Saturday, March 22, 2008


One more load of linkage, starting with the return and restoration of Disney artwork left in a museum closet for a few decades:

Disney said that the art — cels, backgrounds, preliminary paintings and storyboard sketches — was part of a collection that was handpicked by Walt Disney himself. It was sent to Japan in 1960 for a touring exhibition timed to the opening of the film “Sleeping Beauty.” The exhibition opened at Mitsukoshi Department Store in Tokyo in May of that year and traveled to 16 other stores throughout Japan.

“Walt wanted to explain every element of the animation process, so he chose artwork from all phases of production and a number of films,” said Lella Smith, creative director of the Disney Animation Research Library in Burbank, Calif., which preserves the studio’s artwork. “But the primary focus was ‘Sleeping Beauty.’ ”

Although most of the art is from that film, the collection also includes rare set-ups (cel and background combinations) from two Oscar-winning Silly Symphony cartoons: “Flowers and Trees” (1932), the first Technicolor cartoon and the first film to win the Academy Award for animated short film, and the landmark short “Three Little Pigs” (1933).

The Indian animation company Toonz is apparently kicking into a higher gear:

Toonz started out in 1999 as an animation subcontractor doing the unglamorous legwork for companies that controlled the creative process from the U.S. or elsewhere in Asia. But three years later it made a conscious decision to quit the service sector and take control of its own destiny. The gamble paid off, and Toonz is now courted by potential partners and negotiates its own deals with intellectual property owners and distributors. "We are no longer beggars," says founder and chairman Prabhakaran Jayakumar.

Proof of that is evident from Toonz's slate. Company is partnered with Hallmark on 78-episode kids serial "Finley, the Fire Truck," is hitched with Ashok Amritraj's Hyde Park on "The Life and Adventures of Santa Claus," and with Marvel on the $10 million "Wolverine and the X-Men" series. It recently delivered a direct-to-video feature, "Dragonlance," for Paramount Pictures.

"We went and licensed 'Wolverine' from Marvel, we are doing the production and the packaging," says Jayakumar. "On 'Dragonlance,' we went to Hasbro and it was us who approached Paramount."

Company also develops its own content for the Indian market, notably India's first homegrown animated series, "The Adventures of Tenali Raman," and "Geet Mahabarat." ...

DreamWorks Animation has gone and hired itself a new topkick for development:

DreamWorks Animation SKG has named Alex Schwartz head of development, responsible for overseeing the development of all projects at the toon factory. She fills the position vacated by Kristine Belson, who will produce the studio's upcoming feature film, Crood Awakening [This is Chris Sanders' project.].

“As we see the line between live action and animation continue to blur, we are eager to broaden our slate and bring new talent into the studio,” says Bill Damaschke, co-president of production at DreamWorks Animation.

The New Wall*E trailer (like, if you haven't seen it) is here.

Starz Media is producing an animated version of Electronic Arts's Dead Space.:

EA will partner with Starz Media which will produce an animated film for TV and DVDs which will appear at the same time that Dead Space launches this Halloween. The game is akin a third-person shooting game where a crew aboard a mining ship has to deal with the discovery of a strange artifact and the aliens that come with it.

This move is part of a clear strategy by Electronic Arts to turn its video games into cross-media entertainment franchises. EA realizes that movie and book licenses are becoming increasingly expensive. It also sees that Hollywood studios such as Warner Bros. are investing heavily in their own video game divisions ...

Actually this baby is already well into work. Board artists were working away on it when I ambled through the studio last week. But now that it's been announced on the internets, I can unsipper my big mouth.

The L.A. Times profiles a tribute to two of animation's finest:

[Tex Avery and Michael Maltese], who worked briefly together at Warner Bros. in the 1930s and remained good friends, were both born in 1908 -- which is why the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences is presenting a double centennial tribute, "Putting Looney in the Toons," on Monday at the Linwood Dunn Theater.

"We're showing about a dozen cartoons in their entirety that will reflect their individual accomplishments," programmer Randy Haberkamp says. "And we're running sound clips and a couple of other pieces that will serve to give them a little bit of voice as far as them talking about their own work." (Avery died in 1980; Maltese, in 1981.)

Maltese's daughter, Brenda, is also scheduled to talk about her dad. "He was always funny . . . he had charisma," she says. "He would walk in a room and take over." ...

Her father, she says, used his home environment for his art. "He took a lot of [his ideas] from our animals. We had dogs and cats, and he would pick up on anything."

The dvd for Enchanted is now out, and visual references in the flick to various Disney animated features have been flogged until the bones show. Even so, Rope of Silicon has taken the time to line a lot of them up:

The Academy Awards and Annies aren't the only animation awards out there. Far across the sea, India also holds an awards contest:

... Tech 2 and Arena Animation in association with Aptech and CNBC 18 held the Golden Cursor Animation Awards on 20 March, 2008 in Mumbai.

The event saw a massive turnout in terms of the who's who in the Indian Animation Industry. These awards were awarded in 21 categories including best Indian and international feature film (animation). The guests of honor included Speedy comic strip creator Tim Mostert and Spark Unlimited Animation director and co-founder Sunil Thankamushy.

Percept Studios won two awards for Return of Hanuman for Best Animated Film (Abhishek Nayyar) and Best Animated Background Score (Tapas Reliya) ...

An exhibit of the works of one Carl Barks is now up for viewing at a Geppi's Entertainment Museum in Baltimore:

... Born to Oregon farmers in 1901, Barks spent years as a laborer and struggling cartoonist before joining Walt Disney's animation team in 1935. In 1942, he left the studio, due to health reasons, and tried farming. But he soon began writing and drawing comic books, anonymously, for Western (aka Dell and Whitman), the publisher of Disney comics. After a time drawing all sorts of characters, he settled on Donald Duck comics, and over the next quarter century ... created Duckburg, Uncle Scrooge, Gyro Gearloose, and other familiar characters and settings and cartooned hundreds of duck tales in titles such as Walt Disney's Comics and Stories.

...The chance to see a full original story is an opportunity that can't be passed up for anyone interested in Barks or comic-book history in general. To connect with an artist, to reflect on his life and work, there may be no better way to do so than seeing his actual pencil and ink lines, to see the whiteout and other corrections. Despite the somewhat clumsy gallery configuration and Barks' too-slick line work on "Yukon," his skills still shine. He sweeps his characters along in this story of Uncle Scrooge, Donald, and his nephews heading to Alaska to prevent some chiseler from taking Scrooge's fortune ...

Have a productive yet restful Easter weekend. And please, don't over indulge in chocolate eggs and rabbits.


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