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Digital Media FX News Archives

Tuesday - April 3, 2001
- Disney to Slash Animator Salaries!
- Film Roman Strives for "Edgier" Animated Series
- Disney's New Marketing Concept: Atlantis Prequel Game
- News Link of the Day - Animators' Salaries are Next Target for Disney


Disney to Slash Animator Salaries!
(by digitalmediafx.com) It doesn't pay to be a Disney animator like it use to. According to the Orlando Sentinel, "In another effort to boost its bottom line, the Walt Disney Co. is telling its animators, including 225 Orlando artists, that it plans to slash their salaries."

The move comes as Disney prepares to lay off 4,000 employees in order to help increase profits. The Orlando Sentinel points out that Michael Eisner recently received an $11.5 million performance bonus, while he seeks to cut animator salaries by 30%.

Laying off animators and reducing other animator salaries could result in lower moral and work that is not up to par with past Disney animated productions. It can also hurt Disney's reputation within the animation industry as studios like DreamWorks, Aardman, and Pixar (which has a contract with Disney) continue to put out top of the line animated productions. At the recent Animatasia Awards, which recognizes excellence in the animation industry, Disney failed to pick up a nomination for "Best Animation Studio," which was won by Pixar.

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Film Roman Strives for "Edgier" Animated Series
(by digitalmediafx.com) Film Roman is exhibiting five new animated TV series this week at MIPTV in hopes of gaining market interest for the productions. Each series is made up of half hour episodes. The new series include John Waters' "Patent Leather Dreamhouse," Norman Lear's "'Til the Fat Lady Sings," "Hairballs," "Zippy the Pinhead" and "Tripping the Rift."

"These series represent a departure from the look and feel of the prime time and kids series we're usually associated with and offer an edgier sensibility that will have strong appeal for audiences worldwide," says Peter Schankowitz, President of Programming and Development for Film Roman.

Here's a rundown of the five animated series as provided by Film Roman:

John Waters' "Patent Leather Dreamhouse," featuring an animated Waters as the host to an assortment of "Hairspray"/"Pink Flamingo"-type characters in strange and unusual plot lines. Created by Mike B. Anderson.

"'Til the Fat Lady Sings," Norman Lear's honest look at the lives of a motley crew of elderly people living in a Santa Monica Senior Center. Act III Productions will co-produce. Charlotte Brown and John Baskin are the creators.

"Hairballs," a satirical twist on the classic "cat and mouse" cartoons, revealing the dark side of three domestic cats that live together and are desperate to get along while dealing with the daily trials of living the cat lifestyle. "Hairballs" was developed in house and first seen as a short on Film Roman's Web site, LEVEL13.net, and has garnered numerous awards and critical acclaim. Doug Lawrence is the creator.

"Zippy the Pinhead," a dialogue between two facets of the character, "Zippy the Pinhead." Zippy is the childlike clown representing the kid in everyone while Griffy is the adult, rational man. "Zippy the Pinhead" explores the pop excesses of consumer society with a love/hate relationship. Bill Griffith is the creator of this 30-year-old comic strip.

"Tripping the Rift," a science fiction comedy that gives new meaning to the word "edgy." A diverse troop consisting of a little purple blob, an arrogant gold robot and a luscious first officer face off against the scourge of the Universe, the Dark Clown Darth Bobo. "Tripping the Rift" is a funny, frank and insane series that will leave you asking your friends, "did you see that?" Chris Moeller and Chuck Austen are the creators.

MIPTV is a five-day tradeshow where studios exhibit in hopes of interesting broadcasters in their new TV series. There are hundreds of exhibitors.

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Disney's New Marketing Concept: Atlantis Prequel Game
(digitalmediafx.com) Disney is unleashing a new marketing concept to promote its upcoming animated feature, Atlantis: The Lost Empire. The concept is to "give away" a prequel adventure game that leads up to where the movie begins. The game, titled "Disney's Atlantis: The Lost Empire -- Search for the Journal" will be given away to millions of people through the following venues:

- Specially marked boxes of Kellogg's Corn Pops cereal will feature the prequel CD-ROM inside the box.

- Included with The Emperor's New Groove DVD, which hits store shelves on May 1, 2001.

- Beginning May 13 and exclusively at Walgreens stores, consumers who bring their film in for development and choose Walgreens Quality Processing will receive a prequel CD-ROM with their prints.

- Copies of the prequel will be poly-bagged with May 2001 issues of Disney Adventures magazines, both through subscription and newsstand editions.

- Consumers can receive a copy of the prequel at selected locations within the theme parks, resort hotels and cruise ships.

© Walt Disney Pictures. All Rights Reserved

The game is described as follows:

"After centuries of concealment, the mystery of Atlantis is finally unveiled. The Shepherd's Journal, an ancient book holding all the secrets to finding the lost city of Atlantis, is hidden somewhere in Iceland. With Captain Rourke in charge, a team of skilled adventurers must travel deep within the snowy country to find the guarded journal.

Players unlock the secrets of an ancient Viking labyrinth to battle keepers and capture the journal in this first-person, single- and multi-player PC action game."

In addition, the game will feature an original animation sequence by Walt Disney Feature Animation. The game will also include online multiplayer capabilities.

"We believe the future of interactive media is convergence, and we want to make the future happen now, for this film," said Jan Smith, president, Disney Interactive. "By creating a movie prequel in the form of an interactive game, playable online with mass distribution, we bring millions of people into a new kind of entertainment experience. While millions of people have enjoyed Disney movies in theaters and at home, now people from all over the world, simultaneously, can interact inside a 3D world of Atlantis -- almost becoming virtual cast members. This is a breakthrough experience in the world of entertainment, and Disney is uniquely positioned to deliver it."

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News Link of the Day - Animators' Salaries are Next Target for Disney

According to the Orlando Sentinel:

"In another effort to boost its bottom line, the Walt Disney Co. is telling its animators, including 225 Orlando artists, that it plans to slash their salaries.

The company is targeting employees with salaries above the minimum guaranteed by a collective bargaining agreement, about $1,400 a week for the Orlando animators.

Disney's goal is to trim 30 percent from the animation payroll..."

Click here for the full story.

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