Much has been written about the state of the visual effects industry and the difficulties faced by facilities across the world. It doesn't help, of course, when your country is also tackling a five-year-long financial crisis.
Spain has the thirteenth largest economy in the world, and the fifth-largest in the European Union. Despite this, the Spanish economy's recent economic performance has been poor. Between 2008 and 2012 the economic boom of the 2000s was reversed, leaving over a quarter of Spain's workforce unemployed. In 2012, the Spanish economy contracted by 1.4%, and the Spanish economy is still mired by recession. But one Spanish VFX studio is looking to move ahead, diversify and rely on some 'Spanish spirit' to make it in the marketplace.
Madrid-based WEWORK Factory, founded by effects veterans Silvia Hispano and Alfonso Gutiérrez de Terán, provides services in the areas of films, advertising and television. It's hoping to draw on a collective experience of more than 30 features and nearly 1000 commercials, and change the way of working in Spain to remain successful. "We believe that this is a great time to diversify our market, as we can rely on tools used worldwide, and a professional team of artists that are more that qualified to embark on new challenges," says WEWORK visual effects supervisor Gonzalo Moure. "Our profession is globalized daily, and nowadays working remotely is a reality."
Of course, Spain is the birthplace of some of the most innovative companies currently working in the visual effects and post production fields - think Next Limit with RealFlow and Maxwell Render, Solid Angle and its Arnold renderer and SGO and its Mistika systems. "And if we look back further," adds Moure, "going back to the 90’s, Jaleo was one of the first systems of non-linear post-production. This helps underline the capacity of the Spanish market, which is truly extensive, and that could be maximized with easier access to affordable budget for different projects."
So what are some of WEWORK's recent projects? For a Bosch vacuum cleaner spot, WEWORK was called upon to composite in a live tiger to plates of a lab technician using the product. "We had to take into account that we would be in the same set, man and beast working side by side," says Moure. "This is why we came to the conclusion to film by bits in order to not put the actor in danger nor the team. It truly was a thrilling experience, not your everyday shoot in front of a 160kg tiger."
Watch the Bosch spot.
"On top of that," adds Moure, "the different plates that we made in all those frames in which man and tiger appeared together, we had to resolve in advance the extent of the laboratory. We did this with motion control in order to synchronize the movement of the camera with the different plates that they suggested, and we translated that information into our lab in CGI. This work brought a lot of joy to us, as it’s a campaign that was made for more than six European countries."
A more futuristic laboratory setting was required for a commercial for Spanish pharmaceuticals company NORMON. That spot, which was also the first ad NORMON had even created for television, features Wimbledon champion Manolo Santana engaging in a virtual tennis match. "We had to film it all against green, and handle the design, as well as the composition and supervision of the campaign," explains Moure. "We decided to create a 3D set, and film it in order to be able to have previsualisation live, which aided us with the realization of the spot. Then we brought everything to WeWork to finish the exhausting job of extracting from the green, tracking of camera and replacement of elements."See the Normon TVC.
Moure suggests that, historically, Spain has a very close association with filmmaking and, in particular, Hollywood - and that relationship is something WEWORK plans to capitalize on. "If we look back into the cinema world of Hollywood," he says, "it was always related to Spain, from the 50’s onwards. During that time, a great amount of Westerns were shot on Spanish soils, as well as other genres of films. The American industry always trusted Spanish artists, and this is still true for today, nowadays wherever you go, be it New York, London, L.A., Sydney, just to name a few of the cities that are home to the most famous production houses, you will find a Spanish member in their staff."
"This is due to the great versatility of Spanish artists and our great passion for our work," says Moure. "We are people who truly love their work, and who are willing to go above and beyond, we don’t settle for what we know but are always searching to surpass our limits, which has ushered us to win the Fifa World Cup, Roland Garros, etc, in the end the highest level of competition is what we like. It’s a trademark for Spanish spirit."
You can contact WEWORK or see more of their projects via their website: www.weworkfactory.com
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