H.K. Centro promotes 3-D facilities

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HONG KONG – Leading local digital effects and animation studio Centro Digital Pictures is introducing stereoscopic 3-D filming and post-production and conversion services, founder and CEO John Chu said Wednesday.

Instrumental in the making of Disney’s first made-in-China picture, “The Secret of the Magic Gourd,” Centro is the first effects house to develop these technologies in Hong Kong.

Over the last year, Centro has invested HKD$15.5 million (US$2 million) at its 20,000 square-foot Hong Kong Cyberport headquarters to install Quantel 4K 3-D Tablo post-production equipment and a 3,000 square-foot theatre with 3-D screening capabilities.

“2009 will be the year of the stereoscopic 3-D films,” Chu, who founded Centro in 1987, told The Hollywood Reporter. “Cinemas are being converted in the 1,000s around the world, there’s a demand for content. This is the perfect time to produce stereoscopic films of our own in Asia.”

The studio expects to begin production stereoscopic films this year and Chu said Centro is in talks with an international studio and a Chinese partner about making a proposed US $12.5 million live-action 3-D historical epic.

To attract Hollywood studios with expanded services and cost savings, a core team of four specialists trained for a year in 3-D filming and effects techniques and now are passing on their skills to Centro’s staff of 150 people.

“As in the case in Centro’s visual effects work on ‘Kill Bill,’ which was shot in China, our proximity to the location was an advantage to the production,” Chu said.

Chu also intends to produce 3-D concert films in Hong Kong, China and around Asia, citing as his motivation the $63 million gross of “Hannah Montana and Miley Cyrus: Best of Both Worlds Concert.”

Hong Kong currently has five theatres with stereoscopic screening facilities.

Centro also is in talks with local and Chinese filmmakers and exhibitors on future 3-D projects and conversion to digital 3-D exhibition.

Since its start, Centro has invested more than US$30 million in its expansion and was responsible for visual effects in the 1998 comic adaptation “Storm Riders,” as well as the award-winning effects work in Stephen Chow’s “Shaolin Soccer” and “Kung Fu Hustle.”

In 2007, Centro produced the effects in Disney’s first China co-production with the China Film Group, “Secret of the Magic Gourd.”
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