‘LEGO Jurassic World: Legend of Isla Nublar’ Roars onto CITV

Universal Brand Development, the LEGO Group and CITV have launched the all-new, animated mini-series LEGO Jurassic World: Legend of Isla Nublar. Just ahead of the show’s U.K. premiere on CITV Scrambled on Saturday, the LEGO Group globally launched four building sets inspired by the series — giving fans the chance to bring new adventures, characters and dinosaurs home for even more play.

Set in 2012, the mini-series takes place three years before the Jurassic World movie and picks up from LEGO Jurassic World: The Secret Exhibit (the animated special that aired in 2018). Newly hired animal behaviorist Owen Grady and Assistant Manager of Park Operations Claire Dearing team up on Isla Nublar to deal with everything the Jurassic World park throws their way.

…Essentially, “everything” includes runaway dinosaurs, ongoing construction to expand the park, throngs of tourists, unpredictable tropical weather and an impulsive boss! There’s also a mysterious saboteur with surprising ties to the park’s past who is on a quest to find a legendary treasure and destroy Jurassic World forever. What could possibly go wrong? Well… everything.

Building sets based on LEGO Jurassic World: Legend of Isla Nublar launched globally at retail in August, and range in price from £19.99-£79.99 (about $ 25-$ 100 USD). Sets include:

75934 – Dilophosaurus on the Loose

Explore LEGO Jurassic World with Owen Grady and build his drone to look after the dinosaurs. Meet Hudson Harper, a kid who knows everything there is to know about dinosaurs. And build the market stall in the shape of a dinosaur head with LEGO bricks. But, look out — a young Dilophosaurus has escaped and is creeping up behind Hudson. Fly to the rescue with Owen’s drone, fire the net shooter and capture that dinosaur. Every day is an adventure with this action-packed LEGO playset! (Ages 6+, 168 pieces, £19.99)

75935 Baryonyx Face-Off: The Treasure Hunt

Rush to stop Danny Nedermeyer and Sinjin Prescott’s dangerous treasure hunt in LEGO Jurassic World! According to legend, there is treasure hidden on Isla Nublar and Danny and Sinjin have a map and old videotape to help them find it. But, when a Baryonyx dinosaur thinks they are trying to steal her fish, they have to hide out in an old trailer. Help Owen Grady and Claire Dearing fix up the off-road buggy. Then drive with them and Red the dog to catch the bad guys before they steal the treasure! (Ages 7+, 434 pieces, £59.99)

75937?- Triceratops Rampage

Take a ride on the awesome new LEGO Jurassic World Egg Spinner with Simon Masrani and Allison Miles. But, watch out — there’s been a power failure and the mighty Triceratops has smashed through the fence and escaped! Jump in the buggy with Owen Grady and speed to the rescue. Dangle a carrot in front of the mighty dinosaur to distract it and save the tourist. There’s never a dull day in Jurassic World park! (Ages 7+, 447 pieces, £54.99)

75938 – T. Rex vs. Dino-Mech Battle

Danger! Danny Nedermeyer is roaming Jurassic World park in his huge Dino-Mech on a mission to steal the treasure hidden in the Isla Nublar volcano. But first he has to face the mighty T. rex. Jump in the boat with Owen Grady, Claire Dearing, Vic Hoskins — plus baby Velociraptors Blue, Delta, Echo and Charlie — and speed to the battle scene. Fire the boat’s stud shooters at the Dino-Mech. Put the T. rex to sleep with the tranquilizer gun. You must stop Danny before he finds a way to smash into the volcanic rock and steal the treasure! (Ages 8+, 716 pieces, £79.99)

LEGO Jurassic World: Legend of Isla Nublar

LEGO Jurassic World: Legend of Isla Nublar

Animation Magazine

Broncos Legend Terrell Davis Jumps on the CBD Train

Former Denver Broncos running back Terrell Davis knows a thing or two about pain and injury. The Pro Football Hall of Famer was on his way to becoming one of the game’s greatest of all time when major knee injuries derailed his career — but not before he racked up nearly 9,000 overall yards, 65 touchdowns and plenty of hits.

Davis says he would’ve been able to suit up longer if he’d been allowed to take CBD during his playing days. And now the three-time All-Pro running back is pushing the cannabinoid after partnering with Defy, a CBD-infused sports drink.

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A compound of hemp and marijuana, CBD isn’t psychoactive, but rather shows potential for treating pain, inflammation, anxiety and skin disorders, among other afflictions. In an interview with TheStreet, Davis says he’d been taking anti-inflammatory medications for years to treat joint pain and migraines.

“And we all know that the long-term effects of being on anti-inflammatory medicine is not good,” he says in the story. “I’ve been on CBD for well over a year now, and I can tell you that my body feels great. I have no more inflammation in my body, my knee, and my joint pain is gone. My migraines — I haven’t taken migraine medicine for over a year.”

Marijuana Deals Near You

Davis recently told TMZ that taking CBD might have helped with the inflammation he suffered during rehabilitation to get back on the football field, possibly extending his shortened career.

In addition to this new venture with Defy, Davis is involved with other cannabis-industry efforts, such as working with the Minority Cannabis Business Association to promote a more diverse pot industry.

Defy hasn’t hit shelves just yet. But because the product is made from hemp-derived CBD, the company won’t have to limit sales to marijuana dispensaries where pot is legal; it can also offer it online or at CBD stores around the country.

Toke of the Town

Legend 3D Makes Key Hires: Post Director Meetal Gokul, VFX Supe Jay Mehta

Legend 3D welcomes two multiple award-winning creatives to key positions in its global organization, with the addition of Meetal Gokul as Director of Post Production and Senior Colorist in its Hollywood facility, and Jay Mehta as VFX Supervisor at its Pune, India studio. That announcement was made by CEO Aidan Foley. Gokul will work closely with Legend’s Office of Operations heads Jeff Shapiro (Production) and Jeremy Nicolaides (Creative). Mehta will report in to Los Angeles-based Creative Director Simon Kern and its executive management team.

“Meetal and Jay add so much value to the Legend organization, and, more importantly, to our clients,” said Foley. “Their experience in all facets of visual effects and post production will enable an enhanced menu of services for the studios and brands with whom we have the privilege of working. As a result, Legend will now offer both Color Grading and Digital Intermediates (DI) in addition to our expanding menu of VFX and 3D conversion work.”

An internationally renowned colorist and stereographer, Meetal Gokul bring an enormous wealth of knowledge and experience to the Legend team from his work in London, Mumbai, Cardiff, Wellington, Toronto and Los Angeles at such studio facilities as Park Road Post Production, Futureworks, Dragon DI, Stereo D/Deluxe and Southbay Motion Picture Technologies, and software/hardware creators Quantel. He’s worked with Academy Award-winning director Peter Jackson on his Hobbit trilogy, serving as Head of Stereography and a key member of the team that won the prestigious Advanced Imaging Society Award for creating the world’s first 4K, HFR 3D workflow. He also worked closely with Jackson and Steven Spielberg on The Adventures of Tintin 3D, as well as with Andrew Adamson and James Cameron on Cirque du Soleil, World Away 3D.

In addition to Hollywood blockbusters, Gokul has teamed with several international directors including Goldie Behl on Drona, India’s first 4K VFX action film; with Andrew Jones on his BAFTA Award-winning independent film The Feral Generation; and Taika Waititi on Boy and What We Do in the Shadows. Most recently, Gokul teamed up with Andrew Young, a Giant Screen IMAX filmmaker, to create visually stunning color for the multi award-winning (including Best Cinematography and VFX) film Backyard Wilderness.

Jay Mehta has served as a member of VFX teams which have earned an Academy Award (Life of Pi) and an Academy Award nomination (Snow White and the Huntsman) in the same year (2013); as well as a BAFTA Award and an Academy Award (The Golden Compass) in the same year (2008). He joins Legend following a five-year tenure at Base FX in Beijing, China, most recently as VFX Supervisor on such theatrical films as Aquaman, The Great Wall and Equals, the television series Agent Carter (nominated for a Visual Effects Society Award for Outstanding Supporting Visual Effects in a Photoreal Episode) and Black Sails, and the Stereo 4K theme park ride Streets of Fury.

Previously, Mehta spent over seven years at the groundbreaking VFX shop Rhythm & Hues, Mumbai, starting as a paint and roto artist, later moving to compositing and other leadership roles. There he amassed credits working on such films as Life of Pi, Snow White and the Huntsman, The Golden Compass, Evan Almighty, The Mummy: Tomb of the Dragon Emperor, Land of the Lost, The Incredible Hulk, Alvin and the Chipmunks: Chipwrecked, Mr. Popper’s Penguins and Big Miracle. In addition to managing the creative aspects, Mehta has demonstrated equal strength in pre-production management, crew planning, bidding on prospective projects, and working directly with the directors and client-side VFX supervisor.

Animation Magazine

Strain Review: Nameless Genetics’ Mega Wellness Lives Up to its ‘No Name, Just Flame’ Legend

By, Marijuana.com Staff This may be hyperbole, but here we go: Mega Wellness might be the most celebrated strain in the Marijuana.com editorial room. Most of the Marijuana.com writers, editors, and coordinators have had plenty of positive encounters with this legendary strain and have shouted its merits at countless 4:20 seshes. It’s “No name, Just […]

The Strain, The Documentary, The Legend: ‘Acapulco Gold’

In today’s flourishing marijuana market, in which consumers can select boutique cannabis that is presented in eye-catching packaging, it’s all too easy to forget about the outlaw cultivation culture through which the plant was first created. That culture is preserved in the 1973 documentary “Acapulco Gold,” which showcases the harvesting and smuggling of marijuana in […]

Legend 3D Bolsters Exec Team with Multiple Hires


Leading 3D conversion, VFX and VR studio Legend 3D has brought onboard several new hires to its executive leadership team as the company strengthens its resources and looks to expand its global footprint. Legend 3D has been key to creating visual spectacles for blockbusters such as Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales, King Arthur: Legend of the Sword, Ben-Hur and Ghostbusters.

“These key roles reflect Legend’s ongoing commitment to provide clients with the most experienced and accomplished professionals in our business,” said CEO Aidan Foley. “As an industry leader, Legend takes serious our obligation to engage world class talent in all facets of our operations. We’re very pleased to welcome these respected and skilled new members to the Legend family.”

Building out the team under the leadership of Foley, who joined the company in December, are eight experienced digital entertainment veterans:

Richard Baker, Chief Creative Officer – With some 15 years of VFX experience, the former Creative Director and Senior Stereographer for Prime Focus World’s Stereo Conversion division brings to Legend a wealth of 3D conversion expertise, having supervised such films as Beauty and the Beast, World War Z, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, and Alfonso Cuaron’s Gravity, which earned him the International 3D & Advanced Imaging Society Creative Arts Award for Best 2D to 3D Conversion.

Barry Stagg, Chief Marketing Officer – Stagg brings more than two decades of marketing communications experience to the Legend team, having handled marketing communications for such studios as Warner Bros./Lorimar Television, Fox Family Worldwide, Ascent Media, 4Kids Entertainment and Norman Lear’s Tandem/TAT/Embassy Communications. He’s also led these efforts for several web-based businesses including the former Homestore.com (now Move.com).

Scott Willman, Chief Information Officer – Willman has played pivotal roles for both major film studios and tech companies, with experience ranging from oversight of a department of 50+ artists, production staff, and software engineers and completely redesigning and building a 3D film conversion pipeline at two major VFX studios. He has personally supervised 3D output on 15 major theatrical films and has served as the sole 3D supervisor on films for 20th Century Fox, Lionsgate and New Regency Enterprises. In 2013, Scott founded Dimension X with production partner (and wife) Heather Willman, to provide a full range of 3D services directly to studio production teams and VFX companies including full creative supervision, production management and editorial support. Under his direction, the company has developed extensive automation and proprietary techniques for post-processing natively captured stereo images — seen on such films as The Martian, Exodus: Gods and Kings, Dawn of the Planet of the Apes, and the X-Men franchise.

Crys Forsyth-Smith, Vice President, Production – Forsyth-Smith boasts more than 20 years’ experience in all aspects of production, including visual effects, from budgeting, scheduling and on-set work to crewing, pipelines and stereo deliverables, including serving as Vice President, Production for Method Studios, as VFX Producer at Sony Pictures Imageworks, and as Production Manager for several companies including Digital Domain.

Prasanna Kodipadi, Vice President, International Operations – A respected and experienced veteran of motion picture production services, Kodipadi joins Legend from Stereo D, where, over the past five years he served as Creative Outsource Supervisor, as well as a Compositor. In addition to helping Legend expand its presence beyond North America to support an increasing list of projects, he will also be managing all third party vendors the company engages.

Chris McClintock, Senior Producer – With 15 years’ experience in on-set production, post-production, animation, VFX and virtual reality, McClintock has worked on blockbuster hits such as Marvel’s Captain America: The Winter Soldier and Guardians of the Galaxy. Leveraging an understanding of emerging film technologies, he helped build stereoscopic workflows at companies including Stereo D, and as a producer at Prime Focus World, where he led the high- quality stereo conversion of Men in Black 3, Green Lantern and Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace. He also contributed to the studio’s VFX production work on Avatar.

Lisa Sepp-Wilson, Head of VFX Production – Toronto – Sepp-Wilson’s extensive VFX background includes over 20 years of on-set production, post production and animation in both Vancouver and Toronto, two Gemini and Leo Award wins and several Emmy and Visual Effects Society Award nominations. She served as VFX Producer and CFO at Anthem Visual Effects, the Vancouver-based agency she co-founded, as well as working as VFX Producer and Executive Producer for Encore in both their Vancouver and Toronto studios, on such TV series as Under the Dome, Homeland, Newsroom and Orange Is the New Black, to name a few.

Simon Kern, Stereo Supervisor – Kern brings a decade of VFX professional experience to the Legend team, developing new tools, pipelines, and techniques while working directly with clients to bring their vision to life on such films as Guillermo del Toro’s Pacific Rim, Scott Waugh’s Need for Speed, and Bryan Singer’s X-Men: Days of Future Past, which won the Advanced Imaging Society’s 3D Scene of the Year honor. Kern has trained artists in the skills of stereo compositing and paint, aided in Real-Time Depth Grading development, and introduced filmmakers to the art of stereoscopic 3D while working with Marvel, DreamWorks, Warner Bros., Alcon, and 20th Century Fox, among other studios.

All newcomers (except for Sepp-Wilson) will be based at the new Legend Studio Offices on the Columbia Square campus in Hollywood, a 27k sq. ft. LEED building which the company moved into last November.

Legend 3D

Legend 3D

Animation Magazine

NFL Legend Reggie Williams Can Walk Again Because of Marijuana

Reggie Williams played 14 seasons for the Cincinnati Bengals, starting in 1976. During that time, the Bengals were in two Super Bowls and Williams was NFL Man of the Year in 1986. However, as a result of his strenuous career, Williams has major knee problems.

Williams has received 24 operations on his right knee, and until not too long ago, he was in almost constant pain. Then, a couple years ago, he was given a time-release medicinal patch that he put on his knee, and it contained CBD. Since then, he’s been able to walk and function without having nearly as much pain.

“I’m enjoying some significant benefit in the quality of my life because of medical cannabis topicals,’’ Williams told the Cincinnati Enquirer in November. “There is reduced pain and inflammation that I experience chronically in my joints.’’

Williams appeared at The 420 Games in Santa Monica, Calif. on April 1 at the Pure Ratios booth. Pure Ratios produces a cannabinoid patch that he uses to treat his knee problems, and he has endorsed their products. He’s hoping his story will inspire the NFL to change its policies surrounding players using medical marijuana.

“I can jump out of a car, put my shoes on and start walking without any of the limbering and stretching I had to do every time I got in and out of a car or a table or any close space,” Williams said of his life after he started to use medical marijuana products.

[Photo via YouTube]

The 420 Times

Disney Legend Tyrus Wong Dies at 106

Tyrus Wong

Tyrus Wong

Tyrus Wong, one of the most celebrated Chinese-American artists in US history and the driving force behind the design of Walt Disney’s Bambi (1942), died Friday, December 30 at age 106. Wong’s contributions to the animated classic were largely unrecognized until half a century after the film arrived in theaters, where critics and filmgoers were struck by its haunting, painterly visuals. Wong was inducted as a Disney Legend in 2001, and received a Historymakers Award for art from the Chinese American Museum.

Born Wong Gen Yeo on Oct. 25, 1910 in Guangdong Province, Wong was a gifted artist from a young age. When he was nine years old, Wong and his father emigrated to the US — leaving his mother and sister behind, never to see them again. Upon arriving in California, father and son were held and became separated at Angel Island due to the Chinese Exclusion Act (1882-1943). After enduring the immigration process — which often included lengthy interrogations — they lived in Sacramento before moving to Los Angeles.

Wong’s talent was evident to his teachers, who along with his father encouraged him to pursue art. He received a full-time scholarship to Otis Art Institute, working while pursuing his education. After graduating, Wong put his gifts and training to use in Hollywood, designing sets and storyboards for Warner Bros. features (including The Sands of Iwo Jima, Rebel without a Cause and The Wild Bunch) and creating inspirational concept art for Disney from the 1930s to ’60s.

Wong’s prolific artistic career also saw him designing Hallmark greeting cards and Winfield Pottery, and he was an accomplished painter, muralist, lithographer, ceramicist and kitemaker.

A retrospective of Wong’s work was the inaugural exhibition of the Chinese American Museum in Los Angeles in 2003. More recently, Wong’s long career was the subject of “Water to Paper, Paint to Sky” at the Walt Disney Family Museum (with an accompanying hardcover book), which traveled to the Museum of Chinese in America in New York. Pamela Tom’s documentary about the artist, Tyrus, was released in 2015.

Wong was predeceased by his wife, Ruth. He is survived by three daughters, Kay Fong, Tai-Ling Wong and Kim Wong; and two grandchildren.

Tyrus Wong art

Tyrus Wong art

Tyrus Wong

Tyrus Wong

Animation Magazine

Shout!, Hasbro Date ‘Equestria Girls – Legend of Everfree’ Release


Shout! Factory and Hasbro Studios announce a strategic distribution collaboration for the North American home entertainment release of the next installment of the popular My Little Pony film series spinoff, My Little Pony Equestria Girls – Legend of Everfree. The collectible Blu-ray + DVD combo pack and DVD release will arrive on shelves in the U.S. and Canada on November 1, 2016, per the announcement made by Shout! Factory SVP of Family Entertainment, Melissa Boag.

The multi-year partnership gives Shout! The exclusive home entertainment packaged media rights and select digital rights to the film. A full range of bonus content and specialty packaging are in development, with the movie to be launched strategically through the Shout! Factory Kids imprint.

My Little Pony Equestria Girls – Legend of Everfree follows Twilight Sparkle, Rainbow Dash, Pinkie Pie, Applejack, Rarity, Fluttershy and friends as they embark on a new adventure… to camp! When Canterlot High School goes on a field trip to Camp Everfree, they’re surprised to find a magical force is causing strange things to happen. With the help of the Mane 6 and especially Sunset Shimmer (who refuses to give up on her), Twilight Sparkle must confront the dark “Midnight Sparkle” within herself and embrace her newfound magical abilities to save the camp.

Everfree is directed by Ishi Rudell and features the My Little Pony Friendship Is Magic series voice stars Tara Strong, Ashleigh Ball, Andrea Libman, Tabitha St. Germain, Cathy Weseluck and Rebecca Shoichet.

Equestria Girls - Legend of Everfree

Equestria Girls – Legend of Everfree

Animation Magazine

Framestore Goes Ape for ‘Legend of Tarzan’


Just having swung into theaters, The Legend of Tarzan — the major motion picture adaptation of Edgar Rice Burroughs classic Tarzan of the Apes — features over 700 VFX shots provided by Framestore. The studio’s tasks spanned complex digital jungles, digi-double creation and intricate character animation, notably the CG apes who adopt the human Tarzan.

The film is directed by David Yates, with VFX supervision handled by his long-time collaborator Tim Burke. The story follows the orphaned son of a shipwrecked English nobleman, born into the jungles of Africa and raised by apes. The Legend of Tarzan stars Alexander Skarsgard, Samuel L. Jackson, Christoph Waltz and Margot Robbie.

Framestore’s first creative challenge was the photo-real jungle backdrop for the film. They utilized plats of elaborate sets of settlements and villages and jungle environments back by bluescreens, created by the filmmakers at Leavesden studios. The team also referenced environments found in Gabon, in West Africa, amassing a library of roughly 7,000 indigenous plants species to use.

No Tarzan film is complete without the iconic swinging-through-the-jungle sequence. Framestore faced a few challenges in tackling the speed and movement required from the scene, which was complicated by changes in environment and lighting, as the scene transitions from a sun-filled area to a dark environment with heavy rain. Furthermore, the team were required to render the action of their fully animated Tarzan digi-double in slow-motion.

The filmmakers turned to Framestore VFX Supervisor Andy Kind to imbue the character with grace and strength for the iconic scene. The team studied ballet and circus performers to understand how the body moves when swinging on high and at speed. They then pre-vized the entire sequence, working out the exact movements Tarzan would make, before setting up a 16-unit RED camera array to capture Skarsgard’s performance in order to rebuild the geometry per frame as an animation base.

Framestore also poured energy and artistry into creating the film’s hairier stars: fully CG-animated apes who had to seamlessly interact with live actors. The director wanted to conjure Burroughs’ fictional “Mangani ape,” and has his production team develop a full-scale Mangani head and shoulders model for Framestore to reference. Framestore created the three lead Mangani: Tarzan’s adoptive mother, Kala; her son, Akut; and the fierce alpha male, Kerchak. Using gorilla anatomy reference, the team got creative modeling the Mangani, which are less furry and more muscular than real gorillas, with more exposed skin.

Animation Supervisor Kevin Spruce headed up the ape creation. “It was a very daunting concept at the beginning. Our apes were interacting with live characters, so it was a huge undertaking.” The team studied footage of gorillas and apes and even visited a zoo for first-hand experience, and discovered how the animals use full body language to communicate. But great attention also had to be paid to the apes’ eyes.

“Yates had a mandate about keeping the emotion very subtle,” notes Spruce. “It was all about the eyes, and seeing the soul there … For the animation we really felt as though we had to scale a lot back, and create the emotion through the subtle movements of the eyebrows or mouth.”

Framestore’s R&D team developed the new “Flex & Flesh” digital tool to simulate the loosening and tensing of muscles in order to achieve the high level of texture and movement in the apes’ fur and skin; and a library of facial shapes, hair filter and dynamic hair systems. Creature artists then created 15 Mangani by varying fur color, length and density, and alternating patches of grey and bald spots. The Montreal team further had to calculate how to move fur along with body dynamics in a rainy scene.

And as if that wasn’t enough, they had to create a herd of elephants as well!

Framestore is reuniting with director David Yates and VFX supervisor Tim Burke on Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them, out November 19.

The Legend of Tarzan

The Legend of Tarzan

Animation Magazine

‘Kikoriki: Legend of the Golden Dragon’ Heads to Shanghai Fest


Russian animated feature Kikoriki: Legend of the Golden Dragon has been selected to screen out of competition at the 19th Shanghai International Film Festival, taking place in the Chinese metropolis June 11-19, 2016. The film will screen as part of the “International Panorama” program on June 13 and 18.

Produced by Riki Group and Petersburg Animation Studio and directed by Denis Chernov, Kikoriki: Legend of the Golden Dragon is CG-animated comedy-adventure film that follows the lovable Kikoriki characters on a journey into the wild jungle where perilous adventure awaits. The film is one of the top 10 most successful Russian animated features ever made, and was produced with the support of the Cinema Foundation of Russia.

According to Riki Group’s VP of International Distribution, Diana Yurinova, China is a key market for the company’s projects and they are currently in active negotiations with leading Chinese distributors and co-production partners for the next installment in the Kikoriki franchise — Kikoriki: Deja Vu (fall/winter 2017-2018) — which will be set in ancient China.

Kikoriki: Legend of the Golden Dragon

Kikoriki: Legend of the Golden Dragon

Animation Magazine

Celebrating the Life of a Legend; May He Rest in Peace

Michael J. Kennedy

I just returned from attending the wake and memorial service held in New York for the legendary civil rights and criminal defense attorney, Michael J. Kennedy. It was truly an inspiring experience, and underscored the crucial role of criminal defense lawyers in society

Kennedy was a giant in the legal profession, a brilliant, creative and compassionate attorney who was drawn to those cases that seemed hopeless and unwinable, because he saw injustice and was compelled to try to help the victims. He had empathy for the less fortunate among us and saw the humanity in even the most despised defendants. They were all created equal in God’s eyes, and in Kennedys mind and soul, they deserved equal treatment.

And he was an unabashedly outspoken “lefty,” as we were called during the contentious cultural battles that led the country out of the war in Vietnam, and provided African Americans the opportunity to claim an equal role in society.

Kennedy was involved in many of the high-profile, political cases arising out of the tumultuous decades that ended the 20th Century. And the wonderfully consistent point of most all of his cases was protecting the individual against the awesome power of the state. He provided a voice for the underdog and the oppressed, and he did it with elegance and style.

The list of his clients during those decades reads like a “Who’s Who” of radical politics. For those younger readers who may not immediately recognize the names or the cases, I encourage you to do a quick Wikipedia search, and learn just how important those people and their causes were at that time.

For those of us who came of age during the Vietnam war, and the anti-Vietnam war demonstrations, no case was more important than the case of the Chicago 8, the anti-war activists who had been charged with inciting a riot at the 1968 Democratic National Convention. The defendants were all prominent anti-war radicals including Abby Hoffman and Jerry Rubin from the Youth International Party (the Yippies); Rennie Davis and Tom Hayden with the Students for a Democratic Society (SDS); Bobby Seale of the Black Panthers; and David Delinger from the National Mobilization Committee (NMC). Kennedy represented Rennie Davis in the Chicago conspiracy trial, as well as when he was subpoenaed to testify before the US House Un-American Activities Committee.

And he represented Black Panther Huey Newton on murder charges in Oakland. And Bernadine Dohrn of the then-infamous Weathermen. And a Penobscot Native American arrested for assaulting an FBI agent in Wounded Knee. And members of the Brotherhood of Eternal Love (the LSD group to which Tim Leary also belonged). And seven young Mexican Americans (Los Siete de la Raza), charged with murdering a police officer in San Francisco.

The list goes on and on and includes many non-famous defendants as well, many of whom Kennedy represented pro bono, because he recognized they were being destroyed by a hostile government that wanted to silence their voices.

Tom Forcade and High Times Magazine

Kennedy also represented Tom Forcade, a marijuana smuggler who founded High Times magazine in 1974. Forcade, who also founded the Underground Press Syndicate to connect alternative newspapers, and whom I first met in Miami Beach in 1972 at the Democratic National Convention selling marijuana to demonstrators from the People’s Pot Tree, once famously said there are only two kinds of smugglers; those who need a fork lift, and those who don’t! Clearly Forcade needed the forklift, and he needed Michael Kennedy to stay out of jail.

Kennedy was the general counsel to High Times from it’s founding to the time of his death. And true to Forcade’s desire that the magazine always support NORML, he continued and expanded their support, making High Times the single largest financial supporter in NORML’s history. It was an enduring partnership that has served marijuana smokers well over these many decades.

In more recent times, as we began to enact legalization measures in more and more states, Kennedy was one of the strongest voices reminding everyone that we must not forget those prisoners who are still in prison on marijuana charges, including a petition for clemency he and his associate David Holland filed with the Obama Justice Department seeking clemency for a number of non-violent marijuana prisoners serving life sentences.

So we lament Michael Kennedy’s passing as a tremendous personal loss for those of us who were fortunate to know him and work with him over these many years, and even more importantly, for the loss of one of the truly great advocates for personal freedom and equality for all people. Michael had a quick Irish wit, and for those who came up against him, a quick Irish temper; but he generally spoke softly, with the knowledge that truth and justice are powerful allies in the struggle for freedom.

It is terribly sad to lose an old friend and political ally, but the memorial service was an appropriate reflection of a life well-lived. Michael Kennedy was an extraordinary individual who could not ignore injustice when he saw it.




Disney Legend Frank Armitage Dies Age 91


Frank Armitage, an Australian-born American painter who created backgrounds for several classic Disney animated films and murals for Disney parks, died January 4 at his home in Paso Robles, California, at age 91. The sad news was announced by Disney Animation Studios’ vice president of communications Howard Green.

Born in Melbourne in the 1920s, Armitage served with the Royal Australian Air Force during World War II before attending art school. He left formal studies after winning an international art competition and moved to Mexico City, where he apprenticed with muralist David Alfaro Siqueiros. Armitage moved to Los Angeles in 1952 nearly flat broke but quickly signed on with Walt Disney Studios, where he would work on some of the greatest mid-century animated features.

Armitage began working at Disney as an animator on Lady and the Tramp, but found his niche putting his muralist training to work as a background painter for Peter Pan (1953), Sleeping Beauty (1959), Mary Poppins (1964) and The Jungle Book (1967). He left the studio after The Jungle Book and went on to a production illustration gig on the two-time Oscar winning sci-fi film Fantastic Voyage, which made use of his expertise in anatomical drawing.

In 1977, Armitage returned to Disney — this time as an Imagineer. He had worked on projects around Disneyland in the 1950s, but now took on much larger tasks. These included the Wonders of Life Pavilion in Epcot, 5,500 square feet of murals for Disney World’s Safari Fare Restaurant, and several mural for Tokyo DisneySea. He retired from the company in 1989.

Post-Disney, Armitage continued to put his creativity and anatomical knack to diverse uses. He studied Eastern medicine and traveled to China to learn acupuncture, later making a large donation of his medical artwork to University of Illinois at Chicago. He also donated several oil pencil drawings of gorillas to raise funds for gorilla and great ape conservation. In Paso Robles, he and his wife (and fellow retired Imagineer) Karen Connolly Armitage ran an architectural design business, and Armitage continued to create paintings and murals for private homes.

Frank Armitage was awarded the title of Disney Legend in 2009.

The well-traveled and accomplished artist is survived by his daughters Nicole Armitage Doolittle, also a Disney Imagineer, and scenic artist Michelle Armitage; by his son Wes, his stepchildren Tracy and Cecil, wife of 33 years Karen Connolly Armitage, and his sister Margaret. Donations in his name can be made to the Ryman Arts Foundation, Liga International or the University of Illinois at Chicago BVIS program to support students in the biomedical visualization masters program.

Frank Armitage

Frank Armitage

Animation Magazine

Animation Legend Eric Goldberg to Teach at USC


Veteran animator Eric Goldberg has joined the USC School of Cinematic Arts’ John C. Hench Division of Animation and Digital Arts.

Goldberg will teach classes on the fundamentals of character animation beginning in the fall of 2015.

Goldberg is widely known as one of the leading character animators working today. In his forty-year career he has given life to some of cinema’s most beloved animated characters, including Robin Williams’ unforgettable Genie in Aladdin, Phil in Hercules, and Louis in the Oscar-nominated Best Animated Feature The Princess and the Frog.

Goldberg is creating exploratory animation for the upcoming Walt Disney Animation Studio feature Moana.

He also received in 2011 the prestigious Winsor McCay Award from ASIFA-Hollywood for lifetime achievement in animation.

Eric Goldberg

Eric Goldberg

Animation Magazine

Chinese Animation Legend Ma Kexuan Dies


Chinese animation fans who grew up in the ‘80s and ‘90s are mourning the passing of national animation trailblazer Ma Kexuan, the artist and director who was the driving force behind popular characters like the Monkey King, the Three Monks and the Baby Tadpoles. CNTV reports that Ma Kexuan died Monday morning in Shanghai at the age of 76.

Ma worked for China’s largest toon house, Shanghai Animation Film Studio, where he played a key role in creating some of the most iconic animated films in the region to date. These included Havoc in Heaven, Nezha Conquers the Dragon King, Feeling from Mountain and Water, Three Monks and Baby Tadpoles Look for Their Mother.

His work helped Chinese animation make its mark on the global map. The short, Feeling from Mountain and Water, earned the top prize at the inaugural Shanghai International Film Festival in 1988, as well as Best Animated Film at the Chinese Golden Rooster Awards in 1989 and the Best Short Film prize at the Montreal International Film Festival in 1990. In addition to his professional work, Ma helped mould the next generation of Chinese animators as a teacher at Peking University in the 1990s.

Ma Kexuan

Ma Kexuan

Animation Magazine