Animation Studio Toonz Media Launches NFT Design Lab (EXCLUSIVE)

·4-min read

Longstanding Indian animation firm Toonz Media Group has teamed with digital R&D firm Guardianlink to launch a NFT design lab, creating digital assets for brands and celebrities. The new facility will kick off by turning some of Toonz’ proprietary characters and series into non fungible tokens.

NFTs, which have taken the art world by storm and are now spilling over into entertainment, are blockchain-based digital certificates that certify that the digital asset tied to it is unique and not interchangeable. NFTs can represent photos, videos, audio, or other types of digital file.

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They can be bought and sold, with smart contracts tracking their ownership. And, unlike conventional artworks, the original creators can earn additional royalties every time the NFT is traded.

Toonz NFTLabs, which claims over 1,000 designers in three continents, will handle creative and technological aspects of NFT generation, including conceptualization, development, character design, modelling and asset designs, along with smart contract generation for NFTs. Its services include storyboarding, character design, gamification and an incubation lab for emerging artists. The lab will also offer IP partnerships for television properties, movie properties, games and metaverses.

Founded over 20 years ago, Toonz operated in its first decade largely as an animation outsourcing subcontractor working with major western studios including Disney, Nickelodeon and Dreamworks. It produced shows that included: “Wolverine and The X-Men” with Marvel, “Speedracer Next Generation” with Lionsgate; “Mostly Ghostly,” with Universal and “Playmobil” with Sony.

In the second half of its existence, Toonz began to also develop its own IP and series. Current productions at Toonz include: “Paddypaws and Pals,” in partnership with Keith Chapman, “JG & the BC Kids,” with renowned American actress Janet Hubert, “Sunnyside Billy,” conceptualized by Olivier Jean-Marie; and “Pierre the Pigeon Hawk.”

<img class="size-medium wp-image-1235082122" src="https://variety.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/10/Paddypaws-res.jpeg?w=300&quot; alt=" - Credit: Toonz Media Group" width="300" height="169" srcset="https://variety.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/10/Paddypaws-res.jpeg 1000w, https://variety.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/10/Paddypaws-res.jpeg?resize=150,84 150w, https://variety.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/10/Paddypaws-res.jpeg?resize=300,169 300w, https://variety.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/10/Paddypaws-res.jpeg?resize=125,70 125w, https://variety.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/10/Paddypaws-res.jpeg?resize=681,383 681w, https://variety.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/10/Paddypaws-res.jpeg?resize=450,253 450w, https://variety.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/10/Paddypaws-res.jpeg?resize=250,140 250w" sizes="(min-width: 87.5rem) 1000px, (min-width: 78.75rem) 681px, (min-width: 48rem) 450px, (max-width: 48rem) 250px" />Toonz Media Group

Toonz will begin creating NFTs from its characters and content drawn from library show “Lucky Fred,” currently in-production “Paddypaws,” and new show “PaJaMa,” the company told Variety.

It is also months away from launching another property that will stretch from a conventional CGI-based computer racing game, through to alien characters which will be launched as NFTs, and an attached NFT-based racing game.

“The NFT marketplace provides us with the unique opportunity to generate traction for animation IPs even before they are produced or launched in the market. It provides a whole new world of opportunity for funding projects, a model that even independent creators and brands can adopt,” said Toonz CEO P. Jayakumar. “We want to help those creators and brands by producing custom-made NFT assets for them and launching them in the NFT marketplace.”

Singapore-based GuardianLink offers Guardian-branded MarketPlace product and Legitimacy Protocol for NFTs. It has developed 45 NFT marketplaces in 30 countries. Working with Beyondlife Club, it recently created an NFT marketplace for Indian superstar Amitabh Bachchan who is selling pictures, posters and poetry recitals.

“NFT is the new medium of digital assets with economic underpinnings. Its acceptance has proved to be a true testament to the decentralized economy at scale. This is the first time in history, any creator, athlete, or any known or unknown brand can make a dent and indulge in enormous monetization of one’s own rarity, creativity, and uniqueness,” said Keyur Patel, chairman and co-founder of GuardianLink. The company accepts fiat and cryptocurrency payments.

NFTs shot to popularity in early 2021 with the auction sales of assets such as artist Beeple’s digital artwork “Everydays – The First 5000 Days” (sold for $69m), NBA Top Shot video clip of LeBron James (sold for $208,000), and Twitter founder Jack Dorsey’s first tweet (which sold for $2.5m).

Other creators of NFTs have included WarnerMedia’s DC, musician Lil Nas X and Variety. For further explanation read: The Rise of NFTs in Entertainment and Media.

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