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Archive for the 'Education' Category

Gary Gutierrez, Animator, Title Designer, SFX Supervisor And So Much More!

Friday, April 17th, 2020

I had the pleasure of sitting down with Gary Gutierrez, an exceptionally talented animator, title designer, SFX supervisor and more. From his start as an animator on Sesame Street, to his work as the SFX supervisor on The Right Stuff, Gary has watched the industry rapidly transform from cell animation and optical printers to CGI and digital compositing.

Originally, films used glass matte paintings to create environments impossible to do in real life. For example, the original 1933 King Kong used many layers of etched glass to give the effect of a massive gorilla in a lush forest. The film then used a technique called “rear projection” to put the actors’ performances inside it. Since then, techniques have changed with films such as Back to the Future, using a combination of robotic camera movements, blue screens and miniature models to create a futuristic society. While matte paintings still exist to this day, matte painters use computer software such as Adobe Photoshop or Foundry Nuke, far from the layered glass planes filmmakers used nearly a century ago. 

Despite this revolution in techniques, Gary states that the principles haven’t changed. No matter the method, compositional rules and understanding how light works still play a major role in creating realistic effects that fit a scene. For that reason, Gary suggests learning how to draw instead of only learning how to use modern computer software. 

Skilled drawers still have great importance in the modern film industry. Animation takes so long to do, that virtually every animated film will “storyboard” before beginning. Storyboarding involves rough sketches of every frame of the film, allowing animators to easily replicate the design of characters, worlds and framing of every shot in the film. Live-action films use storyboards as well, especially when planning complicated and expensive scenes. For example, Gary did the storyboard for Black Stallion, a live-action film. In a certain scene, the filmmakers had to use a horse, a child actor, a camera on a helicopter and a large racetrack. A storyboard allows every person on the production team to know what to do and keeps the entire production organized. Even outside storyboarding, drawing gives creators the ability to clarify precisely their vision of what a shot should look like. 

While the medium of cinema will keep transforming, thanks to the rapid evolution of technology, Gary’s career and wisdom demonstrate just how important it shall always be to maintain learning the elements that make cinema – lights, camera and action. Thanks Gary for your remarkable contribution to filmmaking.

By Gerry O., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 17
Author’s Page – Amazon
World According to G

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Introducing industry leader, Geneva Wasserman, SVP, Condé Nast Entertainment

Friday, March 13th, 2020

Today in our third installment of our CSuite Interviews, we’d like to introduce you to Geneva Wasserman, SVP Motion Pictures, Condé Nast Entertainment.

Wasserman, a nearly 20-year veteran of the entertainment industry, previously was co-founder and executive producer of Project Z Entertainment where she is credited for producing Door Man and Godfrey.  While there, Wasserman and Tim Marlowe struck a deal with Microsoft to develop and implement proprietary artificial intelligence software tools to better predict market reaction to entertainment and advertising content.

Previously, Wasserman was president of Whitener Entertainment Group, a film/TV production house focused on family and animation, and president of WV Enterprises, Wilmer Valderrama’s film and television production company, where she produced Seoul Searching and Gnome Alone. She also co-founded publishing and advertising platforms True360VR and 360 AdSpots.

Wasserman started her career as an attorney with law firm Gray Cary. She has worked as an entertainment licensing attorney and in business development, finance and production roles on projects at Disney, Lionsgate, Oxygen, DreamWorks Animation, Fox Searchlight, 20th Century Fox and Discovery, among others.

Condé Nast Entertainment (CNE) is an award-winning next generation studio and distribution network with entertainment content across film, television, premium digital video, social, virtual reality and OTT channels. CNE develops, produces and distributes video content across 17 brands, including Bon Appétit, Glamour, GQ, Vanity Fair, Vogue and Wired. We can’t wait to see what Ms. Wasserman brings to life at CNE.

Interview by Nathalia J., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 11

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Llama Llama Best Summer Ever! – Tons of Fun for Young Kids & Families

Thursday, June 27th, 2019

Llama Llama springs to life in these heart-warming tales based on the award-winning book series by author and illustrator Anna Dewdney.  Join Llama Llama, Nelly Gnu, Luna Giraffe, Euclid the Sheep and Gilroy Goat as they explore their safe, friendly hometown and make childhood memories. On this DVD, join Llama Llama as he camps, boats, floats and swims his way through his BEST summer ever!  Adventure and learning awaits with Llama Llama and pals! KIDS FIRST! Film Critic Katherine S. comments, “Llama Llama’s Best Summer Ever! is so entertaining to watch. It has adorable characters, fun animation, great music and lots vibrant content.  The short episodes are the perfect length to keep young children entertained.” Selene W. adds, “Llama Llama is an animated series full of family values and nature adventures!…There are eight episodes on the new DVD Llama Llama BEST Summer Ever! Llama Llama has exciting adventures with his family and friends which include valuable life lessons at the beach, camping and around the town.” KIDS FIRST! Adult Reviewer Jennifer V. wraps it up with, “Through Llama Llama and his friends Nelly Gnu, Luna Giraffe, Euclid the Sheep and Gilroy Goat, kids will learn how to problem-solve, work as part of a team, help others, develop friendship and enjoy their families with awesome summer activities such as making lemonade, camping, boating, swimming and kite flying.” See their full reviews below.

Llama Llama’s Best Summer Ever!
By Katherine S., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 11

Llama Llama’s Best Summer Ever! is so entertaining to watch. It has adorable characters, fun animation, great music and lots vibrant content.  The short episodes are the perfect length to keep young children entertained.

This DVD is about Llama Llama and his friend having the time of their lives on their summer vacation. Episodes include Let’s Go Camping, Beach Day, Boat Float and Last Day of Summer. Wherever Llama Llama goes, there will always be fun.

The Llama Llama animated series is so cool, because they are based on the award-winning book series by author and illustrator Anna Dewdney.  There are several lovable characters including Llama Llama, Nelly Gnu and Luna Giraffe. This DVD is approximately 90 minutes long with eight episodes.  My favorite episode is Last Day of Summer, because it shows that even if the weather is bad you can still have fun indoors during the summer.

There are a lot of positive messages in this DVD including keeping a positive attitude when your plans change unexpectedly and, if you go with the flow and have a positive attitude, the outcome can still be fun.  We also learn that a little bit of practice can make you feel more confident and that if you feel as if you are not getting enough attention from your parents, just know that they still love you. This DVD has no bad language and there is nothing risky or dangerous that kids might try to do.  However, there are scenes showing jealously.

I give this DVD 4 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 5 to 8. This DVD is available now. I totally recommend this DVD for your kids.

Llama Llama’s Best Summer Ever
By Selene Weiss, KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, Age 11

Llama Llama’s Best Summer Ever is a DVD filled with episodes that are full of family values and nature adventures!  This heartwarming animated series is based on the beloved children’s books by Anna Dewdney who also illustrated the books.  There are eight episodes on the new DVD Llama Llama BEST Summer Ever!

Llama Llama has exciting adventures with his family and friends which include valuable life lessons at the beach, camping and around the town.  The series features Jennifer Garner as the voice of the loving Mama Llama.  My favorite episode is “Last Day of Summer” where Llama Llama seizes the day with friends and goes to the park to fly kites and ends up using imagination when the weather complicates their plans.  Change can be exciting and fun!

The message of this series is to learn from family and friends and to enjoy  childhood.  Change can be tough but you can always enjoy time with family and friends.

I rate this DVD 4 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 3 to 6.  The DVD is available now.

Llama Llama’s Best Summer Ever
By Jennifer V., KIDS FIRST! Juror

Llama Llama’s Best Summer Ever! DVD is tons of fun and will appeal to kids and families. It’s a bright and happy animated series that is based on Anna Dewdney’s books about an adventurous llama and his circle of family and friends. This DVD has eight episodes with an option to play all the episodes or select them one at a time at an approximate run time of 90 minutes of lively entertainment.

The series employs bright colors, fun animals and engaging story lines that align with the daily activities that many kids are involved in, to capture their interest. The cute story lines deliver positive messages. For example, Llama Llama’s kite is torn on the last day of summer and his mom teaches him resourcefulness. There’s no need to buy a new one, we can fix this one and it will be better than before. The writing structure is straightforward and geared towards its target audience. The continuity and style reinforce each episode’s message, teamwork, resourcefulness and helping others. The series uses vocabulary that appeals to young kids. For example, when Llama Llama’s kite is torn his mom states that she will help him make a swirl-o-rama kite!

Through Llama Llama and his friends Nelly Gnu, Luna Giraffe, Euclid the Sheep and Gilroy Goat, kids will learn how to problem-solve, work as part of a team, help others, develop friendship and enjoy their families with awesome summer activities such as making lemonade, camping, boating, swimming and kite flying. The series visually appeals to kids with its bright colors and cute animal friends. The DVD cover is appropriate and appeal as it features Llama Llama and his friends. There is also a listing of each episode included, with a picture next to it representing what the episode is about.

There are educational benefits as kids are taught about problem solving and teamwork. For example, Llama Llama wants to help his friend buy a new bike tire, so he opens a lemonade stand to earn the money. His friends help him improve his product and help with marketing it. Additionally, kids are shown that everyone can be included even if they don’t do the same things. i.e. Euclid the Sheep shows up when everyone’s flying kites. He doesn’t have a kite, but he can make calculations on wind, temperature and time to help the other kites fly. There are several messages in this series about teamwork, resourcefulness, friendship, family and helping others. The DVD menu has an option to watch all the episodes or select them one at a time. I give this DVD 5 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 2 to 11.

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KIDS FIRST!’s partner, Kidstar Radio Launches Kickstarter Campaign on Labor Day

Thursday, August 28th, 2014

kidstar.jpgKidstar Radio Network, our partner that produces our KIDS FIRST! Coming Attractions radio show, is launching a Kickstarter campaign Sept. 1 for a new international program called Voyage Earth.

“I’ve never been so excited in my life,” said Perry Damone, CEO of Kidstar. “International children have been interested and now we have a proper way to introduce them to Kidstar.”

Voyage Earth is Kidstar’s newest program idea. The program will consist of children creating radio packages about current events that will then be used by larger news corporations just like a news wire service.

These packages will include everything from gang violence in the south side of Chicago to even family problems in the London to ‘Foodie News’ from Kid Chef Eliana.

“I think that when we give children a voice to such a large stage, people will listen,” said Damone. “These kids create professional shows and it is about time we get them to the professional limelight. We give the children the tools to create the shows and then we let them be the driver.”

The Kickstarter itself will run from Sept. 1 to Oct. 10.

Some of the rewards include:

•    $25 – A personal thank you letter from the Kidstar staff and kids.
•    $50 – A starter radio kit that includes a headset with a microphone, instructions to start a YouTube account and a tote bag with a Kidstar hat.
•    $3,800 – An annual subscription to the Kidstar Radio Program for your school.Check it out,  https://www.kickstarter.com/

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Scholarships Available for Film Critics Boot Camps in Silver Spring and Martha’s Vineyard

Wednesday, July 9th, 2014

KFCA.2014_1.jpgIf your child loves films, loves to talk about them and loves to be on camera, we have a camp for you! This “opportunity of a lifetime” experience offers learning and fun all in one. One of our sponsors just made available two partial scholarships for our camp in Silver Spring, MD next week (July 14-18) and another has made two FULL SCHOLARSHIPS available in Martha’s Vineyard for our camp August 11-15. If you can take advantage of these opportunities, don’t delay, do it today!
The camp is open to boys and girls, ages 10 to 15. This unique boot camp helps build self confidence and explores the behind-the-scenes aspects of the film industry while kids critique the latest films, learn to write reviews, practice interview techniques, improve on-camera skills, visit with industry professionals and are coached by seasoned professionals. All campers will have the opportunity to join the KIDS FIRST! Film Critic team of reporters afterwards.

The KIDS FIRST! Film Critic’s program, now in its fourth year, has received acclaim from publishers and educators alike. The reviews, both written and videotaped, by the team of youth reporters reach an audience of more than 7 million monthly through affiliations with broadcast, print and online publishers including Huffington Post, YouTube, Voice America Kids Network, Kidsville News, Working Woman, Kidzworld.com, HDnet Movies KidScene, LA Parent, Westchester Parent and many more.

Leading the KIDS FIRST! teaching team is Ranny Levy, founder and president of KIDS FIRST! / Coalition for Quality Children’s Media, a former television producer, educator and long-time children’s media advocate. With a life-long interest in film and children’s use of film, Carol Darcy, with an EdD in Education Leadership and Curriculum Development (Boston University) has taught kindergarten, undergraduate and graduate students. She designed a professional development course called Being a Pro-Active Media Literacy Advocate. Carol joins the KIDS FIRST! Film Critic Boot Camp staff this summer on Martha’s Vineyard.

The week-long boot camps meet Monday through Friday from 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. in Silver Spring and 9 a.m to 2:00 p.m. at Martha’s Vineyard. Locations include:

  • July 14 – 18:  Silver Spring, MD, Discovery Communications (DCE World Headquarters)
  • Aug 11 – Aug 15: Martha’s Vineyard, Martha’s Vineyard Film Center

For more information and to register, go to http://www.kidsfirst.org. Please act soon, because space is limited. Tuition: $459. The partial scholarships in Silver Springs brings the camp down to $225 per child! There are two full scholarships available for kids at the Martha’s Vineyard Camp. For more information visit http://www.kidsfirst.org/become-a-juror/2014.BootCamp.html

KIDS FIRST! Film Critic Boot Camp is a program of the 23-year-old, national, nonprofit organization,  Coalition for Quality Children’s Media  whose mission is to teach children critical viewing skills and to increase the visibility and availability of quality children’s media. For more information visit http://www.kidsfirst.org.

“Your efforts to make media a more valuable part of students’ lives is critically important,” John Wilson, Executive Director, National Education Association.

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