Thursday, May 13, 2010

News - 05/13/10...

Pixar’s Newt cancelled ‎

The Pixar Blog reports that Pixar’s upcoming film Newt has been cancelled. Newt was first announced to media at the Walt Disney and Pixar Animation Studios Animation Presentation in April 2008. The film was being directed by Gary Rydstrom, sound designer and director of Pixar’s 2006 Oscar-nominated short film Lifted and was scheduled for a summer 2011 release.

Ghibli to release Anne of Green Gables compilation film

Anime News Network reports that Anne of Green Gables, a compilation film of Nippon Animation and Isao Takahata’s classic anime series, will open in Japan on July 17. The animated television version of Lucy Maud Montgomery’s Anne of Green Gables novel was directed by Isao Takahata (Grave of the Fireflies, Only Yesterday, Pom Poko) in 1979, a few years before Studio Ghibli was founded.

Chomet/Tati’s The Illusionist reviewed

Calling the film “a specialized but beautiful piece of animation by Sylvain Chomet drawn from an unproduced Jacques Tati script”, The Hollywood Reporter reviews The Illusionist, a “collaboration beyond the grave” between the two filmmakers.

Animag’s Annual Pitch Party Returns!

Got a great idea for an animated project that you need to get in front of the movers and shakers of the business?

Then you need to join in Animation Magazine’s annual Pitch Party!

What is a pitch party? We open up an entire section of our publication (read by more animation decision-makers than any other) to 1/6th page advertisements that pitch new ideas. For less than the cost of a workshop on "breaking into the biz" you can get your great idea in front of our major readers.

Plus, we've enlisted a panel of ten powerful development execs, producers and agents to judge your entries. The Pitch Party winner will receive a chance to pitch the judge of his or her choice and will receive free Pitch Party Participation.

The judges will be some of the most powerful people in the animation industry. Check back with us here in the next few weeks to find out exactly who will be judging this year’s event.

The winner of the Pitch Party gets additional editorial coverage, a chance to pitch their idea to the judge of your choice and the cost of your entry reimbursed. The second and third place winners get editorial coverage. The winners of our staff pick and online readers poll also will get editorial coverage.

To enter, contact our sales staff by phone at (818) 991-2884, Ext. 104, or email at Entry fee is $375 and the deadline is June 7.

Winners will be announced in our August issue, which hits stands around July 1. Winners also will be hyped on our website during the week of Comic-Con International: San Diego, July 22-25.

For more information, go to

(Thanks Animation Magazine)

SIGGRAPH Picks 103 Technical Papers for Presentation

SIGGRAPH has selected just over a hundred papers focusing on technology and advanced techniques for presentation at this year’s conference.

A panel of 49 jurors chose 103 papers from a total of 390 submissions.

"SIGGRAPH 2010 will feature a vibrant field of technical presentations," says Tony DeRose, SIGGRAPH 2010 Technical Papers chairman, from Pixar Animation Studios. "We are most excited by the extraordinary breadth of topics as well as the fascinating achievements in many fields from architecture to photography."

Papers cover core topics such as modeling, animation, rendering, imaging, and human-computer interaction, and also explore related fields of audio, robotics, visualization, and perception.

Based upon the popularity of the program at SIGGRAPH 2009, this year's Technical Papers program is once again expanding to include 33 conference presentations for each paper published this year in the journal ACM Transactions on Graphics (TOG). For the first time in SIGGRAPH's history, the TOG Papers and the Technical Papers will be combined to create sessions with more coherent themes.

A complete listing of all the papers presented in this year's program will be available in late May at:

(Thanks Animation Magazine)

Qubo Adds New-to-U.S. and Classic Series

Qubo Channel has announced a new slate of children’s programming for fall 2010 that includes six United States premieres.

The slate for Qubo, which is a digital cable and internet platform, also will feature a selection of classic animated and live-action series.

The U.S. premiere series are:

The Mysteries Of Alfred Hedgehog: Animated kids’ series with a focus on problem-solving and introducing kids to the world of detective work. Starring a boy hedgehog and his friends who employ a variety of detective skills to solve local mysteries, Alfred is considered to be a super sleuth and enlists his group of animal pals to assist him on his hunts to solve the neighborhood mysteries.

Willa’s Wild Life: This enchanting series is sure to keep viewers in stitches and warm their hearts. Willa talks to the animals and they, in turn, offer her advice on everyday quandries. Comical predicaments ensue but with the help of her loving and patient father, along with her personality-rich zoo animal friends, Willa always manages to stumble into a solution.

Shelldon: This vibrant and amusing animated series follows the adventures of Shelldon, a Yoka Star Shell, and his lively sea-creature friends on their underwater exploits. Although Shell Land is a peaceful community, Shelldon continually finds himself in outlandish situations that require honesty, teamwork, ingenuity and caring for the environment.

Pearlie: Pearlie the park fairy has been assigned to take care of Jubilee Park, and along with her friends, she must make sure everything runs smoothly. The series focuses on the key issues of problem solving and cooperation as kids will see the inventive way Pearlie approaches every park adventure. Pearlie is magic’s unsung hero.

Vitaminix: Animated series of shorts, which help kids learn to recognize healthy foods and healthy habits. In each short, a vitamin, mineral or type of food is explored and its good and healthy properties identified.

Mighty Machines: In this fascinating series about machines, voice-over actors make the machines talk to the viewers, tell them what’s happening, how the machines work, etc. The show combines live footage, friendly and informative characters, dynamic music and delightful humor to capture the imagination of young and old alike.

“We continue our commitment to provide good, fun and entertaining programming on Qubo, where kids and families will always be able to find something to laugh and learn about at the same time,” said Marc Zand, EVP, Digital Networks, ION Media Networks. “We have a great lineup coming up which combines beloved family favorites, classic animation and the U.S. premieres of some of the highest quality kids programming in the world.

Qubo premieres include Scholastic’s Magic School Bus; Animal Exploration With Jarod Miller; He-Man And The Masters Of The Universe; She-Ra, Princess Of Power; Brave Starr; and Ghostbusters (Animated).

(Thanks Animation Magazine)

Promotion Gives Spike’s Levy Animation Oversight

Sharon Levy has been promoted to the job of executive VP of original series and animation at Spike TV.

The former senior VP of original series, Levy will oversee production and development for all of Spike’s original series with a particular mandate to expand the company’s original animation slate.

"We're thrilled to have Sharon in this key original programming role,” said Kevin Kay, president of the network. “She has been instrumental in bringing top-flight talent to Spike. Her ability to connect with the Spike viewer has resulted in developing many of the network’s top rated series. Now we look forward to developing original animation using her talents for our guy-centric audience.”

Levy joined Spike in 2005 and has overseen the development of such series as Deadliest Warrior, Pros vs. Joes, 1000 Ways to Die, MANswers, 4th and Long, DEA, MXC and the highly successful weekend afternoon auto-related shows, The Power Block.

Prior to joining Spike TV, Levy was executive VP of programming and executive producer at Stone & Co. Entertainment. Levy has also produced programs for Fox, WB, Comedy Central and MTV. She also has worked as director of public relations at Comedy Central and senior publicist at Sci-Fi Channel.

(Thanks Animation Magazine)

Moonscoop Reorganizes its U.S. Office

Moonscoop Entertainment has announced it is reorganizing its business as it looks to grow its animation work-for-hire business.

The reorganization follows executive chairman Nicolas Atlan’s move from Paris to Los Angeles to head up the company’s United States operations. He will work with co-CEO Mike Young on developing work-for-hire projects while president Liz Young heads up production in the United States studio.

Also, principal and co-CEO Bill Schultz will be stepping down from day-to-day studio management, but will continue to executive produce three of the company’s current projects, including the hit Cartoon Network series Hero:108, Rob Dyrdek’s Wild Grinders and The DaVincibles.

Schultz will be non-exclusive to Moonscoop, but will have a first-look deal with the company on new projects where there is an opportunity for the company.

“With offices in both the U.S. and Europe, we are maximizing the potential of our business, exporting ideas, expertise and partnerships across the Atlantic, in both directions,” says Atlan. “We have a very talented and experienced U.S. team and believe there is a timely opportunity to expand our work-for-hire activities working with high-profile partners, as we have with Skechers on Zevo-3.”

(Thanks Animation Magazine)

Voice role earns Kitt posthumous Emmy nomination

"The Penguins of Madagascar," "Disney Phineas and Ferb," "The Wonder Pets!" and "Fanboy and Chum Chum" each has been nominated for four Daytime Emmy Awards, organizers announced Wednesday.

A posthumous nomination was given to Eartha Kitt for her voice work on The Wonder Pets!. Kitt died on Christmas Day 2008 at 81.

The Fairly Odd Parents, Fetch! With Ruff Ruffman, Hot Wheels Battle Force and WordGirl each is up for three awards.

Between The Lions, The Mighty B!, Sid The Science Kid and Spongebob Squarepants each has been nominated for two.

For Outstanding Children's Animated Program, the nominees are WordGirl, The Backyardigans, Curious George and Sid the Science Kid.

Nominees for Outstanding Children's Animated Program are SpongeBob SquarePants, The Penguins of Madagascar, Ni-Hao, Kai-Lan and Sid the Science Kid: "Getting a Shot: You Can Do It"!

Outstanding Performer in an Animated Program nominees are WordGirl (Ed Asner as Kid Potato), The Wonder Pets! (Eartha Kitt as Cool Cat), The Mighty B! (Amy Poehler, as Bessie Higgenbottom) and Arthur (Phillip Seymour Hoffman as William Fillmore Toffman).

Series nominated for Outstanding Directing in an Animated Program are The Mighty B!, SpongeBob SquarePants, The Penguins of Madagascar and Fanboy and Chum Chum.

For Outstanding Individual Achievement in Animation, the nominees are: Dave Thomas, Storyboard Artist, The Fairly Oddparents: "Dadbracadabra"; Caesar Martinez, Background Layout Designer, Fanboy and Chum Chum: "Chimp Chomp Chumps"; Steve Lambe, Character Designer, Fanboy and Chum Chum: "The Janitor Strikes Back"; Adrian Thatcher, Art Director, Willa's Wildlife: "Willa Set the Stage/Willa in the Wilderness"; and Peter De Seve, Character Designer; Sesame Street, "Abby's Flying Fairy School."

Shows up for Outstanding Writing in Animation are WordGirl, Fetch! With Ruff Ruffman: "Season Four is Canceled," The Fairly Oddparents, Back at the Barnyard, The Penguins of Madagascar and Disney Phineas and Ferb.

The 37th Annual Daytime Emmy Awards will be telecast live June 27 on CBS from the Las Vegas Hilton.


Wild time-lapse photography of the volcano by Sean Stiegemeier.

(Thanks, Saschka Unseld)

(Thanks Cartoon Brew)

Chris Sanders and Dean DeBlois Star in H-P Spot

Animators treated as celebs is a novelty that doesn’t get old so it’s good fun to see How To Train Your Dragon co-directors Chris Sanders and Dean DeBlois mug for the camera in this commercial for Hewlett-Packard, alongside Rhys Darby of Flight of the Conchords. Other commercials in the campaign feature Annie Leibovitz and Dr. Dre.

(Thanks, Ryan Matias)

(Thanks Cartoon Brew)

Ghibli’s Tales from Earthsea gets US release

Disney has just announced that it will theatrically release Goro Miyazaki’s Tales from Earthsea (Gedo Senki) in the US on August 13th under its Touchstone Pictures banner. This marks the second fully animated feature to be released under that label — the first being Tim Burton’s Nightmare Before Christmas (Who Framed Roger Rabbit, another Touchstone picture, was live-action/animated).

Hayao Miyazaki’s son, Goro directed this adaptation of Ursula K. Le Guin’s Earthsea novels in 2006. The film was held up from US distribution due to an existing non-compete arrangement with Sci-Fi Channel, over their live action mini-series based on the same material. The voice cast in Disney’s dub includes Timothy Dalton, Willem Dafoe, Cheech Marin and Mariska Hargitay.

(Thanks, Liam)

(Thanks Cartoon Brew)

Above Then Beyond

In 2005, a group of students at ESRA made a short film called Above Then Beyond. It has just surfaced on the internet and is worth a look. It sorta reminds me of another film… can’t think of the title. Can you?

Read more about the controversy at You Thought We Wouldn’t Notice.

(Thanks, DeK via Milk and Cookies)

(Thanks Cartoon Brew)

Winners of Stuttgart Festival of Animated Film

Last Sunday the 17th Stuttgart Festival of Animated Film announced its winners. I’ve seen about half of the films on the list, and it’s a very strong line-up. It encourages me to see so much excellent animation being produced nowadays, even if virtually none of it is made in the US. The Grand Prix was awarded to Joseph Pierce’s A Family Portrait (view a clip here). Pierce’s graduation short, Stand Up, left an indelible impression on me when I saw it a couple years ago and it’s exciting to see him pushing his style further. His work transforms the clunky rotoscope technique into a striking and artful form of personal expression that proves the viability of the technique when placed in the hands of a gifted artist.

The Lotte Reiniger Promotion Award for Animated Film was won by David López Retamero for his Royal College of Art short Sam’s Hot Dogs. Again, it’s not online, save for this tantalizing clip.

One of the award-winning films at Stuttgart that is available online is Nina Bisyarina’s A Trip to the Seaside, a beautiful and sensitively drawn piece of animation hailing from Russia:

The Norwegian short Sinna Mann (Angry Man) by Anita Killi took home the Audience Award. Here is its trailer:

In the student category, a special mention went to Lebensader by Angela Steffen, which has a full website with clip at When I was on the Ottawa jury last year, we awarded her film the festival prize for graduate animation. She was also an animator on Andreas Hykade’s film Love and Theft which was featured on Cartoon Brew a few days ago.

The top student prize belonged to Parade by Pierre-Emmanuel Lyet, an exercise in graphic minimalism:

(Thanks Cartoon Brew)

Buy the Home of a Disney Legend

The home of Disney Imagineering legend Fred Joerger is currently on the market for just under half a million dollars. It’s located in Lake View Terrace, a short drive to Burbank. Putting his Imagineering background to good use, Joerger designed and built the home himself, and hired color stylist Walt Peregoy (101 Dalmatians) to create Roman style-sculptures, and Disney artists Travis Johnson and Tyrus Wong (Bambi) to create hand-painted ceiling murals. More details and photos at this real estate website. If you buy the place, please remember to invite me over for the housewarming party.

(Thanks, Dave Thomas)

(Thanks Cartoon Brew)

Disney Income, Revenues Rise in Latest Quarter

Second-quarter operating income at the Walt Disney Company rose 15% to $1.8 billion from the same period a year ago, the company said today. Revenues rose 6% to $8.6 billion.

For the six months ended April 3, operating income rose 12% to $3.3 billion, and revenues rose 4% to $18.3 billion.

Results at the conglomerate's five operating units were mixed, with its studio operations benefiting from the strong performance of Alice in Wonderland and Iron Man 2 even as income fell at its Parks and Resorts division and stayed flat at Media Networks.

For the three months ended April 3, revenues at its signature Studio Entertainment division rose 6% to $1.5 billion, and operating income jumped to $223 million from $13 million. For the six month period, revenues rose 3% to $3.5 billion and income soared to $466 million from $200 million.

Revenues at its television operations rose across the board to $2.4 billion from $2.2 billion in the same quarter last year, but operating income was unchanged at $1.3 billion as lower advertising revenues and higher programming costs at ABC-TV offset stronger results at ESPN. For the six month period, income rose 4% to $2.0 billion on a 7% increase in revenues to $8.0 billion.

Lower attendance at the company's Parks and Resorts unit offset higher ticket prices, leading to a 12% decline in operating income to $150 million. Revenues rose 2% to $2.4 billion. Disney blamed the drop in attendance on the unfavorable timing of New Year's and Easter holiday periods. For the six month period revenues rose 3% to $1.3 billion and operating profits fell 5% to $525 million.

Disney's acquisition of Marvel led to a 20% jump in revenues and a 37% jump in income at its Consumer Products division, which recorded quarterly revenues of $596 million and income of $133 million. For the six month period, revenues rose 6% to $1.3 billion and operating income rose 4% to $376 million.

Losses in Interactive Media narrowed in both periods, to $55 million in the second quarter and $65 million for the year. Quarterly revenues rose 20% to $155 million but six month revenues fell 15% to $442 million. The company credited the improved results to higher subscription revenues from Club Penguin and lower video game inventory costs.

Toy Story 3 Dances With the Stars

What do Toy Story 3 and Dancing With the Stars have in common? (please be nothing, please be nothing….) They planned a dance sequence for the film together (ugg). Well, I know I’m in the minority group that doesn’t like all of these dancing shows, but so long as there’s no sequins or idiot celebrities involved, I guess I can watch:

“The Men Who Would Be King” recalls the bad old days when Disney, DreamWorks & Pixar used to brawl

Jim Hill reviews Nicole LaPorte’s account of how Steven Spielberg, David Geffen and Jeffery Katzenberg tried (and failed) to change the entertainment industry

Given that we now live in the age of DreamWorks 3.0, with Walt Disney Studios distributing the films that Steven Spielberg and Stacey Snider will soon be producing, it’s kind of hard to remember the bad old days. When Jeffery Katzenberg was …

… out to deplete Disney’s talent pool. He flattered Disney animators shamelessly and offered money – mid-six figure salaries, in line with what only Disney’s top animators received. Bonuses, in some cases, neared the million-dollar mark. DreamWorks dangled long-term contracts – as opposed to the usual per-picture contracts – and promises of profit sharing.

But Nicole LaPorte’s “The Men Who Would Be King: An Almost Epic Tale of Moguls, Movies, and a Company Called DreamWorks" (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, May 2010) brings that whole amazing era roaring back to life. Which isn't all that surprising. Given that she wrote for both Variety and the Los Angeles Times during the 1990s, LaPorte had a front row seat for that period when Steven Spielberg, David Geffen and Katzenberg tried to transform the movie business by creating this multi-media megalopolis.

Copyright 2010 Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. All Rights Reserved

But their plans to build a “studio of the twenty-first century” in Playa Vista got tripped up by environmentalists. And Katzenberg’s plans to turn DreamWorks Animation into this Saturday morning titan fell apart when The Walt Disney Company bought Capital Cities / ABC in August of 1996. As Nicole recounts in almost excruciating detail, Steven, David & Jeffery’s plans to change the industry were thwarted at almost every turn.

“But why should a Disneyana fan want to pick up a book about DreamWorks?,” you ask. Well, where else are you going to get a definitive accounting of which came first: the story idea for “Antz” or the story idea for “A Bug's Life”?

As LaPorte tells this story, Jeffery & John Lasseter were initially very close. In fact ...

Copyright 1995 Disney / Pixar. All Rights Reserved

… When (Katzenberg) was at Disney, he’d negotiated the distribution deal between Disney and Pixar, and he was the only one at Disney who believed (Toy Story) wasn’t a lost cause when other executives were arguing that it be scrapped. After one early viewing, when the film was universally declared a “mess” by both Disney and Pixar executives, Katzenberg lobbied on behalf of the film, suggesting that one way to salvage it would be to rework the relationship between the film’s two main characters, the cowboy Woody and the space-toy Buzz Lightyear, so that they were buddies. Katzenberg had urged Pixar creative head and his team to watch some of the most iconic buddy movies of all time: 48 Hours with Nick Nolte and Eddie Murphy, and The Defiant Ones, the 1958 classic starring Tony Curtis and Sidney Poitier.

When Katzenberg segued to DreamWorks, he kept in touch with the Pixar gang, keeping them separate from Disney – at least at first. When Lasseter and Andrew Stanton, an artist and screenwriter on Toy Story, traveled from Pixar’s base in Emeryville, California, to L.A. to do postproduction work on Toy Story, they stopped by Katzenberg’s new office at Amblin. The meeting was friendly, and Katzenberg chatted about what DreamWorks was up, asking in turn what Pixar had in the hopper. Lasseter and Stanton told him about a bug movie – a humorous, reverse twist on the Aesop fable about ants and grasshoppers, in which, rather that the lazy grasshoppers learning from the industrious ants, the ants were the victims, forced to liberate themselves from the tyrant grasshoppers who steal their food every year. When Katzenberg asked when the film would be released, Lasseter said Thanksgiving of 1998. Katzenberg noted that that was when Prince of Egypt was scheduled for release.

Copyright 1998 DreamWorks Animation. All Rights Reserved

During one expedition to PDI, Katzenberg announced DreamWorks-PDI’s debut production. The project had been pitched by Nina Jacobson, a live-action executive at DreamWorks, who sold Katzenberg on the idea of making an ant movie, specifically: “a noncomformist in a world of conformists – and the lead would be Woody Allen.” After Katzenberg described the project, there was a confused silence. Everyone in the room was well aware that Pixar was at work on A Bug’s Life. Finally, one PDI employee raised his hand and addressed the elephant in the room.

“Um,” he began. “Does it bother you that Pixar’s also doing a movie about ants?” he asked.

Katzenberg didn’t skip a beat. “No!” he said with a mixture of diplomacy and force. “In fact, I think it’s great, because ours is gonna be better!”

When the news got back to Pixar, Lasseter was shocked. Feeling completely betrayed, he picked up the phone ...

Copyright 1998 Disney / Pixar. All Rights Reserved

What happened after John picked up that phone? To find out the rest of that story – or, for that matter, why Walt Disney Studios wound up releasing DreamWorks’ live-action films – you’re going to have to pick up a copy of Nicole LaPorte’s eminently readable “The Men Who Would Be King.”

Behind the Scenes: Iron Man 2 Suit Design

Take a look at this in-depth video showcasing the making of the suits used in Marvel Studios' superhero sequel Iron Man 2.

Courtesy of SpiderMedia, here is a behind the scenes featurette from Legacy Studios which highlights the making of the new suitdesigns used for Iron Man 2; including the deconstructed Mark II armor, nicknamed the "autopsy suit."

MPP - That first shot of the Mark IV, V and VI scaled armor statues... yeah, I want that in my living room.

(Thanks Comic Book Movie)

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