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T H E B U S I N E S S , T E C H N O L O G Y & A R T O F A N I M A T I O N

April
2006

Ice A ge 2
Heats Up the
CG Climate

Asia:
The Next
Wave
Gaming
Tr e n d s
of 2006
of2006

w w w . a n i m a t i o n m a g a z i n e . n e t
_____________________________________________________

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Volume 20, Issue 4, Number 159, April 2006

CONTENTS
4 Frame-by-Frame
14 The Monthly Animation Planner ... Samurai 7 premieres on IFC ... Books We
Love... Brozer’s The Rainbow Snake

10 Gaming
10 AI’s Got Game. The Art Institute of California-Los Angeles puts
education in play at Game Center. [by Ryan Ball] 12 The New Flavors.
A look at animation trends in gaming. [by Ryan Ball]

14 Features
14 A Second Mammoth Undertaking. The speed of development and
animation on Fox/Blue Sky’s Ice Age 2: The Meltdown was anything but
glacial. [by Michael Mallory] 17 A Taste of Europe. The continent’s
animated feature scene is alive and kicking at Cartoon Movie. [by Ramin
Zahed] 18 West Meets East:Thoughts on America and the New Anime
Wave. [by Patrick Drazen] 21 Look Out, Godzilla. Here Comes Negadon!
New film brings CG to the classic Japanese monster movie. [by Ryan Ball]
22 A Cultural Give and Take. The real world could learn a few lessons in
harmonious co-existence and blending of cultures from animated series that glide easily between Asian and Western traditions.

30 [by Charles Solomon] 24 All Eyes Focus on Animated Japan. Despite the shrinking air time on Japan’s terrestrial channels, anime
continues to cast its global spell. [by Tad Osaki] 26 Is Singapore the New Toon Power Spot? [by Patrick Drazen] 24 By the
Numbers. A few facts and figures from some of the major Asian animation markets. [by Sarah Gurman]

29 Shorts
29 Brooklyn Blues. Adam Parrish King impresses Sundance with The Wraith of Cobble Hill. [by Ramin Zahed]

30 Home Entertainment
30 Japanimation Hits Home. Our reporter catches up with some of the top anime DVD distributors in the U.S. to find out
what’s hot in 2006. [by Thomas J. McLean] 34 The Samurai Critic. Reviews of three Studio Ghibli classics on DVD.
[by Charles Solomon] 35 Spring DVD Fever. Parodies, Looney progeny and Pooh take the edge off residual winter chill.
[by Sarah Gurman]

36 Television
36 A KOCCA Star is Born. [by Sarah Gurman] 37 Sushi Out of Water. An American actor makes it big as an anime hero in the
Animation Collective/Nicktoon series, Kappa Mikey. [by Ramin Zahed] 38 Classroom Pets Dig Show Tunes. Three musically
minded animals are the stars of Nick Jr.’s The Wonder Pets! [by Ramin Zahed] 34 Padded Cel. Thoughts on recent toon
mergers. [by Robby London]

40 Licensing
40 Crossing Borders. Korean properties are gaining visibility outside their homeland. [by Karen Raugust]
37 44 VFX
44 V is for Vigilance. Dan Glass and his team of vfx artists use CG technology wisely and sparingly in the big-screen
adaptation of Alan Moore’s graphic novel, V for Vendetta. [by Ron Magid] 48 Hair of the Dog. Tippett Studio puts the Wow!
in bow wow for Disney’s The Shaggy Dog redo. [by Ryan Ball] 50 State of the Art. Weta Digital’s vfx experts used a variety
of CG tricks to recreate the environmental shots of Skull Island for King Kong. [by Barbara Robertson] 52 Digital Magic.
Calling All Robotech Fans. [by Chris Grove] 53 Tech Reviews. [by Chris Tome] 54 Is That a Toon in Your Digital Pants
Pocket? Today’s savvy animation producers don’t expect instant riches as they prepare content for tomorrow’s platforms.
[by Chris Grove]

58 Opportunities
58 School Project Shines at Sundance. San Jose State University puts its best Foot forward
[by Ellen Wolff] 52 Writing for Animation? Draw on Experience. A toon biz veteran offers some
practical advice on how to create the right scripts for cartoons. [by Fred Crippen]

68 A Day in the Life. The good people at Singapore’s Peach Blossom Media show us their
true colors.

On the Cover: Fox and Blue Sky take moviegoers on another delirious, CG-
animated adventure with Ice Age 2: The Meltdown, directed by Carlos Saldanha.

48 Cartoon Movie Cover: Magma Animation and Europool GmbH bring their latest project Bug
Muldoon to Cartoon Movie.

www.animationmagazine.net ANIMATION MAGAZINE April 2006 1

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ANIMATION MAGAZINE
April 2006
Vol. 20, Issue 4, No. 159
EDITOR’S NOTE

Info@animationmagazine.net
____________

T
his month, everyone at the magazine was in a true Asian
frame of mind as we prepared for our special March
distribution at the Tokyo International Anime Fair and the
President Jean Thoren
Publisher Jodi Bluth
Hong Kong International Film and TV Market. We were lucky
Accounting Jan Bayouth
to have experts such as Charles Solomon, Patrick Drazen,
Webmaster Eric Brandenberg
Tad Osaki, Thomas McLean and our own staffers Ryan Ball and Sarah Gurman EDITORIAL Edit@animationmagazine.net
______________
search high and low for the latest trends and projects that are generating buzz Editor-in-Chief Ramin Zahed
in Japan, Korea, China, the Philippines and Singapore. Web and Gaming Editor Ryan Ball
Of course, just like everybody else, we were surprised to read that China’s Contributing Editors Chris Grove, Ron Magid,
State Administration of Radio, Film and TV has decided to ban TV series and Barbara Robertson
films that featured real human actors interacting with animated characters. Editorial Assistant Sarah Gurman
Our first reaction was “Whaaaaaaaah?” Our second impulse was to feel sorry Copy Editor Roberta Street
for poor Jessica Rabbit, the hyperactive pooch from Blue’s Clues and the whole Animation Art Advisor Ron Barbagallo
Looney Tunes gang which seemed to genuinely enjoy the company of Michael Digital Reviews Editor Chris Tome
Jordan, Brendan Fraser and Jenna Elfman. Contributors Fred Crippen, Patrick Drazen,
We hope somebody starts a rally somewhere demanding equal rights for Mike Fisher, Robby London, Thomas J. McLean,
toons. Come on, people, can’t we all get along? Didn’t they watch Crash? And Tad Osaki, Mercedes Milligan,
who’s going to stop Julie Andrews and Dick Van Dyke and those neglected Charles Solomon, Ellen Wolff
kids from Mary Poppins when they just have to jump into the animated
chalk drawings in the park? We are just praying that somebody will sit that ADVERTISING SALES
impressionable Dakota Fanning down and explain the ugly realities of the world Sales@animationmagazine.net
_______________

to the young actress who seems to think nothing of mixing with the animated Sheri Shelton, Dave Warren
animals on the set of Paramount’s upcoming Charlotte’s Web movie.
Joking aside, experts believe that China is only trying to increase the PRODUCTION Prod@animationmagazine.net
______________

demand for homegrown animation and to up the local production of Mandarin- Art and Production Director Susanne Rector
language shows. The country has a history
CIRCULATION Circ@animationmagazine.net
______________
of banning shows that include fantasy
Circulation Director Jan Bayouth
elements, especially films that center on
talking animals such as Babe and Garfield. TO ADVERTISE:
Phone: 818-991-2884
Never before has there been a higher
Fax: 818-991-3773
demand for communication between the Email: Sales@animationmagazine.net
_____________
East and the West. We hope Animation Website: www.animationmagazine.net

Magazine can play a small role in bridging List Rental


the cultural gaps and help the talented Quantum List Marketing
Charlotte's Web 480-860-6036
people in Asia work together with Western ANIMATION MAGAZINE
companies to expand co-productions and sales. Just please remember to leave (USPS 015-877/ISSN 1041-617X)
Jessica Rabbit and little Dakota out of it,
Published monthly by:
O.K.? Animation Magazine
30941 West Agoura Road, Suite 102
Westlake Village, CA 91361
Ramin Zahed
Editor-in-Chief Periodicals postage paid at Thousand Oaks Post Office, CA,
rzahed@animationmagazine.net
_________________ and additional mailing offices.

POSTMASTER:
SEND ADDRESS CHANGES TO:
Quote of the Month ANIMATION MAGAZINE
30941 West Agoura Road, Suite 102
“In a refreshing departure from the Westlake Village, CA 91361

animal heroes of most recent children’s TO SUBSCRIBE:


For the U.S., the rate is $50 for 12 issues or $85 for 24 issues. Rates for Canada and
movies, this Curious George doesn’t rap, Mexico are US$65 for 12 issues or US$110 for 24 issues delivered by foreign airmail.
Foreign rates are US$80 for 12 issues or US$136 for 24 issues delivered by foreign
punch out bad guys or emit rapid-fire airmail. Please allow six to eight weeks for initial delivery.
Also available in a digital version for $36 for 12 issues or $60 for 24 issues.
commentary on pop culture. George is
Animation Magazine
all monkey ...” © 2006 Animation Magazine
Prior written approval must be obtained to duplicate any and all contents.
—From The New York Times capsule review of Matthew
The copyrights and trademarks of images featured herein are the property of their
O’Callaghan’s Curious George feature which made over $33
respective owners. Animation Magazine acknowledges the creators and copyright
million in its first two weeks at the U.S. box office.
holders of the materials mentioned herein, and does not seek to infringe on those rights.
Printed in the U.S.A.

2 April 2006 ANIMATION MAGAZINE www.animationmagazine.net

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The Animation Planner

April
The Chronicles of Narnia
1-2 Find shelter from
the nonstop pouring rain in
3-7 Find out what’s on
the TV animation and mobile
4 The Official Mobile Entertainment Summit (www.
ihollywoodforum.com) stays in Vegas, baby.
___

Seattle at the Emerald City content universe in Cannes, The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch and the
FRAME-BY-FRAME

Comi- France, at the annual MIPTV Wardrobe, Disney/Walden Media’s holiday


Con and the new Content 360 blockbuster is available on DVD today.
(www.
___ events (www.miptv.com). Anime fans can check out Geneon’s DVD
emer-
___ release of Viewtiful Joe, Vol. 2 and
aldcity-
____ VIZ’s InuYasha, Vol. 40 and for fans of
comicon.
____ adult humor, there’s Anchor Bay’s Tripping
com).
__ the Rift, Season 2.

5-9 The romantic


11 A. A. Milne’s delightful characters have another outing
in Pooh’s Grand Adventure: The Search for Christopher
14 Tom Cruise, War of
city of Positano, Italy is the Worlds, The Village
Robin on DVD, just in time for the and many other recent pop
the backdrop of the annual
bear’s 80th anniversary. Spend your culture phenoms are spoofed
Cartoons on the Bay
hard-earned cash on Disney’s Best in David Zucker’s Scary
festival (www.cartoonsbay.
Pals (Donald and Daisy, Mickey Movie 4. Disney’s latest CG
com).
__
and Minnie, Mickey and Pluto); feature, The Wild, comes
IGPX, Vol. 2 and Zatch Bell, Vol. to life with CORE’s animation
3. and the voices of Keifer
Sutherland and Eddie Izzard.

The Wild
Silent Hill
18 Remember
Thundercats? You can relive
20-22 Chat about 21 Another popular game
becomes a movie. Silent
22-27 Get your tech
act together at National
the future, the art and
the second season (Vol. 1) technology of animation at Hill, directed by Christophe Assoc. of Broadcasters
of the show on a new Warner the Cartoon Masters event Gans and starring Radha confab in Las Vegas (www.
___
Bros. DVD release today! in Vigo, Spain (www.cartoon-
_______ Mitchell as a mother who nabshow.com).
_______ Oh yeah, that

media.be). The Vision


_____ loses her sick daughter in a.m. dude, Regis Philbin
Film Festival in Roanoke, a strange town, opens in wins some kind of lifetime
Virginia, has added a new theaters today. achievement award too!
animation category to the
mix (www.blueridgeswvafi
_____________ lm.
org).
__

25 Get out your credit card


and get ready to spend, spend,
27-May 2 If
you happen to be in southern
28-May 3
Hangzhou is the place to be
28 Director Terry Zwigoff
brings another famous Dan
spend: Some DVDs to consider: Germany, don’t for the Second China Int’l Clowes comic strip to the
American Dad, Vol. 1; forget to check Cartoon and Animation big screen in Art School
One Piece, Vol. 2; out the Stuttgart Festival (www.cicaf.com). Confidential starring Sophia
Little Einsteins: Team Int’l Festival of Myles and John Malkovich.
up For Adventure and Animated Film,
Inspector Gadget: and please taste the
The Original Series. local beer for us, Art School
OK? (www.itfs.de). Confidential

sgurman@animationmagazine.net
To get your company’s events and products listed in this monthly calendar, please e-mail ________________________

4 April 2006 ANIMATION MAGAZINE www.animationmagazine.net

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BOOKS WE LOVE by Sarah Gurman

by decade animator Art Leonardi and oodles of fun


Pink Panther: The from the 1960s facts and cool cat eye candy in between,
Ultimate Guide to the on (MGM’s Beck’s resource book really gets to the
recent live- heart of why the rosy rascal has had
Coolest Cat in Town action release such a lasting impact in pop culture. This
By Jerry Beck gets some tome also gives fab Panther co-stars like
(DK Adult, $24.99) attention, and the Ant and the Aardvark, Misterjaws and
FRAME-BY-FRAME

there’s also the Inspector their due page time and is


Animation historian and guide an interview really a much-needed accompaniment
extraordinaire Jerry Beck (The Animated with the new to the new MGM DVD release, The Pink
Movie Guide, Looney Tunes: The Inspector Clouseau, Steve Martin.), Panther Classic Cartoon Collection
Ultimate Visual Guide) has delivered a detailing the history behind Panther featuring 124 toons (13 hours) as well as
comprehensive account of the exploits films, comics, cartoons, memorabilia and documentaries about the durable classic.
and wonders of our favorite pink feline the Depatie-Freleng Studio. Featuring And let’s not forget DK’s Pink Panther
over the past 40 years. The book breaks a forward by director Blake Edwards, Ultimate Sticker Book ($6.99)—come on,
down the panther’s comings and goings intro by David DePatie, an afterword by over 60 stickers and they’re reusable! Q

Samurai 7 Ready to BKN Unmasks Zorro


Rumble in Hi-Def A nimation company/distributor
BKN has acquired exclusive
by Sarah Gurman rights to produce and distribute
a new TV series and home-video

S amurai 7,
FUNima-
tion’s anime of
Kirara the water
priestess,
younger
her
sister
feature based on the classic Zorro
character. The deal with Zorro
Prods. will see the masked Latino
epic propor- and fellow villag- avenger brought to modern times
tions, is set to ers Komachi and with 26 animated episodes and a di-
debut March 1 Rikichi set out to rect-to-DVD movie tentatively titled
for American recruit any re- Zorro: Generation Z.
audiences on maining samurai Zorro’s trusty steed will be replaced by a sleek, black motorcy-
ANIMANIA HD to fight the cy- cle as college freshman Don Diego rights wrongs in a modern-day
and will hit the borg oppression. city patterned after Los Angeles. No longer relying on his swords-
cable airwaves The 26 high- manship and athletic abilities alone, our hero reportedly will use
via IFC on April 1. def episodes of high-tech gadgets including a Z-Pod and a Z-phone.
Putting a sci-fi Samurai 7 pro- BKN, which will also handle worldwide merchandising and li-
spin on Akira duced by GONZO censing for Zorro: Generation Z, will be presenting the $8.4 million
Kurosawa’s Digimation will series and movie at MIPTV in Cannes this April. The company re-
1954 classic movie Seven Samu- expand ANIMANIA HD’s audience cently entered the home entertainment and new media distribu-
rai, the series visits a desolate vil- to young-adults 14-18, airing for tion market with the formation of BKN Home Entertainment Ltd in
lage in the future where the inhab- one hour every Wednesday as part the U.K. and BKN Home Entertainment Inc. in the U.S. The slate of
itants are struggling to recover of the new “Animayhem” program- animated feature films to be produced for distribution include Ali
from a massive war while fending ming block. For IFC, the honor-de- Baba and the Forty Thieves, Kong II - Return to the Jungle, A Christ-
off the attacks of hybrid Nobuseri fending property will help build on mas Carol, Robin Hood, Jungle Book, Jack and the Beanstalk, The
bandits. The Nobuseri are former the theme of the network’s lon- Prince and the Pauper, The Three Musketeers, Gulliver’s Travels,
Samurai who merged their living gest running film strand, “Samurai Alice in Wonderland and The Nutcracker. The company will also
cells with machines during the war Saturdays.” Q handle DVD releases for the full BKN catalogue, including such
to create weapons and have now Samurai 7 airs Wednesdays at 9 p.m. new TV series as Legend of the Dragon, Kong—The Animated Se-
become corrupt with power. In a on ANIMANIA HD. It premieres on IFC ries and Dork Hunters from Outer Space. Q
desperate move to save their land, April 1 at 10:30 p.m. —Ryan Ball

6 April 2006 ANIMATION MAGAZINE www.animationmagazine.net

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The Dream
Life of Brozers
Ancient culture inspires an
Aboriginal original.
by Ramin Zahed
FRAME-BY-FRAME

A n adventure-packed surfing trip Down


Under could have far-reaching inspi-
rational effects beyond expectations.
Just ask French brothers Jerome and Cyril
de Baecque, who came up with the idea
for their beautiful animated project The
Rainbow Snake during an Australian ad-
venture in 2000. “We discovered the Ab-
original art on display at the Sydney Mu-
seum and literally fell in love with it,” says stage of development and are ready to squash animation. Character animation
Jerome de Baecque. “That was the start- start pre-production. and foregrounds will be in CG, while most
ing point. Then we embarked on two years Set in the great plain of Papunya, The backgrounds will be in 2D and some se-
of research, which included reading many Rainbow Snake centers on 10-year-old quences will involve hand-painted ele-
books about the culture and meeting with twins Manoa and Djebek, who became or- ments in the style of Aborginal dot
people in the art world.” phans when their parents were trans- paintings.”
Jerome joined forces with screenwriter formed into rocks. Upon receiving a tele- Jerome notes that ancient Aboriginal
Mathilde Annaud (daughter of noted pathic message from their parents, they tales and legends have inspired the story-
French director Jean-Jacques Annaud) to embark on a journey across Australia to line and the culture’s paintings and sculp-
flesh out a satisfying storyline based on find the ancestral spirit of water (the tures have influenced the design. “This
Rainbow Snake) to save their clan culture is the oldest surviving form of
from a terrible drought. spiritual art in the world,” he adds. “For
In 2003, the brothers launched 60,00 years it has been passed on from
their company Brozers Inc. in order one generation to the next. Today the Ab-
to develop The Rainbow Snake, as origines are trying to save their heritage
well as another film titled Trouble- through the distribution of their paintings
makers. They are also working on around the world. We hope that our film
other projects for TV, such as the will help their cause.” Q
CG-animated show Kongzi, which For more info, visit www.brozers.com
the rich Aboriginal ethnology and culture. they will take to MIPTV
“It took us over three years and around 20 next month. In March,
versions, because we wanted to create a they will present their Hot Discs
story for children that is fun and dynamic, feature project at the
but one that also expressed the richness Cartoon Movie event in Animated
and specificity of the culture.” Germany to seek poten-
1. The Lady and the Tramp:
The team moved on to the design tial European partners.
50th Anniversary Ed. (Disney)
stage last year with the aid of Pascal Val- “At this stage, we don’t
des, a talented veteran of the business, have a set budget, but 2. Wallace & Gromit: The Revenge of the
Were-Rabbit (DreamWorks)
who also served as the art director on we think it will be around
Christian Volckman’s acclaimed CG-ani- 10 to 15 million euros,” 3. Ultimate Avengers: The Movie (Lions Gate)
mated feature, Renaissance. “Since he says Jerome. “We see 4. Bambi II (Disney)
joined our team and discovered this amaz- the production as a 5. Howl’s Moving Castle (Disney)
ing culture, he’s also hooked,” adds Je- Toon-shaded CG feature
rome. “Now after spending four years, we and are aiming for high-
Source: amazon.com, 2/21/06
have brought the film to an advanced est level of stretch-and-

8 April 2006 ANIMATION MAGAZINE www.animationmagazine.net

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CONFERENCE MAY 9-11 EXPOSITION MAY 10-12 L.A. CONVENTION CENTER

Three Days That


Could Change Your Year.
One place. One entire industry waiting for you. One dynamic educational program
WHERE BUSINESS GETS FUN

that will guide you toward the most promising opportunities within the interactive
entertainment industry today. It's the E3 2006 Conference Program.
Industry executives and renowned creative talent will share their knowledge
and views of the future, and supply you with tips and strategies to perfect your
business plans and keep you one step ahead of the competition. Whether you’re
a designer, manager or strategist, there are more than 30 sessions covering a
wide variety of topics specifically designed to meet your needs and interests.
And that’s not all. The exhibit floor is where you will see all the newest computer
and video game products and technologies that the industry has to offer.
Register today for the E3 Conference Program.
2006 Three days that could change your whole year.

REGISTER ONLINE W WW.E3EXPO.COM


___________________________

E 3 is a trade event and only qualified industry professionals may attend. No one under 18 will be admitted, including infants.
Visit www.e3expo.com for registration guidelines.

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The Hash Inc. booth attracts a flock of


inquiring minds at the Game Center opening.

AI’s Got Game

Photo credit: Shahla Bebe


The Art Institute of California-Los Angeles puts education
in play at Game Center. by Ryan Ball

S
trengthening its commitment to game Game Center houses the tools and technology demonstrated what a handful of students can
art and design education, The Art Insti- for students who want to do extra research and accomplish on a shoestring budget and a tight
tute of California-Los Angeles recently preparation to get ahead of the game before en- schedule that would make any developer cringe.
opened the Game Center, a state-of-the-art fa- tering the work force.” And while the quality of the graphics and design
cility where students can play the latest titles For the technology partners involved, the level displayed could easily be passed off as pro-
and prepare to bring tomorrow’s hottest games Game Center provides an opportunity to get fessional product, it served as a mere taste of
to the masses. The Jan. 26 opening ceremony their products in students’ hands and forge cru- the talent that is going to be issuing forth from
was well attended by both students and indus- cial relationships with up-and-coming game tal- the program in the coming years.
try professionals who got a look at the latest ent. PC Unlimited president Allen Hodjat com- One of the on-going activities of the Game
developments and a glimpse of what’s in store ments, “We are building advanced workstations Center is the Animation 21 Lecture Series, which
for students eager to enter the lucrative world tailored directly to professional animators, video brings game, animation and digital filmmaking
of interactive entertainment. editors and game developers. The Game Center professionals and celebrities together ten times
The day-long event started with an exposi- puts us in direct contact with students and pros a year to discuss their craft. According to Game
tion of new hardware, software, games and of the game development field, helping us to Center industry liaison Bijan Tehrani, a host of
technology presented by Game Center partners better understand their needs, and in turn, build other special programs will be added to the mix.
and sponsors. Company representatives from more advanced systems.” “We are planning several events for the Game
such industry leaders as AMD, Autodesk Inc., IGDA Los Angeles chapter coordinator Jeff Center,” he notes, “including a festival of best
Avid Computer Graphics, Luminetik Animation Lander adds, “The excellent equipment and fa- game animation, a game industry job fair, new
GAMES

Studios, Nvidia Corp., Seagate Technology and cilities at the Center give stu- game launch events and ‘A
wondertouch were on hand to talk shop and dents and members the ability to Touch of GDC’ to show the best
share their latest offerings while students get hands-on experience with of the Game Developers Con-
seized the opportunity to network. Other partici- the tools used by the studios on ference in one day in L.A.”
pating companies include SilverStone, Tyan high-end productions. I look for- Commenting on the over-
Computer Corp., ViewSonic, International Game ward to seeing some amazing re- whelming turnout for the expo
Developers Assn (IGDA), Motion Analysis Corp., sults from this collaboration.” and ribbon cutting, dean of
nPower Software, PC Unlimited, Peachpit Press, Following the expo, guests academic affairs Vi Ly enthus-
Pioneer (USA) and F. Dice. toured the new facility, which es, “I was so elated to see the
“We are honored to have so many prestigious boasts a fully functional motion- industry support at The Art In-
partners for the Game Center,” says Laura Sol- capture studio featuring top-of- stitute’s Game Center opening.
off, president of The Art Institute of California – the-line cameras and other It is evidenced that such a cen-
Los Angeles. “All of the tools they have contrib- equipment donated by Motion ter is needed for the next gen-
eration of gamers, and we
hope our small, efficient center will become an
“In addition to what our students learn in the classroom, essential and integral part for future game de-
signers.”
the Game Center houses the tools and technologies for “It was great to finally see the culmination of
all the hard work and planning that went into the
students who want to do extra research and preparation to development of the Game Center,” adds Eric T.
get ahead of the game before entering the work force.” Elder, academic director for the Game Art & De-
sign program. “It was great to get all the positive
--Laura Soloff, president of The Art Institute of California--Los Angeles feedback we received about the event and this
new resource we have created.”
Free membership to the Game Center is avail-
uted to our school provide a tremendous benefit Analysis Corp. There was also a private screen- able to students of The Art Institute of California
to the students in our Game Art & Design and ing of work by Game Wizards, the student game – Los Angeles, members of the IGDA L.A. chapter
Media Arts & Animation programs. In addition to development team at the Los Angeles campus and industry professionals. To apply, contact Bi-
what our students learn in the classroom, the in Santa Monica. An impressive presentation jan Tehrani at (818) 613-4227 or _______
btehrani@dljl.

10 April 2006 ANIMATION MAGAZINE www.animationmagazine.net

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____________

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Five Game Animation Trends to


Watch For
by Ryan Ball

W
hen one Run-time technology states. “It all depends on what you’ve done—the angle, the
compares an speed of your body, the strength of your body, everything. It’s
arcade classic Gamers who spend any amount of time with one title are not a matter of triggering animation #42.B or something.”
like the original Donkey sure to start noticing the same canned animations cycling NaturalMotion believes euphoria and run-time technology
Kong to something like through, whether it's a devastating sword blow, a sick with revolutionize the way players respond viscerally to any
Peter Jackson’s King Kong: skateboard wipeout or a gut-wrenching wrestling take-down. given game. “The obvious effect,” say Torsten, “is that the
The Official Game of the This issue is being dealt with by NaturalMotion, whose quality of the animation and interactivity is much higher, but
Movie, it’s obvious that endorphin is the only character animation software to utilize we think there’s something even bigger there. For the first
video game animation has Dynamic Motion Synthesis, a technology based on artificial time you have these unique game moments where you say,
come light years in just a intelligence controllers that essentially allow characters to “wow, I’ve just seen something that I know has never happened
couple of decades. As the animate themselves in real time. While endorphin is used before and is never going to happen again in the same way.”
game industry gradually heavily by in the motion picture industry, the company is The company will be demonstrating euphoria behind closed
rolls out the newest offering game makers a new product called euphoria, which doors at the Game Developers Conference (GDC) in March.
generation of consoles and promises to take animation out of the can and give gamers Michel Kripalani, games industry manager for Autodesk’s
titles, it's also clear that completely interactive characters for the first time. media and entertainment division, also identifies a shift from
there’s no limit to what “This is really a huge step for the company and for the pre-created animations to those driven by parametric sys-
artists will be able to do tems such as forward kinematics (FK) and inverse kinematics
GAMES

games as well, because you’re now moving away from having


in the interactive space as to pre-produce everything to actually (IK). “These technological im-
the tools and technology seeing things in real-time as they provements will give characters
get better and better. We happen on the screen” says more fluidity and animation op-
spoke with various industry NaturalMotion CEO Torsten Reil. The tions as the system will not be
professionals to get an idea best example he can cite is American stuck with a pre-defined set of
of what we can anticipate football games where all the tackles ‘baked’ animations,” he says. “Au-
in the next few years and currently have to be pre-animated. todesk is continuing to develop
what technical advances With euphoria, however, they can be high-end animation systems in
are driving the new done in real-time and will always look 3ds Max, Maya and MotionBuilder
milestones and challenges different. “Whenever a tackle happens through a variety of new tech-
in game animation. on screen, it's a unique tackle,” he nologies and techniques.”

Total-Performance Mo-Cap and grayscale processing of VICON’s MX 40 cameras has pushed motion-
capture to the point where character motion can be recorded with incredible
Motion-capture technology already plays a major role in video game accuracy and detail. “We can put tiny markers on the face and fingers and
animation, but we’re told that the industry is seeing a major shift in how larger markers on the body to capture a complete performance,” he says.
data needs to be captured for next-gen titles. “Game producers can now work with a motion-capture performer and elicit
“Next-generation games platforms are delivering graphics capabilities at full responses and emotions in the same way live-action film directors work
such a level that motion-capture in general and motion-capture of facial, with actors on set.”
full body and hands in particular has become crucial for game cinematic According to Damush, game and film customers are demanding higher
animation and more and more for in-game animation,” says Jon Damush, and higher camera counts to capture performances in greater detail. “A
VP and general manager of the entertainment division at VICON Motion games customer booking a job at our House of Moves motion capture
Systems. “Couple the requirements for increased realism with the fact studio, for example, has 100 VICON MX cameras that can be configured
that schedules are not getting any longer for getting for total-performance capture for any workflow,” he
content out the door, and you now have a real need notes. “There’s a new thinking for motion-capture
to capture entire performances at once. There’s no and for using it in non-traditional ways like capturing
longer time to motion-capture body, fingers and fa- a “beat box” in 3D to provide music sync for a karaoke
cial performances separately and put it all together game. The bar is being raised with more performers,
later.” more complex props and more interaction, again now
Damush boasts that the four mega-pixel cameras possible from a total-performance point of view.”

12 April 2006 ANIMATION MAGAZINE www.animationmagazine.net

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Facing the “Uncanny Valley” Keeping Up with


the Joneses (a.k.a
Autodesk’s Kripalani, tells us one of the key Graphics)
hurdles game developers will face and even-
tually overcome in the next five years will be As graphics get better
something called the “uncanny valley.” and polygon counts contin-
“The uncanny valley is the point at which a ue to rise, animation natu-
character becomes just close enough to photo- rally has to step up to the
real and believable that it actually looks sort next level, according to Edge
of creepy,” he says. “Viewers find these types of Reality’s Chad Hranchak,
of characters to be uncomfortable whether in who served as senior ani-
games or films, even if they are unable to put mator on Activision’s Over
their finger on why things feel odd.” the Hedge game, based on
“Back in the day, you had charac-
According to Kripalani, game artists will even-
ters that were just blocks
tually climb out of this gorge with improvements
and you accepted them as
in the subtle nuances of character animation
blocks and that was okay.
and facial expressions, as well as more convinc-
But I think the player really
ing hair and cloth.
wants to feel who they’re
We have seen issues regarding the uncanny
playing now and, obviously,
valley phenomenon before in regards to the
animation’s going to play a
motion picture industry. The creepiness some
huge role in that.”
viewers detect in photrealistic characters may
On the Over The Hedge
have contributed to the failure of the CG feature
game, Hranchak says there
Final Fantasy: The Spirits Within from Square
was a lot of going back and
and Sony Pictures. Some moviegoers has simi-

GAMES
forth with co-workers to
the upcoming DreamWorks Anima-
have other people feel out his work.
tion feature. On this front, he says
“Instead of just trying to accomplish
the human factor is perhaps more
a jump or attack, you try to figure
important than technology.
out what makes it feel different
“One of the biggest things I’m
from all the other characters,” he
seeing is the need to emphasize
says. “We had four main characters
the character as a real character
on this game, for instance, and each
lar reactions to Warner Bros.’ The Polar Express, and letting the player really con-
one had to do all of the same moves
which employed ImageMovers’ performance- nect with that [person], almost on
but each had to feel like their own
capture system. a personal level,” Hranchak remarks.
little guy.”

The DVD Factor for actual TV and film clips increase, more games are being done
using animation. “We have produced several DVD Board Games where
In the 1980s Don Bluth’s laser disc-based Dragon’s Lair burst onto animation was the only way to bring it to life,” he comments.
the scene and introduced a completely different kind of gaming ex- B1 hopes to make a splash in the online game realm as well with
perience. Today’s equivalent is perhaps the emergence of the DVD plans to develop web-connected HD DVD games. Currently, the
board game, which creates yet another outlet for interactive anima- company is working on games based on FOX’s 24 and CBS’s Amazing
tion. Since the movie trivia game Scene It blazed the trail, we’ve seen Race. Meanwhile, one of its competitors, the similarly named b-Equal,
a number of contenders enter the market, which is rapidly expanding has licensed the DreamWorks Animation franchises such as Shrek
judging by the number of DVD board games unveiled at this year’s Toy and Over the Hedge for DVD board games that will also feature new
Fair in New York. animation.
Animation plays a significant role in our games,” says Brian Johnson, With video games sales currently in a slump, this might just be the
CEO of B1 Games. “We always strive to enhance the original property right time for DVD titles to move in and capture a bigger chunk of
with animation. In the case of our X-Men DVD board game, we are the home entertainment market. But don’t count the first-person
taking existing comic books and giving them motion. We have an in- shooters and RPGs out. As game animation continues to improve, it
house creative staff of over 80 people bringing can only increase the demand for experiences
these images to life using Illustrator, Combustion, that pull people out of reality and immerse
After Effects and Maya.” them into brave new worlds that only stings
Johnson goes on to say that as license fees of zeros and ones can create. Q

www.animationmagazine.net ANIMATION MAGAZINE April 2006 13

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A Second Mammoth
Undertaking
The speed of development and animation on Fox/Blue
Sky’s Ice Age 2: The Meltdown was anything but glacial.
by Michael Mallory

T
he makers of Ice Age 2: film,” says Fox Animation
The Meltdown (Fox Anima- president Chris Meledandri.
tion and Blue Sky Studios) “We believe that the first
want you to know that they are film had an enormous audi-
not presenting a story ripped ence who really loved it, and
from today’s headlines. Despite we wanted to follow up with
what many reviewers are des- a film while it was still in
tined to read into the film when their consciousness.”
it is released March 31, the story Meledandri adds that the
of a pack of fur-clad heroes who studio also wanted to main-
struggle for survival through a tain the March release win-
globally warming, rapidly chang- dow that Fox Animation
FEATURE

ing and suddenly dangerous staked out with the first Ice
world is not a deliberate parallel Age and now virtually owns.
of our own recent hurricane-and (And, truth be told, Robots
tsunami-born disasters. savvy about the process of making an ani- ran a bit over schedule, carrying the crew
“It’s a cartoon!” laughs executive produc- mated feature, is something of a miracle with it.) Still, eight months to animate a
er Chris Wedge. “If you go to this movie with birth. The film, which brings back the dis- feature?
the expectation of seeing a lot of sharp parate tribe from 2002’s Ice Age—Manny Granted, the characters were already de-
critical allegory about what’s going on in the mammoth (voiced by Ray Romano), Di- veloped and modeled, but that was the ex-
our world today, you may be disappointed.” ego the sabertooth (Denis Leary) and Sid tent of the re-use factor. The world of Ice
Adds producer Lori Forte: “We definitely the sloth (John Leguizamo)—and adds new Age 2 is considerably different than the
did not go into it saying, ‘Let’s do a story characters Ellie (Queen Latifah), a lady pristine, almost austere glacial environ-
that’s relatable to global warming’. But mammoth who thinks she is a possum, and ment of its predecessor. “The first movie
once you set up an ice age, you have to Eddie and Crash (Josh Peck and Seann Wil- was more of white blues than browns,” says
start thinking about what’s going to hap- liam Scott), her two gonzo adoptive broth- director Carlos Saldanha. “For this one we
pen to all of your characters once all this ers who really are possums, was complete- added a layer of green to it. We have forest,
ice melts.” ly animated in eight months. grass, flowers, elements that will take you
As they used to say in Hollywood: If you The rush was in part to make sure that a little more to a springtime feeling, which
want to send a message, call Western the memory of the original Ice Age did not added a little more of the complexity to the
Union. What Ice Age 2: The Meltdown does melt from moviegoers’‚ minds. “We wanted look and took away a little bit of the sim-
represent, particularly for those who are to remain within four years of the original plicity of the graphic quality.”

14 April 2006 ANIMATION MAGAZINE www.animationmagazine.net

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De SIGN by de SÉVE
Animated features normally
employ an entire staff of charac-
ter designers, but that tradition
has been shattered by Ice Age
2: The Meltdown, for which com-

Photo credit: Greg Preston


plete control over character de-
sign was entrusted to just one
artist: Peter de Séve.
An illustrator for books (Finn
McCoul) and cover artist for New
Yorker magazine, de Séve’s first
foray into animation was Disney’s Hunchback of Notre Dame.
Since then he has worked on such films as Mulan, A Bug’s Life,
and Finding Nemo. But it was with 2002’s Ice Age that de Séve
first went solo.
“I was one of a few designers who were invited to work on
Ice Age 1,” he says. “After a few months of sketching for Chris
Wedge, I found that I was the only character designer on the
film.” Not only did the artist relish seeing his designs “undilut-
ed by the melting pot process that had been the norm on
other films,” but he was able to go beyond the design stage
and work directly with the modelers, animators and riggers to
bring the characters to life.
For Ice Age 2, de Séve designed more than 20 new charac-
ters, including a few that were initially pitched for the first film
but were left on the drawing board. His biggest challenge,
though, was differentiating the look of Ellie, the female mam-
Chris Wedge Lori Forte Chris Meledandri moth, from that of Manny.
“We went back and forth
The simplicity of Ice Age’s story structure was maintained, just trying to get Ellie
though, with each of the characters having well-defined right,” de Séve says. “You

FEATURE
goals and/or problems. For Manny it is the possibility that his revise the eyes and do the
species will become extinct unless he can find a lady mam- eyelash thing, but at the

“ICE AGE THE MELTDOWN” TM & ? 2006 Twentieth Century Fox. All rights reserved.
moth, and when he does, he can’t stand her! Former antago- same time you don’t want
nist Diego has a more pressing problem (Hint: Cats hate wa- to be obvious about it. So
ter), while the Scrat is still governed by his Sisyphian deter- there are subtle things in
mination to open that infernal acorn. the shape of her silhou-
A concentrated effort was made across the board to re- ette. Manny is made up
tain the stylized look of the first film while taking advantage more of planes and straights, and she’s got more curves and
of the advancements in technology—fur technology, in in the way her wig is shaped, and her tusks, which are much
particular. “In the first film, the texture of the fur was paint- smaller.”
ed on millions of invisible cards, so it had a sleek kind of qual- Currently de Séve is help-
ity to it,” says character designer Peter de Séve. “Here there ing develop three more
were actually follicles grown onto them. The advantages are projects at Blue Sky, in-
it looks much more real; the disadvantages are it looks much cluding a concept of his
more real!” own, while awaiting the fi-
Naturally, the skills of the animators evolved as nal rendering of Ice Age
well. “There is some incredibly entertaining animation in this 2: The Meltdown. “I think
movie that I wouldn’t have dreamed of doing when we start- this movie is going to look
ed doing the first one,” says Wedge. Alias Maya 6.5 was great and I’m very proud to have been a part of it,” he says. Q
used for the character animation, while Blue Sky’s proprie-

www.animationmagazine.net ANIMATION MAGAZINE April 2006 15

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Carlos Saldanha

tary package CGI Studio was employed for rendering.


While necessitating tweaks in lighting, color and volume A Pre-hysterical Chat with
(de Séve notes that applying the new fur technology to
the existing model of Sid initially made him look obese.) John Leguizamo
the new fur technology allows for far greater realism in

I
how the hairy coats relate to wind and water and even nterviewing actor John
internal forces such as breathing. In one sequence, a baby Leguizamo, who returns in
mammoth’s panicked breathing and the way her fur re- Ice Age 2: The Meltdown
acts to it creates a stunning effect. as the voice of the sibilant
The character who enjoys the most fur-to-element con- scene-stealer Sid the sloth,
tact is the Scrat (voice, er, utterances provided again by is like talking with an entire
Wedge), whose Buster Keatonish-mishaps intersect more cast. One second he’s
closely this time around with the main storyline of the John, and the next he’s the
mismatched nomadic family. “The fur itself became a clipped British narrator of
character we could animate,” says Saldanha. the documentary on sloths
The entire production team has nothing but praise for that he used for research;
and occasionally amazement at the hardworking Blue Sky then he’s Sid with his tongue being pulled out, for an Ice Age 2 tie-
crew, which included supervising animators Mike Thurmei- in talking toy; and then he’s a studio marketing wonk who, after 15
er, Jim Bresnahan and Galen Chu, lead animator David Tor- cups of coffee, dreams up the promotional stunt that will soon put
res, art director Tom Cardone, fur supervisor Eric Maurer him atop an iceberg in Alaska. (The stunt is apparently real, though
the caffeinated exec is the product of Leguizamo’s Energizer Bunny
FEATURE

and effects supervisor Rob Cavaleri, who was responsible


for channeling the film’s vast supply of water. (The effects imagination.)
animation also had to be completed within that eight- Creating wild, funny characters is the actor’s stock in trade, and Sid
month production period.) is one that he loves. “We have an amazing chemistry between the
“At the end of achieving every milestone it was a very three of us [he, Ray Romano and Denis Leary],” Leguizamo says. “It’s
emotional moment because I could see how much people so hard to come up with characters that have a really good chemistry
cared about this movie,” Saldanha says. “They put every and good interlocking neuroses” For Ice Age 2, he says that Sid finally
drop of blood into this movie because they believed in it.” feels like he is part of the surrogate family, but the part that is usually
In one sense, Saldanha adds, the schedule turned out to overlooked. “Sid feels like the middle child, the one that can’t get
be a good thing creatively. “Not having the luxury to wander noticed: He spends the whole movie trying to prove himself and stand
around makes you go with your gut feeling more,” he says. “I out.”
think at that level, maybe some of the stuff came out better In addition to the aforementioned tongue-pull toy, Leguizamo has
than if I had milked it to the last minute.” Still, he laughs and also lent his Siddian lisp (which he developed after learning that actual
says, “I don’t want them to make this a trend!” Q sloths store food in their mouths) to a wide array of other products
Michael Mallory is a Los Angeles-based journalist who and TV spots—unlike the situation from the first Ice Age outing. “Last
specializes in animation and visual effects. time [Fox] didn’t know they had a hit on their hands, so there weren’t
enough toys,” he says. “Now we’ve got Burger King behind us and a
Fox releases Ice Age 2: The Meltdown in theaters ton of toys and video games!”
nationwide on March 31. For more info, visit www.
____ Who knew a sloth could be so industrious?
iceagemovie.com.
_____________ —Michael Mallory

16 April 2006 ANIMATION MAGAZINE www.animationmagazine.net

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Gankutsuou: The Count of


Monte Cristo

was pared down to 26 weeks. This explains


the high-octane action level of the series as
did his having earlier animated another west-
ern-lit-inspired series, based on Robert Louis
Stevenson’s Treasure Island.
While Dezaki’s visual style will be immedi-
ately recognizable to fans of his work, the
West Meets East: look of Gankutsuou: The Count of Monte Cris-
to looks like no anime anyone’s ever seen.
Thoughts on America and Like Hakugei, it’s a 26-part series that gives a
science fiction twist to Alexandre Dumas’
the New Anime Wave novel, while retaining much of the plot and
the characters. The striking look, however, is
the result of the collaboration between Gonzo
by Patrick Drazen Digimation and Asian-American fashion de-

I
t’s a sign of the times. More anime produc- novel, was approached by Shueisha Publish- signer Anna Sui.
tions in Japan are showing signs of west- ing to write a how-to guide for anime direc- “I visited Gonzo Digimation in Tokyo during
ern involvement. Some believe that the tors. our Anna Sui fragrance launch in Japan,” Sui
new presence of American co-producers is “I tried to create a story and write a book says. “We had just done a comic book collabo-
coloring the innate Japanese flavors of these that used it to explain the flow of production ration with Dark Horse Publications in the
productions, while retaining their unmistak- from conception to screenplay and story- United States and the use of my original de-
able style and quirks. boards all the way to animation,” Dezaki ex- signs made the characters quite fashionable.
Two series are based on western literary plains. “Doing that, I tried to deal with Moby When Gonzo Digimation approached me with
classics with a science fiction twist. Hakugei: Dick again, but for various reasons I thought the concept of combining forces, this seemed
Legend of the Moby Dick time-warps from I’d try giving it a science fiction flavor. After to be a natural progression to go from the
Herman Melville’s Moby Dick to a future where that, producer Tetsuo Katayama who I go way printed page to a full-motion video anima-
“whale hunters” are salvage astronauts who back with was like, ‘You went to all the trouble tion.”
FEATURE

round up derelict starships (occasionally of making up the project, so...’ So I got up my Designing “period” costumes, set in the fu-
stealing some of the cargo, giving them a enthusiasm and we decided to animate it.” ture but looking back to the 19th century,
reputation as pirates). The one-legged, eye- Dezaki planned a 39-episode run, which continued on page 20
patch-wearing Captain Ahab is the greatest
Hakugei:
whale hunter in the Nantucket Nebula, and Legend of the
this series tells of his hunt for the Moby Dick, Moby Dick
a whale-shaped prototype starship capable
of destroying entire planets. (Like many mod-
ern anime, there’s a hidden government agen-
da, so this whale hunt isn’t as simple as it
sounds.)
Hakugei, originally broadcast in Japan in
1997, is directed by anime veteran Osamu
Dezaki, an animator with experience on both
sides of the Pacific. Not only did he direct
various titles based on manga by Osamu Te-
zuka (most notably the Black Jack videos and
the 1980 Astroboy remake), he was also be-
hind one of the Rainbow Brite projects. Deza-
ki, who had previously tried to adapt Melville’s

18 April 2006 ANIMATION MAGAZINE www.animationmagazine.net

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_____________________________________________________

_______________________________

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IGPX

IGPX

West Meets East


continued from page 18 ronym (kinda) for “Immortal Grand Prix,” was merely in post-production. Hongo praised his
developed in 2003 by Sean Akins and Jason collaborators, who traveled to Japan monthly
was the biggest challenge for Sui. “The emer- DeMarco originally for a five-part animation for for meetings: “Sean and Jason are big fans of
gence of the so-called ‘dandy’ with the top hat Toonami. The CGI was done by Production I.G., anime and they really like what I make. It’s ac-
and cane made use of accessories as fashion the studio responsible for the classic Ghost in tually much easier to work with them than
statements. The widening of dresses, the the Shell. In 2004, DeMarco recalls, “We went companies I’ve been working with in Japan.”
gathering of fabric, the use of ruffles and the back [to Production I.G.] and said, ‘What if we Will west-east cooperation be the way of
belted waist all contributed to a new ‘look.’” made a show with you guys?’” Akins and De- the future? Stay tuned… Q
The third series, now showing in Cartoon Marco collaborated with director Mitsuru Patrick Drazen is a Chicago-based writer who
Network’s Toonami block, suggests yet an- Hongo, mechanical designer Kenji Teraoka and specializes in anime. He is the author of An-
other future: giant robots in a three-on-three Production I.G. writers to create the 13-epi- ime Explosion! The What? Why? & Wow! of
roller derby on a 60-mile ever-changing track. sode series—a rare case in which Americans Japanese Animation ($18.95, Stone Bridge
This concept, and entire idea for IGPX, the ac- participated in the creation of an anime, not Press).
FEATURE

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modeling and animating the human


Look Out, Godzilla. characters, since he’d had little
experience with photo-real people. He

Here Comes Negadon! tells us he wanted to bring a degree of


exaggeration to the models without
going to the extremes that Manga
often does. “It was difficult to find the
New film brings CG to the classic Japanese monster movie.
well-balanced point,” he notes. “It took
by Ryan Ball a lot of trial and error to get it right.”

I
f you’ve seen Godzilla: Final Though he’s surprised by all the
Wars or any other recent attention Negadon has been
entries in the giant monster getting, Awazu feels a lot of it has
genre known as “Kaiju,” you’ve to do with a growing public
no doubt noticed a lot more CG curiosity with Kaiju, an old concept
animation and digital effects but a new buzzword to many. The
creeping in to augment the genre has been recently parodied
traditional man-in-suit monster in music videos and live Kaiju
brawls. But when Hollywood’s wrestling matches have become
attempt at replacing the clunky popular in certain hipster circles,
rubber costume with a CG but he believes that Japanese
Godzilla failed, it seemed fans giant monster movies have slipped
would accept no substitute for into a state of decay and fans are
good, old-fashioned looking for the next big thing to
“suitimation.“ That is, until jumpstart things, much like
Negadon: The Monster From Godzilla needs a jolt of nuclear
Mars invaded the planet. power every now and then.
Negadon is the brainchild of Whether or not Negadon kicks
animator Jun Awazu, who set off a new era in Kaiju, it has
out to use computer animation captured the imagination of
to capture all the style and science-fiction and animation fans
nostalgia of a 1970s Japanese around the world who have caught
monster movie, even though he glimpses online and can’t wait to
feared resistance from the see more. The movie seems to
faithful. have tapped into something
“Regardless of recent progress Awazu identifies as “Kacchoii,” a

FEATURE
in visual effects by CG, many Japanese word meaning “cool.” He
Kaiju fans have a strong affection for in Japan. The 20-minute flick was remarks, “Kacchoii is a primitive
traditional suitimation, marionette-like picked up by ComixWave for worldwide feeling—one which Japanese kids use
props and miniature work,” Awazu tells distribution and was recently acquired as the most important criteria in
us. “So, I thought they might either by leading anime distributor Central selecting toys and TV programs.”
welcome this all-CG work as the birth Park Media for theatrical and home Released theatrically in Japan in
of new Kaiju movie, or criticize it as video release in North America. October of 2005, Negadon won the
blasphemy to the tradition. The result As with any “overnight” success, Outstanding Production Award at the
was that many of them accepted it Negadon was a long time in the making, 20th Digital Contents Grand Prix and
because the CG reproduced the 28 months to be exact. Awazu did it all was named a Jury Recommended Work
excellent points of the traditional himself on a PC using Autodesk’s 3ds at the 2005 Japan Media Arts Festival.
techniques.” Max 5.1, Adobe/After Effects 6.5 Set for release in the U.S. theatrically
This mixture of old-school charm (Professional Version), and a few choice this spring and on home video this
and the latest advances in Japanese plug-ins including Digimation’s Shag summer, the film is sure to open many
animation paid off for Awazu as word for hair, Red Giant Software’s Knoll doors for Awazu, who hasn’t yet
of his film quickly spread around the Light Factory for reflection effects and decided what he wants to do next.
world with help from fanboy websites RE: Vision Effects’ Twixtor for frame- Judging by Negadon, however, we can
and enthusiastic reviews from those rate tweaking. be sure that whatever it is, it’s going to
fortunate enough to catch a screening Awazu says the hardest part was be totally Kacchoii. Q

www.animationmagazine.net ANIMATION MAGAZINE April 2006 21

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Viewtiful Joe

things and transform them into some-


thing uniquely their own. It dates back
to borrowing their writing system from
China in the 700s and extends to po-
etic forms and Buddhism, as well as
music, film, comic books and anima-
tion.”
“Japan and America are borrowing
from each other: it’s happening both
ways. I think it’s a product of importing
anime shows and having them become
hits,” agrees Bob Higgins, senior VP of
programming and production for Car-
toon Network. “Pokémon and Dragon
Ball started the trend; as they became
successful, you saw American produc-
ers taking influences from them. Con-
versely, you’re seeing more American-
ized storytelling and character design

A Cultural Give and Take in Japanese animation. If you look at


Dragon Ball, then at new series like Na-
ruto and One Piece, you can see the
difference.”
The real world could learn a few lessons in harmonious co- The heroines of Cartoon Network’s
existence and blending of cultures from animated series Hi Hi Puffy AmiYumi are based on pop
that glide easily between Asian and Western traditions. stars Ami Onuki and Yumi Yoshimura.
“Anime was just the beginning of Japa-
by Charles Solomon
nese culture to come to the United

A
slacker dude in cargo shorts Tokyo. “Viewtiful Joe is a perfect ex- States. Now J-pop culture and music
and multiple earrings gets a ample of cross-pollination, starting are poised to be the next big thing,” as-
magic watch that transforms with the title, which was conceived in serts series creator and executive pro-
him into a superhero; two Japanese English,” says Grant Moran, head writer ducer Sam Register.
pop stars pursue their careers in on the English version of the series. In the cartoons, Ami is upbeat and
brightly-colored, stylized animation; a “Most of the iconic movie realms Joe resourceful; Yumi is cooler and more
boy learns to control the elements of visits are American. There’s a ton of cynical. As they tour the world in their
FEATURE

fire, earth, air and water to fulfill his English in the original production, in- elaborate bus, they encounter every-
destiny and restore balance to the cluding his catchphrases, ‘henshin a thing from overly enthusiastic fans to
world; a beat-boxer with an Elvis pom- go-go, baby’ and ‘cheeseburger,
padour proclaims his imminent rise to please.’”
fame—in Tokugawa, Japan. When the Japanese animation in-
Which shows are Japanese and dustry began taking off in the
which are American? ‘60s, many of their characters
The first and fourth, Viewtiful Joe looked like they’d been hired
and Samurai Champloo, are Japanese; from Hanna-Barbera: Speed
the second and third, Hi Hi Puffy Ami- Racer resembled a young Tony
Yumi and Avatar the Last Airbender, Curtis. The current dialogue is
are from the U.S.A. All four illustrate more reciprocal.
the cross-pollination between Ameri- “People are recognizing
can and Japanese animators that’s that cross-pollination
producing some imaginative hybrids all doesn’t lead to an American-
over the digital landscape. ization of Japan,” comments
The scruffy hero of Viewtiful Joe Ian Condry, assistant
sports a goatee, a backwards baseball professor of Japanese
cap and a demeanor that suggests a cultural studies at MIT.
California skateboard park, rather than “The Japanese take Hi Hi Puffy
AmiYumi

22 April 2006 ANIMATION MAGAZINE www.animationmagazine.net

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Avatar: The Last


Airbender

vampire Goths and psycho- in Edo-era Japan. Jin, a taciturn


tropic sushi. The elegant, ronin, is an icy, deadly swords-
minimal designs owe more man. Low-life vagabond Mugen
to the UPA cartoons of the is equally dangerous, but his
’50s than to Japanese sourc- moves incorporate break dance
es. A dubbed version of Hi Hi spins and flips. Ditsy waitress
Puffy AmiYumi now airs on Fuu compels them to help her
Tokyo’s Oha Star block and search for a mysterious samurai
on Cartoon Network, so the “who smells of sunflowers.”
cycle is complete. Many of the trio’s adventures
If Puffy AmiYumi sug- are set to a hip-hop soundtrack.
gests a Japanese series “I believe samurai in the Edo
with American visuals, Nick- period and modern hip-hop art-
elodeon’s Avatar the Last ists have something in common.
Airbender feels like an Rappers open the way to their
American series in Asian future with one microphone;
trappings. A century after samurai decided their fate with
the Fire People began a war one sword,” Watanabe told the

Courtesy: Nickelodeon
of conquest against other The New York Times. “I’ve been
tribes, Katara, a young Wa- interested in hip-hop since it
terbender, and her brother first appeared: the fact that it
Sokka find a boy with a was born not in the music indus-
shaved head frozen in the try but on the street, the idea of
ice. When Katara revives using a turntable as an instru-
him, she discovers his name ment, singing vividly about real-
is Aang and that he is the last Airbend- though it doesn’t look or feel like any ity instead of typical love songs and its
er—and the long-lost Ava- of the other Nick cartoons. Paramount links to graffiti and dance.”
tar. released a first volume of episodes Condry notes that the cross-pollina-
Although Avatar fea- from the first season on DVD in Janu- tion has largely been restricted to the
tures a lot of pseudo- ary and will deliver a second package graphics and tone of individual series;
martial arts mumbo- on March 28. Samurai Champloo takes the cultural
jumbo, the charac- The most intriguing and com- mixing much further.
ters are pure plex example of the trans-Pacific “Watanabe used the idea of sam-
21st century cross-pollination is Samurai Cham- pling and remixing as part of the story-
America. Kata- ploo, from director Shinichiro Wata- telling technique in Samurai Cham-

FEATURE
ra, the nabe (Cowboy Bebop). An outra- ploo,” he concludes. “In Episode 8, when
l a s t geous mixture of martial arts the beat-boxer Nagamitsu talks about
member combat and hip-hop irrever- the famous samurai he could beat (in-
of her tribe to ence, Champloo cluding Jin), he’s actually sampling the
possess Water- brings to- names and images of actors from 70’s
bending skills, gether TV shows. Watanabe takes the idea of
is an assertive three sampling and remixing from hip-hop,
smart-mouth; mis- but he does the same thing the DJs do,
ineffectual doofus fits which is reinvigorate the work of an
Sokka supplies comic earlier era. In this case, it’s not music
relief. But the character but television. I think it represents an-
designs, the look of the series other way of thinking about cross-pol-
and the basic premise reflect lination, not in terms of look and feel,
the influence of anime. but in terms of technique and even
Samurai
Co-created and exec produced ideas of what creativity and originality
Champloo
by Michael DiMartino and Byran Koni- can mean.” Q
etzko, both of whom are fans of Asian Charles Solomon is a Los Angeles-
anime, the show premiered on Nickel- based animation expert and the au-
odeon on February 21, 2005, and has thor of The History of Animation and
developed a strong cult following, al- The Disney That Never Was.

www.animationmagazine.net ANIMATION MAGAZINE April 2006 23

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All Eyes Focus on managing director of TMS, one of the top


three anime houses in Japan.
The company produced three top-rated se-

Animated Japan ries in 2005 and increased its annual revenues


by 20 percent to a total of $138 million. TMS
is preparing to market one of the three new
Despite the shrinking air time on Japan’s terrestrial channels, projects—Mushiking—to American audiences.
anime continues to cast its global spell. by Tad Osaki Based on the popular Sega game, The King of
Beetles, the 52x30 series centers on a brave
group of forest beetles who fight against evil
TOKYO Although on Oscar night Hayao Mi- spirits in a futuristic setting. The company will
yazaki’s magical feature Howl’s Moving Castle offer Mushiking as well as two other anime ti-
faces tough competition from the claymated tles Angel Heart (airing on Yomiuri TV in Osaka
heroes of Nick Park and Steve Box’s Aardman since last August) and Fighting Beauty Wulong
feature and the otherworldly creations of Tim (TV Tokyo) to the MIPTV market next month.
Burton, the movie has already proved its fi- “The key to success in today’s frag-
nancial staying power. The film was released mented market is the anime house’s abil-
in Japan in November 2004 (followed by a June ity to increase synergy of manga, anime
2005 release in the U.S., courtesy of Disney) and gaming to win the hearts of overlapping
and has topped the 2005 Japanese box-of- demographic groups,” observes Yoshida.
fice list with $166 million in ticket sales. That However, this convergence has generated its
means Howl is following in the footsteps of own challenges. Satoko Sasaki, deputy direc-
Miyzaki’s Oscar-winning masterpiece Spirited tor of leading anime house Toei Animation Co.
Away (2001), which brought in $257 million says that game-anime conversion has made
and was the best-selling movie (in all genres) determining merchandising rights a much
in Japan. more complex field.
This year in Japan a new movie is poised A case in point is the Dragon Ball series,
to capture the same kind of attention. This one of Toei Animation’s hit properties, which
year’s hit sensation is Nippon Television Net- started its life as a video game, then was later
work Corp.’s Always: Sunset on Third Street, re-made after it hit the U.S. market. Determin-
directed by Takashi Yamazaki (Returner, Ju- Flashback: Takashi Yamazaki’s blockbuster ing the rights of a property in the gaming/an-
feature Always: Sunset on Third Street
venile), based on a popular manga published ime/TV series arenas remains a challenging
relies heavily on CG effects to recreate
in the biweekly magazine Big Comic Original 1950s-era Tokyo. task. Sasaki adds, “Broadband distribution has
by Shogakkan pub house. Perhaps because made the rights issue even more time con-
manga fans have been familiar with the comic ematography. People do go to see Hollywood suming.”
FEATURE

book since 1973, the movie has generated films for their CG effects ... but we can’t imi- Toei Animation, which is celebrating its 50th
over $28 million at the box office since it was tate the Hollywood style,” he says. anniversary this year, has 156 TV series and
released by Toho last November. It ranked sev- Always wasn’t the only manga-based prop- 202 anime features (a total of 4,300 hours) un-
enth in the list of Japan’s most popular movies erty capturing the attention of Japanese audi- der its belt. It’s now aggressively promoting the
of last year. ences last year. Kozueko Morimoto’s Gokusen current hit, One Piece, which airs on Fuji TV’s
The original manga by Ryohei Siagan chron-
icled the everyday lives of common people in
downtown Tokyo during the late 1950s and
“The lines that divide anime, manga and gaming are
was so popular that it inspired 45 volumes, more blurred now than ever.”
which sold millions of copies in the country. —Satoji Yoshida, TMS’s managing director

Not surprisingly, the film has been nominated


in 14 Japan Academy Award categories includ- series, which was adapted to a Nippon TV Sunday 7-7:30 p.m. slot, to the U.S. market.
ing best picture, director, screenplay, actor drama series in 2002 and 2005, inspired a new The show has found a devoted following both
and actress. animated project (by Madhouse), and garnered on 4Kids TV and Cartoon Network in the past.
A graduate of Tokyo’s Asagaya Art College, high ratings on TV. Other Toei titles doing well Stateside are Zatch
the 40-year-old Yamazaki told Variety last Some observers of the animated culture Bell and Bobobo-bo Bo-bobo (both on Cartoon
month that he believes his film is a new type scene in Japan note that it’s no longer easy Network’s sizzling Saturday night Toonami
of CG-animated feature. “The CG supports the to classify genres and media. “The lines that block) and Magical DoReMi (on 4Kids TV).
story—it’s not what people come to see,” he divide anime, manga and gaming are more Another major anime player in the country
explained. “It’s like the music or the color cin- blurred now than ever,” says Satoji Yoshida, is Nippon Animation, which is known for its

24 April 2006 ANIMATION MAGAZINE www.animationmagazine.net

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Big in Japan: Among the country’s hot animated titles—clockwise from top left—are Magical DoReMi (Toei), Angel Heart (TMS),
Cosette (Nippon), Mushiking (TMS), Gokusen (Madhouse), One Piece (Toei), Fighting Beauty Wulong (TMS), Penelope tete en l’air (Nippon)
and Bobobo-bo Bo-bobo (Toei).

Chibi Maruko Chan series of anime sitcoms Kurusu points out that anime houses are sales channels and also forming limited liabil-
and children’s picture books. Masao Kurosu, venturing into more co-production ventures ity partnerships (LLP) so creators can partici-
the company’s international director, believes to hedge the costs. “We need to nurture good pate in profit-sharing with small investments
there’s a scarcity of animated fare created for overall producers who are capable of planning, of their own. The project will run for four years
preschool audiences on Japanese TV. That’s coordinating with other financial resources beginning this month.
one of the reasons he is preparing a series of such as advertisers and co-producers and Yuji Mori, president of Think, explains that
five-minute episodes titled Penelope tete en combining all the necessary resources like he developed the LLP idea based on examples
l’air, based on the books by by Anne Gutman video and DVD sales,” he says. in the U.S. when he produced, with his execu-
and Georg Hallensleben, for release later this Besides the shortage of anime outlets on tive producer Hiroaki Takeuchi (former editor
year. Also in the works for 2007 is Miko and local TV, animation houses are also worried of Shonen Jump comic magazine,) a 22-minute

FEATURE
Mimiki, another five-minute series based on a about the next generation of artists. While Ko- project titled Hoshi no Koe for satellite TV in
German picture book by Brigitte Weninger and rea has over 130 college courses on anime and 2002. “That’s when we realized how important
Stephanie Roehe. manga-related subjects, there are few institu- the market test is for anime,” adds Mori. Help-
Nippon hit a snag in its attempt to co-pro- tions in Japan that offer similar training. Un- ing Mori with his project is former L.A.-based
duce Cosette, (an anime project based on like many other Asian and European countries, Warner Bros. and phuuz executive Ken Duer
Victor Hugo’s classic Les Miserables) with there are very few government subsidies and who has overseen the launch of titles such as
China’s CCTV a few years ago because of the protective measures for the local anime indus- Animatrix, Lupin the Third and Yu-Gi-Oh! Duel
SARS epidemic in addition to complex Chinese try in Japan. Monsters in the U.S.
regulations. The company plans to produce 16 To address this problem, the Tokyo Metro- More announcements about future animat-
episodes of Cosette on its own for a Japanese politan Government recently launched a new ed projects and features will be made at the
network and satellite TV and for distribution in program to nurture young anime creators, in Tokyo International Anime Fair (March 23-26),
Europe by this fall. association with the content-developing ven- which is estimated to bring 220 international
Many of the animation insiders in the coun- ture, Think Corp. The new Anime Innovation and local businesses and organization to the
try, however, note that it’s difficult to secure a Tokyo will prepare a $2.5 million fund to pro- city’s Big Sight venue. You can read more
spot on local terrestrial TV outlets for family- duce and globally distribute pilot versions of about the event and new Japanese projects
type anime shows. Even TV Tokyo which has new projects by young animators. Tokyo Met in the pipeline in the May issue of Animation
34 anime slots a week (mostly in primetime) Government will foot one-third of the fund Magazine. Q
has lowered the price it pays anime houses by while Think will operate the program and se- Tad Osaki is Animation Magazine’s Tokyo-
more than half of what the price used to be cure remaining coin from financial companies, based correspondent. He specializes in ani-
in its peak. recruiting anime for the project, developing mation and Japanese entertainment.

www.animationmagazine.net ANIMATION MAGAZINE April 2006 25

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Zodiac—The Race
Begins

“We received numer-


ous offers from world
buyers and we are still
negotiating other
deals,” said Benjamin
Toh, CEO of Cubix Inter-
national, the parent
company of Cubix Pic-
Benjamin Toh
tures. “We are confident
that we will be able to
successfully market the movie globally.”
Zodiac isn’t alone. On the strength of the in-
terest shown at Cannes, Cubix Pictures and Sin-
Is Singapore the New gapore’s Media Development Authority entered
into a five-picture deal worth $18.4 million. The

Toon Power Spot? second picture, Legend of the Sea, based on a


Chinese dragon fable, is already in production.
Singapore’s Economic Development Board has
by Patrick Drazen also entered into a ten-year, $593 million com-
mitment to expand Singapore as a center for

S
ingapore connoisseurs have long praised their content, building a world-class talent base, digital animation in television series and games
the beautiful island nation for its impres- investing in leading technology R&D activities as well as feature films.
sive skyline, its Esplande building, its ex- and encouraging financial institutions to manage Some heavy hitters are already taking notice.
quisite multicultural restaurants and its top- their digital media funds from Singapore. George Lucas has opened LucasFilm Animation
notch shopping centers. These days, however, Consider Cubix Pictures, makers of Singapore’s Singapore, a major CG production house and Lu-
the country located at the southern tip of the first CG animated feature, Zodiac—The Race Be- cas’ first outside the U.S. It’s expected to grow
Malaysian peninsula is out to make its name in gins. The movie, made in 18 months at a cost of to a staff of 300, producing films, television se-
CG animation, with three pricey features leading $2 million, is a loose retelling of a centuries-old ries and computer games. Japanese game com-
the charge. tale about the twelve animals of the Chinese lu- pany Koei has also recently set up shop in Singa-
The Singapore Economic Development Board nar calendar racing to see who would be first in pore, specifically to develop the online role-play-
(EDB) is investing $1 billion towards developing line. The film was offered at the Cannes Film Mar- ing games Nobunaga’s Ambition and Uncharted
the animation industry through 2018. The EDB ket in 2005 and, on the strength of a ten-minute Waters. Koei has to live up to its own impressive
will push ahead with key strategies such as at- trailer, deals were in place on the second day for catalogue of CG games. So does American
tracting more top-tier digital media companies distribution to countries as varied as Portugal gamemaker Electronic Arts, which also set up a
FEATURE

to set up shop in Singapore and encouraging lo- and Israel, Greece and Thailand, as well as the Singapore studio, mainly to adapt its catalogue
cal players with high growth potential to export Chinese mega-market. of titles to the Asian market.
Still, consumers will have the last word on the
success, globally or locally, of Singapore anima-
tion. Zodiac—The Race Begins opened, appropri-
ately, on the Chinese New Year weekend in Sin-
gapore, and, despite CEO Toh’s prediction that
“every Singaporean will leave the theater en-
lightened, entertained and proud,” reviews were
hardly unanimous. Angeline Chui of the Singa-

Cubix Pictures’ Zodiac-The Race Begins


follows the birth of the Chinese zodiac.
The feature was released on the Chinese
New Year weekend in Singapore.

26 April 2006 ANIMATION MAGAZINE www.animationmagazine.net

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A Chat with Gecko Master, Fong: First, it is the need


to find and train real talent
Nickson Fong to produce feature-film
pore site movieXclusive.com notes that Tell us how you came up with the idea behind Kungfu quality work. That’s not easy
the CG animation is good considering Gecko. because school doesn’t teach
“that this is Singapore’s maiden at- Nickson Fong: Growing up in Asia, I have always been you inspiration, creativity and
tempt at animation,” but the story “is fascinated by martial arts movies and ancient Chinese the relevant skills sometimes.
simply not risky or quirky enough” and craftsmanship. This interest, coupled with my many Nickson Fong Also, putting together a
“moments of endearing whimsy … come years of work experience in Hollywood animation and production pipeline in Asia
few and far between.” visual effects, led to the creation of this film project. comes with multiple challenges, because although the
There should be plenty of whimsy in The story goes back a thousand years ago to Ancient sector is growing rapidly, there is still a lot that needs
the third Singapore animated feature, China, capturing romance, adventure and humor in the development. Third, I am embarking upon the project of
with a title that says it all: Kung Fu worlds of the creatures and the humans. There is also setting up a renderfarm with Fujitsu primergy servers,
Gecko. The flagship film of Egg Story an amazing integration of architectural structures and integrating all 3 OS Win/Mac/Linux in production.
Creative Production, it’s a tale of three into nature’s landscapes. My hope is to use this rich Running an animation studio also has its complexities,
misfits—a toad, a cricket and the title background to unfold the adventures of these adorable where I am overseeing all the nitty-gritty of the business,
lizard—in an affectionate send-up of all animated characters. Our goal is to develop a clear as well as the technical aspects of the production.
of the now-familiar scenes and themes and unique project, to distinguish ourselves from U.S.
of Chinese martial arts films. Think of it mainstream movie efforts. In short, we want to create Q. What do you think about the animation climate in
as Crouching Lizard, Hidden Dragonfly. wholesome family entertainment by blending eastern Singapore right now?
Egg Story draws on more than a de- and western cultures using state of the art animation. Fong: I am hoping to work more closely with local
cade of experience by studio head In the end, we will breathe life into these characters. schools to train more CG artists and animators.
Nickson Fong, who studied computer Regardless of whether they are insects, reptiles or Manpower can be an issue, because it’s not easy to
art at Savannah College of Art and De- animals, they will be characters that the audience will find real talents who are technically adept as well.
sign, which he says back in 1991 was believe and remember. Also, our company, Egg Story, is pioneering in an
“the only place to learn computer art.” almost-unheard-of industry here. So we want to tell
Before returning to his native Singapore When did you start working on the film? people if you have a dream, you have got to pursue it

FEATURE
to found Egg Story, Fong worked on Fong: We were working on multiple projects at the and just do it.
Shrek at DreamWorks SKG, Starship same time. So actual time spent on Kungfu Gecko
Troopers at Sony Pictures Imageworks, would be around 12 months. Who are some of your influences/animation heroes?
the Matrix sequels at ESC Entertain- Fong: Spider-Man, Jackie Chan, Jet Li, Akira Kurosawa,
ment and The Scorpion King at Centro- How are you securing the financing for the film? Pixar’s The Incredibles, Sam Chong, Michelle Yeoh, Chow
polis Effects. At age 37, he’s earned a Fong: The project is currently in pre-sale. We are Yuen Fatt, Zhang Yi Mou, Quentin Tarantino—really too
global reputation in CG animation. presently in discussion with various distribution many to list!
If you asked this self-described companies and are exploring different kinds of financing
“geek” for the secret of CG animation such as co-financing/co-production agreements, as When did you realize you wanted to be an animator?
success, he’d say that there isn’t one. well as possible film grants. Fong: Long time ago, I was always doodling stick
The medium is so new and multi-disci- figures in the Bible during Sunday school and, with all
plinary that “there’s no standard way of How many people are working on the project? due respect, the Bible makes a pretty good flip-book.
doing things.” The key is to “know the Fong: Presently, we have a production team of 50
basics well (before you) pick one area people, and we are slowly expanding to meet our Do you have any other projects in development right
to focus on.” growing production requirements. now?
It’s interesting to note that back in Fong: There are several other projects being
the day, Fong’s focus was CG explo- What kind of CG software do you use? negotiated as we speak, but they are still in the early
sions. His Kung Fu Gecko may be the big Fong: Alias Maya, mental ray, Shake and Maxon’s stages. However, we will keep our fans continuously
bang that puts Singapore animation on Bodypaint. updated on the progress of our developments. For
the map. Q these updates, you can check our website _____
at ____
http://
What is your biggest challenge right now? www.eggstorycp.com. Q

____________
www.animationmagazine.net ANIMATION MAGAZINE April 2006 27

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By the Numbers
A few facts and figures from some of the major Asian animation markets:

CHINA
THE PHILIPPINES

•350,000 minutes: Amount of animation broadcast across


47 channels with three dedicated cartoon channels.
• Blooming Industry Estimates:
CCTV (China Central Television) estimates:
Year Workforce Revenue (US’M) Annual demand for original content: 79,000 minutes
2004 2,800 52 Potential airtime: 1.8 million minutes
2005 4,000 74
Total Investment in Animation for 2004: $36.2 million, an
2006 6,000 111 average investment $155 per minute
2007 10,000 185
2004 2005
2008 17,000 315 Number of series applying
2009 27,000 500 for production permission 163 424 = 260%
increase
2010 41,000 759
*Source: The Philippines Board of Investments •In 2005 over 90% of applications were greenlit and total
approved national production reached 575,718 minutes,
that’s 370% increase from 2004

JAPAN •Actual animation output for 2004 = 23,800 minutes, only


15% of approved animation was actually produced.

*According to 2006 China Media Yearbook and Directory (published


by China Media Monitor)
•Approx. 430 anime production houses
FEATURE

Anime Market Size (Film, TV and Video)


2000 159.3 billion yen
2001 186 billion yen KOREA
2002 213.5 billion yen
2003 191.2 biliion yen
*sales estimated to have grown in 2004 with the release of
Howl’s Moving Castle Amount of money invested in
animation: Approx. $ 325 million
•Around 60% of the anime shown worldwide is made
in Japan (according to a METI report issued in January
2004 300: Estimated number of companies producing
animation
•A 30-minute TV animation production generally costs
around 10 million yen TV Film Sell-Through

•Many animators are reportedly earning annual New Product 33 3 33


incomes of 10 million yen
Annual Exports: $76 million
•Japan’s first anime vocational graduate school is
scheduled to open in April 2006
* data for the 2003 Korean animation industry courtesy of KOCCA
*data from the Japan External Trade Organization’s Japan
Economic Monthly — Compiled by Sarah Gurman

28 April 2006 ANIMATION MAGAZINE www.animationmagazine.net

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in the winter of 2000 and the voices were


all recorded by the spring of 2001. Howev-
er, it took the patient artist almost five
years (and about $10,000) to realize his vi-
sion. “I was still putting the finishing
touches on the sound design a week be-
fore Sundance this year,” says the anima-
tor. “I got the film to them just before the
final deadline. The hardest part was creat-
ing the sets. Building the store alone took
me five months.”
Surprisingly, King is not a native of
Brooklyn, himself. In fact, he grew up in
Adam Parrish the suburbs of Knoxville, Tennessee. How-
King ever, he lived in New York for a number of
years and that experience fueled his proj-

Brooklyn Blues ect. “I was always interested in the little


glimpses you got of your neighbors—the
sounds you heard through the floorboards,
First-time animator Adam Parrish King impresses the the passing images through windows of
the apartment across the way. I wanted
Sundance crowd with his haunting stop-motion short, The to structure the story on one of those mo-
Wraith of Cobble Hill. by Ramin Zahed ments. The world of Brooklyn always in-
trigued me. It’s so full of history and

T
he Sundance Film Festival has a repu- TV shows and film projects. He also worked ghosts. Like the main character in the
tation for showcasing personal and on an interactive project at the Getty Mu- short, I also had a bunch of friends who
quirky tales about bewildered under- seum in L.A. were mischievous when I was growing up.”
dogs who find themselves at odds with “My background is in painting and sculp- It’s always interesting to see what a
the world at large. So it wasn’t a surprise ture,” says Parrish King on the phone from new talent takes away from the Sundance
to see Adam Parrish King’s painstakingly his home in the hipster-cool Silverlake experience. King says the whole festival
claymated 15-minute short, The Wraith of neighborhood of Los Angeles. “I just love thing was much better than he had ex-
Cobble Hill win the Jury Prize for Short the feeling of creating by myself, with pected. “I’m not into the business aspects
Filmmaking at the fest. good music on, in a small studio space. I of filmmaking, and I thought it was going
Parrish King’s black-and-white film cen- really enjoy the process, the sculpting, the to be a lot of slick producers, wheeling
ters on a neglected teen named Felix who way light hits the textures and the fabrics, and dealing. But it was a lot more down to
faces a moral challenge when the owner putting the things on the wall—all of it.” earth than I expected. By the end of it, it
of a neighborhood convenience store King says as a kid he was deeply af- was all about being around a community
leaves him in charge of his shop and his fected by the Rankin/Bass classic Rudolph of cinephiles, all appreciating each other’s
dog. Not only does the animator bring a The Red-Nosed Reindeer. “As I grew older, I works. I fell in love with a lot of the other
certain ’50s-era neorealistic quality to his discovered the Brothers Quay in high shorts—Brent Green’s Hadacol Christmas,
film, the character design will remind view- school,” he adds, “and I loved the way Bruce Alcock’s At the Qunite Hotel and
ers of some of the darker Aardman Aardman’s Creature Comforts combined Anthony Lucas’ The Mysterious Geograph-
shorts. documentary audio with animation.” ic Explorations of Jasper Morello.”
A graduate of USC’s Film School, Parrish The script for Cobble Hill was completed King says he’s in the early planning
King shot the film on 16mm and stages for his next project.
constructed the characters from He won’t divulge the de-
plasticine, latex, steel armatures tails, but he gives us a
and clay molds. He hand-con- clue. “Unlike Cobble Hill,
SHORTS

structed the sets and every item which is all black and white
used by the characters (from ice and greys, my next film is
cream and canned goods to whis- going to have the vivid col-
key bottles and comic books) in ors of life in the suburbs of
miniature. It took the animator Tennessee in the 1970s.”
more than five years to complete Hmmm, something tells
the project while he pursued his us this one is going to be
day job as a sound designer for autobiographical! Q

www.animationmagazine.net ANIMATION MAGAZINE April 2006 29

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Japanimation Hits Home Thoughts on anime’s global


popularity: It’s generally understood
that Japan has become a net cultural
exporter, rivaling the U.S. in its reach
Our reporter catches up with some of the top anime DVD and influence. Anime is only one
distributors in the U.S. to get their take on what’s hot in conspicuous example.
2006. by Thomas J. McLean Biggest Challenges in 2006: Media
fragmentation, new technologies, the

T
he first part of anime’s journey and it has a cool, completely unique “on-demand” revolution. However you
to the global cultural force visual style that stands well apart choose to frame it, we face the same
is complete. Having evolved from the norm for anime. Another is challenges as any content provider in
out of the niche of small fan clubs Diamond Daydreams, an anthology the digital age.
and conventions to cable network series following the stories of six young Favorite anime hero/heroine: Sosuke,
staple and perennial DVD success, the women in Hokkaido. the hero of Full Metal Panic, because he
industry is poised to face the next set Greatest hits to date: Apart from never loses sight of his mission.
of hurdles—many of which it shares Neon Genesis Evangelion, ADV may be Best use of anime in mainstream pop
with the larger entertainment industry. best known for Robotech. Bubblegum culture: The original Matrix incorporated
Facing flattening DVD sales, the Crisis 2040 is another signature title. many elements of what’s made anime
coming of high definition home video, Spriggan was a huge hit and Lady popular and did it flawlessly, which is no
new media and possible television Death, which we produced ourselves mean feat for a live-action movie.
overload, anime companies have a lot and released in the fall of 2004, was a How has TV exposure on outlets like
on their plate for 2006 and beyond. definite home run. Chrono Crusade was Cartoon Network and [adult swim]
Checking in with execs at top anime another all-time leader. helped the anime business in America?
companies reveals that while they Hot titles to look for in 2006: We’re Now that more outlets are carrying
share many of the same concerns and very happy with our release of Macross, anime, and the consumer no longer has
see many challenges the same way, one of the three original Japanese series to work so hard to find it, that’s brought
they also each have taken their own on which Robotech was based. We’re us a whole new kind of fan. In fact, I
path to success and have their own presenting this classic to American don’t think it’s a stretch to say that
points of view about what the future audiences for the first time with an anime has become mainstream and
will bring. English dub. there’s an incredible unmet demand for
Gilgamesh anime on TV.
ADV Films
Exec interviewed: Central Park Media
John Ledford, Exec interviewed: John O’Donnell,
president managing director
What are your What are your biggest sellers and
biggest sellers and why? For 2005: Grave of the Fireflies,
why? Neon Genesis because it is one of the finest animated
Evangelion. That’s John Ledford films ever produced; Yu Yu Hakusho:
hardly surprising, since The Movie — Poltergeist Report,
EVA is widely considered to because of the incredible
be the greatest anime series success of the Yu Yu Hakusho
of all time. More recently, television series; Kakurenbo,
our best selling series have because of its unique and
been the action thrillers original graphic style.
Gantz and Elfen Lied and Which of your titles do you
the comedy series Full Metal think is most deserving of wider
Panic? Fumoffu. recognition and why? Doggy Poo
Which of your titles do has received dozens of awards
you think is most deserving from film festivals, children’s
of wider recognition and programming groups, and
why? Gilgamesh is the first incredible reviews. No one who
Goth-inflected anime series has seen it has failed to be moved
to come to the States, by the heartwarming story.

30 April 2006 ANIMATION MAGAZINE www.animationmagazine.net

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Grave of
the Fireflies

HOME ENTERTAINMENT
so that they can save Lodoss Island. most deserving of wider recognition
Best use of anime in mainstream and why? Fighting Spirit. I am no boxing
pop culture: Kill Bill, Vol. 1 and The fan but it’s such a great title that
Animatrix. appeals to the part inside all of us that
How has TV exposure helped the wants to succeed and be the best.
Yu Yu Hakusho: Poltergeist Report anime biz in America? What are your greatest hits to date?
It has given the genre Samurai Champloo, Tenjho Tenge,
credibility, and raised Trigun, Appleseed and Hellsing.
the profile of anime to What are the hot titles to look for in
the point where mass 2006? Viewtiful Joe, Elemental Gelade,
merchants are willing to Law of Ueki, Hellsing Ultimate Series
carry the products. and GunXSword.
Thoughts on the anime’s global
GENEON popularity: The reason that anime has
Entertainment such a global appeal is that it targets
Exec interviewed: a broad spectrum of people and is not
Jason Alnas, marketing constrained by the notion that animated
manager features or cartoons are for kids.
What are your biggest Biggest challenges in 2006: One
Greatest Hits sellers and why? Appleseed was our of our biggest challenges is to find
to date: Record of No. 1 title for 2005 mostly due to its new ways to reach out to potential
Lodoss War, Grave of theatrical release. Samurai Champloo’s consumers.
the Fireflies, Project run on Cartoon Network led to its Favorite anime hero/heroine: Vash
A-ko, Dominion Tank success, along with its soundtrack the Stampede from Trigun. He’s a man
Police, M.D. Geist. and visual mix of Japanese tradition who tries his best to leave his past
Hot titles to and modern hip-hop that appeals to behind him by changing his motto to
John O’Donnell look for in 2006: the current teen audience. Trigun is “Love and Peace” and living his life as
Animation Runner a mainstay in anime and has held its carefree as possible. But in the end, he
Kuromi 2 was the big winner at the own for close to five, years due to the has to come to grips with who he was
Tokyo International Anime Fair last incredible story and its ability to appeal and stop running away from his past in
year. Munto 2, the first OVA was so well to core and non-core consumers alike. order to save his friends and himself.
received, that the fans in Japan prepaid Which of your titles do you think is What do you think is the best use
for the DVD of the sequel a year ahead of anime in mainstream pop culture?
of street date, to allow the production Helsing The best use of anime to date was
company to produce it! Negadon: The Robotech! How many of us watched
Monster From Mars, a tour-de-force CGI that on TV and had no idea it was from
homage to Japan’s “man in rubber suit” Japan?
monster movies of the ’50s and ’60s. How has TV exposure helped the
Thoughts on the anime’s global anime business in America? Cartoon
popularity: After decades of American Network has done wonders for anime
culture sweeping the globe, the time in America. Once people sit down and
has come for non-American cultures watch anime they realize how good it is.
(Japan, Korean, etc.) to claim Appleseed Tenjho Tenge I don’t know how many parents
their share of world attention. I have talked to when I attend
As the world becomes more anime conventions who tell
connected via the Internet, this me that they themselves got
sharing of local cultures will hooked on anime because
only increase. their kids were watching it on
Biggest Challenges in 2006: TV.
Getting ready for the launch of
High Definition DVD formats. Manga
Favorite anime hero/heroine: Entertainment
Parn in Record of Lodoss War. As Exec interviewed:
the leader of a ragtag group of Kaoru Mfaume, managing
warriors, he must unite the group director

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What are your biggest sellers and Biggest Challenges in InuYasha


why? Titles like Ghost in the Shell, Ninja 2006: We haven’t been as
Scroll, Blood, the Evangelion movies, X proactive with our fans
and Akira (in Europe) sell very well as and I feel that it’s time to
they represent the best of theatrical revisit and restructure this
Japanese animation, besides the particular area. Another
Miyazaki films. challenge that we all
Which of your titles do you think is face in this industry is the
most deserving of wider recognition fact that DVD sales are
and why? Dead Leaves, for its amazing slowing and new media is
animation production and fresh outlook an area that Manga will be
on Japanese anime; and Kaidohmaru for actively involved in.
its artistic style of portraying the Heian Favorite anime hero/
era beautifully with its pastille look. heroine: Kinnikuman,
Hot titles to look for in 2006: Karas because of the “meat” on his forehead! — The Movie 4: Fire
will be our strongest title for the year, Best use of anime in mainstream pop on the Mystic Island,
but as Naruto will be released by Manga culture: South Park, episode 801 (“Good that will be released
in the U.K., I feel excited about this as Times With Weapons”) is hysterical. on DVD in August
well. How has TV exposure helped the 2006. Naruto is
Thoughts on the anime’s global anime business in America? It has also a new title that
popularity: Anime’s popularity is growing helped it considerably but I think there will definitely be hot
annually but I feel that some anime will be a limit to how much anime can in 2006. We will be Anthony Jiwa
distributors are playing to the same crowd be aired in the U.S. because anime launching the first
too often. Manga will isn’t the only option out there for the DVD volume in March, as part of the
try to broaden the its broadcasters. Shonen Jump Home Video line. The first
fan base by releasing uncut box set is slated for July. Finally,
high-quality animation VIZ Media we will be launching the first Shojo Beat
that appeals to not Exec interviewed: Anthony Jiwa, Home Video titles this year.
only the anime fans, director of marketing Favorite anime hero/heroine: Kakashi
but also mainstream What are your biggest sellers and from Naruto: He’s a top-notch ninja, but
Kaoru Mfaume audiences. why? InuYasha. Rumiko Takahashi’s he is also enigmatic and mysterious.
storytelling style and compelling Sango from InuYasha—not only does she
Ninja Scrolls
characters are big reasons for the wield a massive boomerang, she also
success of the series. Fans also respond has Kirara, a flying fire-cat creature.
to the fantastic animation style. Best use of anime in mainstream pop
Which of your titles do you think is culture: In Japan anime is mainstream
most deserving of wider recognition pop culture! Even in North America,
and why? Saikano merits more titles such as Pokémon, InuYasha,
recognition. The animation is beautiful, Dragon Ball Z and Miyazaki movies such
the characters are gripping and the as Howl’s Moving Castle and Spirited
dramatic storyline and political message Away have demonstrated that anime is
Ghost in the Shell make this an epic series. not purely a niche market
Greatest Hits to date: The How has TV exposure helped the
InuYasha movies have been anime business in America? Cartoon
our biggest hits to date. Network has been very supportive of
These have all sold over a anime, programming shows such as
quarter of a million copies InuYasha, Naruto and Zatch Bell! has
each. Some of our Pokémon greatly helped all of these properties
titles also sold exceptionally find broader audiences here. This
well. increased exposure has developed a
Hot titles to look for in fan base that has grown to seek out
2006: Based on the success new anime series. Q
of the first three InuYasha Thomas J. McLean is a Los Angeles-based
movies, we have very high journalist who specializes in animation,
expectations for InuYasha visual effects and comic-books.

32 April 2006 ANIMATION MAGAZINE www.animationmagazine.net

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All 26 Episodes! Nearly 11 Hours!


Special Features
• The Gruesomes’ Road to Bedrock:
A Closer Look at a Classic Season Five Episode
• Gemstones: Flintstones Rarities Unearthed
• A Stone Age Parenting Guide:
Child Rearing in the Stone Age

Own Season 5 March 7



CLASSIC COLLECTION Seasons 1, 2, 3 and 4 Available Now

First Time on DVD!


Over 12 Hours as Originally Aired
Special Features
• The History of Scooby-Doo and Dynomutt
• Original Scooby-Doo and Dynomutt
Voice Actors Share Memories
• Stills Gallery with Previously Unseen
Treasures from the Hanna-Barbera Vault

Available for the First Time on DVD March 7


} [ warnervideo.com classiccartoonsdvd.com

GOLDEN COLLECTION THE FLINTSTONES, SCOOBY-DOO, DYNOMUTT and All Related Characters and Elements Are Trademarks
of and © Hanna-Barbera. © 2006 Hanna-Barbera and Warner Bros. Entertainment Inc. All rights reserved.

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Illustration by Dan Hoffstedt


The Samurai Critic:
Reviews of this month’s hot new anime titles on DVD

by Charles Solomon

Howl’s Moving Castle; My Neighbor


Totoro; Whisper of the Heart
(Walt Disney Home Video: $29.99
each; 2-disc sets)

This month, three outstanding DVD re-


leases (on Disney Home Video) remind
viewers why Studio Ghibli has become
synonymous with the best in contempo-
rary animation: they each offer warmly
human characters, gloriously animated
visuals, skillful filmmaking and masterful
storytelling.
Whisper of the Heart (1995), the least My Neighbor Totoro Howl’s Moving Castle Whisper of the Heart
well-known of the three, is a coming-of-age ture, My Neighbor Totoro, was only available Sophie into a 90-year-old woman. In her aged
story that began as a manga by Aoi Hiiragi. in a pan-and-scan transfer with an unremark- guise, Sophie discovers her hidden potential.
Hayao Miyazaki wrote the script and story- able English dub. Parts of the story are based Once inside Howl’s castle, a ramshackle struc-
boarded the film, then turned it over to Yo- on Miyazaki’s own childhood. While their ture that looks like it’s about to fall apart, So-
shifumi Kondo. Kondo was clearly an artist of mother is in the hospital, 10-year-old Satsuki phie’s straightforward determination wins the
great promise whom Miyazaki was grooming and four-year-old Mei move with their profes- affection and respect of Howl’s young ap-
as a director; sadly, he died shortly after sor father to a rickety old farmhouse in the prentice Markl; the fussy fire demon Calcifer;
completing this gentle film. Saitama Prefecture, which was an undevel- and Heen, a wheezing dog. She also wins
Junior high student Shizuku Tsukishima is oped agricultural area in the '50s, when the Howl’s love, and ends a destructive war.
a voracious reader and a loyal friend, but she film is set. Miyazaki did much of his growing The work of the Studio Ghibli animators
lacks focus. When she meets a delightfully up in Saitama when his mother was hospital- has grown increasingly polished, and they
snooty cat on a commuter train, she follows ized. infuse the voiceless characters with clear
him to an antique store in the Tama Hills area The story of Totoro is familiar to viewers personalities. The mute scarecrow in Howl
of Tokyo (the setting for Pom Poko). Seiji around the world: Mei and Satsuki befriend can only hop and spin, yet the viewer un-
Amasawa, the kindly proprietor’s grandson, the King Totoro, a benevolent forest spirit, derstands what’s going on inside his tur-
is a student at her school who wants to be a who watches over the sisters and takes nip-head. The artists milk every drop of
violinmaker. Seeing Seiji’s determination to them on magical adventures. Dakota Fanning physical comedy from the scenes of So-
fulfill his dream galvanizes Shizuku: she real- and Elle Fanning capture the love and excite- phie lugging the obviously heavy Heen up a
izes she wants to become a writer. A myste- ment Satsuki and Mei share; as their gentle seemingly endless staircase.
rious statue of a cat in the antique shop in- father, Tim Daly sounds appropriately pa- All three films overflow with eclipsing vi-
spires her first story. tient and understated. My Neighbor Totoro suals that range from panoramas of skies
Like Kiki in Kiki's Delivery Service, Shizuku may be the most charming animated feature and mountains to intimate views of the nat-
is a richly realized adolescent. Her first meet- ever made, and that charm is more apparent ural world. When Satsuki and Mei wait in the
ing with Seiji feels awkward and she marches than ever in this new letter-boxed edition. forest to bring their father an umbrella, the
home repeating “stupid jerk” under her Last year, Howl's Moving Castle passed shots of a frog in a puddle and droplets fall-
breath like a mantra. As their unstated affec- Princess Mononoke to become the number ing from pine needles vividly convey the
tion grows, Shizuku wonders if she’s good three box-office champion in Japanese histo- sensation of being caught in a rainstorm.
enough for him, only to discover he’s wres- ry, behind Spirited Away and James Cameron’s But what really sets these features apart is
tling with similar doubts. As the voices of Titanic. Nineteen-year-old Sophie has decided the depth of observation and honesty of
Shizuku and Seiji in the film’s first English she’s too plain to do more than work in her portrayal that makes the characters come
dub, Brittany Snow and David Gallagher offer family’s hat shop. Her shy charm attracts the alive—and show just how superficial the
warm, believable performances. dashing Howl, an immature wizard, which wisecracking nonentities in many recent
For years, Miyazaki’s acclaimed 1988 fea- causes the Witch of the Waste to transform American features have been. Q

34 April 2006 ANIMATION MAGAZINE www.animationmagazine.net

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HOME ENTERTAINMENT
and life stages for Bugs and co. Now
Spring DVD Fever as the babyboomers get ready for
retirement, don’t be surprised if the
studio greenlights a Senior Folks Home
Parodies, Looney progeny and Pooh take the edge off Loony Toons one of these days.
residual winter chill. by Sarah Gurman
Pooh’s Grand Adventure:
Robot Chicken, Vol. 1 tured if you haven’t seen Michael Jack- The Search for
[Turner Home Entertainment, son Classic duke it out with Michael Christopher Robin
$29.98] Jackson Modern! [Walt Disney Video, $29.99]

Baby Looney Tunes,


The brainchild of Seth Green and Matt Vol. 1 and 2 Directed by Karl Geurs, this 1997 di-
Senreich, Robot Chicken’ s ADD relish- [Warner Home Video, rect-to-video feature is a little darker
ing stop-motion satire is one of the $14.98 each] than your typical Pooh fare, revealing
treasured jewels in the animated crown a more mysterious side to the famous
of [adult swim]’s latenight offerings. 100-Acre Wood. Picking up where Dis-
Inspired from the “Twisted Toyfare The- Hmmmmm, ney’s 1977 classic The Many Adven-
ater” feature that appeared regularly while you’re tures of Winnie the Pooh left off,
in ToyFare magazine (Senreich was for- watching Pooh’s Grand Adventure finds Christo-
mer editor of the magazine), the show R o b o t pher Robin ready to start school. How-
features action figures taking center Chicken ever, he doesn’t know how to tell his
stage in pop culture parodies. Robot you might Pooh that they will be separated, so
Chicken (named after a dish served at w a n t writes him a note instead. Pooh and
a local Chinese restaurant) has at- to pop the gang end up misunderstanding
tracted a high-caliber collection of ce- in one of the note and believe that the boy has
leb guests to lend their voices to the these Baby been kidnapped. Before long, A.A.
toy melodramas, including the entire Looney Tunes Milne’s popular honey-lover pulls to-
cast of That 70’s Show, Sarah Michelle collections for gether a rescue party with the help of
Gellar, Burt Reynolds and Rachel Leigh the kiddies. (The Rabbit, Tigger and Piglet, and they’re
Cook in a knockout take on what really pee gag reel’s humor could prove off to
happens after the camera stops rolling elusive for some.) And if you’ve ever Skull to
on those anti-drug PSAs. Fans will be wondered what Bugs was like before find their
happy to know that the two-disc set he reached full-blown rabbit maturity, friend.
comes stocked with 20 episodes and you might consider cuddling up with Though it
eclectic bonus features like scene directors Michael Hack and Jeffrey doesn’t
comparisons showing the contrasts Gatrall’s tot-sized Looney Tunes. match its
between the FX/Wire to animation Each of these discs holds 48 minutes predeces-
of Warner Bros.’ original irreverent sor, this
toons in toddler form living together Pooh mov-
in Granny’s big house and discovering ie is no
the nuances of the world. Targeted slouch,
at the preschool audience, Baby thanks in part to Disney recruiting the
Looney Tunes allows the little ones original voices of Piglet and Tigger,
to learn life lessons about everything John Fiedler and Paul Winchell (both of
from fibbing, to school, to leaving whom passed away last year), as well
the precious blankie behind, in the as the incomparable Jim Cummings
company of junior pranksters like Baby delivering a lovely take on Pooh’s gen-
Daffy, Sylvester and Tweety (and you tle rasp. And there’s also some honey
thought he couldn’t get any cuter). A at the bottom of the pot for the DVD
stage and the animatic to episode seasoned crew of vocal talents like buyer: The release includes the origi-
stage, audio commentary on each epi- Ian James Corlett, Bailey Devlin, June nal Academy Award-winning short
sode from the creators, deleted scenes Foray, Janyse Jaud, Mariko Kage and Pooh’s Blustery Day, the Adventures in
and a pee gag reel—all your favorite Ellen Kennedy provide voices for the 100-Acre Wood game and the “Pooh’s
characters, all peeing their pants. loony babies. Over the years Warner Symphony” feature for the melody-
Come on, you can’t call yourself cul- Bros. has explored various generations minded folks. Q

www.animationmagazine.net ANIMATION MAGAZINE April 2006 35

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mation delivers the


super-powered ad-
ventures of a coura-
geous band of fight-
ers from the Mask
Planet. This rough
and tumble crew
has joined forces to
foil the evil plans of
Darkman and his
minions.
KOCCA selected
TELEVISION

MaskMan out of a
large pool of candi-
dates in 2002 based
on its originality,
quality, marketabili-
ty and its potential
to increase the
worldwide presence
of Korean content.
Serving to develop
and promote Kore-
an content industries globally, KOCCA

A KOCCA Star is Born honors Korean properties with the


Star Project Award each year to bol-
ster shows with global promise. “We
by Sarah Gurman had tremendous confidence in Mask-
Man when we recognized the proper-

K
OCCA (Korea Culture and Con- ty with our Star Project Award,” notes
tent Agency) has another Star VP of KOCCA Sang Gill Lee, “and we
Project Award success story are especially pleased by the signifi-
on its hands. Barunson and G&G En- cant strides made by the producers
tertainment, producers of the 2002 with MaskMan since accepting the
Star Project Award winner MaskMan, award.”
have just sold their action-packed After MaskMan earned the KOCCA
animated property to KBS (Korea honor in 2002, the Seoul-based char-
Broadcasting Service) for broadcast, acter development specialists at Ba-
and Taiwan’s Mighty Media has picked runson and G&G Entertainment pro-
up broadcast and licensing rights on duced 39 half-hour episodes of the
the show as well. show and built a substantial licensing
The MaskMan series, which mixes program geared toward global expan-
traditional and CG technologies, first sion for their brand.
caught Mighty Media’s eye at MIPCOM Now, on the heels of clinching suc-
2005 where the company shared the cessful licensing and broadcast
KOCCA stand with Barunson and G&G agreements for MaskMan in Korea
Entertainment. Securing the licensing and Taiwan, Barunson and G&G Enter-
and broadcast rights on the property tainment are planning to bring the
was not a typical move for Mighty Me- ally imports and distributes Japanese property to Southeastern Asia with
dia. Barunson’s general manager Har- animation—stepped up and made the their sights set on Hong Kong, Indo-
ry Yoon explains, “MaskMan was in- strongest offer.” nesia and Malaysia. The producers are
stantly appealing to several compa- It’s not hard to see why Mighty Me- also trying to introduce MaskMan in
nies in Taiwan, which competed for dia was drawn to Barunson and G&G France, Spain, Austria and the U.S. Q
the broadcast and licensing rights. In- Entertainment’s wrestling-filled com- For more information visit:
terestingly, Mighty Media—which usu- edy creation. MaskMan’s playful ani- www.maskman.co.kr

36 April 2006 ANIMATION MAGAZINE www.animationmagazine.net

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created and produced in the U.S.” Although


that statement is open to debate, the
premise of the show is quite original: It’s
based on a struggling American actor
Mikey Simon, who finds himself in hot de-
mand when he joins the cast of a once-
popular anime show in Japan. For a variety
of reasons, Mikey is soon able to restore
Larry Schwarz
the LilyMu show to its former glory, but, as
a result, he also has to learn to adapt to
Japanese culture and deal with the down-
side of fame.
“Kappa Mikey is the kind of show that

TELEVISION
supports our mandate to deliver our global
audience the best compelling entertain-
ment available,” says Keith Dawkins, Nick-
toons’ VP and general manager. “It’s also a
very quirky and great looking show, and we
know that kids and adult fans of anime are

A Sushi Out of Water going to love the kind of fun it has with the
conventions of the genre.”
Like many other Animation Collective
An American actor makes it big as an anime hero in projects, Kappa Mikey is created using
Flash technology. However, the studio
the Animation Collective/Nicktoon series, Kappa also employs After Effects and Maya to
Mikey. by Ramin Zahed flesh out the CG backgrounds and vehicles.
“We don’t really have a studio style, visual-

N
ew York-based Animation Collec- ditions, the show has the dis- ly,” Schwarz points out. “What unites us at
tive CEO and founder Larry tinction of being Nickelodeon’s the studio is a certain comic sense. We’re
Schwarz knows a few things about first global acquisition. Begin- trying hard to invest in our staff and build
creating quality kids’ toys and entertain- ning in May, the up on our team so that we can keep the
ment. After all, Schwarz was the man be- 26x30 min. same creative team on different shows.”
hind the children’s multimedia operation series will roll Of course, Schwarz’s ties with AOL has
Rumpus (Remember rumpus.com and out across also positioned him well to explore new
Zeeks.com?)
_______ and award-winning toys such Nick’s interna- ventures in the multi-platform universe.
as Monster in My Closet and Harry Hairball. tional channels “It’s a wonderful opportunity to create con-
(We should also mention that he’s a former in Asia and Eu- tent that works differently on various plat-
child actor and a stand-up comic as well!) rope. It’s also forms,” he notes. “There are different ways
These days, Schwarz is overseeing so one of those cul- to take advantage of each specific me-
many toons that it’s getting impossible to tural bellwethers dium and that gives you the ability to
keep them all straight. Not only is he the that points to the offer new material for cell phones,
creator and exec producer of Thumb Wres- huge impact of web toons or Google videos. Of
tling Federation, Leader Dog and Tortellini Japanese animation course, we’re an independent
Western for Nicktoons and Ellen’s Acres, on the global pop culture company, so we’re excited
HTDT and Princess Natasha for Cartoon in the past few decades. to see how eventually we
Network, he’s also the man in charge of “We took the two popular styles of ani- can monetize these dif-
most of the content seen on KOL and RED mation and combined them in a new set- ferent platforms. You
(America Online’s Kids and Teen channels), ting,” says Schwarz. “We then added all have to remember that we
including SKWOD, Kung Fu Academy and kinds of silly and goofy stuff that the kids are a New York indie shop and don’t have
Gene the Boy Genie. could relate to and added numerous anime government subsidies for animation like
On February 25, his latest brainchild, references and pop culture asides that they do in France or Canada.” Or Japan, for
Kappa Mikey made a big splash on Nick- adults can enjoy as well. Nick gave us the that matter! Q
toons Network. With a catchy theme song freedom to make the show we wanted to Kappa Mikey airs on Nicktoons Satur-
by the popular Japanese band, Beat Cru- make.” days at 8 p.m., as part of the net-
saders, and sporting a visual look that’s a The cable company is promoting Kappa work’s Three-Headed Monster pro-
clever pastiche of anime and western tra- Mikey as the “only anime television series gramming block.

www.animationmagazine.net ANIMATION MAGAZINE April 2006 37

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Selig says he was fortunate to have


Lesser on board as music producer. “We
have some of the heavy-hitters on the
Broadway scene because Jeffrey was very
well-connected.”
The show’s animation is created in-
house by the 55-person team at Little
Airplane studio, and as Selig points out, it
certainly has a unique visual quality. “We
wanted the pets to look like real animals,
but I didn’t know how to execute that, so
I brought these 2D pictures and showed
them to Jennifer.”
TELEVISION

“We call the technique Photo Puppetry,”


explains Oxley. “It involves taking photo-
graphs of the real animals, and manipulat-
ing them, doing head and arm and body ro-
tations using [Adobe] Photoshop to create
these movable puppets. Our style is differ-
ent from simple cut-out animation. We want

When Classroom the pets to look like real animals and to in-
corporate more fluid soft movements.”
Also helping the team with the storylines
Pets Dig Show Tunes is research director Dr. Laura Brown, who
makes sure the show offers preschoolers
lessons on teamwork and problem-solving.
Three musically minded animals are the stars of Nick Jr.’s In the premiere episode, for example, the
inventive new show, The Wonder Pets! by Ramin Zahed Wonder Pets travel to Hawaii to rescue a
young dolphin caught in a fisherman’s net.

I
t’s a rare show that way’s top composers. The They also adopt their flyboat for space
can appeal to bright- project’s music producer/ travel to save a baby chimp lost in space
eyed preschoolers, supervisor is Grammy-win- and journey to the South Pole to give a
show tune fanatics, ani- ner Jeffrey Lesser, who lending paw to a baby penguin stranded
mation aficionados and has worked with the likes on an iceberg.
lovers of soft and fuzzy of Barbra Streisand, Lou “I’m especially happy with the love and
animals all at the same Reed, Joni Mitchell and care that we put in the creation of each
time. We’re happy to Linda Ronstadt. Tony-win- episode of the show,” says the 41-year-
report that Josh Selig’s ning composers Robert old Selig, who actually starred on Sesame
(Little Bill, Oobi) brilliant Lopez (Avenue Q), Andrew Street when he was a young boy and has
new series The Wonder Lippa (You’re a Good Man, won 11 Emmys for his writing on that in-
Pets! accomplishes that Charlie Brown), Jason Rob- fluential PBS show. “I’m really proud of the
great task and more. ert Brown (Parade) and Mi- fact that we do the series here in New York
The inventive new offer- chael John LaChiusa (The City so that we can draw upon the wonder-
ing, which debuted on Josh Selig
Wild Party) are among the ful animators and musicians the city has to
both Nick Jr. and sister top-notch talent deliver- offer. They really pour their heart and soul
outlet Noggin on Friday, March 3, is bound ing music for the pets. in every episode.”
to attract a diverse group of fans on the “The show’s origins go back to a series Although the show is made specifically
strength of its visual panache and its con- of interstitials featuring Linny the Guinea with the preschool audience in mind, Selig
tagious music. Pig that our animation director Jennifer and Oxley say they’ll be thrilled to see their
Centering on three delightful classroom Oxley created for Nick Jr.,” says Selig, the brainchild develop a cult following (a la the
pets (Linny the Guinea Pig, Turtle Tuck and founder of New York-based studio Little Teletubbies). As Selig notes,“We love mak-
Ming-Ming Duckling) which come to the Airplane. “The shorts, which were set to ing preschool shows, but we’d also like to
rescue of baby animals in distress, the music by Tchaikovsky, did really well, so entertain everyone who happens to meet
20x30-minute show is also billed as a mini- when Nick approached me to do a pre- the pets.” Q
operetta, because it showcases music school show with superheroes, we decided The Wonder Pets! airs on Nick Jr.
written and developed by some of Broad- to make Linny one of the Wonder Pets!” weekdays at 11:30 a.m.

38 April 2006 ANIMATION MAGAZINE www.animationmagazine.net

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The Padded Cel


There’s Still No Dirge
for the Urge to Merge
It Continues to Surge (On A Rhyming Dictionary I Did Splurge) by Robby London

T
o cite the most profound and intel- in a merger/acquisition. The public suf-

TELEVISION
ligent quote ever associated with fers as well. Less choice. Less competi-
former President Ronald Rea- tion. Less diversity of product. Fewer
gan: “Now there you go again!” I direct advertisers available to Animation Maga-
this sentiment to the perpetrators zine, resulting in the discontinuation of
of the three latest blockbuster certain marginal monthly columns. I think
merger-acquisitions: UPN and we could safely credit such an eventual-
The WB; Paramount/Dream- ity to “editorial Darwinism”—since not
Works; and Disney/Pixar. even Pat Robertson has been able to
I can’t remember exactly detect a single sign of intelligent design
when all this merger fever anywhere in the vicinity of this page.
started, but I actually do remem- In thinking about Disney/Pixar,
ber a time when, if you went to work one worries that the canary may
for a media or production company, have swallowed the cat…while
chances were—if you weren’t caught Dr. Heimlich is on the golf
stealing office supplies or photocopy- course. One can only hope
ing your own butt (that was what it was that John Lasseter and all
called in those days)—you might actually the wonderful talents at
be able to remain at this same company Pixar can maintain their
for quite some time. And if you were creative compass and per-
caught—you had a real shot at becom- petuate the magic they have
ing CEO! conjured with such unerring consis-
In reflecting on this bygone, merger- tency—rather than see it vitiated and
free era of workplace stability (techni- homogenized by the entrenched culture
cally known as “The Neolithic Age”) it of a Hollywood conglomerate. At least
seemed as though entertainment com- DreamWorks Animation has managed
panies actually focused the bulk of their to remain independent from the moth-
attention on … entertainment: Char- er ship … for now. And, to be fair, the
Illustration by Eric Brandenberg
acters, storytelling and showmanship. world will not exactly clamor for the
Actually, it’s probably a good thing the er/acquisition, the pet projects of the return of shows like Cuts, Eve or Britney
latter doesn’t exist today since if it did, vanquished become the kitty litter of the & Kevin: Chaotic from the must-flee-TV
it would have to be called “showperson- conqueror. The “de rigueur” announce- schedule of UPN. But still, the seemingly
ship.” Which almost makes “synergistic” ment reassuring employees that there endlesssssssss consolidation of the me-
sound good. will be “absolutely no layoffs” is followed dia business remains very troubling. I’m
In any case, does it ever strike you that within days by the executive who made running a little low on office supplies…
for a long, long time now, so much en- this announcement being laid off. So On an unrelated note: special thanks
ergy seems to be devoted to corporate begins a virtual tsunami of unemploy- to the many hundreds of readers who
restructuring, merging and the resultant ment. (In case you’re wondering, such wrote in urging me to do a column poking
wondering and worrying? Wondering if a reassessment of corporate policy is a little good-natured fun at the Prophet
you still have a job. Wondering if you still legally permissible according to a highly Mohammed. And the one reader who
have a boss. Worrying that they’ll change technical statutory loophole in employee simply suggested I go play in traffic. Q
the locks on the supply closet and the law known as the “CEO Fingers-Crossed Robbie London is an animation indus-
photocopier. Exemption.”) try veteran who has seen his share of
And of course, with most every merg- It’s not just employees who are at risk mergers.

www.animationmagazine.net ANIMATION MAGAZINE April 2006 39

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Sunwoo’s Mixmaster

Crossing Borders
Korean character and animation properties are
gaining visibility outside their homeland. by Karen
Raugust

R
etail sales of licensed goods in ties in Europe, Latin America,
Korea have been growing at a North America and elsewhere
rate of 10% per year since 2000, over the last several years. This
according to KOCCA, the division of the is largely due to the continued
Korean Ministry of Culture and Tourism worldwide popularity of Asian
that is charged with fostering growth properties in general, particularly
in the creative content industry. Yet Japanese anime and manga.
even with these robust increases—
which occurred during a slow period
for the economy as a whole—Korean Pucca Leads the Way
licensors are looking outside their
home territory for future growth. One of the first Korean charac-
“The Korean domestic market has a ters to become established over-
limit in its size,” says Sang-Gil Lee, ex- seas was Pucca, licensed by
ecutive VP of KOCCA, which promotes Vooz. It appears on a variety of
LICENSING

Korean companies involved in anima- women’s and girls’ products in


tion, character licensing, music, games 72 countries across Asia and Eu-
and mobile and Internet content. “Ko- rope, and is being developed into
rean licensors, animation producers, an animated series. Vooz and an-
character developers and other cre- other Korean company, Gravity
ative content providers have no way Corp., best known for the massively million-member Internet portal in Chi-
but to expand toward the global mar- multiplayer online role-playing game na, for online games, news, mobile
ket.” At Licensing Int’l 2005, the trade Ragnarok, recently entered into a stra- character downloads, avatars, wallpa-
show held in New York last June, 21 Ko- tegic partnership to create a Pucca pers and other interactive content.
rean firms showed their properties to online game for global distribution. Characterline is developing a series of
retailers and manufacturers from The success of Pucca in Europe and 18 Flash-animated episodes and plans
around the world, in an exhibit coordi- elsewhere has set the stage for other to license Ddung in Japan, Taiwan and
nated by KOCCA. Korean properties to do business Hong Kong.
Meanwhile, as Korean companies abroad. Examples include Barunson Meanwhile, Characterline and sever-
turn their focus abroad, there has been with MaskMan, Ocon with Dibo the Gift al other Korean companies are follow-
increased demand for Korean proper- Dragon, Iconix with Pororo the Little ing Pucca into the European market.
Vancouver-based Studio B Penguin, Sunwoo Characterline has been targeting Euro-
is producing a show based Entertainment with pean territories actively, participating
on Vooz’s Pucca character. Mixmaster, Rainbus in trade fairs such as MIPCOM, the
with Alexander the Frankfurt Book Fair and Brand Licens-
Great, Character ing London. Last year, it signed a deal
Korea with Jongno with Portuguese licensing agent TBZ,
7, and Character- which brought its characters into Eu-
line with Ddung, rope for the first time. (Ayap and Chichi
Ayap and Chichi. are also licensed in Brazil and the Phil-
Characterline in- ippines.)
troduced Ddung to Character Korea’s Jongno 7 has
global markets at moved into the European market
MIPCOM 2005, and through a licensing agency, The Li-
has done a deal
with QQ.com, a 180- continued on page 42

40 April 2006 ANIMATION MAGAZINE www.animationmagazine.net

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licensing
continued from page 40

censing Factory. The Jongno 7 animat-


ed series airs on the Korean Broadcast-
ing System domestically, and had al-
ready expanded into Taiwan before
entering Europe.
A character-driven apparel line from
Sieun Design called Western Macaroni
is doing business in Europe through a
licensing agreement with Dutch man-
ufacturer Bremtex, which distributes
its products throughout Europe and is
also the European clothing licensee trading card game with an online ver-
for Pucca. Sieun is developing a West- sion, and as a property appearing on a
ern Macaroni animated series; in Ko- range of licensed products.
rea, several products aside from the No matter where they originate, look
clothing line, including toys, are on for more Korean properties to cross
the market. geographic borders as consumers
around the world continue to demand
Licensing at Home Asian character merchandise and en-
tertainment, and as more Korean licen-
According to KOCCA’s 2005 Charac- sors attempt to meet that demand by
ter Industry Report, retail sales of li- working with manufacturers and
LICENSING

censed goods in Korea reached 258.8 broadcasters around the world. Q


billion won (about $267 million) in 2004. Karen Raugust is the author of The Li-
Homegrown Korean characters ac- censing Business Handbook.
counted for over 40% of the domestic
market that year.
The country’s top character in the
early 2000s, KOCCA says, was Mashi-
maro, a cute, mute rabbit created in
1990 and licensed by CLKO Entertain-
ment in conjunction with agency
ePhoenix Networks. In 2003 and 2004,
the top property was Little Dinosaur
Dooly, which was created in 1983 and
has about 1,200 licensed items on the
market from 70 companies. In 2005,
Pucca was the top character property
in Korea, while Sunwoo’s Mixmaster
was the number-one property from
the realm of animation.
A key licensing trend in Korea, as
elsewhere in the world, is that proper-
ties are increasingly developed with
more than one media sector (licensing,
animation, online, mobile, etc.) in mind.
“The line between the genres is get-
ting unclear,” Lee explains, noting that
KOCCA calls this strategy “One Source
Multi Use,” or OSMU. Sunwoo’s Mixmas-
ter, for example, was developed simul-
taneously as animation, an offline

42 April 2006 ANIMATION MAGAZINE www.animationmagazine.net

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7ECOVERTHE"USINESS 4ECHNOLOGY
!RTOF!NIMATION
!NIMATION-AGAZINEDELIVERSINFORMATIONABOUT
COMPANIES EXECUTIVES TRENDS PROPERTIESAND
PROJECTSFROMAROUNDTHEWORLD

0,53'ETYOURDAILYANIMATIONNEWSWITH
THEONLINENEWSLETTER
777!.)-!4)/.-!'!:).%.%4
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&ORMOREINFORMATIONONADVERTISINGORSUBSCRIBING
GOTOWWWANIMATIONMAGAZINENETORCALL  
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!NIMATION-AGAZINEISNOW
AVAILABLEINADIGITALFORMAT
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second unit big action bits and left


James to the dialogue and acting. We
were all wondering how it would work
out, but it worked out very well. As the
Wachowskis are great action direc-
tors, in a lot of ways it was sensible for
James to encourage them to do that.”
As was the case in all his previous
projects, Glass campaigned to do as
much practically as possible. “I like
a mixture: I like trying to push for as
much upfront, in camera with minia-
tures or special effects, and I use the

V for Visual Vigilance backend for what it’s really needed


for.”
While V for Vendetta was never a
huge vfx-driven project, its original
Dan Glass and his team of vfx artists use CG technology
120 shots exploded. “We ended up
wisely and sparingly in the big-screen adaptation of Alan with just shy of 500,” Glass says, “but
Moore’s graphic novel, V for Vendetta. by Ron Magid it’s not as bad as it seems. It never
set out to be a visual effects extrava-

T
he Wachowski siblings are fects supervisor Dan Glass (The Matrix ganza. The original breakdown mainly
back—sort of. The Matrix archi- Revolutions, Batman Begins). “It’s very dealt with the explosions. The other
tects have returned as screen- political in a way, and poignant,” Glass shots came up and grew and evolved
writers and second unit directors on observes, “and I think it’s very impor- in quite a natural way as we put the
V for Vendetta—helmed by The Ma- tant that it comes out now.” film together. Luckily we had the op-
trix alum James McTeigue. The film Interestingly, V for Vendetta was portunity and the backing to go ahead
is adapted from David Lloyd and Alan shot in Berlin, that hotbed of WW II fas- with those.”
Moore’s graphic novel about a mysteri- cism, which undoubtedly colored the In V’s 1984-ish future, information is
ous, masked, swashbuckling vigilante filmmakers’ experience. The project communicated via ever-present video
known only as “V” (Hugo Weaving), attracted other The Matrix contribu- screens, which comprised the major-
who uses terrorist tactics against the tors, including production designer ity of—if not the most complex—vfx
fascist state of “Greater” Britain after Owen Paterson, and that shared his- shots. Among the most difficult were
VISUAL EFFECTS

Germany has won a future World War. tory made working with the enigmatic V’s supposed destruction of two Lon-
When V saves Evey (Natalie Portman) Wachowskis easier. “It was like a re- don landmarks, the House of Parlia-
from torture, she joins his quest to union on the other side of the world,” ment and the Old Bailey, which Glass
bring freedom and justice back to a Glass says. “You don’t have to learn predictably asked Cinesite to blow up
society fraught with cruelty and cor- each other’s strange and subtle ges- using vast miniatures. “We had a two-
ruption. tures, especially the Wachowskis, and-a-half week shoot just dedicated
The fact that the story mirrors as- who’re not phenomenally expressive. to miniatures,” Glass says. “Old Bailey
pects of America circa 2006 was not They were around almost the whole was about 20’ tall and constructed
lost on the filmmakers and visual ef- time, ended up directing most of the very similarly to the real building,
whose base is made of
The V for Vendetta effects these very large stones
team makes Big Ben go out that were laid in piece
with a bang. by piece – so we built
each stone out of com-
pressed plaster, which
gets you the closest you
can to reality. The idea
is to match structur-
ally using materials that
match in scale. Big Ben,

continued on page 46

44 April 2006 ANIMATION MAGAZINE www.animationmagazine.net

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to me and said, ‘Can you help


Vendetta
us?’ To credit Adrian Biddle, he
continued from page 44
did a fantastic job of providing
the House of Parliament’s clock us the perfect reference and
tower, stood about 26’ tall, with it ended up being a complete
a full roof façade that was about mixture of his photography
10’ tall.” and visual effects.”
When models are that intri- But it certainly wasn’t sta-
cate, do you get a take two? “In tus quo for the 30-plus mask
short–no,” Glass laughs. “We built shots. “We decided halfway
two models of the same thing, so through [production] that a
we had two takes. We also had digital intermediate was going
a two-day test, set up by Jose to be necessary as a visual tool
Granell, the director of models at to put things together,” Glass
Cinesite, where we tested vari- continues. “That process be-
ous frame-rates, and from those came this gray zone between
tests we made the decision to strict visual effects and digital
shoot at different rates for each intermediate. So we scanned
of the models. We were mostly the mask, then tracked that
shooting at 72 frames per sec- shape back on the face, but
ond. We shot some stuff at 120. rather than compositing the
Very often people overcompen- shadows we generated into
sate with miniatures so that the shots ist to sketch it, then took that to Ci- those mattes or alpha channels, we
come out looking slightly slow motion. nesite who tracked the knife’s motion were able to control the lighting in
That’s what we didn’t want to do: We and generated these CG textures that the digital grading using digital ef-
wanted to keep it very raw and in real were composited to create the trails. fects. We could then layer in shadows
time, even if that meant sometimes They’re quite subtle, and I really like to bring back the contours and detail,
you’d miss bits of the action, to give it them—they’re not overly in your face; and in some cases, take it to a very
a rougher, more realistic edge.” it’s just a graceful element to this high contrast to knock out one side so
To complete the illusion, Cine- quite horrific scene as he’s slashing it becomes very dark and shadowed
site merged live-action plates of the and gouging blood.” versus the bright side. It was a really
Thames and backgrounds tiled from Then there was the perennial issue good hybrid cross which allowed us to
stills into the miniature shots. While of lighting V’s scorching white mask, cast shadows at a very subtle level on
most things in visual effects are which drove the late cinematogra- his mask. Because the mask’s a static
VISUAL EFFECTS

planned, some come up spontane- pher Adrian Biddle (Aliens; The Prin- shape, it’s relatively straightforward:
ously, as with a knife fight between V cess Bride; V for Vendetta, his last If the actor’s face had been painted
and a dozen SWAT officers. “Larry and film) to distraction. “V’s mask is very white, it would’ve been much more
Andy wrote that sequence almost as white, and his clothing, cape, hat and complex.”
we were shooting, which be- Dan Glass’s “less is more” ap-
came quite a big chunk of ad- proach to visual effects is a re-
ditional work,” Glass explains.
“I like trying to push for as much [shots] freshing change from the whole-
“The whole scene was shot upfront in camera with miniatures or sale CGI that plagues some films
slightly slow motion, at 72 fps, these days—and it bodes well for
to show how fast V moves.
special effects, and I use the backend his next project, the long awaited
In most cases, the stuntmen for what it’s really needed for.” remake of Logan’s Run. “That is a
were moving slightly slower preference of mine, and perhaps
—Visual effects supervisor James Glass
than Hugo. The officers fire at it’s why I get involved with the
him until their guns are empty, films I do, but it was certainly ap-
and in the time it takes them to reload, hair are very black, which has got to propriate for V for Vendetta. We used vi-
he takes out all twelve.” be a director of photography’s worst sual effects only where it was extremely
Glass recalls that the knife was mov- nightmare,” Glass agrees. “Adrian tried necessary.” Q
ing so fast that as V twirled and wield- to retain some shadow information in Ron Magid is a Los Angeles-based jour-
ed his knife it generated these wisps the blacks, but the mask became this nalist who specializes in visual effects.
and streaks. “The idea was a cross singing bright white object. Having V for Vendetta opens in theaters on
between motion blur and streak,” he watched a few dailies, James talked March 17. For more info, visit vforv-
notes. “So we got a visual effects art- to Larry and Andy about it, then came endetta.warnerbros.com.
___________

46 April 2006 ANIMATION MAGAZINE www.animationmagazine.net

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Mk Haley | Bostonian | BFA University of Massachusetts | Masa Inakage | MFA California College of the Arts | Professor,
MFA Cal State Los Angeles | Technical Advisor, Walt Disney Keio University Media Design Program, Kanagawa, Japan |
Imagineering Creative Development, Glendale, California | 22-year SIGGRAPH attendee
18-year SIGGRAPH attendee

5-days of real-world, real-time


graphic, interactive twingularity
The only conference and exhibition in the world that twingles everybody in computer graphics and
interactive techniques for one deeply intriguing and seriously rewarding week. In Boston, where thousands
of interdisciplinary superstars find the products and concepts they need to create opportunities and solve
problems. Interact with www.siggraph.org/s2006 to discover a selection of
registration options that deliver a very attractive return on investment.

The 33rd International Conference and Exhibition on Computer Graphics and Interactive Techniques
Conference 30 July - 3 August 2006 Exhibition 1 - 3 August 2006 Boston Convention & Exhibition Center
Boston, Massachusetts USA

IMAGE CREDITS: limosa © 2005 Brian Evans; moo-pong © 2005 Jun Usu, Daisuke Uriu,
Naohito Okude, Keio University Okude Laboratory; 2005.1 © 2005 Kenneth A. Huff

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Hair of
the Dog
Tippett Studio puts the
Wow! in bow wow for
Disney’s The Shaggy Dog
redo. by Ryan Ball

S
ome prosthetic fur, strategic cut- Then one of the trainers looked at everybody sure it didn’t intersect stuff,” he notes. “We
aways and basic dissolve shots and said, “I want everyone to look behind wanted to keep the scenes light so we could
transformed young Tommy Kirk into yourselves and know your escape route. If I actually animate because if you have the fur
a fluffy sheepdog in Disney’s original The yell ‘run’, run for your lives.” Schelesny tells visible, it really slows down your animation
Shaggy Dog feature. And while that may us that no amount of Discovery Channel scenes. So the puppet department came up
have done the trick nicely in 1959, the 2006 viewing could have prepared him for what with a really nice, low-res geometry that we
remake required a bit more sophistication in happened next. “I can tell you unequivocally were able to see in our scenes and get a rep-
the vfx department. To put a little wag in star it was the most dangerous thing I was ever resentation of where the hair was at least
Tim Allen’s tail and unleash a host of other part of in my life,” he states. “The head rose going to be.”
bizarre beasties, Disney this time turned up out of the box and we all went, ‘Oooh, ah- The crew animated with Maya and ren-
to the creature effects experts at Tippett hhh!’ Then all 12 feet of that snake slithered dered with RenderMan, but used their own
Studio, the shop behind the giant bugs from out of the box, off the table, onto the floor in-house fur system dubbed Furocious. The
Starship Troopers and other groundbreaking and straight toward us.” application was put to the test late in the
feats of digital wizardry. The actual snake can be seen in the back- production when it was decided that the
The new The Shaggy Dog is actually more ground on a few shots in the film, but most sheepdog would have to surf. One of only
like the mutt offspring of the ’59 original and
the 1976 follow-up, The Shaggy D.A. Allen is
Dave Douglas, a workaholic deputy district at-
torney who takes on a case involving an ani-
mal laboratory and ends up with more than a
little hair of the dog that bit him. With an ex-
perimental serum coursing through his veins,
VISUAL EFFECTS

he finds himself looking at fire hydrants, cats


and his family in a whole new light. Along the
way, he makes some new friends in various
animals that have also been given the ge-
netically transforming cocktail.
“Some of the original challenges were
technical issues like how we were going to
animate a snake slithering while barking and of the on-screen slithering was done by a a couple shots involving a fully CG dog, the
wagging its tail,” says Tippett lead anima- fully CG serpent. “Our technical supervisor, scene required the pooch’s hair to interact
tor Jim Brown. “It started out very serious, Matt Robinson, came up with an idea to have with wind and water to extreme degrees.
we were going to keep these things totally scales on there that would contract and “We pretty much just used joint chains and
photoreal and all that stuff. But as the show expand, and slide along the skin like a real surface-constrained the hair to the geom-
went on, [Disney] saw the ability in some of snake’s would,” Brown remarks. “But [the rig- etry,” says puppet department head Eric Jef-
our animators to bring out the humorous ging] became very heavy with the puppet. fries. “Then we put the joints on top of it and
sides of these animals and they let us go in Our painters did an excellent job of painting built a simple interface for the animators so
that direction.” the snake so we didn’t really have to use spe- they could control each hair.”
For visual effects supervisor Thomas cific geometry for scales. They just painted Schelesny hastens to add that ‘hair,’ rath-
Schelesny, there was nothing funny about that thing like crazy and it looked phenom- er than ‘fur,’ is indeed the optimal word when
shooting reference footage of a real-life king enal.” dealing with their shaggy title character. He
cobra. After photographing the well-trained In the story, the snake develops a furry jokes, “The sheepdog has more in common
sheepdog and some cute bunnies, the Tip- dog tail and a penchant for panting. Brown with Cheryl Tiegs than it does a rat.” Q
pett team watched as two trainers picked says the tail created the biggest fur chal- Disney lets The Shaggy Dog out in
up a big, heavy box and put it on the table. lenge for the animators. “We had to make theaters nationwide on March 10.

48 April 2006 ANIMATION MAGAZINE www.animationmagazine.net

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xxx/dbsuppo.nfejb/cf
______________________

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shot with high-speed cameras,


sometimes on their own, some-
times on miniatures. “If you shoot a
miniature tree at high speed, it
looks like a large-scale tree moving
in the wind,” says Eric. Sometimes,
these 2D trees were used in the
background—notably in the Kong-
versus-T-Rex fight—with 3D trees in
the foreground.
An in-house system called “Plant
Builder” based on Autodesk’s Maya
6.0’s hair system generated the CG
trees and other plants. The digital
botanists started with one hair onto
which they built a piece of geometry that
State of the Art represented the trunk. Then, they repeated
the process to create branches by connect-

It’s a Virtual Jungle ing pieces of hair to points on the trunk and
adding detail to the geometry to make it
look like bark. They grew more branches

Out There from those branches, and so on, adding fin-


er and finer details depending on the plant.
“We were able to create any plant we
Weta Digital’s vfx experts used a variety of CG tricks to wanted,” Eric says. “There are lots of new
recreate the environmental shots of Skull Island for King Kong. widgets and things in Maya to create
shapes in new ways. By playing with the
by Barbara Robertson numbers, which determined how we grew

L
ast month’s question was originally ting on a rocky ledge watching the beauti- hairs on the geometry, we could grow ferns,
about the cemetery scene in Harry ful sunset—all were handcrafted. oak trees, pine trees, whatever the envi-
Potter and the Goblet of Fire, but we The Skull Island terra-formers started ronment called for.” And play they did: Skull
killed that one when they didn’t give us per- with miniatures: Two miniature units creat- Island was a fantasy, so none of the plants
mission to run the photos! Willi Geiger saved ed around 15 large miniatures in sizes rang- had to be botanically accurate.
the day with new questions about King ing from 10 feet by 10 feet to 50 feet by 30 Because the plants were built using
VISUAL EFFECTS

Kong’s Skull Island: How was the environ- feet. “They were our ground planes and Maya Hair, characters could interact with
ment shot and put together? How much (if starting points,” says Eric. them. “We used the hairs for dynamics and
any) was shot on location in New Zealand? The village relied the most on these mod- collisions,” Eric says. “We could have wind
How heavily were green/bluescreen, minia- els. “We did some digital extensions for the blowing through them, plants moving as
tures, CG, etc., used? And, finally, how was big wall that goes off into the distance,” creatures walked by and interaction be-
everything integrated? says Eric, “but for the most part, the village tween characters and plants.”
For the answers, we flew over the phone was all done with miniatures.” To help make Collisions are notoriously CPU-intensive,
wires to New Zealand to talk with Weta the miniature village seem real, the digital so the team came up with a trick to help
Digital’s Eric Saindon, digital effects super- effects crew added volumetric atmosphere speed the simulation: If anything got within
visor. First thing to know is that almost in RenderMan that was composited into the a certain range of colliding geometry, it
nothing was shot on location. Second, shots. “When Kong reaches for Ann, you can crushed the geometry straight down. When
green/bluescreen elements were used, see his shadow in the atmosphere. These a Bronto stepped on a tree, rather than cal-
particularly of Naomi Watts who played subtleties help bring the shots to life.” culating all the collisions with all the hair
Ann Darrow. (Ann was was also often a The jungle relied more on CG. Again, branches in the tree; the software simply
digital double.) Sets were built, but few though, the digital crew began with foot- crunched it.
turned out to be useful; most were re- age taken of a miniature. “We took the cam- To further create the fantasy jungle and,
placed with digital environments. era move from the miniature and brought in one dramatic sequence, give Ann and
In other words, Weta Digital handcrafted that into animation. Then we added Kong, Kong something to swing from, the crew
Kong’s homeland using miniatures, digital the Brontos and other characters. From used a custom program to procedurally
paintings and 3D elements. Think about it. there, we tried to dress in the things they grow and drape vines on, over, around and
All of the island—from the village, to the would interact with.” hanging from any piece of geometry. The
jungle, the brontosaurus stampede, Kong’s For trees, the crew used 2D tree ele- program started with a curve, and then ex-
fight with the T-Rexes, Ann and Kong sit- ments as starting points. The trees were truded a circle along the curve. “We ran a

50 April 2006 ANIMATION MAGAZINE www.animationmagazine.net

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Beauty and the Beasts: The vfx team created a


custom program to procedurally grow and drape
vines on, over, around and hanging from any piece of
geometry in the recreated fantasy jungle.

simple noise function through the geome- digital New York City. “Basically, we were would hand new rendered elements to the
try to add details like bumps and knots, and able to model the cliff and, as the brontos compositors who would fit them into the
then used a shader to add procedural infor- came running toward it, used this software shots with 2D elements. Then, every night
mation,” says Eric. “The closer you got, the to break it apart and crumble it away,” Eric the TDs wrote a one-line script that grabbed
more details were added by the shader. We says. “We then textured that data with the the latest animation, all the new elements,
didn’t have to model any of the vines; we textures photographed from a miniature. the lights and the latest compositing script.
could procedurally dress the whole scene We also used it to shatter the ground under In the morning, the shots would land in the
with this simple Maya program.” Jimmy as he was running. I think he was one projection room. And, that made it possible
Last, to help give miniatures the correct of the better digital doubles in the film.” to fabricate the island.
scale, the technical directors used Maya For the beautiful sunset scene on the is- “We were able to get so many shots out
Paint Effects to add small ferns, debris and land shared by Kong and Ann, the crew because we could script all the informa-
other plants. “These plants didn’t hold up modeled and painted a rocky ledge. “Once tion,” Eric says. “We’d see the shots every
close to camera, but they worked well for the animation got into the scene, the cam- day in dailies and decide what needed to
dressing the background,” says Eric. Special era moves from the miniatures didn’t match move into 3D and what could stay in 2D.”
procedures moved the Paint Effects geom- what Peter [Jackson] wanted,” Eric says. We’re happy to report that award-win-
etry into Pixar’s RenderMan for rendering. “We dressed the rocks with Paint Effects, ning journalist Barbara Robertson will be
In addition to the jungle, the team also texture maps and some procedural shad- launching an exciting new column in the
created the cliffs that crumbled under the ers, but a lot of it was hand modeled and next issue of Animation Magazine. Barba-
weight of the brontosaurus stampede. For textured to work at the correct scale.” ra will be focusing on some of the revolu-
this, they used BlastCode software from Putting all these pieces together required tionary visual effects work done in com-

VISUAL EFFECTS
FerReel Animation Labs, a Maya plug-in that constant interaction between compositors mercials, short form projects and TV se-
helped Kong break through the theater in and technical directors. Every day, the TDs ries in her new monthly outing. Q

www.animationmagazine.net ANIMATION MAGAZINE April 2006 51

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by Chris Grove
Calling All Robotech Fans
I
t might be a small part Softimage Animates
of the record industry’s the Southwest: On the
total revenue, but you software front, mean-
can bet that music execs while, comes news that
never saw that download- the Canuck division of
ed ring tones would be- Digital Dimension has
come such a nice bit of selected Softimage’s
change for their ailing in- XSI software as the
dustry. In 2005, according main 3D production
to a report in USA Today, tool for The Legend of
ring tones (and related Secret Pass.
downloads) accounted for The upcoming full-
$600 million of the indus- length animated fea-
try’s $12 billion revenue, ture, produced by JC2
20% more than had been Entertainment, is set in
projected the year before. the American south-
While hip-hop themes west and features a
form the bulk of the down- large cast of computer-
loads (2005’s leader was generated animals and
50 Cent’s Candy Shop), humans. Digital Dimen-
there are lots of niches to sion execs say XSI got
fill. Enter Airborne Enter- the nod due to the
VISUAL EFFECTS

tainment, which recently software’s advanced


signed a deal to bring the non-linear character
famed anime series Ro- workflow, customizable
botech to a cell phone rendering tools and the
near you. Content for sale extended memory ca-
will include ring tones, ring pabilities of the 64-bit
back tones and personal- version 5.0 with its
ized wallpaper. A mobile faster rendering times.
game will soon follow. Air- “(It’s) the newest and
borne’s deal is with Har- most flexible 3D archi-
mony Gold USA, Inc. “I don’t tecture available today,”
think (ring tones are) a says Luc St-Onge, 3D
fad,” says Phil Leigh, presi- supervisor at Digital Di-
dent of Online’s Inside Digital Media in the wireless community and the general enter- mension, Canada. “The non-destructive
USA Today piece. “Those who lived with- tainment world becomes tighter, we character environment enabled our pro-
out it think, ‘Why do we need it?’ But I re- strongly believe that successful narrative grammers and artists to start work as soon
member when T-shirts were white. People franchises like Robotech will continue to as we began building our CGI animation
want to make a statement. And ring tones cross over to mobile genres,” says Andy pipeline. This allows us to make changes
offer that. I think we’ll see growth.” Nulman, Airborne’s president. The compa- and updates to the character models any-
For its part, Robotech content will be ny’s branded properties include Family Guy, time we need to. The powerful character
made available across major cell carriers Maxim ToGo, SPEED TV Mobile, NHL Mobile
this spring. “As the embrace between the and Donald Trump’s Real Estate Tycoon. continued on page 56

52 April 2006 ANIMATION MAGAZINE www.animationmagazine.net

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Tech Reviews by Chris Tome

Wacom Cintiq 21UX so much better. You’ll wonder


how you lived without it after
There are times in the computer and you bought it.
technology industry when a product is The Cintiq offers 21 inches
worthy of being dubbed a “paradigm shift” of screen real estate and
in the way people think about and use their comes with a nice stand to sit
tools. Although Wacom wasn’t the first to it on a desk. The calibration
come out with pressure sensitive draw- software built into the driver
ing tablets (Calcomp and SummaGraphics allows you to set the display
were the first), the Vancouver, Wash.-based for the best pen-to-screen ac-
company was the first to, for example, cre- curacy, and the pressure sen-
ate a cordless and battery free pen with sitivity of the pen, along with a program some of the crew over at Pixar (now Dis-
much higher levels of pressure sensitivity like Corel Painter, lets you use the natural ney/Pixar of course) who use them on a
than before. media brushes in ways that truly approach daily basis. Mark Andrews, story supervi-
Fast forward almost 20 years, and we can their analog counterparts. sor for The Incredibles, for example, now
witness the forementioned paradigm shift I also found it very handy to use in pro- draws his storyboards pretty much ex-
with the Cintiq 21UX. It’s an LCD screen grams like Maya or LightWave. Selecting clusively on a Cintiq, whereas before he
that is pressure sensitive, and comes polygons, drawing splines or painting tex- did it all with pencil, pen and paper. Brad
with a pen using 1,024 levels of sensitiv- tures, it just seemed so much more real to Bird also utilized a Cintiq to critique dailies.
ity, which you draw or paint directly on the me. Of course I know we’re talking CG here, (The footage viewed in the mornings af-
screen with. Although Wacom has had oth- but it’s the difference of using an applica- ter the previous nights’ rendering.) When
er displays like this, their size, resolution tion versus feeling as if you’re inside of it. the footage was viewed, if Bird didn’t like
and price were, in my opinion, not worth it. I have the Cintiq set up on my PowerMac a pose or position of a character or ele-
The Cintiq 21UX changes all that. G5 as a second display, and although I don’t ment, he could use the Cintiq to draw over
Hooked up to my G5 and running at always use the pen/display combo, I can the frame, which would be superimposed
1600X1200 resolution, this is one fantastic easily use my mouse across both displays on the image projected to the big screen.

VISUAL EFFECTS
artistic tool. At $2,999 it’s not as cheap just as if it were a regular monitor. When I Then all the animators could instantly see
as a regular display, but what it offers in do want to do some artwork though, I sim- what his vision was, the data could be
flexibility for CG artists more than makes ply pick up the pen and create as if I were saved off and the animators could go back
up for the price. Working with the Cintiq putting pen directly to paper. It’s a very lib- to their work spaces and have a visual cue
gives you a kind of a rush you’ll never get erating experience. about what to change.
otherwise, and it makes drawing and paint- If what I have written so far hasn’t con- Going back to the paradigm shift, I
ing in programs like Photoshop or Painter vinced you, you may want to know about predict that not too long from now every
The Incredibles director Brad Bird used screen will be touch and pressure sensi-
Cintiq to critic his feature’s dialies. tive. It’s a natural evolution, and one that’s
not hard to imagine at all. It’s more natu-
ral and intuitive, and Wacom has truly led
the way in this space. Even my four-year-
old daughter, who never stops drawing or
painting, fights me for access to the Cin-
tiq, which is why I went ahead and actually
purchased my loaner unit, because she’d
throttle me if I sent it back. Once you have
used one you’ll understand the appeal, and
you might just have to max out a credit
card or two. I know I did!
Website: www.wacom.com
Price: $2,999 Q

www.animationmagazine.net ANIMATION MAGAZINE April 2006 53

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Frederator’s My Life as a Teenage Robot

us, narrating his


day into his cell.
“(Podcasting) is
not a gimmick,”
says Richard
Doherty, director
of the New York-
based high tech
consultant firm
E nv i s i o n e e r i n g . John Evershed
“‘Snatch-and-run’
is a whole new
business model.”
And it’s not a
new distribution
system that has,
despite first ap-
pearances, a gen-

Is That a Toon in Your erational


While toons from
divide.

Frederator Studios, Fred Seibert

Digital Pants Pocket? Mondo Media, the


Walt Disney Company and others big
and small are hot p’cast properties, it’s
Today’s savvy animation producers don’t expect instant important to note that among the top
riches as they prepare content for tomorrow’s platforms. downloads on podcasts.yahoo.com, for
example, are snippets of the 40-plus
by Chris Grove
skewing National Public Radio maga-
zine show All Things Considered. In the

I
f you attended any of the TV or vast majority of podcasts are free, last two months of 2005 NPR record-
new media confabs in the past not a buck ninety-nine. So, as it turns ed more than four million downloads.
six months, you know that the out, those with video-enabled devices “If there is a divide, it’s between early
buzz about new media platforms has (whether iPods, MP3 players, a Mac, PC adopters and the rest of us,” says Fred
NEW MEDIA

become deafening of late. However, or otherwise) are downloading like so Seibert, president of Frederator. In ad-
perhaps because the moguls of me- many caffeinated college file-sharers. dition to overseeing the creation of
dia were so badly burned during the According to figures supplied by the many Nickelodeon hits (Fairly OddPar-
heyday of the dotcom boom, not ev- Pew Research Center For the People & ents, ChalkZone, My Life As a Teenage
eryone is waxing eloquent about the Press, 87% of 12- to 17-year-olds use Robot and more), Siebert has a storied
obsession du jour: Podcasting. “How the Internet. And for those us who ac- past launching brands such as MTV,
many people really want to get video tually have to ride the bus, commuter VH-1 and Nickelodeon itself. Down-
on a tiny screen when they already
have TiVo or a similar service from “TV execs have always been the gatekeeper that prevented
their cable company or DirecTV?” Ru-
pert Murdoch opined in Newsweek so many talented people from getting their stuff seen.
last month. “How many will want to
pay $1.99 on Monday morning if they Podcasting is one more way around the distribution monopoly
missed Desperate Housewives the
night before? What’s been announced
of the major entertainment companies.”
so far with iPod and Disney and NBC is —John Evershed, CEO and co-founder of Mondo Media, producer of Happy Tree Friends
very small-time at the moment.”
Maybe. But just because you’ve built train or subway once in a while (or sit in loading to hand-held devices will, he
one of the biggest media empires in the airport lounge) a little small-screen says, eventually be something that’ll
history, doesn’t mean one’s exempt entertainment can go a long, long way have practitioners from every demo-
from getting one’s facts straight. The to blocking out the guy across from graphic group. “The narcissism of baby

54 April 2006 ANIMATION MAGAZINE www.animationmagazine.net

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One Man
Band
in the early days of the Web, free and others have yet to come up with
content is a good thing. Paradoxi- an independently verifiable way to
cally, by charging nothing for iTunes count heads and traffic in the podcast
downloads, Apple chief Steve Jobs space.
is making iTunes more valuable But says Troy Snyder, president and
than ever. “It’s a great marketing CEO of San Diego-based Nine Systems,
tool,” Seibert continues. When you at this moment in the revolution that
command the loyalty of tens of doesn’t matter so much: “The tools
millions of users the pay-off down are here now to provide interactive
Pixar shorts can be downloaded on iTunes for
$1.99 each.
the line can be huge. Just ask the content catering to specific commu-
guys that founded Google. nities of users.” Which, he continues,
Currently there are four business bodes well for smallish to mid-level
models that may individually or in animators who can now target their
combination provide a long-term material to communities of consumers
raison d’etre for podcasting—ad with shared interests. Nine Systems
supported content; promotional streams video and audio to over 175
support (podcast shorts acting as million unique users monthly for cli-
promotion for a big screen film, for ents including Universal Music Group,
example); selling best of DVD com- Amazon.com, the Sundance Festival,
pilations of web-only content; and Fox and Anheuser-Busch.
finally, using podcasting as a tool continued on page 56
for audience-building for proper-
ties that do generate revenue.
In many ways, podcasting is
analogous to the syndica-
tion of the popular Peanuts
boomers is so complete that we can’t comics strip in the 1960s
stand the fact that advertisers don’t and 1970s. The syndica-
think we’re important.” tion didn’t yield Charles M.
Because many media companies Schultz nearly as much Happy Tree
are run by said baby boomers, Seibert money as the TV shows, Friends
believes that there’ll be a lot of con- films, plush toys and other
tent aimed at and used by the over 50 consumer products made
crowd—animated, live-action, news possible by the mass au-

NEW MEDIA
and sports and more. dience the daily strip put
For its part, Channel Frederator is together. “If we have to
dedicated to discovering and distribut- do this with micro-trans-
ing the work of animators worldwide. actions of five cents per
As far as independent content provid- download that will be
ers are concerned, podcasting is one fine,” says Evershed. A
of the biggest developments since the nickel may be peanuts
onset of the digital video revolution in to Murdoch, but multiply
the mid 1990s. “TV execs have always that times a million and
been the gatekeeper that prevented pretty soon you’re talking
so many talented people from moving real money—at least for a
forward and getting their stuff seen,” struggling animator.
says John Evershed of Mondo Media. The current scope of the
“Podcasting is one more way around podcast universe is hard to
the distribution monopoly of the ma- measure—both in size and
jor entertainment companies.” Mon- ratings. Doherty estimates
do’s Happy Tree Friends is currently that there are currently 25
the fourth most popular download on million video-enabled devic-
iTunes. es smaller than a PC enjoy-
But wait a minute. Where’s the mon- ing video from podcasting. To
ey? “I have no idea,” says Seibert. As this point, Nielsen Net ratings

www.animationmagazine.net ANIMATION MAGAZINE April 2006 55

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Aardman has made


Podcast er with a 40-mega- 35 episodes of
continued from page 55
byte hard drive, four its Morph series
With wireless data transfer rates MB of RAM and a 28- available
continuing to grow exponentially and baud exterior modem for mobile
the affordability and storage capacity was considered state- phones.
of portable data transfer devices (such of-the-art. In 2006, says
as FireWire and USB drives) becoming Doherty, we’re in the era
ever more astounding, Doherty has of the digital pants pocket,
three words for podcasters to look where “me media” is king, as
forward to in the next 12 months: High in: My media, my time, at the
Definition Podcasting. Among other place of my choosing. In such
things, IBM is reportedly ready to in- an environment, Doherty con-
troduce a 60 GHz router that’ll down- tinues, Rupert Murdoch is asking
load data 50 times faster than WiFi. At the wrong question. “It’s clearly not
that almost ridiculously fast rate, it’ll whether consumers want entertain-
be possible to download a one-hour ment on a tiny screen, it’s how do we
movie in 15 seconds. get it to them and how fast can we
Fifteen years ago a portable comput- meet that need.” Q

Digital Magic
continued from page 52
The Legend of Secret Pass
rigging and animation tools, the integra- features CG work by Digital
Dimension.
tion of SyFlex cloth and mental ray ren-
dering technology, plus the customiz-
able render passes, made choosing XSI
an easy decision.”
Scheduled for release in late 2007,
The Legend of Secret Pass is an inter-
national production with teams in sev-

LSP Character Copyright JCZ


eral countries collaborating with Digital
Dimension’s studios in Montreal, the di-
NEW MEDIA

rector and design/storyboarding team


in Sydney, Australia, and post-produc-
tion operations in Los Angeles.
Brit Cels Try Out TDtv: And one more
blast over Rupert Murdoch’s bow, who
trashed podcasts earlier this year by ques- more people will be downloading and pod- matched combination of performance and
tioning how many people were really inter- casting to their heart’s content. According economics has the potential to put Or-
ested in watching entertainment or news to IPWireless execs, TDtv will allow mobile ange in the lead in the emerging mobile
on a tiny screen. IPWireless has announced operators to deliver up to 50 channels of multimedia market,” says Dr. Bill Jones, IP-
plans to make British-based cell phone TV for standard cell phone screens or 17 Wireless’ COO.
carrier Orange the first UMTS operator to higher-res channels. Unlike current uni- The company’s TD-CDMA technology
Beta-test the new IPWireless TDtv tech- cast mobile TV services, which take addi- has become a leading global standard for
nology later this year. The software is a tional network bandwidth for every sub- wireless broadband. The company says T-
mobile TV and multimedia solution based scriber, TDtv will allow an unlimited num- Mobile, Orange, Sprint, PCCW and others
on the 3GPP Multimedia Broadcast and ber of customers to watch the same chan- will soon be deploying the standard in their
Multicast Services (MBMS) standard. nel or use the same network bandwidth. systems. If they get any better at this stuff
Why is this a big deal? Because it’ll make With TDtv, Orange would also be able to and they start making a lot of money for
it possible for cell phone carriers to stream deliver digital audio, multicast or other IP their clients, IPWireless may find itself to
more content at higher resolutions, which, data cast services to enhance their ser- be an attractive take-over possibility. Even
in turn, makes it more likely that even vice offerings. “We believe that the un- by the Murdoch-led News Corp. Q

56 April 2006 ANIMATION MAGAZINE www.animationmagazine.net

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CARTOONS ON THE BAY


RAI TRADE
via Umberto Novaro, 18
00195 Roma, Italia
tel. +39 06.37498315
STUDIO VITALE

fax +39 06.37515631


cartoonsbay@raitrade.it
____________
www.cartoonsbay.com

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The Toast of Sundance:


left to right, back row:
Konstantin Abadjiev, Ariel
Alvarez, David Chai, Wally Der
front row: Tim Heitz, Lauren It was as bare bones as you could get.”
Andrews, Sophorn Sin Some participants earned intern credits,
while others just worked for the experi-
ence—and the free pizza supplied by
Chai.
One major technical advantage was
that a previous Chai-organized SJSU
short, Neighborhood Roots, had been a
finalist in the Adobe Design Achieve-
ment Awards. That earned the school
multiple copies of Adobe’s Video Collec-
tion, which included Photoshop, Pre-
miere Pro, After Effects, Encore DVD and
Audition. Because Fumi used Adobe
products, the company sponsored Sun-
dance presentations given by Chai’s stu-
dents. (Adobe even found Park City hotel
rooms for them so they wouldn’t have to
bunk in a friend’s basement.)
School Project The ability of these students to han-
dle Fumi presentations with aplomb is a

Shines at Sundance direct result of SJSU’s approach to edu-


cation, believes Chai. “Our students are
used to presenting their ideas well be-
cause they participate weekly in the
San Jose State University puts its best Foot forward. ACME long-distance learning component
by Ellen Wolff that we have.”
That program, created by Dave Master,

F
umi and the Bad Luck Foot might Hardware donated by HP was in the presents online sessions with industry
be one of the more enigmatic ti- process of being set up at the school, pros from studios like Pixar, DreamWorks
tles shown recently at Sundance, but the looming Sundance deadline and Disney. Chai explains, “It’s a very
but it also shows that the animation pro- meant Fumi couldn’t wait. Chai recalls, symbiotic part of our curriculum. Profes-
gram at San Jose State University is on “For the most part, we scanned our draw-
solid footing. Fumi, a traditionally ani- ings by bringing in machines from home. continued on page 60
mated short that presents a
comic twist on the power of
superstition, was directed
by SJSU instructor David
Chai. But it reflects the ef-
forts of 20 students—fresh-
man and seniors—who spent
55 summer days producing
the seven-minute film.
Having Fumi selected from
OPPORTUNITIES

among 4,000 short films


submitted to Sundance was
all the more remarkable
when you consider that it
was made in one room at
San Jose State. Chai admits,
“People were amazed that
we did it there. We used our
laptops with Flipbook and
little web-cams taped to
_________________________
sticks.”

58 April 2006 ANIMATION MAGAZINE www.animationmagazine.net

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_____________________

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Corey Tom (left) and


Andrew Ho (right), flip
away their summer!

Fumi and the Bad Luck Foot While SJSU offers classes in both tra-I would never want to exploit them, so
continued from page 58
ditional and computer animation, Chai whenever Thunderbean gets assign-
sional animators look at student work says, “We don’t try to push either one. ments that I can refer students to, it’s
ranging from story to layout to anima- What we do impress on students is that one of the greatest rewards to be able
tion. It’s been instrumental in raising the the way they work in our curriculum is a to pay them.”
bar at San Jose State.” direct reflection of how they will work Which is quite a stretch from the free
Chai, who graduated from the school professionally. I think group projects pro-
pizza pipeline that fueled the making
with an illustration degree, stresses the vide crucial experiences for students, of Fumi and the Bad Luck Foot. San Jo-
strides that SJSU’s animation program especially in their younger years. And se’s animation program itself has also
has made during its 10-year history. “One working on Fumi and Neighborhood flourished since the one-room Fumi
cool thing is that the main people run- Roots, I could tell the guys I’d want to production last summer. It now bene-
ning it—Bunny Carter and Courtney Gra- hire right off the bat.” fits from a variety of industry-donated
ner—both have illustration back- gear—from Electronic Arts and
grounds. So drawing is a huge “People were amazed that we did it DreamWorks Animation as well
part of our program. It’s really a as Adobe and HP.
testament to their dedication
there [in one room at San Jose State]. All of which has Chai thinking
that we’ve had such strong re- We used our laptops with Flipbook big about future student films.
sults in animation. Our gradu-
and little web-cams taped to sticks!” “I’d like to see them pick up the
ates work at ILM, Blue Sky, Pixar, baton and have ten projects
Film Roman, DreamWorks, Dis- —David Chai, San Jose State University instructor and coming out every summer. We
ney and gaming companies like director of Fumi and the Bad Luck Foot have so many artists with crazy
Electronic Arts and Sony Games. ideas. They even have a cool ani-
For such a small school with a limited That opportunity could actually arise, mation club (ShrunkenHeadMan.com)
budget, it’s amazing that we have such since Chai is a partner in Thunderbean that shows what a great creative cul-
a high success rate.” Animation (which he calls a wall-less ture we have. Of course when you have
Chai also thinks that one of the studio) that has worked on projects for no money, you have to be creative!” Q
strengths of the program is its diversity. Disney, Warner Bros. and Hasbro. “If a job Ellen Wolff is a Los Angeles-based jour-
“Our Fumi crew had Bulgarians, Canadi- came in through Thunderbean, I know I nalist who focuses on visual effects
ans, Japanese, Chinese, Koreans, Cam- could pick students who would do it well. and related academic programs.
bodians and Argentineans. It’s really a Team Fumi: left to right, back row: David Coffman, John Paul Balmet,
melting pot here. Since it’s a state col- Megan Kelly, Amie Chan, Konstantin Abadjiev, Ji-Hea Yang
lege, the tuition is cheap compared to front row: Wally Der, Ping Wei Luo, Patrick Roth
lots of private schools.”
OPPORTUNITIES

60 April 2006 ANIMATION MAGAZINE www.animationmagazine.net

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Not
All Magic
Involves Being
Chained Up
Inside a Coffin
Underwater
Houdini™ & Nuke™
Certification
at VFS

Leave your audiences spellbound and blown away.


Become an escapist artist at VFS. For advanced
3D animation students, VFS offers a one-of-a-kind
visual effects initiation in two of the world’s most
advanced platforms for creating 21st century magic,
Houdini™ and Nuke™.
This four-month course is a fully hands-on
experience that guarantees every VFS student
leaves equipped with the creative firepower to
stay on target with the highest standards set
by top Hollywood effects studios.
Like all the programs at VFS, Houdini™ and Nuke™
is designed to prepare the next generation of talent
for specific careers in the most exciting and creative
industry in the world. How? Every student graduates
with a demo reel or a portfolio of original work – the
ultimate calling card.

Visit VFS at Booth 1344 Vancouver Film School


Game Developers Conference Where Results Matter
San José, C A
March 22 to 24, 2006
San José Convention Center 1.800.661.4101
410 Almaden Blvd. www.vfs.com

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that are not central to


Writing for Animation? the story. It is important
to really know the proj-

Draw on Experience. ect you are working on.


Focus on the key objec-
tives of the project and
wean out those things
A toon biz veteran offers some practical advice on how to
in the script that aren’t
create the right scripts for cartoons. by Fred Crippen essential to telling the
story. Fred Crippen

H
aving worked in animation for over half a century, currently working on, an educational animated TV series Another sign of the
I’ve learned a thing or two about the process—ev- for preschool children called Betsy’s Kindergarten Adven- new animation writer is seen in character motion. In live-
ery part of the process. I’ve worked with UPA, tures. It’s a delightful series with some of the best voice action, moving a person from point A to point B is a fairly
Hanna-Barbera, Disney, DIC, Sony and countless others in actors in the business today. Just as important, if not simple process. In animation, motion is naturally more
my years in the business. more to me, is that the project is employing the talents of complex. A writer can add countless hours of animation by
I’ve been an inbetweener, assistant animator, animator, top-notch writers who are veteran writers for animation. having characters doing unnecessary walk-ins and walk-
animation director, director and a series creator. When it The stories they are turning out are first class in terms outs. Knowing when these are needed and when they
comes to 2D animation, there’s not a single aspect of the of being entertaining while educating. Even better, their would be unnecessarily costly is the mark of a real pro.
business I haven’t done. And I continue to work actively experience in writing for animation saves me significant New animation writers will also have trouble with script
even today. Yes, after 50 years in animation, I have not yet time in pre-production. With skilled writers on board, tap- length. Being a little over or under is generally no big deal.
drawn my last breath as a working animator and director ing and pre-production move much more quickly and pain- But, if you as a writer are submitting scripts several min-
(pun intended). lessly. utes over or under, know that this does add work for the
While there has been a lot written in these pages about You see, writing for animation is a skill best acquired by director and can lead to costly delays. There is no cutting-
the art and science of animation, there is one job in anima- being involved in the business over a long time, learning room floor in animation. You don’t draw more than you
tion that doesn’t get much play. That would be the art of the ropes. Remember, all the scenes a writer might envi- need and then cut from there. Timing is critical, and a good
writing for animation. sion have to be drawn, one frame at a time. The more animation writer has a good sense of timing.
There is something that’s not often exam- Giving clear direction in the script is
ined when learning the art of animation, and also very important. For example, in one
that is the challenge that inexperienced writ- daydream scene on another project I
ers can pose to animators themselves. worked on, the writer had a character
Not all animation projects have the seem- standing on a clock and then being
ingly unlimited resources of a Disney, Pixar or swept off by the moving hands. Unfortu-
DreamWorks. In fact, the vast majority of ani- nately, the writer failed to describe
mation work is done for television or DVD re- where “on” the clock was. Was the char-
lease. On these projects, budgets can be tight. acter on top of the clock, or was the
Writing for animation is not the same character on the face? What did the
as writing for live-action. You have to re- writer actually envision here? So, if you
member that when writing scenes for ani- are writing a scene like this, picture it in
mation, everything has to be drawn. Every your mind, and then convey that in the
character, every movement, every prop, script. A little direction can save the di-
every element of every scene has to be rector valuable time.
brought to life by the animators. complex the scene, the more time spent in animation. Finally, I’ll leave you with this one tip I give to all new
So, when a writer not accustomed to working in this As an example, in one scene of a show I was working on, writers I work with. Watch cartoons, all kinds of cartoons.
field suggests a character run into a house of mirrors in a a character and her mother were going to the park and the Watch as much as you can. And as you watch, look at how
scene, he or she would be quite unaware of the enormous writer had a carnival going on with lots of people, rides, at- the various scenes are done. I’ve gotten great ideas on
OPPORTUNITIES

amount of work it would take. tractions and so on. He’d gone into great detail on this how to cut work, without cutting quality or story integrity,
I remember an episode of Skyhawks that was done by carnival scene, and it was a really nice one. But the writer by watching others’ work. You can learn much from ob-
a fairly new writer. There was a scene where the writer had didn’t realize the amount of extra work that would be re- serving the work of the many animation pros who are ap-
a circus train crash and he had all these zebras, leopards, quired to animate the scene. plying their hard-won experience to this industry. Q
tigers and giraffes and so on running around the train. If Since the scene was not really central to the story line, Fred Crippen is an animation veteran whose
you’ve done any animation at all, you’ll see the problem I simply cut it and turned it into a simple shot of mom in career stretches from UPA in the early ’50s
immediately. All those spots and stripes running hither the car announcing they were now at the park and then a to the films he produces at his studio Panto-
and yon were a bit beyond the animation budget of Sky- cut to an exterior shot showing the car drive under a “Park” mime Pictures today. His numerous credits
hawks. I’ve had hundreds of similar experiences in my sign. include Roger Ramjet, Hot Wheels, Square
many years in the business. This is a mistake typical of writers new to animation. One TV and the upcoming series, Betsy’s
On the flip side would be something like the project I’m It’s easy to get carried away with adding lots of details Kindergarten Adventures.

62 April 2006 ANIMATION MAGAZINE www.animationmagazine.net

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You want to express yourself through your artwork. We’ll help you transform your talent into a creatiive
career with a hands-on, real-world education and personalized attention from experienced facultyy.

Administrative Office: 210 Sixth Avenue, 33rd Floor, Pittsburgh, PA 15222-2603

artinstitutes.edu/an • 1.800.592.0700
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GAME ART & DESIGN | MEDIA ARTS & ANIMATION | GRAPHIC DESIGN
32 locations throughout North America. Not all programs offered at all locations. Want to learn online and in the classroom? Explore our Plus program that lets you do both.

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(400 R Street, Suite 5000, Sacramento, CA 95814-6200, (916) 445-3427, www.bppve.ca.gov) in order to enable the Bureau to conduct a quality inspection of the institution. ***The Art Institute Online is a division of The Art Institute of Pittsburgh, PA.
Art: Top Left: LaRoyce Jones, Media Arts & Animation, Student, The Art Institute of Las Vegas • Top Right: Carly Bosanko, Graphic Design, Student, The Art Institutes International Minnesota
Bottom Left: Jaclyn Threadgill, Graphic Design, Student, The Art Institute of Phoenix • Bottom Right: Zion Breton, Media Arts & Animation, Graduate, The Illinois Institute of Art — Chicago
©2006 by The Art Institutes International, Inc.® 11658 01/06

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ADVERTISER INDEX
Advertisers in Alphabetical Order
Academy of Art University E3
www.academyart.edu 59 www.e3expo.com 9
Animation Block Party Expression
http://www.animationblock.com/ 19 11
Annecy Filmax
www.annecy.org Inside Front Cover www.filmax.com Back Cover
The Art Institutes Full Sail
www.artinstitutes.edu/an www.fullsail.com 61
Boxx The German Film School
www.boxxtech.com/apexx4 3 www.filmschool.de
____________ 65
Broadcast Asia JourneyEd.com
www.Broadcast-Asia.com 17 www.journeyed.com 65
Brozers Inc Licensing2006
www.brozers.com 7 www.licensingshow.com/property 41
Cal Arts Lightfoot
www.calarts.edu 65 www.lightfootltd.com 65
Cartoon Colour MPSC www.mpsc839.org/mpsc839
www.cartooncolour.com 65 Inside Back Cover
Cartoons on the Bay Polhemus
www.cartoonsbay.com 49 www.polhemus.com/minuteman.htm 19
CartoonSupplies Reel Women _________________________
www.cartoonsupplies.com 65 www.rwiff.com 45
Cartoon Forum Siggraph
www.cartoon-media.be 43 www.siggraph.org/s2006 47
Center for Digital Imaging Arts at Boston Uni- VanArts (Vancouver Institute of Media Arts)
___________________
versity www.digitalimagingarts.com 63 www.vanarts.com 63
Collins College Vancouver Film School
www.collinscollege.edu 61 www.vfs.com 57
DAZ Warner Home Video
www.daz3d.com 5 www.warnervideo.com 31

Animation Magazine
Congratulates the 2006 Gamer’s Rad Pack Winners!
Thanks to all the readers who participated in our online poll for the best games of the past
year. Gamers and industry pros logged on to www.animationmagazine.net and picked this
year’s winners in various categories. Look for interviews with the winners in the next issue of
the magazine.

Best Console Game (Tie) Best Handheld Game Best Character Design
Call of Duty 2: Big Red One Nintendogs Ultimate Spider-Man
[Activision/Treyarch] [Nintendo] [Activision/Treyarch]
Resident Evil 4
[Capcom/Capcom Production Best Cut Scene Cinematic Best Overall Game Animation
Studio 4] Animation Peter Jackson’s King Kong: The
Ratchet & Clank: Deadlocked Official Game of the Movie
Best PC Game [Sony Computer Entertainment [Vivendi Universal Games/
World of Warcraft America/Insomniac Games] Ubisoft]
[Vivendi Universal Games/
Blizzard Ent.]

www.animationmagazine.net ANIMATION MAGAZINE April 2006 67

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A DAY IN THE LIFE
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K eeping with the Asian focus


of the issue, we asked the
fun-loving folks at Singapore’s
Peach Blossom Media to give us
a little show-and-tell. Among the
toon house’s credits are Tomato
Twins and the upcoming series
Tao Shu - The Warrior Boy.

Mini-Lingun takes the hot seat when Big


Lingun goes on his frequent L.A. trips.

Sean’s designing an e-card for his mother.


Now he’s got to get her a computer.

Lingun Sung, CEO of Peach Blossom, shows us his


favorite dance move, “The Running Man.” Linli, our producer, visits the medical shop
downstairs wonders which chinese remedy she’ll try
today. Yesterday’s seahorse and black fungus soup
just didn’t quite cure her cold.

Noor, our production assistant, having her


daily chats with her best friends in the office.

Yippee! Found it. Lingzhi Mushrooms and


Dangshen...apparently it’s good for the spleen
Toon, our business manager, sits and ponders his
and the occasional nose bleed.
lunch options, chicken rice, satay or laksa?

Sean, our animator, reveals his true feelings


for inflatable dolls.

Andy, our writer, with his version of “curling up


Hmmm, all I need now is a hammock and a sexy with a good read.”
thong...

You see, in paragraph four, section 2(b), it clearly Danny, our animation director, brainstorms
Our modest, tiny patch on the “Wall of Fame” says that employees can bring in furry pets. with some of our other colleagues.

68 April 2006 ANIMATION MAGAZINE www.animationmagazine.net

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