Sunday, March 25, 2007

TMNT and Imagi

Technology moves faster all the time, and new animation studios sprout like mushrooms. This story from Animation World Network details a little background on Imagi, the Hong Kong studio responsible for this week's first place animated feature (see immediately below.)

Imagi got its start in 2000, producing CGI TV series like Zentrix and a direct-to-video feature based on the Digimon franchise. The studio always had its eye on the prize, though: theatrical feature animation, beginning with the Ninja Turtles. [Paul] Wang [formerly of PDI/DreamWorks] joined Imagi's TMNT team in 2005, while director Kevin Munroe was still working on the film's script. Gray, the producer of the Turtles' three previous features, had convinced their co-creator Peter Laird to go to the well one more time and Imagi, formed in 2000 was ready to play with the big boys. Towards that end, they had opened up a creative development office and production facility in the Los Angeles area, the better to tap into the local talent market and pitch to the studios in town.

Imagi was also the studio that produced cgi animation for DreamWorks' Father of the Pride. It is, of course, headquartered on the southern coast of China.

Fear and trepidation regarding foreign animation studios has circulated at 'toon studios in L.A. for as long as I've been doing this job. Last week, at one of the bigger L.A animation studios, I once again got the inevitable question: "Is all the work going overseas?"

I had much the same answer I always do: "Some work will migrate out, and a lot of work won't. The game company Electronic Arts, which has other studios overseas, has built a large studio in Playa Vista (which isn't the low rent neighborhood that, say, New Delhi is), and looks to have every intention of remaining.

"Now. Why would EA do that? For the same reason that every other effects house, animation facility, and movie studio still functions here. The Los Angeles talent pool is wide and deep, and that is a major driver. Low costs aren't everything. It does no good to produce a cheap film that makes no money."

Imagi isn't run by stupid people. Besides Hong Kong, it has a studio in the San Fernando Valley.


Anonymous said...

Did the article go into how Imagi got its start from making fake Christmas trees? (not a joke)

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