German animations were traditionally targeted at children, but all that changed in the early 1990s when producers hit on 'adult' animation features with successful comic-book adaptations Werner - Volles Rooaaa! (2.7 million admissions) and The Little Bastard (three million). However, animation studios now tend to focus on fare for the whole family.
Unlike France where the industry is largely based in Paris, Germany's lack of a main production centre is a problem. But the federal structure has its benefits, since - as with live-action production - the German Lander vie with one another through incentives to attract animation studios to their region. So Berlin is the home for such players as Hahn Film and Rothkirch Cartoon-Film, Hamburg for Trickompany and Pictorion Magma Animation, and Munich for Trixter Film and Scanline, while other studios are based in Halle (MotionWorks), Frankfurt (scopas medien), Stuttgart (Studio Film Bilder) and Hanover (Ambient Entertainment).
In addition, there are several German production companies collaborating with animation studios, rather than setting up their own infrastructure. Constantin Film works with Ambient Entertainment on its Urmel adaptations, while Michael 'Bully' Herbig has the VFX studio Scanline - whose international credits include 300 and Poseidon - handling his first computer-animated feature Lissi Und Der Wilde Kaiser. Meanwhile, X-Filme's animation division Animation X has farmed out work to Studio Film Bilder, among others, for The Three Robbers.
Similarly, Warner Bros' German production arm Warner Bros Pictures has been a co-producer of Cartoon Filmproduktion's The Little Polar Bear and Laura's Star franchises, and is a partner on Dodo, about an orangutan with a magic violin. And Universum Film has boarded two family titles, Prinzessin Lillifee and Der Mondbar, co-produced with ndF and Caligari Film.
An indication of the healthy state of German animation is shown by the fact no fewer than 11 German projects are being presented at this year's Cartoon Forum in Babelsberg. These range from scopas medien's stop-motion feature The Sandman And The Lost Sand Of Dreams, based on the popular children's TV figure Sandmannchen, through to Trixter Film's Dragon Hunters and Hahn Film's School For Vampires.