Animation Company Final Frontier Launches in Shanghai
Final Frontier officially launched on May 11th, becoming the first international production company on the ground in China representing a roster of animation talent.
Based in Shanghai, Final Frontier represents a roll call of 15 world-class international animation studios and directors in the Asia-Pacific markets. The award-winning group includes design and motion studio Tendril (Toronto and São Paulo); stop motion specialists Can Can Club (Buenos Aires); motion design and animation studio, Le Cube (São Paulo & Buenos Aires); BleedVFX (Buenos Aires and Barcelona) best known for spectacular 3D simulations; and mixed media powerhouse Los York (Los Angeles & New York).
The company is fully equipped with expertise in 2D, 3D, motion graphics, stop-motion, FX (Fluid and Particle Simulation) and mixed media, as well as music and sound design for animation and video game projects.
Final Frontier opened for business in late 2017, founded by the same team behind Le Cube. Executive Producer of both companies, Gustavo Karam, explained that Le Cube had ambitions to expand into new markets, but didn't want to simply follow the crowd to the United States. After Le Cube’s first project in China in 2017 proved a resoundingly positive experience, Karam said, “It opened our eyes up to this vast, vibrant market, where the creative scene is blowing up and brands are hungry to explore new approaches.”
Final Frontier has since executed two major projects in Asia. For Year with Uber, Le Cube worked with R/GA Singapore to create personalised, region-specific 2D animated music videos based on Uber trip data. The campaign received widespread acclaim and a Motionographer Motion Award nomination in the UX/UI category.
The second was Nike China’s The Road to HBL with R/GA Shanghai, a stylised 90-second, 2D POV animation promoting the brand’s nascent basketball platform.
Road to HBL - directed by Le Cube
Describing the experience, R/GA ECD Terrence Leong said, “Working with Final Frontier was like working with R/GA’s twin brother. We both wanted to create only the best work and didn’t want to compromise on the quality... That means there were hours of discussions and debate... Hundreds of rounds of back and forth... Seriously, if Final Frontier wasn’t professional, confident, mature and patient in an intense process like this, it would have been a complete disaster. Fortunately, the work was awesome.”
Both campaigns reflect Final Frontier’s creative ethos as a whole, said Karam. “Our MO is quality, cutting-edge creativity and exceptional craft. Each studio and director in our roster was hand picked for exactly that reason.”
Tendril Executive Producer and Partner Kate Bate said: “Final Frontier, with Gustavo at the helm, is building an impressive team and we’re excited to be on this journey with them. We’ve learned that China appreciates a very high level of quality and Tendril will do what it takes to deliver work that is sure to impress!”
Until now, entirely animated commercials have been a rarity in Chinese campaigns, with animation services remaining just a small part of China-based agency, production and post house offerings.
Nike Tiempo Ice - directed by Tavo Studio
Asked what Final Frontier can bring to the market, Leong said, “Magic”, adding that, “This market needs more magic; people use too little of it in the work. We live in a very pragmatic society and our culture can benefit from experiences that fuck with our mind a little. The stories you can tell in animation have absolutely no boundaries. I just wonder why everybody isn’t using animation. And if you want to create magic, shouldn’t you look for the best magicians in the business?”
Unlike animation-focused production companies based overseas, Final Frontier’s presence in Shanghai allows face-to-face interaction with clients in the same time zone. “We’re committed to this market,” said Karam. “So it’s important for us to be here, to get to know our clients and partners, build trust and ensure super smooth communication.”
American Gods Coming To America - directed by Tendril
Additionally, Karam said, “Full immersion will give us a deeper, more authentic insight into the unique tone, wit, challenges and opportunities in campaigns for this market."
Final Frontier’s team in China currently comprises Gustavo Karam and a compact support staff. Karam will begin visiting agencies in Shanghai this month.
Final Frontier’s full roster includes Le Cube, Tendril, Los York, Can Can Club, Tavo Studio, Wonderlust, BleedVFX, Niceshit, 3DAR, Federico Heller, BlinkMyBrain, Daniel Semanas, César Pelizer and Gabriel Fermanelli.