Cinesite has reshaped its production and technology leadership with one new appointment and three key promotions.
Hank Driskill has been hired as group head of CG for feature animation. He comes over from Blue Sky Studios. In his new role he will be responsible for leading the CG supervisors as well as shaping the workflow and working practices for Cinesite’s feature animation teams. Driskill has over three decades of experience, with 20-plus years in senior technology positions. Prior to Blue Sky Studios, he spent 20 years at Walt Disney Animation Studios as part of the studio’s leadership, serving as technical supervisor on films such as Bolt, Big Hero 6 and Moana. He embarked on his professional career at Digital Domain, where he helped bring films such as Apollo 13, Dante’s Peak, Fifth Element and Titanic to life.
Additionally Cinesite has promoted Holger Voss to group head of CG for visual effects, Alexander Savenko to group head of production technology, and Danny Smith to group head of infrastructure technology.
Voss will focus on leading the VFX workflow and tailoring Cinesite’s pipeline to meet the needs of VFX production. Emmy Award-winner Voss has been a pivotal member of Cinesite’s team for 17 years; his technical knowledge is integral to Cinesite creating innovative, made to measure visual effects for every production it works on.
Having initially studied computer media science in Stuttgart in 1998, Voss gained valuable industry experience in motion capture and technical direction, progressing through the ranks to become lead TD and visual effects supervisor for productions including Rocketman, Lost in Space (season 2), Independence Day: Resurgence and most recently MGM’s forthcoming Aretha Franklin biopic Respect.
Savenko will be leading pipeline development strategies across the production technology group. He began his VFX career with Cinesite as a talented young developer in 2003, having completed his doctorate in computer science at Moscow University the previous year. He went on to progress through the pipeline department working as a 3D technical director, a senior technical director before becoming head of CG pipeline. In 2013 he joined MPC as a software lead for rendering, helping teams to deliver award-winning blockbusters like Jungle Book, Guardians of the Galaxy and Maleficent. Savenko re-joined Cinesite in 2015 and has been a key player in software development and systems architecture across Cinesite’s expanding studio footprint.
Smith is a specialist in systems infrastructure technologies within the VFX industry. He joined Cinesite in 1996 and has worked for the studio periodically for many years while co-owning an independent support business working for a wide range of TV and film VFX houses. Smith returned to Cinesite in 2017 having previously been head of systems technology at Cinesite London. In his new group wide position as head of infrastructure technology, he will be responsible for spearheading a unified approach to core infrastructure design and deployment in VFX and feature animation divisions across the Cinesite Group. Smith will be providing technical leadership, supervision and mentoring to the senior technical members of the systems group and the systems development team. Prior to re-joining Cinesite, Smith was head of technical operations at Framestore London.
Over the past five years Cinesite has emerged as a leading independent entertainment service studio, expanding to include the Image Engine and Trixter brands. These three promotions and the hiring of Driskill reflect the company’s growing maturity and its endeavors to consolidate expertise across the group.
“I am very excited to welcome Hank to the Cinesite team and to announce the well-deserved promotions of Holger, Alexander and Danny, who have made major contributions to Cinesite over several years through their dedication, vision and teamwork,” commented Cinesite CTO Michele Sciolette. “In recent years we have been working to integrate our studios to give our clients the ability to tap into integrated global capacity, technology and talent anywhere in the world, while offering a high-quality local experience. As Cinesite continues to expand, we are eager to accelerate this effort and to take our VFX and feature animation global pipeline and infrastructure to the next level, consolidating our efforts across our studios, connecting as one company, and growing our global strategy together. This new group-focused leadership team will shape and implement our strategy in collaboration with the exceptional talent in each one of our studios.”
Cinesite, Image Engine and Trixter are currently in production on the Warner Bros. live-action features Fantastic Beasts 3, Space Jam: A New Legacy and The Suicide Squad, The Witcher (season 2) and a yet to be announced feature film for Netflix as well as The Addams Family 2 and Respect for MGM, The North Water for BBC Films, Blazing Samurai and Hitpig for Aniventure, and Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings for Marvel to name a few.