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Company 3 Animation Plays Key Role in new Space Jam

Company 3 Animation is proud of its role in the creation of Space Jam: A New Legacy, the hilarious movie from Warner Bros. that teams basketball superstar LeBron James and the beloved Loony Toons troupe of characters. A tribute to the original Space Jam, in which Bugs Bunny, Daffy Duck and the rest of the team interacts with the legendary Michael Jordan.

Based in Hollywood, CA Company 3 Animation is comprised of many talented artists and animation veterans working remotely from throughout the world to create the roughly 11 minutes of 2D hand-drawn animation and compositing which was overseen by Warner Animation Group. (ILM created the CG segments of the film.) Company 3 Animation also handled the majority of the creative cleanup work on an additional 12 minutes of work that originated with other animation companies.

A New Legacy was directed by Malcolm D. Lee (Girl's Trip and Barbershop: The Next Cut) and Spike Brandt (of the recently-released Loony Tunes, Tom & Jerry shorts) served as overall Animation Supervisor at WAG. Company 3's Michael Lahay, based in Toronto, oversaw all Company 3 Animation's work as well as coordinating the artistic efforts happening at company locations in Hollywood, CA, Toronto, Ontario and in Pune, India, all under the watchful eye of animation producer Leslie Barker and Line Producer Maria Ximena Lozano.

"We had about 400 artists employed on the project," Barker recalls, elaborating that these broke down as roughly 107 animation and clean up animation artists, 60 FX animation artists and 100 artists between background artists and compositors.

For James Hathcock, the Hollywood-based Director of Technical Operations for the company, the project was reminiscent of one of his earliest jobs in the industry when he worked on the original Space Jam. "When I worked on that one," he says, "animators were still drawing on paper. While there's not much of that happening anymore, there is still a lot about these types of hybrid movies that that's very similar. They still draw the characters freehand, they just work in Toon Boom Harmony" --  the industry standard for 2D animation projects, which Lahay played an instrumental role in developing.

This was particularly helpful given the fact that all the work was done remotely and had to be viewed and shared among large teams. "We had a lot of very talented artists from all over the world working with us on this project," Lahay notes. "Animation Veterans such as John Pomeroy, Len Simon, Derlie Brewster and Michel Gagné -- Everyone was able to work as though we were all in the same building which was critical for such a large team. Our studio in Pune did a wonderful job with Animation Cleanup and Ink & Paint. I think it's fair to say that their artists were instrumental in helping us complete with project on time."

Generations of people worldwide know the Loony Toons characters and so drawing and animating them is no small feat. The teams at CO3 Animation worked collaboratively with the artists at WAG to ensure the animators understood the characters motivations and subtleties of how they act in different situations.

Character animation is about much more than any individual drawing. Animators are also "actors", Lahay notes, the artists are always making creative choices to convey the characters' thoughts through expressions and behaviors.

"We would always talk about [Bugs Bunny's] motivation. Bug’s especially would often have motives that conflicted with his lines, this would have to communicated to the audience visually.

A New Legacy represents an important milestone for Company 3 Animation. Warner Bros. showed a great deal of trust in their animators to contribute such an extensive amount of animation -- particularly of the Loony Toons characters -- to this high-profile feature film and the entire company rose to the challenge. After all, working on these particular characters is a dream for a huge number of people who choose to become animators.

"I remember an exact moment where I was sitting in an office working on the first shot," Lahay recounts with excitement, "I kept thinking to myself, 'Here I am drawing Bugs Bunny!'"


Green Eggs and Ham

Season 1