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China still turning to Hollywood for special effects

12-15-2010 14:33 BJT

BEIJING - China has produced its first 3D IMAX movie with the help of Hollywood experts to bring some of the film's most spectacular scenes to life.

Experts said It is impossible for China's filmmakers to deliver good 3D visual
effects without depending on overseas teams.

Producers of the Legend of Daming Palace, a story about a foreign prince who fell in love with a Han princess in the Tang Dynasty (AD 618-907), brought in Reed Philip Smoot and Peter William Anderson, among others, to shoot and work on the film and its 3D effects.

Smoot, who has shot dozens of films, specializes in large format cinemas such as IMAX. Anderson has been director of photography for several 3D films.

Jin Tiemu, the film's director, said China still does not have qualified and experienced 3D visual effects engineers. "It is impossible to deliver good 3D visual effects without depending on overseas teams," he said.

Earlier this year, several non-IMAX 3D movies were released by Chinese companies, but most failed to impress, resulting in poor box office returns.

Nearly every one of China's blockbusters hired overseas teams for special effects, said Xiao Yongliang, professor of Beijing Normal University's Arts and Communication School and a former general engineer of Fox's Blue Sky Studio.

"For example, this year's box office hit Aftershock hired South Korean companies and a French company for the visual effects," he said.

Yang Xuepei, head of China Research Institute of Film Science & Technology (CRIFST), said China needs another 10 years of growth to be able to achieve the visual effects seen in films such as Avatar.

Yang Yongan, curator of China National Film Museum, said the shortage of professionals is the biggest problem in China's film visual effects industry. The museum and CRIFST organized a forum about special effects this month to facilitate communication in the industry.

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