18 04 2010


C.O.R.E Closes the Doors

16 03 2010

C.O.R.E Digital Pictures closed its doors yesterday afternoon. There are speculations as to the reasons for this tragic ending to a business, once a booming success. I’d like to share some comments posted by fellow Toronto studio owners after yesterdays news release.


Gene Fowler – Fatkat

March 15, 2010 at 8:36 pm / Canadian Animation Resource

I don’t blame the liberal government or RBC. They’re protecting their bottom line. I lost my studio with over 100 staff about this time last year, RBC pulled the plug on our line, the government wouldn’t step in to save 100 jobs. Plus prior to that, they wouldn’t increase the tax credit to be on par with other provinces, wah, wah, wah.

In the end, it’s no ones’ fault but the CEO. I certainly take full blame in the downfall of Fatkat. We grew too quick and had too much overhead and we couldn’t change quick enough. Core is no different, I’ve watched them grow and cripes the expenses of running a studio in Toronto, man I wouldn’t want to know what they pay in rent.

You need to have constant deals, constant work in the pipeline. If you have a weak quarter or god forbid a loss in consecutive quarters be ready for the bank to call their lines and loans. Because when you’re in the service business, all you have as security is computers that are out of date and some chairs and that’s worth squat to a bank. They don’t like that. If you have a library of IP well now, that’s a different story I’m sure.

To keep a studio rolling, it comes down to sales, and when sales and the prospect of sales is based on how “low you can go” in price compared to the next province, country or now even state in the realm of competitive tax credits. then you’re shit out of luck and it’s a bad business model. At any given time the government can simply change their regulation on their tax credit and almost overnight put you the hell out of business. (insert studio names here, there’ tons of them I’m sure)

You should not keep a massive overhead of facility, staff or pricy liabilities when your business is based (at it’s core, no pun intended) on government subsidies. It was CORE’s turn to learn this. I wonder who’s next? Ubisoft? EA? Starz? Who knows… it’s sad though. Seems tax credits are this industry’s curse. We can’t live with them and we can’t live without them.

My heart goes out to the crew, I hope you get some back cash out of it. Find out who the directors are through a search in the ontario corporate registry. Perhaps you can find the shareholders and communicate with them. Or if they’re a public company, they must publish their financials and a contact resource. Start researching and sending communications. Keeping copies of the correspondence for you and of course the labour board of Ontario. Start a blog for the ex-employees where you all can post resources perhaps.

Best of luck for you and us all.

Ricardo Curtis – House of Cool / Red Rover

March 15, 2010 at 11:11 pm Canadian Animation Resource

I feel badly for everyone at Core. It is very difficult to watch everything you have worked for come tumbling down around you. As both an artist and studio owner of House of Cool and Red Rover, Core’s demise is something that hits very close to home.

It’s unfortunate that people are quick to lay blame on management or government. I have yet to meet any manager from any studio who are willfully trying to drive their companies into the ground. The surprising end to a company usually happens as management is exhausting every option to save the company. I highly doubt that Core’s management was any different.

As far as the government’s involvement, I have no knowlege of Core’s situation but the Government’s only goal is to create jobs. They will do it through tax breaks, grants etc. but generally only move when we (the industry) tells them what the best course of action is. Typically the Canadian animation industry will push for tax breaks that makes our services cheaper and more competitive. This is good in the short term because it does make our services more attractive. Unfortunately policies like this cannot work in the long term because eventually someone else will do it cheaper and we start under bidding ourselves and eventually the tax credits become an essential part of the business.

If Canadian animation professionals were serious about protecting other studios from Core’s fate they would lobby the government to support original content and distribution so that we can OWN instead of SERVE.

Toronto Animation Industry Night 2010 Thursday, April 22nd

19 02 2010

Sheridan Homecoming, NFB @ OIAF, Pass Winners, The making of ‘Nine’

2 10 2009
S_HomecomingFriday, October 2, at 6 p.m.

ConneXion (Formerly the Cage Pub)

Join us for an evening of good luck, charming company, and great give aways…

Win a weekend trip for two to Niagara Falls Casino!

Tickets are $20 each (includes two drinks and the chance to win great prizes)

For information, call the Alumni Office at 905.815.4078, or visit: alumni.sheridaninstitute.ca


The Making of 9

Find out how the unique animated film 9 was made, in nine easy-to-follow-steps. Toronto based ‘Starz Animation’ worked for an intense eighteen months to realize Shane Acker’s vision. 9 is a large, rich and technically complicated action-packed movie that pushes the creative expectations of the animated movie. Produced on a tight schedule and tighter budget, making 9 was a unique experience.

Passholders and six-pack holders have priority admittance.   Tickets for the general public go on sale 15min before showtime.

Kevin Adams, Art Director , Starz Animation
Matthew Teevan, Head of Production, Starz Animation





Montreal, October 1, 2009 – As one of the world’s leading creators of auteur animation,  the National Film Board of Canada has close ties to the world-renowned Ottawa International Animation Festival. A long-time partner of the OIAF, the NFB will present nine new shorts at the event’s 33rd edition (October 14–18, 2009), three of them in competition. The line-up displays a variety of inventive techniques and powerful themes, continuing the NFB tradition of innovation and excellence in animation art. On top of the festival’s official selection of new productions, the OIAF has curated a special Rarities Program of seldom seen NFB classics to celebrate its 70th. anniversary. The NFB will also present the Public Prize.

Among other themes, NFB films selected for this year’s OIAF probe lost and regained love (Oscar winner Chris Landreth’s The Spine) and the perverse human drive toward chaos (Oscar nominee Cordell Barker’s Runaway). With classics such as Neighbours (1952) and stunning recent films such as Madame Tutli-Putli (2008), the NFB has shown that animation shorts pack considerable expressive power into their brief running times. NFB films, deploying techniques ranging from traditional hand-made animation to adventurous digital innovation, provoke strong emotions and thoughtful discussion with their eye-opening, witty and sometimes very funny explorations of life on earth.


Congrats to the Ottawa Animation Festival Winners!

Scott Edelman & Jessie Ilham

Thank you to everyone who participated in filling out the survey for a chance to win. We will continue to do give aways for event passes and free swag, stay posted.

Lev Polyakov, Cikus goes to Asia, Seth & Matt,

17 09 2009

A new film by emerging 20 year old animation director, Lev Polyakov. Some of you will remember Lev the young Russian-American animator from the Ottawa Animation Festival a couple of years ago. He just completed a tragicomedy about a Dictator, a Rebel, and Love. It is shockingly funny and packed with surprises. Brimming with nonstop creative …

newsletter_septA new performer has joined the Cirkus! Cirkus announces Bangkok based Ingrid Truelove, will represent Cirkus in Asia as the newly baptized Harlequin. Having climbed through the ranks of TV Production at numerous Sydney advertising agencies, Ingrid moved to Bangkok 2,5 years ago to follow her love.

Since then she has been representing a US film production company (Moxie Pictures) across the Asia region and recently, she expanded the roster to allow some of the most highly regarded production companies in the world permanent exposure in Asia, through The A List.

Since calling Thailand her home, life has undertaken some major changes, swapping weekends filled with Bills Breakfasts, Bondi-Coogee walks for Bangkok street food and island hopping in The Andaman.

Aside from Bangkok being a city full of colour, movement and spirituality (and traffic!), it is become recognized globally as the creative and production hub for Asia. Ingrid: “It is an exciting time to be here and I look forward to bringing Cirkus to Asia!”.


Matt and Seth attend attend Comic Con in San Diego and prepare for the launch of Titan Maxium which Premiers Sept 27th at 11pm on Adult Swim.

It’s good to know your limits, WIN a Free Anime Pass

9 09 2009

dm_pic2It’s good to know your limits. I heard someone use a phrase while talking about fighter pilots once, that they all have some measure of “spare capacity”. I never forgot that term. Apparently, during exercises and engagements, there is such an intense accumulation of data and tension that the brain just starts missing things (and I guess you only have to miss an incoming missile once to end the lesson). I’m sure this must be true for jet pilots, and I will argue it is likely almost the same for many people working in the animation business. The technical knowledge required to perform a wide variety of tasks, with any decent degree of depth and professional finish, must be comparable – and so must be the pressure, because most projects don’t afford any breathing room, aside from the odd well funded, well staffed projects with cushy deadlines. They do happen!  Many old hands will tell you, with eyes glazed over with visions of palm trees and free meals, of some past beautiful job as if they had once found the fabled Shangri-la.  But in reality, critical deadlines loom constantly. It’s that dark, Lord of the Rings-like presence over your right shoulder – your mouse-arm – waiting to give you the shiv.

Time was the industry was filled with artists who knew more than many Technical Directors do today.  However, there were never enough of these animals to fill seats as projects grew in scale and as technology really started to gallop. So they broke things down into pipelines, so that animators and other artists and TDs could handle more realistic, digestible quantities of tasks, and learn a fraction of what is actually required to make a series (or VFX shot, game, or feature). Is it better that way? On a lifestyle and business level, yeah I guess.  Companies are bringing bigger and better products to market, and artists are enjoying relatively decent work hours, but there’s a little hidden trap built into it. That is, people aren’t necessarily being pushed to learn more than they can currently handle. Sometimes you need to though, because you really didn’t get into this to continue to fly little flight trainers or simulators, or to fill gas tanks.  Most of you wanted to be jet pilots. You may not end up in top gun school, but the dream should stay alive. You may also find out you are an ace in other unexpected ways.  It doesn’t matter as long as you get pushed to some new limits.  Just remember that it’s easier when you’re young, while you still have all your brain cells and energy, and are still too naive to know when you’ve gotten in over your head.  When you thought less and just did. When you floundered and kicked until you figured it all out, like when you were learning to ride a bike or swim, or trying to figure out Call of Duty for the first time.

No, my worry isn’t so much about knowing limits, but NOT knowing them.  You’ll definitely know it when you do, after you’ve chewed some nails, lost some sleep, and when you have slammed your head into a wall with a million attempts at solving a problem from hell. Maybe it’s a new package or scripting language, or new management approach, or some higher profile animation sequence you want to take a stab at. People will let you try. They may not always use your completed shots as if they don’t like them, but they’ll be interested to see what you can do – especially if you make it clear you are prepared to keep plugging away till you get it right. If you don’t happen to be at a company yet, you might set a deadline for yourself and dive into some new package, or ask a company if you can submit a specific test for free on something. Maybe link up with someone you know to attempt something bigger together.  I’d certainly be willing to give my two cents worth on it if you needed some feedback – as many would.

Again, do it most when you are young, because you don’t see many jet fighter candidates showing up in their 40’s and 50’s. Those guys did their time earlier and are often pretty damn savvy about approaches at a macro level.  You’ll meet them, and will probably remember it, because they’ll be the ones who don’t tend to scare easy, or quit.  They also might just be the ones pushing you to some new limits, to a place where you can finally tackle the impossible and still have some spare capacity to see the next challenge before it nails you – and that you realize you are actually enjoying doing it.  That usually means you made it.

Doug Masters, for Toronto Animation Live, September 09


Toronto Animation Live is giving away two free Anime Passes to the Ottawa Animation Festival.

The Ottawa International Animation Festival (OIAF) is the largest of its kind in North America, attracting film buffs, art lovers, filmmakers, and cartoon fans from around the world to the nation’s capital.

In order to win a free pass ALL you must do is fill out the Toronto Animation Live Survey and email your name and contact info to info@torontoanimationlive.com

On Oct 1st we will place all of the names into the pot and draw two winners. Good Luck!

Please follow this link to the Toronto Animation Live survey.



3 09 2009





Alliance Films and Dose.ca Present the ‘9’- Inspired Character Design Contest

(September 2, 2009 – Toronto, Canada)  In celebration of the release of highly anticipated movie “9” on Wednesday, September 9, Alliance Films and Dose.ca are offering Canadians the chance to win a Two-Week Internship with Starz Animation Toronto and 1 of 9 Dell Studio laptop computers! Dell Studio laptop computers are available in a wide  array of funky patterns and colours, equipping contest winners with the ultimate in style and power to create their own masterpieces!

Alliance Films and Dose.ca have come together on a unique sweepstakes offer to give anyone who’s ever wanted to animate an opportunity to let their talent speak – and move – for itself!

This cross-promoted national campaign allows contest entrants the chance to design and create their very own character inspired by the film.  The contest, which is hosted on Dose.ca/contests, will be promoted in print, online and on TV throughout the Canwest network, Dell Canada website (www.dell.ca/9) and in Mr. Sub retail outlets across Canada.  The film hits theatres September 9, 2009, and the contest campaign runs until September 25, 2009.

“9” is the culmination of a 10-year project and features a world that director Shane Acker first explored in his 2004 Oscar®-nominated short of the same name. Acclaimed directors Tim Burton (Beetlejuice) and Timur Bekmambetov (Wanted) signed on to produce this new theatrical release.  Set in the not-too-distant future, the world’s machines have turned on mankind, creating social unrest and decimating the population. With humanity on the verge of extinction, a scientist gives life to a small group of creatures he created using bits and pieces of leftover objects. This resilient, ragtag tribe sets out to salvage the future of civilization.

Staying true to Acker’s vision, this nationally cross-promoted sweepstakes offers the opportunity to experience first-hand the inner workings of Starz Animation Studios in Toronto.  Entrants can create and design their very own character and biography for the film.  These submissions will then be judged by Starz Animation staff on criteria that covers the gamut of creativity, storyline, aesthetic and overall originality. The selected Grand Prize Winner will be awarded a Two-week internship at Starz Animation Toronto, the state of the art CG studio that provided the animation for the movie “9”.

Canadians who do not wish to participate in the animation portion of the contest are still encouraged to enter to win 1 of 9 Dell laptop computers, with winners selected by random draw.  Winning entries will be featured on the Dose.ca “9” contest microsite.


a.         There is no purchase necessary to enter the Contest. Enter using either of the methods of entry outlined below.  No entries will be accepted by any other means.

i.          To enter online for a chance to win the Grand Prize, complete and submit the entry form in full located at www.dose.ca/contests (the “Contest Website”), along with your original design concept for a proposed Character that would fit into universe of the film “9” (the “Character”).  Your Character design concept must include the following 2 components:

(a) an image of your proposed Character, created using any media (e.g. hand drawn or computer-created image, photograph, painting, etc), which you must upload to the Contest entry site in a jpg, tif or psd file format, and,

(b) a paragraph of maximum two hundred (200) words containing a description or the storyline of your proposed Character.

ii.         If you do not submit a Character design with your entry form, your entry will still be considered for a chance to win a Secondary Prize awarded by random draw.

For complete details or to enter to win, visit www.dose.ca/9

About Alliance Films, Inc.
Alliance Films is a leading distributor of motion pictures in Canada, with motion picture distribution operations in the United Kingdom and Spain. The Company distributes filmed entertainment to theatres, on DVD, online and to television broadcasters. Alliance Films holds the Canadian distribution rights to the productions of leading independent studios, including CBS Films, Focus Features, The Weinstein Company, Overture Films, The Film Department, A Bigger Boat, Grosvenor Park and Relativity Media.

About Starz Animation Toronto
Starz Animation Toronto (www.starzanimation.com),  a unit of Starz Media, LLC, is one of Canada’s leading high-quality digital animation studios, providing world-class computer-animated content for feature films, DVDs, television series, commercials, visual effects and shorts for Studios and independent producers, as well as proprietary productions. Starz Media, LLC, is a programming, production and distribution company operating worldwide. It includes the Film Roman, Anchor Bay Entertainment, and Manga Entertainment brands. Its units create animated and live-action programming – including theatrical films – and programming created under contract for other media companies. It distributes that programming, and programming acquired from outside producers, through home video retailers, theaters, broadcasters, ad supported and premium television channels, and Internet and wireless video distributors in the US and internationally. Starz Media (www.starzmedia.com) is a controlled subsidiary of Liberty Media Corporation attributed to the Liberty Capital Group.

About Canwest Media Inc.

Canwest Media Inc is a subsidiary of Canwest Global Communications Corp. (www.canwest.com; TSX: CGS and CGS.A).  An international media company, Canwest is Canada’s largest publisher of paid English language daily newspapers and owns, operates and/or holds substantial interests in conventional television, out-of-home advertising, specialty cable channels and web sites in Canada, New Zealand, Australia, Indonesia, Singapore, the United Kingdom and the United States.



For Alliance Films

Julius Comia, Director, Marketing & Promotions

(416) 309-4167 or julius.comia@alliancefilms.com

For Canwest

Phyllise Gelfand, Director of Communications

(416) 442-2936 or pgelfand@canwest.com

For Starz Animation Toronto

Jonathan Taylor, Vice President, Public Relations, Starz Media

(818) 748-4032 or jonathan.taylor@starz.com