Berlin, Germany-based animation studio, Hahn Film is launching production studios in Taiwan and Vietnam. Each studio will employ about 150 people, and will be devoted to digital ink and paint services, initially for Hahn projects, but may branch out to service other studios in the future. The first studio, called Saigon Graphics Enterprises, in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam, is already up and running, working on the production of the animated series "Wild Life," which is being distributed by Hit Entertainment and is pre-sold to the Fox Family Channel (U.S.), the BBC and Nickelodeon (U.K.).
A new three-year agreement between the Screen Actors Guild (SAG), representing voice-over performers working in television animation, and the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers (AMPTP), representing 108 television animation producers, has been approved by the Guilds National Board of Directors. The deal is a final version of one that was announced in August [AF 8/11/98], when it represented only 60 animation producers, and was still pending approval by SAG member performers.
At its membership meeting on September 29, the Motion Picture Screen Cartoonists and Affiliated Optical Electronic and Graphic Arts, Local 839 IATSE re-elected the following officers, who were nominated without opposition: President: Tom Sito, Vice-President: George Sukara, Business Representative: Steve Hulett, Recording Secretary: Jeff Massie, Sergeant-At-Arms: Jan Browning.
Glendale, California-based animation and development studio, Creative Capers Entertainment has partnered with Dallas, Texas-based content delivery system company, Rapture Technologies, to form a new company. The 50/50 joint venture, called Digital Doorway, will be based in Glendale and focus on production and marketing of interactive gaming, entertainment and educational titles for the PC, console, hand-held and online markets.
Czech production and distribution company Kratky Film Praha a.s., which owns the Bratri v triku and Jiri Trnka animation studios, has been substantially restructured. The company has been struggling financially since 1994, and has been facing possible bankruptcy since 1997, a measure prevented by a recent investment from insurance company Ceska Pojistovna, now the majority shareholder in Kratky Film. The restructuring has also caused a management shake-out.
Toronto, Canada-based animation company Nelvana Limited has completed the acquisition of 100% of the shares of Kids Can Press Ltd., a Canadian publisher of children's books. One of Kids Cans properties is Franklin, the story of a turtle which Nelvana has already turned into an animated series. The $6.1 million (CAN) acquisition now gives Nelvana access to Kids Cans library of over 250 children's book titles. One of these, titled Elliot Moose, is currently being developed for an animated television series.
In June, Avid Technologies bought Softimage [AF 6/17/98], combining two powers of digital production and 3D graphics. Not to be outdone, in a similar yet reversed situation, San Rafael, California-based Autodesk, Inc. (Nasdaq: ADSK) has announced plans to acquire Montreal, Canada-based Discreet Logic (Nasdaq: DSLGF). Autodesk is the parent company of Kinetix, makers of 3D graphics and animation software such as 3D StudioMAX and Character Studio. The merger had some foreshadowing, as Kinetix and Discreet Logic announced a product integration partnership in March [AF 4/7/98].
The Vital! International Animation Festival (formerly known as Cardiff) is closing its doors due to financial losses incurred at its latest edition in June 1998. This years festival director Jane Williams has left the organization, and the board of directors is now responsible for managing a debt which sources said amounts to approximately (U.K.) £25,000.
The Writers Guild of America has forged an agreement with Twentieth Century Fox to cover writers working on prime-time animated shows The Simpsons, King of the Hill, Futurama and Family Guy. This is of great significance for animation writers and WGAs Animation Writers Caucus, because it gives animation writers on these shows the same benefits as their live-action counterparts, such as mandatory payment for re-writes and access to the WGA health insurance plan.