Wednesday, July 23, 2008

News - 07/23/08...

Derriman Gets Funky With Spider Monkey

We’ve posted probably a half-dozen of Bernard Derriman’s Big Green Rabbit shorts, but none as elaborate as Spider Monkey. This short, animated entirely in Toon Boom, provides a great example of pose-to-pose animation - and a highly entertaining one at that. Derriman injects so much personality and playfulness into his shorts, it’s no wonder his Big Green Rabbit films have been watched almost 3 million times on YouTube alone.

Derriman Gets Funky With Spider Monkey

We’ve posted probably a half-dozen of Bernard Derriman’s Big Green Rabbit shorts, but none as elaborate as Spider Monkey. This short, animated entirely in Toon Boom, provides a great example of pose-to-pose animation - and a highly entertaining one at that. Derriman injects so much personality and playfulness into his shorts, it’s no wonder his Big Green Rabbit films have been watched almost 3 million times on YouTube alone.

The Lion King among greatest Shakespeare movies

The Lion King, which was loosely based on the tale of Hamlet, has earned a spot on Rotten Tomatoes' list of greatest Shakespeare movies. The list, which consists of 30 different films based on the works of Shakespeare, places The Lion King at number eight with a rating of 92%. “Richly drawn and beautifully animated, The Lion King stands among Disney’s pantheon of classic family films,” the critical consensus states.

From the Animation Guild Blog, via Tom Sito's blog:

Charlie Downs, 1927-2008

Charlie Downs, from the June 1960 Peg-Board, by Ric Gonzalez

Animator Charles Downs, Local 839's last known living charter member, first Sergeant-At-Arms and a past president and vice-president, passed away the evening of July 21st of heart failure. He was eighty-one years old.

Charlie "Red" Downs (so nicknamed for his hair, not his politics) graduated from Chouinard Art School after wartime naval service, beginning his animation career at Disney in 1951. Part of Ward Kimball's unit, he worked on both Mars and Beyond and Toot, Whistle, Plunk and Boom. On working for Kimball he related:

"When you worked for Ward, you did everything. Storyboards, designing, backgrounds. And you animated and painted cels.

"One day I showed him a pencil test. He looked at it and said 'Well, it isn't the way I'd do it, but it works. Cut it in' ..."

After nearly 10 years at Disney (where he assisted on Peter Pan, briefly animated on 101 Dalmatians), Downs moved to U.P.A., to animate on The Mr. Magoo Show and Bob Clampett's Snowball Productions, where he animated on The Beany and Cecil Show. Through a large part of the sixties, he animated on Jay Ward projects, principally Ward's Cap'n Crunch commercials. At the same time, he was a lead animator for DePatie-Freleng, also animating for Hanna-Barbera on television and feature projects.

Returning to Disney, Downs worked in Les Clark's educational unit, then worked as a directing animator on Ward Kimball's uncompleted featurette Bingo.

From the 1970s into the 1990s, Downs moved back and forth between television and theatrical productions. A directing animator on Richard Williams' Raggedy Ann and Andy, he also animated on The Black Cauldron, Coonskin, Heidi's Song and Jetsons, the Movie. Between feature assignments, he worked on t.v. episodes ranging from The Flintstones, to Scooby Doo, G.I. Joe and Tiny Toon Adventures.

Downs retired from the industry in 1992, thereafter receiving the Animation Guild's Golden Award. He leaves two daughters, Janette and Lynda, along with two grandchildren.

New Hi-Res Image From "Batman: The Brave and The Bold"

Cartoon Network had provided The World's Finest with a new hi-res image from Batman: The Brave and The Bold.

Click on the thumbnail below for a closer look.

The image features Batman and Aquaman battling Black Manta. As previously reported, Diedrich Bader will provide the voice for Batman, and John DiMaggio will provide the voice for Aquaman.

Stay tuned for further updates

The Dark Knight Adds $24.5M on Monday

Warner Bros. Pictures' The Dark Knight added another $24.5 million on Monday from 4,366 theaters to bring its domestic total to $182.9 million after just four days.

It marks the fourth-highest Monday of all-time, trailing just Pirates of the Caribbean: At World's End ($25.1 million), Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull ($26.8 million) and Spider-Man 2 ($27.7 million).

The fastest a movie has hit the $200 million is eight days, and it looks like The Dark Knight will do it in five days, or at the most six days depending on Tuesday's box office result.

Made for about $185 million, Christopher Nolan's Batman Begins follow-up has earned $224.2 million worldwide so far.

A History of Batman on TV

The Dark Knight's small screen past.

The Dark Knight arrived in movie theaters this pastweekend, in one of the most critically acclaimed sequels in recent memory (currently at 93% Fresh on Rotten Tomatoes).

This fall, Batman returns to television in Cartoon Network's Batman: The Brave and the Bold, which promises to feature "nonstop action and adventure with a touch of comic relief." Making appearances in the series will be Blue Beetle, Green Arrow, and Aquaman.

In celebration of the release of the Caped Crusader's latest cinematic feat, IGN TV is taking you on a history trip through the Batman's television adventures on the small screen so far, both live-action and animated.

"Batman" Actor Arrested

"Holy felony charges, Batman!" E! Online reports that The Dark Knight actor Christian Bale has been in jail for allegedly assaulting his mother and sister at a London hotel on Sunday night.

Bale stayed in jail for four hours and was released on bail. He is due to return to London in September, pending further inquiries. Bale was in London on a press tour promoting The Dark Knight.

AWN Talks to Kirk De Micco and John H. Williams about "Space Chimps"

Animation World Network has spoken with writer/director Kirk De Micco and producer John H. Williams about Space Chimps, their new feature film which opened last Friday. De Micco and Williams discuss what inspired the movie, how they aspire to be the Airplane! of sci-fi movies, and the benefits and limitations of feature film production for 25% of the budget of the average Pixar or DreamWorks movie.

MyToons Secures Venture Funding today announced the completion of its second round of funding led by Syncom Venture Partners and Barshop Ventures. The capital will be used to support MyToons’ continued technology infrastructure development and revenue growth, as well as expanded global partnerships. Launched in spring of 2007, provides global content creators with a platform to promote and share their original animations, artwork, and games with animators, enthusiasts and fans world-wide.

“MyToons presents a tremendous opportunity to address an underserved niche in the on-line content marketplace,” said Herb Wilkins, General Partner at Syncom. “The MyToons team has a clear view of what both animators and consumers are craving, and is moving quickly to deliver key services to address those needs. We look forward to helping take MyToons from early-adoption to mainstream consumption.”

MyToons recently became the first animation-focused website to launch full-resolution HD streaming - part of MyToons’ unique and proprietary technology portfolio under development for several years. Today, the MyToons community has 10,000 contributing members, over 12,000 properties, and is quickly aggregating high-resolution HD animation content thanks to its current “Get with the Times” HD Animation Contest. Working with MyToons, animation content creators can promote themselves and their work at a streamed quality level that is unrivaled on the Internet.

We are thrilled to have Syncom Venture Partners join the MyToons team,” said Dan Kraus, CEO & Co-Founder of MyToons. “We now have two of the premier media venture capital firms as partners, as well as a world-class group of advisors as we look to improve and accelerate the ways animators distribute and profit from their content."

Robot Chicken Star Wars Hits Disc

Adult Swim’s hit stop-motion series takes aim at George Lucas’ space opera with Robot Chicken: Star Wars, which arrives on home video today after some delay. The disc was pushed back to coincide with various Lucasfilm activities, including its presence at the San Diego Comic-Con and the August theatrical release of the CG-animated epic Star Wars: The Clone Wars but now fans can finally add it to their collections. Also debuting on disc today are Transformers Cybertron: The Ultimate Collection, Comedy Central’s TV Funhouse, the 1990 animated movie The Marzipan Pig and a big collection of 600 classic cartoons.

A loving tribute and spoof from Robot Chicken creators Seth Green and Matthew Senreich, Robot Chicken: Star Wars is a half-hour special that features the voices of Star Wars creator George Lucas, Mark “Luke Skywalker” Hamill, talk show host Conan O'Brien, Family Guy creator Seth MacFarlane, former wrestler Hulk Hogan and others. Green directed the special and produced with Senreich through their Stoopid Monkey Prods., along with Alex Bulkley’s and Corey Campodonico's ShadowMachine Films.

The Robot Chicken: Star Wars DVD is available for the suggested retail price of $14.97. Bonus features include behind-the-scenes featurettes, more than two hours of commentary, an animation meeting, deleted scenes, alternate audio, time-lapse sequences, a photo gallery, video of the Star Wars Celebration IV Convention panel presentation, trailers and a sketch-by-sketch commentary track dubbed “Chicken Nuggets.”

Cybertron, the Trasformers home planet is on the brink of destruction by a black hole in the series Transformers: Cybertron. To save their world, Optimus Prime and his fellow Autobots set out on an intergalactic scavenger hunt to find the lost Cyber Planet Keys before they fall into the hands of the evil Decepticons. The keys have the power to unlock Cybertron itself, creating the greatest Transformer the universe has ever seen. This Gonzo-produced series first aired on Cartoon Network in 2005.The seven-disc set carries a suggested retail price of $59.98.

Warner Bros. Home Entertainment has put out a two-disc set featuring all eight uncensored episodes of Comedy Central’s TV Funhouse, a short-lived series that combined live action, puppets and animation. Playing like a twisted kids’ show for adults, the show has host Doug presenting themed shows with help from his puppeted Anipals. The series spun off from creator Robert Smigel’s animated “Saturday TV Funhouse” segment of NBC’s Saturday Night Live. Featuring commentary by the creators and the Anipals, appearances by Triumph the Insult Comic Dog on Comedy Central, dirty outtakes, behind-the-scenes footage and commentary by the Anipals, the set carries a list price of $28.49.

Animated by award-winning producer-director Michael Sporn, The Marzipan Pig is based on the award-winning book by Russell Hoban. Tim Curry narrates the tale of a marzipan pig who is lost when he falls behind the sofa. In his loneliness, the pig's feelings of love reach out, in a strange chain of events, to an owl, a mouse and a hibiscus flower. Extras include the short Jazztime Talk, narrated by Ruby Dee. First Run is also releasing another Michael Sporn classic, Abel’s Island (1988) which was nominated for an Emmy. This adaptation of a beloved book by William Steig, this beautifully animated piece centers on a mouse who’s separated from his wife during a terrible rainstorm. Curry also narrates this piece, which is paired with The Dancing Frog. Both DVDs are priced at $14.95.

Mill Creek Ent., a home video distributor that specializes in giving genre fans a lot of bang for their buck by packaging various movies together, gives us the Giant 600 Cartoon Collection. For $29.98, toon lovers get approximately 3,720 minutes of classic cartoon fun featuring such beloved characters as Popeye, Woody Woodpecker, Casper the Friendly Ghost, Betty Boop, Felix the Cat, Little Lulu and Clutch Cargo, The Three Stooges and more. All 600 shorts are bundled together on 12 DVDs.

Watchmen, Spirit Trailers Emerge

Comic book fans can now get their first look at the upcoming major motion picture based on the bestselling graphic novel Watchmen. A trailer has hit the web, offering a glimpse at what appears to be a fairly faithful adaptation by 300 director Zack Snyder. Frank Miller, who wrote the 300 graphic novel, directed a movie based on the classic Will Eisner comic book series The Spirit, which also has an extended trailer available for viewing on the Internet.

Written by Alan Moore and illustrated by Dave Gibbons, the Hugo Award-winning Watchmen was originally published by DC Comics in 1986. The story is set in a time when superheroes have been outlawed and revolves around a group of caped crusaders who struggle with their own personal demons while trying to avert a nuclear war between the United States and Russia.

The movie’s cast includes Patrick Wilson and Jackie Earle Haley, who appeared together in the film Little Children (Haley was nominated for a Best Supporting Actor Oscar) as Nightowl and Rorschach, respectively. Jeffrey Dean Morgan (Supernatural) plays The Comedian, and Malin Akerman (27 Dresses) slips into spandex as Silk Specter. Carla Gugino (Sin City) is Sally Jupiter, the original Silk Spectre, and Matthew Goode is billionaire retired superhero Ozymandias. Billy Crudup (The Good Shepherd) appears as John Osterman and provides the voice of the invincible Dr. Manhattan, a character created with CG animation.

The Warner Bros. pic is produced by Larry Gordon, Lloyd Levin and Deborah Snyder, with Jessica Goodman overseeing for co-financer Legendary Pictures. It is slated to arrive in theaters on March 6, 2009. The trailer can be accessed at the official website,

From the shadows of Central City, The Spirit (Gabriel Macht) tracks The Octopus (Samuel L. Jackson), a cold-blooded killer who murders anyone unfortunate enough to see his face. In addition to saving the city from grotesque villains, our hero must handle a bevy of beautiful women who either want to seduce, love or kill him, as the trailer illustrates. The cast also includes Scarlett Johansson, Eva Mendes, Sarah Paulson, Stana Katic, Dan Lauria, Jaime King, Paz Vega and Louis Lombardi.

Gigi Pritzker and Deborah Del Prete (The Wedding Planner, Suburban Girl) produced The Spirit for Odd Lot Ent., with Lionsgate's president of film production Mike Paseornek producing for Lionsgate, and Michael Uslan (Batman Begins, Constantine) producing for Batfilm. Batfilm co-founder Benjamin Melniker and Steve Maier are exec producers on the project, and Odd Lot's Linda McDonough and Batfilm's F.J. DeSanto are co-producers. See the trailer at

DeAPlaneta Gets Planet 51 for Spain

On the heels of Sony Pictures’ acquisition of U.S. distribution rights to the CG-animated feature film Planet 51 comes word that distributor DeAPlaneta has picked up the flick for Spain. Daily Variety reports today that the Spanish indie has nabbed theatrical and DVD rights, while its Planeta Junior handles merchandising rights. DeAPlaneta served as a co-producer on the movie, along with broadcaster Atena 3 TV, which has been granted free-to-air TV rights.

A production of HandMade Films Int'l and Madrid-based Llion Animation Studios, Planet 51 features the voices of Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson, Jessica Biel, Seann William Scott, Justin Long, Gary Oldman and John Cleese, the film will be released theatrically through Sony's TriStar Pictures on Nov. 20, 2009. A video game based on the pic is also being developed by Llion's parent company, Pyro Studios.

Planet 51 is an invasion story with a twist that revolves around Earthling astronaut Capt. Chuck Baker (Johnson), who causes panic when his spacecraft lands on an alien world that bares a striking resemblance to suburban American in the 1950s. In his efforts to avoid capture and get off the planet, Baker is befriended by a local boy named Lem (Long) and his goofy sidekick, Skiff (Scott). Biel will lend her voice to Neera, Lem's love interest.

The movie was penned by Shrek writer Joe Stillman, who earned an Emmy nomination for his work on the animated FOX TV series King of the Hill, and directed by Jorge Blanco, the lead artist on Pyro's Commandos video game series. Javier Abad and Marcos Martinez, who worked with Blanco on Commandos, are listed as co-directors on the film. Llion's Ignacio Perez Dolset produced the flick with HandMade's Guy Collins. Exec producers include former Nickelodeon head Albie Hecht and Lola Film president Andres Vicente Gomez.

Llion produced Planet 51 for roughly $60 million. HandMade Films is handling worldwide sales.

South Park Season 11 Uncensored in August

Comedy Central Home Entertainment and Paramount Home Entertainment will present the 11th season of South Park uncensored on DVD next month. Featuring the Emmy-nominated three-episode “Imaginationland” story arc, the three-disc collector's edition set will arrive in stores nationwide on Tuesday, Aug. 12, and will also be available at

In addition to visiting Imaginationland, Stan, Kyle, Cartman and Kenny discover the secret behind the Easter Bunny, get head lice, become guitar heroes and have many other adventures in their not-so-sleepy Colorado town. The release will offer all 14 episodes, including “With Apologies to Jesse Jackson,” which has Stan's dad seeking forgiveness after mistakenly using a racial slur on Wheel of Fortune. Bonus materials will include five- to seven-minute mini-commentaries on all episodes by series creators Trey Parker and Matt Stone.

Now in its 12th season, South Park remains the highest-rated series on Comedy Central. The show’s official website can be found at

Imageworks Awards Scholarships

Sony Pictures Imageworks president Tim Sarnoff today announced the company’s second annual scholarship winners. From a record number of applicants, the selection committee chose four students who are currently enrolled full-time at academic institutions affiliated with IPAX, Imageworks and Sony Pictures Animation's Professional Academic Excellence program. The scholarships will help them pursue professional careers in animation, visual effects or technology.

The IPAX scholarship top prize winner is Luis Rodrigo Huerta of Texas A&M. Through the IPAX scholarship fund, Rodrigo will receive tuition money for his master's degree program in visualization at Texas A&M, as well as the online character animation courses he is taking through Animation Mentor.

The other scholarship recipients are Jorge Garcia, a talented character animator from Ringling College of Art & Design; Rogelio Olguin from The School of Visual Arts, who submitted outstanding examples of painting and lighting; and Christian Haniszewski, also from the School of Visual Arts, who demonstrated a keen aptitude for character modeling and rigging.

Scholarships are solely merit-based. The selection committee, consisting of Imageworks visual effects and animation supervisors, producers, executives and recruiters, carefully reviewed each essay, reel and portfolio, looking for the very best use of digital technology and a passion and understanding of visual effects and animation.

"The competition this year was amazing,” says Imageworks' Barry Weiss, senior VP of animation production and artist development. “The work submitted was truly outstanding and the winners represent the best of the best—these are students who we want to track and keep in touch with before, during and after graduation. Our intent is to see these talented students enter the exciting world of animation and visual effects and we hope these artists will want to work at Imageworks and Sony Pictures Animation.”

The IPAX program was created in 2005 under the leadership of Sande Scoredos, exec director of training and artist development at Imageworks. The professional development program is designed to share, extend and expand the Imageworks and Sony Pictures Animation knowledge base. In addition to providing IPAX member schools the opportunity to attend in-house training programs and experience a working production environment, and giving instructors valuable knowledge and skills to take back to the classroom, the program also provides a collaborative global knowledge exchange between member schools and faculty, their students and Imageworks. For more information, go to

ASIFA-Hollywood Comic-Con Schedule of Events 2008

The San Diego Comic-Con July 24th - 27th, 2008

Booth 5334

(To the right of the main entrance, against the lobby side wall.)

ASIFA’s booth this year is completely redesigned, with information on membership, the Annie Awards and the Animation Archive. Members of the ASIFA-Hollywood Board of Directors will be on hand, as well as Annie and Archive organizers. The Animation Archive Database, which includes over 3,000 animated films and 10,000 images will be demonstrated. Stop by and see all the treasures on display!

Booth Schedule

Wednesday July 23rd

8 am Setup: Volunteers needed to help move the displays in and set them up. If you are available to help setup, contact…

6 pm - 9 pm Preview Night: Volunteers may stop by any time to give breaks to the booth workers. Just stop by the booth when you are available.

Thursday, Friday and Saturday July 24th - 26th

9 am - 7 pm ComicCon Public Hours: : Volunteers may stop by any time to give breaks to the booth workers. Just stop by the booth when you are available.

Sunday July 27th

9 am - 5 pm ComicCon Public Hours: : Volunteers may stop by any time to give breaks to the booth workers. Just stop by the booth when you are available.

5 pm Break Down: Volunteers needed to pack up the displays and load them in the car. If you are available to help break down, contact…

Events Schedule

Thursday July 24th

10 - 11 am: CLICK & CLACK’S AS THE WRENCH TURNS ASIFA-Hollywood Vice President, Tom Sito hosts a behind-the-scenes look at PBS’s new primetime cartoon based on the radio show “Car Talk”. Also scheduled are Bill Kroyer, Stephen Silver, Floyd Norman, Helen Jen, Tom Minton and Howard Grossman. Room 2

2 - 3:30 pm: ANIMATION ON A SHOESTRING- ASIFA-Hollywood Board Member, Larry Loc offers tips and advice to do it yourself animators on how to achieve bang for the buck. Room 30CDF

8pm: CLICK & CLACK PARTY- Private Party to celebrate PBS’s new television series based on the radio show, “Car Talk” at the ASIFA-Hollywood suite at the Gaslight Marriott. Private party open to those who worked on CAR TALK and their friends. (For invitation, email

Friday July 25th

6 - 7 pm: STATE OF THE ANIMATION INDUSTRY- A group of animation professionals discuss current trends in the business. Room 3

9:30 - 10:30 pm: WORST CARTOONS EVER- ASIFA-Hollywood Treasurer, Jerry Beck hosts his annual collection of jaw-dropping animated faux-pas and just plain awful cartoons. Room 6CDEF

8 pm: ANNIE AWARDS PARTY- Announcement of the 2009 Winsor McCay Award honorees at the ASIFA-Hollywood suite at the Gaslight Marriott. Private party open to all past Annie Award winners and nominees. (For invitation, email

Saturday July 26th

4:30 - 5:30 pm: ARTISTS ONLY: A DISCUSSION WITH RALPH BAKSHI- Ralph Bakshi is responsible for some of the most wildly original animated features ever made- including Heavy Traffic, Coonskin and Wizards. Working in a largely collaborative medium hide-bound by the legacy of Walt Disney, Bakshi was able to rip the lid off of the moribund medium and create films with remarkable honesty and a startlingly unique point of view.

The legendary cartoonist Ralph Bakshi will be on hand to be interviewed by ASIFA-Hollywood Archive Director Stephen Worth on his life and career. He will be offering advice to aspiring cartoonists and reflecting on what it means to be an artist in todays world. Whether youre lucky enough to make a living doodling or whether you still dream of being paid to create, you wont want to miss this important presentation. Comic-Con Room 10

8 pm: BAKSHI PARTY- Private Party open to all of Ralph’s friends and former employees of Bakshi Productions. (For invitation, email


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