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Visualizing the future (4)

By Liu Wei  (China Daily)

09:17, May 25, 2012

Bremble points out Chinese movies usually have just one or a few investors. So, they want quick returns and don't allow much time for post-production work.

In the United States or Europe, however, the visual effects team are involved from the very beginning, often at the scriptwriting stage.

"Visual effects are also part of pre-production," Base FX animation supervisor Kai Lun says.

But he has met some Chinese directors who know only that they want something "cool" but can't describe at all what that is.

Fortunately, things are changing.

A growing number of Chinese filmmakers have realized pre-production's importance, such as Zhang Yimou, who worked with Base FX on The Flowers of War and Lu Chuan on King's Feast.

Base FX is working on Hong Kong director Gordon Chan's costume drama The Four. Chan began discussions with Bremble before the script was completed. He was planning to build a small town, but Bremble showed him a CG city, which cost much less. Chan decided to go with it.

Visual effects budgets are another obstacle for Chinese films.

Kai, of Base FX, points out most Chinese films spend only about 10 percent of their budget on visual effects, while Hollywood films use 15-30 percent, and even more for such visually striking pictures as Avatar.

But Chinese filmmakers are starting to spend more on effects, Heinze says. "Some movies are already in the scale of what Hollywood would spend on an independent movie."

Both Pixomondo and Base FX believe China will need real creativity when its labor cost advantage disappears. But they're not concerned, they say, as they see more local talent developing.

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