DeFaria tops Warners' ani, VFX, d-prod'n


Warner Bros. Pictures has merged its visual effects and animation department with its digital production department, naming Chris deFaria as its head.

DeFaria, who most recently was senior vp physical production and visual effects at Warners, will be executive vp digital production, animation and visual effects at Warner Bros. Pictures. DeFaria also was a producer on the effects-heavy Warners movies "Cats & Dogs" and "Looney Tunes: Back in Action."

The new department's aim is to unify the production and management of visual effects and animation-driven films under one umbrella. DeFaria will oversee the division and its current staff and will soon hire another senior executive.

"This change is a response to the change in the environment for the kind of movies that Warners has been producing in the last couple of years," deFaria said. "In our estimation, it has become increasingly decentralized and reliant on emerging companies, many that come out of the visual effects area."

DeFaria said the while such companies as Pixar and DreamWorks Animation rely on a traditional animated business model — doing everything within its own corporate culture — "our own approach is to increasingly rely on emerging studios around the world, many of them companies seeking to transition from doing visual effects into doing animation."

He cited the studio's made-in-Australia "Happy Feet" as an example.

"What we are doing is creating projects that are more individual in tone and character," he said. "When you make a commitment to do that, it opens it up to trying to produce through the best and most talented companies out there."

Said Steve Papazian, Warners president of physical production: "The merging of visual effects and animation into digital production management enhances the ability to continue creative support while maximizing efficiency. It furthers our commitment to secure and develop the very best digital artistry worldwide in support of our filmmakers. DeFaria's unique talents and leadership allow us to further our goals and commitments."

DeFaria's primary responsibilities will include managing animation projects and visual effects-intensive scripts, using emerging technology and cutting-edge tools; exploring co-production opportunities with existing animation studios; searching out new progressive talent and tools; and continuing to oversee visual effects for all features and direct-to-DVD projects.

DeFaria and his team will continue working on such upcoming features as "300," "Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix" and "10,000 B.C." and will be a partner in Warners' strategy to exploit effects-heavy titles with an eye toward mobile content and other such marketing channels.

DeFaria, who has been with the company for more than 10 years, handled the visual effects elements of the studio's "Troy," "The Polar Express," the "Harry Potter" franchise, "Tim Burton's Corpse Bride" and the "Matrix" sequels.