New Toon Is the Cat’s Meow!

Animation Magazine - - Tv -

TRain­bow aims for CG purr-fec­tion with its charm­ing new an­i­mated se­ries

here’s a new an­i­mated show de­but­ing at MIPCOM this year that dogs may not be too happy about: Ital­ian stu­dio Rain­bow ( Hun­tik, Winx Club, Re­gal Academy) is of­fer­ing 44 Cats, a charm­ing new 52 x 13 min. se­ries that fol­lows the ad­ven­tures of a large group of fe­lines who act like hu­mans when they’re on their own. The ti­tle of the project is a nod to the pop­u­lar tune “Quar­anta-Qu­at­tro Gatti,” which won a chil­dren’s song con­test in 1968, and has be­come a per­ma­nent fix­ture of Ital­ian cul­ture.

“This is a show that stands out be­cause of the qual­ity of its an­i­ma­tion, the con­tent and the pos­i­tive mes­sages it con­veys to chil­dren ev­ery­where,” says Rain­bow’s SVP of li­cens­ing and ac­qui­si­tions, Cris­tiana Buzzelli. “Au­di­ences will be en­ter­tained as they watch a visu­ally beau­ti­ful se­ries, packed with great ad­ven­tures, but which also pro­motes the val­ues of di­ver­sity, ac­cep­tance, tol­er­ance and [help­ing] those in need.”

Buzzelli hopes that by watch­ing the pos­i­tive ac­tions of the show’s cat char­ac­ters, kids at home will be en­cour­aged to copy that be­hav­ior at home, at school and at play with their friends. “We believe that this is en­ter­tain­ment with a pos­i­tive mes­sage,” she adds. “Kids will ab­sorb the mes­sage and learn that it’s nor­mal to be kind, share, help each other and work as a team, and to live in har­mony de­spite their dif­fer­ences.”

The se­ries’ an­i­ma­tion is a joint ven­ture be­tween Rain­bow’s stu­dios in Loreto and Rome and Van­cou­ver-based Bardel En­ter­tain­ment.

An­i­ma­tion fans in search of some­thing com­pletely dif­fer­ent and quite ir­rev­er­ent would be smart to check out the new se­ries The Jel­lies!, which ar­rives on Adult Swim this month. The brain­child of pop­u­lar rap­per, record pro­ducer and mu­sic video di­rec­tor Tyler, the Cre­ator ( né Tyler Gregory Okonma) and his fre­quent col­lab­o­ra­tor Lionel Boyce, the show fol­lows the mis­ad­ven­tures of a 16-yearold hu­man boy named Cor­nell who is adopted by jel­ly­fish par­ents. When Cor­nell sets out to find out the truth about his real par­ents, the se­ries kicks into high gear.

An­i­mated by the pop­u­lar Brook­lyn-based Au­gen­blick Stu­dios ( Su­per­jail!, Ugly Amer­i­cans), the show al­lows Tyler and Boyce to take their goofy and odd­ball char­ac­ters to wild and sur­real places that push the en­ve­lope. Tyler also pro­vides sev­eral of the voices on The Jel­lies! and wrote the in­sanely catchy theme song. The voice cast also in­cludes Boyce, Phil La­Marr, Blake An­der­son, AJ John­son and Kevin Michael Richard­son

“We just said, let’s make a car­toon that re­ally shows our hu­mor,” says Tyler in a phone in­ter­view. “Let’s just make a show that we want to watch, and that’s ex­actly what we did. I love watch­ing South Park, Fam­ily Guy, Re­cess, Hey Arnold!; I still watch all those shows to this day. My new fa­vorite car­toon is Clarence, though. I love Clarence!” The Need for Black

Rep­re­sen­ta­tion A Comic-Con panel de­voted to Tyler and The Jel­lies! proved to be quite pop­u­lar this past sum­mer. When some­one asked Tyler why the main char­ac­ter of his show was black, he of­fered a frank and pas­sion­ate re­sponse that went vi­ral. “How many f***** black char­ac­ters are there on TV right now?” he asked. “Name clear idea of how ev­ery­thing looked. If you set a scene in a restau­rant, you need to know what the place looks like and what every sin­gle per­son who is at the restau­rant looks like. I also learned that one sin­gle de­tail can make a joke un­funny. But over­all, it’s re­ally cool to see the an­i­mat­ics and watch all the things you were writ­ing come to life. I also think you can get away with a lot more in an­i­ma­tion than in real life.”

All of the show’s an­i­ma­tion is hand-drawn, us­ing Wa­com tablets and Flash, ac­cord­ing to Au­gen­blick. “We also use Pho­to­shop, Af­ter Ef­fects, and Pre­miere. We want the look of the show to The Jel­lies! be­gins its run on Adult Swim on Oc­to­ber 22 at 12:15 a.m.

Be­hind the ivy-cov­ered walls of a large con­tem­po­rary build­ing near West Hol­ly­wood, there’s a statue of Big Foot and one of the most edgy and pro­lific an­i­ma­tion stu­dios in town known as Tit­mouse.

The com­pany named for a sweet lit­tle bird was once just all about mak­ing t-shirts un­til co-founders (and hus­band and wife) Chris and Shan­non Prynoski re­al­ized they could make bank and have fun cre­at­ing an­i­ma­tion. Nearly two decades later, their business has grown to in­clude of­fices in New York, Van­cou­ver and Los An­ge­les. These days, more than 400 an­i­ma­tors, com­pos­i­tors, sto­ry­board artists, writ­ers and ed­i­tors work in-house for the stu­dio.

cred­its are chil­dren’s shows such as Dis­ney’s Goldie & Bear and Ama­zon’s Niko and the Sword of Light. The stu­dio is also ex­pand­ing into vir­tual re­al­ity projects that in­cor­po­rate Google’s Tilt Brush audio re­ac­tive brushes.

“I think it was def­i­nitely word of mouth, be­cause I started out do­ing a lot of stuff in­di­vid­u­ally, and I worked with MTV do­ing more adult an­i­ma­tion,” says Chris Prynoski. “From there you have a lot of stuff that shows a cer­tain kind of an­i­ma­tion so you tend to get more of that work.”

As the com­pany grew and Prynoski started pitch­ing more kids’ shows, that be­came a larger part of what Tit­mouse fo­cused on. But they didn’t drop their sig­na­ture ap­proach even when mov­ing away from adult an­i­ma­tion for other projects.

“I think we have more of a house sen­si­bil­ity than a house style, based on the feed­back we get on so­cial me­dia,” says Prynoski. “There’s a lit­tle some­thing in our hu­mor or the way we do things that’s dif­fer­ent some­how.”

“When I was in high school, my best friend and I would shoot lit­tle movies and things. He de­cided he was go­ing to NYU to go to film school and that made me think that the draw­ing I was do­ing and the movies I was mak­ing could be a job,” says Prynoski. “So, when I was a se­nior I started mak­ing lit­tle an­i­mated movies and I got into the School of Vis­ual Arts in New York.” Beavis and Butt-Head Open Doors Af­ter Prynoski grad­u­ated in 1994, the in­dus­try was go­ing through an adult an­i­ma­tion boom, so he found work on projects such as Beavis and Butt-Head Do Amer­ica, Freddy Got Fin­gered and Liq­uid Tele­vi­sion. The time he spent with di­rec­tor Mike Judge while work­ing on Beavis and Butt-Head gave him a glimpse into run­ning an­i­mated pro­duc­tions and where he’d like to take his skills later. He says he dis­cov­ered early on that it wasn’t his diploma from art school that would take him places. He would need to use his skills as an an­i­ma­tor, pro­ducer and cre­ator to build a ca­reer and a business.

As the business has grown, Prynoski and the man­age­ment team have had to ac­cept that they can’t al­ways be the ones to di­rectly work on each and every project. They’ve grown the com­pany in a way that makes it pos­si­ble to have skilled artists on each show.

“These guys are so key to the run­ning of the stu­dio and to me, they be­came in­dis­pens­able,” says Prynoski. “With some­body like An­to­nio Canob­bio (VP and cre­ative di­rec­tor for Tit­mouse) and the rest of our of­fi­cers, we have a group that can han­dle any­thing that comes our way, and we’re bet­ter with the in­put of all these artists.”

The stu­dio con­tin­ues to cre­ate shows that re­flect its be­gin­nings. Its work on Net­flix’s new se­ries Big Mouth— co-cre­ated by co­me­dian/ ac­tor Nick Kroll, An­drew Gold­berg ( Fam­ily Guy) and writer/di­rec­tors Jen­nifer Flack­ett and Mark Levin ( Lit­tle Man­hat­tan)— re­lies on a more sim­ple style of an­i­ma­tion.

“To make the sin­cere and se­ri­ous mo­ments feel gen­uine, we de­signed Big Mouth’s uni­verse to feel real and re­lat­able,” says Otto Tang, art di­rec­tor for Tit­mouse and the show. “The back­grounds are drawn with a bit more ma­tu­rity and so­phis­ti­ca­tion, com­pared to the ex­ag­ger­ated pro­por­tion of our char­ac­ter de­signs. This gives a lot more space for the writ­ing to jump be­tween ab­surd comedy and se­ri­ous heart­felt sub­ject mat­ter. The art di­rec­tion for this show isn’t some­thing au­di­ences will pay at­ten­tion to. But it will be felt be­neath, sort of like the bass line of a song.”

Gold­berg has been thrilled with Tit­mouse’s work on the show. “Tit­mouse re­ally has a way of do­ing things that sup­ports artists ex­plor­ing how they cre­ate a show,” says Gold­berg. “You see how much they want to be just right for what you’re try­ing to do, so you al­ways have a feel­ing that they’re giv­ing ev­ery­thing.”

Prynoski sees the cur­rent adult an­i­ma­tion boom as part of his Beavis and Butt-Head fans get­ting older but still hav­ing a taste for the rene­gade hu­mor that made that show such a big part of pop cul­ture in the 1990s. The au­di­ence may be ag­ing, but their sen­si­bil­i­ties still leave them crav­ing sim­i­lar shows. With more stream­ing ser­vices hun­gry for an­i­mated con­tent these days, the demand for what Tit­mouse can bring to these projects has also mul­ti­plied.

“It’s a great time for an­i­ma­tion and for us to be in the an­i­ma­tion business be­cause there’s def­i­nitely an au­di­ence for the kind of work we do,” says Prynoski. “It’s great to be part of mak­ing the shows we want to watch.” For more info about the stu­dio, visit www.tit­mouse.net.

Otto Tang in the stu­dio.

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