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Editor's Notebook

Here's to recent developments!

Heather Kenyon

When the average person thinks about animation, stop motion and motion capture probably do not spring to mind. However, recent developments have put or will put stop motion and motion capture directly in front of prime television viewing audiences.

The PJs, while rousting up a little controversy, is going to prove to be a great break for stop motion animation. By presenting stop motion animation to the primetime viewing audience in a weekly series, it will hopefully broaden people's awareness of the technique and make them crave more of this unique form of animation.

Motion capture stands on a similar brink. As Brad deGraf of Protozoa pointed out in last month's survey, "Executive Talk: 1999 Predictions," motion capture is getting more opportunities in feature films and on television. Last month, the Super Bowl XXXIII Jumbotron featured for the first time, a live computer-generated character performed by Harry Shearer bringing to life the "King of Talk," Larry King. Deborah Reber's piece "Nick Strives to Define Motion Capture" outlines another exciting new development for motion capture. The hiring of permanent staff to utilize motion capture to bring a network's properties to life in other arenas is a big step. It takes motion capture from being a "special" project to becoming one step in a company's overall marketing venture. Hopefully, we will be seeing more animated characters on talk shows and in other atypical venues thanks to motion capture.

Animation employment has taken a hit in the past few months. Layoffs marked the end of the year at several major studios, both traditional and digital, as the number of companies consolidate and the number of projects, especially features, wane. We should do all we can to support and encourage other outlets of animation. These could not only provide jobs, but a variety of animated fare for the viewing audience.

This issue marks our first month of featuring multiple, shorter reviews of books, and a new section reviewing television shows. Please let us know how you like this new format. We appreciate readers' feedback so that we can better meet our audience's needs and interests. We always encourage hearing from companies big or small, domestic or international. Animation World Network does its utmost to live up to the "world" part of the name, but could always use a little help. If we do not hear from you, we cannot write about you, your company and your news. Drop us a line, we'll be glad you did.

To end on a somber note...Jean-Luc Xiberras passed away at the end of December. While he was Director of the Annecy Festival, the festival grew into the formidable force that it is today. While the decision to go annual is still a hot spot with many, one thing is for certain -- Mr. Xiberras gave hundreds of animators, some from small studios and forgotten countries, the opportunity of a small window of time to show their work to the world. For that, for letting new voices be heard, he deserves a special place in the hereafter.

Until Next Time, Heather