Animation Lab, the recently announced Jerusalem and Los Angeles-based studio launched by Jerusalem Venture Partners, has announced its first project.

Pre-production is underway on The Wild Bunch (working title), the first of six CGI features that Animation Lab plans to put into production over the next eight years.

Jim Ballantine, whose credits include Bambi II and The Ren & Stimpy Show, is producing, and Alex Williams, who has animated, storyboarded and designed characters on more than 20 features for the major studios including Open Season and The Lion King, makes his directorial debut.

Animation Lab's executive vice president of creative affairs Douglas Wood will oversee production for the company.

'We are honoured to partner with Alex, who is recognised by his peers as one of the industry's true talents,' Animation Lab president Ayelet Weinerman said.

'As we move forward with this project, we are pleased to have assembled a team of the top animators and storytellers in our profession. Our goal is to reward passion and vision in a creatively friendly environment.'

Philip LaZebnik is writing the screenplay about an assortment of common wildflowers and plants threatened by an evil army of genetically modified cornstalks hell-bent on taking over their idyllic meadow.

'Phil's unique story is set in a universe not yet explored in an animated feature,' Wood said. 'It's funny and inventive, but also has high stakes and tackles important themes that will resonate throughout the world.'