Animation and Digital Production in Los Angeles - videos, games, apps, social media content & digital media

Check out the first installment of, “The Children of the Skies” sci-fi novel series. A special group of humans are given abilities by an unknown energy wave that hits the planet. What will these humans do with their new abilities? Will they push mankind into a new world of peace or will the usher in the apocalypse?

Animax worked with Noraj Picture Company to put together this sneak peak of the new Science Fiction Graphic novel, Children of the Skies.

A behind the scenes look with J. Everett Bettis, author of Children of the Skies, as he visits Animax Entertainment.

Posted by: In: Insights 29 May 2014 Comments: 0

The Digital Kids Summit Advisory Board was announced and Animax is on it.  The conference is set for October in San Francisco. See you there.

Posted by: In: Night Light Interactive 29 May 2014 Comments: 0

whispering-willows-poster

Whispering Willows, a horror puzzle game from Night Light Interactive that features beautiful 2D visuals and a haunting, well-spun narrative, has launched on OUYA. The game will be available on Steam on June 17. Watch the launch trailer for Whispering Willows HERE.

In Whispering Willows, players take on the role of Elena, a young girl with the extraordinary power to project her spirit outside of her body, as she explores the shadowy, atmospheric world of the Willows Estate. As a spirit unbound by physical form, Elena can traverse otherwise-unsurmountable obstacles and interact with other ghosts to piece together the dark history of the house – but she will have to use both her spectral and physical forms in order to solve puzzles to escape the rooms, navigate through the sinister estate, and find her lost father.

The game has already won a number of honors for its atmosphere and story, including winning the Seattle Indie Gaming Competition in 2014 and the Cerebral Indie Developer Grant in 2013.Whispering Willows also placed as a finalist in the Captivate Conference Game Design Competition, and won “Most Immersive” at the 2013 OUYA CREATE Game Jam.

Animax developed the game using Unity3D.

Download PC/Mac/Linux version here
Download OUYA version here

Posted by: In: Discovery, Discovery Kids 20 May 2014 Comments: 0

It’s official. The Discovery Kids site launch was covered by KidScreen today.

Posted by: In: Insights 15 May 2014 Comments: 0

Last week I spoke at The Digital Hollywood Content Summit in Santa Monica. The summit featured creative and crowdfunding talks from top producers around the world. I was on the panel “Nurturing the Creative Spark: The Producer’s Toolkit,” along with Jim Redner who led the Oculus Rift Kickstarter campaign; Kristen Nedopak, founder of The Geekie Awards; and moderator Chris Plaff, a leading new media and technology producer. The panelists talked about their experiences with crowdfunding, providing tips to the audience, as well as their predictions for where crowdfunding should go next. The key takeaways from the panel:

1. Start planning early- It was unanimously decided that one of the best practices for crowdfunding is to start planning early. This means contacting press and building relationships, establishing a community, creating content, and defining your scope, all before you even launch your campaign!

2. Crowdfunding can enhance and hinder your ultimate goal- You create an audience that not only is a group to market to, but also a group that actively helps you market. You are creating a community around your product. On the downside there are now hundreds of voices that want to give you input, and it’s difficult to please everyone. If you say you’re going to include a particular feature, people hold you accountable to that. Since it’s common to trim scope in projects, it’s sometimes unavoidable when you have to cut features.

3. Crowdfunding is changing- The types of products and services offered have greatly been changing. The early crowdfunding campaigns were primarily for new and innovative tech ideas. Now it has really expanded to include a multitude of products including video games, movies, and even concepts (Graphing the deliciousness of a chicken burrito!). Going forward it will even be going away from just products to include services as well.

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David Logan, Producer at Animax

Posted by: In: Insights 11 May 2014 Comments: 0

playcon

I spoke at the Toy Industry Association’s PlayCon alongside execs from Activision, Google/YouTube and Funrise Toys about the factors reshaping the industry. The conference is an opportunity for execs from leading toy manufacturers, brick and mortar stores and online toy retailers, to gather and hear insights from within and outside the industry about the shifting dynamics.

The key takeaways from the panel and the event:

1. Flat to declining sales. In the US a variety of factors from the economy to declining birthrates to the rise of digital and interactive gaming are resulting in an across the board decline in sales. It could be argued that these digital related categories should be included in what is considered the toy industry but that may be a means of masking the fundamental shift in the health of the industry. It just means you need to get creative and make some changes now before you get left behind.

2. Do you make toys or magic? Declining sales calls for a reassessment of how toy companies view themselves. Do you see yourselves as being in the play industry, or the physical object manufacturing business? Do you make stuff, and focus on making a better toy product or do you focus on creating magic for your customers? Saatchi & Saatchi says to focus on innovation over new. Activision doesn’t refer to Skylanders internally as a toy or a video game or a digital toy – they refer to what they’re creating as magic. Even if you’re making analog toys, focus on how your teddy bear is creating magic for your customers and help them make more of that. And take a look at the way you measure success — is it just sales or is it time spent with your toys and how you’d actually measure that.

3. Platform toys are doing well. Whether its physical LEGO pieces are largely interchangeable, Rainbow Loom and its bands, Skylanders and their figurines, Sphero and the ability for kids to code new moves, or the iPad and the treasure trove of apps there is an increasing importance to create a platform approach to product development.

4. Align your culture with your customers. Let’s face it, there are some industries that have the cool factor and become more attractive to millennial job seekers than the toy biz. Take a hard look at who you are, how you define yourself and how you inspire and cultivate your team. Sorry – some frank talk: the attendees at the conference were generally older, caucasian men. Look for ways to add diversity to your team and it will likely inspire innovation in your product mix. You can change your DNA to align with what today’s workforce is rewarded by – include social good opportunities for your staff, crowdsource ideas from your staff and your employees, encourage user generated content to be created and maybe even look at crowdfunding opportunities as a means to build marketing support for a totally new product line. Think different.

5. Get mobile. It was said multiple times during PlayCon – if your site isn’t mobile friendly and if you don’t have hooks into mobile you’re already a few years behind. Catch up!

6. Content marketing matters. YouTube is the second largest search engine behind Google. Amazon highlights product videos and reviews. Social media channels connect you directly to your customer base. But all these opportunities mean that you aren’t just a manufacturer anymore – you are basically an entertainment studio that makes toys too. Make videos – unboxing videos, product reviews, shorts, etc. Inspire your fans to create them for you. Reach out to YouTube stars and emerging stars and give them product to feature in their videos. Become part of the conversation and give others, especially your key influencers, the opportunity to generate content for you. Even if you make analog products, you can find ways to “digify” yourself and create that magic. Rainbow Loom is a sign of the rise of the maker movement but that analog toy is accompanied by a ton of instructional YouTube videos and other digital content that create a digital and social platform beyond the plastic and bands. Kids don’t look at it in silos of play – digital play vs. playing with physical toys – all of it is playtime that can happen concurrent or time-shifted.

7. Partner, partner, partner. It’s nearly impossible to do it all on your own and in some cases it’s not to your benefit. Amazon, YouTube, Google, Tongal – these platforms want to help collaborate with you. Collaboration brings more parties to the mix who can provide you a network effect to your product development and marketing efforts and ultimately grow your sales in ways you couldn’t on your own. If you’re looking for a partner to help you with your digital content production and marketing efforts, Animax is ready to play.

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Michael Bellavia, CEO of Animax

Posted by: In: Discovery, Discovery Kids 08 May 2014 Comments: 0

Animax worked with Discovery Kids to reenvision what it’s digital footprint could look like in a world where kids are using mobile phones and tablets unlike ever before. We created a video centric experience creating a revamped digital network that highlighted kid-friendly content from the vast Discovery portfolio. The content is also searchable by themes – sharks, nature, space, etc. – and aggregates video, apps, games, articles and other content around those themes. Animax designed and engineered the HTML5/CSS3 compliant website which utilizes a highly customized and scalable WordPress setup.  With a responsive design focused frontend, the site was built with the Bootstrap Framework so that it works well on devices of all types and sizes. Content and static assets, such as images, games and files related to the site design, are distributed rapidly with Amazon Cloudfront, which uses regional distribution.  On the backend, Roots.io takes WordPress best practices to the next level, allowing development with next generation tools such as Composer, Grunt and LESS.  A minimal number but efficient set of helper plugins were used to allow administrators to seamlessly manage site content.

Animax worked with Hallmark‘s SpiritClips broadcast VOD TV channel to produce an original animated short film that is a parable all about teamwork and gratitude.  Treasure in the Snow takes place in Antarctica and is about a seismologist who must decide whether to save a penguin or find shelter before a dangerous storm hits.

Posted by: In: Anchorman 2, Paramount 08 May 2014 Comments: 0

The “Scotchy Scotch Toss” mobile game (iOS and Android) lets you play a good ole fashioned game of scotch pong against Ron Burgundy, Will Ferrell’s character in “Anchorman 2“. Animax created all of the original art and animation in the app for Paramount that includes over 300 taunts and phrases from Ron himself. In covering the app and the overall campaign Adweek sayid “Anchorman 2” is “changing the way movies are marketed.”

Animax is partnering with Night Light Interactive to create WHISPERING WILLOWS, a horror puzzle game that features a dark and rich narrative, lush painterly 2D visuals, and haunting melodies that will leave you yearning for more. The original game has been under development for close to a year thanks to a very successful Kickstarter crowdfunding (130% overfunded) and additional seed financing from OUYA, the new game console that can be found at Target and other retailers. Willows will launch on the OUYA console, PC, Linux, and Mac via Steam (as a result of garnering 10,000 pledges). The game, developed in Unity, will later launch on Android and iOS. The emotional story unfolds over a series of chapters, each more intriguing than the last with the gameplay becoming more complex as the player explores deeper into the backstory of the storyworld. In the game you play as Elena, a teenager searching for her missing father, exploring a haunted mansion where he used to work as a groundskeeper. Against challenging odds and working through unconventional puzzles you have to help Elena navigate other-worldly obstacles. The game mechanic has a unique cooperative element where Elena must collaborate with an ethereal version of herself in order to escape the rooms and help Earthbound ghosts find their final peace. Before the game launched it won “Most Immersive Game” in the OUYA CREATE Game Jam and it was a Finalist for both the Grand Prize and the coveted “Pop Your Eyes Out” award as well.  It also won the First Place award in the Seattle Indie Game Competition and was the recipient of an Indie Developer Grant from Bundle in a Box.