Sunday, February 14, 2016

Six Days From Now

TAG President Emeritus Tom Sito reminds us:

"On Saturday Feb 20th at noon, the animation community in LA will come together at the Animation Guild in Burbank (1105 N. Hollywood Way) for the annual Afternoon of Remembrance.

It's a non-denominational service where we remember, laugh, cry, and share stories, as we say one more goodbye to all our friends who left us in 2015."


Sadly, the list of the departed is long. ...

In Memoriam 2015

Jane Aaron, illustrator, Sesame Street designer
Joyce Alexander, ink & paint artist
Abiud Alvarez, ink & paint artist
Jim Brummett, animator
Gene Coe, Animation educator, USC
Donna Cooney, ink & paint artist
John Culhane, animation historian, author.
Eileen Dunn, assistant animator
Hani El Masri, Disney concept designer
John Fredericksen, animator
Lois Freeman, ink & paint artist
Stan Freberg, legendary voice actor
Antonio Gaio, the father of Portuguese animation
Ira Blaine Gibson, Disney animator (and WED sculptor)
Jonathan Goley, background artist
Frank Gonzales, animator, inspiration for Speedy Gonzales
Lee Guttman, ink & paint supervisor, Kurtz & Friends
Jeff Hale, animator, director
Rene Joidoin, NFB filmmaker
Gordon Kent, producer, writer
Zoe Leader, Disney Production
Kelvin Lee, animator
Scott Mankey, CG Lighter
Richard Manginsay, director, layout
Takashi Masunaga, designer, director
Jim MacCaulay, animation educator, Sheridan College
Jo Anne Merrill, ink & paint supervisor
Rolando Oliva, background artist
Monty Oum, anime artist
Gary Owens, legendary voice actor, announcer, radio host
Al Pabian, animator
Ray Parker, animation writer
Rocco Pirrone, layout artist
Zora Polensek, ink & paint artist
Phil Robinson, co-founder Wild Brain Studio
Louise Sandoval, Filmation animator
Sam Simon, Producer of the Simpsons
Danilo Taverna, storyboard an6t5d layout
Eve Valsatik, ink & paint artist
Cliff Voorhees, layout artist
Bob Walker, layout, animation director
Nancy Wimble, cel service

If you wouldlike to participate in the remembering, contact TAG, or Tom Sito, or Bronwen Barry.

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Saturday, February 13, 2016

Son of Unpaid Overtime

What most gripes animation employees? As previously stated, tight schedules would be Number One with a bullet.

But not just in television work. Production schedules for animated features have also gotten shorter, and story development is more frenetic. Sequences can have less time from start to finish, do-overs often have cast-iron schedules, and the number of drawings required for ten-minutes of story time are way more than Bill Peet, Vance Gerry or Pete Young ever cranked out. As a Disney staffer remarked some months back:

John wants big changes and lots of times he wants them fast. We might have three or four days to re-work half a sequence, and so you come in over a weekend and work your brains out. ...

And what's some of the major gripes over in Televisionland? ...

One is from board artists. Many don't like putting together animatics in addition to drawing the boards themselves, but since Toom Boom software has that application as part of the program, that's what lots of artists do.

What I tell them is, as long as they're getting paid for the time spent cobbling together a digital story reel, it's all good. Editing animatics normally falls under Editors Guild's jurisdiction, but the Editors don't have some contracts at various studios that TAG represents, and it's up to the EG to police the jurisdiction at companies where its contract is in force. (TAG doesn't police other unions' jurisdictions. We give a "heads up" and the rest is up to them).

Other issues that have recently bubbled up? The New Media Sideletter in the new TAG contract has negatively impacted some artists' and writers' salaries, mostly at DreamWorks Animation TV but occasionally at other studios doing animation over the internet. It's called "Subscription Video On Demand" and we'll likely see more of it before this contract cycle ends in 2018. Anything not delivered on a cable or broadcast network -- product pipelined on Netflix, Amazon and other similar delivery systems -- is "New Media". That means pension and health contributions apply, but contract wage minimums don't. Every employee negotiates her/his own deal. Most people achieve rates at or above current minimums, but some people work at lower wages.

So you know, "New Media" was a BIG point of contention in the 2015 negotiations. TAG argued vociferously that the language negotiated by the live-action entertainment unions -- SAG-AFTRA, the DGA, WGA and IATSE -- weren't a good fit for the Animation Guild because live-action budgets bear only a distant resemblance to animation budgets.

In the end, we ate the Vaseline sandwich because (it turned out) SAG-AFTRA voice actors had eaten the same delicacy before us ... so our leverage wasn't what we would have liked it to be.

Though there's now a lot of work around town, the studios work hard to make sure real pay rates remain as close to the minimums as the market allows, and that work schedules stay demanding. Our fine entertainment conglomerates don't want to pay a nickel more than they have to, and we encourage folks who think they're getting chiseled to contact us.

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Your American Box Office

Rupert's posse is cleaning up with a Marvel super -- does Diz Co get a cut? -- hero and a panda.

WEEKEND BOX OFFICE-- U.S. AND CANADA

1). Deadpool (FOX), 3,558 theaters / $47.5M Fri. /3-day cume: $118.4M-$123M /4-day: $129-$136M/ Wk 1

2). Kung Fu Panda 3 (DWA/FOX), 3,844 theaters (-143) / $3.9M Fri. (-25%)/3-day cume: $20M (-6%)/4-day: $26M/Total cume: $100.3M/ Wk 3

3). How To Be Single (WB/MGM/New Line), 3,394 theaters / $5.2M Fri. /3-day cume: $16M-$17M /4-day: $18M-$20M/ Wk 1

4). Zoolander 2 (PAR), 3,343 theaters / $4.2M Fri. /3-day cume: $13M-14M /4-day: $15M-$16.5M/ Wk 1

5). Hail, Caesar! (UNI), 2,248 theaters (+16) / $1.47M Fri. (-66%) /3-day cume: $6.4M (-43%) /4-day: $7.4M/ Total cume: $22.2M / Wk 2

6). The Revenant (FOX), 2,266 theaters (-752) / $1.3M Fri. (-38%) / 3-day cume: $6.1M (-12%) /4-day: $7M/ Total cume: $159.3M / Wk 8

7). Star Wars: The Force Awakens (DIS), 1,810 theaters (-452) / $1.2M Fri. (-33%) /3-day cume: $6M (-13%)/4-day: $7.5M/ Total cume: $916.1M / Wk 9

8). The Choice (LG), 2,631 theaters (0) / $1.1M Fri. (-54%) /3-day cume: $4.5M (-25%)/4-day:$5.1M/Total cume:$13.1M/ Wk 2

pride and prejudice and zombies9). Ride Along 2 (UNI), 1,564 theaters (-608) / $821K Fri. (-40%) /3-day cume: $4M (-13%) /4-day: $4.6M/ Total cume: $83.1M / Wk 5

10). The Boy (STX), 1,450 theaters (-764) / $630KFri. (-51%)/3-day cume: $2.8M (-31%) /4-day:$3.2M/Total cume: $31.1M/ Wk 4 ...

Meantime, Alvin and the Chipmunks remains in a few hundred theaters and is topping out around $84 million.

The Good Dinosaur, in release since the end of November, is still shown on a handful of screens, but its $120,722,126 domestic gross is pretty close to its final tally. Globally, its earned $305,022,126 and has a few markets (China and Japan) as yet untapped.

The Peanuts Movie did somewhat better than The Good Dinosaur in its U.S. release ($130 million), but like many American-centric animated features, it under-performed overseas. It's global total: $244,155,474.

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Friday, February 12, 2016

Betty!

Not White. But Boob Boop Ba Doop.

[The iconic Betty Boop] is being developed by Normaal Animation, the producer of the Peanuts TV series, in partner with Fleischer Studios and King Features, so it's only bound for greatness.

"We are delighted to be partnering with an innovative production company such as Normaal Animation," said Mark Fleischer, President and CEO of Los Angeles-based Fleischer Studios. "My grandfather, Max Fleischer, created Betty Boop as a fun, feisty and fashionable female – and she has proven to be a character for all time." ...

Normaal is a French animation company. FRENCH. Like based in Paris. They've previously done a newer batch of Peanuts half-hours. I understand since Bill Melendez has moved on, the Schulz family needed to find a new studio, but one in Europe?

So I guess that the new deal is to do American-themed cartoons in the City of Light instead of the U.S. of A. Especially since the French are throwin Free Money around.

Deadline's take on the story is here.

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Marionettes Are So ... Fifty Years Ago

And the characters and stories? Also 1960s. But that's the charm.

Amazon has ordered four 13-episode seasons of “Thunderbirds Are Go” from ITV Studios Global Entertainment, under a pact that includes exclusive U.S. rights. The show features the five Tracy brothers of the International Rescue squad, who go on missions spanning the globe and into outer space. ...

The first 13 episodes of the show are scheduled to debut on Amazon Prime Video in the U.S. later in 2016, followed by the U.K., Germany and Austria. “Thunderbirds Are Go,” produced by ITV Studios and New Zealand-based Pukeko Pictures in collaboration with Weta Workshop, uses a mix of CGI animation and live-action model sets. ...

Amazon, Netflix and their ilk appear to be insatiable absorbers of content, and they have (apparently) the deep pockets to pay for it. The Los Angeles animation industry has been getting a share of it, but the Free Money of New Zealandd, Canada, Britain and Europe offers fierce competition ... as evidenced by Thunderbirds Are Go.

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Thursday, February 11, 2016

Of Unpaid Overtime and Other Contract Infractions


Uncompensated overtime and tight schedules have been issues for Animation Guild members for like ever.

I used to listen to my predecessor Bud Hester complain about them in executive board meetings. When I became biz rep, I encountered these things out in the studios myself.

There was the Warner Bros. production manager who asked layout artists to “help out” after regular hours for free. (This was back in the Bronze Age – 1990). There were Disney TVA board artists who rebelled at cramped schedules a few year later, had a meeting at Guild headquarters and then argued among themselves over what schedule was “good enough”. They never did decide.

There was the over-ambitious production manager at DreamWorks who had a crew of traditional animators working extra hours for free. (Remember pencils? Remember paper? This was waay back.) Somebody tipped me off, I made a late-night visit to the overworked staff and reported my findings to a company attorney. To DWA’s credit, it made all the late-night employees whole … and metaphorically paddled the production manager’s backside. ...

Then, more recently, there was the small sub-contracting studio that worked board artists on weekends ... and pretended not to know about it. Several artists complained to me, we held a meeting at a nearby diner, after which I swooped in on a bright Saturday morning, took names, and got the practice halted.

And several years ago, while walking around one of our fine conglomerate-owned animation studios, a surly board artist dragged me into his office and growled: “You know, the guy on the LEFT side of me is taking home work at night, the guy on the RIGHT side of me is taking work home at night, and neither is billing the studio! They’re making me look bad! Because I won’t do free work!”

I briefly considered offering to break those naughty artists’ drawing hands, then thought better of it. Instead I offered to talk to both story boarders, but the guy said no, believing it to be hopeless.

Which leads me to my point. It’s never hopeless to point people to their better selves (“forty means forty”); never pointless to make companies follow the collective bargaining agreement that they’ve negotiated and signed. Studio Human Resource departments like saying to employees (when it works for them): “You don’t like the on-call provision? Well, this is what YOUR union negotiated!” or “You’re not happy being a daily employee? It’s what your guild agreed to!”

But funny thing. When the same studio is on the far side of double time and/or time and a half, they don’t use the “what your union agreed to” argument so much. Often they pretend the overtime provisions aren’t there. The schedule is the schedule, and that’s it. We’ll look the other way while you stay late or take the work home, and if you hit your delivery dates, maybe we’ll retain you for the next cycle of shows.

When I bring up, in meetings and studio hallways, that members should follow the provisions of the contract, an artist will invariably say to me: “Easy for you to take that position, but we’re worried about getting fired. Or let go at the end of the season. The production people keep telling us ‘The board’s due on Wednesday and there’s no money in the budget for overtime.’”

When I respond that this is a non sequitur, that the show’s budget isn’t the artistic staff’s problem, the usual response is “Yeah, but we’re scared of being laid off.”

So let’s cut to the chase. Over the past year, studios have complained they can’t find qualified board artists; members have said in meetings that even slower storyboarders are being retained because it’s tough to find people. I know departments that refuse to work uncompensated hours and everyone continues to work. Hell, I know individuals that won’t falsify a timecard and they remain gainfully employed.

And those examples of “whistle-blowing” I gave up above? The people who reported contract violations to the guild? Every one of them continued to work. Every. Single. One.

But fear springs eternal, and old habits die hard. If you want to behave like it’s 1886 and there’s no contract in place and you’ll be cashiered at the end of the next shift if you don’t Knuckle Under, nobody can stop you.

But please know that there are alternatives to violating the contract and state law. You can call the Guild (818-845-7500) and explore other options, up to and including filing a grievance. There’s no charge, and you’ll probably gain some new knowledge … and maybe some extra self-respect.

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Exploiting the Franchise

Because what's the point of spending billions purchasing a company and its library and copyrights if you don't?

Disney XD is launching a new series that combines two of pop culture’s hottest properties: “Lego Star Wars: The Freemaker Adventures,” an animated adventure comedy scheduled to debut this summer.

The series, set between “Star Wars: Episode V – The Empire Strikes Back” and “Episode VI – Return of the Jedi,” centers around new characters the Freemakers, a family of scavengers who build and sell starships from the scoured debris of space battles strewn throughout the galaxy. When their youngest discovers a natural connection with the Force through an ancient artifact — the Kyber Saber — his world is turned upside down, and he and his family are thrown into an epic struggle against the Empire ...

Warners proved that there are a lot of eyeballs to be attracted with a good Lego property, and here's a fine chance to do a little cross positioning, product and franchise wise.

The unspoken worry, of course, with all the Star Wars toys and games and action figures and bubble gum cards, not to mention the sequels, prequels and spin-offs rolling down the factory chutes over the next few years, will Diz Co. murder the golden goose in its feathery nest?

I guess we'll have to wait a few years to find out.

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Wednesday, February 10, 2016

A Different Cartoon Company Business Model

There are the big feature animation producers, and then there are smaller entities manuevering outside the box.

... Unlike the other companies in the running for the animated-feature Oscar, GKIDS doesn’t bankroll or produce its own films; instead, it scours the world for worthy animated films, picks them up for the American market and enters them in the Oscar race. The company was founded in 2008 as an offshoot of the New York International Children’s Film Festival, with a specific mission statement. ...

GKIDS has two of the five nominees this year, “Boy and the World” and “When Marnie Was There”; they also notched two of the five last year with “Song of the Sea” and “The Tale of the Princess Kaguya,” and two in 2011 with “A Cat in Paris” and “Chico and Rita.” They’ve also scored nods for 2009’s “The Secret of Kells” and 2013’s “Ernest & Celestine.” ...

The beauty of picking up feature films from elsewhere, rather than developing them from scratch yourself, is that you don't have to staff a development department, or build a production facility, or locate a sub-contractor off in a foreign land that has either A) low wages, B) free money available (a.k.a. tax incentives) or C) both.

All that needs to happen is a screening room and a capacity for looking at a lot of animation product in search of that high-quality needle in a lower-quality haystack. And once that's accomplished, you enter it in the Oscar sweepstake for a jolt of free publicity, followed by a limited release and distribution to secondary markets.

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Sonic Gets Theatrical

A video game pivots to the big screen.

Sega is set to bring their most famous mascot to the silver screen. The video game company has partnered with Sony Pictures to release a film that combines live action with computer animation, set to be released in 2018.

The movie is being produced by Neal Moritz, who is also the producer of the Fast & Furious franchise. It will be written by Evan Susser and Van Robichaux of The Upright Citizens brigade. Sony will be working with Marza Animation Planet, which is a division of the Sega Sammy Group. Sega CEO Hajime Saito told The Worldfolio that this project is part of Sega’s overall plan to expand into other areas of entertainment beyond video games. ...

Sonic's appearing in a hybrid feature. Is this the best use of the small guy? A hybrid production? Some think not:

A hybrid between live-action and CG, which makes it seem like we’re in for Sonic galavanting about with human friends... and the last time that happened we ended up with Sonic kissing a young girl. ...

While there’s not enough alcohol in the world to forget this scene, it’s my journalistic duty to. Dammit Sega and Sony. Please make sure this doesn’t happen again.

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Tuesday, February 09, 2016

DreamWorks Animation Reaches For New Markets

DWA expands parts of its non-feature business.

Lagardère Active, one of France's biggest media groups, has entered a carriage deal with DreamWorks Animation.

The pact gives Lagardère free-to-air and basic pay-tv rights for its family and kids channels to broadcast DreamWorks Animation’s television series, including "Dragons: Race to the Edge," "The Adventures of Puss in Boots," "All Hail King Julien," "Turbo FAST," "The Mr. Peabody & Sherman Show," and "Dawn of the Croods." ...

The deal is the latest example of how DreamWorks, which co-owns with Hearst Corp. the YouTube teen network Awesomeness TV, has been ramping up its television business to lessen its reliance on the performance of movies. ...

DreamWorks Animation has faced the same challenge for some time: It has to expand beyond animated features, because building a business on a string of never-fail blockbusters isn't a viable foundation for a budding entertainment conglomerate.

I used to marvel at DWA's performance with theatrical motion pictures. One hit followed another, but I kept thinking Jeffrey's company was performing a high-wire act that couldn't be sustained. Then under-performers crept into DreamWork's release schedule, and times grew tougher.

So it's good to see the company building a library for the small-screen and selling that library around the globe. Definitely several steps in the right direction.


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Bob Iger Speaks

... on Disney's first quarter earnings report.

... Our Q1 performance was the greatest single quarter in the history of The Walt Disney Company and a phenomenal start to FY '16. Revenue was up 14%, net income was up 32% and adjusted earnings per share were up 28%, to $1.63 which is our highest quarterly EPS ever and is also our 10th consecutive quarter of double digit EPS growth.

We had tremendous performance across our portfolio of businesses. With the incredible success of Star Wars: The Force Awakens, our studio delivered $1 billion in quarterly operating income for the first time in history. Our parks and resorts also made history, with nearly $1 billion in operating income. And our consumer products and Interactive business set another record, with $860 million in Operating Income.

Our results clearly show that our long-term strategic focus and investments in brands and franchises are driving remarkable value in these businesses. ...

Turning to a subject that has gotten a lot of attention lately, ESPN and the status of the bundle. In the last couple of months, we have actually seen an uptick in ESPN subs which is encouraging. We're also pleased with what we're hearing from Dish about the response to Sling TV, a light package that includes ESPN. The service appears to be growing nicely and is proving very attractive to young consumers in particular, significantly over indexing among millennials and has been quite successful in bringing previous cord cutters back to pay TV. ...

Disney's broadcast and cable networks have been a drag on the Mouse's growth, expanding 8% while the rest of the company has grown at a 23% clip. Mr. Iger points out that the growth rate since '09 has been 14%, so clearly something has been going right since he took the helm.

Turning the House of Mouse into Berkshire-Hathaway has been good for Disney shareholders, even if lover of the core Disney don't like it very much.

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Viacom Headed South

Sumner Redstone's conglomerate has been getting knocked around just a bit.

Viacom shares are off after a dearth of Paramount hits and weaker ad sales hit the top line and revenues missed expectations.

Revenue by segment: Media Networks, $2.57B (down 3%); Filmed Entertainment, $612M (down 15%). Excluding negative impact from foreign exchange: Media Networks down 2%, Filmed Entertainment down 12%.

Filmed Entertainment also operated at a loss of $146M vs. a year-ago operating loss of $60M. Media Networks, meanwhile, showed an operating profit of $1.06B, down 4% year over year. Ratings hit the TV operations: Despite an increase in ad pricing, ad revenues dropped 4% domestically and international ad revenues fell 2%...

So Viacom the struggling conglomerate is in a sea of hurt. Even so, the company is sinking money into animation, building a new five-story building in Burbank, and digging in for the long haul.

It's true that Nick has lost its pole position in the animation sector, but it isn't crawling into a corner and curling up in defeat. It sees animation has a growth area, and given the resources its pouring into animation (and not just television animation; Viacom has a theatrical feature division housed on its Hollywood lot) it plans to use TV and theatrical cartoons as a profit driver going forward.

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The Animation Guild Golden Award Interview #10 -- Larry Silverman

The tenth chat in this series of chats conducted by Harvey Deneroff, this one with animation veteran Larry Silverman.



Larry started in the business in 1926 on silent cartoons, and was still in the business in the 1980s, animating no television cartoons. Mr. Silverman thinks his most memorable work was done at Harmon-Ising, where he animated on a variety of shorts, including this one, The Gypsy in Me from 1933. Like many cartoons from the era, this one spoofs a live-action feature, this one being Rasputin and the Empress.


One of the lead animators on "The Gypsy In Me" was Friz Freleng. Concentrate on the animation and ignore the soundtrack, which has nothing to do with the images.

Larry Silverman worked in the animation industries on both the east and west coasts, but he relocated to California as the New York cartoon business started to sag, and worked at some of the major animation studios of the time, including Hanna-Barbera and Filmation. Larry retired from the business in 1982, and passed away in 1995, a month shy of his 87th birthday.


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Monday, February 08, 2016

The Animation Guild Golden Award Interview #9 -- Jack Ozark

From long ago (1984) but not particularly far away (Toluca Lake -- at the long-gone Sorrentino's Restaurant on Riverside Drive).

Harvey Deneroff interviews animator Jack Ozark:



Jack Ozark started in the cartoon business at Fleischer in March of 1932. Working his way up to animator, he moved with the company to Miami in the late thirties and worked on Gulliver's Travels, Mr. Bug Goes to Town and the early Superman shorts before his country called him for military service in the dust-up known as World War II.

After the war, Jack spent several years at Famous Studios (the Fleischer studios corporate successor) and then years on the west coast which included work at UPA, Disney, Bakshi and two decades at Filmation. Mr. Ozark passed away on November 16, 2000 at the age of 86.


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Another Player in the Animated Feature Division

Cinesite makes its move:

Visual effects and animation studio Cinesite has launched its animated production division Cinesite Animation, and unveiled a slate of nine animated feature films that will go into production over the next five years in Montreal, with backing from the Quebec government. The first project will be “Klaus,” written and directed by Sergio Pablos, co-creator of “Despicable Me.”

Investissement Quebec, acting on behalf of the Quebec government, is advancing a loan of C$2.4 million ($1.72 million) to Cinesite Animation to help set up the production infrastructure in Montreal. An additional loan guarantee of C$19.6 million ($14.1 million) toward an overall budget of at least C$90 million ($64.6 million) is being advanced to the production company to help with financing each of the first three animated films.

Six more films are planned to follow, which will see the facility at full capacity with more than 500 new permanent jobs by 2020. ...

If the company is budgeting these pics at $65 million apiece, then they'll be spending some serious money because the province will be subsidizing the production costs, above and beyond loan guarantees.

The question, of course, is can Mr. Pablos deliver a commercial picture in the same manner he helped birth the Despicable Me series and its spinoffs, which have made mountains of money for Comcast/Universal. One thing is pretty clear: some large effects houses see animated features as a growth area, and are happy to jump into the sector with both feet.

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Daniel Gerson, RIP

Writer Daniel Gerson, with credits on multiple Disney and Pixar features, has passed:

Daniel Gerson, a screenwriter on Monsters, Inc. and prequel Monsters University, died Saturday. His family announced Gerson died at his home in Los Angeles after battling brain cancer. He was 49. ...

Mr. Gerson is survived by his wife of 20 years, Beau Stacom; his children Claire and Asher; his parents Mary-Joan and Charles; and his sister Jessica and her children Daisy and Henry. Our condolences

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Sunday, February 07, 2016

World Box Office

Foreign markets hum with animated product.

WEEKEND FOREIGN BOX OFFICE -- (WORLD TOTALS)

Kung Fu Panda 3 -- $23,000,000 -- ($198,050,957)

Star Wars 7 -- $7,000,000 -- ($2,008,361,000)

Alvin and the Chipmunks -- $12,800,000 -- ($171,374,931)

The Peanuts Movie -- $1,060,000 -- ($244,595,024) ...

And as a fine entertainment journal informs us:

... Star Wars: The Force Awakens passed the $2B worldwide mark on Saturday, its 53rd day of release. The global total is now $2,008.361M. ...

Kung Fu Panda 3 kicked up a further $23M in this sophomore frame. The DreamWorks Animation/DreamWorks Oriental co-production added $15.4M in China where the total is now $101.65M for a 2nd No. 1 in a row. ...

[Alvin and the CHipmunks grossed] another $12.85M from 8,274 screens in 54 markets, Fox’s animated threequel has grossed $87.8M to date offshore. ...

The Peanuts Movie mustered up $1.06M from 1,968 screens in 20 markets total. The UK gross on the Fox title is now $14.6M after seven weeks with an overseas cume of $114.7M. ...

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The New Trailer of the New Remake

They haven't overlooked the storypoints of the '67 original.



If you can't mine the library for new gold, what's the point of having a library?

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Saturday, February 06, 2016

THE ANNIES

And the envelope, please ... And the trophies go to:

ANNIE WINNERS

Best Animated Feature
Inside Out
Pixar/Disney

Directing in an Animated Feature Production
Inside Out
Pixar Animation Studios
Director: Pete Docter

Directing in an Animated Television/Broadcast Production
Gravity Falls
Episode: “Northwest Mansion Mystery”
Disney Television Animation
Director: Matt Braly

Best Animated Feature – Independent
Boy and the World
Filme de Papel

Best General Audience Animated Television/Broadcast Production
The Simpsons
Episode: “Halloween of Horror”

Best Animated Television/Broadcast Production For Children
Wander Over Yonder
Episode: “The Breakfast”
Disney Television Animation

Best Animated Television/Broadcast Production For Preschool Children
Tumble Leaf
Episode: “Mirror”
Amazon Studios and Bix Pix Entertainment

Writing in an Animated Feature Production
Inside Out
Pixar Animation Studios
Writer: Pete Docter
Writer: Meg LeFauve
Writer: Josh Cooley

Writing in an Animated Television/Broadcast Production
Bob’s Burgers
Episode: “The Hauntening”
Twentieth Century Fox Television/Bento Box Entertainment
Writer: Steven Davis
Writer: Kelvin Yu

Voice Acting in an Animated Feature Production
Inside Out
Pixar Animation Studios
Cast: Phyllis Smith
Character: Sadness

Voice Acting in an Animated Television/Broadcast Production
Bob’s Burgers
Episode: “Hawk & Chick”
Twentieth Century Fox Television/Bento Box Entertainment
Starring: Kristen Schaal
Character: Louise Belcher

Best Animated Television/Broadcast Commercial
Man and Dog
Psyop ...


Best Animated Special Production
He Named Me Malala
Parkes-MacDonald / Little Door

Production Design in an Animated Feature Production
Inside Out
Pixar Animation Studios
Production Design: Ralph Eggleston

Production Design in an Animated Television/Broadcast Production
The Mr. Peabody and Sherman Show
Episode: “Peabody’s Parents/Galileo”
DreamWorks Animation Televsion
Production Design: Kevin Dart
Production Design: Sylvia Liu
Production Design: Chris Turnham
Production Design: Eastwood Wong

Character Animation in an Animated Feature Production
Inside Out
Pixar Animation Studios
Animator: Allison Rutland
Character: All Characters

Character Animation in an Animated Television/Broadcast Production
Dragons: Race to the Edge
Episode: “Have Dragon Will Travel, Part 1”
DreamWorks Animation Television
Character Animator: Chi-Ho Chan
Character: Heather, Windshear, Dagur, Savage, Hiccup, Toothless, Berserkers

Character Animation in a Live Action Production
The Revenant – Judy
Regency Enterprises, New Regency Pictures, Anonymous Content, M Productions, Appian Way, RatPac-Dune Entertainment
Animation Supervisor: Matthew Shumway
Lead Digital Artist: Adrian Millington
Digital Artist: Blaine Toderian
Digital Artist: Alexander Poei
Digital Artist: Kevin Lan

Character Animation in a Video Game
Evolve
2K Games
Character Animator: David Gibson
Character: Daisy, Goliath, Kraken

Final Winsor recipient is Joe Ranft, the Pixar original who died in 2005. He was head of story on Pixar’s first two films, Toy Story and A Bug’s Life and also worked on Monsters Inc. and Cars. He also worked on such pics as Who Framed Roger Rabbit, The Lion King and Beauty and the Beast.

Next Winsor recipient to Phil Roman, the six-time Emmy winner whose credits include The Simpsons, King of the Hill, Garfield & Friends, The Critic, How the Grinch Stole Christmas! and the Peanuts holiday specials.

First Winsor McCay Award of the night to Isao Takahata, the Japanese filmmaker behind such films as Grave of the Fireflies, The Tale of the Princess Kaguya — an Oscar nominee — and Only Yesterday.

Best Animated Short Subject
World of Tomorrow
Don Hertzfeldt

Animated Effects in an Animated Production
The Good Dinosaur
Pixar Animation Studios
Effects Supervisor: Jon Reisch
Effects Lead: Stephen Marshall
Volumetric Clouds Architect: Magnus Wrenninge
Development & Effects Artist: Michael Hall
Effects Technical Lead: Michael K. O’Brien

Animated Effects in a Live Action Production
Marvel’s Avengers: Age of Ultron – Sokovia Destruction
Marvel Studios
Creature Sim Supervisor: Michael Balog|
Creature Simulation Lead: Jim Van Allen
Effects Simulation Supervisor: Florent Andorra
Effects Lead: George Kaltenbrunner

Music in an Animated Feature Production
Inside Out
Pixar Animation Studios
Composer: Michael Giacchino

Music in an Animated Television/ Broadcast Production
Disney Mickey Mouse
Episode: “¡Feliz Cumpleaños!”
Disney Television Animation
Composer: Christopher Willis

Character Design in an Animated Television/Broadcast Production
Elf: Buddy’s Musical Christmas
Episode: “Elf: Buddy’s Musical Christmas”
Screen Novelties/Warner Bros Animation
Character Designer: Craig Kellman
Character: Buddy, Jovie, Walter Hobbs, Michael Hobbs, Mr. Greenway, Chadwick & Matthews, Santa Claus, Background Characters

Character Design in an Animated Feature Production
Inside Out
Pixar Animation Studios
Character Art Director: Albert Lozano
Character: All Characters
Character Artist: Chris Sasaki
Character: All Characters

Don Hahn receives the June Foray Award, named for the founder of the Annie Awards. Among a long line of credits, he worked as an Associate Producer on Who Framed Roger Rabbit, was a producer on The Lion King and Beauty and the Beast (which was the first animated pic to be nominated for Best Picture at the Oscars) and most recently was an EP on Disney’s Maleficent.

Editorial in an Animated Feature Production
Inside Out
Pixar Animation Studios
Nominee: Kevin Nolting

Editorial in an Animated Television/Broadcast Production
Disney Mickey Mouse
Episode: “Coned”
Disney Television Animation
Nominee: Illya Owens

Storyboarding in an Animated Feature Production
Inside Out
Pixar Animation Studios
Storyboard Artist: Tony Rosenast

Storyboarding in an Animated Television/Broadcast Production
Disney Mickey Mouse
Episode: “¡Feliz Cumpleaños!”
Disney Television Animation
Storyboard Artist: Alonso Ramirez Ramos

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Weekend Ticket Taking

The weekend will be under-powered due to Super Bowl goggling. But the panda is slated for another weekend at the top of the domestic box office.

WEEKEND DOMESTIC BOX OFFICE

1). Kung Fu Panda 3 (DWA/FOX), 3,987 theaters (+32) / $5.22M Fri. (-49%)/3-day cume: $21.1M (-49%)/Total cume: $69.2M/ Wk 2

2). Hail, Caesar! (UNI), 2,232 theaters / $4.3M Fri. /3-day cume: $11.1M / Wk 1

3). The Revenant (FOX), 3,018 theaters (-312) / $2.08M Fri. (-36%) / 3-day cume: $6.9M (-46%) / Total cume: $149.5M / Wk 7

4). Star Wars: The Force Awakens (DIS), 2,262 theaters (-294) / $1.86M Fri. (-26%) /3-day cume: $6.6M (-41%)/ Total cume: $905.6M / Wk 8

5). The Choice (LG), 2,631 theaters / $2.56M Fri. /3-day cume: $5.7M / Wk 1

6). Pride and Prejudice and Zombies (SONY), 2,931 theaters / $2M Fri. /3-day cume: $5.2M / Wk 1

7). The Finest Hours (DIS), 3,143 theaters / $1.5M Fri. (-54%) /3-day cume: $4.57M (-56%) / Total cume: $18.2M / Wk 2

8). Ride Along 2 (UNI), 2,172 theaters (-240) / $1.36M Fri. (-40%) /3-day cume: $4.36M (-48%) / Total cume: $77M / Wk 4

9). Dirty Grandpa (LGF), 2,567 theaters (-345)/ $1.32M Fri. (-40%)/3-day cume: $3.9M (-49%)/Total cume: $29.3M /Wk 3

10). The Boy (STX), 2,214 theaters (-457) / $1.29MFri. (-44%)/3-day cume: $3.8M (-50%) /Total cume: $26.6M/ Wk 3 ...

Meantime, The Peanuts Movie has earned a total of $129,918,514 during its domestic run, which is 53.6% of its world total of $242,468,139. Ordinarily, animated features make a majority of their money abroad, but American-themed movies don't perform as well overseas.

And The Good Dinosar has done about as well as Peanuts domestically, with $120,483,303, 40.9% of its $294,253,303 worldwide take. Of course, Dinosaur cost double what Peanuts did to produce.

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Friday, February 05, 2016

Phil Speaks

Phil Roman, once again active in the company that he founded, tells how he learned to draw.

... When Phil Roman was learning to draw in the 1940s, he took a correspondence course from an art school in Minneapolis. His homework would come back with his teacher’s signature — “Sparky” — scrawled on the bottom. That teacher was Charles M. Schulz. “I still have letters from him,” says Roman, 85. “I learned the basics from him.”

Roman — who will receive the International Animated Film Society’s Winsor McCay Award for his lifetime contribution to animation — spent his early years working on such films as Sleeping Beauty and such TV specials as How the Grinch Stole Christmas. Then, in the 1970s, he helped his old teacher bring Peanuts to television, growing from animator to director. ...

Phil worked at the Bill Melendez studio for a bunch of years, first as an animator, then a director. He was the director of the first Garfield special, created at the Melendez shop, but Mr. Schulz wanted Melendez to focus on Peanuts, so Phil Roman took the Garfield franchise over the Hollywood hills to Toluca Lake, where Film Roman was born.

And now you know a bit more of the Phil Roman story.

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Another Cartoon Show

The last few years have seen a steady increase in television animation production (no surprise there if you follow reports). Now there is yet one more new player leaping into the widening pool.

Randi Zuckerberg is getting into the animation business.

The Zuckerberg Media founder and CEO has partnered with NBC/Universal Cable Entertainment's 24-hour preschool network Sprout to bring her children's book Dot. to TV as an animated series.

The show is a production of Industrial Brothers in association with The Jim Henson Co. and the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation; Zuckerberg will executive produce alongside Lisa Henson, CEO of The Jim Henson Co., and Halle Stanford, executive vp children's entertainment.

This marks Zuckerberg's first time as an EP on an animated series and second time as an EP on a TV show, following her 2012 Bravo reality series Start-Ups: Silicon Valley. ...

Last summer we listed a lot of the shows now in work around Los Angeles. It looks as though this show will be produced in Toronto by The Industrial Brothers, in collaboration with the Jim Henson Co. headquartered at the Chaplin Studios on La Brea.

Whether there will be any production work done at Henson, we know not. Hazarding a guess, most everything will be done in the Land of Free Money, but perhaps some writing or storyboard will take place in Southern California.

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Thursday, February 04, 2016

WIA

Variety reports.

... According to figures compiled last year by the Animation Guild for Women In Animation’s presentation at Annecy, only 20% of the animation workforce is made up of women. Broken down further, the survey found that 10% of animation producers-directors, 17% of writers, 21% of designers and 23% of animators are women.

“The first thing we’re asked when we share these startling statistics is ‘How does this happen? Why does this happen?’ And the next question is ‘How do we change it?’ ” says WIA co-president Marge Dean. “The answer is very complicated. There are things that go on systemically and in the general culture of male dominance in the industry. Then there’s internal issues with women themselves.” ...

Jennifer Yuh Nelson, director of DreamWorks Animation’s “Kung Fu Panda 2” and co-director of “Kung Fu Panda 3,” is one of the few female animation directors in the industry today. Her advice to women looking to make their own mark in the business is to persevere. “There are so many ways of doing a job. Doing this role is not a stereotype,” she says. “They can do whatever makes them comfortable as long as they love what their doing and they keep at it.” ...

Earlier this year, Guild analyses showed that 21% of TAG's working members were female. (Here's a breakdown from last April.)

More and more, college animation departments have classes that are predominantly female. Such being the case, it's only a matter of time before women will be working on an equal footing with men in the cartoon biz.

And after that, a more than equal footing.

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TAG 401(k) Plan Info

The TAG Roth 401(k) has now become operative at most studios. (Disney comes aboard in a few months.) If you were wondering "What's a Roth 401(k)?" and "Should I do this new thing?" Here's some information bits to consider:

When Guild members join The Animation Guild 401(k) Plan, can choose to make traditional "pre-tax" contributions, Roth 401(k) after-tax contributions, or a combination of the two. Each offers a valuable tax advantage:

• Pre-tax contributions lower a participant's taxable income, so she or he avoids taxes today. But participants don’t avoid taxes forever. When anyone makes a withdrawal, they'll owe ordinary income taxes on contributions and any earnings. (The assumption is: taxes will be lower in retirement than during a participant's peak earning yours.)

• Roth 401(k) contributions don’t lower a participant's taxable income, so she or he pay taxes today. But they can make tax-free withdrawals of both contributions and any earnings provided they're at least age 59 1⁄2 and made the first Roth contributions at least five years earlier.

Understand that Roth 401(k) contributions are different from Roth IRA contributions. Roth 401(k) contributions are made within a company-sponsored plan. In contrast, Roth IRA contributions are made to an individual account outside of a 401(k) plan. The good news is that individuals may be able to do both.

The maximum amount that can be contributed in 2016 -- Roth, Traditional 401(k), or a combination of both -- is $18,000 ... or $24,000 for individuals fifty or more years of age.

401(k) Plan Trustees met last Monday. Right now there are 2600 participants, with an average account of $90,000. There are currently $232 million in assets in TAG's 401(k) Plan.

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Casting

Disney cartoon show gets a new voice actor.

Pop music parodist “Weird Al” Yankovic has been tapped to voice the title role in Disney XD’s animated comedy series Milo Murphy’s Law (fka Mike Murphy’s Law), slated to premiere this fall. The voice cast also includes Christian Slater, Vanessa Williams, Sarah Chalke, Jemaine Clement, Sabrina Carpenter, Mekai Curtis, Chrissie Fit and Vincent Martella.

Disney XD 2015 logoFrom Phineas And Ferb creators/executive producers Dan Povenmire and Jeff “Swampy” Marsh, Milo Murphy’s Law introduces Milo, the fictional great-great-great-great grandson of the Murphy’s Law namesake and the personification of Murphy’s Law, which states anything that can go wrong will go wrong. Suffering from Extreme Hereditary Murphy’s Law condition (EHML), Milo always looks to make the best of the cards he’s been dealt and his endless optimism and enthusiasm can turn any catastrophe into a wild adventure. ...

MML's staff is creating the show on Brand Boulevard in Glendale. Disney Television Animation has production space on Sonora Avenue in Glendale, near the Bob Hope Airport in Burbank, and now on Brand Boulevard. The division continues to grow and add shows, which is a good thing for artists working in and around L.A.

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Wednesday, February 03, 2016

Al Jean Speaks

And explains why the Yellow Family broke through, and why it continues.

Q: Is it fair to say that The Simpsons would be directly responsible for the huge amount of animation we have now?

AJ: I believe honestly that if we had never come around that South Park or something would have broken through, because for people of my generation animation is something that adults would watch as well as children, but there is no doubt we accelerated the process and we were very lucky to be at the big bang. It’s a funny thing because the same year we started the series, The Little Mermaid came out and there was a similar renaissance in movies and the two have gone on simultaneously.

Q: So it was a generation that was particularly receptive to animation?

AJ: My theory is when I was a kid in the 60s, there was a lot of animation you could see on television, either old features like Bugs Bunny which were now on TV or shows like Rocky and Bullwinkle – and I loved shows like that, as did Matt Groening and other people. I think by 1990, that audience had grown to where it was really ripe for something in primetime. ...

Q: Are you’re looking at a nice even 30 seasons?

There’s no guarantee that will be the last, we have the cast guaranteed till that point, but I was happy when we got to five, I never know any more. ...

My bet is the show will last thirty years, and maybe a bit beyond.

But consider: The Simpsons started its life at Klasky-Csupo, which is pretty much a shell of its former self. The show next moved on to Film Roman, now also past its glory years.

As of the first week in January, The Yellow Family departed FR, although its still in the same building on Hollywood Way. But that will shortly change, when it moves to a newer, fancier home in a different part of Burbank, becoming the third series currently under the Fox Animation banner.

Three different studios over three decades, only with many of the same crew members. There are a few shows that have The Simpsons's longevity (Scooby Doo comes to mind), but none that can claim the same people working on the production from first to last.

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Saving Viacom

Now mitt der Add Ons.

Sumner Redstone bows (grudgingly) to Father Time:

Ailing Sumner Redstone, 92, has stepped down as CBS’ executive chairman, becoming Chairman Emeritus. He either has — or soon will — do the same at Viacom, where he’s also executive chairman. ...

CBS and Viacom shareholders have questioned whether Redstone is still able to fulfill his duties as chairman of the companies, entitling him to a salary. Last month, Viacom announced Redstone’s compensation package for 2015 was slashed by 85% to $2 million from $13.2 million. ...

This story mutated into a comic opera some time ago.

Mr. Redstone has been speaking in tongues for at least a year, and perhaps longer. And investors are ... ahm ... disenchanted with paying the man $13.2 million a year to sit in a wheelchair and goggle at old Playboy magazines.

Several Viacom divisions have been struggling. Nickelodeon Cartoon Studio was knocked off its high seat several years ago when the Disney Channel overtook it in the ratings, and the cable channel stopped being #1. It hasn't yet found its way out of the wilderness.

... Wall Street has lost some enthusiasm for [Viacom] shares lately as many wonder about television’s ability to compete with digital media. CBS has lost about 15% of its value in the last 12 months while the S&P dropped 5.2%. ...

Whether Sumner Redstone's demotion changes the conglomerate's fortunes remains an open question.

Add On: From a financial journal:

CBS and Viacom shares are up on hope of a sale. The problem is, who would bid? Competitors might, but that's unlikely.

The most likely buyers are Internet and infrastructure companies.

And good luck with that. Les Moonves is the Viacom exec in ascension, but he's been in charge of CBS, a broadcast network that is taking hits along with every other broadcast network as the millenials de-couple from their parents' method of watching the teevee, and opt to goggle at their smart phones when they're sucking up entertainment.

Add On Too: And we learn the other shoe has now clunked to the floor:

As with CBS yesterday, Sumner Redstone will leave his post as executive chairman at Viacom and become chairman emeritus.

Viacom announced the move after a morning board meeting.CEO Philippe Dauman will succeed Redstone as executive chairman, though the decision wasn't unanimous: Shari Redstone, Sumner's daughter, didn't vote in favor.Yesterday, CBS said Redstone had resigned his post there and was replaced as executive chairman by chief Les Moonves. Shari had been entitled under the Redstone family trust to become chairman of both CBS and Viacom after Sumner's departure of those posts, but a deal enabled Moonves to chair CBS instead; she had no similar deal with Dauman.As with CBS, Shari was offered a spot as non-executive chairman at Viacom but declined that post. ...

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Tuesday, February 02, 2016

Ramping Up For "Snow White"

Walter D. talks about talks about how Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs developed:



In point of fact, Show wasn't the first stab at a feature. The studio fiddled around with a hybrid feature based on Alice in Wonderland, with Mary Pickford playing Alice. There were color tests done but that's as far, apparently, as the movie went. (At the time, United Artists was releasing Disney shorts, and Pickfor was one of the owners of UA.)

Snow White had an intense schedule. When Disney says all departments were working on the film, he means it. Hours were long and the work unremitting. rtists worked uncompensated overtime (imagine that!) ... and management made promises about profit-sharing ... which evaporated after the picture was completed and released.

The residual unhappiness over the long hours on Disney's first feature with no reward at the end was one of the things that fueled the Disney strike in 1941. Walt might have nursed grudges, but so did his staff.

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The Envelope, Please

The Visual Effects Society handed out trophies tonight.

'Star Wars' wins four awards and 'The Revenant' (and the bear) win three during the Visual Effects Society Awards on Tuesday night. ...

The Good Dinosaur won the most awards in the animated feature competition, with three awards including for outstanding VFX in an animated feature. ...

Must have been all those breathtaking landscapes. ...

We are, after all, at the front end of awards season, with a heap of ceremonies yet to go. There all kinds of glittering objects on metal pedestals waiting to be thrust into eager hands.

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Staffing Up

Original Force, a growing studio in Culver City, does some hiring.

... Jim Gaffigan and comedy legend Carl Reiner have joined the voice cast of Original Force Animation’s first animated feature “Duck Duck Goose,” while Mark Isham has come on to compose the score, it was announced Tuesday by the company’s co-presidents Sandra Rabins and Penney Finkelman Cox. ...

“Duck Duck Goose” is the first of three feature animated films currently in production at Original Force Animation, one of China’s most prominent digital animation studios. The company opened a Los Angeles-based production and development office in 2015, led by Finkelman Cox and Rabins. ... The company has nearly 1,000 employees across its Los Angeles, Beijing, Nanjing, Shanghai and Chengdu offices. Chinese digital-entertainment giant Tencent is a strategic investor in Original Force and together, they’re developing a movie based on the game “QQ Speed.”

There are a number of Chinese animation companies, both larger and smaller, dropping anchors in the artist talent pools of Southern California.

Imagi, the Hong Kong-based animation studio, had a sizable presence in Sherman Oaks that lasted until the Great Recession of 2008-2009. Original Force appears to be ramping up production in its Los Angeles area studio. Besides voice actors and composers for its first production, we understand that it will continue to hire development artists.

As we hear more, we will pass same along.


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Monday, February 01, 2016

The Animation Guild Golden Award Interview #8 -- Jack Kinney

Disney veteran Jack Kinney spends a few minutes with Harvey Deneroff.



Jack Kinney went to work at Walt Disney Productions in 1930, and departed twenty-eight years later in 1957. In-between he directed features and shorts, although he claimed always to enjoy Disney short-form projects better, most likely because he wasn't micr-managed by Walt.

Disney veteran Vance Gerry remembered Mr. Kinney this way:

"I was new to Disney, working in the layout department. And I remember walking by Jack's unit and peering in the doorway. All I could see were different feet up on the director's desk and hearing the guys in there laughing and laughing. I didn't know what they were laughing at, but I remember that laughter.

And then a few months later the feet, people and laughter were all gone. Walt closed down the shorts unit."

Jack Kinney went on to direct Popeye cartoons for television and Mr. Magoo's first feature, 1001 Arabian Nights. Mr. Kinney died in the early 1990s at the age of age eighty-two, in Glendale California.

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Female Leaders of Animation

Cartoon Scoop interviews Jennifer Yuh Nelson (director), Melissa Cobb (producer), and Clare Knight (editor), three of the women who were key to Kung Fu Panda 3's current success.

Jennifer Yuh Nelson: ... We did two films, because the first two films were so embraced by the Chinese audiences we wanted to make something we could push further and since this is a co-production, it seemed like the perfect time to create something that felt native to Chinese audiences. Usually they have to deal with a dubbing situation or subtitles, and it takes you out of the experience. That’s why we wanted to make something that felt really immersive for them, but it takes a lot of work to make 2 versions of a movie! You have hundreds of artists you’re dealing with across the world and the scale of this movie was insane—we had a parallel pipeline going on where you had two versions recording Mandarin voice actors, getting it to be funny for Mandarin audiences going beyond a straight translation, and then animating it and lighting it, it’s a lot of work.

LC: What kinds of differences are there in the two stories?

JYN: The visual differences for example included of course adjusting the facial acting, if they ad-libbed something we’d have to account for that. ...

LC: The 3D in this film and in the whole franchise has such a unique and believable quality but it’s very otherworldly. Both the computer animation and the 3D stereoscopic vision.

JYN: One of my favorite things about the film is the look of it. We never go for realism. I think a lot of time when people go for 3D that’s the mistake. Because we’re never going for full realism—for computer generated live action films like Avatar the goal is realism, to make the audience feel like they are seeing something that is real. Lord of the Rings had character design and environments to make it look real, whereas we aren’t going for that, we are going for something that is theatrically, viscerally, and emotionally real. That’s why the colors pop, you have hard edges, you have graphic shapes, even the explosions and bits of dust that are kicked up have an art directed shape to them that fit the look of the film. That’s actually really hard to do, but it creates a cohesive and very real world of its own. ...

JYN: Never once in my 18 years here has anyone said “you can do this because you’re a woman” or “you can’t do this because you are a woman”. It’s never even come up. ...

Clare Knight: What I find at DreamWorks is it’s always about strengths and what people are good at. But with Jenn and Melissa and I, three women working on one film, I’ve really enjoyed it because we’ve worked enough together that we’ve developed out own language. ...

Jennifer Yuh Nelson's earlier TAG podcast is here and here.

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