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Charlie Brown, Snoopy to Star in New 3D CGI Movie

For nearly 65 years children of all ages have treasured the lovable gang featured in the “Peanuts” comic strip. Now, Charlie Brown, Snoopy, Linus, Woodstock, Lucy, and the rest of the gang are headed to the big screen, thanks to 20th Century Fox Animation.


The gang from one of the world’s most beloved comic strips.

In Development
Blue Sky Studios announced the film through a “Peanuts” Movie Press Release. Details are still being released; so far we know the project will be directed by Steve Martino (“Ice Age: Continental Drift,” “Dr. Seuss’ Horton Hears a Who!”) and he will shoot from a script by Charles M. Schulz Creative Associates.

The film will mark the first time the “Peanuts” gang will be showcased in a full-length film as 3D characters. Craig Schulz, the son of the late Charles M. Schulz, is President of Charles M. Schulz Creative Associates and working with 20th Century Fox on the movie. “We have been working on this project for years,” he said. “We finally felt the time was right and the technology is where we need it to be to create this film. I am thrilled we will be partnering with Blue Sky/Fox to create a ‘Peanuts’ movie.”


When the comic strip first appeared (the early 1950s), the characters—and their problems—were much simpler.

“Peanuts” and Its Impact
It may be difficult for today’s youth to understand just how much impact “Peanuts” once had on American pop culture. At its peak, “Peanuts” was everywhere.

At one time the comic strip was read by 355 million daily readers (in 75 countries). Then there are the classic holiday television specials—especially 1965’s “A Charlie Brown Christmas” (soon to be celebrating its own 50th anniversary) and 1966’s “It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown.” Both TV specials became enduring classics and today seeing them is considered a rite of passage and a “must see” each holiday season.


 In theory, the starring character in “Peanuts” is everyman Charlie Brown…

Add to that, the popular “Peanuts” Broadway musicals, ice-skating shows and all types of “Peanuts” merchandise, like toys, calendars, books…and “Peanuts” became a billion-dollar marketing empire way before anyone had ever heard of Spongebob Squarepants…and this was back in the days when a billion was a truly astronomical amount of money.

The 65th Anniversary of “Peanuts”
The 2015 “Peanuts” project will mark the 65th anniversary of the debut of the “Peanuts” comic strip and the 50th anniversary of the landmark television special, “A Charlie Brown Christmas.” The first movie, “A Boy Named Charlie Brown,” was a major 1969 success and caught the massive wave of popularity that surrounded “Peanuts” during the 1960s and 1970s. The movie franchise carried on with varying success during three sequels: “Snoopy Come Home” (1972), “Race For Your Life, Charlie Brown” (1977) and “Bon Voyage, Charlie Brown (And Don’t Come Back!!!” (1980).


…in reality, however, the star of “Peanuts” has always been Charlie’s pet dog, Snoopy, here assuming the role of a WWI fighter ace atop his airplane (cough)–uh, doghouse.

The gently humorous vision that cartoonist Charles Schulz created has lived on well beyond his death, and shows no signs of going away any time soon. He continues to inspire a new generation of cartoonists and animators and anyone else who wants to learn how draw cartoons.

“Peanuts” remains popular. The comic strip ran without interruption for almost 50 full years, from Oct. 2, 1950 until Feb. 13, 2000. One college professor called that fifty-year run “arguably the longest story ever told by one human being.”


Strip creator Charles M. Schulz turned his gentle humor and simple characters into a vast marketing empire worth more than a billion dollars.

Inspiring the Artist in You
Today, the world of cartooning and animation is light years ahead of what Charles M. Schulz may have envisioned. Kids and teens that want to learn animation or cartooning can attend animation camp, and with tools like Maya and Toon Boom Studio, making a cartoon or learning to become an animator has never been easier.

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posted by Phill Powell in Digital Filmmaking,Digital Photography,News Blog and have No Comments

DMA Course Profile: Learn How Maya Can Animate Your Career

Courses: Maya 2011: Character Modeling & RiggingMaya 2011: Animation & Visual EffectsMaya 2011: Texturing & Lighting

DMA Instructor: Adam Watkins

Education: Master of Fine Arts degree: Animation. Utah State University; Logan, UT (Undergrad Major: Theatre Set and Lighting Design). 

Professional Portrait: DMA Instructor Adam Watkins is a teacher and noted author of multiple books on the subject of graphic arts, with special emphasis on Maya. He’s also written more than 100 magazine articles on the subject. An Associate Professor of 3D Animation for the School of Interactive Media & Design at San Antonio’s University of the Incarnate Word, Adam also serves as Art Director for the Justice Media Lab. Recently, Adam has been using his animation skills to produce ultra-realistic simulations for nuclear training facility inspections while serving as an animations developer at the historic Los Alamos National Laboratory in Los Alamos, New Mexico.

DMA Campus: Harvard University
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Adam Watkins is a longtime Digital Media Academy animation instructor and when he’s not teaching DMA’s summer sessions, he’s a full-time teacher. He’s also a published author, with a handful of books and more than 100 articles on the subject of computer graphics. However, there things we can’t tell you about Adam. Why? Because it’s classified.


Adam’s work, like this character and environment he created, are featured in his latest book about Maya.

As the Artistic Director and animation developer for the VISIBLE Team, based at Los Alamos National Laboratory, Adam is using animation skills to develop training tools that can improve the quality and safety of inspections of nuclear facilities. This August he’ll leave New Mexico and head for Harvard University, where he’ll be teaching animation with Maya at DMA’s Harvard summer computer camp.

Putting Maya into Motion
“Maya is very robust,” Adam says. It’s true. Maya is recognized by the videogame and film industries as the premier computer graphics 3D modeling tool. This summer Adam’s again looking forward to sharing his experience. In terms of creating characters, Adam will show students how to model, UV map and texture a character…and then rig that character for animation. At that point, Adam will teach students how to animate the character with some basic animations (like walking and running). After that Adam will familiarize student campers with a collection of Maya’s amazing special effects.

Teaching Tech with Passion
Adam keeps his teaching skills sharp as an Associate Professor at the University of the Incarnate Word, a liberal arts college in San Antonio, Texas. Adam calls it “the largest university you’ve never heard of,” with multiple campuses in China and Mexico. And although the school is run by a charitable organization it still functions like a normal university, in most respects.


Under Adam Watkins’ instruction, DMA student campers will build a complete 3D environment like this one, also created by Adam.

The 3D Animation and Game Design program that Adam teaches for the University is an intensive, four-year program that concentrates on utility.“We are product-focused and students who successfully complete the program have many projects and a robust demo reel upon graduation,” Adam says, “A degree is nice, but as part of the mission of the university, we make sure to graduate people with the reel, tools and skills to get real work…fast.” He brings that same practical industry focus to the courses he teaches for DMA.

The ‘Ah-ha!’ Moment
We asked Adam Watkins about what motivates him as an educator. “My philosophy of teaching in very general terms, is to focus on helping students do real work (and will show off their skills to an employer.”

“I don’t do tutorials,” he says. “I believe that especially for beginning 3D students, tutorials simply teach students how to follow recipes, not how to solve problems. Great 3D artists are great problem-solvers, and they get this way from practice. When I teach, I give assignments that require students to help define a problem, and then grow into the solution. I’m there to assist in the process.”

And that process pays off big for him when a student learns how to solve the problem for themselves. “I love the ‘Ah-ha!’ moment that students have when working through complex ideas,” he says. “3D technology can be abstract, and good 3D is a complex collection of technical and artistic skills. Helping students harness these divergent ideas to create good work really gets me going.”

For aspiring 3D animators, videogame designers or graphic artists, DMA instructors like Adam Watkins can help you learn how to turn your passion for computer graphics into a career…so you can experience your own ‘Ah-ha!’ moment.

(Images from Creating 3D Games with Unity and Maya: How to Develop Fun and Marketable 3D Games, Adam Watkins, Focal Press.)

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posted by Phill Powell in 3D Modeling,News Blog and have No Comments