Bob Osher has been named president of the digital production division at Sony Pictures Entertainment (SPE), taking over from Yair Landau who announced this week that he would be leaving the studio to pursue a new games and animation venture.

Osher has been with SPE since 2004 as chief operating officer of Columbia Pictures Motion Picture Group, overseeing operations, business affairs and production related film financing. In his new job he will continue to have oversight of these areas as well as overseeing the digital production division, formerly known as Sony Pictures Digital, which comprises Imageworks and Sony Pictures Animation.

Sony Online Entertainment, once part of Sony Pictures Digital, is now moving to Sony Computer Entertainment.

Sony Pictures chairman and CEO Michael Lynton and co-chairman Amy Pascal made the announcement, at the same time announcing that Hannah Minghella will become president of production at Sony Pictures Animation.

'Bob's unique blend of experience in production and finance, along with his strong background in animation, make him superbly qualified to lead our Digital Production division,' said Lynton in a statement. 'Staying ahead of the vast technological changes occurring in our industry has been a priority for Sony Pictures, and I know Bob will continue to make our fantastic visual effects and animation businesses grow.'

'I'm very excited about getting back into the creative side of the business, which has been a big part of my career. I'm especially thrilled to be working with Tim Sarnoff and Hannah Minghella, along with the world class team of people who work at Imageworks and Sony Pictures Animation,' said Osher.

Before Sony, Osher was co-president of production at Miramax Films for more than six years and before that was co-founder and executive vice president of Turner Pictures Group which included co-running Turner Feature Animation, which worked closely with Hannah-Barbera Productions.

Between 1989 and 1995, Osher worked for Walt Disney Studios rising to the position of senior vice president of business and legal affairs for Walt Disney Pictures and Touchstone Pictures as well as Walt Disney Feature Animation.

Sony Pictures Imageworks is a digital animation and visual effects company creating computer-generated imaging (CGI) for motion pictures which has credits including the Spider-man movies, The Chronicles Of Narnia: The Lion, The Witch And The Wardrobe and Superman Returns.

Sony Pictures Animation develops and produces CG-animated features including Surf's Up last year and Open Season in 2006. The next film to come from the division is Cloudy With A Chance Of Meatballs which is schedule for release in 2009. Sony also has a deal with Aardman Features in the UK to produce animated films for the studio.

Minghella currently serves as director of creative affairs for Pascal, a position she has held since 2005.

Minghella worked with the production team at Columbia Pictures on such films as Casino Royale and Quantum of Solace and recently brought in the spy-thriller Edwin A. Salt to Columbia.

She spent four years at Miramax Films in New York, as the creative executive for Meryl Poster who was then co-president of production with Osher and left to help Steven Shainberg start Vox 3 Films, an independent production company. On the recommendation of Osher, Pascal brought Minghella to Sony Pictures.

Minghella and Imageworks president Tim Sarnoff will report to Osher. Sandra Rabins, who had been in charge of Sony Pictures Animation as senior executive vice president, will return to her roots as a producer and continue working with Sony Pictures Animation in that capacity.