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Ben Stassen readies African Safari 3D

Belgian animation supremo and nWave boss reveals further details of his first live-action 3D venture.

Belgian animation supremo and nWave boss Ben Stassen has revealed further details of his first live-action 3D venture,  the $18m, StudioCanal-backed African Safari 3D. Production will begin next month on the highly ambitious, live-action natural history feature doc, which follows an expedition from the”Skeleton” coast in Namibia all the way to the top of Kiliminjaro.

“We are putting together all kinds of technologies that have never really been used in 3D,” Stassen said, citing plans to use infra red 3D cameras thatcan shoot at night and slow motion cameras that shoot at 670 frames a second. “They are technologies that are nothing new in 2D but have never really been used in 3D.”

The filmmakers have made a specially designed, motor driven hot air balloon that will enable them to shoot aerials.

“There will be storylines about both lions and elephants. We’ll see how they (lions) have adapted from hunting seals in Namibia to going after antelopes in the Savanna.”

The film should be ready by mid 2012.

Last year, French powerhouse StudioCanal acquired a minority stake in the Brussels-based nWave, the company behind animated feature Fly Me To The Moon and Sammy’s Adventure.

Through the deal with StudioCanal, African Safari 3D will be released by Optimum in the UK and Kinowelt in Germany (as well as by StudioCanal in France.)

The US fate of Sammy’s Adventure is yet to be decided. Universal Music Group, which acquired the film, is yet to set a date for the release.Nonetheless, the animated feature, about a sea turtle that spends 50 years traveling the world, has already made over $70m. Several majorterritories (Japan, UK and Australia among them) are yet to release the film and Stassen estimates that its international box-office (excluding America) could come near to $100m.

Sammy’s Adventure 2, budgeted at around $30 million, will be ready by the summer of 2012. StudioCanal have already agreed various pre-sales on the film, among them with Eagle in Italy, Belga in Benelux, Svensk in Scandinavia and Daisy in Korea.

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