The upcoming Little Nemo game, dreams Mega Ran to its soundtrack

The Little Nemo and the Nightmare Fiends new video game is currently on Kickstarter, based on the very groundbreaking early 1900s Little Nemo in Slumberland comic strips by American cartoonist Windsor McCay, has some new surprises for gaming fans, with an addition to its soundtrack.

But first, a little more about the game:

Little Nemo and the Nightmare Fiends follows the adventures of a 7-year-old boy in the world of his dreams. Little Nemo and the Nightmare Fiends finds Nemo and his friends fighting off the invasion of the Nightmare Fiends, who threaten the existence of Slumberland itself!

Featuring hand-drawn, keyframed artwork and animation, Little Nemo and the Nightmare Fiends combines the exquisite art and wild dreams of the original comic with reimagined characters and new adventures. The game is currently in early prototype form and is tentatively slated to release in 2022.

Pie for Breakfast Studios, an award-winning game studio blending play with the arts, and independent studio PxlPlz recently announced the soundtrack for Little Nemo and the Nightmare Fiends will be composed by Wayne Strange, a video game composer, vocalist, and orchestrator whose previous work includes score prep work on game soundtracks like Star Trek: The Video Game and God of War: Ascension, as well as arrangements for Materia Collective and Video Games Live.

The soundtrack will also include a guest track by the prolific hip-hop nerdcore artist Mega Ran, whose music blends education, hip-hop, and gaming. He has covered and remixed numerous classic game soundtracks, including Capcom’s Little Nemo the Dream Master (which is an awesome and very underrated classic of the NES 8-bit era).

Mega Ran’s recently released a memoir, Dream Master, that details his personal journey and is named after Little Nemo. Current plans for the soundtrack will see it exploring different genres of music, lending the game a lucid dream-like quality. Backers to the game’s Kickstarter can pre-order a copy of the soundtrack in both digital and CD formats.

Here is the Little Nemo track backed by the Little Nemo NES game music.

Further details of the game involve the control of Nemo and his 3 friends: the magic-wielding Princess of Slumberland, the mischievous clown Flip, and the agile royal guard Peony, an original character created for this game. Each character has different abilities that help them navigate the dangers in Slumberland. The game offers a system that lets players switch between characters quickly, allowing them to use different characters’ abilities in tandem for powerful combinations.

The music and animation look promising for Little Nemo and the Nightmare Fiends. Check out the Kickstarter and eventual release details at www.LittleNemoGame.com.

Short Animated Film Find: Burn Out

Burn Out

  • Director, writer, animator: Cécile Carre
  • Published: 2017 online and at multiple short film festivals

Synopsis: S​tella,​ ​a​ ​space​ ​mechanician,​ ​has​ ​broken​ ​down​ ​and​ ​ended​ ​on​ ​a​ ​desert​ ​planet.​ ​While​ ​she​ ​is​ ​in​ ​despair,​ ​a​ ​little​ ​girl appears​ ​out​ ​of​ ​nowhere.​ ​Following​ ​the​ ​child​ ​into​ ​a​ ​tunnel,​ ​in​ ​the​ ​depths​ ​of​ ​the​ ​planet,​ ​she​ ​discovers​ ​a​ ​big​ ​cave​ ​full​ ​of objects​ ​that​ ​belonged​ ​to​ ​her,​ ​reminding​ ​her​ ​the​ ​dreams​ ​she​ ​has​ ​left​ ​behind.

Personal Thoughts:

This full film is short, but says much on the current human condition, how many of us feel deep inside yearning for more. We feel trapped, bound to duty, ever-dreaming, never-quite reaching. There is a struggle that I feel in our protagonists dilemma. But, then a child’s voice brings us forward.

We figure it out, an imagination in the story and from the storyteller, clueing us on the real dilemma. Not the need to fix a spaceship but to fix the pilot and get back on real course. The one she dreamed of as a child, and eventually gave up on. The curiosity, imagination, and drive to return to that childlike wonder and push to something better, is what brings our pilot back to the stars. But not so much to work, but to something new and daring.

“I am afraid to give up my dreams when I grow up”.

That’s a great line, for those who indulge in their desire to explore, travel, see new sights should push that priority above simple mundane duties of getting by. I love the message here.

I also love the animation. Very fluid character movement with an awesome use of space, colors, shapes, taking us viewers away for about 4 minutes, and then beyond for what our memory captures. I love every second. The music also fits.

Director, animator Cécile Carre’s artistic style inspires and amazes. She has art prints you can buy at www.inprnt.com/gallery/carrececile. Check them out!

Unreal’s MetaHuman Creator takes digital character-making to its next gen level

Epic Games recently announced MetaHuman Creator, a new software tool based off its Unreal Engine. This new tool can craft hyper realistic faces and next gen body movements and facial animations. For now, it’s in its development phase, and will be open for testing later through 2021.

It’s very detailed, and promises much for potential users…

Epic details much more from a recent news release:

MetaHuman Creator is a cloud-streamed app designed to take real-time digital human creation from weeks or months to less than an hour, without compromising on quality. It works by drawing from an ever-growing library of variants of human appearance and motion, and enabling you to create convincing new characters through intuitive workflows that let you sculpt and craft the result you want. As you make adjustments, MetaHuman Creator blends between actual examples in the library in a plausible, data-constrained way. You can choose a starting point by selecting a number of preset faces to contribute to your human from the diverse range in the database. 

You can select from around 30 hair styles that use Unreal Engine’s strand-based hair, or hair cards for lower-end platforms. There’s also a set of example clothing to choose from, as well as 18 differently proportioned body types. When you’re happy with your human, you can download the asset via Quixel Bridge, fully rigged and ready for animation and motion capture in Unreal Engine, and complete with LODs. You’ll also get the source data in the form of a Maya file, including meshes, skeleton, facial rig, animation controls, and materials.Once you have your asset, you can animate it using performance capture tools—you can use Unreal Engine’s Live Link Face iOS app, and we’re also currently working with vendors on providing support for ARKitDI4DDigital DomainDynamixyzFacewareJALISpeech Graphics, and Cubic Motion solutions—or keyframe it manually. Animations created for one MetaHuman will run on any other MetaHuman, enabling you to reuse work across projects.

So overall, very interesting with high potential for digital artists and developers of the Unreal Engine for games and animation projects. Anyone can delve in more with news updates (and possible beta-testing), and samples (see video below) to use with the latest Unreal update at unrealengine.com.

Stan Sakai’s Usagi Yojimbo set for a new animated Netflix adventure

Legendary cartoonist Stan Sakai’s longtime comic books epic adventure , Usagi Yojimbo, is coming to Netflix as an adapted new animated series. French TV company Gaumont has already begun production on what will be a CG-animated kid series titled: Samurai Rabbit: The Usagi Chronicles.

This series will be very different from the Edo Japanese era, setting forth a fresh foundation for our samurai rabbit. Described “is a series takes place in the far future, set in a world that mixes modern high-tech images with classic Japanese references. It follows the teenage Rabbit Samurai Yuichi, descendent of the great warrior Miyamoto Usagi, on his epic quest to become a true samurai. But he isn’t alone! He leads a ragtag team of misfit heroes – including a roguish bounty hunter, a cunning ninja, an acrobatic pickpocket and a faithful pet lizard – as he battles depth-charging moles, metal-tipped winged bats, and monsters from another dimension, all in the pursuit to become the best samurai Usagi!”

The will have the original Usagi creator, writer, artist, Stan Sakai on board as the Executive Producer, along with Gaumont (Executive Producers Nicolas Atlan, Terry Kalagian, Sidonie Dumas and Christophe Riandee), Dark Horse Entertainment (Executive Producers Mike Richardson, Keith Goldberg and Chris Tongue), and Atomic Monster (Executive Producers, James Wan, Michael Clear and Rob Hackett). Candie and Doug Langdale (Maya and the Three, The Book of Life, Puss in Boots, Niko and the Sword of Life, Kung Fu Panda: Legends of Awesomeness) are attached as executive producers and showrunners. Ben Jones (Batman vs Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, Teen Titans, Iron Giant) is Supervising Producer while Khang Le (Big Hero 6, Little Big Awesome) will serve as Art Director on the series. Mumbai-based 88 Pictures (Trollhunters, 3Below: Tales of Arcadia, Fast & Furious Spy Racers) has been appointed as the CGI animation studio.

The comic series meanwhile is well-known to the comics industry for nearly four decades with many awards including including a Parents’ Choice Award, an American Library Association Award, and the YALSA (Young Adult Library Services Association) Award. It’s still has an enormous fandom, with creator-owned roots that began alongside the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles in the mid-1980s, for which Usagi has also crossed over with in both the TMNT comics and animated series episodes.

Stan Sakai, legendary creator, writer and illustrator of the comic-book series speaks optimically of the new series in a recent press release, “It is a pleasure working with Gaumont and Netflix. I am involved in each step of the production and am enthusiastic with the direction we are going into. It is wonderful to expand the Usagi universe by collaborating with so many talented people. I am working with an awesome team and I’m looking forward to finally seeing an Usagi series on the screen! I thank my wonderful fans, friends and family for their support and encouragement over the last 35+ years.”

No release date has been set for the new Netflix series.

Editor Captain’s note: Personally, I am excited for this, though I would rather a more classic hand-drawn style than a CGI look. We shall wait for some visual previews, and hope it’s creative style matches the storytelling and direction that takes Usagi as something with more heart and care, than just being a sword-wielding cartoon rabbit.

E3 2018: Indivisible, a new animated gaming adventure revealed

 

Another overlooked gem from this year’s E3 Expo is Indivisible, a fully animated game with a hybrid of platforming and turned based classic RPG elements.

This new adventure is developed by Lab Zero (the creative team behind Skullgirls) and published by 505 Games.

Indivisible stars Ajna (AHZH-na), a girl who sets out on a globe-spanning journey to discover the truth behind her mysterious powers. On her quest she’ll be joined by a variety of unique heroes and gain new abilities to traverse the environments and defeat the enemies they’ll encounter along the way.

In addition to a fresh spin on RPG gameplay, Indivisible features a deep storyline inspired by southeast Asian and other world mythologies, Lab Zero’s trademark feature-quality 2D hand-drawn animation,

For the soundtrack, Lab Zero brought aboard Secret of Mana composer Hiroki Kikuta. The game will also have an animated opening by popular anime studio TRIGGER.

Indivisible is planned for release in 2019 for the PlayStation 4, Xbox One, Nintendo Switch, and Steam for Windows / Mac / Linux. For more info, check out the official site at www.indivisiblegame.com.

E3 2018: SABLE, a new indie game with Moebius inspired animation

Through this year’s E3 show event, an announcement trailer for a new game Sable stands out for something different and exciting for gaming fans.

The trailer gives a style must be stylized after the classic artwork and storytelling of Jean Henri Gaston Giraud, more known through his pseudonym Moebius. As for the story itself, it follows through its description from Shedworks, the developers behind the new game:

Sable is a coming-of-age tale of discovery through exploration across a strikingly rendered open world desert. Go on a deeply personal journey across an alien planet while learning its history and discovering Sable’s place in the world.

This is Sable. Created by Gregorios Kythreotis and Daniel Fineberg from a studio they’ve founded called Shedworks. Original soundtrack (including the song for the trailer) composed by experimental pop artist Michelle Zauner of Japanese Breakfast. Narrative crafted by the talented Meg Jayanth. Sound design from Independent Games Festival award-winning audio designer Martin Kvale. Animation by brilliant newcomer Micah Holland.

Sable is planned for release on the PC and consoles in 2019. For more info, visit sablegame.com

Netflix adds Matt Groening’s new animated Disenchantment to its queue

Netflix recently announced the addition of Disenchantment to its queue, an adult animated comedy fantasy series from the mind of Simpsons creator Matt Groening. 20 episodes are now ordered.

In Disenchantment, viewers are whisked away to the crumbling medieval kingdom of Dreamland, where they will follow the misadventures of hard-drinking young princess Bean, her feisty elf companion Elfo, and her personal demon Luci. Along the way, the oddball trio will meet ogres, sprites, harpies, imps, trolls, walruses, and lots of human fools.

“Ultimately,” says Matt Groening, “Disenchantment will be about life and death, love and sex, and how to keep laughing in a world full of suffering and idiots, despite what the elders and wizards and other jerks tell you.”

The series will feature the voice talents of Abbi Jacobson (“Bean”), Nat Faxon (“Elfo”) and Eric Andre (“Luci”), along with John DiMaggio, Billy West, Maurice LaMarche, Tress MacNeille, David Herman, Matt Berry, Jeny Batten, Rich Fulcher, Noel Fielding, and Lucy Montgomery. The animation is being done by Rough Draft Studios (Futurama).

Disenchantment will première on Netflix ten episodes at a time, starting off in 2018, produced by The ULULU Company for Netflix, with Matt Groening and Josh Weinstein (The SimpsonsFuturama) serving as executive producers.

“Matt Groening’s brilliant work has resonated with generations around the world and we couldn’t be happier to work with him on Disenchantment,” said Cindy Holland, Vice President, Original Content for Netflix. “The series will bear his trademark animation style and biting wit, and we think it’s a perfect fit for our many Netflix animation fans.”

Picture credit: Gage Skidmore, 2012 San Diego Comic-Con International

Short Film Find: Blade Runner – The Aquarelle Edition

Blade Runner – The Aquarelle Edition

  • Animator: Anders Ramsell
  • Published: Nov 8, 2013
  • Source: http://www.andersramsell.com
  • Note: Music and dialogue from original Blade Runner film

Synopsis: “This animation consists of 12 597 handmade aquarelle paintings, each painting is approximately 1,5*3cm in size. Together they form my 35-minute long paraphrase on the motion picture Blade Runner (1982) by Ridley Scott.”

Personal Thoughts:

Today, Blade Runner reaches its 35th anniversary of it original première date in 1982. The film may seem a bit lengthy and dry to some, with themes that go beyond your typical science fiction films of its time, including religious and philosophical symbolism, overreaching globalization, environmentalism. Such is much to take in, for those looking for more meaning in their imaginative storytelling. But I think the real cultural impact of this film, stays with the amazing visual direction, cinematography, set designs, and soundtrack. Such would influence and inspire countless persons towards creating their own dystopian visions and building upon the cyberpunk movement for decades after.

Meanwhile, this Aquarelle Edition is a beautiful and moving tribute to the original visuals of the film, breaking down the shapes and colors into stunning paintings. After 35 years, the original Blade Runner film will continue to inspire new generations to build upon it, and find their own artistic interpretations.

With that inspiration in mind, check out this trailer by the same animator Anders Ramsell, Genderness; done in the same style and narrated by Rutger Hauer….

French animated film THE GIRL WITHOUT HANDS, heading for US screen showings.

This week, film distributor GKIDS (Guerrilla Kids International Distribution Syndicate), released a new trailer and releases dates for its sublime The Girl Without Hands French animated film, based on the Brothers Grimm fairy tale. The film opens in New York at the IFC Center on July 21, 2017, and in Los Angeles at the Laemmle Music Hall on August 4.

The Girl Without Hands (French: La Jeune Fille sans mains) is directed, written, edited, and animated by Sébastien Laudenbach in his feature debut. Laudenbach animated the entire film on his own, with hand-painted crafting. Featured voicework will include Anaïs Demoustier (The New Girlfriend) and Jérémie Elkaïm (Declaration of War). The film premiered in the ACID section at Cannes, was nominated for Best Animated Feature at the César Awards, and won both the Jury Prize and the award for Best French Film at the Annecy Animation Festival.

“In hard times, a miller sells his daughter to the Devil. Protected by her purity, she escapes from the Devil who, in revenge, deprives her of her hands. So begins her long journey towards the light… but in spite of her resilience and the new protection of a handsome prince’s estate, the Devil devises a plan of his own.”

The new trailer:

 

The Girl Without Hands is planned for more select theaters after it’s US premiere. For more info, visit www.thegirlwithouthands.com.

New MAZINGER Z film is coming, see the teaser trailer now…

Toei Animation gave its first look at the highly-anticipated Mazinger Z feature film at the recent Annecy International Animation Film Festival, in France.

With an introduction from Mazinger Z’s original creator, Go Nagai, and producers Ichinao Nagai and Yu Kanemaru, attendees at the Annecy International Film Festival on June 14 were treated to an exclusive look at what the talented team at Toei Animation has been working on these many months. Here’s the teaser trailer:

And, here are some added details also announced at the festival:

It’s not an adaptation or reboot, but a sequel! The film’s brand-new story takes place ten years after the final episode of the 1974 TV series. Humanity was once in danger of its downfall at the hands of the Underground Empire, which was led by the evil scientist Dr. Hell. Koji Kabuto piloted the super robot Mazinger Z, and with help from his friends at the Photon Power Laboratory, he thwarted Dr. Hell’s evil ambitions and returned peace to the world. It’s been ten years since then… No longer a pilot, Koji Kabuto has taken after his father and grandfather by starting down the path of the scientist. He encounters a gigantic structure buried deep beneath Mt. Fuji, along with a mysterious indication of life… New encounters, new threats, and a new fate await mankind. The former hero Koji Kabuto has a decision to make about the future: whether to be a god or a demon… This grand action film depicts the fierce battle fought by the people and Mazinger Z–once again entrusted with the future of mankind!

Toshiyuki Watanabe Will Score The Film. He’s the son of Chumei Watanabe, a giant of the Tokusatsu music world, known for being on the front lines of creating opening songs for Showa-era anime and hero shows, including the Mazinger Z  opening theme.  The film will have a revised theme, sung by Ichiro Mizuki with a full orchestra.

More details of the Mazinger Z film to be announced. Check back on mazingerz-world.com for more details. In the meantime, here is the official teaser poster…