It’s only taken seven years for Angry Birds to morph from an unknown mobile app game made by a developer from Finland into a major animated movie from Sony Pictures, opening nationwide May 20th. Take a look…
One of the most popular puzzle games of all time is now an animated film! (© 2016 Sony Pictures Digital Productions Inc. All rights reserved. © 2016 Rovio Animation Ltd. and Rovio Entertainment Ltd. All rights reserved.)
Now what began as a thumb-driven workout has been fleshed out into a full-length film featuring A-list voice actors. The cast includes four past and current members of Saturday Night Live, along with Game of Thrones’ Peter Dinklage and Josh Gad (Frozen).
Sony is certainly doing its part to promote The Angry Birds Movie as the first in a franchise of films, putting huge advertising muscle behind the movie. The total marketing blitz (including sponsored tie-ins) comes to $400 million, marking the studio’s largest promotional campaign for any animated movie.
A Game Phenomenon Takes Flight
It’s been the biggest rags-to-riches story in mobile app game development. In 2009, Rovio Entertainment released the Angry Birds mobile app. Once it was featured on the UK App Store, it started getting noticed.
The simple yet rewarding gameplay and colorful, offbeat characters turned a quirky little diversion into the game on everyone’s lips. Soon everyone was playing it and growing completely hooked on it – from TV personalities such as Conan O’Brien to government leaders like British Prime Minister David Cameron.
Then Angry Birds became a massive worldwide phenomenon – sparking some 3.3 billion app downloads. The game was subsequently ported to various platforms. When a version was introduced for Android, more than a million people downloaded the game within 24 hours.
The game’s star characters – a set of puffy round birds with striking plumage and no wings – have proved to be a merchandising bonanza, appearing on everything from T-shirts to backpacks to lunch boxes to…well, you name it.
Positively Channeling That Anger
The producers of The Angry Birds Movie had a lot of work to do in bringing the game from smartphone screens to the big screen. For starters, a story had to be created, since the original game was free of backstory, beyond the fact that neighboring pigs have stolen bird eggs and the player’s role is to use a slingshot to fire birds at those pigs. (The goal of the game is to “de-pig” each level.)
In the film, Red (SNL alumnus Jason Sudeikis) is clearly an outsider among the rainbow-colored birds that live on Bird Island. But this ne’er-do-well (and his pals) become the island’s rescuers after an invasion by the game’s notorious green pigs, who arrive in a mechanized clipper ship – one big enough to transport a cargo of stolen bird eggs!
It’s the kind of rousing story that audiences cheer, with an unlikely outsider proving their true heroic nature and saving the day. And it’s the type of tale that Sony is hoping will not only fill movie theaters now but also in years to come, through the magic of sequels.
American movie audiences have loved funny and heartwarming animated films since Walt Disney unveiled Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs in 1937. And there’s no end in sight. In fact, the demand for animated movies has never been greater! From The Angry Birds Movie to recent classics like Inside Out and Frozen, theatergoers are still enchanted by moving pictures.
Learn how to make cartoon magic happen yourself this summer at Digital Media Academy animation tech camps.
Welcome to DMA Tech Watch, where we review the biggest news and tech trends on our radar. This week, a special look at last night’s interactive episode of The Simpsons.
Last night, millions of Simpsons viewers observed a cool animation experiment, and a first in broadcast history.
The episode was called “Simprovised” and true to its title, the final part was actually created live, on the spot, as the show was airing.
Simpsons viewers were encouraged during the show to call in with questions for Homer.
CALL NOW! HOMER IS STANDING BY!
Viewer questions weren’t limited in subject, and had no relation to last night’s plot, which saw Homer bombing an important speech and attempting to bounce back from the humiliation by trying his hand at stand-up comedy.
About seven minutes into the episode, text running at the bottom of the screen flashed, “Call Now for Homer Live.” A similar message appeared about 20 minutes into the show.
This is the last episode of The Simpsons. It’s been a great run. Just kidding. The Simpsons will never end.
– Homer Simpson
Then came the episode’s interactive finale. After the segment was introduced by the entire Simpsons family, Homer got down to business, sitting behind a desk in a run-down office and responding to (and sometimes talking over) the recorded viewer calls, while different Fox animated characters (like the Futurama robot!) walked in and out of the frame, making fast cameos.
“LIVE” HOMER Q&A
Homer started by assuring the audience that he was indeed “live.” “Just to prove we’re live, on Saturday Night Live last night, Drake was terrible,” he said.
One viewer then asked about the best strategy for sleeping at work. “Always wear glasses with eyes glued on them,” Homer wisely answered.
When another viewer enquired about what kind of car he drives, Homer replied, “I drive a hybrid, which is a combination of old and terrible.”
Then, in tribute to show’s amazing longevity, Homer reassured faithful viewers that the series has no foreseeable end. “This is the last episode of The Simpsons. It’s been a great run,” he said, before adding, “Just kidding. The Simpsons will never end.”
He finished the segment in true Simpsons’ chain-yanking style, with instructions for any callers still waiting: “If your call hasn’t been taken yet, please continue to hold. The cast of Empire will be answering questions Wednesday night. Someone will let them know.”
THREE MINUTES OF ANIMATION HISTORY
During the “live” segment, Homer simply sat at a desk and spoke to the camera, like a reporter during the early days of TV. This feeling was echoed in Lisa Simpson’s introductory comment: “It only took us 27 years to do what they did in 1954.”
Well, yes and no. While TV broadcasting was live in 1954, animated shows were not, due to the time-consuming animated process. That makes the The Simpsons’ feat last night all the more impressive.
Here’s how it worked: The show’s writing staff and actor Dan Castellaneta, who voices Homer, were gathered together. The producers (quickly) picked a few calls and fed those questions to the writers, who (quickly) dashed out funny replies for Homer to say.
Those one-liners were given to Castellaneta, who (quickly) spoke the answers. Then the show’s animators went to work, using motion-capture technology to (quickly) assign some simple animation to Homer’s on-air replies. It was all executed like clockwork, and it couldn’t have happened without today’s amazing animation software.
ANIMATE YOUR FUTURE
The Simpsons has racked up an astounding record: 27 consecutive years on TV, a feat no other animated program can even approach.
It’s a lot of programming. If you wanted to experience the show’s entire run, it would take you nearly 13 days – almost two weeks – to watch every episode of The Simpsons.
The Simpsons’ longevity shows that animation not only has a great past, but also a strong future. Just look at all the different animated series now on TV or online or at movie theaters.
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At Digital Media Academy, we keep our finger on the pulse of modern technology. That’s how we can create stunning summer-camp learning experiences in today’s hottest tech…subjects like 3D printing, wearable tech & fashion design, robotics, app development and much more!
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The National Association of Broadcasters Show (aka, the NAB Show) was held at the Las Vegas Convention Center this past week, pulling in crowds of 100,000+ tech lovers.
The show has something for everybody. Attendees could practice flying drones in special netted-off sections or leave the crowds of Vegas for a few minutes with virtual reality demos.
Cool gadgets aside, some of DMA’s biggest partners were at the NAB Show, including Adobe, Autodesk and Canon!
At the NAB Show, Adobe drew huge crowds. Most people know Adobe for Photoshop, which is heavily relied upon by graphic design artists. But Adobe also hosts a ton of software platforms, and showcased a new motion-tracking software on the exhibit floor.
Not a single chair was left empty at the Autodesk booth on the NAB Show floor, where Autodesk engineers showcased the latest software with demonstrations on workflow improvements. Autodesk Maya is used in 3D modeling and animation. Movies like Star Wars: The Force Awakens utilized Autodesk to create its immense backdrops and various 3D characters.
Canon had one of the largest booths at the NAB Show, and justly so, based on its extensive product line. From cameras and lenses to projectors and camcorders, Canon pulled out all the stops for the NAB Show. While it’s best known for its digital photography, Canon showed that its video cameras are equally impressive on the filmmaking front.
Miniature train sets gave show attendees a great subject for testing new cameras (like this Canon XC10 4k camcorder) and their ability to capture detail and motion.
Skip The Crowds This Summer
Las Vegas is the only town that’s really big enough to handle the massive convention crowds of the NAB Show – but you don’t have to go to Vegas to learn how to use these amazing products.
Hosted at over 25 locations in the United States and Canada, there’s bound to be a DMA summer tech camp near you! And with the multi-course discount, you’ll save $50 when you sign up for two camps this summer.
Don’t miss your chance for an amazing summer filled with the latest technology on the market!
Animation by Vince Matthews
Take the two hottest things in the movie business: super heroes and Pixar (In case you missed it, Inside Out had the biggest opening ever for a non-franchise film), and put them together. Now what have you got?
Sanjay’s Super Team is the latest short film from Pixar. The animated short will precede Pixar’s The Good Dinosaur in theaters on November 25, 2015.
…a kind of ancient, Hindu version of The Avengers, with the gods appearing like superheroes.
– Sanjay Patel, Director
This is one in a long line of Pixar Animation Studios short films. The film premiered on June 15, 2015 at the Annecy International Animated Film Festival in France and has animation fans excited.
Directed by Sanjay Patel, whose childhood inspired Sanjay’s Super Team, the movie follows a young Indian boy who struggles with life at home. Patel sees it as, “a kind of ancient, Hindu version of The Avengers, with the gods appearing like superheroes.”
Moviemakers use Pixar’s 22 Rules of Storytelling as a guide for animated moviemaking. Patel is a supervising animator and storyboard artist at Pixar Animation Studios in Emeryville, Calif. He pitched the idea for the short to Pixar execs in summer 2012.
Pixar knows how to create 3D computer animation and it shows in the wide range of subjects that Pixar brings to life. The company’s animation styles are also highly influential.
Patel is making a name for himself outside of Pixar as a very busy artist and designer. Sanjay Patel’s website hosts some amazing projects, like the children’s book Ganesha’s Sweet Tooth.
Chances are you’ve heard of Google I/O, the annual software developer conference that showcases the newest tech from Google each year. But what about Google I/O Youth?
Now in its second year, Google I/O Youth hosts an open and diverse learning experience, blending science and creativity to empower young people so they can share their unique and innovative perspectives and create a better future for our rapidly-evolving world.
Google I/O Youth provides interactive learning experiences for young participants (ages 9-14) and encourages them to create art and test out ideas on their own computer programs.
Cool Events from I/O Youth
On the second day of the Google I/O 2015 developer conference, more than 200 students participated in the exclusive, invite-only youth event. Digital Media Academy was on the list of lucky guests.
This half-day tech wonderland experience encouraged students to explore and challenge themselves by breaking components down and building them up again, better than before.
Keynote speaker Astro Teller, head of Google’s research lab Google X, shared with students some of the newest “science fiction” solutions that Google will be coming out with. He also encouraged students (who are living in a critical time for self-discovery and self-esteem) not to see their own mistakes as flaws, but instead to shift their viewpoint and see those mistakes as opportunities for improvement.
The event was MC’d by Ryan Germick, head Google Doodler, who got the students up on their feet and stretching in unison, thanks to a Google Doodle celebrating Japanese calisthenics.
Students were able to participate in three prepared activities. First, they did some hands-on programming, using LEGO Mindstorms EV-3 robotics kits to create robotic rovers that traversed a specially designed model of a lunar landscape.
With tools provided by Google’s initiative Made with Code, students also had a chance to design and program a dancing Yeti, which was a huge hit.
Later, during a special screening with a mentor from Pixar, students got a chance to learn some basics of going on adventures in animation through storytelling. They then created stories, recorded voiceovers and presented spooky Scooby Doo mystery cartoons utilizing Google’s new animation app Toontastic. After the screenings, participants were treated to an award ceremony, where DMA students won for “Best Voiceover” and “Scariest Short”!
DMA at Google I/O Youth
DMA brought 16 students to Google I/O Youth, and all of them had a blast at this rare opportunity to further their education and experience with technology.
Isabel Eidel is enrolled in DMA UCLA’s Academy for 3D Modelling and Visual Effects, and her interests lie in filmmaking as well as working with computers. She took a flight with her dad all the way from Phoenix, Arizona, in order to attend the Google I/O youth conference!
Likewise, Henry Gray, a DMA Stanford Minecraft modding student, is similarly inspired and has Google at the top of his list for dream jobs. He was even able to talk to Teller about his ideas for the Google self-driving car.
For those who missed it, there’s still a chance to get incredible hands-on learning in technology at Digital Media Academy. With courses starting this month, register soon before you miss the window for an amazing tech-filled summer!
For more than 15 years, Final Cut Pro has remained the independent filmmaker’s editing system of choice. Its clean interface and intuitive mechanics make for a streamlined post-production process that is hard to find elsewhere. Need proof? Check out these hit movies made with FCP:
Napoleon Dynamite (2004)
The Final Cut Pro editing system met Director Jared Hess’ tight budget requirements and helped him deliver a hit. (Image: Fox Searchlight/Paramount Pictures)
John Heder starred as Napoleon Dynamite in the art-house comedy of the same name. With a next-to-nothing budget and no way to hire additional editors to cut the film, Final Cut Pro became the obvious choice for director Jared Hess and producer Jeremy Coon. They edited Napoleon Dynamite in Coon’s apartment, using a $6,000 Macintosh loaded with Final Cut Pro. More than $46 million later, Napoleon Dynamite became a lasting cult classic that helped define a new era of teen-angst comedy.
Corpse Bride (2005)
Tim Burton edited the film using FCP, and shot it using Canon DSLR cameras.
Who says Final Cut Pro can’t help bring animated characters to life? Filmed using the Canon EOS-1D Mark II DSLR, Burton’s grim musical featured his usual dark sense of humor along with many of his regular actors, including the voice talents of Helena Bonham Carter and Johnny Depp.
The Simpsons Movie (2007)
Matt Groening’s hit television series made its way to the big screen with a little help from Final Cut. (Image: Fox Studios)
After years of waiting (seven, to be exact) and more than 100 rewrites, Homer, Marge and the rest of the family became a part of Hollywood history, thanks to Final Cut Pro. FCP was used for the film and has also been used for scenes from the TV show.
Giselle is about to become a princess when her dreams of meeting the perfect prince become a reality. (Image: Disney Studios)
The film payed homage to classic Disney productions (although you’ll find more Disney easter eggs in Frozen). Edited using Final Cut Pro, Enchanted blended animation with live action to create a magical Disney experience.
The Social Network (2010)
Final Cut Pro helped The Social Network win three Academy Awards. (Image: Columbia Pictures)
Academy Award winner for Best Film Editing, David Fincher’s The Social Network immediately caught the attention of audiences around the world. Based on Mark Zuckerberg’s experiences when creating Facebook, The Social Network exposed the controversy that surrounded the building of a social-networking platform.
Focus was produced completely with Final Cut, including its titles. (Image: Warner Bros. Studios)
Editor Jan Kovac used a few versions of FCPX 10.1.x for Focus – the Will Smith/Margot Robbie con-artist film. Originally, Focus was shot in the 2.35:1 aspect ratio, but filmmakers used Final Cut to re-frame the film to 1.85:1, which they felt better suited the movie.
Michael Matzdorff, Kovac’s first assistant editor, was so impressed by the editing process that he wrote Final Cut Pro X: Pro Workflow: Proven Techniques. Focus is also the first studio film to use FCP X.
Other films that have used Final Cut? True Grit and Zodiac.
For a quick, inexpensive and comprehensive editing suite, Final Cut Pro is the choice of editors around the globe.
Making the Final Cut
From animated projects to live-action epics, Final Cut Pro has helped critically acclaimed directors and editors bring their films into the spotlight. With hands-on instruction from industry experts, you can learn how to edit a film using Final Cut Pro. So what are you waiting for? #CreateTheNext indie blockbuster this summer at Digital Media Academy.
Walt Disney practically built the animated feature-film genre. In 1937, he released the very first full-length animated feature film in theaters. It was a fairy tale about a girl who meets a colorful band of woodsmen. Critics called it “Disney’s Folly,” because no one believed anyone would sit through a 90-minute cartoon. You know the movie as Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs. At the time, it was the highest-grossing film ever.
In 2013, Frozen once again helped Walt Disney Studios claim the world record for the highest-grossing animated motion picture of all time and inspired artists around the world interested in 3D modeling and animation.
Part of what gives Frozen its magic is the film’s nods to classic Disney films and other cinematic themes. Did you catch these magic moments?
1. Rapunzel Meets Anna
The world of Disney’s Tangled (2010) is apparently just a kingdom over from Arendelle. Catch a glimpse of Rapunzel as she makes her way through the crowd during Anna’s royal crowning ceremony.
5. Olaf Parodies Classic Sunscreen Trademark
As Olaf recalls “In Summer,” his favorite time of the year, a parody of the classic Coppertone sunscreen advertisements can be seen on the beach as a seagull tugs the bathing suit of a sand-made snowman.
6. Princess and the Frog’s Tiana Makes a Cameo
Princess Tiana travels back in time from 1920s New Orleans to visit the Frozen universe. Standing amongst the crowd in the kingdom of Arendelle, the Princess and the Frog (2010) star can be seen in the distance. Look closely or you’ll miss her.
7. The Marshmallow Man
Frozen’s snow monster has no problem destroying an ice kingdom, but it does have a problem with name-calling. In one scene, the snow monster is referred to as “Marshmallow Man,” in a reference to the 1984 classic film, Ghostbusters.
8. Dancing with the Birds
Olaf’s dance routine during his performance of “In Summer” is a nod to another classic Disney film: Mary Poppins (1964), which also features animated cartoon characters.
9. Sugar Rush Racer Treats
The Kingdom of Arendelle is known to host extravagant feasts with unique entrees. After taking a closer look, it becomes clear that this tray of truffles resembles another set of Disney characters, the video game characters of Wreck it Ralph‘s Sugar Rush Racers (2012).
It’s one of the most popular animated series in the history of morning television. The Emmy-Award-winning animated series Disney’s Duck Tales debuted on September 18, 1987, ran three seasons and clocked 100 episodes.
Based on characters created by Disney animation legend Carl Barks, Duck Tales featured Scrooge McDuck, the “world’s richest duck” and his great-nephews: Huey, Dewey and Louie.
Known for its many pop culture references including Indiana Jones, Sherlock Holmes and James Bond, Duck Tales even spawned a best-selling video game that was so popular it recently received a re-mastering treatment for the Xbox 360, Wii U and PS3. (Image: Disney Animation)
New Disney XD Series
Now comes news that the television series will also get a reboot. Disney announced an all-new Duck Tales series will be coming to Disney XD in 2017.
“Duck Tales has a special place in Disney’s TV animation history. It drew its inspiration from Disney legend Carl Barks’ comic books and through its storytelling and artistic showmanship, set an enduring standard for animated entertainment,” said Marc Buhaj, Senior Vice President of Programming and General Manager for Disney XD, as he made the announcement about the new series. “Our new series will bring that same energy and adventurous spirit to a new generation.”
The new series will star the same beloved characters as the old: Scrooge McDuck, his great-nephews (Huey, Dewey and Louie), Launchpad McQuack, Donald Duck, Duckworth, Gyro Gearloose, Flintheart Glomgold, Magica DeSpell, Poe, Ma Beagle, the Beagle Boys, Mrs. Beakley, and Webbigail Vanderquack.
Carl Barks worked at Disney as an in-betweener. Basically, he would fill in the animation between the key frames. In 1937 he moved over to the story department at Disney and his story idea for a robot that gives Donald Duck a bad haircut got made into the cartoon Modern Inventions.
This 1937 cartoon marked the beginning of Carl Barks’ influence on the medium.
Drawn to Animation
While it was Carl Barks‘ 1940’s Donald Duck comic books that inspired the Duck Tales series, it was Walt Disney’s “Nine Old Men” of Disney animation who established the principles of animation.
At DMA, we’re huge fans of Duck Tales and can’t wait to see a new animated series. In the meantime, we’re going to start making cartoons at camp this summer in Adventures in Animation and firing up Duck Tales: Remastered on our Wii U.
Super Bowl commercials have become almost as popular as the big game itself. The coveted Super Bowl commercial spot has itself become a tradition over the past few decades. Whether you enjoy watching football or not, the Super Bowl has something for everyone, thanks to the excellent (and often hilarious) commercials.
This year it will cost you $4.5 million to get you a 30-second spot on TV during the Super Bowl. Here are past MVP commercials, famous for their high quality and comedic value.
Doritos Time Machine (2014)
As a promotional event, Frito-Lay decided to allow their fans to make a Doritos commercial for the Super Bowl. After receiving countless submissions of varying quality, Frito-Lay was sent Doritos Time Machine, a 30-second short about a young boy and his dog, who are looking for a quick snack.
The Force (2011)
We have all pretended to be our favorite superhero (or villain) at one point or another. Volkswagen’s Super Bowl commercial depicts a young Star Wars fan dressed as Darth Vader as he struggles to harness the Force. Hopefully, this commercial will be enough to hold you over until the new Stars Wars breaks box office records.
Parisian Love (2009)
When you have a product that advertises itself like Google’s search engine, you don’t need to run commercials or put up billboards. But in 2009, Google decided to air a commercial during the Super Bowl. Consisting of simple screen recordings, Google has showed us how an individual has used Google to make life-changing decisions on his quest for adventure.
Carrier Pigeons (2008)
Instead of drone delivery, this commercial brings back the idea using carrier pigeons to move their product and it doesn’t seem to be going too well. Want to create cool CGI effects like the ones you see here? Check out our 3D Modeling & Animation summer camps at top universities throughout the U.S. and Canada and start creating this summer!
“Hey Kid, Catch!” (1979)
Known as one of the most iconic Super Bowl commercials to ever air, Coca-Cola’s heartwarming ad starring Pittsburgh Steelers defensive tackle “Mean Joe” Greene seems to make every top Super Bowl commercial list around.
#CreateTheNext at DMA This Summer
Students at Digital Media Academy’s Filmmaking & Visual Effects courses work in production teams as they plan, produce and edit short films and creative projects of their own. Taught by top industry professionals using the latest Canon cameras and Apple workstations, DMA filmmaking camps will help you gain the skills you need to #CreateTheNext Super Bowl commercial or award-winning film.
What do you want to be?
“One day I want to be an animator or a movie director. I love anything has to do with a computer and I am always drawing, so this camp was made for me! My dream job would be to design animation for DreamWorks!”
What did you learn at DMA?
“At camp I learned how to animate my drawings. Before this I was trying to use stop motion photography and it took forever! I got Toon Boom Studio® for my birthday and have been animating ever since. It’s awesome to see my drawings move around!”
What was your most memorable camp moment?
“One of my most memorable moments at camp was the first time I saw my thoughts come to life. I was so happy! My first film was pretty simpIe but it was a start and it was funny. I also made some good friends at camp that I am still in contact with today!”
Are you hoping to attend DMA camp next summer? If so, what campus and which program will you select?
“I plan to return to DMA next summer. I want to take the 3D animation or moviemaking course. I also want to return to the Stanford campus. It’s beautiful and I’m planning on going to school there one day!”
Aspiring young animators who want to learn how to create cartoons don’t have to wait to be old enough for visual arts school. Digital Media Academy’s animation camp and cartoon camp give kids a chance to create the next Spongebob Squarepants or Bugs Bunny while exploring and learning about technology and art.