World Magazine, Issue 2.12, March 1998
Animation World News
by Wendy Jackson
Union supporters carried signs and formed a picket line in
front of the new Nicktoons studio in Burbank last month.
Photo © Animation World Network.
Toon Union Pickets Nick. On Monday, February 9, approximately 35 people walked in a picket line on the sidewalk in front of Nickelodeon's "brand spanking new" animation studio at 231 Olive Avenue in Burbank, California. The picketers, comprised mostly of members of several unions under the I.A.T.S.E. umbrella of motion picture-related Union chapters 767, 871, 705, 44 as well as the Motion Picture Screen Cartoonists (M.P.S.C.) Union local 839, were there "to let Nick understand that in Los Angeles, animation is done by union labor," said M.P.S.C. president Tom Sito, who works at DreamWorks Feature Animation. Nickelodeon representatives declined to comment. Nicktoons, a Viacom company, employs approximately 300 people in the Los Angeles studio, which produces animated series such as Angry Beavers, Hey Arnold, Kablam! and Oh Yeah! Cartoons! The M.P.S.C. Union local 839 currently has more than 2,500 members, working at 12 studios including DreamWorks, Disney and Warner Bros.
Perpetrator Posts Private Pixar E-Mail. Richmond, California-based computer animation company, Pixar Animation Studios, has reportedly filed a law suit over an anonymous e-mail message that accurately names some 400 Pixar employees' names, positions, and respective salaries. The e-mail was sent via computer in early February under the name of Pixar CEO Steve Jobs, who has denied sending it. Pixar, a publicly-traded company, is concerned that the message could have a negative effect on employee relations and recruiting efforts. Pixar officials were not available for comment.
L.A. Mayor Brings Industry Execs to China. Eight delegates have been selected to travel to China with Los Angeles Mayor Richard J. Riordan, to promote business development between L.A. and China. Included in the delegation are representatives from several entertainment companies interested in creating original programming for the Chinese market. Among them are Terry Thoren, CEO of Klasky Csupo, Michel Welter, president of international production for Saban Entertainment and Charles Rivkin, president and COO of Jim Henson Productions. With Mayor Riordan and a group of his statesmen, they will travel to Beijing and Shanghai in early March to meet with governmental agencies such as The Ministry of Radio, Television & Film and The Institute of Foreign Affairs, as well as private industry broadcasters. Other industries are represented on the panel by Iwerks Entertainment (themed entertainment), The International Channel (cable TV), Paramount International Television (distribution), Creative Artists Agency (talent), ARCO (energy), Lowe Enterprises (theatres), Bank of America (banking) and Hughes (aircraft).
Zoom Cartoons Entertainment created animated| sequences
for IBM which were showcased at the 1998 Winter
Olympics in Nagano. Image © and 1993 NAOC.
7th Level Alums Form Zoom Cartoons. Two employees of 7th Level Studios have announced their exit and the formation of a new digital animation company, Zoom Cartoons Entertainment. Former 7th Level producer Susan [Deming] Bernstein and vice president of animation Dan Kuenster, have set up shop in Los Angeles. Zoom Cartoons' first project is a spot for IBM which is being presented at the 1998 Olympic Games in Nagano, Japan. The studio is currently in production on a 30-minute animated sequence for Bandai Entertainment's direct-to-video feature based on the Tamagotchi toy, Now Museum, Now You Don't, which will be released this year.
Universal Forays Into Features. Universal Pictures has confirmed the formation of Universal Pictures Animation and Visual Effects, a new division dedicated to developing and producing fully animated feature films, with a particular focus on CGI. Co-heading the division are John Swallow, senior vice president of production technology and former Warner Bros. Feature Animation development executive Doug Wood, who joined Universal in November 1997 as vice president of animation production and creative affairs for the new division. Other than the two executives' assistants, Universal intends to keep the new division a "lean operation," said Swallow. While other major studios have created large feature animation divisions (Warner Bros. or Fox) or formed partnerships with production studios (Disney/Pixar or DreamWorks/PDI), Universal's approach to feature animation is unique in that they will outsource all production work to external companies. Three projects have been announced, all of which are in development: Frankenstein, a remake of the classic horror tale by Mary Shelley, Alien Pet Store, with illustrator Keith Graves and producer John Williams, and Miss Spider, based on the popular children's books by David Kirk. Universal is close to signing a deal with a leading computer animation studio for production of Frankenstein, but no production deals have been announced. Universal expects to have its first film from this new venture ready for release by summer of 2001.
Lee Berger and Deborah Giarratana both recently
joined Blue Sky|VIFX's Los Angeles office.
Musical Chairs. Fox Kids Worldwide will have to wait at least until July 1, 1998 for Rich Cronin to join the company as president and CEO of Fox Family Channel and Fox Kids Network, according to a ruling issued by the New York State Supreme Court. On February 5, a judge ruled that the former MTV Networks executive breached his contract, which ran through June 30, 1998, when he signed a deal with Fox in October 1997 (AF 11/4/97). Meanwhile, Fox is required to pay Cronin under the terms of his prior MTV Networks contract. . . . Blue Sky|VIFX has created two new positions in the company, and has hired executives who will be based in the bi-coastal company's Los Angeles office. Lee Berger has been named vice president, Production [division] and executive producer. Berger's background includes work with Blue Sky|VIFX as a visual effects producer, and with Apogee Productions. In addition, Deborah Giarratana has been hired as vice president, Filmed Entertainment. She was most recently director of marketing for the Feature Film and Theme Park division at Digital Domain, and prior to that she was head of sales and marketing at PDI. . . . Iain Greenaway has been named vice president, creative director of the New York-based broadcast design studio TZ (formerly known as Telezign). He was previously creative director for the BBC. . . . Kenneth Abrams has joined Marvel Entertainment Group as vice president of the company's consumer products division. In this role, he will concentrate on domestic licensing for Marvel's film and TV properties such as Silver Surfer and The X-Men. Previously, Abrams was director of domestic licensing for Viacom Consumer Products. . . . MGM Animation has hired writer Ruth Bennett as executive producer and head writer for The Lionhearts, an animated series to run in syndication this fall. Bennett's credits include live-action TV sitcoms, writing experience which MGM expects to bring an edge to the show, which features characters in the entertainment industry. . . . John Andrews, formerly vice president of animation at MTV Networks in New York, has joined Klasky Csupo Commercials in Los Angeles as executive producer. Also recently promoted to executive producer for the division is Liz Seidman, who has been with the company for three years. . . . Jackie Edwards has been promoted from merchandising manager to producer at London-based Hibbert Ralph Animation, filling a position vacated by Karen Davidsen. Edwards, who joined the studio in 1995, will produce The First Snow of Winter, a half-hour film currently in production. . . . Christopher Oarr has been chosen as the new executive director of the Comic Book Legal Defense Fund (CBLDF), succeeding Susan Alston who resigned in September 1997. He is currently director of the Small Press Expo (SPX) and will begin as director of CBLDF in March 1998. . . . Visual effects supervisor Doug Smith has joined Rhythm & Hues as senior visual effects supervisor. His credits include an Oscar for effects work on the feature film, Independence Day. . . . Hot commodities Trey Parker and Matt Stone, the very "in-demand" co-creators of South Park, have signed a $1.5 million deal with New Line Cinema to write a prequel script to the live-action feature film, Dumb & Dumber.. . . . Curious Pictures' San Francisco studio has signed Holly Edwards as producer and added directors Nick Hewitt and Steward Lee to its roster. Hewitt, 25, graduated from Emily Carr and Sheridan College and joined Curious in 1996 as assistant animator. Lee, 35, is a Cal Arts graduate who was previously an animator at neighboring (Colossal) Pictures. . . . Laura Citron has been named creative director at Crawford Intermedia, not production manager, as was mistakenly printed in AF 1/13/98.
Menken Signs For a Decade at Disney. Eight-time Oscar-winning composer Alan Menken has entered a long-term contract with Walt Disney Studios to compose songs and/or scores for animated and live-action films. Menken has composed music for six Disney animated features: The Little Mermaid (1989), Beauty and the Beast (1991), Aladdin (1992), Pocahontas (1995), The Hunchback of Notre Dame (1996) and Hercules (1997). His four Oscar-winning Disney songs from those films are: "Under the Sea," "Beauty and the Beast," "A Whole New World" and "Colors of the Wind." Menken also composed the score for the Broadway production, Disney's Beauty and the Beast. While the contract is exclusive with Walt Disney Feature Animation for a total of ten years, it does allow Menken the option to compose scores for one non-Disney live-action project every two years.
Margaret Loesch has been named president
of Jim Henson Television Group.
Loesch Joins Henson TV Unit. Margaret Loesch, former CEO of Fox Kids Network, has joined The Jim Henson Company as president of its new Jim Henson Television Group. In this position, she will be responsible for the company's worldwide television operations, including development, production, distribution, acquisitions, video, and a soon-to-be announced general entertainment cable channel. She will report directly to Brian Henson, president and CEO, and Charles Rivkin, COO of The Jim Henson Company. "I've long admired the integrity and passion of the team at the Jim Henson Company," said Loesch. "One of the most gratifying experiences of my career was the six-year collaboration I enjoyed with Jim Henson while we were producing Muppet Babies," she added. Alex Rockwell, previously executive vice president of creative affairs at Henson, will remain with the company in a long-term exclusive consulting and producing relationship. The Jim Henson Television Group will also include Marcy Ross overseeing prime time television, Halle Stanford Grossman heading up children's development, and Angus Fletcher who will be responsible for international television development. "Margaret is a visionary," said Rivkin, "We are confident that having Margaret as part of the team will greatly accelerate the growth of our company on a global basis." Brian Henson added, "There are few people in the television industry who can claim the extraordinary success that Margaret has...Her energy and spirit have been instrumental in shaping today's family television industry."
Simpsons House Winner Found. Ever wonder who won the life-size replica of the Simpsons' family home that we told you about in October? Fox, which built the house as a promotion for the interactive game "Virtual Springfield" and the season premiere of The Simpsons' ninth season, has identified the contest winner. However, Barbara Howard, 63-year-old grandmother of thirteen, doesn't want to move from her farm in Richmond, Kentucky to Henderson, Nevada where the house is located. So, she's opted for the $75,000 that the sponsors have offered instead. Kaufman & Broad, the builder, owns the house until the end of March 1998, at which point ownership will be transferred to Fox and the colorful outside will be painted off-white to match the other homes in the planned suburban development. Fox has not yet decided what they will do with the house. Whatever it's fate may be, our virtual tour of the home, including photos and Quicktime movies, can be viewed in the October 1997 issue of Animation World Magazine.
Rhythm & Hues created 3-D computer animation for the
ridefilm,Race for Atlantis.© 1997 Forum Ride Associates.
Rhythm & Hues Creates 3-D CGI Ridefilm. Race for Atlantis, a new motion simulator ride featuring 3-D computer animation by Los Angeles-based Rhythm & Hues, opened in January 1998 at Caesars Palace in Las Vegas. The largest permanent IMAX attraction of it's kind, comprised almost entirely of animation, Race for Atlantis is housed in an 82-foot dome with the capacity for 108 passengers at a time. Riders wear individual, wireless "E3D" electronic headsets with alternating liquid crystal shutters that, when synchronized via infrared signal with the IMAX 3D projector, produce the illusion of an immersive 3-D environment. Thirty people, including 20 computer artists, worked on the project full-time for 18 months to create the 5,000 frames of film in the 20-minute ride "experience." Rhythm & Hues has created animation for several other motion simulator rides, including Star Trek: The Experience at the Las Vegas Hilton and "Seafari" for Universal in Japan. The Los Angeles-based studio is currently in production on effects for the film Babe II and an interactive "4-D" attraction for Disney's new wildlife theme park in Florida.
Toy Story 2 to a Theater Near You. Walt Disney Pictures has decided to release the sequel to Toy Story theatrically, rather than directly to video as originally planned. The computer animated feature, which began production at Pixar's Richmond, California-based studio in June 1997, will debut in theaters during the 1999 holiday season, and compete against Fox's second animated feature, Planet Ice Since its theatrical release in 1995, the original Toy Story has grossed $360 million worldwide, and sold more than 22 million videocassettes in the U.S. alone. Disney and Pixar also announced the cast of actors who will lend their voices to the computer-animated feature, A Bug's Life, to be released in November 1998: Kevin Spacey, Julia Louis-Dreyfus, Dave Foley, David Hyde Pierce, Bonnie Hunt, Denis Leary, Madeline Kahn, John Ratzenberger, Jonathan Harris, Alex Rocco, Roddy McDowall, Brad Garrett and Phyllis Diller.
Miramax to Release Mononoke. Hayao Miyazaki's top-grossing animated feature Princess Mononoke (Mononoke Hime) will be released theatrically in the U.S. this summer by Miramax Films, a Disney company. The film earned it's spot as the all-time highest grossing film in Japan, bringing in sell-out crowds, long lines at theaters and over $150 million at the box office in Japan in 1997. Although the film is known to contain graphic violence, neither the visuals or the music will be edited by Miramax, per strict distribution agreement with the film's producers, Studio Ghibli. Miramax president Harvey Weinstein said, "With great regard for Mr. Miyazaki, our plan is to maintain the film's unique creative integrity." However, new voice tracks will be recorded for a dubbed English version, and Disney is in talks with several actors for the parts (it has been unofficially reported that Leonardo DiCaprio is being considered for the role of Ashitaka). With this announcement, Miramax joins the alliance formed in July 1996 between Buena Vista Home Entertainment and Tokuma Shoten Publishing Company, which brings selected Japanese films from Tokuma's Studio Ghibli and Daiei Studios (Shall We Dance?) to audiences outside of Asia, theatrically and on video. No official dates for "Mononoke Hime's" release in Europe have been announced, but the film will be screened at the Berlin International Film Festival on February 11.
South Park Feature? South Park, the outrageous (and outrageously successful) animated series created by Trey Parker and Matt Stone is being considered for development as a feature film. A Comedy Central spokesperson confirmed that the project is in very early stages of development and declined to comment further. One of the considerations would be whether the film would be able to exhibit the same R-rated content and language as is contained in the cable TV series, now in its second season on Comedy Central..
Manga Debuts General Chaos. Manga Entertainment's Shorts division has compiled its first theatrical compilation of short animated films, General Chaos: Uncensored Animation. The touring package premiered on February 6 at Cinema Village in New York City. Packaged within animated bumpers by Bardel Animation, the 90 minute program features 20 shorts: Malice in Wonderland (1982), a psychedelic nightmare by Vince Collins, Sex and Violence (1997), a series of vignettes by Bill Plympton, Xerox and Mylar (1995), a clay animation cat and mouse cartoon by Joel Brinkerhoff of Will Vinton Studios, Donor Party (1993), an experimental computer animation by Laurence Arcadias, The Hungry Hungry Nipples (1997) by Walter Santucci, Beat the Meatles (1996) by Keith Alcorn, Body Directions (1987) by Karl Staven, Espresso Depresso (1996) by David Donar, Junky (1997) by Tony Nittoli, Killing Heinz (1996) by Stefan Eling, Looks Can Kill (1994) by Mr. Lawrence, Misfit (1997) by Amanda Enright, Mutilator (1991) a student film by Eric Fogel (creator of MTV's The Head), American Flatulators (1995) by Jeff Sturgis, No More Mr. Nice Guy (1995) by Brad Schiff, Oh Julie! (1995) by Frances Lea, The Perfect Man (1997) by Emily Skinner, Performance Art: Starring Chainsaw Bob (1992) by Brandon McKinney, The Saint Inspector (1996) by Mike Booth and Sunny Havens (A.K.A. Meat!!!!) (1995) by Kathryn Travers. Following the run in New York (2/6-2/12), General Chaos will be screened in Los Angeles (Nu Art Theater, 3/6-3/12), Orange County, California (Port Theater, 3/13-3/19), San Jose, California (Camera Cinema, 3/20-3/26), San Francisco (Red Vic Theater, 4/1-4/7), Santa Cruz, California (Nickelodeon Theater, 4/2-4/6), Salt Lake City, Utah (Tower Theater, 4/10-4/16) and Sacramento, California (4/17-4/23).
Fx Affects. Deep Rising, a live-action underwater adventure film released to U.S. audiences on January 30, features a monstrous animated sea creature created by visual effects and animation teams at Dream Quest Images, Industrial Light & Magic (ILM) and Banned From The Ranch Entertainment. The film ranked sixth in U.S. box office on it's opening weekend, bringing in approximately $4.6 million. . . . Paris-based animation and effects studio SPARX created all of the visual effects for Ma Vie en Rose, winner of the Golden Globe for best foreign film. The film's effects were created with Wavefront's Explore and Dynamation software packages.
Vinton Making PJs For Fox. Will Vinton Studios is starting production on The PJs, a stop-motion puppet animated series created by comedian Eddie Murphy, and being produced by Imagine Television. Writers/executive producers Steve Tompkins (The Simpsons) and Larry Wilmore (In Living Color) are writing the show, which is about life inside an inner city housing project ("The PJs" is short for "The Projects"). Hoping to expand on the success it's had with The Simpsons and King of the Hill, Fox Broadcasting Co. has ordered an initial 13 episodes of The PJs from Will Vinton Studios, and plans to air them as a weekly, primetime series on the Fox network in fall 1999. Will Vinton Studios' Mark Gustafson (Mr. Resistor) will direct at least the first six episodes. Vinton studio heads Tom Turpin and Will Vinton will be executive producers with Murphy. Murphy will also voice the main character, Thurgood Stubbs. In addition to this role, Eddie Murphy is also the voice of a character in Disney's upcoming animated feature, The Legend of Mulan.
UPN To Bring Dilbert To Primetime. Also bringing a new animated series into primetime is U.S. cable network UPN, which just ordered 13 episodes of the animated series, Dilbert from Columbia TriStar Television. Based on Scott Adams' popular comic strip about a hapless, cubicle-dwelling office worker, Dilbert has the "smart, slightly subversive appeal" that UPN hopes will win audiences such as those which have developed for shows like Dr. Katz or South Park on Comedy Central. UPN aims to launch the series in late 1998 or early 1999. Scott Adams, who says readers have been begging him to bring the character to TV, will executive produce the series with Larry Charles, whose writing and producing credits include live-action shows such as Seinfeld and Mad About You. Dilbert is the fastest-growing comic strip in syndication, and is the subject of 13 books, including the best-selling business book of all time, The Dilbert Principle. Dilbert made moves into animation earlier this year in a web cartoon created by Protozoa, and in a series of recent television commercials for Office Depot, created by (Colossal) Pictures.
MGM Reveals Animation Slate. Five-year-old MGM Animation has announced several animated series and home videos which are in production and development. Set to debut in fall 1998 are two animated series: The Lionhearts (13 episodes), based on the MGM mascot and set to be distributed in the U.S. by Claster Television, and Robocop: Alpha Commando (40 episodes) based on the live-action feature, Robocop, to be distributed in the U.S. by Summit Media. International sales for both series will be handled by MGM Worldwide Television Group. On the development slate are the series, Stargate: The Animated Series, The Outer Limits: The Animated Series, It's A Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World and Tiny Tank, all based on existing MGM properties. "These shows are a testament to the diversity that will become the signature of our future in this business," said Jay Fukuto, senior vice president of MGM Animation. Home videos in development include All Dogs Go to Heaven 3, Tom Sawyer, Swiss Family Robinson, The Monkees and Jack the Giant Killer. MGM will release two home videos during the holiday 1998 season: The Secret of Nimh II and An All Dogs Christmas Carol.
Clinton Virtually On MTV. No, its not "Rock the Vote"...it's "Virtual Bill!" After America tuned in to network TV on January 27, 1998, for one of the most-watched State of the Union addresses in history, MTV viewers were treated to a special called, "The State of Music Videos" hosted by a 3-D, animated "Virtual Bill Clinton." The very realistic lampoon was created by San Francisco-based Protozoa, using motion-capture technology to animate a CG-rendered character. "Typically, animated characters are expected to be wacky, eye-popping, tongue-wagging cartoons that use extremes of appearances or action to make them entertaining," said Protozoa's creative director Steve Rein. But MTV wanted Virtual Bill to be believable. Animator Steve Rein added that "photo-realistic humans are extremely hard to achieve in CGI, especially when the subject is such a recognizable figure." Production on "The State of Music Videos" was completed before the media frenzy surrounding Bill Clinton's alleged affair started, so the special did not include topical jokes on the situation which a Protozoa spokesperson noted "isn't funny yet." MTV plans to use Virtual Bill in future broadcasts to respond to current events, live on television.
Will Vinton Studios' Ranch Hand spot for Chili's.
Photo courtesy of Will Vinton Studios.
Spotlight. London, England-based bolexbrothers created a stop-motion animated commercial for Anhauser-Busch. The 30-second spot features a group of partying beer bottles riding in a beer crate car. The animators were Darren Robbie and John Pinfield. Director Dave Borthwick said, "As the ad was all `in camera' action, the main problem we faced was lighting the bottles to look `cold and delicious.' This was achieved by using resin for the cold look and a reflector on each bottle with a lot of overhead light.". . . . Portland, Oregon-based Will Vinton Studios created a 30-second stop-motion animated commercial for Chili's Restaurants, featuring two puppet chili peppers playing music around a campfire. The studio is now completing production on a second spot featuring the animated chili peppers. The agency was GSD&M in Austin, Texas. . . . New York-based studio, The Ink Tank created an animated spot for Osco and Lucky Stores. Titled Words, the 30-second commercial features animated characters and words painted on cels, combined with a photographed "rewards card" from the stores. R.O. Blechman was creative director and Tissa David was director of animation. The agency was Lois EJL in Chicago. The Ink Tank also created a series of animated commercials for the cable network, American Movie Classics (AMC). The retro-styled spots, titled Martini Months, star an animated amphibian named "Louie the Lounge Lizard." The spots, which began airing on February 2, were produced with cel animation and backgrounds created in Photoshop, then shot on film. . . .
Sherbet's Wild Thing spot for The Lord Group.
© 1997 Maurice Sendak.
London-based animation studio SHERBET is in production on three one-minute spots for The Lord Group, based on illustrations by Maurice Sendak. These will join the three spots the studio has already produced for the campaign, under the direction of Jonathan Hodgson. Sherbet worked with London-based post-production facility, The Mill, to develop the delicate color schemes which were shot on film and adjusted in telecine. . . . Toronto-based Spin Productions created Puppet, a 30-second CGI commercial for Midland Walwyn Capital, which first aired during the Canadian broadcast of the Superbowl in January. Depicting a city skyscraper being manipulated like a marionette, the spot was created over the course of four months with computer animation done with AfterEffects, Inferno, Photoshop, Amazon 3D Paint and Houdini. . . . New York-based Brian Diecks Design created Designers, a 15-second spot for Hanes which features an animated basketball and moving type to sell the underwear. Animation for the spot was created with After Effects. . . . New York-based Charlex animated the IBM corporate logo in a series of spots which aired on PBS, during the IBM-sponsored series called Science Odyssey and Sessions. The short ids were created with Flame software and the Quantel Paintbox. . . . Boston-based Loconte Goldman Design created a broadcast design package for the cable network, ESPN's "Speedworld" event. The project includes 11 animated opening sequences which premiered January 17, 1998 at the Walt Disney World Speedway in Orlando, Florida.
Fox Putting $100 Mil. Into Anastasia Video Release. Twentieth Century Fox Home Entertainment will mount its largest promotional campaign ever for the North American home video release of the animated feature, Anastasia on April 28, 1998. The company proclaims that it will invest $100 million on advertising and promotion for the video, the same amount of money that it cost to build the Phoenix, Arizona animation facility that produced the film. "Our independent research shows that purchase intent for Anastasia is among the highest we've ever seen," said Pat Wyatt, who is heading up the campaign for Fox, "In fact, among the core VCR households with children under 11, the positive purchase intent...is higher than The Little Mermaid and Flubber," she added. Promotional partners which are already in place for the video release include Alamo Rent A Car, Continental Airlines, Denny's restaurants, Ramada Hotels and Smuckers [jam], in addition to the 45 + licensees which already have Anastasia-themed merchandise on the market. Each purchased videocassette will also come with a mail-in rebate for a free Anastasia toy. Fox broadcasting companies such as The Fox Family Channel, Fox Kids Network and FX will be enlisted to air television advertisements. Priced at U.S. $26.98, the G-rated, 94-minute video will be available in widescreen and pan-and-scan formats, in English and Spanish. Soon to begin international release, Anastasia has grossed over $56 million in its U.S. theatrical release so far, and, 24 weeks since its release, is still playing in more than 500 U.S. theaters.
The Brave Toaster Returns. Buena Vista Home entertainment will release a new feature, The Brave Little Toaster Goes to Mars on video, May 19, 1998. Inspired by the 1987 film, The Brave Little Toaster, the direct-to-video sequel features voices by Farah Fawcett, Wayne Knight and Carol Channing.
What's Up, Doc-Umentary. On April 7, 1998 Warner Home Video will release Bugs Bunny's Elephant Parade, Bugs Bunny's Funky Monkeys and Bugs Bunny's Silly Seals. All three home videos combine live-action footage of animals introduced by Looney Tunes characters. Each 30 minute tape will be priced at U.S. $9.95.
Disney Sets Dates For Miyazaki And DTV Titles. Buena Vista Home Entertainment (BVHE) will release Hayao Miyazaki's animated feature film Kiki's Delivery Service on home video, on June 22, 1998. Disney acquired U.S. distribution rights to eight animated films by the Japanese director, but Kiki will be the first release. The film, about a young witch seeking her place in the world, will be dubbed in English with voices by Kirsten Dunst, Phil Hartman, Debbie Reynolds, Janeane Garofalo and Mathew Lawrence. BVHE also announced 1998 dates for the second video release of The Little Mermaid on March 31, and new direct-to-video titles, Pocahontas: Journey to a New World on August 4, and The Lion King: Simba's Pride on October 27.
WB On "Quest" For Licensees. Warner Bros. Consumer Products has lined up more than 50 licensees for Warner Bros. Feature Animation's first fully-animated release Quest for Camelot, which will be hitting theaters in June 1998. The merchandising program for the adventure/drama/humor film is aimed at girls age 2 to 11 and boys age 2 to 7. Initial licensees include Hasbro (action figures, dolls, games), CUC Software and Titus Software (electronic games), Fruit of the Loom (apparel) and Applause (plush, figurines). Additionally, Warner Bros. is lining up promotional partners such as Wendy's Restaurants and Kraft Foods.
Yoram Gross is using Animo 2-D animation
software in the production of the animated
series, Skippy's Adventures in Bushtown.
Tools Of The Trade. Alias/Wavefront, a subsidiary of Silicon Graphics which recently premiered a new 3-D animation software package called Maya (see review in February 1998 issue of Animation World Magazine), has announced another new product for creative professionals. "Zapi!t" is a real-time video and audio software engine for use by animators and effects artists to capture, modify and output work directly from the computer. It is, of course, compatible with Maya, as well as PowerAnimator and other Alias programs. . . . . Autonomous Effects has released "Furrific," a new plug-in which facilitates animation of hair, grass, fur and other strand-like effects in MetaCreations' 3-D animation software, Ray Dream Studio 5.0 for Macintosh and PC platforms. . . . .Metacreations has released version 2.1 of Logomotion, software for Windows and Mac which animates logos and text for simple uses, without the use of expensive or difficult production software. Logomotion 2.1 is available for U.S. $99. . . .Yoram Gross-Village Roadshow (Australia), Tele Images (France) and Videal (Germany) are using Animo 2-D animation software in the production of an animated TV series called Skippy's Adventures in Bushtown.
Houdini 2.5 Escapes! Side Effects Software has released version 2.5 of its 3-D animation software, Houdini, and will release a Windows NT version in March. Houdini is used professionally by Blue Sky|VIFX, Sony Pictures Imageworks and DreamWorks SKG. Side Effects is also introducing new motion-compositing software called CHOPs (referring to Channel Operators), which enables animators to manipulate motion-capture data and apply facial animation and lip synch.
Internet & Interactive
A screen shot from Disney Interactive's
© The Walt Disney Company.
Quick Bytes. The Vrml Consortium announced that Virtual Reality Modeling Language (VRML) has been adopted as an international standard by the International Organization for Standardization (ISO) and the International Electrochemical Organization (IEC), which will promote content compatibility among developers producing 3-D content for the Internet. . . . CUC Interactive, parent company of Sierra On-line, Knowledge Adventure, Davidson & Associates and Blizzard Entertainment, has been renamed Cendant Software, a result of the company's December, 1997 merger with HFS Incorporated. . . . Marvel Interactive and Macsoft recently released X-Men: Ravages of the Apocalypse, a Quake-inspired CD-Rom game for Macintosh featuring characters from the "X-MEN" property, which is also a comic and animated series. . . . . On February 3, Disney Interactive released a new Windows/Mac hybrid CD-Rom game based on the animated feature, Hercules. The film was also released on video on February 3. . . . Software Sculptors will release a new Windows/Mac hybrid CD-Rom game, Takeru: Letter of the Law on March 3, 1998. The game is based on manga/anime characters by Buichi Terasawa.
DHIMA Offers CGI Scholarship. The DH Institute of Media Arts (DHIMA) in Santa Monica, California will give four tuition-paid scholarships to its one-year intensive computer animation training program. Valued at $13,200 each, the grants include training in Alias/Wavefront PowerAnimator and Composer software on SGI workstations. Participation is limited to U.S. citizens/residents between the ages of 18-35. Applicants should send a resume, statement of purpose and four drawing samples to DHIMA by March 9, 1998. A panel of industry professionals will select four grant recipients.
For more information, visit the DHIMA web site.
SAS Papers Slate. The Society for Animation Studies has selected 32 presentations for its 10th annual conference, which will take place August 6-16, 1998, at Chapman University in Orange, California.
Scheduled participants and their presentations to date are:
Robin Allan with "Disney's `Make Mine Music:' An End and A Beginning;" Keith Bradbury with "Australian Animation Before Disney in AustraliaHarry Julius;" Alan Bryman with "Theorizing the Early Technologies of Animation;" Rose Bond and Ruth Hayes with "Northwest Animation: The Roots of Creative Variance;" Vicki Callahan with "Animating the Body in the Virtual Landscape;" Alan Cholodenko with "The Illusion of the Beginning, or, In The Beginning Will Have Been the End;" Sybil DelGaudio with "The Hubleys and Human Growth;" David Ehrlich with "The Beginning of `ASIFA Presents' Collaboration Films: Aesthetic and Political Problem Solving;" Pierre Floquet with "From Tex Avery's Debut to the Beginning of His End: Recurring Theme and Evolving Style;" Michael Frierson with "Clay Animation in Interactive Games;" Tarleton Gillespie with "Toy Story and Consumer Culture;" Jeanpaul Goergen with "Puppet Animation Film in Germany From 1915-1945;" Johann Goethals with "The Academy of Ghent: The First Animation Department in Europe;" Jere Guldin with "Puppetoons Screening and Panel on the Future of Stop-Motion Animation;" Robert A. Haller with "Jim Davis: The First Eight Years;" J.B. Kaufman with "Variations in Early Disney Animation;" Wendy Jackson with "Czech Animation Under Soviet Occupation;" Tom Klein with "Tex Avery on Trial!;" Scott Kravitz with "Individual Responsibility and Personal Ethics for Artists;" Rune Kreutz with "Absolute Films and the Consequences of Abstraction;" Mark Langer with "The Freak Show Cultural Tradition in American Animation;" John Lent and Asli Tunc with "Women and Animation in Turkey;" Richard J. Leskosky with "Animation on the Outer Curve;" Gunilla Muhr with "Aesthetic Strategies of the Disney Studio in the 1930s;" Chris Padilla with "The Development of American Animation Festivals;" Nick Phillips with "SIIARA and Bob Godfrey;" Luca Raffaelli with "Death and Animation;" John Serpentelli with "From a Child's Point of View: Animation as an Art Form;" Lynn Tomlinson with "Launching (From) The Quays;" David Williams with "From Cat to Mouse: Sheila Graber, U.K. Animator;" Marcello Zane with "The History of Gammafilm Milano and Their Cartoons During the First Period of Italian National Television, 1954-1970;" and Barbara Fleisher Zucker with "Anna Curtis Chandler: A Storyteller Who Could Keep Them From the Movies."
For more information about The Society for Animation Studies, visit the SAS web site in AWN's Animation Village.
Call for Entries
Ottawa. The Ottawa International Animation Festival (OIAF) is now accepting entries for its 1998 competition program, which will take place September 29-October 4, 1998. Animated films completed after July 1, 1996 are eligible. There is no entry fee and the deadline for submissions is July 1, 1998. In addition to eight existing categories, a new "Interactive Animation" category has been added for animation in multimedia games. Alexander Tatarsky (Russia), Edwin Carels (Belgium), Christine Panushka (USA) and Adam Shaheen (Canada) have been invited to be on the selection committee, which will meet in July to review all submitted films.
For information and entry forms, visit the OIAF web site in AWN's Animation Village.
Sinking Creek/Nashville. The Sinking Creek Film Celebration, which has changed its name to The Nashville Independent Film Festival, is accepting entries for its 29th annual competition until April 3, 1998. Winners will receive cash prizes. The festival schedule will include a presentation by Keith Crawford of Cartoon Network. For entry forms, contact email@example.com
Zagreb Last Call! If you haven't sent your film in already, be reminded that the World Festival of Animated Films in Zagreb is accepting entry forms for its next festival (June 17-21, 1998) until February 1, 1998. The deadline to send films in is March 1, 1998. Zagreb is one of the few festivals which are patronized by ASIFA, offering filmmakers protection against loss or damage to films. For forms and regulations, visit the Zagreb web site, accessible through AWN's Animation Village.
The World Summit On Television For Children will hold its second annual conference, March 9-13, 1998 in London. Aimed at creating a forum for discussion among people involved in children's television, the event will bring together about 1,000 broadcasters, producers, writers, politicians, regulators, teachers, academics and even children, for seminars, panel debates, workshops and screenings. Scheduled participants include Micheline Charest of Cinar Films, Sunil Doshi of Alliance Media, Christopher Grace of S4C, Brian Henson of The Jim Henson Company, Robby London of DIC Entertainment and Michael Rose of Aardman Animations. For information, visit www.childrens-summit.org.
The Second World Summit on Television for Children will be reviewed in the April 1998 issue of Animation World Magazine.
Imagina, a computer conference and festival which is often referred to as the European equivalent to SIGGRAPH, will take place in Monaco, March 4-6, 1998. Scheduled programs include an exhibition of companies, and round table discussions on the topics of "web cast," "agents and creatures" and "digital writing and production." Panel participants will represent companies such as Real Networks, Microsoft, Interval Research Corporation, ILM and Sony Pictures Imageworks.
Imagina `98 will be reviewed in the April 1998 issue of Animation World Magazine.
For registration information, visit the Imagina web site.
Oscar Noms Announced. The Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences announced the Academy Award/Oscar nominees for films made in 1997. The nominees in the Best Animated Short Film category are:
The Mermaid, a Studio Shar production directed by Alexander Petrov.
Famous Fred, a TVC Cartoons production directed by Joanna Quinn.
Redux Riding Hood, a Walt Disney Television Animation production directed by Steve Moore.
Geri's Game, a Pixar production directed by Jan Pinkava.
The Old Lady and the Pigeons, a Pascal Blais production directed by Sylvain Chomet.
The winning film will be announced during the 70th annual Academy Awards ceremony on March 23, 1998 in Los Angeles.
Visit Animation World Network's special <Oscars Report> to read about the films, view Quicktime movies and vote for your favorite film.
Academy Honors Animators. The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences announced this year's honorees for scientific and technical achievement, a category announced in advance of the Oscar ceremony. Honorees were recognized at an awards presentation dinner on February 28, 1998 at the Regent Beverly Wilshire Hotel. Innovators being recognized include Pixar employees Eben Ostby, Bill Reeves and Tom Duff for designing the studio's 3-D computer animation system, and Tom Porter for digital painting. Animation systems developed by PDI and Side Effects Software will also be honored, and Don Iwerks will receive the Gordon E. Sawyer Award.
New York Festivals. The AME International Awards, part of The New York Festivals, were presented on January 23, 1998 at the Marriot Marquis in New York City. Animation category winners include:
International Television and Cinema Advertising, Computer Animation:
Gold: Reebok: Skeleton for Reebok by Garner Maclennan Design (Australia)
Silver: Battery Gim for Panasonic Alkaline Battery by Tohokushinsa Film Corporation (Japan) and Magical World of Disney produced through the agency Pittard Sullivan (U.S.).
Bronze: Orkin Man for Orkin Pest Control produced through the agency J. Walter Thomson (U.S.).
International Television and Cinema Advertising, Non-Computer Animation:
Gold: Toys for Nissan by Will Vinton Studios (U.S.)
Silver: Rocky for Pepsi-Lipton "Brisk" Iced Tea by Loose Moose (U.K.)
Bronze: Stone Family for Culligan International by Grant Jacoby Inc. (U.S.)
International Television Programming and Promotion, Non-Computer Animation:
Gold: Disney Channel Repositioning by Lee Hunt Associates (U.S.) and Sunny Side of Life for Turner Classic Movies.
Silver: The Ambiguously Gay Duo for NBC/ "Saturday Night Live" by J.J. Sedelmaier Productions (U.S.) and Testament: The Bible in Animation: Joseph by S4C (U.K.)
Bronze: Arena: Sci-Fi for XYZ Entertainment c/o Foxtel by Garner Maclennan Design (Australia).
International Non-Broadcast Media, Animated Short Film:
Gold: Redux Riding Hood by Walt Disney Television Animation (U.S.).
Silver: Wat's Pig by Aardman Animations (U.K.) and Loose Tooth by McCaulla Productions (U.S.)
Bronze: not awarded.
<October 1997 issue of Animation World Magazine.>
For more information, visit the <DHIMA web site.>
<February 1998 issue>
<SAS web site> in AWN's Animation Village.
<OIAF web site> in AWN's Animation Village.
<Zagreb web site,> accessible through AWN's Animation Village.
Visit Animation World Network's special <Oscars Report> to read about the films, view Quicktime movies and vote for your favorite film.
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01A, 01B Union supporters carried signs and formed a picket line in front of the new Nicktoons studio in Burbank last month. Photo © Animation World Network.
02 Zoom Cartoons Entertainment created animated sequences for IBM which were showcased at the 1998 Winter Olympics in Nagano. Image © and 1993 NAOC.
03A, 03B Lee Berger and Deborah Giarratana both recently joined Blue Sky|VIFX's Los Angeles office.
04 Margaret Loesch has been named president of Jim Henson Television Group.
05 Rhythm & Hues created 3-D computer animation for the ridefilm, Race for Atlantis. © 1997 Forum Ride Associates.
06 Malice in Wonderland, by Vince Collins, a featured film in Manga Entertainment's debut short film package, General Chaos. © Vince Collins.
07 ged-use the mini version of the 9802 cover as this image.
Virtual Bill, Protozoa's 3-D animated character for MTV was featured on the cover of Animation World Magazine's February 1998 issue. The "Virtual Bill" image is courtesy of and © MTV Networks.
08 Will Vinton Studios' Ranch Hand spot for Chili's. Photo courtesy of Will Vinton Studios.
09 Sherbet's Wild Thing spot for The Lord Group. © 1997 Maurice Sendak.
10A Anastasia comes to video on April 28. © Twentieth Century Fox Home Entertainment.
10B Yoram Gross is using Animo 2-D animation software in the production of the animated series, Skippy's Adventures in Bushtown.
Internet & Interactive:
11 A screen shot from Disney Interactive's Hades Challenge. © The Walt Disney Company.
Note: Readers may contact any Animation World Magazine contributor by sending an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
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