How A Chinese Animation Studio Uses An American ‘Robot’ Director

The BBC created this video profile of Beijing, China-based animation studio Light Chaser Animation, which is one of numerous companies in China that is aiming to create high-end Hollywood-quality CGI. The company was founded by Gary Wang, who was a founder of Tudou, China’s equivalent of YouTube.

One of the coolest things about the video was seeing the company’s futuristic ‘telepresence robot’ American animation director in action:

lightchaser-robotdirector

The accompanying BBC article described how the robot, which is a mobile platform with an iPad, is used at the studio:

The wi-fi controlled device can move around the company’s offices and it allows animation director Colin Brady—who lives in Los Angeles and did not want to move to China—to communicate with the rest of the team in Beijing.

He says he uses the robot more than he initially expected to. “During meetings and interviewing new employees, it is very helpful to look people in the eye and then look at their screen,” says Mr Brady. “It is very weird to be a robot that can roll around independently and surprise people at their desks, but that’s a little bit of the fun part too.” The best thing for him about using it is it allows him to spend more time at home.

His assistant Mo Chen says: “It’s a bit scary when Colin suddenly shows up from behind, but thankfully, this doesn’t happen a lot.” But she says she does not find it weird talking to Colin through the device, since she is used to using Apple’s Facetime app.

Below you can take a look at Light Chasers’ first project, Little Yeyos, which is about “seven little spirits living in the mythological Chinese spirit world who wander about only at night.”


  • Ant G

    That was a cool short. They definitely nailed the hollywood quality, and even mimicked the current trend (minions-like characters). Looking forward to seeing the company grow and developing their own voice.

  • Casey

    He’s not very good on investment advice but after seeing that film I believe in his company, they’re actually producing something on-par with Disney/Pixar/Dreamworks. Fantastic.

  • http://www.boogatech.com/ Markham

    At this point, I think if animation schools want to stay relevant, they’ll need to start including foreign language courses in Mandarin.

  • Larry Ruppel

    The character animation, lighting, direction and overall look on this “Little Yeyos” clip seems very promising. The BBC clip shows that some of the CG animators have 2D character drawing skills– a good sign. I know from experience that it’s not easy making a CG feature, but it can also be very exciting! Here’s hoping Gary Wang and the crew at Light Chasers can keep up the good work!

  • Mister Twister

    Misleading title. Click bait.

  • Társio Abranches

    I have to say, i find this trailer excessively cute and childish. Trying to become too Hollywood, they will lose everything they have that is original.

    Although, the graphics and animation are really great.

  • KW

    It took a while for me to actually understand what was going on and then I couldn’t figure out why they were all being mean to each other. I don’t know how I feel about it.

  • http://sobieniak.blogspot.com/ Chris Sobieniak

    I meant to make you think of what might be happening that the film isn’t letting us on about.

    • KW

      I wasn’t saying as a good thing.

      • http://sobieniak.blogspot.com/ Chris Sobieniak

        Still, film is open to all sorts of interpretations.