Calabash puts Blake and Meister on permanent staff

EXPECTING A BUSY SUMMER of work, the art staff of Calabash Animation expanded from seven to nine with the naming of Christopher Blake as CG production manager, a new position, and Eric Meister as lead animator. Both had been permalancing at Calabash for several years.

“Our latest initiative has been to leverage our CG capabilities, and the market is definitely showing a lot of interest,” says Sean Henry, Calabash executive producer, “leading us to bring in Chris to manage our growing CG department and Eric to take a lead role in our creative work.”

Chicago native Blake had been academic director at the Illinois Institute of Art and director of animation for now-defunct Post Effects.  His resume also includes stints at London’s Film Garage and running his own company, Blake Animate.  

Since joining Calabash, Blake worked extensively on the recent Lucky Charms spot that rendered the Lucky character in 3D for the first time.

Meister, a native of Columbus, Ohio, had been freelancing for Calabash as a traditional animator and CG artist since graduating from Ashland University in Ohio three years ago.

THE DIGITAL WORLD of advertising expands again with DDB’s hiring of Azher Ahmed as SVP/director of digital operations, reuniting with his new boss and fellow Martin Agency alum, Jonathan Sacett, chief digital officer/managing director. Ahmed spent two years at the Martin Agency as SVP/director of technology.  Earlier, he was director/digital technology at Draftfcb and Arnold Worldwide.

STORYVIEW is the concept-to-screen company formed by two industry veterans: corporate visual media producer/director Pat Odom and editor Ken Hall.  “We do a lot of event production, such endurance events, video web content-to-broadcast,” says Odom, who as VP/marketing for 13 years ran LaSalle Bank video services division.  

When LaSalle was acquired by Bank of America, Odom’s division was absorbed into its central communications division in South Carolina.

“I went out on my own with JPO Productions and was able to diversify services, working with marketing firms.  What I didn’t have was post,” Odom says.  

Earlier this year, he teamed up with editor Hall, whom he’d known as a LaSalle Bank vendor, to form Storyview with an office in Clarendon Hills.

Since the bank-sponsored marathon was one of Odom’s big annual LaSalle projects, it’s no stretch that Storyview’s clients include the Virgin London, Bank of America, ING and New York City marathons.  It also produces on-going Erickson Institute teacher training videos and videos for the Joint Commission for Health Care Services. 

FORMER CRC EXECUTIVE PRODUCER Lindsay Perryman-Dunn signed on as executive producer representing Manhattan-based Stadium Red’s new audio post division.  Founded in 2007 by Claude Zdanow, Stadium Red is a multi-faceted music recording company with clients ranging from the Chicago Symphony Orchestra to Eminem.

Perryman-Dunn says Stadium Red will utilize the casting and music licensing services of David Kaplan and Mindy Gerson’s Audio Producers Group (APG), which she is also repping. Phone: 312/208-9377. 

TWO BRONZE TELLY AWARDS for TV documentaries went to Intersport for The Next Level—Dhabi Jones, and The Next Level – Mushin Muhammad, a Big Ten Network series that documents professional athletes “at the next level” of their careers.

Intersport producers went behind the scenes with Jones as he competed in the USA Triathlon’s National Duathlon Festival in Richmond, Va. and for Muhammad’s episode, they shot his family at their home in Charlotte, N.C.  Muhammad’s business interests  include a day care center a housing development in the area.  Click here to see the shows.

THE AFTRA/SAG MERGER, a concept that’s been kicking around for at least 25 years, is drawing closer to reality with the start of formal discussions to create one talent union.  The Screen Actors Guild and AFTRA Group for One Union, or G1, as the two groups are jointly being called, recently met for the first time to establish a series of working groups to address various issues of concern raised by members.  

The six key areas rank-and-file members identified as important were: governance and structure; finance and dues; collective bargaining; pension, health and retirement; operations and staff; and member education and outreach.  

The next meeting of the Group for One Union is scheduled for Aug. 27-28 in New York.

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