S4 Studios Llc. announced the formation of S4 VFX, a new, niche-marketed division of the six-year-old 3D animation studio that will be dedicated to MPAA fixes such as object removal and replacement and creative feature vfx work in 2D and 3D. S4 Studios partner Geoffrey Kater, supported by partners Larry Le Francis and Dale Hendrickson, will run the division.
According to Kater, the idea for a dedicated division came about as a result of the boom in trailer business, increasingly driven by the direct-to DVD market. Along with a lot of design and animation for trailers, we found that we were being asked to do 15 to 20 shots a month of removal and replacement work. We saw a market for this kind of image processing that would enable us to easily handle many times that amount and bring in clients who might ordinarily take these shots to a post house or large effects studio at a far greater cost. We can provide clients with a quick, economical turnaround, sometimes the same day, which is something that others will do, but at rush costs.
Kater added that S4 VFX has completed shots on theatrical trailers for ASSAULT ON PRECINCT 13, SAW II, DODGEBALL, Jet Lis UNLEASHED, BIG MOMMAS HOUSE 2, along with creative graphics work on the DVD releases of THE DAY AFTER TOMORROW and ROBOTS.
Clear MPAA restrictions on trailer content for the general public are driving the need for object removal and replacement, as Kater explained. For instance, if the original scene shows a gun being pointed at someone, or shows blood on someones face, MPAA regulations dictate that the gun, the blood, and in some cases, an entire person be replaced by something else or removed entirely. Kater added that other undesirable shots might include aircraft in peril, images of explosions, knives, box cutters, intense sexual content, lewd gestures, extreme violence and the like.
The dilemma facing a trailer house is that they naturally want to select scenes that are really dynamic and action packed, these are the scenes that usually contain the highest level of violence or sexual content. Kater said. Our job is to address the story and offer creative solutions using vfx techniques that directly address our clients need for removal and replacement work. Additionally, as a creative animation studio, we offer a creative fix that far outshines the typical blur or dark spot associated with most MPAA fixes.
S4 Studios (www.S4studios.com) is located at 1529 N. Cahuenga Blvd., Hollywood, California, 90028; phone (323) 466-3910.