2D animation, 3D animation, OSCAR

Oscar Watch 2012

Dr. Seuss’ The Lorax

Studio: Illumination Mac Guff
Directors: Chris Renaud, Kyle Balda
Distributor: Universal Pictures
Release Date: March 2
Box Office: $338.9 million [$214 million]
Rotten Tomatoes Rating: 54%
Synopsis: The CG animated update of Theodor Geisel’s environmentally minded children’s classic stars Zac Efron as a young boy named Ted bent on saving the disappearing Trufula Trees, Taylor Swift as the girl of his dreams, Danny DeVito as the gruff yet cuddly Lorax, Ed Helms as the mysterious Once-ler, Rob Riggle as the mayor and Betty White as Ted’s grandma.
The Buzz: It’s always a challenge to adapt a well loved picture book as a feature effort; despite the artistic wizardry of French studio Mac Guff and the box office response, critics seemed underwhelmed by the updated Lorax.

The Pirates! Band of Misfits

Studios: Aardman Animations, Sony Pictures Animation
Director: Peter Lord
Distributor: Columbia Pictures
Release Date: April 27
Box Office: $121.6 million [$31 million]
Rotten Tomatoes Rating: 86%
Synopsis: This mad-cap seafaring adventure stars Hugh Grant as Pirate Captain, who in the course of vying for the Pirate of the Year contest gets tangled up with the likes of Queen Victoria (Imelda Staunton), Charles Darwin (David Tennant) and other characters. The excellent cast also includes Martin Freeman, Jeremy Piven, Salma Hayek, Brian Blessed, Brendan Gleeson and even Al Roker as the Pirate Who Likes Sunsets and Kittens.
The Buzz: Co-directed by Jeff Newitt and based on the popular books by Gideon Defoe, Pirates was a tour de force of richly detailed stop-motion animation and Brit humor—but after the mania over Oscar winner Curse of the Were-Rabbit, Aardman might have trouble filling its own sizeable shoes.

Madagascar 3: Europe’s Most Wanted

Studio: DreamWorks Animation
Directors: Eric Darnell, Tom McGrath, Conrad Vernon
Distributor: Paramount Pictures
Release Date: June 8
Box Office: $638.8 million [$216.1 million]
Rotten Tomatoes Rating: 78%
Synopsis: In the zoosters’ latest escapade, a faulty getaway with the “help” of the penguins finds the critters joining up with a European traveling circus, all the while evading capture by Monaco’s most dogged Animal Control Officer, Chantal DuBois (Frances McDormand). Franchise cast including Ben Stiller, Chris Rock, David Schwimmer, Jada Pinkett Smith and Sacha Baron Cohen return along with newcomers Bryan Cranston, Jessica Chastain and Martin Short as their circus pals.
The Buzz: While the third outing performed very well at the box-office and entertained family audiences, so far none of the franchise’s films have made the final Oscar cut—then again, the popular zoo pals may be overdue in the Academy’s eyes.


Studio: Disney-Pixar
Directors: Mark Andrews, Brenda Chapman
Distributor: Walt Disney Pictures
Release Date: June 22
Box Office: $515.7 million [$233.8 million domestic]
Rotten Tomatoes Rating: 77%
Synopsis: As princess of an ancient Scottish kingdom, Merida (Kelly Macdonald) struggles against the expectations of her parents and her plans for her life. When she takes her destiny into her own hands, it threatens the safety of the kingdom as well as those she loves most. The pedigreed cast also includes Billy Connolly and Emma Thompson as the king and queen, Julie Walters, Robbie Coltrane, Kevin McKidd and Craig Ferguson.
The Buzz: Pixar’s first fairytale sought to break the mold with its strong-willed female protagonist as well as forge new ground in stunningly detailed CG animation; despite accomplishing this, some critics felt Brave lacked the originality of prior Pixar films.

Ice Age: Continental Drift

Studio: Blue Sky Studios
Directors: Steve Martino, Mike Thurmeier
Distributor: 20th Century Fox
Release Date: July 13
Box Office: $849.9 million [$159.2 million]
Rotten Tomatoes Rating: 38%
Synopsis: The fourth installment of the Ice Age saga sees the herd separated by shifting continents, pestered by pirates and desperately trying to reunite families amid the chaos and finding a new home (and a new girlfriend for Diego). Key cast Ray Romano, John Leguizamo, Denis Leary, Queen Latifah, Chris Wedge and Keke Palmer are joined by Jennifer Lopez, Peter Dinklage, Wanda Sykes, Drake, Aziz Ansari, Nicki Minaj and more to round out the cool ensemble.
The Buzz: Despite being the highest-grossing toon of the year (so far) and cracking up audiences, the 3-D CG sequel effort seemed to critics to recycle too much from the previous films; it’s unclear whether the franchise is overdue for a nod or if the first film’s nomination was its best shot.


Studio: LAIKA
Directors: Sam Fell, Chris Butler
Distributor: Focus Features
Release Date: August 17
Box Office: $86.5 million [$54.1 million]
Rotten Tomatoes Rating: 87%
Synopsis: Norman is an outcast kid shunned by his schoolmates for his strange ability to talk to ghosts. But when an ancient curse unleashes a horde of zombies on his small town of Blithe Hollow, it’s up to him to set things right. Kodi Smitt-McPhee stars with Tucker Albrizzi, Anna Kendrick, Casey Affleck, Christopher Mintz-Plasse, Elaine Stritch, Leslie Mann, Jeff Garlin, Bernard Hill and John Goodman.
The Buzz: LAIKA’s second feature effort, ParaNorman’s original story (penned by Butler) and lovingly hand-crafted stop-motion impressed the critics … except certain conservative outlets who found fault with a reference to a character’s homosexuality in a kid flick—but we like to think (hope?) the Academy is less stuffy.

Hotel Transylvania

Studio: Sony Pictures Animation
Director: Genndy Tartakovsky
Distributor: Columbia Pictures
Release Date: September 28
Box Office: $57.7 million [$49.6 million]
Rotten Tomatoes Rating: 45%
Synopsis: Dracula (Adam Sandler) runs a luxury resort for classic monsters (werewolves, mummies, zombies and the like) and is busy preparing for his daughter Mavis’ (Selena Gomez) 118th birthday. As the gruesome guests are set to arrive, a normal human named Jonathan (Andy Samberg) stumbles onto the hotel and takes a shine to Mavis, much to Drac’s chagrin. The comedic cast is filled out by Kevin James, Cee Lo Green, Steve Buscemi, Molly Shannon, David Spade, Fran Drescher and Jon Lovitz.
The Buzz: Toon fans were keen to check out Tartakovsky’s first feature effort and enjoyed the colorful, cartoony vibe of this kids’ comedy; but the long and tumultuous production may have added to critics’ sense that the plot wasn’t up to snuff for older audiences.


Studio: Tim Burton Productions
Director: Tim Burton
Distributor: Walt Disney Pictures
Release Date: October 5
Box Office: TBA
Rotten Tomatoes Rating: 85%
Synopsis: When young Victor is inspired to reanimate the body of his beloved dog, Sparky, his classmates follow suit and unleash a chaotic plague of strange creatures on the town of New Holland. Based on Burton’s 1984 live-action short, the film features the voices of Charlie Tahan, Catherina O’Hara, Martin Short, Martin Landau, Winona Ryder, Atticus Shaffer, Christopher Lee, Robert Capron, Conchata Ferrell, James Hiroyuki Liao and Tom Kenny.
The Buzz: With a disappointing opening weekend B.O. (lagging behind Hotel Transylvania, which was in its second week), Disney’s gamble on Burton’s quirky éclat seemed wobbly; critics however praised the artistry of the black-and-white stop-motion film as well as its oddball story—hey, how much did Spirited Away make on its U.S. debut?

Wreck-It Ralph

Studio: Walt Disney Animation Studios
Director: Rich Moore
Distributor: Walt Disney Pictures
Release Date: November 2
Box Office: TBA
Rotten Tomatoes Rating: TBA
Synopsis: John C. Reilly stars as a disgruntled 8-bit game villain who sets out on a journey across the various videogames in his arcade to prove that he has what it takes to be a hero. The 3-D CG flick also stars Sarah Silverman as Vanellope, a glitchy but cute racing game character; Jack McBrayer as the hero of Ralph’s game Fix-It Felix, Jr.; and Jane Lynch as Sgt. Calhoun, star of an FPS game.
The Buzz: Disneyphiles and gamers alike are psyched to check out Ralph, which will feature cameos from popular game characters; first glimpses reveal a sweeping variety of characters and worlds expertly animated—but only time will tell if this departure from the Disney canon will please the Academy.

Rise of the Guardians

Studio: DreamWorks Animation
Director: Peter Ramsey
Distributor: Paramount Pictures
Release Date: November 21
Box Office: TBA
Rotten Tomatoes Rating: TBA
Synopsis: This colorful, action-packed adaptation of William Joyce’s popular book stars Chris Pine as Jack Frost, who joines up with North (Santa Claus, Alec Baldwin), Bunnymund (Easter Bunny, Hugh Jackman), Tooth (Tooth Fairy, Isla Fisher) and Sandy (Sandman) to restore the faith of children around the world and defeat the wicked Pitch (Jude Law).
The Buzz: DWA’s previous features based on Joyce’s books (Meet the Robinsons, Robots) proved popular with audiences, and this latest 3-D CG effort is creating buzz with its fresh take on classic characters and rich visuals—could this be the Joyce tale that makes it to the Oscars?

The Painting

Studios: Blue Spirit/Be-Films
Director: Jean-François Laguionie
Distributor: GKIDS
Release Date: TBA
Box Office: $183,700 (approx. USD value of French B.O., per AlloCiné)
Rotten Tomatoes Rating: TBA
Synopsis: Set in the world of a 1930s artist’s atelier, three races of painted beings—the completed Alldunns, partially done Halfies and roughly rendered Sketchies—battle each other for supremacy. Ramo an Alldunn and Claire, the Halfie he loves, join up with inquisitive Lola on a quest to find the artist and discover why he created these contentious races.
The Buzz: Critics responded favorably to this inventive, beautifully crafted tale from Laguionie and co-scripter Anik Le Ray (Eleanor’s Secret) on both sides of the pond—it’s a blessing and a potential curse for Painting that 2012 has been such a strong year for foreign animated features.

From Up on Poppy Hill

Studio: Studio Ghibli
Director: Goro Miyazaki
Distributor: GKIDS
Release Date: TBA
Box Office: $56 million (approx. USD value of Japanese B.O., per Variety)
Rotten Tomatoes Rating: TBA
Synopsis: Set in 1960s Yokohama, the film follows two high school students who undertake to restore an historic building and save it from demolition, all the while unraveling the mystery of their own connected past. GKIDS has tapped Gillian Anderson, Jamie Lee Curtis, Bruce Dern, Christina Hendricks, Ron Howard, Chris Noth, Aubrey Plaza, Anton Yelchin, Beau Bridges, Sarah Bolger, Jeff Dunham, Isabelle Fuhrman, Emily Osment, Charles Saxton and Alex Wolff as the English language voice cast.
The Buzz: With the pro revamp team of director Gary Rydstrom, writer Karey Kirkpatrick and exec producer Frank Marshall and Kathleen Kennedy (all of Arrietty fame) on the case, audiences can expect a fluid translation of this heartfelt teen adventure—but though the Academy loves Ghibli, Goro’s (son of Hayao Miyazaki) last feature effort was a B.O. and critical disappointment.


 Prima Linea Productions
Directors: Rémi Bezançon, Jean-Christophe Lie
Distributor: GKIDS
Release Date: TBA
Box Office: $1.7 million (approx. USD value of French B.O., per AlloCiné)
Rotten Tomatoes Rating: TBA
Synopsis: This expansive film takes viewers on a journey from Sudan to Paris as 10-year-old Maki pursues his beloved pet giraffe Zarafa, who is en route to France as a gift to Charles X from the Pasha of Egypt. Through Alexandria, Marseille and the snow Alps the duo encounter many adventures and odd characters in this charming story of true friendship.
The Buzz: Zarafa has won over festival audiences around the word with its impeccably French 2D artistry and sweet sentimentality—although some have raised their hackles over inaccuracies about the fate of the legendary giraffe; it’ll be up to Academy members to decide whether the art of fiction wins out over the complexities of history when GKIDS launches its qualifying run.

The Rabbi’s Cat

Studio: Autochenille Productions
Directors: Joann Sfar, Antoine Delesvaux
Distributor: GKIDS
Release Date: TBA
Box Office to Date: $552,416 (approx. USD value of French B.O., per AlloCiné)
Rotten Tomatoes Rating: TBA
Synopsis: Based on Sfar’s award-winning comic series, the film centers on a cat living in 1920s Algeria who gains the ability to speak after swallowing a parrot and expresses his desire to convert to Judaism to his Rabbi owner.
The Buzz: While critics have been universally won over by the colorful 2D animation, some were less enchanted by the storytelling in the film translation—but after nabbing the top Annecy Cristal, it’s still a strong contender for Oscar nomination.

A Liar’s Autobiography: The Untrue Story of Monty Python’s Graham Chapman

Studios: Bill and Ben Prod., EPIX
Directors: Bill Jones, Ben Timlett, Jeff Simpson
Distributor: Brainstorm Media
Release Date: November 2
Box Office: TBA
Rotten Tomatoes Rating: TBA
Synopsis: Based on Chapman’s fictitious 1980 autobiography, the film is a mélange of completely untrue events from the Brit comedian’s life. Former Python cohorts John Cleese, Michael Palin, Terry Jones and Terry Gilliam provide voices, adding to recordings of Chapman reading from the book made shortly before his death in 1989.
The Buzz: Python fans are eager to see how this independent project will turn out, and animation aficionados are piqued by the format which will combine animated “chapters” crafted by over a dozen studios—but has “Project Chapman 3D” generated enough buzz to lure in Academy voters at the end of the year?

The Secret of the Wings

Studio: DisneyToon Studios
Directors: Peggy Holmes, Roberts Gannaway
Distributor: Disney
Release Date: September 3 [Limited]
Box Office to Date: TBA
Rotten Tomatoes Rating: TBA
Synopsis: The fourth film in Disney’s popular Tinkerbell home movie franchise sees Tink (Mae Whitman) venture into the forbidden world of the Winter Woods and discovering a mysterious secret about fairies’ wings. Lucy Hale, Lucy Liu, Angela Bartys, Raven-Symone, Megan Hilty, Pamela Adlon, Anjelica Huston, Timothy Dalton and Grey DeLisle star.
The Buzz: While the fairies do gangbusters with their young target home audience, they haven’t managed to conjure up an Academy nod—although Disney may have pushed a theatrical release in part to raise the number of qualifiers, and thus nominees, like they tried with Great Fairy Rescue in 2010.

Arjun: The Warrior Prince

Studios: UTV Motion Pictures, Disney
Director: Arnab Chaudhuri
Distributor: Walt Disney Pictures
Release Date: May 25, September 3 [Limited]
Box Office: $19,267 (approx. USD value of Indian B.O., per BollywoodTrade)
Rotten Tomatoes Rating: TBA
Synopsis: Taken from the ancient Indian epic Mahabharata, the film explores the early life of legendary warrior Arjun, his training, the family rivalries for the crown that drive him into exile with his brother and his eventual triumph.
The Buzz: Indian critics widely acknowledged Arjun, with its intriguing CG/toon-shaded animation style, was a big leap forward for the country’s toon industry and it’s been snapped up by festivals—but with such strong competition it might not make much of an impact Stateside.

The Mystical Laws

Studio: Eleven Arts
Director: Isamu Imakake
Distributor: Nikkatsu
Release Date: October 6, 2012
Box Office: TBA
Rotten Tomatoes Rating: TBA
Synopsis: In the near future, the newly formed Godom Empire is threatening to take over the world by using advanced technology offered to them by Leika Chan, the mysterious female president of a trading company. The film’s hero, Sho Shishimaru, is the one man who has the “mystical technology” that can stop the Godom Empire. After being hunted down by the Empire, Sho is saved by mysterious Indians monks, who tell him about a prophecy about the rebirth of Buddha. Based on the book by Ryuho Okawa, the founder of the controversial religious organization Happy Science (Kōfuku no Kagaku).


Studio: Triggerfish
Director: Wayne Thornley
Distributor: Sony Pictures
Release Date: June 5, 2012
Box Office: TBA
Rotten Tomatoes Rating: TBA
Synopsis: On the edge of a majestic waterfall, in the heart of Africa, lies the amazing bird city of Zambezia, led by wise and battle-tested Sekhuru (Leonard Nimoy). Our young falcon hero Kai (Jeremy Suarez) leaves his remote outpost against his Father’s (Samuel L. Jackson) wishes to join the prestigious Hurricane defense flyers fiercely trained by Ajax (Jeff Goldblum) to patrol the skies keeping Zambezia safe. Kai’s father goes after him but is captured as the scheming iguana lizard Budzo (Jim Cummings) conspires to attack the sanctuary. Kai and soulmate Zoe (Abigail Breslin) will need to gather all their flying skills along with a big dose of diplomacy to save the city from Budzo’s deadly plot.

3D animation, art, Cartoon - animation films

3D Animation – BRAVE

English: Pixar Animation Studios company logo ...

 Brave New Hair

   By Mike Seymour | June 21, 2012

For Brave, the team at Pixar had to deal with a hero or rather heroine, who is on screen for almost every shot, but who needed wild, yet beautiful hair. The simulation department needed to develop a technique and approach not only viable on a hand crafted trailer shot, but something that could be used almost ‘out of box’ on most shots, or the film was simply never going to make its deadline.

Merida’s hair is really long

If her curls were unwound Merida’s hair would measure 4 feet long. The character is only 5′ 4″.

The Princess Merida’s hair was almost a three year process to get correct. Earlier hair such as for the characters in The Incredibles had much more groomed hair, but here the character’s hair simulation needed to solve how to get this messy, tempestuous and unpredictable look while still looking attractive and flowing nicely with the animation.

The previous hair system used by Pixar had to be seriously overhauled since:

  • Merida’s hair required much greater hair to hair (soft body) collisions than anything Pixar had done before.
  • The curls themselves were an issue from a simulation point of view.

Simulation team was headed by Claudia Chung (R)

Hair is modeled using a series of mass and springs (springs connecting point masses). But very curly hair acts in a contradictory way: curls are very stiff, so the springs need to be quite rigid, but the movement of the hair requires a soft flowing quality that fights this property. If the ‘springs’ were too soft the hair would unwind, if the hair springs were too stiff, her hair would not move realistically. This coupled with the problem of collision and intersection – while holding to the production schedule – made Brave’s hair simulation extremely complex.

Pixar developed and internally released a new simulator, which is multi-threaded. The new code does computation before it sends hair off to the simulator to determine how other hairs would relate. This means that a cluster of hairs would all be dealt with as one group, and the Hair simulation could be multi-threaded. In one sequence Merida flicks her hair from one side of her face to the other, but even such high level gross spatial changes were able to be automatically accommodated.

Mass and weight are two common often misunderstood terms. The fundamental relation between the mass and the weight is defined by Newton’s 2nd Law as:

F = m . a

where  F = force (N), m = mass (kg), a = acceleration (m/s2).

Mass is a measure of the amount of material in an object. Mass does not change with a body’s position or movement. The mass is a fundamental property of amount of matter in the object. Weight is the gravitational force acting on a body’s mass.

It is this force that interacts with the stiffness of the ‘springs’ in the digital hair.

To address the curls themselves there is a core thread or curve that runs through the middle of a primary curl. The key hairs are B-splines that are then used to interpolate the motion of the rest of the hairs. So Merida had 1500 hand placed curves which interpolate to some 111,000 curves at final render. Merida’s hair was simulated at about 20 to 30 seconds a frame.

Hair like Merida’s – if real – would itself have quite a lot of actual mass and weight. “Over the course of doing her hair,” comments Pixar simulation supervisor Claudia Chung, “one thing we noticed was that the idea of weight of curly hair defies logic. If you took a curly hair and weighted it and then one took straight hair and weighted it, with the same weight in mass, the way each would react to gravity is quite different.” Merida’s hair wanted to unwind due to the weight of her own hair, so the team tried lighting the mass, but then the hair became floaty “almost like underwater hair. It is not that the mass changes, it is almost as if gravity itself changes.” So the team ended up using a gravity coefficient closer to that of the moon than earth.

Above: watch interviews with some of Brave’s artists at Pixar, thanks to our media partners at The Daily.

In reality, curly hair has a support structure where curls themselves support other curls. Hair needs to not only interact with other hairs, it needs to respond to cloth/cloths of the character – such as hood, wind, water/rain, the face and head of the characters and them in some scenes other hair, such as when the hair of Angus (Merida’s horse) flicks Merida’s hair.

Progression: Merida’s guide hairs and curls.

To add further to the complexity of Brave’s special physics, Merida’s hair, and that of characters such as Angus, had to look natural even when the characters moved in accelerated, unrealistic ways. Many characters had vastly exaggerated movements for comic and creative effect, yet the simulations would look completely unrealistic if they inherited this movement fully. Thus the team had to dampen the physics between the on-screen movement and the simulation.


Download Video

Watch this turntable showing the sims layers of Merida’s hair including her final wet hair.

 Hair Dressing

Why is hair actually curly?

Hair curls due to the way it is grown. Curly hair is almost like a ribbon, while straight hair is more tubular.

The amount of curl is dependent upon the number of disulfide bonds between hair proteins found in the hair shaft. The greater the number of links, the curlier the hair.

Hair is primarily composed of keratin, a protein, which grows from the follicle. Cells in the hair follicle generate keratin, and various other proteins. These proteins contain sulfur atoms, and when two of these sulfur atoms pair up and bond one gets a disulfide bond. If the two sulfur atoms in the same protein are at a distance when they join (to form the disulfide bond), the protein will bend.

Water and heat affect hair by affecting those disulfide bonds.

To style Merida’s hair, which had both a range of curl sizes and densities, a groom is created as with any hair simulation. “What the artist figured out is that she couldn’t keep up with the art direction,” says Chung. “Lena Petrovic worked almost side by side with the art director, but she couldn’t keep up so she thought she needed a faster way to curl curves, and she thought about it and she realized, ‘How do I do this at home? I use a curling iron!’ So she implemented a curling iron in the computer and the funny thing is that the implementation of it is really pretty simple, almost trivial. You feed it a diameter and the length and then the computer generates the curl, and then once she has that curl she can tweak the curl to give it more character, so it speaks to the character of Merida.”

One of the problems of curly hair is its volume. The team could not ‘groom’ the hair the way it is seen in the film, so the solution was to groom in an “exploded way, as if Merida had her finger in a light socket,” notes Chung. “That way each curl is standing on its own.” And then artists would apply the simulator on that.

In reality Pixar hit its objective of producing a workflow that would get very close ‘right out of the box’, in fact about 20% of the shots in the film were exactly that, which means “what we got out of the simulator was Merida’s hair as you see it, and many of the shots all we were doing was fixing errant hairs (fly aways) and things that were simple, and not having to touch the dynamics at all,” explains Chung.

Pixar is about about to release RPS 17, but on this film the team at Pixar used RPS 16 for rendering. There was a “new shading element that gave it more depth and complexity,” says Chung, but the hair was rendered using Deep shadows. An approach pioneered over ten years ago, Deep shadows (Lokovic, Veach) was very important as it provided self shadowing in hair which is vital to realism and even today without deep shadows, the actual shadows of hair appear harsh and unrealistic on secondary objects. Deep shadow maps also allow for accurate motion blurred shadows from fast moving hair curls.

Detailed close up. Click to see a larger version.

While an individual hair can be rendered easily and its properties are easy to accurately render, the composite effects of hair volumes can be extremely complicated, as the optical properties are influenced by millions of micro-scale shadows, and much of the illumination of hair comes from neighboring hair’s light scattering and bounce.

Danielle Feinberg was doing a lighting test in pre-production and a test render failed of the Scottish landscape. The shot had fog rendered but the primary lights were not on for some reason. The result was a dramatic shot with shafts of fog around silhouetted hills and trees. This ‘happy accident’ so appealed to the Pixar veteran that it informed her whole approach to film.  It became the basis of the forest lighting, and the “mysterious – ‘I don’t know what’s out there in this magical forest‘-  feeling,” she says.

Danielle Feinberg was the director of photography for lighting on Brave. For the last 13 years, she has delighted in bending the rules of light to her every whim. She joined the film three and a half years ago.

Feinberg really likes soft lighting and Merida’s hair really responded and looked “really lovely with soft lighting,” as she explained to our media partner The Daily when they visited Pixar.

“I am still amazed by her hair – just by the fact we could even pull off her hair. We got this really wonderful thing  from our simulation and character department,” Feinberg recalls as she describes lighting the characters “luscious red hair. We played with it and added some sub surface scattering to make the light bounce around and simulate that and then we add just a touch of blue to just the highest bits just to get a bit of fuzzy edges to just soften it out just a little – without going so far as it feels like too other worldly, or over the top. There was a little trial and error but they (simulation) gave us such a wonderful model that it was surprisingly easy to light – it’s been pretty amazing.”

By the time Merida was being animated, “there were over 4000 controls on her,” says animator and animation tool lead Bret Parker. Parker came on very early in the production of Brave, while the characters were still being rigged. “To get her to smile is about 30 controls,” which is fairly standard for an animated character at Pixar’s level, but what animators like Parker had to deal with was also the animation of Merida’s hair, when it is also standard in many productions to not have any hair on a figure at the animation stage and only have a stand in fixed ‘wig’ that indicates the physical volume that the hair would occupy on screen.

Side view of Merida’s hair model.

Early on both the animation team and the simulation team realized that the animators would need some idea of what Merida’s hair would be doing, and also to allow them to add things like her hand flicking her hair or tossing her head – in other words to pose and influence the simulation.

To give the animators something workable that would not slow them down, a cutdown much faster real time simulation was added for the animators for the first time in a Pixar production. This down and dirty quick simulation would indicate roughly what would happen when the final hair was fully simulated and added, but also allowed enough interactivity of the process to not slow down. A normal scene perhaps lasting just a few seconds would normally take a week to animate. “The final animation …I had 4 shots in one sequence, each took a week, so that’s a whopping 10 seconds of animation in a month,” laughs Parker as she discusses her animation process

The quick simulation model system worked extremely well allowing for great posing and animation timing that allowed for the screen time and blocking Merida’s wild hair required. “We knew right off the bat that this was going to be a huge issue especially coming off The Incredibles and Violet’s character,” points out Chung. “The animators needed to see her hair and they needed to see her dress as well, because if you are moving with a dress you move very differently as well. So we created new technology that allowed animation to run sims. We deployed a decimated version of both her hair and her dress, and for the queen as well.”

The animators then had the choice to run the decimated simulation animation which would play at 24 fps or they could pose say the hair with a hair rig, such that these poses would feed into the simulation “like a guide really,” says Chung, “in a very soft way. So when they went into a shot they would have stand-in hair that would give them volume, and then as they went into polishing they would run fast sims for more complex situations where Merida was interacting with her hair. The animation and simulation departments were lock step – we would deploy our artists exactly when animation did – so we sort of had a buddy system.”

Other simulations: horse hair

Perhaps even more complex is the hair simulation needed for Angus, Merida’s trusty horse. Like many of the secondary characters in the film, Angus required a range of different hairs – from his mane, whiskers, fetlocks and to his tail. Angus has some of the most complex hair, with 8 layers ad 111,000 hand placed curves in RenderMan expanding to 1.8 million final curves.

Final shot

Blow up on Angus (click for larger version)

Other simulations: bear fur

By comparison, the bear fur was simpler but it is not as short as it appears, given the size of the character, the hairs under the bear’s arms for example are about one foot long and are defined by about 20 points defining the groom.

There is a key scene in the film where Merida is teaching her mother, now transformed into a bear, to fish. From a simulation point of view this could easily have been one of the most complex scenes. The water simulation needed to react with the cloth simulation, making it wet and with the hair, which is also wet and interacting and affecting both the water sim and the cloth sim.

Hair to hair interactions include friction, static charge which can cause hairs to merge, clump and group. This is magnified several times over if the hair is wet.

Merida encounters a number of bears in the film.

In the fishing sequence the mother bear is in the water splashing and the hair/fur is wet, causing matting or clumping. Merida also falls in the water leading to both characters being wet, interacting with water, cloth and hair sims. Says Chung: “The pairing of the water surface and the hair that had to move, and the back and forward – careful process between the effects artists and the simulation artists, because the movement of the fur had to be driven by the water.”

The groom and shading on the bear itself was done before the shot starts, so only the body is ‘wet’ and the top of the bear is assumed to not be really wet, which meant Pixar did not need to dynamically change much during the shot. The sheen and shine are added to the body to indicate the wetness. The effects TD started by setting up the water surface and they drove the direction of the water, “and then they hand off that to the simulation artist who does both the cloth (Merida) and hair and then he – from that – can judge how to simulate those models.

There are a couple of shots in that sequence he also hand crafted clumps of the fur in order for the water to run off the collected fur clumps,” adds Chung, talking about Stephen Gustafson, “one artist took on the whole sequence – it is big achievement for him, I think – he is amazing – Mark Andrews – (the film’s co-director) gave everyone nicknames and Stephen had the nick name of Sim Samurai – ’cause he was so good – and quiet!”

Meanwhile, Merida’s hair was animated to have higher gravity, increased mass and more drag when wet. “The way wet hair moves,” says Chung, “when it is wet it sort of clings – so we had to get that as well.”

Wet dresses

Dress pattern

Merida’s dress also needed heavy simulation, not only in normal scenes but also in the complex water scene where the dress must be simulated being wet and dry. The dress was built from a digital pattern. Pixar is famous for actually having artists doing digital tailoring who have previous skills and experience in traditional costume, wardrobe, design and dress making. While some of the problems faced in realistic cloth and clothing are related to finding the appropriate level of mesh complexity, or improving the underlying dynamics of cloth or even the excessive intersections and collision problems cloth inherently needs to master, great dress making skills are also needed. Cloth texture selection and pattern cutting is just as important especially for a Princess.

Dress sim

Reference and design

But even the finest cloths get to be dunked in a river in a comedy, and having made Merida’s dress work in air, the team also had to make it work underwater for a brief shot. “For the cloth itself Stephen figured out the parameters for Merida’s dress when it is under the water surface when you have that buffeting,” outlines Chung, “which is very important, and then once she picked up her dress, he figured out how to make it seem heavy and wet.” This was enhanced by environmental shading adjustments, when Merida was near the water surface; “anything around this water surface is now shaded with a wet shader – so there is technology there too.”


Download Video

Watch this turntable video of Merida’s complete wardrobe simulations and Fergus’ different cloth & hair simulations.

Don’t even try this with live action

The team tries to research hood reveals

One of the more difficult shots in live action with a beauty shot of a lead actress is removing a hat, helmet or, in the case of a Scottish Princess, a hood. Normally in live action this is such a problem to achieve without an actress looking bad that it is simply avoided, or it is hidden with a cut or edit, with the action cutting back just after the reveal. And of course on the set the helmet, hat or hood never actually touches the actress’ hair.

But not for Brave.

In one of the hero moments of the film, Merida is revealed from under a hood during an archery contest, and not only is this a close up, but it is done deliberately and very dramatically, requiring a perfect end hero pose of the film’s heroine. And it was required as an early shot for the trailer.

For this shot the simulation team had no choice but to spend a lot of time and hand tweak the simulation extensively. The pipeline was still in its early days and the shot is inherently a difficult one. Simulation does exactly that and simulates what would happen – and in real life that is a mess of hair.


Download Video

Watch the archery scene, including the hood reveal.

The trailer scene is a defining moment where Merida has to be seen “with her hair in full glory and trying to do that was a tricky feat,” jokes Chung. “We had controls that would guide the simulation, and we can blend between sims. All of our models in a simulation all know what their at rest default pose is, and so you can define a simulation to be more attracted to that pose, but you have to do it with a slight hand – if you are not careful. In fact, it can look very stiff, but if you look at that scene, her hair remains looking soft.”

To hear more about the simulation work in Brave, listen to this week’s fxpodcast with Pixar’s Claudia Chung.

All images and clips copyright © 2012, Disney/Pixar.

Re blog from: http://www.fxguide.com/featured/brave-new-hair/

2D animation, Cartoon - animation films, STUDIO

List of Disney theatrical animated features

Walt Disney Animation Studios

The following is a list of the animated films that were either entirely produced in-house by Walt Disney Productions prior to 1986, or were produced by Walt Disney Animation Studios, formerly known as Walt Disney Feature Animation, after 1986.[1]

For advertising purposes, The Walt Disney Company began to affix numbers to each of the films in the late 1980s.[citation needed] Through this method, they could proclaim the film to be “Disney’s X full-length animated film”. When the numbering system was introduced, the group of films included became collectively known as the “Disney Animation Canon.”[citation needed] Many film historians and animation fans refer to them as Disney “classics” or Disney “features”. The numbering system remains today, as recent press releases for such products as the 20th anniversary edition of Oliver & Company,[2] as well as the opening and closing logos and marketing materials for Tangled,[3] still refer to the film’s number.[4] Some foreign numbering systems of Disney Animated Classics exclude Dinosaur and include The Wild.[5] However, The Wild was not produced by Walt Disney Animation Studios.

# Film Date of original release Notes
1 Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs December 21, 1937 (premiere)
February 4, 1938
2 Pinocchio February 7, 1940 (premiere)
February 9, 1940
3 Fantasia November 13, 1940 (premiere/roadshow)
January 29, 1941 (RKO roadshow)
January 8, 1942
[note 1][note 2]
4 Dumbo October 23, 1941
5 Bambi August 13, 1942
6 Saludos Amigos August 24, 1942 (premiere)
February 6, 1943
[note 1][note 2]
7 The Three Caballeros December 21, 1944 (premiere)
February 3, 1945
[note 1][note 2]
8 Make Mine Music April 20, 1946 (premiere)
August 15, 1946
[note 1]
9 Fun and Fancy Free September 27, 1947 [note 1][note 2]
10 Melody Time May 27, 1948 [note 1][note 2]
11 The Adventures of Ichabod and Mr. Toad October 5, 1949 [note 1]
12 Cinderella February 15, 1950 (premiere)
March 4, 1950
13 Alice in Wonderland July 26, 1951
14 Peter Pan February 5, 1953
15 Lady and the Tramp June 16, 1955 (premiere)
June 22, 1955
[note 3]
16 Sleeping Beauty January 29, 1959 [note 4]
17 One Hundred and One Dalmatians January 25, 1961
18 The Sword in the Stone December 25, 1963
19 The Jungle Book October 18, 1967
20 The Aristocats December 24, 1970
21 Robin Hood November 8, 1973
22 The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh March 11, 1977 [note 1][note 2]
23 The Rescuers June 22, 1977
24 The Fox and the Hound July 10, 1981
25 The Black Cauldron July 24, 1985 [note 4]
26 The Great Mouse Detective July 2, 1986
27 Oliver & Company November 13, 1988 (premiere)
November 18, 1988
28 The Little Mermaid November 14, 1989 (premiere)
November 17, 1989
29 The Rescuers Down Under November 16, 1990
30 Beauty and the Beast November 13, 1991 [note 5][note 6]
31 Aladdin November 11, 1992
32 The Lion King June 15, 1994 [note 5][note 6]
33 Pocahontas June 16, 1995 (premiere)
June 23, 1995
34 The Hunchback of Notre Dame June 19, 1996 (premiere)
June 21, 1996
35 Hercules June 14, 1997 (premiere)
June 27, 1997
36 Mulan June 5, 1998 (premiere)
June 19, 1998
37 Tarzan June 12, 1999 (premiere)
June 18, 1999
38 Fantasia 2000 December 17, 1999 (premiere)
January 1, 2000
[note 1][note 2][note 5]
39 Dinosaur May 19, 2000 [note 2][note 7]
40 The Emperor’s New Groove December 10, 2000 (premiere)
December 15, 2000
41 Atlantis: The Lost Empire June 3, 2001 (premiere)
June 15, 2001
42 Lilo & Stitch June 16, 2002 (premiere)
June 21, 2002
43 Treasure Planet November 17, 2002 (premiere)
November 27, 2002
[note 5]
44 Brother Bear October 20, 2003 (premiere)
October 24, 2003
45 Home on the Range March 21, 2004 (premiere)
April 2, 2004
46 Chicken Little October 30, 2005 (premiere)
November 4, 2005
[note 6][note 7]
47 Meet the Robinsons March 30, 2007 [note 6][note 7]
48 Bolt November 21, 2008 [note 6][note 7]
49 The Princess and the Frog November 25, 2009 (premiere)
December 11, 2009
50 Tangled November 24, 2010 [note 6][note 7]
51 Winnie the Pooh July 15, 2011 [note 2]
52 Wreck-It Ralph November 2, 2012[6] [note 6][note 7][note 8]
53 Frozen November 27, 2013[7] [note 8]

It has been confirmed that Mickey Mouse and King of the Elves are also in the works.[8][9][10]


  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i These are “package films“, releases made up of two or more short films with bridging sequences. Though some consider the package films to be only the six consecutive package films of the 1940s (numbers 6–11 above), the definition used here also includes both Fantasia and Fantasia 2000. Inclusion of The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh is unique since it contains three previously released featurettes.
  2. ^ a b c d e f g h i These films contain live-action scenes and/or sequences.
  3. ^ Lady and the Tramp was photographed simultaneously in both the regular Academy format and in CinemaScope. Both versions were released at the same time.
  4. ^ a b These two films were shot in the 70 mm Super Technirama process. Reduced 35 mm CinemaScope-compatible prints were released at the same time as the 70 mm versions.
  5. ^ a b c d These films were released or re-released in IMAX format in addition to their regular theatrical releases.
  6. ^ a b c d e f g These films were also released or re-released in a Disney Digital 3-D limited cinema version.
  7. ^ a b c d e f These films are computer-animation films.
  8. ^ a b Film is not yet released. Release date subject to change.

Films primarily live-action but partially animated

All of the following are live-action films and documentaries films that contain animated scenes or sequences.

# Film Date of original release Notes
1 The Reluctant Dragon June 20, 1941 [note 1]
2 Victory Through Air Power July 17, 1943 [note 1][note 2]
3 Song of the South November 12, 1946
4 So Dear to My Heart November 29, 1948
5 Mary Poppins August 27, 1964
6 Bedknobs and Broomsticks November 11, 1971
7 Pete’s Dragon November 3, 1977
8 Who Framed Roger Rabbit June 21, 1988 (premiere)
June 22, 1988
[note 3]
9 Enchanted November 21, 2007


  1. ^ a b Documentary film
  2. ^ Majority of the film animated, but not for purpose of entertainment
  3. ^ Released through Disney’s Touchstone Pictures label

Other live-action films containing Disney animation

The following are live-action films produced by other studios, that contain animation scenes or sequences produced by Walt Disney.

# Film Date of original release Produced by Notes
1 Around the World with Douglas Fairbanks June 20, 1931 United Artists [note 1]
2 Hollywood Party June 1, 1934[11] Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer [note 2]
3 Servants’ Entrance September 26, 1934 20th Century Fox [note 3]
4 Cri Cri el grillito cantor December 12, 1963 (Mexico) Producciones Carlos Amador [note 4][note 5]


  1. ^ Contains a sequence starring Mickey Mouse dancing, also stars Douglas Fairbanks
  2. ^ Contains an animated sequence introduced by Mickey Mouse entitled “The Hot-Chocolate Soldiers”
  3. ^ Contains a nightmare sequence produced by Walt Disney
  4. ^ Contains a sequence starring the Three Little Pigs and the Big Bad Wolf
  5. ^ Not released theatrically in the United States

DisneyToon Studios

Main article: DisneyToon Studios

This is the complete list of DisneyToon Studios films which have had a theatrical release.

# Film Date of original release Notes
1 DuckTales the Movie: Treasure of the Lost Lamp August 3, 1990 [note 1]
2 A Goofy Movie April 7, 1995 [note 1]
3 Doug’s 1st Movie March 26, 1999 [note 1][note 2]
4 The Tigger Movie February 11, 2000
5 Recess: School’s Out February 16, 2001 [note 1]
6 Return to Never Land February 15, 2002
7 The Jungle Book 2 February 14, 2003
8 Piglet’s Big Movie March 21, 2003
9 Teacher’s Pet January 16, 2004 [note 1]
10 Pooh’s Heffalump Movie February 11, 2005
11 Bambi II January 26, 2006 (Argentina) [note 3]
12 Tinker Bell September 19, 2008 (Mexico) [note 3]
13 Tinker Bell and the Lost Treasure September 3, 2009 (Argentina) [note 3]
14 Tinker Bell and the Great Fairy Rescue August 13, 2010 (UK) [note 3]


  1. ^ a b c d e Produced under the banner Walt Disney Television Animation until 2003
  2. ^ Produced with Jumbo Pictures
  3. ^ a b c d Not released theatrically in the United States

Pixar Animation Studios

Main article: List of Pixar films

Disney now owns Pixar Animation Studios. Pixar has released or will release the following films:

# Film Date of original release Notes
1 Toy Story November 22, 1995 [note 1]
2 A Bug’s Life November 25, 1998
3 Toy Story 2 November 24, 1999 [note 1]
4 Monsters, Inc. November 2, 2001
5 Finding Nemo May 30, 2003
6 The Incredibles November 5, 2004
7 Cars June 9, 2006
8 Ratatouille June 29, 2007
9 WALL-E June 27, 2008 [note 2]
10 Up May 29, 2009 [note 1]
11 Toy Story 3 June 18, 2010 [note 1][note 3]
12 Cars 2 June 24, 2011 [note 1][note 3]
13 Brave June 22, 2012[12] [note 1][note 4]
14 Monsters University June 21, 2013[13] [note 1][note 4]
15 The Untitled Pixar Movie That Takes You Inside a Young Girl’s Mind (TBA) [14] May 30, 2014 [note 4]
16 The Untitled Pixar Movie About Dinosaurs (TBA) [15][16] TBA [note 4]


  1. ^ a b c d e f g Released or re-released in Disney Digital 3-D
  2. ^ Features live-action sequences
  3. ^ a b Released in IMAX 3-D
  4. ^ a b c d Not yet released, tentative release dates

Stop-motion films

The stop-motion makers Henry Selick and Tim Burton have worked on the following stop-motion films made by Disney.

# Film Date of original release Notes
1 The Nightmare Before Christmas October 9, 1993 (premiere)
October 13, 1993
[note 1][note 2][note 3]
2 James and the Giant Peach April 12, 1996 [note 2][note 4]
3 Frankenweenie October 5, 2012[17]
4 Untitled Henry Selick film October 4, 2013[18]


  1. ^ Originally released by Disney through their Touchstone Pictures label
  2. ^ a b Includes animation by Skellington Productions
  3. ^ Released or re-released in a Disney Digital 3-D limited cinema version
  4. ^ Contains live-action shots

ImageMovers Digital

Main article: ImageMovers

The following films were produced by ImageMovers Digital, a film studio run by Robert ZemeckisImageMovers and Disney. Both of the films below are computer animated, and were also released in Disney Digital 3-D versions. Following the poor box office performance of Mars Needs Moms, Disney closed ImageMovers Digital.

# Film Date of original release Notes
1 A Christmas Carol November 6, 2009
2 Mars Needs Moms March 11, 2011

Other animated films distributed by Disney

Unlike the films above that were made by Disney, the films below were only distributed by Disney.

Studio Ghibli

Main article: Studio Ghibli

In 1996, Disney signed a deal with Tokuma Shoten for distribution rights to the theatrical works of Studio Ghibli world-wide (excluding Asia except for Japan and Taiwan and excluding Grave of the Fireflies which was not published by Tokuma), including what then was the most recent film, Princess Mononoke. The deal later grew to include DVD rights and newer Ghibli movies – the English language release of Spirited Away won the 2001, 2002 Academy Award for Best Animated Feature. Studio Ghibli remains wholly independent of Disney and maintains strict creative control over the handling of the foreign language localization Disney produces.[19] All of the theatrical Ghibli back catalog originally included in the deal have since been released to DVD in North America (except Only Yesterday) and several other countries. The following films were given theatrical releases outside Japan by Disney and subsidiaries:

# Film Date of original release Date of Disney re-release Notes
1 Kiki’s Delivery Service July 29, 1989 May 23, 1998 [note 1]
2 Princess Mononoke July 12, 1997 October 29, 1999 [note 2]
3 Spirited Away July 27, 2001 September 20, 2002
4 The Cat Returns July 19, 2002 May 2, 2003 [note 1]
5 Howl’s Moving Castle November 20, 2004 June 10, 2005
6 Ponyo July 19, 2008 August 14, 2009
7 Tales from Earthsea July 29, 2006 August 13, 2010
8 The Secret World of Arrietty July 17, 2010 February 17, 2012 [note 3]
9 From up on Poppy Hill July 16, 2011 TBA [note 4]


  1. ^ a b Limited premiere and limited distribution
  2. ^ Released by Disney through Miramax Films
  3. ^ Not yet released, tentative release dates
  4. ^ Not yet released, tentative release dates

Animated features produced by outside/third-party studios

This film-related list is incomplete; you can help by expanding it.
# Film Date of original release Produced by Notes
1 The Brave Little Toaster July 10, 1987 Hyperion Pictures
The Kushner-Locke Company
[note 1]
2 The Thief and the Cobbler (Arabian Knight) August 25, 1995 Richard Williams Productions [note 1][note 2][note 3]
3 The Brave Little Toaster Goes to Mars May 18, 1998 Hyperion Pictures
The Kushner-Locke Company
[note 1]
4 Manuelita February 14, 1999 García Ferré Entertainment
Megatrix S.A.U.
[note 1][note 4]
5 The Brave Little Toaster to the Rescue May 19, 1999 Hyperion Pictures
The Kushner-Locke Company
[note 1]
6 Pokémon 4Ever October 11, 2002 The Pokémon Company
4Kids Entertainment
[note 1][note 2][note 5]
7 Pokémon Heroes May 16, 2003 The Pokémon Company
4Kids Entertainment
[note 1][note 2][note 5]
8 Valiant August 19, 2005 Vanguard Animation [note 1][note 6]
9 The Wild April 14, 2006 C.O.R.E. Feature Animation [note 6][note 7]
10 Uma Aventura no Tempo February 16, 2007 Miravista
The Walt Disney Company Latin-America Pvt. Ltd.
[note 6][note 7]
11 Roadside Romeo October 24, 2008 Yash Raj Films
The Walt Disney Company India Pvt. Ltd.
[note 6][note 7]
12 Gnomeo & Juliet February 11, 2011 Rocket Pictures
Starz Animation
[note 1][note 6][note 8]


  1. ^ abcdefghi Released by Disney in North America
  2. ^ abc Released by Disney through their Miramax Films company
  3. ^ Released by Disney in Japan
  4. ^ Released by Disney in Argentina
  5. ^ ab Released by Disney in Australia and United Kingdom
  6. ^ abcde Computer animated
  7. ^ abc Released by Disney worldwide
  8. ^ Released through Disney’s Touchstone Pictures label

– From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia –

2D animation, Cartoon - animation films, STUDIO

Headless Productions_WICKED DESIGN

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Headless Productions is an independent animation studio based in Barcelona.
We are Adrian Garcia, Alfredo Torres, Victor Maldonado and Julien Bizat.



It was about time to show something freshly baked, we know. Don´t blame on us, it´s busy times and we can´t develop original material as much as we´d like. We´ll keep trying though, we promise.




Publicado por HEADLESS PRODUCTIONS en 9:32 AM

2D animation, art, Cartoon - animation films

PREVIEW: 2012 Animated Features

by brewmasters

January 2, 2012 12:05 am

Let’s ring in the new year with a look ahead at the animated features of 2012. The animated feature glass was half-full last year. Whereas in 2010, five of the top ten highest-grossing features in the US were animated, last year only one animated film ranked in the US top 10—Cars 2. Around the world, however, animation fared better in 2011, earning 3 of the top 10 spots at the global box office (and if you count The Smurfs, four of the top ten).

Our 2011 list focuses primarily on films set for release in the United States, but we’ve also rounded it out with a few foreign films. Of course, we’ll be covering dozens of other foreign and indie feature productions throughout the year, but even with the films below, 2012 is already looking like a decent year. If you know of other must-see animated films this year, please let us know in the comments.


The Secret World of Arriety
The Clock family are four-inch-tall people who live anonymously in another family’s residence, borrowing simple items to make their home. Life changes for the Clocks when their daughter, Arrietty, is discovered.

Release Date: 2/17
Director: Hiromasa Yonebayashi
Production Company: Studio Ghibli
Distributor: Walt Disney
Technique: hand-drawn
Voice Cast: Bridgit Mendler, Amy Poehler and Will Arnett
Film Website

Plenty more films after the jump

Dr. Seuss’ The Lorax
A 12-year-old boy searches for the one thing that will enable him to win the affection of the girl of his dreams. To find it he must discover the story of the Lorax, the grumpy yet charming creature who fights to protect his world.

Release Date: 3/2
Directors: Chris Renaud, Kyle Balda
Production Company: Illumination
Distributor: Universal
Technique: CG
Voice Cast: Zac Efron, Taylor Swift, Danny DeVito
Film Website

The Pirates! Band of Misfits
Pirate Captain sets out on a mission to defeat his rivals Black Bellamy and Cutlass Liz for the Pirate of the year Award. The quest takes Captain and his crew from the shores of Blood Island to the foggy streets of Victorian London.

Release Date: 3/30
Directors: Peter Lord, Jeff Newitt
Production Company: Aardman Animation
Label: Sony Animation
Distributor: Columbia
Technique: clay stop-mo
Voice Cast: Hugh Grant, Salma Hayek, Jeremy Piven
Film Website

Le Magasin des Suicides (The Suicide Shop)
Based on a bestselling book by Jean Teulé, it’s a black comedy about a family that runs a suicide supply shop in a dreary town. The family’s business is threatened when a new baby arrives who makes everyone around him happy.

Release Date: 5/16 (France/Belgium), 6/14 (Netherlands)
Directors: Patrice LeConte
Production Company: Diabolo Films (France), La Petite Reine, Entre Chien et Loup (Belgique) and Caramel Films (Canada)
Distributor: ARP Sélection
Technique: hand-drawn, cut-out

Madagascar 3: Europe’s Most Wanted
Alex the Lion, Marty the Zebra, Melman the Giraffe and Gloria the Hippo join a traveling circus in an effort to get back home to New York.

Release Date: 6/8
Director: Eric Darnell
Production Company: Dreamworks
Distributor: Paramount
Technique: CG
Voice Cast: Ben Stiller, David Schwimmer, Chris Rock, Sascha Baron Cohen
Film Website

Determined to make her own path in life, Princess Merida defies a custom that brings chaos to her kingdom. Granted one wish, Merida must rely on her bravery and her archery skills to undo a beastly curse.

Release Date: 6/22
Directors: Mark Andrews, Brenda Chapman
Production Company: Pixar
Studio: Pixar
Distributor: Disney
Technique: CG
Voice Cast: Kelly Macdonald, Billy Connolly, Emma Thompson
Film Website

Ice Age: Continental Drift
Manny, Diego, and Sid embark upon another adventure after their continent is set adrift. Using an iceberg as a ship, they encounter sea creatures and battle pirates as they explore a new world.

Release Date: 7/13
Directors: Steve Martino, Mike Thurmeier
Production Company:
Studio: Blue Sky
Distributor: 20th Century-Fox
Technique: CG
Voice Cast: Ray Romano, Denis Leary, John Leguizamo
Film Website

The Wolf Children Ame and Yuki

Okami kodomo no ame to yuki (The Wolf Children Ame and Yuki)
From the director of The Girl Who Leapt Through Time and Summer Wars, the story of a college student named Hana who marries a “wolf man” and gives birth to two wolf children. When the wolf man dies, Hana and the children move from the city to a quiet rural town.

Release Date: July (Japan)
Directors: Mamoru Hosoda
Production Company: Studio Chizu, Madhouse
Distributor: TOHO
Technique: Hand-drawn
Film Website

A misunderstood boy who can speak with the dead, takes on ghosts, zombies and grown-ups to save his town from a centuries-old curse.

Release Date: 8/17
Directors: Chris Butler, Sam Fell
Production Company: Laika
Distributor: Focus Features
Technique: Stop-Motion
Voice Cast: Kodi Smit-McPhee, Anna Kendrick, Christopher Mintz-Plasse
Film Website

Hotel Transylvania
Dracula, who operates a high-end resort away from the human world, goes into overprotective mode when a boy discovers the resort and falls for the count’s teen-aged daughter.

Release Date: 9/21
Director: Genndy Tartakovsky
Production Company: Sony Animation
Distributor: Columbia
Technique: CG
Voice Cast: Adam Sandler, Kevin James, Andy Samberg
Film Website

Young Victor conducts a science experiment to bring his beloved dog Sparky back to life, only to face unintended, sometimes monstrous, consequences.

Release Date: 10/5
Director: Tim Burton
Production Company: Walt Disney
Distributor: Disney
Technique: stop-motion
Voice Cast: Winona Ryder, Catherine O’Hara, Martin Short
Film Website

Wreck-It Ralph
The bad-guy character in a classic game who longs to be a hero brings trouble to his entire arcade after sneaking into a new first-person shooter game and unleashing a deadly enemy.

Release Date: 11/2
Director: Rich Moore
Production Company: Walt Disney Feature Animation
Distributor: Disney
Technique: CG
Voice Cast: John C. Reilly, Jack McBrayer, Jane Lynch

Rise of the Guardians
Santa Claus, the Easter Bunny, the Tooth Fairy, Jack Frost and the Sandman band together to form a united front against the Bogeyman.

Release Date: 11/21
Director: Peter Ramsey, William Joyce
Production Company: Dreamworks
Distributor: Paramount
Technique: CG
Voice Cast: Hugh Jackman, Alec Baldwin, Isla Fisher
Film Website

These six films have no release date set yet, but will be ready for release in 2012

Dorothy of Oz
Back in Kansas, Dorothy Gale decides to return to Oz in order to help her friends.

Director: Will Finn, Dan St. Pierre
Production Company: Summertime Entertainment
Technique: CG
Voice Cast: Lea Michele, Patrick Stewart, Hugh Dancy
Film Website

Escape from Planet Earth
Astronaut Scorch Supernova finds himself caught in a trap when he responds to an SOS from a notoriously dangerous alien planet.

Director: Callan Brunker
Production Company: Blue Yonder Films
Distributor: Weinstein Company
Technique: CG
Voice Cast: Jessica Alba, Sarah Jessica Parker, Brendan Fraser
Film Website

Norm of the North
Displaced from their Arctic home, a polar bear named Norm and his three lemming friends wind up in New York City, where Norm becomes the mascot of a corporation he soon learns is tied to the fate of his homeland.

Director: Anthony Bell
Production Company: RichCrest Animation
Distributor: Lionsgate
Technique: CG
Voice Cast: Ken Jeong, Rob Schneider, Zachary Gordon
Film Press Release

Cheech & Chong’s Animated Movie
Cheech & Chong’s Animated Movie is a film based on Cheech and Chong’s classic Grammy award winning albums.

Director: Branden Chambers, Eric D. Chambers
Technique: Flash
Voice Cast: Cheech Marin, Tommy Chong
Official Facebook Page


“The tale of a frog with an identity crisis..”

Director: Chuck Powers
Technique: CGI
Voice Cast: Sean Astin, Tim Curry
Production company: KRU Studios (Malaysia)
Official Facebook page

A Liar's Autobiography

A Liar’s Autobiography
Based on the memoirs of deceased Monty Python member Graham Chapman. Fifteen different UK animation companies will be contributing animated segments to the film. The film will receive a theatrical release in the UK in Spring 2012, and shown on the EPIX HD channel in the US.

Director: Bill Jones, Ben Timlett, Jeff Simpson
Production Company: Bill and Ben Productions
Voice Cast: Graham Chapman, John Cleese, Terry Gilliam
Film Website


2D animation, art, Cartoon - animation films, OSCAR

OSCAR Watch 2011

2011 Award Season Spotlight

Welcome to Animag’s special award season section, where you can read about all the highs and lows of the animated movies and shorts that are in the running for this year’s Oscars, Annies, Golden Globes, PGA, AFI and Visual Effects Society Awards. Here’s to all the talented men and women who are responsible for the dazzling list of 2011’s contenders. In our eyes, they are all winners, whether they take home the big trophies on those special nights or not!

Animated Features

With the potential to nab five nomination spots instead of just three this year, the toon industry is sure to see a wider variety of films vying for the Best Animated Feature award come Oscar time—but which of the 2011 releases will be leading the pack, and which will be left in the dust? Here are our recaps (and pre-caps!) of the possible contenders and their chances of trotting into the winner’s circle:

The Adventures of Tintin: Secret of the Unicorn

Studio: Paramount
Director: Steven Spielberg
Release Date: December 23
Pros: Spielberg. Jackson. Hergé. What more can you want out of a budget-busting, performance-capture CG 3-D spectacular (which, fingers crossed, will launch a trilogy)? Critics were mighty impressed with what they saw at a European press screening this month, praising the film’s scope, action and realistic-yet-stylized animation. One French writer even said the movie might be Spielberg’s masterpiece!
Cons: Any time a beloved character is dropped into a new medium, there will be grumbling. We heard it with the Smurfs. We heard it with Alvin and the Chipmunks. Don’t even get us started on what we heard about Garfield, OK? Some will be turned off no matter what! Others are still debating over the fact that performance capture technology should not really be judged in the same category as totally animated movies.

Alois Nebel

Studio: Negativ in assoc. with Czech TV, Tobogang, Pallas Film
Director: Tomás Lunák
Release Date: TBA
Pros: Widely hailed as one of the most striking films of the year, this dramatic rotoscoped effort is based on the comic trilogy by Jaroslav Rudiš and Jaromír 99 about a Czech train dispatcher living in a small village in the 1980s who begins to suffer hallucinations linked to the post WWII expulsion of Germans from the country. Czech Rep. has even tossed this hat into the Best Foreign Language Film ring—if nominated, it will be the first toon in that category since 2008’s Waltz with Bashir.
Cons: While the artistry and atmosphere of Alois are not lacking in praise, critics have pointed out that the film may be too particularly Czech—too specific to the country’s history and a central European world view. Academy members might be hard pressed to truly identify with this dramatic work.

Alvin and the Chipmunks: Chipwrecked

Studio: Fox
Director: Mike Mitchell
Release Date: December 16
Pros: The new CG/live-action hybrid adventure finds the Chipmunks (and the Chipettes) stranded on a not-so-deserted isle after a cruise ship mishap. Mitchell, the director of Shrek Forever After, gets to exercise his comedy muscles with Jason Lee as Dave Seville and Arrested Development‘s David Cross in this third installment
Cons: The Chipmunks films have done quite well for themselves at the box office, so rest assured that some of your friends (especially the ones with tots in tow) will be psyched for this holiday release—but so far critics haven’t been too kind to the little rodents. And there is the eternal question of whether hybrid flicks should qualify as animated features.

Arthur Christmas

Studios: Aardman/Sony
Directors: Sarah Smith; co-director Barry Cook
Release Date: November 23
Pros: We don’t know any toon fans who don’t squeal with glee at the announcement of a new Aardman project, and those in the know are curious how to see how their first effort under their new agreement with Sony turns out. The 3-D CG, sci-fi holiday story stars James McAvoy, Hugh Laurie, Jim Broadbent, Bill Nighy, Imelda Staunton and Ashley Jensen.
Cons: Please forgive us, O Grand Creators of Wallace & Gromit, but it’s gotta be said: A Christmas flick (or any holiday film) may be a tough sell for the older Academy voters, and truth be told, die-hard Aardman fans seem to be more excited about next spring’s real stop-motion movie, The Pirates! Band of Misits. If memory serves, Aardman’s last CG-animated movie Flushed Away didn’t take the big Oscar home either.

Cars 2

Studio: Disney-Pixar
Director: John Lasseter; co-director Brad Lewis
Release Date: June 24
Box Office to Date: $551 million [$190 million]
Pros: Disney-Pixar has had an unadulterated four-year run of claiming the Best Feature prize, and the second Cars outing hit the right notes at the box office thanks to the popularity of the characters, globe-trotting (driving?) storyline and impeccable as ever animation.
Cons: Critics were somewhat disappointed by the sequel, noting that the heartfelt emotion and animated artistry that’s come to be expected of Pixar flicks was overwhelmed by the go-go action. While it had plenty of enthusiastic fans, it seems doubtful that this will be the Disney-Pixar offering to cross the finish line this year.

A Cat in Paris

Studios: Folimage/France 3/Rhône-Alpes/GKIDS
Directors: Alain Gagnol, Jean-Loup Felicioli
Release Date: TBA
Box Office to Date: $1.2 million [France]
Pros: This graphically distinct 2D tale of a Parisian cat whose double lives puts his owner in peril when the girl decides to follow him on his night-time adventures has won over critics and festival audiences the world over. Long-time collaborators Gagnol and Felicioli have been honored with nominations at the European Film and César Awards—the Oscar nod can’t be much of a stretch!
Cons: With a release date yet to be set, Cat might get caught up in the clutter of late-season entrants vying for qualifying runs for a shot at Oscar glory. For an indie film from a foreign producer, the frantic pace might keep Academy members from savoring this offering enough to remember it come ballot time. At the least, it will have to out-do Spanish production Chico & Rita for the token foreign nomination slot.

Chico & Rita

Studios: Magic Light Pictures/Luma Films/GKIDS
Directors: Fernando Trueba, Javier Mariscal
Release Date: TBA
Pros: This expertly crafted digital 2D film won over critics with its emotional story line, artisanal attention to detail in the locales and eras it spans and impeccable music laced with the rhythms of Cuba and free-wheeling jazz notes. It even took home the Goya Award for Best Animated Film this year.
Cons: While the cream of the foreign-produced indie crop is usually honored with a nomination come Oscar season, we have yet to see one take home the statuette. Chico may sadly join the ranks of The Illusionist, Persepolis, The Secret of Kells and other beautiful films that went home empty-handed.

Gnomeo & Juliet

Director: Kelly Asbury
Release Date: February 11
Box Office to Date: $190 million [$100 million domestic]
Pros: Disney’s “sleeper hit” of the year shows its toon pedigree, with Starz animation deftly sculpting the film under Asbury (Shrek 2). The film ranked well its opening weekend, and you can’t beat a soundtrack featuring an Elton John (who served as producer) and Lady Gaga duet.
Cons: While a fun romp and good family fare, critics found the film a bit too reliant on its gimmick. However, many found the central romance quite charming in a “You can tell everybody this is your song” kind of a way.

Happy Feet Two

Studios: Dr. D/Warner Bros.
Director: George Miller
Release Date: November 18
Pros: Who doesn’t love penguins? Especially plucky, adorable little ones that find a way to solve their problems through the magic of dance? Miller (who directed Oscar-winning Happy Feet as well) has a great cast lined up for this 3-D adventure—returning stars Elijah Wood and Robin Williams, plus Carlos Alazraqui, Jeffrey Garcia, Hugo Weaving, Sofia Vergara, Pink, even Brad Pitt and Matt Damon as (doubtlessly dreamy) krill.
Cons: Lightning rarely strikes twice at the Best Animated Feature racetrack. Perhaps the penguin crew will give Rio‘s parrots something to squawk about—or this encore performance might leave audiences disenchanted like most of the year’s sequel offerings. We’ll have to wait for the Holiday Season box office buzz to know!

Hoodwinked Too!: Hood Vs. Evil

Studio: Weinstein Co.
Director: Mike Disa
Release Date: April 29
Box Office to Date: $16.9 million [$10.1 million]
Pros: The sequel to 2005’s CG fairy tale spoof upped the animation ante with a broader world and more awesome action (in 3-D!) that paid tribute to top blockbusters from the live-action world. Hayden Panettiere lead a top notch cast—Glenn Close, Patrick Warburton, Joan Cusack, Martin Short, Brad Garrett, Cheech & Chong…the list goes on.
Cons: Despite pushing the action/animation envelope, most critics felt the sequel sacrificed the charm of the original outing. In the crowded nominations race, Red and her crew will probably sit this one out on the indie toon bench.

Kung Fu Panda 2

Studio: DreamWorks/Paramount
Director: Jennifer Yuh Nelson
Release Date: May 26
Box Office to Date: $663 million [$165 million]
Pros: Technology advances (and stereo 3-D) helped expand the magical ancient Chinese world of Po the panda and his Furious Five cohorts, and the film’s sweeping animated scale won nods of approval as did the star-powered voice cast (lead by Jack Black) and slightly dark tones attributed to exec producer Guillermo del Toro’s influence. Oh, and it’s the 49th highest grossing film of all time and top grossing woman-directed film!
Cons: While Po and his kung fu crew have a loyal fan base, the Academy is notoriously averse to giving the top honor to a sequel, tending to favor break-out original stories. Panda might have to wait for fond farewell Award a la Toy Story 3.

Mars Needs Moms

Studios: ImageMovers/Disney
Director: Simon Wells
Release Date: March 11
Box Office to Date: $38.9 million [$21.4 million]
Pros: Wells (The Time Machine, The Prince of Egypt) had a well honed cast to work with—Seth Green, Joan Cusack, Dee Bradley Baker, etc.—and used them well along with the digital might of producer Robert Zemeckis’ ImageMovers studio to bring Berkeley Breathed’s popular book to life. Not to mention a $150 million budget.
Cons: While many praised the cast performances, the film’s critical reception was largely, well, critical. Most felt the story had been neglected in favor of the 3-D performance-capture spectacle—which tipped too closely to the “uncanny valley” for some tastes. The disappointing BO performance sounded the death knell for ImageMovers, so don’t hold your breath for Polar Express 2 either.

Puss in Boots

Studios: DreamWorks/Paramount
Director: Chris Miller
Release Date: October 28
Pros: Antonio Banderas returns as the swashbuckling feline who, quite frankly, stole the show in Shrek 2. Giving the character his own vehicle to explore his roguish back story with a fresh look (in 3-D), new friends and foes and some sizzling Latin flair may be enough to perk up the Academy’s whiskers.
Cons: The franchise has been well represented at the Oscars, with Shrek winning in 2001 and its sequel nominated in 2004. Puss will have to really stand out from its mother-films for the Academy to grant one of its coveted nomination spots—especially with yet more Shrek films in the works.


Studios: ILM/Paramount
Director: Gore Verbinski
Release Date: March 4
Box Office to Date: $243 million [$123 million]
Pros: ILM’s first feature animation outing rightly wowed critics and audiences with its rich (if gritty) look, A-list cast and sly nods to classic Westerns. Johnny Depp proved his chops playing the titular lizard and earned a Teen Choice Award for his efforts—and teenagers know everything.
Cons: Some audiences (and critics) didn’t know what to make of a cartoon animal film in which few characters are fluffy and almost none are adorable. While a strong premiere effort, Verbinski’s cowboy homage might be swept aside in favor of franchise flicks.


Studios: Blue Sky/Fox
Director: Carlos Saldanha
Release Date: April 15
Box Office to Date: $484 million [$144 million]
Pros: The bright colors, festive sounds and sights of Carnival dazzled audiences and critics, who praised the animation and catchy music influenced by the film’s South American setting. The Blue Sky crew is old hat at creating visually enchanting family adventures, and this latest effort places another feather firmly in that cap.
Cons: As so often befalls those contenders not produced by Pixar, it seems the loudest complaint about the Fox flick is that it … isn’t from Pixar. Like a fussy child tasting an exotic dish, will the Academy spit this one out and demand a familiar flavor?

The Smurfs

Studio: Sony
Director: Raja Gosnell
Release Date: July 29
Box Office to Date: $533 million [$139 million]
Pros: Comedy vets Neil Patrick Harris and Hank Azaria lead a celeb-packed cast which includes Jonathan Winters, Fred Armisen, Alan Cumming, George Lopez, Jeff Foxworthy, Kenan Thompson, Paul Reubens—and even pop star Katy Perry and Wolfgang Puck lend their voices to spunky Smurfs. The magic-meets-Manhattan story offered something for everyone, and won big at the box office.
Cons: Is it really an animated film? Did we love the film, or just seeing those cute little blue dudes on the big screen? Can a film starring Katy Perry ever truly deserve an Oscar? The debate rages on. While the bouncing baby crowd came out in droves to see it, a film that garners reviews like “not torturous” and “surprisingly tolerable” isn’t exactly a strong bet.

Winnie the Pooh

Studio: Disney
Directors: Stephen J. Anderson, Don Hall
Release Date: July 15
Box Office to Date: $33.2 million [$26.7 million]
Pros: Viewers raved about the gentle, nostalgic charm of this film, and applauded Disney’s return to hand-drawn animation lovingly crafted by Disney vet Burny Mattinson, who lead a team of top artists as key animator. The sweet family fare was well received and made for a very refreshing summer treat.

While Pooh was a calm stroll down memory lane for so many, the soft story that so perfectly matched the soft animators’ touch might lack the necessary “edge” that separates a good film from an Oscar-worthy film—but a nomination nod would still be fitting.

Wrinkles (Arrugas)

Studio: Perro Verde Films
Director: Ignacio Ferreras
Release Date: TBA
Pros: Another brilliant animated take on a gripping graphic novel! This one is based on the tale by Paco Roca about the friendship between two elderly men living in a retirement home, one of whom is suffering the early stages of Alzheimer’s disease. Perro Verde has delivered a moving, poignant exploration of a very difficult topic and the film has been well received by festival audiences around the world.
Cons: Wrinkles faces stiff competition from another Spanish production, Chico & Rita, to nab a coveted nomination spot. One can never say how far the Academy will go in wanting to acknowledge more serious animated stories. It could be the difficult subject matter pushes this film to the finish line, or Oscar might prefer to go home with a pair of doomed jazz-loving lovers.

Animated Shorts

December 1, 2011 by Ramin Zahed

The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences today announced that 10 animated short films will advance in the voting process for the 84th Academy Awards. Forty-four projects had originally qualified in the category.

The 10 films are listed below in alphabetical order by title, with their production company:

Dimanche/Sunday Dimanche/SundayPatrick Doyon, director (National Film Board of Canada)
The Fantastic Flying Books of Mr. Morris Lessmore The Fantastic Flying Books of Mr. Morris LessmoreWilliam Joyce and Brandon Oldenburg, directors (Moonbot Studios LA, LLC)
I Tawt I Taw a Puddy Tat I Tawt I Taw a Puddy TatMatthew O’Callaghan, director and Sam Register, executive producer (Warner Bros. Animation Inc.)
La Luna La LunaEnrico Casarosa, director (Pixar Animation Studios)
Luminaris LuminarisJuan Pablo Zaramella, director (JPZtudio)
Magic Piano Magic PianoMartin Clapp, director and Hugh Welchman, producer (BreakThru Films)
A Morning Stroll A Morning StrollGrant Orchard, director and Sue Goffe, producer (Studio AKA)
Paths of Hate Paths of HateDamian Nenow, director (Platige Image
Specky Four-Eyes Specky Four-EyesJean-Claude Rozec, director and Mathieu Courtois, producer (Vivement Lundi!)
Wild Life Wild LifeAmanda Forbis and Wendy Tilby, directors (National Film Board of Canada)

The Short Films and Feature Animation Branch Reviewing Committee viewed all the eligible entries for the preliminary round of voting in screenings held in New York and Los Angeles. Short Films and Feature Animation Branch members will now select three to five nominees from among the 10 titles on the shortlist. Branch screenings will be held in Los Angeles, New York and San Francisco in January 2012.

The 84th Academy Awards nominations will be announced live on Tuesday, January 24, 2012, at 5:30 a.m. in the Academy’s Samuel Goldwyn Theater. The Awards will take place on Sunday, Feb. 26, 2012 at the Kodak Theatre at Hollywood & Highland Center, and televised live by the ABC Television Network.

November 15, 2011 by Ramin Zahed

Last weekend, the Academy screened the 45 projects that were submitted for Best Animated Shorts consideration. Members of the Shorts and Animation branch of the Academy will vote for the 10 titles to be included on the short list and we will finally learn about the final five nominees with the rest of the contenders on Jan. 24.

Here is the list of the submitted shorts, which is a healthy mix of shorts produced by studios such as Disney, Pixar, Sony Pictures Animation and Warner Bros., international entries from Studio AKA, Platige Image, BreakThru Films, Human Ark, Axis Animation, National Film Board of Canada and submissions from indie animators such as David Levy, David Chai and Koji Yamamura:

  • A Morning Stroll by Grant Orchard (Studio AKA)
  • A Shadow of Blue by Carlos Lascano
  • Birdboy by Alberto Vasquez (Abrikim Studio)
  • Chopin’s Drawings by Dorota Kobiela (BreakThru Films) Poland
  • Correspondence by Zach Hyer (Pratt)
  • Daisy Cutter by Enrique Garcia and Rubin Salazar (Silverspace)
  • Dimanche / Sunday by Patrick Doyon (NFB)
  • El Salon Mexico by Paul Glickman and Tamarind King
  • Enrique Wrecks the World by David Chai
  • Ente Tod Und Tulipe (Duck Death and the Tulip) by Matthias Bruhn (Richard Lutterbeck – Trickstudio)
  • Fat Hamster by Adam Wyrwas (BreakThru Films) Poland
  • Grandpa Looked Like William Powell by David Levy
  • Hamster Heaven by Paul Bolger (BreakThru Films) Poland
  • I Tawt I Taw a Puddy Tat by Matt O’Callaghan (Warner Bros.)
  • I Was the Child of Holocaust Survivors by Anne Marie Fleming (NFB)
  • Ingrid Pitt: Beyond the Forest by Kevin Sean Michaels USA
  • Kahanikar by Nandita Jain (National Film and Television School) England
  • La Luna by Enrico Casarosa (Pixar)
  • Little Postman by Dorota Kobiela (BreakThru Films) Poland
  • Luminaris by Juan Pablo Zaramella (JPZaramella Studios)
  • Luna by Donna Brockopp (Rainmaker) Canada
  • Maska by Timothy and Stephen Quay (Sem-ma-for) Poland
  • Muybridge’s Strings by Koji Yamamura
  • My Hometown by Jerry Levitan, Written and Narrated by Yoko Ono (Eggplant)
  • Night Island by Salvador Maldonado (BreakThru Films) Poland
  • Nullarbor by Alister Lockhart
  • Papa’s Boy by Leevi Lemmetty (BreakThru Films) Poland
  • Paths of Hate by Damien Nenow (Platige Image) Poland
  • Romance by George Schwizgebel (NFB & Studio GDS)
  • Specky Four-Eyes by Jean Claude Rozec (Vivement Lundi)
  • Spirits of the Piano by Magdalena Osinska (BreakThru Films) Poland
  • Thank You by Pendleton Ward and Thomas Herpich (Produced by Cartoon Network Studios in partnership with Frederator)
  • The Ballad of Nessie by Stevie Wermers (Walt Disney Studios)
  • The External World by David O’ Reilly
  • The Fantastic Flying Books of Mr. Morris Lessmore by William Joyce and Brandon Oldenburg (Moonbot Studios)
  • The Gloaming by Nobrain (Autour De Minuit) France
  • The Lost Town of Switez by Kamil Polak (Human Ark) Poland
  • The Magic Piano by Martin Clapp (BreakThru Films) Poland
  • The Monster of Nix by Rosto
  • The Renter by Jason Carpenter (CalArts)
  • The Smurf’s A Christmas Carol by Troy Quane (Sony Pictures Animation)
  • The Tannery by Iain Gardner (Axis Animation)
  • The Vermeers by Tal S. Shamir
  • Vincenta by Samuel Orti Marti
  • Wild Life by Amanda Forbis & Wendy Tilby (NFB)

Although the 45 shorts which have been qualified for this year’s Academy Awards have been announced already, this is a list we compiled from all the projects that have won awards at festivals around the world this year.

Big Bang Big Boom

Director: Blu [Italy]
Synopsis: Argentine artist Blu’s trademark stop-motion graffiti technique depicts an “unscientific” perspective on the beginning, evolution and probable end of life.
Qualifying Win: Special Jury Award (Annecy Festival Int’l du Cinéma d’Animation)


Director: Kirsten Lepore (U.S.)
Synopsis: Shot on location, Lepore’s latest stop-motion effort tells the bittersweet story of two characters—a lump of sand and a pile of snow—who form a transoceanic friendship trading objects in a bottle.
Qualifying Wins: Best Animated Short (Florida Film Festival); Sparky Award for Best Animated Short (Slamdance Film Festival)

Brick Novax’s Diary, Pt. 1 & 2

Director: Matt Piedmont [U.S.]
Synopsis: The first two parts of Piedmont’s four-parter puppet miniseries for HBO’s Funny or Die Presents find Brick Novax preserving his tales of adventure to secure his reputation as the coolest guy in the world.
Qualifying Win: Jury Prize in Short Filmmaking (Sundance Film Festival)

La Bruxa

Director: Pedro Solís García [Spain]
Synopsis: In 3D artist García’s directorial debut, an old witch searches for love at any cost.
Qualifying Win: Goya Award for Best Short Animation (Academia de las Artes y Ciencias Cinematograficas de España)


Director: Zach Hyer [Pratt Inst., NY]
Synopsis: A CG-animated tale set in an undefined war, the film explores issues of power abuse and control as the main character risks his life for a frivolous cause.
Qualifying Win: Student Academy Award – Gold Medal (Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences)


Directors: Bernardo Warman, Shaofu Zhang, Lisa Allen [Academy of Art Univ., CA]
Synopsis: An epic battle for love and honor unfolds as three children become a princess, knight and dragon in their school play.
Qualifying Win: Student Academy Award – Gold Medal (Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences)

The Eagleman Stag

Director: Michael Please (U.K.)
Synopsis: This darkly comic stop-motion piece explores a man’s obsession with the quickening of time that faces us as we age, and his attempts to counter this effect.
Qualifying Wins: Best Short Animation (British Academy of Film and Television Arts); Best Animated Short Film (Los Angeles Film Festival); Grand Jury Prize – Animation (Seattle Int’l Film Festival)

Enrique Wrecks the World

Director: David Chai [U.S.]
Synopsis: Chai, an assistant professor at San Jose State University, lends a refreshingly hand-crafted feel to his 2D short in which Enrique learns that “actions speak louder than birds.”
Qualifying Win: First Place – Animation (USA Film Festival)

The External World

Director: David O’Reilly [Ireland/Germany/U.S.]
Synopsis: A menagerie of characters in a series of bizarre vignettes are woven together in this trippy CG critique of life and its inherent futility. At least, that’s our best guess.
Qualifying Wins: Yoram Gross Award for Best Animation (FlickerFest); Best Short Animation (Guanajuato Int’l Film Festival); Golden Gate Award – Animated Short (San Francisco Int’l Film Festival); Grand Prix – Int’l Competition (Stuttgart Int’l Animation Festival)

The Fantastic Flying Books of Mr. Morris Lessmore

Directors: William Joyce, Brandon Oldenburg (U.S.)
Synopsis: After a violent storm carries off his home, Mr. Morris Lessmore discovers a magical library full of very animated volumes in this CG charmer.
Qualifying Wins: Best Animated Short (Cinequest Film Festival); Best Animated Short Film (Cleveland Int’l Film Festival); Best of Show (SIGGRAPH Computer Animation Festival)

Hand Soap

Director: Kei Oyama [Japan]
Synopsis: An adolescent boy’s insecurity, body obsession and ill-at-ease family are reflected in details and objects that occasionally take on a life of their own.
Qualifying Win: Chris Frayne Award for Best Animated Film (Ann Arbor Film Festival)

Kahānikār (The Storyteller)

Director: Nandita Jain [U.K.]
Synopsis: Based on a myth from Southern India, the film explores Nirmala’s relationship with her grandfather, who struggles to recall the details of her favorite story, leading her to take on the role of storyteller.
Qualifying Win: Best Animation (LA Shorts Fest)

Lipsett Diaries (Les Journaux de Lipsett)

Director: Theodore Ushev [Canada]
Synopsis: The haunting hand-painted film explores the troubled life of Canadian experimental animator Arthur Lipsett, who committed suicide in 1986.
Qualifying Win: Genie Award for Best Animated Short (Academy of Canadian Cinema & Television)

The Little Boy and the Beast

Directors: Johannes Weiland, Uwe Heidschötter
Synopsis: In this sweet CG animated short from Studio Soi, a young boy deals with the tribulations of having one’s mother suddenly transformed into a monster. The project was commissioned by German kids channel KI.KA.
Qualifying Win: Special Jury Award – Animation (New York Int’l Children’s Film Festival)

The Lost Town of Switez

Director: Kamil Polak [Poland/Canada]
Synopsis: Inspired by art of the Middle Ages and 19th century Slavonic paintings, this epic tale of a man’s journey to heroism was crafted with a unique blend of CG techniques and traditional animation in oils.
Qualifying Win: Best Animation (Palm Springs Int’l Shortfest)

Marcel the Shell with Shoes On

Director: Dean Fleischer-Camp [U.S.]
Synopsis: Equal parts adorable and semi-tragic, this stop-motion short takes us into the world of Marcel the Shell with Shoes On (voiced by co-writer and former SNL member Jenny Slate) as he shares facts about his tiny existence.
Qualifying Win: Grand Prize Short (New York Int’l Children’s Film Festival)


Director: Stephen Irwin [U.K.]
Synopsis: Irwin’s trademark smudgy, Noir-ish digital/traditional 2D technique brings us the tale of a pyromaniac bear who misses his mother.
Qualifying Win: Grand Prize for Best Independent Short Animation (Ottawa Int’l Animation Festival)


Director: Alister Lockhart; co-director Patrick Sarell [Australia]
Synopsis: This CG tale from Aussie outfit The LampShade Collective packs the stresses of road rage, nicotine withdrawal and generational conflict into a journey along Australia’s longest, straightest desert road.
Qualifying Wins: Holmesglen Award for Best Animation Short Film (Melbourne Int’l Film Festival); Yoram Gross Animation Award (Sydney Film Festival)


Director: Patrick Jean [France]
Synopsis: Old-school videogame characters wreak CG havoc on live footage of New York in this techno-retro animation and fx showpiece.
Qualifying Win: Le Cristal d’Annecy (Annecy Festival Int’l du Cinéma d’Animation)

The Renter

Director: Jason Carpenter
Synopsis: Carpenter’s digital 2D tale draws from his childhood daycare experiences, centering on a young boy left at his grandmother’s house where a strange man rents a room.
Qualifying Win: Best Animated Short (Atlanta Film Festival)

Something Left, Something Taken

Directors: Max Porter, Ru Kuwahata [U.S.]
Synopsis: This dark comedy from Porter/Kuwahata’s Tiny Inventions mixed-media animation team documents a vacationing couple’s chance encounter with a man they believe to be the Zodiac Killer.
Qualifying Win: Best Animated Short (Nashville Film Festival)

Specky Four-Eyes

Director: Jean-Claude Rozec [France]
Synopsis: When little Arnaud learns he has to wear a pair of hideous, painful glasses, he find he much prefers the vague world of his nearsightedness, populated with fanciful creatures from his imagination.
Qualifying Win: Best Animation (Aspen Shortsfest)

The Tannery

Director: Iain Gardner (U.K.)
Synopsis: When Fox encounters the ghost of a rabbit, they develop an usual relationship. But when a Hunter prepares a pelt for market, and Fox learns of his connection to The Tannery.
Qualifying Win: Best Animated Short (Canadian Film Centre’s Worldwide Short Film Festival)

The Wonder Hospital

Director: Beomsik Shimbe Shim [S. Korea/U.S.]
Synopsis: A blend of CG animation and puppetry weave the surreal tale of a mysterious hospital where a girl’s desire for beauty sends her chasing around the hospital only to find an irreversible end.
Qualifying Win: Best Animated Short (South By South West)

Three for the Road

In addition to the qualifying festival winners profiled in this issue, the following three studio heavyweights are also likely to show up on the Oscar short list this year:

La Luna

Director: Enrico Casarosa
Synopsis: A young boy discovers his family’s unusual line of work in this wonderful short directed by Pixar’s gifted head of story.

The Ballad of Nessie

Directors: Stevie Wermers-Skelton, Kevin Deters
Synopsis: The legendary Loch Ness Monster and his best friend McQuack the Duck fight an evil land developer in this 2D Disney short.

I Tawt I Taw a Puddy Tat

Director: Matthew O’Callaghan
Synopsis: Using recordings by the legendary Mel Blanc, this new Looney Tunes short gives us a 3-D, CG take on the battle between Tweety Bird and Sylvester the Cat. Granny is voiced by the amazing June Foray.

The Visual Effects Race

Coming Soon!

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Academy Award for Best Animated Feature


The Academy Award for Best Animated Feature is one of the annual awards given by the Los Angeles-based professional organization, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences.

The Academy Awards, or Oscars, which are the oldest awards given to achievements in film, included the Best Animated Feature category for the first time for the 2001 film year.

Beauty and the Beast (1991) and Up (2009) are the only animated films ever to be nominated for Best Picture, while Waltz with Bashir (2008) is the only animated picture ever nominated for Best Foreign Language Film.

The award is only given if there are at least eight animated feature films (with a theatrical release in Los Angeles). For the purposes of the award, only films over 70 minutes long are considered to be feature films.

If there are 16 or more films submitted for the category, the winner is voted from a shortlist of five films (which has thus far happened only in 2002 and 2009), otherwise there will only be three films on the shortlist.

People in the animation industry and fans expressed hope that the prestige from this award and the resulting boost to the box office would encourage the increased production of animated features. Some members and fans have criticized the award, however, saying it is only intended to prevent animated films from having a chance of winning Best Picture.

This criticism was particularly prominent at the 81st Academy Awards, in which WALL-E won the award but was not nominated for Best Picture, despite receiving overwhelmingly positive reviews from critics and moviegoers and being generally considered one of the best films of 2008. This led to controversy over whether the film was deliberately snubbed of the nomination by the Academy.

Film critic Peter Travers commented that “If there was ever a time where an animated feature deserved to be nominated for Best Picture, it’s WALL-E“. However, official Academy Award regulations state that any movie nominated for this category can still be nominated for Best Picture. [1] In 2009, Up was nominated for both Best Animated Feature and Best Picture at the 82nd Academy Awards, the first film to do so since the creation of the category.

Computer animated films have been the big winner in this category, with seven wins in the nine-year history of the award. The only exceptions were in 2002 and 2005, with winners Spirited Away, a traditionally-animated anime film, and Wallace & Gromit: The Curse of the Were-Rabbit, a stop-motion animation film. Both non CG films were also non american. Spirited Away came from Japan and Curse of the Were Rabbit came from Britain.

Pixar Animation Studios has been the most successful organization in the history of Best Animated Feature. Out of the seven feature films made by Pixar between 2001 and 2009, all have been nominated for this award, and only two have lost (Monsters Inc. lost to Shrek, and Cars lost to Happy Feet). All five others (Finding Nemo, The Incredibles, Ratatouille, WALL-E, and Up) won their respective years.

Since the Academy introduced this award category, the Golden Globes and BAFTA Awards followed the example and present a similar award.


  • 1 Results
  • 2 Computer animated nominees
    • 2.1 Pixar
    • 2.2 Dreamworks
    • 2.3 Other films
  • 3 Stop-motion nominees
  • 4 Traditionally-animated nominees
    • 4.1 American-made
    • 4.2 Foreign animated nominees
  • 5 Notes
  • 6 See also
  • 7 External links

The following table displays the nominees and the winners in bold print with a yellow background.

Year Film




Jimmy Neutron: Boy Genius


Monsters, Inc.


Spirited Away


Ice Age


Lilo & Stitch


Spirit: Stallion of the Cimarron


Treasure Planet


Finding Nemo


Brother Bear


The Triplets of Belleville


The Incredibles


Shark Tale


Shrek 2


Wallace and Gromit: The Curse of the Were-Rabbit


Corpse Bride


Howl’s Moving Castle


Happy Feet




Monster House






Surf’s Up






Kung Fu Panda






Fantastic Mr. Fox


The Princess and the Frog


The Secret of Kells

Computer animated nominees


  • Monsters, Inc. (2001) – Lost to Shrek
  • Finding Nemo (2003)
  • The Incredibles (2004)
  • Cars (2006) – Lost to Happy Feet
  • Ratatouille (2007)
  • WALL-E (2008)
  • Up (2009) – The second of only two animated films to be nominated for Best Picture


  • Shrek (2001)
  • Shrek 2 (2004) – Lost to The Incredibles
  • Shark Tale (2004) – Also lost to The Incredibles
  • Kung Fu Panda (2008) – Lost to WALL-E

** Other films

  • Jimmy Neutron: Boy Genius (2001) – Lost to Shrek
  • Ice Age (2002) – Lost to Spirited Away
  • Monster House (2006) – Lost to Happy Feet
  • Happy Feet (2006)
  • Surf’s Up (2007) – Lost to Ratatouille
  • Bolt (2008) – Lost to WALL-E

** Stop-motion nominees

  • Wallace & Gromit: The Curse of the Were-Rabbit (2005)
  • Corpse Bride (2005) – Lost to Curse of the Were-Rabbit
  • Coraline (2009) – Lost to Up
  • Fantastic Mr. Fox (2009) – Also lost to Up

** Traditionally-animated nominees

** American-made

  • Lilo & Stitch (2002) – Lost to Spirited Away
  • Treasure Planet (2002) – Also lost to Spirited Away
  • Spirit: Stallion of the Cimarron (2002) – The only one not made by Disney; also lost to Spirited Away
  • Brother Bear (2003) – Lost to Finding Nemo
  • The Princess and the Frog (2009) – Lost to Up

** Foreign animated nominees

  • Spirited Away (2002) – Made in Japan
  • Triplets of Belleville (2003) – Made in France; lost to Finding Nemo
  • Howl’s Moving Castle (2005) – Made in Japan; lost to Curse of the Were-Rabbit
  • Persepolis (2007) – Made in France; lost to Ratatouille
  • The Secret of Kells (2009) – Made in Ireland; lost to Up

** See also

  • List of animated feature-length films
  • Annie Award for Best Animated Feature
  • BAFTA Award for Best Animated Film
  • Golden Globe Award for Best Animated Feature Film
  • Japan Academy Prize for Animation of the Year

Nominees & Winners for the 82nd Academy Awards

Animated Feature Film

https://i0.wp.com/www.sggp.org.vn/dataimages/original/2010/03/images324945_Pete-Docter,-dao-dien-Up.jpg “Up” Pete Docter
https://i1.wp.com/scifiwire.com/assets_c/2009/01/HenrySelick_Coraline-thumb-550x333-12101.jpgCoraline” Henry Selick
Fantastic Mr. Fox” Wes Anderson
The Princess and the Frog” John Musker and Ron Clements
The Secret of Kells” Tomm Moore

Rule Seven: Special Rules for the Best Animated Feature Film Award

  1. DEFINITIONAn animated feature film is defined as a motion picture with a running time of at least 70 minutes, in which movement and characters’ performances are created using a frame-by-frame technique. In addition, a significant number of the major characters must be animated, and animation must figure in no less than 75 percent of the picture’s running time.
    1. Except as indicated above, motion pictures in this category must meet all the requirements in Academy Awards Rules Two, Three, and Four.
    2. The Executive Committee of the Short Films and Feature Animation Branch shall meet prior to the last Board of Governors meeting of this calendar year. At this meeting, a Reminder List of the animated feature films released during the current Awards year shall be reviewed. If the committee finds that there are eight or more eligible animated feature films that warrant a category, it may choose to recommend to the Board of Governors that there be an Animated Feature Film award given in the current Awards year. If the governors accept this recommendation, the following nomination process shall be set in motion.
    1. An entry form naming the intended award recipient(s) and including the signatures of all the credited producer(s) and director(s) is required. This is to insure that all parties are properly informed, and that agreement on the designated award recipient(s) is settled prior to submission.
    2. The award recipient(s) shall be designated by those responsible for the production of the film. The designated recipient(s) must be the KEY CREATIVE INDIVIDUAL most clearly responsible for the overall achievement OR a TWO-PERSON TEAM with shared and equal director credit. (The shared director credit must be approved by the Branch Executive Committee.)  A maximum of two statuettes will be awarded.
    3. The print or copy submitted for Academy Awards consideration must be identical in content and length to the print or copy used for the qualifying exhibition. All entries submitted must include an English-language synopsis of the film.
    4. Prints should be marked ANIMATED FEATURE FILM ENTRY and shipped PREPAID to the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, 8949 Wilshire Blvd., Beverly Hills, CA 90211. Those entries not chosen as nominations for final balloting will be returned to the sender at Academy expense. Prints submitted will be retained by the Academy until the voting process is completed and will not be loaned for use by others during the period of the voting process.
    5. The deadline for receiving the entry form, synopsis, cast and credits list, filmographies of the key creative individual(s) named for award purposes and stills is Monday, November 2, 2009. The deadline for receiving the film print is Friday, November 13, 2009. Foreign entries must also comply with this rule.
    6. Films submitted in the Animated Feature Film category may qualify for Academy Awards in other categories, including Best Picture, provided they comply with the rules governing those categories.
    7. An animated feature film may be submitted in only one Awards year for Academy Awards consideration.
    1. A Chairperson, appointed by the Academy President, shall head one or more Animated Feature Film Award Screening Committee(s). An invitational letter will be sent from the Chairperson to a list of active and life Academy members requesting their participation. Those serving on the committee(s) will be required to see 80 percent of the submitted eligible films at meetings of the committee(s) or in a theatrical setting. Viewing Animated Feature Film entries on videocassette or DVD will NOT qualify a member for voting purposes in this category.
    2. All submissions sent to the Academy will be screened by the Animated Feature Film Award Screening Committee(s). After the screenings, the committee(s) will vote by secret ballot to nominate from 3 to 5 motion pictures for this award. In any year in which 8 to 15 animated features are released in Los Angeles County, a maximum of 3 motion pictures may be nominated. In any year in which 16 or more animated features are submitted and accepted in the category, a maximum of 5 motion pictures may be nominated.
      1. The committee(s) will view all motion pictures entered and mark all entries 10, 9, 8, 7 or 6 with the guidelines of 10 (excellent), 8 (good), 7 (fair) or 6 (poor). Those productions receiving an average score of 7.5 or more shall be eligible for nomination.
      2. If only one production receives an average score of 7.5 or more, the committee(s) shall recommend to the Board of Governors that a Special Achievement Award for Animated Feature Film be made to that production.
      3. If no production receives an average score of 7.5 or more, the committee(s) shall recommend to the Board of Governors that no award be made for Animated Feature Film for the current Awards year.
    3. The Short Films and Feature Animation Branch Executive Committee shall have the right and responsibility to resolve all questions of eligibility, rules interpretations and the designation of award recipients.
    4. It remains within the sole and confidential discretion of the Board of Governors to determine if any Animated Feature Film award shall be given for a particular year, and to make all final determinations regarding this category.
    5. Final voting for the Animated Feature Film award shall be restricted to active and life Academy members.