Xbox game turned anime series stays one step ahead of the time-travel genre’s traps
throughout its remarkable run. By Charles Solomon.
2000 and 2001, posts began appearing on online bulletin boards from one John Titor, who claimed to be an American soldier from 2036 who had been sent back to 1976 to retrieve an early computer that could help CERN unscramble some old software. Some people believed Titor actually was from the future — until his descriptions about upcoming events proved inaccurate.) Stranger and
Stranger As Okabe and his friends continue their experiments, the discrepancies increase between the version of the present Okabe knew and the one that seems to be taking place around him. Even when the landmark anime and manga stores vanish from their Akihabara neighborhood, only he notices the difference. Titor tells Okabe that his ability to remember the earlier versions of the past may mark him as the savior who can prevent the establishment of a future dystopia. Messages from SERN warn that he already knows too much.
Like Okabe’s friends, the viewer can never be sure what’s going to happen next — or what really happened previously. Are the texts from Titor genuine? Is he really from the future? Are the threats from SERN real? Could Okabe actually be the hero who saves the future from an oppressive dystopia ruled by SERN? And if he is the “savior,” can he accomplish his mission
It’s the movie that quite literally built the House of Mouse. Long considered Walt Disney’s masterpiece and one of the most influential films among today’s crop of all-star animators, the picture takes us on an iconic journey with the fair princess as she battles a wicked queen. Bonus features include: In Walt’s Words: For the First Time Ever, Hear Walt Himself Talk About Snow White; Iconography: Explore How This Film Influences Pop Culture, Art And Fashion; @DisneyAnimation: Designing Disney’s First Princess — Modern-Day Disney Artists Discuss the Design of Snow it an “instant classic” and more than 16 years after its release the film is still popular enough to warrant this DVD re-release. Special features include: two versions of the film – The Iron Giant: Signature Edition (2015) and The Iron Giant: Original Theatrical Edition (1999), feature-length commentaries by director Brad Bird, head of animation Tony Fucile, story department head Jeff Lynch and Giant team of creatures who must preserve and protect the Pride Lands. Kion brings together a group of unlikely heroes: Bunga, a tough but kindly honey badger, Beshte the hippo, Fuli the cheetah and Ono the egret. Like all of us, they fight to maintain balance on the lands they all share and preserve will test his optimism and pluck while Snoopy must battle the Red Baron for domination of the blue skies. The filmmakers took great care to honor the legacy of Charles M. Schulz while finding the right way to introduce these characters to a new generation of fans. The film is also available on BD for $22.99 or 3D for $27.99. Bonus features include 6 Snoopy Snippets, “Better When I’m Dancin’” music and lyric videos from Meghan Trainor, Learn to Draw Snoopy, Woodstock and Charlie Brown, Get Down with Snoopy and Woodstock music video, a behind the scenes of “Better When I’m Dancin’” featurette and Snoopy’s Playlist.
Dear animation student:
Here’s a secret: I am so totally jealous of you! What could be better than spending four years eating, sleeping and breathing animation? You get to learn animation history, you get to study movement in cartoons from all over the world and you get to unravel cool anecdotes like why a teapot is an in-joke in CG modeling and rendering. Not to mention the fact that it’s now okay to doodle in class.
Sure you’re stressed out about grades and landing a gig after graduation, but seriously — right now — your job is to immerse yourself in all things cartoons.
What could be better than that?
Here’s another secret: My job, as an executive producer — and that, by the way, is just a fancy title for a crazy person who attempts to package ideas and sell them to people with enough money to produce said ideas as TV series or films — is to connive.
I spend my days conniving pitch meetings with development execs; conniving out-ofthe-box deal points so that the parties involved in a potential development deal will actually sign the contract and not walk away from the negotiating table; conniving new ways to keep artists and line producers from melting down during production; conniving a good punch line to fill those awkward moments during Skype calls with inter- national co-producers that inevitably occur after someone just loses it and screams incoherently for eight minutes straight.
And my nights, you might ask? Oh, I spend those worrying about whether or not the dainty cow in my client’s latest concept is truly going to be “aspirational” for a television audience consisting mainly of seven-year-old boys. Sigh … you get the drift? Once you’re out of the wonderful womb that is animation school, you’re toast. I mean, you’re probably really delicious toast with peanut butter and jam, but damn … it all changes when you get a fulltime gig and the tough realities of the working world hit you like an anvil.
Your treasured collegiate moments of “dreaming up cartoons” are going to be hugely curtailed by the mere fact you are now making a living doing what you love. Because — and I know this sounds silly — it’s no longer a dream. It’s that thing you do every day for eight to 10 hours and it can include things like grumpy bosses, disgruntled fellow employees, unreasonable deadlines, weekend overtime and, sometimes, flat out boredom. Sure, it’s awesome to work at a studio and draw, but sometimes … not so much. Sometimes, or maybe most of the time, you’d rather be drawing your own characters and working on your own TV show instead of someone else’s. Just sayin’… That’s why I’m warning you now! You’ve got to spend some of your rare, free, animation school hours — when you are in total cartoon immersion — coming up with
hen you’re a recent grad or an independent animator looking to break into the industry, it can be a daunting endeavor. That doesn’t mean, however, that it is impossible. You need to educate yourself about the current state of the industry, what’s happening where, and how to best approach the beginning of your career in this ever-evolving world of animation.
First off, let’s address the sore subject of what has happened recently here in the United States, in both animation and visual effects. Well, in short, many U.S. facilities have opened up shop in — or just flat out moved their facilities to — other countries where the tax incentives are just too good to pass up from a business standpoint.
We’ve seen a huge boom in Canada. Vancouver has become a major hub for both animation facilities as well as visual effects houses that bid on the VFX work needed for feature films, and then create those segments. Vancouver also boasts a thriving television marketplace, and is home to many outstanding studios.
Additionally, the United Kingdom has been garnering much of the work in visual effects in the last 10 years. Many of the best visual effects houses that call London home also have sister facilities in Vancouver and now Montreal. Toronto is also part of the boom, but Vancouver and Montreal remain in the lead as far as the types of houses and scope of work produced in those locales.
We’ve also seen this trend with China and India. The difference is that Chinese and Indian animation and visual effects studios often only provide the back end of the production pipeline, but this is changing as more overseas facilities are creating their own content and distributing internationally.
There are other countries where animation and visual effects are booming: Australia, Singapore and France, to name a few. This is a global industry now, period. You will need a passport, regardless of what country you currently reside in or where you think you will stay. Imagine losing out on a big break or job only because you don’t have a passport ready to go? Also, open yourself to the reality that you may be living in numerous countries over the course of your career. Embrace this fact and enjoy the scenery and cultures you will experience, and you’ll be much more successful than your peers who may limit themselves hugely by only looking at one part of the world for opportunities.
Clearly there are many areas of industry that require animation or visual effects talent, not just film and TV. The world of video gaming and television commercial work could be a 20-page write-up in itself. The main thing, as an animator or any artist in the pipeline (modelers, riggers, lighters, fur and cloth, compositors, etc.), is to understand where your strengths lie and focus on no more than two or three disciplines. There are a million “jack of all trades, master of none” journeymen artists, and you don’t want to be in that category.
Also, it is key to remember this point as you approach facilities: the bigger the house, the more compartmentalized the pipeline. If you are working at a small to medium size game, TV or film house, you may touch many parts of the pipeline. If you are working at a large facility, you will only be doing one or possibly two types of work. So make two reels when you are starting out, one for smaller houses and one for the mother ships.
Also, if when hearing the word “animation” your brain only triggers a certain genre — be it your favorite video game, a TV show you love, or well known characters from a huge animated feature film — it’s time to broaden your scope. Animation takes form in so many different ways, and in so many different arenas. If at first you approach your dream companies and get nowhere, consult your magical friend the Internet and start sending your reel and resume to other companies that may give you your first foot-in-the-door opportunity.
Another key point: Know who you are as an artist. Do you prefer cartoony animation or is your passion more in photoreal character animation? For instance, there is a tremendous amount of animation done in both live-action films and TV shows at heart. Creature animation is its own animal (no pun intended), and many artists find that working on fictional beasts is more fulfilling and exciting to them than working only on CG animated characters. Being able to work in various styles is great, but when starting out, go towards what you love.
All in all, it’s a great time right now to be an artist simply because there is a tremendous amount of production happening in both animation and visual effects globally. It’s always been a challenge to break in and get that first job, but many facilities are opening more positions up for talented people that can be groomed and move up the ranks. When you get this opportunity, show up early, listen, work hard, play well with others, absorb the amazing wealth of knowledge that surrounds you in the form of more senior colleagues, and you will be on your way to a happy career.