Monday, November 2, 2009

News - 11/02/09...

Eric Goldberg Draws Louis From New Disney Film

Here’s a nice Halloween treat from the supervising animator on Walt Disney Animation Studios’ upcoming 2D feature The Princess and the Frog. Eric Goldberg, the supervising animator on the Genie from Aladdin, oversaw the animation of the jazz-loving alligator Louis in this new film. Around the 1:30 mark in this video below, Goldberg draws him for us. The traditionally animated film is in theaters on December 11th.

A Pair of 2008 Sheridan Shorts

Alan Cook just turned me onto some excellent animated student shorts from Sheridan College. They’re 2008 films, all just now released on the web. I’d start with these two below, but head over to Alan’s blog for more.

Two By Two by Matthew Kalinauskas

C BLOCK by Vladimir Kooperman

Pixar Thriller

This is what they did for Halloween at Pixar Friday. (PS: “Michael” is none other than Alex Woo.)

(Thanks cartoon brew)

Fox Orders Season 6 of American Dad!

The Fox network has ordered a sixth season of American Dad!, the animated comedy series co-created by Family Guy guru Seth MacFarlane.

The show, which will reach its milestone 100th episode this season, has been steadily gaining in popularity. It’s rated among the top-10 shows in the key demographics of men ages 18-49 and adults 18-34. It also was nominated for an Emmy as outstanding animated program.

Move will ensure MacFarlane’s dominance of Fox’s Sunday night Animation Domination block, with Family Guy continuing nonstop and new spinoff The Cleveland Show recently being picked up for a full second season.

(Thanks Animation Magazine)

Roger Rabbit Writers Developing Sequel

The original writers of Who Framed Roger Rabbit? are back on the job, developing a script for a sequel to the classic 1988 mix of live-action and animation.

Robert Zemeckis, who directed the film, said original writers Jeffrey Price and Peter Seaman were working on the project, he told MTV News.

Zemeckis says he would return to direct the film, and that he was uninvolved in the any of the sequel or prequel projects rumored to have been in the works over the past two decades.

(Thanks Animation Magazine)

Jackson a Monster Hit at Box Office

To no one’s surprise, the Michael Jackson documentary This Is It dominated the weekend box office, taking in $21.3 million from Friday to Sunday and bringing its five-day total to $32.5 million.

In second place is Paranormal Activity, which is being called the most profitable movie ever made. Filmed on a budget of a few thousand dollars, the horror film took in $16 million this weekend to bring its domestic total to $51.4 million. It was followed at the box office by Couples Retreat and Saw VI.

Where the Wild Things Are is seeing a standard drop off at the box office, taking in $5 million this weekend to finish in sixth place. Spike Jonze’s adaptation of the beloved children’s book has grossed $61.8 million to date.

The animated feature film Astro Boy hung on to eighth place, earning $3 million and bringing its total after two weekends to $10.9 million.

Sony Pictures Animation’s Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs finished just outside the top ten, taking in $2.7 million in its seventh weekend for a total of $118 million.

(Thanks Animation Magazine)

Sherlock Holmes Steps in to Sponsor Family Guy Special

Warner Bros. has stepped in to fill the void left by Microsoft’s decision to drop its exclusive sponsorship of the Fox TV special Family Guy Presents: Seth and Alex’s Almost Live Comedy Show.

The studio will use the Nov. 8 show and Family Guy’s strong male demographic appeal to promote its upcoming feature film Sherlock Holmes. The film, due out Christmas Day, stars Robert Downey Jr. as Holmes, Jude Law at Dr. Watson and is directed by Guy Ritchie.

The special, which features Family Guy co-creator Seth MacFarlane and actress-producer Alex Borstein putting on an old-fashioned variety show with cutting edge humor, was to have been sponsored exclusively by Microsoft. But the software giant pulled out due to concerns the humor in the show goes too far.

(Thanks Animation Magazine)

Oscar Animated Feature Entries Due Nov. 2

Animated features films have until 5 p.m. Monday, Nov. 2, to submit their entry forms and supporting materials to the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences for consideration in the Best Animated Feature Film category.

The deadline to submit film prints is Nov. 13.

The rules for submission are available online at Additional information may be obtained by contacting Wil Goldenberg via phone at (310) 247-3000, ext. 190, by fax at (310) 247-2600, or by e-mail at

The 82nd Academy Awards nominations will be announced on Tuesday, Feb. 2, 2010, in the Academy’s Samuel Goldwyn Theater.

Academy Awards for outstanding film achievements of 2009 will be presented on March 7 at the Kodak Theatre at Hollywood & Highland Center, and televised live by the ABC Television Network.

(Thanks Animation Magazine)

Kyle Baker Talks About Showtime’s Dexter Toon

Considering that the fourth season premiere of Dexter, Showtime’s popular drama about everyone’s favorite serial killer, generated 1.5 million viewers, it’s not surprising that the cabler has launched a web prequel of sorts to provide fans with more backstory. What’s interesting about this online series, which premiered last Sunday on is that it’s animated. Narrated by Michael C. Hall, the series is written and produced by Lauren Gussis and animated/illustrated by Kyle Baker, Andres Vera Martinez and Ty Templeton. We recently had the chance to chat with eight-time Eisner Award-winning comic-book artist/illustrator and animator Kyle Baker (Why I Hate Saturn, Nat Turner, Cartoonist) about the four episodes he worked on, which focus on the demise of a corrupt Gulf War veteran.

Animag Online: It’s always exciting to see talented comic-book artists get involved with major animated projects. Can you tell us how you connected with the animated Dexter series? Where you a fan of the show?

Kyle Baker:
Actually I wasn’t familiar with the series until I started working on the animated project. I’m old friends with Michael Uman, partner and creative director of INTERSpectacular, and we worked together on another show, so it kind of lead to this job. I love doing low-budget animation for the Internet. You can have a lot more fun doing these smaller projects—if you work at bigger studios like Disney and Warner Bros, you don’t have as much control. Michael knew that I know how to squeeze production value out of a limited budget.


Can you explain about the process and how long it took to deliver the show?

Kyle Baker:
I am pretty fast. We started working on it in August, and I believe the series started to air on October 23. I did most of the art in Photoshop, and then the animators incorporated Flash and After Effects and Quicktime. If the animation needed to be extra specific, I did it myself. I happen to know how to make it work with three or four drawings.

Tell us about the four episodes that you worked on.

Kyle Baker:
Well, I know that although Dexter is a serial killer, he’s actually the good guy. The web series focuses on three of his victims. My story deals with a character called Mr. Kimmens—and you find out how Dexter got his boat and picks up the habit of collecting these slides of blood. Another thing I like about a smaller indie show is that you get to do everything here in the States. One of my pet peeves is seeing companies spend a fortune on these shows and sending it to places like Korea—and you can never see where the money was actually spent. On the Dexter show, I did all the artwork—we had two directors, one animator and a line producer—just five people.

While you’re very famous in the comic-book world, you have also worked on big studio movies such as Looney Tunes: Back in Action and TV series such as Cartoon Network’s Class of 3000 and Disney’s Phineas and Ferb. What is your take on the animation scene today?

Kyle Baker:
I think things are a lot better than when I started out. When I work on the big studio projects, I always notice that there’s so much fat. They send these shows to Korea—where unskilled artists working on sub minimum wage do the drawings. Then you get the TV show back and nothing is actually moving. The only things that are moving are the mouths! What I’m saying is, “Hey, why don't you use my drawings!” Listen, I’m all about cutting corners if it’s done right. Look at Joe Barbera—he knew how to cut corners the right way. Anime is cheaply produced and relies on limited animation, but it’s all well planned. I see things on TV right now that bore me to tears. Look at Dora the Explorer—that show, for example, costs a lot to produce, but it just looks wrong. The truth is someone is getting kickbacks from these foreign studios. The producer’s girlfriend owns a studio overseas. I tell you, I look at some of these TV shows, and I’ve seen web pages that move better than this stuff!


I noticed on your website that you’ve also created your own animated projects based on your books. Can you tell us a bit about how you managed to do that?

Kyle Baker:
You know, for years I’ve been making my own shorts. I can do the stuff with less money and I can make it look better by using good drawings! For my latest project, I did the toon in 3D and then output it in 2D. I used this low-priced program called Animation Master, which I downloaded off the Internet. It’s designed for kids, but you know what? It gets the job done! I remember Joe Kubert—comic-book artist who did Sgt Rock and Hawkman for Marvel—and founded the Kubert School of Cartoon and Graphic Art, somebody asked him what kind of pen he uses. He said, “It doesn’t matter what you use to create—Picasso used a kids’ crayon and produced these masterpieces!”

If you work for one of the big studios, all they want you to do is stick to the model sheets. I was fired from my job doing the Rugrats daily newspaper comic-strip because they just wanted to stick to the sheet. You couldn’t really be creative—they just wanted you to use six standard facial expressions. They do the same thing in superhero comics. They use the same templates—Superman is just Batman without his mask! I finished a graphic comic based on Obama’s biography that's coming out in January—I’m also doing Deadpool for Marvel—I don’t know him very well, but everyone assures me that he’s a great character!

You have been vocal in the past about the importance of hanging on to the rights for your characters and comics. What kind of advice can you give our readers who may be confused about how to survive in this business?

Kyle Baker:
Right now, I’m working with a company and we’re looking to set up a studio that launches new original animated projects. The big studios are scared because they’re making less movies—and they are paying much less money for the talent. In the old days, studios paid a big pile of money in exchange for owning all the rights—and they screwed you out of the toy money. But today, they offer no money and they still want all the rights. So it makes sense to develop your own content and distribute it yourself. You can launch your projects on the web, then do a motion comics project on iTunes for a couple thousand bucks. Then take that money and work on a bigger project. I’m friends with Bill Plympton, and he is able to keep going and producing these movies by keeping his budgets very low. Meanwhile the studios are dying because they’re incapable of making movies that cost less than 200 million! Meanwhile, people can download those same movies or buy the bootleg copy in Chinatown three weeks after they hit theaters.

Back in the old days, you could buy a house with the money studios would give you for the rights for your comic-books. Today, I know so many guys in ths business, whose projects have been made into movies, but they’re not getting a dime. Seriously, if you want to learn about how to survive in this business, go read Joe Barbera’s book, My Life in Toons: From Flatbush to Bedrock in Less Than a Century. He’s truly my hero. He is the guy who created Tom and Jerry—with William Hanna, when he was at MGM. But like everyone else, he got reamed while people like Gene Kelly and producer Fred Quimby got the Oscars, while he got fired. He was 50 years old and thought he was ruined. He said, “Well, maybe I’ll get into this new thing called television!” and because it was a new medium, he was able to negotiate, so he got to own everything that had to do with The Flintstones and Scooby-Doo. That’s how he was able to survive and really make a difference in his new format. That’s how I feel about the Internet and new ways of distributing your content. It’s all new—so you have the power to negotiate … and don’t forget, if you want to make toys based on my comics, you’ve got to pay me!

Kyle Baker

To watch the new Dexter: Early Cuts animated series, visit

To find out more about Kyler Baker and check out his cartoons, visit

(Thanks Animation Magazine)

Cookie Jar Catches McGowan for VP post

Cookie Jar Entertainment has hired industry veteran Jim McGowan as senior VP digital content and distribution.

McGowan comes to the job from his own consulting company, where he negotiated licensing and distribution agreements and consulted on business plans and acquisitions for clients such as Entertainment Rights, 20th Century Fox, Starz Media and Dentsu Communications.

His career includes stints at Mattel, where he oversaw distribution of direct-to-video fare featuring Barbie and Hot Wheels; an eight-year tenure running the animation distribution division at Pioneer Entertainment; and Paramount Pictures Licensing Group.

“For the past 20 years, Jim has held executive positions at major film studios and consumer products companies, and his expertise will be a great asset to Cookie Jar Entertainment,” said Toper Taylor, Cookie Jar Entertainment President and COO. “He will play a major role in the continued expansion of our digital media department.”

McGowan will be based in Burbank and reports to Taylor.

(Thanks Animation Magazine)

Evolutions Opens Boutique Shop Called Earth

U.K. post-production house Evolutions has opened Earth, a boutique digital studio that will offer services in the commercials, design, promotions and visual effects spheres.

Earth will be headed up by ex-Smoke & Mirrors staffers James Niklasson, as senior producer; Mike Capon as executive producer; and Nico Cotta as VFX supervisor. It also will incorporate Evolutions’ design arm, Sprout.

Evolutions is investing £750,000 in the new venture, which will open with 14 full-time staff members that will be augmented by freelancers.

“We have put together a collective of artists, designers, animators and producers, and we’re all looking forward to working in a creative environment, which focuses on clients’ needs,” says Niklasson.

The shop is equipped with three fully featured hero suites based around Flame, Smoke and Avid DS Nitris HD, with an additional 20 supporting workstations for CGI and VFX work.

Earth is scheduled to open for business in January.

(Thanks Animation Magazine)

Framelight Options Chi-Chian for Movie

Framelight has optioned the cult comic series Chi-Chian for an animated feature film.

Jeffrey Erb and Robert Robinson Jr. will produce the movie, according to The Hollywood Reporter.

Created by musician Aurelio Voltaire (better known as goth sensation Voltaire), Chi-Chian was originally published as comic series by Sirius Entertainment. It has since inspired a series of digital episodes for Syfy and, as well as a role-playing game.

Set in a dystopian future where New York has become a prefecture of Japan, Chi-Chian is about a normal young woman who has been tapped as a heroine and must fight samurais, robots and zombies to protect her loved ones.

(Thanks Animation Magazine)

Fox vies with pooches for cinematic top dog awards

The title character of "Fantastic Mr. Fox" -- voiced by George Clooney -- is vying with traditional canines for this year's Fido Film Awards.

Nominees announced Friday include the dog stars of animated films Bolt (voiced by John Travolta) and Up.

Also in the running is the title hound of the live-action Marley and Me.

The Fidos bill themselves as the world's first international awards for canine screen stars. Categories eligible for prizes include historical hound, rom-com rover and comedy canine.

The past year has seen "an unprecedented run of dog successes at the international box office," said awards organizer Toby Rose.

Winners will be chosen by a panel of British film critics. They will be announced at a London ceremony November 22.

NY Times Posts Q&A with John Ortved on "Simpsons Unauthorized History"

The New York Times has posted a Q&A session with John Ortved, author of The Simpsons: An Uncensored, Unauthorized History. Among other questions, Ortved discusses the unexpected benefit from the lack of involvement by James L. Brooks or Matt Groening; who is favorite interview subject was; his views on the decline in quality of the show; and his favorite Simpsons character.

Press Release For Upcoming "Justice League: The Complete Series" DVD Box Collection

Warner Home Video has provided to World's Finest the press release for the upcoming Justice League: The Complete Series DVD box set release.

The following press release has been issued for the upcoming Justice League: The Complete Series box set, hitting shelves November 10th, 2009.


All 91-Episodes From the Hit Animated TV Series Available in One DVD Collection

The Justice League comes together for the first time in one DVD collection as Warner Home Video and DC Comics release Justice League: The Complete Series on November 10, 2009 for $99.98 SRP. The giant 15-disc collector’s DVD set includes all 91 action-packed episodes from the popular Justice League animated series and is loaded with exciting bonus features making it the perfect gift for this holiday season.

From the smash hit TV series, these triumphant tales of seven heroes united to become the Justice League will enthrall and inspire fans with over 35 hours of crime-fighting action from Justice League Season One and Two as well as Justice League Unlimited Season One and Two. Our favorite DC Super Heroes Superman, Batman, Wonder Woman, The Flash, Green Lantern, Martian Manhunter, and Hawkgirl join forces to fight evil across the galaxy inflicted by villains such as Lex Luthor, Vandal Savage and sorceress Morgaine Le Fey. Acts of justice include saving Aquaman from a coup and clearing Green Lantern's name in a charge of genocide.

Justice League: The Complete Series also features incredible extra content including:

· Eight Creator Commentaries
· Eight Bonus Featurettes including:
o Inside Justice League - Creator’s Panel Discussion
o Storyboards: The Blueprint for Justice
o The Look of the League: Character Design
o Justice League - The First Mission Never-Before-Seen Promo
o Justice League Declassified - Phil Lamarr (The Voice of Green Lantern) Takes You Behind the Scenes with the Show’s Creative Team
o And Justice For All- The Process of Revamping the Series with New Characters and a New Creative Direction
o Cadmus: Exposed – Mark Hamill and Series Creative Personnel Discuss This Popular Series Story Arc
o Justice League Chronicles: Series Writers, Producers, and Directors Discuss Their Favorite Moments Among Final Season
· Two Music Extras:
o Themes of Justice – Choose Your Favorite JLU Musical Theme Audio Tracks
o Music-Only Audio Track for the Final Episode Destroyer.

“Warner Home Video is very excited to announce the release of Justice League: The Complete Series just in time for the holidays,” said Amit Desai, WHV Vice President of Family, Animation & Partner Brands Marketing. “The Justice League DVD box set is jam-packed with exciting episodes and hours of content which will be a wonderful addition to any fan’s collection and make a great holiday gift.”

Justice League, and especially Justice League Unlimited, offered us a very fun, creative format in terms of the stories we could tell and the characters we could feature,” said producer, Bruce Timm. “We did smaller, more intimate tales and epic, cast-anybody-from-DC stories, and thematically we went everywhere – from supernatural episodes to science fiction to straight-up heroic themes. It was our first series where we deliberately planned the character arc development from the start with long-term ideas, and were able to let the characters go where they would naturally – and sometimes they surprised us. And because we had this huge cast to choose from, all of the characters stayed fresh – because we had that much more room to experiment and expand. It kept the series from ever falling into a formula. I think this complete series package will be fun for fans to be able to see how the series rolled out from beginning to end, and get a true sense of the total scope of the show.”

The collector’s DVD set includes the following episodes:

Justice League - Season One

Disc 1

-Secret Origins, Part 1
-Secret Origins, Part 2
-Secret Origins, Part 3
-In Blackest Night, Part 1
-In Blackest Night, Part 2
-The Enemy Below, Part 1
-The Enemy Below, Part 2

Disc 2
-Injustice for All, Part 1
-Injustice for All, Part 2
-Paradise Lost, Part 1
-Paradise Lost, Part 2
-War World, Part 1
-War World, Part 2

Disc 3
-The Brave and The Bold, Part 1
-The Brave and The Bold, Part 2
-Fury, Part 1
-Fury, Part 2
-Legends, Part 1
-Legends, Part 2

Disc 4
-A Knight with Shadows, Part 1
-A Knight with Shadows, Part 2
-Metamorphosis, Part 1
-Metamorphosis, Part 2
-The Savage Time, Part 1
-The Savage Time, Part 2
-The Savage Time, Part 3

Justice League - Season Two

Disc 1
-Twilight, Part 1
-Twilight, Part 2
-Tabula Rasa, Part 1
-Tabula Rasa, Part 2
-Only A Dream, Part 1
-Only A Dream, Part 2

Disc 2
-Maid of Honor, Part 1
-Maid of Honor, Part 2
-Hearts and Minds, Part 1
-Hearts and Minds, Part 2
-A Better World, Part 1
-A Better World, Part 2

Disc 3
-Eclipsed, Part 1
-Eclipsed, Part 2
-The Terror Beyond, Part 1
-The Terror Beyond, Part 2
-Hereafter, Part 1
-Hereafter, Part 2

Disc 4
-Secret Society, Part 1
-Secret Society, Part 2
-Comfort and Joy
-Wild Card, Part 1
-Wild Card, Part 2
-Starcrossed, Part 1
-Starcrossed, Part 2
-Starcrossed, Part 3

Justice League Unlimited - Season One

Disc 1
-For the Man Who Has Everything
-Hawk and Dove
-Fearful Symmetry
-Kids’ Stuff
-This Little Piggy
-The Return

Disc 2
-The Greatest Story Never Told
-Dark Heart
-Wake the Dead
-The Once and Future Thing Part 1
-The Once and Future Thing Part 2

Disc 3
-The Cat and the Canary
-The Ties That Bind (aka Miracles Happen)
-The Doomsday Sanction
-Task Force X
-The Balance
-Double Date

Disc 4
-Hunter’s Moon (aka Mystery in Space)
-Question Authority
-Panic in the Sky
-Divided We Fall

Justice League Unlimited - Season Two

Disc 1
-I Am Legion
-Shadow of the Hawk
-Chaos at the Earth’s Core
-To Another Shore
-Flash and Substance
-Dead Reckoning
-Patriot Act

Disc 2
-The Great Brain Robbery
-Grudge Match
-Far From Home
-Ancient History

The Justice League: The Complete Series DVD Box Set will hit shelves November 10th, 2009. Click here for further details on the classic Justice League animated series. Stay tuned for further updates.

J. K. Speaks

Jeffrey Katzenberg on Hollywood changes:

I think a real seismic shift is occurring. Anytime you're in the center of these shifts, it's maybe not the wisest thing to try and be predictive of where it all is going. But in the pastplus or minus—and I'm referring to the last 30 or 40 years—every time a new platform has come along, the motion picture industry as a whole has usually done a fantastic job of transitioning to it and ultimately gaining revenue. And many different platforms have come along, whether it was free TV or pay TV or VHS or DVDs. Clearly, the next major transformation is going to be from hard goods to digital. There's a lot of uncertainty and caution as to how best to get there. Moving from analog to digital has been disastrous for the music industry. Hopefully our industry has learned from the music business ...

Say what you will about Mr. Katzenberg, he's headed up and run the viable half of DreamWorks for a decade and a half, the part that hasn't been swallowed up by a conglomerate.

And face it. He's performed a high wire act that is almost impossible in the modern age: he's run a successful stand alone animation studio. Which is extraordinary, when you think about it. When he left the Disney Company beneath a dark thunderhead named Michael Eisner, most believed his glory days were behind him. (Cheeky story artists had caricatures of him in a real estate salesman's blue blazer, selling houses to reluctant couples in the forceful Katzenberg style. ("This is the greatest house in the entire neighborhood! Honestly. This is the one you want! I wouldn't steer you wrong!")

Yet here he is, fifteen years later, CEO of DreamWorks Animation, while his ex-friend Michael Eisner runs Tornante.

(Thanks Animation Guild Blog)

Over at Synchrolux

Kevin discusses Secondary Action vs. Secondary Motion:

I recently saw an animation student’s summary of the Principles of Animation from The Illusion of Life. Here’s the one for secondary action:

"Secondary actions are almost like follow through and overlapping actions."

This is a common misconception that a lot of people make. But it’s incorrect. Take a look back at
The Illusion of Life. Follow Through and Overlapping Action are principle number 5, and Thomas and Johnston fittingly give five distinct types of follow through and overlapping action. It’s pretty detailed, with lots of written and drawn examples.

Secondary Action is principle number 8 ....

Click on over to and read the rest of it ....

(Thanks Animation Guild Blog)

Marvel Zombies

A little creative treat for Halloween: Ivan Guerrero has been taking crappy Marvel TV cartoons from the Sixties and re-editing them into Marvel Zombies, based on the limited-run comic series from a few years back. He told me that Arthur Suydam’s covers for that series inspired his approach to the animated tribute. See also his zombiefication of Thor and The Fantastic Four.

(Thanks cartoon brew)

Tee Vee Greenlights

Diz Channel gives the go ahead to a new animated series instead of a new live-action half-hour loaded down with 'tweens.

Disney Channel has greenlighted "Fish Hooks," its first animated series in three years.

The cable channel has ordered 21 episodes of the high school comedy, which mixes 2D digital animation and photo collage.

"Fish" revolves around party guy Milo (voiced by Kyle Massey); his neurotic brother, Oscar (Justin Roiland); and an overly dramatic goldfish, Bea (Chelsea Staub). They attend Freshwater High, a school submerged in a giant fish tank in the center of a local pet store. The series chronicles their daily lives ...

As we've mentioned before, a lot of the Chowder crew from Cartoon Network is now at work on the Disney project. (Since Disney TV Animation is a shadow of what it was in the Glory Days of the mid-90s, this is a good thing.)

And American Dad gets a pickup for one more circuit on the merry-go-round.

Fox has given a sixth-season order to "American Dad," keeping the animated skein on the air through at least the 2010-11 TV season.

Pickup also ensures that Seth MacFarlane's Sunday night
"animation domination" continues next year on Fox; network also recently ordered a full second season of "The Cleveland Show." MacFarlane's mother ship, "Family Guy," is also on the network pretty much in perpetuity.

T.V. animation isn't the roaring center for long-term jobs that it was ... oh ... fourteen years ago when Disney TVA and Warner Bros. Animation employed hundreds and hundreds of cartoon workers. Since those halcyon days, when broadcast syndication gave us "The Disney Afternoon" and blocks of Warner Bros. cartoons were on broadcast and cable t.v., the money has shrunk and studios have chosen to minimize deficit financing. Adding misery to depression, cartoon cable networks have embraced live action shows, even though a lot of those shows flame out quickly and few have any long-term shelf life. (Never under-estimate the power of Miley Cyrus.)

I've got no functioning crystal ball telling me where television animation will be two ... or four ... or ten years from now. But I'm grateful for any shows that get put into production, because it provides work for animation artists who have had a rough time securing long gigs in the last several years.

(Thanks Animation Guild Blog)

Turning to Cartoons

There might be more visual effects in movies than ever, but that doesn't mean there's any money in it.

In an ever-competitive vfx market, Buf is one of the rare companies in France to be regularly tapped by Hollywood studios to create high-end work for tentpoles, such as "The Matrix" trilogy, "Spider-Man" franchise and "The Dark Knight." ...

It's [Pierre] Buffin's quest for originality and independence that has set Buf apart and drawn the attention of his international clientele. Some of the tools he pioneered are camera mapping, stereo modeling and the
"bullet time" effect ... "He's the big signature of visual effects in France."

Buffin now is stepping up his activities in the toon arena. He created the animation on Luc Besson's blockbuster
"Arthur and the Minimoys" and its two sequels ... "It's essential for me at this stage to initiate projects and feed the pipeline," he says. "I can't sit on my chair and wait for projects to come my way." ...

What Pierre is saying here is that jobbing visual effects for big budget tent-poles doesn't cut it anymore, not if you want to stay in business. The only way a viz effx house, even one that's high profile and renowned, can survive in the market today is making its own animated product.

The problem is, creating content audiences want to see isn't as easy as it looks. Just ask Imagi or Sony Imageworks or any number of visual effects shops who've attempted to make the jump to "animation studio." If they're honest, they'll tell you that breaking into the charmed circle of Pixar, Blue Sky Animation and DreamWorks Animation is hard.

(Thanks Animation Guild Blog)

New Van Beuren DVDs

Animation historian and cartoon archeologist Steve Stanchfield is back with another double header of rare 1930s cartoons from the long-forgotten Fleischer-rival, Van Beuren Studios. His latest Thunderbean DVDs are The Complete Animated Adventures of Van Beuren’s Tom and Jerry and Aesop’s Fables Vol. 2 - and again, I recommend these highly to anyone - especially those who love 1930s-style rubber-hose animation.

The Tom & Jerry set (with gorgeous Milton Knight cover art) is particularly amazing. These hilarious cartoons are obscure to begin with, so a real treat is the fabulous film prints Stanchfield digs up and lovingly restores. Many of the cartoons look really great, especially A Swiss Trick (1931) from a 35mm nitrate sepia-tinted, spliceless print, with its original titles intact. This is as close as we’ll ever get to experiencing one of these cartoons the way audiences saw them in the early 30s. It really makes a difference.

Also on the T&J set, galleries of original trade ads, posters, home movie boxes, picture books, and four additional cartoons starring Tom & Jerry precursors, Waffles and Don. Stanchfield goes an extra five miles here, with the inclusion of a comparison reel of Tom & Jerry animation against a rare Egyptian knock-off by the Frenkel Brothers. Priceless stuff.

For more information on Thunderbean’s complete line of animation rarities, click here.

(Thanks cartoon brew)

Pepe Le Pew smelling up Tournament of Roses parade

Despite facing the same 7.5% cut as other state agencies, the New Mexico Department of Tourism is sponsoring a $200,000 Tournament of Roses parade featuring Warner Bros. loverboy skunk Pepe Le Pew.

Pepe is front and center in the float, which carries the theme Enchantment is in the Air. Also shown is the object of his perennial romantic pursuit, Penelope Pussycat.

To be seen on New Year's Day at the annual parade in Pasadena, California, it will also feature hot air balloons with the New Mexico Zia.

"Forty million people in the United States are seeing this float, and we don't know how many people around the world," said department advertising director Richard Eeds. "You add all that up, and the cost of doing that float is very cost-effective for the state of New Mexico."

The cost of the float contract (for construction and design) is $186,000. Of this, $25,000 in costs will be offset by private sponsors, while the State Parks Division will provide sponsorship to the tune of $5,000. The total state cost of the contract is $166,000, which doesn't include other costs "associated with the overall Southern California/parade promotion." Those are still being determined.

Pepe's appearance was announced Thursday at a department news conference, even as state cabinet secretaries struggled with tentative plans for service losses and employee furloughs.

Republican state legislator Larry Larrañaga, who represents Albuquerque, wonders if a float can bring tourists to New Mexico, even if 40 million people see it on TV.

"Tell that to 30,000 people who have lost their jobs over the last year and a half," Larrañaga told local CBS affiliate KRQE. "They'll tell you this should not be a priority. Maybe they'll give us a key to Hollywood, but I don't think that makes any difference in New Mexico."

Other legislators in Larrañaga's caucus agreed. During the state legislature's recent special session, Republicans placed the float on a hit list of 47 agencies, contracts or services that should be cut.

The 7.5% cut means that the Department of Tourism may have to reduce its $17 million budget by $1.2 million. However, Eeds said, cutting the float is absolutely not an option.

He said that New Mexico can't afford to lose the exposure that it received through its "Road Runner and Wile E. Coyote" float last year or the "Aliens" float from 2006.

The advertising director added that the float is a better buy than magazine ads. "If we don't advertise, our neighbors will take those tourists," Eeds said, adding that the expenditure on the float would buy two full-page color picture ads in a national magazine.

"The response the state has received from the Tourism Department's appearance in the 2006, 2008 and 2009 Tournament of Roses Parades and the media efforts we sponsored primarily targeting the southern California travel market have been tremendous," New Mexico tourism secretary Mike Cerletti declared in a statement.

Although a department news release listed mass-media coverage of past parades, it didn't show how many tourists saw the parade and later visited New Mexico.

Eeds said that he and other tourism officials attending the Tournament of Roses will spend less time in California this year.

Computer animation pioneer Alexander Schure dies

Funeral services will be held at 2:30 p.m. yesterday (Sunday, November 1) for New York Institute of Technology founder Alexander Schure, director of what has been described as the first computer-animated feature film.

Schure, 89, died Thursday at New Island Hospital in Bethpage, New York from complications of Alzheimer's disease. He was a Massapequa, New York resident.

In 1975, Schure directed the 81-minute Tubby The Tuba, working alongside Pixar co-founders Ed Catmull and Alvy Ray Smith, who worked at the NYIT lab.

Cyril Ritchard's last movie, this was a remake of the 1947 George Pal Puppetoon of the same name, which writer Paul Tripp also wrote.

The Tubby The Tuba feature -- one of the first breakthroughs in the field of computer graphics -- was an outgrowth of Schure's creation of NYIT's Computer Graphics Laboratory in 1974.

Schure also received screen credit in the 1984 anime feature film SF Shinseiki Lensman (also known as Lensman and Lensman: Secret of the Lens), for which NVIT provided special effects.

Born in Hamilton, Ontario, he moved with his family to New York when he was two years old. After graduating from high school, he went to work to support his family. He later received a bachelor's degree from the City College of New York, as well as a master's degree and two doctorates -- one in communications and the other in education -- from New York University.

Schure founded NYIT in New York City in 1955 and served as its president until 1982. He established today's NYIT campuses in Manhattan at Columbus Circle-Lincoln Center and in the 1960s, in Old Westbury, along Long Island's Gold Coast.

In 1977, Schure also helped launch NYIT's College of Osteopathic Medicine, the first osteopathic medical school in New York and the only medical school in Nassau County.

"Alex was a true pioneer and visionary educator, and his legacy continues to grow daily at NYIT," said NYIT president Edward Guiliano. "Fifty years ago, he showed the creation of human capital as the 21st-century answer to a strong and prosperous nation and people, and set about establishing a university that prepared students for careers of the future. This university and all of us have lost a great champion."

After stepping down as NYIT president in 1982, Schure served as the school's chancellor until 1991. Later, he served as chancellor of Nova University in Fort Lauderdale, Florida and, in 2001, became president of the New York College for Wholistic Health, Education, and Research in Syosset, New York.

A prolific author, Schure was an ardent supporter of technology in the classroom. In a 1992 issue of the journal Technological Horizons in Education, he wrote:

"Our nation needs educational technology symphonies. They should be so grand that they can provide beautiful harmonies between all people within our educational systems, through the range of instruments provided by ever more awesome educational technologies. They could and should harmonize, through their design, projections of a future that allows for stunning gains across the various ranges of educational services provided by our schools."

He was the recipient of 17 honorary doctoral degrees and numerous other awards, both academic and athletic.

Alexander Schure was predeceased by his first wife, Dorothy Rubin.

He is survived by his second wife, the former Gail Strollo; daughter Dr. Barbara Weinschel; sons Matthew (NYIT's second president) of Philadelphia, Jonathan of Port Washington, New York and Louis, of Albertson, New York; stepson John Impellizeri of Massapequa, New York; sister Esther Gilbert of Huntsville, Alabama; grandchildren Lawrence, Adam, Naomi, Jared, Deborah, Joshua, Juliana, Dianne, Daniel, Samantha, Michele, Johanna, and Allison, and great-grandchildren Zachary, Henry, Phoebe and Leah. He is also survived by sisters-in-law Bette Bronstein and Ellen Rubin, as well as numerous cousins, nieces, and nephews.

Services will be held at Gutterman's Memorial Chapel, 8000 Jericho Turnpike, Woodbury, New York; phone (516) 921-5757. Burial is to be private.

Contributions in his memory may be made to the Alzheimer's Association or American Cancer Society.

Meatball Stroganoff

Cloudy with Meatballs has apparently struck a responsive chord in Mother Russia.

"Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs" grossed $3.68 million in its first weekend in Russia, the highest-ever opening for Sony Pictures in Russia ... [T]he Sony toon’s 438-print release reps an $8,401 per-screen average ...

Give the comrades a meal/picture they can enjoy, and they will come.

(Thanks Animation Guild Blog)

Paramount Releases "G.I. Joe: Resolute" Storyboard Images

In advance of its release on DVD on November 3, 2009, Paramount Home Entertainment has released several storyboards from G.I. Joe: Resolute, the latest animated incarnation of the Real American Heroes battling against the ruthless forces of Cobra. Click on any of the screenshots below to view full size:




The trailer for G.I. Joe: Resolute is embedded below:

Lord of the Rings' dwarf warrior says no to Hobbit

There's a lot of speculation about who will/won't be in the proposed Lord of the Rings prequel, The Hobbit. Will Ian McKellen be back? Who will play Bilbo? Does Andy Serkis get to reprise the role of Gollum?

Well, one thing's been made sure, beyond a shadow of a doubt: John Rhys-Davies will not come back in dwarf form.

Rhys-Davies, who played Gimli the dwarf in the Rings trilogy, was asked if he could return as another dwarf (perhaps Gloin, Gimli's father?). He told Empire:

"I've already been asked and to be honest with you, I wouldn't. I have already completely ruled it out. There's a sentimental part of me that would love to be involved again. Really I am not sure my face can take that sort of punishment any more."

Rhys-Davies is referencing the severe allergic reaction he had to the prosthetic makeup he wore for Rings. It got so bad that he could only work one day out of every three.

When asked if he could come back for a few smaller parts, he added, "Why would you want to do it if it was just a couple of shots? When you've been 1 of 1, why would you want to be 1 of 13?"

It looks as if he's hung up his battle-axe for good, never to don the beard again. But what about another race?

"It was just a gentle 'What would you feel about putting it on again?' But no. I'd be interested in trying to create a different type of persona within ... the thing. That is challenging as an actor. I'd really prefer to play something quite different. Maybe an Elf. They've got a different set of problems with The Hobbit, because you've got 13 dwarves, a whole band of them. ... You're trying to represent a whole race. ... You're trying to do for dwarves what The Lord of the Rings did for hobbits."

The Hobbit will be covered in two films. The first will hit theaters in December 2011, followed by the second a year later.

What Ridley Scott's Alien prequel will be and won't be

Alien director Ridley Scott has talked more about the proposed prequel movie he'll be directing, and it's not what you expect.

No, it won't deal with the backstory to that giant alien ship on LV-426 that the crew of the Nostromo discovers in Scott's 1979 original movie. Rather, it'll be something new, Scott told Empire magazine:

"It's a brand new box of tricks," said Sir Ridley. "We know what the road map is, and the screenplay is now being put on paper. The prequel will be a while ago. It's very difficult to put a year on Alien, but [for example] if Alien was towards the end of this century, then the prequel story will take place thirty years prior."

The script, by Jon Spaihts, will center on humans in some way. Not really clear how it'll fit into the series' mythology, but we're sure it'll be something.

"I never thought I'd look forward to a sequel," said Sir Ridley. "But a prequel is kind of interesting. I'm looking forward to doing that."

Why Battlestar kicks Star Wars' ass!

There are diehard Star Wars fans, hard-core Battlestar Galactica fans, and then there's the Houston Press, which has come up five reasons why Battlestar Galactica kicks Star Wars' ass.

In reverse David Letterman top-5 format, the reasons are:

5) Nuclear fission exists in the BSG universe

4) The Colonists had a better democracy

3) BSG's women aren't just pretty princesses

2) There is no Battlestar Galactica Holiday Special (see below. ack!)

... and the No. 1 reason:

1) Cylons Occasionally Hit What They're Aiming At

And they're robots. Not only were the colonial refugees in actual danger of dying every time they were attacked, the Cylons' armor actually -- you know -- deflected gunfire. Imperial stormtroopers couldn't hit water if they fell out of a boat, and their armor failed to even prevent diminutive teddy bear creatures from beating them to death with sticks in Return of the Jedi.

Who do you side with? The Rebels or the Colonists?

The real V you never saw: No aliens and no spaceships

The two iconic images everyone has from theBold 1980s version of V are the massive spaceships hovering over Earth's major cities and the seemingly human aliens who turn out to be reptiles. Those also happen to be two things that were never supposed to be in the original miniseries.

Instead the early version of V featured a fascist takeover over of the U.S. with no aliens in sight. "What it was really about was power and people in power," V's creator Kenneth Johnson told Variety.

When then NBC head Brandon Tartikoff read the first draft of the alien-less script, he didn't think people would get the concept, so Johnson introduced the idea of visitors from another world. Although they didn't have the money or the tools to turn V into the massive sci-fi epic that the new script called for, that didn't seem to matter to the audience.

"It's funny, when you go back and look at my original V miniseries, there are a lot fewer special effects than people remember," Johnson said.

Martin Campbell Talks Green Lantern Effects

Green Lantern director Martin Campbell (Casino Royale, GoldenEye) told Empire magazine (via Coventry Telegraph) they've got their work cut out in bringing the comic book to life.

"It's daunting," he said. "Just the process, something like 1,300 visual effects shots, it's mind-blowing, quite honestly."

Campbell said that a lot of the effects shots work will concentrate on the Green Lantern's power ring. "It's energized by a battery on the planet of Oa, which taps into the willpower of everyone in the universe. From that ring you can form constructs. So if you got into a fight, you could form a giant fist. Or a fighter plane."

Ryan Reynolds will play the title role in the action-adventure, which Warner Bros. Pictures will release on June 17, 2011.

6 reasons fans of the old V should watch the new one

If you're anywhere near adult age, you remember Kenneth Johnson's 1983 sci-fi miniseries V, and it's likely the things you remember most about it are: The aliens were lizards, they ate guinea pigs and someone had a half-alien baby.

You may also recall the arrival of giant spaceships over the major cities of the world, a suspenseful scene that was subsequently ripped off wholesale by Independence Day.

Well, if you loved that stuff, the cast of ABC's newly rebooted V say you won't be disappointed by the new version, which debuts tomorrow night at 8 p.m. ET/PT. (In fact, one character sarcastically refers to the ID4 theft in an aside.)

No one's saying at this point whether we will see lizard faces, guinea-pig snacks or alien newborns. But the cast members—Elizabeth Mitchell, Joel Gretsch, Morena Baccarin and Scott Wolf—offered up reasons that fans of the original will love the new version.

"Well, nobody's given birth to alien babies," Baccarin, who plays Anna, said in an exclusive interview on V's set in Vancouver, Canada, last week. "You know, let's hope we run for four seasons, and we can do all of those things. I think that, again, they don't want to ignore all those things because those are special and interesting things that you can play with given this premise, but I don't really know what the plans are for those things yet."

Mitchell plays FBI Counter Terrorist Agent Erica Evans, who discovers a secret hidden beneath the skin of every alien "Visitor," or "V." Gretsch is Father Jack, a priest questioning his faith in the wake of the Visitors' arrival. Wolf is Chad Decker, a career-hungry news anchor, his exclusive interview with Anna (Baccarin), the leader of the Vs. V will premiere Tuesday and air four episodes before taking a hiatus; it returns in March 2010.

Reasons fans of the original should watch the new version (click on the images for larger versions):

Giant freaking spaceships

"We watched it, and I actually had a room full of people cheering at how cool the effects were," Mitchell said. "The effects were great. And as a science fiction reader, as a fan, as someone who loves that stuff, to have it be better than my imagination was fantastic."

State of the art visual effects

ZOIC Studios (Firefly, Battlestar Galactica, Fringe, Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles) is doing the VFX.

"It is V 2.0," Wolf said. "It is V 2.9. ... Their ability to execute this story because of what they're capable of in terms of visual effects is just light years from what it was at that time."

Smokin' hot evil lizard queen

"You said the L-word," Baccarin teased us while dressed in her form-fitting gray Anna suit. See, she's not bad; she's just drawn that way.

"Her face makes me happy," Mitchell says. "It looks like something out of a cartoon. You can't believe how architecturally perfect it is. So, I mean, you know, you have to have a babe, right? And you have to have a babe who could be one way or the other, and it seems to me that that's her."

Social commentary

Or as much of it as you can have in a show about giant freaking spaceships and evil alien lizard queens.

The original series was in part a thinly veiled allegory of the rise of Naziism in pre-World War II Germany. This one deals with societal paranoia in a post-9/11 era of terrorism. Whom do you trust? What is the cost of blind faith?

"I think it kind of goes into the rudimentary [elements] of us as people," Gretsch (The 4400) says. "Like, there's essential things you need in your life, and trust is one of them. And fear and danger and what are other people's motives? Terror is in the world, and what are people trying to do for their own personal gain? To hurt you? And I think that is kind of very prevalent in the world, and I think that's great about storytelling is you can actually mirror what's occurring. I think that's what we're doing."

A similar story

The old V dealt with an underground resistance of ordinary people against what appeared to be an invincible, technologically advanced superpower. This one, same thing.

"The bones of it are the same," Wolf said. "You know, the intrigue of it, the questions it's asking, the exhilaration of the mystery, and the possibility of the whole thing are exactly the same. "

Smokin' hot ass-kicking female protagonist

Mitchell's FBI Agent Erica Evans is the principal good-guy ass-kicker in this incarnation of the show, a la Faye Grant's Juliet Parish in the original. (Interesting coincidence: Mitchell plays a character named Juliet on ABC's sister series Lost.)

"Elizabeth's in it," Gretsch says. "I mean, come on, she's pretty fantastic."

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