BV, Pathe ink to distrib toon

'Renaissance' modeled in 3-D, animated by actors

Hot on the heels of the Japanese animated success “Spirited Away,” Buena Vista will distribute in the U.S. the $15 million Gallic co-production “Renaissance,” a futuristic animated feature using a specially developed 3-D technique.

The pic is co-produced by France’s Onyx Films, until now best known for its short films, and Millimages, France’s biggest animation producer. Jake Eberts, the veteran producer of such pics as “Dancing With Wolves” and the animated “Chicken Run,” is associate executive producing.

Pathe will distribute the film in France while the producers are in advanced talks with a U.K. international sales agent.

Pic, which is about to go into production, is directed by Christian Volckman, who has worked for several Hollywood animation studios as a designer or animator. His short film “Maaz” was nominated for an Oscar in 1999.

Helene Giraud is responsible for graphic development and the screenwriters are Alexandre de la Patelliere and Mathieu Delaport. Writers Patrick Reynal and Jean-Bernard Pouy also contributed.

Presenting the project in Cannes Saturday, producers Aton Soumache of Onyx and Roch Lener of Millimages described “Renaissance” as a dark thriller aimed at teenage and adult audiences.

In black-and-white with touches of color, the pic will use a brand new animation technique developed specially for the film by Onyx, Millimage and the French animation studio Attitude Studio.

Lener says: “The characters are modeled in 3-D but animated by captors on real actors, giving a really life-like quality to their movement.”

Millimages produces some 45 hours of animation each year, the equivalent of four 26×26 minute series.

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