P.J. Gunsagar

P.J. Gunsagar

P.J. is an entrepreneur at heart. After starting his career in finance, working as an investment banker at UBS Warburg and early-stage investor at Intel Capital, he focused his career on building companies at the intersection of technology and media from the ground up. Spire Animation Studios is the fourth company co-founded by P.J.

Prior to Spire, P.J. was Co-Founder and CEO at Kidaptive, an adaptive learning and educational content company focused on personalized learning. Kidaptive is best known for its award-winning animated iPad app, Leo’s Pad, which entertained and educated millions of preschoolers around the world. Kidaptive also developed ALP, a platform for improving learning outcomes by providing highly scalable processing of complex data streams using proprietary machine-learning algorithms. Before Kidaptive, P.J. was Co-Founder & President of Prana Studios, a leading global 3D animation and visual effects studio. Prana’s filmography includes “Transformers,” “TRON Legacy,” “TinkerBell,” and Disney’s “Planes.” P.J. also cofounded Ettache, an online account aggregation company, which was acquired in 2001 by Adhesion Technologies.

P.J. grew up in Saratoga, California and today lives in Los Altos, California with his wife and two daughters, and dog Boomer. He is a die-hard Bengals fan who flies their flag proudly in front of his house.

Brad Lewis

Brad Lewis

Brad recently produced the Oscar nominated “How to Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World,” the critically acclaimed conclusion of the trilogy. Lewis also produced the animated film “Storks” and served as executive producer of “The Lego Batman Movie,” both from Warner Bros. Previously Lewis spent 10 years at Pixar, where he worked on a number of the studio’s film including “Ratatouille” (producer) and “Cars 2” (co-director, writer). He worked with Studio Ghibli on the acclaimed animated film “Ponyo,” as vocal director of the English cast. With the formation of DreamWorks SKG in 1994, Lewis was among the company’s first employees as a key executive at PDI/DreamWorks, and produced the studio’s inaugural animated feature, “ANTZ.”

In 2008, he was awarded by Producers Guild America with its PGA Award for Outstanding Producer of Animated Theatrical Motion Pictures for “Ratatouille,” which ultimately won the Academy Award® for Best Animated Feature and a Golden Globe that same year. In addition, he received a Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Achievement in Visual Effects for The Simpsons 3d Halloween episode in 1992, a Sports Emmy Award for design for ABC Monday Night Football, and is the recipient of two Clio Awards. ​

A native of San Mateo, CA, Lewis graduated from Fresno State University, where he studied Theatre Arts/Dance. He is a member of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences (AMPAS) and the Producers Guild of America (PGA).

Doug Cooper

Doug Cooper

Doug has over 30 years of experience in the animation production industry, and has been a driving force in leading technological disruption. He has been involved in every step of the transformation from traditional physical workflows to completely digital film production.

Throughout his career, Doug has held diverse roles in Animated Feature Production, including executive leadership positions in both Production and Technology, Producer, Visual Effects Supervisor, Effects Animator, and Software Developer.  Doug has six feature film credits and has authored multiple patents for novel shading and lighting techniques. He was nominated for a VES Award for his work on “Shrek Forever After” in 2011.

Notably, he co-founded and led the expansion of DreamWorks’ Themed Entertainment division, delivering projects for ride attractions, VR, and real-time interactive experiences around the world.

An active member of the Academy and the Visual Effects Society, Doug has served on the AMPAS Science & Technology Committee and the VES Board of Directors.

His wealth of experience and knowledge in the field of animation production is a tremendous asset to Spire Animation Studios, and he is excited to continue pushing the boundaries of what is possible in the industry. As the Chief Technology Officer, Doug’s leadership and expertise will drive the company’s technological advancements and help it stay at the forefront of innovation in the industry.

David Smith

David A. Smith

Before joining Spire, David Smith was a VFX Supervisor at Sony Pictures Imageworks, most recently supervising Glen Keane’s Academy Award Nominated “Over The Moon” for Netflix as well as the animated features “The Emoji Movie” for Sony Pictures Animation and “Storks” for Warner Animation Group.

Smith also served as digital effects supervisor on “The Amazing Spider-man” and “The Amazing Spider-man 2,” directed by Marc Webb.

Smith has worked on multiple Academy Award®-nominated features including: “The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe” (2006 Academy Award® nominee, Achievement in Visual Effects), “Hollow Man” (2000 Academy Award® nominee, Achievement in Visual Effects), “Stuart Little” (1999 Academy Award® nominee, Achievement in Visual Effects), “Starship Troopers” (1998 Academy Award® nominee, Achievement in Visual Effects).​

During his time at Imageworks, Smith worked on many other films including: “Eagle Eye,” “I Am Legend,” “Green Lantern,” “Cats and Dogs 2,” “Beowulf,” “Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone,” and “Godzilla.”

Smith earned a Bachelor of Science degree in Television and Film from San Diego State University. He began his entertainment career as a runner at Boss Film Studios in 1991. While working in the Boss purchasing department, Smith offered to also work nights and mornings in the rapidly expanding CGI department. Smith quickly moved up to senior technical director working on such features as “Species” and “Outbreak” and animating on the theme park ride “Scuba Dog.” He was promoted to scene supervisor for “Multiplicity,” creating on-set pre-visualization and leading a team of compositors to complete the effects work.

David has been a member of the Academy of Motion Pictures Art and Sciences since 2013.

Andrea Lewis

Andrea Lewis

With over 30 years of experience in Feature Animation, Andrea has built a career with credits spanning such classics as “Aladdin” and “Hercules” to the award-winning “How To Train Your Dragon” series. Andrea started her career at Walt Disney Feature animation as a production accountant, also working on films including “Pocahontas” and “Atlantis.” After 10 years with Disney, Andrea was asked to join the team at DreamWorks SKG, during the company’s early years. There she acted as finance lead for projects such as “Shark Tale,” “Over the Hedge,” and “Kung Fu Panda (Secrets of the Furious Five).”

Andrea’s career entered an exciting next phase when she made the move to Warner Bros. in 2013. Brought in to help build the newly formed Warner Animation Group (WAG) division, Andrea worked on films “Storks” and “Smallfoot.” It was at Warner Bros. where Andrea transitioned into producing, working as associate producer on “Lego Batman” and “Pigeon Toady’s Short” as well as the development slate. Following her work at Warner Brothers and continuing in the role of associate producer, Andrea joined STX Entertainment in 2017, overseeing the movie “Ugly Dolls,” where she coordinated teams in Montreal, Dallas and Nanjing.

In what may be her most exciting and ambitious venture yet, Andrea serves as Senior VP of Production at Spire Studios.

A Michigan native, Andrea has a bachelor’s degree in Math and Finance, with a minor in Art History from the University of Southern California.

Above all else.…. Andrea is an avid Duke basketball fan(atic).

Jennifer Lombardo

Jennifer Lombardo

Jennifer is a true executive generalist with the ability to manage and create the necessary process and procedures needed to drive efficiencies for a successful business. Holding human resources and operational positions, Jennifer has thrived in both start-up cultures and large corporate environments.

In 1994, Jennifer began her human resources career which spans the production entertainment, VFX Production, animation production, AI production, video game development, manufacturing, digital marketing, content creation, social media and broadcast industries. Jennifer has worked with companies such as Warner Bros, Sony Pictures Entertainment (including Sony Pictures Animation, Sony Picture Digital and Sony Strategic Alliances divisions), Cinesite VFX and Animation Studio, Ignition Entertainment Gaming Studio, The Vitec Group (including Bexel Broadcast Rentals, Tomcat and Brilliant Truss Manufacturing), Tai Lopez entrepreneur education influencer Brand.

Jennifer has handled everything from negotiating terms on real estate agreements, creating custom operational policies, facing and winning unlawful-termination complaints, managing union contracts, scaling teams by increasing staff 150% to conducting management coaching. Additionally, Jennifer has experience in managing international workforces and is an expert in global compliance programs having worked in a variety of foreign countries including Canada, UK, Mexico, Italy, Slovakia, and Norway.

Other areas of Jennifer’s expertise include establishing processing payroll, conflict resolution, employee motivation, organizational development, core value assessments, employee relations, employee investigations, and recruitment.

A California native, Jennifer enjoys playing golf, participating in charity events, and spending time with her husband and dog in their backyard. She graduated from the CSUN HR Program, is a member of SHRM, and is a Certified Myers-Briggs trainer.

Ali Zaidi

Ali Zaidi

Ali has focused his career on the intersection of technology and computer graphics. He has a track record of identifying and adopting technologies, practices and frameworks to catalyze the engineering competencies of a growing animation studio. Prior to joining Spire, Ali was at DreamWorks for 12 years and led the establishment and growth of the multidisciplinary Platform Services department.

At DreamWorks, Ali pioneered the architecture and deployment of the studio’s first-ever cloud-native pipeline. This pipeline has now been adopted for all DreamWorks features in development. Ali also spearheaded the creation of key frameworks that form the foundation of the engineering and operational capabilities at the studio and led several projects including: DreamWorks Cloud (an orchestration framework, API and UI for all infrastructure automation on-prem and in the cloud), Stella (a database as a service platform on Kubernetes adoptable for any stateful technology), ForestFlow (a Linux Foundation incubated policy-based cloud-native machine learning model server), Showbot (a framework to instantiate artist workspaces in any region of the world) and Health Dashboard (a single pane of glass view and API for service discovery, APM, measuring SLOs and triage/reporting for the show, SREs, NOC and developers).

Ali grew up in Pakistan and lives with his four kids, wife and mother in the San Fernando Valley. He is an uncompromising Lakers fan and has a completely unrelated distaste for all things Boston. He has a BE in Electrical Engineering from NED University of Engineering and Technology, Karachi.

Ellen Coss

Ellen Coss

Ellen Coss is a 35-year veteran in computer generated imagery, starting her career at the seminal Digital Productions, when most people said, “what’s digital.”

In the 1980s feature films were not using computer imagery, but theme park attractions and commercials were. Working with her mentor Sherry McKenna she became the production manager of the film for Florida’s Universal Park Attraction, “The Funtastic World of Hanna Barbera”. The film, a motion-based race through three of Hanna Barbera’s cartoon worlds employed computer backgrounds and 2D characters, optically composited. This was one of the first projects to combine 2D and 3D animation.

Ellen then joined Rhythm & Hues as a producer for theme park attraction films such as “Seafari”, which won first place at Imagina that year. She later became the Executive Producer of the theme park division working on large format and 3D projects such as “Star Trek the Experience” and “Race to Atlantis”.

As many of the projects she worked on pushed the technology of the day, Disney Feature Animation hired Ellen to produce their theme park attraction films. “Magic Lamp”, which employed exaggerated squash and stretch techniques common in 2D but not common in cg, and “Mickey’s Philharmagic”, a stereoscopic film which took nine of Disney’s beloved 2D characters and created them in 3D for the first time.

Ellen then joined Dreamworks, as a Production Executive, where she helped the studio transition from 2D to 3D. Subsequently she was the Associate Producer on the feature film “Over the Hedge” and then rejoining Dreamworks after a stint overseas to produce several Kung Fu Panda projects.

Ellen continued her career working as one of the first hires at Illumination Ent. and Warner Animation Group, as well as consulting on feature film projects at Sony Pictures Animation and Aardman to name a few. Just before joining Spire Ellen completed work on films for the new “Jurassic Park Ride”, which was nominated for a VES award and “The Secret Life of Pets” Ride, including a real time section where the guests are puppies.

After work you can find Ellen in Griffith Park hiking with her dog Marlowe.

Philippe Brochu

Philippe Brochu

Philippe has led an impressive career as a 3D Artist and Concept Designer in his 20+ years working in the VFX and Animation industry. In both 2014 and 2019, he received The Visual Effect Society (VES) Award nominations for Outstanding Created Environment in an Animated Feature Motion Picture and also took part at the 47th Annie Awards in 2019, sharing nomination for the Production Design In An Animated Feature Production; “How To Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World.”

Prior to his current role at Spire Studios, Philippe first worked on an extensive list of Visual Effects films and TV series. Joining Disney Animation Studios in 2005, he worked on a number of movies including “Meet The Robinsons,” “Bolt,” and “Prep and Landing.” For more than a decade at DreamWorks Animation he received recognitions for “The Croods,” “The Croods 2: A New Age,” “Puss And Boots,” “Trolls,” and “How To Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World.” Most recently, he worked at Netflix Animation, where he designed concepts for 3 non-announced movies.

Philippe was born and grew up in Montreal, Canada where he studied Fine Arts, worked from cameraman, editor to Director of live broadcasts and developed his 3D Design skills as a graphic designer. Philippe is a member of the Animation Guild and ASIFA-Hollywood, and lives in Burbank California with his wife and daughter.

Charles Ellison

Charles Ellison

Charles has arrived at Spire with almost 20 years of experience in the Animation industry. Most notably during that time, Charles has served as a Head of Modeling for DreamWorks Animation where he supervised both Trolls and its sequel, Trolls World Tour. He also brings an extensive resume as a 3D artist for such franchises as “How To Train Your Dragon”, where he helped develop characters and environments for each installment of the beloved trilogy, and other DreamWorks films such as “Kung Fu Panda 2”, “Rise of the Guardians”, and “Abominable”. In more recent years, Charles has served mostly as a Character Visual Development artist where he has helped bring to life many franchise characters for upcoming projects from both DreamWorks Animation and Netflix Animation.

Charles has the unique combination of skill and collaborative spirit which empowers him to continue to usher into the world, vibrant animated characters that connect with audiences. His passion of the craft has also extended into the animation community where he’s dedicated many years to educate the next wave of talent as an Instructor for both the Art Center, College of Design in Pasadena, as well as AnimSchool’s highly acclaimed online program, teaching 3D character development.

Charles was born in Venezuela, but at an early age migrated to the United States, growing up in the San Francisco Bay Area, where he later studied Fine Arts and 3D Animation at the Academy of Arts University. A dreamer since a boy, Charles continues his pursuit of telling great stories through the characters he brings to life. Charles is a member of the Animation Guild and ASIFA-Hollywood, and lives in Los Angeles with his wife, two daughters and two dogs.