4- 7Over 10,000 people will descend on Cannes for MIPTV, which this year features a focus on Germany and the International Emmy Kids Awards. [miptv.com]
Mowgli and his animal friends and foes get the live-action/CG treatment in Jon Favreau’s The Jungle Book.
CCartoon Network takes a more modern, character-driven approach in updating
for a new generation. By Tom McLean.
raig McCracken’s The Powerpuff Girls was one of Cartoon Network’s most iconic hits during its original run from 1998 to 2005, enjoying huge success as a program and as a licensed property while helping to define the Turner outlet’s identity.
So more than a decade after Bubbles, Buttercup and Blossom last saved Townsville from one of the monstrous threats that emerged in almost every episode, The Powerpuff Girls are back in an all-new animated series debuting April 4 on — where else? — Cartoon Network.
With McCracken having moved on to Disney, where his most-recent show Wander Over Yonder just concluded its award-winning second (and final) season, Cartoon Network stayed in house by tapping Adventure Time art director Nick Jennings and Clarence supervising producer Bob Boyle to run the show.
“I’m a huge fan of The Powerpuff Girls and always have been,” says Jennings, executive producer on the new series. “It was pretty groundbreaking at the time ... So to reboot it 15 years later and give it a new modern spin was a great opportunity to take something that we loved originally and try to give it a spin for more of today’s audience.”
“It’s a great universe that we all love and were influenced by, and there’s lot to play around with,” says Boyle, whose title is coexecutive producer. “I think storytelling is different now than it was 15 years ago when the show premiered, so it seemed ripe for some updating.”
Jennings says the network had few directives for the show. “They weren’t mandating anything specific, other than just give it some kind of modern spin, turn it into something that is fresh with kind of a new vibe,” he says.
Storytelling Evolves With a largely blank canvas, Jennings and Boyle analyzed the show to figure out which parts were timeless and essential and what needed to change to give it a modern feel.
“In general, the way we tell stories now, we tend to be a little more character driven,” says Jennings. “The original show, you could dig only so deep with the characters and then you didn’t really get to know them any more than Blossom is the leader, and Buttercup’s the angry one.“
Figuring out and understanding in detail the characters’ personalities not only made them more relatable, Jennings says, it created fresh material the writers could mine for stories.
Along the way, a number of different takes on the idea of three cute little girls who also are tough-as-nails superheroes were pitched. Among them: having the girls attend superhero school or sending them into the future. “Ultimately, we came back to these are really great, strong characters and there’s not a whole lot that you have to change,” says Boyle.
But there are some changes. The most obvious one is that while the girls are still young, they are no longer in kindergarten — a change that Boyle says opened up a lot of story possibilities. “Moving them into K through 12 opens up opportunities for different classes, different teachers; they can have lockers and club sports, kids of different ages,” he says.
out to make the Dark Ages a little bit lighter and a lot more fun. Selling points: The series is based on the highly entertaining short film 850 Meters from Joeri Christiaen, who is directing the show and previously served as director and writer for Plankton Invasion. As Canal+ kids programming director Laurence Blaevoet said in last year’s production announcement: “Modern everyday heroes accomplish extraordinary challenges, in incredible settings worthy of a classic chivalry film – all with tremendous humour. This show genuinely has all ingredients of a great show.” Broadcasters: Canal+ Family, Teletoon+ (France); Super RTL (Germany); VRT-Ketnet, RTBF-Ouftivi (Belgium) Produced by: dios Distributed by: Viacom International Media Networks (R7.N7) Created by: Dave Cooper and Johnny Ryan Format: 40 x half-hour Target Audience: Kids Type of Animation: 2D HD Synopsis: Four extremely unlikely roommates get into all kinds of comedic hijinx as their absurd life situations intertwine in this Nick hit. Viewers tag along as Pig (the foolish one), Goat (the emotional artist), Banana (the surly wise-guy) and Cricket (the brains of the bunch) deal with their very different problems in and out of their treehouse pad, which inevitably come together in the end. Selling points: Creators Dave Cooper and Johnny Ryan bring years of comics experience to their first show, which Nickelodeon U.S. re-upped for a second season before it even premiered. Executive producer and co-writer David Sacks ( Simpsons, Regular Show) adds to the creative pedigree. International broadcast interest is starting to pick up for the show, which makes its MIPTV debut this year after premiering last summer, so the time to jump on the Pig Goat Banana Cricket train is now. Broadcasters: Nickelodeon (U.S.), YTV (Canada), Antena 3 (Spain) Produced by: Productions Distributed by: D11) Created by: William & Cazenove Format: 52 x 11 Target audience: Kids 6-10 Type of animation: 2D Synopsis: Sibling conflict leads to comical situations in this slice-of-life show about seven-year-old Marine and 13-year-old Wendy. Wendy just wants to be a grown-up and get through the ups and downs of teenhood in one piece, while Marine is still a hyperactive, naive child who is always coming up with crazy ways to get her sister’s attention. Selling points: Based on the best-selling comic books by William & Cazenove (Bamboo Édition), the show’s “focus on strong characters and relatable sisterly bond make for a compelling, laugh-out-loud comedy filled with themes that every kid can relate to,” says Jetpack CEO Dominic Gardiner. Commissioning broadcasters M6 and Canal+ clearly agree. Broadcasters: Produced by: 2 Minutes, Doghouse Films Distributed by: About Premium Content (P-1.E68) Format: 52 x 13 (Delivery Q1 2016) Target audience: Kids 6-10 Type of animation: 2D HD Synopsis: Being a pre-teen is hard enough, but for Zoli things get even crazier when his estranged father suddenly shows up … having been transformed into a dog. In addition to putting up with his organic food-obsessed stepfather, irritatingly popular stepbrother, a half sister who’s a genius and a mother who’s an out-there conceptual artist, Zoli must get reacquainted with his real dad now trapped in the furry body of the family pet. Selling points: In addition to a creative concept that puts the modern family sitcom set-up in a new light, Zoli & Pokey features a distinct, quirky and colorful design scheme. Key creatives include series director Jacopo Armani, an award-winning animator who has worked on both sides of the Atlantic, and writers Sophie Decroisette ( K3, Heidi, Code Lyoko) and Anna Frégonèse ( Atomic Betty, SantApprentice). Broadcasters: Gulli (France) [
Cannes is going to get a little bit glitzier this year as with the addition of the awards ceremony.
The nominees in the animation-related categories are:
Preschool Bing — Acamar Films Production / Brown Bag Films, United Kingdom LazyTown — Cartoonito / Turner Broadcasting Systems Europe, Iceland O Zoo da Zu — Discovery Latin America / Boutique Filmes, Brazil
Cuby Zoo, also a 52 x 11 min. series, is a 3D CG-animated preschool comedy about cubeshaped animal characters. The series is a co-production of Mondo and South Korea-based Aurora World Corp., which previously teamed up for YooHoo & Friends. Cuby Zoo launched recently on EBS in South Korea, with sales to other territories expected soon. Going Abroad Both series have sales offers on tap and Mondo plans to target markets first in EMEA, then Asia and Latin America.
The support from Aurora World, a successful toy manufacturer in South Korea, means there is plenty of licensing and merchandising support in that country for Cuby Zoo, as well as ongoing support for YooHoo & Friends. More global efforts will be rolled out at the Licensing Expo show, set for June 21-23 in Las Vegas, where Mondo also will work on expanding licensing for Sissi: The Young Empress.
Roberta Puppo, Mondo’s international censing and marketing manager, says MIPTV and its sister show MIPCOM remain the most important markets for breaking new shows.
“We consider and look at both MIPTV and the MIPCOM as the major display windows of any new show,” she says. “Many other important markets and events are taking place, and day after day are becoming as important, but it remains that MIP is the one date everyone makes sure they never miss.” [
Long a powerhouse producer of television, Germany’s growing reputation as a producer of top-notch animation and visual effects has started to achieve its full effect.
The nation is both the focus country for this year’s MIPTV, as well as the home of the FMX conference and Stuttgart Festival of Animated Films.
According to organizers, German companies have the fourth biggest presence at MIPTV and MIPCOM and Germany is the world’s second-largest television market, with more than 40 million TV households. The market is showing growth across all sectors, with an increase in co-productions and tax incentives attracting more productions to Germany.
On the animation side, Germany’s output has so far failed to keep pace with the highprofile projects coming out of its neighbors such as France, the United Kingdom or Russia.
Though only a handful of animated features are made in Germany each year, and its animated television content is not sold as far and wide as other nations’ content, the perception of the country as a tech powerhouse, but not a creative one, is changing.
This year’s Annecy festival has four German shorts in competition. And one of the hits of Cartoon Movie, The Journey of the Elephant Soliman, is being produced in Germany.
Animation production in Germany is decentralized, which has the benefit of allowing individual states to offer location incentives to studios. There are clusters of animation studios around major urban areas, most notably Hamburg, Berlin and Munich.
Berlin is home to Hahn Film AG, one of the most recognized German animation pro- ducers. Founded in 1980 by Gerhard Hahn, the studio’s specialty is the development and production of 2D and CGI children series. Among its current projects are the TV series Sherazade — The Untold Stories, Mia and Me and Worry-Eaters.
Other studios dot the countryside. Fabian Driehorst of the Hamburg-based studio Fabian&Fred, says the two-man studio has found success with shorts like the 2D Däwit, directed by David Jansen, which premiered at Berlinale 2015 and has screened at festivals from Chicago to Hong Kong. It’s also produced award-winning commercials and now is aiming for bigger projects.
“We are now developing our first animated feature film — our biggest target these days,” says Driehorst.
Similarly, Studio Soi, a studio with about 50 employees in Ludwigsburg, north of Stuttgart, has specialized since its founding in 2D character animation. Its credits include Trudes Tier, The Amazing World of Gumball and Rasmus Klump.
On the visual effects side, Germany is home to studios that have become staples in the credits of Hollywood’s biggest blockbusters. Among them: Scanline VFX, Pixomondo, Rise FX and Trixter.
German studios with current effects projects include Stuttgart-based Luxx Studios ( Independence Day 2: Resurgence), Mackevision ( Game of Thrones), Pixellusion (commercials), Pixomondo ( Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon: Sword of Destiny), Rise FX ( Avengers: Age of Ultron), Scanline VFX ( Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice) and Trixter ( AntMan).
As the demand for high-quality visual effects continues to grow, so will the fortunes of German visual-effects houses. [
Animation Magazine: How do you think FMX has evolved in the last several years? Are there any trends you notice in the types, quantity or quality of presentations?
Jean-Michel Blottière: We don’t want FMX to get bigger in size, but to get more and more influential. For this reason, talks about business models and access to finance constitute an integral part of the program, as well as the VES and FMX CEO Summit and Commercials Summit – two invite-only events for decision makers from the industry. In addition, the Directors’ Panel assembles renowned personalities such as Steve Martino (director for The Peanuts Movie) and Kevin Margo (director for Construct). These platforms come to life because more and more key people come to FMX from year to year.
Animag: What do you think makes FMX an essential event for VFX professionals to attend?
Blottière: We offer an event that is comprehensive, high level and intimate. We bring together communities that are not necessarily in close contact — animation, VFX, visual arts for games, VR, transmedia — and we cover various aspects of each community — art, technology, business. We offer a program with a strong structure, which allows people to understand quickly where they want to go and what they want to listen to.
Animag: How many attendees do you expect this year? And can you give us an idea of who attends and from where they come?
Blottière: In 2015, FMX had 3,200 visitors per day. These visitors came from 55 different countries. Professionals made up 60 percent of this number, among them one third that held management or senior management positions. Thirty percent of all attendees were female. We expect approximately the same number of attendees this year, maybe even an increase in the numbers for female attendees and management.
Animag: What is your personal favorite part of attending FMX?
Blottière: I love the feeling of creating this moment of collective intelligence, which makes us fly higher than usual for four days. [