MACEDONIA'S SPECIAL MOVIE EFFECTS
These days major film producers use so many effects in their movies that they have to outsource much of the work from places like Eastern Europe and the Balkans.
The Republic of Macedonia is a nice place to shoot a movie, and there is no shortage of companies there whose sights are set on coaxing business out of Hollywood. They are not, however, so interested in touting the republic as a filming location.
Instead, the scenery they are looking to sell comes directly out of a computer. So seamless are digitally generated effects these days that they are difficult for film producers to resist. The pixel is replacing the panorama, as faking it becomes cheaper and easier than the real thing.
The increased demand means that media companies in developing countries like Macedonia are getting the chance to have a hand in Hollywood blockbusters. Film producers in the US are looking to outsource the more labour-intensive animation projects.
One scene from The Aviator was filmed in a giant studio, and Macedonia's FX3X was given the job of converting the green backdrop into the harbour where Howard Hughes' Spruce Goose performed its maiden, and only, flight. Miso Ristov, visual FX supervisor at FX3X, told Click Online: "Basically everything was shot handheld or stuck on some cranes. First we had to track the footage and then blend with the background and make a seamless blend.
"You have to do it manually, frame by frame, so we spent two and a half months for probably a couple of minutes of footage. "We worked 15 hours a day, maybe. No sleep, no seeing your girlfriend, no stuff like that."
Buoyed by some initial successes, a number of companies are hoping to club together to tout Macedonia as a new media hub.
But not all the country's talent is training at home. One rising star, Ana Nikolovska, is flying to the US on an animation scholarship. Her success abroad will no doubt fuel the enthusiasm at home for animation and special effects. She says: "There is a growing interest in 3D animation in Macedonia and it is becoming very popular, especially these last two years.
Hollywood is fond of rags to riches stories, and the Republic of Macedonia may well fit the script. Many here hope that the country's enthusiasm for new media could make it a future player in the digital dream factory.
MD: Cool, that's great, we never knew that!