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News: New Media

NMC Wire: Member Spotlight: Stacy Burstin

Wednesday, December 02, 2015   (0 Comments)
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See the full NMC Wire here.  Below is this month's Member Spotlight.


"So many people in the PGA are talking about VR. They want to learn about it, understand how it works with branded content and be ready for the coming shift in opportunities for traditional producers.”

Stacy Burstin graduated from UCLA to begin a career as an artist. Her parents are a doctor and a nurse and they voted for something more traditional – a "real” profession like…Law. But Burstin was sure about art – until she wasn’t. She discovered digital media and has never looked back.

Her first position was with Warner New Media in 1993. "It was innovative for the time. We produced a game called ‘Hell Cab’, one of the first ever interactive CD-ROM titles. Before long, I was exposed to phenomenal artists in all areas of production.” Rather than compete with such talent, Burstin chose to represent artists and became an agent for photographers and directors. A bit later, one of her clients told her that a well-known visual effects company was looking to fill a position with the title of Art Department Manager and she was immediately interested.

Burstin’s high expectations were exceeded when, in her first week, the company won the Oscar for ‘Babe’. Then – reality. "As soon as I was hired, I was instructed to lay off 80% of my department.” It was devastating losing such great talent. When I was an agent, value was measured by how much money I could bring in, so I used that experience to plan my next steps. In 1999, I launched the Design Division and brought in additional revenue to the company. I was able to use that money to pay for and retain a core group of designers, art directors and artists, expanding the division from 3 to 60 people to support the entire studio. As Executive Producer, I oversaw the Art Directors, Animation Directors, Concept Designers and the creative development teams. I also setup and oversaw the matte/environment and texture departments. It was more than fun working with people who became life-long friends.”

Burstin also helped launch the innovative production company Blockade. This venture resulted in her first independent EP credit, adapting the Sony Game property ‘Heavenly Sword’ to a film.

In 2000, she co-founded a Los Angeles based company called Eevolver, Inc. a toy & merchandise company that created original toys distributed at Toys R Us, Walmart and other major stores. "It satisfied my entrepreneurial passion and wasn’t competitive with the VFX company I was working for.”

In 2013 the VFX company declared bankruptcy. It was during the time when more and more effects and animation work was being outsourced overseas. "We then shifted Eevolver’s focus to follow my Design Division business model. Eevolver provides creative services for feature films, commercials, VR and special venue films. Our success is due greatly to the relationships we built over the years and the relationships we are part of today.”

Eevolver’s creative teams collaborate closely with directors, writers and studios to develop and produce projects. "My company is a creative resource that cost effectively integrates high level creative, VFX, and animation to optimize story, staging, design, layout/pre-vis and production. We just finished character development work for ‘Woody Woodpecker’ with Alex Zamm directing for NBC/Universal and worked on ‘Alvin And The Chipmunks 4’ for Fox. Eevolver also has projects that will be seen in multiple 2016 Super Bowl 50 spots this year. With our expansion into animated features, we have developed projects for Vanguard Animation and Original Force.”

Burstin continues to expand the potential for her company by branching out again with her own co-productions. "We had our first animated film green-lit this week. It’s called ‘The Land of Sometimes’ and is an international co-production with Nottage Productions, Inc. and Ewan MacGregor and Terry Jones attached. We have another Nottage Productions, Inc. film with Universal distribution titled ‘Reds & Grays’. R&G’s is close to being green-lit and has an Academy and Emmy award winning cast attached with Leon Joosen as the Director. We’re committed to owning content and co-producing projects that work for us. It’s been great to start with a fresh slate of new IP.”

There is also growing opportunity in special venue and augmented reality productions. Eevolver co-produced ‘CONSTANTINE’ for NBC Universal at Comic Con with PGA member Jenni Ogden - Eye Q Productions and Vortex, which won best Full Dome Experience at Digital Hollywood 2015. Another recent project was a 4K stereoscopic Dome film, opening in Qatar, with PGA members and friends Alison Savitch and Daniel Flannery.

Burstin knows that the VR evolution is going to be similar to the rest of the industry – it’s the content creators that really make a difference and make the money. "Today, VR is most often part of an overall cross-branding package. One of my favorite projects was the ReelFX VR ‘Book of Life’ experience. We feel the urgency to figure out what VR is and how to integrate it effectively and cost efficiently.”

In the last but not the least category, together with her Eevolver co-founder and business partner, David Keller, a thirty-year veteran in the VFX industry, Burstin launched EevolveIT, which successfully works with small and mid-range companies around the world on IT architecture, support, maintenance, and infrastructure services.

"I started with the PGA on the recommendation of Dina Benadon, another Board member. She also suggested I run for the Board and I’m glad I did. It’s been fantastic. We produced the exciting and successful YouTube event and are planning a big VR event in March. It will spotlight awesome speakers, including Robert Stromberg, who started VR Company and worked on ‘Alice In Wonderland’ and ‘Avatar’ (he won an Oscar for both). Other key speakers include Epic, The Void, NBA/NextVR and GE.”

In addition to her involvement with the PGA and the NMC, Burstin is on the Board of Women in Animation, a group recently re-established to bring female created & produced talent to the forefront in the animation industry.

Question of the Month: Where can we see Eevolver’s work next?

"We’re finishing up our latest Special Venue project, a Mermaid animation installation that you can see at LAX Bradley International airport. An innovative, themed entertainment award-winner, the Bradley International Environmental Media Experience will open in about two weeks. It’s immersive and displayed on four enormous eighty-foot high LED screens in the middle of the international terminal. The project was developed by JCDecaux, and envisioned by Warren Noronha (Artist Media Publishing Founder & Creative), VFX veteran and VES board member Richard Taylor and Jon9, CEO of Holonyne Corporation. An amazing group to work with and an exciting project.”

"We have a consistent flow of advertising projects for companies like Bank of America, Emirates, Birds Eye and the recent Dramamine/Oculus commercials.”

"And, there are now over ten films we’re co-producing and attached to. Like most features, they won’t be finished for at least two years.”

"By combining my experience in film, games and special venue, we can leverage the newest technologies for creating totally new experiences.”