French co. will start producing CG pics

Vidgame publisher Ubisoft is making a play in animation.

As part of a major expansion of its Montreal studio announced Friday, the French company revealed that it will start producing CG animated pics at the facility.

The publisher plans to start with shorts based on its existing vidgame properties, though it will likely move into features in the future.

“We could create original features or do work in partnership with studios,” said spokesman Jaime Borasi.

While the technology and talent used for vidgame and CG animation have increasingly converged in recent years, Ubisoft is the first game publisher to move into movie production since Square Enix’s ill-fated attempt with the unsuccessful “Final Fantasy” film in 2001.

Ubisoft’s first project will be an eight minute animated short based on “Assassin’s Creed,” a stealth action game that takes place during the Crusades. Ubisoft will distribute it online and possibly along with the game.

Publisher is getting approximately $384 million in subsidies from the Canadian and Quebecois governments to add about 1,000 employees to its Montreal studio by 2013. It currently has 1,600 people at the facility.

About 500 new employees are expected to work on game development, while 500 more will start the CGI animation unit.

“Videogame production has progressively moved closed and closer to film and television production and this convergence will only intensify in the coming years,” Ubisoft CEO Yves Guillemot said in a statement. “Today’s launch of a studio specializing in film creation will allow Ubisoft to be a pioneer in the domain for the years to come.”

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