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Meet the German-Based Production Studio Run on Collaborative Power and an Ever-Growing Devotion to Animation

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With adidas, Nike, Google and Apple on its client roster, Woodblock production company is behind some of the biggest campaigns and short films across the globe

Meet the German-Based Production Studio Run on Collaborative Power and an Ever-Growing Devotion to Animation
After meeting at Filmakademie Baden-Wuerttemberg, one of the most internationally renowned film schools in the world, a group of aspiring filmmakers banded together to form independent production company and studio for animated content, Woodblock. 

Despite being students at the time, the founding group - made up of executive producers Ilija Brunck and Fabian (Pit) Pross alongside creative directors, Jan Bitzer, Csaba Letay and Tom Weber, and finance and legal director Jona Brunck - had saved up enough budget to launch the studio upon their graduation from film school. 

“It was pretty German of us!” laughs Pit, “and something that we’re really proud of. We knew that when we came out of school we wanted to own a studio so we budgeted enough to rent an office and buy a little bit of hardware and software.”

Now a full blown animation and VFX studio, Woodblock produces everything from commercials, series, and independent films, to immersive content, game trailers and music videos, offering a full service with premium product presentation and character animation at their core. 

With the effortless ability to design and create inspiring visual stories, the team consistently collaborates with a string of mega-brands including Riot Games, Ubisoft, Microsoft, Porsche, Mercedes-Benz, Nissan, Disney, MTV, Nickelodeon, Playmobil, Greenpeace and WWF.

Their recent work with Berlin Agency Heimat for natural care brand Dr. Hauschka saw Woodblock tasked with presenting the brand vision in a stunning and innovative way, true to the brand's nature-centric values.

“This is a task that we have lots of experience with and a strong voice on,” Ilija says. “Lifestyle brands like Apple, adidas and Oppo have collaborated with us to deliver their brand message and we are always game to push the boundaries of storytelling.”

International Recognition

Based in Berlin, with another team housed in Ludwigsburg (in close proximity to their alma mater - a good location to work with new emerging talent), Woodblock was no stranger to commercial work upon its launch in 2013. Founded by directing collective Polynoid, the team had been producing highly recognised and awarded short films and commercials since their time at film school. Many of them also worked at high profile studios such as The Mill, Psyop, Buck, Markenfilm and Polygon Pictures.

After their film education, the collective ran a successful, worldwide festival cycle that resulted in numerous high profile recognitions including Best in Show at Siggraph, Best Digital Visual Effects at VIEW Conference, Best Animation at Bamberger Kurzfilmtage, and Outstanding Visual Effects in a Student Project at VES Awards.

Pit recounts: “When we came out of university, we used the success from our final pieces to help us build connections with reps at bigger studios such as Passion Pictures, and also with Psyop who started to rep us with their daughter company Blacklist in the US market.” 

In 2019, Woodblock teamed up with Studio Seufz for the animation and production of Freddie Mercury’s ‘Love Me Like There’s No Tomorrow’. The music video was created to mark his 73rd birthday and to bring awareness to the fight against AIDS.

“Freddie was a genius. We love the song, so we leapt at the chance to get involved,” Ilija says. “The project came to us through our close partners and US reps Friends Electric, with animation duo Beth&Esteban directing. They had a clear creative vision for the project and our task was to bring it to life in a beautiful way.” The video was awarded Bronze for Music Video Animation at Ciclope Festival earlier this year.

The Collective Grows

Using the same spirit of friendship that the partners cultivated with Polynoid, Woodblock has been built as carefully and as organically as possible, selecting those that complement the strong bond they hold as a team.

“The core of our team is made up of veteran artists with decades of experience in the industry, as well as fresh blood that's pushing the boundaries daily and keeping the seniors on their toes. We consider all of our colleagues as close friends,” Ilija says. “We’re collaborating in the studio day in, day out, so we have more than just a business relationship. We love working with people who are comfortable with self-sufficient solution-finding and are highly self-motivated.”

Now with a tight-knit group of 25 elite digital artists, producers and technical directors, Woodblock are globally respected for their innovative approach, high-quality output and ability to produce a wide range of styles. 

Whether working direct-to-client or partnering up with agencies and production companies, it’s the undying passion for the process that keeps the team delivering at the very best of their abilities. “There’s something very satisfying in taking a concept and just executing it at a higher level to surpass expectations,” Pit enthuses. “We take pleasure in analysing a client’s needs and solving them through animation design and filmmaking of the highest standards.” 

Planet Polywood

But their devotion to animation does not stop there. The team also hold a publishing arm called Planet Polywood, spearheaded by Ilija. He says: “We are putting a big focus on IP development, bundling our efforts into our new label Planet Polywood. Our goal is to push forward the process of how independent animation is produced - creator driven, fast, and in stunning quality.” 

Fast Heroes Sixty and Space Probe Force are our first IPs out in the open. For Space Probe Force, to date we have created a mobile game, a coloring book, a concept for a TV series, and a VR experience. We are also in active talks with broadcasters and publishers about taking the experience further. With our diverse and original development slate, we have set out to produce outstanding animated content in Germany for a global audience” he continues.

Building Upon Strong Foundations

With the power of their collective energy, combined with their finely nurtured brand relationships, Woodblock have built a stand-out studio delivering dynamic work that breaks barriers, continuously explores new avenues of technology and most of all, breathes life into high-end animation design.

Looking ahead to what’s next for the studio, Pit says: “At the moment we’re full steam ahead on the next Polynoid short film which we hope to finish in late 2020. As we continue to grow, we’re looking to break into the Latin American market and would love to do some more local work here in Germany too.”

“Besides client projects we always have self-initiated projects running. Our own films as directors and creatives are the origins of Woodblock and have always had a high priority for us. We’re excited to be able to show the world some more of our independently created passion projects.”

Woodblock are repped in the UK & USA by Friends Electric 
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Woodblock, Thu, 23 Apr 2020 12:24:33 GMT