THE COOL FACTOR
With its recent move to a 74,000-square-foot building in the hip Deep
Ellum district of Dallas, the veteran spot shop Reel FX Creative
Studios is gearing up for a major expansion into children’s
"We began as a work-for-hire service company, but over the years we’ve
also been working on a strategy to develop our own content," says Reel
FX executive vice president Dale Carman, who co-founded the firm in
1993 with David Needham.
Reel FX has launched a joint venture with Robots creator William Joyce,
to produce feature films, videogames and even good-old-fashioned books,
with their first title now in development. Joyce’s previous creations
include the animated series Rolie Polie Olie for the Disney Channel and
George Shrinks for PBS-which Joyce adapted from his children’s book
about the diminutive George.
The motion-graphics firm is staffing up with kiddie-content mavens like
Barney and Friends creatives Dennis DeShazer and Jon Green, who are
developing properties for the pre-school set. Also on board is Disney
veteran and Shark Tale animator Ken Duncan, who has launched the firm’s
West Coast office, a four-person shop in Pasadena, CA.
"The core of our business is people and talent," says Carman. "I met
Ken and there was great synergy, so we decided to open a Pasadena
office. I like to find the right people and then move ahead with what
we want to do."
WHAT’S THEIR GIG?
Effects-intensive spots have long been the mainstay at Reel FX, which
works regularly with branding powerhouse TracyLocke and its
youth-oriented marketing firm, Uproar.
Once a two-person venture, the Dallas operation has grown to about a
hundred staffers. The new facility in Deep Ellum boasts seven Discreet
finishing suites, four Digidesign ProTools audio suites, and dozens of
graphics, animation and effects workstations. "But every job still
begins with pencil and paper," says Carman.
Dallas -based TracyLocke calls on Reel FX to animate commercials for a
wide range of Playskool and Hasbro toys, including My Little Pony, Mr.
Potato Head and G.I. Joe. Reel FX also tested the waters of long-form
animation by providing turnkey production services on G.I Joe: Valor
Vs. Venom and Action Man X Missions: The Movie, a pair of
direct-to-DVD/video children’s titles from Hasbro.
Director Robert Rodriquez tapped Reel FX to create effects shots for
the amusement park sequence at the beginning of Spy Kids 2: Island of
Lost Dreams, which were crafted with 2d3 Boujou, Alias Maya and
Discreet Inferno. The company has also developed effects shots for the
Disney Channel movies Now You See It, Pixel Perfect and Halloween Town
THE GEEK FACTOR
Gigabit Ethernet is standard throughout the facility, whose
climate-controlled data center houses a 400-processor render farm and
an SGI InfiniteStorage SAN with CXFS file-sharing. Reel FX is a
longtime alpha- and beta-tester for Discreet products, but prefers
home-grown software: A staff of seven in-house developers is at work on
an array of proprietary apps, "from project management to rendering to
custom tools for rigging and skinning," says Carman.
WHAT THEY DO
The fast-growing Dallas shop creates effects-intensive spots for the
likes of Pepsi, Habro and Gatorade. Reel FX has also produced two
animated DVD titles for Hasbro-and inked a co-production deal to
develop feature films, videogames and books with Robots creator William
WHO THEY ARE
Dale Carman, David Needham, Jon Greene and Dennis DeShazer, executive
vice presidents; Steve O’Brien, chief executive; Ken Duncan, creative
Discreet Flame, Discreet Inferno, Discreet Smoke, Discreet Fire, Alias
Maya, 2d3 Boujou, D2 Nuke, Adobe Photoshop, Adobe Painter, SGI SAN w/
CXFS, Digidesign ProTools
Reel FX Creative Studios
301 N. Crowdus St.
Dallas, TX 75226
Reel FX West
95 N. Marengo Ave.
Pasadena, CA 91103