• Thursday, Feb. 6, 2020
Katie Hooten named head of studio at Technicolor Pre-Pro Studio
Katie Hooten

Technicolor has named Katie Hooten as head of studio at its Pre-Production Studio in Los Angeles.

The Technicolor Pre-Production Studio was launched last year as a resource for filmmakers, creating a seamless pipeline for feature projects--from concept art, visualization and real-time production, through to final VFX. This ensures that a storyteller’s vision carries through to the end exactly as intended, while saving time and resources along the way for a more efficient, in-control filmmaking process.

An industry veteran with 20 plus years of feature film experience in live-action, animation, VFX, and immersive entertainment, Hooten first joined Technicolor’s MPC Art Department as creative producer after appointments at Blur Studio, The Third Floor, and Walt Disney Feature Animation. Her recent producing work includes Love, Death + Robots with director Tim Miller as well as visualization for some of the largest franchises in the feature space. She partnered with creatives on the breakout hit Hoodwinked which challenged the model of traditional animated filmmaking and kicked off a wave of indie animation that continues today.

In her role as head of studio, Hooten will manage the LA team at the Pre-Production Studio, providing top talent, tools, and workflows for Art Department and Visualization services, as well as real-time production and VFX.

Reporting to Hooten are: 

  • The Art Department, which works closely with clients to understand their vision, creating artwork--including characters, creatures, props, and environments--that reflects that vision and sets the tone for the project.
  • And Visualization and Real-Time Production, which also works closely with clients to digitally perfect their visions before they hit the set by leveraging the latest visualization tools and techniques; then seamlessly transitioning to collaborative workflows that provide real-time creative control over every aspect of a project.

Also based at the L.A. studio are: VFX supervisors, who offer award-caliber creative leadership across all aspects of VFX on a project, whether delivered by Technicolor’s industry-leading studios or third-party vendors; and Business Development, which partners with clients, from project budgeting to consulting on VFX methodologies, to help plan and prepare projects for a smooth transition into VFX--while supporting Technicolor’s VFX studios; MPC, Mill Film, MR. X and Mikros VFX.

Working closely with Hooten in this latter department is Jazz Flood, global business development. Flood has been a key member of the team for nearly 10 years, recently moving from London to Los Angeles to head up Business Development, and instrumental in securing projects such as Blade Runner 2049, Dumbo, and Call of the Wild.

The Pre-Production Studio is standalone from Technicolor’s visual effects brands--MPC, Mill Film, MR. X and Technicolor VFX--yet can work cooperatively with one or any combination of them to design an individualized production plan, regardless of project size, budget, format or creative aesthetic.

  • Wednesday, Feb. 5, 2020
The Colonie launches color grading division, hires Jennifer Gaida
Jennifer Gaida

The Colonie has added colorist Jennifer Gaida to its team. Her hiring marks the launch of the Chicago-based company’s color grading division, rounding out the one-stop editing, design, and postproduction boutique’s full-roster of high-end services and talent.

Gaida exited Energy BBDO’s Flare and officially joined The Colonie staff at the beginning of the year. A previous three-year stint at Utopic honed her skills as both a colorist and editor. Her addition to The Colonie’s team of editors, designers, creative directors, animators, producers, visual effects artists and finishers provides clients with an accessible collective of top-tier talent--all under one roof.

Her credits include color grading broadcast commercials and social media campaigns for a mix of national brands, such as Starbucks, Porsche, Revlon, and Pantene. Gaida has also been called on to color grade a variety of independent projects, including the short films Milk Shake and Networking Lunch, as well as several music videos, such as the recently released “Stayed Down” featuring Twista.

Gaida has settled into The Colonie’s new Blackmagic DaVinci Resolve suite and hit the ground running, completing projects for Perrier, Cresco, La Mer, Walmart, HP, and a Toyota campaign out of Burrell Communications. 

“In 2020, we plan to continue building The Colonie’s team of out-of-the-box creative thinkers and providing innovative solutions for every size screen while getting the most out of each budget. Our goal is to keep raising the bar and bringing exceptional talent on board. The addition of Jennifer does just that,” said company partner and sr. editor Brian Sepanik.

  • Tuesday, Feb. 4, 2020
BaconX adds Eliana Carranza-Pitcher as COO and EP
Eliana Carranza-Pitcher

Danish VFX, post and color studio BaconX has brought Eliana Carranza-Pitcher on board as executive producer and chief operating officer. She comes over from The Mill in New York where she served as EP, working for clients such as Sony PlayStation, Samsung and Macy’s during the past 10 years.

BaconX’s credits range from notable commercials such as Volkswagen’s “Horses” to feature films like Valhalla. The company regularly works with leading directors including Andreas Nilsson, Martin Werner and Martin de Thurah. 

Jonas Drehn, BaconX co-founder, said of Carranza-Pitcher’s arrival, “As we are already doing international projects and are experiencing a growing interest from abroad, it is the perfect time to bring on a person who can help scale our business.” 

  • Thursday, Jan. 30, 2020
Stephanie Nerlich named global chief client officer at Havas Creative Group
Stephanie Nerlich

Havas Creative Group has named Stephanie Nerlich its global chief client officer. Nerlich brings significant expertise in general management, marketing communications and transforming corporate culture to the newly created role after nearly four years at MDC Partners, where she most recently served as EVP partner development and talent (and interim office of the CEO). With a proven track record of building brands and delivering growth, Nerlich will work alongside Tracey Barber, global CMO of Havas Creative Group, and will report into Chris Hirst, global CEO, Havas Creative Group.

While at MDC Partners, Nerlich was responsible for supporting agencies across the broad spectrum of communications services including innovation, advanced analytics, customer experience and digital design, in addition to media, PR, experiential and traditional creative functions. Her role was designed to aid agency CEOs and champion key partner initiatives, drive talent—including recruitment—and evolve platforms for scale. Nerlich collaborated with executive teams to drive organizational structure change, while also fueling creative and operations initiatives. Prior to MDC Partners, Nerlich served as president and CEO of Grey Canada.

As part of Havas Creative Group global CEO Hirst’s global leadership team, Nerlich will be responsible for global client relationship development and best practice. She will work with agency CEOs to support Havas’ portfolio of global and large regional clients, driving integration and ensuring client-centricity is at the core of the group’s growth strategy.

  • Thursday, Jan. 30, 2020
Merritt Duff joins Union as partner/editor
Merritt Duff

Merritt Duff, an award-winner well-known for his Progressive campaigns via Arnold Boston with director Brendan Gibbons (including last month’s acclaimed “Progressive Halftime Show”), has joined bicoastal Union as partner/editor. His recent work includes Frontier (Hill Holliday), directed by The Perlorian Brothers, and a Gibbons-directed Mastercard project with PGA Tour golfers Justin Rose and Tom Watson (McCann NY). Duff has earned considerable acclaim for his work, including One Show Pencils, a Cannes Lion, multiple AICE Award nominations, numerous Hatch Awards, a Clio, and the 2016 Super Clio for the Jeep spot, “Portraits.” He has twice been honored by the Primetime Emmy Awards for his contributions to NBC’s Saturday Night Live, on which he served as an associate producer. Duff comes over from Beast. 

Duff’s collaborations with the likes of directors Gibbons, The Perlorians, Steve Miller, Randy Krallman, Tim Godsall, Eric Wareheim and others have their roots in a six-year stint at SNL, where the Colby College grad was immersed in every aspect of his craft, from pre-production through postproduction, working primarily on the series’ much-lauded commercial parodies. Turning his focus to editing, Duff joined the newly launched boutique editing house Cutting Room in 2005, where his gift for comedic storytelling was quickly recognized, precipitating his rise to a senior editorial position. After 11 years working with clients such as ESPN, FedEx, Adidas, Lowes, and Progressive, Duff joined Beast’s New York office in 2016, focusing on commercial projects for additional high-profile brands such as BMW, GE, Mastercard, Toyota, AT&T, and Bank of America, while also taking enormous satisfaction in mentoring younger staff members and nurturing their talent.

Duff has additionally cut national spots for Subway, E-trade, Verizon, Tide, Band-Aid, Johnnie Walker, Smart Car, Wendy’s, Pizza Hut, Arby’s, Comcast, Campbell’s Soup, Progresso, Dole, Nestle, Newcastle, Crest, Mucinex, Planet Fitness, USTA, NBA, New York Lottery, Match.com, Avis, HBO, and Footlocker, among others.

“I’m so thankful every day that I found my way to commercial editing,” said Duff. “It’s a special niche that we’re in, so I strive to provide a suitably special environment for creatives and producers who walk through the door – one in which every detail is attended to with an earnest and open mind as well as a healthy dose of humor.”

Union is under the aegis of partner/managing director Michael Raimondi and partner/executive producer Caryn Maclean.

  • Thursday, Jan. 30, 2020
Hornet promotes Labriola, Kwan, Geren, Stavracos
Kristin Labriola

Multidisciplinary production studio Hornet has promoted four staffers who collectively have worked with the company for more than 30 years.

Kristin Labriola has been promoted to head of creative development, a new role within the Hornet studio. For eight years, Labriola has operated as the development producer at Hornet, where she developed the creative strategy behind Hornet’s commercial pitch process, managed this process logistically and creatively from beginning to end, and helped with director outreach and the continued fostering of Hornet’s director roster. 

Cathy Kwan has been promoted to executive producer. Kwan has been with Hornet for close to a decade. Prior to Hornet, she worked in long-form television production for children’s programming, managing relationships with animation studios and seeing to all phases of production. Her role as sr. producer at Hornet has seen her work with a number of major clients, including ongoing campaigns with Facebook. As she moves into her EP role, Kwan will bid and produce jobs along with a more concentrated emphasis on further developing Hornet’s client relationships at Hornet.

Marty Geren has been promoted to sr. producer. Geren has been with Hornet for the last 10 years, the first half of which was as a CG lead before becoming a producer. As Geren moved into his role as a producer, his extensive background in CG modeling, lighting, texturing, and rendering made him the perfect liaison between art and production at Hornet. For nine years, he has led the McDonald’s campaign with Leo Burnett London, one of Hornet’s longest relationships. 

And Dez Stavracos has been promoted to sr. producer. With a strong background in 2D animation and six years as a producer at Hornet, Stavracos’ journey to sr. producer has been eclectic and interesting. After studying traditional animation at the School of Visual Arts in New York, he worked for three years as a producer for renowned animator and filmmaker Bill Plympton. Stavracos’ experience with long-form 2D animation—his first “true love”—has made him an invaluable contributor to the 2D department at Hornet. Moving forward, he will continue to produce with an added focus on nurturing and developing the 2D team.

Hornet managing partner Michael Feder said the promotions “are really about empowering a group of wonderfully talented team members who’ve been at the core of Hornet’s evolution over the years.”

  • Wednesday, Jan. 29, 2020
Digital Domain names Kevin Lau ECD of advertising, games & new media 
Kevin Lau (center) flanked by EPs Nicole Fina (l) and John Canning.

Visual effects studio Digital Domain has named Kevin Lau executive creative director of advertising, games and new media. In this new position, Lau will oversee all short-form projects and act as a creative partner for agencies and brands that want to realize any idea on screen.

Lau brings over 18 years of ad-based visual effects and commercial production experience, honed on campaigns for major brands like Target, Visa and Sprint. Most recently, he was the executive creative director and founding partner at Timber, an L.A.-based studio focused on ads (GMC, Winter Olympics) and music videos (Kendrick Lamar’s “Humble”). Prior to that, he held creative director positions at Mirada, Brand New School and Superfad. His work has been honored with multiple awards including Clios, AICP Show honors, MTV VMAs and a Cannes Gold Lion for Sprint’s “Now Network” campaign (Goodby Silverstein & Partners).

“Kevin has a terrific lineage as a storyteller and for shepherding projects that weave stunning design and VFX into the fabric of a short-form narratives,” said John Fragomeni, president of Digital Domain. “He joins EP’s Nicole Fina and John Canning, as they continue to build our growing short-form business. Kevin adds a special dimension to our strong creative team and will have access to our global network of studios and hundreds of world-class artists, helping us to produce the pedigree of work that makes products and experiences stand out.”

Lau will help unify the vision for the advertising & games and new media & experiential groups, promoting a consistent voice across campaigns. His appointment follows a two-year growth streak that has seen Digital Domain partnering with brands like Google, Mountain Dew, BMW, Apple and Nike, along with agencies and directors like Spike Jonze, 72andSunny, HEAT, Partizan, Reset and RSA. Lau joins the team as the new media group prepares to unveil its biggest project yet, TIME’s The March, a groundbreaking virtual reality recreation of the 1963 March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom. Digital Domain’s experience with digital humans will play a major role in the future of both groups, as they continue to build on the photoreal cinematics and in-game characters previously created for Activision, Electronic Arts and Ubisoft. 

“As short-form content continues to evolve, having a partner that can adapt with the changing landscape is going to be essential for brands and advertisers,” said Lau. “DD has always distinguished themselves as an innovative creative partner and industry leader in VFX. Beyond that, the studio’s new media group has been doing some groundbreaking work in immersive and experiential projects and I wanted to be a part of that. I look forward to having access to DD’s incredible talent, deep knowledge base and cutting edge technology to help agencies bring amazing stories to life.”

  • Tuesday, Jan. 28, 2020
Gregory Roekens joins Moving Picture Company as chief innovation officer
Gregory Roekens (l) and Mark Benson

Gregory Roekens has been hired to serve in the newly created position of chief innovation officer at the Moving Picture Company (MPC). Roekens joins the company’s global sr. management team reporting into CEO Mark Benson. This appointment strengthens MPC’s continued commitment to deliver innovative creative and production to major advertisers, ad agency networks, brands, production companies, publishers and media.

Roekens previously held the title of future technology officer at Grey Europe; prior to that he was chief technology officer at AMV BBDO and Wunderman, and previously worked at IBM. Roekens is a published authority in innovation and technology and lectured at Cambridge University.

Benson cited Roekens’ “vision and expertise in the area of new and emerging technology,” describing him as “the perfect choice to lead our innovation efforts and collaborate with our award-winning talent and client portfolio.”

Roekens stated, “I look forward to developing new ways to marry our amazing creative and technological expertise with innovation. My focus will be in helping design the future of communication and user experience so that MPC can deliver any client vision to become a reality. In doing so I believe MPC will continue to be a leader in how clients and their consumers connect with emerging technology.”

  • Tuesday, Jan. 28, 2020
Paul Riddle named exec VFX supervisor of DNEG TV
Paul Riddle

Visual effects and animation studio DNEG has appointed Paul Riddle as executive VFX supervisor of its award-winning TV offering in London, coinciding with the release of a plethora of new productions.

Riddle was part of the original team that set up DNEG (or Double Negative as it was then known) in 1998. He has more than 20 years of experience, working on many of DNEG’s biggest productions. His film credits as VFX supervisor include Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, The Tree of Life, John Carter, Fast and Furious 6 and The Da Vinci Code, for which he received a VES Award nomination for Outstanding Supporting Visual Effects.

More recently, he was overall VFX supervisor on director Francis Lawrence’s Red Sparrow starring Jennifer Lawrence, and supervised the visual effects for the Harry Potter theme park rides “Gringotts Wizarding Bank” and “Hagrid’s Magical Creatures Motorbike Adventure” for Universal Orlando.

In his new role, Riddle will work closely with the new business team and with TV clients on the creative development of their projects, as well as overseeing the creative management of all London-led TV shows.

DNEG TV, which took home an Emmy last year for its work on the HBO drama Chernobyl, was formed in 2013 to enable TV producers and networks worldwide to access DNEG’s talent, technical innovation and infrastructure through a bespoke TV service.

The team has been working on many major new series releasing in the first half of 2020, including: Star Trek: Picard (CBS), Locke & Key (Netflix), Doctor Who Season 12 (BBC), Sacred Lies: The Singing Bones (Facebook Watch), Altered Carbon Season 2 (Netflix), Devs (Hulu), Westworld Season 3 (HBO), The Letter for the King (Netflix) and Defending Jacob (Apple TV+).

Managing director of DNEG TV, Matt Plummer, said: “Paul has been an integral member of DNEG since its earliest days, and we’re delighted to have him join the TV team. With the increased number of broadcast and streaming services producing high-quality television shows, the demand for first-rate VFX services has never been higher, and Paul’s experience and creative oversight will be invaluable.”

  • Tuesday, Jan. 28, 2020
Bindery EP Carter Collins elevated to partner
Carter Collins

Indie film and content studio Bindery has promoted Carter Collins to partner, executive producer. 

Since joining the NYC-based studio in 2015, Collins has been instrumental in growing Bindery into a modern production partner that offers integrated, full-service capabilities across branded content and original entertainment. As partner, Collins will lead Bindery’s direct-to-brand offering, which accounts for 70% of the business. 

“Carter is the epitome of a modern maker. He’s deeply connected to the craft and a great shepherd of our clients’ brands,” said Greg Beauchamp, founder of Bindery. “Over the past four years, Carter has helped shape Bindery into a full-service studio, while also producing our most award-winning original content.” 

Collins’ accomplishments include forging new relationships within the booming DTC and direct-to-brand markets. He oversees strategy, creative and production for DTC sock brand Bombas and was behind a dozen successful campaigns in 2019 alone. This has led to more work for DTC brands including Brooklinen, Birchbox, Stitch Fix, Myro, Etsy, SeatGeek and Verishop. 

On the original content side, Collins produced ZION, a short documentary film that premiered at the 2018 Sundance Film Festival where it was acquired by Netflix and went on to have a successful festival and awards run including winning two Emmys and being one of ten films to be shortlisted for the 2019 Academy Award for short documentaries. 

“Bindery’s approach is modern, integrated and led by actual makers. One that streamlines the process and is aligned with the realities of marketers and the media landscape,” said Collins. “I’m excited to grow our practice that marries a filmmaker-led approach with speed and efficiency.”

Prior to Bindery Collins worked at a variety of agencies, most recently Johannes Leonardo where he led multiple accounts, including adidas Originals, as well as business development. Throughout his career, he’s worked on a number of creatively-awarded campaigns that have been recognized by shows such as The Clios, Webbys, D&AD and Cannes Lions, including a Grand Prix.

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