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Top Animation News: Disney leaving Netflix, Toon Boom jobs and more!

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Top Animation News is a weekly column that rounds up the biggest, best and breaking stories from the world of animation. This edition covers August 04 to 11, 2017.

1. Disney ditches Netflix to launch streaming service in 2019.

The House of Mouse's streaming dreams may be Netflix's nightmare. The latter's stock dropped five percent after Disney announced it will end their three-year output deal to launch its own direct-to-consumer subscription service in 2019. Its package will include Disney and Pixar features and TV series, plus an offering from sports broadcaster ESPN.

Dig into the Disney streaming deal on "Variety".

2. Animation job opening at Toon Boom studio!
Freshly minted Irish prodco Lighthouse Studios is looking for an animation director, with experience in Toon Boom Harmony considered an asset. The studio is a joint effort between Canada's Mercury Filmworks and Ireland's Cartoon Saloon. Additionally, GMP/Cartoon Network Europe is looking for a 2D key animator in London, while DHX Media in Vancouver is searching for a 3D art director.

Head over to "Cartoon Brew" to learn more and apply!

A program automatically animates speech in real-time.
Source: ACM Transactions on Graphics.

3. Automated real-time speech animation is coming.
This animation software not only walks the walk — it talks the talk. Researchers at the University of East Anglia, Caltech, Carnegie Mellon University and Disney have developed a method for animating speech in real-time onto 3D and 2D characters without the need for skilled animators, thus reducing time, efforts and costs. "Our goal is to automatically generate production-quality animated speech for any style of character, given only audio speech as an input," says lead researcher Sarah Taylor.

Align with automated animation on "Engadget".

Doc McStuffins shows Disney's first same-sex couple in a cartoon.
Source: Disney.

4. Lesbian couple in Disney's "Doc McStuffins".
Hot on the heels of viral LGBT animation "In a Heartbeat", Disney children's series "Doc McStuffins" just released an episode featuring an interracial lesbian couple voiced by out actresses Wanda Sykes and Portia de Rossi. This is the first time the House of Mouse has focally featured a same-sex relationship in a cartoon. Diversity at Disney has been slowly improving in recent years, particularly for LGBT communities; a character in the live-action "Beauty and the Beast" was implied to be gay.

See diversity in "Doc McStuffins" on "Refinery 29".

5. "Despicable Me" is the highest-grossing animated franchise ever.
After a strong performance by the third instalment in its flagship film series, "Despicable Me" has Puss-and-booted "Shrek" from the position of most successful animated franchise of all time. Including its "Minions" spin-offs, it has earned $3.528 billion globally. By comparison, the "Shrek" series (plus its "Puss and Boots" offshoot) earned $3.51 billion.

Read all about those "Despicable Me" dollars on "The Independent".

Anti-US North Korean cartoon The Hedgehog Defeats the Tiger
Source: Korea Central TV.

6. North Korea uses kids' cartoons as anti-US propaganda.
It has come to light a North Korean state-produced animated show, "The Hedgehog Defeats the Tiger", was (un)subtle commentary on tensions between Pyongyang and Washington. In the cartoon, a hedgehog uses his prickly spikes and even sharper mind to ward off an arrogant tiger. It doesn't take a political scientist to ascertain who is who.

Peek into North Korea's propaganda more on "BBC".

7. Action video games might be bad for you.
Montreal researchers from Université de Montréal and McGill University have concluded that first-person shooter games cause some players to lose grey matter in the hippocampus — the area of their brains associated with remembering past events and experiences. Published in the journal "Molecular Psychiatry", co-lead researcher Gregory West said in a statement: "People with reduced grey matter in the hippocampus are more at risk for developing post-traumatic stress disorder and depression when they're younger and even Alzheimer's disease when they're older."

Study the study for yourself on "CBC".

A painted background Ghost in the Shell.

8. Exhibit explores the architecture of anime.
Whether it be "Ghost in the Shell" or "Cowboy Bebop", Japanese anime distills dystopia like no other. "Anime Architecture: Backgrounds of Japan" will put its artistic architecture on display at London's House of Illustration until September 10. The exhibit will includes more than 100 sketches and paintings from the productions of several classic anime films, all produced in traditional, hand-drawn animation.

Discover more about the "Anime Architecture: Backgrounds of Japan" exhibit on "Smithsonian Magazine".

A still from the Cartoon Network's OK KO!
Source: Cartoon Network.

9. "OK KO!" bridges TV series and video games.
"OK KO! Let's Be Heroes" series creator Ian Jones-Quartey worked with Toronto game studio Capy to innovate a new kind of content. While the animated show recently premiered on the Cartoon Network, the adjoining game is set to launch in the fall — yet the two are symbiotic as opposed to two fragments of a franchise. As episodes of the series were produced, they altered the direction of the game, while ideas from the latter also made their way onto the cartoon.

Tune into a new kind of toon on "The Verge".

10. British animator Sheila Graber learns Harmony at 65!
Industry legend Sheila Graber spoke with us this week, and we discussed everything from what it was like to be a woman in animation in the 1970s and 80s, how things were done before computers came along and what it was like learning Toon Boom Harmony at the age of 65.

Hop over to our interview with Sheila Graber on the Toon Boom blog.

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!