Top Animation News is a weekly column that rounds up the biggest, best and breaking stories from the animation industry. This edition covers June 7 to 14, 2019.
1. Annecy 2019: Netflix previews Klaus
Netflix’s highly anticipated first original animated feature, Klaus (created with Toon Boom Storyboard Pro and Toon Boom Harmony), was showcased at a WIP session at the Annecy International Animated Film Festival this week. The sneak peek delved further into its story including the protagonist Jesper’s background as a lazy heir sent to develop the postal service on a remote Scandinavian island, where he meets the titular toymaker. Director Sergio Pablos (Despicable Me) insisted on Klaus being made in traditional 2D animation, saying, “The goal was not to bring traditional 2d animation back, but to bring it forward.”
Read the full Klaus WIP session recap on “Variety”.
2. Toon Boom launches Harmony 17, celebrates 25th anniversary
Toon Boom Animation unveiled Harmony 17 at MIFA 2019. In celebration of their 25th anniversary, the company has a renewed focus on making the solution the preferred choice for traditional digital animators and production artists. Harmony 17 empowers animation from every angle by giving students, freelancers and independent artists access to the same pipeline that major studios rely on for demanding productions.
Discover Harmony 17’s artist-focused new drawing tools on the Toon Boom blog.
3. …and more from Netflix at Annecy
At its ‘Netflix Animation: A Studio Without Borders’ presentation, the streamer-turned-studio also showcased other upcoming toon projects including its second original animated feature, The Willoughbys, as well as Mama K’s Team 4 (its first animated African series), City of Ghosts from Elizabeth Ito and tween show Dino Girl Gauko. Based on the selection, it’s clear the platform values diversity and inclusivity both behind the scenes and on screens, with the stories largely either focusing on or created by women and people or colour. Netflix also announced a partnership with French animation school Gobelins to send one of its grads to Japan every year to develop anime for the streamer.
4. First look at Looney Tunes Cartoons
Warner Bros. Animation’s highly anticipated Looney Tunes Cartoons shorts series is almost here, nearly 80 years after Bugs Bunny first appeared on screens. The show premiered at Annecy this week, though it hasn’t been given an official release date yet. Executive producer Pete Browngardt and supervising director Alex Kirwan told “Animation Magazine” that four studios around the world and about 50 staff at Warner Bros. Animation’s space in Burbank, California brought the series to life — and how they reproduced Golden Age-style cartoons using Toon Boom Harmony, with animation both drawn directly in the software and on pencil and paper.
See what’s up (Doc?) with Looney Tunes Cartoons on “Animation Magazine”.
5. Steven Universe The Movie’s music will be a real gem
Cartoon Network Studios’ upcoming Steven Universe The Movie musical toon will feature tunes from Chance the Rapper, Estelle, Patti LuPone, Uzo Aduba, Gallant and Aimee Mann, it has been announced. This will be the first television movie for Steven and company, as they face off against their biggest threat yet — all set to song, naturally. Creator Rebecca Sugar will contribute original tracks in collaboration with the aforementioned stars and others.
Press play on Steven Universe The Movie’s musical contributors on “Deadline”.
6. Africa will be the spotlight territory at Annecy 2020
The Annecy International Animated Film Festival and MIFA announced this past Wednesday that Africa would be the spotlight territory for its 2020 edition, in parallel with the French Institute’s Africa 2020 Season — highlighting France’s partnership with the continent. This will include screenings, meetings, conferences and discussions focused on toons created there. African Animation Network head of projects and content Nick Wilson says, “Being able to celebrate the continent’s diversity of cultures and talents at the most prestigious animation festival and market on the planet [in 2020] will have enormous long term benefits for our industry.”
Venture over to “Variety” for more on Africa as Annecy 2020’s spotlight territory.
7. Sony Pictures Animation announces huge animated series and films
Adding to the buzz of Annecy 2019, Sony Pictures Animation announced it would be rebooting The Boondocks, is developing an anthology series based on Anthony Bourdain’s Hungry Ghosts graphic novel and showed off the first images from Genndy Tartakovsky’s new films, Black Knight and adult canine comedy Fixed. The studio is fresh off Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse’s Oscar win, which has boosted its confidence in creating cartoons for a wide variety of viewers. “We intend to continue down the path that we are on — bringing all audiences stories from around the world, stories no one else is telling — and do so in a way that pushes the boundaries of animated storytelling,” says Sony Pictures Animation president Kristine Belson.
Take a peek at the Sony Pictures Animation preview on “The Hollywood Reporter”.
8. Women of colour still underrepresented in the animation industry
While streaming platforms like Netflix have made strides in improving inclusivity in entertainment, a new study from the USC Annenberg Inclusion Initiative (in partnership with Women in Animation) shows that only three percent of animated films were directed by women over the last 12 years. When it came to women of colour, there was only one: Jennifer Yuh Nelson, who helmed Kung Fu Panda 2. There were more female directors for television toons, with 13 percent of animated series in 2018 led by a woman — though just three percent of that group was women of colour.
Dig into the Women in Animation study findings further on “Teen Vogue”.
9. The Spice Girls will be animated superheroes
An upcoming animated film from Paramount will star the Spice Girls as superheroes, featuring the voices of all five original members. Produced by 90s music kingpin Simon Fuller and set for release in 2020, it will include the girl group’s hits as well as new songs. Paramount Animation is also working on other animated films, including a SpongeBob SquarePants feature and Jersey Crabs — a Grease-style musical about combative crustaceans.
If you wanna be all caught up with the Spice Girls details, you gotta get them from “The Guardian”.
10. Netflix executive Phil Rynda shares his career advice
In the latest edition of the “Cartoon Brew” web series This is My Job, they speak to Netflix creative director of animation Phil Rynda about his career trajectory — having began as a production artist and risen to his current executive role. His CV includes positions at Disney Television Animation (Gravity Falls), Cartoon Network (Adventure Time) and Nickelodeon (Rise of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles), as well as a Primetime Emmy win.
Watch the video to hear it from Phil Rynda himself or read about more on “Cartoon Brew”.