Michael Rose, who spearheaded Aardman Animations' drive into features with its hit debut Chicken Run, has left the UK animation company to set up his own production outfit, Sirolo Films.

The London-based venture has formed an informal partnership with Celluloid Dreams, the Paris-based sales agency of Hengameh Panahi, who aims to source larger scale fare through the UK. Rose, who first worked with Panahi in 1994 on Aardman's Wallace & Gromit Collections, told Screendaily.com that the two partners aim to formalise their relationship soon.

"I had been at Aardman for eight years and felt it was time for a change," he said. "I want to move into live-action films as well."

Rose, who executive produced Chicken Run and brokered Aardman's $250m deal with Dreamworks SKG, will continue working with Aardman on Nick Park's Wallace And Gromit film. The feature is expected to go into production in February with backing by DreamWorks.

Bristol-based Aardman is to appoint another head of film as it moves into production in the spring on two films, Tortoise And The Hare and Flushed Away