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Disney Launching New Animation Studio in Vancouver

Set to open next January, facility will focus on long-form shows and projects for Disney+, starting with the ‘Moana’ musical series; Burbank studio plans to increase staff and remain exclusive home of feature film projects and shorter form series such as recently announced ‘Zootopia+.’

Walt Disney Animation Studios (WDAS) president Clark Spencer (Encanto, Zootopia) has just announced the studio is opening a new Vancouver, British Columbia facility to help handle its growing slate of Disney+ projects. The new studio will focus on long-form series work and special projects created for the streamer, beginning with the musical series Moana, produced by Osnat Shurer (Moana, Raya and the Last Dragon) and set to debut in 2024.

The Burbank studio plans to expand from its current staff of 900+ artists as it will remain WDAS’ exclusive home for feature film projects as well as shorter form series such as the recently announced Baymax and Zootopia+. Story development, storyboarding and production design for all projects will be based in Burbank.  

“Disney Animation is creating more original storytelling for Disney+, expanding into series for the first time in our history with Iwájú, Tiana, Moana, Baymax and Zootopia+,” says Jennifer Lee, WDAS’ Chief Creative Officer. “As we continue to grow our original slate of projects, there are more creative, artistic and technological opportunities than at any previous time.” 

“With Burbank and Vancouver both home to some of the world’s most talented artists and technicians, we believe the storytelling and visual quality created within each location will meet the incredibly high standards we set for ourselves, and audiences have come to expect from Disney Animation,” says Spencer. 

Amir Nasrabadi will serve as Head of Walt Disney Animation Studios, Vancouver. A respected industry veteran, Nasrabadi most recently served as EVP/General Manager at WildBrain Studios. Previous roles include overseeing Pixar Canada as VP/General Manager as well as senior leadership roles with Illumination and Paramount Animation. His role with Walt Disney Animation Studios marks a return to the studio, where he served as a Finance lead.

“I am so honored and excited to be joining the Disney family again,” says Nasrabadi.  “I can’t wait to dive in and collaborate with the talented teams at Disney Animation on a new slate of projects for Disney+ starting with Moana.  I continue to be amazed at the high-level of artistry and technical advancements coming out of the animation industry here in Vancouver and I am so proud to be a part of this community.  This is really a dream come true for me.” 

The studio is targeting to officially open in January 2022 and has already begun recruiting.

Source: Walt Disney Animation Studios

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Dan Sarto is Publisher and Editor-in-Chief of Animation World Network.