Thursday, December 29, 2005

Where the Money Comes From

What if I were to ask you what brings in the most revenue for a film? The average person may think that the theatrical release is the biggest moneymaker. However, you guys are in the film industry and know that DVDs and the home video release is the biggest moneymaker. Right? Wrong! The biggest moneymaker for a film is TV licensing. ...continued...

The first time I looked through the numbers, it was somewhat of a surprise to me too. After all, it isn’t something the studios openly share with the public and we have been told for years that home video is the money buffet. Studio accountants like to merge box office, home video, and TV licensing into a single number for their Wall Street reports. They purposefully blur things so that it is hard to get a firm grip on where the money comes from. There are several reasons for this, but is probably left for another story. Lucky for us, the real internal figures are confidentially furnished to the Motion Picture Association and if you know the secret MPA handshake, you can follow the money trail.

Last year, the six major studios had total revenues of $7 billion from world box office sales, $21 billion from world video sales, and $18 billion from world television sales. Even a 3rd grader can tell you 21 is more than 18. However, these numbers are slightly misleading because they reflect gross revenue. Simply put, there is more costs associated with box office and DVD sales than television licensing. However, you can see how easy it is to think that home video brings in the most cash.

During a theatrical release, there is a lot of money spent on P&A (prints and advertising). A rough estimate is that studios spend at least half of the production budget for marketing. If Chicken Little cost $80 million to make, they have probably spent at least $40 million to market it. However, a lot of times that marketing cost is much higher and can sometimes approach the cost of the production itself. When you price in prints and the cost of shipping them to theatres, it can add another $15-$20 million for a major release. You can start to see that P&A can easily match or exceed the actual production costs for a movie. When an $80 million dollar movie makes $200 million in the box office, the studio is still losing money by the time theatres take their cut of ticket sales and pay off those P&A costs.

When a film is ready for home video sales, it hopefully has broken even or gotten close to that in its theatrical release. Home video is the point where the studio see the money tip in their favor. Wholesale DVD prices have dropped to $5 in some cases. Even though the profit margins have decreased and sales have leveled off, it still is a huge income source and can bring in excellent revenue. However, marketing costs and advertising are still high and offset a good portion of those returns. Until Iger gets his way and eliminates the delay in release windows, these costs will continue to be significant.

The real moneymaker is in television licensing. What makes it so profitable is that unlike home video, the licensee pays for the cost of marketing and advertising. The studio no longer has to pay for these things. It is pure profit outside of a couple of minor costs. Roughly $4 billion in revenue comes from the major networks, another $4 billion from pay-per-view, and close to $10 billion from cable networks. With this flow of cash and practically no expenses, TV licensing easily out gains both theatrical and home video sales.

The whole purpose of theatrical release is to get as close to break-even as possible. Home video sales should send you into profit. By the time you get through television licensing, you should be sitting on a pile of cash if you have played your cards right.

Mix Up

My first exclusive content on was posted last week. That exclusive content wasn't really so exclusive. Seems that I misunderstood the agreement we had going and I just needed to delay the post here. Sorry for the mix up. Speaking of that website, if you are interested, I just put up a new piece a few minutes ago. Give it a read....not continued...

Thursday, December 22, 2005

Merry Christmas

Merry Christmas to everyone! I'm not going to give into political correctness and wish you Happy Holidays. Sorry, but it is Merry Christmas from me. I'm so sick of everyone tip toeing around afraid to offend others. If you don't celebrate Christmas, good for you. You can still accept a Merry Christmas without getting your panties in a twist.

Now for the Christmas animation wrapup. ...continued...

I wrote my first "exclusive" content for CGCHAR and posted it this morning. You can't see it here, but you can see it there! Hop over to and you will find it. The story actually has to do with "The Business of Animation". Imagine that!

Hoodwinked will be opening nationwide in a couple of weeks. It has received a mild reception from those that I talked to that went to the premiere in LA. There really is no reason to bash the movie, we all know its short comings. Lets see how it performs when its wide release happens. Many eyes are watching carefully.

Pixar and Disney still haven't announced anything. So much for Jobs psychic abilities (he said an announcement would be made by year end).

A recent headline announced that animated films are the most lucrative of releases between 2000 and 2004. This really shouldn't be a surprise. The amount of animated films heading to the theaters in 2006 should be proof enough.

Rumor has it, a CG Chicken Little tv series is in the works.

The following items are still on my Christmas list. I have been informed by my wife that I will not be receiving either of these! The nerve!!

* Palm Lifedrive, Treo, or T5 handheld.
* A decent video camera (I recently dropped our last one).

Thursday, December 15, 2005

DreamWorks Animation, Paramount, and Pixar

DreamWorks Animation recently got a distribution deal with Paramount that must of made Steve Jobs lick his chops. As we all know, Jobs and Iger are trying to see if there can be a continued relationship between their two companies. Although it is an over simplification to say that Pixar just wants Disney to market and distribute for a low percentage fee, that is a very big part of it. ...continued...

Many (including myself) have been saying that Pixar is asking for too much and they need to back down. However, now that DWA struck this deal with Paramount to distribute for an 8% fee has got to give Jobs a case of the happies. Eight percent really is a bargain. And on top of that, Paramount basically gave $75 million cash to DWA for the right to distribute those pictures. Additionally, DWA will get the chance to promote their movies as well as collaborate on new television programming on the huge TV empire that Paramount's parent company (Viacom) owns. Nickelodeon, MTV, Nick at Nite, VH1, BET, TV Land, and Comedy Central.

In a nutshell. DreamWorks scored!

This makes me question why Paramount did what they did. The must have talked with Pixar on a similar deal. They had to be choice #1. That obviously didn't pan out, which leads me to believe one of two things. Either Pixar and Disney have worked things out and will be back in saddle soon or Pixar was demanding way too much from Paramount. For the last several months, rumors abound that Jobs animation company was asking for too much from everyone and potential suitors were leaving the table. This brings me back to what I've been saying for months.

Pixar needs take a step back if they want Disney to sign the papers.

Joining Forces

This blog and CGCHAR ( have formed a mini alliance. For a few months we are going to try out an exchange. I will supply them with articles for their front page news stories and in return, CGCHAR will provide traffic to this website. Relax, this will in no way affect what is being posted on this blog. ...continued...

The founder of CGCHAR and I have exchanged emails in the past and during a recent back and forth, we decided to try this out. I'm always happy to get more readers to my rants and this could be a good way. Rick the CGCHAR guy tells me that the forums have been around since 1996, but in the last few months there has been more of a push to offer industry news on the front webpage. Not that anything I say should be considered "news", but I'm happy to give this a shot and the occasional commentary might be a good fit for that site.

Tuesday, November 29, 2005

Low Quality CG Films

It will be interesting to see how well "Hoodwinked" does in the next few months. Here we have a CG film with some very middle of the road to sub-par visuals and very simple animation tied together with what seems to be a pretty decent story. ...continued...

The film is being distributed by the Weinstein's and should get a fair shot in the theatres. It won't have the marketing muscle of your typical wide-release CG film, however it really doesn't need one. The budget is so low that a decent box office will make for a successful theatre run. I have to say, I am extremely interested to see how this fares. You can bet a lot of producers will be eyeing this film very closely.

Another film is "Cat Tale" from Imagi. This is the same company that did the animation for DreamWorks "Father Of The Pride" television series. For this movie, we have bad character designs, just-okay-animation and mediocre visuals. The story doesn't appear to be very strong but you know this movie has a low budget. Again, the movie will not have to make much. I wonder how it will do (if they find distribution).

You may be surprised to hear that I am not going to rant about outsourcing. I believe Cat Tale is a home brewed film. If true, they are safe from my wrath. However, Hoodwinked doesn't fall into that category. With a budget of $15 million, some US producers made the film in Manilla. This pisses me off. However, I don't want to go off on a tangent. I'm still interested to see how the film does.

Out of these two movies, I think Hoodwinked is the stronger picture and the one to be watchful of this Holiday season. Although it doesn't come close to visuals that Sony, Pixar, Disney, Blue Sky, and DreamWorks put out, the story looks funny and a very mild box office dent will be a success for such a low budget film. We could be witnessing the beginning of the flood of ultra-low-budget CG films.

Monday, November 21, 2005

Pixar Asking For The World

What is Jobs asking for? Will Disney bend over for a chance to be with Pixar again? Not likely. ...continued...

In the current terms that Steve Jobs is asking for, it would be extremely idiotic for Disney to make a deal. Let's lay down what terms Steve is rumored to be asking for:

* Pixar picks their release dates.
* Pixar has more creative control of their films.
* Pixar says which films can be sequeled (if any) and gets full creative control.
* Pixar pays 10% distribution fee to Disney to market their films.
* Disney stops production on TS3.
* Pixar gets 100% ownership of previous Pixar films.

Disney is probably willing to concede on the release dates, full creative control of their future films, and maybe a distro fee of 12%. However, Disney would be completely out of their mind to allow Pixar the other terms. If you drop the production of TS3, that means you are saying you wont sequel any other Disney/Pixar films. Big mistake. Would it be worth it for Disney to lose the lucrative money from previous Pixar efforts and from sequelization for a lousy 10% distribution fee on future films? No freaking way. If Iger accepts those conditions, he should be flushed out of Disney immediately. It would be a disservice to Disney and their shareholders.

Crazy terms like this are presented as concession fodder. That way, Jobs looks like a reasonable human being when he pulls back from one of his demands.

Everyone and their mother is saying the deal is going to happen. Touting that Pixar will get what it wants. I'm going to go on record (again) saying that the deal will not happen. The potential money from TS3 and other sequels is too great. Unless Jobs reigns back his demands, Iger/Disney would have to be a complete moron to accept. And, I don't think he is.

Thursday, November 17, 2005

Attack Of The Motion Captured Movies

It started with Final Fantasy, that awful movie starring stone faced characters that creeped out most everyone who made the mistake of entering the theatre. We absorbed another salvo with Polar Express, now we have Monster House and Happy Feet to look forward to. ...continued...

Plain and simple. Motion capture looks absolutely ugly in a fully animated film. Don't get me wrong, the technology has its uses for things like stunt men, crowds of people, or the times that you need absolute realism. Games! Another great use for it. However, when you start using motion capture in an animated movie, especially on cartoon'ish characters, it looks like crap.

Both Final Fantasy and Polar Express had the most zombie like performances I think I have ever seen. Monster House looks slightly better but has the same problems and just looks wrong. The producers for Happy Feet should of just hired a bunch of actors to put on giant rubber costumes, because that is exactly what the CG characters look like.

Audiences know! Maybe they cannot put their finger on it, but something looks off to them. The movement in Polar Express and Final Fantasy got reemed by non-industry reviewers. So they have to be in tune to it.

No animator in their right mind wants to work on a motion capture project. If they do, I'd argue that they probably have no animation skills of their own and shouldn't be labelled as animators to begin with. The only people that want this awful technology used in movies like these are directors that wish they were directing live action instead, producers that are misled that it will save money, and techno-geeks that think it is just cool.

Somebody needs to grab these producers by the neck and let them know that it isn't going to save you money. Polar Express, Final Fantasy, and Monster House have huge budgets. How was the money saved and exactly where did it go? An average CG film may have anywhere from 25-50 animators on it. Let's say you can get rid of all of them. You still have to hire someone to come back and clean the mocap data up. It needs to be done. In a lot of motion capture setups, someone still has to animate the faces. Better hire some of those animators back. If a production really wants to save money, there are other ways to go about it. Motion capture isn't a solution.

----This rant was brought to you by an unamed producer that tried to tell me how much motion capture was going to save them on a proposed CG film. After our conversation it was obvious that this man hates animation and wants to make his production as "live-action" as possible.----

Unfortunately, the money that CG features are making is bringing in a lot of undesirables. We have producers that don't even like animation and we have business men that have never been closer to a movie than a theatre think they can make easy profits. "Motion capture? Wow that is cool. We dont need those overpaid animators anymore. We'll be rich!"

Monday, November 14, 2005

Around The Water Cooler

Congratulations to the people at Disney for their successful outing with Chicken Little. Still in first place after two weeks. It may not be the greatest movie, and Disney has really ruined a lot of lives. However, I can't help but hope that they will be successful again. Maybe 2D is gone, but good film making can make a comeback under the hat....continued...

I'd also like to congratulate the bitter frequenters of Animation That once great message board has degraded into the Home For Bitchy Artists. The shit and moan sessions have taken over and all other useful reading has pretty much ended months and months ago. Normally I love a good bitch session. Lord knows I do plenty of it. But, when it reaches AN levels, it just becomes too much. Especially when the useful posters have disappeared or limited their posts and we are left with what we have. After Charles fully implements his fee based ideas, you can be assured the website will fall another few rungs.

Polar Express 2, err, ahh, I mean Monster House.. The trailer has just been released. Wow, another film with stiff emotionless characters. That is what we need. No offense to the Sony Imageworks people, because we know there are some talents that work there. But this looks absolutely horrid. Even reviewers of Polar Express recognized the zomby-like performances. Don't think the public doesn't know the difference.

Speaking of Sony. The Open Season trailer looks wonderful. Some nice animation with almost painterly renders. I'm hopeful for this flick. It looks good.

Monday, November 07, 2005

Ant Bully & Open Season Trailers

An Ant Bully teaser and a new Open Season trailer have been released in the past few days. AB really seems to be borrowing from the Antz and Bugs Life character design for the insects, but the kid looks pretty good... ...continued...

I would imagine that in the first real trailer for AB, we will see more of the boy (at least I hope so) because the bugs just aren't doing it for me. Character design quibbles aside, DNA is doing well for itself and should continue its ascension.

The Open Season trailer played in front of Chicken Little in our theatre. Ashton Kutcher continues to irk me as a voice and as a human being. Judging by the trailer, his character is going to irk me too. On the plus side, we got a chance to see something more than a few forest creatures throwing nuts at a poor defenseless lumberjack. The audience had some mild laughter for the trailer and didn't quite know how to react to the deer throwing rabbits at Boog's garage window. Speaking of Boog, he seems to be a likeable character and has a neat Jungle Bookish look to him.

Saturday, November 05, 2005

The Sky Falls on Chicken Little Critics

The movie going public spits in the faces of film critics. And I for one am glad it happened. This chicken is on its way to making well over $30 million this weekend and I'd like to say congratulations to Disney and all of those that worked on it. ...continued...

I really think critics are on a witch hunt for Disney. They are so in love with Pixar and the idea of beating Disney down further, they cannot see straight and can't just enjoy a movie for what it is. The theatre I attended was packed to the gills and everyone seemed to like it. It feels good to hear the positive feedback and see that the box office revenue is solid. Nice knowing most people don't listen to the idiots writing these stories.

I find it odd that I am rooting for Disney after all the sh** they have pulled over the years and all the crap I had to go through when I worked for them. However, I am so sick of hearing people suck Pixar's teet and knocking Disney every chance they get. I can't help but pull for them. Good for Disney. This is a giant step back in the right direction.

Here's to Chicken Little, your first full CG feature and to your continued success!

Thursday, November 03, 2005

A Chicken Little Failure Will Do Nothing for 2D

Don't let the negativity of a few noisy and bitchy moaners sway you from going to see Chicken Little this weekend. For some reason, some people feel it necessary to post negative review after negative review... To do what? Don't pay any mind. Invest in your career and shell out $10 to see the movie. Judging from the posts on certain message boards, they are populated by grudge holding artists and moronic fanboys that wouldn't like anything better but have Disney and Chicken Little fail. As if that would somehow spring life back into 2D. ...continued...

A Chicken Little failure will do absolutely nothing to bring back 2D features. It will do nothing to wipe clean the management that some think are holding Disney back. Support all animated films, no matter how they are created and who created them. Success is your best chance to bring the occasional 2D feature back.

Personally opinion, and I have said it before, outside of the occasional project, major US 2D studio features are gone forever.

Chicken Little won't do Pixar numbers and since everyone in the media and on these fanboy boards will compare CL to Pixar films and point out the BO differences, it will surely be labelled as a loser. However, the ones that actually make the decisions will be happy with what the money it pulls in. Disney won't be changing course anytime soon.

Tuesday, November 01, 2005

Business of Movie Reviews

I've been noticing an interesting pattern to the movie reviews relating to Disney's Chicken Little. It seems that one guy wrote an unfavorable review and it has circulated to several large websites. ...continued...

The review in each case begins almost exactly the same. "The sky has been falling for the past five years at Disney’s venerable animation studios". The reviews are then altered slightly, but use the same language and expressions in each. No doubt written by the same guy, it was just submitted to a bunch of different places. The animation forums are picking this up as several negative reviews, when in fact it is the same review just re-worded and published in several places.

Pretty lame.

That review was originally supplied to the Associated Press and then picked up by other sites. They didn't re-word it in most cases, at least as far as I can tell with a quick glance. The problem is that people are talking about how awful the reviews are for Chicken Little - when in fact, it is just one guys opinion regurgitated over and over.

Do yourself a favor and go see the movie and judge for yourself. I know half of the animation industry wants to see Chicken Little and Disney fail, because they feel slighted by the company. Grow up. Go support our industry. Besides, 2D films are gone and won't be coming back! The failure of Chicken Little won't magically bring them back. Dead and buried.

Jobs Looking to Dump Pixar

Over the last week, there have been several stories hinting that Steve Jobs is entertaining the idea of selling Pixar Animation Studios. Whether they are true or not, I do not know, I just wouldn't be surprised if they were. ...continued...

I have this really strong feeling that Steve is one of those types that likes to build something, make it successful and then run away (cash out). His real love is Apple and always will be. Maybe the Pixar fascination has worn off and he wants to devote full energy to his cute little electronics company.

Steve is a shrewd business man, maybe he is testing the waters to see if anyone will pay the high price he is looking for. He knows that sooner or later one of Pixar's films will not do so well in the box office. This may be the best opportunity to get out at a super high premium.

The question is, will anyone pay that much for it? Your guess is as good as mine. All that I know, is that these little articles have been bothering some of my friends at Pixar. Maybe they feel a little worried that the company could fall into the wrong hands. I don't blame them.

Friday, October 28, 2005

Around Town

Let's take another trip around the industry to see what's going on. ...continued...

The Disney marketing machine is in full force to promote Chicken Little. I can't remember the last time I have seen this much marketing for a non-Pixar film. They really want to see this movie make some money, and I'm really happy they are actually making a full-out-effort. I don't often see a movie on opening day, but for Chicken Little I plan on watching the 3-D projected version first thing. Gimmick or not (I don't think it is), this is very cool and could be a new spark for the industry.

There are stories floating around the net regarding Disney and Pixar relationship. They say that the success of Chicken Little will help determine if they get back in bed with each other. I have to agree with that assumption. If Chicken Little does well, there is less chance of a favorable deal for Pixar with Disney. Personally I would like to see the two split and I still think they will. Disney is on to something and they have a big enough ego that they think they can take Pixar down several notches. Maybe they can.

Meanwhile DreamWorks is getting set for a spring rollout of Over The Hedge. This film looks so-so for me. I like the more cartoony feel it has, but I just cannot stand the dry delivery of Bruce Willis. This was a huge mistake and is where getting big name voices will bite you in the ass. William Shatner on the other hand seems like a good fit.

While Sony Pictures Animation cranks away on Open Season, they have announced a movie based on cave kicking neandrathals. The project comes from Jon Favreau of Zathura fame (hahahha). Zathura, the 2005 version of Jumanjii. Jon was busy lowering himself to new levels by appearing on Apprentice a couple of weeks ago. I hope he was forced into this and didn't come up with the plan on his own. He looked like a dimwit. Finally, did anyone tell this guy that DreamWorks has a caveman animated movie of their own in Crood Awakening?

Threshold Studios is STILL working on their first CG feature called "Food Fight". They recently issued a press release announcing voices for the film. This movie has been in the works for so long and looks like it hasn't even really begun production yet. Will this turn into another Delgo 10-year movie? By the time they are finished, that $65 million budget is going to look like a $10 million film.

A few months back I spoke of a new feature company that would be opening up in LA. I've been hearing more rumbles lately and this still looks like a go. These guys mean business and will be creating CG films with $100 million plus budgets. Look for some announcements in the next 5 months. I would like to say more, but I have been sworn to secrecy. My feelings are that these guys could make a serious run to the top just based on finances, story, and talent. Could they make it to the first tier without even officially opening shop? Probably not, but they could be serious contenders in the not so distant future.

Moving up to the bay area, which is quickly reaching critical mass, there is really nothing new to say. Lots of talk, but no one new really doing anything other than releasing glossy press releases and making for story fodder.

Tuesday, October 18, 2005

Wild Brain & Opus

I'm currently sitting on the 10th floor of a building that overlooks the great city of Burbank. The recent storms put me in a peaceful mood. The rain washed away the smog and dirt and filth that has accumulated over the summer. I really enjoy this time of year because I feel like the LA area is renewed, it is scrubbed clean and LA magically turns into a beautiful place. The weather put me in a good mood, so I figured this would be a great time to write something about Wild Brain and what was to be their first CG film "Opus". ...continued...

Several years ago, Wild Brain created this rather ugly 17-min short film called "Hubert's Brain". The intent was to make a film that attracted the right people to take a chance on WB and send them into the CG feature stratosphere. The quirky short actually pulled in interest from a few studios and landed them a meeting with Harvey "Miramax" Weinstein (year this happened was 2001 or 2002). The meeting went well and WB got excited about the possibility of turning Hubert's Brain into a feature. Time went by and things were evolving slowly with Miramax. WB was talking to others, pushing the idea of a Hubert feature. Paramount ended up optioning Hubert's Brain, and since Paramount never did anything with it, Hubert died. WB continued to develop other projects including an altered version of Little Red Riding Hood which was also optioned but doesn't seem to be going into production anytime soon.

Things are not going very well for WB and their feature dreams until a couple of years have gone by and Miramax comes back to propose Opus. A deal was struck and now, finally, WB had a CG feature to do. That is what everyone thought until the Weinsteins divorced Disney. Several people (including myself) thought Opus was a casualty of the breakup, but maybe it wasn't. Maybe the Weinsteins just didn't want WB doing the feature after all? The Weinsteins still have control of Opus and now I'm told that not only is it happening, but it is happening somewhere BESIDES WB.

Curiously enough, the studio that is rumored to get the project seems like a huge mistake. It really makes me wonder what exactly happened, and the real reason they pulled from WB and went with these nobodies (if the rumor is true). I'll write more after I can confirm the rumors.

Thursday, October 13, 2005

The Buildup of San Francisco Feature Companies

When one thinks of animation feature production, usually the first city to come to mind is Los Angeles. This is no doubt a reaction to the fact that Disney and DreamWorks make a home there. However, now that animation feature production has shifted from 2D to 3D, is that really true anymore? ...continued...

The San Francisco Bay Area has been the home of three powerhouses. Industrial Light & Magic, PDI/DreamWorks, and Pixar Animation Studios hire thousands of artists and technicians around the city. Los Angeles is making a comeback with DreamWorks, Sony, Disney, and a handful of new startups making 3D films. But, with the recent studios announcing feature production in SF, that city is about to push again to the top. Personally, if I were about to open an animation studio to create CG features it would NOT be in San Francisco. There are talented individuals in both cities, but most of the ones in SF are already employed and probably 99% are unwilling to jump to a new startup. Whereas in Los Angeles, there are lots of talented people already available and many more seemingly unhappy at their current job and therefore more likely to jump ship.

With Lucas, Orphanage, Wild Brain and a couple of other unknowns (in the feature game) get into production too, SF is quickly establishing itself as the 3D feature hub. Unfortunately for them, I think these SF companies are going to find themselves hard pressed finding capable and experienced talent. The workers up there are less migratory than they are in LA. The vast majority are either working at Pixar, PDI/DreamWorks, and ILM and probably do not want to downgrade to a lesser entity without a nice jump in salary. Granted Pixar isn't known for paying much, however I wonder how these studios will be able to lure others away from their current employer when their budgets are often so low.

At least one new startup is giving out stock options instead of a good salary. This company has no track record and there is no guarantee that the stock will be worth anything. You are already living in one of the most expensive cities in the world and instead of getting paid what you are worth you are letting the studio gamble with your money. As an employee it is not your job to accept that risk. At least in the dot com era, most employees were getting paid good money AND getting stock options.

I'll continue my SF outlook in another entry. This will include information about Wild Brain losing the "Opus" project.

A New Player

A visual effects company in the San Francisco Bay Area has recently announced it will jump into the CG feature animation business. Genndy Tartakovsky signs on with "The Orphanage" as creator for their slate of pictures. ...continued...

First things first. Just because you can do special effects, doesn't mean you can do CG feature films. The pipelines are entirely different, the way the work is produced is different, the thought process is different, the personnel NEEDS to be different, there is a lot of mindset to change. That won't stop Orphanage from making the plunge and trying to strike gold with the dozen or so other studios all attempting to do the same thing.

Those of you unfamiliar with Orphanage must not of read the survey for worst visual effects company. Orphanage ranked right up at the top with hundreds of posts from people that must of dreaded their time there. Although this feature division will be separate from the visual effects division, there is a strong liklihood that some of the same work practices and management will seep into the new group.

The good news is that they are trying to keep the budgets in the $50-$75 million area. This is a completely realistic budget to create a CG film, especially for the first project. Companies like Critter Pix in San Rafael are lowballing their feature endeavors with budgets under $30 (equates to lower wages in one of the most expensive cities in the country).

Orphanage has a really rocky road ahead. And considering they don't have distribution yet, they may never get started. However, with all the potentially negative things, at least they are not shooting themselves in the foot claiming Pixar quality work at a $20-$30 million budget.

Thursday, October 06, 2005

Over The Hedge Trailer

The first trailer for Over The Hedge went public yesterday. I have mixed feelings about this film. ...continued...

On one hand it has some interesting characters and looks mildy amusing. On the other, something looks off about it. I cannot quite put my finger on it. Maybe it was the burp joke near the end of the trailer or the absolutely horrible voice of Bruce Willis. (This guy should never be considered for an animated character voice, he just doesnt fit. He has done a few cartoon voices in his life, all of them were absolutely gastly.)

DreamWorks does have a nice look to their renders, and the fur looks good. But looks are not everything. Judging by the 15 or so minutes of the film that I've seen, I'm not so sure this is going to be that great of a movie.

Tuesday, October 04, 2005

New "Cars" Trailer Rolls Onto The Net

I would provide a link, but apparently some trigger happy lawyer snapped their fingers and made it disappear. For those that didn't get a chance to see it, no worries. Just imagine the Michael J. Fox movie "Doc Hollywood" with automobiles. ...not continued...

Vanguard Films Has No Fresh Ideas

Vanguard Films announced that they are trying to do "GNOMES", a story of garden gnomes come to life. Great sheebus, can we be a little more original in this industry? ...continued...

Disney already has its hand in a film about gnomes. The project is a retelling of Romeo and Juliett and is called Gnomeo and Juliett. For goodness sakes, first you pump out a stinker of a movie in Valiant and then you grab a story that is being done by someone else. You guys are setting yourself to become the bowell movement of animation.

If Disney and Vanguard's relationship wasn't over, it must be now. Thank goodness they haven't gotten financing or distribution yet. If we are lucky, they won't.

Friday, September 30, 2005

Thoughts on Disney 3-D

This is pure speculation on my part, but while I was reading a press release regarding Chicken Little being projected in 3-D (w/ glasses), a thought suddenly popped into my head. What if this whole DFA shift from traditional animation to CG animation was an engineered event to open up a whole new revenue source for Disney? ...continued...

For a moment, let's pretend that Disney was looking to not only put more people in theatre seats for their movies, but potentially open up a revenue source where other film makers had to pay Disney to display their 3-D movies in those specially equipped theatres. You are probably thinking that 3-D had its chance back in the 40's and 50's. The difference is that 3D CG films is a natural use for 3-D projection. The objects all exist in 3D space, they just need to be rendered twice (one for each eye). Sure you can go back and fake 3-D to already existing live action or traditionally animated films, but it would'nt come close to CG 3-D.

The first film to showcase this new technology in mass will be Chicken Little. Disney is helping to install the hardware in some 100 theatres across the country by the time CL releases. Before Wilbur Robinson comes out (Disney already announced that it will be displayed in 3-D too), there will be a much larger number of theatres equipped. Think about it. If Disney can get their "Disney 3-D" into most of the major theatres, any other company that produces a film and wants to jump onto the 3-D bandwaggon will have to pay a licensing fee to display it using their techniques. Not only are they potentially getting more people in seats for their movies (from the "wow" factor), they are potentially opening up a new revenue source from other movie makers that want to do the same.

By now you are probably wondering what this has to do with Disney dumping traditional cartoons for computer ones. Disney already got beat by Pixar with the move to CG. They've got to be pissed they didn't do it first. How do you one-up the competition (and yes, Pixar is competition to them)? You go one step further with 3-D projection. You push 3D a little further. If they are going to take advantage of this new technology and sell it as THE way to display animated films, they have got to go balls out and be completely CG.

Disney is accomplishing a few things with the release of Disney 3-D and Chicken Little. First, their first full CG film. Second, their first full CG film that will showcase new 3-D technology and potentially excite more people to go to the theatre. Third, possibly opening up a new revenue source when other film companies want to release a film in 3-D and use their equipped theatres (that will require them to license Disney's technology). Sure, they are taking a risk that no one really cares for 3-D. But if people do, they are locking in a potentially lucrative niche for themselves.

Makes perfect sense to me.

A Few Tidbits

I'm tired of making excuses for the lack of blog updates, so let's just get to it. Today I'm going to just talk about a few things going on around the animation community. Just general animation news. ...continued...

First up. Iger is about to officially step in and take over for Eisner. There is undoubtedly a lot of celebration going on in the Disney Animation buildings. I'd like to be positive about the situation, but I have some hesitation to get all crazy about it. Iger seems like a chip off the old block. Let's hope he has a brain of his own. Maybe take things in a new direction and considers cleaning house a little bit. Of course the major concern for those in the animation world is the relationship between Pixar/Disney. There has got to be an announcement coming soon. It is way overdue. My view hasn't changed. I want these guys to go their separate ways. Makes life more interesting.

I heard rumors a while ago about Wild Brain losing the Opus project. It was all but confirmed by an article on AWN.COM. Part of the rumor is that a few other LA based studios are trying to win the homeless project and do the production on their first CG film. I guess this is a loss for Wild Brain, but I'm sure they will be working on a new feature in no time.

Although Disney Toons studio shuttered their Austrailian studio, they are hard at work finding animation studios in the US to do outsourcing work on their future CG direct-to-video movies. It is sad that the 2D Aussie studio closed, but I see this as good news as more work may be given to US studios instead of shipped out. They will probably continue to outsource to other countries, but if some of the work can stay here, then that is great.

The Animation News website posted some previs images of "The Wild". Unfortunately for them or unfortunately for Disney, they didn't put the disclaimer that the pictures were previs and Disney told the website to take them down. Disney should of never put the images on the "New Groove Edition" DVD to begin with. Let this be a lesson to any animation company out there. Do not release images of projects that are not fully rendered. Someone is bound to post it on a website somewhere without letting people know that they are not final production renderings. It only casts a bad light on your production. Speaking of "The Wild", this project is not a CORE project. CORE is the for hire facility creating the visuals. They are simply executing the work. This could potentially be the future business model for a lot of CG feature films. Small team made up of directors/producers/animation supervisors get the work and have it executed at some other CG facility. Although the costs of paying an existing animation facility could be more expensive, there is no expense in between projects to keep staff around. Basically, the average outsourcing mentality, but hopefully outsourcing to companies in the US.

Thursday, September 22, 2005

Run Down

Keeping this blog updated has been extremely difficult. Between my schedule and sometimes a complete lack of motivation, I have let this thing slide. I don't really have a specific topic, so I'll just start typing about various things. ...continued...

  • First things first. DreamWorks has announced a whole bunch of new films. Including Rex Havoc, How To Train Your Dragon, It Came From Earth, and Route 66. You can wander over to the "Comming Soon" website to read about each of these. Personally I think "It Came From Earth" sounds interesting. Madagascar 2 is also happening. I don't feel the first one warranted a sequel, evidentially someone high on the food chain has a different opinion. The penguins from Madagascar are also going to star in their own DTV film. That is good. They were funny and probably the most entertaining part of Madagascar. The critters will also star in a short film that will be showing in from of "The Curse of the Were Rabbit".
  • Speaking of short films. I caught a glimpse of a film that a colleague of mine is working on. I don't want to name the film or the artist, because I'd rather he didn't know this was my website. I just want to anonymously say it was one of the better animated films I have seen in a while. Story and production value are extremely good. I don't normally fawn over shorts, but this thing is going to rock. I can't wait to see it finished in the next few months.
  • Seems that Sega is entering the CG film business. Why not? Everyone else and their mother is.
  • Disney is starting the marketing muscle for Chicken Little. I'm excited to check out this film and will hopefully get a chance to see it projected in 3-D (stereoscopic). A lot is riding on this film for Disney. A success puts another nail in Disney's 2D efforts, a failure will push them closer to Pixar. I'm rooting for a success. I'd like to see Pixar and Disney part company. Competition makes life more entertaining.
  • The Corpse Bride opens this weekend. I'd like to go see this movie. Nightmare Before Christmas was a favorite of mine and I'd like to see how this film turned out. CG may rule the roost, but there is always room for alternatives like this.
  • I have not forgotten about Part 3 of the Power Rankings. I'm working on it here and there, however time isn't a commodity I have much of at the time.

Friday, September 09, 2005

Bitchiness Is Spreading

Someone forwarded me a link to a survey of the best and worst VFX facilities. Never mind the survey results, read the comments. ...continued...

There are literally pages and pages of people moaning and groaning about various studios. Although you have to take it with a grain of salt, a lot of it is pretty accurate from my experience.

Wednesday, August 24, 2005

Studio Power Rankings: Second Tier

I sat around procrastinating this blog entry for a couple of weeks now. Lacking the interest to write about the next group of studios, I’ve put it off long enough. Let’s recap the first tier before moving on. In order, they were Pixar, Disney, DreamWorks, Blue Sky, and Sony....continued...

#6: DNA

While Jimmy Neutron didn’t appeal to me, I can respect that they made a successful film for a modest budget. Sure, it didn’t reach Pixar, DreamWorks, or even Blue Sky figures, yet it still did proportionally well. DNA kept the ball rolling with the Neutron series work and they are now in production on their second feature- “Ant Bully”. Even though their animation is quite a leap below the likes of Pixar and DreamWorks, the studio has a film under their belt and lots of people that know what they are doing. These guys are on the verge of being first tier. Ant Bully is supposed to be better quality than Neutron, so they very well could leap frog someone in the rankings if all goes well. The biggest knock against them isn’t about the work they produce, but their business situation. As far as I know, they are acting purely as a for-hire-facility for other producers/production companies. They need to come up with their own content and stop doing other peoples work. Until then, I would have a hard time moving them up.

#7: Vanguard

Let’s face it, Valiant doesn’t have a spot-on story or doesn’t look all that stunning. The final dagger is that it did poorly in the box office, both in the US and Europe. On a personal level, the company strikes a nerve with me because of their “hire then fire” business model. However, with all that said, they have succeeded in a lot of areas where others have failed. They put a relationship with Disney together (whether that will remain true, has yet to be seen) and have made it through their first film production. They are already back at work with “Space Chimps” which is being produced in Canada. Sorry London, the tax incentives just weren’t enough for round #2.

#8: Omation

These guys are about to release their first film “Barnyard”. The look and feel is very Jimmy Neutron’ish -as it should be with some of the same people involved-. I know very little about this film other than a few conversations with people that are either still working there or have worked there recently. Rumor has it the original budget was practically doubled as they ran into trouble during production. Despite the problems, the trailer seems funny enough and although I worry that it can carry for the whole 1 ½ hours, I think it will do alright. Unfortunately, Omation looks to be falling into the “hire then fire” business model with the possibility that this film will be it for the studio.

#9: Disney / Pandemonium

This film has been in production for a while now and from what I’ve heard, it has been a bumpy ride. This is a Disney funded and marketed project that is being handled by Pandemonium (they have called themselves many different names). CORE is the animation studio in Canada that was hired to produce the visuals. I really don’t have a lot of reasons for putting them at #9 other than they have an 800lb Disney gorilla behind them. The story is similar to Madagascar and it should be interesting to see how this project turns out after hearing of all the problems.

#10 Wild Brain

Wild Brain has been doing shorts and commercial work for a long time now. They recently announced that they would be creating CG features in the $50 million area. The first project out of the gate is supposed to be “Opus”. I think these guys can do a very good job. With the experience they have and $50 million per film, they should be able to pump out a decent looking movie.

#11 Laika

I could write exactly the same thing here that I wrote for Wild Brain. I’m slightly less impressed with their CG work, so that accounts for the #11 slot. What they do have going for them is an excellent story guy that should be able to put something great together.

I’ll get to the 3rd and final tier shortly. That will probably be a little more scathing.

Wednesday, August 17, 2005

Joe Ranft Passes

Very sad news. Story man (Disney and Pixar) Joe Ranft died on August 16th in a car accident. Sorry to see this fine man go. Thoughts are with his family and friends....continued with additional information...

From Hollywood Reporter...

Joe Ranft, Pixar Animation Studios' head of story and a founding member of the animation company's creative team, died Tuesday afternoon in a car accident in Mendocino County, Calif. He was 45.

"Joe was an important and beloved member of the Pixar family, and his loss is of great sorrow to all of us and to the animation industry as a whole," Pixar said in a statement Wednesday.

A spokeswoman for the Mendocino County Sheriff-Coroner's Office confirmed Ranft was one of two people who died when their car veered off the road while traveling northbound on Highway 1.

According to the California Highway Patrol, the accident occurred at about 3 p.m. Tuesday as the driver of the 2004 Honda Element tried to regain control of the car after swerving when he headed into a tight left curve. The car plunged 130 feet over the side into the ocean, the CHP said.

The driver, identified by the coroner's office as Elegba Earl, 32, of Los Angeles, was also killed in the crash. The third person in the car, identified by the CHP as Eric Frierson, 39, of Los Angeles, survived by climbing through the car's sun roof. He was hospitalized with moderate injuries at Mendocino Coast Hospital, according to Officer Robert Simas of the CHP office in Ukiah, Calif.

Ranft worked in both story development and as a storyboard artist at Pixar for the past decade. He was a co-writer on 1995's "Toy Story," for which he earned an Oscar nomination, and 1998's "A Bug's Life." Before Pixar, Ranft was a leading member of the story department at Walt Disney Feature Animation, where he was a writer on 1991's "Beauty and the Beast" and 1994's "The Lion King."

Ranft also voiced key Pixar characters such as Heimlich in "Bug's" and Wheezy the Penguin in "Toy Story 2."

Born in Southern California in 1960, Ranft was a classmate of director John Lasseter's at the California Institute of the Arts in the 1970s. After two years at CalArts, he joined Disney in 1980. He joined Pixar in 1992.

"Joe was a big part of Pixar's soul," a Pixar spokesperson said.

Tuesday, August 16, 2005

Around The Horn

Let's take a trip around the industry and see what's going on. First up, is Valiant. It releases this week and is sure to be a huge blockbuster ...continued...

Okay, I just said that to get you to read this. Unfortunately or fortunately (depending on your angle) for Disney, I think this movie is going to bomb. Combine a lackluster story with a half ass marketing attempt and you get a financial dud. Meanwhile Vanguard is already starting to get in gear for their next film "Space Chimp". Yes, it is about those monkeys that were shot up in space by Nasa. I heard that Disney is pretty unhappy with Valiant and I wonder if they are behind this film or perhaps they somehow got out of the multi picture deal they had with Vanguard (another rumor I have heard).

Pixar is just about finished with Cars. I have my own opinions on this film, however I did an impromptu poll of colleagues that have seen it already. Opinions are very mixed. Even from some of the people working at Pixar. My feelings? It is a decent movie and will do a little better than Incredibles. Since this film does not release until next Spring, Pixar has plenty of time to start production on their next film. This will get them a jump start on their goal of 1 film per year. I read somewhere that Pixar plans to release two films per year by 2009. Yeouch!

Chicken Little is also just about finished. I have mixed reactions about this film that will release in fall. I think it will do pretty well, but won't reach blockbuster status. You all know my feelings about Disney from my previous posts. Disney is headed in the right direction and I'll be hoping that the film does well.

That's all I have time for at the moment. I'm feeling guilty writing this entry instead of working.

What's on Tap

Life has suddenly gotten very busy. Sorry for the delinquency in getting the second tier of the studio power rankings out. It is still coming. I'll try to have something sometime in the next week.

I also began an article on "following the money stream" to talk about where funding can come from to get a few of these films off the ground. It is fascinating to me what the sources are and how the deals are structured. Unfortunately, I started getting wildly off tangent about a particular project and how this crappy story could actually get a decent sized budget and distribution from Warner Brothers. I need to refocus the article before posting it....NOT continued...

Saturday, August 06, 2005

Siggraph Observations

Everyone that reads this blog probably already knows about Siggraph. So I'll skip sleep inducing description. I'll get right to the good stuff. ...continued...

Last blog entry was about the CG Feature Power Rankings. Anyone that disagreed with my assesment of Disney being in spot #2 may very well have a little easier time accepting my ranking. You still may not agree, but come on, their booth was the shit. No artist, tech guy, or no animation geek could of not enjoyed it. The video clips were great, the demonstrations, the recruitment videos. Once again, Disney wins the award for the bestest booth at Siggraph. The animation they showed for Wilbur Robinson were very well done. Wow. Some of those shots blew me away. Even their "work for us" video, had me having the good Disney vibes. WDFA is setting a new bar for CG animation. Look out! If the general public digs it as much as me, we will be in for a wild ride over the next few years. Wilbur, Rapunzel, American Dog, they all look good.

Meanwhile, over at the DreamWorks booth, they showed clips from some of their upcoming films. The Curse of the Were Rabbit (stop motion) looked fun. Those damn bunnies were cute. It looks like a good flick. Unfortunately I can't say the same for Over the Hedge. I still don't care for the character designs, and the animation just looked okay to me. Let's hope that the scenes they showed were not finished (obviously were not final renders. I'm talking motion here).

The Blue Sky booth was a snooze. As was Pixar. Boring... The Laica booth was barely noticeable. Sony's booth didn't catch my eye and I barely slowed down as I walked past. I did not go to the Electronic Theatre. I didn't have the time or even the will. I'm sure it was just as awful as previous years.

Sunday, July 31, 2005

Studio Power Rankings: First Tier!

I'm a big baseball fan. I go to ESPN and Fox Sports all the time to see how my team sits in their Power Rankings. I thought, why not have a studio Power Rankings? Let’s swing through the list of first tier studios and put them in order. This is of course my opinion and if yours differs. That's cool. Start a blog and bitch and moan there.

Sometime in the next week or so, I will continue the Power Rankings with the second tier studios. Don't touch that dial! ...continued...

#1 : Pixar

With Cars coming to a close in the not-so-distant-future, the production crew will begin to shift to the next movie. Will they come to some compromise with Disney for distribution? I don’t know, your guess is as good as mine. Whatever the case, Pixar has several projects in development and pre-production to keep them busy. Expect some announcements very soon. I enjoy their movies the best. Let’s face it; they are the cream of the crop. If there were any negative things I could say about this studio, it would be their 1) their ego and 2) their assumption that the distribution world should be handed to them on a silver platter. They want Lucas terms, evidentially not everyone thinks they are worth such a price. A deal would have been struck a long time ago if they did. The longer they wait to strike something with Disney or anyone else, the more momentum Disney will have in negotiations. Pixar will have to, and needs to lower its expectations.

#2 : Disney

This probably comes as a shock to everyone reading this blog. Why in the world would I list Disney ahead of DreamWorks? After all, what CG films have they released (Uhh, Dinosaur. I’ll give them a mulligan on that!)? I’m basing this decision on Disney’s potential, not what they have done. Chicken Little looks pretty durn good, and some of their projects down the line look even better. These guys are about to make a huge splash. With Eisner on his way out, I think we have even better chances of this studio making a stunning leap forward. Their worst days are over, they are on the uptrend, while I feel DreamWorks is on the downtrend. Although I feel that Rapunzel is a project to keep Keane busy, American Dog and Wilbur Robinson look promising. They have lots more films in development and I expect a lot. However, if Chicken Little does poorly in the box office, things could get interesting at the mouse. Toy Story 3 is still moving along. There is a lot of controversy surrounding this movie. Some believe it is just a ploy to get Pixar back to the negotiating table and that it will be dropped in a second. What are my feelings? I’m not so sure. Although I give Pixar and Disney getting married again a 50/50 chance, I don’t think TS3 is being used a bargaining chip. Disney just wants to get the ball rolling if the negotiations are a bust.

#3 : DreamWorks

Here we are with DreamWorks in third place on my list. Although some of their projects look promising, Disney nudged them out for second place because of Shrek 3 and Madagascar- that I thought was a step down in story from SharkTale. Flushed Away, Over The Hedge, and the Seinfeld Bee Movie are a few other movies on tap. However, I’m not excited about any of these. With the stock problems, SEC investigations, and general rumors surrounding management, I just don’t know where this studio is going to end up. I don’t think they are going to close or anything that extreme, just that it may affect future productions because so much more is riding on each and every release. This could potentially be a disaster.

#4 : Blue Sky

This was another tough one. I almost put SPA at #4 and dropped Blue Sky down to an insulting fifth. I decided to keep them here and see what happens next. While they have a lot going for them, I’m just not excited about what’s coming down the pipe. Ice Age 2? Did Ice Age really deserve a sequel? Crap. Don’t fall into that Disney sequel trap. Horton Hears a Who. I don’t even know what to think here. I can only hope for the best. Financially, they are doing fine and since they have lots of things going on, maybe they will stop firing people during down time.

#5 : Sony Pictures Animation

These guys have yet to release a CG film. Let’s not count Polar Express. This was not their project and was absolutely hideous. Like Dinosaur/Disney, I’m going to extend a mulligan to these guys. Every studio deserves one mulligan. It is just a shame when they have to use them up so soon. I have high hopes for these guys. They have some talent and definitely have the experience as a studio. On the down side, the rumor is that the management/executive system is even more of a mess than Disney. Creatively speaking, the Open Season teaser looked decent enough. The colors felt a little muddy to me, and the animation was pretty good. The quality is certainly above the second tier studios, but not yet on level with Pixar or Disney. I’m really looking forward to Surf’s Up. This film is still a long ways off, but if the final product is anywhere near the descriptions I’ve heard from the people working on it, then it will be a fun movie.

Part 2 will be coming soon.

Saturday, July 30, 2005

Lions Gate Gets Into Animation

Lions Gate is really on the animation kick. For those not familiar with them, they are a movie company that has their hands in all sorts of film related businesses. Probably most known for their distribution arm, they are responsible for putting out mid to low budget films. ...continued...

Take for instance "Food Fight". This is an animated film being put together by Threshold. I'm sure you've heard of this movie, it is the one that takes place in a grocery store and uses an unbelievable amount of product placement. So much in fact, that I'm not sure I will even be able to watch the thing. After all, I often grit my teeth when watching a movie and the main character drinks a can of Coke, or the camera discreetly focuses on the Mercedes logo before the hero jumps in and speeds off. Think of an animated film with hundreds of product placements as the main characters! bleh.

Speaking of Food Fight, this film has been in production for what seems like forever. I'm not sure what is going on over there. Between them and Delgo, the two movies have been in production for what seems longer than most of us have been alive.

Back to Lions Gate. Looks like they are getting ready for another CG film. The information is confusing. I'm not sure if Threshold is going to do this film, or Lions Gate is doing it (if anyone knows, please chime in). The script is from the 1969 children's book "Sylvester and the Magic Pebble". Is anyone keeping track of all of these movies?! Time to add another one. It will be called "Sylvester".

Paramount Wakes Up

Paramount released a normal trailer for Barnyard. If you recall, they put out this dinky postage stamp sized trailer that was practically useless. Now you can find a normal sized trailer at ...continued...

First things first, that opening scene going through the dark forest was created by Blur Studios, not Omation. I realize the plan all along was to have the opening contrast the rest of the trailer to give bigger impact to the "joke". But, for some reason I can't help to think that it makes Omations stuff look even cheesier.

I said this last time, and I will say it again. I think the trailer is funny. The cow tipping thing makes for some good laughs. However, now that I've seen the higher resolution trailer, I see how Jimmy Neutron'ish this film is. Maybe Paramount wanted to keep "their" style going, since they were part of that movie too. Or maybe the few people that helped start Omation that came from DNA had a huge impact on the style of this film. I'm not sure. All that I'm sure of, it just doesn't do it for me. The character design is okay, but it just looks plastic-like and weird. Quite a few rungs below DreamWorks, Blue Sky, and Pixar projects.

The outdoor environments are nice. I think they did a good job in this area. The animation in the trailer is decent. Although some of the mouth movements looked pretty stiff. I'm not sure if that is an animation or rigging problem. It looks like some of the animation was rushed and they just tried to do too much. Sometimes less is more. You can chalk that up to budget constraints and inexperience of the animation team. Those mocapped characters in the background. I hope they don't stand out too much in the film.

I try not to make too many judgements on trailers. However, what the hell. If I were to go by this thing, I'd say that this movie will be pretty funny. Steve O is capable of some good stuff. Thumbs up on the environments, thumbs down on the character design and general look of those characters. The animation, is what it is. Serviceable, but anything but impressive.

How will this film do? That is a hard one. Jimmy Neutron was a surprise to me in its success. However, Barnyard ended up coming in over budget and won't have the luxury of Neutrons low negative cost. My prediction it will do okay. Probably around Neutrons numbers, if not a little better.

What will happen to Omation after this over? Well, they will have to hire everyone over again if they get a new project. The company has fallen into the all too familiar pattern of hiring then firing. Most of those on this crew will absorb into other productions and they will have to start over with another inexperienced group.

Somehow I don't think the management really cares.

Art Meets Technology

Last night Brad Bird, Bill Kroyer, Eric Goldberg and a few others got together for an event called "Art Meets Technology". Unfortunately I'm out of Los Angeles at the moment and was unable to attend. So, the only thing I can comment about is what others are saying. ...continued...

Judging by what I've heard so far, at least a few things must of been said regarding the so-called death of 2D features. If 2D features are not dead they are definitely on life support. Sure, the art form still lives, but until it is picked up again by a few more studios and is mildly successful in the box office, they will continue to kling to life.

2D will always live on in the hearts of artists. Or at least some of them. Last I heard the artists aren't the ones really flipping the bill when it comes to funding these projects. And until they bring in some coin, they (2D features) will never make a big comeback. So 2D features are alive, just on life support. At least here in the United States and more specifically with the bigger studios.

If your hanging on to some hope that 2D will come back the way it was in the 90's. You can pretty much forget about it. Those days are over. However, I hope that at least one 2D feature is produced each year in this country. It may give a home to those that really don't want to be in 3D and are only there because "they have to be" (see my cry-babies post).

Friday, July 22, 2005

Shane Acker to Direct Feature

Remember a few months ago when I said that someone with little CG or animation experience made a short film and it was picked by Tim Burton to be turned into a CG Feature? Well, it has finally hit the wires. ...continued...

The director is Shane Acker, and his short film was "9". For some unknown reason, this short has gotten a lot of attention. I'll admit it, I just don't see it. I thought the short was boring and was extremely uninteresting. The animation was okay, but didn't grab me as impressive. The best part of it were the environments and textures. However, I wasn't that blown away by them either. It does fit Burton's style (which he will act as Executive Producer) though. A deal was made with "Focus Features" to produce the low budget film.

Even though I thought the story was boring and the visuals were okay. I'll wish Shane some luck. As a newbie to the industry and with no directing experience beyond the short, he is in store for some difficult times. Hey, everyone else is getting money to make a CG film, why not this guy?

Thursday, July 21, 2005

Paramount Releases "Barnyard" Trailer

Paramount decided to release a trailer for "Barnyard". The trailer plays in front of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, however, there is no way I'm going to spend money to see that hideous film. ...continued...

Shame on Paramount for putting a trailer up so small that you can't even tell what you are looking at. Great move! Ignoring the eye strain, the trailer is funny - typical Steve O writing. I like it, although I don't have many thoughts on the animation, lighting, or texturing. It is just too hard to tell at that flea sized resolution. I can say that the character design is just-okay-for-me, looks pretty similar to Jimmy Neutron (which I didn't care for either). I'm not sure why the male cows have utters. Maybe Steve finds that funny.

The trailer centers around cow tipping. That is pretty funny and makes for a nice introduction to this film. Let's hope that the rest of it lives up to the precedent set here.

I'll be back with more scathing comments when they post a decent sized trailer.

Wednesday, July 20, 2005

Vinton -- Metamorphosis' into -- Laika?

What a dumb name for a company. Laika? Phil Knight (CEO of Laika) says "I just thought that 'LAIKA' sounded right. It seemed to fit who we are." Umm. So you feel like a dog that has been catapulted into outer space? (Laika is the dog that was tethered to Sputnik 2 by the Russians).

Okay, I'll stop harping on the name. Lets get on to their new CG feature dreams. ...continued...

If you point your browsers to you can actually see the first part of their short-film "Moongirl". First off, is that a girl? Man, I hope there is a second character that lives on the moon, cause that dude is a dude, not a girl. I guess we won't know until the whole short is finished.

Apart from the case of possible mistaken sex, I can't help but think that this short just doesn't look very good. No disrespect meant for Henry Selick or Vinton, or err, I mean LAIKA! Henry is great, and Laika (I have a hard time using that name) has done some good work in the past. However, this just looks bad to me. The character design is weak at best and the animation is just okay.

It seems that Laika will be doing CG features in the "$50 to $70 Million" budget area. Wow! That was a surprise. I just figured we were in for another round of "Pixar quality animation for $20 million per film". I hope that their film takes a step upwards on the looks scale, cause this short just ain't cutting it for me.

I wish the best of luck to Henry and the gang in the North West. You can do it! Spend those big bucks wisely. We are all expecting a lot for $50-$70!!!!!

Tuesday, July 19, 2005

Cry Babies & This Blog

When I started this blog, my intentions where to provide a place for me to vent, bitch, and moan about all the things that bother me in the industry that I was too afraid to say while using my real name. It started out good enough, but then I didn't keep that up and started posting boring harmless crap about Siggraph and movie trailers.

I woke up this morning and realized I am not staying true to why I started this thing in the first place ...continued...

I started out in traditional animation and as CG animation started happening, I absolutely fell in love with the look and feel of 3D. Even if traditional animation comes back in a big way, I will stay in the CG game. My heart is here now. Some would probably call me a traitor.

The real traitors are the scads of traditional animators that are working in CG animation now and bitching and moaning about what they are doing. I'm not talking about all of them. Of course not. I'm talking about the ones that hate it and are only doing it because they can't find work in traditional animation. The ones that will drop it like a plague as soon as 2D comes back in vogue. The people that constantly scoff at how it isn't true animation. To all you bitchers and moaners, I ask you to go get a job doing something else. Some of us are tired of hearing your griping. None of us that truly love what we are doing want to hear you bad mouthing it. For God's sake go work in the story department or do some character designs or any other department that allows you to keep a pencil in your hand.

I see now-CG animators that came from traditional backgrounds constantly and under their breath say that CG animators aren't worth their weight in shit if they didn't start out holding a pencil. Give me a break. Animation has changed, you don't have to learn with a pencil anymore. Some of these kids can animate circles around you and they never sat at a drawing table. The insecure attitude is just so pathetic. And these comments are coming from someone who started in traditional animation.

Just imagine if 3D suddenly went away and all of those CG animators went into traditional animation and constantly bitched at how hard it is to keep things on model, or how it isn't what they want to be doing. You wouldn't want to hear it, would you? Well, I have news for you. You wouldn't hear it. Because 99% of the CG animators have respect for traditional animation and wouldn't have thoughts of that sort. Sometimes that respect isn't a too way street!!!

Before people get their undies all twisted, I know most traditional animators don't feel this way. However, there definitely are those that do.

I'm sick of all the morons that don't want to be doing what they are doing. If that is the case- then don't do it! What a bunch of cry babies.

Thursday, July 14, 2005


I will be attending Siggraph in a couple of weeks. Will you? There are quite a lot of interesting things to attend. First things first. I don't tend to geek out at the hardware and software. I honestly could care less. My interest lies in hearing of new projects, meeting people, and seeing old friends. Part of the fun is listening in on papers, panels, presentations, and going to parties. Here is my list. I'll add more in the comment section as I find them. Add yours too. ...continued...

* Tuesday Evening: Softimage User Group. Biltmore
* Outsourcing CG: Is It the Problem or the Solution? (Not sure of time yet)
* Legacy Of Disney Animation: 10:30am-12:30pm Wednesday
* CG-CHAR Presentations 12:30pm-4 Wednesday. Westin Bonaventure
* CG Centerfolds and Beyond (CG pervs?)

Berliner Puts up Happily N'ever After Trailer

I saw this posted on the CG-CHAR forums. It seems that Happily N'ever After finally has a (teaser?) trailer out now. It does not look half bad. It has a lower budget feel, however there is nothing wrong with that. Even better it looks somewhat amusing. The animation seems to be better than I expected. Not great, but pretty good. The worst thing I can say about it is; I feel like I'm seeing a preview for a TV special or series, not a movie. ...continued...

For those not familiar with this project. It is another Vanguard (Valiant) Film. It was done at a couple of different locations. One in Europe, the other in Canada. As mentioned, it has a lower budget and the quality shows it. But, I don't think that is a negative. It looks far better than any other lower budget CG films I've seen any work from.

Although shortcuts may of been taken on texturing, the animation is still very good. I think this could be a decent film!

Saturday, July 09, 2005

Roy Disney Throws in the Towell

I was caught completely off guard the other day when I read the press release that Roy and Stanley dropped the lawsuit in return for a token position within Disney. ...continued...

Now, there could absolutely be more going on that we know about. And I'm sure there is. But on the outside it does seem like he just gave up. I've been skeptical about Save Disney's efforts and how they have been handling things for a long time now. Somehow I don't think this should surprise me.

I respect Roy's love for the company and the fact that he wants to make Disney Disney again. However, the last many months have left me less interested in what he was trying to do. Disney (the company, not the man) got away with a lot. They offered him an office and that token position in exchange for a dropped lawsuit and no more bitching.

What the hell happened Roy?

Friday, July 01, 2005

Pixar Takes a Dump

The last month or two have been interesting. Not too long ago, DreamWorks stock took a fall after they over estimated how many Shrek 2 DVD's would sell, then just yesterday, the same thing happens to Pixar. It seems that they overestimated sales of The Incredibles. Their stock took a nasty bite too. continued...

I'm not sure what is going on, but I find it odd that the two companies both had very similar problems. It probably isn't anything more than a current slow period of DVD buyers. Same thing is happening with theatre take. Everything seems to be in a lull. I don't think we are seeing any new trends, just a temporary slump.

Speaking of Pixar and The Incredibles. There is an event going on July 29th that Brad Bird will be participating in. You can find out more here:

Monday, June 27, 2005

Chicken Little to be Shown in 3-D

I was wondering how long it would take for a major 3D CG film to be released in 3-D (you wear special glasses). This is exciting news. Maybe just a gimic, but very neat, none the less.

The Walt Disney Studios and Dolby Bring Disney Digital 3-D(TM) to Selected Theaters Nationwide With CHICKEN LITTLE on Dolby Digital Cinema

In a Revolutionary Collaboration With Dolby Laboratories, Employing Dolby Digital Cinema Combined With Industrial Light & Magic's Proprietary Software Technology, Walt Disney Pictures Debuts New 3-D TECHNOLOGY With CHICKEN LITTLE, Its First All-CGI Animated Feature

BURBANK, Calif., June 27 -- Disney once again leads the film industry by introducing Disney Digital 3D(TM), a brand new, state-of-the-art technology providing the first true three-dimensional digital experience in movie theatres, with the highly anticipated movie Chicken Little to be released on November 4, 2005. In collaboration with Disney, Dolby Laboratories plans to install its Dolby® Digital Cinema systems in approximately 100 specially-selected, high-profile theatres in 25 top markets that will present the 3D film. Visual effects giant Industrial Light & Magic (a Lucasfilm Ltd. company) will render the movie in 3D so it can be played on Dolby Digital Cinema servers at selected theatres. This joint effort will create the next leap forward in the evolution of motion picture entertainment, bringing animation to life.

This historic debut of an entirely new release format will further define, refine, and elevate the film art form and marks the first time a major motion picture studio (Disney) has fully embraced a digital deployment plan. Disney selected Dolby Digital Cinema, a state-of-the-art digital cinema presentation system, to debut Chicken Little's brand new proprietary CG animation process. Dolby's technology, combined with Industrial Light & Magic's newly invented method of creating digital 3D imagery, provides the first feature motion picture presented in true digital 3D. Viewers of Chicken Little will experience this revolutionary format with the use of special 3D glasses offering greater clarity and more comfort than conventional 3D glasses.

Commenting on the announcement, Dick Cook, chairman, The Walt Disney Studios, said, "Disney Digital 3D is a truly groundbreaking technology that combines the latest innovations of science and art, and we are proud to be a part of filmmaking history. Our proprietary, state-of-the-art CG animation process used to make Chicken Little and future animation projects will finally allow moviegoers to experience true digital three-dimensional entertainment in theatres." Cook continued, "Walt Disney pioneered many technological breakthroughs and set an uncompromising goal for his Studio to constantly push the envelope to offer a superior movie going experience. We are very proud to add this animation milestone to the long list of technological breakthroughs for the studio, and we are especially thrilled to work with entertainment technology leader Dolby in this exciting launch. Likewise, we are proud to have the wizards at Industrial Light & Magic to help deliver the movie in 3D."

"Disney and Dolby's commitment to digital cinema paves the way for a large scale digital cinema deployment," said Tim Partridge, Senior Vice President and General Manager, Professional Division, Dolby Laboratories. "Dolby is a trusted brand for providing technologies that dramatically improve the moviegoing experience, and Disney has a fantastic reputation for delivering incredible movies to audiences worldwide. This is a great collaboration between both companies to launch Chicken Little on Dolby Digital Cinema."

ILM President Chrissie England said, "The digital 3D release of Chicken Little is a very exciting chapter in Hollywood history as it marks the next generation of moviemaking. We are delighted to participate with Disney in setting a new benchmark for the future. We are pleased that Chicken Little is the first animated movie to use our new process using Disney's actual 3D models, animation, and camera data. This process allows us to provide a richer, more nuanced viewing experience for moviegoers than any existing postproduction techniques. We feel audiences will embrace this experience as the new standard in animated features."

Sunday, June 26, 2005

Use 'Em Then Dump 'Em

CG features seem to be starting to follow the live-action trend of setting up for a specific project, then dismantling everything...

Except for the big studios that are creating movie after movie (Pixar, Disney, DreamWorks), it seems that companies are keeping lean and mean. Bulking up for the project then letting everyone go afterwards. There is no other way that these $20 million features can exist. (Unless they are moving immediately onto another movie project. And that is not easy for a new studio to do.) There is most likely going to be enough down time inbetween that there is no way they can continue to pay employees to play solitaire at their workstations.

This works for live-action films because... well.. it just works. It could work in animation, but production crews don't seem to get rolling or gel'ing until a movie production is coming to an end anyway. If you lay these folks up and try to re-hire for the next project, you are risking many things. First off. Will the employees that were dumped in the street even want to come back when they have a chance to move to a studio that cares more about long term multi-project hiring? It makes sense financially. Or it seems that it would on the surface. But with all the retraining and restaffing, infrastructure buildup. It isn't exactly as easy as a live action film.

The Ever Increasing List of Feature Studios

The list of those jumping into the CG feature game has got to be at its height. I'm hearing about new a new studio almost once a week now. Simply incredible. The budgets seem to be getting lower and lower too....

I read a press release from a studio in Florida called "Raven Moon". Their goal is to create a CG feature for 1.5 million! Yes, that decimal is in the right place. It doesn't appear that they have distribution yet. They expect to make $25M return. Super low budget films have their place. And if they can pull it off, $25M is a huge return. Surely the marketing would have to be more than the whole budget for the movie itself!

Let me fire up the calculator. If the production takes 12 months to complete (yeah right!), and you need 40 people to complete the movie (again, "yeah right!"), you end up with an average salary of $37,500. Anything is possible, but these guys are really expecting 1.5 million to go far. And I didn't even account post-production, voicing, composing, etc, etc, etc, etc. Their accountant must be far sighted.

The latest trend in most of these new studios is creating a film between 20-30 million. That is certainly doable if everything goes smoothly. However you better have pretty simple requirements. Twenty million gets eaten up fast. Don't make any mistakes. Bwaahaha

Since the money spigot is obviously flowing freely, if any of you rich visitors to this blog would like to fund a CG film, please contact me at I'll take your $10-$50 million and get together a few guys and come up with the next block buster. If your going to throw some dollars around, throw them my way. :o)

Friday, June 10, 2005

List of Animated Movies

"Fesler" posted a comment for one of the blog entries I made. It was interesting enough to post a reply and see exactly what we have in store for us in our animation future.

Fesler posted a list of upcoming animated movies. To put an interesting twist on it and to piss some people off, let's play CG FILM Word Association. For those of you that have never been to a psychologist. This is where you blab the first thing that comes to your mind when given a name.


Foodfight -- Probably will never be finished. If so, will never see a theatrical release.

Surf's Up -- Interesting premise. I'm looking forward to this one.

Valiant -- Didn't do very well in Europe. Will do even worse here in the states.

Chicken Little -- So far, it looks good and could help Disney regain some shine. If it does poorly, look for Disney to freak out and fire more people.

Happily Never After -- Lower quality, not excited about this film.

Delgo -- Read comments for Foodfight.

Water Warriors -- I think Henson was doing this by motion capturing puppets. Stupid way of animating a CG film. Just for that fact, I hope it fails.

Ice Age 2 -- Not sure of the premise for this movie. I'm sure it will do okay. Hopefully the story is better than Robots.

Barnyard -- Stinker. Almost as smelly as a real barnyard.

The Wild -- Lots of technical trouble on this film.

Over the Hedge -- Did they fix the story problems?

Ant Bully -- No comment.

American Dog -- Optimistic.

Where the Wild Things Are -- Dead.

Yankee Irving -- Died along with Christopher Reeves?

Horton -- Not a fan of Dr. Seuss.

Day With Wilbur Robinson -- Originally the project that everyone jumped to when they wanted off of Chicken Little.

Jimmy Neutron 2 -- Please tell me this franchise is dying.

Cars -- I'm sure it will be good.

Spider and the Fly -- Sounds like a good time for a nap.

Flushed Away -- Intersted to see what they do with this.

Gnomeo and Juliett -- Did this die yet?

Bee Movie -- Jerry Seinfeld. It must be good! hah

Igor -- Interesting story. Probably will look like crap and end up as a DTV.

Opus -- Wild Brain. Mixed feelings. Hope it turns out nice.

Crood Awakening -- Sounds funny.

Rapunzel Unbraided -- Directed by a guy that probably hates CG.

Pixar Rat Movie -- Who doesn't love rats? :|

Shrek 3 -- Enough already.

Toy Story 3 -- Ditto. But still intersted to see the fist fight between Pixar and Disney.

Ollie the Otter -- Oh boy. I will be surprised if this gets a theatrical release more than a few theatres.

Kung Fu Panda -- Who wouldn't like an ass kickin Panda?

Puss and Boots -- Best character in Shrek 2.

Ribbit -- Vanguard tries again.

Space Chimps -- Interesting. Probably a flop.

Amarillo Armadillo -- No clue.

That concludes today's word association. Boy, wasn't that fun? :D

Open Season

For those of you that did not get a chance to see the Open Season teaser before Madagascar, it was released on the web a couple of weeks ago.

If you click on the link from above, you can check it out. Overall I was disappointed by the effort. Now, before anyone goes crazy, I know this is only a teaser and not an indication of how wonderful the film may be. But, you have to judge what you are given.

The look and animation far surpasses Jimmy Neutron or what we will see from Barnyard and the other animation properties we'll see from studios we've never heard of. However, I hold Sony Pictures Animation on another level and expect them to be the closest competition to Pixar, Disney, and DreamWorks that you will find.

So what is my problem with it? First off, the colors are completely murky and depressing. The animation is okay, but nothing to get excited about. I'm especially disappointed with the acting at the end with the bear and the deer. The lipsync lacks a crispness that makes me feel like these characters are not talking. It is obvious that the animators are using IK for the deers arms, because they forgot to animate some movement in a couple of places and reeks of some sloppy execution. It just is a few levels below what I would expect from SPA.

As far as voices? Ashton Kutcher is a horrible choice for a cartoon. The bear doesn't feel right to me either. I just don't feel a connection between the voices and the characters.

Do I have anything good to say about it? Yeah, as a matter of a fact... The story sounds promising and the bear's character design and technical execution is nice. The human character looks good (and works far better than any of the animals, imo).

Hopefully this teaser was rushed and the final product will be better animated. Right now I'm sitting back and feeling a little disappointed.

Tuesday, May 31, 2005

Memorial Day Mix

After a long day of inhaling gas grill fumes, I decided to post an entry before passing out. A few things come to mind at the end of this Holiday weekend. ...continued...

First off. Congrats to DreamWorks for their successful opening weekend of Madagascar. Although I didn't think the story was all that great, and some of the frantic animation gave me a migraine, it was a fun time and an enjoyable movie. I believe the estimate was around $60 million for the 4 days. Pretty good! :)

I went to see Madagascar a second time on Saturday. One of the trailers was for "Open Season" from Sony Pictures Animation. I can't say that I loved the character design, nor can I say that the animation was very appealing (it was decent, but not impressive) to me. I'm still looking forward to this release, even if it is more than a year away.

Vanguard Animation has been issuing a few press releases the past few days. I guess they aren't dead afterall. With "Ribbit" coming down the line and "Space Chimps" still in the mix, they seem to have a lot to do. Will they farm out the production work to 3rd parties, or will they ramp up a studio again? Only time will tell.

There are a few pictures of Omation's "Barnyard" around the net. I've been told that these are older and not really representative of their latest work. My only comment is, I sure hope so. If you ask me (and since this blog is mostly my personal opinion anyway) the character design is boring and unappealing. For the life of me, I cannot understand why they would even publicly show these images if they are not the final designs/models. It only casts a negative light on the project.

Thursday, May 26, 2005

Grab Bag

Sorry about another delay. With my schedule lately, it has been impossible to keep this blog filled with new information. I'm sorry. I'll just start talking and see where this goes. ...continued...

Madagascar opens this weekend. It is a fun movie, therefore I recommend everyone go see it. It has some really nice/snappy animation that will keep any geeks salivating. The story is pretty good too. Go see it. If for any other reason, support our industry.

A week or two ago I spoke about an animation studio trying to open up in LA. Nothing new to report on that front. However, I've just heard of a deal that is about to potentially happen that would result in ANOTHER studio opening in LA. This time they are selling it as a 2 picture deal, with some very low budgets (under $25 million each). Some of the work will be outsourced to other countries, but most of the work will take place in LA. You know how I feel about outsourcing, so I won't even bother to get worked up over it. I know very little about the projects other than the name of the first movie and a synopsis. I won't divulge that information until after a public announcement has been made. It is simply enough to say that I'm not overly impressed. We'll see what happens.

Is Vanguard back in business?! An announcement from Cannes made it sound like John Williams is doing a CG movie called "Ribbit". It is about... you guess it... frogs. I don't quite know if they are going to outsource it or start another facility in the UK. It isn't exactly efficient to break down and build up studios for each movie, but John seems okay with it.

Speaking of building up a studio for each production. This is something that live action does all the time, and you wouldn't believe the number of producers I talk to that want to pattern CG productions in the same way. A LLC is created each time a movie is made, the crew/equipment/etc/etc are brought together to make the film, then it all disbands and nothing is left. This is asking for trouble when you do it for CG films. The infrastructure is enormous and the time lost to putting all of those computers together is frightening. Whether it will save any money or not, remains to be seen.

How is this for an idea for a new company?

Someone buys and configures a ton of computers. They are all hooked up and ready to go, complete with a CG pipeline (software) in place to make it run. They simply rent/lease the hardware/pipeline to producers who insist on building a team and dumping them for every project. You could even make it transportable so that the equipment can be sent to whatever country/state needs it. I'm only half kidding. If anyone takes this idea and runs with it. At least credit me for giving you the inspiration and provide a link to this website. :)

Friday, May 13, 2005

Another LA Based Animation Studio?!

I originally heard about this a couple of months ago. However, I decided not to post anything to this blog for a couple of reasons. First off, I did not want to immediately out myself in case the source of this information is a reader. Second, I wanted to get another confirmation to see if it was real. I tend to hear a lot of rumors as I jump around. Some of these are completely false, but most of these turn out to be real even if they never see the light of day for one reason or another. ...continued...

Anyone that has been to this blog before, knows that I am pretty skeptical about new studios coming out of no where and claiming to be the next Pixar. They obviously have good intentions but are bound for self destruction. Either the management or the producers or even the supervisors themselves don't know what they are doing. Or have so little experience that success is unlikely. If animation is difficult, an animated feature is almost impossible. And let us not forget that simply managing a business of this size is a difficult task in itself.

A quick rundown (in no particular order) tells me that the winners will be: Pixar, DreamWorks, Blue Sky, Sony Pictures Animation, Disney, Wild Brain, DNA. The losers will be CORE, ElectroAge (Exodus Film Group), Critter Pix, Gigga Pix (never mentioned this one before, more to come), Fathom Studios. I'm still on the fence about Vinton Studios, Omation, and IDT. Our first casuality seems to be Vanguard.

You may be wondering if I am schizophrenic by now. The reason I brought up the whole "animation is difficult" speech is because this new startup that I am hearing rumors on, doesn't seem to be falling into the category of "you've got to be kidding". They don't seem to be making unrealistic goals and they seem to be jumping in with people that have done it before.

So what is this rumor? It appears that a new LA based studio is in its infancy. Not too long ago, I'm told that they started the process to buy a HUGE swath of land and office space. Now, I won't give the location, however I do know where it is and have seen it in person. It will be pretty impressive to be able to get a hold of a property like this in this location. The office square footage and land acreage is immense. They say location is everything, and this seems like a really nice location to me (I only say LA as to remain vague). I've also heard how much they are spending and it won't come cheap. That can mean two things. They are foolishly spending a lot of money on space and location when they can get a cheaper deal somewhere else. Or it could mean, they have lots of financial backing and getting this space is not an issue.

Unlike the list of studios that seem to pop up every month getting ready to jump in on the CG feature feeding frenzy, this one seems to be going in with its head on straight. Even the head honcho looks to have his priorities straight (story first second and third) and is listening to the creatives. Some of the people that are involved are people that I have heard of and have been a part of some really great projects. The others that I hadn't heard of, I did a Google and IMDB search and was impressed. If this thing pans out, it could be one of the few startups jumping into CG features that I have some faith in. They have two important ingredients. Talent and financial backing.

What about another ingredient? And something that I found that was strange. Is that they do not have a story yet. There are people involved that have been on the story crew of some of the biggest blockbusters around, but a first movie has not been selected. I guess the money that is being invested is based on the crew and management rather than the story. Guess this is a good opportunity for someone out there.