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EUREKA adds magic touch to film industry successes


A number of EUREKA projects in the field of cinema mean Europe is now being acknowledged as a leader in technologies for the film industry.

EUREKA Project E! 1683 Film Special Effects developed a powerful new software package to create realistic special effects for the film industry called ’Key Light’. This software has been used in the making of the Harry Potter series of films, with the latest, Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, having recently been screened to the two-man crew of the International Space Station (ISS). And the award-winning Project E! 3062 DAMAGE developed a software tool to enable the tracking and management of the digital assets involved in producing animated films, enabling the making of Valiant, Europe’s largest-ever animated film.

The E! 1683 Key Light project, involving project participants from the United Kingdom (UK) and Germany, and a budget of 1.1 million euro, developed new software to enable faster and more realistic special effects. Key Light, led by the UK Computer Film Company (now Framestore CFC) has already been used very successfully in films such as Tomb Raider, Notting Hill, The Beach and Mission Impossible 2. It also generated some of the groundbreaking effects in the televised BBC series Walking With Dinosaurs and has been used in the making of the Harry Potter series and the more recent James Bond films.

Opening new doors

Peter Stansfield, the project coordinator, says that
"EUREKA gave the companies involved a trustworthy environment in which to share ideas, plus the credibility and networking to attract the necessary expertise to achieve the project’s Research and Development (R&D) goals. If truth be told, it opened the door to a wide range of highly specialised technical expertise."

The fact that the project partners were working together in a EUREKA project gave them a very safe structure in which to operate. A main end result was a change in Framestore CFC’s business model, switching from a service bureau to a software supplier, selling Key Light to special effects companies around the world.

EUREKA success continues

Another EUREKA project, E! 3062 DAMAGE has been awarded the ’Vision’ Innovation award by IBM, for developing a software tool to track and manage all the digital assets, such as sound, illustrations, backgrounds colour schemes and special effects necessary for the production of computer-generated imaging (CGI) animated films. Ealing Studios in the UK led the DAMAGE project, also involving participants from a Belgian university. DAMAGE enabled the making of Valiant, Europe’s largest ever animated feature film. Screened in around 3,000 cinemas (approximately 10% of the world’s cinema screens), some eight million people around the world have seen this film. According to Stansfield, DAMAGE enabled the film to be made in Europe at a significantly lower cost and significantly faster than if it had been made in the USA.

"Most of us associate movies and Hollywood and Hollywood and movies. It’s something we hear time and time again. What most people don’t realise is the amount of European resources or European effort that goes into the so-called Hollywood movies."

This small selection from the projects supported by the EUREKA Initiative has enabled those involved to benefit from the extremely talented pool of technical and animation expertise in Europe, and has opened up a whole new global market for the European film industry. As maintained by Peter Stansfield, "Europe’s film industry is continuing to take the world by storm!"

Catherine Shiels | alfa
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