Coppola calls on Czech mates

Case Study: UPP

During the 1960s Vit Komrzy was studying to be an architect and mucking about with video art and animation as a hobby. Then came the Prague Spring, and Komrzy, like so many Czechs, decided to change the direction of his life. Leaving any thought of architecture behind, Komrzy opted for a life in special effects.

In 1994, Komrzy set up Universal Production Partners (UPP), which has since gone from strength to strength. Last year, UPP worked on Francis Ford Coppola’s return to cinema, “Youth Without Youth.” This year, it is taking care of effects work on several international projects, including Tom Tykwer’s Sony-produced global thriller “The International” and the Scott Free-produced TV miniseries “The Andromeda Strain.”

UPP specializes in digital matte paintings, bluescreen work and compositing, and has a very good 3-D modeling and animation setup. Komrzy is expecting to deliver 500 visual effects shots for “The International” by the time post-production has ended next June.

“The big part is the 3-D matte paintings of New York’s Guggenheim Museum, because a lot of the story takes place there,” Komrzy says. “Most of the effects will be to make and visualize a model of the Guggenheim, both interior and exterior, and then combine it with the real thing.”

Komrzy’s company, which came to prominence in 1999 with its special effects for “The Talented Mr. Ripley,” now employs a permanent staff of 65.

“I think the main attraction of UPP is our flexibility and the local talent we employ,” says Komrzy, who is able to draw on a well of artists from the Czech Republic’s three film schools. “I think that’s why we have the chance to be competitive in a global market.”

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