It's always fun to drive through rush-hour traffic to Culver City, but I made the trek over the Santa Monicas to the Sony Pictures Animation-ImageWorks campus this morning, where I discovered that things have moved around at SPA ....
The story crew is working away on Hotel Transylvania pushing toward a September story-reel presentation for SPA execs. "The usual bumps and story challenges, but we're moving along ..."
In another part of the building, the Sony-Aardman production Arthur Christmas appears to be making quicker headway. A staffer related:
"We've got the first act locked, and the other two well in hand. At the last screening, we didn't have any major notes. We'll probably be done with story by Fall and moving into production."
A few months back, the building that houses the SPA contingent had a lot of Imageworks people, but the SPI production crew has moved back to Imageworks Central to make room for more Sony Pictures Animation board artists and designers. One of the more seasoned and sardonic board artists noted how it's registered on management that they need story people who have been through the production maw a few times, know how to stage and choreograph and hook up. "They figured out they need old timers because they know what they're doing, that newbies, even ones who draw well, aren't enough."
(Sony is currently recruiting for animation production staff for Christmas and other shows in work, including The Smurfs and Hotel T. I'm also informed that SPA is doing development work on another Open Season, which will probably be animated at Reel Effx, as was its older siblings.)