Chinese Cinema: Base FX’s Effects Exception | Move Over HollywoodPosted: August 30, 2013
China has yet to establish much of a visual effects industry built on quality of work. Indeed most Chinese filmmakers tend to use Thai or Korean shops, as their graphics are better than those from China’s vfx companies but not as pricey as the top-end effects from the U.S., Europe or Australia/New Zealand.
One notable exception to the mediocrity of Chinese vfx has been Base FX, a Beijing-based digital effects house set up in 2006 with the aim of serving both Hollywood and the local Chinese and Asian industries.
As a mark of its difference, Base FX has collected a couple of Emmys (for “The Pacific” and “Boardwalk Empire”) and 15 months ago struck a strategic partnership with Industrial Light & Magic. The deal, which was renewed and expanded in April, gives ILM/Lucasfilm guaranteed scale and capacity in China. It also guarantees Base FX a certain amount of prestigious film-related work each year.
Under ILM supervision, the company has worked on “G.I. Joe: Retaliation,” “Star Trek Into Darkness,” and “The Lone Ranger.” Most recently it supplied 350 shots for “Pacific Rim” and it is set to be a key part of “Star Wars: Episode VII.” U.S. TV work includes effects for Starz’s “Black Sails” and HBO’s “True Detectives.”
In the past year, the company has leaped forward in other ways too. It has tripled its revenues, increased its staff from 210 to some 300, and is now building a clone operation at a former steel mill site in Wuxi, near Shanghai. Though there may be some file sharing, the company intends to have two separate teams that work on their own projects.
As the Chinese film industry matures Base FX is attracting more local commissions. Even with the ILM work, founder Christopher Bremble says, the proportion of Hollywood-sourced work has dropped from 70% a couple of years ago to less than half now. Local filmmakers using Base FX include Lu Chuan (“The Last Supper”) and Zhang Yimou (“The Flowers of War”), while producer clients include Bill Kong’s Edko and production giant Wanda Media.
The company has also recently been chosen to produce a live-action car-racing film for the core of one of the “dark rides” Wanda is building into its theme parks.Source: Variety – “Chinese Cinema: Base FX’s Effects Exception” – Patrick Frater
Move Over Hollywood
It seems, like many before it, Hollywood may soon to tumble to its’ end as the mass media producer. As conditions have shifted, superior cities such as Hollywood now face growing competition from now growing film and television industries across the world, such as in India, Nigeria and Asia.
Not only are there national media industries on the rise, there are also media capitals commanding the attention of their audiences left, right and center. Media capitals are “locations where complex forces and flows interact, they are neither bounded nor self-government entities” (Curtin 2003). They direct our attentions to complex exchanges and migrations of cultural, economic and technology, that operate at different levels, such as local, global and regional.
Just like the creation of Hollywood’s film industry, new media capitals are ‘borrowing’ elements and artists from afar to market genres and technologiesacross cultural divides, such as in Hong Kong. Hong Kong benefits from a lack of censorship and open trade policies and has many economic and cultural flows with China mainland, ensuring a market for the material they create.
In 1993, Huntington coined the ‘Clash of Civilizations’ theory, which he suggests would be informed by ‘cultural essentialism’, reified an Orientalist opposition between East and west and focus our attention on boundaries and containers rather than complex patterns of flow. However, as these media capitals have arisen, it has become clear that not only are our similarities greater than our differences, but cultural spheres are now seen as influenced and not coherent, and constrained entities. They are sights where new patterns of flows are no longer only shared between sovereign states; instead information and influences are spread over cities. Media capitals are Media capitals are “places where things come together and consequently where the generation and circulation of new mass culture forms become possible” (Curtin 2003).
An example of these flows includes the different TV shows that have migrated around the world. One TV show that has been intergraded into various media cities culture is Big Brother, in which 15-20 are constantly watched by the viewers. This show started in the Netherlands and is now shown in seventy different countries. Since then the show has become a worldwide TV favourite, airing in various countries in a number of versions.
Due to media capitals constant influence from other cities it has been possible to even make regional versions of Big Brother. The contestants in these versions must come from each of the countries in the region where it airs. An example would be the African Big Brother shows, which air in Angola,Botswana, Ethiopia, Ghana, Kenya, Liberia, Malawi, Mozambique, Namibia,Nigeria, Sierra Leone, South Africa, Tanzania, Uganda, Zambia andZimbabwe.
Media capitals are cultural spheres of influences rather than contained boundaries. They have allowed material to flow from city to city, allowing for cultures to form inside their national traditions.
- Monster mayhem: Pacific Rim (fxguide.com)
- “Pirates of the Caribbean” Now Dreams Come True for Lee Seung-hun on Becoming a Part of “Star Wars” (jedimouseketeer.com)
- Digital Domain VFX Sizzle Reel (geektyrant.com)
- Arnold, Primary Renderer for VFX Production! (kettyhuangblog.wordpress.com)
- Chinese property and cinema mogul named country’s richest person (theguardian.com)
- VFX adventures: The Lone Ranger (fxguide.com)
- 13 Indispensable Special Effects Breakthroughs By Industrial Light & Magic (buzzfeed.com)
- The Avengers – Watch Videos about the Oscar-Nominated Visual Effects (capesonfilm.com)
- John Dykstra (en.memory-alpha.org)