Former DreamWorks Animation artist Ben Fischler has been hired as visual effects supervisor for LAIKA/house, the commercial division of Phil Knight’s LAIKA animation studio. The appointment was announced by LAIKA/house president and exec producer Lourri Hammack. In his new position, Fischler will work on pushing the quality of projects within the LAIKA/house CG department, developing new visual styles to complement the unit’s expertise in character animation.
At DreamWorks Animation, Fischler worked as a production lighter on such films as Shrek 2, Shrek The Third, Madagascar, Over The Hedge, Bee Movie and the upcoming Madagascar: Escape 2 Africa. Before getting his start in feature animation, he co-founded CG studio Imagination Plantation, which was purchased and incorporated by W!ldBrain in 1999. He went on to become the senior technical director at W!ldBrain, and was heavily involved with the production of company’s first animated short, Hubert’s Brain.
LAIKA/house produces commercials, branded entertainment and content for television, film, the Internet and mobile venues. Clients include such advertising agencies as Leo Burnett, Wieden + Kennedy and BBDO, and such brands Starbucks, Apple, Coca-Cola, ESPN, M&M’s and the NFL on Fox. The unit has created a stop-motion animation dream sequence for writer/director Mike Cahill’s King of California, an independent feature starring Michael Douglas that was released last year.
LAIKA’s film department is set to release Coraline, its first feature film. Based on a fantasy novel by Neil Gaiman, the stop-motion film is directed by Henry Selick (The Nightmare Before Christmas), is slated for release by Focus Features on Feb. 6, 2009.