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The leading animation studio executive

Stefanie Bitton, BComm 02
November 6, 2023
By Richard Burnett, BA 88

A woman with long brown hair is wearing a dark blazer and is sitting in front of a dark coloured wood panel wall.

TONIC DNA co-owner and executive producer Stefanie Bitton and her team of creators are on a mission to inspire people through the power of animation and great storytelling.

The Montreal-based production studio has been creating award-winning content for 40 years, with a high-powered client list that includes Disney, Warner Bros., Netflix, Apple TV, Nike and Coca-Cola.

TONIC DNA specializes in a vast range of animation techniques including 2D, 3D, Motion Design, Stop-Motion, VFX and Live-Action. The studio’s work has won Jutra and Genie awards, the Annecy Grand Prize, as well as an Oscar in 2000 for Best Animated Short Film for Old Man and the Sea and a Clio Award in 2023.

Standout project

“Producing the beautiful film Freebird, which was longlisted for an Academy Award and challenges the misconceptions surrounding Down Syndrome.”

Proudest career moment

“Becoming a partner at Tonic DNA. I started working there soon after I finished university when I was about 25 years old. I started as an employee, I grew in that company, and then, in 2015, I became a partner.”

Career challenge

“When I first started in animation, I was one of the few women in our company — which reflected the male-dominated industry in general at that time. Things have changed a lot, and there are a lot more women in the animation industry today. In our company, we are now over 50 per cent women.”

Influential professor

“My consumer behaviour professor Stephen J. Laing always made me feel very comfortable to speak up when I had questions. He helped me come out of my shell and helped me grow.”

Industry trends

“Montreal has become a very important hub when it comes to animation. We see a lot of mixed-media trends right now combining animation techniques. If you look at films like Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse or Puss in Boots, these are all computer-generated productions but have this 2D painterly technique, which we really love at our studio.”

Favourite pastime

“I love watching cartoons with my two sons, aged 8 and 12, seeing animation through the eyes of my children.”

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