Ellen Xu Ling

"Computer Graphic is still considered new technology in animation in China"

Studio Director, IDMT, China
2d3d asia reporter, March 8, 2006
When was your company created ?
  GDC Holdings, headquartered in Hong Kong, is a public listed company. Under GDC umbrella, there are IDMT Shenzhen, IDMT Shanghai, GDC Tech, etc. GDC Tech is specialized in digital cinema system. IDMT (Institute of Digital Media Technology) in Shenzhen was established in the year 2000. There are over 200 CG artists in production. IDMT Shanghai was set up in August, 2003. There are over 50 employees at present. CG production started at IDMT in the year 2001 when we started the production of the feature animated film Thru the Moebius Strip. We mainly use Maya and Shake in our production of film and TV series and sometimes use 3D Max for game. We are basically a Maya production house.

"What we learned most on Moebius film is production should not start without good pre-production"
How did you organized the production of Thru the Moebius strip ?
  The pre-production of this CG feature animated film started in 2000 and production started in 2002. The first version of the film was completed in spring of 2004. And then the film was re-patched and finally finished in fall of 2005. The total budget of this film is 20 million US dollars. About 300 artists have worked on this project. We used Maya, Shake, Final Cut Pro in production. For the movie as well as the following project, we established the production management database system which has been achieving the international advanced level. The directors validate dailies every day. They go to every group leader’s position to validate.
Did you developed special tools ?
  We also developed our own plug-in on Maya to achieve certain look, such as crow animation, black line over character models, etc. We have done over 176 characters, 461 sets for backgrounds and 242 props. We have done scultures for the main characters, and a couple of the background set ups. They are mainly for reference and marketing. We digitalized some of them. We animated all the characters by doing key-frames. We have never used motion capture. But we wrote our own plug-ins to achieve certain unique looks, especially crowds and facial animation. For the rendering, we truly avoided some costly algorithms, like Global Illumination. In IDMT, procedural textures are available. We didn’t use any real elements of sky, fire, water…
Are you satisfied with the result ?
  We are satisfied with plug-in units and tools we developed during the project. Consistant change of direction in production made things difficult for the crew to follow. Two battle scenes and chasing scenes are the most diffult scenes. We are proud that we did it and did it well. We learned so much from this project such as technology, art, management etc. Different projects, different challenge. What we learned most is production should not start without good pre-production.
How do you find skilled people in China ?
  CG is still considered new technology in animation in China although small CG studios appeared in China in 1995, doing shorts but these studios were not industrialized until 2000. Therefore, there are no prestigious universities for CG in China. Our CG training center is one of the best professional training program in China. It is not for degree training. 95 percent of our CG artists were trained by IDMT CG Training.
Do you have other projects currently in production ?
  We are working on 3D animated TV series right now. Another 3D feature film is in planning. This time, it will be a Chinese story. We expect to be in the leading position of CG animation in China and produce more good CG films and TV series for not only domestic but also international audience by cooperate with partners all over the world. We worked with a few European artists and they are very good and professional. We also worked with a few European companies, such as game companies, and a producing company. It is pity that the cooperation with the producing company wasn’t good. It was for TV series of Panshel.
On the web
  • GDC (in english)
  • China Hurries to Animate Its Film Industry (in english)
  • Thru The Moebius Strip (in french)

  • Ode to summer

    Cool Ice penguins

    Thru the Moebius strip
    (c) graphics8.nytimes.com/im