At some point in the early years of the 21st century a bunch of Hollywood executives must have gotten together and decided that animated films should be made for all audiences. The goal was perhaps to make movies that are simultaneously accessible to the older and younger sets with colorful imagery that one expects from children’s films and two levels of humor: one that’s quite literal and harmless and another that’s somewhat subversive. The criteria has resulted in cross-generational hits like Wall-E and Madagascar and though it’s nice to be able to take my nephew to the movies and be as entertained by cartoon characters as he is I can’t help but wonder what happened to unabashedly innocent animated classics like A Goofy Movie and The Land Before Time?
Disney’s Winnie The Pooh is the answer to the Shrek’s and Hoodwinked!’s of the world: a short sweet simple and lighthearted tale of friendship that doesn’t need pop-culture references or snarky dialogue to put a smile on your face. Directors Stephen J. Anderson and Don Hall found some fresh ways to deliver adorable animation while keeping the carefree spirit of A.A. Milne’s source material in tact. Their story isn’t the most original; the first part of the film finds Pooh Piglet Tigger and Owl searching for Eeyore’s tail (a common plot point in the books and past Pooh films) and hits all the predictable notes but the second half mixes things up a bit as the crew searches for a missing Christopher Robin whom they believe has been kidnapped by a forest creature known as the “Backson” (it’s really just the result of the illiterate Owl or is it?).
The beauty of hand-drawn animation all but forgotten until recently is what makes Winnie the Pooh so incredibly magnetic. There’s an inexplicable crispness to the colors and characters that CG just can’t duplicate. It’s a more personal practice for the filmmakers and should provide a refreshing experience for audiences who have become jaded with the pristine presentation of computerized imagery. The film is bookended by brief live-action shots from inside Robin’s room an interesting dynamic that plays up the simplicity of youth ties it to these beloved characters and brings you right back to memories of your own childhood.
With a just-over-an-hour run time Winnie the Pooh is short enough to hold the attention of children but won’t bore the parents who will love the film mainly for nostalgic musings. Still it’s the young’uns who will most enjoy this breezy bright and enchanting film that proves old-school characters can appeal to new moviegoers.
Disney-Pixar blockbuster Up landed the top prize at this year's (10) ceremony, which honours the best in animation, and films including box office hit Toy Story 3 were expected to sweep the board at the 2011 show.
But Disney bosses have now announced they will no longer be putting films forward for nomination after they failed to agree with Annie Awards bosses at the Association Internationale du Film d'Animation (ASIFA) over the way the prizes are judged.
A statement from Disney-Pixar boss Ed Catmull reads, "After more than a year of discussions with the ASIFA board, we have regretfully decided to withdraw from the organisation and no longer participate in the annual Annie Awards. We believe there is an issue with the way the Annies are judged, and have been seeking a mutually agreeable solution with the board.
"Although some initial steps have been taken, the board informed us that no further changes would be made to address our concerns."
The dispute is said to have been sparked by a disagreement over which ASIFA members, many working for rival companies, are allowed to vote for the film nominees, according to Variety.com.
But ASIFA chief Antran Manoogian is convinced Disney-Pixar films could still be included in future awards shows, as producers and artists may still enter their own work for consideration.
The next Annie Awards will take place in Los Angeles on 5 February 2011.
Members of the Pixar “brain trust” have agreed to help out parent corporation Disney with their new live-action Muppet movie. Principal members of the Muppet movie, which stars Forgetting Sarah Marshall puppet extraordinaire Jason Segel, were flown to Pixar headquarters in northern California for a table read with the animation experts.
Pixar’s brain trust, which includes filmmakers John Lasseter, Brad Bird, Pete Docter, Andrew Stanton, Michael Arndt, Bob Peterson and president Ed Catmull, has been responsible for the studio’s perfect record: producing 11 consecutive commercial hits and critical successes. While Pixar had been kept separate from Disney in prior years, Disney has recently begun to tap into the storytelling team’s potential by consulting them for story advice, such as before starting reshoots of their live-action computer adventure Tron Legacy.
Disney, whose recent releases When in Rome, The Last Song, Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time and The Sorcerer's Apprentice have been short on critical and commercial success, seem to be poised to adopt a more Pixar-like production schedule, or to at least take advantage of Pixar’s storytelling success. Pixar has long relied on peer feedback to produce their films. President Ed Catmull described the process: “Every two or three months, they present 'the film' to the other filmmakers, and they will tear the film apart. And it's very important for that dynamic to work because it could be a brutal process; there needs to be the feeling they are all helping each other who wants that help.”
Disney is wise to start taking advantage of Pixar, who have proven their mastery of storytelling basics time and time again. And it certainly won’t be a one-sided arraignment, since much of the Pixar crew (especially Up director Pete Docter) are long-time muppet fans. Basically, this seems like a best-case scenario for everyone involved.
The new Muppet movie, directed by Flight Of The Conchords’ James Bobin, is due out December 2011.
The Oscars aren't just about movie stars.
The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences will present 17 awards for outstanding scientific and technical achievements. And for the first time, one of the awards will be an actual Oscar statuette, which will go to the Pixar folks for the development of the software "Renderman."
"This is the first Oscar ever given specifically for the development of computer software," Academy President Robert Rehme said today.
The 17 awards were voted by the Academy's Board of Governors, based upon the recommendations from the Scientific and Technical Awards Committee.
The Scientific and Technical Academy Awards will be presented on March 3 in Beverly Hills.
Here's the complete list of winners:
Academy Award of Merit (Oscar Statuette)
To Rob Cook, Loren Carpenter and Ed Catmull for their significant advancements to the field of motion picture rendering as exemplified in Pixar's "Renderman."
Scientific and Engineering Awards (Academy Plaques)
To AKAI Digital for the design and development of the DD8 Plus digital audio dubber specifically designed for the motion picture industry.
To Fairlight for the design and development of the DaD digital audio dubber specifically designed for the motion picture industry.
To Advanced Digital Systems Group (ADSG) for the design and development of the Sony DADR 5000 digital audio dubber specifically designed for the motion picture industry.
To Timeline, Incorporated for the design and development of the MMR 8 digital audio dubber specifically designed for the motion picture industry.
To Joe Wary, Gerald Painter and Colin F. Mossman for the design and development of the Deluxe Laboratories Multi Roller Film Transport System.
Technical Achievement Awards (Academy Certificates)
To Vic Armstrong for the refinement and application to the film industry of the Fan Descender for accurately and safely arresting the descent of stunt persons in high freefalls.
To Bill Tondreau of Kuper Systems, Alvah J. Miller and Paul Johnson of Lynx Robotics, and David Stump of Visual Effects Rental Services for the conception, design and development of data capture systems that enable superior accuracy, efficiency and economy in the creation of composite imagery.
To Leonard Pincus, Ashot Nalbandyan, George Johnson and Tom Kong for the design and development of the Softsun low pressure xenon long-arc light sources, their power supplies and fixtures.
To Glenn Berggren for the concept, Horst Linge for research and development, and Wolfgang Reineke for the final design and production of the Isco-Optic lenses for motion picture projection.
To Udo Schauss and Karl Lenhardt for the optical design, and Ralf Linn and Norbert Brinker for the mechanical design of the Schneider Super Cinelux lenses for motion picture projection.
To Philip Greenstreet of Rosco Laboratories for the concept and development of the Roscolight Day/Night Backdrop.
To Venkat Krishnamurthy for the creation of the Paraform Software for 3D Digital Form Development.
To George Borshukov, Kim Libreri and Dan Piponi for the development of a system for image-based rendering allowing choreographed camera movements through computer graphic reconstructed sets.
To John Pytlak for the development of the Laboratory Aim Density (LAD) system.
To Alvah J. Miller and Paul Johnson of Lynx Robotics for the electronic and software design of the Lynx C-50 Camera Motor System.
To Al Mayer, Sr. and Al Mayer, Jr., for the mechanical design, Iain Neil for the optical design and Brian Dang for the electronic design of the Panavision Millennium XL Camera System.
Now you may stop reading.