Friday, April 04, 2008

Toony Links

Mr. Lee in a slightly younger incarnation ...

More end-of-week linkage, starting with ...

Stan Lee, a seasoned citizen still churning out new ideas and products, sets up three with the Mouse House:

Comic book legend Stan Lee has set up three projects at Disney, which houses his production shingle POW! Entertainment.

The projects are based on stories and ideas from the 85-year-old man behind Spider-Man and the Hulk, who will executive produce with his POW! partner Gill Champion ...

DreamWorks Animation announces the music composers for its June animation release:

Dreamworks Animation confirmed to Upcoming Film Scores today that the upcoming Kung Fu Panda gets an original score co-written by Hans Zimmer and John Powell. This marks the first collaboration in eight years between the highly prolific composers, who worked together on Dreamworks' The Road to El Dorado and the action thriller Chill Factor in 1999 ...

And Nickelodeon wants us all to visit Monkey World(c)!

Nickelodeon is building a virtual world in a bid to increase revenue in the real world.

The company is expected to announce Thursday that it is developing an entire virtual world, involving games, avatars and a strong social-networking component, based on network hit "SpongeBob SquarePants."

Nick also is expected to announce that it is developing Monkey World, a social-networking and massive multiplayer game based on an original concept and not tied to any of its existing franchises.

The network also will announce that it will increase the interactivity on its Neopets site through a new virtual world called World of Neopia, and will add a paid tier to Nicktropolis ...

Crest Animation (of India) and the owner or RichCrest Animation (of Burbank, California) plans to start producing and releasing one animated feature per year for the U.S. and world markets:

Its first international co-production with Lionsgate (LGF.N: Quote, Profile, Research), 'Alpha and Omega', is targetting a 2010 release and the animation producer is looking for more such tie-ups, said A.K. Madhavan, chief executive officer, on Friday.

"We have already started talking five projects with them," Madhavan said. "The slate will continue to grow so long as the movies are well done and getting box office hits."

"There are at least two other major distributors, who we are talking to," he said, without identifying these companies.

Crest's U.S.-based subsidiary, RichCrest Animation, entered into the deal with Lions Gate Entertainment in August 2006 for three animation films.

RichCrest was founded by former Disney director Rick Rich. The company produced, among many other films, the hand-drawn feature The Swan Princess before being purchased by Crest.

Pixar director Andrew Stanton talks about the upcoming Wall-E with the college crowd:

The concept for "Wall-E" first swam around Stanton's head as he was writing "Finding Nemo," which won him the Academy Award for Best Animated Feature in 2003. "Wall-E" was a long time in the making though, because Stanton felt that he "needed a few hits under his belt" before he could sell the idea to producers. Because Wall-E speaks his own language, much like R2-D2, Stanton felt the project was riskier.

"That's just enough of a radical idea for a conventional movie," Stanton said.

Another Pixar topkick, computer scientist Tony DeRose, discusses production techniques and pipelines with a rapt audience at Hamilton College:

DeRose, who holds a doctorate in computer science from the University of California, Berkeley, and won a 2006 Academy Award for his animation work, began his talk discussing the production pipeline of Pixar films ... Much of the modeling is done using software packages written in-house, with more than 10 million lines of code. To make their creations easier to animate, animators "rig" the characters, or define the ways in which parts of the body can move relative to each other in a fashion similar to putting strings on a marionette. The process is exhaustive; in the case of the face, Pixar's models typically have 300 points of articulation, whereas a real-life human face can move in only 30 ways ...

The trades have been filled with speculation about where a large shareholder of DreamWorks Animation might be going with his career in the near future:

...there's already talk that Spielberg might look for funding to begin rebuilding DreamWorks for life after Par[amount].

Such a DreamWorks II would no doubt be a smaller business than its progenitor, with a smaller slate and maybe no animation -- unless it were to merge with DWA. Insiders at DWA insist that there's been zero discussion of that latter possibility, which is just one of many scenarios spun by industryites on the periphery of the situation.

I'm now out the door and off into Friday's business. I come across something truly awesome, I will add it here.

Addendum: Chris Wedge receives the Tex Avery Animation Award:

... [Wedge] also says that Mr. Avery's "crazy and chaotic" cartoons made an impression on him that seems contradictory to today's 'toon world. "They were like dreams or hallucinations where anything could happen at any moment. That seems a far cry from what animation has become in this age of big business and cutting-edge technology.

"You think about the environment those shorts were created in. There was very little pressure for those things to be anything but hilarious. I happen to work in an environment where there is a lot of pressure to operate within a very demanding business model. But maybe I'm just talking as someone who's seen what's behind the curtain. And I probably shouldn't underestimate how difficult it was to put those films together. But they sure feel carefree.

Addendum II: A fine profile of the trials and travails of the cartoon voice actor, as exemplified by cartoon voice actor Bob Bergen:

"I have done almost every Disney animated feature since 'The Hunchback of Notre Dame,' " Bergen explained. "I've done most of the Pixar films. I've been Comet the Reindeer in the 'Santa Clause' movies and Luke Skywalker on 'Robot Chicken' and in Star Wars video games. I'm not Tim Allen. I'm not Don Rickles. I'm not Tom Hanks. They're going to play the leads. And I'm fine with that. I play the squirrel. I play the robot. I play the baby.

"Would I like to play the lead?" he continued. "Sure. Will my name on the marquee bring people in? No. Do studio executives care if I'm the squirrel or not? No. Am I happy to be working and getting paid my residuals? You bet. Look, if you're really interested in this, it really doesn't matter what's involved or what the obstacles are. If you're meant to do it, you're going to do it."

In the meantime, be excellent to each other.


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