[NOTE: Posted partially unedited due to health problems ~ Curtis]

Association International du Film d'Animation
(International Animated Film Association)

March 2013




THERE ARE LOTS OF OTHER IMPORTANT ARTICLES FROM NEWS ABOUT HENRY SELICK AND RICHARD WILLIAMS TO THE ARTICLE "THE 5TH XIAMEN CYBER SOUSA ANIMATION FESTIVAL, OCT. 26 -- 29, 2012, XIAMEN, CHINA by Nancy Denney-Phelps plus there are two links to Michael Langan's "Secret animation project" that was just viewed by 110 million people!


That may sound like an absurd statement to make as visual effects features (VFX) are better than ever. The industry is creating fantastic cinema magic like the incredible realistic tiger in the "The Life of Pi, but behind the screen there are serious problems. The general public may know that Rhythm & Hues in LA won the Oscar for their incredible computer generate tiger, but what the popular press doesn't tell the public is that Rhythm & Hues was recently "sold" to an Indian firm, but that sale fell through last month and now they are bankrupt. As a result they have filed for Chapter 11 Protection and are searching for a multi-million dollar bailout to keep the doors open. They have also laid off 250 to 300 of their 1,400 employees (the company has shops in the US, Canada and in several locations in Asia).

While the press told us George Lucas sold many of his assets to Disney for over $4 billion and that Disney has exciting plans for the "Star Wars" franchise and other projects Lucas was developing, what isn't being talked about in public is how long will ILM continue to do outside work for other producers. While that work may continue as long as there is a demand for it and the projects are profitable for Disney, there may come a time in the near future when the same high quality work will go to studios abroad that charge less for it. In the Twentieth Century it was common for ILM to do all of the visual effects for a feature; however, by the beginning of this century their clients, in order to save money, began to give them the hardest work to do and they began to give the easier shots to less expensive companies.

While you might think this article is an exaggeration of the financial troubles the industry faces, the Bay Area's Oscar winning special effect's genius Phil Tippett doesn't seem think so. In an article he posted on Facebook he said, "The California VFX Industry Is Getting Decimated" Hollywood, our last great homegrown export is going the way of the dinosaur, nuked not by a rock from space but by studios (corporations) insisting that producers take work to subsidized territories thus forsaking those of us in California who, reinvented what we now call Visual Effects. We, still at the top of our game, are being undermined by our very own state legislators who have turned a blind eye to,,, the motion picture industry (not just visual effects)." He is referring to the lack of tax credits and other financial incentives/subsidies in California that are given companies who move to other states and countries.

Tippett isn't the only voice warning that the VFX industry is in serious trouble. The "Hollywood Reporter" ran "L.A.'S Visual Effects Community Fears Grim Future" on Feb. 13, 2013. They talked about how the profit margins at effects houses have been going down, even when work is outsourced by American companies who have opened shops abroad. Today many of the big and small US companies that haven't already closed, have shops where labor is less expensive, yet some say they can no longer compete in the marketplace. Foreign producers of visual effects have undercut our production costs so much that the profits margins have in some cases become non-existent and some jobs end up being done at a loss when production companies with large payrolls get stuck with delays while producers make script changes, etc. VFX companies get stuck having to pay employees while waiting for decisions to be made. Some of those delays take months to resolve.

At the heart of the matter is that even though many effects driven films make enormous sums of money, the VFX work is normally made for an agreed upon price that does not include profit sharing. The millions made by "Life of Pi" were not shared by Rhythm & Hues.

At the Oscars, when the "Life of Pi's" VFX supervisor Bill Westenhofer from Rhythm & Hues accepted his Oscar, he tried to mention the plight of the effects industry on national TV. You didn't get to hear what he had to say as the orchestra deliberately drowned him out with music from "Jaws."

· Earlier that day almost 500 people representing the visual effects community demonstrated on Hollywood Boulevard asking the film industry to address the problems of our nation's VFX houses. Over the past ten years too many companies have had to close including The Orphanage in San Francisco, Digital Domain in Florida and a long list of other businesses. For more about the industries' current troubles visit the VFX Soldier's website.


MICHAEL LANGAN'S SECRET ANIMATION PROJECT While the ad agency producing the piece hasn't given him permission to discuss the project in print, it was shown on the Super Bowl and was seen by over 110 million people in the US. The innovative piece was for an internationally known retail product and Michael Langan co-directed the animated portion of the spot. One news report said it was the first-ever crowd-sourced piece and it starred hundreds of real fans from around the country by using a unique editing technique called object replacement animation.

The sponsor put the intro online so people could step through the 377 frames a frame at a time so they could look for clues to a contest. Almost every frame is different. The contest has ended but you may still be able to step through it online at http://halftime.pepsi.com. See the work at 24 fps at:

http://langanfilms.com/stream_pepsihalftime.html It is an impressive accomplishment!

RETROVISION'S "WAR OF THE WORLDS" PROJECT IS BACK IN THE WORKS Stop-motion artist Justin Kohn writes us, "After a hiatus while I had to make some $ (animation on Moral Orel, Hell and Back, etc.), I'm in Burbank at the Chiodos studio where we will be shooting stop-mo shots for Chapter 11 of H.G.Wells's novel. Local stop-mo hotshots will be participating. Green screen an! d completed shots, behind the scenes and other stuff will be posted!" Justin lives both in LA and SF and most of his previous work on the project was done locally.

CBS HAS ORDERED A PILOT FOR ROBIN WILLIAMS' COMEDY "CRAZY ONES" Crazy Ones marks Williams' return to the small-screen 30 years after he starred for four seasons on ABC's Mork & Mindy. The comedy revolves around a father-daughter relationship.

Long before Robin became Mork he was a local comic developing his amazing talent at Intersection, a center for the arts on Union in N. Beach where I ran Intersection's weekly Sunday film series (1971-'85). I occasionally included vaudeville shows. At a party for Will Durst in the 1980s Robin told me he owed me a few bucks. He did? He explained that he was so broke in his Intersection days that he would sneak into the theatre using the back steps. In the late 1970s the ad! mission was $1 or on special occasions $2. Yes, he was once a starving artist. KC

HENRY SELICK'S "SHADOW KING" MAY GO BACK INTO PRODUCTION! By KC Disney spent 50 million on it and then canceled their involvement with the project late last summer. Rumors suggest it was too dark/not Disneyesque enough, or they may have worried that it wasn't going to be completed in time for an October 4, 2013 release. Disney gave Henry back the rights to! his unfinished project so he has been trying to find an alternate way to complete and distribute it.

In December Henry told me he wasn't hopeful that he was going to be able to complete the film. It was started in 2011 and much work still needed to be done including hiring and recording the voice actors. Then on Feb. 4 Variety announced that Josh Penn who produced Beasts of the Southern Wild (nominated for the Best Feature Oscar this year) will help Henry complete his stop-motion project.! Penn/K5 showed completed footage at the European Film Market in Berlin in February and independent distributors are supporting Henry's work. There is no news yet that all the needed finishing funds are in place. There is also no news about Selick hiring people to finish the feature.

Variety says, "The Shadow King, directed by Selick from his own script, centers on a nine-year-old New York orphan who hides his strange hands with long fingers from a cruel world. When's he's taught how to make amazing hand shadows that come to life, his hands become weapons in a shadow war against a monster bent on killing his brother and ultimately destroying New York." Selick! told the press "K5 is the perfect presenter. They appreciate the film's exciting blend of the fantastic and personal with its mix of humor, scares, and moments of sweetness. We can't wait to get back into production." Selick's studio is here in San Francisco.

Selick's production crew includes Frankenweenie cinematographer Peter Sorg; Eric Leighton, animation director on The Legend of the Guardians; production /designer Lou Romano (The Incredibles); Immortals editor Wyatt Jones and Coraline composer Bruno Coulais.

If you missed our ASIFA-SF event honoring the artists who created some of the Oscar nominated shorts, you also missed meeting our special unannounced guest, Henry Selick. He seemed to enjoy the applause when Ron Diamond surprised him by introducing him to the audience. Henry hung around after the event to meet well wishers.


BRAD UYEDA IS WORKING ON A MICRO SERIES FOR CINEMA INSOMNIA Brad is a stop-motion animator and he says his work is for an East Coast late night show about looney sea monkeys and their ridiculous antics. The host of the show is Mr. Lobo and in each episode he looks into his fish bowl to see what's going on that day. Brad informs us it is inspired by Peewee's Playhouse with the themes and styles varying from show to show. There are other animators on the project and it is being called an animation jam. Multi-talented Gene Hamm composed the opening titles! for Brad's segments.

THE FIRST REVIEW OF "THE CROODS" FROM PDI/DREAMWORKS IS QUITE POSITIVE The Hollywood Reporter saw it at its world premiere in Berlin and says "Further back on the evolutionary chain than the Flintstones, and also lagging in the comedy stakes, this sweet Stone Age clan nonetheless will captivate the youngsters."

They reported that it is aimed at a young family audience, kids 4 to 10, the same market that made the Ice Age features top box office winners. "The humor and charm in Chris Sanders and Kirk DeMicco's film is too uneven to help it approach the Ice Age series' ! mammoth market share. But its mostly fast-moving roller coaster of kinetic action and its menagerie of fantastic creatures -- from cute to menacing -- should keep kids entertained. They'll also have no trouble grasping the simple message to face your fears and embrace change."

It lacks sophisticated humor for older kids, but "there's a large assortment of fantasy animals to keep the merchandise division busy, among them parrot-hued giant felines, dogs with crocodile jaws, land-dwelling whales, monkeys with killer right hooks and owl-headed bears that owe a debt to Maurice Sendak. These critters give the film more in common with the slapsticky Looney Tunes era than with animation of recent vintage." It opens in theaters March 22 and it is DreamWorks Animation's first title to be distributed by 20th Century Fox.

Jeffrey Katzenberg was in Berlin to attend the premiere along with voice cast members Nicolas Cage and Emma Stone. There is talk of a multi-title franchise.

THE ACADEMY OF ART HAS WON THEIR APPEAL ON THEIR ELIGIBILITY FOR CAL GRANTS FOR 2012-13 SCHOOL YEAR The state had denied the funds based on the school's low official graduation records. Will the state appeal the case to a higher court?


Sun. April 7th, CAREERS IN ANIMATION starting at 1 PM, free, Coppola Theater, San Francisco State University. Come learn from people with experience in stop-motion, 2D and 3D animation, games and in other areas. Our experts have worked as writers, animators, directors and in other industry jobs and will answer as many questions as possible.

For direction see the map at: http://www.sfsu.edu/~sfsumap/southeast.htm


THE WALT DISNEY FAMILY MUSEUM PROVIDES SUMMER DAY CAMPS FOR KIDS Their Summer Workshops are week-long programs designed to ignite imagination and creative development using traditional art mediums as well as the latest computer technology. Explore art, animation, and filmmaking through innovative projects and hands-on activities. For details visit


THE SF FILM SOCIETY SUMMER PROGRAMS FOR TEENS Several workshops will provide intensive hands-on training for young aspiring filmmakers aged 14 -- 18. sffs.org/Education.


BRAVE" WINS THE BRITISH ACADEMY OF FILM AND TELEVISION AWARD (BAFTA) The other nominated features were Frankenweenie and ParaNorman. In the competition for best animated short the winner was The Making Of Longbird by Will Anderson and Ainslie Henderson. The other nominated shorts were Here To Fall by Kris Kelly and Evelyn McGrath and I'm Fine Thanks by Eamonn O'Neill .

AT THE IRISH FILM AND TELEVISION AWARDS "MACROPOLIS" WON THE BEST ANIMATION PRIZE Macropolis is from Flickerpix Animations. The other nominations were After You (Damien O'Connor, Cell Division), Fear of Flying (Conor Finnegan, Lovely Productions) and Peter Rabbit's Christmas Tale (Brown Bag Films / Silvergate). I was not aware that any of these films existed and I mention them as a reminder that animation today is created worldwide and unfortunately we only get to see or hear about the tip of the iceberg.

"CHICO AND RITA" WAS NOMINATED FOR TWO NAACP IMAGE AWARDS It is nice that this work was given two nominations although it didn't win in either the Independent Motion Picture or the International Motion Picture categories.

AT SPAIN'S GOYA AWARDS The Best Animated Feature Film was The Adventures of Tadeo Jones and the Best Animated Short prize went to Jaime Maestro for El Vendedor de Humo.


AT THE CESAR AWARDS HELD IN PARIS Ernest and Celestine won the Best Animated Feature.

AT THE ACE AWARDS The American Cinema Editors Best Edited Animated Feature prize went to Brave.

"LIFE OF PI" WINS THE TOP PRIZE AT THE VES AWARDS The Visual Effects Society gave the top award to Life of Pi. Their Outstanding Animation in an Animated Feature Motion Picture award went to Brave. The other nominations in that category were ParaNorman, Rise of the Guardians, Wreck-It Ralph and Hotel Transylvania.

WHAT DOES A "BEST FILM" AWARD MEAN? Having seen all the nominated films for both this year's best animated feature and best animated short, I find there are no obvious winners. Each film has obvious merits why it might win. Gene Deitch, a voting member of the Academy, has also addressed this issue.

Gene writes, "I've been an Academy member since 1961, for 52 years, and I still haven't figured out what the parameters are for a 'Best Picture.' Are we voting for the movie that brings the most prestige to the motion picture industry? For the one that's the most innovative in construction and subject matter? For the one that we feel most advances the art and science of cinema? For the one that most entertains us? For the one that pushes the envelope of social meaning, that makes the most powerful political statement? For the one that opens a new level of dramatic and acting presentation on the big screen? For the one that breaks new ground in cinematic technology? Or are we voting for the best made movie of the year or for the one most likely to bring the largest box office returns? I have my own standards, but I don't quite yet understand how we are supposed to judge between apples and oranges!"

He goes on to suggest the need for a wider range of categories to clarify the meaning of an award (for example how can there be just one 'best' foreign film or animated short when hundred or thousands are made each year?) but he acknowledges that "the Academy's goal from the very beginning has been to promote movie attendance, and to bring prestige to a medium" and not to open an academic discussion.




LAIKA, THE CREATORS OF "PARANORMAN" AND "CORALINE" ARE MAKING "THE BOXTROLLS" LAIKA has started work on The Boxtrolls at their studio in Portland, Oregon. The 3D film will combine stop-motion an! d CG and is based on Alan Snow's fantasy adventure novel Here Be Monsters. Anthony Stacchi (co-director of Open Season) and Graham Annable (story artist on Coraline and ParaNorman) are directing. David Ichioka and LAIKA president and CEO Travis Knight are producing! . The voice cast includes Ben Kingsley, Toni Collette, Elle Fanning, Isaac Hempstead-Wright, Jared Harris, Simon Pegg, Nick Frost, Richard Ayoade, and Tracy Morgan.

The Boxtrolls is a comedic fable that unfolds in 'Cheesebridge,' a posh Victorian-era town obsessed with wealth, class, and the stinkiest of fine cheeses. Beneath its charming cobblestone streets dwell the Boxtrolls, foul monsters who crawl out of the sewers at night and steal what the townspeople hold most dear: their children and their cheeses. At least, that's! the legend residents have always believed. In truth, the Boxtrolls are an underground cavern-dwelling community of quirky and lovable oddballs who wear recycled cardboard boxes the way turtles wear their shells. The trolls have raised an orphaned human boy. Travis Knight calls the story, "Dickens by way of Monty Python. Tony and Graham have crafted a strange and beautiful world replete with fantastical creatures, good-for-nothing reprobates, madcap antics, and rip-roaring feats of derring-do. It will be, "A visually dazzling mash-up of! gripping detective story, absurdist comedy, and steampunk adventure with a surprisingly wholesome heart." Focus will hold worldwide distribution rights. An October 17, 2014 release is planned.

THE ANIMATION COMMUNITY IN LA IS HOLDING AN AFTERNOON OF REMEMBERANCE Saturday, March 2 at noon, at the Hollywood Heritage Museum, (The Lasky-DeMille Barn), 2100 N. Highland, across from Hollywood Bowl. This is a free non-denominational celebration of recently departed friends of the animation community. It will honor the memory of Frank Andrina, Charlotte Armstrong, Dick Beals, Iris Beckerman, Lucille Bliss, Carmela Blitz, Dave Borthwick, Jack Bosson, Grigor Boyadjiev, Richard "Kip" ! Carpenter, Ernie Chan, Kristine "Casey" Clayton, John Coates, Franco Cristofani, Tissa David, Patty Disney, Jim Duffy, Jake Eberts, Ethel Falkenberg, Ann Gefre, Jean "Moebius" Giraud, Karen Greslie, Dave Hanan, Jim Hiltz, Daphne Huntington, Diane Keener, Fyodor Khitruk, Thomas Kinkade, Peter Kranjcevich, Joe Kubert, Bob Lambert, Ken Landau, Nancy McCullough, Rusty Mills, Sheldon Moldoff. Conne Morgan, Mark Nelson, Margaret Nichols, Naomi O'Loughlin, Rod Parkes, Bretislav Pojar, Buzz Potamkin, Al Rio, Geri Rochon, Ken Sansom, Mary Sarbry, Bruce Schaefer, Maurice Sendak, Mel Shaw, Robert Sherman, Jose Silverio, Marcia Sinclair, Dan Thompson, Ken Walker, Manon Washburn, Tom Woodington, Run Wrake, and Uvon Young.

While you may not be familiar with any or most of these people, I met seven of them over the years and knew of several other people on the list. All contributed to the wonderful art of animation.

BILL PLYMPTON IS AMAZING! HE HAS COMPLETED YET ANOTHER SHORT WHILE FINISHING HIS NEXT FEATURE Although he is busy finishing his feature Cheatin', he somehow has found time to complete Drunker Than a Skunk.

He showed it and an excerpt from Cheatin' at a screening in NYC of independent animation in February.

The program also included Tim Reckhart's Oscar nominated Head Over Heels (Tim studied for two years in England, but his home is in Brooklyn), a sequence from Signe Baumane's nearly completed feature Rock in My Pockets, plus shorts by Jacob Kafka, Daniel Sousa, Nick Fox-Gieg, Joy Vacesse, Noelle Melody, Andy London and Morgan Miller.

PDI/DREAMWORKS ANIMATION IS CUTTING BACK ON PRODUCTION AND STAFF Jeffrey Katzenberg constructed a new building in Redwood City that opened in 2012 in anticipation of the company releasing three features a year. Now the studio has announced they are moving Mr. Peabody and Sherman from a late 2013 release to a spring 2014 date and returning Me and My Shadow back to development. Anne Globe, Chief Marketing Officer of DreamWorks Animation, said, "Our distributor, who has had great success with their Ice Age franchise, has recommended we move Mr. Peabody & Sherman to the spring of 2014, which we totally agree is a much more advantageous release window."

Rise of the Guardians opened to a lukewarm box office last November, so it appears Fox, DreamWorks' new distributor, is not anxious to compete with Disney and other studios for end of the year dollars. The studio's accountants took an $87 million write-off for money lost on Guardians in their quarterly financial report on Feb. 26. After 17 hits in a row rhe studio has a film that doesn't "work for them." Box Office Mojo states the film cost about $145 million to make. An $87 million loss suggests the film's promotion budget was enormous. Meanwhile Jeffrey Katzenberg gave himself a raise last Oct. of $1.5 million while taking a cut in stock options and other long-term equity awards.

DreamWorks Animation has decided to cut back their production staff as a result of their changing their production schedule. Jeffrey Katzenberg told the press he will lay off about 350 employees by the end of 2013. There were about 2,200 people on their staff before the layoffs started.

The worst news is yet to come if rumors circulating in LA are correct. The layoffs have begun and industry watchers believe many of those jobs will eventually reappear in India. I'm told DreamWorks' factories in India have now proven they can successfully do more of the company's work at a lower cost than the LA and Redwood City studios. I hope that is a false rumor.

RHYTHM & HUES WAS SOLD TO AN INDIAN FIRM, BUT THAT SALE FELL THROUUGH. NOW THEY ARE BANKRUPT AND NEED A BAILOUT They got an Oscar and 2 nominations for visual-effects (for Life of Pi and Snow White and the Huntsman), but they are "dire financial straits." They are borrowing millions in order to keep their doors open. At the Oscars when somebody tried to mention their plight in ! the acceptance speech the orchestra drowned him out.

To reduce expenses R&H fired about 250 employees without cause in their El Segundo facility in Southern California. Apparently labor laws require a 60 days notice for such layoffs. So a class action lawsuit was filed on behalf of the fired workers.

R&H has about 1,400 employees in the US, Canada and in several locations in Asia. The cash crunch came when movies they were expecting to work on were delayed. They have had trouble competing with companies located in foreign countries that can undercut their bids thanks to lower living costs and generous tax subsidies from those nations. Even with facilities in Vancouver, Canada; Mumbai and Hyderabad in India; Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, and Kaohsiung, Taiwan, they were still unable to compete successfully in today's market. It has been a common story to read about effects houses closing in the US even though they bid on jobs where the profit margin is minimal. Despite their low bids foreign companies are underbidding them.

THE "HOLLYWOOD REPORTER" SAYS "L.A.'S VISUAL EFFECTS COMMUNITY FEARS GRIM FUTURE" The article published on 2/13/13 began by saying the bankruptcy of Rhythm & Hues comes amid overseas competition and a "race to the bottom" among studios to cut costs. Rhythm & Hues has laid-off around 300 employees, and some people are wondering how the LA effects business will survive. For the last 10 years the profit margins at the biggest houses have been going down, even when work is! outsourced. With the emphasis today on making the lowest bid, how can you do the best visual effects work in the world and make money doing the one thing that differentiates your company from the competition?

Eric Roth, the executive director of the Visual Effects Society, says about half of the VFX workforce has become freelancers that are hired for the duration of a given job. If production schedules are delayed the VFX companies get stuck having to pay employees while waiting for the clients to make their decisions about changes. Apparently some decisions can take weeks or months making it hard for companies to stay afloat according to Roth.

There are lots of other serious problems facing the industry. While effects driven films often generate enormous box office sums, the VFX companies apparently do not get a percentage of the profits leaving them with a most precarious future. While the number of jobs in Los Angeles is rapidly dropping, companies outside of L.A. also have become stingy about offering relocation packages, making a move difficult. Wages have also been heading south and there is a danger that if a company relocates to an area that offers tax incentives for them to relocate, those ! tax incentives can be withdrawn, leaving the new location a visual effects ghost town after the incentives stop.

JERRY BECK, CARTOON BREW'S FOUNDER, HAS SOLD HIS INTEREST IN HIS WEBSITE TO HIS PARTNER AMID AMIDI Animation historian Jerry Beck has sold his interest in the popular website to Amid Amidi nine years after Amid joined the site as a co-partner. Beck founded his original Internet site, Cartoon Research, in the 1990s. Amid plans to expand his site so it can be us! ed with a mobile platform. Beck's departure was a surprise to his readers but he told Deadline Hollywood talks to sell it began in November. "We were clearly two different types of people in terms of our points of view, I think that was one of the pleasures of the site. But the time had come to move on." Beck is writing a book about SpongeBob and is writing about animation history on his blog www.cartoonresearch.com.

SHEILA SOFIAN IS PART OF AN EXHIBITION "WOMEN IN ART AND ANIMATION" The show is in the new art gallery at Norco College in Riverside, CA. Sheila teaches animation at USC. The other nine artists in the show are Kathy Baur, Alina Chau, Kaya Dzankich, Ashley Lang, Larissa Marantz, Poi Maricheva, Audri Philips and Tori Vian. The show runs from March 1-April 26, 2013.

SONY QUARTERLY EARNINGS IMPROVE, DRIVEN BY THE STRONG SHOWING OF THEIR FILM UNIT Sony returned to the black in their third quarter, as income from the film division jumped to $270 million thanks to the strong theatrical box office of Skyfall, as well as home entertainment revenue from The Amazing Spider-Man and Men in Black 3.


WILL VINTON'S "THE ADVENTURES OF MARK TWAIN" Will says, "the movie I did years ago has just been released in HD and Blu-Ray by Magnolia. It's terrific that it is finally out; it's been re-mastered, looks the way it was intended and is called a 'Collectors Edition' with many new extra elements on the making of this rather historic film."

The reviews on the Internet for the film are good, but you probably never saw it. Hugh Kennedy, the film's executive director says, "The film was marketed as a movie for kids, but this isn't really a children's movie, and it was never meant to be. We tested it, and it played best with college kids and teens. Then it got a G rating. It killed our target audience before we started. We were stunned and very disappointed."

MICHAELA PAVLATOVA'S "TRAM" IS ONLINE It was on the Academy short list of 10 films considered for an Oscar and it was a highlight of Ron Diamond's Animation Show of Shows, that we showed last Nov.

Now you can enjoy it by visiting http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZWr8mSmo8fs

GET RICHARD WILLIAMS' "THE ANIMATOR'S SURVIVAL KIT" AS AN iPAD APP To coincide with triple-Oscar-winning Richard Williams' 80th birthday, Faber and Faber will release in March the latest edition of his famous book through Apple's App Store. The new application will contain the complete expanded edition of his best-selling book for the iPad, along with over 100 animated examples taken from the Survival Kit DVD box set. Also included will be a previously unreleased 9-minute animation, 'Circus Drawings', which was 50 years in the making, plus Williams introducing the app. The animated examples will be viewable frame-by-frame and, for some examples, 'onion-skinning' functionality will make preceding and following frames visible. Combining this seminal animation text with interactive animated examples is like being at a master class with the legend himself.

READ "THOUGHT YOU HAD ANIMATION PEGGED? NOT FOR MUCH LONGER" By J J SEDELMAIER This is a fascinating article on some of the tools animators once used including peg bars, hole punches, discs, etc. He talks about different systems used at different studios (from Bray to Disney). Lots of photos and information at http://imprint.printmag.com/animation/thought-you-had-animation-pegged-not-for-much-longer/

SEE A PORTRAIT OF QUEEN ELIZABETH THAT IS A BEAUTIFULLY DESIGNED EFFECTS FILM It is constructed with utmost care using photos of her from childhood to recent images. All are morphed into one remarkable three minute sequence. It is free of cuts or the jumps in the image when things don't line up correctly. http://www.youtube.com/watch_popup?v=E8nJhG1xE5o

READ HOW A SCHOLAR'S FABRICATED RESEARCH HELPED CREATE CENSORSHIP OF THE COMIC BOOK INDUSTRY In the early 1950s conservative America was shocked by the research of the anti-comics crusader and psychiatrist Fredric Wertham.. His best selling book The Seduction of the Innocent (1954) told parents and Congress that comics were a direct cause of violence, drug use, and homosexuality. His testimony helped create the establishment of the comic book code of 1954.


His research papers have finally been made public and Carol Tilley, a researcher and professor at the Univ. Of Illinois, found in them that Wertham's research was biased, fabricated, exaggerated, and selectively edited to support his argument that comics are an evil influence on our youth and that they can lead to anti-social behavior. In other words, he lied.

Read her article at: http://io9.com/5985199/how-one-mans-lies-almost-destroyed-the-comics-industry

I got to read some of the banned comics when I was about 14. The older brother of a friend had a wonderful collection of Tales from the Crypt, etc. Did they ruin the mind of my friend? He got his PhD from MIT and became an astronaut, serving as commander on two space shuttle flights. Thanks Ricky for turning me on to the banned horror comics.

FOUR OF THE OSCAR NOMINATED SHORTS ARE NOW ONLINE Adam & Dog, Paperman, Head over Heels and Fresh Guacamole.

DISCOVER THE ANIMATION OF BOB GODFREY, "THE GODFATHER OF BRITISH ANIMATION" Bob won an Oscar for Great (1975), an Oscar nomination for his mock-erotic film Karma Sutra Rides Again (1971) and 2 other Academy nominations. His work ranged from early British TV ads and kids' shows to his humorous sex oriented trilogy. (It also included Dream Doll 1979 and Instant Sex 1980.) His work was seen in the US in The Tournee of Animation programs. The Guardian (UK) included several of his TV shorts (not his best work) in a long obituary (he was 91)


FOR PUPPET ANIMATORS Check out Christiane Cegavske's progress on a new puppet she is creating for Seed in the Sand. She has been documenting the progress on her blog.




OCT. 26 -- 29, 2012, XIAMEN, CHINA

by Nancy Denney-Phelps

My visit to the 5th Xiamen Cyber Sousa Animation Festival in Xiamen, China was in marked contrast to my visit to Changchun, China six weeks before. Changchun is located in the far North East of China near the South Korean and Mongolian borders and although the weather had not turned cold yet the heavy coats and boots in the department stores foretold what was to come soon.

Xiamen is situated on the South-eastern coast of China on the Taiwan Strait which gives it a beautiful tropical climate with lush flowers and foliage. The most marked difference between the two events was the much more relaxed pace of the Xiamen festival. Although there was an array of events, there were very few that we were required to attend, so I could choose what was most interesting to me.

I was unable to arrive until the afternoon of the 26th so I missed the opening ceremony of the product and technology exhibition. I did have time for a leisurely lunch in the hotel restaurant and a walk around the area. The hotel was quite lovely with a swimming pool complete with swan fountains, a bar you could swim up to and a hot soaking pool nestled in lush vegetation and plumaria trees in full bloom. I later learned that the plumaria is the city flower and is found growing throughout the city. The hotel restaurant, which looked out on the pool area, had a noodle bar chef to custom make your dish and platters of sushi along with a wide array of meat, fish, and vegetable dishes. Unlike my previous trip to China, here the meals were long and leisurely.

The next morning the 2 day Animation Forum began. Presentations were given by guests from around the world. Many of these talks had fascinating titles but unfortunately there was no official English translator. I wish that I could have understood the first talk by Chen Liaoyu, Associate Professor of Animation at Beijing Film Academy. His title listed on my forum information sheet was Blind Men Patting an Elephant -- Creative Training in Teaching Animation Design. It intrigued me and even though I could not understand his words his slide presentation of different character designs was most interesting.

That evening we attended the Cyber Sousa Awards Ceremony. It was a lavish staged event that was televised throughout China. Between the presentations of the 10 awards there were elaborate musical numbers, including pop singers, a hip-hop dream sequence, and a lion dance performed by a pair of dragons on a high wire.

The award winners were selected several weeks before the ceremony so I have no idea what process the international jury used. None of them were at the ceremony as far as I could tell. There was simultaneous English translation of the ceremony but I had no idea whether the winning directors were present to accept their trophies. They were accepted by young people who smiled and waved a lot but were not given the opportunity to speak. The first time I was there the awards were accepted by stand-ins for the animators.

I was quite surprised when I suddenly heard my name announced by the MC on stage and I am afraid that I must have looked a bit like a deer caught in the headlights for a minute as all of the TV cameras focused on me. I was pushed onto the stage. No one had warned me that I was giving an award and I'm still not sure what the award was for or who I gave the three awards to.

I did have the opportunity to see an hour's worth of animation when I attended the Animation Products and Technology Exhibition held in conjunction with the festival at the Xiamen International Convention and Exhibition Center. The films were shown on a good quality screen with comfortable seating near the entrance to the exhibition hall. The audience could come and go rather than sit in a formal theatre. There seemed to be a great deal of interest in watching the films by the public.

The overall quality of the animation seemed to be markedly improved from what I saw on my last visit to Xiamen a few years ago. There was one film that I found particularly good but unfortunately I have no idea what it was called. I couldn't find it pictured in the catalogue so I assume that it was not in the competition.

The massive Exhibition Hall was packed with exhibits and people and the noise was deafening. Booths contained everything that could possibly relate to animation: films, games, TV productions and lots and lots of toys and merchandise. After a couple of hours it all became overwhelming and everything began to look the same. I was impressed by one booth that featured a children's book called Butterfly which is in production for a TV series by the Yu-Sheng Animation Studio. The characters were delightfully original in design and many of the backgrounds were composed of intricate traditional Chinese paper cut out designs.

The Cos-Play crowd was elaborately costumed. There were exhibition booths that sold a vast array of Cos-Play accessories from horns and wigs to clothes and swords. The Cos-Play participants and authors seemed to be the stars of the show with long lines of attendees waiting to have their books signed and their pictures taken with them.

One afternoon was devoted to an International Animation Day Celebration. The highlight of the afternoon was the formal welcome by the Xiamen chapter of ASIFA to the International family present. After the obligatory speeches the ASIFA Board Members were invited to the stage to congratulate our newest chapter, ASIFA China-Xiamen. They had just completed their two years as non-voting members who now have full voting rights on the Board. Lucca Raffaelli, ASIFA Italy; Ed Desroches, ASIFA Colorado; Pencho Kunchev, ASIFA Bulgaria; and myself representing ASIFA San Francisco signed the memorial book to commemorate the occasion.

Following the ceremony I gave my presentation on the topic of the importance of small regional animation festivals. I spotlighted the Monstra Festival in Lisbon, Anibar in Peja, Kosovo, and The Fredrikstad Animation Festival in Norway, pointing out the significant role that smaller festivals play in bringing films that are culturally significant to the local population. The IAD celebration concluded with a screening of the DVD of John Halas' films introduced by Ed Desroches.

When I first visited the Xiamen Cyber Sousa Animation Festival several years ago I couldn't help but notice the strong thumb of the government pressing down on the festival. On this trip there seemed to be a great deal less government control evident. Oh course, I can't say what went on behind the scenes but my schedule was much less regulated.

In marked difference from other festivals that I have attended in China was the relaxed party at the Xiamen Yacht Club. A big, sumptuous buffet was laid out along with a barbeque where you could have shishkabobs grilled to your taste (tofu for the vegetarians) as well as grilled corn on the cob and abundant beer and wine. The tables were arranged on the yacht club veranda in an informal layout for casual conversation while enjoying the lovely view of yachts, the lights in the harbour, and the Haicang Bridge. The bridge is not only beautiful but very important since it links Xiamen Island with the city's Haicang District located on the mainland. Best of all, there were no formal speeches that usually accompany an "occasion" in China. It remains one of my nicest memories of my travels in China.

I owe a big debt of gratitude to my lovely translator Jennifer. I came to appreciate her as a friend as well as an excellent linguist. She accompanied me on my long walks and together we discovered such interesting off-the-beaten-track areas as a small neighborhood that still retains an ancient charm. The single story buildings in the narrow streets looked like miniatures compared to the tall new high-rises to be found teeming around them. No new department stores were to be found but the narrow streets teem! ed with life. I loved the pungent smells from the dumplings and noodles cooking on the street. This is an old slice of China that is rapidly disappearing and I'm sure that this small village will be long gone on my next visit to Xiamen.

Most of my colleagues left on the morning of the 29th but I was lucky enough to stay two additional days. I'm glad that I did. On the morning of the 29th, Jason Chang Fugi of Neptune Films in Beijing invited six of us to visit the For Win Digital Technology Studio. They are one of the premier digital studios in Xiamen and produce many of the special effects for commercials and films worldwide.

Before we were treated to a tour of the studio and a presentation of their work we were served delicious cups of tea made in the traditional way on a tea table with a selection of dried fruit and little cakes. After our tour we were each presented with a beautiful wooden tea chest containing two lovely ceramic canisters full of delicious local tea. Each morning as I drink my pot of morning tea here at home the delicate taste takes me back to Xiamen. We also received a lesson in Chinese calligraphy on special practice pads. After you finish the characters, the ink magically disappears so there is no record of my attempt.

Following our visit, Jason took us to Gulangyu Island. The 1.78 square kilometer (0.69 square mile) island is a short 10 minute ferry ride from the mainland. It is a popular recreation spot with the usual restaurants and shops near the ferry landing. As you walk away from the commercial area there are fewer people.

Cars have never been allowed on the island. There are many historic Chinese villas and Victorian era style European buildings which housed diplomats and their families. Many of them are now hotels offering luxury accommodations. Gulangyu Island is known as Piano Island because of the vast collection of rare pianos at the piano museum located on a hill about half way around the island. The island is also the site of a concert hall, museum, and a theatre which offers hand puppet plays daily.

There are swimming beaches and spectacular views all around the island. For one's pleasure there are several vendors offering assorted local sweet treats and fresh whole coconuts with a straw in them so you can enjoy the delicious milk. Cafes and small restaurants are also scattered along the sea side walkway. The group was treated to a delicious meal with a wide array of dishes specially ordered by Jason. He told us that everything we were served were local specialties.

On my previous visit I had been taken around the island by the festival very quickly in a golf cart and the next day I took the ferry by myself. On this trip with Jason I learned so much more from him.

It always makes me happy when I can report that a festival which had some problems the last time I visited it has made marked improvements. I see it as a positive sign that this year the festival asked foreign guests for suggestions as to what we would like to see improved. I look forward to visiting Xiamen Cyber Sousa International Animation Festival again in the future.

In my next article you will find me having a great time at the KLIK Animation Festival in Amsterdam.

SUNDAY, APRIL 7th, 1 PM, Free, Coppola Theater San Francisco State


Compiled by KC

The recent news about troubles in the industry (outsourcing, layoffs, studios closing, a school chain under federal investigation, etc.) continues and is quite troubling. While there may be a loss of jobs in the US, our schools are enrolling thousands of students in animation programs. The latest issue of Animation Magazine says the Academy of Art reports they have over 2,200 animation students and about 85 other schools have smaller animation programs! How many of these students will find jobs in the industry? It appears the number of jobs in the industry is shrinking while the number of people thinking about careers in animation is growing. Concerned about this, I asked several animators what advice they have for people considering a career in animation. Here are their replies:

J. J. SEDELMAIER, who runs a studio in the NY area that has produced excellent work for Saturday Night Live, TV commercials, etc. says, "I visit schools and talk about this all the time. Yes, it's worth it if you're nimble and versatile. And you obviously have to love the realm and not go in expecting to makes oodles of cash - but even that's possible. Know your community and circulate. If there's an ASIFA chapter in your neck of the woods, frequent the events; get to meet the folks who are doing what you want to do. Word of mouth is a very valuable tool - and if people like you, they'll let you know what's happening where and when. Remember, you can be a stellar artist but if you're an ***hole, no one's going to want to work with you. Find the studios that are doing the sort of work you like and try to arrange an interview. Do your research so you're prepared to show you've done your homework about the place you're visiting. Keep the resume/portfolio/reel materials you share t! o a minimum. They should be concise and clear, and show what you're capable of doing. Save your money and budget yourself so you're not spending cash on unnecessary stuff - you don't NEED to live in NYC or LA.

Basically, you're not entitled to anything from anyone out there - you earn it. Keep your ears and eyes open. Listen; then talk.

JOHN R. DILWORTH created the hit animated TV series Courage the Cowardly Dog, the sick and twisted classic Dirdy Birdy and other fine work. He wrote us: "If one is seriously considering a 'career' in contemporary animation my suggestion would be to start your own company and work for yourself. Acquire as much intelligence on starting and running a business, including building personal relationships with strategic individuals. Learn what your strengths are. Compliment your shortcomings with compatible partner(s). Build and maintain a code of ethics. Discover a market and provide for it. Consider combining several markets that do not appear synergistic and create a new product for it. Create your own work. Build personal resourcefulness. Develop a strategy to gain access to anyone you need. Learn common courtesy and manners. Learn how the major functions of Government, Labor and Finance operate. Develop a sense of moral intelligence and use this to create multi-dimensional properties. Learn how t! o write."

ALAN LAU, a co-founder of Ghostbots Inc. in the Bay Area, says: "Where to begin? Being an artist starting out at (Colossal) Pictures, to being the boss at my own studio with Ghostbot, has given me perspective on both sides as an employee and employer. Here's my advice to students in easy to read bullet points:

· Surprise! It's not easy. The reality is you are competing with a very high caliber of artistic talent gunning for a small pool of work. It's always been like that. So first and foremost, make sure your skills and artistic foundation is rock solid.

· Be honest. If you want to be a feature animator, put your work up against an animated film you love. Does your work hold up? What can you improve on?

· Take the punch. Taking critiques is often the toughest part of working in the business. If you can take critiques constructively and create something even better, that attitude will take you far.

· Network! In this day and age, it's important to network with other creative types. You start with your peers in school and also spread out to events like ASIFA or CTN. It is extremely important to get on social networking sites as well. It's an easy way to meet like-minded artists, employees, and make a great impression.

· Create a web portfolio. Put your work on the web, so employers can check it out easily. It doesn't have to be fancy, but does need to show your best work. Don't put up anything half baked.

· Get an internship. It's the easiest way to show that you have a great work ethic and good attitude to employers. It also gives you a taste of a real work environment.

· Research. Remember to research where you are applying. Different companies have different needs, so you may need to juggle your portfolio around to match their job description or style.

· Be a team player. As an artist, it's easy to isolate and work alone. However, most animation projects mean working with a lot of different people relying on each other. Make sure you develop the work and social skills to deal with that environment.

· Communicate. Being able to create something artistically is one thing, but often times you'll have to explain your artistic thought process or intent to your superiors.

· Be reliable. Turn things in on time. Producers and Directors need assurance that you're going to be able to get it done. Especially if you're new and un-established.

· Evolve. Be flexible in terms of learning new techniques. Technology changes all the time, and you need to evolve with it as an artist.

· Work hard. Work at every animation job as if it's your last. Put as much dedication and focus as you can to succeed. Even if you stumble, employers will take notice that you are a dedicated professional.

· Keep learning. Education is just the beginning of learning, but shouldn't be the end. The more you can improve, the more you can move up the artistic ladder.

· Love it! Animation is a labor of love. Don't do it unless you absolutely are committed.

Layoffs always happen, but I think there's always room for amazing talent in the animation field."

MICHAEL LANGAN, who recently had 110 million people see his experimental stop-motion contribution to this year's Super Bowl broadcast, says, "I think Alan pretty much hit the nail on the head! (see previous comment by Alan Lau). If there's one point I would underscore, I'd say work hard. Not just at each job, but in school-- work your butt off! And take the time and care to lend production value to your work. That polish goes a long way in demonstrating that you can contribute seamlessly to a professional production. Nobody will know that you're capable of top-notch work unless you prove it to them first!"

MARK WEST, who has many years of experience working both for major studios, as a freelancer and running AnimaCrackers, his own studio, says "Well, I have discouraging words at home on this range. If a job CAN be outsourced, then it WILL be outsourced, period. A rule of thumb is that if you're directing a team of people (i.e. management level in some capacity), your job is probably safe for now. If, however, you are being managed or directed by others, then your job is probably at risk for outsourcing. That being said, there are some jobs in the animation realm that might stay onshore awhile. These jobs might be in the creative or conceptual areas, such as writing, conceptual art, storyboarding, pre-visualization, and general pre-planning of projects. Voice talent, music, sound recording & editing might also be safe for now. Some post-production jobs might also be OK, such as editing and compositing. Or, even these pre- and post- jobs could be outsourced, and the only survivors on Animation Island will be the management class, until even they start picking each other off".

"So, the question is why so much outsourcing? Is the only factor the 'bottom line' and cheap trumps quality? When I asked a producer why he continued to outsource animation work that always came back loaded with problems, the answer was 'because they're SO CHEAP!' The work then had to be fixed by the in-house crew. The producer somehow never counted these additional work hours on the budget, since the in-house workers were salaried employees. Personally, I think it would have been better to have a talented staff of animators to do the work correctly in the first place, but I'm old-fashioned."

ASIFA-SF and SF State's Animation Program invite you to
SUNDAY, APRIL 7th, 1 PM, Free
Coppola Theater San Francisco State

Come learn from people with experience in stop-motion, 2D and 3D animation, games and in other areas. Our experts have worked as writers, animators, directors and in other industry jobs and will answer as many questions as possible including how they find work, about creating or joining a start-up, etc.

The panel will include (partial list):

CHARLIE CANFIELD, an Emmy award winning freelance animator who presently says he has too much work to do on several documentaries.

JUSTIN KOHN, a stop-motion animator who has worked on all of Henry Selick's features. He is animation supervisor for Fonco Creative Services in Marin and works frequently with Althoe in LA. His credits include lots of commercials and long format projects (Moral Orel, Hell and Back, etc.) He is producer and VFX director on a Steampunk version of War of the Worlds.

MARK WALSH is a PIXAR animator and director. His credits include directing on Finding Nemo, directing Tom Hanks in recording sessions for a number of Toy Story Toons episodes, directing the new short film Partysaurus Rex, etc.

The rest of the panel will be announced in our April newsletter

For directions see the map at: http://www.sfsu.edu/~sfsumap/southeast.htm


Newsletter Editor: Karl Cohen
Contributors include Gene Deitch, JJ Sedelmaier, Mark West, Alan Lau, Michael Langan, Dilly and Nancy Phelps.
Cover illustration by Ricci Carrasquillo
Proofreader: Pete Davis
Mailing Crew: Dot Janson, Shirley Smith, Dan Steves and Denise McEvoy
Webmaster Joe Sikoryak
Special thank to The Walt Disney Family Museum and Ron Diamond for an exceptional program in Feb., to The G Man who sends out our e-mail updates, to Nancy Denney-Phelps for representing our chapter on the international ASIFA board, to Dan Steves who keeps our mailing list up-to-date and to our treasurer Karen Lithgow.
ASIFA-SF is a chapter of: Association Internationale du Film d'Animation with almost 40 chapters around the world. Local membership is $26 a year or $42 for joint local & international membership.

Our website and blog is: www.asifa-sf.org
Mail can be sent to: karlcohen@earthlink.net
or to PO Box 225263, SF CA 94122