“Frankenweenie” talkback

I’ll be seeing Tim Burton’s Frankenweenie on Saturday afternoon with my ASIFA-Hollywood peeps at a screening on the Disney lot. Looking forward to it – especially as Betsy Sharkey in The Los Angeles Times says “the artistry reaches absolute perfection… and Burton has never done it better” (though she notes, “it’s the story that poses some problems”). A.O. Scott in The New York Times simply calls it “a sweet and creepy homage to classic monster movies”.

It’s out today and you can see it yourself. How does it compare to The Corpse Bride or Nightmare Before Christmas? Where does it stack on the list next to ParaNorman and Hotel Transylvania? Give your opinions here (and, as usual, this discussion is only open to those who have actually seen the film).

Rebecca Sugar Is Cartoon Network’s First Solo Woman Show Creator

I don’t know how I missed this press release, but last month, Cartoon Network announced that they will produce two new series: Peter Browngardt’s Uncle Grandpa, based on a popular pilot of the same name that Browngardt made a few years ago, and Rebecca Sugar’s Steven Universe.

The latter announcement is particularly significant for an ignominious reason: this marks the first time in Cartoon Network’s twenty-year history that they have greenlit a children’s entertainment series created by a solo woman creator. It’s a little too early to start celebrating the fact that Cartoon Network is producing a show by a woman, but it does represent a baby step in the right direction.

Sugar is also among the new generation of creators who established a reputation online before attracting the attention of the animation industry. Contrast this to the path of animation creators past (Seth MacFarlane, Genndy Tartakovsky, John Kricfalusi) when artists remained largely anonymous to the public before being made famous by their shows. It’s a turning point in animation culture—artists no longer need the reach of a network to establish a fanbase, and further, networks now mostly react to trending artists instead of launch new careers.

It’s been particularly gratifying to watch Rebecca Sugar’s meteoric rise to fame because Cartoon Brew was the first major media outlet to promote her work — all the way back in 2007 when she was a twenty-year-old animation student in New York who enjoyed making whimsically dirty drawings of famous cartoon characters. At that time, I wrote, “Rebecca Sugar is ridiculously talented…she’s certainly an artist with a bright future ahead of her.” We’ve been following her development ever since, and selected her thesis film Singles for our annual Student Animation Festival in 2009.

After graduating from the School of Visual Arts in Manhattan, Sugar moved to Los Angeles where she began working as a writer, storyboard artist and songwriter on the series Adventure Time. Sugar’s new show Steven Universe is a “coming-of-age story told from the perspective of Steven, the youngest member of a team of magical Guardians of the Universe.” Who knows what it all means, but with Rebecca at the helm, I’ll be keeping my eyes peeled for this one.

DreamWorks Classics Debuts At 2012 MIPCOM

Two CG Animated Series Inspired By How to Train Your Dragon and Upcoming Turbo Are Highlights of Comprehensive Television Portfolio

GLENDALE, Calif., Oct. 5, 2012 – DreamWorks Animation SKG, Inc. (Nasdaq: DWA) today announced that DreamWorks Classics will make its debut at MIPCOM 2012, bringing to worldwide telecasters a comprehensive television portfolio highlighted by DreamWorks Dragons: Riders of Berk, which is inspired by DreamWorks Animation’s beloved How to Train Your Dragon film franchise, and an all-new television series based on the studio’s upcoming animated feature film Turbo.

“DreamWorks Classics is now the home of an expansive collection of high-quality properties that will resonate with a worldwide audience, and we are proud to make our MIPCOM debut this year, spearheaded by DreamWorks Dragons: Riders of Berk, one of our premiere television series based on our blockbuster film, together with Turbo, one of our most highly-anticipated future franchises,” said Kelley Avery, Worldwide Head of Franchise Strategy and Distribution at DreamWorks Animation.

“Over the last four years DreamWorks Animation has proven to be a consistently successful producer of CG animated television content with its three series already in existence,” said Classic Media Founder and Chief Executive Officer, Eric Ellenbogen. “I believe that our longstanding success in the family market combined with DreamWorks Animation’s unparalleled original content will present many exciting growth opportunities for DreamWorks Classics in the future.”

DreamWorks Dragons: Riders of Berk is inspired by the studio’s popular How to Train Your Dragon franchise, of which the second and third feature film installments are due in theaters on June 20, 2014 and June 18, 2016, respectively. The television series debuted in the U.S. on Cartoon Network in September of 2012 airing in 99 million U.S. homes and 178 countries around the world. Since its launch the series has consistently held the #1 timeslot across all television with boys 2-11 and 6-11, according to Nielson Media Research, and features much of the voice cast from the Academy Award-nominated 2010 film, including Jay Baruchel, America Ferrera, Christopher Mintz-Plasse and T. J. Miller.

Also highlighting the DreamWorks Classics portfolio at MIPCOM 2012 is the all-new CG animated television series Turbo, based on the upcoming DreamWorks Animation 3D feature film of the same name. The movie tells the story of a garden snail with an impossible dream: to win the Indy 500. When a freak accident gives him extraordinary speed, Turbo sets out to try to make this dream come true. The film stars Ryan Reynolds, Paul Giamatti, Michael Pena, Luis Guzman, Bill Hader, Richard Jenkins, Ken Jeong, Michelle Rodriguez, Maya Rudolph, Ben Schwartz, Kurtwood Smith, Snoop Lion and Samuel L. Jackson. It will be released in theaters on July 19, 2013.

Two Emmy Award-winning CG animated television series inspired by other DreamWorks Animation film franchises currently air on Nickelodeon. Kung Fu Panda: Legends of Awesomeness debuted in November of 2011 and Penguins of Madagascar in March 2009. Both highly-rated programs air in approximately 140 countries, reaching over 450 million households worldwide. Nickelodeon will also debut a future Monsters vs. Aliens television series.

Beginning with The Croods on March 22, 2013, all feature films from DreamWorks Animation will be distributed by Twentieth Century Fox. Rise of the Guardians, which will be released in theaters on November 21, 2012, will be distributed by Paramount Pictures.

This makes DreamWorks Animation the first major film studio to debut at MIPCOM in more than a decade. In addition to the original CG animated television productions from DreamWorks Animation, DreamWorks Classics will represent Classic Media’s well-known movies, series and specials. The DreamWorks Classics sales team, headed by London-based Chloe Van Den Berg, will attend MIPCOM on October 8-11, 2012 in Cannes, France along with Avery and Peter Gal, Head of Television Development at DreamWorks Animation.

W!LDBRAIN Entertainment To Extend “Battle Bears” Brand

W!LDBRAIN inks TV Deal with SkyVu to turn Battle Bears into a major television series and consumer products line.

Battle Bears To Be Showcased at World’s Largest Television Market This Weekend at MIPJR/ MIPCOM

Los Angeles, CA (October 4, 2012)  - W!LDBRAIN Entertainment, a DHX Media, Ltd. company and one of the world’s foremost producers of animation and family entertainment, has signed a development deal with SkyVu Entertainment, the mobile gaming company co-founded by Ben Vu, creator of the hit mobile game franchise Battle Bears.  Battle Bears has over 150,000 daily active users.  The mobile games have surpassed 18 million downloads and are averaging over 100,000 new downloads every week.  Rankings have hit as high as #2 on the App Store and ranks as the #1 action game and #1 adventure game in the US and over 40 other countries.  Battle Bears was the first mobile game to sell its original soundtracks on iTunes and the first to sell its branded merchandise through the games.

Battle Bears is a tongue-and-cheek action comedy featuring Oliver Bear and his friends who are charged with saving the world from the Huggables, a possessed horde of enemy pink bears out to hug you to death, unless you fend them off with an arsenal of unusual artillery that includes anything from the Unicorn Horn Crossbow to the BearZooka.

Battle Bears has enjoyed worldwide success as a mobile game,” stated Michael Polis, President, W!LDBRAIN Entertainment and EVP, Branded Entertainment & Consumer Produts, DHX Media.  “Between its built in fan base and the expandable universe that lends itself to consumer products and character-driven extensions such as series, Battle Bears has the potential to become the next big boys action comedy brand,” he continued.

SkyVu Co-Founder & CEO Ben Vu originally wrote Battle Bears as a screenplay when he was an animation student at CalArts, the Walt Disney-founded film school whose alums include Oscar winning and nominated filmmakers Tim Burton, John Lasseter and Brad Bird.  While working on the Oscar nominated film Coraline, Vu saw the debut of the iPhone as an opportunity for Battle Bears.

Vu adds, “Although we’ve built the brand in mobile games, millions of fans know the names of our heroes and continually ask what’s going to happen next.  We look forward to partnering with W!LDBRAIN Entertainment to introduce Battle Bears into the marketplace through multiple channels.”

Teen Action-Hero “Max Steel” Makes Global Series Debut

LONDON 5 OCTOBER, 2012: Mattel, Inc. and FremantleMedia Enterprises (FME), announced today a premier slate of international television sales  including a major US broadcasting deal with Disney XD for Max Steel®. The action-adventure CGI animated series based on the Mattel franchise of the same name, Max Steel, will begin broadcast globally in spring 2013.

With buyers in more than 100 territories securing broadcast rights, Max Steel has procured and set the stage for a global viewing audience. FME, which has international distribution rights outside of the US, has confirmed sales of the series to: Cartoon Network and Boing in Italy and Spain; Lagardere in France; Canal Panda in Portugal; as well as two major multi-territory deals with Turner Broadcasting System Asia Pacific and Disney XD.

Turner’s kids’ channels will bring Max Steell to audiences in Australia, New Zealand, Southeast Asia, India, Taiwan and the Philippines. Disney XD will broadcast the series in Central and Eastern Europe, South and Sub-Saharan Africa, the Middle East and Turkey. These sales are in addition to a previously announced deal with Cartoon Network Latin America which has a footprint of more than 50 territories and where Max Steel is the No. 1 boy’s brand.

Max Steel is an immersive franchise experience that brings a relatable and positive superhero to kids, supported by a captivating storyline and compelling multi-platform content,” said Mike Riley, VP Franchise Development and Content Distribution, Mattel Inc. “Launching on Disney XD in the US gives us the opportunity to introduce Max Steel to millions of families in partnership with a prominent kid’s network.”

Sander Schwartz, President, Kids & Family Entertainment FME, added, “In addition to having our ideal broadcast partner in the U.S. with Disney XD coming on board, we’re delighted that Max Steel has found a home in so many territories around the world. We’re confident this stunning CGI series will appeal to kids from one side of the planet to another.”

A high-octane, action-packed superhero series, Max Steelis about the epic adventures of earth bound teenager Maxwell McGrath and his out-of-this-world friend Steel. At the age of 16 Maxwell learns that he has the ability to generate “turbo energy”, which he struggles to contain until meeting Steel. An alien “Ultralink”, Steel gives Max the ability to harness its power while merging with his own to create one unified super force, Max Steel®. Not all is easy in superhero land though — especially when dealing with two strong personalities. The mismatched duo must overcome their differences in style and temperament (often leading to comedic trials and tribulations) in order to create a heroic turbo team. Once combined together, Max and Steel serve to protect Earth from a never-ending array mayhem, monsters and extraterrestrial invasions as the galaxies greatest new superhero, Max Steel®.

The action adventure series will premiere on Disney XD with initially twenty-six half hour episodes.

Max Steel is co-produced by Mattel and FME, with Nerd Corps Entertainment serving as the animation production studio. FME manages worldwide distribution of the series, as well as global home entertainment rights, with Mattel holding US television distribution rights.

Ford Targets Prius, Non-Hybrid Owners by Redrawing Popular Classic Animated Character in New C-MAX Ads

DEARBORN, Mich., Oct. 4, 2012 –

  • New TV, digital and print campaign – featuring Italian La Linea character popularized in the U.S. in the 1970s and 80s – highlights how Ford C-MAX Hybrid and C-MAX Energi plug-in hybrid top Toyota Prius v and Prius plug-in in MPGe and more
  • New ads also showcase C-MAX Hybrid’s “real-vehicle” performance, technology and value to attract non-hybrid intenders who have not been willing to sacrifice attributes they are used to receiving from traditional gas-powered vehicles
  • C-MAX Hybrid delivers EPA-certified 47 mpg city, 47 mpg highway ratings – 7 mpg better than Prius v on the highway – for a 47 mpg combined rating
  • All-new 2013 C-MAX Hybrid is expected to be America’s most affordable hybrid utility vehicle with a base price of $25,995, including destination and delivery, which is $1,300 lower than Prius v

Ford is drawing on the popularity of a classic animated television character to establish C-MAX Hybrid and C-MAX Energi plug-in hybrid as better, more fuel-efficient hybrid alternatives to Toyota Prius v through a new advertising campaign that breaks tonight.

Reviving a classic 1970s character from a popular Italian animated children’s series called La Linea – also a hit in the U.S. in the 1980s – the new ads use the series’ familiar style to showcase C-MAX Hybrid’s “real-vehicle” performance, technology and value to new buyers.

“The La LineaC-MAX Hybrid ads are simple, unique spots that will introduce our first all-hybrid line in North America to Americans by hand-drawing the vehicle’s silhouette and showing how it beats Prius v, especially in fuel economy,” says Matt VanDyke, director, U.S. Marketing Communications, Ford Motor Company (NYSE: F). “We also are targeting customers who have been sitting on the hybrid fence by showing how the new C-MAX Hybrid offers the value, performance and technology they previously thought had to be sacrificed for efficiency.”

The national campaign for C-MAX launches across the U.S. today and features TV and digital components. Integrated efforts featuring social media, print ads and events are to follow in targeted regions.

The C-MAX is Ford’s first line dedicated completely to hybrids, and the C-MAX Hybrid will be featured first with C-MAX Energi plug-in hybrid model joining the campaign later this year.

The animated “La Linea” series was a pop culture phenomenon between 1970 and 1986, seen in various ways in more than 50 countries around the world; in the U.S. it appeared on “Great Space Coaster,” a popular children’s TV show.

“La Linea” – Italian for “the line” – follows the adventures of a nameless and speechless character traversing a never-ending line and often frustrated by obstacles encountered. Trapped in a two-dimensional world, the character has little option but to appeal to an unseen, off-screen animator armed with a grease pencil. The animator obliges by drawing a solution, though often with a twist.

In the Ford campaign, the series stays true to its roots with the character constantly being frustrated by the limitations of the Toyota Prius v, such as the lower amount of horsepower featured in one of the spots.

As a solution, the animator draws a C-MAX Hybrid for the character. Once behind the wheel of a Ford C-MAX Hybrid – with its 188 total system horsepower instead of the 134 offered by Prius – the animated character happily finds his place traveling at a normal speed down the highway. In the end, the “real-vehicle” aspect of C-MAX Hybrid is once again showcased as it breaks out of the fantasy world of animation and real footage of the vehicle is shown.

“That’s why this campaign works so well – because C-MAX is capable of saving people from the limitations and frustrations of current hybrids,” said VanDyke. “But the ads are done with just the right tonality of competitiveness versus a strong competitor. It clearly positions our product in a fun way.”

Plenty of opportunities exist for Ford to position itself in a positive way against Prius.

For example, as the first Ford hybrid to achieve equal city and highway fuel economy figures, C-MAX Hybrid delivers EPA-certified 47 mpg city, 47 mpg highway ratings – 7 mpg better than Prius v on the highway – for a 47 mpg combined rating.

Delivering fuel efficiency is important, according to a recent poll commissioned by Ford. In fact, 25 percent of survey respondents said that if they had $1,000 of discretionary income to spend on energy savings, they would put it toward a vehicle with hybrid technology.

C-MAX Hybrid goes further by offering 15 class-exclusive features, such as SmartGauge® with EcoGuide and the available hands-free liftgate – featured in one of the TV spots when the character has its hands full and is unable to reach for keys.

Classic animation for a new lineup  

La Linea was created by Italian artist Osvaldo Cavandoli in 1969. It quickly grew in popularity and became a worldwide hit that was shown in more than 50 countries. Between 1971 and 1986, there were 90 La Linea episodes created with each episode less than three minutes long.

Cavandoli died in 2007 but the company that has controlled licensing of the show for 30 years, Quipos, retains and maintains control of La Linea.

Quipos worked with Dearborn, Mich.-based Team Detroit, the Ford advertising agency behind the campaign, to ensure the C-MAX spots had the vintage look and authenticity of Cavandoli’s original product, said Brad Hensen, creative director at Team Detroit.

In fact, the licensing agreement mandates the animation must be done by hand, or as Hensen says, through “old-school cell animation.” That’s opposite to the way most animation is done today – with computers – though that isn’t to say computers aren’t used in the animation process.

Shilo, the New York-based Emmy Award-winning company handling production of the TV spots for the C-MAX campaign, made computer versions of the ads first. The computer versions were then sent to the animators so they could create everything by hand.

Shilo has produced a wide range of commercials, from the MetLife Insurance spots featuring Snoopy and the Peanuts to ads for EA, Under Armour, AT&T and Lincoln.

“The fact that each cell has to be hand-drawn lends a certain warmth to the animation,” said Hensen. “All of this other computer animation we are being inundated with – including ads by other automakers – is just too fluid, too slick, too perfect. Life isn’t that way. Being more real is another way this campaign truly reflects the vehicle.”

In fact, the C-MAX Hybrid and C-MAX Energi plug-in hybrid both deliver the “real-car” feel of traditional gas-powered vehicles. In addition to the higher horsepower delivered, standard technologies such as Torque Vectoring Control, Curve Control and electric power-assisted steering (EPAS) offer impressive driving dynamics and maneuverability with road-holding capability and sportiness.

Further, Ford’s hybrid powersplit architecture allows the electric motor and gas engine to work together – or separately – to maximize efficiency. In C-MAX Hybrid, the feature enables electric-mode driving of up to 62 mph, a 30 percent increase over previous-generation hybrids.

The technology of the C-MAX Hybrid and C-MAX Energi plug-in hybrid also lends to that “real-car” feel by not forcing owners to go without for the sake of not draining power sources. That’s important to note because Ford has a portfolio of roughly 500 patents classified as hybrid technology that has steadily been growing and shows in today’s hybrid vehicles.

The SmartGauge with EcoGuide feature, for example, has a dual-screen LCD design that allows the customer to tailor their vehicle information to their needs with four levels of customizable information.

The all-new 2013 C-MAX Hybrid is expected to be America’s most affordable hybrid utility vehicle with a base price of $25,995, including destination and delivery, which is $1,300 lower than Prius v. C-MAX Hybrid is for sale at Ford dealerships nationwide.

C-MAX Energi – at $29,995 after a federal tax credit (including destination and delivery) – is available for order at select Ford Certified EV Dealers.

More information about Ford’s electrified vehicle lineup – including press releases, fact sheets, photos and videos – can be found here.

KaBoom! Studios Releases “Ice Age: Past, Presents And Future” Comic Book

October 2nd, 2012 – Los Angeles, CA - This October, KaBOOM! is proud to announce the release of Ice Age: Past, Presents And Future, the latest in a series standalone specials consisting of all new stories inspired by the hit movies.

Ice Age: Past, Presents And Future, is anIce Ageholiday tale! Recollecting what a huge “help” he was last year, Sid decides to pay Santa and the North Pole a visit and once again offer his assistance for Christmas preparations! Before anyone can stop him, he’s opened a box filled with Santa’s magic…and he finds himself visiting Sids in the past, present and future!

Ice Age: Past, Presents And Future will be available in finer comic stores on October 17th, 2012. This 8” x 8” title, which is accessible to all ages, will run 24 pages in full color and will carry a $3.99 price point.

Written by Caleb Monroe (Steed And Mrs. Peel) and with art by Shelli Paroline and Braden Lamb (Adventure Time), this new issue is sure to bring laughter and joy to all ages just in time for the holidays.

Technicolor Teams with Rockstar Games

Paris, France –Technicolor announced that it has established a new high-end game art and animation team dedicated to working with Rockstar Games.

The Rockstar Games dedicated unit leverages a segment of Technicolor’s highly experienced team of game artists, animators and state-of-the-art technology infrastructure at its Bangalore, India-based digital production studio.  Technicolor India has already worked on several major Rockstar titles including Red Dead Redemption, L.A.Noire and Max Payne 3.

“This partnership reinforces Technicolor’s strong commitment and strategy to growing its art and animation business for the video game industry and we are proud to work with cutting edge industry leaders like Rockstar Games,” said Tim Sarnoff, President of Technicolor Digital Productions.

“Technicolor were a fantastic resource for us during the development of Max Payne 3,” said Jeronimo Barrera, VP of Development at Rockstar Games.  “We’re looking forward to building the partnership on future projects.”

Technicolor Digital Productions produces high-quality CG animation for television, direct-to-video, commercials, video games and location-based entertainment through its industry leading production facility in Bangalore, India. Major clients include DreamWorks Animation, Electronic Arts, Mattel, Nickelodeon, Rockstar Games, Sony Computer Entertainment America, and Square Enix.

October 5th in LA: David Weidman Art Show

Tomorrow evening, David Weidman will be having a show of his vintage serigraphs at the Animation Guild’s Gallery 839 (1105 N. Hollywood Way, Burbank, CA).

The ninety-one-year old Weidman has been the subject of much attention and press since his work was rediscovered a decade ago. His animation career included gigs at UPA, John Hubley’s Storyboard, TV Spots, and Hanna-Barbera. David will be present at the show from 6-8pm where he’ll be signing copies of his book The Whimsical Work of David Weidman—And Also Some Serious Ones.

Leading Kids Educational Game Company Launches Online & Mobile Learning Adventures Featuring DreamWorks Animation Franchises

Changes Name to JumpStart

TORRANCE, Calif., Oct. 4, 2012 – JumpStart® today announced that it is developing online and mobile learning adventures for kids featuring well known animation franchises for the first time.  Today marks the launch of new online and mobile games inspired by DreamWorks Animation SKG, Inc.‘s marquee film franchise Madagascar.  Formerly known as Knowledge Adventure®, the company also announced it is changing its name to JumpStart.

Madagascar Online™, a virtual world within the JumpStart universe which launches today at www.JumpStart.com, catapults kids into Madagascar-themed fun-filled learning quests and adventures. Also launching today on all iOS and Android platforms is an immersive themed learning game, Madagascar Preschool Surf ‘n Slide™.

JumpStart is also working on developing a new gaming franchise inspired by How to Train Your Dragon.

“As JumpStart, we remain committed to delivering on the promise of offering adventure-based learning and next-generation immersive gameplay in a safe, trusted environment, while inspiring imaginative thinking,” said David Lord, Company President and CEO. “We believe the combination of DreamWorks Animation’s premium brands with our learning capabilities will be a win for children and parents across the globe. We look forward to working together to introduce new interactive worlds inspired by their animated film franchises into the JumpStart gaming universe and leveraging our technology to change the landscape of children’s learning and gaming.”

“JumpStart is at the forefront of developing innovative educational games and progressive technology for kids and we are pleased to join forces with them to launch new learning adventures that incorporate characters from DreamWorks Animation franchises,” said Jim Mainard, Head of Digital Strategy for DreamWorks Animation.

Lord added, “We feel that JumpStart reflects the excitement, fun and sense of adventure that is so integral to our brand experience, which is why we decided to change our company name.”

In addition to announcing a strategic alliance with DreamWorks Animation, JumpStart also announced that it has closed a new round of financing. Azure Capital Partners, TeleSoft Partners and other investors join as co-investors and value added partners.

Since the launch in 2009 of its JumpStart 3D Virtual World at www.JumpStart.com, the company has continually expanded the range of its online worlds and its game portfolio. JumpStart now offers both casual and immersive children’s-focused gaming for mobile and stationary platforms on smartphone, tablet, console and traditional web-based browser interfaces.

In addition to the free content on www.JumpStart.com, families can upgrade to an affordable JumpStart membership to access thousands of additional learning games and adventures. Membership includes expanded access to the attractions inside Madagascar Online, as well as the complete JumpStart world, membership to www.mathblaster.com and 4 other downloadable learning games.

Mad Monster Parties in LA

A couple of cool Halloween happenings in Los Angeles next weekend I thought you should know about. Both related to Rankin-Bass’ classic stop motion animated feature Mad Monster Party. First up, a gallery show and book signing at Van Eaton Gallery in Sherman Oaks. 70 artists interpret the classic film, including animation people like Alan Bodner, Bill Morrison, Eric Pigors, Harry Sabin, Kali Fontecchio, Pascal Campion, Pete Oswald, Shane Prigmore, Spike Brandt and many many more. For a full list of participating artists, please visit the Van Eaton website. Opening night party on Saturday night October 13th, 6pm-10pm, includes a book signing by Rick Goldschmidt, who wrote the cool behind the scenes book on the Rankin-Bass feature. Costumes are not required, but are always strongly encouraged!

The next day, Sunday Oct. 14th at 3:30pm is the Haunted Hullaballoo. This program, taking place downtown at the historic Bob Baker Marionette Theater (1345 W. 1st St.), is hosted by Screen Novelties (one of LA’s premiere stop-motion studios) in conjunction with The Cinefamily is a goofy, ghoulish mix of creepy cartoons, vintage scary safety films and madcap musical shorts — along with Halloween puppet performances from the legendary Baker troupe, a kooky monster-making workshop, and an actual screening of the Mad Monster Party? itself. It promises to be a blast… more info over here.

“BBBlaster” by Loup Druelle

These hypnotizing rhythmic visuals were created for BBBlaster, a VJing/illustration/animation initiative by twenty-year-old artist Loup Druelle. The aim of the project is to promote animation and electro music in northern France. Druelle’s imagery would appear to be influenced, intentionally or not, by tribal art aesthetics, which adds a pleasing undercurrent of visual mystery to the work.

Her work was previously featured in the Brew’s Animated Fragments series. The video below gives an idea of how the BBBLaster animation is applied in performance.

“Randy Cunningham” titles by Kevin Dart and Stéphane Coëdel

I haven’t checked out Disney XD’s new series Randy Cunningham, 9th Grade Ninja, but I’ve just caught up with the incredible opening title sequence directed by Kevin Dart and Stéphane Coëdel. It was created in Flash and After FX, produced out of Passion Pictures in London. The series, created by Jed Elinoff and Scott Thomas, began airing last month and is about… oh, just watch the opening to find out:

FEATURE TRAILER: “Rocks In My Pockets” by Signe Baumane

Brooklyn-based filmmaker Signe Baumane has released a teaser trailer for her first feature-length effort, Rocks In My Pockets. The film is “a personal story about mental illness afflicting women in Signe’s family and her own encounters with suicide and depression.”

Baumane is stretching into new territory with this feature and it will be interesting to see how she handles the difficult subject matter. It’s certainly a big departure from the sexually charged and comedic fare for which she is best known, like Birth, Teat Beat of Sex, and Five Fucking Fables. Rocks In My Pockets combines drawn animation with papier-mâché backgrounds and is scheduled for completion in the first half of 2013.

“Dear Dracula” Gets Animated

Image Comics/Shadowline graphic novel adaptation to air on Cartoon Network

Dear Dracula, a graphic novel for kids published by the Image Comics imprint Shadowline, has been adapted into an animated feature for Cartoon Network. The hour-long feature will air on October 16 at 7 p.m. (ET, PT) as part of Cartoon Network’s “Spooky Specials” Halloween programming.

A scarily sweet story of a young boy named Sam who loves horror films and vampires so much that he writes to Dracula for Christmas instead of Santa Claus, Dear Dracula was written by Joshua Williamson and drawn by Vicente “Vinny” Navarrete. Sam gets an unexpected reply to his letter when Dracula himself shows up on his doorstep, ready to make Sam’s dream of being a vampire come true.

Giving voice to Dear Dracula is a cast of well-known Hollywood veterans as well as breakout young actors:

Ray Liotta as Dracula
Nathan Gamble (Dolphin Tale) as Sam
Ariel Winters (Modern Family) as Emma
Emilio Estevez as Renfield
Marion Ross (Happy Days) as Grandma

The Dear Dracula animated feature is produced by Kickstart Productions (Voltron Force, Wolverine and the X-Men, The Amazing Screw-On Head), with a screenplay by Brad Birch (Johnny Test).

Disney Junior Canada Picks Up “Stella & Sam” Holiday Specials And New Show, “Yub Yubs,” From Radical Sheep

Toronto, Canada – October 2, 2012 – Radical Sheep Productions has begun production on the new animated preschool show Yub Yubs as well as two Stella and Sam Holiday Specials for Disney Junior Canada. Both productions are set to air in 2013.

Yub Yubs, created by Matt Fernandes of Industrial Brothers, stars three curious and playful characters whose feelings are expressed by changing into other physical forms. When the Yub Yubs play together, magic happens. This silly and heartwarming CG animated series explores sibling dynamics and focuses on the communication of feelings.

The award-winning series Stella and Sam will continue to charm audiences with Christmas and Halloween-themed specials that will each include an original music video. The specials will celebrate Christmas and Halloween with the awe, wonder, and delightful question and answer format that Stella and Sam is known for.

“These fun series from Radical Sheep deliver exactly what our audience is looking for – engaging characters, storylines and an element of discovery,” said Michael Goldsmith, Director, Original Programming, Astral Kids. “Both the series and specials will focus on relationships between siblings and encourage exploration that will ignite young minds.”

For more information on Yub Yubs or Stella and Sam, contact Radical Sheep.

Radical Sheep Productions will be at Stand 02.10 at MIPCom, October 8th to October 10th.

“The Event” By Julia Pott

New York-based filmmaker Julia Pott combines her quirky illustration style with dreamlike, faded live-action in her latest short The Event. The reverse-chronology end-of-the-world themed story is based on a poem by Tom Chivers. Pott makes smart use of masked screen shapes to heighten the story’s sense of disorientation. The short was commissioned by Channel 4′s shorts initiative Random Acts.

Directed by Julia Pott
Poem by Tom Chivers
Conceived and Produced by Carrie Thomas
Animation Production:
Hornet Inc.
Executive Producer: Michael Feder
Producer: Zack Kortright
Director of Photography: Adam Wissing
Additional Compositor: Tom Brown
Animation Assistant: Sophie Gate
Editor: RJ Glass
Sound Design: Joseph Tate
Re-recording mixer: Maiken Hansen
Male Voice: Alex Britton
Female Voice: Laura Free

Seth Macfarlane to Host The 85th Annual Academy Awards

Seth MacFarlane will host The 85th Annual Academy Awards, telecast producers Craig Zadan and Neil Meron announced. This will be MacFarlane’s first appearance on Oscar’s stage. “The 85th Annual Academy Awards” will be broadcast live on Oscar SUNDAY, FEBRUARY 24, 2013 on the ABC Television Network.

“We are thrilled to have Seth MacFarlane host the Oscars. His performing skills blend perfectly with our ideas for making the show entertaining and fresh,” said Zadan and Meron. “He will be the consummate host, and we are so happy to be working with him.”

“It’s truly an overwhelming privilege to be asked to host the Oscars,” said MacFarlane. “My thoughts upon hearing the news were, one, I will do my utmost to live up to the high standards set forth by my predecessors; and two, I hope they don’t find out I hosted the Charlie Sheen roast.”

“Seth is unbelievably talented,” said Academy President Hawk Koch. “We couldn’t be happier with the creative team we’ve assembled. With Craig, Neil and now Seth, we’re off to a great start.”

MacFarlane made his feature directorial debut this summer with the box office success Ted. He also co-wrote and produced the film, and voiced the title character. Ted has brought in over $420 million worldwide, making it one of the highest-grossing films of the year.

MacFarlane is the creative force behind the television series Family Guy and co-creator of American Dad! and The Cleveland Show. In September he hosted Saturday Night Live for the first time, for the show’s 38th season premiere. An accomplished live performer, he has played to sold-out audiences at London’s Royal Albert Hall and New York’s Carnegie Hall. In 2011 MacFarlane released his debut album, “Music Is Better than Words,” which earned two Grammy nominations. He also has earned 13 Emmy nominations and won two for his work on Family Guy.

Academy Awards for outstanding film achievements of 2012 will be presented on Sunday, February 24, 2013, at the Dolby Theatre at Hollywood & Highland Center. Don Mischer will direct the telecast for the third consecutive time. The Oscar presentation also will be televised live in more than 225 countries worldwide.

Modus FX Appoints Le Bouyonnec as VP Production

Montreal, QCModus FX announced the appointment of Anne Le Bouyonnec as VP production. Le Bouyonnec will act as liaison between executive management and the production team on the studio floor. She will be responsible for ensuring that on-floor production requirements are met, while overseeing resources and budgets. Le Bouyonnec brings over 25 years of artistic and organizational experience in the CG and VFX industry in Quebec to her new position, strengthening the executive team at Modus.

“Anne’s arrival allows Modus to consolidate our management structure and focus on our corporate vision as we continue to grow,” said Marc Bourbonnais, president and co-founder of Modus FX. “She has been a part of the CG and VFX community in Quebec since the beginning and we’re thrilled that she is joining us.”

Le Bouyonnec is recognized for her management of multidisciplinary teams in special effects and 3D digital fields. Most recently, she was project manager at the Cosmodome space museum in Laval, Que and for the popular interactive exhibit, Star Wars Identities. Prior to that, Le Bouyonnec spent eight years as studio manager in the Digital Art and Cinematics division of Ubisoft, one of the biggest video game studios in the world. There she worked on several well-known games, which included Assassin’s Creed, Splinter Cell and Prince of Persia. She is a graduate of the National Animation and Design Centre in Montreal, and has taught production management of digital special effects for cinema and television for 12 years.

Le Bouyonnec arrives at an exciting time for Modus FX as the company completes work on Canada’s first feature-length stereoscopic animated film, Sarila, slated for release in 2013, as well as two major studio films.

Montreal Stop Motion Film Festival Announces 2012 Program

Montreal – The fourth edition of the Montreal Stop Motion Film Festival has announced the release of its official program for 2012. This year, the Festival will be taking place on October 19th, 20th, and 21st in the J.A. de Sève Theater at Concordia University (1453 Mackay Street, Montreal).

The Montreal Stop Motion Film Festival is the “Ultimate Stop Motion Week-end.” The festival is the first in the world to showcase Stop Motion. The top-notch selection of exceptional films presented during this weekend-long event proves once again that a huge revival for Stop Motion animation is currently taking the animation world by storm.

This year’s program has something for everyone. Along with the official film selection, talks, and guest artists, the festival is also offering two free family screenings, presented by Mega Bloks, and hands-on pods with the Stop Motion Pro software so that young animators can discover the magic of animation on site.

Opening Night: Special guest speaker MARK SHAPIRO
Friday, October 19 – 7:30 p.m.

The Montreal Stop Motion Film Festival is very pleased to announce that Mark Shapiro from LAIKA will be at this year’s Festival. Shapiro will be joining the Festival to talk about the “making of” the handcrafted stop-motion film ParaNorman and will provide a behind-the-scenes look at LAIKA’s latest feature.

With time-lapse imagery and behind-the-scenes footage, Shapiro will describe the major undertaking involved in the making of this remarkable animated film.  And, as a special treat, Norman himself will be part of the visit alongside the famous Coraline. This is a great opportunity to see the meticulous work done inside LAIKA’s studios up close.


More than seventy Stop Motion films, from twenty countries, will be presented on the big screen. The jury will select a winner in each of the competitive categories:

Academic films 1:Saturday October 20 – 1:00 p.m.(PG-13)

Academic films 2:Sunday October 21 – 1:00 p.m. (PG-13)

Independent films:Saturday October 20 – 4:00 p.m.(PG-13) Professional films:Sunday October 21 – 7:30 p.m. (PG-13)

The jury is composed of three members of the stop motion community: Mark Shapiro, Merlin Crossingham, and Chris Walsh. The winners will be announced on Sunday evening, the closing night of the festival.


Special presentation: MERLIN CROSSINGHAM, Creative Director of WALLACE AND GROMIT Saturday October 20 – 7:30 p.m.

It’s not every day that Wallace and Gromit cross the Atlantic and visit Montreal, but, with the help of their Creative Director Merlin Crossingham, the trip will be a lot easier as they land at the Montreal Stop Motion Film Festival.

Merlin will share about the highlights of his career in stop motion from how he got into it all the way to his work with top-flight studios.  And, he will also share his insight into Aardman Animations studio and how they adapt to work in different areas of animation production and on films of different lengths.

The highlight of the event is sure to be Merlin’s talk about how he creates character animations—from first concept to final performance.

And, to illustrate, he will be bringing along a selection of puppets, including Wallace and Gromit!

Seminar with CHRIS WALSH, Independent Animator and Teacher at SHERIDAN College Sunday  October 21 – 16:00 p.m.

Continuing the line-up of special guest speakers at the festival this year, we are really happy to have a seminar with Mr. Chris Walsh.

Chris Walsh is a filmmaker, professor, and business owner, which allows him to better serve the medium of stop motion animation.  In this presentation, which will include both film and images, Chris will chart his path through the medium. It’s a path that involves lunar eclipses, Ray Harryhausen, training in a haunted “stop motion monastery,” exhilarating plunges into the depths of human consciousness, Jan Svankmajer, and frame-by-frame monsters.

Presented by Mega Bloks
Saturday, October 20 and Sunday, October 21, 11:00 a.m. – 12:00 p.m.

The festival will be holding two free family screenings. The whole family will have the opportunity to enjoy stop motion animation from around the world. These projections are a selection of films from the official competition line up.

HANDS-ON Sessions
Presented by Stop Motion Pro
Saturday, October 20 and Sunday, October 21, 12:00 p.m. – 4:00 p.m.

The festival will have “hands-on” sessions on Saturday and Sunday where animators can get better acquainted with the Stop Motion Pro software while animating construction toys from Mega Bloks. With animators on site, artists and enthusiasts will be able to try their hands at stop motion animation.

Adults: $10 per session
Children (12 years and under): $5 per session
VIP Pass: $50

The VIP Pass, which gives access to all sessions, will be on sale at www.LaVitrine.com in limited quantity. Tickets will be available for purchase at the door before each screening.

Academy to Screen 3D “The Monkey King: Uproar in Heaven”

LOS ANGELES — The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences will present the west coast premiere of the beloved classic Chinese animated feature, The Monkey King: Uproar in Heaven, on Wednesday, October 17. A beloved classic of Chinese animation, Wan Laiming and Tang Cheng’s 1960s animated feature returns to theaters after a painstaking and dazzling 3D makeover led by experts at Los Angeles-based Technicolor.

The screening is part of the first China Onscreen Biennial (COB), a four-week bicoastal collaboration among American cultural organizations to promote U.S.-China dialogue through the art of film. Launched by the UCLA Confucius Institute, COB is presented in partnership with the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, the UCLA Film & Television Archive, Film at REDCAT and Pomona College. The event, which runs October 13–31, will include showings of rare mainland Chinese shorts and feature films, bringing some of the best examples of contemporary Chinese filmmaking, as well as archival rarities and film restorations, to American audiences.

The Monkey King: Uproar In Heaven, originally released in two parts in 1961 and 1965, is based on the Chinese myth of the Monkey King set to a Beijing opera orchestral soundtrack. The film has been digitally restored and converted to 3D, and will be screened in its original language with English subtitles.

The screening will be at the Academy’s Linwood Dunn Theatre on Vine Street in Hollywood. The film will be preceded by a presentation from Technicolor’s Tom Burton and Pierre Routhier on the film’s digital restoration and 3D conversion.

For more information and a complete lineup, visit www.confucius.ucla.edu/cob.

DreamWorks Animation & Relativity Media Team Up with M-GO to Give Instant Access to New Blu-ray & DVD Releases For Purchase & Rental

Studios’ Premium Content Grow M-GO’s Media Library of the Most Sought Out Entertainment to Watch at Home or On the Go

LOS ANGELES, Oct. 2, 2012 /– The Grill Conference – M-GO, the new service that makes consumers’ entertainment happen by getting them the freshest and broadest content on the devices they choose, today announced content licensing agreements with two leading studios, DreamWorks Animation SKG, Inc. (Nasdaq: DWA) and Relativity Media. M-GO will provide consumers with immediate access to premium animated film franchises such as DreamWorks’ Shrek, Madagascar, Kung Fu Panda and How to Train Your Dragon, as well as Relativity’s live action releases The Raven, Mirror Mirror and Act of Valor. Consumers will be able to easily rent or purchase digital entertainment new releases and catalog films on any device or platform.

These deals join M-GO’s previously sealed content licensing agreements with leading studios including NBCUniversal, Paramount Pictures, Sony Pictures Home Entertainment, Twentieth Century Fox and Warner Bros. Digital Distribution to enable consumers to rent or purchase home entertainment day and date new release films, catch up television and back catalog film and TV shows — with more content agreements to be announced as the company nears its commercial launch in Q4 of this year.

“M-GO’s unique offering has allowed us to secure ‘wins’ with leading companies in both the technology and entertainment industries,” said John Batter, Chief Executive Officer of M-GO. “M-GO brings value to the marketplace by providing high-quality film and TV content to consumers on the devices they are already using.”

“Relativity is always looking to expand our presence in the digital space and we are pleased to have forged a new partnership in the transactional business with M-GO,” said David Spiegelman, President, Domestic Television & Digital Distribution at Relativity Media.

“As a new service that gives consumers a seamless way to locate and view their favorite movies, TV shows, and other digital media anywhere and on any device, M-GO is unparalleled,” said DreamWorks Animation Chief Operating Officer Ann Daly. “We look forward to making DreamWorks Animation’s premium content available on their platform for more consumers to access.”

The M-GO service, which launches in Q4 this year, will be available on all major platforms and function on a full spectrum of operating systems ranging from Android to iOS to Windows. M-GO will be pre-loaded on Samsung’s 2012 Smart TVs, Blu-ray players and Wi-Fi tablets, VIZIO’s 2012 Smart TVs, Blu-ray players, Wi-Fi tablets and digital media players, and Intel® Ultrabook™ devices through the Intel AppUp® center.