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Interview

SHIN Dae-yong and SHIM Sang-jong, Head of Departments at VFX and new media studio 4th Creative Party

Apr 07, 2019
  • Writerby KIM Su-bin
  • View813
“The formats we have already created are not new media anymore.”


Behind Okja, The Tiger (2015) and The Host (2006), which all made headlines for their visual effects, stands 4th Creative Party. The studio, founded in 2009 by key members of VFX house EON, has been under the spotlight for its contribution to Okja, which was shortlisted for the visual effects Oscar, and for securing a KRW 22 billion (USD 19.4 million) investment from video game company NCsoft. As 4th Creative Party is now branching out from visual effects to animation and new media, we met SHIN Dae-young, Head of the Visual Effects Department, and SHIM Sang-jong, Head of the New Media Department, the latter of which has recently launched the 100-seat VR simulator Across Dark.

SHIN Dae-yong, Head of VFX Department and VFX Supervisor


For which movies are you currently producing visual effects?
Not long ago, we completed work on Hong Kong film The Rookies, starring Darren WANG and Milla JOVOVICH, and TV series Item for MBC (a Korean TV network). Now we are working on YEON Sang-ho’s Peninsula (translated title), Jackie CHAN’s The Diary and Stephen CHOW’s The Mermaid 2, and then there is also a Netflix Original series, a Full 3D and 8K film for the Flying Theaters of Wanda Movie Parks in China, and cinematic videos for a video game from NCsoft.

You’re known not only for your work in films but also in several other media.
That’s right. Today, visual effects technologies are no longer limited to cinema, they are applied to a variety of platforms and content. For more than five years, 4th Creative Party has been pursuing diverse projects based on our VFX production pipeline, under our three businesses fields that are film VFX, new media and animation. Building on this experience, we are making organic and effective modifications to our pipeline in order to adapt it to the changes in the media industry. For the Netflix Original film Okja in particular, we established a 4K production pipeline.


With which film would you say 4th Creative Party made its mark as a visual effects company?
We have worked on much-talked-about films such as Old Boy (2003), Thirst (2009), Assassination (2015), Snowpiercer (2013) and The Handmaiden (2016), but I still think that the quality of the CG creature in The Tiger (2015) went a long way into making 4th Creative Party’s name known abroad. As China’s VFX market has grown in recent years, we’ve been receiving more offers to participate in Chinese projects. Rather than pursuing a reckless expansion to win more contracts, we opted to ensure more internal stability and then establish a foothold for our expansion into the Chinese market.

Okja was one of the ten movies that made the shortlist for the Best Visual Effect of the 90th Academy Awards.
Even though we have received accolades from the Asian Film Awards and the Taipei Golden Horse Film Festival in the past, being shortlisted for a Best Visual Effect Oscar was on a totally different level. It was made all the more significant by the fact that it was the first time that a VFX studio from Asia was nominated, as well as it being a mark of recognition of our technological skills coming from the US, the mainland of visual effects. This has compelled us to do better and gave us the resolve to try making it into the final five nominees next time.

SHIM Sang-jong, Head of New Media Department and Chief Producer


You have just opened in March the 100-seat VR simulator Across Dark, which was developed to mark the 30th anniversary of amusement park Lotte World.
We were pushing forward in 2016 with several projects to introduce VR attractions into Lotte World, and since 4th Creative Party was in a situation where it had acquired the planning skills and the technology, it was a smooth sailing. Something we bear in mind when we develop a project is that it must be exportable to other countries and adaptable to similar fields of business. Across Dark is a VR production that combines different elements, a virtual reality ride and a high-resolution live action VR film. In terms of story too, we decided to offer a new narrative experience, for instance by creating two endings.

How was the response from the visitors who experienced it?
It hasn’t been long since we opened it, but the response from the visitors has been rather good. It is apparently a new experience for them. Other VR films use a format focusing on personal experiences that are enjoyed by individuals wearing HMDs (Head-Mounted Displays), but to suit the nature of the spaces we call theme parks, Across Dark was produced as a 3D film that can be watched by a large number, so that the visitors can all watch the same piece of VR content. We also completely changed the spatial design of the simulator that was already there in Lotte World to fit the concept of the film, and we exhibit in the real space of the attraction some of the objects that appear in the film, so the visitors can experience the story right from the moment they enter. It seems we received good reviews for the combination of these differentiating elements and our attention to detail.


Didn’t you have any trouble producing it?
The most complicate part was producing the CG and VFX elements of the filmed footage. To make a VR video in high resolution, we collaborated with Practical Magic, a studio specialized in Hollywood productions. Practical Magic is the team that conducted the filming of Help, an SF blockbuster VR film from Star Trek Beyond director Justin LIN, so we had a good collaboration filming in high definition VR.

Beyond Across Dark, I’ve heard that 4th Creative Party is continuously developing new media content.
The biggest characteristic of new media and special effects content is that it allows for screenings that go beyond the usual screens or TVs. It’s not just about producing a video for a determined screen, we create films that can construct a space with video content, films that allow the audience to experience themselves what happens on the screen. The formats and films we have already created are not new media anymore. We want to find new combinations with other media and constantly design and develop new content to keep up with the trends and the changes in the market.
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