In 1912, MIT professors Dr. Herbert Kalmus and Dr. Daniel Comstock join with self-taught mechanical engineering prodigy W. Burton Westcott to create KCW, their research engineering firm that directly led to their exploration and embrace of motion picture color and the creation of Technicolor in 1915. After a series of advances in color motion picture processes, Technicolor launched “Process IV” featuring the pioneering “three-strip” process, with Walt Disney as the first filmmaker to employ this new process on Disney’s first color animated short, Flowers and Trees (1932) – recipient of the first ever Academy Award for the category now called Best Animated Short Film.
Fast-forwarding through several cycles of major technological transformation, the Group is now set to operate as its own entity. Significant events in the history of Technicolor Creative Studios today begin with the Group’s foray into VFX services in 2001, followed in 2004 by the acquisition of The Moving Picture Co. (“MPC”) from British broadcaster ITV. Spanning Film and Advertising VFX, MPC then counted around 400 employees and operated from a single facility in Soho, London. MPC already counted major Hollywood studios among its clients, including Warner Bros., Twentieth Century Fox and Universal Pictures, and worked on famous productions such as the first three Harry Potter films and Lara Croft: Tomb Raider.
In 2007, the Group acquired a majority interest in Paprikaas, an animation studio based in Bangalore, India; and subsequently acquired the remaining interest in Paprikaas in December 2009. Shortly thereafter, the studio was rebranded Technicolor India and has since grown exponentially over the years to become the primary production backbone of the Group.
Meanwhile, MPC Film and MPC Advertising rapidly expanded, opening offices in Los Angeles, Bangalore, New York, Montreal and Amsterdam, and growing the total VFX headcount to approximately 1,800 by 2013. That year also marked a significant achievement for the Company as it won an Academy Award for Best Visual Effects for its work on Life of Pi.
In 2014, the Group further grew its footprint with the acquisition of Toronto-based visual effects studio Mr. X. In line with its track record and customer relationships, Mr. X focused on high-concept TV productions, genre features and international film co-productions, while MPC continued to address projects for both its major studio and advertising clients.
2015 was marked by a series of acquisitions, beginning with the purchase of Paris-based independent animation producer OuiDo! Productions, co-producer of the highly acclaimed Alvinnn!!! & The Chipmunks series. The Group then acquired Paris-based Mikros Image who also operated a feature animation studio in Montreal. Mikros Image encompassed aspects of production and post-production for feature animation, advertising, feature film and TV, and had then recently produced the animation for the Asterix: le Domaine des Dieux and Le Petit Prince feature films.
And later that same year, the Group acquired London-based VFX and content creation studio The Mill from Equistone Partners Europe. Founded in 1990, The Mill, with its 800 employees across studios in London, New York, Los Angeles, Chicago and Mumbai, possessed numerous industry awards for its work for advertising agencies and brands, including commercial spots to promote popular video game titles such as Call of Duty: Black Ops 2.
These acquisitions were crucial to the Group’s strategy to strengthen its animation and advertising offerings, while expanding into episodic VFX, as well as to better position the Group in the context of emerging technologies such as virtual reality. As a result, the Group rapidly grew in scale and further expanded geographically into Shanghai, Berlin and Adelaide.
More recently, the Group undertook a number of strategic changes following a restructuring in 2020. In April 2021, the Group sold its post-production business for €30 million to Streamland Media. Following this, the Group progressively reorganized around four (4) business lines, with its portfolio of brands being consolidated in accordance with the new organizational structure: MPC (Film & Episodic VFX), The Mill (Brand Experience & Advertising), Mikros Animation and Technicolor Games. The simplification of the brand portfolio is a further step towards a more efficient and integrated organization benefitting from common infrastructure, support functions and talent.