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Syndicate Marks 5th Anniversary With Freixenet Winery Spot for Scorsese

The Syndicate recently wrapped vfx production on THE KEY TO RESERVA, a seven-minute commercial film for the Spanish winery Freixenet under famed director Martin Scorsese. The short will have a theatrical and broadcast release in Europe and the U.S.

Earlier this year, meanwhile, The Syndicate enjoyed a similar collaboration with Scorsese and Visual Effects Supervisor Rob Legato on the Rolling Stones feature film SHINE A LIGHT. The television movie OPRAH WINFREY PRESENTS: MITCH ALBOM'S FOR ONE MORE DAY, adapted from Albom's best selling book and produced by Harpo Films, will also feature vfx work by The Syndicate.

Not a bad way for the creative design and digital production studio to celebrate its fifth anniversary this month, marking its most successful year to date. A division of The ComputerCafe Group, which also encompasses feature film visual effects company CafeFX and feature film development and production unit Sententia, The Syndicate was formed in 2002 to tap into the commercial and television markets and provide diversity and synergy for the corporation.

Since that time, The Syndicate has more than doubled its operation. Originally occupying 7,000 square feet in its Santa Monica location, the studio has expanded to a total of 16,500 square feet, including a fifth-floor penthouse with a view of the Pacific.

The Syndicate's staff has grown from 20 to almost 50 as the studio expanded the range of services it offers to top advertising agencies, networks and studios. In addition to its initial award-winning telecine and visual effects capabilities, The Syndicate now provides fully packaged creative design and branding, live action direction and production, on-set visual effects supervision, a full team of CG artists and animators and two Flame suites.

The past year has also seen a noteworthy collaboration between The Syndicate's Creative Director, David Hwang, and ESPN. Hwang set the look for the entire cable network across all major sports events, including a highly cinematic, effects-intensive open and broadcast package for MONDAY NIGHT FOOTBALL, a bold new identity for the franchise. Extending The Syndicate's creative partnership with ESPN, Hwang created another branded on-air package for ESPN's newest sports franchise, the highly rated NASCAR. Hwang also designed on-air information graphics for ESPN's Major League Baseball, NCAA football and basketball, Major League Soccer and the SCRIPPS NATIONAL SPELLING BEE, as well as the Fox Sports broadcast of the RED BULL AIR RACES.

With the end-to-end production of the YOU ARE HERE commercial campaign for Six Flags theme parks and the Zimmerman Agency, The Syndicate signaled its intention to provide clients with concept and design, through live-action production, visual effects and finishing. The Syndicate's Ben Grossmann-directed the spots and was also was responsible for casting, still photography, visual effects design and supervision.

Other visual effects-driven spots include ADT for Doner with director Simon West, VO5 for agency Element 79, Holiday Inn Express for Fallon, and a theatrically released spot for Ray-Ban through Chuck McBride's newly formed agency Cutwater.

The Syndicate was honored with two BDA Awards for FORD LANDING and ESPN MONDAY NIGHT FOOTBALL and an MVPA Award for Best Colorist/Telecine won by Director of Telecine Beau Leon for his work on the music video WELCOME TO THE BLACK PARADE by My Chemical Romance. Identifying the rising talent that will shape the industry in the coming years, THE HOLLYWOOD REPORTER singled out The Syndicate's Director and Visual Effects Supervisor Ben Grossmann for recognition in its prestigious 2007 Next Generation issue.

Jeff Barnes, CEO of CafeFX and The ComputerCafe Group, said, "We have been thrilled with The Syndicate's success. They have been the perfect addition to our group of companies and have made us one of the most versatile and talented full-service creative studios in the entertainment business today."

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