On February 13, 2001, the European Union organized in Stockholm for an expert seminar on Children and Young People in the New Media Landscape. One of the main topics in the discussions was Sweden's European initiative for banning television commercials aimed at children. The European Union has a rotating presidency system, where every member country controls the administration for a half-year term. As current leader, Sweden has placed the matter of TV ads on the top of the EU agenda for this term.
SimEx Digital Studios has wrapped on a new Kellogg's Froot Loop spot, which launches Toucan Sam and his mischievous nephews into space. SimEx provided 2D and 3D animation, compositing, editing, as well as live-action shots for the 30-second commercial. "Rocket" has Toucan Sam and his three nephews propelling themselves into space in a primitive looking rocket. Shane Zalvin, Roberto Casale and Holger Leihe created the cel animation, with help from cel assistant directors Charlotte DeBlock and Ingin Kim. Digital ink and paint was completed at SimEx using the Toonz system.
In celebration of Valentine's Day, Wild Brain has created a new spot for Hershey's, which has the famous Kisses candies blushing. Directed by Carl Willat, the commercial features two silver wrapped Hershey's Kisses as one kisses the other, its wrapper turns red and their tags embrace. The spot was animated in Softimage and rendered in Mental Ray with compositing done in Henry.
Sesame Workshop has announced that they have named Nancy Steingard to the new post of senior VP of creative development and have promoted VP of development Julian Scott to the position of VP of European operations. Steingard will oversee talent deals, the building of production and broadcast relationships and expanding the firm's new media options. Prior to her new job, Steingard was an executive VP at Universal Family Entertainment. Scott will head up a new London office, where he will oversee the company's actions in the European market, including projects with Granada and the BBC.
Dennis Hoffman has been promoted to vice president and head of visual effects for Cinesite. Since joining Cinesite as an executive producer in 1998, Hoffman has supervised the production of more than 1,500 visual effects shots on 65 projects including such films as RED PLANET, DEEP BLUE SEA, MESSAGE IN A BOTTLE and THIRTEEN DAYS. Prior to joining Cinesite, Hoffman was a producer and subsequently vice president/executive producer at Dream Quest Images, where his producing credits included CRIMSON TIDE, the Imax film ASTEROID ADVENTURE and the series EARTH 2, for which he earned an Emmy.
Alias|Wavefront is celebrating due to the fact that their award-winning 3D animation system Maya was used to create the top four selling December 2000 titles for the PlayStation 2. Research by PC Data Inc. shows Electronic Arts' MADDEN NFL 2001 leading the list of top-sellers with SSX: SNOWBOARD SUPERCROSS (EA) second, TEKKEN TAG TOURNAMENT (Namco) third, and NHL 2001 (EA) fourth. All of these titles were developed by companies using Maya for the creation of game graphics such as characters, environments and effects.
Screamline Rendering Services, provided by Intel's Internet Computing Services, is offering the 3D animation and visual effects community a special trial of their Web-based rendering services and project management software. Those wanting to take advantage of this free trial offer can download a copy of the JobAnalyst management tool from the Screamline Website. Then, at no cost, rendering projects can be uploaded and artists can enjoy free rendering services for the first 1000 frames of their work. Robert J.
Digital Film Tools has released Composite Suite 1.5, a comprehensive set of special effects plug-ins for Avid Editing Systems and Adobe After Effects. Composite Suite includes 14 effects plug-ins that were until recently, only available in-house at Digital FilmWorks. It features selective color correction, matte generation, natural lighting effects, as well as specialized tools for combining imagery such as fire, smoke and explosions.
The Academy of Motion Pictures Arts & Sciences has announced their nominations for the coveted Oscar award. Receiving nominations for best animated short were Michael Dudok de Wit's lyrically elegant FATHER & DAUGHTER, Steffen and Annette Schaffler's moody puppet film THE PERIWIG-MAKER and Don Hertzfeldt's humorously chaotic short REJECTED. GLADIATOR, HOLLOW MAN and THE PERFECT STORM all received nods for best visual effects. Surprisingly absent from the F/X nomination list was Disney's $150 million-plus budgeted DINOSAUR.
ADV Films is releasing two new volumes of SALIOR MOON on February 13, 2001. "Red Hearts & Silver Crystals" and "Introducing Sailor Jupiter" both contain never-before-released episodes. Each tape holds four episodes and will retail for US$12.98 each.
Central Park Media is releasing AGENT AIKA: FINAL BATTLE on February 13, 2001. While on vacation, Aiko is seduced by a master manipulator and she must fight to retain her freedom. The film is from the creator of the PROJECT AKO series, Katsuhiko Nishijima. An English dubbed version will sell for US$19.99.
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CAST AWAY is still holding strong at the international box office. In Germany, the desert island adventure rounded up another $3.73 million, escalating its cume to $21.46 million. VERTICAL LIMIT climbed into second with a gross of $1.84 million, raising its German cume to $4.34 million. In third, BEDAZZLED seduced $1.4 million, bringing its German cume to $4.49 million. THE LEGEND OF BAGGER VANCE made its German nod in fourth with a gross of $663,408. At #8, CROUCHING TIGER, HIDDEN DRAGON collected $477,415, pushing its German cume to $2.35 million.
After last week's impressive 9.8 rating, THE SIMPSONS slipped this past week, finishing in 41st place with an 8.2 rating/12 share. Its Fox Sunday night animation cohorts, KING OF THE HILL and FUTURAMA, took #73 and #79 respectively. KING garnered a 5.5 rating/9 share and FUTURAMA grabbed a 4.6 rating/8 share. The rest of the primetime animated fare, CELEBRITY DEATHMATCH, GARY & MIKE and THE PJS finished in the cellar all tied for 111th place, with a 1.5 rating/3 share.
Add one more name to the long list of the dotcom dearly departed. Z.com has announced that on Friday, February 16, 2001 they will be closing their doors for good. This move comes only a week after Icebox.com closed down an entertainment site that was in talks to merge with Z.com. The entertainment Website had high-profile backers such as Basic Entertainment, 3 Arts Entertainment, IdeaLab!, producer Jerry Bruckheimer and Maverick Records partner Guy Oseary. The demise of the company is a result of declining ad revenue and a weak syndication market.
Go to AWN's Feature Film Release Database to see the first glimpses of Hayao Miyazaki's next film...
Plympton's new series of comics is extracted from the comic book "Polls Apart - How To Tell A Democrat From A Republican," by Kathy Paton & Bill Plympton...
HANNIBAL, the sequel to the Oscar-winning best picture SILENCE OF THE LAMBS, has slashed U.S. box office records on its way to claiming first place in its debut weekend. The cannibalistic cavalcade, with primary visual effects by Mill Film, ate up US$58 million, making it the all-time highest grossing opening weekend for an R-rated film. The blood-thirsty thriller also claimed the highest opening for a film release in January through April, beating out the re-release of STAR WARS. Still improving after 10 weeks in U.S.
Debuting in April, TwoMorrows Publishing is launching its new quarterly magazine entitled, DRAW! Edited by Mike Manley, DRAW! is a professional "how-to" magazine for comics artists, cartoonists and animators. The first issue features articles by Dave Gibbons, Jerry Ordway, John Costanza, Shane Glines and many other pros sharing tips and tricks. The magazine will feature demonstrations ranging from penciling and inking techniques to coloring, lettering, storyboarding, Photoshop skills and more. Bret Blevins designed the cover for the first issue.
Santa Monica, California's Anthropics, Inc., a computer graphics software company, is looking for a PRODUCTION USER/ENGINEER and a SENIOR PRODUCTION ENGINEER to deliver production material using the company's proprietary software. . . Beverly Hills, California's Batia and Aleeza Hair Salon is looking for a GRAPHIC/WEB DESIGNER to update the salon's Website. . . Woodland Hills, California's BlackMarket Productions is looking for a CHARACTER ANIMATOR for animation short & series pilots. . .
North Carolina-based SouthPeak Interactive, a former SAS subsidiary that produced computer games, has spawned Alternate Route Studios, a new F/X house. Originally created to produce proprietary technology that promoted "feature film quality" gaming, SouthPeak transformed into Alternate Route after its core technology was sold off last year. Executive director Susan Ellis said, "We are aiming our sights on national spots and features. As part of a proof of concept, we pitched to produce SAS' first national campaign.
CrazyTalk is Reallusion's flagship software, allowing the user to transform text into personalized voice messages with synchronized lip movement and dozens of facial expressions, using either clip art or personal photos...
Visual effects supervisor Dennis Berardi and Toronto-based TOPIX/Mad Dog's Chris Wallace and Sylvain Taillon have launched Mr. X, Inc., a studio providing computer generated visual effects for feature entertainment. The new partnership will combine TOPIX's artists with Berardi, former visual effects supervisor of Toybox, supplying the ideas and directing. Berardi's F/X supervising credits include THE CELL, FIGHT CLUB, EXISTENZ, KEEPING THE FAITH, SUPERSTAR, THOMAS AND THE MAGIC RAILROAD, JASON X and BRIDE OF CHUCKY.