In the News


Joseph Wallace Creates Beautiful Stop-Motion Video for Sparks

2017-08-31 21:38:16 ccwire-staff

BAFTA-nominated animation director Joseph Wallace has created a cinematic new stop-motion music video for the legendary American pop band Sparks. “Edith Piaf (Said It Better Than Me)” is the latest single to be released from the band’s new album Hippopotamus, out September 8th on BMG.

The video, which features the band (Californian brothers Ron and Russell Mael) immortalized in puppet form, was made in only six weeks at prodco Cardel Entertainment and is brought to life with Wallace’s recognizable blend of wiry puppets, cardboard sets and painted backgrounds. Pairing his visually arresting animation with Sparks’ musically uplifting, yet lyrically melancholic track, Wallace has created a stunning Parisian world in which Ron and Russell find themselves in pursuit of something beyond their grasp.

Read the full story at AWN.

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Katana 3.0 to ship with ground-breaking rendering tool 3Delight

2017-07-31 12:37:52 ccwire-staff

The collaboration is underpinned by Katana’s track record of solving the industry’s toughest look development and lighting problems. The exciting collaboration between Foundry and Illumination Research Pte Ltd will continue to drive efficiencies and help artists to deliver better, faster and more cost-effective animation and VFX work through improved workflows and technology.

3Delight is powered by NSI – which is both nodal and hierarchical – allowing for fully interactive live rendering. 3Delight promises to refine look development and lighting tasks to enhance the artist experience. Unique workflows like the plug-in’s light mixer technology allows artists to render final quality images and adjust lighting interactively, while the edits are fed back directly to lights or groups of lights in Katana’s GafferThree lighting tools. The fully OSL-based shading engine is compatible with both Katana and Maya, allowing for the direct transfer of look development files between the DCC apps. The geometry based lighting frees an artist to execute compelling lighting with straightforward real world techniques.

Key benefits include:

  • Fast, physically based rendering technology with open shading language (OSL) at its core
  • Fully interactive live rendering and a real-time light mixer especially well-suited for Katana’s workflow
  • Material nodes that are 100% compatible with the Maya version
  • Ability to use fur/hair and displacements extensively with negligible impact on performance
  • Better quality rendering with perfectly smooth subdivision surfaces
  • Network caching for efficient network utilization by automatic scene dependency localization

Jordan Thistlewood, senior product manager for look development and lighting at Foundry, commented: “We are very excited to offer Katana 3.0 with 3Delight as an out-of-the-box rendering solution. This provides new users with a “download and explore” experience and our existing users with a very powerful option for their pipelines. Multiverse, 3Delight and Katana combine to offer a complete Maya and Katana pipeline solution. Working with the 3Delight team has been great and we are really impressed how far they have stretched the interactive look development, lighting and rendering experience in Katana.”

Aghiles Kheffache, chief technical officer for Illumination Research Pte Ltd, commented: “After two years of development of the NSI architecture, we are excited to bring 3Delight to Katana built entirely on that new state of the art interface/technology. It makes the entire process of scene editing and manipulation fun and efficient, thanks to across the board live rendering.”

John Carey, vice president of production and technology at Toonbox Entertainment, commented: “All of Toonbox Entertainment’s projects have been rendered with 3Delight and we have used both proprietary and third party tools for look development and lighting, but developments at the Foundry, including the high level of integration between Katana and 3Delight have enabled us to bring to bear a whole new level of flexibility and power which we hope to leverage on all of our future projects. This will enable us to do better work faster while consuming fewer resources. Yes, it is faster, better AND cheaper and that is a pretty compelling combination.

3Delight will be available as a free plug-in for Katana 3.0, at no additional cost for new or existing users for interactive renders. Katana 3.0 with 3Delight will be showcased at SIGGRAPH 2017 as part of a public beta. Combined Katana/3Delight render licenses for production rendering will be available for purchase, with pricing to be announced at a later date.

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Alchemy Post Sound Steps Up Its Game with “Welcome to the Wayne”

2017-07-26 17:12:04 artisanspr

Westchester, New York— The animated series Welcome to the Wayne recently debuted on Nickelodeon, becoming the network’s first original series to move from digital to broadcast, having originally launched in 2014 as a series of shorts on Nick App and Created by Billy Lopez, the show centers on two 10-year-old boys living in a Manhattan high-rise, dubbed The Wayne, where they are involved in all manner of wild adventures.

The show’s sound team, led by supervising sound editor Bobb Barito, re-recording mixer Matt Longoria and the Foley team from Alchemy Post Sound, have a lot to do with bringing the fantastically crazy world inhabited by the boys to life. They are charged with coming up with a cornucopia of sounds to support the show’s loopy characters, eccentric environments and oddball gadgets. Considerable care is given to each detail of the soundscape, right down to the idiosyncratic footsteps made by the principal characters.

“The show has so many colors and there’s so much going on in each episode that it’s hard to sum up as just one thing,” says Barito. “We have monsters, gadgets, machines…it’s everything from big, cinematic action scenes to slapstick humor. We mesh it all together into a coherent sound design that helps tell and elevate the story.”

Even for an animated series, Welcome to the Wayne features an unusual number of custom sound effects. Barito says that he particularly enjoys inventing sounds for the makeshift tools and devices that are a signature element of the show. “The kids are involved in solving mysteries and they use gadgets that are all toy-based,” Barito explains. “One character has this funny grappling hook. We didn’t want it to sound too heavy or high tech, so we used comical ratchet sounds. Another character, Saraline, has a device called Snatch Adams that grabs objects using a pair of retractable claws. We used actual toy sounds for that.”

Sound is also used to subtly evoke the show’s New York City location. “The producers really wanted you to feel like you’re in a high-rise in the middle of Manhattan,” Barito notes. “In the Wayne, there’s this portal; people get sucked in and sent someplace new. We used New York City subway sounds for that. You can hear clattering metal as characters move through the portal, and the subway’s signature ‘ding’ when they arrive.”

Most unusual for a cartoon is Welcome to the Wayne’s heavy use of Foley sounds, created by the Emmy Award-winning crew from Alchemy Post Sound. Among other things, Foley artists Joanna Fang and Foley mixer Nick Seaman create individualized footsteps for every character.

“One way we wanted to make the show sound special was by giving each character a signature footstep,” explains Fang. “Ansi is bookish and meek, so his footsteps are disciplined and formal, whereas Olly and Saraline run around in squeaky Reeboks. Their personalities are reflected in their footsteps.”


Fang points to another character, Wendell, who walks around in cheap flipflops. “We have a nice pair of squeaky shoes for that, but it became a question of ‘how much squeak do you want?’” she recalls. “In order to control it, we throw baby powder on the floor. That creates just the right amount of slip resistance.”

Getting the Foley effects just right is important, adds Seaman, because they are featured prominently in the finished mix. “All of the dialogue is recorded in a studio, so it’s super dry,” he notes. “When you add the Foley, it sits right there with the dialogue, and if it’s not right, it’s obvious.”

That’s not to say that the Foley effects are always exact representations of what’s happening on the screen. A degree of artistic license is involved. “We perform every single footstep with picture, but staying in sync isn’t necessarily the best idea. Sometimes, you have to break the sync, cheat a footstep, to give it an extra bit of pizzazz and help sell the joke. It’s a funny show, so there is a certain amount of goofiness in everything we do.”

Barito, for one, appreciates the extra effort. “Every time I get the Foley back from Alchemy, it’s like Christmas morning,” he says. “They create distinct footsteps for each character. Sometimes it’s subtle and sometimes it’s hilarious. Wendell walking in his flipflops is very funny. You couldn’t do that with a stock sound effect. That’s Foley.”

About Alchemy Post Sound

Alchemy Post Sound is a 3,500 square foot, dedicated Foley studio designed specifically for Foley by resident Foley Artist Leslie Bloome. The company’s Emmy Award-winning staff has created sound for numerous major feature films, long-running television series, independent films and popular games. Alchemy’s services also include music recording, live performance, video production, ADR, and sound design.

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Calabash Partners With Design Studio Group Chicago On PSA Rude2Respect Initiative To Prevent Heath Care-Related Stigma

2017-07-13 12:56:38 ccwire-staff

CHICAGO, IL — Health stigma hurts. That’s the simple yet powerful message delivered in the animated PSA for The Simon Foundation entitled “Rude2Respect,” animated by Calabash, in conjunction with the creative design studio Group Chicago. The video can be seen on YouTube, as well as at, affiliated social media channels and as part of various educational and marketing initiatives as the campaign evolves.

“We had seen Calabash’s work and sought them out,” Barbara Lynk, Group Chicago’s Creative Director, said. “We were impressed with how well their creative team immediately understood the characters and their visual potential. Creatively they brought a depth of experience on the conceptual and production side that helped bring the characters to life. They also understood the spare visual approach we were trying to achieve. It was a wonderful creative collaboration throughout the process, and they are a really fun group of creatives to work with.”

Meet Blue And Pink:
Opening with typography of their simple mission statement: “Challenging Health Stigma,” the PSA fades in to a warm yellow-hued wide shot from which the scene languidly emerges. It’s a warm, sunny day as two friends — a short, teal-colored tear-dropped blob known simply as Blue and his slender companion “Pink” — walk toward the camera. Blue nervously says, “I’m not sure about this,” to which Pink responds encouragingly, “You can’t stay home forever.”

From there the two embark on what seems like a simple stroll to get ice cream, but underlying that is a deeper message about how such common events can be fraught with anxiety for those suffering from an array of health conditions that often results in awkward stares, well-intentioned but inappropriate comments, or downright rude behavior. Blue and Pink confront all of these in the form of unseen, aggressive skateboarders; and a woman that means well but is definitely not helping, but they stick together and rise above the insults. The spot ends with the simple words “Health stigma hurts. We can change lives” followed by a link to

Based on illustrated characters created by Group Chicago’s Founder/Creative Director Kurt Meinecke, Calabash Creative Director Wayne Brejcha notes that early on in the creative process they decided to go with what he called a 2 and-a-half D look.

“There is a charm in the simplicity of Kurt’s original illustrations with the flat shapes that we had to try very hard to keep as we translated Blue and Pink to the 3D world,” Brejcha says. “We also didn’t want to overly complicate it with a lot of crazy camera moves roller-coastering through the space or rotating around the characters. We constrained it to feel a little like two-and-a- half dimensions – 2D characters, but with the lighting and textures and additional physical feel you expect with 3D animation.”

Finding The Pace:
For Sean Henry, Calabash’s Executive Producer, the primary creative obstacles centered on finding the right pacing for the story.

“We played with the timing of the edits all the way through production,” Henry explains. “The pace of it had a large role to play in the mood, which is more thoughtful than your usual rapid-fire ad. Also, finding the right emotions for the voices was also a major concern, we needed warmth and a friendly mentoring feel for Pink, and a feisty, insecure but likeable voice for Blue. Our voice talent (Rich Parenti as “Blue” and Alex Hall as “Pink”) nailed those qualities. Additionally, the dramatic events in the spot happen only in the audio with Pink and Blue responding to off-screen voices and action, so the sound design and music had a major story-telling role to play as well.”

Brejcha adds, “I hope we see more of Blue and Pink. The campaign has such a worthy purpose, and the characters have potential for many more episodes and insights. The issue of health stigma is a universal one. Abstractions are more universal than specific, and the style represents every environment, every city, and every person stigmatized by the way in which some health difficulty has affected his or her appearance.”

About Calabash Animation
Led by Creative Director Wayne Brejcha and Executive Producer Sean Henry, Calabash Animation is the Chicago, IL-based animation production studio known for its award-winning animation for the advertising and entertainment industries. Calabash Animation is perhaps best known for their creative character animation and development of some of America’s most beloved brand icons. In addition to it advertising working, the company has also produced several acclaimed short films, including ‘’Stubble Trouble,’’ which was nominated for an Academy Award in 2002.


Web Resources:
Click here to see “Rude2Respect”:

Click here for more info about Calabash:


Click here for more info about Group Chicago:

For more info about the Rude2Respect initiative:


Creative Credits:
Client: The Simon Foundation
Project: “Rude2Respect”

Agency/Design: Group Chicago, Chicago, IL
Founder/Creative Director Kurt Meinecke
Creative Director: Barbara Lynk,

Animation: Calabash, Chicago, IL
Creative Director: Wayne Brejcha
Executive Producer: Sean Henry

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Deluxe’s Method Studios handled broad scope of work for "Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2"

2017-06-22 21:28:09 ccwire-staff

The Vancouver and Los Angeles facilities delivered 550 VFX shots for the latest Marvel blockbuster, including key CG character sequences with Rocket and Baby Groot, large-scale destruction and spaceship crashes, environment design, and more.

Director James Gunn and VFX supervisor Chris Townsend recently tapped Deluxe’s Method Studios to handle a broad scope of work for Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2, which continues the adventures of Peter Quill, Gamora, Drax, Groot and Rocket as they unravel the mystery of Peter’s true parentage.

Method VFX supervisor Nordin Rahhali explained that the company handled a few shots on the first film, building a relationship with the director and VFX supervisor. “When this film came, we were able to get in very early on as one of the primary vendors and of course had a large part of the film carved out for us,” he says.

Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2.’ All images © 2017 Marvel Studios

Rahhali led a team of over 250 artists that delivered roughly 550 shots for the film, or 40 minutes of work. He noted that the work crossed several disciplines, including “a lot more character work than we’ve done in the past at Method, which was something I personally was very excited to do.”

The work included creating hero characters Rocket and Baby Groot for several key sequences, as well as large-scale destruction and spaceship crashes, full CG animation and environment design, and the movie’s final scene.

Read the full story at AWN.

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Color Grading the “Lego Batman Movie”

2017-06-08 18:00:53 ccwire-staff

SYDNEY — Due to a long and productive relationship with Warner Bros. — through films such as Happy Feet, The Matrix and Legend of the Guardians: The Owls of Ga’Hoole — Sydney’s Animal Logic collaborated on The LEGO Movie (2014) from pitch and proof of concept through to post. After the success of this film, Animal Logic and Warner Bros. began working on a spin-off, and three years later The LEGO Batman Movie enjoyed global success.

Can you talk about how you developed the grade?
Chynoweth: “For this all-animated feature, we acted less as post-production and more as part of the production team. Where we might normally get four weeks to grade a live-action movie, here we were embedded in the production process for a year. From near the beginning of the project we were working with production designer Grant Freckelton to develop looks and we essentially became an extension of the lighting, compositing and output departments rather than just waiting for finished shots to be delivered to us.
“The process began with Grant and Chris [McKay, the director], where we would work a lot to get exactly the right feel. At one stage we were dark and gritty and very Batman. Very early on they had some ideas where they wanted elements of a ‘70s film, so we had to work out how we could incorporate those but keep it feeling modern — and then we lifted it up a little to get a bit of fun happening.
“We ended up coining the phrase ‘baby’s first apocalypse’: dark and gritty and Gotham-like, but all the bits that could be made fun would be fun, and anything that could be turned up was turned up to 11. Our motto all the way through was ‘enhance, enhance!”
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Toon Goggles Takes on ‘The Mojicons’

2017-05-22 16:22:12 ccwire-staff

Ink Global has announced that quirky new animated series The Mojicons is coming to global on-demand streaming platform Toon Goggles. Ink Global represents The Mojicons (26 x 11 min.) worldwide.

The Mojicons is a 3D series that reveals the behind-the-scenes world of the internet inhabited by the Mojicons — the emoji that grace our emails and text messages. When a mysterious digital villain steals the “@” symbol, all electronic correspondence grinds to a halt.

The Mojicons must undertake an awe-inspiring and dangerous quest to restore their system. Their mission is complicated by the fact that the zany bunch of condensed emotions are clueless about how the web works. Along their adventure, the internet reveals its secrets to the Mojicons and their audience.

The deal with Toon Goggles adds to the show’s global presence, with digital platforms and broadcasters across Greece, Turkey, MENA, Southeast Asia, Portugal and Israel.

“As soon as I saw The Mojicons, I knew it would be perfect fit for Toon Goggles,” said Toon Goggles CCO Lee Adams. “It’s bright, fresh, funny and incredibly original, so I’m sure our millions of viewers will love it as well!”

“Toon Goggles is a fantastic platform and full of great entertainment for kids — so we are delighted to have signed this agreement,” Ink Global Director Claus Tømming said. “It represents another step forward for what is becoming a very popular global show.”

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Kelly Asbury’s ‘Smurfs: The Lost Village’ Makes a Colorful Dive Into the World of Peyo

2017-04-12 13:30:33 ccwire-staff

Smurfs: The Lost Village, Sony Pictures Animation’s reboot of the popular ‘80s cartoon The Smurfs, opens in theatres this weekend. The film stars Demi Lovato as Smurfette, Mandy Patinkin as Papa Smurf, Joe Manganiello as Hefty Smurf, Jack McBrayer as Clumsy Smurf, Danny Pudi as Brainy Smurf and Rainn Wilson as Gargamel. In the story, a mysterious map prompts Smurfette, Brainy, Clumsy and Hefty to find a lost village, inhabited by SmurfStorm (Michelle Rodriguez), SmurfBlossom (Ellie Kemper), SmurfLily (Ariel Winter) and SmurfWillow (Julia Roberts), before Gargamel does.

Director Kelly Asbury, who previously directed Gnomeo & Juliet (2011), Shrek 2 (2004) and Spirit: Stallion of the Cimarron (2002), signed on to direct the film in November 2013. He explained that when he was first approached to direct it, he had to a do a little research. “I didn’t know tons about the Smurfs,” he confesses. “I was not really of the age to have been brought up on The Smurfs in America, because they really didn’t come to America until around 1982, and by that time, I was already out of college. I didn’t have kids so I really wasn’t watching Saturday morning television that much.”

Read the full story at AWN.

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EIFF Gears Up for UK Premiere of Disney-Pixar's "Cars 3"

2017-03-23 20:46:44 ccwire-staff

Edinburgh International Film Festival (EIFF) is set to go full-throttle in its opening weekend, with the UK Premiere of Disney•Pixar’s high-octane family adventure, Cars 3, confirmed for Sunday 25 June, 2017 at 2pm at the Festival Theatre, Edinburgh. Tickets are now on sale.

Revving up to attend the UK Premiere is Cars 3 Story Supervisor, Scott Morse, who will present the film at Festival Theatre, as well as host two School Screenings at Cineworld Edinburgh on 26 June.

EIFF is also excited to announce a nation-wide drawing competition for children up to 13 years to win tickets to the premiere screening. Entrants will be asked to draw their ultimate racing car to compete alongside Lightning McQueen with winning prizes including tickets to the film screening, and the opportunity to take part in an exclusive story workshop with Scott Morse. Full details on how to enter can be found here.

The UK Premiere builds on Disney’s longstanding relationship with EIFF, which has proudly hosted Festival premieres of Disney•Pixar’s Academy Award®-winning WALL•E, Toy Story 3, Inside Out and Finding Dory in recent years.

Mark Adams, EIFF Artistic Director commented: “Pixar Animation Studios is responsible for some of the greatest animated movies of our time and we’re thrilled to be continuing our relationship with the studio and providing such a treat for our younger audiences and their families in our 70th Anniversary Year with Cars 3.”

The turbo-charged, Cars 3, which sees Owen Wilson return as the voice of legendary Lightning McQueen and Armie Hammer joins the voice cast as new character Jackson Storm. The film sees McQueen blindsided by a new generation of blazing-fast racers and pushed out of the sport he loves. To get back in the game, he will need the help of an eager young race technician, Cruz Ramirez, with her own plan to win, plus inspiration from the late Fabulous Hudson Hornet and a few unexpected turns. Proving that #95 isn’t through yet will test the heart of a champion on Piston Cup Racing’s biggest stage.

Directed by Brian Fee (storyboard artist “Cars,” “Cars 2“) and produced by Kevin Reher (“A Bug’s Life,” “La Luna” short), “Cars 3” will cruise into cinemas on 14th July, 2017.

Cars 3 UK Premiere tickets can be purchased by phoning 0131 623 8030, or online at Ticket prices range from £12, £8 (concession), £5 (under 16s).

  • School Screenings will take place at Cineworld on 26 June, 2017. Tickets for School Screenings are £3 per pupil and teachers can book by emailing
  • “Cars” (2006) and “Cars 2” (2011) took in more than $1 billion in combined worldwide box office.
  • “Cars” won a Golden Globe® for best animated feature film and two Annie Awards for best animated feature and best music in an animated feature production. Composer Randy Newman won a Grammy® for best song written for motion picture, television or other visual media (“Our Town”). The film was nominated for an Oscar® for best animated feature film, as well as best achievement in music written for motion pictures, original song (“Our Town”).
  • “Cars 2” was nominated for a Golden Globe® for best animated feature film, in addition to a host of other industry nominations.

Source: EIFF

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Bringing Mickey Mouse into the Modern World

2017-02-09 22:19:22 mgalas

Rob LaDuca has a particular fondness for the classic Walt Disney characters: Mickey Mouse, Donald Duck and the entire gang. A twenty-eight year veteran of Disney Television Animation, LaDuca has served a number of roles including storyboard designer, director and executive producer on programs including “Mickey Mouse Clubhouse”, “Aladdin” and “Jake and the Neverland Pirates.”  He’s received numerous awards for his efforts, including five Daytime Emmy nominations and one win, for 2004’s “Tutenstein.” A car enthusiast, LaDuca became intrigued by the idea of taking Mickey and the gang out on the road in some very hip vehicles that would allow them to see the world and learn some life lessons along the way.  Thus began “Mickey and the Roadster Racers.”

LaDuca, serving as executive producer on the series, reached out to his collaborator on “Mickey Mouse Clubhouse” and “Jake and the Neverland Pirates”, Mark Seidenberg. Joining LaDuca as co-executive producer and supervising story editor, the two began to refine the look and vibe of the animation.  Geared towards the Disney Junior audience, “Mickey and the Roadster Racers” has a bright, fresh three dimensional look filled with modern gizmos while harkening to the 1940s aesthetics of its characters.

“Working in a 3D world of computer animation, the camera can move around,” said LaDuca. “The shadowing and the details are pulled from the 30s and 40s. For instance, in 2D animation Mickey’s ears look flat, so we’ve maintained that look in the 3D world.”

During the program’s research phase, LaDuca and Seidenberg went to a variety of car shows as well as comedian Jay Leno’s garage to review his auto collection. They noted the extreme variations in details as well as vibrant colors found in the vehicles.  While the duo have worked with each classic Disney character in the past, they went through a period of watching and re-watching original animated films featuring Mickey and the gang to ensure they captured each character’s personality authentically.

“These characters haven’t changed their personalities since the 30s and the 40s,” said Seidenberg. “We can modernize their activities but not (their core personas).  We don’t want to overly personalize them.”

Each character’s personality is embodied in the design of their roadster. Mickey, the leader and role model of the gang, is a Model T.  The more introverted Minnie is a Delahaye, a classic French model that features a small, rounded driving space behind an extensive engine.  Goofy’s model is designed after the hot rods created by Ed Roth, an artist and automotive customizer.  Daisy drives a Snapdragon, while Donald’s vehicle is essentially a boat on wheels.

Working with Disney Junior’s in-house education group, each episode of “Mickey and the Roadster Racers” includes themes that are valuable to young, developing minds, such as loyalty, friendship, skill development and teamwork. For example, in one episode, Mickey can’t participate in a parade he is supposed to orchestrate, so Donald takes over.  Donald has to learn how to take responsibility of his fiery temper to ensure the parade runs smoothly.  To further engage the young viewers in the social themes, Minnie and Daisy run a side business called “Happy Helpers”, where they lend a hand to those in the communities needing a little extra help.

To heighten the action in the series, Mickey and his friends engage in little adventures as they travel the globe, including trips to London, Spain and France. LaDuca and Seidenberg have fun infusing elements of each locale that can be easily embraced and digested by the viewer’s young minds.

“In London (the characters) meet a proper English gentleman. In Spain they get to experience spicy foods,” said Seidenberg.  Noted LaDuca, “We’re focusing on creating a social experience that is fun for kids, without making it to curriculum based.”

In addition to the roadsters morphing into skateboards or scooters and the characters using iPads and iPhones, current popular figures in the entertainment world lend their voices to the show. Gordon Ramsay, Tim Gunn and professional race car drives Danica Patrick and Jimmie Johnson are amongst those who’ve embraced their voice-over debut on “Mickey and the Roadster Racers.”

“We’ve shown them what they look like as a cartoon characters and they are so enthusiastic,” said Seidenberg. Added LaDuca, “It’s fun to bring in guest actors.  Patton Oswald came in and asked if he could add snorts to his character.  They come in with some great ideas.”

To learn more about “Mickey and the Roadster Racers”, please visit:

Source: Variety411

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How They Animated ‘Sing’ With a Live-Action Vibe Like ‘The Commitments’ Video

2016-12-28 12:34:38 ccwire-staff

Although it came as no surprise to the Illumination animators in Paris that live-action director Garth Jennings wanted them to approach their first musical extravaganza, “Sing,” more like “The Commitments” than “Despicable Me,” only with animals, they had no idea what they were in for. Long takes, wild camera work, off-beat song and dance performances and naturalistic acting required greater teamwork and more time than any of their previous movies.

“It was an acting breakthrough because of Garth,” animation director Pierre Leduc told IndieWire. “He pushed us to add more feeling to the characters and to push the way they moved in a more particular way.”

And what a diverse ensemble had to work with, thanks to both Jennings and Illumination founder/producer Chris Meledandri: Buster Moon (Matthew McConaughey), the impresario koala; Rosita (Reese Witherspoon), a domestic pig with great singing chops; Mike, a crooning mouse (Seth MacFarlane); Ash (Scarlett Johansson), a punk porcupine; Johnny, a young gangster gorilla (Taron Egerton); Meena (Tori Kelly), a teenage elephant with stage fright; and Gunther (Nick Kroll), the dancing pig.

Read the full story at IndieWire.

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The Fiber Art World of Trolls

2016-11-10 22:56:16 ccwire-staff

With its retro-inspired, musical message of happiness and unification, “Trolls” suddenly serves as a post-election hangover remedy. And veteran production designer Kendal Cronkhite-Shaindlin (“Madagascar”) had plenty of hair, fuzz and felt to work with in weaving a psychedelic world divided between the joyous Trolls and hateful Bergens.

“We wanted to create a hand-made kind of world made of fiber art…carpeted floors, houses made of hair, even fire made of hair…and Kendal was essential to doing that and getting our teams [in sync],” said director Mike Mitchell.

“The Trolls live in a felted forest like hippies of the ’70s with bright colors and the Bergens are like the suburbanites that pollute and litter, eat fast food and wear all-polyester,” Cronkhite-Shaindlin told IndieWire.

Read the full article at IndieWire.

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Bird Wings, Wolf Packs, Cutesy Babies and more - Creating the Animated Family Adventure, "Storks"

2016-09-29 23:00:17 ccwire-staff

Warner Bros and Sony Pictures Imageworks’ new animated feature film collaboration, Storks, is the latest expertly crafted, gorgeous looking and frenetically-paced CG animated movie to hit the local movieplex.  Storks takes place in a world where our fearless feathered transporters no longer deliver babies, but packages for internet giant  When the Baby Factory accidentally produces a cute and unauthorized baby girl, top delivery stork Junior, voiced by Andy Samberg, races to deliver the troublesome kid before his boss finds out. Cue the “fowl” hijinks. Sorry.

Imageworks animation supervisor Joshua Beveridge and I recently spoke about his work on the film, a production that at its height employed 126 character animators alone. He shared his insights on the four main challenges the studio faced from day one: designing featherless bird wings, developing a workable wolf pack rig, designing cute but not cloyingly sweet babies and a lead character Tulip, who was anything but a predictable “animated film” princess.

Read the full article here.

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Calabash Helps Fans Get to Know the U.S Women’s National Soccer Team Thanks to WNT Animated Branded Content Shorts

2016-09-15 23:00:34 ccwire-staff

calabash-logoCHICAGO, IL – We love to watch them play, but what do we really know about the women on the U.S. National Soccer team, who just competed at the Rio Olympics? A lot, thanks WNT Animated — 19 online short films featuring animation by Calabash, the creative studio led by Executive Producer Sean Henry and Creative Director Wayne Brejcha.

“We really felt as if we were getting to know the players as we animated their stories,” said Henry. “They are all incredibly focused and accomplished athletes, but they each have unique personalities and great senses of humor. It is easy to see why they are adored by millions of fans.”

Sebastian Podesta, lead editor and cinematographer for the U.S. Soccer Federation, captured and arranged the green-screened live action of each player. From there Calabash set the footage into animated story worlds, in a style crafted for maximum storytelling value while managing costs and racing against tight schedules. The goal: to complete 19 shorts, each over 2 minutes in length, in just a few months.

“Sebastian’s team did a fantastic job with all the players,” Brejcha said, “eliciting these wonderful moments and putting the stories together in a way that gives you both the player’s personality and the dramatic arc or the humor of their tale.”

Sponsored by Ritz crackers, each short captures a specific soccer-related moment in a player’s life. The tales range from the whimsy of Morgan Brian remembering a funny prank that went off the rails to the disarming sweetness of Alyssa Naeher remembering her team winning the world cup as she became an aunt that same day. Others are bit more serious like Hope Solo recalling an alarming and grisly injury during a hard-fought match.

The challenge for Calabash were to create an animation style that would hold the 19 shorts together into one unified look, and also simply to manage the production details of so many shorts at once.

“Producing this many videos in such a short period of time required a very coordinated workflow,” Henry notes. “We had a core group of directors and animators working in-house and a large group of freelancers working out-of-house. We had to develop a management structure to handle the volume of communication across a network of artists working in different locations. The amount of animation meant we had to work quickly, but this actually complimented the whimsical storytelling.  It was appropriate that the look of the animation not be overdone, that it have a breeziness and looseness to it.”

Brejcha adds, “The WNT players all seem to be great natural raconteurs. We just lived these stories so intensely while producing them, and they were all marvelous and all loveable in their own way.”

About Calabash Animation
Led by Creative Director Wayne Brejcha and Executive Producer Sean Henry, Calabash Animation is the Chicago, IL-based animation production studio known for its award-winning animation for the advertising and entertainment industries. Calabash Animation is perhaps best known for their creative character animation and development of some of America’s most beloved brand icons. In addition to it advertising working, the company has also produced several acclaimed short films, including ‘’Stubble Trouble,’’ which was nominated for an Academy Award in 2002.

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The Little Prince and Mark Osborne

2016-08-18 21:20:01 ccwire-staff

The Little Prince is a 3D animated film directed by Mark Osborne and based on the 1943 novella by Antoine de Saint-Exupéry. This is the first adaption as a full-length animated feature, and beautifully tells the story of a young girl who lives in a very grown-up world with her mother, who tries to prepare her for it. Her neighbor, the Aviator, introduces the girl to an extraordinary world where anything is possible, the world of the Little Prince.

Iain Blair Interview’s the Osborne…

Two-time Academy Award-nominated director Mark Osborne has been telling stories with animation and live-action for more than 25 years.  His breakout film was the 2008 animated DreamWorks offering Kung Fu Panda — co-directed by John Stevenson — which has grossed over $630 million worldwide.

Osborne’s live-action directing credits include the independent feature film Dropping Out, the animated TV series Spongebob Squarepants, featuring Patchy the Pirate, and all of the live-action sequences for The Spongebob Squarepants Movie.

Now Osborne has directed and executive produced the upcoming first-ever animated feature film adaptation of Antoine de Saint-Exupéry’s beloved classic, The Little Prince, which premiered Out of Competition at Cannes and then won the French Cesar Film Award for Best Animated Feature. Using stop-motion animation and CGI, the film features the voice talents of Jeff Bridges, Rachel McAdams, James Franco, Marion Cotillard, Benicio del Toro, Ricky Gervais, Riley Osborne, Albert Brooks and Mackenzie Foy.

Read the full story.

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Creating ‘Kubo and the Two Strings’

2016-08-04 21:57:03 ccwire-staff

Portland Oregon’s unofficial motto is “Keep Portland Weird”—which may be why I feel so at home there. Another reason might be the city’s proximity to the unique stop-motion animation studio, Laika.

Last September the studio invited a handful of journalists to their low-profile production facility in Hillsboro, a few miles west of downtown Portland. There’s no sign in front of the anonymous-looking building indicating it’s the birthplace of Laika’s beautifully idiosyncratic stop-motion features Coraline, ParaNorman and The Boxtrolls.

We were there for a sneak peek at the studio’s then in-progress fourth film, Kubo and the Two Strings—a peek so sneaky we were forbidden to report on our visit until now, just a few weeks before the film’s August premiere. The cavernous building that once housed a plastics factory is now home to an eclectic crew of artists and artisans who have migrated from around the world to help take stop-motion animation places it’s never been before.

We’re given the grand tour of the studio, dropping in on the various departments taking part in Kubo’s creation: costuming, character design, 3D printing, set construction and so on. We learn about the care taken in adapting classical motifs from Japanese art and dress into the look of the film, the challenge of creating armatures and rigging for feathered, furred and elaborately costumed characters, and visit a set where a gigantic monster—18 feet tall with a 24-foot wingspan—is being constructed. Our penultimate stop is a screening room where we’re treated to 15 minutes of action-packed, in-progress footage.

The day finishes with an hour-long sit-down with Kubo director Travis Knight, who also happens to be Laika’s CEO, former lead animator and self-described grande fromage.

Walt Disney may have been his company’s big cheese, but he never drew a single frame of any of his animated classics. Knight on the other hand has been a hands-on participant in creating his studio’s movies, animating successively smaller chunks of each film as his CEO duties expanded along with Laika’s size. This time however, Knight has added on a particularly large task to his responsibilities: Kubo is his directorial debut.

“I’m animating on [Kubo] but it’s impossible to do the kind of footage that I was doing before. When I took on the helm of this thing, I tried to structure my day, ‘I have to make this work, I’ve still got to be CEO but I want to oversee the film, animate on it and do all these other things.’ I started planning out my day and figuring out how I can make it work,” Knight explains.

Read the full story here.

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The Secret Life of Pets

2016-07-14 22:29:45 ccwire-staff

It all started with a simple question: Chris Meledandri, the founder and CEO of Illumination — the animation house behind Despicable Me and the mega-grossing Minions — is a dog-lover. He has two wire hair fox terriers. So pets were on his mind when he asked Chris Renaud, who directed with Pierre Coffin Despicable Me and its sequel, if he’d “ever thought about doing a movie about what pets do when you’re not at home?’.

“We just started with that idea,” recalls Renaud, who would go on to helm The Secret Life of Pets, the $75-million feature that Universal unleashes today. “The challenge was how big a concept that was. What do they do? Are they solving mysteries? We had to figure that out, but we wanted it to be relatable, a celebration of our relationships with our pets.” That idea was first discussed in the summer of 2012 and after developing the story and characters, it took two more years to produce.

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Technology Enhances “Finding Dory” Filmmaking Process

2016-06-29 21:59:40 ccwire-staff

It’s been 13 years since Disney•Pixar’s Finding Nemo hit theaters. So when it came time to create Finding Dory, the film’s production crew faced a curious challenge: how to take advantage of the technological advancements that have been made in animation since 2003, while still preserving the look and feel of the blockbuster original film. The sequel debuted at No. 1 at the domestic box office this past weekend, earning $135.1 million and now stands as the biggest animated opening of all time and the second-largest June opening of all time.

The technology behind the films continues to amaze Ellen DeGeneres, the voice of Dory. “I thought that Finding Nemo looked incredible; the water and the way they made everything look,” she says. “But this is beyond.”

John Halstead, Finding Dory’s supervising technical director, points to one constant that can be found in both productions—the Disney•Pixar team continued to look for tools that allowed them to extend their creative reach and work more efficiently. “Dory is a special case,” he shares, “because we made three major technology leaps at once.”

Disney / Pixar

Disney / Pixar

The first was adopting RIS, the next-generation RenderMan that is Pixar’s proprietary, core system to render animation and visual effects. This enhancement helped simulate the way light behaves in the real world more accurately than ever before. “Complicated effects like indirect lighting, reflection and refraction not only look more sophisticated, but they’re also handled automatically by the renderer.” Halstead explains. “This means our artists do less technical heavy lifting and can focus on the more creative aspects of their work.”

Alongside updating its shading and lighting program, the team also invented a system called “Universal Scene Description (USD)” to replace its previous, proprietary scene description format. By doing so, animators can now use models and shots over and over again, without having to re-create assets for different animation and editing programs. This new method essentially centralized and streamlined the filmmaking process for the whole crew. “We plan for USD to be an industry standard that will allow better interoperability between all of our in-house and commercial tools,” Halstead shares. “Additionally, USD is incredibly well-engineered and stable, supporting more complexity in our scenes than we’ve ever had before.”

With all of this in mind, how did the Finding Dory team actually keep the look and feel of the film familiar with all of the updated technology behind the scenes? Halstead credits the close attention to detail that was paid throughout the production pipeline, starting from the Art department, all the way to Lighting and beyond.

“The set design for the reef uses many of the same forms and color palette that we’re already familiar with from the first movie. You’ll recognize cats paw corals, vases, tabletops, sea fans, and grass from Nemo,” he says. But enhancements like complex lighting and more detailed flora and fauna in the background make Dory a little more aesthetically sophisticated than its predecessor. Halstead mentions, “How we create these effects has changed, but they’re the same concepts as in the first film.”

Disney / Pixar

Disney / Pixar

One character that directly benefited from these technological advancements was Hank, a cantankerous “septopus” that calls the Marine Life Institute home—specifically his seven tentacles. “Humans have arms with clearly defined elbows and a limited range of motion. But Hank’s arms—along with the rest of his body—are incredibly flexible,” Halstead details. “The computer likes well-defined rules, so building flexibility like this is really difficult. The arm rig that we developed for Hank allowed our animators to capture that movement that our directors were specifically looking for, without the process being incredibly taxing for them.”

But what about one of the most important visual elements in the film—the water? Halstead thanks the addition of RIS for this go-round, as developing the look of the sea, and even glass, was an easier task. “On Nemo, we had a six-month project with four people dedicated to figuring out how to render just one fish tank in the dentist’s office,” Halstead shares. “Now, we can model these tanks to be any shape and size, fill them with water, dress them anywhere in the set, and RenderMan figures out how to render it all.”

Although advanced technology may have opened many new doors throughout production, the effort to add another heartfelt chapter to the Finding Nemo story was as important as ever. “The goal for technology at the studio remains the same,” Halstead says about Pixar embracing new technology to continue making each of its film more lifelike and realistic than the last. “We want to give our artists the best possible tools so that we continue to can tell great stories.”

Source: The Walt Disney Company

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Angry Birds Movie's Hatchlings Star In Brand-New Short

2016-06-09 21:38:10 ccwire-staff

CULVER CITY, CA – The Angry Birds Movie has flown to new heights, circling $300 million in worldwide box office, and The Hatchlings are celebrating in their own incredibly cute way.  Everyone’s favorite fluffy little birds, voiced by young children, star in a brand new short, “The Early Hatchling Gets The Worm,” viewable in select theaters starting this weekend, it was announced today by Sony Pictures Entertainment and Rovio Animation.

Four hilarious Hatchling shorts have been released so far, garnering a total of 40 million views and counting.  The videos are part of an inventive marketing campaign that went viral, with the first video in the series having been shared a total of 400,000 times on social media.  Previous Hatchlings shorts have been released to mark holidays such as Christmas, Easter, Mother’s Day, and Memorial Day.

The short, focusing on an unlikely friendship that forms between a Hatchling and a worm she adopts, will run in select theaters before showings of The Angry Birds Movie beginning this weekend.

“The Early Hatchling Gets The Worm” is directed by John Rice, from a story by Vadim Bazhanov.  Producers are John Cohen and Catherine Winder.

In the 3D animated comedy, The Angry Birds Movie, we’ll finally find out why the birds are so angry. The movie takes us to an island populated entirely by happy, flightless birds – or almost entirely.  In this paradise, Red (Jason Sudeikis, We’re the Millers, Horrible Bosses), a bird with a temper problem, speedy Chuck (Josh Gad in his first animated role since Frozen), and the volatile Bomb (Danny McBride, This is the End, Eastbound and Down) have always been outsiders.  But when the island is visited by mysterious green piggies, it’s up to these unlikely outcasts to figure out what the pigs are up to.

Featuring a hilarious, all-star voice cast that includes Maya Rudolph (BridesmaidsSisters), Bill Hader (TrainwreckInside Out), and Peter Dinklage (Game of Thrones), as well as Kate McKinnon (Saturday Night LiveGhostbusters), Sean Penn (MilkMystic River), Tony Hale (VeepArrested Development), Keegan-Michael Key (Key & Peele), Hannibal Buress (Daddy’s HomeBroad City), Ike Barinholtz (NeighborsSisters), Tituss Burgess (Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt), Jillian Bell (22 Jump Street), Billy Eichner (“Billy on the Street”), Danielle Brooks (Orange is the New Black), YouTube stars Smosh (Ian Hecox and Anthony Padilla), Latin music sensation Romeo Santos, and country music superstar Blake Shelton, who co-writes and performs the original song “Friends.”  The film also features brand new music from Demi Lovato, Charli XCX, Matoma, and Steve Aoki. The Columbia Pictures/Rovio Animation film is directed by Fergal Reilly and Clay Kaytis and produced by John Cohen and Catherine Winder.  The screenplay is by Jon Vitti, and executive produced by Mikael Hed and David Maisel.

About Sony Pictures Entertainment
Sony Pictures Entertainment (SPE) is a subsidiary of Sony Entertainment Inc., a subsidiary of Tokyo-based Sony Corporation. SPE’s global operations encompass motion picture production, acquisition and distribution; television production, acquisition and distribution; television networks; digital content creation and distribution; operation of studio facilities; and development of new entertainment products, services and technologies. For additional information, go to

About Rovio Animation
Rovio Animation creates and distributes family-friendly animation properties for audiences worldwide. Rovio Animation distributes content through ToonsTV, the multi-channel video entertainment app available on iOS, Android and Apple TV. In addition, Rovio Animation manages the licensed consumer products business based on the globally known Angry Birds franchise, as well as the licensing and publishing of other properties. The Angry Birds Movie, Rovio Animation’s first full-length feature film, is slated for release in May 2016.

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Building "The Loud House"

2016-05-19 21:18:11 mgalas

Chris Savino has never lost the desire to create a comic strip.  At the tender age of four, he spent hours gathering swatches of leather an older sister amassed from her job that he used as drawing pads, mimic the comics he saw in the Sunday morning papers.  During his senior year of high school he shifted gears, looking for other creative avenues to explore.

“I watched cartoons and knew people made them,” said Savino.  “But coming from a big family in Michigan, college seemed like a pipe dream.  I didn’t think a career in (animation) was an option for me.”

He did make it to college, and his earliest jobs in the animation field include layout artist on “The Ren & Stimpy Show” and character/prop designer on “Hey Arnold!”  Throughout his career Savino rose the ranks working on high profile animation series, eventually becoming supervising director, producer and writer on “Dexter’s Laboratory” and “Powderpuff Girls” and executive producer and director on “Kick Buttowski.”  Savoring every experience and creative challenge, Savino never lost the yearning to pay homage to the disappearing printed comics.  After 25 years in the field, Savino shifted his career focus by joining Nickelodeon overseeing development of new projects. Soon into his new career a colleague encouraged him to submit concepts to the network’s first annual Animated Shorts Program, which promotes a selected short to pilot status.  Having worked on human-based cartoons, he was excited to explore some extreme physical humor accepted in animal based cartoons.  Savino’s pitched featured a boy rabbit surrounded by 25 siblings.  After it was suggested the characters be humans, Savino realized his upbringing in a house full of ten siblings offered the perfect marriage of story inspiration and his childhood love for classic cartoon creation.

Savino erased the bunny ears and nose, made some slight modifications and created 11 year-old Lincoln, a boy stuck in the middle of five older and five younger sisters.  He based the story for his short animation around the difficulties he had growing up with ten sisters, reflecting on the challenge he would sometimes have when going on a date.  Before getting to the door his older sisters would blockade him and critique his outfit.  Modifying the situation to something universally understandable, Savino’s short focused on Lincoln trying to get to the bathroom.  Each sister, named after someone or something special in Savino’s life, is introduced as they interrupt his much needed goal.  Recognizing the cacophony that arises from ten yelling children, he realized he had a great last name for his animated family, and “The Loud House” was born.

The short was the first series to be greenlit out of the global shorts program.   Creating stories that resonated with a broad audience while mining the humor of the large family was a primary concern to Savino.  His writer’s room bridges individuals who come from live action comedy as well as animation.    The top notch writing team help place Lincoln in situations that are digestable to a broad audience, while outlining the unique personalities of each character.  The humor for the audience comes from the relatable moments that transpire as Lincoln tries to achieve his goal, such as the constant obstacles that are thrown at Lincoln as he innocently tries to reach the living room couch to watch the conclusion of his favorite TV show – the storyline in the May 3rd premiere episode of “The Loud House.”

“I wanted to make sure the heart in this show is absolutely believable and is real and comes from an authentic place,” said Savino.  “We’re using universal themes that people know, but in Lincoln’s case, they are multiplied by ten, so it’s more amplified.”

The animation style of “The Loud House” allowed Savino to merge his love of comics with his animation design knowledge.  While hand drawing the cells would be his ideal choice to replicate the cartoon style, he knew the challenge of working on eleven unique characters would be an overwhelming burden for animators, particularly on a television schedule.  Seeking to duplicate the line qualities in a comic strip and maintain this aesthetic throughout character builds and rigging, Savino used an animation software called Harmony.  Harmony presents a more fluid finish to the characters when the images are rigged for movement.   The palette mimics the limited colors used in the printing process of 1970s comics; the time period of Savino’s early inspirations.  Floors, walls and other environments are a single color, referencing the half-tone color scheme of classic comic strips.  And, like the “Peanuts”, each character’s wardrobe has a signature color.   Interestingly, as Savino aimed to evoke a feeling of familiarity to the comic strips, early feedback he received was that he created a style that was “fresh and new.”

“It was an amazing process to witness that the more I tried to make people think they had seen the style somewhere before, the more people thought was something new,” said Savino.

To learn more about “The Loud House” please visit:

Source: Variety411

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