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Local research centre signs animation agreement with Sony Pictures

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Research and development of innovative methods for use in the pre-production of animated films will be carried out by the Cyprus-based research centre RISE following the signing of an agreement with Sony Pictures Animation (SPA), it was announced on Thursday.

Sony Pictures Animation, the studio behind the critically acclaimed Spider-Man: into the Spider-Verse, and Rise, Research centre on Interactive Media, Smart Systems and Emerging Technology will work together to develop technology to assist in the early stages of production, including the illustrated screenplay, a joint announcement said.

“During the pre-production phase of animation, the artists are responsible for creating hundreds of thousands of illustrated panels, which are crucial for presenting the story of a film through which they visually communicate their ideas and facilitate the processing of the main script and individual scenes before proceeding with production.”

Through the partnership, RISE will contribute highly skilled researchers specialising in computer graphics and machine learning domains to collaborate with SPA’s technical team in developing new technology which will allow artists to be faster and more efficient in the creation of storyboards for animated features.

According to a statement, both parties will combine technical expertise to develop a set of tools that will utilise advanced 3D and machine learning techniques that have the potential to revolutionise the industry, empowering storyboard artists by reducing repetition time and allowing them to focus on the creative part.

“As we work on higher quality stories, our goal is to create technology that will allow artists to be more creative. We do this by introducing smart tools that allow artists to explore creative ideas in ways that were not practical or even possible in the past,” technology director at Sony Pictures Animation Yiotis Katsambas said.

The cooperation is the result of Katsambas’ close personal relationship with Cyprus. Originally from Nicosia, he has been recognised with several distinctions on the island including the Cypriot Man of the Year award in the Arts category (2008), and the Nicosia Honorary Medal (2019), awarded by the mayor of Nicosia for his technical achievements in Sony Pictures Animation and for his contribution to the creation of the movie Spider-Man: In the Spider-Verse. Katsambas was also the recipient of the Hollywood Post Alliance Engineering Excellence Award (2013) for his role in creating the pre-production software Flix.

“We are proud of the SPA’s trust in us for the establishment of this partnership and we are optimistic that by exchanging best practices and combining our know-how, we will help strengthen the industry and its technologies,” director of research of RISE Giorgos Chrysanthou commented.

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