Cyber Group Studios, one of France’s leading animation producers and distributors, is developing the series “Alex Player” and “Digital Girl” with its new partners in the U.K., Italy and Singapore.
Recent hits from the company, run by chairman and CEO Pierre Sissmann and COO Dominique Bourse, include Season 3 of “Gigantosaurus” and “Droners.”
Earlier this month, Cyber Group Studios moved into new headquarters in Paris, complemented by its real-time animation studio Roubaix, Haut de France. It has an office in Burbank, California, U.S., run by Karen K. Miller.
In early 2022, the studio acquired a majority stake in Rome-based Graphilm Entertainment, run by CEO and creative director Maurizio Forestieri, and exec producer Anna Lucia Pisanelli, and Singapore-based Scrawl Animation, run by director Choon Meng Seng and Chi Kong Wong, the chief operations officer.
“Working internationally has been in our DNA ever since we began our studio in 2005,” explains Raphaelle Mathieu, executive vice president. “Over the last couple of years, due to the pandemic and other factors, the world is becoming more regionalized. In order to get into a territory, it makes more sense if you have a local subsidiary or partner.”
CGS and Scrawl previously worked on two CGI animated series, “Zou” and “Mademoiselle Zazie.” “Our partnership with Scrawl is extremely important for us since it gives us much better access to the Asian market,” says Mathieu. “It gives us access to local talent and makes us more efficient in the region and more appealing to global viewers.”
CGS, Graphilm and Scrawl are now co-producing e-sports series “Alex Player,” commissioned by France Télévisions in France and RAI in Italy. An original creation from Cyber Group Studios and Bee Prod in France, the series is also coproduced by Webedia in France. It’s about a 12-year-old sports videogame player who dreams of winning the national interschools “Land of Titans” championship. CGS had formerly worked with Graphilm on “Nefertine on the Nile,” produced in partnership with RAI.
“Alex Player” uses real-time animation, powered by Unreal Engine, leveraged by Cyber Group’s new real time animation studio in Plaine Images, a Hauts-de-France innovation park, one of the leading animation and VR hubs in France. “’Alex Player’ will also be Singapore’s first long-term animation series produced using the real-time pipeline,” explains Mathieu. “This enables Scrawl Animation to serve as an important node in Cyber Group Studios’ global real-time workflow.”
CGS previously used real-time animation on “Giganto Club,” an original series inspired by its “Gigantosaurus” franchise. “Our aim is to make our studio in Plaine Images the biggest platform in France for real time animation and 2D and 3D animation,” says Mathieu.
Cyber Group Studios is also developing a new series with Graphilm, “The McFire Family,” for French kids’ channel Gulli (part of M6 Group), which will be a coproduction with Italy.
In 2022, the studio inked a joint venture with A Productions (“Love Monster”), based in Bristol, U.K., whose managing directors are Katherine McQueen and Mark Taylor, which is now producing “Digital Girl,” an animated series, created by Sissmann, commissioned by BBC and pre-sold to Super RTL in Germany and Discovery Kids across Latin America. Set in an ecological Frisco City of the future, it will use real-time technology.
A Productions’ previous studio work includes “JoJo and Gran Gran” for CBeebies and “The Monster at the End of This Story” – Sesame Street’s first ever animated special for Sesame Workshop.
China is a key market for CGS’s strategy. CCTV has acquired all three seasons of “Gigantosaurus” as well as “Taffy,” a co-production with Turner, France Télévisions and now Gulli.
Last year, CGS joined forces with Nippon Animation, Japan, to co-produce a feature-length film based on the classic Japanese series “Tico and Friends.” The feature-length film “Nanami and the Quest for Atlantis” aims to cement a long-term collaboration between the partners, including Nippon Animation’s classic series and new ventures.
Cyber Group Studios’ lineup also includes projects aimed at teen and older audiences, such as “The Tern,” based on the “manfra” art style, which blends French and Japanese graphic styles, that ranked as the most attended screening at 2022 Cartoon Forum.
The studio has partnered with Square Enix Co. Ltd. for an adaptation of Final Fantasy IX into an animation series for the first time. The U.S. office has partnered with OTT streaming service Peacock to develop its first animated series “Press Start!”
CGS also recently established a partnership with L.A.-based children’s entertainment studio Splash Entertainment to create and produce original animated series and feature films.
Mathieu says that she is delighted by the synergies being created within the group and highlights an in-house seminar held in mid-2022 in La Baule, France. “We had the chance to shares ideas, strategy, aspirations and above all emotion. It was the first time that we had our people from Singapore, Bristol, Rome, L.A., Paris Roubaix all together. It was one of the best moments of last year!”