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.
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.
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.
We’ve been following this one since we first caught wind of it in Animation magazine, and somehow it snuck by us… and right onto DVD at your local WalMart, no less. Cinderella: Once Upon A Time In The West (known as Cinderella 3D in Europe) is a new CGI feature from France, directed by Pascal Herold. The story is much as you’ve ever heard it before: Cinderella (a pretty pronghorn who can handle her own in a fight) lives with her cruel stepmother and ugly stepsisters (all of them big old hounds)… this time, in a town in the Old West. A handsome prince (also a canine, but much more… handsome) comes into town and… well you know the rest. Or do you? Did we mention the sand pirate monkeys who fly on vultures? Yes, it’s that kind of film! It’s produced by Delacave Studio, and you can check it out at their web site. Oh, the DVD is in English, by the way.
It might seem early in the year to think about it, but the publishers already are: Saturday May 4th is Free Comic Book Day, when various publishers put out special “sampler issues” to be given away at comic book shops across America. First up, IDW Publishing have announced a new full-color tie-in with the hit Ninja Turtles CGI series, featuring art and stories by various people and a color cover by Dario Brizuela. “Jumping from screen to page, it’s Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles New Animated Adventures! This unique series captures the heart of the smash Nickelodeon television show with brand-new stories. Full of action, excitement and laughs, this is the perfect all-ages comic to get you seeing green!!” Check out more of what’s coming on Free Comic Book Day by visiting the official web site.
Pirate 101 (from Kings Isle, the same creators as Wizard 101) is an on-line multi-player role-playing system of pirate adventure and battle — in the sky, no less. Yep, flying pirate ships. It’s a decidedly family-friendly game throughout, though it has “adult” and “child” areas as part of it. The interesting thing is this: As you can see from the preview trailer, and in the picture below, there are plenty of anthropomorphic player characters to be had and played, as well as the more traditional human sort. Visit www.pirate101.com to find out how to get started with the game.
Back to our friends at Cartoon Brew again, swooping in on one of their scoops. Not long ago they reported about an in-development Hong Kong Phooey live action/CGI feature, starring the voice of Eddie Murphy. The film is being developed and directed by Alex Zamm (Beverly Hills Chihuahua 2) and Alcon Entertainment for Warner Brothers. Now, Mr. Zamm has posted a short test-film of the CGI lead character on line, and Cartoon Brew has the link. See what YOU think. (In case the footage gets taken down, Cartoon Brew were kind enough to embed it in their article).
Disney and Pixar have announced an interesting change to their 2013 movie line-up. This is from Jerry Beck over at Cartoon Brew: “Disney has decided to chase after Dreamworks’ Turbo next summer with its new “Cars-inspired” movie: Planes. Disney has just announced it will release this film theatrically on August 9th, 2013. Originally designed to go direct-to-DVD, Planes will now play in theaters all over the U.S. Jon Cryer is voicing the lead plane, “Dusty”; Klay Hall (Tinker Bell and the Lost Treasure), an aviator himself, is directing.” In the same article Cartoon Brew also re-posted the original trailer for Planes, in case you missed it before.
ASIFA Hollywood (part of the International Animated Film Society) announced the nominations for the 2012 Annie Awards this morning. These are the Oscars for animation, folks: Chosen and awarded by members of the animation industry, from writers and artists to animators and directors. As usual, there are a great selection of furry-oriented works among the nominees. This year the nominees for Best Animated Feature include Brave, Frankenweenie, Hotel Transylvania, ParaNorman, Rise of the Guardians, The Pirates! Band of Misfits, The Rabbi’s Cat, and Wreck-It Ralph. Interestingly, two of the “furriest” films of 2012, Madagascar 3 and Ice Age 4, were not nominated for Best Feature — though they were both nominated in other categories. Wreck-It Ralph seems to be the film to beat this year — though both it and Brave were nominated for 10 awards each, Brave was not nominated for Best Directing while Wreck-It Ralph was. For the television categories, furry-notable shows receiving multiple nominations included Adventure Time, Dragons: Riders of Berk, Kung Fu Panda: Legends of Awesomeness, The Penguins of Madagascar, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, T.U.F.F. Puppy, and Doc McStuffins. Once again, My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic was absent from all categories. What is up with that? Anyway, the Annie Awards will be presented in a gala ceremony at UCLA’s Royce Hall on February 2nd of next year. The L.A. Times has a complete listing of the nominees, and tickets to the event can be purchased at the Annie Awards web site.