Monthly Archives: September 2012

Win Tix for “Persistence of Vision” World Premiere

Persistence Of Vision

Persistence Of Vision

Want to go to the world premiere of “Persistence of Vision” for free?

The documentary follows the 30-year quest of animator Richard Williams to make his masterpiece, The Thief and the Cobbler — perhaps the greatest animated film never made.

Sponsor The Snipe, Vancouver’s news source for movies, music, comics and more, has two pairs of tickets to give away to the world premiere Thursday, October 4 at this year’s Vancouver International Film Festival.

Best known for the animated sequences of Who Framed Roger Rabbit, Canadian-born British animator Williams saw the film wrested from his control and savagely recut.

Kevin Schreck’s documentary pairs unreleased scenes from Williams’ virtuoso fairytale with horror stories of creativity falling prey to commerce.

To enter to win one of two pairs of tickets to the October 4 premiere at 6 p.m. at Granville Cinemas, let the online magazine know your favorite animated feature or cartoon of all time at www.thesnipenews.com/the-latest/persistence-of-vision-movie-viff/. The draw will be made at 9 a.m. PST on Wednesday, October 3.

Persistence of Vision is part of the 2012 Vancouver International Film Festival.

Who’s In At London Animation Festival

London International Animation Festival

London International Animation Festival

The largest animated film festival in the United Kingdom- the London International Animation Festival- has announced this years program. Included are over 280 films from thirty countries competing in 10 categories. Showcasing the best in British and international animation, this years festival also includes several important premieres, in addition to attendee events and symposiums.

This year’s London International Animation Festival- or LIAF- is running October 25th – November 4th. This year the ten day festival will open with style, premiering ‘For No Good Reason’, the brand new feature film exploring the connection between life and art through the eyes of seminal British artist, Ralph Steadman. Follow the screening with an onstage discussion with the seminal British artist himself – Ralph Steadman, as well as ‘For No Good Reason’ Director Charlie Paul and Animation Director Kevin Richards.

On October 28th, Czech Republic director Tomáš Lunák will introduce a  screening of his film Alois Nebel. Afterward, he will take part in a Q and A about the film.

Also on tap are a retrospective of Lithuanian Animation and a look at the emerging Japanese animation scene, including a masterclass and screening with short-form auteur animator Koji Yamamura. American studio Klasky Csupo presents a series of never-before-seen pilot films from some of their televisions series.

The festival will also be home to a variety of ScreenTalks and Creative Skillset symposiums and special presentations including a 2-day industry event in which topics such as The Future of Animation in the UK and The Art of Animated Film Titles will be explored. Technique Focus Workshops include an in-depth look at Live Action / Animation Hybrid films. There are also several programs and hands on workshops especially for children including the Make a Spooky Film Workshop in which BAFTA award-winning Kevin Griffiths will guide audiences through the various stages of ‘cut-out’ animation and the art of adding spooky soundtracks.

Another favorite program at the LIAF is Friday Night Bizarre. On November 2 at 9 PM, this ever popular, irresistible, train-wreck of a program commences – you wanna’ turn away but you know you can’t. Expect meat in all the wrong places, drunk babies, slimy politicians, Siamese twins, deranged zombies and Yoko Ono!

The festival will wrap up with The Best of the Next on Saturday night, leading into the Best of the Festival event on the following Sunday, showcasing a collection of the greatest films from LIAF chosen by judging panels and audience votes.

Full program schedules and additional information about the LIAF is available online at www.liaf.org.uk

Bento Animation To Open In Atlanta

Bento Box Entertainment

California based animation studio Bento Box Entertainment has announced a new branch studio to open in north west Atlanta by the end of the year. Bento Box is the producer of the Fox series Bobs Burgers. The new studio is expected to employee about 100 artists, and up to three hundred within 3 years.

The south, and Atlanta in particular, has seen a boom in TV and Film production over the last few years. Floyd County Productions, the creator of FX’s “Archer” series, has about 100 employees based in offices near the Virginia-Highland neighborhood. And Stargate Studios, a special effects company, recently expanded to metro Atlanta for work on AMC’s popular zombie drama “The Walking Dead.”

And, of course, there’s Cartoon Network, Turner Broadcasting’s 24-hour animation station, which is celebrating its 20th birthday Monday. From rather humble beginnings, the network now reaches an audience of more than 360 million homes worldwide.

Animation studios are increasingly drawn to Atlanta for its proximity to industry stalwarts such as Turner Broadcasting and access to a large potential workforce. Bento Box credited the state’s rich talent pool — legions of students trained at local art schools — as well as a tax break of up to 30 percent of a production’s budget for film and TV companies that spend at least $500,000 on a project.

The company has spent the past three months training its first few dozen employees, is already set to do animation work for two TV series. One is a show called “The Awesomes,” an original series from “Saturday Night Live” head writer Seth Meyers for the Hulu online network. Another, called “Out There,” will be featured on the IFC channel.

Greenberg said the work for these two programs would have otherwise been bid out to Korea, China or another international locale. But he was convinced Atlanta is a better alternative, thanks in part to its vibrant arts community.

Dracula To Take A Big Bite Out Of BO?

Hotel Transylvania

Hotel Transylvania

Sony Pictures Animation is set to take a big bite out of weekend box office with the release of the animated film Hotel Transylvania. Bets are on that the 3D film will slide to an easy victory in the weekend race to sales, with estimates raising as high as 35 million for the film.

Interestingly enough, one of the other two new releases this weekend is also from Sony, “Looper.” Starring Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Bruce Willis and Rian Johnson, Looper is expected to come in at second place at 22 million. The third film will be a distant third, an expended box office bomb called, “Won’t Back Down.”

With a budget of about 100 million, Hotel Transylvania has had a long and troubled past. Various directors have included Anthony Stacchi, David Feiss and Jill Culton, with Genndy Tartakovsky helming the final version. In February of 2012 Selena Gomez replaced Miley Cyrus as Mavis.

Welcome to the Hotel Transylvania, Dracula’s lavish five-stake resort, where monsters and their families can live it up, free from meddling from the human world. But here’s a little-known fact about Dracula: he is not only the Prince of Darkness; he is also a dad.

Overprotective of his teenage daughter Mavis, Dracula fabricates tales of elaborate dangers to dissuade her adventurous spirit. As a haven for Mavis, he opens the Hotel Transylvania, where his daughter and some of the world’s most famous monsters – Frankenstein and his bride, the Mummy, the Invisible Man, a family of werewolves, and more – can kick back in safety and peace. For Drac, catering to all of these legendary monsters is no problem – but his world could come crashing down when one ordinary guy stumbles on the hotel and takes a shine to Mavis.

Frank is also known as Frankenstein. Eunice is his in-your-face, over-the-top and larger-than-life Bride. Quasimodo, once the hunchback of Notre Dame, is now a crazy, passionate gourmet chef always looking for his next piece de resistance. Wayne and Wanda are a pair of married, harried werewolves, parents to an ever-increasing litter of pups, who are looking forward to their family vacation at the hotel.

Murray, a boisterous Mummy, was once entertainer to the great Pharaohs, and is now the life of the party, and always feeling the urge to let loose and sing. Jonathan is a 21-year-old regular guy, carefree and full of life, whose world travels land him at the Hotel.

Turtle Power Returns Saturday

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles

Get ready for Turtle power to surface on Nickelodeon this Saturday, Sept. 29, at 11AM (ET/PT) in a special one-hour television event in the all-new, CG-animated Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles series.

The series stars Jason Biggs (American Pie) as “Leonardo,” Sean Astin (Lord of the Rings) as “Raphael,” Rob Paulsen (Planet Sheen) as “Donatello” and Greg Cipes (Teen Titans) as “Michelangelo.” Additional cast members rounding out this iconic hit franchise include Mae Whitman (Parenthood) as “April O’Neil,” Hoon Lee (Royal Pains) as “Master Splinter” and Kevin Michael Richardson (Penguins of Madagascar) as “Shredder.”

In the premiere episode, “Rise of the Turtles,” Master Splinter allows his teenage sons, the Mutant Ninja Turtles, to visit the surface for the first time, however they are given strict instructions to remain unseen.  But when they spy a group of thugs attempting to kidnap a teenage girl (April O’Neil) and her father, the Turtles must leap into action. They soon discover that the surface world isn’t as simple as it first appears as they find themselves in the middle of a conspiracy involving alien creatures, robotic droids, missing scientists and come face to face with the same glowing green mutagen that mutated them in the first place.

Former Digital Domain Team Seeks to Revive “Tembo”

The Legend Of Tembo

The Legend Of Tembo

Despite being “devastated” by the sudden closure of Digital Domain Media Group’s new Florida studio, director-producers Chuck Williams and Aaron Blaise are bidding for the rights to animated feature The Legend of Tembo, a film canceled when Digital Domain went belly-up.

A tale of a pachyderm taken far from his African home to go to war, The Legend of Tembo would have gone into production in another month. But one day, restructuring specialists at FTI Consulting told studio employees who had come to work that they had two hours to grab their things and go.

Williams and Blaise each worked in animation for the Walt Disney Company for 20 years. Williams moved back to his home state to get Digital Domain developing a studio business. When he came back to his office, his computer was gone.

“It was like a hurricane had blown through and everything was ripped out. I had pitches and scripts and all kinds of work on there,” Williams said.

Through a spokesman, FTI declined comment.

Williams and Blaise are in talks with Beijing-based Galloping Horse, which joined Reliance MediaWorks in purchasing Digital Domain’s special-effects business for $30.2 million at a hasty bankruptcy auction. Already, Galloping Horse has paid $5 million to develop The Legend of Tembo. Williams and Blaise hope that the joint venture will help bring back Digital Domain’s animated movie business.

The creative team feels that Galloping Horse, which bought most of Digital Domain, may also purchase its studio business, too.

“We want to make our movie,” said Williams. “One-hundred-twenty people worked on it for two years. Early tests showed it was fabulous — Disney quality, just like we promised.”

Speaking last week in bankruptcy court last week, Michael Katzenstein of FTI belittled Digital Domain’s attempt to produce animated movies as a mistake, as the firm had done well making special effects for such movies as Titanic for years. He stated that Tembo swallowed $13 million of the company’s funds.

However, Williams and Blaise contend, special effects makes only a small margin of profit, while animated features are a real money-maker, with 90% of such films getting wide release in the United States turning a profit. They said that spending on The Legend of Tembo was par for the industry, and that a profit from Digital Domain’s new studio couldn’t be expected for years.

According to Blaise, a major animated feature is normally budgeted at $80 million to $100 million. A good animated movie takes three or four years to produce, with the money not showing up until it’s in movie houses, he said.

Added Williams: “This was a good bet.”

“We’re sad about what happened. It’s really horrific,” Williams continued. “But we’re excited about what could happen now.”

[Via Dow Jones/Wall Street Journal blogs.wsj.com/bankruptcy/2012/09/26/digital-domains-creative-leaders-hit-the-comeback-trail/]

SpongeBob SquarePants 4-D Comes to Life in Spring

SpongeBob SquarePants 4-D

SpongeBob SquarePants 4-D

Who lives in a pineapple under the sea and may be coming soon to a theme park, zoo or aquarium near you? SpongeBob SquarePants.

Nickelodeon is teaming again with attraction powerhouse SimEx-Iwerks Entertainment and creative studio Super 78 to bring the smash hit cartoon series to life in SpongeBob SquarePants 4-D – The Great Jelly Rescue. With stunning 3-D graphics and a dramatic assortment of scents, sounds and physical interplay, the new attraction will offer an immersive, one-of-a-kind 4-D experience. Production of the film is currently underway, and the experience will debut around the world at select venues next spring.

Fans of all ages will join SpongeBob and his trusty pals Patrick and Sandy on a deep-sea adventure as they try to prevent their arch-enemy, Plankton, from harvesting the ocean’s jellyfish for his own evil use. The race is on as SpongeBob and gang encounter obstacles and mishaps as they try to foil Plankton’s villainous plot.

“SpongeBob is an international superstar and this exciting new attraction gives fans the opportunity to feel like they are part of his undersea world,” said Super 78 principal Brent Young. “This experience shares a conservation message using a charming storyline and special effects that engage all the senses. It even adds a fifth dimension of sorts that taps the capricious humor SpongeBob is famous for.”

“This is our third film partnership with Nickelodeon,” said Mike Frueh, senior vice-president of film distribution for SimEx-Iwerks. “Based on the success of the original SpongeBob 4-D Experience and most recently, Dora and Diego 4-D Adventure, we are delighted to be partnering with both Nickelodeon and Super 78 to bring a new SpongeBob 4-D experience to the 4-D screen.”

“SpongeBob SquarePants is an iconic and beloved property, with a global fan base,” said Gerald Raines, vice-president, of Nickelodeon recreation business development. “This new experience, which integrates 3-D technology and dazzling in-theater effects, will engage fans the world over with a positive and entertaining message.”

Dan Thompson won Daytime Emmy as Rugrats Director

Rugrats

Rugrats

Animator, director and producer Dan Thompson, who shared a Daytime Emmy for his work on Rugrats, died August 19.

His age was not immediately available.

As a director of Rugrats, he received a Daytime Emmy for Outstanding Animated Program in 1992. He shared a nomination in the same category in 1993.

Thompson produced the TV series G.I. Joe (1985-86) and Jem (1987-88), as well as an episode of Swamp Thing (1991).

He directed the series Camp Candy (1990), Swamp Thing, Iron Man (1995-96) and The Incredible Hulk (1996). As well, he was supervising director of the 1983 mini-series G.I. Joe: A Real American Hero and director of the 1984 mini-series G.I. Joe: The Revenge of Cobra.

He served as animation director of The Incredible Hulk (1982-83) and McGee and Me! (1989-90). A key animator for the “Taarna” segment of the 1981 movie Heavy Metal, he animated the 1984 movie Katy, la oruga, along with the TV-movies Clerow Wilson and the Miracle of P.S. 14 (1972) and Clerow Wilson’s Great Escape (1974).

In 1984, Thompson served as sequence director for the theatrical movie Gallavants and the Transformers TV series.

Timing director for the 1990 series Tiny Toon Adventures and 2000 video Monster Mash, he was an animation and/or sheet timer for the TV series The Wild Thornberrys (1999), Rocket Power (1999-2002) and As Told by Ginger (2003-06), as well as the 2002 TV-movie Inspector Gadget’s Last Case: Claw’s Revenge.

Since 1973, he worked for Krantz, Hanna-Barbera, Marvel, Disney, Warner Bros., Graz, Universal, Funnybone, DIC, Sunbow, Klasky-Csupo and Nickelodeon.

Thompson was also known for his “urban folk” art, mounting a very successful show at The Animation Guild’s Gallery 839 in October 2010.

Michael Rye, 94, was Cartoondom’s Lone Ranger

Michael Rye

Michael Rye

Voiceover actor Michael Rye, who had the title role in the 1966 Format Films cartoon series “The Lone Ranger,” died Sunday in Los Angeles after a short illness. He was 94.

Rye was a mainstay in many cartoon series and radio shows.

Born J. Riorden Billsbury in Chicago, he voiced Duke Igthorn and King Gregor, Malsinger and Troll the horse on Disney’s “Gummi Bears,” and Green Lantern and Apache Chief on “The All-New Super Friends Hour” and “Challenge of the “Super Friends.”

Rye was Mr. Slaghoople in 1986’s “The Flintstone Kids.”

He was part of the Hanna-Barbera stable of voice actors, and was heard often in “Scooby-Doo,” “Pound Puppies” and many other HB cartoon series.

During the Golden Age of radio, Rye acted in about 40 network shows during an average week. He had the lead role on “Jack Armstrong — The All American Boy.” As well, he was Gary Curtis on “Ma Perkins,” Tim Lawrence on “The Guiding Light,” and Pembrook on “Backstage Wife.”

Michael Rye is survived by his wife, the former Patricia Foster.

Donations may be made to the American Cancer Society.

MacPherson wins twice at Montreal World Film Fest

MacPherson

MacPherson

MacPherson,” an animated tale of friendship between a white man and a black man in Quebec, was named both the best short film and best Canadian short at the Montreal World Film Festival.

Brimming with exuberant, colorful images, this 11-minute film was directed by Martine Chartrand of the National Film Board of Canada.

In Quebec during the early 1930s, young poet Félix Leclerc befriended Frank Randolph Macpherson, a Jamaican chemical engineer and university graduate who worked for a pulp and paper company. An inveterate jazz fan, Macpherson inspired Leclerc, who wrote a song about the log drives and entitled it “MacPherson” in honor of his friend.

In the heart of a wintry nation, a white man and a black man bask in the warmth of a friendship buoyed by melodies of jazz, traditional Quebec folk tunes, Jamaican mento and a Schubert sonata. The magical hands of Chartrand, director of Black Soul, created an animated film that bursts with a pulsating hybrid of poetry and music, employing painted glass frames shot with a 35mm camera. Somewhere between documentary and fiction, MacPherson, based on Leclerc’s famous song, depicts turning points in history and, with great sensitivity and lavish imagery, evokes the deep feelings shared by the Jamaican engineer and one of Leclerc’s sisters.

Original music was provided by Jean-François Dumas, Luzio Altobelli and Dominic Desrochers. Erik Shoup was the pianist.