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LA-Area Animation Jobs At All-Time High

By | Monday May 12, 2014 @ 5:09pm PDT

Trend line chart Animation Guild employmentAnimation work in Southern California is booming, hitting an all-time high last year and showing no signs of slowing down. Jobs data collected by the Animation Guild shows that more than 3,350 people were working in its jurisdiction last year, more than ever before. “We’re in an upward jobs spiral,” said Steve Hulett, business rep of IATSE Animation Guild Local 839. “As more animation product is created that makes money and profits, more producers want to get into the act, and producers already in are increasing the amount of work they’re doing, so you have more work created and more employment.” Steve The_Animation_Guild,_I.A.T.S.E._Local_839_logoKaplan, the guild’s organizer, said about half the work was on animated features, which saw their biggest box office ever in 2013, with four of them – FrozenDespicable Me 2, Monsters University and The Croods — combined to pull in about $3.5 billion worldwide.

Jobs in TV animation are also on the rise. “The work has really increased on the television side,” Hulett said. “There’s more storyboard work and design work, and it’s all driven by animation’s Animation jobs pie chartprofitability. Animated television shows have been a great cash cow and profit stream for the conglomerates. They can make them for at a competitive price, and they have a long shelf life.” New media is also creating jobs for animation workers, he said, noting that DreamWorks is producing Internet content for Netflix. Hulett noted that the good times in animation are creating many good-paying jobs for other workers in the industry as well, including voice-over actors, editors, and sound technicians. “The growth here,” Hulett said, “is coming from all the preproduction work – the storyboards, layout, animation scripts, character design and key backgrounds.” Read More »

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OSCARS: Best Animation 2013 – Titans Vs. Indies In A Wide Open Race

By | Sunday December 22, 2013 @ 6:56pm PST
Pete Hammond

The race for best animated feature is usually fairly easy to predict. With a few exceptions, you can AwardsLine.LogoBWalways count on Disney/Pixar to win or place. The studio has had a pony on this track nearly every year the category has been in existence since 2001 (when DreamWorks’ Shrek became the inaugural winner). In fact, Pixar has won the prize an astonishing seven times, most recently last year when Brave triumphed. In off-years, other studios have had a shot, too, with Warner Bros. winning for Happy Feet and Paramount for Rango. And although several independent lower-budget toons have been nominated recently, the win usually goes to the higher-profile studio offerings. Pixar-LogoThis year, there are lots of indies entered, but expect the battle to continue among the titans, especially studios who are pouring money into campaigns for their box office behemoths. So when it comes to predicting a surefire winner, there just doesn’t seem to be one this year.

Related: OSCARS: 19 Films Submitted For Animated Feature

A late-breaking entry into the race has been Disney’s musical Frozen, which hasDisney's Frozen wowed critics and has been cleaning up at the box office throughout the holiday season. That, plus a huge push by Disney may be propelling it to the top of the pack. In the vein of Tangled and The Little Mermaid, Frozen comes from the creative team behind last year’s Wreck-It Ralph and carries a long pedigree of the studio’s tuneful toons, which have enjoyed a string of enormous successes over the past two decades. The fact that the songs come from the same group that delivered The Book Of Mormon also gives it a hip factor. Voters might want to reward Disney for returning to its roots, but ratcheting up the material. Disney also has Planes, a modest late-summer performer that is basically another sequel of sorts to the Cars franchise and won’t fly high in this company. But more promisingly on the subject of “planes,” Disney has famed Japanese master Hayao Miyazaki’s The Wind Rises, which is the fictionalized biography of the man who created the Zero plane used during World War II. Read More »

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OSCARS: Rule Changes Could Affect Foreign-Language And Animation Races

Pete Hammond

Although the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences is constantly reviewing their rules and regulations, the changes are usually minor. But this year one major change regarding the foreign-language category could cause a few tremors in that race: For the first time, the entire Academy will vote on the winner.

Related: OSCARS: Controversial Foreign Language Race Begins

The nominating process to select five foreign-language contenders from the 70-some entries from individual countries remains the same. But in the past, only members who had proven they had seen all five nominees in a theater were able to vote. Now everyone gets to vote without proving they’ve seen the films, just like the rest of the major categories.

But will this change the dynamics of the race, perhaps favoring higher-profile titles? Last year, Austria’s acclaimed Amour won the foreign-language Oscar the old-fashioned way. Had the new rules been in effect, it almost certainly would have won anyway because it was the rare foreign-language entry that also received a best picture nomination. Would lesser-known winners such as Argentina’s The Secret In Their Eyes (2009) or Japan’s Departures (2008) have reigned in an unsupervised Academy-wide vote against better-known nominees? Read More »

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‘Rio 2096′ Leads 2013 Annecy International Film Festival Awards

By | Saturday June 15, 2013 @ 1:50pm PDT

The annual animation festival awarded Best Feature to Luiz Bolognesi’s Rio 2096: A Story Of Love And Fury on Saturday at the close of its 2013 edition, where 236 films screened in competition. US filmmaker Daniel Sousa’s Sundance short Feral took home three honors; scroll down for the full list of Annecy winners.

Best Feature
Uma Historia de Amor e Furia (Rio 2096: A Story of Love and Fury), dir. Luiz Bolognesi

Special Distinction
Ma mama nest en Amerique, elle a rencontre Buffalo Bill (My Mommy Is in America and She Met Buffalo Bill), dir. Marc Boréal, Thibaut Chatel

Audience Award
O Apostolo (L’Apôtre), dir. Fernando Cortizo Rodriguez Read More »

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Warner Bros Sets Mechanism Designed To Generate More Animated Films

By | Monday January 7, 2013 @ 12:47pm PST
Mike Fleming

In an effort to catch up with the animated films being generated at other studios, Warner Bros has formed what it calls a feature animation creative consortium. They’ve identified a core group of filmmakers to form a Justice League for the production of cartoons. The team’s goal will be to generate one animated film per year. John Requa and Glenn Ficarra, Nicholas Stoller, Phil Lord and Chris Miller and Jared Stern are the first directors in the program. They aren’t exclusive to the studio, and will develop animated projects along with the live action films they direct. Stoller has written Storks, which will be directed by Doug Sweetland for 2015 release; Requa and Ficarra will spearhead Smallfoot, from an original idea by Despicable Me‘s Sergio Pablos, who’ll direct for 2016 release. First out of the gate will be the 3D The LEGO Movie, which will be released by Warner Bros/Village Roadshow Films by February 7, 2014. Warner Bros execs Jeff Robinov, Greg Silverman, Courtenay Valenti and Chris deFaria will oversee the effort.

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New Entirely Online Process For Animation Entries To 2013 Annie Awards

By | Monday September 3, 2012 @ 2:45pm PDT

BURBANK, Calif. (September 3, 2012) – The International Animated Film Society, ASIFA-Hollywood, announces its Call for Entries today for the 40th Annual Annie Awards. Featuring a new, more direct and entirely online platform this year, step-by-step instructions are located at submissions.annieawards.org. While submissions in all categories can be registered today, art and film/video uploads will begin on September 15. And, to provide a little extra time for all materials to arrive, we’ve extended our submissions deadline to midnight, October 21.

The 40th Annual Annie Awards ceremony is set for Saturday, February 2, 2013 at UCLA’s Royce Hall in Los Angeles. This year’s awards will be presented in 30 categories including two new categories – Best Student Production and Winsor McCay Member’s Choice Award. The new Winsor McCay Member’s Choice award will be on a separate ballot located on the Annies website (www.annieawards.org). While Annie voting is limited to ASIFA-Hollywood’s professional membership, all members both professional and associate of ASIFA’s worldwide chapters will be able to vote on this award.

Entries submitted for consideration will be from productions that were released in the United States between January 1, 2012 and December 31, 2012.  The deadline to join ASIFA-Hollywood or to renew membership in order to participate in the Annie Award voting is Sunday, November 4, 2012.

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TV Academy Names Juried Winners In Animation & Costuming

By | Wednesday August 22, 2012 @ 12:15pm PDT

NoHo Arts District, CA, August, 22, 2012 – The Academy of Television Arts & Sciences announced today the juried winners for the 64th Primetime Emmy® Awards in the categories of Individual Achievement in Animation and Costumes for a Variety Program or Special. These awards will be handed out during the Creative Arts Emmy Awards on Saturday, September 15. The 2012 juried winners include:

Outstanding Individual Achievement In Animation

Disney Phineas And Ferb • Doof Dynasty • Disney Channel • Disney Television Animation
Jill Daniels, Background Paint

Disney Prep & Landing: Naughty Vs. Nice • ABC • Walt Disney Animation Studios
Bill Schwab, Character Design

Secret Mountain Fort Awesome • Nightmare Sauce • Cartoon Network • Cartoon Network Studios
Robertryan Cory, Character Design

Secret Mountain Fort Awesome • Nightmare Sauce • Cartoon Network • Cartoon Network Studios
Chris Tsirgiotis, Background Design

Read More »

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Animation and Comic Book Veteran Roger Slifer Critically Injured In Hit And Run

By | Wednesday June 27, 2012 @ 11:16am PDT

Friends and fans of Roger Slifer are asking police and the public for their help in tracking down the hit-and-run driver who ran down Slifer in a Santa Monica intersection, leaving him in critical condition. Police say the animation and comic book veteran was crossing 5th Street early Saturday morning when he was mowed down by a white sedan with tinted windows. The driver fled and Slifer remains hospitalized. Slifer, a member of The CPL Gang, began working for Marvel in the mid-1970s, moving to DC Comics in 1981. He later transitioned into animation, working for Sunbow Entertainment as a producer, story editor and writer on series including Jem And The HologramsTransformers and G.I. Joe Extreme.

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OSCARS: Animation Feature Race Heats Up – But Will Spielberg’s ‘Tintin’ Make The Cut?

Pete Hammond

There is always controversy about what is true animation, particularly with the motion capture process which uses real performances by actors and then essentially animates the scenes. I’m told that key members in the Academy Of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences’s animation branch conferred Tuesday night for a meeting which lasted 4 hours. Among the topics said to come up was the issue of motion capture (aka performance capture), and an insider with knowledge of the situation told Deadline that they “apparently” have decided to send a letter to the filmmakers of Mars Needs Moms, Happy Feet 2 and Tintin asking them what their “intent” was in the use of the Mo Cap process before deciding whether those films qualify. In its formal rules, the Academy states that “motion capture by itself is not an animation technique” and that the films must be done in frame-by-frame animation.

This year, 3 potential nominees use the Mo Cap process: director Simon Wells’ box office bomb Mars Needs Moms (from its co-producer Robert Zemeckis’ ImageMovers), George Miller’s sequel to his Oscar-winning Happy Feet, and most notably Steven Spielberg’s long-awaited entry into the animation world The Adventures of Tintin (which he also produced with Peter Jackson and Kathleen Kennedy). Based on the Academy’s past actions, it is likely that all 3 would qualify, and it would seem unlikely that the Academy would take on Oscar winners Zemeckis, Miller and Spielberg on … Read More »

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Oscar: 15 Animated Features For 2010 Race

Beverly Hills, CA — Fifteen features have been accepted for consideration in the Animated Feature Film category for the 83rd Academy Awards®.

The 15 features are:
“Alpha and Omega”
“Cats & Dogs: The Revenge of Kitty Galore”
“Despicable Me”
“The Dreams of Jinsha”
“How to Train Your Dragon”
“Idiots and Angels”
“The Illusionist”
“Legend of the Guardians: The Owls of Ga’Hoole”
“Megamind”
“My Dog Tulip”
“Shrek Forever After”
“Summer Wars”
“Tangled”
“Tinker Bell and the Great Fairy Rescue”
“Toy Story 3”

“The Dreams of Jinsha,” “The Illusionist,” “Summer Wars” and “Tangled” have not yet had their required Los Angeles qualifying run. Submitted features must fulfill the theatrical release requirements and meet the category’s other qualifying rules before they can advance in the voting process.

Under the rules for this category, in any year in which 8 to 15 animated features are released in Los Angeles County, a maximum of 3 motion pictures may be nominated. If 16 or more animated features are submitted and accepted in the category, a maximum of 5 motion pictures may be nominated.

Films submitted in the Animated Feature Film category also may qualify for Academy Awards in other categories, including Best Picture, provided they meet the requirements for those categories.

The 83rd Academy Awards nominations will be announced live on Tuesday, January 25, 2011, at 5:30 a.m. PT in the Academy’s Samuel Goldwyn Theater.

Academy Awards for outstanding film achievements of 2010 will be presented on Sunday, February 27, 2011, at the Kodak Theatre.

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‘Despicable Me’ Crosses $500 Million Mark

Mike Fleming

EXCLUSIVE: Despicable Me, the first film out of the gate for Universal Pictures and Chris Meledandri’s Illumination Entertainment, will cross the $500 million worldwide gross mark tomorrow. It steps into rarefied territory as the film continues to roll out around the world. The 3D animated film that starred Steve Carell recently cracked the Top 10 list of all time biggest domestic-grossing animated films. The pic, which cost $69 million to make, has grossed $248 million domestically, which puts it a distant second behind Toy Story 3, but makes it 2010′s second biggest animated film domestic grosser so far. Despicable Me also has become  Universal’s sixth highest domestic-grossing film ever, and the studio’s biggest international grossing film of 2010. The film just opened in Japan but hasn’t played yet in several territories including China. It has done $247 million overseas, and is expected to finish as Universal’s fifth all-time biggest grossing film in the international marketplace. Just as important, the picture pulled Universal out of a prolonged slump. Read More »

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Walt Disney On ‘How To Train An Animator’

With DreamWorks Animation opening Megamind today, and Sony Pictures Animation just naming a new president, and Walt Disney Studios releasing Tangled shortly, and Universal/Illumination sending Despicable Me overseas, and the Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences enforcing a November 1st deadline for 2010 Best Animated feature entries, it’s more relevant than ever to spotlight a letter written by Walt Disney in 1935 about the business of toon storytelling. The Drawn Blog (described as a daily source of inspiration for illustration, animation, cartooning, and comic art) recently drew attention to an 8-page Walt memo to Don Graham, a highly respected art teacher, about setting up art classes for Disney animators that would become the studio’s structured training program. That gave birth to the Golden Age of Animation, what with Snow White And The Seven Dwarfs released in 1937, and Pinocchio and Fantasia in 1940.

The full memo is posted on the website, but I felt it was important to repeat it here as well. Because today’s toonmakers who place relentless hipness over emotional substance would do well to remember Walt’s words, especially about animation laughs: “Comedy, to be appreciated, must have contact with the audience. This we all know, but sometimes forget. By contact, I mean that there must be a familiar, sub-conscious association. Somewhere, or at some time, the audience has felt, or met with, or seen, or dreamt, the situation pictured. A study of the best gags and audience reaction we have had, will prove that the action or situation is something based on an imaginative experience or a direct life connection. This is what I mean by contact with the audience. When the action or the business loses its contact, it becomes silly and meaningless to the audience.”

WALT DISNEY PRODUCTIONS
INTER-OFFICE COMMUNICATION

DATE DECEMBER 23, 1935
TO DON GRAHAM
FROM WALT

Right after the holidays, I want to get together with you and work out a very systematic training course for young animators, and also outline a plan of approach for our older animators.

Some of our established animators at the present time are lacking in many things, and I think we should arrange a series of courses to enable these men to learn and acquire the things they lack.

Naturally the first most important thing for any animator to know is how to draw. Therefore it will be necessary that we have a good life drawing class. But you must remember Don, that while there are many men who make a good showing in the drawing class, and who, from your angle, seem good prospects – these very men lack in some other phase of the business that is very essential to their success as animators.

I have found that men respond much more readily to classes dealing with practical problems than to more theoretic treatment. Therefore I think it would be a very good idea to appeal to these men by conducting these classes with the practical approach in mind. In other words, try to show in these classes that the men can make immediate practical application of what they are being taught.

The talks given by Fergy, Fred Moore, Ham Luske, and Fred Spencer, have been enthusiastically received by all those in attendance. Immediately following these talks, I have noticed a great change in animation. Some men have made close to 100% improvement in the handling and timing of their work. This strikes me as pointing a way toward the proper method of teaching in the future.

The following occurs to me as a method of procedure:

Read More »

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James McAvoy And Hugh Laurie Voice Aardman’s ‘Arthur Christmas’

They join Jim Broadbent, Bill Nighy and Imelda Staunton for Aardman’s first movie under its 3-year Sony Pictures Animation deal. The 3D CG film is slated for release on November 23 of next year. Set on Christmas night, the film’s story reveals the answer to every child’s question: “How does Santa deliver all those presents in one night?” McAvoy leads the cast as Arthur, Santa’s youngest son, while Laurie plays his older brother Steve, who runs Christmas night with military-style precision. Sony is also in production with Aardman on The Pirates!

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Wallace & Gromit Toon Profits Fall By 56%

By | Sunday October 10, 2010 @ 9:25pm PDT

Aardman, the animation company which makes the Oscar-winning cartoon duo, saw its profits fall from £1,061,408 to £469,243 ($747,826) in 2009. But at least it made a profit, Aardman stresses. It was reported here over the weekend that the company had made a whopping £2.5 million loss. That’s because we journos looked in the wrong column of Aardman’s profit-and-loss account, finance director Kerry Lock tells me. Aardman has been dragged down by its TV commercials division reporting its lowest income for 5 years plus an expensive move into its new Bristol headquarters. Because of the way the 20% UK film tax credit works, it makes reporting year-end accounts much more complicated, Lock says. Aardman is owed £2.9 million in tax credits, which will convert the £2.5 million loss reported in one column into the £469,243 profit reported in another. The animator’s in the middle of production on two new Sony movies: Arthur Christmas and Pirates. It’s due to deliver Arthur Christmas by the end of 2011 and Pirates in 2012. The company generated a 59% increase in turnover last year to £31.6 million.

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Sony UK Acquires ‘Jackboots On Whitehall’

By | Friday September 24, 2010 @ 11:12pm PDT

The studio’s home entertainment arm has picked up UK rights to the WWII satire. Vertigo Films will release the puppet cartoon theatrically on October 8th. Ewan McGregor voices the hero with Rosamund Pike, Tom Wilkinson, Stephen Merchant, Alan Cumming, Richard E Grant, Timothy Spall, Dominic West, Richard Griffiths, Richard O’Brien and Brit TV comedian Sanjeev Bhaskar doing other voices. Jackboots On Whitehall, tubthumped as Team America meets Inglorious Basterds, opens Raindance Film Festival on September 29th and the San Francisco International Animation Festival on November 11th. Here’s the trailer:

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DISNEY SMASHES BOX OFFICE RECORDS: ‘Toy Story 3′ Crossing $1B, Studio First To Release 2 Billion-Dollar Pics In Single Year

Today, Disney/Pixar’s Toy Story 3 is expected to cross the $1 billion box office mark in global grosses. The film is already the world’s largest animated release of all time and the 7th biggest motion picture. That makes Disney the first studio in history to release two $1 billion films in a  single year. Its Alice In Wonderland is the 5th biggest title in global box office history after taking $1.0243 billion in worldwide grosses. Of course, both films were 3D and able to charge higher ticket prices.

UPDATE: Here is the Disney news release –

BURBANK, Calif. – August 27, 2010 – Two weeks after becoming the highest-grossing animated film of all time, Disney•Pixar’s Toy Story 3 will cross the $1 billion mark at the global box office today, joining Alice in Wonderland as the second $1 billion film this year from The Walt Disney Studios – the first studio in history to accomplish this feat. Disney first crossed the $1 billion threshold with Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man’s Chest in 2006. Toy Story 3 becomes the only animated film to reach this milestone and the seventh title in industry history.

“It’s been an incredible year as we saw the Pixar team bring Buzz and Woody back to the big screen and watched Tim Burton’s vision for Alice in Wonderland take the world by storm,” said Rich Ross, Chairman, The Walt

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‘Toy Story 3′ Now Biggest Toon Of All Time

BURBANK, Calif. – August 13, 2010 – With record-breaking box office tallies around the world, Disney/Pixar’s Toy Story 3 has become the highest-grossing animated film of all time taking in more than $920 million at the global box office to date. This weekend, the critically acclaimed Toy Story 3 is expected to become Disney’s second film to cross the $400 million domestic threshold and currently ranks as the 4th highest grossing film in company history globally. “In 1995, the talented team at Pixar introduced a cowboy, a space ranger and their friends who have gone on to become some of the most beloved characters in the world. The success of Toy Story is due to the tremendously creative and innovative team at Pixar, led by John Lasseter and Ed Catmull, and our incredible marketing and distribution teams around the world,” said Rich Ross

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Warner Bros Next Movie Star: Bugs Bunny

By | Thursday August 12, 2010 @ 5:44pm PDT
Mike Fleming

EXCLUSIVE: Warner Bros has hired Elf scribe David Berenbaum to write Bugs Bunny, a live action/CG feature film designed to revive one of the studio’s most iconic intellectual properties. I’m told that Berenbaum, who also adapted The Spiderwick Chronicles and is writing an animated project with George Lucas–just closed his deal.  No producer has yet been assigned. While Warner Bros has struggled to pick winners out of its DC Comics catalog beyond Batman, the studio has done little with its Looney Tunes catalog lately. Warner Bros scored with the 1996 film Space Jam, mingling Looney Tunes characters with NBA Read More »

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Chris Meledandri’s Illumination Game Plan Includes ‘Despicable Me’ Sequel, ‘Minion’ Spinoffs, Dr. Seuss, The Addams Family

Mike Fleming

Film Review Despicable MeEXCLUSIVE: Three years ago, Universal Pictures brass wooed Chris Meledandri away from his president post at Fox Animation to start its first family film unit. Over the weekend, Illumination’s first effort, Despicable Me, nearly doubled Universal’s gross predictions for a $56.4 million opening. Suddenly, the Meledandri decision looks like one of the better ones made by NBC Universal in a good long time. The studio has reinforced that by making a full commitment to the venture. Illumination’s original co-financing game plan made by former chairmen David Linde and Marc Shmuger called for Universal to fund only half the operation and film budgets, and Illumination’s founder and CEO Meledandri raising the rest. meledandri_chrisBut that plan was delayed by the credit crunch. Then Universal chiefs Ron Meyer, Rick Finkelstein and Adam Fogelson and Donna Langley told Meledandri, in a decision that went all the way up to NBC Universal’s Jeff Zucker, that they didn’t want to share and would fully fund him. Meledandri, who has autonomy but won’t make pictures that don’t excite the studio’s toppers, sparked to Uni’s financing plan because it incentivizes hustle to release and market the films. Despicable Me, for instance, was heavily cross-promoted in NBC-Universal platforms that included network, cable and theme parks.

The result is now a momentum changer for Universal on several fronts. Despicable Me ended a prolonged hit pic slump. It plugged the studio into a … Read More »

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