Rhythm & Hues film division president Richard Hollander is leaving the visual effects studio he guided for nearly a decade to join Pixar Animation Studios as a producer.
Lee Berger, now exec producer of the film division, will succeed Hollander as R&H's new president in February.
Hollander said he had told friends in recent months that he was looking for new challenges. He learned of a producing position at Pixar through former Lucas Digital president Jim Morris, who joined the Bay Area ani studio himself as producer two years ago (HR 11/19/04).
"I've been doing visual effects for a long time, and I wanted to get the juices flowing again," Hollander said. "The underlying structures at R&H and Pixar are similar, but R&H is service and Pixar focuses on feature-length pictures. It has a much different outer premise, and I wanted the challenge."
Hollander's motion graphics facility VIFX merged with Rhythm & Hues in 1999. Since then he and Berger have combined the studio's strengths in character animation and visual effects, positioning it as one of a handful of facilities capable of handling large volume shot output for big-budget studio tentpole FX and CG-animated films.
Berger brings more than 20 years of supervisory experience in producing visual effects and animation. He was a freelance visual effects producer on "Titanic," "Volcano" and "Batman Forever" and later served as vp production at Fox-owned Blue Sky Studios before joining Rhythm & Hues.
R&H's kudos include "The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe," which earned an Academy Award nomination for visual effects in 2005, and "Babe," which earned an Oscar in 1995 in the same category.
Most recently, R&H delivered visual effects and animation in five minutes (the killer whale chase sequence) of "Happy Feet," for the upcoming "Night at the Museum" (the T-Rex scenes) and for "Charlotte's Web" (the talking livestock) and is in the midst of "Evan Almighty" and "The Golden Compass."
"I'm not running away to do effects at another studio," Hollander said. "This is where I would want to be to produce effects. We have incredible people at R&H who made it easy to go eight years here. It won't be easy making that change."
Hollander's youngest daughter soon graduates from high school, a factor he said largely figured in to his decision to move to the Bay Area and start at Pixar in February.