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Editor:
Vicki Tracy

Friday, March 31, 2000

LA Times Tackes El Dorado Problems
The Road to El Dorado continues to gain negative publicity from all of the changes leading up to its release. The LA Times published an article about all the problems the film underwent during production.

"Rather than gold, the path to DreamWorks SKG's latest animated feature, The Road to El Dorado, was paved with boulders. The story line for the movie changed so often during the five years of production that people close to the project renamed it: El Dorado: The Lost City on Hold," says the LA Times.

Click here to read the entire article.


Thursday, March 30, 2000

The Road to Controversy
The Road to El Dorado is going to create a lot of controversy when it opens tomorrow. USA Today has revealed that the film was originally slated to be PG-13 with a lot more sexual situations and vulgar language. Besides upsetting some parents, the film's portrayal of the Indian characters — particularly the female Chel — has started to create a commotion from early previews.

"As a Mexican-American woman, I felt that the portrayal of the Indian characters in the movie was universally degrading to my gender and ethnicity; from the vacantly-expressioned childlike townspeople, to the scantily-clad loose-moraled heroine, to the bloodthirsty conniving priest, all portrayed the worst stereotypes that continue to hurt Indigenous and mestizo people today," says Sara Vazquez, MD. Her full comments are posted here .

To read the USA Today article, click here.


Wednesday, March 29, 2000

Animation Stand Redied for New Broadcast Media
In recognition of the emerging Internet broadcast industry, advances in fiber optics, and the continuing expansion of cable, Linker Systems announces major changes in its Animation Stand family of animation and special effects products.

"We are on the verge of an explosion of new broadcast media outlets," explains Toni M. Poper, president of Linker Systems. "There will be tremendous need for new, creative programs, series, and content. Linker Systems' continuing goal with Animation Stand has always been to empower studios, no matter what their size, with the ability to create professional quality animation and special effects. With our goal in mind, Linker Systems' is making significant changes to Animation Stand. These new changes in the Animation Stand family are a direct result of discussions we have had with several companies directly involved in this new revolution."

Animation Stand is now available in three levels: Animation Stand Cinema, Animation Stand Professional, and Animation Stand Personal Edition. All these versions of Animation Stand include pencil test, ink & paint, automatic painting, #-D shading, multi-plane animation camera, compositing, audio editing, work-group processing, production cost reporting, transport control to film, tape, videodisk, and other media, and much more. Animation Stand is available for the Macintosh, PC, SGI, and Alpha AXP computers.

For more information, visit www.animationstand.com.


Tuesday, March 28, 2000

Box Office Results
Here are the Box Office results for last weekend's animated films:

Fantasia 2000
$1.3 Million ($24,683 per screen average)
12th at the Box Office (up from #13 last weekend)
Total to Date: $35.9 Million

The Tigger Movie
$883,586 Million ($650 per screen average)
15th at the Box Office (down from #10 last weekend)
Total to Date: $43 Million

Toy Story 2
$218,854 ($675 per screen average)
30th at the Box Office (down from #29 last weekend)
Total to Date: $242.2 Million

Titan A.E. to Hit Playstation Too
Fox's PG-rated Titan A.E. animated film comes to theaters on June 16, 2000. This week, Fox Interactive announced that Titan A.E. will also become a video game for the Playstation to be released this Fall. Interactive Studios is creating the game in the UK that will "mirror and continue the theatrical experience."


Monday, March 27, 2000

"God, The Devil, and Bob" Lawsuit Looms
USA Today reports, "As if the Tuesday NBC series God, the Devil and Bob didn't have enough problems, heirs to Jerry Garcia's estate may be truckin' into court to sue.

The God character on the animated show looks too much like the Grateful Dead leader, says lawyer David Phillips, who represents three Garcia heirs. California law prohibits use of a celebrity's likeness without permission.

Phillips says God's hair and face resemble those of Garcia, who died in 1995, and he handles his sunglasses like Garcia, also a violation of the law.

The legal challenge would add to complaints that the controversial show - loosely based on the biblical story of Sodom and Gomorrah - is in poor taste. At least 18 NBC affiliates have pulled the program from their schedules."

Click here for the full story.

Academy Says "No" to The Phantom Menace
Last night's Academy Awards awarded the "Best Visual Effects" Oscar to The Matrix over The Phantom Menace. This comes a day after The Phantom Menace Jar-Jar Binks character won a Razzie Award for "Worst Supporting Actor of 1999." Some say the Lucas film was overkill in effects and a victim of poor storytelling. Others say it is a travesty that it didn't take home the Oscar for "Best Visual Effects."
Click here to share your opinion.


Sunday, March 26, 2000

Warrior Prince Grabs "Best Animated Film" Award
According to The Hindu, "Warrior Prince a twelve million dollar, 95-minute film, based on the epic Ramayana has won the prestigious ``best animation film of the year'' award at the International Film Festival held in Santa Clarita, California.

The film, produced by noted film maker Krishna Shah, was chosen from among 60 films which competed at the festival sponsored by the American Academy of Motion Picture, Arts and Sciences.

Accepting the award at a glittering, star-studded function, Shah said, 'this is not just an epic story set in India. It presents a code by which millions live their lives.'

The film is shot in the style called 'fusion' which is based on three different animation schools - 'Manga' from Japan, 'Disney' from the United States and 'Ravi Varma' from India."

Montreal Gazette Talks to Animation Nominee
"Torill Kove and her husband, Kevin Dean, will hop into a limousine outside their Los Angeles hotel this afternoon and drive two blocks.

They'll arrive decked-out and sweaty-palmed at the Oscars to sit among the Hollywood glitterati and find out if Kove will take home one of those 3-kilogram statuettes, to honour her animated short My Grandmother Ironed the King's Shirts."

Click here for the full story.


Saturday, March 25, 2000

Dinosaur in Production Since 1986 — Original Director Left over Budget Dispute
More information has become available about Disney's Dinosaur movie thanks to veteran illustrator William Stout, who is best known for his 1981 book Dinosaurs: A Fantastic New View of a Lost Era. In 1986, Stout was approached by Disney regarding the Dinosaur project.

"Originally Disney called me about 1986 about this film -- it's been around a long time," Stout said in a Kansas City Star article. "Back then it was going to be a stop-action animation picture with Paul Verhoeven directing. That fell apart when Verhoeven demanded an $80 million budget, which is kind of funny when you consider that the budget for the current picture is now $200 million. Maybe with inflation it all evens out."

Production fell apart on Dinosaur for awhile then Disney called back.

"About three years ago they called again, and they were finally serious," Stout said. "They wanted me to do some character design because they had a really interesting problem. They had a cast of iguanodons. But how do you design them so the public can tell them apart? They've got to be different physically, but still be iguanodons. And I still wanted to make them realistic...The Disney people took my drawings, handed them to sculptors who made three-dimensional models, and then those were gridded and scanned into the computer so the animators could work with them."

Click here for the full article.
 

Friday, March 24, 2000

More Articles on Movement to Add Animation Category to Academy Awards
More articles are appearing in newspapers and online regarding the movement to get an animation category added to the Academy Awards. This comes at a time of a backlash against the academy for ignoring films like The Iron Giant and Toy Story 2 for "Best Picture" category. Toy Story 2 won the "Best Motion Picture: Comedy or Musical" category of The Golden Globe Awards and critical acclaim from critics and audiences. It was the third highest-grossing film of 1999 and is the 16th highest-grossing film of all time. Even so, the Academy ignored the film for "Best Picture," creating a backlash in the industry that has hit the media. An Associated Press article has hit major newspapers and online sites, intensifying the debate about recognizing strong animated films at Oscar time.

"God, The Devil, and Bob" Bombs on Tuesdays
On Tuesday, March 21 "God, The Devil, and Bob" once again came in last place (among the four major networks) in the 8:30PM timeslot. The performance was worst than the prior Tuesday last place finish.

For the night, "God, The Devil, and Bob" received a 4.9/7 rating. The ratings were so bad that the show was almost matched by a non-major network, Warner Brothers, whose "Buffy" received a 4.3/7 rating.

The FOX "King of the Hill" animated comedy, airing at the same time as "God, The Devil, and Bob" came in third place with a 5.4/8 rating.


Thursday, March 23, 2000

Movement to Add Animation Category to Academy Awards in Underway
A movement is underway to add a "Best Animation" category to the Academy Awards. According to an article by the Associate Press:

"Beloved by all ages and praised by critics, cartoons from Pinocchio to The Iron Giant have proven a perennial sure bet during Oscar season: They never win, and are rarely nominated.

The dearth has led some artists to call for a new Academy Award honoring feature-length animation, despite objections from others who say it would diminish cartoon's standing against live-action fare.

'There is a lot of interest in animated films. They're very popular, and there's a large selection out there. Why not give them their own division or category?' asked Tom Sito, president of the Motion Picture Screen Cartoonists Guild, Local 839...

The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences periodically considers forming an animated feature category, but has declined because of a shortage of nominees...

'You have to have more than that to play the game,' Academy spokesman John Pavlik said. 'Otherwise, we'd be giving nominations to almost every animated feature that comes out.'"

Click here to read the entire article.


Wednesday, March 22, 2000

Hanna-Barbera Slowly Crumbling
Fox News has published a report that states, "Once the largest animation studio in the world, and home to favorites like Yogi Bear and The Flintstones, H-B is now a division of Warner Bros. and only produces a handful of new cartoons -- none of which are likely to air on network TV.

The near-to-last straw came last week when, after eight years, the Cartoon Network moved its production offices for original shows like Johnny Bravo, and I. M. Weasle to a newly built studio in Burbank.

'I would bet that at least half the people employed today [at Warner Bros. Animation] worked at Hanna-Barbera at one time or another,' Warner Bros. animation chief Jean MacCurdy told the Post."  Click here to read the full story.

Box Office Results
Here are the Box Office results for last weekend's animated films:

The Tigger Movie
$1.8 Million ($1,042 per screen average)
10th at the Box Office (up from #13 last weekend)
Total to Date: $41.6 Million

Fantasia 2000
$1.5 Million ($28,760 per screen average)
13th at the Box Office (up from #18 last weekend)
Total to Date: $33.7 Million

Toy Story 2
$308,602 ($902 per screen average)
29th at the Box Office (down from #28 last weekend)
Total to Date: $241.8 Million


Tuesday, March 21, 2000

LA Times Covers Women in Animation
The Los Angeles Times has published two stories about the past and present role of women in animation.

In the first article, titled "Move Over, Old Men," the LA Times starts by saying:

"In 1937, a Colorado-based artist named Jessie Lamberson, one among dozens of aspiring animators from across the country seeking a job with the Walt Disney studio, received the following response to a job application that had been requested by the studio:

'Upon closer inspection of your application, we note that you list your occupation as 'housekeeper.' We assume, therefore, that you are a woman. If this is the case it will be impossible for us to further consider your application inasmuch as we employ only men in our animation department.'

In fairness to Disney, this policy was not endemic to Uncle Walt. Save for so few exceptions that they could have been counted on Captain Hook's fingers, this was simply state of the animation business throughout its Golden Age." Click here to read the full story.

In the second article, titled "Women Come into their own Digital Era," the LA Times starts by saying:

"One area of animation has been open to women from its very inception: the digital arena. 'From the mid-1980s to now, it's been a tremendous change in animation, especially in technology,' says Bonne Radford, head of animation for DreamWorks. 'It was an equal playing field at the start.'

Even so, Sharon Calahan, who has been working in computer-generated imagery since the mid-1980s, says that while the doors may have been open, it took several years for women to enter." Click here for the full story.


Monday, March 20, 2000

Titan A.E. Gets "PG" Rating
As reported in last night's Animation Artist newsletter, Titan A.E. has received a "PG" rating by the Motion Picture Association of America for "action violence, mild sensuality and brief language." It is the third animated movie in a row to receive a "PG" rating.

Animation Artist Opens El Dorado Movie Site
Animation Artist Magazine has opened its
Road to El Dorado Movie Site that covers DreamWorks second major traditional animated film, The Road to El Dorado, that hits theaters on March 31, 2000. Click here to visit the site.

Animation History Spun Off From Animation Artist
Animation History is no longer a part of the Animation Artist Network of animation sites. The owners spun www.animationhistory.com off in order for it to become a nonprofit and educational Website that will remain free of advertising in the future. The Animation History site will still be maintained by Animation Artist editor Vicki Tracy and Animation Artist publisher Joe Tracy.


Sunday, March 19, 2000

"Clerks" Creator Demands to Have Show Back!
According to the New York Post, "'Clerks' creator Kevin Smith reportedly wants to yank his animated series from the network and edit the completed episodes into a movie.

'It's definitely been talked about,' a source close to Smith told The Post.

Smith is bitter that ABC decided to debut his new animated series during the summer -- where he expects it will be ignored by viewers -- rather than this spring as he'd been promised.

Now he's hinted that it might be better to wrestle with ABC for the rights to the six episodes of 'Clerks,' that the network picked up, roll them together and release them as sequel to his cult 1994 film." Click here to read the full story.

Newsletter Tonight - Sneak Peek
Animation Artist Newsletter subscribers will be given a sneak peek at the Animation Artist Road to El Dorado Movie Site this evening. The site will officially open to the public tomorrow. To subscribe to the Animation Artist Newsletter,
click here.


Saturday, March 18, 2000

Cinar Struggles Over Investigation
According to CBC News, "Telefilm Canada, a federal funding agency for movies, has frozen funding to troubled Montreal animation company Cinar. Telefilm told the National Post it's suspending its dealing with Cinar while it reviews 'a certain number of issues' with the new management. It's given Cinar four weeks to respond to the questions. Telefilm has provided $8.9 million over the past five years to Cinar, an animation company known for the Arthur and Richard Scarry children's cartoons on TV." Click here to read the entire article.

Vancouver Film School Offers Scholarships
Vancouver Film School has launched the largest scholarship competition in the history its educational facility, Director of Registration Daniel Craig announced last week. Open to residents of Canada and the United States, the VFS 2000 Scholarship Competition will award 12 scholarships, a total value of more than $174,000.

The 12 full tuition scholarships will be awarded in six of Vancouver Film School's production-based, full time programs. Two scholarships per program will be awarded in New Media (40 weeks, $18,725 each); Film (40 weeks, $18,725 each); 3D Animation & Digital Effects (40 weeks, $18,725 each); Classical Animation (48 weeks, $13,500 each); Acting for Film & Television (48 weeks, $12,500 each) and Writing for Film & Television (16 weeks, $4,995 each). Entry deadline is Wednesday, May 31, 2000. Applications, rules and regulations and further information are available by calling 1-800-661-4101, or emailing scholarship@vfs.com.


Friday, March 17, 2000

New Animated Feature Goes into Production
Executive producer Stephen Waterman, whose Stuart Little has grossed nearly $150 million domestically, has announced that he will exec produce the new animated feature StarCars, a co-production between Korean-based entertainment conglomerate Ameko Entertainment Company Ltd. and Hyper Image LLC, an American animation studio specializing in sci-fi CGI.

Said Waterman: "I am genuinely excited about taking animation beyond the next level and into a new universe. There is an untapped market of kids who've been raised on computer games and this is a new breed of feature film we feel they'll really embrace."

StarCars, an apocalyptic story about a deadly race set in the distant future, will feature cutting-edge computer animation, an aggressive soundtrack, intrigue and the fastest racing action ever seen.

Dong Chung, president and COO of Ameko Entertainment and an executive producer on the project, said: "With technology changing so rapidly, it's important to stay ahead of the curve and we feel that this project brings together the best talent in the world. For the first time ever, we are simultaneously utilizing creative teams in both countries and creating a `virtual studio.'"

Combining the high-end artistry of Asian anime and the graphic wizardry of American sci-fi CGI, StarCars will launch a new genre being dubbed "American Anime."

This project was spearheaded by Kevin O'Donnell, creator of the upcoming PBS animated series "Poor Richard's Almanac," and Rob Smiley, Emmy-nominated director of Fox Kids' "Our Friend, Martin" and president of Hyper Image LLC.

StarCars is scheduled for release the first quarter of 2001 and is the first in a new line of programming aimed at the growing "gamers" generation. O'Donnell, Smiley and Robby Scharf are producing, with Smiley set to direct.


Thursday, March 16, 2000

Round 2: Pokemon Movie Coming to Video
Like a scene out of Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory, Warner Brothers announced today that it is putting five golden tickets into five Pokemon: The First Movie VHS tapes. The finder of the golden tickets will get to meet Mr. Ishihara, president of Creatures and the creator of the Pokemon card game, who will sign the winners' cards and play the game with each winner. In addition, winners will receive a $1,000 shopping spree at the Pokemon Center in Japan and a first-edition starter set of Team Rocket game cards.

Pokemon: The First Movie hits VHS and DVD on March 21, just a few months before the sequel is released into theaters. To preorder the movie, click here.

PSA Campaign Wins Hope Award
Wild Brain, Inc.'s animated public service announcements, created for the World AIDS Day campaign and sponsored by Levi Strauss & Company, were awarded "Most Effective PSA Campaign" at the TV Cares Ribbon of Hope Celebration 2000. The award was announced March 11 as part of The Academy of Television Arts & Sciences awards ceremony.

"Sensitive" (name of the winning animated condom commercial) received numerous industry awards in 1999 including the best television commercial honor at the 27th annual Annie Awards.

Discreet to Release Some of its Source Code
Discreet, a division of Autodesk, Inc., announced that it plans to release key character animation technology as Open Source code for selected features of its 3D Studio MAX R3 software. Through Open Source, Discreet plans to facilitate and accelerate the integration of the authoring environment with the runtime game engine. This binding of the programming and art disciplines facilitates rapid innovation enabled by the flexibility of Open Source. Discreet is actively taking the lead in promoting the availability of Open Source code for 3D content creation tools in the games industry.

"You can't deliver a black-box 3D content creation tool to a game development team and expect innovation," says Jeff Yates, games industry manager at Discreet. "Content creation tools have to take better advantage of the fact that game developers are among the brightest and certainly the most adventurous programmers in the world. An Open Source pipeline for information exchange, at the source-code level, enables rapid innovation and deeper integration between authoring tools and next-generation game engines."


Wednesday, March 15, 2000

"God, The Devil, and Bob" Bombs on Tuesday
It looks like "God, The Devil, and Bob" will be a short-lived prime time cartoon series. Overnight ratings put the show in a virtual tie with FOX for last place at the 8:30PM time slot. In addition, more NBC affiliate stations have pulled the controversial cartoon after receiving numerous complaints last week. The number of NBC affiliate stations refusing to show it is now at 17.

Movie Reviews of Lesser-Known and Limited Release Animated and Anime Films
Ottawa Citizen reviews Kirikou and the Sorceress (three out of four stars).
Click here.

Seattle Times reviews X (one and a half out of four stars). Click here.

Box Office Results
Here are the Box Office results for last weekend's animated films:

The Tigger Movie
$2.4 Million ($1,177 per screen average)
13th at the Box Office
Total to Date: $38.8 Million

Fantasia 2000
$1.4 Million ($27,085 per screen average)
18th at the Box Office
Total to Date: $31.1 Million

Toy Story 2
$275,693 ($783 per screen average)
28th at the Box Office
Total to Date: $241.3 Million


Tuesday, March 14, 2000

Exclusive - Dinosaur Soundtrack Release: May 2
Walt Disney Records has told Animation Artist Magazine that the soundtrack for Dinosaur will be released on May 2, 2000 and it will be 100% scores - no songs. In addition there is a Sound Factory product coming out with eight Dinosaur-inspired songs. None of the songs feature Kate Bush. Visit the Animation Artist Dinosaur Movie Site at www.dinosaurmovie.com.

Toy Story 2 Continues to Sweep World
Toy Story 2 continues to perform strongly overseas, this time coming in number 1 at the Japanese Box Office with $3.8 million. It is the biggest-ever U.S. animation debut in Japan, topping The Lion King. The total take for Toy Story 2 worldwide is currently at $430 million, making it the 27th highest grossing film of all time.

Newsletter Tonight
There will be a new Animation Artist Magazine newsletter tonight. Make sure your on the
mailing list to receive it.


Monday, March 13, 2000

Vancouver Animation Festival Issues a Call for Entries
The Vancouver Effects and Animation Festival (June 12-17, 2000) is seeking submissions from individual artists, production houses, and educational facilities in various categories. VEAF will showcase all types of effects work and animation during its six day celebration. Everything from realistic water effects to traditional cell animation work.

Some of the categories are: Commercials (animated), Commercials (effects), Feature Film (animated), Feature Film (effects), Music Videos (animated), Music Videos (effect), Short Films, Titles, Idents, PSAs and Stings, Simulations, Education and Training video, Student work, CD-ROM, and Website.

For a more complete description of the categories and submission guidelines visit the web site: http://www.veaf.com. There is no cost to submit work. Awards will be given in all the various categories. The submission deadline is April 20, 2000.


Sunday, March 12, 2000

Screening Room Bug Discovered
Thanks to an alert reader, Animation Artist Magazine has uncovered a bug in the Screening Room which prevented people from posting evaluations. The problem has been fixed and evaluations should go through without a hitch.

Animation Artist Magazine is sponsoring a new contest for people who post constructive feedback to the Animation Artist Screening Room . The more feedback you give, the more times you are entered in the contest. To enter, simply post your feedback on an image in any (or all) of the screening rooms between now and March 31, 2000.

On April 2, Animation Artist Magazine will hold a drawing and the winner will be given the choice of one of the following three prizes:

1) A new copy of the LightWave 3D Applied book signed by one of the authors.

2) A copy of the 3D Studio Max Plug-ins Guide.

3) An Animation Artist T-shirt.

Every time you post feedback in one of the rooms, you are given one entry into the contest. You can earn up to six total entries by posting your opinion in all six rooms.

Fievel Becomes Official Icon for UNICEF
Fievel Mousekewitz, the star of the animated "An American Tail" home video series that was inspired by the hit motion picture, will become the official icon for UNICEF, The United Nations Children's Fund, it was announced today by Marjorie Newman-Williams, director of communications for UNICEF, and Craig Kornblau, president of Universal Studios Home Video.

In a ceremony held Friday at Ellis Island in which Fievel was honored as an inspirational model for children immigrants, the character was cited as an ideal symbol to promote worldwide understanding and friendship for the plight of children, especially those facing challenging new experiences as immigrants.

"Fievel Mousekewitz is a popular and endearing character for children everywhere," said Newman-Williams. "His immigration experiences reflect the adventures and triumphs of all cultures and their children. That's why we welcome this excellent series from Universal, because it touches on so many themes that will ring true for families around the world."

"The pairing of Fievel and UNICEF is a natural union," stated Kornblau. "Both Fievel and UNICEF embrace the same values which salute and celebrate our richest treasures -- children of the world. We are so proud to be associated with UNICEF and look forward to a long relationship."

In his prestigious new position as a UNICEF symbol, Fievel will promote universal friendship and understanding, and celebrate cultural diversity worldwide. Fievel, a young immigrant mouse who experiences a series of adventures while adjusting to a new life in a new land, will spearhead advocacy campaigns for children through UNICEF.
In the series, which includes "An American Tail," "An American Tail: Fievel Goes West," and the newly released direct-to-video sequel, "An American Tail: The Treasure of Manhattan Island," Fievel and his family immigrate to the United States at the turn of the 20th century to escape persecution and build a better life in the "Land of Opportunity."

Encountering many of the same challenges that new immigrants, especially children, must face, Fievel and his family make new friends and discover peace, harmony and understanding, through respect for one another's nationalities and cultural differences. A fourth sequel, "An American Tail: The Mystery of the Night Monster" is slated for release later this year.


Saturday, March 11, 2000

Teen Digital Winners Being Announced Today
This morning the winners of the Teen Digital 2000 competition are being announced in a live ceremony at the Riviera Theater in Santa Barbara, CA. Animation Artist Magazine, one of the sponors of the Teen Digital 2000 competition, will be in attendance. The guest of honor for the ceremony is actor Jeff Bridges. Also in attendance will be the special effects team behind the movie Tron. The event is at 9AM PST and will feature all the winning videos - many animated - being shown on the big screen. Animation Artist Magazine will upload some of the top entries early next week.

Kevin Smith Slams Disney Over "Clerks"
According to E!, "The creator of Chasing Amy and of the controversial religious flick Dogma [Kevin Smith] continues to slam Disneyfied ABC over its decision to postpone the debut of the animated sitcom version of Clerks until May 31. His rabid Internet fan base promptly joined in, rallying support to make sure his new cartoon doesn't get canned. Smith took to the pages of his production company 's Website to bash the Alphabet Network and Disney execs, saying the stuffed suits don't understand the movie spinoff's humor and have sentenced the show to a quick death--the beginning of summer."


Friday, March 10, 2000

Controversial TV Cartoon Takes First Place
NBC's "God, the Devil, and Bob" scored first place in its 8:30PM time slot Thursday despite being banned by seven NBC network affiliate stations. It grabbed an 11.2/17 (Nielson overnight ratings) in its premiere. The closest competitor was ABCs "Whose Line is it Anyway" which grabbed a 7.8/12 rating.

Dinosaur Forums Open
Animation Artist Magazine's Dinosaur Movie Site has opened up two new areas - Mail Bag and Forums. The
Mail Bag area allows visitors to post "letters to the editor" about Dinosaur while the Forums allow people to discuss the various aspects of Disney's Dinosaur movie. Registration is not required to post. Click here to go to the Animation Artist Dinosaur Movie Site.


Thursday, March 9, 2000

Controversial TV Cartoon Airs Tonight
Tonight NBC airs the controversial God, the Devil, and Bob cartoon series that two NBC affiliate stations have already banned (one in Salt Lake City and another in Pocatello, Idaho).

According to the San Francisco Examiner, NBC is trying to "cash in on what has become a cheap and easy way to get a hit. Ever since 'The Simpsons' elevated the Fox network, animation has been on the minds of TV programmers, but never has the glut been greater than in the past two seasons. NBC is a relative newcomer to this genre but is jumping in with both feet. Later it will air 'Sammy,' an autobiographical slice of dysfunction from David Spade."

Buzz Lightyear TV Show to be Traditionally Animated
According to Philadelphia Daily, "Toy Story hero Buzz Lightyear will get his own Saturday morning series on ABC next fall. But 'Disney/Pixar's Buzz Lightyear of Star Command' won't have that fancy Pixar animation. Instead, ABC said, it will be the 'traditionally animated television series upon which the toy was based.'"


Wednesday, March 8, 2000

New Version of Softimage Being Released Tomorrow
SOFTIMAGE Co., a subsidiary of Avid Technology, Inc., today announced the forthcoming new version of SOFTIMAGE(R)|3D, the company's flagship modeling, animation and rendering system. The new release, downloadable from the web beginning on 9th March 2000, is optimized for the game development community, addressing both functionality and workflow. This release includes improved mesh editing tools, a refined user interface and greater stability and introduces support for next-generation game platform development.

The SOFTIMAGE|3D Version 3.9 software delivers numerous new features including: new tools for selecting polygons and editing polygonal mesh objects; a major update to Softimage's .xsi file format to support constraints, 2D inverse kinematics, triangle strips and user data; enhanced output for Sony PlayStation format (HMD); improvements to editing envelope weights; and new texturing utilities.

The SOFTIMAGE|3D Version 3.9 release also represents a milestone for the company as it will be the first ever release that Softimage distributes to customers via the world wide web. Rather than waiting the customary 6-8 weeks that it takes for reproduction and shipping, customers under a valid support contract will be able to log on to the Softimage Support web site to download the software.

NewTek Ships LightWave 6.0 NT
NewTek, manufacturer of 3D animation and video production products, announced this week that LightWave 6.0 for NT is shipping to customers Worldwide. LightWave 6.0 is the culmination of over ten years of development and represents the most significant upgrade to LightWave in the history of the product. LightWave 6.0 introduces a comprehensive set of advanced character animation tools, advanced rendering capabilities, next generation modeling paradigm, new and improved architecture and a refined work environment.

"The market has been eagerly awaiting the release of LightWave 6.0 from NewTek. Long known for their work in broadcast, film and video, NewTek has added groundbreaking new technologies for character modeling and animation," said Wanda Meloni, analyst of M2 of Oakland. "In addition, LightWave 6.0 boasts true radiosity and caustics inside an expanded render pipeline, as well as significant features for serious game developers. This times nicely with several key alliances with game technology companies such as RenderWare, D-Storm, and Cinegraphics (Uview)."

Unique to LightWave 6.0 is a new breed of character animation tools called IntelligEntities. IntelligEntities consist of Skelegons, Endomorphs and Multi-meshes, which allow objects to carry data well beyond simple geometry.


Tuesday, March 7, 2000

Official Final Fantasy Movie Site Opens!
Columbia Pictures has opened up the official Final Fantasy movie site at www.finalfantasy.com. The initial site includes to clips from the movie. The movie is scheduled to open in 2001.

Upcoming Animated Videos/DVDs:
Pokemon: The First Movie (available March 21, $26.98) Ash, Pikachu and their friends are lured into a massive Pokemon showdown on a remote island while the rare and legendary Mew and the bio-engineered Mewtwo fight for the fate of the world. Special DVD features include a sneak preview of the second Pokemon movie, which will introduce six all-new characters, a music video of Atlantic recording artists M2M, plus two special shorts, titled "The Story of Mewtwo's Origin" and "Pikachu's Vacation." Each DVD is packaged with an exclusive official Wizards of the Coast "Mewtwo" game card.

Scooby-Doo's Original Mysteries (available March 14,  $24.98) This first-ever Scooby-Doo DVD features America's favorite canine in the first five episodes ever unleashed -- the series pilot, "What a Night for a Knight," plus "Hassle in the Castle," "A Clue for Scooby-Doo," "Mine Your Own Business" and "Decoy for a Dognapper." DVD features include a jukebox with four sampler songs from the "Snack Tracks" album, original recipes from Mystery Inc., and The Scooby Challenge trivia game.

Tom and Jerry's Greatest Chases (available March 14,  $24.98) The original cat and mouse mischief-makers star in this fabulous collection of 15 vintage shorts. This collectible DVD includes the Academy Award(R) winner "The Cat Concerto" (1946), plus "Johann Mouse" (1952), "The Little Orphan" (1948) and "Yankee Doodle Mouse" (1943). "The Worry Song" from "Anchors Aweigh," showcasing Jerry's ever-amazing dance with the great Gene Kelly, is also included as a special bonus.


Monday, March 6, 2000

Blue Planet Quietly Back in Production
Production of the CGI animation adventure Blue Planet is quietly back on again with Rainbow Studios not releasing any information on the film, including a projected release date, due to "legal reasons."

Toy Story 2 Moves to #4 Worldwide
Toy Story 2 is now the fourth most successful animated film worldwide due to great U.S. and overseas results. To date, Toy Story 2 has made over $400 million worldwide. The only three animated films to do better in worldwide release are Tarzan, The Lion King, and Aladdin.


Sunday, March 5, 2000

Desert News Expresses Disappointment with Academy Awards Ignorance of Animation
Desert News columnist Jeff Vice has written an article expressing disappointment in the Academy Awards for ignoring Toy Story 2 and The Iron Giant in the category of Best Picture. Vice says,

"The Oscars have had a long-standing grudge against comedies and animated films, which explains why Toy Story 2 and The Iron Giant weren't nominated this year. However, the stories for these two movies were every bit as character-rich as those that were nominated — and, in at least a couple of cases, even more so."

To read other Academy Award disappointments, according to Vice, click here.


Saturday, March 4, 2000

New Dinosaur Trailer and Release Date!
Walt Disney Pictures has moved the release date of Dinosaur from May 26 to May 19, 2000. No reason was given for the change from Memorial Day Weekend to a week earlier. Disney has also released a new trailer for Dinosaur that shows the dinosaurs talking. Look for the new trailer to be attached to Disney's Mission to Mars, which opens on Friday, March 10. You can also view it online at the Animation Artist Dinosaur Movie Site. Click here to go to www.dinosaurmovie.com to view the trailer.

New Newsletter Tonight!
There will be a new Animation Artist Newsletter sent out tonight, so make sure you're on the
mailing list to get the latest animation news and updates.


Friday, March 3, 2000

Sequel to Pokemon Hits Theaters this July
Warner Bros. is wasting no time bringing the sequel to Pokemon: The Movie to the big screen. This July, WB will release Pokemon: The Movie 2000. WB says to expect six new Pokemon characters to be introduced in the movie. Once again, special collector trading cards will be handed out to people who see the movie in the first week. This tactic helped guide Pokemon: The Movie to the second biggest opening ever for an animated film, topped only by Toy Story 2, which opened two weeks after Pokemon: The Movie.

Phantom Menace Leads Razzie Awards
Every year, the Razzie Awards are given to the worst films of the year and this year the special-effects filled Star Wars: The Phantom Menace leads the nominations. Here are the categories the film was nominated for:

Worst Picture of 1999
Star Wars: The Phantom Menace

Worst Screen Couple of 1999
Jake Lloyd & Natalie Portman

Worst Supporting Actress of 1999
Sofia Coppola

Worst Supporting Actor of 1999
Jar-Jar Binks

Worst Director of 1999
George Lucas

Worst Screenplay of 1999
Star Wars: The Phantom Menace

Worst New Star of the Decade
Jar-Jar Binks

Even though there has been a major backlash against the Jar-Jar Binks character, Lucas has publicly stated that the character will be back in Star Wars: Espisode 2.

The awards ceremony is being held Saturday, March 25 in The Academy Room of the Hollywood Roosevelt Hotel.


Thursday, March 2, 2000

Two New Peanuts Shows May Make it to TV
Two Peanuts TV specials were in the works at the time of Charles Schulz death and the future of both are up in the air. The first is a documentary special titled "Here's to You, Charlie Brown: 50 Great Years." It is a mixture of highlights from past TV shows, interaction with live people (versus animated), and 10 minutes of new animation. Schulz had signed off on the project before he died.

The second special is titled "It's Only Marbles, Charlie Brown," with the fate of the show uncertain. Schulz had created notes for the show, but hadn't signed off on it before his death. Now one of the daughters of Schulz is stating that days before he died, Schulz stated that any animated Peanuts programs must die with him.

According to the A.P. "the cartoonist's children are worried that the company that owns the 'Peanuts' franchise will turn out new programs that stray too far from Schulz's legacy.

'They'll end up being like South Park or something like that,' says Schulz's son Monte."

Perhaps the biggest problem is that before Peanuts because syndicated, United Media demanded from Schulz that they own the copyright on all the characters to protect its investment. Schulz later tried to get the copyright back, but was unsuccesfull. Thus it seems that United Media, which makes tens of millions of dollars off Peanuts has the final say in the matter of the current TV shows and even future Peanut TV show specials (or movies).

A Peanuts animated video was in the works at the time of Schulz's death and plans for the video — a Snoopy-as-Pied Piper story — are going forward with release of the video scheduled later this year.

The Simpson's and California Politics
According to the Sacramento Bee:

"The Simpsons" cartoon show has waded into California politics. The latest episode featured a bar-tending contest with the winner getting his photo on a beer calendar. A photographer stepped forward to snap the winner's picture -- a photographer identified as, "Phil Angelides, Duff Beer vice president for calendars and fake IDs."

The character looked only a little like the state treasurer and Sacramento developer by the same name. "Nobody looks good on 'The Simpsons,' but I'll take it as an endorsement," Angelides said. "If I ever run for office again, I'll say I'm the vice president for calendars and fake IDs. That should be worth some votes." The mention was more than a coincidence. Angelides said "Simpsons" creator Matt Groening is a friend.


Wednesday, March 1, 2000

Animation that Thinks
ScienceDaily is reporting on a science project where those involved get their animated character to think for themselves.

"In his creation of a virtual underwater world, Professor Demetri Terzopoulos has fashioned more than just a cool screen saver - he has given his animated characters the ability to think. A hungry shark circles ominously, looking for a nice meal, while a nervous merman searches for a place to hide. When the shark swims away, the merman dashes from behind large rocks to open water with the shark in hot pursuit. Will his cleverly devised plan allow him to reach safety or not?"

To read the entire article, click here.

Animo Soundtrack Editor Released
Cambridge Animation Systems announces Animo Soundtrack Editor, software that accurately matches a dialogue track of an animated production with characters' specific mouth movements.

Cambridge has contracted with Dallas-based Media Sync Solutions for the rights to use its exclusive production-based voice recording analysis software, ProductionSync, as the basis for Soundtrack Editor.

"It is a great endorsement for Media Sync Solution's software that an acknowledged leader like Cambridge has chosen to work with us," says Kevin Erler, president and co-founder of Media Sync Solutions. "We are very pleased they are taking the lead in finding ways to enhance productivity for their users, and that they are using our leading-edge technologies to do so."

Animo Soundtrack Editor uses phonetic recognition technology to identify parts of speech as phonemes in a digital dialogue track. Each phoneme is identified and displayed next to the timeframe position where it occurs in the soundtrack. Timing information can be output as a "bar sheet" so that animators can accurately match the dialogue track with the specific mouth movements of the characters. Users can edit the sound breakdown to remove or add additional phonemes, and make basic adjustments to the sound file with cut-and-paste facilities.

Soundtrack Editor can be used as standalone software or in conjunction with an Animo system for 2D, 3D or model animation. When used with Cambridge's Animo 3 software, the soundtrack breakdown information can be imported into Animo's Scene Compositor, where the sound waveforms and phonemes are displayed next to the exposure sheet. The relevant drawings can then be matched to the soundtrack in the exposure sheet.

Animo 3 users can also set up libraries of drawn and painted mouth and lip positions to automatically associate a drawing with a specific phoneme. As each phoneme is identified in the soundtrack, the associated drawing is automatically selected and inserted into the scene at the correct position to match the dialogue.

Once a set of drawings, also called a level, has been scanned into Animo, the user can access a mapping panel to define the associations, then save the information as part of the level. Mapping information can also be saved independently and imported into the level. This means that if a user creates different libraries but always places the drawing for a particular sound's mouth position in the same position in the level, the same mapping can be used for multiple libraries.

"Accurate lip-synching for realistic speaking characters has always been a painstaking process," says Brian Tyler, Cambridge's vice president of sales and marketing. "With Animo Soundtrack Editor, using the ProductionSync software, it becomes faster, more intuitive and reliable. Beginning with pre-production, the Animo family of products provides powerful solutions for every stage in the digital production process."

 

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