Wednesday, August 20, 2008

News - 08/20/08...

Technotise - Edith and I marks completion of first Serbian feature

Serbian Director Aleksa Gajic has announced that work on Technotise - Edith and I has been completed after its three year production, with a premiere planned for November 2008. The CGI film, shaded to approximate the look of traditional animation, is the first such feature film to be made in Serbia. Artwork, sound bites including score cues, and a trailer which shows off this impressive achievement can be seen at the film’s official website.

Batman to punch out guest on 'The Brave and the Bold'? sits down with 'Batman: The Brave and the Bold' producer James Tucker, story editor Michael Jelenic, and Diedrich Bader, the voice of Batman, and extracts certain exclusive details from them.

In addition to confirming that the Huntress appears on the show, Jelenic also gave them the specifics on the Green Lantern's appearance:

At the San Diego Comic Con in July, I had the opportunity to interview the key players in Cartoon network’s upcoming series Batman: The Brave and the Bold. Now, you’ve already read my interviews with Voice Director Andrea Romano and series directors: Ben Jones, Brandon Vietti, and Michael Chang. But there was one more interview done on that Friday. This interview with Producer James Tucker, Story editor Michael Jelenic, and the Voice of Batman Diedrich Bader was conducted at the end of the day, and clearly all involved were tired. Why all this back story you ask? And, perhaps more importantly, why are you only now reading this article? It turns out that between the three of them, I learned a few things I was NOT supposed to about characters appearing in the series. I was asked to hold off on posting this for a bit, but this is still news, so here goes. Appearing in BATMAN B & B will be Helena Bertinelli: aka the Huntress!

What? That’s news. No one else has posted it. You say she was a mainstay of
JLU’s first season? You don’t care? Fine. Be that way. You want a scoop? You want a SCOOP? Okay then.

Let me put an end to a month of internet speculation and rumor. The Green Lantern featured in
BATMAN B &B is INDEED none other than continuously cranky, anti-social borderline ass GL: Guy Gardener. Yup. Fanboys rejoice! Guy will make his appearance in the GL episodes of the series premiering this fall. No word on whether Batman takes him down with one punch or not. Click below to read the full interview with Tucker, Bader, and the incredibly talkative Michael Jelenic.

Jonah: First question for you Diedrich- playing Batman, hard, fun, awesome?

Deidrich Bader:
Yes. Yeah. It really is great. Mostly because this Batman has a sense of humor. Which is easier for me to do than what Rino (Romano, the voice of TV’s Batman in THE BATMAN) did which was dark all the way through, with kind of leveling it with a little bit of humor. Which there is some humor in this, but it’s mostly irony and very dry. It’s the guest star cast that really gets to go out and have funny performances. But it is genuinely fun and right in my house. I was just asked earlier if there was any other animated character I’d like to play and really there’s no where that would be going up from here.

Jonah: Well Catwoman. I think that’s the obvious choice. But that’s just me.

Diedrich Bader:
Of course.

Jonah: It’s the mustache; it makes me think of Catwoman. What?

It’s ridiculous, isn’t it? Mid October is when I can shave it off.

Jonah: I didn’t mean to pour salt into that wound.

Deidrich Bader:
No. It’s okay.

Michael Jelenic: Has Batman ever had a Mustache?

Deidrich Bader: Well you wouldn’t know with the cowl.

Jonah: He did put one on as part of his Matches Malone disguise. That’s right. I just got nerdy on you guys.

James Tucker:

Jonah: I mean what. I don’t know what you guys are talking about. Who’s this Batman?


Jonah: Seriously though, Deidrich, do you think the Batman looks anything like you with that chin of his? Did you go in and pose for the artists?

Deidrich Bader:
Yes. And it was obviously difficult to find a cowl to cover my enormous head.

Jonah: Was there anyone in particular it was fun to work with on the show?

Deidrich Bader:
Tom Kenney (as Plasticman) is always great to work with. And John DiMaggio (Aquaman) is always nice to have. We had Phil Morris in which was pretty fun. And Jim Piddock (Calendarman) came and did a guest star spot. He’s always funny and really nice.

Jonah: (to James Tucker) How do you feel about this whole process? I mean you ARE following in big shoes.

James Tucker:
Well I’ve had some shitty jobs. So pretty good.

Jonah: Well there has been a lot of fan angst. A lot of “how can you do this,” and, “How dare you make Batman funny?”

James Tucker:
It’s been really great. BRAVE & THE BOLD is actually the first comic book I ever read. So it’s fitting. In some ways this is it for me. I’m out.

Jonah: Thank you and good night?

James Tucker: Right? No, it’s been a blast.

Jonah: How did you initially get started with this project? Were you knocking on doors at Warner Brothers?

James Tucker:
Sam Register (Executive Producer) came and said they’re doing another Batman. And I thought, “Hell no. I’m not going near that.” And he said,” Well, it’s the BRAVE AND THE BOLD…” And I had to say, “Yes please!” So then I had to think about how you do this different Batman which isn’t in the huge long shadow of BATMAN THE ANIMATED SERIES. Because I remember the hate that THE BATMAN got when it first premiered. And I didn’t want to go through that. But, he (Sam) convinced me that this was a different Batman an old school Batman, with a twist. Then I started thinking about it and decided that I can do this, and I remember this from THE BRAVE AND THE BOLD. It’s still Batman, just not the Batman that many are used to.

Jonah: Not your hardcore Batman?

James Tucker:
Well the great thing is we have access to all the Batman mythos. We can go dark. The CW Batman couldn’t hang a guy off a roof. We can. But we can also make him fun. We can pick and choose. It’s still Batman. It’s still cool. I’ll still enjoy it.

Jonah: What about working with Deidrich? It seems like he really annoys you.

James Tucker:


James Tucker: No. He’s been great. The thing about casting these archetypical heroes is that the person has to embody the character. Our Wonder Woman on Justice League was so sweet. She really loved the fans. She had stalkers because she was too nice. But, Deidrich is a great guy and a GREAT Batman.

Jonah: (To Michael Jelenic) And you will just nod and agree with everything they say?

James Tucker:
DOES the tape recorder pick up his nods?

Michael Jelenic: That’s why they brought me on the show. James was looking for someone who would nod their head to everything he suggested.

Jonah: Were there any characters, as far as the ones you can talk about go, you were excited to get to use in the show?

Michael Jelenic:
It’s funny. I’m not really a comic book guy. This guy (James) is possibly the biggest nerd at Comic Con this year.

James Tucker: Gee thanks!

Michael Jelenic: It’s true…

James Tucker: I’m a functioning nerd!

Michael Jelenic: Well, you do work in the industry. But if you didn’t, you’d still be trying to do something nerdy. But, me, I don’t have a comic book background. I read some batman as a kid but for me with the show, everything’s new. Ted Kord? Who’s Ted Kord?

James Tucker: He’s the Blue Beetle, or was the Blue Beetle.

Jonah: Now he’s dead.

James Tucker:
And then back.

Jonah: and then dead again.

James Tucker:
Right. And now he just nods his head.

Michael Jelenic: Exactly. Wait, what was the question?

Jonah: It was about your favorite character from comics on the show, but obviously…

Michael Jelenic:
well, I do have some favorites from the show. I keep repeating that I LOVE Aquaman on our show. He’s fun.

Jonah: Obviously. He’s so much fun in the comics.

James Tucker: Right?

Michael Jelenic: Well, I think the obvious thing to do is make fun of the fact that out of water he’s basically useless. He doesn’t do anything. He just talks to fish. But I think he’s funny without making fun of the character. Funny without going over the top. You like him. And the other story I like is our Green Lantern story. Can I talk about this?

Jonah: Sure.

Michael Jelenic:
I like our Green Lantern: Guy Gardener. He’s got such a great character compared to the others in our story. He’s such a… a dick really. But at the end of the episode you come to understand why he’s a Green Lantern. Yes he’s a dick, but you can count on him.

Jonah: What about you James?

James Tucker:
I agree with what he said. Plus, I really like the Plasticman story. He’s just funny as shit the way he comes into the show.

Deidrich Bader: And the latest thing with Wildcat (R. Lee Ermey) was really funny too.

James Tucker: Right. But, no, I don’t have any real favorites yet.

Jonah: They’re all your children and you don’t want any hurt feelings?

James Tucker: No, they haven’t been born yet and they hurt like hell.

Deidrich Bader: Still kicking around in there.

James Tucker: Right. So I don’t know. Some may come out with only three fingers. I don’t know.

Deidrich Bader: What’s fun about this show is the relationship between the heroes and how they each have an arc about what they learn from each other. Green Arrow for example. Their relationship, how it develops. Just like DiMaggio’s Aquaman. There’s an arc to it. Each story resolves in a way that’ kind of… sweet. I brought up the relationship with Blue Beetle; it’s a nice mentor thing. And Wil (Wheaton) does a fabulous job. I guess I feel like we’re pushing the character in a way that doesn’t betray the character at all. It’s still Batman. Just not the darker Frank Miller Batman. It doesn’t all need to be like that. Because it isn’t all like that. When I was a kid and we first moved to the states I used to watch BATMAN all the time-with Adam West. I finally got to work with him years ago, and I totally geeked out. It had formed this impression in my head. THAT, to me, IS Batman. Not the dark version. There’s nothing wrong with it, and it’s certainly an element. But this is, I think clear and organic, and nothing that strays from the character. It’s really fun to do.

Jonah: Good. Good. Plus you get to go to work in your pajamas.

Deidrich Bader: Except I have to stop coming in barefoot.

Michael Jelenic: We did have an actor take off his pants. He came in, in those running pants that make a little noise when you move. So, he took them off for the whole recording.

Jonah: Who was that?

James Tucker:
We can’t say. It’s kind of a big actor.

Jonah: Right.

Deidrich Bader:
Really, voice-over IS great. If it paid as much as on camera work, it’s all I’d ever do.

Jonah: So to quote you, “It’s all about the money?” Laughter. That will be the headline of this article. Deidrich Bader: All About the Green!

Deidrich Bader: You know what it is? Doing animation is closer to pretending than anything else you get to do. It’s much more like when you’re a kid putting on a character. It’s like when I watch my son play these characters at home. He laughs this evil laugh … because he’s a super villain. I can actually hear him over the monitor practicing this really evil laugh. “HA HA HA…”

Jonah: Proud parent of a supervillians?

Deidrich Bader:
You bet. I’m raising him right! But it is. Just… fun to do. I get to play a couple characters.

Jonah: You are pulling double duty?

Deidrich Bader:

Jonah: Any you can talk about?

No… well, Catwoman…

Jonah: Of course!

Deidrich Bader:
We did have the Huntress on the show the other day. That was kind of cool.

James Tucker: He did the voice.

Deidrich Bader: No… but they have a great relationship: Batman and the Huntress. I thought that was really well done. Pretty interesting.

Michael Jelenic: You should’ve seen the first draft. It was REALLY interesting.

James Tucker: We had to pull back a little…

Jonah: What’s next for you guys?

James Tucker:
Hopefully another season of this.

Jonah: Will it be 26 episodes?

James Tucker:

Jonah: So a full season of an animated show?

James Tucker:

Jonah: Nice! What about you Deidrich?

Deidrich Bader:
Did I say I was doing anything else?

Jonah: Well, you DID say that voice-over doesn’t pay enough.

Deidrich Bader:
Actually I’m doing as little as possible right now. I’m doing a play at the Taper in September. HOUSE OF BLUE LEAVES. That’s what the stupid mustache is for. I’m looking forward to that. This way I get to be with my kids during the day.

Jonah: Aren’t you worried that spending time with your son will actually make him less of a supervillain?

Deidrich Bader:
No. I’m raising him right!

James Tucker: Two chicks at the same time?

Deidrich Bader: Oh yeah. I’m teaching him all about that.

Jonah: Deidrich Bader: All About the Green AND Two Chicks At the Same Time…

Deidrich Bader:
Really, what more DOES he need to know?

Indeed what more do any of us need to know? Guy Gardener. Will Wheaton as the Blue Beetle. The Huntress and Batman…. inappropriate relationship? And Two Chicks at the Same Time! You can see why this article was embargoed.

Where is Superman Headed?

Variety's Anne Thompson reports that Superman: Man of Steel is in a holding pattern at Warner Bros. Pictures as the studio figures out what to do next. Here's a clip:

They too believe that the last movie didn't break the mold and wound up in some kind of middle limbo. Today I was told that it is a priority at the studio to find the right direction and if Bryan Singer is willing to do that, fine, but if he gets in the way, he may not stay on the project. There are no writers working on a Superman script now. The studio wants to figure it out. "It might be better to start from scratch," one exec admitted.

What do you think? Should they continue the story from Superman Returns or completely start over?

Chuck Jones: Memories of Childhood

Chuck Jones (1912-2002) sketches himself as a boy “conducting the ocean” in a new documentary short directed by Peggy Stern, Chuck Jones: Memories of Childhood. This and other Jones drawings come to life in animated segments directed by John Canemaker. Stern and Canemaker captured one of Jones’ last filmed interviews a few years before his death and created a unique film around it. According to the press release:

In never-before-seen footage, the great cartoon director speaks candidly about his family’s experiences in 1920s Los Angeles, recalling events and personalities from his early life that shaped his creative spirit. The 26-minute documentary blends new animation - based on Jones’s spontaneous drawings made during the interview - with vintage Jones family photographs and clips from his classic Warner Bros. cartoons, to reveal Chuck Jones in a new light.

Chuck Jones: Memories of Childhood will screen theatrically for Oscar qualification in Los Angeles Friday through Thursday, August 22-28. at 12:00 pm (noon) at the Laemmle Sunset 5, 8000 Sunset Blvd. in West Hollywood. The film is also scheduled be shown on TCM in October.

(Thanks cartoonbrew)

A theatrical release for Tinker Bell?

The new direct-to-video Tinker Bell feature will be playing exclusively at the El Capitan Theatre in Hollywood, from September 19th through October 2nd.

The line is blurring as to what actually constitutes a theatrical release these days. This is clearly a promotional engagement for the DVD release on October 28th. But it’s being released with all the hoopla (and advertising) normally reserved for a kids event film (think Disney’s Miley Cyrus/Hanna Montana 3-D concert or that recent American Girl flick). So here’s my question: Does this qualify the film for Oscar eligibility?

(Thanks cartoonbrew)

FOX’s Cleveland Goes to MIPCOM

The Cleveland Show, a spin-off of the hit animated series Family Guy, is one of several new shows 20th Century Fox Television Distribution will be showcasing at this year’s MIPTV television market in Cannes, France. Other shows to be presented to international buyers include the time-travel crime drama Life on Mars, the Joss Whedon sci-fi espionage thriller Dollhouse, the female-targeted comedy-drama The X-List, the hotel workplace comedy Do Not Disturb, the medical mystery drama Mental and the motorcycle outlaw drama Sons of Anarchy. Cleveland and Dollhouse will begin airing in the U.S. in the winter of 2009, and the others will join the fall 2008 lineup.

From Family Guy creator and American Dad co-creator Seth MacFarlane comes The Cleveland Show, which finds Peter Griffin’s African-American neighbor embarking on a major life change. Voiced by Mike Henry (Family Guy, American Dad), Cleveland Brown has lost his wife and his house in a divorce, and decides to leave Quahog, Rhode Island, with his son Cleveland Jr. On their way to California, where Cleveland hopes to pursue a lifelong dream of becoming a minor league baseball scout.

Before making the haul out west, the two make a stop in Stoolbend, Virginia so Cleveland Jr. can see were his father grew up. Once in Stoolbend, Cleveland reunites with his high school sweetheart Donna (voiced by Sanaa Lathan), who offers him another chance at love. Our hero decides to stay in Stoolbend with Donna and finds a few surprises awaiting him, including a flirtatious new stepdaughter named Roberta (Nia Long), a five-year-old stepson named Rallo and a collection of neighbors that includes a loudmouth redneck, a British family seemingly stuck in the Victorian era and a family of bears living at the end of the block.

In addition to voicing the role of Cleveland, Henry serves as a writer and exec producer on the animated show. MacFarlane is also exec producing, along with veteran toon writer and producer Rich Appel (The Simpsons, King of the Hill). The series is being produced by Twentieth Century Fox Television.

Wonder Pets! Goes Bollywood for Primetime Special

Acclaimed Indian actress Nandita Das will be heard as the voice of the title character in Save The Bengal Tiger!, a primetime Wonder Pets! special premiering Monday, Sept. 8 at 8 p.m. (ET/PT) on Nickelodeon. The Bollywood-themed half-hour adventure aims to capture the passionate spirit of Hindi cinema, and features the work of sibling composers Salim and Sulaiman Merchant.

In this latest musical extravaganza, the Wonder Pets get a call from a young white Bengal Tiger in India who has a thorn stuck in her foot. After Linny, Tuck and Ming-Ming realize their hands are too big to pull out the thorn, they enlist the help of famous mouse Raji, the Puller of Thorns. At first, the Bengal Tiger is resistant to having a small, insignificant mouse help her, but the Wonder Pets show the snooty tiger that all living things are important.

Nickelodeon Home Entertainment and Paramount Home Entertainment will release The Wonder Pets!: Save The Bengal Tiger on home video on Tuesday, Sept. 9. The disc will feature the double-length title episode, as well as two extra installments of the show. Bonus features will include a music video for the featured song “I Like Being Small” and a Teamwork Tips! photo gallery.

Nick Jr. will also roll out content from Save The Bengal Tiger! across multiple platforms, including Comcast, Time Warner Cable, Charter, Cablevision, Verizon FiOS and Cox Video On Demand services, and Nick Jr.’s own broadband video service available on Beginning Monday, Sept. 1, Nick Jr. Video will begin streaming a two-minute sneak peek and song clips from the special. The Wonder Pets! season two will be available for purchase on iTunes in early September.

The Emmy award-winning The Wonder Pets!, from creator/executive producer Josh Selig of Little Airplane Prods. Inc., is a mini-operetta for preschoolers that features a lineup of Tony award-winning and nominated Broadway composers, including lead composer Larry Hochman (orchestration for Monty Python’s Spamalot), Bobby Lopez (Avenue Q), and Jason Robert Brown (Parade). Grammy Award-winning producer and recording engineer Jeffrey Lesser serves as music producer/music supervisor for the series. All of the music is recorded with a live orchestra and much of the dialogue is sung in operetta style.

Setback for Warner Bros. in Watchmen Suit

Warner Bros.’ upcoming big-screen take on the Alan Moore graphic novel Watchmen could be one of next summer’s biggest hits, or it could never be seen by audiences at all. The trades are reporting today that a judge has shot down Warner Bros.’ motion to dismiss a lawsuit filed by 20th Century Fox over movie rights to the unique superhero property. If successful, Fox could prevent the movie from being released.

Fox filed the suit in February, claiming that it has exclusive rights to develop, produce and distribute a movie based on the Hugo Award-winning book illustrated by Dave Gibbons. Fox asserts that it picked up movie rights to Watchmen and screenplays by Charles McKeown and Sam Hamm between 1986 and 1990. The studio then assigned certain rights to Largo International, providing that the studio held exclusive rights to distribute the first Watchmen film. Largo eventually folded and rights reverted to producer Lawrence Gordon, who, according to Fox, agreed to pay the studio a buy-out price if he took the project to another studio.

Originally published 1986, Watchmen 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. Director Zack Snyder (300) is currently shooting the pic with a cast that includes Jackie Earle Haley, Billy Crudup, Patrick Wilson, Carla Gugino and Malin Akerman. Warner plans to release the film theatrically on March 6, 2009 if Fox doesn’t prevail in its efforts to have it shelved.

Transformers, George in DVD Jungle

Two Cartoon Network revivals of classic animated properties are available on DVD today. The first season of Transformers Animated, the newest incarnation of the popular TV, film and toy property, shares a release date with season one of the all-new George of the Jungle series. Also hitting disc are Adventures of the Galaxy Rangers—The Collection: Volume 2 and the first five episodes of the NBC animated children’s series Jane and the Dragon.

Co-produced by Cartoon Network Studios and Hasbro, Transformers Animated introduces new characters while bringing back such fan favorites as Optimus Prime, Bumblebee, Prowl, Bulkhead, Ratchet and Megatron. Set in Detroit, Michigan in the near future, the show finds the alien robots in disguise thrust into a world populated by humans and automatons. The Autobots learn to adjust to their new home as they work with the human population to battle the evil Decepticons and save planet Earth from destruction. The two-disc set offers 16 episodes and carries a suggested retail price of $26.99.

A re-imagining of the classic 1967 Jay Ward cartoon show, the new George of the Jungle features a younger George, who is back to protect the jungle of Mbebwe with a little help from best buddy Ape, friends Ursula and Magnolia, his faithful elephant Shep and the Tookie-Tookie bird. The show is co-produced by Bullwinkle Studios and Studio B Prods. All 19 episodes from the first season are packaged as a three-disc set that lists for $23.98.

Adventures of the Galaxy Rangers—The Collection: Volume 2 is a four-disc set containing the final 33 episodes of the ’80s action cartoon series. Produced and created by Robert Mandell, director of the 1986 action flick, F/X, and the 1993 pilot episode of The X-Files, the series takes place in the year 2086 as two peaceful aliens journey to Earth seeking help. In appreciation for Earth’s assistance, the aliens share the plans for the planet’s first hyperdrive, allowing mankind to open the doors to the stars. With the fantastic device in hand, a team of unique individuals is assembled to protect Earth and preserve law and order across the new frontier.

The animation for Galaxy Rangers was completed in Japan by the famed Tokyo Movie Shinsha, but it was one of the first anime-style shows to be created, storyboarded, voiced and produced in the U.S. The show originally aired as a series of sixty-five 30-minute episodes that combined elements of the Hollywood Western, the space opera and the epic sword-and-sorcery fantasy. The disc set lists for $39.98 and also includes on-camera interviews with series creator Robert Mandell and writers Dan Fiorella and John Rawlins; commentary on select episodes; original music backing tracks; memories of voice lead Jerry Orbach (Law and Order), a slideshow of Galaxy Rangers character art by Justin Norman; and a 28-page collectible booklet with original illustrations.

The hit animated children’s series Jane and the Dragon makes its home video debut with Jane and the Dragon: A Dragon’s Tale, a compilation of the first five episodes of the show based on the bestselling book series by Martin Baynton. Employing motion-capture CG animation created by Weta Workshop, the fantasy yarn is spun in the ninth-century English kingdom of Kippernium, where 12-year-old Jane Turnkey seeks to buck convention by becoming a brave knight. When she rescues Prince Cuthbert from a not-so-ferocious dragon, she’s granted special permission to begin training as a knight’s apprentice with the gentle, wisecracking dragon by her side.

The single-disc DVD includes English and Spanish tracks, a behind-the-scenes featurette narrated by the author, a look at the show’s art narrated by Oscar-winning Weta vfx supervisor Richard Taylor, printable coloring sheets, character profiles, original concept art and a motion picture flight sequence. The DVD carries a suggested retail price of $14.99.

Writing Begins for The Hobbit Films

Both and Entertainment Weekly are reporting that writing has begun for The Hobbit, targeted for a December 2011 release, and its sequel, coming December 2012.

"The Lord of the Rings" screenwriting team of Peter Jackson, Fran Walsh, and Philippa Boyens have joined director Guillermo del Toro to write the screenplays for the two planned movies.

Shooting is expected to start at the earliest in the fall of 2009 in New Zealand.

AWN Talks to Ben Stassen About "Fly Me to the Moon"

Director Ben Stassen talks about his new animated feature Fly Me to the Moon in a feature for AWN. In particular, he discusses the film's use of stereoscopic 3-D.

N. Ontario college gets $1M for animation studio

Cambrian College, based in Sudbury, Ontario, will receive $1 million from the Northern Ontario Heritage Fund Corporation to build a 13,900-square-foot animation studio and purchase specialized equipment, legislator Rick Bartolucci announced Monday.

"An animation studio of this size and magnitude in Sudbury is no Mickey Mouse announcement," said Bartolucci, who represents the northern Ontario city in the province's legislature.

"It's going to create jobs," said Bartolucci. "It's going to create another economic engine for our community. I see this as a complete win for everyone involved."

Monday's announcement was made in the main lobby of Cambrian's Northern Ontario Centre of Advanced Technology, which will become the location on campus for the studios required by the animation program.

In partnership with Sheridan College, Cambrian will establish a three-year advanced 2D and 3D animation program in Sudbury. The city's burgeoning animation industry will soon have access to a pool of animators trained in northern Ontario.

Cambrian has developed an agreement with Sheridan, based in the Toronto suburb of Oakville, Ontario, to help bring its internationally renowned animation curriculum to Sudbury. The program is slated to start in September 2009. Graduates of the new program will receive a Cambrian diploma certified by Sheridan.

Enrolment in Cambrian College's animation program is expected to increase from 25 in the first year to 80 in the fifth year.

"We're absolutely thrilled because this gives us an opportunity to drive the economy, to support the fledgling industry of the filmmaking industry right here in Sudbury," said Cambrian College president Sylvia Barnard.

Barnard said she hopes that the program will not just develop a northern Ontario animation industry, but help encourage youth to stay in the region.

"I grew up in the North, and the trend when I was growing up was worse than it has been in the past -- and that is an out-migration of youth," Barnard said. "You grew up in the North -- your biggest goal was to get the hell out of the North."

"We used to just think about animation as being something that is for entertainment... mining, health care, manufacturing -- all of these different areas are using animation for training," said Barnard. "They're using animation for problem-solving and they are employing animators, so it's just a huge opportunity."

Barnard added that Cambrian College is working under the guidance and consultation of Sheridan professors. Cambrian engaged in a feasibility study before it creating the animation program, she said.

Cambrian chose to work with Sheridan because of the college's top reputation in the animation industry, Barnard added.

Revisiting the Uncanny Valley

The UK Times got duped into running an article about one company’s claims that their animation has leapt the Uncanny Valley. The video sample accompanying the piece however fits so comfortably into Uncanny Valley territory that it makes one wonder why the Times felt this was worthy of media attention. The best response about the unconvincing human quality of the animated female comes from this MetaFilter discussion in which one user commented, “Yeah, not getting a boner over here. Fail.”

It’s also worth noting that only the face of the character is CG; the hair and body are those of a live-action actor (shown at left in the image above). There’s also an extended, higher-res version of the facial animation on AWNtv. While this piece of animation misses the mark, the reality is that sooner or later somebody’s going to come up with believable photorealistic animation. Time will tell though whether anybody will actually use the technology towards an artistic end or if photorealistic animation will remain the cost-cutting measure for entertainment producers that is driving its current development.

(Thanks cartoonbrew)

Animation Attack! in Atlanta

As part of the Atlanta Underground Film Festival, ASIFA-Atlanta will be presenting Animation Attack!. The three-screening series takes place this Thursday through Saturday, and includes one locally-produced Flash feature—John’s Arm: Armageddon—along with two programs of animated shorts. The shorts being screened are an eclectic mix of American and foreign indie animation including the Rauch Bros.’ German in the Woods, episodes of Augenblick Studios’s Golden Age series, Mathieu Labaye’s Orgesticulanismus and Blu’s wall animation Muto. For ticket info and full program line-up, visit

(Thanks cartoonbrew)

A Chat with Disney's Burny Mattinson about "Sleeping Beauty"'s Maleficent

On Tuesday, August 19, 2008, Toon Zone News was able to sit in on an on-line chat with longtime Disney animator Burny Mattinson to chat about his work on Maleficent in the classic animated film Sleeping Beauty. He got his start in the studio mailroom, but moved into the animation department as an in-betweener for Lady and the Tramp. He worked under legendary Disney animator Marc Davis to animate Maleficent in Sleeping Beauty, and continued as Davis' assistant in 101 Dalmatians. Mattinson also got to work on films like The Sword in the Stone, The Jungle Book, The Aristocats, Robin Hood, and Winnie the Pooh and Tigger Too. He is also the director of Mickey's Christmas Carol, and wrote, produced, and directed The Great Mouse Detective. As a member of Disney Feature Animation's story team, Mattinson also worked on Aladdin, Beauty and the Beast, The Lion King, Pocahontas, Mulan, The Hunchback of Notre Dame, and Tarzan. His most recent work is in the new Goofy short film "How to Hook Up Your Home Theater."

The transcript of the chat with Mattinson follows, lightly edited for grammar and spelling.

BURNY MATTINSON: Hi Everyone - this is Burny...I've been seeing some great questions and looking forward to a great chat!

Q: How much of Maleficent's onscreen personality comes from Eleanor Audley's rich performance and how much is classic Marc Davis?

I’d say 60% of it was Eleanor’s and Marc followed up with the rest of it! He was highly influenced by her – she set the tone for how the character should act.

Q: What design features make Maleficient a great villain?

The head-dress certainly made a strong statement…her being tall and overpowering the frame and her bombastic acting where she kept everything controlled and would explode suddenly – that created a strong character.

Q: When you create a character, there are a lot of designs. Can you tell us about the "elimination" process of how do you get to the pick the final design, who has "the last word" etc.....?

In this case, Walt had the last word on the design and as it passes between different designers and Marc Davis, it afforded them a chance to take a little bit of everybody’s design and mix it together, but Walt made the last decision on each character – and on every aspect of the picture. He wouldn’t let everything go unless he saw it and that’s why it took so long to make this picture as he wanted to pass on everything, since at the time he was so involved with Disneyland.

Q: When you were working on this film, did you have any sort of idea that it would be as timeless and remain so popular 50 years later?

No! We were pleasantly surprised when everybody saw the final print and I think we all felt we made something classic. But at the time, we didn’t realize that this would become such a beloved classic – we were too close to the working problems of it…just getting the work done, but then, when it was all together and we saw it for the first time, we realized we had something!

Q: How has animation at Disney changed since you first worked on Sleeping Beauty?

When we first worked on Sleeping Beauty we were trying to do a more classic approach to our animation. We were trying to be more exacting in the design aspects – that was strongly influenced. We were trying to learn our ‘straights’ against ‘curves’ to fit within Eyvind Earle’s stylized backgrounds. This was a slow process. Later on we went to a looser approach on 101 Dalmatians, where we could speed up the process but we were also trying to get back into the classic style of animation. Even today, we still try to keep a classic approach – perhaps not as designed as on Sleeping Beauty, but we still try to keep a classic approach to our contemporary titles.

Q: Why did Eyvind Earle chose purple for the flames of her dress - and what was his title?

Eyvind Earle’s title was production designer. His choice of purple was a creative choice to fit his backgrounds.

Q: What's the best piece of advice you received from Walt?

When I first met him, it was in the elevator (we only had one elevator on the lot) and I said, "Good Morning, Mr. Disney." And he said, "No son, it’s Walt." He later added another elevator because the first one was so slow!

Q: How was working with one of the legendary Nine Old Men of animation?

It was wonderful! Marc was an absolute gentleman with total confidence in what he did. He took an interest in a very naive, young, aspiring artist (me). He took me under his wing and taught me practically everything I know in animation. In fact, he looked at my work early on and he said I should go down to Chouinard Art School and he’d let me sit in his classes. He taught me how to draw the human figure.

Q: What was the deciding factor on settling for the final look of the character?

Again, it would be Walt. Walt had several designs put before him and he made the choice going through these designs and he chose the final design – with the horns and so forth. That’s why Marc made a variety of designs to show to Walt and to let him make the choices. Marc spent a lot of time with his designs and he spent a lot of time with Eyvind checking his designs – which is why he made her (Maleficent) such an elongated figure to work with the horizontal and vertical backgrounds that Eyvind designed.

Q: What's the one scene or sequence in Sleeping Beauty that you worked on that you are the most proud of?

The first scene in sequence 8 which was in the forest and it was Aurora beginning to sing the song to the birds as she was picking the berries. That was actually the first scene that was animated in the film and I had to do it over 4 times. Once with her, once with the birds and then we had to clean it up twice and then Marc gave me a cake that said "Happy 31" which was the number of the scene to celebrate that it finally went in to color and Walt bought off on it!

Q: Why did you decide to film Sleeping Beauty on 70mm?

Cinemascope was the new wave at the time and we had just done Lady and the Tramp which was originally to be done in standard 35mm frame. Walt said, "Let’s capitalize on Cinemascope," and we added the wider aspect into the designs. So, when it came to Sleeping Beauty he wanted to make it bigger and better and said, "Let’s go with 70mm" because he was trying to make a true classic. In fact he asked that we design this design as a moving tapestry.

Q: Am I right in thinking that the scene when Maleficient metamorphoses into the dragon is one of the earliest sequences to use the Xerox machine? What was your experience of the change in process?

Actually, Woolie Reitherman was directing the sequence of the dragon fight and he used the Xerox process for the first time on the dragon. I think they went back over the Xerox line with the ink & paint, but he did use the Xerox process for enlarging and reducing her in the frame as an experiment. That actually was the start of Disney using the Xerox process in animation. It was a very crude process – we used an Omega 8x10 enlarger as our camera and we had these old aluminum inking boards. We coated those with the Xerox material. It was very crude, but by the next picture, we had a first class operation with Xerox.

Q: What made Maleficient so different from villains previously made by Disney?

One thing that got me was the fact that her reaction at not being invited to the party was a bit over the top – which is pretty darn cruel for no reason…

Q: When you thought of Maleficient, who or what were you thinking about?

I think we were very influenced by Eleanor Audley – she had done the voice and reference work for the stepmother in Cinderella. Everyone thought that was such a strong character – she was so controlled and evil in her acting and we wanted someone of that stature for this character, so Eleanor really set the style.

Q: Sleeping Beauty is one of the only Disney animated films where the hero takes out the villain himself, while most other Disney villains meet their end indirectly. Did you have to fight at all to use that ending at the time?

No, I don’t believe we did. We needed to resolve Maleficent in some manner – certainly she imprisoned Phillip and caused Sleeping Beauty and the castle to go to sleep and the only one that could really do it was the Prince. There was no one else except the other fairies who couldn’t use their magic against her, so it was up to the Prince. That was a strong story decision, so it was it up to the Prince to overcome Maleficent to get to his princess.

Q: Were there problems during the production of the movie or did everything happen according to the plan?

No there were problems all the time through the picture. Namely, it was a very slow process because we were trying to make it such a classic and we were using more abstract design elements which created a lot of problems. The very fact that we had to animate every frame instead of shooting each frame twice. If we didn’t the animation would strobe against Eyvind’s backgrounds. We were working on 3 field paper and when you’re doing in-betweens and every drawing, you’re flipping back and forth with very wide paper which slowed the process down dramatically.

Q: The Blu-ray presentation of Sleeping Beauty is marvelous, showcasing more background detail than we've ever seen before. Is high definition worrisome to animators since even the smallest design flaws may now become much more apparent?

No – I think quite the contrary – we want to see the image as beautiful as it was originally intended to be. Blu-ray -- I love it!

Q: Can you see any elements of Maleficent in subsequent Disney villains?

Cruella was again, Marc Davis and I believe the voice was Betty Lou Gerson and she was a classic radio actress. She had the same things that Eleanor had in her voice and Marc really had a lot of fun with that character. She was bombastic all the time. Every animator loves to have a character move – not be very stilted. Again, Marc wanted a more controlled character in Maleficent that was very close with very little movement. He wanted to save the shock value for when she suddenly exploded. Her movement was used for shock value.

Q: How many animated features did Walt have in development at any given time? Were there any that didn't get made you would have loved to be a part of?

About 1940, Walt was starting to do four features at one time (Pinocchio, Bambi, Fantasia and Dumbo) and they were all in work status. At the same time he had stories that were in development like Cinderella and Peter Pan, in which development hit a wall so they were put on the shelf and revisited later. Walt was disappointed in Pinocchio and Fantasia not doing as well as they should because of the overseas market disappearing during World War II, that he was going to go on a long vacation. Someone sent a little series of pictures of an elephant character and he gave it to Joe Grant and said, "See what you can do with it." So, Joe and Dick Humor developed the story of Dumbo while Walt was away, which was done very fast because it was so simple and it was very successful.

Q: Did anything of Maleficent make it into Ratigan in The Great Mouse Detective? Or was Vincent Price enough of a lead there?

Actually Vincent Price’s performance in Champagne for Caesar influenced us in getting Vincent Price to do it. We showed that to all the animators and they said, "that’s our Ratigan." Actually, to begin with, Ratigan was a really small, very crotchety type of character. But, when we saw the performance of Vincent Price in that film, he was very broad shouldered and very eccentric in that character and we knew we had our character. When we went on the stage to record him for Ratigan he asked, "How should I do this?" and we said, "Like Champagne for Caesar!"

Q: Marc's characters were always so dynamic and expressive, did that make it challenging for the other character leads to match his emotional intensity?

I don’t believe so, Marc’s expertise was in drawing very pretty ladies, such as Tinker Bell. He always wound up doing the lady characters – the pretty women, like Cinderella, so when he got the chance to do Maleficent instead of the pretty girls, I think he had more latitude to have more fun – be more expressive.

Q: Who is a great modern day villain?

The villain in The Dark Knight – the Joker, Heath Ledger! As for modern Disney villains, Scar from The Lion King was a good "stinker." Jeremy Irons was great – I did a lot of storyboard work on that character and listening to his voice was so great! Medusa from The Rescuers - Milt Kahl did all the animation on her -- Geraldine Page was so great! He had more fun drawing her since Milt always did all the princes -- so he had a ball when he got hold of that character.

Q: What is your favorite Disney animation that you didn't work on?

MATTINSON: Pinocchio
– I wasn’t able to work on it since I was just a little kid, but it had the biggest impact on me because it’s why I wanted to work here at Disney.

Q: Is there a story or a fairy tale that you would really love to adopt or see adopted as an animated movie?

Paul Gallico’s The Abandoned. In fact, the studio owns the book and many of the Nine Old Men went to Walt and said this is a story they really want to do. They were saying it was the one picture that got away from them and they all wanted to make.

Q: Maleficent is one of the most famous villains in the animation history. She became even more notorious with the successful game Kingdom Hearts. What do you think it made her so famous?

She was in such a classic picture that she stood out probably more strongly than other characters. Her thinking process is very quiet and cunning and you’re anticipating the next moment and then suddenly she blows…she comes on so sweetly and then suddenly you have this evilness bursting out of her – it resulted in such a strong, memorable character. For me it was a joy working with Marc – he made everything so fun and easy – he was such a strong designer. I learned so much from him. Everything was so well worked out with Marc. He was such a calm fellow and really knew his craft and it was easily conveyed in his work. So no wonder she was such a memorable character.

Q: What's your advice to a someone who dreams of becoming an animator?

Do lots of quick sketching and watch people in restaurants or wherever, and just do quick drawings of their poses. Make them very expressive. I didn’t go to art school I came to Disney with desire to draw. I drew all my life and when I came to the studio I was lucky enough to work with Marc and he taught me so much, but I would encourage anyone to focus on getting as much art education as you possibly can get.

Q: What's the one thing you think nobody notices in Sleeping Beauty that they should pay attention to?

Watch the beautiful backgrounds – the animation is so well done, especially the fairies when they’re little miniature fairies. The restored aspect ratio now includes so much more imagery that has never been seen before and the forest sequences are fantastic in Blu-ray.

Q: You've worked in many unforgettable movies. Which one is your favourite?

I have a very strong feeling for The Great Mouse Detective. Beyond that, Beauty and the Beast was one of my favorites to work on. Lady and the Tramp was my first film with the studio, and, of course, Sleeping Beauty has a very soft spot in my heart. Thanks everyone for such a great series of questions – I’ve really enjoyed this experience and hope you enjoy the new release of Sleeping Beauty – it’s a real treat! Burny!!

Toon Zone News would like to thank Burny Mattinson for taking the time to chat with us, and for Mac McLean at Click Communications and Walt Disney Studios Home Entertainment for making the chat possible. Image of Burny Mattinson borrowed from The Animation Guild. All other images are © Disney; All Rights Reserved. Sleeping Beauty will be released in a 2-disc Platinum Edition DVD and Blu-ray disc on October 7, 2008.

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