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Mixels, coming to a TV/computer/phone/tablet/shop near you

In a bid to become the next small children's must-have character, Cartoon Network and Lego have combined to launch Mixels, which will be coming to the UK this February in a global, multiplatform launch.

The Mixels brand will be rolled out in multiple territories. It goes on screen in the form of animated shorts in the UK from mid February, preceded by a website launch. Then comes the launch of  Mixels collectible building sets and the Calling All Mixels app.

Cartoon Network has refined the launch based on its knowledge that kids media consumption changes every day and is throwing everything at it.

Mixels  are colourful creatures who can mix and combine with each other. They live in tribes of three, with each tribe based around a unique element. The Infernites are fiery and short tempered, but handy for a barbeque. The Cragsters are the industrious mining tribe and the Electroids are a quirky bunch with enough nervous energy to light up the whole world. Nixels, annoying and destructive little creatures, wreak havoc over the Mixel land trying to tear down and break apart the tribes.

The animated shorts, consisting of 1-2 minute segments, feature any number of characters on a series of adventures where they will be able to 'mix' (two characters combine); 'max' (all three members of the tribe combine) or 'murp' (when the combination doesn’t quite fit). 

Created for Cartoon Network by John Fang (Generator Rex, Ben 10) and Dave Smith (Powerpuff Girls), Mixels is executive produced by Jennifer Pelphrey, Tramm Wigzell, Brian Miller and Rob Sorcher and is produced at Cartoon Network Studios.

The shorts and more about the characters and setting of the Mixels world will appear on the website. Children will be able to mix Mixels to discover combinations and play mini-games featuring characters from different tribes. As new waves of Mixels are introduced, new tribes and mini-games will be added to the site.

The Calling All Mixels app has been developed by Hibernum Creations and published by Cartoon Network Games.
Lego Mixels is a new series of buildable toys that create collectible characters which will be released throughout the year in tribes such as Frosticons, Infernites, Stretchers, Cragsters, Electroids and Fang Gang. Kids will be able to mix and combine the Lego Mixels.


Posted 31 January 2014 by Pippa Considine

TV ratings: the winners and losers in 2014 so far

So far in 2014, the BBC has been hitting ratings highs with drama, while Channel 4 has had mixed fortunes and Love Productions is in the thick of it on both channels.

Call the Midwife
returned to BBC one on Sunday evening with its third series and its biggest audience yet, clocking an average of 9.6 million during its hour long slot. It was followed by the first episode of new BBC drama The Musketeers, which also did well, with around seven and a half million viewers, while on ITV, the new series of Mr Selfridge attracted closer to five million.

The Great Sport Relief Bake Off, airing across last week, trounced the BBC's new NHU extravaganza Hidden Kingdoms, which debuted on Thursday at 8pm and coincided with the Bake Off finale. The Bake Off kicked off on Monday, pulling in 3.7 million for BBC Two  and going up against another Love Productions success story on Channel 4, Benefits Street.

Benefits Street has been the biggest TV story this month on many levels, including ratings. Channel 4's biggest ratings winner in over a year, it beat the other channels in the 9pm slot on Monday and attracted over five million viewers both this week and last week and almost as many on its first week on air. It outperformed drama on BBC One, New Tricks, and on ITV, The Bletchley Circle.

With two more weeks to go and controversy over the programme still raging, Benefits Street will hope to keep those numbers until the end of its five week run.

Channel 4 has had less success with its highly anticipated cook off, The Taste, with Nigella Lawson on a Tuesday at 9pm. The series, made through CPL, started out with 1.8 million viewers, but fell to one million viewers in the second week. It was up against Death In Paradise on BBC One which pulled in seven million.

It's not just BBC drama that's been going strong this month, starting with Sherlock getting close to 10 million, there's also been a boost to key entertainment show The Voice, now in its third series. In the first week, new judge Kylie Minogue appeared to have buoyed numbers by an extra two million, with 8.4 million watching the first Saturday night episode of the current run and a 34 per cent audience share, compared with just over six million for the first episode of the last run in 2013. This week the share was still up, at 32 per cent.

Posted 22 January 2014 by Pippa Considine

BFI launches year of Chinese cinema

Following the UK trade delegation to China last December, during which a landmark film co-production treaty was agreed, the BFI has declared a year of business, trade, creative and cultural collaborations between the UK and China.

BFI specific activity, entitled Electric Shadows (the Chinese term for movies or dian ying), will include BFI exhibition, archive, digital, education, theatrical and DVD distribution and publishing initiatives, with the aim of opening up previously hard to see Chinese cinema to UK audiences and making UK film accessible to what will soon become the world’s biggest box office nation.

The BFI is working alongside partners throughout the year, including the British Council, DCMS, UKTI and the GREAT Britain Campaign.

Electric Shadows
starts with a visit in February from Chinese film director Feng Xiaogang, hosted by the BFI. To complement Spectacular China, a season of his films throughout the month, a special Gala screening of Back to 1942, China’s official entry for this year’s Academy Awards, and an on-stage career interview with Feng will be held at BFI Southbank on 21st February.

Alongside a UK presence at FILMART, Hong Kong’s International Film & TV Market in March, the BFI and the British Council will work with the Beijing International Film Festival in April to lead a trade delegation and present British film at the festival.

From June until October the BFI will continue its Electric Shadows programme by staging an exploration of Chinese cinema in the UK, A Century of Chinese Cinema.

A programme of contemporary and historic British film from the BFI and partners, including TIFF and the British Council, will be shown in Beijing in the Autumn alongside a newly restored and rare collection of early non-fiction Chinese films (1901-1930’s) from the BFI National Archive.

Amanda Nevill, BFI ceo said, "China is becoming one of the most important cultural and economic partners for film and is a key territory in the BFI’s international strategy for film. With this celebratory year, the BFI puts words into action by presenting a programme packed with dynamic economic, creative and cultural partnerships to foster this hugely important territory and the largest and fastest growing film audience in the world."

Posted 21 January 2014 by Pippa Considine

Love strikes TV gold: controversy, ratings and profit

Love Productions has struck gold. Channel 4's highest rated programme for over a year, Benefits Street also has the nation up in arms.

Meanwhile, the production company, also behind The Great Bake Off, has revealed an enviable turnover for an independent producer of factual shows.

Benefits Street saw just over 5 million viewers watching last night's show; it's not often that C4 is the highest rating channel at 9pm.

This is a jump from last week's ratings, which topped four million for the opening episode of the five-part series. Its consolidated ratings were closer to seven million.

The programme, which follows the lives of residents of Birmingham's James Turner Street, is turning out to be Channel 4's highest rating programme for over a year.

It has also proved hugely controversial, sparking the equivalent of a twitter riot, protests across the media and in three D, with much banner waving outside Love Production's London offices earlier this week.

In an interview in The Guardian at the weekend, Love Productions creative director Richard McKerrow asked viewers to judge the series as a whole, across the five episodes, each of which tackles a different aspect of lives in the street. 

McKerrow also suggested that there was no system of aftercare for the subjects of reality TV shows. Benefits Street has not only kicked up a media storm, but led to several residents being investigated for fraud.

Meanwhile, Love Productions is reporting a turnover of £13m, with profits at £1.4m, up 25 per cent on the previous year. Income is rising as viewers of The Great British Bake Off across the world are inspired to make cupcakes and bake fruit bread.

It is surely a factual TV producer's dream: creating huge talking point TV, as well as entertaining audiences round the world and making some money.

Can't resist it.....What's not to Love?

Posted 14 January 2014 by Pippa Considine

Gravity: behind the scenes film

Warner Bros has released a new featurette that includes behind-the-scenes footage of the making of Gravity, featuring interviews with director/co-writer/co-film editor Alfonso Cuaron, actors Sandra Bullock and George Clooney, co-writer Jonas Cuaron, producer David Heyman, production designer Andy Nicholson, co-film editor Mark Sanger, visual effects supervisor Tim Webber, composer Steven Price and supervising sound editor Glenn Freemantle.

Posted 07 January 2014 by Pippa Considine

Death Comes to Pemberley: post by LipSync

LipSync Post provided grading, online editing, sound, vfx and titles for BBC One’s three-part drama Death Comes To Pemberley, based on PD James’ sequel to the Jane Austen classic Pride and Prejudice.

The drama, produced by Origin Pictures for BBC One, is scheduled for broadcast on 26th, 27th and 28th December.
The photography had to rely on a lot of natural light due to rigging restrictions in period locations and stately homes. Selective grading by senior colourist Stuart Fyvie helped to enhance or shade parts of the image that would ordinarily have been lit on set. The drama also features flashbacks of a previous incident, remembered from several characters’ points of view. Fyvie added subtle nuances such as glows, highlights and desaturations that would help the audience know where they were in the story.
For the sound mix, re-recording mixer Rob Hughes aimed to bring the feel of a working home to Pemberley, with details such as distantly heard servants and passing conversations. A lot of the foley tracks were recorded on location, augmented by recordings shot in a 15th century music shop in Surrey that had just the right amount of creak to the floor. For the flashback narrative, the sound mix sought to complement Fyvie’s grade with an ethereal treatment.
The vfx work also needed to maintain the reality of a period production. Key shots included the compositing of a period cottage into an ideal riverside location, complete with chimney and smoke, and bringing exterior shots of Pemberley to life by adding the glow from a single light source, shining through windows at various angles.
LipSync has previously worked with Origin Pictures on productions including The Crimson Petal and the White, The Awakening, Hidden and The First Grader. For Death Comes to Pemberley David Thompson was the producer.

Posted 20 December 2013 by Pippa Considine

Ed Morris directs Tony Kaye on Tony Kaye

This is not an interview with Tony Kaye

This is what happens when you go to interview an icon of the advertising industry and, by the end of the interview, he's pondering the possibility of turning the experience into a doc feature and entering it for an Oscar.

This week, a few of us got a sneak preview of work in progress, directed for The Creative Circle by ad creative-turned-director Ed Morris, who apologised in advance for the film's unfinished state. Being more modest than Kaye, he didn't declare that he was going along with the Oscar idea, but it seems that he and his team from Rattling Stuff Productions are pretty chuffed with what they've got so far.

In January last year, Morris and a small crew flew to Kaye's glamorous home in LA and spent a day following Kaye up and down the stairs, into art and music rooms and across the garden. The living room is huge, dotted with to-die-for 'seventies chairs and one wall is floor to ceiling glass doors looking out across the Hollywood Hills. Every available surface is stacked with canvases of Kaye's wild artwork and there seems to be paint everywhere. Though mysteriously the white leather upholstery of the chairs is pristine.

"All I'm interested in now is painting and trying to find my way through, like Jackson Pollock," says Kaye.

Half the canvases have graffiti scrawl across them and Kaye is full of philosophical thoughts, many of them about madness. But while having a reputation for his diva behaviour and maverick, creative intransigence, there is a sane man close to the surface. Back in his advertising director heyday, he was reportedly commanding £10,000 a day in fees and has clearly created a nice nest for himself in his Californian home.

More recently his directorial career has moved on to actors and the chemistry of getting great performances. "Good actors like to work with eccentric people who don't know what they're doing and create chaos with every footstep and I act that role very well," he says.

This unfinished film nicely reflects Kaye’s style. Intercut with footage of Kaye scrawling headlines in oozing pink and black paint on a white board, the not-yet-finished film, shot on 5D, begins with quite a lot of Kaye’s nose in a stark, honest close-up portrait and frequently goes out of focus, especially when Kaye gets his hands on the camera.

Having become caught up in the idea of the interview becoming more than just that, Kaye came along to watch the current cut in a Soho edit suite and footage of Kaye watching Kaye is also cut into the unfinished edit.

We were told by Ed Morris that the film won’t be going on the web. Not now that is. To be continued…

“I suppose it is much more comfortable to be mad and know it, than to be sane and have one's doubts. “ ~G.B. Burgin

Posted 13 December 2013 by Pippa Considine

BBC Worldwide steps up original commissioning

BBC Worldwide Channels is stepping up its commissioning, after the recent announcement of three new channels.

Vice president of commissioning Tracy Forsyth has a clear brief for the sort of new programming she’s looking for on new natural history channel BBC Earth and a male-skewing channel which is yet to be named.

BBC Worldwide Channels has emerged in the last couple of years as a serious commissioner of factual entertainment content. Mox, Outline, 360, Wildfire and Furneaux and Edgar Productions are all suppliers. With the launch of three new channels, the demand for programming has moved on again.

Now with a content investment budget of £200m annually, which includes spend on original commissions, BBC Worldwide is increasing its interest in co-productions of major factual shows and drama and seeking more factual entertainment to feed the expanded bandwidth (approximately 80 hours).

BBC Worldwide’s male-skewed channel is looking for primetime programmes, from dude food to action adventure series. The channel is dubbed “nirvana for blokes with brains.” In particular, Forsyth is after very British on-screen talent, “humorous mavericks who are smart with a heart.”
The sort of programming she wants for BBC Earth is described as “natural history’s younger brother or cooler cousin.” Adventure, survival, popular science and extreme natural phenomenon all fit into the brief.
The BBC Worldwide Channels commissioning team has taken on two executives now that the task has got bigger. Tracy Forsyth and her team - Julie Swanston and Lucy Pilkington - are looking to order 100 hours of programming content to play out on the BBC’s branded channels by 2014.
Since Forsyth set out her commissioning strategy in 2012, the emphasis has been on finding primetime formats which are returnable and can work in high volume. The demand echoes that of US broadcasters and, as well as fully funded projects and UK co-productions, she’s up for partnering on projects with US broadcasters.
One project is Wild Things, Season Two with Dominic Monaghan, a co-production with BBC America, made by Canada’s Cream Productions and Wildfire Television in the UK. Working with BBC America is a natural fit, but that doesn’t mean it’s the only potential partner.
BBC Worldwide has a total of 44 channels in over 100 countries and reaches 406 million households. It’s in the same game as Discovery Networks International, which reaches over 1.6 billion in 224 countries and territories, with 46 channels, and National Geographic Channels, which has six brands, available in more than 440 million homes in 171 countries.
BBC Worldwide Channels is asking for shows “with universal story-telling appeal and multi-platform potential”; there’s room for productions with international appeal, as well as some made for the local market.

Best in Town, from Mox Productions, sets three local business owners from the same area against each other in a battle to see who is the best operator in town. Factomania from 360 Productions explains factual mysteries, such why cats have nine lives and what is the loudest thing in the ocean. While Million Dollar Intern, made by Outline, features whizz kids from around the world going to work for a week at the bottom rung of a range of businesses which are failing to reach their potential in an effort to re-energise them.

There have also been a number of foodie shows. BBC Bristol is behind Rachel Khoo’s Kitchen Notebook: London which airs across the BBC’s international channels early next year and Furneaux and Edgar Productions produced Bill’s Kitchen: Notting Hill. BBC Worldwide Channels is also investing in the BBC’s Food and Drink, alongside Stargazing and Dara O’Brian’s Science Club.

Posted 12 December 2013 by Pippa Considine
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