Scholastic’s New ‘Clifford the Big Red Dog’ Launches in December

Clifford the Big Red Dog — the new kids’ book-inspired TV series produced by Scholastic Entertainment — will make its larger-than-life debut on Amazon Prime Video, December 6, and on PBS KIDS, December 7. The 39 x 22’ reboot will feature beloved characters Clifford and his best friend Emily Elizabeth, new friends, new imagined adventures, a vibrant new art style, and an original song in every episode.

“We look at every character on PBS KIDS as a role model for the joy of learning,” said Linda Simensky, VP, Children’s Programming, PBS. “Emily Elizabeth and Clifford showcase the thrill of working together and learning from one another, through stories that weave together imaginative play, early learning, and social-emotional concepts.”

The new series will be supported by an expansive licensing and consumer products program and a global publishing program, with new titles launching in 2019. Scholastic is seeking licensing partners in all product categories, the first wave of licensees will be announced soon.

The live-action hybrid Clifford the Big Red Dog feature film from Paramount Pictures premieres November 13, 2020.

“With an exciting expanded world and so many big adventures ahead, Clifford the Big Red Dog will win over children and families around the globe once again,” said series co-executive producer Caitlin Friedman, SVP & General Manager Scholastic Entertainment. “From a fresh new look to a full-scale licensing program with products that will help kids extend the fun and positive messages of the series beyond the screen, Clifford is well-poised to make a larger-than-life return.”

Based on the best-selling Scholastic books of the same name, written and illustrated by Norman Bridwell, the first Clifford the Big Red Dog cartoon premiered on PBS KIDS in 2000. The standout show has aired in 110 countries and has garnered numerous industry excellence awards. Scholastic published the first Clifford title in 1963, and today there are more than 133 million books of the Big Red Dog’s adventures in print in 16 different languages.

“Clifford has been a beloved friend and enduring presence in children’s lives for more than 50 years,” said Iole Lucchese, Scholastic Chief Strategy Officer and Executive Producer. “We’re thrilled to introduce the reimagined Clifford the Big Red Dog series to a new generation of families, including the millennials who grew up with Clifford and now get to share his stories of loyalty and kindness with their own children.”

Clifford the Big Red Dog is produced by Scholastic Entertainment, in collaboration with 100 Chickens and 9 Story Media Group.

Animation Magazine

CBS Releasing ‘Our Cartoon President’ S1 on December 18

Take an animated tour of White House shenanigans this month when CBS Home Entertainment and Paramount Home Media Distribution release Our Cartoon President: Season One with World Class Amenities on DVD, out December 18.

Executive produced by Emmy Award winner Stephen Colbert, his The Late Show with Stephen Colbert colleague Chris Licht and showrunner R.J. Fried (Triumph’s Election Watch 2016), the set includes all 18 episodes from the acclaimed Showtime original series, including “Election Special 2018.”

Our Cartoon President follows the truish misadventures of the 45th President of the United States as he faces natural disasters, the Russian collusion investigation and the temptation to nuke anyone who suggests he should eat a salad. In this parallel cartoon universe, the Commander-in-Chief opens the White House doors for an “all access” look at his day-to-day life. The satirical series examines the quintessentially Trumpian details of the presidency and those in his presidential circle, from wildly out of touch Democrats and members of the media to his puppy-brained sons Don Jr. and Eric. When you’re finished screaming, laugh about what America has become in the era of Our Cartoon President.

The series is produced by CBS Television Studios, with Tim Luecke — co-creator of The Late Show with Stephen Colbert version of the animated Trump — as lead animator and co-executive producer, and Matt Lappin as consulting producer.

DVD special features include:

  • Introduction from Stephen Colbert
  • Two different commentaries and video introduction to episode one, “State of the Union,” by directors Tim Luecke, Steve Conner, Mack Williams and Kirill Yeretsky
  • Commentary and video introduction to ep. 15, “The Wall,” by writers/performers Jennifer F. Jackson, Gabriel Gundacker, Eliana Kwartler and Bob Powers
  • Commentary and video introduction to ep. 18, “Election Special 2018,” by R.J. Fried, Zach Smilovitz and Mike Leech
  • A look at the animation process in “The Evolution of Fear” introduced on-camera by the animation directors
  • Table read with cast, producers and department heads for ep. 11, “Russia Investigation.”
  • “2016 Election Special” clip, including video intro from co-creators Matt Lappin and Tim Luecke
  • “Cartoon Trump” clip from The Late Show with Stephen Colbert with video intro by the voice of Cartoon Trump, Jeff Bergman
  • “White House Correspondents’ Dinner” clip, including a video intro from exec producers Chris Licht and R.J. Fried
  • Image gallery
Our Cartoon President

Our Cartoon President

Animation Magazine

Nickelodeon Plans Holly Jolly December for Pre-K Viewers

Nickelodeon is decking the halls with festive programming for little ones this month! Starting Saturday, Dec. 8, at 11 a.m. (ET/PT), preschoolers can unwrap the gift of all-new premieres of hit series PAW Patrol, Butterbean’s Café, Blaze and the Monster Machines, Top Wing and more. Throughout the month of December, fans can also tune in to the Nick Jr. preschool block on Nickelodeon and the Nick Jr. channel to catch holiday-themed encores of Nella the Princess Knight, Sunny Day, Dora the Explorer, Blue’s Clues, Bubble Guppies, Peppa Pig and Team Umizoomi, among others.

Preschool premieres for December…

Nick Jr. Preschool Block on Nickelodeon (all times ET/PT):

FRIDAY, DEC. 14
12:00 p.m. – PAW Patrol “Pups Save a Frozen Camp-Out/Pups Save the Fizzy Pickles” Alex and Mr. Porter are on a tropical island camping trip when a freak snowstorm hits. / Mr. Porter is delivering his famous fizzy pickles to people around town when a bumpy road shakes up the deliveries and causes the pickle jars to pop.

12:30 p.m. – Butterbean’s Café “The Sugar Plum Fairy!”It’s the holiday season in Puddlebrook. When Butterbean’s Sugar Plum Fairy Cake goes missing, Cricket is afraid the Sugar Plum Fairy won’t visit. Guest Star: Giada De Laurentiis

FRIDAY, DEC. 21
12:00 p.m. – Blaze and the Monster Machines “Snow Day Showdown” It’s a snowy day in Axle City, and every truck in town is lining up for a delicious winter warm-up — hot chocolate! When Crusher tries to take all the hot chocolate for himself, Blaze is in hot pursuit to get it back.

12:30 p.m. – Top Wing “Top Wing Rescues Survivor Bear/Timmy Wings It” The Cadets team up to rescue TV adventure star Survivor Bear who comes to Big Swirl to brave Icy Summit. / When Swift hurts his wing, Timmy Turtle has to help pilot the Flash Wing to save the day.

Nick Jr. Channel:

SATURDAY, DEC. 8
11:00 a.m. – Rusty Rivets “Rusty Saves Christmas” Rusty, Ruby, and Liam head to the North Pole to fix Santa’s conveyor belt that he uses to load gifts from his workshop into his gigantic toy bag. Frankie stows away to find the present he really wants for Christmas.

MONDAY, DEC. 10
3:00 p.m. – Becca’s Bunch “Runaway Acorns” When Wagtail Woods’ supply of acorns is lost, Becca and her Bunch go on a mission to recover them before a winter storm arrives.

WEDNESDAY, DEC. 12
3:00 p.m. – Becca’s Bunch “Merry Woodsmas” Becca and her Bunch pick Santa as their Secret Santa, but how do you give the best present giver in the world a gift?

THURSDAY, DEC. 13
3:00 p.m. – Becca’s Bunch “Snowball Rumble” Becca and her Bunch are finally old enough to compete in the Snowball Rumble and face off against their Cheddarton rivals.

SATURDAY, DEC. 15
11:00 a.m. – Thomas & Friends “Kangaroo Christmas/Hunt the Car” Thomas is surprised that it’s summer in Australia over Christmas and helps to reunite a baby kangaroo with its mother. / Bill and Ben’s latest game consists of hiding cars and making other engines hunt for them. After they discover that one of the cars is for the children’s Christmas Party at Ulfstead Castle, they want to give it back but it’s not where they left it.

WEDNESDAY, DEC. 19
3:00 p.m. – Cleo & Cuquin “The Big Freeze” Everyone is having fun ice skating until Cuquin, who can’t skate, discovers how fun it is to knock them down. Everyone gets angry and sore, but Cleo knows how to fix it — they just have to teach Cuquin how to skate!

THURSDAY, DEC. 20 3:00 p.m. – Cleo & Cuquin “Christmas Day” Everyone is decorating the house for Christmas, but they soon learn that Cuquin’s present destroyed Santa’s toy factory. Cleo comes up with the solution — they’ll be Santa’s elves and help him with the presents

Animation Magazine

‘The Day Henry Met’ Coming to Milkshake! in December

Channel 5’s Milkshake! preschool block is set to become the exclusive UK free-to-air home for Irish studio Wiggleywoo’s hit preschool series The Day Henry Met… The animation will premiere later this year on the country’s No. 1 commercial destination for kids 4-6.

In every episode, Henry meets something new — The day Henry met a whale! The day Henry met the moon! The day Henry met a Car! These charming adventures now run to four seasons, each 26 x 5’. The Day Henry Met… originally premiered on RTE in Ireland and then on Nick Jr. in 178 countries, prior to moving to Free TV and SVOD.

Existing Free TV partners include RAI (Italy), ABC (Australia), SVT (Sweden), YLE (Finland), TVO, TFO and Knowledge Network (Canada), TVP (Poland), Eesti (Estonia), LTV (Latvia) and RUV (Iceland). SVOD rights have sold to Amazon, Svensk (Scandinavia), TF1 (France), Telefonica (Spain), BT (Great Britain), Jetsen Huashi (China), Horng En Culture (Taiwan) and others.

The series has also sold to 20 airlines including Virgin Atlantic, Emirates, Qantas Airlines, Lufthansa, Air France, Norwegian Air and Cathay Pacific.

Commenting on the UK deal Louise Bucknole, VP of Programming at VIMN Kids said, “We’re delighted to be welcoming The Day Henry Met… to Milkshake!, which showcases the very best in British and Irish preschool content.”

The Day Henry Met… is distributed internationally by Monster Entertainment which has just made its first publishing deals with the O’Brien Press for the UK and Ireland and New Frontier in Australia and New Zealand.

The series continues to enjoy terrific ratings. In Italy, The Day Henry Met… is ranked fifth among the most viewed programs on free children’s channels in the 13:00-18:00 time slot, with a 13.32% share of viewers aged 4-7. The Day Henry Met… is performing similarly to Albero Azzurro and Peppa Pig and has also received a morning timeslot on RAI YoYo.

Animation Magazine

25 Most Popular Cannabis Strains Across North America in December

During the Season of Giving, it was Alien OG, Tahoe OG, and Animal Cookies that inflamed the enthusiasm of online consumers – making them some of North America’s most searched strains in December While California finally unleashed the economic forces of retail marijuana sales on Jan. 1, 2018, Nevada became the fourth state to roll […]
Marijuana

Congress Avoids Shutdown, MMJ Safe Until Late December

On Thursday, elected officials in the House and Senate passed a stopgap-spending bill that temporarily averts a federal shutdown of the U.S. government and extends protections for state medical marijuana programs through Dec. 22. The two-week continuing resolution (CR) was initially passed in the House 235-193 and shortly thereafter by the Senate 81-14. Agreed-upon by […]
Marijuana

‘LEGO Ninjago Movie’ Masks Up for December Release

The LEGO Ninjago Movie

The LEGO Ninjago Movie

Wrap up some laughs for the holidays with the home entertainment release of The LEGO Ninjago Movie next month! Out on Digital Dec. 12 and on 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray Combo Pack (SRP $ 44.95), Blu-ray 3D Combo Pack  ($ 44.95), Blu-ray Combo Pack ($ 35.99) and DVD ($ 28.98) on Dec. 19 from Warner Bros. Home Entertainment, fans can relive the hilarious thrills with awesome bonus material featuring their favorite minifigs. The flick will also be on the multi-studio streaming service Movies Anywhere.

Directed by Charlie Bean, Paul Fisher and Bob Logan, LEGO Ninjago centers on Lloyd (voiced by Dave Franco), high school student by day and Green Ninja by night, who gets thrown into the ultimate adventure with his secret ninja warrior friends! Led by the wise and wisecracking Master Wu (Jackie Chan), they must defeat evil warlord Garmadon (Justin Theroux), The Worst Guy Ever, who also happens to be Lloyd’s dad. On their courageous journey, they learn to band together to unleash their inner power in an epic showdown to save the city.

The voice cast also features Michael Peña as Kai; Fred Armisen as Cole; Kumail Nanjiani as Jay; Abbi Jacobson as Nya; Zach Woods as Zane; and Olivia Munn as Lloyd’s mom, Koko. Animal Logic provided the animation.

Standard DVD includes a sneak peek at the Ninjago TV series and three deleted scenes: “Animation Bridge Test,” “Baby Fight” and “Dock Scene.” 4K/Blu-ray 3D/Blu-ray packs include:

  • Team Supreme: Building NINJAGO® – featurette
  • Rumble in the Bricks- featurette
  • Rebrick Contest Winners- featurette
  • Which Way to the Ocean – mini-movie
  • Zane’s Stand Up Promo – mini-movie
  • The Master: A LEGO® NINJAGO® Short – mini-movie
  • LEGO® NINJAGO® TV Series Sneak Peek
  • Oh, Hush! & Jeff Lewis Found My Place – Music Video
  • Everybody Have a Ninja Day – Music Video
  • Rocktagon – Music Video
  • Warlord Ballad – Music Video
  • Animation Bridge Test – Deleted Scene
  • Baby Fight– Deleted Scene
  • Dock Scene– Deleted Scene
  • Gimme Some Outtakes!
  • Commentary by Director Charlie Bean and Crew
  • 13 Promotional Videos
The LEGO Ninjago Movie

The LEGO Ninjago Movie

Animation Magazine

What Were North America’s Most Popular Strains in December?

No surprise to anyone with ties to the retail marijuana market, the classic Sativa Blue Dream held its spot atop the most popular strains for the month of December, 2016. Sifting through data generated by 8 million visits across all Weedmaps menu platforms, we’ve complied a list detailing the most popular strains and provided their average dispensary prices. […]
Marijuana

Family Channel & Family Jr. Get Festive for December

DHX-Media-150

DHX Media’s DHX Television channels Family Jr. and Family Channel will be bringing a sleigh-load of holiday programming into Canadian homes this month, including brand new themed episodes of animated series and hilarious holiday movies.

Starting next week on Family Jr., young kiddos and their families can catch winter-themed episodes of preschool hits YaYa & Zouk, Messy Goes to OKIDO, Bob the Builder and Yo Gabba Gabba! The channel will also run a special Thomas & Friends programming event with an online Watch and Win contest (familyjr.ca) from Dec. 14-25. Audiences can also catch the “Kate in Oz” Kate & Mim-Mim special in December, and a full day of seasonal programming on Christmas Day.

Over on Family Channel, the lineup for older kids kicks off Friday Dec. 2 with the network premiere of British comedy flick Get Santa, followed by the classic Home Alone 3. The CG reindeer adventure The Flight Before Christmas takes off Dec. 9, followed by Gaumont’s Santa’s Apprentice Dec. 10. Other highlights include live-action specials Scoot and Kassie’s Christmas Adventure on Dec. 16 and Hank Zipzer and the Christmas Catastrophe on Dec. 17.

Family Channel will be running seasonal programming every Saturday and Sunday this month beginning at 10 a.m. ET/PT, and festive movies on Fridays and Saturdays at 8 p.m. From December 19 to 25, the network is decking the halls with Christmas movies from 1 – 7 p.m. ET/PT daily, such as: Elf, Home Alone 2: Lost in New York, Home Alone 3 and Bob’s Broken Sleigh.

Santa's Apprentice

Santa’s Apprentice

Animation Magazine

December 2016 Tech Review

foundry_katana_box
The Foundry’s Katana

www.thefoundry.co.uk

Katana is a unique beast in the CG toolbox. Its functionality is focused and limited, which makes it exceptional at what it does, rather than pretty good at a whole lot of things (which many generalist 3D package suffer from). So what does Katana do? It collects geometry assets, assigns shaders, uses lights and cameras to generate a scene, which it then packages up and throws to a render engine to make the final images (along with AOVs). So, its basically a scene assembler. You don’t model in it. You don’t animate in it. You don’t simulate in it. You develop looks, light assets, and render them.

Katana uses a Nuke-like (or Houdini-like, if you like) node based workflow to build scenes. Load camera. Load ABC animated geometry, etc., all come in as nodes, which essentially makes it procedural, and reusable. Change something upstream and the result pops out downstream. So, if you have a bunch of similar scenes, you can recycle the same setup, using different cameras or animation — but getting the same look. The node tree — or even part of the node tree, can be saved as a “recipe,” which can be shared with other lighting artists.

Look dev artists can work in parallel to the lighters, publishing new variants to audition without necessarily breaking everything in process. Since the shaders are applied within the Katana node tree and not to the model directly, the workflow becomes a bit safer. Additionally, Katana shaders are driving version of all the installed render plug-ins. Renderman, Arnold, VRay, and 3Delight receive their version of the shader as it gets sent to render.

So these are all cool — and in my mind, kinda critical. But its Katana’s scene management that really makes things worthwhile. Because it loads in assets, or subsets of assets, and it works in conjunction with delayed read processes (within having to save out to the specific file format per renderer). It only worries about the pieces of the scene that you really need — providing you with an interactive render of the scene without bringing in the 2 billion polygons from the full geometry. This keeps load time down and the UI responsive. Because, if you have artists waiting for files to load — thats a lot of money wasted. Better to have them be productive.

Katana is powerful and it’s catering to a niche market — which may grow now that its available for Windows. This makes it an expensive investment and may not be worth it for MomNPop’s VFX Studio to get it. It also becomes more powerful if you can bolster it with pipeline tools developed in Python, or internally using LUA — this kinda requires a bit more of a support team. So, all in all, it’s extremely useful — and has been proven in studios like Imageworks (where it was first created), Digital Domain, ILM, and MPC, just to name a few. But it may be luxurious for tiny boutiques.

160419_CaraVR

The Foundry’s CaraVR

www.thefoundry.co.uk

Virtual reality is still seemingly all the rage, and with things that are all the rage, people want to dive right in and start developing for it without really investigating the problems stemming from new and relatively unproven technology when it come to developing the actual content. VR is completely synthetic worlds was (comparatively) cake. You build CG stuff, and then through a real-time engine you get to look around and experience the new world.

But what happens when you try to develop live-action for VR? It’s a whole new ball of wax. You have multiple cameras whose footage needs to be stitched. And each camera has slightly different color. And then there is a film crew hanging around — how do you get rid of them? And I haven’t even gotten to the part where you incorporate visual effects! Yikes

Well, as usual, The Foundry has a smarty pants team with a bunch of Ph.D’s I’m sure who have been looking into these problems, and the result is Cara VR, a plugin that lives inside of Nuke and provides a whole new toolset for dealing with the issues of VR.

First step in the VR process is to solve the camera array. Cara VR has a bunch of presets for the most used VR camera rigs, but the algorithm is made to analyze all of the camera footage together to build a digital rig, and it puts together everything into a single output in a long flattened image. Because VR is stereo, there is a consideration for depth, and solutions for convergence can be separated to get the best convergence for distant and closer objects.

But now, what happens? Each camera looks different and there are mismatches along borders an ghosting on elements where the convergence is off. But Cara VR has a ColourMatcher node for balancing color and exposure differences, and Stitcher for massaging those edges together. Traditional Nuke tools are still functional in the Cara VR world so you can remove or paint items that might cause trouble if you can’t solve the problems automagically with the Cara VR toolset.

Now the cameras match, but there was rotational movement in the rig which makes the footage look like you are viewing it through an aquarium, which will cause nausea and headaches in your VR audience. And once again Cara VR tools comes in with a combo of a CameraTracker and SphericalTransform (because VR is ostensibly a projection on a sphere) to stabilize the footage — which is then fed through a MetaDataTransform node to the original cameras to fix things before the stitch takes place — which maintains the fidelity of the image.

I have to kind of wrap this up, but something else to mention is that Cara VR also plays nice with the RayTracer introduced in Nuke10, so you can render 3D elements directly in Nuke using the solved camera rig. On top of that, there is a new “slit-scan” renderer that fixes the pinching at the poles of the sphere.

Like Katana, this is a niche product, and for a plug-in is kind of expensive. But hey, if you want to be at the forefront of technology, it’s the price of admission. When VR production becomes more ubiquitous, I suspect the price will come down as the demand increases.

CityEngine

Esri CityEngine

www.esri.com

Cities are crazy, complex, organic creatures. When it comes to building and designing them from scratch, there isn’t a good way to approach it. You can’t take a 2,000-year-old city like Cairo, for example, you are talking about a gagillion decisions from individuals and committees making decision on where to put streets, where to build buildings, how do I fix my dock after the last flood? A city is an evolving entity, and there is no way one artist is going to recreate that — at least not from scratch. And don’t think that recreating a real city is much easier.

CityEngine provides tools for generating cities, both fictional and real. It is developed from a company called Esri, which has been in the business of geographic information systems for nearly 50 years. And they’ve collected an enormous amount of data and developed algorithms for analyzing that data. They do this for companies and governments interested in how geography affects their functionality. But someone put together that all this data would help the visual effects industry because we are always creating these things — and generally it take a lot of work.

The engine within CityEngine allows for either importing existing ArcGIS data from the Esri database —like if you want to destroy a fictional skyscraper within existing building in Los Angeles. Both the 2D information and building footprints, and any existing 3D data with textures can be imported. Or, say you wanted to figure out a totally new (or old) city like … Troy. You could take the topography and generate a city pattern with new footprints.

Buildings and structures can be generated dynamically with a set of rules to determine and randomize height, facades, roof-styles, etc. And the geo can be customized if needed. And these fill into the original footprints, to populate a fully fledged city — which can then be exported to numerous 3D programs through an FBX exporter.

Most of the applications for ArcGIS and CityEngine are for visualizing functional aspects (you can even determine heat contribution from the reflections off of a new, yet-to-be-built building — which is kinda cool). But this means that its not an “export and render” type of tool. You’ll still have to put in some time to make it pretty. But by removing the decision-making from the layout process, I can see CityEngine saving weeks if not months of development time — and then you can take the time to make it look pretty.

Animation Magazine

Xbox One December Update Improves ESRAM Performance, Dev Says

A new Xbox One update released this month for developers allows them to “really improve performance” overall, including offering greater control of eSRAM. That’s according to Dying Light developer Techland lead game designer Maciej Binkowski, who explained the benefits of December’s Xbox One SDK to GamingBolt in a new interview.

“In terms of advantages, the main thing is just how much the eSRAM control has improved,” Binkowski said. “The new API allows you to do a lot more with the ESRAM, things devs have always wanted to do but were not easily accessible. This together with better tools allowed us to really improve performance and tweak ESRAM usage.”

Poland-based Techland recently confirmed that Dying Light will run in (at least) 1080/30fps on both Xbox One and PlayStation 4.

Dying Light’s release date is January 27, 2015 for PS4, Xbox One, and PC. The game was originally expected to also come to PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360, but those versions were recently canceled.

Got a news tip or want to contact us directly? Email news@gamespot.com

GameSpot

Wizart’s ‘Snow Queen’ Sequel Set for December

Wizart-Animation-150

Wizart Animation’s CG sequel The Snow Queen: Journey Continues will arrive in theaters in a stereoscopic flurry this December in more than 10 countries around the world. Produced by Timur Bekmambetov, Journey Continues features the voices of Sharlto Copley as Orm, Bella Thorne as Gerda, Isabelle Fuhrman as Alfida and Sean Bean as General Arrog. Thorn will also sing and original song for the film.

Based on the Hans Christian Andersen fairy tale and the frosty feats of the first outing, The Snow Queen: Journey Continues centers on Gerda and Orm, the troll who vanquished the Snow Queen and gave his fellow trolls a taste for freedom. Exaggerating his exploits, Orm claims he is destined to marry the princess and live in luxury, only to find himself on another perilous struggle against eternal winter.

The sequel is directed by Alexey Tsitsilin, and written by Tsitsilin, Alexey Zamyslov and Vladimir Nikolaev. Wizart is a rapidly growing Russian animation studio, and the first Snow Queen was played in more than 35 countries. Journey Continues will have a day-and-date release in the U.K., Poland, Israel, South Korea, former Yugoslavia, Baltic States, Middle East, Turkey, Malaysia and Thailand this December. A release in China will follow in 2015.

The Snow Queen 2

The Snow Queen 2

Animation Magazine

‘Song of the Sea’ Opens in NYC, Toronto December 19

Song-of-the-Sea-150

GKIDS has announced the North American release date for Cartoon Saloon’s highly anticipated animated feature Song of the Sea. The folk tale inspired 2D film will open in New York at the IFC Theater and Toronto’s TIFF Bell Lightbox Theater on December 19, before expanding to Los Angeles and other major markets through the holiday season. The film will have its world premiere at the Toronto International Film Festival on September 6.

Song of the Sea tells the story of Ben and his little sister Saoirse, the last Seal-child, who set out on a fantastic journey across a fading world of ancient legend and magic in an attempt to return to their home by the sea. The concept is inspired by the Irish folklore about the Selkies — mythological beings who live as seals in the sea and as humans on land. Directed by Tomm Moore (The Secret of Kells), Song of the Sea features the voices of Brendan Gleeson. Fionnula Flanagan, David Rawle, Lisa Hannigan, Pat Shortt and Jon Kenny. The music is by composer Bruno Coulais and Irish band Kila, both of whom collaborated on Kells.

Song of the Sea

Song of the Sea

Song of the Sea

Song of the Sea

Animation Magazine

Pearl Harbor, December 7, 1941 – An Ugly Day in American History

Pearl Harbor, December 7, 1941, was an ugly day in history, or, as President Franklin Roosevelt called it; “a date which will live in infamy.” What started off as a beautiful Sunday morning in Hawaii, quickly went sideways. That fateful morning, bloodshed and bombs woke the American war machine, as Japanese planes attacked the United States Naval base at Pearl Harbor. The unprovoked attack shredded more than 2,400 American lives and crippled the Pacific Fleet. Sending the American battleship, U.S.S. Arizona to the bottom of the harbor, capsizing U.S.S. Oklahoma – and killing nearly 1200 officers and crewmen.

Radios around the country fired up – buzzing over the horrific news of several hundred Japanese planes raining down terror in the form of an unannounced attack, damaging or destroying eight Navy battleships and more than 100 planes.  Life in America, at least as we knew it… was about to change with the onset of the “War” mentality.

December 8, 1941 – Pres. Franklin D Roosevelt asked Congress to declare war on Japan, an action Congress wholeheartedly embraced – minus one dissenting vote. Three short days later, Japan’s war buddies, Italy and Germany declared all-out war against the United States. The ill-conceived attack was taken as a preventative measure by the Japanese, hoping to keep the US Pacific fleet from interfering, as the Empire of Japan was planning a full frontal assault against the UK, the Netherlands, Southeast Asia and the United States.

The American psyche was shocked to its core – dazed and confused by the event.  Those young Americans who were not able to enter the military cultivated other means of supporting the war effort. Many Americans who would otherwise be partying and enjoying the American lifestyle were now engaged in selling war bonds to provide funds for the war effort. Those who couldn’t fight worked in war factories, sparking up the new American military industrial war complex.

Flash-forward 70 plus years… and several wars/conflicts later, and America still tends to view every obstacle/problem as a call to war; the “war on poverty”, the “war on drugs”, the “war on AIDS”, the “war on terror”, etc.  War pays well, and with a name like “war” placed in front of any problem it’s a lot easier to get funding from the federal government. No doubt, the unprovoked aggression by Japan against America needed to be dealt with. Whether or not they deserved to have two nuclear bombs dropped on the cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki is a debate for another time.

Today, Pearl Harbor and World War II is viewed through the lens of a wider struggle against nationalism and racism – like the peaceful battle Nelson Mandela fought against apartheid – or Martin Luther King’s civil rights struggle here in United States.

In the final analysis, what lessons can be truly learned from the unprovoked sneak attack against a sleeping giant, on a quiet Sunday morning… other than the fact that some countries have evil leaders?

 

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