Monday, June 8, 2009

News - 06/09/09...

7200 Frames

It was bound to happen. A reality show based on animators making an animated film.

7200 Frames is seeking independent animators from around the US with ideas for a short (five minute=7200 frames) animated film. The chosen films will be fully funded and the process will be documented on video from start to finish. According to their website:

The documentary series will be about the artists and the behind the scenes process of the creation of the animated films, so the submitting artist must be comfortable appearing on camera. The artists must be able to draw, animate and direct – as well as commit to a 4-6 week exclusive production schedule. Interviews will be held in Los Angeles and San Diego in Summer 2009. Applicants must be 18 or older.

Animators must submit portfolio or reel AND live footage of the artist describing his/her film idea. This live interview should be no longer than five minutes. All submissions are due by June 26, 2009.

Animators will be considered for this project during judging sessions that will take place during 2 days in LA and 2 days at the San Diego Comic Con (the producers have reserved a boat behind the Marriot for the judging).

For more information and a trailer, check the 7200 Frames website.

(Thanks cartoonbrew)

Shrek the Musical wins Tony Award

DreamWorks Theatricals’ Shrek the Musical took home a Tony Award for Best Costume Design of a Musical (Tim Hatley). The production was nominated for 8 awards including Best Musical.

Zoic Signs up VFX Legend Dutton

VFX luminary Syd Dutton has joined Zoic Studios, signing on to direct the company’s digital matte painting and feature film ventures.

Dutton got his start doing matte paintings under Albert Whitlock at Universal Studios.

In 1985, Dutton co-founded Illusion Arts, which went on to do visual effects and matte paintings in more than 200 films, including such hits as Night at the Museum: Battle of the Smithsonian, HBO’s John Adams, the Narnia films, The Bourne Identity, The Fast and the Furious, X-Men, Batman, Total Recall and Mad Max.

When Dutton and partner Bill Taylor recently decided to shutter Illusion Arts, Dutton came to Zoic based on his relationship with the studio. He first worked with Zoic on the 2005 Joss Whedon film Serenity.

"Illusion Arts is a family and I see many of the same qualities at Zoic," says Dutton. "They are constantly exploring new ways of creating and I find their enthusiasm for new developments and a respect for the process, and the people behind it, a great match for me and my work."

(Thanks Animation Magazine)

Licensing International Expo 2009 offers sneak peeks at new films from Fox, Pixar, DreamWorks Animation and Universal Studios

Jim Hill shares some shots that he took while wandering the aisles at Mandalay Bay's convention center. Which is where many of the major studios promoted their upcoming motion pictures last week

Did you ever wonder what it might be like to be able to see into the future? Well, as I wandered up & down the aisles at Licensing International Expo 2009, I got a little taste of what that must feel like. As I came upon promotional display after promotional display for motion pictures that would be " ... coming soon to a theater near you."

In some cases, I was only able to look a few days ahead. Take -- for example -- "Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen." Which opens on June 24th.

Photo by Jim Hill

In other cases, I was able to peer several weeks into the future. Like with "G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra." Which bows at your local multiplex on August 7th.

Photo by Jim Hill

Or -- in the case of "Astro Boy" (which premieres on October 23rd) -- I could see a full four months ahead.

Photo by Jim Hill

But the real thrill of attending Licensing International Expo 2009 was this event was where the studios try to get buyers interested in productions for 2010 and beyond. So while Fox may have been talking up "Alvin and the Chipmunks: The Squeakuel" last week ...

Copyright 2009 Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation & Bagdasarian Productions, LLC. All Rights Reserved

... (Which -- when this Betty Thomas movie bows on Christmas day -- will feature the big screen debut of CG versions of Brittany, Eleanor and Jeanette. AKA the Chipettes) ...

Copyright 2009 Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation & Bagdasarian Productions, LLC. All Rights Reserved

... What Fox's Licensing Department was really trying to get toy manufacturers & t-shirt makers excited about was the fact that they were now working with Walden Media to produce the third film in "The Chronicles of Narnia" series, "The Voyage of the Dawn Treader." Which is expected to sail into theaters just in time for the 2010 holiday season.

Photo by Jim Hill

And speaking of the 2010 holiday season, that's when Sony Pictures Animation expects to roll out its live action / CG "Smurfs" movie. Which this studio hyped last week by building a human-sized Smurf house right there in the middle of the convention center at the Mandalay Bay Resort & Casino.

Photo by Jim Hill

2010 looks to be a very big year for CG. What with DreamWorks Animation's "How to Train Your Dragon" swooping into cinemas next March ...

Copyright 2009 Dreamworks Animation LLC. All Rights Reserved

... while the fourth film in the "Shrek" series -- "Shrek Forever After" -- premieres on May 21, 2010.

Copyright 2009 Dreamworks Animation LLC. All Rights Reserved

Seven weeks later, Universal Studios rolls out its first 3D CG animated film, "Despicable Me." Which will feature Steve Carrell as the voice of Groo, a would-be super villain who plans on stealing the moon.

Copyright 2009 Universal Studios. All Rights Reserved

And speaking of comic super villains ... Next November, DreamWorks Animation releases "Oobermind." Which will feature Robert Downey Jr. as the voice of a super villain who doesn't know quite what to do with himself after he accidentally kills his archrival, Uberman.

Copyright 2009 Dreamworks Animation LLC. All Rights Reserved

Then comes 2011, when the studios start to get serious about super heroes once more with the fourth installment of the "Spider-Man" film series as well as 20th Century Fox's reboot of its "Fantastic Four" film franchise. Which will reportedly feature an all-new cast as well as a far darker take on this classic Marvel comic.

Copyright 2009 Columbia Pictures Industries, Inc., MARVEL & Marvel Characters, Inc.
All Rights Reserved

As for Mouse-related movie news coming out of this year's Licensing Show ... According to some folks I spoke with at Classic Media (i.e. the company that actually licenses the rights for The Lone Ranger), Walt Disney Pictures & Jerry Bruckheimer Films appears to have finally chosen who will helm the epic western that they're hoping to have in theaters by the Summer of 2011. And that would be Mike Newell, the director of "Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire" as well as the upcoming "Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time."

Photo by Jim Hill

As for the eagerly anticipated sequel that was originally supposed to have been Walt Disney Pictures & Jerry Bruckheimer Films' tentpole release for the Summer of 2011 (i.e. "Pirates of the Caribbean 4"), that movie first slid to Holiday 2011 and is now tentatively slated for release in the Summer of 2012.

Which -- I know -- will depress a lot of you "Pirates" fans out there. Having to wait a whole 'another year before you then get to see Johnny Depp as Captain Jack Sparrow again. So let me try & cheer you up by revealing that -- in addition to "Toy Story 3" and "Cars 2" -- Pixar Animation Studios has yet another sequel in the works.

"Which Pixar picture?," you ask. Well, though the buyers who attended these particular preview sessions were first sworn to secrecy by Disney officials, several immediately reached out to me afterwards to say how thrilled they were to learn that Pete Docter will be following up "Up" with a sequel to "Monsters, Inc."

As for the proposed storyline of this yet-to-be-officially-announced Pixar sequel ... Sorry. But I'm not able to see that far into the future. Not yet, anyway. Maybe after I attend Licensing Expo International 2010, I can then share a few more tidbits about this "Monsters, Inc." follow-up.

Shepherd’s Animation Soars To Victory

Matt Shepherd may find himself added to the judging panel if he keeps winning so much. This Canadian animator is a regular contributor to the 11 Second Club competition, and he’s now won it twice. Here’s his traditionally-animated entry that took the top prize in May.

CanalSat Ads Remote Controlled by Planktoon

We’ve featured a number of CanalSat campaign ads that Studio Planktoon worked on, and today we hereby continue this tradition. Planktoon collaborated with Euro RSCG on the creative front. Excellent animation timing throughout.

Pixarian Linkage

Lately there have been no festivals of links, so let us do one now ... focused on the Disney Co.'s Emeryville studio.

NPR/Fresh Air's Terry Gross interviews Peter Docter:

Docter, ... tells Fresh Air ... that the tale's influences included everything from Werner Herzog's Fitzcarraldo to the animated work of Hayao Miyazaki.

Docter also confesses to doing a bit of undercover research to help flesh out the central character in Up: He and several instrumentalist colleagues — Docter plays bass, the others ukuleles — visited a retirement home as volunteer entertainers but took the opportunity to observe the tics and habits of the elderly men in residence.

"And so we were playing for these guys and secretly kind of taking little notes for ourselves ..."

Pixar goes the DreamWorks Animation route, propogating sequels:

... [I]nformation regarding a sequel to Monsters Inc has been leaked. This information was purportedly told to the buyers at the Licensing International Expo 2009 ...

And Sim Brew at Den of Geeks worries about it.

I'm not quite sure how I feel about this. For the past few years, Pixar has come up with a collection of interesting and distinctive films, that stand apart in the market. ... [Y]ou generally get something far more daring and risk-taking.

However, for the next few years, it's seems that the focus at Pixar is going to be on sequels. This is understandable from a business perspective, certainly, given the fact that box office revenues for Pixar movies haven't ever since reached
Finding Nemo-esque levels. But it still puts an iota of worry in the back of my mind.

Uh, Simon? They call it show business for a reason ...

The L.A. Times ruminates on the literary ancestors of Up:

... [T]he theme of Lightness appears in children's literature. From Mary Poppins to Peter Pan, from Tarzan swinging on vines to Harry Potter scooting on his broomstick, children's stories seem to feature the quick, the lithe and the aerial. Maybe that's not surprising. While adults seem earthbound, youngsters zoom by on skateboards or jump from heights as caped incarnations of Superman ...

Little Wild Bouquet listens to criticisms about the lack of female protaganists in Pixar movies, and wonders:

... Saying that none of Pixar’s ten movies so far feature a female heroine just because they happen to keep coming up with great stories about boys strikes me as about as exculpatory as saying your friends – or your country club, or your Senate – are all White because you’re just waiting for a great worthy person of color to come along and join the group. If the “whimsy” of Pixar’s boys guides them exclusively to stories about other boys, and critics get together to challenge that, why should we root for the boys’ club to win out? Does whimsy trump equality?

I think the explanation is simpler than that: 1) Pixar is run and staffed by mostly males, 2) Hollywood leans toward male-centric entertainment for commercial reasons (Batman did far better at the box office than Catwoman; of course, the Catwoman movie sucked.), 3) It probably doesn't cross a lot of people's minds.

Ray Appen explains why Steve Jobs rules the world:

... In 2004 Mr. Jobs sold Pixar to The Disney Company for $7.4 billion – mostly in Disney Stock. Not a bad return on $5,000,000. Jobs is now the largest individual stock holder of Disney stock with 7.4% followed by Roy Disney at 1.4% and Michael Eisner around 1%.

... Jobs dumbs down technology better than any human being alive. It is easy to operate anything that Apple manufacturers. You would have thought that some of those 800 lb competitors would have figured that out buy now, but they haven't.

... Jobs did in fact save the music business with his iPods and his iTunes. Sometime in the next month or two Apple will have downloaded its billionth song. That's with a "B". And one other nifty little factor about Mr. Jobs and this music download business. In 2004 Apple had about a 74% share of all paid worldwide music downloads. Guess what Apple's share is today – almost six years later: try 75% ...

Have yourself a fine work week.

(Thanks Animation Guild Blog)

"Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles" Season 8 Coming in September

The eighth season of the original 1987 Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles series comes to DVD on 9/1/09 for $14.98. It will include all eight episodes from the short season:

* Get Shredder!
* Wrath of the Rat King
* Cyber-Turtles
* State of Shock
* Cry H.A.V.O.C.! (1)
* H.A.V.O.C. in the Streets (2)
* Enter: Krakus (3)
* Turtle Trek

News briefs: New Futurama? IMAX Transformers? Mickey Rourke in Russian?

Futurama reported a rumor that the defunct sci-fi animated series Futurama has been given a new 13-episode order by Comedy Central.

Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen director Michael Bay posted on his official message board that the film is nearly done, that it will feature 42 robots and that the movie will run slightly longer in its IMAX version "with more robot fighting. Four scenes were shot on IMAX cameras so the screen will fill the full IMAX screen for these scenes."

Neil Patrick Harris will play a supporting role in CBS Films' Beastly, a modern retelling of Beauty and the Beast, according to The Hollywood Reporter; Harris is playing a blind tutor who helps and bonds with a teen (Alex Pettyfer) who is shell-shocked from being turned into a hideous young man.

Iron Man 2 star Mickey Rourke told the Guardian newspaper that he'll be speaking Russian in his role as the villainous Ivan (Whiplash): "I decided to do half my role in Russian, and that's hard, because the Russian language doesn't roll off the English-speaking tongue very easily."

Kirsten Dunst will definitely be reprising the role of Mary Jane in the upcoming fourth Spider-Man movie, producer Todd Black told the New York Post.

Is Jon Favreau the George Lucas of tomorrow?

There's only one thing that would cause Jon Favreau to set aside his work on Iron Man 2—a call from George Lucas. The Star Wars director hand-picked Favreau to interview him when he's honored with the Gene Siskel Film Center Visionary Award for Innovation in Filmmaking at Chicago's Four Seasons Hotel next Saturday.

"It is hard to drop everything when you're on a film this big," Favreau recently told the Chicago Tribune. "But the Art Institute asked me to fly to Chicago for George. Nothing short of the death of a close relative would stop me from boarding that plane."

Chicago Tribune reporter Christopher Borrelli believes that there's a striking similarity between the two directors. He wrote that Favreau is a Hollywood craftsman who "has the potential to equal or surpass the senior filmmaker in craftsmanship and even storytelling ability." Check out his feature article to see if you agree and for further information on the event.

Ticket prices for "An Adventure With George Lucas" start at $400, rising to $50,000 for those who decide to become Visionary Award Sponsors. Proceeds from the event will support film presentations, lecture series and discussions with visiting scholars and filmmakers for public high school students, college students and the Chicago community.

Two Promos for The Dark Knight on HBO

The Dark Knight is premiering on HBO this Friday, June 13th, and the pay channel has started airing the following two promos for the event that use the song "Where is My Mind?" by the Pixies:

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