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.

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