(animationmagazine.net) VFX powerhouse Rhythm & Hues celebrates 25 colorful years, embarks on more ambitious projects and plans bigger expansion overseas.
Although average moviegoers may not be able to identify the work of Rhythm & Hues, they’ve been enjoying the impressive handiwork of the studio’s artists for 25 years now. Whether it’s the two Babe movies or live-action adaptations of toons such as Alvin & the Chipmunks, Garfield, Yogi Bear and Scooby-Doo or more sophisticated outings such as The Golden Compass, X-Men: First Class and Percy Jackson & the Olympians, the smooth CG work of R&H has left a big impression on our pop culture landscape.
Founded in 1987 by John Hughes, Keith Goldfarb, Pauline Ts’o, Frank Wuts, Charles Gibson and Cliff Boule (former employees of Robert Abel and Assoc., which specialized in TV commercials with computer graphics), R&H evolved as a leading producer of vfx and character animation. After acquiring VIFX from 20th Century Fox in 1999, the shop continued to expand its reach overseas. R&H has also opened two additional production facilities in India (in Malad and Hyderabad), another one in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia and one in Vancouver, Canada. The studio will continue its international growth with plans to open a third studio in India, and two in Taipei and Kaohsiung, Taiwan this year.
“What made us famous in the feature world was the happenstance of developing technology that was used in the original Babe in 1995,” says Lee Berger, president of the studio’s feature film division. “We developed a method to make animals talk that no one had done before, lighting the interior of mouth, changing the expression of the face and, overall, using a more realistic approach. People in the industry came to think of us as the studio that could do photo-real animals, before the technology was there to do full-body animation.”
As more family movies began to spotlight talking animals, like Cats & Dogs and Scooby-Doo, photo-real animals began to supplement animatronics.
“Hollywood was able to mine a lot of these cartoon characters using this technology that we were known for,” adds Berger. “It was a combination of the technology, timing and luck, as is everything!”
Berger also brings up the point that Rhythm & Hues offers artists a great work environment.