Sydney-based company Animal Logic will lead the animation and visual effects work on the $65 million Walking with Dinosaurs 3D feature film over the next two years as well as convert the final Harry Potter instalment to 3D.

Walking with Dinosaurs 3D will be directed by Pierre De Lespinois from Alaska-based 3D studio Evergreen Films and Neil Nightingale from BBC Earth. Australia's John Collee (Master and Commander: The Far Side of the World) joined the production in the past few weeks and will write the script.

Nightingale said new paleontological discoveries and advances in 3D technology had inspired the film, based on the popular BBC series, which will be aimed at the family market.

"Pierre, my co-director, has developed really cutting edge technology to be able to combine real live environments, real live back plates, that represent those environments from the cretaceous period with the photo-real animation of Animal Logic," he said.

"You will believe you're … in a movie and you're absolutely there with real animals – that has not been possible until very recently."

The announcement was made today by NSW Premier Kristina Keneally at Animal Logic’s headquarters at Fox Studios and included six other film and TV productions which will either be based in NSW or have work conducted in the State. The productions are expected to create $80 million of investment across NSW.

“It means 800 jobs for actors, visual effects specialists, writers, technicians and carpenters in the film industry,” the Premier said.

The local industry, and NSW in particular, has been struggling to attract big offshore productions and VFX work as the value of the Australian dollar has climbed to record levels. Animal Logic has been working on securing Walking with Dinosaurs 3D for more than six months.

“Coming here was actually more expensive for us to do it than in the United States,” De Lespinois said, ”but we were determined to work with Animal Logic and New South Wales [government] made the difference in us coming here.”

The productions were lured to NSW with the government’s $20 million Film Fund and the Industries Assistance Fund although Keneally declined to reveal how much the State had spent.

The industry is also expecting an announcement on Baz Luhrmann’s next project: an adaptation of F. Scott Fitzgerald’s classic novel, The Great Gatsby.

“We’re not going to show our hand at the moment because we’re in negotiations with a few other projects,” Keneally said when asked about the production. “I do like F. Scott Fitzgerald.”

Meanwhile, Animal Logic will also produce photo-real 3D animation and VFX for a theatrical short feature called Home – a pilot for a large budget animation. The project will employ about 40 people.

Animal Logic has worked on films such as Happy Feet, The Matrix, Moulin Rouge, Australia, 300 and recently released its own ground-breaking 3D production, Legend of the Guardians: The Owls of Ga'Hoole.

The government also announced that Sydney-based effects company Fuel VFX is working on three major Hollywood productions: Ridley Scott’s 3D feature Prometheus (employing over 40 people), Thor and Captain America: The First Avenger (supporting 35 jobs) while two TV series are set to be filmed in Sydney: the next Underbelly series titled Razor (employing 120 cast, 65 crew and 800 extras) and the 22-part ABC legal series Crownies (supporting approximately 200 cast, 125 crew and 1800 extras).

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