Kelowna-based Yeti Farm Creative expands
and launches original production division
Kelowna, B.C. – Yeti Farm Creative, a Kelowna-based animation studio founded in 2007, has recently expanded into a 7,000 sq. ft., open space, state-of-the-art, dark fibre, geothermal studio in the heart of the burgeoning tech district of Kelowna, British Columbia. The area is often referred to as Silicon Vineyard because of its proximity to the region’s world-class wine country and the growing number of animation, digital and tech companies, such as Disney Interactive, Bardel Entertainment and Hyper Hippo Games, that have set up shop in the community about 390 km east of Vancouver. Along with their move into the larger, more tricked-out studio, Ashley Ramsay, Catalyst and Co-founder, also announced that the studio has launched YetiLABS, a digital-first animation production and distribution company. Their first two original digital-first productions are Knobs and Sweet Tweets and, although it’s early at this point, Knobs has garnered in excess of 200,000 views between both Facebook and YouTube combined in a little less than one month.
“It is an exciting time at Yeti Farm Creative and YetiLABS,” says Ramsay. She explains that over the past eight years, the team at Yeti Farm Creative has been quietly building momentum for both production services, original content development and digital rights acquisition. “We have strategically managed our growth. We hired the right people, found the right location for our new studio, and we made sure that we attracted key partners.” She adds: “We knew that to fully meet our long-term business and creative objectives, we wanted to balance production services with the investment in developing our own original work. We also had to make sure that we continued to provide the world-class quality of work that our clients expect, while we were growing and expanding. Our client feedback and growing client roster tells us that we have done all of that and more.”
Over the years, Yeti Farm Creative has delivered production services, from design to final animation, to industry leaders such as Atomic Cartoons, DDB Canada, EA Sports and Kickstart Entertainment. They currently have three original digital productions on the go, with two original television properties in development, some of which have interest from major merchandise partners.
Ramsay explains that YetiLABS came about in response to the rapidly changing tides of content consumption, from cable television to mobile. “YetiLABS was actually born about two years ago, but we kept a low profile so that we could develop our projects to the point where we – and they – were ready to share with an audience online.” Ramsay says: “Today, YouTube and Facebook are going head to head in their quest for viewers. YetiLABS is fully immersed and committed to producing and distributing our content for these platforms as they emerge and develop in real time.”
YetiLABS’ first original series is an edgy, youth-based comedy, Knobs (http://www.youtube.com/knobscartoon), targeting 14 to 18-year-olds, created by YetiLABS Co-Founder and Studio Creative Director Todd Ramsay. The second original series, Sweet Tweets (http://www.youtube.com/sweettweets), is made up of episodes of newly spun nursery rhymes for infants and millennial parents. Conjured up by well-known creative genius Jon Izen, the series debuts today on YouTube and Facebook. The third series, now in development, is a girl-skewed action sports and lifestyle series that will debut at Kidscreen in February 2016.
Toronto, October 28, 2015: Kidscreen is thrilled to announce the results of its Hot50 ranking of 2015’s leading companies in broadcasting, production, distribution, licensing and digital media.
These rankings were determined by vote, with all of Kidscreen’s 15,000+ magazine and newsletter subscribers invited to participate over a three-week period earlier this month. Here are the final results by category:
Cartoon Network US
Cartoon Network Studios
9 Story Media Group
DreamWorks Animation Television
Sinking Ship Entertainment
Animaccord Animation Studio
Brown Bag Films
Spin Master Entertainment
9 Story Media Group
Entertainment One (eOne)
The Jim Henson Company
The LEGO Group
Entertainment One Family (eOne Family)
Wicked Cool Toys
ITV Studios Global Entertainment
Cartoon Network Digital
National Geographic Kids
The top-ranked companies in each category will be formally inducted into the Kidscreen Hot50 Hall of Fame in a celebration to be held during Kidscreen Summit 2016 (February 8-11 • Miami, Florida).
And all of the Hot50 companies will be profiled in a special print issue due out on December 10 that will be mailed to Kidscreen’s full circulation list, plus distributed at NATPE and Kidscreen Summit in the new year.
Kidscreen will also showcase the Hot50 companies on a dedicated microsite for a full year, and then archive this content so it’s still searchable and accessible online.
Think children’s animation is easy? Think again. Production on Baby Cow Animation’s Wussywat the Clumsy Cat was spread across four cities and two continents – it was Frankie that bridged the Atlantic divide and ensured Wussywat’s message was delivered loud and clear.
What is Frankie? Frankie is a web-based, real-time video review and approval tool, enabling users to interactively review and discuss videos between multiple locations, thanks to its suite of cloud-based tools.
You can play, pause, make notes and even sketch ideas right onto the video – all in sync with everyone in the review. Frankie will then automatically generate PDFs that clearly display everything that has been commented on and discussed. Users who weren’t in the synced session can even jump in afterwards, adding their thoughts to the discussion.
Frankie makes things simpler and more effective when working with people in other countries or cities – or even just the other side of town. Work can be reviewed and discussed quickly, using drawing tools to illustrate exactly what you mean, eliminating ambiguity.
Being a web-based application, Frankie requires no software installation. It’s built around the HTML5 web standard and will work across different browsers and operating systems.
Wussywat the Clumsy Cat is winsome children’s television at its finest. The show’s titular hero is an inquisitive yet somewhat graceless feline. As the famous proverb insists, this particular cat’s curious nature often leads him to trouble, causing many a mishap as he explores the seemingly infinite world of The Garden.
Wussywat’s cloddish nature might cause a plethora of problems, but in the end he always emerges from the experience with a wider understanding of the world – and that’s the point. Wussywat the Clumsy Cat’s message to its young audience is that you shouldn’t be afraid to try out new things even if it means risking failure in the process. Here, failure isn’t negative – it’s all part of the learning process. Wussywat tells us that children can’t always be protected from failure, and it’s ‘have-a-go’ mindset – not the final outcome – that’s the real personal achievement.
It’s a meaningful message, broadcast simply through the medium of 2D animation – animation created via a partnership between Baby Cow Animation in London and Smiley Guy Studios in Toronto.
That geographical distance meant that this production wasn’t working within the same physical space – it was a truly global production, with a team of fifty writers, storyboarders, animators, voice artists, producers and directors working in tandem, with an entire ocean and a five-hour time difference cutting through the workflow.
In order to ensure that both teams remained in sync – and that the core message of Wussywat remained intact through each of its 5-minute episodes – the cloud- and web-based review solution Frankie was brought into play.
The challenge of 2D animation
Simon Quinn, producer at Baby Cow, has been working in stop motion animation for over 25 years, having previously worked on Wes Anderson’s Fantastic Mr. Fox and Tim Burton’s Frankenweenie. Wussywat was his first experience in children’s 2D animation, which meant an entirely different pipeline to grow accustomed to.
Wussywat also happened to be Baby Cow’s first ever pre-school animation, with the studio – formed in 1999 by comedy creators Steve Coogan and Henry Normal – having previously created animation for an older audience on projects such as Horrible Histories and Have I Got News For You.
“It was a challenge, as the project was new for us, and it was being created across the globe,” he tells us. “Baby Cow acted as the central hub for production, but there were elements of the show being created in places dotted all over the globe. Scripts were written all over the UK; designs were done in Wimbledon; Tom Edgar (the director) and the storyboard team were based in Cardiff; voice recordings took place at Fitzrovia Sound Post in the heart of London; and animation and music/dub were done in Toronto, Canada.”
For Simon, as producer, this presented more than a little challenge. “It’s my job to schedule the various elements, shepherd the various teams and heads of depts through the schedule, make them aware of the deadlines and milestones and try to coordinate between all the working parties – all while keeping the whole show on track, on budget and working with the investors and CBeebies our broadcaster to make sure we are keeping everyone happy.”
This was would be a difficult task in and of itself, even before you considered the round-the-world production pipeline. “ For each episode, design would start with pencil and paper in the traditional way,” explains Simon. “Those drawings are then scanned into Photoshop and sent to Canada where the assets are converted to Flash for the animators. We also use After Effects and edit in Pro Tools before outputting the data to Base Light, where The Farm in London finalise the picture before delivering to the BBC on tape.”
With 50 different people involved in the project at any one time and 52 five-minute episodes being worked on simultaneously at various stages of completion, the production was something of a juggling act to say the least.
“Distance has always been the key worry, with the sheer geographical spread of the crew across the UK and Canada, and the different time zones meaning very long hours,” says Simon. “It’s much easier to communicate when everyone is in the same building, so it was a demanding task in front of us.
“Thankfully, using Frankie combined with Skype enabled us to keep in touch, while also keeping tabs on what was decided by who and when – all without having to leave the comfort of a web browser.”
Discovering the power of Frankie
Tom Edgar of Barneyloon films was brought on to the Wussywat project as director. Being based in Cardiff, Wales, it was important that he stayed in the loop with the global team, ensuring his vision for the project was carried out as intended. It was the first time Tom had used Frankie – and it is unlikely to be his last.
“I cannot fathom how we could possibly have lead this production without Frankie!” he exclaims. “It’s now so fundamentally integrated into the way we work, I reach for it before an email as a response tool.
“With the production team on Wussywat so spread out across the globe, it was imperative, despite any time zone differences, that we could have highly specific questions answered during a single sitting. Being able to conduct virtual video reviews, during which frame-accurate decisions could be made with the whole team ‘in the room’, was unthinkably useful. It’s become completely indispensable to me.”
In previous scenarios, before he discovered Frankie, Tom believes that he would not have been able to work in the same streamlined, remote fashion as he is able to now: “I would either have had to travel extensively to wherever the project was, or indeed relocate to the location with or without the family! This would inevitably cost a great deal of time, money and inconvenience! If any material had to be approved remotely that would entail an enormous email trail and cross referenced phone calls over images and video stored on Cloud share sites or worse, couriered across the country.
“Frankie means we don’t have to worry about any of that,” he says with relief. “You can have multiple users across the globe interacting with the same information at the same time. The fact that each individual can watch, step through, mark and annotate clips – and then collate all of the episode notes with Frankie’s amazing self-generating PDF function – removes a huge margin for error.”
From script to screen
When working on the Wussywat project, Simon, Tom and the rest of the team would carry out Frankie sessions three-four times a week. These meetings would comprise different members of staff depending on what needed to be discussed in that session.
“The sessions could include any number of people from across the world,” begins Tom. “Sometimes the sessions would include myself, Simon and a script writer to discuss animatics or story issues; sometimes they would be with the animation supervisor and project leader in Canada; sometimes with a storyboarder or editor to discuss animatic board fixes; and sometimes with animators to discuss PDF notes and briefings. My role as director required me to keep in constant contact with all the various members of the team, wherever they were, to manage their workflow and review their output closely.”
Production of an episode would usually begin with the scripts being turned in storyboards. Next came the animatic: taking the still images from the storyboard and setting them to dialogue on a timeline, giving the show creators a working length for the episode and a guide for the animators on both shot length and action.
“From here I would often send the animatic to the storyboarder via Frankie to see what changes were required and how the stills transformed with the timings,” explains Tom. “This is the part of production where I tended to use Frankie the most, as it’s so much simpler to discuss moving images and synchronised sound when everyone involved is watching the same thing. Decisions as complex as scene planning changes, re-boards or re-edits and continuity tracking can all be done in a single session – and all of these decisions can be noted on both the video presentation itself and the emailable PDF generated after the session.”
Once a working animatic was been established, Tom would need to brief the animators. “Normally I would conduct a sit down presentation with all the team in one room, but with Frankie it doesn’t matter where in the world you physically are,” says Tom. “As long as you have an internet connection you can sync the animatic to everyone’s screen. Then, while the animators are working, they can bring me any revisions, changes, queries or questions and it’s simply a matter of linking it onto a Frankie session – it’s as good as looking over somebody’s shoulder!
“That’s why Frankie was in use from the very first concept designs all the way to final approvals.”
Post-production without the hassle
A project on the global scale of Wussywat the Clumsy Cat, created without the aid of a real-time video review tool such as Frankie, simply wouldn’t be possible to the same degree of efficiency and speed. Telephone calls, FTPs, long download times and a constant back-and-forth in email communication might be one solution, but the production process will never match the speed and efficiency of one that incorporates the instant, browser-based communication enabled by Frankie.
“It’s just a really easy, intuitive tool, and I don’t know where I’d be without it,” says Tom. “Using it is as simple as uploading a video to Youtube or any other platform. Once you’ve got your project loaded, it’s child’s play to share, add drawings, text or direction live to the image, or even in advance of a future presentation. Once you’re done, the project remains online, available for as long as you want, and a PDF version of all the notes is saved for easy reference even when you’re without an internet connection.
“And of course, because it’s browser-based, I can do all of this from anywhere, as long as I have my laptop or tablet,” he continues. “That means I can be at home, in London collaborating with colleagues or on a train between locations, and I’ll be available. I can be preparing a brief, reading other people’s comments or making my own notes on the episodes as they are sent to me.”
From never using it at all, to it becoming an integral part of his workflow, Tom is a true Frankie convert, and strongly recommends that any post-production studios currently operating without the solution should rethink their strategy. Like Wussywat, production is all about the taking part: it’s about learning from your mistakes and ensuring you communicate potential issues before they can become a problem, and Frankie is an invaluable element in that process: “If a studio has a need to share visual ideas between remote locations, then Frankie is the best tool that I’ve come across, whether for video or still images,” concludes Tom. “With the international marketplace expanding globally and embracing remote workflows, I cannot believe that anyone working in a creative industry such as ours could manage without it!”
STUDIO 100 MEDIA SIGNS DEAL WITH NBCUNIVERSAL’S SPROUT FOR CGI SERIES AND 3D MOVIE MAYA THE BEE
Munich, September 25, 2015 – Studio 100 Media announced today that Sprout, NBCUniversal’s preschool TV network, has acquired the rights for both the new CGI series and 3D feature of worldwide popular brand MAYA THE BEE.
Maya the Bee (78 x 12 min) tells the story of Maya, a young bee who left her hive to discover the beauty and mysteries of nature. As she explores the meadow where she lives, she meets other creatures, goes on adventures, and shares her joy with her friends. The series will premiere on Sprout on Saturday, September 26th, with brand new episodes airing Saturdays at 9:00am ET. Maya the Bee will also air Sunday–Friday at 9:00am ET. The movie will air on September 26th at 5:00pm and 9:00pm ET.
“We are delighted about this collaboration with Sprout and thankful for their trust in our brand,” said Patrick Elmendorff, CEO of Studio 100 Media. “We are happy that now it is possible for Maya the Bee to reach Sprout’s audience.”
“Maya The Bee takes preschoolers on exciting adventures filled with humor and action,” said Andrew Beecham, Senior Vice President of Programming at Sprout. “We’re excited to introduce US audiences to this colorful, fresh, and joyful world.”
Studio 100 Media’s CGI series Maya the Bee is a French-German co-production of Studio 100 Animation with TF1 and ZDF. Studio 100 Film presents the Maya the Bee – Movie as an German-Australian co-production of Studio 100 Media and Buzz Studios in association with Flying Bark Productions.
Studio 100 Media GmbH
Studio 100 Media is a subsidiary of the Belgian Studio 100 NV. The Munich-based company is an international production and distribution company for quality and non-violent children’s entertainment. It has a private, diversified library and develops and acquires new formats. It is also responsible for the global sales of its own rights portfolio as well as for third-party distribution of programmes and exploits its motion picture portfolio in the digital arena.
The Studio 100 Group uses the new technical possibilities on offer to produce new productions of TV series, which have also been adapted to suit the viewing habits of children today. Since 2012, Studio 100 Media has been a producer of animated children’s films and so continues to foster their brands beyond their mere presence on TV. With the founding of Studio 100 Film, a subsidiary of Studio 100 Media, the company has expanded its business areas to include to the worldwide distribution of feature films.
Recently, the company has begun to present selected brands in the form of stage shows. The well-known brands under the umbrella of Studio 100 Media include “Maya the Bee”, “Heidi”, “Vic the Viking” and many Astrid Lindgren series, including “Pippi Longstocking”.
About Studio 100 Film
Studio 100 Film is a worldwide sales company of motion pictures within the family entertainment sector. Based in Munich, Germany, the company is a hundred percent subsidiary of the international distribution and production company Studio 100 Media GmbH.
It is the objective of Studio 100 Film to offer top-class, non-violent and above all family entertainment around the globe. In so doing, the company works on the basis of long-term partnerships, as well as project-based co-operations.
Sprout is the first 24-hour preschool destination available on TV, on demand and online for children ages 2-6 and their parents and caregivers. Available in over 58 million homes, Sprout features original programming, including Ruff Ruff, Tweet and Dave and Astroblast!, a library of series, including Caillou and Sesame Street, and U.S. exclusives including Lazytown and Tree Fu Tom. Sprout’s Sunny Side Up Show is the only daily morning show for preschoolers and broadcasts live from NBCU Studios in Rockefeller Plaza. Sprout’s VOD offering is the #1 on demand service for younger children with over 1.8 billion views. Sprout was fully acquired by NBCUniversal Cable Entertainment in November 2013. Please visit sproutonline.com for additional information.
Frankie helps Hinge Digital deliver a powerful message
Hinge Digital has amassed an impressive roster of clients since opening up shop in Portland, Oregon in 2009. In just a few short years, the team has worked on commercials, ad campaigns and other prominent content for massive brands such as Microsoft, Adidas, Electronic Arts and Dunkin Donuts, to name just a few.
However, the studio took on a very different kind of project with Suitcase, a 30-second public service announcement created for AdoptUSKids, Ad Council and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. It’s a powerful reminder that while parents may not be perfect in all moments, they can provide the perfect, loving home for a child in need.
Hinge conceptualized, wrote, designed, and animated the clip, but with so many partners’ hands in the mix across the country, the studio needed something to keep everyone on the same page as the project sprang to life. Frankie proved to be that essential tool, as its web-based video review functionality allowed remote parties to view the work in real-time and collaborate with ease.
Making the message
Suitcase shares a succinct yet powerful and meaningful story about the love and stability provided by an adoptive family. In the clip we see a young girl who has been bounced between foster homes growing accustomed to living out of a suitcase. But when she’s given a permanent home she finds a new use for that suitcase, and appreciates her adoptive parents even if they make silly mistakes here or there.
It’s a moving message: a half-minute cartoon tearjerker, really, and one that showcases Hinge Digital’s talents in creating an effective campaign from scratch. It was produced to mark the 10th anniversary of AdoptUSKids, an important initiative that helps place foster children into adoptive homes in the United States.
“It was important to use emotional storytelling and illustrative design to tell this story, along with the software magic of Maya and NUKE to create the dynamic visual narrative,” says director Alex Tysowsky, whose nearly 20-year career includes animation for blockbuster films such as The Matrix and Spider-Man 2. He had a team of eight focused on the PSA, which was in production for about six weeks.
“We wanted to create a spot with a uniquely engaging look that combined toon-shaded CG characters and watercolor backgrounds,” he explains. “Once the concept designs were approved, we built the 3D assets to match the look and feel of the artwork. The fun part was animating and bringing the characters to life.”
Everyone is empowered
With approvals needed from both creative and non-creative individuals at the client companies – all of whom were in various locations across the United States – Hinge Digital needed a solution that would allow for an effective review process. Hinge had previously used cineSync, and “enjoyed the power and flexibility”. However, this time the clients needed something that was slightly more accessible.
That’s where Frankie came in. Tysowsky calls Frankie “the perfect blend of cineSync’s power with web-based ease of use,” and says it allowed his team to overcome the distance between themselves and the client companies. With Frankie, remote parties can be easily invited into the review session, and everyone can quickly share their comments and notes. It makes everyone feel like part of the active process.
“Once we had everyone on a conference line and connected to Frankie, they were all looking at the same thing,” Tysowsky explains. “With five people in five different locations, communication about something visual can be a bit of a challenge. But with the markup tools Frankie provides, everyone can see what we’re talking about.”
As with any advertisement, there’s a level of care involved, and a need for client approval and guidance. But particularly with a project like this, which is focused on the welfare of children and a very sensitive, emotional subject, it’s crucial that everyone is on point when it comes to honing the message and the work. “We feel the investment in Frankie far outweighs the lost time of miscommunication with a client,” says Tysowsky.
Bringing people together
Among the studio’s favorite features in Frankie are the real-time markup tool and the ability to export notes into a PDF file. Additionally, being able to see when a client has logged into the session – whether before or during the conference call – has been a helpful function.
But the biggest benefit proved to be bringing everyone together and allowing them to feel like they have a say. “Frankie’s unique real-time viewing and annotation tools allow us to successfully communicate both our vision and our process to our clients,” asserts Tysowsky. “The two-way control of the playback and tools gives everyone a sense of empowerment, and allowed us to collaborate completely in sync.”
Hinge Digital now has 12 people using Frankie daily for reviews across all sorts of projects. Tysowsky finds that its web-based reviews, accessibility and easy approach to remote collaboration make Frankie the perfect tool for Hinge Digital’s style of work. “Frankie is specific to our needs and client needs,” he explains. “There are a lot of tools out there, but Frankie combines all the good things out in the market and rolls it into one cohesive package.”
SHOUT! FACTORY ANNOUNCES U.S. THEATRICAL RELEASE OF
THE SEVENTH DWARF
Peyton List, Norm MacDonald, Nina Hagen and Joshua Graham Lead All-Star Voice Cast
HIGHLY ANTICIPATED CG-ANIMATED FEATURE
OPENS IN LOS ANGELES AND NEW YORK ON JULY 31, 2015
Los Angeles, CA – This summer, join your favorite storybook characters in a hilarious mash-up of the most celebrated fairy tales when the highly anticipated feature-length movie THE SEVENTH DWARF opens theatrically in New York and Los Angeles on July 31, 2015 from Shout! Factory Films. This new CG-animated feature boasts an exceptional voice cast of Peyton List (Disney Channel series Jessie, Diary of a Wimpy Kid), Norm MacDonald (The Middle, Saturday Night Live), internationally renowned singer and actress Nina Hagen and newcomer Joshua Graham.Directed by Harald Siepermann (Tarzan, Enchanted) and Boris Aljinovic, THE SEVENTH DWARF is a wonderfully magical movie adventure packed with fantastical characters, non-stop laughs and toe-tapping songs that the whole family will enjoy!
Join all seven dwarfs for an adventure as big as they are small! It’s the eve of Princess Rose’s 18th birthday. Everyone in the kingdom has come to Fantabularasa Castle to celebrate, including Snow White, the Seven Dwarfs, Cinderella and Red Riding Hood. But just before the stroke of midnight Bobo, the youngest dwarf, accidentally pricks the finger of Princess Rose (a.k.a. Sleeping Beauty) with a cursed needle and sends the kingdom into a century-long slumber! To find Rose’s true love Jack to save her with a kiss, Bobo and the other six dwarfs must go on a treacherous journey, face a fiery dragon and outwit the jealous, scheming and evil witch, Dellamorta.
Written by Harald Siepermann, Daniel & Douglas Welbat, based on the characters by Otto Waalkes and Bernd Eilert, THE SEVENTH DWARF is produced by 7 Dwarves Animation Company in co-production with Cinemendo, Erfttal Film- & Fernsehproduktion, CC Medienproduktion, TransWaal Film, VIP Medienfonds 2 / VIP Medienfonds 4B, Rialto Film, MCC Independent, Universal Pictures Productions.
THE SEVENTH DWARF opens in New York and Los Angeles on July 31, 2015. The filmis rated PG and hasa run time of 88 minutes. For more information about THE SEVENTH DWARF, please visit www.SeventhDwarfMovie.com .
North American film distributor: Shout! Factory
About Shout! Factory
Shout! Factory, LLC is a diversified multi-platform media company devoted to producing, uncovering, preserving and revitalizing the very best of pop culture. Founders Richard Foos, Bob Emmer and Garson Foos have spent their entire careers sharing their music, television and film favorites with discerning consumers the world over. Shout! Factory’s entertainment offerings serve up feature films, classic and contemporary TV series, animation, live music and comedy specials. Shout’s audio division boasts GRAMMY®-nominated box sets, Broadway cast albums, new releases from storied artists, lovingly assembled album reissues and indispensable “best of” compilations. In addition, Shout! Factory maintains a vast digital distribution network which delivers video and audio content to all the leading digital service providers in North America. Shout! Factory also owns and operates Timeless Media Group, Biograph Records, Majordomo Records, HighTone Records and Video Time Machine. These riches are the result of a creative acquisition mandate that has established the company as a hotbed of cultural preservation and commercial reinvention. Shout! Factory is based in Santa Monica, California. For more on Shout! Factory, visit shoutfactory.com
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Tom Chen & Sarah J. De Bruin Melanie Klein, Alyssa Hackman, Brianne Fortuna