Monday, February 18, 2008

Talented Filipino animators go big time

TWO top-notch Filipino animation films will soon make their debut in Philippine cinemas.

Filipino animators, many of whom have been employed by the Disney, Cartoon Network and Warner studios for the last 20 years, are producing the full-length animated films. And both productions commissioned major talents to lend their voices for the lead parts.

"Urduja," produced by Tony Tuviera's APT Entertainment, has a star-studded voice cast. Regine Velasquez stars as Princess Urduja; Cesar Montano as her lover Lim Hang; Johnny Delgado as Wang; Eddie Garcia as Lakanpati; Allan K as Tarsir; and Michael V as Kukut.

Watch the Urduja trailer --

"Dayo," by Cutting Edge Productions Inc., features the voices of child stars Nash Aguas as Bubuy and Katrina "Hopia" Legaspi as Anna Manananggal. Peque Gallaga is the voice behind the character Nano, Michael V is Narsi, Johnny Delgado is Anna's father and Laurice Guillen plays a diwata.

Watch the Dayo trailer -

"These are ambitious projects," said Artemio Abad Jr., "Dayo" supervising producer. "We hope to erase the image of Pinoy animators as mere subcontractors of big animation companies. We want the world to know that we are also capable of producing our own animated content."

"Urduja" tells the story of the legendary warrior princess and ruler of the Kingdom of Tawalisi in Pangasinan from 1350 to 1400. Urduja was famous for leading a group of women warriors, called Kinalakian or Amazons, who were skilled fighters and equestriennes. These women, having developed a high art of warfare, fought alongside male warriors to protect their land from invaders.

"Dayo" follows the adventure of 11-year-old Bubuy as he tries to save his grandparents who have been abducted and brought to Elementalia, a mysterious and magical land that is home to popular creatures of Philippine mythology.

The local theater run of "Urduja" is tentatively set for the middle of the year. The makers of "Dayo" plan to make their project an entry in the 2008 Metro Manila Film Festival in December.

"Urduja" and "Dayo" are only the second and third locally produced full-length animated movies.

An animated version of "Ibong Adarna," co-produced by FLT Films and Guiding Light Productions, was shown in 1997. It was the brainchild of animator Gerry Garcia, winner of the 1995 Star Awards for Best Visual Effects.

In 2002, local production studio Top Peg ran an animation TV series, "Tutubi Patrol," a values-oriented show for children.

Abad, who co-wrote "Dayo" with Eric Cabahug, said work on the film began as early as October 2006, about the time Cutting Edge Productions started investing in digital animation.

Cutting Edge is a four-year-old post-production company specializing in TV commercials and audio-visual presentations. Its owner, Jessie Lazaten, is a musical director of several TV series and films.

"While 'Urduja' is done in the traditional animation process (hand-drawn), 'Dayo' is all-digital, which is a combination of 2D and 3D technologies," explained Abad. "We are hoping to get Lea Salonga to record the movie's theme song with a 30-piece orchestra. This will be a first in Philippine cinema."

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