Monthly Archives: November 2012

My Little Pony’s Andrea Libman Wins Animation Voice Award

Andrea Libman

Andrea Libman

For her portrayals of Pinkie Pie and Fluttershy in My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic, Toronto-born Vancouver performer Andrea Libman, 28, won the Award for Best Voice at the inaugural UBCP/ACTRA Awards.

Two other voice performers in My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic had been nominated in the same category: Trevor Devall (Prince Blueblood) and Tabitha St. Germain (many characters).

Also nominated were Lee Tockar (Doktor Frogg) for League of Super Evil: “Lose Weight” and Sam Vincent (Lester) for Rated A for Awesome: “Lost in Character.”

The UBCP/ACTRA Award for Best Actress went to Camille Sullivan (Sisters & Brothers), while the award for Best Actor was given to Stephen Lobo for Afghan Luke. Also for Sisters & Brothers, Kacey Rohl was named Best Newcomer.

The UBCP/ACTRA Award for Best Stunt was handed out to Phil Mitchell for his work in True Justice: “Urban Warfare.”

Melissa Stubbs received the John Juliani Award of Excellence. The Lorena Gale Woman of Distinction Award was given to Carol Whiteman.

The UBCP/ACTRA Awards ceremony took place Saturday night at the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation studios in Vancouver.

Over 130 performances were submitted to the nominating committee, who used a voting system to determine the final nominees.

The nominating committee included UBCP members Blu Mankuma, Brian Markinson, Carmen Moore, David Mylrea, Garvin Cross, Jay Brazeau, John Cassini, Lauro Chartrand, Melissa Stubbs, Robert Moloney, Sarah-Jane Redmond and Sonja Bennett. Where a member of the committee was also submitted for a nomination, they recused themselves from the voting.

The Union of British Columbia Performers (UBCP/ACTRA) is an autonomous branch of ACTRA (Alliance of Canadian Cinema, Television and Radio Artists), the national organization of professional performers working in the English-language recorded media in Canada. ACTRA represents the interests of 22,000 members across Canada.

Cartoon of the Day: Treasure Planet

Treasure Planet

Treasure Planet

On this date in 2002, Disney released Treasure Planet. Sort of a Disney version of Robert Louis Stevenson’s “Treasure Island,” set in outer space.

This movie opened in both 35mm and a specifically-formatted 70mm IMAX version. This marked the first time that a film had concurrent releases in both formats.

After the September 11 tragedy, Disney decided that people being held at sword-point just wasn’t funny, so the animators were instructed to remove as many swords from the film as possible.

The film was a major financial disaster. Budgeted at $140 million, it grossed only $38.2 million by the time it left North American theaters. The loss reportedly resulted in Disney downgrading its earnings estimate for the last quarter of 2002.

So what did you think of this later Disney film… good retelling of a classic story, or overblown CG-Fest?

Disney Animator and Story Man Mel Shaw Dies at 97

Mel Shaw

Mel Shaw

Visual development artist, animator and story man Melvin “Mel” Shaw, named a Disney Legend in 2004, has died at 97, layout artist Mike Peraza announced.

Shaw has been called one of Disney’s “elder statesmen” of animation. Walt Disney, who personally recruited him to join his team, observed another side.

During his early polo playing days, Shaw recalled first meeting Disney at the field, who announced, “You ride like a wild Indian!” And thus, the door opened for Shaw to infuse his passion into Disney animation.

Born Melvin Schwartzman in Brooklyn on December 19, 1914, he discovered his artistic bent at age 10, when selected as one of only 30 children from New York state to participate in the Student Art League Society. Two years later, his soap sculpture of a Latino with a pack mule won second prize in a Procter & Gamble soap carving contest, earning the young artist national fame.

In 1928, his family moved to Los Angeles, where Shaw attended high school and entered a scholarship class at Otis Art Institute. But the teen had an itch to become a cowboy and ran away from home to work on a Utah ranch.

After four months of back-breaking work, he returned home and took a job creating title cards for silent movies at Pacific Titles, owned by Leon Schlesinger. With help from Schlesinger, two former Disney animators, Hugh Harman and Rudy Ising, had made a deal with Warner Bros., and soon, Shaw joined Harman-Ising Studios as animator, character designer, story man and director. While there, he worked with Orson Welles storyboarding a live-action/animated version of The Little Prince.

In 1937, Shaw arrived at Disney, contributing to Fantasia (1940), Bambi (1941) and The Wind in the Willows, which later became a segment in The Adventures of Ichabod and Mr. Toad (1949).

His Disney career was interrupted by the Second World War, when he served the United States Army Signal Corps as a filmmaker under Lord Louis Mountbatten, helping produce films, including a live action/animated documentary of the Burma Campaign. He also served as art editor and cartoonist for the Stars & Stripes newspaper in Shanghai.

After the war, he ventured into business with former MGM Studios animator Bob Allen. As Allen-Shaw Productions, he designed and created the original Howdy Doody marionette puppet for NBC; illustrated the first Bambi children’s book for Disney; and designed children’s toys, architecture and even master plans for cities, including Century City, California.

In 1974, Walt Disney Studios called Shaw to help in the outgoing transition between retiring animators and the next generation. He offered skill and knowledge to such Disney motion pictures as The Rescuers (1977), The Fox and the Hound (1981), The Great Mouse Detective (1986), Beauty and the Beast (1991), The Lion King (1994) and more.

Though uncredited, he was an animator in the theatrical cartoon shorts We’re in the Money (1933), Toyland Broadcast and Tale of the Vienna Woods (both 1934), To Spring (1936) and Merbabies (1938).

He offered additional story contributions to The Black Cauldron (1985) and provided the cartoon story for the 1957 Disneyland episode “Tricks of Our Trade.” Shaw appeared as himself in the 2001 TV documentary Walt: The Man Behind the Myth.

Shaw recently completed his autobiography Animator on Horseback at his home in Acampo, California. It has not yet been released.

In June, he lived with his son and daughter-in-law in Woodland Hills, California.

Mel Shaw married Florence, the widow of Disney animator John Lounsbery.

Guardians Slow to Rise, Opens in Fourth Place

Rise Of The Guardians

Rise Of The Guardians

Such childhood heroes as the Tooth Fairy and Santa Claus save the world in Rise of the Guardians, but they didn’t stop the movie from opening in fourth place over the five-day Thanksgiving weekend.

Featuring the voices of Chris Pine and Alec Baldwin, the DreamWorks Animation movie made $32.6 million since opening Wednesday, including $24 million over the weekend itself.

That’s a far cry from the $64 million made by teen vampire sequel The Twilight Saga: Breaking Yawn – Part 2 in its second weekend.

Rise of the Guardians was produced by DWA for about $145 million. Distributor Paramount Pictures had expected it to gross $35 million in its first five days, according to Box Office Mojo.

Based on children’s author William Joyce’s book series The Guardians of Childhood, the film is the last being distributed by Paramount will release for DWA. Next year, DreamWorks Animation movies will be distributed by Fox.

Observing “the great parent reactions we’ve seen” to the film, Anne Globe, Dreamworks’ chief marketing officer, said it was one of the few choices for families through the end of the year. The studio is “hoping for very long legs through the holidays,” she added.

In sixth place was Disney’s Wreck-It Ralph, which brought in $23 million. It was in fourth place the previous weekend. So far, Wreck-It Ralph has made $149.5 million domestically.

The North American box office for the Thanksgiving weekend (Wednesday to Sunday) reached $290 million, beating the previous holiday weekend record of $273 million set in 2009, when The Twilight Saga: New Moon was the leader.

Weekend ticket sales in the United States and Canada were compiled by the box office division of

One Boy’s Story Cartoon PSA Wins Two Regional Emmy Awards

One Boy'€™s Story

One Boy’€™s Story

Blending 3D animation with live action, the public service announcement One Boy’s Story has won two Emmy awards from the National Academy of Television Arts & Sciences, Chicago/Midwest Chapter.

Created by Mode Project, a Chicago-based design and production studio, it won for Outstanding Achievement for Community/Public Service (PSAs) and Outstanding Crafts Achievement Off-Air – Graphics Arts/Animation/Art Direction/Set Design. The spot was created for the non-profit organization Court Appointed Special Advocates, dedicated to providing volunteer advocacy for abused and neglected children.

The spot tells the story of a young boy who was abandoned by his parents, but with the help of a CASA volunteer, was adopted into a loving family. Previously, One Boy’s Story was recognized with a Silver award for Art Direction & Design in the 2012 PromaxBDA North America Design competition.

Mode Project was presented with this opportunity via design studio Thirst/Chicago on behalf of EPIC (Engaging Philanthropy Inspiring Creatives), an organization which helps top-tier creative talent join forces with nonprofit clients. “Mode Project totally made Kelly Butler’s script come to life in this incredible video hybrid that is obviously digital, but remarkably analog in spirit. I love this Mode brand of innocence!”, said Thirst founder and design director Rick Valicenti.

“As always, the Chicago/Midwest Emmy Awards were full of extraordinary projects produced by talented creatives with an unparalleled passion for their work,” said Mode Project President Colin Carter. “Our whole team is incredibly honored by this recognition, and we offer our congratulations to all of the winners.”

These projects demonstrate the diverse capabilities of the studio, which creates original content for an expanding client roster that includes global ad agencies, non-profits, and major brands such as Gogo, Marriott International, AT&T, United Airlines and UPS.

The Chicago / Midwest Emmy awards add to Mode Project’s growing list of industry recognition, including Cannes Lions Titanium and Integrated Grand Prix awards, New York Festivals World Medals, and Promax/BDA North American Design Awards.

One Boy’s Story can be viewed at

Boy With Autism Wins Animation Award For 2nd Time

Young PK Keith of Valley Village, California, who was diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder at age two, and whose budding interest in animation and film was evident at an early age, received a Best Elementary School Animation award Sunday from International Student Film Festival Hollywood in recognition of his animated short Animal Birthday Party.

Ten-year-old PK, who attends tutoring at Exceptional Minds vocational school for youth with autism, won in the same category in last year’s ISFFH festival, an annual event open to all elementary, junior high and high school students that recognizes young filmmakers from around the world. The short was selected along with more than 65 others for screening at the ISFFH film festival, which took place Saturday and Sunday at Beverly Garland’s Theater in North Hollywood, California.

“Some people don’t know until after graduating from college what they want to do. PK has always wanted to be an animator. Even before he could talk, he’d go through reams and reams of paper, drawing and laying out his storyboards on the floor. This is his thing,” says mom Mollie Burns Keith, who enrolled PK in private tutoring sessions at Exceptional Minds over the summer to develop her son’s skills and prepare him for eventual employment as an animator.

PK originated the Flash animation with tutoring and instruction from Laura Robinson and other instructors at Exceptional Minds, a Sherman Oaks, California vocational school for young adults on the autism spectrum who aspire to become animators and computer artists. Started last year by professionals in the post-production and film industry, and instructed by working animators with the help of experts experienced in autism developmental issues, Exceptional Minds is being lauded as the poster child for what’s next for young adults with ASD, many of whom are underemployed or unemployed, yet who demonstrate an aptitude for computer animation and technology in general.

“PK is one more example of what these young and talented individuals can do given the right tools, the right instruction and the space to do it,” says Yudi Bennett, the director of operations for Exceptional Minds, and the parent of a young adult on the autism spectrum.

The International Student Film Festival Hollywood is in its 10th year as a venue “where the next generation of filmmakers showcase their work,” placing PK among an elite and esteemed group of young aspiring talent.

At the festival, the Grand Jury Award went to Shaun Seong-young Kim of USC for the animated Hu’s Game. The award for Best Animation was given to fellow USC student Wen Huang for The Seventh Star.

Named Best High School Animation was Snub-nosed Elf, directed by Chi Keung Wong of Hong Kong’s Yung Yau College. It was written by Ngo Yin Ip and Man Ho Wan. Chak Fung Ip, also of Yung Yau College, won Best Junior High School Animation for Make a Difference, written by Ka Yung Cheung and Wing Hang Chan.

Cartoon Zebras From South Africa Get Distributor



South Africa’s Triggerfish Studios’ 3D animated feature Khumba has been picked up for North American distribution by Millennium Entertainment. The film has just completed production. Khumba is a half-stripped zebra who sets out on a daring quest to earn his stripes.

Khumba was co-written by Anthony Silverston (Zambezia) and Raffaella Delle Donne (Zambezia), with Lion King writer Jonathan Roberts. Anthony Silverston also directed the feature, and Stuart Forrest of Triggerfish Animation (Zambezia) produced it. The film stars Jake T. Austin (Wizards of Waverly Place, Rio, The Perfect Game), AnnaSophia Robb (Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, Bridge to Terebithia, Soul Surfer) and Loretta Devine (Crash, I am Sam, Grey’s Anatomy).

When Khumba, a half stripped zebra is blamed for the lack of rain by the rest of his insular, superstitious herd, he embarks on a daring quest to earn his stripes. In his search for the legendary waterhole in which the first zebras got their stripes, Khumba meets a quirky range of characters and teams up with an unlikely duo: an overprotective wildebeest, MamaV and Bradley, a self-obsessed ostrich. But before he can reunite with his herd, Khumba will have to come face to face with Phango, a scary leopard who controls the waterholes and terrorizes all the animals in the Great Karoo.

“Millennium Entertainment is eager to earn its stripes with the lovable ‘Khumba’, which marks the company’s first venture in the world of animation,” said Millennium Entertainment CEO Bill Lee. “We look forward to connecting the film and its endearing cast of animals with the whole family.”

Stuart Forrest, Triggerfish Animation Studios’ CEO stated, “This is another exciting step-up for Triggerfish Animation Studios as we continue to break new ground in establishing our company as Africa’s leading entertainment franchise. We are thrilled to be working with Millennium and feel our film is in good hands with a talented group behind the theatrical release.”

Deal was negotiated during the AFM between Millennium Entertainment’s VP of Acquisitions, Tristen Tuckfield and international sales agent Cinema Management Group’s President, Edward Noeltner whose company also handled all international sales on Triggerfish’s first 3D animated feature Zambezia.

Turkeys Ready To Be Served in November 2014



The animated comedy “Turkeys” will be released November 14, 2014, Relativity Media and Reel FX announced Thursday.

Turkeys is helmed by Jimmy Hayward, director of box office hit Horton Hears A Who! and animator on such films as Disney/Pixar’s Finding Nemo and Monsters Inc. The film is jointly produced and financed by Relativity and Reel FX, and is now set for theatrical release.

The film stars the voice talent of Owen Wilson, who previously voiced Lightning McQueen in Disney-Pixar’s Cars; Woody Harrelson from The Hunger Games; and Dan Fogler, who previously voiced Zeng in Dreamworks Animation’s Kung Fu Panda. Producing are Scott Mosier (Clerks), Craig Mazin (The Hangover Part II), John Strauss (The Santa Claus 2) and David l. Stern (Hotel Transylvania). The screenplay was written by Stern and Strauss, with a rewrite by Mazin. The film will be distributed worldwide by Relativity.

Turkeys is an irreverent, hilarious, adventurous buddy comedy where two turkeys from opposite sides of the tracks must put aside their differences and team up to travel back in time to change the course of history — and get turkey off the menu for good.

Reel FX is a fully-integrated movie studio that develops and produces both animated films and live-action movies. In addition to Turkeys, Reel FX’s growing animation slate includes Day of the Dead (Guillermo del Toro producing) and Beasts of Burden (Aron Warner and Andrew Adamson producing). Reel FX’s own film slate follows almost 20 years of experience as an award-winning one-stop studio for animated content, including films, special attraction/live venue projects and interactive projects, for companies like DreamWorks Animation, Fox, Warner Bros. and Universal Studios.

Michael Hefferon Appointed President of Rainmaker Animation

Rainmaker Entertainment

Rainmaker Entertainment

Rainmaker Entertainment Inc. has appointed feature film and TV executive Michael Hefferon as president and executive producer, Craig Graham, newly appointed chairman and CEO of the Vancouver-based CGI animation production studio, announced.

The appointment of Hefferon reflects Rainmaker’s continuing expansion into both areas of client CGI animation services, as well as original production with entertainment partners worldwide, such as the studio’s partnership with the Weinstein Company on the upcoming feature film Escape From Planet Earth.

Hefferon joins a team of professional animation and creative talent at Rainmaker led by Kim Dent Wilder, senior vice-president of production and operations.

Hefferon brings to his leadership role at Rainmaker an extensive career in the TV and feature film industry, having produced more than 500 half-hours of programming for television and numerous theatrical motion pictures. Hefferon joins Rainmaker Entertainment from Bardel Entertainment, where he served as vice-president of business development and executive producer, and oversaw the Vancouver animation company’s numerous high-profile productions and associations with broadcasters worldwide.

He previously served as managing director of Australian CGI animation company Flying Bark Productions PTY Ltd, and as senior vice-president of production and development for German animation studio BFC Berliner Film Companie Productions GmbH, where he also was co-producer on the animated feature film Happily N’ever After.

Earlier in his career, Hefferon headed up animation co-productions for Gullane Entertainment/HIT Entertainment and served as vice-president of production and development for Toronto-based animation company Catalyst Entertainment. Hefferon also was founder and President of Phoenix Animation, his own studio, which quickly gained a reputation as a high-quality production studio with such credits as FernGully: The Last Rainforest, Thumbelina, A Goofy Movie and All Dogs Go To Heaven 2.

Hefferon will continue to serve as executive producer on his current series projects with Bardel Entertainment.

In addition to Hefferon’s appointment, Bardel Entertainment CEO Delna Bhesania was appointed to Rainmaker’s board of directors.

“We are extremely pleased to announce Michael Hefferon’s appointment to Rainmaker Entertainment. Michael ranks among the top echelon on television and film production and business executives whose extensive experience and impressive track record of success will prove to be of great benefit to our company as we continue our growth as a co-production partner and animation service provider,” said Graham.

“At the same time, we are delighted to welcome Delna Bhesania to Rainmaker’s board. A globally recognized animation executive, we look forward to Delna bringing her wealth of animation experience to our group.”

Stray Bullet Kills Boy Watching “Wreck-It Ralph”

Wreck-It Ralph

Wreck-It Ralph

Mystery continues to surround the fatal shooting of a 10-year-old boy who was watching Wreck-It Ralph in a southern Mexico City theater.

Hendrik Cuacuas died two days after a November 2 shooting when he, his father and 12-year-old sister were viewing the animated Disney film, according to an continuing police investigation and local media reports.

Cinepolis, the chain owning the theater, was a Twitter top trend Tuesday.

Strangely, the boy’s father and others in the theater said that they did not hear any gunshots.

Hendrik was hit in the head by a 9-mm bullet at the theatre in the rough neighborhood of Iztapalapa, prosecutor Edmundo Garrido said Tuesday.

According to an autopsy report, the victim was shot from four to six feet away. It said that the bullet entered the front of his head. Oddly, however, the coroner was quoted as saying that the shooter was not necessarily standing in front of the victim.

The boy’s father, Enrique Cuacuas, told investigators and radio station Radio W that his son was sitting on his right side in a full theater when, roughly half an hour into the screening, he heard something whiz past his ear, then the sound of a thud. Turning to his right, he saw his son convulsing and bleeding from the head. He realized that his son had been shot.

According to ballistics expert Anselmo Apodaca, a bullet passed through the building’s laminate roof, then through a suspended ceiling, and traveled to the upper right side of the boy’s head.

Hendrik was rushed to a hospital in critical condition.

Cuacuas told Radio W that he learned similar incidents had taken place in the same theater in the past. However, he did not provide proof.

The head of Cinepolis’ legal department, Pablo Jimenez, told Foro TV that there was an incident in March, “also difficult to explain… in which a person received an injury to the foot.” He said he did not know if the injury caused by a gunshot.

Police have closed the theater as the investigation continues.