Making a DVD Master
December 20th, 2010

Since it was announced that Sensology made the Academy Awards short list for best animated short film, the requests from animation festivals have been pouring in.

The basic requirement of all festivals is to have some kind of screening print of the film. The master for Sensology is a 1080P Quicktime Animation, 100% Quality, 30 frames/second. It's a beautiful master but not a playable format. After completing the film, I created a DCP for the theatrical premiere and the Academy showings. The DCP is nice because it is full resolution and has no apparent visual compression - but most of the festivals don't take DCPs.

Of all the format listed as acceptable, NTSC DVD was the most common by far, for both submissions and presentation screenings. The Academy was also asking for DVDs, so I had no choice but to produce my own DVD master. Not an easy task, but I'm glad I went through the process. I learned a lot about compression, encoding, frame rates, etc. After creating several different masters with slight variations in bitrates, color range, compression, frame rates, etc, I finally achieved excellent result. NTSC DVDs can look great, if properly done. For those interested, here are the final properties of my master file which is used to encode the DVDs:

Quality 5 (Best
NTSC 720x480 - 16:9
29.97 frames/second
VBR minimum 3mbps, maximum 8mbps, target 6mbps

The frame rate of NTSC (29.97) is so close to 30 frames/second that I only had to slow down the video a tiny fraction to make it conform without having to blend or loose frames. No need for interlacing 2:3 pull down which is usually used to convert 24 frames/second theatrical movies. Although PAL DVDs have a slightly higher resolution, they play at 25 frames/second which makes for a very difficult conversion. Truly, NTSC DVDs are a great way to present my film because they keep the integrity of the film's original frame rate.

The DCP which I created for the theatrical premiere, runs at 24 frames/second and was much more arduous to master than the NTSC DVD. I literally had to go in there to pluck out and blend images on a per frame basis. I really wish that 30 frames/second would become an acceptable theatrical rate. It looks great on the big screen. Even some old classic movies such as Oklahoma! and Around the World in Eighty Days were shot at 30 frames/second.

The Saga of Rex @ Newsarama
December 14th, 2010

"He might look like a small country fox, but Rex has been over the river, through the woods, to outer space and back again!

In the recently released graphic novel The Saga of Rex by Michel Gagné, a diminutive fox dubbed “Rex” is plucked away from Earth by a mysterious spaceship and dropped in an arcane world called Edernia. Curious as a cat and as wild as can be, Rex romps through some out-of-this-world (literally) terrain and discovers strange creatures who think he’s just as strange."

Read full article here.

The Saga of Rex - Publishers Weekly Review
December 12th, 2010

"While children may enjoy this graphic novel for its gorgeous art--especially the cute characters--its story line will more likely be appreciated by older readers. The almost wordless story isn't meant to be read on a literal level but instead on more a mystical and dreamlike level."

Click here for full review.

The Saga of Rex - Blog Reviews
December 6th, 2010

The MASKS blog has put out a list of ten graphic novels that make great gifts for the holiday season. Glad to see The Saga of Rex on there. You can read the review here.


Comics-and-More gave The Saga of Rex a fairly positive review. Click here to read.

10 Animated Shorts Move Ahead in 2010 Oscar® Race
December 1st, 2010

Beverly Hills, CA – The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences today announced that 10 animated short films will advance in the voting process for the 83rd Academy Awards®. Thirty-three pictures had originally qualified in the category.

The 10 films are listed below in alphabetical order by title, with their production company:

The Cow Who Wanted to Be a Hamburger, Bill Plympton, director (Bill Plympton Studio)

Coyote Falls, Matthew O’Callaghan, director and Sam Register, executive producer (Warner Bros. Animation Inc.)

Day & Night, Teddy Newton, director (Pixar Animation Studios)

The Gruffalo, Jakob Schuh and Max Lang, directors (Magic Light Pictures)

Let’s Pollute, Geefwee Boedoe, story-design-animation (Geefwee Boedoe)

The Lost Thing, Shaun Tan and Andrew Ruhemann, directors (Passion Pictures Australia)

Madagascar, Carnet de Voyage (Madagascar, a Journey Diary),” Bastien Dubois, director (Sacrebleu Productions)

Sensology, Michel Gagne, director-producer (GAGNE International LLC)

The Silence beneath the Bark, Joanna Lurie, director (Lardux Films)

Urs, Moritz Mayerhofer, director (Filmakademie Baden-Wuerttemberg)

The Short Films and Feature Animation Branch Reviewing Committee viewed all the eligible entries for the preliminary round of voting in screenings held in New York and Los Angeles.  

Short Films and Feature Animation Branch members will now select three to five nominees from among the 10 titles on the shortlist. Branch screenings will be held in Los Angeles, New York and San Francisco in January 2011.

The 83rd Academy Awards nominations will be announced live on Tuesday, January 25, 2011, at 5:30 a.m. PT in the Academy’s Samuel Goldwyn Theater.

Academy Awards for outstanding film achievements of 2010 will be presented on Sunday, February 27, 2011, at the Kodak Theatre at Hollywood & Highland Center®, and televised live by the ABC Television Network. The Oscar presentation also will be televised live in more than 200 countries worldwide.

The Saga of Rex reviewed on G4's Fresh Ink
November 26th, 2010

The review begins at 5:30. Click here to view.

List of 33 Oscar-Qualified Animated Shorts
November 20th, 2010

Cartoon Brew has published the list of the 33 animated short films that have fulfilled the qualifications necessary to be considered in the category of Best Animated Short for the 2010 Academy Awards.

From their website: "Members of the Short Films and Feature Animation Branch of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences will vote on a shortlist of ten films from this list. A second round of voting, also restricted to members of the Short Films and Feature Animation branches, will narrow it down to the five nominees for Best Animated Short Film Oscar. The final vote, which determines the winner, is open to all Academy members provided that they have watched every nominated short."

The competition looks very stiff with most of the films on the list having garnered several major awards, whereas my film, Sensology, has not played or been entered in any festival thus far. It's also interesting to notice that it is the only abstract film on the list. I don't know if this is a good or a bad thing, but it should at least help it stick out.

Let's keep our fingers crossed.

On a different note, we got our first snow fall of the year, last night. When we woke up this morning, the view from our windows was absolutely stunning. Nancy took the opportunity to snap a few pictures.

The Saga of Rex Reviewed @ CBR
November 8, 2010

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