Shanghai: Lightchaser Seeks More Chinese Animation Talent

There is huge potential market for animation films in China. But Chinese companies are struggling to make the content to fulfill that demand, said Lightchaser Animation Studios’ co-founder Yuan Ye in Shanghai. 

“Although animation education in China has improved, when it comes to character effects or other technical skills, they don’t teach any of it in universities — you can only learn it on the job in a company environment,” he said at a panel on talent development Friday at the Shanghai International Film Festival.  While there are many fresh graduates in the field, even those with stronger technical abilities don’t always have the artistic chops to create animated features.

His firm set up structures to fill this gap from the get-go, establishing an internal talent-development system that attempts to turn fresh-faced graduates and inexperienced individuals into professionals with the skills needed to work on Lightchaser’s feature films, which the studio has delivered consistently at the rate of one a year since 2016.

Its office campus has libraries, mentor programs, lectures from high-level practitioners and other kinds of exchange. “We’ve made our company like an extension of college,” said Yuan. “For an animation company hoping to put out a consistent pipeline of films, this sort of in-house talent pool is a necessity.”

Popular on Variety

Though it’s a costly, long-term investment, Lightchaser’s model has allowed it to put out animated features with a third of the manpower and less than a tenth of the budget of Hollywood titles. Its first feature, 2016’s “Little Door Gods,” cost just $11 million, and its January 2019 feature, “White Snake,” cost $12 million — a drop in the bucket compared with “Kung Fu Panda 3’s” reported $142 million budget, or the $146 million cost of “Zootopia” and $152 million cost of “Toy Story 3.” Quality, though, is not yet on a par.

In the U.S., animated titles make up a stable 15% of the country’s total box office, but in China the score is far lower. “The market is huge, but the need for talent is also extremely large. We hope to have people who truly love cinema join us and switch over to the CG and animated film track,” said Yuan.

More Film

  • Ride Like A Girl

    Australia Box Office Drops 2% in 2019

    Cinema box office in Australia dipped by 2% in 2019 to an annual total of A$1.23 billion, or $841 million, according to data from the Motion Picture Distributors Association of Australia. That was the country’s third highest figure in local currency terms, but it also shows the theatrical industry to be rangebound since 2015. Australian-made [...]

  • Harvey WeinsteinHarvey Weinstein court hearing, New

    Hairdresser Will Be Star Witness at Weinstein Trial

    She was raised on a dairy farm in Washington state. She left home as a teenager, fleeing a troubled childhood. At 25, she came to Los Angeles to become an actress. She went on auditions, got cast in a few commercials — but nothing much beyond that. In recent years, her primary job was cutting [...]

  • Jack Kehoe dead

    Jack Kehoe, 'Serpico' and 'Midnight Run' Actor, Dies at 85

    Jack Kehoe, best known for his roles in the Al Pacino-led crime drama “Serpico” and “Midnight Run,” died on Jan. 10 at a nursing home in Los Angeles. He was 85. The actor suffered a debilitating stroke in 2015, which left him inactive in recent years. Kehoe also appeared in several Academy Award-winning films during [...]

  • The Last Full Measure

    'The Last Full Measure': Film Review

    The story of William Pitsenbarger, a U.S. Air Force Pararescue medic who risked his life in Vietnam to aid his comrades, as well as the decades-later efforts of fellow vets to see him posthumously awarded the Medal of Honor, is undeniably moving — which goes a long way toward explaining how Todd Robinson enlisted an [...]

  • The Grand Grandmaster

    Hong Kong and China Box Office to Take Separate Directions at Chinese New Year

    In the more than six months that protest movements have rocked Hong Kong, a whole range of business sectors have become color-coded, as both Beijing-loyal blue elements and yellow pro-democracy forces have weaponized the economy. Companies on the front line include leading bank HSBC, airline Cathay Pacific and even the subway operator MTRC. Effects range [...]

  • Parasite

    'Parasite' Puts Modern Spin on Film's Long History of Haves vs Have-Nots

    Every filmmaker hopes to make a good movie, but sometimes the impact is bigger than expected. Neon’s “Parasite” is one example of a 2019 film hitting a nerve. Writer-director Bong Joon Ho’s film has been praised for its originality and daring shifts in tone. It also has resonance due to its subject matter: the gap [...]

  • 1917 Movie

    How the '1917' Special Effects Makeup Team Created Realistic Dead Bodies

    Prior to working on “1917,” special effects artist Tristan Versluis had designed no more than five or six corpses. But Sam Mendes, director of the WWI drama, which has garnered 10 Oscar nominations, needed Versluis, who picked up one of those noms in the hair and makeup category, to create 30 corpses and dead horses, [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content