Monday, May 31, 2010

News - 05/31/10...

'Shrek' better than 'Sex' with $43M at box office

Movie audiences are showing more appetite for Shrek than for sex over Memorial Day weekend.

DreamWorks Animation's sequel "Shrek Forever After" remained the No. 1 movie for a second weekend with $43.3 million from Friday to Sunday. The film raised its domestic total to $133.1 million.

That easily topped the Warner Bros. sequel "Sex and the City 2," which was No. 2 with a $32.1 million debut that came in far below the $56.8 million opening weekend of its predecessor two years ago. Along with a $14.2 million haul in its first day Thursday, "Sex and the City 2" has brought in $46.3 million.

Debuting at No. 3 with $30.2 million was Disney's action tale "Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time."

Even with bad reviews and a running time of nearly two and a half hours for "Sex and the City 2," many in Hollywood had expected the sequel to open at No. 1.

But the fourth "Shrek" installment, itself opening far below the previous sequels, held up strongly in its second weekend. Family crowds continued to pack theaters for what is billed as the final big-screen tale featuring voice stars Mike Myers, Cameron Diaz, Eddie Murphy and Antonio Banderas.

French Trailer and Five Clips for Sylvain Chomet's THE ILLUSIONIST

Finally, the French theatrical trailer to Sylvain Chomet's The Illusionist has arrived and as an extra treat, there's also five clips. Its a traditional animated film we been readily keeping track of for a good while now during its years-long production run but its well worth the wait because the animation looks absolutely stunning. Here's the official synopsis:

The Illusionist is one of a dying breed of stage entertainers. With emerging rock stars stealing his thunder, he is forced to accept increasingly obscure assignments in fringe theatres, at garden parties and in bars and cafes. However, while performing in a village pub off the west coast of Scotland, he encounters Alice, an innocent young girl, who will change his life forever.

Watching his performance to the excited and amazed villagers who are celebrating the arrival of electricity to their remote island, Alice becomes awestruck by our hero and believes his tricks are real magic.

Following him to Edinburgh, she keeps his home while he goes to work in a small local theatre. Enchanted by her enthusiasm for his act, he rewards her with increasingly lavish gifts he has 'conjured' into existence. Desperate not to disappoint her, he cannot bring himself to reveal that magic does not exist and that buying these gifts is driving him to ruin.

But as Alice comes of age, she finds love and moves on. The Illusionist no longer has to pretend and, untangled from his own web of deceit, resumes his life a much wiser man.

Sony Pictures Classics have already picked up the North American rights and may release it by the end of this year. The theatrical release date in France is on June 16th. You'll find the French trailer and five clips embedded below.

(Thanks Twitch)

First Look at Stephen Chow's Animated Sequel to CJ7

The zany adventure of a boy and his friendly alien dog from Stephen Chow's 2008 hit sci-fi comedy CJ7 continues on in an animated sequel and we've got your first look with a batch of screen shot images. As mentioned before, Hong Kong director Toe Yuen, who previously directed the first two animated installment of the McDull franchise is helming the project while Chow served as the producer. Most of the original cast is back to provide the Mandarin voice dialogue except for Chow. Despite 3D being a hot trend nowadays, especially in animation, Chow opted for the traditional 2D format, saying a wonderful story is more important in attracting an audience than just visual effects.

Its set to hit mainland China theaters on July 6th. You'll find a gallery of stills below.

(Thanks Twitch)

New French Trailer For Racing Anime REDLINE

And the perplexing music choice award of the day goes to the new French teaser for director Takeshi Koike's Katsuhito Ishii scripted racing anime Redline. Seriously. This music could not possibly be more different from the tone of the actual movie. Weird. Anyway ...

It's been a long, long road for this one, the anime feature first announced back in March of 2006. We've been keeping an eye on it ever since - the presence of Taste of Tea and Funky Forest director Katsuhito Ishii as script writer guaranteed that - but, even for animation, it seems to have been an unusually long and arduous process. The premiere was announced for the 2009 Annecy Festival - widely considered the leading animation festival in the world - only to be cancelled at the last minute for reasons that were never publicly stated. The film would end up premiering in Locarno instead, but has been notably absent from the festival circuit since, with only an appearance at SciFi London listed. It's on the docket for Annecy again this year, though, and perhaps that will open the floodgate. If nothing else, the Annecy appearance has led to a new, French teaser.

Story? Well, there's a bit of overlap here with Ishii and Koike's previous anime collaboration - Trava: Fist Planet - but the core is an intergalactic, illegal racing circuit known as Redline. So expect fast cars, kinetic action and a lot of larger than life characters. Only it's all kind of presented like jazz in this new teaser. Check it below.

(Thanks Twitch

Eric Goldberg: animated Rolo Ad

(Thanks Pencil Test Depot)

Translation???...作画の夕べ :


I am a fan of animation.! I enjoy looking at all types of work. Anime is no exception. There are many Japanese animated movies in my collection and I really appreciate their control of the human form, cinematography, mech animation, and storytelling. Someone sent me this link and I really enjoyed watching the small tease of process in this clip. If anyone has some really nice Japanese pencil tests.... send them over!


(Ed. note: The anime it's from is called "Xam'd: Lost Memories")

(Thanks Pencil Test Depot)

Alessandra Sorrentino: The Secret of Kells rough animation

simple and great to look at...

(Thanks Pencil Test Depot)

Robin Hood: Milt Kahl

Great Link donation from Inkling Studios. Another great pencil test from Milt Kahl.

(Thanks Pencil Test Depot)

WHOA..our first Warner Brothers Tests!!

So these are some links that were sent to me. I have seen these before but not on youtube. Someone finally got them on the web and I am happy to post them here. I love the way Bugs walks away from Sam while standing next to him in the tuxedo. Great bit of character. Thanks for the links Patrick!

Virgil Ross

Ken Harris

(Thanks Pencil Test Depot)

AKIRA: Pencil Tests!

Got a great email which linked me to CATSUKA which always has some great animation reels from Japan, Korea, and all over. One of my favorite Japanese Anime movies is AKIRA...which I am sure most people who probably come to this site have seen it and were also blown away. This is one of the videos but I have supplied the link where you can see them all!


(Ed. note: I found and posted the other three - enjoy!)

(Thanks Pencil Test Depot)

Animators Agitate for Guvmint Relief ...

... In Great Britain.

... The [British animation] industry ... is seeing talent lured overseas by lucrative tax breaks. And they complain that work is being outsourced to studios in the Far East. Earlier this month it emerged that a film produced to showcase one-eyed monsters Wenlock and Mandeville, the mascots for the London 2012 Olympics, was produced in China ....

Their new campaign, Save UK Animation, launches in a couple of weeks' time but it is marshalling its forces ahead of the coalition government's emergency budget on 22 June. While in opposition, both parties talked of the need to support the creative industries, and Save UK Animation is compiling a dossier on the economic value of the industry to bolster its case ..

These are the times that try animation artists' souls. Outsourcing. Technological change. Downsizing of employment opportunities.

And (what a surprise!) it seems to happen in a number of countries, not just the U.S. of A.

But the problem with tax subsidies and or breaks (really pretty much the same thing) is they are almost always temporary band-aids that deliver temporary lifts in local employment and then fade away. Take for instance Canada. Our neighbor to the north has had tax subsidies for years, yet Disney animation studios have come and gone and come again. Disney Television Animation opened facilities in Vancouver and Toronto, they last three years and then closed. Now Pixar/Disney has opened a studio in Vancouver, and how long that fun factory stays open is anyone's guess.

One of the problems is that our fine entertainment conglomerates are schizophrenic: they chase talent while they also chase lower costs, and the two are often mutually exclusive. (Skilled talent has a habit of migrating to where the pay is better, which works against lower cost sub-contracting studios that want to keep pay low, the better to low-ball projects from American entertainment conglomerates.)

Then, of course, there's the problem of exchange rates constantly rising and falling. A few years ago, the Canadian looney was at a steep discount to the U.S. dollar; now it's closer to par. Twelve months back the euro was actually a strong international currency, now it's in a swoon. Added to which, tax subsidies get taken away as quickly as they're put on the books when governments are hungry for revenue.

The Los Angeles area animation industry has faced outsourcing for over three decades, yet the L.A. animation business continues to motor along. The reason, I think, is that the gravitational pull of a large and deep talent pool often trumps the ups and downs of cheap currency, cheap labor, and temporary tax breaks. Because after al is said and done, it doesn't do Disney, DreamWorks Animation or Warner Bros. a whole ot of good to make a cheap animated feature that nobody wants to see. The boy and girls who run the studios need the high grosses that quality often provides, otherwise they've got a lot of red ink ... and angry stockholders.

(Thanks Animation Guild Blog)


"Race" is an independent computer animated sci-fi action film geared toward an audience somewhere between gamers and fans of "Star Wars: The Clone Wars" (It's rated PG-13 for "some suggestive images and action violence").

The Synopsis: On the high energy Star Car racing circuit, driver Trance Caldron and Team Earth are independent, undisciplined, and out to prove themselves. After they stumble onto an attempt by archrival Team Tagmatian to overthrow the peacekeeping Alliance leadership, the prestigious Star Car Championship becomes a mach speed backdrop for a deadly showdown where the fate of the universe hangs in the balance. Trance must push his car, his team, and himself to the limit. In a race between good and evil... Winning is everything.

The project is the first self-produced feature from Hyper Image, a Post Production and Animation Studio in Glendale, California. After about a decade of development, production, post production, and a long search for distribution, they're really looking forward to the release.

The director, Robert Brousseau, has previously helmed numerous projects, including episodes of the animated "Roughnecks: The Starship Troopers Chronicles" and "Sherlock Holmes in the 22nd Century," for which he was nominated for an Emmy.

Meanwhile, screenwriter, Rhonda Smiley, has written for countless live action and animated television shows, including the Rick Springfield series, "High Tide," "Tarzan: The Epic Adventures," "Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: The Next Mutation," and "Totally Spies!"

James Hereth served as editor on the film and voiced the lead character. Previously to that, he produced the television movie, "The X-Team," starring Eric Mabius, and acted in the series, "Mowgli: The New Adventures of the Jungle Book."

"Race" is out on DVD now.

"Diff'rent Strokes" star Gary Coleman dead at 42

Gary Coleman, the troubled, diminutive child star of the 1970s hit TV sitcom Diff'rent Strokes, died Friday in Provo, Utah after suffering an intercranial hemorrhage. He was 42.

Life support was terminated and Coleman died at 12:05 p.m., said Utah Valley Regional Medical Center spokeswoman Janet Frank.

He voiced Andy LeBeau on the 1982 Hanna-Barbera series The Gary Coleman Show, which aired for 16 episodes on NBC.

The Gary Coleman Show was based on the live-action TV movie The Kid with the Broken Halo, which starred Coleman as an apprentice angel trying to earn his wings. In the cartoon, Coleman played Andy LeBeau (his character in the movie) and was on a mission to complete 28 good deeds before entering heaven. Andy was blessed with certain angelic powers, but only when he wore his halo.

He provided the voice of Kevin on five episodes of the short-lived 1996-97 Warner Bros. Television Animation series Waynehead, which aired on Kids' WB.

He also made guest appearances -- as himself --- in the Simpsons episodes "Grift of the Magi" (1999), "Behind the Laughter" (2000) and "A Tale of Two Springfields" (2000).

Coleman portrayed himself in the 2001 Cartoon Network TV-movie Scooby Doo's Night of the Living Doo.

Born in Zion, Illinois on February 8, 1968, he reached only 4'8" in height but became a huge star after the 1978 debut of Diff'rent Strokes. Known for asking "What'choo talkin' about, Willis?", he portrayed Arnold Jackson, the younger brother in a pair of African-American siblings adopted by a rich white man (played by Conrad Bain).

The kidney disease that stunted Coleman's growth caused him continuing ill health. He also had many legal problems in recent years.

Actress Pat Stevens was 2nd voice of Velma Dinkley

Patricia "Pat" Stevens, the second actress to voice Velma Dinkley in Hanna-Barbera's longtime Saturday morning Scooby-Doo series, died Wednesday.

Her age was not announced.

Stevens was heard as Velma Dace Dinkley from 1976 to 1979 on The Scooby-Doo Show and Scooby and Scrappy-Doo, as well as the hour-long special Scooby-Doo Goes Hollywood. In addition, she guested as Velma on several episodes of Dynomutt.

From 1974 to 1978, she had a recurring role on the CBS sitcom M*A*S*H, appearing in 14 episodes as Nurse Baker (or nurses with various other names).

Later in her career, Stevens taught acting and directing. She was particularly proud of her work with elementary and secondary education teachers, integrating art into the regular curriculum including science and history.

Stevens became the voice of Velma when Nicole Jaffe left the series to become an agent for other actors. She was herself succeeded by B.J. Ward -- whose husband, Gordon Hunt, had helped her get the job with Hanna-Barbera.

"I was working in L.A. and taking a class from Gordon Hunt, who also happened to be a director," Stevens, said in a 1998 interview with the student paper at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, where she was a visiting professor in the Department of Theatre Arts and Dance.

"The woman who had been doing the voice left, and it was just one of those things. He asked me if I wanted to try out, so I did, and ended up doing it for five years. It was wonderful," said Stevens.

She left the show after voicing Velma Dinkley in the first 11 episodes of Scooby and Scrappy-Doo. Marla Frumkin took over the next four episodes (in the last episode, "The Ransom of Scooby Chief," Velma didn't speak).

Years later, Stevens -- then a teacher of Advanced Acting 401 at UNL -- expressed astonishment over the show's continuing popularity. She finally realized how important the series was when she ran into a student who based his dissertation on the show.

But she missed the rumored drug links. "It is fabulous. It really is great. The first time someone asked me if all the characters were on drugs, I was stunned," she said with a laugh in her 1998 interview. "I had never made the connection. But I thought it was really funny."

"The show was absolutely not a metaphor for anything," she said. "It was just us kids riding around in a mystery van and doing our thing."

Although Stevens didn't go around telling students that she was Velma, they often found out.

"It was 20 years ago, but it still trails around," she said. "When they do hear about it, they usually say, 'But you don't understand how important it is to us!' It's great to be a part of that."

Born in Linden, New Jersey, Stevens wanted to be in show business from the age of four. Besides her Scooby-Doo and M*A*S*H roles, she worked as an actress and dancer on and off Broadway, and in films.

The wife of actor Jess Nadelman, Pat Stevens is also survived by children Sara and David; mother-in-law Aracy; and siblings Steve Sepaniak, Laura Valentine, Margaret Szczepaniak, Irene Kapsaskis, Jodie Crook and Kate Vallee.

Her family thanked the caregivers at the UMass Levine Cancer Center, the UMass hospice team, and the many people who offered their help and prayers.

In lieu of flowers, a donation was requested to the Susan G. Komen Breast Cancer Foundation, P.O. Box 650309, Dallas, TX 75265-0309.

Miles Funeral Home, 1158 Main Street, Holden, Massachusetts is assisting the family with private arrangements.

Voltron executive producer Peter Keefe dies at 57

Animation executive Peter Keefe, executive producer of the 1984 children's anime series Voltron, died Thursday in Rochester, New York of throat cancer. Keefe, who died at his sister Mollie's home, was 57.

He was also executive producer of the series Saber Rider and the Star Sheriffs (1987), Denver, the Last Dinosaur (1988), Widget, the World Watcher (1990), Mr. Bogus (1991) and Twinkle, the Dream Being (1993).

Known for his long blond hair, black handlebar mustache and cowboy boots, Keefe created, produced and sold more than 600 half-hours of children's and family entertainment programming over the past 20 years.

Voltron: Defender of the Universe -- or Voltron, as it was often known -- was created in the mid-1980s, when Keefe combined Japanese series Go Lion and Dierugger into a unified series. Voltron debuted in American syndication on September 10, 1984; during the 1984 and 1984 broadcast seasons, it became the top nationally ranked children's series in syndication.

It aired in over 100 countries and served as a pattern for such hugely successful kids' shows as Mighty Morphin Power Rangers and Pokemon.

Later, he created the American-French co-production Denver, the Last Dinosaur, which aired in over 90 countries after first reaching United States screens in 1988.

Keefe created and produced such animated series as Widget, The Mr. Bogus Show and Twinkle for Zodiac Entertainment, which he and longtime associate Brian Lacey formed in 1989 along with British-based Central Independent Television. Widget has been said to be possibly the first children's animated series to blend combine entertainment with social and environmental messages.

In addition, he produced the direct-to-video Christmas animation Nine Dog Christmas (2001). It also aired on Cartoon Network in the U.S. and on Disney Channel in Europe and Asia.

Most recently, he created the animated force Z-Force (Zodiac Force), featuring 12 action heroes based on the ancient Oriental Zodiac.

Born in Rochester, Keefe started in show business as an on-air movie critic for a St. Louis PBS station. He became vice-president and executive producer for World Events Productions, also in St. Louis, in 1983.

Besides his sister Mollie, Keefe is survived by his wife, the former Pamela Mills; mother Anne, a former talk show host at KMOX-AM St. Louis; stepson James; sisters Lisa and Kittie; and brothers Tony and Chris.

Space Chimps 2 trailer

Your worst nightmare comes true: Zartog Strikes Back!

Opened Friday in the UK.

(Thanks, Iain)

(Thanks Cartoon Brew)

Snoopy Flying Ace

I’m not a gamer, so I can’t speak for the playability, but the design work by Peter Wagner for the new Xbox Live Arcade game Snoopy Flying Ace works for me. I’m not thrilled by the character voices (see trailer below) but the 3-dimensional realization of the Peanuts characters is right on.

Wagner writes:

Smartbomb Interactives team of artists were tasked to re-imagine Snoopy (as the WWI flying ace) and give the cultural icon a fresh new feel. My job was to capture the essence of what it was like to be the fearless beagle, piloting a little red doghouse over Europe during the Great War.

The game comes out on June 2nd.

(Thanks Cartoon Brew)

Japanese animated commercials online archive

Here’s one for the history buffs: a link to a fascinating online archive of fifty vintage Japanese animated commercials.

This site is part of an on-line exhibition showcasing domestic life in Japan during the “Showa” period (the Hirohito era, 1926-89). Japan’s Research Institute for Digital Media and Content (DMC Institute) digitized of a large collection of TV advertisements obtained from the Momoya Co., a leading food company. The collection consists of 218 animated TV spots that date back to 1953. Of the 50 pieces posted on-line, the earliest one was produced in 1958. These provide a glimpse at a rarely discussed early phase of anime history.

(Thanks, Carlo Guillot)

(Thanks Cartoon Brew)

Sickest. Preston-Blair-Swipe. Ever!

We’ve posted so many examples of Preston Blair art swipes in the past, the novelty has long worn off. We’ve pretty much stopped paying attention to the emails that still pour in with various sightings around the world with images ripped from Blair’s seminal Animation Book, first published in the 1940s by Walter Foster.

Now comes one I couldn’t ignore. Thanks to our ever vigilant readers, perhaps the saddest Blair swipe yet: the Ms. Piglet Party Pig

I really don’t want to know what this is, but according the the product description:

“The inflatable Party Piggie is a hilarious addition to any event. Known as the Famous Erotic Love Piggy, you and your guests will get a kick out of the fun that can be had with this inflatable novelty party toy.”


(Thanks, Chris Garrison)

(Thanks Cartoon Brew)

Ray Lei

Above is a profile of Ray Lei, a Beijing-based graduate of Tsinghua University, Academy of Arts & Design. I was first introduced to his work when I was on the jury in Ottawa last year and saw three of his student films. As I recall, all of us on the jury had a similar (and curious) reaction in that we admired his work and thought it was creative, but didn’t particularly like the films. Nevertheless, Lei has plenty of ideas and creativity and I’m looking forward to following his professional career.

In the video interview, Lei says something that I hear often about animation schools in Asia, India and other developing animation regions of the world: that the schools treat animation too much as a trade and overemphasize technical skills at the expense of individual expression and thinking. That will be a big hurdle for those regions to overcome if they want to compete creatively with Western animation. Lei puts it best in the interview:

“It seems to me that too many people are too focused on the technical side of their work. Because I know After Effects, or Maya, I’m an animator. But that’s only one component in this big production. The technical skill that you’re proud of now will eventually become outdated and useless.”

More of Ray Lei’s illustration work can be seen on The Creators Project. Here’s a new eye candy-filled short by Lei:

And here’s a video of him rapping in Chinese accompanied by Simpsons director David Silverman on the tuba:

(Thanks Cartoon Brew)

McDonald’s Spot by Guilherme Marcondes

It’s hard to make a bad commercial when you’ve got Guilherme Marcondes (Tyger) directing and Peter de Sève (Ice Age, Rio) designing the characters. Be sure to check out Peter’s blog where he posted a bunch of his character concepts.

Watch the commercial on the Hornet website.

Director: Guilherme Marcondes
Executive Producer: Michael Feder
Producer: Greg Bedard
Lead TD: Arman Matin
TD & Layout Artist: Morgan James
Lighting: Ignacio Ayestaran, Erwin Riau
Modeling & Rigging: Daniel Williams
Modeling & Texturing: Ylli Orana
Rigging: Stanislav Llin
Color Keys: George Fuentes
Animation: Ken Music, Jamie Castaneda, Bill Burg
Compositing: Arman Matin & Allison Kocar
Particles: Jaymie Migue

(Thanks Cartoon Brew)

The Future of Anime on Adult Swim: What Needs to be Done?

For quite some time it has been rather obvious that Adult Swim seems to be losing its faith in anime. In their defense, the anime block on Saturdays hasn’t done incredibly well the past few years, and so it'd be reasonable for them to slowly phase anime out altogether. With the announcement of three new titles (Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood, Kekkaishi, and an unconfirmed show), however, it seems as though Adult Swim may be giving this one last shot after the lackluster performances delivered by Code Geass and Death Note (need I even mention Moribito?). I’d say that if they truly want their anime to start performing well, they really have to start treating the properties better. Advertisement goes a long way, and unless they display their usual schedule on weeknights, most viewers are completely out of the loop as to what new anime is coming to the block and when. It can be difficult to get into a new show after missing the first few episodes, which means the show will never produce the ratings that Adult Swim wants.

Adult Swim needs to focus more on the casual viewers that it has; there are individuals who watch Adult Swim that do not regularly search the internet for information pertaining to the block. These are the many people who watch Adult Swim on weekdays mainly because of Family Guy and various other "adult" cartoons. They watch when they can and if a show catches their interest, they start watching regularly. A dedicated viewer will pick up on details on his or her own because they are either already invested in a new property or are reading animation-related sites, but there are not enough of these people. For the most part, Adult Swim needs to stop stop relying on them and focus its marketing on individuals who watch casually during the week. It really won’t hurt the block to throw in consistent advertisement for a show like Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood for weekday commercial breaks. If this doesn’t work then I can fully understand them going back to their old ways, but until it's given a serious chance Williams Street really has nobody to blame but itself for the performance of the anime block.

Another issue is the scheduling itself. While the first season of Code Geass did not do well, its time slot was generally poor and the second season was killed before it even started. You can’t expect viewers to watch the second season of a show when they most likely did not finish the first because it was slotted at 4 AM. It was a bit ridiculous of Adult Swim to expect that fans would stay up that late to watch the show; even hardcore fans who loved it more than likely wouldn’t wait that long, and they didn't. Also, Geass and the Saturday block in general suffered a lot of schedule changes. If you only watch one particular show then you will generally tune in that the time you're used to, only to be frustrated when another show is suddenly in its place. The first time this happens is one thing; two or three times is just ridiculous and that will be a turn off for a casual viewer. Meanwhile Bleach, a show that was actually doing rather decently, has been in re-runs for quite some time now. Sure, you can’t run what isn’t dubbed, but viewers will eventually lose interest if they see an episode for the fifth time. Again, Adult Swim needs to think about the casual fans and their viewing experience. At this point you may be thinking that these casual viewers are low in number and don’t matter, but if the “hardcore” fans alone were enough then the anime block wouldn’t be in its current dismal situation.

With the recent new properties, there is yet another chance for anime to perform better on Adult Swim and get better treatment. Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood has done fairly well for itself, usually scoring around the 400,000 mark (dipping just a little below and above every week). This isn’t anywhere near the ratings Family Guy and The Boondocks brings in, but nobody expected that. Still, one successful property alone isn’t enough for substantial change. I’ll admit to knowing little about Kekkaishi, so it is hard for me to accurately give a prediction on how I think (and perhaps hope) it will do. The main complaint I have seen about Kekkaishi is if the material in question is in fact ‘adult’ enough for Adult Swim. In that case, Adult Swim really needs to focus on shows that are for the audience they are aiming at; a clear kid's show on an adult late night block is fighting an uphill battle. However, if FMA: B and Bleach are telling at all, a successful Adult Swim show needs to have a good mix of action and drama in order to perform well. Not enough action will bore viewers, while not enough drama will make it rather bland.

While the third property hasn’t been announced, I’m going to assume it is Inuyasha: The Final Act. All the signs seem to point towards this, but hey, it could just as easily be a show out of left field that nobody saw coming. If it actually is more Inuyasha, then the show will more than likely be a hit-or-miss type case. The casual viewers that I have talked quite a bit about will more than likely not know what is going on so they probably won’t watch the show. Inuyasha, however, is unusual in that it really does have an established “hardcore” fan base to get the ratings, so how this show would do remains to be seen. Without a doubt, the anime block has been put through quite a bit during its time on Adult Swim. Whether it sticks around or eventually fades out depends on not just the viewers, but also in how Adult Swim utilizes marketing to reach out to people who wouldn’t normally watch these properties. For those of us who like the block and want it to stay, let’s just hope that these three new properties kick some ass.

(Thanks Toon Zone)

"Daria" Writer Anne D. Bernstein Teaches Animation Writing @ MoCCA on June 22, 2010

Writer Anne D. Bernstein will kick off the Museum of Comic and Cartoon Art (MoCCA)'s Adult Education Program for 2010 with a "How to Write Animation" class, conducted in six weekly sessions starting on June 22, 2010. Each session runs from 6:30 - 9:00 PM, and tuition for the course is $385 ($360 for MoCCA members). Bernstein was head writer at MTV Animation Development for 3 years, and has credits on Daria, The Backyardigans, Tutenstein, Viva Pinata, and Monster High. For more details, visit the MoCCA web site.

The full press release follows:

MoCCA'S Adult Education Programs begin June 22!
The Museum of Comic and Cartoon Art - MoCCA - is pleased to present:

6 sessions, TUESDAYS 6:30-9:00 pm
June 22 & 29; July 13, 20, 27; August 3
$385 tuition | $360 for MoCCA members

© 2010 MTV Networks, © and ™ MTV Networks. All Rights Reserved

When it comes to cartoons, anything can happen! Yet, although animation is unbound by reality or gravity, successful cartoon writing is grounded in classic storytelling skills, thoughtful character development, and clever dialogue. This class is an opportunity to explore the particular challenges and rewards of writing for animation. Screenings, lectures, in-class exercises, and enjoyable home assignments demystify the process. If you have already created animated characters or are in the process of developing your own show (anything from a single webtoon to a full-fledged series) you will be encouraged to incorporate your existing project into the course work—and receive valuable feedback from the instructor as well as your fellow students! Newbies are welcome, too. Just bring your imagination. [Note: while this course will focus on TV animation, shortform and feature length animation will be discussed, as well.]

ANNE D. BERNSTEIN is an animation writer and story editor whose credits include Daria, MTV Downtown, Private Eye Princess, Hey Monie!, Backyardigans, Tutenstein, Viva Pinata, Angelo Rules and Monster High. She served as Head Writer for MTV Animation Development for three years. Before that she was Senior Editor and Comic Book Editor at Nickelodeon Magazine.

For more information and to register, visit or call 212-254-3511, Tuesday-Sunday, 12 - 5 PM.

Upcoming Education Programs

(ages 8-12)
Parts 1 and 2
Instructor: TOM MOTLEY
6 sessions, SATURDAY MORNINGS 10:00-11:30 am
June 19 & 26; July 10, 17, 24 & 31
$245 tuition | $225 for MoCCA members' kids
$130 tuition | $120 for MoCCA members' kids [Sections 1 or 2 individually]
6 sessions, WEDNESDAYS June 23 & 30; July 14, 21, 28; August 4
6:30-9:00 pm
$385 tuition | $360 for MoCCA members

MoCCA's Education Programs are organized by Senior Vice-President of Education, Danny Fingeroth
On view at MoCCA
NeoIntegrity: Comics Edition
extended through August 29, 2010

Dash Shaw: Making The Abyss
through May 30, 2010
R. Sikoryak: How Classics and Cartoons Collide
June 15 through August 29, 2010

Upcoming Events at MoCCA

Thursday, June 3, 7 PM
City of Spies
Reception and signing with Susan Kim, Laurence Klavan and Pascal Dizin
Admission is Free for this event

Thursday, June 17, 7 PM
To Teach: The Journey, in Comics
William Ayers and Ryan Alexander-Tanner in conversation with Calvin Reed
Admission: $5 | Free for MoCCA Members
Museum of Comic and Cartoon Art
594 Broadway, Suite 401, New York, NY 10012

"Superman/Batman: Apocalypse" Next DC Universe Animated Original Movie Release

The back cover art for the upcoming Batman: Under the Red Hood direct-to-video animated feature reveals the title of the next DC Universe Animated Original Movie installment.

As revealed on the back cover artwork to the Blu-ray and Two-Disc Special Edition DVD releases for Batman: Under the Red Hood, the title of the next installment in the DC Universe Animated Original Movie line is Superman/Batman: Apocalypse. The Superman/Batman: Apocalypse animated feature, a sequel to the top-selling 2009 direct-to-video Superman/Batman: Public Enemies animated feature, is scheduled for a Fall 2010 release. Further details are expected to be announced shortly.

Click here to view the back cover artwork for the upcoming Batman: Under the Red Hood direct-to-video animated feature.

Kawanimation’s Café Allongé Has Grand Opening Online

The French animation studio Kawanimation has released their latest short film online – Café Allongé. It’s an intense story of romance that begins suddenly in a coffee shop.

Boivin Blasts His Daughter Skyward in Iron Baby

I was just wondering the other day when we’d see the next Patrick Boivin stop motion short. Well, he just delivered his latest, but it’s not stop-mo. It’s a CG send-up of Iron Man called Iron Baby, staring Boivin’s little daughter. The CG was produced by STROB.

Feel the Love

Canadian artist Jessica Borutski has received mixed messages on her Looney Tunes designs.

Jessica Borutski has spent nearly two years redesigning characters like Bugs Bunny, Daffy Duck and Elmer Fudd for Warner Bros.

When the company broke the news online, some angry fans lashed out by posting nasty comments aimed at Borutski ...

Borutski said she wasn't prepared for such negativity.

"My heart sank a little bit. It was hard to see such hatred," she said ...

Here's the deal, Jessica. You're in Animationfandom now. A lot of these folks specialize in hatred. Change their favorite character, direct a movie of which they don't approve (Alice, maybe?) and the long, serrated knives come out.

Get used to it.

The only sliver of encouragement I can offer is that a lot of the board artists actually working on the shows for which you redesigned Bugs, Daffy, et al think your drawings of the characters are just fine. One even showed me a clip from one of the shorts and pointed out how good Porky Pig looked.

But what do they know? They're just the people who are making the series.

(Thanks Animation Guild Blog)

Who's Working in What Classifications

The Animation Guild has close to 3000 active members.

Of that number, 2,617 are now working as staff or free-lance employees. That pencils out to 87% (give or take).

But in what categories are those 2000-plus people working? Click the pointy hand on the blue words below and find out ...

Members employed at TAG shops, by category

Figures in square brackets are the number of persons employed

Employment patterns have mimicked a roller-coaster over the past couple of years, with television animation coming out of its trough of a year ago to grow in fits and starts. (Warner Bros. Animation has come back to life, Nickelodeon has built up its CGI staff, Cartoon Network and Disney Television Animation have added shows.)

On the theatrical side, DreamWorks Animation has been a (relative) island of stability), while Walt Disney Animation Studio has used the visual effects model: hire staffers when you need them, lay off staffers when you don't. Image Movers Digital, a steady engine of growth in 2008 and 2009, will be disappearing at the end of 2011.

And so it goes. Twenty-year veterans of hand-drawn animation have found tougher sledding over the last year, and there are more CG television shows in the pipeline than ever. Digital storyboards are encroaching on timing directors' jobs, and the expansion of the Cintiq has meant more work is expected in smaller amounts of time from designers and board artists. (And those board artists now have the added work opportunity to build their own animatics at their desks.)

Technology has been a major driver of employment trends, but what's new? You can see the evidence for yourself in the chart above.

(Thanks Animation Guild Blog)

Tokyo Pop-eye: Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell

Blow me down! On second thought, let me rephrase that.

First a Preston Blair piggy sex toy, and now this: A “Popeye” porn shop spotted in the main gay district of Tokyo. This is obviously not an officially licensed use of the character. Do you think someone over there is still sore over World War II Popeye cartoons like this one?

(Thanks Cartoon Brew)

Get Him to the Greek Commercial

Get Him to the Greek is a live-action film that will be released in a few days. I don’t know anything about the film, but they’ve got this entertaining animated commercial to promote the film. Anybody know the credits for this spot? They deserve some recognition. And why doesn’t the movie studio have a nice version of this spot on-line? Rarely do I see animation this attractive in TV advertising nowadays.

UPDATE: According to Jessie in the comments, Mike Moloney directed this at Titmouse Inc.

(Thanks Cartoon Brew)

"Easy Rider" creator Dennis Hopper dead at 74

Hollywood actor and famed bad boy Dennis Hopper, director and star of the 1969 counterculture megahit Easy Rider, died Saturday morning from complications of prostate cancer, friend Alex Hitz said.

Known for playing maniacs in such films as Apocalypse Now, Blue Velvet and Speed, Hopper died at his home in the coastal Los Angeles suburb of Venice at 8:15 a.m. PDT, surrounded by family and friends.

He was nominated twice for an Oscar: for writing Easy Rider, and for a rare sympathetic appearance as an alcoholic high-school basketball coach in the 1986 drama Hoosiers.

Hopper voiced Tony in the Crest Animation Studios feature film Alpha And Omega, scheduled for release this coming September 17. Starring Hayden Panettierre and Justin Long, the American-Indian co-production is about two mismatched young wolves thrown together by circumstance.

He guested as himself in the 1997 King Of The Hill episode Hank's Got The Willies, in which Hank's determination to find a role model for Bobby leads to an unexpected encounter with Hank's own hero.

Hopper was frequently in the voice casts of stories from Rabbit Ears Video Productions. He was in The Steadfast Tin Soldier and The Ugly Duckling (both 1985), Santabear's High Flying Adventure (1987), How the Leopard Got His Spots (1989) and Rip Van Winkle (1992).

In 2002, he voiced Dad and King Normans in The Groovenians, a Cartoon Network special nominated for an Annie Award for Outstanding Achievement in an Animated Short Subject.

Hopper's career lasted over a half-century. Born Dennis Lee Hopper in Dodge City, Kansas on May 17, 1936, he was seen alongside his mentor James Dean in Rebel Without a Cause and Giant in the 1950s.

But temper tantrums and domestic violence -- not to mention his notorious drug abuse -- often made him an outsider in Tinseltown. He once claimed he snorted coke lines "as long as your arm every five minutes, just so I could carry on drinking... gallons" of alcohol.

Easy Rider, originally thought up by Fonda, made Hopper famous and helped bring in a new generation of filmmakers.

"We'd gone through the whole '60s and nobody had made a film about anybody smoking grass without going out and killing a bunch of nurses," Hopper told Entertainment Weekly in 2005. "I wanted Easy Rider to be a time capsule for people about that period."

"Dennis introduced me to the world of Pop Art and 'lost' films," Fonda said in a statement. "We rode the highways of America and changed the way movies were made in Hollywood. I was blessed by his passion and friendship."

Often, Hopper starred in bad movies -- such as Super Mario Bros. and Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2 -- strictly for the paycheck. At the same time, he spurned roles in Taxi Driver and Reservoir Dogs, which could have enhances his reputation.

In later years, Hopper changed his image to a degree. He became a Republican, as well as a pitchman for Gap and Nike.

Although Hopper became ill last September, he kept working nearly to the end. He continued with his cable TV series Crash and working on a book featuring his photography, for which he was well-known.

His personal life was rocky, to say the least. Among his was an eight-day sting with Michelle Phillips of the Mamas and Papas in 1970. Later, she told Vanity Fair that she was the victim of "excruciating" treatment.

In his final months, he had a rough divorce battle with his fifth wife, Victoria Duffy.

Dennis Hopper is survived by four children. Funeral arrangements were pending.

Pres-Aid Update

Here's an update via his Facebook page, which is a group to assist and publicize a benefit art auction for Pres Romanillos. Pres is a friend and animator who is awaiting a bone marrow transplant for a relapse of leukemia.

Subject: Pres-Aid animation art items now on eBay

The Pres-Aid Auction is officially live. I've listed 10 items on eBay here:;

All 10 items close next Sunday, June 6. I'm hoping getting some items on eBay will help get the word out, so feel free to pass this on. Anyone in the southern California area can see these 10 items (and about 150 more) in person at the Pres-Aid Auction Reception on Friday, June 4, from 6-10 pm at 1105 N. Hollywood Way in Burbank.

Spread the word, and go bid!


James McAvoy To Portray Professor X In 'X-Men: First Class'

After "Kick-Ass" director Matthew Vaugnn was hired earlier this month to helm "X-Men: First Class," Fox announced that the film would be placed under an accelerated development and released next summer. Towards that end, the first cast member has been revealed.

James McAvoy has agreed to play a younger Professor Charles Xavier (aka Professor X) in "X-Men: First Class," according to The Hollywood Reporter. The story reportedly follows the early days of the partnership between Professor X and Magneto as they trained the first generation of mutants before a violent rift developed between them.

McAvoy has previously appeared in several films, including "Becoming," "The Last King of Scotland," "Atonement," "The Last Station" and "The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe." However, McAvoy may be best known for his role as Wesley Gibson in the adaptation of Mark Millar's "Wanted." It is currently unknown if McAvoy's role in "X-Men: First Class" will affect the development of 'Wanted 2."

Back in March, Bryan Singer was forced to step aside from directing "X-Men: First Class" due to his commitments to the Warner Brothers film, "Jack The Giant Killer." However, Singer will remain on board to produce "First Class" with Lauren Shuler Donner and Simon Kinberg.

More recently, screenwriter Jane Goldman was reported to be working on the "X-Men: First Class" script following a series of posts by her husband, Jonathan Ross. Goldman has previously collaborated with Vaughn on "Kick-Ass" and "Stardust."

"X-Men: First Class" will be released on June 3, 2011.

Iron Man Will Not Return Until 'The Avengers,' Says Jon Favreau

While the last scene in "Iron Man 2" sets the stage for the next movie from Marvel Studios, it appears that Robert Downey Jr. will not reprise his role as Tony Stark (aka Iron Man) until "The Avengers" is released in 2012.

"[Downey's] not in 'Thor', he's not in Cap which are the two movies for next Summer," said "Iron Man 2" director Jon Favreau during an appearance on "The Kevin and Bean Show" from the Los Angeles based radio station KROQ (via Comic Book Movie). "It'll be very interesting to see how the Marvel Universe branches off. All of these movies are going to be taken into account for 'The Avengers' in two years."

"I'm not sure where 'The Avengers goes,' continued Favreau. "There is no shooting draft written yet. It's gonna be a big undertaking for Marvel to actually incorporate what happened in 'Iron Man,' 'Iron Man 2,' 'Thor,' 'Captain America' [and] 'The Hulk.' All that has to inform one unified vision in 'The Avengers.' It's a very exciting prospect. And certainly, Tony Stark is not going to be involved in any of the movies until that one."

Earlier this week, word broke that Joss Whedon has "tentatively agreed" to direct "The Avengers," potentially confirming the rumors that began circulating in April.

Favreau has previously said that Whedon would be a "great choice" to direct "The Avengers."

Favreau also shared his thoughts on whether "Iron Man 3" would be shot in 3-D.

"I have been testing the [3-D] gear out because we are discussing whether or not we want to do it on the next ['Iron Man'] film," related Favreau. "I know Marvel is looking into it on their movie. but for me personally for 'Cowboys and Aliens' we are looking at what the gear can hold up to because we are shooting out in the desert, which has never been done before with this type of gear. But I love watching movies that are done well in 3-D; I think it is very captivating."

"The Avengers" is set to be released in the summer of 2012.

Michael Bay Brings 'Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles' Back To The Big Screen

Last year, during the 25th Anniversary of the "Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles," word broke that producer Scott Mednick ("300," "Superman Returns") was restarting the "TMNT" film franchise with a new movie that would be a live-action and CGI hybrid.

While "TMNT" co-creator Peter Laird sold the rights to Nickelodeon last October as part of a $60 million dollar deal, the new "Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles" film now appears to be back on the fast track.

Michael Bay, Brad Fuller and Andrew Form from Platinum Dunes have reached an agreement with Paramount Pictures and Nickelodeon to produce the "Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles" reboot, according to Deadline. Mednick will also remain on the project with Galen Walker, one of the producers of the 2007 "TMNT" CGI film.

"Young Guns" and "The Forbidden Kingdom" screenwriter John Fusco was hired last year to adapt the new "TMNT" film.

In an earlier interview with MTV News, Mednick compared the new "TMNT" to "Where The Wild Things Are" and "Hellboy" in terms of integrating the live action and CGI elements of the film.

"The similarity will be that the 'Wild Things' creatures are actually there," offered Mednick. "They’re in the scene, they’re not CGI’d in, they’re actually large creatures. I remember early discussions of actually having the creatures be in the scene — because you can tell if it’s there or if it’s CGI’d in —and giving credibility to the fact that the Wild Things are in these scenes."

"We have a similar issue in that we want the Turtles to be a part of that world," continued Mednick. "So we will use CGI effects where necessary, and we will use the best costume makers that we have now. You can look at anything from 'Wild Things' and the Henson creature shop, to the guys who did 'Hellboy,' and you can look at the expertise in technology we have now. It just wasn't there 25 years ago, so we will hopefully utilize that."

That Hobbit holdup? Guillermo del Toro speaks out!

It seems like every week there's a new report that The Hobbit is ready to go, and then another report that it's held up. MGM, who owns some rights to a Hobbit film, faces financial troubles that keep things in limbo. Even though Deadline reported a November start date, director Guillermo del Toro says he hasn't heard anything firm.

"You know, there cannot be any start date, really, until the MGM situation gets resolved, because they do hold a considerable portion of the rights," del Toro said in a conference call on May 27 while he was promoting Splice. "It's impossible to take a unilateral decision by New Line or Warners to give the green light to proceed. We really believe that things will be known after the fact of MGM's fate. Whether they stay and they get supported or they get bought or they transfer some of the rights, nobody knows. We've been caught in a very tangled negotiation."

When that resolution comes, del Toro is ready to start shooting. Like, immediately. "Now I've been on the project for nearly two years," he said. "We have designed all the creatures, we have designed the sets, the wardrobe. We have done animatics and planned very lengthy action sequences and scary sequences and funny sequences. We are very, very prepared for when it finally is triggered, but we don't know anything until MGM is sold."

So reports that The Hobbit is green-lighted have been greatly exaggerated. Also, reports that producer Peter Jackson is talking about 3-D are a bunch of hype. "In both counts, there are absolutely no final answers," del Toro said. "It's not green-lit. That's categorical. It is not green-lit."

The current plan only accounts for good old-fashioned 2-D filming, but anything is possible. "3-D has been discussed literally once in the room," del Toro said. "The budget and the schedule, the cost of the film, the number of days it would take to shoot, we are handling all of that right now without looking towards 3-D. So is there a chance it will become 3-D in the future? Maybe. Right now, it's not being planned as such."

The Hobbit is tentatively due out Christmas 2011, with part two following a year later.

Director quits 'Hobbit' film over production delay

WELLINGTON, New Zealand – Hollywood director Guillermo del Toro said Monday that production delays have forced him to quit the planned film version of J.R.R. Tolkien's "The Hobbit," a two-part prequel to New Zealand filmmaker Peter Jackson's blockbuster trilogy "Lord of the Rings."

"In light of ongoing delays in the setting of a start date for filming The Hobbit, I am faced with the hardest decision of my life," del Toro told a "Lord of the Rings" fan website.

"After nearly two years of living, breathing and designing a world as rich as Tolkien's Middle Earth, I must, with great regret, take leave from helming these wonderful pictures," he said, noting the film still hadn't been given the green light by MGM, the struggling Hollywood studio.

Matt Dravitzki, a spokesman for "Hobbit" producer and "Lord Of The Rings" director Jackson, said del Toro would not be speaking to reporters Monday.

The announcement by del Toro reflected Jackson and del Toro's "full sentiments at this time," he said.

Del Toro would continue to co-write the screenplays with Jackson and his wife, Fran Walsh, and Philippa Boyens.

Jackson reached a deal in late 2007 to make two films of "The Hobbit." He is serving as joint executive producer with Walsh.

Last week, del Toro, who directed "Pan's Labyrinth," "Blade II" and the two "Hellboy" movies, told journalists the "Hobbit" films, which have been plagued by delays, still hadn't been given the go ahead.

"There cannot be any start dates until the MGM situation gets resolved," del Toro said. "They do hold a considerable portion of the rights."

Reports emerged late last year that MGM was teetering on bankruptcy and del Toro said those issues had caught the "Hobbit" films in a "tangled negotiation."

"We have designed all the creatures. We've designed the sets and the wardrobe. We have done animatics and planned battles sequences ... We are very, very prepared for when it is finally triggered," he said.

Jackson told "We feel very sad to see Guillermo leave The Hobbit, but he has kept us fully in the loop and we understand how the protracted development time on these two films, due to reasons beyond anyone's control, has compromised his commitment to other long term projects.

"The bottom line is that Guillermo just didn't feel he could commit six years to living in New Zealand, exclusively making these films, when his original commitment was for three years. Guillermo is one of the most remarkable creative spirits I've ever encountered and it has been a complete joy working with him."

He would discuss options for a new director with MGM this week, Jackson told the website.

"We do not anticipate any delay or disruption to ongoing preproduction work," he said.

Last month, Jackson dismissed rumors that the "Hobbit" movies have been delayed by production problems, insisting the project was still in its early stages.

He told, "Well, it's not really been delayed, because we've never announced the date. I mean it's sort of interesting because the studio has never greenlit The Hobbit, so therefore The Hobbit has never been officially announced as a 'go' project, nor have we ever announced a date."

Captain America's Movie Costume Has Been Seen!

Do you wanna know how Marvel Studios will make Captain America's costume in his own movie? To see the description...Make the jump!

We have already heard there will be two versions of Cap's costume in the upcoming Captain America: The First Avenger. A flashy one for the USO appearances will be the first appearance. got a peek at the second combat ready one that will be the prominent one for the film.

Here is the description as told by Mike Sampson at Joblo:

The first thing I noticed is that the trademark wings that flank the side of Cap's hood are gone. In fact the "hood" is gone entirely. In its place is a more traditional M1 Army helmet though this helmet does come over the eyes to give Cap a traditional "domino mask" look. Still present is the white "A" in the middle of the hat (nothing fancy, this is the traditional font), though like the rest of the costume, the blue of the helmet is much more muted than the blue in the comic costume. A thick black strap comes down over the ears and connects under the chin.

On his chest still lies the white star though it's not as prominent as the comic version. The costume is still split horizontally through the middle with blue on top and red and white stripes on the bottom. But instead of stripes, it's actually just a white base with two red utility straps acting as stripes. These straps affix to a metal loop at the midpoint of the chest and a black strap extends up to the shoulders from that point.

His shoulders have pads over them that extend down to about mid-bicep and are attached via a brown strap under the arm. The sleeves (for lack of a better word) are white with a fairly standard brown glove.

The fabric of the costume doesn't look like the scaled material of
SPIDER-MAN but more of a leather fabric, like something you'd see on one of the X-MEN. Cap wears an old school utility belt, the likes of which we haven't seen much in modern superhero movies.

For the full description, click HERE.

(Thanks Comic Book Movie)

Destroyer Model from Thor Movie

Thanks to Marvel Movies, we have the opportunity to see a model of Thor's Destroyer from the Marvel Studios offices!

Some weeks ago, Latino Review had posted a leaked photo from the Thor movie set in which had our first look at the Destroyer 'armor.'

Now, thanks to Facebook's fan page Marvel Movies! and to Mr. Zante Kry, we have a different look at the Destroyer. The photos are from Marvel Studios' offices in from back in March and...Yes, there is a movie model of Thor's Destroyer!

Enjoy it!

(Thanks Comic Book Movie)