Mary Poppins Mary Poppins

The Third Floor (TTF), a vfx heavyweight that specializes in pre-visualization (previs), has opened a new outpost in Beijing — its first in China.

The studio will cater to the fast-growing Chinese movie industry.

Here are the details:

  • The Beijing studio, which joins TTF’s main offices in L.A. and London, will focus on local projects, reports Variety. It is led by Maggie Lu, an executive formerly at Dalian Wanda and Dalian Haichang with experience in the theme park industry.
  • Lu currently leads a team of around 20: “The coronavirus pandemic will influence the speed of our team-building,” she told Variety, “but right now we’re starting with 20. We also have a strong talent pool ready.” Joker Huang has been hired as creative director and Martin Ma as visualization supervisor.
  • Previs is the stage of pre-production that creates a detailed visual blueprint for the project. It has grown in importance as digital tools have evolved and blockbuster films and series, increasingly reliant on vfx, have become visually more complex. Yet, relative to Hollywood, it remains little used in China.
  • In 2018, China Film Insider reported on the teething problems with the country’s adoption of previs. It notes that the practice evolved organically in Hollywood to meet the filmmakers’ needs, whereas “Chinese directors have suddenly found it thrust upon them.”
  • This is what TTF aims to change. It says that Ma will focus on “applying The Third Floor’s virtual tools and workflows [to] the traditional process of Chinese filmmaking.” For now, the office is working on a few projects, mostly from clients “who already understand their work and know what they’re looking for,” according to Variety.
  • TTF has worked with China remotely in the past, designing live-action sequences for director Zhang Yimou and animation scenes for the L.O.R.D: Legend of Ravaging Dynasties franchise, and also contributing to last year’s animated mega-hit Ne Zha. The studio’s Hollywood credits include Game of Thrones, Avengers: Endgame, Venom, Bumblebee, and Gravity.
  • The studio will also seek to take advantage of the coronavirus crisis, which is imposing stringent safety measures on live-action shoots. Previs can help minimize travel and close contact on set. As Lu said, “The services we provide can reduce people gathering together, helping directors and teams build their work in-house.”

(Image at top: TTF’s previs and final shot comparison on “Mary Poppins Returns.”)

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Alex Dudok de Wit

Alex Dudok de Wit

Alex Dudok de Wit is Associate Editor of Cartoon Brew.

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