Tuesday, October 6, 2009

News - 10/06/09...

MIPJunior Wrap: A Weekend Postcard from Cannes

It could have been the perfect sunny weather or various reports that the global economic woes would be slowly lifting by the time the new year rolls around. Whatever the reason, the kids programming and animation professionals attending MIP Junior at Cannes’ glam Carlton hotel this weekend (Oct. 3-4) seemed to be enjoying a renewed sense of optimism and energy. As one indie animation producer put it, “It couldn’t possibly be worse than what we saw at the MIP-TV market this spring.”

According to event organizer, Reed Midem, over 1143 shows were available for 500-plus buyers to screen at the digital library. Although the show got to a slow start on Saturday, you could hardly move through the jam-packed lobby of the Carlton on Sunday.

Mahmoud Bouneb, exec general manager of pan-Arab Al Jazeera Children’s Channel delivered the event’s keynote on Sunday, in which he discussed the challenges of the Arabic production center to compete in the international marketplace.

He noted that the channel has projects in development in various locations such as New Mexico and that it has a budget of $100 million for its two channels (30% of which goes to preschool channel Baraem TV). He added that the network is seen as a strong, independent performer, but it’s publicly funded and not actually profitable at this moment.

Meanwhile, a few blocks down the Croisette at the Martinez Hotel, DQ Entertainment and ZDF-Germany hosted a special screening of a complete episode of their new CG-animated series The Jungle Book. Co-produced with TF1-France, NBC Universal, ABC Australia and Moonscoop in France, 20 episodes of the impressive-looking show will be ready by the fall of 2010. After the screening, DQE’s president Tapaas Chakravarti acknowledged the hard work of the multi-national production and also presented a special Achievement Award to Harry Potter author J.K. Rowling, which was accepted by Josh Berger, president of Warner Bros. Entertainment, U.K. Chakravarti also mentioned that plans are underway to produce the second season of the show in stereoscopic 3-D for home viewing. On Wednesday, DQ plans to make another big announcement about a hot new project the studio is launching. (Tapaas has a great flair for dramatic presentations, so we’ll be all ears!)

In other Junior news, on Saturday afternoon, the jury for the 2009 Licensing Challenge picked Formula Fun Intl.’s Franco and the Formula Fun as this year’s winner. The 52 x 12 CG-animated series is set against the world of motor racing and follows the adventures of a six-year-old boy named Franco and superhero cars that trek the world and fight the evil schemes of supervillain Rossi the Chameleon.

The other selected nominees were Fuss Farm (Electric Circus, Wooki Kim), Geronimo Stilton (Moonscoop/Atlantyca), Manon (Cyber Group Studios), The Happets (Anera Films S.L.) and The Hive (The Hive Enterprises Ltd.)

The big newsmakers are waiting for this week to grab the headlines at MIPCOM (Monday thru Thursday). Among the hottest tickets is a special 20th Anniversary tribute to The Simpsons on Tuesday where series creator Matt Groening and exec producer Al Jean will share creative insights about their phenomenal toon and will chat with Morgan Spurlock (Supersize Me). On Wednesday, Groening will receive the key to the city of Cannes from the mayor. Jerry Seinfeld, Lisa Kudrow and Joan Rivers are among other familiar faces from the American TV landscape who are slated to make appearances at the Palais this week. Stay tuned for more daily reports and the announcement of the most-screened animated shows at Junior.

(Thanks Animation Magazine)

Zombieland Eats up Meatballs, Toys

The walking dead of Zombieland may have taken the weekend box office gold medal, but 3-D animated features took the silver and bronze.

Zombieland lead the weekend by a comfortable margin, earning an estimated $25 million in its first thee days of release.

That put it comfortably ahead of Sony’s Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs, which continues to do well in its third weekend of release with a $16.7 million take. That puts the total domestic gross for the 3-D CG-animated movie at about $82 million.

The re-release of Disney-Pixar’s Toy Story and Toy Story 2 as a 3-D double feature came in third place, selling $12.5 million worth of tickets. Together, the Toy Story re-release and Cloudy outgrossed Zombieland.

The weekend’s other new releases were the Ricky Gervais comedy The Invention of Lying, which took in about $7.4 million for fourth place, and the Drew Barrymore-directed roller derby comedy Whip It, which came in sixth place with $4.9 million.

VFX-heavy comic-book adaptation The Surrogates came in fifth place in its second weekend out, taking in $7.4 million for a total of $26.4 million.

Also still in release is the Focus Features animated movie 9, which took in $1.4 million in fourth weekend out. That brings its domestic total to $29.4 million.

(Thanks Animation Magazine)

Spore Grows into Blue Sky Feature Film

Video-game giant Electronic Arts is teaming up with Fox, Blue Sky Studios and director Chris Wedge for a computer-animated feature adaptation of Will Wright’s Spore.

Wedge, who directed previous Blue Sky releases Ice Age and Robots, is set to direct the film, according to Variety.

Wedge recently set up another animated feature film at Blue Sky, Leaf Men, and also is set to direct a live-action film for Warner Bros. called The Invention of Hugo Cabret.

Writers Greg Erb and Jason Gremland have been hired to write the script based on the game, in which players create creatures and worlds and then share them with other gamers to create an entire universe.

Game creator Wright previously came up with the Sim City and The Sims video game franchises.

(Thanks Animation Magazine)

Wallace & Gromit’s Invention Sells Down Under

ABC Australia is the most recent broadcaster to sign on for Aardman Animation’s new series Wallace & Gromit present A World of Invention.

The broadcaster has pre-bought all six 29-minute episodes of the series, which is a live action at various contraptions and inventions, with the animated duo playing host.

The series is set to begin broadcasting in late 2010, with Aardman looking to secure more international deals at this week’s MIPCOM conference in Cannes, France.

“With several award-winning films and television series to their name, it is exciting to be taking Wallace and Gromit into a new genre and we are delighted that ABC has made a further commitment to our programming,” says Alix Wiseman, Aardman’s head of sales. “We are confident that Wallace & Gromit present A World of Invention has great international potential and will appeal to family audiences worldwide.”

(Thanks Animation Magazine)

Springfield Comes to Cannes for MIPCOM Simpsons Bash

The Simpsons are taking over MIPCOM to celebrate the 20th anniversary of the iconic animated television series.

The celebration, put together by Twentieth Century Fox Television Distribution with MIPCOM organizers will include keynote addresses Oct. 6 from series creator Matt Groening and executive producer Al Jean. The pair also will participate in an international press conference that also will include Dan Castellaneta and Julie Kavner, the voices behind Homer and Marge Simpson.

On Oct. 7, the mayor of Cannes will proclaim Simpsons Day in the city and present Groening with a yellow key to the city. That evening, Groening will receive the first ever MIPCOM Creative Icon Award at a yellow-carpet dinner.

“The irreverent humor of The Simpsons has traveled around the world. It is a remarkable example of a show that for two decades has combined creative richness with huge commercial success without compromise,” said Laurine Garaude, acting Director of Reed MIDEM’s Television Division. “We are proud to be a part of the celebration of this truly global television phenomenon.”

(Thanks Animation Magazine)

Report: Canada, U.S., France Tops in Animation Output

A new report on global animation output ranks Canada, the United States and France as the most prolific animation nations.

The report, titled The Global Animation Industry and put together by analysts at Screen Digest, had Canada producing the most hours of animation in 2008, with 382, followed by the United States at 330. The value of the United States’ output, however, was greater than that of Canada — $376 million versus $265 million —due to the higher budgets of U.S. productions.

France, meanwhile, lead Europe with 259 hours produced — down from 395 in 2006 — while the United Kingdom surpassed Italy for the No. 2 spot.

In a ranking of companies’ output, Canada’s Nelvana was the top producer worldwide by average output over the past three years, ahead of Disney and Nick.

“There is perhaps no genre of film or television more global than animation,” says Screen Digest Senior Analyst Tim Westcott. “A popular film or TV series in one country can quickly translate into a global phenomenon. And success in these primary markets can feed through into DVD and licensing and merchandising revenues."

(Thanks Animation Magazine)

Sunday Afternoon with a Kid With A Rocket Launcher

Two separate independent projects, with little in common outside of both being made essentially by one person, each with a lot of dedication. First up, Matthew Reis’ Kid With a Rocket Launcher:

Reis’ film is quite an ambitious project. Toon Boom just did an article on how it got made, and Reis has posted an extensive production blog.

Danny Ochoa, an indie animator residing in San Francisco, was commissioned to direct and animate a music video by local Bay Area band The Greening. I think it captures the proper underground comix feel:

Danny tells us:

Yes, I made the entire cartoon by myself… Written, directed and animated. The cartoon took me a year to complete because I had to work nights on it and had a day job at the time. It was rendered entirely in Flash and I tried to keep the look of the cartoon as traditionally hand drawn as possible, as almost every frame was meticulously hand drawn with a wacom tablet.

I love underground comics and cartoons from the golden age of animation so I tried to combine those two looks to the cartoon. The characters in the video are actually from a comic I have been self publishing for years called Molly & Jo. I hope to someday pitch “Molly & Jo” as an animated series and hope that the video is the first step in that direction.

(Thanks cartoonbrew)

The Apple and the Worm

Animator David Nethery pointed me toward this intriguing 2D animated feature coming from Denmark, The Apple & the Worm, directed by Anders Morgenthaler (Princess). It was apparently made totally paperless, drawn on Wacom Cintiq tablets, using TVP Animation software. If any of our bilingual readers can translate the trailer’s introductory dialogue, please send us a comment.

The poster and still images are posted here and a very good article about the film and the director is up at Denmark Film Institute.

(Thanks cartoonbrew)

What to make of Mickey’s mixed signals

Jim Hill talks about all of the recent changes at The Walt Disney Company. To be specific, what Bob Iger will be looking for from the new head of Disney Studios

It’s been quite a month for the Mouse, don’t you think? Inside of one single 30 day span, The Walt Disney Company has:

* - Revealed that it would be spending $4 billion to acquire Marvel Entertainment, Inc. and its library of 5000 characters
* - At the D23 EXPO, the Studios announced a new production label – Disney Double Dare You – which would specialize in creating “ … new animated films full of chills and thrills for audiences of all ages”
* - Dick Cook stepped down as Chairman of Walt Disney Studios, ending his 38-year career with the Company
* - Disney decided to downsize Miramax, which had previously produced many of the Studio’s prestige pictures like “Shakespeare in Love,” “The English Patient” and “The Queen”

I gotta tell you, folks. From the e-mails that I’ve been receiving, Disneyana fans aren’t exactly thrilled with all of these changes that seem to be coming so fast. For every piece of good news (EX: The $300 million-plus that Disney Parks & Resorts will be spending to expand the Fantasyland portion of WDW’s Magic Kingdom), there are two other stories that then give these people pause (EX: The Company’s recent announcement that the 5th Avenue “World of Disney” flagship store will be closing on December 31st and/or this morning's news that Rich Ross, the president of Disney Channels Worldwide, has been tapped as Dick Cook’s replacement).

So what are you guys making of Mickey's mixed signals? As one JHM fan recently put it in a note to yours truly:

“I feel like I’m not going to be able to recognize the place in 5 to 10 years. Couldn’t they get someone like John Lasseter to replace Dick Cook?”

(L to R) John Lasseter & Dick Cook

Sorry, but John’s plate is full right now. Some might even say too full.

I mean, think about it. As of this moment, John Lasseter is riding herd on:

* - All of the features & shorts that Pixar Animation Studios & Walt Disney Animation Studios currently have in production and/or development
* - Consulting on all of the theme parks, rides, shows & attractions that Walt Disney Imagineering has in its pipeline
* - Overseeing Pixar’s own expansion plans (i.e. that 20,000-square-foot studio that they plan on opening this Fall in Vancouver. Not to mention Pixar’s $325-million plans to expand its corporate headquarters. Which – over the next 20 years – will add three new buildings to the Emeryville campus [including a six-story, 1,801-space parking garage] as this studio grows from its current staff of 730 to 2000 employees)
* - And let’s not forget that Pixar’s move into live-action production. Which officially gets underway next month with Andrew Stanton’s “John Carter of Mars” begins shooting in Utah

Copyright 2009 Lasseter Family Winery. All Rights Reserved

* - And did I mention the Lasseter Family Winery in Glen Ellen, CA. ? Or that John & Nancy’s five sons are growing up very fast these days? Which makes Lasseter’s family time seem that much precious

So – in short – John Lasseter’s dance card is full. Very full. Which is why taking on the additional responsibility of running Walt Disney Studios was just a physical impossibility.

Besides running the movie side of the Mouse House these days would seem to be kind of a thankless task. To me, anyway. Think about all of the 800-pound gorillas that you’d regularly have to deal with if you had that job …

Copyright 2009 Disney. All Rights Reserved

Jerry Bruckheimer
Tim Burton
John Lasseter
Steven Spielberg
Robert Zemeckis

… With each of these guys then expecting that their latest film will get your full attention. That their upcoming production will get the best possible release date. More importantly, the lion’s share of that year’s promotional budget.

That’s why I don’t envy Rich Ross (who – just this morning – has officially been confirmed as the new head of Walt Disney Studios). In replacing the much beloved Cook, Ross is going to have a very tough act to follow. More importantly – given everything that’s going on in the entertainment business these days (i.e. the drop in DVD sales, consumers failing to fully embrace Blu-ray, etc.) -- picking projects that will actually pay off for the Mouse House in the long run is going to be a real challenge.

Rich Ross, president of Disney Channels Worldwide.
Copyright 2009 Disney. All Rights Reserved

That said, it was almost an inevitability that Rich would wind up in charge of the Studios. After all, as head of Disney Channels Worldwide (with its “… 94 kid-driven, family inclusive entertainment channels and/or channel feeds available in 163 countries in 32 languages), Ross had risen as high as he realistically could go within that arm of the Mouse House. And given that – on the heels of the success of the “High School Musical,” “Hannah Montana” and “Camp Rock” franchises—other entertainment companies have come sniffing around, trying to lure Rich away from Disney with promises of higher salaries & bigger challenges at their studios … Mickey had to do something to keep Rich on the reservation. Which is why Dick got tossed under the bus.

On the upside, I have heard some awfully nice things about Ross. That he is just the sort of team player that Iger is looking for when it comes to the new head of Walt Disney Studios.

Case in point: Last year, as Disney Company officials were mapping out plans to maximize the profits that the Studio expected to make off of “High School Musical 3: Senior Year,” the issue of ringtones came up. And it was determined that Disney could make several million dollars if they just sold off pieces of music from the “HSM3" soundtrack to a company like Verizon to use for ringtones.

Copyright 2008 Disney. All Rights Reserved

But at that same time, The Walt Disney Company was targeting young cell phone users. The Mouse had set up a mobile storefront, an instant-messaging chat system as well as virtual world widgets. All with the hope that this new business initiative would then allow Mickey to tap into the super-lucrative mobile market for 9-to-14 year-olds.

And even though it meant taking a pass on that $3 - $4 million that a company like Verizon would have put on the table, Rich still said “No.” Opting to try & help a just-getting-started division of The Walt Disney Company instead.

A generous gesture like that does not go unnoticed by someone like Bob Iger. Who has his own long term strategy for The Walt Disney Company which involves a more diversified base of business (which is where things like the acquisition of Marvel Entertainment, Inc. come in). So that – in this era of expanded choice – the Mouse House would ultimately be the place that consumers circled back to. Thanks to the Company’s huge stable of characters as well as its long history of delivering quality content.

Bob Iger discusses the value that will be added to The Walt Disney Company by acquiring Marvel Entertainment, Inc.

Bob is looking for Rich to continue that tradition. Only this time around, Iger is looking for Ross to take his ability to select TV shows & movies that Disney Channel viewers really responded to and then applying that talent toward picking out winning productions for Walt Disney Studios.

I know, I know. It’s kind of weird to have The Walt Disney Company staging events like the D23 EXPO – which seem to celebrate the Mouse House’s heritage – while, at the same time, Bob Iger is making all of these decisions that appear to be radical departures from the way Mickey usually does business (i.e. the Marvel Entertainment acquisition, Disney Double Dare You, letting Dick Cook go, shutting down the 5th Avenue Disney Store, etc.).

All I can tell you is that – based on conversations that I’ve recently had with Mouse House insiders – that there is actually a plan in place. One that – over the next 10 years or so – will significantly change the way that consumers typically thinks of The Walt Disney Company. But in a good way.

Copyright 2009 Disney. All Rights Reserved

To be honest, much of what is being done these days is so that – further on down the line – The Company will be better positioned for international expansion (i.e. a Disney theme park in Shanghai that features the Company’s classic characters as well as Marvel’s assortment of superheroes is sure to be twice as appealing to the Chinese populace). But – at the same time – projects like “Disney Double Dare You” will help expand audiences expectations. At least when it comes to the sorts of films that come out of Walt Disney Studios.

Look for Iger and Tom Staggs, Chief Financial Officer of The Walt Disney Company, to expand further on where the Mouse House is heading on Thursday, November 12th. Which is when Bob & Tom will be revealing the financial results of fiscal year 2009. And – after going into detail about how the Company performed in the last quarter as well as looking back over 2009 as a whole – Iger & Staggs will then talk a bit more about 2010 and beyond.

Which (at that point) should include some preliminary information about how Rich Ross is going to revise Walt Disney Studios’ production slate.

ABC Warriors

We've run across a cool bit of animated footage for fans of the UK's flagship '2000 AD' comics magazine.

Firestep Animation has created a brief trailer based on the comic 'ABC Warriors'. At present we have little information about what the trailer actually represents. Firestep states that it was made with the full cooperation of Rebellion, who holds the rights to the 2000 AD catalog. The Manchester-based animation studio is best known for 'the Infinite Quest', an animated Dr Who adventure for the BBC.

'ABC Warriors' focuses on a team of war robots designed to defend against Atomic, Bacterial and Chemical warfare.


MTV Splash Page presents that sizzler reel for 'Justice League: Crisis on Two Earths' that you'll find on the recently-released 'Superman/Batman: Public Enemies' DVD.

Package Art From Upcoming "Green Lantern: First Flight" Soundtrack Score CD Release

The World's Finest has a first look at the package artwork for the upcoming Green Lantern: First Flight soundtrack CD release from La-La Land Records.

To view images from the upcoming Green Lantern: First Flight soundtrack CD release from La-La Land Records, available to order beginning October 6th, 2009, please click on the thumbnails below.

To view more images and to read a review of the new Green Lantern: First Flight soundtrack CD release coming from La-La Land Records, please visit the Green Lantern: First Flight subsite here at The World's Finest.

The CD release of Green Lantern: First Flight is a limited edition collector's release of 1500 copies which will be available only through the La-La Land Records website and other online soundtrack specialty stores. The Green Lantern: First Flight soundtrack CD release from La-La Land Records will be available to order beginning October 6th, 2009. A downloadable version of the soundtrack is currently available on iTunes, through the New Line Records label.

Stay tuned for further updates on this and other upcoming releases from La-La-Land Records.

Production Money, Production Hours in the Animation Biz

To follow up on yesterday's post, another reason that U.S./ North American animation employment is holding up in the teeth of a global recession:

... Canada has emerged ahead of the USA and France as the most prolific source of animation for television, with 382 hours produced in 2008 worth Euro181m ($265m). US production output totalled fewer hours-330-but was worth Euro256m ($376m)-a mark of the higher budgets invested by the major US players.

France was the leading producer in Europe by a long way, with 259 hours produced in 2008, although output has fallen from a high of 395 hours in 2006.

The UK was the next largest producer in 2008, with a significant rise in production taking it past Italy ...

These kinds of reports mostly side-step the issue of sub-contracting and employment hours in different countries. And television animation is only a single sub-set of what constitutes "animation." There is feature production, broadcast graphics, video games, visual effects and internet cartoons, to name a clutch of others.

The point to be made here is that animation has been an ever-growing segment of what constitutes "today's entertainment" for some years now. There is no large-scale, live-action epic that can now do without animation. (Just look at the credit scroll on the back of any high-budget feature at which you eat popcorn and you'll know what I mean.)

If you have a teenager at home, they're likely immersed in interactive animation via a games console or computer. Three of the top fourteen box-office attractions now playing on U.S./ Canadian theater screens are 100% animated.

And so on and so forth.

When I entered the movie business back when Gerald Ford was El Presidente, little of this was happening. Animation was confined to Saturday morning cartoons produced by Hanna-Barbera and a handful of others, and every 3-4 years Disney would turn out an 85-minute, hand-drawn feature.

That, by and large, was it.

So when people express shock when we point out that "animation employment is growing," understand the context. Yes, there has been displacement of experienced artists. Yes, there's been "creative destruction" along the way. But the animation universe is way larger than it was twenty, even ten years ago.

And the applications for animation keep right on expanding.

(Thanks Animation Guild Blog)

Animated New Yorkers

Not Manhattanites screaming for taxis, but the magazine's on-line animated cartoons. (Who said hand-drawn toonage was dead?)

Some of these are droll, others not so much.

(Thanks Animation Guild Blog)

Day 2 at Reanimania ’09: Thomas Edison, Touch Fx and Yoshi Tamura

Two films competing at the Reanimania festival are relentless in their vision. The Canadian Edison & Leo by N. Burns and the Brazilian Passaros by Filipe Abraches.

You have not seen a film like Edison & Leo before; a stop motion feature that takes extreme liberties with the life story of Thomas Edison. It does so with plenty of dark humor contained in a father-and-son narrative that surpasses Darth Vader and Luke’s in dysfunctionality. Edison is portrayed as a cheating, robbing and selfish husband/inventor/father. After alienating his older son, accidentally killing his wife, he electrically charges his younger son, Leo, and calls him his “greatest invention”. Electric Leo grows up unhappy until the day he decides to challenge his father. Along the way, many instances of John Watersesque drama occur. There’s even an attack by the Pasana tribe on the Edison house.

Passaros is a hand drawn short film that makes powerful use of bird motifs. An elderly woman feeding hundreds of caged birds on her rooftop receives a younger, male guest. As they dine together, authority figures barge inside the kitchen, sack the man and lock him in one of the woman’s cages. After being freed by the woman, the man whose face has come to resemble that of a bird’s, reaches the edge of the building and decides to flee for his life. The close ups of birds, coupled with the mastery of shapes in the animation (watching the woman dicing and preparing the bird dinner is intense) are what give this dialogue-less film its unique eeriness.

Another noteworthy film competing in the short film competition is Desanim√© by Anne Leclerq. This puppet animation dealing with loneliness relies on micro-movements such as eye twitches to put the viewers in the emotional space of the protagonist, a young woman. The film also cleverly combines animation with live action. In a couple of exterior shots near the end of the movie, the woman walks amongst crowds of live action. She clearly looks like she does not belong with these people, but that is the point: she’s a secluded person. The combination of both mediums dramatacizes the emotion.

On day 2 began MARANI, Reanimania’s animation market. The company that started it off was Touch Fx, a local animation studio. There are not that many animation studios in the Caucasus region. According to Touch Fx, there aren’t any that specialize in high quality CG feature animation. None besides them: Touch Fx is a commercial effects studio turning to feature production. They have two movies on the way: Kukaracha, a co-produced animation with Russia and The Kam, a mo-capped cowboy movie that is completely theirs. Tests sequences from both movies looked impressive and entertaining. Touch Fx churns out a lot of work with a small staff. A couple of talented directors, one IT and effects guru, one art department lead, one character and setup lead, one senior animator and a handful of modelers, riggers and junior animators. Even the CEO of the company, Vahe Sarkissian, models in his spare time. All of this as they do advertisement spots here and there. The company plans to finish both films in the next two years. I believe Touch Fx will go far but not without presenting themselves better. Their demonstration could have been prepared better: sure the lady with the butterfly wings welcoming the attendees looked cute, but she was not distracting people from the fact that a Q & A session was absent from the showcase.

What you did not want to miss after Touch Fx was the second part of Yoshi Tamura’s workshop entitled “2D Animation: Motions and Emotions”. Mr. Tamura, a feature animator with a credit list that includes The Princess and the Frog, Igor and Tarzan shared many of his secrets with a group of ten inquisitive animators at the Naregatsi art center. What made Tamura’s workshop interesting was his insistence on researching poses and thinking about the filmmaking aspects of a given scene before actually animating. In brief, here is the method Tamura elaborated on during the workshop:

-Understand the movie you’re working on, know its logline and believe in it.

-Get to know the characters you are working on. Even if they are secondary, know what their psychology and motivations are.

-Do thumbnail drawings of the scene you are working on. Mr. Tamura spends half his time doing thumbnails. He calls this the fun and research stage, and believes that you are never wasting your time doing thumbnails: this is how you obtain the best acting and composition for your scene.

-Refer to your own life experience when thumbnailing your poses. This will help the audience refer to their own when watching the movie.

-Discuss you work with your supervisor and move on to the next stage: the pose test.

-The pose test is a rough animation that features only timing and spacing of thumbnail drawings or models if working in 3d. This stage shapes the animation style of the motion.

-After discussing the scene, move on to the first pass of animation which features the main poses (or accents) of the animation. At this stage you will include accel/deceleration and again review your work: your timing can longer change so you might have to get rid of secondary accents from your animation if they are not legible.

-After more feedback, go to the 2nd pass and add details such as facial animation.

The example Tamura used to explain this methodology was a short sequence from Igor in which Pinky is talking to and pointing at Brain.

In this Youtube clip, Yoshi Tamura breaks down a shot he worked on from Flushed Away in which the protagonist is angrily banging his phone against wall. Mr. Tamura does a great job in explaining how the filmmaking aspects of the shot (the camera framing and the audience’s identification with the character) defined the poses he used in the animation of the character. Along the way, he also touches upon a difference between working in 3d and 2d.

Upcoming in North America

First Showing notes Games Workshop is developing a 70 CGI animated sci-fi direct to DVD Warhammer 40,000 film called Ultramarines. Codex Pictures will be producing the project

More can be seen here

Ghost in the Shell 2.0 preview

Discotek Media
Newly announced release plans include

Fist of the North Star TV Series 1-152
Lupin the Third Episode 0 First Contact
Sea Prince and the Fire Child (also known as Shiriusu no Densetsu)

The Fist TV series will be released in 4 boxsets.

Discotek still releasing the Crying Freeman anime series, Prisoner Scorpion Jailhouse 41, Burning Paradise, and Taxi Hunter. these will all be out in 2010

Afro Samurai - Complete Murder Sessions (Spike Version) will collect the full anime on November 3rd for $37.98

The Blu-ray Blog notes that Warren Ellis penned animated series, G.I. Joe: Resolute will be released on DVD November 3, 2009 - MSRP $19.99

Special Features:

“Now You know” teaser promo
Interviews with Filmmakers
JOE Files

Upcoming in Japan
Anime Vice's fall anime preview

Random Curisoty's Fall Anime Preview

Promos and Previews
Professor Layton anime movie

InuYasha Final

Musashi: The Dream of the Last Samurai

Thriller Restaurant

Durarara!! - from the author of Baccano, from the people who adapted Baccano

Mai Mai Miracle

Ani no Miyako looks at BLACK?ROCK SHOOTER & Studio Ordet

A look at the upcoming Yamato Rebirth

TV Asahi confirmed Crayon Shinchan will continue its broadcast despite the death of creator Yoshito Usui, with new episodes airing on October 16th. A new anime movie will open next spring.

The Business

PW has confirmed Kodansha's entrance into the North American manga market. The new line of manga will be called Kodansha Comics, which will be published under Kodansha USA Publishing and distributed by Random House. As was previously known, the line will launch with Katsuhiro Otomo's Akira and Shirow Masamune's Ghost in the Shell. More titles will be announced later in the year.
Kodansha has stated the intention to continue to license some of its titles in the U.S.

A must read - JAniCA Club Blog Translation: What’s Going On in the Anime Industry Right Now?! - anime director Osamu Yamasaki's comments on animator's pay

Astro Boy Previews

NYCIFF will be presenting advanced screenings of Astro Boy October 17th and 18th at the IFC Center with a "Blast-Off Party" on the 18th.

11 clips of the movie

MovieTickets.com's Guide to Imagi Astro Boy

guide to the movie's villains

clip from Astro fight in Ham Egg's robot gladiatorial fights

TV Spots

Anime on North American TV

Cartoon Network's Adult Swim will be airing Bleach the Movie: Memories of Nobody on November 28th and Bleach: The DiamondDust Rebellion on December 5th.

Worth Checking Out...


Kevin Conroy on Reprising the Dark Knight for "Superman/Batman: Public Enemies"

Anime Dream on the Korean/Japanese animated film Blade of the Phantom Master

Reverse Thieves on Turn A Gundam, a distinctive Gundam with Syd Mead design, Yoko Kanno music, and giant robots clashing with World War I tech

Kid Fenris on Southern Cross (one third of Robotech)

Savage Critic on Otomo's Domu and Urasawa's Monster

Goldberg Involved in Disneyland’s Halloween Ad

Guillermo Navarro directed this new live-action/animated spot for Disneyland’s Halloween Time event, which runs from September 25th to November 1st. I spotted Eric Goldberg in the background of a scene in a “making of” video on the Disneyland site. He directed the animation by way of Duck.

ASIFA-East and SVA present Mary and Max

In celebration of International Animation Day, SVA and ASIFA-East present MARY AND MAX, a clayography feature film from Academy Award® winning writer/director Adam Elliot and producer Melanie Coombs, featuring the voice talents of Toni Collette, Phillip Seymour Hoffman, Barry Humphries and Eric Bana.

Spanning 20 years and 2 continents, MARY AND MAX tells of a pen-pal relationship between two very different people: Mary Dinkle (Collette), a chubby, lonely 8-year-old living in the suburbs of Melbourne, Australia; and Max Horovitz (Hoffman), a severely obese, 44-year-old Jewish man with Asperger’s Syndrome living in the chaos of New York City.

As MARY AND MAX chronicles Mary’s trip from adolescence to adulthood, and Max’s passage from middle to old age, it explores a bond that survives much more than the average friendship’s ups-and-downs. Like Elliot and Coombs’ Oscar® winning animated short HARVIE KRUMPET, MARY AND MAX is both hilarious and poignant as it takes us on a journey that explores friendship, autism, taxidermy, psychiatry, alcoholism, where babies come from, obesity, kleptomania, sexual differences, trust, copulating dogs, religious differences, agoraphobia and many more of life’s surprises.

October 28th, Wednesday 7pm
School Of Visual Arts
Visual Arts Theatre
333 West 23 Street
(Bet. 8th & 9th Ave)

(Thanks asifa east)

'The Joker Blogs' Offer Peek Inside Dark Knight Nemesis' Therapy

There was no shortage of posthumous awards for Heath Ledger's portrayal of The Joker in "The Dark Knight," and fans have only added to the fame of the late actor's unique take on the character by donning convention costumes inspired by the character and creating animated skits and mash-ups. And then there's The Joker Blogs.

The video series, which currently includes 17 episodes posted over the last year, claims to be a collection of taped therapy sessions between Joker and Dr. Harleen Quinzel (destined to become the Joker's accomplice, Harley Quinn) conducted at Gotham's infamous Arkham Asylum. It also features an impressively spot-on impression of Ledger's freakishly scary Joker.

The most recent episode of the series hit the 'Net last week, and features a plea from Quinzel to help find the recently escaped Joker.

While The Joker Blogs has been posting new episodes for over a year now, the Joker's escape in the most recent video offers a great excuse to go back through the archives and watch the entire series from the start. Here's the pilot episode:

Kudos go out to the crew who created The Joker Blogs, as I don't think I've seen a better Joker performance that channels Ledger's particular spin on the character.

You can check out the full series on the official website for The Joker Blogs.

SGU debut is Syfy's best franchise debut; Dollhouse drops

Syfy's Stargate Universe debuted on Friday as the network's best franchise premiere in four years, drawing 2.3 million viewers and beating Fox's Dollhouse but trailing The CW's Smallville.

SGU took in a 1.7 household rating. The newest series in the Stargate franchise attracted 1.32 million adults ages 25-54 and 1.12 million adults 18-49.

Among the show's milestones:

♦This is the best performance for a Stargate franchise season premiere on Syfy since season two of Stargate Atlantis on July 15, 2005.
♦Among adults 18-49, the 1.12 million viewers is the best performance for a Friday series premiere since Battlestar Galactica debuted on Jan. 14, 2005.
Stargate Universe's 2.3 million total viewers surpassed the 2.1 million total viewers that watched Dollhouse on Fox at 9 p.m.

As for the Fox series, The Hollywood Reporter's Live Feed reported that the second week's episode, "Instinct," dropped 20 percent from its season premiere the week before, which doesn't bode well for Joss Whedon's series. The ratings represented a new low for the series that doesn't seem to have a bottom.

Other Friday ratings:

♦CBS' Ghost Whisperer drew 7.6 million viewers and Medium 7.7 million, giving CBS a win for the night.
♦Week two of The CW's Smallville drew 2.4 million viewers, an 18 percent drop.

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