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Cinesite to Handle His Dark Materials

Cinesite has been awarded a major body of visual effects work for the forthcoming New Line cinema film HIS DARK MATERIALS. This follows Cinesites significant investment and expansion of its 3D team and capacity over the past two years.

The film is an adaptation of the first of Phillip Pullmans HIS DARK MATERIALS trilogy of books THE GOLDEN COMPASS. This award-winning and best-selling childrens trilogy tells the tale of Lyra, a young girl embarking on a dimension-crossing journey through parallel universes. The gripping philosophical epic is filled with talking animals with human characteristics, spectacular environments and exciting chase sequences.

Directed by Chris Weitz (ABOUT A BOY, ANOTHER BULLSHIT NIGHT IN SUCK CITY, AMERICAN WEDDING) and with visual effects supervision by Mike Fink (CONSTANTINE, X2, ROAD TO PERDITION), HIS DARK MATERIALS: THE GOLDEN COMPASS will begin principal photography in September. Extensive work on characters and environments is beginning at Cinesite.

This has been a major development for Cinesite, said managing director Antony Hunt. We have made major investments in handpicking the best talent in order to grow our highly skilled existing team of 3D artists and as a result have won this significant DARK MATERIALS contract.

Cinesite is also completing work on 500 visual effects shots for Disneys UNDERDOG and is the sole supplier of visual effects for MISS POTTER (Phoenix Pictures/The Weinstein Co.). Other recent work includes STORMBREAKER, LITTLE MAN, X-MEN: THE LAST STAND and THE OMEN.

For STORMBREAKER, released in the U.K. on July 21 and slated for an Aug. 18 release in the U.S., Cinesite created environments and effects for the teenage super-spy movie.

In one key sequence, the teenage hero is lured to the underground HQ of MI6 from a photo booth in Liverpool Street Station. Alex descends through a huge open atrium in a glass elevator, as surrounding office levels whiz past.

Visual effects supervisor Tom Debenham and director Geoffrey Sax wanted the shots to give an impression of the vast space hidden below ground, housing the high tech offices of MI6. Cinesite visual effects supervisor Sue Rowe oversaw the team of artists as they developed architecture to achieve this, using plans of other MI6 sets and artwork supplied by the production. It was also necessary for them to take still photographs of office interiors to adapt into a convincing population of the offices. Cinesites effects team also added the background and interactive lighting to a live-action plate of the two actors, which was composited to create the lift interior.

Other sequences involved adding the CG atrium into the background of several shots, animating graphics for various monitor inserts, bullet hits, explosion composites, digital matte paintings and seamlessly adding London into the background of bluescreen helicopter shots for the climax of the film.

London-based Cinesite ( is a Kodak-owned, high-end facility offering visual effects services, including digital effects, physical effects, models, film scanning and recording.

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Rick DeMott
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