Behind the Scenes at Cyber Group Studios


Cyber Group Studios’ Dominique Bourse, Raphaëlle Mathieu and Pierre Belaïsch weighed in on animation innovation and navigating a challenging market in a TV Kids Summer Festival session today.

The panel, moderated by TV Kids’ Anna Carugati and available here, featured Bourse, chairman and CEO; Mathieu, COO; and Belaïsch, chief creative officer.

Headquartered in France, Cyber Group Studios also has operations in the U.S., the U.K., Italy and Singapore. The strategy for expansion, Bourse noted, “has been to identify top talents in key markets for animation. Starting with Europe, the biggest market for animation is the U.K. The second is France. Germany is probably next to France. The next one is Italy. To us, it was natural to look to these markets, particularly the U.K. and Italy, to find top creative talents in genres that are important to us. We also have a base in Los Angeles for North America. Then, it was logical to look at Asia. Asia is expected to be one of the fastest-growing regions for animation in the next five to seven years. And we already had a co-production with a great company in Singapore, Scrawl Studios. So, it was also logical to partner with them and have them be our development force for the Asia-Pacific region.”

“It’s really a matter of creative sensitivities,” Belaïsch added. “We gather once a month or sometimes more with all the countries that are involved in the process. That allows us to exchange [ideas]. It’s a great asset for us to have those discussions all the time.”

Mathieu agreed, adding, “It really enhances the fact that, from the beginning, we have always believed in being multi-local to create content that would be appealing worldwide. We need to be infused with many different talents and work together to find the best assets and the best ideas.”

Co-productions across the footprint are also key. “As part of the co-productions, we realize what they bring in terms of creativity, their local look and feel, which enriches the overall content significantly,” Bourse said.

The conversation then moved to financing. “It’s difficult for all of us,” Mathieu said. “It requires all of us to become as creative as possible in every single aspect, editorially and financially. Productions where we would have one main lead, maybe two, are more difficult to get. We are back to co-productions with a wide variety of co-producers, financial partners and people jumping on board at an earlier stage to finance it. It takes more time. It requires being inventive to work with different territories that we’re not necessarily used to working with at an early stage. We’re working more with Asian territories in terms of presales. We’re working more with Latin American territories as well. It’s important that we keep our eyes and ears open and get all the new schemes that are coming up.”

As for what types of content the market needs now, Belaïsch stressed the importance of having a diverse development slate that runs across multiple styles and demos and noted that content durations are in a state of evolution: “You can break the rules and start with half a season for some streamers. It creates flexibility in terms of format. Platforms are willing to invest in shows that are going to be different for their viewers. Some streamers or international networks are looking for comedies; we have shows [that are] comedies and sitcoms, and we tailor them so that they fit those streamers. We also have epic adventures because that’s what some broadcasters are looking for. It’s about listening to the market. But on the other hand, [it’s crucial to] bring your own creativity and approach because that’s what makes the content different.”

Mathieu concurred, adding, “It is becoming an issue of budget. This is something we need to be open to. Flexibility is key.”

Carugati asked the Cyber Group Studios leadership team about the importance of having a library of scale to fill clients’ needs today. “Not everyone has the budget to be involved in co-productions,” Mathieu said. “Just because buyers, whether linear or streamers or even YouTube, don’t have much money to invest right now, it doesn’t mean that content is not needed. Having a large, diverse library is a strong asset to be able to propose content worldwide to a wide variety of potential buyers.”

The discussion then moved to the company’s emphasis on animation innovation. “We are at the forefront of various trends coming from the video game industry to the production of linear content with real-time production and real-time rendering technologies,” Bourse said. “We are also heavily investing in research and development. We’ve been doing that for years in three main areas: real-time production, AI and machine learning. We do not see AI creating in lieu of artists. We see AI as enabling artists to go further and demonstrate their talent and creativity more. Integrating these new technologies into the way we produce is essential.”