Wednesday, January 7, 2009

News - 01/07/09...

Seven Make VFX Oscar Cut

The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences today announced that seven films made the short list in the Visual Effects category for the 81st Academy Awards. They are as follows:

The Curious Case of Benjamin Button
The Dark Knight
Hellboy II: The Golden Army
Iron Man

Journey to the Center of the Earth
The Mummy: Tomb of the Dragon Emperor

The list was whittled down from a field of 15 movies announced mid-December. Those that didn’t make the second cut for one reason or another are The Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian, Cloverfield, The Day the Earth Stood Still, Hancock, The Incredible Hulk, Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull, Quantum of Solace and The Spiderwick Chronicles.

On Thursday, Jan. 15, all members of the Academy’s Visual Effects Branch will be invited to view 15-minute excerpts from each of the seven shortlisted films. Following the screenings, the members will vote to nominate three films for final Oscar consideration.

The 81st Academy Awards nominations will be announced on Thursday, January 22 at 5:30 a.m. (PT) in the Academy’s Samuel Goldwyn Theater. The Academy Awards for outstanding film achievements of 2008 will be presented on Sunday, Feb. 22 at the Kodak Theatre at Hollywood & Highland Center, and will be televised live by the ABC Television Network. The Oscar presentation also will be televised live in more than 200 countries worldwide.

Pegg, Frost Join TinTin Cast

British comedic actors Simon Pegg and Nick Frost, who appeared together in the cult hits Shaun of the Dead and Hot Fuzz, have reportedly signed onto the cast of Steven Spielberg’s and Peter Jackson’s epic performance-capture adaptation of Georges Remi’s classic Belgian Tintin comic series. Aint It Cool News cites a reliable source who says the actors will play Thompson and Thompson (also known as the Thompson Twins or Dupont & Dupont in the original French version of the comic) in the big-budget action-adventure trilogy being co-financed by Paramount and Sony.

The films are based on three stories from The Adventures of Tintin, a series of 23 books Remi published under the nom de plume “Hergé” between 1929 and 1976. The first movie is being directed by Spielberg and is slated for release in 2010. Budgeted at around $15 million, it will reportedly follow the plotline of two original Hergé books, The Secret of the Unicorn and Red Rackham’s Treasure. Jackson will helm the second installment.

Teen actor Thomas Sangster (Love, Actually) was originally slated to play the title role, but had to drop out due to scheduling conflicts when the project was put on hold due to Universal’s withdrawal of support and the DreamWorks/Paramount split. Andy Serkis, a workhorse in Peter Jackson’s stable of actors, is still aboard to play Captain Haddock. More names are sure come up in the next couple of weeks as Spielberg and Jackson plan to head into production next month.

You can learn more about the amazing world of Hergé and his most famous creation at

Adult TV Toons Abound on Disc

Put the kids to bed and dig into this week’s pile of animated home video releases. On offer are Duckman: Season Three and Four, Frisky Dingo: Season 2 and Tripping the Rift: The Complete Third Season. Grownups and kids alike will also enjoy the second season of the new Cartoon Network series Transformers Animated, which debuts today as well.

Duckman: Season Three and Four is as seven-disc set featuring 48 episodes that aired on the USA Network between 1996 and 1997. Created by Everett Peck, the series stars Jason Alexander (Seinfeld) as the voice of the title quacker. The cast is rounded out by Nancy Travis as Duckman's braying sister-in-law, Beatrice, Dweezil Zappa as Duckman's dim son, Ajax, E. J. Daily and the late Dana Hill as his conjoined sons, Charles and Mambo, and Gregg Berger as Cornfed Pig, Duckman's brilliant sidekick. The Paramount Home Entertainment release lists for $49.99.

Frisky Dingo: Season 2 is single-disc release with 12 episodes of the popular Adult Swim series from Matt Thompson and Adam Reed, the twisted minds behind the Adult Swim favorite Sealab 2021. Frisky Dingo plunges viewers into the world of the villainous Killface, whose mission of destroying mankind is derailed by the boring details of media buys, personnel staffing and marketing. His arch nemesis is Awesome X, the alter ego of billionaire Xander Crews, who is more concerned with the sales of his action figure line than foiling Killface’s plans and saving the world. The Warner Home Video release carries a suggested retail price of $19.97.

Tripping the Rift: The Complete Third Season comes as two discs housing 13 episodes of the raunchy animated space opera that aired on SCI FI Channel. Created by Chris Moeller and Chuck Austen, the series was produced by CinéGroupe of Montreal. The show enjoyed a two-season run on SCI FI Channel in the U.S., and can now be seen on Canada’s TELETOON. Viewers in the states can catch up with the season three DVD, which is available through Anchor Bay for the suggested retail price of $29.97.

Transformers Animated: Season Two
is a two-disc set with 13 episodes of the show co-produced by Cartoon Network Studios and Hasbro. The series 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. Retailing for $26.99, the season two set from Paramount also offers commentary, three animated shorts and a photo gallery.

aniBoom Awards Favor Voodoo

Sebastian’s Voodoo from Joaquin Baldwin of Sherman Oaks, Calif. was named the grand prize winner of the third annual aniBoom Awards, a kudo fest honoring the best work submitted to aniBoom’s virtual animation studio. Roughly 1,300 entries were received from 27 countries. Baldwin’s work was singled out by a high-profile executive jury and millions of online viewers.

Sebastian’s Voodoo is the heart-piercing story of a voodoo doll who sacrifices himself for his friends. As the top winner, Baldwin will receive a $25,000 investment in commercial development and a distribution deal with aniBoom that will enable the animator to receive significant career-making exposure through a variety of outlets and channels.

“We applaud all those who entered the aniBoom Awards from around the world and particularly congratulate the extremely talented artists who earned cash and prizes,” says Uri Shinar, founder and president of aniBoom. “Year after year, we look forward to seeing remarkable animations, sharing the work of these independent artists with the world, and partnering to develop the next breakthrough animation property.”

The aniBoom online animation community selected three Community Favorites, led by Bang Bang You're Bread
by Australia’s Mitch Wade, while the competition’s panel of judges chose three Top Selections led by Our Wonderful Nature
by Germany’s Tomer Eshed. These six winners, along with the top 50 community picks, will share $50,000 in cash and prizes, including ToonBoom software, CG Society books and Stash DVD magazines with coupon cards valued at $55. In addition to the cash and prizes, winners will benefit from substantial exposure across aniBoom’s multi-platform animation network and will be considered for original series development deals.

Grand Prize
Sebastian's Voodoo
By Joaquin Baldwin
Watch here:

Jury Winner
Our Wonderful Nature
By Tomer Eshed
A wildlife show exposé employs extreme slow-motion to reveal the surprising mating rituals of Water Shrews.
Watch here:

Community Winner
Bang Bang You're Bread
By Mitch Wade
A psychotic loaf of bread seeks revenge on Dr Atkins, creator of the low-carb revolution.
Watch here:

For more details on the third annual aniBoom Awards and to watch all the winning entries, go to

Catmull to receive Oscar’s Sawyer Award

Ed Catmull, currently the president of Walt Disney and Pixar Animation Studios, has been named this year’s recipient of the Academy’s Gordon E. Sawyer Award for “his lifetime of technical contributions and leadership in the field of computer graphics for the motion picture industry”. Catmull co-founded Pixar, as well as the computer graphics laboratory at the New York Institute of Technology and the computer division of Lucasfilm. This will be the fourth time the Academy has honored Catmull. The Sawyer Award is presented to “an individual in the motion picture industry whose technological contributions have brought credit to the industry.”

Producers Guild nominates three animated features

"Bolt," "Kung Fu Panda" and "WALL-E" are the three films nominated by the Producers Guild of America for best animated feature of 2008.

Nominees were announced Monday by the PGA. Winners will be announced January 24 at a Hollywood ceremony.

Up for best picture are The Curious Case of Benjamin Button, The Dark Knight, Frost/Nixon, Milk and Slumdog Millionaire.

Nominees for best TV comedy are Curb Your Enthusiasm, Entourage, The Office, 30 Rock and Weeds. For TV drama, the nominees are Boston Legal, Damages, Dexter, Lost and Mad Men.

It All Started Here!

Here’s a restored 1936 Fleischer Studios drawing wedge (click HERE to see larger image). It’s made of wood and fitted with ball-bearing’d wheels to ease the rotation of the heavy disc. It also has two inventions of the Fleischer’s employed on it:

1. a lever which when pushed down, will slide the drawings off the pegs in an uniform fashion so as to not rip the peg holes in the paper

2. an inkwell tray with a sliding latch which locks the bottles in place. (This was added later on and wouldn’t have been on an animator’s/asst’s disc) This contraption began its life in the NY studios at 1600 Broadway, then traveled to their new Miami complex for several years, only to return to Manhattan as the property of Famous Studios. It also comes with Marty Taras’ fieldguide. . . …

and it will be part of It All Started Here, the East Coast animation exhibition curated by Howard Beckerman and J. J. Sedelmaier. Presented by ArtsWestchester in partnership with J. J. Sedelmaier Productions, Inc. and Blue Sky Studios, this citywide celebration of New York’s 103 year relationship with the animation industry will have its opening reception on Saturday, Jan 17th, from 5-8pm at The Arts Exchange, 31 Mamaroneck Ave. in White Plains, New York. This is the kick-off for a month of screenings, parties and displays.

For more info regarding all the It All Started Here festivities check the Facebook page. And, to whet your appetite, JJ sent us a very vintage 70s era Wyler’s Lemonade spot by Jan Svochak that will be in the Commercials section of the film program. . .

(Thanks cartoonbrew)

Sexy Disney “Fine Art”

These pieces (of art) were spotted on display aboard a recent Disney Cruise, for a very high priced auction by the Park West gallery. They were created by M Kungl, a “fine artist” specializing in art deco creations. Cinderella, Tinker Bell and Ariel are given the Miley Cyrus/Annie Leibowitz treatment. Even Jessica is more graphic than usual. What do you think?

(Thanks cartoonbrew)

Pixar’s Jim Capobianco Offers Advice on Short Filmmaking

Jim Capobianco, Pixar story artist and director of the short Your Friend the Rat, is nearing the end of production on Leonardo, a personal short of his own. He’s been documenting the production on a production blog at Last week Jim started a series of blog posts called ” 10 things I’ve learned in making a short film.” The advice in these posts is wonderfully informative and in-depth. Jim openly shares his experiences and offers case-specific examples in every blog entry. Moreover, his tips are applicable not just to short filmmakers but anybody involved in a creative endeavor. As a writer and editor, I was reminded of good work habits that will help forward my book projects. Here are links to the tips that Jim has shared so far:

1) Those helping you need to get something out of it too
2) Have a plan
3) Goals Goals Goals
4) 5 minutes a day
5) Chunks of Time

(Thanks cartoonbrew)

Lion-O Voice Actor Discusses ‘ThunderCats’ Fan Trailer, Status Of CGI ‘ThunderCats’ Movie

When it comes to last week’s live-action “ThunderCats” trailer created by a fan of the 1980s cartoon series, we’re not sure what we got more of a kick out of — the frame-by-frame editing that turned Brad Pitt and Vin Diesel into Lion-O and Panthro, respectively, and made “World’s Sexiest Man” Hugh Jackman into a very believable Tygra; or the simple fact that the trailer made a live-action “ThunderCats” movie seem like a very good idea.

While the possibility of a feature-length
“Thundercats” film coming to theaters has been in play since 2007, when Warner Bros. announced it was producing a CGI movie based on the series, we thought it would be interesting to run the idea by the original Lion-O himself, voice actor Larry Kenney, and find out what he thinks about the fan-made “Thundercats” trailer — and, of course, what he knows about the real “ThunderCats” movie in production.

“I like it,”
Kenney told MTV News after watching the fan-made “ThunderCats” trailer. “I hope Warner Bros. does as well with the real thing.”

As for Brad Pitt playing Lion-O, Kenney said the casting “works for me,” but was thankful that WB’s plans for a feature-length “ThunderCats”
film will likely call for computer-generated characters.

“Thank goodness the movie will be CGI,” laughed Kenney. “[It] gives me a chance to reprise my role as Lion-O.”

Whether the popularity of the fan-made trailer reignites interest in the “ThunderCats” movie remains to be seen, however. As far as being called upon to reprise his role as the leader of the ThunderCats, Kenney told MTV there is “still no word on that.”

Just in case you missed it, here’s that fan-made “ThunderCats” trailer everyone’s talking about:

"Wolverine and the X-Men" Premieres on Nicktoons January 23, 2009

Nicktoons Network will premiere Wolverine and the X-Men in the United States on Friday, January 23, 2009, with two back-to-back episodes starting at 8:00 PM (Eastern). The new series starts with the X-Men disbanded after a mysterious explosion destroyed the Xavier Institute, with fan-favorite character Wolverine trying to reunite the X-Men to avert a future catastrophe for humans and mutants alike. The 26-episode season will air regularly on Friday nights at 8:00 PM (Eastern) after the premiere episode.

For full details, read the press release here.

ToonSeum Opens "Animated Icons" Show through February 2009

The ToonSeum in Pittsburgh, PA, will be exhibiting an "Animated Icons" show for the month of January, featuring production cels and sketches of iconic cartoon characters including Bugs Bunny, Donald Duck, and Yogi Bear. It will run concurrently with "Off the Wall and On the Fridge: The Childhood Drawings of Famed Cartoonists," which shows early artwork from newspaper comic strip icons like Charles M. Schulz, Jim Davis, Lynn Johnston, and more.

For more details, visit the ToonSeum official web site or read the press release here.

Starz Starts Work on "Gnomeo and Juliet"

Toronto-based studio Starz Animation is working on Gnomeo and Juliet, a feature film for Miramax to be released in 2011.

The studio has posted various jobs that need to be filled, and is aiming to hire big-name actors for the film's cast. The movie was originally a Disney project from Elton John before moving to Miramax in 2006.

"Olivia" on Nickelodeon January 26

Frtom AWN comes news that Olivia, a preschool CGI series based on the children's books by Ian Falconer, is set to premier on Nickelodeon at 11:30 am (ET/PT) on January 26.

The series tells the story of a pig who uses her imagination to go on incredible adventures.

Newsarama Interviews Voice Actors Yuri Lowenthal and Tara Platt

Newsarama has interviewed voice actors Yuri Lowenthal and Tara Platt. Among other topics, the pair discuss their roles in Naruto as Sasuke and Temari, their growing success as actors, how Lowenthal landed the role of Ben Tennyson in Ben 10 Alien Force, and how they react to the fan adoration they receive at conventions.

SHAZAM movie is "dead"

On his blog, screenwriter John August has declared the long-percolating 'Shazam!' movie "dead".

August provides a fascinating account of just how frustrating the process of writing commercial entertainment can be. Major monkey wrenches on the project were the dissolution of New Line Cinema (and the accompanying change of management on the project), the WGA strike, and general trepidation on the part of a studio who won big with 'The Dark Knight' but lost big with 'Speed Racer'.

Here's the final word from August:

By the time I got back [from travel to France], the project was dead.

By “dead,” I mean that it won’t be happening. I don’t think it’s on the studio’s radar at all. It may come back in another incarnation, with another writer, but I can say with considerable certainty that it won’t be the version I developed.

Yes, that sucks. And obviously, I can only share my interpretation of what transpired. There were dozens of meetings and phone calls in which I had no participation. As a reader, you should certainly consider the possibility that I wrote shitty scripts they simply didn’t want to make. Because Warners controls copyright on them, I can’t put them in the Library for you to read yourself. So you have to decide whether to take my word on it.

Awesome Japanese WATCHMEN trailer with tons of new footage! Come see!

Damn this looks good... No delays! No delays! Please Movie Gods, solve the legal issue and give us this movie on March 6th!

TrailerAddict has the trailer, embedded below!

The Rough Draft

Today my studio visit was the little animation facility on Brand Boulevard in Glendale.

The Sit Down, Shut Up crew is working at full bore on the back end of its 13-episode order.

We're working on episode nine now, and the boards for episode thirteen have been handed out. I'll be done here in another month. Know anything else going on? Because Sit Down, Shut Up's first show won't be on until March, I think, and who knows when they' greenlight more?

It's slow out there, isn't it?

Yeah, it has been, particularly on the television side. Especially this time of year.

But what's happening in the teevee sector of animation is, work has been up and down, putting it politely, for a long time. (People who've worked steadily for years have found themselves really scraping by in recent months ... and in many cases longer than months. Arggh.)

The problem working in the entertainment business? One day you're flying high storyboarding for Nickelodeon or Disney TVA, the next day you're in an unemployment line. "Project to project," that's the mantra.

(Thanks Animation Guild Blog)

"Drawn To It"

The cover article of the latest edition of the IATSE Bulletin is a profile by David Geffner of the labor organization that is featured in this very blog.

If you're an active member of TAG you should have received a copy in the mail in the last few weeks; if not, a PDF of the article is here.

The Animation Guild has been around since 1952. We weren't the original animation union in town (that honor goes to The Screen Cartoonists Guild), but among our charter members are a load of Disney tyros, and we're happy about that.

Members have called us about the article; some have been thrilled, others miffed that their part of the business wasn't covered in the piece. My reply has been: "I'm happy that we got a cover story in the magazine. I'm sorry that every nook and cranny of our business couldn't get its due, but I understand that there are only so many pages in the IA Bulletin."

But all in all, I think it's a dandy historical piece on how the Animation Guild came to be, and where it's going. Enjoy the pictures.

(Thanks Animation Guild Blog)

Further Details On Upcoming "Batman: The Brave and The Bold" January 2009 Episodes

The World's Finest has received confirmations on details from upcoming episodes of Batman: The Brave and The Bold.

Director Ben Jones has confirmed for The World's Finest that Kamandi will be appearing in the pre-credit sequence in the upcoming Batman: The Brave and The Bold episode "Dawn of the Deadman!," scheduled to air January 16th, 2009 at 8pm (ET) on Cartoon Network. The image above, from the opening credits for Batman: The Brave and The Bold, features Kamandi in the foreground. The episode, written by Steven Melching and directed by Jones, features Batman and Deadman facing off against The Gentleman Ghost. Michael Rosenbaum, well-known as The Flash from Justice League Unlimited and Lex Luthor in TV's Smallville, provides the voice for Deadman.

Cartoon Network has scheduled new episodes of
Batman: The Brave and The Bold every week for the month of January 2009, including the upcoming episode "The Fall of the Blue Beetle!," featuring both the modern and Silver Age Blue Beetle, set for January 23rd, 2009, and "Journey to the Center of the Bat!," featuring the Atom and Aquaman trying to save a gravely ill Batman, set for January 30th, 2009.

The next new episode of
Batman: The Brave and The Bold, "Enter the Outsiders!,"
featuring Wildcat and The Outsiders, is set to premiere this Friday, January 9th, 2009, at 8pm (ET) on Cartoon Network.

Who!'s Hayward will direct Jonah Hex, and maybe even keep the zombies?

Looks like that movie based on DC's horror Western comic Jonah Hex is galloping forward: The Hollywood Reporter says that Horton Hears a Who! helmer Jimmy Hayward has signed on to direct.

Josh Brolin is attached to star in the film, which previously had Mark Neveldine and Brian Taylor (Crank) on board as directors. The duo, who also wrote the script, bowed out over creative differences in November.

The studio, which hopes to put the movie into production in March or April, went on a fast-track search, putting together a short list that included such names as Andy Fickman and McG before narrowing it down to Hayward.

The character of Hex, known for having the right side of his face disfigured and wearing a Confederate army uniform, was a rough-and-tumble gunslinger and part-time bounty hunter whose adventures always ended in blood.

Of particular interest to us, of course, is when the comic mixed the western genre with supernatural and even science fiction elements: In one miniseries, Hex is transported to the 21st century as a kind of Mad Max-style post-apocalyptic warrior, Wikipedia says; in others, he battles zombies, spirit people and even an H.P. Lovecraft-style monster.

Neveldine and Taylor's script reportedly includes the supernatural elements, and the studio will likely keep the script, though it's expected that Hayward will put his stamp on it, the trade paper says. Yee-haw!

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