The Lunar Year that Was

One of my 2015 New Year’s resolutions is to get back to blogging more often, but first I need to get caught up for 2014. It’s been an eventful and crazy year at Moonbot, and here are some of the things I should have mentioned as they happened.

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Joe, Brandon, Bill, me, and Beavan at the Annies

In January, The Scarecrow won the Annie Award for Best Special Production. This was the project that brought me back to Moonbot as Animation Supervisor, and the film and game were a genuine labors of love for the entire studio. Being recognized by our peers at ASIFA-Hollywood was tremendous!

2014 Annie Awards acceptance speech

2014 Annie Awards acceptance speech

In addition to the Annie Award, The Scarecrow also won a Grand Prix and two Golden Lions at Cannes (!), two Emmys, three Clios, and 5 Epica Awards (whew!). And it was viewed almost 14 million times on Youtube. What a great way to start 2014!

 

Silent was the project that made the holidays last season very busy at Moonbot. We finished Silent early this year for Dolby, to help them celebrate their long history of enhancing the cinematic experience through constantly improving sound technology. This film was a fun chance to bring back Morris Lessmore, and to use the charming Conductor Girl we’d created for Dolby. And it’s been nominated for an Annie Award for Best Animated Short Subject.

And here’s the birth of the Conductor Girl, in a super short film we made for Dolby to launch their new Atmos technology. This was Moonbot’s first foray into stereoscopic film-making. She’s one of my favorite characters to come out of Moonbot, and I hope we get the chance to do more with her. Love that hair!

 

 

We made two short films based on the work of Edgar Allan Poe, plus an interactive app about Poe, for the educational products-and-services company Amplify. The Raven was just nominated for an Annie Award for Best Animated Short Subject, and is working its way through the film festival circuit. That makes five Annie Award nominations for five different Moonbot projects in the last two years! Here’s the trailer for The Raven:

The other Poe film, The Cask of Amontillado, is one of my favorite Moonbot films, and is also being shown at selected film festivals. I’ll post a trailer for this one when we have one available. The films are meant to stand alone as short films, and to help middle-schoolers studying literature with the aid of digital tablets. I love the idea of using animation for educational purposes, and hope we do more of this.

The Cask of Amontillado

The Cask of Amontillado

 

 

A big chunk of the Moonbot animation team’s 2014 was spent on Disney Infitinity: Marvel Super Heros. It was a ball animating cut scenes and intros for these beautifully designed characters from The Avengers, Lilo and Stitch, Brave, and Guardians of the Galaxy.

We did the Guardians of the Galaxy intro animation well before the film came out, so we were flying blind as we animated, but I think we nailed the attitude. It’d be a ball to animate an entire feature like these intros.

 

 

This year also saw the release of our Scarecrow follow-up film, Boorito. We actually made Bootrito right after The Scarecrow, but it was released in October 2014 in conjunction with Chipotle’s annual Halloween fundraiser. It was a pleasure to take this iconic character and have some fun with him and his world, especially since we have a studio full of Walking Dead fans. I wish more people had seen this fun little film.

 

In November we were invited to be featured guests at CTNx, where we talked ourselves hoarse and ran ourselves ragged.

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Moonbot panel at CTNx with Bill Kroyer

It was great being back in Los Angeles to catch up with old friends, and buy some great books and art.

And late this year we got the amazing news that The Numberlys made the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences short list for the Best Animated Short Film Oscar.

This film is near and dear to me. I first came to Moonbot as a project hire about four years ago, before the studio had won the Oscar for Morris Lessmore, to work on The Numberlys app. And when I came back about two and a half years ago, one of my first tasks was to help turn  the project into a stand-alone short film. The animation department conceived, boarded, and animated several minutes worth of new content, and we retooled a substantial portion of the existing work.

Since the app had been out for a couple of years, we weren’t sure what would come of this effort, but we went ahead and put it out to film festivals. In addition to the Oscar short list, The Numberlys was nominated for an Annie Award last year, and won Best Animated Short Film at the Cleveland International Film Festival, the Audience Award at the Durango Film Festival, and the TIFF Kids Audience Choice Award at Toronto, among other honors. And who knows, you may just see some more of these charming little gibberish-speakers in 2015 if we have our way.

In between these projects, I got the chance to write and direct on an internal project that I look forward to highlighting next year. And, of course, the above is about the animation output of Moonbot that was released last year. There are a few animated projects I can’t show yet, plus I’ve left out the apps and books that the rest of the Moonbot team has been busy making. The best is yet to come! Happy holidays, everyone!

One Response to “The Lunar Year that Was”

  1. Scott Wiser Says:

    Wow, Kevin. I have never seen this blog before and I’m so glad I checked it out. I really enjoyed your articles of Story, Characters, and Appeal – they were extremely thoughtful really made me think about my current projects and how to make them better! Thanks for sharing these many, compelling thoughts.

    Also, congrats on these successful shorts and the awards they’ve gathered! You’ve certainly nailed the appeal factor!

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The animation and animation-related musings of Kevin Koch