Starz Animation Toronto Opens VFX wing

Toronto, Ont. — February 15, 2011 — Building on its success as Canada’s leading production studio for digital animation, Starz Animation Toronto has recently opened a visual effects and creature animation wing to leverage its strong reputation for quality and reliability into the live action market. Bolstered by a team of VFX leadership and artists who’d found earlier success at the former C.O.R.E. Digital Pictures in Toronto, the Starz Animation Toronto VFX crew, already topping 100, has in short order attracted a trio of high-profile projects, with more in the pipeline, according to Head of Studio David Steinberg.

Leading the company’s upcoming VFX slate:

  • “Camelot,” an Irish-Canadian co-production starring Joseph Fiennes, Eva Green and Jamie Campbell Bower, being produced for the Toronto studio’s parent company Starz Entertainment and Oscar®-winner Graham King’s GK-tv, whose first foray into TV is this epic retelling of the King Arthur legend.  Starz Animation Toronto is delivering all 600 shots for this ambitious project, set to air on Starz starting April 1.
  • Robosapien: Rebooted, a theatrical live-action family film from Avi Arad Productions (Arad’s credits include X-Men, Spider Man, and Iron Man) for which Starz Animation Toronto is animating the title character.
  • Dolphin Tale, a fall 2011 release from Alcon Films and Warner Bros., starring Morgan Freeman and Ashley Judd. Starz Animation Toronto has been chosen to provide all the VFX for this stereoscopic film inspired by a true story of a dolphin rescued off the Florida coast.

“We’re already known as the guys who can deliver quality performance animation consistently and affordably, as proven these past few years on films like (Tim Burton’s) 9 and our latest, Gnomeo and Juliet,” Steinberg says. “The opportunity hit us like a two-by-four to bring that same ‘wow factor’ to the great big world of VFX.  We knew we could leverage our pipeline and infrastructure, but the clincher was when we met seasoned supervisors like Bret Culp and Terry Bradley–these guys have 40 years of feature and TV VFX experience between them — and the incredible team of talent they helped us wrangle, who are already producing mind-blowing shots for our clients.”

“It was an easy decision for me and my colleagues to join the Starz team and help develop a new VFX division,” says award-winning Visual Effects Producer/Supervisor Bret Culp, who led VFX for films like Silent Hill and such TV projects as “The Tudors.”  “Right out of the gate, this new unit is one of the strongest I’ve ever worked with, both because of the talent we’ve assembled and the great resources and inspiring environment that a place like Starz Animation provides.”

Its recent expansion into visual effects is but the latest successful undertaking for Starz Animation Toronto. The studio last year built a full stereoscopic 3-D unit to produce the animation for the new Touchstone Pictures and Rocket Pictures release, Gnomeo & Juliet. Its work can also be seen in the award-winning animated feature 9, from Focus Features, and TV holiday special, “Yes, Virginia,” for Macy’s, the Ebeling Group and JWT.