THE UNIVERSITY OF SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA (USC) has hired Internet developer MARK PESCE to head up a new department in the School of Cinema-Television devoted to interactive media. Pesce is cited as being the person who developed Virtual Reality Modeling Language (VRML), the programming code that enables real-time interactivity on the web. He is also co-founder, with Jan Mallis, of an Internet content company called blitcom. Pesce designed the certificate program in 3D Arts at San Francisco State University's College of Extended Learning, and has been teaching at the college level since 1995.
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Paris, France-based Gaumont Multimedia and Hamburg, Germany-based IGEL Media have reached a multi-year, multi-million dollar first-look distribution agreement giving IGEL all television and home video rights on future Gaumont Multimedia animated series for Germany, Scandinavia, Japan and Korea. The deal, sealed at MIPCOM, reflects both companies' need to address the increased competition and decreased number of broadcast slots available in Germany and Asia.
DreamWorks Pictures and PDI's computer animated feature film, "Antz" grossed $11.2 million last weekend, dropping to third place in the box office charts, following its first two weeks in the number one spot. The total cumulative box office gross to date is $51.5 million, and the film is currently running in 2903 theaters nationwide. "Antz" will make its international debut starting in New Zealand and Australia on October 29.
On October 13, Columbia TriStar Home Video released "Buster & Chauncey's Silent Night," a direct-to-video animated musical based on the true story of "Silent Night." The 48-minute film was produced by Buzz Potamkin and is Columbia TriStar's first in-house direct-to-video animated feature. Voice talent, directed by Susan Blu, includes the late Phil Hartman, Tom Arnold and Marie Osmond.
Buzz Potamkin has been named to the board of directors of Visionary Media LLC, a New York-based company that develops online content. Potamkin is president of an independent animation consulting firm, Project X, through which he will now explore opportunities for Visionary Medias web properties, such as WhirlGirl, to reach additional media including film and television animation. Since founding Project X in 1996, Potamkin has just completed production of the direct-to-video title Buster & Chauncey's Silent Night for Columbia Tri-Star Home Video.
A new three-year agreement between the Screen Actors Guild (SAG), representing voice-over performers working in television animation, and the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers (AMPTP), representing 108 television animation producers, has been approved by the Guilds National Board of Directors. The deal is a final version of one that was announced in August [AF 8/11/98], when it represented only 60 animation producers, and was still pending approval by SAG member performers.
San Francisco-based WILD BRAIN, INC. has launched its first of a multi-spot animated campaign for Kentucky Fried Chicken (KFC) restaurants. The Young & Rubicam campaign, which combines 2D and 3D animation with live-action, introduces "The Colonel," KFC's new animated spokesperson, new KFC products and a new overall look for the fast food company.
Ellipsanime, Canal +s Paris-based studio that produces the animated series, Corto Maltese, has hired MARIE-PIERRE MOULINJEUNE as deputy director for international development and co-productions. She will supervise the development and production of animated films and TV series, and report to vice president Robert Réa. Moulinjeune was previously in charge of coordinating animated co-productions for Télé-Images, and prior to that she was head of program acquisitions for France 2.
Animation historian Marcin Gizycki has begun production on a 30-minute documentary film about animator Jan Lenica, a Poland native whose credits include animated shorts such as Janko the Musician (1960), Labyrinth (1962), and several films with Walerian Borowczyk. After teaching in Kassel and Berlin, Germany for the past 20 years (and stints working in France and the United States), Lenica has returned to Poland where he is currently making a 30-minute film called Wyspa R.O. (The R.O. Island), with Studio Miniatur Filmowych.
THE GREENBLATT JANOLLARI STUDIO, a Los Angeles-based production company, has signed ERIC FOGEL, creator of the MTV animated series Celebrity Death Match and The Head, to develop a concept for a new, prime-time, stop-motion animated series. The deal gives Fogel a flat six-figure sum for developing a series concept and pilot script, which, if adapted as a series, will be executive produced by Fogel, and targeted for fall 1999. No network is attached at this early stage.
Three executives have been promoted at NICKELODEONs New York headquarters. MARJORIE COHN has been upped to senior vice president of current series. She was previously vice president/executive producer of current series, and has been with the company for ten years. ALISON DEXTER has been upped to senior vice president of production operations and planning. She was previously vice president of production operations, and joined the company in 1991 as a line producer. SERGEI KUHARSKY has been promoted to senior vice president of brand and franchise management.
* Saturday, October 17. Edmonton, Alberta, Canada.
The Association of Science and Technology Centers conference, ASTC '98, takes place at the Edmonton Science and Space Center. Boston-based animation studio FableVision will have a booth to introduce their new interactive media guru, Brad Larson. For information, visit www.astc.org.
Nickelodeon has signed a deal with Italian broadcaster Radio Televisione Italiana (RAI) to produce the first localized foreign-language version of Blues Clues. The show will premiere on the RAI UNO network in the second quarter of 1999. In Italy, RAI will localize the series by using the same blue-screen technology used on the original production to insert an Italian, live-action host into the existing computer animation. Nickelodeon plans to make similar sales to other countries, as this production concept was designed into the show from its inception.
* Saturday, October 17. Boston, Massachusetts, U.S.A.
The Museum of Fine Arts Boston presents the premiere screening of Mary Kocols independent animated film, My Fathers Story. The screening takes place at 2 p.m., and general admission is $7 ($6 for students and members). For information about the film and future screenings, visit www.ne-arts.net/mkocol.
Toon Boom Technologies has released the Windows NT version of its USAnimation software package. Seoul, Korea-based Sun Woo Entertainment is the first studio to place an order for the new product. The studio is already using the SGI version of the software, and will now have a multi-platform set-up that allows the NT and SGI platforms to be used simultaneously.
* Tuesday, October 20 - Sunday, October 25. Reykjavík, Iceland.
The 12th Nordic Childrens Film Festival will take place. A variety of Nordic productions, including animation, will be screened. For information, contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
Sheridan College is using Side Effects Softwares Houdini package in its one-year-old educational program aimed specifically at training technical directors (TDs). The complexities involved in technical animation are much greater than can be taught in a single year, so I developed the technical director program as an optional second year to our Computer Animation program, said Avrim Katzman, a former TD and current director of the Visualization Design Institute at Sheridan College.
* Tuesday, October 20. Valencia, California, U.S.A.
California Institute of the Arts (Cal Arts) Animation department presents a screening of abstract animated films by German artist, Bärbel Neubauer. The artist will be in attendance. A chronological selection of films will be screened, including her latest film, Firehouse. The screening will take place from 7 to 10 p.m. in the Bijou theater in the main Cal Arts building at 24700 McBean Parkway (McBean exit off 5 freeway). For information, call (805) 255-1050.
7th LEVEL has released Agent 7, software that utilizes voice recognition and RealAudio to create talking animated characters. Users select from a pre-made cast of animated characters, speak into a microphone or add an existing voice track, and Agent 7 automatically animates the character's lips and facial expressions using "phoneme" (voice) recognition. The resulting animation can be streamed in the same manner as RealAudio. 7th Level is offering a free, two-character trial version on the web site, www.real.com/products/tools/5.html.
* Tuesday, October 20 - Friday, October 23. Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.
SIBGRAPI, the International Symposium on Computer Graphics, Image Processing and Vision takes place. The SIBGRAPI Video Festival is traditionally presented during one of the four nights of the symposium. Its purpose is to show visual explanations of animation, computer graphics techniques, algorithm animation and software demonstrations, as well as computer-generated films produced by TV companies. For information visit www.lcg.ufrj.br/~nando.
MICROSOFT has renewed its contract with TOTALLY HIP SOFTWARE for the licensing of GIF animations used in Microsofts software. Randall McCallum, CEO of Totally Hip, said, Using our own technology to develop content for Microsoft products provides our development team with feedback that has helped make WebPainter an award-winning Web design tool. Read a review of WebPainter in the April 1997 issue of Animation World Magazine.
* Wednesday, October 21. Burbank, California, U.S.A.
ASIFA-Hollywood presents An Evening With Art Leonardi hosted by Tom Sito. Leonardi was an animator on Friz Frelengs unit and has worked on Pink Panther, Tiny Toons and Shelley Duvalls Bedtime Stories. The event starts at 7 p.m. and admission is $5. Call (818) 842-8330.
THE University of Washington has obtained a patent for its pen-and-ink illustration software developed by INKLINATION, a young Seattle-based company started by people in the schools Computer Science and Engineering Department. The technology, which was presented in two papers at SIGGRAPH 94, is now available for worldwide licensing.