Artist of the Day: Man Arenas

Man Arenas

Man Arenas has worked on animated productions in a variety of capacities—creating development art, location designs, characters and storyboards. Get a sense of his extensive work by visiting his portfolio website, Dodecaden.

Man Arenas

Man Arenas

Man has recently worked on Studio Soi’s The Gruffalo and The Gruffalo’s Child. Some of his design work from these productions can be seen above, such as the background set piece that was created based on his drawing.

Man Arenas

Man Arenas

Man’s long standing personal project revolves around his creation, Yaxin the Faun, for which he has created art and comic books. Artwork from this project can be found on the Yaxin the Faun blog, the “old blog“, and his Tumblr.

Man Arenas

Man Arenas

Man Arenas

Man Arenas

Kanye West: I’m Just Like Vanellope von Schweetz From “Wreck-It Ralph” [UPDATED]

The much discussed Kanye West interview with Zane Lowe of the BBC has a little something for everyone—even fans of Wreck-It Ralph. During a rant about the fashion industry, West emphatically compared himself to Vanellope von Schweetz, the misunderstood female lead from last year’s Disney feature:

“It’s in my code. Have y’all ever seen Wreck-It Ralph? Remember how that girl in there—the people that was racing—she was the glitch. You tellin’ me they don’t look at me like the motherfucking glitch? You tellin’ me people don’t look at Kanye West like the glitch right now? And she was on the side of the videogame the whole time. It’s in my code.”

When the interviewer mentioned West’s critics, Kanye extended the metaphor by talking about Vanellope’s foes, who tried to keep prevent her from participating in the race by breaking her kart. “Yeah, they broke Vanellope’s car,” West responded. “Vanellope von Schweetz, they broke her car.”

Kanye’s appreciation and knowledge of animation is no secret. He commissioned indie animation director Bill Plympton to direct one of his videos, and has referenced Ralph Bakshi as the inspiration for another of his videos.

Here’s the segment queued up:

[UPDATE]: After we posted this on Twitter, a reader suggested that someone should draw Kanye as Vanellope von Schweetz. The challenge was taken up by Art Vogt:

Book Review: “Animating Your Career” by Steve Hickner

Animating Your Career
By Steve Hickner. Foreword by Don Hahn.
(Brigantine Media, 178 pages, $19.95)
Order: $15.64 on Amazon, $9.99 Kindle edition
Book Website:

While art skills are obviously important to a career in animation, they’re only one thing that influences an artist’s success. As films, TV series and games are large scale operations, often employing hundreds of artists and costing millions of dollars, an artist needs to know how to work in a group and meet the needs of a production. If artists have any ambition, they also need to figure out how to improve their opportunities at the same time they are busy meeting deadlines.

Steve Hickner’s career in animation began shooting pencil tests at Filmation. From this inauspicious beginning, he parlayed hard work, ambition and a good grasp of studio politics to advance himself and produce films like Balto and to co-direct Prince of Egypt and Bee Movie. His book, Animating Your Career collects the wisdom he has accumulated along the way. His advice is field-tested and worth reading.

Part one of the book is entitled “Making Your Dream Happen,” and focuses on having a correct attitude, taking advantage of opportunities, managing your time and seeking out mentors. It’s aimed at artists who are still struggling to establish themselves. The advice in this part of the book doesn’t break new ground, but Hickner backs it up with stories from the productions that he’s worked on, so these truisms are reinforced with concrete examples.

Part two is entitled “Leading and Growing.” While less useful to beginning artists, this is where the book really shines. Artists who are promoted to management positions often find themselves in unknown waters. To quote Hickner:

“Although our new department managers may have spent years training to be at the top of their artistic disciplines, they were expected to step into a role as a leader without any training whatsoever. No wonder so many of them (myself included) were floundering. No reasonable leader would expect a person to grab a brush and paint a magnificent landscape without any previous experience, and yet here we were asking our best artists to become managers without the slightest instruction. Promoting people without any training is absurd, but that same mistake is repeated in company after company.”

Hickner also differentiates between managers and leaders.

“Managers control resources, and that usually means people, equipment and money. Leaders, on the other hand, guide and lift up the employees. They have the ability to focus people on a task and imbue the job with a higher sense of purpose.”

Management has a huge impact on the working environment and the visual quality of a project. Even experienced supervisors would benefit from this half of the book. Once again, Hickner backs up his advice with examples from the many projects he’s had a hand in managing.

In short, Animating Your Career is a manual on how to be a good soldier in the animation army. There are other worthy ambitions in animation, but if this is what you aspire to, Hickner’s book is a comprehensive guide to making you valuable to your company as an artist and as a manager.

MARK MAYERSON has worked as an animator, writer, producer and director in TV animation for 29 years. He created the CGI series Monster By Mistake. He currently teaches animation at Sheridan College. Visit his blog

DrawnCon Animation Convention is Coming to New England

If you’re like us, then you probably didn’t think you needed another pop culture convention to choose from? Well, that was before we heard about DrawnCon, a brand new convention created especially for the creators and fans of Western animation. Coming to the Nashua Radisson Hotel on November 2 and 3, it will focus on the current crop of popular animated shows on TV and online—My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic, Bravest Warriors, Gravity Falls, Young Justice, and the like:

“From the Saturday morning cartoons you remember as a kid, to modern favorites like Adventure Time and Archer, Western animation is undeniably one of the most popular and commercially successful genres in the North American market. The question of what makes it so successful, however, stems from a number of points—the accessibility; the dedication of the content creators; the vast amount of material available – it’s impossible to pigeonhole.”

The grassroots event will feature everything you’ve come to expect and love from organized gatherings of its kind, including animation culture roundtables, costume contests, special guests including Bravest Warriors character designer Bob Flynn and Emmy-nominated voice actor Jessica DiCicco (Adventure Time, Pound Puppies, Gravity Falls) and events like the DrawnConcert, a Saturday night rave featuring DJ Alex S., DJ Calcos, and Exploding Heart Technique.

Tickets can be pre-ordered on the DrawnCon website ($45 for adults and free for children under 13) and visit the official DrawnCon Facebook and Twitter pages for event updates.

Weekend Groove: New Music Videos from Spain, France, US and UK

Another installment in our semi-regular roundup of interesting, creative and original animated music videos.

“A Lifestory” directed and animated by Nacho Rodriguez (Spain)

Music video for Indoven
Objects and backgrounds by Sara López

“Allaxis” directed by Wasaru (France)

Music video for Kaly Live Dub
Illustrations: Jérémy Couturier, Jébédaï
Car consultant & vectorization: Kurt602
Animation: David Cazeaux, David Decobert, Marion Delannoy, Jean-Philippe Florin

“Herbivore” album trailer designed and animated by Jacob 2-2 and Samuel Rhodes (US)

Album trailer for Jacob 2-2
Photography by Miguel Drake-McLaughlin

“PPSD” directed by Arno Salters (France/UK)

Music video for Burning House
Animation by Joseph Pierce
Choreographed & performed by Olivier Casamayou
Edited by Paul Hardcastle
Produced by Greg Panteix

Audiences Eat Up $34 Million Worth of “Meatballs”

Sony Pictures Animation’s Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs 2 opened in the United States this weekend in first place with a gross of $34 million. Its debut was stronger than the original film’s $30.3M opening, but its per-theater fell by 10%. Directed by Cody Cameron and Kris Pearn, its opening was noticeably weaker than Sony’s last film, Genndy Tartakovsky’s Hotel Translyvania, which premiered on the same weekend last year with $42.5 million. Cloudy 2 has a bright future ahead of it though. No animated family films will open until November 1, when Relativity releases Free Birds.

Artist of the Day: Thomas Wellmann

Thomas Wellmann

Thomas Wellmann is a freelance cartoonist who lives in Münster, Germany. Thomas creates illustrations, comics, and in an unusual continent-spanning collaboration, he has co-storyboarded several recent episodes of Adventure Time with Echo Park-based Jesse Moynihan.

Thomas Wellmann

Thomas Wellmann

On his Vine videos, Thomas demonstrates his comic inking work that nicely replicates the look of a traditional ink line.

Thomas Wellmann

Thomas Wellmann

You can visit Thomas’s portfolio and blog for more drawings and comics.

Thomas Wellmann

Thomas Wellmann

Thomas Wellmann

Thomas Wellmann

Open Road Releases “The Nut Job” Trailer

The animated trailers won’t stop this week. Today we have The Nut Job, which will open on January 17, 2014. Directed by veteran CG animator Peter Lepeniotis, The Nut Job is based on a short film he made in 2005 called Surly Squirrel. Lepeniotis also co-wrote the screenplay for this new film with Lorne Cameron.

The $45 million 3D CGI film is a South Korean/Canadian co-production between ToonBox Entertainment, Redrover, Ltd and Gulfstream Pictures. It will be distributed by Open Road Films, a joint venture of theater chains AMC and Regal.

Roger Rabbit Returns In “Who Wacked Roger Rabbit?”

Roger Rabbit is back! The character, which began its life in an adult-oriented novel written by Gary K. Wolf, will return in a new novel titled Who Wacked Roger Rabbit? It will be released exclusively as an e-book on November 29 by Musa Publishing.

The setting of this new novel—Wolf’s third starring Roger—is the Cartoon Strip, a gritty black-and-white area of Toontown where “toons go to be discovered.” The new characters on the cover are Willy Prosciutto (“the porcine crime lord of Toontown”), Honey Graham (“Willy P.’s moll”) and the dog Mutt. Eddie Valiant is portrayed by author Gary Wolf, who also appeared on the cover of the first Roger Rabbit novel Who Censored Roger Rabbit?

The cover is drawn by Jacques Muller, who was an animator on Who Framed Roger Rabbit, and more recently animated on Sylvain Chomet’s The Illusionist.

Here’s the storyline:

Hard-boiled gumshoe Eddie Valiant lands a plum job as Gary Cooper’s bodyguard while Coop scouts locations for his next movie—a screwball comedy titled Hi, Toon! But Eddie’s dream job quickly turns into a nightmare. The film’s being shot in Toontown, and Coop’s co-star turns out to be none other than Roger Rabbit. Eddie’s a big fan of Coop. Of Roger? Not so much.

A sinister hoodlum threatens to murder Coop if the movie gets made. Before long, Eddie, Coop, Roger, and the ever-glamorous Jessica Rabbit are embroiled in a mystery that could destroy Toontown. When Roger bites off more Toonish trouble than Eddie can swallow, the answer to the question Who Wacked Roger Rabbit? swiftly becomes no laughing matter.

Pixar Veterans Launch ToyTalk’s First App “The Winston Show”

When Oren Jacob left his post as CTO at Pixar to start ToyTalk, it wasn’t clear what kinds of projects the new company would undertake. Along with co-founder Martin Reddy, who formerly led software development teams at Pixar, Jacob hinted at interactive apps that kids could communicate with back and forth. Now, the company has released its first project: The Winston Show, an iPad app that falls somewhere between a game and an interactive television show. Aimed at kids around the ages of 6 and 7, the app uses press-and-hold technology to allow players to talk to the game’s characters and receive answers in real time.

In an interview with TechCrunch, Jacob said that he was inspired by watching children talk back to their televisions while watching Blue’s Clues and other shows where characters consistently break the fourth wall. The ToyTalk team took an approach similar to the process of creating an animated film: voice talent, animators, modelers and writers were assembled under the guidance of the company’s director, Bobby Podesta, also a former Pixar employee.

During the process, Podesta led the team in developing an automated lip syncing technique based on speech recognition that will accommodate the thousands of lines of dialogue each character must have to respond to the user’s verbal input. “With more than six hours of content in the app, we knew it would be too much dialog to animate all the lip sync by hand,” Podesta told Digital Media World. “With this in mind, we developed a way to take the show’s character dialog, extract the phonemes from the audio performance, and assign mouth shapes that would then be animated programatically.”

One of the greatest strengths of The Winston Show is that it’s designed to accommodate constant tweaks and improvement from the ToyTalk team. If a child interacting with the game says something that Winston doesn’t understand, he’ll give an appropriate generic response, and the app will record and notify ToyTalk of the instance. And since the app’s recorded dialogue is stored in the cloud, the company can access and update the characters’ dialogue as needed.

The Winston Show may be hard to categorize, but hopefully it’s a sign of things to come. The groundwork for animators jumping into interactive game design was laid thirty years ago with the release of Don Bluth’s Dragon’s Lair. That game was far ahead of its time, but now it seems technology is finally catching up—apps are proving to be an excellent experimental space for new media. Considering nearly one third of ToyTalk’s employees once worked at Pixar, it’s a company worth keeping an eye on as it brings a new perspective of storytelling and design to gaming.

“Le Gouffre” Looks Beautiful and Was Made by Just 3 Artists

When French Canadian animators David Forest, Carl Beauchemin and Thomas Chrétien started a Kickstarter for their short film Le Gouffre earlier this month, they set a modest budget of $5,000 Canadian. The figure was just enough to cover the costs of completing the eight minute piece, which they have been working on full-time since quitting their jobs in January 2012.

The film, about two travelers building a bridge across a vast chasm, reached 200% of its funding goal in less than two days, and has gone on to raise over $19,000, or nearly 400% of its goal. Picking up attention from sites like Branchez-vous and the Québécois edition of The Huffington Post, as well as being featured as “Project of the Day” on the Kickstarter website and receiving a contribution of $1,000 from the animation department of the trio’s alma mater, Cégep du Vieux-Montréal.

Work-in-progress clips and images of Le Gouffre are being posted on the team’s production blog, including the progression of a more “painterly style” that they are attempting to add to the look of the production, by way of reprojection camera techniques.

With the campaign running until October 9th, the trio has set their stretch goal at $20,000 to help enter the film into festivals, launch their next project, and assist in paying off their debts accumulated during production.

“Alpha and Omega” Was Successful Enough To Get A Sequel

What is director Richard Rich doing nowadays? That’s a question that no one has ever asked before, but I’m going to answer it anyways.

Rich, who at his best may have been a poor man’s Don Bluth, recently finished directing Alpha and Omega 2: A Howl-iday Adventure . It’s a 44-minute direct-to-video sequel to the 2010 theatrical film that grossed over $50 million in worldwide box office and sold over 1.1 million DVD units.

Alpha and Omega 2 is produced by Mumbai, India and Burbank-based studio Crest Animation and will be released on October 8 by Lionsgate Home Entertainment onto Blu-ray, DVD, digital download and video-on-demand. The Blu-ray and DVD will be available exclusively at Walmart.

In the film, husband-and-wife wolves Kate and Humphrey go on some kind of holiday-themed journey with their young cubs—Stinky, Claudette and Runt—presumably in search of less clichéd names…or perhaps to learn some ready-made lesson about the importance of family. Who knows? I honestly don’t care and I’m pretty sure the people who made the film don’t care either. All they truly want is for harried and weary parents to throw the damn DVD into their Walmart shopping cart and not ask any questions about what it all means. It’ll buy the parents a well-deserved forty-five minutes of peace and quiet, return a few bucks to the film’s investors, and ensure a paycheck to artists while they work for another year to make the third Alpha and Omega. And, so, everyone’s happy.

The trailer guarantees that “the fun is wilder and the adventure is out of control.” This sounds reasonably true assuming that you’ve never experienced either fun or adventure. Watch the trailer if you must:

Nick Greenlights New Series by C. H. Greenblatt, Dave Cooper and Johnny Ryan [UPDATED]

Nickelodeon announced this afternoon that they’ve greenlit two new series: Bad Seeds (above) by C. H. Greenblatt (Chowder) and Pig Goat Banana Cricket from the team of illustrator/comic artists Dave Cooper and Johnny Ryan. Twenty-six episodes of each show will be produced out of Nick’s animation studio in Burbank, California.

Online reaction may have played a role in Nick’s decision to greenlight Pig Goat Banana Cricket for series production. The teaser pilot for the show was posted online in August 2012, a couple years after it had been made, and the positive response led to renewed interest from the network, according to co-creator Ryan.

Here are the official descriptions of the shows:

Harvey, a sweet and well-meaning bird, makes two new best friends, Fee and Foo, the wildest kids in the forest. Although their friendship seems unlikely, their connection only grows as they push each other out of their comfort zones and into endless adventures. Created, written and directed by C.H. Greenblatt (SpongeBob SquarePants, Chowder).

This show features a series of absurd interwoven stories about four friends and roommates, Pig (the fool), Goat (the artist), Banana (the wise-guy) and Cricket (the brain). Created by Dave Cooper and J. Ryan and executive produced by David Sacks (The Simpsons, Regular Show) who co-writes with J. Ryan. Dave Cooper also art directs the series and the pilot was directed by independent animator Nick Cross.

In addition, Nick announced two new animated series pickups for its Nick app:
WELCOME TO THE WAYNE—An animated comedy about two adventurers set in the lobby of the weirdest apartment building on the planet. Created and written by Billy Lopez (The Wonder Pets!).

JUNIOR EYE—Three junior high school friends are committed to solving the myths that plague their classmates’ daily lives. Created by Will and Aaron Eisenberg, whose previous project (Eric Finley: Comment Counselor) won Ashton Kutcher’s “Dream Bigger” filmmaking competition.

[UPDATE—Thurs, 11:55pm ET]: A source at Nickelodeon tells Cartoon Brew that Bad Seeds and Pig Goat Banana Cricket were in the running against four other series pilots, including two by Butch Hartman (creator of The Fairly OddParents, Danny Phantom) and one by Jorge Gutierrez (co-creator of El Tigre: The Adventures of Manny Rivera). The source made clear that though those other shows weren’t greenlit, some of them may still be pushed into series at some point in the future. Here’s a look at the six shows that were being developed internally at Nick. Click for bigger image:

Disney Releases “Frozen” Trailer

Disney has released the full theatrical trailer for Frozen, directed by Chris Buck and Jennifer Lee. The trailer emphasizes action including wolf chases, blizzards, snowmonsters, sorcery, and mountain climbing. It’s quite a change of pace from how Disney marketed its princess films as recently as four years ago, and that’s not necessarily a bad thing.

Tech Director Nathan Loofbourrow Is Elected Animation Guild President

DreamWorks technical director Nathan Loofbourrow was elected without opposition as President of the Los Angeles animation union Animation Guild, Local 839 IATSE. Prior to this, Loofbourrow was the Guild’s vice-president. The outgoing president Bob Foster will run for the executive board.

Jack Thomas, a writer for DreamWorks Television and current board member, was elected as the Guild’s new Vice-President, and longtime Guild business rep Steve Hulett was re-elected to his position. Both ran without opposition.

The Guild will announce the election winners for its Executive Board in November. There are fifteen candidates to fill eleven positions. In addition to Foster, the nominees include incumbents Bronwen Barry, John Cataldi, Nicole Dubuc, Janette Hulett, Cathy Jones, Gordon Kent and Eugene Son, plus former Board member Russell Calabrese and newcomers David Chlystek, Bill Flores, David Gemmill, Larry Smith, Robert St. Pierre and Dave Thomas.

GKIDS Sets November Release for “Approved for Adoption”

The critically acclaimed French/Belgian animated documentary Approved for Adoption has lined up some US release dates. Distributor GKIDS will open the film beginning November 8 at the Angelika Film Center in New York, and November 22 at Laemmle Music Hall in LA. Expansion to other cities will follow. The film, directed by Jung Henin and Laurent Boileau, has picked up numerous awards on the festival circuit, including the Audience and UNICEF awards at Annecy in 2012.

Adapted from Jung’s graphic novel Couleur de Peau: Miel (Color of Skin: Honey), Approved for Adoption recounts the upbringing of Jung, who was among the thousands of Korean children adopted by Western families after the end of the Korean War:

It is the story of a boy stranded between two cultures. Sepia-toned animated vignettes – some humorous and some poetic – track Jung from the day he first meets his new blond siblings, through elementary school, and into his teenage years, when his emerging sense of identity begins to create fissures at home and ignite the latent biases of his adoptive parents. The filmmaker tells his story using his own animation intercut with snippets of super-8 family footage and archival film. The result is a memoir like no other: clear-eyed and unflinching, humorous and wry, and above all, inspiring in the capacity of the human heart.

Sony Will Release R-Rated Animated Film “Sausage Party”

American feature animation just got a little more adult. Sony Pictures will release its first R-rated animated film in 2015. The CG pic, Sausage Party, is being written by actor Seth Rogen, along with Evan Goldberg, Kyle Hunter and Ariel Shaffir. This will become the first wide-release R-rated US animated feature since the 2007 movie based on Adult Swim’s Aqua Teen Hunger Force.

Sausage Party will be helmed by Conrad Vernon, the co-director of Shrek 2, Madagascar 3 and Monsters vs Aliens, and Greg Tiernan, the director of the TV series Thomas the Tank Engine & Friends. Nitrogen Studios Canada in Vancouver will handle the animation production.

The film, which is being described by its producers as “raunchy,” will star a sausage on a quest to discover the truth about his existence:

After falling out of a shopping cart, the hero sausage and his new friends embark on a journey through the supermarket to get back to their aisles before the 4th of July sale.

Co-financing on the film is being provided by Annapurna Pictures, the production company run by Megan Ellison, the daughter of billionaire Larry Ellison.

(NSFW) “Ketsujiru Juke” by Sawako Kabuki

Sawako Kabuki’s short film Ketsujiru Juke (Anal Juke—Anal Juice) has been garnering attention on the festival circuit after screenings at Annecy and Ottawa this year. Kabuki produced the film at Tokyo’s Tama Art University using music by Seinosuke Saeki (hi-quality soundtrack here). Student filmmakers (and even professionals) often try to be self-consciously weird by slapping together a bunch of random ideas and hoping for some kind of outrageous effect, but with Japanese filmmakers, I just don’t know. This film is less weird than it should be and somehow makes perfect sense.

Kabuki explains:

After breaking up with my ex-boyfriend, I was heartbroken but I had to think about the theme for my next animation film. Just then I had a dream of this ex-boyfriend. This animation film is based on that dream. In Japan, on 11th March 2011, we had great earthquakes and aftershocks followed over and over. And not only earthquakes but also how to face the nuclear power is one of the hottest issues in our country. I think that dream is the mixture of this charged atmosphere of Japan and my heartbreaking depression. So I “re-mixed” what I had in my head. By the way, he used to like enema. So in this song, the word of “ass” and its related words are fluttering. All of these are linked to the memories of him so I decided to use this song. In that dream the face of my ex-boyfriend was not clear, so in this animation, his face is drawn just like “ass”.

If there is one lesson to learn from this short, it’s don’t be the ex-boyfriend of Sawako Kabuki.

“Minions” Film Delayed Until 2015

Illumination Entertainment and Universal Pictures have moved the release date of the Minions spin-off movie from December 19, 2014 to July 10, 2015. The decision was made to ensure a better film. Just kidding. Variety reports that they’re moving the date to “enable Universal to fully exploit the film as a summer tentpole that lends itself to a vast consumer products program, games and theme park promotions.” In other words, they need more time to make fart guns.

Microsoft Surface Pro Tablet Review by Christy Karacas

Editor’s Note: Last Friday, we posted about how Microsoft has recruited Superjail! co-creator Christy Karacas to promote their Surface tablets. The video that Christy starred in was nicely produced, but noticeably short on details about how he uses it and what he thinks of it. Thankfully, Christy left a terrifically informative comment on that post in which he shared his thoughts about the Surface tablet. With his permission, we are republishing his review below. It’s particularly timely, too, since tomorrow in New York City, Microsoft will unveil the new Surface 2 and Surface Pro 2 tablets.

Microsoft Surface Pro Tablet Review by Christy Karacas

For people who want to know, I think it’s a great tablet and I have been using it very often during Superjail! season four production. I use it for sketching/thumbing/boarding on the go. The most important thing I’m looking for in a tablet is a natural drawing experience/interface. I use a Wacom Cintiq to make Superjail!, which is great in my opinion, but obviously that’s a big and powerful non-mobile workstation I can’t take with me.

If you download the Wacom driver for the Surface tablet, the pen pressure/sensitivity is great and I’ve had no latency issues—meaning you can draw very quick and fast which I like to do—and the line doesn’t lag behind the actual pen in your hand. This was a problem I had with previous tablets/laptops.

Prior to this, I owned a Toshiba Portege tablet PC, and used it often to thumb/board during season one. The pressure sensitivity on it kind of sucked and so did the speed, but I would still use it as an option when not in the office or out of town. After season one, I stopped using it. (It was also very heavy and huge by today’s standards…haha). I would only work at the office or home and if I thumbed outside of work, I would do it on paper and then re-draw it in Flash which was kind of a pain in the ass. But when boarding, I like to get away from the office sometimes. I love storyboarding in cafes or bars so I can let my mind wander, people watch, get ideas, etc. I work so often I find a change of workspace inspiring and necessary.

As far as ‘negatives,’ I honestly don’t have any. My biggest hurdle was getting used to Windows 8 as I have a Mac at work and still run Windows Vista at home. I wasn’t used to the ’tiles’ system that is the interface of Surface, but it was just a matter of getting used to it. There is an automatic brightness sensor so when I was drawing sometimes my hand would cover the tablet and the screen brightness would change, but I just disabled that setting so it’s not an issue.

I haven’t and don’t think I would use the Surface for full animation because of its screen size (being a tablet) but I wouldn’t really want to animate in a public space anyways. I would want to work in the quiet of my room or studio. But I do really like storyboarding/thumbnailing in active cafes/bars/even the subway-I don’t know why but I get really good ideas in the subway—and for that, the Surface is great. I boarded a huge chunk of the premiere of Superjail! season 4 on the airplane to San Diego Comic-Con. I was able to email the .FLA file to my storyboard team right on the plane directly from the tablet—super convenient and allows me to get work done, send it to the storyboard artists and keep production flowing while I’m away. The battery life also impressed me—better than my iPhone which I seem to have to charge twice a day.

I think iPads look really nice, but they don’t have the pen driver support, only those blunt ‘stylus’ type pen interfaces that I can’t stand. Also, the iPad can only run apps, not true software like Flash which I need to make Superjail! I know there are more and more tablets on the market these days so there are probably going to be lots of new options.

The Microsoft guys approached me and let me play with it, I loved it and agreed to do the video. Also I have to say that I am really sick of Mac constantly updating their OS. It’s really annoying, and for some reason I find Flash runs better on PC. My PC at home has NEVER crashed making this show—not once! But the Macs at work sometimes do crash when we have a really heavy file. Flash really wan’t designed to do this kind of animation, but that’s a whole other discussion.

So yeah, for directors and storyboard artists, or anyone who wants to sketch digitally away from their workstation with a really sensitive natural pen interface, the Surface has worked out really great for me and I love using it.

“Lonely Bones” and “Tito on Ice” Win Top Prizes at Ottawa Int’l Animation Festival

Tonight in Canada, the Ottawa International Animation Festival held the awards ceremony for its 2013 edition. The top prize for short film was presented to Dutch filmmaker Rosto for Lonely Bones (pictured above). The best animated feature was awarded to Tito on Ice by Swedish filmmakers Max Andersson and Helena Ahonen, while the television prizes were divided between Archer for adult animation and The Regular Show for children’s programming.

The complete list of winners is below:

The Nelvana GRAND PRIZE for Best Short Animation:
Lonely Bones by Rosto (France, the Netherlands)

The 2013 GRAND PRIZE for Best Animated Feature:
Tito on Ice by Max Andersson & Helena Ahonen (Sweden)

Honorable Mention:
The Boy and the World (O Menino e o Mundo) by Alê Abreu (Brazil)

Public Prize:
But Milk is Important by Eirik Grønmo Bjørndrn & Anna Mantazaris (Norway)

The 2013 Canadian Film Institute (CFI) Award for Best Canadian Animation:
Two Weeks – Two Minutes by Judith Poirier (Canada)

Honorable Mentions to:
The Clockmakers (Les Horlogers) by Renaud Hallee (Canada)
Crossing Victoria by Steve Woloshen (Canada)

Best Narrative Short Animation:
Oh Willy… by Emma De Swaef & Mark James Roels (Belgium, France, Netherlands, Luxembourg)

Best Experimental/ Abstract Animation:
Virtuoso Virtual by Thomas Stellmach & Maja Oschmann (Germany)

Walt Disney Award for Best Graduation Animation:
But Milk is Important by Eirik Grønmo Bjørndrn & Anna Mantazaris (Norway)

Honorable Mention to:
Youkosobokudesu Selection ‘Na Ni Nu Ne No No’ by Manabu Himeda (Japan)

Best Undergraduate Animation:
Rollin’ Safari by Kyra Buschor, Constantin Paeplow & Anna Habermehl (Germany)

Best High School Animation:
Abduction Milk Cow by Shin Hye Kim, Woo Sol Lee & Hyun Ji Yoon (South Korea)

Best Animation School Showreel:
TAMA ART University

Best Canadian Student Animation:
Wind & Tree by Konstantin Steshenko (Canada) from Emily Carr University

Honorable Mention to:
Blackout by Sharron Mirsky (Canada) from Concordia University

Best Promotional Animation:
50e Anniversaire de la Cinémathèque Québécoise by Diane Obomsawin (Canada)

Best Music Video:
Stuck in the Sound ‘Let’s Go’ by Alexis Beaumont & Rémi Godin (France)

Best TV Animation for Adults:
Archer ‘Coyote Lovely’ by Bryan Fordney (USA)

Best Short Animation for Children:
Written By A Kid ‘La Munkya’ by Roque Ballesteros

Honorable Mentions to:
Tome Of the Unknown by Patrick McHale (USA)
The Little Blonde Boy With a White Sheep (Le petit blond avec le mouton blanc) by Eloi Henriod

Best TV Animation for Children:
Regular Show ‘A Bunch of Full Grown Geese by JG Quintel (USA)

Honorable Mentions to:
Adventure Time ‘A Glitch Is A Glitch’ by David OReilly (USA)
SpongeBob SquarePants ‘It’s A SpongeBob Christmas!’ by Mark Caballero & Seamus Walsh (USA)

Microsoft Recruits “Superjail!” Creator Christy Karacas To Sell Surface Tablets [UPDATED]

[UPDATE]: Ready Christy’s review of the Surface Pro tablet.

Animation artists as spokespeople doesn’t happen often, but Microsoft is giving it a shot in anticipation of their launch of Surface Pro 2 tablets next week. To reach visual artists, they produced this online video with Superjail! co-creator Christy Karacas as its star:

Tomorrow in LA: USC Football Game Will Feature “Croods” Musical Performance

Here’s something for the individual who’s torn between watching college football and animation. Tomorrow’s USC versus Utah game will feature a half-time “Tribute to Alan Silvestri” performed by the USC Marching Trojans. Among the selections that will be performed is “Smash & Grab” from DreamWorks’ The Croods. Footage from the film will play on the Los Angeles Coliseum Jumbotron alongside with the live performance.

“Smash & Grab” is one of the film’s most distinctive tracks, appearing in an early scene involving a hunt for food. Directors Chris Sanders and Kirk De Micco (a USC alum, by the way) and composer Silvestri (Forrest Gump, The Avengers, Who Framed Roger Rabbit, Back to the Future) recruited the USC Marching Trojans to perform the track for the film’s score. By comparing the scene in the film to that of a football game, they wanted to underscore that “in the prehistoric world of the Crood family, even getting breakfast is a full contact sport.” As far as I know, this is the first live performance of the piece by the Marching Trojans.

Kickoff time for the USC/Utah game is 3:30pm ET, and it will be broadcast on ABC/ESPN2.

Left to right: Chris Sanders, Art Bartner (Director, Trojan Marching Band), composer Alan Silvestri and Kirk De Micco.

Live-Action TV Director Sues “Johnny Test” Producer For Creator Credit

Veteran primetime television director David Straiton, (House, Grimm, and the upcoming Marvel series Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D) is demanding that a former writing partner, Scott Fellows, compensate him for the joint creation of the animated series Johnny Test, reports Deadline. The animated series, which Fellows is credited as sole creator and executive producer, is about a suburban kid who is frequently used as a scientific test subject by his genius-level twin sisters. Fellows is also the creator of the early Cartoon Network series The Moxy Show and the Nickelodeon live-action series Big Time Rush, and has worked as a staff writer on The Fairly OddParents.

Straiton alleges that he and Fellows created the concept together in 1995 and after an unsuccessful pitch to Nickelodeon, they went their separate ways though they never terminated their joint venture on this project. Then in 2005, without informing or including Straiton, Fellows sold the series to the Kids’ WB, which the show outlived and went on to air on Cartoon Network in the US and on Teletoon in Canada, where the show currently resides in its sixth season.

According to the complaint filed Tuesday in Los Angeles Superior Court (download PDF HERE), Straiton has a good reason for waiting eight years to make his claim. He says in court documents that he has no familiarity with the children’s television market because he is an “adult and primetime drama television director.” Further, even though he has a daughter, she hadn’t seen the show because “his child was not permitted to watch television or movies until this year, pursuant to the rules of her preschool and elementary schools, which adhere to the Waldorf education philosophy.

Last November, Straiton, who only recently began letting his young daughter watch TV, noticed the show in his digital cable directory. He contacted Fellows requesting an accounting of revenues derived from Johnny Test. When Fellows refused to comply, Straiton filed the complaint with the Los Angeles Superior Court accusing Fellows of constructive fraud, breach of fiduciary duty and misaccounting.

Straiton is seeking a fifty percent share of all earnings and compensation received by Fellows in connection with Johnny Test, as well as a co-creator credit, punitive damages and court costs. Straiton, who is demanding a trial jury, is represented by Thomas Brackey and Derek Lemkin of Freund & Brackey LLP.