Guangzhou Yi-Animation Communication Co., Ltd.: an innovative and exploratory boutique animation film company
Guangzhou Yi-Animation Communication Co., Ltd.: an innovative and exploratory boutique animation film company
“I’m What I am” is realistic animated comedy film by Sun Haipeng, produced by Zhang Miao and co-produced by Beijing Cheering Times Culture & Culture & Entertainment,Guangzhou Yi-Animation Communication Co., Ltd,. Mokexing Film And Beijing Hualu Baina Film&Tv Inc. The story mainly tells about a left-behind teenager Ajuan was encouraged by a fellow girl of the same name which he met with due to a coincidence, so he made up his mind to break the shackles of actual combat with his friends Amao and Agou Lions. The film was released nationwide on December 17th. On its premier screening earlier this month, the film achieved consistent high critical reviews and was scored point of 8.3 in Douban.
Today， Mr. Cheng Haipeng from Yi-Animation will talk about the story behind-the-scenes.
As a professional animation company, and has been deeply involved in China’s animation industry for so many years, could you give us an insight into the company’s history?
The company was founded in 2013, and it has been 8 years now. During 2013~2015, we mainly produced two children’s TV animations “Kungfu Food” and “NeoBear”. In 2014, it signed memorandums of cooperation with two Hollywood companies of Twentieth Century Fox and Sony Columbia to develop films. From the third year of the company’s establishment, it transited to film production. But the first work is not particularly mature. Because of the cooperation with Hollywood, we have hesitated in facing the domestic or international market. We plan to position in both market.
The movie “Kungfu Food” scored above 8 on both Douban and Maoyan, but due to the influence of Disney’s acquisition of Fox, its overseas distribution was not smooth. Two years later, that is in 2018, the film first released, and the result was not satisfactory. Although it was release during the National Day schedule in 2019, but the row piece rate is not ideal for it’s the second round of release.
In 2019, together with Beijing Cheering Times Culture & Entertainment, we planned the animated film “I’m What I am”, and completed the production in two years. At present, the film has been screened in several rounds, and won good reputation. Douban scores 8.3, Maoyan scores 9.5, and Weibo big V recommendation rate reaches 95%, ranking first in domestic film recommendation of the year, second in domestic film history, and the sixth place in global films, has been recognized by film critics and movie audiences. We feel that the audience is very inclusive to the domestic animation.
If you were to sum up the personality and company culture of working at Yi-Animation, what would it be?
“New National Tide”! We all know that Eats in Guangzhou, Shunde’s gourmet food is the best in the world, so we produced “Kungfu Food“; “I’m What I am” describes the culture of Foshan. Our company is in Guangzhou, and we hope to produce the movies that are close to the current young people, and tell the traditional classic culture with young people’s language. During the our discussion of the topic selection with the producer, we talked about culture. Our key word was “New National Tide”. This is what we will emphasize in all the works we developed in the past. Whether it is gourmet food or lion dance, it is a particularly classic “national tide”. With new technologies, new ideas, and a context close to the current young people, a new interpretation and deduction of traditional classic culture.
There is also the term “Juvenile Spirit”, which is the same as ” New National Tide”, which is the purpose of our production and the core expression of the work.
“I’m What I am” is with the Cantonese culture. Where did you borrow inspiration from? Was it related to your personal experience?
Director Sun Haipeng and I are both new Guangzhou natives. We have lived in Guangzhou for more than ten years. We feel that only if the story close to the life, could it move the audience and gain recognition. Many of the topics selected by Director Sun are derived from his personal experience. For example, the Guangdong cuisine, as well as in opening celebrations, lion dances can be seen everywhere. Nanshi(Lion Dance in Southern China) is a unique culture of Foshan, which is very close to our lives.
Were there any particular challenges within the production that you and your team had to overcome? Or any particular highlights?
The most feedback from the audience is that it looks more like a live action movie. The scenes, environment, lion hair, tassels of lion dance costumes, etc. are all very difficult to produce. Biological characteristics simulation has always been a difficult in animation production. How to achieve vividness and “deceive” the eyes of the audience is very challenging. We have made a breakthrough this in the movie, including its light and shadow, natural vegetation, plants, especially the kapok that is found in South of the Five Ridges,as well as the sunset, blue sky and white clouds, natural scenery, which is very delicate and beautiful. These all come from careful observation and sampling of life.
After watching the movie, the audience from local Guangzhou felt that the environments of Liwan Lake Park, Aquatic Products Building and other landmark buildings, including the environment of the Zhujiang New Town under construction in 2005, as well as Huanshi Road, viaducts, Haizhu Notary Office, and subway stations, are all like photo shooting . In fact, we did almost 1:1 reduction. There are also rural scenes. The posters and graffiti on the walls are very detailed. All these make the audience believe that the story we tell is actually happening around us… After watching the movie, many audiences forget that this is an animation. We use technology to break the boundary between animated movies and real movies.
It takes a large amount of assets to achieve this effect. During the peak production, the render farm provides 4,000X52-core, which is equivalent to 200,000 CPUs in computing. The core database assets are 140T. Under normal circumstances, the average asset volume of an animated movie is about 30T~40T, and our movie is equivalent to the asset volume of 3~4 animated movies. The data capacity and lens complexity are unprecedented. When we transmitted remotely to Ruiyun Farm and Tencent Farm, we used 3 optical fibers, and it took 5 days and 5 nights to complete the data synchronization. The amount of data is huge. The core equipment of the rendering farm was scrapped. This is rare.
There is a scene where the hero dances a lion on the rooftop, facing the Zhujiang New Town. The sun shines through the space of the new city and hits the screen, which highlights the thin but strong figure of the hero This is a large panoramic shot with a total of 200 frames. It takes 10 hours to calculate each frame, which is a huge amount of calculation.
There is also a scene that shows the lion hair during dance. In one scene, 130 lions are Cai Qing in the finals. Over a thousand spectators are in the scene. The entire lion hair solution counted more than one million. It broke records in the calculations and collisions of soft bodies such as wool materials.
Many professional audiences think that there are few animations with such details, no matter in domestic or international movies in the past. Colleagues have given us special comments on the complexity and realism of the lens.
What do you expect the audience get from the movie?
Halfway through the movie, the audience were already immersed in the move. Tears were filled in their eyes. The movie gained widespread empathy. Everyone forgot that this is an animated movie. They are not only brought into the film by the real environment, this is Guangzhou, this is Foshan, and they also have empathy with the hero’s experience. Everyone seems to have returned to their youth. That is 2005, when the story in the movie occurred. An 18-year-old boy has his own dreams, dignity, and faces all the injustices in life and experiences the hardships of life. In this process, most of life has to go through challenges and break the prejudices from others. We are telling the stories of ordinary people. The heroes, heroines and their friends, even their names, are also very casual. The character image is also fat and thin. The hero is as thin as a girl. This is what we usually live in. In particular, the theme song “Nobody” sung by Mao Diyi at the end of the movie set a fire in the hearts of the audience. They deeply realized that this movie is for ordinary people who work hard.Life is not easy, there are good times and bad times, but the film is to arouse ordinary people’s love for life, have dreams, have friendship, and face the challenges of life difficulties. We have spent a lot of experience in emotional development, including the master in the film who also gave up dreams for life, but when facing the children, he lit up the pursuit of his dream. These are the lives that middle-aged and young people are experiencing right now. We are very pleased that the audience felt the emotion we expressed. Out of the theater, the audience can challenge life again, face the unsatisfactory, and muster the courage to face the dilemma of life. This is what we are particularly happy as creators.
We’ve been through a whirlwind over the last months. Do you feel that there has been a shift in the China Animation industry landscape at all？What’s your opinion of local animation market?
Hope everyone sees the positive side. At present, in the Chinese market, whether it is an animation or a live film, there is already a good foundation for movie-watching. The audience will be able to tolerate the work to a great extent as long as they see the creators’ sincerity and story. .For creators, this is very lucky. Under the epidemic, the box office in 2020 exceeded 20.4 billion, and I think next year will be close to the peak of nearly 70 billion in 2019. This is a good thing. The overall domestic film market continues to grow. Movie audiences still have a demand for movies and are becoming more and more mature. They can accept and appreciate movies of different genres and themes, whether they are commercial genres, science fiction films, or animation. They all have a passion for watching movies. Despite the impact of the epidemic, the overall market is still developing in a positive direction.
The domestic animation film market is in a stage where a hundred flowers bloom. Whether it’s the previous “Monkey King, Hero is Back”, “Big Fish and Begonia”, “Nezha”, “White Snake: Origin”, or bas, whether it is ancient costume, fantasy, or traditional IP creation, or realistic film, the audience can discover its highlights. Our film is not an IP adaptation or an adaptation of an old story. We just want to try to be a film that focuses on the people around us, the ordinary people, the low-level workers, the ordinary people who live a hard life but are constantly struggling, can it also touch everyone ? From the current reputation, this attempt and challenge is a success. But frankly speaking, we did take a difficult road. From a commercial point of view, it’s very risky. To get a good market report, the best way is to adapt the old IP, such as the Four Classics, classic stories such as Shanhaijing. However, our director Sun and the team decided to make bold attempts, take types of innovations and challenges. This challenge is still worthwhile. From film critics to professional audiences, we are also actively encouraging us to expand the possibilities of animation. In response to the audience’s comments, Director Sun said that he hopes to remove the “animation” of animated films, because animation can do a lot of types of exploration. The huge base of Chinese audiences allows us to experiment in genre innovation.
Are there any marked goals or plans for growth you can tell us about for Yi-Animation?
We have already planned with the producer Beijing Cheering Times Culture & Culture & Entertainment and Hualu Baina. In the annual report of Hualu Baina at the beginning of the year, it announced the Juvenile Universe. This is already public information. Beijing Cheering Times Culture & Culture & Entertainment ‘s press conference at the Shanghai Film Festival also conveyed this message. During the 3-year from now, there will be a total of three juvenile series. Follow-ups include “Sword Casting Boy” and “Sun Chasing Boy“. We are all constantly innovating. “I’m What I am” is reatlisc; “Sword Casting Boy” is a costumed martial arts film; and “Sun Chasing Boy” is a sci-fi movie. We hope to challenge the three genres with bold innovations through the three-part series for teenagers. These are very rare in mainstream animation movies. This also shows the determination and confidence of our main creative team. We want to show mainstream movie viewers, young people and middle-aged people to see the Chinese youth today, that is, “I’m What I am“; see the past of Chinese youth, that is, “Sword Casting Boy”; and also see the future of Chinese youth, that’s, “Sun Chasing Boy“. This is our goal for the next three years. I hope everyone can see our determination and confidence. But it always revolves around delivering to ordinary people who have youth dreams in China today, and conveying an emotion that can move them. Just like the producer and p the CEO of Beijing Cheering Times Culture & Culture & Entertainment, Mr. Zhang Miao said, crown young people, crown ordinary people, and sing praises to every ordinary person about their dreams, friendship and life.
Finally, wish the movie “I’m What I am” won a big box office!
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