321Fastdraw animation is Cinespace’s latest tenant

Fast-growing 321Fastdraw, having outgrown its offices and its owners eager to be back in the bustle of production, in early spring will move into new space in Cinespace’s Main Building at Rockwell and  W. 16th St.

The whiteboard animation company, one of only two in Chicago, will consolidate its existing two offices, in the Loop and suburbs, into especially designed and constructed 3,500-sq. ft. space in what certainly is an action-packed production environment.

321Fastdraw has a permanent staff of eight: longtime partners producer/writer Diane De Re and videographer/editors Ken Nilsson and Sal Pecoraro; illustrators Rick Villareal and Mark Kregger; project manager/graphic artist, Jackie McGill; editor Ryan Aquino, scheduler Joel Goodman and many permalancers as needed.

They specialize in corporate and broadcast for companies like ESPN, Johnson & Johnson, ABC TV network, Fox Sports, Roche Pharmaceuticals, Trans-America Insurance, Big Ten and the Kauffman Foundation, cites De Re, who had headed her own production company for 17 years.

De Re, Nilsson and Pecoraro had worked together as a freelance production team for several years until a client asked De Re “if we could do this concept for whiteboard animation,” she recalls. “When I saw the technique, I thought it was a software program.  I asked the guys, ‘what do we need to buy to do this?’” 

Nothing, as it turned out.  The technique was the videotaping of an illustrator as he rendered an image, and the piece was treated as produced content for corporate and broadcast. 

The project was successful and they officially opened 321Fastdraw, probably the city’s first whiteboard animation company, working out of Pecoraro’s small editing studio near O’Hare. “My cellphone was the office telephone,” she recalls.  

The new company’s first order of business was to post a website. “Two weeks after the site was up, we got a call from Eli Lilly,” says De Re. “Their CEO was going to speak at a company-wide meeting in Shanghai on the subject of how to improve their communications.  Clearly, a Powerpoint wasn’t going to work here.

“The reason they came to us was they had contacted a London company — London and India were the center of whiteboard animaton — that needed six months and $60,000 to do the job.”

Less than three weeks later and at a fraction of the London estimated budget, 321Fastdraw had created and animated two pieces, each about two minutes, portraying the CEO as a helicopter pilot wearing aviator sunglasses.  De Re personally “drove like a maniac” to deliver the job personally to the CEO at Lilly’s Indianapolis headquarters.

At the the corporate meeting, she notes the CEO stepped up to the podium wearing his aviator glasses and Eli Lilly remains a client, assigning about 20 projects a year to 321Fastdraw. De Re can be reached at diane@321fastdraw.com.