The View from the Top: The World Animation & VFX Summit
From Oct. 29 to Nov. 1 by the waters of California’s Santa Monica Bay, the 2017 World Animation & VFX Summit celebrates industry achievers and offers expert advice on reaching your own heights. Presented by Animation Magazine, the Halloween weekend event offers panels and speakers covering the business, art and technology of our industry. Attendees will gain insider knowledge from key players, and get a chance to continue the conversation at intimate daily networking meals, breaks and evening parties at the California Yacht Club in Marina del Rey. The opening night sets the tone with a glittering gala in honor of this year’s Hall of Fame Game Changer Award winners, with a cocktail and ceremony at the Hotel Casa del Mar. Lori Forte began her career in feature animation at Disney, establishing herself as the creative executive for Oscar-nominated 1995 feature Toy Story and short Runaway Brain. Forte then became a producer for 20th Century Fox Animation, where she developed and produced the worldwide box-office hit Ice Age movie franchise and received a story credit for Continental Drift. Forte also produced Fox/ Blue Sky’s Oscar-nominated short No Time for Nuts (2006) and the feature Epic (2013). She is currently working on the studio’s December release, Ferdinand. Glen Keane is a 38year veteran of Walt Disney Feature Animation best known for creating and animating legendary characters such as Ariel, Aladdin, Pocahontas, the Beast, and Tarzan. He was also Supervising Animator and Executive Producer on Tangled (2010). Though his animation path began with a slight departmental mix-up at CalArts, Keane quickly fell in love with the medium. He joined Disney in 1974, where he trained under Ollie Johnston, Frank Thomas and Eric Larson. He left the studio to start Glen Keane Productions in 2012, exploring new frontiers of animated expression. Keane is the recipient of the 2008 Winsor McCay Award, 2012 Tex Avery Award, and was named a Disney Legend in 2013. His latest film, Dear Basketball, is a collaboration with Kobe Bryant and composer John Williams. Award to be presented by John Musker (director, Disney’s Moana). Fred Seibert is the founder of Frederator Networks, Chief Creative Officer of WOW! Unlimited Media, and a serial media entrepreneur. With a resume that covers being the first creative director of MTV and the last president of Hanna-Barbera Cartoons, Seibert continues to impact the animation landscape as the head of leading online cartoon network Channel Frederator, indie production company Frederator Studios ( Bravest Warriors, Bee & Puppycat) and Frederator Books, and as part of the WOW! media juggernaut, a merger of Frederator, Rainmaker Ent. and Ezrin-Hirsh. Mark Taylor, as Executive VP of Physical Production, oversees the massive production pipeline delivering DreamWorks Animation’s TV series—including the content for the studio’s multi-year Netflix deal. In 2013, Taylor was hired to create the studio, and tasked with producing more than 1,600 episodes for international distribution. Since then, he’s lead production of 12 award-winning shows, with more than 20 series now in active production, and developed a growing global network of partner studios. Prior to DreamWorks, Taylor helped build and lead Nickelodeon Animation Studio as SVP and General Manager from 1997-2012. Award to be presented by Margie Cohn (Head of Television, DreamWorks Animation). PGS Entertainment was founded by Philippe and Guillaume Soutter in 2008. This award-winning kids’ entertainment financing, brand management and distribution company has partnered on internationally recognized IP including Alvinnn!!! and the Chipmunks (with Bagdasarian Prod. and Technicolor Animation), Miraculous: Tales of Ladybug & Cat Noir ( ZAG and Method), and Emmy winner The Jungle Bunch (TAT). PGS currently has offices in Paris, Hong Kong, Geneva, Barcelona and L.A. Award to be presented by Tom Lynch (CEO, Tom Lynch Company).
To Be Announced:
There are still surprises in store, so stay tuned online and in print for the latest Summit news!
What do you do after creating one of the most popular, trail-blazing animated preschool shows in recent memory? If you’re Doc McStuffins creator and exec producer Chris Nee, you embark on a whole new adventure with another awesome toon that pushes the creative envelope.
Nee’s brand new animated series Vampirina, which debuts this month on Disney Junior and Disney Channel, centers on a delightful family of, um, bloodsuckers, who have recently moved from Transylvania to a Pennsylvania neighborhood. Each episode centers on the adventures of Vampirina (voiced by Isabella Crovetti) and her parents (voiced by Lauren Graham and James Van Der Beek) as she learns to adjust to the normal human world around her.
Speaking from the Disney studios in Burbank, Nee tells us that the whole journey began when she saw a tiny visual development clip of what Disney and Irish studio Brown Bag Films had put together. “Disney Junior had found this book property [by author Anne Marie Pace and illustrator LeUyen Pham] and thought that it would be cool to develop into a series for a preschool audience,” Nee recalls. “The second I saw this character, I just knew I had to help bring her to life. I was just so excited by what she looked like and everything that she represented.”
Finding another property to fall in love with after the amazingly dynamic Doc McStuffins wasn’t going to be easy. “I knew Doc had set the bar really high, but I was really excited by what Vampirina had to say. She represents a kid who is really different, and she can be sometimes hard to be friends with, because she is so unusual, but it’s definitely worth it. She’s a total spark plug, and doesn’t do everything the right way, but her spirit is truly infectious.” The Awesome Irish Connection The show’s preschool-friendly CG animation is co-produced by Brown Bag Films in
eat is always left of the center. They have Yeti Spaghetti, blood orange juice, and love to eat things like eyeball soup or bone soup.”
Yet, the writers were always aware of their special balancing act. Nee notes, “In the beginning, we asked ourselves, was there going to be a day when we all turned around and said, ‘Oh my God, we are doing vampires for preschool!’ How do we honor what is so cool about this world without being in a place where kids might come in scared? At the end of the day, what happens is that you see this character who is so instantly lovable and such a great entry into this space. You know you’re ‘ In the beginning, we asked ourselves, was there going to be a day when we all turned around and said, “Oh my God, we are doing vampires for preschool!’
IDavid Dozoretz and his Digital Dimension team rely on Unreal to render the new animated series. By Ellen Wolff
n the new NBCUniversal-distributed TV series Zafari, one character in particular embodies what this animated children’s show is all about: It’s the elephant Zoomba, who doesn’t have the typically gray skin of his species, but has zebra stripes instead. “We wanted to celebrate being different,” says the show’s creator and director David Dozoretz. “We’re the only show doing mixand-match animals.”
Dozoretz, a former ILM previz supervisor whose many credits include the Star Wars prequels, spent over a dozen years developing Zafari. ILM friends lent their talents to his efforts, including concept artist Iain McCaig ( Star Wars: The Force Awakens, The Avengers). As Dozoretz recalls, “I told Iain about an elephant with zebra stripes, and he did the very first drawings.”
But the character designs aren’t the only examples of the “hybrid’ thinking behind the innovative new show. To create the 52 x 11-minute series, Dozoretz teamed with Digital Dimension in Montreal, Canada, where they are using Epic Games’ Unreal Engine 4 software to render the animation.
Getting Unreal Results Led by Digital Dimension President and CEO Louis-Simon Ménard, the studio was confident that using Unreal for rendering would allow the production team more time to focus on character modeling and animation. Dozoretz confesses he had some skepticism when Digital Dimension first proposed this, but he’s become a believer. He notes, In the last couple of years, people have been offloading rendering tasks from the CPU to the GPU and the game engine has been written for that. Game engines have just gotten to the point where they have the bells and whistles that I needed.”
“We’re doing a number of things with Unreal that people haven’t done before,” Dozoretz explains. “One of things is that we are recording the frames—we want the frames. Most of the time in a videogame you blast the frame to screen and throw it away. We’re actually not doing it in real time— 30 fps—we’re getting about 3 fps—and the reason is because of disk saving. That’s the slow-down. But, in addition, we actually have a version where we don’t save to disk.” Dozoretz observes that his ILM mentor John Knoll actually had used Unreal for some ele-
ages fully lit and in real time in the edit session. So even though the animation is kind ‘ We still have a traditional Maya-based animation pipeline. What I’m able to do that is different is that I can approve a shot at 1:30 in the afternoon, and at 1:40 see it rendered.’ creator/director David Dozoretz
ibly busy time for the team at Rainbow thanks to the growth of media opportunities. The studio’s Winx Club, especially, has become an evergreen property on a global level. “That is why we keep investing in quality, because this will always be the key to stand out in a crowded field. Rainbow is the only one with a full in-house production capacity in Italy—from preschool animation to teen live-action shows. We’ve expanded our production skills to cater to different target groups and genres, and we are really proud of the results achieved. The Italian TV market has become very busy, and with the recent entrance of POP TV to the market, there are now eight free TV channels in addition to pay TV options.”
At the MIP market, Buzzelli and the team at Rainbow will be looking to consolidate their position as a leading licensor and producer as well as signing new partners for 44 Cats. “We also want to publicize our recent acquisition of Iven S.p.A. group (which includes Colorado Film, Moviement, San Isidro and a stake in Gavila srl). This brings new and exciting projects on board for us. Because they specialize in live action for young adults, this acquisition greatly increases our strength in that area, complementing what we’re already doing very Maggie & Bianca Fashion For more info, visit www.rbw.it/en.