Nelvana greelights season three of Emmy nominated series ‘Miss Persona’

Corus Entertainment’s Nelvana, one of the leading international producers and distributors of children’s animated and live action content, has greenlit the third season of its hit series, Miss Persona (60×7 minutes). The new season of the live-action series will have longer episodes and new characters.

The enchanting third season will introduce new characters, music, themes and a returning cast featuring the legendary Fred Penner, Alyson Court (Big Comfy Couch), Joe Motiki (The Crawlspace), puppeteer Mike Petersen (Fraggle Rock, Toopy and Binoo) and former WWE wrestling champion Anthony Carelli (Santino Marella). 

‘Miss Persona’

Of all new characters, there’s an adorable puppy, puppeteered by Ingrid Hansen (Helpsters). This season also features cameos by Emma Wiggle and Steve ‘Ed The Sock’ Kerzner playing Ted The Sock. With episodes featuring 60 original songs, the series is set to premiere in 2020 fall on Treehouse. More announcements are to be made soon. 

Developed for children aged two to five, Miss Persona uses dress up and imagination to solve problems with her best friend, Brandon Bear, a shy teddy bear. Each new episode will include a narrative short, original song and crafting segment. The storylines will guide kids through the many ‘firsts’ of being a preschooler through the experiences of Brandon Bear, such as making his first friend, getting jealous for the first time, learning to share, and other early childhood milestones. Miss Persona helps kids grow emotional resilience and reduce any anxiety that comes along with new experiences – all while having musical fun along the way. 

Nelvana president Pam Westman said, “After charming audiences on YouTube and growing into a linear success story on Treehouse in Canada, Miss Persona has quickly become a shining star within Nelvana’s catalogue, inspiring broadcasters and preschoolers alike. Our team is excited to be working closely with Kimberly Persona to produce an innovative third season filled with even more imaginative play, exciting surprises and guest appearances.”

Nominated for two Daytime Emmy Awards, including Outstanding Preschool Series, and Winner of the 2019 Youth Media Alliance Award of Excellence for Best Digital First Content, Miss Persona was a top 20 series for preschoolers in Canada across all kids specialty networks on TV last spring (according to Numeris PPM Data, SP’19 (Dec 31/18 – May 26/19) confirmed data, 3+ airings, preschoolers=K2-5,  AMA(000), English Kids Networks only, Total Canada)  and has earned millions of views on YouTube since its launch in September 2018. Most recently, Miss Persona has also been nominated for a Kidscreen Award for Best Original Web/App Series. 

“I’m so honoured to be working with Nelvana on my dream project. They provide unwavering support to produce a truly creator driven series, which means the show has a personal touch from my heart. There are so many diverse topics we explore this upcoming season and I’m proud to be telling stories that are fresh and authentic,” added Miss Persona creator and star Kimberly Persona

Building on its ratings success, Miss Persona launched a live tour past summer with a multi-week run at the Canadian National Exhibition, followed by five additional shows across Canada. The tour will resume in May 2020 and more dates are to be confirmed

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Priyanka Chopra Jonas to join ‘Matrix 4’?

Reportedly Priyanka Chopra Jonas is in final negotiations to join the cast of The Matrix 4 as per Variety

Matrix franchise has drawn a cult-following, spanning over action-packed storyline laced with cutting-edge VFX. Even though the details about her character are shrouded in secrecy, Variety reports Chopra Jonas is in final talks with the filmmakers to join the star caste of the fourth film in The Matrix franchise. Indian actress Chopra Jonas has been been acclaimed for playing a diverse range of characters ranging in her career. She played the lead on ABC drama Quantico, playing FBI field agent Alex Parrish, for which she received a People’s Choice Award in her first ever US television drama.

Since then, she has been acting in many a Hollywood comedies, such as Baywatch and Isn’t It Romantic.
Given that she signs the movie, we’re looking at the Chopra Jones joining Keanu Reeves and Carrie-Ann Moss, who are reprising their respective roles as Neo and Trinity, as well. Officially announced in August 2019, The Matrix 4 has now been been slated for release on 21 May 2021, which is the same day as John Wick 4 (another Keanu Reeves-fronted film).

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Build your personalised animated cartoon with ‘Bitmoji TV’

All of us at least once have tried to create our personalised ‘emoji’ for social media experience to express your thoughts and feelings.

Known as Bitmoji, these personalised representations have been turned into comic strips, stickers, mobile games, and now an animated series. Emojis are so famous that Sony even made a movie titled The Emoji Movie.

The new animated experiment is going to make cartoons very personal, as Bitmoji TV arrives on Snapchat’s Discover on Saturday, 1 February. Building on Bitmoji Stories’ popular customisable character comics, the comedy series will send viewer’s Bitmojis on new adventures inspired by television genres, from talent shows to cop dramas.

All this frenzy around Bitmoji began in 2007 when Jacob ‘Ba’ Blackstock together with David Kennedy, Shahan Panth, Dorian Baldwin, and Jesse Brown founded Bitstrips, a media and technology company allowing its users to create personalized comic strips.

Their endeavour was so successful that Snapchat acquired the company in July 2016. Since then, Bitmoji have gone on to become a staple among internet users. Since the personalised comic strips were launched in 2018, more than 130 million Snapchat users have watched Bitmoji Stories.

The first season of Bitmoji TV consists of 10 four-minute episodes, airing weekly on Saturday mornings on Discover. Some episodes will feature the viewer’s own ‘avatar’ with the help of dynamic animation updates to keep up with their latest cartoon look and those of their friends. Other episodes will feature celebrity guests like Randy Jackson, Andy Richter, Jon Lovitz and Riki Lindhome. While other characters in the animation series can talk, viewers’ own characters won’t have a voice as of now.

Bitmoji TV is created entirely in-house by the Toronto-based Bitmoji team, with dedicated artists, animators, storyboarders, engineers and so on.

The crew has built a new, proprietary production framework developed specifically for Bitmoji TV, and invested in a system that dynamically renders and streams every episode on-demand, so that each viewer has a unique experience featuring their own troupe of avatars. 

This unique technology considers a variety of factors for these viewing experiences, including the size and shape of each viewer’s particular Bitmoji and how they fit into each scene including their friends’.

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Exclusive: ‘Sooryavanshi’s VFX is being worked upon by NYVFXWAALA

Pegged as a multi-starrer actioner, Sooryavanshi is all set to bring alive Shetty’s Police Universe and blaze an alliterative trail of adventure, amusement and action. The imagery definitely has to be enhanced by the magic of VFX for such stories. VFX-wise, the movie is being worked upon by NYVFXWAALA studio. Having proved their mettle in the recent movie Tanaji: The Unsung Warrior, NYVFXWAALA studio has indeed become a go-to studio for Bollywood projects.

On 5 March 2019, film trade analyst Taran Adarsh shared the first look posters of the film on his Twitter account. In the posters, Akshay Kumar was seen in a cop avatar with a gun in his hand. Directed by Rohit Shetty and produced by him and Karan Johar under their banners Rohit Shetty Picturez and Dharma Productions respectively and in association with Reliance Entertainment and Cape Of Good Films, the fourth installment is going to be packed with Shettyesque car explosions and chase scenes.

The teaser of the film was released on 28 December 2019. Starring Akshay Kumar as the titular character opposite Katrina Kaif, movie is set to see Ajay Devgn and Ranveer Singh reprise their roles of Bajirao Singham and Sangaram Bhalerao (Simmba) from the franchise’s previous films Singham and Simmba in cameo appearances.

As per rumours, the songs for Sooryavanshi will be reportedly composed by Himesh Reshammiya, while the score, is to be composed and produced by Amar Mohile. Sukhwinder Singh will sing a song named “Jal Rahi Hai”. The song “Tip Tip Barsa Pani” from the film Mohra, will be recreated

The trailer of the film has not been released yet. According to reports, the trailer of Sooryavanshi will be released on 27 February 2020 However, fans will still have to wait for about a month. This film marks come back of the most loved pair Akshay and Katrina after a long time and will be directed by Rohit Shetty.

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Coronavirus fears lead to ‘Overwatch’ League cancellations

After the cancelation of China’s League of Legends Pro League’s upcoming matches earlier this week, the Overwatch League is the next match to be cancelled due to the coronavirus epidemic.

The official post reveals that “We have decided to cancel our February and March matches in China in order to protect the health and safety of our players, fans, and staff. We hope fans have a safe and happy Lunar New Year, and we remain incredibly excited to play Overwatch league matches in China later this season.We’ll share more information about when and where the matches will take place at a later date.Thank you for your support and understanding!”

The cancellation affect the East Division, Pacific Conference teams Chengdu Hunters, Guangzhou Charge, Seoul Dynasty, and Shanghai Dragons. Events outside of China scheduled for February and March will go ahead as planned.

Between February and March there were OWL matches scheduled in Shanghai, Foshan and Hangzhou. Several Chinese OWL teams have already moved their players to South Korea as a precautionary measure.

The cancellations have been made as the death toll for the viral outbreak approaches 200, with almost 8000 people now estimated to be infected (95 per cent of them from the province of Hubei) and scores of foreign nationals hurriedly being evacuated from China.

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Exclusive : Niloy Kanti Biswas steps up as the Wackytoon Studio CEO

Niloy Kanti Biswas

Kolkata based, Wackytoon Studio has promoted studio head Niloy Kanti Biswas as the new CEO, to be effective from February 2020.

Biswas, who has been associated with Wackytoon Studio for the past three years, has led the studio from a unit of 18 creative artists, and helped it grow from strength to strength to a crew of 160 super talented and highly creative 2D and 3D artists. He has also been instrumental in forging a new collaboration with kids broadcaster Sony YAY!

Having worked in Toonz Animation India, Elecomtoon and Animazione in different capacities across his career, Biswas brings in a holistic view of the industry with over 20 years of experience in the animation and M&E industry. He has worked with several clients managing projects as Kumbhkaran (POGO), Howzzattt (Discovery Kids), Shaktimaan (Sonic), Ninja Hattori and Pakdam Pakdai (Nickelodeon), Kid Krrish (Cartoon Network), V4 Virat (Disney India) and Redcap (Italy). 

Commenting on Biswas’ appointment, Green Gold Animation founder and CEO, and Wackytoon Studio chairman Rajiv Chilaka told Animation Xpress, “I first met Biswas almost 15 years ago when he was working at Elecomtoon, and I have been greatly impressed by his vision for the industry throughout and his passion for animation. He is the right guy to take Wackytoon to the next level.” 

Being a part of the Green Gold group, Wacktoon Studio presently works on the popular 2D and 3D shows like Chhota Bheem, Super Bheem, Kalari Kids, Rudra, Honey Bunny Ka Jhol Maal, KickO and Super SpeedO and Guru aur Bhole. While most work are through Green Gold, Honey Bunny ka Jhol Maal, Kicko and Super Speedo and Guru aur Bhole are directly commissioned by Sony YAY! 

Wackytoon studio space

Talking about his new role, Biswas shared with us, “Wackytoon Studio believes in the amalgamation of various art forms with finesse par excellence. We have established ourselves as a major player with both 2D and 3D projects across various clients. Previously we started with 50-60 fables and two or three projects. Gradually our project value is increasing with more episodes as well as movies. The business is also increasing and my new role will be to look after the management, deal with the clients, forge new connections and partnerships nationally and internationally. We are already working on a project for an international client. Presently, we are also independently working on a couple of animated IP – one 2D and one 3D IP of international standards. I’m expanding the entire business of Wackytoon Studio.”

The studio has recently bought another floor in the same building and is looking to expand the team by 200 people to cater to the production tasks hoping to be one of the biggest studios in India in the near future. 

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HitFilm aims to stand by the community with its new campaign!

One of the most crucial tasks for any creator is to choose the right software to ease the workflow of their projects. As there are a huge array of products around, it is a difficult task to find out the right tool which will suffice without burning a hole in your pocket.

FXHome’s Hitfilm express is one such free post production software which is aimed at helping creators in projects and have recently launched campaign ‘Pay What You Want’ system for HitFilm Express users. The program was inspired by the HitFilm Express community’s requests for options to contribute to future development of the free video editing and VFX software. The program  enables users to contribute financially, ensuring that those funds will be allocated for future development and improvements to HitFilm. Additionally, FXhome will contribute a percentage of proceeds from Pay What You Want to organisations dedicated to global causes that are important to the company and its community. Upon its launch, the company aims to donate a portion of its proceeds to the WWF and the Australia Emergency Bushfire Fund. The larger the contribution from customers, the more FXhome will donate.

In conversation with AnimationXpress FX Home marketing manager, Kirstie Tostevin shares how HitFilm is aiming help creators worldwide in 2020. Here is the excerpt:

How VFX technology is supporting the innovative content creation?

VFX tech is constantly being developed and improved. From our perspective, we’re always trying to add awesome new features to HitFilm that allow users to get their ideas into reality! One of our big additions to the software last year was the Foundry 3D camera tracker which really is a game-changer, allowing people to track their environment in a completely new way and opening up a whole new world of possibilities for VFX. We also added support for select AE plugins which has been received very well by our users, we hope to expand this in the future.

As the content demand is increasing how the brand is catering the creators?

Content creation is one of our huge focuses here as a marketing team. To cater to the ever-growing audience of HitFilm users, we have a diverse and skilled marketing team coming up with ideas and creating videos and imagery to populate our YouTube/social channels. We’ve recently increased the size of our content creation team too, hiring another skilled VFX artist which allows us to continue to create even more high-quality content and gives us another creative mind to help come up with interesting ideas!

Will you share how you look at the India market/ APAC region?

India has a large number of HitFilm users which is really great to see. It’s encouraging to know that the software we develop is helping creatives all over the world and we really enjoy seeing the huge range of different content. Everyone has different ideas of what they want to make in the software, but all our users share the same creative passion.

What are the factors do you think HitFilm might help to ease the post production workflow for the creators?

HitFilm is designed so that users can complete their entire post-production workflow in one piece of software. We aim to combine ease-of-use with power and accessibility which all help the users focus on their creativity. We’ll continue to add more features and refine the software to help the users. The development of our software is driven by user feedback.

How it is different from the existing post production software?

As an all-in-one editor, compositor and VFX tool, HitFilm gives the users everything they need within one piece of software. Being able to jump from your edit straight into a composite shot to add VFX, text or other elements before jumping straight back to the edit really helps the user workflow. HitFilm is loved by so many types of creators too, from filmmakers to VFX artists to vloggers and gamers! We hope that by having access to such a range of tools we can spark creativity in these users and allow them to add a little something extra to their videos which they wouldn’t have if they were created in another piece of software.

What is the business plan for FXHome 2020?

We have a lot of plans in the works for 2020, lots of awesome top-secret things are in the works as well as some things we are able to talk about. One of our biggest pushes is towards the community. We want to encourage people to get creative, push themselves, and share their work. We’re really proud of the community and we want to give more back, promote their work, and look at some new sponsorship opportunities. We’ve also just launched a ‘Pay What You Want’ system for HitFilm Express users so that they can get it for free or pay a small amount of money and get a whole load of add-ons. Between 10 per cent and 20 per cent of these donations go to good causes so we’re really excited to see how this goes over the year! The first cause we’re donating to is in aid of the Australian bush fire catastrophe.

How favourable was the year 2019 for FXHome?

We had some really amazing developments in both HitFilm and Imerge which we’re incredibly proud of. The feedback we got from users was overwhelmingly positive and 2020 is set to be another year of awesome changes and improvements!

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#FeatureFriday: Indian cosplayers all set to up the cosplay game in the nation

Art has its various forms as known to all of us. India is very well known for its various artforms and vast culture. Our nation has one of the largest collections of architecture, sculpture, paintings, performing arts, applied arts and leisure art too. Colours, designs, patterns and drama have always been a part of Indian soul.

With the never ending list of artworks and artforms India proudly showcases, the youth here are adding another feather to the crown with the unimaginably growing cosplay culture.

From left to right: Sameer Bundela, Medha Srivastava and Shine Saha

The art of cosplay has never been an acclaimed sector in India for years, but the trend seems to be changing. The growing community of cosplayers in our nation are taking their hobby to another level and living their passion.

Keeping aside the monetary factor, which is huge by the way, the taxing process designing, sourcing and creating a costume can take months and involves tremendous dedication. Are you wondering why they are putting in so much effort? You should never question an artist about the reason behind creating his artwork. It simply is food for their soul!

With the growing popularity and respect towards this artform, many talented cosplayers in India are showcasing their skills at various fests like Comic Con and many others.

Indian Championship of Cosplay 2020 winner Sameer Bundela says, “Due to the popularity of comic books, movies and games, this subculture is only going to grow.”

Living a larger than life character is a dream of many, but these artists are truly living that. The Indian minds are opening up to this newly found artform and the cosplay culture has found a new home here. Bundela has been cosplaying for close to 10 years now and it’s been a long and rewarding journey for him.

Sameer Bundela in his many avatars

The cosplay culture has thrown light on the many possibilities coming out of this art. Indian Championship of Cosplay winner Shine Saha is another cosplayer who is a full-time engineer and only cosplays part-time, unlike Bundela who is planning to pursue this as a full-time job. “Companies have started to recognise the potential of cosplay as a crowd engagement and PR opportunity and it benefits both parties. Due to all this, it has become viable for people like me to pursue this passion as a full-time job,” Bundela adds.

Indian cosplayers have begun making a mark in the international scene. Though Bundela and Saha think that cosplay is still at a nascent stage in our country, the rate has definitely been a rapid one lately. “The community is pretty well knit and people are becoming more aware about ways to grow together. The biggest change has been the growing acceptance among the general crowd regarding cosplay as an art form and as a professional domain as well,” adds Saha.

The competition in cosplay has also become very intense and people are taking it very seriously. With every passing year, the way of creating cosplay costumes has changed. The artists aren’t restricted to one medium, cloth but are trying out other materials like foam, clay, wood, you take a material name and it’s there in somebody’s suit.

Talking about the way Indians look at this culture, Another winner from the Indian Championship of Cosplay, Medha Srivastava said, “I genuinely believe that India is very aesthetically advanced. We have the capability to work hard and put out our skills. But the only things lacking are the resources and knowledge about cosplay.”

Medha Srivastava

Srivastava is a professional illustrator and game artist with a degree in animation and film making. Her love for games and concept art made cosplay a natural attraction for her.

There are numerous events that happen in India which are celebrating the art of cosplay from gaming to anime. With the increasing amount of cosplays in India, gamers, movie buffs are no longer restricted to sit behind the desktop, console or television. They now dress up as their favourite characters and show off their love for games and movies.

Though, we have reached international platforms and grabbed awards for India, Srivastava feels that with time, India would definitely be one of the best in cosplay.

With collective efforts from the cosplay community, India will surely see a rise in this sector of art. Experienced cosplayers like Bundela take workshops to make aspiring cosplayers aware of the materials, techniques used to create the costume. And definitely to show them how amazing it feels to get into the role of your favourite character.

Recently some really brilliant cosplays from India have garnered a lot of attention internationally which has put India on the cosplay map. “I’m happy that I’ve gotten to be a part of this journey from the very beginning. And would continue to play my part in promoting Indian cosplay worldwide in whatever way I can,” concludes Bundela.

The cosplays are a treat to watch and the cosplay community based in India is only upping the game. We are not very far from watching India stand proud for this very artsy, innovative and dedicated culture, cosplay!

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Strange Spring

‘Zootopia’ directors to helm an upcoming Disney untitled animated feature?

Walt Disney Animation is reaping rewards for it highly acclaimed and highest-grossing Frozen 2. And now, according to a new report, there is some new information regarding an unannounced project.

Byron Howard and Jared Bush

Zootopia directors Byron Howard and Jared Bush may be the directors of the next Disney film. Howard has previously been a director for hit films Tangled, the short Tangled Ever After and the hit movie Zootopia, and has executive produced Frozen 2. Bush has written Moana and Zootopia, and co-directed the latter alongside Howard.

The untitled animated feature, the duo is set to helm will probably be centered on a Latinx (a person of Latin American origin or descent – used as a gender-neutral or non-binary alternative to Latino or Latina) family.

Walt Disney Animation Studios is currently working on a film titled Raya and the Last Dragon, will take place in Kumandra, which is a fictional land based on the southeast Asian cultures. The main character, Raya, will be a fearless and determined warrior who has to find the last dragon.

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