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MIPCOM 2005 Q&A

Television

MIPCOM 2005 Q&A

Have you felt the impact of the CG revolution in your arena?

This week, TV executives, animation producers and buyers are attending the MIPCOM-Jr and MIPCOM markets in Cannes, France (www.mipcom.com). We thought it would be a good idea to talk to some of these movers and shakers and have them discuss the current TV animation scene, trends and the global toon climate in 2005. Here’s how some of them responded to today’s big question:

Have you felt the impact of the CG revolution in your arena?

We are currently starting to move into CG, while still maintaining a healthy level of traditional 2D animation. It is exciting to be part of the many different types of animation now out there.

– Geoff Watson, general manager, director, Yoram Gross:

Absolutely. Television series need to integrate all forms of animation to best suit the story that is being told. Audiences have become much more sophisticated and accepting of CG because of its extensive use in feature films. A successful television series must utilize CG elements to enhance the traditional elements in order to give the audience a more complete and satisfying visual experience.

– Frank Saperstein, Executive Producer / Creative Director, PASI (Philippine Animation Studio, Inc.)

Yes, there are definitely a few key international broadcasters who emphasize that they prefer and/or are only looking for CG projects, but there is still room for stunning 2D animation based on the project.

– Donna Friedman Meir, president, programming and production, National Geographic Television & Film

Definitely. Most CG shows still skew to a preschool audience, but we’re seeing a clear drift toward the 6-11 arena now. The challenge is to put together budgets that are high enough to match the quality of TV shows such as Jimmy Neutron. We are developing our first 6-11 CG series right now.

– David Michel, VP of Marathon Animation.

I remember a few years ago when the industry was still doubtful whether CG was going to succeed on television. I think that’s been settled now and for certain shows, CG is the way to go and audiences have embraced the style.

– Fernando Szew, COO/managing director, MarVista Entertainment

Yes. We are currently making our first CG production, The Book of Beasts, which will be a feature-length Harry Potter-style fantasy/adventure special featuring Walking With Dinosaurs type beasts in starring roles!

– Camilla Deakin, co-founder, Lupus Films

Of course, we have felt the impact because we have two CG studios under our corporate umbrella, which are DKP and Mainframe. As such, we currently have several CG projects in production and development.

– Andrew Berman, executive VP, sales, IDT Entertainment

It’s now possible to produce many high-class effects with affordable software and hardware. The fast technical development during the last 2 years will have a big influence on the productions, style and look. Even HDTV is now affordable for European budgets. But also the spectator’s expectation grew and we are fastidious or even spoiled by oversea CG possibilities. This means both grows: the technical possibilities and also the viewers’ expectations, but this does not replace the basic know-how of 2D.

– Artur Kubiczek, managing director, Fish Blowing Bubbles

CG is a tool not and end in itself. It allows for fabulous mixed medium expression and can paint a marvelous picture, but without a brilliant writer’s vision flowing through a masterful animator’s wrist, it’s an aimless exercise, like trying to nail jello to a tree. Hollywood is quietly wondering if the erosion in the DVD sales for big bucks CG fare is the result of too much of a good thing. Why buy X CG movie for $29 when you can buy six-month-old Z CG movie for $9? Plus, we’ve all seen some truly impressive CG TV series from Asia and Europe–really awesome visuals but soul-less and unremarkable in story and characterization.

– Peter Keefe, president and CEO, Earthworks Entertainment

Yes, you can watch CG series (skewing to all ages) on all channels throughout Europe. There has been a tremendous reception to our CG-animated movie, Inspector Gagdet’ s Biggest Caper Ever! However, at the end of the day, you have to have a great story and characters. A series success is not formed by style.

– Leslie Nelson, SVP, international sales & managing director, European operations, DIC

That’s not really something we’re all that concerned about. CG is just another tool, and like any other tool it’s either used effectively, or it’s not. Still, it’s sad when people put more emphasis on style than content.

– Adam Shaheen, president, executive producer, Cuppa Coffee

Animation is an art form and CG is just another set of brushes.

– Sam Ewing, SVP sales and distribution, Cookie Jar Entertainment

Let’s not kid ourselves but CG has been around for twenty years and has grown slowly and streadily. It is not a revolution but an evolution of the creative process. Do not forget that the best shows are first stories, then designs, then technologies used to WOW the viewers.

– Michel Lemire, EVP creative affairs and production, CineGroupe

Yes. Anime is a medium that has always been on the cutting edge of the animation art form, whether by pushing the envelop in its storytelling format, themes or visuals. This is especially the case in the latest programs coming from both established and, increasingly, indie anime studios in Japan. Anime production studios, whether large or small, are perfecting the art of blending 2D and 3D CG animation in a beautiful and elegant manner. Kakurenbo: Hide & Seek is a perfect example of a small studio using exquisite CG animation to enhance, not obscure, the underlying story and mood. Kakurenbo uses its CG visuals to plunge the viewer into the landscape and the action, making you feel as if you were inside the film being stalked! The advances in CG animation is what allows small animation studios to create exceptional pieces of visual art using relatively modest means. To catch a glimpse of what is possible with this 2D/CG fusion, please see the Kakurenbo trailer at http://www.centralparkmedia.com/kakurenbo/.

– Newton Grant, director of business development, Central Park Media Corporation

We were one of the first. When Disney bought the Monster By Mistake pilot in 1996 it was specifically because they wanted a new look of animation on their TV screens, there was very little CG back then and we have continued with Monster By Mistake production running fro seven years followed by two current CGI titles CCI is producing- Meteor and Erky Perky.

– Arnie Zipursky, CEO and president, CCI

Absolutely. CG is a wonderful art form and when you see where it has taken the video games, it is truly amazing. I think that flash, 2D and CG will continue to be a part of the artistic expression that animators and creators integrate into their work.

– Brenda Wooding, managing director, Brenda Wooding Media

Absolutely!! In terms of production, in our services division we see how clients are always asking for the last technologies and looking forward to producing CGI series, features etc. However, I am not so sure the broadcasters/buyers are ready for it yet.

– Raquel Benítez Rojas, CEO, Comet Entertainment Inc.

Definitely, as kids really enjoy CG, we have to ensure keeping up with this development and cater for growing demand and taste.

– Joris Eckelkamp, managing director, International sales, ohm:tv

Yes, CG today is in most cases the technique to use! Even if it looks like 2D, it is mostly CG. CG is becoming less expensive and the techniques are improving every day. But this does not mean that 2D is out! I think it is a huge mistake to believe that. Look at the Japanese artists who are still developing animation in the 2D format. There will always be shows that fit better into a 2D world.

– Susanne Schosser, joint managing director, EM.Entertainment GmbH

Do you think CG-animation will make traditional toons extinct in the near future?

No way. If we look at the final product, there are some things that just do not work well in 3D and never will (and vice-versa). It is simply an artistic choice. However, what could be changed and extinct in the near future is the traditional workflow. So I think traditional 2D animation will stay and the only change will be 2D tools and workflow. But pencil will still be there.

– Gorazd Norcic, Qollective

I think that there will always be room in the market for engaging stories with great visuals no matter what animation technique is used or what animation technique is in vogue at any particular time.

All animation techniques have particular strengths and weaknesses so we should concentrate on making programs and developing brands which will engage and entertain our audiences for many years to come. It is also important to continue to innovate both the storytelling and animation techniques to ensure we stay relevant to our audiences.

– Lee Marriott, finance director, commercial and operations manager, Cosgrove Hall Films, U.K.

CG-animated shows will develop, exist or do well only if traditional toons go shoulder-to-shoulder with them. Reason? CG animation is a process assisted by software and computers, but the creativity and innovativeness of the human mind has to be there to create productions which will be loved by kids and other audiences. We have seen a majority of the CG TV series bombing and failing due to lack of creativity, but many CG series and DVDs have succeeded because they were created with 2D animation sensibilities and the storytelling was compelling. Today, we have almost 700 CG artists in our company producing top-notch products for companies such as Disney, Method Films and other large companies from the U.S. with tremendous creativity and efficiency because all these guys are primarily 2D animators and have extensive 2D toon training to create properties which are going to last forever. Hence, I strongly feel that it is other way around–if 2D becomes extinct, then 3D will also not survive unless artificial intelligence takes over the human mind and renders us useless.

– Tapaas Chakravarti, CEO, DQ Entertainment, India:

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