Animators special report, Part I

The Chicago animation scene is dominated by commercial broadcast, many top firms being divisions of larger post houses or production companies, like Superior Street’s Flux Group, Swell’s Bazooka Graphics, Golan Production’s Atomic Imaging.

Dreamation Studios is developing a 3D feature and a 24-hour internationally broadcast animation network.

Game design and multimedia are a growing segment of the market, with a number of new firms opening recently. identified 56 local animation studios. This is the first of a two-part report, covering companies A through E.

AGA Digital Animation Studios
1305 Wiley Road, Suite 125, Schaumburg
Dan Ablan, 847/755-4488
A ten-year-old full-service 3D animation studio, AGA also offers Lightwave 3D training, post and ProTools.

Alien Mastermind
200 N. Dearborn
Christopher Blake, 773/879-2144
A collective of five 3D animators and 2D/3D designers.

Atomic Imaging
1501 N. Magnolia
Ari Golan, 312/649-1800
A division of Golan Productions, this 19-year-old company with offices in seven cities provides 2D/3D and stereoscopic animation, motion graphics and visual effects, along with live action production, post, multimedia, web and live events. Clients include Allstate, Hyatt and McDonalds.

Avenue Edit
625 North Michigan Avenue, 23rd Floor
Rick Ledyard, 312/943-7100
Post-house offers effects and animation using Inferno, Flame, Flint, Combustion, MAYA, and After Effects.

1375 Remington Road, Suite E, Schaumburg
Jim McClain, 847/839-8900
Founded in 1997 as an offshoot of 25-year-old Elmhurst-based Bloomquist Video, bmedia offers MAYA, Softimage and 3D Studio Animation, as well as a full compliment of HD and DV post services. Participated in the first-ever conversion to Windows Media Video HD for an independent film, the local production “Lana’s Rain.” Clients include the U.S. Postal Service, Coca Cola, and Intuit.

Bandit Vision Productions
533 W. Barry
David Lanuti, 773/935-7343
Production company provides 3D animation. Clients include the CTA, Columbia College, and the Illinois Institute of Technology.

Bazooka Graphics
455 North Cityfront Plaza Drive
Dave Mueller, Jennifer Giles, 312/464-8000
A division of 25-year-old post-production mainstay Swell, Bazooka offers MAYA, Flame, Inferno, and Smoke animation.

George Berlin, 773/470-8060
Freelancer Berlin offers 3D, traditional animation and compositing

Big Shoulders Digital Video Production
303 E. Wacker, Suite 2000
Brad Fox, 312/540-5400
Full-service digital production, post facility also offers Smoke and Flame animation.

Bix Pix Entertainment
1917 W. Belmont
David Brooks, 773/248-5430
Kelli Bixler’s claymation studio creates work for television, film and commercials. Properties include “Doh Doh Island,” “Ms. Twiggly’s Tree,” “Dinner Time,” and “Squash and Stretch.”

Boyer Studio
1324 Greenleaf Avenue, Evanston
Wayne Boyer, 847/491-6363
Boyer provides computer animation and stop motion for libraries and other clients across the metro area.

Brella Productions
2934 Central, Evanston
Bernadette Burke, 847/864-4040
Full-service video production and multimedia company provides 3D animation, morphing and special effects.

Bridges Media Group
205 W. Wacker
Christian Robins, 312/884-5000
Full-service commercial production company provides 3D animation. Clients include Culligan, Camel and Majestic Star Casino.

Broadview Media, Inc.
142 East Ontario Street
Bonnie Hawksworth, 312/337-6000
Full-service video and interactive media company based in Chicago and Minneapolis produces programming for HGTV, History Channel, Discovery and TLC; also offers in-house animation services.

Burback Brothers Moving Picture Company
2525 N. Elston, Suite D-210
Tim Burback, 773/661-5050
Produce stylized and realistic 3D animation for TV, film, visual effects, multimedia, and web.

Calabash Animation
657 W. Ohio
Monica Kendall, 312/243-3433 ext. 24
Known for reimagining flagship brand characters for clients including Mr. Clean, Little Caesar’s, Keebler, Trix and Lucky Charms, Calabash also created the holiday TV specials “Christmas Every Day” and “The Canterville Ghost.” Employing 12 staffers and 30 freelancers, Calabash offers cel, clay, stop motion, and computer animation as well as combinations with live action.

Chicago Animatronics
602 W. Jefferson, Naperville
Robert Veach, 630-778-7433
Founded in 1996, Chicago Animatronics creates customized animatronic characters and synchronized audio. Creators of signature displays “Jefferson St. Graveyard,” “Santa’s Workshop,” and “Clinton Meets the Press.”

Chicago Post & Graphics, Ltd.
770 N. Halsted, Suite 202
Post house provides graphics, 3D animation and special effects. Clients include HGTV, Schneider Electric and the U.S. Pork Council.

Creative Digital Images, Inc.
5N279 Sanctuary Lane, St. Charles
Kirk O. Nash, 630/365-3778
CDI has been providing computer animation for film, video, multimedia and corporate since 1988. Offers MAYA, Softimage and 3D Studio Max. Created the original productions “Wonder Worm – Glad I’m Green” and “The Special Christmas Gift” and provided animation for “George and the Flies.” Clients include McDonalds and Whirlpool.

Cyber Com
289 W. Van Buren, Elmhurst
Founded in 1996, Cyber Com specializes in 3D animation and panoramic tours for web and multimedia design. Clients include Night Flight Records, Topline German Shepherd Dog Club, and White Pines Golf Club.

Daily Planet, Ltd.
455 North Cityfront Plaza, Suite 2900
Amy Richard, 312/670-3766
Offers 2D and 3D motion graphics using After Effects, Flint and Quantel.

Digital Kitchen
350 W. Ontario, 6th Floor
Motion graphics studio based in Chicago and Seattle won an Emmy for its title sequence for the HBO series “Six Feet Under.” Creates integrated campaigns for clients including Nike, Coca Cola and Chrysler.

Dreamation Studios
225 W. Ohio
2D/3D studio is developing the 3D feature “IF” for 2006 release, and overseeing all production for global 24-hour 1 Animation Network, set to launch in February 2005 at a cost of $60 to $100 million. Dreamation is moving to a 60,000 sq. ft. Buffalo Grove facility and expanding its staff from 15 to 100. Last year launched the Cineme animation festival.

Dynamo Graphics, Inc.
214 Fourth Street, Downers Grove
Provides photorealistic 3D architectural renderings since 1995.

eCentric Image, Inc.
717 North Forest Ave., Suite 200-N, Lake Forest
Eric Mueller, Eleni Striglos, 847/465-0820
Post house provides 2D and 3D animation using After Effects. Clients include Mitsubishi, Kraft and Motorola.

Edit House Chicago
5325 West Bernice
Jeff Hellyer, 312/505-5333
10-year-old production and captioning company also provides graphics and animation services.

Eleventh Hour Animation
8305 Keystone Avenue, Skokie
Full service graphics, animation and exhibition company for film/video, legal, architectural and educational clients.

? by Ed M. Koziarski,