Thursday, April 16, 2009

News - 04/16/09...

Aim Your Eyes at The Small Hunter

Belgian animator Korneel Detailleur created this surreal, short film back in 2006, but he just posted it online this week. It’s titled De Kleine Jager (The Small Hunter).

Check Out Atención al Cliente

Atención al Cliente (Customer Attention), a 7-minute, traditionally-animated short from Spanish directors Marcos Valín and David Alonso, was nominated in 2008 to the Goya Awards, which is the equivalent to the Spanish Academy Awards. This 2007 film set in a not-too-distant world of robot-patrolled mega-stores, is now available on the web for the first time.

Snoopy’s Reunion DVD Unleashed

I really enjoyed the recent Charles M. Schulz biography Schulz and Peanuts, so I’ve been pretty nostalgic over anything Peanuts these days. Thankfully a new DVD emerged last week - a rerelease of the 1991 made-for-TV special Snoopy’s Reunion, a 25-minute film directed by Sam Jaimes. Kinda funny how this times out with the Obama’s recent puppy adoption. Here’s a clip that sets up Charlie Brown’s visit to the Daisy Hill Puppy Farm, where he’s hoping to get himself a beagle.

Tax Day Linkomatic

Linkage to animation foreign and domestic, beginning with China International Business's overview of the Chinese animation industry:

Back in 2004, the Chinese government realized the need to offer additional support to the development of the local animation industry. In April of that year, the State Administration of Radio, Film and Television (SARFT) released its Principles for the Development of China’s Animation Film and Television Industry, a policy document stating that domestically-produced animations should make up no less than 60% of all animated programs broadcast on Chinese TV ...

These policies have forced the development of what was previously seen as a weak industry.
“In just a few years, both the quantity and quality of domestic animation has improved greatly,” says Deng Lili, animation research director at Peking University’s Institute of Culture Industries. According to her research, total domestic animation output reached 130,000 minutes in 2008, up from 20,000 minutes in 2004.

... But this growth is not necessarily benefiting the industry. “
We have found there are many problems within Chinese animation companies,” says Deng. “Many companies don’t have the potential to fully explore the market or enough capital to support their productions, and are not making valuable or interesting programs.”

At the same time as developing original content, most domestic animation companies continue to work for US and Japanese clients.
“They have to do this – they need to survive,” says Lu Shengzhang, director of the Animation School at the Communications University of China in Beijing.

So ... what we're looking at here is China's Five Year Plan for Animation, yes? ...

Newsarama offers up a capsule history of Warner Bros. Animation:

80 years ago, a number of under-employed animators banded together, struck a deal with a title-card manufacturer, and would so go on to make history.

The animators, Hugh Harmon, Rudolf Ising, and Isadore “Friz” Freling, were veterans of the first Walt Disney Studio. In fact, they all initially worked with Walt when he still lived in Kansas City. They had lost their jobs over Disney being robbed of his first true hit series, Oswald the Lucky Rabbit ...

Yet another take -- this time from Dvice -- on the permanence of 3-D. Unlike Jerry, they believe "3-D movies are here to stay":

... This 3D technique is yet another part of the language of film we can learn, and for me, it took all of five minutes in the DreamWorks screening room to become comfortable with the depth of 3D movie viewing.

And, because of the precision of digital video production and projection, 3D is more pleasant to watch this time around. "Captain 3D" at DreamWorks demonstrated to me how he's learned to use the 3D technique sparingly, and showed me the precise point where the depth becomes uncomfortable and gimmicky to watch.

Me, I don't really have an opinion on 3-D's long-term viability, although if it gets cheap enough to retrofit 3-D to older movies and there's money to be squeezed out of the deal, I imagine we'll see a lot of old titles popping off the screen at our defenseless eyeballs ...

Jay Stone at reviews a new French offering Fears of the Dark:

The animated compilation film Fear(s) of the Dark - Peur(s) du noir in the original title - includes black-and-white stories by six animators that are meant to frighten us, or perhaps just unsettle us or, in some cases, to impress us with the art of their drawing. I was neither frightened nor unsettled, but the artwork is great.

There are four mini-movies joined by two connecting stories that don't actually connect anything but set the mood, which is very dark and, in some way, very French ...

This is a tad old, but still useful. Animation Magazine questions Josh Weinstein about the upcoming Sit Down, Shut Up:

"The combination of the live-action backgrounds and animation was a look we didn't know for sure would work, but we wanted to take that risk—because if it works, it's such a totally new look. And, now having seen color animation back, I am really excited to see it does work, even better than I imagined. After a few seconds of watching it, it really appears to be one unique world you're looking at ..."


Sita Sings the Blues proves that the Indian Film Festival of Los Angeles features more than just the latest Bollywood imports. The film is an animated version of the Ramayana, a Sanskrit epic several thousand years old. The film oscillates between the modern couple in a troubled relationship and the ancient love story of Rama and Sita ...

One of the highlights of the film is the use of shadow puppets who give comments on the story of Rama and Sita which works on a number of levels. The shadow puppets explain backstory, provide snarky comments, and offer insight into story itself.

Any film that provides snarky candidates has more depth than most can imagine.

You're halfway through the week. Don't slack off now.

(Thanks Animation Guild Blog)

Bay Says Spielberg Thinks Transformers 2 is "Awesome"

Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen director Michael Bay says the film's executive producer, Steven Spielberg, thinks Bay's cut is "awesome" and that the new trailer will be released with X-Men Origins: Wolverine. Bay posted the following on his message board, :

Steven Spielberg sat next to me in a big 100 person theater at Sony today. There were 98 empty seats. The lights came up after we just watched my cut of Revenge of the Fallen. He turned to me and said
"It's awesome". He felt this movie was better then the first - and probably my best, who knows - at this point in a movie you start to lose your objectivity. I just hope the fans like it. I'm going to start putting it in front of audiences in a few weeks - no you are not invited, yet.

We have 60 days left. Let me tell you it will be a race to finish. It's 12 at night and we are still working here in the edit room. Everyone at ILM and DD are killing themselves right now, they are doing a stellar job on the effects. We also just finished our trailer which is coming out with Wolverine. Talk to you soon.

Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen hits conventional and IMAX theaters on June 24.

Too much meat in SpongeBob Burger King commercial?

A child advocacy group has a major beef with a Burger King commercial in which SpongeBob SquarePants appears with booty-laden females.

The ad, which began running last week, shows the Nickelodeon cartoon character touting SpongeBob SquarePants Kids Meals. Rapper Sir Mix-A-Lot says "Booty is booty" as several ladies with rectangular rears dance for the camera. Meanwhile, the Burger King character measures their butts.

The Campaign for a Commercial-Free Childhood has launched a letter-writing campaign demanding that Nickelodeon and Burger King withdraw the ad, in which Sir Mix-A-Lot's 1992 hit song "Baby Got Back" has the new lyrics, "I like square butts and I cannot lie."

Other lyrics include: "When a sponge walks in, four corners in his pants, like he got phone book implants, the crowd shouts. All the ladies stare, dang those pants are square."

The ad shows images of The King singing in front of women shaking their behinds for the camera intercut with images of SpongeBob dancing along. Apparently, it first ran during the NCAA men's basketball championship and other programming on the night of April 6.

"It's bad enough when companies use a beloved media character like SpongeBob to promote junk food to children, but it's utterly reprehensible when that character simultaneously promotes objectified, sexualized images of women," said CCFC director Dr. Susan Linn, a psychologist at the Judge Baker Children's Center.

The Boston-based CCFC describes itself as a national coalition of health care professionals, educators, advocacy groups and concerned parents.

At one point during the ad, The King measures the behind of one of the woman who has stuffed a phonebook under her dress. After the King informs children about the free SpongeBob toy they get with the purchase of a 99-cent Burger King Kids Meal, the ad ends with Sir Mix-A-Lot -- lounging on a couch with two female admirers -- saying, "Booty is booty."

"No parent watching a major sporting event with their children should have to worry about being assaulted by sexualized imagery," said Joe Kelly of, a CCFC steering committee member. "Featuring SpongeBob in an ad like this is a new low. Parents who hope to instill values in their children like respect for women would do well to steer clear of Burger King and Bikini Bottom."

Added Dr. Linn: "Cartoon characters play a powerful role in the lives of young audiences. That Burger King and Nickelodeon would sell Kids Meals by associating a beloved, male character like SpongeBob with lechery shows how little either company cares about the well-being of the children they target."

Said Josh Golin, the CCFC's associate director: "Associating a cartoon character who is wildly popular with young children with this kind of objectification of women and looking at and talking about their body parts, this is really a new low."

However, the ad isn't directed at kids, according to Miami-based Burger King and Nickelodeon.

The ad is "meant to appeal to the adults who take their families to Burger King restaurants," the fast-food chain said. "This commercial is intended to show that even adults can have fun, laugh and be silly with entertainment genres -- such as rap and pop culture icons -- that have become part of everyday life."

The Kids Meal is a "value-based offer aimed at adults" and isn't available without an adult BK Value Meal purchase, Burger King said. In keeping with all BK adult advertising campaigns, the controversial commercial is being aird "only during shows targeting adult audiences," according to the company.

Burger King says that a second, "completely different" SpongeBob advertising campaign for kids is now airing on programming directed to children..

However, the CCFC views that claim as a whopper.

"We find that incredibly disingenuous, considering this is an ad for a kids meal using perhaps the most popular kids' character," said Golin. Burger King may be consciously trying to push the envelope of public taste with the commercial, he added.

Korean Animation Museum is Under Construction

The new Korean Animation Museum designed by international design firm NBBJ is being built in the city of Bucheon and set to open in mid-2009.

Designed by NBBJ’s Los Angeles office, the $60 million museum project will be housed in a two-building complex that will include a library, auditorium, dining halls, restaurants, clubs, offices and the museum itself.

The design firm’s project team was managed by Robert Mankin, principal in charge for NBBJ, with internal design support from Nnamdi Ugenyi, Paul Q. Davis, Kiki Wang and Young-im Kim.

Cartoon to "Carry On" despite death of producer

In spite of the death of the man behind Britain's famed, saucy Carry On movie series, its animated spinoff will go ahead as planned.

Peter Rogers, producer of all 31 Carry On films between 1958 and 1992, died peacefully in his sleep at his Gerrards Cross, Buckinghamshire home at 4 p.m. Tuesday following a short illness. He was 95.

Long in the making, The Carryoons is a cartoon series that was to be supervised by Rogers. It features a host of vocal impressionists bringing Sid, Kenny, Hattie, Charlie and the rest of the team back to life in a brand-new series of cartoon adventures.

"Peter loved this project, so we hope to make the Governor proud," producer Ken Burns said Tuesday.

In 1999, Burns approached Rogers in 1999 with the idea of The Carryoons, proposing a series of 26 half-hour cartoons were proposed. Rogers took immediately to the concept, and a pilot went into production at Pinewood Studios in early 2001.

Top character designer Stephen Mansfield was hired to create the unique look of
The Carryoons
. Characters were drawn as they looked during the series' peak in 1968, and the animation style look on a 1960s look.

However, it remains extremely doubtful that another live-action film will be made. "We've lost so many original Carry On stars over the years that constantly dilute the chance of another future Carry On comedy being produced, and now without Mr. Carry On at the helm, I think it's time to call it a day," Burns said.

Close friends and colleagues from Pinewood had been concerned about his ill health for some months.

"We were saddened to learn of Peter Rogers' passing," Pinewood Shepperton chief executive Ivan Dunleavy said in a statement.

"Peter was an institution at the studios. As a prolific film producer, he worked at Pinewood Studios since the 1960s. The Carry On films, for which he was most well known... were enjoyed by millions internationally and will always remain a part of modern British culture."

Perhaps the most successful movie series in British history -- not excluding the James Bond movies -- the Carry On films were directed by Rogers' longtime colleague Gerald Thomas, who died away in 1992.

Carry On Sergeant was the first film in the franchise, which featured lots of slapstick humour and innuendo. Other installments spotlighted nurses, doctors, teachers, spies, cowboys... and such historical figures as Henry VIII and Cleopatra.

Kenneth Williams, Sid James, Frankie Howerd, Barbara Windsor, Leslie Phillips, Wendy Richard and Hattie Jacques were, at various times, among the members of the Carry On gang.

Phillips, 84, said that sometimes Rogers and the actors would argue about their salaries. "We all argued about the money he paid us, but I am in a fortunate position and I could move on," the Telegraph quoted him as saying.

"Some of the others, who have died, weren't able to, and if they were alive today, I would be interested to see what they would say.

"Since he made all those people famous, the world has changed in every conceivable way. Contracts were not sorted out in those days... I can afford to say I loved Peter. I was very fond of him and his wife," Phillips added.

Born in Rochester, Kent on February 20, 1914, Rogers was educated at Kings School in Rochester. He started his career as a reporter for the Kentish Express.

His first movie work was writing scripts for religious information films.

The last film in the series, 1992's Carry on Columbus, was a flop. Nonetheless, Rogers had wanted to revive the series with a 32nd film, Carry On London. Until earlier this year, he continued going to the Pinewood Studios office to work on the movie, although it didn't raise enough investment to become a reality.

His work was recognized at the British Comedy Awards in 1990 and by the London Critics' Circle in 1996. He lived long enough to attend the 50th anniversary celebration of the Carry On films at Pinewood Studios in March 2008.

Rogers married fellow film producer Betty Box in 1949; she died in 1999.

Funeral arrangements for Peter Rogers have not yet been announced.

Burns wishes to pay tribute to Rogers at a special event later this year. "This needs careful thought and planning to honor this Carry On legend, and it's what Peter would have wanted," he said.

It's undecided whether the event will be open to the public.

Peter Rogers at the Carryoons premiere at Pinewood Studios.

Claude Coats

Alan Coats, the son of legendary Disney background painter Claude Coats, has started a website about his father’s work at Right now, the site is mainly a storefront that sells giclée prints of Coats’ personal paintings, some of which are quite attractive. I hope Alan eventually fleshes it out with more family photos, personal ephemera, and career details as well.

One of the unexpected delights of the Internet age has been seeing the children of Golden Age animators launch websites devoted to their parents. After toiling in anonymity for their entire careers, it’s fitting that these artists would finally receive marquee recognition with entire destinations devoted to their individual accomplishments. The gold standards for family-operated artist sites are, and this incredible blog by Irv Spector’s son.

(link via Disney History)

(Thanks cartoonbrew)

"G.I. Joe: Resolute" to Premiere on Adult Swim on April 25, 2009

Hasbro has announced that the new micro-series G.I. Joe: Resolute will premiere on April 25, 2009, at midnight on Adult Swim and on-line. The 60 minutes of content will be broken up into 10 5-minute installments and one 10-minute finale. The series was written by Warren Ellis, animated by Titmouse Studios, and directed by Joaquim Dos Santos.

We preview the Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen game

Bumblebee (right) attacks

SCI FI Wire got a sneak peak at the upcoming video game based on Michael Bay's upcoming Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen movie late last month in San Francisco and saw gameplay and graphics on the Xbox 360. We also spoke with the team from Luxoflux, the game's developers.

You can play as either an Autobot or a Decepticon, and designers have completely overhauled the mission system from an earlier incarnation. Gameplay is nonlinear, and you can jump into any mission at any time. All the characters from the upcoming film are here, and for the most part you can pick your favorite and play as that Transformer for the entire game. (Spoilers for both game and film ahead!)


The game's designers have also revamped the transformation system, telling us that it is no longer just about jumping from robot to vehicle, but that you can do it seamlessly and quickly during gameplay.

In one of the moments we saw, Bumblebee carries Sam Witwicky (not a final version of Shia LaBeouf's voice) through the streets. As he transforms from car to robot, you can actually see how he moves Sam from his hand in robot form to the back seat in vehicle form.

Autobots and Decepticons now have a multiplayer option. You will be able to choose among "deathmatch," "team deathmatch" and, everyone's favorite, "capture the flag." We were also promised "a host of other options," though the designers wouldn't reveal what those might be.

The storyline was explained as well: Megatron was killed at the end of the first film, and the war is over, ... but, as the title suggests, not really. After the war, the Autobots team up with humanity to clean up any remaining incursions, but more and more seem to be happening.

Ironhide is the first on the scene in Shanghai (his special ability is to drop turrets). We are told that we are getting a live feed from Shanghai, and we watch as he kicks Decepticon butt. We see everything from Ironhide's perspective in this angle, though we were told that there are three preset camera options for gameplay and that you can switch easily among them. On the "heads-up display," you see a timer in the upper right-hand corner (all missions are timed) and a map on the right side as well. The upper left is a point indicator, and you have an overdrive meter at the bottom of the screen.

You are given a primary and secondary weapon, and though you never have to think about ammo, you must not allow the weapons to overheat. Again, all missions are timed, so it can present a problem if you have to sit and wait for the weapon to cool down.

Your overdrive meter is something else to keep an eye on. The developers called it "mass destruction mode." When it's full, it keeps you from overheating for a period of time, which helps in the timed missions. You get points for your work, and you can take them back to the Autobot or Decepticon hub to upgrade your faction. Just completing the mission gives you points, but you get more for things like not allowing Sam to be damaged, completing the mission in the shortest time, etc. You can display your prowess on the leader boards.

The developers stressed the seamless transition between forms and talked about the ability to hover, which is new for this game. We also got a sneak peek at the largest boss yet (and it was indicated that this was not the biggest) in Cairo, where we saw a Demolisher. We were told that it's eight times the size of the last boss.

As in God of War III and X-Men Origins: Wolverine, the trend seems to be gigantic enemies. Titans in God of War, Sentinels in Wolverine and giant robots here. The Demolisher looks like a huge transforming building with backhoes and tractors as arms. We also saw a bit of a flying mission that involved an explosion on an aircraft carrier.

The graphics look pretty incredible, and the designers were practically jumping out of their seats in excitement. Though we didn't get to play, it looks like a lot of fun. The designers told us that they had met with director Bay and added that there were a lot of secrets they weren't allowed to reveal because they are closely related to the film. The developers also said that there would be quite a few unlockables, including concept art, comic-book covers and skins. Hasbro opened its vaults for some really cool secret extras.

Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen will be available for all platforms, including the PlayStation 3, Xbox 360, PC and Wii, which will feature a few differences. The movie Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen comes out June 24; the game should be released at the same time.


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