Yan­nix Thai­land - Keep­ing Hol­ly­wood VFX on Track

Yan­nix Thai­land pro­vides engi­neer­ing- based visual ef­fects prep ser­vices to main­stream Hol­ly­wood film and tele­vi­sion pro­jects in­clud­ing over 200 mo­tion pic­tures such as Life of Pi, Hugo, Argo, Sui­cide Squad, Alice in Won­der­land, Guardians of the Galaxy, D

Thai-American Business (T-AB) Magazine - - Contents - Writ­ten by: Xye

Not ev­ery­one has “cin­ema ap­pre­ci­a­tion” classes in their ju­nior high school. But grow­ing up in Los An­ge­les, I took ad­van­tage of the op­por­tu­ni­ties I had. While I en­joyed the classes, I had no idea I would end up in the movie busi­ness. Be­ing more of a math and science guy, I al­ways knew I would do some­thing more tech­nol­ogy- re­lated. Back then, I never re­al­ized how heav­ily the movie busi­ness re­lies on tech­nol­ogy, math and science.

Now, hav­ing spent more than twenty years in the Hol­ly­wood visual ef­fects ( VFX) busi­ness, I’ve been fo­cused on math and science through­out my ca­reer. Hol­ly­wood is full of tal­ented artists and th­ese artists are sup­ported by some very tal­ented engi­neers who build the tools that the artists use. While VFX films re­quire amaz­ing artistry, the foun­da­tions that make it all work are built with math and science.

In the 1990s, an in­ter­est­ing prob­lem con­fronting film­mak­ers was how to in­sert com­puter gen­er­ated ( CG) el­e­ments into live ac­tion footage and make it look like the CG was filmed as part of the “real” world from the be­gin­ning. In or­der to do this, the CG ob­ject must be “filmed” with a vir­tual cam­era that is iden­ti­cal to the real cam­era in ev­ery way pos­si­ble. This in­volves a process called “match­mov­ing”, which back then was a painstaking process where an artist would go through the shot frame- by- frame and move a vir­tual CG cam­era around in a vir­tual CG en­vi­ron­ment and try to match ev­ery­thing to the live- ac­tion plates.

This re­quired not only match­ing the 3D mo­tion of the real cam­era on ev- ery frame, but the 3D ro­ta­tion of the cam­era too, in ad­di­tion to other lens prop­er­ties like zoom and dis­tor­tion. In ad­di­tion, many shots re­quire a model of the en­vi­ron­ment to be built si­mul­ta­ne­ously. Of­ten, th­ese mod­els need to be built without any ref­er­ence information other than what is avail­able in the shots them­selves. The level of precision is so in­tri­cate that a slip of even a frac­tion of a pixel can ruin the over­all ef­fect.

Back in the mid- 1990s, I de­vel­oped a com­puter vi­sion sys­tem that would dig­i­tally an­a­lyze shots frame- by- frame to de­ter­mine how ob­jects were mov­ing in­side the images. The sys­tem needed to re­con­struct where ob­jects had been and repli­cate ex­actly how the cam­era had moved and ro­tated to have pro­duced the real images. Once the vir­tual world was cre­ated to ex­actly match the real world, then CG ob­jects could be “ren­dered” in­side this vir­tual world and placed onto the real images to look like the CG had been there all along. This is just one of a grow­ing trend of tech­nolo­gies in the movie in­dus­try whereby ad­vanced tech­nolo­gies can be used to ex­tend the abil­i­ties of an artist to achieve ever more so­phis­ti­cated ef­fects.

As Yan­nix has grown its busi­ness in Thai­land, we not only hire engi­neers and sci­en­tists to con­tinue to ad­vance the tools and tech­nolo­gies that th­ese match­mov­ing ser­vices are based on, we have also made a con­scious de­ci­sion to hire engi­neers and sci­en­tists as the op­er­a­tors who per­form the bulk of th­ese ser­vices.

Given our ap­proach, we have found our­selves in a great busi­ness po­si­tion. Rather than of­fer­ing the same VFX ser­vices that our global clients see as their own spe­cialty, Yan­nix pro­vides an engi­neer­ing ser­vice that nat­u­rally com­ple­ments our clients’ artis­tic ex­per­tise. By let­ting Yan­nix han­dle the tech­ni­cal minu­tiae our clients can fo­cus on creat-

ing the amaz­ing ef­fects that they were hired to do.

In re­cent years, Yan­nix has ex­tended its match­mov­ing ser­vices to per­form the more sub­tle tech­ni­cal ef­fects that, while nec­es­sary, of­ten go un­no­ticed in block­buster Hol­ly­wood films.

While most VFX com­pa­nies es­tab­lish their rep­u­ta­tion on the mar­quis ef­fects like CG di­nosaurs, elab­o­rate ex­plod­ing space­ships, and mag­i­cal crea­tures, we are fo­cused on the “bread- and- but­ter” ef­fects that seam­lessly change the movie set into a fic­tional world.

Th­ese can in­clude re­mov­ing bill­boards or road signs in pe­riod dra­mas for his­tor­i­cal ac­cu­racy, adding moun­tains in the dis­tance to make one air­port ap­pear to be in a dif­fer­ent city, or adding dig­i­tal fog and rain to en­hance an out­door scene.

By hir­ing Thai- based dig­i­tal artists to work in tan­dem with our engi­neers, Yan­nix is able to take on many of th­ese more “engi­neer­ing based” ef­fects shots so our clients can fo­cus their at­ten­tions on cre­at­ing the jaw drop­ping ex­pe­ri­ences au­di­ences have come to ex­pect from modern Hol­ly­wood block­busters.

And as we have grown as a com­pany to a staff of over 250 peo­ple, we have de­vel­oped tech­nolo­gies for busi­ness man­age­ment that go well be­yond our VFX ser­vices. We have de­vel­oped a “cor­po­rate op­er­at­ing sys­tem” that com­bines all as­pects of our busi­ness into an in­te­grated work­flow.

By in­te­grat­ing data from timesheets, per­for­mance re­views, re­source man­age­ment, cost anal­y­sis, dif­fer­ent re­cruit­ing op­tions and more, the kinds of tech­nol­ogy ap­plied to track­ing mo­tion anal­y­sis in shots can also be re­tooled to track costs and per­for­mance of ser­vices pro­vided across the or­ga­ni­za­tion.

As Yan­nix ( Thai­land) Co. Ltd., en­ters its twelfth year, it is in­ter­est­ing to think back about how we got here. We’ve come a long way from the days when film­mak­ers were told they couldn’t move the cam­era be­cause it would make the CG too dif­fi­cult. Math and science have played a huge role in the de­vel­op­ment of Yan­nix, but I can’t help but won­der what I’d be do­ing now if it weren’t for those cin­ema ap­pre­ci­a­tion classes.

Yan­nix Founder and Man­ag­ing Di­rec­tor, Xye

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