23. April 2011

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Established in 1994, Universal Production Partners (UPP) is the largest and most versatile visual-effects and post-production house in continental Europe. The Prague-based firm, which employs roughly 130 people, has created visual effects for such renowned directors as Paul W.S. Anderson, Francis Ford Coppola, Roland Emmerich, Anthony Minghella and Tom Tykwer. UPP managing director Vít Komrzý spoke to us about his company's most recent feature project, Season of the Witch (2011). CFC: What did you contribute to Season of the Witch? Vít Komrzý: In total we did around 1000 shots. For the big battle scenes, we did a lot of digital crowd replication. Another big challenge were the scenes with the wolves. Some of the wolves you see in the film are real and some are CGI, so we had to combine them in the same scene and make sure they matched. Another big scene was a sequence with a rope bridge. The model was shot against green screen on set and the rest is CGI composition. How did you get involved in the project? We had met the producer Chuck Roven when we worked on Tom Tykwer's The International. We had worked with Tykwer before on Perfume: The Story of a Murderer. Roven of course did the latest Batman films, so he's a big producer. After working with us in Berlin, he asked us to work on his next project, which was Dominic Sena's Season of the Witch. If people like our work, they usually come and ask again for cooperation. What else have you been working on lately? Last year we did visual effects for Pillars of the Earth, ambitious mini-series produced by Scott Free Productions and Tandem Communications. The producers are already working on another, similar project, also based on a book by Ken Follett. UPP will work on this project, too. Tell us a little about your past work. The first international film we worked on was Anthony Minghella's The Talented Mr. Ripley. We won an Emmy Award for our work on Hallmark Entertainment's mini-series Children of Dune and we were nominated for Emmys for the TNT mini-series The Company and Nightmares & Dreamscapes: From the Stories of Stephen King. We also created visual effects A&E's movie Flight 93, the most-watched program in the U.S. in that network's history. How much do you work with Czech producers? Anything we can do for Hollywood we can do for Czech producers, and it's a pleasure for us. The local market doesn't support many big visual-effects movies, but last year we worked on Jan Svěrák's Kooky, doing more than 600 shots. We worked on nearly all the movies nominated for the Czech academy awards this year. And now that the Czech Republic offers production incentives, we're looking at more and more European co-productions. Are the new incentives bringing you more business? Previously, 95% of the visual effects work we did was on projects that were not shot in the Czech Republic. But the Film Industry Support Programme is definitely a good message, not only for shooting here but for post-production as well. If filmmakers come to Prague to shoot, they can make post-production part of the same package and get the 20% rebate on those costs as well. We can offer them high-level work as good as they'll find in Soho but at prices are more attractive than in London or the U.S.

About UPP UPP offers 2D compositing at HD and SD resolutions, 3D services, digital painting and other services, including digital color correction, dissolves, speed alterations, flips and flops, zooms and repositioning. UPP clients can use TeleCine and dailies projection services and share media across suites with AVID Unity. UPP's Digital Intermediate workflow employs Northlight scanners and ARRI laser recorders and uses the latest grading suites (Baselight and Lustre) and high performance Digital Intermediate system for 2k and 4k system grading.

If you're looking for a post-production partner, or if you want to know how your production can access the Czech rebate, please contact us.