Last Studio Standing Starts with Tonya

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Tue, 01/24/2017 - 11:57 -- Nick Dager

The first film from Last Studio Standing is Tonya (almost) Saves the Earth.Vancouver’s ConVRter Technologies is partnering with Conexion Creativa of Colombia to create Last Studio Standing, which they say will be the largest hand drawn studio in the Americas. The company is focusing on science fiction-based animated film and television productions including science based children's content. In addition, they will co-produce adult animation content that does not fall into the manga genre. The first film from Last Studio Standing is Tonya (almost) Saves the Earth, a sci-fi comedy to be released in the spring of 2017.

In the film, a 13-year-old high school student is abducted at random and asked to mount a defense of humanity against aliens who believe the humans are too violent and aggressive for the safety of the galaxy. As evidence, the aliens rely on intercepted Hollywood films that show human's triumphantly killing the aliens time and again.

"We are taking a new path for animated film, but one that is well traveled in graphic novels and popular with audiences, yet not as prevalent in the mainstream media as it should be," said ConVRter Technologies CEO Jonathan Kitzen.

Conexion Creativa has over two decades of animation experience and has produced nearly 10,000 minutes of on-air programming to date. "With the new joint venture we will now be entering the North American and European market for the first time," said Hernan Zajec, president of Conexion Creativa.

Until now, Conexion Creativa had been focused on Spanish language programming for Central and South American audiences, but with the new Canadian entity, the company plans on homing in on English language entertainment for the first time.

The formation of Last Studio Standing marries the latest improvements in Computer Generated Imaging, visual artificial intelligence, convolutional neural networks, sound design, and new Ultra HD workflow with old-school organic drawing. Conexion Creativa is the last large hand drawn animation studio in all of North and South America, and one of only two in the world still using a paper workflow. Conexion Creativa will focus on character design and the core of the animation.

The plan is a hybrid of hand drawn and computer generated backgrounds that combine the two systems for a fast and efficient workflow.

"Hand drawn still has its place in a world of CGI. There is still a desire for that organic look, that quality a computer cannot create, however, with this hybrid approach, I think we get the best of both worlds," said Zajec.

"CGI has its place but that doesn't mean that hand drawn is dead—there is a desire for both according to extensive market research," added Kitzen.

Tonya (almost) Saves the Earth has taken on new importance for its creators. "At first we thought it was just a fun film – but after Brexit, Trump, and the rise of anti-religious and anti-immigrant political movements it really became a film about xenophobia and the fear of 'other' that is a very human fear," said Jessica Hendrickson, who is a creative producer on the project.

"It is a good film because Last Studio Standing is all about making two competing styles get along so it is metaphorically about story, the real world, and combinations that have new outcomes – it is a good place for a company to start," said Zajec.

Last Studio Standing