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Cartoon Forum: The Future of CARTOON & Cartoons

Karen Raugust investigates a Purdue University research project using 3D animation and virtual reality to teach math concepts to hearing impaired school children.

Although Cartoon just held its 17th forum in Pau (above), the future of the conference and the Cartoon organization will be discussed during the next few months. All Cartoon Forum images courtesy of Cartoon.

The future shape of Cartoon Forum and all aspects of the Cartoon organization the European Association of Animation will be under discussion during the next few months.

Cartoon was originally set up in Rome after a meeting in 1989 of 60 European animation producers and broadcasters. The first Cartoon Forum was then staged the following year and has since become an essential element of the European animation calendar with the 17th Forum having just taken place in Pau in the French Pyrenees.

Now it is felt that the industry and its technical horizons have changed so much that the time has come for a second animation summit. This will be staged in November with representatives from all member states of the European Union meeting in Bavaria.

We felt it was time to organize a meeting to re-assess the business. Things are changing so fast the market has changed very much even over the past two years, said Cartoon director Corinne Jenart.

The Cartoon Forum aims to accelerate the time taken by producers to move from concept to production by providing a means to present new projects to broadcasters, distributors and other potential buyers in a series of presentations. A first step was taken this year to improve the overall standard of presentations by reducing the number of selected projects from 72 to 60. Of these, 25 reported that financing would now be complete in the short-term representing a total budget of 100 million in successful series.

Another first this time was the inauguration of the Cartoon Tributes three awards voted by the participants. Broadcaster of the year was BBC Childrens (U.K.), distributor of the year was Icon Animation (Spain) and producer of the year was A Film (Denmark).

The Forum is definitely making it easier for European producers to make animation I really dont know what the business would have been like without Cartoon Forum, said A Film director Karsten Kiilerich.

The Forum inaugurated Cartoon Tributes. Voted by participants. Broadcaster of the year was BBC Childrens (U.K.), distributor of the year was Icon Animation (Spain) and producer of the year was A Film (Denmark).

Animation is hugely important to us we find that the access to ideas that we get here is unparalleled, added BBCs Jesse Cleverly.

The closing evening also saw the award of this years Cartoon DOr to Joanna Quinn of the U.K. for her short film Dreams and Desires Family Ties. The jury of Didier Bruner (France), Michael Dudok de Wit (U.K./Netherlands) and José Miguel Ribeiro (Portugal) made their selection from nominees put forward by animation festivals throughout Europe in the past year.

The most popular projects pitched in terms of attendance were Pocket Rockets from Millimages (France/U.K.) and Toons N Tales (Germany), Bingo Bongo from Lobster Films (France), JetMedia (Latvia) and Sofidoc (Belgium), Jeremy from Futurikon (France), High Spy from Alphanim (France) and The Annoying Thing from The League Of Good People (Germany) and Kaktus Film (Sweden).

Bingo Bongo was presented by Serge Bromberg of Lobster Films also artistic director of the Annecy Film Festival. Its a wild 26x6 series of animal gags in the tradition of Tom and Jerry or Loony Tunes. Directed by Frederico Vitali, it has already been picked up by Frances Canal + and looks certain to go into production soon. Total budget is 1.5 million.

This years Cartoon DOr went to Joanna Quinn of the U.K. for her short film Dreams and Desires  Family Ties.

Following the same fast-paced format for a broad audience was Scratch and Sniff from A Productions in the U.K. The quick-fire adventures of a cat and a dog who thinks hes a cat has been specifically designed for iPod and mobile phone distribution as well as for TV.

Another short-form hot property was The Annoying Thing based on the ubiquitous Crazy Frog ringtone star. The pilot features some excellent CGI animation that makes this series of 52x1 look like a done deal.

Xilam (France) joined with Castelrosso Films (Italy) to pitch Rahan an epic comedy/adventure series set in a pre-historic world. Based on a classic French comic created by Roger Lecureux, it is set some 35,000 years ago in a land of exotic animals, lush valleys and warring clans, where hero Rahan sets out on a quest to see all of those who walk upright live in peace. Two broadcasters, France 3 and RAI, are already signed up for the 2D/3D series.

Pre-school projects were especially well represented this year and one of the strongest was Jo and Jack from Irish company Ikandi. Strong illustrations by creator Corrina Askin translated to a fresh-looking style that combines hand-drawn backgrounds with Flash character animation. It tells the story of a boy and a cat who set off on wild adventures in their own back yard. Buyers were jumping for a slice of the action in the 26x5 series, which is budgeted at 1.5 million and already has the support of Five in the U.K. and TG4 in Ireland.

Ugly Duckling and Me represents a new trend in producing a CGI series and feature film at the same time. Producers Magma Films and A Film each presented a new series/movie package. © 2005 A Film, Magma, Futurikon, Ulysses.

Gabriel The Little Short-Slighted Snake was another show with original designs this time from the Estonian studio of A Film. The 26x13 format explores the world of reading with a short-sighted snake and a young boy in the jungle. If they wish hard enough then characters from their books will appear right there in the jungle.

Welsh company Calon launched its new 26x10 pre-school stop-motion comedy Ig. Thats the name of a little cave-girl with an adventurous spirit and a dinosaur for a pet. Calon was set up last year when Robin Lyons and his creative team left Siriol a well-known studio throughout the history of Cartoon Forum.

Preschool work is far from just producing something creative and cute, said Lyons. Its about developing characters and scenarios that youngsters can relate to and empathize with based on their own limited lifelong experiences and understanding. The parameters of a young childs world are limited and Igs prehistoric playground is a reflection of this.

The new trend for producing a CGI series and feature film at the same time continued with a couple of new projects at Cartoon Forum. Magma Films (Ireland) and A Film (Denmark) worked together on the recently completed Ugly Duckling and Me using the format. This time they each presented a new series/movie package.

Magma teamed up with Europool to present Bug Muldoon the insect populations own Bogart-style private eye at the bottom of the garden. A Film teamed with Mikisoq Media to pitch Mikisoq a story of Arctic life and traditions told through the eyes of a Greenlander boy.

And then to round it all off was the madness that is Petteri Pasanen and his Finish studio Anima Vitae, following up last years Leningrad Cowboys pitch, with his latest Human Being News. Based on existing anarchic Finish characters Pommi the Cat and Gommi the Rabbit, the show takes an offbeat look at the human world and rounds off with karaoke. The whole thing links in with a website that allows kids to load their own pictures to the show.

Next year, Cartoon Forum moves on to the medieval Spanish town of Girona close to Barcelona from Sept. 19-22.

Bob Swain is an animation scriptwriter based at Sidewinder Films in the U.K. He has attended every edition of Cartoon Forum since it began in 1990.

Ron Diamond is the president of AWN and the owner of animation production house, Acme Filmworks.