One-year-old Gloucester, U.K.-based The Little Entertainment Company (LEC Ltd.) has two new series, Magical Mystery Merlin and Charlie Marmalade. The companys first two animated shows have recently secured broadcast spots on BBC (Little Monsters) and ITV (Billy).
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New York-based GLC Productions is seeking partners for a computer-animated series called The Buddy System. The pilot episode, titled The Third Ticket portrays a couple of hockey fans at a game, one of whom, to the disappointment of his buddy, invited his girlfriend. Animation was produced on SGI machines with Alias|Wavefronts PowerAnimator and Maya software. The Third Ticket is also being screened as a short film at festivals such as the recent Los Angeles International Short Film Festival.
Copenhagen, Denmark-based Interactive Television Entertainment is launching several new interactive game shows, including two that will incorporate animation, based on the concept used for the series Hugo the TV Troll. Tush Tush will use real-time motion-capture animation to allow viewers to interact with the program via the Internet and telephone. Yo-Yo, developed with Los Angeles-based Dream Entertainment, will offer animated carnival-type games linked to video games which viewers can play simultaneously on consoles in their homes.
U.K. company Fairwater Films has a new series of animated interstitials for the international market, titled World Wide Webley. The 52 one-minute shorts depict the adventures of the title character, a spider, in cyberspace, covering such topics as electronic mail and Internet etiquette.
Korean company Samsung Entertainment Group is launching a new animated series for adults called "Alexander." Peter Chung, creator of "Aeon Flux," is designing the characters for the fantasy-adventure show, which is set in 4th Century B.C. Macedonia, and is based on the novel "Alexander's War Chronicles" by Hiroshi Aramata. The executive producer is Haruki Kadokawa, the producers are Masao Maruyama and Rintaro, and the supervising director is Yoshinori Kanemori. Animation is being produced at Mad House in Japan. Screenmusic Studios in Los Angeles will handle post-production.
World Entertainment Events is introducing a new animated series to the international market. "Voltron: The Third Dimension" debuted in September in over 180 U.S. markets. The 3D computer-animated show is based on the original "Voltron" cartoon made in the 1980s. The first 26 episodes of the new series were produced by Mike Young Productions ("Prince of Atlantis") and Netter Digital Entertainment ("Babylon 5").
One year ago, CANAL + Distribution launched KIDS + to handle international sales of its more than 800 hours of children's programming. Kids + has since sold programming to Italy's Disney Channel Italy and RAI, Germany's Super RTL, Ireland's RTE, Switzerland's Television Suisse-Romande and France's France 3. Kids +'s new animation being launched at MIPCOM this year includes a feature-length version of "Trouble With Sophie," as well as new episodes of "Fennec" and "Blazing Dragons."
Budapest, Hungary-based Varga Studio is working on a new, stop-motion animated special, "Don Quixote de La Mancha," based on the classic novel by Miguel de Cervantes. The 30-minute program has been in development for two years, and is now being co-produced with S4C, HBO America and BBC for Spring 1999. The stop-motion materials used--metal skeletons with rubber and clay heads--were developed by studio founder Csaba Varga, who will assume the role of director for the first time since his 1993 short, "Beasts."
New York-based 4 Kids Entertainment is bringing the popular Japanese animated series "Pokémon" to the international market. The show started in U.S. syndication in September, and is signed to appear on Italy's MediaSet network, Australia's Channel 10, Mexico's Televisa, Canada's YTV and Brazil's Globo TV.
Nelvana Limited has greenlit production on 13 episodes of their new animated series, "Redwall" based on the book series by Brian Jacques. The show is about the legends of a mythical medieval abbey populated by woodland creatures. Nelvana co-CEO Michael Hirsh said, "It has all the elements of a medieval fairy tale."
Bohbot Kids Network (BKN) is launching the animated series "Roswell Conspiracies--Aliens, Myths and Legends" for a Fall 1999 U.S. debut and BKN affiliate debut in 2000. It's unusual format will be comprised of 20 one-hour episodes that can also be split into 40 half-hour episodes. With a production budget of U.S. $850,000 per episode, the show is described as Bohbot's most ambitious children's series to date. The science-fiction show, based on the concept that a NATO Alliance was formed to seek out and destroy alien trespassers, is aimed at kids aged 7-13.
San Francisco-based RADIUM produced a 30-second animation of the MTV logo for the network's annual MTV Movie Awards show. The sequence is being used as a lead-in to clips of nominees introduced in the show. Artist Alaina Goetz used Maya and Flame to create the piece, which was produced in just three days.
London-based PASSION PICTURES produced ten seconds of computer animation in two different spots for food supplier, The Co-op. Depicting realistic chickens and a pig, the 3D CG sequences were directed by Chris Knott, using software such as Morph Gizmo for facial animation and the Lightwave plug-in, Steamer for atmospheric haze.
New York-based J.J. SEDELMAIER PRODUCTIONS created the animation in a two-spot package for Griffin Bacal's client Tonka and their new product, Cool Tools toys. The spots combine live-action with animation of drawings by designer Doug Fraser, animated by Vinnie Bell. J.J. Sedelmaier Productions also created animation in an ad for Hasbro/Parker Brothers' ad for "Family Game Night." The animation is done in a childlike style, directed by Sedelmaier and animated by Tony Eastman.
Los Angeles-based Industrial Light & Magic Commercial Productions (a division of ILM parent, Lucas Digital) used animated visual effects in a commercial for First Union. Live actors were composited with a 3D CG environment featuring a floating piggy bank, animated money and other exaggerated elements of the finance world. The production team included director Steve Beck, visual effects supervisor George Murphy and CG lead Tim Stevenson.
Boston-based VIEWPOINT STUDIOS and HECK YES! PRODUCTIONS have redesigned the main title animation package for the History Channel's show, "Modern Marvels." The 20-second open was created with Flame, compositing motion control photography with animation by Mike Leone of ViewPoint.
The New York International Children's Film Festival (NYICFF) will take place February 4-19, 1999 in New York City. The festival will showcase 50-60 new works of all types, including animation. Festival organizers are seeking "creative, intelligent, passionate work that does not speak down to children," and "will consider difficult subject matter, controversial themes." There are no juried prizes, rather, audience members complete ballots to select audience awards in different age categories.
* Sunday, October 4. Long Beach, California, U.S.A.
California State University, Long Beach hosts an event launching the second annual "Women in the Realm of Computer Visual Arts, Effects, and Animation" web site (www.animation.org/animation/women/). Site creator Kellie-Bea Rainey will speak on the subject. The event is sponsored by Advanced Media Production and will be held from 4 - 7 p.m. The location is building UTC, room 127. The event is free, but RSVP is essential for admittance. For information and directions call (818) 980-5853 or e-mail email@example.com.
* Tuesday, October 6. London, England, U.K.
The Museum of the Moving Image's lunch time lecture series, "First Tuesdays" showcases 70 years of animated advertising from J. Walter Thompson. From 1 to 2 p.m., Chris Bardsley, creative director for the agency will lecture on the company's history of animated commercials, from George Pal's puppet works to the latest CGI spots for Smarties and stop-motion spots for Dairylea. Tickets are £2.50 each. For information call (44) 171 815 1339.
Listed below is a sampling of some of the top animation-related events taking place during MIPCOM Junior and MIPCOM this week in Cannes. Please note that some of these events are "invitation-only." Check MIPCOM catalogs for details and complete listings. Attention MIPCOM attendees! Don't forget to pick up AWN's first print edition of The Animation Flash, available free in MIPCOM showroom magazine stands.
* Saturday, October 3. 1:00 p.m. Lunch with Neptuno (Hotel Martinez Beach).
* Sunday, October 4.
The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences (A.M.P.A.S.) has selected 34 achievements to be considered for 1998 Academy Awards. The selected achievements are announced in advance, "to enable those with claims of prior invention or with devices similar to those under consideration to advise the Academy," said category committee chair Edmund M. DiGiulio.
Broderbund Software has released the first of its "Rugrats" CD-Roms: "The Rugrats Movie Activity Challenge," "Rugrats Adventure Game" and "Rugrats Print Shop." Aimed at kids aged 6-12, the activity-based games include creative activities, problem-solving stories and story-based adventures.
* Saturday, October 3 - Friday, October 9. Cannes, France.
MIPCOM and MIPCOM Junior will once again bring together the television producers, distributors, buyers, and programmers of the world. Animated programming of all types is being offered by dozens of suppliers. Animated events within the conference include receptions with companies such as: BKN International, Film Roman, Nelvana and Southern Star. MIPCOM will be reviewed by Sony Wonder's Loris Kramer in the November 1998 issue of Animation World Magazine.
DAVID PALMER has been named vice president of marketing at COLUMBIA TRISTAR TELEVISION CHILDREN'S PROGRAMMING, a new position. Sander Schwartz, the division's executive vice president and general manager, commented on Palmer's appointment, "We know he will play a vital role in designing and implementing strategic marketing campaigns for our current and future animation franchises." Palmer was previously vice president of marketing for MGM's consumer products division.
DreamWorks Pictures and Pacific Data Images' computer-animated feature film, "Antz" opens in U.S. theaters on Friday, October 2. The film's 78 minutes of animation (112,320 frames) took two and a half years and a staff of over 200 people to produce. Character voices featured in the film include Woody Allen, Dan Akroyd, Danny Glover, Gene Hackman, Jennifer Lopez, Sharon Stone, Sylvester Stallone and Christopher Walken.