Sunday, January 31, 2016

‘Thomas Edison’s Secret Lab’ Set for Live Musical Show


BEVERLY HILLS, CA -- Genius Brands International, Inc. (GBI) a global brand management company providing entertaining and enriching content for toddlers to tweens, has licensed Mills Entertainment the rights to create and produce a live show based on the multimedia entertainment brand, Thomas Edison’s Secret Lab. Included is an all-new animated series airing on public stations across the US and on GBI’s new Kid Genius channel on Comcast’s Xfinity on Demand platform.

The Thomas Edison’s Secret Lab live show will incorporate an array of original music created, written and produced by music industry legend Ron Fair and his singer-songwriter-wife Stefanie Fair, as well as the characters and themes of the series and all the engaging elements that demonstrates to kids how much fun science can be. Tour booking will be handled exclusively through the Brad Simon Organization (BSO).  The show is anticipated to run in major cities across the country in 2017.

“Our mission for Thomas Edison’s Secret Lab is to help kids discover how much fun science can be through comedy, hijinks, adventure and music that kids can relate to, and the live show created by Mills Entertainment will bring the series to life on stage with stories and original music from Ron and Stefanie Fair,” commented Stone Newman, President, GBI. “We are excited to extend the fun of Thomas Edison’s Secret Lab beyond the series with this truly unique experience, as well as the dozens of new products hitting retail next year.”

“At Mills Entertainment, we have a long history of partnering with leading brands to create exciting content for young viewers,” says Michael Mills, President of Mills Entertainment. “We are excited to work with Genius Brands on bringing Thomas Edison’s Secret Lab to audiences across North America. The show’s winning combination of original music, legendary characters and STEM curriculum make this a prime property for the live space.”

“We look forward to offering Thomas Edison’s Secret Lab Live to theaters and audiences across North America,” says Brad Simon, President of the Brad Simon Organization. “The live stage adaptation of this highly engaging STEM-based TV series is sure to resonate with parents, teachers and children.”

In addition to the launch of the Thomas Edison’s Secret Lab series this fall and live show in fall 2016, GBI will also debut a new toy line from Master Toy Partner Wicked Cool Toys in fall 2016, as well as mobile, apps, games, activity kits, apparel, publishing, and in-school curriculum program next year.  

The series is created and produced by GBI in association with Georgia Public Broadcasting and is distributed by American Public Television (APT).

Source: Genius Brands International, Inc.

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Interstate Welcomes Directorial Duo TOMAT


NEW YORK, NY -- Award-winning directors’ group Interstate has signed Rio De Janeiro-based directing duo TOMAT for exclusive US representation. Comprised of Tomas Salles and Mateus Araujo, TOMAT brings a unique perspective to Interstate. With their combination of outrageous scenarios and visually compelling graphics, their sense of style and humor is inimitable. Equally adroit in live-action, cinematography, photography and CG, the duo is primed to succeed within Interstate’s culture of creativity and nimble craftsmanship.

“One of the things that draws us to TOMAT’s work is their tonality, which I think is shared with our other directors at Interstate. Though that dark, comedic thought process really is unique among the group,” says Interstate Partner/EP Danny Rosenbloom. “We’re thrilled.”

“TOMAT brings a subtle, intelligent and visually-driven humor to commercials and branded content that we know agencies will respond to in the US,” adds Partner/Director Laurent Barthelemy.

Salles and Araujo formed TOMAT in 2011 while working as visual effects artists in Brazil. That same year, as directors, they went on to win a Bronze Lion at Cannes for their “Cat-Toast” spot for energy drink Flying Horse, as well as Shots Magazine’s prestigious Young Director Award. They have since collaborated with a number of international brands, including Budweiser, Coca-Cola, Renault, and Bayer.

Salles comes from a 3D background, having worked for eight years in New York for various companies, including Psyop/MassMarket, Buck, Artjail and The Mill. His short, Equilibrio, which he shot on 35mm film while attending NYU’s Masters program, went on to win the Create Awards, and Student Filmmaker Magazine’s Summer Shorts Awards, and was showcased in STASH Magazine, and SIGGRAPH’s prestigious Electronic Theater.  

Araujo’s career began as a compositing artist and postproduction supervisor. He got into filmmaking as a way to expand his motion graphics and animation talents. While earning his Master’s degree in Design and Technology from Parsons University in New York, he discovered that he loved being behind the camera as much as the computer. From there, he began directing music videos and freelancing for a range entertainment companies, including FDG Interspectacular, BET, USA Network, and Comedy Central.

“We’re fans of Monty Python-type of comedy,” says Araujo. “It’s subtle, and not too wacky. We love using special effects to enhance the comedic aspect of the story. That’s where we differentiate ourselves from other directors. We’re able to mix those elements very well.”

“If you’re going to work with a production company, it has to be one with people you trust, who share similar interests and values,” concludes Salles. “You need to have a good relationship in order for your work to shine. Interstate already has a wonderful roster, and I think we can add to their offering with our unique style of photographic and emotional work.”

Source: Interstate

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ABC Sets Valentine’s Day ‘Peanuts’ Specials for February 12


Be My Valentine, Charlie Brown, the 1975 special produced and animated by the same team that gave us the now classic holiday specials and taken directly from the late cartoonist Charles M. Schulz’s famed comic strip, will air with the classic A Charlie Brown Valentine, Friday, February 12th (8:00-9:00 p.m. EST) on the ABC Television Network.

In Be My Valentine, Charlie Brown, hearts are fluttering on Valentine’s Day at Birchwood School, and Linus has brought a huge box of candy for his homeroom teacher. Thinking that the candy is for her, Sally reciprocates with a homemade card for Linus. Meanwhile, Lucy demands some affection from Schroeder, and Charlie Brown waits for his cards in the mail… and waits… and waits…

This special stars Duncan Watson (Charlie Brown), Stephen Shea (Linus), Melanie Kohn (Lucy), Greg Felton (Schroeder), Lynn Mortensen (Sally) and Linda Ercoli (Violet). Be My Valentine, Charlie Brown was executive-produced by Lee Mendelson, produced by Bill Melendez and directed by Phil Roman. Music was composed and performed by Vince Guaraldi. It will air with Spanish audio via SAP.

A Charlie Brown Valentine marked the first newly created programming from the PEANUTS team in several years. In this special, Charlie Brown finally works up the courage to call the little red-haired girl to ask her to the Valentine’s Day dance. But once again he ends up broken-hearted and empty-handed when he dials the wrong number and reaches Peppermint Patty instead.

Cast members include Wesley Singerman (Charlie Brown), Lauren Schaffel (Lucy), Corey Padnos (Linus), Emily Lalande (Peppermint Patty), Jessica D. Stone (Marcie) and Christopher Ryan Johnson (Schroeder). Lee Mendelson was executive-producer and Bill Melendez was producer and director of A Charlie Brown Valentine.

On October 2, 1950 the PEANUTS comic strip launched in seven American newspapers. Who would have guessed the impact the brand would have around the world for decades to come? Nearly 60 years later, the comic strip appears in over 2,200 newspapers, in 75 countries and 21 languages. PEANUTS animated specials have become a seasonal tradition and thousands of consumer products are available in virtually all retail channels. Charlie Brown kicking the football, Linus and his blanket and Lucy leaning over Schroeder’s piano are images to which everyone can relate. Such phrases as “Security Blanket” and “Good Grief” have become a part of the global vernacular. Lee Mendelson and Bill Melendez’s association with Charles Schulz stretches back to 1965 with A Charlie Brown Christmas, which debuted on CBS in 1965 with Mendelson as executive producer and Bill Melendez as animator and director. The three men continued their long-term association until Schulz’s death, working together on 50 PEANUTS network specials and four feature films. The network specials won five Emmys, two Peabodys and 18 other Emmy nominations.

Source: ABC Television Network

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BAFTA Launches 2016 Young Game Designers Competition


LONDON -- The British Academy of Film and Television Arts (BAFTA) has announced the call for entries for the 2016 BAFTA Young Game Designers (YGD) competition in association with Nominet Trust, which aims to inspire the UK’s game designers and game-makers of the future by giving young people the chance to design and make their own game. The winners will be named at a special awards ceremony in July attended by stars of the games industry.

Originally launched in 2010, the main competition is aimed at 10-18 year-olds, divided into age-specific sub-groups. Entrants can be individuals or a team of up to three people, and can choose to enter two creative categories: The YGD Game Concept Award, by creating a concept for a new game; and the YGD Game Making Award, by making a game using freely available software. Winners will have their games developed further with industry professionals and receive a host of other prizes.

For a second year, two awards will recognise contributions by adults: The YGD Mentor Award, nominated by the public, is for an inspirational individual involved in the education of young game designers; and the YGD Hero Award, which is chosen by BAFTA’s Games and Learning & New Talent Committees, for a figure in the professional games industry who supports young game designers.

The BAFTA YGD competition is part of a year-round program of activity that gives young people and educators unique insights into the games industry and access to the creative minds behind some of their favorite games. Support includes a website where BAFTA members, award winners and nominees share their insights and advice and a range of teaching resources that link the BAFTYA YGD competition to the national curriculum.

Nominet Trust, the UK’s only dedicated tech for good funder, is headline partner of the initiative, working with BAFTA to develop additional schools-focussed activity addressing the under-representation of women in the games workforce. Other supporting partners of BAFTA Young Game Designers include: Criterion, Google, Jagex, Pinewood, Sony Computer Entertainment Europe, SEGA, Unity and WB Games.

Tim Hunter, Director of Learning and New Talent at BAFTA, commented, “The BAFTA YGD competition is a brilliant opportunity for young people to get started in games. The competition gives entrants a chance to explore the craft of game design, show their skills, and get direct feedback from the people behind some of the best-known games. We’ve already seen a previous winner, Dan Pearce from 2010, go on to be nominated in the main BAFTA Games Awards, which shows how influential this competition can be for future success in this important industry. We can’t wait to see this year’s entries.”

Vicki Hearn, Director of Nominet Trust, continued, “Following the success of last year’s BAFTA Young Game Designers competition, the biggest to date, Nominet Trust is proud to support the programme once again. YGD offers young people the digital skills, knowledge and industry connections they need to become the next generation of digital makers. With women comprising just 27% of the UK’s digital tech workforce, Nominet Trust particularly encourages competition entries from girls to start addressing this gender gap, though we’re looking forward to seeing the imaginative concepts and games developed by all young entrants this year.”

The winners of the 2015 competition: Camylle Tuliao (14), Jack Reynolds (15), Louis Jackson (11) and Jack Mills (17) developed their games further with professional games studios in Dundee. During a visit to the city the winners demonstrated their games to Their Royal Highnesses The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge. The Duke is President of BAFTA.

School teacher Ray Chambers was the first ever YGD Mentor for his extracurricular coding club and work introducing younger children to coding, while the block-building construction game Minecraft was the inaugural YGD Hero winner.

For information regarding terms & conditions, as well as entries, please visit the BAFTA YGD website. Entries are now open and will close on Friday, June 3, 2016 at 4:00pm.

Source: The British Academy of Film and Television Arts

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Squint/Opera Taps ftrack for BBC's ‘Messy Goes to Okido’


STOCKHOLM, SWEDEN -- Based on the UK children’s magazine Okido, the BBC’s Messy Goes to Okido was a hit with kids just a few months into its run. Blending CG with live-action footage, Messy offers a whimsical, yet totally educational dive into the wonderful world of science. From start to finish, all output was the result of the hard work by Squint/Opera. All work across the project’s 52 colorful, vibrant and engaging episodes came solely from the studio’s London HQ, and the results have been spectacular. ftrack was able to lend a hand, enabling Squint/Opera to stay on target while bringing its magical series to life.

“The amount and variety of assets we had in this production was insane!” commented technical director Manuel Reyes. “There were more than 200 unique 3D characters, over 60 environments, and also a huge number of 2D assets. The challenge with that is trying to keep up the quality of the show while speeding up the production to our limits!”

Squint/Opera is used to doing a bit of everything, video content, animation, apps, design, digital exhibitions. Still, bringing Messy Goes to Okido to television was a significant endeavor for the team, with more than 100 people working on it to date. Squint/Opera started developing the concept with Okido Magazine back in 2011, and collaborated to create series lead Messy Monster. From there, Squint/Opera began working on the full series in spring 2014.

Who is Messy Monster? Well, he’s curious, adorable, and set on helping young viewers find answers to very big questions. Each episode, Messy pops a question about the human world, and then zips off with friends Zoe and Felix to the fantastical setting of Okido to discover the answer.

“Why do things fall down and not up? Where do echoes come from? The brave trio fly to the moon, shrink to the size of atoms, and ride on the backs of giant butterflies to find these answers,” said Jen Coatsworth, line producer at Squint/Opera. “The show brings science to life using high-quality animation, comedy, and adventure. It raises the bar for kids’ TV, inspiring children to be curious about arts and science.”

The tight timelines on Okido were only exacerbated by the fact that, when we say Squint/Opera did everything across all episodes, we mean everything.

“Unlike most studio productions, every aspect of Messy Goes to Okido was created under one roof, an extraordinary and unusual feat,” asserted Coatsworth. “From scripting to storyboarding, animation, live footage, sound, music, and editorial, everything was completed in Squint/Opera’s East London studios.”

Squint/Opera delivered the first 25 episodes by September 2015, which is when the series premiered on the BBC’s CBeebies block. An additional backorder of 27 episodes for were scheduled for delivery by January 2016. It was this challenging schedule that kick-started the studio’s use of ftrack, nearly two years ago.

“We used ftrack as soon as the scripts for the episodes were completed, creating all the assets and linking them to the corresponding shots,” said Reyes. “It was a great way to keep everything visible and easy to find for every artist and producer working on the show.

“At each stage of production, shots and assets were reviewed through ftrack, especially at the animation stage, where all the retakes were checked through the web player,” he continued. “Notes were written on every shot, and this became very useful as they were often needed months later in production, and would otherwise have gotten lost. We also distributed all tasks through ftrack’s task system.”

Assets were a key challenge, with more than 200 different 3D characters in play across the series, along with 60+ environments and tons of 2D assets.

“The biggest challenge was trying to keep up the quality of the show while speeding up the production to our limits, but we are very happy with the results,” beamed Reyes. He added that the team’s favorite feature in ftrack is the ability to choose from many different filters and save them in varying presets. “This saved us a lot of time, and we were able to configure what we wanted to see listed depending on the type of tasks we needed to do.”

“Before ftrack we were using Google Docs,” says Voy Zankowski, the agency’s pipeline manager. “Using ftrack, the pipeline is much smoother, we can see the whole spectrum of work through one platform, and that’s vital in a fast-paced production setting.”

In fact, Squint/Opera has ftrack deeply integrated with its pipeline, set up to communicate with tools such as 3ds Max, NUKE, HIERO and Deadline. That way, ftrack is able to easily grab the shot name and task information, along with other crucial details that help the team stay organized.  Squint/Opera has also carried out a fair bit of custom development work using ftrack’s API to seamlessly blend its solutions into the workflow.

“We’ve developed automatic task updates, for example,” explained Zankowski. “Whenever an artist submits a job to Deadline, 3ds Max uses an external Python script to communicate with a small update server, passing down the project, episode, sequence, shot, and task details in the request. That update server then uses the received data to speak to the ftrack API and update the appropriate task, whether it is status or version number. This way, ftrack always contains information about which shots are already through the lighting stage and waiting to be rendered. At the same time, every job on the render farm gets a small post-job script attached. It gets executed after the rendering finishes and uses the update server to notify ftrack that the job has finished rendering and is awaiting compositing.”

Using this method, Squint/Opera can relax, knowing that ftrack is completely up to date while making everyone’s jobs a little easier all round. Zankowski says they have a similar custom integration working with NUKE, along with syncing scene length with 3ds Max and a custom version publisher that comes out of Deadline Monitor.

While many customers find that ftrack meets their project management needs right out of the box, the ability to customize the software further via the robust API has become one of the greatest benefits for Squint/Opera.

“We’re always looking for ways to improve the efficiency of our pipeline process through innovative ideas, and the ideas just keep on rolling!” said Zankowski. “We see many possibilities where we could use the ftrack API to improve our pipeline even further – they’re simply waiting to be implemented.”

Messy Goes to Okido might have been the impetus for Squint/Opera introducing ftrack into its pipeline, but it was also the proof of its benefits. Now the team uses ftrack for every project that enters the pipeline, regardless of medium or client. And it should come in handy in the future, as Squint/Opera continues work on headlining television series along with films and a diverse variety of other digital content.

“It’s impossible to manage a production of this size without asset management and tracking software,” asserted Reyes, recalling the hard work that’s led to Messy Goes to Okido’s success so far. “In our case, ftrack proved to be extremely valuable, and we can see plenty of use for it in the future.”

Source: ftrack

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Jennifer Wolfe is Director of News & Content at Animation World Network.

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Source http://www.awn.com/news/squintopera-taps-ftrack-bbcs-messy-goes-okido

Luxion Releases KeyShot 6.1


TUSTIN, CA -- Luxion, a developer of rendering and lighting technology and maker of KeyShot, the first real-time ray-tracing and global-illumination program for 3D rendering and animation, has announced the release of KeyShot 6.1.  continuing the focus of improved workflow efficiency and enhancements to KeyShot’s powerful 3D rendering features.

KeyShot 6 introduced new features, with interior lighting mode that brings more possibilities and faster rendering in the creation of product, automotive and interior architecture visuals. Pro users gained advanced material creation with the new Material Graph and a smoother workflow with geometry editing and multi-layer PSD output. With Animation currently included with KeyShot Pro, users were able to create advanced DOF, Panorama and Camera Path animations in addition to standard parts and camera animations, and see the results in real-time, as they are created. KeyShot 6.1 bridges these capabilities with improvements to the patented KeyShot HDRI Editor, enhancements to Toon and Anisotropic materials, and updated 3D software integration for KeyShot 6.

With Luxion’s patent award for HDR Image editing technology, users of KeyShot Pro gain improvements to the real-time viewing and creation of HDRI environment lighting. The HDRI Editor works by allowing a user to add light sources by adding “pins” to the environment. With KeyShot 6.1, users may now create half-pins, half rectangular or half circular pins. Both new and existing pins may be converted to half pins, by selecting the Half option in the pin properties of the HDRI editor. Along with this capability, the HDRI Editor user interface has been updated for a smoother workflow and users will see significant speed improvements in both navigation and generation of HDR images.

Additional updates include the addition of IES light, point light and area light thumbnails in the KeyShot Library to better display brightness and color of lighting presets. The Toon Material Type now allows greater control over outline and part contours for improved production of visuals for technical documentation. The Anisotropic Material Type now allows adjustment of the Roughness parameter in both X and Y position. For KeyShot Animation, motion blur is now available for cameras as well, in both the real-time and offline rendering modes.

KeyShot comes with free plugins for most 3D modeling software. KeyShot 6 plugins for all supported software integration have been released with the latest updates available for both SOLIDWORKS and PTC Creo. Additionally, 3D EXPERIENCE 2015+ 3D XML support has been added, along with support for SketchUp 2016. Onshape import capabilities is now included with the KeyShot installation by default. All KeyShot plugins may be downloaded here.

KeyShot trials are now available as a KeyShot Pro license and include KeyShot Animation and KeyShotVR, for the creation of motion and touch-enabled, interactive web visuals. Render queue and background render are disables with only the render output watermarked. The 14-day trial is available as a free download at here.

The KeyShot 6.1 update is available immediately for download and installation, for existing users on subscription. Upgrades to KeyShot 6 may be purchased online or through a qualified KeyShot reseller.

Source: Luxion

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Jennifer Wolfe is Director of News & Content at Animation World Network.

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Source http://www.awn.com/news/luxion-releases-keyshot-61

Reikenzan: Hoshikuzu-tachi no Utage episode 3


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