Director JC Wegman has completed work on two 1-minute, 30-second animated segments for the NBC pilot "Payback." The animation was produced at Acme Filmworks in Hollywood, California. "Payback" is the American version of the Italian show "You Get What You Deserve," which targets heartless individuals in unfriendly professions and subjects them to vicious pranks. Wegman created animation for two practical jokes, "Towing Yard" and "Parking Enforcement," orchestrated by radio personality Tim Conway Jr. The special will air on NBC, January 2 from 8-9 p.m. (EST and PST).
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Comedy Central is helping animation fans ring in the New Year with a four-episode "South Park" marathon running from 10 p.m. to 12 a.m., followed by a countdown to midnight from "South Park." The four "kick ass" episodes are fan favorites chosen by viewers through Comedy Central's web site. Alternately, animation fans in the U.K. can celebrate with BBC2's line-up of animated New Year's programming. Two episodes of Aardman Animations' "Rex the Runt" will air New Year's Eve (December 31) at 2:20 and 2:30 p.m. followed by the "The Old Lady and the Pigeons" at 3:20 p.m.
France's Annecy Festival Director Jean-Luc Xiberras died on December 26, 1998 at 57 years old after a long battle with illness. The Mayor of Annecy, the festival President & Board and the festival staff unanimously saluted his courage and determination for continuing to be a force in the festival's operation during his term of illness.
"Kirikou et la Sorciere" ("Kirikou and the Witch") is a new 70-minute classically animated film by Michel Ocelot released in France on December 9, 1998. The film is about Kirikou, a tiny little boy, who's born in a small African village which has been put under a spell by the flagitious witch, Karaba. Kirikou is determined to set his languishing village free from the clutches of Karaba. The film features music composed by famous African singer/composer Youssou N'Dour.
Imagine having your geeky yearbook photo digitally altered, animated, and then broadcast all over the world. "Mrs. Munger's Class," a segment that airs on ABC's top-rated children's programming block, "Disney's One Saturday Morning," is based on this very concept. Every week, a new short segment brings a page from a school yearbook to life, using computers to superimpose moving lips and caricature the facial features of the fictional Mrs. Munger and her students resulting in humorous and nonsensical conversations.
Atomic Vision Animation and Tub Studio have premiered their first episode of the innovative and stylish on-line animated comic book at www.jonninitro.com. The animated series follows the adventures of Jonni Nitro, an English superspy and heroine living in the near future. The animation is viewable using an Internet browser (i.e. Navigator, Explorer) and Macromedia's Flash 3.0 plug-in. "We've worked hard to create a new style of on-line animation," says Alex Ogle, Atomic Vision founder. "There has never been animation this realistic on the Internet before."
Animation World Network will be publishing a special NATPE edition of theAnimation Flash. Please send all your NATPE-related news and press releasesto firstname.lastname@example.org. Please put "NATPE News" in the subject area of youre-mail.
The box office was bustling this Christmas holiday weekend with DreamWorks' "The Prince of Egypt" and Disney/Pixar's "A Bug's Life" holding their own against many new live-action releases including "Patch Adams," "The Faculty" and "Stepmom." "Prince of Egypt" dropped two places from second to fourth; however, the film saw a 5% rise in business grossing $15.3M for a grand total of a little over $40M. "A Bug's Life" saw a 1% jump in totals despite being taken off more than 300 screens. The film finished seventh with $10.1M and has now grossed $114.6M in six weeks.
The United States Postal Service (USPS) has announced that Sylvester and Tweety were the most popular stamp of 1998. Over 37.9 million commemorative stamps of the bird and cat duo were saved by collectors. The USPS measures a stamp's popularity by the number saved - not used - through quarterly surveys sent to American households. The Postal Service issues 40-45 billion stamps in an average year, the majority of which are intended for day-to-day usage. Other top stamps included the Celebrate the Century sets from the 1900s, 1920s and 1930s, as well as the Classic Movie Monsters stamp set.
The results are in from the 20th Festival Internacional del Nuevo Cine Latino Americano, which took place in Havana, Cuba, from December 1-11, 1998. All the films in competition were from Latin American countries. The following awards were given out for animated entries:
ANIMALS ON 64 ZOO LANE. Germany-based ZDF Enterprises, a subsidiary of ZDF German Television Network, and French animation producer, Millimage, are set to co-produce 64 Zoo Lane, a 13x10 minute series for children ages four to ten. The show, which will be ready in August 1999, uses illustrator An Vrombaults painterly animation style to create a colorful world of animal characters. A different animal stars in each episode and recounts his or her own story to Lucy, the little girl who lives next to the zoo.
(Colossal) Pictures completed two 10-second Christmas IDs for Nickelodeon. The stop-motion Yummy Winter Wonderland features gingerbread people frolicking in a set made entirely of food with white frosting substituting as snow. A Weenie New Year is a brief New Years extravaganza hosted by a live-action puppet band leader Lawrence Weenie and his swingin Big Band of Weenies. Jim Matison was the director/creative director for these holiday spots.
New York-based J.J. Sedelmaier Productions produced a series of four 30-second ink-and-paint cel style spots for Hallmark Greeting Cards through the Leo Burnett agency: The Fight, Birthday, Rowdy Party, and Romance. This project is animation in its purest sense, giving life to inanimate objects - the alphabet, says director J.J. Sedelmaier, whose animators worked only with the signature typographical treatment of the Hallmark name and the famous crown. The campaign debuted in September.
J.J. Sedelmaier recently completed a simple 30-second spot, Filenes Turkey, promoting Filenes Basement annual charity Giant Turkey Giveaway. The spot used a stark black-ink-against-white-background style to feature a spokes-turkey who grows fatter and fatter each time the cash register rings until it fills up the entire screen. Director J.J. Sedelmaier commented about the ad, Filenes Turkey is a simple spot thats stylistically reminiscent of old black-and-white cartoons where personality carries the day over artistry.
Puffin Designs, the producers of the award-winning compositing system Commotion, recently introduced Knoll Lens Flare Pro Conductor for Alias|Wavefront Maya Composer. The new version, developed by John Knoll, a Visual Effects Supervisor at Industrial Light and Magic, will give users the ability to create realistic sunflares, lasers, flames, bursts, explosions, and "photon torpedoes," among other effects. The plug-in is already available for Adobe After Effects, Adobe Photoshop, ElectricImage, and Discreet Logic Flint/Flame/Inferno.
UPN has ordered thirteen episodes of "Home Movies," a new half-hour primetime animated sitcom from Tom Snyder Productions, the producers of Comedy Central's "Dr. Katz: Professional Therapist" and ABC's Saturday morning series, "SquiggleVision" (aka "Science Court"). The series will be done in the producer's trademark production technique, "SquiggleVision" which is also used on Snyder's other shows. Tentatively scheduled to premiere in April, comedian Paula Poundstone, Brendon Small, and H.
Acclaim Entertainment has released the highly-anticipated "South Park" video game for Nintendo 64 with a PC version that will be available in January 1999. The adventure game features original dialogue recorded by Matt Stone, Trey Parker, and Issac Hayes and can be played in a single or multi-player mode. The game unfolds as a mysteriously evil comet approaches South Park causing much mayhem. It is left up to Kenny, Kyle, Stan and Cartman to save the day. All the perennial "South Park" characters pop up throughout the game including Mr. Hankey, Chef, Terrance and Phillip, and Big Gay Al.
Hibbert Ralph Animations The First Snow of Winter will premiere in the U.K. on BBC1 on Christmas Day, December 25, at 4:40 p.m. The half-hour animated special from director Graham Ralph features the voices of Miriam Margolyes, Sorcha Cusack, and the late Dermot Morgan. The film follows the tale of Sean, a little Irish duck who becomes separated from his parents and misses the annual migration south. Thus, he is left alone to face the hostile climate of the bitter Irish winter. The special also airs in the U.S. on the Disney Channel on December 23 at 7 p.m.
San Francisco-based (Colossal) Pictures created a new animated Nickelodeon theatrical open, which premiered with Paramounts The Rugrats Movie, and stars Slap D. Pooch, a blue-balloon-nosed dog who was featured in his own short film as part of Nickelodeons Oh Yeah! Cartoons! series. The 16-second open, Slaps Fleck, was directed by Colossals Charlie Canfield, creative directed by George Evelyn, and animated by Chuck Gammage Animation based on a character created by Bill Burnett and designed by Vincent Waller.
Chris Wedge, one of the founders of Blue Sky Studios (now Blue Sky | VIFX), has released his personal film, "Bunny." The seven-minute computer-animated film utilizes "radiosity," an advanced computer rendering technique, a relative of the ray-tracing technology, that mimics subtle properties of natural light. The three-year project was written and directed by Chris Wedge, produced by Nina Rappaport, with music by singer/songwriter Tom Waits.
This year's final and quite possibly, most anticipated, animated feature, DreamWorks' "The Prince of Egypt" debuted this past weekend at number two with a respectable but not stellar $14.5M. While DreamWorks reps blame the impeachment proceedings, the White House affair didn't seem to have much effect on the strong $18.4M number one opening for the live-action Tom Hanks/Meg Ryan film, "You've Got Mail." It is too early to make any guesses on the success of DreamWorks' 'Prince' and the next few holiday weeks will be integral in determining the film's profitability.
San Francisco-based Wild Brain has completed an in-house seven-minute short film called A Dog Cartoon, featuring a highly-energetic dog who faces many perils as he attempts to recover his coveted bone.
Hong Kong-born animation director and illustrator Paul Chung completed a French bubblegum spot, "Rainforest," for Passion Pictures through Young and Rubicam (Paris, France). The ad takes place in a brightly colored South American jungle setting as Indian natives watch their jungle being destroyed by an army of loggers. To thwart the loggers, a native opens a pack of Malabar bubblegum and from the pack jumps the superhero Malabar Man who proceeds to block the bulldozers with gum. The 30-second spot which combines traditional 2D with computer animation, will air in France starting in 1999.