The Big Love: According to Variety, Lucasfilm is moving forward with plans to develop its own slate of computer-animated projects, announcing today the formation of an animation facility in Singapore.

Lucasfilm Animation Singapore becomes George Lucas' second such facility, having formed Lucasfilm Animation in California last year.

New studio, which will open by spring, will produce digitally animated films, television and games.

Once up and running, the studio could hire as many as 300 staffers, depending on the number of projects its animators are working on.

Over the past several years, Lucasfilm has been looking to enter the animation arena, especially as the same tools used to create high-end visual effects at Lucas' Industrial Light & Magic are increasingly utilized to create animated hits like "Finding Nemo" and "Shrek 2" at other studios.

Company had developed projects at several studios in the past, including a CG-animated "Frankenstein" at Universal, but was never given the greenlight. Lucasfilm Animation now has several other pics in the works in-house, that it will produce itself and then shop to distributors.

Singapore appealed to Lucasfilm because of the country's talent base and quality of life, according to Micheline Chau, prexy and chief operating officer of Lucasfilm.

The style of Asian animation has influenced Lucasfilm's recent animated projects, including the series "Star Wars: Clone Wars," a co-production with cabler Cartoon Network.

"I've been a fan of Asian animation and illustration all my life," George Lucas said. "Asian cinema has had a particularly big impact on a lot of my work. When we began thinking about developing new ways to explore the craft of animation, it seemed a natural step to combine the two. By having a base in Singapore, we can create a new style of animation that will blend East and West and offer something not seen before."
Brian B.