Press release from Well Above
Omnilab Media and Oktobor, its award winning visual effects, animation and digital creative convergence studio, today officially opened their new Auckland-based Computer Generated (CG) animation studio – Oktobor Animation, which it has created and launched in conjunction with Backyard Animated Pictures (USA).
The opening was attended by His Worship The Mayor of Auckland, Len Brown, the Hon. Dr. Wayne Mapp, Minister of Research, Science and Technology, Omnilab Media Managing Director Christopher Mapp, Nickelodeon Animation Studios Senior Vice President and General Manager Mark Taylor and other key members of industry, government and the media.
Held at Oktobor Animation’s studios in Auckland, festivities included an Iwi Blessing, PÅwhiri Welcome Ceremony and the world premiere of Oktobor Animation's first completed episode of DreamWorks' "Penguins of Madagascar".
Oktobor MD Bruce Everett said, “Oktobor Animation is a very significant CG animation business servicing the world famous Nickelodeon Studios. We are already creating multiple CG animated television series for them and I’m delighted to say we have already secured a long-term contract which will see Oktobor Animation have the great fortune of working on several high profile and highly rated television series including "The Penguins of Madagascar" based on the hit DreamWorks animated feature. Production has already commenced and currently our staff number 80. By mid-next year we expect to have a crew of over 120 artists and technicians. In fact, we anticipate Oktobor Animation will provide up to 300 jobs over the first four years.”
Oktobor Animation will also provide openings to the growing number of regional CG artists offering up to fifteen 3-month paid internships up to four times per year to top graduates of local NZQA schools and between 120-140 contract jobs at their Auckland facility.
The significant new CG animation studio is a first for New Zealand and comes as a result of many months planning and negotiation with both Nickelodeon and Backyard.
Everett continued, “It has been a long and worthwhile process bringing Oktobor Animation to life. We began initial discussions with Backyard and presented our proposal for Oktobor Animation to Nickelodeon early this year. I must say the Post, Digital and Visual Effects (PDV) rebate has been a key economic driver in helping us bring this business into the Auckland area. We have received invaluable assistance from the Ministry of Economic Development, as well as input from New Zealand Film Commission and Film New Zealand in order to make this business opportunity viable.”
Formed in 2001, Oktobor is a world-class visual effects and animation studio based in Auckland. Oktobor has a global reputation for providing high-end visual effects for television commercials and feature films, interactive and entertainment productions and also offers a comprehensive range of visual effects production services from animation to full colour grade and interactive media. Oktobor’s global client list includes, among others, Kraft Malaysia, McDonald’s, Vodafone, M1, Tiger Beer, Lexus, Sony and Singapore Airlines.
Formed in California in 1997 as a CG studio, Backyard has provided narrative content and services for clients including 20th Century Fox, EMI, Classic Media, and CCI and interactive content for some of the largest publishers in the world such as Electronic Arts and Activision. The previous management of Backyard is now working at Oktobor Animation with Chris Waters, Rob DiFiglia, Jason Adams and Dan Wang bringing their high-end animation pipeline and production expertise to the new venture.
Bruce Everett added, “Over the next three years Oktobor Animation will become an international hub for Nickelodeon’s rising number of CG productions giving Auckland a major international presence in the growing longform CG animation industry. Oktobor Animation will develop our existing technology-driven artist-efficient CG pipeline and a passionate commitment to regional talent development to provide the highest quality productions possible for a global audience. Oktobor Animation will also create a much-needed identity for the growing pool of CG artists in the Auckland region.”
Oktobor’s parent company Omnilab Media, Australia and New Zealand’s largest, privately owned, vertically integrated content development and media service business, is the driving force behind such ventures as Dr. D – the innovative new digital film-making studio with Dr. George Miller and KMM, which is working on Happy Feet 2 and Mad Max 4. Omnilab Media have also produced and co-financed recent blockbuster movies including The Bank Job, W, the twice Oscar nominated The Messenger and John Marsden’s Tomorrow When the War Began. They are also currently in production on The Killer Elite starring Jason Statham, Clive Owen and Robert De Niro.
Omnilab Media Managing Director Christopher Mapp said, “We are very proud of the launch of this exciting new CG animation studio in New Zealand. Oktobor Animation is inspired by the success of WETA whose success is owed in part to the strong commitment made by the New Zealand government to incentivise international producers to bring their films to the region. We believe there is a substantial opportunity to extend this success to the television VFX and animation arena by establishing Auckland as the viable and competitive production hub for longform CG animation. Hence our significant financial commitment in Oktobor Animation. We also have a strong belief in the New Zealand market as a whole and will continue to invest in more and projects as this vibrant market continues to develop.”
Bruce Everett concluded, “As we continue to attract the growing number of long-form CG-productions to Auckland, the local talent pool will mature into a solid artist community through rewarding production experience designed to see them succeed in helping create high-profile programmes. Oktobor Animation is able to provide quality services to clients and partners in the animation industry as well as offering compelling pricing in the competitive global arena. As more and more broadcast animated content transitions from traditional hand-drawn 2D production, which has a long established 40 year history in South Korea and other parts of Asia, to CG animation, Oktobor Animation will build on the reputation New Zealand has created through unparalleled feature VFX into longform CG animation. We are already well into our first three CG productions for Nickelodeon and I’m delighted to say, we are in advanced discussions on many others from interested studio and production partners around the world.”