Aardman and isobel Bring Bullring Land to Life

LONDON, UK — London ad agency isobel have joined forces with Aardman Animations to create an audacious new campaign for Bullring — one of the UK’s premier shopping centers.

Building on the success of the “Life’s Even More Exciting at The Centre” positioning, the new campaign features a four-tier revolving mechanical model — a quirky, “playful” interpretation of Bullring and Birmingham. An array of products including lipsticks, illuminated ladles, cheese graters and perfume sit alongside a number of recognizable architectural landmarks — including the iconic Selfridges building which in ‘Bullring land’, is clad in buttons.

Rob Fletcher, Creative Partner at isobel comments: “We wanted to show a world full of delight and joy — to capture the many and varied facets of Bullring and to communicate its position as the heart of Birmingham.”

The campaign that will launch the new strapline “We Are So City” will feature 12 different executions each capturing a different shopping experience; season; event and/or festival. The campaign that will launch on Monday 27th August will include: TV, outdoor, press, advertorials, digital and in-store. For outdoor, isobel have worked closely with Aurasma, the world’s leading augmented reality platform, to bring the creative executions to virtual life.

Louise Hamer-Brown, Head of Marketing at Bullring, says: “We’re immensely proud to be part of Birmingham and believe that the We Are So City campaign perfectly captures the essence of our city with Bullring at the heart of it. With our 9th birthday just a matter of days away it’s important to keep the brand fresh and remind our customers just how special and unique Bullring is.”

Tamara Roukaerts, Head of Marketing at Aurasma comments: “We’re thrilled to be a part of the ‘We Are So City’ campaign. Bullring’s use of Aurasma shows that Birmingham really is at the forefront of innovation when it comes to embracing new technology.”

On choosing to work with Daniel Cohen and Aardman, Fletcher explains: “We knew we wanted to take a different approach with this campaign and Aardman were the obvious partners. Their exemplary track record speaks for itself and they understand the essence of ‘playfulness’ and ‘adventure’ which is key to the execution. The mechanical model has the magical, ‘characterful’ quality we hoped it would and they have an uncanny knack of rendering the ordinary extraordinary and smacking a big fat smile on your face in the process.”

The model, which consists of four contra rotating discs with miniature models and buildings interspersed with a host of desirable products, proved a perfect challenge for Aardman, who are celebrated for their model making prowess.  The craft-led model build of the We Are So City world allowed Aardman director Daniel Cohen to get in touch with his inner child “I always like making world’s and try to imagine where I would want to live in that place. I kind of just think like a child…that’s what I really feel lucky to be able to do — then there’s no right or wrong!”

GIVEAWAY: “A Mary Blair Treasury of Golden Books”

Random House, which is a sponsor of Cartoon Brew this month, has provided us with FIVE copies to give away of their new book A Mary Blair Treasury of Golden Books. The official description:

Fans of illustrator Mary Blair will cherish this never-before-published treasury of her Golden Books, which includes material that hasn’t been in print in decades. I Can Fly is here in its unabridged glory, as are Baby’s House, The Up and Down Book, and The Golden Book of Little Verses. Many of the finest pages from The New Golden Song Book are included, to round out this gorgeous collection. All of the original artwork has been digitally reproduced, and has never looked more breathtaking! Academy Award-winning animator John Canemaker–author of The Art and Flair of Mary Blair–wrote the foreword for this highly anticipated book honoring one of the most beloved illustrators of our time.

CONTEST IS NOW CLOSED! The winners are:

Matthew Gerber
Eben Zboch

Giveaway is open to anyone living in the United States. To enter into a random drawing, simply comment on this post. Giveaway ends at 12 pm Pacific Time on August 29. Do not comment multiple times or you will be disqualified. Make sure to leave a real contact in the e-mail field (it is hidden from view and will not be used for any purpose other than to contact if you win).

“Live2D” by Cybernoids

A new program by Japanese tech company, Cybernoids, could change the future of traditional animation…

…or could be another CG shortcut to producing crap. I have no idea what we are looking at here. A software breakthrough or a cheat… It is described as “live interactive 3D images of a 2D character”. According to the Cybernoids website:

“Live 2D is a technique that can animate full dimensional 2D characters from manga, anime, and illustrations without undergoing a 3D transfiguration. Characters unsuited for 3D movement can be animated much like hand-drawn animations while staying faithful to the original art. Live2D is the world’s first expressive technology that lets creators animate their art to their fullest desire.”

Okay, call me cautiously intrigued. I doubt this will replace hand drawn, but I can see some theme park applications. What do you think?

(Thanks, Nicholas Collins via DigInfo)

Animation Director LeSean Thomas: “You Have To Anticipate Failure If You Intend To Innovate”

LeSean Thomas, the supervising director and creative producer of Adult Swim’s Black Dynamite, spoke at TEDxSinchon about his experience moving to Seoul to work in South Korea’s animation industry. There’s nice nuggets of hard-won experience throughout.

Yu-Gi-OH-OH! A Veteran Anime Director Is Arrested For Massacre Threats

Japanese police in Osaka arrested 42-year-old animation director Masaki Kitamura today for allegedly threatening to drive a truck into random pedestrians and “then stabbing whoever I can with a knife before committing suicide.” Kitamura, who has directed or assistant directed animated series such as Yu-Gi-Oh, Wolf’s Rain and Mobile Suit Gundam 00, made the threat on the Osaka City government’s website. He had planned to carry out the attack on August 5th in a shopping area on Otaku Road, which houses gaming and anime stores. Police ID’d the IP address of the online posting to a wireless connection owned by Kitamura, although the director denies that he was responsible for the threat and says, “I’m completely innocent.”

If the police are to be believed, Kitamura enjoys making threats of all kinds. They are also investigating whether he made a bomb threat against a Tokyo-to-New York Japan Airlines flight on August 1st. That threat, which also turned out to be false, forced the plane to turn back to Tokyo’s Narita Airport.

(More on Anime News Network and Hollywood Reporter)

GKIDS To Distribute “Ernest and Celestine”


New York, New York — August 27, 2012 — GKIDS, a distributor of award-winning animation for both adult and family audiences, announced that it has entered into a distribution agreement with Studiocanal for the US rights to animated feature Ernest & Celestine (Ernest et Célestine). Based on the popular children’s book series by author and illustrator, Gabrielle Vincent, and animated in sumptuous hand-painted watercolor design, the film tells the story of an unlikely friendship between a bear, Ernest, and a young mouse named Celestine. The production was spearheaded by Didier Brunner and Les Armateurs (Kirikou & the Sorceress, Triplets of Belleville, The Secret of Kells) with participation of Studiocanal, Maybe Movies, La Parti Productions, Mélusine Productions and France 3 Cinema. Studiocanal manages all rights as well as the international sales.

The film had its World Premiere at the Cannes Film Festival, where it won special mention at Director’s Fortnight, and will make its North American premiere at the upcoming Toronto International Film Festival. French release is set for December 12th 2012.

The deal was negotiated by Vanessa Saal for Studiocanal and Eric Beckman for GKIDS.

GKIDS is handling US theatrical, home video, digital and TV rights and will dub the film into English for release in Fall 2013. The pickup follows a spate of recently announced acquisitions by GKIDS including From Up on Poppy Hill (Studio Ghibli, Japan), Zarafa (Pathe, France), The Rabbi’s Cat (TF1, France), A Letter to Momo (Production I.G, Japan), Le Tableau (Rezo, France), and Wrinkles (Six Sales, Spain). This comes on the heels of two Best Animated Feature Oscar nominations this year for A Cat in Paris and Chico & Rita.

GKIDS president Eric Beckman said, “We are overjoyed to be bringing Ernest & Celestine to US audiences. The film is a triumph of 2D animation and storytelling. A phenomenally beautiful hand painted watercolor design, immensely likable characters, a wonderful ‘friendship against all odds’ story that sweeps you up and does not waste a single minute of screen time. It is just overflowing with warmth and playful visual humor, there is so, so much to like about this movie.”

William A. Emmons: The Disney Animator Who Almost Was

The old adage goes that history is written by the victors. But that doesn’t mean there aren’t other stories worth telling. Recently, I’ve been in touch with the daughter of William A. Emmons. If you haven’t heard the name, that’s understandable. He worked in the animation industry for only three months.

Bill Emmons started his employment at the Disney Studio in the summer of 1940 as a trainee/traffic boy. It was the bottom rung of the studio hierarchy, but to get even that far required a certain level of skill and talent.

Someone at the studio must have spotted the promise of the nineteen-year-old Emmons, who was barely a year out of high school at the time. His daughter Charlene Craig remembers that her father had done “some art training at the Chouinard Art School…[which] may be how my father’s name came to WDP’s attention.”

Emmons worked hard during those few months, but the studio was competitive and he didn’t make the cut. The studio let him go in the fall of 1940, citing that he needed more art training and drawing experience.

Though his family knew that he had worked at Disney, Emmons rarely discussed the experience while he was still alive. Looking through her father’s files, his daughter recently discovered a stash of Disney keepsakes that he kept from his time at the studio.

Before I get to what Emmons saved, let’s hear more about what happened after he was let go from his Disney. His daughter writes:

I think it was pretty impressive that somehow word of his drawing skills made it to L.A. and he was invited by Disney fresh out of high school to try out and give his best especially since many of his co-trainees appeared to be college graduates such as his mention of a possible roommate recently graduated from UCLA with more under his belt. My father’s vision even with corrective lens was a challenge, so the intensity and kind of detailed work required was very fatiguing on his eyes.

He was very pragmatic about this disappointment figuring he may not have been suited for this kind of work anyway. In the end he returned to San Diego to work on specialty paint work for war planes at Consolidated Vultee for the war effort. He was able to get several draft deferments due to his artistic expertise until spring of 1944. Those late war Army Air/Force draftee trainees were slated to be part of a land invasion in Japan, but as you know the atomic bombs were dropped on Japan in August 1945 which stopped that awful fate with huge anticipated US casualties.  In retrospect not working at Disney may have saved his life given the chance he may have gotten drafted far sooner. 

Ultimately my Dad put his artistic and illustrating talents to work for 34 years at the San Diego School District as their education materials and audio visual media illustrator. Not nearly as exciting and glamourous as working at Disney but the pay and benefits afforded the raising of us four children and a more than generous retirement plan to support my elderly mother today.

Emmons saved many mementos from his time at Disney, including a letter from the studio expressing interest to hire him signed by Disney exec Vernon Caldwell, several of his Disney pay stubs, and an original menu from the studio Animation Coffee Shop. Among the most fascinating artifacts left behind in Emmons’ files is a letter that he wrote in September 1940 to his sister Doris, who was living in Manila, Philippines with her submarine officer husband, John.

The charming correspondence provides a unique glimpse into the life of a Disney trainee. Emmons had started working there just a few months after the company had moved into its brand-new sprawling Burbank campus. The size of the studio obviously made an impression on the young Emmons. In the letter to his sister, he included a hand-drawn map of the studio grounds.

We’d like to thank Bill’s daughter, Charlene, who has graciously allowed Cartoon Brew to share the four-page letter that Bill wrote to his sister. I’ve included the pages below, as well as a transcription below each page with a few minor spelling corrections for ease of reading.

[page 1 - The Mickey line art on the top left is a tea bag tag from the studio]

Dear Doris & John:

Joke – “My pants are on fire!”
“Where are you?”
“Home on the range”

Well how are things coming?

Congratulations on making your rate John. I just know you will get on farther, too.

We surely are glad to hear from you & I know you are very glad & happy to hear from us. It really is getting lonesome–now–for we haven’t seen each other for quite a long time. If you take pictures send some to Ma & Pa, Doris. You know for a while I begin to think that I haven’t a sister. But I do. And John, you know, I am looking forward to the time when we all go out together again.

Thanks for my letters you sent me. I appreciated it, & I know Ma & Pa thank God hat we all can receive them & read them.

Now Ma & Pa are more lonely because we both hope have left them Dor, so we will have to try to write more. I guess it must be pretty quiet do there. They say they might sell out, possibly. I don’t know what to say to help them but I think it will all work out after [a]while by letting it take its own course.

I’m glad you are back in Manila. I hope you stay there. Mother got a little worried over you 2 in China.

I am getting quite an experience here at this boarding house. This makes my 5[th] week & also with the studio.

I’ll bet you’re saying, “Just think Bill got in ‘Disney Studio’ Gosh Am I Proud!” Well–

[page 2]
It surprised me too. Really it all came out but it rather did take me off my feet. I hope I can make good. If you 2 were here we would have celebrated, eh?

I’m sending home my extra $ that I make.

Now about the studio.
1.) It is located below Burbank, which is N. of Hollywood.
2.) I live in walking distance of the studio (just across st.)
3.) There are about 950 employees. The largest group of incorporated artists in the U. S.
4. I have animation training in the morning. We are drawing things (& cleanups) & have fig. draw. classes.
5.) In the afternoon I carry coffee, ice cream, tea, etc. – all refreshments right in the studio to all the animators. Yes there is a coffee shop on the 1st floor there & we carry it for them. We are called traffic boys for we do all the messengering & delivering for the whole studio. In other words we all are office boys. We all wear a uniform of tan color & it says TRAFFIC on our shirts.
6.) Really, the whole workings of the studio are hardly describable–there is so much to see.
7.) The [Studio] covers 51 acres of ground, but not all complete (& covered ‘by’).
8.) Disney is trying to put out 9 feature reels a year. They are getting better too.
9.) Some of the future shows “Fantasia”–”Dumbo”–”Bambi”–”The Reluctant Dragon”–later “Peter Pan”–& “Alice in Wonderland” & possible “Wind in the Willows” way later.
10.) There is a special room for traffic on each floor & it takes care of everything on its floor.
11.) There are 3 dumbwaiters for the 3 story buildings, going up & down all day.

[page 3]
[Hand drawn map of Walt Disney Production's Burbank studio].
“And is it classy WOW!”
“No wonder I’m tired walking around this place!”
The names here applied can be figured out. They play ping-pong next to the cafe in spare moments. The parking lot is as big as the building territory here. There is a filling station right within the studio–near the main gate. The main 3 story building is the honey. 1st floor–Animation–effects–inbetweening action, etc.
2nd – Story dept., backgrounds, sweat boxes–where they argue over a picture in rough drawings before they go for real production. The 2nd story is where all the shows really originate. The 3rd is the tops–the directors work there & that’s where Walt is. There is also another projection theatre there too.

Well Doris & John, I won’t be able [to] draw any more pictures for this letter.

[page 4]
Another: “Do you like the kind of women who talk a lot?”
“Well, what other kind is there?”

I’ll write again soon again, early in Oct. How are the rains coming along?

I hope you don’t have to go to Singapore.

Do some painting Doris.

You’ll soon be home. Just don’t think about the time. I’ll be seeing you soon.

Keep dry.
Lots of luck John.
Wash your socks Doris.
Write Ma & Pa when you have time.

Call For Entries: 40th Annie Awards on September 3rd

New Best Student Production, Winsor McCay Member’s Choice Awards

BURBANK, Calif. (August 27, 2012) — The International Animated Film Society, ASIFA-Hollywood, announces its ‘Call for Entries’ for the 40th Annual Annie Awards. Submissions will be accepted beginning September 3. The Annie Award is recognized by the entertainment industry as the highest and most prestigious honor given in animation by the animation industry. The 40th Annual Annie Awards ceremony is set for Saturday, February 2, 2013, at UCLA’s Royce Hall in Los Angeles.

The 2012 Annie Awards will be presented in 30 categories including two new categories — Best Student Production and Winsor McCay Member’s Choice Award. The new Winsor McCay Member’s Choice award will be on a separate ballot located on the Annies website. While Annie voting is limited to ASIFA-Hollywood’s professional membership, all members, both professional and associate of ASIFA’s worldwide chapters, will be able to vote on this award.

Entries submitted for consideration will be from productions that were released in the United States between January 1, 2012 and December 31, 2012. Details on how to enter may be found at www.annieawards.org. The deadline to receive submissions and materials is Sunday, October 14, 2012 by 5 p.m. The deadline to join ASIFA-Hollywood or to renew membership in order to participate in the Annie Award voting is Sunday, November 4, 2012. Membership information is located at www.asifa-hollywood.org.

“The Cats of Mars Meet the Toy Car” by Jacob StÃ¥lhammar

Swedish illustrator/animator Jacob StÃ¥lhammar created this modern children’s fable, with stylized art, limited animation and a stock music score, evoking vintage 1950s TV cartoons (Col. Bleep anyone?) – and that’s why I dig it.

StÃ¥lhammar wrote the basic story The Cats on Mars in 2004. With no clear plan to make a film, he then started compiling public domain music found in old commercials at the Prelinger Archives and taught himself gouache on cardboard techniques using information gleaned from John K.’s blog. The film opened at Göteborg International Film Festival 2010 and has played theatrically in Sweden.

Genndy Tartakovsky Talks “Hotel Transylvania”

Genndy Tartakovsky on making Hotel Transylvania:

“I took all the aesthetics I like from 2-D and applied them here. I don’t want to do animation to mimic reality. I want to push reality. You want to have your own identity. You don’t want to have an expression that Pixar has. That was super important to me. In 2-D, the way you draw defines you, but in CG the computer takes away your identity. I wanted to make sure the movie had my point of view.”

There’s more surprisingly frank commentary from Genndy in this LA Times piece.

Spacejunk Creates “Fieldrunners2″ Game Trailer

To create the launch trailer for its highly anticipated sequel to the smash hit tower defense game Fieldrunners, Subatomic Studios turned to production/design studio Spacejunk — a company increasingly known for eye catching and audience grabbing work in the game promotion space.

For Fieldrunners2: The Official Trailer Spacejunk employed Subatomic’s rich artwork as the basis for its compelling animation and high-energy motion type within the piece. Spacejunk also designed dynamic transitions in and out of the highlighted Fieldrunners2 game footage to create a unified and engaging promotion.

The resulting trailer delivers an exciting message to fans about the new iOS title and its slate of enhanced features.

AniMazSpot Launches Educational Animation Forum

While the AniMazSpot 2012 Jury Panel is reviewing the 54 nominees to pick the winners, the rest of the team is keeping busy, working on the festival programs, and tours, plus, a new program has been added this year to the Sunday morning line-up, September 16.

It’s called the Educational Animation Forum, designed specifically for Middle and High School students interested in finding out more about how to prepare for a career in the animation industry.  It’s free to students in LA schools, and it’s organized into three 45 minute sections:

- Section One: Dave Brain will illustrate the basic drawing skills needed to draw concept and finished presentation drawings for animated films.

- Section Two: Jason Mendoza will present the current major computer graphic programs, what they do and how they’re used in animation.

- Section Three: A panel discussion with recent entrants into animation studios, how they got their jobs and what they’re experiencing now.

Meanwhile, across town in Glendale, the UPA events at the Alex Theatre are coming together for the Saturday the 15th events.  The “I ♥ UPA” panel has been assembled and will be announced soon, and posters are now up at the entrance and along the courtyard for passersby to see, and it’s now on the “upcoming events” on the Alex marquee facing Brand Boulevard.

And, festival goers are now able to choose from ten Animation Tours of; Studios, Schools and Archives:

- DreamWorks: The first tour will be through the DreamWorks “campus” in Glendale, with lunch on the lot afterwards.

- Warner Bros. Animation: A new tour in the AniMazSpot line-up, with a rich animation history, and plenty of new stuff too.

- Disney: Disney Legend, Floyd Norman, will conduct a small personal tour for the lucky tour goers who sign up early.

- The Simpsons: Mark Kirkland, directing Simpsons episodes for 22 years, has agreed to lead the AniMazSpot tour again.

- Pantomime Pictures: This historic studio tour, will again be lead by founder, Fred Crippen, who’ll sign cells for the visitor

- Disney Video Games: This is another new tour in AniMazSpot’s line up and will include a panel of top Disney Game artists.

- UCLA Archives: The 2nd largest film archive in the world, includes collections from Walter Lantz, George Pal, Disney, and more.

- Gnomon School of Visual Effects: Over 97% of Gnomon graduates are hired by top studios, and this tour will show visitors why.

- Woodbury: Dori Littel-Herrick, will take the group through Animation, Filmmaking, Game Art & Design, and the new stage complex.

- Mystery Tour: AniMazSpot decided to have some fun this year with a “surprise package” tour, guaranteed to please.

32TEN Studios Helps Animate Honey Maid Grahamfuls

San Rafael, CA – The Model Shop at 32TEN Studios, a San Rafael (Marin County) based company that provides production facilities and VFX services to entertainment, advertising, and corporate clientele, has been extremely busy recently, working on a variety of film, TV and commercial projects. One of these was the Model Shop team building the sets used within a stop-motion animated, national TV spot promoting Kraft Foods’ new Honey Maid Grahamfuls. The spot has just launched.

Working on behalf of client Droga5 New York, the 32TEN Studios Model Shop designed and built the characters and a “lunarscape” for this new spot — a whimsical stop-action film in which a robot, trying to extract snacks from the surface of the Moon with a pickaxe, is reprimanded by a park ranger. The ranger and robot tug at either end of a Honey Maid Grahamful until it splits open.

In keeping with the notion that Honey Maid Grahamfuls were created to help fuel kids to create and explore, the television spot itself was the brainchild of Wyatt Jebef, whom 32TEN Studios aided in bringing his idea to life.

A voice-over narrator says, “There are simpler ways of showing you that new Honey Maid Grahamfuls have peanut butter and chocolate filling, but we helped Wyatt make his crazy idea instead.” A wider shot then shows an 11-year-old boy hovering over the lunarscape model, as “Wyatt Jebef, Filmmaker,” appears on the screen. The VO continues: “New Honey Maid Grahamfuls. No matter what you’re into, we can help fuel you to get it made.”

Juried Winners Announced for Animation Achievement and Costuming for 64th Primetime Emmys

Still from Secret Mountain Fort Awesome episode Nightmare Sauce

Winners include programs from ABC, Cartoon Network, Disney Channel, ESPN and Fox.

The Television Academy has announced the juried winners for the 64th Primetime Emmy® Awards in the categories of Individual Achievement in Animation and Costumes for a Variety Program or Special. These awards will be handed out during the Creative Arts Emmy Awards on Saturday, September 15. The 2012 juried winners include:

Outstanding Individual Achievement in Animation

Disney Phineas and Ferb • Doof Dynasty • Disney Channel • Disney Television Animation
Jill Daniels, Background Paint

Disney Prep & Landing: Naughty vs. Nice • ABC • Walt Disney Animation Studios
Bill Schwab, Character Design

Secret Mountain Fort Awesome • Nightmare Sauce • Cartoon Network • Cartoon Network Studios
Robertryan Cory, Character Design

Secret Mountain Fort Awesome • Nightmare Sauce • Cartoon Network • Cartoon Network Studios
Chris Tsirgiotis, Background Design

Outstanding Costumes for a Variety Program or a Special

Opening Ceremony of the XVI Pan American Games Guadalajara 2011 • ESPN • FiveCurrents Production
Maria Rosario Mendoza, Supervising Costume Designer

The X Factor • Pepsi Challenge-Top 9 Elimination • FOX • FremantleMedia North America and SYCOtv
Marina Toybina, Costume Designer
Grainne O’Sullivan, Costume Supervisor

The Primetime Emmy rules state that in a juried award, all entrants are screened by a jury of professionals in the peer group, with the possibility of one, more than one or no entry being awarded an Emmy.

There are no nominations. The winner(s), if any, are announced prior to the awards presentation. Deliberations are an open discussion of the work of each entrant, with a thorough review of the merits of awarding the Emmy.

At the conclusion of the deliberation on each entry, the jury votes on the question, “Is this entry worthy of an Emmy award – yea or nay?” Only those in unanimous approval win.

The Creative Arts Emmy Awards will be held at the NOKIA Theatre L.A. LIVE in Los Angeles on Saturday, September 15, and taped for a two-hour, edited version which will air on Saturday, September 22, at 8:00 PM ET/PT on ReelzChannel.

For a complete list of nominations and more information, please visit www.emmys.com.

Ken Walker 1921-2012

Veteran Disney animator Ken Walker passed away last Saturday, August 18th, The Orange County Register posted his obituary on Wednesday. He was 91.

Walker began working at Disney right after graduating High School in 1940. After two years he joined the Navy, and after the war rejoined Disney as an assistant. In the mid-1940s, he was one of Ward Kimball’s assistants. Ward drew the gag drawing below of himself (left), inbetweener Mary Schuster and Walker. Walker later worked as an animator on Alice In Wonderland and numerous shorts (including Trick or Treat and Pluto’s Party, both 1952). He also animated for Film Graphics, Bill Melendez, DePatie Freleng, among others.

He was featured in this clip from the 1950s TV show, You Asked For It, which we posted on the Brew several years ago. In it, host Art Baker answers viewer mail about how animated cartoons are made, having Walker demonstrate by flipping scenes from the short Plutopia (1951). Walker’s appearance starts at the 3:20 mark.

D’oh! U. S. Postal Service Printed 682 Million Extra “Simpsons” Stamps

Apparently, people who watch The Simpsons don’t like to mail letters. According to the Washington Post, the U. S. Postal Service had anticipated it would sell 1 billion commemorative stamps featuring characters from The Simpsons. They sold less than a third of that and ending up destroying 682 million unsold stamps, which had cost them $1.2 million to print.

“The Fall of the House of Usher” by Raul Garcia

My old friend Raul Garcia (The Missing Lynx) has a new short film opening this week in LA to qualify for an Academy Award. Based on Edgar Allan Poe’s short story The Fall of the House of Usher, the 17-minute film is narrated by Christopher Lee. Garcia’s previous Poe short, The Tell-Tale Heart won over 25 international awards. Usher will screen tonight Friday 24th through Sunday 26th at 12:00pm & 12:20pm at Laemmle’s Playhouse 7 in Pasadena, California. A trailer is posted here. For more information on the film check the film’s Facebook page.

Monday Night: “Cartoon Dump!”

It’s August and hot as hell, and that means it’s time for another steaming pile of crappy cartoons from your inconsiderate friends at Cartoon Dump. There’s also sketches, stand up comedy, puppets and songs to ease the poorly animated pain. Join us: TV’s Frank Conniff as Moodsy, the Clinically Depressed Owl, Erica Doering as Compost Brite, J. Elvis Weinstein as Dumpster Diver Dan, Kristin Ariggo as Cue Card Goddess – plus special guest comedians Jackie Kashian, Brian Kiley and Hannah Gansen. I will be there as your humble host and the show’s co-producer.

Showtime is 8pm Monday night, August 27th, at the Steve Allen Theatre in Hollywood California (4773 Hollywood Blvd; two blocks west of Vermont), and tickets can be purchased at the door or online here. Join our FaceBook Event page for more information and updates.

(Art above by Thom Foolery)

Digital Domain Gets Real for Toyota

Venice, CA – Digital Domain created an oppressive computer generated (CG) world to showcase Toyota’s new GT86 in a new spot titled “The Real Deal” from Stink director Adam Berg and Saatchi & Saatchi London. Berg, working with Saatchi & Saatchi’s Andy Jex and Rob Potts, tapped Digital Domain to tell a story that mimics the car’s key value – breaking out of a monotonous synthetic existence with the power, control and excitement of real life. Expertly wielding Digital Domain’s deep digital production toolset, Berg worked with artists to create everything from digital characters to a stunning full virtual world. The spot aired August 17 in the UK.

The spot promotes the new Toyota GT86, a sports car that puts control in the hands of the driver rather than computerized systems. Led by VFX Supervisor Vernon Wilbert, Digital Domain supervised the shoot and helped realize the vision of the Saatchi creative team and director Berg. The ambitious project was completed by a team of 18 artists in eight weeks thanks to the efficiencies afforded by Digital Domain’s production-proven processes for building digital characters, cars and environments.

Wilbert said, “Because Digital Domain has such deep resources, we were able to handle everything required for this complex spot — from previs to virtual production, live-action integration, 2D and 3D animation and tracking, photo-real hair and cloth, and more — without any dedicated R&D. We were able to repurpose about 95% of the assets for this spot from our libraries, which really helped in terms of cost savings and efficiency. We leveraged the digital human pipeline that has been developed at DD over projects like Benjamin Button, TRON: Legacy and virtual Tupac; we were truly standing on the shoulders of giants.”

The Real Deal is Adam Berg’s second collaboration with Digital Domain and Wilbert. They teamed up in 2011 for the award-winning commercial Dust to Dust for the Gears of War video game franchise. Wilbert said, “Adam knows exactly how to leverage digital production and all that it offers. He spent hours on our virtual stage framing up shots within the digital sets.”

Blue-Zoo’s “Olive The Ostrich” Coming To U.S. Via Sprout

Toronto, ON — Distribution360 and Blue-Zoo animation studio announced that its favorite feathered friend Olive the Ostrich will make its American debut this Monday, August 27 at 4:50 p.m. ET on the 24-hour preschool television channel Sprout.

Full of imagination and a huge appetite for adventure, Olive is an ostrich who loves to solve problems and help people wherever she can. Olive will try anything once — which sometimes results in her getting into trouble. However, the great thing about this feathered friend is that she always finds an inventive way to get herself out of her debacle. All 52 x 5 minute CGI-animated episodes of Olive the Ostrich are sure to take kids on a new imaginary adventure. Blue-Zoo animators have even integrated real pictures drawn and submitted by children.

Olive the Ostrich has been taking preschoolers’ along on her charming adventures in over 200 countries worldwide,” said Kirsten Hurd, Senior Sales Executive, D360. “With an ever-growing popularity, we are delighted to light up the young lives of new Olive fans in over 50 million American homes on Sprout.”

“Blue-Zoo is thrilled that Olive the Ostrich’s new great adventure with be on Sprout. She has been everywhere from outer space to 20 leagues under the sea, but never before has she headed over the water to America,” said Oli Hyatt, Head of Development and Co-Founder of Blue-Zoo. “Sprout is the ideal home for Olive and we hope the series grows and grows, allowing us to make American episodes created by American children.”

VIEW Conference Unveils 2012 Highlights

Turin, Italy — The VIEW Conference is proud to announce that award winning director Genndy Tartakovsky (Dexter’s Laboratory, Samurai Jack, Star Wars: Clone Wars) will present and discuss his feature film debut, Sony Pictures Animation’s 3D monster comedy Hotel Transylvania, for the first time in Italy during the 2012 conference, October 16 to 19 in Turin, Italy.

Welcome to the Hotel Transylvania, Dracula’s lavish five-stake resort, where monsters and their families can live it up, free to be the monsters they are without humans to bother them. On one special weekend, Dracula has invited some of the world’s most famous monsters – Frankenstein and his wife, the Mummy, the Invisible Man, a family of werewolves, and more – to celebrate his daughter Mavis’ 118th birthday. For Drac, catering to all of these legendary monsters is no problem – but his world could come crashing down when a human stumbles on the hotel for the first time and takes a shine to Mavis.

Columbia Pictures presents a Sony Pictures Animation film, Hotel Transylvania.  The film features the voices of Adam Sandler, Andy Samberg,Selena Gomez, Kevin James, Fran Drescher, Steve Buscemi, Molly Shannon, David Spade, and CeeLo Green.  Directed by Genndy Tartakovsky.  Produced by Michelle Murdocca.  Screenplay by Peter Baynham and Robert Smigel.  Story by Todd Durham and Daniel Hageman & Kevin Hageman.  Executive producers are Adam Sandler, Robert Smigel and Allen Covert.  Music by Mark Mothersbaugh.  Music Supervision by Liza Richardson.  Imagery and Animation by Sony Pictures Imageworks Inc.

Director, producer, writer, storyboard artist Genndy Tartakovsky has received five Annie nominations for the television productions Samurai Jack and Dexter’s Laboratory, and in 2007 won the Annie Awards’ Winsor McCay Award.  He has also received an outstanding 12 Emmy nominations during a 10-year time span for the animated series Dexter’s Laboratory, The Powerpuff Girls, and Samurai Jack and Star Wars: Clone Wars. In 2004, he won Emmy awards for Samurai Jack and Star Wars: Clone Wars, and in 2005, received a third Emmy award for Clone Wars. He was also a storyboard artist for the live-action feature Iron Man 2, which received an Oscar nomination for best visual effects.

Genndy Tartakovsky was born and raised in Moscow, USSR, but moved to Italy then Chicago when he was seven years old after his father defected to the USA. He studied animation at CalArts in Los Angeles where he created a student film that became the basis for Dexter’s Laboratory.

This year, Sony Pictures Animation (SPA) celebrates its 10th anniversary, and Sony Pictures Imageworks (SPI), its 20th anniversary. SPA’s previous animated features include Open Season, Surf’s Up, Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs, and The Smurfs. In addition to animated features, SPI creates visual effects for live-action films including this year’s The Amazing Spider-Man and Men in Black 3.

The VIEW is Italy’s largest computer graphics conference. Now in its lucky 13th year, the conference hosts prominent people in animation, visual effects, game development, architecture, design, and other areas of computer graphics in beautiful Torino, Italy where they share experiences, ideas, and knowledge with each other and with the professionals and students who attend the presentations and workshops.

The 2012 VIEW Conference also features award-winning sound designer and animated film director Gary Rydstrom from Skywalker Sound, writer/director Eric Darnell from PDI/DreamWorks who directed the Madagascar trilogy, television director and winner of the Directors Guild of America award Dan Attias, creative director of all the Halos Josh Holmes, who brings to VIEW the premiere of Halo 4, award-winning writer and director Chris Perry, academy award-winning computer graphics pioneer Glenn Entis, academy award-winning author and Autodesk Fellow Tom Wujec, ILM’s Jason Smith, visual effects associate supervisor will explore the effects of The Avengers, and many others.

VIEW Conference 2012 is made possible with the support of:  Piedmont Region, Province of Turin, City of Turin, Compagnia di San Paolo,  Fondazione CRT, Chamber of Commerce of Turin and Autodesk.

Registration is now open for the VIEW conference, which takes place October 16 to 19, and for VIEWFest, our digital movie festival following the VIEW Conference from 19 to 21 Oct. For more information, please visit our websites http://www.viewconference.it/ http://www.viewfest.it/

Chaos Group Leverages NVIDIA for V-Ray RT

Lon Grohs, VP of Business Development at Chaos Group, demonstrates interactive, physically-based rendering with the world’s fastest, most efficient computing architecture–NVIDIA Maximus next-generation technology based on NVIDIA Kepler.

“Our CUDA based V-Ray plug-in for Maya is one of our latest developments to meet the needs of the most demanding VFX and film studios around the world,” says Grohs. “With a Kepler-based NVIDIA Maximus system, 3D artists will spend less time waiting and more time being creative.”

Chaos Group provides state of the art rendering solutions for visual effects, film, media and entertainment, and design industries. V-Ray RT is a powerful, interactive ray tracing render engine optimized for NVIDIA CUDA architecture that changes the way 3D artists and visualization specialists approach the lighting and shading setup.

  • Autodesk 3ds Max V-Ray RT 2.0 optimized for CUDA (exclusively for NVIDIA GPUs) was released earlier this year
  • Autodesk Maya V-Ray RT 2.0 optimized for CUDA is being demo’d now, but no release date has been announced–stay tuned to Chaos Group for an update
  • V-Ray RT 2.0 optimized for CUDA interactive speed in Maya makes it ideal for 3D Look Development and Pre-visualization for film and TV
  • V-Ray RT is also a feature-rich, professional quality renderer for film VFX, TV, design visualization and final presentation
  • V-Ray RT runs on the CPU, GPU (using OpenCL), and now on the GPU using NVIDA CUDA.

MPC Hires VFX Supervisor Evan Schoonmaker & Animator Grae Revell

MPC is making a splash this summer with two industry-leading hires, VFX supervisor Evan Schoonmaker and lead animator Grae Revell. Both talents will operate out of MPC’s New York studio.

“Evan and Grae perfectly complement our existing team while adding their own unique skillsets,” noted MPC NY MD Justin Lane. “Evan, whose strength is in visual effects, is an expert in `the big project’ and will seamlessly take to our tradition of crafting big, beautiful composites on high-end spot work. Grae is a great collaborator who can make literally anything come to life, from dinosaurs to warriors, and we look forward to challenging him to produce his best work yet.”

Schoonmaker operates across the visual effects production spectrum, from VFX shot design and execution to finishing. Just months into his time with the studio, MPC has already seen the colossal impact Schoonmaker’s talents can have on a project. He recently jumped right in on an ambitious campaign for Nike +, collaborating with the lead team in the LA studio who were spearheading the project, to bring director Adam Berg’s elaborate vision to life. A specialist in the commercial production world, Schoonmaker’s portfolio includes spots for major brands such as Verizon, DIRECTV and GEICO, with a new four spot campaign slated to wrap at the end of the summer. He joins MPC after spending time at Brand New School, Psyop, Mass Market and The Mill.

“MPC has done some pretty elite work over the years, and when I heard they were opening a New York office, I was very interested to meet them and see if there might be a match,” stated Schoonmaker. “I’m always excited by intense projects and giant composites, and I felt that I would certainly have those kind of opportunities here – the opportunities to do really wild things: I want to make whales swim in the sky; I want to fake a Mars landing. I’ve already hit the ground running by working with MPC’s LA and London studios to help turn a daily run into a epic computer game.”

Revell has more than a decade of experience animating characters and creatures for film, TV, documentaries, games and webisodes. He has done animation and VFX work for a long list of feature films, including Transformers: Dark of the Moon, Mr. Magorium’s Wonder Emporium, and Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time. Outside the feature film space, Revell has handled character animation for Coca-Cola, Listerine and LEGO.

On his new role at MPC, Revell noted, “MPC has the sort of talented, hard-working people that artists in any medium seek out. I work well at a place like MPC because I have a solid understanding of my place in the production pipeline. My job is to create and contribute to a visual aesthetic that fits within the boundaries of the concept and art direction. It sounds restrictive, but with the collaborative environment that MPC has set up, it actually helps to focus and distill the creativity.”