Flat Earth VFX

r&h mumbaiI’m not a regular NPR listener – just happened to tune in for a few minutes this morning while shaving, just in time for this morning’s seven and a half minute NPR story about the Rhythm & Hues studio in Mumbai that recently completed work on The Golden Compass and Alvin and the Chipmunks. Some new and interesting things I learned:

• India is on track to take $1 billion/year of Hollywood computer graphics production within the next few years.

• Tax breaks in the UK are so generous they make it difficult for US studios to compete DESPITE the unprecedentedly weak dollar.

• Talent costs, which would not logically decline over time (or ever) in the west, are low in Mumbai and Hyderabad – it’s the connectivity costs which are high. Connectivity is a commodity which would logically decline over time, in many cases rapidly.

• Perhaps most significant, there’s clearly no marginalizing the contributions made by the 200 person Mumbai office, who are heard being congratulated for work on the Monkey in Golden Compass – a major CG character. The CG creature (animal) work on that film has received universal praise; some claim it’s the best yet in any film (not yet having seen Golden Compass – although I love the book and have been looking forward to it – I can’t comment).

This is not like the in-betweening studios that do The Simpsons – the Mumbai R&H office is heard receiving credit for a major breakthrough with the monkey (”a central CG character”) in Golden Compass.

I corresponded with a couple of R&H folks today (from the main L.A. studio) who said that the job simply wouldn’t have been possible without Mumbai, that it allowed them to bid a bigger job than had been in their scope (so everyone benefited) and that although the Mumbai folks “started out with the ‘simple'(meaning easier to work on from remote) stuff — roto, tracking, and simple compositing, and gradually introducing the more difficult stuff as communications problems got solved, and their capacity and capability increased.

It looks like a nice place to work!

11 December 2007 | news, punditry | Comments

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