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Curious Pictures Expands VFX Department

Curious Pictures visual effects department in New York has selected seven new computer graphics and vfx specialists for Curious ever-growing slate of branded entertainment projects. The new talent roster includes animators Seth Lippman of PDI/DreamWorks, Weta Digital and Sony Pictures Imageworks, who worked on SHREK 2, THE LORD OF THE RINGS and ANTZ, and Dr. John Alex, a former software engineer and technical director for Pixar, who led animation teams for TOY STORY 2, MONSTERS, INC. and FINDING NEMO, and wrote software applications for THE INCREDIBLES.

Chi-min Yang has also been brought in to lead CG art direction on all photoreal animation projects. He has been a lead animator at New York visual effects companies Psyop, Charlex, Brand New School, Nick Digital, BlinkFX, RhinoFX and Black Logic.

Other new CG hires include international animation artists from Brazil, Spain and Taiwan.

Curious Pictures is a very different company than it was two years ago, said Lewis Kofsky, head of computer graphics and visual effects. The scope and complexity of the work were producing has made us look beyond the New York market, so weve been aggressively recruiting the best talent from around the world over the past year. Were attracting top-tier talent and some of this years best graduates who are drawn to the quality and volume of work were producing. Our new additions now enable us to work on high-end long-form and feature productions along side our thriving commercial pipeline.

Hiring talent from India, Taiwan, Korea and Japan has opened our animation pipeline to creatives we would not have otherwise discovered, added David Starr, exec producer for Branded Ent. Animators and art directors from all of these countries are filling specialty niches at Curious Pictures in New York.

In addition to the new hires, Curious has greatly expanded their internal capacity with new technology. Curious is the only New York City-based commercial animation studio with a motion capture stage and has the largest and most sophisticated workstation pool in the city.

Relying on our new technical expertise and cutting edge technology purchases, weve built very efficient production pipelines in both film and episodic production, said Kofsky. Drawing on our expertise in many areas of animation and visual FX, we are able to take the strengths of large west coast studios and combine them with the savvy and creativity of New York City production. This frees artists from technical hurdles and allows them to push new looks and deliver the highest quality product on tight deadlines.

Kofsky now heads a team of 120 digital artists that occupies part of the 30,000-square-foot space at Curious headquarters in downtown Manhattan. With a soundstage equipped with motion control and a full shop 110 digital workstations and 50 traditional workstations Curious is able to maintain a deep talent pool. The team is equipped for live-action invisible effects, stop motion, cel animation, high design and computer-generated 2D/3D.

The following creatives are also new to Curious Pictures:

* Joao Amorim (animation performance supervisor) is a 3D artist with vast international experience. Originally from Brazil, Amorim has worked in 3D for more than 11 years in a variety of studios around the world, including Alias, Liquid TV, Mega Studios and BNS. Amorim has worked as an animator, CG lead and vfx supervisor on a wide range of commercials, music videos and films. Hes currently a motion capture/animation supervisor at Curious as well as an animation professor for the MFA program at Parsons and NYU.

* Dustin Lindblad (designer) is a filmmaker with a background in visual arts, computer graphics and architectural design. Lindblads award-winning film Tao, created for Vancouver dance choreographer Wen Wei Wang, has been screened internationally, and his animated short Célésais was given an Honorable Mention at SIGGRAPH Space 2004.

* Julio Soto (CG artist) and film director whose artistic talent and vision have played a key role in advertising and music video for such agencies as McCann Erikson, Propaganda Films, Ogilvy, Bates USA, Grey Advertising and FCB. His films have received international recognition and awards such as Best Film at the 2002 Brooklyn International Film Festival, First Prize at the NAP Video Biennial in Pasadena, Best Experimental Film at Toronto Latino Film Festival and the Jury Award at the 2003 Media Arts Festival Japan. Sotos work has been shown extensively at film festivals such as Clermont-Ferrand, Viper Basel, Impakt, Oberhausen, Hamburg, Nemo and Kasseler.

* Ray Forziati (pipeline technical director) is a graduate of the Digital Media Design program at the University of Pennsylvania, and attended the computer animation MFA program at USC School of Cinema-Television. At Penn, Forziati was chair of the student chapter of the worldwide SIGGRAPH organization, which had more than 100 members, and he ran its local animation department. Forziati completed a senior thesis on aging virtual environments and an independent study in efficient FX rendering.

Curious Pictures (www.curiouspictures.com) is touted as being the largest animation studio in New York and the home to award winning creators of animated television series, television commercials and celebrated animated characters in picture books and television. Curious incorporates elements of animation, design, production and brand strategy in creating successful branded entertainment for Mattel and AOL as well as in commercials for Target, Steve Madden, General Motors, Burger King, Cartoon Network, Nickelodeon and hundreds of other companies.

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