PACIFIC DATA IMAGES (PDI) has licensed Alias|Wavefront's compositing software, Composer, for use in its computer animation production. This represents a significant outside purchase for the studio, which mainly uses in-house proprietary software. PDI's director of research and development, Ken Pearce explained, "It's often difficult to incorporate off-the-shelf solutions into our proprietary graphics pipeline, but the openness of Composer makes it easy to integrate."
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BIOMECHANICS has released a software program called Nuance, which is specifically designed to edit captured motion. It allows animators to "tweak" motion-capture data to perfect the animation or "resize" motion by determining a number of frames over which an action will occur. Nuance can be used with 3D animation software such as Maya and 3D Studio MAX. The cost is U.S. $7, 495. for a single-seat license.
JON VEIN has been promoted from senior to executive vice president at FILM ROMAN, a role in which he will continue to oversee the company's reach into feature films, including "There Goes the Neighborhood," a live-action/animation film in development with Universal.
On September 1, Buena Vista Home Entertainment released the English-language dubbed video of Hayao Miyazaki's animated feature, "Kiki's Delivery Service." The family film tells the story of a 13-year-old witch named Kiki. The English voice track features Kirsten Dunst, Phil Hartman, Matthew Lawrence, Debbie Reynolds and Janeane Garofolo. The film is 104 minutes, rated "G" and priced at U.S. $19.99. The Walt Disney Company will distribute several more of Miyazaki's films, including "Princess Mononoke" (theatrical release by Miramax, summer 1999) and "Castle in the Sky" (video release 1999).
MIKE DARNELL has been promoted to executive vice president of specials and alternative programming for FOX BROADCASTING, where he will oversee new projects including the animated series "Family Guy," "The PJs" and "Futurama." Darnell joined the network in 1994 as director of specials.
Fall is upon us, and so is the season of many video releases. Following is a list of upcoming U.S. video releases of Japanese anime films. A.D.V. Films and their label Urban Vision will release "Tekkamen Blade II - Stage 3: Final Encounter" (9/22/98), "Dark Warrior" (10/06/98), "MAPS 1 & 2" (10/06/98), "Dark Warrior - First Strike" (10/06/98), "Cutey Honey Volume 2" (10/13/98), "Delinquent in Drag" (10/20/98), "Ruin Explorers 2" (10/27/98) and "Slayers: Dragon Slave!" (11/10/98).
SAM REGISTER has been promoted to vice president of CARTOON NETWORK ONLINE. He was previously creative director for the division, and has overseen the development and recent launch of the network's web site, www.cartoonnetwork.com. Prior to joining Cartoon Network in Atlanta, Register worked in San Francisco at (Colossal) Pictures as creative director and at Turner New Media, where, as creative director, he created the Cartoon Network World section of America Online.
Coinciding with the U.S. tour of The Spice Girls, Psygnosis has released "Spice World," a PlayStation console video game. The game, aimed at pre-teen girls, gives users a chance to choreograph dance routines starring animated versions of Ginger, Scary, Baby, Posh and Sporty Spice. While it may not be rocket science, the Spice Girls game does address a need for games designed for girls. "Spice World" for PlayStation is $35.95.
Toronto, Canada-based animation company Nelvana Limited has completed the acquisition of 100% of the shares of Kids Can Press Ltd., a Canadian publisher of children's books. One of Kids Cans properties is Franklin, the story of a turtle which Nelvana has already turned into an animated series. The $6.1 million (CAN) acquisition now gives Nelvana access to Kids Cans library of over 250 children's book titles. One of these, titled Elliot Moose, is currently being developed for an animated television series.
In June, Avid Technologies bought Softimage [AF 6/17/98], combining two powers of digital production and 3D graphics. Not to be outdone, in a similar yet reversed situation, San Rafael, California-based Autodesk, Inc. (Nasdaq: ADSK) has announced plans to acquire Montreal, Canada-based Discreet Logic (Nasdaq: DSLGF). Autodesk is the parent company of Kinetix, makers of 3D graphics and animation software such as 3D StudioMAX and Character Studio. The merger had some foreshadowing, as Kinetix and Discreet Logic announced a product integration partnership in March [AF 4/7/98].
The Vital! International Animation Festival (formerly known as Cardiff) is closing its doors due to financial losses incurred at its latest edition in June 1998. This years festival director Jane Williams has left the organization, and the board of directors is now responsible for managing a debt which sources said amounts to approximately (U.K.) £25,000.
UCLAs School of Theater, Film and Television has appointed ROBERT ROSEN dean, replacing Gil Cates, who stepped down from the post last year but remains a member of the faculty. Rosen was promoted internally from the position of dean of the Film and Television School, a division of the Theater, Film and Television School (including the Animation Workshop). He has worked at UCLA since 1975. . . . Filmmaker JAMES CAMERON and effects master STAN WINSTON have resigned from the board of directors of the Venice, California-based effects studio they co-founded five years ago, DIGITAL DOMAIN.
Paramounts Great America theme park in Santa Clara, California is starting construction on a new 2.3-acre area called Kidzville, scheduled to open to the public in March 1999. The featured attractions and rides will be based on Hanna-Barbera characters such as Scooby Doo, Shaggy, Yogi Bear and Top Cat. However, this is not a new licensing deal. Hanna-Barbera costumed characters have been featured at the park since it was opened by Marriott in 1976 and bought by Paramount in 1992.
Nickelodeon Movies has acquired the feature film rights to Jeff Smiths comic book, Bone for an unspecified amount of money in the high six-figure range. The property is being developed as an animated feature film to be directed by Smith.
Imagina, a computer conference and festival which is often referred to as the European equivalent to SIGGRAPH, is expanding for its 18th edition, January 18-22, 1999. In keeping with tradition, the event will start in Monaco, January 18-20, with conferences and panel discussions on the theme "integral images and meta tools", the "Prix Pixel-INA" awards competition and the Innovation Space; then, in Paris, January 20-22, the event will continue with the exhibition of new industrial developments and technologies.
For information, visit www.ina.fr/ina/imagina.
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).
In last weeks Animation Flash, London-based Passion Pictures was mistakenly credited for three 30-second animated spots for travel agency Lunn Poly/Thomson, animated by Mic Graves, Robin Shaw and Joris van Hulzen. The spots were, in fact, produced by aka Pizazz, a different animation studio in London.
Worldfest, an independent film festival which has been held in Houston for the past 32 years and additionally in Charleston, South Carolina for the past five years, is moving from Charleston to Flagstaff, Arizona. The first annual Worldfest-Flagstaff International Film Festival will be held November 13-22, 1998. Houston will continue as usual.
The Writers Guild of America has forged an agreement with Twentieth Century Fox to cover writers working on prime-time animated shows The Simpsons, King of the Hill, Futurama and Family Guy. This is of great significance for animation writers and WGAs Animation Writers Caucus, because it gives animation writers on these shows the same benefits as their live-action counterparts, such as mandatory payment for re-writes and access to the WGA health insurance plan.
ANNE SWEENEY has been named president of DISNEY/ABC CABLE NETWORKS, filling a position left vacant when Geraldine Laybourne left in June to form her own media company. Since 1996, Sweeney has been president of the Disney Channel, a title she will retain with the promotion, which will add several programming outlets under her wing: Lifetime, A&E, The History Channel and E! Entertainment Television, as well as ABCs Saturday morning line-up. Prior to Disney, Sweeney was at FX for three years and at Nickelodeon for 12. . . .
Geraldine Laybourne, often described as one of the most powerful women inthe entertainment industry, has left her post as president of Disney/ABC Cable Networks to form her own diversified media company. With ABC asits first investor and client, the still unnamed company will focus oncreating branded content for the Internet and television, targeted mainlyat women and children. Prior to joining Disney/ABC in 1996, Laybourne waspresident of Nickelodeon/Nick at Nite, a company she joined in 1980 at its
Twentieth Century Fox Home Entertainmentis flooding the kids home video market with eight new releases priced atU.S. $5.98 (Canadian $7.98) each. The titles being released on April 7 arere-releases of the TV series episodes and vault films: "The Adventures ofRaggedy Ann & Andy: The Mabbit Adventure," "Bobby's World: Roger 'n Me,""Cinderella," "Life With Louie: For Pete's Sake," "Life With Louie: TheMasked Chess Boy," "Snow White" and "The Tick: The Tick vs. Arthur." In
* Tuesday, April 21-Sunday, April 26. Toronto, Ontario, Canada.The first Sprockets Toronto International Film Festival for Children.Animated works in the program include the 1940s "Animaland" cartoons byDavid Hand, "Carmen Habanera" by Polish animator Aleksandra Korejwo and"Smoke" by Cal Arts graduate Bobby Podesta. For information, call (416)968-FILM.
* Wednesday, April 22-Friday, April 24. Eugene, Oregon, U.S.A.The first annual Motion Graphics, Animation and Arts Festival will take
The British Academy of Film and Television Artsheld its 50th British Academy Film Awards in London on Sunday, April 19.The winner for Best Short Animated Film is Aardman's "Stage Fright," byHelen Nabarro, Michael Rose and Steve Box. In the category, BestAchievement in Special Visual Effects, the winner is "The Fifth Element.