Archive for February, 2009

“The Velveteen Rabbit” – an Interview With Tim Nelson

Wednesday, February 11th, 2009

Our last newsletter highlighted a fantastic version of “The Velveteen Rabbit.” Here to tell us more about it is Tim Nelson, Creative Development Director from  Feature Films for Families / New Movie Corp.CP: There are several film versions of “The Velveteen Rabbit” out there. What made you decide to cover it again, and what were some of the challenges you faced once you made this decision?TN:  We wanted to make “The Velveteen Rabbit” an epic film for adults and children. Something for the silver screen that really felt bigger than life. Combining animation and live action was a challenge – how to write a story where we keep the classic 1900’s feel and are able to go in and out of those two worlds seamlessly without any gimmicky effects yet not be jarred back and forth. It worked.CP: The real-life mixed with animation was a real visual treat. Please tell me a bit behind the thought process behind the visuals (how did you come up with the ideas for the visuals and the animations)?A: The scenic design in the early stages was brilliant. Very talented artists painted backdrops that were a bit fantasy mixed with the new reality for Toby in a world he created as an escape. The other challenge was how to design the characters. We talked about going with a classic Winnie The Pooh style where at first the animation world was soft and pastel versus brilliant saturated colors but became more colorful as Toby’s imagination grew. While all were not all in full agreement, we resolved to brilliant saturated colors right from the get go. The general thinking was that we should go more contemporary with a 3D backgrounds and keep the characters in the attic traditional 2 dimensional. This business is all about give and take. Collaboration. All of us had to check our egos at the door.CP: Please tell me a bit about the animation process itself, such as what programs you used and what some of the the challenges were.TN:  With all the waterfalls, rivers, underwater scenes, fires, flying and so on, we used so many softwares. Here’s a few:  Maia, Adobe AfterEffects, Illustrator, Shake, Motion, The challenge was how to marry them all together. Some scenes had up to 30 or more layers so the time to render all those layers took a very long time.  In the beginning we were planning on the animation taking 18 months. In the end it took over five years to finish.CP: Please give me an anecdote or description of something unexpected that happened during the filming process that made you grow as a producer.TN:  That is a great question and a funny one, too. The little boy character Toby was only about 10 years old when we shot all the live action. By the time we finished the animation and the editing we needed to do some more voice work with him he was married and had children of his own. I’m kidding. But his voice had completely changed and he was about to finish high school. The moral of the story is mathematical. When you are told it will take “x” amount of time to do a project and “y” is the cost, here is the equation to figure out what it REALLY is going to take: (x= time) times 3 +(y= cost) times 4 + s (sweat) + p (patience) + a (agony) = end product. I still love this business.CP:  What was your personal favorite part of the film and why?TN:  As a boy, I always dreamed about flying so I loved that part. As an adult I really loved it when Grandmother’s cold and hard attitude started to warm up and soften a little with Toby. Sometimes, as a child, I felt adults didn’t understand me and I didn’t want to understand them. But like making the movie, life is about give and take and collaboration and patience. It is not easy being a child sometimes. As I have had cancer my three children have had to change and grow up a little faster. Because of this, they have much more compassion for others.CP: What are you hoping the audiences will get out of this film?TN:  I hope they will get that “love really does make us all real.” Loving one another and treating others how we want to be treated is a key to happiness.CP:  Why do you think this film is good for KIDS FIRST!?TN:  I have always been such a big fan of KIDS FIRST! and “The Velveteen Rabbit” fits right in so perfectly with what KIDS FIRST! is doing. I love talking to KIDS FIRST! audiences as well. They are children who are very smart about watching movies, and I trust their opinions very much.CP: Is there anything you would like to add?TN:  I love the line said by rabbit to Toby in the tree:  “Just put your heart into it and the rest of you will follow” Isn’t that how we overcome fear?

Gospel Music Channel Presents World TV Premiere of New VeggieTales® DVD

Thursday, February 5th, 2009

Bob the Tomato, Larry the Cucumber, and their VeggieTales® friends will make their Gospel Music Channel (GMC) television network debut when GMC presents the world television premiere of the new VeggieTales® DVD, “Abe and the Amazing Promise” on Sat. Feb 7 at 9:00 a.m. ET (Also 10a, 11a, 2p, 3p, 4p.)“Abe and the Amazing Promise” is a Veggie-spun Bible classic that tells the story of Abraham and Sarah and their wait for a promised child.  Featuring a lesson in patience, “Abe and the Amazing Promise” showcases popular nationally-syndicated radio host Delilah as the voice of Sarah.  Abe and the Amazing Promise also includes the debut of a brand new Silly Song entitled “Sneeze If You Need To!” and a snappy new song about patience, “Willing To Wait.”GMC, the nation’s first and only 24/7 television network devoted to Gospel/Christian music and programming, will bring VeggieTales® back in April for a similar two week run leading up to the world television premiere of VeggieTales® “An Easter Carol” DVD, in time for Easter 2009.The programming is part of a new agreement between GMC and Big Idea, Inc., a leading faith-based studio and producer of children’s and family entertainment products, programming, characters and brands, including the popular animated series VeggieTales®.About Big Idea, Inc.Big Idea, Inc., an entertainment rights group company, is the leading faith-based studio and producer of children’s and family programming, characters and brands. Since 1993, Big Idea’s best-selling animated series VeggieTales has sold 52+ million books and 7+ million albums.  VeggieTales and Big Idea’s newest property, “3-2-1 Penguins!,” are in their second season as the top-rated series on NBC Saturday mornings, Telemundo and ION TV via the qubo children’s programming block.

ARTHUR/All Kids Can Character Search

Monday, February 2nd, 2009

Calling all ARTHUR fans! Do you have an idea for a new friend for Arthur, D.W. or Buster? Well, here’s your chance to create a character for Elwood City. ARTHUR, the award-winning PBS KIDS GO! television series, and CVS Caremark All Kids Can, a program dedicated to making life easier for kids with disabilities, are teaming up to announce the “ARTHUR/All Kids Can Character Search”!Beginning February 1, 2009, the “ARTHUR/All Kids Can Character Search” invites children ages 6-12 to send in their ideas for a new character for Arthur. And not just any character–one who can show that having a unique ability, character trait, or disability might make life a little bit different, but not any less fun. Kids can mail in their entries, with a drawing of their character and a description of what makes them special, starting February 1, 2009. The child with the selected idea, along with their character, will be featured in a live-action segment on the ARTHUR show. In addition, he or she will receive a visit from ARTHUR creator and author Marc Brown at the child’s school, local library, or PBS member station.The character search is designed to educate children about the importance of inclusion and how children of all abilities can play together. It also encourages parents and children to think about what life is like for someone they know who has a disability.”We’re looking for an exciting new character, who can show the gang in Elwood City that children come in all shapes, sizes and abilities,” said ARTHUR Senior Producer Jacqui Deegan. “Over the years, ARTHUR has helped children to embrace other kids’ unique characteristics as well as their own, and this new character will continue that tradition.”CVS Caremark All Kids Can supports programs and services that help children with disabilities learn, play, and succeed in life. For over 11 years, ARTHUR has celebrated the importance of friendship and the value of accepting and including kids with different abilities from all walks of life. For instance, Buster shows that kids with asthma can do just about anything, Marina shows her friends what it’s like to be blind, George succeeds as a student with dyslexia, and Carl–in an upcoming season–will share what it’s like to have autism.”We’re thrilled to partner with ARTHUR,” said Eileen Howard Dunn, Senior Vice President of Corporate Communications and Community Relations at CVS Caremark. “For years, we’ve watched the series become a trusted resource for kids to learn valuable life lessons, by relating to its vibrant, loveable characters. This is a perfect way to further our mission of helping kids develop an understanding and acceptance of disabilities.”The selected character will be chosen by a panel of judges including the producers of the ARTHUR show, and colleagues from CVS Caremark All Kids Can. The panel includes Tolon Brown from Marc Brown Studios; Terri Mauro, About.com’s Guide to Parenting Special Needs; Matt Cavedon from Boundless Playgrounds; Katy Beh Neas, Vice President of Government Relations for Easter Seals; and Susan Kane, Editor-in-Chief of Parenting magazine’s “School Years” edition. Nine additional finalists will receive prize packages including CVS gift cards and ARTHUR merchandise.Fans can visit pbskidsgo.org/arthur/allkidscan to download the entry form beginning February 1, 2009. Entries must be postmarked by March 31, 2009.Funding for the “ARTHUR/All Kids Can Character Search” is provided by CVS Caremark All Kids Can. 

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