Friday, January 27, 2006

New Kid's Show Based On Clive Barker's "Hellraiser"


"Heckraiser: The New Breed", a new cartoon show for preschoolers based on the movie series by Clive Barker debuts this week.

Jane Weimarant, producer for JumpStop Animation says the new kid's show will follow the adventures of "SafetyPinHead" and the "Junior Cenobites" as they thwart their Nanny (only seen from the knees down), and try to find the puzzle-box that will send them back to Heck.

"It's time for us to help Mr. Barker freshen the brand, and introduce everyone's favorite multidimensional S&M monsters to a whole new generation."

In the premier episode, SafetyPinHead feels jealous because he thinks Butterball Cenobite ate the last piece of Lemon Meringue pie. Butterball swears he didn't, but SafetyPinHead is so sure Butterball is fibbing that he concocts a trap that springs rusty hooks into Butterball's stomach and flays his intestines open, exposing the pie, which SafetyPinHead greedily gobbles up. They both wind up with tummy-aches, but for completely different reasons!

"That episode underlines the lessons inside every show" Ms. Weimarant continued. "It shows the effects of jealousy, and fibbing, and how we must all tolerate one another, whether we're grown-ups, children, or shrieking demons being skinned alive for eternity in a flaming pit of despair. Plus the colors are really nice."

"Some people balk at animation's long tradition of making kid's shows from source material that's inappropriate, from "Robocop" to "The Toxic Avenger" but we think that once kids see the warm interaction between Chattering Cenobite Jr. and Skinless Frankie, all fear will melt away. We also plan a cameo from Candyman coming up, and as we know- all kids love candy!"

Thursday, January 19, 2006

The Best Thing About Animation- The Groupies

Boy- I'm so excited about starting work on my new animated feature. I can picture the Academy Award and the crowds of girls!

I found out over dinner that Mary-Anne, the Executive Producer, can't pay me any money now, so I probably shouldn't have told everybody at the Moving Experience (where I used to work) to go flying right straight to hell. But Mary-Anne has promised me that after the movie shows its profits, I can get a cut of the action! Using simple math, I can see how I will be a millionaire by the time I'm thirty!

Then Mom can live in MY basement!

I pitched my story to Mary-Anne at a fancy restaurant where she picked up the tab (naturally). I lost some momentum when the Keg staff interrupted to sing a public-domain version of "Happy Birthday" to an old man, but got the energy back quickly.

I don't know how many times I've heard my friends say "This Dungeons and Dragons game is so entertaining, somebody should just write one adventure down and make a story of it."

My story is the story of Glomphalgh the Elf, and his quest for the Seven Scrolls of Sc'alberdawn. Along the way he meets a thief, a magician, and a big monster-man, and faces the Army Of The Necronidarc.

Mary-Anne says there should be a princess and songs, and get rid of the thief. I can kind of see her point, but we must stay true to the story! I just have to keep asking myself- What Would Walt Do? He'd concentrate on the plot! So I have to remember to tell Mary-Anne that Plot Is King, and princesses can wait.

Although girls like princesses, and would probably be grateful if I put one in my story.


What if the PRINCESS was the THIEF!!!!!

I have to go call Mary-Anne!

Thursday, January 12, 2006

Prod Co Announces New Innovation: Straight-To-Video Sequels With No Original Film

Taking innovation and theoretical logic to its conclusion, DigiPixelStorm Entertainment today announced that they will be producing sequels to animated films that never existed.

"Fireball 2" concerns the daughter of Jace Random, the heroic extreme spaceboard athlete from "Fireball" (never produced), as she struggles to maintain her dignity and live up to her father's reputation, as a human in a sport dominated by aliens.

Wilma Galt, producer at DigiPixelStorm, could barely contain her enthusiasm.

"There are certain things audiences expect with sequels, the sort of things DigiPixelStorm can deliver.

For instance- we don't have to spend time carefully introducing characters and their motivations- we can do it through dialogue, and the audience assumes all the heavy lifting has been done in the original. Like when Jacella sees Mazztron, she says:
"Mazztron! I haven't seen you since you worked as a spaceboard mechanic for my father, who has mysteriously disappeared, so I have taken over his spaceboard franchise, only I have no mechanic, and I can't concentrate because I think that one of the other contestants I'm up against is actually a bad guy who is involved in the kidnapping of my father! Do you still comically bungle tools, making you seem like an oaf, even though you're the best mechanic in the galaxy?"

All done without the character budging an inch.


And sequels always have a smaller budget. A movie like 'Fireball', could be expected to have a budget of 100 million dollars, whereas we can make the sequel for much much much much less. Way less. Audiences know that the animation is never as good, and in our case, it isn't.

Sequels always have non A-list celebrity voices. We have to have celebrity voices, of course, but why choose Morgan Freeman when Michael Winslow from those 'Police Academy' movies will do? Plus he makes those funny 'beeping sounds', which saves on our post budget."

Wilma Galt continues:

"The number 2 or 3 after a movie title has a built-in trust. It says 'hey there, Mr. or Mrs. consumer. I don't have big pretensions, but the folks seemed to like the first version just fine- fine enough to make a li'l sequel like me. Give me a chance, with expectations lowered as far as they can go.'

So far in the pipeline:
"Robot 2" (not to be confused with Blue Sky's 'Robots')
"The Incredible Superheroes 2" (not to be confused with Pixar's 'The Incredibles')
and 'Racoon and Turtle Go To Town 2" (not to be confused with Dreamwork's 'Over The Hedge')

We plan to give Pixar, Dreamworks and the rest a run for their money. We have recruited some of their top talent.
Our head of story comes from Pixar, where he ran a sandwich stand, and our TD comes from Dreamworks, where he used to fix Steven Speilberg's laptop.

But it's the merchandising opportunities that really get me excited.

I'm told that every one of the characters in "Fireball 2" has their own 'walk cycle'. I haven't seen one, but I'm thinking that the characters walk on some sort of treadmill, and the wheels of the cycle turn.
That's exciting.
I can't wait until we can start manufacturing these motorcycle toys to every kid in the world.
There are also bed linens in the works, with photos of beautiful supermodels on them, posed out like our characters. They're calling them 'Model sheets'. I see they have 'dope sheets' as well, to appeal to the 'hip hop' crowd. Brilliant."

That's what I say, Ms. Galt! I can't wait to see these fantastic sequels! And someday, you may have enough clout to do the original!

Tuesday, January 10, 2006

Chudleigh Animation Group Announces Polly Doodle: Back For Fun!

Chudleigh Animation Group, still smarting from the cancellation of their show "Sisters-In-Arms" have announced that they are reviving old-time 20's &30's cartoon Polly Doodle for a New Series: "Polly Doodle: Back For Fun!"

Polly Doodle is best known as Waverly Cartoon's answer to Betty Boop, starring in such rousers as:
"Bathtub Grin"
"Grits Ain't Potatoes"
"St. Valentine's Day Mess-Acre" and
"Fling Fling With The Floy Floy",
before the wartime zeal for Technicolor, plot, and characterization made her cartoons seem stale and pointless.

"The idea just came to me out of nowhere" said Janet Wilkinson, Chudleigh Animation producer. "We feel that if we replace the Jazz music with diva ballads, the 'reefer' references with 'pop culture' references, and the leering sexuality with shopping at the mall, there's no reason Polly Doodle can't be just as popular now on TV as she once was at the Moving Picture Parlors."

As of publication, there was no word if the new Polly incarnation will be joined on screen by her old cartoon co-stars: Naptime Nappy and Jigaboo Jones.

Sunday, January 08, 2006

New CG Feature Aims To Give You the Heebie-Jeebies

Imagine a showdown in the Wild West-except not with a good cowboy and a bad cowboy, but with a good cowboy and a ZOMBIE HILLBILLY!

That's the concept behind Roger Melnick's new production of the first CG Horror/Western: "Uncanny Valley".

"I kept hearing motion capture referred to as 'animated corpses', around the studio, and my first thought was- we need better motion capture. That was expensive, so I came up with the Zombie Hillbilly thing." Melnick says between sips of his Latte at a local coffee hangout.

"I got a bunch of dinner-theater actors into a warehouse, covered them with ping-pong ball suits, and voila!" adds Melnick. "The thing is, because it's all done on the computer, you don't need much in the way of preproduction.

Like none whatsoever.

We had a rough idea of where we wanted people to stand. That we knew. And get them to rock back and forth. THAT'S the key to good motion capture: get your actors to shift their weight constantly, no matter what, so they're always moving. Movement is what animation is all about"

I asked him about the story.

"Well, the cool thing is, westerns practically write themselves. If this was live action, maybe audiences would think they've seen it all before, but do it in animation, and you're looking at a whole new movie. We've also added a comedic element, in that all the zombies have intestinal problems, so when things flag a little, I'm able to zing the audience with a good fart gag."

I asked him about the promotional art for the movie.

"Yeah, that's, uh... hand drawn. Because we...want the look of the actual movie to be a surprise. And the gore? Well, it IS a family film, sure, but we wanted to get the "Fangoria" crowd as well, so there's a little something for everybody. The zombie chick in leather is a shout-out to Russ Meyer. Kids may not get the reference, but they'll instinctively know she's hip."

"As for the voices, we got this guy who's amazing. He does impressions of Gilbert Gottfried, Robin Williams, John Goodman, and Eddie Murphy, so this thing is gonna be like no animated movie you've ever heard before."

"My favorite part is at the end there's a huge dance party! Audiences love that crap!"

"When audiences see what can be done with off-the-shelf software, top quality voice impersonations, and motioncapped actors, I think they will be quite surprised."

That's right folks! When people think motion capture, they'll think: "Uncanny Valley"!

Thursday, January 05, 2006

Sisters-In-Arms: the Postmortem

Chudleigh Animation Group, Burbank:

There are many stories of cartoon shows that got cancelled before they could shine their light on the world, such as:

"The 2-Headed Bumpkin"
"Where's the Snimp?"
and "Ant Patrol: The Picnic Chronicles"

so when I was given a chance to interview the participants in the recently cancelled toon "Sisters-In-Arms", I leaped right in!

One of the first people I met was Justin Blakeny, the design supervisor. Sporting a goatee, baseball cap, and trendy black glasses, he looked nothing like someone who would be in the animation biz- totally stylin'!

"Speaking strictly off the record, dude, Sarah Halbermann was a total nightmare." Said Blakeny. "She knew nothing about animation and didn't care to learn. We tried to tell her that those designs of hers may work ok in a comic strip, but for animation, they were a non-starter. I tried to get Wilkinson (Janet Wilkinson, exec. producer-A.) to talk to her."

He takes a sip of Coke.


Story supervisor Jake Ray chimed in. "Or how about the way they had these boring-ass meetings where everybody stood around in a circle arguing about whether the door on the cafe should open IN or OUT? Oh my God! The show itself sucks goat titties, and they're wasting valuable time that could be spent getting a good story together worrying about set dressing."
Jake adjusted his ballcap and stroked his goatee before adding thoughtfully:
"What I just said is not for print, right, bro?"

Next I made my way to Joan McBride, a layout artist on the show.

"Look, I'm a woman- I'm all for women getting ahead and all that, but I think that Sarah Halbermann overriding everything that the art team had to say by dismissing them as male chauvanists was just dumb. Our goal was to make a show for the audience, for God's sake. Nobody sitting at home cares about our petty office politics"

Nobody but us, right, folks?

McBride continued:
"One of the guys would make a valid suggestion, and Halbermann would automatically veto it, and expect me to agree with her, because I have estrogen. Like- how about more than one camera angle in the show? You don't need a goatee to see how that would be a good idea. This is just between us, of course."

Jeff Matheson, BG supervisor, had this to add:

"Halbermann comes to me and asks me to make a table in Maya for the characters to sit at.
Make a table she says.
What kind of table? I ask.
No idea, but I'll know it when I see it, she says.
So we make about 30 tables. None pass.
We make 30 more. None pass.
Now, all this time, I'm getting NO feedback about what kind of table she wants. No designs, no verbal. Nothing.
After me and my team wasted about 2 weeks, she finally decided on the second one we did on day ONE.
This is strictly between you and me, but I think the folks upstairs were just looking for ANY show featuring female characters, to hit some sort of demographic or something. Makes me nervous that they'll try to resurrect some Godawful piece of trash like like that Betty Boop knockoff from the 30's, Polly Doodle, just 'cause it's a female."

Wow! Who would have guessed that when I volunteered for this temporary gig packing up the offices of the Chudleigh Animation Group that I'd end up with an exclusive scoop for the "Toon-ing In Website"? I'll let Joan McBride have the last word:

"At the end of the day, it's a paying job, even if you can see that it's going to be a disaster. I never challenged Sarah Halbermann, because I need the work. I have a daughter, and, it's a small industry. I don't want to rock the- why are you asking so many questions? You're not the moving guy with the blog are you? Oh Jesus..."

Yes indeed, folks- perhaps with a letter writing campaign we can bring the lost gem "Sisters-In-Arms" back to the airwaves, where it can shine!

Monday, January 02, 2006

Holiday Cheer From Animazing!

Season's Greetings, everyone!

I had an awesome holiday-- catching up with all my good friends over the Christmas/New Year break.

I had to spend a lot of time upstairs with my parents, but- Good News- they got a HDTV for Christmas, so I was able to watch "The Elf Who Thought Christmas Was For Suckers" - the picture was so clear, you could practically see the fingerprints on the Japanese puppets!

Then, unfortunately, I was taken to visit my sickly Aunt Maggie in the hospital. I felt really sad. Luckily there was a TV in her room, and I was able to catch "The Christmas That Almost Went AWOL".

We had to go for a hayride, but I was able to bring along an early Christmas present for myself-a portable DVD player, and watch "The Bug-Eyed Fleabag's Christmas Carol". God bless us; every one!

There was a big party at my younger brother's apartment, with drinking and girls. I was invited to come along, and I did!
There was a cute girl there, and I almost got her phone number. Next time, I'll ask.
I had a hunch going in that I was going to get lucky, and boy, did I ever! The new computer-animated "SantaBot 4000: X-mas X-Treme" was on. The people at the party didn't mind that I turned the TV on, in fact, it was a hit! (they laughed in the wrong places though. Cretins.)
I might not have a cute girl's phone number, but I'll never forget how the realization of the True Meaning Of Christmas brought UltiKillBot37 to his knees.

So, all in all, I watched over 30 hours of Christmas cartoons this year.

If that isn't "RANKIN" high on a list of toons, you can kiss my "BASS"!

Just kidding, folks! All the best for 2006!!!

Sunday, January 01, 2006

Producer Brings Cartoon Know-How To Winery


Producer Marcia Crandall, best known in the animation industry as producer of straight-to-video classics such as "Naptime Commandos" "The Kuddle-Lumps" and "The Penguin and Me", for now-defunct "Great Vids" video, has moved out of tinseltown and is now working her magic on northern Calfornia wines.

"The wine business is a lot like animation in many ways." Says Crandall. "These are groups of people dedicated to their craft, with skill and passion, serving an audience who appreciates what they do. It's my job to make sure they don't get too 'wacky' with the wine stuff, and to bring fresh ideas to the table, just like I did when "Great Vids" did the "Andy Capp" adaptation."

Fans may recall "Great Vids" "Andy Capp", notable for featuring the beloved English barfly and womanizer as a stuffed teddy bear who can cause dreams to come true. The series prompted howls of protest from the millions of Andy Capp fans around the world.

Said Crandall "I've made changes around the winery that already have people talking. Jalapeno merlot. Beer wine. Peppermint Coffee Gamay Noir. See, these wine people have been stuck in a rut- it's up to me to give people new choices, you know, to make the wine better."

"Personally, I don't drink at all, but the wine business seemed fun. I don't like Jalapeno wine, but I'm sure someone else out there will!"