CMC British Animation Afternoon – Session 1

Posted on: Thursday 22 March 2012 6:41am

The CMC organised an afternoon of panel discussions and case-studies on the afternoon before the British Animation Awards – 15th March 2012. The topic was digital futures for the animation industry.

Thanks to Sanjay d’Humières for his blog copy:

Exploiting Animation – Transmedia at Disney


  • Orion Ross, Vice President, Original Series, Disney Channels EMEA
  • Jeff Jones, Vice President/General Manager, Digital Games, The Walt Disney Company EMEA

Orion and Jeff did a double-act on the digital content that they produce for The Walt Disney Company across Europe. Their focus has been on developing a strong transmedia strategy and creating “connected experiences” for audiences. Talking about how audience expectations have changed Orion said that, for example, a child of 12 years is likely to use three different gaming devices, on average.

Their focus includes developing games, magazines, mobile content that will transform the child’s consumption into a truly 360° experience.

In terms of their core TV activity, there are currently 17 shows in the making for Disney in the UK, some co-productions and some-pre-buys. Britain has become the second programme-making hub outside Burbank. Although programmes that come from the US are the drivers for the channels, Orion looks at content from the UK and the rest of Europe to complement what is already being produced.

Jeff began by explaining how The Walt Disney Company created a transmedia task force – a group of executives responsible for devising all strategy related to 360° content. The role of the taskforce is to make sure that an idea can be easily transposed to other genres and platforms across the portfolio, creating continuously connected stories.

Orion emphasised that unlike colleagues in the US who have the infrastructure to produce in-house animation, he doesn’t and therefore works closely with independent companies and both Orion and Jeff encouraged companies to get in touch if they felt they could contribute to their 360° vision as part of this process.

Following a question from a delegate, both said that communications with senior management in the US is vital for anything of substance as they will expect their shows to be internationally successful, and in Disney, sign-off on creative occurs at the highest level on all projects.

When asked about the use of Disney Stores as a way of pushing out the Club Penguin brand to children, Jeff responded by saying that a cautious approach was being used on the count of the brand’s relatively young age and that the franchise was in the process of phasing out some merchandise and introduce a new line of products.


  • Disney are producing in Europe and keen to work with British animation companies.
  • 360 ideas are welcome and projects will be explored for 360 potential by the new in-house transmedia task force
  • Projects need to be internationally viable and will be assessed right though the Disney system and signed off at the highest level.


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