Oz VFX house readies 3D Chinese animated features

18 August, 2014 by Don Groves

Kung Fu Style. 


Australia’s Vue Group is completing the VFX work for the Chinese and international versions of two 3D animated features in a co-venture with production company Shanghai Hippo Animation Design.

The linguistic experts at SBS have been hired to ensure the dialogue is idiomatic on the first, Kung Fu Style, and the next step will be engage actors to voice the English-language versions.

“We will most probably use Australians but not all of them are here, so it’s a big job to co-ordinate,” Vue Group MD Alan Lindsay tells IF. He is excited by quality of the 3D animation, describing it as “extremely imaginative.”

Kung Fu Style, a comedy-adventure directed by Kerr Xu, the Shanghai Hippo Animation Design CEO, scripted by Kerr, Gu Xiao and Cao Yingjie, will be released in China on at least 9,000 screens before the end of the year.

The plot follows Kung Fu kid Dodo Lee, who dreams of being a star at Oscar Lei’s movie studio but is stuck as a puppeteer in his never satisfied father’s show. When Dodo encounters superstar Kitty Mo, dreams and reality clash and the pair find themselves in a fight between good and evil orchestrated by the power-crazed Oscar.

Lindsay said spectacular chase sequences occupy about one-third of the film, with train wrecks, cars flying through the air and thugs in gorilla masks.

Farm House II – Perfect Friends, also directed by Kerr Xu, will open in China in early 2015. The sequel to Farm House 81 sees Cluck Norris ruling the roost as a soldier with unique superpowers. Enemy spy Annie infiltrates Farm House 81 to learn the secret of Cluck's power and uses this knowledge to steal the moon's energy and to morph into the monster Anka, who is intent on destroying Farm House 81.

Among the sequences handled by Vue’s VFX team in Bunbury WA were the last 18 minutes of the film, replete with lots of shattering effects and lightning, as an alien with angel wings flies towards the moon.

Lindsay says both projects have already recouped their budgets, helped by worldwide distribution deals, excluding Australia/New Zealand, with a US company which will be unveiled next month.

The producer retained Australian/NZ rights and is negotiating with distributors. Production on a third co-venture with Shanghai Hippo Animation is due to start in eight weeks.

While Lindsay is delighted with the relationship with the Shanghai studio, he is frustrated with the tardy and cumbersome process for approving official Australian-Chinese co-productions and isn’t using that treaty.

“We will have made three films this year,” he says. “The process of getting approval under the treaty can take almost two years for one film, if you are lucky.”

When the co-venture was unveiled at SPA's Screen Forever last year, Kerr told IF the Chinese partners will fund 80% of the projects with the balance from Australia. The total production budget for the three films to be co-produced by the Vue Group and Hippo would exceed $57 million.