BURBANK, Calif., Jan. 5 -- Warner Bros. announced Friday it will open an animation studio in London to work on significant portions of the studio's first full-length animated feature, 'The Quest for the Grail.' The Soho District studio will employ more than 50 animators who will animate completed storyboards and rough layouts from Warner's California studios using traditional techniques as well as cutting-edge computer processes.
The resulting clean animation will be transmitted digitally back to Los Angeles for ink and paint. Over the next two years, the London animators are expected to produce approximately 20 minutes of completed animation for 'The Quest,' Warner's version of the story of King Arthur. Warner, the entertainment arm of Time Warner Inc., also announced that Walt Disney Co. animation veteran John McKenna will head the operation. McKenna has been appointed vice president of the new London division of Warner Bros. Feature Animation. McKenna previously worked as general manager of Disney's London studio, producing part of the 'Duck Tales' movie, several promotional films and episodes of television series. He has been working most recently as chief executive of the London City Ballet. Warner's move comes as various studios have managed little success in challenging Disney's success in animation. Disney has racked up nearly $300 million in domestic ticket sales from its most recent animated projects, 'Toy Story' and 'Pocahontas' and its animated version of 'The Hunchback of Notre Dame' is widely expected to perform well this summer. Disney announced in late November it would open animation studios in Toronto and Vancouver this month to expand its home video production. The facilities, which will employ about 200 people, will produce primarily direct-to-home video movies.