Animax Designs unveils industry-leading Technical Design Team

Left to right: Thomas Ring, Paul Fly, Chris Lee, Tommy Schatz-Thompson and Michael T. Schupbach

Animax Designs, a specialist in the creation of animatronics and interactive characters, has announced a new Technical Design Team led by Chris Lee.

Animax Designs is proud to unveil its new industry-leading technical design team, in order to strengthen its collaborative approach to innovative projects. The team of five is led by the newly appointed Chris Lee, Director of Technical Design. Together they will lead the technical design and production of projects and will be responsible for curating each project from concept through to final design. They will also incorporate best practices for overall project approach and build plans.

The new team brings together engineering ability with creative design knowledge and expertise in finish and assembly. Known as Technical Design Managers (TDMs), the team will oversee the whole process and encourage collaboration as staff work towards project goals. Between them, the new team members have over 100 years of specialised experience, meaning they are ideally placed to deliver the company’s complex animatronic characters.

Meet the team

Thomas Ring is a veteran in the animatronics industry, with more than 26 years of experience in creative direction and technical design. Michael T. Shupbach is a master puppeteer who brings over 20 years of experience to the role, from his work in TV and live entertainment.

Paul Fly previously worked as an Assembly Manager for Animax Designs and brings useful company-specific knowledge to the team. He is also a classically trained sculptor with over 11 years of themed entertainment experience. Tommy Schatz-Thompson is a seasoned fabricator, rigger and animator, as well as an award-winning director with valuable experience in stop motion and film production.

Chris Lee

Lee will manage the team as Director of Technical Design. He previously worked as Chief Technology Officer (CTO) of Anode, Inc. and Senior Product Owner at The Dalton Agency. Lee has nearly 30 years of experience in the industry.

Steve Andersen, Vice President of Operations says, “It’s the combination of career and personal experience that made Chris a standout candidate for the director position. He has a unique skillset that will assist us in our rapid growth as we continue to innovate the future of animatronics.”

During his time as the CTO at Anode, Inc., Lee oversaw the creation of one of the first Software-as-a-Service digital signage offering in the United States. While with this company, he also served as the conceptual and technical lead of a new interactive exhibit at the County Music Hall of Fame and Museum.

Lee has hands-on electro-mechanical fabrication experience, gained from building cinematic-quality robotic replicas, competition animatronic props and costume components. He has also created radio-controlled and ride-on vehicles.

A dedicated team

“I’m excited to bring my experience in digital storytelling, product management, and guest experience to the Animax family. I’m grateful for the opportunity to lead this dedicated and resourceful team of Technical Design Managers as we work to advance our company’s capabilities and processes. It’s a dream come true to be a part of such a talented group of creative professionals working together to bring characters to life,” said Lee.

Chuck Fawcett, President & CEO of Animax said, “It has taken 30 years of continuous growth and building significant scale to afford us this opportunity, and Chris has the ideal credentials to lead us there!”

“The level of complexity in the characters we are now designing and building requires a team to help drive non-conventional thinking, while at the same time understanding the fundamental components required in bringing three-dimensional characters to life in the most life-like ways. The addition of Chris Lee and team is a unique approach in the industry and one we believe will keep Animax Designs ahead of the competition.”

Earlier this year, Animax Designs appointed Steve Andersen as Vice President of Operations. Andersen brings nearly 30 years of experience to the role at the rapidly growing company.