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Vicki Tracy

Wednesday, May 31, 2000

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

$25.0 Million ($7,583 per screen average - 36% decrease)
2nd at the Box Office (down from #1 last weekend)
Total to Date: $80.4 Million

The Road to El Dorado
$309,111 ($513 per screen average - huge 69% increase)
22nd at the Box Office (up from #31 last weekend)
Total to Date: $49.9 Million

Toy Story 2
$143,685 ($860 per screen average - 17% decrease)
41st at the Box Office (down from #32 last weekend)
Total to Date: $245.3 Million


Salt Lake Tribune Reviews Tarzan Special Edition
According to the Salt Lake Tribune:

"...Naturally, the deluxe DVD version of the film looks and sounds super. You expect that. But what really makes this pricey package worth owning is an abundance of extras. Among the goodies on the two discs in the package you will find audio commentary from producer Bonnie Arnold and directors Kevin Lima and Chris Buck, a section on the development of the film, an early presentation reel, a section on making the music from the film, a split-screen comparison that takes you from the storyboards to the final film and a fascinating section on the "deep canvas" animation process created especially for Tarzan. This is a great DVD, worth every penny of the asking price."

Click here for the full story/review.


"Clerks" Premieres Tonight
ABC premiere's Kevin Smith's animated "Clerks" tonight at 9:30PM. The crudely drawn animated series has opened to mixed, but mostly negative, reviews. According to the Philadelphia Daily News:

"'Clerks' actually deserved to be stranded on a remote island in the South China Sea, along with anyone who believed a profanely funny low-budget movie could be turned into a practically squeaky-clean ABC cartoon without suffering irreparable harm."

The show has suffered many setbacks, mostly due in part to Smith constantly bad mouthing ABC and Disney over its handling of the series.

To date only six episodes have been written/animated.

Tuesday, May 30, 2000

Dinosaur has Huge Singapore Opening
Dinosaur opened in Singapore over the weekend, bringing in $475,000. This easily makes it the strongest opening in Singapore ever for a Disney animated film. The last record holder was Toy Story 2. Dinosaur next opens in Australia on June 15, 2000. To see a Australian Disney Animation employees review of Dinosaur, click here.

USAnimation V5 Demonstrations this Week.
Fulfilling its goal of multi- platform entertainment by helping animation easily cross the global digital threshold, Stan Lee Media, Inc. and Canadian-based Toon Boom Technologies are presenting the USAnimation V5 system, being demoed at both companies' booths at the World Animation Celebration in Los Angeles. 

Vector-based and resolution-independent USAnimation V5 software permits animators to create programming for direct export to, and easy conversion between, Internet, television and film mediums through the utilization of Macromedia Flash. Indicative of its application for single projects or entire libraries, SLM will use the new software in producing "The New Adventures of Mighty Mouse," "Stone Man" and its other forthcoming animation franchises. The company is in the process of retooling parts of its digital studio in order to utilize the software. USAnimation V5 is the latest iteration of Toon Boom's flagship software. 

"For networks, studios and production companies around the world, the ability to easily repurpose new and archived animation for the Web will open up an additional and lucrative revenue stream," stated Jamie Wilkinson, executive vice president, Internet strategy, for SLM. "For leading Web-based programmers such as Stan Lee Media, this software will change the parameters of projects before their creation, opening up possibilities to export Internet programming to television or motion pictures."

According to Jacques Bilodeau, president and CEO of Toon Boom, "USAnimation V5 is the only truly resolution-independent 2D cartoon animation software, allowing content developers to create animation for any distribution medium whether Web, TV or HDTV, without having to reprocess their animation productions. Such a benefit reinforces our commitment to provide the most advanced, flexible and cost-effective package to our clients by integrating key features that are a must for successful animation productions in terms of quality and cost."

Monday, May 29, 2000

Lawsuits Nothing New for Disney
As a major corporation, Disney has been sued many times, including lawsuits stemming from some of its animated films. The Toledo Blade recently tackled this subject in an article titled "Lawsuits Nothing New for Disney." One portion of the article states:

"Disney settled a dispute with a former employee, Daryan Faeroe, in 1996, after he said he came up with an idea for Pixie Dust, according to published reports.

Mr. Faeroe said he submitted an idea for bottling pixie dust and selling it as a souvenir. The dust was made famous by Tinker Bell in the Peter Pan story. Mr. Faeroe met with Disney representatives to tell them about his idea, but it was rejected.

Several months later, Disney began selling pixie dust in its catalogue. Mr. Faeroe approached the company, and Disney offered $10,000 for the trademark rights. But he asked for $15,000, and the company refused..."

Click here for the full story.

Sunday, May 28, 2000

Top Guests Teaching Animation in the UK
According to the BBC News:

"A Hollywood expert is passing on his experience to UK university students in a boom area - computer animation.

Tim McLaughlin, whose credits include Jumanji and Star Wars Episode I, has been made a visiting professor at Bournemouth University.

He works for the George Lucas company, Industrial Light + Magic, based in northern California, but is spending four weeks at the National Centre for Computer Animation (NCCA) in the university's media school.

He brings his practical experience to courses which are already turning out graduates with skills which are increasingly demanded by film, internet and computer games businesses..."

Click here for the full story.

Saturday, May 27, 2000

Princess Mononoke DVD Coming Soon
There seems to be some confusion over the release of the Princess Mononoke DVD. is reporting that the DVD will be released on January 1, 2001. Meanwhile, is reporting that the DVD will be released on August 8, 2000. So who is right?

This much we do know. On August 8, 2000, the Princess Mononoke VHS is being released on August 8, however it is priced to rent. Priced to rent means that the studio jacks up the price of the video (in this case over $80), forcing companies like Blockbuster to have to pay a lot of money to include it in their rentals, while maximizing short-term profits. Then a number of months later the video is repriced to sell to the general public.

Animation Artist Magazine contacted Buena Vista about the DVD release date. Buena Vista could not confirm when the DVD will come out. However, the DVD is priced to sell. There are no bonus features except that it appears in its original widescreen format. Animation Artist Magazine will keep you posted on any new developments regarding the release date of the DVD.

Violence in Animation Article Hits Wires
Earlier this week Animation Artist Magazine posted a link to an article about a study that calls animated films violent. The article has since made the news wires and has been printed in dozens of newspapers across the world. Even the Sydney Morning News picked up the article, retitling it "Swords, Guns, and Knives - It Must be an Animated Film."
Click here to read it. What do you think of the article? Is it a waste of government funds? Does it bring up valid points? Click here to share your opinion.

Friday, May 26, 2000

Tweety to Star in Direct to Video Feature
On Sept. 12, Tweety flies into action with the all-new, fully animated, direct-to-video film available only on video for a suggested retail price of $19.96. The movie, titled "Tweety's High Flying Adventure," will also include a cast of more than 50 Warner Bros. cartoon characters. There will also be a new character - Aoogah - who is Tweety's new canary friend.

In this feature, Tweety sets off on the "twip" of a lifetime as the canary teams up with a roster of legendary Warner Bros. cartoon characters including Bugs Bunny, Daffy Duck, Tasmanian Devil, Pepe Le Pew and Sylvester traveling to more than 50 exotic locales worldwide, such as the pyramids of Egypt, Venice and Paris.

The adventure starts off in England, where Granny makes a hefty bet that Tweety can circle the globe in a mere 80 days collecting the paw prints of 80 adversarial cats. Along the way, Tweety and the gang face off-the-wall complications, schemes and canary-eating cats of all nations.

Tweety and a host of other Warner Bros. characters take on the extreme sports of snowboarding, mountain biking and hang gliding, circling the globe from London to Africa to the Himalayas and beyond. Along with his all-star cast of characters, Tweety outsmarts the conniving Sylvester, to cross the finish line and win the bet.

"Parents and children alike will once again enjoy Tweety in his latest adventure, featuring all-new animation and contemporary story lines," said Mark Horak, WHV senior vice president, marketing.

One of the top characters in Looney Tunes consumer goods, Tweety also stars in two of the top-rated Saturday-morning programs, including "The Sylvester & Tweety Mysteries" on the Kids WB! and "The Bugs Bunny/Tweety Show" on ABC. According to Q-scores, Tweety flies above the rest, scoring a 54 among kids 6-11

Thursday, May 25, 2000

Animator Prospects Dim!
The Los Angeles Times has published an article subtitled "As Studios Shift Focus, Animator Prospects Dim." The article begins:

"On long tables, students at California Institute of the Arts laid out their best drawings and artwork, hoping to catch the eyes of future employers.

Just a few years ago, they could expect to land high-paying, salaried jobs as animators at major Hollywood studios. But not anymore. These students are more likely to end up designing Web sites, and it may be on only a freelance basis.

'When I first got here I was told anyone holding a pencil would get hired by the studios,' said CalArts senior Erik Yahnker, one of the students displaying his work at a campus career fair this month. 'But the reality today is you have to work your tail off, start small in a dot-com or an independent [studio] where you get a variety of skills.'

In the mid-'90s, studios ramping up animation production were hiring all the talent they could find at places such as CalArts--raiding the campus of even freshmen and sophomores in some cases, school officials say.

But an oversupply of feature animation talent, recent box-office disappointments and an end to the decade-long expansion by studio animation divisions has chilled the once-hot job market for animators..."

Click here for the full story.

Can Dinosaur Best Mission Impossible?
It promises to be a huge weekend for movie fans. Mission Impossible 2 opened on Wednesday and Shanghai Noon opens this Friday with Dinosaur entering its second week. Theater polling has shown that audiences are loving Dinosaur and recommending it to others including those without children.

While many critics predict that Mission Impossible 2 will easily take Memorial Day weekend, there is some belief that Dinosaur can pull an upset Box Office victory. How? Mission Impossible 2 opened on Wednesday giving it two days of play time before the weekend, where media focus their attention. In addition, the Shanghai Noon movie could split action/adventure fans leaving Dinosaur as the Box Office victor.

In a few weeks, Disney's Dinosaur will face additional animation competition from its own Fantasia 2000 (widescreen), Titan A.E. (another PG animated adventure), and Chicken Run.

Wednesday, May 24, 2000

"G" Rated Animated Films are Violent
According to CNN:

"A study by researchers from the Harvard School of Public Health concludes that G-rated animated films contain a surprising level of violence, and that the violence is increasing.

One of the authors of the study, Kimberly Thompson, an assistant professor of risk analysis at the School of Public Health, said, 'The amount of violence has increased significantly over time. The challenge here is that all of the films are very different in nature, and there is a wide range in terms of the amount of violence in all of the films.'

The study, which examined 74 G-rated theatrical films available on video, was published in Wednesday's issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association. It defined violence in broad terms, including scenes where the body is used as a weapon or where there is sword-fighting, gunplay and other aggressive action.

Click here for the full story.

Bill Cosby Does Nick Jr. Animated Voice
Bill Cosby is guest starring as the voice of superhero Captain Brainstorm on Nick Jr.'s animated series Little Bill. The critically-acclaimed Little Bill was created by Mr. Cosby. This special half-hour episode debuts Sunday, June 4 at 7:30 p.m. (ET/PT), and will repeat on Nick Jr. on Monday, June 5 at 9:00 a.m., and Wednesday, June 7 at 10:00 a.m. (ET/PT).

In "Little Bill's Adventure with Captain Brainstorm," Little Bill and his friends Andrew, Kiku and Fuchsia, go to the local mall to meet their favorite superhero, Captain Brainstorm. But when the time comes for Little Bill to meet his hero, he suddenly becomes too shy to even speak to him. Over pizza, Little Bill shows his friends the special picture book he drew for Captain Brainstorm. In a story within the story, we join Little Bill and Captain Brainstorm as they set out on an exciting mission to the planet Yubba to rescue the Space Explorers. In the course of their adventure, Little Bill figures out he has to take a chance to make a new friend -- in stories and in real life. He overcomes his fear and finally gets to meet his hero. Bill Cosby makes a special appearance as the voice of Captain Brainstorm -- a superhero who uses brains, not brawn, to solve problems.

"Mr. Cosby had a great time with this part -- being a superhero comes easily to him," said Brown Johnson, Senior Vice President, Nick Jr.

Little Bill is an animated series which follows the adventures of an inquisitive, energetic and highly imaginative five-year-old boy as he investigates his world. With the help of his loving family and friends, Little Bill explores the ordinary and extraordinary events that make up the daily life of a child.

Little Bill, voiced by seven-year-old Xavier Pritchett, lives in a small residential neighborhood in a big city with his family and friends including: his responsible yet playful father, Big Bill (voiced by Gregory Hines), his warm, sensible mother Brenda (voiced by Phylicia Rashad), and his lively great-grandmother Alice the Great (voiced by the Ruby Dee). The other people in Little Bill's life are his older brother and sister, Bobby and April, his kindergarten teacher Miss Murray, his cousin Fuschia, and his friends Dorado, Andrew and Kiku.

Opening each episode with the signature greeting, "hello, friend," Little Bill, both the show and character, reflect the wisdom, outlook and humor of their creator, Bill Cosby. The show is based on Cosby's popular "Little Bill" book series published by Scholastic. Little Bill teaches the importance of friendship and family relationships while showing children how to solve problems creatively and fairly. Little Bill gives young viewers role models they can relate to and caregivers can trust.

Tuesday, May 23, 2000

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

$38.85 Million ($11,930 per screen screen average)
1st at the Box Office
Total to Date: $38.85 Million

The Road to El Dorado
$182,751 ($405 per screen average - huge 82% drop)
31st at the Box Office (down from #18 last weekend)
Total to Date: $49.5 Million

Toy Story 2
$180,640 ($617 per screen average - 17% increase)
32 at the Box Office (down from #31 last weekend)
Total to Date: $245 Million

Call for Animated Entries
The Heartland Film Festival is inviting feature-length and short film entries in three categories: Dramatic, Documentary and Animation.

A grand prize of $50,000 will be awarded, and an additional $50,000 will be spread among the remaining winners. The deadline is June 15.

All films submitted must reflect the Heartland Film Festival's Statement of Purpose: "To recognize and honor filmmakers whose work explores the human journey by artistically expressing hope and respect for the positive values of life." The 9th annual Heartland Film Festival unspools this year from Oct. 18-26.

For further information or entry forms, call the festival at (317) 464-9405 or go to Submissions should be sent to the Heartland Film Festival, 613 N. East St., Indianapolis, IN 46202.

Monday, May 22, 2000

Audiences to Disney - "Great Movie"
The masses seem to be disagreeing with critics over Disney's Dinosaur, which racked in an estimated $38.6 million over the weekend. Theater polling is showing the following:

- The PG rating hasn't stopped parents from taking their kids to see the film.
- Audiences are enjoying the film and recommending it to others.
- Teens and couples are making up 31% of the viewers.

Final opening Box Office numbers will be published tomorrow. Next weekend is a holiday weekend (Memorial Day) in which Dinosaur is expected to continue a strong run, but lose the top billing to Mission Impossible 2.

The Dinosaur Experience
From May 19th - July 4th, following each showing of Walt Disney Pictures' live-action/computer-animated visual effects spectacle, Dinosaur , Hollywood's legendary El Capitan Theatre in Hollywood will offer moviegoers a close encounter with dinosaurs at "The Dinosaur Experience," it was announced Thursday by Richard Cook.

Located next to the theatre at the El Capitan Entertainment Centre, "The Dinosaur Experience," featuring three floors of visual delights, interactive games, elaborate displays and a variety of life-size audio-animatronic dinosaurs, is included in the admission price. Tickets for the El Capitan's special engagement of Dinosaur can be purchased at the box office (6838 Hollywood Blvd.), by calling 1-800-DISNEY-6, or on-line at For groups of 20 or more, call (818) 845-3110.

Among "The Dinosaur Experience's" highlights are 15 fully animatronic dinosaurs, including a 28-foot Apatosaurus, that are electronically programmed for realistic movement using pneumatic systems. Visitors can also learn about dinosaurs and gain insights into the making of this extraordinary film at various locations throughout the building.

Commenting on the announcement, Cook said, "Seeing 'Dinosaur' digitally projected at the El Capitan and visiting 'The Dinosaur Experience' adds up to a great entertainment package for moviegoers. This great film inspired us to come up with an added adventure that captured the sense of discovery and excitement. 'The Dinosaur Experience' does all that and helps to create a complete environment for fun and education. We believe moviegoers of all ages are going to enjoy this special engagement at the El Capitan."

Upon entering "The Dinosaur Experience," visitors will step back in time to wander through the "Nesting Grounds," complete with a variety of dinosaurs and their offspring (Parasaurolophus, Stegasaurus and Apatosaurus).

The next stop, "The Art of Survival," spotlights the world of dinosaurs and their struggle to survive harsh prehistoric times is explored.

At the "Paleontology Pavilion," guests can see dinosaur skull replicas on loan from the Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County. This area also provides a chance to touch a fossilized Hadrosaur thighbone and hear a dinosaur roar (recreated from DNA information).

The "Lemur Island" play area is filled with numerous activities including Disney Interactive's newest games on PC, PlayStation and Gameboy Color. Additionally, guests can visit "Behind the Scenes of 'Dinosaur'" and discover the innovative techniques used to make the film. They can also create their own sound and sound effects on real mixing machines and learn how voices and animation come together.

Sunday, May 21, 2000

Weekend Estimates: Dinosaur Makes $38.6 Million
Weekend estimates show Dinosaur slaughtering its competitors by making $38.6 million at the Box Office. Dinosaur now has the biggest opening so far this year. Final numbers for the weekend are expected Monday afternoon. On Friday, Dinosaur made $11.25 million followed by $13.69 on Saturday. Read what Animation Artist readers are saying about Dinosaur at If the numbers hold it will be the second best opening ever for a Disney film and third best ever for a Disney distributed film (The Lion King and Toy Story 2 had better openings).

From Pipes to Pixels
According to Pioneer Planet:

"The movie business is crammed with models and athletes who made it big, but Lino Lakes' Tony Smeed may be the first plumbing assistant to take Hollywood by storm.

Smeed, a 1989 graduate of Centennial High School in Circle Pines, is one of the animators of Dinosaur. He's fortunate to have hooked up with a blockbuster his first time out, but what's really amazing about his story is how quickly it happened. Smeed sent a demonstration reel that contained some of his own computer-animated characters to a few companies, including Disney, despite the fact that he had little formal training and no job experience.

Within months, he was working on Dinosaur.

'Sometimes, I look back and think, Wow, I've done quite a bit in the four years since I sent that tape,' says Smeed, 29, whose steadiest work before Hollywood was in his dad's plumbing business.

'There I was in Minnesota, not doing much, and two weeks later I'm in California, it's sunny, it's hot, and I'm working for Disney on a dinosaur movie. It was the biggest change ever...'"

Click here for the full story .

Saturday, May 20, 2000

Disney's Dinosaur has HUGE Opening
Disney's Dinosaur had a huge opening yesterday, bringing in $11.25 million! The movie is playing on 3,257 screens and could end up with one of the biggest three-day openings in Disney's history. Click here for a look at what critics are saying and for Animation Artist Magazine's review of Dinosaur. After you've seen Dinosaur, click here to submit your review.

Animation Newsletter Tonight
Animation Artist Magazine will send out a new newsletter to subscribers tonight. Make sure that you are among the thousands that receive the newsletter by
signing up here. Recently, the Animation Artist newsletter was named one of the Top 20 ezines by Topica, which hosts thousands of ezines.

Disney Wins Three Daytime Emmy Awards
The Disney Channel was honored with every Emmy Award it was nominated for at the non-televised portion of the 27th Annual Daytime Emmy Awards on Saturday, May 13th.

Mitchell Kriegman, director of the Disney Channel's original pre-school series from The Jim Henson Company, Bear in the Big Blue House, was honored with the Emmy for "Outstanding Directing in a Children's Series." Bear in the Big Blue House was also honored with the Emmy for "Outstanding Achievement in Sound Mixing" (Peter Hefter, Production Mixer; John Alberts, Re-Recording Mixer).

The Disney Channel's original animated pre-school series Rolie Polie Olie was honored again this year with the Emmy for "Outstanding Special Class Animated Program."

Created by Award-winning author/illustrator William Joyce and produced by Nelvana Limited in association with Disney Channel, Rolie Polie Olie follows the touching, tumultuous and sometimes hilarious world of Olie, a simple robotic everyboy who lives in a magical all-robot mechanical world. Rolie Polie Olie also marks the first time in U.S. television history that 3-D technology has been used to create an animated series specifically for little kids. Currently being produced by a global team in France, Vietnam, Canada and the United States, each half-hour episode consists of three seven minute "Olie" adventures.

Friday, May 19, 2000

Disney's Dinosaur Opens!
Over 10 years and $200 million since it started, Disney's Dinosaur opened today on thousands of screens in theaters throughout the U.S. Critic reviews of the film have been mixed, with most giving high marks to the visual production and low marks to the story. Many also question the decision to make the dinosaurs talk. Click here for a look at what critics are saying and for Animation Artist Magazine's review of Dinosaur. After you've seen Dinosaur, click here to submit your review.

Tooning Up His Career
The Philadelphia Daily News has published an article about a person who went from a journalist, to a waiter, to a Disney animator. The article begins:

"While debate rages on what killed the dinosaur, we know where a piece of Dinosaur was born - on a cocktail napkin in a restaurant in Lambertville, N.J.

That's where a failed newspaperman and bored waiter named Gregory William Griffith was doodling as he waited for a drink.

'I was generally just lost,' said Griffith, a Doylestown native and Central Bucks East grad who studied journalism at college but didn't like the newspaper and magazine jobs he tried.

He ended up waiting tables at the Black Bass Inn. He was drawing and waiting for a drink when the bartender complimented his work. Griffith shrugged it off.

'No, that's REALLY good,' she said, and returned the next day with information on the California Institute of the Arts (founded by Walt Disney). Griffith didn't think much of journalism but loved to draw, so he put together a portfolio and, to his astonishment, was accepted.

'I started off studying traditional animation and drawing, and about a semester into things, I wandered down into the computer lab in the basement. I saw some people piecing together some 3-D animation. I sat down and started playing with the system, and sort of never re-emerged,' he said.

Griffith was only a second-year student when Disney recruiters, seeing some of his computer work at a convention, hired him full time..."

Click here for the full story.

Thursday, May 18, 2000

Film Roman Expands Commercial Activities
Film Roman Inc. announced this week that it has activated a major expansion of its commercial production activities.

Kathee Schneider has been named vice president of Creative Affairs and the division's executive producer, with three-time Emmy-winning animator, Eric Radomski, as its executive creative director.

This new team will bring a sharper cutting edge to its commercial arm, according to Schneider, while still maintaining Film Roman's artistic achievements in producing high-quality material.

Film Roman has been successful with its production of animated television commercials in the past. The company has worked with, among others, The Richards Group, Young & Rubicam, Leo Burnett, J. Walter Thompson and 20th Century Fox, for whom they produce the hit animated series, "The Simpsons" and "King of the Hill."

Film Roman recently produced a music video for the Barenaked Ladies, which features live action combined with "King of the Hill" animated characters.

The new commercial division has produced a five-minute branding reel, which is a mixture of live action and traditional animation, for "Ask Jeeves," one of the Internet's 15 most visited Web sites. "Ask Jeeves" acts as a personal guide through the Internet and provides a realtime access to information, products and services. Its technology also provides a Webessential infrastructure to companies.

The division also has concluded a deal with Hakuhodo Advertising in Tokyo, the eighth-largest ad agency in the world, for whom they have produced animated commercials utilizing the "Simpsons" characters for Santory's product, C.C. Lemon.

"Film Roman actively recruits students and graduates from art and film schools, which gives us access to a new generation of artists and animators skilled in the latest technology," says Radomski. "Film Roman now offers clients varied styles rendered in traditional animation, combinations of 2-D and 3-D and mixed media."

"Bullet Time" Visualist Joins Institute
Dr. Paul E. Debevec, the 31-year-old computer visualist whose groundbreaking CG techniques were used to create the "Bullet-Time" effects for The Matrix and whose stunning computer-animated films have won awards worldwide, has joined the Institute for Creative Technologies (ICT) as executive producer, graphics research. The former UC/Berkeley researcher will lead ICT's first graphics effort, overseeing a nascent team of researchers, programmers and digital artists.

While devoting the majority of his energies to the ICT, Debevec, his team and his groundbreaking graphics techniques will also be made available for Hollywood film and television projects, helping to evolve the industry as a whole.

"We are delighted to have Paul Debevec join the ICT," stated executive director Richard Lindheim. "This represents the first step in the establishment of the ICT as the foremost virtual reality research center in the world, where the very best people from computer science and entertainment work together to create the next step beyond the Internet."

"We think Paul is an extraordinary talent and look forward to his participating not only with the ICT, but also with the School of Cinema-TV," offered Elizabeth Daley, dean of University of Southern California School of Cinema-Television.

Commenting on the new post, Debevec offered, "The broad future applications of ICT-developed projects was no doubt an incentive, as was the opportunity to work side-by-side with some of Hollywood's most celebrated writers, directors and cinematographers. My mission to help lay the groundwork for the creation of virtual actors and sets, along with overseeing production on projects, closely mirrors my previous work at Berkeley."

Chosen this year by International Design Magazine as one of the 40 most outstanding designers under age 30, Debevec was previously among Wired Magazine's "25 Players Who Are Reinventing Entertainment." His 1999 short film "Fiat Lux," which premiered at SIGGRAPH, went on to earn myriad international festival awards and was included among clips from Star Wars, Tron, Jurassic Park and Toy Story in the 1999 feature documentary "The Story of Computer Graphics." The CG-animated film -- based on the interior of St. Peter's Basilica at the Vatican, with synthetic objects added seamlessly -- was hailed as "an orgy of technical expertise" by The New York Times. International Design Magazine praised its "stunning verisimilitude and luminosity," while Animation World Magazine declared, "The realism of the piece is astounding."

"Rendering With Natural Light" (1998), which moves through a group of ornamental spheres against the backdrop of a forest, also premiered at SIGGRAPH. Its lighting techniques, and later those of "Fiat Lux," were incorporated into NewTek's LightWave 3D 6.0 modeling and rendering system. The techniques Debevec developed at UC/Berkeley to create his award-winning 1997 film "The Campanile Movie" were used by Manex Entertainment to create the "Bullet-Time" effects for the Keanu Reeves feature The Matrix, which won the 1999 Academy Award for Best Visual Effects.

Most recently serving as a postdoctoral researcher in computer graphics research and content creation at UC/Berkeley, Debevec moved into the post after research work as a graduate student. During the summers of 1992 and '93, he developed desktop publishing and presentation graphics software as an engineer for Microsoft.

Wednesday, May 17, 2000

Animated Films Take on New Life for Grownups
According to the Kansas City Star:

"On some level, almost every movie Hollywood has put out in the past 15 years has been a cartoon.

But while it can be argued that live-action movies worked hard during the mid-1980s to late-1990s to dumb themselves down, the real cartoons -- feature-length animation -- have become richer, deeper and, well, more mature.

Last year's bumper crop of animated features, from Disney's Toy Story 2 and Tarzan to the Japanese import Princess Mononoke and from The Iron Giant to South Park: Bigger, Longer and Uncut, made it clear to moviegoers, critics and audiences alike that big-screen cartoons were no longer just a babysitting accessory. They now have all the diversity of style, narrative and audience-targeting of live-action movies.

This year's crop looks just as varied and potentially lucrative..."

Click here for the full story.


Ready for a Simpsons Wrestling Game?
Fox Interactive today announced its plans to publish "The Simpsons Wrestling" for PlayStation, a game based on the popular, long-running animated television satire.

Scheduled for a Winter 2000 release, The Simpsons Wrestling is an interactive all-out humorous 3D wrestling/fighting game, complete with all of Springfield's colorful characters including Bart, Homer, Marge, Lisa, Maggie plus Burns, Smithers, Apu, Mo and Flanders. The game can be played in two modes, tournament style single-player and grudge match with two players. If players are lucky enough to get to the bonus match, they can also unlock secret characters and venues.

"The Simpsons is America's most popular prime-time family," stated Karly Young, director of worldwide brand marketing, Fox Interactive. "With such an overwhelming response to our previous Simpsons titles, we want to give fans another dose of Bart and Homer -- this time for PlayStation gamers."

Simpsons Smack Down!

Mimicking other popular wrestling titles, "Simpsons Wrestling" is the first humorous title of its genre. This 3D wrestling/fighting game will feature the characters and locations of FOX's popular television satire "The Simpsons." Players will take on the identity of their favorite Simpsons character and battle their way to the ultimate title -- Champion of Springfield. "The Simpsons Wrestling" emphasizes wacky physical and verbal comedy where players can control the characters' actual voices with 240 verbal taunts to choose from.

Simpsons Wrestling features 22 characters from the television show, 13 of which are playable. Each character executes his or her own exclusive moves and gestures and power moves such as Homer's Strangulator, Bart's Wedgie, Lisa's Pop Quiz and Barney's Duff Cloud Burp. Players must learn to exploit the numerous "Power-ups" including the chocolate donut that increases speed, bowling pins that can be used as clubs and bubble gum that slows players down.

The game also contains richly detailed 3D locations from Springfield including the schoolyard, Power Plant, Simpson House, Krusty Lu Studios, Moe's Tavern, Barney's Bowl-O-Rama, Kwik-E-Mart, Town Hall, Mr. Burns' Mansion, Alien Spaceship and Itchy and Scratchy Land.

Tuesday, May 16, 2000

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

The Road to El Dorado
$1 Million ($978 per screen average - 11% increase)
18th at the Box Office (down from #14 last weekend)
Total to Date: $49 Million

Toy Story 2
$154,186 ($480 per screen average)
31st at the Box Office (down from #27 last weekend)
Total to Date: $244.8 Million


Maya Coming to the Mac!
Alias\Wavefront, an SGI company, today announced their intent to bring its Maya 3D animation and visual effects software to the Apple Mac OS X platform.

Alias\Wavefront today previewed Maya for Max OS X at Apple's Worldwide Developers Conference. This announcement underscores both companies' focus on the creative community, and their commitment to deliver powerful solutions that innovate and inspire.

Maya delivers all the tools and features that professional digital content creators need to produce world-class animation and visual effects. Currently available on Windows NT and SGI IRIX workstations, the addition of Mac OS X validates the power of the new Apple operating system to support the most advanced 3D graphics application available today.

"Alias\Wavefront received overwhelming requests from the Macintosh community to make our software available for the Mac," said Richard Kerris, Director of Maya Technology at Alias\Wavefront. "We are very pleased to respond to this customer demand today by announcing the development of Maya for Mac OS X. With the G4, Apple is delivering a very impressive, powerful graphics platform, which provides an excellent fit for our world-leading Maya 3D technology. Together, Maya on Macintosh will give Mac artists and animators an unbeatable combination of creative freedom, performance and productivity."

"We couldn't be happier that Alias\Wavefront is bringing Maya to the Mac," said Steve Jobs, Apple's CEO. "Maya for Mac OS X will be the premiere 3D application on the Mac."

David Dozoretz, JAK Films' PreVisualization/Effects Supervisor, Star Wars: Episode I and Episode II states, "Now that we have Maya, we will be able to drastically cut the time it takes to do pre-visualization shots. With only a half-hour of training on Maya, our lead artist needed only five minutes to redo a shot that had previously taken him half a day. This speaks volumes. And the introduction of Maya for Mac OS X has us even more excited, especially when combined with the rendering power of Silicon Graphics servers."

Mac OS X is a completely new implementation of the Macintosh operating system, featuring state of the art technology throughout, including an entirely new user interface called "Aqua." Mac OS X is designed to make computing even easier for consumers, while simultaneously extending the functionality for professional users.

Maya Complete for Mac OS X will be released in early 2001.

Monday, May 15, 2000

Pokemon Falls From #1
With just a few months to go until another Pokemon theatrical movie, interest in the show is starting to waiver. According to Daily Variety, the "Pokemon" TV show, until recently, held the top kids spot for 54 consecutive weeks. The show was recently upset from the top spot by ABC's "The Weekenders." Daily Variety also reports that FOX recently beat "Pokemon" with an episode of the rival "Digimon: Digital Monsters."

Buzz Lightyear Game to Come from TV Series
Activision, Inc., in collaboration with Disney Interactive, Inc., will bring the adventures of the upcoming Disney/Pixar's Buzz Lightyear of Star Command television series to the Sega Dreamcast(TM), PlayStation game console and Nintendo Game Boy Color this fall. All versions of Disney/Pixar's Buzz Lightyear of Star Command are being developed for Activision by Traveller's Tales.

"Disney/Pixar's Buzz Lightyear of Star Command allows players to fully explore the humor, scenarios and characters found in the upcoming animated TV show," stated Mitch Lasky, executive vice president, Activision Studios. "Buzz Lightyear fans will deploy their high-tech Space Ranger abilities in a real-time, third-person, action packed adventure."

In Disney/Pixar's Buzz Lightyear of Star Command, gamers relive the fun and excitement of the television series as they take on the role of the gung-ho, galactic space hero Buzz Lightyear and explore real-time 3-D environments while interacting with a multitude of characters from the series. The game challenges players to navigate dynamic environments and plush levels as they venture across the galaxy and fight the Evil Emperor Zurg and his minions.

Sunday, May 14, 2000

ABC To Air Mulan Tonight
Tonight, Disney-owned ABC will present the Network premiere of its animated Mulan. The movie was originally released in theaters in 1998 and is directed by Tony Bancroft and Barry Cook.

General Mills Executes Dinosaur Promotion Deal
General Mills will go back in time to celebrate a brand new movie. Seven of the company's cereals have tied-in with Dinosaur, Walt Disney Pictures' epic new feature that seamlessly blends digitally enhanced live-action photography, special-effects wizardry, and computer-generated characters. Just in time for the May 19 release of Dinosaur , 20 million cereal boxes will be distributed nationwide with related on-pack activities, premiums and offers.

The large size boxes of five popular Big G cereal brands each feature collectible "Chomping Magnets" featuring characters from Dinosaur. With a window on the box showcasing each premium, General Mills' Visible Value technology - launched last fall with Toy Story 2 premiums - allows kids to see the actual magnet they'll receive with their cereal. Five separate "Chomping Magnets," designed to look like the movie's characters, are available in 20 oz. boxes of Honey Nut Cheerios, Frosted Cheerios, Cinnamon Toast Crunch and Lucky Charms, and 19.5 oz. boxes of Cocoa Puffs.

In addition, small size boxes of those brands, plus Cookie Crisp and Cinnamon Grahams, feature a mail-in offer for a Disney Audio Plush CD Case. Shaped like the head of a dinosaur, it can hold up to 10 CDs. It is available for $4.99 plus one UPC.

Big G's tie-in with Walt Disney Pictures' Dinosaur is supported by a national advertising campaign including a national FSI, a :30 commercial for Honey Nut Cheerios and another for Cinnamon Toast Crunch.

Walt Disney Pictures' exciting new live-action/computer animated visual effects spectacle, Dinosaur, follows the adventures of an Iguanodon named Aladar as he embarks on a perilous journey with a family of Lemurs and a herd of migrating dinosaurs to find the safety of their nesting ground following a devastating meteor shower. Set 65 million years ago during the Cretaceous Period, the film presents a photorealistic world of wonders filled with a wide variety of prehistoric creatures and a powerful and entertaining story of survival and adaptability. Dinosaur opens in theatres nationwide on May 19.

Saturday, May 13, 2000

Scott Johnston Keynotes User Group Conference
Scott Johnston was the main keynote speaker at the Teradyne Users Group (TUG) meeting that took place May 8-10 at the San Diego Sheraton Harbor Hotel. Johnston demonstrated the magic involved in merging computer graphic tools, developed for live action photorealistic filmmaking, and the adaptation for traditional animation. The users group is comprised of engineers who play key roles implementing advances in semiconductor, software test, circuit board and systems technology.

Scott F. Johnston's successful career in digital animation began in 1989 when he joined Walt Disney Feature Animation during the production of The Little Mermaid. He also worked on the Prince and the Pauper as well as The Rescuers Down Under, contributed several effects to the celebrated Aladdin, and was a principal designer of the ballroom sequence in Disney's Beauty and the Beast. As Computer Generated Imagery Supervisor for the Lion King Johnston oversaw the development and production of all the 3D computer-generated effects in that memorable film, including the climactic wildebeest stampede that takes the life of young Simba's father.

In 1997, Johnston founded Fleeting Image Animation, Inc., where he currently develops and produces animation that integrates traditional and computer generated techniques.

"Most computer graphic tools are developed for live action photorealistic filmmaking and need to be adapted for use in traditional animation," Johnston explains.

During his keynote address, "Making the Magic Seamless" Johnston used examples including The Iron Giant on which he recently completed his work as Artistic Coordinator for Warner Bros., to illustrate some of the magic involved in merging the two animation techniques.

"Designing animation for films is a fascinating business and the semiconductor industry contributes to the success of this enterprise," said Larry Pickett, chairman of the TUG 2000 Steering Committee. "As the computer generated effects become more photorealistic, the requirement for better graphics and faster generation tools increases the need for advanced semiconductors. It is inspiring to see the results of our work in the semiconductor industry playing a role in entertaining our children and grandchildren."

Click here to read an interview with Scott Johnston

Friday, May 12, 2000

Chicken Run Game, Based on Movie, Forthcoming
Eidos Interactive, one of the world's leading publishers and developers of entertainment software, today announced that it has secured worldwide rights to publish PlayStation(R) game console and PC versions of a game based on Chicken Run, the new animated feature film due out this summer. The announcement was made at the Electronic Entertainment Expo (E3Expo).

Chicken Run is a co-production from Aardman Animations, DreamWorks SKG and Pathe. The game is being licensed from, and developed by, game developer Blitz Games, and is scheduled for release later this year.

In keeping with the film's story, the game is set on a 1950s Yorkshire, England chicken farm and follows a group of lovable chickens as they try to break out of their confinement. Described as a homage to the classic World War II film epic "The Great Escape," the adventure-comedy's cast includes the voices of Mel Gibson, Julia Sawalha, Miranda Richardson, Imelda Staunton and Jane Horrocks. The film is being distributed by DreamWorks, the studio behind such films as Saving Private Ryan, Antz and American Beauty, the 1999 Academy Award Winner for Best Picture.

Aardman Animations was founded in 1972 by David Sproxton and Peter Lord and has created such characters as Morph, Creature Comforts and Wallace and Gromit. Aardman has received Oscar(R) nominations in the animated short film category for seven different films and has won three times for "Creature Comforts," "The Wrong Trousers" and "A Close Shave."

"We are delighted to have secured the publishing rights to this game," said Mike McGarvey, COO of Eidos. "'Chicken Run' is tipped to be one of the biggest films this year, and we are confident that the game will be successful."

Blitz Games, formerly Interactive Studios, is an independent games development company established by two brothers, known as the Oliver twins, who started writing games in 1981 and have developed more than 100 titles.

"With such a strong license it was important to choose a publisher that will maximize the marketing and distribution potential of the game to the widest possible audience," said Philip Oliver, managing director of Blitz Games. "We are confident we have found that in Eidos."

"We are excited to see our characters developed for electronic game platforms, and see it as another step forward for Aardman Animations and Blitz Games, as well," added Nick Park and Peter Lord, co-directors of Chicken Run.

Thursday, May 11, 2000

Toy Story 2 Wins Blockbuster Award
Toy Story 2 ran away with the "Best Family Film" honors this week at the Blockbuster Awards, which is determined by millions of Americans (last year, 15 million Americans voted for the Blockbuster Awards). The Sixth Annual Blockbuster Awards were conducted at The Shrine Auditorium.

Artist Colony for Seniors in the Works
What happens when you get older and want to continue that inspiration of drawing and animation? How about joining a new artists colony for seniors in Burbank, CA? According to the Los Angeles Daily News, "A housing plan seeking approval from Burbank officials is designed to tap the talents of older artists and give them an affordable place to live while indulging their artistic gifts.

If the project is approved, seniors living in La Dolce Vita Senior Artists Colony would have studios, a theater and other facilities to continue their work. They also would share their talents with kindergartners at a school next door...The project is expected to cost between $18 million and $20 million, including purchase of the property and relocation of businesses and residents already on the site..."

Click here for the full story.

Wednesday, May 10, 2000

Baseball Themed Animation Series in Production
MSH Entertainment announced that its partner company, Aston Entertainment, has co-developed and are producing "D'Myna Leagues," a baseball-themed children's animation series centering on the antics and adventures of a baseball team made up of myna birds. The initial order of 13 half-hour episodes is scheduled for delivery to broadcasters in August 2000. An additional 13 episodes has been ordered for delivery in early 2001.

Morning Sun Productions, one of the largest foreign-owned animation studios in China is contributing the outside work for the series not being provided by Studio B or Aston. Aston Entertainment is a Florida based state-of-the-art animation and post-production facility 35% owned by MSH.

Also associated with the venture is the creator of the project and co-producer, Canada-based animation company Studio B Productions and Vancouver broadcaster VTV.

MSH and Aston will share in North American distribution and worldwide merchandising revenues. In addition to providing a U.S. broadcaster, it is expected that the recent announced strategic alliance between MSH and Peter Pan Industries will result in a favorable domestic home video arrangement for the series.

NewTek Ships LightWave 6.0 for Mac
NewTek announced today that it is now shipping LightWave 6.0 for the Macintosh. LightWave 6.0 is the culmination of over ten years of development and, according to NewTek, represents the most significant upgrade to LightWave in the history of the product.

"LightWave 6 is set to push the envelope for 3D modeling, rendering and animation and contains many features never before seen on a Macintosh system," said Brad Peebler, Vice President of 3D Graphics Tools for NewTek. "With the new G4 processors, the Apple/LightWave 6 combination represents the fastest rendering solution to provide caustics, radiosity, ray tracing and volumetrics in one system. Combined with the new animation and modeling tools geared for high-end character animation work, LightWave 6 will be head-and-shoulders above any animation system currently available for the Macintosh."

Tuesday, May 9, 2000

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

The Road to El Dorado
$907,993 ($594 per screen average - huge 62% drop)
14th at the Box Office (down from #13 last weekend)
Total to Date: $47.7 Million

Toy Story 2
$162,970 ($430 per screen average)
27th at the Box Office (down from #24 last weekend)
Total to Date: $244.5 Million

Fantasia 2000
No longer in IMAX theaters. Look for widescreen release June 16.
Final Total: $49.5 Million

Animation Companies Participate in Job Fair
Industrial Light and Magic, The Jim Henson Company, and Cinesite are three of a handful of animation companies that will be participating in the 3D Expo Job Fair today and tomorrow in Santa Clara, CA. It is part of the 3D Expo event now going on at the Santa Clara Convention Center.

Monday, May 8, 2000

Dinosaur Newsweek CoverDinosaur Makes Cover of Newsweek!
Disney's new Dinosaur was born in a former aircraft plant against the better business judgment of CEO Michael Eisner. As the film was being developed, the producers told Eisner they didn't know how much it would cost nor how long it would take to build a new-generation digital studio, called the Secret Lab, and to produce the new 82-minute prehistoric epic. For Eisner it was a leap of faith.

"To business-school students, I would hasten to say that this is not the way you should be doing business," Eisner tells Newsweek in the current issue, where it is the cover story. "However, when it is the core of your company - the culture and the heritage which stands for the name Disney - the investment in equipment, space and talent must be made."

Disney is betting that the $200 million spent on "Dinosaur" and the new studio will make it as dominant in 3-D animation as it has always been in traditional, two-dimensional formats, report Senior Editor David Ansen and General Editor Yahlin Chang in the May 15 cover story "Dinosaur! Disney's $200 Million Gamble" (on newsstands now).

The studio, built from the skeleton of an old Lockheed aircraft plant, will be used for future films for the whole Walt Disney Co. Until now, only Disney partner Pixar, with its two Toy Story films and A Bug's Life, has been able to compete with Disney's traditional animation hits. Disney distributed these movies, but splits the take 50-50 with its northern California partners.

In the 82-minute Dinosaur, which was 12 years in the making, a young Iguanodon named Aladar is separated from his parents and raised, Tarzan style, by a family of friendly lemurs. Footage for the background was shot throughout the world for real settings to better emphasize the dinos size and "virtual" reality. But in this computer-manipulated film, nothing is as it seems - the sky may be from one part of the world, the mountains from another and the river that runs through it entirely generated by computer.

Daily Variety: "Dinosaur Lacks Muscle"
Breaking the unwritten code between reviewers and studios that film reviews not be published until opening day, Daily Variety has published a review of Dinosaur two weeks early.

In the review, Daily Variety says that the first few minutes of film, which was shown in the trailer playing before Toy Story 2, is "enough to thrill any viewer, as well as to serve notice that there's never been anything quite like this before."

The reviewer, Todd McCarthy, goes on to say, "The visual splendors continue, to be sure, across the pacy 75 minutes of story time (seven minutes of credits follow). But it's also the case that, somewhere around half-way through, you begin to get used to the film's pictorial wondrousness -- to take it for granted, even -- and start to realize that the characters and story are exceedingly mundane, unsurprising and pre-programmed."

The review calls the creatures "beautifully rendered," but "they don't engage the emotions any more directly than have many more cartoonishly rendered animated characters in the past."

Dinosaur is rated PG for intense images. For more information on Dinosaur, visit Animation Artist Magazine's Movie Site,, which is updated every day through May 31, 2000.

Sunday, May 7, 2000

Sailor Moon S - The Movie Coming to Video this Month
Sailor Moon S - The Movie is coming to video in the U.S. on May 23 in an English-dubbed version. The movie is about "A wicked ice princess wants to freeze and capture Earth for her planetary collection. But Sailor Moon and her tight-knit group of gal pals will have nothing of the sort." For more information on the video, click here.

New Animated Ad Campaign for Coke
netGuru, Inc. announced today that it has just completed the first in a series of four 10-second digitally animated Coca-Cola TV spots for India-based Chaitra Leo Burnett.

According to The Times of India, Coca- Cola appears to be stressing animation as a prime engine for its package of brand promos. The TV slots selected to air the latest ads are designed to embrace both children and adults, maximizing brand leverage.

"The digital animation project for Chaitra Leo Burnett is being produced at the company's India based digital media studios using a customized version of the company's leading cell animation software," commented netGuru Chairman and CEO Amrit K. Das. "Being selected by the prestigious Leo Burnett Advertising Agency to provide the animation for one of the top branded companies in the world, Coca Cola, is a tremendous accolade for our streaming digital technology group."

Das noted that according to the Roncarelli Report on the computer animation industry issued August 1999, worldwide commercial computer animation production totaled $20.3 billion in 1998 and is forecasted at $35 billion by 2001."

Saturday, May 6, 2000

Animation Call for Entries
The Ottawa International Animation Festival, an annual animation event held in North America, is placing a call for animation entries. The deadline is July 1, 2000. The Festival takes place from September 19-24.

This year entries are being allowed via Websites where the entrant can submit a URL instead of sending in a tape. The festival will be accepting SWF files (Flash Animation). During pre-selection our committee will visit each of the sites, view the films, and select the films for competition. For competition, we will have two prizes: a Grand Prize for Best Internet Animation (selected by the International Jury) and a Public Prize for Best Internet Animation. Computers will be set up during the festival to afford attendees the opportunity to view the films and vote for their choices. The International Jury will watch the internet works on their own. Finally, voting will not be limited to attendees. People will be able to log on from home and vote for their favourite films via the Ottawa Festival Website.

Call 1-613-232-8769 for an entry form. Entries are free.

Joe Roth Joins Pixar's Board of Directors
Pixar Pixar Animation Studios (Nasdaq:
PIXR) today announced that Joe Roth, former chairman of The Walt Disney Studios, will be joining the company's Board of Directors, bringing the number of directors to eight.

 Mr. Roth ran The Walt Disney Studios from August 1994 to January 2000, during which time Disney become the top grossing movie studio in the world, and the only studio to achieve box office grosses of more than $1 billion annually for the last five years. Mr. Roth has recently formed an independent entertainment company.

"We are thrilled that Joe will be bringing his incredible talent and entertainment experience to our Board," said Steve Jobs, Pixar CEO. "Joe has contributed to each of our three blockbuster films to date, and we look forward to his wisdom and guidance as we move forward as a major feature animation studio."

Roth was chairman of 20th Century Fox from 1989-1992, when the studio released such successful movies as Home Alone, My Cousin Vinny, Mrs. Doubtfire, White Men Can't Jump and Edward Scissorhands. A New York City native, Roth is a 1970 graduate of Boston University.

"Pixar is creating some of the best family entertainment ever," said Joe Roth. "I am delighted to continue my relationship with Steve, John Lasseter and the entire Pixar team to help build Pixar into a major force in the entertainment industry."

Friday, May 5, 2000

Brad Bird Joins Pixar
Pixar Animation Studios announced today that Brad Bird, the critically-acclaimed director and writer of animated feature films, has joined the company as a director.

Mr. Bird, 35, joins a growing team of creative talent at Pixar and will begin development on his first Pixar animated feature this month.

"Brad is about the best director in animation," said John Lasseter, executive vice president, creative. "Everything he has touched has been entertaining, inventive and full of heart. He's taken audiences to places they've never been before. We are dancing on our desks to have him join us at Pixar."

Bird's career began at age 11 when he created his first animated motion picture which caught the attention of animation legend Milt Kahl. Mr. Kahl later became Bird's mentor at The Walt Disney Company. Most recently, Bird worked at Warner Bros. as the director and screenwriter of the critically-acclaimed animated feature The Iron Giant . His other credits include serving as an executive consultant on "The Simpsons," "King of the Hill" and "The Critic" animated television series; creating the "Family Dog" episode of Steven Spielberg's "Amazing Stories;" and co-writing the screenplay for the live-action feature Batteries Not Included.

"I'm tremendously excited about joining Pixar whose work I've admired for years," said Mr. Bird. "Though they have received much attention for being on the cutting edge technically, they are at heart, like John Lasseter himself, great story-tellers. Their focus is on creating original stories and new characters. That's rare. I can't wait to be a part of it."

About Pixar
Pixar Animation Studios combines creative and technical artistry to create original characters and stories in the medium of computer animation. Pixar created and produced the first computer-animated feature film, the Academy Award winning Toy Story , released in 1995. Pixar has since released two more animated features: A Bug's Life, the highest grossing animated film released in 1998; and Toy Story 2, the highest grossing animated film released in 1999. The studio is currently in production on its fourth animated feature, Monsters, Inc., targeted for release in 2001.

Pixar Takes Huge Profits from Toy Story 2
Pixar Animation Studios today announced financial results for its fiscal first quarter ending April 1, 2000. For the quarter, Pixar posted profits of $26.4 million, or $0.53 per diluted share. These results compare to profits of $900,000, or $0.02 per diluted share, achieved in the year-ago quarter. Revenues for the quarter were $61.0 million, compared with $3.4 million in the year-ago quarter. Pixar is targeting diluted earnings per share of at least $1.25 for fiscal year 2000.

To date, Toy Story 2 has earned box office receipts of $244 million in the U.S. and $479 million worldwide, making it the second highest grossing animated film of all time in the U.S. and the third highest grossing animated film of all time worldwide. Toy Story 2 will be released on video worldwide this October in both VHS and DVD formats.

Pixar also announced that animated feature film director Brad Bird has joined the studio and will begin development on his first Pixar feature this month. Bird most recently directed the critically acclaimed animated feature film The Iron Giant from Warner Bros.

In addition, Pixar announced that Joe Roth, former Chairman of Walt Disney Studios, will be joining the company's Board of Directors.

"Our strong first quarter results reflect Toy Story 2's incredible box office success around the world," said Steve Jobs, Pixar's CEO. "This momentum will continue throughout the year, with the release of the `Buzz Lightyear of Star Command' video this August, the fall launch of the Buzz Lightyear TV series, and the release of Toy Story 2 on video this holiday season. Beyond this year, we currently have four films in production and development, beginning with Monsters, Inc., which is on schedule for a holiday 2001 release."

Thursday, May 4, 2000

DreamWorks Story Gets Picked Up
On April 29, Animation Artist ran a story on an LA Times article titled "Animation Features Aren't Studios Dream Come True." The article outlined the reported failure of DreamWorks animated films based on expectations. That article hit the LA Times newswire and has now been picked up an ran by numerous other publications, like the San Jose Mercury News (click here for article). Near the beginning of the article it states, "Without the cavernous pockets of DreamWorks' billionaire backer Paul Allen, the studio's animation business might well be on the ropes."

The article was published after DreamWorks The Road to El Dorado had been in theaters for a month without any competition from other family films. To date, the movie has only managed to make $46.5 million and by the time its domestic run is complete, it may have made less that Disney's Fantasia 2000 ($49.5 million) which only played in IMAX theaters.

The PG rating of The Road to El Dorado potentially scared off many parents when some reviewers, like the LA Daily News, claimed the PG rating was due to "violence and nudity," not normally recognized as regular family film elements.

DreamWorks could reverse its animated film success when Chicken Run (rating expected any day) hits theaters, courtesy of Aardman Studios. Unlike The Road to El Dorado, Chicken Run will have competition from both Fox Animation (Titan A.E.) and Disney (Fantasia 2000 theatrical release).


CINAR: Rumors of Our Death Exaggerated
According to CBC:

"Troubled film company Cinar is continuing to churn out episodes of its popular children's TV series, but an analyst warns that it cannot continue for long.

'The rumours of our death are greatly exaggerated,' quipped Peter Moss, president of Cinar Entertainment, in an interview Wednesday.

Moss was hired from YTV in mid-March along with others to replace four top people at Cinar who quit or were fired amid accusations of fraud.

'The events of March certainly took a lot of headlines, (but) . . . they happened at a level which doesn't really touch the entertainment division directly,' said Moss.

He said 300 half-hours of programs slated for completion during the next 18 months will be delivered on time, and new contracts are being negotiated... Cinar is the object of several investigations over alleged fraud..."

Click here for the full story.

Wednesday, May 3, 2000

Dinosaur Site to be Updated Daily
The Animation Artist Dinosaur Movie Site at is now being updated daily between now and May 31, 2000. The movie Dinosaur opens in theaters across the US on May 19, 2000. The News section and FAQ were both updated today, including an answer to the question, "is this movie appropriate for kids?"

Dinosaur SoundtrackDinosaur Soundtrack Released
The soundtrack for Disney's Dinosaur is now in stores. It features 16 background scores by James Newton Howard. This soundtrack departs from past Disney animated soundtracks in that there are no songs - only scores. Some of the scores were also used in the Dinosaur movie trailers, like the one playing before Toy Story 2.
Click here to order the soundtrack.

Newsletter Tonight
The next Animation Artist Newsletter is being emailed tonight. If you are not already signed up to receive it,
click here.

Tuesday, May 2, 2000

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

Fantasia 2000
$2.1 Million ($40,414 per screen average)
12th at the Box Office (up from #14 last weekend)
Total to Date: $49.5 Million

The Road to El Dorado
$2 Million ($893 per screen average - huge 62% drop)
13th at the Box Office (down from #7 last weekend)
Total to Date: $46.4 Million

Toy Story 2
$256,826 ($592 per screen average)
24th at the Box Office (down from #21 last weekend)
Total to Date: $244.3 Million

The Tigger Movie
Out of Theaters
Final Total: $44.5 Million

New VP of Nickelodeon Animation Studios
Lolee Aries has been appointed Vice President of Production, Nickelodeon Animation Studios. The announcement was made today by Mark Taylor, Vice President & General Manager, Nickelodeon Animation Studios.

Aries joins Nickelodeon from Film Roman, where she served as Vice President of Production. In her new position at Nickelodeon, she will be responsible for overseeing the day-to-day production on all of Nickelodeon Animation Studios' in-house projects including current series SpongeBob SquarePants, Hey Arnold!, Catdog, Angry Beavers, Oh Yeah! Cartoons! and the upcoming series ChalkZone, The Fairly Oddparents, and Invader Zim.

Aries will also concentrate on the digital production process and increasing utilization of in-house talent.

"Lolee's extensive knowledge of animation production makes her an invaluable asset to Nickelodeon Animation Studios. She will be an integral part of our team in our endeavor to maintain the quality of Nicktoon's productions," says Taylor.

Aries comes to Nickelodeon from Film Roman, where she held various positions over the past twelve years. While at Film Roman, she garnered two Primetime Emmy Awards for Best Animated Series in 1998 as a producer on The Simpsons, and for Best Animated Series in 1999 as an Executive Producer for King of the Hill.

Prior to Film Roman, Aries worked for Hannah-Barbera from 1986 to 1988 as a track reader on Yogi Bear. She began her career in 1979 at Wang Film Productions, a production company in Taidei, Taiwan, where she worked as a film editor, camera operator and animation checker on many projects including Hanna-Barbera's The Smurfs and The Jetsons. Originally from Taipei, Taiwan, Aries is a graduate of Tamkang University in Taiwan, where she earned a B.A. She currently resides in Los Angeles.

Monday, May 1, 2000

New York Times Tackles Chicken Run!
According to the New York Times:

"The camera tilts down from a glowing full moon to sharp barbed-wire fencing. Ominous music chills the soundtrack as a bulky man with a flashlight, accompanied by surly guard dogs, inspects the locks. Suddenly one dog stops and snarls. Inside the fence, a small figure darts behind a shed, followed by the flashlight's beam. It is a tense moment; then, slowly, man and dogs move on. The small figure signals silently and several others rush toward a concealed opening.

So far, this looks and sounds like a classic Hollywood prisoner-of-war escape movie, but in this case the escapees trying to squeeze under the chain-link fence are a bunch of chickens. Literally.

In Chicken Run, scheduled to open on June 23, an animated flock of barnyard poultry is determined to escape evil farmers and the fate of being turned into chicken pot pies. Think "The Great Escape" with feathers or an absurdist fowl version of 'Stalag 17.'

This genre parody -- which features the voices of Mel Gibson as a rooster named Rocky, Julia Sawalha as a visionary hen and Miranda Richardson as a greedy human -- was hatched four years ago by Nick Park and Peter Lord, directors at Aardman Animations in Bristol, England. The studio is an industry leader in clay model animation, a laborious technique that requires small figures made of clay to be incrementally moved and photographed frame by frame on miniature sets..."

Click here for the full story. (may require free registration)

El Dorado Falls Out of Top 10
Facing its first family competition since coming out four weeks ago, The Road to El Dorado fell out of first place and is estimated to have a huge 50%+ drop from its results last weekend. Final numbers will be posted tomorrow. Some analyst estimates of how much the movie will make domestically have also been moved from $60 million to $50 million. 

Arabian Nights Beats Competition in May Sweeps
It was Arabian Nights versus The 70's versus Touched by an Angel in the first Sunday of May Sweeps for the top three TV networks. The special-effects filled Arabian Nights easily won the battle with a 11.2/17 rating, which is nearly double what ABC got last weekend with the Miracle Maker claymation.


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