Tuesday, March 9, 2010

News - 03/09/10...

Oscar Winner Pete Docter Offers Animation Advice

Surprising almost noone, Up took home the Oscar for Best Animated Feature Film last night. In this clip below, director Pete Docter offers advice on how to get your own Oscar – “draw, draw, draw.” He also touches on the collaborative nature of his fellow Pixar directors like John Lasseter and Brad Bird. Big congrats to the whole team at Pixar, and to François Alaux, Hervé de Crécy and Ludovic Houplain, the three directors of Logorama, which won the Best Animated Short prize.

Oscar Acceptance Speech

(Thanks, Matthew Gaastra)

(Thanks cartoon brew)

LAT: Disney Restyles Rapunzel to Appeal to Boys

The Los Angeles Times is reporting that the title Tangled isn’t the only thing being changed about Disney’s production of Rapunzel - it’s repositioning the film to attract a male audience.

From the article:

The makeover of “Rapunzel” is more than cosmetic. Disney can ill afford a moniker that alienates half the potential audience, young boys, who are needed to make an expensive family film a success. Concluding it had too many animated girl flicks in its lineup, Disney has shelved its long-gestating project “The Snow Queen,” based on the Hans Christian Andersen story. “Snow Queen” would have marked the company’s fourth animated film with a female protagonist, following “The Princess and the Frog,” “Tangled” and Pixar’s forthcoming “The Bear and the Bow,” directed by Pixar’s first female director, Brenda Chapman, and starring Reese Witherspoon.

Since the release of its first movie, “Toy Story,” in 1995, Pixar has uniformly featured male leads in its films, including Buzz and Woody; Mr. Incredible, the middle-aged superhero in “The Incredibles”; and Lightning McQueen, the stock-car star of “Cars.”

Disney’s Tangled open on December 10th, 2010.

Below is the latest teaser:

(Thanks cartoon brew)

Christopher Drake To Compose “Batman: Under The Red Hood” Feature, More Details

The World’s Finest has confirmed the composer providing the score to the upcoming Batman: Under the Red Hood direct-to-video animated feature.

Composer Christopher Drake has confirmed to The World’s Finest that he will be providing the score to the upcoming direct-to-video DC Universe Animated Original Movie title Batman: Under The Red Hood. Drake’s previous works in the popular direct-to-video animated feature line include scoring Wonder Woman and Superman/Batman: Public Enemies, as well as providing music to Batman: Gotham Knight and the recent Justice League: Crisis on Two Earths.

Stay tuned for a full length interview with composer Christopher Drake here soon at The World’s Finest.

In further Batman: Under the Red Hood news, the official website for the upcoming direct-to-video animated feature was recently unveiled. While the site is currently bare, click here to view an image of the website, a tentative release date and synopsis for the upcoming Batman: Under the Red Hood animated feature can be found in the source code to the site. The extracted information is available below.

On DVD, Blu-ray hi-def and On Demand

Batman faces his ultimate challenge as the mysterious Red Hood takes Gotham City by firestorm. One part vigilante, one part criminal kingpin, Red Hood begins cleaning up Gotham with the efficiency of Batman, but without following the same ethical code. Killing is an option. And when the Joker falls in the balance between the two, hard truths are revealed and old wounds are reopened.

Representatives for Warner Home Video cannot currently confirm the accuracy of the above details. An official announcement, along with package art, is expected to be released in the coming weeks.

Hiccup Learns How to Train His Dragon

A new clip has emerged from DreamWorks Animation’s upcoming CG feature How to Train Your Dragon. In the 1-minute sequence, we see the star of the film Hiccup, who is voiced by Jay Baruchel, attempting to tame his dragon. The film hits theaters later this month on March 26th.

Animation Workshop Student Mills The Lumberjack

The LumberJack is yet another fine graduation from The Animation Workshop, an art school in Denmark. The story is an examination of the effects of technology on work, nature and the way we live. The 4:30 minute traditionally-animated film was directed and designed by Laura Büchert Schjødt, who animated along with Per Klausen, Sarah-Mia T. Nielsen, Louise Bergholt Sørensen and Frederik Villumsen.

Logorama: The French Short That Rewrote the Rules

Of all the five shorts nominated in the Best Animated Shorts category, the 17-minute-long Logorama is perhaps the most enigmatic. A fascinating homage to American crime movies with a subtle commentary on corporate consumerism and capitalist society, the short won the prestigious Kodak Prize at the 2009 Cannes Film Festival. Directed by H5, Francois Alaux, Herve de Crecy and Ludovic Houplain, the brilliantly conceived short is set in a Los Angeles-like city and centers on two Michelin Man cops fighting an evil Ronald McDonald clown against a landscape of familiar corporate logos and mascots. We recently had the opportunity to chat with the short’s producer Nicolas Schmerkin and directors Alaux and de Crecy to find out more about the making of this creative short:

Animag: Tell us about how you got involved with the project?

Francois Alaux and Herve de Crecy:
The project took various forms before we wrote the particular story of Logorama. We almost made a tribute music video for George Harrison with this idea (around 2002), before our producers asked us to create fake logotypes instead of existing ones... that was impossible to us, so we put the project on hold.

Logorama Directors, from Left: Hervé de Crécy, Ludovic Houplain, François Alaux

Did you start with the idea of playing with logos and then developed a script based on that?

Francois & Herve:
Absolutely. First we had the principle of building a world with logotypes of existing brands. We wanted to use strong symbols and icons and make them say something different from what they were initially meant to (a logo is there to communicate the identity of one particular brand, in the final purpose to sell the products of this brand). And we had to make it work in a story. We wanted the story to be captivating, we wanted everything but a piece of motion design to be seen only on graphic design websites. We wanted a multi-layered story, something a child can see without being bored. And the story had to be as iconic as a logotype—simple, efficient and punchy—just like Hollywood!


How long did it take you to produce the animation?

Francois & Herve:
It's hard to compare Logorama to any other film in terms of production. It's a very atypical process, because the film is an economic non-sense. As the entire film is built with existing designs (logotypes) which copyrights we don't own, we can't make money with it. It's a parody, a satire. With the producer of the film Nicolas Schmerkin (Autour de Minuit) and the Studio H5, we could get some companies and public funds to finance it or to participate in it (notably the CNC - Centre National de la Cinématographie, Addictfilms, Canal +, Little Minx, and Mikros Image for the animation)."

Logorama was really an after-hours' task for everyone. We couldn't afford to only work on this project, because we needed to earn a living! So we were working at the same time on commercials and music videos. Which allowed us also re-inject some money in the film!

It seems that the animation was rotoscopy-based plus some additional animation tools? What did you use?

Francois & Herve:
You’re right, it was rotoscopy-based. This means the animators used live action footage—some that we shot, and some existing, coming from various features—as a reference for the animation. They weren't locked up in these references, but it was a good starting point for them, and helped them save a lot of time.

How did you come up with the storyline?

Francois & Herve:
The story came first. We knew we would use existing logotypes, but first we needed to have a strong framework. We wanted to embody the characters, and to enrich the story. The story had to take place in the US, and more particularly in L.A. The perfect grid of the city (represented by the Burberry's pattern logo) and the permanent earthquake threat were matching with the concept we had in mind from the beginning: the conflict between order and disorder; a perfectly organized world that destroys itself.

Once we had the story, as for every film, we needed the right cast. On the first storyboards, the villain was wearing a moustache. The idea of using a clown came quite naturally, as a tribute to many films, and of course, Batman. Some characters took more time to find, especially the female character (Miss Esso). The world of the logotype is quite patriarchal... the Michelin men were perfect to represent a category (the cops). Not only because they’re overweight in real life, but also because we could use them as a standard character, as if their design became their uniform. (We heard recently that Michelin equips most of the U.S. army vehicles as well.)


What was the biggest challenge for you as the directors of the piece?

Francois & Herve:
There were many challenges - like for example the screenplay and recording the voices, all new things for us. But the biggest challenge was to find the image. Being able to mix together so many various graphic sources, with so many different renderings, into an image that remains immediately understandable, that was difficult. And it took us almost one year of tests.

What were some of your inspirations for the short?

Francois & Herve:
Again, we had a lot of inspirations. Just to name a few I would say: in arts, from Pop Art to Ed Ruscha; in cinema, the brilliant action films of McTiernan (Die Hard), Tony (The Last Boy Scout) & Ridley Scott (Black Hawk Down), Richard Donner (Lethal Weapon); in music, Bernard Hermann and Jerry Goldsmith. Of course, the film is also a tribute to all the creators of the brilliant logotypes that we use: We especially love Michelin, and not only because he's French!

Why do you think audiences all over the world have responded to the short?

Francois & Herve:
I guess because we played with logotypes that are part of our visual environment since we were born. We took these logos as a universal cultural inheritance. The film is a way to regain this common patrimony. Also I think Logorama says something that people feel without being able to express it. Which is, to me, the fact that in societies that thought they had freed themselves from the power of religions or dictatorships, people don't realize they're facing another reality behind the smiling icons they see everyday. This is not a critique of the world, it's just a statement. But for sure, one of the ideas was to show that communication is a powerful tool. You can make oil and have a green and yellow flower logo. When you see the logo, you feel good, you feel like you're in a flowers field in summertime.

That's no more and no less the kind of magic trick that we used in Logorama, but this time, we weren’t telling a happy story.

Also I think the audience felt we took a certain pleasure fighting against the self-censorship about brands, which became almost a way of thinking. Self-censorship is also a condition for working in certain domains like advertising. How can you criticize the one who feeds you?

I think that's what amused the audience.

What kind of advice would you give newcomers who want to work in animation, especially in the short-form format?

Francois & Herve:
The production of Logorama was such a gigantic mess I don't feel the authority to give anybody any advice! On a serious note, I would say work hard, know what you want and stick to it, be patient, and enjoy!


How much was the final price tag for the short and how long did the animation take to produce:

Nicolas Schmerkin:
I think we worked with over 3000 logos. It took us two and a half years to do the animation. The short was finished last May and that’s when it won the prize at the Cannes Film Festival. It was also featured at Sundance. The final production cost is hard to determine, because in terms of cash it cost about 250,000 euros, but so many worked on it for free. About ten people worked in development and about 45 in production.

What kind of software was used to create the animation?

Most of the scenes were done in 3ds Max on top of rotoscopy. Many of the scenes were actually re-enacted by the directors themselves, and then, the animators would build upon that frame of reference. That’s why the animation is so precise in terms of movement and expression.

Tell us a bit about your background and how you got into producing animated shorts:

I came to producing as an extension of my first job as the publisher of a French movie magazine called Repérages (www.reperages.net). We also distribute DVDs of shorts, because it’s not easy to view shorts on a regular basis. I realized that I was much better at helping other people create their films than doing my own projects, so I found myself putting together shorts and distributing them. My company Autours de Minuit also distributed Virgil Widrich’s award-winning 2003 short, Fast Film.


So why do you think the short is set in Los Angeles of all places?

Schmerkin: From the beginning, the directors wanted the short to take place in Los Angeles, because it’s a very universal city—it represents all of the big metropolitan centers of the world. And we wanted to have a big earthquake, so there was no question that L.A. would be the right city for the short.

At first, we were playing with the idea of not having any dialogue, but then we thought of Pulp Fiction and how the main characters are talking in the car, so we wanted to give it a very distinctive American feeling. Interestingly enough, the original version of the short is in English. We then did a French dub version as well.

What do you think audiences are going to take away from Logorama?

Personally, I think it’s fun to look at the film carefully and try to spot all the logos and mascots. You can look at the film and see a basic action movie, or see something deeper. Of course, the film can be seen as a political allegory. It doesn’t necessary say that logos and consumerism is a bad thing. We are surrounded by logos every day. I read somewhere that we see more than 40 logos on average each time we step outside.

The interesting point is that at some point, we don’t even notice them anymore. We are surrounded by these corporate logos, so why not tell a story with them. It’s both an homage and a critique. Some people are also seeing it as a commentary on the current global financial crisis. But to be honest with you, we started this film so long ago that we had no idea that a financial crisis was going to cripple the world!

For more info, visit www.logorama-themovie.com/wac or www.autourdeminuit.com/wac


(Thanks Animation Magazine)

Sandy Kenyon, voice of Jon Arbuckle, dead at 87

Actor and director Sandy Kenyon, who provided the voice of Jon Arbuckle in the first Garfield TV special, died peacefully February 20 at his home. He was 87.

Kenyon voiced Jon to Lorenzo Music's Garfield in 1982's Here Comes Garfield, which aired on CBS. Made by Phil Roman Productions, the special was nominated for Emmys in Outstanding Animated Program and Outstanding Individual Achievement in Animated Programming.

He also voiced Uncle Mischa Bubbles in the 1985 King Features Entertainment special The Romance Of Betty Boop, which aired on CBS.

Born Sanford Klein in New York City on August 5, 1922, he served as a pilot in the Army Air Corps during the Second World War, organizing shows in his spare time. Kenyon moved back to New York to pursue his career in acting.

With five friends, he formed the Town and Country Players in Hartford, Connecticut in 1946, performing eight seasons of summer stock work. He finally moved to Los Angeles in the 1950s

He appeared in hundreds of movies, TV programs and stage plays. Klein was recognizable for his thin appearance, with very prominent cheekbones.

Kenyon first appeared on screen in 1957 such TV series as Studio One, Kraft Playhouse, The Twilight Zone, Gunsmoke and Have Gun, Will Travel. In 1958, he found his first TV starring role, working with Forrest Tucker in the adventure series Crunch and Des, based on Philip Wylie's writings.

His first movie role was as Bones Corelli in Al Capone (1959), starring Rod Steiger. Later movies included Nevada Smith (1966), Easy Come, Easy Go (1967), Something for a Lonely Man (1968), Rancho Deluxe (1975), and MacArthur (1977).

Kenyon made guest appearances on TV series from All in the Family (as Dave the Cop in "Archie Is Worried About His Job") to Knots Landing.

Sandy Kenyon was predeceased by his wife, the former Charlotte Blaugrund. He is survived by stepdaughter Janie Short and her children, Ben and Lindsey, of Fort Smith, Arkansas; and his stepson Stewart Given and his wife Susan Levitt Given of Santa Monica, California.

Memorial services will be a family gathering at sea.

Missing the Boat

As long as TAG has been in the "union organizing" game, we've had people telling us we'd "missed the boat." ...

Back in 1991, when we lost resoundingly lost a union election at Film Roman, various board artists came up and told us:

"Phil runs a great shop. Everybody's happy there. You ticked people off the way you talked to artists and handed out cards. You blew it."

The above could certainly be true. I was wet behind the ears, and at the time there was a lot of work around, and everybody was being paid well. And nobody at the studio wanted to irritate Uncle Phil (who was a studio owner and well past his union days.) So yeah, we got our heads handed to us.

You could say "we missed the boat."

But time went on, and the sting of defeat faded, and other organizing attempts came and went, some successful and some not. And then in the middle and late nineties other preoccupations developed: The CG revolution got into full swing, and the IATSE and TAG signed a few effects places up, but mostly the visual effects industry stayed resolutely non-union.

And we got mostly nowhere passing out rep cards and standing out on sidewalks trying to wrestle different houses under union contracts. The IA lost a union election at Sony ImageWorks, where people in the know said:

"Kiss it off, guys. CG artists are libertarian. They distrust unions and make their own deals. And they make good money without any minimum rates, so what do they need you for? The Sony benefits are fabulous. You're not going to get anywhere, trust me ..."

In other words, we hadn't just missed the boat, there was no boat on which to climb.

But here we all are, a decade-plus further on, and we hear and read things like this:

... [V]isual effects artists don't receive royalties and residuals. And as one visual effects artist told me, "even in the credits, we're listed after craft services."

...Visual effects artists typically work with no contract, no paid vacation, no benefits, and often no paid overtime. And because of the nature of the work health problems such as obesity, tendinitis and carpal tunnel syndrome are common.

It isn't the high-flying nineties anymore, when viz effx people with production experience were few and far between, and fierce competition between studios for their services gave them money and leverage, and they could write their own tickets.

Supply, as it almost always does, caught up to demand. And now visual effects artists find themselves working longer hours, often as "independent sub-contractors," and competing with technicians in India, Australia, Canada and New Zealand. So perhaps now there is a boat out in the harbor after all. And maybe it's hoisted anchor and steamed away, and maybe it hasn't. I've already heard people tell me: You're way too late to organize visual effects. You should have done that six or seven years ago. You've missed the boat."

But here's the thing about boats. There's always another one. Because unpaid overtime and unpaid wages and minimal pension and health benefits are workplace realities that go on forever, especially when visual effects studios are low-ball bidding movie work that the conglomerates throw at them. In the last year, I've heard a rising chorus of complaints from viz effx artists and technicians who claim to be getting hosed, and getting progressively more fed up about it.

Anger doesn't necessarily lead to labor contracts, but it certainly increases the odds of change. I don't know if a tipping point in the business is coming or not, but I suspect that the odds are much better today than they were in the 1990s. And I imagine some labor organization somewhere we'll start forging contracts.

And that old chestnut about the boat having already sailed? It's true. But there will be another steamship along very soon. There always is.

(Thanks Animation Guild Blog)

When you work in animation, there’s just no avoiding those Pink Slip Blues

Disney Legend Floyd Norman via JHM, returns with a column that discusses one of the lesser popular aspects of working in Toontown. And that’s the layoff that invariably comes whenever a new animated feature completes production

It was late summer 1958 and things had been going well. The mad rush to wrap the animated feature film, “Sleeping Beauty” was finally succeeding, and the film was well on its way to completion. Taking a break from the drawing board, I headed up to the second floor of the Animation Building to have a look around. As I checked out the cool layouts pinned to the storyboards, Ray Aragon, Vic Haboush and a few of the Disney veterans were engaged in a conversation.

“What are you going to do after the layoff?” inquired one of the artists seated in a Kem Weber lounge chair. Suddenly, a dozen questions went through my mind, but I was reluctant to speak up in this group of veteran Disney artists. I was already regarded as one of the “young kids,” and I didn’t want to appear even dumber than I was. I left the room and headed back downstairs to get some answers. I had been employed at Walt Disney Studios for over two years and this was the first time I had even heard the word, “layoff.” I wasn’t sure what it meant, but I had a feeling it wasn’t good.

Freddy Hellmich was our boss. He was leader of our crew as well as my Disney mentor. Freddy explained to all us kids gathered in his office that layoffs were a regular thing at Disney. Animation crews ramp up when a film is in production and conversely they’re downsized once the movie is completed. That means a number of artists can expect the dreaded “pink slip” as the film winds down. Those lucky enough to make the cut will continue working on whatever is in the production pipeline. However, the vast majority of the crew will have to seek their fortunes elsewhere.

It was as though a bucket of cold water had been splashed in my face. After nearly two years of basking in the warm glow of pixie dust, I was confronted with the cold, hard reality of the animation business. In my naiveté, I assumed that -- once scoring a job at the Mouse House -- I would be employed until I decided to leave. Life had become a little more difficult, and I seriously wondered about length of my animation shelf life.

These young animation artists could pretty much expect a pink slip once production wrapped on a Disney animated feature. Most were wise enough to save their money.

My fears were unwarranted. As this feature film wrapped, and the layoffs began, another job offer came my way. It was a government job, and the United States government insisted I take it. The letter even began with the word, “Greetings.” All of a sudden employment was no longer an issue as I began my stint in the military.

The years quickly passed and before I knew it I was back at the Disney studio helping the crew complete the newest animated feature, “101 Dalmatians.” Naturally, once the movie was finished there was another round of cutbacks. I was left with mixed feelings concerning this particular layoff. Veteran animators such as Don Lusk, Hicks Lokey, Bill Keil and Amby Paliwoda were shown the door while I kept my job. It was all a matter of economics, of course. The veteran animators drew a much larger paycheck, and young guys like us were much more affordable. I had managed to escape my second layoff, but what else waited in store for me?

After a series of layoffs, Disney’s animation department was finally down to a workable size. Those of us lucky enough to have survived the many cutbacks counted our blessings. Oddly enough, there were some who opted to leave the studio anyway. The growing medium of television began demanding more and more product. New studios opened their doors, and the need for animation professionals began to grow. The fledgling animation houses offered more opportunity for young animators, and a number of Disney artists handed in their resignations. If Disney wanted to downsize, the outside competitors were certainly willing to harvest the available animation talent.

Artist Jim Fletcher survived the “Sleeping Beauty” layoff by scoring a job with Ward Kimball's unit back in 1958. Most artists were not so lucky.

By the seventies, Disney’s animation staff began showing signs of age, and a new crew of eager young kids had already arrived. Guys like Glen Keane, John Lasseter and others were beginning to push animation in a bold new direction. However, layoffs were not yet a thing of the past. Once completing your assignment, even a young artist might find him or herself the recipient of the dreaded pink slip.

Flash forward to the bountiful nineties, and the second Animation Renaissance. Films such as “Beauty and the Beast,” “Aladdin” and “The Lion King” were raking in big bucks, and there was an incredible demand for animation. Walt Disney Feature Animation was enjoying a series of hit feature motion pictures, and an ever-increasing need for additional animation artists. It would appear that layoffs were finally a thing of the past as new projects followed completed ones. I think we all breathed a collective sigh of relief knowing we would never have to face another animation layoff.

Sadly, such was not to be. Much like our experience on “Sleeping Beauty” over fifty years earlier, animation artists continue to be impacted by the economics of the business. There are no good guys or bad guys in this scenario, it’s simply the nature of the beast. Back in 1959 the Old Maestro himself had to listen to his business-minded brother who said, “downsize the animation department, or risk losing it all.”

Even with increased production, steady employment in the cartoon business remains a challenge even today. Yet, for those of us who truly love this crazy business, we’re willing to ride out the rough times should it be required. Because in the animation business the good times continue to outweigh the bad.

No, he's not planning to jump off the roof of the Animation Building. Rick went on to a new career as a talented character designer at Hanna-Barbera and Ruby-Spears

Help the Hodges Charity Auction Continues

The Help the Hodges charity auction, which we wrote about last December, is still continuing on eBay. As explained earlier, the money raised will support animator Tim Hodge whose son’s car was struck by a train last August. His son, Matthew, remains in a coma today. There are plenty of primo pieces including a lot of production and pre-production artwork from animated projects as well as illustration art, toys and books. New items are being posted to eBay regularly, and full item descriptions can be found on HelptheHodges.com.

(Thanks cartoon brew)

2010 Oscars

A review of what the Oscars could've been - if they were able to see it.

While over 35 million people spent their Sunday nights watching the 2010 Oscar telecast, I and 3 million of my closest friends had to choose between Dateline and the Amazing Race because Cablevision pulled ABC from the air OR ABC didn't allow Cablevision to broadcast their otherwise free channel. Cablevision even offered to allow its subscribers to watch Movies on Demand for free but when we went to try and do that, but of course, it didn't work. Thanks Cablevision.

Regardless of who is right in this argument, I was pissed and wanted to watch the Oscars. So instead I watched Undercover Boss as I trawled (or is it trolled) the internet on my laptop looking for an online telecast of the show and not just the red carpet entrances, but to no avail. Then at around 10:30 I realized one of my facebook friends mentioned that miraculously the telecast had come back on. Did the superpowers behind the ABC/Cablevision have mercy and call a cease fire for a brief moment to bring peace to the world and allow the viewers to come together in harmony to watch the Oscars? I didn't care what the reason, the Oscars were on and I was going to finally watch it. So I watched the cinematography award given out , the horror film montage, the memorial montage, sat through one dance number and decided the magic was gone and went to bed. Sorry, too little too late. The enthusiasm was gone.

Not that I am an Oscar junkie or hold Oscar parties to rate the star's wardrobes, or even have a pool to bet on the winners. I do none of that. As a matter of fact, I can't stand the self congratulatory, god worshipping that goes on in Hollywood and its Romanesque triumphal parade which is the Oscars. That's not to say I don't dream one day of winning one of those gold statuettes for myself so I can look out at all my peers and say, HA! For ONCE, I am better than you! No. I enjoy watching the Oscars for other reasons.

1) To see who wins Best Animated Feature, because animation am my business. I learned this morning the winner was UP. Shocker! Who'd have guessed it that a small little studio like Pixar would run away with this years award. Why did the other films even bother showing up? Actually the fact the "The Secret of Kells" was nominated was a great inspiration for smaller studios who are still holding on to the notion that traditional animation is alive and well. Disney's "Princess and the Frog" helped too. I actually have not seen "Secret of the Kells" yet, but the images and scenes from Ireland's Cartoon Saloon's production are beautiful and confirm why I got into this industry in the first place.

2) To see who wins Best Animated Short so I can wallow in self pity that I haven't created an Oscar worthy short. Yet!

As for the short film winner, Logorama, I happened to have watched it the week before and was really impressed by the overall concept and idea. It was extremely clever and imaginative and I guess had a statement to make about the over saturation in our lives of corporations and mass marketing but the world created of logos almost was a gimmick instead of a story point. Nonetheless, it was amazing to watch and try to spot each of the thousands of logos and corporate iconic characters in the film. Really enjoyable to watch.

Congratulations to the winners, the French artistic conglomerate of H5. What will Nick Park do without another Wallace and Gromit Oscar?

3) To see the montages. I love to watch the film montages so I can rattle off, "seen it", "wanna see it", "never heard of that one", as each clip rolls by. I also like to see the montage of the people who died the previous year so I can say, "he/she died THIS year?", or "I didn't know they died" or "I didn't even know they were still alive".

After the broadcast finally came on I DID see the memorial montage, and is it just me or was Farrah Fawcett left off from the montage? What was that all about? Is it because she was mainly a TV star and not a film star? Has the world forgotten "Saturn 3" already? It's bad enough that her death got eclipsed by Michael Jackson's but to totally get left off the montage? It's like the day Princess Diana died,another death got totally overshadowed. A little known woman known as Mother Theresa.

And now, I found out that there was a montage remembering John Hughes's iconic teenage comedies of the 80s. The man whose films defined my generation was honored and I missed it. I must go and watch the tribute and pay my respects to the man that gave us Lloyd Dobler and Long Duk Dong.

4) Mostly, this year I wanted to see Steve Martin, my all-time favorite comedian, and Alec Baldwin, who has become one of today's greatest comedic actors and backbone of the great 30 Rock, host this years awards. Although, their lackluster film It's Complicated only got a few good hearty laughs from me, I was excited and willing to give these two power houses another chance. Missed it. Will have to catch it on YouTube.

5) Seeing James Cameron lose. Not that I don't like James Cameron or his films. Terminator and Aliens 2 were iconic Sci-Fi films of my youth. But two things really tainted my overall view of this man. Firstly, his "I am King of the World" speech after winning for Titanic was the most obnoxious and saddest thing I ever saw. You know this guy was not popular in High School and he was sadly giving the finger to all the spitballs he's had flung at him over the years. But really dude, it's an award for a movie. I didn't hear President Obama scream "I am King of the World" when winning the Nobel Peace Prize. Secondly, while interning one Summer at DreamQuest Images special effects studio in Simi Valley CA, I had the pleasure of working briefly with Mr. Cameron on the effects for his film "The Abyss". Okay, working WITH is a little strong. At the time we were creating video storyboards which involved puppeting cardboard ships on sticks to illustrate the shots that the effects artists would later create with real models (not those virtual CG models the kids are doing these days). The first day, I was dutifully (and quite competently) puppetting one of the ships doing exactly what Mr. Cameron instructed in every shot. On the second day his own effects guys, assistants and lackeys and hanger on-ers, started taking over the puppeting and I was relegated to the task of slating the shots. Not a glamorous position but an important one and I was happy just to be on the set. But when King Cameron started yelling at me because I wasn't getting the slate out of the shot fast enough I realized that the free internship I had didn't list being yelled at by a megalomaniacal, narcissist as one of its selling points. I decided to spend the next few days with the amazingly talented matte painters Bob Scifo and Ken Allen that I spent the rest of the Summer with.

So, thanks a lot ABC and Cablevision for messing up my Sunday night, and now my Monday morning, seeing as though I have to catch up on replays of the events on the web. All, I can say is don't you dare screw with my Tuesday Night of LOST or I may have to break out the old rabbit ears on your butts.

(Thanks W/M Animation)

The Oscars: Clements & Musker Talk More Princess and the Frog

Ron Clements & John Musker give us their overview of their hand-drawn comeback at Disney and where it's headed in the future.

Will Princess and the Frog spark the next Disney hand-drawn renaissance? All images courtesy of Walt Disney.

The long Oscar race is finally over, so, we thought we'd get one last overview from The Princess and The Frog directors Ron Clements and John Musker.

Bill Desowitz: Now that you're back from the international press tour, what's the response been?

Ron Clements: I would say the response we've gotten everywhere has been just really gratifying. The people who saw the movie certainly seem to really like it and we've gotten a lot of letters.

John Musker: The other night we went to the NAACP Awards. We were nominated for best picture, but didn't win -- Precious won. But just walking the press line, there were a number of African Americans who expressed really heart-felt and genuine gratitude for this movie and for the groundbreaking aspect of it with Tiana, and that was very rewarding.

BD: What about the response from fellow animators around the world?

Well, that's interesting: I spoke to Miyazaki for an hour when we were in Japan. But, of course, he never watches Disney movies [laughs], so… We talked about his movies, mostly. But we saw it in Dublin with some of the guys behind The Secret of Kells from Cartoon Saloon, and they were very enthusiastic about it and very encouraging and at the Academy [nominations] luncheon as well. Also, Nicky Phelan, who directed Granny O' Grimm, which is one of my favorite shorts this year, was very nice and enthusiastic about the hand-drawn aspect of it. And certainly they've been enthusiastic about hand-drawn animation around the world.

Disney's return to hand-drawn animation has been embraced globally.

RC: And we talked to animation students around the world.
JM: Yeah, there were a lot of students that turned out in Dublin at the IADT and they were very enthusiastic.

BD: What did they ask you?

They still ask about the future of 2D and what were the biggest challenges in making the film. But certainly there seems to be a great love of 2D. I just spoke at Leonard Maltin's class and a graduate class at USC and they have a passion for 2D and want to come and work at Disney. Some of them can do CG but hand-drawn is really what they want to do.

BD: Even though the domestic box office didn't meet expectations, you've done well overseas. But I hope they're not blaming 2D again.

Yeah, there was a question about that. And so far they are looking at how they marketed the movie and sort of do a little bit of Monday morning quarterbacking on that, but we're hoping to do another 2D film. We're developing some 2D ideas right now.

(Thanks AWN)

New 'Iron Man 2' Trailer Arrives!

The new "Iron Man 2" trailer premiered Sunday night during a post-Oscars episode of "Jimmy Kimmel Live," and there's a lot to like about the latest peek at Jon Favreau's much-anticipated sequel. The second official trailer was introduced by Tony Stark himself, Robert Downey Jr., and now you can watch it here on Splash Page.

All I can say is... BRIEFCASE ARMOR!!!

"Iron Man 2" arrives in theaters May 7, 2010.

Oscar snubs Farrah Fawcett: We don't, and here's our tribute

Farrah Fawcett in Logan's Run

If you're like us, you watched Sunday night's Oscar "In Memoriam" section and said, "Wait, where's Farrah Fawcett?" The actress may have been best known for her role on TV's Charlie's Angels, but she also appeared in several movies, including the sci-fi films Logan's Run and Saturn 3.

She died last June of cancer, an ordeal she shared with millions in a documentary called Farrah's Story.

The Oscar academy admits leaving Fawcett out was not "an oversight," but we respectfully disagree.

Farrah's most notable appearance in a sci-fi film was a brief role in the classic 1976 movie Logan's Run, in which she played opposite Michael York and Jennie Agutter.

She had a more substantial role in 1980's Saturn 3, an inferior movie but one in which she shared screen time with a stellar cast that included Kirk Douglas and Harvey Keitel.

She made a mark as a serious actress in other films, including Robert Duvall's The Apostle and TV's The Burning Bed.

Here's a sampling of Fawcett's roles in sci-fi and elsewhere. May she rest in peace, and we'll miss her.

The New 'Iron Man 2' Trailer's 10 Most Important Scenes

"It's good to be back," says Robert Downey Jr. as Tony Stark makes his grand entrance in the new "Iron Man 2" trailer. And indeed it is, because the new trailer offers fans even more cool footage from director Jon Favreau's upcoming sequel to the 2008 blockbuster.

While there's a lot to like about the new "Iron Man 2" trailer, there are a few key scenes worth a closer look. You can check out a gallery of images from the trailer here on MTV.com, but here are the 10 scenes you might want to check out again — and some thoughts (and questions) about what they could mean for Tony Stark's return to the big screen.

0:25 — Tony gets his first glimpse of Natasha Romanoff (Scarlett Johansson) in this scene, and she's introduced as a notary. Tony responds as expected ("I want one," he says), but we can't help wondering whether this notary will side with the good guys or the bad guys once she becomes Black Widow.

1:19 — Um, what's Tony Stark up to in this scene? "Contrary to popular belief, I know exactly what I'm doing," says Stark. Well, that makes one of us — but with that crazy laser messing up his workshop, we'd sure like to know.

1:27 — Wondering where all those robot drones we saw in the last "Iron Man 2" trailer came from? Well, after seeing Ivan Vanko (Mickey Rourke) join Justin Hammer (Sam Rockwell) for a meeting, it looks like we have our answer. "You need my resources," Hammer tells him. "I want to make Iron Man look like an antique."

1:40 — A nice debut for War Machine, but did you notice all those robot drones behind him?

1:44 — Yes, this scene is awesome. However, it's worth noting that the drone in the forefront of the scene has "Navy" on his shoulder. What could put War Machine against a host of government-sanctioned drones?

2:02 — Who's in the Mark II armor? We know James "Rhodey" Rhodes becomes War Machine, but there's any number of other characters who might have an opportunity to get into the ring and go armor-to-armor with Stark.

2:04 — Cue cameo by Samuel L. Jackson as Nick Fury. Now that we know "Iron Man 2" takes place before "Incredible Hulk" in the Marvel movie timeline, where does this scene fit?

2:11 — Well, I guess we know how Tony Stark survives that Monaco Grand Prix encounter with Whiplash... but what's that armor he's wearing?

Wait for it...

2:13 — It looks like Natasha Romanoff is a little more than a notary in this scene. How does she get her hands on Iron Man's gauntlet? Could she be the one in the Mark II armor we saw a few scenes back?

2:21 — Hey, remember that strange new armor we saw in the Monaco scene? Well, it's so cool it deserved three images. Behold, the BRIEFCASE ARMOR!

Jason Momoa Says His 'Conan' Will Be Based On Robert E. Howard's Original Novels

Later on this month, former "Stargate Atlantis" star Jason Momoa will begin filming his part as the title character in director Marcus Nispel's new "Conan" film, which is based on the popular barbarian warrior created by Robert E. Howard.

And while Arnold Schwarzenegger's turn as Conan in “Conan the Barbarian” and “Conan the Destroyer” has defined the character in popular culture since 1982, Momoa's Conan will skew more towards the rogue adventurer found in Howard's original novels.

“At the time, ['Conan the Barbarian'] was amazing… It’s got a little ’80s vibe to it,” said Momoa during an interview with the Des Moines Register. “I did more research with the books (than the movies), to tell you the truth.”

The article also stated that Momoa is training for his role in "Conan" with stunt performer David Leitch (“The Bourne Ultimatum”) and Chad Stahelski, the martial arts stunt coordinator for “The Matrix Reloaded” and “The Matrix Revolutions.”

Momoa also offered his insight on his life as an actor.

“I simply get to study life. I can be a doctor, I can be a crack addict, I can be Conan the Barbarian – or I can be saving the frickin’ galaxy. It doesn’t ever get dull.”

Late last month, reports indicated that Sean Hood had been hired to rewrite the "Conan" screenplay and that film veteran Mickey Rourke is in talks to portray Conan's father.

"Conan" is scheduled to film in Bulgaria through June with a release date planned for 2011.

The 'Iron Man 2' Briefcase Armor: A Brief History

Sure, the shots of Iron Man and War Machine putting a beatdown on an army of robotic drones in the latest "Iron Man 2" trailer was pretty amazing, but I think most fans of ol' Shellhead will agree that the debut of Tony Stark's new briefcase armor was the highlight of the second official trailer.

Making its debut in a 1963 issue of "Tales of Suspense" (the series that launched Iron Man into the Marvel universe), Tony Stark's briefcase armor has long been a part of the character's arsenal of high-tech equipment.

What started out as just a way to carry the various components of the armor eventually became something greater, though — and now is more akin to what we saw in the "Iron Man 2" trailer.

Along with providing a great way to make his armor portable, the briefcase version of Iron Man's suit has served a variety of other purposes in the comics world. Stark has used his high-tech briefcase on several occasions as a computer of sorts, connecting to terminals and hacking into everything from random computer networks to the S.H.I.E.L.D. mainframe.

In the comics, certain iterations of the briefcase armor have also been equipped with some wild deterrents to theft and the use of the armor by anyone other than its intended occupant.

At various points in the armor's history, it emitted knockout gas when an unauthorized user has tried to open it, and for quite a while, Stark traveled around with the briefcase attached to his wrist via handcuff.

Will the movie version of Iron Man's briefcase armor offer any of the following features? At this point it's hard to say, but given how successfully such an unlikely piece of equipment translated to the big screen in the new trailer, it's difficult to dismiss any element of Iron Man's universe under director Jon Favreau's care.

George Kirk meets Amidala: Official Thor movie details!

Paramount and Marvel released the official synopsis and cast list for its upcomingBold Thor, starring Star Trek's Chris Hemsworth and Star Wars' Natalie Portman, which you can read below.

As expected, the film sounds like an origin story that sets up the superhero based on Norse mythology. The synopsis doesn't say, but we presume he'll have a really big hammer.

Paramount Pictures and Marvel Entertainment Present
A Marvel Studios Production
A Kenneth Branagh Film
Co-Producers Craig Kyle Victoria Alonso
Executive Producers Louis D'Esposito, Alan Fine, Stan Lee, David Maisel, Patty Whitcher
Produced by Kevin Feige
Directed by Kenneth Branagh

Chris Hemsworth, Natalie Portman, Tom Hiddleston, Anthony Hopkins, Rene Russo, Stellan Skarsgard, Jaimie Alexander, Kat Dennings, Ray Stevenson, Josh Dallas, Tadanobu Asano, Idris Elba, Clark Gregg, Colm Feore

Paramount Pictures and Marvel Entertainment present the epic adventure, "Thor," which spans the Marvel Universe from present day Earth to the realm of Asgard. At the center of the story is the mighty Thor (Chris Hemsworth), a powerful but arrogant warrior whose reckless actions reignite an ancient war. Thor is cast down to Earth by his father Odin (Anthony Hopkins) and is forced to live among humans. A beautiful, young scientist, Jane Foster (Natalie Portman), has a profound effect on Thor, as she ultimately becomes his first love. It's while here on Earth that Thor learns what it takes to be a true hero when the most dangerous villain of his world sends the darkest forces of Asgard to invade Earth.

Release: May 6th, 2011

This film has not yet been rated.


"Thor" is a Marvel Studios Production and a Parmount Pictures Release

Ryan Reynolds Talks 3-D 'Green Lantern,' Still Won't Recite The Oath

Warner Bros. and DC Entertainment's "Green Lantern" will follow in the footsteps of James Cameron's "Avatar" when the superhero adaptation is released in 3-D on June 17th, 2011. The news has been making the rounds courtesy of official studio confirmation, and even the "Green Lantern" actors have a thing or two to say on the matter of the film's impending 3-D release.

On the red carpet at the Academy Awards on Sunday (March 7th), "Green Lantern" star Ryan Reynolds spoke with MTV News and confirmed that moviegoers will want to bring their 3-D glasses when "Green Lantern" arrives in theaters next year.

"Yeah, it is [being released in 3-D]," said Reynolds. "Yeah, absolutely."

The actor wouldn't specifically discuss what a 3-D release could mean for "Green Lantern," but he hardly has to. Just think about all of the various ways the filmmaking technology can be implemented to enhance the viewing experience of the wildly imaginative constructs Hal Jordan creates by way of his power ring — those thoughts alone are well worth geeking out over.

But it's not just the film's 3-D release that has Reynolds zipping his lips. Earlier this year, MTV asked the actor to recite the famous Green Lantern Oath, but Reynolds refused to comply. Sadly, it appears that the past weeks and months have not changed his stance on the matter.

"I'm not doing it," Reynolds laughed when asked to recite the oath. "No, no, you're not sucking me into this, man! Do you have any idea how much trouble I'd get into if I just belted out the oath right here?"

So what will it take for Reynolds to get in the thick of brightest day and blackest night before the film's theatrical release?

"You're going to have to pay cold, hard money," he joked.

New 'Kick-Ass' Posters Hit The 'Net

If you find yourself wandering the city streets at night only to find the heavily armored Big Daddy staring directly at you, don't worry — it's just the newest phase in the marketing campaign for "Kick-Ass," director Matthew Vaughn's film adaptation of Mark Millar and John Romita Jr.'s popular comic book series.

Lionsgate has unveiled four new outdoor posters from "Kick-Ass" featuring the film's central characters — Kick-Ass (Aaron Johnson), Hit-Girl (Chloe Moretz), Red Mist (Christopher Mintz-Plasse) and Big Daddy (Nicolas Cage).

These posters are just the latest in a long line of major reveals from the "Kick-Ass" team. Recently, MTV News offered you a first look at John Romita Jr.'s "wall of villains" as well as the upcoming "Kick-Ass" action figures from Mezco.

It's hardly a wonder that the "Kick-Ass" movement is ramping up given that the film's release is just over one month away. Some lucky viewers will have the opportunity to see "Kick-Ass" well before that date, as the movie is slated to premiere at the South by Southwest Festival in Texas this coming weekend.

In "Kick-Ass," young Dave Lizewski goes from ordinary teenager to costumed crime-fighter based on an overeager impulse to live up to the promise of comic book superheroes. His war against crime is assisted by Big Daddy and Hit-Girl, an unlikely father-daughter duo, and Red Mist, a costumed vigilante with familial ties to a local mob boss.

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