Rhythm and Hues Studios

Rhythm & Hues Studios is an American visual effects and animation company that received the Academy Award for Best Visual Effects in 1995 for Babe, in 2008 for The Golden Compass, and in 2013 for Life of Pi. It has also received four Scientific and Technical Academy Awards.[2]

Rhythm & Hues Studios
IndustryVisual effects, CGI animation
FoundedNovember 1, 1987 (1987-11-01)
HeadquartersLos Angeles, California, United States[1]
Number of locations
United States, India, Canada

The company filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy in early 2013. It was then purchased by an affiliate of Prana Studios, 34x118 Holdings, LLC a few months later, but retained the same name.



Rhythm & Hues Studios was established in Los Angeles, California in 1987 by former employees of Robert Abel and Associates (John Hughes, Pauline Ts'o, Keith Goldfarb, Cliff Boule, Frank Wuts and Charles Gibson).[3] The company uses its own proprietary software for its photo-realistic character animation/visual effects—as well as for those that are more stylized.

In 1999, Rhythm & Hues Studios acquired visual effects house VIFX from 20th Century Fox.[4]

By 2012, the company had become a global one, with offices and artists in India (the Mumbai suburb of Malad and HITEC City which is a part of Hyderabad), Malaysia (Cyberjaya just outside Kuala Lumpur), Canada (Vancouver), and Taiwan (Kaohsiung).[5][6][7][8][9][10]


Director Ang Lee approached Rhythm & Hues in August 2009 to discuss a planned film adaptation of the fantasy novel Life of Pi.[11][12] R&H VFX (Visual Effects) Supervisor Bill Westenhofer noted that Lee "knew we had done the lion in the first Narnia movie. He asked, 'Does a digital character look more or less real in 3D?' We looked at each other and thought that was a pretty good question."[13] He also stated that during these meetings, Lee said, "‘I look forward to making art with you.’ This was really for me one of the most rewarding things I’ve worked on and the first chance to really combine art with VFX. Every shot was artistic exploration, to make the ocean a character and make it interesting we had to strive to make it as visually stunning as possible."[14]

Rhythm & Hues spent a year on research and development, "building upon its already vast knowledge of CG animation" to develop the tiger.[15] Artist Abdul Rahman in the Malaysian branch underscored the global nature of the effects process, saying that "the special thing about Life of Pi is that it was the first time we did something called remote rendering, where we engaged our cloud infrastructure in Taiwan called CAVE (Cloud Animation and Visual Effects)".[16]

The resulting film, Life of Pi, was released in theaters in November 2012, and was a critical and commercial success. The British Film Institute's Sight & Sound magazine suggested that, "Life of Pi can be seen as the film Rhythm & Hues has been building up to all these years, by taking things they learned from each production from Cats & Dogs to Yogi Bear, integrating their animals in different situations and environments, pushing them to do more, and understanding how all of this can succeed both visually and dramatically."[17]

On February 11, 2013, Rhythm & Hues Studios filed for bankruptcy under Chapter 11, three months after Life of Pi was released.[18] Around 254 people were laid off at that time.[19] This led to a demonstration of nearly 500 VFX artists who protested outside of the 2013 Academy Awards, as Rhythm & Hues was nominated for an Oscar (which it won) for Life of Pi.[20] Inside, during the Oscars, when R&H visual effects supervisor Bill Westenhofer brought up R&H during his acceptance speech for Life of Pi, the microphone was cut off as the music of Jaws slowly took over.[21] This started an uproar among many visual effects industry professionals, changing profile pictures on social media such as Facebook and Twitter to show the green key color, in order to raise awareness of general negative trends in the effects industry.[22] In addition, director Ang Lee was heavily criticized by the community for not acknowledging their work in the effects-laden film in his acceptance speech, despite thanking many other people,[23] and for earlier having complained about the costs of visual effects.[23][24]

On March 29, an affiliate of Prana Studios, 34x118 Holdings, LLC won the bidding on Rhythm and Hues in a bankruptcy auction.[25] The sale was "valued at about $30 million".[26]

Selected filmography



    Academy Award for Best Visual Effects

    BAFTA Award for Best Special Visual Effects

    Further reading and viewing


    1. https://www.linkedin.com/company/rhythm-&-hues/
    2. Prana Studios Buys Bankrupt 'Life of Pi' VFX House Rhythm & Hues
    3. Rhythm & Hues Looks to Finish ‘Seventh Son’
    4. The Hollywood Reporter (1999-03-03). "Rhythm & Hues Rounds Up Vifx". AllBusiness.com. Archived from the original on 2015-11-07. Retrieved 2010-12-14.
    5. A Glimpse of Rhythm & Hues (Asian Facilities) Work on Ang Lee's Masterpiece, 'Life of Pi.' "
    6. Making of Life of Pi: In Conversation with R&H Archived 2013-06-09 at the Wayback Machine
    7. Rhythm & Hues Taps NVIDIA Technology for Life of Pi. Animation World Network, November 26, 2012
    8. A First Mate Bares His Fangs: Creating a Tiger for ‘Life of Pi’. The New York Times, November 16, 2012
    9. Rhythm & Hues Makes Skies Soar, Computer Graphics World, November 27, 2012
    10. Malaysian team behind special effects for Life of Pi and Snow White movies Archived 2013-01-12 at the Wayback Machine
    11. 'Life of Pi's' digital magic. Los Angeles Times, January 18, 2013
    12. EXCLUSIVE: Life of Pi's Stunning Effects. The Daily (News Corporation), November 26, 2012
    13. {|date=May 2019 |bot=InternetArchiveBot |fix-attempted=yes }}. Chicago Tribune, December 12, 2012
    14. "Life of Pi: a tiger's tale", Fxguide, November 26, 2012
    15. Vfx team dares to take tiger by the tail. Variety (magazine), December 15, 2012
    16. "Local touch to Life Of Pi" Archived 2013-04-02 at the Wayback Machine, New Straits Times, November 26, 2012
    17. Video essay: The animal menagerie of Rhythm and Hues". British Film Institute's Sight & Sound magazine, December 21, 2012
    18. Variety (2013-02-12). "Rhythm & Hues bankruptcy reveals vfx biz crisis". Variety. Retrieved 2013-02-13.
    19. Rhythm & Hues gets $17 mil loan from Universal, Fox
    20. [VFX protest at Oscars: images from the picket line + audio interview http://www.fxguide.com/quicktakes/visualeffectsprotestatoscars/]
    21. "Biggest Oscars snub: A shark attack on the VFX industry". The San Francisco Chronicle.
    22. http://www.hitfix.com/motion-captured/the-visual-effects-community-sees-red-in-the-wake-of-oscar-protest-and-on-air-snub/2
    23. Pulver, Andrew (February 26, 2013). "Ang Lee under fire from visual effects artists over Life of Pi speech". London: The Guardian.
    24. Giardina, Carolyn. "Oscars 2013: VFX Artists Blast 'Disgraceful' TV Moments". The Hollywood Reporter.
    25. "Two-Day Roller Coaster Ends Delivers L.A. VFX Studio to Indian Owners". Variety, March 28, 2013.
    26. "Rhythm & Hues finalizes sale to Prana Studios". Los Angeles Times, March 29, 2013.
    27. NEWS/ Life of Pi Wins Best Visual Effects Oscar
    28. Best Visual Effects
    29. BAFTA 2013 Winners
    30. BAFTA 2007 Winners
    31. Revealing ‘Rhythm & Hues: Life After Pi’ Doc Exposes Grief, Anger and Troubled Business (Video)
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