VFX House Hydraulx Aims to Expand Business Model With Production Services

Later this summer, the unit will support production of "Beyond Skyline," which — like the original — will be financed by Hydraulx.
Coutesy of Hydraulx
Greg Strause, John Duke DuQuesnay

Visual effects house Hydraulx started to expand its business model earlier this year with a production stage and camera equipment rental unit under its Hydraulx Filmz brand, which was initially used to shoot green screen elements for Gareth Edwards’ Godzilla.

Now they are working to get the new unit off the ground, as what Hydraulx owner/founder Greg Strause (pictured above, left) calls a "one-stop shop" for any production.

Based in L.A.'s Playa Vista, the Hydraulx Filmz unit is part of the company’s VFX facility, whose work includes contributions to features such as The Curious Case of Benjamin Button, The Social Network and X-Men: Days of Future Past. The stage and rental division include roughly 22,000 square feet of usable soundstage space, a 60' x 30' green screen and a camera and lens rental department.

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Asked about the business model for the venture, Strause acknowledged the changes in the production industry, particularly for visual effects, driven by “artificial marketing pressures [production incentives] that are causing a displacement of jobs out of California." He wants to change the model by bringing more under one roof.

The rental business includes nine Red Epic Dragon 6K cameras, four 3Ality Technica 3D camera rigs with matching lenses, and a QTake video assist system. The unit, under the direction of operations manager John “Duke” DuQuesnay [above, right], also is working to create efficiencies.

"[Hydraulx clients] rent gear from lots of different vendors, and my primary complaint as a director is sometimes there’s no integration from one vendor to another," Strause said. "Only by owning the equipment could we work with manufacturers to address the problems."

As an example, Strause pointed out that because digital cinematography has resulted in productions shooting more footage — resulting in “creative headaches for editorial departments” — Hydraulx is working on a new tagging system with manufacturer Boxx that involves passing metadata from the Red camera to QTake video assist.

Later this summer, the unit will be used for production of Beyond Skyline , a sequel to Skyline, which will again be financed by Hydraulx. The first film was acquired by Relativity.

Hydraulx also includes a digital projection theater for color grading and dailies. Brothers Greg and Colin Strause founded Hydraulx in 2002; they also continue to direct.