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Sony Pictures Animation and RISE CoE Partnering on Pre-Production Innovation R&D

The studio behind Oscar-winning ‘Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse’ is teaming with Cyprus-based CG research center to explore new front-end animation production technology using machine learning and advanced 3D.

Sony Pictures Animation, the studio that brought us the Academy Award-winning animated feature, Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse, has signed a partnership agreement with Cyprus-based Research Centre on Interactive Media, Smart Systems and Emerging Technologies – RISE Centre of Excellence to explore technological advances to enhance the creative process for filmmakers and artists working on the front-end of animation production.

Sony Pictures Animation and RISE CoE will collaborate to develop technological advances to assist in the early stages of production, including storyboarding.

During the pre-production phase of animation, story artists create hundreds of thousands of storyboards, critical components that lay out a film’s story, visually communicating ideas and exploring high-level concepts and specific story beats before the show moves into physical production.

Through the partnership, RISE will contribute highly skilled researchers from the Computer Graphics and Machine Learning domains to collaborate with SPA’s technical team in developing new technology that will allow artists to be nimbler and more efficient in the creation of storyboards for animated features, shorts, and series. Both parties will combine technical expertise in an effort to develop a set of prototype tools that will utilize advanced 3D and Machine Learning techniques that have the potential to revolutionize the industry, empowering storyboard artists by reducing iteration time and allowing them to focus on the creative.

Yiotis Katsambas, Director of Technology for Sony Pictures Animation, said of the partnership, “As we strive for higher-quality storytelling, our goal is to create technology that allows artists to be more creative. We do that by introducing smart tools that allow artists to explore creative ideas in ways that weren’t practical or even possible in the past.”

The partnership is the result of a close personal connection Katsambas has with Cyprus. A native of Nicosia, Katsambas has been recognized with several accolades from his home country, including the Cyprus Man of the Year in Arts (2008), and the Nicosia Honorary Medal (2019), awarded by the mayor of Nicosia for his technical achievements at Sony Pictures Animation and for his contribution to the making of Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse. Katsambas was also the recipient of the Hollywood Post Alliance Engineering Excellence Award (2013) for his role in the creation of industry standard pre-production software Flix.

“We are proud of SPA’s trust in us to form this collaboration and we are hopeful that by sharing best practices and combining our expertise we will help enhance the industry and its technologies,” Yiorgos Chrysanthou, Research Director of RISE, said.

“The collaboration with SPA, one of the most creative animation studios in the world, ties into the fundamental goal of RISE to realize ideas from research labs into innovative and practical solutions for the real world. RISE is highly committed and has the skills and expertise in Computer Graphics and Animation, Computer Vision and Machine Learning to offer,” said Dr. Panayiotis Charalambous (team leader of the RISE V-EUPNEA: Living, Breathing Virtual Worlds MRG) who is leading these efforts, in close collaboration with RISE team leaders Dr. Alessandro Artusi (DeepCamera MRG) and Dr. Vassilis Vassiliades (LEAR MRG).

Source: Sony Pictures Animation