To much of the world, I suppose, the big news out of China last week was the announcement that Beijing has been awarded the 2022 Winter Olympics, a first in that no other city has ever hosted both winter and summer games. A significant milestone, to be sure. But the really big news out of China last week – okay, from my admittedly narrower perspective – was the official launching of Cinefex China.
A little over a year ago, I was approached by Jooick Lee, a film producer and senior executive at Dexter Studios, the largest, and arguably foremost, visual effects studio in Asia, with facilities in both Korea and China. Over lunch at a Korean restaurant in Los Angeles, he explained that Dexter Studios wished to secure a licensing agreement to publish Korean and Chinese editions of Cinefex. Interest in visual effects was on the rise among Asian filmgoers – especially in China, the fastest-growing film market in the world – and, perhaps more importantly, Dexter felt that artists in Asia’s burgeoning effects community would be well-served by a publication designed to help them keep abreast of techniques and technologies used elsewhere in the world.
This was not the first time we had been approached with such a proposal. A Japanese edition of Cinefex has been published by a succession of companies for nearly 30 of our 35 years. And for shorter stretches of time, with less success, we had licensed editions in France, Italy and Russia.
With a deal in place to produce both Korean and Chinese editions, the Dexter publishing team decided to focus first on China. We provided them with articles and imagery for Cinefex 142, which would form the basis of the first Cinefex China edition. They translated the articles to exacting standards and designed the publication, using a vertical page format they felt was better suited to the Chinese market than the horizontal format we employ in the U.S. edition.
The end result is a strikingly beautiful premiere issue – 186 pages of text and photos that does us all proud.
Last Wednesday, Cinefex China was introduced to the public at a launch ceremony conducted at the Dexter Studios facility in Beijing. I was honored to be in attendance. Posters lined the walkway and a billboard-size screen bearing the Cinefex logo and an array of cover images became a signing board for the principals involved. It was like a Hollywood premiere – without the stars.
Inside the facility, we were treated to a show reel produced by Dexter Studios which featured, among other things, some remarkable footage of an all-CG gorilla baseball player and a rampaging Bengal tiger that, to my eye, compared most favorably with similar creations produced in the West.
An audience of about 200 – many of them artists in the Chinese visual effects community – bore witness to the launch ceremony, which was highlighted by a panel discussion on visual effects, in and out of China. Panelists included Oscar-winning visual effects supervisor John Bruno, distinguished director and producer Jacob Cheung, and me. Jooick Lee moderated the panel, which was translated in real-time, deftly switching back and forth between American and Chinese speakers. It was a gala event, warmly received.
Welcome aboard, Cinefex China. We wish you every success.