Tuesday, June 23, 2009

News - 06/23/09...

JibJab Jabs at Obama in New Short

Animation site JibJab continued its tradition of political satire, unveiling a new animated short titled He’s Barack Obama at the 65th annual Radio and Television Correspondents’ dinner featuring the president as a superhero.

The 2-minute video, which Obama himself was in attendance to watch, features a hard rock satire song done to the tune of “When Johnny Comes Marching Home.” The music was played by an all-star group of musicians including Beck, Jane’s Addiction, members of Foo Fighters and Jess Harnell.

The animation in the short featured a combination of frame-by-frame character animation and some live action footage.

“With a new president came the opportunity to push into new creative territory,” said JibJab co-founder and Head Art Guy, Evan Spiridellis. “Our goal was to push the quality of made-for-the-web entertainment farther than anyone has ever pushed it before and we hope our audience enjoys it.”

The video can be seen for free at http://JibJab.com.

(Thanks Animation Magazine)

Untitled Ghost Movie Makes Progress at DWA

DreamWorks Animation is moving ahead with the untitled ghost movie idea mentioned recently in its feature film lineup.

The story, untitled but referred to at the studio as Boo U., is about a ghost whose poor haunting skills force him to go back to ghost school, writes The Hollywood Reporter.

Jon Vitti, who worked on The Simpsons Movie, has been hired to write the film, which is being considered for a late 2012 release.

Tony Leondis, who directed the Exodus Film Group animated feature Igor, will direct the film.

(Thanks Animation Magazine)

Monster Sells Four Series to M-Net

Monster Distributes has sold four HD series to M-Net South Africa. The Ireland-based company’s deal will see the network air:

Lifeboat Luke, a 52 x 5 min. search-and-rescue adventure series produced by LTL Productions for kids ages 4-7.
Ben & Izzy, a 13 x 30 min. CGI series from Rubicon about an American kid, his friend from Jordan and a genie that is voiced by actress Lucy Liu.
Jungle Beat, a 13 x 5 min. non-dialogue series from South Africa’s Sunrise.
• And Gazoon, a 30 x 3.5 min series from Sparkling and TFI France.

Monster also reports sales of Jungle Beat to Sinovision in China, while C4U Media Korea has picked up Jungle Beat, Gazoon and another animated series, Why?

(Thanks Animation Magazine)

Disney’s G-Force Brings 3-D to Gaming

First the movies went 3-D — now get ready to start wearing glasses to play the latest videogames.

Disney Interactive Studios’ G-Force game, based on the upcoming movie, hits in July and will support 3-D stereoscopic play in the Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 platforms, reports the U.K. gaming site MCV.

G-Force will be followed by Toy Story Mania, also from Disney, in the fall and Ubisoft’s Avatar game, based on the upcoming James Cameron movie, with 3-D support.

Both Disney games will come with 3-D glasses included — and also will allow viewers to turn off the feature if they choose.

“I’m very interested to see what the consumer reaction will be. So far the reaction from everyone who has played it has been very, very positive,” said Graham Hopper, executive VP and GM of Disney Interactive Studios.

(Thanks Animation Magazine)

The story behind Underdog

If Jay Ward, Hanna Barbera and Rankin-Bass rate biographical tomes, certainly the output of Total Television deserves a historical overview. Sight unseen (except for its fabulous Mike Kazaleh cover - click thumbnail below to enlarge image) I am recommending this forthcoming book by Mark Arnold: Created and Produced by Total TeleVision Productions.

Frequently compared to and confused with Jay Ward Productions, this is the company that created such characters as Underdog, Tennessee Tuxedo, Tooter Turtle, Commander McBragg, Go Go Gophers, King and Odie, The Hunter, and The Beagles. The history of Gamma Productions, the little Mexican animation studio that animated most of the Jay Ward Productions, is covered — and the book contains a complete episode listing of every known Total TeleVision production. Illustrated with storyboards and character merchandise, Arnold wrote the book using personal interviews with the four owners of TTV (Buck Biggers, Chet Stover, Tread Covington and Joe Harris) as well as voice artists Allen Swift (Simon Bar Sinister), Bradley Bolke (Chumley the Walrus), animators Frank Andrina of TV Spots and Roman Arambula of Gamma Productions. And the book promises to finally answer a question we’ve been asking ourselves for years: What the heck is The Colossal Show? Copies are now available from BearManor Media.

(Thanks cartoonbrew)

WALL·E End Credits

The Art of the Title Sequence interviews director Jim Capobianco and animator Alex Woo about the thoughtful end credit sequence of WALL·E. From the article intro:

Jim Capobianco’s end credits to Andrew Stanton’s “WALL·E” are essential; they are the actual ending of the film, a perfect and fantastically optimistic conclusion to a grand, if imperfect idea. Humanity’s past and future evolution viewed through unspooling schools of art. Frame after frame sinks in as you smile self-consciously. It isn’t supposed to be this good but there it is. This is art in its own right. Peter Gabriel and Thomas Newman’s song, “Down to Earth” indulges you with some incredibly thoughtful lyrics and, from the Stone Age to the Impressionists to the wonderful 8-bit pixel sprites, you are in the midst of something special..."

(Thanks cartoonbrew)

Tucky Tales

Tucky Tales from Eduard Mitgartz on Vimeo.

Tucky Tales is a simple but inventive example of digital “cut-out” animation. The pre-school series for Baby TV was created by Israeli husband-and-wife animation team Eduard and Nurit Mitgartz. They’ve produced twenty 5-minute episodes at their studio Kipod Animation.

(Thanks cartoonbrew)

Monday Mouse Watch : “Rapunzel” revealed; a “G-Force” sequel?

Jim Hill wonders why more people aren’t talking about Carmen Esquer’s article for Disney twenty-three magazine. Which features an in-depth interview with Nathan Greno & Byron Howard, “Rapunzel” ‘s new directors. PLUS Does Jerry Bruckheimer has another franchise in the works?

How many of you remember what happened back in March? When the premiere issue of Disney twenty-three hit newsstands and then all the Internet movie news sites went crazy because that magazine featured an article on Tim Burton's "Alice in Wonderland"? Scans of the pictures that accompanied that piece suddenly seemed to be everywhere on the Net.

Well, the second issue of Disney twenty-three has been out for several weeks now. With thousands of copies of this magazine being purchased at Barnes & Nobles around the country. Not to mention all of the issues that got out mailed to people who actually signed up for D23, the Official Community for Disney Fans.

Which is why I have to wonder: Given all the copies of the Summer 2009 Disney twenty-three that are currently out there, why is it that no one's been talking about the "Rapunzel" promo piece that's included in this issue?

There’s lots of juicy info to be found in Carmen Esquer’s four page article. Much of which comes straight from “Rapunzel” ‘s two directors, Nathan Greno and Bryan Howard.

For those of you who don’t know, Greno & Howard have become Walt Disney Animation Studios’ go-to guys. The directing team that John Lasseter now turns to whenever he’s got a WDAS project that’s gone off track. And since Nathan & Byron were the ones who fixed “American Dog,” taking the bare bones of Chris Sanders’ quirky Hollywood road picture and then building “Bolt,” John was hoping that these two could run a similar sort of rescue mission on “Rapunzel.”

Byron Howard (left) and Nathan Greno, co-directors of "Bolt" and "Rapunzel."
Copyright Disney. All Rights Reserved

Now what made this kind of difficult was that Greno & Howard were both huge fans of Glen Keane, “Rapunzel” ‘s original director. In Carmen’s article, Byron recalled how – when he used to work at Walt Disney Feature Animation’s satellite studio in Florida …

“Every now and then, not very often, (one of Glen Keane’s scenes for ‘Pocahontas’) would come down to Florida,” (Howard) says. “We wouldn’t get the best scenes; we’d get more like the connective tissue. But when a Glen scene would show up at our doorstep, we would covet it. Glen is such a celebrity in the animation world that we’d just marvel at how he’d draw stuff and kind of fight to be the one cleaning up those drawings.”

So – given how these two clearly revere Keane – it must have been awkward for Nathan & Byron to then have to step in for Glen in an effort to get “Rapunzel” ready for its already locked-in holiday 2010 release date. But what made this situation somewhat easier to deal with is – while Keane is no longer directing “Rapunzel” – he remains one of the film’s executive producers.

So Nathan & Byron’s version of the classic fairytale going to be different than the one that Glen was trying to get out of the ground? According to Howard …

“This Rapunzel … is out of the tower and heading for adventure by the end of Act One. “(This) story is more about what happens when she leaves the tower” Byron says. “The moral of the story, really, is that you can’t live your life in a tower. It’s about experiencing the world and living your life. Even though our heroine is physically out of the tower, mentally it’s difficult for her to completely leave it behind. She’s like an indoor cat that gets out of the house; it’s really hard getting the cat back in. It’s great to have a character who is so innocent and so smart. And it’s even better to see her wake up.”

Okay. Admittedly, that is a very different way to approach a Disney Princess picture. And given that “Rapunzel” is actually a CG film … Well, Greno & Howard are looking for ways to connect this new WDAS project to all the other Disney fairy tales that came before it. Which – in this case – will be “Rapunzel” ‘s production design.

As Nathan explained he & Byron’s plan for this animated feature to Carmen:

“The design of (this) film will try to put … a fresh twist on a 1950s retro vibe. “Byron and I are such huge fans of Disneyland, and of Fantasyland in particular,” Nathan says. “The architecture of Fantasyland is nostalgic 1950s Fantasyland. There’s real appeal and style that are used in films like Cinderella, so we’re doing research on that style …”

Copyright 2009 Disney. All Rights Reserved

And to provide further connective tissue to the Disney fairy tales that preceded this picture, Greno & Howard have turned to the Academy Award-winning composer of “The Little Mermaid,” “Beauty & the Beast” and “Aladdin,” Alan Menken.

According to Greno, this Disney Legend did a superb job on “Rapunzel.” Working with lyricist Glenn Slater, Menken …

“ … delivered this lullaby that Rapunzel and Mother Gothel sing to each other that activates the magic in Rapunzel’s hair. The song’s lyrics say ‘You are my forever,’ which – depending on who sings it and when – takes on entirely different meanings. Sometimes it’s a love song between our prince, Flynn, and Rapunzel; other times it’s a terrifying, possessive theme used by Gothel. But it’s great, because it’s a very heartrending, beautiful song, and (Menken) really nailed it.”

Speaking of Flynn, at the time that Esquer sat down to talk with Greno & Howard, “Rapunzel” ‘s new directors were still trying to get a handle on how Disney’s newest prince should look.

“We had a couple of versions of (Flynn), and John Lasseter came in and went, ‘Well, this guy is okay, but I don’t know. Is he drop-dead gorgeous? I think women will want him to be drop-dead gorgeous.’ So he said, ‘What you guys have to do is get all the women in the studio to send you the names of their favorite hot men. Put photos of all these hunky guys in the room, take the best features of each of them, and make one amazing, dynamic character.’ So that’s the process that’s going on right now. This place has turned in junior high. It’s like working in the office of ‘Tiger Beat.’

Which may sound like a somewhat odd idea. But Ron Clements & John Musker did this exact same sort of thing when they were working on “Aladdin.” They consulted with the women working at Walt Disney Studios back then to see what their title character should look. Which is why Aladdin wound up looking more like Tom Cruise than he did Michael J. Fox (i.e. the “Family Ties” star that Ron & John had originally used as Aladdin’s inspiration).

Getting back to “Rapunzel” now … Though Nathan & Byron have only been on the job for eight months now, Disney executives clearly seem enthusiastic about the work that these two have already done on “Rapunzel.” Earlier this month, studio execs screened the entire first act for buyers who were attending this year’s Licensing International Expo in Las Vegas. And those who attended this secretive screening had high praise for this still-in-production animated feature.

Copyright Disney. All Rights Reserved

If you’d like to learn even more about “Rapunzel,” then I suggest you pick up a copy of the Summer 2009 issue of Disney Twenty-three. This particular issue has a number of great stories, including Michael Singer’s profile of Jerry Bruckheimer.

Speaking of which … Walt Disney Pictures is hyping “G-Force” (i.e. Bruckheimer’s latest production for the studio) as being “ … fast, furry and furious.” But there’s one F that the Mouse’s marketing department isn’t mentioning. Not yet, anything. And that “F” stands for “franchise.”

Yep, Disney’s deliberately leaving its Guinea-pigs-as-secret-agents picture open-ended. More importantly, this movie’s villain (SPOILER AHEAD) manages to survive “G-Force” ‘s explosion-laden finale. Which means that he lives to bedevil Darwin, Blaster and Juarez in a follow-up film. Which –if all goes according to plan – could be popping up at a theater near you as earlier as the Summer of 2011.

Anime Network Launches Online

The Anime Network has launched its online player service at www.theanimenetwork.com. The service currently offers more 40 hours of free content via streaming video, as well as a premium package for $6.95 a month that gives access to more than 300 hours of content. Programming is available in both standard-definition and high-definition, offering anime series like Clannad and Azumanga Daioh and movies like Appleseed (2004).

Cartoon Network Revises Schedule, Delays "Batman: The Brave And The Bold" Episodes

The World's Finest has learned that Cartoon Network has delayed new episodes of Batman: The Brave and The Bold until later this year.

A representative for Cartoon Network has informed The World's Finest that new episodes of Batman: The Brave and The Bold originally slated to premiere this month and next have been postponed to an undisclosed date later this year.

The new Batman: The Brave and The Bold episode "When OMACS Attacks!," originally scheduled to premiere this Friday, June 26th, 2009, on Cartoon Network, but has been replaced with a special movie presentation.

Other as-of-yet unaired episodes "Inside the Outsiders!," "Mayhem of the Music Meister!," and "The Fate of the Equinox!" will air at an undisclosed date later this year.

Cartoon Network has provided a revised schedule of Batman: The Brave and The Bold episodes slated to air over the next two weeks. A schedule of episodes can be found below.

Thursday, June 25th, 2009
1:00pm (ET) "Hail the Tornado Tyrant!"
1:30pm (ET) "Duel of the Double-Crossers!"

Saturday, June 27th, 2009
10:30am (ET) "Mystery in Space!"

Monday, June 29th, 2009
10:00am (ET) "Game Over for Owlman!"
10:30am (ET) "Menace of the Conquerer Caveman!"

Thursday, July 2nd, 2009
1:00pm (ET) "Legend of the Dark Mite!"
1:30pm (ET) "Trials of the Demon!"

Saturday, July 4th, 2009
10:30am (ET) "The Color of Revenge!"

Please note that any schedule information is subject to change without notice, so stayed tuned for any further updates.

Dynamic Music Partners Announces Completion Of "Batman: The Brave And The Bold" Musical

Dynamic Music Partners has released the following press release concerning an upcoming episode of Batman: The Brave and The Bold.

The following press release has been issued by Dynamic Music Partners, as seen below.

Dynamic Music Partners is excited to announce completion of their latest project, a full-blown animated musical episode of Batman: The Brave And The Bold entitled "Mayhem Of The Music Meister!" The production included several independent sessions with over 30 of L.A.'s finest studio musicians and culminated in a day of scoring at Warner Bros. Eastwood Scoring Stage.

The musical features the vocal talents of Neil Patrick Harris, Grey DeLisle and James Arnold Taylor along with Dee Bradley Baker, John DiMaggio, Kevin Michael Richardson, Tom Kenny, Jeff Bennett and Diedrich Bader, and will premiere at 10am on
July 24th, 2009 during the "Batman: The Brave And The Bold" panel at Comic-Con International in San Diego.

An airdate for the episode is tenatively planned for the Fall; stay tuned for an official announcement once the airdate has been set.

Dynamic Music Partners consist of Kristopher Carter, Michael McCuistion and Lolita Ritmanis.

The Batman: The Brave and The Bold musical episode "Mayhem Of The Music Meister!" will premiere at the Comic-Con International in San Diego on Friday July 24th, 2009 at 10am in Room 6DE.

Through Nicktoons

This afternoon I was walking around Nickelodeon Cartoon Studios, where a management person told me that the studio is up to five hundred employees. Not all of those people are TAG members, of course, but we have our share ...

The studio is easily the biggest teevee toon producer in Los Angeles, and it continues growing. A staffer inside Nick's Olive Boulevard building said:

"We don't have a lot more room around here. The Kung Fu Panda series has got offices up in the former Axium building at Magnolia and Glenoaks next to Cartoon Network. There's not a lot of people there yet, just the producer and a few writers, but the artists will be there in the next couple of months ..."

Nickelodeon, besides being the biggest television producer of animation in the city of angels, is the only studio with which TAG has a new three-year contract. The deal was negotiated and ratified last October, and stipulates 3% bump-ups for job minimums in each of the next three years.

The other television cartoon producers? The boys and girls haven't told us across the table what kind or pay raises they think TAG members should get (if any)), but they've dropped hints they don't think it should be 3/3/3.

We find this kind of amazing, given that's been the pattern for other Hollywood contracts, but maybe they know something Nickelodeon doesn't.

Then again, maybe not.

(Thanks Animation Guild Blog)

Thomas Rolls On ...

...straight to CGI land.

Thomas the Tank Engine is getting a computer-generated face-lift, according to HIT Entertainment, which owns the preschool property ... To make certain that “Thomas & Friends” speaks to “a new generation of kids and generations that follow,” the company said, it has decided to use computers to animate the engine’s face and, for the first time, Thomas will speak in his own voice ...

George Carlin must be rolling over in his grave.

(Thanks Animation Guild Blog)

The Big Plans for Ice Age 3

Fox knows on which side its bread is buttered. And since Ice Age Deux cleaned up internationally three years ago, News Corp. this time is leaving nothing to chance .

Fox will release its 3-D animated feature "Ice Age: Dawn of the Dinosaurs" in most countries around the world within a day or so of its July 1 domestic bow. Getting 3-D screens in place has been a challenge.

"The deployment of 3-D screens is far less internationally than it is domestically," Fox international distribution co-president Paul Hanneman noted.

Fox expects to have 1,500-2,000 3-D screens in place for
"Dawn," spread among 11,000 international screens set to play the movie ...

Fox knows a zingy franchise when it sees one. Seventy percent of Ice Age 2's $652 million worldwide take came from overseas, so the current edition is going to get a monster roll out in all parts of the globe.

Art is well and good, but there's all those euros, rubles, yuans, pesos and yen to think about.

(Thanks Animation Guild Blog)

'Blood: The Last Vampire' Creature Fight Film Clip

Here's a hot new clip from July's live-action adaptation of the hit manga 'Blood: The Last Vampire'. In this preview Saya, the samurai vampire-slayer faces down a gruesome critter while trapped in a mountain crevice.

From Samuel Goldwyn Films, 'Blood: The Last Vampire' brings to life an English language live-action feature movie of the original Japanese anime feature film from a producer of 'Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon' and 'Hero'.

Gianna (My Sassy Girl, Daisy) stars in the film as Saya, a 400-year-old demon-hunting vampire slayer working undercover in Japan for a secret organization, on a mission in the Vietnam War era. The cast also includes Koyuki (The Last Samurai, Always: Sunset on Third Street), Michael Byrne (Beyond the Sea, Gangs of New York), Colin Salmon (Resident Evil, Punisher: War Zone, Clubbed), and Allison Miller (“Kings”). The film features stunt choreographed by Cory Yuen (Transporter 3, Red Cliff), is produced by Bill Kong and Abel Nahmias, with screenplay by Chris Chow.

'Blood: The Last Vampire' opens in theaters July 10th. For more info about the film visit the official website, the Facebook page or the Myspace page.

THE LAST AIRBENDER trailer is manhandled by ET, but I've seen it unETized!

Hey folks, Harry here earlier today I got a look at THE LAST AIRBENDER trailer - which will debut online tomorrow. ENTERTAINMENT TONIGHT had the ability to show it tonight, but as you can see - they took a trailer of TWO LONG SHOTS and diced it up to where you really have no flow to it at all. The trailer begins with our hooded airbender doing a complicated BO routine surrounded by candles - blowing out sections, then with a thrust down they all go out and he removes his hood. Then we're in a shot where he pushes a wind out of the temple and we slowly follow, out of the temple looking down at the cliff face, then the ocean - where we see an armada of strange ships and catapulted fireballs. It is pretty nifty. Obviously just a teaser trailer but it shows M Night's predilection for long shots. But it shows a scale and action like we've never seen from him. I'm really hoping for something amazing. M Night needs it, and it'd be nice to have a great AirBender movie, right?

(Thanks Aint It Cool)

AICN EXCLUSIVE!! Bryan Fuller Has Again Left HEROES!!

Bryan Fuller has again exited “Heroes.”

"Development was really starting to heat up, And it appears like I may be writing multiple pilots for NBC so that wasn't leaving a ton of room for 'Heroes,' unfortunately," the star writer-producer tells AICN exclusively. "We crafted some really great arcs for the season that I'm excited to see come to fruition. I love that cast dearly and am sad to go, but the plate -- she was over-flowing."

Fuller, of course, is the "Dead Like Me"/"Wonderfalls"/"Pushing Daisies" creator who wrote the best "Heroes" episodes, including "Company Man" and "Cold Snap." He left "Heroes" near the end of its first season to create "Daisies," then returned to "Heroes" near the end of last season.

Fuller is under contract with "Heroes" producer NBC Universal for another year and a half, and has been preparing new series pitches for the media giant since he left Warner Bros.' "Daisies." He's also expressed an ambition to eventually create, or help create, a new Paramount TV series set in J.J. Abrams' new "Star Trek" universe.

(Thanks Aint It Cool)

Take a look at the weird new images from Tim Burton's Alice in Wonderland

If you thought Lewis Carroll's Alice's Adventures in Wonderland was trippy, wait until you see how Tim Burton has re-interpreted the fantasy classic in the new images that appear in USA Today, after the jump.

The newspaper is publishing concept art and new publicity images for Burton's Alice in Wonderland, which debuts on March 5, 2010. Here's how the newspaper reports it:

"It has been Burton-ized" is how producer Richard Zanuck describes the director's vision of the Lewis Carroll classic. Many elements are familiar, from the enigmatic Caterpillar (Alan Rickman) to the fierce Jabberwock (Christopher Lee). But none has been presented in this sort of visually surreal fashion. "We finished shooting in December after only 40 days," Zanuck says. Now the live action is being merged with CG animation and motion-capture creatures, and then transferred into 3-D.

Click through to view more. (Click the images below for larger versions.)

Johnny Depp as the Mad Hatter

Helena Bonham Carter as the Red Queen

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Great information.... I enjoyed about "Bolt" and "Rapunzel"... But, it's BYRON HOWARD, not Byran.