Thursday, April 30, 2009

Fatkat dealing with downturn

I've had a lot of links sent my way over the past day or so regarding the current situation out at Fatkat in Miramichi.
Here's a few of them:
First of all, full disclosure: I used to work for Fatkat. Gene Fowler is a friend of mine. A lot of my friends work for Fatkat. I like Gene, and I like his crew and his company. I root for them. Gene built a heck of a shop and right now they are suffering from a slump, as is common in this industry. I talk to Gene pretty regularly and have known that they have been struggling to land their next contract for a while. There have been a number of contributing factors, many of which are listed in the various articles. The economy as a whole? Sure. The provincial tax credits? Big time. Fatkat has laid off a lot of people. Is this news? Well, sure. Is this unusual? Not at all. This business is cyclical at the best of times. Most studios have the luxury of being located in large production centre like Toronto, Vancouver, Montreal, and, to an extent, Ottawa. What usually happens in these places when one studio is between gigs is that the artists head over to another shop for their paychecks. It's called a talent pool, and studios draw from it regularly.
Out in Miramichi, Fatkat is the only game in town. So when they lay people off, there really isn't anywhere to go. This is tough for the artists and tough for the company. I know they've worked very hard to keep people on as full time empoyees in the past, something they did a great job at for a good long time. But sadly, that's a little unrealistic in this industry. Work ebbs and flows, that's the bottom line. Right now, for Fatkat, it's ebbing.
Local media has jumped on this. Some of those headlines are a little misleading and actually contradict the language in the articles themselves. I have a feeling the writers of these articles, for the most part, are unaccustomed to the nature of this industry, and hey, a story is a story.
I'm not going to specualte about the future of Fatkat. Here's what I know:
Fatkat has finished, or is in the process of finishing, the bulk of the work they have had running throught the shop for the last number of months. They have laid of most of their staff. They continue to seek out projects and are currently waiting for the financing to click on one in particular, a European production called Leo and the Pisa Gang. I have a piece on that very show that I wil run over the next few days. Fatkat has not closed and has not moved. Gene himself has said that they are holding on and working with their creditors (who have been very cooperative) to keep things going. That is all there is for now.
Things could change in either direction, for sure. But that's speculation. Personally, I would not count Gene Fowler or his crew out. Until I hear anything to the contrary, Fatkat is open for business.
Good luck guys.

From the internets...

  • Chad VanGaalen has some new films premiering at Toronto's OVER THE TOP film fest(via quietearth) : EBAY (Canada) - World Premiere BALD STATIC (Canada) - World Premiere Trying to summarize the latest animated shorts by Sub Pop recording artist, Chad VanGaalen is pointless, but expect a skateboarder jumping over a crucified Jesus’ massive erection in Ebay, and a sprawling abstract sci-fi story told with various types of animation (hand-drawn, stop motion, etc.) in Bald Static. Both films feature new music composed and performed by VanGaalen. I'll look around and see if I can find them online.
  • Cookie Jar is getting into the live-action game. With the success of Canadian cop-drama "Flashpoint", American networks are looking north for their next cheap hit. Traditioanlly a family-oriented toon-shop, Cookie Jar has launched a new imprint, "the Jar" and hired former Columbia TriStar and Paramount TV division boss Tom Mazza. But they're still making cartoons too. This really shows th scale that companies like Cookie Jar and Nelvana(Corus) are playing on. While what most of us would consider successful companies: Fatkat Animation, Atomic Cartoons, and the like, are struggling, these guys are diversifying, spending money to make money and really stepping up to what might be considered the "big leagues". Is this a broadening gap between the classes? It does show how well-positioned companies can capitalize on an economic downturn to increase their position.
  • Elan Awards. Congrats to Mercury Filmworks, Bardel Entertainment, Shane Plante, Algonquin College, and anyone else I might have missed.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Triumphant Campaigns of Captain Cudney, by Kyle Marshall

Look what's finally available in it's entirety!
Triumphant Campaigns of Captain Cudney from kmarshall on Vimeo.

Algonquin College, Grad Show and Sketch Nights

Spent a few hours out at Algonquin College yesterday catching up with old friends and seeing what the latest crop of grads have to offer. The same conversations keep popping up about the industry, but people are hopeful and most are still working. As far as the grads are concerned, this looks like another good year. I haven't had a chance to go through everything yet, but I have to take a moment to single out the work of three students: Collin Tsandilis, Mayrhosby Yeoshen, and Trent Correy. These guys pulled off a great little film called "Charged". Solid design, typical, but well executed animation, and great colour theory. I'd love to stick these kids with a seasoned mentor to work on a film together. The film does reveal their inexperience in small ways, but it approaches professional quality, at least on the level of, let's say, "Eight Crazy Nights". I understand it's been sent off to the Ottawa Festival, and submitted to Disney/Pixar for their intern program.
I really hope these kids get to keep working together and don't get lost in the grind of the TV industry.
Sadly, the other fine work on display was overshadowed by Charged. That's not to say that there isn't an excellent level of quality coming out of Algonquin this year. Solid portfolios full of good drafting and character work, some very promising 3D animation, and a growing number of actual films being completed by the students. Our hometown school has a great program, and everybody deserves a big congratulations on another successful graduating class. Good luck to everyone!

That being said, there's a Tuesday night Sketch group meeting at 7pm at Portable Feast, in the B building at the college. Tonight's the first night, so I'll wait to hear back how the turnout looks.
Rich Lauzon has a Facebook Group running to keep folks updated. Here's what he had to say:

We meet Tuesday nights to Sketch. Just for the fun of it. Bring Friends. Bring food. Bring books! All who love drawing and talking about drawing are invited. FREE PARKING!!!!!! You'll have access to my books in my office. It will be throughout the summer starting Tuesday, April 28th, 2009 up until College kicks in again in September. By subscribing to this group, you will receive weekly updates/changes as they come. Hope to see you there!


Hey guys, Thanks for joining the group!! This Week's Theme: None. We're just drawing, OK? But it would be great if you could post something on your blog/website/whatever and show us what you did. BTW, Bring a book or two that you bought from Labyrinth. We'll compare notes and I'll get to add titles to my book wish list. I'm already in deep trouble from last week... I now accept donations to the Rich's Library fund! For those of you that are new, the rules are simple: 1. Show Up and sign in. 2. Bring Sketching materials, food, books and friends (last three are optional). 3. Draw, eat and talk! 4. When you had your fill... you leave. 5. Don't for get to sign in!! We don't expect you to show up for every Tuesday. But if you can, that is awesome. Encourage others to come. We'll have recent PreAnim Grads, Animation Students, teachers and working artists... A great networking opportunity! PARKING IS FREE If you have any questions, feel free to ask. See you Tuesday!! Rich

Apparently parking is free.

These kinds of groups are great. We've also got a comic jam getting launched here in Ottawa by Sue Marsden. You can find info on that here.

So no excuse not to draw. Have fun everyone.

Monday, April 27, 2009

Kid Koala, Music to Draw to , heads for Toronto

Kid Koala, DJ and friend of animation, ran a very cool event in Montreal a while back. He spins tracks as backgroound music for an evening of creativity. No dancing. Just drawing, writing, I suppose macrame would be welcome.
Looks like he's taking the show on the road. Toronto, New York, Los Angeles. More info at the link.

From the internets...

  • More Bob & Doug coverage. I saw most of an episode last night. Meh. Simpsons wasn't any better though.
  • Cordell Barker gets quoted. CBC gets a good chat in here.
  • King of the Hill's Boomhauer will be making a trip to Canada on the series finale, May 17th.
  • Channel Frederator's compilation of Ottawa Festival signal films gets some interesting responses.

St. Clair College Grad Show, Windsor, ON, May 3rd

From Rose Bultman @ St. Clair College, in Windsor, Ontario:
If you are in Windsor, ON., Sunday May 3, 2009 be sure to check out the Annual Tradigital Animation Grad Show, featuring 2D and 3D student films from St. Clair College. The show is at the beautiful riverfront campus, St. Clair Centre for the Arts, doors open at 6pm, show starts at 7pm. Tickets are free and can be picked up at the college, room 273 or from any faculty member. Refreshments will be served; program DVDs, tee shirts and hoodies are for sale; come out and meet the students, check out their artwork enjoy the show.

I like the little guy in the snappy sweater, bottom right.

Cordell Barker premiering @ Cannes

This came in from Melissa Than at the NFB:

Cordell Barker's newest animation makes its world premiere in Cannes at Critics' Week! Info below.
For clips and a behind-the-scenes look at the making of Runaway, go to
Clips also available on YouTube:
RUNAWAY 'Making of : Animator Cordell Barker' :
RUNAWAY 'Making of : Composer Ben Charest' :
RUNAWAY (Teaser 1) :
RUNAWAY (Teaser 2) :
RUNAWAY (Teaser 3) :

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Emily Carr Grad Show, May 16th, Vancouver

Anyone in Vancouver should head to the Vancity Theatre for the ECUAD Grad Show.
Would love a review if any readers are able to attend!

"Short Fuse" The ECUAD Media Grad Show

The Vancity Theatre will be selling tickets to the show in advance online at
May 16, 2009

Doors 5:30 pm

Awards 6:00 pm

A: Animation Program 6:30 pm

Intermission 8:45 pm

B: Film Program 9:15 pm

Show ENDS 11:30 pm
May 17, 2009
Doors 5:30 pm

B: Film Program 6:30 pm

Intermission 8:45 pm

A: Animation Program 9:15 pm

Show ENDS 11:30 pm

Each Program is $12. $12 to see Program A and another $12 to see program B

We're hoping the Red Bull Girls will show up...

Algonquin College Grad Show, Monday, April 27th, Ottawa

Grad Show is almost upon us, just a reminder to those who can attend.
Apparently, parking is free this year.

Monday, April 27, 2009
1:00pm - 6:00pm
The Observatory Pub at Algonquin College
1385 Woodroffe Ave
Ottawa, ON

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Animate wacked out little animals for Jessica Borutski

Here's the skinny:

Attention All Animators!!!

I need help to get this short finished for this years festival!!
Its a fun little piece, that is animated to the fun cute beats of LIGHTS. She is a girl from Toronto that just won a JUNO for best new artist!!The film is about a little bunny trying to make friends, but has a little trouble because of his physical aliment. (: Its a satire obviously....A SILLY SATIRE!

So if you enjoy animating wacked out little animals to fun beats, let me know.....Ill throw a scene or 2 your way. Please send examples of other work you have done.Just so I can make sure you are a great fit for this project(:

I can't pay but I can make you a sweet title card for all your hard work, like this one I made for LIGHTS....

Here's the link to Jessica's blog.

And here's Jessica's previous effort, I Like Panda's.

Monday, April 20, 2009

From the internets...

  • Ok, so I erroneously reported last week, that Bob and Doug had premierd LAST Sunday, when, in truth, it ran last night. I still didn't catch it. But here's some more coverage.
  • Teletoon shows on iTunes.
  • Bardel Distribution sells Zeke's Pad.
  • Jordan, of Jordan's really really awesome blog, has some questions for Fatkat's Gene Fowler. Gene?

Friday, April 17, 2009

Canadian Animation Directory

Normally I would post this over on the Directory page, or maybe in Features, but I wanted to make sure that it got as much readership as possible.
I had a chance to scan through a first draft yesterday of the Ottawa International Animation Festival's Canadian Animation Industry Directory. These guys are working hard to put this thing together and it will, as I've mentioned before, also be available this year in an online format. Hat's of to Kelly Neal and Patrick Cross at the festival for doing the hard work to get this together.
This publication is a valuable resource for our community, and one that doesn't exist elsewhere. AWN has a directory on their site, but it's dated and unwieldy. Playback recently started something called the Blue Pages, but the representation of the animation community is poor, much like their coverage of it. This is our resource. It gets distributed all over the world. Used properly, it's essentially our community's calling card on the international scene.
So why aren't you in it?
Now, to be fair, a lot of you are. But so damn many of you aren't! This thing should be a monster. Sadly, though, it just isn't. We're a huge community and there's no one place to go to find each other. This should be it. I really don't know what you're waiting for. It's free to register at the Festival's site. It's free to get listed in the directory. They've tried really hard to provide a variety of categories that will cover everyone out there, and I think they've done a good job.
Go and get listed! Each and every one of you. Be proud of your industry, your community, and your place in it. Are you a board artist? They've got a category for you. An animator? A producer? A director? A casting agent? They've got categories for you. Independent animator? Again, a category for you. Every one of you newbies out there should be lining up to get your name in here. Set up a blog, post some drawings on it, and get the url and your email listed in the damned directory today! And the studios. Why aren't you in here? I can understand the individual animators to an extent, but aren't you guys in the business of doing business? This is free marketing. FREE! For Pete's sake. You are backwards. Ass-backwards. I am tired enough of people out there whining about the latest downturn in the industry. But I promise you right now, the next person that does so, I will look you up in the directory. And if you are not there, I will post your name on a list entitled "People I Know Whose Asses Are Backwards".
This is the least you can do, the VERY least, next to doing nothing at all, to promote yourself and support your community. I'd love to see accurate representation in that book. A big fat tome that you can slam down on a foreign producer's desk and show, proudly, that this is who we are.
So turn you asses around. Right now. And be counted.
You've got til Monday.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Reminder, Labyrinth Store at Algonquin College today, Ottawa

From 3pm til 7pm today, Labyrinth Bookstore will be set up at Algonquin College.
The Animation Road Show blog is part of the Labyrinth Bookstore in Toronto, Ontario Canada. We specialize in books on illustration, animation, as well as thousands of graphic novels and manga. The Labyrinth Store will be part of the General Arts Open House Wednesday, April 15th!!

A better collection of hard-to-find art books, sketchbooks and graphic novels you're not likely to find.

If you have a few bucks burning holes in your pockets and can get out to the college, you won't be sorry.
Wednesday, April 15, 2009
3:00pm - 7:00pm
ALgonquin College,Main Lobby, Building H
1389 Woodroffe Ave,
Ottawa, ON

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

From the internets...

  • Bob & Doug premiered last night. Anyone see it? Any thoughts? The previews I saw were funny. Mainstream press coverage here.
  • Lengthy post about the de-cartooning of Cartoon Network on Including this mention of the success of Canadian export, Total Drama Island: "the biggest show of the year for Cartoon Network was one they didn’t even highlight, a Canadian animated acquisition called Total Drama Island. And you know what happened? Cartoon Network had its best year-long ratings ever. Total Drama Island ruled the summer and much of the fall."
  • Great interview with Fran and Will Krause on Cartoon Brew. Not Canadians, but a good read. Upstate Four is an example to everyone working in Flash of what you can achieve. Plus it's a really great cartoon that someone needs to put into production.

Upstate Four 1 from Krause Brothers on Vimeo.

Upstate Four 2 from Krause Brothers on Vimeo.

Wednesday, April 8, 2009 animation contest

This came in from Another animation contest!

...thought I would update you about our latest contest. It opened on March 24, 2009 and will be accepting entries until April 27, 2009. This is the first contest we've opened internationally, so we're excited to see what the world has to offer and to see our Canadian contestants step up their game! Grand Prize is $2500.

I'm including a link to our contest page, which contains more information about the contest and includes our most recent entries. Judges for this contest include Kelly Neall, the Director of the Ottawa International Animation Festival and Jessica Borutski, the lead Illustrator and Animator at Fuel Industries.

Official Contest Page:

Go check it out!

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Digital Henchmen Launch Party, Ottawa, Club SAW, April 9th

Digital Henchmen is a new studio opening here in Ottawa, and to celebrate, they're throwing a shindig this Thursday at Club SAW.
Here's the press release:

April 9th, 20009, Club SAW, 8pm: Digital Henchmen launch party and music video premiere for Amos the Transparent.

Upstart animation trio, the Digital Henchmen, will be unveiling their freshly-pressed animated music video for local musicians Amos the Transparent. Bands, businesses and arts patrons are all welcome to come to the SAW Gallery at 8:00 to enjoy the show, grab some refreshments, and share the love.

Performances by Amos the Transparent, Jesse Dangerously and the Centretown Cripplers. Tickets: $12 in advance or $15 at the door. Available at Invisible Cinema (Bank and Lisgar) and the Comic Shoppe (Bank Street location)


About Digital Henchmen:
Jordan Richer, Steven Sloan and Darren Bird are the Digital Henchmen. Three experienced animators setting up shop under one roof with the humble goal of lighting a fire in the Ottawa animation industry. The trio is staking their territory in the short form market, including: animated shorts, music videos, instructional videos, webisodes, and commercials/advertising. With a wide array of technical know-how, backed up by strong traditional training, the Henchmen can walk the walk.

Their first official collaboration, a fully-animated music video for Amos the Transparent, is the calling card that will show off the Henchmen brand: creativity, quality, and professionalism

Good luck to these fellas and see you there!

Kalamazoo Animation Festival, Kalamazoo Michigan, May 14th-17th

Got a heads up from Bryce Hallett regarding the Canadian presence that will be in attendance at this year's Kalamazoo Animation Festival. Here, I'll just let Bryce tell you:

Hey Michael,
Do you know about the Kalamazoo Animation Festival?
It's in Kalamazoo Michigan in May 14- May 17

I know it's in Michigan and not somewhere in Canada, but I just thought I'd bring it up because there are a lot of Canucks going to be in attendance there.
For example,
Janet Perlman is doing a couple of panels and discussions. One called "the Anatomy of a Funny Story" another on Music and Animation with Judith Bruber-Stitzer and some other folks.
Aubry Mintz, who is a Sheridan grad just a year ahead of me is doing one called "The Art of the Animatic" and one with Ellen Besen "Ridiculously Great Animated Sequences and Extra Special Storytelling Techniques".
He's also moderating a Panel with myself and Bruce Simpson on going the freelance route called "Bryce and Bruce: Careers Outside the Studio System.

Ellen Besen and I are also going to be doing a presentation related to her book Animation Unleashed. Where I'll be drawing live while she's presenting. It's improv drawing!. or sketch comedy!.. heh heh....ok bad pun.

Other presentations and talks by fellow Canucks, Ishu Patel, John Halfpenny (Angela Annaconda, Eek the Cat, Beetlejuice") Mark Glassman, Sharon Katz, Madi Pillar, Richard Reeves etc etc

Heck, even a group of students from Humber College are among the students competing in a 10 day aniamtion marathon to make 30 PSA's based on a theme. That's pretty cool.

(and there's a bunch of stuff by many notable and interesting American animators and animation producers too of course. heh heh like Gary Shwartz, Linda Simensky (PBS), Jennifer Oxley (Nick Jr.), Mike Mitchell ( Sky High, Shrek 4) Ed Hooks ( acting for animators) etc etc etc)

If you're interested in knowing more this is the list of guests:
and this is the list of panels and presentations:

I haven't looked through everything, but it looks like it will be a really great festival.
and it has a number of interesting screenings it seems as well.

Anyway I hope things are busy with you and going well.
Keep up the excellent blogging!

Bryce has done this live-drawing show before while Ellen chats. I've heard it's a great presentation, so if anyone can get to this thing it sounds well worth it.

Thanks to Bryce for the informative message.

Friday, April 3, 2009

slow news day

Very busy animation week for me. The usual stuff, plus some secret meetings, the Fuel Job Fair and a meeting of the Algonquin College advisory board. Lots of interesting , though I think off-topic, conversation. I'm trying to put finishing touches on a few pieces that I'll post next week, so please check back. Sorry for the lack of posts today.
Have a great weekend!

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Algonquin College Grad Show 2009, April 27th, Ottawa

If you're in Ottawa on Monday, April 27th, that's the day that Algonquin College puts its latest graduating class on display for any and all.
Here's the details:
Monday, April 27th, 2009.
1 to 6 pm
The Observatory Pub at Algonquin College
1385 Woodroffe Ave
Ottawa, ON
613-727-4723-5821 (Neil Hunter)

There's a Facebook event page for any of you who're on there.

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