Oscar-winning animation and film production company Passion Pictures has opened a new office in Melbourne, Australia.

The new studio Passion Melbourne will be run by executive producer Katie Mackin, an Australian native who has spent much of the last decade working at Passion’s London office. According to a recent interview with LBB Online, Mackin’s new role will involve working with local directors and providing production support for Australian and New Zealand projects.

Founded by Andrew Ruhemann, Passion Pictures is best known for its commercials and decade-plus collaboration on Gorillaz with Jamie Hewlett and Damon Albarn. The studio has also produced Academy Award-winning animated shorts (The Lost Thing) and documentaries (Searching for Sugar Man).

The new Melbourne base will allow the company to work more closely with its Australian and New Zealand-based talent, including Julian Frost of “Dumb Ways to Die,” Parallel Teeth, John Robertson, 3D motion designers Mirari, and Finnish directing team Musuta, who also work out of Auckland, New Zealand.

For the past two years Mackin has been collaborating with ad agency VCCP Sydney on its Compare the Market campaign, and will now be producing films for the client in Australia. The first spot, “Undercover Sergei,” aired on February 15.

Katie Mackin.
Katie Mackin.

Mackin looks forward to employing emerging animation techniques such as real-time puppeteering. “Over the last few years Passion has been pioneering the use of real-time puppeteering in commercials production,” she said. “Our technology allows us to animate and render a full-CG film in real time, with an actor controlling the movement of a character by wearing a specially built suit. This not only cuts costs and production times, but also allows for brands’ characters to react to events live. The potential for that technology to be used in interactive advertising campaigns is endless.”

Mackin also says that hand-drawn work is considered ‘in’ again amongst advertisers: “As with any kind of advertising, animation does go through trends and lately we’ve seen a revival of hand-drawn, illustrated elements and traditional 2D animation used in mixed-media projects or perhaps animated in a 3D environment and rendered to look 2D.”

The new Melbourne outfit will remain a separate entity from Passion Pictures Australia, which focuses on long-form film production.

Latest News from Cartoon Brew