I'm going to be doing a little more coverage of the various production centres around the country. Seeing as I am inherently a lazy creature, I'm starting with my own back yard: Ottawa.
This is by no means a comprehensive listing, just word of mouth and some chats.
We do ok in Ottawa. It's a relatively healthy industry with a long tradition. Our heyday was arguably somewhere in the late mid nineties. We've had our fair share of cautionary tales, tracing back to the Crawley days. But today, we've got a few mid size shops that generally keep our talent employed.
My list reads like this: Pip Animation, Mercury Filmworks, Amberwood, Boomstone, Big Jump, Fuel, and now: Kratt Bros.
That's really the big news in Ottawa these days. The Kratt Brothers, of Zooboomafoo and Kratt's Creatures. I don't have a ton of details yet, but word is they're opening a 2D shop out in Kanata. They'll be working in Harmony, rather than Flash, same as the folks at Mercury. They're not up and running yet, but May/June is what I'm hearing. The Kratts are known for being very involved in their productions, which can be tough, but a new shop in town, while creating more competition for Harmony-using artists, is great news.
Pip seeems pretty busy. I understand they've moved out of their old digs at the City Centre building, but I haven't been out to the new location yet. Pip are hard at work on Bob and Doug. They're doing 15 episodes, which should keep them busy til June, then a gap and 7 more episodes with hopefully more to come. They're also doing a series of shorts, 60 Second Science, for Title Entertainment, Frank Taylor's shingle. There are 9 on the go right now with maybe 26 in all to be commisioned. I've been told they've got a few demos on the go as well, but the big announcement is, starting in May, 80 episodes of the Cat in the Hat. This one is through Portfolio, and it's a huge feather in Pip's cap.
Big Jump is busy doing full production on Amberwood's Benjamin Bear. Rick Morrison informed me that they're cranking out 13 22 minute episodes which should keep them busy through the bulk of 2009.
Boomstone I'm still waiting to hear back from. I know it's been a bumpy year for them, with the departure of workhorse Rich Vanatte. But Lee Williams always has something going on, so I won't count these guys out.
Rich worked for a little while at March Entertainment's small satellite studio out in Kanata. I hear they've wrapped, but I'll keep asking to see if anything else starts up.
Mercury Filmworks is in a little downtime right now. These guys have been steady employers for a good long time here in Ottawa, and I'm told they'll be ramping up on Kid Knievel. No dates yet for this Disney show. As the other Harmony shop in town, the easily frightened are talking shakeups and a big talent drain as Kratts ramp up, but for I'm inclined to wait and see for myself.
Amberwood has scaled back to mainly being a production office and farming out the art chores to guys like Big Jump and Elliot Animation in Toronto. They're delivering episodes of Rollbots, have Benjamin Bear on the go, and have entered into a copro deal with a Singapore shop (One Studio?) on a 3D preschool show called Rob the Robot. Scripts, music and post will be here, with the rest of the work being done overseas. This is Amberwood's new model, and it appears to be working for them.
I know there's smaller stuff around too. Nick Cross has finished up his half of the Angora Napkin pilot for Teletoon. I've heard rumblings of some animation maybe from Dave Cooper. There's another little shop on the horizon called Digital Henchmen. They're working on a music video right now.
I'm supposed to be heading over to Fuel later this week, so hopefully more to report from them. Grapevine over there says longer form animation to add to their already impressive reputation in games and online services.
That's what I'm hearing right now. Anyone reading who can say otherwise, or add to it, please do!
Digital Henchmen Launch Party - Had a chance to stop in at the Digital Henchmen launch party last Thursday night @ Club SAW here in Ottawa. Didn't see too many from the animation comm...