Animal Logic sets up Canadian base

Animal Logic is expanding so quickly that its Sydney headquarters and the pool of visual effects and animation artists in Australia aren’t big enough to accommodate the workload.

Hence the move to launch Animal Logic Vancouver, a 450,000 square feet (41,806 square metres) facility which will exclusively handle animated films for Warner Bros.

Located in the city’s Yaletown creative precinct, the studio will open in September and by mid-2016 will have 300 employees, the vast majority locals.

Animal Logic CEO and co-founder Zareh Nalbandian tells IF he is making a considerable investment in the facility but he has the financial comfort of a 3-picture deal with WB which will entail four years of production.

The LEGO Movie sequel, written by the creators of the original hit, Phil Lord and Christopher Miller, will begin production in January. It’s the feature directing debut of Rob Schrab (Community, Parks and Recreation, The Mindy Project).

The next two projects are in development.

Explaining the rationale for the expansion to Canada, he says, “We could increase our physical capacity in Sydney but there is a limited number of crew, although we are discussing with a Sydney university the setting up of a training program for visual effects and animation artists.

“When we audited the countries for a new studio, Canada ticked all the boxes for its large pool of technical talent, federal and state incentives, and cultural fit. Vancouver is in the same time zone as Los Angeles (where he spends half the year) and it’s a two and a half hour flight.

“We will be able to offer employees long-term contracts. There will be a lot of knowledge transfer as we send key people to Vancouver to seed the operation and train management. We expect to hire mostly local crew.”

Among the incentives in British Columbia are a 33% labour-based Production Services Tax Credit for international film and TV productions and a 17.5% Digital Animation and Visual Effects credit.

Chris deFaria, President, Animation, Digital Production and Visual Effects, Warner Bros. Pictures said: “Animal Logic has helped bring some of our most popular animated titles to life and we’re excited to be working even closer with them via this new venture. Their expertise and excellence are recognized industry-­â€wide, and we know they’ll continue to bring their magic to our films.”

In Sydney, Animal Logic is the feature animation studio for WB’s The LEGO Batman Movie and Ninjago, which are in production and due to be released in 2017.

The LEGO Batman Movie will feature the character voiced in the original by Will Arnett and is being directed by Chris McKay.

Charlie Bean is directing Ninjago, based on the Cartoon Network animated series of the same name. A third WB animated movie is in negotiation.

Among the films Animal Logic Entertainment is developing is Betty Boop, a music-driven, hybrid live action/animated comedy, the first in a co-venture with Simon Cowell’s Syco Entertainment.

Astro Boy, a live-action, sci-fi superhero movie based on the robot created by manga artist Osamu Tezuka, is in development with US-based Ranger 7 Films.

Writers are attached to both projects but directors won't be hired until after the producers find  suitable homes for both films.

As deputy chair of Ausfilm, Nalbandian has not given up on the campaign to try to persuade the government to raise the uncompetitive 16.5% location offset to 30%.

Treasury is opposed to any measure that would result in a loss of revenue but Zareh is convinced there would be a positive economic impact.

He quotes modelling which shows a 30% offset would attract additional offshore production worth $200 million- $400 million annually.