News Bytes: ‘Miracle Tunes’ in Greece, Getting Wild in ‘Planet Zoo,’ the Perfect Con Bag & More

CROWDFUND: HEX x Jim Lee | The First Backpacks for Artists & Collectors
On its way to the stretch goal of $ 250K (contributors receive a Jim Lee print!), this ultimate con-going bag for pros, hobbyists and fans boasts all kinds of features to keep your tools and treasures safe: Removable 11” x 17” portfolio, art supplies organizers, waterproof ink pocket, fleece-lined laptop pocket and padded tablet pocket, charger cable pass-through, quick access card/ID pocket, and more. The Collector’s Backpack boasts individual fleece-lined comic carrying pockets, poster tube holder, anti-theft zipper lock and a pocket that perfectly fits the Overstreet Price Guide. Plus, Jim Lee art that will make the haters say, Holy enviable con accessories, Batman!

WATCH Artists Alley: Kamille Areopagita Shows Us How to Animate Gwen Stacy
SYFY WIRE catches up with the Critical Role animator in the latest installment of its video series. Learn how to brings Ghost-Spider — who made her big screen debut in Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse — to life!

Facebook Has Built a Real-Time VR FAcial Animation System
Facebook Reality Labs haS developed a revolutionary system called “Codec Avatars” that gives VR users ability to interact with others while representing themselves with life-like avatars precisely animated in real-time. That reality show Catfish is going to be amazing in five years.

Planet Zoo’ Is Using Procedural Animation to Create the Most Realistic Animals We Have Ever Seen in a Video Game
Frontier Developments has honed its digital creations through Jurassic World Evolution, Planet Coaster and Zoo Tycoon to create its most believable animal world yet in this latest management sim title.

Showlab Seals Greek Deal on ‘Miracle Tunes’
On the heels of its Italian debut on Cartoonito, Showlab’s live-action series Miracle Tunes (51 x 26’) — featuring cuddly-cute 3D CG helper creatures — makes its way to Smile TV in Greece later this year. The series is aimed at girls 4-9, and has inspired a range of playthings from master toy partner Giochi Preziosi which will hit Greek shelves after the national broadcast launch.

WATCH: Christian Rich “Shibuya (Ghost II)” Official Video
Blinkink director Olivier Lescot (Breakbot “Another You”) has created another visually compelling animated music video, this time through Parisian partner agency Eddy. The track features Vic Mensa, Jaden Smith and Belly whose stylings are played against a neon-tinged, manga-inspired world as five characters traverse Shibuya’s violent criminal underworld.

Planet Zoo

Planet Zoo

HEX x Jim Lee

HEX x Jim Lee

Miracle Tunes

Miracle Tunes

Christian Rich - Shibuya

Christian Rich – Shibuya

Animation Magazine

‘The Secret Life of Pets 2’: A Paw-sitively Perfect Second Act

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

Five years ago, the team at Illumination Entertainment, led by producers Janet Healy and Chris Meledandri, and directors Chris Renaud and Yarrow Cheney hit animation gold with their exploration into The Secret Life of Pets. The movie received great reviews and went on to gross over $ 875 million worldwide, becoming the animation studio’s biggest blockbuster to date.

This summer, Meledandri, Healy, Renaud and new co-director Jonathan del Val (animation director for the first Pets and The Grinch) offer fans another peek into the lives of Max the terrier, Duke the mutt, Snowball the rabbit and all the other animals they come to meet in a colorful new sequel.

The Secret Life of Pets 2

The Secret Life of Pets 2

The new chapter of the animals’ adventures finds Max (now voiced by Patton Oswalt, replacing Louis C.K.) facing empty nest anxieties as his owner’s child gets ready for preschool. Meanwhile, Gidget (Jenny Slate) tries to rescue Max’s favorite toy, and Snowball (Kevin Hart) attempts to free a white tiger (Nick Kroll) from a circus.

“We started working on concepts for the sequel to Pets while we were finishing the first film,” recalls Renaud, an Illumination studio veteran, who directed the first two Despicable Me movies and The Lorax and exec produced the two Minion movies and The Grinch. Everyone involved loved the characters and felt there was more story to tell. Very early in the process we began focusing on pets and kids.”

Renaud says a sequel is always a bit daunting, because as a director you want to deliver what people liked about the first film but within a completely new and unexpected package. “This means new characters, sets and situations,” he adds. “As filmmakers, creating these new elements becomes the fun part of developing a sequel.”

The Secret Life of Pets 2

The Secret Life of Pets 2

One of The Secret Life of Pets 2’s cool visual elements is the introduction of a farm. Renaud says this new environment allowed the team to create a whole new world with new characters. “Additionally, animals on a farm have a very different perspective on life than our pampered city pets,” he notes. “We used this to create some great comedic and dramatic conflict.”

The sequel, which is penned by Brian Lynch (Minions), brings back Duke (Eric Stonestreet), Gidget (Jenny Slate) and Chloe (Lake Bell), and also welcomes new cast members Rooster the farm dog (Harrison Ford in his first animated role!) and Daisy the Shih Tzu (Tiffany Haddish).

The Secret Life of Pets 2

The Secret Life of Pets 2

Janet Healy (Despicable Me movies, Sing), who also produced the first movie, adds “All the characters in The Secret Life of Pets 2 are in some way familiar, they represent the personalities and behaviors we see in our beloved pets every day. Just like we humans, these pets have close friendships, deep loyalties, big problems to solve and heroic deeds to accomplish. The pets in our franchise are a familiar and dear part of our families, and now they are a wonderful part of our film experience.”

According to Renaud, the movie utilized over 200 people in both France (at Illumination Mac Guff in Paris) and the U.S. Besides the Illumination team in Santa Monica, the writer and storyboard artists were based in the U.S. Everyone else on the production, from layout up through animation and final rendering, was located in Paris.

The Secret Life of Pets 2

The Secret Life of Pets 2

Weaving It All Together

One of the most challenging aspects of the production was the moment when the creative team had to tie all three storylines back together. “Through the course of the film, Max, Gidget and Snowball are operating somewhat independently within their own narrative,” notes Renaud. “But, to make the movie work and create a satisfying ending, we had to figure out how to connect these disparate elements and provide a catalyst into the third act action.”

Renaud admits, “Sometimes you can get trapped into worrying about logic, but you usually find that you need less than you think. It’s the emotion and character stakes that carry the day.”

One of the director’s favorite sequences of the movie arrives in the end. “I don’t want to give anything away, but it truly turned out the way I had originally hoped,” he says. “The whole movie is really a metaphor for modern parenting, and I think this scene captured the genuine emotion of what parents go through as they recognize they can’t control or safeguard every aspect of their children’s lives.”

The Secret Life of Pets 2

The Secret Life of Pets 2

Renaud points out that the first Pets movie clearly struck a chord with audiences around the world purely because it was about pets. “We really tried to capture animals as they are, in both attitude and animated performance,” he explains. “I also feel that the question about what your pets do when you’re not home was so simple and compelling, people couldn’t resist watching a movie that attempted to answer that conundrum.”

When asked to compare the sequel to the original, Renaud says the second movie may have a stronger, more nuanced and layered story. “In the first film, we found that we had to tell a very simple story just to have the space to introduce our huge cast of pets,” he says. “In this one, we can forgo the introductions and get right into storytelling.

The Secret Life of Pets 2

The Secret Life of Pets 2

In Pursuit of Perfect Fur

In the five years since the first movie came out, CG animation technology has obviously improved. However, according to Renaud, no new tools were used to produce the animation. It’s just that the old tools kept improving. “For instance, we now review our animation hardware renders with fur on the characters. This is important because a character like Duke can have his whole facial expression wiped out by all of that shaggy fur!”

Since The Secret Life of Pets 2 comes out in the middle of a very jam-packed family movie season — sandwiched between UglyDolls, Pokémon: Detective Pikachu, Toy Story 4, The Lion King and The Angry Birds Movie 2 — we asked Renaud how he feels about the growing competition. “In reality, every movie made right now seems to be an ‘all audience four quadrant’ family film,” he replies. “This used to be where animated films were unique. However, those days have passed since most parents are happy bringing their young children to the latest superhero movie, science-fiction fantasy or animated reboot. In my view, we have to strive to retain our distinction through unique visual stylization and strong comedy that can only be achieved through broader character animation.”

Snowball vs. Monkey pic

As Healy sees it, the Pets franchise has lasting appeal and will hopefully continue to capture the hearts of moviegoers. “We think this franchise is unique and special because it connects us to our beloved pets in an intriguing and humorous way,” she says. “People in every part of the world adore their pets and wonder what really goes on in their pets’ minds. When they see The Secret Life of Pets films they get a magical, fun insight. The Secret Life of Pets is far more thrilling and busy than we ever could have imagined!”

Renaud says he also hopes moviegoers will relish reconnecting with these lovable, hilarious characters. “I hope the audience will leave the movie theater glad that they had another chance to spend some time with these characters,” says the director. “I know we had a great time working with these guys again, and I’m hoping that joy and fun comes across in this movie!”

Universal/Illumination’s The Secret Life of Pets 2 begins its U.S. theatrical run on June 10.

Everything’s Illumination

Chris Meledandri’s Illumination Entertainment empire is showing no signs of slowing down.

After unleashing The Secret Life of Pets 2 in theaters this month, the studio will release Minions 2 in July 2020 and Sing 2 in December 2020. Here’s a look at the studio’s amazing box office record to date:

Rank Title Domestic Gross Release Date
1. The Secret Life of Pets $ 368,384,330 7/8/16
2. Despicable Me 2 $ 368,061,265 7/3/13
3. Minions $ 336,045,770 7/10/15
4. Seuss’ The Grinch $ 270,620,950 11/9/18
5. Sing $ 270,395,425 12/21/16
6. Despicable Me 3 $ 264,624,300 6/30/17
7. Despicable Me $ 251,513,985 7/9/10
8. Seuss’ The Lorax $ 214,030,500 3/2/12
9. Hop $ 108,085,305 4/1/11

Source: boxofficemojo.com

Janet Healy

Janet Healy

Chris Renaud

Chris Renaud

Animation Magazine

‘UglyDolls’ Mix It Up with Perfect Playthings in New Trailer

Unconventionality rules in UglyDolls, STXfilms’ new animated musical adventure starring the acting and singing voices of Kelly Clarkson, Nick Jonas, Janelle Monáe, Blake Shelton and Pitbull.

In the adorably different town of Uglyville, weird is celebrated, strange is special and beauty is embraced as more than simply meets the eye. Here, the free-spirited Moxy (Clarkson) and her UglyDoll friends live every day in a whirlwind of bliss, letting their freak flags fly in a celebration of life and its endless possibilities. In this all-new story, the UglyDolls will go on a journey beyond the comfortable borders of Uglyville. There, they will confront what it means to be different, struggle with their desire to be loved, and ultimately discover that you don’t have to be perfect to be amazing because who you truly are is what matters most.

The film is inspired by the unique and beloved global plush toy phenomenon launched in 2001 and features all new original songs from the cast of popstars.

Also starring in the voice cast are Wanda Sykes, Gabriel Iglesias, Wang Leehom, Emma Roberts, Bebe Rexha, Charli XCX and Lizzo.

An STXfilms and Alibaba Pictures presentation, UglyDolls is directed by Kelly Asbury and will be released in theaters on May 3, 2019. The original motion picture soundtrack will be released by Atlantic Records.

Animation Magazine

Cannabis and the Body: Practice Makes Perfect When Finding the Ideal Marijuana Dose

By, Shelley Levitt Q: Is it true that the less medical marijuana cannabis you consume, the greater the benefit? You may have heard of “microdosing,” the practice of taking tiny hits of marijuana to get the maximum therapeutic benefit without the high that, let’s face it, can get in the way of workaday activities. There’s […]
Marijuana

Shootout win is perfect gift for Russian newlyweds

PUSHKIN, Russia (Reuters) – Russian couple Yekaterina and Dmitry Vasilyev enjoyed a perfect wedding celebration on Sunday as they briefly halted their nuptials to watch the hosts defy the odds by beating Spain in a penalty shootout to reach the World Cup quarter-finals.

Participants of a wedding ceremony celebrate the victory of Russia over Spain in their soccer World Cup Round of 16 match, in the town of Pushkin outside St Petersburg, Russia July 1, 2018. REUTERS/Maria Vasilyeva

The couple, along with their family and friends, were huddled around a mobile phone as they witnessed Russia goalkeeper Igor Akinfeev save shots from Koke and Iago Aspas to send unfancied Russia through to the last eight.

Their wedding ceremony — in a town outside St Petersburg — started at 1400 GMT, the same time as the Spain v Russia match kicked off, and the guests kept track of the score in a Round of 16 tie that ended 1-1 after extra-time.

The penalty shootout commenced as they sat down for the reception and the soccer took center stage with the blessing of the bride and groom.

The room erupted into wild celebrations as Akinfeev’s save secured a 4-3 shootout win for Russia to confirm the host’s spot in the last eight.

“It’s the best gift ever,” the groom, who is a soccer fan and amateur player himself, said.

Before the start of the tournament, Russia were considered likely to exit at the group stage but have ridden a wave of home support to advance to last-eight a meeting against Croatia in Sochi on July 6.

Editing by John O’Brien

Reuters: Oddly Enough

Shootout win is perfect gift for Russian newlyweds

PUSHKIN, Russia (Reuters) – Russian couple Yekaterina and Dmitry Vasilyev enjoyed a perfect wedding celebration on Sunday as they briefly halted their nuptials to watch the hosts defy the odds by beating Spain in a penalty shootout to reach the World Cup quarter-finals.

Participants of a wedding ceremony celebrate the victory of Russia over Spain in their soccer World Cup Round of 16 match, in the town of Pushkin outside St Petersburg, Russia July 1, 2018. REUTERS/Maria Vasilyeva

The couple, along with their family and friends, were huddled around a mobile phone as they witnessed Russia goalkeeper Igor Akinfeev save shots from Koke and Iago Aspas to send unfancied Russia through to the last eight.

Their wedding ceremony — in a town outside St Petersburg — started at 1400 GMT, the same time as the Spain v Russia match kicked off, and the guests kept track of the score in a Round of 16 tie that ended 1-1 after extra-time.

The penalty shootout commenced as they sat down for the reception and the soccer took center stage with the blessing of the bride and groom.

The room erupted into wild celebrations as Akinfeev’s save secured a 4-3 shootout win for Russia to confirm the host’s spot in the last eight.

“It’s the best gift ever,” the groom, who is a soccer fan and amateur player himself, said.

Before the start of the tournament, Russia were considered likely to exit at the group stage but have ridden a wave of home support to advance to last-eight a meeting against Croatia in Sochi on July 6.

Editing by John O’Brien

Reuters: Oddly Enough

How to Get That Perfect Shave

SUNDAY, Feb. 25, 2018 — Guys, a perfect shave may be more about preparation and technique than the actual razor.

“The perfect shave is a combination of art and trial and error,” said Dr. Robert Anolik, a clinical assistant professor of dermatology at the New York University School of Medicine.

“That said, there are steps you can take to help ensure a clean and comfortable shave,” he said in an American Academy of Dermatology news release.

First, wet your skin and hair to soften it. An ideal time to shave is immediately after a shower. Your skin will be warm, moist and free of excess oil and dead skin cells that can clog up your razor blade, Anolik said.

Use a foaming shaving cream. If your skin is very dry or easily irritated, choose one that’s meant for sensitive skin.

“Using a circular motion, apply a small amount of the cream to your face using your fingers or a shave brush. A shave brush can help by lifting the hairs and more evenly coating them with the shaving cream,” Anolik said.

Let the cream sit for two to three minutes, and then start shaving in the direction that your facial hair grows. This will help prevent razor bumps and burns. Rinse after each swipe of the razor.

Change your razor blade or throw away disposable razors after five to seven shaves, Anolik advised.

After you finish shaving, rinse your face with cold water to ease inflammation. Then apply a moisturizer with an SPF of 30 or higher.

Between shaves, make sure your razor dries completely to prevent growth of bacteria. Store it in a dry location.

“If you’re using the right technique but still experiencing razor bumps, razor burns or ingrown hairs, consider switching razors,” said Anolik.

“For some men, multi-blade razors can work too well, or shave too closely to their skin. Try using a single- or two-blade razor instead and do not stretch your skin taut while shaving,” he suggested.

More information

The American Academy of Dermatology has more on men’s skin care.

© 2018 HealthDay. All rights reserved.

Posted: February 2018

Drugs.com – Daily MedNews

Find the Perfect Vaporizer in 2018

If you’ve shopped for a vaporizer recently, you know that there are tons to pick from. Picking one can be overwhelming. There are new ones coming out every day and it’s hard to decipher which one is right for you.

You have probably heard of Volcano vaporizer brand but what about all of these other ones: Arizer, Atmos, Davinci, Easy Vape, Firefly, Goboof, G Pen, Haze, Herbalizer, Iolite, Vapium, Vapir? That list doesn’t even crack the surface of all of the brands available now in 2018.

Well fortunately for you, we found a flowchart which helps you find the perfect vaporizer. It was designed to help you navigate the vaporizer market.

Start at the top and work your way down to find your match.

If you’re new to vaporizers there are a few things to keep in mind:

  1. All of these vaporizers can handle herb but not all can handle concentrates. If concentrates are important to you, make sure to find one that can do them.
  2. Desktop vaporizers usually give you the option between using bags that fill up with vapor and direct draw with a whip. Some can handle glass attachments that allow you to vape through a water bubbler.
  3. Not all portable vaporizers are truly portable. Some can be thrown in your pocket and are good for adventures, while others aren’t really mobile and are meant to stay at home.
  4. The price of vaporizers can vary. Some start under $ 100 and they can go all the way up to $ 1,000. If you go too cheap you run the risk of buying a cheaply made device. But you don’t need to spend a fortune to start vaporizing. Some of the vaporizers around the $ 100-200 range are a great starting point.

Just keep that all in mind when you’re shopping around for your new vaporizer. Now get started with the flowchart and find the best one for you!

The 420 Times

Clip: LAIKA Whips Up a ‘Perfect Storm’ for Kubo

LAIKA-150

The news broke Friday that the Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences had selected the 10 films to advance in the Best Visual Effects Oscar race. While all the contenders are spectacular examples of the craft, we can’t help but be a little extra excited that one in particular made the cut: LAIKA’s Kubo and the Two Strings.

If Kubo makes it into one of the five final consideration slots, it would mark the first time in the dedicated Visual Effects Award’s history that an animated feature was nominated in the category. (Though a few hybrid pictures and more than a few creature animators have been nominated or won over the years!)

The good folks at Focus Features are rather excited, too, and have released a cool new behind-the-scenes featurette to celebrate. Check out “Perfect Storm” below to see how stop-motion ingenuity, new practical techniques and high-tech CG came together to create one of the film’s many complex VFX sequences. Read more about the craft of Kubo in Tom McLean’s story “Puppet Masters” in the Aug./Sept. 2016 issue of Animation Magazine.

Kubo and the Two Strings - "Perfect Storm" featurette

Kubo and the Two Strings – “Perfect Storm” featurette

Animation Magazine

Looking for the Perfect 420-Friendly Gift?

Foria Pleasure Spray NugTools: The Smoker’s Multitool  Homegrown Outfitters: Shiva T-Shirt Loki Touch Vaporizer Cvault: Humidity Controlled Storage Container Boveda Humidity Packs Nail Crown Dab Tools Quave Glass: Club Banger Quartz Nail Happy Daddy: Titanium “Globfather II” Dab Tool Pokeball Grinder Dope on a Rope Soap Shine: White Gold Rolling Papers Pot Leaf Cufflinks  
Marijuana

Edibles Recipe: Frozen Yogurt Bark is Perfect for a Post-Workout Snack

Hi! Keira Fae with Weedmaps here for another devilishly delicious and deceptively easy marijuana-fueled snack: Frozen Greek Yogurt Bark! So I’ve started going to the gym (ugh, right?) in the mornings (double ugh!) and I found myself struggling more and more to get motivated for my workouts. I felt drained and lifeless as I crawled out […]
Marijuana

highTunes: Perfect Weed Pairings for G4SHI, Blink-182, and Roy Woods

At the highTunes lab, we’re well aware that music and weed are enjoyable at a high level individually. We strive to achieve pairings that take two independently great things and enhance them to otherwise unheard of levels. The success of these music and marijuana marriages can be measured in smiling head-nods, as seen on the right. […]
Marijuana

highTunes: Perfect Weed Pairings for System of a Down, Danny Brown, and KAYTRANADA

System of a Down’s 2001 opus Toxicity was remarkably ahead of its time, not just musically but politically as well. The songwriting of Serj Tankian and Daron Malakian forces you to use you to use your brain, something that proves to be wildly difficult while you viciously headbang your way through the beautifully chaotic 44-minute […]
Marijuana

When It Comes to Singing, Practice Makes Perfect

SATURDAY Feb. 14, 2015, 2015 — Think you can’t sing well? Maybe the solution is to sing more often.

That’s the conclusion of Northwestern University researchers who assessed the singing skills of children in kindergarten and grade 6, as well as college-aged adults.

The investigators found that singing on key is a learned skill that can decline over time if not used, and that singing requires the same type of practice as learning an instrument.

“No one expects a beginner on violin to sound good right away, it takes practice, but everyone is supposed to be able to sing,” lead researcher Steven Demorest, a professor of music education, said in a university news release.

“When people are unsuccessful they take it very personally, but we think if you sing more, you’ll get better,” he added.

The researchers said most children show significant improvement in singing as they progress from kindergarten to late elementary school. During this time, most students receive regular music instruction.

But the adults in the study had regressed and sang at the level of the kindergarten students, which indicates a “use it or lose it” effect.

While singing on key is easier for some than others, “it’s also a skill that can be taught and developed, and much of it has to do with using the voice regularly,” Demorest said.

“Our study suggests that adults who may have performed better as children lost the ability when they stopped singing,” he added.

Demorest said teens and adults need to have more opportunities to sing that don’t have much risk to them. He noted that in the United Kingdom, people can participant in “Can’t Sing Choirs.”

“People need a place to sing and have fun without worrying about how good they are. You see it in college all the time; a class about the history of rock or jazz is packed. It’s not that people aren’t interested in music; it’s what we offer them,” he added.

The research is published in the February issue of the journal Music Perception.

More information

The American Music Therapy Association explains how music can help people.

Posted: February 2015

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