A whole host of animated individuals are currently
swanning around Devon
at this year's Animated
Exeter. And amongst them is the Hound's pal, writer
comedian, and all-round nice guy Alan Gilbey.
Alan is running two animation
writing workouts this year ( Feb 20 and 21 ) and tonight,
he's presenting a
brand new Toon Trivia Quiz in the bar of the Exeter
Picture House, which is
being duly sponsored by Toonhound. So if you're
in the area, you can drop
by to win a rather tasty selection of cartoon
goodies, donated by Yours Truly.
Of course, many folks won't be able to attend,
but never fear because Alan's
also running a little Giveaway on
his web site. The question's not quite as
simple as it sounds, though, so you might want
to check by Toonhound's Trumpton
page before answering!
Alan is much in demand for his writing skills,
and he's working on several
exciting series which the Hound is desperate to shout
about. But alas, it's all
as secret as "The Secret Show" right
now (Grr!). Still, his web site is an
excellent little resource for animation writers
Meanwhile, theeres the main event in Exeter (13th
- 25th Feb). This year's
schedule includes a variety of useful workshops,
a screening Yuri Norstein’s
Russian classic "Tale of Tales", an excellent
exhibition entitled "Illustration to
Animation", a talk
by artist/illustrator Alan Lee, and a fantastic screening of
"The Snowman" accompanied by the Devon Youth
Orchestra and Exeter
Cathedral Choir which is guaranteed to leave fans
walking on air...
Tony Collingwood dropped us a line today. He wanted
to pass on the latest
good news regarding "The Secret Show".
Victor Volt and Anita Knight are
on a mission to take CBBC by storm when their
52 x 12min series
launches this Autumn. And
they're all set for international success too,
because BBC Worldwide have now licensed 26 episodes
in the USA. The series will air over there some time
in January 2007.
And to celebrate the sale, Tony's sneaked a couple more
images out to the Hound...
The Hound has passed on secret news about this
show a couple
of times already, but in case you've been out
of the loop, "The Secret
Show" sets up a series of impossibly-difficult
missions for Britain's
very best, and very secret, secret agents. Each
episode is stuffed with
gadgets, gags and goofiness, in the best tradition
of James Bond,
Austen Powers and any number of ITC serials. And
with Tom Cruise
set to storm cinemas again this Summer with M:I3, it
Victor and Anita will be arriving with pinpoint timing. You
say, the spy's the limit...
Phew-ee! - Awards Season continues unabated this
week with the
announcement of the 2006 BAA nominees. The
British Animation Awards
celebrate all things Great and British about the
industry. Now this celebration
is most distinctly British in that a) it encompasses
animated creations in all
their forms, including features, short films,
animated graphics for film and
television, television series and specials, music videos
and b) folks don't just pick up shiny trophies.
Instead, they collect fantastic
pieces of shiny framed artwork created by their industry
And this being the BAAs, that artwork usually
incorporates sheep. It's a
fabulous notion, and every time the event comes around
pleasure to be had in viewing the new art, and seeing
responsible for each piece...
But enough of this preamble. Here are some key
categories for you:
Best Animated Feature Film
Wallace & Gromit: Curse of the Were-Rabbit
The Corpse Bride
Belleville Rendez Vous
Best Children's Series
King Arthur's Disasters: Circus Calamity
Pingu’s Sledge Academy
Those Scurvy Rascals: Pants Odyssey
Best TV special
The Little Reindeer
Frank and Buster's Christmas in the Outback
Angry Kid: Who do you think you are?
Best Children's Pre-school Series
Charlie and Lola: I Want To Play Music Too
Meg and Mog: Meg’s Fancy Dress Director
Peppa Pig: Mummy Pig at Work
Bromwell High: Baby Boom
Creature Comforts: Monarchy Business
The Christies: Natural Disaster
Guy 101 - Ian Gouldstone
Frank and Buster's Christmas in the Outback
- Dave Ingham
Peppa Pig: Mummy at Work - Neville Astley
& Mark Baker
Best Short Film
Rabbit - directed by Run Wrake
Film Noir - directed by Osbert Parker
Careful - directed by Damian Gascoigne
That latter category of "Short Film"
is included in the BAA Public Choice
Awards. Special screenings of mixed programmes
can currently be seen
in independent cinemas around the country
until the end of the month.
And folks can see and vote for Best Music
Video, Best Commercial and
and that Short Film trio. You'll find all
the info on these screenings, and
a complete list of nominees on the BAA web
Now there are probably a few of few looking
down that list and wondering
how on earth "Belleville Rendez Vous"
has snuck into the Feature category.
But you should note that these awards are
only given out biannually, which
means they often encompass productions overlooked elsewhere,
strange combinations together. It's all part
of that quirky "Britishness".
As for the awards night itself, that takes
place Thursday 9th March at
the Shaw Theatre, in London.
DreamWorks have posted the first sneak peek at
"Flushed Away" on the official
site. Most folks probably
know that this is set to be Aardman's third
feature-length outing as part of their ongoing
deal with the Hollywood studio.
It's also Aardman's first foray into CGI feature
"Flushed Away" is being directed in
the USA by Sam Fell and David Bowers,
from a script by Dick Clement and Ian LeFrenais.
The story follows the adventures
of Roddy, a pampered pet rat who accidentally gets
flushed from his posh
penthouse flat into the London sewer system.The
Big Name voices on the
project include Hugh Jackman, Kate Winslet, Ian
McKellen and Andy Serkis.
So how's it shaping up? - Well it's Aardman still,
but not quite as we've
known it. Roddy and friends sport those famous
Aardman overbites, googling
eyes and waving hands. Only here in CGI form,
we've lost that handmade feel.
There are no fingerprints, anyway. The backgrounds
too, have lost the "arts
and crafts" feel of those stop-motion sets, crammed
with hand-made miniatures.
It means that specific Aardman uniqueness has gone,
and Roddy, Rita and
company are now competing alongside the bar-raising
efforts of Pixar
and company. It'll take some getting used to!
And it also might take a while to accept that
hollywood voiceover on the preview,
proudly announcing this next DeamWorks production, with ne'er
an Aardman reference in sight. There's even a
big fat DreamWorks tag on
the film's logo!
But right now, fingerprints and logos aside, all the
other Aardman boxes
seem to have been ticked apprproately. That "work
in progress" has plenty
of wild chases, flailing hands, deadpan deliveries
and some distinctly
British quips to quote.
The flushing commences in November.
Meanwhile, we Brits have been getting a taster
of Aardman's first CGI
television series. "Planet Sketch" is
currently airing on CiTV, and as reported
March the show features a series of quickfire sketches and gags
for kids. It's interesting to note that this particular
show has deliberately
avoided that defined Aardman "look" with
its depiction of school kids and
crazy animals. Look out for it daily this week, on
Citv at 3.40pm.
FilmFair fans will be rejoicing this morning, as Abbey
Home Media are
releasing the first of a long line of Tempo TV
Classics DVDs here in the UK!
First up is Paddington Bear in Paddington:
Please Look After This Bear,
which features 12 episodes of the original,
award-winning series. And you
know, even three decades on, it's lost absoloutely
none of its charm. That
old bear has a beautifully dry repartee with Mr Curry and
Sir Michael Hordern still sounds like your very favourite
recounting a yarn...
Over the coming weeks we'll be raiding our piggy
banks to pay for a host
of teatime tv treats. Here's the rest of the current
The Adventures of Parsley: Cowboys and Indians
The Herbs: Parsley’s Tail
The Perishers: Magic Mirror
6th March The Dreamstone
The Wombles: Orinoco and the Big Black Umbrella
The Gingerbread Man: The Arrival
Moschops: The First Flower
Hattytown Tales: Mr Wimpole’s Breakfast Rolls
Huxley Pig: The Circus
The Adventures of Portland Bill: Changeable
27th March Nellie the Elephant: Nellie and the Ghost
Mouthwatering stuff, eh? - "Dreamstone"
fans will be celebrating, for sure.
And many folks have been waiting for "Portland
Bill" to appear.
Some of these series have escaped before,
of course, in various forms,
but - oh my - it's grand to see them all
coming together at last, under one label.
The latter release of "Nellie the Elephant"
also reminds us that Abbey Home
Media own the rights to other series, outside
of the FilmFair realm. Which
means we can look forward to a few more
gems here, for sure.
So what's your favourite? - It's so very
hard to choose. But Abbey Home
Media has made it all just a little bit
easier for us, because they're giving
away 3 complete sets of these DVDs - gratis
- via Toonhound.
Last night the 33rd Annual Annie Awards
ceremony was held in Glendale, CA.
and with 16
nominations already under its belt, it was a safe bet that "Curseof
the Were-Rabbit" might be the big winner.
But hoo-boy did it win big. Wallace and
Gromit walked off with 10 glorious
awards, winning Best Animated Feature, Animated
Effects, Character Animation,
Character Design (Feature), Direction (Feature),
Music (Feature), Production
Design (Feature), Storyboarding (Feature), Voice
Acting (Feature), and
What a fabulous reward for a fabulous movie.
The awards and recognition
have been simply flooding in recently. At
last week's Evening Standard
Film Awards Nick Park was honoured for his
contribution to UK film.
And there's a rather nice BAFTA Nomination
still on the table, for
Best British Film.
Meanwhile, let's put our hands together
one more time, to celebrate
another British Annie win. This time, it
was the secial Ub Iwerks award
for - quote - "a technical advancement
that has made a significant impact
on the art or industry of animation". This
year's recipients were the
fabulous pairing of Mackinnon
and Saunders. They're the hugely-skilled
folks who make so very many stop-motion
puppets and models for film
and television, like those used in Bob
the Builder and The Koala Brothers.
They picked up their award for their groundreaking
work on "Corpse Bride",
for which they constructed some extraordinarily
beautiful puppets, with
some equally extraordinary mechanisms built
in to the heads and bodies.
These guys just keep raising the bar of
What? What? What? - Man the lifeboats! - Dougal's
had a name change.
That tightly sprung movie of The
Magic Roundabout is winding up for
its belated American launch this month. But as
the poster campaign
reveals, there have been some significant changes
That's right. "The Magic Roundabout"
is no more. It's not even "Sprung:
The Magic Roundabout", as was mooted during
the film's initial UK launch.
Instead we have to contend with this twisted,
of a movie title, courtesy of the Weinstein Co.
There have been a whole garden's worth of voice
changes too. Chevy Chase,
Jimmy Fallon, Whoopi Goldberg, William H Macy, Kevin
Smith and Jon Stewart
have somehow muscled their way on to the microphone,
ahead of Robbie,
Kylie, Jim Broadbent, Joanna Lumley et al. Ian
McKellen's still there, though.
And Judi Dench has wandered in too.
How apt that a French series, which was re-cut
and shaped by us Brits,
should now be recut and reshaped by those pesky Americans.
Roundabout's turned full circle - what? what?
"Doogal/Dougal/The Magic Roundabout"
opens on February 24th.
What can you add to the reams already written
regarding the recent
Academy Award nominations?
On Tuseday it was announced that "Curse
of the Were-Rabbit" will be vying
against "Howl's Moving Castle" and
"The Corpse Bride" for the Animated Film
award, and being unashamedly Brit-centric,
The Hound has his money on
the rabbit snatching the prize. Nick Park
and friends have produced a gem of
a movie that delights and excites at every
turn. And that's what most of the
UK press and media have seized upon too. But
you know, what seems to
have been overlooked here is the fact that "The
Corpse Bride" is almost as
British as "Were-Rabbit". Tim
Burton's spooky tale was filmed in London,
at Three Mills Studio, using predominantly
British talent, and the folks who
were employed there must surely be just as chuffed
as the Aardman team
down in Bristol. But they must also be just
a wee bit miffed at the lack of
media attention in their home country - and yes,
that include this site,
which has barely given the film a mention,
thus far. So let's remember to
cheer both films on come Oscar™ night...
And let's also applaud Sharon Colman. She's
a new name on the animation
circuit, but her short film "Badgered"
is a beauty, and it's been nominated for
Best Animated Short. Sharon's another NFTS
graduate, like Nick Park,
Mark Baker, Alison Snowden, David Fine and
Tony Collingwood before her,
and she's surely destined for great things.
"Badgered" follows the exploits of a
badger in a most unfortunate position. All
he wants is a forty-winks, but
all he's getting is a missile silo, slap-bang
in the heart of his hill. There are
two clips to view online, one
at the NFTS and the other at Tandem
It's a simple funny film, with some delicious
moments, and the Academy
often have a soft spot for this kind of thing.
But that badger is up against
stiff opposition in the form of Pixar,
Shane Acker, John
the mysterious Jasper
Morello. Even so, Sharon's a winner, regardless
of the outcome...
Roll on the awards night!
Year, new look (25.01.06)
Okay, so if you're a Toonhound regular, you'll
no doubt be wondering
where all the updates have gone. Christmas
has come and gone, but
things have remained pretty stagnant round
these parts. So what's been
Well, how about a site-wide redesign? That's
right, Yours Truly has been
stupidly busy behind the scenes, redesigning
the main indexes for a
New Year Springclean. It had to happen sooner
or later. Toonhound is
getting bloated with old links and dollops
of HTML which serve no
purpose, other than to slow the loading
times of all those site pages.
So now there's a leaner, slimmer design
on the way. It's still HTML.
I've no time for, or knowledge of, CSS and
its ilk. But it's going to be
trim and fit for 2006 and beyond.
So what's in it for the average visitor? Well,
beyond those speedier
pages, not too much. Just clearer presentation.
But more importantly,
MORE presentation because there's a sidebar
to this news story
and that's the fact that ToonsToGo
is, alas, soon to be no more.
ToonsToGo was great fun, and popular too.
We had a blast selling those
Talking Basil Brush Toys, and Koala Brothers
Beanies, but the hassles of
running your own web store are all encompassing.
We had a nightmarish
time sourcing stock, maintaining stock levels,
and negotiating with a
licensing and manufacturing industry which, frankly,
doesn't have a clue
about the collector's market. The lack of
awareness is shocking. Lines
are released and dropped on a whim, with little
information ever passed
on to sellers. Most of the sales staff have
no knowledge of the lines
they've just licensed, who to target, or how
to sell 'em. That's why you
get 100 heroes in different forms, with ne'er
a villain in sight. Product
launches never seem to correspond to broadcasts, in
any shape or form.
And time and again, folks steer lines towards the
when they should be aiming squarely for
folks in the nostalgia bracket.
Oh, if only The Hound ran a licensing firm...
And don't get me started on the bureaucracy
of it all. We've been
squeezed by Red Tape, by the banks, et al.
Though we've kept ourselves
in credit throughout our time, the Suits
remain determined to bring us down.
Really, for the effort involved, the profits
just ain't worth it. Unless you're
already a millionaire, with the clout to
fight your way through the mire....
So that, my friends, is that. There'll be
no more ToonsToGo. But the
upside is that now there'll be far more
time to devote to these pages.
Which means lots more news and information
for you. And our foreign
friends will hopefully be pleased to see
new links being added sitewide,
to Amazon's Region 1 DVDs. It's something many,
many folks have
asked for, and it makes complete sense, given
this site's mission to
"spread the word" around the globe, and
the popularity of those
existing sales links .
But all good things take time. Methinks
it will take a fair few weeks
to bring all site areas into line, given
that each page is updated by
hand (yes, I know it's foolish and unnecessary
in today's templated
world) . Stay tooned for the all-new
Movietoons index first. And do
please let us know what you think of the
new look. There's still time
to tweak stuff if it ain't working