Animation World Magazine, Issue 2.3, June 1997
June 1997 News
Compiled by Wendy Jackson
Business: Hollywood Shuffle, Nick Expands Into New L.A. Home, Calico/Wonderworks Alliance, Selick Options Mad Monkey Comic, DIC Invests In LST, France, Meacham Road Studio Formed.
Films:Nelvana & Trickcompany Co-Production, NFBC Expanding Shadbolt Animation, Anastasia's Coming Of Age.
Television: MTV Renews Daria, Perennial Producing Witches In Stitches., Disney TV Offers Training Program, Cow & Chicken On A Roll, Mondo & Carrere Making Sleeping Beauty, DIC Acquires Archie Rights, Nightmare Ned Premieres On ABC, EM And ZDF To Make Tabaluga.
Home Video: Manga To Release Ghost On DVD and Two New Anime Titles on Video, CPM Debuts 3 New Titles, Disney's Jungle Crazy.
Commercials:Flea Circus Gets Curious, Tom & Jerry Play Tennis.
Designefx Gets Tricky, Curious Animates Cartoon Network's World, Blue Sky Does More Roach Clips, Manhattan Does Diapers.
Interactive & Internet: Fox Interactive Debuts Foxtoons Line, Theatrix Interactive Finds Sanctuary, Macromedia Flash Sounds On, Sierra Gives Us The Shivers, Activision's Zork-A-Thon, Humongous Peddles Putt-Putt Through Time, Disney Online's A Family Affair, WB Renews With AOL.
Technology: Curious' Steve Katz Develops Cyclops, Hong Ying Licenses Pegs Software.
Festivals & Events:Virtual Humans Conference In June, ComicCon San Diego, The Bradford Animation Festival, Fantoche Festival Call For Entries, Williams Masterclass Sells Out, Adds Dates, MOMI UK Workshops.
Awards: British Academy Awards, Oslo Animation Festival, TV Academy Awards Internship, Betty Cohen To Be Honored By Promax.
Heather Kenyon has started as Editor-in-Chief of Animation World Magazine, replacing Harvey Deneroff. Kenyon joins AWM from a former post as manager of the production information department at Hanna-Barbera. . . . Superstar Disney animator Glen Keane has renewed his contract with Walt Disney Feature Animation, adding another 7 years to the 23-years he has already been with the studio. Keane will continue in his role as supervising animator, and is currently working at the Paris studio, supervising animation on the lead character in Tarzan . . . . Jeff Segal is leaving his post as a consultant on family/animated entertainment at The Bubble Factory, to head up TV, home video, and theatrical projects at Cloud Nine Interactive. Prior to that, Segal worked at Universal Cartoon Studios. . . . Ann Daly has resigned from her position as president of Buena Vista Home Video, where she has been for 14 years. It is rumored that she will head on to DreamWorks SKG's feature animation division. . . . Christine Panushka has announced plans to leave her faculty position in the experimental animation department at CalArts in order to head up the animation department at USC, starting in the Fall. . . .Jodi Nussbaum has been promoted to vice president of production at Children's Television Workshop, a role in which she will oversee production on shows such as Dragon Tales," Sesame Street and Cartoon Network's Big Bag. . . . Davis Doi has been promoted to supervising producer at Hanna Barbera.
Nick Expands Into New L.A. Home. As part of a five-year, $350 million investment into original animation, Nickelodeon will double its animation staff and increase space when the studio shifts its animation operations from Studio City to a brand new 72,000 square foot facility in Burbank. Described as a laboratory and playground for animators, the new facility will be capable of running up to five productions simultaneously, with 175 workstations, a recording facility / Foley soundstage, an archival animation library and an 80-seat theater. In addition, Mark Taylor, formerly vice president of animation production for Columbia/TriStar Television, has been named vice president and general manager of Nicktoons Animation. As Viacom head Sumner Redstone said in a recent keynote address at the World Animation Celebration, "the inmates will be running the asylum." And what an asylum it will be, with a basketball court, a gym, a signature green slime "Gak" fountain and an artist-designed miniature golf course. Nickelodeon's new facility, expected to open in early 1998, is being built on West Olive Street in Burbank.
Calico/Wonderworks Alliance. Chatsworth, California-based Calico Entertainment has recently expanded its digital effects division and formed a partnership with visual effects director Brick Price and his company, WonderWorks. The two companies will jointly provide concept and design, 2D and 3D animation, specialty sets, miniatures and computer motion control cinematography services. Together their work in digital effects will expand past their current lineup which includes six motion picture assignments and several TV projects. The group recently completed digital effects sequences for McHale's Navy, and Turbo, A Power Ranger Movie.
Selick Options Mad Monkey Comic. Henry Selick, the director of The Nightmare Before Christmas and James and the Giant Peach has acquired the film and television rights to Dark Town, a comic book published by Toronto-based Mad Monkey Press. Selick and his San Francisco-based Twitching Image production company are in talks with various studios about funding and distribution for a feature film, while Sam Hamm (who wrote the screenplay for the original Batman movie) is writing the screenplay. Based on the 13-issue Dark Town comic book series created by Mad Monkey president Kaja Blackley, and depicting the story of a man trapped between two worlds, the film is expected to be a combination of live-action and stop-motion animation, now a signature style for director Selick. Dark Town slipped mysteriously under my studio door and into my life as if it was meant to be," said Selick. "I've never felt that any project was closer to my sensibilities than this one." Comic creator Blackley is equally thrilled at the partnership, saying that "Henry Selick is the only person I would have entrusted Dark Town to. The fact that he came to me is even more flattering." Fans of stop-motion will find this news encouraging, as this is the first project announcement from Selick since his three-picture deal with Disney was broken after James and the Giant Peach.
DIC Invests In LST, France. Disney-owned DIC Entertainment has put a major investment into a new Paris-based animation production company, Les Studios Tex (LST). Appointed to head up the operation is Daniel Schwall, who joins LST in addition to his responsibilities as CEO of Luxembourg-based animation studio Digit 352, which he co-founded. LST's first project with DIC will be 52 episodes of Tex Avery Theater, a co-production of DIC, French Telcima SA and broadcaster M6. "The presence of this new animation studio" said DIC president Andy Heyward "will enable DIC Entertainment to. . . . position DIC programming within France, whose European content regulations mandate that about one-third of a show's budget be allocated in France." DIC's interest in LST is about 40%, while the rest of the studio's capital comes from European investors.
Meacham Road Studio Formed. A new digital studio called Meacham Road Digital Studios, L.L.C. has been formed by teleproduction facility managers Scott Kane and Pat Saviano. Based in Schaumburg, Illinois (a suburb of Chicago,) the studio will handle computer graphics and 3D animation in addition to linear and non-linear digital editing, new media work groups, satellite uplinking and sound stage
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Nelvana and Trickcompany Co-Production. German animation studio Trickcompany, and Canadian company Nelvana recently made an agreement at MIP TV to co-produce two animated feature films, riding on the success of their current co-production partnership of the Pippi Longstocking animated series for television. The films are both adaptations of existing properties. Babar is based on the classic French books and TV series, while Barbarella is based on none other than the 1968 live-action cult classic starring Jane Fonda. Nelvana is the rights holder to both properties, and is seeking additional partners for the project. Trickcompany has been making a name for itself with animated features such as Werner-Eat My Dust!!, and Little Asshole which grossed an impressive $31 million and $20 million, respectively, at the German boxoffice.
NFBC Expanding Shadbolt Animation. Touched Alive, Stephen Arthur's one-and-a-half minute animated film, made by animating the paintings of Canadian modernist painter Jack Shadbolt, is now being recreated in a longer form film produced by the National Film Board of Canada. The film was and will be created using digitally-scanned 2-D images of the paintings, animated in Autodesk Animator Pro.
Anastasia's Coming Of Age. The bulk of animation production on Fox Feature Animation's debut effort, "Anastasia" is nearing completion, as was witnessed at a recent Los Angeles press screening and reception hosted by Twentieth Century Fox. The first 30 minutes of the film were screened in a compilation of animatics, pencil tests, fully rendered color sequences and CGI elements, synchronized to a completed soundtrack. The film's executive producer Maureen Donnelly emphasizes the importance of storytelling in this "contemporary fairy tale," which interprets the story of the legendary Russian princess, Anastasia Nikolavna, with the elements of family, attachment, separation and survival. "Anastasia" is scheduled to be released in November 97. Meanwhile, Fox's second feature animation project, "Planet Ice" is already in production, and directors Don Bluth and Gary Goldman will start on a third project (as yet unnamed) as soon as "Anastasia" is completed.
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MTV Renews Daria. MTV will produce 26 new episodes of Daria, the network's original animated series spin-off from "Beavis and Butt-head." The series, which premiered in March, will continue to air on Monday nights at 10:30 p.m., with the aforementioned new episodes premiering in early 1998.
Perennial'sWitches in Stitches.
Perennial Producing Witches In Stitches. Indiana-based Perennial Pictures is beginning production on a half-hour animated Halloween special titled Witches in Stitches, which is described as a Three Stooges on brooms." The special is being produced in association with Anchor Bay Entertainment, who will distribute in home video and hold international television rights, while Sunbow Entertainment will handle domestic (U.S.) television distribution.
Disney TV Offers Training Program. Walt Disney Television Animation is seeking applicants for their new "Animation Directors Workshop," a new program to train animation timing directors. Up to ten animators will be selected for the ten month salaried positions, which are scheduled to begin in early June. Disney TV Animation senior vice president Tom Ruzicka said "With the volume of work now available, there hasn't been a corresponding increase in the number of qualified animation timing directors." With this program, the studio hopes to fill in the training gap to meet their staffing needs for their overseas productions. The intensive collection of workshops, lectures, screenings and classes will be overseen by Dan Smith, director of artist recruitment and training. For information about this program call (818) 754-7261.
Cow & Chicken On A Roll. Cartoon Network has ordered an additional 13 half-hours of the Cow and Chicken animated series. The new episodes will air on the network in July, along with new episodes of Dexter's Laboratory, and the new series Johnny Bravo (not to be confused with "Jonny Quest.") Cow and Chicken was developed out of a World Premiere Toon produced by Hanna-Barbera and directed by David Feiss, who has just created another short titled I Am Weasel.
Mondo & Carrere Making Sleeping Beauty. Italian animation production company Mondo TV and French TV production group Carrere Group are co-producing a new 26-episode TV series based on the classic Sleeping Beauty fairy tale by Charles Perraut. The half hour episodes, slated for completion inn early 1998, are budgeted at $9 million for the whole series. The agreement was reached at MIP TV in Cannes last week.
DIC Acquires Archie Rights. DIC Entertainment has reached an agreement with Archie Comics to acquire animation production and worldwide licensing rights for the evergreen comic characters in the Archie Comics group. Archie, Jughead, Veronica and Betty will make a comeback in The Archie Mysteries, a half hour series designed for cable or network broadcast, rather than syndication. This is not the first adaptation of Archie for animation, The Archies was produced by Filmation in 1969. DIC president Andy Heyward says "They are a timeless group, and that's why they are still around after all this time." Meanwhile, no exploitation of this property is being overlooked, as Universal is developing a live action feature film based on the Archie property, while producers Barry and Fran Weissler are developing a Broadway musical, and there is even talk of a singing group revival.
Nightmare Ned Premieres On ABC. Buena Vista Television's new animated series, Nightmare Ned premiered last week on ABC's Saturday morning lineup. The offbeat, colorful show is produced by Donovan Cook, creator of Two Stupid Dogs, a series on Cartoon network. Nightmare Ned will continue to air weekly at 10 a.m. ET and 11 a.m. PT on ABC.
EM And ZDF To Make Tabaluga. German production/merchandising company, EM Entertainment and public broadcaster ZDF are partnering to produce, license and distribute an animated series based on the existing German musical property of a cuddly dragon named Tabaluga. The 26 episode animated series will be packaged inside a live action/variety show modeled after The Mickey Mouse Club. Expectations are high for merchandising plans related to the program.
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Flea Circus Gets Curious. New York/San Francisco based Curious Pictures has signed on to their roster the talents of New Zealand-based animation director John Robertson and his studio Flea Circus Films, Ltd, which he founded in 1993. Relocating from Auckland to Curious' San Francisco studio, Robertson recently completed a 45 second animated film featuring characters from Nickelodeon's Kablam! series, and he is currently getting started on a short "art film" for Cartoon Network's "Animate Your World" campaign. "I don't want to be limited to one medium," said Robertson, "I like to do collage, multi-planing, 3D. Curious has offered me an opportunity to expand my capabilities."
Tom & Jerry Play Tennis. San Francisco-based animation studio Wild Brain and New York-based ad agency Warwick Baker O'Neill recently produced two commercials in association with the Tennis Industry Association and Cartoon Network, which feature classic animated characters Tom & Jerry playing tennis with live-action kids. Western Images used the Henry system to composite stock cartoon footage of Tom & Jerry with new green-screen live action footage.
Designefx' Tricky Elephant.
Designefx Gets Tricky. Atlanta-based Designefx recently completed Tricky Elephant, a cel-animated commercial for Leslie Advertising's client, Lance Toastchee Peanut Crackers. In the 30 second spot, an animated zoo elephant performs tricks for a group of digitally-rotoscoped live actors, in an effort to get a taste of these peanut crackers. The animation director was David Strandquest.
Curious Pictures' Bob spot for Cartoon Network.
Curious Animates Cartoon Network's World. Curious Pictures directors Steve Oakes and Dennis Morella recently completed the first three of their 12 spots for Cartoon Network's "Animate Your World" public service campaign. Designed to encourage creative thinking and imagination, the 30 second mixed media spots are Be a Vacuum Head, encouraging people to open their minds and "suck up" everything they see, hear, smell and touch, and Put Your Brain on a Plane, depicting the virtues of daydreaming. A 60 second spot titled Bob uses stop motion to illustrate different perspectives on viewing the world around you. The spots featured the creative contributions of eclectic New York-based puppet/ performance artist Janie Geyser.
Blue Sky's Combat Plus.
Blue Sky Does More Roach Clips. A year after Blue Sky Studio's award-winning animation of roaches was featured in MTV/Paramount's feature film Joe's Apartment, the studio has been called upon once again to animate a cast of the creepy insects, this time for (what else?) a commercial for Combat Plus exterminating kits. Directed in the style of classic B-movies, the two 30 second spots, Big Problem and Big Foot feature computer animation composited over live-action.
Manhattan Transfer's Windmill.
Manhattan Does Diapers. New York-based production/editing facility, Manhattan Transfer recently completed animation for a 30 second commercial for Huggies brand diapers. Windmill, as the spot is titled, features live action composited with animated effects, created by senior animator Kevin Edwards, animator Keith Stichweh and particles systems animator Lidija Cukor.
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Manga To Release Ghost On DVD. On July 7, Manga Entertainment will release Mamouru Oshii's hit Japanese animated feature film, Ghost in the Shell in the new Digital Video Disc (DVD) format. Touted as the first Japanese animated feature to be released in this format, the disc will include a 30 minute bonus program on the making of Ghost in the Shell, as well as picture files, character biographies and production notes. Manga will also release a "Special Edition" digitally remastered VHS version of the film in July.
Manga To Release 2 New Anime Titles. On May 20 and June 24, respectively, Manga Entertainment will release on home video Street Fighter II V (another in the popular series of video game-inspired Street Fighter TV episodes,) and Shadow Skill, director Hiroshi Negishi's martial arts adventure. Both are $24.95 retail.
CPM Debuts 3 New Titles. New York-based anime distributor Central Park Media will release three animated films on video in July: Patlabor: The Mobile Police-Volume 4, The Revenge of the Demon Beast, an erotic thriller by Urtsukidoji series creator Toshio Maeda, and Black Jack: Clinical Chart 2, by Japanese animation legend Osamu Tezuka, creator of Astro Boy. The titles will be available retail for $29.95 (Patlabor and Demon Beast) and $19.95 (Black Jack.)
Disney's Jungle Crazy. Following the release of Sleeping Beauty in September, Walt Disney Home Video has announced that they will release The Jungle Book from October 14-December 31, as part of the Disney Masterpieces collection. Jungle Book, Disney's 19th animated feature, is the last animated film that Walt Disney personally supervised. The timing of the Jungle Book release will enjoy riding the promotional wave of Disney's upcoming George of Jungle live-action re-make, and the recently released Jungle 2 Jungle with Tim Allen. Meanwhile, production is getting started on Tarzan, Disney's 37th animated feature. It's a jungle out there!
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Interactive & Internet
Fox Interactive Debuts Foxtoons Line. In a bold move to buck the industry trend of low-volume unit sales, Fox Interactive has created FoxToons, a branded line of CD-ROM games offered at below-standard prices ($14.98 and less). Designed for children ages three to eight, and based on established literary properties, the dual-platform Windows/Macintosh CD-ROMS to be released in late May are Baby Felix Creativity Center, Hello Kitty Creativity Center, Danny the Dinosaur, and Frog and Toad are Friends.
Theatrix Interactive Finds Sanctuary. San Mateo, California-based Sanctuary Woods Multimedia Corporation announced that it will acquire all outstanding shares of privately-owned education software developer Theatrix Interactive. The terms of the agreement are yet to be announced.
Macromedia Flash Sounds On. Authoring software publisher Macromedia has released a second version of their vector-based web animation program, Flash 2.0 (formerly known as Future Splash Animator.) The upgrade, available for $99., offers full audio interactivity, which enables users to create synchronized sound tracks to their animations. Macromedia Flash was reviewed in the March issue of Animation World Magazine, online at http://www.awn.com/magazines/animation-world-magazineissue1.12/toc1.12.html
Sierra Gives Us The Shivers. Washington-based Interactive software publisher Sierra On-line has released Shivers II: Harvest of Souls, a new CD-ROM for the teen and adult market. The mystery/adventure game features elaborate 3-D graphics and animation, as well as an extension to Sierra's Internet Gaming System (SIGS,) which enables users to interact and chat while playing the game. Shivers is available for $49.95 for Windows 95 and 3.1.
Activision's Zork-A-Thon. Activision has released The Zork Legacy Collection of CD-ROMS from their popular series. At a dramatically low price of $39.99, the package will include four CDs which include the games Zork Nemesis, Return to Zork, Zork Text Adventures I-III, Beyond Zork, Zork Zero, and a preview of the new Zork Grand Inquisitor.
Humongous Peddles Putt-Putt Through Time. Seattle-based Humongous Entertainment (now a subsidiary of GT Interactive) will release on June 1 the latest title in their Junior Adventure series of animated CD-ROM games for young children. Putt-Putt Travels Through Time is an educational game designed to interactively teach kids problem solving, memory, creativity and math skills. This game is available retail for $39.95 on Macintosh and Windows 95/3.1 formats.
Disney Online's A Family Affair. After investing a one-third interest in Starwave Corp. two weeks ago, Disney Online has announced that it will take over the online producer's Family Planet web site and incorporate it into their own Family.com web site. As they say, if you can't beat 'em, join 'em. . . . or, in Disney's case, acquire 'em!
WB Renews With AOL. Warner Bros. Online has renewed its contract with Internet content provider America Online, which will now include cross-promotional activities linking TV properties with their online counterparts. Kids WB programming will now feature promotions for the Kids WB AOL site.
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Curious' Steve Katz Develops Cyclops. Steve Katz, director of digital production at Curious Pictures, has invented a real-time camera input device called Cyclops, which is now being manufactured by Digital Image Design (DID.) The product is a fluid-head tripod and LCD viewing system that drives the virtual camera in 3D animation systems such as Alias, Softimage, and 3D Studio Max, replicating traditional camera operation. Using the software's existing "layered" animation functions, Cyclops enables animators to create camera moves in real time (much like a live-action director would) within a previously animated 3D sequence.
Hong Ying Licenses Pegs Software. In a move to become the largest digital animation facility in China, Hong Ying Animation Co. ordered 50 SGI workstations and licensed MediaPegs' PEGS animation software. Currently the software is being used by Hong Ying in production work on 52 episodes of DIC's The Wacky World of Tex Avery animated series. In addition to being used for digital ink and paint, the PEGS software package is designed to facilitate communication between studios and overseas production facilities, tracking production progress and transmitting status reports via modem link.
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Festivals & Events
Virtual Humans Conference In June. VR News and EDS will present a conference called Virtual Humans 2 at the Universal City Hilton in Los Angeles June 17-19. Sponsored by Silicon Graphics, the three-day conference is focused on exploring "the way virtual reality and humanoid technology are becoming part of our everyday lives, from the medical profession to the military to the entertainment industry." Events include presentations form experts in the field of 3D computer animation, motion capture, VRML and artificial life. For registration information, visit http://www.vrnews.com/vh2.html
Comiccon San Diego. The country's largest comic book convention, ComicCon International, will be held in San Diego July 17-20. Preceding the convention will be The Comic Book Expo, a conference for the exchange of ideas among professionals in the comics publishing, retail and creative industry. For information visit http://www.comic-con.org.
The Bradford Animation Festival. otherwise known as BAF, will take place June 6-12 at the National Museum of Photography, Film & Television in Bradford, England. Competition includes four categories: films by children (under 16,) by adult (professional,) adult (non-professional,) and experimental. Prizes have been donated by ASIFA and the festival's main sponsor, Royal Mail East. Additional programs include workshops, short film compilations, a special on "The Simpsons," and a retrospective of Ray Harryhausen, who will be present to host the closing night ceremony. BAF is the only annual film festival in Britain which is devoted to animation. For information on BAF, contact firstname.lastname@example.org or call ++ 44 1274-773399 (ext 274.)
Fantoche Festival Call For Entries. The second edition of the Fantoche International Festival of Animation is scheduled to take place in Baden, Switzerland, September 9-14. Planned programs include retrospectives of Piotr Dumala, Jerzy Kucia, Oksana Cherkassowa, Vera Neubauer and Kihachiro Kawamoto. Films made after January 1, 1995 are eligible for the competition, and the submission deadline is June 15. For entry forms and information, visit http://www.fantoche.ch
Williams Masterclass Sells Out, Adds Dates. All 150 registration spots have sold out in Richard Williams Masterclass which is being held in San Francisco June 6-8. A new class has been added June 20-22, to be held at the same location. For more information, visit the masterclass web page accessible from Animation World Magazine's May issue table of contents page. http://www.awn.com/mag
MOMI UK Workshops. The Museum of the Moving Image in London will present several children's workshops on animation and filmmaking during the month of May. As part of the Moving Magic Workshops held within the exhibition May 24-30, MOMI will teach children basic techniques of animation filmmaking and cartoon soundtrack making. This is featured in conjunction with the "Space Jam Showcase" exhibit featuring original production art from the Warner Bros. movie Space Jam.
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British Academy Awards The 1996 British Academy Awards were recently presented by the British Academy of Film & Television Arts (BAFTA) in London. The award for Best Short Animated Film went to The Old Lady and the Pigeons by Bernard La Joie, Didier Brunner and Sylvian Chomet of France. Other nominees for this category were: Testament: The Bible in Animation: Joseph by Elizabeth Babakhina and Aida Ziablikoua, Testament: The Bible in Animation: Moses by Naomi Jones and Gary Hurst, The Saint Inspector by Richard Hutchinson and Mike Booth, Trainspotter by Christopher Moll, Jeff Newitt and Neville Astley and Famous Fred, by John Coates, Catrin Unwin and Joanna Quinn of Wales, which received the award for Best Children's Animation.
Oslo Animation Festival. The 4th International Oslo Animation Festival held in Norway last month featured screenings of 170 films. The jury included Pritt Parn, Phil Mulloy, Menno de Nooijer, Michaela Pavlatová, Georges Lacroix, and Tone Garmann. Prizes awarded were:
Grand Prize: Apricots by Lotta and Uzi Geffenblad, Sweden.
Audience Favorite: Robin in the Dentist by Magus Carlsson, Sweden.
Best First Film: Gravitation by Prit Tender, Estonia.
Best Use of Animation in a Commercial: Four Commercials for P2 by Piotr Sagepin, Norway.
Special Jury Prizes: Otto by Jonas Odell and Stig Bergquvist, Sweden and Adventurepizza by Eva Lindstrøm, Sweden.
TV Academy Awards Internship. For the fifth year in a row, a student of the University of the Arts in Philadelphia has won the Academy of Television Arts & Sciences (ATAS) Internship Award in Animation, a national competition based on video reels and drawn portfolios. This years winner, Matthew Faughnan, will fulfill an internship at Film Roman in North Hollywood. Previous winners from University of the Arts are all working in the animation industry now.
Betty Cohen To Be Honored By Promax. Betty Cohen, president of Cartoon Network Worldwide and TNT International will be presented with an award for "International Marketer of the Year" by PROMAX, the international association of promotional and marketing professionals in electronic media. The presentation will take place during the PROMAX & BDA Convention in Chicago, June 4-7.
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