Keynote: Paramount’s Ramsey Naito


Ramsey Naito discussed the expansion of Paramount’s animated output across series and films and the keys to franchise management at the TV Kids Summer Festival.

Naito is the president of animation at Paramount Animation and Nickelodeon Animation. You can watch her keynote conversation with TV Kids’ Anna Carugati here.

It has been two years since Paramount combined Paramount Animation and Nickelodeon Animation under Naito’s remit. “With these two divisions being combined, we can be strategic with our talent, and we can provide opportunities for them to work across so many different kinds of content, which broadens their skills and allows them to work with us for many, many years,” Naito said. “It’s very exciting for the talent and for the community, which is a big part of our culture.”

The series lineup is largely based on known IP, “but we are actively developing and looking to greenlight an original hopefully this year,” Naito said. “The originals are so important. There’s nothing like an original. They’re born today, and they speak to today. They add tremendous value to us in terms of a business because they’re adding to our library of great legacy titles.”

Naito then discussed the keys to resurrecting storied franchises. “The real trick to reimagining an IP like [Teenage Mutant Ninja] Turtles or The Smurfs is finding incredible talent who love the IP, have a perspective on what kind of story can be told today and how it can look while still remaining true and authentic.”

She continued: “They’re naturally revering and paying homage to what they loved and bringing something to the reimagining that feels fresh, cool and of today. Anything we do, whether it’s brand new or based on preexisting IP, has a great opportunity to speak to today’s audience, which means not looking like it was. Evolution is evolution. We have an opportunity to embrace themes that are fresh and present aspects to the look that make it feel relevant.”

Naito then talked about how technological innovation has enhanced the toolkit for animators. “Making an animated movie or series takes a very long time. Technology, slowly but surely, is helping us quicken that process. Technology supports our ability to get visions on-screen. I remember when I first started out in theatricals, the ability to do a squash-and-stretch type of comedic physical animation piece was hard. The technology would break. It wasn’t as malleable; it wasn’t as artist-friendly. Today, artists can get in there and put their fingerprints on every aspect of a movie and make it feel irregular and handmade. That’s different from 10 or 15 years ago. Eventually, animated filmmaking will become shorter and shorter. At the end of the day, one thing will always remain: You need a great visionary and great artist behind the keys executing great work.”

Naito continued, “Animation is a people process. It’s like workshopping a play over the course of many years. You get to iterate, change and make things better and rerecord and rewrite and reanimate.”

On engaging with kids today amid their multitude of entertainment options, Naito said, “You have to be focused on marketing campaigns that reach audiences and know where kids are and speak to kids. You have to tell stories that are relevant with characters that feel authentic and fresh and that kids can identify with and see themselves in. And then how are you going to make everyone know you have these great characters and great stories? You’ve got to go to TikTok, Instagram, YouTube.”