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  "SIZZLING IN SHANGHAI" article from Animation Magazine

Over the past few years, many industry watchers have been playing close attention to how new investments are changing the animation scene in various Asian countries. If you need a solid example of the manage between Disney-style American animation and classic Asian work savvy, you need to play a visit to shanghai’s Synergy Animation. Founded in 2005 by shanghai-born Cindy Ge and former Disney animator Michael Benet , the company has been on a growth curve in recent months, delivering top-notch service work for clients such as Disney Channel’s The Emperor’s New School. Fred Seibert’s Frederator Studio, Spain’s Zig-Zag productions and Scott Strachan’s CG-animated show FARMkids (which is distributed by Porchlight Entertainment) as well as developing original content.

Ge, the doughter of well-regarded artists at shanghai’s Animation Studio, met Benet when they were both working at Disney’s features studios in Florida. During their time at Disney, Ge and Benet worked on projects such as Mulan, Lilo & Stitch and Brother Bear as rough in-betweener and animator respectively. “We wanted to take what we had learned working on features at Disney and incorporate that into the system in shanghai.” says Ge. “The main advantage is that because of the Chinese government’s strong support of the industry, we

have a good chance of getting our own creations off the ground,”

Benet says it’s important to let people know that the studio isn’t just doing point-by-numbers animation and that they are actors and storytellers and part of the creative process.” With over 70 employees, Synergy is also expanding its efforts in the CG arena, offering tools created with 3ds Max, Maya and various other the tools these days, but what sets us apart is that we take care of our client’s

productions just as if they were our own,” adds Benet. “We work hard to find the right people for the job and have a strong hands-on approach in our system. Shanghai is big city and there are several studios that have been around longer than we have, but most of them have European clients. We were the first ones to bring Disney here.”

Ge and benet point out that there used to be a typical misconception that you can get your animation done cheaply in Asia, but it will also look cheap. “we’re definitely on the forefront of changing that misperception.” They say.

The explosion of content for the internet and new platforms have obviously opened new doors for Synergy. Ge and Benet plan to bring a new animated show to the MIPCOM market this fall. “it’s very much inspired by our four-year-old daughter Angela.” says Benet. “Our show is aimed at preschoolers and centers on a world of

discovery and imagination where kids can learn about shapes and colors through the eyes of our main character Bunny and his furry friends. “Co-created by a friend of the couple at CCTV, the show (tentatively titled Little Bunny) employs a combination of 2D Flash and CG.

What they’d like the industry to know about their studio is that their love for the craft translates to better-quality service and artisan-quality animation. “It’s a heck of a lot of hard work, being not just owners, but passionate artists that can’t help but be part of every aspect of production. We love being in the trenches with the crew and being part of the creative process.” adds Benet.
For more info., visit www.synergyanimation.com.