Warner Bros. Merges Animation, Digital Prod.

According to The Hollywood Reporter, Warner Bros. Pictures has combined its visual effects and animation department with its digital production unitt in an effort to manage its vfx-laden features and toon movies under one roof. Chris DeFaria, a producer on Warner’s Looney Tunes: Back in Action and Cats & Dogs, has been upped from senior VP of physical production and visual effects to head the unified entity.

Serving as exec VP of digital production, animation and visual effects, deFaria will work with emerging companies, many of which are trying to make the leap from providing visual effects to producing animated features. The studio’s latest animated release, Happy Feet, was created largely at such a company’Sydney, Australia-based Animal Logic. Rhythm & Hues and Giant Killer Robots helped complete the film, which opens across North America this Friday.

DeFaria tells the trade that the decision to combine units is a response to the shift in the kind of movies Warner Bros. has committed to producing. In addition to animated movies such as Happy Feet, The Polar Express and the forthcoming Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles flick, the studio is home to the Harry Potter films and has Frank Miller’s 300 and many other vfx-laden projects on the way. By bringing vfx and animation operations into digital production, Warner Bros. hopes to maximize efficiency while working with working with various digital production companies around the world.

DeFaria, who wrangled vfx elements for Warner Bros.’ Troy, The Polar Express, Tim Burton’s Corpse Bride and the Harry Potter and Matrix franchises, will guide the company in exploring co-production opportunities with animation houses while seeking out new talent and overseeing visual effects for features and home entertainment productions.