Build­ing on a Legacy of Ex­cel­lence

Rus­sia’s Soyuz­mult­film un­veils an am­bi­tious slate of an­i­mated projects across dif­fer­ent me­dia.

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Fans of world an­i­ma­tion don’t need any in­tro­duc­tion to the legacy of Soyuz­mult­film, the ac­claimed Moscow-based stu­dio that has pro­duced over 1,500 car­toons since it opened its doors in 1936. Best known for ti­tles such as Win­ni­ethe-Pooh, Gena the Croc­o­dile, The Snow Queen, Mowgli, I Will Get You! and Hedge­hog in the Fog, the team at Soyuz­mult­film use a va­ri­ety of an­i­ma­tion tech­niques, in­cluded stop-mo­tion, clay and hand-drawn an­i­ma­tion to pro­duce their well-loved projects. Today, the com­pany is ac­tive in both fea­ture films, TV se­ries and shorts pro­duc­tion and dis­tri­bu­tion, guided by a view to­ward the fu­ture com­bined with a com­mit­ment to pre­serv­ing tra­di­tion. “The stu­dio is also a mul­ti­fac­eted group of pro­duc­tion, ed­u­ca­tional fa­cil­i­ties, a thriv­ing li­cens­ing busi­ness, an an­i­ma­tion tech­nol­ogy park, a chil­dren’s ed­u­ca­tional and recre­ational cen­ter, in-house ad­vanced train­ing for an­i­ma­tors, and a net­work of mul­ti­me­dia cen­ters,” says stu­dio’s di­rec­tor Boris Mashkovt­sev. “Al­though the stu­dio was founded al­most 85 years ago, the new era of the stu­dio as a mod­ern en­tity be­gan about three years ago,”adds the stu­dio’s chair­woman of the board Yu­liana Slascheva. “The com­pany has made tremen­dous strides and has be­come a pro­duc­tion leader in the coun­try: We had over 600 min­utes of fin­ished prod­uct last year. We cur­rently em­ploy over 300 peo­ple, 250 of which are en­gaged in pro­duc­tion work.” “Our short films re­flect our ros­ter of young and tal­ented an­i­ma­tors to ex­per­i­ment and pro­duce more artis­tic an­i­ma­tion,” adds Yu­liana Slascheva. “Some of the stu­dio’s out­stand­ing projects won awards at top fes­ti­vals around the world, in­clud­ing the London Intl. Film Fes­ti­val and the An­necy Intl. An­i­ma­tion Fes­ti­val. In 2018, we re­leased the long-awaited fea­ture Hoff­ma­ni­ada, which pre­miered at the Ber­lin Film Fes­ti­val. Our next fea­ture is the his­toric epic Su­vorov, which will be re­leased in 2020.”

A Di­verse Slate of Projects

The artists at Soyuz­mult­film are also de­vel­op­ing and pro­duc­ing a wide range of an­i­mated se­ries tar­get­ing both younger and older fam­ily au­di­ences. In re­cent years, the com­pany has also de­vel­oped sev­eral unique tech­no­log­i­cal so­lu­tions, which will be to be patented. “Our spe­cial­ists have ac­cess to the latest, state-of-the-art tech­no­log­i­cal equip­ment and can work in any tech­nique they would like to,” says Slascheva. “We are glad to be able to give them this op­por­tu­nity. We also have spe­cial equip­ment for clay an­i­ma­tion and a won­der­ful stop-mo­tion pro­duc­tion hall. Rus­sian an­i­ma­tion has come a long way, and we’ve pre­served unique tech­niques: For ex­am­ple, Mr. Theo, Cat & Dog is pro­duced via hand-drawn an­i­ma­tion, which is highly la­bor-in­ten­sive and ex­pen­sive to pro­duce. It’s still a colos­sal man­ual work that pre­serves the unique style of Soyuz­mult­film projects that au­di­ences ex­pect to see.” Among the cur­rent an­i­mated projects of the stu­dio is Or­ange Moo Cow, an an­i­mated preschool show co-pro­duced by France’s Cy­ber Group Studios, a mu­si­cal show ti­tle Squared Ze­bra, The Ad­ven­tures of Peter and Wolf, Mr. Theo, Cat and Dog and Clay­mo­tions. In­spired by new col­lab­o­ra­tions with Cy­ber Group Studios, Soyuz­mult­film plans to ex­pand co-pro­duc­tions for sev­eral projects aimed at preschool and school au­di­ences. Both Slascheva and Mashkovt­sev are quite ex­cited about the fu­ture of the stu­dio as they work on dif­fer­ent av­enues to ex­pand the reach and ac­tiv­i­ties of their com­pany. “Soyuz­mult­film is not only an an­i­ma­tion stu­dio that pro­duces 600 min­utes of con­tent a year, but also a tech­nol­ogy park which pro­vides fa­cil­i­ties for other studios in CGI, mo­tion cap­ture, stop-mo­tion, cut-out and hand drawn an­i­ma­tion,” they add. “The stu­dio works not only as a film pro­duc­tion com­pany, but as a struc­tural el­e­ment of chil­dren cul­ture. It in­cludes two mu­se­ums de­voted to the his­tory of an­i­ma­tion. It or­ga­nizes ex­hi­bi­tions, fes­ti­vals and mas­ter-classes through all the coun­try. Chil­dren’s Soyuz­mult­club is a unique de­vel­op­ment cen­ter for chil­dren ages four and older, where they learn dif­fer­ent an­i­ma­tion tech­niques. There is also a record­ing stu­dio that helps show­case chil­dren’s tal­ents who wants to sing or to be a car­toon voice ac­tor, for ex­am­ple. The stu­dio is also quite ac­tive in pre­serv­ing pup­pet and clay an­i­ma­tion. We have de­vel­oped a new pro­duc­tion fa­cil­ity, with plans to pro­duce at least one an­i­mated short (with pup­pet and clay an­i­ma­tion) each year. “As we can all see, the an­i­ma­tion busi­ness has grown in more ways than any­one could have pre­dicted,” they con­clude. “We’re sure than both Rus­sian and in­ter­na­tional an­i­ma­tion will con­tinue to de­velop rapidly in the years ahead. The fu­ture will cer­tainly bring about many pos­si­bil­i­ties of the most un­ex­pected col­lab­o­ra­tions be­tween dif­fer­ent in­dus­tries and coun­tries.”

Boris Mashkovt­sev

Yu­liana Slascheva

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