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'Tower of the Dragon' opens funding campaign on Kickstarter

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Tower of The DragonTower of the Dragon is a 3D animation project based in San Leandro, California. It plans to tell the story of Lyric, a young girl who has to save a world where reading is forbidden and magic is only used by those who obey without thinking.

The story is to deal with such issues such as bullying, insecurity, and self reliance. The fully-rendered movie is anticipated to cost $2,000,000 to make, so at present the project is focusing on creating an animatic of the screenplay.

A Kickstarter campaign has been started, hoping to raise $50,000 to fund its creation. Once the animatic is complete, it will be shown to 100+ reviewers, and their feedback will be used to create a revised animatic, in an iterative process until the story is ready to be rendered at full resolution.

With 21 days to go, the campaign has raised $16,811.

Coming from the 24th-and-a-Half CEN-tury…!

The Duck Dodgers TV series — based, as if you didn’t know, on the Chuck Jones-directed cartoon Duck Dodgers in the 24th 1/2 Century — ran on Cartoon Network from 2003 to 2005. [My, was it really that long ago?  Sheesh... Ye ed-otter] Besides the obvious cast of Daffy Duck as Duck Dodgers, Porky Pig as The Eager Young Space Cadet, and Marvin the Martian as the terrible Commander X-2, the show featured a host of Warner Brothers characters in bit roles — not to mention new characters like the dreaded Martian Queen. The regular voice cast included well-known voice actors like Joe Alaskey, Bob Bergen, Richard McGonagle, and John O’Hurley, as well as Michael Dorn (from Star Trek: The Next Generation) and Tia Carrere (as the Martian Queen). Now Warner Brothers Home Video have (finally!) released the first 13 episodes on DVD in a collection entitled Duck Dodgers – Season 1: Dark Side of the Duck. It’s available now in stores and on-line everywhere.


image c. 2013 Warner Brothers Animation

Animation: The legend of 'The Legend of Tembo'

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The Legend of TemboHave you ever heard of The Legend of Tembo? It was a new animation feature, the first from a new CGI studio in Port St. Lucie, Florida, Tradition Studios, created by another new company, Digital Domain, to be finished and released during 2014.

In 2009, Digital Domain Media Group received incentive grants worth nearly $70 million from the state and Port St. Lucie to build an approximately 120,000-square-foot, $40 million digital production studio in Tradition. The studio is expected to be complete in December. (2011 press release)

Tradition hired Disney veterans Aaron Blaise and Chuck Williams to direct it. During 2011 and the beginning of 2012, Digital Domain put out a slew of press releases to describe it.

Review: ‘My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic’ Friendship Express DVD (with bonus puppies)

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'My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic' Friendship Express DVDYou see I’ve been through the desert on a horse with no name. It felt good to be out of the rain.
America, “A Horse with No Name

Wal-Mart, you have failed me.

At this point in time, I should be reviewing the “Adventures in the Crystal Empire” DVD, but the closest Wal-Mart decided not to stock that one, so I had to order it online. Meanwhile, they managed to put out the “Pinkie Pie Party” DVD, but in such small numbers that it sold out instantly. I missed a copy.
Once again, you see what I have to work with here?

So, I’m stuck reviewing this older DVD which I had to drive hundreds of miles to get a copy of. No really, I drove to a Barnes and Noble hundreds of miles away to obtain my copy.

Announcement: 'Turbo F.A.S.T.' sliming to a TV set near you

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The Cartoon Brew announces that DreamWorks Animation and Netflix are teaming up for Netflix’s and TV streaming's first original TV series. Turbo F.A.S.T. (for Fast Action Stunt Team) will be a sequel to DreamWorks’ July 19, 2013 theatrical feature Turbo, about the fastest snail on Earth. Turbo F.A.S.T. “debuts exclusively this December in the United States and across the globe in the 40 countries where Netflix offers its service.”

The press release quoted by Cartoon Brew consists mostly of DreamWorks’ Jeffrey Katzenberg and Netflix’s Ted Sarandos congratulating each other, but it does say,

Turbo’s pursuit of racing greatness continues in Turbo: F.A.S.T.: an episodic animated television series that picks up where the feature film leaves off. It showcases the world-traveling exploits of our snail hero and his tricked-out racing crew as they master outrageous new stunts and challenge any villain unlucky enough to cross their path.

It also announces that DreamWorks’ features from 2013 on will be added to Netflix’s programming.

Opinion: Furries, Freud, art, and "sexual correctness"

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The Rumpus, a blog aimed at the challenging side of pop culture, brings up Furry Fandom's most divisive topic in Oh So Furry: The Rumpus Interview with Kilcodo.

Rumpus: Are cartoons sexy? Are animals sexy? Or are both of those statements irrelevant? Is it more the re-imaging idea?

Kilcodo: It depends on the person, but I think if you look at the way that we use language and the way we think about what is and isn’t sexy, we’ve constantly used anthropomorphic language. We call a sexy woman a fox. We call an older sexy woman a cougar. We call men bear, wolf. I’ve heard otter being used in the gay community. And I think that’s because as sexual beings we can see eroticism in many different organic forms, and I think because animals are beautiful, people like to meld the two forms together, so you have a human body and a majestic head of an animal, and people find that beautiful and even erotic.

Kilcodo's thoughtful answer brings to mind the Freudian term "Polymorphous perversity".

NYC has anthro animation festivals, too

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Despite the implication on Flayrah, Los Angeles is not the only city to have festivals of animation with anthropomorphic stars. On February 28th through March 24th, the 16th Annual New York International Children’s Film Festival will play at seven different locations in NYC. The Festival will screen 100 different films (some live-action), and is expected to draw an attendance of 25,000+. It will present many of the films in the U.S. for the first time, to qualify them for 2013 Oscars.

Among the films are several that have been covered on Flayrah, including the Belgian Ernest & Celestine, about a mouse and a bear who become friends (French with English subtitles; Feb. 28 at Tribeca Cinemas); The Wolf Children (Ame & Yuki, the Wolf Children), about a college student who marries a werewolf who dies, and must raise their two werewolf toddlers alone (Japanese with English subtitles; March 3 at the Asia Society and 16 at SVA); The Day of the Crows, mostly about a feral child raised in the forest, but with some fantasy scenes of anthropomorphic animal-headed forest spirits (French with English subtitles; March 10 at FIAF); Welcome to the Space Show “with an intergalactic cast of thousands” (premiere of the English dub; March 9 at SVA), and Meet the Small Potatoes, for pre-schoolers about a musical group of animated potatoes who rise from small-town beginnings to international rock stardom (March 16 at the IFC Center and March 24 at the DGA Theater).

More Chuck Jones than you can shake a cartoonist at!

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Chuck Jones Center for CreativityOn Presidents’ Day weekend in Los Angeles, February 16 – 18, The Cinefamily and the Chuck Jones Center for Creativity will present a three-day Chuck Jones Centennial Celebration, in honor of the 100th anniversary of his birth (which was on September 21, 1912 actually, but what’s a few months among friends?), at the Silent Movie Theatre, 611 North Fairfax Avenue, Los Angeles, CA 90036; (323) 655-2510. The program begins at 4:00 p.m. on Saturday and Sunday, and at noon on Monday.

The Annie Winners!

The Annie Awards are often referred to as The Oscars of Animation. Presented each year by ASIFA-Hollywood (a division of the International Animated Film Society), the Annies celebrate the best in animated films and television as voted on by members of the animation industry from around the world. Needless to say, every year several anthropomorphic works are represented among the nominees — and sometimes even among the winners! On Saturday, February 2nd the Annie Awards for 2012 were presented at a gala ceremony at Royce Hall on the campus of the University of California at Los Angeles (UCLA).  Unlike in previous years, this year’s ceremony didn’t really have a “host”: Each presenter basically introduced the next presenter. In the feature film category the night largely belonged to Disney Animation’s film Wreck It Ralph, which won for Music, Writing, Voice Acting (for Alan Tudyk as King Candy), Directing (Rich Moore), and of course Best Animated Feature. Disney/Pixar’s Brave was also represented, bringing home wins for Feature Editing and Feature Production Design. Dreamworks’ Rise of the Guardians also took home awards in two technical categories, Feature Storyboarding and Effects Animation. Over in the TV categories, the biggest winner of the night was Dreamworks’ Dragons: Riders of Berk. In addition to a win for Best TV Production for Children, Dragons won for Storyboarding, Music, and Directing. Dreamworks’ Kung Fu Panda: Legends of Awesomeness won in a single category, TV Editing.

Pizza Cats on DVD

In 1990 Tatsunoko Studios of Japan released the “science-fiction historical gag battle anime” known as Kyattou Ninden Teyandee. It was fan-subbed in the U.S. as Ninja Pizza Cats, and eventually Saban Entertainment released it to television in a dubbed version called Samurai Pizza Cats. For many years, the rights to the show have been up in the air, but now Discotek Media have announced they will soon be releasing the entire series to DVD. According the review at Anime News Network, the series “revolves arouund Nyankii, a secret ninja team that protects the robotic animal inhabitants of Edoropolis (Little Tokyo) from the evil ninja organization Karakara.” That hardly begins to describe just how crazy this thing is. Discotek will be releasing two different DVD box sets: A 52-episode dubbed version and a 54-episode subtitled version.


image c. 2013 Discotek Media

Animation: The cat wants a bar mitzvah

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The Rabbi's CatFrom January 18 to 25, the GKids (Guerrilla Kids International Distribution Syndicate) distributor gave the 98-minute French animated feature The Rabbi’s Cat (Le Chat du Rabbin), directed by Joann Sfar and Antoine Delesvaux, produced by Autochenille Production (a studio set up in 2007 by Sfar and Delesvaux to make this movie), and based on Sfar’s French five-volume graphic novel of the same name (volumes 1, 2, and 5 of it, to be exact), a one-week American limited “general” distribution, in San Francisco, Los Angeles, and San Diego on the West Coast. It will have an East Coast release in mid-March.

The original French release, on June 1, 2011, won the Annecy Crystal for Best Feature at the 2011 Annecy International Animated Film Festival, and the 2012 César Award (“the French Oscar”) for Best Animated Film. It had a one-week release in one theater in America on December 7-13 to qualify for 2012 American film awards, and was nominated for the Annie in two categories, Best Animated Feature and Outstanding Achievement, Directing in an Animated Feature Production.

On January 20, my sister and I went to the Laemmle Town Center 5 in Encino to see The Rabbi's Cat, in French with English subtitles. It was playing for a week, and has gotten a mixed but generally favorable illustrated review in LA Weekly, January 18-24, 2013, the major citywide free alternative newspaper. Rotten Tomatoes gave it 93%.

Video games: 'Disney Infinity' stars everybody!

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Cartoon Brew has a new 3’04” trailer for Disney’s forthcoming video game, Disney Infinity, coming in Summer 2013, that apparently has every Disney and Pixar character in it that are not already in the other Disney “team” video games such as the core funny animal stars and the Princesses. Anthropomorphic characters? Plenty of 'em!

Animation: 'Goodnight, Sweet Pac-Man'

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Last November, Cartoon Brew brought us a phony trailer for a live-action Pac-Man theatrical feature. Today, it’s “Goodnight, Sweet Pak-Man”, a 3’10” revisioning by animator Chris Weller of Pac-Man as a modern, mega-gritty video game.

I broke the game down to its basics: You’re a mouth, stuck in a never-ending maze, trying to eat all the food while evading death at every turn. Every 3 levels there is an animated ‘cinema scene’ of Pac-Man meeting a Ms. Pac-Man. They fall in love and every 3 levels produce another Pac-Man Jr. So the game is analogous to the very primal basics of life: Eating, procreating, and trying not to die.

Furry Movie Award Watch: January 2013

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The Oscar nominees have been announced, and it is a weird year. It was so weird, most Oscar pundits had a better idea of what would win Best Original Song than Best Picture. Now that the nominees are out, it looks like Best Picture is finally clear, but most pundits (this one included) have a better lock on Best Foreign Language Film than Best Animated Feature. So much for “we’ll know come November.”

Animation: 'Thor: Legends of Valhalla'

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Did you know that Thor’s magic hammer has a name, Crusher, and is anthropomorphic?

I don’t recall that Marvel Comics ever taught us that. You can see for yourself on the 15th when the (bad) Icelandic 2011 CGI 3-D feature Thor: Legends of Valhalla, directed by Óskar Jónasson, is released in America Direct to Video. Or watch this 1’37” trailer.

Actually, Crusher is an accurate translation of Mjölnir, the mythological hammer's name.

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