Feature Film

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.

What's In a Name? How to Tell Between Films and Television

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A couple weeks ago, we posted a blog about Disney's upcoming streaming service, and how they are planning some big-name releases for it. It seems that eleven years after Netflix introduced its services, digital streaming is definitely here to stay. That is not to say, though, that its effects are not fully realized. Digital streaming has enabled a convergence of different outlets, blurring the lines between different distribution services. For any entertainment firm to survive in this new age, it needs to take steps to understand this convergence.

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Much has been said about Netflix and others' impact on filmmaking. Just a couple weeks ago, Steven Spielberg spoke about the matter, saying that films that release on streaming platforms should not be allowed to be considered for the Oscars. Instead he insisted they should only be considered for Emmy Awards. His concern grew out of the fact that it's increasingly difficult for filmmakers "to raise money, or to compete at Sundance and possibly get one of the specialty labels to release their films theatrically." Christopher Nolan has also criticized the practice, saying that it takes away from the theatrical experience.

It doesn't change the fact though that more and more, studios are turning to streaming services as more than just secondary distribution after a theatrical or television run. It's now a primary distribution outlet, with original series made by both the streaming companies and established studios. Just this year, Annihilation opened to a domestic theatrical run, while simultaneously launching on Netflix abroad. Films and television now rub elbows on computer screens around the world. As a result, they're beginning to look awfully similar...

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Take for example the question of budgets. This past December, Netflix released Bright on its platform, an urban fantasy film that cost about $90 million to produce. That's the same budget as the smash hit Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle which hit theaters about the same time. Made for TV films have historically carried far less production value than their theatrical counterparts, but that gap is starting to disappear. Even looking at serials, budgets are ballooning. For example, in season six of Game of Thrones, each episode cost roughly $10 million to make. Contrast that with films like 2017's Split, with only a $5 million budget.

Serials themselves pose a myriad of other questions. Some have neat little thirty-minute episodes that all tie together, quite distinguishable from stand-alone films. Some, however, boast hour-long episodes that feel cinematic in their own right. In any case, films often connect into series as well. How great is the difference between, say, Batman Begins/The Dark Knight/The Dark Knight Rises and Gotham episodes 1-3? And what about series, such as Black Mirror, where the episodes do not connect at all? 

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Film and television have evolved as media for decades, changing to fit their environment and viewers. The two-parter episode, the cinematic universe, so many ways have been found to manipulate the media to deliver unique experiences. In the past, they tried to distinguish themselves through methods ranging from outlandish (TV sweepstakes and better theater experiences) to the mundane (tweaking aspect ratios to be unwatchable in other formats).  The reason we should care about the convergence of television and film into streaming is because we can now find even more ways to tell better stories. Anthologies can be assembled and released simultaneously, for example. It poses new challenges as well; television producers can't listen to feedback on early parts of their seasons and use it to alter later parts, everything must be released at once.  Streaming, in a way, has become a medium of its very own, and it may be a decade or even more until its potential is realized. Like it or dislike it, it must be considered as a force to be reckoned with today.


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.

2016 Oscar Nominees

We're so excited for the 2016 Oscars this Sunday, February 28th. Take a look at some of the nominees below and let us know which movies you think will take home awards in the categories of Best Animated Feature and Best Animated Short Film! 

Nominees for Best Animated Feature

Anomalisa

Anomalisa is a stop-motion animated film that is centered around the life of an inspirational speaker who meets a woman who shakes up his boring life. This film targets an adult audience and has gotten quite a bit of attention due to how accurately it is able to portray emotions and relate to an adult audience through claymation. This drama film was released by Paramount Pictures and directed by Charlie Kaufman and Duke Johnson.

Boy and The World

This film looks at the world through a young boy's eyes. The young boy, Cuca discovers the beautiful world around him as he goes on an adventure to find his father. The story depicts the contrast between a rural village and the city. During his adventure in the city, Cuca is taken to a beautiful and abstract place. The film is almost completely silent. This movie was created in Brazil and is written, directed, and animated by Alê Abreu. 

Inside Out

A young girl named Riley has to leave her home and move to San Francisco. This movie gives you an inside look at what's going on in Riley's brain by following her emotions joy, anger, fear, disgust, and sadness. This movie is a 3-D computer animated movie which was directed by Pete Docter. This movie was produced by Pixar Animation Studios and released by Walt Disney Pictures. This is a great movie because it addresses the kind of emotions children go through as they grow up and also addresses mental health.

Shaun the Sheep Movie

This stop-motion film follows Shaun and his sheep friends on an action-packed adventure as they take on a big city and try to rescue their farmer. This movie follows a character, Shaun, who was first introduced in the Wallace and Gromit shorts. Shaun The Sheep later became a TV Series and is now a full-length feature film! It is a British film produced by Aardman Animations. 

When Marnie Was There

This is an Anime film which was written and directed by Hiromasa Yonebayashi. This film follows a young girl named Annie and how a new friend, Marnie, changes the way she perceives her life. Annie is able to discover more about her foster parents and the truth about her real family by spending time with Marnie. This movie is based on a novel by Joan G. Robinson and is produced by Studio Ghibli. 


Nominees for Best Animated Short Film

Bear Story

Bear Story is a dark film which follows the life of a lonely bear who has been separated from his family. A bear creates a mechanical diorama and people can peek into the peephole of this mechanical diorama for a coin. The diorama depicts a family who has been separated because the male was taken to the circus. This film is created by the Chilean animation company, Punkrobot. This short actually addresses the way families were torn apart during the Pinochet regime in Chile in the 1970s.

Prologue

Prologue is an animated short film which is the first part of an upcoming feature film. This short is based on the play Lysistrata by Aristophanes, which has to do with women who withhold sexual interactions from men in order to win a war. The storyline revolves around Spartan and Athenian warriors and takes place 2,400 years in the past. A little girl witnesses an intense battle between Athenian and Spartan warriors and goes back to her grandma to seek comfort. 

Sanjay's Super Team

This is a great Pixar short directed by Sanjay Patel. This movie is about a boy who wants to play with his toys and watch TV, but his dad wants him to be quiet and pray with him. Sanjay's imagination runs wild, and gets a new respect for the gods his father is praying to. The inspiration for the film comes from Sanjay's own childhood.

We Can't Live Without Cosmos

This is a dialogue-free short which follows two cosmonaut friends as they train for their mission in space. This short is fun for anyone who is interested in space or ever dreamed of becoming an astronaut. This is an animated short film written and directed by Russian filmmaker Konstantin Bronzit. 

World of Tomorrow

World of Tomorrow is sci-fi short film which was written, directed, produced, animated, and edited by Don Hertzfeld! This film follows a young girl, Emily. A clone of Emily from the future walks Emily through her life and helps her make decisions. The film has already won 42 awards, will the Oscars be it's 43rd? 

Which movies do you think will take home awards? Leave a comment below! Don't forget to tune in to the Oscars this Sunday! 

The Ten Animated Films We’re Most Looking Forward to in 2016

This year boasts a large amount of animated film releases from major studios. In fact, there are 167 animated films listed on IMDB to be released in 2016. These are the ten films we’re most looking forward to within the coming year, in order of release date.