Tuesday, April 28, 2009


Some end-of-April news bites about Cartoonland, beginning with our Culver City friends.

Sony is like a motivated football player that gets knocked down. It just gets up and keeps going:

Sony Pictures and stop-frame animation house Aardman Animations are moving forward with two animated features, "Arthur Christmas" and "Pirates!"

"Pirates!" sees Aardman co-founder Peter Lord back behind the camera for a movie done in hand-crafted stop-motion animation, the company's signature style seen in films such as "Wallace & Gromit in the Curse of Were-Rabbit" and "Chicken Run," while "Christmas" will be produced wholly in CGI.

Aardman signed a three-year, first-look deal with Sony in 2007, though no projects had been announced. The company, which had parted ways with DreamWorks Animation in the wake of the disappointing performance of "Flushed Away," has spent the past two years hunkered down in deep development, honing several scripts. "Pirates!" and "Christmas" are the first two to land on the production runway.

Clone Wars is going to get explanatory text. I can't wait.

The network is replaying the entire first season, but has adopted a pop-up video-style presentation for what it is calling Star Wars: The Clone Wars: Decoded ...

... [E]pisodes ... feature text windows providing insight into various aspects of the galactic conflict. These pop-ups may include trivia, and background on characters and storylines ...

Pixar rolls out a chunk of its latest short subject:

Their new short takes place in the world of baby-delivering storks, and it’s called Partly Cloudy. ... “Everyone knows that the stork delivers babies, but where do the storks get the babies from?"

I was told babies are found by the storks beneath cabbage leaves. I might be misinformed, since my wife often stretches the truth.

On the other side of the globe, Thailand has been in the news lately with riots and demonstration against the central government, but at the same time its 'toon industry is going through growing pains:

... "Thai animation quality is high, but we can't compete with China, which quotes lower prices," said Monk Studio managing director Nitipat Somsaman. The company is a major subcontractor for Asian and Western markets.

He said subcontracting demand from Hollywood and Europe is huge, as the foreign producers want to cut costs. Boosting the subcontracting business is the fact that Thailand can offer high-quality products at reasonable prices, compared to China's cheaper prices and lower quality ...

Oscar-nominated animator Cordell Barker drops into Cannes with a new creation:

The nine-minute piece is about a driverless train that careens over bumpy tracks, its passengers oblivious to impending disaster. When the train breaks down, a class struggle ensues.

Barker says he's amazed the short was accepted at Cannes, noting it was far from finished when "a really hideous rough assembly" was sent in for consideration roughly three weeks ago.

"And amazingly enough, they accepted it," Barker exclaimed ...

And to remind us that hand-drawn animation is happening at other places besides the hat building in Burbank, there's this:

[Isle of Black Mor is set] in the year 1803, on the Cornish coast where a 15-year-old Kid escapes from the orphanage and lived the life of a hard-labour prisoner. His only possession is the map of a treasure island that fell from the book of Black Mor and with two wreck looters, MacGregor and Beanpole, Kid goes off in search of the famous island way across the Atlantic Ocean ...

“I could not help comparing this project to a boat which never manages to get out to sea: the script was turned down by French broadcasters, there was no producer, the development budget was pared down to a minimum. In the meantime we continued to believe in the project" ...

Thank God nothing like that ever happens around here, eh?

Here's how American animated features get made:

“You constantly want to think about how to get away from it all, and one day I had the mental image of a house flying through the air, and from there I developed the idea for the film,” [Pixar director Pete] Docter said ...

Simple, no?


Anonymous said...

I thought it was based on that very well known story about the guy who tied a bunch of balloons to a lawn chair, grabbed his pellet gun, and went flying for an afternoon. The simplicity of that story is compelling.

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