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Vicki Tracy

Tuesday, August 31, 1999

Animation Artist Interviews Mark Whiting!
Animation Artist Magazine has added another interview to the Interviews section, this time with Mark Whiting, the Production Designer for The Iron Giant.  Whiting gives some excellent insight into the production of The Iron Giant, talks about a number of things including the pre-production trip to Maine, why the film is set in the 50's, the crew being understaffed, and how the iron Giant got its look. The interview includes quite a few pictures (see link at the end of the interview). You can access the interview directly by clicking here .

Live Chat with Prince of Egypt Lead Animator
DVD File will be hosting a live chat with The Prince of Egypt Lead Animator Henry LaBounta tonight to talk about The Prince of Egypt and the DVD being released in September. The chat begins at 7PM Pacific Standard Time.
Click here for information on how to access it.

Monday, August 30, 1999

Animation Artist Issues a Request for Columnists
Animation Artist Magazine is looking for some great writers for regular monthly Web columns. If you have good writing skills, please contact us (place "Columnists" in the subject header). Here are some column ideas we are looking to fill (you may submit your own idea too):

1) Regular tutorials with animation software programs (i.e. Maya, Softimage, LightWave, Animation Master, Electric Image, 3D Studio Max, etc.).

2) Inside Animation - a column from the perspective of an animation artist within the industry.

3) Animation techniques - techniques for 2D and/or 3D animators.

If you are interested in becoming a columnist, please email [email protected] with your column idea. We'll then send you more details.

Sunday, August 29, 1999

The Iron Giant Remains at 17th on Saturday
The Iron Giant remained 17th at the Box OFfice on Saturday, bringing in $484,000. That brings its three week total to $18.6 million.

School Renamed in Britain Because of South Park!
BBC News reports that the "South Park Infants" school is being renamed to "The Orchards" due to the irreverant South Park series. Because the name South Park has such a strong recognition, due to the adult-themed cartoon series, the show played a role in the decision to change the name of the school to rid it of perceived association. Earlier this year, some schools in Britain started a campaign to warn parents of the cartoon.

Saturday, August 28, 1999

The Iron Giant Places 17th on Friday
The Iron Giant placed 17th in Friday's Box Office, bringing in only $309,000 with a very poor per screen average of only $237. In its first three weeks of release, The Iron Giant has brought in $18 million and is expected to end its Box Office run at around $24 million. Warner Bros. marketing is taking most of the heat for the disappointing results. The Iron Giant wasn't even previewed on the DVD of The King and I (which came out in July). Instead there were previews of Ace Ventura: When Nature Calls, Ace Ventura: Pet Detective, Wild America , and Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves. Disney, on the other hand, had Tarzan previews (including continuous behind the scenes featurettes) on it family video releases leading up to the theatrical opening of Tarzan. There are indications that Warner Bros. will be launching a big marketing campaign for the video and DVD release of The Iron Giant.

Friday, August 27, 1999

LA Times Attacks Warner Bros. Over its Handling of The Iron Giant!
The Los Angeles Times attacked Warner Bros. today over its handling of The Iron Giant. In an article titled, "It's Here, Why Aren't You Watching," author Charles Solomon states, "Warner Bros. must bear much of the blame for this lack of financial success. Studio executives ignored Iron Giant while squandering tens of millions of dollars on Wild Wild West and its promotion. They delayed setting a release date until April, which made it nearly impossible for the marketing staff to arrange for the merchandising tie-ins that have--for better or for worse--become a crucial part of the release of an animated and/or family film." Click here to read the entire article. (Note: this will take you off the Animation Artist site. When you're done, simply click "Back" to return.)

Thursday, August 26, 1999

Netter Digital Pays $8 Million for Animated Series
Netter Digital Entertainment Inc. Thursday announced that it has signed a contract valued at approximately $8.0 million to produce 26 one-half-hour episodes of an animated television series based on one of England's most popular comic book characters.

Production of this new children's series, featuring 100 percent computer-generated animation, is scheduled to be completed over the next 12 months. Further details will be announced later this year.

Douglas Netter, chairman and chief executive officer, said: "We are thrilled to be involved in this exciting project," says Douglas Netter, chairman and chief executive officer. "Our success in winning this new business is the culmination of a diligent effort by all of us at the company to build on the leadership position in 3-D computer animation and special effects we established with `Babylon 5,' `Voltron: The Third Dimension' and other successful Netter Digital projects during the past few years. With our well-earned reputation for producing high-quality, fully computer-animated product, on time and on budget, we are confident that we will win additional contracts in the period ahead."

Starship Troopers Begins Tomorrow!
Check your listings and set your VCR. The new animated Starship Troopers series, with 3D animation from Foundation Imaging and Flat Earth Productions begins tomorrow! The name of the series has been changed from "Starship Troopers: The Animated Series" to "Roughnecks: The Starship Troopers Chronicles." It is scheduled to air on the Sci-Fi Channel, UPN, and other syndication channels. Since the channels and times differ (some won't start showing it until Monday), you will need to check your local listings or TV Guide. If you do a search of Internet TV guides, be sure to use the search word "roughnecks" when looking for it.

Wednesday, August 25, 1999

Creators of ANTZ to Make Sega Dreamcast TV Commercials
Sega of America today revealed the launch advertising campaign for the much-anticipated launch of Sega Dreamcast, the superconsole with a built-in 56K modem that will bring the most-advanced and realistic video gameplay ever developed to consumers at its retail launch on September 9, 1999. The campaign was created by Pacific Data Images, the creators of the award-winning animated feature film, Antz, under the direction of Foote, Cone & Belding, San Francisco. Utilizing models and assets straight from the Sega Dreamcast hardware and software, the spots feature Sega's beloved mascot Sonic the Hedgehog, more than forty 1st and 3rd party game characters and live-action and animated appearances by a range of NFL and NBA stars including Gary Payton, Penny Hardaway, Brian Grant, Allen Iverson and Randy Moss.

Part of a $100 million launch marketing blitz, the campaign will break on August 30 and will air on more than nine networks. Sega collaborated with PDI to create two-square-miles of fully animated 3-D environments that are the backdrop for each of the five executions, which feature live-action integration of digital game characters and NBA and NFL stars.

"Sega Dreamcast completely immerses players in a world that looks and feels so authentic, it blurs the lines between reality and game play and we wanted to replicate that breakthrough experience in our television advertising," said Peter Moore, senior vice president, Sega of America. "No other videogame console could take this bold approach because never before has there been a system with the technical capability to produce graphics of such a quality that they could be the focus of an entire 60-second broadcast spot."

"These spots are a true testament to the awesome quality of the Sega Dreamcast system -- what viewers see in these television ads is what they'll see when playing Sega Dreamcast," continued Moore.

Titled "In the Box," the series is the final phase of broadcast advertising for the Sega Dreamcast launch following a trio of 15-second teaser spots and the action-packed 60-second mini-movie "Apocalypse," which began airing nationwide as part of a teaser campaign earlier this summer. "In the Box" continues Sega's positioning of the "It's Thinking" tag line which refers to the technology engine inside Sega Dreamcast that can respond to and outsmart its human opponents. Each of the "In The Box" ads take viewers into the Sega Dreamcast world where characters from games live when they are not playing against their human opponents. In the humorous spots, viewers see Sega Dreamcast game characters work out, eat dinner, attend rave parties and advise one another on how to beat their human competition

Pinocchio DVD and VHS Coming Oct. 26, 1999
Buena Vista Home Entertainment proudly announced that the 60th Anniversary Edition of Disney's classic Pinocchio would be the first Disney Animated Masterpiece released in the DVD format.

Accompanying this momentous occasion, a new VHS edition of Pinocchio, fully restored and THX(R)-certified, will be available "day and date" with the DVD version, on Oct. 26, 1999. A special "Making of Pinocchio" bonus section, available only on the VHS edition, provides a fascinating look at how Walt Disney and his team of artists created Walt's 2nd Animated Masterpiece.

Families everywhere can now "wish upon a star" and re-discover a true classic -- winner of two Academy(TM) Awards(a) and enshrined in the Library of Congress -- for a limited time only. Filled with unforgettable adventure, wondrous music and legendary characters, the 60th Anniversary VHS edition of Pinocchio is available at the collectible price of $26.99 (SRP).

The 60th Anniversary Edition of Pinocchio features a special "Making Of" program, a fascinating behind-the-scenes look at the creative process that brought Disney's 2nd Animated Masterpiece to life. This bonus footage includes rare production shots, early ideas for the film that Walt Disney conceptualized, and a look at the amazing group of artists who helped turn Walt's dreams into reality.

The images of Pinocchio, the little wooden doll who comes alive, and Geppetto, the kindly woodcarver who longs for a son, are so legendary that they have become part of the upbringing for generations of children. The lessons of responsibility and honesty that Pinocchio learns on his journey to become a "real boy" have captivated audiences worldwide.

The film introduced Jiminy Cricket, who would appear again on film and television and become indelibly linked with Disney lore. The Academy Award-winning score (Best Score, 1940), composed of favorite songs such as "I've Got No Strings" and the Academy Award(TM)-winning "When You Wish Upon a Star," (Best song, 1940) are as timeless as the film itself.

Walt Disney's personal touch and the achievements of Disney's "golden age" artists make Pinocchio a cinematic icon, regarded as one of Walt's finest masterpieces. The film was completely crafted by hand, from the million-plus pencil drawings through the beautiful background paintings, creating a fantasyland of delightful imagination.

Based on a fairy tale by Carlo Lorenzini (using the pen name Carlos Collodi), Disney's Pinocchio stands as the definitive version of the fairy tale. Geppetto, a lonely woodcarver, is granted a wish by the Blue Fairy, who brings Pinocchio, one of Geppetto's dolls, to life.

Led by his "conscience," Jiminy Cricket, Pinocchio goes off to school and is involved in one adventure after another as he tries to become a real boy. The film's many memorable scenes include Pinocchio's learning not to lie (or his nose grows), Pinocchio's journey to the fantastic Pleasure Island, where wayward boys are lost forever, and Pinocchio's escape with Geppetto from the belly of the whale, Monstro.

Pinocchio has a running time of approximately 88 minutes and will be available in VHS and, for the first ever, in the DVD format, on Oct. 26.It was fully restored, digitally remastered in THX(R)-certified Hi-Fi Stereo sound, with closed captions for the hearing impaired. Pinocchio is rated "G" by the Motion Picture Association of America.

Tuesday, August 24, 1999

Animation Artist Publishes Interview with Tony Fucile, Head of Animation for The Iron Giant
Animation Artist Magazine has published a detailed interview with Tony Fucile, the Head of Animation for the critically acclaimed animated film, The Iron Giant. In the interview, Fucile reveals some interesting facts, including information about a scene that was cut from The Iron Giant that gave some history as to where the giant came from! That scene is expected to be included in the DVD of The Iron Giant. Click here to go to the Interviews pages or click here to go directly to the interview . Be sure to check the other interviews too, as some have new pictures or information.

Disney Dinosaur Trailer!
If you're interested in seeing pictures from Disney's Dinosaur or the movie trailer, be sure to head to the Animation Artist Dinosaur page by
clicking here!

The Iron Giant Places 12th
In its third weekend, The Iron Giant placed 12th at the Box Office, bringing in $2.3 million and playing on nearly 900 fewer screens than last weekend. To date it has made $16.9 million and is expected to finish its run at around $25 million.

Monday, August 23, 1999

The Iron Giant Knocked Out of Top 10
According to weekend estimates, The Iron Giant fell out of the Top 10 list at the Box Office. Final numbers are due out this afternoon and will be posted tomorrow.

Adam Sandler Short Animated Film to Premiere on Web in Two Weeks
In keeping with the trend of the Internet becoming an increasingly important medium for entertainment, Adam Sandler is bypassing the route usually followed by so many others and is going direct to his fans with a free "on-demand" short film available only on the World Wide Web. Sandler's six-minute animated comedy, "The Peeper" (coming to the Web on Friday, September 3), uses Macromedia Flash technology that allows a full-motion story to be viewed on any computer screen, accessible on any modem that is 28.8 or above. The short will be viewable at

"If someone wanted to see this animated short, I wanted to give them the ability to watch it whenever they got the urge," said Sandler. "Long live the Web!"

Sunday, August 22, 1999

Batman Beyond and The Iron Giant Soundtracks Being Released This Month
The soundtrack for Batman Beyond and score CD for The Iron Giant are both being released within the next 10 days. The first release is The Iron Giant score, which hits stores on Tuesday. The Iron Giant score features all the background music from the movie as composed by  Michael Kamen. It is being released by Varese Sarabande. Then on Tuesday, August 31, fans of TV's Batman Beyond can buy the Batman Beyond TV Soundtrack featuring 20 different selections.

Saturday, August 21, 1999

"Spawn" Animated Series Gets Emmy Nomination
"Todd McFarlane's Spawn," the HBO animated series that debuted its third season in May, has received its second EMMY nomination. The series was nominated for a 1998-1999 Primetime Emmy Award in the Outstanding Animated Program Category (for programming more than one hour). Earlier this year, McFarlane was nominated for a GRAMMY as the director of Pearl Jam's animated video "Do the Evolution." Terry Fitzgerald, president of Todd McFarlane Entertainment was also nominated as producer.

The HBO animated show is based on the smash-hit comic book of the same name created by McFarlane, who is the executive producer. In 1998, the series won one of two Emmys offered in the field of animation. Under McFarlane's control, "Todd McFarlane's Spawn" began its legacy in May 1997 with six half-hour episodes. Another six original episodes aired in May 1998, with the third season airing this year. Released on video in August 1997, "Todd McFarlane's Spawn," Season 1, became the best selling HBO Home Video Original Production in history. The EMMY awards take place on Sep. 12.

Friday, August 20, 1999

Animation Artist Publishes Interview With Richard Bazley, a Lead Animator on The Iron Giant
Animation Artist Magazine has published an interview with Richard Bazley, a Lead Animator for Warner Bros. The Iron Giant. The interview is located in the Interviews section. Click here to go directly to it.

Universal to Release Animated Short with Dudley Do Right, Opening August 27, 1999
Universal Pictures will premiere an all new Jay Ward animated short "Fractured Fairy Tales: The Phox, The Box & The Lox," with the live-action comedy Dudley Do-Right, which opens nationwide on Friday, August 27.

The short from Universal Cartoon Studios marks the first new animation from a Jay Ward property in 32 years. "Fractured Fairy Tales," a deliciously-irreverent series of parables and fables full of witty entendres, originally aired on Jay Ward's classic "Rocky & Bullwinkle" cartoon series.

Produced and directed by Oscar Moore (Academy Award nominee for "Redux Riding Hood"), "Fractured Fairy Tales: The Phox, The Box & The Fractured Fairy TalesLox" is written by Bill Scott (the head writer of Jay Ward Productions who almost single handedly wrote all 326 "Rocky & Bullwinkle" episodes), executive produced by Tiffany Ward, Jay Ward's daughter, and features the vocal talents of Scott Weil, Keith Scott, Jeff Glen Bennett and June Foray (the voice of Rocky, Natasha and Nell in all 326 episodes of the cartoon series, as well as Ursula in George of the Jungle).

Universal Cartoon Studios, a division of Universal Family & Home Entertainment Production, recently completed a direct to video film titled "Alvin and the Chipmunks Meet Frankenstein," which will hit stores in October. In addition, numerous direct to video films are currently in production, including "Alvin and the Chipmunks Meet the Wolfman," "The Land Before Time 7: Secret of Saurus Rock" and "Balto: Wolf Quest." The studio also has the "Woody Woodpecker" series in production, which airs on Fox Kids.

Thursday, August 19, 1999

Manga Entertainment Poised To Sizzle the Big Screen with Three New Japanese Animated Films
Manga Entertainment, the largest distributor of Japanese animation outside of Asia, blasted onto the international scene in 1996 with Mamoru Oshii's anime, Ghost in the Shell and has been dubbed "The Disney of Japanimation" by the Boston Globe. After Ghost in the Shell's successful worldwide theatrical run, Manga Entertainment released two video versions as well as a critically acclaimed DVD release with combined sales nearing 500,000 units.

Continuing its tradition of presenting the best quality Japanese animation, "anime," films for the big screen, Manga Entertainment is set to present three groundbreaking anime films: Satoshi Kon's petrifying thriller, Perfect Blue ; Osamu Desaki's suspenseful medical drama based on the best-selling manga, Blackjack; and the highly anticipated sci-fi fantasy, X from the team of female animators at CLAMP Studios in Japan.

Perfect Blue will hit theatres nationwide beginning in New York on August 20th. Perfect Blue breaks the mold for anime — a psychological thriller set in the present that more closely resembles Dario Argento in look and scope than Katsuhiro Otomo's "Akira." Interestingly, Otomo served as a consultant on Perfect Blue urging Satoshi Kon to direct this brilliant project. Roger Corman enthused "If Alfred Hitchcock partnered with Walt Disney, they'd make a picture like this."

Blackjack , based on the manga by Osamu Tezuka, the father of Japanese animation and creator of such popular characters as 'Astro Boy' and 'Kimba the White Lion'. A paperback sensation, the manga of "Blackjack" presently has 10,000,000 copies in print with 35 million copies aggregate published to date. The film version remains true to the book - with direction and animation & character design by two of Tezuka's disciples, Osamu Desaki and Akio Sugino, respectively. Blackjack is in limited release around the country.

Finally, in the first quarter of 2000, Manga Entertainment will unveil CLAMP Studio's X, a film based upon one of Japan's top 10 selling manga, about the destruction of earth and one man's fight to save the universe. The film has already be hailed by Protoculture Addicts Magazine: "the animation is superb...and the backgrounds the best we have ever seen."

Wednesday, August 18, 1999

Disney to Release Animated Films to DVD!
Disney has announced that it is going to release nine of its animated films to DVD. Here's the dates:

October 26, 1999

November 11, 1999
101 Dalmatians

November 23, 1999
Lady and the Tramp
Peter Pan
The Lion King II: Simba's Pride

The Jungle Book
The Little Mermaid

The DVDs will only be available for a 60-day period before disappearing for a decade until it is rereleased. Disney does this with many of their VHS videos too.

According to the Daily Variety, "With Disney finally ending its holdout, nearly all the major studios and filmmakers have made their pictures available in the DVD format. Two notable exceptions are George Lucas and Steven Spielberg, who have preferred not to allow DVD release of such blockbusters as the Star Wars quartet, the Indiana Jones trilogy and the Jurassic Park duo.

3D Animated Shorts Coming to DVD and Video
Image Entertainment, Inc., a leading licensee and distributor of DVDs in North America, today announced the signing of an exclusive agreement with Steven Churchill's Odyssey Productions for the release of six state-of-the-art computer animation programs on DVD and videocassette.

Under the terms of the agreement, the first title to be released will be Computer Animation Marvels, a collection of 17 animated shorts from four continents that defines the current state-of-the-art for this celebrated programming.

Culled from the world's top CGI artists and storytellers, Computer Animation Marvels includes the shorts "Bingo," an award winning look at identity crisis, "Pets," which deals with the innermost secrets of our furry friends, "The Physics of Cartoons," and 14 additional humorous and thought-provoking films.

Odyssey Visual Design was founded by Steven Churchill in 1982 and was the first San Diego company to produce 3-D computer animation. In 1988, Odyssey produced the world's first entertainment-oriented computer animation compilation for home video release, State of the Art Computer Animation. The release won the "Best Video Art" award from the American Film Institute that year.

In 1990, the company co-produced the landmark video, The Mind's Eye: A Computer Animation Odyssey. Over 400,000 copies of the video have been sold to date and it rode the Billboard video sales charts for over 30 weeks. Odyssey followed this success with Beyond the Mind's Eye, Computer Animation Festival Volume 1, Virtual Nature, Imaginaria, Computer Animation Festival Volume 2 and The Gate to the Mind's Eye.

In 1995, Churchill renamed his business Odyssey Productions which has produced Odyssey Into The Mind's Eye, Computer Animation Festival Volume 3, Turbulence, Computer Animation Classics, Cyberspace, Computer Animation Showcase, Luminous Visions, Ancient Alien and most recently Computer Animation Celebration.

Tuesday, August 17, 1999

Pictures from SIGGRAPH '99
Here are some pictures from last week's SIGGRAPH event that 70,000 people attended at the Los Angeles Convention Center.

A team from Pixar was present with a booth that had huge murals on it like the one above. The team was focused on promoting itsRenderMan rendering technology that Pixar also uses it it's own films.  The image above, that hung on the Pixar booth, is from Toy Story II.

Digital Domain was showing of its technology used in its movie making effects. Digital Domain was also recruiting.

This is a cool 3D picture that hung from Digital Domain's booth. It attracted quite the attention because it created 3D illusions without a person having to wear 3D glasses.

Motion capture demonstrations were big at SIGGRAPH. The demonstrater (wearing all the wires) would dance around and the animated character on the screen behind her would react in real time. This was a demonstration of the MotionStar system by Ascension.

Disney was recruiting at SIGGRAPH! They were looking for feature animators, imagineers, and television animators.

Big Idea, the makers of the 3D Veggie Tales videos, was also at SIGGRAPH with a very creative booth. They were showing off their newest video — "The Rumor Weed" — and recruiting 3D animators to work on future Veggie Tales videos.

Gentle Giant Studios had a huge presence at SIGGRAPH '99. They were showing off their digital modeling and scanning capabilities and included a number of models on display. Recognize the one above from Star Wars: Episode 1: The Phantom Menace?

Monday, August 16, 1999

Weekend Box Office Results (estimates)
The estimates for the weekend Box Office are in and The Iron Giant placed 10th with $3.8 million, which is a 37% drop-off from last weekend. Tarzan is estimated to place #16, but did pass A Bug's Life on the Top 10 Animated Films of All Time list. Industry analysts say that The Iron Giant will finish its Box Office run at around $25 million, half of what it cost to make the film. Video and DVD sales, however, will likely be very strong and put the film into a profitable margin.

Top Animated Films of Past Year
So what are the top grossing animated films of the last year? Here's the list:
1) Tarzan - $163 million.
2) A Bug's Life - $162.8 million
3) The Prince of Egypt - $101.2 million
4) The Rugrat's Movie - $100.4 million
5) ANTZ - $90.6 million
6) Doug's First Movie - $19.4 million
7) The Iron Giant - $12.6 million
8) The King and I - $11.9 million
red color = still making money

Marketing: The Iron Giant's Biggest Problem
The results of last week's "Question of the Week" have arrived. The question was "Why do you think The Iron Giant performed so poorly in its opening weekend?" The number one answer, with 50% of the votes, was "Because of poor marketing." Coming in second, with 18% of the votes, was "Because it was rated PG (for mild language and fantasy violence) instead of G." The third most popular answer, with 12% of the votes, was "Because it opened at the wrong time - the Box Office already had too many films."  Be sure to vote on this week's "Question of the Week", which is "What is your verdict on The Iron Giant?"

Sunday, August 15, 1999

The Iron Giant Moves Up to Ninth on Saturday
On Saturday, The Iron Giant rose back into the Top 10 at the Box Office, finishing 9th with a take of $1.54 million. Last Saturday, it made $2.13 million to also finish ninth. To date, The Iron Giant has made $11.34 million at the Box Office. It cost $50 million to make.

Tarzan Reaches #5 in Top 10 List
Tarzan has reached #5 in the
Top 10 Animated Films of All Time, based on U.S. Box Office gross. Tarzan, which has now grossed more than $163 million, surpassed A Bug's Life, which had made #162.6 million at the Box Office.

Saturday, August 14, 1999

The Iron Giant Drops Out of Top 10!
On Friday, The Iron Giant dropped out of the Top 10 at the Box Office, finishing 11th with a take of $1 million. Last Friday, it made $1.69 million to finish ninth. The poor performance of The Iron Giant has many critics and fans puzzled as it received strong nationwide attention from critics last week. Even CNN has publicly claimed, "Warner Brothers' The Iron Giant is not only the best animated feature to be released this summer, it's the single best film to hit our screens so far this year."

Houdini Ported to Linux
Side Effects Software has announced the successful port of its world-class 3D animation software to the Linux operating system. Side Effects Software, who announced their intention to adopt Linux at NAB'99, was the first major 3D animation company to show their product on the platform. The Linux version of Houdini 4.0 was  shown at SIGGRAPH'99 at the Evans & Sutherland booth. Hardware technology from Evans & Sutherland and software technology from Xi Graphics played a pivotal role in the successful port of Houdini to Linux.

"Many of our customers grew up with Unix/Irix workstations and like the flexibility, control and familiarity that these systems offer. By providing Houdini on Linux, customers will be able to work in a Unix environment while taking advantage of high-performance Intel-based workstations," said Paul Salvini, Director of Research and Development at Side Effects Software. "We've enjoyed working with Xi Graphics and Evans & Sutherland to be able to provide Houdini on Linux as a viable platform for high-end graphics."

So how much does Houdini cost? $17,000!

Friday, August 13, 1999

ILM Used Softimage in Summer Hits
Avid Technology, Inc. today announced extensive use of its Softimage graphics and animation products by Industrial Light & Magic (ILM) on recent motion picture work including Star Wars: Episode I The Phantom Menace, The Mummy and the gigantic Tarantula in Wild Wild West, as well as renewal of Avid's Softimage Co.'s strategic relationship with the Academy Award-winning visual effects facility that extends into the new millennium. ILM, a division of Lucas Digital Ltd. LLC and the world's largest effects house, pushes the limits of digital wizardry using applications such as Softimage 3D for character animation and modeling, Softimage Matador for painting, and Softimage Elastic Reality for morphing.

"Softimage software has been an important aspect for pre-visualizing and finishing the multiple thousands of effects shots we've had on recent jobs, including an incredible number of scenes involving computer-generated (CG) animated characters in Star Wars: Episode I The Phantom Menace," said Rob Coleman, Animation Director on the Star Wars prequel. "Whether we're setting up complex animation rigs to bring the right behavior to our digital characters, keyframing their animation, or staging natural movement via motion capture, these tools empower ILM artists to raise the bar of believability with the CG imagery we create."

At ILM, Softimage 3D was the main character animation tool used for the more than 60 digitally created creatures, monsters and robots that grace the far-away galaxy in Star Wars: Episode I The Phantom Menace. The movie has nearly 2000 total effects shots, 800 of which involved CG character animation--sometimes thousands of characters, spanning are almost half of the film's screen time. Softimage 3D was used extensively on hundreds of shots to achieve this feat and to give these fantastical CG figures believable expressions and movements.

Within ILM's motion capture department, Softimage 3D and Softimage Live were used to provide motion information to the animation team, and to rough out 3D animation up to the final shot. Completed directly in Softimage 3D using a motion capture system with real-time capability, the files could be delivered the same day in Softimage 3D format.

According to motion capture supervisor Seth Rosenthal, "Our pipeline was developed to take animation or motion capture data and bring it into Softimage 3D, where it could be modified on the same familiar models, with the same animation controls that had been used for hand animation."

Another enormous accomplishment is the 80-foot tall, steam-powered arachnid weapon arsenal (Tarantula) operated by Dr. Loveless from an open cockpit in Wild Wild West. One of ILM's most complicated hard-surface models built to date, the Tarantula, animated in Softimage 3D, moves across the landscape with a heavy, machine-like gait on eight CG spider legs, each of which contains 150 moving parts.

Thursday, August 12, 1999

For $2,000 You Can See Fantasia 2000 One Day Early
Today's Daily Variety is reporting that Disney will host a huge New Year's Eve bash focused around its Fantasia 2000 movie that will be released to IMAX theaters on January 1, 2000. According to Daily Variety, "Walt Disney will ring in the next millennium with a New Year's Eve world preem of Fantasia 2000 at the Pasadena Civic Auditorium." The film's music will be done live by by London's Philharmonia Orchestra. There will also be a New Year's Eve countdown and other performers at the event. The cost? Approximately $2,000 per person. For ticket information, call (818) 238-1095.

Pixar Uses Sun Solution to Render Toy Story II
Pixar Animation Studios is using 120 Sun Enterprise 4500 Servers and 4.5 terabytes of Sun StorEdge disk storage arrays to render Toy Story 2, the sequel to its 1995 blockbuster due to be released this Thanksgiving under Pixar's partnership with Walt Disney Pictures. Toy Story 2 is Pixar's third feature film, and is the studio's most demanding film yet in terms of rendering requirements. Pixar has selected Sun Microsystems as the exclusive provider for its rendering for each of its three feature films to date.

"We chose Sun as the rendering platform for our mission-critical film productions because their systems are reliable and easy to maintain," said Greg Brandeau, vice president of Computer Operations for Pixar Animation Studios. "Using Sun technology and powerful CPUs, we're able to produce a richer, more complex film in a shorter amount of time."

Wednesday, August 11, 1999

Varese Sarabande to Release The Iron Giant Score
Many fans of The Iron Giant, who purchased The Iron Giant soundtrack, may have been disappointed to discover that only two of Michael Kamen's background scores were on the CD. The good news is that Varese Sarabande is releasing a CD of just Michael Kamen's score of the movie. It will hit music stores on August 24, 1999. The score was recorded in Prague with the Czech Symphony Orchestra and is Michael Kamen's first score for an animated feature. Michael Kamen's non-animated movie scores included Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves, the Die Hard trilogy, and all the Lethal Weapon movies.

Digital Domain Goes Intel
Digital Domain, one of Hollywood's leading digital visual effects studios and effects creators for such movies as Titanic, What Dreams May Come, and The Fifth Element, today announced its plan to migrate to Intel Architecture based workstations.

The move will be based on the dual Pentium III and Pentium III Xeon processor platforms. The new systems will be integrated with existing Intel based workstations that Digital Domain has been using to produce special visual effects for feature films, commercials and new media projects. As a further step in the migration of the company's digital studio infrastructure to Intel Architecture, Digital Domain intends to serve as a test site for Intel's IA-64 family of powerful processors.

Wild Brain Announces Animation Deal with EM.TV
Further strengthening its position as a leading provider of animated television programming, Wild Brain Inc., based in San Francisco, has joined with Munich's EM.TV & Merchandising to co-produce an original Wild Brain cartoon property.

The two companies will produce a 26-episode series under the working title "Poochini's Yard." The series is based on Wild Brain's award-winning short film, "A Dog Cartoon." Wild Brain will manage all creative aspects of the series, which begins production this summer.

Distribution rights are planned to be split between domestic (Wild Brain) and international (EM.TV).
This news comes on the heels of another announcement (Aug. 2, 1999) disclosing a $6.5 million investment by Interfase Capital Partners LP earlier this summer.

Tuesday, August 10, 1999

Animation Artist Magazine Publishes Interview with the Artistic Coordinator of The Iron Giant
Animation Artist Magazine has published an interview with Scott Johnston, the Artistic Coordinator for the film. Johnston is well known throughout the industry for his CGI work with Disney's The Lion King and the ballroom sequence in Beauty and the Beast. The interview appears in the Animation Artist Iron Giant Movie Site pages and can be accessed directly by clicking here .

Space ACE Game Released to DVD
When Digital Leisure shipped Dragon's Lair for DVD late last year, it set a new standard for interactive gaming on set-top DVD movie players.

Now with it's release of Space Ace, the much awaited follow-up to Dragon's Lair, DVD owners will be able to use the remote control for their DVD players to control the action as Ace battles the evil Commander Borf.

As one of the first animated video games in history, Space Ace features non-stop video action. The evil Commander Borf has kidnapped Ace's girlfriend, the beautiful Kimberly, and is plotting to enslave the Earth using his dreaded "Infanto Ray", a weapon that changes everyone it blasts into a helpless baby. Using the remote control from the DVD movie player, game enthusiasts can choose to guide Ace, or his weak alter-ego Dexter, through Borf's strongholds to find and destroy the Infanto Ray, rescue Kimberly and save the Earth.

Space Ace, the classic laser-disc based arcade game, features spectacular quality animation created by Don Bluth, a former Disney animator famous for his work on An American Tail, The Land Before Time and he also co-directed the more recent blockbuster Anastasia. In addition to the fully playable game, the Space Ace DVD release contains exclusive interviews with Bluth and Rick Dyer, co-creators and designers of the game. A special "Watch" option allows players to view the entire game without requiring moves on the DVD remote.

Monday, August 9, 1999

Weekend Surprise: Poor Opening Weekend Results for Warner Bros. The Iron Giant
The weekend Box Office estimates are in, placing The Iron Giant ninth place at the Box Office with a weekend take of only $5.7 million. This is well below the industry expectations of $9-$10 million and even below the opening weekend of Quest for Camelot , which made over $6 million. The Iron Giant has earned nearly unanimous rave reviews throughout the industry. But for some reason it's not capturing the public's attention. Animation Artist Magazine wants to know why. Please add your vote to our Question of the Week which asks, "Why do you think The Iron Giant performed so poorly in its opening weekend?"  If you'd like to give a more detailed opinion, email it to [email protected] and it will be reprinted in our Voices section.

Animation Artist Readers: 'Story Most Important'
Last week's Question of the Week results was a landslide. The answer "story" was easily the number one response to the question, "What is the most important element of a successful animated film?" There were 415 votes cast with 366 of those votes going to "The Story." The second closest was "The quality of the drawings," which received only 25 votes.

Sunday, August 8, 1999

Disney Animation Tour at New Disney Park
The Walt Disney company is building a new Disney Animation attraction as part of its new Disney's California Adventure theme park that is scheduled to open in the year 2001. Called "Disney Animation," the attraction takes place in a 40,000 square foot area. Guests will be able to see pencil tests of upcoming Disney animated features. Guests will then be able to participate in some interactive animation exhibits (including one where your personality is matched with a Disney character and another where you can do a voice over for an animated character). The final portion of the tour includes an animated battle sequence (with all your favorite animated heroes and villains) that completely surrounds the guests. Apparently the attraction will also include a workshop offered by a Disney animator.

The Iron Giant Places Ninth Again on Saturday
For the second day in a row, The Iron Giant placed a disappointing ninth at the Box Office. For Saturday, Warner Bros. animated movie brought in only $2.13 million. The Iron Giant is doing only slightly better than the last Warner Bros. animated film, The King and I. Perhaps most shocking is that Warner Bros. Quest for Camelot brought in more money in its first two days than The Iron Giant. The Iron Giant has received rave reviews throughout the industry.

Saturday, August 7, 1999

The Iron Giant Places Ninth!
Warner Bros. The Iron Giant didn't open as strong as industry analysts expected on Friday. For Friday, it made $1.69 million to place ninth. This is despite rave reviews from critics and moviegoers who saw sneak previews.

Tarzan Will Pass A Bug's Life This Weekend
Disney's Tarzan reached $160.5 million yesterday, putting it just $2 million shy of passing A Bug's Life on the
Top 10 Animated Films of All Time List. It should surpass A Bug's Life by late Sunday. However, it may not have the longevity, however, to reach Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, which is #4 with $185 million.

Friday, August 6, 1999

The Iron Giant Opens Nationwide!
Warner Bros. first major challenge to the Disney animation empire, The Iron Giant, opened nationwide today. It opened on 2,179 screens. Warner Bros. can consider an opening of $8 - $10 million very successful for a non-Disney animated film. The true test of The Iron Giant will be at how well word of mouth can carry it in the weeks to come. Only two non-Disney animated films have made over $100 million at the Box Office (Rugrats and The Prince of Egypt ). Will The Iron Giant be the third? It's a very tough road, but then again, the Iron Giant has very big legs.

Be sure to see the review updates at the Animation Artist Iron Giant Movie Site .

Tarzan Nears #5 in Top 10 List
Tarzan is expected to reach #5 this weekend in the
Top 10 Animated Films of All Time list. Disney's animated film has enjoyed tremendous success at the Box Office, including seven straight summer weekends of being in the weekend Box Office Top 10. It is currently #6 in the Top 10 Animated Films of All Time list with $160.1 million. To reach #5, it must pass A Bug's Life , which brought in $162.6 million at the Box Office.

Thursday, August 5, 1999

Webcast Tonight
Tonight at approximately 5:00 PM PST, Animation Artist Magazine will link to The Iron Giant Webcast being done by Warner Bros. This is the same Webcast that Warner Bros. did Saturday night. The Webcast will be available from 5PM PST to Midnight. Be sure to check back at 5:00PM for the link and be sure to hit "Reload" on your computer for the latest update. The Webcast will show an eight minute clip from The Iron Giant from when the boy, Hogarth, and the giant first meet.

Animation Emmy Awards Given Out
Congratulations to animators on HBO's "Animated Epics: The Canterbury Tales" for winning Emmy individual achievement in animation awards for their animated work. The winning artists are:

Ashley Potter
Les Mills
Joanna Quinn

In addition, Ja'Net DuBois was awarded an Emmy for her voice over role in FOX's "The PJ's"

Infogrames Bringing Looney Tunes to PC
Infogrames has reached an agreement with Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment to publish Looney Tunes titles for the PC.

The multi-year deal, an extension of the companies' current agreement to publish Looney Tunes titles for all console and handheld platforms, will be led by the game Bugs Bunny Lost in Time.

Recently released for the PlayStation, the adventure game featuring the whole cast of "Looney Tunes" characters will debut on the PC in time for this year's holiday season. The title depicts the tale of the famous hare, Bugs Bunny, as he makes a wrong turn in Albuquerque, mistakenly activates a time machine and propels players through five eras and more than 20 levels of madcap mischief.
Legendary rivals led by Yosemite Sam, Elmer Fudd, Rocky and Mugsy, Witch Hazel and Marvin the Martian maintain their dogged pursuit of the wily rabbit through zany settings including the Stone Age, the Medieval Times, the Pirate Years, the 1930s and Dimension X. The prank-filled adventure embodies the satire and charisma of the original cartoon classics.

"By adding PC fans to our Looney Tunes franchise, we're now able to deliver the rollicking antics and zany pranks of Bugs Bunny and the gang to a much broader audience," Rick Reynolds, director of product marketing, I-Heroes Studios, Infogrames North America, said. "The PC offers an entirely new arena and set of opportunities to bring the Looney Tunes characters in our games to life."

Wednesday, August 4, 1999

The Answer: "The Happy Prince"
For the last two days, readers have tried to help Animation Artist obtain the title of an animated film that dealt with a sparrow who helped a golden statue (the former prince of the country) take care of the poor. Yesterday, three people came through with the correct title of the animated film - "The Happy Prince." Congratulations to David Kilmer, Chris Murray, and Jason for each submitting the correct answer and for also submitting links to further information on the story. Each one will be sent an Animation Artist T-shirt as a thank you.

To read the actual story of "The Happy Prince," click here. The book can be purchased here. Unfortunately, the video is completely sold out and no new printing date has been announced.

Warner Bros. to Reair The Iron Giant Webcast
Warner Bros. has announced that it is going to reair the same Iron Giant Webcast it did Saturday night. This time, the same Webcast will begin at 5PM PST on Thursday and run until midnight PST. While Animation Artist magazine will not cover the event live (like we did Saturday night), we will provide a link to the Webcast at 5PM PST tomorrow night. The Webcast is just over eight minutes long, showing a brief introduction by Brad Bird followed by a scene from the movie where the Iron Giant and Hogarth meet for the first time. If you have not seen the movie, we would recommend that you not view the Webcast until you see the movie on the big screen in context with the rest of the story.

PEANUTS Gang To Be Honored
Complete with a colorful three-dimensional re-creation of Charlie Brown's neighborhood with life-size characters, the International Museum of Cartoon Art (IMCA) will pay tribute to the significant contributions that the legendary Charles M. Schulz has made to culture, literature and art through his internationally renowned comic strip PEANUTS with a world premiere exhibition this fall.

Debuting Saturday, Oct. 2, 1999 and running through Jan. 30, 2000, the comprehensive exhibition, 50 Years of PEANUTS: The Art of Charles M. Schulz is exclusively curated and presented by IMCA in collaboration with United Media, syndicator of PEANUTS, to mark the 50th anniversary of the popular comic strip.

Visitors will stroll through a timeline at the entrance to the "PEANUTS GALLERY" that illustrates PEANUTS' 50-year history. Showcase displays of artifacts, photos, magazine covers, Broadway and movie posters, toys, dolls, blow-ups of historic strips and more will trace the decade-by-decade evolution of Schulz's creation in the context of American history.

Colorful, life-size characters and other props such as trees, grass, fences, a swing, the baseball mound, and the side of the house will allow visitors to step into the imaginary world that Schulz created. A peek into the window of the house will find Schroeder playing the piano and a look to the sky will detect Snoopy, as the World War I Flying Ace, flying atop his doghouse. Lucy will dispense her famous "advice" from the psychiatry booth while Linus sits in the pumpkin patch with his security blanket.

The International Museum of Cartoon Art is located in Florida at 201 Plaza Real in Boca Raton's Mizner Park, just one block north of Palmetto Park Road on Federal Highway. For more information, contact the museum at 561-391-2200.

Tuesday, August 3, 1999

Question Has Readers Stumped!
In yesterday's news update, we posted a letter from an Animation Artist reader inquiring for the name of an animated film about a bird and a golden statue. A couple of very alert readers responded with more details and clues about the movie, but we're still trying to find a title for this film. Today's VOICES lists the responses to yesterday's question. We'll send the first person to email us the correct title of the film an Animation Artist T-shirt. Email correspondence regarding this question should be sent to Editor.

Pixar Announces Upcoming Release of RenderMan 3.9 and RenderMan Artist Tools 4.0
Pixar Animation Studios today announced that it is releasing version 3.9 of PhotoRealistic RenderMan, its Academy Award-winning visual effects software, and version 4.0 of the complete RenderMan Artist Tools suite.

The new software, scheduled for shipment in September, makes RenderMan easier and more powerful for creative artists, and for the first time provides support for rendering on render farms running the Windows NT operating system. Pixar's PhotoRealistic RenderMan renderer and RenderMan Artist Tools are engineered to create the most compelling and highest quality computer generated images for use in feature film and television effects.

Used in conjunction with popular modeling and animation software, RenderMan has given digital design studios the ability to create stunning visual effects in films as diverse as Jurassic Park, Mulan, Star Wars Episode 1: The Phantom Menace and, of course, Disney and Pixar's A Bug's Life along with the upcoming Toy Story 2.

PhotoRealistic RenderMan 3.9 and the RenderMan Artist Tools can be ordered from Pixar by calling Lola Gill at 800-888-9856 or via email to [email protected] .

Monday, August 2, 1999

Do You Know This Animated Film?
From the Editor: Animation Artist Magazine receives dozens of questions every day from readers. As part of our continued commitment to you, we try and research answers to these questions. One question that came in this morning had us stumped, so we are posting that question below in hopes that an alert reader knows the answer:

" I am searching for an animated film that would have been used in elementary schools in the mid to late 70's. My friend, an artist himself, described this film in sketchy details and claimed it was his all-time favorite animated movie. All he could tell me of the film was that it was in 8mm, and the story involved a bird that picked things off of this golden statue to bring back to the nest. It also had a very sad ending. Unfortunately, that was all he could remember of the movie, but knew that the film touched his heart in a special way as a child. Can you help me find the title?"

If you know the answer to the above question, please email it to Editor . Thanks!

The Iron Giant Opens Wednesday in LA and NY
Those living in Los Angeles or New York will get to see Warner Bros. The Iron Giant two days earlier than the rest of the nation. Warner Bros. animated film will open Wednesday in Los Angeles and New York. It will open Friday in the rest of the nation.

Favorite All Time Movie? Beauty and the Beast
Beauty and the Beast was named the favorite movie of all time by Animation Artist readers in its weekly informal poll. Last week there were 461 votes cast with Beauty and the Beast getting 153 of those votes (33%) and The Lion King getting 140 votes (30%). Both Disney movies left the rest of the answers far behind. Coming in third, with only 47 votes (10%), was Tarzan. But the biggest surprise may be the fourth place winner - Anastasia . As FOX's first serious animated challenge, Anastasia received 27 (or 6%) of the votes.

There is a new question this week. Click here to read and answer it.

Sunday, August 1, 1999

The Iron Giant Webcast Goes Off Without a Hitch
Yesterday's Warner Bros. Webcast of a eight minute segment from The Iron Giant went off without a hitch last night. Animation Artist Magazine began live coverage of the event at 4:15PM PST through 5:45PM PST. Sneak previews of The Iron Giant are taking place today in theaters across the nation. There's also a 7PM "The Making of The Iron Giant" airing on all Warner Bros. TV stations.  In the Webcast, director Brad Bird thanked fans on the Internet for helping to spread good buzz about the movie (make a good movie and the buzz will follow) then he showed his favorite clip from the film, which was how the young boy (Hogarth) and the Iron Giant first meet.


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