|Industry||Visual effects, CGI animation|
|Founded||November 1, 1987|
|Headquarters||Los Angeles, California, United States|
Number of locations
|United States, India, Canada|
Rhythm & Hues Studios is an American visual effects and animation company that received the Academy Award for Best Visual Effects in 1995 for Babe, in 2008 for The Golden Compass, and in 2013 for Life of Pi. It has also received four Scientific and Technical Academy Awards.
Rhythm & Hues Studios was established in Los Angeles, California in 1987 by former employees of Robert Abel and Associates (John Hughes, Pauline Ts'o, Keith Goldfarb, Cliff Boule, Frank Wuts and Charles Gibson). The company uses its own proprietary software for its photo-realistic character animation/visual effects--as well as for those that are more stylized.
By 2012, the company had become a global one, with offices and artists in India (the Mumbai suburb of Malad and HITEC City which is a part of Hyderabad), Malaysia (Cyberjaya just outside Kuala Lumpur), Canada (Vancouver), and Taiwan (Kaohsiung).
Director Ang Lee approached Rhythm & Hues in August 2009 to discuss a planned film adaptation of the fantasy novel Life of Pi. R&H VFX (Visual Effects) Supervisor Bill Westenhofer noted that Lee "knew we had done the lion in the first Narnia movie. He asked, 'Does a digital character look more or less real in 3D?' We looked at each other and thought that was a pretty good question." He also stated that during these meetings, Lee said, "'I look forward to making art with you.' This was really for me one of the most rewarding things I've worked on and the first chance to really combine art with VFX. Every shot was artistic exploration, to make the ocean a character and make it interesting we had to strive to make it as visually stunning as possible."
Rhythm & Hues spent a year on research and development, "building upon its already vast knowledge of CG animation" to develop the tiger. Artist Abdul Rahman in the Malaysian branch underscored the global nature of the effects process, saying that "the special thing about Life of Pi is that it was the first time we did something called remote rendering, where we engaged our cloud infrastructure in Taiwan called CAVE (Cloud Animation and Visual Effects)".
The resulting film, Life of Pi, was released in theaters in November 2012, and was a critical and commercial success. The British Film Institute's Sight & Sound magazine suggested that, "Life of Pi can be seen as the film Rhythm & Hues has been building up to all these years, by taking things they learned from each production from Cats & Dogs to Yogi Bear, integrating their animals in different situations and environments, pushing them to do more, and understanding how all of this can succeed both visually and dramatically."
On February 11, 2013, Rhythm & Hues Studios filed for bankruptcy under Chapter 11, three months after Life of Pi was released. Around 254 people were laid off at that time. This led to a demonstration of nearly 500 VFX artists who protested outside of the 2013 Academy Awards, as Rhythm & Hues was nominated for an Oscar (which it won) for Life of Pi. Inside, during the Oscars, when R&H visual effects supervisor Bill Westenhofer brought up R&H during his acceptance speech for Life of Pi, the microphone was cut off as the music of Jaws slowly took over. This started an uproar among many visual effects industry professionals, changing profile pictures on social media such as Facebook and Twitter to show the green key color, in order to raise awareness of general negative trends in the effects industry. In addition, director Ang Lee was heavily criticized by the community for not acknowledging their work in the effects-laden film in his acceptance speech, despite thanking many other people, and for earlier having complained about the costs of visual effects.