LA animation firm comes to Taiwan

The China Post news staff

The China Post news staff–One of Hollywood’s biggest animation and visual effects companies has unveiled major investment programs in Taiwan. The Los Angeles-based Rhythm & Hues Studios (R&H), yesterday signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) with Taiwan at a ceremony in Taipei, and will sign another in Kaohsiung today. The Academy Award-winning company said it plans to establish three separate enterprises that will leverage Taiwan’s technological and creative strength and capacity. The investments mark the major recognition of Taiwan’s role in the animation industry. R&H revealed that the idea of investing in Taiwan was first suggested by acclaimed Taiwanese film director Ang Lee, with whom the company has been collaborating on “Life of Pi,” the upcoming film due to be released by Twentieth Century Fox. “We were sharing our vision for the future with Ang and he suggested Taiwan, which is known for its cutting-edge technology,” Lee Berger, president of R&H’s film division, was cited by a company press statement as saying. “He opened doors for us with the MOEA (Ministry of Economic Affairs), and we’ve been extremely impressed with the support and guidance we’ve received from the Taiwan government ever since,” Berger added. Christina Liu, minister of the Council for Economic Planning and Development (CEPD), said during the signing ceremony that a Taiwan trade mission to Los Angeles in May 2011 facilitated the collaboration with R&H. Both sides signed a MOU in October, with planned investment amounting to NT$3 billion, Liu said. With assistance from the MOEA, R&H said it will set up a film investment fund called East Grand Films to co-finance and co-produce major Hollywood motion pictures.

East Grand Films will leverage R&H’s connections with the film industry in Hollywood to gain access to investment opportunities.

R&H said it will also establish a Visual Effects Center (VFX Center) in Kaohsiung. The VFX Center will eventually employ 200 Taiwanese digital artists, to be trained by R&H experts, and will work directly on Hollywood movies, the company said.

The center will join R&H’s and five other existing international facilities based in India, Malaysia, Canada and the United States.

The company said it will also build a next-generation cloud computing facility to service the visual effects and animation industry.

To design and develop this new facility, R&H said it will be signing an MOU to create a three-way partnership with Chunghwa Telecom and Quanta Computer. “We are very excited to be able to present our ambitious plans for Taiwan and we are looking forward to a long and fruitful relationship,” said John Hughes, president and co-founder of R&H. R&H was founded in 1987 in Hollywood, and since then it has established a worldwide reputation for high-quality computer-generated character animation, including the Coca-Cola Polar Bears in the early 1990s.

It said it has produced animation and visual effects for more than 130 movies including “The Golden Compass,” and “Babe” — both of which earned Academy Awards for Achievement in Visual Effects, in 2008 and 1995 respectively.