German production/rights buyer Helkon Media has acquired a 51% share in Dutch animation and merchandising house Rubinstein Media. Rubinstein founder and CEO Maurits Rubinstein will remain as head of the company. This move comes on the heels of Rubinstein and Helkon subsidiary Peppermints formation of a 50-50 joint children's television animation house entitled, Pepperkids.
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At Pixar, Renderman NT is shipping, making the popular rendering software used in most visual effects films available to a much larger user base. However, Larry Gritz, developer of BMRT (available for download at www.bmrt.org/), the shareware rendering software most recently utilized in HOLLOW MAN and THE CELL, and co-author of ADVANCED RENDERMAN: CREATING CGI FOR MOTION PICTURES, is no longer with Pixar, though the hope is BMRT development will continue.
At the Ottawa International Animation Festival, Animation Toolworks introduced a completely new electronic audio-video device for animators, the LunchBox Sync. The LunchBox Sync is a successor to their Video LunchBox, which enables animators to test their work in progress instantly and eliminate time-consuming errors by monitoring pacing, lighting, audio synchronization and registration. The LunchBox Sync captures still images from a video camera and plays back this sequence of images at the same rate as film or television.
Due to microchip shortages, Sony has decided to cut its October 26, 2000 U.S. shipment of PlayStation 2 next generation gaming consoles by half. However, Sony states that this delivery change will not affect the projected amount of units in North America by the holiday season. 500,000 consoles will ship to 20,000 stores in North America then Sony will roll out 100,000 units each week thereafter. "We will be able to supply a flow of products, instead of a huge initial spike," said Kaz Hirai, COO of Sony.
Taking place from September 20-24, 2000 in Visby, on the island of Gotland, Sweden, the 11th Cartoon Forum awarded its coveted Cartoon dOr prize to Portuguese director José Miguel Ribeiros A SUSPEITA (THE SUSPECT). An international jury comprised of Stefan Fjeldmark (Denmark), Jacques-Rémy Girerd (France) and Thilo Rothkirch (Germany) determined the award.
ANGRY KID, the love-or-loathe-him ginger-haired horror from the home of WALLACE AND GROMIT, has proved so popular even the Internet isn't big enough for him. The SUNDAY TELEGRAPH paper reports that the Aardman Animations character is to make the move to television. At present, there are twenty-five different Webisodes, each about a minute long, available on the AtomFilms Website. The character is played by an actor shot frame-by-frame (pixelation), wearing one of Angry Kid's four hundred masks. The series was launched exclusively online on May 8, 2000.
Foresight Marketing & Design Ltd., a marketing and consulting firm in Eastern Canada, has recently created a new division, Foresight Animation Studio. The toon house offers traditional animation and graphics as well as other creative services like Website design. Animation director Roger Foucault (also the creative director of Foresight's marketing firm) brings full traditional and classical animation training skills to the studio and hopes to see their company establish long-term business relationships with others. For more information contact Foresight at: P.O.
ZDF Enterprises has announced the creation of a new subsidiary, ZDF.new media. Based in Mainz, Germany, ZDF.new media will be run by recently appointed Peter Lang, president of marketing and sales, and Dirk Max Johns, president of content and multimedia products. The duo, with a staff of ten, will develop and grow the companys Websites www.zdf.msnbc.de and www.adf.de. "The foundation of ZDF.new media marks an important milestone for the future development of the ZDF-Group," said Alexander Coridass, president of ZDF Enterprises.
SGI, once the forefront graphic workstation provider, is trying to regain past success, by recently acquiring Intergraph, releasing Open Source Inventor and embracing Linux. The company is hopeful this approach to open source will lead to more interest in SGI's software portfolio. The Intergraph acquisition will allow SGI a more competitive stance in the PC workstation arena. The hope is these moves will lead to a viable turnaround path for further success and profitability. To learn more about SGIs products visit their Website.
On Tuesday, September 26, 2000, the board of governors of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences established a new Oscar awards category for best animated feature. The first award could be presented as early as the 74th Annual Academy Awards in March 2002. The category will exist only in years that have eight or more films deemed eligible for the category. To be eligible, an animated feature must be at least 70 minutes in length, "primarily animated" and meet the other general requirements for feature film eligibility.
Despite a negative recommendation by the negotiating committee, the members of Motion Picture Screen Cartoonists and Affiliated Optical Electronic and Graphic Arts, Local 839 IATSE, have ratified a new collective bargaining agreement. The contract includes higher increases in minimum rates (8% in the first year, 4% in the second year, 3% in the third), higher health and pension contributions for freelance animation writers and storyboard artists, and a new framework for screen credit arbitration.
Alleged plans by Universal to release as many as 65 episodes of the original X-MEN animated series on video has landed them in court. Saban Entertainment Inc. and Fox Childrens Network have filed suit against Universal Studios Home Video in an attempt to block the release of the videos and DVDs. The suit claims that, Universal has the right to produce one video containing three episodes of the X-MEN series per broadcast season in the U.S. and holds only international rights to the entire 65-episode library.
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HOLLOW MAN holds on as WHAT LIES BENEATH makes top notched debuts in France and Brazil. The Harrison Ford starrer scared up US$3.26 million in its French premiere. SPACE COWBOYS fell to second with a gross of $1.51 million, escalating its French cume to $3.56 million. Falling from second to finish in fourth, GONE IN 60 SECONDS raced in with $1.28 million, advancing its French cume to $13.31 million. Slipping one to sixth, U-571 surfaced another $706,419, lifting its French cume to $1.83 million.
In conjunction with the Ottawa International Animation Festival, ASIFA held its general assembly and the election of its new executive board. Abi Feijo of Portugal was voted president and said that ASIFA is at a turning point where he hopes to redefine ASIFA`s goals and priorities. Marco de Blois (Canada), Sayoko Kinoshita (Japan), Andy Wyatt (United Kingdom) and Antran Manoogian (USA) were voted in as vice presidents. Vesna Dovnikovic of Croatia will serve as secretary general and Pierre Azuelos of France as treasurer.
Red Sky, an interactive solutions provider, announced the acquisition of Olive Jar Studios, a Boston and Los Angeles-based animation and film production studio, and White Noise Productions, a Los Angeles-based full service multimedia firm. "A concept we believe strongly in is 'applied entertainment,' which means that our solutions transcend mere functionality and bring emotion to interactive experiences delivered across all media, from narrow to broadband platforms and devices," said Bill Bingham, chairman and CEO of Red Sky.
The Writers Guild of Canada (WGC) has finalized a new two-year collective bargaining agreement with domestic producers, which now covers animation scribes. This conclusion ends 18-months of negotiation between the WGC, Canadian Film and Television Production Association and its Quebec counterpart, lAssociation des Producteurs de Films et de Television du Quebec (APFTQ). The new Independent Production Agreement (IPA) sets out minimum workplace requirements for Canadian film and TV writing. The long unprotected Canadian animation writer is finally covered under the new plan.
Quiet Man created the chip bouncing effects in the new Doritos commercial featuring Miami Heat basketball point guard Tim Hardaway. Phalana Dias was the lead visual effects artist on the spot. Entering a corner store, Hardaway is observed by an awestruck young fan, who watches the star purchase a bag of Doritos 3Ds, a new pyramid shaped chip. Following Hardaway into the street, the pair engages in a trick-shot-type competition, using chips instead of basketballs. "For Dorito's 3Ds, the chips were shot on rigs in the studio," explained Dias.
a.k.a. Pizazz has rapped on three spots for a new campaign for Sanatogen vitamins. All three spots state that we are all aware by now that a healthy diet is the best way to stay fit, but a vitamin supplement is a reassuring way of maintaining the healthy balance, "Just To Make Sure." "Baby Monitor," "Passport" and "Alarm" were done in a 2D painting style. "Baby Monitor" shows a mother, in spite of the presence of her monitor going to check her child. "Passport" shows a family group going on holiday and the mother constantly checking in her handbag for the passports.
AtomFilms and German carmaker Volkswagens U.S. division have sealed a content deal which will send AtomFilms shorts to vw.com. Aardman Animations ANGRY KID will be among the shorts aired on Volkswagens Website. As part of the deal, Volkswagen will be one of the sponsors of AtomFilms upcoming college promotional tour. The deal marks a prime opportunity for AtomFilms to get mass offline exposure for its content and brand.
According to the new issue of the trade magazine ANIMATION UK, a range of new TV productions are in preparation in Britain. HAMILTON MATTRESS is a "stop-frame comedy drama" about an Aardvark and his caterpillar companion. The director is Barry Purves, celebrated director of films including NEXT and SCREENPLAY, while the writers are John Webster and Anna Farthing. The film will be made by Harvest Animation, commissioned by BBC1, with global TV/video rights handled by Link and Egmont Animation.