BAFTA nominations for ‘The Octonauts’, ‘Doc McStuffins’ & ‘The Amazing World of Gumball’

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Two Brown Bag Films and one Boulder Media production  have been named among the Children’s BAFTA nominations, which were announced this week.

The annual British Academy Children’s Awards honour the very best in children’s media.

Brown Bag Films’ The Octonauts are nominated for Best Pre-School Animation and Doc McStuffins for Best International Show.

Boulder’ s The Amazing World of Gumball  scored a double nomination this year featuring in the Best Writer and Best Animation categories.

The ceremony will be held on Sunday, 24th November at the London Hilton, Park Lane.

The full list of nominations are here

 

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The New Dawn of Irish Animation

Family

 The Amazing World of Gumball

David Neary talks to the movers and shakers making it happen in animation.

It’s been 18 years since Sullivan Bluth Studios closed their doors. One-time Disney prodigy Don Bluth had gone rogue in 1979 and founded his own company, which set up shop in Ireland in 1985, providing Irish animators with an outlet and distributor for their talents. Bluth helped launch an animation course at Ballyfermot College ensuring a new generation of skilled Irish animators would now emerge.

And then the end came.

The apprentices of Bluth went their separate ways, founding a number of smaller animation studios in a shrivelled market. It seemed for a time like the golden age of Irish animation was long gone. But now it appears it has only just begun.

Casual observers of the Irish film industry were no doubt surprised in 2009 when The Secret of Kells, by the Kilkenny-based Cartoon Saloon, emerged from the woodwork. An Academy Award® nomination for best animated feature proved Irish animation could now play with the big boys.

Since then the rebirth of Irish animation has been unmistakable, with accolades pouring in from abroad. Brown Bag Film’s short Granny O’Grimm’s Sleeping Beauty accompanied Kells to the Oscars®. BAFTAs have been dealt out to JAM Media’s Roy and Boulder Media’s The Amazing World of Gumball (the latter also won an Annie Award). Doc McStuffins, a preschool show animated at Brown Bag, recently launched on the Disney Junior UK channel to record ratings. Elsewhere, Irish producer Fodhla Cronin O’Reilly joined the Oscar-nominated® elite this year thanks to her work on the short Head Over Heels.

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Doc McStuffins

So what’s driving this renaissance in Irish animation? Good old determination and hard work, of course, and that grand tradition of Irish storytelling. But amongst industry professionals there’s wide acceptance that Adobe Flash was the game-changer.

Gerard O’Rourke founded Monster Animation in 1995 in the wake of Bluth going bust. Flash, he explains, was originally used for creating banner ads for websites, but its potential for quickly designing high-quality animation was soon seized upon by the animation industry at large.

‘Flash turned it all around,’ he says. Recalling his days at Sullivan Bluth, he explains that in the traditional cell animation business, an animator’s work had to go through 27 departments, be shot in the camera bay, shipped to Technicolor in London, processed in 35mm, brought back and loaded onto a projector before the animator could see the fruits of his labours. This process took 10 to 12 days. ‘Now,’ he says, ‘an animator on a daily basis can sit there and start with a blank screen and at the end of the day have movie files of what they animated that day.’

The reduction in costs is colossal, and better still has managed to keep those animation jobs in Ireland. ‘Without that digital revolution, a lot of the work would have remained in the Far East, but we’ve managed to bring it back,’ O’Rourke adds.

Monster considers itself ‘your genuine 100% Irish-owned animation studio’. The company nurtures home-grown talent, refuses overseas service work and finds great value in its own intellectual property. The most Irish of Irish cartoons is Monster’s Ballybraddan, about a school hurling team. It’s the ideal Monster property; something that RTÉ can’t import for next-to-nothing like a syndicated Disney show.

Such is the success of Monster that it has separated into two companies. Initially it split into Monster Entertainment, a distribution company and Monster Animation and Design, which specialises in production, but the latter has since re-launched as Geronimo Productions Limited, with both companies now producing and distributing animated projects.

The team at Geronimo showed faith in their own business plan when they produced the preschool show Fluffy Gardens, resisting market demands for characters with ‘generic stories’. The results speak for themselves; Fluffy Gardens is now broadcast in a stupefying 120 countries in 20 languages. With that success under their belts, Geronimo have made even bolder moves since, producing Punky, an animated series about a young girl with Down syndrome. It’s the first show in the world to feature a lead character with such a disability, meaning this company of only 15 has already made its mark.

At its peak Sullivan Bluth employed a staff of some 350 people, producing as much animated material as a company of 80 can produce today. Boulder Media is just such a company. Robert Cullen founded Boulder in 2000 to design E-cards, but after a few animation tests they were handed the reins of Cartoon Network’s multi-award-winning series Foster’s Home for Imaginary Friends.Roy Their staff of six grew almost overnight to 28. ‘It was a big task,’ Cullen admits. ‘Definitely a baptism of fire.’

Fosters PR Mac Bloo Coco Eduardo Horz

Foster’s Home for Imaginary Friends

Boulder went on to produce a series for Nickelodeon before returning to Cartoon Network for The Secret World of Gumball. Since Gumball arrived, staff numbers have swelled to 78, with the company developing a 3D department in-house to keep up with the shifting industry. Now in the midst of a two-year stint on Disney’s Randy Cunningham: 9th Grade Ninja, Boulder have secured a name themselves as Ireland’s premier service studio for animation.

‘We’re definitely punching above our weight,’ Cullen says of the Irish animation industry. ‘With all the big shows that are out there, so many seem to be produced or co-produced in Ireland. It’s great for Ireland’s reputation. As more broadcasters come back to Ireland for projects, hopefully that will incentivise others to pop over to Ireland and make use of Section 481 as well.’

There’s no time for nostalgia about the Bluth era. Cullen admits: ‘If we were offered an endless time frame we’d love to go back to pencil and paper, but I think what we’re trying to do is create that sort of fluid animation within Flash. So it’s still quite traditional animation, just not using paper.’

Nowhere is that clash of old and new in animation more evident than at JAM Media, whose very headquarters reveal a jolting juxtaposition; their offices, complete with glossy logo and a shiny new BAFTA, are located in a deconsecrated 18th Century Moravian Church on Dublin’s Lower Kevin Street. In addition, JAM’s biggest success, the BBC-produced Roy, is about an 11-year-old Ballyfermot boy who appears to be a living hand-drawn cartoon – but it’s all done in computers.

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Roy

Roy is drawn directly into Flash, to create a hand-drawn shape, before he’s sent through the programme After Effects to add natural-looking pencil lines. As Roy producer Ian Hamilton points out, there is an irony in that the better the digital technology becomes, the more ‘papery and textured’ Roy looks.

Roy demonstrates the technology shift behind the current animation boom better than any other project. The show began life as a 23-minute short, Badly Drawn Roy, which was hand-animated, and took a small team nearly a year to produce; picked up for a third and fourth season, Hamilton points out that JAM will now produce 26 episodes of Roy in almost the same amount of time, thanks to Flash.

Despite the wealth of animation talent, with new students graduating each year from courses in IADT Dun Laoghaire and Ballyfermot, and new programmes as far apart as Letterkenny and Carlow, there is still a deficit of animators, with JAM having to look to Canada to get their projects completed. ‘Animation in Ireland is booming at the moment,’ says Hamilton. ‘It’s very hard to find an animator out of work at the moment.’

This is a sentiment echoed by Robert Cullen: ‘I think the industry is in its golden age now; the biggest problem people have in the animation industry in Ireland at the moment is finding the staff! It’s not been hit by the recession in that sense. The really talented people out there are usually hunted down very quickly, so if you’re a good animator you’re pretty much guaranteed a job at some stage.’

Keith Foran, Director of Animation at the National Film School at IADT, has seen the face of Irish animation change more clearly than anyone. He graduated from the Bluth programme at Ballyfermot in its inaugural class, and was a part of the original line-up at Brown bag. He refutes the idea that there is a renaissance in Irish animation, suggesting Bluth was only a precursor to an industry, never truly Irish.

‘The industry has grown, certainly in the last two to three years, but the cottage industry has been there for 15 years,’ he says. ‘The industry that came in before was American-skilled, American-authored, with tax-break incentives and young Irish people doing the menial artistic tasks. That was the structure of an animation industry but it closed down over night. The industry that’s there today is not a renaissance,’ he adds, ‘it’s actually a new industry – a new dawn.’

 

This article originally appeared in Film Ireland magazine – Issue 144, 2013

 

 

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‘The Amazing World of Gumball’ wins Emmy

The live-action series,‘The Amazing World of Gumball, co-produced by Dublin’s Boulder Media and Cartoon Network Development Studio Europe won the Kids Animation Award at last weekend’s International Emmy Kids Awards.

http://www.cartoonnetwork.com/tv_shows/gumball/index.html

 

1st International Emmy® Kids Awards Announced

1st International emmy@ kids Awards winners from argentina, japan, norway & the united kingdom announced

 

The 1st International Emmy® Kids Awards Winners:

Kids: Series

Junior High School Diaries: Harmony of Two
NHK (Japan Broadcasting Corp.)
Japan
Executive Producer: Masahiro Takizawa
Producer: Hisamaro Furuta
Director: Hiroki Hayashi
Writer: Mikio Sawada
Principal Cast: Keisuke Toyoda, Aguri Onishi
Junior High School Diaries: Harmony of Two is a drama series set in a fictional school. Each episode depicts real-life school struggles and teenage experiences.

Kids: Non-Scripted Entertainment
Energy Survival
Fabelaktiv / NRK Norway
Executive Producers: Arild Halvorsen (Fabelaktiv), Unni Ødegård (NRK), Gitte Calmeyer (NRK)
Producer: Marte Mørkved-Romstad (Fabelaktiv)
Director: Rune Sæterstøl (Fabelaktiv)
Writers: Rune Sæterstøl, Truls Pedersen (Fabelaktiv)
Principal Cast: Truls Pedersen (host)
Energy Survival is a reality-based competition for 11-year-old children. Five teams compete in a number of practical tasks and head-to-head duels. Energy and environment are the themes for each task.

Kids: Preschool

El Jardín de Clarilú
The Walt Disney Company Latin America / Triada / Metrovisión Argentina
Executive Producers: Cecilia Mendonça, Jorge Edelstein
Producers: Roly Candino, Maria Laura Moure, Juan Rovai
Director: Diego Kantor Writers: Ines Cuesta, Paula Varela
Principal Cast: Agustina Cabo, Thomas Lepera, Andres Espinel, Sophie Oliver, Leandro Zanardi
In El Jardín de Clarilú, Clarilu and her loyal dog Pencil receive a mysterious letter that presents the premise of the episode. This letter has been written by an anonymous character, and it gives Clarilu two clues. Clarilu must discover who the letter is from.

Kids: Factual
Newsround – My Autism and Me

CBBC – In House United Kingdom Executive
Producer: Owenna Griffiths
Producer: Daniel Clarke
Director: Victoria Bell Principal
Cast: Rosie King
13-year-old Rosie takes us into her world to show us what it’s like to grow up with Autism, a condition which affects how children see life and the way they relate to others.

Kids: Animation
The Amazing World Of Gumball
Cartoon Network Europe / Dandelion Studios / Boulder Media / Studio Soi
United Kingdom
Executive Produ cers: Ben Bocquelet, Daniel Lennard, Michael Carrington
Producer: Joanna Beresford
Director: Mic Graves Writers: Ben Bocquelet, Andrew Brenner, Jon Foster, Mic Graves, James Lamont
Principal Cast: Logan Grove, Kwesi Boakye, Kyla Rae Kowalewski,Teresa Gallagher, Dan Russell
The Amazing World of Gumball follows the misadventures of Gumball and his family in the weird and wonderful town of Elmore. Set in a recognizable small town setting, the cast of characters includes a banana, a T-Rex, and a cheerleading peanut

Kids: TV Movie/Mini-Series
Lost Christmas

Impact Film & Television Ltd / BBC / Ketchup Entertainment / Hyde Park Imagenation
United Kingdom
Executive Producers: Sue Nott (BBC), Jeremy Bolt (Impact Film & Television Ltd), John Hay (Impact Film & Television Ltd), Artur Galstian (Ketchup Entertainment), Gareth West (Ketchup Entertainment), Vahan Yepremyan (Ketchup Entertainment), Connal Orton, Eddie Izzard, Ashok Amritraj (Hyde Park)
Producer: Elliot Jenkins
Director: John Hay Writers: David Logan, John Hay
Principal Cast: Eddie Izzard, Larry Mills, Jason Flemyng, Geoffrey Palmer, Steven Mackintosh, Christine Bottomley
Lost Christmas is an urban fairy tale set in Manchester about how a series of tragic events are reversed one Christmas Eve, giving a young boy and those around him the happy ending that they were destined to have

About The International Academy of Television Arts & Sciences
The International Academy of Television Arts & Sciences is a membership based organization comprised of leading media and entertainment figures from over 50 countries and 500 companies from all sectors of television including internet, mobile and technology. The Academy’s yearly schedule of events includes the prestigious International Emmy® Awards Ceremony held in New York, The International Digital Emmy® Awards at MIPTV and a series of industry events such as Academy Day, The International Emmy® World Television Festival and Panels on substantive industry topics. The Academy was chartered with a mission to recognize excellence in television produced outside of the United States and it presents The International Emmy® Awards in the following fifteen categories: Arts Programming; Best Performance by an Actress; Best Performance by an Actor; Current Affairs; Children & Young People; Comedy; Digital Program: Children & Young People; Digital Program: Fiction; Digital Program: Non-Fiction; Documentary; Drama Series; News; Non-Scripted Entertainment; Telenovela; TV Movie/Mini-Series. For more information go to www.iemmys.tv.

 

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Series Co-produced by Irish Animation Company Boulder Media Scoops Top Award at Inaugural International Emmy Kids Awards 2013

Irish animation company Boulder Media’s The Amazing World of Gumball picks up the Kids Animation Award at Friday’s inaugural International Emmy® Kids Awards.

The Dublin company, set up in 2000, was co-producer on the series, which received its international debut in May 2011, and was the first full-length animated series to emerge from Cartoon Network Development Studio Europe.

Boulder Media were part of the team who won the Award for their work on Gumball, along with Ben Bocquelet, Mic Graves & Joanna Beresford of Cartoon Network Europe in association with Dandelion Studios & Studio Soi /Cartoon Network UK. The other nominations in this category included Ask Lara (Spain) Digimon Xros Wars – The Young Hunters Who Leapt Through Time (Japan) and The Jungle Bunch (France).

Boulder’s Creative director, Emmy-nominated Robert Cullen, who founded the company in 2000, said, “We’re over the moon with the Emmy and are very proud to be part of such a great show. We’re very lucky to have such a talented and hard working crew at Boulder so it’s wonderful to see their work being recognised with such a prestigious award.
This means so much for the industry here. For such a small country Irish animation has achieved so much internationally which is something for everyone to be proud of”

Since The Amazing World of Gumball aired in 2011, the show has been a hit with viewers and critics. Brian Lowry of industry bible Variety says it “qualifies as first-rate silliness”.

The Amazing World of Gumball combines 2D and 3D animation in a live-action setting, and follows the misadventures of 12-year old Gumball and his family in the weird and wonderful little town of Elmore. Featuring a stellar cast of characters, Gumball’s school friends include a tyrannosaurus rex, a cheerleading peanut, and a banana.

The Amazing World of Gumball series also scooped awards for Best Animation (2011 and 2012) and Writing (2011) at the British Academy Children’s Awards.

The inaugural awards ceremony took place Friday, February 8, 2013 at The Lighthouse at Chelsea Piers, Pier 61, in New York.

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Irish Success at Baftas

Jam Media’s Roy, an animated character trapped in the real world, won the best drama prize at this year’s British Academy Children’s Awards held in  London on Sunday night. Starring Simon Delaney, Cathy Belton and Simon Graham, the show was re-commissioned last month, by CBBC Controller Cheryl Taylor.

Dublin-based Boulder Media also won 2 children’s Baftas for best animation and best script for its co-produced series The Amazing World of Gumball about the 12-year-old trouble-making cat.

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‘Octonauts’ and ‘The Amazing World of Gumball’ up for International Emmy Kids Award

Irish animations Octonauts and The Amazing World of Gumball  are both up for an International Emmy Kids Award.

Octonauts, animated by Brown Bag Films, is nominated for the award in the Kids: Preschool category,

 

The Amazing World of Gumball, produced by Boulder Media,  is nominated for the award in the Kids: Ani­ma­tion cat­e­gory.

 

The 2013 International Emmy Kids Awards Gala takes place in New York on 13th February .

http://www.octonauts.com/

http://www.cartoonnetwork.com/tv_shows/gumball/

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