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In Motion ; Kristofer Updike ’99

Kristofer Updike ‘99, vice president of Bix Pix Entertainment, Burbank, Calif., likes to think outside-the-box.   photo: John Pankratz

When Rusty the Reindeer, star of the holiday special Holidaze: The Christmas that Almost Didn’t Happen, left the North Pole on a search for the meaning of Christmas, he was delighted to find some special friends along the way. Kristofer Updike ’99 was pretty delighted too.

As assistant to the executive producer of the 2006 stop-motion animated television special, the show’s success earned him a promotion to vice president of Bix Pix Entertainment in Burbank, Calif.

Bix Pix is widely known and praised for its stop-motion animation projects. “Stop-motion animation is the process which allows inanimate objects to move and change by clicking the camera one to two frames at a time. The objects are brought to life on screen through this manipulation. The figure is positioned, and then filmed. It is repositioned, and then filmed again,” he says. This creates the illusion of movement.

But, Updike says, “Although our passion and love has always been stopmotion animation, we do a variety of projects in many different mediums as long as they are infused with a good story, creative characters and brilliant execution.” The company also produces computer animation, live-action feature films, commercials, television, documentaries and web content. Currently, Bix Pix is developing a live-action feature film and a children’s stop-motion animated interstitial television show.

What’s a typical day like for Updike? It’s 10 hours of answering e-mails, discussing current projects, approving scripts and holding meetings with major television networks such as FOX and TBS. Some days he oversees recording sessions and animation for episodes, while other days he works on developing new ideas or looking for investors to fund existing projects.

Updike is excited about a project with Sony Pictures Television called The Roadents, a web series that centers around two guinea pigs traveling crosscountry in a 1983 Winnebago. Sony purchased 26 webisodes, each about two minutes in length, for its digital media collection. They will most likely air on YouTube and other sites of that nature, says Updike.

Bix Pix Entertainment and Sony Pictures Television are planning to develop The Roadents into a full half-hour television show. For this project, Updike says Entertain he changed the rules of scriptwriting. Normally the script comes first and then the recording process begins. This time Updike had actors improvise in a recording studio from a list of topics. The tracks from that recording were then pieced together to create a script. This outside-the-box thinking gave Bix Pix Entertainment an advantage over other companies utilizing traditional scriptwriting methods during the recent writer’s strike.

Working with animation wasn’t always part of Updike’s career; he was previously employed as a textile designer at Town & Country Living in Manhattan.
But, after about four years designing, Updike wanted to get back into entertainment. That’s when Rusty the Reindeer came into his life.

Although Updike is busy, he still has time to remember his alma mater. For the past four years he has taught Interim theatre classes and directed more
than four plays at Albright.

– Amber D. Kelly ’08

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