Top Animation News is a weekly column that rounds up the biggest, best and breaking stories from the animation industry. This edition covers December 27 to January 3, 2020.
1. Harmony featured in Animation Magazine’s Best of 2019
Animation Magazine has released its Best of 2019 list, covering aspects of the industry ranging from productions to outlets, directors to actors, educational institutions to technological tools. Among the big 2D winners are Klaus for Best Animated Feature (Best Major Studio), Hair Love (Best Animated Short), Rick and Morty (Best Primetime TV Series) and Toon Boom Harmony for Best Animation Software, among others.
See the complete Best of 2019 list on Animation Magazine.
2. In memoriam: Lee Mendelson
Emmy Award-winning animation producer Lee Mendelson passed away on Christmas morning, aged 86. Incidentally, his best-known production, A Charlie Brown Christmas, has been a timeless festive season favourite for the last 50 years. Among the other animated projects he worked on are It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown (1966), A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving (1973) and It’s Your 50th Christmas, Charlie Brown! (2015) as well as Garfield and Friends.
Discover Lee Mendelson’s incredible life and career on The New York Times.
Source: Sony Pictures Animation
3. Animation From Every Angle shines a light on progressive productions
Recently launched editorial platform Animation From Every Angle is a forward-facing project focused on creators widening the scope of animation — from football-player-turned-filmmaker Matthew A. Cherry’s Hair Love to recent Sheridan College grad Esther Cheung’s In Passing. Launched by Toon Boom, its journalistic content highlights diversity, inclusivity and social good in the industry. “We want to support those creators and artists who are reshaping the narrative to make a positive difference, and help them to amplify their reach and impact by connecting them to [Toon Boom’s] global network — and beyond,” says Stephanie Quinn, marketing director at Toon Boom.
Dig into the diversity and read more about Animation From Every Angle on Animation Magazine.
4. Report reflects on Kyoto Animation tragedy
“As long as we have one person, we will keep going,” says Kyoto Animation founder Hideaki Hatta. The Hollywood Reporter has published the most detailed article yet on the studio’s arson attack, which shocked the animation community on July 18, 2019 — ending 36 lives. The publication interviews Hatta as well as anime observers and leaders like Weathering With You director Makoto Shinkai, and painstakingly covers what happened before, during and after the tragedy.
Read the Kyoto Animation in-depth report on The Hollywood Reporter.
5. China’s inaugural West Lake Animation Festival coming in April
As the Chinese animation industry continues to boom, the country will get another major event in the West Lake International Animation Festival. Set to launch on April 16 in Hangzhou, the three-day festival will subsequently be held every two years. With names attached like Liu Jian (Have a Nice Day) and Gerben Schermer (Holland Animation Film Festival), the West Lake International Animation Festival will feature three strands: a competition, a non-competitive screening and a forum.
Preview the West Lake International Animation Festival further on Animation Xpress.
6. Rediscover the beauty of early animation
As we look towards the next generation of 2D animation following Klaus and going into 2020, it may be pertinent to look back — way back. The New Yorker takes a trip down hand-drawn memory lane to shine a light on cartoons from the silent era, reminding us of the power and impact simple moving lines could have via Emile Cohl’s Fantasmagorie and Winsor McCay’s Gertie the Dinosaur. The article’s author, Richard Brody, also brilliantly illuminates how many of these timeless masterpieces are available to stream on YouTube.
Wax nostalgic over silent-era animation on The New Yorker.
7. Peek into the National Film Board’s new Montreal HQ
Canada’s National Film Board (NFB) has been a pioneering force in the global animation industry for decades, and its facilities have finally caught up with the times. Its English and French divisions, led by Michael Fukushima and Julie Roy respectively, recently moved into their gleaming new shared space in downtown Montreal. The NFB is modernizing its shorts distribution strategy as well, with Fukushima saying, “Right now, the interest [is more in] the bigger platforms like Netflix and Amazon Prime. Netflix had a great success with the David Fincher series Love, Death & Robots, which was a compilation of shorts. I think, for our sales colleagues, that’s the current model they’re thinking of, in terms of revenue generation.”
Discover the NFB’s new facilities and strategies on Cartoon Brew.
8. Ant Blades on getting It’s Pony out of the gate
Nickelodeon’s upcoming children’s cartoon It’s Pony is the vision of veteran animator Ant Blades, who collaborated with London studio Blue Zoo to bring the 2D animated series to life using Toon Boom Storyboard Pro and Harmony. Speaking of the creative process, he says, “The aim was to create a visually unique style to try and make it feel more hand drawn, to steer away from some more common styles and push towards something that felt more tactile and rough. Pony himself benefits from line work that’s more untidy and energetic.”
Read the full Ant Blades It’s Pony interview on Animation Magazine.
— CW Seed (@cwseed) December 31, 2019
9. CW guns for streaming eyes with Deathstroke: Knights & Dragons
With subscription video on-demand services like Netflix, Amazon Prime Video and Disney+ digging into viewers’ budgets, other platforms are hoping to attract their attention with free streamable content. Among them is CW Seed with its upcoming animated series Deathstroke: Knights & Dragons, based on the titular DC universe assassin. According to a teaser tweet, it will be available to stream on CW Seed for free as of January 6.
Take a stab at the Deathstroke: Knights & Dragons cast and plot on Collider.
10. Toei Animation co-producing Saudi anime Future’s Folktales
Japanese anime powerhouse Toei Animation has partnered with Saudi-based Manga Productions on a new 2D animated series: Future’s Folktales. The children’s cartoon will be set in the Middle Eastern kingdom’s capital Riyadh in the year 2050, and include 13 x 23-minute episodes. Around 400 artists will work on the series, with a focus on storytelling and promoting Saudi culture.
Leap forward with Future’s Folktales on BroadcastPro.
What Top Animation News were you most excited about this week? Was there something we forgot to mention? Let us know in the comments below!
Banner image source: Netflix