Thursday, March 16, 2006

March Madness

No, I'm not talking about college basketball. I simply couldn't come up with a more clever title for this post. Speaking of basketball, did you ever play "around the world" as a kid? That's what we are doing here, going "around the animation world". Wow, was that a pathetic transition or what?! I'll send my apologies up front. My coffee adiction has gotten out of hand and I am trying to quit. Unfortunately, it is playing havoc on my usual mental prowess.

How about Brad Bird taking over for Jan Pinkava on Pixar's next movie "Ratatouille"? Does anyone know the skinny on what happened over there? I haven't gotten a straight answer, which means no one wants to be honest. Eventually it will slip out. Maybe someone can shed some light on the situation. I would imagine Jan is now a co-director on the project, as opposed to just completely removed from it. These things tend to cause rifts and we all know what happened to Ash Brannon (one of the original directors of TS2. Ash ended up leaving Pixar and is now directing a movie for Sony Imageworks after brief stops at some other studios.) I wonder if the same will happen with Jan? Probably not, but you never know. My gut instinct is that Ratatouille had some story problems and it was just moving too slowly getting them fixed. Insert new director.

Rapunzel is still moving forward. Sounds as if Glen is really interested in seeing how far he can push CG animation. Good for him. Last I heard, American Dog is on the ropes and is a possibly going down for the count. I'm speculating here, but I think there are far too many "Pixar" projects that will be realized at Disney. Somehow they have to start making room on the calendar for them. Wilbur is moving along just fine and I think this could be a really nice movie. And now that the development execs and layers of management are on their way out, it won't get destroyed at the last minute. This will probably be the first movie coming out of Disney in a while that no one will be able to blame management.

Sony Pictures Animation continues to work on Open Season. This film (imo) has the nicest look of all the CG films coming out in the near future. Cars looks nice, but it just doesn't grab me in the art direction department. Maybe it is just too glossy for my tastes. Over The Hedge looks okay, but parts just plain look sub(DreamWorks)standard. The story appears to be boring and the voice casting is insane. Back to SPA... I've recently seen some artwork and development work for Surf's Up, and like Open Season, it equally looks great. I think SPA is really onto something here.

Framestore (UK) recently announced they are starting their own feature animation division led by... David Lipman! ... trying.. to restrain myself.... umm. No comment here. :o

The Weinstein's continue to scour the universe for lower budget productions created in other countries. The latest distribution deal is with the CG Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles movie that is being produced by Imagi in Hong Kong. This is good news for anyone making cheaper films. Maybe you can get distribution through these guys too. They seem to be hungry for projects.

The latest "Happy Feet" teaser features a penguin dancing and singing (voiced by Robin Williams). It is much better than their previous clips, however it still has that odd motion capture feel. I'm sure the general movie going audience could care less. And really, most producers just don't care what you or I think about mocap.

That's it. I realize that my posts lately haven't been the most interesting. I just haven't had a lot of time to sit down and come up with something really enlightening (as if that has ever happened). Hopefully things will change. I appreciate the three people that continue to read this blog anyway!! :)

Credit Where Credit is Due

It is frustrating when you give out some new information and another website steals it and doesn't even mention where it came from to begin with. This has happened several times now, and now that the same website has done it multiple times, it really starting to make me crabby.

Animated News at least pointed out that it came from here. And then someone posted on Animation Nation a link to the post. All cool with me. But, then another website takes that information and makes it sound like his breaking information and it is sooo clear where he got it from. I wish this fanboy would grow some.

If this only happened once or maybe twice, I'd probably just smile and keep my trap shut. At least make it less obvious next time. "L"

Monday, March 13, 2006

Development Execs Canned?

Word is, last week, many of the development execs at Disney were shown the door. In an attempt to clean house and make Disney the Disney of old, this was the first necessary step.

The layer of uncreative development execs that micromanaged projects to death over at the mouse are reportedly gone. I haven't seen any official word on this, however I was told by a friend that was told by his friend that is close to the situation. I'm waiting to hear it for myself from someone more direct. However, this wouldn't surprise me in the least. Good riddance to rubbish.

Saturday, March 04, 2006

Around The Horn

There haven't been many posts lately, and for that, I apologize. Work has gotten busy and I just have not found the time to write anything. In fact, this will be pretty brief itself.

This is going to be a big year for CG films. It will be interesting to see how things pan out. The recent flop of Doogal was no surprise, however the relative success of Hoodwinked was. Congratulations to the team that put it together. I hope that the next round will have a high enough budget to keep the work in the States. As any reader of my blog, you probably have gathered that I don't have a problem with low budget productions, just the outsourcing of those projects to other countries. Just a note or two... I've had some conversations with people regarding Hoodwinked and although the budget for the CG was pretty small, the other tangibles were not. This film will be lucky to break even after it leaves theaters when it is all said and done. However, that is not too unusual for a film. Just wanted to note that it is not a runaway low budget (relative dollar wise) block buster. I think we will continue to see more Hoodwinked films with super low budgets. However, I think the majority will fit in the 25-40 Million area. This seems to be the sweet spot right now for these entry level studios or those not trying to immitate Pixar/Disney/DreamWorks/SPA/Blue Sky.

Speaking of entry level studios. Over the months, I have mentioned little blurbs here and there about a new CG feature animation studio opening in LA. I've had talks with those in the know about this endeavor and things are still on track. In fact, I've heard that funding is almost complete. Their financial needs are much more than just a film or two. I'm really biting my lip here and want to blab about it. But, I'll restrain myself. This studio will ramp up very quickly once the funding comes in and their CG feature budgets will be north of $90 million per film. They are currently evaluating several potential stories. At least one of them is very well known in the animation community and, in my opinion, is a very hot property. I think it will be one of those stories that a lot of people will really want to work on and have wanted to see happen for a long time. It will be interesting to watch this company sprout up and see how fast (or not) it can get into gear. If you are in LA and aren't happy with your current situation, or maybe you want to jump up the ladder (or looking for an excuse to get out here). Get your reels revved up. I have a feeling hiring could start around June.

There is not a whole lot to say regarding the Pixar/Disney thing. It still has not officially happened. And until it does, I don't think a lot will be happening. Lasseter immediately removed TS3 from Disney's clutches, and really, that was probably his number one agenda. Things will cool off until the deal is completed. Then watch for more cuts.

That is it for today. Hopefully I will have more time to write in the next week.