Talent Spotlight: Evan Csulik

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We’re very excited to introduce you to Evan Csulik who started working with Eric Miller Animation Studios last month as a freelance conceptual illustrator and designer. He will be working with us to create fun, beautiful and imaginative worlds. He will mostly be creating designs for our marketing and social media, but will also help out on other projects including some of our own original ideas.

Evan grew up in Sarasota, Florida where his enthusiasm for visual story-telling, and picture making first began to grow. This love for the arts continue to grow over his lifetime. He is extremely passionate about environment design from observing the natural and man-made world.

While growing up, Evan was in love with watching cartoons from Disney, Nickelodeon, and Cartoon Network. He drew for most of his childhood in sketchbooks and doodled on post-it notes. It wasn’t until late high school he wanted to pursue his passion for art. He was accepted to Ringling College of Art and Design in 2012 and majored in illustration. It wasn’t until halfway through his time there when he realized he wanted to pursue his career in animation.

 Desert Trip - one of the first illustrations Evan created for Eric Miller Animation Studios

Desert Trip - one of the first illustrations Evan created for Eric Miller Animation Studios

 Evan is not all work and no play. In his free time, he enjoys longboarding, hiking, playing video games, and eating ice cream.

We are honored to have Evan onboard with us, and can’t wait to see what amazing worlds he creates in the coming months. Keep a lookout on our website and social media for more of his work.

You can also visit His Portfolio!

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Eric Miller Animation Studios is dedicated to crafting heartfelt stories and compelling visuals through 3D computer graphics, offering design and VFX for advertising, gaming, TV & film production.  We work with the best animation talent in the industry to deliver visually stunning imagery. Big or small, we can bring any character or story to life.

Flintstones - The Stone-Age Family Staying Modern

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Earlier this week, it was announced that Dublin-based Salty Dog Pictures partnered with Warner Brothers to produce a new spin-off series based on The Flintstones. The title of the series will be Yabba Dabba Dinosaurs!, and at the moment 24 episodes have been ordered. It's a testament to the enduring legacy of America's favorite "modern Stone-Age family", a legacy worth remembering.

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The Flintstones was the brainchild of animation giants William Hanna and Joseph Barbera. The studio was enjoying some success with characters such as Huckleberry Hound and Quick-Draw McGraw. However, that success was primarily with children. They didn't have the same full-family appeal as something like their famous comic duo Tom and Jerry. The Flintstones came about from a desire to appeal to adults again. As a result, it took a lot of inspiration from the famous sitcom The Honeymooners, focusing on the day-to-day struggles that the titular family faced in the prehistoric suburbia of Bedrock.

Funnily enough, the show was predated by a short film from Dave Fleischer called Granite Hotel. Coming out twenty years beforehand, the short introduces the audience to a variety of "modern stone-age" characters, including firemen who ride in a sauropod to their jobs. While the similarities are apparent, The Flintstones definitely pushed the concept much further. It was the first animated series to feature in a prime time slot, and to feature a married couple sharing a bed (rather than separately.)

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The first reviews were mixed, with many critics deriding the animation as "limited" and the plots as "derivative". However, it still proved a success with the public, with nearly a quarter of American households tuning in for the first season.  Much of that success drew from its constant use of anachronisms; appliances were operated by small animals, cars ran on footpower. It parodied the "American experience" that prevailed in the national consciousness of the time. The show lasted from 1960 through 1966, and ended up being the most profitable cartoon series ever; it only lost that honor to The Simpsons. By the time it lost that crown though, hindsight had already sweetened attitudes towards the show. It's now considered a classic, and in 2013 TV Guide ranked it as the second greatest cartoon of all time.

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As happens to most successful franchises, the studio obviously wanted to take the franchise even further. The Flintstones have done a lot over the past fifty-eight years of its existence. There've been spin-off series, animated movies, live-action movies, even a fully built Bedrock in Arizona. At the moment, DC Comics publishes a regular comic series based on The Flintstones that focuses on social commentary and more adult topics, in a way preserving the grown-up focus of the original series. 

With the new series now on the horizon, we will see yet another perspective on the Flintstones and their home of Bedrock. Salty Dog Pictures is going to be one more step in keeping the modern stone-age family as modern as possible.


Eric Miller Animation Studios is dedicated to crafting heartfelt stories and compelling visuals through 3D computer graphics, offering design and VFX for advertising, gaming, TV & film production.  We work with the best animation talent in the industry to deliver visually stunning imagery. Big or small, we can bring any character or story to life.

New Studio from "Brave" and "Enchanted" Director Faces Uncertain Road Ahead

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With all the talk of Walt Disney acquiring 20th Century Fox, most attention has been focused on big ticket items like James Cameron's Avatar franchise, or the remaining Marvel heroes being brought into Disney's umbrella. In the animation industry, many have been focusing on Fox Broadcasting's animation heavyweights like Family Guy or The Simpsons, and Blue Sky Studios. However, something else no less notable is getting shuffled into the mix here: a new studio coming from industry veterans Brenda Chapman and Kevin Lima named 'Twas Entertainment.

Chapman and Lima, a married pair, carry quite a long portfolio behind them. Chapman was an in-betweener on Who Framed Roger Rabbit?, directed both The Prince of Egypt and Brave, and provided story art for titles like The Little Mermaid and The Road to El Dorado. She's had writing credits on Brave, The Lion King, Beauty and the Beast, and more. Her experience with some of the leading feature animation companies will surely get name recognition for the new studio. 

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Lima's filmography also contains very impressive titles. He directed A Goofy Movie, Aladdin, and Enchanted. Before that he designed characters for The Brave Little Toaster, The Little Mermaid, and The Rescuers Down Under. Between the two of them, they've had plenty of experience with some of the most high-profile movies to be released in the 1990s. 

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As for Twas Entertainment itself, there's not too much information so far. The pair has said that their goal is to produce "family films with big heart, infectious humor and genuine intelligence." We do know that it's going to produce a combination of animated, live-action, and hybrid films. We also have a first project: The Cartoon Touch, written by both, with no plot details divulged yet. It may be a while yet to see more details, but it's certainly a title to watch. 

However, all these plans may yet be disrupted. The cited story above dates from July 23, four days before shareholders of Disney and Twentieth Century Fox voted to merge. This matters because 'Twas Entertainment currently holds a first-look deal with Fox. Might that deal complicate in the looming buyout? It's tricky to say, but if everything works out we could have a few gems coming our way in the future from Chapman and Lima.


Eric Miller Animation Studios is dedicated to crafting heartfelt stories and compelling visuals through 3D computer graphics, offering design and VFX for advertising, gaming, TV & film production.  We work with the best animation talent in the industry to deliver visually stunning imagery. Big or small, we can bring any character or story to life.

Paramount's Long Legacy of Animation is Set for Renewal

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Last week, Paramount Animation dropped the first trailer for it’s upcoming film Wonder Park, due March 15 next year. It boasts a colorful world and characters, but in true teaser fashion we get only glimpses of what the plot is going to be. Now Paramount Animation as a firm is relatively new, founded only seven years ago. However, Paramount Pictures’ role in animation has spanned nearly a century. As we look forward to Wonder Park, let’s take a look back at Paramount’s long and storied history in the medium.

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We can trace that history back all the way to the 1920s and 30s. They partnered with Fleischer Studios, and produced shorts that came to be considered iconic. Betty Boop, Popeye the Sailor, and the old Superman cartoons all came out of this era of collaboration. Over time though, the deal soured, and ownership of the shorts became (and continue to be) a legal quagmire.

More recently, Paramount also distributed films for DreamWorks Animation, a deal which started with 2006’s Over the Hedge and concluded with 2012’s Rise of the Guardians. In between they distributed such hits like Kung Fu Panda and How to Train Your Dragon, iconic and beloved films among critics and audiences. They’ve also collaborated with sister company Nickelodeon on various productions such as the Oscar-winning Rango. Paramount has had a powerful influence on the animation zeitgeist in the past, both distant and recent.

However, all of this production has been Paramount Pictures proper, the same studio that also produced live-action films. They had no specialized animation studio, until seven years ago. Since then, Paramount Animation has already had its hand in several productions. In early 2015 it made its debut with The SpongeBob Movie: Sponge Out of Water. The film was a collaboration again with Nickelodeon, and the results were good. It received critical praise, and earned over $300 million on a $75 million budget.

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Unfortunately, the two other productions released since haven’t faced the same kind of success. The live-action Monster Trucks released in early 2017, already infamous for having taken a $115 million write-down before it even hit theaters. Earlier this year, the studio then released Sherlock Gnomes, a sequel to Gnomeo and Juliet. It’s made less than $89 million on a $59 million budget. Negative hype unfortunately brought down the films and limited their success.

Wonder Park, though, is going to be intriguing. Given their current filmography, it will be the first original animated film as a studio. Keeping with their history, production is being decentralized, with animation being done by Ilion, the studio that made Planet 51. This will be a chance for Paramount Animation to set up an IP that it can truly call its own, to perhaps make a mascot akin to Illumination’s minions or DreamWork’s Shrek. It will be facing a tough year though: it comes the month after the sequel to The LEGO Movie and only two weeks after How to Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World. However, with no major animated releases scheduled afterwards until May, it will enjoy some breathing room on the latter end of release.

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And where will the studio go then? We’ve already got four more films confirmed: next up will be a movie about Sega’s mascot Sonic the Hedgehog, sure to draw in fans around the world. A third SpongeBob movie follows, with the title It’s a Wonderful Sponge. In 2020, though, is a particularly intriguing title: Monster on the Hill. It’s described as a world where monsters are tame, but enjoy wrestling for sport. A year later in 2021 comes Luck, a film about the battle between the forces of good and bad luck in our world. Certainly interesting and original premises for both films.

Paramount has a very impressive legacy in animation, and it’s good to see that they’re going to be strengthening it even more. Paramount Animation is on a “growth track” according to the parent studio; by 2021, we might just end up seeing them as a leading competitor in feature animation. There’s a lot of history behind them, but a whole lot more waiting before them too. Wonder Park may just unlock a world of wonder from Paramount Animation.


Eric Miller Animation Studios is dedicated to crafting heartfelt stories and compelling visuals through 3D computer graphics, offering design and VFX for advertising, gaming, TV & film production.  We work with the best animation talent in the industry to deliver visually stunning imagery. Big or small, we can bring any character or story to life.

The Legacy of DisneyToon Studios

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This past week, news broke that The Walt Disney Company intended to immediately close down down DisneyToon Studios. According to IndieWire, the move will lead to the layoffs of 75 animators and staff. It's yet uncertain whether the company will hire them back through Walt Disney Animation or Pixar Animation. With the studio folding, why don't we take a look back at its eclectic history?

DisneyToon Studios was founded in 1990 as Disney MovieToons, a division of Walt Disney Television Animation. It would enable the company as a whole to diversify its output more. The first production came out later that year as a collaboration with Disney Animation France: DuckTales the Movie: Treasure of the Lost Lamp. Over the years the studio worked on other projects such as A Goofy Movie (1995), the holiday anthology Mickey's Once Upon a Christmas (1999), and The Tigger Movie (2000). By working on projects separate from Walt Disney Animation Studios, Disney MovieToons provided an additional source of income for The Walt Disney Company (gosh that's a lot of Disney). They also produced movies that have become beloved, such as Goofy Movie which has seen a resurgence in nostalgic popularity.

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Another key aspect of the studio's filmography was the Disney sequel phase. In 1994 they released The Return of Jafar direct-to-video, a sequel to the 1992 Disney Animation film Aladdin. They went on to produce the sequels of Beauty and the Beast, The Lion King, Lady and the Tramp, Cinderella, and more. It was during this rush that the company reorganized. Disney MovieToons was transitioned from television to feature animation, and renamed DisneyToon Studios in 2003. Now the sequels primarily faced a direct-to-video release, and as a result didn't have high budgets. They must have made money though, because a lot were produced. In the first half of the aughts, the studio released an average of four movies a year. In fact, in 2005, they released a whopping FIVE MOVIES within the calendar year.

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Things began to change though after Disney purchases Pixar Animation. Leadership was shuffled around, and several pending sequel projects were canceled at DisneyToons. Instead, the studio entered a new phase: the Disney Fairies franchise. In 2008, the studio released Tinker Bell straight to video. Overall they've released six movies in the franchise, the last coming out in 2015, which was also their last release. They briefly returned to sequels with 2013's Planes, based off of Pixar's Cars franchise, and 2014's Planes: Fire and Rescue. 

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The studio has had a long filmography, and while they've only been around less than three decades, they've certainly proved industrious in that time. So why did it shut down? Disney's been shuffling their studios around a bit following the departure of John Lasseter from the company, with new leadership taking over at Pixar and Walt Disney Animation. When it came to look at DisneyToons though, it has faced a tough market recently.

It's well-known for its straight-to-video productions. Video, however, has been facing a tough time lately. Digital streaming is more pervasive than ever. What's telling is that their last five movies have all been theatrical releases, even if only limited releases. Their last direct-to-video release was in 2010. Their primary market has vanished, and in a theatrical landscape dominated by "event" movies, there is only a small niche market for Tinker Bell: The Pirate Fairy. It's death by economics. There's a lot of talent there though, and it's worth seeing where they will end up and what they're going to do next.


Eric Miller Animation Studios is dedicated to crafting heartfelt stories and compelling visuals through 3D computer graphics, offering design and VFX for advertising, gaming, TV & film production.  We work with the best animation talent in the industry to deliver visually stunning imagery. Big or small, we can bring any character or story to life.

Apple Eyes Partnership with Cartoon Saloon

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Last Thursday, major news hit the animation scene. Tech giant Apple announced its intent to produce a feature-length animated film. Apple has been starting to offer its own original content, and the news is that they're in talks with Cartoon Saloon for a production that could possibly even get a theatrical release. Not only does this signal a player with major financial resources coming into the industry, but it also demonstrates a trend of convergence happening among media.

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Apple's brand needs no introduction: the smartphone/computer giant has been the talking point of the economy for decades. Cartoon Saloon, however, also has its own impressive accolades. The Irish studio has compiled a filmography including The Secret of the Kells, Song of the Sea, and The Breadwinner. All three films earned nominations for the Best Animated Feature Academy Award, and won several other awards. Apple has not yet struck a deal with them; however, the fact that they are approaching signals that Apple wants to hit hard with this film. Partnering with a studio who produces such critical hits could help give them a reputation for quality.

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Now this isn't the first time Apple has had connections to major animation projects. After leaving Apple in the 1980s, Steve Jobs famously bought the computing department of LucasFilm and converted it into Pixar. The studio just set the record this past weekend for the biggest opening of an animated movie with $180 million. Apple's imprint on the animation world is still being felt - and now they could be making another one if the deal with Cartoon Saloon goes through.

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This goes beyond just Apple and Cartoon Saloon though. This is part of a massive convergence of the media market. Distributors like Netflix have been making original programs for years now, and Amazon is planning to join in. Disney, a content provider, is preparing its own distribution network. Now Apple, the hardware company with two distribution channels to its name (iTunes and Apple TV) plans to step into the ring of content. It's a process of vertical integration: if firms can control each stage of the process, from content creation to viewer consumption, they can tweak the experience to be unique and exclusive. It's a key part of an industry unlike any other. Consumer goods can compete on cost and speed; media relies on selling an experience that no one else can match.

Apple's steps into animation aren't for sure yet, but even then they've made waves. Partnering with Cartoon Saloon could potentially give them a stellar opening into the industry. If all goes to plan, the film will release in 2019, a short timeline; if they manage a theatrical release, then 2020 could see an Apple-brand film submitted for Academy consideration. It also shows a new content producer coming in from distribution - and more content is always a boon for audiences. We should make sure to keep our eye on Apple, and see what comes of this potential partnership.


Eric Miller Animation Studios is dedicated to crafting heartfelt stories and compelling visuals through 3D computer graphics, offering design and VFX for advertising, gaming, TV & film production.  We work with the best animation talent in the industry to deliver visually stunning imagery. Big or small, we can bring any character or story to life.

A Celebration of Video Game Animation

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This year's E3, or Electronic Entertainment Expo, wrapped up yesterday. The event offered an opportunity for game developers to show off their upcoming titles, recent technology breakthroughs, and so much more. Fans descended in droves upon the convention, and millions more tuned in online. Interactive entertainment has grown into a massive industry, and forms one of the most visible components of the animation industry in general. With E3 so fresh in our minds, it's worth taking a look at video games and celebrate the unique qualities that make it such an important part of the animation field.

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For one thing, video games are most likely to be consumed by general audiences within the United States. Animated feature films and animated series are often discounted as primarily family-friendly media, or else as crude adult entertainment. There are precious few PG-13 or TV-14 productions in animation. However, people who might turn up their nose at animated films and series often are happy to play a video game.  It could be a complex historical simulator, or a simple puzzle game. It might require a top-notch PC, or it could run on your phone. It might take twenty hours to complete, or twenty minutes. People of all types and all ages find video games that they enjoy. It's boosted the domestic industry to a  worth of $18.4 billion as of 2017. That's over $18 billion of animated works reaching players just within the United States! Compare that to a domestic film industry worth of $38 billion in 2016. While that's higher, only a fraction of that includes animation.

The video game industry isn't just incredibly lucrative though. The structure of the industry also allows smaller publishers to compete with larger ones, especially when it comes to PCs. In all media industries, distribution can lead to gatekeeping. Movie theaters only have so many screens, and thus have to pick and choose which films will draw the biggest audiences. Television channels only have twenty-four hours to fit programming into. With video games though, there are very few restrictions about how many titles can be put into a digital store. Personal projects are free to compete beside the prestigious AAA titles, the "blockbusters" of the gaming world. Platforms such as Steam allow anyone to sell their work, and sites such as itch.io tout plenty of indie titles. Promotion may rely on social media, paid advertisements, or sheer word of mouth. Some of the most popular channels on YouTube, for example, feature people playing video games. Being featured in a video often drives up business for people who may not otherwise have the budget for a marketing campaign.

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Because the gates to success are so much more open, and because the audience is so wide, a spectacular variety of video games may emerge - and they have. You have the colorfully energetic Super Mario Odyssey which won over players last fall; you have the photorealistic Detroit: Become Human that's winning over players since this past May. All kinds of styles can be seen on display. There's even room for experimentation. Pop-culture sensation Undertale used a pixelated style that hearkened back to the old arcade games of the past. Last year's Cuphead caused a stir with its hand-drawn animation, an endeavor that its creators mortgaged their house to create — and a gamble that thankfully paid off. If you can think of a visual style, there's a game out there that uses it. And if you can't find it, you can make it.

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One of the most remarkable things about games though is the way that they blend art and science. Some of the first computer games were text based, essentially codes-for-fun. As computers became more and more powerful, text became replaced with visuals — and that's where animation began to get its foothold in a powerful new industry. Improved codes allowed for more intricate gameplay, and improved computer animation allowed for more immersive gameplay. The result has yet to be fully explored. Entire classes can be found that focus on the psychology behind video games, how they work, and how they can be made more fulfilling. Developers are always looking for ways to get players to keep coming back, through both artistic craft and scientific understanding.

Animation for interactive media is such a unique part of the industry, and it's a part of the industry that's growing more and more. Major studios are funneling hundreds of millions behind big-name projects, and individuals are putting out new work every day online. As technology grows, video game animation will grow with it, and we'll be here to see it. All eyes are already turning to E3 2019, to see the newest chapter unfold. 


Eric Miller Animation Studios is dedicated to crafting heartfelt stories and compelling visuals through 3D computer graphics, offering design and VFX for advertising, gaming, TV & film production.  We work with the best animation talent in the industry to deliver visually stunning imagery. Big or small, we can bring any character or story to life.

Rooster Teeth, Other Texas Animators Growing Strong

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Several states in the nation offer incentives to media producers. Texas is one of those states. Through the government's support, a thriving industry has sprouted up within Texas — especially a thriving animation industry. In fact, the state itself provides a hotline for animation jobs available in Texas. Animation has become a strong part of the Texan economy, both through direst employment and also through indirect effects.

One of the best examples is Rooster Teeth, based out of Austin, Texas, and has been around for fifteen years. Originally the producers focused on video game reviews, but began to branch out into non-game content around 2003. They produce animated series for Internet viewers: popular titles include Red vs. Blue, RWBY, and Camp Camp. They even have divisions dedicated to producing games and podcasts as well. Live-action content is part of the mix too, providing a diverse portfolio of content that has garnered them incredible success - success that is only growing.

Just last week, Rooster Teeth made headlines when it announced that none other than Michael B. Jordan will be joining forces with the studio for gen:LOCK, a new anime-style series. Jordan has built up his reputation as an actor lately, and just this year appeared in Marvel’s smash hit Black Panther as the main antagonist. He commands a lot of starpower, and hints at the increasing prestige of Rooster Teeth as a studio, as well as online animation as a medium.

Rooster Teeth doesn't just attract the attention of top-notch Hollywood talent though. It has also gathered a base of devoted fans. Across their YouTube channels they’ve gathered up to 38 million subscribers according to The Wall Street Journal. Besides this free audience though, they also have two hundred thousand people who pay a monthly subscription for exclusive content, and early-access to the rest. In fact, every year Rooster Teeth hosts RTX, an annual convention devoted entirely to the studio. The event draws sixty-five thousand people annually to the Austin area. That brings people to local venues and shops, thus giving a boost to the local economy in general.

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Now not every studio in Texas has the kind of celebrity that Rooster Teeth does, but they still form an integral part of the local entertainment industry. Hundreds of jobs are created at animation studios, especially plenty of stable jobs. The Texas Film Commission has only limited resources to give out, and those resources are determined by political winds. Live-action productions might receive funding, but because of their quick turn-around time, work is finished quickly and then funding may be denied thanks to new attitudes in the state legislature. Animated productions inherently take more time though. Once the state has agreed to fund a project, then that funding persists through the duration of the production. As a result, animation is more insulated from shifting political attitudes, and more stable as an industry within Texas.

Texan animation does have some stiff competition. Besides Hollywood, Canada and Georgia have stronger subsidies for studios. However, Texas does boast lower living costs coupled with vibrant metropolitan areas. It's a strong area to consider for animators seeking employment. With such a well-established animation community already in place, the state looks to be a hotbed of excitement in the near future.

May's News in Animation!

We're always excited to share all the new productions of the worldwide animation industry with you.  As we near the end of May, we round-up a few updates that were announced this month.

 

1. 'Missing Link'

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Though Laika is constantly pushing forward with cutting-edge technology, their colorful style in physical stop-motion remains the same in their newest animated feature Missing Link. Led by director Chris Butler, Missing link is a comedy-adventure about Sir Lionel Frost, a monster investigator, and, the "monster" himself, Mr. Link.

No trailer has been revealed yet, but read more about Missing Link here!

 

2. 'Popeye' on YouTube!

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Popeye, the 89 year old sailor, has a series coming out on YouTube!  King Features Syndicate, which handles the Popeye franchise licensing, made a pact with Wildbrain for this development.  They will take over management for "Popeye and Friends Official" YouTube channel and will be responsible for the new content.  A decade later, The launch is scheduled for 2019 - stay tuned on our social media platforms for more info!

 

3. 'Disenchantment' on Netflix

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Matt Groening’s animated fantasy series is being described as "if The Simpsons and Futurama had a baby," and it was announced to premiere on Netflix in August 2018! No official trailer has been released for it, but their first tweet, posted on May 22, gave us a teaser shot - and with no surprise, this animated series targets adults.

 
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4. French Animation Film Festival 

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The 7th edition of the French Animation Film Festival had its opening day on May 23, 2018!  One of the animations being screened this year, seen above, is called features a blend of anime and street art truly makes this feature a French-Japanese animation. 

There is also a Workshop on "Stop-Motion Animation", a couple of talks, and many other screenings! See the full list here

 

5. Boomerang Unveils...

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Scooby-Doo and Guess Who? and Yabba-Dabba Dinosaurs!  Boomerang is reviving some old-time animations into new productions, to be released in 2019!  In the new series, the Mystery Inc. gang resumes their detective work with some celebrity guests.  Meanwhile, Pebbles, Bamm Bamm and Dino have some new adventures of their own. 

 

There is so much more being announced, especially as we near Summer 2018! Stayed tuned on our social media platforms for a daily dose of the animation industry news. 

 
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Eric Miller Animation Studios is dedicated to crafting heartfelt stories and compelling visuals through 3D computer graphics, offering design and VFX for advertising, gaming, TV & film production.  We work with the best animation talent in the industry to deliver visually stunning imagery. Big or small, we can bring any character or story to life.

Arabian Animation on the Upswing

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Earlier this week an article made its way online titled "Why animation and storytelling are growing in Saudi Arabia." This draws attention to a rapidly changing marketplace: the Saudi Kingdom. Before we talk about this specific article, a recap is warranted of how Saudi Arabia is transforming. 

Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman has made headlines the past couple years for the sweeping reforms he's pressed for throughout the nation. It's part of his Saudi Vision 2030, a plan to bolster non-petroleum industries, living standards, and the nation's culture. Last September, the ban on women driving was lifted; several state enterprises have been privatized. Most relevant to this blog though, just this year the ban on cinemas was lifted.

Since the 1980s, the kingdom forbid public cinemas. Hardline clerics warned that it'd lead to immorality and other ills. However, the clerics have watched their political leverage wane over the past few years. Mohammad bin Salman pushed ahead, and in January The Emoji Movie was shown on a makeshift screen, the first public screening in decades. It took a few months for an actual cinema to be built, but last month, an AMC in the capital city of Riyadh screened Black Panther, thus marking a brand new era for Saudi entertainment. 

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Now that's not to say that the Saudi people have been cut off from entertainment altogether. Out-of-theater distribution, such as DVDs and digital streaming, has been popular for years. Plus, people with the means to do so simply traveled to neighboring nations to visit the cinemas there. It's also worth noting that films entering the country still have to pass certain censorship requirements. At the very least though, it's a step forward - and potentially a lucrative opportunity. More cinemas are being built. If Vision 2030 is successful, and living standards rise, more people will have money to spend on entertainment. That could mean healthy box office takes for any film that manages to get into the country. That's especially good news for animators, who put together effects for the biggest blockbusters and create animated films that already win over global audiences.

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It's not just news for international animators though. Saudi Arabia has its own artists, ready and eager to show off to audiences. That leads back to the article mentioned at the beginning of this post. For example, Verve Studios, established in 2015, has thirty "partners" that it works with to deliver animation. At Effat University, an all-female school, a major is now offered in Visual and Digital Production. It's the first filmmaking major to be offered in Saudi Arabia. The article also talks about Samaher Bantan, who mentions companies asking animators for "an ad or a video for their websites." An animation community already exists in the kingdom; the ground is being laid for it to expand even more.

The resources are cropping up, and animation is being given room to breathe and spread its wings. There are still twelve years to go in Saudi Vision 2030, but by the end of those twelve years we may see a country that, among other things, loves and celebrates animation as much as anyone else. It's worth keeping an eye on, to see what else may come next.


Eric Miller Animation Studios is dedicated to crafting heartfelt stories and compelling visuals through 3D computer graphics, offering design and VFX for advertising, gaming, TV & film production.  We work with the best animation talent in the industry to deliver visually stunning imagery. Big or small, we can bring any character or story to life.