41st Annie Awards

The Annie Awards are awards for accomplishments in animation. Animation across both animated and live action feature film, television/broadcast, shorts, and games. The 41st Annie Awards happened last night, Saturday, February 1st, and for those of us who couldn't be there in person, the awards ceremony was streamed live on their website to all the winners! I really wish that I could have watched the entire ceremony but unfortunately it started while I was still at school working in the labs and I had to leave part way through as it was getting late and I wanted to go home, especially since I hadn't even eaten dinner yet. I left partway through Phil Tippett's acceptance speech and did not get home until the end where I saw Frozen winning the category for best animated feature. PRODUCTION CATEGORIES Best Animated Feature Frozen – Walt Disney Animation Studios Best Animated Special Production Chipotle Scarecrow – Moonbot Studios Best Animated Short Subject Get A Horse! – Walt Disney Animation Studios Best Animated TV/Broadcast Commercial Despicable Me 2 – Cinemark – Universal Pictures Best Animated TV/Broadcast Production For Preschool Children Disney Sofia the First – Disney Television Animation Best Animated TV/Broadcast Production For Children’s Audience Adventure Time – Cartoon Network Studios Best General Audience Animated TV/Broadcast Production Futurama – 20th Century Fox Television Best Animated Video Game The Last of Us – Naughty Dog Best Student Film Wedding Cake – Filmakademie Baden-Wuerttemberg

INDIVIDUAL ACHIEVEMENT CATEGORIES Animated Effects in an Animated Production Jeff Budsberg, Andre Le Blanc, Louis Flores, Jason Mayer – The Croods – DreamWorks Animation Animated Effects in a Live Action Production Michael Balog, Ryan Hopkins, Patrick Conran, Florian Witzel – Pacific Rim – Industrial Light & Magic Character Animation in an Animated Television/Broadcast Production Kureha Yokoo – Toy Story OF TERROR! – Pixar Animation Studios Character Character Animation in an Animated Feature Production Jakob Jensen – The Croods – DreamWorks Animation Character Animation in a Live Action Production Jeff Capogreco, Jedrzej Wojtowicz, Kevin Estey, Alessandro Bonora, Gino Acevedo – The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey – Gollum – Weta Digital Character Design in an Animated TV/Broadcast Production Paul Rudish – Disney Mickey Mouse – Disney Television Animation Character Design in an Animated Feature Production Carter Goodrich, Takao Noguchi, Shane Prigmore – The Croods – DreamWorks Animation Directing in an Animated TV/Broadcast Production Angus MacLane – Toy Story OF TERROR! – Pixar Animation Studios Directing in an Animated Feature Production Chris Buck, Jennifer Lee – Frozen – Walt Disney Animation Studios Music in an Animated TV/Broadcast Production Christopher Willis – Disney Mickey Mouse – Disney Television Animation Music in an Animated Feature Production Kristen Anderson-Lopez, Robert Lopez, Christophe Beck – Frozen – Walt Disney Animation Studios Production Design in an Animated TV/Broadcast Production Angela Sung, William Niu, Christine Bian, Emily Tetri, Frederic Stewart – The Legend of Korra – Nickelodeon Animation Studio Production Design in an Animated Feature Production Michael Giaimo, Lisa Keene, David Womersley – Frozen – Walt Disney Animation Studios Storyboarding in an Animated TV/Broadcast Production Daniel Chong – Toy Story of TERROR! – Pixar Animation Studios Storyboarding in an Animated Feature Production Dean Kelly – Monsters University – Pixar Animation Studios Voice Acting in an Animated TV/Broadcast Production Tom Kenny as the voice of Ice King – Adventure Time – Cartoon Network Studios Voice Acting in an Animated Feature Production Josh Gad as the voice of Olaf – Frozen
 – Walt Disney Animation Studios Writing in an Animated TV/Broadcast Production Lewis Morton – Futurama – 20th Century Fox Television Writing in an Animated Feature Production Miyazaki Hayao – The Wind Rises – The Walt Disney Studios Editorial in an Animated TV/Broadcast Production Illya Owens – Disney Mickey Mouse – Disney Television Animation Editorial in an Animated Feature Production Greg Snyder, Gregory Amundson, Steve Bloom – Monsters University – Pixar Animation Studios

JURIED AWARDS Winsor McCay Award – Katsuhiro Otomo, Steven Spielberg, and Phil Tippett June Foray – Alice Davis Certificate of Merit – I Know That Voice Ub Iwerks —DZED Systems for Dragonframe stop-motion animation software Special Achievement Award — The CTN animation Expo

Frozen Review

Hope everyone had a great Thanksgiving! I got over my cold right on time for it and what's just as exciting is finally the release of Frozen! It's been quite a while since I've went to the theaters as I skipped Turbo, Planes, Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs 2, and Freebirds. I have been eagerly waiting for this movie to be released and haven't been able to see any early screenings of it either, at ILM or CTN. I don't care about some people saying the characters look too homogenized, looking too much like Rapunzel from Tangled, or how they dislike the sidekick character, Olaf. This movie is completely for me. Frozen has two princesses and lots of singing which is, even though I still loved it, something that I found sadly missing from Wreck-it-Ralph. After the official release, there's even been a review with a headline, that I quickly glanced at,  saying that Frozen is the new best movie since Lion King. This is a tall, tall, order to make as Lion King is my favorite Disney movie. While Lion King doesn't lose its spot, I loved Frozen. I've cried many times throughout the movie and, while For the First Time is easier to sing, Let It Go is my favorite song.

First off is trailers! Animal Logic is making another movie, The Polar Bears, and it features the polar bears from Coca-Cola. I don't know. It looks cute with polar bears and it seems like a standard happy family movie but at the same time it may fall into the trap of making a giant hour long advertisement for Coca-Cola. The Nut Job, by ToonBox Entertainment and Red Rover International, is something new but unfortunately doesn't really spark my interest with squirrels and rats trying to break into a nut shop. I was kind of iffy on The Lego Movie before but seeing this new trailer made it look pretty good. The movie is directed by Phil Lord and Chris Miller, the directors of Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs, and it really comes across with all the hilarious gags.

The short that comes before Frozen is Mickey Mouse in Get a Horse. I had already seen Get a Horse previously at Animation Show of Shows but it was unfortunately just in 2D. 3D does make it better, it was more visually appealing as the characters play with the different levels of space. Not only is there the 3D foreground space of the theater and the 2D space of the projected movie screen but there is another 3D space behind the screen which further suggests the authenticity of the characters and the world that they inhabit, recalling back to my days from DxArts.

Frozen is based on Hans Christian Andersen's fairy tale The Snow Queen. Loosely. Which I love. Just like with Princess and the Frog and Tangled, I love seeing how Disney can take a classic story and put a new twist on it that is exciting, intriguing, and appealing. Instead of a girl traveling to snowy lands to save her kidnapped brother from the snow queen, Anna and Elsa are sisters and Elsa, who becomes the snow queen, is frightened of her powers and ends up running away after an incident to protect those she cares for from herself. Anna must journey to find her sister and resolve the issue, casting Arendelle into eternal winter, accidentally caused by Elsa.

Since the trailers, people have been giving a lot of grief over the snowman sidekick character, Olaf. Many complaints were that he was annoying and doesn't contribute in a significant way other than to provide comedic relief. In the movie, while he does provide comedic relief, I actually find Olaf coming across as very endearing. This is partially built upon by the history he has between Elsa and Anna as Olaf is the snowman that Elsa built for Anna in their childhood, while they were still friends and Anna hadn't had her memory wiped.

I love Elsa, she is fierce. I do wish she had more screen time. Her character cinched it for me when she sang Let It Go. The sequence was beautiful and the song really hit home as she sang about how she had to keep herself hidden all the years past and become the normal girl everyone expects of her. She's had enough hiding herself and it's time to open up and be proud of who she is. One confusion I do have though is her issue of being unable to control her powers. She looked like she was able to control them perfectly well as she creates a bridge of ice and an entire palace. It's only when there are other people around does it suddenly become "Oh no, stay away from me, I can't control it!" However, I'll attribute this more to that Elsa isn't so much as can't control her powers as she has too much powers and it is bursting out of her, especially after being stoppled for so many years.

There is one point with the story that I take issue with though and that is the romance angle. It was great that Hans isn't who he really seems to be and of course Anna can't just up and marry a guy on the first day they meet but turning around and saying she's in love with Kristoff also felt like a stretch. Through their journey together there was a sense of camaraderie but I would not say feelings were developed. The love angle was more so pushed at the last minute between Olaf and Sven as they attempt to push Anna and Kristoff together in necessity of true love's kiss.

The snow dynamics was amazing and beautiful. I believe Disney is calling it Matterhorn, which they presented at SIGGRAPH. There were multiple scenes where the characters would be covered in snow and I wondered if they had to create separate rigs that are covered in snow or if they just used the snow particles and stuck it to the characters.

For animation, the one shot that struck me the most is during Elsa's coronation. She had to take her gloves off to pick up the scepter and an orb(?), but her gloves are what she wears to keep her powers at bay. As she takes off her gloves you can see the little tremors in her hands which was beautiful and says so much.

The lighting is beautiful throughout the film. I wish a color script or a render script is somewhere for me to gaze upon. The movie starts out strong with a beautiful sunset back lighting the mountain men as they sing Frozen Heart and harvest blocks of ice. Following the beautiful and almost painterly tones and style of the world, the lighting was typically kept soft. While the land was covered in snow and ice, to keep the movie going sad and cold, a lot of vibrant blues and warm purples were used. It wasn't until when Elsa was captured and locked up did the world turn a stark and gray only to have that shadow be cast away when the protagonists emerge victorious.

I love staying through the credits, not only to support the artists, look for names of people that I know, and to stay for the often ending clip. I found Kira Lehtomaki (animator), Robert Showalter (lighter), and Dawn Rivera-Ernster (director of talent development). While reading through the credits there was also a fun little disclaimer. In the movie, Kristoff made the statement that all men eat their own boogers. The disclaimer said that Kristoff's views were his own and does not reflect upon Disney. When I got up to leave the theater I noticed that I was the only one left. Everyone else missed the ending clip with Marshmallow coming on screen to put on Elsa's tiara. They missed out!

Slew of Trailers!

There has been so many trailers of animated movies being posted on the internet this week and it is so exciting as I am looking forward to them!

I was so excited when I saw this. Laika has released the trailer for their new movie, set to come out September 26, 2014! It has taken me forever to watch puppet animated movies such as Nightmare Before Christmas and Corpse Bride as they were creepy and not something that I was particularly interested in at the time before I got into the animation field and my perception of stop motion animation was extremely choppy. I did finally watch those movies and fell in love along with being amazed at how fluid the animation was. I loved Paranorman, and even more so when Laika came to give a talk at AAU about the movie and the VFX, so I have been looking forward to the new movie that Laika had under production but was being very secretive about until now. The trailer is beautiful with the textures, animation, and lighting and adorable but sad and then cute and happy all at the the same time.


Frozen has an actual trailer now! It is in Japanese though which is a bit strange that it got released there first but still, so exciting!


Sunny with a Chance of Meatballs 2 has a new trailer out! I love the animation style of Sony as it is hilarious and amazing. Look at those limbs of the characters, they're all jiggly and wiggly without any bones.


Turbo has their third official trailer out. What I find most interesting is the difference of this third trailer to the first one as the render has changed. I remembered that there was a lot of subsurface scatter on the snails in the very first trailer and there's not as much now in this third trailer. I wonder what the animation would be like though, particularly since I loved the animation of the snail and slug in Blue Sky's Epic.


Disney's Frozen - Leaked Art

A few posters for Disney's new film Frozen, has popped up on the internet and has people all heated up. First, Disney has said that they are fake.

They didn’t come from us, so I just know that they aren’t official. Everyone will definitely know when we send something that is.

However, the design does follow all the concept art that we have seen thus far and it appears that the models were leaked by someone who had access. Thus comes the point of contention that many people have brought up about the designs; how much Elsa looks like Rapunzel from Tangled, and the difference between the concept art of Elsa and what we are seeing now. First, the two characters are both blonde and fair skinned. Unfortunately the artists did not much leeway on that account as Rapunzel was specifically described as such in the original story and Anna, coming from Denmark (the setting of the Hans Christian Anderson story) are also typically fair skinned and blonde. Next up is that Anna's face is slightly rounder than Rapunzel's and Anna has a darker skin palette. While the base structure may be different, what people are really picking up on is the facial features of the two characters. They both have essentially the same eye shape/size/placement, nose, and mouth. That is though, a Disney style in how they draw their female characters from Ariel to Rapunzel. A Disney style that has been identified by Glen Keane throughout the many years.

The concept art that we see of the Snow Queen is more reflective of Pocahontas where the shapes are a lot harder instead of the soft roundness. It gives the character of a sense of strength and being regal. Instead, we now get a design that looks softer and with similar shapes with Anna, although a bit sharper, but not a lot of variation and contrast.

As Disney often does their own take on classic stories, it will be interesting in how they will be changing and telling the story from what we know and expect, and how they will fit everything in together. Plot summary: When Anna is cursed by her estranged sister, the cold-hearted Snow Queen, Anna’s only hope of reversing the curse is to survive a perilous but thrilling journey across an icy and unforgiving landscape. Joined by a rugged, thrill-seeking outdoorsman, his one-antlered reindeer and a hapless snowman, Anna must race against time, conquer the elements and battle an army of menacing snowmen if she ever hopes to melt her frozen heart.

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Additionally, here is a video insight by two lovely young ladies, known as The Rotoscopers, on what they think of the character designs. [youtube]