Once again your humble ed-otter was lucky enough to attend the Annie Awards for 2015, presented at UCLA’s Royce Hall on February 6th. Presented by the International Animated Film Society (ASIFA), the Annie Awards honor the best of the animation industry — as selected by members of that industry. Surprising no-one, the night belonged to Pixar’s Inside Out. (It has already won almost every major award it has been nominated for, and of course it’s nominated for an Oscar as well.) Inside Out won in the Best Feature categories for Storyboarding, Editing, Character Design, Music, Character Animation, Production Design, Voice Acting (Phyllis Smith as Sadness), Writing, Directing, and (of course) Best Animated Feature. Bing Bong himself even helped to present some of the awards. (*sniff* Bing Bong…) A few other features managed to sneak in awards, and some of them were even for animal characters! The Good Dinosaur won in the category of Best Effects Animation. (It’s been celebrated far and wide for its realistic backgrounds and water effects.) And The Revenant won Best Animated Character In A Live Action Production for the bear that nearly eats Leonardo DiCaprio. Over in the TV and other divisions, furries were well-represented in several award categories. Disney’s new Mickey Mouse Shorts won for Best Storyboarding, Best Music, and Best Editing. ASIFA favorites. Dreamworks TV had two wins, as Dragons: Race to the Edge won for Best Character Animation and The Mr. Peabody and Sherman Show won for Best Production Design. Previous Annie favorites Tumble Leaf and Wander Over Yonder won for Best Production for Preschoolers and Best Production for Children, respectively. Psyop (home of those infamous Orangina commercials!) won Best Commercial for their Coca Cola ad Man and Dog, and Best Animated Game went to the monster adventure Evolve from 2K. [To save space, tomorrow we’ll tell you about the special awards presented at the Annies — and why you should care!] You can find out more about all of these and more over at the ASIFA Hollywood web site.
[We hope you all had a Merry Christmas — and have a safe New Year!]
Bear Story is a short CGI animated film by Gabriel Osorio at Punkrobot Studios in 2014. Since then it has won over 50 international awards in the animation festival circuit. According to an article at The Wrap, the film “…is an ingenious, dazzling piece of 3D animation, the sad story of a lonesome bear who builds an elaborate mechanical diorama in an attempt to remember (and perhaps recover) the life he used to live with his wife and son, before he was ripped from his home and sent to a circus. But audiences in Osorio’s native Chile immediately know that it’s more than that — it’s also an allegory for the way families were torn apart during the murderous Pinochet regime in Chile in the 1970s.” Bear Story has been short-listed for an Academy Award for 2015. You can see a short making-of film and a trailer for it over at the Punkrobot web page.
Over at Cartoon Brew there’s an article about Wish Police, the next big film project to come out of Reel FX (home of Free Birds and The Book of Life). “Based on a novella of the same name by Daniel Nayer, Wish Police takes place in a world where children’s bad wishes come to life as mayhem-making villains, and a secret organization called The Wish Police must work full-time to apprehend the evildoers. The Wish Police are led by Saul, an ex-genie determined to atone for centuries of granting his masters’ evil wishes, and Kong, a wise-cracking monkey and royal pain in the leg. In the film, Saul and Kong must break their personal rules and team up with a 12-year-old boy named Randy who has made a particularly bad wish and unleashed the most powerful wish villain ever seen.” The film is to be directed by three young filmmakers from Spain, Adrian Garcia, Alfredo Torres, and Victor Maldonado, “who are collectively known as Headless”. The CGI film is being produced by Kirk Bodyfelt (Cloudy with A Chance of Meatballs 2) and written by some folks who worked on Kung Fu Panda. The film is scheduled for release in late 2017.
According to Cartoon Brew, Yoyotoki is a young vixen who “…was raised with cell phones, computers, and all of the other gadgets and trappings of modern life, but her parents soon got tired of the rat race and decided to move to the countryside, where they encountered a tornado and found themselves in a strange land called Mytholopia, a beautiful world filled with waterfall farms, rainbow forests, and desert canyons.” So says Niki Yang, creator of Yoyotoki: Happy Ears!, a new proposed animated TV series. Ms. Yang is known in animation circles for her work on shows like Fanboy and Chum Chum, Family Guy, Gravity Falls, Clarence, and Adventure Time. Now she’s brought us the adventures of Yoyotoki (and her friends, “…a fantastically elastic gummy bear named Steak and a sloppy pig named Hotwings…”) as her bid to be the next pilot show that’s picked up for production by Amazon Studios. Check out the Cartoon Brew article to find out more about the show and how to vote for it. You can also check out the pilot itself over at Sidereel and see for yourself.
This is direct from Animation Magazine’s web site: “Brown Bag Films and Cyber Group Studios have launched production on Gilbert & Allie, a new animated series that has been acquired by Disney Channel EMEA. Created and directed by Bronagh O’Hanlon, Gilbert & Allie is an odd-couple supernatural comedy about the sparks and spells that fly when a teenage girl discovers she has wizardly powers. Unfortunately, those powers can only be harnessed in partnership with an ancient and extremely grumpy magical rabbit that just wants to retire. Produced in France and Ireland, Allie’s adventures as a wizard-in-training facing the everyday challenges of a teenage girl will be animated in CG, while her visits with Gilbert to the magical realm will be created in 2D. Aimed at ages 8-11, the series will launch on Disney Channel in Europe in 2017.” Aw, those European kids, they get everything! We’ll let you know if we hear any word of Gilbert & Allie being released in North America between now and then.
DHX Media (the production home of My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic, Littlest Pet Shop, and many many more) have recently signed an international distribution deal for a new CGI TV series called Endangered Species. Unfortunately, so far none of those distribution deals include the USA! “The series follows Pickle, Merl and Gull, a bunny, a squirrel and a seagull who might not seem high on the protected species list, but who are constantly on the verge of catastrophic extinction through comical misadventure.” Check out the article over at Animation World Network to find out more.
Animation World Network has a recent article about two more new animated shows that were presented at MIPCON this year — both of them produced by m4e in Germany. Wissper is “… a CGI animated TV-series aimed at young girls ages 4 to 7. Wissper is a perfectly normal little girl, but she has a very special talent: She is the only girl in the world who can talk to animals! Creatures of all shapes and sizes seem to instinctively know that when they have a problem, Wissper will find the solution. This makes Wissper’s house the first port of call for animals in distress.” The first set of episodes are supposed to premier world-wide before the end of December. And then, there’s Atchoo! Another animated series, this time targeted at slightly older boys and girls. You see, there’s this young boy named Teo, with an unusual attribute: When he gets excited or upset, he sneezes… and instantly turns into an animal. Different each time. “The series offers loads of comedy, gags and funny dialogues, but all the fun is aimed at communicating an important message, that difficulties, fears and diversity are not necessarily all bad, but can engender endurance and originality.” That’s what they said folks! Atchoo! is scheduled to hit the world in 2017.
And the embarrassment of riches for anthropomorphic animal movies that is 2016… continues! Once again Cartoon Brew brings us big news: Illumination (home of the Minions and the upcoming Secret Life of Pets) have announced a new CGI film called Sing, coming to theaters in December of 2016. “Of all the animal kingdom films, Sing might be the quirkiest of the bunch. Illumination founder and CEO Chris Meledandri explained during an Annecy keynote earlier this year that conceptually ‘The starting point for the movie was, for me at least, looking at what the role of a producer is’. The producer in Sing will be a koala named Buster Moon, voiced by Matthew McConaughey, who runs a vaudeville-style theater. ‘He creates wonderful entertainment out of nothing’ Meledandri said at Annecy. If a paean to producers sounds like an unusual topic for an animated film, so does the fact that the movie will have over 85 songs in it. Here’s the set-up which allows that to happen: Buster’s theater has fallen on hard times, and he comes up with an idea to save it by staging a singing competition. Eventually, five lead contestants emerge: A mouse (Seth MacFarlane) who croons as smoothly as he cons, a timid teenage elephant (Tori Kelly) with an enormous case of stage fright, an overtaxed mother (Reese Witherspoon) run ragged tending a litter of 25 piglets, a young gangster gorilla (Taron Egerton) looking to break free of his family’s felonies, and a punk-rock porcupine (Scarlett Johansson) struggling to shed her arrogant boyfriend and go solo. Each animal arrives under Buster’s marquee believing that this is their shot to change the course of their life. John C. Reilly will also lend a voice as Buster’s black sheep pal Eddie.” Got all that? Whew! We’ll keep you informed as we learn more.
[We are so, so sorry for that one…] Earlier this year you may recall we mentioned an upcoming animated feature called Blazing Samurai. Well now thanks to Cartoon Brew we have a lot more information about it! “Arriving stateside August 4, 2017, from AMC Entertainment and Regal Entertainment’s Open Road Films, Blazing Samurai stars Michael Cera, Samuel L. Jackson, Ricky Gervais, George Takei, Gabriel Iglesias, Aasif Mandvi, Djimon Hounsou, Michelle Yeoh, Sandra Tsing Loh, Mel B., Heavenly Joy Jerkins, and Mel Brooks himself as a madcap array of cats and dogs comedically battling for samurai supremacy not in the Wild West but the faraway Japanese East. Co-directed by Alvin and the Chipmunks and Garfield animation supervisor Chris Bailey and veteran Disney animator Mark Koetsier, Blazing Samurai also features art direction from New Mr. Peabody & Sherman Show and Steven Universe’s Kevin Dart. Toronto, Canada-based CG animation and visual effects shop Arc Productions (Gnomeo & Juliet) is the lead animation house.” What’s more, Lion King / Mr. Peabody & Sherman director Rob Minkoff is on board as one of the producers. Quite a lot of big names attached to this project!