Saturday, April 14, 2007

Green eggs

Monday 19th March
Today we had a whirlwind tour organised by the British Council of some of the top CGI and broadcasting companies in HK.
Menfond Electronic Art and Computer Design was our first destination. Entering the labyrinth of shopping malls that is underneath Menfond offices, we meet up with a delegation from CanadaUS who are going to join us on our tour. Ken Bautista from Rocket Fuel, Tom Dodd of Fision Media Group and a delegation from the BANFF Centre.

MEA is owned by Victor and Eddy Wong. Victor studied computer art in the US and Eddy fineBeijing. Their company has produced the SFX for Pirates of the Caribbean 3, Die Hard IV, Ultra Violet and lots of battle scenes for Chinese films. Due to the shortage of skilled animator in the APAC region the company set up their own training course.

It is the first time that I have seen behind the scenes of an animation/CGI SFX studio. I was reminded of my days as a photographic printer. Where you spent all day in subdued light not knowing what time of day it was. These guys (yes hardly any women) sit in near darkness all day looking at a computer screen. Painstakingly adding for example 1000’s of arrows into a battle scene when the original footage shows half a dozen. Each VDU has been customized by the operator with asian style toys and mascots. I really wanted to take a photo but we were forbidden as much of the work is highly confidential and I would get shot – in a CGI kind of way with arrows, ‘Flying Daggers’ style!

Next stop was the Hong Kong Design Centre. The asian equivilant of the Design Council in the UK. Therer current display was for the Design Awards for Asia.

For lunch we are taken to the famous and oldest restaurant in HK Yung Kee.
It is only when the first of about 12 courses (I lost count) arrives that
we discover what it is famous for; a very tasty roasted goose but not so edible are the 1000 year old eggs.

Various suggestions are given for what is used to age the eggs and we conclude either urine or a man made chemical. The revolving table comes in very useful when I spot them heading towards me.

Next stop on our tour is to a cable
TV company owned by a couple of guys in the 60’s.

More exchanging of business cards, will I have enough to last the whole trip?
Robert Chua pioneered Hong Kong's first terrestrial TV station in 1967 as one of the first executive producers at Television Broadcasts (TVB,) now HK's dominant TV station and a powerhouse in Southern China. In 1979 his company became the first media business to sell foreign TV advertising directly into China. In 2004 he founded Asia first 24 hours interactive channel (TIC) and test broadcast over Hong Kong CableTV with 680,000 households.

When we arrive they are in the middle of a live broadcast called Home Away From Home for Philipino viewers. Stef pretends to be a viewer and posts an sms comment to the show

Ken the wannabe presenter sits in the hotseat.