News Bytes: McFarlane in Talks for New ‘Spawn’ Toons, ‘Earthsea’ Series in Dev, YouTube Fined $170M in FTC Settlement & More

’The Lord of the Rings’ Amazon TV Series Casts Will Poulter as a Lead
The young Brit of Maze Runner fame joins previously announced Aussie actress Markella Kavenagh in the two lead roles of Beldor and Tyra. The show — from writers JD Payne and Patrick McKay and director J.A. Bayona — is set in Middle-earth before the events of The Fellowship of the Ring. Casting is underway in the U.S., U.K. and Australia.

GLAS Animation Festival 2020: Submissions Open, Kickstarter Final Stretch!
The 5th annual GLAS fest (March 19-22 in Berkeley, CA) welcomes narrative, non-narrative, undergraduate, graduate, commissioned and feature films to November 1, 2019. Award categories include the Grand Prix, New Talent, High Risk, Audience Award and Special Prizes.

The Kickstarter Campaign has reached the halfway point, with just two week to raise $ 8,500 to successfully fund the event — new reward tires are announced every day, including one-of-a-kind t-shirts, sculptures, illustrations, and animation frames, as well as indie games, GKIDS blu-rays, and official GLAS outerwear, so contribute now!

WATCH: ‘Apex Legends’ Gives Wraith a Fantastic ‘Overwatch’-Style Animated Short
In step with the character’s theme Voidwalker event for the game — which includes a special mode, challenges and cosmetics, Respawn debuted a new short reminiscent of Blizzard’s popular character origin vignettes. The animation follows Wraith hopping through dimensions to rescue a younger, parallel version of herself from nefarious experiments.

YouTube Will Pay $ 170 Million, Make Sweeping Changes to Children’s Content in FTC Settlement
The Federal Trade Commission’s investigation into YouTube’s collection of personal data from users under age 13 — sparked by complaints from advocacy organizations like Campaign for a Commercial-Free Childhood, the Center for Digital Democracy, and the Electronic Privacy Information Center — is over. In tandem with FTC’s announcement that it will fine YouTube a record $ 170 million for alleged violations, the platform revealed plans for sweeping changes to its business practices.

“Responsibility is our number one priority at YouTube, and nothing is more important than protecting kids and their privacy, We’ve been taking a hard look at areas where we can do more to address this, informed by feedback from parents, experts, and regulators, including [Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act] concerns raised by the U.S. Federal Trade Commission and the New York Attorney General that we are addressing with a settlement announced today.” — YouTube CEO Susan Wojcicki (YouTube Blog)

’Earthsea’ TV Series Based on Fantasy Books in the Works
A24 and Oscar-nominated producer Jennifer Fox (Nightcrawler) are adapting Ursula Le Guin’s acclaimed fantasy book series to television. Fox received the author’s blessing for the project before her death in January 2018. The books are set in a vast archipelago, where magic-wielding despots upset the natural order of the islands. Tales from Earthsea was adapted into an animated feature by Studio Ghibli in 2006, directed by Goro Miyazaki.

Todd McFarlane Is Developing Two Spawn Animated Series for Kids and Adults
It’s been 20 years since McFarlane’s ultraviolent anti-hero wreaked havoc in HBO’s Emmy-winning adult animated series, and new plans to toon up the franchise are in motion, according to the creator.

“We’re talking right now. I just had a couple meetings this weekend about a couple different animation looks, both something that we can get kids in at a younger age and then get them into the sort of crack cocaine version of Spawn,” McFarlane said during Fan Expo Canada. “And then do the adult one. So we’re talking about that. I think both of those come after the movie.”

Apex Legends

Apex Legends

Animation Magazine

D23: Pre-K ‘Spidey,’ ‘Moon Girl’ Toons set for Disney TV

Exciting new animated takes on a familiar web-slinger and a brilliant next gen heroine are heading to TV screens! Announced at D23 Expo in Anaheim this weekend were Marvel Animation’s first full-length preschool series Marvel’s Spidey and His Amazing Friends for Disney Junior, and Marvel’s Moon Girl and Devil Dinosaur for Disney Channel (announced by screen icons Laurence Fishburne and Kermit the Frog!).

Marvel’s Spidey and His Amazing Friends

Marvel’s Spidey and His Amazing Friends

Marvel’s Spidey and His Amazing Friends (set to debut in 2021) will take the normally solitary Peter Parker (a.k.a. Spider-Man) on a journey to discover what it takes to be a truly amazing super hero: being a super friend who works well with others! Peter and pals Miles Morales and Gwen (Ghost-Spider) will team up with heroes like Hulk, Black Panther and Ms. Marvel to defeat evil and use teamwork to save the day.

“Preschool kids already love Spidey, so they’ll be delighted to have Peter Parker thwipping across their screens in this new series,” said Cort Lane, SVP Marvel Animation & Family Entertainment. “Everyone at Marvel is thrilled to launch our first preschool series on Disney Junior, the gold standard platform for the audience. We believe parents and kids will be excited about these stories filled with themes of friendship, cooperation, solving problems and using your abilities to help others.”

Joe D’Ambrosia, SVP Original Programming and General Manager, Disney Junior, said: “We’re thrilled to be working with Marvel on this new series showcasing the exciting adventures of Spidey and his friends as they model the importance of teamwork and helping others in their community. This is the perfect series to introduce preschoolers to the super hero powers of friendship and working together to help others in need.”

Marvel’s Spidey and His Amazing Friends is executive produced by Alan Fine (The Avengers), Joe Quesada (Avengers Assemble), Dan Buckley (Marvel’s Spider-Man), Cort Lane (Ultimate Spider-Man) and Eric Radomski (Avengers Assemble); co-executive produced by Marsha Griffin (Marvel’s Spider-Man) and supervising producer Harrison Wilcox (Marvel’s Guardians of the Galaxy). Alfred Gimeno (Marvel Rising) serves as supervising animation producer, and Ashley Mendoza (PJ Masks) as story editor.

Marvel’s Moon Girl and Devil Dinosaur

Marvel’s Moon Girl and Devil Dinosaur

Marvel’s Moon Girl and Devil Dinosaur from Disney Television Animation is based on the hit Marvel comic books about 13-year-old super-genius Lunella Lafayette and her 10-ton T-Rex, Devil Dinosaur. After Lunella accidentally brings Devil Dinosaur into present-day New York City via a time vortex, the duo works together to protect the city’s Lower East Side from danger.

The pick-up was announced by Laurence Fishburne — who is executive producing — during Disney Television Animation’s panel at Disney’s D23 Expo:

“As an avid comic-book fan, I am thrilled to be involved with Marvel’s Moon Girl and Devil Dinosaur. Disney Channel is the perfect platform to explore this pint-sized female African-American superhero and I can’t wait for their audience to enjoy the lighthearted adventures of Lunella and Devil Dinosaur.”

“Lunella doesn’t know she is the smartest person on the planet, but audiences will soon know how very cool Moon Girl is,” said Marvel’s Cort Lane. “Her adventures with giant buddy, Devil Dinosaur, are filled with so much wonder and joy, and this historic partnership with Disney Television Animation and Cinema Gypsy Productions proved the right formula to bring them to television.”

Marvel’s Moon Girl and Devil Dinosaur is executive produced by Fishburne and Helen Sugland’s Cinema Gypsy Productions (black-ish), Marvel Animation & Family Entertainment, and Emmy Award winner Steve Loter (Kim Possible). Jeff Howard (Planes) and Kate Kondell (The Pirate Fairy) serve as co-producers and story editors.

“Disney TV Animation is thrilled to collaborate with renowned producers Laurence, Helen and Steve and the talented Marvel Animation team to bring this modern-day roller-skating, gadget-wielding tween superhero and her larger-than-life partner to Disney Channel,” commented Meredith Roberts, SVP Animation Strategy, Disney Channels.

Animation Magazine

News Bytes: ‘Space Jam 2’ Stars Countdown, ‘Hello Kitty’ Movie Gets Writer, Popeye Toons Up Dinnerly Meal Kits & More

Asia Pacific Screen Awards: Youth, Animation, Documentary Selection Panels Announced
The Animation jury will be chaired by Deborah Szapiro (lecturer in animation, University of Technology Sydney, Australia) and include Avid Liongoren (Rocketsheep studio, Philippines) and Ann Marie Fleming (director, Window Horses, Canada). Last year’s Best Animated Feature Film prize went to director Leo Gabriadze and producer Timur Bekmambetov for animated documentary Rezo.

CALL FOR ENTRIES: ANIMARKT Pitching 2019
Central and Eastern Europe’s premiere stop-motion forum will return to Lodz from October 8-12, and is seeking short film and TV special projects under 30 minutes for its pitch competition. All submissions must utilize puppet animation for at least 80% of the runtime, and the event particularly spotlights projects with artists from CEE attached. Apply online by the deadline: August 4, 2019.

WATCH: VFX Legion Breakdown Real for ‘MA’
The Los Angeles and British Columbia-based studio was called up to create a range of photoreal visual effects for Blumhouse Productions’ psychological horror film — from tortured flesh to a raging inferno. Warning, contains spoilers!

Dinnerly Celebrates Popeye’s 90th Birthday with Signature Meal Kits
Timed to National Fresh Spinach Day, the canned-greens-loving sailor man will feature in three Dinnerly x Popeye taste creations across the U.S. the week of July 15: “Strong to the finish, cause I eats me spinach … ricotta dumplings,” “J. Wellington Wimpy creamed spinach burger & oven fries” and “Olive Oyl fried chicken with Popeye’s Spinach Salad.”

“Next to Olive Oyl and Swee’Pea, there’s nothing Popeye loves more than his spinach!” said C.J. Kettler, President, King Features. “We are thrilled to collaborate with Dinnerly to develop these delicious spinach-fueled, strong to the finish recipes in celebration of National Fresh Spinach Day and Popeye’s 90th birthday.”

Lindsey Beer to Write ‘Hello Kitty’ Movie for New Line
Sanrio’s first big Hollywood picture based on the brand will be penned by Lindsey Beer, whose credits include Masters of the Universe, The Kingkiller Chronicles and Transformers: The Last Knight as well as Netflix’s upcoming Mark Millar adaptation The Magic Order (as showrunner, writer and exec producer).

’Space Jam 2’ Begins Production
Star LeBron James shared an excited Tweet about the start of production on the live-action/animation hybrid sequel. The flick recently (finally) confirmed a team of NBA and WNBA co-stars including Anthony Davis, Damian Lillard, Chris Paul, Klay Thompson, Diana Taurasi and Nneka & Chiney Ogwumike, as well as Star Trek: Discovery actress Sonequa Martin-Green. Space Jam 2 is currently set for release on July 16, 2021.

Animation Magazine

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

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

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

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

Animation by Ivan Dixon and Greg Sharp (Truba Animation)

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

Animation by Christy Karacas and Simon Wilches (Titmouse)

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

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

Animation Magazine

Earth Day 2019 Toons Up with ‘Cyberchase,’ ‘Peg + Cat’ & ‘Dora’

With Earth Day 2019 coming up on April 22 — and Earth Month running, well, all month! — a few familiar animated faces are celebrating and fighting to preserve our unique planet.

On PBS KIDS, viewers will be treated to a new primetime special: Cyberchase Space Waste Odyssey, premiering Friday, April 19 at 7 p.m. on the 24/7 channel. In the new special, Hacker (voiced by Christopher Lloyd) plots to takeover Cyberspace by positions giant patches of trash, unknowingly created by the citizens of Cyberspace, to converge on Motherboard’s Control Central. It’s up to the CyberSquad and their pal Digit (voiced by Gilbert Gottfried) to use their problem-solving skills and reports from citizen scientists to get to the bottom of the trash trouble before it’s too late.

In addition to the special, the Space Waste Odyssey video game will launch on the same day on the Cyberchase website and free on the PBS KIDS Games app. While traveling across cybersites and navigating through junk-storms to collect trash, players will learn how to dispose of waste by sorting it into containers for reuse, recycling, compost and landfill.

Another PBS KIDS series, Peg + Cat, has just been nominated for an Environmental Media Award in the Children’s Television category for its episode “The Compost Problem”. The animated adventure sees spirited Peg and her loyal sidekick Cat figure out the right mix of different types of compost to turn garbage into a garden. The show is co-created and exec produced by Jennifer Oxley (Little Bill, The Wonder Pets!) and Billy Aronson (Rent, Postcards from Buster) of 100 Chickens Prods. and produced by Fred Rogers Productions. Kevin Morrison of FRP and Vince Commisso of production partner 9 Story Media Group are also exec producers.

The EMAs honor film and TV productions that increase public awareness of environmental issues and inspire personal action. Also nominated in the Children’s Television category are Mission Force One “Sea Change”(Disney Junior) and Nickelodeon live-action series Cousins for Life “Hot Dog Day Afternoon”. Wes Anderson’s Isle of Dogs (Fox Searchlight) is nominated with Aquaman (Warner Bros. ) in the Feature Film category.

And marking Earth Day on the playtime front, hit Nickelodeon International kids’ geography app Dora’s Worldwide Adventure is releasing an update on April 15 featuring eco-friendly tools like recycling bins and wind turbines. As the game was originally created to stoke kids’ curiosity, the update will include a new Earth Day button to educate kids about the holiday, in addition to interactive blooming flowers and watering cans available through July. Dora’s Worldwide Adventure is available in 100+ countries around the world in 14 languages, and features nine different countries with over 100 landmarks and items to explore.

Space Waste Odyssey

Space Waste Odyssey

Space Waste Odyssey

Space Waste Odyssey

Space Waste Odyssey

Space Waste Odyssey

Space Waste Odyssey

Space Waste Odyssey

Earth Day 2019

Earth Day 2019

Earth Day 2019

Earth Day 2019

Earth Day 2019

Earth Day 2019

Animation Magazine

Disney Developing New 2D Toons Based on Fox Classics

Disney has announced that it is developing a new string of hand-painted 2D feature adaptations based on some of the Oscar-winning Fox titles it recently acquired as part of the acquisition of the studio. Among the much-anticipated 2D animated movies in development at the Mouse House are beloved classics such as All About Eve, Gentleman’s Agreement, An Affair to Remember, The Day the Earth Stood Still, The Grapes of Wrath, The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie, Razor’s Edge and Hush, Hush, Sweet Charlotte.

“We wanted to offer our audience a complete new experience at the movies,” says Apple Fatwa Jr., the newly promoted VP of DisFox-Classics-Toons-Plus division at the studio. “We think that this new strategy allows us to go way, way, way outside the box and deliver an unexpected shift of paradigm beyond our pleasure-box ecosystem.”

According to the newly hired development VP, Ezekiel Vanderstamp Perchance, audiences can expect new family-friendly plot changes to the original classics, for example All About Eve: Children of the Milky Way is set in a multi-ethnic Los Angeles fifth-grade class and comes with deeply effective messages about self-acceptance and welcoming other alien life forms in the galaxy.

“We loved our writers’ new take on The Grapes of Wrath: Meerkats United for example, which really addresses all the issues we are dealing with in 2019, such as global warming, the Balkanization of Europe, and noxious brew of nationalism and authoritarianism all over the world, as seen through the eyes of a family of meerkats trying to get by in the Kalahari desert.”

The studio hopes this new strategy will prepare it to really address Netflix’s 2019 strategy of delivering 5,000 new animated movies and series each week through 2023 or the end of civilization, whichever happens first.

We hope you have a wonderful April Fool’s Day.

Animation Magazine

Exclusive: Bill Plympton Toons Up Tim Grimm’s “Gonna Be Great” MV

Indie animation maestro Bill Plympton has turned his pencil power to a new music video for Tim Grimm’s haunting political dirge “Gonna Be Great,” off the folk artist’s 2017 album A Stranger in This Time. The tune was written by Grimm and his son Jackson during Donald Trump’s 2016 U.S. Presidential campaign.

“Jackson had the [music] verse progression, and it was darn catchy. I walked back to the cabin with that playing in my head and the state of the country weighing on my shoulders,” said Tim Grimm. “I worked on it a while and added a chorus. Got a fair chunk written in one sitting and walked around for a few days, with notes, and finessing lines. Both Leonard Cohen and Bob Dylan’s spirits rattled around in my brain somewhere…”

Following the lyric narrative, two time Oscar-nominated animator Plympton (Your Face, Guard Dog) created a visual story which follows “a businessman in a business suit” driving cross country, leaving clouds of dust and piles of destruction in his wake. He is accompanied by a gang of mafioso-styled lizard men, inspired by old flicks from the Warner Bros. vaults.

“What I loved about the song ‘Gonna Be Great’ was the texture of Tim’s voice, matched with the deep poetic lyrics that gave the song a mysterious and haunting feeling. I tried to match that emotion with dark film noir visuals that were like an old Warner Brothers gangster movie,” said Plympton.

This isn’t the first time Plympton has aimed his creative energies at the PoTUS. The outspoken animator attracted both praise and criticism for his New York Times webseries Trump Bites last year.

Tim Grimm is a native of the U.S. midwest who has pend years traveling the world as a musician, singer and actor in several national TV series, major motion pictures and on stage. He has released 10 albums to-date; his latest, A Stranger in This Time hitting No. 1 on Folk Radio with “Gonna Be Great.”

Bill Plympton is Portland, OR-born, New York City-based independent animator who has created award-winning shorts and feature films such as Your Face, How to Kiss, 25 Ways to Quit Smoking, The Tune, I Married a Strange Person, Hair High, Mutant Aliens, Guard Dog, Idiots and Angels, The Cow Who Wanted to Be a Hamburger and Cheatin’. His most recent projects are Revengeance, written by Jim Lujan, and his mockumentary Hitler’s Folly.

Learn more at www.timgrimm.com and www.plymptoon.com.


Animation Magazine

News Bytes: Georgia Cano Opens Up About Lawsuit, Machinima Shuts Down, Tom DeLonge Toons Up His Kids’ Book & More

Meet a Guy Who Taught Himself to Animate His Own Sci-Fi Web Series
Denver Jackson, who won last year’s TAC Pitch This! competition with the Telus Storyhive team, has taken the feature concept and hand-crafted a nine-episode webseries titled Esluna: The First Monolith — incredibly, in just nine months.

’Baby Shark’ Videos Have Amassed 5 Billion Views, Becoming No. 1 Education Trend in YouTube History
You’ll never escape. Doo-doo-doo-doo-doo-doo.

Toy Sales Reach $ 21.6 Billion in 2018

Tom DeLonge Released Animation for His Latest Children’s Book
The Angels & Airwaves frontman also narrates the 5-minute video inspired by Who Here Knows Who Took My Clothes, animated by Zach Passero based on the book illustrations by Ryan Jones.

“Children’s books are fun because they’re similar to songwriting — they’re short pieces of poetry that rhyme. I thought it would be funny to write a children’s book about a man running around looking for his clothing. I actually started writing this one long before I published my first children’s book, ‘The Lonely Astronaut,’ but I would up losing it,” DeLonge said in a statement.

Machinima Is Shutting Down, with 81 Staffers Laid Off
The multi-channel gamer network, acquired by Warner Bros. in 2016, was folded into WarnerMedia’s Otter Media at the beginning of the year. As announced in the fall, Korean cinema VOD service DramaFever and SuperDeluxe are also for the chop.

Op-Ed: Why I Filed the Wage-Theft Lawsuit Against Major Animation Studios
Georgia Cano, one of the three lead plaintiffs in the Animation Workers Antitrust Litigation class-action suit against Hollywood’s biggest toon shops, publicly addresses her involvement for the first time in this piece for CartoonBrew.

Animation Magazine

News Bytes: International Teasers, Toons Writers’ Dilemma, Pixar in Prague & More

VOID Festival Spotlights Iranian Animation
The Copenhagen animation fest (January 24-Feb. 2) will screen a program of “New Iranian Shorts” as well as playing Ashkan Rahgozar’s epic feature film The Last Fiction in competition.

CALL FOR ENTRIES: ANIMAKOM Fest
The Bilbao Int’l Animation Community Festival is accepting submissions of shorts and students films for consideration in a number of awards categories. The third edition of the festival will be held in the northern Spanish city from April 2-8. Deadline: January 31, 2019.

Prague to Celebrate 30 Years of Pixar Animation
Opening February 15 at Krizik’s Pavillions at the Holešovice Exhibition Grounds, Pixar – 30 Years of Animation is traveling exhibition offering visitors a peek under the hood of the renowned studio’s creative methods via original drawings and a multimedia experience.

Animation Contracts and the BeastForbes’ Adam Gaines explores the sketchy realm of animation writing and storyboarding, especially in the midst of Disney’s live-action reboot avalanche. (See: Jorgen Klubien v. Lion King.)

WATCH: English-Dub Trailer for ‘White Snake’
The Chinese folklore-inspired CG adventure from Light Chaser Animation (in a first co-production with Warner Bros.), directed by Amp Wong and Zhao Ji, launched in China Dec. 21. All Rights Ent. is the international rights representative for the film. H/T to Cartoon Brew!

WATCH: ‘Goopi Gwaiyaa Bagha Bajaiyaa’ Official Trailer
Billed as “India’s first children’s movie for adults,” this new project from CFSI and Karadi Tales (animation by Paperboat Animation Studios) follows two inept musicians whose passion for creating an unbearable racket finds them shunned by their fellow humans and embraced by nefarious supernatural forces! The film has already won honors from AASIFA India, APSA Brisbane, Orbit Live Industry Awards and WIFTS Los Angeles. H/T to Animation Xpress!

Pixar animation

Pixar animation

The Lion King

The Lion King

Animation Magazine

Making Cool Sounds for Toons

Sean Karp

We recently had the chance to catch up with Sean W. Karp, the sound-mixer and editor at children’s content studio Sinking Ship Productions. Over the past three years, Sean has been nominated for ten daytime Emmy Awards for his roles as sound editor and sound mixer, including four this year for his work on the series Annedroids, Dino Dana and Odd Squad. Here is what Sean shared with us about his interesting career:

Maybe we can start by you telling us how you get into the sound business for animation?

Sean: I first got into doing sound work for animation working on some dialogue for a number of 2D animated shows for a company called Super Sonics around 2001. I was just getting started doing post production sound for TV. The bulk of my experience at that point was with music. I went to one of the owners, Scott, to ask for some advice on how to approach a TV documentary I had attained to do an edit and mix on. He sat down with me for a few hours, went through my mix and he gave me some direction as to what I was doing right and what I should change. He then said he was looking for some freelancers to help with dialogue clean up and editorial on an animated series he was doing called Girl Stuff Boy Stuff. The job was to go through the dialogue edit of the studio VO records and clean up all the pops, ticks, and unwanted sounds to get them ready for the mix. It gave me a great education and experience in not only how to approach dialogue for animation, but dialogue in general.

What was your first job?

My first job working in the TV and Film sound industry was with a composer named Jack Lenz. When I connected with him, he had been around already for almost 30 years, starting in the mid 70s. I had just completed a year of schooling at the Harris Institute for the Arts in Audio Production and Engineering. The initial job was answering phones and acting as a Gofer. Jack’s operation at that time was made up of himself and about 4 other composers who all worked on MIDI systems producing music for the various shows Jack would bring in.

Within my first year there, outside of taking messages and picking up coffee and lunches, I would look to do anything I could in sound production/engineering for the company. I would do sound editing on already produced music, or small recording projects after hours that no one else wanted. Jack began to notice and was impressed with my work. He eventually approached me and said he had been thinking about putting together an in-house full service recording studio, to record and mix his own music, rather than doing live records in outside studios. He asked if I would design, purchase, and run this new endeavor. It was a huge opportunity; I was bit nervous, but I said yes and took it on for him. From there on, I was his main in-house sound engineer. At first, I was just recording and mixing music, but I soon expanded into editing and mixing full shows. Jack gave me my big first break, I will always be thankful to him for that.

What do you love about working for animated projects?

The best thing about working on animated projects is really that there are no boundaries to what one can create. Since we are not as bound to the reality of “our world” then the only thing holding us back is our imaginations. Anything the producers, writers, and directors can dream up is possible, and that of course translates to our job in bringing these worlds and stories to life through sound. What I love most about my work is the challenge of coming up with new ideas and approaches. trying to dream up something original, or at least something that expands in a new way or direction from what has been done in the past. With animated and CGI productions this opens up my world to infinite possibilities and challenges.

A great example would be the series Annedroides, which we did at Sinking Ship, about Anne, a young girl who lives in a junk yard, along with her friends that create amazing androids of different sizes and styles. They must keep them hidden from the rest of the world and go on adventures with them. There is the humanoid android Pal, a huge Crane-like android called Hand, and a small R2D2 type guy called Eyes. Each android has its own look, personality, and way of communicating. This provided me with the huge challenge of creating a sound palette for each character that fits with its look, and gave each one its own personality through sound design. I worked for months with JJ Johnson, the producer/creator of the show, and Matt Bishop, the head of animation at Sinking Ship. From scratch, I built up a sound personality for each character, including body movement sounds, alerts, and even different forms of speech.

Only in a world that is opened up with computer animations techniques, can I get to expand my craft and experiment in this stimulating and creative way! There are no limitations!

How is doing sound and sound editing for animation different than live-action projects?

For projects in a 2D animation or cartoon style, it’s a bit easier, in some ways, because you have full control, from the beginning, over your sound environment. All the dialogue is recorded in a studio, so it’s clean and doesn’t tend to have any background noise to deal with. With the sound editing, all your backgrounds and sound designs are built up and decided upon from the beginning. Ultimately there are no inherit problems to work out first before moving to the creative aspect of the job. The challenge with this is, of course, that you have to create everything from scratch. You aren’t given anything to build on top of, or give you some direction as with live dramatic production.

With CGI applied to live action productions, like Dino Dana and many of the other shows we do at Sinking Ship, there are a number of challenges to overcome. Again, we have the issues of unwanted background noise in the live production aspects of the dialogue that we need to clean up and smooth out. Also, we have to find ways to blend in our sound design for the CGI characters with the live action aspects of the show. We create the sense that everything is really happening in that real space, and not superimposed on top of the real shots that were filmed. Much like the animation itself, it takes a lot of effort to make everything blend together, and sell it as one solid real moment in the story telling. The animation needs the sound design and mix to ground it in reality, when this is exicuted well, a whole new world is brought to life.

What would you say is the hardest part of your job?

In a way, the toughest aspect of my work with animation is also what can make it so exciting. As mentioned with CGI and live action, trying to find that right blend of sound design and mix approaches that grounds the animation aspects of the productions with the live action can take a lot of time, with trial and error before you find just the right blend and fit. But when you do it’s a great feeling. You really get a sense that you have birthed a new world or experience that wasn’t there before. It’s a team effort between the animators and the sound designers to create something solid and real.

Another tough challenge has been developing speech aspects for many of the animated characters in our shows. For example, with Dino Dana, JJ Johnson likes each dino to have it’s own way of communicating with Dana and the audience through its grunts and roars. This also takes a good amount of time to work out. To find the right sounds that are new and fresh, but also familiar enough to evoke the emotion, or meaning we want to get across. Even though we have to keep this kind of dialogue fairly simple and straight forward since the dinos can’t use words. With enough time, effort, and experimentation, we are able to get across some fairly complex ideas and motivations from the dinosaurs that both adults and children can clearly understand.

What are some of your favorite movies and/or TV shows with amazing sound work?

Best sound ever is a tough one. So much of what we do is subjective so I think it can be dangerous to make a statement like that. I would have to say that, for overall sound design that’s really pivotal to a the film, it would have to be Star Wars. I know it’s an obvious choice, but it really did open up the world of sound design in really amazing ways that, to this day, we are still seeing play out. It was such an influential film.

For animation, I have to go way, way back to Fantasia. I remember my dad taking me to see that in the theatre when I was a kid in the 70?s. A lot of it was a bit slow, but there were moments like The Sorcerers Apprentice and the huge demon in the end that really stuck with me. It was such a pivotal moment in film making, showing the power of music and animation. When I saw it years later, I realized that, for its time, it really was a sort of experiment in how sound, music and animation could marry together. I think that experiment ended up having a huge influence on film making over all.


What tools do you use in your day to day work?

Many of the tools we use today are really just digital versions of gear and techniques that have been around for decades. Even though everything happens in computers now, a large portion of those digital tools are simply algorithms of equipment– like EQ’s and compressors, etc.– basically, audio gear from analog days that were used to shape and control raw sound. There is no doubt that the digital revolution has opened up what can be done with sound in amazing ways that were impossible 20 odd years ago. Even just the nonlinear approach to what we can do now with sound makes it so flexible and open to new ideas.

Like most pro sound studios, I work on Pro Tools. Most of my plug-ins are WAVES compressors and EQ’s. I also like Audio RX for sound restoration and clean up.

Really though, I don’t think it matters what software package you use. It’s really about your approach and how you look at the work you’re doing. Software is just a tool like any other. What really matters, is the person holding the tool and what they choose to do with it. Is a hammer just for hammering nails, or can it be used to help chisel out a statue? I remember early in my career doing a music project. Another engineer who was known as big music producer with a lot of success was using a software package called Cakewalk. It was known as a beginner’s kind of software for music recording and mixing, but that’s what he had learnt on, and that’s what he stuck with, and it worked for him. That experience taught me a lot about not focusing on software or gear but on the person, and the imagination they put into that gear.

The most important thing for getting a great result in sound work isn’t the gear or software you use, but the people you work with. At Sinking Ship, I have built up a fantastic team of young skilled professions, who all bring their own unique ideas into building the soundscapes to these amazing shows. My core team consists of Noah Siegel, Will Preventis, Blag Ahilov, and Charles Duchesne. I try to create an environment where everyone can bounce ideas off one another, and build off of each other’s skills.

What kind of advice would you give folks who want to work in sound for animation?

I would give the same advice I would give for anyone trying to do anything creative. Don’t hold yourself back, be open to new possibilities or ways of doing things. That doesn’t mean you reject what has been established in the past by other artists. I think you have to build on top of what was done before you. Move forward with it and try to put a bit of yourself in your creative process. There are rules to what we do, and we have to understand those rules and why they are there. But once you understand them, you can break them or create new rules.

Also, remember that we are artists and creators, and that this is fun. Have fun with what you do, enjoy it, play. It is through play that our imagination brightens up, and we come up with fresh ideas. So, when possible, try to keep that little kid inside of you around. That kid will take you in directions the adult wouldn’t think to go, and that’s where really interesting things can happen!

For more info about the studio, visit www.sinkingshipproductions.com

Sean Karp

Sean Karp

Playdate

Playdate

Dino Dana

Dino Dana

Annedroids

Annedroids

Animation Magazine

Gas Money Pictures Launches Three New Toons

Dinosaur Attack! On Kung Fu Island

Dinosaur Attack! On Kung Fu Island

Los Angeles-based indie animation shop Gas Money Pictures has launched three new animated shows— Hollywould, Mr. Wiggles Saves the World and Dinosaur Attack! On Kung Fu Island after their debut at the recent Cannes market in May.

The adult comedy series, Hollywould follows the exploits of two washed up screenwriters as they work towards their long overdue comeback. Mr. Wiggles Saves the World centers on a normal, everyday family who has a secret government operation hiding in their basement, and a family dog that saves the world from aliens. Dinosaur Attack follows Steven and Mawni on their action adventure as they are suddenly thrust into epic battles against giant holographic and robotic dinosaurs.

“Gas Money Pictures already has an established presence in live-action films and television so it was a natural evolution to take the next steps in bringing these new characters to life in the animated realm,” says James L. Bills, CCO of Gas Money Pictures, “We are looking forward to further establishing ourselves in the US market as well as expanding internationally into Europe and China.”

Gas Money Pictures was founded by film and television veterans James L. Bills and J. Horton with partner Paul C. Norman. GMPs’ Animation Studio is also planning on producing and launching more animated shows for traditional, streaming and emerging platforms. For more info, visit www.gasmoneypictures.com.

Hollywould, Dinosaur Attack! On Kung Fu Island, and Mr. Wiggles Saves the World

Hollywould, Dinosaur Attack! On Kung Fu Island, and Mr. Wiggles Saves the World

Animation Magazine

TV Sales Bytes: Toons on the Move!

Luo Bao Bei

Luo Bao Bei

  • 9 Story Distribution International licensed its new animated series Luo Bao Bei (52 x 11’) to ABC KIDS in Australia, which has picked up both English and Mandarin versions and premiered the series in celebration of Chinese New Year. The show is produced by Magic Mall Ent., created by Grace Tian and written by Dave Ingham (Shaun the Sheep), and animated by Cloth Cat Animation in Wales.
  • Anima’s preschool series Cleo & Cuquin (52 x 7’) continues its international expansion, debuting on Nick Jr. US where it airs weekdays at 2:30 p.m. The Spanish company has also secured Mattel as global master toy licensee for the brand, with a toy line coming to US shelves within a year, and has reached a global agreement with Netflix.
  • Entertainment One secured new content deals for hit preschool superhero series PJ Masks with three leading VOD platforms which will mark the property’s entry in China starting this Spring. Season one (52 x 11’) will be available on Tencent, iQiYi and Youku. eOne is also setting up a dedicated PJ Masks consumer products program for the market — the brand already boasts 600 licensees around the world.
  • Foothill Entertainment is now seeking pre-sales and co-production partners for a new CGI series rendition of Heathcliff (52 x 11’), currently in development. The classic street cat prankster character is getting an update from producer Steve Wareman (Stuart Little, Alvin and the Chipmunks) and studio Film Roman (The Simpsons).
  • Monster Entertainment is now bringing the rhythm and magic of African toon Jabu’s Jungle S3 to the world. The latest season has been snagged by Gulli Africa, with all three seasons snagged by Econet Media, Africa Channel and Africa on Demand. Further, Orange ME in Kuwait has acquired S1 and S2. And The Times Group, top broadcaster in Malawi, has made a two year commitment to the Pixcomm studio production.
  • Nat Geo Kids Latin America, National Geographic Partners’ multiplatform entertainment destination for kids 4-8, has picked up Pablo — the first ever kids’ animated series with an autistic central character. Distributed by CAKE and produced by Paper Owl Films, the series is set to launch across Latin America on the Nat Geo Kids App & TV platform in April in conjunction with World Autism Awareness Day.
  • The original 10-episode package of Tulipop animated shorts is making the leap from YouTube to linear TV thanks to a pickup from Iceland pubcaster RUV. Additionally, 10 new episodes are being co-produced for YT by WildBrain, scripted by Tobi Wilson and Brydie Lee-Kennedy. The Tulipop YT channel has reached 1 million views in just four months, and a 52 x 11’ series is in development. The brand is created by illustrator Signy Kolbeinsdottir and marketing expert Helga Arnadottir.
  • UYoung Media (China) has inked an expanded agreement with Australia’s Cheeky Little Media, which will see the former distribute all of the studio’s future content in Mainland China (on top of its existing partnership on Kazoops and Bottersnikes & Gumbles) as well as handling licensing and consumer products rights for these brands in the territory. The agreement also allows for co-development collabs on properties for China and worldwide.
  • Viacom International Media Networks has secured a slew of deals for Nick Jr. favorites. Nella the Princess Knight will ride to RTVE’s Clan TV (Spain), TV Cultura (Brazil), iQiyi (China) and Channel One (Russia, additional S1 episodes). PAW Patrol S3 was snapped up by TV Cultura, S4 by Channel One, and the series is also headed to iQiyi, Mango TV (China) and Clan. And further seasons of Shimmer and Shine will grant wishes on Channel One, CLan TV, Telewizja Polska (Poland), Canal Panda’s Dreamia (Portugal) and TV Cultura — the latter two also nabbed Rusty Rivets.
  • YouTube TV added a number of Turner Broadcasting channels to its offerings, including Cartoon Network, Adult Swim, TBS, TNT, CNN, truTV and Turner Classic Movies, as well as a bunch of sportsball stuff. The internet TV outlet also revealed an expansion to all top 100 US markets, as well as a price increase of $ 40 per month for new members effective March 13.
Luo Bao Bei

Luo Bao Bei

Animation Magazine

Daily News Bytes: ‘Home for the Holidays’ & ‘King Julien’ Clips, MEDIA Backs 3 CEE Toons, Ghibli at IFC & More

Home for the Holidays

Home for the Holidays

Three Animated Projects from the CEE Region Received Support from Creative Europe MEDIA
Among 10 total projects from seven different countries, the regional industry’s growth is evidenced by the org’s backing Of Unwanted Things and People (feature, Czech Rep.), The Twisted Tales (web/TV series, Slovenia) and Crystal Raiders (feature, Croatia).

‘The Shape of Water’ to Receive Vanguard Award at 19th Annual Palm Springs Int’l Film Festival
PSIFF will present the special honor to Guillermo del Toro and the stellar ensemble cast of his latest groundbreaking film at the Awards Gala. (Read more about The Shape of Water in the January issue of Animation Magazine, No. 276).

“Guillermo del Toro is a master storyteller, whose boundless imagination has crafted a visually dazzling fable with The Shape of Water,” said Festival Chairman Harold Matzner. “This romantic story of a woman discovering herself as she falls for someone otherworldly is driven by an astounding performance by Sally Hawkins, and features an acclaimed cast including Octavia Spencer, Richard Jenkins, Michael Shannon, Doug Jones and Michael Stulhbarg. This exemplary group of actors brings to life this magical ode to cinema. It is our honor to present the Vanguard Award to The Shape of Water.”

TIX ON SALE: The Complete Studio Ghibli at IFC
New Yorkers can catch their favorite features from the acclaimed anime studio December 1 through January 11 in this comprehensive retrospective. In addition to the iconic theatrical features from Grave of the Fireflies and Totoro to Spirited Away and Porco Rosso, the lineup also includes the recently “re-discovered” TV movie Ocean Waves and 2013 documentary The Kingdom of Dreams and Madness. Afternoon screenings in English sub, evening screenings in English dub.

CLIP: ‘All Hail King Julien’ – Mort the Mermaid
DreamWorks Animation TV released the final season of its multi-Emmy-winning original series All Hail King Julien on Netflix streaming Friday. The show is bidding fans adieu with plenty of laughs, larks and special guests including Anjelica Huston, Henry Winkler, Max Greenfield, Glen Powell, David Krumholtz, David Koechner, John Michael Higgins and more.

CLIPS: Kelly Clarkson and Ben Schwartz Get Their Song on in ‘Home for the Holidays’
Pop queen Clarkson brings the gift of song to all the Boov and humanspeople of Chicago this holiday season, while actor-comedian Schwartz (DuckTales, Parks and Recreation) shares his favorite foodstuffs with friends! Check out the festive clips from DreamWorks Animation’s Home: Adventures with Tip & Oh “Home for the Holidays” special (on Netflix now!) and be sure to order the Home for the Holidays soundtrack.

Home for the Holidays

Home for the Holidays

Home for the Holidays

Home for the Holidays

Home for the Holidays

Home for the Holidays

Animation Magazine

MIP: Talking Toons with Xilam’s Du Pontavice

Marc du Pontavice

Marc du Pontavice

We had a chance to catch up with Marc du Pontavice, president of Xilam Animation, who is attending MIPCOM with his brand new animated series Mr. Magoo. Du Pontavice, who is the mastermind behind some of the most popular French animated series of the past decade, including hits such as Oggy and the Cockroaches, The Daltons, Shuriken School, Go West: A Lucky Luke Adventure, and Zig & Sharko.

“It was a wonderful opportunity to revive this classic character for today’s audiences,” Du Pontavice says about his new Mr. Magoo show. “We were very pleased to be able to bring back the heart and humor as only Mr. Magoo can deliver, but also adding new strong characters such as Mr. Cat (his dog) and his opponent Mr. Fizz (a lunatic hamster) to make the show.”

The 78 x 7 min. 2D series offers a new take on the classic animated star of the UPA cartoons, which were first introduced in 1949, and delivers new adventures of the dynamic, kind-hearted character who wreaks havoc without his glasses.

Xilam Animation’s other new show, which is in early stages of development, is Moka, a 78 x 7 min. show which centers on a young crocodile king and his brave rhino sidekick named Cherry, who is constantly trying to save him from trouble. The concept for the series came from director and storyboard artist Andrès Fernandez (Zig & Sharko, Oggy and the Cockroaches) and artist Maxence Sani (Hubert, Zig & Sharko). “We hope to finalize some deals at the market this week. The show was a big hit at Cartoon Forum last month, and we think it will do very well with global audiences.”

It has been a very busy year for Xilam, as the Paris-based studio has six shows in production. The thriving studio has over 400 employees at the moment. Du Pontavice says French animation is having a great moment because of all the talented animators coming out of the country’s well-regarded schools. “Great schools and great talent are the reason for our success,” he notes.

Du Pontavice is also highly optimistic about the state of animation and children’s media in general. “There’s no need to convince each channel and territory to buy your show,” notes the seasoned producer. “Now you can get 200 countries at the click of a button. The emerging markets offer a great potential for children’s TV producers as they show huge growth, and with the growth of the middle class comes the need to entertain children in both linear and digital markets. Kids have this insatiable appetite to watch their favorite shows every day over and over again!”

To find out more about the studio, visit www.xilam.com.

Mr. Magoo

Mr. Magoo

Moka

Moka

Animation Magazine

MIP: Fresh Toons, New Deals Lead Up to Cannes Confab

Pat the Dog

Pat the Dog

FranceTV Distribution has a couple animated highlights among its diverse MIP slate. First up, a brand-new 3D season of Little Brown Bear, the famous preschool series from Bayard. The (52 x 7’) series will launch at MIP Junior, offering young viewers new explorations of first discoveries and important feelings, and introducing Little Brown Bear’s cousin, Big Red Bear. On the manic-comedy side, FranceTV is showcasing Rabbids Invasion Season 4. Currently in production by Ubisoft Motion Pictures, the upcoming adventures begin when Mad Rabbid inadvertently discovers a mysterious flying submarine in the junkyard, and the Rabbids set out for the paradisiacal Bretzel Island. MIPCOM Stand P-1.D50/P-1.E51.

FremantleMedia Kids & Family continues to send the world’s greatest secret agent on exciting global missions, announcing new deals for its CBBC co-pro action-comedy Danger Mouse (52 x11’). Discovery Italia has acquired both seasons, while the spunky second season also heads to Nickelodeon in Germany (coming Q1 2018) and Sky Television in New Zealand (coming December). Danger Mouse will premiere on Gulli (France) and MBC (Middle East) in early 2018, continuing the rollout started with the Netflix US/international debut. FMK and its agents Biplano, MBC and ProsiebenSat are now implementing licensing programs in key territories. MIPCOM Stand C11.

Indie French distributor Superights has secured new homes for its (78 x 7’) CG cartoon comedy Pat the Dog in Europe, and announced that Season 2 is now in preparation. The Walt Disney Company picked up free TV rights for Spain (where it premiered Sept. 18) and Germany (coming 2018, following Turner’s pay TV window), and TV3 Catalunya also snapped the show up for Super 3, airing weekdays. Produced by Superprod (at Vanilla Seed in Angouleme) and Italy’s Animoka Canal+ Family, Teletoon+ and RAI, the show has secured broadcast in 180 territories. MIPCOM Stand R7.G19. www.superights.net.

TV PinGuim, Latin America’s leading animation company, announces further sales of its science-themed preschool smash Earth to Luna! (52 x 11’) to PTS (Taiwan), Discovery Family (US), RTP (Portugal), iQiyi (VOD China) and Discovery MENA. TV PinGuim is heading into MIP with a third season that takes Luna off her grandparents’ ranch and around the world. The studio is also shopping The Charlie Show (52 x 12’), a new pre-k series currently in development which introduces funny, chatty talk-show host Charlie the sheep, who seeks to get the bottom of it all by interviewing Things and getting to know them. MIPCOM Stand P-1.A89.

China’s leading kids & family entertainment co UYoung and Belfast-based BAFTA winner Sixteen South have teamed for a new, untitled (52 x 11’) preschool series. Currently in development, the show aims to charm young viewers with its unique angle on love and friendship across different cultures and nations — more details TBA in the New Year. Further, UYoung has snagged Sixteen South’s Lily’s Driftwood Bay for all rights in China,  and will be shopping the pre-k property at China Licensing Expo in Shanghai later this month.  Sixteen South will be at MIPCOM stand P4.B1. www.sixteensouth.tv

Pat the Dog

Pat the Dog

Little Brown Bear

Little Brown Bear

Lily's Driftwood Bay

Lily’s Driftwood Bay

Danger Mouse season 2

Danger Mouse season 2

The Charlie Show

The Charlie Show

Animation Magazine