Cinesite (cinesite.com) has announced the appointment of Bradley Wald as Chief Operating Officer for Animation. Currently based in Los Angeles, he reports to Cinesite’s Group CEO Antony Hunt and the board of directors. Wald will operate as part of Cinesite’s senior leadership team and brings over 25 years of senior-level experience to the newly created role which stretches across the company’s international animation operations in Vancouver, Montreal and London. Wald will be responsible for leading Cinesite’s animation business operations as the studio continues to grow its roster of animated feature films and series while also cultivating a broad range of growth opportunities. His appointment coincides with the studio’s decision to embrace and facilitate remote working permanently.
“I am honored and excited to join Cinesite at such an electrifying time in the animation business as we continue collaborating with incredible filmmakers on commercial films and series with global appeal,” said Wald. “There is a lot of momentum around Cinesite and I’m taking on this new role knowing how well-positioned the studio is for continued success.”
Wald’s career highlights include managing the release of LAIKA’s award-winning feature films Kubo and the Two Strings and Missing Link, as well as growing brand extensions and commercial opportunities through live exhibitions, consumer products and planning its move into TV adaptation, whilst developing the studio’s social media presence. He also managed NBCU’s highly successful brand and commercial activities surrounding Downton Abbey via distribution, home entertainment as well as other ancillary revenue streams including a LIMA Award-winning consumer products portfolio, and other apps and games.
Wald previously was SVP and Managing Director, Europe, Middle East & Africa, at Comcast International Media Group, where he led a team which developed and distributed E! and other Comcast television brands throughout the region, running all aspects of sales, business development, marketing and finance.
David Cobb has been promoted to Senior Vice President, Operations & Content Planning for Disney Branded Television, as announced by President Ayo Davis. In this new role, Cobb is responsible for strategic oversight and content planning for Disney Branded Television, a provider of original content — scripted and unscripted, live-action and animated — for Disney+, Disney Channel, Disney XD and Disney Junior, with a primary focus on imaginative, aspirational stories geared towards kids, tweens, teens and families.
Cobb will also now oversee studio operations and technology teams supporting DBT’s Disney Television Animation and the entertainment property acquisitions and partnerships for Disney Branded Television overall. He also serves as a strategic advisor to Davis and the executive leadership team. Reporting to Cobb is Scott Erickson, VP Technology, Disney Television Animation; the yet-to-be-announced VP Studio Strategy & Operations, Disney Television Animation; and Kelly Fountaine, manager integrated culture, Disney Branded Television.
Previously,Cobb was VP Business Planning & Strategy for Disney Channels since 2010. He joined The Walt Disney Company in 1996 and held positions in Disney Consumer Products, Walt Disney Imagineering and Disney Parks and Resorts divisions. Cobb has a Master of Business Administration and a Master of Architecture from University of Tennessee, Knoxville, and a Bachelor of Science in civil and environmental engineering from Tennessee Technological University.
On the heels of being named the recipient of the 2022 VES Award for Creative Excellence, the Advanced Imaging Society (theadvancedimagingsociety.com) announced today that Academy Award-winning director and producer Guillermo del Toro will be honored with the first ever Gene Kelly Visionary Award at the 2022 AIS Lumiere Awards. AIS will also present The Sir Charles Wheatstone Award to Epic Games for Unreal Engine, the real-time 3D tool used by filmmakers to enhance production pipelines. These join previously announced honorees Denis Villeneuve (Harold Lloyd Award) and Adam McKay (Voices For the Earth Award) at the 12th annual awards ceremony, which will take place as a luncheon on Friday, March 4 at The Beverly Hills Hotel. Gene Kelly’s widow and biographer Patricia Ward Kelly will present del Toro’s award.
Acclaimed Mexican director-producer-screenwriter del Toro has received multiple awards and nominations. His films have alternated between Spanish-language fantasy films, such as The Devil’s Backbone and Pan’s Labyrinth, and American studio films such as Blade II, Hellboy, Hellboy II: The Golden Army, Pacific Rim and Crimson Peak. He received the Academy Award for Best Director and Best Picture for the fantastical romance The Shape of Water. Nightmare Alley, del Toro’s latest project, has received four Academy Award nominations including Best Picture; three BAFTA nominations; a WGA nomination for Best Adapted Screenplay; and an ASC nomination for Best Feature Film, among many others. Del Toro’s upcoming projects include his stop-motion adaptation of Pinocchio, and the Netflix anthology series Guillermo del Toro’s Cabinet of Curiosities. Del Toro was included in Time Magazine’s list of the 100 Most Influential People in the World in 2018 and he received a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame in 2019.
New York, L.A. and cloud-based creative content specialists LVLY Inc. (lvly.tv) has recently acquired Brooklyn-based studio Juniper Jones (juniperjones.tv), expanding its capabilities as a strategic creative partner for advertising agencies and global brands. Moving forward with Juniper Jones as a key division, LVLY will leverage the combined depth of their creative talent, problem solving approach, and technology-forward workflows to empower all clients, through creative collaboration, to grow and express their brands.
“We can deliver the full range of communication services that brands need today and serve as a long-term creative partner helping them adapt to the communication landscape of the future,” said Ethel Rubinstein, LVLY’s CEO. “The demand for digital content continues to accelerate and evolve. With virtual engagement between companies and their customers more important than ever, our Clients are looking for agile partners who can support them throughout the entire content creation lifecycle from Brand Strategy to Design to Content Creation.”
Acquiring Juniper Jones makes LVLY home to a full-lifecycle of creative specialists, providing a connected portfolio of services including Strategy, Ideation, Visual Identity, Motion Design, 3D Animation, VFX, Live Action, Social/Digital, Editorial and Sound.
“Our clients value true collaboration with skilled artists in every creative capability. They want to work with people who invest the time to know and love their brands as much as they do. They trust us to tailor solutions that grow their brands through storytelling,” said Juniper Jones founder Kevin Robinson, now Executive Creative Director at LVLY, “By merging the content creation and production know-how from LVLY Studio with Juniper Jones, we super-charge those capabilities with big-picture creative strategy, making our interface with client teams more seamless and growing our capability to craft innovative solutions. We’re built to shorten the distance between a strategy and its execution.”
Film Independent (filmindependent.org), the nonprofit arts organization that produces the Spirit Awards, has selected 30 filmmakers for Project Involve 2022 — a free nine-month program for writers, directors, producers, editors, cinematographers, animators, programmers and entertainment executives from diverse backgrounds. During the program, participants meet one-on-one with film industry mentors, create short films, attend master workshops taught by top film professionals and industry networking events. The fourth LAIKA Animation Fellowship provides a production grant to produce a stop-motion animated short film in Project Involve. This year’s LAIKA Animation Fellow is Javier Barboza.
Didimo, Inc. (didimo.co) has made a series of key staffing hires in the past quarter that highlights a deeper capability in gaming character design, planning and support as the company rolls out additional capabilities for the important Gaming and VR industries. These senior hires continue to expand capabilities as the company seeks to elevate the capability and identity likeness of characters for games and VR. In addition to developing new support tools like a Unity SDK and new visualization standards, this team has helped Didimo prepare to launch bodies this Spring, to provide game designers full 3D characters with incredible quality and animation capability. Among the recent hires:
Sean Cooper, Lead Platform & SDK Developer. With over 30 years of experience in game and character design, Sean has designed and programmed many hit titles for Electronic Arts (which collectively sold 20+ million copies) such as Magic Carpet, Syndicate, Dungeon Keeper, Battlefield, 007, Godfather and more. Since then, he has developed key technologies for gaming in browsers and designed & developed digital twin technologies for various industries. Sean has also worked to design and build configurators in Unity, including defining new character creation methods. He is currently leading the development of Didimo’s next-level user likeness and bodies systems.
Hai Phung, Senior Character Artist. Hai brings a wealth of character artistry experience working at companies like Browzwear, Industrial Light & Magic, Bild Studios and Dimension. At Didimo, he has helped to revamp and automate the 3D character art pipeline and AI deep learning system to generate full-body avatars able to work with industry-standard animation and fashion tools.
Jamie Blyth, Lead Rigger. Whilst working at leading VFX studios MPC and Framestore, Jamie has led the asset development and animation systems for multiple award-winning films – most notably bringing to life characters such as Smart Hulk and the Black Order for Avengers: Endgame & Infinity War, Lady for Lady and the Tramp and a menagerie of cartoon animals for Tom and Jerry. His other credits include Doctor Strange 2, Fantastic Beasts 2 & 3, Venom 2, Thor: Ragnarok, Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2, Mowgli and many more. Jamie is now helping to guide next-level animation capabilities, with new Didimo animation features set to launch in March 2022.
Veronica Orvalho, Founder and CEO of Didimo, stated: “We are excited that Didimo is growing and attracting industry-leading talent. Our most recent additions of Sean, Jamie, and Hai greatly expand our abilities to serve Gaming and VR clients and are helping to advance our product to include bodies, additional animation capabilities and continuously improving likeness quality. We are excited for the expertise they bring and their deep knowledge in helping clients make the most of our leading-edge technology.”
Multi-talented developer and CG artist Dan Shimmyo has joined Nice Shoes (niceshoes.com) as its Lead XR Developer. With over 15 years of experience across the industry, Shimmyo has an impressive background in feature animation, working on such favorites as the Ice Age film series and its spin-offs, the Rio films, Dr. Seuss’ Horton Hears a Who!, The Peanuts Movie, Epic and Ferdinand. Following this hugely successful career in feature animation, Shimmyo has turned his attention to crafting VR experiences, sculpting and 3D modeling, using Unity and Unreal Engine to develop a range of exciting projects such as the ‘Saber Thing’ plasma sword mechanic. He previously collaborated with Creative Director Ninaad Kulkarni to build an immersive virtual showroom for Audi.
Sporting a keen eye for creative solutions, Shimmyo has been an asset when it comes to automating numerous repetitive processes in animation, notably during his time at Blue Sky Studios as Materials Technical Director and Senior Fur Technical Director. During this time, he handled asset management and pipeline tools development, using PERL, MEL and CGI Studio scripting languages. He also handled shaders development using Maya Hypershade, and colored and textured 3D models using a proprietary shading language. Working across character and environment models, he used procedural tools to apply fur and hair to characters, leaves and branches on trees, and grass on ground planes. Shimmyo also developed Maya nodes and fur generator plug-ins using C++.
For the Ice Age franchise, Shimmyo developed a way to add barnacles to a character’s skin using shaders and materials, rather than by modeling it. This eliminated the need for extra geometry to be built, as barnacles could be positioned in code and generated at render time. For the Rio movies, meanwhile, Dan created a way to automate the process of mapping bricks onto the various buildings in the films. He built a procedural brick wall texture that could detect the orientation of each wall and position the brick texture appropriately. In addition to this, he crafted a fur coloring pipeline that would automatically convert all the characters from the first film to fit the updated workflows of the second.