There goes one now: Digital vision proves pigs can fly

Jul 22, 2022 at 11:34 pm by admin

It’s more than 30 years since word went around of an innovative animation project that was to find form as the story or a lovable pig that could – subject to a little cooperation – round up sheep.

Zareh Nalbandian’s work as special effects company on Babe – for Universal Pictures – opened up new horizons, creating an industry in which whatever you can imagine can be realised digitally, but back then his Animal Logic studio set a new standard. Multiple awards have followed, with Happy Feet, The Lego Movie, Peter Rabbit and Australian Baz Luhrmann’s The Great Gatsby also among the best-known.

The early years were those in which desktop publishing had provided a platform – and a market – for consumer-level painting and image manipulation tools, but also the processing power and RAM necessary to handle them.

At Bill Minnis’ Ink Magazine in South Melbourne, we were both a participant and observer. I remember recolouring Uluru – then still called Ayers Rock – for a magazine cover, and also reporting on new label art for a local bottled beer. Somehow we managed to publish the digitally-created image art before the ale was launched…too late to help the brewery with a request that the edition be pulped.

The work of Nalbandian and cofounder Chris Godfrey was part of that excitement. Later the studio was to move to Fox Studios in Sydney’s Moore Park, Sydney, in 1998, with Happy Feet its first full feature film.

Now, having grown it with Godfrey beyond Australia to sites in Vancouver and Los Angeles, and a staff numbering 800, partners are taking the opportunity to cash in with a sale to streaming giant Netflix.

The work goes on and the Australian team will continue to be involved with it. Toto, due for release in 2024, and Zero, Fortunately, the Milk, Infinitum Nihil, Astro Boy, The Magician's Elephant and The Shrinking of the Treehorn – the last two with Netflix – are among that in progress.

Peter Coleman

Sections: Digital business


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