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Engine Room Has New Home

Hybrid visual effects & specialty shooting company Engine Room has relocated to Hollywood Center Studios. The 3,800-square-foot, custom designed space features workstations for the company's 20 digital effects artists as well as headquarters for its live-action film unit. The move marks the next step in the company's development, including infrastructure growth, additional talent and key international alliances.

Engine Room has revved up on a number of projects, including visual effects for television episodics, commercials, independent films and studio features.

"This is a strategic move for us," explained Dan Schmit, a visual effects supervisor and cinematographer who founded Engine Room in 2001. "The opportunity to live within a production community was a significant draw. Further, it allows us to expand into a welcoming environment designed from the ground up with space for all of the interconnected departments and visiting clients in mind."

As part of the move, Engine Room's technical and working infrastructure has also expanded. A major element of this has been the recent integration of new web-based studio management software that the company originally signed up to beta-test, but has now fully embraced. Called Shotgun, it allows artists, producers and clients to check the status of every aspect of current visual effects jobs from on or off-site on any computer with an Internet connection.

"It was a big step to not only upgrade our physical location, but also how we do things internally, at the same time. But it paid off in spades on all levels," added exec producer Michael Caplan.

The virtual side of the new studio is also taking full advantage of the lightning-fast Internet speeds available on the HCS lot. This has been instrumental in their functional ability to collaborate with specialty artists and clients in other places, even out of the country. Both of these new assets were recently put to the test on Disney's original movie RETURN TO HALLOWEEN TOWN when the company enlisted the help of a small but talented 3D house in Buenos Aires, Argentina, to aide in the fast delivery of some of the 290 visual effects shots completed for the project.

"Communication and pipeline speed were the obvious concerns in this endeavor," noted Schmit. "However, with the studio's new functional design shots coming in from Buenos Aires were seamlessly integrated into our daily client review sessions and deliveries without a hitch."

For Schmit, the new studio's greatest appeal was almost limitless room for both physical and virtual expansion. "It allows us to keep our overhead low and that in turn makes us very competitive. This is a great benefit that we can pass on to all of our clients," he said. "And yet, when the time comes to step up for a large shoot or a greater visual effects effort, the infrastructure is all in place. The studio is totally wired, so we can literally set new CG artists down at workstations and they can just go!

"Or we can seamlessly manage visual effects shots being done off site, or walk around the corner where we have our choice of 11 different stages when it comes time to pull out the cameras. Our business model is based on this new kind of rapidly expanding and contracting flexibility. We believe it is the future of the production world we know and live in."

Engine Room (www.engineroomvfx.com) is a unique fusion of full service computer animation and visual effects with a live action unit that handles cinematic effects shoots, plus other motion picture and HD specialty productions. The combination allows the company to offer complete, or a la carte services to its diverse and compelling client roster. Engine Room's credit list includes the recent Weinstein feature PULSE, Paramount's upcoming FREEDOM WRITERS, as well as the Universal release of Nick Cassevetes' ALPHA DOG. Television credits include the upcoming FX Network series DIRT as well as the current Disney television series THE SUITE LIFE and CORY IN THE HOUSE, both shot at Hollywood Center Studios. Recent advertising work includes the new computer-generated theatrical logo for Lionsgate Ent., as well as broadcast spots for GMC, Tylenol and Target.

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