A Western VFX guy in China

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>> intelligent post << demoreel

Ohh, i forgot to mention that our collaboration named "intelligent post" will be pleased to kick out our first demoreel after the Chinese new year, lots of exciting stuff, a kick ass Houdini shop here in Beijing with own R&D site and constant input from coders of Side Effects itself and the rest of us, some DD, some ILM guys long time involved in local training of Chinese folks to demonstrate the world what can be done. But this later…just to give you some ideas…you have seen ‘Perfect Storm’…we have the ocean code.. and it looks fantastic…just to kick some asses here in Beijing and to prove some disbelievers wrong…but more later…stay tuned !!
 
PS: 4 RED’s are underway with Cook S4/i lens set and will lead the revolution in China, desktop 4K workflow included, Scratch for Conform and Sony’s SXRD 4K
projector with 10000 Ansi lumen, where ?? Ha, this is a secret  !!
 
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fxphd – the online doctorate for VFX people

This is just a entry to praise the work of the founders of fxphd,  probably better known from their popular website fxguide and their ingenious online training concept of fxphd. Production oriented training for beginners as well as seasoned pro’s (like me ) who want keep up with recent developments and want to further extend their knowledge base. I highly recommend those guys and the variety of different courses which are well thought out and reflect the most commonly used practices and applications in the TV and film arena. I have tried them and was pleased, a real “Bang for the Buck” and professionally presented. Five ***** stars from me…give them a try, you will not regret it !!
 
Here is my certificate of completion:
 
 
 

Autodesk Certified Instructor for Flame/Inferno

I am available for doing 5 days (Level 1, Level2) instruction sessions for Autodesk’s advanced product line Flame/Inferno. I’ll try to closely work with Autodesk Beijing to shape up the next generation of Flame artists and also to develop the “Train-the-Trainer’s” program for training centers who want become Autodesk certified. I’ve tried that with Beijing University before to open up a training center, but failed because of its rigid regulatory framework and lack of financial support. It was probably too early for them…
 
please see following entry on Autodesk’s webpage.
 
 
Note: I am certified for its latest version FLAME 2008, but haven’t
received my new diploma.

Tai Hang Shan Shang

Here is a entry of the most anticipated project in 2007 named ‘Tai Hang Shan Shang’ which marked the 60th anniversary of the Anti-Japanese War (WII) and of China’s
victory against the intruders. The first big scale project i have done with the Chinese army, including real tanks, real airplanes, a vast amount of real foot soldiers
up to 10.000 !! and many many more crazy things i have experienced with the armie’s own well reputated film studio named ‘August First’, which was highly 
recommended to shoot ‘Saving Private Ryan’ back in those days because of their ultra-realistic looking battle scenes and explosions (Yeah, i know that and had the the ‘VERY’ exciting opportunity to participate in many dangerous pyro-setups with a ‘demolition unit’ which was just doing ‘film-explosions’ during peace time, honestly not really something for safety concernd Western film-crews, the shelters were too close, the amount of TNT too much and so on…one assistant caught fire and i almost got hit from flying debris, i just jumped to the right side !!)
 
Despite a regulary 15 hour day and freezing cold nights a very interesting experience to see real hangar explosions (30 meter high fire balls), mass of burning soldiers flying elevated by land-mines and horses with tied up legs rolling down mudy slides, a whole village mined and blown up and finally a bumpy ride in an ancient Russian helicopter for aerial shots experiencing downwinds (lee rotor) close to a cliff’s edge…so nothing really concerned about if you are planning to shoot in China, improvisation is everything and don’t be afraid of not having a safety belt if you get too close to the waterfalls’s edge, just don’t fall in, otherwise you get grinded in seconds at the bottom, but we’ve warned you so don’t complain, understand ??
 
 
Just to make a long story short: Here are some stills from comps (night explosions) i have done in Inferno, real plates mixed with indoor blue-screen footage, framing and perspective matched with a simple vision mixer and the video assist. Challenges: The bluescreen footage was completely crap, i had to partially manually roto people, a lot of noise(grain) but thanks to the Master and Modular Keyer doable, but PITA anyway !! Again should have listen to us what kind of stock to use and at least try to stay in focus !! I’ve supervised the high-speed miniature shooting done in 3 passes with a Pegasus crane and stitched together in the post later. Since the runway was too short we used “forced perspective” and models ranging from 6:1 to 10:1 to further ‘virtually’ increase the distance.
 
 
 
Slideshow:
 
 
Note: If your computer is too slow to play the slideshow smoothly back or
you want to see and download pictures by yourself, please click this link.
 

Commercial/Film China

The first entry is about Chinese tv-series and commercial stuff and some shots are from feature film projects in China, including ‘Gunman’, ‘Tai Hang Shan Shang’, ‘A World Without Thieves’ and ‘Deng Xiao Ping’s Time in France’. I was involved as Flame artist, Post/Visual Effects Supervisor. It’s more like a teaser to show the variety of things i have done in China. I will have another entry showing stuff from Germany, but this later…
 
If you are interested in more, please send me a email or click following link to download my CV.
 

Work China:

    http://www.esnips.com//3rd/flvplayer/esnips_flvplayer12.swf  

Note: If your computer is too slow or does not have enough RAM to play the video

in real-time just open the ‘My works" category or if this doesn’t help click following link.
 
 

Technicolor Beijing

So here we go: I was the GM (General Manager) of the newly setup JV between Technicolor (by Thomson) and a well known Chinese television commercial post-house. Needless to say, without being too sarcastic, that this was a ‘difficult’ one, but that’s why i’ve got the job, because not many people actually have the endurance, experience and connections in the Chinese film industry like me, bullet proof in dealing with officials and their decendents, knowing all the hickups and difficulties of the West in dealing with the East. The usual reluctance in accepting each other’s common practices and without pointing fingers are some of our North American friends obviously not really educated enough in handling different cultural perspectives. Hollywood as well as Chinawood faces a steep learning curve…time will tell…it’s not my objective to judge here in this blog, i (“we” as a community of foreigners with many years in leading European and US VFX facilities and knowing the common pitfalls are just watching and wishing them ‘good luck’ in their future business endeavors. But having an expensive shop in Beijing is at least a nice ‘try’ to push the envelope as a international player… But see for yourself… BTW the first picture represents me with long hairs !!
 
 
 
 

MOCO Shooting (General Lift)

Very interesting to see that some of the private TV stations are willing to spend the money for bigger compaigns like in this case for Sun TV and their Olympic Game trailer (my wife designed almost the whole CI for this wealthy channel, but because of a very well known state owned, so called ‘private’ driven post-house and their not existing business acumen unfortunately never ever happend…but this would be another long time story, … maybe later ?!?!). SO, they had the money to invite 2 guys from General lift for 800 USD/day to program the very simple straight forward moving (like a dolly) Moco rig, hmmmm… but since it was BFA (Beijing Film Academie’s) first ever attempted project to use such a big and expensive gear, foreign ‘experts’ had to be flown in. The only real difficult challenge was naturally the lighting, which had to match exterior scenes in different light conditions, since the moves were stored and used again at different locations around Beijing, but the studio scenes were shot first, so more difficult the unpredictable outdoor weather later, BUT this was actually my job to ensure that everything would blend seamlessly during the compositing stage. Not only the lighting had to be matched also that the whole thing would intentionally appear as ‘one’ scene without any transitions or cuts. A normal shooting day in China. I recorded the HD-SDI footage directly from the F900 (with a regular Fujinon HD glass and REC 709 Gamma Curve loaded) into a beefed up 8-core Mac with HD Raid and Kona3 card to check the framing against our pre-vized storyboard and our previously shot scenes, worked really well, OK, OK, i could have used the WAFIAN with Cineform codec to save money, but i couldn’t get the recorder in time, so i went down the uncompressed road,… the final clip later, since it is not even aired yet !!