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Rise Visual Effects Studios Launches New Animation Division (EXCLUSIVE)

Rise division heads Sinje Gebauer, Ulrich
Rise Visual Effects Studios/Louis Zeno Kuhn

Germany’s Rise Visual Effects Studios has established its own animation studio for high-end film and series productions in Munich, where the company has appointed animation expert and VFX producer Sinje Gebauer to head its Munich office as well as the new division.

The new animation unit will act as an independent, creative arm within the Rise group, mainly handling animation projects from the production slate of Rise Pictures with a strong focus on visual development and concept art, according to the company.

Gebauer, who has served as senior VFX producer on such films as “Aquaman,” “Tomb Raider” and “Black Panther,” will take over as new managing director of Rise’s Munich office in August, succeeding Dominik Trimborn, who is leaving the company at his own request after five years.

“I’m looking forward to the new challenge,” Gebauer said. “For me, Rise has for years stood for innovation and outstanding entrepreneurship. We would now like to raise and expand the Munich location to an even higher level.”

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Rise is currently expanding its Munich offices, tripling the available space to accommodate the 80 new employees working in the new animation studio and putting the total number of personnel at the group’s Bavarian branch at 120.

“The further development of young and established talents is also very important to me,” Gebauer added. “This also means for me the creation of sustainable and long-term jobs.”

Gebauer most recently served as head of studio at Belgium entertainment group Studio 100’s Studio Isar Animation in Munich, where she has also taught at the University of Television and Film (HFF München).

She takes over the management of the branch from Dominik Trimborn, who is leaving the company at his own request after five years.

“With Sinje we are gaining a managing director in Munich who has many years of international experience in both VFX and animation film, an area that we are now explicitly expanding at our Munich location,” noted Rise Visual Effects Studios managing director Sven Pannicke.

The unit’s first project with an international focus will be “Igraine the Brave,” a 3D-animated fantasy adventure based on the novel by bestselling author Cornelia Funke, which Rise Pictures is producing with Uncharted Territory.

The new studio will also handle a new animated feature film and accompanying TV series based on an iconic German cartoon brand under development at Rise Pictures.

“Rise Visual Effects Studios enjoys a high reputation worldwide and stands for groundbreaking VFX for such film successes as ‘Avengers: Endgame’ and ‘The Matrix 4,'” said Ulrich Schwarz, Rise Pictures’ head of production. “With the new studio, Rise will also advance into this league with its animation.”

The group has already proven that it can produce high-end animation with “Dragon Rider,” likewise based on a Funke property, which Rise Pictures co-produced with Constantin Film, Schwarz added. Rise Visual Effects Studios handled the animation work on the film.

The new division is particularly ideal for Rise’s production arm, Schwarz noted. In addition to providing VFX teams for the group’s live-action productions, such as Joe Pennna’s sci-fi thriller “Stowaway,” produced with XYZ Films and Cologne-based Augenschein Filmproduktion, the company can now also access “an equally strong and experienced team in animation. The Rise group is positioned vertically and now delivers unique production, animation and VFX from a single source.”

Rise Visual Effects Studios is headquartered in Berlin and also has branches in Cologne, Stuttgart and London in addition to its Munich site.

(Pictured: Sinje Gebauer, Ulrich Schwarz)