Animator Michel Gagné will be releasing the first issue of ZED, his new comic series, this coming September. ZED is an ongoing comic book story featuring an alien on an intergalactic adventure full of twist and turns. "This is an all-age book, but it has a strong edge to it. Without taking myself too seriously, I want to make this an epic, and run the full gamut of emotions," says Gagné.
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As part of a stated goal to offer the most powerful console, PC and online gaming experiences, Microsoft has unveiled a series of new action-adventure, strategy, sports, sci-fi, fantasy and simulation games for Xbox, the PC and Zone.com. "We're committed to creating world-class PC and Xbox video game system games that excite the imaginations of all game players," said Ed Fries, vice president of the games division at Microsoft.
Activision has announced the release of two new Marvel superhero titles for the Game Boy Color. SPIDER-MAN 2: THE SINISTER SIX and X-MEN: WOLVERINES RAGE, both carrying a suggested retail price of $29.99, have already begun shipping to stores in North America. SPIDER-MAN 2: THE SINISTER SIX and X-MEN: WOLVERINE'S RAGE feature the same superhero action that turned these Marvel characters into legends," said Larry Goldberg, executive vice president, Activision Worldwide Studios.
Following on the success of Boomerang in the U.K., Cartoon Network will launch a similar programming block in Spain on June 2, 2001. Cartoon Networks Spanish channel will begin airing Boomerangs four-and-a-half-hour of classic cartoons every Saturday and Sunday. The block will include PIXIE AND DIXIE, ATOM ANT, HONG KONG PHOOEY, HUCKLEBERRY HOUND and YOGI BEAR. Turner Broadcasting launched the Spanish service of Cartoon Network in 2000.
The 28th Annual Daytime Emmy Awards were presented on May 18, 2001 by the National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences. Emmy Awards are presented to daytime television programs that are broadcast nationally between the hours of 2 a.m. and 6 p.m.
In association with the International Critic's Week at the Cannes Film Festival, monsieurcinema.com awarded the first award for Best Web Film at Cannes 2001. The seven films in competition were: CUB by Steve Whitehouse, Canada; GOTCHAAA! by Eric Gosselet and Fabien Brandily, France; IN A GROVE by Hiroyuki Watanabe, Japan; LE SECRET MINCEUR by Stéphane Ricard, France; MARCELLE (episode Les Plaisirs De La Route) by Guillaume Joire, France; THE BIRTH OF STAINBOY by Tim Burton, USA; and THE SVUOTCHER by Flavio Della Rocca and Mattia Pasquini, Italy.
A six-page, 36-panel storyboard from the 1928 Walt Disney cartoon PLANE CRAZY, which marked the first ever appearance of Mickey Mouse, is back on the auction block after failing to sell at auction this past May 19, 2001. The storyboard had been part of an extensive collection of cartoon and comic book art being auctioned to raise funds for the International Museum of Cartoon Art in Boca Raton, Florida. Sale of the storyboard, valued at somewhere between $3.2 million - $3.7 million, was put on hold after the identity of the individual behind an online bid of $800,000 could not be verified.
Take-Two Interactive Software, Inc. has announced record net sales and cash flow for its 2001 second quarter ended April 30, 2001. Net sales for the quarter increased 33% to $93.3 million compared with $70.0 million for the same period a year ago.
Exploding into the top spot at the box office this Memorial Day weekend was Buena Vistas PEARL HARBOR, which made a triumphant nationwide debut, grossing $75.1 million. The 3-hour, action-packed movie is set during the time of the Japanese bombing of Pearl Harbor, where two friends (Ben Affleck and Josh Hartnett) are caught up in the events that draw the United States into World War II. DreamWorks' CG-animated film SHREK more than withstood the heavy bombardment, slipping down one notch from first to second with $54.2 million during its second weekend.
On May 8, 2001 Argus International Film Studio signed an agreement with Germanys MC-One to produce THE NUTCRACKER AND THE MOUSE KING, a 70-minute animated film based on the well-known fairy tale by Hoffmann and ballet by Tchaikovsky. Directed by Tatiana Ilyina, the Russian version of the animated feature will be available at the end of 2002. The 3-minute pilot copy for THE NUTCRACKER AND THE MOUSE KING was awarded the World Gold Medal for best animation at the 1999 New York festivals and was in official selection at Annecy 2000.
Toon Boom Technologies has announced the release of ToonShader, the latest addition to the USAnimation system. ToonShader lets Alias|Wavefront's Maya users import their 3D models and motion capture data directly into USAnimation, giving animators the ability to bring a 3D flair to their 2D animation as well as ouput to all media platforms including the Internet. "Alias|Wavefront is very pleased to welcome USAnimation and ToonShader to the family of integrated plug-ins available for Maya," said Tom Reyburn, developer relations manager for Alias|Wavefront.
Hoping to ride the coattails of the popular CBS television series, CBS Consumer Products and Infogrames have announced SURVIVOR: THE AUSTRALIAN OUTBACK INTERACTIVE GAME for the PC. Slated for a Fall 2001 release, the game is currently under development by Magic Lantern Playware, a creative business unit of Gold Creek Technology. The game features the real-life cast from the SURVIVOR television series, in-depth character interaction, immunity challenges, tribal councils and other elements from the show.
Denmark's Egmont Imagination and A. Film are developing a TV series based on the successful Danish theatrical feature film HELP! IM A FISH. HELP! I'M A FISH is a 3D/traditionally animated film about a trio of kids who after becoming transformed into fish race time to find a way to become human again before it's too late. A. Film partner Stefan Fjeldmark wrote and co-directed the film with Michael Hegner. Fjeldmark was nominated for an Oscar for his work on the short WHEN LIFE DEPARTS. When HELP!
Universal Studios Hollywood has launched a live, interactive musical and comedy adventure, based on the new DreamWorks computer-animated feature SHREK. Shrek Live is scheduled for weekend performances through June 16, 2001, followed by daily performances through Labor Day weekend. Set on a renaissance faire-themed stage, the 20-minute live performance, which includes elaborately costumed SHREK characters, invites guests to participate as one of many popular fairy tale characters, including the THREE LITTLE PIGS and SNOW WHITE AND THE SEVEN DWARVES.
Italys Digital Video S.r.l., developers of the 2D animation package Toonz, has started shipping the new 4.5 release for the Windows NT/2000, Irix and Linux operating systems. The new version of Toonz provides a number of new features, including Flash support, a new palette extraction tool, native support for new scanners, DDR to VCR control, new effects, a new wizard button to make batches more efficient and others.
Warner Bros. Online has announced the launch of ZETA QUEST 3D, a "walk-through" online video game based on the popular Warner Bros. Animation's series THE ZETA PROJECT. Players assume the identity of Zeta, an anti-terrorist synthoid who has escaped government operators and gone in search of Dr. Selig, the scientist who created him. Classified as a high-tech menace-at-large, Zeta is pursued by his captors while trying to clear his name.
Further strengthening the company's conceptualization and implementation of brand development and expression, head of creative services Elaine Cantwell announced the addition of three members to 3 Ring Circus' creative team. Enhancing the well-established creative capabilities of 3 Ring Circus, the addition of designer Dan Garcia and animators Josh Graham and Steven Dudeck will provide the company with greater flexibility and a broader perspective within the constantly evolving world of brand development.
The 34th annual WorldFest, The Houston International Film Festival, concluded on April 28, 2001. This year, the festival received more than 4,300 total entries, with all animation categories receiving over 30 entries each. Ray Pointer, president of Inkwell Images, Inc., received the Gold Award in the entertainment category for his documentary, MAX FLEISCHER'S FAMOUS OUT OF THE INKWELL. This is Pointer's third win in a row, having won the Gold, Silver and Bronze awards for producing the successful KEN SOUTHWORTH ANIMATION INSTRUCTION series.
Gerry Legros has been appointed vice-president / head of production at Calibre Digital Pictures. After earning a television broadcasting degree from Mohawk College, Gerry became floor director and cameraman for CityTV's weekend news team. He juggled this dual role with a position at Magnetic North as a videotape operator for two years before a brief stint at Command Post. He then spent six years at Dome Productions as supervisor of the central equipment room, wrangling gear for a variety of departments.
ATTIK directed and designed the live-action, graphics and an end tag for Periwinkle and In Your Face, a pair of 30-second spots for Philadelphia, Pennsylvanias Earle Palmer Brown and Comcast Corporation. Periwinkle began airing in Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Maryland and the Midwest in mid-April, and In Your Face in mid-May 2001. These are the first two spots in an evolving campaign.
Glassworks, a London post-production house, has recently completed work on a commercial for American car legend Cadillacs new Escalade sports utility vehicle. The commercial showcases Glassworks skills in 3D modeling and animation in some explosive action sequences during a high-speed chase with missiles. The smoke effects were created using Glassworks' own smoke effect plugin which was integrated into Mental Images' Mental Ray. The plugin has the capability of adding an unlimited amount of smoke trails to any 3D scene and can be fine-tuned to create a precise look.
Cambridge Animation Systems has announced Animo for Mac OS X, Apple's next-generation operating system. Animo integrates 2D and 3D animation for development of feature films, animated television series, commercials, games and multimedia projects. "Mac OS X's UNIX-based foundation, advanced Internet features and stunning graphics capabilities make it an ideal platform for digital animation production," said Ron Okamoto, Apple's vice president of worldwide developer relations.
Visual effects house Foundation Imaging, in conjunction with Tribune Entertainment, Microsoft and Fasa Corporation, has announced a deal to develop and produce a one-hour live-action adventure series based upon the hugely successful MECHWARRIOR franchise. Over its fifteen-year history, MECHWARRIOR, also known as BATTLETECH, has been adapted to video games, board games, location-based entertainment centers, books and other entertainment mediums.
Havas Interactive, a subsidiary of Vivendi Universal Publishing, has changed its name to Vivendi Universal Interactive Publishing (VU Interactive Publishing). The company is comprised of two operating divisions, Vivendi Universal Interactive Publishing North America (VU Interactive Publishing NA) and Vivendi Universal Interactive Publishing International, each of which is charged with directing the sales, distribution and operating activities in its respective region.
Disney has announced the signing of a licensing deal with Kellogg Company, the worlds leading producer of cereal and convenience foods. Available nationwide beginning in May 2001, the adventure of Disney's ATLANTIS: THE LOST EMPIRE will come to life through Kellogg's licensed cereal, free package inserts, free mail-in offers and interactive Website. Atlantean Diving Water Toys will be available in 25 million packages of Kellogg's range of products. A "Search for the Journal," ATLANTIS: THE LOST EMPIRE prequel CD-Rom mail-in offer will appear on 75 million Kellogg's cereal packages.