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Here Come the Birds

Not content to have the (as should be expected) “art of Rio 2“, Blue Sky Studios instead bring us The Art of Rio: Featuring a Carnival of Art from Rio and Rio 2.  My, now that’s a title! “From 20th Century Fox Animation and Blue Sky Studios, the creators of Ice Age and Horton Hears a Who!, the musical adventure comedy Rio told the story of how rare Blue Macaws Blu and Jewel met and fell in love in Rio de Janeiro during Carnival. In Rio 2, the pair journey with their 3 chicks to the amazon jungle in search of their wild roots. With over 300 pieces of concept art, character sketches, storyboards and digital paintings, along with interviews with the key animation talent, this book reveals the artistry behind the 2 colorful movies.” It’s put together by Tara Bennett (who’s written and edited several movie tie-in books of the sort), with an introduction by Carlos Saldanha (the director of both films). Look for it at Amazon, where it’s available now in hardcover.

image c. Titan Books

image c. Titan Books

Downloadable Dreamworks

More from the folks at Cartoon Brew: Dreamworks Animation have announced three new CGI animated series they will be producing as part of their mega-distribution-deal with Netflix — and guess what? All three of them are anthropomorphic, in one way or another. King Julian of course follows the adventures of the crazy lemur from the Madagascar movies and the Penguins of Madagascar TV series; Puss in Boots, who needs no introduction; and Veggie Tales in the House, a new iteration of the well-known faith-based animated TV show. All of this follows the 2D animated series Turbo F.A.S.T., which Dreamworks premiered on Netflix last December. The three new series will be available before the end of 2014.

image c. 2014 Dreamworks Animation

image c. 2014 Dreamworks Animation

Just A Farm Animal — Or Not

Over at Cartoon Brew they recently put up an article about a new CGI animated feature film conceived and created by Kirby Atkins (who previously worked on Jimmy Newtron: Boy Genius). It’s called Beast of Burden, and it’s currently in production at Huhu Productions in New Zealand. Not to be confused with the Dark Horse comic Beasts of Burden by Evan Dorkin and Jill Thompson, though: That’s being developed for animation by Reel FX. Mr. Kirby’s project involves an endangered farm-labor animal called a thoriphant — who discovers that there may just be more to their species than anyone has imagined before. To secure financing, the creator and his crew put together a proof-of-concept animated short — you can watch it over on Vimeo. Now, with the backing taken care of, they’re shopping the project around for distribution.

image c. 2014 Huhu Studios

image c. 2014 Huhu Studios

From Peru to London… to the Movie Screen

Head out to the movies lately and you’re likely to see the teaser trailer for the new live-action film Paddington — featuring a world-famous little bear in a blue overcoat and a floppy brown hat. For those not familiar with the star of Michael Bond’s beloved series of children’s books (started in 1958), Paddington is a small, human-speaking bear who travels from the wilds of Peru to England — where he hooks up with a nurturing human family, who name him after the train station where they found him. Paddington has appeared in TV series before (both animated and puppetry), but this is his first feature film. It’s produced by David Heyman (who produced all eight Harry Potter films), and written and directed by Paul King, best known for Britain’s The Mighty Boosh (which, you may recall, had its own fair share of furry content). The movie adaptation stars Colin Firth as the voice of the CGI little ursine star. Check out the article at Yahoo Movies to find out more — and see the trailer. The film comes to theaters in North America this December.

image c. 2014 Studio Canal

image c. 2014 Studio Canal

Neither Snow nor Sleet nor Rain Shall Stop These Bunnies…

If you’ve got to get the bad news (or maybe good news if you’re lucky) about this crazy weather that we’re having, why not get it from a cute little bunny? “Weather Rabbit is a unique combination of weather app and virtual pet that rewards you for keeping your rabbit happy by dressing it in different clothes to match the current weather conditions. It features accurate, up-to-date, local information using your GPS and weather data sourced from Wunderground.com. You can earn new outfits for all four seasons plus more seasonally themed costumes.” This animated app (available on Google Play and The App Store) was created by Rabbx, with character design by Tracy Reynolds. You can find it at the Rabbx web site, too.

image c. 2014 Rabbx

The OTHER Chipmunks

According to an article in Variety magazine, Disney Animation has given the green light to produce a live action Chip and Dale movie. Yes. What’s more, the film’s plot is an origin story for the Chip and Dale Rescue Rangers. This means we get to see not only Chip and Dale but Monterey Jack, Gadget Hackwrench, and the fly known as Zipper all portrayed as CGI characters in the real world, a la The Smurfs or the recent spate of Alvin and the Chipmunks movies. The film is being written and directed by Paul Rugan, previously best known as a director of TV commercials. No word yet on a planned release date or any cast members.

image c. 2014 Disney Animation

The Annie Award Winners

Your humble ed-otter and his mate were honored to once again attend the 2014 Annie Awards, honoring the best in animation from the year 2013.  The event at UCLA’s Royce Hall (on Saturday the 1st of February) was hosted by Patrick Warburton, best known as Kronk from Disney’s The Emperor’s New Groove but also appearing as a voice in the upcoming Peabody and Sherman movie. Though Disney’s Frozen won Best Feature and Best Directing (it was a favorite for both), no film or TV series really seemed to dominate the awards that night. Instead the honors were spread out over a wide swath of projects. Several furry projects — or projects with anthropomorphic characters in them, at least — were honored, which is good when you’re honoring a year like 2013 that, let’s face it, had rather a dearth of heavily furry works — especially compared to 2012. Overall Disney was one of the big winners of the night — no, not Pixar. Disney. Not only did Frozen take home the feature-length honors for Best Picture, Directing, Music, Production Design, and Voice Acting (Josh Gad as Olaf the snowman); but the Disney Mickey Mouse series of shorts won in TV/Broadcast categories for Editing, Character Design, and Music. What’s more, the popular Disney cartoon Get A Horse won the Best Short Subject award. Pixar was represented as well of course, both in feature awards (as Monsters University won for Storyboarding and Editing) and TV/Broadcast (where Toy Story of Terror took home awards for Storyboarding, Character Animation, and Directing). Dreamworks Animation’s biggest winner of the evening was The Croods, which took home feature awards in Character Design, Effects Animation, and Character Animation. In television Tom Kenny received the award for Best Voice Acting for his role as The Ice King in Adventure Time, and the show itself was honored as the Best Production for Children. Some popular furry projects were nominated in several categories but unfortunately the did not win any awards. Among them were the TV series Kung Fu Panda: Legends of Awesomeness and Dragons: Riders of Berk, as well as the French feature film Ernest & Celestine. The Annie Awards are administered by ASIFA-Hollywood, the Southern California branch of the International Animated Film Society (ASIFA). You can visit the Annie Awards web site to see pictures and videos from the event as well as a full list of all the winners for 2013.

image c 2014 Walt Disney Animation

Turtles Got… Lips?

So the Comic Book Movie site has released an image they found showing a much more detailed look at what the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles are going to appear like in the new film directed by Jonathan Liebesman (Battle Los Angeles) and produced by Michael Bay (Transformers, et al). The look is certainly… different, isn’t it? Guess we’ll see more images and probably some footage soon, as the film is scheduled for release this August.

image c. 2014 Paramount Pictures

More Raccoons at the Movies

Bringing yet another well-known video game to the big screen, Sony Pictures have announced that Sly Cooper — The Movie is filming and set for release in 2016. Erik Kain at Forbes.com has the complete story, as well as a link to the teaser trailer. The film is being directed by Kevin Munroe (one of the writers on the TMNT film from 2007) and animated by Rainmaker Entertainment and Blockade Entertainment (both of whom are currently working on the Ratchet & Clank movie, also for Sony). According to the press release, “Sly Cooper is a kinetic and comedic heist film that tells the story of Sly Cooper, an orphaned raccoon thief, along with his childhood friends and partners in crime, Bentley Turtle and Murray Hippo. In the film, Sly learns of his birth family’s secret legacy; that he comes from a long line of talented and international thieves. Endowed with this knowledge, Sly and his friends are catapulted into a global adventure as they race to reassemble pieces of an ancient book holding The Cooper Clan’s family secrets before it can fall into the hands of Clockwerk — an evil Russian metallic owl bent on ending the Cooper family line. ” With the movie not coming out until 2016, we can probably assume that the teaser trailer does not reflect the look or feel of the final film — but it does get the word out and hopefully gets people interested.

image c. 2014 Sony Pictures