Posts with «visual arts» label

Netflix animation event dropped trailers for Tomb Raider, Devil May Cry and Sonic

Netflix held a virtual event called DROP 01 to celebrate its forthcoming slate of animated projects. The showcase was an absolute cornucopia of trailers and announcements for animation fans, particularly those who enjoy video game adaptations (all of us.) It started with a global livestream of Castlevania: Nocturne’s first three episodes ahead of the official premiere later today.

After that, the hits kept on coming. We knew there was a Devil May Cry anime being produced, adapting the popular game series, and now we have a trailer. There’s no release date, other than “coming soon”, but the show’s being produced by Capcom and animated by Studio Mir, the same folks behind The Legend of Korra, Kipo and the Age of Wonderbeasts, The Witcher: Nightmare of the Wolf and My Adventures With Superman. In other words, we should be in for a good time.

Sonic Prime is coming back for season three and there’s a trailer to prove it. The new episodes focus on the fallout of chapter two as the speedy hedgehog faces off against Nine Tails for the fate of the entire Green Hill Zone. Netflix makes games now and also showed off a trailer for the related mobile title Sonic Prime Dash.

It’s been nearly three years since the announcement of a Tomb Raider animated series, leaving fans wondering if the show would evaporate into vaporware heaven. Worry no longer. It’s real and it’s coming soon. Tomb Raider: The Legend of Lara Croft is a team effort between game developer Crystal Dynamics and media dynamos Legendary Television. It’s being drawn by Powerhouse Animation, the studio behind Castlevania and Masters of the Universe. There’s no release date on this one yet but it looks nifty. 

Captain Laserhawk: A Blood Dragon Remix isn’t exactly a video game adaptation, but it’s inspired by the world created in Far Cry 3: Blood Dragon. As such, Ubisoft is on board, as is Netflix’s animation wunderkind Adi Shankar. This is a cyberpunk show, through and through, with the unusual addition of Ubisoft mascot Rayman. The series releases soon, on October 19.

We don’t have that long to wait before Scott Pilgrim Takes Off graces our screens, as it premieres on November 17. To hype up fans, Netflix dropped a sneak peek with an actual scene from the show. The eight-episode series brings back every single cast member from the movie, including Michael Cera, Brie Larson, Mary Elizabeth Winstead, Chris Evans and Aubrey Plaza.

It wasn’t all video game adaptations. Netflix also showed off trailers for the cinematic anime Blue Eye Samurai, a new season of Masters of the Universe: Revolution and a series based on Astro Boy called PLUTO. Prepare to go cartoon crazy in the coming months.

This article originally appeared on Engadget at

Creator of The Wolf Among Us universe releases it to public domain

Bill Willingham, the creator of the comic book series Fables, says you now own his work, fully and for all time. Willingham has released his work, which served as the basis for Telltale Games' The Wolf Among Us, to public domain — mostly because he can't afford to sue DC Comics. In a lengthy post on his Substack page, the artist went pretty in depth in explaining his beef with the publisher. He said the people he negotiated with 20 years ago had already been replaced by people "of no measurable integrity, who now choose to interpret every facet of [their] contract in ways that only benefit DC Comics and its owner companies."

Based on Willingham's account of what happened, DC would routinely overlook his input on things like artists for covers or formatting for new collections. That's pretty innocuous compared to his other allegations, though, including getting royalties late or DC under-reporting royalties so as not to pay him what he's owed. But the artist said that the company recently went beyond these "mere annoyances" and tried to forcibly take Fables' ownership from him. 

He mentioned Telltale Games in particular, when he talked about how DC execs allegedly admitted that they believe they could do anything with the property. That's including not protecting the integrity of its stories and characters from third parties — Telltale Games, in other words — that want to radically alter them. Further, he apparently gets no money from DC licensing his work to third parties.

While Willingham knows that he's still bound by his contract with DC and cannot release anything Fables related without the company's consent, he argued in his post that you're not. "[Y]ou have the rights to make your Fables movies, and cartoons, and publish your Fables books, and manufacture your Fables toys, and do anything you want with your property, because it’s your property," he said.

DC, however, has disagreed with Willingham and his interpretation of their contract and copyright law. "The Fables comic books and graphic novels published by DC, and the storylines, characters, and elements therein, are owned by DC and protected under the copyright laws of the United States and throughout the world in accordance with applicable law and are not in the public domain," the company told CBR in a statement. "DC reserves all rights and will take such action as DC deems necessary or appropriate to protect its intellectual property rights."

It's unclear if this development will have any effect on Telltale's The Wolf Among Us 2, which is scheduled for release in 2024. The game was supposed to be available this year, but the developer chose to push back its launch, because it needed time to switch from using Unreal Engine 4 to 5 and that involved changes to personnel and the development process. 

This article originally appeared on Engadget at

Hulu debuts hub for adult animation and anime

Animation is big business for Hulu, as the streamer’s roster of cartoons regularly rank in the top ten for hours watched on the platform, thanks to shows like Bob’s Burgers, Futurama, King of the Hill and many more. Seeking to capitalize on the popularity of adult animation, Hulu’s launching a sub-brand to house all of its animated and anime-based content, as originally reported by Variety. Animayhem is now the home for legacy content like the above titles and original content like Solar Opposites and Koala Man.

All told, the hub/sub-brand allows access to 2,600 episodes of traditional animated programming, spread across 46 series, and a whopping 18,400 episodes of anime, spread across 435 series. That’s over 20,000 episodes of cartoon goodness, for those keeping count. As such, Hulu is advertising the platform as the streamer’s “Animation Destination.”

The surprise-launch of Animayhem comes just two weeks before the latest Futurama reboot, and that’s just the start of the streamer’s plans for animation domination. Hulu’s ordered new episodes of Mike Judge’s King of the Hill and it plans on having a heavy presence at this year’s San Diego Comic-Con, promising an immersive experience called “Hulu Animayhem: Into the Second Dimension.”

In the meantime, the hub’s already available as part of the standard Hulu subscription, so go ahead and binge Archer, Family Guy and all the hundreds upon hundreds of available anime series like One Piece and Naruto.

This article originally appeared on Engadget at

‘Among Us’ cartoon coming from teams behind ‘Infinity Train’ and 'Star Trek: Lower Decks’

Hit video game Among Us is getting the cartoon treatment, as originally reported by Variety. CBS Studios is behind the venture, partnering up with Innersloth, the game studio originally responsible for the indie sensation. There looks to be plenty of talent behind the scenes here, as the showrunner is Owen Dennis, the creator of the criminally-underrated Infinity Train. Titmouse Studios is handling the animation, after successful work on shows like Star Trek: Lower Decks and Bigmouth.

If you are at all familiar with the game, the series description will seem like deja vu. The show will feature the crew of a spacecraft as they are murdered and replaced by an alien shapeshifter in an attempt to sabotage the ship and cause mass confusion. In other words, it’s the game, only with professional voice actors instead of your friends and family.

There’s no voice cast yet, or even some simple still shots of the animation. There hasn’t even been a streaming platform or network announced to house the cartoon, but with CBS Studios bankrolling, Paramount+ is a good bet. Though, Paramount+ has been doing that thing modern streamers do where they not only cancel shows but immediately delete them, so who knows.

Should you be excited for this animated series? Creator Owen Dennis cut his teeth on the critically acclaimed Cartoon Network series Regular Show before moving onto the absolutely stellar Infinity Train. Dennis served as showrunner throughout all four seasons of Infinity Train before it was, you’ll never guess, canceled and then completely erased by Max. There’s no official DVDs or Blu-Rays, but you can purchase the episodes digitally via Amazon and Apple to see what all the fuss is about.

In the meantime, the Among Us series has no release date, though the show is covered by The Animation Guild and not the WGA, so work should be able to proceed without crossing picket lines.

This article originally appeared on Engadget at

The Supreme Court’s Warhol decision could have huge copyright implications for ‘fair use’

The Supreme Court has ruled that Andy Warhol has infringed on the copyright of Lynn Goldsmith, the photographer who took the image that he used for his famous silkscreen of the musician Prince. Goldsmith won the justices over 7-2, disagreeing with Warhol's camp that his work was transformative enough to prevent any copyright claims. In the majority opinion written by Justice Sonia Sotomayor, she noted that "Goldsmith's original works, like those of other photographers, are entitled to copyright protection, even against famous artists." 

Goldsmith's story goes as far back as 1984, when Vanity Fair licensed her Prince photo for use as an artist reference. The photographer received $400 for a one-time use of her photograph, which Warhol then used as the basis for a silkscreen that the magazine published. Warhol then created 15 additional works based on her photo, one of which was sold to Condé Nast for another magazine story about Prince. The Andy Warhol Foundation (AWF) — the artist had passed away by then — got $10,000 it, while Goldsmith didn't get anything. 

Typically, the use of copyrighted material for a limited and "transformative" purpose without the copyright holder's permission falls under "fair use." But what passes as "transformative" use can be vague, and that vagueness has led to numerous lawsuits. In this particular case, the court has decided that adding "some new expression, meaning or message" to the photograph does not constitute "transformative use." Sotomayor said Goldsmith's photo and Warhol's silkscreen serve "substantially the same purpose." 

Indeed, the decision could have far ranging implications for fair use and could influence future cases on what constitutes as transformative work. Especially now that we're living in the era of content creators who could be taking inspiration from existing music and art. As CNN reports, Justice Elena Kagan strongly disagreed with her fellow justices, arguing that the decision would stifle creativity. She said the justices mostly just cared about the commercial purpose of the work and did not consider that the photograph and the silkscreen have different "aesthetic characteristics" and did not "convey the same meaning."

"Both Congress and the courts have long recognized that an overly stringent copyright regime actually stifles creativity by preventing artists from building on the works of others. [The decision will] impede new art and music and literature, [and it will] thwart the expression of new ideas and the attainment of new knowledge. It will make our world poorer," she wrote. 

The justices who wrote the majority opinion, however, believe that it "will not impoverish our world to require AWF to pay Goldsmith a fraction of the proceeds from its reuse of her copyrighted work. Recall, payments like these are incentives for artists to create original works in the first place."

This article originally appeared on Engadget at

'Babylon 5' will return as an animated movie from its original creator

We’ve known there was a reboot coming of 1990s sci-fi cult hit Babylon 5 for a while now, but we didn’t have any concrete details until today. Original series creator J. Michael Straczynski just announced that it’s an animated feature length film developed by Warner Bros. Animation.

Straczynski is quiet regarding plot details but did say that the movie is “classic B5” with a “raucous, heartfelt” story, going on to suggest that the cartoon feature is “the most B5-ish” project since the original series bowed out in 1998. He also said that the movie is completely finished and just awaiting release. In other words, it’ll likely be a matter of months, not years, before mega-fans get their eyeballs on this one.

BABYLON 5 ANIMATED MOVIE coming from Warner Bros. Animation & WB Home Entertainment! Classic B5: raucous, heartfelt, nonstop, a ton of fun through time and space & a love letter to the fans. Movie title, release date and other details coming one week from today.

— J. Michael Straczynski (@straczynski) May 3, 2023

To that end, the writer said that the official movie title, release date and other details will drop next week. If the film is “in the can”, as Straczynski says, here’s hoping we also get a trailer or at least some animation stills with that release date announcement. It’s still unknown which original series actors, if any, will reprise their roles for the film.

Babylon 5 was originally on the air for five seasons, which was followed up by five made-for-TV movies (the last one aired in 2002). The show has long-been praised for its commitment to hard sci-fi and revolving crew of motley characters, netting two Hugo Awards and a Saturn Award during its run. It’s primarily set on the titular space station, calling to mind rival sci-fi epic Star Trek: Deep Space Nine. There’s some discussion as to which series came first, as DS9 aired a full year before Babylon 5, but B5 was first to production. In recent years, series creator Straczynski has been heavily involved with shows like Sense8 and plenty of high-profile comic books.

This article originally appeared on Engadget at

German artist refuses award after his AI image wins prestigious photography prize

There's some controversy in the photography world as an AI-generated image won a major prize at a prestigious competition, PetaPixel has reported. An piece called The Electrician by Boris Eldagsen took first prize in the Creative category at the World Photography Organization’s Sony World Photography Awards — despite not being taken by a camera. Eldagsen subsequently refused the award, saying "AI is not photography. I applied... to find out if the competitions are prepared for AI images to enter. They are not."

Eldagsen's image is part of a series called PSEUDOMNESIA: Fake Memories, designed to evoke a photographic style of the 1940s. However, they are in reality "fake memories of a past, that never existed, that no one photographed. These images were imagined by language and re-edited more between 20 to 40 times through AI image generators, combining ‘inpainting’, ‘outpainting’, and ‘prompt whispering’ techniques."

In a blog, Eldagsen explained that he used his experience as a photographer to create the prize-winning image, acting as a director of the process with the AI generators as "co-creators." Although the work is inspired by photography, he said that the point of the submission is that it is not photography. "Participating in open calls, I want to speed up the process of the Award organizers to become aware of this difference and create separate competitions for AI-generated images," he said.

Eldagsen subsequently declined the prize. “Thank you for selecting my image and making this a historic moment, as it is the first AI-generated image to win in a prestigious international photography competition,” he wrote. “How many of you knew or suspected that it was AI generated? Something about this doesn’t feel right, does it? AI images and photography should not compete with each other in an award like this. They are different entities. AI is not photography. Therefore I will not accept the award.”

Shortly thereafter, the photo was stripped from the show and competition website and organizers have yet to comment on the matter. Edalgsen actually traveled to London to attend the ceremony and even got up on stage (uninvited) to read a statement in person. 

It's not clear if the organizers knew the work was AI-generated or not (Eldagsen said he told them it was). In any case, rather than shrinking from the situation, they should be embracing it. AI-generated art has entered the culture in a huge way over the past year, with AI winning both photo and art competitions over the past few months. Eldagsen's piece is bound to create conversations about how to handle it, particularly when it encroaches into traditional mediums. 

This article originally appeared on Engadget at

Netflix's 'Dog and Boy' anime causes outrage for incorporating AI-generated art

In 2016, Studio Ghibli co-founder and director Hayao Miyazaki, responsible for beloved anime classics like Princess Mononoke and Kiki’s Delivery Service, made headlines around the world for his reaction to an AI animation program. “I would never wish to incorporate this technology into my work at all,” Miyazaki told the software engineers who came to show their creation to him. “I strongly feel that this is an insult to life itself.” A half-decade later, artificial intelligence and the potential role it could play in anime productions is once again in the spotlight.

This week, Netflix shared Dog and Boy, an animated short the streaming giant described as an “experimental effort” to address the anime industry’s ongoing labor shortage. “We used image generation technology for the background images of all three-minute video cuts,” said Netflix Japan of the project on Twitter, according to a machine translation. The short is touching but was immediately controversial. As Motherboard points out, many Twitter users accused Netflix of using AI to avoid paying human artists.

Netflix アニメ・クリエイターズ・ベース×技術開発のrinna株式会社×WIT STUDIOによる共同プロジェクトアニメ『犬と少年』のショートムービー。


— Netflix Japan | ネットフリックス (@NetflixJP) January 31, 2023

Others took issue with how Netflix and Wit Studio, the company that produced the short, credited those who worked on Dog and Boy. As you can see at the end of the video, human animators were not only involved in the creation of the short’s backgrounds, but they also revised the AI’s work. However, the background designer is listed as “AI (+Human).” The credits go on to list Rinna Inc, an AI artwork company, and a handful of AI researchers.

Many artists worry about the potential for AI to devalue their work, but that concern is particularly acute among anime creators. The labor shortages Netflix points to are the result of unsustainable labor practices that see the majority of Japan’s animation studios depend on essentially unpaid freelancers to complete much of the work that makes anime possible.

According to data from the Japanese Animation Creators Association published in 2018, in-between animators, the workers who draw the frames that make a scene look fluid, earn about ¥200 (or less than $2) per drawing. With many frames taking more than an hour to produce, the average in-between animator can expect to make about ¥1.1 million (or $10,000) per year. For context, in 2019, Japan’s poverty line was at ¥2.2 million.

Flickr adds a virtual photography category as more games embrace photo modes

Flickr is adding a new virtual photography category to help users find and categorize images they capture in their favorite video games. Previously, the platform only offered three content categories: photos, illustration and art, and screenshots. The company notes the third and final one didn’t quite meet the needs of one of its fastest-growing communities, which is why it’s making the change.

“By putting your work into one of these categories, you can use filters to limit your search results by interest,” Flickr explains in a blog post spotted by PetaPixel. “For instance, virtual photographers will be able to filter by ‘virtual photography’ while conducting site-wide searches if they only want to see that kind of work, while avoiding real-world photography or other art and illustration.”

The addition is an acknowledgment of just how popular virtual photography has become. We’re at the point where most games either ship with a photo mode at launch or the feature is added after release. Many developers have also started to frequently share the best captures from their communities. For instance, Hideo Kojima retweets Death Stranding photo mode images almost every week, as do studios like CD Projekt Red and Guerrilla Games.


— あ〜!タピオカ〜おぅ(笑)ピスタチオやけどなっ😁🤘 (@s_731731) September 12, 2022

Netflix's Love, Death and Robots finds the 'nerd joy' of adult animation

What happens when animation geeks get the greenlight to produce whatever they want? You get Netflix's Love, Death and Robots, an anthology series that's meant to remind viewers that cartoons aren't just for kids. You'd think that would be a foregone conclusion in 2022, decades after anime has become mainstream, Adult Swim's irreverent comedies took over dorm rooms, and just about network/streaming platform has their own "edgy" animated series (Arcane and Big Mouth on Netflix, Invincible on Amazon Prime).

Still, it's all too common to see the medium being diminished. At the Oscars this year, the best animated feature award was introduced as something entirely meant for kids, prompting the filmmakers Phil Lord and Christopher Miller (The Lego Movie, Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse), to demand that Hollywood elevate the genre instead. Even Pixar's library of smart and compelling films still aren't seen as "adult" stories.

Love, Death and Robots, which just released its third season on Netflix, feels like a crash course in the unlimited storytelling potential of animation. It bounces from a cute entry about robots exploring the remnants of human civilization (the series' first sequel, 3 Robots: Exit Strategies, written by sci-fi author John Scalzi), to a near-silent, visually lush game of cat and mouse between a deaf soldier and a mythical siren (Jibaro), to a harrowing tale of whalers being boarded by a giant man-eating crab (Bad Traveling, the first animated project directed by series co-creator David Fincher).

Jennifer Yuh Nelson, supervising director for Love, Death and Robots, tells Engadget that the animation industry has certainly made progress when it comes to telling more mature stories. "Everyone that works in animation has been talking about trying to get more adult things done because it's [about] the freedom of exploring the whole spectrum of storytelling," she said. "You're not trying to do things for a certain age group."


But, she says, animators were also told the audience for mature projects wasn't necessarily there. "I think it takes a show like [this] to prove that it can [work], and that makes the whole business and the whole company town basically look around and say, 'Oh, this is a viable thing that people actually want to see.’"

Series co-creator Tim Miller (Deadpool, Terminator: Dark Fate) also points to the power of video games, which has been telling mature narratives with interactive animation for decades. That's another industry that was initially seen as toys for kids, but has matured significantly with rich storytelling from indie projects, like Kentucky Route Zero, to big-budget blockbusters like The Last of Us. Games and animation are practically evolving together, with audiences demanding more complex ideas and creators who were raised on earlier generations of those mediums. You don't get to the excellent Disney+ remake of DuckTales, or Sony's recent God of War, without a fondness for the simple joys of the originals.

"Animation has grown so much and reflects a taste of the people making it and the people that are watching it," Nelson says. "It's a generational shift. People demand a certain level of complexity in their story, and so it's not princess movies anymore."

With every season of Love, Death and Robots, Nelson says that she and Miller are focused on finding stories that evoke a sense of "nerd joy." There's no overarching theme, instead they look out for projects with scope, emotion and a potential to be visually interesting. And while none of the shorts have been turned into standalone series or films yet, Nelson notes that's a possibility, especially since some authors have explored other ideas within those worlds. (I'd certainly love to see those three quirky robots poking fun at humanity for an entire season.)

The series also serves as a showcase for a variety of animation techniques. Some shorts show off meticulously crafted CG, while others like Bad Traveling use motion capturing to preserve the intricacies of an actor's movement or face. Jerome Chen, the director of military horror short In Vaulted Halls Entombed, relied on Unreal, which makes his piece seem like a cut-scene from a game I desperately want to play. And there's still plenty of love for more traditional 2D techniques, like the wonderfully bloody Kill Team Kill (directed by Nelson, a far cry from her playful Kung Fu Panda sequels).


"The tech doesn't replace the art, but the experimentation allows these studios to find ways of doing things better," Nelson said. "[The show gives] freedom for all these different studios to try their own language."

Miller has a slightly different view, saying on some level it's like "tech is the art and they somehow mixed together." While he agrees with Nelson, who was quick to point out "artists can make art with a stick," Miller said you'll still need a certain level of sophisticated technology to create photorealistic stories.

The great thing about an anthology series like Love Death and Robots? Both of those philosophies can co-exist while equally demonstrating the power of animation.