Dec. 20 - Asia takes a starring role in the animation and visual effects industry as the region’s talent develops and film studios look to distribute production for a 24-hour work flow. Lisa Yuriko Thomas reports.
PLEASE NOTE: THIS EDIT CONTAINS CONVERTED 4:3 MATERIAL Puss in Boots and Pirates of the Caribbean: two spectacular Hollywood blockbusters. But here's a plot twist you may not know. Some of the slick animation and stunning visual effects were made in Asia. The region has already got a reputation for cheap animation and Bollywood song and dance. Now it's grabbing a bigger spotlight, both in Hollywood and around the world. Asia's movie ambitions were firmly on display at Siggraph Asia - the region's largest computer graphics event. From the whacky to the imaginative - Thousands of artists and developers came to show off their wares. ACM Siggraph's Vice president and Academy award winner Paul Debevec is not surprised by Asia's growing clout. (SOUNDBITE) (English) ACM SIGGRAPH VICE PRESIDENT, PAUL DEBEVEC, SAYING: "We're starting to see some of the best work done over here in places near Hong Kong and the other places where Siggraph Asia is making its home." That talent is a big draw for American studios, under pressure to do more with less. To them, a presence in Asia offers the ability to work on a film over a nearly 24-hour work day. But the region offers more than that, says Mohen Leo. He works in Singapore as a studio visual effects supervisor at Industrial light and Magic - a division of Lucasfilm. (SOUNDBITE) (English) INDUSTRIAL LIGHT AND MAGIC STUDIO VISUAL EFFECTS SUPERVISOR, MOHEN LEO, SAYING: "We're not just benefiting from the expertise in San Francisco, but now actually ideas and techniques are starting to flow back from Singapore to San Francisco". Cutting-edge animation and special effects are also in demand right here in Asia. Hollywood films have always been popular. But increasingly, local films are also drawing a crowd. The region's film market is expected to hit 29 billion dollars in just four years, says PricewaterhouseCooopers. For studios, that could be a game-changer, with more blockbusters out of Asia for Asia, says Eddie Wong from Hong Kong computer graphics production firm Menfond. (SOUNDBITE) (English) MENFOND ELECTRONIC ART & COMPUTER DESIGN CO. FOUNDER, EDDIE WONG, SAYING: "If one day this happens, that will be a new era, a new environment for the movie business." In readiness, specialised film production companies are multiplying. China alone reportedly has over ten thousand specialist studios. And it's not just China. In the works: a sequel to South Korea's "The Host", an award-winning monster movie. And from the makers of the Oscar winner "Spirited Away", their latest film coming to U.S. theaters soon: "The Secret World of Arrietty". So from animation to special effects to entire movies, Asian film talent is increasingly in demand. So sit back, relax and switch on to the future. Lisa Yuriko Thomas, Reuters.