Wednesday, April 29, 2009

News - 04/29/09...

Freelancers Union

Animation Nation will be hosting an informational meeting in Burbank tonight. The main topic: setting up an organization for freelance artists, writers, and graphics designers.

People have asked me about the idea, and I think it's a fine one. And I encourage people to go and find out what AN has to say about the deal.

I've also been asked, "Is something like this, like, a union?" My answer is "no, not really" ... but Kevin explains it well, so let me turn the floor over to him:

...[T]he Freelancers Union in New York isn't a union in the same way TAG is a union.

A trade union (like the Animation Guild) functions to collectively bargain for a group of employees. There are a few key words in there -- 'collectively' and 'employees' in particular. If the goal is to get some kind of benefits for people who are NOT employees (i.e., independent contractors, people working on their own projects, students), then a trade union isn't part of the equation.

By statute, those groups cannot join or form a trade union. So I don't think you're talking about forming a 'second union', but instead a completely different kind of organization that would be useful in obtaining decent health benefits and perhaps more retirement benefits than one can achieve as an individual. What you're proposing isn't an alternative to TAG, but an alternative to independent contractors being completely on their own ...

Let me chime in here about the term "freelancer."

The way many people use the term today they mean "freelancer"/subcontractor. You can recognize one of these folks by the kind of check stubs they receive and the compensation forms they get at the end of the year. The checks have no taxes taken out; the form is a 1099.

But some artists and writers sling the term "freelancer" around when what they mean is: "Employee working out of studio on a daily, weekly, or unit rate basis."

In this case, the "freelancer" is paid with taxes deducted from his pay check -- income taxes, payroll taxes, the whole nine yards. And they get W-2 at the end of the year, not the 1099 document.

As you can see, "freelancer"/employee is a different category from subcontractor. And as Kevin says, he or she can be part of a union or guild, while the subcontractor cannot.

In any event, if you fall into the subcontractor category, or just want to know about the "Freelancer Union" concept, hop over to Burbank tonight and partake.

(Thanks Animation Guild Blog)

The Milt Kahl event

Last night’s Milt Kahl tribute at the Motion Picture Academy was a huge (though a bit long) success - if you got into the theater.

Those inside were treated to a wonderful art exhibit of Kahl drawings, model sheets and cels from scenes he’d animated. Everyone got a commemorative poster and program brochure. The screening included Kahl’s finest animation on the big screen, everything from his first Mickey’s Circus (1936) to his last, Medusa in The Rescuers (1977). Andreas Deja and Charles Solomon did the hosting chores, and special guests Brad Bird, John Musker, Ron Clements, Floyd Norman, John Pomereoy, Kathryn Beaumont, Alice Davis and Sybil Barnes (Kahl’s daughter) told great stories about the man and his influences. Clips of Kahl from amateur video interviews were a highlight, as was the excerpt from the Disneyland TV show “The Story of Dogs” with Kahl himself - and Andreas, once again doing an amazing job of analyzing Kahl’s drawings, using an overhead projector to display rare examples of his work.

However, all was not well outside the Academy building. Brian Johnson, posting on my Facebook page reported:

“I have been looking forward to that once in a life time event and was pissed that (along with 150 angry people) were not allowed in even though we bought our tickets months ago!! They simply oversold hundreds of tickets and ruined a lot of people nights!”

Darrell Van Citters wrote me as well:

“It seems that the Academy deliberately oversold the event, leaving a large number of ticket holders with no recourse. They did issue refunds but you had to stand in line all over again to get your money back. When they told the crowd they wouldn’t be allowed in, they brought out two ineffective-looking security guards in case things turned ugly. The whole thing was shameful and as my Disney friend said on our way back to our cars, “I’ve never gone to one of these Academy things before and I don’t think I will again.”

On future Brew postings for the Academy, you might want to include a disclaimer to the effect that “buying a ticket does not guarantee a seat”. I know I won’t waste my time on another event there.”

I’ve rarely seen any Academy event sold out like this… and the animation events are less likely to do so. I had heard the event was sold out shortly after we announced it on Cartoon Brew last month. A huge story on Kahl in last Wednesday’s LA Times probably caused the overflow of attendees. I can only hope the Academy will continue its animation programs with a better grasp on ticket allotment and crowd control.

(Thanks cartoonbrew)

Aardman Starts on Pirates!, Arthur Christmas

Aardman Animation is going full speed ahead with production starting on two new feature-length animated feature films for Sony Pictures.

The two films are Pirates!, which will be a stop-motion film using the studio’s traditional hand-modeled clay figures, and Arthur Christmas, a CG-animated film.

The announcement was made Monday by Aardman co-founders David Sproxton and Peter Lord, and Sony Pictures chairman and CEO Michael Lynton and studio co-chairman Amy Pascal.

Pirates! is based upon The Pirates (in an Adventure with Scientists), one entry in the bestselling series of books by Gideon Defoe. Lord and Jeff Newitt are directing the film from a script by Defoe. Julie Lockhart is producing the movie, with Carla Shelly, Lord and Sproxton serving as executive producers.

Arthur Christmas, which promises to answer the question of exactly how Santa Claus delivers all those presents in a single night, is directed by Sarah Smith and Barry Cook from a scrip by Peter Baynham and Smith. The film is produced by Cheryl Abood, with Steve Pegram as co-producer and Shelley, Lord and Sproxton on board as executive producers.

Aardman is working with Sony Pictures Imageworks on the animation for the film.

(Thanks Animation Magazine)

Mutants and Bugs Make for Looney Week of DVD Releases

Classic animation gets its due this week, with the DVD releases of the full-length feature film The Looney, Looney, Looney Bugs Bunny Movie and the classic 1990s superhero series X-Men.

Looney, Looney, Looney Bugs Bunny Movie
(Warner Home Video, $14.98) is part of the Looney Tunes Movie Collection and compiles a number of classic shorts directed by Friz Freleng connected by new animated material. The feature film was released to theaters in 1981. The DVD also features a trio of bonus cartoons: Box-Office Bunny, From Hare to Eternity and Pullet Surprise.

Also due out this week are X-Men Vol. 1 and Vol. 2
(Buena Vista Home Entertainment, $23.99 each), collecting the first 33 episodes of the classic TV series.

Other animated releases include
Cartoon Galaxy Vol. 1 (Indican, $14.99), American Dad Vol. 4 (Fox, $39.98), Jetsons: The Movie (Turner, $14.98), The Spectacular Spider-Man Vol. 4 (Sony, $19.94) and Inuyasha Season 7 ($119.98 Deluxe Edition, $99.99 Standard Edition),

Major live-action studio releases for the week include
Hotel for Dogs (DreamWorks, $30.99 DVD, $39.99 Blu-ray), Bride Wars (Fox, $29.98 DVD, $39.99 Blu-ray) and The Uninvited
(DreamWorks, $29.99 DVD, $39.99 Blu-ray).

(Thanks Animation Magazine)

Euro Markets Snap Up New Noddy Series

Noddy sure isn’t showing his age as he celebrates his 60th anniversary by landing sales in several international markets.

Distributor Chorion has sold the new series Noddy in Toyland and Make Way for Noddy, the previous series based on the classic British children’s books, into markets across Europe.

RTP Portugal, TV2 Norway and MTV Oy in Finland have picked up Toyland (52 x 11), which has already been pre-bought by Five in the UK and by France 5. MTV Oy Finland has also acquired Make Way For Noddy, along with Spanish broadcaster TVE, which has taken the free TV rights to all 100 x 10 episodes of the show for broadcast on La 2 and Clan TV.

Based on the book by Enid Blyton which has continuously been in print since 1949, Noddy in Toyland debuted on Five’s preschool brand Milkshake! on April 20 and will air on France 5’s les Zouzous in the summer.

(Thanks Animation Magazine)

Toho Chairman Matsuoka Resigns

Isao Matsuoka is stepping down as chairman of Japanese film studio Toho after more than 50 years with the company.

Matsuoka became president of the company in 1977 and successfully restructured the company to minimize the financial risks of producing movies, Variety reports. During his reign as chairman, Toho produced many monster films starring Godzilla and Mothra, and distributed films like Studio Ghibli’s My Neighbor Totoro, the Akira Kurosawa film Ran, and horror films including The Ring.

The son of a former president of the studio and grandson of the studio’s founder, Matsuoka will continue to serve as honorary chairman of Toho and chairman of the Federation of the Japanese Films Industry.

(Thanks Animation Magazine)

Aardman and @Bristol Team Up for New Exhibition

Aardman Animation stars Wallace & Gromit are the main attractions in a new exhibit due to open this summer at Explore @Bristol in the United Kingdom.

The interactive exhibition, titled Animate It, is being installed and tested to open this summer. It will allow visitors to create their own animations and broadcast them on an interactive website.

The exhibition — with a budget of £400,000 ($586,000), according to the website — also will include artifacts and props from the Aardman vaults.

(Thanks Animation Magazine)

"Shrek"-loving couple has big fat Green wedding

It's easy being green... if you happen to be Mr. and Mrs. Green.

After three hours in makeup, Keith Green and Christine England walked down the aisle in Barnstaple, England in full costume as Shrek and Princess Fiona of the DreamWorks feature films.

The groom, a 44-year-old builder, married England, a 40-year-old hospice nurse, before 100 guests who were also dressed as characters from the animated films, including Donkey and the Gingerbread Man.

"Every girl wants a fairytale wedding and I got one -- with a bit of a twist. It was a great laugh," said England. "The idea just came to me. I knew what we would go as because Keith looks just like Shrek.

"It was funny because when we said our vows, Keith had these green ears sprouting from the top of his head."

However, England couldn't persuade her 18-year-old son (from a previous relationship) to don Donkey gear. He said "he wasn't having any of it," she said.

Apparently, Green doesn't seem to mind being compared to an ogre.

"It was a very strange experience, to say the least, but a thoroughly enjoyable one. We love the films."

The Green pair hired a makeup artist to make them resemble the characters voiced by Mike Myers and Cameron Diaz in the blockbusters.

"It's not necessarily how you imagine seeing your daughter get married, but it was great fun," Thursday's Telegraph quoted the bride's mother, Annette England, 66, as saying.

Quipped the groom, a father of two: "It may look odd -- but we're ogre the moon."

Here comes the bride, all dressed in... green.

Fox Bumps Sit Down, Shut Up!

After airing only two episodes, Fox has moved its new animated comedy series Sit Down, Shut Up! from its 8:30 p.m., post-Simpsons position to 7 p.m. Sundays.

The move comes after disappointing ratings and poor reviews for the new show, which was created by
Arrested Development's Mitch Hurwitz, based on an Australian live-action comedy series. The series earned a 1.9 rating and 5 share for its second episode, down from 2.3 and a 6 share for the premiere.

Sit Down
will now be followed at 7:30 p.m. by repeats of American Dad, while the final episodes of the long-running King of the Hill
will now air at 8:30.

(Thanks Animation Magazine)

Zeke’s Pad Top Toon at Elan Awards

TV series Zeke’s Pad took home top animation prizes at the third annual Elan Awards, which honor achievements in video games, animation and visual effects.

Tom Kenny, who hosted the awards ceremony in Vancouver, Canada, also was honored with an award for best voice over performance for his work on
SpongeBob SquarePants, while Disney/Pixar’s WALL•E
won the best animated feature honor.

The full list of winners follows.


Best Feature Length Animated Production

Disney / Pixar

Best Animated Television Production
Zeke's Pad

My Pad Prod's / Avrill Stark Entertainment; Bardel Entertainment Inc. / Flying Bark Productions
Delna Bhesania, Producer; Liz Scully, Producer; Leonard Terhoch, Producer; Avrill Stark, Producer

Best Animated Short Subject
World of Warcraft: Wrath of the Lich King
(intro cinematic)
Blizzard Entertainment
Jeff Chamberlain, Director; Phillip Hillenbrand, Producer

Best Director for an Animated Production
Wapos Bay: The Series

Wapos Bay Studio National Film Board of Canada
Dennis Jackson,Director; Melanie Jackson, Director; Cam Lizotte, Director

Best Voice Over in an Animated Production (All genres)
Tom Kenny
Nickelodeon's SpongeBob SquarePants

Best Character Animation
Toot & Puddle

Mercury Filmworks / National Geographic Kids Entertainment
Graham MacDonald, Animation Director; Emma Gignac, Animation Director; Kim Buck, Animation Supervisor; Justin Sels, Animation Supervisor

Best Art Direction
Zeke's Pad

My Pad Prod's / Avrill Stark Entertainment; Bardel Entertainment Inc. / Flying Bark Productions
Zoe Evamy, Senior Art Director; Patricia Atchison, Art Director


Best Student Video Game

Bryant DJ Davey, Xbox Director; Su Yon Sohn, Web Presence Director; Liam Kelly, Support
Masters of Digital Media, Centre for Digital Media, Vancouver BC.

Best Student Animated Production

Shane Plante, Algonquin College Animation Program, Ottawa ON

Best Visual Effects in a Student Project
Space Bar

George Kyparissous, Lost Boys Learning, Comox BC


Best Visual Effects in a Visual Effect Driven Feature Film

The Embassy VFX, Inc. / Ironworks Prod's; Marvel Studios / Paramount Pictures
Iron Man
The Embassy's Winston Helgason, Visual Effects Supervisor; Charlie Bradbury, Visual Effects Producer; Stephen Pepper, Compositing Supervisor; Michael Blackbourn, CG Lead

Best Visual Effects in a Broadcast Series, Miniseries or MOW
Bartleby Co. and The Halcyon Co. in assoc. with Warner Bros. Televisions
Terminator - The Sarah Connor Chronicles
Jim Lima, VFX Supervisor; Steve Galich, SFX Coordinator

Best Visual Effects in an Independent/Short Film
Pix Ray VFX / Gloryous Production, 2.8 Pictures
Rock Garden: The Love Story
Andrew Szerszen, VFX Supervisor; Guy Gatenby, Lead Matte-Painter; Michael MacInnis, Lead Composer

Best Visual Effects Shot
Spin VFX / 20th Century Fox
Max Payne
Jeff Campbell, VFX Supervisor; Eric Doiron, Compositing Supervisor; Mark Schreiber, Lead Animator; Tim Sibley, Lead FX TD

Best Digital Environment
Spin VFX / 20th Century Fox
Max Payne
Jeff Campbell, VFX Supervisor; Eric Doiron, Compositing Supervisor; Mark Schreiber, Lead Animator; Tim Sibley, Lead FX TD 

Best Animated Character
MPC / Walt Disney and Walden Media
The Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian
Greg Fisher, Animation Supervisor; Peta Bayley, Lead Animator; Julio del Rio Hernandez, Lead Animator; Tom Reed, Head of Rigging


Video Game of the Year 

Left 4 Dead


Best Console Game 

Fallout 3

Bethesda Softworks
Todd Howard, Game Director; Emil Pagliarulo, Lead Designer & Writer; Gavin Carter, Lead Producer 

Best PC Game
Left 4 Dead

Best Casual/Arcade Game
Mystery Case Files: Return to Ravenhearst

Big Fish Games
Pat Wylie, Adrian Woods, Chris Campbell, Producer

Best Mobile/Handheld Game
Club Penguin: Elite Penguin Force
1st Playable Productios/Disney Interactive
Tobi Saulnier, Founder & CEO, 1st Playable Productions; Zhenelle Falk, Producer/ Designer; Andrew Carroll, Lead Programmer; Ian McConahey Stead, Lead Artist 

Best Sound in a Video Game Prod'n
Mike Larson, Audio Director; Steve Jablonsky, Composer; Jamey Scott, Sound Designer; Joey Kuras, Sound Designer
Epic Games, Microsoft
Gears of War 2

Best Art Direction 

Istvan Pely, Lead Artist
Bethesda Softworks
Fallout 3 

Best Game Design
Gabe Newell
Left 4 Dead 

Outstanding Technical Innovation

Gabe Newell
Left 4 Dead

(Thanks Animation Magazine)

Obama Stars in Toon Spoofs

Having already risen to superstar status in the political world, President Barack Obama is now coming to animation.

Ukraine-based CFC Consulting will unveil Thursday Barack Obama Superstar: The Untold Story, a series of humorous animated cartoons celebrating Obama’s first 100 days in office. The series offers a satirical look at Obama’s worldwide popularity and features parodies of American political figures and world leaders.

The cartoons will be presented at a press conference in New York that also marks the launch of CFC’s new MuPoTOONs — an initiative to produce cartoons that combine music and politics into a new form of news analysis.

CFC made the film in partnership with Future Media Arts, and a preview of the series can be seen at

(Thanks Animation Magazine)

Iron Man Debuts to Strong Ratings

The Friday night premiere of Iron Man: Armored Adventures scored strong ratings for Nickelodeon, becoming the network’s highest-rated original series premiere ever with boys ages 6-11.

The two-episode, one-hour premiere averaged a rating of 2.0/125,000 in the demographic, a more than 100 percent increase in all kid demos.

The episode helped the network post its best ever ratings in all core demographics and in total viewers for the month of April. It also drove traffic to, which reported 239,000 visitors, an increase of 389 percent over last year) and 1.9 million page views (up more than 1,000 percent) during the week of April 20.

(Thanks Animation Magazine)

ANIME! High Art - Pop Culture

The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, in association with Deutsches Filmmuseum in Franfurt Germany, will be presenting an exhibit of original anime art in their Beverly Hills HQ lobby and 4th Floor Gallery.

From May 15th through August 23th, the Academy will present ANIME! High Art - Pop Culture featuring collectors items and rare animation artwork seldom seen outside Japan. A portion of the exhibition is devoted to manga and its relationship to anime; the whole exhibit will provide a historical overview of the development of Japanese comic book and animation genres. Public viewing hours are Tuesday – Friday: 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday – Sunday: Noon to 6 p.m. Closed Mondays and May 23–24. Admission: Free. For more info, visit the Academy website.

(Thanks cartoon brew)

"Superfriends: The Lost Episodes" Coming to DVD reports that Warner Brothers will release Superfriends: The Lost Episodes on DVD August 11th.

The 2 disc set includes 24 short cartoons that never aired in the United States until the 90s when it aired in The Superman/Batman Adventures. Also included are 2 downloadable Superfriends comics in PDF Format.

"Wonder Pets" Season 3 Begins May 18 with One of Eartha Kitt's Final Performances is reporting that the third season of Nickelodeon's Wonder Pets! will begin on May 18, 2009, and that one of the episodes will contain one of performer Eartha Kitt's final performances before her passing last year from colon cancer. Kitt will voice Cool Cat who wants to scat, alongside Hip Hippo (voiced by jazz singer Jon Hendricks). Other guest stars this season will include Lauren Bacall and Ben Vereen.

"SpongeBob SquarePants: First 100 Episodes" DVD Set Coming September 22, 2009

USA Today is reporting that SpongeBob SquarePants: The First 100 Episodes DVD set will be released on September 22, 2009, with a suggested retail price of $99.98. The set will contain more than 36 hours of episodes and bonus features, which will include commentary tracks by Tom Kenny, the voice of SpongeBob.

Christian Bale on the Third Batman Movie

Total Film talked to Christian Bale about the follow-up to The Dark Knight. Here's an excerpt:

"Will we do a third movie? It's got to be the right story. You can't make something like 'The Dark Knight' and then come out with something disappointing.

"I would like it if people say, 'You'll never make a good third movie.' I say, 'OK, let's make a third movie in that case, let's prove them wrong. But that's just me. The fact is, I have to! I've signed up! Chris doesn't. So I'm in a bit of a fix if he says he doesn't want to!"

For more quotes, go here. Before he can start on a third movie, director Chris Nolan is first making the sci-fi action film Inception for Warner Bros.

Roberto Orci confirms Frank Welker will voice Soundwave in Transformers 2

As SCI FI Wire reported last month, Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen director Michael Bay went public with the news that he was going after original Transformers voice actor Frank Welker to play the role of Soundwave in his upcoming film.

UGO Movie Blog has gotten the first "official" confirmation of Welker's casting during an exclusive interview with screenwriter Robert Orci:

Jordan Hoffman: Who's voicing Soundwave in Transformers?
Roberto Orci:
Jordan Hoffman: That's official?
Roberto Orci:
I think so.
Jordan Hoffman: Uh oh.
Roberto Orci: Might be something I just told you for the first time, but I think so.
Jordan Hoffman:
Good to know.

Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen stars Shia LaBeouf, Megan Fox, Josh Duhamel, Tyrese Gibson, Kevin Dunn, Julie White, John Benjamin Hickey, Ramon Rodriguez, Isabel Lucas and John Turturro. It opens in conventional and IMAX theaters on June 24.

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