Friday, March 19, 2010

How to Draw Anime Eyes - 2


How to Draw Anime EyesIf you ask someone, which is the part in the face that they are attracted to the most, maximum number of people would reply that it’s the eyes. So, when it happens to be the most attractive feature in the face, once needs to draw it with extra care. Learning to draw usually starts with the face yet, it happens to be the most difficult of all. Drawing different types, shapes, expressions of the eyes needs a lot of practice but when it comes to draw the eyes of an anime character, you can do it by practicing a number of times.

Children love to draw anime characters for their rooms and even love to do picture stories with them for their school project. So, if you feel you are at a dead end with drawing anime eyes, then this tutorial is going to give you much help in drawing a pretty attractive pair of eyes. Remember that the eyes are the most critical shape on the face and needs to be drawn with soft hands. First of all you can practice with straight looking simple eyes rather than complicated expressions.

The eyes most commonly have the almond shape. It can vary but most anime characters would have similar eyes. It would change only with gender. While a female anime eye would have more and longer lashes, a male anime character would have less and shorter eye lashes. Even shape wise the female eyes need to be more delicate and sharp than the male anime eyes. First of all, get yourself some drawing materials like pencils, erasers, sharpeners, drawing papers etc. Also if you can get an image of the anime character that you like, you can try making the similar looking eyes. It would be easy for reference and you can practice till you get the perfect shapes.

Steps to draw anime eyes:

  1. How to Draw Anime EyesLook at the image of the eyes you are going to draw. Keep the shape in you mind. Try to learn how the curves are done. Notice the peculiarities and specific features of the anime eye.
  2. Now distinguish the various parts and see which part you can draw properly. Because the shape of the eye is critical than any other part of the face in an anime figure, make sure you choose a simple structure to draw if you are doing it for the first time.
  3. Anime eyes are different from human eyes hence they be bigger for or face or like animal eyes and need not have the perfect shape.
  4. Draw a curvy line upward down to make the upper lid and then join it with the similar line for making the space for lashes. This space between the two lines is very less and is wider towards the end.
  5. Now draw the lower lid and join both ends. The middle section between the upper and lower lid is the widest and narrows down towards both ends.
  6. Now draw the eye lashes with pencil strokes. The upper eyelashes are usually marked upwards while the lower lashes are done with less outward but straight strokes.
  7. Now draw the pupils connecting the upper and lower lid in a circular manner.
  8. Draw the inner circle of the pupil inside the bigger circle and fill it to a darker color than the rest of the eye.

If you want to make different shapes and expressions, you can practice a with simple images and then go about drawing complex anime eyes.

How to Draw Anime Eyes - 1


How to Draw Anime EyesWhat to do, when you plan to draw a cartoon character and you are stuck with the eyes, how do you proceed with your drawing? Let’s discuss how you can draw anime eyes with perfection and ease.

Eyes are the most distinctive features while drawing an anime. As such, eyes are to be delicately drawn keeping in mind its critical shape in the face. Eyes also carry the emotions well and in case of an anime, it is more so.

Eyes in real have a particular shape, that is an almond shape that may vary from person to person but the basic structure remains the same. The eye can be divided in to various parts to make the drawing easier. The eye has an upper lid and a lower lid. There are eye lashes on both the lids. The eye lines define the circular eye pupil that is circular.

Though drawing anime eyes are not that easy, as they can prove tricky and creative at the same time. For drawing anime eyes, you would require to get some sharp pencils, erasers, rulers and color pens and glitters.

Here are a few simple steps that would guide you through your process of drawing anime eyes.

1. You can choose which part you are comfortable in drawing, but it always helps to draw the top lashes first. Remember that theHow to Draw Anime Eyes lashes are a bit curved on the top and they are longer in the middle and become shorter towards the ends. Also remember that the female anime characters have thicker eye lashes while male characters do not have prominent or thicker eyelashes.

2. Not necessarily that the eye has to be completely almond shaped. Note an anime eye carefully, the end towards the nose is little wider than the other side. You can start drawing the upper lid with the lashes slightly bent upwards.

3. You need to draw out the pupils, which is of circular shape. But, note that the upper and lower parts of the circle are hidden under the upper and lower lid. So, the pupil you draw must look fitting well to the upper eye lid. There is a smaller circle inside the pupil that you need to darken with your pencil.

4. The next step is to define the lower eye lid that can be done with a simple line that touches the pupil exactly the same manner, the top eyelid does. For the eye lashes on the lower eye lid, you may or may not put eye lashes as the lower eye lid doesn’t have much eyelashes in real.

5. Finally, if you want to add emotions to the eyes you draw; you can check out a few anime characters and try out by trying to give different shapes to the eye.

Tips: you can ad some glitter to the eye lashes to make it more colorful and try different color strokes on the pupil to give unique identity to anime’s eyes.

Movie review: 'Imax Hubble 3D' reaches for the stars but ultimately fails


Washington Post Staff Writer
Friday, March 19, 2010

The daring mission by astronauts to repair and upgrade the Hubble Space Telescope in May 2009 is the perfect subject for a brilliant, thrilling 3-D Imax movie. Such a movie, alas, has yet to be made.

Instead, NASA, Imax and Warner Bros. have teamed up to produce a visually dazzling, entertaining, but disjointed and underachieving film, "Imax Hubble 3D," now playing at the National Air and Space Museum.

Such a film is probably the closest most of us will ever get to being in space. We see the great observatory floating above a slowly spinning planet, the 3-D footage tempting us to reach out and touch the telescope. The footage from orbit of the Hawaiian islands is worth the trip to the theater.

But director Toni Myers has crammed two different movies into a single 40-minute extravaganza. The first is an astronaut documentary, with candid shots of life in zero-G (nice work rolling that burrito, dude). The second is an astronomy movie, a tour of the cosmos that relies heavily on computer-processed imagery. Each has its charms. Paired, they get in each other's way.

The breathtaking footage in orbit has been married to a script that seems to have been purchased off the shelf at Wal-Mart. No cliche was left behind on this mission. In case we're not sufficiently impressed by the derring-do, we're told what to conclude: "Each one of these men and women is a true hero." Show, don't tell, please.

Worse, the movie somehow manages to be less dramatic than the mission many of us witnessed in real time. (I covered the repair mission for The Post.) Consider the famous incident with the stuck bolt. Astronauts John Grunsfeld and Andrew Feustel tried to remove an old camera and replace it with a new one costing upward of $100 million, but a bolt wouldn't budge. The old camera was stuck. Grunsfeld has said that this was the lowest moment of his life. Feustel had to calculate precisely how much force to put on the bolt without shearing it. He succeeded, finally, and the day was saved. Yes, it's in the movie, but the scene goes by in a flash and the viewer never fully understands why it's a big deal.

Ditto for an incident in which astronaut Mike Massimino has to rip a handle off the spacecraft, risking injury or death if a jagged edge cuts his spacesuit. The rushed pace doesn't let the moment breathe.

The computer-enhanced astronomical shots are cool, and I'm told that Hubble scientists vetted everything, but I kept wondering if the universe had undergone some cosmetic improvements. Is the Orion nebula really that colorful? When we're zooming through the galaxy, shouldn't the stars be more pointlike objects, with more empty space in between? I'm no astronomer, but I thought space had a lot more elbow room.

Sure, it's great to see the Hubble up close, in 3-D, as if you're right there in orbit. But it started to give me a headache. I sat at the end of a row in the Imax theater, in what I'm told is not the ideal place to watch, and was bothered during parts of the movie by poor registration and some ghosting in the imagery. "Blurry" is not an adjective you want applied to a movie whose key selling point is its visuals.

Maybe they can get an astronaut in there to fix that.

** G. At the National Air and Space Museum downtown. Contains nothing objectionable. 40 minutes.

Looking for a good time? New scheduling tool in Calendar


3/18/2010 12:35:00 PM
Scheduling meetings is tough, but rescheduling is even harder. We all know how frustrating it can be to try to find just the right time that accommodates everyone's availability and preferred working hours. Throw in different time zones and conference rooms and it goes from painful to excruciating. We'd rather schedule dental appointments.

On the Google Calendar team, we've noticed that when people talk about scheduling they say things like "I'm trying to find a time" or "let's search for a new date." We wondered what would happen if we treated calendaring more like a search problem. Just as Google search applies ranking algorithms to return the most relevant results from the web, we hoped we could rank meeting times based on criteria important to the person scheduling the meeting.

Today we're launching the result of that experiment, a gadget called Smart Rescheduler, inGoogle Calendar Labs. Once you enable the Lab, you can find a new time for an event simply by clicking on a link. Our schedule search algorithm will return a ranked set of the best candidate dates and times based on the calendars others have shared with you. You can read more about it on the Gmail Blog.

So next time your boss says "We need to reschedule," just smile and say "I'm feeling lucky."

IE 9 Platform Preview has speed, not much else


March 18, 2010, 2:54 PM EDT
By Preston Gralla

The Internet Explorer 9 Platform Preview exhibits to good effect two of what Microsoft says will be the new browser's selling points: speed and HTML 5 support. If the final version is as fast as or faster than the preview, IE will no longer be a laggard in the browser race and will most likely beat out Firefox. HTML 5 support is a nice extra, but it's still too early to tell how important that will be.

At this point, the IE9 Platform Preview is little more than a browser display engine, and it isn't intended for users. Instead, it's Microsoft's attempt to give developers a heads-up about where the browser is headed. There's no address bar, no navigation features or Favorites, no Back or Forward buttons, no multiple tabs, no malware protection or other basic or advanced browser features. To visit a Web site, you have to press Ctrl-O, type in the URL and then press Enter. When you click a hyperlink that would normally open a new window, that page will open in your default browser.

Not surprisingly, the IE9 Platform Preview doesn't replace your existing version of IE. Instead, it runs alongside it. It cannot be set as your default browser. It runs only with Windows Server 2008 R2, Windows Vista Service Pack 2 or Windows 7. To run it on Vista SP2 and Windows Server R2, you'll need the Platform Update. It won't run on Windows XP -- now, or when it finally ships, according to Microsoft.

The need for speed

IE8 and previous versions of IE have been criticized for being far slower than competing browsers such as Firefox and Chrome, and tests have proved that out. The IE9 Platform Preview fixes that problem. In my testing on two PCs -- one with Windows Vista and other with Windows 7 -- I found it far speedier than earlier versions of IE, and faster than Firefox.

I ran the SunSpider JavaScript Benchmark on a Dell Dimension 9200 with an Intel Core 2 Quad CPU and 2GB of RAM. I tested the Internet Explorer 9 Platform Preview, Internet Explorer 8, and the current versions of Firefox (3.6) and Chrome (4.1). IE9 exhibited a dramatic speed improvement; with an average score of 804ms, it performed more than six times faster than IE8 (5078ms) and nosed out Firefox (914ms) but was beaten by Chrome (489ms).

Microsoft says that one way it sped up the browser was by using a separate processor core to compile JavaScript in the background. JavaScript is only one benchmark for speed, of course. The vendor says it has taken steps to speed up the browser in other ways as well, notably by using a PC's graphics processor to accelerate the rendering of text and graphics.

There's no way to adequately test this, so I can't report on it accurately. But on the IE9 Test Drive site, you can find several impressive demonstrations of interactive HTML 5 graphics powered by your graphics processor. I also tested Chrome and Firefox; both were significantly slower than IE9 and did not display the test graphics properly. However, there's no way to know whether the graphics on the page have been specifically tuned for IE9, so it's hard to know how significant the results are.

Adherence to standards

Microsoft is also touting IE9's adherence to HTML 5 standards, including a variety of features such as the ability to embed video and to interactively change and animate the borders of Web pages. To show them off, the company has created a set of Web pages on its IE9 Test Drive site.

The results are fast and impressive, but again, it's hard to know how well the browser will work in the real world, since the pages may have been tuned for it. And because HTML 5 is not in general use, this may not be a big selling point in the short term, although it could be important in the long term.

Currently, IE9 doesn't play HTML 5 videos using the HTML 5

IE9 showed mixed results on the Acid3 test, which tests how well a browser adheres to several sets of Web standards, notably those related to JavaScript and the Document Object Model (DOM). When I ran it, the IE9 preview scored a 55 on the Acid3 test and rendered the page properly except for color. Chrome 4.1 scored a 98 and did not render the page properly; Firefox 3.6 scored a 92 and did render the page properly, although during the course of the test it displayed several error messages.

IE9's Acid3 test score is not impressive, but it's a great leap forward compared to IE8, which on my PC scored only a 20 and, as with IE9, rendered the page properly except for color.

In normal Web browsing, every page I visited displayed properly on IE9, with one very major exception: Gmail. The buttons that normally range across the top of the page instead were stacked on top of one another, leaving a very large empty blue space.

That's all, folks

At this point, the Internet Explorer 9 Platform Preview does little more than display Web pages, so there's no way to tell what the final version of IE9 will look like. However, based on this initial release, it's clear that the browser will be far faster than previous versions of IE and that it will beat or rival Firefox, if not Chrome, in terms of performance.

Only developers or those who simply must get their hands on new software the moment it comes out would need to download the IE9 Platform Preview -- it can be found at Microsoft's Test Drive site. Everyone else will do well to wait until a later version is released. Microsoft says a new version of the Platform Preview will be released approximately every eight weeks, but it has given no date for beta or final releases.

Preston Gralla is a contributing editor for and the author of more than 35 books, including How the Internet Works (Que, 2006).

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Man marries pillow


True love can take many forms. In this case, it has taken the form of a Korean man falling in love with, and eventually marrying, a large pillow with a picture of a woman on it.

Tom Phillips - 9th March, 2010

Lee Jin-gyu fell for his 'dakimakura' - a kind of large, huggable pillow from Japan, often with a picture of a popular anime character printed on the side.

In Lee's case, his beloved pillow has an image of Fate Testarossa, from the 'magical girl' anime series Mahou Shoujo Lyrical Nanoha.

Now the 28-year-old otaku (a Japanese term that roughly translates to somewhere between 'obsessive' and 'nerd') has wed the pillow in a special ceremony, after fitting it out with a wedding dress for the service in front of a local priest. Their nuptials were eagerly chronicled by the local media.

'He is completely obsessed with this pillow and takes it everywhere,' said one friend.

'They go out to the park or the funfair where it will go on all the rides with him. Then when he goes out to eat he takes it with him and it gets its own seat and its own meal,' they added.

The pillow marriage is not the first similarly-themed unusual marriage in recent times - it comes after a Japanese otaku married his virtual girlfriendNene Anegasaki, a character who only exists in the Nintendo DS game Love Plus, last November.

Lee Jin-gyu pillow weddingLee Jin-gyu kisses his new bride, a pillow with a picture of anime character Fate Testarossa on i

Facebook surpasses Google in weekly traffic

If you logged on to Facebook last week to share a photo, brag about your child or disclose what city you were born in — one of the latest tell-all trends to sweep the huge social-networking site — you may have helped push the Palo Alto-based company past a new milestone: Facebook for the first time had more traffic than Google on a weekly basis in the United States.

The margin between the two sites was thin. For the week ending March 13, visits to accounted for 7.07 percent of all Internet traffic in the United States, according to Experian Hitwise, a company that measures online traffic. Visits to search engine Google made up 7.03 percent.

Facebook, which declined to comment on the Hitwise report, added about 100 million users between September and February, to reach a total of more than 400 million active users.

The site has "been on a steady march for a while, on their way to becoming the top site," said Hitwise spokesman Matt Tatham.

Jeremiah Owyang, an analyst at the Altimeter Group in San Mateo and author of the blog Web Strategy, said the shift in traffic is important.

"The key trend to think about here is people are spending more time talking to and interacting with each other. This does impact Google because people may be making decisions by listening and talking to each other rather than using traditional search avenues."

He said rising interest in games such as "FarmVille," which many users play via the Facebook site, also may be contributing to Facebook's traffic increases.

"We should expect this to continue," Owyang said of Facebook's traffic growth.

Facebook also had more U.S. traffic than Google on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day 2009, and on New Year's Day this year, Hitwise said. Google took a back seat to Facebook traffic on some recent weekend days as well, Tatham said, including March 6-7.

Hitwise's measurements do not take into account visits to Google-related sites such as Google Maps and YouTube, Tatham said, but measures visits to the and domains. Google declined to comment on the Hitwise report.

A year ago, for the week ending March 14, 2009, visits to Facebook accounted for 2.48 percent of U.S. online traffic, and visits to Google made up 6.46 percent, according to Hitwise.

Google Pushes TV Initiative


Sony, Intel and Logitech Join Effort to Help Users Navigate Web-Based TV Offerings

Google Inc. has lined up some big partners—including Intel Corp. and Sony Corp.—in the Internet giant's recent quest to move its technology into the living room, people familiar with the situation say.

The joint effort, which is in its preliminary stages, includes software to help users navigate among Web-based offerings on television sets and serve as a platform for other developers to target in creating new programs, these people say. The technology could be included with future TVs, Blu-ray players or set-top boxes, they added.

Logitech International SA, a well-known maker of personal-computer accessories, is also playing a significant role, these people said.

Google is the latest among many entrants in a long-term race to make TVs more interactive and provide users with additional content from the Internet. The dominant Web-search company, which has already moved successfully into software for cellphones, stands to gain additional revenue if it can move its software and services into TVs.

The Wall Street Journal this month reported that Google is testing a new TV-search service withDish Network Corp. that is designed to allow users to find shows on the satellite-TV service as well as video from Web sites such as Google's YouTube. The March 8 article noted that Google has been talking to partners about adapting Android—the operating system it developed for cellphones—for TVs and set-top boxes.

In addition, the company has begun to target the TV market with a nascent ad-brokering business called Google TV, the article said. Some participants in the effort are using that term to refer to the software platform for televisions, though it doesn't appear that the technology has been formally named.

The New York Times reported Wednesday that Sony, Intel and Logitech are collaborating with Google on the TV platform.

Google's partners have their own reasons for collaborating. Sony, which faces tough competition in the TV market, could use some help in differentiating its hardware. The Japanese electronics company has already collaborated with Google in the market for electronic devices for reading books.

"This is an extension of their relationship," said Rick Doherty, an analyst at market-research firm Envisioneering. "Sony is weak in the software area."

Sony is working with Google on a television that would run the Android operating system, people familiar with the matter said.

Intel, known for chips in computers, has been trying for years to get its technology into the living room. It has been pinning its hopes lately on versions of Atom, an inexpensive chip that is used in most low-end laptops called netbooks.

The chip maker has been working with software partners that include Google rival Yahoo Inc., which developed a format for Web-based TV software called widgets. More recently, however, some makers of consumer-electronics devices have tried to emulate Apple Inc.'s approach with its app store, hoping to spur similar rapid development of simple programs for TVs.

A spokesman for Google declined to comment, as did a spokesman for Sony and a spokeswoman for Logitech.

A spokeswoman for Intel declined to comment on any relationship with Google, but she noted that consumer electronics is seen as a "growth strategy" for Intel.

—Yukari Iwatani Kane and Jessica E. Vascellaro contributed to this article.

Write to Don Clark at and Ben Worthen at

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Soldier gets Silver Star, reprimand for same battle


By Mike Mount, CNN Senior Pentagon Producer
March 12, 2010 7:49 p.m. EST

Washington (CNN) -- A U.S. Army officer who was honored for valor after his combat outpost in Afghanistan was attacked has also received a letter of reprimand for failing to secure the base before the attack, according to Army officials. Such a letter normally would prevent career advancement.

U.S. Army Capt. Matthew Myer received the Silver Star for his part in repelling a Taliban attack on his small combat outpost in eastern Afghanistan in July 2008.

The attack, near the village of Wanat, is still the deadliest ground combat of the war involving U.S. troops. A coordinated Taliban attack from the steep hills surrounding the base almost resulted in the outpost being overrun.

According to troops who survived, the Taliban came at the base with about 200 fighters, outnumbering the U.S. forces at the base. In the end nine soldiers were killed and 12 were wounded. About 100 Taliban were killed.

Despite the heavy U.S. death toll, Myer was awarded the Silver Star for calling in aircraft to beat back the fighters, some of whom had breached the base walls, according to U.S. military officials in Afghanistan.

After the attack, the U.S. military scrutinized how enemy forces were allowed to get as close to the base as they did. Officials familiar with the after-action review said Taliban fighters got within grenade-throwing distance of U.S. troops.

Myer even called in close air support to hit enemy targets just 10 meters from his own position, according to officials familiar with the after-action report.

Four-star Gen. Charles C. Campbell was chosen to review the final investigation and make disciplinary decisions. Campbell decided Myer would receive a career-ending letter of reprimand for failing to prepare the base's defenses sufficiently against an enemy attack. Myer was informed this week of his punishment, according to U.S. military officials. CBS News first reported his punishment.

Two of Myer's senior commanders, who were not at the base during the attack, also received similar career-ending letters of reprimand. Officials would not elaborate on the reasons for the reprimands.

Army officials acknowledge the base, built to protect the people in Wanat, was at the bottom of a valley surrounded by high hills, an almost impossible location to defend.

According to one U.S. military official familiar with the general's decision to reprimand Myer, "He saw the evidence and made a decision based on that." However, the same official said, "Unless you've been there, you don't know how hard those places are to defend."

Myer and his two senior officers are allowed to appeal the punishment.

Another U.S. military official familiar with the review said he expects the three officers to meet with Campbell to plead their cases.

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Manga Review: Deadman Wonderland, Alice


Chris Zimmerman
MIAMI (CBS4) Deadman Wonderland - Volume 1

Set in a dystopian future, a massive earthquake has leveled Japan, sinking nearly 70 percent of Tokyo. In its wake, a new prison/tourist attraction was installed known as Deadman Wonderland. Those who are unfortunate enough to be sent there must fight for their lives as well as for the pleasure of the park attendees.

Deadman Wonderland follows the exploits of 14-year-old Ganta Igarashi. His life is turned upside down when a red cloaked figure shows up at his school and systematically slaughters everyone but him. When he comes to, Ganta finds himself being charged for the horrific crime and sentenced to death which set to be carried out at Deadman Wonderland. Once inside, Ganta is subjected to barbaric inmates, malicious administrators, and brutal games of life and death.

When Ganta begins praying for death, a mysterious young albino girl named Shiro arrives to grant it. After second guessing himself, Ganta decides he would much rather live, inspiring Shiro to become an ally of sorts, protecting him from the dangers lurking within the prison walls even if it means putting herself in harm's way.

From the surreal psycho fantasy setting to the Disney inspired character designs, the artwork is outstanding. The characters appearances are cartoony and create a wonderful contrast with the grim and gritty atmosphere. Imagine Hayao Miyazaki directing a film with Zack Snyder.

This is a title aimed at older teens. With the occasional rough language and hints of gore dispersed throughout, Deadman Wonderland doesn't have to try hard to earn its mature rating.

One of the joys that come with reading Deadman Wonderland is its unpredictability. Who was the Red Man that attacked Ganta's school? Why is Shiro fascinated with Ganta? Will Ganta survive Deadman Wonderland? While all of these questions go unanswered, none of them are ignored as several hints are dropped for later on. The author does a brilliant job of juggling the many story points while throwing several curve-balls the reader's way.

Deadman Wonderland is akin to a roller coaster ride, racing through page after page plunging readers right into the action. Despite its morose setting, themes of friendship and Ganta's struggle to overcome adversity make the story all the more captivating. The first volume is layered and filled with enough intrigue that it will sustain reader's interest until the next one drops.

Alice in the Country of Hearts - Volume 2
The mystery of Wonderland is expanded on as Alice continues to explore her new surroundings. This time more attention is paid to the supporting characters, some of which undergo complete flip-flops in terms of personality, some more so than others. After spending more time with the residents of Wonderland, Alice herself begins to notice the subtle shift in personalities. Later she discovers a terrifying secret about Julius, her landlord, that grants her and the reader greater insight into the true workings of Wonderland.

Despite this, Alice displays a greater comfort level than one would expect in her position as she attends tea parties with the Mad Hatter and continually dodges Peter Whites relentless pursuits all the while discovering valuable clues that pertains to Wonderland's origins.

Even though this is based on a game, it never feels as such. The story's progression feels natural and although some of the character's personality shifts appear unnatural, one has to remember this is Wonderland and everything is fair game. Alice continues to be a likeable protagonist among the villainous lot she is stuck with. Even with all the conspiracy and treachery surrounding her, she never gives in to despair or panic.

At least one major mystery introduced in the first volume is expounded on, demonstrating why Wonderland's characters are the way they are. The revelation is both surprising and somewhat terrifying and will almost certainly play a larger part later on down the road.

Alice in the Country of Hearts continues to be one of the most enjoyable new series to hit stateside in quite some time. With substantial revelations, thematic tension, and a fair amount of character building, the series maintains a level of quality that puts it a notch above other adaptations of the fabled children's novel.

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

An Indie Takes on Animation’s Big Boys


Even in a year with a lot of unlikely Oscar nominees, Tomm Moore is a reach. Mr. Moore, the director of the animated film “The Secret of Kells,” grew up and still lives in Kilkenny, Ireland, a one-cathedral town of a few thousand people about an hour and a half south of Dublin and 5,160 miles from Hollywood.

But it’s not just geography that makes Mr. Moore a surprise addition to the Oscar race. It’s also the style and story of his independent film, a hand-drawn labor of love made for 6 million euros (about $8 million), the equivalent of what, in headier days, some studios would spend on a film’s Oscar campaign alone. If, artistically, “The Secret of Kells” is a throwback to the era of animation before computer-generated imagery, its promotion is pure digital age, forgoing the pricey ads and flashy parties that Academy Award campaigns are traditionally built on in favor of cheaper social media and savvy targeted marketing. It was a lark, and it worked.

“We scratched our heads and said, ‘What is the best way to get this film a nomination?’ ” said Eric Beckman, the president of GKIDS, the four-person company that bought the rights to distribute “The Secret of Kells” in the United States just days before the Oscar nomination forms were due. “Do we need to take out big ads in Variety to reach the 100 or so people in this committee? It seemed like a viral word-of-mouth campaign would be more successful.”

Set in a remote abbey in medieval Ireland, “The Secret of Kells” follows the adventures of a boy — a young monk in training — as he works with an illuminator to finish the Book of Kells, the Latin manuscript transcribed by Celtic monks around A.D. 800 and considered an Irish national treasure. Rich with pagan myth and Jungian symbolism, the movie is lavishly illustrated to mimic the perspectiveless style of pre-Renaissance art: it’s not exactly lightweight fare. Except for a weeklong qualifying run in Los Angeles and a few screenings at festivals in New York, “The Secret of Kells” has not played in the United States. It is scheduled to open in New York on Friday, two days before the Oscars, and go into wider release around St. Patrick’s Day. It is Mr. Moore’s first feature.

Yet he now finds himself in competition with the likes of Pixar and Disney, whose “Up” and “The Princess and the Frog” are also Oscar nominees, alongside “Coraline” and “Fantastic Mr. Fox.”

“We’re still pinching ourselves,” Mr. Moore, 33, a self-described cartoon geek with a goatee and rectangular glasses, said in an interview in New York last week. He began working on “The Secret of Kells” while studying animation in college, driven by an interest in history and particularly in the ornate graphic style of the real Book of Kells.

To make the movie, he formed a company with a few college friends. “We wanted to do something in this kind of Gaelic tradition,” he said, “and we knew that a lot of people liked Celtic design, because you see it in people’s tattoos and in Irish pubs — it’s everywhere.” Drawn first by the visuals, he developed the story while researching the Book of Kells, which is housed at Trinity College in Dublin, taking as much from history (down to the character of a mischievous cat) as possible.

Production began in 2005 and eventually included 200 people across five countries; to cut costs, the animation was done in batches in France, Belgium, Brazil and Hungary. His pan-European partners include Didier Brunner and Viviane Vanfleteren, who produced “The Triplets of Belleville” — the sales boost it got from its Oscar nomination in 2004 helped finance “The Secret of Kells” — and Fabrice Ziolkowski, a French writer who helped develop the screenplay.

Distributed by Disney and marketed as a kiddie adventure, the film opened in Ireland on St. Patrick’s Day last year, but was not a runaway success. When its original United States distributor went bust, it was sold to Mr. Beckman of GKIDS, who had been following it in his role as the founder of the New York International Children’s Film Festival. “The Secret of Kells” is GKIDS’ first foray into full-scale distribution, so when the French sales agent, Hengameh Panahi, suggested that they submit it for Oscar consideration, Mr. Beckman readily agreed.

The film arrived with strong buzz from animation fans, earned when it won the top audience prize at the Edinburgh Film Festival in July, the first animated film to do so, and helped by Mr. Moore’s blog,, on which he has chronicled its production since 2005. To capitalize on that, GKIDS set up screenings at animation schools and organized Facebook and Twitter campaigns.

GKIDS was aided by a “superfan,” Jamie Bolio, an animator who had fallen in love with the film at Edinburgh. The company essentially enabled her to be a citizen publicist, allowing her to post on “The Secret of Kells” Facebook page and giving her 200 DVDs to distribute to the Los Angeles cartooning industry.

When it was time for the film’s qualifying theatrical run, GKIDS booked a theater in Burbank near many animation studios. Mr. Moore did one Q&A for a roomful of about 60 people, which included some top designers and executives — and academy voters — in the field. The support for “The Secret of Kells” became clear when it was nominated for an Annie, an industry award, among the few independent films ever to do so.

“We realized there was a sort of self-reflexive story in there about a kid who wanted to be an artist and was trying to preserve something that’s quite difficult in difficult times, so we sort of felt, O.K., that kind of mirrors what we’re trying to do” with the hand-drawn animation, Mr. Moore said.

He said he hoped the attention from the Oscar race would propel the film to greater success at home. “It’s that usual thing in Ireland,” he said, “the Irish people are taking an interest now because everyone else likes it.” As Kilkenny’s Oscar nominee, he is beginning to see some celebrity perks; a local optician sponsored him, he said, by giving him a free pair of glasses. (“I picked out the most expensive ones,” Mr. Moore said proudly. They’re Armani.)

Mr. Moore and Mr. Beckman both said they didn’t believe “The Secret of Kells” had a chance of winning an Oscar. But in their case just being nominated really does pay dividends: in audience awareness, DVD sales and future financing. Mr. Moore added that he hoped he could attract other people to create an indie animation scene in Ireland.

“I have an ambition to keep making movies like this,” he said. “We’re trying to establish a tradition.”

GKIDS/Cartoon Saloon

CDJapan Launches New Online Bookstore


CDJapan is an online shop that offers Japanese entertainment products including CDs, DVDs, Blu-rays, anime characters, and fashion items. This time it launches new online bookstore that offers a wide range of the latest books published in Japan, including magazines, manga comics, Jpop photo albums, anime, and rare books that are obtainable only in Japan. Almost all Japanese books are available, and preordered items will ship as soon as they are published.

(PRWEB) March 2, 2010 -- CDJapan ( is an English online shop located in Tokyo that offers the latest Japanese entertainment products including CDs, DVDs, Blu-rays, anime characters, and fashion items to customers worldwide. The website has recently been upgraded to launch a new bookstore ( and an audio electronics shop as a part of its efforts to broaden the scope of products that it offers.

Since 1998, CDJapan has offered the latest Japanese entertainment product directly from Japan to customers all over the world. Each month, over 900,000 people from more than 120 countries visit the website, and it currently sends about 10,000 orders every month. CDJapan has a large customer base in North America and Europe, and there has recently been a sharp growth with customers from South East Asia (especially Singapore, Indonesia, and Thailand), China, Russia, and South America (especially Brazil, Chile, and Argentina).

The new bookstore offers a wide range of publications available only in Japan including the latest books, photo albums, magazines, manga comics, art books, fashion magazines, lifestyle books, and plenty more. CDJapan does not include any extra charge in the price it offers for the books, and it is the best place to purchase books published in Japan. Usually, orders are delivered within a few days after they are shipped if Express Mail Service is selected.

Orders are packaged well to ensure that they arrive safely, and various shipping methods are available including Express Mail Service, Air Mail, and Economy Air Mail (SAL) to suit various customer preferences. CDJapan also offers convenient payment methods including credit cards, PayPal, Alipay, and more. In addition, CDJapan is currently expanding the types of products it offers, and they welcome requests from customers and they will consider making them available in the future.

It also offers an affiliate program, and it is equipped with an applet that translates the English contents of the website into over 35 languages.

For more information about CDJapan or to view its collection of latest products from Japan, visit (

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Contact Information
Toshiyuki Makiya
Neowing Corporation