Playing in theaters now (in front of several movies) is the trailer for Walking With Dinosaurs: The Movie, produced by BBC Earth (of course) and coming to theaters this December. Interestingly, the producers are taking a somewhat anthropomorphic angle for this 3D CGI film: It’s actually narrated by the dinosaurs themselves as they go about their daily lives. In this story, we meet a young frill-head dinosaur, who is something of a runt in his herd — but who will grow up to be a great leader who will guide them through a dangerous world. The film is directed by Barry Cook (Mulan, Arthur Christmas) and Neil Nightingale (Enchanted Kingdom). Check out the trailer at Animation Scoop.
Suddenly everyone is talking about Sanjay and Craig, a new animated TV series on Nickelodeon. It stars the voice of Chris Hardwick (comedian, bowler, and head honcho of The Nerdist Channel on YouTube) as Craig, the best friend of a young suburban boy named Sanjay. Craig, it turns out, just happens to be a talking snake. The Nerdist web site has more details, and you can check out the glowing review at Gerry Beck’s Animation Scoop, also. The series is up and running on Nickelodeon now.
Jerry Beck’s Animation Scoop has an interesting article about a pair of independent animation projects in the works — both of which just happen to be very furry. First up is Ghost of a Tale, a new video game designed by Lionel “Seith” Gallat. Lionel has worked as a supervising animator at Dreamworks on movies like The Prince Of Egypt, The Road to Eldorado, Spirit, Sinbad, SharkTale, and others. More recently he’s been a director for Illumination on films like Despicable Me and The Lorax. Ghost of a Tale follows the adventures of a medieval mouse battling rat zombies on a mysterious island. In a very different vein is Dogonauts by Shel and Justin Rasch. “Mortal enemies, a Dogonaut Pilot and a Space Flea, shoot each other down only to awake, marooned side by side on an alien desert planet.” Justin is a stop-motion animator known for films like Paranorman. He and his wife Shel completed Dogonauts in their garage, all the while both of them working full-time jobs. Both of these projects are seeking crowdfunding help to move from their current levels of production up to the next, and hopefully get them out into the world. The Scoop article features trailers as well as the official pitches for each of these projects. Check ‘em out.
Where have we been? Looks like even classic toys are taking on a furry angle. Legends of Chima is a new line of Lego toys the world-famous plastic brick system introduced this year. From the Wikipedia entry: “Chima is a land where anthropomorphic animals lived in peace with one another until a conflict caused a civil war with the eight animal tribes: Lion, Eagle, Raven, Wolf, Gorilla, Rhino, Bear, and Crocodile. The members of the factions fiercely battle over a powerful natural resource called Chi, which could allow its possessor to create or destroy.” The toy sets are already available — and a TV series based on the line has already been produced by Prime Focus for the Cartoon Network. Later this summer, a free MMORPG of Chima will be available on line as well.
After a wildly successful run of Ratchet & Clank releases for the Sony Playstation, Insomniac Games have announced they are teaming up with Sony Computer Entertainment, Rainmaker Entertainment, and Blockade Entertainment to bring the planet-hopping lombax and his little robot companion to the big screen in a brand-new CGI animated film — set to be released in 2015. According to an article in Forbes, Insomniac’s own TJ Fixman will be lead writer on the film, and voice talent will feature James A. Taylor as Ratchet, David Kaye as Clank, and Jim Ward as the lumbering human Qwark — all of whom are well-known from the game series. The article on-line also features a new teaser-trailer for the upcoming film.
After the box-office success of Monsters vs. Aliens in 2009, Dreamworks Animation green-lit a spin-off TV series to be developed for Nickelodeon. Well, now it’s here! Monsters vs. Aliens premiered on cable TV March 23rd with a special pilot episode, “Welcome to Area Fifty-Something”. Regular episodes begin on Saturday mornings starting this weekend. B.O.B. the blob, Link the fish-man, Dr. Cockroach the bug-man, and Susan (aka Ginormica) the giant-lady just want to live a quiet life on their secret government base, but that’s hard to do when hostile aliens keep showing up — and doing things like kidnapping the President! Nickelodeon has an official web site for the show as well.
One of the admittedly stranger TV series of the 1990′s was DIC’s Street Sharks, which ran from 1994 to 1995. Created by David Siegel and Joe Galliani of Mr. Joe’s Really Big Productions, the series followed the adventures of four teenage brothers who were transformed into human-shark mutants by an evil scientist’s genetic manipulations. Yes, yes, the show was riding on the coat-tails of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles — in fact, it directly spoofed Turtles on more than one occasion. Previously, only a handful of Street Sharks episodes have been available on tape or DVD. But now Mill Creek Entertainment have announced that they are releasing all 40 episodes of the original series in a 4-DVD set at a reduced price. The set is available now at Amazon and other dealers.
The TV series My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic is already famous for having inspired a wellspring of creativity in many forms, including art, stories, music, and much more. Now it seems to have reached a particular peak, as a group of “Bronies” around the country have joined forces to create Double Rainboom — the first fully-animated, fully fan-created episode of the show. With the blessings of Hasbro and DHX Media, Zachary Rich (known as Flamingo Rich) and his friends at the Savannah College of Art and Design have created a real, 22-minute episode as part of his senior project in animation. That’s real as in an orchestral score, voice actors for all of the characters, high-quality sound effects, and more. The plot? Twilight Sparkle (pre-wings) develops a magic potion — which has an interesting effect on Rainbow Dash. The entire film will be released to the world on March 30th. You can visit the Double Rainboom web site to keep up with the crew’s progress.
The Duck Dodgers TV series — based, as if you didn’t know, on the Chuck Jones-directed cartoon Duck Dodgers in the 24th 1/2 Century — ran on Cartoon Network from 2003 to 2005. [My, was it really that long ago? Sheesh... Ye ed-otter] Besides the obvious cast of Daffy Duck as Duck Dodgers, Porky Pig as The Eager Young Space Cadet, and Marvin the Martian as the terrible Commander X-2, the show featured a host of Warner Brothers characters in bit roles — not to mention new characters like the dreaded Martian Queen. The regular voice cast included well-known voice actors like Joe Alaskey, Bob Bergen, Richard McGonagle, and John O’Hurley, as well as Michael Dorn (from Star Trek: The Next Generation) and Tia Carrere (as the Martian Queen). Now Warner Brothers Home Video have (finally!) released the first 13 episodes on DVD in a collection entitled Duck Dodgers – Season 1: Dark Side of the Duck. It’s available now in stores and on-line everywhere.
The Annie Awards are often referred to as The Oscars of Animation. Presented each year by ASIFA-Hollywood (a division of the International Animated Film Society), the Annies celebrate the best in animated films and television as voted on by members of the animation industry from around the world. Needless to say, every year several anthropomorphic works are represented among the nominees — and sometimes even among the winners! On Saturday, February 2nd the Annie Awards for 2012 were presented at a gala ceremony at Royce Hall on the campus of the University of California at Los Angeles (UCLA). Unlike in previous years, this year’s ceremony didn’t really have a “host”: Each presenter basically introduced the next presenter. In the feature film category the night largely belonged to Disney Animation’s film Wreck It Ralph, which won for Music, Writing, Voice Acting (for Alan Tudyk as King Candy), Directing (Rich Moore), and of course Best Animated Feature. Disney/Pixar’s Brave was also represented, bringing home wins for Feature Editing and Feature Production Design. Dreamworks’ Rise of the Guardians also took home awards in two technical categories, Feature Storyboarding and Effects Animation. Over in the TV categories, the biggest winner of the night was Dreamworks’ Dragons: Riders of Berk. In addition to a win for Best TV Production for Children, Dragons won for Storyboarding, Music, and Directing. Dreamworks’ Kung Fu Panda: Legends of Awesomeness won in a single category, TV Editing. In a surprise event, voice actor and animation legend June Foray (who started the Annie Awards herself back in 1973) was honored with the Texas Avery Animation Award — named after animation legend Tex Avery of course, and presented by REEL FX every year at the Dallas International Film Festival. You can find out more about the Annie Awards — and other activities for animation fans — at the ASIFA-Hollywood web site.