Animahenasyon 2014 – Seminars

2 12 2014

     The Animation Council of the Philippines Inc. (ACPI) organizes an annual animation festival called Animahenasyon  that showcases original Filipino animated works of both aspiring and professional animators in the country through a competition. Now on its 8th year, the festival was held last November 25 to 28, 2014 at the iAcademy Plaza, Gil Puyat Avenue, Makati City. Aside from the local animation competition, the festival had conferences with local and foreign speakers; short and long film showings from the Philippines, Japan, Korea, US, Norway, Poland, Italy, Spain, France and Germany.

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     The last time I attended the festival was in 2011; and as always about 98% of the attendees are students from various animation or IT schools, since its a requirement for them to attend the festival. I went to the festival to attend the 4 plenary sessions held last November 26 and 27 for Php3,500. I was not able to attend the first one held on the 25th, because of time and budget constraints. There was no time for me to attend the other sessions, film showings and see the entries of the competitors, although I can attend some of it as I had an all day access pass to all the events for the day.

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     The sessions were all very good, as I learned more about the distribution side of animation industry and the latest on what’s happening in related businesses to animation. The sessions were scheduled from 9am to 12pm and 2pm to 5pm, but there were delays for 30 minutes to 1 hour before it started and it ended sometimes 30 minutes earlier or an hour later.

November 26, 2014

A) “Picking Producers’ Brains: What Are They Looking For?” (9am to 12pm)
1) Mr. Agno Almario – Adarna House

     Adarna House is the pioneer publisher of children’s books in the country. It has been in existence for 35 years and its updating itself with the current trends in e-publishing. Its goal is to build an app store publishing brand that focuses on quality children’s content; tested by kids and trusted by parents.

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Mr. Agno Almario

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     There is a lot of opportunity to present their books in a different way with the current mobile and interactive medium. About 60% of their downloads were outside the country, and the customers were not just Overseas Filipino Workers or migrants, but foreigners as well.

     They test their books to grades 2 and 3 kids from different schools and observe what the kids spend the most time on their interactive books, what they enjoy and if the kids understand some stories that have topics like a mom with cancer that’s why the mom wears different colorful wigs in the story.

     Adarna got some international awards for some of their books from the American Association of School Librarians in 2014 and Kirkus Star in 2013.

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2) Mr. Gino Caparras – Stream Engine Studios

     Mr. Caparas is a Business Management graduate who started Stream Engine in 2012 as a one man team, now he has 13 employees. He is the producer of online animation commercial videos for corporate clients and online animation for the public. His company’s motto is:”Better Communication with Animation.”

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Mr. Gino Caparas

     As a producer, he works with creators, gives people money and make dreams happen. He believes in the valuye of the vision and the story. He worked with Matt Baretto and produced an online series called “Best Quest” in Youtube, which is accessed in 100 countries. His company has a tie up with Kuyi mobile for a mobile game called “Street Food Tycoon” and is coming out with online games like “Rumble Dweebs” and “We are Witches”.

     So what are they looking for in a creator?

a) Tell us your story – make it exciting

b) Who is your market? – Age, gender, location etc. An example is Best Quest – 89% are male, 18 to 24 years old, majority of the viewers are from the US and Canada, the Philippines is 3rd etc.         

c) Does it have global appeal? – Everyone should “get” it

d) Can the story continue? – Series not one shots, 5 to 7 minute videos

e) Gamification and Transmedia – The new frontier using game mechanics

f) Can you handle it? – A lot of hard work to produce, promote, spread the idea, the vision, should have the guts since its not easy

3) Ms. Marlyn Montano – Team App Inc.

     Ms. Montano is co-founder of Holy Cow Animation for animation services and Team App Inc. for mobile games. Her advice to producers and creators are:

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Ms. Marlyn Montano

a) Make meaning – Have a reason, its not just about the money, power or prestige. An example would be to make a locally animated show highlighting Filipino style and values…

b) Make a Mantra – “Why” of producing – Holy Cows mantra is – Spot on quality and delivery.

c) Get Going – Don’t be embarrassed with your work, you should always be selling, good enough is good enough, a lot of testing is for big companies.

d) Refine your product – who are your customers? Keep it simple- your audience should understand your story. Relate your film or TV series to one that is successful and understood already.

e) Milestones – From concept, prototype, raising capital, testing first version, testing final version, achieving break-even.

f) Assumptions – for market size, costs, gross margins, profits, receivables, payables, conversion of prospects to customers.

g) Tasks – business matters – accounting, payrolls, finding vendors, agents, legal matters.

     The concept should be universally appealing, but don’t forget about the 100M Filipinos. Holy Cow as co-producer will release an animated TV series in Tagalog for the local market sometime in June 2015.

4) Ms. Diana Jean Hernandez – Hero TV

     Ms. Hernandez was one of the many applicants who lined up outside the studio to get a job on Hero TV. She started as an on-the-job trainee and she worked her way up to a channel producer because of her love for anime.

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Ms. Diana Jean Hernandez

     Hero TV acquires and redubs cartoons from Japan, Korea, China and Taiwan. As a channel producer, she plans the show for the next year as early as September. As a producer, one should know the story and one’s market. If she can’t have a title, she goes back to the target market and see if the show can pass the local censorship body – MTRCB. One example is a Japanese cartoon about killing vampires. In one episode, the story is about killing vampires and she can’t cut the scenes or the episode will be gone, what she did was made the episode black and white and showed it at 11pm. 

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     One should know the audience’s viewing patterns and experiences; from here the cartoons are batched according to themes like sports, kids, girls, romance, heroes, etc. Not all the shows can be bought; some are expensive, others exclusive to some channels, some limited to some regions, others not simulcast and some are packaged with other cartoons. If you buy X cartoon, it should come with cartoon A,B, and C. So some shows are not that good, as it was just packaged with the preferred cartoon.

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     Local programs that Hero TV produces are: a) Comics on Cam – interviews with Filipino comic artists and their works. b) Dubbers Cut – voices behind the characters. C) I.animate – interviews with Filipino animators and their works.

5) John David Hukom – Reality Entertainment

     John is one of the founders of Reality Entertainment. He is consultant for post-production of live local films and TV shows. His firm deals with special effects to push the story forward, to make impossible things in real life happen in film as if they were real. He showed us various local movies where the scenes were shown with and without effects and the effects amazingly look real. They are still pushing the boundaries by hiring foreign digital artists with credits in big foreign films. But artists don’t stay long in this field of work, so there is a constant hire of new trainees.

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   Mr. John David Hukom

     He narrated his experience of doing a film on a green screen and cover it with special effects for the background versus filming on a real location. Filming on real location took more time due to the clearances from the barangay chairman, the rains and the almost impossibility to have major stars appear together.

     His advice to creators and producers is to have a good compelling story. The story should be universal regardless of target market. The story should be non-alienating. If he had a mantra, he said it would be a good story. He cited the example of a local film “Kung Fu Divas” with a budget of P40M to P45M. they expected the show to be a hit, since they have major stars, a major distributor, excellent special effects and other ingredients to make the film a success. However, the stars – Ms. Ai Ai de las Alas was typecast in the minds of the viewers for certain Filipino roles and Ms. Marian Rivera was also not able to connect with her foreign role in a Chinese setting. The local viewers were not prepared for the actresses to be an Oriental setting and story line which alienated the viewers. The film lost money.

     Another local film with a P40M to P45M budget that did not do well locally was “OTJ.” But it was shown to some foreign film festivals and they are now in a process of having sign the agreement for the film for a remake by a major Hollywood studio.

     John says there are still a lot of room for improvement and a big market for local films. So he is just concentrating on making good local films.

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 B) “Conferences and Content Markets: Building a Competitive Edge” (2pm -5pm)
1) Jeffrey Linis – ACM SIGGRAPH

     ACM SIGGRAPH is a New York based Association for Computing Machinery’s Special Interest Group on Computer Graphics and Interactive Techniques (SIGGRAPH). It has over 50 professional and student chapters all over the world. There are annual conferences held in the US and Asia. In Asia, SIGGRAPH chapters are already in Tokyo, Beijing, Taipei, Hong Kong, Bangkok and Singapore – Manila will soon follow.

       ACM SIGGRAPH would help establish and elevate the knowledge and innovation of computer graphics, game development and interactive technology in the Philippine community. The local chapter plans to share knowledge with other chapters, provide industry and mentor connections and promote collaboration with the international ACM SIGGRAPH community.

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     Mr. Jeffrey Linis

     Jeffrey is the head of the Manila chapter and he seeks more volunteers to complete the set up of officers and members of this non-profit and non-stock corporation.

2) Adam Ham – Global Creative Media Agency (Malaysia)

    Adam is the head of the Global Creative Media Agency (GCMA) which represents creative content companies in Southeast Asia (SEA) for the international market. He has over 14 years of industry experience in the Malaysian government and the media private sectors in SEA. He has travelled all over SEA interacting with government agencies and local organizations in various fields relating to media, intellectual property, animation, games and apps, television, feature film, music, documentary, formats, post production, new media, visual effects and creative content.

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Mr. Adam Ham

     He presented his company’s vision to promote value-added public relations and marketing, create awareness and to develop and organize various local and international creative festivals and events with local and overseas government and associations.

     GCMA has been appointed by Reed Midem as their exclusive authorized representative in Southeast Asia. Reed Midem is the leading organizer of professional events for the media entertainment sectors with the head office in Paris; it has offices in New York, London and Hong Kong. 

     Adam has presented a lot of guidelines for would be content creators during his presentation. He showed the industry building blocks to the development of the creative industry in MSC Malaysia. He also presented a slide on how to accelerate growth in the Philippine Media Industry and various major international trade fairs for games, animations and television for 2014.

     He further presented the types of buyers, target buyers for content, animation eco-system in Malaysia, 1st and 2nd tier information pitch, local versus international buyers, criteria of buyers, processes for idea/concept stage, pre-production to post-production steps, market and promotion, approaching buyers in trade missions, initial pitching, pitching to interested buyers and buyer’s perspective.

     Adam also talked about his experience in developing a mobile game, where it was localized in some countries and it was a hit in the US, China, Japan, Korea and Europe. He said he showed the game which was about 50% to 60% completed at a Las Vegas Licensing Expo for consultation and critical feedback. After the feedback, it took him 1.5 months correcting the game. After the 5th or 6th game, he sold the company. He also gave some advice such as if you do it correctly, expect the licensing and merchandising to earn you more money than the airing of your animation shows. Another advice was indicate the country code in your calling card, as there are some who don’t place it, so the prospects can’t contact them.

     Paul is a Senior Sales Manager for Reed Midem (Paris), who came with Adam to share some of his experiences. He talked how he worked with an Indian distributing Indian films which had limited markets outside India. The Indian guy then made some simple animation called “Baa Baa Blackship” and other pre-school rhyme songs for Youtube and it has a huge viewership  in the US and Europe. Paul said media now is changing from TV to streamlining on the Internet in some countries. 

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Paul of Reed Midem

    Adam and Paul talked about protecting your intellectual property rights during the open forum. Adam used non-disclosure agreements in pitching to individuals, companies and publishers. Paul said there is no 100% solution to protect yourself. Adam added that copyright and registering your property in different countries can be costly especially in the US as a default copyright for worldwide rights and its also time consuming.

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Open Forum

November 27, 2014

A) “Finding a Place for Animation in the Cinema” (9am to 12pm)
1) Jacques-Remy Girerd – Studio Folimage (France)

    Jacques turned to animation after studying in the School of Fine Arts of Lyon. In 1981, he founded the Studio Folimage, then in 1999, the Poudrière School. Throughout the years, he won various prestigious awards for his short and full length animation films.

     Jacques learned animation by himself, as back then there were no animation schools. He experimented with the Super 8 camera of his father and a lot of people saw his work and encouraged him to make films – clay animation. His studio has now been in existence for 35 years and has 130 staff. Mr. Girerd spoke in French throughout the session, he said can speak “bad” English a little, he had an interpreter.

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Mr. Jacques-Remy Girerd

     He showed one of his short animation films with no dialogue and after the showing the audience asked him some questions about the film and his inspiration. A second silent short film was shown which was followed by some discussion after. The reflective films shown evoke subtle emotions that linger on after the showing; the experience is very different from watching commercial cartoons. One of his sources of major inspiration is from his childhood perception and the motive for making films is more from the artistic merits of the film rather than its commercial potential. There are two trends in animation – American and Japanese. Europe has different sources of inspiration. In France, graphic artists tend to refer to landscapes of France rather than general animation. Inspiration also comes from European painters. He said Filipinos should look for sources of local inspiration. He has an artistic committee to select projects. He believes in the director of the project and gives people the chance to carry on a project.

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Jacques with French interpreter Mr. Martin Macalintal

    His advice to future film makers is to believe in oneself, make your own project, don’t copy what’s out there, be creative, imaginative and original. There are no formulas, make sure all the details are in – spend time in writing rather than in technique. He always wants to tell stories; telling stories sustains itself.

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With Conference Director – Ms. Ayeen Pineda

B) “How to Pitch to Cartoon Network” (2pm to 5pm)
2) Yoshiya Ayugai – Executive Producer Cartoon Network  (Hong Kong)

    Cartoon Network (CN) is available in nearly 300 million homes in 166 countries, 26 languages and 27 separate feeds. It is the number one kids channel in Asia and number 2 international kids channel. Target market is between ages 4 to 14 and the core target are boys ages 8 to 10 years old.

     CN is interested in artists, execution is important and chemistry should be there. CN will work with the artists for more than a year to develop his concept. In Asia, its a virtual office, where the artists works with the producers in the Hong Kong office via the Internet. In the US, one has to be physically present in the office. CN wants to know the artist, his portfolio and the artist should show what he wants to do with CN. After working one to two years with some artists; CN sometimes stop working with them because the chemistry is not right. The cartoon may be more for Disney, Nickelodeon, etc. One thing one should not expect is that one can become a millionaire overnight if one sells the intellectual property or the concept was developed and shown on CN. In 1998, the amount for all the rights was very small about $US5,000, but Yoshiya jokingly told that he regretted not selling his intellectual property as his co-workers who did sell were able to to buy houses in Los Angeles with swimming pools later on. 

     Everything starts with shorts, normally about 7 minutes long. CN looks for how well characters develop, the chemistry of the characters – good and funny in 2D, 3D or whatever format. CN wants to experiment with no language like Tom and Jerry stuff, as its expensive to dub.

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Mr. Yoshia Ayugai

     As an executive producer for CN, Mr. Ayugai gave many invaluable tips on the do’s and don’ts to artists who want to pitch their ideas to CN which was presented in numerous slides. The pitch should not be more than 3 minutes, if you can do it in 3 sentences, the better. Believe in imaginary friends. Be ready to answer any possible questions and do as much artwork as possible. Test your pitch, make adjustments to align it more with the CN brand. Be prepared to sell your intellectual property rights but be sure you are the owner of the rights. Never send unsolicited material, as CN will not touch it or take a look at it. One reason is that CN may be working on a similar material and the creator who sent the work may just sue them for copying his idea/s. One should study and pick the network channel and brand of cartoon that one is interested in pitching for. CN is not looking for preschool material, educational shows and nothing normal or derivative. What CN is looking for are crazy, wacky, funny, complicated and relatable characters with a potential for 52 self contained episodes or more. 10 stories for a character will not do; a 100 or more stories is ideal. Don’t pitch a toy, merchandise or game as a show. If you pitch a show very different from the CN brand, they will not want to see you again. So don’t pitch a show that does not fit the channel or brand. CN is looking for “Character driven comedy series.” “Fun, funny and fearless.” “Surprising and unexpected.” “I’m still 8 years old at heart – what do I want to watch?”

     Mr. Ayugai then showed some samples of cartoons they like, with one paragraph and drawings on a single page. He also showed many guides or samples of relatable characters, putting your character to work, story starters and classic sketch comedy. On the legal side, he showed guides on the need for submission forms or Agreement, getting a deal with an option or development agreement. This covers the amount paid, time required, services required and intellectual property rights.

     So far there are no cartoons developed from the Philippines, but in the last 3 weeks he had received about 6 pitches from some local studios. He showed some works that CN is showing or developing like Magisworld; in Malaysia its – Animal Control and We Bare Bears. In India its Roll 21 and Johnny Bravo reboot in India. CN is working on a website for pitching in the coming months. 

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     After the talk, Mr. Ayugai was willing to give his contact number so there was a long line of students and professionals wanting to take the privilege. 

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