Asia-EU Cartoon Connection 2019 Meeting

17 06 2019

Last March 5, 2019. Top Peg Animation & Creative Studio Inc. was invited by the Korea Trade Center Manila (KOTRA) to the ASIA-EU CARTOON CONNECTION 2019, which will be held on May 30-31, 2019 at InterContinetal Hotel, Seoul, South Korea.

The event will be attended by professionals and industry experts and leaders in the animation/cartoon industry. It was a meeting with potential partners in the industry from around the world. There would be one-on-one business meetings, project pitchings, animation conference, and capital consultation. KOTRA Manila also offered 100% accommodation expenses (subsidy) to interested companies.

Top Peg was interested, but the finances of the company were a bit low, and we knew that airfare to Korea is a bit high, so we declined at first.

Then on March 11, 2019, Ms. Ingrid M. Javalera of the Department of Tourism and Industry (DTI) forwarded the invitation to the Animation Council of the Philippines (ACPI) and they mentioned that both airfare and hotel accommodations would be free but limited to one per company.

Top Peg decided to send Luis B. Dimaranan, to the event. Luis decided to invite his son, Baron A. Dimaranan, who has a partner/startup company Fallacious Owl that does Software Development. Luis thought it would be good training for Baron to speak with contemporaries and to see what are the trends in the industry today.

They left Manila on the evening of May 28, 2019. Baron, who had an earlier flight, was supposed to arrive in Incheon airport at 12:00 midnight and Luis at 4:00 AM the next day. Due to a flight delay, Baron arrived at 2 AM and he just needed to wait for 2 hours for Luis. Other delegates took a cab to their airport, but since the bus transfer from the airport to the hotel was free, Luis and Baron waited until 8 AM.

Unfortunately, they missed the courtesy call at the Philippine Embassy, which the other delegates were able to attend. Luis and Baron arrived at their hotel -the InterContinental Seoul COEX, which is located at Gangnam-gu, Seoul.

Philippine Embassy Courtesy Call

An orientation for the delegates was held in the afternoon, which Luis and Baron were able to attend. According to Baron, almost all the companies that attended were basically the same as ours: service providers, except for France which provides funding to eventual partners, and Thailand that was looking to outsource their project.

The program schedule was also announced, in the morning of May 30, would be the pitching of companies, and on the afternoon would be the Business Meetings, that Luis pre-picked before arriving in Korea. On the last day, it will all be business meetings.

Each company was introduced on stage and Luis also introduced Baron. It was the first conference for Baron and he said that it was nerve-wracking and exciting. He was also excited to see the AR/VR (Augmented Reality/Virtual Reality)  pitch.

 

Orientation

Philippine Delegates

May 30, 2019

This was the official opening of the event it also coincided with the Korea Service Market 2019, which had an exhibit at the same venue (InterContinental Seoul COEX).

There was a booth for AR/VR (Augmented Reality/Virtual Reality) and Unity.

Then the pitching started. There were a number of companies that pitched, but Baron only listed those who he thinks were relevant to our needs.

Luis and Baron in the foreground

Nick Hall presenting

CBeebies Animation & Acquisitions (UK)

The first speaker was Nick Hall, Senior Programme Executive of CBeebies Animation & Acquisitions, BBC, UK. CBeebies is basically the Children’s broadcast media of BBC. He was in charge of BBC Children’s series such as Hey Dugge and Sarah & Duck.

They had their own IPs, and they also commission work. What interested Baron here was that they were looking for content, and since we had content in The Crop Circle Warriors, Baron listened to what were their needs.

They listed criteria on their needs. Since most of their IPs were for small children, they were looking to target content for TEENS. They also said that the IP did not have to be finished already, even 25% completion would be good for them. In fact, they would like to share ideas to further enhance an IP. They were also looking for IP with a female lead, as well as IPs with Loud, Funny Action.

Studio Canal (France)

For Studio Canal, they were looking for Talent based IP, which Baron was confused at. Basically, they were looking for something unique, “Artsy”, high-tier animation with cultural relevance to France. They also touched on cultural relevance, because each region in France had a different thematic.

Danish Animation

There was a speaker for who basically promoted their school.

Big Void and other companies (China)

Baron felt that the speakers from China were really not interested in services or selling, and they were just boasting on the IPs and technology that they had.

They said they had Big Demand in China but had small services.

When making cartoons for China, it needs to appeal to the Government, and it should be based on the Cultural Heritage of the country.

One speaker said that China was a great opportunity but they lack content. They had IP that won the Golden Dragon Awards which is the highest award for cartoon characters in their country.

Another speaker gave a history of comics in China.

Indonesia

The speaker was Faza Meonk, creator and author of the webcomic SI-JUKI.

He is one of the “biggest” guys in the country, because of the popular webcomic. He owns the IP and he started this comic as 4-panel comics until it evolved into a full comic book.  It is a comedy about everyday life. There is merchandising and there are plans for an animated series and movie.

He talked about the history of comics and animation in Indonesia. He said that the market basically wants content FREE. They have a platform (app) for comics called CIAYO Comics where you can download and read their content. The game industry is booming as well, but they are only a few games that do localization for Indonesia. Their goal is to collaborate with other countries.

Studio Animal

They have IP that they want to reboot, basically, their IP was made back in 2003, and they felt that the story and plot are outdated. They are also looking for funding for this reboot.

Popcorn Pictures

They are a service provider for animation, film, tv and internet productions.

2Spot Studio

The makers of Bloody Bunny, a popular character with 50,000 likes on Facebook.  I remember this character, they won the Grand Prize for the Asean Character Awards 2014 during the Tokyo Game Show.

Gold Frame Animation Inc.

They are the creator of Nana Family, a series about a genius child with EI (Emotional Intelligence). It is about mishaps and learning from mistakes. They are looking for funding but they have all the designs for merchandise and animation locked in. Baron was surprised by this, which I was also surprised when I encountered these in Hong Kong Filmart. Basically, they create a project plan for a character for every media they can think of, then sell it to potential producers.

D&C Media

The last speaker was from a famous comic book company from Korea, which Baron was a big fan of. I did not know that the comic industry in Korea was big, in fact, they had their own term like Manga from Japan. They call them MANWHA, which is based on the Chinese word manhua, meaning comics.

They are a Web Toons Company and are publishing only in Korea. They have many platforms (apps) in Korea that distribute their comics. They introduced their comic “Only One Level UP” or more popularly known as “Solo Levelling”, which is about the weakest warriors/swordsman in a society of monster hunters, but suddenly gains the ability to see his abilities numerically. He basically sees a chart of his abilities and their percentages, so he knows what he needs to improve on. This basically helps him improve or “level up” until he becomes a great swordsman.

After this was a Q&A session where the audience can ask questions.

Baron is a big fan of D&C Media and he was excited to see them. He asked a question and he said he was a real fan of the comic.

May 30-31, 2019 – Business Matching

Luis was able to schedule business matching with the following companies. And to Baron’s surprise, D7C Media was one of them, but they then learned that their meeting was canceled because of the number of people who scheduled with them. Luckily their interpreter, seeing Baron was a big fan, convinced them to reconsider. And they did.

D&C Media

Baron again was excited to talk to them. They had a question though since Baron told them that he was able to read their comics in English. They said that their comics weren’t available in English. This is where Baron realized he was reading illegal copies of their work that was translated.  He apologized and said he did not know that they were illegal, and he said that there are apps that translate comics and make them available in other countries. He said that in the Philippines, there is a huge fan base for Manwha but there is no portal on where they could get it. Since Baron had a startup company for Software development, he suggested that their company can set up a portal for them. Which sparked their interest. They were also interested in having their comics made into an animation, which Baron said that Top Peg is interested in.

ToryWorks

Another webcomic company that has 100+ IPS (comparing it to D&C Media that has thousands), so it’s a smaller company. They are looking for content and they basically want to market it in Korea. They also want to launch a portal that Baron also suggested to them. They can be a possible platform for the UCCW comic in Korea.

Art Licensing

A company that buys IP.

Ani-J Productions

They have an IP about animals, which Season 1 is already finished. The title is “The Earth Human and Animals”, 5 mins each which can be lengthened to 11 mins if needed. They are looking co-production since their budget is not that high. They are willing to give the licensing rights for a fair amount. They are looking for 104 episodes. The animation is basically very limited and based on their website, they have their characters planned to different merchandise.

Electural

They are looking for animation service providers for their Pilot. They do IP selling, which I mentioned back, which they pre-sell character designs. They have pilot episode done to help them sell their IP.

Cheeks Media

They do IP Acquisition.

B2B with Audacity Studio from Bacolod City

B2B – BPhilippines Booths

Blissful Fun Animation Inc.

B2B –Top Peg Animation & Creative Studio Inc.

B2B – Rene Misa of the Animation Council of the Philippines

B2B- Toast & Brew Animation

All the Attendees

Philippine Delegates

Philippine Delegates

Article by: Alstaire Sarthou (Interview with Mr. Baron Dimaranan)

Photos by: Courtesy of Mr. Rene B. Misa and DTI – Export Marketing Bureau.

 

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UCCW Comics Drawing Quality

4 09 2017

Last August 21, Gilbert “Geebo” Vigonte our comic artist for the United Crop Circle Warriors (UCCW) e-comics emailed me asking for five sequential pages (nothing more, nothing less) of our e-comics to be shown as sample pages for this year’s Marvel Artist Hunt happening at the APCC, as it was his dream of being part of Marvel’s great comic artists.

At first, I didn’t recall what the APCC was and Geebo did not write when and where was it going to be held. So I searched the Internet and recalled that it was the AsiaPop Comicon that was held at the World Trade Center (WTC) in Manila since 2015 and for this year it will be held on August 25 – 27, 2017 at the same venue.

Later on, I emailed him if it was colored pages, he replied its all in black and white; with no colors and dialogues. Mr. C.B. Cebulski, the talent scout for Marvel and Vice President for Brand Management and Development for Asia will do the selection. Mr. Cebulski must be able to tell what is happening on the pages through the artist’s work without the dialogues. And it must be in black and white to determine if the shadings and stages are correct and appropriate for the tone of the scene. I naturally gave him the permission and wished him good luck but I did not ask which of the five sequential pages he will submit. But I did ask Geebo to send me pictures of him and Mr. Cebulski at the event which he promised.

Later on, I emailed Geebo several times as there were many details I would like to know before and after the selection event. He wrote that there were more than 150 hopefuls who passed their artwork before the said event. The deadline was on Wednesday (August 23) and the APCC was held on Friday. He was called Saturday in the afternoon and was asked to come on Sunday at 3:45 pm. He surmised that Mr. Cebulski reviewed the artworks on his arrival on Thursday before the final selection of which Geebo was one of the 10 candidates whose portfolios will still be reviewed in New York. The candidates chosen whose style ranges from Disney to animé where from indie comics for the international market. Geebo said they still have a lot of things to do before they get to pencil at Marvel. They will run test sequential like scripts from an editor of a title (X-men, Avengers, Daredevil, etc.) Doing layouts for the script and cover art for their comics. It really depends on the editors if they like his work.

Unfortunately, Geebo and his friends were not able to take some pictures of Mr. Cebulski as he was very busy at the three-day event. The interview was around 15 to 30 minutes, and Geebo was so nervous that he forgot he needed to pee at that moment!   Geebo asked Mr. Cebulski about the pages we’ve done and he said he was really impressed. There were only a few revisions that he pointed out – more on the background and panel breaking, but generally, he liked our pages very much.  Mr. Cebulski already knows what’s going on just by looking at the pages. He asked to send for other pages, but Geebo said he will ask permission from me again – which he never did anymore. Geebo was very thankful for letting him use the pages, if it wasn’t for those pages, he would never have been called. He promised to make the remaining pages on the UCCW 3 more striking.

Even without the pictures, as the publisher and co-creator of the UCCW, I am very proud and happy to have received good comments from a Marvel big boss at least about our comic drawing quality. I am also very happy that we’re helping a young man like Geebo to strive to be better to reach his goals in life.  It is rare that we receive good comments for our work; positive comments from international industry authorities serve as an impetus and inspiration to help us do better since it indicates that our work has some future or potential. The other time a good comment was given was from a DC/Warner animation producer with a 5 time Emmy under his belt for our animation in 2011 (read the blog: Seminars and Lessons Applied). He gave 3 comments on our animation; 2 of the comments were spot on ( “That’s something new.”, “There’s a formula for that.”) and the 3rd one I have not written it yet – maybe sometime in the future. 

In contrast, years ago some local keyboard bashers would give comments such as WTF (very disrespectful; what did we do to him to deserve such comment?) for our animation introduction at Youtube ; another would write panget (ugly) and another one – just another animé wannabe like Disney’s Totally Spies in our website which we did not post any more. Well, I guess the keyboard bashers don’t really understand what we’re doing, much less how hard it is to produce an original animation series, game, short video or comics. If they would do their own original stuff, they will realize that most probably they can’t do any better work – I mean the whole thing and not just a single drawing for their own idea of a comic, game, short video or animation. I’m 100% sure they are all just talk, with no products to show now and in the future. One can hardly see any original animation content in the Philippines, and if one tries to do one, it will be bashed by local keyboard critics mercilessly. 

 Geebo had his own share of keyboard bashers, that he had to lash out at those anonymous bashers on his Facebook page last year or sometime this year. I’m glad Geebo took a chance on us because we have a smaller budget compared to the more established publishers in the market. Other artists had no time to do the job or the pay was too small for them – I’m just wondering whatever happened to them. What is evident is that Geebo keeps on trying to improve his craft and the same with us, we try to improve our concept, stories, etc. as we go on doing new stuff. 

 




GameCon PH Exhibit

13 07 2017

      Last July 8 -9, 2017, GameCon PH held a small exhibit for local game developers, computer and art schools, animé and game merchants, hardware game peripheral suppliers, robotics competition, 3D printers, virtual reality demos and Cosplay competition at the SM Megamal trade exhibit hall B.  I was only informed by Top Peg Animation of the exhibit on the last minute – June 21, 2017 and at first I did not want attend the exhibit because of the over budget for the creation of our mobile game.

      It took me a few days to ask about the rental fee and  I found out that the price for the two day exhibit was substantially discounted, so I gladly paid for the fee before the July 1 deadline. The said exhibit was good timing for us as we only put our mobile game – The Crop Circle Warriors at Google Play last July 3, 2017. 

      I arrived on July 8 at around 11 am up to 1:20 pm to inspect the Top Peg Animation booth for our mobile game. Since our budget was small for the exhibit, we just used the old tarpaulin we used at the ESGS exhibit last October 28 – 30, 2016.  At first I was a bit disappointed with the small venue and few number of people at the beginning. But after lunch time there were more people steadily coming in. Alstaire, Anthro and Jap stayed on for the rest of the day, I just hoped there will be more people coming in so that we can promote our mobile game more to the local market.

      I noticed that none of the local independent (indie) developers have developed or created any games or e-novels with any local theme, looks, costumes and titles . I think all the developers were geared to develop mobile or desktop games for the international market.


Principal Game Developers: Alstaire, Jap and Anthro (Standing)

      It was my first time to see our finished mobile game (five levels for one environment), and I was very pleased with it as the animation was clear and the flow of the game was smooth and fun to play with. I witnessed that some of the people who tried our mobile game were excited in playing it but some already had difficulty in the first minute. The first player I saw was a 9 year old kid with his father; the kid enjoyed the game by jumping or kicking with his feet. He was followed by some adults, some who were also exhibitors. For those who tried the game, they were given a flyer to visit Google Play to download our game for free and visit our other properties.

The Crop Circle Warriors Flyer

Below is the essay of Alstaire for the GameCon PH Exhibit:

     Last May 30, 2017 we were sent an invitation by Red Wizard Event Management to become an exhibitor at Game Con 2017, at the Megatrade Hall 2 in SM Megamall. They said that the event highlights were launchpads for Indie games, trade show, game competition, cosplay, development workshops and others. Knowing from the previous trade show we attended (ESGS 2016), having a booth is a bit expensive, so we really didn’t think we would be joining the event. 
     On June 23, Red Wizard emailed again an invite, this time they offered a discounted price, with the event really close maybe they needed to fill up some spaces. Edith told our producer about the booth and he agreed to join as a means to promote our game – The Crop Circle Warriors. We had about 2 weeks till the opening of the event which was on July 8-9. Since the game had some more polishing needed, I gave Anthro and Jap the schedule to polish the game. 
     At ESGS, we learned that showing the game through a cellphone wasn’t attractive to the people going around the exhibit. So we planned on connecting the cellphone ,with the game installed, to a 40″ LED TV. I found some HDMI adapters online and ordered them immediately.  Unfortunately, they did not function as advertised, so we had to have a backup plan. Jap packaged the game for PC use, and we installed it in a notebook computer. The notebook was then connected to the TV, also a game controller was installed so that the gamers could play comfortably.  I also had Jap remove the visual buttons on the screen  so there would be no distraction of giant buttons on the big screen TV. 
Lap Top Behind the TV to Play the Game on TV
    Jap added more sound effects into the game, especially for the teleportation and orb pick ups. Also some bugs were fixed as well as some additional fixes on the background.
     July 7, Friday was the schedule for the ingress; the time given was from 2 pm to 8 pm, since it was a work day, we planned on leaving by 2 pm thinking we would get to the venue in 2 hours. We were able to leave the office by 3 pm but because of the Friday traffic, we got to the venue at exactly 8 pm! The worst traffic I’ve experienced in EDSA before this was 3 hours, so it was really frustrating. When we got to the venue, we just dropped all the stuff, and decided to come back early tomorrow. The event organizer said that it would be okay to fix the booth on Saturday morning, so we had dinner and went back home.
    July 8, Saturday – Anthro , Jap and I, together with Jap’s girlfriend Princess, arrived at the venue at 9 am, so we had plenty of time to setup the booth. We placed the TV on the center, with the notebook hidden behind. The setup was a success, because we attracted kids and adult gamers to try our game. Sadly, we forgot to print out a feedback form, also we lacked signs that said “PLAY OUR GAME!” or “DOWNLOAD OUR GAME!” so I wrote down these signs around 12:30 pm so more people would take notice.
   Paper Signs Were Placed in Front of the TV  
     One gamer said that the game looked interesting, and he was surprised that it was done here in the Philippines. They said the quality was good and the animation was nice too. When Edward arrived, that is when I was able to go around and show him the different areas of the exhibit. There were animé and manga merchandise, contest for League of Legends and other online games, there were booths of schools, with game development as a course, there was booth for Game Developers Association of the Philippines (GDAP) and some toy stores. We even saw one of our former student having his own table for art commissions.
     The most interesting to me was the Indie Game area, because here we get to see the competition and where our game level stands. There were different Independent game developers there, with some 3D games, 2D games, animated novels, Virtual Reality games and even card games. All developed by Filipinos, some were a small group of 3 and others were a small company that had already a number of games in the Playstore. There was even a one man developer. They were all there to showcase their game to either find investors (to help them finish their games), publishers or just to market it to the public. I was happy because, in my opinion, we really had a cool looking game. There really wasn’t any game there that was similar to ours, so being an animation studio that is developing their first game, we were proud that we were able to create this game.
     I was also invited to an interview for a blog. While they showed the game at the back, another guy was playing the game, while the other was interviewing me. They loved the look of the game and was excited on what we planned for it. I said that we were an animation studio and this was our first game that we are developing. I told them that we did game art for other foreign games and we wanted to try to build one ourselves. The interviewer – Harold said that being an animation studio is evident in the game; the player said that he loved the characters smooth  moves and attacks. The unique moves gave the characters their own game identity. He also liked that it was cute for kids, but also that the game had some difficulty to play. It gave the gamers a challenge and not just a game that consumes your time. He wants to play and know more about the game; so when he asked when can they see the final game; I said hopefully, we could be at ESGS again for the launch for the full game – wishful thinking.
    After the interview, I saw that more people were in line to play the game at our booth, then I also saw 2 guys downloading the game to their phones. There was also a pitching of games from the Indie Booths at the stage with members of GDAP having a panel that was like an audition. 
    July 9, Sunday – I wasn’t able to go but Jap said that there were more cosplayers because of the competition; but the number of players who went to our booth was just the same as Saturday. Even though the venue was much smaller than that of ESGS, in my opinion, we had a better showing here and we saw that The Crop Circle Warriors mobile game had potential.
Article by Edward L. Tan and Alstaire A. Sarthou
Pictures by Edward L. Tan