Framestore is a British animation and visual effects company based on Chancery Lane in London. Formed in 1986, it acquired (and subsequently merged) the Computer Film Company in 1997. The company works across several different areas of the media: feature films, commercials, music videos, feature animation and digital. Framestore employs about 2,500 staff - 1,000 in London, and 1,500 spread across offices in Chicago, New York, Los Angeles, Montreal, Pune in India and Beijing.[1]

IndustryMotion picture special visual effects
HeadquartersUnited Kingdom, United States, Canada
ProductsVisual effects
ParentCultural Investment Holdings 



Framestore was founded in 1986 by Sharon Reed, William Sargent, Jonathan Hills, Mike McGee and Alison Turner.[2] Tim Webber joined Framestore in 1988 and led the company's push into digital film and television, developing Framestore’s virtual camera and motion rig systems. In 1992, Mike Milne started the CGI department, adding computer-generated animation to the company’s range of facilities.[3] The company's work covered award-winning images in commercials, music videos, television graphics and television drama. In 1994 its film visual effects division was set up.

Merger with CFC

In 1997 Framestore acquired the Computer Film Company (CFC), which was one of the UK's first digital film special effects companies, developing technology for digital film scanning, compositing, and output. CFC was founded in London in 1984 by Mike Boudry, Wolfgang Lempp (now CTO at Filmlight) and Neil Harris (Lightworks). CFC's first film was The Fruit Machine, in 1988, which utilised early morphing techniques.[4]

In 2004 Framestore opened their first satellite office in New York City, to focus on advertising.[5] This was followed by another office in Iceland in 2008, which has since been closed and has reopened as a local VFX company, RVX.[6] In 2013 Framestore opened an office in Montreal, followed by another in Los Angeles the same year.[7][8][9] In 2014, it launched a production arm.[10]

Early projects for the company include the delivery of its first feature animation project The Tale of Despereaux with Universal;[11] the completion of Europe's first digital intermediate for the film Chicken Run in 2000;[12] contribution of scenes for the 2009 film Avatar,[13] and the completion as a production project of four British feature films which opened in theatres between during 2009 and 2010.[14]

Acquisition by CIH

In November 2016, Framestore agreed to let the Shanghai-based Cultural Investment Holdings Co acquire 75% of it for £112.50 million.[15] At the time, Framestore had its main base in London Soho, and additional offices in New York, Montreal, and Los Angeles, employing around 1,400 staff. It was also working on projects such as Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them, Beauty and the Beast, and Paddington 2.[16] In April 2017, Framestore opened a third US location, in Chicago, Illinois.[17]

The company also worked on the 2017 film Darkest Hour directed by Joe Wright, working out of the Montreal facility of Framestore to create historically accurate backdrops for 85 shots in the film, including battle scenes.[18]

The team created around 300 shots for the 2017 film Blade Runner 2049, with Framestore winning a special visual effects award at the 2018 British Academy Film Awards.[19]

It also has worked on Black Mirror, creating props such as the 60s-style spaceship in the premiere of the fourth season.[20]

In its current incarnation, Framestore delivers images for feature films, television drama, advertising, console and online games, internet and mobile phone applications, and at one point has been Europe's largest post-production house.


CFC has been awarded two Scientific and Technical Academy Awards, and 14 Primetime Emmys. In 2008, Framestore won their first Oscar for Best Visual Effects for the film The Golden Compass; they also won the BAFTA Award for that film the same year. Framestore was also nominated for Oscars in 2007 (Superman Returns), in 2009 (The Dark Knight) and again in 2010 (Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows – Part 1).

Tim Webber was the VFX supervisor on Gravity (2013), and the techniques involved in the film realised by Webber and the Framestore team took three years to complete.[21] The team won the best visual effects awards BAFTA Award for Best Special Visual Effects at the 67th British Academy Film Awards, and the Academy Award for Best Visual Effects award at the 86th Academy Awards.[22]

In advertising the team has also won major awards including Cannes Lions, British Television Advertising Awards, Clios, D&AD and others.[23]

The company's R&D team spun off to create the technology company Filmlight, which in 2010 received four Scientific Academy Awards.

Advertising and trade characters

Framestore has collaborated with companies and advertising agencies to create trade characters, and also created an attempted photorealistic computer-generated Audrey Hepburn for a Galaxy advert. A combination of elements including body doubles, motion capture, FACS and a lighting program called Arnold were used to mimic the appearance of the actress 20 years after her death. The advert drew press attention both for the cutting edge technology utilized and the ethical implications of using a person's likeness posthumously for commercial purposes. [24][25][26]

Film projects



See also


  1. Thomas, Daniel. "Hollywood's go-to visual effects company". BBC News. Retrieved 10 November 2019.
  2. "CGI (computer-generated imagery) in Movies". Hollywood Lexicon. Retrieved 11 November 2019.
  3. "Lifetime Achievement Award". Royal Television Society. Retrieved 11 November 2019.
  4. Rickitt, Richard (2000). Special Effects: The History and Technique. London: Virgin Publishing. ISBN 0-8230-7733-0
  5. Filer, Joey. "Interview with Framestore President James Razzall". Reel Chicago. Retrieved 11 November 2019.
  6. "Biography of Dadi Einarsson". Barcelona International Arts & VFX Fair 2019. Retrieved 11 November 2019.
  7. Kelly, Brendan. "Framestore's visual effects won an Oscar, built a Montreal home base". Montreal Gazette. Retrieved 10 November 2019.
  8. Canadienne, Presse. "Visual-effects studio Framestore to add 150 jobs in Montreal". Montreal Gazette. Retrieved 10 November 2019.
  9. Christiansen, Mark. "Framestore Los Angeles". Insider. Retrieved 10 November 2019.
  10. Dawtrey, Adam; Dawtrey, Adam (13 March 2006). "Framestore launches prod'n arm". Variety. Retrieved 18 March 2019.
  11. Desowitz, Bill. "Building a Better Mousetrap for 'Despereaux'". Animation World Network. Retrieved 11 November 2019.
  12. Bosley, Rachael K. "A Model Thriller". American Cinematographer. Retrieved 11 November 2019.
  13. Frei, Vincent. "AVATAR: Jonathan Fawkner,VFX Supervisor, Framestore". Art of VFX. Retrieved 11 November 2019.
  14. McCarthy, Todd. "Me and Orson Welles". Variety Magazine. Retrieved 11 November 2019.
  15. Kollewe, Julia (3 November 2016). "Harry Potter special effects firm looks east with sale to China group". The Guardian. ISSN 0261-3077. Retrieved 4 November 2016.
  16. Failes, Ian (3 November 2016). "'Gravity,' 'Dr. Strange' VFX Studio Framestore Bought by Chinese Firm". CartoonBrew. Retrieved 3 November 2016.
  17. O'Brien, Kyle (27 April 2017). "Framestore opening third US location in Chicago". TheDrum. Retrieved 28 February 2018.
  18. Williams, Eliza (2 February 2018). "Film Week: How Framestore Recreated History in Darkest Hour". Creative Review. Retrieved 28 February 2018.
  19. McLean, Tom (20 February 2018). "Framestore Celebrates BAFTA VFX win for 'Blade Runner 2049'". AWN. Retrieved 28 February 2018.
  20. Harris, Miriam (4 January 2018). "How Framestore created the 60s-style spaceship in Black Mirror Season 4, Episode 1". Digital Arts Online. Retrieved 3 November 2016.
  21. "Tim Webber: the man who put Sandra Bullock in space". Evening Standard. Retrieved 17 January 2014
  22. Jackson, Alex. "Gravity's Oscar-Winning Visual Effects Mastermind Talks about Computer Graphics and "Weightlessness"". Nature SoapBox Science. Retrieved 9 March 2014.
  23. Milligan, Mercedes. "Framestore Opens 3rd US Shop in Chicago". Animation Magazine. Retrieved 10 November 2019.
  24. Walton, Mark (28 April 2016). "From Paintbox to PC: How London became the home of Hollywood VFX". Ars Technica. Retrieved 18 March 2019.
  25. "Performance anxiety". The Economist. 5 July 2018. ISSN 0013-0613. Retrieved 18 March 2019.
  26. Ellis-Petersen, Hannah (10 April 2015). "Bruce Lee, Audrey Hepburn and the ethics of digital necromancy". The Guardian. ISSN 0261-3077. Retrieved 18 March 2019.
  27. "Coca-Cola - Press Center - Press Kits - "Coke Cheers" And Boys & Girls Clubs Of America". Retrieved 2 October 2012.

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