World’s biggest animatics producer opens here in May

3D animatic for Degree deodorant

International companies continue to find Chicago’s ad center a healthy market for expansion.  The latest such expansion is global Animated Storyboards Ltd. (ASB), which is scheduled to open a Loop facility in mid-May.  

The Chicago branch – ASB’s sixth international location — will be lead by the dual management team of lead audio engineer Paul Grajek and lead editor/compositor Wes Mallgren, both moving here from ASB New York.

Considered the world’s largest test spot production company, ABS specializes in 2D and 3D animatics, digimatics, photomatics and pre-vis, utilizing an exclusive, photorealistic style of artwork and animation in 2D and 3D.

“We take a full-service approach to animatics, from casting to audio post,” says Dan Pack, director of global marketing, “operating at unmatched speed and producing around the clock.” 

The company employs some 200 in-house illustrators, designers, directors, producers, 2D and 3D artists in its full-service New York and London studios, and in its Tel Aviv, Bangkok and Sao Paulo production facilities.

ASB’s Chicago branch will serve the Midwest and supplement the New York facility, says Grajek, a Chicago-area native who has worked for ASB in New York for the past two years.

Paul GrajekWes MallgrenNikki Piazza










In his new management capacity, Grajek will serve as studio manager and Mallgren will be in charge of the facility’s workflow.  Nikki Piazza, formerly with Red Car, is the producer. She is currently in training at ASB New York.

Chicago branch starts with 6-person staff

The branch will start with a permanent staff of six; a director, designer and animator are in the process of being hired.  They will be implemented by freelancers, and tap into ASB’s pipeline of artists and animators throughout the world.

 “The staff will steadily grow and will ultimately employ 15 to 20 by next year to facilitate the work,” says Grajek, who worked as an engineer at CRC, Particle and in-house audio at DDB.  He is a Northwestern graduate with a degree in music and a master’s degree from Savannah College of Art & Design, where Mallgren graduated with honors.

Mallgren, who joined in 2005, is ASB New York’s project leader. His expertise includes 3D and motion capture animation, special effects, compositing in animation and live action and editing for broadcast media.

The Loop office, chosen for its proximity to agencies, restaurants and shops, says Grajek, is around 4,500-sq. ft. and will have rooms for three editors, audio and color correction, and open space for animators, designers and directors.

“Chicago agencies represent one of our largest client bases and we enjoy the work we do in Chicago,” Pack says, noting that Leo Burnett has been ASB’s longest-running Chicago client since CEO Ezra Krausz founded the company in 2001 in New York.

Burrell, Cramer-Krasselt, Energy BBDO, Ogilvy and Common Ground also are on ASB’s Chicago client roster.

“We do so much work with these clients that being on their doorstep to service them is the right move for us and what we’ve wanted to do for a long time,” Pack says.