About Shanghai Fortress
Shanghai Fortress is a 2019 Chinese science fiction action film directed by Teng Huatao and stars Lu Han and Shu Qi. Based on Jiang Nan's eponymous 2009 sci-fi novel (also translated as Once Upon a Time in Shanghai), the film depicts the human race's last stand in Shanghai fighting against aliens who try to seize a hidden energy source on earth in 2042.
With The Wandering Earth’s amazing achievement, Shanghai Fortress has inherited the great expectations of Chinese movie fans. The challenge it is facing can be imagined. This is also why it can arouse so much controversy as soon as the cast of the film was released.
It is a great honor for XRender to cooperate with Phenom F ilms to take apart in the Shanghai Fortress and offer rendering services for the film. We were glad to have an interview with the VFX Producer, Hui Zhao, to have a look of the visual effects of the film.
The Phenom Films was founded in 2006 and is a leading full-process film and television production technology company in Asia. Fields like visual effects design, visual effects production, virtual shooting, sound production, full film editing, DIT data management, trailer creation, and empty mirror material agency services are all included. The company is flexible to meet the differentiated needs and the pursuit of rapid innovation of different film and television operators, directors, and producers around the world.
Zhao has been in the film and television industry for 8 years and has extensive project management experience. She has participated in the overall management of many film and television projects and TVC projects all over the world.
XRender: Thank you for accepting the interview, Zhao. Could you tell us the role you play in the Shanghai Fortress?
Zhao: I am the visual effects producer of Shanghai Fortress, mainly responsible for the budget and cycle control of the entire visual effects post-production. Specifically, it includes the docking of creative intentions with the main creative team, domestic and foreign outsourcers' budgets and cycle formulation, etc., in order to ensure that the entire film is completed with high quality within the established cycle.
XRender：Can you give us a brief introduction about the workload of the visual effects part of Shanghai Fortress?
Zhao: There are 1,854 shots in the whole movie, of which 1,551 are visual effects shots.
XRender: Phenom Films has put forward the concept of post-contract system. Can you tell us about it?
Zhao: It is very common in Hollywood, and the Industrial Light & Magic has been doing this for many years. Especially for large visual effects movies (over 1200+ visual effects lenses), the visual effects company must be involved from the early stage of the project. Only in this way can it be ensured that no matter whether it is real shooting or setting, on-site visual effects and viaual effects makeup can be highly overlapped with the plan made in the early stage to ensure the final quality. The biggest advantage of Phenom Films as the contractor is that in addition to visual effects, we also have the entire post-production process of color correction, sound, editing, etc. until DCP is packaged. We are more flexible than post-production companies that only have visual effects.
XRender: Chinese audiences are embracing more and more good movies and high-quality content. What are your expectations for the Chinese science fiction market? As a visual effects producer, what do you want to say to Chinese movie fans?
Zhao: Since the release of Avatar in 2009, science fiction films have been highly developed by the market. After ten years of development, the market has become more mature. In recent years, science fiction movies in China have also entered a period of rapid development. The Wandering Earth detonated themes that were released in early 19th have reached a new high in the box office. As a special effects producer, I am willing to produce this theme and have also experienced technical tests. In addition, it is also an opportunity. China's special effects technology is becoming more and more mature, and has already got rid of “5 mao” special effects. We will also strive to let more users see the strength of Chinese special effects people. Phenom is a strong and veteran project producer. We will continue to explore technology and hope to bring you higher quality science fiction movies in the future.
XRender: How do you feel about cooperating with XRender?
Zhao: The movie involves a large number of CG characters and different kinds of special effect elements, which requires high rendering equipment support. Phenom upgraded its internal farm for this project at the beginning of the year. But even so, there are still a lot of rendering needs, and the internal farm can't meet them all. At that time, I also compared several render farms on the market, but because of the old equipment, there is no way to support Houdini's huge resource calculation and consumption. Only XRender, with flexible scheduling, rapid environment customization and massive resources that expand dynamically, can meet the project’s need. As a domestic professional rendering farm, XRender has undertaken a large number of rendering tasks for Shanghai Fortress. In order to ensure the completion of the film rendering task, XRender also provided the high-speed transmission capability of the dedicated transmission line and the professional team is fully escorted 24/7. Whether it is transmission solutions, rendering resource scheduling, or abnormal task investigation, the delivery of the Shanghai Fortress project is perfectly guaranteed with high quality and efficiency services offered by XRender.
The advanced node configuration and efficient communication of XRender also provided a great help for the timely submission of Shanghai Fortress.