Mar 162015

Dji. Death Sails, the follow up to the award-winning short film Dji. Death Fails, is an equally amusing 3D animation by director Dmitri Voloshin and Russian animation house Simpals that tells the story of a distracted Grim Reaper who is more interested in playing with the contents of a bulging treasure chest than he is in harvesting the soul of a shipwrecked pirate.

Unfortunately for us we don’t speak Russian, (Simpals is located in Moldova) so getting more than rudimentary information from their web page was tricky. On the plus side, Simpals’ short animation, like most non-American films, does not rely on the spoken word to tell the story. It works just fine with no dialog at all, and it’s really hysterically funny.

Brighten your day and watch this buffoon of a Death screw up his one job.

- 30 -

Feb 192015

There’s almost nothing you can say to make Simpsons Pixels cooler than it already is. Watch this reimagined intro sequence to The Simpsons as created by artists Paul Robertson and Ivan Dixon, and musician/composer Jeremy Dower. It perfectly simulates the dodgy graphics of computer games in the early 80’s, complete with 8-bit music, screen memory lag artifacts and those enormous pixels game artists had to use to create their interactive projects for us to enjoy. It’s nostalgic and brand new all at once.

It packs in a lot of references. There’s Homer’s barbershop quartet The Be Sharps, Poochy, Hans Moleman as Bart, Stampy the elephant, Frank Grimes, Truck-A-Saurus and more that die-hard fans of the show will recognize. Watch it all the way through. This is amazing, pause-it-frame-by-frame animation.

And it’s just fun.

Here’s Paul Robertson and Ivan Dixon of a company called Symphonic Pixels talking about how they made the short. Very very fun, and we get a bit of what the creative process looks like as well. Enjoy.

- 30 -

Dec 102014

We are presented with the rare opportunity to behold magic. Today, we present our discovery of the international trailer for The Little Prince. It’s a story within a story. An aviator writes of crashing in the desert and discovering a lonely little boy from a small planet far away, but keeps the secret to himself, until one day a lonely little girl is drawn into his world. The movie, to be released in France on October 17, 2015, is based on a novella, the most famous work of the French aristocrat, writer, poet, and pioneering aviator Antoine de Saint-Exupéry. It’s not the story of the book directly, but a story about the book, and the man who wrote it, and a little girl desperately in need of an adventure and a friend.

The film is directed by Mark Osborne, who co-directed Kung Fu Panda for Dreamworks.

It was director Osborne’s idea to make use the cherished book as the basis for a movie. He knew the story of Le Petit Prince, as his wife had given it to him at age 18, when they first met. His idea was simple. He wanted to capture its spirit, and its important message.  “One sees clearly only with the heart,” he told reporter Gael Golhen of the French magazine, Premier. “The essential is invisible to the eye.” 

Osborne knew that Orson Welles had originally optioned the book to produce The Little Prince, and he wanted to take Welles’ script and built on it. Unfortunately, he discovered that Welles’ idea was a simple telling of the story with Welles narrating. To solve this dilemma, Osborne came up with the idea of making it a story within a story. The book itself was really too short to be the basis for a movie all by itself, so they began with a question: what if they aviator had never told his story? And what if, though older, he had never mentioned the little prince he met to anyone?

The screenplay is written by Irena Brignull. Leonardo DiCaprio is the executive producer of the film. It stars Marion Cotillard, James Franco, Rachel McAdams and Jeff Bridges, and released in France on October 17, 2015. We don’t know about any planned release dates in the U.S. yet.

- 30 -


Nov 142014
Bill Schultz, the Emmy-winning producer of The Simpsons, is our guest on The Event Horizon this week. His new project is Jimmy Stones, a new half hour animated adult fantasy comedy. The upcoming episode of The Event Horizon with Bill Schultz debutsexclusively on Krypton Radio, this Saturday, November 15, 2014,  at 9:00 p.m., Pacific.

Jimmy Stones  is about a man who has had so much go wrong with his life that he has decided to actively give up. The trouble is that the talking animals of New York aren’t going to let him off the hook. From a cranky squirrel with rabies, to a pair of proselytizing pidgeons, to a suicidal horse, Jimmy’s world is populated by unconventional and unexpected characters who just won’t leave him in peace.

Bill Schultz and fellow Emmy-winning writer and producer James Manos, jr., creator of the hit cable series Dexter,  took their idea for Jimmy Stones to every major comedy network there is, but each needed it to be changed to fit their brand. That’s why they’re taking the road-less-traveled and crowd-funding the show themselves.

This episode of The Event Horizon airs again on Sunday, November 15, 2014 at 4 p.m. Pacific, and at various other times throughout the coming week.  Consult our What’s On When page for showtimes in your area.

The Event Horizon – it’s Sci-Fi for your Wifi.

Emmy winning producer Bill Schultz

Emmy winning producer Bill Schultz

Bill Schultz

Bill Schultz is a four-time Emmy-award winning Animation Producer and Studio Executive with more than 25 years of experience in the entertainment industry, producing such well known shows as The Simpsons, King of the Hill, Garfield, Clifford the Big Red Dog, He-Man and the Masters of the Universe and Hero:108.  In 2010, Bill launched Home Plate Entertainment as a new animation studio, creators of Rob Dyrdek’s Wild Grinders for Nicktoons.

James Manos, Jr.

James Manos, Jr. won the Emmy Award for the College episode of HBO’s The Supranos.  He created and produced Showtime’s Dexter, and is presently Show Runner on South of Hell, a one hour dramatic series slated to air on WETV next year.  Mr. Manos produced the award-winning movie The Positively True Adventures of the Alleged Texas Cheerleader-Murdering Mom, starring Holly Hunter and Beau Bridges, for HBO. The movie was nominated for six Emmys and won three. He also produced the critically acclaimed tele-films, Apollo 11 and The Ditchdigger’s Daughters.

- 30 -


Oct 032014

korra (1)by Gene Turnbow, station manager

In a world where movie ideas are derived from computer games that have no plot whatsoever, such as Tetris  and the recently announced movie about Microsoft’s new acquisition Minecraft, it’s refreshing when something actually worth watching happens.  Tonight we get a double feature!

First, it’s The Legend of Korra, the animated series follow-on to the wildly popular Nickolodeon series The Last Airbender. Unfortunately the series has been cancelled, meaning it’s lost its air time schedule position on Nickolodeon. However, in a strange twist of fate, unlike what Cartoon Network did with Green Lantern: The Animated Series and Young Justice, by the time Nickolodeon Animation Studios got the word that their show had been cancelled they were already most of the way through production on Book 4: Balance. Instead of just flushing all that work, they decided to put it all online instead, one episode per week.  Perhaps online viewing really is replacing cable television – this is newsworthy in and of itself.

The first new episode appears today, and it looks very intriguing. Three years have passed since the last season. The kids have grown up a lot, and Korra has cut her hair.  There are winged suits that make airbenders resemble flying squirrels.  But that’s all superficial, and you’ll just have to watch it to see what happens.

star-wars-rebels-premiere-1536x864-428036123048The other show that it seems like half the geek world is buzzing about is the new animated series Star Wars: Rebels which debuts at 9 p.m. on the Disney Channel this evening.  The Star Wars universe is broadly expanded in these new tales of what happened after the Clone Wars, but before the Rebellion.  Gone is the grand sweeping story arc of the old Republic versus the Jedi, to be replaced with very personal stories about a band of misfits who have their own battles to fight.  It’s well written, blends well with the rest of the Star Wars universe, and it is probably the single most squee-worthy thing to happen on television this year other than the new CW series The Flash series that premieres this coming Tuesday.

And now if you don’t mind, there’s a pile of Fig Newtons, a couple of tall glasses of milk and a couple of brand new shows waiting for us in the living room.

This is gonna be good.

- 30 -

Sep 302014
Chris Jone's 'Ed'
Say hello to Ed the Head. Ed is an animation project by accomplished Lightwave animator Chris Jones of Australia. He got his degree from Swinburne University of Technology and began as an illustrator of children’s books, before becoming an animator for the game company Infogrames.

Ed started as a rigging experiment, but Chris couldn’t resist adding textures and detailing.

The danger of animating human beings is two-fold. First, it’s hard to do it convincingly, because we are so familiar with what human beings are supposed to look like that even the slightest error will be spotted. Getting this close to the illusion is just begging for trouble. Fail in any respect, the appearance, the fine hairs on the skin, the way it moves, and the viewer becomes suddenly aware of being deceived, and what seemed magical becomes creepy. Secondly, it raises the question of what happens to the human actor in the equation if a simulacrum can be created in such convincing precision.

Is the time of flesh and blood actors over? An actor is still needed to deliver a performance. In the case of Ed here, that actor happens to be the animator, but we’re talking about the traditional plank-and-a-passion kind of acting here. To be honest, we don’t think there’s that much to worry about. While an animator can create a performance, it’s a tedious, laborious process, and it depends on somebody with a very high degree of technical ability that few possess in addition to fine acting ability. Surprisingly few animators have the kind of ability that Chris Jones demonstrates in today’s video. No, acting still requires, for the most part, actual actors.

It does not necessarily follow that acting will still require that the actors look good on camera, though. Actors will still be needed, but their voices and performances can now be lent to computer animated creations. Of course, getting a human being on screen acting is still going to be most easily done by pointing a camera at an actor. The difference between doing that and executing the technical incantations necessary to join a human’s performance with a computer animated avatar will still heavily favor the human actor, and probably will for a very long time to come.

That said, what Chris Jones did here is still shockingly cool to watch.  With some care, it’s clearly possible to avoid a visit to Uncanny Valley.

- 30 -