Multi-award-winning U.K. studio Aardman (aardman.com) has today announced two newly created roles to support the continued development of cutting-edge techniques and innovations as the studio builds on recent successes, including the Academy Award-nominated Robin Robin. Major new titles are entering production for both new and established IP, including a sequel to Chicken Run and the return of Wallace & Gromit.
Steven Shapiro will start as Chief Technical Officer on March 28, overseeing the technology teams and developing a technology strategy reflecting the long-term plans of the studio as it takes on an ambitious slate of projects over the next five years. He will also play a key role as Aardman hones its creative skills bringing character, story and craft to opportunities enabled through new platforms and emerging technologies. Shapiro will report to Kerry Lock, Director of Finance & Operations at Aardman.
Shapiro joins Aardman from The Walt Disney Studios where, as Principal Architect, Motion Picture Innovation, he focused on applying innovation to support productions across all The Walt Disney Pictures live-action banners, from Marvel Studios to Disney Live Action MPP. Prior to this, he helped build the Production Technology team at Marvel Studios in his role as Director. He has more than 20 years of experience in media and entertainment technology, working on more than 30 features and episodics, managing teams and contributing in the areas of visual effects, gaming, image and color pipelines, stereography and conversion, finishing, FX art and more.
Harry Linden joined the studio as Head of Stop Frame Production on March 14. He will support Aardman’s specialist teams to deliver an expanding stop frame slate, which includes feature films, shorts, specials and series, as well as commercials and content produced for partners, such as Turtle Journey (2020) for Greenpeace and the music video for Coldplay’s “Daddy” (2019). Linden will work closely with the Head of CG Production, Jess McKillop, to ensure an integrated approach across all techniques as well as collaborating with producers and production teams to ensure this content is delivered to the highest creative standards. He will report to Carla Shelley, Executive Director, Production.
Linden has worked in film and TV for 25 years across advertising and promos, trailers, series and features. His experience spans live action and animation, 2D and 3D, stop motion and CG, at all levels of budget. He first collaborated with Aardman as Floor Manager on Wallace & Gromit: A Close Shave (1995), before working with the studio again on its first feature, Chicken Run (2000) as Production Manager. He worked on Tim Burton’s Corpse Bride (Warner Bros., 2005) as Production Manager and was Line Producer on Coraline (LAIKA, 2009).
Mercury Filmworks (mercuryfilmworks.com), a leading independent animation studio in Ottawa, Canada, has appointed Guillaume Dubois to the post of Vice President Production, reporting to Clint Eland, Founder & CEO. Dubois carries over 16 years’ experience in animation and children’s TV, and will be responsible for managing current and future productions in the studio’s pipeline in both work-for-hire and original IP projects, including Pangors of Puddle Peak, Octicorn and Badjelly the Witch. He will work alongside CCO Heath Kenny and VP Original Series & Co-Production, Chantal Ling.
Dubois most recently served as Co-Founder & CEO of Caribara Montreal, overseeing operations and business affairs for the Canadian arm of Paris-based 2D animation firm Caribara (Yellow Yeti, Princess Dragon, Where Is Anne Frank?, Blazing Samurai, Last Man S2). Previously, Dubois was Head of Production and Line Producer at TouTenKartoon (Glitch Techs, Sgt. Stubby, Wakfu S3, Ollie & Moon S1) from 2016 to 2018. From 2014 to 2016, Dubois served as Development Head of Production at Gaumont, overseeing animated TV series, feature films and transmedia web projects for kids and adults. Dubois started his animation career at Mondo TV in France.
Florida’s Steamroller Animation (steamrollerstudios.com) has promoted Stephen Melagrano as (Joint) Head of Animation, to jointly run the studio’s rapidly growing animation department with industry veteran Amanda Renfroe. Steamroller offers animation services to partners including Weta Digital, Epic Games, NetherRealm, Framestore and Guerrilla Games, and is currently producing its own IP projects such as the video game Curse of the Deadwood (Summer 2022).
Melagrano came to Steamroller in 2016 after working with Pixar, Blue Sky, DreamWorks Animation, Blizzard Entertainment and Sony Pictures Imageworks. “I am beyond excited to be joining Amanda as Head of Animation,” he commented. “We have one of the best animation teams in the entire world, it’s such an honor to work with these amazing people every day. I’m looking forward to helping lead the team on our phenomenal slate of upcoming projects, continuing to help them learn and grow, and in the end, creating incredible work together.”
Frederator Media (frederator.com) announced the appointment of Joy Osinlaye as Digital Media Strategist. The latest addition marks the expansion of Frederator Media’s Brand Partnerships Division, cementing their mastery of online branding. “With a specialty in influencer marketing, Joy is a tour-de-force for helping brands and companies tell their story, bridging the gap between business and their consumers,” said GM Kenny Ash. “She is an excellent addition to Frederator, kickstarting our Brand Partnerships Division.”
Frederator Media boasts over 2000 exclusive creators and influencers that garner over a billion views every month. As the Digital Media Strategist, Osinlaye will connect brand and media companies with Frederator’s owned and operated YouTube channels, and their roster of global influencers. Frederator Media has a strong track record of engaging marketing campaigns and activations, with clients that include Xbox, Crunchyroll and Webtoon.
The Youth Media Alliance (ymamj.org) announced industry veteran Lucie Léger as the Chair of this year’s Awards of Excellence jury. The gala will honor Canada’s best youth programming productions on May 25 in Montréal. Throughout her career, Léger has shaped the course of many youth television production teams.
From 2006 to 2018, Léger was director of youth and family content at Télé-Québec, where she actively contributed to the direction and decision-making process of Télé-Québec’s youth programming department and was involved in many award-winning productions. After beginning her career as a researcher for Radio-Canada, she focused on launching Télé-Québec’s first Outaouais region programming. She became programming director in Montréal in 1985, coordinator of youth programming in 2004 and director of youth and family programs in 2006, responsible for external productions and acquisitions, overseeing more than 40% of the programming schedule. Under her leadership, Télé-Québec’s youth programming truly earned its place within the youth media universe, pleasing critics and audiences alike.
Chicago cross-media production company Sarofsky (sarofsky.com) has added Managing Director duties for longstanding Executive Producer Steven Anderson. As announced by company Principal and Executive Creative Director Erin Sarofsky, the company is also adding Designer/Animators Tyler Scheitlin and Mollie Davis, Junior Designer/Animator Lirio Ramirez and Production Coordinator Annie Lynch to its full-time staff. Sarofsky has more than doubled in size since 2014.
- Scheitlin joins from The Mill Chicago, where he spent several years as a leading Cinema 4D Designer. Also formerly the Creative Lead for Emmy Award-winning post production studio 11 Dollar Bill, he originally joined that firm as a freelance motion designer, following nearly two years with creative content studio Protokulture.
- Davis pursued an animation focus through a joint program with Northeastern University and School of the Museum of Fine Arts before starting out as an Associate Motion Designer for Wayfair. Landing next as Lead Animator with Planet Nutshell, her expanding skillset led to more impressive credits, including animation, compositing and effects for the short film Azúcar.
- Ramirez is a 2021 BFA graduate from SCAD’s Motion Graphics program. During her design internship with high-tech company Hexbug, her talents earned an extended engagement, leading to work on commercials, the brand’s YouTube channel and logo animations for its sister companies. She then spent several months as a freelance motion designer at NBCU Telemundo, developing graphics and animation for series including En Casa Con Telemundo and Suelta La Sopa.
- Lynch earned her Bachelor’s degree in Film/Cinema/Video Studies from the University of Toronto. She spent several years in Hollywood writing screenplays and working her way up the ladder in the production industry before returning to her hometown of Chicago. She started out with Sarofsky as a temporary office manager.
Nexus Studios (nexusstudios.com) has signed Australia-based director Alex Grigg to its global creative studio. With an impressive back catalog of award-winning films, Grigg has made a name for himself through his refined and painterly 2D aesthetic, knowing humor and ability to tap into key cultural moments. Through his education program, Alex’s commitment to enriching the industry by arming the next generation of animators with accessible skills, has earnt him great respect amongst his peers.
Having previously worked with clients such as The New York Times, BBC and Cartoon Network, Cocacola and Mailchimp, Grigg’s notable credits include visualizing Trevor Noah’s thoughts on the weaponization of words for WeTransfer, directing two episodes of Netflix’s Headspace animated series and multi-award winning short film Phantom Limb. Grigg’s work has earned Official Selections at Annecy, Sundance and Pictoplasma, picking up Best Animation awards at Cannes Lions and Sydney Film Festival as well as Webby Awards, Hiroshima International Animation Festival Special Jury Prize and an Honorable Mention at Ottawa International Animation Festival. He was part of the animation collective, Late Night Work Club.
Framestore (framestore.com) announced two key hires to its Vancouver studio as it enters the next phase of its major global expansion and ongoing strategic work to integrate Method Studios’ film and episodic teams into the fold. These efforts in Vancouver, Montreal and Melbourne combined with the expansion to Mumbai and rapid pre-production division growth will boost Framestore’s team by 40%, connected by the established Framestore VFX pipeline across four continents.
- Naomi Stopa, Managing Director, Vancouver joins from Digital Domain, where she was Head of Production for Vancouver, Montreal and L.A. She previously held positions with ILM, Method Studios and Rainmaker, and her credits span titles such as Oscar nominee Free Guy, Black Widow and Bong Joon-ho’s Okja.
- Jinnie Pak, Head of Production, Vancouver joins from Electronic Arts, where she was Senior Producer, and also held roles with ILM and Method. Her VFX Production credits include Jungle Cruise, Overlord and Transformers: Age of Extinction.
Full-service VFX and post-production studio Pariah (pariahcreative.com) has officially opened for business. Founded by VFX Supervisors Patrick Murphy and Glyn Tebbutt and Managing Director Mark Tobin, Pariah brings together a collective of talent with decades of combined experience. Prior to its official launch, Pariah completed a spot for Expedia, starring Ewan McGregor and directed by Lance Accord (Park Pictures) that aired during the NFL’s championship game. The company followed up with a spot for Gatorade’s Fuel Tomorrow campaign that premiered during the NBA All Star Game featuring Candace Parker and Damian Lillard, and directed by Wesley Walker (Tool of North America).
Pariah’s seasoned production team includes Head of Production Michael Steinmann, Flame artists Fed Saccone and Gretchen Capatan, CG Supervisor Mike Wynd, and graphics artist Diego Binatena. “It’s a well-rounded force of incredible talent that – combined with our extensive network of creatives around the globe – allows us to deliver exceptional work for clients,” commented Tebbutt. Pariah will also collaborate closely with sister company Exile Edit, headed by Editor Kirk Baxter and Managing Director CL Kumpata.