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:

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