Bandai's AnimeVillage.com is the first video releasing company in the US that enables consumers to purchase Japanese animation directly through the Internet. The site also features the latest animation news from Japan, real-time chats, games, message boards, and contests. AnimeVillage.com's initial release slate includes the "Gundam" series and "The Vision of Escaflowne" with plans to expand their library up to 200 titles by the end of 1999.
Geographical Region: Asia
The Sitges Fantasy Film Festival wrapped up on October 16 in Barcelona, Spain. The international jury for the "Anima't" animation festival within a festival was comprised of Jerry Beck (U.S.A.), Mercedes Gaspar (Spain) and Giorgio Valentini (Italy). They selected "Un Jour" by Marie Paccou (France) as Best Film, and gave an Honorable Mention to "Glassy Ocean" by Shigeru Tamura (Japan). In the main festival, Bill Plympton's film, "More Sex & Violence" won the "Best Short Film" award.
Berlin, Germany-based animation studio, Hahn Film is launching production studios in Taiwan and Vietnam. Each studio will employ about 150 people, and will be devoted to digital ink and paint services, initially for Hahn projects, but may branch out to service other studios in the future. The first studio, called Saigon Graphics Enterprises, in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam, is already up and running, working on the production of the animated series "Wild Life," which is being distributed by Hit Entertainment and is pre-sold to the Fox Family Channel (U.S.), the BBC and Nickelodeon (U.K.).
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.
Robert McNeel & Associates will be releasing the final version of Rhino3D, a powerful NURBS-based modeling package, this month. The software, whichhas undergone an extensive public beta program (for the last 2 years), willbe available for Windows 95, 98 or NT, and is designed as a companion topackages like 3D Studio MAX and Lightwave. Priced at $795 US, the packageboasts features such as 3D digitising support (for Microscribe 3D and Faro),surface and solid modeling, an intuitive UI, and support for all major 3Dfile formats.
OTTAWA WINNERS. The Ottawa International Animation Festival wrapped up on Sunday night with an awards show at the National Arts Center in Canadas capital city. The grand prize went to the new Estonian film, Night of the Carrots, by Priit Pärn who was on hand to accept the award as the festival also hosted a four-part retrospective of Estonian animation.
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.
Bonjourno, Mickey! The Italian version of THE DISNEY CHANNEL will begin broadcast on October 3, launching with the country's first TV broadcast of the animated feature, "The Lion King." All programming will be dubbed in Italian. The channel is being transmitted daily from 6 a.m. to midnight, as part of a digital bouquet of channels offered by Telepiu. Disney Channel Italy is headquartered in Milan and headed up by vice president and managing director Janet Scardino. The former Sunbow Entertainment VP joined the company in March 1998.
NICKELODEON plans to launch a 24-hour version of its network in Russia, per a recently-signed agreement with Metromedia International Group. Programming will consist of Russian-language dubbed U.S. shows such as "Rugrats." This will be Nickelodeon's sixth territory-specific network, following existing channels in Australia, Latin America, the Nordic countries, Turkey and the U.K.
Santa Monica, California-based Epoch Ink Animation and Phoenix, Arizona-based Todd McFarlane Entertainment collaborated on a fully-animated music video for Pearl Jam's song "Do the Evolution." The four-minute video was produced in just 12 weeks with a budget of U.S. $220,000.
The 11th Society of Animation Studies Conference will be held in Australia for the first time. The conference, to be held in Brisbane in August or October 1999 (exact date to be confirmed), is timed to coincide with the Third Asia Pacific Triennial exhibition of Contemporary Art at the Queensland Art Gallery. The theme of the conference is "Animation: Contexts and Identities," with a focus on Asia Pacific animation. A call for papers and presentation proposals is now open. Proposals should contain a 50-word summary and a 250-word abstract.
BILL DENNIS has been named Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of Mumbai, India-based UTVI ANIMATION and RM/USL STUDIOS, the largest animation studio in India. Dennis will be responsible for overseeing and growing the operations of the companies' studios in Singapore and Bombay and for developing new animation studios around the region. He will also oversee all in-house development and co-production deals. Dennis, now based in Los Angeles, was previously president of Fil-Cartoons in Manila, a studio which serviced Hanna-Barbera and Turner Broadcasting before they merged with Time/Warner.
The 7th biennial Hiroshima International Animation Festival ended on Monday, August 24 with a grand awards ceremony. The top winners are:
Grand Prize: "The Old Lady and the Pigeons" by Sylvain Chomet (Canada).
Hiroshima Prize: The Mermaid by Alexander Petrov (Russia).
Debut (first film) Prize: Busby by Anna Henckel-Donners-Marck (Germany).
Renzo Kinoshita Prize: "L'Aréne (Série "Vermillion")" by Nicolas Jacquet (France).