Tim Sarnoff Named President of Sony Pictures Imageworks; Ken Ralston Extends Pact as Creative Lead


Tim Sarnoff has been promoted to president of Sony Pictures Imageworks. The promotion recognizes five years as executive vice president and general manager during which time he has transformed Imageworks into one of the leading visual effects and digital character animation companies in the world, increasing efficiency and maximizing production productivity while attracting world class talent to the company and bringing groundbreaking work to the screen in such films as "Stuart Little," "Spider-Man," "Cast Away," "Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone," and "Stuart Little 2."

(Photo: http://www.newscom.com/cgi-bin/prnh/20020719/LAF015 )

Ken Ralston, who has served as Imageworks creative leader since his arrival at the company in 1995, extends his relationship with Imageworks as senior visual effects supervisor and is now in pre-production on "Polar Express" with longtime collaborator Bob Zemeckis.

The new titles reflect what have been the functional managerial roles throughout both executive's tenure, with Sarnoff responsible for the management, operation and strategic direction of the company and Ralston serving in a creative capacity.

"Tim has done an outstanding job," said Yair Landau, president of Sony Pictures Digital Entertainment. "Under his leadership, Imageworks has evolved to become a world leader in visual effects and digital character animation. Tim is a unique combination: a great guy, an effective manager and a strong advocate for our amazing talent pool."

"Our success at Imageworks is a credit to the artists, producers, engineers and support staff," said Tim Sarnoff. "We work together in a creative environment to expand our abilities and bring cinematic visions to life. I am particularly glad that Ken continues to be an inspiring creative leader in this company."

"The artistic achievement that's evident on a daily basis inspires the creativity and imagination that drives us all," said Ken Ralston. "I am proud of all that we have accomplished in building Imageworks."

Sarnoff assumes his new title following Imageworks' most successful year to date. The company successfully managed the simultaneous production of three enormous films, "Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone," "Spider-Man," and "Stuart Little 2." The company is currently in production on "Charlie Angels II," "I Spy," "The Tuxedo," and "Anger Management" and in pre-production on "Polar Express" and "Spider-Man 2." Imageworks also produced and released its first original all-CG animated short, "The ChubbChubbs," seen on more than 2500 screens with "Men in Black II" and "Stuart Little 2," and announced a joint venture with Pandemic Studios to develop console video games. The company's artists have been nominated for three Academy Awards® ("Starship Troopers," "Stuart Little," "Hollow Man"). In addition to Ralston, Imageworks is home to some of the industry's top visual effects supervisors including Academy Award® winners Rob Legato, and nominees Jerome Chen, Scott Stokdyk and Pat McClung. Other notable projects at Imageworks included "Cast Away," "What Lies Beneath," "Charlie's Angels," "Godzilla," "Snow Falling on Cedars," "Contact" and "Anaconda."

Two films, "Contact" and "Stuart Little," defined the beginning of Imageworks evolution and represent the particular styles of its senior management. "Contact," supervised by Ralston, established the benchmark for using precision visual effects to advance a filmmaker's storytelling. Fostered by Sarnoff, "Stuart Little," with its performance-based, photo-realistic digital character creation seamlessly integrated into live action moviemaking, established a new kind of movie star and paved the way for films like "Spider-Man" and "Stuart Little 2" to follow.

Inspired by the success of "Stuart Little," Sarnoff has steadily cultivated Imageworks animation capability while growing its thriving visual effects business. The company is now well positioned to work closely with Sony Pictures Digital Entertainment's recently announced Sony Pictures Animation unit, headed by animation veterans Sandra Rabins and Penney Finkelman Cox.

Mr. Sarnoff joined the growing Imageworks division of Sony in 1997, five years after its inception. Imageworks is now part of Sony Pictures Digital Entertainment (SPDE).

Prior to his affiliation with Imageworks, Mr. Sarnoff was Senior Vice President of Warner Digital Studios, which was established as a division of Warner Bros. in 1995. Sarnoff originally joined Warner Bros. in 1989 to set up Steven Spielberg's animated series Tiny Toon Adventures. During his tenure, Warner Bros. Animation grew from four employees to more than 300 employees, became a separate business unit of Warner Bros. and completed numerous animated television series, including "Tasmania," "Batman," "Animaniacs" and "Superman."

Sarnoff began his career as program director for the NBC affiliate KMIR in Palm Springs, and then moved to the NBC network in Los Angeles as a Production Unit Manager. In 1987 he joined Paramount Television as Manager of Production Accounting, and then became Director of Domestic Television Programming.

He is a graduate of Stanford University, where he received his undergraduate degree in 1981.

Special effects wizard Ken Ralston brings a complete understanding of the filmmaking process to his work at Sony Pictures Imageworks. His insight into dramatic development, along with his mastery of visual effects technology have earned Ralston five Academy Awards as Special Effects Supervisor ("Forrest Gump," "Death Becomes Her," "Who Framed Roger Rabbit," "Cocoon," "Return of the Jedi") and an equal number of British Academy Awards. With Ralston's creative leadership, Imageworks has gained a reputation for being the cutting edge facility for the creation of photo-real characters and creatures.

For close to two decades, he was a Visual Effects Supervisor at Industrial Light & Magic, placing his aesthetic and technical stamp on many of the company's landmark film innovations. Constantly pushing the technological envelope, he played a central role in establishing ILM's groundbreaking reputation. He designed and executed the visual effects on such top grossing motion pictures as "Out of Africa," "Back to the Future I, II, and III," "Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home," "Kurosawa's Dreams" and "Jumanji."

Since his arrival at Imageworks, Ralston has also served as special visual effects supervisor on "Phenomenon," senior visual effects supervisor on "Michael" and "Contact," visual effects guru on "Patch Adams" and visual effects supervisor on "Cast Away" and, most recently, "Men in Black II."

Sony Pictures Imageworks is an award-winning state-of-the-art visual effects and animation company dedicated to the art and artistry of digital production. Imageworks is a key component of Sony Pictures Digital Entertainment (SPDE), which oversees Sony Pictures Entertainment's digital production and online entertainment assets.


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SOURCE: Sony Pictures Digital Entertainment

CONTACT: Don Levy of Sony Pictures Digital Entertainment,
+1-310-840-7315, dlevy@sonypictures.com; or Mary Reardon of Sony Pictures
Imageworks, +1-310-815-4635, maryr@imageworks.com

Web site: http://www.spe.sony.com/