Fox signs five-year Dreamworks Animation distribution deal

Dreamworks Animation has announced today its new theatrical distribution arrangement with 20th Century-Fox. It’s a 5-year deal for Dreamworks animated features to be released from 2013 through 2017. Paramount will release the forthcoming Rise of The Guardians, the last film in its previous arrangement with the studio, and Paramount will continue to distribute all the previous Dreamworks films it handled to TV, DVD and ancillary markets.

Unlike the deal with Blue Sky Studios (which Fox owns completely), Dreamworks remains an independent producer who will pay Fox a fee for its distribution services. It’s an interesting move for both Dreamworks and 20th Century-Fox. For Fox, it gives them two major animation studios to compete against the Disney/Pixar powerhouse. For Dreamworks, it assures first class worldwide distribution for its hefty line-up of films in production. In theory, it sounds like a win-win for everyone – everyone but Paramount.

“Thunderpaw”, An Animated Comic By Jen Lee

Jen Lee is doing something very special with her newly launched on-line comic Thunderpaw: In the Ashes of Fire Mountain. The comic, which is updated weekly, makes extensive use of animated GIFs, which in itself is not a new idea. However, the way that Lee incorporates animation into her narrative is as original as I’ve seen. She’s just getting started and I can’t wait to see where she takes the idea.

THIS THURSDAY IN NYC: Scribble Junkies Festival of Drawn Animation

New York animation filmmakers Bill Plympton and Pat Smith will present a screening of recent hand-drawn animation this Thursday, August 23, in Manhattan. The line-up includes the American premiere of Hisko Hulsing‘s masterful 18-minute short Junkyard, which alone makes the screening worth attending. There will also be preview footage from Bill Plympton’s upcoming feature Cheatin’. The screening is FREE and open to the public. It begins at 7pm at the SVA Theatre (333 W. 23rd Street, between 8th and 9th Avenue).

A Site Devoted To Rubber Hose Animation

It seems the more CG becomes the prevalent form of contemporary animation, the greater the desire that young artists have to rediscover hand-drawn animation techniques and styles. Animation smears already have a Tumblr. It’s only fitting that there’s now a Tumblr devoted to one of the earliest major styles of animated movement–rubber hose animation.

(Thanks, Charles Kenny)

Two New Books You Gotta Get: “The Toy Story Films” and “Sketchtravel”

This is the story of Pixar, John Lasseter and three of the most important animated features of the last 20 years. It’s also one of Charles Solomon’s best books – and that’s saying something. The Toy Story Films: An Animated Journey is one of those oversized art books – loaded with great graphics that alone would be worth the purchase – in which the text is equally important (and possibly more significant) than the images accompanying it. Solomon begins with the story of Lasseter at Disney and his journey to into CG, Lucasfilm and ultimately to Tin Toy, the short that inspired the Toy Story films. Three chapters detail the making of the Toy Story films in-depth (and lavishly illustrated with production art and photographs I’ve never seen before – a photograph of John Lasseter holding his childhood Casper The Friendly Ghost doll on page 45 is worth the price of this book alone). A chapter called Buzz and Woody in Limbo goes into the years between Toy Story 2 and Toy Story 3, when the characters were part of TV’s Buzz Lightyear of Star Command and the ill-fated Circle 7 version of Toy Story 3. His final chapter on the making of Pixar’s triumphant Toy Story 3 brings the book full circle and cements Pixar’s place in animation history.

I didn’t see this one coming – it’s one of the best animation books of the year (and this is a pretty good year for animation books). It compliments the other books on Pixar’s history with ease, by focusing on three of their greatest films with new insights and fresh perspective. Hayao Miyazaki penned an affectionate Foreword, John Lasseter explains how personal these films are to him in the Afterword. This one’s the real deal, a great read – and I sincerely urge all of you who collect animation history to get it. That goes double for you Disney, Pixar and Toy Story buffs.


Charles Solomon also pens the Introduction for Sketchtravel, an exciting book project just published by Chronicle Books. French Illustrator Gerald Guerlais and Pixar art director Dice Tsutsumi passed a sketch book to over 70 artists around the world over the past 5 years. This book reproduces the artwork collected and tells the incredible story behind the project. It’s a gorgeous collection of material and great way to celebrate the artists represented. These include Hayao Miyazaki, Frederic Back, Bill Plympton, Enrico Casarosa, Bill Pressing, Peter DeSeve, Ronnie Del Carmen, Glen Keane, Nicolas Marlet, Mike Mignola, Lou Romano and many many others. It’s truly inspirational stuff. Highly Recommended!

“ParaNorman” talkback

From coast to coast, the reviews are coming in and its looking good! Betsy Sharkey in The Los Angeles Times says ParaNorman is “the most fun you’ll have with ghosts and zombies all year”. Manolha Dargis in The New York Times admires “the movie’s meticulously detailed pictorial beauty, which turns each scene into an occasion for discovery and sometimes delight.”

ParaNorman opens today and its a great little film. I highly recommend you check it out – and report to us right here with your opinion in the comments below. Only those who have actually seen the film will be allowed to post below.

Attention those in Southern California: Gallery Nucleus in Alhambra California is hosting a ParaNorman event this Sunday with character and armature designers Vera Brosgol, Jeremy Spake, Heidi Smith, and Alan Cook all flying down for the event. Story boards, models, and lots of designs will be on display. There will also be free posters to the those who attend (while supplies last) and the admission is free! Here is the link.

Nucleus Gallery To Showcase “Adventure Time” Art Show, Opening August 18th

C'mon Grab Your Friends | Perry Dixon Maple | 24" x 18" | $40

Opening This Saturday, August 18th, 7:00PM – 11:00PM

Now in it’s fourth season on Cartoon Network, the Emmy-nominated Adventure Time follows the adventures of Finn, a 14-year old human boy, and his best friend Jake, a dog with shape-changing powers exploring adventures in a post-apocalyptic Land of Ooo with a cast of chaotic characters.

Cartoon Network and Nucleus present a visual tribute to the series featuring over 30 international talents working in a variety of mediums. Each artist is contributing work that interprets the series, characters, or story line. The exhibit features artists from the animated series as well as the Kaboom comic book. Adventure ’till you drop!

Full roster online here

SELECT PREVIEW

OPENING NIGHT HIGHLIGHTS

• Kaboom Comic Signing (8:00-10:00)
• Official Print Release & Artist Signing
• Costume Contest (9:30)
• Hourly Giveaways
• Exhibiting Artists in Attendance
• Complimentary Refreshments

ADMISSION $5
Free admission to attendees who look as if they walked straight out of the Land of Ooo

Digital Domain Announces Start of Inaugural Classes

PORT ST. LUCIE, FL – Digital Domain Media Group, the Florida State University College of Motion Picture Arts and the City of West Palm Beach announce the arrival of the inaugural classes of students to their pioneering public/private collaboration — an accredited four-year BFA degree program in Animation and Digital Arts. Student orientation begins August 22 in West Palm Beach, with classes starting August 27 in Tallahassee and West Palm Beach.

The joint FSU/DDMG program gives students a “best of both worlds” experience, with the opportunity to earn an accredited BFA degree from the FSU College of Motion Picture Arts and a Diploma in specialized areas of digital media production from the Digital Domain Institute (DDI). Students learn from professional artists and trainers working at DDMG studios and also have the opportunity to apply their skills in a practical environment, with the potential to earn internships on the production of the major feature films underway at DDMG studios. The goal is to provide a well-rounded education while at the same time equipping students with the skills they need to get an entry-level professional position in digital media.

Next week, DDI and FSU will welcome both the freshman and sophomore classes to the program simultaneously — 20 freshman who will be attending FSU’s Tallahassee campus for general education courses, and 30 sophomores who have transferred to the program after completing their freshman studies at FSU and other institutions. The sophomores will attend classes at the FSU/DDI West Palm Beach urban campus, where they will immerse in the Animation and Digital Arts curriculum. The new students will join dozens of part-time students who have been enrolled in DDI’s Essential Skills program since March 2012.

“We’re off to a great start,” said Frank Patterson, Dean of FSU College of Motion Picture Arts. We have 50 full-time students who have an impressive 3.92 average high school GPA, representing our inaugural class in the animation and digital arts program. And we are excited that our bachelor students will be walking into already vibrant classrooms — they will be joining dozens of part-time students who are already taking courses at Digital Domain Institute’s (DDI) Essential Skills Program. We have created an excellent learning environment that promises to produce a new generation of film school graduates.”

Digital Domain Media Group Chairman and CEO John Textor said, “We are pleased to welcome our first class of degree students to Digital Domain Institute. We have created a unique partnership of our educational institution with an accredited university, and thus are able to offer our students a college degree. We also have formed relationships with other companies that need employees skilled in computer-generated graphics, so students have the ability to hone their skills on real projects not only in the film industry at Digital Domain but also in other applications. As a result, we offer our students not only a college degree but also the opportunity to build a resume that shows that they have acquired the skills necessary to get well-paying jobs.”

The Man Behind “Blinky Bill”: A Documentary on Yoram Gross

For those of you wondering who Yoram Gross was, your questions are about to be answered. The man behind the Australian series Blinky Bill and Dot and The Kangaroo is the subject of a brand new feature length documentary, Blinky and Me. According to press materials:

The untold story of Australian animator Yoram Gross comes to life in this new film that follows the artist and his family through his childhood in Nazi-occupied Poland, to Israel, where he began creating animated art films, all the way to Australia, where he found his fortune and happiness through animated features for children and the popular film series Blinky Bill, for which he received the highest honor in Australia. Gross continues to create even today, with his 85-year-old youthful enthusiasm.

After a few months on the festival circuit, the documentary opens to the public on Friday September 7th, at the Laemmle’s Playhouse 7 in Pasadena. See the trailer here.

Brenda Chapman Talks About “Brave” In “New York Times”

Brenda Chapman

Now that Brenda Chapman is no longer an employee of Pixar, she is speaking out for the first time about being removed as the director of Brave. This hardly comes as a surprise, but she wasn’t happy with what happened during the production, though she admits to being proud of the results. In a New York Times op-ed, she spoke about the experience:

It has been a heartbreakingly hard road for me over the last year and a half. When Pixar took me off of “Brave” — a story that came from my heart, inspired by my relationship with my daughter — it was devastating. Animation directors are not protected like live-action directors, who have the Directors Guild to go to battle for them. We are replaced on a regular basis — and that was a real issue for me. This was a story that I created, which came from a very personal place, as a woman and a mother. To have it taken away and given to someone else, and a man at that, was truly distressing on so many levels. But in the end, my vision came through in the film. It simply wouldn’t have worked without it (and didn’t at one point), and I knew this at my core. So I kept my head held high, stayed committed to my principles, and was supported by some strong women (and men!). In the end, it worked out, and I’m very proud of the movie, and that I ultimately stood up for myself, just like Merida, the protagonist in “Brave.”

Cartoon Art Museum to Host “The Art of ParaNorman” Exhibit

San Francisco, CA — The Cartoon Art Museum presents original works of art from the feature film ParaNorman, produced by LAIKA, the Portland-based animation studio owned by Nike co-founder and Chairman Philip H. Knight, and released nationwide by Focus Features on August 17, 2012.  The exhibition features concept art, puppets, costumes and more from the upcoming film, LAIKA’s second stop-motion animated film to be shot in 3D.  In stop-motion animation, everything seen on screen actually exists in the real world, as opposed to computer-generated animation.

The first part of this exhibition opens on Saturday, August 11, 2012, and features concept art, a behind the scenes look at the character design of ParaNorman, and an exclusive Animator’s Face Kit, as used by LAIKA’s animators.  A larger exhibition of puppets and concept art opens at the Cartoon Art Museum on Saturday, October 6, 2012.

The Mill NY Creates “City of Possibilities” for Norfolk Southern

Tapping into our childhood fascination with trains, Norfolk Southern: City of Possibilities, presents railroad shipping in a new light. As one of the nation’s largest commercial train companies, Norfolk Southern required something special for their new ad campaign. Turning to RP3 Agency and The Mill, the collaboration produced an imaginative way to showcase rail shipping as a powerful force for economic growth.

Produced, designed and directed entirely by The Mill NY, Directors, Angus Kneale and Ben Smith, did extensive research into the world of rail freight and spent time on the ground in Roanoke, Virginia a major hub for Norfolk Southern. In addition, Mill Artists created extensive storyboards, character design and Pre-Viz prior to the shoot.

Veteran Director of Photography, Bill Pope was brought in for his expertise in shooting miniatures on Team America, and his VFX experience on The Matrix trilogy and Men in Black 3 was an added bonus. The set was built at Steiner Studios in New York and was built 5 feet off the ground in a modular approach that allowed sections of the floor to be removed in order to get the camera into “toy perspective”. All of the featured characters were created digitally and custom designed by the Mill design team lead by Tim Haldeen and the 3D animation team, lead by Chris Bernier, spent months creating and breathing life into all of the toys seen in the final piece.

“Norfolk Southern is basically a live-action world in which we created mesmerizing CGI characters that live seamlessly within it, high end VFX meets naïve toy world with a healthy dose of Mill magic sprinkled in,” shares Director, Ben Smith.

“We wanted soften public sentiment about an industry easily dismissed as outmoded, and position it as innovative and future-minded. We did that by balancing state-of-the-art visual effects and a quirky low-fi charm that keeps the story warm and tangible, never cold or technical,” adds Producer, Boo Wong.

“As we were unable to use brand name toys, it challenged us to create and design our own toys. There are about 22 individually designed main characters with an additional 25 – 30 background characters,” explains Director, Angus Kneale.

“Our cast of characters is a contemporary ensemble of timeless and modern toys that includes robots, action figures, stuffed toys, dumper trucks, cranes, diggers, etc. Between the charm of the character designs, the fun, surprising ways they all collaborate to build a city, and the fact that they all act rather human, each toy, whether it’s high or low-tech, has an expression, a personality, and a purpose,” adds Kneale.

Directors, Kneale and Smith, worked closely with RP3 and Norfolk Southern on the overall storyline and sentiment of the commercial. The directors didn’t just want to bring to life a NS train but give it added depth and purpose by placing it front in center and as a driving force for the unfolding world of possibilities that the toys create.

City of Possibilities is a beautiful film that positions Norfolk Southern as a freight company of tomorrow.

Applied Art Productions Acquires Rights To “Delhi Safari”

Hollywood, CA — Applied Art Productions, a Hollywood-based independent film and distribution company, has obtained rights to a new 3D animation film, Delhi Safari.

The film’s environmental message has received support from the world’s largest animal rights group PETA. Special Projects and Communication for PETA, Bruce Wieland, stated in a letter that they are “pleased with the film’s strong animal rights storyline, and we applaud its intention to promote a sense of world community and responsibility for the impact we humans have on the billions of other animals with whom we share the planet.”

Wieland also stated that PETA hopes to make younger audiences aware of “the positive animal rights and pro-environmental messages of this film.”

Coupled with PETA’s enthusiasm about the film’s message are the actors who lend their voice to these unique animals. “It’s a journey for these animals, standing up for their own rights to exist in nature and on the planet,” said Jane Lynch regarding the film’s storyline and message.

Christopher Lloyd, another one of the star voices to appear in Delhi Safari, specified the importance of the film communicating to today’s youth about understanding how vital it is to defend our surroundings. Lloyd declared, “For really young children it’s hard becoming aware, and getting that message at a very early age is positive.”

The story of this film is set around a young cub, Yuvi, who embarks on an adventure to save his environment from being destroyed for development purposes. After a tragic event, Yuvi decides to travel to Delhi with his troop of friends in hopes to communicate to the humans not to destroy their habitat.

Alongside the familiar voices of Jane Lynch and Christopher Lloyd are Jason Alexander, Brad Garrett, Vanessa Williams, and Cary Elwes.

Delhi Safari was shown in the Annecy Film Festival 2012 and won best feature film at FICCI FRAMES 2012. “Applied Art Productions is not only delighted to release this film but also thrilled to be part of the endeavor to create awareness for animal rights,” said founder Mitesh Patel.

Delhi Safari will be released into theaters in October 2012.

IMPD Launches CounterPunch Studios

Santa Monica, CA – IMPD Productions announced the creation of CounterPunch Studios to enhance the company’s robust production pipeline. The expanded production arm will provide groundbreaking facial and body character animation, modeling, rigging, texturing, lighting, live action production, and full editorial services to the entertainment industry.

“There is a real inflection point happening in the use of computer animation and Photo-Real characters in movies and other media. We formed CounterPunch to help our customers more easily and affordably navigate through what can potentially be a very expensive and challenging process,” said IMPD Productions founder Andrew Egiziano. “Our rigging pipeline and proprietary system drive extremely competitive pricing that we believe will change the way producers and filmmakers approach creating Photo-Real characters .”

The highly skilled production team at CounterPunch Studios has worked together for four years and collectively has produced 2D and CG characters for over one hundred projects including full or partial deliverables of full body rigging and animation in all forms of media. The evolved proprietary processes and tool sets developed at CounterPunch allow the firm to offer a highly competitive pricing structure vs. traditional companies with much higher overhead and slower processes.

A number of film and gaming projects will release in 2012/2013 that will showcase the CounterPunch Studios work and demonstrate some of the highest fidelity asset creation in the industry today.  “Being on the cutting edge of manipulating reality is the most exciting aspect of our work at CounterPunch,”continued Egiziano.

Formerly part of Image Metrics Inc., a leading provider of facial animation technology, IMPD Productions, Inc. was formed by Egiziano in 2011 to assume physical production and expand services.  CounterPunch Studios continues as a preferred production partner of Image Metrics and their affiliate software and headcam provider Faceware Technologies, Inc.

Andrew Egiziano and the CounterPunch team are also the physical production team behind LeBron James’s popular web series “The LeBron’s” for Believe Entertainment Group and Seth MacFarlane’s “Cavalcade of Cartoon Comedy” for Media Rights Capital and Fuzzy Door Productions.  “We have a long-term partnership with Believe Entertainment Group and will provide production services for several animated and live action projects for them in the coming year,” said Egiziano.

The CounterPunch team has completed productions on rigging and animation projects for domestic and international clients including: Disney Studios, Believe Entertainment Group (Commercials for HP, Intel, Priceline, Burger King , Bing) Rockstar Games, Square Enix, Crytek, AGS Entertainment, Ocher Productions UK Limited, Game On Audio, A52, and many more.

Projects include feature rigs and/or animation for Beverly Hills Chihuahua 2 & 3, Abraham Lincoln Vampire Hunter (DVD extras), and Ek Tha Tiger, Maatraan; as well as AAA Game titles such as Max Payne 3, Sleeping Dogs, and Crysis 2 & 3.

“Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood” to Premiere on PBS Kids

Los Angeles, CA – A new generation of preschool “neighbors” will get to experience the Neighborhood of Make-Believe when Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood premieres this fall on PBS Kids. The first TV series inspired by the iconic, award-winning Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood, Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood from The Fred Rogers Company stars 4-year-old Daniel Tiger, son of the original program’s Daniel Striped Tiger, who invites young viewers into his world, giving them a kid’s-eye view of his life.  As they closely follow and share Daniel’s everyday adventures, preschoolers ages 2-4 and their families learn fun and practical strategies and skills necessary for growing and learning.  Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood premieres Monday, September 3, on PBS KIDS with a special one-hour block of two back-to-back episodes.  The series will air daily following its Labor Day premiere (check local listings).

“No one knew better than Fred Rogers how to connect with children,” said Bill Isler, President of The Fred Rogers Company.  “And, like Fred, Daniel Tiger will visit preschoolers every day.  Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood is an exciting new series with all the right elements to appeal to today’s children and families.  It’s well-poised to become a much-loved classic for years to come.”

Recent research proves what Fred Rogers knew all along: social and emotional competencies are the building blocks of doing well in school and in life.  To help boost these invaluable skills among preschoolers, each episode of Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood consists of two engaging stories that center on a common early learning theme such as dealing with disappointment.  One of the key ingredients that sets the new series apart is its groundbreaking use of catchy, musical strategies that reinforce each theme and that preschoolers and parents will both sing — and use! — together in their daily lives.  Every story includes an “imagination moment” in which Daniel plays out a preschool fantasy set to music.  Then, the day’s strategy is reprised in a full song at the end.

Daniel Tiger talks directly to viewers, warmly drawing them in and making them feel like one of his neighbors.  The series’ stories are based on extensive input from a wide range of early learning specialists, formative research with children and the benefit of more than 40 years of the work of Fred Rogers.  It all adds up to a powerful tool for parents: an entertaining and thoughtful guide for today’s families that integrates music, interactivity and a research-based curriculum.

Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood builds on the work of one of PBS’ most respected pioneers, Fred Rogers,” said Lesli Rotenberg, Senior Vice President, Children’s Media, PBS.  “Just as Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood revolutionized the use of television for early learning, Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood breaks new ground, as a multiplatform media property with a unique approach to harnessing the power of media to meet the needs of today’s children.  This new series will leverage media across platforms to help a new generation of kids build critical life skills like self-control, patience, persistence and resilience.”

Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood brings together some of today’s top creators of quality children’s media.  Angela C. Santomero, of leading production partner Out of the Blue Enterprises and the imaginative force behind Super WHY and Blue’s Clues, has provided the outstanding creative vision for the new series.  Santomero and Kevin Morrison of The Fred Rogers Company are executive producers of the show, which is animated by award-winning 9 Story Entertainment.  Game designer Schell Games will help extend the new show and its positive messages far beyond the TV screen with exciting online games.

Daniel starts his day by donning his red sweater, tying his sneakers and inviting his preschool pals at home into the bright and lively Neighborhood of Make-Believe.  Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood features the next generation of the original characters from Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood.  Daniel’s best friend is O the Owl, who lives with his Uncle X in the tree next door to Katerina Kittycat, daughter of Henrietta Pussycat.  Daniel also loves to visit Prince Wednesday, the youngest member of the royal family headed by King Friday, in his castle; and Miss Elaina, who lives with her parents, Lady Elaine Fairchilde and Music Man Stan, in the Museum-Go-Round. The familiar red trolley “ding dings” its way all around the Neighborhood.

The series will be accompanied by interactive content for young viewers, their parents and teachers.  A robust Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood website will launch on Monday, August 6, featuring online games that will offer preschoolers a chance to ride through the Neighborhood on Trolley, pick up Daniel and his friends to give them a ride, and further explore Daniel’s world and his daily routines.  Through game play, preschoolers will build on the skills covered in the series by actively engaging in pretend play activities with Daniel, exploring routines such as bedtime and bath time, expressing feelings and creativity through music and art and modeling positive relationships and appreciation for others.  Online resources for parents, caregivers and teachers also will be available to complement each episode.

Light of Day Animates Trailer for James Patterson’s New Book, “Nevermore”

New York, NY — Dense white clouds travel quickly across the screen before revealing a mass of white feathers highlighted by two single bands of red ones. Two powerful wings pump twice as the camera rises up, revealing the face of the red-haired young woman who controls them. The pretty young avian is Maximum Ride, the heroine of prolific author James Patterson’s immensely popular fantasy novel series of the same name. The scene is one created by visual effects company Light of Day, via James Patterson Entertainment, to promote Nevermore, the eighth and final novel in the series for young adult readers. The result is a scintillating 15-second blend of live action, CG animation, and motion graphics that will have readers reading and buyers talking.

“Since this is the final chapter, our clients were looking for something that was both realistic and climactic,” explains Charles Nordeen, Creative Director of Development at Light of Day and Director of the new 15-second spot. “Past promotions for the books have tended to be more illustrative and stylized, but for the final installment, a more photorealistic, cinematic approach was in order.”

Light of Day handled the entire production in-house, beginning with the casting of an appropriately aged woman to play main character Max: “The live action shoot was vital to setting the right tone, and that meant getting just the right face,” says Nordeen. “At this point in the story, the characters are all growing into young-adulthood, so it was important to cast someone who looked more like a young woman than a child. We also selected wardrobe for a more contemporary and cool look, and based on input we solicited from online fans who shared their own idea of how she looks and dresses.”

Following casting, Nordeen and his team set up a rig in a Brooklyn, New York studio from which the actress could hang and be shot against a greenscreen: “It was so important to get the right angles on this close-up,” says Nordeen. “We needed to get one good, clean shot of her with the right actions, gravity, and some nice even lighting. We used a forklift so we could shoot downwards to her face, and an effects fan to enhance the illusion of flight. Once we had that shot, we had a lot of flexibility in what we could do in post-production and effects.”

Light of Day built a background plate of a city at dusk and created everything except the young woman herself, building her elaborate CG wings from scratch, together with CG volumetric clouds capable of passing through and around reacting to her in subtle ways. The team also performed all finishing, color grading, rig removal, tracking, and other effects work.

“Light of Day is proud to have handled this production from start to finish,” says Nordeen. “The single live-action shot was a very important one to get correctly because we had to match the CG element to a live action to create a seamless transition. You don’t want to skip a beat or you’ll take the viewer right out of the false reality you’ve created.”

The Paralympics Get Animated

100s of disabled and non-disabled young people from 12 countries and 23 schools are connecting live online to produce an animation celebrating the Paralympics in time for London 2012!

Inspired by some of the world’s Paralympians and a team of animators and musicians (all who, like the Paralympians, have a disability or are deaf), this project is a feat of inspiration, determination, courage and equality, the Paralympic values.

In the animation an animated Paralympic torch leaves Stoke Mandeville Stadium, the birthplace of the Paralympics where Dr. Guttmann started his pioneering work in 1945. It is waved off by young people from the UK and travels around the globe through the cultures of young people sharing elements of their cultures, land and townscapes, and featuring their thoughts and reflections on the Paralympic values as well as their own ambitions. The torch then returns to the UK in time for London 2012 to be greeted by young people from the UK, before it’s journey to Brazil for 2016.

The project is being lead by UK based Animator David Bunting, and USA based Oscar nominated Animator Gary Schwartz. Creative inspiration is also coming from Singapore based Paralympian and highly successful artist Greg Burns.  It is produced and Managed by Vicky Hope-Walker.

“The children in our small school had not heard of the Paralympics before?” Orchid Garden School, Katmandu

“It is great to be able to link in with a cultural project for London 2012?” Greg Burns, Paralympian and Artist

“This is great for our children, opening up the world to them?” Annabel Ashwell, Mandeville School

“This project is an enormous challenge, and technology doesn’t always work as well as we want, but it also the most exciting thing I have ever worked on. Bringing together young people from very varied lives and cultures, to be so inspired by the artists and Paralympian involved, and each other is at moments mind blowing for us?” Vicky Hope-Walker Project Manager

“Clam Bake”: Award Winning Indie Filmmaker Creates Whimsical Animation App

Portland, OR–Acclaimed indie filmmaker Joanna Priestley has released Clam Bake, an interactive iOS app for iPad, iPhone and iPod that features her iconic style of animation. Priestley has directed, produced and animated 24 award winning films and has been called the “Queen of Independent Animation” by Bill Plympton.

Priestley, based in Portland, Oregon, spent six months creating sixty sequences of animation for Clam Bake, an entertainment app. About the process, she says “I loved coming into the studio each day and creating a totally new animated sequence. It was exhilarating to be free of the narrative structure of filmmaking. This was my first experience with interactive animation and I let my imagination go berserk, but I was always conscious of building Clam Bake into a cohesive experience through design, style, color and shape.”

Clam Bake was inspired by a wonderful painting workshop that I took from (Portland painter) Flora Bowley. It was about letting your preconceptions, goals and expectations fall away and simply immersing yourself in the joyful experience of exploring with paint. It was also focused on using as much rich color as possible. The vivid colors in Clam Bake are completely different from the limited palettes I use in my films.” The app begins with clicking on a clam shell, which opens to reveal an animated treasure with a little soundtrack. Once the participant has clicked or pulled on all the shapes and interior elements in the composition, a lovely animated sequence plays out for the participant.

Work onClam Bake began when Priestley hired Portland State University student Jed Bursiak as a summer intern. His programming skills made it possible for Priestley to explore interactive animation and together they created a mobile device application. Priestley found the complex process of getting her Flash app into the Apple App Store to be daunting: “It was a big challenge to decipher their über-geeky vocabulary and navigate their dense technocracy. I was extremely grateful that Jed could figure it out.”

Composer Seth Norman, of Portland’s Dubstep band Triage, created a rich soundtrack for Clam Bake, which escalates as multiple elements come to life. Norman has created the soundtracks for three of Priestley’s films. About scoring for an app, Norman says: “I think of Clam Bake as the virtual equivalent of being like a child rummaging through another kid’s toy box. My focus as a sound designer was on creating small, attention-grabbing snippets of audio that give the user a feeling of surprise and discovery with each click as they dig further into the app. Creating the sound for Joanna Priestley’s unique interactive world was a great opportunity to explore a wide range of techniques, sources, and styles.”

California’s Nucleus Gallery To Host Event with “Paranorman” Artists on Sunday, August 19th

There is more than one way to offer a captivating 3D film experience. For LAIKA, the animation studio behind the acclaimed Coraline, 3D involves puppets, armatures, full scale sets and hours upon hours of handcrafted stop motion animation. The studio’s long-awaited second film, Paranorman, is now set to hit theatres August 17th.

Nucleus welcomes eight artists from the project offering a rare glimpse behind the process of character design, storyboards, visual development, and armature design. Actual armatures and puppets used in production will be on display for fans to view firsthand. Bring your questions for the Q&A session and meet the artists one-on-one as they sign copies of the new Art of Paranorman book.

You will not see a presentation like this elsewhere.

Featured Artists:

Chris Turnham (visual development)
Deanna Marsigliese (character design)
Heidi Smith (character design)
Jeremy Spake (armature designer)
Kevin Dart (visual development)
Pete Oswald (character design/visual development)
Vera Brosgol (storyboards)

Event Schedule:

Noon – 1:00pm (panel presentation)
1:00pm – 1:30pm (Q&A)
1:30pm – 3:00pm (book signing)

FREE Admission

Warner Bros. and WWE Studios Form Tag Team To Solve A Spine-Tingling Mystery!

ANIMATED MADE FOR VIDEO FILM STARRING WWE SUPERSTARS AND DIVAS TO BEGIN PRODUCTION

SET FOR A 2014 HOME ENTERTAINMENT RELEASE

STAMFORD, Conn., August 15, 2012 — Warner Bros. and WWE Studios announced they will co-produce a Scooby-Doo animated feature that will find Scooby and the gang solving a mystery at WrestleMania®. The announcement was made today by Jeff Brown, Executive Vice President and General Manager, TV, Family & Animation, Warner Home Video and Michael Luisi, President, WWE Studios.

WWE Superstars and Divas including Triple H®, John Cena®, Kane, The Miz®, Brodus Clay™, Santino Marella®, Sin Cara™ and AJ™ will appear in animated form and lend their voices to the project. WWE Chairman and CEO Vince McMahon® will also lend his voice and appear in animated form.

“We are excited to partner with Warner Bros. on this wonderful animated film,” said WWE Studios President Michael Luisi. “Kids and adults are going to enjoy seeing their favorite WWE Superstars in animated form join forces with an icon like Scooby-Doo to solve a mystery at the biggest pop-culture event of the year — WrestleMania.”

“Warner Bros. is thrilled to get into the ring with WWE Studios to bring fans an unprecedented animated adventure,” said Jeff Brown, Executive Vice President and General Manager, TV, Warner Home Video. “We’re excited to leverage the WWE’s family-friendly brand and passionate fan base and integrate some of the most popular WWE Superstars and Divas within the Scooby-Doo gang.”

When Shaggy and Scooby win tickets to WrestleMania, the entire gang travels in the Mystery Machine to WWE City to attend the epic event. However, when a mysterious ghostly bear appears and threatens to ruin the show, Scooby, Shaggy, Velma, Daphne and Fred work with WWE Superstars to solve the case.

Warner Bros. Home Entertainment will handle worldwide distribution on Blu-ray, DVD, VOD and digital download. The film will be produced by Warner Bros. Animation. WWE will utilize its extensive global reach through its television, digital media and print assets to market the release of the film.

Bradley Buchanan, VP of Business and Legal Affairs negotiated on behalf of WWE Studios.“Warner Bros. is thrilled to get into the ring with WWE Studios to bring fans an unprecedented animated adventure,” said Jeff Brown, Executive Vice President and General Manager, TV, Warner Home Video. “We’re excited to leverage the WWE’s family-friendly brand and passionate fan base and integrate some of the most popular WWE Superstars and Divas within the Scooby-Doo gang.”

“Gum” by Noam Sussman

Move over, Bazooka Joe! Welcome to the latest–and possibly most outrageous–selection in this year’s Cartoon Brew Student Animation Festival: Gum by Noam Sussman of Canada’s Sheridan College. A mere sixty seconds, Gum begins with a bizarre premise and keeps building. Filmmaker Sussman topps (pun intended) every scene with an even funnier one using zany drawings, assured staging, and a “what-did-I-just-see” attitude, making this a whole bunch of politically incorrect fun.

Click HERE to read an interview with the filmmaker Noam Sussman.




The Cartoon Brew Student Animation Festival is made possible by the generosity of our presenting sponsor JibJab.

CBTV Student Festival: “Gum” by Noam Sussman

Move over, Bazooka Joe! Welcome to the latest–and possibly most outrageous–selection in this year’s Cartoon Brew Student Animation Festival: Gum by Noam Sussman of Canada’s Sheridan College. A mere sixty seconds, Gum begins with a bizarre premise and keeps building. Filmmaker Sussman topps (pun intended) every scene with an even funnier one using zany drawings, assured staging, and a “what-did-I-just-see” attitude, making this a whole bunch of politically incorrect fun.

Continue reading for comments from the filmmaker Noam Sussman:

THE IDEA
It all started when I was a fetus. Already in the womb, I was writing out ideas for my 4th year film. And so when it was finally time to make the film, I had a bunch of ideas which I boiled down into one. One part of the story was about a woman that eats chairs. Another involved an AA meeting, and a giant gum baby attacking a city. Originally the baby wasn’t even made of gum, it was just a giant human baby….

TOOLBOX
I animated everything frame by frame in Flash and painted my backgrounds in Photoshop. For the stop-mo scene, I sculpted the baby out of 3 chewed up pieces of bubble gum, shot it with a DSLR, and had to carefully animate his limbs using a toothpick. It was tricky because it was slowly getting drier and stickier. I used Premiere and AfterEffects in post production. The music I recorded with a couple of friends on a laptop, we improvised, we did a couple of takes and we kept laughing after each one. Yes, we were sober.

BIGGEST CHALLENGE
Fighting the urge to run outside and enjoy the weather, since we had a bizarre, warm winter. But really the biggest challenge was to try and make the film trippy and disorienting without making it too confusing and incoherent. I learnt that you should always look at your film as a whole, instead of focusing on just one part at a time to make sure everything reads.

INSPIRATIONS
I love 90s cartoons, especially wacky stuff like Ren & Stimpy, Cow and Chicken and Rocko’s Modern Life. Those were pretty big influences on me. The Simpsons too. As well as artists like Robert Crumb and Keith Haring. Also music is always a huge inspiration. Syd Barrett, Jandek, Alexander “Skip” Spence, and other experimental/psychedelic musicians were a major influence on the atmosphere I had in mind, as well as the score for Psycho by Bernard Herrmann. Also it always helps to bounce ideas around and brainstorm with other people, the ideas tend to intensify and get weirder.

FILMMAKER WEBSITE:
Noam Sussman’s BLOG and PORTFOLIO




The Cartoon Brew Student Animation Festival is made possible by the generosity of our presenting sponsor JibJab.

Mickey Mouse Stop Signs Protest Copyright Extension

A street artist named Denmark has added a set of attachments to several local stop signs in Los Angeles and Burbank in protest of Disney’s ongoing lobbying efforts to change copyright law and extend copyrights on its short films of the 1920s and ’30s. Denmark told street art blog Wooster Collective:

“I recently did an installation in and around Los Angeles protesting Copyright Extension, which is Disney’s very effective lobbying to keep Mickey Mouse, and works created thereafter, out of the public domain.”

Thanks to congressional lobbying by Disney, traditional copyright terms have gone from 28 years to at least 95 years – or even longer (the law since 1998). Some have argued that films falling into public domain has actually saved them from extinction. Though Disney does a good job of making its library available to the public (with the obvious exception of Song of The South) other studios, unaware of any value these assets may yield, vault and abuse their older animated shorts still under copyright protection. This debate has been raging for years–it’s nice to see it take such a creative turn.

(via Art Info)

“Doc McStuffins” on Disc August 21

Burbank, CA — Disney Junior’s newest hit animated TV series geared to kids ages 2-7, Doc McStuffins, will be available for the first time ever on Disney DVD and Digital Copy, August 21, 2012.  Sure to become a fan favorite with parents and kids alike, Doc McStuffins: Friendship Is The Best Medicine includes a DVD featuring five full length episodes, each consisting of two 11-minute stories, a Digital Copy of the episodes – perfect for kids to watch anytime, anywhere — and also comes packaged with Doc’s special Big Book of Boo-Boos with fun activities plus character and boo-boo bandage stickers.

The characters and themes featured in Doc McStuffins are all made to be relatable to young viewers and are designed to ease kids’ trepidations about everything from a doctor’s visit to removing a splinter.  Many of the stories directly address the kinds of issues that parents face with their young children when it comes to good health, hygiene and trips to the doctor’s office. It’s the perfect series to have on-hand and add to your home entertainment collection.

The lovable characters in the series are voiced by Kiara Muhammad as Doc; Loretta Devine as Hallie; Lara Jill Miller as Lambie; Robbie Rist as Stuffy; Jess Harnell as Chilly; Jaden Betts as Donny McStuffins; Kim Brooks as Mom McStuffins; and Gary Anthony Williams as Dad McStuffins.  The series’ theme song is performed by the star of Disney Channel’s hit series A.N.T. Farm and Hollywood Records recording artist, China Anne McClain. Created and executive-produced by Humanitas Prize and Emmy Award-winning Chris Nee (writer on Little Bill and producer of Deadliest Catch: Crab Fishing in Alaska) and directed by Emmy Award-winning Norton Virgien (Rugrats), Doc McStuffins is a production of Academy Award nominated Brown Bag Films (Best Animated Short Film Granny O’Grimm’s Sleeping Beauty in 2010)  in association with Disney Channel. The Hollywood Health & Society division of the USC Annenberg Norman Lear Center serves as the series’ health and medical consultants, advising on basic health issues that are relevant to young kids and families.

EPISODES FEATURED ON THE DVD:

The DVD contains five full length episodes, each consisting of two 11-minute stories, that highlight some of Doc’s favorite toys.

  • Engine Nine, Feelin’ Fine! - Doc and her toys learn a lesson about dehydration after discovering that Donny’s toy fire engine has run out of water.
  • The Right Stuff - Stuffy rips his tail and tries to hide it from Doc and the other toys and learns that anyone can get hurt — even brave dragons.
  • Caught Blue-Handed — When a mysterious rash of blue spots breaks out among some of the toys in the clinic, Doc traces the “Mystery Pox” back to Donny’s toy monster, Glo-Bo who had been finger-painting earlier in the day and forgot to wash his hands.  Glo-Bo is voiced by Jim Belushi.
  • To Squeak, Or Not To Squeak — Doc helps a plastic toy duck get his voice back after his squeaker pops out.
  • Ben/Anna Split! - When Doc’s huggy monkey doll Ben loses the velcro patch that attaches him to his sister Anna, Doc glues it back on and tells him that he will have to stay in the clinic overnight while it dries.
  • That’s Just Claw-Ful - Doc prescribes physical therapy for her crab bath toy Hermie after she reattaches one of his claws that has fallen off.
  • The Rip Heard Round The World - While dancing with Lambie, Doc accidentally rips a hole in her fur.
  • Walkie-Talkie Time - Doc diagnoses a toy walkie-talkie with “Staticosis” and helps find his missing antenna so he can communicate clearly again.
  • Dark Knight - During a sleepover with all of her toys, Doc discovers that Sir Kirby is afraid of the dark and prescribes a night light to cure him of the “Dark Willies.
  • Hallie Gets An Earful - When Hallie is having trouble hearing, Doc gives her a hearing test and realizes that she has extra cotton stuck in her ears.