Meet the Studio: Light Chaser Animation

To meet the growing demand for family entertainment in the burgeoning, billion-dollar Chinese film market, Beijing-based studio Light Chaser Animation specializes in creating original animated feature films for domestic audiences. Founded in 2013 by famed Internet entrepreneur Gary Wang, founder of the Tudou video-sharing platform, the studio recently released its fourth feature film “The White Snake,” a fantasy adventure tale with a production budget of $12M that has earned $50M in box office returns. With a fifth feature film currently in development and a rigorous production schedule, Light Chaser depends on the flexibility, reliability and powerful toolset in ShotGrid for production management, tracking and collaboration.

Wang established Light Chaser as a world-class production studio with aspirations to radically impact the Chinese animation market, and ambitious goals to develop a premiere animation pipeline and deliver the studio’s first full-length feature within two and a half years. The aggressive timeline presented Pipeline Supervisor Lu Liu with the challenge of developing the studio’s pipeline within the stringent timeframe of six months. Having previously used ShotGrid and feeling confident in his ability to quickly iterate on the platform and customize tools tailored to the facility’s needs, Liu selected it as the backbone for Light Chaser. “It’s the most popular production management solution in the market, and features like the ShotGrid Toolkit provided me with a solid framework for rapidly developing in-house pipeline tools, saving my team a lot of time,” noted Liu.

Light Chaser employs a team of approximately 170, and from artists to producers, almost all of them are using ShotGrid. “It’s the spine of our pipeline,” said Lu, “ShotGrid provides a platform for artists to conveniently share data without any restrictions, and the review process creates an efficient chain of communication between artists and directors.”

In-house, Light Chaser’s team uses digital content creation tools including Autodesk Maya and the Foundry’s Mari, Nuke and Katana. Light Chaser TD Lead Kong Ying Je developed a custom plug-in that provides ShotGrid Toolkit integration for Katana for lighting and look development. The plug-in was later released to the public by The Foundry and Rodeo FX.

For tracking assets in complex shots, Lu devised a method to simplify viewing in ShotGrid’s RV media player. During the asset creation process, he assigned a unique RGB color ID for each asset in the project. Whenever assets are laid out and animated, the render process creates an additional video playblast layer that includes the color ID information to identify each asset. “When played back in RV, the playblast effectively works as an extra layer of video that shows each asset’s name when you hover your cursor over it,” said Lu.

Additional ShotGrid features of particular value for Light Chaser’s animated feature are the Event Daemon, which automatically triggers a series of complex processes for sorting and managing all actions done in ShotGrid. Custom formatting within the ShotGrid database also enables the team to color code versions and include detailed information about shots and sequences within a single screen, making all notes and project information easily accessible.

Light Chaser’s upcoming animated feature will transport ancient Chinese fairy tale characters to the modern world. For more information, visit: