Al the 'magic' of a children's show from an award-winning Irish animation company is set to happen in Belfast from this spring.
Jam Media – the Dublin-based animation company which places cardboard cartoon character Roy with real-life actors in a popular CBBC show – is opening new premises in Belfast this May.
Offering handsome pay packages to senior animators, the recruitment drive is on to fill the newly renovated Murray's Exchange on Sandy Row with a staff of 40.
All the post-production of Roy and similar shows like Baby Jake and Picme – which gave children the chance for their face to appear in the globally-broadcast cartoon – will take place at the Belfast branch of the expanding animation stable.
Jam Media is investing £1.4m in the new world-class production and special effects facility with new positions on offer ranging from high-quality senior animators, graduate programmers and management positions to administrative staff.
The company has received £280,000 from Invest NI to help secure the 40 new jobs, as well as £323,000 in production funding from Northern Ireland Screen.
The pioneering work of the firm's animation has so far clinched them a Bafta and an Ifta – and chief executive John Rice confirmed "all the magic" of the show Roy will happen in Belfast.
"In the new office here we will marry all the live action of the show with the animated character and weave it into the environment, which is all done in the post-production," he said.
He added that he was delighted to be bringing his company to Belfast.
"The Belfast operation will initially service our portfolio of productions and also compete for third-party productions and stand alone work from outside Northern Ireland," he added.
Enterprise Minister Arlene Foster welcomed the animators on their decision to set up shop in Belfast.
"This is a tremendous boost for the local animation sector and the wider creative industries arena. Jam Media is a highly acclaimed, Bafta award-winning company which has recognised the talent of Northern Ireland's animation sector."
Jam Media opened in Dublin in 2002. Its Picme series was snapped up by MTV. Among some of its newest projects are the creation of a small screen version of Polly Dunbar's colourful characters from her Tilly and Friends book series.
Ms Foster added that she and her children were fans of Roy after watching his exploits on CBBC.
"I think when Northern Ireland children realised it will be created here or rather conceptualised right here then I think it will be something they can enjoy taking ownership of," she added.