Z Animation Adds Ten Directors

Z Animation, a TV spot animation company founded by exec producer Peter Barg, has brought on ten new directors for national representation. Bringing a broad mix of artistic styles are directors John Ryan, Robert Pope, Howie Hoffman, David Chomowicz, Gabriel Polonsky and David Russo, as well as a pair of design and directing teams–3D animators/designers Rob Cazin and Lauri Salladay and live-action puppeteers Tom Megalis and Jenn Bastien.

Atlanta-based John Ryan is a traditional cel animator whose illustrative, outside-the-line style has graced projects for McCann Erickson, Young & Rubicam, J. Walter Thompson, BBDO, Austin Kelly, Hallmark Ent., the Discovery Channel, Disney’s Yellow Shoes Creative Group and Cartoon Network. The former Click 3X/Atlanta director has received recognition from the BDAs, Tellys, Addys, Monitors, commercial Emmys and Animation Magazine’s Anicomm awards. His short film, Glimmer, received awards from Worldfest/Flagstaff (Gold), Hopes and Dreams Festival (Best Animation), and ASIFA East (Best Animation Design).

Working in a more traditional vein is former Click 3X animator Robert Pope, who has directed spots for Cartoon Network, Culligan, Ronzoni, the Atlanta Braves, Raid and Chachere Spices, drawing on classic influences that include Warner Bros, Disney, UPA and Hanna-Barbera.

Howie Hoffman recently directed the cutout animation short, Bad Phone Sex, featuring Chris Rock, for HBO. He also animated action figures for Nickelodeon’s Action League Now, pixellated kids for a series of Toon Disney promos and created spots for the launch of Spike TV’s animation block. For the past 20 years, he has taught animation workshops for kids at Camp Androscoggin in Wayne, Maine.

Six-time Emmy winner David Chomowicz recently completed his first project for Z Animation–a four-spot package for BASF and agency Brighton/St. Louis. A leading broadcast designer and brander, his clients include HBO, Noggin, CBS, Broadway Video, PBS, and Bravo. The BDA, Print Magazine, the AIGA and the New York Art Directors Club have honored his work.

Emmy-nominated Gabriel Polonsky is a specialist in stop-motion and clay animation. The former Olive Jar Animation director has also completed his first project at Z Animation–two spots for Alliance Health Care and agency Adamson/St. Louis. Polonsky is an adjunct professor of character animation at the Art Institute of Boston at Lesley College and an instructor of animation at Harvard and Brandeis Universities and the Boston Museum School.

Seattle-based David Russo was recently named one of Filmmaker Magazine’s 25 New Faces of Independent Film. His two most recent short films, Pan With Us and Populi, premiered in sequential years at the Sundance Film Festival, with the former receiving honorable mention in addition to the Best Animation award at the 2002 San Francisco Int’l Film Festival. Self-taught, Russo’s non-narrative films are largely stop motion and animated in-camera. He is artist in residence at Seattle’s 911 Media Arts Center.

The team of Rob Cazin and Lauri Salladay adds a true 3D design and animation dimension to the Z lineup. Their style of branded entertainment has garnered numerous awards, including a gold and silver Promax, as well as a national Emmy for Cazin. Recent projects include a series of six History Channel holiday IDs, A&E‚s War of 1812 campaign and show packaging for The History Channel’s Last Days of World War II and Full Throttle. Cazin and Salladay have also created a series of CGI shorts titled The Farminals, which debuted this year on INHD, the first all-HDTV network.

The roster is completed by the team of Tom Megalis and Jenn Bastien. Megalis, a well-known illustrator, has directed hundreds of spots for clients such as Nestle, Herrs Chips and Blue Cross/Blue Shield. Bastien, a former animation student of Megalis’ at Pittsburgh’s Point Park College, specializes in 3D sculpture, puppet animation, set design/construction and character design. Her credits include Nickelodeon’s The Amanda Show and Kablam, as well as works for MTV, the Discovery Channel, Voice Net and The Pittsburgh Zoo.

“Our entire emphasis is on the creative talent, not the technology,” says Barg. “Technology is finally doing what it was supposed to do–leave the animator free to create, cut down on overhead and markups and create more efficiency. We have put together a group of directors, animators, illustrators and creators who understand how to produce anywhere, under any circumstances.”

Z Animation opened in July 2003 as a talent-based visual toolbox for both agencies and clients. The recent signings raise the number of directors represented by the company to 26. Z Animation is represented by Gilles De Bonfilhs on the West Coast and in New York by David Goldman.