Animation World Magazine
News Section

May 1,1996



Saul Bass, Animator, Graphic Designer and Filmmaker, Dies. Bass, who revolutionized the design and production of feature film credits with his innovative design and animation concepts died April 25, in Los Angeles, at the age of 75. His early work on such Otto Preminger films as Carmen Jones and The Man With the Golden Arm caused a sensation in their day and opened the market for production of extended animated title sequences in theatrical films. In 1961, he married Elaine Bakatura, who became his collaborator on a number of projects, including several award-winning shorts.

Colossal Gives Up on Commercials, Refocuses Efforts on "Content." After 20 years as a full-service commercial house, Colossal Pictures announced that it "focus to content development for television, feature films and new media--as well as context and identity design for TV, interactive navigators, web sites and location-based entertainment." Concurrently, Gary Gutierrez, a co-founder with Drew Takahashi of Colossal, announced his departure from the company. The announcement was the latest in a number of changes from the San Francisco-based studio, ranging from development deals with companies like Walt Disney Television Animation to a major investment in Colossal by software publisher Quark; Gutierrez' departure is also the most dramatic of recent staff changes reflecting the turmoil the company has been going through in recent months. The announcement that it was getting out of the commercial business was startling, to say the least, as it ranked as one of the top five commercial houses in the United States, and will lead to substantial layoffs from one of the Bay Area's largest studios.

Universal Family Entertainment and Universal Cartoon Studios have been folded into MCA Television Entertainment (MTE). In a move to streamline and consolidate its television operations, Barbara Fisher, President of MTE, will now add oversight of all family entertainment activities to her current responsibilities. As part of the reorganization, current UFE President Jeff Segal has entered into a production deal with the MCA Television Group and will continue to develop and projects for the company.

Cambridge Animation Systems Debuts Animo V2 and Announces Software's Availability on Windows NT. The latest upgrade to one of the leading digital ink-and-paint software systems was recently announced. The new version is said to include a new architecture for greater production speed and flexibility, a new user interface, a computerized version of the "X-sheet," an open system architecture that allows users to integrate a wide range of software into the production environment, and a new interactive PencilTester module. In addition, Cambridge announced that it will be shipping a Windows NT version of its Animo software later this year.

DreamWorks Feature Animation at work on El Dorado. Dylan Kohler, co-head of DreamWorks' technology department states that they hope to start principal production on El Dorado by the middle of next year. The company is already in production on its first animated feature, The Prince of Egypt, and is involved with an as yet untitled feature being done by Pacific Data Images, which DreamWorks recently bought a 40% stake in. It is also in development on a fourth feature, which has yet to get the green light.

7th Level Teams Up With Disney and Morgan Creek for New Games. This summer, 7th Level will be coming out with new CD-ROM games this summer in collaboration with Disney Interactive and Morgan Creek Interactive. The former involves a new gamepack featuring characters from Disney's upcoming feature, The Hunchback of Notre Dame, while the latter is an interactive version of Ace Ventura, Pet Detective.

Animator Michael Sporn turns 50!--A Special Report by John R. Dilworth Venerable animator and artist Michael Sporn hit another career landmark celebrating his 50th birthday Tuesday, April 23rd in New York City. Michael Sporn is renowned of his children's book adaptations including Lyle, Lyle The Crocodile, Abel's Island, Mike Mulligan and his Steamshovel, The Dancing Frog and The Hunting of the Snark. Michael's films have garnered accolades from festivals and critics around the world and was nominated for an Academy Award in 1984 for his adaptation of William Steig's book, Doctor DeSoto. The event was held at Michael Sporn Animation Studio were nearly 100 friends and guests shared personal Sporn stories, presented highly creative gifts and ate cake designed after Michael's grinning face. Among the celebrants were animatrix Tissa David, animator and author John Canemaker, queen mother of animation Faith Hubley and princess Emily Hubley, master of the squiggle, designer R.O. Blechman, king of clay Jimmy Picker, busy bees Candy Kugel and Vinnie Cafarelli, mysterio John R. Dilworth, and earthmother of color Bridget Thorne

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