Because we inevitably get questions from artists when a company puts out press releases about a new animation division, or the newly appointed head of a division, let me tell you what information I have (thus far) acquired ...
Sadly, it isn't a whole lot.
This morning I talked to a Paramount executive-type person who said:
1) The division is in the process of becoming. (They haven't yet finalized a business plan ... or at least, aren't telling me that they've finalized a business plan. That should happen over the next several months.)
2) They're not looking to have a BIG footprint and infrastructure the way that Walt Disney Animation Studios, DreamWorks Animation, or Pixar has a big footprint and infrastructure.
3) The company plans to hire crew as needed, on a picture-by-picture basis.
All of the above is, no doubt, subject to change and amendment, as circumstances warrant. Here is my (semi-educated) guess about what kind of unit Viacom will be constructing:
The new division will be closer to Chris Meladandri's Illumination Entertainment than DreamWorks Animation. No big space filled with riggers, animators, lighters and finalers staring at flat screens. No big tech support group. I would project that they'll have a pre-production staff here in town that scripts, storyboards, designs and does key layout.
Probably some fine European, Canadian or South Bay c.g. studio will sub-contract the production work.
The new division will develop 2-4 projects at a time and look to release one feature every year or two. They're not looking to sink gajillions into the endeavor, but to manage costs. Their press release yesterday said the company is looking to budget features at around a $100 million. I take them at their word.
They hope to get their first production into theatres by 2014. They can do that schedule, provided everything falls into place. Illumination Entertainment did it, so it is certainly achievable. Time will tell.