MorphToons: December 2015

December is good for closure. I shuttered 2015 with a dive into virtual reality, Oscar upstarts, and more.

4 Potential Oscar Upsets in the Animated Feature Category

The Annie Awards and the Golden Globes were in unanimous agreement this year on their feature animation nominees, and therefore the animation industry’s awards-season focus is dominated by Pixar’s Inside Out and The Good Dinosaur, alongside Anomalisa, Shaun the Sheep Movie, and The Peanuts Movie.

But there are also international and independent features competing in the Academy Awards race, include three films from phenomenal indie animation distributor, GKIDS, which nearly swept the Annies’ new independent feature category with three of the four films nominated: Boy and the World, When Marnie Was There, and Kahlil Gibran’s The Prophet.


Look Out For These 5 VR Immersions From Sundance’s New Frontier Program

Next year, the deeper reaches of virtual reality animation will be explored at the tenth anniversary of the Sundance Institute’s New Frontier program.

Cartoon Brew previously previewed Sundance’s 2016 animated shorts lineup, noting that last year’s Grand Jury prizewinner, Don Hertzfeldt’s World of Tomorrow, is currently shortlisted for an Oscar. With rapid development underway from Baobab to Oculus — whose formative Rift headset prototype was showcased at New Frontier 2012 — it may only be a matter of time before VR animation immersions start picking up Academy Award nominations themselves.


Last-Minute Animation Gift Guide
Ranging from the technical to the quirky to the essential, these holiday electives make great presents for those who make animation their livelihood, or want to learn more about why it’s perhaps the most powerful art form in the entertainment marketplace today.


Africa’s Triggerfish Story Lab Announces Winners

After receiving nearly 1,400 submissions from 30 countries across the African continent, South Africa’s Triggerfish Animation Studios’ Story Lab initiative has selected two quartets of tomorrow’s storytellers for further development.


Can Cartoon Saloon’s Amazon Pilot Eddie of the Realms Eternal Make It To Series?

The young heroes of director Paul O’Muiris’ self-aware Eddie of the Realms Eternal wormhole between reality and fantasy. One is a slacker elf called Hobi, and the other is a regular dude named Eddie. And together, they’re descended from (much more) mythic ancestors whose union for generations protected the Realms Eternal from evil — until now. It’s a perfect set-up for a buddy comedy adventure, with deep but accessible roots.

“When Amazon Studios came to us with the script, I felt an odd connection to this story about a lonely little kid pulled out of school into a fantasy world of magic and monsters,” O’Muiris told me. “Then I realized why: Bob Roth and Bill Motz, the writers and creators of Eddie of the Realms Eternal, had written for many of the Disney television shows I’d grown up with, like Aladdin, Hercules, and Tarzan.”

“So I took this as an opportunity to make the kind of show I would have wanted to see as a kid,” added O’Muiris, whose current influences veer from Brad Bird and Satoshi Kon to David Cronenberg. “I was thinking about everything from Moebius to Teen Wolf, a little Miyazaki, some Chuck Jones. Hobi’s definitely got a little Bill Murray in him! It’s filmmaking Jenga.”


Niki Yang’s Empowered Fantasy Yoyotoki Energizes Amazon Pilot Season

Refreshingly anchored by a girl adventurer, and written by that animation industry rarity — a woman — Yoyotoki: Happy Ears! is an Amazon Studios pilot worth voting and fighting for.

“I wanted to make a character who is vulnerable, but not a saggy tear bag,” Yoyotoki creator Niki Yang told me. “How many times have we stood in front of the mirror, wishing we were somebody else? Yoyotoki has, but she doesn’t let that overwhelm her. She would rather explore the world around her, and seek out who she really is.”


Sean Szeles Spoofs Kings and Punks On Long Live the Royals

Regular Show supervising producer and writer Sean Szeles’ recent primetime Emmy has gone to his head. “I take it everywhere I go!” he told me.

Lately, Szeles has taken it to his kingly spoof, Long Live the Royals, Cartoon Network’s second original miniseries following Patrick McHale’s decorated fantasy, Over the Garden Wall — which also recently scooped up an Emmy for outstanding animated program. No pressure!