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Ponies… In… Spaaaaace!

Yes that trope gets used a lot, but anyway… Word has slipped out that Hasbro is hard at work on a sequel to the 2017 animated film My Little Pony: The Movie. According to the Idea Wiki, the plot goes like this: “A giant whirlwind sends Onyx Star, Adonis, the weasels, Nike, Discord and the ostriches to outer space and they need to get back home to Equestria. Along the way, they meet new friends who were also stuck in space years ago, space animals, and evil alien ponies who wanted to capture Onyx and his friends and destroy the Earth with a reliquary-cannon after Groff, Maxil, Zio and their minions sold all of their souls for it.” Got all that? They go on to say: “The film is produced by Allspark Pictures and DHX Media, with animation created once again using Toon Boom Harmony, and is scheduled to be released theatrically on October 2, 2020 in the United States by Lionsgate. It also marks the 10th Anniversary of My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic.” Series favorite Jayson Thiessen is directing again.

image c. 2019 IDW Publishing

The Annie Award Winners for 2018

Your humble ed-otter and his mate got a chance to attend the Annie Awards at UCLA’s Royce Hall recently. Presented annually by ASIFA-Hollywood, the Annie Awards are considered by many to be the Oscars for animation, voted on by folks who work in the industry. And once again, there was plenty of anthropomorphic content to be found among the winners. By far, the big winner of the evening was Sony Pictures’ Spider Man: Into The Spiderverse. The surprise hit from last December not only won the coveted Best Animated Feature trophy, but also took home the Feature awards for Directing, Writing, Character Animation, Character Design, Production Design, and Editing — winning all seven categories in which it was nominated. (Go, Spider-Ham!). Ralph Breaks The Internet had to settle for only one award in Feature Effects Animation, while the 2D animated sequence in Mary Poppins Returns got the awards for Animated Special Production and Character Animation In A Live Action Feature. Also taking home one award was Wes Anderson’s Isle Of Dogs, which got the award in Feature Voice Acting for Bryan Cranston’s performance as Chief. Over on the TV/Broadcast side of things, the big winners were Hilda from Netflix (taking home awards for Best TV Series For Children, Writing, and Character Animation) and Disney’s Mickey Mouse (with trophies for Music, Storyboarding — tied with Rise of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles — and Directing). In TV Character Design, the Annie went to a very anthropomorphic episode of Rapunzel’s Tangled Adventure called “Freebird”. Bojack Horseman did well, winning for TV Voice acting (Will Arnett as Bojack) and Best TV Production overall. Dreamworks’ Tales of Arcadia: Trollhunters won the trophy for Best TV Effects Animation. The award for Best Commercial went to “There’s a Rang-Tan in My Bedroom” (produced for Greenpeace), and the first winner of the brand new Best Virtual Reality award was Crow: The Legend (which we’ve talked about before!). Finally, the Ub Iwerks Award for technical achievement went to the developers of the open source software known as Blender, which of course many furry creators have also used extensively. To see all the winners visit the Annie Awards web site — and remember, nominations for the Ursa Major Awards close on February 16th!

image c. 2019 Sony Pictures

Save the Fuzzlies!

Animation World Network let us know about another new animated series on its way to Nick Jr. “Nickelodeon has set the premiere of their brand-new animated preschool series, Abby Hatcher, created and produced by Spin Master Entertainment… Abby Hatcher tells the story of a little girl with a big heart who helps her friends, the amazing and quirky Fuzzly creatures, fix their mishaps, learn from their mistakes and negotiate their emotions… Abby is an eternally optimistic, kind-hearted seven-year-old girl who loves to lend a helping hand to others and accepts everyone–no matter how different they are. In Abby’s world, humans coexist with Fuzzlies, incredible creatures that each have their own unique abilities that make them special, and Abby’s parents’ hotel is home to many. Together with her best Fuzzly friend Bozzly, Abby goes on wild adventures to fix Fuzzly mishaps and help them in any way she can.” Spin Master Entertainment are the folks who previously gave us PAW Patrol.

image c. 2018 Spin Master Entertainment

Birds in Flight — School

Somehow we missed this — ’till we came across it on DVD! According to Wikipedia, “Top Wing is a Canadian computer-animated television series created by Matthew Fernandes of Industrial Brothers and produced by Industrial Brothers and 9 Story Media Group. Taking place on Big Swirl Island, an island inhabited by birds, Top Wing follows four eager young birds—Rod, Penny, Brody, and Swift—who work together at Top Wing Academy as new cadets to earn their wings by helping their community. With the help of mentor Speedy, the cadets take on different missions for their rescue skills and also help those in need, all while learning important lessons.” You can check it out on Nick Jr.’s web site as well.

image c. 2018 Nick Jr.

Mole Magic

And here’s another project we found out about thanks to Animation Magazine: “A new CG-animated, uplifting TV special featuring an all-star British voice cast is underway! Lending their talents to Master Moley (currently in production) are Star Wars franchise regular Warwick Davis, The Escape star Gemma Arterton, Emmy and BAFTA nominee Charles Dance, two-time Oscar nominee Julie Walters, and Golden Globe nominee Richard E. Grant. The 30-minute special, based on an original story conceived as a bedtime tale by James Reatchlous, will follows the adventures of a mole who wishes to be the keeper of a magic book which has the power to bring peace between humans and moles. Master Moley is being directed by Leon Joosen (animator on Space Jam, The Rescuers Down Under, The Little Mermaid, Oliver & Company, et al), from a script by Ricky Roxburgh (Tangled: The Series) and Arthur Landon.” No word yet on when they plan to complete this, so stay tooned!

image c. 2018 Signature Entertainment

From (Really) Small Screen to… Bigger Screen

More from Animation Magazine. Turns out that a well-known animated app is now being turned into a full-fledged animated TV series. This is from Kidscreen: “9 Story Distribution International has picked up distribution rights to Dr. Panda and will start selling the new 3D-animated series in all global territories except China, Hong Kong, Macau, Taiwan and select MENA countries at MIPCOM… Aimed at kids ages three to six, Dr. Panda is the first 3D-animated series from the same-name kids app developer that has racked up more than 95 million downloads and five million active monthly users since rolling out its first app-connected toy and AR app in 2017. The show is created and co-produced by Malaysia’s Giggle Garage Animations (Origanimals, Kazoops) and Spider Eye Productions (Jungle Junction, Thomas & Friends) in the UK. It’s directed by Patrick Chin and written by Daan Velsink (Panic!, Snapshot, Bingo!) and Chris Parker (Peppa Pig, Shaun the Sheep). Its titular main character tries out new jobs and solves problems with his friends in each episode.” The producers hope to have the new show ready to roll out before the end of this year.

image c. 2018 9 Story

Bear, Bear, Dragon

Animation Magazine recently let us know about two anthropomorphic animated TV series coming from Singapore’s August Media and South Korea’s Studio Gale. First up there’s Tish Tash. “The series centers on young and hugely imaginative Tish, her bear family, and her larger-than-life imaginary friend, Tash. No matter what troubles they face — be it the age-old terror of long, boring car trips or helping Tish’s baby brother not be sad about losing his favorite toy — these special friends can create new worlds around themselves, embarking on imaginative adventures and finding their own creative angle to help solve any problems that life throws at them.” Then there’s Journey of Long, a comedy that “… follows the adventures of a dragon with a dream of becoming the world’s top chef”. Check out the video clip over on YouTube. Both these shows premiered at MIPCOM, and they’re hoping for world-wide distribution in 2019.

image c. 2018 Studio Gale

The Annie Nominations for 2018

Once again the International Animated Film Society (ASIFA) have released  their list of nominees for the 2018 Annie Awards — the Oscars of animation, to many folks. And once again, we’ve had a banner year for animation with Furry content — so there are lots of anthropomorphic movies, TV series, short films, and other goodies among the Annie nominees. By far the furriest film among the nominees for Best Animated Feature is Wes Anderson’s Isle of Dogs — which is also nominated for Character Animation, Production Design, and Voice Acting (Bryan Cranston as Chief). But nominees Early Man, Ralph Breaks The Internet, and even Spiderman — Into The Spiderverse (yes!) had their own Furry content — and each of them are nominated in several categories too. Among the nominees for Best Independent Feature is Tito & The Birds, while one of the nominees for Best Animated Special Production (limited release) is The Highway Rat. England is well-represented in the Best Character Animation in a Live Action Production category (whew!), with both Paddington 2 and Christopher Robin receiving nominations. In the Best Animated Short category check out Lost & Found by Wabi Sabi Studios, while the brand new Best Virtual Reality category includes Crow: The Legend by Baobab Studios and the game Moss by Polyarc. Over on the television side of things, the category of Best Commercial includes four nominees that are very Furry! The rest of the Television categories include a parade of familiar and new Furry titles, including The Adventures of Rocky and Bullwinkle, Bojack Horseman, DinoTrux, Disney’s Mickey Mouse, Hey Duggee, Hilda, Kung Fu Panda: The Paws of Destiny, Rise of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, and Tumble Leaf. Needless to say there are too many cool nominations to list them all here, so head on over to the Annie Awards page and check them out for yourself! The Awards will be presented on February 2nd at UCLA.

image c. 2018 Fox Searchlight Pictures

The Baker and the Painter

By now (hopefully!) you’ve heard of Brush: A Fox Tale, the award-winning CGI short film. It tells the story of an artistic fox who is too shy to tell the pretty vixen next door he has a crush on her — but, his paintings have ideas of their own. Well now, meet the creators: Willi Anton and Faustina Arriola, both graduates from the California College of the Arts. Brush was their joint graduation thesis. Over at Willi’s web page you’ll find his demo reel, showing bits from his work on Brush and other projects. Meanwhile at Faustina’s page you’ll find not only her demo reel of 3D and 2D work, but also examples of her illustrations, and even samples of her work as a voice-over artist.

image c. 2018 by Anton / Arriola