Friday, June 12, 2009

News - 06/12/09...

Murphy to Woo Up’s Family Auds

Eddie Murphy and the duo of Denzel Washington and John Travolta enter the box-office battle this week, tackling both the expected powerhouse of Up and the unexpectedly triumphant The Hangover.

Washington and Travolta debut their thriller
The Taking of Pelham 123 at some 3,000 theaters. The Sony/Columbia release is directed by Tony Scott and a remake of a 1974 feature directed by Joseph Sargent. It was more recently remade in 1998 as a TV movie.

Eddie Murphy goes the family comedy route with
Imagine That, playing a harried executive who finds the answers to his business dilemmas in daughter’s vivid imagination. The Paramount release opens in 2,800 theaters and is directed by veteran Disney and DreamWorks animation writer/director Karey Kirkpatrick (Chicken Run, Over the Hedge, The Spiderwick Chronicles, Charlotte’s Web).

Saturday will see a sneak preview of the romantic comedy
The Proposal, starring Ryan Reynolds and Sandra Bullock, on some 800 screens.

And both
Up and The Hangover could continue to crowd the top of the box office charts. Up has the benefit of being both a family film and a 3-D attraction, while The Hangover
is enjoying strong word of mouth.

(Thanks Animation Magazine)





John Lasseter at Studio Ghibli

Pixar Planet shares details on John Lasseter’s recent visit to Studio Ghibli in Tokyo. Lasseter, who was in Japan to promote Bolt, visited Ghibli Museum and also signed the wall of fame. John Lasseter and the crew of Bolt also sat down to talk about their craft with Hayao Miyazaki and Toshio Suzuki.





Nick Park visits Studio Ghibli

Official Wallace & Gromit site reports that Nick Park, the creator of Wallace and Gromit, paid a visit to Studio Ghibli where he was introduced to studio founder Hayao Miyazaki and producer Toshio Suzuki. Nick Park took a tour of the studio, meeting the Ghibli team and viewing the play school, designed by Hayao Miyazaki. He also visited Ghibli Museum to view its current exhibitions, including a brand new Wallace and Gromit display.





Life-Size Gundam Built In Japan

While most dread turning 30, Japan’s most beloved mobile suit is standing tall… literally. Earlier this week Japan became the proud owner of the first life-size Gundam, which now towers over Tokyo Bay’s Odaiba Island.

Built by Bandai in celebration of the 30th anniversary of the “Mobile Suit Gundam” anime series, the iconic Gundam RX-78-2 replica stands close to 60 feet tall, making it the first ever in-scale mobile suit to accurately portray the proportions of the legendary mecha. There’s a gallery of photos of the suit on a Japanese-language blog, but we’ve posted a pair of our favorites here.














Though many sequels and spin-offs sported new suits of armor, this particular model effectively stands as the symbol of the franchise thanks to the success of original pilot Amuro Ray’s adventures.

For “Gundam” fans, the image almost seems too good to be true — like a Photoshop prank gone horribly right. Fortunately for fans, the shots represent a very real feat of engineering.

Many other Gundam model replicas have been built before at a smaller scale, but the closest Bandai had come to constructing the symbol of the franchise up until now came in the forms of a giant lantern and a shell housing an interactive theme park attraction, neither of which was constructed from the ground up. The new replica is also rumored to sport light-up and mechanical features. Sadly, they won’t manifest in the form of a working beam sword.

The replica will be on display through most of the summer, giving fans with the proper documentation and plenty of spare yen a very tall reason to visit the Land of the Rising Sun.




















Zula Patrol Creators, IBM Unveil Zulaworld.com

IBM and the creators of the popular science-based animated NBC children’s series The Zula Patrol have teamed up to create a new entertainment and educational site for children.

The site, aimed at kids ages 6 and older, lets users create their own avatars, fly their own space ships and explore the cosmos in a fun way.

The creative, technical and educational team that created the site has designed the games to engage children while encouraging critical thinking skills.

The site’s creators worked with IBM Research and used the company’s Virtual World Administration software in creating and maintaining the site.

“Since we first began developing our television series, our goal has been to inspire young kids’ natural curiosity about science so they become inquisitive lifelong learners,” said Dr. Deborah Manchester, creator of The Zula Patrol. “IBM has been the ideal collaborator to extend our mission by working with us to create one of the most entertaining, content-rich kids’ sites available today.”

Visitors have basic access to the site for free, with subscriptions offering access to more levels and activity available for $5.99 a month, $29.99 for six months or $49.99 for a year.

(Thanks Animation Magazine)





Nick Orders Neutron Spin-off, T.U.F.F. Puppy Series

Nickelodeon has ordered 26 episodes of Planet Sheen, a spin-off from The Adventures of Jimmy Neutron, Boy Genius, and 13 episodes of Butch Hartman’s new series T.U.F.F. Puppy.

Planet Sheen
is the creation of Steve Oedekerk, who created and has overseen the Jimmy Neutron franchise since its inception. It stars Sheen Guevera Estevez, the hyperactive, attention span-challenged kid from Jimmy Neutron, who is now stuck on a planet with limited technology and baffling inhabitants.

Oedekerk, Keith Alcorn and Jim Hope are executive producers on the series, which features the voices of Jeff Garcia, Bob Joles, Rob Paulsen and Soleil Moon Frye, and is produced by O Entertainment for Nick.

T.U.F.F. Puppy
follows the adventures of a gung-ho but dim-witted dog named Dudley Puppy who is recruited by the Turbo Undercover Fighting Force, or T.U.F.F. Nickelodeon Animation Studios is producing the series, which will feature the voices of Eric Bauza, Grey DeLisle, Jeff Bennett and Daran Norris.

(Thanks Animation Magazine)





VIZ Media Joins PlayStation Network

VIZ Media is coming to the PlayStation Network, offering up downloads of Bleach, Death Note and Naruto through a branded channel on the video service.

The service begins immediately with 13 episodes of
Naruto, 20 of Bleach and the entire 37-segment Death Note
series available for download at $1.99 each.

Episodes will be English-dubbed in standard definition and available for viewing via a PlayStation 3 console or on a PlayStation Portable.

Naruto, Bleach and Death Note are compelling additions to the PlayStation Network and an ideal complement to the dynamic library of content, games and applications available for the PS3 and PSP,” says Ken Sasaki, VP of strategy and business development for VIZ Media. “Together, these series have set a new standard for anime throughout the world and the ease of download, combined with portability and interoperability between many media devices, will allow fans to watch their favorite ninjas in training, Soul Reapers and Shinigami Death Gods whether at home or on the go, wherever and however they want.”

(Thanks Animation Magazine)





Autodesk Expands Training Assistance Program

Autodesk is expanding its assistance program, designed to help displaced workers in the architecture, engineering, design and manufacturing industries keep up their skills and improve their chances of finding a new job.

The expansion boosts the number of software applications available under the program from four to 17, includes a discount for companies that hire program participants and offers a new license for AutoCAD software and enhancements to learning materials.

The program has more than 4,600 participants and has covered more than 5,000 product downloads to date.

"We continue to receive overwhelmingly positive feedback from both customers and partners participating in the Autodesk Assistance Program, which further validates that this program is helping customers improve their productivity and competitiveness during this challenging and volatile time," said Steve Blum, senior vice president of Americas sales at Autodesk. "The enhancements we've made to the program are a natural extension that will now also benefit employers, and further benefit our customers and partners."

More information on the program is available by email at assistance@autodesk.com or online at www.autodesk.com/assistanceprogram.

(Thanks Animation Magazine)





French Prep 3-D Versions of Cinderella, Dark Comic Novel

French animators are going 3-D, announcing a pair of stereoscopic animated feature projects at the Annecy festival — including a new version of Cinderella.

According to Variety, Pascal Herold will co-produce and direct the new version of Cinderella, titled Cendrillon, while Patrice Leconte is planning to make a 3-D animated feature out of Jean Teulé’s novel Le magasin des suicides.

Alexandre and Jerome Apergis, Frederic Bolloch and Herold are writing Cendrillon, which will be set in the Wild West. Herold and Family and Belgium’s Nexus are producing the film at Delacave Studio in Paris.

Variety pegs the combined budget for the CGI and 3-D versions at $18.35 million, with 60% of it already financed and the film in production. A 2011 delivery date is planned.

On Le magasin des suicides, Leconte is co-directing with Arthur Qwak (Dragon Hunters) on the project, which has a budget of $21 million. The black comedy novel tells the tale of a family that sells suicide tools in a depressed world.

(Thanks Animation Magazine)





Storyboard artist Dave Simons, 54, dies of cancer

Marvel Comics artist Dave Simons, a storyboard director and artist on many animated TV series, died Tuesday after a long battle with esophygeal cancer. He was 54.

"In his career, Dave worked with some of the giants of animation and comic books," Daniel Best, founder of the creator-driven Adelaide Comics and Books Web site in Australia, wrote in his Danny Boy blog.

"Dave moved from comic books into animation and move through the ranks at a surprising speed into direction and production. Along the way, he was able to hire people he knew to be out of work and as such, was able to provide an income for them."

Though diagnosed with terminal cancer, "Dave being Dave, he never once let on to anyone as to exactly how ill he really was," Best added.

In animation, Simons may be best known for his work as a storyboard artist on the TV show Courage the Cowardly Dog, working for Stretch Films over three seasons. He also worked on the show's comic-book spinoff, which was published by DC.

He storyboarded three seasons of DIC's
The Real Ghostbusters as well.

Simons was born in 1954 and grew up in New York. By his own admission, he never had any formal art training.

After high school, he enlisted in the United States Coast Guard. During his last year of service, he began taking John Buscema's workshop class in comic art.

In the mid-1980s, he moved to Los Angeles from New York and began working in animation. He did storyboards for shows ranging from
Jem and the Holograms (one season as a storyboard director for Marvel Productions) to Exosquad (two seasons for Universal Cartoon Studios). Meanwhile, he continued working in comics, pencilling as well as inking.

"The list of shows I've worked on is certainly longer than the list of comic books that I've worked on at this point,"
he said in an interview in about 2004.

Simons returned to New York when work on animation wound down, Best said.

Simons began his comic book career with Marvel in 1979. He worked on
Spider-Man, Howard the Duck, Tomb of Dracula, Ghost Rider, Red Sonja, Conan the Barbarian and other titles, generally as an inker, but sometimes as a penciller. He also occasionally worked for DC, usually on that company's war books.

For an entire season, Simons was a producer of
G.I. Joe Extreme (Graz Entertainment). A storyboard director for Atlantic-Kushner-Locke's 65-episode series Spiral Zone, he was a storyboard supervisor for two seasons of Secret Files of the Spy Dogs and for Captain America, both produced by Saban. In addition, he was involved in DreamWorks' Dino-Men and Invasion USA.

He storyboarded two seasons of each of these series:
Maya and Miguel (Scholastic), Psi-Kix (Krislin), Biker Mice From Mars (Marvel Productions), X-Men (Graz Entertainment) and Captain Planet (DIC).

For each of these series, he was a storyboard artist or director for an entire season:
Mummies Alive, Where On Earth Is Carmen Sandiego?, Hurricanes, Bill and Ted's Excellent Adventures and New Kids On the Block (all DIC); NASCAR Racers, Xyber 9 and Silver Surfer (all Saban); Zula Patrol (Zula USA); Kappa Mikey (Animation Collective); Men In Black (Sony); Captain Simian and the Space Monkeys (Epoch, Ink); Earthworm Jim (Universal Cartoon Studios); Gargoyles (Disney TV); Conan: The Adventurer (Graz Entertainment); and Attack of the Killer Tomatoes (Marvel Productions).

As well, he did storyboards on these TV series:
Avengers and Spider-Man Unlimited (both Saban), Streetfighter and Conan and the Young Warriors (both Graz Entertainment), Double Dragon and Sherlock Holmes In the 22nd Century (both DIC), PB & J (Jumbo Pictures), Extreme Ghostbusters (Sony), Bill & Ted's Excellent Adventures (Hanna-Barbera) and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (Murakami-Wolfe).

In features, he storyboarded Kickstart Productions'
Dragonlance: Dragons of the Autumn Twilight and Saban's live-action Casper Meets Wendy. For direct-to-video productions, he was an assistant storyboard artist for G.I. Joe: The Movie (1987), a designer for The Bible: The Amazing Book (1988), and a storyboard artist for My Scene Goes Hollywood
(2005).

At the request of his family, Dave Simons' artwork has been withdrawn from sale.





Worst (Cartoon Character-adapted-to-Live Action) Movie - Ever!



Nothing like watching a guy in a Baby Huey suit singin’ the blues… This heart wrenching scene is from Baby Huey’s Great Easter Adventure (1999) directed by Stephen Furst (”Flounder” from Animal House) - and I believe that’s Furst under the suit and singing!

(clip via Everything Is Terrible)

(Thanks cartoonbrew)





“The Parachute Ending” by Will Sweeney and Steve Scott

BIRDY NAM NAM - THE PARACHUTE ENDING from Steve Scott on Vimeo.



Your favorite animated music video for the next five minutes: Birdy Nam Nam’s “The Parachute Ending” directed by Steve Scott and illustrated by Will Sweeney. There’s a healthy dose of René Laloux and Moebius mixed in there, but the overall results are fresh and fun. According to Scott, it was influenced by Laloux’s Planet Sauvage, bad 80s kids cartoons, Metal Hurlant, Nausicaa and Prog Rock album covers. It was created over four weeks in Flash and AfterEffects.

Crew credits are:

James Littlemore - Editor / Compositor
Geoff McDowall - Animator
Ed Willmore - Animator
Roland Edwards - Animator
Dele Nuga - Digital Painter

(Thanks, Christy Karacas and Chris McD)

(Thanks cartoonbrew)





"Tintin" to Get European Release 2 Months Before U.S.

Hollywood journalist Nikki Finke is reporting that Peter Jackson and Steven Spielberg's Tintin will be released in Europe 8 weeks before its release in the United States, according to comments made by producer Kathleen Kennedy at the "Produced By" Conference. The motion-capture CGI animated movie is an adaptation of the famous comic strip by Hergé, and is slated for release in the United States on December 23, 2011.





The Wisdom of Bob Gibeaut

When I was a but a lad, Robert Gibeaut was a Vice President at Walt Disney Productions, in charge of Operations. Before that, he had been the guy in charge of Editorial (Cutting, as the sign over the editorial building had it in those simpler, halcyon days.)

One day, a long-time Disney film editor was given his layoff notice. The editor became enraged at this, and stormed around the studio waving a glossy, Mouse House pamphlet that proclaimed employees at the studio were all part of the "Disney Family," all of them special, all of them part of the long Disney tradition of Family, etc.

The man yelled at his supervisor: "We're a family here! This pamphlet says so. I've been working at Disney's fifteen years!" (etc.)

The boss didn't want to deal with the tirade, and so bumped him up to the next level. The same story was yelled, and the same flyer was flapped about. The editor was again bumped along.

He finally got up to Company Chairman Card Walker, waved the pamphlet again and spit out his story. (Did I mention these were simpler times?) Card, also not wanting to deal with the guy, told him to go see Bob Gibeaut, the man in charge of operations. So the guy did. And two minutes into the waved pamphlet and angry sob story, Bob cut him off with:

"You don't believe all that 'family' crap, do you? We're running a business here."

Which pretty much ended the string of tirades.

I've told this tale before, but the core of the story always resonates with me, because old Bob was right. Companies aren't families, or charitable organizations, or there to look out for your interests. Oh, they'll tell you they are all those things, if they think it serves their interests at that particular moment, but they aren't, not really. Not ever.

Companies exist to maximize cash flow and profits for stockholders. They act in their self-interest, and if this means lying to you, cutting you off at the knees, laying you off a day before Christmas, they will do it.

Because "it's business."

I mention all this now because I've gotten a number of phone calls recently from members, some working and some not, who express disbelief that employers can be so callous and heartless, lay them off at the blink of an eye, write them up for a slight infraction, and so on and so forth.

They have, you see, heard the "We're the good guys here!" tape loop from administrators and supervisors until they start believing it, and that is always a dangerous thing.

So here (again) are a few simple rules to keep in mind when you enter employment with studios:

1) When negotiating for a job, go in with as much knowledge as possible (wage levels, work loads, political dynamics in studio, etc.) It will help you get a better deal.
2) Once hired, play well with others. Remember you're a newbie and at the bottom of the food chain.
3) Always have your antenna up, checking the studio atmosphere and political weather. It often changes daily.
4) Know what your rights are. And strive to know when it's best to exercise them.
5) Understand that one day you'll be moving on. Be at peace with that.
6) Tell yourself daily as you're brushing your teeth: "The company is not my Mommy."


And always but always remember the wisdom of Bob Gibeaut: "You don't believe all that 'family' crap, do you?"

(Thanks Animation Guild Blog)





Sony Pictures Animation Marches On

This is encouraging news.

Sony Pictures Animation has picked up the rights to "The Familiars," an upcoming children's fantasy book series written by Adam Jay Epstein and Andrew Jacobson.

Sam Raimi and Josh Donen are in negotiations to produce via their Stars Road Entertainment banner. Epstein and Jacobson also will write the script.

The writers pitched the idea to their reps at UTA and H2F Entertainment, who believed -- given the current marketplace that favors having an IP like a comic book or book behind a project -- that going the book route would be better than simply going out with a pitch.


People have wondered if SPA was going to continue as a production entity (this includes Sony Pictures Animation employees I have talked to.) They've got Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs ready for release; it's gratifying that another property is being picked up.

The more animation players in the marketplace, the better.

(Thanks Animation Guild Blog)





Trailer for Platige Image’s Steampunk Animated short THE KINEMATOGRAPH

A little known animation studio we been showing some love around these parts from time to time is Poland’s Platige Image. The studio’s past animated short films such as Ark and The Cathedral has never seize to amaze me and I’m hard press to see why haven’t they made the jump to feature film yet because they certainly have what it takes to deliver the goods. Their latest work is The Kinematograph, a 12-minute drama short by Oscar-nominated director Tomek Bagiński and the trailer has just been unveiled at the official site. Its based on one of Mateusz Skutnik’s steampunk Revolutions graphic novels. Here’s a rough translation of the synopsis via Quiet Earth:

He talks about Francisie, modest municipal official and a self-taught-inventor. It would appear that Francis has everything: a big house in a small town, a lot of free time and loving wife. Unfortunately, it was obsessed with inventions. The latest invention Francis was to be a revolution. He had a world to change, start a new era. Francis was perfecting each element, each detail of precision seen only by geniuses and lunatics. He called his invention the cinematograph. Francis, believed that when you have completed the work will be happy. Just forget that no happiness does not last forever.

The theatrical release date in Poland is on June 17th. It may also have its world premiere at the 66th Venice International Film Festival. You’ll find the trailer after the jump.



(Thanks Twitch)





France TV Dedicates Toon Block

France Televisions, in an effort to win back young viewers lured to cable, will dedicate its afternoon programming on France 4 to animation series aimed at tweens and teens, according to Variety.

"Our goal is to change our editorial line completely and deliver a more consistent offer to young viewers," Julien Borde, VP in charge on youth programming at France Televisions, announced at the Annecy International Animation Market.

France Televisions also announced the acquisition of several animated series that would air outside its new F4 block.

First is Gaston, based on the popular Belgian comic book by Andre Franquin. The 78 x 7 minute series will air on France 3 in the fall and is a co-production of Normaal Animation and Marsu Productions.

Another comic book adaptation,
The Daltons
, based on the series by Maurice De Bevere, is being co-produced by France 3 and Xilam Animation. It has been picked up by Canal Plus, which will air it in spring 2010, with France 3 showing it the following autumn.

(Thanks Animation Magazine)





Moonscoop Picks Up Multiple Europe Sales

Moonscoop reports sales of a number of its animated shows into several European markets in advance of the upcoming DISCOP show.

Among the sales:

• Orlando Kids has picked up broadcast, pay TV and home entertainment rights to MixMaster, Cosmic Quantum Ray, Bunny Maloney, Dive Olly Dive!, and Casper for the territories of Bosnia, Croatian, Macedonian, Montenegro and Slovenia.

• Tuck Channel has acquired the rights to
Fantastic Four for Bosnia, Croatian, Macedonian, Montenegro and Slovenia.

• In Russia, pay TV outlet Red Media has picked up
SamSam, while Canal J has acquired SamSam, Dive Olly Dive! and season two of ToddWorld.

• In Poland, Carisma has bought theatrical rights to
Dive Olly Dive!, while Canal Plus has renewed the rights to the first two seasons of Code Lyoko.

• In Estonia, ETV has acquired
SamSam.

• And in Slovenia, RTV has picked up
Ava Riko Teo
.

(Thanks Animation Magazine)





Cyber Group, Timoon Team on Two Toons

Cyber Group Studios and Timoon Animation have signed a deal to co-produce, distribute and license two new animated series: Fish’ N Chips, and Bambalaye!

The deal was announced at the Annecy International Animation Market, and calls for both companies to oversee the creative and editorial direction of projects, reports Cynopsis Kids!

Fish’ N Chips
is an action-comedy series about a cat and fish who live together in the Coney Island aquarium. Bamabalaye!
follows a group of funny, musical animals in Africa who sing famous standards. Plans for the series include content for the Internet, mobile devices and a feature film. Both series are aimed at the kids 6-11 audience.

Cyber Group will handle international distribution and licensing with input on strategies in both areas from Timoon.

(Thanks Animation Magazine)





Work For Free Update

You might remember this from a few weeks ago:

Deferred payment 1st episode (no-pay), action/adventure series, Cartoon Network, paid assignments and/or production contract after 1st episode.

It was a happy little notice found on Craig's List, referring to Cartoon Network shows. We have now gotten a response from CN:

We don't know how this got up there, but we didn't put it up or have it put up. We have contacted Craig's List and told them to take down the posting, as it violates our union contract with the Animation Guild.

So, anybody that finds themselves working under this strange, "deferred payment" arrangement, call us quick and we'll take care of the problem.

Apparently Cartoon Network wants to take care of the problem too.

(Thanks Animation Guild Blog)





10 new images from Blood the Last Vampire












New images have gone live for the upcoming Blood: The Last Vampire, a new live-action film based on the cult manga series, which you can view after the jump.

Directed by Chris Nahon, the horror-action-thriller stars Gianna Jun, Allison Miller, Masiela Lusha, JJ Feild and Koyuki.

In the film, demons have infested the earth and only one warrior stands between the dark and the light: Saya, a half-human, half-vampire samurai who preys on those who feast on human blood. Joining forces with the shadowy society known as the Council, Saya is dispatched to an American military base, where an intense series of sword fights leads her to the deadliest vampire of all. And now, after 400 years, Saya's final hunt is about to begin.

Blood: The Last Vampire is slated for release on July 10. Click on the images below for larger versions.










































































































We preview Terminator Salvation: The Machinima Series











Cos Lazouras, president of Halcyon Games, the producers of the Terminator Salvation: The Machinima Series, told SCI FI Wire that the finale of the six-part series will feature the best action yet. The Machinima Series uses the engine of the Terminator Salvation video game to animate a new story about Blair Williams (Moon Bloodgood) two years before the events of the film.

"The stakes are raised with each episode, and I think as you can see, the cliffhangers are getting more and more dramatic," Lazouras said in an exclusive phone interview on Wednesday. "Without giving anything away, you're going to see some much more dramatic action sequences, and in one part something that happened in her recent past that also affects the current story and a surprising take on who the Laz character is and how important he is."

In The Machinima Series, Williams meets Laz, a hacker who has found a way to hack the machines and hunter-killers of the future war. On the run from Skynet forces, Williams and Laz end each episode in a dangerous situation from which they must escape the following week.

James Middleton, associate producer of the Terminator Salvation film, joined Lazouras on the call. The following Q&A features edited excerpts of the interview. Terminator: The Machinima Series is available for purchase on iTunes. More information and previews of episodes are available at Machinima.com.

Do any of the action scenes come from ideas that didn't make it into the movie?

Lazouras:
Everything you see in Machinima, a big part of it is inspired by scenes that we either had or wanted to get into the game, which were in turn inspired by things that they were talking about on the film. With anything that's been created in multiple media simultaneously, one medium is bouncing off the other.

The quick answer is there are scenes that you'll see in the Machinima that we really wanted to get into the game but couldn't. There's a scene in episode five that you're going to see which was cut from the game at the last minute. It was, for me, a really important story point that spoke about the underlying idea of the Resistance in the future and what they were battling for on a daily basis. Not just 24 hours more of survival, but the importance of humanity and the difference between humans and machines and why it was so important to keep your humanity. We ended up having to drop it from the game, but I'm really, really happy that we got it into the Machinima series in a different incarnation.

But it must be nice to think of a Terminator subway chase and get to do it.

Lazouras:
Yeah, sure, but here's the thing with Machinima. If we didn't have a subway in the game, we could have that idea, and we wouldn't be able to do it. We'd have to build that asset, so that's the difference between this and CG. What we've done, and what Andy Shapiro, the writer on the project, has done really well, is explored the game in detail before embarking on the series and writing to the strengths of what we had.

It's kind of a slightly ass-backwards process. "OK, here's what we have. What's the story we want to tell, and how do we mold this around the base of assets and animations that we have?"



Middleton: We went through a script development process that is very much like we would on a television show or a movie. We'll have these conversations, and then we'll storyboard. Then our director, Tor [Helmstein], will have to go and location-scout within the various maps of the game to find little nooks and crannies within this very rich map to actually record the footage. It's funny to hear people say, "We're going to go location-scouting," and that means to pore over this monitor and look for every little space in the map where a scene could take place.

Is there any hope for the story of Laz to continue? I'm getting worried about him.

Middleton:
There's always hope. There's always hope, but there's a lot of firepower exchanged in these last few episodes. One of the things that is happening in terms of our little Machinima production company is that as we go on, we're getting better and better. We looked at Cos' game and what he put together with the game and felt that it was a place where we could tell a new story about Blair, but it hasn't really been done on this scale before. We're getting better and better at putting together action sequences and really getting the most out of the game engine and the maps from the game.

Imagine a room that has multiple monitors and you have maybe six different people with game controllers in their hands, including the director. They're actually executing the script real-time within the video game map. That footage is recorded and almost like live action, in a way, and then handed off to the editor, who cuts it as if it were live-action footage. It's been a fascinating process, and some of the action sequences that we've gotten are just hellacious. They are fantastic.

Are there DVD plans for the Machinima?

Middleton: We'll see. It's likely that it will be on DVD.

Lazouras: It's down to the popularity, and we're really hoping that as wide an audience sees it, because we're very proud of what's been achieved. So, yeah, that state is definitely something we would like it to be on.

Will there be more Blair Williams adventures?

Middleton:
It really is a new arena that we're exploring, so we're very curious to see what it all is going to shake out to be, but there's been tremendous interest in what we're doing. The thing that I'm most excited about is not only to do something in Machinima but to tell another story about Blair, who I think is a fantastic new character in the Terminator world. Moon Bloodgood as an actress just absolutely embraced this character and has been totally enthusiastic about it and really fun to work with. She has just got a great energy and a great take on this character.





Guillermo Del Toro Explains How Close He Came To Directing ‘Thor’

When “Hellboy” and “The Hobbit” director Guillermo Del Toro dropped by Splash Page HQ recently to talk about his new novel, “The Strain,” we also managed to pick his brain about a few other topics near and dear to our comics-lovin’ hearts.

Earlier this week, we gave you what he had to say about the future of the “Hellboy” film franchise (and whether that universe will eventually merge with the Hellboy’s comics continuity), but one thing that definitely surprised us during the conversation was Del Toro’s confession that at one point, he came very close to bringing Marvel’s Thunder God, Thor, to the screen.



They approached me for ‘Thor,’ Del Toro told MTV News when asked whether Marvel had tried to tag him for any of their upcoming movies. “And for a long time we talked about that, because the mythology and the images were very attractive to me.”

“This was before ‘Hellboy II,’ he said.

While director Kenneth Branagh eventually landed behind the camera for “Thor,” Del Toro had quite a bit to say about why he was so attracted to the character.

“I’m a fan of [Jack] Kirby and the power he has, and I’m a fan of the original mythology,” explained Del Toro. “So I thought we could go back to the original mythology a lot. I love Loki, I think he’s a great figure.”





‘Spider-Man 2’ Star Alfred Molina Says He’d Love To Return As Doctor Octopus In Future Films

No stranger to the comic book world with his role as Spidey’s nemesis Doctor Octopus in “Spider-Man 2” (and voice roles in both the “Wonder Woman” animated movie and “Justice League” cartoon), actor Alfred Molina said he’d love to reprise his role as the wall-crawler’s tentacled enemy in future films — if he can just get past the whole “dead character” thing.

“No one’s mentioned it, and I think it’s highly unlikely, seeing as he died,” Molina told MTV News during a press event for his upcoming film “The Sorcerer’s Apprentice” when asked if there was any talk of him returning to terrorize Peter Parker. “[But] at the ‘Spider-Man 2′ premiere in London, I turned around to one of the producers and said, ‘It’s a real shame that I died, because I would’ve loved to do another one of these.’ And he said, ‘Oh, characters don’t die in this universe, they just disappear.’”

And as any comics fan will tell you, that statement has proven true time and time again in the pages of nearly every long-running series. So, while it’s certainly a remote possibility, the fact that “Spider-Man 2″ is widely regarded as one of the best films in the franchise could mean a return appearance for Doc Ock isn’t entirely out of the question.

So, in the absence of his return to the franchise, however, who else would Molina like to see take on our friendly neighborhood Spider-Man?

“There were so many wonderful villains in Spider-Man stories,” said Molina. “Venom was a great character, and I’m not biased, but I thought Doc Ock was a brilliant character in the comics, too.”

“The only thing I’d like to see is to concentrate on one villain,”
he added. “Having two or three of them sort of dilutes the potency of it.”

Pondering the possibilities, Molina quickly back-tracked on his original suggestions, saying, “it would be nice to see a female villain.”

“Yeah, that might be nice,” he said.





EXCLUSIVE: Ryan Reynolds Confirms ‘Deadpool’ Details — Scars, Costume And All!

It’s the dream of every comic-book fan, whether they’ll admit it or not. The chance to become your favorite character, impact his story, and help determine his future.

Now, after years of lobbying for the role and finally being rewarded with a huge opening for his debut in the recent “X-Men Origins: Wolverine,” Ryan Reynolds has complete control over the character of Wade Wilson. Recently, he clued us in on some of the characters he expects to see in the “Deadpool” spinoff movie — but, as he told us, the best part of the gig is the hands-on approach that he’s been given in developing it.

“I love it, because I get to be involved,” Reynolds said of his role in the fast-tracked development of a Deadpool spin-off film. “And I’m such a huge fan of the character.”

Currently, Reynolds and the studio are seeking a director and writer(s) for the film, and listening to plenty of ideas about where Wade’s story should go. Fortunately for the die-hard fans, Reynolds has no intention of letting the film stray too far from its comic origins.

“I get to be the authentication police, in a weird way,” grinned Reynolds, who will show his versatility this month in the refreshingly-decent romantic comedy “The Proposal” June 19th. “To their credit — the studio’s credit — they want to make an authentic ‘Deadpool’ movie; they want to make it as close to the source material as possible.”

With that in mind, the actor told us that he and the studio have already agreed to some key terms. “He’s going to be the Merc with the Mouth, [we’re going to give] all those answers that everyone wants,” Reynolds explained. “He’s going to have the scarred-up face, he’s going to be in the suit — and, it’s going to be incredible.”

So, as the actor and his studio begin assembling their team, Reynolds is bringing his “authentication police” skills to finding similar-minded people who can tell the fractured tale of the deadly mutant. “Right now, it’s just a question of trying to figure out what is the spine of the story,” Ryan said of their current discussions. “Who is the villain? What does Wade and/or Deadpool want?”

“And how do you tell that story? Are we going to see flashbacks to his old life, flash-forwards, present-day?”
an obviously enthusiastic Reynolds added. “We’re just trying to figure that stuff out.”

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