November 17, 2011 in ATDC News

Startup Chronicles: TRICK 3D

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Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer. Frosty the Snowman. Chippey the Elf?

An animated special set to air on CBS next Friday could be the next big holiday classic. At least that’s the hope of the Atlanta-based animation studio behind the creation and production of An Elf’s Story.

“We believe the story will become a Christmas classic,” said Chad Eikhoff, director, producer and writer of An Elf’s Story and the founder of TRICK 3D, an ATDC member company. “We have broken some new ground with our approach to the stereoscopic 3D production, so the cutting-edge animation, original music and heartwarming story could really captivate a lot of people.”

Based on The Elf on the Shelf, the best-selling children’s book and character, the new animated feature has been several years in the making. The book was written and self-published by Carol Aebersold and her daughters, Chanda Bell and Christa Pitts. TRICK 3D’s involvement began in 2007, when Eikhoff – who attended high school in suburban Atlanta with Bell and Pitts – was tapped to develop an interactive website for the book. When he learned the Aebersold family was also thinking about developing a TV special, Eikhoff and Tara Burtchaell, TRICK 3D’s  Executive Producer,  pitched TRICK 3D for the job with Eikhoff directing, producing and writing and Burtchaell producing.

In spring 2010, Big Canoe Entertainment was formed to develop the animated program. The production company included Aebersold, Bell, Pitts, Eikhoff and Burtchaell, as well as independent film producer Kenneth Waddell and Catherine Scorsese, daughter of director Martin Scorsese. A few months ago, CBS executives screened a final version of “An Elf’s Story.” And the rest is history in the making!

Elf on the Shelf was one of our first clients, so when the brand took off, we were in a position to start talking about a Christmas special” said Eikhoff. “The show features new 3D animation techniques that we developed using full-set constructions, more immersive 3D cameras and a new process for stereoscopy…Most of the new holiday specials tend to be hyperkinetic and in your face with comedy and action, but with The Elf on the Shelf: An Elf’s Story there is laughter and energy, but we also focus more on telling a timeless story that has a lot of heart and character.”

The program focuses on Taylor McTuttle, a 9-year-old skeptical about Christmas. His two younger sisters adopt an elf they name Chippey, who has to help Taylor learn that “Christmas is what we carry in our hearts.” In the process, the elf loses his Christmas magic and Taylor has to figure out a way to help Chippey get it back.

An Elf’s Story airs on CBS at 8:30 pm EST on Nov. 25. DVD and 3D Blu-ray will be available the following day. Prior to the broadcast, there will be a screening of the show hosted by Wayne Brady at Atlanta’s Fox Theatre this Sunday, with all proceeds benefiting Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta. Tickets are available through the Fox or Ticketmaster.

Founded in 2006, TRICK 3D specializes in the creation of commercial and original entertainment, providing services including motion design, stereoscopic 3D, 3D animation and visual effects compositing. Following in the success of An Elf’s Story, Eikhoff said the company plans to continue focusing on commercial work, as well as original and creative IP in the future.

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