This article contains content that is written like an advertisement. (November 2019)
|Founded||17 December 1985|
|Headquarters||United Kingdom, United States, Canada|
|Parent||Cultural Investment Holdings|
Framestore Limited(The) is a British animation and visual effects studio based in Chancery Lane in London. Formed in 1986, it acquired and subsequently merged with the Computer Film Company in 1997. Framestore specialises in effects for film, television, video games, and other media. It is the largest production house within Europe, employing roughly 2500 staff — 1000 in London, and 1500 across offices in Chicago, New York, Los Angeles, Montreal, Vancouver, Mumbai and Beijing.
Framestore was founded in 1986 by husband and (then) wife William Sargent and Sharon Reed, together with three friends. Tim Webber joined Framestore in 1988 and led the company's push into digital film and television, developing Framestore's virtual camera and motion rig systems. In 1992, Mike Milne started the CGI department, adding computer-generated animation to the company's range of facilities.
Merger with CFC
In 1997, Framestore acquired the Computer Film Company, which was one of the UK's first digital film special effects companies, developing technology for digital film scanning, compositing, and output. CFC was founded in London in 1984 by Mike Boudry, Wolfgang Lempp (now CTO at Filmlight) and Neil Harris (Lightworks). CFC's first film was The Fruit Machine, in 1988, which utilised early morphing techniques.
In 2004, Framestore opened their first satellite office in New York City, to focus on advertising. This was followed by another office in Iceland in 2008, which has since been closed and has reopened as a local VFX company, RVX. In 2013 Framestore opened an office in Montreal, followed by another in Los Angeles the same year. In 2014, it launched a production arm.
Early projects for the company include the delivery of its first feature animation project The Tale of Despereaux with Universal; the completion of Europe's first digital intermediate for the film Chicken Run in 2000; contribution of scenes for the 2009 film Avatar, and the completion as a production project of four British feature films which opened in theatres between during 2009 and 2010.
Acquisition by CIH
In November 2016, Framestore agreed to let the Shanghai-based Cultural Investment Holdings Co acquire 75% of it for £112.50 million. The company worked on projects such as Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them, Beauty and the Beast, and Paddington 2. In April 2017, Framestore opened a third US location, in Chicago, Illinois.
The company also worked on the 2017 film Darkest Hour directed by Joe Wright, working out of the Montreal facility of Framestore to create historically accurate backdrops for 85 shots in the film, including battle scenes.
The team created around 300 shots for the 2017 film Blade Runner 2049, with Framestore winning a special visual effects award at the 2018 British Academy Film Awards. They have also worked on Black Mirror, creating props such as the 60s-style spaceship in the premiere of the fourth season.
Framestore has been awarded two Scientific and Technical Academy Awards, and 14 Primetime Emmys. In 2008, Framestore won their first Oscar for Best Visual Effects for the film The Golden Compass; they also won the BAFTA Award for that film the same year. Framestore was also nominated for Oscars in 2009 (The Dark Knight) and again in 2010 (Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows – Part 1).
Tim Webber was the VFX supervisor on Gravity (2013), and the techniques involved in the film realised by Webber and the Framestore team took three years to complete. The team won the best visual effects awards BAFTA Award for Best Special Visual Effects at the 67th British Academy Film Awards, and the Academy Award for Best Visual Effects award at the 86th Academy Awards.
The company's R&D team spun off to create the technology company Filmlight, which in 2010 received four Scientific Academy Awards.
Advertising and trade characters
Framestore has collaborated with companies and advertising agencies to create trade characters, and also created an attempted photorealistic computer-generated Audrey Hepburn for a Galaxy chocolate advert. A combination of elements including body doubles, motion capture, FACS and rendering software called Arnold were used to mimic the appearance of the actress 20 years after her death. The advert drew press attention both for the cutting-edge technology utilized and the ethical implications of using a person's likeness posthumously for commercial purposes.
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