Friday, August 24, 2007

The Links of 'Toons

Time again for linkage far and wide on the biz that makes cartoons...

Variety details the robust and expanding French animation industry. (French animation? Mon Dieu!)

...French animation has grown up with an eye toward the international market -- because it has had to.

Coin from French broadcasters typically covers only around 15% of an animation series' production costs, so a project simply cannot get off the ground unless it attracts international presales or co-production deals.

That economic reality, coupled with a plentiful talent pool of animators trained at internationally reputed schools such as Paris' Les Gobelins and La Poudriere, in the South of France, has put French animation up there with the world's best.

The Hollywood Reporter tells us that Hollywood movies are putting more bells and whistles into end credits (which, as we know, can roll on endlessly), including this about Ratatouille...

As several recent movies demonstrate, filmmakers are getting creative with their end credits. They're starting to add a flourish that's akin to an exclamation point at the end of a sentence, giving viewers a reason to stay a bit longer in their seats for a memorable treat....

The end credits for "Ratatouille" came about during the design stage of the movie, when the filmmakers discovered drawings done by fresh-from-Cal Arts grad Nate Wragg. Wragg then was paired with Teddy Newton, who designed the credits for Bird's "The Incredibles."

One reason Pixar went with the 2-D credits was practicality. Bird came into the project so late in the process that all computer resources were diverted to making the main movie.

"We certainly didn't have any more bandwidth to do 3-D," producer Brad Lewis says. "We were maxed out. So that was probably a factor..."

As we did earlier this week, Rob Pegorora in the Washington Post weighs in on the high def wars:

* HD DVD's single most appealing feature is its hybrid-disc option, in which a single disc can contain both a DVD and a high-def version of the movie, meaning you don't have to buy one copy of the movie for viewing at home and another to watch on your computer. But it's been half-ignored in practice, with studios either failing to support it at all or reserving it for new releases.

* Blu-Ray is an extraordinarily lame product name (even if it's no "Xohm").

The only safe move continues to be DVD. Get an "upconverting" player and connect it to an HDTV with high-def video cables, and you'll have a risk-free solution with video quality that falls short of what's capable, but which should also be good enough for most people.

If enough customers do this, the entire format war might end in the most fitting manner possible: a nothing-nothing tie, with lots of injuries on both teams.

(Tech Digest has a cynical view of the Paramount-DreamWorks- Toshiba menage a trois here. And the New York Times has its take here.) The more I think about this, the more insane it seems. No high def in the Hulett household until there's an actual winner.

The Huffington Post's Michael Giltz has some acerbic observations about Political Correctness in films, and this paragraph about Popeye the Sailor (which we've covered before):

The worst sins of these Popeye cartoons include vile stereotypes of Japanese as World War II approached and the sight of two men fighting over a helpless woman. Among the extras are many commentary tracks, quite a number of bonus cartoons and two substantial documentaries, including "I Yam What I Yam: The Story Of Popeye the Sailor, which is relatively frank about the decline of the cartoons after the era covered in this set. (By the Seventies, Popeye wasn't even allowed to hit anyone. What's the point, wondered one animator?)

From Netribution's Nicol Wistreich in the U.K. comes this report on some commies who attack our fine free-market system:

The BuynLarge Corporation's website illustrates a future where one company effectively controls everything on the planet - from industry and media to the world clock, government, and, even North on the compass. If it want's to stop paying tax, it can. It's opponents such as anarchists and anti-consumer groups, are in fact 'customers we haven't reached yet'. To top it all the site is littered with cringable stock photography and a web-standards unfriendly Flash interface.

And the source of this smart (and wet myself funny) illustration of the nightmare Stalinist totalitarian future for unchecked global capitalism? Adbusters, perhaps? Greenpeace or Armando Iannucci or Chris Morris?

It's actually Disney subsidiary PIxar and the new promotion site for 2008's Wall-E....

While we're on the subject of cgi animated features, India is ready to release its first home-grown cg feature (the sub-contracting jobs don't count...)

ICY ‘N’ SPICY is destined to be India’s first 3D full length animation feature film. It is due for release in first week of September 2007.

It is a project which was conceived more than two years back by the young and dynamic director Anil Goyal and was brought to the drawing board nearly 18 months back...

Lastly, old Disney animation chiefs don't fade away, they just move on to new venues and projects:

The newest Disney Theatrical Productions musical, The Little Mermaid — hoping to be a big "part of your world" — officially opens at the Ellie Caulkins Opera House in Denver Aug. 23. The pre-Broadway engagement began its Colorado run July 26.

Directed by Francesca Zambello, the new musical will play in Denver through Sept. 9. Mermaid will then arrive at Broadway's Lunt-Fontanne Theatre, the recent home of Disney's Beauty and the Beast, Nov. 3 with an official opening scheduled for Dec. 6.

Disney Theatrical Productions is under the direction of Thomas Schumacher.

Be excellent to one another.


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