By Steve Porter
CENTENNIAL – Things are getting animated at Worker Studio.
Artists, storytellers and computer wizards are buzzing with creativity and humor at Innovation Pavilion, the Centennial-based startup incubator, bringing life to characters who can help a business build a brand and tell its story in an entertaining way. [View video below.]
The animation studio was founded by Michael “Ffish” Hemschoot, a 16-year veteran of the animation and visual effects industry who has worked on projects with Sony Pictures, Warner Bros., Disney and Paramount.
Hemschoot set up Worker Studio in Parker in 2009, and surfacing supervisor Tim Marx was already on board when journalist Jason Cangialosi – the studio’s “minister of message and propaganda” – joined the merry band last summer shortly after the studio moved from Parker to Centennial.
Hemschoot met Barry Kooser, Worker’s chief creative officer, while both were teaching at the Rocky Mountain College of Art and Design. Kooser joined Worker Studio in February, as did cartoonist Michael T. Scott in a partnership with his Happy Fatties cartoons.
“Everyone comes to the table with a wealth of experience in a way that really complements each other,” Cangialosi said.
Kooser, who worked for Walt Disney Animation Studios in Orlando, Florida on projects that included The Lion King, Pocahontas and Lilo and Stitch, said he returned to his native Colorado hoping to be part of something different.
“What we really want to do is bring something new to the marketplace,” he said. “Pixar, Disney, Sony – they’re all riding each other’s coattails somewhat. There’s lots of similarities in animation right now.”
Kooser said he’s finding that difference in the projects Worker Studio is tackling.
“I think we have some interesting properties that will help us get away from that (sameness),” he said. “We’re trying different styles. That’s the kind of variety we’re looking for.”
The studio’s mission is to help companies find their voice through animated messages that can run on their websites, on TV or wherever videos are shown.
“First and foremost, we try to identify what their story is,” said Cangialosi. “A lot of companies have difficulty in telling that story. We take the time to sit down with the leaders of a company and hear that story and what that company does.
“The goal is to tell that story in an entertaining way.”
Animation is not something that happens quickly, however. Kooser said a feature film like The Lion King can take up to five years to produce, and even a 90-second video can require a two-month turnaround.
That’s even with the sophisticated computer animation software that’s made animation far easier than its early days, when artists painstakingly drew frame after frame from scratch to produce movement.
But the seed of a character still starts the same way, Cangialosi said, with a single inspired drawing.
So why are these guys toiling away in a Denver suburb when they could be – and once were – hanging with the top professionals in California or Florida?
“I think it’s a lot of different reasons,” said Kooser. “It got to the point for me where people were making decisions who didn’t have any business making those decisions.
“I feel we have the credentials and background to do it without the backstabbing and egos like in L.A. Here, we can be who we are, have a good time and create some interesting content without worrying about the riff-raff.”
For New York native Cangialosi, it’s about living in a place that feels right.
“We all love Colorado and we all want to foster and nurture film in Colorado,” he said. “It’s a great place to live and work and foster creativity on a lot of levels.
“I think it’s a genuine desire by all of us to want to live here.”
And being in Innovation Pavilion has also helped make everyone feel it’s the right place to be.
“They have such as nurturing support for the digital arts,” Cangialosi said. “We just love the philosophy at Innovation Pavilion, and great things have happened here for us.”
For more information, visit www.worker-studio.com.