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26th August 2011

Poynt Named Grand Prize Runner Up in Nokia Calling All Innovators Competition

poyntCalgary-based mobile local search and advertising company Poynt Corporation has been awarded the runner-up grand prize in the app category in Nokia’s “Calling All Innovators 2011” mobile app and games development contest. An overall grand-prize winner and runner up were awarded for both the app and game categories. The grand-prize runners-up and winners were determined based on overall points awarded by a panel of Nokia judges.

The Nokia Calling All Innovators global competition attracted over 800 entrants in 17 app and game categories. Entrants were competing for the chance to share in a total of $10 million (USD) in cash and prizes. The grand-prize winners and the two runners-up were announced August 25, 2011 at an award ceremony held at Nokia’s U.S. flagship office in Sunnyvale, California.

According to the contest rules, the runner-up grand prize winners will be featured in Nokia marketing campaigns worth $1 Million (USD). This award is in addition to the $150,000 (USD) cash prize previously announced on August 22, 2011 for winning the productivity and tools app category. The campaigns will include promotion of the Poynt app in various consumer marketing campaigns.

A unique blend of consumer and expert judging was relied on to determine the category winners of the Calling All Innovators Contest. The top apps were initially chosen based on total app downloads by consumers and sales totals in Nokia’s Ovi Store. The top ten downloaded apps in each category (five paid apps and five free apps) were then judged by an expert panel of judges from Nokia. This blend of consumer and expert judging chosen by Nokia helped ensure that the best apps were not only the most popular apps but also provided the best user experience.

“Nokia designed a contest that rigorously tested each application and we are honored to be considered one of the top apps,” said Andrew Osis, President and CEO of Poynt Corp. “It is our goal to be able to offer a rich user experience across different device platforms, and this win highlights our success in achieving this goal.”

More information about Poynt for Nokia can be found on the Poynt web site.

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6th August 2011

We Are One Day Away From SIGGRAPH 2011

acm siggraphHave you made Vancouver home for the next six days? If so, that must mean you’re planning to be at SIGGRAPH 2011, which opens tomorrow at the Vancouver Convention Centre and runs until Thursday evening. The Conference and Computer Animation Festival goes from August 7 right through until the 11th and the Exhibition floor with (200+ displays) is open from August 9th through 11th. It is still possible to pick up single day passes, and at just $45.00, they are too good of a deal to miss out on. If you prefer, there are passes still available for the entire week. We got a sneak peek at the expo floor last evening, and it looks awesome. Check out your options on the SIGGRAPH 2011 Registration Info page.

This is the first time the flagship conference for the ACM SIGGRAPH organization has been held in Canada, and is an incredible opportunity for the Canadian digital media and film industry sectors. There are, at my count, 37 Canadian companies – or international companies with a Canadian location – with exhibit booths on the conference floor, including ourselves in Booth 1018. This does not include the number of Canadian companies who may have a booth in the Job Fair area of the conference, nor those like Corel who will be working out of LightBox’s booth. Nor does it include the Canadian studios who will be represented in our booth with their trailers and games or those being highlighted through the DFAIT and provincial economic development booths. There is without a doubt going to be lots to see, lots to learn, and many people to meet at SIGGRAPH 2011.

SIGGRAPH 2011 highlights the full spectrum of the $67 billion annual computer graphics industry, showcasing the world’s finest technology exhibits, interactive displays, and the best in animation and visual effects. Numerous cutting-edge research and commercial products are shown to the public for the first time in interactive exhibit areas. Examples include:

  • Displays: Watch attendees interacting with cutting-edge 3D displays that will change their home theaters and video game experiences.
  • Robotics, Wearables, and Haptics: See people engaging with robots and stimulation devices such as a wearable pregnancy jacket that allows the user to feel a fetus’s temperature, movements, and heartbeat.
  • Mobile Devices: Interact with the next wave of advancements in mobile technological devices such as a “watch” that turns your hand into a mini-keyboard.

You can get a look at the expo floor map (PDF) on the SIGGRAPH web site, it is current as of August 1st, and for those who are not aware, the expo hall is on the lower level of the new convention centre.

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3rd August 2011

New Shows In The Spotlight At 2011 Gemini Awards

The Academy of Canadian Cinema & Television is pleased to announce the nominations for the 26th Annual Gemini Awards, celebrating the best in Canadian English language television and digital media.FlashPoint

The third season of CTV series Flashpoint leads the annual TV nominations once again with 17 nods, including Best Dramatic Series. Hot on its heels are two debutant shows, both in the Best Comedy Program or Series category, including the new HBO Canada series Call Me Fitz (with 16 nominations) and TMN/Movie Central’s Living in Your Car (with 10 nominations).

History Channel’s The Kennedys and TMN’s The Pillars of the Earth also achieved an impressive 10 nominations each, including Best Dramatic Mini-Series or TV Movie category.

The emerging Digital Media categories are led by nominations from the National Film Board of Canada with cross-platform producers Marblemedia and Shaftesbury Films also in the burgeoning competition.

“We congratulate all the nominees,” says Helga Stephenson, ACCT Interim CEO. “It is aensational to see brand new television series garner so many accolades alongside established favorites. We are also delighted that there is a strong and growing presence in this year’s Digital Media categories. The arrival of new talent in both industries is a very strong indicator of a robust future.”endgame

For our own part, while we watch many of the nominated shows, we are VERY happy to see that Endgame also received nominations for the following:

Best Cross-Platform Project – Fiction:  Endgame Interactive, Showcase (Shaw) and Secret Location – James Milward, Ryan Andal, Pietro Gagliano, CJ Hervey, Alan Sawyer.

Best Dramatic Series – Sponsored by the Independent Production Fund: Endgame Showcase (Shaw) Thunderbird Films Inc. – Michael Shepard, Avrum Jacobson, Harvey Kahn, Alexandra Raffe

Best Achievement in Main Title Design: Endgame Showcase (Shaw) Ian Kirby, Caleb Bouchard, Aaron Hildebrant, Mark Stuckert

Best Performance by an Actor in a Guest Role, Dramatic Series: Endgame – I Killed Her
Showcase (Shaw) David Richmond-Peck

Best Performance by an Actress in a Featured Supporting Role in a Dramatic Series: Endgame – Fearful Symmetry/Huxley, We Have a Problem Showcase (Shaw) Katharine Isabelle

You can find the full list of nominees on this PDF at the Gemini Awards official site.

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29th July 2011

Manitoba Team Takes Top Honours at the 2011 Canon Envirothon

canonA five-member team of high school students from Swan Valley Regional Secondary School, Manitoba beat out more than 50 other teams to win the 2011 Canon Envirothon, a week-long North American environmental education competition sponsored by Canon U.S.A. Inc., a leader in digital imaging. The winning team was announced on Thursday, July 28th, during closing ceremonies at Mount Allison University in Sackville, New Brunswick.

The 54 teams representing 45 U.S. states, eight Canadian provinces and one Canadian territory tested their knowledge on various environmental issues and resource conservation, while competing for a share of over $125,000 in scholarships and Canon products.Canon Envirothon 2011 winners from Swan Valley Regional Secondary School (Photo: Canon Canada Inc.)

“We’re extremely proud of the victory by the Swan Valley Regional Secondary School team and the efforts put forward by all of the other teams,” said Colleen Ryan, Senior Director of Corporate Communications at Canon Canada. “To see Swan Valley win and have West Hill Secondary School from Owen Sound, Ontario and Oromocto High School from Oromocto, New Brunswick in the Top five is a testament to the commitment and dedication these young people have made to the Envirothon program since its introduction to Canada in 2000. We’re thrilled to support Canadian students in this program.”

The first-place winners, Swan Valley Regional Secondary School team, received a total of $25,000 in Canon scholarships.  West Hill Secondary School, Owen Sound, Ontario ($20,000), and Spartanburg High School, South Carolina ($15,000), placed second and third, respectively. The fourth-place team, Oromocto High School, Oromocto, New Brunswick, received $10,000, and the fifth-place team, Housatonic Valley Agriscience, Connecticut, received $7,500. Teams that placed first through tenth received Canon products for their advisors and sponsoring agencies/organizations to use in science education. The list of schools/organizations finishing in the top 10 appears at the end of this announcement.

The top 10 teams at the 2011 Canon Envirothon:

  1. Swan Valley Regional Secondary School, Swan Valley, Manitoba
  2. West Hill Secondary School, Owen Sound, Ontario
  3. Spartanburg High School, Spartanburg, South Carolina
  4. Oromocto High School, Oromocto, New Brunswick
  5. Housatonic Valley Agriscience, Falls Village, Connecticut
  6. West Johnston High School, Benson, North Carolina
  7. Fort Defiance High School, Fort Defiance, Virginia
  8. Middleton High School, Middleton, Wisconsin
  9. Jupiter High School, Jupiter, Florida
  10. The Wheeler School, Providence, Rhode Island

Each team is made up of five students that previously won their state or provincial competition and came together to compete in categories including aquatics, ecology, forestry, soil and land use, and wildlife. Each year an additional topic is included that is based upon a current environmental issue. For 2011, the topic was salt and freshwater estuaries.

Since 1997, Canon U.S.A. has been the title sponsor of this annual competition. The Canon Envirothon is the culmination of a series of competitions that began during the past school year and involved more than 500,000 high school students throughout North America.  In written tests and oral presentations, starting at the local level, winning teams from schools and organizations competed for the distinction of representing their state, province or territory at the Canon Envirothon.

Celebrating its 25th anniversary in 2012, the competition will be held at Susquehanna University in Selinsgrove, Pennsylvania.

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27th July 2011

Eight Ontario Start-ups Receive 6 Million Dollars In Funding From The Investment Accelerator Fund

MaRSEight Ontario companies have received more than $6 million in seed and later stage financing from the Investment Accelerator Fund (IAF), a program that invests in eligible companies as they develop their technologies and bring their products or services to market.

The IAF supports the launch and development of innovative companies in Ontario’s priority sectors of advanced materials and manufacturing, information technology, cleantech and life sciences. The IAF is funded by the Government of Ontario and delivered by MaRS.Ontario

The IAF is committed to investing $500,000 in each of the following companies:

  • GridCentric: Two groundbreaking technologies: one supports cloud computing, while the other cuts the number of servers needed in client/server IT setups.
  • Karos Health: Creating an exchange network to improve electronic ordering and results distribution of diagnostic imaging tests between client hospitals, imaging centers and radiology reading services.
  • Locationary: Locationary is now commercializing its sophisticated cloud-based, local data management system that helps mobile and web publishers improve quality while reducing the costs and complexity of managing local business places data.
  • Temporal Power: Develops and manufactures electrical energy storage systems that use a breakthrough flywheel technology. The technology is aimed at helping the electrical utility industry modernize the grid, integrate wind and solar power and better utilize water for generating clean power.

The Investment Accelerator Fund-Life Sciences (IAF-LS) helps accelerate the growth of life sciences companies in Ontario. The fund invests up to $1,000,000 in seed and later stage financing in companies that have the potential to be global leaders in their field and provide sustainable economic benefits to Ontario. Funded by the Government of Ontario, the fund helps innovative life sciences companies turn their discoveries into new products and services that meet patient needs.

The IAF-LS is committed to investing up to $1,000,000 in each of the following companies.

  • Cytochroma Inc.: A pharmaceutical company that is developing and commercializing products to treat and prevent vitamin D insufficiency and secondary hyperparathyroidism associated with chronic kidney disease.
  • Profound Medical Inc.: An award-winning medical device company commercializing a device that accurately and precisely treats localized prostate cancer on an out-patient basis.
  • Trillium Therapeutics: Developing a new and innovative treatment for interstitial cystitis, a chronic and debilitating bladder disease that affects millions of women in North America.
  • Xagenic Canada Inc.: Commercializing a low cost, chip-based diagnostic testing system that can detect and identify germs within 30 minutes, right at the point of care (no lab required).

These investments, generally made in the form of a convertible debenture or as an equity investment, will help the companies develop their products or services and attract additional investment. Funding and support from the IAF and IAF-LS will help these innovative companies save lives, protect the environment and introduce new technologies.

“The IAF is proud to support these early-stage companies. Their innovative technologies, products and services mean that the strong management teams are capable of building businesses with sustainable competitive advantages,” says Barry Gekiere, IAF Managing Director. “We support our portfolio companies with access to capital and a network of market and sector connections. By partnering with these companies and helping them grow, the IAF is helping to create high-value jobs that contribute to Ontario’s innovation agenda.”

“We are thrilled to have MaRS and the IAF as investors and appreciate their help and guidance as we commercialize our new data management services”, says Grant Ritchie, CEO of Locationary. “The whole team was responsive, professional, and frankly, absolutely incredible through the entire investment process. They are great ambassadors for Ontario and play a major role in supporting the start-up tech community here.”

“We are absolutely delighted to have received this investment from IAF. Their team was comprehensive in their diligence, quick in their decision and is already contributing strategically to the direction of the company. We couldn’t be happier to have them as investors,” says Paul Chipperton, CEO of Profound Medical.

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26th July 2011

Serenic Named To Microsoft Inner Circle

serenicIn acknowledgment of exceptional service and sales performance, Alberta’s Serenic Corporation, a publisher of financial management and business operations software for nonprofits, international non-governmental organizations (NGOs) and the public sector, has been named to both the 2011 Microsoft Dynamics Inner Circle and the 2011 Microsoft Dynamics President’s Club, reflecting Serenic’s success in extending the Microsoft Dynamics platform to drive business advantages in companies worldwide. Both achievements are a direct result of Serenic’s outstanding dedication to customer satisfaction through the delivery of innovative business solutions.

The prestigious 2011 Inner Circle for Microsoft Dynamics is an elite group made up of approximately the top 1 percent of Microsoft Dynamics partners from across the globe with sales achievements that rank them in the highest echelon of the Microsoft Dynamics global network of partners. Members of the Inner Circle for Microsoft Dynamics have performed to a high standard of excellence by delivering valuable solutions that help organizations achieve increased success. 2011 Inner Circle members are invited to the Inner Circle retreat, at the breathtaking Fairmont St. Andrews in St. Andrews, Scotland, Aug. 7–10, 2011, where they will have a unique opportunity to share strategy and network with Microsoft Dynamics senior leaders and other successful Microsoft Dynamics partners from around the globe.

The Microsoft Dynamics President’s Club honors high-performing Microsoft Dynamics partners whose commitment to customers is reflected in their business success and growth. This prestigious group represents the top 5 percent of Microsoft Dynamics partners worldwide. Membership is granted based on their continual, committed efforts aimed at offering solutions that meet the needs of their customers.

This recognition came during the Microsoft Worldwide Partner Conference (WPC), the company’s annual premier partner event, which took place this year in Los Angeles. WPC provides Microsoft Corp.’s partner community with the opportunity to learn about the company’s road map for the upcoming year, establish connections, share best practices, experience the latest product innovations and learn new skills.

We’re excited to recognize Serenic as a leader in the Microsoft Dynamics global partner community for promoting and delivering solutions that drive customer success,” said Doug Kennedy, vice president, Microsoft Dynamics Partners. “By providing the highest level of sales and innovation, customers can have absolute assurance they are dealing with the ‘best of the best’ when working with Serenic.

Serenic is dedicated to helping customers find the best solutions and services to accommodate their business needs and further their success, while excelling in customer satisfaction. By collaborating with the teams at Microsoft, Serenic maintains a comprehensive understanding of the Microsoft Dynamics platform to provide innovative solutions, services and unparalleled value to Microsoft Dynamics customers. Previous honors include Serenic being named the 2007 and 2009 Microsoft Dynamics Outstanding ISV of the Year and earning membership in the 2007, 2009 and 2010 Microsoft Dynamics Inner Circle and the 2007, 2009 and 2010 Microsoft Dynamics President’s Club.

“Serenic is honored to receive Microsoft’s highest recognition acknowledging the company’s continued performance,” said Randy Keith, Serenic’s president and CEO. “The entire Serenic team, our customers, and our dedicated partners are responsible for our continuing success and for this accomplishment.”

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25th July 2011

PlaSmart Perplexus Puzzles Pick Up Awards

plasmartPerplexus Rookie and Perplexus Epic, the bendy, trendy, can’t put it down 3D game mazes by PlaSmart Inc., have been awarded multiple top toy awards this summer from some of the industry’s most influential experts: PTPA (Parent Tested Parent Approved) Media™, ASTRA (The American Specialty Toy Retailing Association) and Creative Child Magazine.

Both Perplexus Rookie and Perplexus Epic are new for 2011 and both have won numerous awards this summer signaling a great start to the busy fall holiday season toy season ahead:

  • The PTPA Media™ Winner’s Seal of Approval was awarded to PlaSmart’s Perplexus Epic™. PTPA Media™ has North America’s largest volunteer parent testing community, with over 40,000 parents and is rated the Most Trusted Seal by 22,000 parents.Perplexus Rookie
  • The American Specialty Toy Retailing Association (ASTRA): 2011 Best Toys for Kids Award named Perplexus Rookie™. Over 500 of America’s top independent and neighborhood toy retailers meet at ASTRA’s annual convention to hand-pick the most engaging, unique, open-ended, fun, and safe toys for children.
  • The Creative Child Magazine: 2011 Game of the Year Award was given to PlaSmart’s Perplexus Rookie™ and Perplexus Epic™. Two days each year, the family-centred US national publication has over 100 guest reviewers consisting of moms, music educators and early education professionals test more than 1,000 categorized toys at the Henderson, Nevada convention centre.

“This is a great start to the year,” said Timothy Kimber, President, PlaSmart Inc. “PlaSmart’s mission is to deliver ground-breaking and fun products that bring families together. We are thrilled to see our top two new toys – Perplexus Epic and Perplexus Rookie – both recognized as among the toy industry’s best and brightest new products this year and are very excited about what this holds for the upcoming holiday season.”

Perplexus Original™ launched in 2010 as the world’s first 3D maze game. It challenges players with multiple paths and 100 barriers to manoeuvre through in a 3-dimensional maze that will enthral every player. The new Perplexus Epic™ adds to the excitement with 125 barriers to overcome. The new Perplexus Rookie™, which is for younger or less experienced maze experts, is still an incredible challenge with multiple paths and 70 barriers to conquer.

Now I know what I can get my Dad for Christmas. ;)

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21st July 2011

Yo Deshi Named As Winner of GameTree TV Developer Competition

TransGamingLast night at Casual Connect in Seattle, Toronto’s  TransGaming Inc. announced that Yo Deshi by Scottish developer Proper Games had been declared the winner of the company’s $ 50 000.00 GameTree Developer Competition.

Yo Deshi is a cerebral martial arts-themed board game that challenges players of all levels with a unique multi-player puzzle experience. Gamers can experience the excitement of incredible gains and stunning losses as they engage both real and simulated opponents with a range of thought-provoking strategies. Yo DenshiFeaturing highly immersive and fully customizable gameplay, the game was chosen as the grand prize winner of TransGaming’s GameTree Developer Competition.

The influential celebrity judges included actor, director, producer and writer LeVar Burton, President of Development at Jerry Bruckheimer Games Inc., Jay Cohen, and Lorne Lanning, co-founder of Oddmobb, Inc. The competition was launched in January,  with developers being offered the chance to win $50,000 and have their game featured on the GameTree TV platform for Smart TV, making it accessible to millions of Smart TV users as the GameTree TV market adoption continues to grow.

“We were highly impressed by the level of skill that all the finalists demonstrated. In the end it came down to talent, attention to detail and the overall quality of the winning game,” said panel judge LeVar Burton. “We’ve been able to offer developers the chance to reach a global audience with GameTree TV, a fantastic opportunity for a new developer eager to make their mark on the industry. It’s an exciting time for developers as the way we all interact with games and entertainment on a daily basis is changing rapidly, and TransGaming is playing a vital part in that process.”

If you are interested in developing titles playable on the GameTree TV platform, visit the GameTree Developer Portal to find out how to have your games published on Smart TV systems around the world. Other games in this first competition included Smiles HD by Canadian developer Sykhronics Entertainment and Bubblenauts: The Hunt For Jolly Roger’s Treasure by Western Star Entertainment of Oregon.

“Our passion for discovering, promoting and distributing the innovative content developed by the incredibly talented independent game development community is the main reason we decided to run this competition. We received an overwhelming response from developers around the world and were thrilled by the quality of the submissions,” commented Vikas Gupta, CEO & President of TransGaming. “GameTree TV is emerging as a top new gaming platform and we are extremely happy that Yo Deshi, and all of our finalists, are going to be part of the experience. My sincere congratulations go out to Yo Deshi and Proper Games.”

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15th July 2011

Incredible Photo Wins CNIB Contest For Tara Miller

cnibThe Canadian National Institute for the Blind has announced that Winnipeg resident Tara Miller is the winner of the organization’s national Eye Remember photo contest. Miller’s stunning photo, entitled “Fortuitous Twilight,” captured the attention of CNIB’s celebrity photographer judges, who were not aware the entrant had any vision problem whatsoever, let alone having only 10 per cent vision in her left eye.

Fortuitous Twilight by Tara Miller

Fortuitous Twilight by Tara Miller

Miller’s photo, which was voted to win by more than 2,000 Canadian users on the contest’s website, was one of 128 submissions by people who are sighted, partially-sighted and blind across the country.
Miller, who began to lose her vision to glaucoma in childhood, says she takes photos by using what little sight she has to plan and frame the shot. Once shooting is complete, she hooks her camera up to a large 27-inch monitor and blows the image up to 200 per cent so she can see the results.

“People with vision loss can do the same things as sighted people, but just in a different way,” says Miller.

As the contest winner, Miller and a guest will be heading to Quebec City, Quebec, later this year for a free weekend hotel stay and an opportunity to explore and photograph the historic city.Tara Miller Photo: CNIB

As a CNIB client who has taken advantage of many of the charity’s rehabilitation services for Canadians with vision loss, Miller says she has learned the skills she needs to live independently despite her blindness. Working one-on-one with CNIB’s specialists, Miller learned to travel on the bus independently, use a computer, and take care of her home and family .

“I am so proud of myself for my abilities and I thank the staff at CNIB for helping me,” says Miller.

Supported by an unrestricted educational grant from Pfizer, CNIB’s Eye Remember photo contest is designed to educate Canadians about the importance of detecting glaucoma early in life and to remember to be proactive about their vision health.

Otherwise known as the “silent thief,” glaucoma usually progresses slowly and painlessly; therefore, it’s possible to have glaucoma without noticing any symptoms or major changes to your eyesight. Glaucoma is the second most common case of irreversible vision loss in seniors and affects more than 250,000 Canadians.

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14th July 2011

The Rest of The Canadian Nominees for the 2011 PrimeTime Emmy Awards

Rounding out the Canadian 2011 PrimeTime Emmy Award nominations are (and I hope I found them all) are the following nominees:

Canadian icon Christoper Plummer was nominated For Outstanding Voice-Over Performance as The Narrator in Moguls & Movie Stars.

Canadian actors Michael J. Fox and Will Arnett received recognition for their Guest Appearances. Fox was nominated for his appearances on The Good Wife in the Outstanding Guest Actor In A Drama Series. Will Arnett was nominated for his performance as Devon Banks on 30 Rock as an Outstanding Guest Actor In A Comedy Series.

Toronto director Jeremy Podeswa was nominated as an Outstanding Directing For A Drama Series as the director of Boardwalk Empire’s episode titled Anastasia.

The Nikita episode titled Pandora was nominated for Outstanding Sound Editing For A Series.

AMC’s The Killing, which has Vancouver once again pretending to be Seattle, picked up the following nominations:

  • Outstanding Casting For A Drama Series – Junie Lowry Johnson, Casting Director; Libby Goldstein, Casting Director; Stuart Aikins, Casting Director – Canada; Corrine Clark, Casting Director – Canada; Jennifer Page, Casting Director – Canada
  • Outstanding Directing For A Drama Series
  • Outstanding Single-Camera Picture Editing For A Drama Series
  • Outstanding Lead Actress In A Drama Series
  • Outstanding Writing for a Drama Series

Another AMC title, Rubicon, was nominated for Outstanding Main Title Design, competing against non-Canadian production Game of Thrones, which has an outstanding opening title series.

Animal Planet’s documentary – reality series Whale Wars picked up two nominations:

  • Outstanding Cinematography For Nonfiction Programming
  • Outstanding Sound Editing For Nonfiction Programming (Single Or Multi-Camera)

Stargate Universe received its third nomination for Outstanding Special Visual Effects For A Series.

Degrassi‘s episode My Body Is A Cage, Part 2 is nominated for Best Children’s Program

In addition to The Borgias, Take 5 Production Camelot was also nominated for Outstanding Original Main Title Theme Music. The show’s theme was composed by Canadian sibling composers Jeff and Mychael Danna

Staying with music, David Foster and Friends: Hitman Returns (Great Performances) has been nominated in the Outstanding Music Direction category along with fellow Canadian Paul Shaffer, who is nominated for his music direction on the 2011 Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame Induction Ceremony.

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