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Top Animation News: CTN Expo, Japan’s anime, Apu controversy and more!

Tags: Advertising Animation Storyboarding Harmony Storyboard Pro Trends News Top Animation News Film Television Games Content Marketing

Top Animation News is a weekly column that rounds up the biggest, best and breaking stories from the world of animation. This edition covers November 10 to 17, 2017.

  1. Toon Boom will be at CTN Expo this weekend!

Running November 17 to 19 at the Burbank Convention Center, just outside Los Angeles, CTN Expo brings together traditional and digital animation professionals for a weekend of education and panels, employment and business opportunities, and tons of fun. This year's theme is "Every picture tells a story" and some spectacular visual storytellers will be present, including Pete Docter ("Up", "Inside Out"). The Toon Boom team will also be there (Booth B38) for meet and greets, information about our latest releases like Harmony 15 and swag, naturally.

For a sneak peek of what's happening at CTN Expo, head over to "Animation Magazine".

  1. Japanese anime industry worth $17.7 billion.

Makoto Shinkai's mega-hit "Your Name" (produced in Storyboard Pro) helped the Japanese anime industry's revenue grow by nearly 10 percent in 2016, reaching a record $17.7 billion. Additional boosts came from mobile gaming licensing, increased exporting to overseas markets and a demand for original content from subscription services like Netflix and Amazon, according to The Association of Japanese Animations (AJA) annual report. The Japanese anime industry is also facing a shortage of younger workers given the country's aging population and low wages for junior animators, with many studios fully booked until 2020.

Venture over to "The Hollywood Reporter" for more on Japan's anime boom.

  1. This documentary says Apu from "The Simpsons" is a racist caricature.

In "The Problem with Apu", comedian Hari Kondabolu interviews fellow South Asian-American celebrities Aziz Ansari, Hasan Minhaj, Mindy Kaling and more about the (in)famous Kwik-E-Mart shopkeeper from "The Simpsons". The character, voiced by caucasian actor Hank Azaria, has been on screens for nearly 30 years and is known for his token catch phrase and exaggerated accent. Kondabolu is a long-time "The Simpsons" fan and wants to use the documentary to start discussions on the need for diversity.

Read a poignant interview with "The Problem with Apu" filmmaker on "HuffPost".

  1. Apple could have its own SVOD service by next year.

Netflix has some serious competition on the horizon, with Disney set to launch its own Subscription Video On-Demand (SVOD) service in 2019 and now a potential platform from Apple next year. Software and services is seen as a key area of growth for the tech giant, with $8.5 billion in revenue recorded during the September quarter — up 34 percent year-on-year. The demand for original content by SVOD services like Netflix and Amazon has created a boom at all levels of production in animation, and Apple will certainly continue that trend.

Tune into more details on Apple's streaming service on "CNBC".


  1. First-ever Toon Boom Animation Career Camp a huge success!

Last weekend, Toon Boom hosted its inaugural Animation Career Camp in Toronto, Canada, and it was a sold-out success. Attendees from around the city and as far Washington, DC, learned about the steps, skills and strategies they need to future-proof their careers. Ranging from students to seasoned pros, they received invaluable knowledge from Toon Boom's own trainers and local industry experts. More Toon Boom Animation Career Camps are planned for Vancouver, Paris, Dublin and other hub cities in 2018.

Couldn't make it last weekend? Catch this great recap on Brown Bag Film's blog.

  1. 26 animated features submitted for Oscars 2018.

The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences announced late last week 26 animated features had been submitted for consideration at the 90th annual Academy Awards. This is one less than last year's record 27 submissions. Among the latest offerings, 11 were produced by major studios and 15 by indie or foreign companies. Disney has won in the Best Animated Feature Film at nine of the last 10 Oscars ceremonies.

Preview the full list of Oscar 2018 Animated Feature Film nominees on "Cartoon Brew".

  1. Studio MDHR, developer of "Cuphead", commits to 2D animation.

"Cuphead" is a videogame that looks like an animated film from the 1930s, and that quality the has garnered it massive critical acclaim. Hand-drawn and partially coloured in Toon Boom, it was produced by Studio MDHR. Lead game designer Jared Moldenhauer has committed the studio to 2D animation for the indefinite future and hopes to maintain the style's relevance, even if it is not mainstream. "So many talented people out there don't have the opportunity to use their talents in any which way, and most of the companies that used to have switched to 3D. And times do change, but I want to always be a part of [2D]," he explains.

Watch a full interview with him above or catch the "Cuphead" story on "IGN".

  1. DreamWorks Shorts launches with "Bird Karma".

DreamWorks Animation's freshly minted incubator, DreamWorks Shorts, aims to develop talent, storytelling skills, innovate new technologies, and explore original characters stories for feature film potential. The first piece from the program is "Bird Karma" by William Salazar, which will debut before the Japanese release of "The Boss Baby" in Spring 2018. DreamWorks Animation Film Group president Chris deFaria put the initiative into place when he joined the company in March and took over 25 2D and 3D film pitches from employees, with three shorts are scheduled for release over the next 18 months.

Get the long story on DreamWorks Shorts on "Variety".

  1. Disney Pixar is officially in the VR game.

The House of Mouse has waded into the flood of Virtual Reality (VR) with "Coco VR". A promotional tactic for its upcoming film "Coco", this is Disney Pixar's first such experience and places it among a growing group of large media and animation companies adopting the new medium. "Coco VR" has debuted exclusively on Oculus Rift and is a 20-minute interactive, social story that takes the user and up to three friends through the Land of the Dead (based on the Mexican holiday tradition of Dia del los Muertos).

Immerse yourself in the full "Coco VR" story on "VentureBeat".

  1. Cartoons build compassion for the Salvation Army.

The last thing the Salvation Army and its marketing agency, The Richards Group, want to do is evoke guilt — empathy is much more powerful. That's why they turned to 2D animation, storytelling and London-based production company Moth Animation Studio for their 2017 holiday campaign. Across homelessness, child poverty and unemployment, the four short videos use characters to build compassion and show how a small monetary donation can make a big difference during the festive season.

Discover the campaign above or read the full Salvation Army story on "Adweek".


BONUS: Check out Spectrum Productions 8th Annual Screening and Gala!

If you're in Montreal, Canada, you should head over to the Rialto Theatre on Sunday, November 19, for Spectrum Productions 8th Annual Screening and Gala! The event celebrates the work of over 60 youth on the autism spectrum who participated in Spectrum's summer camp programming — and it's a cause Toon Boom supports. Over 90 shorts films will be screened across animation (including 2D in Toon Boom software), live action, documentary and experimental. Get your tickets here.

What Top Animation News were you most excited about this week? Was there something we forgot to mention? Let us know in the comments below!