Animation Magazine - - Front Page - Tom McLean Edi­tor tom@an­i­ma­tion­magazine.net

Can it re­ally be that time of year? It seems like we were just talk­ing about awards sea­son con­tenders and watch­ing all the events ramp­ing up to the Os­cars. And, yet, here we are again! And this year’s awards sea­son has the po­ten­tial to be one of the most in­ter­est­ing in the his­tory of an­i­ma­tion. That’s be­cause there’s more qual­i­fy­ing films than ever be­fore — and more high-qual­ity films telling sto­ries in all kinds of gen­res us­ing any num­ber of tech­niques. And that means the race could have more than its fair share of wild cards and sur­prises. We run down the list of the most likely con­tenders in this is­sue — a quick read will tell you who we see as the front-run­ners at this point. But with these words be­ing writ­ten in mid-Oc­to­ber, there’s still plenty of curves that might come our way.

Among them are the films cov­ered in this is­sue: DreamWorks An­i­ma­tion’s Trolls, the last film to come out of the stu­dio un­der the lead­er­ship of its founder, Jef­frey Katzen­berg. Since I first saw at An­necy some of the work that went into this one, I’ve been look­ing for­ward to see­ing its candy-col­ored, felt-cov­ered, tune-fo­cused tale in full — and I wasn’t dis­ap­pointed. Jef­frey had a great run and it’ll be a blast to watch what hap­pens next at DreamWorks un­der the con­trol of Com­cast-NBCUniver­sal and Chris Meledan­dri.

Then there’s The Red Tur­tle, which I also saw at An­necy, and was im­pressed in a to­tally dif­fer­ent way. There’s no di­a­logue in this movie — just stun­ning vi­su­als from Stu­dio Ghi­bli and a po­etic tale that en­chants, puz­zles and de­lights all at once. And 25 April is an­other ex­am­ple — as we saw last is­sue with Tower — of the out­stand­ing ways doc­u­men­tary film­mak­ers are us­ing an­i­ma­tion to ex­plore his­toric events with an im­me­di­acy no other medium can of­fer.

What else? We have our an­nual View from the Top fea­ture, in which we sur­vey direc­tors of some of the year’s top fea­tures about the mak­ing of those movies, their ca­reers and the state of the busi­ness. (I have to agree with most of them, in that the an­i­ma­tion in­dus­try is in ex­tremely good health.) We also run down the con­tenders for Os­car’s an­i­mated short film cat­e­gory, a no­to­ri­ously dif­fi­cult race to parse out in ad­vance. But our track record has been pretty good at cast­ing a net with this fea­ture that catches the even­tual nom­i­nees, mak­ing it a must-read for awards fans.

As a bit of an ex­per­i­ment, we have a small mini-spe­cial in this is­sue as well, fo­cus­ing on sound and mu­sic in an­i­ma­tion, and the ways those fields are cross­ing over and play­ing off each other in to­day’s in­dus­try.

And then we get to An­i­ma­tion Mag­a­zine’s own World An­i­ma­tion & VFX Sum­mit, which in its fifth year con­tin­ues to grow and find new depths to plumb. This year sees our Awards Gala out­grow the main site for the show, the Cal­i­for­nia Yacht Club, and head up the coast to Santa Mon­ica and the Ho­tel Casa del Mar, just ad­ja­cent to the world-fa­mous Shut­ters on the Beach. This change was es­sen­tial to ac­com­mo­date the star power that will be on hand that night, as we present hon­ors to six of the in­dus­try’s most am­bi­tious, im­por­tant and suc­cess­ful lead­ers. It will have to be seen to be be­lieved — I know I’ll be there, and I hope you will be, too! It’s not too late to check out the fes­tiv­i­ties and ac­cess an in­cred­i­ble range of ex­per­tise through the pan­els and net­work­ing op­por­tu­ni­ties this year’s sum­mit of­fers. Head over to www.an­i­ma­tion­magazine.net/sum­mit for de­tails.

Lastly, as an­other year be­gins to sink be­low the hori­zon, I want to say what a priv­i­lege it is to work among an in­dus­try as full of tal­ented, pas­sion­ate and just plain nice folks as an­i­ma­tion and vis­ual ef­fects. I want this mag­a­zine to rep­re­sent the best of this in­dus­try and to be a voice for those who work in it. So please, feel free to drop me a line or bend my ear at the sum­mit or any other event you spot me at. I want to know what’s go­ing on at ev­ery level of the in­dus­try and rep­re­sent it as best as pos­si­ble.

Un­til next is­sue,

Se­ri­ous Lunch has se­cured a raft of deals for the en­chant­ing fam­ily ad­ven­ture se­ries Ronja, the Rob­ber’s Daugh­ter across mul­ti­ple ter­ri­to­ries and plat­forms.

Based on the book by Astrid Lind­gren and di­rected by Goro

Cy­ber Group Stu­dios an­nounced its first an­i­mated fea­ture film for dis­tri­bu­tion at MIP Ju­nior: Iqbal, Tale of a Fear­less Child.

Based on the book by Francesco D’Adamo and de­vel­oped with the spon­sor­ship of UNICEF, the movie was ony Pic­tures An­i­ma­tion an­nounced that Emmy and Tony award win­ner Brent Chambers, founder and cre­ative di­rec­tor of Auck­land, New Zealand­based Flux An­i­ma­tion, died of heart fail­ure Oct. 1. He was 54.

Michiyo Ya­suda, an an­i­ma­tor and color artist whose four-decade ca­reer in­cluded a span at Stu­dio Ghi­bli from its first fea­ture ( Cas­tle in the Sky, 1986) to Hayao Miyazaki’s last fea­ture ( The Wind Rises, 2008) died Oct. 5. She was 77. [

Any Pal­adin-at-heart would adore this bold, beau­ti­ful Voltron ring from geek-bling de­signer to the stars, Han Cholo. The sculpted face ring is done in gold- and sil­ver-tone steel with black CZ stones (and yes, it is an of­fi­cially DWA li­censed prod­uct). Avail­able in sizes 9-11 from ThinkGeek.com for $60. Both high-end de­sign­ers and high street shops are dig­ging Looney Tunes this sea­son. H&M (pic­tured: long-sleeve tee, SRP $25) and Zara of­fer kid and adult op­tions for af­ford­able fash­ion state­ments, or you can splurge on women’s wear from Ice­berg or Paul & Joe’s Sis­ter X Tom & Jerry cap­sule.

OH MY, MOOMINS! It’s been a busy few years for Tove Jans­son’s lov­able Moomins brand, and the marsh­mal­lowy trolls and their sto­ry­book pals aren’t slow­ing down any­time soon. Their first theme park out­side of Fin­land (Moom­in­world on Kailo is­land) is set to open in Ja­pan in 2018 (Metsä, at Lake Miyazawa), and in the mean­time Moomin Cafes are pop­ping up all over — lately in Bangkok, Seoul and Hong Kong,

Among the many new prod­ucts avail­able: Ivana Helsinki’s ex­ten­sive Moomin col­lec­tion of women’s at­tire and hand­bags fit for a Snork­maiden (shop.ivana­helsinki.com). “Snowhorse” win­ter 2016 mug and “Friend­ship” col­lectible table­ware by Ara­bia. And a new spin on a clas­sic from lead­ing toy li­censee Martinex, which has cre­ated a new Moomin House play­set with char­ac­ters which link into an iOS & An­droid app game. (shop.moomin.com) — [toys­rus.com] LEGO TIE Striker 75154 543 pieces, 4 minifigs ($69.99) JAKKS Big-Figs K-2SO 20” tall ($19.99) HAS­BRO The Black Se­ries Sgt. Jyn Erso 6” col­lec­tor qual­ity ($19.99)

7The Asia TV Fo­rum & Mar­ket in Sin­ga­pore high­lights dis­tri­bu­tion in­no­va­tion and VR sto­ry­telling for three in­for­ma­tive days. [asi­atv­fo­rum. com]

The ubiq­ui­tous toy Trolls, with their “ugly-cute” faces, stubby bod­ies and swirling tufts of hair, are fa­mil­iar to al­most ev­ery­one, and yet known not at all. Cre­ated in 1959 by Dan­ish fish­er­man Thomas Dam, the Trolls have, sur­pris­ingly, never been adapted to books, TV or movies, mak­ing them a rare op­por­tu­nity for film­mak­ers: a well-known prop­erty that is also a com­pletely blank slate.

It was that com­bi­na­tion that ex­cited di­rec­tor Mike Mitchell when DreamWorks An­i­ma­tion founder and CEO Jef­frey Katzen­berg pre­sented to him the op­por­tu­nity to de­velop and di­rect a Trolls movie.

“I just went crazy for it,” says Mitchell, who pre­vi­ously di­rected Shrek For­ever Af­ter, as well as Alvin and the Chip­munks: Chip­wrecked and SpongeBob SquarePants. “It re­ally gave us a chance to cre­ate a whole world, a whole land and a whole story and a whole back­story for these crea­tures that didn’t ex­ist be­fore.”

The start­ing point for the movie was the idea of hap­pi­ness — what it is, how to get it, what hap­pens when you lose it. “We thought it was im­por­tant in these kind of, times of tur­moil, I’ll just say — so­cial un­rest — that we could have a film that could deal with the is­sue of what does hap­pi­ness mean,” says co-di­rec­tor Walt Dorhn, a fel­low vet­eran of the Shrek and SpongeBob fran­chises.

It also gave Mitchell a chance to bring to a CGI film the sur­real, fairy-tale es­thet­ics he ad­mires in the movies of Hayao Miyazaki and in the Car­toon Net­work TV se­ries Ad­ven­ture Time.

“He just cre­ates a com­pletely unique world that I’ve never seen be­fore — and on top of it he pop­u­lates it with crea­tures I’ve never seen be­fore, and they all seem to fit within those worlds. There’s a real con­ti­nu­ity to it,” Mitchell says of Miyazaki. “Wouldn’t it be great to honor that and be in­spired by it, but at the same time still give it that West­ern in­flu­ence and re­ally strange, ir­rev­er­ent com­edy?”

Throw­ing those ideas in with the sur­re­al­ity of Ad­ven­ture Time and other in­flu­ences from Jim Hen­son and Dr. Seuss to the 1970s and Sid and Marty Krofft TV shows, the world was handed off to pro­duc­tion de­signer Kendal Cronkhite to ex­e­cute.

The re­sult is what the film­mak­ers ended up call­ing “fuzzy im­mer­sion”: a world that looks hand­made, with ev­ery­thing cov­ered in brightly col­ored nat­u­ral fibers — mostly felt — yet also pho­to­re­al­is­tic and deep at the same time.

“CGI tech­nol­ogy is so so­phis­ti­cated now and so re­al­is­tic, you can make any­thing look su­per real,” says Mitchell. “So for this, we wanted to take that tech­nol­ogy and go a dif­fer­ent way. We made these crea­tures like Gummi Bears that have been flocked in vel- vet. In­stead of mak­ing a re­al­is­tic tree … we wanted to cover that tree in felt, and ev­ery leaf in felt, and maybe the ground is car­pet and even the rocks are felted. And even the dust and all the ef­fects kind of fol­low this kind of hand­made nat­u­ral fiber ma­te­rial look that is ba­si­cally just sur­fac­ing, but it’s sur­fac­ing I haven’t re­ally seen ex­plored.”

Op­po­sites At­tract In this set­ting, the film tells the tale of Poppy (Anna Ken­drick), the hap­pi­est of all Trolls, and Branch (Justin Tim­ber­lake), the only pes­simist in the group, who must team up to go res­cue Poppy’s friends af­ter they’re cap­tured by hun­gry Ber­gens.

“So Trolls, they would rep­re­sent ev­ery­thing that is hap­pi­ness, and then of course you need the flip side of that and so we have these other crea­tures — in a clas­sic fairy tale way — these mon­sters that eat Trolls, so they’re mis­er­able and they’re on

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