Sony Pictures Animation, the studio behind the Academy-Award®-winning feature “Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse,” has signed a partnership agreement with the Research Centre on Interactive Media, Smart Systems and Emerging Technologies – RISE Centre of Excellence based in Nicosia, Cyprus, to explore technological advances to enhance the creative process for filmmakers and artists working on the front-end of animation production.
Sony Pictures Animation and RISE CoE will collaborate to develop technological advances to assist in the early stages of production, including storyboarding.
During the pre-production phase of animation, story artists are responsible for creating hundreds of thousands of storyboards, which are critical in laying out a film’s story, visually communicating ideas and exploring high-level concepts and specific story beats before moving into physical production.
Through the partnership, RISE will contribute highly skilled researchers from the Computer Graphics and Machine Learning domains to collaborate with the expert technical team at Sony Pictures Animation with the goal of developing new technology that will allow artists to be nimbler and more efficient in the creation of storyboards for animated features, shorts, and series. Both parties will combine technical expertise in an effort to develop a set of prototype tools that will utilize advanced 3D and Machine Learning techniques that have the potential to revolutionize the industry, empowering storyboard artists by reducing iteration time and allowing them to focus on the creative.
Yiotis Katsambas, Director of Technology for Sony Pictures Animation, said of the partnership, “As we strive for higher-quality storytelling, our goal is to create technology that allows artists to be more creative. We do that by introducing smart tools that allow artists to explore creative ideas in ways that weren’t practical or even possible in the past.”
The partnership is the result of a close personal connection Katsambas has with Cyprus. A native of Nicosia, Katsambas has been recognized with several accolades from his home country, including the Cyprus Man of the Year in Arts (2008), and the Nicosia Honorary Medal (2019), awarded by the mayor of Nicosia Mr. Constantinos Yiorkadjis, following a decision of the Municipal Council for his technical achievements at Sony Pictures Animation and for his contribution to the making of “Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse.” Katsambas was also the recipient of the Hollywood Post Alliance Engineering Excellence Award (2013) for his role in the creation of industry standard pre-production software Flix.
“We are proud of SPA’s trust in us to form this collaboration and we are hopeful that by sharing best practices and combining our expertise we will help enhance the industry and its technologies,” says Yiorgos Chrysanthou, Research Director of RISE.
“The collaboration with SPA, one of the most creative animation studios in the world, ties into the fundamental goal of RISE to realize ideas from research labs into innovative and practical solutions for the real world. RISE is highly committed and has the skills and expertise in Computer Graphics and Animation, Computer Vision and Machine Learning to offer,” said Dr. Panayiotis Charalambous (team leader of the RISE V-EUPNEA: Living, Breathing Virtual Worlds MRG) who is leading these efforts, in close collaboration with RISE team leaders Dr. Alessandro Artusi (DeepCamera MRG) and Dr. Vassilis Vassiliades (LEAR MRG).
ABOUT SONY PICTURES ANIMATION
Sony Pictures Animation produces a variety of animated entertainment for audiences around the world. The visually groundbreaking and critically acclaimed “Spider-Man™: Into the Spider-Verse” is the studio’s latest release, and the winner of the 2019 Academy Award® for Best Animated Feature. The division is also behind hit film series such as “The Smurfs,” “Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs,” and “Hotel Transylvania.” Next for Sony Pictures Animation are the original feature comedy “Connected” produced by Phil Lord and Christopher Miller, and the studio’s first-ever animated musical “Vivo,” featuring original songs by Lin-Manuel Miranda.
ABOUT RISE CoE
The Research Centre on Interactive Media, Smart Systems and Emerging Technologies is a Centre of Excellence in Research and Innovation on Information and Communication Technologies in Cyprus, aiming to empower knowledge and technology transfer in the region. It is a joint venture between the three public universities of Cyprus – University of Cyprus, Cyprus University of Technology, and, Open University of Cyprus – the Municipality of Nicosia, and two renowned international partners, the Max Planck Institute for Informatics, Germany, and the University College London, United Kingdom.