Thursday, December 25, 2008

Merry Christmas!

Merry Christmas everyone! Be well.'m

Monday, December 22, 2008

Electronic Arts lays off 1000, MOVES Black Box in Vancouver

Don't have all the details yet, but more bad news for animators at Christmas. Here's the link.
Update: The Globe and Mail has some thorough coverage.
Reposted from

EA cuts jobs, moves Black Box studio


Vancouver's world-renowned video game development community is shrinking even more.

Electronic Arts Inc. dealt another blow to the game industry in British Columbia yesterday when it announced plans to shutter its famous Black Box development studio in downtown Vancouver and increase the number of layoffs as part of the company's global restructuring.

EA's Black Box studio operations and development teams will be relocated to its suburban Burnaby campus, which plays host to sister studio EA Canada.

The announcement comes just one week after the video game publisher, based in Redwood City, Calif., said it was shelving plans to open a new, 20,000-square-foot facility in Vancouver's trendy Yaletown district due to slow holiday sales in Europe and North America as a result of the sagging global economy.

Although EA said the studio consolidations and layoffs will produce annual savings of about $120-million (U.S.), analysts worry that it might not be enough to revitalize the sputtering game producer as it battles rising costs and skittish consumers. "EA needs to stop investing in things that are speculative and don't have a proven business model," said Michael Pachter, a financial analyst for Wedbush Morgan Securities who tracks the video game industry.

EA's heavy investment in what are known as mid-session games - titles the studio distributes free in the hope that players will purchase upgrades such as new levels and in-game items - and its burgeoning cellphone game business are distracting the company from its core business and pushing up costs, even as consumer spending is waning, he said.

"We have to look at ways of being more efficient, look at ways of trimming from our cost structure," said EA spokesman Colin Macrae. "It was a tough decision, but it's the right decision for the company and our employees."

Although B.C. was long considered to be the centre of Canadian video game production, the province has slowly ceded that title to Quebec, where game companies enjoy hefty tax breaks and wage incentives to set up shop in Montreal and Quebec City. EA's Montreal studio now houses about 600 employees.

"Vancouver, while it may have been in the past regarded as a lower-cost place to operate, that's really not the case any more," Mr. Macrae said.

Also yesterday, EA said it would increase the number of jobs it plans to trim in 2009. In October, the company said it was cutting 6 per cent of its employee base; yesterday, it raised that number to 10 per cent, or about 1,000 people. The company is also cutting the number of titles it plans to release in 2010, but didn't give further information.

EA said it expects the majority of the restructuring to be completed by the end of March, 2009.

The Black Box studio is responsible for the popular Need for Speed car racing games and EA's new Skate franchise.


Thought I'd take a second to aplogize for the cluttered mess in the sidebar. I'm working on expanding this Blogsite and have a bunch of new features I'll be adding, but in the meantime, things are getting kind of messy. I've just added a Paypal button over there (keen-eyed readers may have noticed the blatant plea at the top of the sidebar). In order to expand and provide a greater resource to the community, I need this little piece of virtual real estate to start generating some cash. And so, I am asking you, my dear reader, at this time of giving, to look deep in your hearts and assign a monetary value to the service I provide. Don't worry about insulting me either, I'm comfortable with being worth next-to-nothing. It's nothing that I can't abide.
Now, I understand this kind of action could alienate some readers. But I am nothing if not a sell-out. So there, I said it first. But let me state, for the record, that you're not sending me grocery money. That's something I can handle. The reality here is that if I want to be able to follow through on some of the plans for this site, some revenue is necessary. I will be incurring further expenses that my pocket simply can't handle.
Anyways, there it is. The hat is on the sidewalk and I'm doing my little dance. What's it worth to ya?
(I tried to find a humorous image to accompany this post, but the image search for "beggar" got depressing fast)

Rooftop Films call for submissions (and a short rant about making your films available to the public)

Saw this over on Cartoon Brew:
Rooftop Films, the yearly film festival that takes place across the rooftops of New York City, is currently accepting submissions for its 2009 summer series. Next year’s festival, the 13th anniversary of Rooftop, runs from May through September. The early submission deadline is January 5, 2009. Submission fees are a reasonable $9, and everybody who submits receives two free passes to any Rooftop Films show. They’re a solid filmmaker-friendly organization that I hear only good things about and should be commended for supporting both animation and live-action filmmakers. Complete submission info can be found on the Rootop Films website.
Thanks to Amid Amidi for posting.
This is the kind of event everyone wih a film should be submitting to. It doesn't cost a bucketload, and it's an excuse to take a trip to New York. I can think of probably a dozen people I know who should be taking advantage of this. There are a lot of goood films out there, and a lot of good film-makers. Get some exposure for chrisakes. Get your films seen! We have an industry in this country that keeps most of you employed, but on whose terms? For those of you who aspire to anything other than a layout gig (and I'm not slagging the working artist), get your work into the public eye and build opportunities for yourself. I know far too many artists, very talented folks, who accomplish the minor miracle of actually making a film, and in some cases, quite a few films, but for all the work they put into the films, they do nothing, or next to it, to get their work seen. There are amazing films sitting on shelves and hard-drives all over this country. At the very least, put em up on Youtube and send me the link. If I like it, I'll post it here. But better yet, take a few minutes, click on the link, and fire a copy of your creation the filks in NYC.
Oh yeah, Red Stick International Animation Festival just posted it's last call for submissions. Ever been to Baton Rouge?

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Tommy Chong is Canadian, right?

This report of an animated Cheech and Chong movie. At last! Because you demanded it! In the SEVENTIES!
The article goes on to tell how the man who discovered the Cheech and Chong is basically selling the rights to use their old recorded material as the dialogue track for the feature to Big Vision Entertainment, whose big ideas and forward vision have produced Ghost Hunters, lots of low-rent wrestling dvds, and something called My Baby Know it All. Oh wait! There's a press release! (of course there's a press release):
Dec 16, 2008 As their reunion stand-up tour Cheech & Chong Light Up America fires out nationwide, Big Vision Entertainment said it will produce an animated film featuring the stoned duo with Chambers Bros. Entertainment. The two companies have acquired animated film rights to the classic Cheech and Chong library held by music producer and Ode Records owner Lou Adler and will use those famous comedy bits to inspire "Cheech and Chong's Smokin' Animated Movie." Big Vision founder and CEO Houston Curtis will produce along with Keith, Branden and Eric Chambers, who devised the concept. Adler, who discovered the duo in the early 1970s, will executive produce. Eric and Branden Chambers will direct the animation. The ICM-repped Big Vision, which focuses on direct-to-DVD special-interest material, will finance the project. In the '70s and '80s, Cheech Marin and Tommy Chong released several top-selling comedy albums and starred in six films, including "Up in Smoke" and "Still Smokin'." "It's great to be doing a movie where Cheech and I never have to get out of bed or be on camera," Chong said. "It's about time that we got animated because we've been doing animation without the animation for years," Marin said. "Whether you watch it smokin' a fattie or stone-cold sober, it's just plain funny."
I love the comment from Tommy Chong about not having to actually do any work.

Is it just me or do they look like dogs? They had a routine about that though, didn't they? Something to do with sniffing turds?
Usually when I see this kind of thing my thinking at least drift to, "oh well, at least someone will get some work out of this." But these days I tend to drift more into the camp of "couldn't this money have been spent better?" I loved Cheech and Chong when I was a teenager. They were stupid and funny, and quite frankly, The Corsican Brothers was HIGH-larious. But I've worked in studios long enough to know that there is a wealth of unproduced original work out there that will never benefit from these dollars. I'm not so naive, though, as to suggest that Mr Lou Adler should not be trying to make himself a few bucks off these thirty year old recordings, that's business, right? But once in a while it might be nice to see someone make a kajillion dollars off something hollow and reinvest a little into something original. After all, we need something else to rip off in 2038, don't we?
Update: Link to the movie's site. Also, Dominic Von Riedemann's coverage.
And look, another image! mmmmm flashy.

Fatkat working on partnership with Adobe

Straight outta Miramichi. Looks like Fatkat is putting together a sweet deal with Adobe to become a test studio for their products. This is what I like about Gene Fowler. Whereas someone like myself might have a good idea, Gene acts on it. I imagine the studio itself will save a bundle of dough on their licenses, probably get promotional material made up on Adobe's dollar, and maybe even line up additional sponsorship dollars for particular events or projects, not to mention press from Adobe itself. It also speaks well of Adobe. Flash was never intended to be used for character animation. John K and others worked with it early on and helped push the software into the realm of character animation, but it remains ungainly, with some very serious impediments to the broadcast animation pipeline. This partnership could indicate a willingness on the part of Adobe to really focus the product for the traditional animator, an area they've been taking a beating in. ToonBoom in particular has been making serious inroads into a sector that Flash formerly dominated. So, what's good news for Fatkat may be good news for the industry.

Friday, December 12, 2008

Mike Geiger's "County Ghost"

Make friends with it.

I'm not always a fan of this particular "cartoony" style. It's quite dominant in Canadian broadcast animation. But it really works here. Mike Geiger has made some entertaining little shorts here. Thanks Mike!

Nick Cross and Dave Cooper!!!!

These two were made for each other!
Here it is folks: Danko Jones' "King of Magazines"

Danko Jones - King Of Magazines from Bad Taste Records on Vimeo.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

From the internets...

  • Great promo for the new Bob and Doug show from Animax. They animated the classic "12 Days of Christmas" from Dave Thomas and Rick Moranis' 1981 album, Bob and Doug MacKenzie: Great White North. This tune is found on most self-respecting Canadians' Christmas mix CDs. Watch it via Animation Magazine.
  • Copyright Promotions Licensing Group (CPLG) opens Canadian branch (CPLG Canada). There's a mention in this article that the CPLG group of companies was recently acquired by Cookie Jar Entertainment. I've been a little sidetracked lately with some courses and personal matters, but this is a big move by Cookie Jar. Licensing is where the money is kids. The big boys all know this. You smaller shops out there, learn the lesson too. Get your distribution lined up for your DVDs and line up some toy deals. We spend a lot of time shmoozing broadcasters for a license fee or some production money, but that's really just the start. Work smart, get your licensing lined up and you could very well finance your next project yourself. You need an example? Toopy and Binou. Trust me. DVD sales that would blow your little cartoon mind.
  • from Brand Performance LLC. I guess I should go take a look. Again, licensing driving the industry.
  • Jimmy Two Shoes clip. Produced by Breakthrough Animation, Jetix Europe and Teletoon. Created by Edward Kay and Sean Scott. I believe the grunt work is being done at Mercury Filmworks here in Ottawa.

Monday, December 1, 2008

Animation Recession

Ron Doucet has a great post up over at Flooby Nooby. Everybody go check it out. You have to scroll down to November 24th, under "Animation Recession". It seems to have been inspired by an open letter to the Nova Scotia animation community from Mark Capello. I haven't read the whole letter yet, but will be doing so after this post.
Ron provides this quote: "Consider yourself a professional in an actual career as opposed to a collector of Green Lantern comics who works in animation sometimes. Research your field, learn new technologies, challenge yourself to improve your skill-set, create a network and use it, communicate with peers, work on updating/creating your portfolio. All of the tools are at your disposal to make an informed, educated, well thought out decision on the future of your career. A slow period in this industry often has the effect of purging the weaker workers who don’t take their jobs and opportunities seriously, and that’s a healthy thing for the region and the industry. Is this your career, or is it just a job?"
This is a very honest look at the nature of the "professional" inhabiting out industry.
And please, after reading, comment. I'd really like to hear your reactions on this one.
Oh, and Ron? Mark? If either of you guys are reading this, please consider this a standing invitation if you ever feel like contributing something over here, we need more of this kind of open discussion in our community.

Sunday, November 30, 2008

From the internets...

  • Nelvana content goes online. Just not in Canada.
  • The Future is Wild, from Nelvana and Singapore co-producer Singapore Technologies Electronics. Kids who travel to the future to see how things turn out. Apparently it's based on a prime-time Animal Planet documentary and helmed by Emmy Award-winning director Mike Fallows. I don't know Mike, and he's probably done good work, but from the images I saw, this show looks terrible. Ugly designs, terrible colour-styling, sorry, please prove me wrong.
  • The holidays are almost upon us, and that means cartoons. Christmas specials can be easy to miss, so here are some listings. The big ones are covered: Rudolph, Charlie Brown and the Grinch. There's something interesting form Cuppa Coffee, "A Miser Brothers Christmas", in the Rankin Bass tradition. I know my daughter is looking for the Shrek special, and I can't find any listing for J. Otto Seibold's "Olive the Other Reindeer".
    But I'll keep looking. I've given up hope that we'll ever see Nelvana's "Cosmic Christmas" ever again though. Teletoon Retro should chase that sucker down.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Dave Cooper + Nick Cross = Sweet animated goodness

Nick has posted this shot from a music video he is animating for the band Danko Jones.
It's a collaboration between Mr Cross and illustrator/painter/appreciator of pillowy women: Dave Cooper. This is my inner fan's dream pairing. I'm so sporting fanwood over this. Anyone not familiar with these two fellas, please go educate yourselves.
Nick Cross
Dave Cooper
There's also a link to a review on AWN of Nick's last film, the Waif of Persephone.

Monday, November 24, 2008

From the internets...

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

From the internets...

  • Nat Abraham moves up to Head of Distribution at Breakthrough Films
  • Janet Heatherington interviews Jay Stephens on his new series for Cartoon Network, the Secret Saturdays.
  • More on Breakthrough, with a look at My Big Friend.
  • Animation Insider gives a look at what's going down at Nerd Corps in Vancouver.

Friday, November 14, 2008

Emru Townsend, visitation

Just got the details for those of you able to get to Montreal and interested in paying respect to the passing of Emru Townsend:

There is no funeral at Emru's request. Instead, there will be two days of visitation.

The general public is welcome to join friends and family in recognizing a life well-lived.

Rideau Gardens
4275, boul. des Sources,
Dollard-des-Ormeaux, QC
H9B 2A6
Telephone: (514) 685-3344
Toll-Free: 1 (800) 657-5678

Saturday November 15
2:00 pm to 5:00 pm
7:00 pm to 9:00 pm

Sunday November 16
2:00 pm to 8:00 pm

In lieu of flowers, please learn more about how to get registered to be a bone marrow and stem cell donor. If you are eligible, consider registration, and if you are not, tell someone why it is important and how easy it is to register.

Feel free to find me whether you know me or not, and ask me any questions you may have about registering as a potential donor. You can also message me later on Facebook or via Heal Emru website.

Donations can be made to:
African Caribbean Leukaemia Trust
National Marrow Donor Program

You can also visit the Heal Emru Facebook page and join one or more of the Causes listed there. Donations are optional.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

If I were in Kitchener this wekend, I'd be here:

The Waterloo Festival for Animated Cinema is the only film festival in the world dedicated to the artistry of the animated feature film.

From the latest Japanese anime blockbuster to the smallest indie production... from 3D CG to silhouettes... the Festival brings the best full-length animated feature films from around the world to North America.

See your favourite films the way they were meant to be seen: with an appreciative audience, on the silver screen!

I'm reposting this for anyone who's looking for some cool films to watch. The event starts tonight! I'm also looking for any attendees who want to do some coverage or post some pics. Have fun!

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Goodbye Emru Townsend, 1969-2008

From Tamu Townsend:

Emru took his last breath just before 10 pm tonight. He died peacefully surrounded by his family. He taught me how to live. He taught me how you are supposed to die. Emru's name means RESPECT. Emru, the person, also means compassion, learning, teaching, sharing, love, integrity, honesty, and inspiration. He taught a lot of people a lot of things, but he spent 2008 teaching people how to reach out to one another in a whole new way. If you carry some of this forward, it will be a year even better spent. Thank you for being part of his journey. Tamu

I mentioned Emru and his battle with Leukemia here a few weeks ago. He will be greatly missed.
Emru was a tremendous friend to the animation community. Read his story please.

Reactions to the news are popping up. I'm going to go ahead and post a few as I tumble to them.
Chris Robinson:

Animation lost a pal late last night…and more than that the world lost another good person. And I don’t mean that in a glib, he’s dead so let’s say only nice things sorta way. Emru Townsend was truly a good person. He was compassionate, sharing and positive to the point of making me uncomfortable (hey, that’s just me. It’s easier to be cynical). We weren’t buddies, pals, chums, bros, but we did know each other for about 12 years. I am forever grateful to Emru for being the first person to publish my writing on animation. It was in his beloved magazine Fps. I submitted a piece just for the heck of it and was quite pleased when Emru accepted it. It gave me confidence as a writer and told me that, hey, maybe this is a path I want to explore. So, selfishly, I thank you for that Emru.

What’s with animation losing good young people lately? Helen Hill. Wendy Jackson Hall. Emru Townsend. I guess the gods above, below and beyond don’t like the toons. Assholes. It’s not fair. It sucks.

Meantime… I send all things good to Emru’s family…and especially to Vicky, Max and Tamu.

From the PWAC website:

Some of you knew Emru, while others, like me, never had a chance to meet him, but we all mourn his loss as a fellow writer, former PWAC member and an altogether great human being. He certainly inspired me throughout his courageous struggle to beat leukemia. Although it ultimately got the better of him, he educated me and many others about stem cell donation and how each of us have the potential to save a life of the many others out there still suffering with this disease. We should all appreciate our health while we have it.

Madeline Ashby:

It doesn’t feel real, yet.

Emru Townsend has died.

In many ways, Emru helped initiate me into Canadian life. He asked me to be a contributor to Frames Per Second Magazine, and gave me the opportunity to get to know Canada through the Toronto International Film Festival. (I later volunteered for the same organization.) On his errand, I visited the offices of the NFB, and saw the same Norman MacLaren shorts that many Canadian children see at school. He inadvertently exposed me to a slice of Canadian culture.

Of course, he did even more for a huge amount of people. He and his sister brought the need for minority registrants to the OneMatch bone marrow and stem cell registry home to Canadians in the arts and technology sector, especially residents of Montreal. He helped explain anime fandom. He gave a lot of people their start at FPS. He was a writer, a husband, and father.

And now he’s gone.

An amazing post by Mark Mayerson, too long to quote, but well worth the read.
Harry McCracken
Didier Ghez
Cartoon Brew

It's wonderful to read through through the comments people are making. Emru obviously touched so many lives, more than he knew, I'm certain. I didn't have the pleasure of knowing him personally and I think I may be adding that to my list of regrets. Emru's life, and death, are an example.

Monday, November 10, 2008

If I were in Toronto tonight, I would have been here:

Marc Bell! Marc Bell! Marc Bell!

Cartoon illustration, not animation. But for pete's sake, it's Marc Bell.
Paul Bright Gallery, 1265 Bloor Street, Toronto, Ontario.
Marc Bell, did I mention it's Marc Bell?

Sunday, November 9, 2008

From the internets...

  • Looks like I missed it, but Jay Stephens' new series, the Secret Saturdays premiered on Teletoon this weekend. I'm a long-time fan of Jay's work, from his original Atomic City Tales comic book. He's a master storyteller and I'm really glad to see something coming out that's so true to his work.
  • Get Animated coverage in Calgary, including some words form Vancouver animator Jody Kramer.
  • I like the sound of Teletoon On Demand, but sadly a huge chunk of the programming leaves me limp.
  • I had no idea that Studio B did the new Peanuts shorts. Cool.
  • I also had no idea Dave Coulier is Canadian (according to Animation Magazine, reporting on Coulier taking on the vocal chores for Rick Moranis on Bob & Doug)

Friday, November 7, 2008

Animation Unleashed book launch

Sadly, I could not attend. But I did manage to enlist the always charming Mr Barry Sanders to take some snaps and share his thoughts on the evening. Take it away Barry:
As you know Tuesday Nov 4th was a very important day in history. Author Ellen Besen and Illustrator Bryce Hallet celebrated the release of their book “Animation Unleashed” with a lecture. Oh, and the U.S. elected a new president or something like that. The talk was held in Toronto’s avant garde Gladstone Hotel Ballroom and hosted by the Page’s This is Not a Reading Series and the Toronto Animated Image Society. In an interesting move Ellen screened Norman McLaren’s short “A Chairy Tale” and then proceeded to analyze it while the book’s illustrator Bryce underlined her points by drawing on a computer tablet projected onto a screen. It was a method that sometimes distracted but more often worked in concert and enriched the evening with a lot of humour. Ellen and Bryce are both veterans of the Toronto animation scene. And if you want to know more about the actual book you can check out a review here.

More pictures can be found here. Including attendee Rick Green! (Google him if the name don't ring a bell).
Bryce got back to me last night as well:
Hey Michael,
Yeah it went very well I was really happy with the turn out. Chris Reed who organises TINARS did a great job getting all this together.
There was a pretty decent sized crowd, I think a full room or at least it looked like it from the stage, despite the elections competing with us. We kept the crowd updated on the results later in the night though. ha ha
But yeah it went very well. Marc Glassman, owner of Pages books introduced Ellen. We screened "A Chairy Tale" and Ellen did a great lecture deconstructing the film afterwards while I drew on a Cintiq hooked up to a projector to help illustrate her points.

It was fun to be sort of improvising as we went a long and just playing off each other. We got quite a few laughs and doing the live drawings while she talked i think added another level of interest and really helped get the ideas across...and just some silliness too as I can't help myself. ha ha

As a friend of Ellen's put it we were literally doing "sketch comedy". heh heh

The whole presentation with her talking and me drawing made it very dynamic. The people there seemed to really enjoy it and they were very engaged and interactive with us as well which was great.

Mostly our presentation was about how anything can be a character and good and bad choices in animation. It also sort of seguewayed in to various other topics of visual storytelling and animation with all the back and forth between Ellen and the audience.
Afterwards we took questions from the audience and signed many books.

We also had a big 3d cake version of our little square character from the book created for us by the bakery Half-Baked Ideas . For some reason we weren't aloud to eat it at the Gladstone so we're gonna have a little party Friday to eat the poor little cake man. ha ha ha

Overall it was just a lot of fun, a great turn out. I would totally love to do more presentations like that. Plus seeing people buying the book and being told how much they really enjoyed the whole thing doesn't hurt the ego either!

Thanks a lot for mentioning it in the blog too!
I saw you had posted a reminder the day of the event as well. It's very appreciated!


Sounds like I really missed out on this one. Good luck to Bryce and Ellen.
Everybody: Go buy this book.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

If I Were In Toronto, I'd Be Here Tonight:

This is Not a Reading Series Presents:

Animation Unleashed: 100 Principles Every Animator, Comic Book Writer, Video Artist and Game Developer Should Know
By Ellen Besen Illustrated by Bryce Hallett

Animation is a powerful tool for communication, both traditional and experimental. At the launch of Animation Unleashed (Michael Wiese Productions), veteran animator/theorist Ellen Besen will analyze clips from a variety of films to illustrate this discussion of exactly how animation communicates. With a special appearance by animator/illustrator Bryce Hallett, courtesy of Frog Feet Productions.
Gladstone Hotel Ballroom, 1214 Queen St W, Toronto
Tues, Nov 4- 7:30pm (doors 7pm) Free


I know I posted this before, but I figured a bump wouldn't be a bad idea.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Interesting New Animated Shorts Competition

This was posted on the Facebook Group (remind myself to put a link up to that on here somewhere). Our own local animation curmudgeon is on of the judges too! It doesn't mention prizes but the part about feedback from the experts is kinda interesting:

AniMazing! Spotlight Call for Entries We want this new competition to reflect the globe we live on, you know, global. We want shorts from all over, particularly Canada! We look forward to seeing what you all have to offer in the way of animated shorts 12 minutes or less. And EVERY entry receives a professional critique from at least three of our panelists/experts! Announcing a unique new competition: AniMazing! Spotlight. AniMazing! Spotlight focuses exclusively on animated shorts, and offers EVERY applicant personal comments on the work by an international panel of animation experts. The applicant may use these comments for promotional purposes as well as valuable edification and encouragement. The first deadline is Monday, December 29th, 2008. Full details are available from and online at AniMazing! Spotlight is open to undiscovered and/or rarely-seen short animation (12 minutes or shorter) that has not received any major awards prior to AniMazing! Spotlight. There are no age limits, no school requirements, no production year limits, no format limits. Even professionals in the animation industry who are testing out the independent world are eligible. The international panel for the first quarter includes: Gene Deitch, Animation Director, Czech Republic Paul Dopff, Animator/Children’s Workshop, France Tsvika Oren, Animation Director/Journalist, Israel Chris Robinson, Animation Festival Director, Canada Raffaella Scrimitor, Animation Professor, Italy Hrvoje Turkovic, Scholar/Author/Professor, Croatia Malcolm Turner, Festival Director, Australia Paul Wells, Historian/Screenwriter/Edu
cator, England
Sharon Wu, Animation Festival Curator, USA

Our experts will send comments to all entries within one month of receiving the short.

Each quarter, AniMazing! Spotlight will then select two entries to award for “Excellence in Animation”. At our Final Awards Ceremony, the “Best Animated Short” will be selected from these eight quarterly winners. In addition, we will present Specialty Awards at the ceremony, acknowledging shorts that may score extremely high in one area, but not so high in another. The ceremony will take place at the historic, world-renowned Egyptian Theatre in Hollywood, California on November 8th, 2009.
The evening will include the screening of all winning films, and members of the Hollywood animation community will present the awards.

For a pdf application, email or visit

The AniMazing! Spotlight awards are being sponsored in part by the UPA Legacy Project, the American Cinématheque, and “Toon In to the World of Animation”, a weekly podcast of animation interviews, which can be heard at

Put your Animazing! Short in the Spotlight!

Full details are available from and online at
There are submission fees. Non-students: $95.00, students $50.00. There are some other fee details involving multiple submissions and memberships. Go to the website for details.

Help Emru

Emru Townsend, of FPS magazine, has been fighting a courageous battle with Leukemia. I can't do his story justice. His struggle has been well documented and the campaign he and others have waged is beyond admirable. Please go and read for yourself. Please register as a donor and help save someone's life. Take some time today, and, at the very least, read his story.

Monday, October 27, 2008

From the Internets...

  • Great post by Greg Hemmings on his MIPCOM experience. Greg's a live action producer from New Brunswick and he shares his experience hanging in Cannes with Fatkat's Gene Fowler discussing the crisis production companies in New Brunswick are facing over the provincial tax credit issue. I have a follow up to write after all the responses I received from my last post on this subject, but Greg's illustration of the issue is perfect. I don't know Greg, but after reading this I'll be scouring his archives for more intelligent discourse.
  • I'm not familiar with Chad Van Gaalen, but he's apparently a pretty sharp musician from Calgary. He's also a visual artist who has a thing for animation: "And on the art side of things, Van Gaalen, who has animated a number of videos to accompany his music, is currently working on larger animation projects, including a full-length feature backed by the Canada Council." (from the Calgary Herald) He's got a few tracks on Myspace, and one of his animated videos too. Doesn't suck. This kind of work ethic scares and diminishes me.
  • Vancouver Sun talks with David Fine and Alison Snowden. The duo are producing Ricky Sprocket in Vancouver with Studio B. It's comforting to read about how they wanted to be more hands on this time around.
  • Nice little bit about Toronto's Guru Studio and their new series Justin Time. A bit of a puff piece, but I like Guru, so here's to them.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Recommended Reading: John Canemaker's Felix the Cat: the Twisted Tale of the World's Most Famous Cat

It's not Canadian, but that doesn't mean I can't recommend it to Canadians.
This is a great book for those of you in Animation Colleges across our nation. If your experience was anything like mine, you're being given a lot of "how things are done" , but very little of why they're done that way. Context is in short supply in the Animation schools here in Canada. I remember being handed X-Sheets, board templates and field guides and feeling quite overwhelmed by the abstract-ness of it all. These are your tools, I was told. And I felt limited and constrained by them.
Years later, I tumbled across this book on the shelf at Dynomight Cartoons in Ottawa (the Cambridge Street location for any interested). Turns out it was put there by Nick Cross. Any of you who follow this blog will have heard his name before, and it should come as no surprise that he was educating himself on the history of the medium. It was an absolute eye-opener. Sure it told an entertaining story of an artist and a salesman and the meteoric rise of a cartoon cat to international celebrity, but it gave me context. It taught me about why we do things the way we do them and about the men and women who figured it out the first time. It humanized the process of making animation.
As far as I'm concerned, this book should be required reading for all young aspiring animators and should be on the curriculum at every respectable Animation College.
Go get a copy.

A couple of reviews can be found here and here.

Wanted: Web Designer

It's time to upgrade this little page and I need some help. I have zero web design skills and do this little page for zero dollars, so I'm looking for a volunteer from the audience. Anyone out there willing to do something for nothing? I know, I make it sound so glamorous.
But seriously, there's only so much I can do with Blogspot layouts.
Serious inquiries only please.
Hit me up at
Thanks everyone!

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Things to do: Toronto. Animation Unleashed book launch

This is Not a Reading Series Presents:

Animation Unleashed: 100 Principles Every Animator, Comic Book Writer, Video Artist and Game Developer Should Know
By Ellen Besen Illustrated by Bryce Hallett

Animation is a powerful tool for communication, both traditional and experimental. At the launch of Animation Unleashed (Michael Wiese Productions), veteran animator/theorist Ellen Besen will analyze clips from a variety of films to illustrate this discussion of exactly how animation communicates. With a special appearance by animator/illustrator Bryce Hallett, courtesy of Frog Feet Productions.
Gladstone Hotel Ballroom, 1214 Queen St W, Toronto
Tues, Nov 4- 7:30pm (doors 7pm) Free


October 28, World Animation Day


World Animation Day 2008 - October 28. In Canada, the National Film Board is holding free public screenings and events in the following cities: Victoria, Vancouver, Edmonton, Calgary, Winnipeg, Toronto, Montreal, Halifax, Moncton, Bouctouche, Caraquet, Edmundston, Kedgwick. Find out more about World Animation Day at the NFB’s Get Animated site.

Sadly, no Ottawa event. I'll save the discussion of Ottawa's relationship to the NFB for another time though.

Monday, October 20, 2008

MyToons Animation Contest

Had this forwarded to me the other day, might be worth checking out:

I wanted to let you know about a new artwork contest that's being sponsored by MyToons. It entails submitting artwork for an upcoming film about skateboarding and hip-hop evolution, called Concrete Jungle, in which the winners can get cash prizes, artwork featured in the collateral material of the movie, etc. It is my hope that you have the opportunity to take a look at the contest page and make a blog post or mention about it to help get the word out.

The contest started last month, but is scheduled to run until November 21. Entrants can just go to MyToons, register, and upload their artwork to enter.

Again, you can find the contest page and all the rules at:

News out of Mipcom

Totally uncomfirmed, unsubstantiated rumours out of Mipcom:
Fresh from France: Sip Animation, Cosgrove Hall and Entertainment Rights are all on the verge of, well, not being.
Tough times for animation companies.
Thanks Tipster.
Not Canadian companies, but many of us have had dealings with them. Closures always suck.

From the internets...

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Canadian Tax Credit system, grrrrr...

I'm trying to encourage some discussion over on the Facebook Group page (if you aren't already a member, you should be!) The current bee in my bonnet is the Canadian Tax Credit system inn general, and the Provincial Tax Credit system in particular.

This, to me, is the most pressing issue in our industry at the moment. If you've ever wondered why the job posts you come across say things like: Ontario Residents Only, here's the answer.
Years ago, the Canadian government offered lots of programs that would fund Canadian productions. Producers got used to it. Then the funding was cut. People complained. It was felt, however, that much of this funding amounted to government hand-holding, and without it, our industry would grow more competitive and self sufficient. (arguable, but a discussion for another day). Over time, a system of federal tax breaks came into play as a reward for those productions that employed Canadian artists, the same also occurred on the provincial level. As I understand it, these tax credits were intended as rewards, as after-the-fact bonuses to encourage the industry's growth at home. Unfortunately, producers began budgeting around them. Today, provincial and federal tax credits are budget lines going into productions. Productions are then forced to only employ resident artists and crew and superior studios often lose out for projects at the bidding stage to companies in neighboring provinces with higher tax credits. It's a system that is being abused and it's effects are felt across the country. I'd love to crew a show with the right artists for the job. That's always the fantasy, but if the right artist didn't live and pay taxes in the right province as of December 31st of the right year, I'm outta luck, and so is that artist.
Thoughts? Experiences?
Please share.

Things to do: Waterloo Festival for Animated Cinema, November 13 - 16, 2008

If you are looking for animation in November, get yourself to Kitchener-Waterloo. I haven't attended in past years, but am seriously looking at my calendar this time around. Due to parenting commitments, I was unable to take in feature screenings in Ottawa last month, so I'm kinda hoping to make up for my missed opportunities here. I also met Joseph Chen in Ottawa, he's one of the folks who put this baby together and is a swell guy.
Here's a little something reprinted without permission form
Waterloo Offers Early Animation, Anime, Sita Sings The Blues

October 13, 2008

Celebrating the artistry of animated feature films, the Waterloo Festival showcase is one of the most comprehensive public exhibitions for animated feature films in the world. More ambitious than ever, the first titles revealed in the 2008 program span the gamut of animation and storytelling styles.

Tracing the historical beginnings of feature animation, the festival will be presenting a rare retrospective screening of the earliest surviving animated feature film, Lotte Reiniger's DIE ABENTEUER DES PRINZEN ACHMED (1926). The 35mm print was restored from nitrate fragments by the British Film Institute, hand-tinted, and will be presented with a new soundtrack commissioned by the Northwest Film Forum and performed live at the festival by the musician-composer duo of Miles and Karina. Also screening will be the Canadian premiere of QUIRINO CRISTIANI: THE MYSTERY OF THE FIRST ANIMATED MOVIES, a documentary on the artist who created the first known animated feature film in the world.

Continuing the festival's tradition of celebrating animated feature films made by small, dedicated teams of (sometimes just one) artist, the Tidbits program includes Nina Paley's SITA SINGS THE BLUES, a charming interpretation of the Indian mythology THE RAMAYAN, drawing parallels with the filmmaker's own life, and set to 1920s jazz vocals by Annette Hanshaw; and the mind-twisting bravado of WE ARE THE STRANGE, presented by director M dot Strange in person.

For anime fans, a smorgasbord: the 2008 TAF anime feature film of the year REBUILD OF EVANGELION 1.0: YOU ARE (NOT) ALONE lands at the festival for its Canadian premiere. The festival will present the complete GENIUS PARTY anthology, with back-to-back screenings of the astounding films GENIUS PARTY and GENIUS PARTY BEYOND. Also making its Canadian premiere is a tale of innocence and friendship between two budding artists, PIANO NO MORI (THE PIANO FOREST).

All screenings will be held at The Gig Theatre (the old Hyland Cinema), 137 Ontario Street North, Kitchener-Waterloo, Ontario, Canada, November 13-16, 2008. The theatre is conveniently located near rail and bus services, and there is plenty of parking nearby.

For adults, single admission prices are $12 per screening. A limited pass, good for any five screenings, is $45 for adults. A full festival pass (best deal), good for all festival screenings and activities for $90. Passes are transferable. For children and high school students (ID required), single admission prices are $8 per screening. A limited pass is $30, and a full festival pass is $60.

As a special offer to early purchasers, full festival passes will be available at a discounted early bird pricing of $60 for adults ($30 off), and $40 for high-school students ($20 off). Only 50 passes will be available at this discount. Single admission tickets and passes will be available in advance from the website and also at the door. Festival organizers advise purchasing in advance.

Further details will be published on the festival Website at

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

From the Internets:

  • Follow up to a story reported here earlier, Hotweels, from Mattel/Nelvana. Looks like the press releases have been sent out. More of the same here and here. In fact, the same info is being regurgitated all over the place. Web penetration of this press release has been considerable.
  • Marvel superheroes exclusive to Teletoon. Exelsior.
  • A shout out to Gene Fowler and Fatkat. They've taken their fair share of hits in the past, but Gene maintains a very active blog and shares a lot of the workings of his shop. I check the blog regularly and recommend it to others. The latest posts have been mostly discussing new series they're pitching at MipCom.
  • NFB hits Washington DC.
  • What's Studio B bringing to MipCom this year?
That's all for tonight kids.

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Added: Link to Mike Swiegot's blog

A thank you to Mike Swiegot, of Toronto, Ontario.
Mike is the first person I can find who has added us to his links on his personal blogsite. I discovered this, as Mike is also the first referral we've had here that hasn't been from a mail provider, Facebook page or googlesearch.
Thanks Mike, you're our first link. I wish I could afford to send you a prize, but I do this for free.

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Starz announces feature deal with Miramax

Got word of an announcement from Starz! Animation:

Starz recently landed a Miramax film, Gnomeo and Juliet, a character parody of Romeo and Juliet (the largest project in Starz history). A former Disney project, it was in the vault for awhile and started production at a few studios in the past. Miramax has brought it to life in conjunction with Elton John and Rocket Pictures. The director from Shrek 2, Kelly Asbury, has signed on to direct the movie and voice casting has started in Hollywood. Currently in pre-production, the movie is due to swing into production in spring 2009 and Starz will be hiring people at that time to staff up for the needs of this exciting CG feature.

We're definitely seeing a rise in feature production here in Canada. I've heard off the record comments of significant feature production potentially kicking in sometime in 2009, despite the dire economic forecast. I don't know if this is a Canadian phenomena, or if it's across the board. Any thoughts?

Monday, October 6, 2008

News Roundup, October 6, 2008

From the internets(slow news week):
  • Local news out of Miramichi NB, is there room for two 'Chi?
  • Producer Richard Pimm passed away last month, I missed the news initially, but here's AWN's coverage. Condolences.

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

News Roundup, October 1st, 2008

From the internets:

Monday, September 29, 2008

From the vault...

... or should this be called "Gossip Squirrel" and I'd get a cute cartoon squirrel for a mascot... or maybe "Kibbles 'n' Bitch"? Do I need a "clever" name for a rumour column? Is anyone even reading this?

Word out of Toronto (where else?) has Corus Entertainment putting all it's eggs in one basket, or rather moving it's many divisions: radio, television, animation all under one roof in some kind secret base/corporate headquarters. Anyone with word on location or pics, we'd love to hear from you.
Rumour is the herd will be much much thinner when Nelvana moves into the new digs.
Expect press releases from Nelvana soon announcing a deal they're working on with American toy giant Mattel ...first series out the gate will be Hot Wheels, with the hope of other properties to come. One cog in the machine drew comparisons to the "CBS debacle".
Am I just fearmongering now?
Apparently, Mattel turned down three experienced directors at Nelvana and decided to go with a yes man.

Elliot Animation just worked a little street magic by selling three seasons of a new show, to be directed by Faruk Cemalovic (designer of 16) without animating a single frame. Congratulations!

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

News Roundup, Sep 24th, 2008

Here we go folks, latest bits and pieces:
  • Teletoon announces 2008 Scholarship winners.
  • Season two for Bakugan.
  • Looks like I get to be lazy! I found people posting about their Ottawa Festival experience! How about this guy: David Levy! Or this guy: Phil Lockerbie! What about this: Michael Sporn! And Barry Sanders posted pictures. OOooo... pictures. Wait! There's more. Nancy Beiman shared her expereince too.
  • Ottawa winners announced.
  • A grain of something afoot in Ottawa (sorry to keep mentioning my hometown this time around). There's a small mention of "an opportunity to create animation". Might mean nothing, might be significant. Time will tell.
'Kay... gettin' sleepy.

Monday, September 22, 2008


Good-bye OIAF 2008, hello real world.
A great coupla days full of great people, some cool cartoons, a couple of interesting panels, the world's tiniest movie star, and a reaffirmed sense of one's position in this odd industry. I'm working on a post but might just cheat out and throw some links up. Depends on how much work I actually have to do over the next few days.
I do want to say a huge thank you to the organizers: Kelly, Chris, all the staff, particularly Azarin, Jennifer and Dominique. This is a huge affair to put together and they have all earned a rest.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

News Roundup, Sep 17, 2008

Latest dirt from around the internets:
  • Fatkat seems to be up to something at the at the Ottawa International Animation Festival. Stay tuned.
  • has a press release for Total Drama Action, the follow up to Total Drama Island. Does anyone actually report real news in this industry?
  • Ricky Sprocket also sent out press releases this week.
  • Coverage of the SPARK Animation Fest in Vancouver.
  • Ward Jenkins, of Portland, Oregon, and Wardomatic fame is going to the Ottawa Festival. Apparently he will be doing some coverage, so check back. If you aren't familiar with Ward's work, then you should be.
  • A review of Edison and Leo that pretty much sums up the general consensus of those I've spoken to who have seen it.
  • Mainstream media coverage of the Ottawa Festival from the Ottawa Citizen.
  • John K continues his analysis of the "Canadian Style". He's got some interesting things to say about Mok.

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Cintiq 12WX review by Mad Magazine's Tom Richmond

Twice in one day from
Now it's a review of the Cintiq 12WX. Check it out.

Artist Survival Skills

Not exactly animation, but it sounds like a great read. "Artist Survival Skills: How To Make a Living as a Canadian Visual Artist", by Chris Tyrell looks like it's worth checking out. I'm gonna grab a copy.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

News Roundup, Sep10th, 2008

From the internets:
I'll try to post more tonight.

Saturday, September 6, 2008

Ottawa International Animation Festival Looms Ever Nearer

Have you got your tickets to OIAF yet?
It's coming up fast, September 17th to 21st. If you've never been, you should really do something to change that.

Friday, September 5, 2008

From the Archives

I didn't bother with an inaugural post for this blog. I would imagine that most folks viewing it have come via the Facebook group, so welcome. This blog/site will provide the same services as the group, but will be more inclusive to non-facebook users out there from the animation community. Right now we'll be seeing animation related links, news items, sites of interest, artist blogs, and films that catch my eye. There's a link to a job board, and eventually, the directory should be up and running.
For now, just something to look at. A music video roughly a decade old by the super-talented Nick Cross. Enjoy.

Newsfeed: September 5, 2008

Here's the roundup of news related to the Canadian Animation sector for today:


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