Francis Francis Scene Progression

Progression of a scene Bryce McGovern animated for Dreamworks 'The Boss Baby'.

From the layout that we get launched on, through final animation and lighting. Of course, all images are copyright Dreamworks Animation, and intended for educational purposes only.

DreamWorks Animation Faces 170 Additional Layoffs

From AWN: Cuts come as DWA continues to be integrated into NBCUniversal following its acquisition by Comcast, and just two months after the studio eliminated 200 positions at its Glendale campus and in its distribution and consumer products operations.

DreamWorks Animation will lay off 170 more employees at its Glendale campus in January, according to a report by the San Fernando Valley Business Journal. The cuts come as DWA continues to be integrated into NBCUniversal following its acquisition by Comcast earlier this year, and just two months after the studio eliminated 200 positions at its Glendale campus and in its distribution and consumer products operations.

DreamWorks Animation Sale Finalized, Katzenberg Sees $391M Payday

According to AWN... Former DWA CEO Jeffrey Katzenberg bids staffers goodbye, walking away with more than 10 times the compensation than the next-highest-ranking studio employee, studio president Ann Daly.

Comcast’s $3.8 billion purchase of DreamWorks Animation closed on Monday, according to a report by the Los Angeles Times, with former DWA CEO Jeffrey Katzenberg bidding staffers goodbye in a memo sent to employees on Monday morning.

Katzenberg also received a more than $391 million cash-out package, with the animation studio founder (along with principals Steven Spielberg and David Geffen) reportedly walking away with ten times more money than the next-highest-ranking studio employee, DWA president Ann Daly. According to a regulatory filing, the “ginormous” payday was compensation for a total of 9,186,260 shares Katzenberg held via direct ownership, a trust, and a series of entities he owns with his wife, Marilyn -- which netted a total of $376.6 million -- as well as one million shares priced at $24.28 a share and at $35.30 a share and worth an additional $14.9 million.

More here...

DreamWorks Animation Loses Money For the Second Quarter in a Row

DreamWorks Animation reported a loss of $15.4 million in the second fiscal quarter, the second consecutive quarterly loss for the company. It reported earnings per share of -$0.18, a result worse than analysts had expected that sent the company's stock down nine percent in after-hours trading.


More insider info on the TAG Blog: The quotes below were lifted from the TAG Blog.  Does anyone really believe the business model will change?  What do you think will happen if it does?

But of course, all these things take time. And as one DreamWorker said to me away from the studio:

"The company needs to get the costs of features down. Management doesn't seem to want to restructure at the top and upper middle very much, which is where it would help a lot. Production is supposed to squeeze and cut. I'm not sure how well that will work. ..."

And Jeffrey speaks to that issue:

We are also exploring the opportunities of actually making some films -- some original films on a very different scale altogether, where it's not incremental changes in the film cost, but the concepts of the movies and the style with which we would make them would have us working on a very different business model.

Dreamworks Animation Layoffs

As DreamWorks Animation Television continues to hire, DreamWorks Animation's feature division continues to shed jobs. Last Monday and Tuesday, an estimated forty to fifty DWA employees were called in for one-on-one meetings and informed their services would no longer be required.

via TAG Blog

The Physics of Animation

Computer animation in feature-films is a modern-day nexus of art and science. Professor Alejandro Garcia developed and teaches "Physics of Animation", a science course for visual artists. During 2011, he took a professional leave and worked in Dreamworks Animation's department of Artistic Development as a physics consultant on "Madagascar 3: Europe's Most Wanted." Hear Professor Garcia discuss the animation industry from both the scientific and artistic perspectives.

How to Train your Dragon - Sneak Peek

First look at the upcoming How to Train Your Dragon arena show set to open in Melbourne and Sydney next March.  The production will recreate the successful DreamWorks adaptation of book series, complete with 24 animatronic dragons constructed by Creature Technology Company of Walking with Dinosaurs — The Arena Spectacular fame.

Tim Johnson talks about How to Train your Dragon sequel and TV series

This is possibly the most informative interview I have seen with one of the big key frame studios. They usually are more secretive about future directors and projects.  Good stuff.

Dreamworks makes Alma a Feature

Animator Rodrigo Blaas created the animated short Alma on his own time while working at Pixar. The film has been optioned for a feature treatment by Dreamworks.  Blaas is hired to direct Alma and co-direct Trollhunters.

If you haven’t seen Alma before, check it out above.

Disney Unites With Dreamworks

Disney finalizes DreamWorks deal

Will handle distribution, marketing for six pics a year

By Carl DiOrio

Feb 9, 2009, 12:20 PM ET

DreamWorks' Disney deal is done. Disney said Monday that the studio has agreed to enter into an exclusive "long-term distribution arrangement" with DreamWorks. "Under the terms of this arrangement, Disney will handle distribution and marketing for approximately six DreamWorks films each year," the studios said in a joint release. "The first DreamWorks motion picture to be released under the Touchstone Pictures banner is scheduled to hit theaters in 2010." The deal follows Friday's surprise announcement that Universal and DreamWorks had been unable to finalize their previously announced distribution arrangement. DreamWorks brass bolted Paramount in October to re-establish DreamWorks as a privately operated company. Reliance Big Entertainment has pledged $325 million to the venture, and JPMorgan Securities is leading a loan syndication that targets raising another $325 million by March 31.


Animation Do's and Don'ts

The 2006 animation market was beyond saturated. It was flooded. Some might even say it burst. Of the dozen animated feature films released this year only Pixar's "Cars" — with voices provided by Owen Wilson and Paul Newman — made it onto the top ten list of best grossing animated films of all time (at a less than mind-blowing Number 8). And several of the films — "The Ant Bully," "The Wild," and "Curious George" were busts.

So take a look back with the New York Times at a year in animation saturation as we learn what did and didn't work in a world of talking ants, precocious monkeys, silly hedgehogs and dancing penguins.

DO BET ON PIXAR. “Cars” didn’t deliver as big as some hoped; with an opening weekend of $60 million the film did significantly less business than “Finding Nemo” and “The Incredibles.” But the film was still the most successful animated picture of the year, thereby keeping the studio’s reputation mostly intact.

(Buena Vista Home Entertainment)

DON’T COUNT ON ANTS. America’s love affair with talking bugs — “A Bug’s Life,” “Antz” — has officially ended. So when “The Ant Bully” — a film about a young boy and ant terrorizor who gets shrunken down to insect size — hit theaters in July, the resulting box office numbers were minimized too. The opening weekend’ $8 million and the total gross — $28 million were ant-sized as well.

(Warner Bros.)

DO UTILIZE PENGUINS. Penguins are so hot right now! Thanks to the anthropomorphizing effect of the live action “March of the Penguins” we are more ready than ever to accept that these little upright buggers can talk and/or sing and/or dance. Director George Miller took this idea to the bank when his film “Happy Feet” opened to a very respectable $41 million last month. (Warner Bros.)

DON’T GIVE MALE COWS UDDERS. Our film critic Carina Chocano was so distracted by the prominent wiggling udders on the male cows in "Barnyard:The Original Party Animals" (which she says look “like rubber toilet plungers with four wobbly cocktail weenies attached”) that she found it difficult to judge the movie on the normal elements-plot, humor, direction, etc. Audiences apparently agreed. The film’s opening weekend yielded an adequate, though hardly impressive $19 million. (Paramount)

DO MAKE A SEQUEL. “Shrek 2” is the highest grossing animated film of all time, and in fact three of the ten biggest animated money-makers are sequels. We were reminded of this truism when “Ice Age: The Meltdown” grossed $60 million it’s opening weekend and became one of the first big box office hits of the year.
(Blue Sky Studios)

DO GO REAL D. We think 3D is the coolest thing in the world (along with glow-in-the-dark and octopi) so we’re willing to concede some biased-ness, but “Monster House,” a modest film with some biggish name talent (Jason Lee, Maggie Gyllenhaal, Kevin James), was pretty freakin’ awesome. And with a modestly impressive $22 million open, we can almost feel comfortable saying audiences agree with us. (Columbia Pictures)

DON’T DO A REMAKE. American audiences may not be the brightest, but they can occasionally spot when they are being fed the same story at the movie theaters and they don’t like it. This year’s “The Wild” about an unlikely group of animals that escape from the zoo was a little too similar to 2005’s “Madagascar” about an unlikely group of animals that escape from the zoo. And so nobody saw “The Wild.” (Disney Enterprises)

DO MESS WITH TOM CRUISE. Matt Stone and Trey Parker, the masterminds behind Comedy Central’s “South Park” used this trick to great effect in March, when the network decided not to re-run an episode called “Trapped in the Closet’ that made fun of Cruise and Scientology. The result? Lots of publicity generated and one Emmy nomination received. (Comedy Central)

DON’T THINK TOO WHOLESOME. Animation is almost always wholesome, (in this country at least) but sometimes films come along that are so wholesome they read babyish, even to kids who are still practically babies. “Doogal,” a film whose plot points include three magic diamonds, an evil sorcerer named Zeebad and a candy loving mutt is one of those movies. It grossed a negligible $3 million its opening weekend even with the voice talents of Jimmy Fallon, Jon Stewart, and Chevy Chase. (Stewart was the sorcerer). (The Weinstein Company)

DO MAKE A LIVE ACTION VERSION OF YOUR OPENING SEQUENCE. Remember last spring when somebody sent you the Youtube clip of the Simpsons title sequence, except it was all live action and it blew your mind?!? That was awesome. (Fox)

Original Source: CTN newsletter


Cartoon Brew posted this a couple days ago,
but it made me laugh so hard
I had to put it here for posterity as well
and in case folks missed it.
Created by Alex Whittington.

Outside the House

Flushed Away Interview with Jason Spencer-Galsworthy

Having worked several years at Aardman as a “Clay” animator, Jason moved to LA where he did the transition to digital at DreamWorks Animation where he’s recently contributed work on Shrek 2 among others. Jason talks about his work as Supervising Animator on “Flushed Away”, the first collaboration between two industry powerhouses, Aardman Animation and DreamWorks Animation.

CGC: At ADAPT, you talked about the transition Aardman has done from Clay animation to CG. How hard was the transition for you?

Jason: Not that hard technically, I think that animation is animation whatever medium you are using. When it comes to using the computer for the first time, you just have to trust in the things that you know to be important about animation and film making, and then just be really stubborn and keep bashing your fists against the keyboard until you get what you want. At first it is a battle - but personally I make a rule never to loose an 'animate fight' against an in-animate object. I'm a stubborn animator and I won't stop until I feel that the character I am animating is alive and breathing on the screen in front of me. But there is another useful perspective that I call 'listening to the puppet'. I had this in Stop Motion and took with me to CG. A puppet has a size and shape that create restrictions in the way that it can move, and differences in the way that it controls screen space. These 'limitations' are big golden keys to the character behind the puppet and should be listened to always.


Talking-animal movies are ruining my life

Talking-animal movies are ruining my life
Our feisty columnist has some advice for Hollywood studio executives

By Dave White

Updated: 12:31 p.m. PT Nov 1, 2006

Dear Hollywood,

Why are you so lame? Why don’t you have a single original idea left in your collective head? Why do you hate audiences? Why do you continue to crank out by-the-numbers animated films that hold ticket-buying families and animation fans in contempt while trying to sell them tie-in merchandise at the same time?

Why do “Madagascar” and “The Wild” and “Open Season” and “Flushed Away” all have the same plot? How many domesticated menageries of circle-of-life-defying zoo pals actually find themselves tossed into the wilderness on a regular basis, learning the true meaning of family and home in the process?


The modern day princess? Casting for Animation

Angie here, I have never been a fan of Dreamworks' approach to casting for their movies. It always seemed to be about who is the hot actor of the week or big name in Hollywood...rather than who might be best cast for the character??? It seems Dreamworks only cares about a BIG name to get folks into the theaters. But, I tell ya for Shrek 3 I am actually kind of interested to see what happens with the spin on voice casting for the princesses. It "might" make for some really unique scenes for female roles in animation and sure to bring more comic relief to a very stuffy and stale role. I am not talking about character design here. I think all of the other blogs out there have reamed the princess image enough. I am just talking about story here and female roles as a princess within the story. Until Mulan, there had not been one single female character outside of Alice in Wonderland that I identified with in most animated features. I am very girlie, I love pink, and you will never mistake me for a tom boy; but the whole princess needs a man to justify her whole existence just has never jived with me.

Quote from USA Today Article : "They are used to being rescued, not defending the kingdom themselves," says Chris Miller, director of the second sequel in the computer-animated franchise that has grossed nearly $1.5 billion worldwide. "Fiona has to convince them to shed that role and save their own happily ever after."

Amy Poehler is Snow White

Maya Rudolph is Rapunzel

Cherie Oteri is Sleeping Beauty

Amy Sedaris is Cinderella

I have discussed the importance of casting with other animator friends and some feel it doesn't's all about what the animator does with the voice. I disagree completely.

Milt Kahl talks about casting for Medusa in The Rescurers in a paper from the 70's (I only have the talk in print form and cannot find it online anywhere - sorry). He spoke of how Geraldine Page really pushed him as an animator with her delivery of lines for the character - Medusa.

Geraldine Page: voice of Medusa in The Rescurers

Milt said,

"If Medusa comes across it's also because the actress (voice) has a great deal to do with it. Geraldine Page is the voice. She's a magnificent actress. She forces you to 'plus' things. For instance, when she says that line 'Hightide or not, that little brat is going to find me that diamond TOMORROW!' she says everything with such intensity and hits all these words so hard that I had to find things for her to do where she could physically punch these words. You wouldn't want her to say that line and simply shake her fist. But it takes something physical like that. So I had to find extra things for her to do that she could do forcibly in order to put the guts in the animation that's in the dialogue. I found that instead of just sitting down on the stool, I have her pick up the stool which gives and accent there. She then slams it down in a new place and sits down on it and then has to jump it up to the dressing table. It gives you things that you can 'punch.' On the word 'tomorrow,' she takes one of her earrings off and slams it on the dressing table and we'll have a 'clackety-clack-clack' on the sound track."

Medusa Character from The Rescurers

In my own experience, I have found great little things the voice actor gave me to add subtlety and subtext to the scene. Melanie Griffith seems to clear her throat a little bit after delivering every line. She has this girlish way about her when you watch the footage as she does it. I tried to add that in my Margalo scene for Stuart Little 2 when she says "Well that was just talk and this is the real thing, hmmpf."

Another great little tidbit from the Milt Kahl discussion...he said:

You know this woman, Geraldine Page, is remarkable. I wasn't on the stage, but they had her in to find out whether they wanted to use her and whether or not she wanted to do it. They had this dialogue written which she didn't follow exactly. I heard this thing and thought, 'My god, this is the gal! This is your character!' I found about 100 feet there from the time she walks in until the time she left. I was really anxious to get going on this thing. That was the first stuff I did. There was one line that I toyed around with doing a little differently than I did, but she (Page) would have to say the line differently. I asked for the out-takes, thinking maybe she had said it in a different way in one of them, and there weren't any out-takes. This was her first time through it. Imagine that! That's quite amazing, really. This woman is terribly talented. For instance, when she says 'You are too soft,' she says, 'You are too soff--teh!' To think of that off the top of her head going through stuff for the first time I think is damn creative. This is what makes a great actress, really. I have nothing but respect for her. If the character Medusa is successful, you have to give a great deal of the credit to her. In the first place it's half the performance. In the second place, she compels you to get more out of your animation than you would otherwise.

So, hopefully some of these comedians will bring a new angle to the traditional animated princess? I find it an interesting choice that they have SNL comedians playing the roles of the princesses. Could bring a whole new light into what a modern day princess would really be like? Cheers Ang