Wednesday, 30 April 2014

Ben & Izzy

 Ben and Izzy is an educational CGI series made by the Jordanian animation studio Rubicon. The official website is no longer online, but a few bits and pieces of the series can be found on YouTube.

Animation Magazine has a short summary of the series' premise:

"The action-adventure comedy series follows the adventures of two eleven-year-old boys, Ben, an American, and Izzy, a Jordanian, who embark on historical quests to ancient times and places in the Middle East and Africa region. The property has been popular on Cartoon Network Arabia, and in its featured window on Emirates and Qatar Airlines flights."

Tuesday, 29 April 2014

Sketch in Motion


Sketch in Motion is a Jordan-based studio that was founded in 2007 by Zaidoun Karadsheh and Tamer Qarrain.

From the studio's official website:

Sketch in Motion is dedicated to delivering meaningful messages with humor and laughter.  We recognize the ability to cross divides through laughter, utilizing its genuine universal experience. Sketch in Motion aspires to reach a wide audience range from adults, teenagers, and friends to couples and children of all ages through animation and cartooning products with witty content and stylish artwork, combined with meaningful messages. 
Sketch in Motion, produces one of the best animation show in the Arab World, “Al-Masageel”, aired 2 seasons in Ramadan 2011 and 2012, season 3 aired in Ramadan 2013, with creative animation, variety of funny characters and surprising plots.

As well as Al-Masageel, which is a sitcom about a traditional Bedouin Saudi tribe, the studio's projects include Ben7bek ya Baladna, a series of short clips intended for Palestinian audiences; Yahoo! Safety Oasis, a series of online games teaching children about safety on the Internet; and Iraq, a public information film about terrorism.

Monday, 28 April 2014

Abdollah Alimorad's Let's Reconcile

Let's Reconcile is a 13-episode stop-motion series made by the Iranian animator Abdollah Alimorad for the Ministry of Culture-affiliated Hozeh Honari. Mehr News has a short article on it with a few screencaps, along with the creator's description of the series:

"The animation relates the story of two neighbors’ fights and reconciliations. When the issue of money is at stake, they would quarrel; but when a common enemy appears, they unite and drop their hostilities.

The sound arranging of the animation has just been completed. The animation has used puppets made for stop-motion, where the movements are recorded frame-by-frame. The plastic material has been used to make puppets. It has some advantages over other materials. Working with plastic material is easy, puppets are highly malleable, and when the situation demands, they would be changed easily, and even they could be totally deformed."

Alimorad's career goes back at least as far as 1987 - I hope to write more about him in the future.

Thursday, 24 April 2014

Naif Al Mutawa's The 99

Created by Kuwait's Dr. Naif Al Mutawa, The 99 is a comic book and animated series about a team of Islamic superheroes. As far as I can tell the series was never broadcast in the US or UK, but an English language version does exist and has been shown certain countries, including Ireland and Australia. It is also viewable online.

The series has managed to attract a good deal of controversey in certain quarters. Pundit Pamela Gellar claimed that it was part of an "ongoing onslaught of cultural jihad", while the Saudi Grand Mufti issued a fatwa against it. On the other hand, it won the endorsement of Barack Obama. See the official website here.

Monday, 21 April 2014

Crazy Piranha Entertainment

Founded by Jordan-based animator Amer Koch in 2005, Crazy Piranha Entertainment fits squarely within the Spike & Mike Sick and Twisted tradition - perhaps with a bit of Jamie Helwett on the side.

One of the company's more recent works is The Chainsaw Incident, a 2D-animated video game:

Crazy Piranha appears to be best-known for its games, but it has also worked on animated shorts and commercials. See its animation portfolio here.

Saturday, 29 March 2014

Amir M. Dehestani's The Messengers

The Messengers (Daastaan e Payaambaraan - literally, "The Story of Prophets") is an Iranian animated feature that was completed in 2000 but never made it to cinemas. It consists of three segments, each following a different prophet of Islam: Noah, Hud and Saleh.

The  Noah sequence and the trailer can be viewed online. Director Amir M. Dehestani details some of the background in the video description:
The Messengers is the first iranian digital feature animated movie, it was produced in the year 2000 by hand drawn animation aided by old DOS based 2D & 3D animation softwares(Autodesk animator pro & 3D studio) the production studio for the film is Hoor animation in tehran and it was directed by "Amir M.Dehestani" Due to the low budget ,very few proper talent resources and low technology problems it had a
very difficult production progress but unfortunately it wasn't released on the big screen and only had few TV broadcasts.The Messengers (by the persian name : "DAASTAAN E PAYAAMBARAAN"- The story of prophets )in three episodes tells three stories from holy Koran.The story of Noah, Hood and saleh.
It really was a pioneering work for it's time!

Friday, 28 March 2014

Malik Nejer: Saudi Arabia's most popular animator?

 One of Malik Nejer's web cartoons, مسامير - كلمة أخيرة (Nails - A Final Word, according to Google Translate)

According to this New York Times article, the fourth most-subscribed YouTube channel in Saudi Arabia (at the time the article was written, in 2011) belongs to an animator: Malik Nejer. He is noted for his satirical cartoons:
A natural disaster two years ago gave Mr. Nejer his break in the animation business. The 2009 flood that swept Jidda, killing more than 100 people, prompted him to make a short, satirical animated clip, “The Real Reason Behind the Jidda Disaster.” The sketch, featuring a government official who falls in love with, and marries, his chair, went viral.
The article goes on to discuss the specific cultural backdrop to Nejer's work:
Mr. Nejer’s success is helped by Saudi Arabia’s brand of Islam, which bans cinemas, segregates the sexes and imposes censorship on the news media.
“YouTube is becoming more successful in Saudi Arabia, and people are creating more genuine content because we have nothing else to do,” he said. “This kind of helped create traffic.”
You can see his YouTube channel here. Nejer is also active on Vimeo.