ages  3+.
  • WORLD OF MADAGASCAR: WACKY BABBLERS
    Kids can control the action by giving these Madagascar characters a shake to hear wacky phrases and laughs! Shake either Marty or Alex to make their mouths open and close while the characters laugh, talk, or make a funny sound. And, when shaken in succession, Marty and Alex step through full phrases and laugh continuously! Each figure stands approximately 7-inches tall. Age 3+.
  • LAUNCH & GO ROADSTER
    The Penguins Stomp ‘n Launch vehicle is approximately 4.8-inches long and uniquely Penguin styled straight from Penguins of Madagascar. Kids can send Rico speeding ahead to his next mission by stomping on the “crushed can” to air power the vehicle forward. Rico is a non-removable figure. Age 3+.
  • LUXURY ASSAULT RECREATIONAL VEHICLE
    The Madagascar 3: Europe’s Most Wanted penguins are ready for action in their adventure LARV. The vehicle is approximately 7-inches long and 4.5-inches deep. It includes, a sculpted Rico and Private in the driver’s seat, one barrel and two plungers. Kids can push the LARV along to take Rico and Private on an adventure or press down on the top dome to transform vehicle into action blasting mode. The sides flip down and blast plunger projectiles (manually operated); the back flips down sending a barrel rolling; and sound effects activate when the top dome is pressed.  Age 3+.
  • CRASH LANDING PLANE
    The Madagascar 3: Europe’s Most Wanted penguins are ready for action in their adventure LARV. The vehicle is approximately 7-inches long and 4.5-inches deep. It includes a sculpted Rico and Private in the driver’s seat, one barrel and two plungers. Kids can push the LARV along to take Rico and Private on an adventure or press down on the top dome to transform vehicle into action blasting mode. The sides flip down and also blasts manually operated plunger projectiles; the back flips down sending a barrel rolling; and sound effects activate when the top dome is pressed. Age 3+.
  • WORLD OF MADAGASCAR: BASIC SMALL PLUSH
    These soft, cuddly plush characters from Madagascar 3: Europe’s Most Wanted are 8″ tall (approx.) and offered in an assortment of characters that include: Alex, Marty, Gloria, Melman, Stephano, Skipper, and King Julien. Age 3+.
  • TALKING PLUSH
    These plush characters can talk!  Standing at 10″ tall (approx.), this assortment includes Alex and Marty. Squeeze their bellies for phrases, roars, and sound effects.  Age 3+.

Spacejunk Animates “Avacyn Restored” Game Trailer

The epic animated game trailer Avacyn Restored is the latest in a series of darkly beautiful collaborations between game company Wizards of the Coast and award-winning design and production studio Spacejunk.

Written by Wizards of the Coast’s Brady Dommermuth, Kurt Isensee and Mark Painter, Avacyn Restored, and its earlier counterpart Dark Ascension, immerse viewers into the realm of Magic: The Gathering — the ghoulish world of Innistrad and its evil inhabitants. Each trailer was designed and animated using original paintings created for the game experiences. Spacejunk’s creative teams then designed animatics to determine and refine the approach to movement, story transition and the overall viewing experience.

For Avacyn Restored and Dark Ascension, Spacejunk utilized a 2.5D production process with key moments employing 3D camera projection, a technique that would provide depth and movement to bring the paintings to life while maintaining the integrity of the original art. For the soundtracks supporting each narrative, Spacejunk collaborated with noted composer Sean Beeson, whose scores have been featured extensively across all game platforms, with select placement in features and television. Spacejunk cast the voice over talent and crafted all sound design, for truly dynamic productions with cinematic style and scope.

“Wizards’ creative teams infuse each beautifully rendered detail with such passion and care — it is truly inspiring,” says Spacejunk Creative Director Jeff Boddy. “Our goal, with each production, is to translate the dramatic intensity and harness the magic as each new facet is unveiled.”

“By the very nature of what we do, we are rarely privy to viewer feedback,” adds Spacejunk Creative Director Mike Beaumont. “Reading the incredibly positive online fan responses to these trailers has been amazing.”

Call For Entries: 5th Annual Jalloo Festival of Animation and Games

The Atlantic Coast’s gathering of professionals for Animation and Games.

Jalloo exists to help promote and develop the Animation and Games industry in the Atlantic provinces.

The Annual Jalloo Festival plus a variety of activities during the year allows professionals the opportunity to network, meet new professionals just entering the industry, meet with guest speakers from all over, and take part in professional development through discussions, panels, and workshops.

Animation Festival — 2:30pm Thu 21 June 2012

We will be screening submissions from animators all over, with a special focus on animators from the Atlantic region (but not exclusively). Animations may be 2D, 3D, stop motion, or any other form of animation.

Cash prizes:

  • $100 each for top 2D student short, top 3D student short.
  • $200 each for top 2D professional short, top 3D professional short
  • $200 for audience favourite

Submission deadline: 8am Monday, 11 June, 2012

If you are interested in submitting an animation, contact us for format and submission details.

CRASH+SUES Rocks Out for Imagination Movers

When the Imagination Movers were ready to release Rock-o-Matic, their latest DVD of music videos targeted to children and parents alike, they came to CRASH+SUES (C+S) for an innovate approach to creating music video vignettes that would bring their songs to life. The full-service post production company’s multi-disciplined team took a fresh, collaborative approach to the project, providing a full pallet of editorial, visual effects, stop motion animation, color correction and finishing — as well as some production services — for six of the seven videos featured on the DVD, in addition to cutting all of the interstitials and authoring the disk.

Imagination Movers is Disney’s Emmy Award-winning eclectic rock band that has been captivating kids of all ages with its fresh approach to pop music. The quartet of singers/performers have sold more than 250,000 CDs and DVDs, and star in their own hit music and comedy series on the Disney Junior network.  This most recent high-energy DVD features music videos linked to fun interstitials that range from live-action comedy bits to “Great Moments in Creativity,” activities and the Catnip and Catnap puppets — taking the general to the next level.

C+S executive producer Sven Shelgren, who helmed the project, recounts, Scott Durbin, one of the four Imagination Movers, called C+S owner Heidi Habben last summer with a question about doing a stop motion animation music video for one of their songs.  He was impressed by the work he had seen on our website, and loved the idea of stop motion as a way to reach and connect with kids in a visually exciting way.”

Initially C+S was tasked with creating a single music video as a promotional piece heralding the launch of The Movers new CD of original songs and their upcoming nationwide tour. However the job ultimately grew into a full 30-minute DVD, that made use of the company’s streamlined pipeline of visual effects, animation, editing, color correction and finishing services for 6 more music videos, along with a series of comedy skits created by and starring the Movers that were interlaced into the DVD, and all of the interstitial skits, graphic design, as well as authoring the DVD. The project also took advantage of CRASH+SUES’ production capabilities, tapping into the veteran executive producer Sven Shelgren’s considerable experience in the live-action production arena.

C+S provided postproduction services for the music videos featured on the DVD, including: “Little Red Wagon,” helmed by animation director Cari Merryman, who incorporated stop-motion animation into a cut-paper environment with traditional cel-style video to create a captivating visual story; “Everybody Sing,” edited by Matthew Kroese; “Remember When,” edited by Eric Riggs; the animated video “Blast Off,” created by animation director Kinsey Engelmann.

In the video entitled “Thank You,” the Imagination Movers pay tribute to their fans with a compilation of still photos and video footage of the band and their audience, beginning with images from the days when the group was performing at backyard parties, through more recent scenes of the now nationally known band’s US concert, playing to thousands of fans.

Editor Todd Isaacs was asked to cut the “Thank You” video in a style reminiscent of the multiple split-screen opening titles of the TV series “Parks and Recreation,” and then given free rein to shape the style and content.  Working on Apple’s Final Cut Pro 7, Isaacs began by selecting the best segments from the group’s previous DVDs.

“I watched the opening sequence of ‘Parks and Recreation’ a couple of times for inspiration, and then began to plan how to integrate that concept with the music and the footage.  I also listened to the song a number of times and visualized the edit based on the beats in the music,” Isaacs explains.  “I wove the edit together, starting at the beginning and taking it a step at a time until a rough cut was done.  The client viewed it, made some suggestions and after a few tweaks everyone was thrilled with the final results.”

The complexity of the movements of the multiple split screens required Isaacs, and C+S editor Matthew Kroese, to come up with an innovate approach to rendering out the edit without compromising the visual integrity of the cut. C+S colorist, SUE provided valuable guidance for Isaac’s color correction, which he performed within Final Cut, suggesting he maintain “a keen eye for the little details that add up to make a big difference.”  Isaacs also used Adobe Illustrator to add graphics that enhanced the retrospective footage.

Another video, “Dance Kung Fu,” is a live-action retelling of the fairytale, “Little Red Riding Hood,” in which the Imagination Movers undertake a mission to bring cookies to grandma while evading a troop of Cookie Ninjas.  The actors and singers in the group play themselves, as well as the Cookie Ninjas/Kung Fu dancers.

The fast-paced storyline uses a ‘see-say’ approach to the lyrics, so CRASH+SUES editor Carrie Shanahan was tasked with getting the best action shots of the two groups, while keeping pace with the lyrics so young children could follow along.

“The director did an initial cut, which sped up nearly every shot in retro “Benny Hill” fashion.  That technique had a certain charm, but I thought it was too hectic for a young audience,” says Shanahan, who edited the video on Final Cut, assisted by Matthew Kroese. “My challenge was to tell the story in real-time while keeping pace with the lyrics.  We happened to have a colleague’s seven-year old in the office during the edit, so I had her watch a rough cut to make sure she was getting the story.  She was – and thought it was ‘very funny’ so I felt I was going my job!”

Several of the scenes in the “Dance Kung Fu” video featured in-camera effects and required some editorial finessing to support the illusion that the Movers and Kung Fu dancers were interacting.  Shanahan also had to lip synch four characters as they ran and danced.  SUE did the color correction on the Nucoda System Ryan Wheeler performed the online and Alex Engelmann crafted the opening animation.

“REMEMBER WHEN” was the ‘fan’ video on the new DVD, which means fans sent in videos of themselves, in the hopes of making it into the song,’ notes CRASH+SUES’ Eric Riggs, the editor of the video. “Not only do these guys have a huge fan base, but they are creative too!  Their fans are a testament to the innovative and original music they put out.”

“I used to live in New Orleans, where the band is from, and I have a young son, so I was excited to work on the project,” adds Shanahan.  “The Imagination Movers were a pleasure to work with and sent us a ‘King Cake’ after the wrap — a local delicacy with a little plastic baby baked inside.   If you get the slice of cake with the baby, you have to throw the next party.  I got the baby so the next party’s on me!”

“One thing we pride ourselves on is writing and performing all of our songs (over 200),” says Imagination Group member, Scott Durban.” This DVD is about real guitars, real drums and real fun – coupled with incredible artistic contribution by CRASH+SUES’ team that brought our songs to life visually for our fans.”

The DVD production used the talents of every member of the CRASH+SUES’ collaborative team, and has helped raise the public profile of the Imagination Movers. While the band is in the midst of a four-month concert tour of North America and abroad, viewers can still catch original episodes and old favorites of the Imagination Movers television series airing daily on the brand new 24-hour Disney Junior Network.

Glen Keane Talks About His Post-Disney Plans

How’d I miss this? In late-April, Glen Keane spoke for the first time about his post-Disney plans. He talks about wanting to return to hand-drawn animation, but not Disney-style “cel” animation where his drawings would be cleaned up by others. Keane said of the traditional Disney look, “It’s a style that looks that way because of a technical limitation.” He continued, “I thought if I ever get a chance, I want to animate something where my original drawing stays on the screen.” Frédéric Back and William Kentridge, watch out!

LeSean Thomas Is The Seoul Brother

Seoul Sessions is a well-made mini-doc series by Creative Control about animation director LeSean Thomas (The Boondocks, The Legend of Korra, Black Dynamite: The Animated Series), who moved to Seoul, Korea to oversee the production of the shows he’s directing. Lots of American animators make the move to Korea at some point or another in their careers, but it’s unlikely that anyone has done it with as much swag as LeSean. The first episode is above; next installment will be released end of June.

A Summary Of Brad Bird’s Talk About Classic Disney Films

If you missed Brad Bird’s talk in San Francisco about “The Disney Treatment: Walt’s Versions of Classic Stories,” the Walt Disney Family Museum blog offers this lengthy summary of the talk. Brad sounds sharp as usual:

Brad pointed out that while Snow White had a very simple opening, it showed what a good storyteller Walt was. When the book of the Snow White fairy tale opens, it has a bit of a “silent movie” approach, with text that audiences have to read. When the Queen’s castle is revealed, Brad noted, “Instead of happy music it begins with mysterious music, which immediately puts you in a different state of mind. The coolest thing is he (Walt) instinctively begins with not only the Queen, but also the mirror. He shows right away she is a slave to her own image.”

Happy Birthday: The Bray Animation Project

It’s been exactly one year since we first told you about Tom Stathes’ ambitious Bray Animation Project website. Both it and its accompanying Cartoons On Film blog have proven invaluable to historians (such as I) and is making real progress in documenting and preserving this pioneering library of animated cartoons.

Stathes’ latest blog post features stills from some of the cartoons acquired since he began the project, as well as a comparison of two prints of Farmer Alfalfa’s Revenge (1916); an old version that has circulated for years and a longer, better version Tom recently acquired of the same film. Another Bray Studios discovery, Paul Terry’s very rare and politically-incorrect 1916 film, Farmer Al’s Watermelon Patch (time-coded frame grab above), is part of an ambitious forthcoming video project – a direct result of the existence of the website – that is going to be announced in the near future.

Many incredibly exciting rare film finds have been made since the site’s debut twelve months ago and Tom assures, “there will be more cool announcements coming up.” Congratulations Tom Stathes and keep going – you’re doing the Lord’s work!

Women In Animation asks “Who Says Yes?”

Women in Animation is bringing together a panel of development, production and consumer products executives to discuss the decision making process involved as to which series get picked up, go into production and how & why those decisions get made. The Green Light: Who Says Yes? And Why? will include Donna Ebbs (Sr. VP, Programming, The Hub), Katie Krentz (Manager, Comedy Animation, Cartoon Network), Eric Homan (VP, Development, Frederator Studios/Cartoon Hangover), Rick Blanco (VP, Cartoon Network Enterprises), David Corbett (Executive Director North America, RGH Entertainment), and moderator Craig Miller (writer/developer of animated series).

The panel will meet Thursday, June 21st in the second floor meeting room of The Animation Guild (1105 N. Hollywood Way in Burbank, just north of Magnolia). Doors open at 6:30 pm (panel starts at 7:00). Light refreshments will be served prior to the panel. Please RSVP to lachapterrsvps-at-aol.com. Seating is limited. Women in Animation Members admitted free; all others: $10 donation.