Australia is famed for many things, including an abundance of natural wonders and the friendliness of its people, but did you know this country has also become a thriving international hub for VFX production?
Indeed, studios in Australia are now considered to be on par with the world, matching or exceeding the VFX standards and capabilities of any other prominent locations, embracing and helping to develop the latest technologies used in the entertainment industries. What’s more, there’s a deep understanding that luring major productions Down Under is well worth the effort.
Along with the growing reputation as a major VFX hub, international projects and productions are enticed by the supportive environment and economy, including significant grants and rebates for every Australian dollar spent. Such incentives have contributed to a thriving VFX industry, both for the video games and movie segments of entertainment.
Cinematic visual effects
Next time you’re sitting munching popcorn and watching the latest blockbuster movie, you’re likely to be drawn into the screen by captivating visual effects, particularly now that most productions are heavily reliant on CGI animations and high-definition VFX components. When you reach the end credits, take a moment to look at the names and locations of VFX studios involved, as many of them are based in Australia.
Industrial Light & Magic (ILM) is famed as one of the greatest VFX pioneers in cinema, and while the company was founded by George Lucas while producing Star Wars, they now have a major studio base in Sydney, Australia, since 2019. In fact, this is home to one of the main ILM StageCraft LED volumes, which totally innovates how actors engage with visual surroundings throughout production.
This highlights the growing trend of VFX investment heading Down Under, highlighted in 2021 when Xentrix Studios launched a new studio in Australia, having acquired Viskatoons based in Melbourne. They were already one of the most established Australian animation studios, dating back more than 30 years. Now the company employs more than 1,400 staff and boasts clients like Marvel, Disney, and Warner Brothers among many others.
Remember all those mind-bending sequences in the Doctor Strange movies? Well, visuals both the original 2016 release and the 2022 Multiverse sequel were developed by Australian studios. What’s more, it’s not just the VFX arms of the big studios like Disney or Marvel that undertook this work, but also various individual studios and contracted VFX freelancers, and there’s a plethora of those here in Australia.
Engaging games animations
Thanks to the increased graphics capabilities of modern PCs, consoles and mobile devices, video games now feature some of the most outstanding digital animations. These can include photo-realistic imagery of characters and environments, all rendered in high definition and with remarkable detail, capturing the attention of gamers and keeping them glued to their screens.
As one of the biggest niches for gaming activity, online casinos in Australia continually need to engage and entertain their audience. Many card games like blackjack and poker now feature animated player avatars and dealers, and roulette games have intricately detailed visuals. Meanwhile, the spinning reels of pokies utilise the latest VFX innovations, bringing much greater diversity and variety to this classic gaming experience.
Visual fidelity and engagement is important for Australian game studios. Animations need to be highly detailed and accurate, particularly for sports games that have become the hallmark of Big Ant Studios in Melbourne. They are making waves in the AAA sports arena, especially with their titles focusing on tennis, rugby, cricket, and of course, Aussie rules footy.
Then we have novel ideas like Fruit Ninja, which became a massive global success for Halfbrick Studios in Brisbane, who designed a visually captivating mobile game about chopping up fruit. Released in 2010, the slice-and-dice game reached one billion downloads by 2015, and still remains phenomenally popular today.
Merging entertainment sectors
Although movies and games might seem like two completely different industries, they have increasingly merged over the last couple of decades, and that has become notable at many of the leading Aussie VFX studios. Flexible to the needs of each distinct audience, they have evolved to serve the needs of both, often working on cinematic effects and game animation projects at the same time.
This adaptability and vast experience in both is what puts Australia on the global VFX map, alongside the highly supportive attitude and working environment provided by the country itself. So, the next time you’re thoroughly enjoying some of the most innovative visuals on your screen, remember, there will have been some exceptionally gifted people Down Under working on them, all for your viewing pleasure and enjoyment.