Tuesday, January 19, 2010

News - 01/19/10...

Up wins Golden Globe



“Animation is not just for kids. It is also for adults who take drugs.”

And there you go. That’s how Hollywood perceives us. Paul McCartney delivered that line - and referenced Rock Band and the forthcoming Zemeckis travesty of Yellow Submarine - in his introduction to the Best Animated Feature presentation at tonight’s Golden Globes. As one of the “adults” who loves animation, I want to congratulate our friend Pete Docter and the whole team at Pixar for winning the animation prize for Up.

(Thanks cartoon brew)





Brad Pitt and Matt Damon join Happy Feet 2

Ocean’s Thirteen stars Matt Damon and Brad Pitt have joined the voice cast of Happy Feet 2, according to Movie Line. It is unknown what kind of characters that Pitt and Damon will be voicing, but they will be joining returning original Happy Feet actors Elijah Wood and Robin Williams. Happy Feet 2 is currently set to dance into theaters on November 28th, 2011.





Martha Sigall on Hanna-Barbera (Part 1)

Martha Sigall is back with another video. This time she talks about Hanna-Barbera:



(Thanks cartoon brew)





Top Worldwide Toonage -- 2009

Variety has published its list of top movie grossers for 2009. Therefore, we run a compendium of last year's top animated titles for your reading pleasure:

#3 Ice Age: Dawn of the Dinosaurs -- $888 million.
#6 Up -- $710 million.
#12 Monsters Vs. Aliens -- $381 million.
#18 Disney's A Christmas Carol -- $311 million.
#25 Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs -- $205 million.
#41 Coraline -- $124 million.
#44 The Princess and the Frog -- $116 million.
#62 Planet 51 -- $89 million.

And then there were the Animation Hybrids:

#2 Avatar -- $899 million.
#4 Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen -- $835 million.
#20 G-Force -- $284 million.
#22 Alvin and the Chipmunks: The Squeakquel -- $229 million.

Beyond the above (a few of which are still in release), you could also consider most (or all?) of the major, effects laden live-action pictures as being partially animated, but then you would encompass most of last year's bigger releases.

(Thanks Animation Guild Blog)





The Comic Art Professional Society

For nearly 20 years the Comic Art Professional Society (CAPS) held their meetings upstairs at the Burbank Board of Realtors Hall on Magnolia Blvd. in Burbank. Last Thursday night they moved their monthly get-togethers to the meeting hall upstairs at The Animation Guild in Burbank ...

Why? Well, a lot of CAPS members are also members of the Animation Guild, it's a much better location with several good restaurants nearby, there's an elevator for handicapped access, there's ample parking, there are windows, good lighting, and a good sound system on its way. New tables should arrive soon. And it's getting to be a great meeting place for industry professionals.

Thursday night's meeting began with the usual introduction of guests, the welcoming of new members, followed by news and announcements from members. I sat at the door gathering membership renewal dues and greeting guests, including Guild President Kevin Koch, Vice President Earl Kress (who applied for membership based on years of writing comic book stories) and Guild Executive Board member Steve Zupkas, all of whom came to see that no one spilled drinks on the new carpet. About 50 members and guests were in attendance.

The program for the evening featured a new documentary on Mort Drucker, humor illustrator for MAD Magazine whose career includes advertising art, movie posters, comic books, comic strips, magazine covers and album covers. According to Stephen Silver, Producer/Director of the documentary, this is the first and only time Drucker has ever been filmed at work in his studio. Two lengthy clips in the video show Drucker creating a piece of finished art from beginning to end, from pencil to ink to color.



As Stephen writes on his blog:

Mort Drucker, world famous caricaturist and humorous illustrator best known for his work in MAD magazine has made an exclusive, never before seen tutorial film about his process and life experiences. Presented and interviewed by Stephen Silver. To watch the 2 hour and 15 minute film go to www.schoolism.com and click on "The Masters Series" banner located on the bottom. The film will debut starting January 2oth 2010.

The Mort Drucker video is one in the Master Series produced by Silver. Other videos focus on John Reiner (The Lockhorns) and Stan Goldberg (Archie comics.) There are more videos coming soon but we can't talk about them yet. Each video takes you inside the artist's studio, we learn about them and their work process, and we actually watch them draw and create images on camera.

How many great cartoonists were never filmed or recorded over the years? We'll never even know what they sounded like, much less what they had to say and how they did their work. Silver hopes to change all that by producing documentaries on many contemporary masters while he can.

It was a privilege to see this amazing video on Mort Drucker. Thanks to Stephen Silver for sharing it with CAPS.

And thanks to The Animation Guild for the cool new hangout.

- Bob Foster.

(Thanks Animation Guild Blog)





Stop Motion Spot for Tatsunoko Vs Capcom

This stop-motion spot for Tatsunoko Vs Capcom: Ultimate All-Stars reminds me of Patrick Boivin’s work, but he just released a new viral short today, so I suspect this wasn’t his work. TvC is a new video game due out on January 26th for the Wii. The agency on the job was Ammirati. I’m still digging around trying to figure out who animated the stop-motion.







Rodents and Chickens Invade MoreFrames Promos

Spotted some stylish 2D promo bumpers for MoreFrames, an animation team in Pennsylvania.

Powered by Rodents



Built by Chickens







Stop Motion Ninjas Tackle Nexus One Unboxing

I am currently investigating how to wiggle out of my AT&T mobile contract so I can get me one of them new Nexus One phones. Canadian stop-motion wizard Patrick Boivin is apparently way ahead of me, and he’s even constructed the most amusing gadget unboxing in recent memory. It’s titled Ninja’s Unboxing.







Weston Woods animated video earns Carnegie Medal

Paul R. Gagne and Mo Willems of Weston Woods, producers of the animated Don't Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus!, are this year's recipients of the Andrew Carnegie Medal for excellence in children's video.

The award was announced Monday by the Association for Library Service to Children, a division of the American Library Association, during the ALA Midwinter Meeting held in Boston.

In the video, Pigeon tries to cajole his way into achieving his long-held dream of driving a bus.

Pigeon wants desperately to be behind the wheel of a bus, but when a bus driver leaves one unattended, he asks the children to make sure that the pigeon doesn't drive the bus. The pint-size watch guards chorus emphatic nos when Pigeon begs for his big chance. Thwarted at every turn, Pigeon decides that a bus is not the only vehicle he sees himself operating.

"Narrated by Mo Willems with the help of Jon Scieszka, this video will tickle the tail feathers of anyone who watches it," the ALA said. "This energetic and wacky production takes a book that screams for interaction and provides that with the voices of children answering the pigeon's plaintive cries for driving the bus. An inspired book takes flight in this DVD and adds touches that make the whole enterprise a roaring success."

"Pigeon may not get to drive the bus, but we laugh so hard at his antics, we just can't feel too sorry for him!", said Carnegie Medal Committee chair Joan Kindig.

Established with the support of the Carnegie Corporation of New York, the Carnegie Medal honors an outstanding American video production for children released during the previous year. The award is administered by the ALSC.





Stanton Starts Shooting John Carter for Disney

Disney’s feature film adaptation John Carter of Mars, based on the Edgar Rice Burroughs books and marking the live-action directing debut of Finding Nemo and WALL•E helmer Andrew Stanton, has begun principal photography in London.

The film features a lot of crossover from animation into live action. Among the crew are producers Jim Morris (WALL•E, Ratatouille) and Colin Wilson (Avatar, War of the Worlds). Pixar alumnus Stanton also has worked as a screenwriter or executive producer on Toy Story, Toy Story 2, A Bug’s Life, Monsters, Inc., Ratatouille and Up.

"I have been waiting my whole life to see the characters and worlds of John Carter of Mars realized on the big screen,” says Stanton. “It is just a wonderful bonus that I have anything to do with it."

The cast is led by Taylor Kitsch (Friday Night Lights, X-Men Origins: Wolverine) in the title role, Lynn Collins (50 First Dates, X-Men Origins: Wolverine) as the warrior princess Dejah Thoris and Oscar nominee Willem Dafoe (Spider-Man 3, Shadow of a Vampire) as Martian inhabitant Tars Tarkas.

The cast also includes Thomas Haden Church, Polly Walker, Samantha Morton, Mark Strong, Ciaran Hinds, British actor Dominic West, James Purefoy and Bryan Cranston. Daryl Sabara takes the role of John Carter’s teenaged nephew, Edgar Rice Burroughs.

The creative team includes Oscar-nominated production designer Nathan Crowley (Public Enemies, The Dark Knight, Batman Begins), costume designer Mayes Rubeo (Avatar, Apocalypto), cinematographer Daniel Mindel (Star Trek, Mission Impossible III, Spygame) and video effects supervisor Peter Chiang (The Reader, The Bourne Ultimatum).

(Thanks Animation Magazine)





Special Agent Productions and Ghostbot Service Esurance

In the wake of the W!LDBRAIN office closing, Phil Robinson and his new company Special Agent Productions have gotten off to a strong start up in San Francisco. Along with co-founder Amy Capen, Robinson has been hard at work on the Flash-animated Esurance campaign, which has been all over the ol’ telly these days. Here’s the most recent spot, titled Hidden Camera, which was produced in conjunction with Ghostbot.







Rall Pulls the Plug on ObamaCare

Ted Rall is on the pulse of the health care mess that we’ve cooked up here in the US. His latest Flash-animated short, titled ObamaCare Made E-Z, takes on the issue of fines for the uninsured with a rather bloody commentary. Animated with Toon Boom by David Essman.







Partridge Animates Blue Avatar Parody

So according to the box office reports, we’ve all seen Avatar by now… twice. Harry Partridge surely has, and he then created his own take on relationship between Sully and Neytiri. This short, titled Hot Na’vi Sex is most definitely, and without reservation NSFW.







Why Green Lantern won't be a cheesefest; plus, the villain!










Director Martin Campbell (Casino Royale) talked with us for the first time about his upcoming Green Lantern movie, a live-action adaptation of the DC Comics series, starring Ryan Reynolds and Blake Lively. Even with a mythology set on other planets and dealing with extraterrestrial forces, Campbell promises to keep the film believable.

Campbell also confirmed that the film would tell the origin story of Hal Jordan and the intended casting of Peter Sarsgaard as the film's villain. "I think he's contracted," Campbell said. "I'm not sure if negotiations have been complete, but he's absolutely who we want."

The director also hinted that he might have plans for an entire trilogy of Green Lantern films. "Oh, sure," he said. "Well, it's like Sam Raimi on Spider-Man, isn't it?"

The movie centers on Hal Jordan, a test pilot who becomes a guardian of Earth by wielding a ring that can create material manifestations of the wielder's choosing. That might seem as fanciful as you can get, but Campbell explained how he feels reality can exist within superhero stories.

"I think the thing to do is keep a sense of reality about it," Campbell said in an exclusive interview Saturday in Santa Monica, Calif., where he was promoting the thriller Edge of Darkness. "Any time we talk about it, we sit in meetings, we have a cheese meter. We talk about de-cheesing any scene. So it's quite funny. We've all sort of got a sort of cheese meter where that becomes our sort of yardstick in terms of keeping it, giving it some sense of reality."

Campbell added: "So often in these superhero movies, nobody seems to get hurt. I remember seeing Wolverine, and he picks people up and hurls them 100 yards into a brick wall. These people, apparently unhurt, sort of get up and continue to fight just as strongly as they did before. Well, there's something absurd about that, in my opinion."

Portraying the green manifestations of the ring would be a new step for visual effects, but it's all based on character. "Well, of course it's willpower drives the rings and forms the constructs via the ring," Campbell said. "I think he's the only superhero that does that."

Campbell was attached to a remake of Alfred Hitchcock's The Birds for the Platinum Dunes production company but said that he had to leave that project to do Green Lantern. "I passed on that to do Green Lantern," Campbell said. "It's still with Universal."

Green Lantern is due out in 2011.





Mel Gibson talks Mad Max IV: Will he appear?












Mel Gibson in the first Mad Max movie

Mel Gibson, the original Mad Max, will appear in the long-awaited fourth installment in the post-apocalyptic movie series.

Or he won't.

Actually, he's leaving the door open to make a cameo in the series that first brought the American-born, Australian-raised actor to the attention of the world.

Creator/director George Miller has recently started the new Mad Max follow-up, to star Charlize Theron and Tom Hardy. Will the original Max Rockatansky appear in the new Miller film?

"Oh yeah, I've talked to George," Gibson said in a press conference over the weekend in Santa Monica, Calif. "Yeah, we've had a good chin wag about it. We talk all the time anyway, George and I, so I'm abreast of that."

While Gibson doesn't exactly say that he'll come back, he doesn't say he won't. In fact, he emphasizes his enthusiasm for Miller's new idea, rather than a previous proposed fourth Mad Max that would have centered on the original Max.

"I know he's been trying to do this for years, the fourth installment," Gibson continued. "At one point, I was involved, and it felt a bit [wrong], and then this and that, so now it's probably gone through a lot of changes. I can't wait to see it, because everything he does I think is magic, I think is a touch of genius, more than a touch of genius about George. Probably most of any good trick I've ever learned, I've learned off that guy and Peter Weir."

Gibson still has more than half a year to decide on a cameo or not: Variety reports Mad Max IV is slated to begin shooting in Australia in August.





Kenneth Branagh Offers 'Thor' Update: One Week Into Filming And 'So Far, So Good'

With all this talk about the "Spider-Man" reboot and "Green Lantern" casting, it's easy to forget that another big comic book movie, Kenneth Branagh's "Thor," just kicked off production.

We caught up with Branagh at the Golden Globe Awards red carpet to get an update on how the live-action adventures of Marvel's god of thunder are going thus far.



"We just started last week and so far, so good," Branagh told MTV News.

"We have many miles to go and promises to keep, but so far, so good," he added.

With the lead role going to little-known actor Chris Hemsworth, fans are understandably curious about how the son of Odin will look when we finally get our first glimpse of the title character in costume. Branagh was quick to heap praise on the unknown commodity he has in Hemsworth, as well as the rest of the cast and crew.

"Everybody's doing very good work and just a lot of it is so promising," he said. "Fingers crossed for everybody and everything. [Hemsworth] is a great guy."





New Final Poster For Kick-Ass

From Latino Review the final one-sheet for Kick-Ass has debuted, depicting all of the characters covering up the Kick-Ass name so parents are tricked by their kids into thinking the name of the film is called Kicking Grass and that the studio screwed up on the poster and ran out of room for the title.

A twisted, funny, high-octane adventure, director Matthew Vaughn brings KICK-ASS to the big screen.

KICK-ASS tells the story of average teenager Dave Lizewski (Aaron Johnson), a comic-book fanboy who decides to take his obsession as inspiration to become a real-life superhero. As any good superhero would, he chooses a new name -- Kick-Ass -- assembles a suit and mask to wear, and gets to work fighting crime. There's only one problem standing in his way: Kick-Ass has absolutely no superpowers.

His life is forever changed as he inspires a subculture of copy cats, is hunted by assorted violent and unpleasant characters, and meets up with a pair of crazed vigilantes, including an 11-year-old sword-wielding dynamo, Hit Girl (Chloe Moretz) and her father, Big Daddy (Nicolas Cage).

Johnson plays title character, while Fonseca plays the object of the teen's infatuation who believes Dave is gay. Cage is a former cop who wants to bring down a druglord and has trained his daughter (Chloe Moretz) to be a lethal weapon.