“The Rabbi’s Cat” opening on the West Coast

The Annie Award nominated The Rabbi’s Cat is getting its “real” LA, SF and San Diego theatrical release this month. I urge you all to see it (especially in 3D). It’s a beautiful adaptation of an acclaimed graphic novel by Joann Sfar.

The film will will be playing at multiple theaters, with one 3D option for the die-hards, starting January 18th. In San Francisco it will be at the Landmark Embarcadero and the Smith Rafael Film Center. In San Diego the film will play at the Landmark Hillcrest. In Los Angeles The Rabbi’s Cat opens at the Downtown Independent (in 3D), the Laemmle Music Hall (on Wilshire), Laemmle Playhouse in Pasadena and Laemmle’s Town Center in Encino.

The Rabbi’s Cat tells the story of a rabbi and his talking cat – “a sharp-tongued feline philosopher brimming with scathing humor and a less than pure love for the rabbi’s voluptuous teenage daughter. Set in Algeria in the 1930s, an intersection of Jewish, Arab and French culture.” Co-Director Joann Sfar is an award winning filmmaker and one of France’s most celebrated comic artists.

Huggtopus in “So Much Love”

This is an uber-cute, beautifully designed kids music video starring “Huggtopus”, a Kimochis character. Kimochis are “Toys with feelings inside”, a plush doll line created by Nina Rappaport Rowan. Directed by Rowan with Gordon Clark; Daniel Peixe did the rough animation of the characters, following Gordon Clark and Mike Overbeck story boards. Zach Gill wrote and performed a the song.

Art director Santiago Agusti wrote to tell us:

I’m from Spain (and living in Spain) and animator Dani Peixe is now living in L.A. and working at Disney. Once I had the roughs on my hands, I did the clean-ups, added colors, some extra animation, types, compositing and vfx there. All the other people who appear on the credits are from the U.S., mainly The Bay Area. I`m doing some art direction for them, as well as animation, mini comics which come with the Plush Toy Box, iphone games, etc. Here is a 7-second video where I put animation on real footage, playing with my kid.

Lost Disney Gag Drawings of “Snow White” Artist Discovered

Italian-American artist Joe Magro was hired at Disney in 1936 during the studio’s expansion to produce Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs. Originally from Rochester, New York, Magro was attending Mechanics Institute (now Rochester Institute of Technology) when his teacher Fritz Trautmann suggested that he apply to the Disney studio.

Magro left Disney in 1937 and returned to the East Coast. He apparently stayed long enough at the studio to make friends with the other artists. We know that because when Magro left, his Disney colleagues presented him with a “good luck” book filled with gag drawings. The drawings from that book are currently being auctioned by Heritage Auctions and include pieces by Fred Moore, Ward Kimball, Bill Tytla, Grim Natwick and Marc Davis, among others.

I’ve collected all the pieces in the gallery below. It’s a beautiful set of cartoon drawings by some very talented artists. [UPDATE—11/26/2013: More of Joe Magro's gag drawings were recently auctioned by Heritage. Those drawings have been added to this post.]

(Thanks, Mark Mayerson)

“Hammer And Hand” by Colin Hesterly

Seattle-based animator/designer Colin Hesterly is the Creative Director of the filmmaking agency The Academy. Check out their first hand-drawn film, its very short, but its pretty spectacular.

Says Hesterly, “Hammer & Hand follows the mysterious journey of one man creating something bigger and better than himself”. Some cool behind the scenes material is posted here. Character Design and animation is by Yassir Rasan.

Looney Tunes Super Stars: Sylvester & Hippety Hopper

Who says DVD is dead? Warner Home Video has announced the latest release in its Looney Tunes Super Stars series: Sylvester & Hippety Hopper: Marsupial Mayhem.

This DVD features 18 classic cartoons re-mastered to perfection (17 of these Looney Tunes never-before-seen on DVD), featuring Sylvester versus the “giant mouse” (aka Hippety Hopper). In addition to every Looney Tunes/Merrie Melodies appearance of the baby kangaroo, the disc also includes each and every cartoon featuring Sylvester’s long suffering son, Sylvester Junior.

The single-disc release is scheduled for April 23rd priced at $19.98 SRP ($13.99 on amazon for 18 Robert McKimson cartoon classics. Titles included are listed below:

HOP, LOOK & LISTEN
HIPPETY HOPPER
POP ‘IM POP!
WHO’S KITTEN WHO?
HOPPY-GO-LUCKY
CATS AWEIGH!
BELL HOPPY
LIGHTHOUSE MOUSE
TOO HOP TO HANDLE
SLAP-HOPPY MOUSE
MOUSE-TAKEN IDENTITY
HOPPY DAZE
FREUDY CAT
CAT’S PAW
FISH AND SLIPS
BIRDS OF A FATHER
CLAWS IN THE LEASE
GOLDIMOUSE AND THE THREE CATS

(via TV Shows On DVD)

“Disney Infinity” trailer

Here is the trailer for the forthcoming Disney video game, Disney Infinity:

Welcome to Disney 2013, where synergy rules – or perhaps, runs amok! Imagine a similar game in a few years mashing up the Muppets, Marvel Superheroes and The Lion King.

For now, click here to see a “cast photo” of the characters involved in Disney Infinity and their redesign for the game.

From the press release:

DISNEY INFINITY unlocks the freedom to play with some of your favorite Disney and Disney/Pixar worlds like never before! You can experience adventures in the worlds of Pirates of the Caribbean, The Incredibles and Monsters University – take on the role of Sulley, the naturally gifted ‘scarer’; become Captain Jack Sparrow, the sword-wielding pirate; or transform yourself into Mr. Incredible, one of the world’s greatest crime-fighters. Battle enemies, solve puzzles, overcome obstacles and complete a variety of other unique quests.

Or create your own world! Unlock virtual toys, characters, buildings, weapons, gadgets and more — and bring them into the Disney Infinity ‘Toy Box’ where you can mix them all up to create your own game. In the Disney Infinity Toy Box, there are no rules and you can create any adventure you want. Share your creations with your friends with up to 4-player co-op play.

The more you play, the more you unlock so the story never ends. It’s up to you and your imagination — infinite possibilities, infinite ways to inspire your imagination!

Disney Infinity will be available in Summer 2013 on all major gaming platforms including PS3, Wii, Wii U, Xbox 360, and Nintendo 3DS.

Oscar Nominated Short Films Will Play Theaters Feb. 1st

Once again, the only way the world gets a chance to see the Oscar nominated short films – before the Academy Awards – is through the theatrical program released by Magnolia Pictures, this year in conjunction with ShortsHD.

The program will screen in over 260 theatres on February 1st and the release includes the animation, live action and documentary shorts. It goes without saying (but I’ll say it anyway): Go!

The Press Release is posted below.

Los Angeles, CA, January 15, 2013 – ShortsHD™ The Short Movie Channel (www.shorts.tv), working with Magnolia Pictures, will release The Oscar® Nominated Short Films 2013 in over 260 theatres across the United States, Canada and Europe on February 1, 2013. This is the 8th year of the Oscar Nominated Short Film Theatrical Release. The announcement comes on the heels of last year’s record-breaking release, which was one of the top 50 grossing independent film releases in North America, earning over $1,700,000 nationwide. Since its debut in 2005, the Oscar® Nominated Short Films theatrical release program has grown 800%.

A key fixture of the awards season, the theatrical release featuring Live Action, Animation and Documentary short films is the only opportunity for audiences around the country to watch the nominated shorts prior to the 85th Academy Awards® ceremony on February 24, 2013.

This year’s release breaks new ground: a past Oscar winner in that category will host each film. Hosting the Live Action program will be director Luke Matheny, who won the Academy Award® for his Live Action Short film God of Love (2011); hosting the Animated Shorts program are Bill Joyce and Brandon Oldenburg who won the Academy Award® for their Animated Short Film The Fantastic Flying Books of Mr. Morris Lessmore (2011); and hosting the Short Documentary program is Daniel Junge, co-director of last year’s Academy Award® winner for Best Short Documentary Saving Face.

This year’s release includes the following Nominated short films:

ANIMATION

Adam & Dog – (director: Minkyu Lee, USA) The story about the dog of Eden. What happened in those first days of Creation that made Man and Dog so inseparable? The dog, as he lives through this curious world, encounters a strange creature; a human being named Adam – and with that discovers a new found connection to the world.

Fresh Guacamole – (director: PES, USA) Learn how to transform familiar objects into Fresh Guacamole!

Head Over Heels – (director: Timothy Reckart, UK) After many years of marriage, Walter and Madge have grown apart: he lives on the floor and she lives on the ceiling. When Walter discovers a long-lost memento of their wedding day, he tries to reignite their old romance. But it brings their equilibrium crashing down, and the couple that can’t agree which way is up must find a way to put their marriage back together.

Maggie Simpson in ‘The Longest Daycare’ (director: David Silverman, USA) Maggie Simpson spends a day at the Ayn Rand Daycare Center where she is diagnosed at an average intelligence level. Longing to be grouped with the gifted children, Maggie finds her destiny by rescuing a lonely cocoon from Baby Gerald, who is busy smooshing butterflies.

Paperman -(director: John Kahrs, USA) Paperman follows the story of a lonely young man in mid-century New York City, whose destiny takes an unexpected turn after a chance meeting with a beautiful woman on his morning commute. Convinced the girl of his dreams is gone forever, he gets a second chance when he spots her in a skyscraper window across the avenue from his office. With only his heart, imagination and a stack of papers to get her attention, his efforts are no match for what the fates have in store for him.

LIVE ACTION

Asad – (director: Bryan Buckley, South Africa) Set in a war-torn fishing village in Somalia, an all Somali refugee cast brings to life this coming of age fable of a Somali boy who is faced with falling into the pirate life, or rising above to choose the path of an honest fishing man.

Buzkashi Boys – (director: Sam French, Afghanistan) Set against the dramatic landscape of contemporary Afghanistan and the national sport of Buzkashi – a brutal game of horse polo played with a dead goat – Buzkashi Boys tells the coming of age story of two best friends, a charismatic street urchin and a defiant blacksmith’s son, who struggle to realize their dreams as they make their way to manhood in one of the most war-torn countries on Earth.

Curfew – (director: Shawn Christensen, USA) At the lowest point of his life, Richie gets a call from his estranged sister, asking him to look after his nine-year old niece, Sophia, for the evening.

Death of a Shadow – (director: Tom Van Avermaet, France and Belgium) Soldier Nathan died during World War I. A strange collector imprisoned his shadow and gave him a new chance: a second life against 10,000 captured shadows. It is love that guides him, as his purpose is to meet Sarah again, the woman he fell in love with before he died. But then he discovers that she’s already in love with someone else, jealousy clouds his mind and pushes him towards a bitter decision, not without consequences.

Henry – (director: Yan England, Canada) Henry, a great concert pianist, has his life thrown in turmoil the day the love of this life, Maria, disappears mysteriously. He’ll then discover the inevitable verdict of life.

DOCUMENTARY

Inocente – (directors: Sean Fine and Andrea Nix, USA) An intensely personal and vibrant coming of age documentary about a young artist’s fierce determination to never surrender to the bleakness of her surroundings. At 15, Inocente refuses to let her dream of becoming an artist be caged by her life as an undocumented immigrant forced to live homeless for the last nine years. Inocente is both a timeless story about the transformative power of art and a timely snapshot of the new face of homelessness in America — children.

King’s Point – (director: Sari Gilman, USA) Kings Point tells the stories of five seniors living in a typical American retirement resort-men and women who came to Florida decades ago with their spouses by their sides and their health intact, and now find themselves grappling with love, loss and the universal desire for human connection.

Mondays at Racine – (director: Cynthia Wade, USA) Every third Monday of the month, in brassy Long Island, sisters Cynthia and Rachel open up their hair salon, called Racine, and offer free beauty services for women undergoing chemotherapy. The sisters are determined to give women who are losing their hair, eyebrows and eyelashes a sense of normalcy and dignity in a traumatic and uncertain time. The story of what hair means in our culture quickly unfolds into an unexpected look at womanhood, marriage and survival.

Open Heart – (director: Keif Davidson, USA) Eight Rwandan children leave their families behind to embark on a life-or-death journey seeking high-risk heart surgery in Sudan. Their hearts ravaged by a treatable disease from childhood strep throat, the kids have only months to live. Open Heart reveals the intertwined endeavors of Dr. Emmanuel Rusingiza, Rwanda’s lone government cardiologist, as he fights to save the lives of his young patients, and Dr. Gino Strada, the Salam Center’s head surgeon who must convince Sudanese President Omar Al-Bashir’s government to keep Africa’s only link to life-saving cardiac surgery free of charge for the millions who need it.

Redemption – (directors: Jon Alpert & Matthew O’Neill, USA) In the documentary Redemption, filmmakers Jon Alpert & Matthew O’Neill closely follow this growing army of New Yorkers whose treasures are in the trash. The film is a chance to meet the marginalized masses we often rush past on our way to catch a bus or make a meeting. They are poor but proud New Yorkers – people who don’t ask for a handout – people whose hands rake through the discards of our lives – building their lives one nickel at a time.

Ruby and Spears on “Stu’s Show”

This week on the internet radio program Stu’s Show, a return appearance by animation writer/producers Joe Ruby and Ken Spears. Ruby and Spears essentially created Scooby Doo for Hanna Barbera, then went on to form their own studio in 1977 to create such Saturday morning “masterpieces” as Fangface, Turbo Teen and Rubik The Amazing Cube.

Joe and Ken made their first appearance on Stu’s Show last May, and they discussed their early Hanna-Barbera days. This time they’ll talk about the projects that came forth from their own studio; which includes working with Roy Thomas, Jack Kirby, Steve Gerber and Alex Toth on Thundarr the Barbarian, adapting Plastic Man, and recording sessions with Mister T.

Stu’s Show will be broadcast live at 7pm Eastern/4pm Pacific at StusShow.com. It’s free to listen live today – but after that you can download the show anytime for a mere 99 cents. They’ll take questions via phone – but if you have a question I encourage you to email Stu in advance of broadcast (email address here). Listen in here.

“Heart of The Country” clip from Paul McCartney

Nothing like having Paul McCartney tweet your latest viral animation. It’s speculated that this mysterious (and delightful) piece is tied into promoting the line of vegetarian products for Linda McCartney Foods. Paul is a longtime fan and supporter of animation – but the director of the video has yet to be identified. C’mon, whoever you are, fess up!

UPDATE – I knew my plea would get results. The animation is by Jordan Bruner.

An Appreciation of the Tiger in “Life of Pi”

My favorite animated performance in Pixar’s Brave was the Queen-as-a-bear character. It was a fine piece of cartoon-inspired anthropomorphized animation that supported the storyline and convinced the viewer that there was a struggle of personalities occurring within the bear.

On the opposite end of the spectrum is the animation of the tiger, Richard Parker, in Ang Lee’s film adaptation of the novel Life of Pi. The aims of the Rhythm & Hues animators who created the tiger were quite different than those of Brave‘s animators, but it is no less an artistic accomplishment.

In Life of Pi, the tiger shares the screen for long periods of time with a live-action actor, and the goal was to create a performance that was as naturalistic, animalistic and photorealistic as possible. They succeeded on all counts, and created a convincing character that the viewer never questions as being anything but a flesh-and-blood tiger. In fact, the film’s visual effects supervisor Bill Westenhofer, said in an interview that there were even shots of a real tiger mixed in seamlessly with the CG: “By doing that, it set our bar high for CGI. We couldn’t cheat at all. It pushed the artists to go and deliver something that’s never been done before, something as photo-real as anyone has ever done with an animal.”

Impressive as it is, one can’t help but feel that the tiger is an anticlimactic moment in the history of CG animation. There has been a decades-long buildup toward achieving such a character, and with each film, artists have progressively gotten closer and closer to this goal. The tiger is not a revolution, but rather the latest evolution of CGI’s march toward photoreal and natural digital actors.

Life of Pi’s animation director Erik-Jan De Boer has had plenty of time to develop an approach to naturalism over the past decade-and-a-half, primarily at Rhythm & Hues, which has distinguished itself as one of the top effects houses for CG animals. De Boer’s R&H credits include animals in films like The Golden Compass, Cats & Dogs, Stuart Little, Babe: Pig in the City and both Scooby-Doo features.

Significant portions of Life of Pi beyond the animals were also computer-generated and this article on FXguide serves as a primer to the use of CG in the film. Among the eleven Oscar nominations that the film earned last week was a nod for its visual effects. De Boer shares the nomination with Bill Westenhofer, Guillaume Rocheron (vfx supervisor: MPC) and Donald R. Elliott (special effects technician). It would be a surprise if the film didn’t win in this category.

Film has always been about creating an illusion, and today, that illusion is being achieved in large part through animation. Directors like Ang Lee and James Cameron have transformed themselves into (part-time) animation directors with little fanfare, and some of the most technologically advanced pieces of character animation can be seen in their films. The tiger in Life of Pi is an impressive accomplishment, and shows that photoreal animals are now within the grasp of today’s animators. Anyone who is interested in the development of our art form owes it to themselves to check out the film.

“Goodnight, Sweet Pak Man” By Chris Weller

Animator Chris Weller has brought the concepts of Pac-Man up-to-date in this clever reinvention of the “Pakkuman” mythos…

Here’s what Chris told us of about the production of this short:

I am a Los Angeles based independent animator (I used to work with Jerry Beck at the small animation house RubberBug), and this is my newest short, Goodnight, Sweet Pak-Man – a stylized, (unauthorized) animated parody of the classic 8-bit video game we all know and love.

For the last 2 years I have been putting this together in what little spare time I have between paid jobs (I worked previously on Season 3 of HBO’s ‘The Life and Times of Tim’ and have animated dozens of web videos) and it is finally ready to share.

In conceptualizing this piece, I was inspired by the “Gallery 1988” art exhibits that pop up frequently, which feature nostalgic and familiar 80’s cartoon and video game characters re-contextualized in various thoughtful and artistic ways. Even though those exhibits are mostly paintings, I wanted the aesthetic of this piece to be worthy of inclusion, and felt I really had to dissect the game and study its core. My big question before starting was, “After more than 30 years, why is Pac-Man still so widely recognized? What is it about Pac-Man that connects with people so well?“

I broke the game down to its basics: You’re a mouth, stuck in a never-ending maze, trying to eat all the food while evading death at every turn. Every 3 levels there is an animated ‘cinema scene’ of Pac-Man meeting a Ms. Pac-Man. They fall in love and every 3 levels produce another Pac-Man Jr. So the game is analogous to the very primal basics of life: Eating, procreating, and trying not to die. In Pac-Man, as in life, nobody “wins,” you just play until the ghosts are faster than you. Or you get really, really good and make it to level 256 and glitch out and break the Matrix.

Anyway, that is the core of what I wanted to preserve from the game while adapting it and rendering it in a much more complex style. I have been working a variety of different jobs within the animation and VFX industry for the last 8+ years, and I wanted to combine all the various skills and techniques I have learned (as well as figure out a bunch of new ones) and roll all them up into an explosive little short.

The piece was animated and composited entirely in After Effects, with a little Photoshop to allow me to hand-color the characters’ bodies. The Backgrounds were modeled in the free CAD program SketchUp.

Hope you enjoy, it was a blast to make. But after 2 years I’m glad it’s done so I can move on!

“Notebook Babies” by Tony Dusko

Tony Dusko is a grade-school teacher in Pennsylvannia who, for the last five years, has been using animation to communicate with his students. This film explains:

He has since made dozens of 1-minute or less Notebook Babies films – all of them teaching gentle lessons about behavior, encouragement and friendship.

Dusko has studied animation under Paul Fierlinger, and has since sold one of his little films to Sesame Street. Here is his latest one:

(Thanks, Yvette Kaplan)

“South Park” Creators Trey Parker and Matt Stone Launch New Company, Important Studios

South Park creators Trey Parker and Matt Stone announced the formation of their own production studio today. The cheekily named Important Studios will be supported by revenue from South Park and the Broadway musical Book of Mormon. One of the first projects Parker and Stone intend to develop is a film version of their hit musical. More details about their plans can be found in this NY Times piece. The official press release follows:

NEW YORK, NY (January 14, 2013) – Trey Parker and Matt Stone, the co-creators of “South Park” and “The Book of Mormon,” and The Raine Group, a boutique merchant bank focused exclusively on entertainment, digital media and sports, announced today the formation of Important Studios, a new venture consolidating Parker and Stone’s creative work and future projects into one company.

Important Studios will look to build on the duo’s unmatched success across the film, television, live stage, and digital platforms. Raine will take a minority stake in the company, providing advisory services as well as financing for future projects. Important Studios plans to continue the growth of the “South Park” and “Book of Mormon” franchises, create new content across different media, and expand distribution of Parker and Stone’s work worldwide.

“Trey and Matt are unique content creators, having built two iconic global media brands. They have established themselves as thought leaders in the entertainment and digital world, while at the same time using satire to make their audience aware of critical social issues,” said Joe Ravitch, co-founder of the Raine Group. Jeff Sine, co-founder of the Raine Group added, “It has always been core to Raine’s thesis to align ourselves directly with extraordinary content creators, and we are excited to partner with Trey and Matt to create new global entertainment properties.”

“Having worked with several different studios over the years, we came to realize that our favorite people in the world are ourselves,” said Parker and Stone. “We hope to work with ourselves for a long time and are excited to now work with ourselves in a much greater capacity.”

Parker and Stone are the co-creators and executive producers of “South Park,” which began airing in 1997 and has won four Emmy Awards as well the Peabody Award. South Park, the longest-running animated series on cable, is now in its 16th year. Comedy Central is owned by Viacom’s MTV Networks. Parker and Stone are also the co-creators, along with “Avenue Q’s” Bobby Lopez, of the hit musical, “The Book of Mormon.” The show is currently completing its second year on Broadway. The Book of Mormon launched its first national tour in August, a third company in Chicago in December, and a West End production is opening on March 21, 2013. “The Book of Mormon” received nine Tony Awards in 2011, including Best Musical and Best Director for Parker; the New York Drama Critics Award for Best Musical; five Drama Desk Awards; four Outer Circle Awards; the Drama League Award for Best Musical, as well as the GRAMMY Award for Best Musical Theater Album. In addition, Parker and Stone’s work on the film “South Park: Bigger, Longer & Uncut” has earned them an Oscar nomination, as well as an LA Film Critics Award, a NY Film Critics Award, and an MTV Movie Award.

The Raine Group has in excess of $500 million in assets under management and has completed a number of principal investments, including multimedia producer Vice Media, browser-based games giant Jagex, celebrity–curated ecommerce platform OpenSky, global multimedia fitness leader Zumba Fitness, leader in electronic transcript exchange Parchment, and event producers C3 Presents.

Parker and Stone were represented by their longtime lawyer Kevin Morris of Morris Yorn Barnes Levine Krintzman Rubenstein Kohner & Gellman, P.C. and Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton & Garrison LLP. The Raine Group was represented by Cleary Gottlieb Steen & Hamilton LLP.

(Trey Parker and Matt Stone image via s_bukley/Shutterstock)

YouTube-Funded Channels Are Under Fire For Mistreatment of Content Producers

Well, that didn’t take long. The entertainment companies that took millions of dollars from YouTube to operate content channels are coming under fire for their mistreatment of content producers, including exploitative business practices and overreaching contracts. Last week, the LA Weekly published a lengthy piece detailing some of the abuses by these YouTube-funded networks.

The article focuses specifically on two of the largest networks today: Machinima and Maker Studios. Machinima, as you may recall, originally began as an animation movement, but today the name has been co-opted by an entertainment brand that celebrates video game culture in a more general fashion.

Machinima, which represents over 6,000 content creators as part of its channel, has come under fire for contracts that take lifetime ownership rights of everything a content creator posts on YouTube. A skeptic might say the contracts were specifically designed to take advantage of the young creators who make up the largest portion of their content-production network. The LA Weekly states that Machinima is in the process of revising their contracts, but it’s fairly evident that creator exploitation is a big part of their business model, and access to cheap content could also be partly why Machinima is so immensely attractive to investors. Last May, Machinima raised $35 million in a venture capital funding round led by Google, which also owns YouTube.

The LA Weekly draws an interesting analogy between the current situation faced by content creators on YouTube and the old-school contract system for actors during the Golden Age of Hollywood:

It’s tempting to write off each contract dispute as just that — an individual incident. But taken together, these fights constitute a bigger issue, one not unlike those that developed when the film industry was first finding its feet.

Like Maker Studios and Machinima, the film studios of the ’30s and ’40s didn’t just produce content, they distributed it, says Tino Balio, professor emeritus of communication arts at the University of Wisconsin at Madison and an expert on the history of the American film industry.

At the time, studios produced shorter, lower-budget films on a tight schedule because theatrical runs were much shorter — only about a week. Studios churned out one major movie every week, plus a few B films, to meet the demand.

“The studios were run on a factory basis. They had to have total control of their talent in order to assign them to projects, in order to make all of these films to keep their theaters filled,” Balio says. “They could not negotiate with talent each time they decided to make a motion picture.”

They met this challenge by adopting the “option” contract. A new star might be signed for a fixed term (typically seven years). Each year, the studio had the option to renew the contract — but the actors were unable to break it during its duration.

“It was bondage,” Balio says. “It changed over time, but basically, when a performer signed an option contract, he or she was bound to the studio because no other major studio would hire that performer if he or she broke their option contract.”

While the channels discussed in the LA Weekly piece don’t create much in the way of original animation, there are other YouTube-funded channels that do, notably Mondo Media, Shut Up! Cartoons and Cartoon Hangover. Thankfully, none of those channels have been accused of similar mistreatment of creators, but the demand for large amounts of content by these networks means that the potential for abuse exists. As always, animation content creators should exercise caution and have a lawyer review and explain any contract before signing it.

(Thanks, Chris Webb)

“Brave” Wins Golden Globe

Pixar’s Brave won the Golden Globe tonight for Animated Feature Film. It was in competition against Frankenweenie, Hotel Transylvania, Rise of the Guardians and Wreck-It Ralph. Since the Golden Globes introduced the animated feature award seven years ago, Pixar has won the award six times. Pixar’s sole loss was last year when The Adventures of Tintin took home the prize over Cars 2.

FIRST IMAGE: Sylvain Chomet’s “Swing Popa Swing”

The first image from Sylvain Chomet’s upcoming prequel to his film The Triplets of Belleville, titled Swing Popa Swing, was posted on the Cartoon Movie website.

Cartoon Movie is an international conference for producers/distributors of feature-length animation, mainly children’s films for theatrical release. The conference (with about 600 participants) takes place every year in March in Lyon, France. The Chomet project, listed as “in development”, will be looking for co-financing partners at this year’s event.

(Thanks, Liam Scanlan)

You Choose! Audience Prize for Cartoon Brew’s Student Animation Festival

It’s awards season and we’ve got one of our own to hand out on Cartoon Brew: our 2012 Student Animation Festival Audience Award.

We debuted ten student films last year—each excellent in their own way—as part of our Student Animation Festival. In addition to the award money that each of the filmmakers has already received, the readers of Cartoon Brew now have the opportunity to bestow the audience prize on their favorite film. The filmmaker(s) who tops the poll will receive an additional $500 (US).

The poll below will close next Wednesday, January 16, at noon (PST). For convenient judging, the ten shorts are embedded below the poll.

SURVEY IS NOW CLOSED! WINNER WILL BE ANNOUNCED SOON!


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


Peace One Day by Phoebe Halstead and Angie Phillips

Money Bunny Blues by Ellen Coons

Ballpit by Kyle Mowat

Otzi by Evan Red Borja

Troubleshooting by Eric Ko

Gum by Noam Sussman

Snail Trail by Philipp Artus

Pest by Nooree Kim

21 Years in 7 Minutes by Caroline Torres

Ballad of Poisonberry Pete by Adam Campbell, Elizabeth McMahill and Uri Lotan

(Trophy guy image via Shutterstock)

JibJab hosting “Loop de Loop” event in LA

The video above is Opposites by Scott Benson. It’s one of dozens (hundreds?) of entries to Melbourne Australia based Loopdeloop, a monthly showcase-and-friendly competition involving themed animation loops. Check out some of the past winners here.

Loopdeloop will be having its first “star spangled super special” screening in their new home, Hollywood, CA, on Thursday January 31st – and I’ll be there.

The screening will feature a star studded cast of celebrity judges:

- Weird Al Yankovic

- Dane Boedigheimer (Creator of Annoying Orange)

- Alex Hirsch (Creator of Gravity Falls)

- Jerry Beck (Co-founder of Cartoon Brew)

Location:
Dim Mak Studios
6356 Hollywood Blvd.
Hollywood, CA 90028

7 – 10 PM

Cash Bar
All Ages welcome, 21+ to drink
Valet – Cash valet is located on the corner of Hollywood Blvd and Cosmo Street
Or there is street parking

It’s not too late to enter the contest. If you’d like your animation be part of the event, please read the submission guidelines posted here. And here’s the Facebook page for the event.

“Half A Pantaloon” by Hector Herrera

Half-a-Pantaloon is the second instalment in the ‘Beastly Bards’ collection and a companion piece to Typesetter Blues which we featured here last October.

It’s a cautionary tale the pitfalls of wearing short pants in the wrong situations. Produced by Hector Herrera and writer/producer Pazit Cahlon at Toronto-based content creators Together: Words + Pictures for Art & Culture in partnership with Varipix.

CREDITS
WORDS: Pazit Cahlon
PICTURES: Hector Herrera
VOICE: Jayne Eastwood
MUSIC: Jayme Stone & Grant Gordy
PRODUCER: Pazit Cahlon
ANIMATION: Hector Herrera and Jeanette Seah
PRODUCTION PARTNER: Blaine Philippi/Varipix
MUSIC: Jayme Stone (Banjo, foley), Grant Gordy (Guitar), Rich Chiaraluce (Clarinet, saxophones), Mark Diamond (Bass, foley), Justin Peacock (Recording & mixing)
VOICE RECORD: Richard Segal at Voodoo Highway Music & Post
SOUND MIX: Richard Segal
VOICE DIRECTOR: Dee Shipley at Dee and Company
RECORD ASSISTANT: Josh Hagen