fmx/conference presents and reflects upon the latest trends in an extraordinarily dynamic industry. And one trend can be seen very clearly throughout animation, visual effects, games and postproduction: story is king. Computer-generated imagery or effects are only effective to the degree that they serve a suspenseful and overwhelming narration. A few highlights from the conference (held May 5-8 in Stuttgart, Germany), include:
Geographical Region: Australia
Fusion CI Studios and Department of Motion Graphics pooled talents recently to create this lively spot for New Zealand creative agency, Sugar and client, Fonterra. Fonterra's new "smart" water, Whole, leaps into the air then transforms itself into shape after shape -- first a brain, then a bridge, then bananas -- displaying a vigorous character and life of its own.
Aardman Rights has concluded a number of television and home entertainment pre-sales for its brand new preschool series TIMMY TIME.
Currently in production, the 52 x 10-minute series has already been pre-bought by CBeebies in the U.K. for debut in 2009 and it has been picked up by Disney Channels worldwide, including the US. ABC TV Australia, TF1 France, DRTV in Denmark, YLE Finland, NRK Norway and SVT Sweden have also committed to the broadcast rights to the show.
National Geographic Television International finalized a raft of key new sales for its preschool animated series TOOT & PUDDLE (52 x 11), launched at MIPCOM in 2008.
Recent deals have been finalised with France 5, Cartoon Network Spain, SVT Sweden, TVB Hong Kong, RUV Iceland and Egyptian TV. These new sales join those made previously, which include Nickelodeon in the U.K., Germany, Australia and New Zealand, YLE Finland and TV2 Norway.
This April, Nick Jr. will be opening the tiny doors to BEN AND HOLLY'S LITTLE KINGDOM, the latest preschool TV production from the creators of PEPPA PIG.
London-based animation company Astley Baker Davies have once again teamed up with E1 Kids UK (formerly Rubber Duck Entertainment) to produce the new animated TV series following the adventures of Princess Holly the Fairy and her best friend Ben Elf in a tiny kingdom hidden amongst the flowers and grass. The series will have its exclusive world premiere on Nick Jr. from Monday, April 6.
Family entertainment producer and distributor Chorion has appointed Sony Pictures Home Entertainment (SPHE) as its international partner for its new preschool TV series, OLIVIA. This deal follows Chorion's appointment of SPHE as worldwide distribution partner on THE MR. MEN SHOW last year.
Sony Pictures Entertainment is uniting its domestic and international television divisions as part of its strategy to produce and distribute content on a worldwide basis.
The announcement was made by Sony Pictures Chairman and CEO, Michael Lynton, and Co-Chairman, Amy Pascal.
DECODE Enterprises, the distribution subsidiary of DHX Media Ltd., has scored a hat-trick of deals for Adastra Creative's GRANDPA IN MY POCKET following hot on the heels of a second series commission from CBeebies in the U.K. Canada's TVO, Australia's ABC TV and Al Jazeera Children's Channel have all scooped up the live-action with visual effects kids' show.
Independent French production company Moi j'aime la television (MJTV) is launching its own in-house licensing division and has appointed Alexandre Mayaud as consultant.
This move reflects the company's growth into new areas and its plans to further exploit its key brands across merchandising and other media including music and book publishing, videogames and educational language learning toys.
Family entertainment producer and distributor Chorion has signed a raft of licensing deals for The World of Eric Carle on the eve of the 40th anniversary on March 20, 2009 of THE VERY HUNGRY CATERPILLAR, the brand's most iconic character.
Moonscoop has scored a raft of international sales for its unique preschool series AVA RIKO TEO (65x7). The animated paper cutout show is a co-production with Character Plan, France 5 and EBS.
Italy's Rai 3, Al Jazeera Children's Channel in the Middle East, Disney Australia, MTV3 Finland, Israel's HOP, Venevision and CEE channel JimJam have snapped up the show which is the second highest-rated on EBS in Korea and rates number one on France 5 out of all co-produced series.
Aasif Mandvi, Shaun Toub and Cliff Curtis have joined the cast of M. Night Shyamalan's THE LAST AIRBENDER for Paramount Pictures and Nickelodeon Movies. Shyamalan, Sam Mercer and Frank Marshall are producing with principal photography to begin mid-March 2009.
The casting of THE LAST AIRBENDER has come under significant scrutiny, as Caucasian actors were hired in initially for the main characters, who in the animated series are of Asian descent and culture.
The first feature-length film from 3D Entertainment's filmmakers Jean-Jacques and Francois Mantello (the Mantello Brothers), OCEANS 3D - INTO THE DEEP (working title), has been acquired by Wild Bunch, a Paris-and London-based sales, distribution and production outfit.
The film is set to become the first ever documentary to be both filmed and released in Digital 3D. The deal marks the first collaboration between the two companies. Under the terms of the agreement, 3D Entertainment retains the rights (all-media) for the U.S. and Canada.
Submissions for the annual Into the Pixel art exhibition are open for the 2009 exhibit. Now in its sixth year, this is the only juried digital art exhibition that brings together experts from the fine art world and the interactive entertainment industry.
Toei Animation has appointed Wild Pumpkin Licensing International as the new merchandise licensing agent for DIGIMON DATA SQUAD in Australia and New Zealand.
The Savannah Film Festival, hosted by the Savannah College of Art and Design, is accepting entries for the 2009 festival, to be held Oct. 31-Nov. 7. Featuring the best in independent, innovative and influential film from around the world, the annual festival presents a full range of cinematic creativity from both award-winning professionals and emerging student filmmakers. Features, documentaries, professional and student shorts, both live action and animated, will be considered. All entries must be postmarked by July 6.
Toronto-based producer and distributor Tricon Films & Television has signed a series of major international deals for the series SANCTUARY, whilst at the same time preparing for production on season two. The show was recently commissioned for a second season by Sci Fi Channel in the U.S. and by the Space channel in Canada.
Among the 1,800 films submitted to the 16th Stuttgart Festival of Animated Film is the short animated film Oscar winner LA MAISON EN PETITS CUBES from Japan.
After proving a hit on CBBC, porcine pair Pinky and Perky have landed a daily slot on BBC1. THE PINKY AND PERKY SHOW has been running on CBBC since November 3 of last year and has recently been pulling in the highest ratings on the channel. The entire first season will start airing on February 27 daily at 3.40 p.m.
Nordic and Eastern European licensing agency Kidz Ent. has been appointed by Aardman Animations to represent its hit animated series SHAUN THE SHEEP and preschool property TIMMY TIME.
The first toy deals have already been secured for TIMMY TIME for the Nordic region, with Top Toy and distributor AMO and products are scheduled to launch at the end of this year. Other consumer product deals are in the pipeline, buoyed by strong TV broadcast across the region. TV is also confirmed in most Eastern European markets.
Ten teams from animation programs spanning North America will engage in a "24/4" cartoon-creating competition prior to the start of the fifth Kalamazoo Animation Festival International (KAFI) scheduled for May 14-17 in downtown Kalamazoo, Michigan.
Earning spots in the competition for the 2009 "Cartoon Challenge" are four- and five-person teams from:
-- San Jose State University in California.-- College for Creative Studies in Detroit.-- Savannah College of Art and Design in Georgia.-- South Dakota State University.
SPONGEBOB VS. THE BIG ONE: BEACH PARTY COOK-OFF has shipped to retail stores throughout North America exclusively for Nintendo DS from THQ. Based on Nickelodeon's upcoming episode airing in April, SPONGEBOB VS. THE BIG ONE, the new SPONGEBOB SQUAREPANTS cooking game offers a full menu of quirky and innovative dishes that can only be prepared SPONGEBOB-style.
SPONGEBOB VS. THE BIG ONE: BEACH PARTY COOK-OFF is rated E for everyone and is available at the suggested retail price of $29.99. This game is also expected to be available in Europe and Australia later this month.
AUSTRALIA, WATCHMEN MOTION COMIC, WONDER WOMAN and BEVERLY HILLS CHIHUAHUA hit Blu-ray and DVD on March 3, along with the DVD releases of SPONGEBOB VS. THE BIG ONE and volumes of CHOWDER and THE SMURFS.
AUSTRALIA on DVD and Blu-ray
Sony Pictures Television and Marvel Ent. join forces with McDonald's with a branded Happy Meal program based on the animated series THE SPECTACULAR SPIDER-MAN, which will be available for a four-week period (February 27-March 26) at participating restaurants in the United States while supplies last.
THE SPECTACULAR SPIDER-MAN U.S. Happy Meal will feature a collection of eight action figures, including Spider-Man Suction Cup, Doctor Octopus, Spider-Man Swinging, Venom, Spider-Man Launcher, Green Goblin, Spider-Man Crawling, and Sandman.