Rhythm & Hues Studios is one of the world's leading producers of computer-generated animation and visual effects for movies and advertising. They have been around for over 25 years and have developed their own proprietary software for both photo-real and stylized character animation and visual effects. This year alone, the studio's "Life of Pi" and "Snow White & the Huntsman" have each been nominated an Oscar for Achievement in Visual Effects.
But after "Life of Pi" won a Bafta award for Best Special Visual Effects on Sunday, Rhythm and Hues Studios filed for Chapter 11 protection on Monday. As Kurt Vonnegut loved to say in a situation like this, "So it goes."
"File this under the headline of 'it's a tough business,'" Eric Roth, executive director of the Visual Effects Society, told TheWrap. It must be if the studio responsible for the VFX for most of the "Lord of the Rings" and "X-Men" movies is in trouble. A couple of suspected culprits are low margins and studios chasing after tax incentives or "film production credit packages" outside Los Angeles.
An undisclosed number of staff were let go yesterday while the remaining employees stay on board to finish projects like "300: Battle of Artemisia" that were already in the pipeline.
"Rhythm & Hues was a company that was pretty well run, that treated its employees well, that understood the global marketplace, that took advantage of tax incentives and still encountered problems," claims Eric Roth. "When a company this prominent has something like this happen, you're seeing the results of a business that really needs to find fresh ways to modernize."