Animation and post set to thrive in futuristic facilities

With its sleek, futuristic look, fans are arguing over which bit of “Star Wars” technology it most resembles — an Imperial Walker or a Sandcrawler? — but Lucasfilm’s newly announced built-to-order facility in Singapore promises more down-to-earth benefits for the company.

The Singapore branches of Lucasfilm Animation, LucasArts Games and Industrial Light & Magic already have 400 staffers and are outgrowing their current digs in the Signature Building in Changi Business Park.

The eight-story building, to be built above a public garden, will be in the Fusionopolis area, a media-oriented district more centrally located, offering better amenities for staff.

Groundbreaking is skedded for next year with completion slated for late 2012 or early 2013.

Colum Slevin, vice president/head of studio operations for Lucasfilm Animation, oversees ILM Singapore from San Francisco. Xavier Nicolas runs the facility locally.

Animation on Cartoon Network’s “Clone Wars” skein is done out of Lucasfilm’s Singapore branch and company plans to move that division into feature animation.

ILM Singapore hasn’t taken the lead on any movies yet, but Lucasfilm prexy Micheline Chau says the hope is that it will.

“It’s not there yet but it’s getting there. The progress that facility has made has astonished us,” says Chau.

San Francisco-based Lucasfilm chose Singapore for its first overseas facility some five years ago.

“We wanted to move to a place that people wanted to live. And we’re finding that to be true,” says Chau.

“It’s a very cosmopolitan society and there’s a great mix of cultures there, so you don’t feel foreign coming there as a foreigner. Also, since immigration is fairly open it’s easy for us to attract talent.”

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