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Former DreamWorks Animators Move to Imagi

In what they see as a key step toward establishing itself as a full-scale animation house, Imagi Studios has hired a quartet of Hollywood’s leading animators, Daily Variety reports.

The company, which produced the new Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles movie to be released this weekend, picked Cecil Kramer, formerly of DreamWorks Animation, to head the new creative team as executive VP of production. Reporting to Kramer will be Maryann Garger and Lynne Southerland as producers. Garger, a 12-year DWA veteran, will be responsible for Imagi’s upcoming Astroboy, while Southerland will produce Imagi’s upcoming Gatchaman.

Longtime DWA staffer Mark Tarbox was also hired as a line producer to work across Imagi’s slate of movies.

All four will be based in Imagi’s Sherman Oaks, California office, where the company has a staff of 50 involved in story development and production management.

The hirings in Los Angeles follow the appointment last week of former Animal Logic executive Brett Feeney (Happy Feet, The Matrix Reloaded) as VP of production. Based in Hong Kong, Feeney will be responsible for managing Imagi’s production line, which includes 400 artists, animators and technicians.

In a related move, Paul Wang in L.A. was promoted to executive VP of development, having previously been responsible for U.S. production operations.

Imagi, which is listed on the Hong Kong stock exchange, is scaling up its facilities to deliver a CG-animated feature every eight months. After TMNT, its next two, Gatchaman and Astro Boy, are scheduled for release in late 2008 and early 2009, respectively.

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