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U.K. Showcase Spotlights VFX

Last week, 70 British companies, including most of the Soho post players, convened the first U.K. Showcase at the Renaissance Hotel in Hollywood. More than a chance to escape the freezing London weather for sunny L.A., the thriving vfx companies, in particular, were able to tout their recent successes and do a little off-site business with Warner Bros., Fox and Universal, who have outsourced the bulk of their tentpole vfx work to the U.K. over the last few years.

At two VFX Showcases, several of the London vfx houses discussed their individual specialties and spirit of camaraderie along with the impact of the tax breaks for U.S. studios and the enormous impact of HARRY POTTER on their booming business. The participants included Moving Picture Co., Framestore CFC, Cinesite, Double Negative, Rushes, Clear, Capital FX and Men-From Mars.

The big four (MPC, Framestore, Cinesite and Double Negative) reported 75% growth in personnel in the last year, upping the number to 1,000. You can add more than 100 that are working at the other eight or so boutiques.

POTTER alone has ignited this flame of creativity, with 12 companies collaborating on the phenomenal Warner Bros. franchise, amounting to nearly 3,000 vfx shots.

Once MPC was able to handle the chocolate frogs in THE SORCERERS STONE, the floodgates opened for a much greater range of vfx work. We have matured as a business to produce consistent quality London has transcended its compositing strengths and has excelled at CGI and DI, remarked MPC exec director Michael Elson, whose company is working on HARRY POTTER AND THE GOBLET OF FIRE, Tim Burtons CHARLIE AND THE CHOCOLATE FACTORY and CORPSE BRIDE and Ridley Scotts KINGDOM OF HEAVEN.

Thanks to tax incentives and a wave of young talent, London has become a major global vfx player, and theres a very collaborative environment in Soho, since they all must divide the work. However, there is a feeling among some that the current vfx boom may not last much longer, what with the low exchange rate and new requirements that U.S. productions be shot in the U.K. to take full advantage of the tax breaks.