Primal Screen: 10 Years Young

On Thursday, August 25th, Primal Screen celebrated their 10 year existence with a nice, big soiree. Andrea and I were both able to attend sans kids, so it was a rare treat for both of us to walk around the nice, sleek, minimalist, ├╝ber-hip club where the party took place. It was a great event, as the theme was 10 Year Reunion and everybody who at one point either worked with or at Primal from the past ten years was invited. It was packed, and I know many who still could not make it.

Primal Screen. My place of occupation for five years. It's the longest I've ever been employed by a single company, and I have to say that I've never been happier. Not to say that it's been a piece of cake for me the entire time. No way. When I started on August 1st, 2000, the sayings "trial by fire," and "drop him in the water and see if he can swim" come to mind. It was a crazy couple of first months, but after looking back on it now, those strenuous first months seemed necessary, in a weird way. Having a hard time early on made the rest of my Primal career seem like, well, a piece of cake.

Primal Screen was started in 1995 by Douglass Grimmett in Chapel Hill, North Carolina. With a modest start, Primal focused mainly on music and animation for broadcast, with the majority of the work for Cartoon Network. With Atlanta housing the headquarters for their top client, as well as the city having a much larger talent pool, it seemed logical to move the entire operation here in 1997.

And it worked. Business boomed. I remember when I heard of this new upstart company moving here, hiring all the available freelancers they could because of this big high-priority job for CN. I came by to check out the place back when they hadn't been in the city for three months. Some of my animation buddies had been hired full-time there, and so I was very curious. I was surprised to see so many fresh faces, as I was used to viewing the animation community here in town with a limited scope. I remember that I could count all of Atlanta's animators on my two hands, with some fingers to spare. Now, there were easily 10 to 15 NEW faces to add to that pool. I was amazed. Grabbing new talent from Georgia State University, Atlanta College of Art and Savannah College of Art & Design (SCAD), Doug & Co. were able to jump-start this sleepy town into becoming an animation contender.

Now with about 30 full-time employees, along with several interns and freelancers running around, Primal is a happenin' place. Even with CG and Flash seeming to take over the entire animation industry, I'm happy to say that we still crank out tradtional, hand-drawn animation here -- along with those new-fangled styles I just mentioned. There's a great symbiotic relationship between everybody here. Somehow we all fit together. We also do music and motion design for broadcast and commercials as well. So, if you're ever in the vicinity of Atlanta, be sure to check out our swank digs here at 550 Ralph McGill Ave. I'd be glad to show you around. And for the record, we are always looking for new talent, animation- and design-wise. Be sure to contact us via our website.

What we look like:

Click on staff photo to go to the Flick page, complete with notes for who's who!

Hey, check this out: you can see a gallery of pics of when AIGA-Atlanta had an open house at Primal back in April. Just click HERE and then click on Primal Screen Open House. You'll see yours truly waxing poetic about animation, no doubt boring the socks off the unfortunate few who sadly set foot into my cubicle.

You can check out the architects who were behind the "adaptive reuse" of the 1940's printing warehouse that Primal currently resides in HERE. Yes, even the building has won an award.

Create Magazine recently wrote an article about Primal's fun and whimsical website. (The website won a BDA Gold and some AIGA awards, by the way.)

We do a lot of work for PBS Kids, including many of the ID's and bumps that you currently see on the network. A couple of years ago, PBS wanted to do a Studio Tour online, sort of a "behind the scenes" kind of thing. You can check it out HERE. Yes, I make an appearance at one point during the tour. Laugh it up, fuzzball.

Hope you enjoy your Primal tour! Like I mentioned earlier, be sure to swing by if you're ever in the neighborhood. We'd be glad to have ya.


  1. Nostalgia tends to bring lots of happy and sometimes depressing memories; good thing you've involved in well-known companies that gives you the power and inspirations to build up your own stuff! Just keep up and never give up!

    - Glen!

  2. Congrats Primal! It was a joy to read about Primal's history... (I just used the phrase "It was a joy"... I sound like a grandma) And it was nice to be able to faces with names. Looks like a talented group of people!
    Cheers to you all!

  3. Happy Anniversary to Primal and congrats to you, Ward, on having found a great place to work! I was lucky enough to be at that AIGA open house event and was very impressed with the beautiful office, the friendly and energetic staff and mostly with the amazing promo reel of works we watched. It was very inspiring to a aspiring graphic designer like myself to see such a rich pool of talent in my home town! Here's hoping Atlanta continues to become a hub for animation.

  4. Did we meet, Darin? I probably was running my mouth, not paying attention. Sorry if that was the case. I'm glad you got to check the place out. We've been in this new building for about 2 years now and we really love it.

    Jared, when do we see YOUR bright and shiny face grace our abode?

  5. Yes, Ward, I saw you give a very nice presentation in your office about the animation process. I enjoyed it very much as I did meeting you and the others (does Strandquest still work there?). I was just looking at the photos on the AIGA site you linked to and noticed that the top left corner of my shaved, bespectacled head made it into one with the group in your office!

    I was so impressed with the place I drove my wife down there afterwards so she could see the building.

  6. Primal looks like a great place. I'll have to take you up on your offer of a tour next time I get over to that part of town!

  7. Redcrow -- come on by!

    Darin -- I do remember you now. Sorry I'm so forgetful when it comes to remembering people. Slight problem there. Glad to see you in the pics -- actually you're in #20, too!

  8. Looks like a classy joint all around. (building, interiors and people!) I'm happy you have found such a great, creative place to spend your working days!