For more than 15 years, Cyber Group Studios has had non-stop successes in France and overseas with a catalog beloved of younger viewers. And this major animation buyer doesn’t look set to slow down any time soon. Following on from the massive success of Gigantosaurus, which tells the exciting adventures of four little dinosaurs who regularly find themselves facing the great Gigantosaurus, Cyber Group Studios is preparing an original new series, Giganto Club, using cutting-edge animation technology. Raphaëlle Mathieu, Senior Vice-President Sales, Acquisitions and New Media, Cyber Group Studios, walks us through the chronicles of this Cretaceous-era creation that brings together comedy, adventure and state-of-the-art technology.
TV France: There are so many adventures for Rocky, Bill, Tiny and Mazu! And what a trip round the world!
Raphaelle Mathieu: Gigantosaurus has become the flagship series for Cyber Group Studios, having sold in more than 180 countries. On Free TV in the USA on Disney Junior, seasons 2 and 3 were commissioned by Disney and France Télévisions at the same time, which is particularly rare. Gigantosaurus has become an IP presented by the biggest TV channels in the world that includes CCTV in China, where it is one the few foreign series to be broadcast on this number one channel in the world! The series has also been sold to POP un Great Britain, Rai YOYO in Italy, TVP in Poland, and TV AZTECA in Mexico, to name but a few! For these reasons, we have developed a large range of derivative products that are now sold across the globe.
TV France: In addition to the derivative products, what other developments are you working on for Giganto Club?
Raphaelle Mathieu: We have also produced original short features based on the series and brand new songs with dedicated music videos. Upstream work on video games has allowed us to rethink the way we produce and has prompted us to anticipate assets for the series that are pre-used for video games. All of these extras are huge assets for international sales.
We have also developed an original new concept derived from Giganto Club. It is our first program developed entirely using real-time animation technology. We want to keep the brand we have created alive, and ensure that children the world over can find their favorite dinosaurs on various different media. Gigantosaurus is perfect for that, because the world of dinosaurs is so fascinating. It allows us to create content based on the original program to enrich that universe. With Giganto Club, we wanted to grow the brand and get even closer to children’s day-to-day lives. With Giganto Club, we are enriching our universe with a new club program which will bring viewers closer to Gigantosaurus.
TV France: You’re really giving it your all! Giganto Club will be at the forefront of animation production technology…
Raphaelle Mathieu: We really used our lockdown well. The idea originated with Olivier Lelardoux, studio head and Gigantosaurus director, but we all worked together to find different applications for this new technology for our content and to consider the impact that it could have on international partners and clients. To do that, we have remained faithful to the Cyber Group Studios ethos, which has always been to invest in and bet on the future. We have now created the biggest real-time animation studio in Europe – in Roubaix, France – which is just an hour away from Paris by train. Our new structure facilitates both our work and co-ordination between the studio and our Parisian HQ.
This technology enables us to produce differently, by capturing movements and using real-time. It also offers an incredibly beautiful quality of animation with fluidity of movement that was not possible with traditional animation, all the while saving time in the production process.
TV France: All this development is also possible thanks to your collaboration with Epic Games…
Raphaelle Mathieu: We have been working with the Epic Games team ever since we did the Gigantosaurus video game. Our collaboration has allowed us to develop the application of this technology to traditional animation. We are particularly proud that these developments, and those of Giganto Club in particular, were recognized by Epic and that they won a rare European MegaGrant. This has enriched our collaborations further and allowed us to continue recruiting the best talent, particularly Andreas J. Carlen. With 25 years of experience in real-time production and the mixing of animated series and video game production, Andreas is one of the best specialists in the business. Recently hired as Technical Director in charge of R&D and real-time technologies, he will be working closely with Olivier Lelardoux.
TV France: A new studio, new team members, new technologies… the expansion of Cyber Group Studios is endless!
Raphaelle Mathieu: We have always been committed to innovation in every sense of the word. And we have always tried to make the most of crisis situations to change and move forward. Lockdown was complicated for all of us, particularly for distributors who lost direct contact with their clients. That prompted us to create new tools for our international partners. We created our own rendez-vous – the “Cyber Screenings and Meetings” for which we created original presentations that were a great success. We also took the opportunity to finalize partnerships with Russia and China. And in January, we recruited Karen K. Miller to head up our Los Angeles office. Karen was head of purchasing at Disney and NBC Universal; she brings unique expertise and it is a true pleasure to work with her every day. And that is just the beginning!