Friday, May 1, 2009

News - 05/01/09...

Animated "Green Lantern: First Flight" Release Pushed Back; New Artwork Released

Warner Home Video has issued a press release, focusing on the newly announced one-week delay of the title, and the cover art for the one-disc edition of for the upcoming home video release of the direct-to-video animated feature Green Lantern: First Flight.


BURBANK, CA, (April 28, 2008) – The street date for Green Lantern: First Flight, the fifth entry in the popular DVD series of DC Universe Animated Original PG-13 Movies, has shifted to July 28, 2009. A co-production of Warner Premiere, DC Comics and Warner Bros. Animation, the illuminated hero’s first-ever full-length animated film will be distributed by Warner Home Video. Green Lantern: First Flight will be available as a special edition 2-disc version on DVD and Blu-Ray™ Hi-Def for $24.98 (SRP) and $29.99 (SRP), respectively, as well as single disc DVD for $19.98 (SRP).

Christopher Meloni (Law & Order: Special Victims Unit) leads the cast as the voice of Hal Jordan aka Green Lantern. The cast includes Emmy Award nominee Victor Garber (Milk, Titanic), Tricia Helfer (Battlestar Galactica) and Michael Madsen (Reservoir Dogs). Produced by animation legend Bruce Timm, Green Lantern: First Flight is directed by Lauren Montgomery (Wonder Woman, Superman Doomsday) and scripted by four-time Emmy Award-winning writer Alan Burnett (The Batman).

Green Lantern: First Flight finds Hal Jordan recruited to join the Green Lantern Corps and placed under the supervision of respected senior Lantern Sinestro. The earthling soon discovers his mentor is actually the central figure in a secret conspiracy that threatens the philosophies, traditions and hierarchy of the entire Green Lantern Corps. Hal must quickly hone his newfound powers and combat the treasonous Lanterns within the ranks to maintain order in the universe.

Green Lantern: First Flight. - 2 Disc DVD Special Edition and Blu-Ray versions include more than three hours of incredible bonus features as well as a Digital Copy Download.

ASIFA-East Presents - The 40th Annual ASIFA-East Animation Festival!

May 3rd, Sunday 6pm

ASIFA-East Presents - The 40th Annual ASIFA-East Animation Festival!

Yes, that’s right - 40 years! This is easily the most anticipated and exciting night of the year. Come help us celebrate - open to all, free admission and reception to follow! Flyer design by Elliot Cowan.

The New School
Tischman Auditorim
66 W. 12th St.
(bet. 5th/6th)

(Thanks asifaeast)

I Scream, You Scream…

… for a modern retelling of Hansel and Gretel that might make you rethink that soft-serve. Who’s Hungry? was made by first-year CalArts student David Ochs, and it’s pretty impressive; a fascinatingly morbid tale of old school Brothers Grimmery that features some beautiful hand-drawn animation. Watch it yourself and then watch the CalArts’ audience’s reactions, both below. All I know is that now I have just one more reason to fear Scott Joplin’s The Entertainer.


Wolverine Is The Last Man Standing In New ‘X-Men Origins: Wolverine’ Clip!

We’ve debuted a bunch of new clips from “X-Men Origins: Wolverine” this week, including the first look at Dominic Monaghan as the mutant Bolt and a two-part Wolverine vs. Blob brawl, but today’s clip puts Logan front and center. In the clip below, Wolverine delivers a message to William Stryker after the adamantium-enhanced mutant survives an explosive attempt on his life.

“X-Men Origins: Wolverine” premieres in wide-release Friday May 1.

Trade Ad For Upcoming "Green Lantern: First Flight" Direct-To-Video Animated Feature

The World's Finest has obtained a trade ad for the upcoming Green Lantern: First Flight direct-to-video animated feature.

Click on the thumbnail below for a closer look at the trade ad for the upcoming Green Lantern: First Flight direct-to-video animated feature.

A co-production of Warner Premiere, DC Comics and Warner Bros. Animation, the direct-to-video Green Lantern: First Flight animated feature will debut Tuesday, July 28th, 2009 on DVD and Blu-ray disc.

Steven Soderbergh's Partial AVATAR Review: "Holy S**t!"

Beaks here...

Remember back in 1998 when we got all worked up over Steven Spielberg's "Oh, my God!" response to early footage from THE PHANTOM MENACE? Well, I think's Ed Douglas just got an equivalent response from Steven Soderbergh regarding James Cameron's AVATAR.

Basically, Soderbergh was asked why he believes recent movies aren't impacting the culture as significantly as, say,
THE GODFATHER did in 1972. After expressing his disappointment with the absence of "benchmark" movies, he cautioned that AVATAR
might be the exception. His exact quote:

"I've seen some stuff and holy s**t. It's the craziest s**t ever. That could negate everything I just said."

While these two have worked together in the past (Cameron produced Soderbergh's SOLARIS), Soderbergh doesn't strike me as the logrolling type, so I'm willing to believe that he was really and truly blown away by what Cameron showed him. What's honestly more surprising to me is Soderbergh bemoaning the paucity of culturally significant movies over the last thirty-seven years. Did he not see ANOTHER YOU?

I'll be very interested to read the entirety of Douglas's review, which should be posted to ... er, soon.

(Thanks Ain't It Cool)

Adult Swim Adding British "The Office" to Lineup

The original British series The Office will be joining the Adult Swim line-up, according to The Hollywood Reporter.

The network has picked up two seasons of the series along with its Christmas special.

“Milt Kahl : Animation’s Michelangelo” paid tribute to a true Disney Legend

JHM's Todd James Pierce reports in on Monday night’s Marc Davis Celebration of Animation event at the Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences. Where many industry vets recalled Kahl’s artistry & attitude...

Known for both his temper and his stunning draftsmanship, Milt Kahl has been described as Disney’s “Jeckyll and Hyde” figure, a man who defined animation and defied his fellow animators. More than any other artists, Freddy Moore and Milt Kahl defined the Disney style. Freddy Moore designed the studio’s early “cute” characters: he transformed the rubbery Mickey Mouse of the 1920s into the more appealing and better-articulated character of the 1930s. Large eyes. Big forehead. A face configured for a wide range of expressions. A decade later, Milt Kahl guided the studio toward realism. He produced character designs for Bambi (1942), whose forest animals appeared far more realistic than similar animals designed for Snow White (1937). In the 1950s, he designed lead characters, such as Prince Phillip and Princess Aurora for Sleeping Beauty, that presented the human form with the grace and acuity of fine art drawings.

For years I have been interested in Kahl as an animator, an individual whose prickly personality seemed an unlikely match for the Disney organization. Like many artists of his generation, Kahl got his start in newspapers: drawing spot cartoons and illustrations. During the Great Depression, he found work as a commercial artist, creating lobby cards for Fox West Coast Theaters and advertisements for magazines. But when these jobs began to dry up, Kahl turned to Hollywood, as studio animation was one of the few places where an artist could make a living in 1934.

In terms of his personality, Kahl was a series of contradictions: he never graduated from high school, yet he was one of the most widely read men at the studio. He professed to dislike drawing, yet possessed a natural ability as a draftsman. He could infuse his characters with sustained warmth, patience and compassion, yet in his own life he burned with a fiery disposition. His individual drawings are beautiful, the characters arranged in interesting poses, the action uniquely staged, his compositions filled with vitality and life. His scenes and sequences remain among the most accomplished in the Disney cannon. Last Monday, I arrived at the Samuel Goldwyn Theater for the Milt Kahl tribute, hoping the event would help me better understand the man behind some of America’s best animation.

Close-up of the poster that was created especially for this year's Marc Davis Celebration of Animation event
Photo by Todd James Pierce

In the hour leading up to the presentation, I had the opportunity to talk with many individuals who had known and worked with Kahl. I focused each of my conversations on Kahl’s personality, specifically what had driven this man to impossibly high standards. I found animator Andreas Deja near the bar, talking with other animators. Deja has collected Kahl’s work for years and possesses a knack for discussing the intricacies of mid-century animation.

Over drinks, Deja explained the uniqueness of Kahl’s work. “It’s two things. The superb draftsmanship for starters. No one drew like him. He designed like eighty or ninety percent of all Disney characters. Secondly, his work was uniquely stylized and choreographed. His work has a different feel than that of the other animators." When I asked Deja about Kahl’s motivation, he replied that Kahl always claimed “that he had higher standards than everyone else.”

But for me, I wasn’t yet satisfied. I’ve known enough artists to understand that in many cases such individuals are formed by unique experiences and singular desires.

A few minutes later, I found the designer Alice Davis, who had known Kahl for four decades. Her husband, the animator Marc Davis, had been Kahl’s closest friend at the studio. Dressed in an elegant black dress with her hair twisted up into a bun, she explained that Kahl had come to animation simply to make money.“Back then,” she said, “a person was lucky to have a pair of pants to wear.”

I clarified my question, asking what drove Kahl to such high standards and to distinguish his work as superior when compared to that of other animators. Though the room was crowded, I saw that she now understood my question. She leaned closer, regarding me with dark, thoughtful eyes before speaking. “What makes you want to write?” she asked. She smiled as though all artistic passions were by their nature mysterious. She touched my arm then turned away to talk with another person.

Alice Davis chats with a friend at Monday night's pre-show reception at the Samuel Goldwyn Theater at the Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences in Beverly Hills, CA.
Photo by Todd James Pierce

The formal presentation did not begin until 7:30. Though I did not know it at the time, outside the theater a small riot was forming. The event had been oversold, with 150 ticketholders standing on the sidewalk attempting to talk or push their way into the theater. For most such animation events, the theater could’ve easily accommodated 150 last-minute guests. This year’s Academy Awards Symposium on Animation, for example, only partially filled this same theater. But for a tribute to the great Milt Kahl, animators and enthusiasts turned out in droves.

When the lights dimmed, I was seated front and center, exactly four rows in front of Leonard Maltin. I felt pretty good about this. Moreover, I hoped this evening’s tribute would open Kahl’s personality more fully to me.

I found moments of the presentation uniquely honest.Kahl’s daughter, Sybil Byrnes related stories of her father taking her fly-fishing. For her birthday, her father would show Disney cartoons to her school class and then draw pictures of Mickey Mouse and other characters, old party favors that now would be worth hundreds of dollars apiece. She explained that her father possessed a loud boisterous laugh, that he would complete crossword puzzles in pen.“He was very much a perfectionist at home. And often impatient with himself.” She paused for a moment, looking out at the audience, before adding, “And with us.”

To illustrate her father’s dark moods, she told only one story: “Once I left the garage door halfway open,” she began. “And the next morning, he got up when it was dark and went out to get the car. He smacked his head on the garage door. Of course I’m getting ready for school when I hear this four-letter word. He came in the house and said, ‘Where is that little bastard?’ But my mother had hidden me under the kitchen sink. Because my father would’ve killed me.”

Disney Legend Floyd Norman recalls his time working as Milt Kahl's assistant animator at Walt Disney Animation Studios
Photo by Todd James Pierce

One by one, animators explained Kahl’s practices at the studio. He kept a pellet gun in his office, one animator related, “and would just fire it into this James Joyce novel to relieve tension.” Kahl’s assistant animator, Floyd Norman, recalls that Kahl could stare for hours at the empty space above his desk, when preparing to draw a scene. “And I thought, is this guy ever going to draw? Eventually Milt would pick up his pencil and start drawing. But I think that the scene had already been animated in his head. He really thought things through.”According to director Brad Bird, “He would always be pushing for the next best thing,” adding that Kahl would draw obsessively, discarding image after image until he arrived at the right character pose to arrange into a scene. In terms of passing on his knowledge to younger animators, Bird added, “He wasn’t the most articulate teacher. He would just sputter and curse. But he would be drawing something that was fantastic.”

After watching the standards of Disney animation decline for years, Milt Kahl retired from the studio in 1976.“He got really mad toward the end,” Bird explained. “He felt like other people weren’t giving their best. And the studio was not giving its best when he was there. So he left a little pissed off.”

(L to R) Ron Clements, John Musker, Brad Bird and John Pomeroy compare notes after the event.
Photo by Todd James Pierce

He passed on a decade later, in 1987.

For me, the evening was filled with stunning images, individual drawings so graceful and precise that I often forgot they had been produced for animated films. But Kahl as a person remained unknowable. Each individual story cast a dime-sized beam of light on Kahl’s life. But together, these beams never transcended the surface, never exposed or explained the unique passions, never revealed the inner workings of America’s most gifted animator.

I left the theater near midnight, thinking of what Alice Davis had told me—“What makes you want to write?” By now I better understood what she had tried to explain, that Kahl’s talent could be observed but never fully understood, that his art was intuitive and that the great man himself most likely did not even know what made his soul different from that of other studio artists.

First look: Star Trek D-A-C, Top Gun

Paramount Digital Entertainment is looking to prove there’s plenty of gaming life in old franchises with the release of Star Trek: D-A-C and Top Gun.

The Trek game builds off the excitement for the upcoming movie. The game, developed by Naked Sky Entertainment in partnership with Bad Robot Interactive and CBS, offers an action take on the Star Trek universe, pitting Federation starships against the Romulans in various game play modes and game types.

Players can choose their side and then jump into a single-player game, an online multiplayer game with up to six players per side, or an online co-op game with up to six players working in tandem against an AI enemy.

There are three game types: Team Deathmatch, in which teams go head-to-head in a winner-takes-all fight to the first 50 kills; Conquest, in which teams must protect, conquer and hold various “control points” in space; and Assault, in which teams try to dominate or defend sectors of space.

The game serves up an engaging and beautifully designed arcade experience (no movie-related plot points or spoilers are involved) that should please wannabe starfleet captains.

The game, which is rated E, will be available in May on Xbox Live Arcade for Xbox 360, costing $10 or 800 Microsoft Points, and is coming shortly thereafter to the PlayStation Network and Windows PC platforms.

Available May 7 is Top Gun, a new game for the iPhone and iPod Touch based on the 1986 movie starring Tom Cruise.

The game makes use of the devices’ touch screens as the players learn how to avoid “danger zones” from Top Gun instructors Maverick and Iceman. The game is easy to pick up and looks terrific, with realistic lighting and modeling of planes as they race through their missions.

Of course, the game uses Kenny Loggins’ Danger Zone from the movie’s original soundtrack, as well as five songs by Paper and Sand to mix things up.

The game, developed by Freeverse, is rated E 10+.

(Thanks Animation Magazine)

Two Millimages Toons Will Screen in Cannes

French animation house Millimages will have a strong presence at the Cannes Film Festival this year. It was announced this week that the studio’s feature animated project Les Lascars: The Movie (Round Da Way) will be joining the lineup at the fest’s Critics Weeks sidebar. Based on a popular 2D adult animated series that ran on Canal+ for a couple of seasons, the movie is directed by Albert Pereira-Lazaro and Emmanuel Klotz.

Les Lascars features a top-notch Gallic voice cast, that includes Vincent Cassel, Diane Kruger, Gilles Lellouch and rap star Diam’s. The storyline finds the show’s cast of streetwise “homies” going through various summertime adventures or as the official synopsis declares: “Love, violence and criminal mischief are in the air in Condes-sur-Ginette!”

Millimages will also be well represented in the short film category with a beautiful new short titled Le Bucheron des Mots (The Wordcutter), directed by Izu Troin (Larmes, Ceux d’en Haut).

To learn about these two projects, visit and

(Thanks Animation Magazine)

Katzenberg Reups; DreamWorks Reports Record Q1

Jeffrey Katzenberg has renewed his contract with DreamWorks Animation, and will stay on as CEO of the studio he co-founded through 2013.

Katzenberg will continue to earn a salary of $1 a year, with the rest of his compensation tied to performance stock awards closely tied to the company’s stock price.

The studio, meanwhile, reported its best-ever first quarter earnings, based largely on the success of Madagascar: Escape 2 Africa and Kung Fu Panda. The results of Monsters vs. Aliens’ success at the box office will be mostly reflected next quarter.

DWA reported income increasing from $26 million in Q1 2008 to $62 million this year, while revenue rose from $157 million to $263 million.

Katzenberg told Variety it was too soon to tell if Monsters vs. Aliens is successful enough to warrant a sequel and said the company was considering several “fun ideas” for recreating the film’s 3-D experience on home video.

(Thanks Animation Magazine)

CN Levels Up Games Exec Waldron

Cartoon Network has named Chris Waldron to the job of VP gaming operations.

Waldron previously served as director of technology for Cartoon Network New Media and headed up Turner Broadcasting’s first game development studio.

In his new job, Waldron will oversee Cartoon Network’s game development studio, game production and the overall games strategy for Cartoon Network Digital. He also will continue to serve as executive producer on Cartoon Network Universe: FusionFall, a massive multiplayer online game that launched in January.

Based in Atlanta, Waldron will report to Paul Condolora, senior VP digital for Turner Broadcasting's Animation, Young Adults & Kids Media group.

(Thanks Animation Magazine)

Annecy Line-Up Announced

The jury is out on the feature-length animated films to be screened at this year’s Annecy festival in France. Nearly every continent is represented in the fest’s global sampler, as are all genres of our beloved craft.

Competing for the coveted Cristal this year are U.S. offerings Coraline by stop-motion maestro Henry Selick, 3-D B-movie farce Monsters vs. Aliens by Rob Letterman & Conrad Vernon, CG indie Battle for Terra by Aristomenis Tsirbas and the lyrical 2D piece My Dog Tulip by Paul and Sandra Fierlinger. Irish/French co-pro The Secret of Kells from Tomm Moore & Nora Twomey at Cartoon Saloon will offer fierce competition, as will Aussie auteur Adam Elliot’s Mary and Max.

These much gabbed about English language contenders will have to contend with action-packed anime
Redline from Takeshi Koike (Japan), 3D effort Kurt Turns Evil by Rasmus Sivertsen (Norway), cut-out hit man adventure Boogie, el Aceitoso by Gustavo Cova (Argentina), and a mixed 2D/cut-out proverb from Korea called The Story of Mr. Sorry by In-keun Kwak, Il-hyun Kim, Ji-na Ryu, Eun-mi Lee and Hae-young Lee.

Out of Competition, On to Screens

Nine more films will screen outside the competition. Japan leads with three submissions: Five-segment anthology
Genius Party Beyond
by Mahiro Maeda, Kazuto Nakazawa, Shinya Ohira, Tatsuyuki Tanaka and Koji Morimoto; Ghost in the Shell 2.0 by Mamoru Oshii; and the buzzed-about Sword of the Stranger by Masahiro Ando.

Also on tap are cute 2D toons from Germany, Kay Delventhal & Eckart Fingberg’s
Jasper and A Case for Friends…How It All Began (Mullewapp) by Tony Loeser & Jesper Moller [Germany]; and the zany CG offerings of Denmark: Sunshine Barry & the Disco Worms by Thomas Borch Nielsen, and Journey to Saturn from Craig Frank, Thorbjorn Christoffersen & Kresten Vestbjerg Andersen. Rounding out the selection are Israeli director Tatia Rosenthal’s stop-motion masterpiece $9.99 and a twisted puppet fairy tale from Canada by Neil Burns, Edison and Leo

For more information, visit or watch Animation Magazine for further updates!

(Thanks Animation Magazine)

Hamster Squaredance

Hamster Squaredance is one of the more visually distinctive music videos I’ve run across in a while. It was created for the musician Mr. Hayday by New Zealand-based Laurent Antonczak and Patricia Burgetsmaier. The lengthy description of the project on their Vimeo page does leave me slightly confused though:

The framework of “Hamster Squaredance” explores an aesthetic and conceptual relationship of rhythm and narrative by developing a new visual approach for displaying on small screens, mainly iPHONE. Furthermore “Hamster Squaredance” explores a new narrative structure (short-duration, screen limitations, narrative synchronised with music) and reinterprets the aesthetics of computer game industry from the early 80s into nowadays trend. While using basic, modular and simple graphics, which denote the early stage of computer development and its graphics, it develops yet highly crafted visuals, using the most advantageous elements of photography, illustrations and mix-media technique.

(Thanks cartoonbrew)

The Kuwait Times Profiles "Freej" Creator

The Kuwait Times profiles Mohammed Saeed Harib, creator of the Arab animated cartoon series, Freej. The article touches on his school days, the evolution of the Freej's main characters and his journey in bringing the cartoon to television in 2006. Freej follows the adventures of four older women, living in a secluded traditional neighborhood on the outskirts of the booming city, Dubai. The series currently airs on Dubai TV, Sama Dubai and Dubai One.

China Int'l Cartoon and Animation Festival Updates

The 5th China International Cartoon and Animation Festival (CICAF) is currently taking place in Hangzhou, capital of the Zhejiang province, and will run through May 3rd. The big winners of the Monkey King Awards were Dreamworks' Kung Fu Panda and a revival of the 1987 television series, The Calabash Brothers which received the festival's top foreign and domestic animated feature honors respectively. More than 320 institutions and enterprises from 38 countries and regions registered for the event and it is expected to attract nearly 700,000 visitors.

This year's upcoming animation festivals and industry trade shows include the China International Animation and Digital Arts Festival (CICDAF 2009) which will run from September 28 to October 1, in Changzhou of the Jiangsu province and the China International Cartoon Creative Industry Trade Fair, running October 28th through the 31st in Wuhu of the Anhui province.

Newsarama Speaks with Craig McCracken on the End of "Foster's"

Newsarama's Animated Shorts interviews the creator of Foster's Home For Imaginary Friends, Craig McCracken. McCracken touches on the struggle to keep the show original, his personal attachment to Foster's, Cartoonstitute, and his plans for the future.

Live-Action "Aqua Teen Hunger Force" Episode to Air Late May

This season of Aqua Teen Hunger Force will end with a live-action episode. Rapper T-Pain will star as Frylock. Jon Benjamin will play Master Shake. Carl's role will be filled by Dave Long Jr., first-time television actor and winner of the Burger King sponsored casting call which took place late in 2008. The episode is scheduled to air during Cartoon Network's adult-themed block, Adult Swim on Sunday, May 31 at 11:45pm (ET/PT).

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