CSU Launches Texting Program to Counsel Cannabis Use Disorder

Some cannabis users consider addiction to the plant to be a myth, but researchers at Colorado State University and the University of Tennessee, Knoxville, disagree. The two universities are now working together to deliver a texting-based counseling program for young adults with cannabis use disorder.

The new program, reserved for adults ages eighteen to 25, is funded by a $ 3.2 million grant from the National Institute on Drug Abuse; the study will last for six months and enroll 1,000 young adults from Colorado and Tennessee. Participants will first fill out a questionnaire about how often they use cannabis, and if they’ve ever wanted to stop or lessen cannabis use.

“The main question we’re looking at is how does this text-based study work in comparison to what students may typically access on a college campus through counseling,” explains Dr. Doug Coatsworth, the study’s lead researcher at CSU. “Texting has become a part of our lives today, especially with young adults, and a program that allows them to use something they’re comfortable with may help them with treating cannabis use disorder.”

The text messages will be tailored to each individual participant, reminding them of where they’re most likely to use while also asking about their cravings and stress levels. If participants report a higher level of stress or a heavier rate of cannabis consumption, the text messages will then change to a more serious tone about the participant’s pot use.

Marijuana Deals Near You

“This particular counseling program is unique in that it activates their motivation and targets where they hang out with their peers,” says Dr. Michael Mason, a researcher at the University of Tennessee. “It gets them to think about who they hang out with, think about spending time with their friends in non-smoking environments, and look for improvements over time beyond just reducing their level of consumption. It also looks at improving factors such as their grades or relationships.”

But what exactly is cannabis use disorder? According to Dr. Amber McGregor at substance abuse center 1st Priority Institute for Better Living in Denver, symptoms include social or interpersonal problems caused by cannabis abuse, such as failure to fulfill major obligations at work or school. Those suffering from cannabis use disorder find themselves using more cannabis over a period of time, she says, consuming cannabis in larger amounts than originally intended.

The THC level in cannabis today is different than it was twenty years ago, she adds, which can be one factor in developing the disorder. “The concentration of THC [in cannabis flower] was 2 to 3 percent twenty years ago, but has risen to around 20 percent today,” McGregor says. “Parents don’t really know much about it, and with the legal system and changing societal perception of weed, it’s hard for them to teach their kids about cannabis use and not abusing it.”

Individual therapy has been the number-one treatment of cannabis use disorder, according to McGregor, as being in a safe space for young adults to be heard and talk freely can help them understand why they use cannabis in the first place. However, she also supports other avenues, such as CSU’s texting program, and believes it can be a stepping stone for young adults who are addicted to cannabis.

“If they’re volunteering to come in and address substance use, anything to help them with it is wonderful,” she says. “A text can bring the goal of stopping to the front of their minds.”

Coatsworth and Mason hope the texting program is effective enough to eventually become integrated into recovery strategies throughout the community. “The text-based strategy could be an alternative one that counseling centers could offer,” Coatsworth says. “It might help those who could be nervous about seeing a therapist or don’t want to go that route.”

Mason adds that counseling via texting could also be more cost effective than in-person treatment, and hopes to make it available for anyone who wants to try it. “It’d be great to scale it up and get into places like universities and health-care systems,” he says. “That way, it can be made more available for people who want it.”

Enrollment for the study at CSU will start during the 2020 spring semester for anyone ages 18 to 25 in the Fort Collins area. Participants under the age of 21 will not be prosecuted by law enforcement, nor will participants in Tennessee, where cannabis is illegal.

Toke of the Town

MMJ America Founder Launches Hemp and CBD Company

A new hemp and CBD company has hit Colorado retail outlets, and the founder has a familiar name to Colorado marijuana. Jake Salazar, the founder of Denver dispensary chain MMJ America, has moved on to launch Solari Hemp, a line of hemp and CBD gummies, lotions, gel capsules, tinctures and more.

Solari co-founders Salazar, Colin Gallagher and Myorr Janha spent over a year planning their new company, from designing the product lines to having the right genetics in place for a successful hemp crop.

“We founded the company on the vertical integration model,” Gallagher says. “We wanted to create a company with real partnerships, so our farmers are our equity partners, and we have strategic partners in different parts of the company.”

Through a vertical integration model, Solari Hemp has partnered with fourth-generation farmers who are currently manufacturing products from hemp grown over 150 acres of farmland in Eaton and Longmont. The company has control over every production step from seed to shelf, including cultivation, extraction and manufacturing. Solari will also sell wholesale industrial hemp to other infused-product manufacturers, as well as white label for other brands.

MMJ America Founder Launches Hemp and CBD Company

Courtesy of Solari Hemp

“It’s the most efficient and cost-effective way to produce a quality product and offer it to consumers at an affordable price,” explains Salazar.

The founder and former CEO of MMJ America, one of the first medical and recreational dispensary chains in Denver, says he sold his share of the company and left a little over two years ago. According to Salazar, there is greater opportunity in the hemp industry.

Marijuana Deals Near You

“I wanted to get away from the traditional marijuana industry and dive into something more cutting-edge,” he says. “Hemp is this gateway to clinical studies, and has different types of cannabinoids that can help people that aren’t as prominent in the marijuana industry.”

Legal approval from the feds and easier state regulations than legal pot has doesn’t hurt, either. Unlike state-licensed marijuana businesses such as MMJ America, Solari Hemp can sell its products online and even ship them across state lines. And by focusing on familiar wellness items like lotion and gel capsules, the brand believes it can reach even more consumers.

“People use vitamins or supplements on a daily basis,” Gallagher says. “We wanted to create a line of products that people would feel comfortable with and have at least some prior experience with. The goal was to gear the brand to cater to everyone and anyone trying to better themselves.”

Solari products are now sold online and at health and wellness, pharmacy, convenience, tobacco and grocery stores across the country, according to the company.

Toke of the Town

BFI Launches Short Form Animation Fund Supporting UK Creatives

The British Film Institute has launched a new Short Form Animation Fund, offering support for higher-budgeted animated works from U.K.-based teams, Animation UK reports.

“Short animated films are the bedrock of our animation industry,” commented producer Phil Davies or Astley Baker Davies / The Elf Factory Ltd. / Gastons Cave Ltd. “Be it stunning visuals or challenging shorts of the avant-garde, all have a home in this wonderfully eclectic art form. They not only act as a driver for the animation film and TV industries, but have also established themselves as an essential art form in themselves. Some of the purest story telling you’ll ever see.”

Two years ago, Animation UK set out to support growth in the sector and a secure production base by lobbying for further investment in the nation’s globally respected animation industry. In addition to vigorous support for the Young Audience Content Fund, and increased commitments from broadcasters in response to the Children’s Content Review, Animation UK joined the BFI’s consultation on support of the sector, which was identified as a priority in their five-year strategy BFI2022. The organization gathered evidence on the impact of reduced dedicated support for animation over the last decade and made a case for a support for animated shorts.

The resulting BFI Short Form Animation Fund is a vital part of the investment program, which will fill the vacuum left by previous schemes for investment in our animation creative talent and provide the next step on from the BFI NETWORK, which funds smaller projects at entry-level across the U.K.

“This new Fund is a result of us listening to the industry, and filmmakers, and working with them to develop something which celebrates excellence and creativity at a point when talent need is most,” said Ben Roberts, Deputy Chief Executive of the BFI. “Huge thanks to everyone we consulted on this work for their time and expertise, particularly Animation UK, Animation Alliance UK, and Helen Brunsdon, Director of the British Animation Awards. Our animators have long led the way in driving forward this art form, and we are thrilled to be offering funding which aims to back U.K. animation talent from a host of backgrounds, and through a variety of traditional and innovative media.”

The fund is for high-budget, U.K.-based animation teams, providing funding of £30,000 to £120,000 per project, to help support these teams in creating work which can open-up new opportunities, and gain them better recognition. It can support narrative short form projects in any animated technique or genre and for any platform, from cinema to online to TV (not work intended focally for broadcast TV), and more. The fund is intended for work that is unlikely to be fully commercially financed and would therefore benefit from National Lottery support. The call for applications will take place once a year.

Ruth Fielding, Joint Managing Director of Lupus Films, observed, “Animated short films provide a valuable talent ladder for directors and writers to move from short form to longer form work be it series, one-off specials or features. Securing funding from the BFI, together with the support of existing established production companies, will help propel the talent of tomorrow towards the tipping point in their careers. We at Lupus Films as well as Animation UK welcome this initiative with open arms.”

The BFI Short Form Animation Fund will also offer the funded projects access to insight from a BFI Executive, and allocation of support from a dedicated animation specialist if required. Although the fund will not provide distribution support for projects, in some cases the BFI may take up a consultation role for funded teams in giving advice on distribution, exhibition, festival strategies, and methods of promotion.

“Huge credit should go to Animation UK and the BFI for creating this opportunity to access funding for short animated films, giving the next generation of filmmakers the opportunity to develop ideas, styles, techniques that all add to the ecosystem of our industry. Blue-Zoo already runs a successful in-house shorts program and hopes to support this initiative and the individuals who apply,” said Oli Hyatt, Managing Director and Co-Founder, BlueZoo.

Applications for projects for directors and writer-Director teams are open through November 5, 2019. Further details and guidelines for the BFI Short Form Animation Fund are available online.

Animation Magazine

Left Hand Brewing Launches CBD Seltzer Water

Several Colorado craft breweries have been making hard seltzer drinks as a way to soften declining beer sales, but Left Hand Brewing is twisting the formula a bit: Instead of adding booze to flavored sparkling water, the Longmont brewery is making seltzer water with CBD.

Partnering with Berthoud hemp and CBD supplier WAAYB Organics, Left Hand has created Present, a line of bubbly drinks with 20 milligrams of CBD per can, and no alcohol, sweeteners or calories. The tasteless CBD distillate is derived from industrial hemp, which contains 0.3 percent THC or less and is not intoxicating.

The seltzer craze has been strong in 2019, with drinks like White Claw becoming so popular that craft breweries such as Denver Beer Co., Oskar Blues and Upslope Brewing Company have all released seltzer lines. In July, Colorado (and possibly the country) saw its first seltzery open when Elvtd at 5280 replaced Grand Lake Brewing in Arvada. The cannabis industry has jumped in, too, with two new THC-infused seltzer brands debuting this year.

Left Hand had some struggles before seltzers took over this summer, laying off six staffers at the beginning of the year and increasing its focus on grocery store accounts as beer sales declined, according to a Westword report.

And what do you see at grocery stores now? A lot of seltzers.

Marijuana Deals Near You

“At Left Hand, we always strive to put the best beverages possible out in the market — we’re committed to what’s best for beer and what’s best for the community,” says Lefthand president Eric Wallace in a statement announcing Present. “We look forward to offering an organic, zero-calorie option that’s free from artificial ingredients, additives or adaptogens and offers the same high standards and integrity of our beers.”

Although hemp has been federally legal since late 2018, CBD derived from the plant is still in a gray area with the United States Food and Drug Administration. Ingestible products containing CBD such as edibles, drinks and vaporizers face heavy scrutiny outside of states like Colorado, which have legalized recreational marijuana and hemp-infused foods; those products are still technically illegal when shipped across state lines, the FDA warns. That hasn’t stopped companies from doing it, though, and they generally remain out of trouble as long as they don’t make any unsubstantiated health claims about the products.

According to WAAYB co-founder Anson Mitchell, the idea for making a CBD drink with Left Hand was spawned over a few other types of beverages. “The idea for an organic CBD beverage started while sharing some beers with Eric Wallace, and it’s incredible to see that conversation evolve into a reality that consumers all over the country will enjoy,” he says.

The drinks will be available online August 12 and in stores later this summer, according to Left Hand, and will come in classic seltzer, blood orange and lemon-lime flavors. 

Toke of the Town

DHX Launches ‘In the Night Garden’ Exclusives at Home Bargains

DHX Brands has formed a direct-to-retail collaboration to launch a new range of In the Night Garden products, specially created for the brand’s audience of children aged 6 months to 2.5 years.

Launched as a direct-to-retail promotion with TJ Morris, the products will be introduced exclusively in Home Bargains and Quality Save stores throughout the U.K. this summer, with an initial 18 products available by the end of July, followed by two more in August and a further 12 in September.

The range – which retails from £0.69-£13.99 – includes a host of items which are currently unavailable from other In the Night Garden licensees, including infant wipes, toddler training items, wooden pull-along toys, slippers, towelling robes, gift bags and feeding products such as bibs and sipper cups. The range also includes greeting cards and gift wrap; tableware, such as cutlery and melamine sets; apparel, including pyjamas and onesies; and accessories such as socks and backpacks.

With Home Bargains also stocking toys from Golden Bear’s popular, award-winning In the Night Garden range, the store is now a must-visit destination for fans of the top-rated CBeebies preschool TV series.

“We are delighted to team up with DHX Brands to offer this fantastic new range of In the Night Garden products,” said Helen Lynch of TJ Morris. “Such an appealing choice of items, from such an evergreen brand which is beloved by millions of families nationwide, is sure to prove a big hit with our customers over the summer.”

Laura Brennan, DHX Brands, said, “TJ Morris have an excellent reputation with their burgeoning Home Bargains stores and we are excited to be teaming up with them to give In the Night Garden fans such a wonderful new range, which increases the variety of products available and provides even more ways for young children to get closer to their favourite characters.”

The agreement between In the Night Garden brand owner, DHX Media, and TJ Morris was negotiated by leading licensing agency CPLG.

In the Night Garden x Home Bargains

In the Night Garden x Home Bargains

Animation Magazine

Marakids Launches First Animated Preschool Series ‘Hushabye Lullabye’

Glasgow-based indie producer Maramedia, which specializes in natural history documentaries, is breaking into preschool animation with its new Marakids title Hushabye Lullabye, coming to CBeebies by year’s end.

The 10 x 3? series is created, written and directed by TV and theater director Sacha Kyle (Glasgow), with animators Once Were Farmers (Stirling) and Maramedia delivering the show with exec producer Simon Parsons. Giles Lamb is series composer, and Will Adams handles 3D animation. Julia Bond is the Commissioning Editor for BBC.

Hushabye Lullabye has been created to incorporate the powerful benefits of lullabies in a way which is both loving and playful, and I am passionate about bringing the tradition of lullabies to contemporary early years’ audiences,” said Kyle.

Cuddly, quirky and music-filled, Hushabye Lullabye follows loveable little alien Dillie Dally as he climbs aboard the Hushabye Rocket on an interactive and relaxing musical journey of exploration and discovery to Planet Dream, a wonderfully soft and cozy place. The soothing power of lullabies is charming and totally captivating.

“We’re thrilled to be in production on this exciting new animation series. The magical and enchanting world of Hushabye Lullabye brings lullabies, and the connections created by them, to our young audience and the grown-ups in their lives,” said BBC’s Bond.

Maramedia, co-founded by Nigel Pope and Jackie Savery, was joined by former head of BBC Scotland children’s production Simon Parsons to expand their children’s output for its Marakids brand.

“We are delighted to be embarking on our first preschool children’s animation series, an exciting addition to Marakids following the launch of previous series Gudrun the Viking Princess for CBeebies,” added Pope.

“Once Were Farmers are thrilled to be part of this charming CBeebies commission. We’ve really enjoyed helping Sacha realise her vision for Hushabye Lullabye and think young audiences will love the unique and tactile style of animation,” said Will Adams, Director, Once Were Farmers.

Animation Magazine

Cyber Group Launches Gigantic Plans for Gigantosaurus

***This story originally appeared in the June-July ‘19 issue of Animation Magazine (No. 291)***

If you run into Pierre Sissmann, CEO and founder of Paris-based animation company Cyber Group Studios, at Annecy, make sure you shake his hand and congratulate him on his company’s fantastic year. The studio’s new show Gigantosaurus has been performing very well in the U.S. since it debuted on Disney Channel in December. The CG-animated 52 x 11’ show, which won the Pulcinella Award for upper preschool series at this year’s Cartoons on the Bay festival in Italy, centers on four young dinosaur friends exploring their prehistoric world and the mystery of the biggest, fiercest dinosaur of all.

The show is based on the best-selling books by Jonny Duddle, and is also broadcast on Disney Junior worldwide (excluding India, China and Taiwan), with upcoming premieres on major networks around the world, including France Télévisions, Germany’s Super RTL, RAI (Italy), SRC (Canada), as well as on Netflix in the majority of territories worldwide.

But things are just beginning to roll for the dino-centric project. “We are planning to do more episodes, of course,” says Sissmann, during a recent phone interview from this Paris office. “But the big news is that we are developing a major Gigantosaurus feature film, with screenwriter Michael J. Wilson, the creator of the Ice Age franchise. Longtime Cyber Group collaborator Olivier Lelardoux, who has worked on many of our shows (Zou, Zorro the Chronicles, Manon, etc.) will be directing the movie. We’re also working with art director Pierre-Alain Chartier (The Little Prince, Arthur and the Minimoys), so we’re very excited about our future plans.”

Prehistoric Powerhouse

Sissmann says Gigantosausus, which will be the first big feature project for the studio, will also feature lots of catchy songs, just like the TV series does. “We’re going to work with the same people who did the show’s theme song and add some major musical talent for the U.S. and U.K. version of the movie.”

According to the animation veteran, the movie will introduce several new characters, explore the world of Gigantosaurus deeply and target a slightly older audience. “I began my career at Disney, working on movies such as Tarzan, Hunchback of Notre Dame and DuckTales: The Movie,” he adds. “So for me, it’s going full circle and returning to my feature roots.”

Sissmann says he and his team began working on the film’s script last September and hope to deliver the movie by 2021-2022 after the second and third season of the series have aired internationally.

Gigantosaurus toys

Gigantosaurus toys

The show’s master toy licensee, JAKKS Pacific will launch a full range of Gigantosaurus toys including preschool playthings, figures, vehicles, playsets, outdoor seasonal, indoor furniture and Halloween costumes and accessories this fall. In addition, Outright Games is developing and publishing a video game based on the franchise that will be available for PlayStation 4, Xbox One, Nintendo Switch and PC. The game will feature the four dinosaur heroes (Rocky, Bill, Tiny and Mazu) in a new story. Geared towards kids and families, the debut game brings players directly into the world of Gigantosaurus, as they zoom through the series-inspired locations and engage with the storylines.

“We are working closely with them to develop assets for the video game at the same time as we’re producing them for the TV series,” says Sissmann. “We started our video game division about a year and a half ago so we could develop this cynergy between us. Right now, we plan to release three titles in 2020. I’ve seen the demos, and I have to admit they look pretty amazing.”

Sissmann says there are also developing over 40 different print titles, including activity books and novelizations, which will be released in the course of the next three years. Cyber Group will announce four major licensing partnerships at Licensing Expo in Las Vegas in June.

“It’s a truly massive brand-building effort for us,” he adds. “This also includes a series of high-quality digital shorts we’re producing for Disney Junior’s YouTube. It has a big promotional value. They are all completely original stories, they expand the world of the characters and offer useful facts about dinosaurs. We’re also planning a worldwide Gigantosaurus tour in 2020, which is part of our big, integrated brand-building initiative for this massive property.”

Sissmann is also excited about Cyber Group’s new ventures in China, India and Russia. “We are investing to make our brands more global,” he says. “It’s about vertical integration and producing locally in different countries. If you put yourself out there and extend your arms and legs, you have the chance to grow and learn more from all your partners.”

Wrapping up the interview, Sissmann adds, “At the heart of what we do is providing quality entertainment to kids and families all around the world in a safe environment. For me, our preschool series Zou was our first major global brand, and it was a real eye-opener. It’s the same notion with Gigantosaurus: It’s about giving kids the chance to have fun and learn something at the same time. When I get mail from audiences, it brings home the reason we create these shows in the first place. It’s about bringing happiness, education and entertainment to kids around the world.”

For more info, visit cybergroupstudios.com.

More Hits on the Way!

Gigantosaurus is only one of several hot properties happening at the studio. Here are some of Cyber Group’s other big newsmakers:

Sadie Sparks. A 52-part series about a young girl who realizes she has magical abilities and becomes a wizard-in-training, with the guidance from a grumpy ancient rabbit, Gilbert. Co-produced by Brown Bag Films in Dublin, the series is set to debut later this year on Disney Channel.

Sadie Sparks

Sadie Sparks

Taffy. The studio’s retro, slapstick show centers on a trickster racoon who disguises himself as a cat to infiltrate the comfortable home of super rich Mrs. Muchmore and her pampered dog, Bentley. After making a big splash at MIPCOM last year, the show has been performing very well on Boomerang. A second season is in the works.



Tom Sawyer. Based on Mark Twain’s enduring character, this 26 x 26’ 2D/CG series addresses important issues such as growing up, freedom of spirit and the importance of an inquisitive nature. Produced at Cyber Group’s new studio in Roubaix, which opened in northern France last November.

Tom Sawyer

Tom Sawyer

Droners. A new adventure series for TF1, co-produced by La Chouette Compagnie and Supamonks, which follows the adventures of a group of young drone racers who are on a mission to save the planet from global warming and ecological destruction.



Digital Girl. Created by Pierre Sissmann and Sylvain dos Santos (Droners), this 26 x 22’ CG series tells the story of 14-year-old Chrissie, the first ever digital superheroine. Alexis Briclot, renowned for his designs onCaptain MarvelThorAnt-Man and Avengers, is signing off the graphic bible. The show finds Chrissie challenged by Hack Girl, a digital supervillain, as she tries to restore ecological balance and a peaceful community life in a futuristic, yet contemporary world. Co-produced by famed Russian studio Soyuzmultfilm.

Digital Girl

Digital Girl

Magic Chess Odyssey. This 26 x 22’ CG series tells the story of a chess board with supernatural powers that can change the lives of children around the planet. While a pure entertainment piece, Magic Chess Odysseycombines storytelling with ground-breaking animation while immersing kids in the real intricacies of the great chess competitions. Co-produced by Soyuzmultfilm.

Animation Magazine

Toon Boom Launches Harmony 17, Offers Special Sale

Top animation and storyboarding software company Toom Boom has launched Harmony 17, the latest version of its popular tool for traditional digital animators and production artists. The two-time Emmy-winning company is celebrating its 25th anniversary this year, and is offering a special 25 percent sale on annual licenses for Harmony and Storyboard Pro, from June 11 to August 31st.

“Traditional digital animators will not want to miss Harmony 17,” says Marc-Andre Bouvier, product manager at Toon Boom Animation. “With an improved drawing engine and new features focused on hand-drawn animation —including drawing stabilizers, adjustable pen sensitivity settings and curvilinear perspective guides for large panning backgrounds— artists have more precision and control available to them than ever before.”

Harmony gives students, freelancers and independent artists access to the same production pipeline that major production houses rely on for demanding television productions. Packed with 40 new-and-improved features, including upgrades to the software’s core drawing engine, Harmony 17 can help animators bring their next project to life like never before.

You can try the free 21-day trial at www.toonboom.com/products/harmony/try

Customers who chose Toon Boom animation software for the development and creation of their productions include Disney Television Animation, Amazon, Fox Television Animation, Nelvana, Ubisoft, Toei Animation, The SPA Studios, Xilam and Boulder Media. The technology is currently available in Simplified Chinese, Japanese and Spanish. For more information, visit toonboom.com.

Toom Boom

Toom Boom

Animation Magazine

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

News Bytes: ‘Sonic’ Redesign Causes Delay, ‘Shrek’ vs. ‘Thrones,’ Sony Launches PlayStation Productions & More

Mattel & Warner Bros. CP Extend DC Global Toy Partnership
Mattel will continue to be the toy licensee for DC Universe characters and brands in the girls, preschool, vehicles, games and novelty categories, supporting and growing both existing franchises as well as new content from the DC Super Hero Girls brand.

“Mattel has been our partner on DC for over 15 years and really knows our characters and understands the special connection they have with our fans. Their leadership in the preschool, vehicle and girls categories will help us bring great toys and experiences to DC fans of all ages.” — Stephen Teglas, SVP for North America, WBCP

CALL FOR ENTRIES: animago 2019
The 23rd competition for 3D animation, vfx and design will be held Nov. 2-5 in Munich. Submissions are invited to enter for a shot at 10 competition categories, including the new Best In-Game Graphics award, Best Visual Effects, Best Game Cinematic, Best Short Film, Best Advertising Production, Best Character, Best Young Production, Jury’s Prize, Best Motion Design, and Best Still (public vote). Deadline: June 30, 2019.

Sony Interactive Launches Unit to Adapt Games for Film, TV
The new banner headed by Asad Qizilbash and overseen by Sony Interactive chairman of worldwide studios Shawn Layden will mine the PlayStation games property library for filmed entertainment hits. Titles like Tomb Raider and Ratchet & Clank have previously received live-action and animated movie adaptations.

“We looked at what Marvel has done in taking the world of comic books and making it into the biggest thing in the film world. It would be a lofty goal to say we’re following in their footsteps, but certainly we’re taking inspiration from that … We want to create an opportunity for fans of our games to have more touch points with our franchises. When fans beat a 40-50 hour game and have to wait three-four years for a sequel, we want to give them places they can go and still have more of that experience and see the characters they love evolve in different ways.” — Shawn Layden, SIE Chairman – Worldwide Studios.

Let Us Not Overlook ‘Shrek’s Contributions to ‘Game of Thrones’
One seemingly absurdTwitter thread has outshone every long-gestated fan theory about the show, tbh.

’Game of Thrones’ Alum Bryan Cogman Joins ‘Lord of the Rings’ Amazon Series
Speaking of fantasy epics! Cogman joined GoT as an assistant to creators David Benioff and D.B. Weiss, and went on to write many key episodes (including season 8 tearjerker “A Knight of the Seven Kingdoms”) and wrap the show as a co-executive producer. The move to LotR is part of his overall deal with Amazon Studios. The new series will further explore Middle-earth outside the familiar book trilogy tale.

Jeff Fowler: ‘Sonic’ Date Pushed Back for Redesign
After the debut trailer for live-action/CG event feature Sonic the Hedgehog gave the entire collective internet a conniption and caused director Fowler to announce a redesign of the lead character, the helmer posted to Twitter Friday that the release is being delayed to accommodate the makeover. “Taking a little more time to make Sonic just right. #novfxartistswereharmedinthemakingofthismovie,” Fowler tweeted, with a sketch of Sonic’s gloved hand (are they turning his furry white hands back into gloves?!) holding a sign with the date February 14, 2020. The new date means Sonic debuts the same day as comic-book movie Kingsman 3 and a week after hybrid family flick Peter Rabbit 2.



DC Universe toys

DC Universe toys

Animation Magazine

Reallusion Launches Cartoon Animator 4, Facial Mocap Plug-in

Reallusion has launched Cartoon Animator 4 (formerly CrazyTalk Animator), the complete professional 2D character system, and it’s new Facial Mocap Plug-in (Motion LIVE 2D), which allows users to animate characters with their own facial expression in real time. In the last decade, Cartoon Animator has been widely used by million-subscriber YouTube channels to online businesses, graphic designers, marketers and award-winning directors.

“Cartoon Animator 4 is one of the most accessible 2D character design and animation tools in the current market for both entry and professional users.” said John C. Martin, VP of Product Marketing, Reallusion. “CTA 4 is a complete 2D character system with tools to design and animate in a new way with a unique motion UI and the industry-breakthrough 2D, 360 degree head creator. Indie, pros and first time animators can apply speed to creativity with a new approach to 2D animation.”

Cartoon Animator 4 is a total 2D animation toolbox that can turn images into animated characters, generate lip-sync animation from audio, accomplish 3D parallax scenes, produce 2D visual effects, access content resources, and wield a comprehensive Photoshop pipeline to rapidly customize and create characters.

With Cartoon Animator’s Facial Mocap Plug-in, anyone can animate character with their facial performances via webcams or an iPhone TrueDepth camera to track expressions with head and eyes movements, and natural body animations driven by head position. This solution is designed for virtual production, performance capture, live TV shows and streaming web broadcasting. Key features include:

  • Real-time Face Tracking via Webcam and/or iPhone Users can utilize any webcam or iPhone X to capture real-time face tracking via Facial Mocap Plug-in, the facial expressions will instantly project onto virtual characters in Cartoon Animator.
  • Head Driven Body Movement During facial mocap, users can also add upper body motions by capturing head movements, blending values, and adjusting arm or forearm rotation that can be directly blended during live performances.
  • Real-time Lip Sync and Audio Recording The Timeline editor can edit motion clips, alter speeds, blend and refine captured phoneme expressions. Turn on the PC microphone for simultaneous audio recording for complete control over talking lip shapes.

The 360 Head Creator streamlines the workflow for head creation and expression setup, while directly applying it to the animation core through face key editing, puppeteering and the timeline system. It transforms static 2D art into 3D-styled characters with up to 360 degrees of motion for deeply rich performances. Artists can also use the Photoshop round trip in/out integration for editing multi-angle characters.

The Smart IK (Inverse Kinematic) Animation’s simple and functional design sets Cartoon Animator apart from other 2D applications, as the intuitive IK/FK system auto-switches for a fluid, and logical workflow. Smart Motion Retargeting correctly applies any motion files to different body shapes, while automatically aligning new characters to the original motion pose.

Cartoon Animator 4 is available for $ 199 (Pipeline edition) or $ 99 (PRO edition). PC/Mac webcam facial tracker is a separate module along with Motion LIVE 2D plug-in ($ 199). More information at www.reallusion.com/cartoon-animator.

Animation Magazine

UNICEF Launches Animated #VaccinesWork Campaign

To urge more parents to vaccinate their children, UNICEF is launching a new #VaccinesWork digital, social, outdoor and print campaign. Created by ad agency RPA, the campaign, which features a 60-second animated film, “Dangers,” along with illustrated animations for social media posts and posters, will be released during World Immunization Week, which runs every year from April 24 to 30.

“Dangers” is based on the relatable insight that kids, by their very nature, are little daredevils who are constantly putting themselves in danger. While we can’t prevent all the dangers that kids get themselves into, vaccination can help prevent the dangers that get into our kids. The storybook video format is a perfect fit both for speaking to parents and parents-to-be and for adding a lightheartedness to a collection of dangerous situations. The film was illustrated and animated by LOBO director Mateus de Paula Santos in São Paulo, Brazil, using a combination of 2D and 3D animation.

The static and animated posters that live alongside the film provide another interpretation of kids facing danger. Kids are shown in aspirational roles with clear and logical antagonists. The kids featured in the six posters represent a range of ethnicities to reflect the global nature of the campaign. To build upon this inclusivity, each of the six illustrations were created by a different illustrator to showcase a collection of artistic styles.

“Today, vaccines save more than five lives every minute of every day,” said Robin Nandy, UNICEF’s Chief of Immunization. “We hope that this video can help parents to appreciate the power of vaccines. We want parents to know that vaccines are safe and that they can protect children against many deadly diseases.”

The campaign elements are being translated into many languages, including French, Spanish, Arabic, Chinese, Russian, Ukrainian, Hindi, Urdu, Tagalog and Romanian for worldwide distribution. Posts on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter will reach parents across the world.

“It’s an incredible opportunity to help parents, no matter where they live or their circumstances, to understand the benefits of vaccinations. We hope that this captivating new work will prompt parents to keep their kids safe,” said Jason Sperling, SVP/Chief, Creative Development at RPA.

Every year, UNICEF supplies vaccines reaching almost half of the world’s children. In 2018 UNICEF procured over 2.35 billion doses of vaccines.

Animation Magazine

Watch: HBO Launches ‘Backstories’ with BTS Toons for ‘Game of Thrones,’ ‘Barry’ & ‘Insecure’

A new short-form series, HBO Backstories, is offering television fans an animated peek behind the scenes of their favorite HBO shows and characters. Each episode features the voices (and stories) of network talent, from star performers and show creators, and each is brought to life by a different, top-notch animation team.

On Thursday, the first three episodes — created in collaboration with Wieden + Kennedy New York. They reveal untold stories from the production of acclaimed series Game of Thrones, Barry and Insecure. The series is available across all HBO network, social channels, HBO.com and as part of HBO’s sponsorship at Tribeca Film Festival.

“The Slap Game” | David Benioff and D.B. Weiss (showrunners of Game of Thrones) detail the time the latter played Jason Momoa (Khal Drogo) in ‘The Slap Game.’

Animation by Ivan Dixon and Greg Sharp (Truba Animation)

“Acting Class” | Alec Berg, co-creator of Barry, talks through how he drew inspiration from a wild acting class.

Animation by Christy Karacas and Simon Wilches (Titmouse)

“Insecure” | Actress Yvonne Orji talks through her journey from Miss Nigeria in America to Molly on Insecure.

Animation by Carl Jones and Brian Ash (Six Point Harness)

Animation Magazine

Valfre X tokidoki Limited Edition Collection Launches

L.A.-based creative brand Valfre and the world-famous Japanese pop art-inspired lifestyle brand tokidoki have launched a new, limited-edition collaborative collection available now at valfre.com. The set features a bubblegum pink-backed character print featuring rebel girls, mermaids, pegicorns, etc., available as an 18” x 24” print, backpack or pouch.

Check out the video below, in which Ilse Valfre, the Mexican-born artist who founded Valfre, and Simone Legno, the Italian artist who created tokidoki in 2005, discuss their inspirations and the new collection.

Animation Magazine