Editors Picks

Wednesday, 23 August 2017

Bangalore: VFX blitz to hit the City of Palaces

Mysore will host India’s first exclusive film and digital arts festival, which will showcase a buffet of curated films, and the latest in game cinematics, and visual effects.

The ABAI Fest 2013, organised by the Association of Bangalore Animation Industry (ABAI) is aimed at professionals and aficionados of cinema and television, and computer games developers to give them and the audience a taste of what it is to be part of this revolutionary new world of digital content creation. The two-day festival, to be hosted at the Manasa Gangotri complex, University of Mysore, will get under way on December 6.


Explaining the rationale for holding the event in Mysore, ABAI president and country head of Technicolor India, Biren Ghose, told dna, “Globally, animation and media festivals take place in small towns so that the event creates a dominant presence. Annecy (in France) ranks among the largest live action film festivals. Mysore will attract professionals and students from tier II and II towns, which is our target audience. It will also attract people from other parts of India who will travel to any location to see world class content. Normally, we go from here to Annecy and Cannes to see the same content.”

ABAI will not make arrangements for people from Bangalore to travel to Mysore, but is providing assistance by blocking a certain number of rooms half a dozen hotels and boarding houses there, Ghose said. The festival is being supported by the Karnataka government as a part of its policy to promote AVGC (animation, visual effects, gaming and comics) initiatives in the state.

On other ABAI initiatives, the association’s president said, “The execution of the (AVGC) policy is taking place in parts. The Train The Trainer module has already been built and faculty hired too. It will be inaugurated soon. Digital arts centres have been sanctioned by the government, and advances paid for setting up seven centres through ABAI. The infrastructure project to create facilities for small, medium and large companies has already been scoped and a global tender for it will be released this month.”

Highlights of the festival

Ron Diamond, a member of the Academy of Motion Pictures, will feature in the ‘ABAI special edition’ of ‘show of shows’ where world leaders trace their journeys.

Shelley Page of DreamWorks Animation will be presenting her ‘Eye Candy Show’ which has travelled across the world. She was an artist on the famous Who Framed Roger Rabbit as well as the Shrek, Madagascar and Kung Fu Panda films.

The university venue will be retrofitted with three large screening facilities where stalwarts of the industry from Hollywood, Europe and India will present the films.

4 feature films which will be screened in the amphitheatre.

There would be 3 international short film packages.

Workshops on filmmaking and game design and development, comic and merchandising would be organised.

Master classes on animation and VFX styles will be presented in a “carnival” like atmosphere.
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Tuesday, 22 August 2017

'Indian animation industry needs home grown heroes'

Mythological characters like Ram and Ravana have been favourites of animation content providers in India. But the industry needs more home-grown superheroes to gain popularity and appeal to international audiences as well, says Rajiv Chilaka, founder and CEO of Green Gold Animation. 

Chilaka believes there's a need for character-based stories with universal appeal.

"We have to go beyond Ram and Ravana. If we are looking at mythology-based characters, we could even look at the story of Sugriva or even Kumbhkarna. These stories can appeal to international audiences as well," said Chilaka.

"We need to have more home-grown superheroes. How long will we celebrate Spider-Man and Batman? Look at what Baahubali gave us. Real, easily relatable superheroes and those characters will never be forgotten," he said.

Talking from the experience of being in the animation industry for over a decade, Chilaka has closely followed the changing phase of the Rs 51.1 billion (according to the 2015 Ficci-KPMG report) Indian animation industry.

"In 2001, there was only one kids channel and today there are over 15 TV Networks dedicated to kids and a few more in the pipeline. Some of the biggest companies now have their footprint in animation industry due to the high demand for content," he said, pointing out that there is growing animated production in India.

He went on to add that there are over 300 animation, 40 visual effects and 85 game development studios with over 15,000 professionals catering to movies and small screen content for children and regional platforms.

Most popular for introducing Chhota Bheem to the world, Chilaka's company is on a mission to find its next big character.

"We are not looking at one next big character. We are looking at seven to eight characters, so that the company can sustain for the next 10-15 years," he said.

The company is simultaneously working on films.

"This year, we plan to bring out two 3D animated films; 'Chhota Bheem Kung Fu Dhamaka' and 'Mahiraavan', a mythological story about Ravana's brother," he added.

Asked about the future of Chhota Bheem, he said: "It will continue growing as a brand. From an animated character, it made it to television, T-shirts, and to even on the wrapper of biscuit packets. It's undoubtedly the biggest entertainment brand in the country."

Around 30 per cent of the company's revenue comes from merchandising.

"The success of Bheem as a character has made it possible. Popular animated characters never fade away with time. Mickey Mouse, for instance, is popular in India not as an animated character but as a brand. A 90-year-old grandfather can also wear a Chhota Bheem T-shirt because he would have watched the show with his grandchildren," he said.

Thanks to the popularity of the character in Indian households, it's even being made into a live action feature.

"It's still a work-in-progress idea. But we do plan to make a live action film featuring Chhota Bheem and real actors, possibly stars, if we can bring them on board. We are also working on an animated show called 'Baby Bheem'," he added.
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Monday, 21 August 2017

China's first 3D Animated Feature Ready for the Big Screen

Marking the launch of China's first 3D animated feature, popular animated series Boonie Bears is set to debut on the big screen in January.

One of China's most popular animated series is set to debut on the big screen, according to areport by the China Toy & Juvenile Products Association.

Marking the launch of China's first 3D animated feature, Boonie Bears will arrive in theaters during Mainland China's Spring Festival held in January. The film, which is centered around the theme of treasure, was jointly produced by Fantawild Holdings, Mr. Cartoon Pictures, LEVP and the Zhujiang Film Group. Produced by Fantawild Holdings, the Boonie Bears cartoon series was first shown in February 2012, and quickly became the most popular children's show in China. Approximately 200 13-minute episodes have been produced to date. The main characters are two bears, Briar (Xiong Da) and Bramble (Xiong Er), and a logger named Vick (Guangtou Qiang), and episodes generally revolve around Vick's attempts to log the timber where Briar and Bramble live, and the bears' attempts to stop him.

The Boonie Bears feature will see how the relationship between Vick the logger and the bears changes as they team together in a quest to win back lost treasure.

I'm not sure what's harder to believe: that China still hasn't released its own homegrown 3D CGI animated feature or that the first one they are releasing later this month is something called Boonie Bears (Xiong Chumo). The resent updates by Chinese media reports that this is the country's first 3D CGI film may be inaccurate; our pals at YAM remind us that there was another Chinese feature in 2011 called Legend of a Rabbit.)

Boonie Bears is based on a popular TV series currently broadcast on Central China Television. Over 200 episodes of the show have been produced, expounding the general theme of peaceful coexistence between man and nature. In the show, man is represented by a logger named Vick and nature comes in the form of two bears, Briar and Bramble.

  A 70-minute TV special, Boonie Bears: Homeward Journey, aired last spring in China, and will be released next week on DVD in the United States. The English-language trailer for the special is memorable, but for all the wrong reasons.

  Like the TV series, the feature is produced by Fantawild Animation Inc. (whose other shows include Chicken Stew-Tales from the Salted-Egg Temple, Brainy Bubbly Bug Buddies, and Power Panda Posse) in association with Mr. Cartoon Pictures, LEVP and Zhujiang Film.

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Friday, 18 August 2017

Art Directors Guild adds new category for animated feature in its production design awards

The Art Directors Guild (ADG) has added a new award category to its annual award show, “Excellence in production design” awards. The new category “Excellence in production design for an animated feature film” will debut at the twenty second annual awards show which will take place in January 2018.

The announcement was made by ADG event producers Thomas A. Walsh and Thomas Wilkins. They also announced the theme for this year’s awards- production design in animation: celebrating 100 years of imagination.



Walsh said, “It is our intention to honour and celebrate great production design achievements in the remarkable and evolving art form of animation through this new award. By separating feature animation into its own constituent category, we wish to pay tribute to these creative works in a manner equivalent to all our other feature design categories.”

Animated films including Finding Nemo, The Incredibles, Ratatouillie, Wall-E and The Adventures of TinTin have been considered at previous ADG awards in the fantasy feature film category for the past 11 years.


Qualifications for “Excellence in Production Design” in an animated feature film eligibility includes:

  • Animated feature films representing 2D (hand drawn), 3D (CGI), clay animation/puppet and motion–capture (live-action/CGI hybrid) will all qualify for this award category.
  • A feature film must have the majority of its sets and locations created using a frame-by-frame technique, and usually falls into one of the two general fields of animation: narrative or abstract.
  • Some of the techniques of animating films include but are not limited to hand-drawn animation, computer animation, stop-motion, clay animation, pixilation, cutout animation, pinscreen, camera multiple pass imagery, kaleidoscopic effects created frame-by-frame, and drawing on the film frame itself.
  • Motion capture and real-time puppetry are not by themselves considered animation techniques.
  • Animation must figure in no less than 75 percent of the picture’s total running time.
  • A narrative animated film must have a significant number of the top eight major characters animated.
  • If the picture is created in a cinematic style that could be mistaken for live action, producers must submit information supporting how and why the picture is substantially a work of animation rather than live action.


The annual awards gala honouring production design in theatrical motion pictures, television, commercials and music videos will take place on 27 January 2018, in the Ray Dolby Ballroom at Hollywood & Highland.


Online submissions will be open from 5 October to 9 November, 2017. Online nomination voting will be held from 6 December 2017 to 3 January 2018 and nominees will be announced on 4 January 4 2018. Final online balloting will be held from 8 to 25 January and  the winners will be announced on 27 January.
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Thursday, 17 August 2017

Young Animators International Film Festival will ignite the creative wings on November this year

YAIFF is organizing the Young Animators International Film Festival in New Delhi (India) in collaboration with India International Center on 10 November 2017.The event will be held in the the C.D. Deshmukh Auditorium, New Delhi with a seating capacity of the 230 persons.On the first day that is November 10, there will be a welcome speech by a child animator, screening of Prince and Princess, a collection of animation films made by Michael Ocelot, British Academy Films Award winners, screening of animation films made by children of the world, demo presentation of “how to make your own animation films”, screening of animation films made by children of the world.

YIAFF is a place where children and young people, professionals and animation lovers will be able to exchange ideas and experiences and make new friends beyond their State and Country.The jury will consist of animation experts, artists, musicians, film makers, puppeteers, environmentalists and practitioners in value education.The vision of YAIFF is to unite the children of the world through the creative art of animation film making by awarding work that promotes global peace and harmony.

YAIFF is a place where children and young people, professionals and animation lovers exchange ideas and experiences and make new friends beyond their State and Country.

The jury consists of animation experts, artists, musicians, film makers, puppeteers, environmentalists and practitioners in value education.The vision of YAIFF is to unite the children of the world through the creative art of animation film making by awarding work that promotes global peace and harmony.YAIFF 2016 was a very successful film festival. More than 250 films from 30+ countries were screened to a packed audience of enthuastics school children, collage student and animation film lovers.

There will be several awards and prizes for the film festival.Awards are gift packages. There is no cash award. It includes :

Best film on the Environment
Best film on Social Messages
Some of the rules and terms are:

1.Films made by school children and college students will be accepted.
2. Films must be of less than 5 minutes duration
3. Films can also be submitted through downloadable links on the internet.

Categories include:

    Little genius
    Budding animators
    Nova animators
    Prodegy

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Friday, 11 August 2017

DreamWorks Animation’s ‘Home Adventures with Tip & Oh’ Returns August 11

Celebrity icon Cher guest stars in Season 3 of the series as Chercophonie, a rock diva character who is as famous for her off-key tunes as she is for her outrageous fashion sense.

The intergalactic escapades of dynamic duo Tip and Oh reach new heights as these best friends head off on new adventures that push the residents of Earth and Boovsworld to their limits in all-new music-filled episodes of DreamWorks Home Adventures with Tip & Oh.

There is no part of the galaxy that is out of reach as the pair find themselves on a mission to save Pig from a far off cat-planet, attending a wild alien prom, on safari on the plains of Boovsland and in a deep sea battle in the depths of Lake Michigan. This all-new third season of Home Adventures Of Tip & Oh premieres Friday August 11th only on Netflix.

Picking up where the hit 2015 animated film left off and building upon their enduring friendship, the coming-of-age buddy comedy follows Tip and overenthusiastic Oh as they navigate the crazily combined human and alien culture they live in, finding adventure everywhere they go.

The voice cast is led by Rachel Crow as Tip and Mark Whitten (Rolling High) as the voice of Oh, along with Ana Ortiz (Devious Maids, Ugly Betty), Ron Funches (Get Hard, Undateable), and Matt Jones (Breaking Bad, Mom). The series includes tons of memorable and toe-tapping original music that highlight Rachel Crow’s extraordinary vocal talents.

Season 3 features a super-special guest star…the one and only Cher! Check out the featurette below to get a sneak peek at the iconic celebrity as Chercophonie, a rock diva character who is as famous for her off-key tunes as she is for her outrageous fashion sense, along with plenty of insights into her experience voicing the role. You can also see the full-length music video, “Ooga Boo,” featuring Chercophonie, along with another clip, “You Do Boov.”

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Thursday, 10 August 2017

An Outside Opinion About India's Animation Industry


What to do? What to do?
      
Hollywood's animation community has entered its post-Pixar era, creating fresh opportunities for everybody else, including the animation community in India. Pixaris no longer the scruffy, fun-loving studio it was a lifetime ago, back in 1995 when “Toy Story” was released. It has been a while since we read magazine articles that gushed about Pixar's customized animator cubicles, the Tiki room, Old West saloon and Olympic size swimming pool. Today, key members of the original Pixar family are either deceased or are doing other things, like live action movies (Brad Bird) for example, and even long-time insiders like Bob Peterson (“Finding Nemo”, “Up”) can be ripped off their projects if Mr. Lasseter gets nervous. Pixar is now wholly owned by the marketing behemoth, Walt Disney Company, which has not seriously been in the movie business since “The Lion King” and “Little Mermaid”. Walt's brother, Roy Disney, was forced off the Disney Board of Directors in 2003 and, since then, the business model at the studio has been 100 percent mega-budget “tent pole”, movie franchises that can support spin-offs, Broadway musicals, sequels and such. It's current hit is “Frozen” (over US$600 million to date), which is already in development for its Broadway musical debut a year or so from now, as well as there being a “Frozen 2” in the pipeline. Together, Disney and Pixar operate like a giant feature animation assembly line, turning out three formulaic movies per year like clockwork, feeding the revenue machine over and over, to the benefit of Disney executives (Bob Eiger, Disney Company CEO, earned US$35 million in 2013) and Wall Street investment companies. John Lasseter, best known for his boyish Hawaiian shirts, is rich now, reportedly worth US$100 million. Meanwhile, DreamWorks has changed its business model away from feature animation andhas signed a deal with Netflix, to produce 300 hours of original programming. Jeffrey Katzenberg, DreamWorks' CEO, spends as much time in Shanghai nowadays as he does in his Hollywood offices, building a new DreamWorks theme park there and doing coproductions with China's deep purse strings government. The point is that the Walt Disney Hollywood most of us thought we knew is no longer there. It moved on while we were not looking, That is precisely why this is a time of opportunity for everybody else, including animators in India.

THE FUTURE FOR INDIA


The animation industry in India is a puzzle wrapped in an enigma, mainly because there isn't one. There are x-number of smart individuals working in the animation field, but there is not an industry per se. Animation does not have deep roots in India. There never was an Indian Walt Disney with a dream and a Mouse. Therefore, there has not been an apprenticeship or mentoring system. There are no old-timers, an Indian equivalent of Disney's Nine Old Men, passing on accumulated wisdom to newbies. To fill this gap, a veritable truck load of Indian entrepreneurs opened animation schools, which proceeded to pump under-qualified entry level animators, mainly of the CG variety, into a talentstarved marketplace. The schools even now operate in an ethics-free zone in which the credit line on a student's Visa card counts for more than the excellence of her portfolio. A lot of money is being made by a handful of entrepreneurs, a lot of disappointed young people are being cycled through the system, and the community of Indian animators is spinning its collective wheels. If animators in India seriously want to be recognized internationally, they are going to have to do better work. I routinely screen show reels sent to me by young Indian entry-level animators, and it is rare that I see one that is even close to international standards. It would be immensely helpful if the government would provide meaningful oversight, licensing standards with teeth. As it stands today, the Indian government stands mute unless outright criminal fraud comes to light in a school. Nobody is keeping records of how many graduates are finding work in the animation industry. Studio executives I talk to in India-based companies tell me privately that every new hire must be trained from scratch, that the Indian training on the resume is virtually worthless. I ask why they do not demand higher standards and better results from the schools and am met with a shrug of resignation. The status quo is stuck in a ditch. It would be helpful if an industry summit meeting could be called, where animation studio CEO's can speak candidly with school CEO's about what needs to be done. If the existing schools cannot or will not do the job, then the animation studios need to develop new high-standards schools. It is urgent that India find, encourage and support the development of its young artists, especially in the modern art form of Computer Animation. We need dreamers and storytellers much more than we need more computer animation technicians.

"But that is for the long haul, the future. What about today? The Indian animation talent pool being what it is, what is to be done? How can India get in side those Hollywood open doors? For those who want to take action today, this is my best advice"

1) Take note of independent feature films like “Chico and Rita”, “Despicable Me 1 & 2” and “Ernest & Celestine”. Significantly, the five nominees for Best Animated Feature in the 2014 Academy Awards includes three independent features. Pixar, in yet another indication of its waning influence on the industry, is not represented at all. “Monsters University” did not make the cut, mainly because it was a tent pole product. In particular, study the production model for “Ernest & Celestine”, a French movie with three directors, one of whom only recently graduated from animation school. The production budget was less than US$12 million, veritable pocket change in Hollywood. Pixar, DreamWorks and Disney are locked into spending US$150+ million for each film, having ceded the playing field for lower budget films entirely to independent producers. “Ernest & Celestine” is based on a popular children's book by Gabrielle Vincent. The narrative could not be simpler or more universal, having to do with an unlikely friendship that forms between a mouse and a bear. It is a spin on Shakespeare's “Romeo & Juliet” except that the central relationship is one of friendship, not romance.



2) When deciding what kind of story to tell in a film, ask yourself who the intended audience is. Are you producing for an Indian audience? That is a viable production strategy, of course, but it is unlikely to land you on the list of Oscar nominees because western audiences simply do not buy stories that are rich with Indian culture. Bollywood movies may be popular and lucrative in India, but they do not travel well. Again, note that “Ernest & Celestine ” , despite being a French production, is culturally neutral, featuring furry animals rather than humans in a story with universal elements.

3) How old is your intended audience? Resist the marketable assertion that you are “making a movie for the entire family”. Walt Disney did not make movies for the entire family. He made movies for kids and then charmed adults into seeing them also, on the grounds that there is “a child in all of us”. Today, the Big Three studios advertise that they are making movies for the entire family, but it really is not true. You do not tell a story to children the same way you tell it to adults because children have different points of reference. Pixar's “Up” is really two movies in one, for instance. The first half which deals mainly with the relationship between Carl and Ellie, is for adults. After Ellie dies and Carl goes to Paradise Valley with Russell the Wilderness Scout, “Up” becomes a movie for children, complete with talking dogs and chocolate-addicted big birds. The best strategy for an aspiring Indian producer is to limit the intended audience to either adults or children and then keep the budget down.

      4) Don't be afraid of international coproductions. As noted above, there is a talent deficit in India because the Indian educational system is not training entry-level animators adequately. It may be necessary to augment an India-based movie production with a la carte enlisted international talent. That is an appealingly humorous idea, when you stop to think about it, a reversal of what has been done to India for so long, with so much outsourcing work. Indian producers to be the creative nerve center, producing their movies with ensemble international talent, as needed. When India's talent pool starts rising to the skill level it ought to be, then rely more on India-based talent. In order to get through those open doors in Hollywood, it is only necessary that a movie originate in India. You can produce it any way that makes sense.

Last year, the biggest-budget feature animated Indian film, “Mahabharat”, was nearly laughed off the screen, which is not helpful for India's fragile animation self-esteem. One reviewer, Subbash K Jha, writing for Yahoo India, summed up his withering review

(http://in.news.yahoo.com/39-mahabharat-3d-39- animation-arrested-181620176.html) with this: “As for animation, I suggest Indian cinema leave it alone.” My advice: Tell Subbash K Jha to stick his head where the sun doesn't shine, and then set about making world-class Indian movies.

Ed Hooks Credit Line: Ed Hooks is the author of “Acting for Animators” and an internationally respected acting teacher. He was an acting consultant on the Indian hit film “Eega”, directed by S SRajamouli and is based in Hollywood. His personal website is http://www.edhooks.com.
- by Ed Hooks

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