Talent Spotlight: David Gouldthorpe


We'd like to give a warm welcome to David Gouldthorpe as Eric Miller Animation Studio's newest team member! David has joined our social media & marketing team working with Mary Lou, and will be writing some of our weekly blog posts. 

David grew up in the nice quiet town of Mesa in Arizona, where he spent most of his childhood painting and writing "outlandish stories".  This was when his passion for Illustration began.  David is currently attending Cornell University in Ithaca, New York working on his Industrial and Labor Relations degree!  While he is not an art major in school he recently began to freelance as an illustrator.


"Illustrating can tell a story like no other medium is able to do. I've spent years learning the language, and I'm trying to use it for my own tales now."


David's hobbies include: illustrating (of course), writing both fiction and nonfiction stories, and keeping up with his favorite YouTube channels. He also finds a great deal of interest in reviewing films, as well as finding their impact to himself and others. We look forward to reading more of his reviews on Eric Miller Animation studio's Blog (be sure to read the previous ones on Coco and Adventure Time!).


After David graduates he hopes to move to Los Angeles to do more with his passion for Illustration or a position at a theme park, which he has had experience with in the past. He also looks forward to LA's warm weather! Along with keeping up with his blogs on MillerAnimation.com, be sure to check out his website here!


Looking Back at Adventure Time

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A couple weeks ago, a party was held in Hollywood. It was a wrap party, celebrating the end of production on one of the most important animated series of our time: Adventure Time. The award-winning series is now on its tenth and final season, and in honor of its conclusion it seems fitting to go back and explore the impact the show has had on television animation.

To fully understand the impact of Adventure Time, we need to understand the world of the late naughts, prior to 2010. To put it lightly... those were not kind years for television animation. The three major players - Nickelodeon, the Disney Channel, and Cartoon Network - had only limited offerings. Live-action youth sitcoms were beginning to dominate. Cartoon Network in particular attempted to roll out a programming block in 2009 titled "CN Real", dedicated only to live-action reality programming. Nickelodeon was trying to find something that would stick as well as Spongebob could, but programs like Fanboy and Chum Chum failed to garner strong views. Disney Channel meanwhile had been given over to programs like Jonas and Suite Life; Phineas and Ferb was one of the few noteworthy animated programs near the end of the decade.

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Enter into the scene Pendleton Ward, a graduate from the California Institute for the Arts. In 2006 he made a short titled Adventure Time. By November 2007 it garnered over a million views, having spread around the Internet. Ward took his idea to Nickelodeon and pitched it as a show, but found himself rejected. He then took it to Cartoon Network, where his pitch was accepted. The first episode aired April 5, 2010, to an audience of 2.5 million viewers. From there, the show has continued to receive popularity and praise. Adventure Time has received major nominations every year it has aired, and won several Emmy Awards and Annie Awards. 


So what is it about Adventure Time that makes it so special? One part of its appeal lies in the wacky off-the-wall world. The main stars are a human named Finn, voiced by Jeremy Shada, and his loyal shape-shifting dog Jake, voiced by John DiMaggio. They encounter characters like an Ice King, a vampire, a lumpy space princess (a blob whose name is literally Lumpy Space Princess), a bubblegum princess, a lemon, a living video game console... and the list goes on from there. It's an environment full of "fun and excitement" and "pure imagination."

At the same time, Adventure Time manages to handle more complex and deeper themes. Characters are not just paper cutouts, but deeper people who we get to explore and discover more about. Critics have praised it for talking about things like mental illness and loss. There has even been an academic interest in the show: for example, Emma Jane published an article in the Journal of Children and Media in which she described the ways that Adventure Time handled gender roles. The balance of wackiness with headiness has helped keep the show entertaining and intriguing for its audience.

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It's a balance, in fact, that has redefined the industry. Adventure Time is often credited with sparking a new television animation renaissance. In fact, alumni from Adventure Time have gone on to make excellent shows of their own. Patrick McHale, a director on the series, went on to create Over the Garden Wall. Rebecca Sugar, a writer and storyboard artist, became the showrunner on the hit series Steven Universe. Ian Jones-Quartey (OK K.O.! Let's Be Heroes), Skyler Page (Clarence), Julia Pott (Summer Camp Island), the list goes on. Besides alumni though, other channels saw the success of Adventure Time, realized that cartoons were still a viable crowd-pleaser, and took a risk on series like Gravity Falls and The Loud House. Everyone wanted to recapture the magic of Adventure Time, and it has led to some truly great works.

With the show's production officially stopped, and the last season airing, it's safe to say that all cast and crew should feel proud for taking part in something so important. Adventure Time has not only inspired fans, but breathed new life into an entire industry. Its impact will not be forgotten, and whatever the crew move on to next will surely be spectacular.

November Animation News Round-Up!

As we near the end of the year, we had a very eventful month in the world of animation! From expositions, to animation feature releases, to more about what is coming up. What better way to spend the day after Thanksgiving than to catch up on what went on in the world of animation during the month of November! 


1. D-CON


Design plays a big role in the animation process and Designer Con includes many great designers in the toy and art industry. It takes place in Pasadena, CA every November and has over 400 vendors, art & custom shows, and live demonstrations all about toys and art, with many that are based off animations! Since it keeps growing every year, next year it will be moving to the Anaheim Convention Center, so keep an eye out!

Check out the vendors who were there this year here


2. Google Spotlight Stories


Google Spotlight Stories launched as a new VR experience on Steam, Vive Port, Google Daydream, and Google Spotlight Stories mobile app. Son of Jaguar and Sonaria were both recently debuted on Google Spotlight Stories and available for us to be immersed into their art as you watch through the goggles. 

Check iour the trailer for Sonariaon YouTube!


3. CTNx


CTNx is always a great experience and this year was a little more special for us! It was the first year we had a table at CTNx, and we are so glad to have had the opportunity. On top of still being able to see what is going on in the industry and attending all the knowledge filled panels, we met a lot of talented artists who we hope to have the chance to work with on upcoming projects!

Get a little glimpse of CTNx 2017 here!


4. Coco


If you read our last blog, we wrote quite a bit about Coco being the highest grossing movie of all time in Mexico. With just a few days in theaters in the US, it already made 48.4 million and has 96% on Rotten Tomatoes! It's cultural education is the cherry on top of the visual impact it has. Critics say "Pixar's Day-of-the-Dead gem pays loving tribute to Mexican culture with animation that brims over with visual pleasures, comic energy and emotional wallop."

If you haven't seen it yet, check out the trailer here!


5. Creators Society 


Very glad we were able to meet even more creatives at this years CTNx and looking forward to learning more about everyone at this month's mixer! We will be enjoying great company, good food, and a beautiful view at the Crystal View Lounge at the Holiday Inn in Burbank. We hope you can make it out too, RSVP here!

What Coco's Success Says About Taking the Time to Diversify

This past Wednesday, the news hit: Pixar Animation’s Coco unseated The Avengers to be the highest grossing movie of all time in Mexico. For those not in the know, Coco tells the story of a young boy named Miguel who wishes to pursue his dream of becoming a musician, but due to an old family ban he’s forbidden from doing so. But in the middle of Día de Muertos (“Day of the Dead”), he finds himself suddenly transported to the Land of the Dead. He now has to find his way back home… but not before discovering more about his family and where he came from.

Coco screened widely within Mexico prior to its domestic release. It’s an unusual tactic, as anyone within the industry can tell you that movies produced within the US almost always screen domestically before heading to foreign markets. Releasing the movie in Mexico first, though, caps off a production that has at every step emphasized a complete and accurate portrayal of Mexican culture, especially Día de Muertos, and shows off the utility of reaching across cultures in business.


It’d be easy to make a story about Día de Muertos: you thrown in some skeletons, colorful skulls, generic festivities. All you have to do is pick whatever main plot you want and there you go. It takes effort, though, to make a story that understands Día de Muertos, especially if you come from outside that culture and ethnicity. It takes effort, no matter how small, to know that the colorful skulls, the calaveras de azucar, are not meant to be viewed as macabre but rather as joyful. It takes effort to really understand the themes of the holiday: it’s not about mourning the dead, but celebrating the life that people lived and keeping them in memory.

Adrian Molina, co-director, attends Coco's premiere in Mexico City. Courtesy of Disney•Pixar

Adrian Molina, co-director, attends Coco's premiere in Mexico City. Courtesy of Disney•Pixar

Disney and Pixar put in that effort. Co-director Adrian Molina remarked that “We knew from the early stages that in creating this film, accompanying it was this huge responsibility to represent it faithfully — to get the culture right — and to be very thoughtful in being stewards of what the celebration is.” Now much has been said in the past about the extent that Pixar’s research teams will go to in order to find the tiniest little details to be that much more accurate in their depiction of real world places, things, or even concepts. And just as Molina said, they took an extra step of not just understanding the holiday, but even going so far as to explore how it’s celebrated differently in different regions of Mexico. In the words of Gael Garcia Bernal, it’s “a very heterogeneous, generous festival.” This doesn’t even start getting into casting, where nearly everyone cast is Latino and thus giving an extra edge of authenticity to the whole production.

Of course this is all fine and well from a social justice perspective, but does it make any business sense? To answer that, I’d point you back to the beginning of this post: the top grossing movie of all time in Mexico. As of this Thursday Coco's brought in $43.1 million, 827 million pesos, and that number’s only climbing. Critics and audiences are singing its praises as one of Pixar’s better works.


And so I circle back to what I said before: it would have been easy to make a story about Día  de Muertos. However, Pixar took the time to truly understand the holiday, to explore the themes that it celebrates, and then build the story around those themes. In doing so they’ve made a GREAT story about Día de Muertos. It's something special and, so far, successful. It goes to show that taking that extra step to understand something more fully can make a world of difference.


Palm Springs International Animation Festival!

The 1st annual International Animation Festival started November 9, 2017 in Palm Springs, CA and will go on until November 11, 2017. There will be 250+ shorts, 6 animated features, along with panels, seminars, and awards for 35 different categories. Highlighted below are a few examples of the different style animations shown, or talked about, at PSIAF!


1. Fantasmagorie


Directed by french artist Émile Cohl in 1908, this film is considered to be one of the first hand-drawn animations. With 700 drawings created in about 3-4 months, the animation consists of the transformations of objects. The drawing process of the main character has the artists hand in the actual film is what makes it a little different than modern hand-drawn animations.

Check out part of the film, Fantasmagorie,  here!


2. Teheran Tabu


Directed by Ali Soozandeh, this German-Austrian animated film was created using rotoscoping, in which animators trace over motion picture footage in each frame where realistic action is required. It's a 2017 film that tells the story of women in Teheran, the capital city in Iran, and their attempts of going against their strict laws.  

Take a look at what rotoscoping looks like in the Teheran Tabu trailer here!


3. Tokri

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Tokri was directed by Suresh Eriyat, founder of Studio Eeksaurus. This claymation was inspired by beggars Suresh comes across in India, and one particular one he felt guilty about for shooing away. He decided to turn this experience into an animation that would help his team and the viewers to see the beggars in a different light. 

Watch a clip from the Tokri animation here!


4. El Apóstol 

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This was one of the fiirst feature length animated black and white silent film from 1917! Quirino Cristiani directed, wrote, designed, and animated El Apóstol, with character designs by Diógenes Taborda. The stills and and posters for this political satire were lost in a fire.

El Apóstol, along with other classical and traditional animations, will be talked about at Palm Springs International Animation Festival. Watch a little bit about it's history here!


5. Virtual Actors Chinese Opera


Hong-Kong based designer Tobias Gremmler created this non-traditional animation using motion capture. Instead of using actually people to portray the Chinese Opera, he wanted to recreate their movements using only lines and color. 

Wondering what that would look like? Check it out here!


Read more about how the Palm Springs International Animation Festival came together here!


Around the World Animation YouTube Channels

There are so many great YouTube animation channels that are available for us to watch for free! We like to look up what's new or being highlighted now and then, and this month found that many are international channels. Hope you find something fun and new to watch!


1. Forces of Destiny (California)


Marvel alum, Jennifer Muro created each episode to give us back stories of the females in the true Star Wars Universe. Forces of Destiny is a webseries by Lucasfilm Animation and released through Disney's YouTube Channel. The first half of the sixteen 2-3 minute shorts were released in July, with the other half started releasing just last month!

Check out this YouTube channel here!


2. Lex Animata TV (Abu Dhabi)

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This is the first legal Youtube channel to explain international law and the United Arab Emirates. Hesham El Rafei, the creator, wanted to share legal knowledge in a way that is simple, colorful and entertaining! He noticed the lack of innovation in his study materials in Law School; what better way than to use art to learn!

Learn more about international law through this YouTube channel here!


3. Aardboiled (Bristol)


This is a platform that launched on September 25, 2017 by Aardman Studio in the UK! Dave Brain, the son of Terry Brain late director and animator of The Trap DoorChicken RunShaun the Sheep, directed and produced this along with Michael Percival, Weirdy Rhymes. Dave was the first to submit his animation series to the platform, and there are 9 more on the board so far!

Find out which creators show up on this YouTube animation hub here!


4. Smighties (India & New York)


Toonz Animation in India, along with NY Transmedia and Herotainment, came together to create a free animation YouTube channel. Smighties is based off the game created by Herotainment and follows cute creatures on their adventures! The first 3 episodes were released in July of this year in English, French and Spanish, and they have more episodes being released in more languages to come!

Watch it in all three of the current languages on YouTube here!


5. Carbot Animation (Canada)


When two worlds of animation meet, you get Carbot Animations, a YouTube channel dedicated to cartoons about games! Not long after releasing Starcraft Animations, creator Jonathan Burton received a call from Blizzard who offered him some of their resources for the future of Carbot Animations. 

Find their bi-weekly releases on YouTube here!


October 2017 Animation News Round-up!

Another end of the month, another Animation news round-up! We're highlighting a few of the happenings that went on in October, and looking forward to all the November festivities!

1. My Little Pony 

The My Little Pony toy was first developed by Hasbro in 1981! The first TV Series debuted September 15, 1986 and the first movie release was a year later on September 23, 1987. More then 20 years later the My Little Pony series was relaunched by Hasbro in 2010 and the movie released on this past October 6th!

Watch the trailer here



2. MIPCOM & MIPJunior


MIPCOM and MIPJunior took place this month in Cannes, France.  So what is MIPCOM?  It stands for "Marché International des Programmes de Communication", or "International Market of Communications Programmes".   The simplest explanation, it is a marketplace for producers, creators, and filmmakers(the sellers) to pitch and hopefully sell their story ideas to development executives, networks,  broadcasters, and distributors(the buyers).  MIPCOM is for all entertainment, and MIPJunior is specifically for kids content.  We are obviously most interested in MIPJunior, and hope to be able to attend one year.

To check out some shows that came out of MIPJunior, click here!



3. Animation Is Film Festival


Animation Is Film Festival is a new animation film festival(surprise) in Los Angeles which took place this month. There was a great line-up of animated features from all over the world. "The Breadwinner" by Nora Twomey from the Ireland Animation Studio, Cartoon Saloon, won the grand prize and audience award, and will be released into theaters around the United States on November 17th! The only other award, the special jury prize, went to the French feature "Big Bad Fox & Other Tales"! 


4. International Animation Day


The 28th October in 1892 was first public performance of Emile Reynaud’s Theatre Optique in Paris. In 2002 The International Film Association started to honor that day and deemed it as International Animation Day! Countries all over the world celebrate it with animated feature screenings, exhibitions, workshops and anything else you can think of that pertains to animation.

Look here to see what we found is happening in Los Angeles to celebrate International Animation Day!


5. Eric Miller Animation Studios at CTNX


We are getting ready for CTNX next month, and while we have attended this animation expo several times, this will be our first time with a table on the exhibit floor.  We are very excited to meet all the creative and talented artists who will be attending, and please come visit us!  We will be at table 117 which is right next to Blizzard Entertainment, and across the aisle from DreamWorks Animation.  Hope to see you all there!


Animation is Film Festival Highlights!

The Animation is Film Festival is this weekened, October 20-22, 2017, for it's very first time in LA! It is produced by GKIDS in collaboration with Annecy International Animation Film Festival, Variety, and ASIFA Hollywood to showcase animated features from all around the world. We are highlighting only a small portion of what will be playing this weekend at the festival, but glad to have the opportunity to have tickets to many of the features!


1. The Breadwinner


Based off a book by Deborah Ellis, The Breadwinner is about a young girl, named Parvana, from Afghanistan. When her father is unfairly put in prison, she had to appear as a boy in order to take care of her family. She experiences life in a new light and realizes what it meant to be a girl in Taliban-controlled Kabul. This becomes a journey of strength for her and those around her. 


The Breadwinner will be showing on October 20, 2017 @ 7:00 pm, watch the trailer here!  


2. Birdboy: The Forgotten Children


Based of a graphic novel that is set in a post-apocalyptic world, a teenager named Dinky and her friends try to escape an island in hopes to find a better life. She sets off her search not knowing that her old friend, Birdboy, is in hiding because of a deep secret he cannot let out that can change the world. 

Birdboy will be showing on October 21, 2017 @ 4:15 pm, watch the trailer here!


3. Lu Over the Wall


"A genre-mixing-mystery" about your basic mermaid who falls in love with mankind. Her adventure differs in that she joins a middle school rock band when she arrives ashore! Lu Over the Wall is one of the two animations Masaaki Yuasa has on the program, Night is Short, Walk on Girl being the second. 

Lu Over the Wall shows on October 22, 2017 @ 2:15 pm, watch the trailer here!


4. Mary and the Witch's Flower


Mary and the Witch's Flower is an animation based on a children's story called The Little Broomstick! Mary lives a normal life until she decides to follow two mysterious cats who lead her into the forest. She lifts off into the night on a broom that comes to life soon after she finds it stuck in a rare tree, and there her adventure begins. 

Mary and the Witch's Flower shows on October 22, 2017 @ 5:15 pm, watch the trailer here!


5. Songs of Love and Death

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With love and death being the themes, Women in Animation and Animation is Film co-present eleven adult oriented short films. Their mash up include both a thoughtful and funny outtake on these two subjects. 

Songs of Love and Death shows on October 22, 2017 @ 8 pm!


Check out the full list of what will be showing at the Animation is Film Festival here!


Spooky Stop-Motion Animations

We decided to dedicate this blog to some stop-motion animations that go hand in hand, with Fall, October and Halloween! No particular order, just some suggestions for family movie nights for this month!

1. Nightmare Before Christmas


If you, like Jack Skellington, "have grown tired of the same old thing"  Nightmare before Christmas may be right up your alley for animations to watch in October. Written by Tim Burton and directed by Henry Selick, this dark fantasy, stop-motion, musical was released in 1993. If you are a fan then you're in luck... the comic book sequel will be released soon!

Read more about the sequel here!


2. Coraline


Written and directed by Henry Selick and released in 2009! Coraline, a young and curious single child, is bored and feeling a bit lonely, so she explores the new home. Her discovery of the parallel universe that seems to be a dream come true at first, becomes a nightmare she needs to get out of. 

Follow some of Coraline's adventure here!


3. Wallace and Gromit: Curse of the Were-Rabbit


Wallace and Gromit was written and directed by Steve Box and Nick Park, and released in 2005! The animated series started in 1990, with The Curse of the Were-Rabbit being Nick Park's, of Aardman Animation, first feature film. It won at the 78th Academy Awards for Best Animated Feature. The second was Shaun the Sheep, released in 2015 with the sequel TBA!

Watch The Curse of the Were-Rabbit trailer here!


4. James and the Giant Peach


Written by Roald Dahl, and another one directed by Henry Selick, James and the Giant Peach was released in 1996! Though it may not be necessarily be Halloween-ish, it is pretty fit for the theme! James parents get killed by a rhinoceros and he goes to live with his evil aunts. But, the most fitting part is all the friends he makes...in a giant peach...with a bunch of insects. 

If you already saw it, it may have been a while, refresh your memory here!


5. Corpse Bride

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Written and directed by Tim Burton and released in 2006, Corpse Bride is 3rd to be produced by him but the first he directed. It's set in the 1800's in a Victorian Village, and teaches us to be very careful where we practice our vows! You may end up in the "Land of the Dead" if you were as careless as Victor was. 

Enter the "Land of the Dead" through the trailer here!


Talent Spotlight: Hayden Patterson

We're excited to introduce Hayden Patterson! He recently finished working with us as a freelance 2D Animator on one of our client projects. We had such a great time working with him we wanted to learn more about his journey as an animator. 

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Hayden grew up in the small town of West Bend in Wisconsin. Spending time outside with his siblings and reading Sunday comics were the results of his imagination and his inspiration to be a cartoonist at a very young age. Garfield, Calvin and Hobbes, and Sheldon are just a few of the comics he was inspired by, along with Looney Toons, especially "Tom and Jerry" being his visual influence. With the support of his parents and the guidance of his teacher in high school, he was able to go to school for Animation at Maryland College Institute of the Arts!

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Working at several small studios, while he was in college and over the past couple years, gave Hayden the confidence and skills he needed to move forward with his career. Some of these studios include; Moving Colour, Eskimo, and Locus New Media.  Now that he is in California it has opened even more opportunities. After working as a freelance animator at Eric Miller Animation Studios, he went on to working full time at the NFL Network doing animation and other facets of video work.

"I met Eric at The Creators Society Mixer, which helped me acclimate to LA and the professional network here. After the first one, I had to check out Eric’s studio online, and really enjoyed the content he has produced, particularly “Bink”, which is absolutely stunning, and adorable."

He loves spending his time animating, but tries to spend time outdoors as often as possible. Being in California gave him the opportunity to spend time outdoors a little differently than he did in his childhood days in Wisconsin. He surfs any moment he gets the chance as well as playing basketball and disc golf.

To check out some more of Hayden's work be sure to visit his portfolio.