Rob Gibbs, Pixar story artist for ‘Finding Nemo’, passes away at 55

2020 is only bringing death news. Noted Pixar writer, story artist and director Rob Gibbs of Finding Nemo, Toy Story 2 fame has passed away aged 55. 

Though the reason of his death is still not revealed, Pixar spokesperson confirmed the news. Gibbs was a resident of San Rafael, California. 

Gibbs has worked in the entertainment industry for 20 years and contributed to many popular Pixar films like- Monsters Inc., Up, Incredibles 2, Wall-E, Inside Out and the latest offering Onward.

Prior to joining Pixar in 1998, he worked on several notable films such as FernGully: The Last Rainforest (1992), Cool World (1992) and Disney’s Pocahontas (1995) and Fantasia 2000 (1999).

Gibbs’ credits also include the short film Tokyo Mater released in 2008, and the series Mater’s Tall Tales and Tales From Radiator Springs among others. 

Reportedly, he was inspired by Looney Tunes and Popeye as a kid. Gibbs even told a news publication that he began to appreciate short films after he added the Spike and Mike’s Festival of Animation in La Jolla, California. Daniel Chong, an American artist best known as the creator of We Bare Bears on Cartoon Network mourned the loss of the late creator Rob Gibbs. 

Rob Gibbs is survived by daughter Mary, who lended her voice for Boo in Monsters Inc films.

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FanCode garners over 15 million users, launches fastest interactive live scores and live streaming in one year

FanCode, the multi-sport aggregator platform from the house of Dream Sports, has completed one year with over 15 million app installs. Since the launch in March 2019, FanCode has partnered with multiple sports brands and events and brought sports content to India, across nine sports and over 50 sporting events. The brand has also launched the ‘fastest interactive live scores’ experience and comprehensive live streaming of long-tail sports and some premium cricket tournaments.

In the last one year, the company has significantly enhanced the sports experience for fans by providing interactive data overlays during live streaming of a match, news on the sports industry across the globe, bite-sized video content like match highlight packages, chat with sports personalities in a new-age format, and expert opinions. The latest offering to the fastest live scores for cricket is now delivered with multimedia commentary. This is supplemented by interactive content and infographics for milestones achieved by players or teams during the match and also a detail-oriented ‘Live Blog’.

FanCode co-founder Yannick Colaco said, “We are thrilled at the tremendous progress that we have made in just a year. Over 15 million strong users in one year is an indication of how Indian sports fans are looking for deeper and comprehensive engagement with the sports they love. As we roll into year two, we plan to launch several innovative and exciting features for sports fans. We will also continue to build FanCode to provide the best-in-class experience that sports fans deserve even during a time when sports across the globe have come to a halt. The reliance on digital platforms to stay connected to sports has further increased acceptance for the platform, and we expect consumption of sports to reach its peak once live sports are back.”

Adjudged as the “Best Sports Startup” at FICCI India Sports Awards 2019, FanCode forged over 16 exclusive partnerships with global sports associations and leagues across sports such as cricket, football, kabaddi, basketball, volleyball, and even American football. Some of the key partners include The Fédération Internationale de Volleyball (FIVB), West Indies Cricket Board (WICB), Bangladesh Cricket Board for showcasing the Bangladesh Premier League (BPL), National Football League (NFL) including the world’s biggest annual sporting event – the Super Bowl, and I-League. FanCode also became the NBA’s (National Basketball Association) first live streaming partner in India.

FanCode co-founder Prasana Krishnan added, “The dependencies on digital mediums are significantly growing in sports over the years, thanks to the easy access to smartphones and cheaper data. The internet made access to interactive sports content a reality including live streaming, live scores, match analysis, fantasy research, which have been the strong pillars of growth for FanCode over the year. To stay true to our objective of being the single destination of choice for the avid sports fans in India, we are all set for the next phase of growth with feature additions, right from e-commerce to fantasy research tools. Forging deep and direct fan relationships will be a crucial differentiator in the long run for the industry, and we are building this base for the next leap.”

FanCode was launched in March 2019 to offer a broad spectrum of long-tail sports and contextual commerce providing comprehensive sports experience to avid sports fans in India. Dream Sports, a sports tech company, is the parent company of FanCode that also houses brands like Dream11 and DreamX.

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ALTBalaji garners 34 million-plus cumulative subscriptions till 31 March 2020

In the three years of its journey, ALTBalaji has established a niche for itself in the Originals space by providing binge-watching content to its consumers inculcating a habit.

Showcasing good growth year-on-year, the homegrown OTT platform has raked in 20 million subscribers in the year ending on 31 march 2019 and went on to garner 34 million-plus cumulative subscriptions till 31 March 2020. 

With viewers now having more time at disposal as they practice social distancing from their homes, ALTBalaji has pooled in a strong uptake of subscribers with an average of 17,000 subscriptions added per day post the implementation of the lockdown. There has been a 60 per cent increase in its subscriber base in comparison to 10,600 during pre-lockdown. Adding another feather to its cap, the homegrown OTT platform saw a twofold increase in direct subscribers’ growth from financial YOY.

Nachiket Pantvaidya

Speaking on ALTBalaji’s market position, ALTBalaji CEO and Balaji Telefilms Group COO Nachiket Pantvaidya said, “Right from day one, ALTBalaji, through its originals has made a name for itself in the industry and has gone on from being a new entrant to becoming a force to reckon with. These numbers are a testament to the platform’s growing popularity and exemplifies the fact that good storytelling across multiple genres will always reap dividends and earn a special place in the heart of the viewers. That said, this gives us all the more optimism in our endeavor to provide fresh content to our audiences across the country, that keeps them hooked to their screens and provide a value-added service that entertains in abundance.”

 ALTBalaji has not only achieved great volumes in terms of subscribers but also obtained value and emerged as one of the top-grossing apps in the country. The OTT platform started the journey with being one of the top five and has moved to one of the top three in the list of Top Grossing Video Streaming Apps in the country across the app store (Source: App Annie). ALTBalaji also has one of the highest revenue to download ratios in the video streaming category. ALTBalaji with its diverse range of shows has managed to see its audience spend an average watch time of 60 minutes, the highest in its category in 2019 and the trend continues in 2020.

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Applauding India’s DTH and Cable TV operators Viacom18 launches #DilSeSalaam campaign

As the nation continues its efforts to come together in its fight against COVID-19, Viacom18 Media, one of the leading entertainment conglomerate with five lines of business, which reaches out to over 600 million viewers each month, has rolled out yet another specially curated campaign with a digital-first approach, #DilSeSalaam

#DilSeSalaam is a tribute and salute to DTH and Cable TV operators across India who continue to make efforts in ensuring that viewers are being entertained without interruption even during such unprecedented times. Being a responsible and humane network, Viacom18 has always recognised that DTH and Cable TV operators are the backbone of the broadcast industry and it is purely because of their hard work and diligence that television viewing across India hasn’t faced any interruptions.

 Currently live on Viacom18’s social media channels, #DilSeSalaam, is a 50 second video with a message straight from Viacom18’s pool of actors. Popular actors from across Viacom18’s most popular shows such as Bharati Singh, Avika Gor, Rannvijay Singha, Gaelyn Mendonca, Meera Deosthale, Nimrit Kaur Ahluwalia, Smita Bansal have come forward to thank operators for their hard work and constant efforts during this time in keeping India entertained. Supporting the cable operators and DTH players, Viacom18 has network also urged its viewers to move to digital payment options for payment of their cable and DTH bills with an on-air campaign.

Indiacast, the distribution arm for TV18 and Viacom18 has been working consistently with DTH and cable TV operators to ensure that the entertainment needs of India are being catered to amidst the lockdown. Speaking about the campaign, Indiacast CEO Anuj Gandhi Group said, “Since the pandemic outbreak and the lockdown was imposed, our cable TV and DTH operators have been working relentlessly to ensure there is no disruption in TV viewing across the country. We have seen TV viewership surge across India and this has been possible due to no disruption in the last mile delivery by DTH service providers and cable operators. #DilSeSalaam is our way of saying thank you to our cable and DTH operators for their constant effort and hard work during these tough times and for ensuring that our viewers aren’t missing out on their daily entertainment. We are truly grateful for all their support and efforts over the past month and assure them that they have our full support wherever and whenever required.”

 Viacom18 has brought back several popular GEC shows on the network such as Mahakali, Khatra Khatra Khatra, Dance Deewane, Naagin, Comedy Nights with Kapil Sharma, Khatron Ke Khiladi and more. The network has also innovated to create original content such as Hum Tum Aur Quarantine, MTV Roadies LIVE Auditions, Hustle from Home and others.

Boasting 650+ hours of fresh kids’ content on TV, the new line-up on Nickelodeon has new episodes of Motu Patlu as Fool Masti with Motu Patlu followed by Shiva and Rudra. On Sonic, the constant war between Doggy Don and the three mice in ‘Fool Week of Pakdam Pakdai’ are going to take the kids on a rollercoaster ride of laughter. 

In addition to this, Sonic will air a fresh line-up of episodes for Keymon Ache and Ninja Hattori. Taking the kids into a new world of fun and entertainment will be the new movies of Motu Patlu and Rudra on Nick and Sonic in the coming days. Nick Jr., the channel for toddlers will also air new episodes of Paw Patrol.

 The 24 hour movie channels from the network – Colors Cineplex, Colors Kannada Cinema, Colors Gujarati Cinema and Colors Bangla Cinema are entertaining viewers with movies content library of 2500 hrs, 1300 hrs, 780 hrs (including plays) and 540 hrs, respectively.

 Leveraging the strength of its network, Viacom18 has remained emotionally connected with millions of its viewers and will continue to provide complete support during these difficult times. Viacom18 had previously launched #RahoGharPeSafe to create awareness around best practices during this period. Conceptualized in partnership with Gozoop, #DilSeSalaam is currently live across all Viacom18’s social media channels. 

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Discovery Kids launches 100+ new episodes and eight fresh tele-movies of ‘Little Singham’ and ‘Fukrey Boyzzz’

Discovery Kids has pumped up its Summer plans to keep the younger audience engaged and entertained during lockdown. The kids broadcaster has announced to be launching more than 100+ new episodes and eight new telemovies of popular animated IPs – Little Singham and Fukrey Boyzzz

The channel has been working closely with Reliance Animation, for Little Singham, and Paperboat Design Studios for Fukrey Boyzzz, with more than 600 artists, animators, writers, spread across eight states, working from home to ensure consistent premieres of fresh content for kids.

 Between April to June, Discovery Kids is in the process of releasing eight new tele-movies including Kaal Ka Badla, the third franchise film for Little Singham V/s Super villain Kaal saga. The action will continue with Great Japan Adventure, where Little Singham will be participating in world wonder games while in Future Mein Satakli, Little Singham will travel to the future to save the day. In King Cobra Sabko Dasega the youngest super-cop faces his arch nemesis King Cobra. 

Besides Little Singham, the channel has exciting plans for Fukrey Boyzzz as well. The Fukrey Boyzzz team will continue to spread laughter with their wild adventure Wild Wild Choocha. In June, Discovery Kids has also lined up the first mega movie adventure of the franchise with the title characters Hunny, Choocha, Lalli in  Space Mein Fukrapanti where the trio will continue their shenanigans with aliens!

 Commenting on the fresh slate of content, Discovery Kids head Uttam Pal Singh said, “We continue to invest, invent and innovate in our content strategy to engage with our young audiences. The loyalty that both Indian IPs – Little Singham and Fukrey Boyzzz – have been able to make among kids is heartwarming and we hope that in this difficult time, the fresh content line-up on Discovery Kids will spread joy to everyone. I am inspired with the complex team effort that we have been able to execute while working from home over the past four to five weeks. The passion and drive to serve our young audiences is what inspired all of us to work out innovative strategies to ensure that we were able to deliver quality programming that I am deeply thankful to the entire team.”

Discovery Kids has also launched a unique social media campaign titled #SuperheroesStayHome which aims to help children learn new skills and accomplish tasks by engaging them in a meaningful way. As a part of the same, Discovery Kids urges children to execute interesting do-it-yourself (DIY) challenges based on their favorite characters from Little Singham and Fukrey Boyzzz.

The new episodes and films are being showcased on Discovery Kids through the months of April, May and June to make the early summer vacation all the more happening while spending time at home with their families during the lockdown.

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Ludo Lakhpati: Paytm First Games launches India’s first free to play Ludo tournaments with over Rs. 1 Lakh prize money daily

Paytm First Games has announced the launch of ‘Ludo Lakhpati’, which will be India’s first and biggest Ludo tournament with a prize pool of Rs. 1 lakh every day. The multi-player championship will be held from 1 May to 5 April, and players can register for free on the Paytm First Games app and on the Paytm app from 1 May onward.

The ‘Ludo Lakhpati’ tournament will be organised in an online, knockout format, and players will compete across different stages. This will be India’s biggest Ludo tournament, both in terms of participation and prize money. To further add to the excitement around this tournament and make it more popular, the final rounds of this championship will be live-streamed on YouTube and Paytm Inbox.

Paytm First Games COO Sudhanshu Gupta said, “Ludo is one of the most popular games in the country and its popularity has soared even more in the last 3-4 weeks. We launched Paytm First Games Ludo within a week of lockdown and the game has grown at a staggering pace. 4 lakh users play the game every day with 1 to 2 lakh new users joining the game everyday. With Ludo Lakphati, we aim to raise the stakes in the game and make it even more exciting for the players. ”

Paytm First Games sees more than half a million daily active players on the platform, spending anywhere between 32 to 45 minutes. With over 75,000 new users joining the platform every day, it has witnessed a 200 percent growth in its user base in the last one month. Paytm First Games’ recently concluded e-sports challenge ‘Clash Royale’ saw over 11,000 registrations for the tournament.

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Gigi Hadid and Serena Williams to play in a Virtual Charity Tennis Match this weekend

Gigi Hadid and Serena Williams’ friendship has been consistent, but for the first time the pair are coming together for a tennis match. Hadid and Williams will headline a Mario Tennis Aces tournament that will be streamed on Facebook Gaming.

Organized by IMG,  this tournament will see tennis champions facing off in the Nintendo Switch video game against models, athletes, and celebrities as Mario characters. The competition will also feature Hailey Bieber and Naomi Osaka; Karlie Kloss and Maria Sharapova; Venus Williams and DeAndre Hopkins; and more.La La Anthony, Serena Williams at LaLa Anthony & Lenny S. Host ...

Gameplay will begin at 4 p.m. EDT on Sunday, May 3. Each player will receive a $25,000 donation to a charity of choice for participating, with the winner of the tournament receiving an additional $1 million donation to their charity. The event will be announced by tennis legend John McEnroe and YouTuber iJustine.

This is just one of the ways to lift spirits during the novel coronavirus pandemic by raising money. Earlier this month, Lady Gaga hosted the One World: Together at Home concert to raise money for the Solidarity Response Fund.

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WarnerMedia strengthens kids content team in APAC

WarnerMedia Entertainment Networks has brought on board Carlene Tan as the new director of original production and development for its Kids division in Asia Pacific. As departmental lead, she will focus on identifying new IP and producing original series for Cartoon Network, Boomerang and POGO.

Carlene Tan

Based in Singapore, Tan will immediately get involved with the current slate of Asia Pacific originals including the International Emmy-nominated Lamput and the just-launched Monster Beach. She will also help steer the long-running Roll No. 21 series in India, as well as both Titoo and Lambuji Tinguji, which will launch on POGO later this year.

Commenting on Tan’s appointment, WarnerMedia Entertainment Networks Asia Pacific Kids head Leslie Lee said, “Tan combines strategic business experience with her love of storytelling to connect with audiences. Her relationships with studios and talent in the regional and global animation ecosystem will be instrumental in bringing new stories to life.”

Prior to WarnerMedia, Tan developed original animation with The Walt Disney Company (Southeast Asia) and was the studio head at One Animation where she produced Oddbods and Insectibles. Before that, with the founder of Dreamworks Animation, she managed the Singapore arm of Cloudpic Global and produced various digital projects for mobile apps launched across Asia. She was also one of the founding members of Singapore’s first animation studio, Peach Blossom Media.

 Besides Tan, Hoyoung Jung from Lee’s team has been promoted as the APAC Kids director of acquisitions and co-productions. Based in Japan, Jung is now tasked with the discovery and negotiation of third-party programming for WarnerMedia’s Kids platforms in the region, and will be the face of the networks at key international markets and trade shows.

 Jung is a former Mattel employee who worked in the strategic IP partnerships team responsible for APAC content distribution in Hong Kong. He also worked at Daewon Media, which represented iconic Japanese IP, in Korea, such as Power Rangers, Doraemon and One Piece.

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Irrfan: Top 5 VFX-rich international blockbusters that immortalised the moviestar

 The goal is not to live forever. It is to create something that will – Chuck Palanuik

Irrfan recently shuffled off the mortal coil, leaving a void in the hearts of millions who gushed over his craft and eloquent eyes all through the years. Mournful messages and tweets flooded the internet shortly after his demise was announced over social media. His journey of self-discovery began with a lie that he wanted to become a teacher after learning at National School Of Drama. Little did his parents know that their step would mark the polishing of India’s finest gem whose iridescence would spread far and beyond.

Such was the magic of his beguiling eyes and iconoclastic persona both on-celluloid and otherwise that many of us are still not able to accept the tragic news of his passing. The best part about art is the way it immortalises the artists, allowing loved ones to experience their company even after they are gone.

Here are the top 5 VFX-rich international blockbusters that Irrfan floored us by –

1) Life of Pi –

In Life of Pi, the actor essayed the role of an adult version of the protagonist ‘Pi Patel’,
telling the story of a tiger in a boat. In this award winning Ang Lee-directed film, Khan acted as the philosophical narrator because the movie was mainly set in flashbacks.

2) The Amazing Spiderman

In this Hollywood movie, the actor played the super scientist Rajit Ratha. Peter Parker, an outcast high school student, gets bitten by a radioactive spider and attains superpowers. While unravelling his parents’ disappearance, he must fight against the Lizard.

3) Jurassic World

A theme park showcasing genetically-engineered dinosaurs turns into a nightmare for its tourists when one of the dinosaurs escapes its enclosure. An ex-military animal expert steps up to save the day. In this movie, the actor plays a billionaire Simon Masrani, who is the CEO of the Masrani Corporation and the owner of Jurassic World.

4) The Warrior:

A warlord’s warrior in ancient India who is sent to massacre a village behind in their taxes suffers a crisis of conscience and, laying down his sword, sets off to the Himalayas in search of peace. The vengeful warlord sends enforcers on the trail of his renegade warrior and he must once again face violence. In Asif Kapadia’s directorial debut was a period drama in which Irrfan is fascinating as the strangely named Lafcadia, a strongman who gives up violence.

5) Slumdog Millionaire

A teenager from the slums of Mumbai becomes a contestant on the show ‘Kaun Banega Crorepati?’ When interrogated under suspicion of cheating, he revisits his past, revealing how he had all the answers. In 2008, Irrfan inked the deal with Danny Boyle for Slumdog Millionaire in which he played the role of a police inspector who beats Dev Patel’s character, Jamal – believing him to be a cheat. Boyle also  praised his performance saying it was beautiful to watch.

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Kids sector grows by 43 per cent in week 16; ‘Chhota Bheem’ boosts DD National’s slot viewership: BARC

The sixth edition of the report on ‘Crisis Consumption on TV and Smartphones‘ jointly released by BARC India-Nielsen Media have found the Kids sector to witness 43 per cent growth between 18 to 24 April, in comparison to the pre-COVID period. Prior to this time period, kids viewership stood at 39 per cent. 

Maximum growth in the sector is seen to still come from the morning slots especially between 9 to 10 am, while the prime time struggles to match up to it. With the ongoing lockdown since 25 March, viewership in this genre has only seen a rise with kids having limited or no access to outdoor entertainment, games or school time. In fact, the kids sector continues its steady position at 7 per cent in genre-wise share compared to pre-COVID period.

While the live-action projects have been stalled with the productions being stopped, it’s Motu Patlu, Little Singham, Rudra, Honey Bunny, Fukrey Boyzzz, Chhota Bheem and others who are saving the day for kids. Kids broadcasters have strategically come up with ample hours of fresh content – new episodes, TV movies, contests and interesting campaigns to keep the younger audience hooked.

Coming to Chhota Bheem, this popular animated IP has given a significant boost to DD National’s viewership during the 2:00 -2.30 pm slot. BARC report further reveals that kids aged two to 14 years have contributed 38 per cent of the viewership during that time to the national broadcaster. 

In the Hindi Speaking Market (HSM) 2+ category, the animated show saw a 11 times jump – from 154,000 impressions during the pre-COVID period to 1,729,000 impressions in week 16. In the HSM two to 14 years category, it increased from 34,000 impressions in pre-COVID period to 662,000 impressions in week 16, which was a jump of 20 times.

Since its inception, Chhota Bheem has remained a fan favourite, one of the few animated IPs to have enjoyed worldwide fame. In fact, Bheem will turn a year stronger tomorrow, 1 May. To celebrate his birthday, Green Gold Animation has announced two contests – ‘Sending a video birthday message’ for him and ‘Bheem Birthday drawing challenge’ to keep Chhota Bheem fans engaged and entertained during these tough times.

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