Eric Ellenbogen Named CEO of DHX Media

DHX Media has appointed Eric Ellenbogen as Chief Executive Officer and Vice Chair of the Board of Directors. Ellenbogen succeeds Michael Donovan, who has stepped down as CEO and as Executive Chair. Donovan will continue to serve on the Board as Founding Chair. And Donald Wright has been appointed non-executive Chair.

“We are delighted to announce that Eric will lead DHX Media in fully realizing the value of our extraordinary media assets,” said Wright. “Eric brings fresh leadership and a clear vision to our Company, as well as a 30-year track record of creating significant shareholder value in the media space. In the nine months since he has joined our Board, while also serving as a strategic advisor, he has worked closely with our senior leadership team and gained a deep understanding of our Company. Given his broad perspective and decades of relevant industry experience and success, we are confident that Eric will be able to move the Company forward from the get-go as CEO.”

“We thank Michael for his many years of leadership and vision. As founder of DHX Media, Michael has played a significant role in building the Company into the global entertainment force it is today. We are pleased that he will remain on the Board.”

Ellenbogen commented, “DHX Media has an unmatched portfolio of kids’ and family content with high-profile, beloved characters, including Peanuts, Teletubbies, Strawberry Shortcake, Caillou and Inspector Gadget. In addition to its library and leading animation studios, DHX Media has built a truly unique asset in WildBrain – one of the largest kids’ networks on YouTube – with unparalleled reach and engagement. I’m pleased to have the opportunity to work with the management team, employees and our many valued partners and customers to deliver leading content and brands for audiences worldwide.”

Ellenbogen has spent more than 30 years running entertainment businesses, including holding senior management roles as President of Lorne Michaels’ Broadway Video Entertainment; President of Golden Books Family Entertainment; and President & CEO of Marvel Enterprises before its acquisition by Disney.

With the backing of private equity, he co-founded Classic Media in 2000, which became one of the largest private owners of branded kids’ and family entertainment and was acquired by DreamWorks Animation in 2012. Ellenbogen became Co-Head of DreamWorks Classics and DreamWorks International Television, and was largely responsible for the company’s entry into the television business. Following DWA’s sale to NBCUniversal, Ellenbogen became Co-President of Classic Media, which was restarted as a business unit of NBCUniversal.

Ellenbogen was a board director of Golden Books and Marvel, then both public companies, and is a Trustee of the Public Theater in New York City among other civic involvements. He is a graduate of Harvard College and holds an MBA from UCLA.

Animation Magazine

Hsiang Chin Moe Named Inaugural BFA Animation Chair at SVA

School of Visual Arts (SVA) President David Rhodes has announced the appointment of Hsiang Chin Moe as chair of the College’s BFA Animation program, effective August 1. She is the first chair of this program, which was formerly joined with SVA’s BFA Film department. Moe previously served as the director of operations for the New York City school’s MFA Computer Arts department and brings a decade of teaching experience to her new role.

Moe first joined the SVA community in 2006 as a student in the MFA Computer Arts program, where she simultaneously began her career in advertising, VFX and animation. She found her way back to SVA and joined the administrative staff of the department, eventually becoming director of operations. As a leader in this program, she oversaw curriculum development, recruitment of staff, faculty, visiting artists, guest lecturers and students, and has taught courses at both the undergraduate and graduate levels. She also acts as an advisor on MFA thesis projects. Moe was selected as the 2017 recipient of SVA’s Distinguished Staff Award.

Moe is an active member of the global animation community, working with animation executives, recruiters and artists to foster talents all over the world. In addition to organizing and moderating an annual talent panel at the Annecy International Animation Film Festival, she has made her own documentary, short and animated films that have screened in the United States and abroad, including Japan, Sweden, Taiwan and Thailand.

“It is my extreme honor and privilege to continue the success of BFA Animation, that was built upon the great achievements of alumni of the SVA animation community. Being the connection between education and industry has been my true passion and I am grateful to be given this special opportunity to expand my role as an educator for the animation community,” said Moe.

Moe regularly represents SVA as a panelist, presenter and organizer at major international conferences and festivals, including FMX Conference, VIEW Conference, SIGGRAPH, Ottawa Animation Festival, New York Comic Con and New York Foundation of the Arts. She acted as associate director of the New York Digital Salon, working to create international dialogue and partnerships to celebrate digital animation, video, games and interactive installations. She now serves as co-lead of the New York City chapter of the Women in Animation organization, where she works alongside the industry’s leading artists, filmmakers and recruiters to create an equal and supportive platform for everyone in the creative industry.

The BFA Animation program at SVA comprises more than 300 students, more than 30 faculty, and 39 courses that cover everything from innovative drawing techniques, to methods of storytelling and storyboarding, and professional software in the College’s HD digital compositing lab. Graduates of the program have gone to work for Disney Animation Studios, DreamWorks Animation SKG, Warner Bros. Animation, Blue Sky Studios, Nickelodeon, Lucasfilm Animation, Sony Pictures Animation and independent animation studios around the world. SVA has 6,000 students across all programs at its Manhattan campus and 38,000 alumni in 75 countries.

For information, visit sva.edu.

Animation Magazine

Spin Master Named Global Master Toy Partner for ‘Gabby’s Dollhouse’

Leading, global children’s entertainment company Spin Master has reached an agreement with Universal Brand Development to become the global master toy licensee for DreamWorks Animation’s all-new preschool series, Gabby’s Dollhouse. With an anticipated 2021 launch, Spin Master will bring the characters from the show to life through a toy line that will include playsets, figures, plush, games and puzzles.

Gabby’s Dollhouse will debut globally on Netflix in 2020.

“We’re thrilled to partner with Universal Brand Development on this exciting new TV series that is sure to capture the imaginations of preschoolers,” said Ben Gadbois, Spin Master’s Global President and COO. “Spin Master has had a long, successful partnership with Universal Brand Development, and we are looking forward to bringing our renowned innovation to the toy line for Gabby’s Dollhouse. This partnership further strengthens our preschool portfolio of both owned and licensed IP, leveraging our expertise and scale in the category.”

Created and executive produced by Traci Paige Johnson (Blue’s Clues, Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood) and Jennifer Twomey (Blue’s Clues, Team Umizoomi), Gabby’s Dollhouse is a mixed-media series that unboxes a surprise before jumping into a fantastical animated world full of adorable cat characters that live inside Gabby’s dollhouse, where any adventure can unfold.

“Gabby’s Dollhouse is the ultimate dollhouse experience come to life,” said Joe Lawandus, Senior Vice President and General Manager, Global Toys and Hardlines, Universal Brand Development. “The series is a fresh and modern take on traditional dollhouse play, and we look forward to collaborating with Spin Master to design toys that will inspire creativity and create endless opportunities for imaginative play and storytelling.”

Animation Magazine

Caroline Tyre Named GBI SVP Int’l Distribution, Head of Genius Brands Network

Genius Brands International has appointed content sales and acquisitions veteran Caroline Tyre to oversee global content sales as SVP of international distribution. Additionally, Tyre will spearhead the ongoing digital growth as Head of the Genius Brands Network. The announcement was made today by Genius Brands’ Chairman and CEO Andy Heyward, to whom she will report.

“2019 and 2020 are pivotal years for Genius Brands with the global rollout of our flagship brands, and the development of new properties to take to market,” stated Heyward. “Caroline offers extensive 360-degree expertise in the content industry with a keen insight into the dynamics of the ever-evolving children’s media landscape, and she will be instrumental in building existing relationships and forging new ones with broadcasters and platforms around the world to launch our properties into the marketplace.”

Tyre will be responsible for all aspects of Genius Brands’ global distribution business, including content sales for the company’s library of children’s programming such as Stan Lee’s Superhero Kindergarten, starring Arnold Schwarzenegger, which will be on offer for the first time at this year’s MIP Junior market; the hit CGI-animated preschool series Rainbow Rangers, currently airing season one on Nick Jr. with season two in production; the Netflix Original preschool series Llama Llama, starring Jennifer Garner, which is currently in production on season two; Warren Buffett’s Secret Millionaires Club, created with and starring iconic investor Warren Buffett; award-winning toddler brand Baby Genius; adventure comedy series Thomas Edison’s Secret Lab; and a slate of projects currently in development.

She will also lead the continued expansion of the Genius Brands Network — a destination devoted to delivering “Content with a Purpose,” providing kids and parents with a choice in premium entertaining, enriching and engaging programming. The network is comprised of Kid Genius Cartoon Channel and Baby Genius TV and is distributed across multiple OTT platforms as both AVOD and SVOD services, including Amazon Prime, Comcast’s Xfinity on Demand, Roku, Apple TV, Amazon Fire, Cox, Tubi and Xumo. The Genius Brands Network currently reaches 80 million U.S. households with continued expansion planned both in the U.S. and internationally.

“It is an honor to join Genius Brands to be an integral part of the executive team as the company is poised to grow exponentially this year, particularly with the international debut of Rainbow Rangers, as well as the introduction at MIP Junior of Stan Lee’s Superhero Kindergarten to potential partners around the globe,” said Tyre. “This is truly an exciting time to be part of what Andy and his team have been building over the past five plus years, and I look forward to lending my expertise to take the company’s content distribution to the next level.”

Tyre, a 20-year industry veteran, has been involved with a wide range of positions within the entertainment industry from acquisitions and programming to distribution and licensing. Prior to joining Genius Brands, she served as Vice President, Sales & Acquisitions for AuxMode, a global MCN with 2,000+ channels worldwide that are generating more than 2 billion views/month. Her work with networks and studios has included pivotal positions in sales and acquisitions at other top-tier companies such as Spin Master, Entertainment One, DHX Media, the CBC, and TELETOON, where she spent six years as the Director of Programming.

Animation Magazine

Randy Lake Named Chief Operating Officer DreamWorks Animation

DreamWorks Animation announced the appointment of Randy Lake as Chief Operating Officer. Joining the company in July, Lake will be responsible for the studio’s strategic planning and primary business operations, including feature and television production, post production, business and legal affairs, finance and technology. The appointment was made by DreamWorks Animation President Margie Cohn.

“As we solidify our leadership team, Randy provides a strong strategic vision that will be beneficial to the entire studio as we partner in taking DreamWorks into the future,” said Cohn. “His years of experience working cross-divisionally will allow us to expand upon the successful collaboration between our film and television divisions, as well as with our colleagues at Universal, furthering DreamWorks position as one of the most prolific animation studios in the world.”

“I’m thrilled to be joining Margie and her passionate and talented team and look forward to this opportunity to build upon DreamWorks’ storied legacy during such an exciting time at the studio,” said Lake.

Lake most recently served as President of Studio Operations & Imageworks at Sony Pictures Entertainment, where he oversaw all operations, strategy and planning for Sony Pictures Imageworks, post production services, production services, global mastering & servicing and asset management. Lake joined Sony in 2006 as Vice President, and later Senior Vice President of Corporate Development. He is a member of the Academy of Motion Pictures Arts & Sciences, and the Academy of Television Arts & Sciences.

Prior to Sony, Lake served as a strategy consultant to the entertainment, media and technology industries for Booz Allen in New York, London and San Francisco. Lake began his career as a securities attorney with Brobeck, Pheleger & Harrison in San Francisco, and holds a JD from Harvard Law School and a BA from the University of California, Berkeley.

The inaugural DreamWorks Animation feature released by Universal Pictures in February, How to Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World, was a critically global success and garnered more than $ 500 million and counting in global box office. Upcoming DreamWorks movies slated for release include Abominable in September 2019, and Trolls World Tour and The Croods 2 in 2020.

DreamWorks Animation Television is in production on more than 20 series, including Guillermo del Toro’s 3Below, She-Ra and the Princesses of Power and Spirit Riding Free. The studio has several original series slated to debut in 2019, including the highly anticipated Fast & Furious animated series, Where’s Waldo? and Archibald’s Next Big Thing from creator and executive producer Tony Hale.

Animation Magazine

JAKKS Named Master Toy for ‘Last Kids on Earth’ from Atomic Cartoons, Cyber Group

Atomic Cartoons, the kids and family division of Thunderbird Entertainment Group Inc., and Cyber Group Studios have entered into a Master Toy Agreement with JAKKS Pacific Inc., for The Last Kids on Earth series created by Max Brallier. The property will launch as a consumer brand at Licensing Expo in Las Vegas in June. The series will launch on Netflix later this year.

Under the terms of the new agreement, JAKKS Pacific, a world-leading designer, manufacturer and marketer of toys and consumer products, will develop and bring to market a range of merchandise inspired by the bestselling book series and upcoming Netflix production. The line will be available in all territories except China. This will include action figures, activity toys, role-play accessories, vehicles, plush items, novelty items, games, and play electronics. Cyber Group Studios brokered the deal on behalf of Atomic Cartoons.

This agreement follows a previous worldwide licensing deal between Atomic Cartoons and Cyber Group Studios, which became the sole and exclusive representative worldwide for merchandising, ancillary and second window TV rights for the series.

“We are very excited to partner with Atomic Cartoons and Cyber Group Studios to develop a line of merchandise that will bring The Last Kids on Earth to life in a new way,” notes Craig Drobis, SVP Marketing, JAKKS Pacific, Inc. “With themes of friendship, heroism and humor in the face of a monster and zombie apocalypse, it is no surprise the series has been embraced by readers around the world, and has all the ingredients for an amazing line of toys.”

Richard Goldsmith, President and CEO of Cyber Group Studios USA, adds: “When the opportunity to partner with Atomic for The Last Kids on Earth became available earlier in 2019, we jumped at the chance to contribute to, what is sure to be, an exciting new global franchise — first with the launch the upcoming animated Netflix series, and soon with an exciting line of merchandise based on the popular characters, thanks to our new partnership with JAKKS Pacific.”

The Last Kids on Earth series follows the comedic adventures of 13-year old Jack Sullivan and his gang of wise-cracking middle school friends, who live together in a decked-out treehouse after a monster apocalypse has taken place. In a world without parents, they gorge themselves on candy, play video games, invent gadgets and, of course, battle zombies and giant-sized monsters. The books, published by Viking Press, an imprint of Penguin Random House, are a New York Times and USA Today bestselling series, with over two and a half million copies in print around the world.

“When Atomic Cartoons first acquired The Last Kids on Earth to create an animated series, I was excited and honored at the possibility,” says Max Brallier. “As I watch the franchise grow, I remain humbled by how the world has embraced these characters, this world, and the story of Jack Sullivan.”

Brallier is attached to the Netflix series as creator and executive producer, along with Scott Peterson, who is the showrunner and an executive producer. Matthew Berkowitz and Jennifer Twiner McCarron, who is the CEO of Thunderbird and Atomic Cartoons, are also executive producers on the series.

“It has been such a privilege for our team to work on this series with world class creative talent like Max Brallier and showrunner Scott Peterson, and to bring these amazing books to life with a major platform in Netflix. Our partnership with Cyber Group Studios, and now JAKKS Pacific, to create toys based on this series is the cherry on top,” says Matt Berkowitz, Chief Creative Officer, Thunderbird Entertainment Group and Atomic Cartoons. “With the animated series debuting later this year, and merchandise on the horizon in early 2020, we hope that The Last Kids on Earth franchise will be delighting audiences, in multiple formats, for many years to come.”

Earlier this year, the star-studded voice cast was announced, and will feature the talents of Mark Hamill, Rosario Dawson, Catherine O’Hara, Keith David, Bruce Campbell, Garland Whitt, Montse Hernandez and Charles Demers, in addition to Nick Wolfhard as the lead character Jack Sullivan.

Animation Magazine

SFFILM Golden Gate Award Winners: ‘Selfies’ Named Best Animation

SFFILM announced on Sunday the winners of the juried Golden Gate Award competitions at the 2019 San Francisco International Film Festival (April 10–23), at an event held at the Brava Theater Center. This year the Festival awarded nearly $ 40,000 in prizes to emerging and established filmmakers. The 2019 Best Animated Short winner was Swiss social media send-up Selfies, but animation had a strong showing across several categories.

The SFFILM Golden Gate Awards have honored deserving filmmakers and their projects for over 60 years, bringing recognition for unique and innovative filmmaking to the Bay Area’s local and international audiences. San Francisco Int’l Film Festival is the longest-running film festival in the Americas, celebrating its 62nd edition this year.

A select list of winners follows, visit sffilm.org to learn more about the festival and all the winning films.

Animated Short Winner: Selfies, Claudius Gentinetta (Switzerland)
$ 2,000 cash prize
“This film’s playful take on our social media lives encapsulates the highs and lows of the human experience, all packed into a succinct four minutes. We loved its creative transitions, absurd sense of humor, and painterly style all used expertly to reflect back on ourselves in these rapidly changing times.”

New Visions Short Winner: Cold Pudding Settles Love, Urszula Palusi?ska (Poland) $ 2,000 cash prize
“Hypnotic disco ball suits, body casts, neon skies, ghost like limousine rides, and mysterious powerful figures that make up a bleak disorienting world- captured vividly with lo-fi mixed media animation. This film demands repeated viewing to unpack the many themes and dreamlike moments that stayed with us days after seeing it.”

Bay Area Short Second Prize Winner: Confidence Game, Kathleen Quillian (U.S.A.)
$ 1,500 cash prize
“Its sharp and strong sense of design, and compelling subject matter. This animated short film employed a layered, collage style that perfectly mirrored the complex, layered issue at the heart of the film.”

Family Film Prize Winner: One Small Step, Andrew Chesworth, Bobby Pontillas (U.S.A./China)
$ 1,500 cash prize
“Its complex story arc [is] executed in an imaginative way, and further complimented its beautiful message of the people who support your dreams are just as important as the achievement itself, and as you achieve your dreams, you carry those people with you.”

Youth Works Prize: Meeting at Half Past Five, Daria Litvichenko (Russian Federation)
$ 1,000 cash prize
“An innovative animation style, with a funny and unexpected story. The film was strengthened by a strong voice-over performance and a unique point of view.”

Selfies

Selfies

Cold Pudding Settles Love

Cold Pudding Settles Love

Confidence Game

Confidence Game

One Small Step

One Small Step

Meeting at Half Past Five

Meeting at Half Past Five

Animation Magazine

Nader Alikhani Named Creative Development Director of Atomhawk

Atomhawk, a world-leading digital art and design company for the games and entertainment industries, announced the appointment of Nader Alikhani as Creative Development Director. Bringing a great breadth of games industry experience as an artist, creative director and studio head over the past 14 years, Alikhani will lead new business and creative development opportunities with current and prospective clients worldwide from Atomhawk’s Vancouver studio.

“We’re delighted to welcome Nader on board to help us grow our international client base,” said Tim Wilson, Managing Director of Atomhawk. “It’s really valuable to have someone in the role who really understands our business, our creative processes and our clients and who is able to identify their visual needs and work with our teams in the U.K. and Canada to deliver tailored creative solutions.”

Alikhani said, “I’ve had a great few months really getting to know the Atomhawk teams in Gateshead and Vancouver and gaining a really in-depth knowledge of all aspects of the business. I’ve always been passionate about art and design in games and am relishing the opportunity to connect with people in the games industry and beyond to discuss new creative possibilities and to work with the Atomhawk art, design and production teams to help make them a reality.”

Alikhani will be representing Atomhawk at GDC in San Francisco (March 18-22) and other industry events across North America in the coming months.

The company is continuing to expand its teams in both Gateshead, U.K. and Vancouver, Canada. More information about career opportunities available at atomhawk.workable.com.

Atomhawk Showreel 2018 from Atomhawk Design on Vimeo.

Animation Magazine

Jason Chappelle Named Exec Creative Director of Aspect

Aspect, a multi-award winning creative advertising agency that provides strategic marketing solutions across all entertainment platforms, has named Jason Chappelle as its new Executive Creative Director. The announcement was made by Lisa Feldman and Nati Braunstein, Co-Presidents and Creative Directors, Aspect.

Prior to joining Aspect, Chappelle had been a Senior Vice President and Creative Director at MOCEAN, where his most recent feature film campaigns included those for The LEGO Movie 2 and Alita: Battle Angel. In his new role with Aspect, he will be responsible for helping to secure new clients and projects; managing the high-level creative for those projects; and working closely with Feldman and Braunstein to chart the course for the agency’s future.

“We’re very excited to announce that Jason Chappelle has joined Aspect as our new Executive Creative Director,” Feldman and Braunstein said. “He has years of experience working with some of the top creative agencies in Hollywood, and has contributed to such recent, high profile film campaigns as those for Bohemian Rhapsody, Deadpool 2 and Game Night. Most importantly, he adds another strong creative voice to Aspect, and will also help us expand our services to a broader client base. We’re super stoked about him joining our team – and we’re delighted he is no longer one of our toughest competitors!”

Chappelle added, “I’ve long been a fan of Aspect’s work, so when Nati and Lisa offered me the chance to join them and help build their future, it was something I couldn’t pass up. I’ve always retained a tremendous respect for Aspect’s creativity. As I now transition from ‘competitor’ to ‘collaborator,’ I couldn’t be more excited to start this new chapter of my career, working in-house with Nati, Lisa, and the entire Aspect team.”

Before joining MOCEAN, Chappelle was at Buddha Jones for over seven years, working first as a writer/producer, and eventually being promoted to Senior Producer. At Buddha, he honed his skills at both creative producing and client management. There, he worked on dozens of movie campaigns, including Spy, The SpongeBob SquarePants Movie, How to Train Your Dragon 2, The Heat, Chronicle and Inglourious Basterds.

Chappelle began his entertainment industry career at MTV Networks in New York. After moving to Los Angeles, he secured a writer/producer job at Studio City, where he learned the art of short-form storytelling. He worked there for over four years, ultimately becoming Head Writer — but his passion for movie trailers next led him to The Cimarron Group. A two-year stint there as a writer/producer, followed by two years working as a freelancer, led him to Buddha Jones. The winner of multiple Golden Trailer and CLIO Entertainment Awards, Chappelle holds a BA Degree from the University of Pennsylvania, and an MBA Degree in Entrepreneurship from Babson College.

Animation Magazine

News Bytes: Fox’s Ahuja Named Disney TV CFO, Netflix Riposte to Spielberg, ‘Adrian’ Scores for Autism Awareness & More

YouTube Disables Comments on Tens of Millions of Videos Featuring Kids in Effort to Prevent Adpocalypse 2.0
The video platform has been in damage control mode since user Matt Watson discovered pedophilic comments piling up on videos of young kids, prompting major clients to pull their ads. YT has now disabled commenting on a huge number of videos showing children under age 18, and is asking smaller accounts to “actively moderate their comments, beyond just using our moderation tools.”

Walt Disney Television to Add Ravi Ahuja to Its Ranks as President, Business Operations, and Chief Financial Officer, After the Close of 21st Century Fox Acquisition
Ahuja will oversee finance, strategic planning, business development, affiliate sales & distribution, technology, music affairs, consumer insights and labor relations for the division. In addition, he will work closely with business units to optimize and grow revenues and operating income, and will liaise with Disney’s Direct-to-Consumer and International segment in regards to advertising sales and content distribution.

As previously announced, upon the closing of the 21CF transaction, Peter Rice will head Walt Disney Television as chairman. Ahuja will report to Rice and Christine McCarthy, senior EVP and CFO, The Walt Disney Company, and joins announced post-closing business unit leaders James Goldston, president, ABC News; Gary Knell, chairman, National Geographic Partners; John Landgraf, chairman, FX Networks and FX Productions; Gary Marsh, president and chief creative officer, Disney Channels Worldwide; and Dana Walden, chairman, Disney Television Studios and ABC Entertainment.

Robert Langer, current chief financial officer, Disney|ABC Television, will assume the role of executive vice president, Finance & Planning for The Walt Disney Company, reporting to McCarthy, following the close of the 21st Century Fox acquisition.

Comet Entertainment & Mana T Team Team Up with Autism Soccer
Canadian toon house Comet and Puerto Rico-based Mana T Studios have signed on as co-producers with Autism Soccer for a new animated series, Adrian & Friends (52 x 11’). Under the tagline, “We are all different yet the same”, the comedy-adventure will tell the story of Adrian, a kid with autism, who through soccer will discover the wonders of the world around him while accompanied by friends and his dog, Toby. The aim of this series is to promote inclusion, respect, education, understanding and fraternity. A pilot will premiere during the first annual Autism Soccer Walk on April 6 in Hialeah, FL.

Netflix Responds to Steven Spielberg’s Push to Bar It from Oscars

The streaming platform and rising original productions behemoth, which scored four Oscars this year for Alfonso Cuaron’s Roma, delivered a subtle parry by Tweeting: “We love cinema. Here are some things we also love: Access for people who can’t always afford, or live in towns without, theaters. Letting everyone, everywhere enjoy releases at the same time. Giving filmmakers more ways to share art. These things are not mutually exclusive.”

Honestly, who gets to decide the difference between entertainment and art?

[insert simpsons meme here]

WATCH: Pixomondo ‘The Wandering Earth’ VFX Breakdown
VFX house Pixomondo (creators of Game of Thrones dragons and Oscar winners for Hugo) delivered shots for the Chinese sci-fi smash recently picked up by Netflix.

ONF & UQAM Deliver Interactive Sexual Awakening with ‘Clit-moi’
The educational mobile experience created by student collaborators under the 2018 “Jeunes pousses” (Young Shoots) program seeks to address the “orgasm gap” by raising awareness of the clitoris, a pleasure-focused body part that has been unhelpfully shrouded in mystery since its “discovery” in 1559. The project is produced by the ONF (the French-speaking side of Canada’s National Film Board) with Université du Québec à Montréal.

Get to know Clit-moi on your mobile device at https://clitmoi.onf.ca/

Clit-moi – (Bande-annonce) from NFB/marketing on Vimeo.

The Wandering Earth

The Wandering Earth

Ravi Ahuja

Ravi Ahuja

Clit-moi

Clit-moi

Animation Magazine

Exclusive: Kraneo Estudio Named Pixelatl 2019 Creative Partner

Organizers of the Pixelatl annual animation festival in Cuernavaca, Mexico — being held this year from September 3-7 — have announce that this year’s local studio partner charged with developing the graphic identity and animated teaser will be Krano Estudio. The Puebla-based stop-motion specialists will be working off the 2019 theme “Roots and tomorrow”, with the final fruits of their labors to be revealed at Annecy this summer reflecting the event’s international reach.

Formed by a production team with seven years’ experience in stop-motion animation, Kraneo is a graphics and audiovisual production shop which has worked on notable projects such as the short films Debajo del árbol (Under the Tree, 2011), Puebla 1862 cubierta de gloria (Puebla 1862 Covered in Glory, 2012) and the winner of the national selection of short films IMCINE by the Mexican Film Institute. Its latest film, Elena y las sombras (Elena and the Shadows) was awarded the Best Short Film Online at Morelia International Film Festival (2016), the Diosa de Plata (Silver Goddess) award for Best Animation Short (2017), and was nominated by the Mexican Cinema and Arts Academy for the Ariel Award for Best Animated Short (2017).

Since 2016, the studio has produce a number of projects both in-house and as a service studio. Kraneo collaborated with the Stop-Motion MX Festival on their fourth edition’s ad spot, official imagery and as speakers and workshop presenters. They have also worked for Amazon Mexico and on the “Sad Toys” campaign for Nestlé Mexico (in collaboration with Nurun) which earned a Golden Effie Award. The team also collaborated on the first Mexican stop-motion feature.

Kraneo was selected to participate in the Workshop with Francesca Maxwell, Laika art director in 2016 at the IV Latin American Stop-Motion & Animation Workshop. They also got a project selected for the Work-In-Progress Animation Lab by Celeste Estudio Creativo (2017) in La Paz, Bolivia, and selected to attend the first creative industries business encounter SUBLIME Jalisco (2018), organized by Pixelatl, CCD Jalisco and Jalisco Creativo.

The studio is currently developing animated TV series The Roomie and The Seekers Club; short films Carpintero, Bruno and Lilith; and their first stop-motion feature film Julia y el Portal del Abismo (Julia and the Portal of the Abyss).

Learn more at elfestival.mx and kraneoestudio.com.

Kraneo Estudio / Pixelatl

Kraneo Estudio / Pixelatl

Kraneo Estudio / Pixelatl

Kraneo Estudio / Pixelatl

Kraneo Estudio / Pixelatl

Kraneo Estudio / Pixelatl

Animation Magazine

Safaa Benazzouz Named SVP Media Sales Distribution for Xilam

Award-winning French animation studio Xilam Animation has appointed Safaa Benazzouz to the position of SVP Media Sales Distribution for Latin America, Middle East, Africa and Southern Europe.

Benazzouz will report to Morgann Favennec, EVP Global Sales Development, and will be responsible for sales across Xilam’s portfolio of kids’ animation, including Oggy and the Cockroaches, Zig & Sharko, Paprika and new series Mr Magoo and Moka. She will be based in Xilam’s head office in Paris and commences her role on Monday, February 25. Benazzouz will also work alongside Céline Carenco SVP Media Distribution who handles the Asia-Pacific, Northern and Eastern Europe markets to continue expanding Xilam’s international reach.

Benazzouz joins Xilam from French kids’ distribution company Superights, where she held the position of Sales Manager for Asia, Latin America, Spain, Middle East, Africa and In-Flight sales and was also involved in acquisitions and global strategies. Benazzouz first joined Superights as a Sales Assistant when the distributor was founded by Favennec in 2013, playing a key role in building the company and quickly progressing to her most recent position.

“We’re thrilled to be welcoming Safaa to the Xilam Animation team,” said Favennec. “Having worked closely with Safaa in her previous role, I know that her wealth of experience in maximising sales opportunities for kids’ animated content makes her the ideal candidate to continue accelerating our presence in Latin America, MEA and Southern Europe and identifying new areas of growth.”

Benazzouz added: “I am delighted to be joining Xilam during this exciting time of expansion. As Xilam continues to build its colorful portfolio of internationally loved kids’ animations, I look forward to once again working closely with Morgann and the rest of the team to bring the studio’s content to new audiences.”

Safaa Benazzouz

Safaa Benazzouz

Animation Magazine

Kari Kim Named VP Animation Development at Nickelodeon

Nickelodeon has hired on digital and TV industry veteran Kari Kim as Vice President of Animation Development. Kim will be responsible for all aspects of original series development from concept to pilot, including all creative and production. She will be based at Nickelodeon’s Burbank, California studio and report to Ramsey Naito, EVP of Animation Production.

“Kari’s expertise in creating original content and her ability to identify new talent makes her a terrific addition to the Nick animation team,” said Naito. “By combining her experience with our current franchise development team, led by Claudia Spinelli, we are on track to continue to grow our animation content pipeline.”

Kim brings more than 15 years of experience to her new post. Prior to joining Nickelodeon, she was a development & production executive at King Features Syndicate, where she created and produced content for over 60 properties, including Cuphead, Popeye and Flash Gordon, as well as co-creating the audio game Trivia Treat for Amazon Echo. Before that, Kim was a consulting development executive and executive producer at pocket.watch, developing and pitching animated content for its kids & family slate.

Prior to pocket.watch, Kim worked as Vice President of Program Development at HLN where she helped lead the brand’s relaunch from CNN Headline News to HLN, building video teams to create and develop original series, specials, branded content, and various short form series. She also served as a founding member of the venture capital-funded TV and digital transmedia company, Worldwide Biggies, producing TV series for Nickelodeon, Awesomeness, Spike and EPIX; as a producer for documentaries at Shine Global; and as a supervising producer for EPIX’s documentary film, Alive: Life After Injury.

Kari Kim

Kari Kim

Animation Magazine

Eight Cannabis Strains Named After Other Drugs

The strain name game is a fun, complicated mess of cannabis genetics, nomenclature and overzealous salespeople. You can find strains named after celebrities, candy, presidents, mountain ranges and everything in between.

Since they’re dealing with a psychoactive substance, it’s not surprising that strain breeders and pot dealers have named a few strains after other drugs that give off similar effects — luckily for tokers, not that similar. From Acid to Opium, here are eight strains named after drugs of much more serious consequence.

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Opium
Given its calming and sedating qualities, Opium’s name is well-deserved. The high is soothing for the body and mind, relieving stress, pressures and pain — or making you forget about them, at the very least. Although heavily used for medical purposes, Opium is also great for a night in, as its relaxing and visual effects keep the senses stimulated for a good amount of time before you slip into the inevitable doze.

Herijuana
Shouldn’t be hard to figure out what inspired this strain’s name. Bred from an Afghani cut from Northern California, Petrolia Headstash, and a mystery hybrid from Kentucky, this heavy indica is known for its pain-relief and sleep-inducing qualities, as well as an old-school flavor profile comprising notes of wood, hash, fruit, zest and soil. If you can’t find Herijuana, look for its citrus daughter, Orange Herijuana. 

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Blue Magic
Jay Z fans or anyone who’s seen American Gangster will get the reference, but for those who don’t: Blue magic was the name of the infamous heroin sold by New York drug trafficker Frank Lucas. The cannabis strain bearing its name is believed to be a phenotype of Blue Dream, carrying a quick burst of euphoric energy before bringing users down and relaxing their bodies.

Novacaine
Named after Novocaine, the painkiller made popular at the dentist office, this cross of Sensi Star, San Fernando Valley OG Kush and Jacks Cleaner 2 is a sativa-dominant strain known for a piney, earthy taste. We’ve seen it at Good Chemistry and around town in concentrate form by Green Dot Labs.

Does this look like LSD?

Does this look like LSD?

Herbert Fuego

LSD
The name speaks for itself: LSD produces one helluva body high, melting away aches and stress — or just making users forget about them. An intense cerebral uplift can leave users spacey, with a tendency to zone in on whatever is directly in front of them. The head high will transform into a body melt within an hour or so, though, so get your pajamas on ASAP.

Acid
This phenotype of New York City Diesel is a take on the legendary sativa from Dutch breeder Paradise Seeds. The mental euphoria can be intense and uplifting, nearing the point of “narcotic sensations,” according to Acid’s breeder. Those strong effects and the strain’s metallic, gassy flavor led to the strain’s name.

White Girl
No, not Christina Aguilera, but rather a hybrid of Berry White and Girl Scout Cookies — two strains known for thick coats of resin glands and stiff THC percentages. If you have the tolerance to handle this more-than-basic bitch, it can be a pretty even high, taking you to space before slowly dragging you down into lethargy.

DMT
An in-house creation from Green Dot Labs, this strain is named after dimethyltryptamine, or DMT, an intense psychedelic drug found at music festivals and in wook pipes across the country. With Sour Bubble genetics, expect GBL’s extracts to carry an indica heavy on the visuals, with fruity, Diesel flavors.


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Jay Francis & Angi Dyste Named Disney TV Animation Veeps

Disney Television Animation has upped two of its key executives: Jay Francis has been promoted to Vice President, Current Series and Diversity; and Angi Dyste has been promoted to Vice President, Production and Artist Management. The announcement was made today by Meredith Roberts, SVP Animation Strategy, Disney Channels.

“Jay and Angi have a wealth of experience across virtually every area of the animation business. Their strong relationships with top talent in the kids’ TV space and their ability to foster innovative ideas make them well-poised to usher in the next generation of artists at TVA,” commented Roberts.

Jay Francis will continue to work as a creative executive on multiple Disney Channel series; including Big City Greens, Milo Murphy’s Law and the upcoming Amphibia; while expanding his role to work closely with the development and recruitment teams to identify, secure and mentor diverse creative talent. He reports to Khaki Jones, VP Current Series, Disney Television Animation. Francis joined Disney TVA in 2007, most recently serving as Executive Director, Current Series, managing Disney’s global hit Phineas and Ferb, Penn Zero: Part-Time Hero, Future-Worm! and Randy Cunningham: 9th Grade Ninja, among other series.

Prior to joining Disney, Francis was VP & General Manager, Recruiting and Acquisitions for Level 13, Film Roman’s online animation distribution network. Earlier, he served as director of talent recruiting for Film Roman, working on series including The Simpsons, Family Guy and King of the Hill” Born in Boston, Massachusetts, Francis holds a Bachelor of Science in television and film production from the Newhouse School of Public Communications at Syracuse University.

Angi Dyste will continue to manage production on TVA’s rapidly increasing programming slate for Disney Channel’s audience of kids 6-11; including DuckTales, Big Hero 6 the Series, Rapunzel’s Tangled Adventures, Star vs. The Forces of Evil, Big City Greens and Mickey Mouse shorts, among many others; while adding oversight of TVA’s Artist Management department, which includes artist recruitment, management, enrichment and training. She reports to Lisa Salamone, SVP Production, Disney Television Animation.

A 20-year Disney veteran, Dyste most recently served as Executive Director, Production Management, Disney Television Animation. Prior to production management, she served as line producer on My Friends Tigger & Pooh, for which she earned an Emmy Award nomination. She began her career at Disney as an associate producer at Disneytoon Studios. A native of Bainbridge Island, Washington, Dyste graduated from University of California, Los Angeles, with a Bachelor of Arts degree with honors in art history.

Animation Magazine