Tuesday, October 28, 2008

News - 10/28/08...

Tinker Bell, Flight Before Christmas On DVD

Two direct-to-video CG-animated feature films make their retail debuts today, one far more heavily promoted than the other. Disney Home Entertainment gives Peter Pan’s pixie pal her very own movie with Tinker Bell, while Genius Products and The Weinstein Co. prematurely get into the holiday spirit with the flying reindeer adventure The Flight Before Christmas. In addition, Warner Bros. has just the thing for the classic cartoon fan on your holiday gift list. The Flintstones: The Complete Series, a 24-disc set containing 166 episodes, is now available for $129.72.

Anchoring the new “Disney Fairies” series of animated movies, Tinker Bell marks the first time fans get to hear the iconic character actually speak. Tink is voiced by Mae Whitman, who replaced Brittany Murphy (King of the Hill), one of many changes that came about when John Lasseter assumed oversight of the pic. The star-studded voice cast also includes America Ferrara, Raven-Symone, Kristin Chenoweth, Lucy Liu and Angelica Huston.

Tinker Bell explores the fairy’s early life in the fantastic world of Pixie Hollow and her friendships with other multicultural and magical creatures. The movie is directed by Bradley Raymond (The Lion King 1 ½, Mickey’s Once Upon a Christmas and Pocahontas II: Journey to a New World). The disc lists for $29.99 on DVD and $34.99 on Blu-ray. You can watch John Lasseter’s intro to the movie at: CLICK HERE. The film’s trailer is at: CLICK HERE.

Featuring the voices of Emma Roberts (Nancy Drew, Aquamarine) and comedian Norm MacDonald (The Norm Show, Saturday Night Live), The Flight Before Christmas tells the story of a young reindeer with ambitions of becoming an expert flyer like his father. When Niko sneaks out beyond the safety of Home Valley to practice his flying, he unwittingly endangers the herd as the notoriously mean Black Wolf follows him home. Before it's too late, Niko must join forces with his forest animal friends to save Santa and the reindeer from the Black Wolf and become a Christmas hero. The heartwarming yuletide tale is rated G and carries a suggested retail price of $19.97.

Cartoon Network Gets Total Drama Action

Stateside fans of the animated ’tween comedy series Total Drama Island can look forward to the seeing the spinoff in 2009. Cake Distribution has sold FRESH TV’s Total Drama Action to Cartoon Network U.S. The channel currently airs Total Drama Island during its Thursday-night lineup, where it has developed a substantial following.

Created by Fresh TV’s Tom McGillis and Jennifer Pertsch, Total Drama Action picks up where Total Drama Island left off as it takes 15 of the original contestants to a new location—a deserted film studio lot. Here our contestants will be exposed to new challenges with the chance to win an even bigger prize. The series will add a number of talk-show episodes where former contestants and fans comment on the competition. Commissioned by TELETOON, the show is currently in production and is slated to premiere in the spring of 2009.

Fresh TV is an award-winning family entertainment company dedicated to serving the ‘tween and teen market. The company offers 2D and 3D production services through Elliott Animation, located in Toronto. More information can be found at www.freshtvinc.com.

Based in London, Cake Distribution (www.cakeentertainment.com) is a boutique distributor of animation and family entertainment properties. The company handles worldwide distribution rights for Cartoon Saloon’s Skunk Fu! Other properties in the Cake catalog include Eliot Kid, Aesop’s Theater, King Arthur’s Disasters, Edgar & Ellen, Loopdidoo and Tiny Planets, as well as the Scholastic catalog for Europe only.

Adult Swim, Burger King Seek Live-Action Carl

Adult Swim is teaming up with Burger King Corp. to find a look-alike to portray the sweaty, hairy Carl character from Aqua Teen Hunger Force in next year’s first-ever live-action special episode. The “Give Us Your Best Carl” nationwide casting call kicks off on Nov.3, encouraging those who resemble, or know someone who resembles Carl to go to AdultSwim.com for complete details and to upload a video that demonstrates they are worthy of the role. The live-action episode is scheduled to air in 2009.

“We believe there is someone out there that embodies the essence of Carl,” said John O’Hara, exec VP of ad sales and marketing for Adult Swim and sister outlet Cartoon Network. “With our friends at Burger King, we plan to encourage individual to step into the spotlight for the chance of a lifetime—to chill out at the craft services table with Meatwad and Master Shake.”

Adult Swim will promote the casting call on air through a custom spot featuring Carl himself, with the Burger King brand integrated into the call to action. E-Potential Carls can upload videos, up to 30 seconds in length, explaining why they resemble the character. The website will also feature program related messages, as well as a link to www.bk.com.

The exclusive sponsor for the first-ever Aqua Teen Hunger Force live-action special, Burger King Corp. has previously joined forces with Adult Swim to promote the “Have It Your Way” brand message to young adults through custom marketing opportunities. This past summer, both brands came together to offer viewers the opportunity to enter for the chance to program an entire night of Adult Swim.

Created by Matt Maiellaro (12 oz. Mouse) and Dave Willis (Squidbillies), Aqua Teen Hunger Force revolves around three human-sized fast-food products who share a rental home in New Jersey. Their next-door neighbor, Carl, is a simple and endearingly lewd, fashion-challenged, horny, nasty and often annoying man who gets caught up in all the shenanigans.

Perhaps one of these guys who showed up for the Comic-Con casting call over the summer will end up wining the role:

Random Title Cards

Fred Seibert has posted 30 (of 39) of the title cards for his new series of Random Cartoons. The show, starting December 6th on Nicktoons Network, contains new shorts by Bill Plympton, Doug TenNapel, Pen Ward, John Dilworth, Pat Ventura among others - including my very own Hornswiggle cartoon. Check out the title card gallery here.

(Thanks cartoonbrew)

Happy World Animation Day!

They're showing Grave of the Fireflies in Guinea and The Adventures of Prince Achmed in Latvia. One world, inspired by the animated image. As usual, the Brazilians know how to party, with 100 cities taking part in ASIFA's seventh World Animation Day. France's list is pretty impressive, as they have a reputation to uphold for the holiday instigated in their country.

Here's a list of some of the events happening today.

Cape Town

You can find more events on ASIFA's website.
Events through to November in Ghana, India and Canada.

"Coraline" News Roundup: Laika's Gamble, Preview Look, Gaiman Comments

Several different media outlets have recently published articles about Coraline, the stop-motion feature film from Laika Entertainment directed by Henry Selick and based on the novella by Neil Gaiman. The Times-Picayune weblog has posted an article dealing with the big gamble that Laika is taking with Coraline, noting that the hard market sell of a creepy stop-motion animated movie is actually part of Laika's strategy to differentiate themselves from studios like Disney, Pixar, or DreamWorks, and also make their box-office debut with a distinctive statement.

The ShockTillYouDrop.com website has also taken a look at Coraline, and also posted a brief Q&A with director Henry Selick and animator Travis Knight about the movie, including the state of the movie at the time of the interview and the possibility of future Gaiman adaptations.

Finally, Gaiman discusses the state of many of his book-to-film or comic-to-film adaptations in an interview with Premiere, and answers several questions about the path that Coraline took from book to screen and how Henry Selick was ultimately selected as the director.

Coraline will be released on February 6, 2009.

Will Nolan Return for a Third Batman Movie?

The Los Angeles Times has posted the first part of its three-part interview with Batman Begins and The Dark Knight director Christopher Nolan in which he briefly addresses what will determine whether he'll be back for a third film:

Well ... let me think how to put this. There are two things to be said. One is the emphasis on story. What’s the story? Is there a story that’s going to keep me emotionally invested for the couple of years that it will take to make another one? That’s the overriding question. On a more superficial level, I have to ask the question: How many good third movies in a franchise can people name? [Laughs.] At the same time, in taking on the second one, we had the challenge of trying to make a great second movie, and there haven't been too many of those either. It’s all about the story really. If the story is there, everything is possible. I hope that was a suitably slippery answer.

You can read the first part of the interview here.

A Sneak Peek At Coraline

Ask ten people who directed A Nightmare Before Christmas and nine out of the ten will say Tim Burton. This isn't a slap in the face to the real director Henry Selick, it's just that Burton came up with the idea and the marketing for the movie always promotes his name. But another genius mind, one who had as much, if not more, to do with the success of Nightmare is Henry Selick. His latest stop motion animated feature is Coraline, scheduled to hit theaters next year on February 6th.

Don't know what the film is about? Shame on you. Now I have to copy and paste the synopsis:

From Henry Selick, visionary director of THE NIGHTMARE BEFORE CHRISTMAS, and based on Neil Gaiman’s international best-selling book, comes a spectacular stop-motion animated adventure – the first to be originally filmed in 3D!

Coraline Jones (Dakota Fanning) is bored in her new home until she finds a secret door and discovers an alternate version of her life on the other side. On the surface, this parallel reality is eerily similar to her real life and the people in it – only much better. But when this seemingly perfect world turns dangerous, and her other parents (including her Other Mother voiced by Teri Hatcher) try to trap her forever, Coraline must count on her resourcefulness, determination and bravery to escape this increasingly perilous world – and save her family.

The lovely people over at Focus Features (No, really. They actually are lovely people), and the talented and brilliant minds at Laika Studios (also lovely), had a sneak peek of thirty minutes of Coraline footage, in 3-D, to show off to the press. This presentation looked much sharper than the rough footage we saw during a set visit earlier this year.

Having read the Neil Gaiman book this film is based off of, I was really excited to see the footage. When we walked into the lobby, they had most of the animated puppets used in the actual feature on display, along with a small diorama of the garden scene used in the film. Here are a couple of shots. I apologize for the poor quality and my crappy skill with the iPhone camera.

A smaller version of the much larger set at Laika Studios in Oregon.

Rats. We didn't get to see the Angel Children in action.

After getting some drinky drink and checking out the puppets, we headed into the theater to watch the footage in Real 3-D. A nice introduction by Henry Selick and we were whisked away to the real and other worlds of Coraline.

The thirty minutes of footage we saw looked jaw dropping. We saw the scene with Coraline first meeting upstairs tenant and mouse circus trainer Mr. Bobinsky (voiced by Deadwood's Ian McShane).

We also saw scenes with Coraline and her real mother and father (Teri Hatcher and John Hodgman, who also voice Other Mother and Other Father). Coraline then meets aging stage actresses Miss Forcible and Miss Spink in an amusing scene.

We're also introduced to the newest character of the story, Wybie, who was put into the movie so Coraline had someone her age to interact with. Wybie is a strange kid who has a pet cat that becomes a helpful adviser to Coraline later in the story.

We next saw more footage of Coraline when she finally crawls through the hidden door into the Other World. Here she meets the other versions of the people she knows, all with buttons for eyes. Other Mother wants to make Coraline a permanent addition to this twisted family, but you'll have to read the book to see how that plays out. Because once that gets going, the story starts to really kick the creepy factor into high gear.

We watched footage of Coraline and Other Wybie in Mr. Bobinsky's apartment where the circus mice put on a spectacular show for their new audience members. Coraline and Wybie then go into a theater, filled with nothing by Scottish Terriers, to watch younger and healthier versions of Miss Forcible and Miss Spink on stage. This was an amazing sequence to watch and according to Henry took four months to shoot because there were so many complex movements involved. But it wasn't just that scene that was time consuming, so it's a good thing they had the animated talents of Eric Leighton, Travis Knight, Phil Dale and others to make a story like Coraline come to life.

My favorite scene was when Coraline and the cat are walking outside the boundaries of the Other World and into nothingness. The transition was fantastic to watch and they did a wonderful job with that scene. The garden scene where Coraline and Other Father have a chat, was also really amazing to look at. The footage stopped at the point where Coraline is held captive by Other Mother and in the book, is about to be introduced to the Angel Children. The footage we saw in 3-D looked absolutely amazing and I was disappointed I couldn't watch more.

Later in the story, unfortunate things are happening with Other Father.

After the footage was shown, we got to chat a bit with Producer Claire Jennings (producer on one of my top ten animated films of all time Wallace & Gromit in the Curse of the Were-Rabbit).

We also spoke to the man himself, Henry Selick, who talked about how the film is almost completed with about 20 visual effects left and how he's looking forward to the movie's release after such a long project. We also chatted about Neil Gaiman's newest novel, The Graveyard Book. It's a great read and I recommend it to fans of Neil and fans of fantasy literature in general. Henry voiced his disappointment in talks that this book to film translation may be live action instead of stop motion. I agreed with him that it would be a bad move because while reading the book, I was imaging the story in stop motion animation and not in live action. So whoever reads this and actually has some control over Neil's next project, don't make the mistake of skipping this wonderful art form for a live action feature. (I can even recommend a pretty good director for the movie.)

I really hope Coraline does well at the box office. I implore fans of Nightmare Before Christmas, James and the Giant Peach, Wallace & Gromit, as well as fans of animation in general to check out this 3-D animated movie when it hits theaters next year. I'm pretty sure you won't be disappointed.

I want to personally thank everyone at Laika Studios (especially Henry Selick), and Focus Features for this great opportunity to check out advanced footage of the movie. I'm sure I'm not the only fan waiting to see this hit the big screen.

And make sure to keep checking back with theothercoraline.com to see what surprises are in store for those of us wondering what awaits us on the "other" side.

(Thanks Latino Review)

Richard Williams West Coast Tour

If you didn't get a chance to attend Richard Williams' masterclass at the 2008 Ottawa International Animation Festival, and live on the west coast, you may have another chance to catch him. Beginning today, the award-winning animator will be touring several west coast cities until November 7th.

Last night, ACM SIGGRAPH's Vancouver chapter hosted a free two-hour masterclass, signing and a screening of Who Framed Roger Rabbit?

On Wednesday the 29th, he will be in Redmond, WA, at as a run-up to Seattle's 2D Or Not 2D festival. While the event is free, it is open only to DigiPen BFA alumni and working professionals, so follow the link if you qualify to find out how to get your tickets.

On Thursday the 30th, it's Portland time with the Cascade ACM SIGGRAPH chapter. The event is free for chapter members and 5.00 dollars for everyone else, but attendees need to RSVP by the 28th.

The last public event on November 2nd happens in San Francisco. A benefit for ASIFA-SF, this event will feature the two-hour masterclass and the event will be moderated by author and chapter president Karl Cohen (shown above, left, with Richard Williams, and Cohen's wife Denise McEvoy at the OIAF Animators' Picnic). The admission is only 9.00 dollars and only 6.50 for a child or a senior. A mere pittance for the wealth of information and experience that will be available and to help a great organization.

(Thanks fps magazine)

Warner Bros. to Make Ninja Scroll Pic

In Feburary of this year, we reported that Warner Bros. and actor Leonardo DiCaprio had joined forces to make a live-action feature based on the anime classic Akira. Now Daily Variety brings word that the relationship will also yield a Ninja Scroll live-action movie. Warner Bros. has acquired rights to the anime franchise and DiCaprio’s Appian Way shingle will co-produce the adaptation with Japanese animation studio Mad House.

Along with
"Akira" and "Ghost in the Shell", the original 'Scroll' is one of the most popular animes on the global scene.

The first
Ninja Scroll animated movie, written and directed by Yoshiaki Kawajiri, was released in Japan in 1993. The story is set in feudal Japan, where a ninja-for-hire must battle an old nemesis who is bent on overthrowing the Japanese government. His opponent is also the leader of a group of demons who possess superhuman powers. The property is licensed by Manga Ent. in North America.

Ninja Scroll will be penned by Alex Tse, who co-wrote Zack Snyder’s upcoming Watchmen
and an adaptation of the Ray Bradbury novel The Illustrated Man, which Snyder will also direct for Warner Bros. Director Michael Mann is reportedly directing Tse’s take on the Don Winslow novel The Winter of Frankie Machine
, with Robert De Niro attached to star in the Paramount release.

Disney Previews Tinker Bell Online

Disney Online today began previewing the first six minutes of the direct-to-video animated movie Tinker Bell. The sneak peek will be available to view on Disney.com’s newly launched, full-screen video player through Tuesday, Oct. 28, when the feature makes its debut on DVD and Blu-ray. In addition, Disney Online’s new virtual world, Disney Fairies Pixie Hollow (www.PixieHollow.com) is marking Tinker Bell’s arrival with a special in-game event.

After tagging along with Peter Pan, Tinker Bell finally gets her own movie as part of the new Disney Fairies franchise. Fans will hear Tink speak for the first time in the first in a series of four CG-animated fairy films, which Disney hopes will build on the success of its Disney Princesses property.

The recently launched Pixie Hollow is an online virtual world where each visitor can create their very own fairy to take flight alongside Tinker Bell and many of her Fairy friends. The site is hosting a special in-game party for the Tinker Bell release, allowing players to search for the hidden party location to earn badges and get Tinker Bell party gifts. Additionally, Tink herself will make special appearances to chat with fans. Pixie Hollow is free to play with the opportunity to upgrade to a membership for a monthly fee of $5.95.

Aardman Launches New YouTube Channel

Aardman Animations has joined forces with YouTube to debut Aardman’s Darkside, a new Internet video channel that will offer a selection of some of the company’s more surreal comedies and shorts including Rex the Runt, The Adventures of Jeffrey, A Town Called Panic and Angry Kid.

Patrick Walker, YouTube’s director of video partnerships for Europe, the Middle East and Africa, comments, “We are proud to see one of the largest independent animation studios embracing the YouTube platform and using our powerful VideoID technology to protect its content. The community tools on YouTube will also give Aardman valuable feedback from around the world, helping them determine what to upload next based on user demand.”

Launched earlier this year, Aardman’s first YouTube venture, The Aardman Channel (www.youtube.com/aardman) offers such family favorites as Wallace and Gromit: Cracking Contraptions, Creature Comforts and Morph. Aardman also has programming available on iTunes, Hulu, Joost, Atom Films and a number of online and mobile platforms.

Mater Takes Center Stage: A chat with Victor Navone and Rob Gibbs, co-directors of the new Disney/Pixar TV Cars Toons.

This week marks the premiere of Pixar’s Cars Toons, a three-part shorts series featuring Mater, the rusty tow truck which befriended Lightning McQueen in the 2005 feature. The animated vignettes are directed by John Lasseter and co-directed by Victor Navone (animator on Cars, The Incredibles, Finding Nemo) and Rob Gibbs (story artist on Cars, Finding Nemo, Monsters Inc.). Animation Magazine was lucky to get Navone and Gibbs on the phone to find out more about this fun project:

Animag: So tell us about how these mini-series of shorts came to be? Were the shorts created around the same time as the movie?

Rob Gibbs:
Basically, we started to work on the shorts last summer. John [Lasseter] cares a lot about the characters in Cars, and he was looking for a project that would keep these characters alive. That’s how we came up with the idea for these shorts, which were created as 30-second bumpers. In the beginning, they were conceived as crawls on the bottom of the screen, but everything at Pixar seems to grow.

Victor Navone: We look at them as Mater’s “Tall Tales.” The idea was not to repeat the plots of the movie, but to expand that world. Mater is one of our favorite characters—a lot of the character is based on Larry the Cable Guy’s vocal performance—it’s the broadest performance and very silly, so he’s likely to get into ridiculous situations.

Rob: The development took about six months. We had a bunch of different ideas and narrowed it down to the ones that were the best.

Victor: The actual production took about eight months, total. We worked under a pretty accelerated schedule. The team wasn’t the same one that worked on the movie, or the short (Mater and the Ghostlight) that was included on the DVD, because this happened a few years after the movie’s production was done. We had some veterans of the feature, but basically we had a team of about 60 people working on the shorts at a given period.

El Materdor

How does working on a shorts package like this compare to a big 90-minute feature? What are the pluses and minuses?

Oh, it’s so much easier to tell the story in the shorts. You don’t have to worry about dealing with character arcs. It’s all about getting the gags to work in a short period of time.

Rob: It takes five years to create a movie. But with a mini-shorts series like Cars Toons, the turn around is relatively quick. You get to see the finished product so much sooner.

Victor: And the characters are already established, so you know what they’re doing.

So will the Mater shorts qualify for Oscars this year?

No, because for the shorts to qualify for the Oscar, they have to first be screened in theaters. We think they’re good enough, but we just didn’t want to spoil everybody else’s chances of winning!! Maybe we can win an Emmy instead!

We always like to find out about the toons that influenced animators early on in their lives. What were yours?
I watched a lot of stuff on TV that was just awful when I was growing up. But I also loved Warner Bros. cartoons. Those classic Chuck Jones cartoons were huge influences in terms of style and situation comedy.

Rob: I used to run home from school to watch those same Warner Bros. Cartoons. I was that kid in school who just loved to draw all the time!

We know you get this questions a lot, but everyone is curious about Pixar’s secret recipe for success. Why do you think the studio has such a solid track record?

Victor: It’s Teflon! Seriously, one reason is because our projects are all director-driven. The ideas for the movies come from directors and animators themselves, not from executives or focus groups and surveys. The studio culture really shelters and nourishes artistic creativity.

Rob: We don’t have a problem with throwing stuff out if it doesn’t work. We work with our editors and go over scenes over and over again until we get it as close to perfect as possible.

Victor: We also get a huge amount of support from John Lasseter. These shorts are all his babies. If we can make John laugh we know that we’ve succeeded in our jobs.

What is your take on the big animation scene in 2008?

Victor: It’s funny, but life at Pixar is hermetically sealed. We keep doing what we’re doing and try to come up with original, new ideas and we don’t follow trends. The job climate is not as volatile as it is in L.A. People are on salary and it’s quite family-oriented.

Rob: We do love to see what’s going on in other studios and the stuff that comes out of the independent scene. We’re always excited about 2D animation surviving. Next year’s Disney feature The Princess and the Frog is a great example. We have a lot of animators who were originally 2D animators (they work on the title sequences and the Ratatouille short film My Friend the Rat, for example).

What kind of advice would you give students of animation who want to get into the business?

Rob: Draw, draw, draw and draw! That’s the most important thing you can do. Also watch a lot of funny films. There are so many good schools out there. I went to CalArts. A lot of our animators are CalArts graduates.

Victor: Pixar looks at a lot of schools out there. I’d say it’s very important to focus on traditional skills, instead of technologies. We’ve hired animators who have never used computers before. It’s hard to teach someone to be an artist, but it only takes a few months for someone to learn a computer program.

Here is a complete list of Cars Toons premiering on Toon Disney (all times ET/PT) and their official synopses:

Monday, Oct. 27 (6:56 p.m.)
Rescue Squad Mater. Mater is a fire truck that rescues Lightning McQueen from a burning building. When McQueen is rushed to the hospital, he discovers that Mater is a doctor, too.

Tuesday, Oct. 28 (6:57 p.m.)
Mater the Greater. Mater is a famous daredevil who does all kinds of stunts. And Lightning McQueen becomes an unwilling participant in Mater's greatest stunt ever.

Wednesday, Oct. 29 (6:57 p.m.)
El Materdor. Mater is a famous bulldozer fighter in Spain. He's so good, he's able to fend off multiple bulldozers at once. Lightning McQueen joins Mater in this tall tale just as things are at their worst.

Disney Channel will present all three shorts throughout the day on Saturday, Nov. 1. ABC Family will present the shorts beginning Tuesday, December 23 during the network's annual "25 Days of Christmas" programming.

No comments: