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Mainframe Studios Celebrates 30 Years of Animation

Studio milestones include creating and producing the first fully-CG TV series ‘Reboot’ and the first large-scale toon shaded CG series ‘Spider-Man: The New Animated Series.’

Mainframe Studios celebrates its 30th anniversary this year.  The industry pioneer has grown into a global animation powerhouse, producing both premium original content and top quality shows for many of the industry’s biggest names, including Mattel; Sony Pictures; Spin Master; Hasbro; DreamWorks; Netflix; and YouTube.

Founded in 1993, Mainframe created and produced the first fully-CG TV series, ReBoot in 1994, and then produced Spider-Man: The New Animated Series for MTV, the first large-scale, toon-shaded CG series. In 2001, Mainframe Studios was the first to use motion-capture technology for animation and built their own state-of-the-art mocap theater.  Mainframe also produced ReBoot: The Guardian Code, the studio’s first live action production and one of the first TV series rendered using Unreal Engine, delivering in 4K. 

In total, the Vancouver-based studio has produced well over 1,000 television half hour episodes, 70+ long form projects that include three theatrical feature films, along with content for big brands such as Octonauts, Madagascar, and CoComelon. Over Mainframe’s nearly 25-year relationship (60+ projects) with Mattel, the studio has delivered numerous Barbie titles, including movies, series, shorts, and the Barbie Vlog, as well as the first interactive adventure, Barbie: Epic Road Trip.

Mainframe’s other notable accomplishments include its addition to the Smithsonian’s Innovation Collection for creating the first CG animated TV series; producing the first non-theatrical animated feature, Casper’s Haunted Christmas; launching a relationship with Silvergate Media (now Sony Pictures Television  Kids) with three feature-length productions: Octonauts and the Caves of Sac Actun, Octonauts & the Great Barrier Reef, and Octonauts & The Ring of Fire; along with producing the Madagascar: A Little Wild series for DreamWorks Animation and Team Zenko Go, the studio’s first co-production with DreamWorks Animation.

The studio, founded on its own IP ReBoot (1994), continues to produce original content. In 2012 the company produced Escape From Planet Earth, a theatrical feature film developed in-house that went earned $75 million in worldwide box office, and followed that success with the Ratchet & Clank feature film released in 2016. The studio recently released its first 2D original series, The Guava Juice Show, produced with YouTube Originals. Mainframe is currently producing The EggVenturers in partnership with GoldieBlox for YouTube, along with Coyote & The WildAways, working with Coyote Peterson whose Brave Wilderness YouTube channel has 20M subscribers.

“With our 30-year track record of Mainframe Studios producing some of the most iconic animated properties, we approach every day like a startup - challenging ourselves to deliver new and exciting creative innovation to every project we undertake,” says Michael Hefferon, President/Chief Creative Officer.

Kim Dent Wilder, Executive Vice President, said, “As we celebrate our 30th anniversary, we’re proud of the impact that Mainframe Studios has had on helping to shape the animation industry, including being a catalyst for many studios started over the years whose founders are Mainframe alumni.”

“Collaborating with Mainframe over the years to provide fans of the iconic Barbie brand with highly entertaining, animated content has been a true pleasure,” said Christopher Keenan, SVP Creative & Executive Producer at Mattel Television. “With several of our latest projects, including Barbie: Epic Road Trip and Barbie Mermaid Power ranking impressively on global streaming platforms, we are proud to be working with Mainframe and to be celebrating our relationship of nearly thirty years.”

Joe D’Ambrosia, EVP & General Manager, Sony Pictures Television-Kids stated, “Our relationship with Mainframe has spanned multiple series and specials over 5+ years.  They continue to be collaborative partners in producing top quality animation and helping to build our brands.  We look forward to our continued work together.” 

“In a business where trust is built over time, Mainframe’s longevity is a testament to the studio’s quality of work and its partnership approach with clients,” stated Andy Heyward, Chairman & CEO Genius Brands International. 

Source: Mainframe Studios

Whitney Whitener's picture

Whitney is a freelance writer focusing on VFX-driven fantasy film & TV as well as preschool animation.